Upon first discovering the abandoned, wide-eyed little infant, the old whore cackled out loud, “Oh how delicious”.
And so Delisha was named, and temporarily adopted by the “ladies” of the Purple Seagull, a sleazy brothel tavern, rotting deep within the slums of Port Slather.
Delisha’s childhood was that of the typical homeless waif, who survived on the murderous, harbor streets in the City of Despair…hard and ruthless and cruel.
The shadows became young Delisha’s only friends… the darkness of the night her security blanket. Like the other homeless street urchins, she grew up stealing simply to stay alive… learning when to run and where to hide… how to slip silently into the shadows to avoid a fight… when to use her innocent little smile to hypnotize the fancy Ladies… while her nimble fingers emptied their expensive purses.
And like all those who live on the streets, Delisha matured quickly, learning that men too were easily charmed by her innocent, wide-eyed smile and developing young body. Throughout her teenage years she survived and prospered using her thieving skills in combination with her female wiles.
Yet, Delisha dreamed for a life of high adventure… fascinated by the sailors’ tall tales of strange and exotic places, filled with mystery and splendor. Her vision was to put Port Slather and all its low-life degenerates behind her…to leave this god-forsaken little hellhole forever and become a wandering minstrel… far away from Port Slather’s filthy walls and disease ridden streets.
For Delisha loved to sing…her deep, melancholy voice could bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened brigand. Many said the sad ballads she wrote were an open window to her tortured soul.
True to her dream, upon reaching her twenty-first birthday, Delisha abandoned her life of thievery and prostitution to begin her new life as a Bard… leaving the City of Despair far behind… seeking her destiny… off to discover the world in all its wonder!
Zack grew up an only child in the small, farming village of Oakdale, and from the time he could walk, his days were spent helping his father in the family’s blacksmith shop. Whether hauling the heavy buckets of cooling water, pumping the belching bellows or pounding the white-hot steel into shape, the long hours of hard work sculpted Zack’s growing young body into rock hard muscle.
Only on the Sabbath was Zack free from his daily hard labor… his mother involved with the ladies of the Church and his father always off with the other village elders attending some meeting or another. Almost all Zack’s free time was spent with his two best friends Ernest Taylor and Bertram Bodane, hunting in the heavily wooded forests or fishing in the clear fresh streams surrounding Oakdale.
By age eighteen, Zack and his friends were all tired of this boring little village, ready for some high adventure, eager to explore the world! As fate would have it, war broke out and Zack and his friends were drafted into the King’s Army.
All through basic training, daydreams of grandeur filled the young boys heads. The three of them conquering the evil hordes, rescuing the fair maidens and returning home heroes, their pockets filled to the brim with gold and untold treasures.
Their first assignment seemed easy enough, simply escort a caravan of much needed supplies to Fort Anders and return. Twenty-five young recruits, two seasoned Sergeants and the Company Commander marching west to meet their destiny… little knowing that this day… destiny rides the dark stallion of death!
Just before sunset, the second day of their virgin journey, the lead scout reported a lone, dark rider approaching quickly from west. Squinting into the dusty sun, the Commander ordered a dozen troops to go forth and intercept the intruder.
Zack would have been with that first group of interceptors, but for a lucky twist of fate… his horse pulling up lame at the last moment. Quickly dismounting to investigate the mounts injury, Zack suddenly heard bloodcurdling screams of pain and death sending a shiver of cold fear racing down his spine. Quickly looking up, Zack’s eyes went wide as he witnessed the slaughter first hand…
Like a spotlight from hell, the last remaining rays of sunlight highlighted the massive, blood-soaked, ebony blade as it swept back and forth, back and forth, harvesting Zack’s young companions like wheat before a hungry scythe.
Yet Zack had no time to even comprehend what was happening before the dark rider conjured up a fireball and loosed it upon the unsuspecting caravan.
Once again, it was only luck that saved young Zackariah's life. In total panic his horse bolted, slipped, then fell over on top of the boy, slamming him face down into a mud filled ditch. The ensuing explosion from the Dark One’s fireball blew the horse that was smothering him, to the other side of the road.
Like a drowning man, Zack pulled himself up out of the slimy mud gasping for life-giving oxygen. But it was not fresh air he breathed deeply into his bursting lungs, but rather the horrific stench of burning, roasted flesh.
Zack gagged and retched over and over and over, for what seemed like an eternity, until finally he stopped long enough to wipe the mud off his face and take a look around.
His eyes went wide with horror, and then tightly closed… trying to block out the ghastly panorama of death and carnage, but it was too late. Zack’s innocent young mind snapped like a dried twig under a heavy boot.
Leaping up out of the mud, laughing uncontrollably, Zack began dancing on top of his fallen comrades, slipping and sliding in the blood and gore. Like a puppet in a gale force wind, his body flailed and twisted, jumped and jerked until finally, exhausted, he slipped and fell on his back weeping like a baby.
The BlackGuard paused for a moment, sliding his wet, ebony blade back into its rune-covered scabbard. An evil grin parted the Dark One’s unholy lips and he reached down, slowly pushing a single finger deep into the young boys chest, touching Zack’s very heart with the darkest of darkness.
Some say Zackariah's scream of agony was heard over ten miles away.
More than a month passed before the young boy regained consciousness, another fortnight, before he could rise from his cot. Yet, while his body slowly healed, the same could not be said about young Zack’s mind. No words came from his slack-jawed lips and his eyelids remained closed as if he were sleeping. Day after day Zack sat on his stool, slowly rocking back and forth like a mindless thistle in the wind.
Lifting his eyelids revealed only murky pools of empty darkness where his eyes used to be.
Months passed and nothing changed but the color of the autumn leaves, and still no words came from Zack’s slack-jawed lips, his eyelids closed to the world.
October 31, All Hallows Eve, and a young new bard was playing at the inn, one show only!
Some of the men from the barracks decided to take poor Zack down to listen to the performance. The off-duty soldiers placed the injured boy in a comfortable chair near the front of the tavern’s stage just as the performer was beginning her first set of songs.
The Bard was sitting on her stool at the very rear of the stage, her back against the wall, her fingers twisting and bending her lyre strings to her will, forcing them to cry out painful harmonic discord.
Suddenly, young Zack’s body jerked and twitched as if he’d been struck by lightening… and when the young Bard began to sing, Zackariah Mueller stood up and opened his eyes!
The Bard’s dark, melancholic voice vibrated deep within Zack’s torn and damaged psyche, unlocking, and then opening the charred and twisted doorway to his blackened soul. Her haunting melody possessed the very essence of his being and Zackariah Mueller fell utterly and absolutely in love. A dark, obsessive, perverted kind of sick love, the kind of love a blood-sucking parasite has for its life-giving host.
And then Zackariah Mueller laughed… The hideous, bloodcurdling sound echoed throughout the tavern, bringing fear to the eyes of even the most seasoned vet… for it was the cruel, spine-chilling laughter of the criminally insane!
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Silently entering her tiny room, Delisha stretched out on the bed, careful not to awaken the blonde boy sleeping on the floor. Once she was comfortable, Delisha let her mind drift back, remembering the time she’d first met her new “roommate”. More than a month had passed since their first encounter.
Delisha was singing for her supper at the Crossroads Inn; a packed house that night; one show only!
Before she began to play, some soldiers entered the inn carrying an injured comrade. In a comfortable chair, at the front of the stage, they placed a blonde haired, comatose boy.
Slack jawed, his eyes closed, the young soldier sat motionless as Delisha began. Soon her strong, nimble fingers were twisting and bending her lyre strings making them cry out in mournful, harmonic discord… and then she was singing… her deep, melancholic voice resonating throughout the packed pub.
Suddenly, to the total amazement of all those in the tavern, the comatose blonde soldier literally jumped up out of his chair. Spinning around, facing the rest of the patrons, the now wild-eyed warrior began to laugh - a spine-chilling, evil laugh, that sent some customers screaming for the door… others, including his fellow soldiers, drew their swords in fear, not knowing what to expect! Delisha quickly packed up her lyre and slipped out the back; she wanted no trouble here.
As the fates would have it, however, trouble found the young bard two days later, as she was setting up camp for the night. Out of the lengthening shadows, four big men moved in quickly, surrounding her, leaving no chance for escape.
“Well, what have we here?” The toothless leader grinned. “A lonely little bird in need of some company for the night” The other outlaws laughed and hooted, eyeing her up and down.
“My friends will return any moment,” Delisha lied.
“I don’t think so darling,” the leader chuckled, a big, meaty paw reaching out. In an eye-blink Delisha’s boot-dagger was in her hand slashing out, finding its mark!
“OW! Screamed wounded man, quickly withdrawing his bleeding hand, “Why you little…”
“So, the pretty bird has teeth,” chuckled one of the other assailants, also reaching out to touch.
“Leave me be!” Delisha snarled, spinning around and slashing out again, avoiding the grasping hand. Suddenly without warning, a hard fist from behind knocked her to the ground. Gasping for air, she closed her eyes, preparing herself for the worst… hoping they would at least leave her alive.
But before a single hand touched young Delisha, spine-chilling laughter filled the night air. The violent sounds of clashing blades and screams of pain filled her ears. Hot blood splattered everywhere; pumping fresh from deep, death wounds. Suddenly the fighting ended, and the young bard heard only the sound of her own heavy breathing.
Slowly opening her eyes, Delisha found herself nose to nose with the young blonde soldier from the Crossroads Inn, his eyes wild, a weird, unholy smile reaching from ear to ear.
“Please…please don’t hurt me,” the young bard stammered, pleading for her life.
Smiling wider still, the crazy-eyed boy reached down and picked her up, his strong arms lifting her little body almost effortlessly. Delisha was too terrified to even scream, and again she closed her eyes, preparing herself for the pain. But it was not pain that made her eyes fly back open in shock and disbelief, but the strange and eerie feeling caused by an icy-cold tongue licking the blood off her crimson splattered face.
The young bard’s mind was reeling out of control, “What in the Nine Hells is happening?”
Several minutes later, when her licking captor was finished, the crazy boy set Delisha down on her feet, and then he quickly dropped to one knee. His head bowed low.
“She who owns my soul,” rumbled a voice of deepest, darkest malevolence, “Sing for Zack!”
Delisha stood shaking in stunned silence, unable to even breathe, much less sing. The blonde soldier slowly raised his head looking up at the young bard, his dark eyes pleading, begging pools of madness.
“Please, my mistress”, his dark voice pleaded, “Sing for Zack, feed me with your sad songs!”
Delisha took a deep breath, and began singing one of her haunting melodies. Shaking nervously at first, the young bard slowly regained composure as her deep, rich voice filled the night.
Back in control, Delisha watched and was amazed at how her music soothed and relaxed the young boy. Zack now lay stretched out on the ground, eyes closed, his body limp and peaceful. The young bard sang non-stop for the next half an hour, then stopped for an instant to listen.
The moment she heard crazy Zack snoring, Delisha slipped off into the darkness.
Less then a week later, little Delisha was deep in trouble again. Following a rumor she’d overheard in some backwater tavern, Delisha entered the old graveyard in search of a magical harp supposedly buried along with its owner.
Slipping silently into the crumbling crypt, Delisha followed the twisting passageway deep down into the ancient mausoleum, cautiously traversing the cobwebbed-filled corridor until it came to a dead end.
“A dead end?!” The thief-turned-bard quickly stripped off her backpack and began looking for any hidden levers or secret doors. Totally engrossed in her search, Delisha did not hear the sounds of the approaching undead until it was too late.
Unearthly moans and the sound of shuffling feet from behind set Delisha’s hair on end. Spinning around quickly she caught only a brief glimpse of the zombies closing in on her, before their horrible stench forced the young bard to her knees retching out of control.
The undead were all around her. Their icy fingers sending waves of unbearable pain into her tender flesh. Fighting hard just to remain conscious, Delisha slashed weakly at the rotting creatures surrounding her, trying to drive them back, but she could not. The young bard fell limp to the stone floor, warm food for the hungry undead.
Yet, when Delisha regained consciousness a few moments later, all the zombies were dead, hacked into little pieces, and the crazy boy Zack was leaning against the wall cleaning his sword. Noticing Delisha had awakened; the blonde-haired boy smiled his wide demonic smile and spoke.
“She who owns my soul,” rasped his dark voice again, “Sing for Zack, feed me with your sad songs”.
No hesitation this time, Delisha’s deep, heartrending harmonics echoed throughout ancient catacombs soothing and calming the young soldier. Mesmerized by her dark enchanting melody, the crazy boy sat down, his back against the wall, and was soon fast asleep.
“This is the second time this crazy boy has saved my life this week!”
Delisha trembled; the stark reality of her situation sent a cold shiver through her tiny frame. Back in Port Slather she had always been alone, she needed no one, she liked it that way, however, out in these new harsh lands…
Beginning another song, Delisha’s mind whirled, measuring the pros and cons of teaming up with the crazy, young soldier, Zack.
“HE’S OUT OF HIS MIND, SCARY CRAZY!”
“I will not survive on my own in these wild, new lands”.
“NO… REALLY! HE’S CRAZY!”
“He will never cheat on me, or lie to me, or hurt me, or treat me bad, ever!”
“YOU KNOW HE'S CRAZY, RIGHT?”
“He’s gonna follow me and watch out for me anyway”.
“HE'S TOTALLY, INCURABLY INSANE!”
“He asks only that I sing to him… nothing else does he take or expect.”
“WHAT ABOUT HIM BEING CRAZY”
“He loves me with all his black soul and has already saved me twice”
“CRAZY AS A FREAKIN’ LOON!”
“He is a strong and powerful fighter, who will protect me with his life!”
Three weeks later, the young Bard, Delisha and her Blackguard companion, Zack, boarded a small schooner bound for ArgentumRegio.
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