Land In Revolt Interludes XI
Niven lay motionless in the shallow hole that would be his grave. As his life slipped from his body, he reflected on his various exploits over the years. He chuckled inside his mind as he realized one’s life actually does pass before their eyes when you die.
He mused on his past writings, his best poems. He basked in the satisfaction of how his words so often turn the tides of fortune in his favor. He recounted his best heists; the switcheroos that almost got him killed numerous times and the rush that accompanied the success. He envisioned all the dungeon crawls that brought him to fabulous treasures. One of them had been in the ziggurat with the Golden Saviors.
The Golden Saviors. The Heroes he named after that fateful day in Valencia. Through his storytelling, their exploits spread far and wide. He never would have guessed his association with the do-gooders would lead to his untimely demise. As usual, Sirene was to blame for leading him to the damnable place to begin with.
That’s when Niven came to the last conclusion of his lifetime. All these memories, so many of them included his rival. Sirene was a motivating force in so many of Niven’s major undertakings. On many occasions, he had literally changed the course of his life so he could keep up with her. It turns out he wasn’t trying to best her or humiliate her when all was said and done. He was trying to be close to her.
Because he loved her. And he would never be able to tell her. The thought crushed him. Sorrow would be the last emotion the Bard experienced as he shed his mortal coil.
“There, there my child,” said the ethereal voice. “No more sadness. It’s time for you to rest.”
Though Niven couldn’t move his body, somehow he felt himself taking the hand of the motherly woman before him and he felt peace.
* * *
“Two days here and I already HATE it,” complained Jake. “If I had known Light’s plan for me involved digging holes in the middle of NOWHERE, I’m not sure I would’ve been so quick to take up the mantle.”
“But Jake,” replied Finn, “the Beacon said-”
“I know damn well what the Beacon said!” snapped Jake. “Light told him we should be here. Well, that’s all well and good but Light didn’t say anything to ME about it. And since I’M the one who’s stuck here I have every right to complain about it. I’ve been taking a lot of leaps of faith lately. This latest one is the biggest yet especially since I have to take the word of-”
Jake cut himself off when his spade made contact with something hard in the soil. He poked at the ground. The action returned an audible “clink” each time he did so. “That’s…odd. Finn, help me out here.”
The two young Lightbearers dug furiously in order to uncover whatever lied beneath. After a few minutes, Jake dropped to his knees to wipe away the loose dirt. “It looks like some kind of large ring,” Jake reported. “If the circle goes all the way around, it’s probably about twenty feet wide.” Brushing away more of the dirt, Jake could make it out clearer. “We’ve got some runes here, Finn. I wish we had an arcansit to make them out…wait a minute. Oh. Oh my…”
“What is it, Jake?” asked Finn cautiously. “Is…is it bad?”
“If it’s what I THINK it is, stopping in this godsforsaken village may just be worth it. Go grab some of the others to help us.”
With the help of their fellows, Finn and Jake had the Essenceway uncovered in less than an hour. The group of them stood over it, gawking. Jake was the first to break the silence. “Well I’ll be damned. Would you look at that. An honest to goodness Essenceway. And it’s actually OPEN on top of it!”
“What do you think it’s doing out here?” asked one of the others. “Nine Hells if I know, Sister,” replied Jake. “But it’s a special day when you come across a working Essenceway. This opens up a lot of possibilities for us.” The sparkling Essence reflected off of Jake’s teeth that showed through his huge grin.
“But Jakey,” Finn said, “I heard these things were really, really dangerous.”
“Sure,” replied Jake. “They could be. Or not. Who knows? But you could get melted by dragonbreath if you were crossing the street in Wyldshire a few weeks ago. Life’s about taking risks, Finn. And I think, Brothers and Sisters, this one is worth it. Light brought us here for a reason. I don’t think it gets more obvious than THIS,” he said pointing at the Essenceway. The looks exchanged among those assembled told Jake it was hard to argue his point. “Thought so,” he said answering himself. “I suppose all that’s left is figuring out who’s the first in…”
In unison, all eyes slowly shifted towards Finn. The big man had his finger in his ear as he stared intently at the Essenceway. When he finally looked up, he noticed everyone was focused on him.
“What are you all…ohhhhhhhhhhh. Fiddlesticks.”
* * *
Raxis looked down at the puny short-life. What pathetic sacks of flesh they were. So weak. So feeble. And the smell. When there were so many together, like in Wyldshire, their stench was so bad he could taste it. If you roasted one of them well enough, however, they suddenly became quite… palatable.
Sometimes they were also quite useful.
This human, in particular, understood what respect was. He comprehended the extent of the majesty before him. Granted, Raxis knew the conniving little worm was looking only to further his own, short-sighted goals. The wretch sought to grab as much power as he could no matter the cost. It was actually the only aspect of the short-life of which Raxis approved. Because, in the end, the human’s actions (along with those of his brethren) would lead to Her rise.
They discussed plans in detail. Raxis agreed to commit his Elite to the effort. The human ensured the Ancient Wyrm his people would fulfill their duty to the Queen, that events were already in motion. Raxis was pleased at this. His machinations were coming along swimmingly.
As the lowly short-life turned to leave, Raxis addressed him. “One last thing, servant of my Queen,” bellowed the mighty dragon. “There is a human in which I have great interest. Should you come across him in your endeavors, I ask you ‘acquire’ him for me. He need not be in one piece when you return him.”
“I shall do as you request, Great One,” the caitiff replied with a nod. “What is the poor soul’s name?”
With a sneer, the massive dragon growled, “Worgrave.” The short-life said no more and took his leave.
Alone, Raxis envisioned the glorious future to come. The Old Gods were leaving. His Queen would be the only deity Majeria needed. All others would crumble before Her might. He would be her consort and her voice. Old debts would be settled, dragonkind would rule unchallenged (as it should have all this time) and Raxis would be the strongest of his kin.
He imagined drinking rivers of blood and his mouth watered.