I have to face reality. You are dead.
Though, I am sure that you were dead long ago, with an illness eating your sanity, and destroying your body. Whether you thought so, or felt it, it had won, and was taking its time with you. Your body was a jail cell, a torture chamber. A man of your intellect, especially with your undying optimism, being reduced to an invalid; warming a bed in a home full of senile magicians; no one near you seeing you for who you are, but for what you’ve been made; decades of stagnation and decay. It is as sad a story as many written simply by fancies. I have talked to you for years, without a single twitch of your mouth, or flicker of an eyelid, but I still treasure our time together, however brief it was. A hundred years is too short a time.
I thank the Agent for his mercy. There are things worse than death, and he stopped the illness from having its ultimate victory.
My only regret is that I wasn’t able to help you accept the light and truth of Osiris. Your eternal bliss is not assured, and that troubles me. If I succeed, though, I might be given a favor. Of this I can only hope.
As every philosopher has mused, seeing the end I am reminded of the beginning. You taught me well and I never was wont for instruction. One thing you made sure I learned, proper respect, was possibly the greatest lesson you proffered. It is more timeless than any of the lessons learned at the hands of the Summoners and Wizards, though unfortunately I did not learn it when you taught me, but after blundering and coming to the truth for myself.
In all of the classes at the Guild, I was taught to never show weakness, and always show indifference at the least toward those around me; colleges, lessers, beings of power, anything sentient, or non-sentient, that crossed my path. They tried to force me to show respect to myself alone, and that any less would be a death sentence when coercing the magical energies to obey, or dominating demons, or defying nature. Unfortunately they changed more in me than I thought.
I know now, though, that those teachings were inherently flawed. They saw respect and deference as weaknesses. They are truly strengths. To be able to see power and acknowledge it is hugely important, especially on the battlefield. Great commanders and generals would often compliment a well-fought battle, whether they won or lost. This meant they could see what the enemy did, and how it worked against what they did. Only in that way could they ever learn, grow, and win the next battle. So it is with beings of power. If you acknowledge their power, you are not blind to their workings. You may puff yourself up with large words and snide remarks, but you will never be able to fight on the same field as anyone, unless you realize their power and accept their strengths. They will blindside you with their strengths, before you could see their weaknesses.
Due to the lesson of Respect, I have been able to show proper respect to my Gods. I have learned their strengths, and tried to emulate them. I think that due to my loss of you, I was predisposed to worshiping the Absent Father, Osiris. I have felt the loss Isis feels, and I found a morbid similarity. I could not know the depths of her loss. Her feelings are deeper, are heavier, than any mortal’s could possibly be. She lived an eternity with Osiris, ruling and teaching her children. Her love and mercy grew with each child she bore, growing infinitely. Even then, the ocean of her love was made dry because of the Betrayer, and she went mad. A being of light and knowledge went mad from loss and despair! No, I cannot say I have felt that. I do know, though, the flavor of loss, and it seasons my days and nights. I have been learning its savor for three decades, and I now have eaten its feast.
One other thing that you taught me was the danger of Pride. Pride is a man’s shadow. It makes a man taller than he is, though it is flimsy and when exposed to True Light it dies and disperses. Pride makes men blind. When you only respect yourself, you don’t see anyone’s strength, and see only weakness around you and things to be used. It is the core of the selfish and self-centered. They build themselves up, but they have no foundation and eventually collapse. Pride is the center of every other flaw a man has, and it fertilizes them till they flourish.
Father, I fear for my group mates. I fear that Anger, Fear, and Pride have taken hold of them. I am far from perfect, but they have started down roads I cannot follow. They antagonize our enemies, calling names and frothing at the mouth. They are riled up about what they are told by our enemies, and sometimes at the smallest perceived slight. Everything that is done to them they take into themselves and make it part of them, allowing it to taint their souls.
I overheard a prayer of one that has had a recent tragedy befall him and his tribe a few days past and I was appalled at what the war with the shadow has done to darken his soul. He forsook deference, and assumed indifference toward those who Will destroy him, and to those who Will be his salvation. He was consumed by his Shadow; he could only see his pain, and how his fury was just, and how he would destroy all that opposed him. All else is but pebbles, to be overlooked and trodden underfoot of HIM, The All Important. He has called upon himself a danger that we cannot confront. We are Anointed of the Light. We worship the Gods of Light, especially Her Lady Isis, and Her Love, Osiris. We do not give heed to the Dark Voices, and do not accept them into our souls, and absolutely cannot ever pray to them. We cannot be stopped in our quest and we cannot be turned from the path!
This experience has brought me back to the days when I worshiped the Depraved. I was still a proud, thickheaded youth of 75, and thought myself invincible. I looked at the humans around me, feebly gathering their offspring around them by my age, and dying softly of infirmaries I couldn’t even fathom. I was full of vigor, health, and pride. I was filling my head and time with the lies of the Insane One. I did his bidding, and reveled in the time I spent with Helgriven, the Night Owl adviser I had attracted. I forgot your teachings. I forgot to forsake my Pride, and show Respect and Deference. If I had, I would have realized the depravity of my ways sooner. It took an emissary of light to finally open my eyes to reality.
I have seen the dark, I have lived in the shadow, and only after I found the light did I realize that I didn’t have to be of the dark to understand the joy and peace the light brings. I look at the worshipers that were born with the light in their cradles, and see how they envy the conviction that I have, as if being engulfed in shadow and coming to the light is a badge of honor. The priests in the temple couldn’t stop beaming about it. But it isn’t worth praise. You don’t have to be defeated to be converted. You simply have to Respect, Listen, and Love. If I had listened to the priest in the church in White Ash when I arrived decades ago, I would have been spared the anguish of Bes.
I see much the same knowledge of the Dark in my companion, Cava. I know that he has seen what no mortal eyes see. He has seen the darkness, and was turned away, into the light. I fear that the War Wizard is headed on that same road in the wrong direction.
At the end of things, I have heard the reverie called a ‘euphoric recollection.’ This means we forget the bad, and only think of how good things were. Most ‘healers’ I have run across have said that this is a bad thing. I do not think so! If we never focused on the good, we would be engulfed in the sorrow! I realize that the life you made for us was very hard, and I hated most of the time that we spent with my ‘aunts.’ I can’t but smile in remembering our life, though. We always had a roof, always had a good bed, and hot meals. Travelling with CrIsis definitely is not that easy. I loved the life, though. There were always things for a young elf to do, especially since we never stayed more than a month in any town, and usually not more than a couple of days. Few truly know their country the way that a bard does.
Oh! I almost forgot to tell you! I worked with Terramore Gleba! He travelled for a time with us, the rapscallion. He’s just as long-winded as I remember. He didn’t seem to remember me, though, so I didn’t press the issue.
Anyway, this side-track was all about keeping your eye on the good, to not be swallowed by the bad, and I think I need to remind CrIsis that their lives are the least like a crisis out of all inhabitants of Palladium!If you open any of the books of CrIsis, you’ll not get more than a fifth of the way in without running into mention of one of the Gods of the Pantheon of Ra SHOWING themselves to a single member of CrIsis, or all at once! It’s not even limited to the Pantheon of Ra! The Dragonwright has shown itself, and walked and talked with them! Oh, how much I wish I could have met the great Kym-nark-mar!
This all is beside all of the times that the Gods’ hands have been present in their lives! The miraculous resurrections, two of which I have personally been present for! I saw Xerx’ses broken, far beyond any mortal hand could repair. Minutes later he arose! Not simply awake, but strong enough to walk to a cliff and write a missive in his own blood! Nothing save godly blessings could be attributed for that!
I also seem to recall from my studies of the Books that in so many dens of evil, the six adventurers left with their lives, and fortunes in gold, gems, and items. The Gods have allowed in personal indulgences and in personal vendettas as well. The war rages and CrIsis is the Gods’ hand. What has been done, but tarry in errands and vengeance? In years of travel, a small number of pieces have been returned compared to the number discovered. It worries me.
Not many things strike fear into my heart, thanks to your confident air you passed on to me, and my time as a Summoner. I have stood against Elementals, Charging War Gods, Demons, Deevils, Jinn, and none has made my pulse race and knees weak the way that hearing my True Name uttered by an Agent of the Dark does. The biggest fear I have is that my mistakes in the past will be my undoing. When I hear my True Name uttered by the black-souled, my soul turns to ice. It reminds me of what I have done, and knowing that no amount of penance can change that. I know that forsaking the past, accepting my punishments, and forging on will mean that it wasn’t for naught.
So, I must use this ‘bravery,’ this absence of fear, and help my group mates. The way you did, when I was afraid at bar fights, or thugs, or cutpurses stopping us on the road. I was young, and I did not know how to react. I had not seen such violence or such danger, and wasn’t equipped to handle it, or to understand my own emotions. My companions haven’t had the ‘merciful’ instruction I received at the hands of Summoners. They aren’t equipped to see death and destruction, personal attacks, or powerful, uncaring, entities’ looks of hateful disregard.
It is in fear of destruction and in hope of vindication that I always end my journal entries with the prayer,
Power to Osiris, and Glory to Ra; May their glory and light save us all.
When I finally declared you dead, I did not blame anyone. I did not fault the disease, it was doing as it does. I did not curse the Agent, he released you and was doing as his god wanted. I did not even blame the light for forsaking you. It happened, and it was done. I felt sadness that I wouldn’t see you soon, and that I was leagues away when it happened. I cried the night I allowed for the possibility of your death to sink in. It only helps me grow, though, and will not hinder me, as you would have preferred I am sure. I love you, and will miss you, until, by some happy twist of fate, that we meet again.
Graves picture from flickriver.com