An early memory I have of working for the Alliance recalls a time in Westfall, near the lighthouse, where The Aberrant Chapter, as a group of us were known then, were confronted by another small group of adventurers. Well, we were not confronted as much as I myself was confronted. I was accused of meddling with dark powers that I had no right to involve myself with, and that my magic was a blight on the land. I did not quite know how to reply to these shouts, partly because this other band ran off elsewhere without pause, and partly because they were to some extent right about me.
I knew when I first started to learn the path of shadow, leading quickly to the summoning and control of demons, that these were forces outside of nature, dangerous forces that could consume me. I knew that there would be those who would not understand my choice. And I knew there would be some who would resent me, fear what I was doing. In my early times of training this was not really an issue, as I was only really running tasks for my first mentor, who, naturally, encourage me. It was only when I was considered ready to enter the larger world of conflict that I came face-to-face with some hostile reactions. Even then, there weren't many. I was lucky to find some good companions early on who were tolerant of my shadow magic at first, and then happy for my company when they came to understand how I used it.
And even when The Aberrant Chapter broke up, parted by the seemingly never-ending pressures of fighting those who oppose the Alliance, I rarely encountered many reactions like that in Westfall, although there were occasional moments where I would be made to feel less than welcome. This is quite likely to be because I wandered the lands alone for most of the time; working as part of a team was the exception, not the rule. I got used to travelling alone, fighting with only a demon by my side. And maybe that became part of the problem. I tried to keep in control, use the shadow around me, not within me, to fuel my magic. I have tried to avoid the corruption that consumes so many shadow magic users, destroying their bodies and souls. But how can I be sure the corruption hasn't tainted me? Were I corrupted, would I be able to tell?
I am lucky that I have some good friends around me, who I can keep in touch with when I need to. They keep an eye out for me, making sure that I do not let the shadow overwhelm me, that I am not drawn too far down the dark path whence there is no return. I sometimes think that they are too cautious, that my experience has shown I can handle the powers I wield, but that could be a sign of the corruption taking hold, so I still force myself to listen. And my friends, for you know who you are, please do not stop looking out for me like this.
You may be asking why I am relating all this now. There is a reason, for earlier I was invited to explore the dark town of Stratholme. The group that was assembled included some diverse people, and to begin with it looked like we would work well as a team, something that is vital within such a foul place as Stratholme. Things started to go awry, though. There seemed to be tensions building up within the team. The priest within our team seemed to keep away from me, and her nervous glances across to me did not look like she was happy I was there. It seemed at times that she did not trust that I would not join with the foul denizens of Stratholme against the the party.
I didn't try to win her over, as this rarely works, although I tried not to upset her intentionally. I offered healthstones, including one to the priest, and made sure that the priest herself had her soul stored in case of any unfortunate occurrances. Despite this, I clearly had not made a friend. Our party, working through the undead, found a piece of dreadmist armour, and almost before I could attempt to persuade others that I would really like to own it the priest had bound it to herself, claiming that it would come in useful. There were no claims of her being a shadow priest, nor any signs afterwards that this would be the case, yet the dreadmist armour made its way in to her possession. I have to say that despite my first reaction of astonishment this really did not matter to me. I have heard that there were many pieces of this armour crafted, even if they are all kept by powerful adversaries, so it is likely I will have another opportunity to get some, it is more reaction of the priest to me. It had been a while since I had encounted a strong negative reaction, and this was another reminder that I am not always welcome to some people.
Nevertheless, our party continued through the town, trying to wipe out the scourge within, and I still kept the priest's soul stored for emergencies. I could have instead used the soulstone with one of the two paladins in the party, neither of whom seemed to have a problem with my presence, apparently happy with my contribution to their efforts. But that would not have been for the greater good. Or so I thought. As it was, when we were overwhelmed at one point and were all beaten down beyond the point of surrender the priest ignored the soulstone and released her spirit instead. I still do not know why she did this, and it is perhaps as big an affront to my the powers I wield as I could imagine. This act by the priest ended our raid within Stratholme. I wonder if she did this just to avoid using any of my magic, fearing some corruption herself, or to get away from being in a party with me and finding some pure adventurers. I can only conjecture, and it is not always wise to dwell on some other's motives when they are likely never to be known. Still, I am reminded also that of the three times I fell this afternoon I was raised each time by a paladin and not the priest.
I recall these events not because I feel wronged, nor to bring any shame or disrepute to the priest, for I do not think that someone who follows the path of light can be blamed for viewing me with such suspicion. I do it to remind myself that my powers are dangerous and not something to be taken casually. I chose this life for myself, in a way, and it is not something I regret. I do not expect acceptance from everyone for how I manipulate the shadow, or my dealings with demons, as that would be unrealistic to say the least. I fear that as I am looking to enter more of the most dangerous dungeons I shall occasionally confront animosity from within my team, and that it is something I shall have to deal with. But why I am recalling this the most is to remind myself how welcome I have been made by my friends, those who accompany me and let me fight by their side without a sideways glance. I think we all need to remind ourselves of this kind of thing every now and again, so that none of us fall foul of the darkness that awaits.
You have given me another reason for me always to strive to keep true to myself.