The sun blares down from high in the sky. A waft of sand is carried from far below, as it burns my eyes. The tree of life stands as a monument in and of itself, surrounded by a lush garden, this is where she sleeps. On the top of this mountain, in the middle of this desert, it is hard to believe that such beauty can exist here.|
So here we stand, I can sense that he is almost ready. He calls me his master, but I can already feel that he will soon over shadow me. It still feels strange to be home, though it has been almost three years since we journeyed here, across the Kharse. To the desert oasis, home of my family and resting place of the goddess L'Antwene.
In the days following the defeat of Aram, the world existed in a semi-haze. Aesia, Elana, retook her place amongst the stars, never greeting us upon our return. I remember prior to passing through the gate, into the Palace Of The Sun that she said that she would see me again. As if it were fate, my future. Perhaps it just means that when my time here is done, I will be visited by her before the end.
When we returned from Aram's mock version of the Palace Of The Sun, which he called the Palace of the Moon, we did so victoriously. At many points in that battle, did I almost give up hope, especially near the end, as it seems my mind itself was tearing apart. I only saw the final blow out of the corner of my eye, but it was fitting that Islan be the one to finish this. His people were the ones who were being lost, taken by the apathy that Aram sought to veil the world with. While I wish I had been more lucid when the final blow came, in the end, the result was the same, we as a team had defeated Aram.
Threnody had become perhaps our greatest ally at this point. A fact that many of our party could not handle. Anwar's indiscriminate hatred for her for what she was and Arilyn's rage for what she had done to her, blinded them to the soul within her that screamed to be more than an agent of destruction. In the end, it was because of her that we made it as far as we did. It was her that perhaps fought the most against Aram. It was her that decided to bond with the crystals, to bring balance to destruction, to see it as part of the cycle of rebirth, instead of as a means to suicide.
With Threnody's help, we left the Palace Of The Sun or where ever it was we were. We returned to the grove from which we left. We were greeted with much joy as people could feel Aram's influence fading away. The gnawing sense of apathy that filled the land was receding. In fact, when we returned the only one that was not there to greet us, that was present when we left was Elana, the young goddess Aesia. That night though, looking to the sky, Islan pointed out a bright burst, saying it signified her return. Aesia was home. Elana, was home.
Upon safe return to Thanandir, I sensed it was time to leave. My student sensed this as well. However, at Suzara's request, we stayed on for a while longer. We all did. She was to become queen, but was overwhelmed and needed the support of her friends. She had never been more than a druid and while Thanandir did resemble a forest in many ways, it was not. This was especially evident in Suzara's demeanor while there, as she became noticeably uncomfortable while in the castle. I'm unsure as to whether-or-not this was due to being in such a large, but still confining area, or if it was due to the pressure that this meant she was to be queen.
Either way, we all stayed to help her sort things out. She was a friend and a good person, there was no way we could not.
On the thirtieth day, Suzara's made her first act as queen, to thank us for all we had done for her, Tel-Tenauril and the world itself. She sought to present us with gifts of magic. Rings that signified us as the highest ranking agents imaginable to the Elven courts. While I did appreciate the gesture, I did not feel right about taking this gift and though it was much appreciated, I did turn it down, asking that such an honor be given to a more worthy soul. Bowing my head graciously, Athragar and I took leave of the queen and her new court wizard, Islan Diemyn; along with all of our friends and companions. With nothing more said, we left Thanandir that night, never looking back. Our path still lay ahead of us. I still do not know if they knew they would not see us again.
So southward we traveled. A few days later, we convinced a ships Captain to give us passage across the straits in exchange for work and thus we were in Sellador.
We traveled for several weeks through the war worn nation of Sellador. From the stories, while doing battle, the nations of Sellador and Gideon had been at war. Gideon attempting to retain its sovereignty and Sellador seeking to expand its borders. In the heat of one of their most epic battles, a silence was heard and a new enemy showed its face. The dead began to rise. The fallen warriors from both sides began to take arms against their former comrades. It seems the Reaver from across the sea, from the isle of the dead, where we had shipwrecked so long ago, had decided to make a move against Sellador. A war was fought for 2 years, but at the end of it, two things came about, one the human nations had survived and was victorious. Two, Sellador and Gideon now shared a Common ruling family. It seems, that during the war, a lost ancestor to the Selladorian ruling family was found. I'm unsure of her name, but the name that caught my ear, was that of her new king, one Gailin Verdain. Friend of my friend, Aeric.
So, we continued south towards the desert Kharse. Nervousness held us both, as we were getting closer to testing ourselves as few ever did. We were to cross the desert on foot. I knew, that compared to Aram, the wastelands would be a lesser challenge, but it would be a weeks journey at the least, and in prolonging the danger, so was the challenge presented. The dangers to be had were not only due to the number of undead creatures which roam the desert, left in the wake of the sundering, but from the fact the the sands themselves were poisonous.
We traveled quickly and slept little. It was too dangerous to sleep. Lay down and you risk breathing the sand directly in your mouth, or sleep too well and you risk not waking up again. Four days in, our supply of water ran out. While I could feel my thirst, I seemed to fair well considering. This however was almost more than Athragar could take, with in two days he could barely stand. There though, in the distance, like a monument, I could see Mt. Aradt. My home.
Though some might frown on me for helping my student as I did, it was our test, not just his. Ao I lifted him as much as I could. Being that he is almost twice my size, I still somehow managed to carry the bulk of his weight so that he might walk. For hours we walked, Athragar barely lucid, until, as I had done for so many travelers before, I saw a figure, robed traveling toward us from the mountain. It was Amael. He had seen us from atop the mountain.
With him he brought water and herbs. It seems Athragar is stronger than most, as he required but a few bits of water before he was back to his feet. Together the three of us traveled, back to the mountain. Where Athragar's training would begin.
So here I stand, three years later, ready to face off with Athragar once more. This time, I feel he is ready. Soon we will leave this place once more, return to the world and help those in need. For now though, we will spar.
My foot slides across the ground to the side of me, widening my stance. I can see Athragar waiting for me or so he thinks. Quickly, I bound ahead, three long strides, more jumps than anything, launching into the air, attempting to catch him off guard. Just as I taught him though, he is ready. He spins his body with my kick, coming around with a two punch combo before I can land.
I tuck my body and roll, stopping on my hands and moving into a cartwheel kick. As I go to land back on my feet, he attempts to sweep them from under me. I hop once, spinning, hoping to connect a kick, he is ready though and fades back, dodging. As I land, I move directly into an open palmed hit to the chest. I stop short. The wind has stopped. The tree of life behind me still sways. Inside, I can see power awakening and then fading. Repetitious.
Our lesson here is over. I must find Amael.
L'Antwene is trying to awaken and that means that the world is in more danger than anyone can comprehend.
|Associated Regions: Mt. Aradt, Kharse|
|From the journal of Jacques|
Contributor: Drew Butler