In the year of our lord 1324 came the Shadows, a slow blackening of the eyes, from white, through gray, to glinting obsidian, and then… the fires.
When first it came, many feared evil magicks as eyes began to turn from pure white to ash and smoke, then coal. But nearly all were afflicted to at least some small degree save the pure and the simple. Was it perhaps a sign of sin? Yet, even the priests bore some mark, but as none are without sin, this still seemed possible, and over time, eyes grew darker and darker. Given just how many peasants developed Shadowed eyes suggested
that it was a reflection of sin. After all, they were coarse, unrefined, filthy. They couldn’t even read the bible on their own, and their poverty clearly proved God showed them no favor.
Then came the reports of the fires, the screams, the burning. Men were seen to burst violently into flames in their fields. Princes in their chambers, priests in their cathedrals. Most, though not all, bore at least some whisper of deep corruption and shame, and those for whom no sin could be determined, it was said, they must have carried their sins deep within their hearts and behaved most wickedly in private. Why else would the Lord see fit to have them taken by the fires of Hell?
Worse still, when one would be consumed by the hellfire, others often followed. Perhaps it was the invisible demons, who once loose, wished to cause as much mayhem as possible before they returned.
It is said that those who go on pilgrimage to atone for their sins, to find those whom they have wronged and make amends are able to wash their eyes clean and turn them white once more.
So serious is this plague, that lords and ladies are known to grant far more leeway to their serfs who suffer from sinner’s eyes to leave the lands untilled. Perhaps this is because they do not wish their hellfire consumed, damned souls on their conscience should the peasantry not cleanse themselves of sin in time. Perhaps they simply do not want their crops and their mills consumed by fire.
Unfortunately, as will all sin, there comes temptation, corruption, those eager to do the devil’s work in order to hide from the devil. This came in the form of Angel’s Milk, a sweet drink that brings feelings of peace and forgiveness, and whitens the eyes for a few hours, only for the stains to come back darker not long after.
Now the roads are littered with black-eyed travelers, called Shadow Pilgrims, each out to find those they have sinned against and do right by them. One should be warned, however, that those who seek absolution for the wrong reasons, merely to lift the Shadows that stain their eyes rather than to actually do good works, often find themselves worse for their troubles, if not consumed wholly in fire. Heaven will not be deceived. To purify one’s eyes, one must seek to purify one’s soul.
You are such a Shadow Pilgrim, walking the lonely road, enduring the judging gazes from those who know that you are a great sinner. Living among those who would cross the streets to be away from you, who would bar their doors to you, both for the welfare of their souls and to avoid the flames should you burn soon. Beware, oh traveler, for even those who would not flee from you may abuse your trust, and put you to ill use saying that to labor for them will show God that you are contrite and humbled and will surely cleanse you. Beware such
Shadow Slavers who will guilt you into servitude. There day will come for their sins to black their eyes to coals that the fires of Hell may burn them, but yours approaches much sooner and you may not have time to tarry.
Can you face the wounds within, make amends with the world, and save not only your body, but also your soul?