Muhulda Urswyk here. I’ve finally gotten an interview with Barnabas Merriweather, leader of the Shadow Walkers, so now we can get to the bottom of who these people really are. Are they guardians like they claim, or are they vigilante menaces that need to be eradicated? You decide.
Muhulda: Thank you for taking time out to speak with me, Mr. Merriweather. I know you’re anxious to return to Corleon and resume your leadership duties.
Barnabas: You’re welcome.
Muhulda: Now, Mr. Merriweather. Tell me about the Shadow Walkers. Who, exactly, are they?
Barnabas: Shadow Walkers are those who’ve received weapons from the gods. Most of us use those weapons to protect others and to guard Brimstone Thunderwatch.
(Just an aside here. Mr. Merriweather nods but doesn’t answer.)
Muhulda: Weapons from the gods? Can you tell me more?
Barnabas: When the universe exploded, many of the gods perished. Those who survived now choose champions, so to speak, to wield their weapons.
Muhulda: You aren’t making any sense. Why would the gods need someone else to wield a weapon? They’re all powerful, aren’t they?
Barnabas (shakes his head): No. They aren’t. The gods are trapped in this world with the rest of us, but they have no physical form. They can’t interact with things in any real way.
Muhulda: So they choose others to do it for them?
Barnabas (nods): Yes.
Muhulda: And how do the gods choose these so-called champions?
Barnabas: That’s something we’ve yet to determine. Some are given the weapons in times of great peril, but others receive them at seemingly random times. (He pauses and shrugs.) We just don’t know what causes one god or another to reach out to someone.
Muhulda: But the Arcana Maximus is full of automatons the gods can inhabit and speak through. Has anyone thought of just asking?
(Another note. Mr. Merriweather shrugs and looks embarrassed. It is clear that the simple idea of asking has never crossed his mind.)
Muhulda: And are these ‘chosen’ always human?
Barnabas: Our history tells us that they were once, back when the planes were separated, but they aren’t now. The Shadow Walkers are chosen from all beings.
Muhulda: Even the demons?
Barnabas: Yes. We even have Shadow Walkers among the demons.
Muhulda: Now, see. This is what I find interesting. I was able to obtain a copy of a letter from one Valedihr, a professor at the Academe in Jitradena, outright stating that he was conducting experiments into using bonded humans for food. Have you read it? He sent it to his colleagues.
Barnabas: No, I haven’t.
Muhulda: Isn’t he one of yours, so to speak? Isn’t he a Shadow Walker? And would this go back to your earlier statement that ‘most’ of the Shadow Walkers use their abilities to help others?
(Just an aside here. Mr. Merriweather didn’t answer this question. He seemed quite agitated. I wonder if it’s because he knows the Shadow Walkers aren’t to be trusted.)
Muhulda: Well, if you don’t want to answer, let’s move on. What happens to Shadow Walkers who break the code, who do ‘evil’? You do have a code, don’t you?
Barnabas: Yes, we have a code of conduct. Shadow Walkers are forbidden from harming others, and they are required to stand up for those who are being downtrodden.
Muhulda: But isn’t right in the eye of the beholder? For example, if a ruler is trying to establish rule of his people, and a small few dissent and call in the Shadow Walkers for help, aren’t they doing more harm than good? Who chooses which side is the right one?
Barnabas: Our primary goal is to guard Brimstone Thunderwatch and to prevent the seventh hell demons from escaping. Our other duties include assisting local constables and the like with situations that exceed their capabilities in manpower or that have a decidedly magical base. Each case is evaluated before it is taken, and since we have Shadow Walkers in every region, it is quite easy to get the information we need to make an informed decision. The only time we’re somewhat cut off is when we patrol the void to guard against assaults from outside of Grevared, and, even then, we have means of communicating.
Muhulda: But there are many in Moirena and Corleon who use magic. It’s only in the Xaggarene Empire that magic is mistrusted. Would you help in those places where it’s normal? What about Harrowwind? Everyone there uses magic there, so why wouldn’t the locals know how to deal with it or investigate it? Why would you be needed?
(Mr. Merriweather seems quite annoyed at this point.)
Barnabas: You ask the question as if we charge into an area and assume command. This isn’t the case. Yes, we have guild halls in just about every community, but we don’t interfere unless requested to. Now, there are times when a threat presents itself that those in the area aren’t aware of, but when we step in on these, it is always for the good of the citizens.
Muhulda: What kinds of threats would those be?
Barnabas: Specters, zombies, animated corpses, and pixie mites, just to name a few.
Muhulda: And what do these things do?
Barnabas: Specters and pixie mites both possess the ability to drain your life force with a simple touch, and a specter won’t quit once it’s noticed you. Zombies are the walking dead, and they’ll simply eat you. Animated corpses are mechanically animated dead bodies. They are usually controlled by whoever created them, but it is easy for their architect to lose control of them. Would you prefer running up on one on your own, or would you prefer to know that there are people in your area who are actively seeking and destroying these things?
Muhulda: And who pays for your assistance? Does the money come from taxes? And what about the school you run? Do the students pay tuition? What about the ones who can’t pay?
Barnabas: All those who attend the school either pay a tuition or work for the school. As for who pays our fees, it is usually the one who called us. As to where the funds come from, I couldn’t say. And no young Shadow Walker is ever turned away from our school, regardless of ability to pay.
Muhulda: And what about the threats from outside our lands that you mentioned. Just what threats? There’s nothing out in the void.
Barnabas: We assume that there’s nothing else out in the void, but we really don’t know. There could be other lands out there with beings we can’t even comprehend. At this point, we just don’t know, and the things we do know about, such as the void serpents, aren’t things you would want in your cities.
Muhulda: So, basically, you don’t do this because of writ from the gods. You do it for profit. You do this for self-aggrandizement because you feel you’re special.
Barnabas: I wouldn’t say profit. Shadow Walkers have to be paid, just like everyone else, and the Shadow Walker guild halls have to be maintained, just as those of the ironworkers or stonemasons. You don’t expect them to work for free, so we shouldn’t be expected to, either. There is little to no real profit from what we do. As to feeling special, many of us would rather not be chosen. There’s a downside to working directly with a god.
Muhulda: But the Arcana Maximus claims the gods can only speak through the automatons it controls. Are you saying that, out of all the creatures that live in Grevared, only the handful that have been ‘chosen’ can communicate with them?
Barnabas (shrugs): I couldn’t say. I’m aware of the Arcana’s belief, but I couldn’t say who else can speak with the gods. They may regularly meet the emperor for lunch for all I know.
Muhulda: So, what will you do when you leave here, Mr. Merriweather? Do you have some dastardly creature to fight?
Barnabas: Right now, I’d just like to head home and get some rest. It’s been a long journey.
Muhulda: Well, that’s all the time we have now. Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Merriweather. I hope you have a safe trip home.
To recap what Barnabas Merriweather, leader of the Shadow Walkers, has told us: the Shadow Walkers carry weapons that are given to them by the gods. There is no specific criteria for receiving these weapons, so average citizens should be aware that anyone could carry one. Your best friend, your neighbor. Any of these could have powers you can’t comprehend or fight.
The Shadow Walkers assist in cases that are too complex for local constables, and they guard Brimstone Thunderwatch, the prison for the seventh hell demons. They will also interfere in local business when called upon, without determining if they are backing the ‘correct’ side. This being the case, we must be cautious when dealing with this group, especially when calling them into our affairs, as we have no way of knowing if they are truly on our side.
Muhulda Urswyk reporting. Until next time.
Published by Lissa Dobbs