1 Chapter 1: To the Inheritors

Whoever Finds My Diary,

I wish you well Inheritor.

Wherever you are, and whenever you. Be well and be safe.

Remain ever vigilant against the dark.

Let me begin,

As my aged memory allows, I have done the best that I can to put my memories of things on to these pages so that others may know the things that I have known, and through my eyes see things I have seen.

i do this not so that you may know the things I have done, but so that you may protect yourself in my eventual absence.

I must apologize to you, my inheritor, for I have no other heir apparent but the finder of this diary.You.

My life has not been comfortable throughout the years, but I have kept the faith, and from a mere man, no more can be expected. I, too, apologize for this, as your life shall take a familiarly uncomfortable turn.

My name is John Acre, and I am the last of the Brothers of Salem. The monster hunters of old. I am and have always been a hunter of the monsters that plague this land. But more so, I have been a slayer of all manner of things that haunt the dark.

Like most of my Brothers-in-Arms, my introduction to what would, later on, become my profession was by a baptism of blood and by fire.

Do not misunderstand me, I am no hero. I do not want to give you the impression that I am a selfless person. I have never been one. I am only a fool, an old fool at that, stuck to a bed in sickness to shift through his fading memories. But unlike the many who have preceded me, I have lived long and lived well enough that I at least might pass on the secrets of my survival.

I was younger than when I was first introduced to the things of nightmares. Far younger than most men are when they are forced to face the creatures of the night. I would advise you to take notice, I have had many brothers. Mostly figuratively, rather than literal, but in that strictest of literal senses, I was was the youngest of four brothers. Though I was not the youngest sibling, that fell to my sister whom for all of us was the center of the world.

For the four of us, the sun seemed to rise and fall at the behest of her smile. She was truly something. If she had lived to become a woman, I imagine all of her children would have been noble-born. She was never meant for the peasantry she had been born into, and she had never been intended for the harshness of our lives.

Radiant, you could call her. Though I simply called her sister.

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I buried her long ago. I buried all of them. If only they could see me now, grey and crooked with age. Would they still recognize me? I think so, even though I have lived so long. My sister would likely fall to tears at the sight of me. Scarred as I am, age can be rather unkind.

It was neither a fang, nor claw, or a thieves dirk or rusted knife, not even a cultist blade that was to be my undoing. It was a sickness that fell upon me. A dampness that settled into my lungs and with every breath I take, I can hear it even now after drinking the witches tea I order special, that rattle in the chest. Frequently, and far too often, I find myself falling into controllable bouts of coughing fits, and each time the amount of blood I see in my spittle becomes more noticeable.

My absence has been noted. A traveling physician sent my way tells me that my time on this Earth is short. He says the black residue he has seen from me is evidence of the nearness of the end. He is a good man and well-meaning, he has left a supply of herbs to ease whatever pain I have in hopes of providing me some amount of comfort as my end approaches. Another herb he has left for if the pain becomes unbearable, he does not expand, and I do not ask, the meaning of the herb is well understood, those striped red petals bring death.

I am not yet there at that point, and I tell him as much.

It was he, this traveling physician who suggested I write, and as I put these words and craft my thoughts to paper, I find my discomfort to be lessened.

It has been a good idea. The man was not without kindness. Instead of putting me to bed, he has instead helped me to my chair and placed me near the fire while putting on another log. It is a small kindness I do not take for granted.

"I'll be back every Wednesday to check on you." Those were his words he said, in his voice, I could hear a measure of respect and sorrow. He knows of me, by both feat and reputation. I think perhaps he is far too professional to say anything. It is better this way. He has promised at least that when I pass, my body will not sit idly for long without discovery.

Though I do have regrets, those regrets will die with me. What I cannot pass is my knowledge. The heirs I had have long ago been buried, killed by the worst of monsters I have ever faced, which are the nobility of the court. After their loss, I took on no apprentices in my grief. The knowledge I possess will die with me, except for what I manage to write down in this diary.

The end of my life is hardly the time or place for such an undertaking, but this is the only time I have. I will go back to the beginning, it started with a letter.