Phantasmagoria - Chapter 22

Author: Albie


Kelloran’s thoughts drifted for what seemed like hours, sending his mind ranging through all of the times that he felt himself and his friends had been pushed in certain directions without being able to control the shape of their own destiny. How given just a few more minutes to think up a plan, they might have come up with a solution for Krenowan that did not involve him getting killed. For instance, it would have been a small matter to use simple spells like feign death to allow the zombies to collect a finger; not like it shouldn’t have been easy for two templar healers to restore to the shaman. Or perhaps Krenowan would have had his own plan, if as Chells speculated, he really had to disappear from the world for fifty years. Perhaps one of his druid-like abilities would have allowed him to meld with a lone tree, or even become one. Without the time it took to formulate a plan, the two had been left with only Chells’ plan: let him die. It just didn’t seem right. Kelloran hated the fact that while his mind was capable of coming up with ingenious solutions to problems, it just wasn’t fast enough to make him the mental master that he saw in some of his other companions. With time to reflect, he saw dozens, perhaps hundreds of possible plans and alternatives that would have allowed them to follow what he considered the moral path.

This was a big part of his crisis of faith. He had been forced to perform too many actions that separated him from his moral center. It felt like events were out of control. In his minds eye, he saw the gods laughing behind their cosmic curtain, forcing these mortals into decisions that were clearly not what should be right and good. At the same time, he saw that most of the extant gods were those who had ascended from mortality. Perhaps this was a flaw in the system: that these mortals were playing at being gods rather than wielding true divinity. His questions were never ending, and blasphemous all. He wondered what agency was controlling this change in attitude. The once pious priest was asking all the wrong questions, poking holes in faith, and hurting his own underlying core. If it was all a test, he was sure he was failing. To forget an oath spoken to a god? Even in a time of trials? Kelloran could not believe his own actions. If Troth had truly cursed Fallenstar, then only he was to blame. Perhaps this god of oaths was truly at the heart of the problem. Or perhaps it was a side effect of the Arcani infusion. Or the Bane of War. Or a dozen other things he could think of. Whatever it was, Kelloran was the most unsure of himself as he had been in his entire life. The only thing pushing him now was the same thing he was sure was the problem, the constant drive of events, never slowing. He knew the War of Shadow was coming, he felt it in his soul, but the answers to those questions and the actions that the Arcani bearers needed to take were clouded and blocked from his mind. Something was here, he knew he was getting to the heart of the matter.

In a flash it was all gone from his mind as he heard breaking deadfall not far from his makeshift camp. Reaching for Tendril, he cleared his mind and prepared his spells. While it didn’t seem like a large creature, these days, even small animals were potential hazards. Kelloran slowly pushed dirt over the embers of his dying fire, taking care not to look at the coals, trying to improve what little night eyes he had. The dark luminescence of his smoke wrapped sword was a small comfort as he braced for what might be his first or last battle of the night. He didn’t fear death, but the path there was not usually very pleasant. Minutes passed and no further sign of danger presented itself, but the Restorer knew he would not sleep much this night.

Shivering himself awake, Kelloran felt the throb of his ring, and knew that Stone was in trouble. Not dead, not dying, but hurt pretty badly. Then, as quickly as it came, the knowledge left. “Probably used some of Thorns help, I hope he’s alright,” he croaked to himself as he gathered his gear. The spell that the Sprite King had gifted him with was in almost constant use by the Restorer these days. He had marked all those who were waging this slow battle of attrition. Unless someone came up with a plan soon, they would all be in for a horrible year.

A full days walk further brought him to the site of Krenowan’s fall, one that just a year ago had been one of his own terrors, the Lost Gods altar. He recognized it immediately, and the images of the Shaman’s death replayed themselves over and over again to the Restorer. His eyes began to fill with tears, and he sat himself down to consider what to do. Coming here had been necessary, of that he was sure, but the pool refused to lay out the entire future for him.

He closed his eyes and let his mind begin to drift again. He thought of the fields beyond Fallenstar, with their golden waves already starting to show signs of a good harvest, he thought of sun, bathing those crops with beautiful golden light, what was this stream of consciousness? Why was he thinking about gold and life and…His mind became fully aware of the presence now filling it. Gevistah. His mind was awash in the burnished yellow aura that hummed through his entire body. He was completely at ease, not a care filled the Restorer’s heart. He felt a second presence and knew immediately that all was forgiven. He could clearly see the Shaman enveloped in the Lost God’s protective being.

“Do not blame yourself, brother, for I am with kindred light here. When I was struck down, it was meant to be. I was to join Q’palg in death, and that was all right. Yet your Compassion has allowed me to join Gevistah instead. His link to you is undeniable. Q’palg is not angry at your friend, nor am I. You needed to prove your desire to set things right alone, however, without the aid of friends, companions or the divine. This you have done. No, I don’t have all the answers to your questions, but I can tell you that you must do as we all must, listen to your heart. It always speaks the truth. These moral provinces were part of what I dealt with in corporeal life. And I will share it with you now. While the Shaman’s path is not yours, for a brief time, I can give you part of my knowledge. This gift will find it’s way into the right hands through yours. Do not give up my brother. I will see you again, and we will rejoice in the light.”

The Restorer slowly opened his eyes, and found that he felt better than he had in years. His gear lay neatly beside him, and the sun was just peeking over the horizon. The sun was just rising! A whole night had passed! He hurriedly got up, and picked up his satchel. A single blue feather blew from the open top, and floated down in front of him. The message clear, Kelloran streaked back for town, not caring if he turned an ankle, or ran into monsters.  There was still Troth and his angels to deal with, as well as the looming darkness of the War of Shadow but for this moment Kelloran was free of doubts.  The path before him was finally clear.