By Bailey Dixon
Date: February 5, 2021

The night air was hot and heavy. My campfire burned with a feeble light, illuminating the thick layer of fog that surrounded me. The dense cloud smothered every inch of this accursed ruin. I clutched my sword tight—who knows what foul demons would spring from the haze, ready to devour me. Alas, I needed desperately to sleep. It had been three days since I last knew rest. Perhaps I could have endured one more day of sleepless travel were it not for my cumbersome armour. Trekking in the infernal heat of the Edgerealm had turned the suit of valkyrian steel into an oven and beneath it my skin was pink as a suckling pig. Limbs aching, I lay back onto the grey dirt beneath me. The sickly coloured earth looked as though it would be cool to the touch but it radiated that same balmy heat. Still, there was some respite from the elements on the ground beside the crumbling stone wall where I had made my camp. What few provisions I could carry were bundled inside the leather satchel that now served as my pillow. It was impossible to get into a comfortable position whilst wrapped in my armour but I dared not take it off.

In the delirium of my travels it was difficult to keep track of time but it had been at least a fortnight since I had set out on my mission. As a valkyrie of the Sanctum, it was my sworn, divine duty to bring all sinners to justice. The worst of these transgressors were the warlocks, practitioners of unspeakable black magic. They indulged in the profane sin of pleasure—not only of the mind, but of the flesh as well. However foul, such blasphemy pales in comparison to their sorcery. Warlocks held court with Shadows, forsaken and condemned spirits from the Beyond. Malevolent Shadows seeking to once again walk the mortal plane bestow upon these warlocks terrible gifts of magical power, while the blaspheming mages barter with their immortal soul. Warlocks were despicable and dangerous indeed. And the one whom I hunted was known as more powerful and perverse than most. But that is why the Sanctum had sent me. Despite my age, I had risen fast through the ranks of the valkyries—I, like my prey, was powerful, but unlike the warlock, I was pure. At least that is what the Sanctum believed and what I hoped was true. My combat prowess could not be doubted for I had never met a foe I could not best in battle. However, a war raged within my mind… my body… my soul…

Temptation plagued me and I had thus far resisted its siren call. Even when I was safe behind the walls of the Sanctum, I struggled to keep desire at bay. But alone in the Edgerealm, amid a hotbed of sin and perversion, I was far from the gaze of God. Thinking back to the day I received my mission, back in the sanctuary of my native Farheim, I prayed that I would not succumb to the darkness...

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