Phantasmagoria - Chapter 19

Author: Albie


Stone shook his head, as if to clear the fatigue that still plagued them all; his worry over his brother’s apparent disregard for himself still evident, even after all the years of experiencing it.  “Thomas and I spent most of the last few days out in the woodlands, calming those few creatures still active, and continuing to put out the wildfires whenever we could.  I actually missed most of the other excitement: The Sanctuary of Fire reappearing, the fourth Arcani being claimed, all of it.  I would have loved to have seen that with my own eyes.” 

Wearily, Kelloran sank back into his chair.  “Chells, it sure is good to see you again.  We really could have used your help recently.  And there is much to tell.  I don’t have all the facts straight in my head yet, because this is all connected to so many things; things that I wasn’t a part of, things that I don’t know the answers to... Let me try to start at the beginning and I tell you what I know.  Stone, Thomas, interject whenever there is something I leave out.  One of you guys want to go get Auri, Ex and Raith?  They know a hells of a lot more about most of it.” 

Thomas pulled himself to his feet, even his seemingly boundless energy temporarily tapped.  “I’ll go see if I can find them.  Ex said he was going to the Woodland Altar to check the extent of the damage.  I think Auri Lee was going with him.  I don’t know where Raith went, but I’ll look around.”

His ephemeral form solidifying slightly, Chells sank into the chair opposite Kelloran.  “Tell me what you can, and we’ll see what we can piece together.” 

“You are getting better at manifesting, Chells, you hardly echo at all,” said Stone.  “Your ‘body’ is also better, I can hardly see through it.  The body doesn’t matter so much, but damn I hated that echo!”

“All right, let me see, I guess I’ll start where it started back up again for us” said Kelloran, shifting deeper into his chair.  “We were here in the tavern, putting back a few, when Gift told us about how her sword was burning her every so often, and she was pretty sure it was linked to the eruption of the wildfires.  Using a pyroad tear, a fire nymph tear, I was able to commune with the salamander that inhabited the blade.  It was reacting to a few different influences, the wildfires and the spirit of Amber Firegold.  Amber benignly possessed Gift, and led us to Surtur’s torch, as well as all the way to Starwatch, where we saw a vision of five keys being scattered to time.  One of which I pulled from the very fire at Starwatch.  We were unclear at the time as to their true purpose, but we did know that they were well hidden.  And that we would need them to unlock the fourth Arcani.”

“And you found the other four?  And freed H’Rathner?” asked Chells.

“Yeah, we did, but that was after a whole other chain of events.  And remember how we were trying to figure out who was behind the Bane of War?  We found that out too.  I’ll get to that.”  Kelloran got up and went behind the bar, poured another stout, and walked back to his chair.  He half sat, half collapsed into it, and it was then that Chells realized that the Restorer no longer wore his ever-present Ankh around his neck.  Kelloran followed Chells’ gaze, and shook his head. “Later.  I need to talk to you about some things.  In case something happens before then, I want you to know this information first.  It’s the most important for all of us.”

“We did free H’Rathner.  It took us going back in time, or seeing back in time, or something along those lines.  I’m not really sure.  We kind of got taken into the stories that were being shown.  Once I was Yatagan; once a water-child; once even a goblin raising the Phoenix.  In each of these times, we gained one more of the Forge Keys.  These five keys allowed us to open the protective circle binding H’Rathner.  As Raith, Ex and I all bear Arcani already, the only one among us who could take it up was Auri Lee.  At first I was very hesitant to allow this, knowing that something is not quite right with his connection to Inquisitor Galen Law.  We really had no alternative though, you were missing, Stone and Thomas hadn’t been seen in days, and it had to be done immediately.”  Kelloran shifted his beer from hand to hand.  “He seemed pretty…stable, I guess toward the end.  He stopped calling himself Galen or Auri intermittently and just went by Auri.  I hope the choice doesn’t come back to haunt us later.  We are going to need all the help we can get to face the pawns of War.  The scourges are moving against us in a great game, with only the new Arcani Bearers as potential blockers.  We need all the help and understanding we can get, and can’t afford these crises of personality, faith, and confidence.”  The Restorer looked to Stone for support.  “Any other input?  Anything you might have seen in the woodlands, or talked to anyone about?”

Stone shrugged, “Like I said, I really missed most of the excitement.  I had a few run-ins with some fire nymphs, a close call with a fire cultist, and that was about the extent of it.  It’s a lot of work to try to put out wildfires all over the forest, you know!”

“I guess I can continue then,” Kelloran sighed.  “Let’s see, I think, to skip most of the less important stuff, I’ll get to the main thing that we learned during this fiasco.  We learned that our primary adversary in all of the Elemental Wars calls itself Bazarmoth, which means ‘Dark Mother’.  And get ready for this, it’s Telaras.” Kelloran stopped talking, and looked around.  “You know, I really thought I’d be dead if I uttered that to anyone else.  We know that this is the root of the problem.  She is attempting to wear the Mantles of all Elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire, in the power play to assume complete mastery over Void.  We have to move fairly quickly, and make sure that the one remaining Mantle, that of Water, gets an owner.  Herglemar, Yanti, Pyrus, and Furlich, all had them.  When Pyrus died, Telaras threw herself into his death column, and went to the Inferno.  From there she has reached out and plucked the strings of fate, stretching back as far as the Age of Kingdoms.  Sorry, I’m rambling here, just trying to get out all I can.  I haven’t had great luck lately, and I’m not sure how long the gods will let me babble before they strike me down.”  Kelloran looked at Chells, knowing how all the information must be jumbled about in his head.  “We need to get a plan of action moving.  I for one am not about to let the creature that masters the universe be someone who is completely insane from seeing a lover die.  We all have hardships, but we can’t afford to crack.  She is immortal, insane, and with near limitless power.  I don’t know about you, but that scares the hells out of me.”

Kelloran leaned forward and picked up his cloak.  “I’m going to try to get some rest.  If Auri, Raith or Ex Ardesco come and fill in any blanks, let me know.  Until then, I’ve got some things to work out.  Stop by the shop later Chells, I really need to talk to about some other things.  ‘Night, Stone, sleep well if you can.”  The Restorer swept his dark cloak around himself, and headed out into the already cooling night.