The Search for the Orb of Om Radeen


The boy was on the cusp of being a man, but he was not yet there.  He cowered under the bed of the small farm house where generations of his family had lived and died.  He covered his ears with both hands, hoping to block out the screams coming from the yard outside.  His father had ordered him to run and hide, and his father's orders were not to be questioned.

The boys eyes were wide open, gleaning every detail he could from his surroundings.  Beyond the darkness under the bed, the main room of the farmhouse was lit by the firelight and several candles.  The sounds of conflict and the screaming had suddenly stopped.

Then he heard the voice.  It was deep and rough, and broke at times.  He could not make out every word, but he could make out enough to know someone was being questioned.

"Violence met with...
...submit to our lawful...
...this blood is on your...
...simple questions...
...we know of your connections...
...of the Forbidden....
...where is the orb?
...done with the orb?"

The boy, not yet a man, strained to hear what came next.  Were his older brothers dead?  His mother and aunt?  His father?  Who was being questioned?  Then he heard his father's voice, sounding pained and breathless.  But again, just snippets of what he said could be made out.

"You murderous fuck...
...what orb...
...a simple farmer... came here to kill...
...fucking orb...
...a curse upon your..."

The air around the boy was suddenly cold.  He could see his breath drifting out from under the bed, lit by the firelight.  Frost fell from the air, and began settling on the stone floor of the small home.  The candles dimmed, and the fireplace crackled more loudly.  The farmhouse timbers began creaking like they did in the cold of winter.  And all was silence from outside.

The boy shivered in the frost-ridden cold for what seemed a lifetime.  Eventually, the pain of the cold overcame his fear and he crawled out from under the bed.  It was summer, but the windows of the farmhouse were covered in frost.  A fine blanket of snow covered the floor, from the moisture in the air that had frozen and fallen.

He crept barefoot across the frozen floor toward the door of the farmhouse.  Still silence outside.  He put his hand on the doorknob, and his skin froze to the cold metal.  He turned the knob and exited the small home.  It was even colder outside.  The ground was frozen and white, and the bushes and apple tree outside were coated in ice.  His father was on his knees, but still upright, his back to the boy.

The boy rushed to his father, hardly noticing the blue of his skin or the heavy frost on his clothing.  He grabbed at his father, but his father's frozen corpse broke off at the knees, and his upper body tumbled forward with a hard thump onto the snow covered ground of the yard.

Standing over his father's frozen corpse, the boy could see the snow-covered bodies all around the farmhouse, mercifully covered in a blanket of melting snow.  They were dead...they were all dead.



A gentleman walked the streets of Toulon.  He was in his 20's, wore stylish formal clothing, and had a thick head of dark hair, cut short.  Two things stood out about him.  His eyes were piercing and dark, to the point of making anyone who made eye contact with him, look away immediately.  Also notable, to anyone who did manage to look at the man for more than a collection of seconds, was that occasionally he flickered.  He was mostly always solid and real, but here and there the flesh seemed to fade away briefly, revealing a shadowy form beneath.

The man with the dashing clothes and flickering form made his way directly to the white house that sat just outside the carefully manicured cemetery of Toulon.  He climbed the stairs, and knocked on the front door.

Shortly, a man in his 60's came to the door.  He had long grey hair, and a clean-shaven face, that clearly displayed his distinguished nose.  Age had stolen some of his handsome edge, but not all of it.  He wore a long black coat, over a black vest, black tie, a white shirt, and white gloves.  "How may I help you?"

The young caller flickered, and the old man simply blinked his eyes twice, giving no other indication he had noticed.  The young man asked, "Germain Sadoul?"

The old man smiled.  "Yes, that is me.  But I'm not the mystery here.  You are, young man."

"I am Shal Mordis, of the Academy of Shadow.  We require your assistance."

Germain gave a stiff little bow, but did not move from the doorway, nor did he invite the young man inside.  "Well, Master Mordis, what could an old man like me have to offer your Academy?"

Shal smiled, and he flickered again...just for a second.  "We know you keep a close eye on this town.  Have any strangers come about lately?  Anyone capable of closing the Gate of Oth?"

Germain's lips pressed together thinly, and all humor left his eyes.  "Oh...Shal.  Come in.  I think I can be of some help after all."



The small farming community of Mack's Mill was just a 10 minute leisurely walk from Toulon.  It wasn't so much a town, as a large mill, a general store, and a small pub frequented by local farmers. It was quiet, and simple, and easy.

But not tonight.  Tonight there were screams in the darkness, and robed figures stalked the night carrying red glowing branding irons.

The smell of burning human flesh hung in the air.   A plump middle aged woman was grabbed from behind a bush where she was hiding.   She was put on her knees, and a red hot branding iron was pressed into her forehead.  

She screamed something that sounded less than human.  More like the scream of a animal being killed at the end of a long chase.   The face of the robed figure applying the brand was lit with a red glow, and he seemed to be in deep concentration.  On his own forehead, there was a glowing brand, from which came a thin wisp of smoke, and an occasional red spark.

He pulled the branding iron back, and the woman fell to the ground moaning.  The man with the brand seemed disappointed.  "She didn't know anything.  The lives these people live is so utterly boring."

Another robed figure nearby, with a glowing brand also on his forehead, answered firmly.  "Concentrate on the task at hand.  We must learn what these people know.   Have they seen the orb?   Do they know anything about how the gate was closed?  Have they seen any strangers pass through recently?"

"I know...I know.   But the minds of these people are so utterly normal.  They work, and eat, and shit, and sleep, repeat, repeat.  They are animals.  What will they know?"

"Someone will know something.  They will have seen or heard of something or someone out of place.  Something that leads us to what we seek.  I think there's an old man hiding in that barn...focus on your job, and go steal his thoughts...."



The merchant's camp was full of activity. Everyone was done eating dinner, and people were cleaning up the pots and plates, and getting ready for a evening around a blazing fire.

Martine watched it all from his chair, set right outside his merchant's wagon.  He was nursing a bowl of rustica in his pipe, and relaxing.  No one expected a merchant of his wealth and renown to pitch in any work.

Ten or eleven merchant wagons were circled loosely around where a medium sized fire was being tended into a large fire.

Then Martine heard it.  A metallic chattering.   The sound of a thousand spoons gathered into a large bag and shook violently.  The sound of a barrel-full of daggers being tipped over and clattering down a stairwell.

Martine stood, and yelled, "Quiet!  Everybody quiet!"

Martine rarely barked out orders, but when he did, everyone listened.  The fire tenders froze in place, logs in their hands.  Those cleaning pots, stayed crouched over their task, but unmoving.  Everyone heard it then.  The metallic chattering was getting louder and louder.  

A young woman named Timora, her eyes wide with fear, dropped her pot and ran for her wagon.  Martine screamed, "Timora... No!!!"

The young woman stopped in her tracks.

Martine spoke with confidence, but also an undercurrent of dread in his voice.  "Nobody move.   Nobody resist.  Close your eyes if you must, and I'll tell you when you can open them again.   But, if you value your life, you'll freeze right where you are and offer no resistance.  No reaction.  No fear.  If you do this... We will be alright."

Half the merchants and their families closed their eyes,  but those that kept them open saw the metal many-legged technisms crawl down from the trees, up and over their wagons, and across the ground at their feet.

Like shiny silver spiders the size of your hand, hundreds of these constructs searched the camp.  Waves of them entered each wagon.  Chests and barrels were opened, and the technisms entered and exited these containers.  The silver spiders crawled up onto the people present, exploring over and under their clothing.

As panic set in, Martin's calming voice would call out.   "If you value your life, stay still.  Don't resist."

Time and time again,  his voice kept the merchants and their families from lashing out...or fleeing.

"They will conduct their search, and be on their way.   I swear to you.  Just remain calm."

At last, three spiders approached Martine.  He took a deep breath, and steeled himself.  The spiders crawled up his body, under his coat, across his back.  One went up his neck, and tipped the hat off his head.  And then they crawled down his body, and across the ground.

Once everyone and everything was searched, the spiders seemed to gather in great silver streams, and crawled off to the west.

No one moved or said a word until the last of the technisms passed from view.

Martine was the first to speak.  "We're safe now.   Relax.  Someone important is looking for something, and whatever it is... We don't have it."

Some collapsed to their knees sobbing.  Others ran to loved ones and embraced them.  One woman let out a loud sigh, and fainted.  

Martine picked up his hat, sat back down, and packed his bowl.   As he lit the rustica, he thought to himself. "Someone is in some serious trouble."


In the heart of Toulon, just off the main square, sat a very nice house, with a clay tile roof, and three stories.  On the top floor the mayor and his wife settled into bed for the night.  The mayor was in his 50's, with a thick build, a stylish haircut, and a well groomed mustache to match.  His wife was a little younger, with a full bosom, and a beauty that had not been marred by age.  

As in so many cases, the wife had been attracted to the man's humor, charisma, and ability to make something of himself.  And the husband had been attracted to the woman's youth, and beauty.  This had been many years before, and a healthy love remained between Mayor Thomas Markane, and his wife Maran.

Thomas, in his pajamas, climbed into bed, pulled up the covers around his neck, and reached to turn down the oil lamp.  He froze as he saw the wind from the open window billow the curtains.  He hadn't opened the window.  Had his wife left the window open?

Then four figures rose from the floor, as though seedlings growing from seeds in the earth.  Smoke or mist swirled on the floor around them as they grew to their full height.  Four adult woman, their pale nakedness obvious beneath sheer white gowns.  Their skin was white like alabaster, except around their perfect mouths, which were stained red as ripe berries.

Thomas climbed slowly out of bed, a hand pathetically raised out of some base instinct for self defense.  "No, are not welcome here.  You were not invited must go."

One of the four beautiful intruders walked forward laughing.  "Are we not welcome?"

She walked to the bedside of Maran, and stood over her.  "Ask your wife if we are welcome."

Thomas looked to Maran's eyes, and saw there guilt, and regret.  "No,"

The intruder by Maran ran a white hand over the bed covers, and Maran sighed with pleasure.  "Thomas, you knew when you took this whore for your wife that she was ours.  Do not act so surprised.  I'm sure she meant it when she said she wished to escape our influence, and that she loved your deeply.  But, we've had her blood, and she's had ours.  She belongs to us."

Thomas clasped his hands in supplication.  "What do you want?  What can I do?  I will do anything you want to just leave us be.  Leave us alone."

The pale temptress with the blood stained lips smiled, and her lips pulled back over many pointed teeth.  "The Gate of Oth closed.  Zuc-Swaine wants the orb, and he wants the people who closed the gate.  And you, Mayor, are going to mobilize the town to give us both."

Thomas looked now as his wife, writhing in the bed and softly moaning, all the while with a look of terror in her eyes.  They owned his wife, and Thomas knew in that moment they owned him too.  "Yes, yes...anything you want...just leave her be."



Outside of Toulon, in a hollow between several hills, a man in brown robes watched as 4 men, 2 women, and a teenager dug a large hole in the ground.  The man in brown robes was an ugly man, in his 40's, with pock-marked skin, oily hair, and strange eyes that were two different colors. The ugly man spoke with the seven people digging the hole.

"I must thank you for your help.  The information you gathered for me was priceless information.  I daresay, that with your help I am ahead in the game to find the orb.  It is I, Zarben Laab, that shall win the orb, and my King's love.  And all thanks to you lot."

The 4 men, 2 women, and a teenager kept digging with their crude implements, without answering.  Based on their clothing, these were simple people.  Residents of Toulon.  What business had they with this odd fellow with the strange eyes?

Zarben Laab paced.  "Just a little deeper now.  We're almost there.  It is unfortunate that it always comes to this.  But, it is preferable to the alternative.  Madness always results.  Torment, pain, horrible visions...and Madness.  Yes, Madness.  So, think of this as a mercy, my friends.  A worthy sacrifice for the information you gathered for me."

The digging continued, and Zarben stopped pacing.  "Okay.  That's deep enough."

The seven diggers stopped, and looked at Zarben.  If one looked closely, you would notice that each of these seven had odd eyes that did not match either!  Their left eyes looked fairly normal.  But, their right eyes were alien and strange.  And each was strange in ways different from the others.

Zarben smiled, but it was a sad smile.  "Please kill each other quickly."

The seven diggers standing in their self-dug mass grave swung their shovels wildly at each other.  A woman was the first to go down, her head split open from nape to crown.  Then the teenager's throat opened in a gout of blood, sliced by the edge of a shovel.  

And so it went, until six of the diggers lay bleeding and still in the hole, and one still stood.  It was the largest of the men, and he was splattered in the blood of the others.  He panted, his strange right eye staring right at Zarben, but his human left eye darted this way and that in terror.

Zarben issued his final command.  "Fill in the grave, but leave a little space for yourself."

The right eyes of the six dead diggers shot from their eye sockets, flew through the air, and began orbiting Zarben's head.  "The sooner you get this filled in, and kill off this last volunteer, the sooner you can rejoin us.  We have leads on which we need to follow up.  So, no slacking."

The final digger set about filling in the mass grave at a furious pace, his one human eye still wide with fear and the torturous knowledge as to his fate.