Phantasmagoria - Chapter 16
"What do you mean he's gone?!"
"Just that Stone. Since Kelloran has forbidden me to take spirit form this week, I figured I’d work on the scry pool. I saw Thomas leaving town with a pretty heavy pack so I asked the pool when he'd be back. I'm still not very good at reading the thing yet but Thomas is definitely not coming back any time in the next few weeks. Maybe months."
Stone paced in front of the White Temple while his brother reclined on the stoop of his home. "You would have thought he would have said something to one of us."
"Thomas? You talking about the same guy who passed us on the way to the big fight and kept going with 'I'm going that way." Chells replied grinning.
"Good point. Hope he's ok out there."
"Well the good news is that the image of Thomas returning showed the woodlands mold free. I tried to scry how Troth was appeased but I ran out of juice with the pool by that point."
"I guess it’s up to the three of us then to clear out the woods. The others will be coming back to FallenStar soon. Who knows what the goblins and woodland animals will be like then?"
"I hate to say it but today it is just going to be the two of you. Kelloran is trying to get back to a normal schedule and so kept me up all day yesterday. I wasn't paying attention to time with the scry pool experiments last night so I'm going on day two without sleep. Let me get a couple hours and I'll meet you guys for dinner. I'll be able to pitch in then."
"That's too bad. I was going to try and speak with Troth today. Considering how much better you guys did with Ymir, I was planning on doing it with both of you there. I guess we can hold off until this evening then."
"I think you might as well go on without me. For the past few years Troth has kind of been ignoring me."
"No idea. I mean I can get His attention if I really push but He used to respond to me much easier than He does now. Even when I do get his attention I feel like I have to shout to make myself heard by Him. The weird thing is He never seems annoyed with me. I thought I had failed some vow and that was why He is so distant. I'm sure now that's not it. He notices oath-breakers alright, almost more than he is aware of truthful folks. So if you are going to try and contact him, I'm not sure how much help I would have been anyway."
"Alright. I'll see you later then."
"Oh... and Stone, do me a favor."
"Could you forget to mention to Kelloran that I'm off to bed? He is determined to nurse me back to health whether I want to be or not. I don’t think he realizes that until I heal the damage from the Realm of the Dead, I’m never going to be all right in the flesh.”
“I’m sure it can slip my mind. Go crash. I’ll see you at dinner.”
“Thanks.” said the exhausted Believer as he rose and slipped inside. Stone started to make plans as he turned and went to find Kelloran.
A few hours later the two townsmen were climbing down the steep stairs from Melcynda’s Peace. The path running out of the back of the White Stone cemetery was shorter but twice Stone had caught glimpses of movement in the woods that appeared to be goblins. Normally he would have run the little wretches down but he could not tell if any of them wielded the powerful crossbows. As long as the wood fiends had those ballistae, they were longer a nuisance but a true threat. Trekking through the White Woods and the Peace added an hour to the trip but it was surely goblin-proof.
“This would have been easier if we had just prayed in the Temple of Thorns. Troth is not as strongly allied to the Gods of Light as many but He still should have answered us there.” Stone remarked.
“He should but He is more strongly tied to the Woodland Altar.”
“I never considered Him much of a woodland type God.”
“I don’t think He is either. It has more to due with the fact that He invested a good deal of His power when the Woodland Altar was formed. The reason that the races are bound by their oaths here is because of His blessing.” Kelloran replied.
“Is He the one who makes violence impossible on the holy ground too?”
“I didn’t see that but He could be. Either way this is where I felt the strongest connect to the angels and so was able to trace their source.”
“Why don’t you take the lead here then? I’ll pour in what prayers I have but, after that encounter with Ymir, I think I’ll take a break from directly confronting the divine for a little while.”
“Sure thing. Let me prepare the Altar and we’ll begin in a couple minutes.”
Kelloran drew out of his pack a pair of gold candles and fit them into the candlesticks which adorned the stone table. He lit them as well as two cones of incense. Finally he lifted a heavy grey leather bound book from his satchel. The gold lettering on it read Oaths and Laws of the Watchmen of FallenStar. This he placed gently on the altar. With a practiced eye he looked over the table to see if the effect suited the image of the Oath Gods as he knew Him. He slid the candles a inch closer to the volume. “That should do it. You ready?”
“You start and I’ll add my prayers in.”
Kelloran stepped up to the altar and bowed his head. "Lord Troth I call on you. By the bonds you have laid here I seek your council on behalf of those who have been touched by your anger. Please tell us how we may set right the discord that lies between us."
In that moment, nothing moved within the clearing. Even the wind ruffled leaves stilled and fell silent. The presence of the God of Oaths drew itself out of everywhere at once. Neither mist nor light but some what akin to both, the essence of the Troth flowed out of the trees, the altar, the earth, the lattice, even from Stone and Kelloran themselves. The God stood at least as tall as Thomas or Evar, dresses in black robes with white piping.
"I have come. Tell me what you want of me." He commanded in a voice so rich it stunned Kelloran for a moment.
The templar sensed this was not a God who sought awe or wordy reverence. Direct respectful responses would go much further than veneration. Shaking off the effect of the God's voice and presence, Kelloran launched into the meat of the matter.
"Troth, your angels hover above the town of FallenStar. They are clearly angry with us..."
"Incorrect. I am not angry with your town as a whole. Continue."
"Um.. well... they... or you are angry with someone."
"While neither Stone nor I are truly followers of yours we would like to offer our services to help you resolve your dispute if possible."
"Specify what your motives are for this offer."
"I cannot really know exactly how Stone would answer that,” replied Kelloran sensing the God’s attention to detail. “so I'll simply state my own reasons."
"Your reply demonstrates a higher degree of wisdom than I had expected. Continue."
"My reasons are twofold. First I am a servant of the Gods. I see it as my duty to try and end any conflicts I see between my home and the Divine."
"Incorrect. You see it as your duty to try and end any conflicts you see between your home and those Divine who do not judge to be evil."
"You are right. I think we should be opposing the Dark Gods. My second reason is that your anger is affecting the physical world in the form of a red stain. The animals and plants around FallenStar have been changed by it and become dangerously hostile."
"You speak the truth well enough. I will stay My ire from FallenStar if you elicit the Jack O'Lantern's justice on the TellTaler for breaking the oath sworn to Me that he would never more rewrite the past."
"What did he rewrite?"
"That is unknown to me. I know his oath is broken but My memory is shaped now by his tampering."
"So you need us to get the Jack O'Lantern to pass judgment on the TellTaler for an action you know he committed but you have no idea what specifically that action was."
"Correct. It is my belief that the Jack O'Lantern will not act without specific knowledge of the TellTaler's tampering. My inability to punish the spirit for his wrong again me is the reason My wrath has festered into your world. I will banish the symptoms your land suffers from my anger for three months. When the new month rises in the month of Meadowsear I will let my angels deliver my umbrage for the TellTaler latest infraction again. Know that you and Stone will be included in my vexation should you fail to acquire the Jack O'Lantern verdict by that time. I require to know if you still wish to accept this accord."
Kelloran turned to Stone to ask him what he thought only to find the druid's attention was fixed on the tree beside him. "Stone!" the templar hissed through clenched teeth. "Your attention would be a really good thing just now."
The forestal snapped up his index finger at Kelloran, seemed to listen to some unseen voice for a moment more, then turned to his friend with a stormy look. "I WAS paying attention. That is until a lead to how to solve this mess came to me. Take the deal and I'll explain afterwards."
The restorer faced the God once more and spoke. "Very well, Troth. Stone and I will bring your grievance to the Jack O'Lantern with whatever proof we can acquire."
"Understand that bearing my case alone will not stay my hand. I will only relent in this matter when a verdict by the Jack O'Lantern has been passed."
"Then an accord has been made. By these oaths we are bound. I withdraw my angels as of now." With that the God vanished from sight.
"Sorry about that Stone. He was already in a edgy mood so I was afraid ignoring Him would really piss Him off."
"Well I had been following the whole thing until a minute before you turned around. A bendith y mamau was behind the tree looking for Madera. It overheard Troth and started giggling when the God said He could not tell what the TellTaler had done. I was about to shush it but then it said 'Ask the Woodswarder of the spirit fey for they can see past the Meddler's play. If she cannot or you wish no delay, work through he the Fabulist cannot sway." I asked it who the "he" was and of course it gave me another vague answer. "The one who can the Keeper of Oaths fool is the one who also can break time's rule. Be even finding him without Troth’s ear, may be the longer path to steer."
"I guess it's something. Any idea what the bendith meant?"