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How Did I Get Back Here?
In my myriad adventures I have been stabbed, slashed, bludgeoned, beaten, bull rushed, bitten, clawed, burned, frozen, electrified, thrown, mummified, corroded, skewered, shot, and eaten.

Never have I experienced such pain as this.

Allow me to backtrack momentarily to bring events current. We decided to rest by the well, to regain our strength and prepare for whatever danger lurked at the bottom. Apparently, the danger was not content to wait for us. Two black ghostly shapes emerged and proceeded to drink of our health.

Once we sent them back to their eternal slumber and healed ourselves of our hurts, we descended after whatever lay in wait for us. I did not expect it to be a boy.

The lad told us that he couldn't hold 'it' back anymore, and that we should flee, ere we die. We've stared death in the face often enough, so we'd make no exception here. Then the monstrous worm thing revealed itself, causing us to momentarily reconsider that line of thought.

Nyran's ephemeral fighting...creatures were surely instrumental in our victory. I think, however, that under the circumstances, my action was slightly more important. I figured that something such as this wouldn't have any great protections against the bladesong, so I used it. I consider it a pity that most of my other attacks against it were flung wide, but when it counted, I connected. After its first devastating assault on us, I doubt we could have afforded much more that this thing could do.

It died soon thereafter, and presented us with its next incarnation; a foul thing the likes of which we'd fought once before. The runes and symbols flashing and glowing from its chest gave itself away to us. It would have been a thing of little concern to us now, save that our blades seemed to simply pass through the bloody thing.

Nevertheless, it posed no serious threat to us, despite completing the work on Arilyn that its worm form had begun. After reviving Arilyn, I briefly noticed the coatl lying in the skeletal remains of the worm thing, all that was left when the shadow thing formed itself from the flesh of the dead beast.

It was then that I noticed that my queen had been obliterated. I ran back to Telariel, what was left of her, and slumped to the floor, wondering how I could have let her die. I immediately sank into a despondency that was thankfully short-lived, as she soon sprang back to life before my eyes.

It was about then that I noticed that the coatl was gone, and in its place were three elven-looking women, who had wings and no legs but snake-like tails. There was some talk of wishes, and I soon deduced that someone had used one to resurrect Telariel. The second of the elven-snake women gave Anwar her bow, leaving us with one. While everyone else was arguing over the wisdom of various requests, and who should get the final request, I knew what I had to do.

We have been carrying the crystals for a long time, keeping them safe and reaping only the most tangential benefits. I have created another life, completely unawares, and we have otherwise done nothing with them but keep them safe. We've had little time to study them, little time to figure out what, precisely, we are supposed to do with them when we have assembled them all. We have carried these things with us, and have barely given thought to the awesome responsibility that they entail, that we carry with us when we acquire them. I felt--no, I knew--that we had to have some knowledge of how to use them, and the power they really contained.

Thus did I stand before these strange, beautifully dignified god(s) and make my request: I asked to know everything about the crystals and how to use them. There was some hesitation, but I was sure in my request. I knew that we would need this, perhaps not immediately, but down our road, we would certainly have need of it.

The remaining aspect came forward, and after waving her hand through the air in some sort of ritual motion, she reached her fingers toward my forehead. I noticed a single tear spilling from her eye, and then all I remembered was the pain...the pain of suddenly understanding everything, all at once. It was excruciating, but the wonder of all that knowledge! I could make sense of very little of it, but I could almost grasp so much more than I ever had been able. The crystal, when it was revealed to us, was more beautiful than ever it had been; it was like looking at all of creation, spinning and sparkling away beneath me, and I could see it all: all the planes, every blade of grass in every field, every pine needle, every pebble on every mountain...but oh, it hurt. It did not leave me blubbering and incoherent as when I had read the Words of Creation, but the pain of holding all that, and my sanity, was several orders of magnitude greater. It was the greatest joy and the absolute worst pain I have ever experienced. Now that my head has cleared somewhat, I find it difficult to call up at will the knowledge that was given me, but I know it's there, and I will find it.

From the journal of Islan Diemyn

Contributor: Chris Schuettpelz