Part 24: Faith

8 to Wakening Sun, Voelis

It took us until the evening to arrive in Ellandyr. The travel distance itself wasn’t terribly long, but the relentless winds made movement difficult. On many occasions I felt the wind about to blow me right over, but Shadow and Torag helped steady me. Actually, I think Torag’s height may have put him at a severe disadvantage moving in the wind like we were; higher up as he was, he was more prone to sudden gales and almost toppled himself many times. 

Speaking of Torag, he and Shadow seemed to have made up. They excused themselves from the group for a time and had words with each other. They both seemed to forgive one another for what happened last night. I don’t know what they said to each other, but I’m glad it’s been worked out. Shadow is smiling more now. Torag is his usual gruff self, though he seemed very thoughtful and still of mind as we traveled. I overheard him speaking with Briar and Clio about creating some potions. I wonder if they’ll taste any better than the nasty one you gave me when I first met you. While they were talking, the three of them decided to keep their heads down in the city. Being feyfolk, Clio and Briar were feeling uneasy. Torag is a minotaur, and minotaurs are apparently used as slaves here. 

I had been thinking last night while trying to sleep about what Shadow and I spoke of yesterday, and announced my thoughts to the group. We are amassing fame as we do heroic things. Perhaps that fame can lead people to follow us and stand up to the titans. The others seemed to agree, and we came up with a plan for speaking with Acastus: Rendu and Shadow, the two who know the most about the noble courts of Ellandyr, would be the party’s mouthpiece. The rest of us would remain quiet and listen, volunteering information where needed. But we had to keep two things secret: first, the king mustn’t find out about the Horn of Selesnya. And two, no one should know Actaeon’s true identity as a former Dragonlord. Such information may be used against us.

We arrived in Ellandyr, dodging gales and rain as best as we could. Tarkon and his fellow captains could not fly in this weather so they walked their dragons alongside us. There were understandably few people in the streets, and those we saw looked wet and unhappy. Tarkon had been ordered to bring us to the Great Palace in the center of the city – the same place Shadow and I went when we were summoned by Aminatou weeks ago. As we went there-

It was awful. I was absolutely terrified. He was there again, in the clouds, looming over us. The Lord of Storms, his terrible visage, above me again, just like when he killed my mother. I cowered and hid myself as best as I could. I’m so ashamed. Torag took the brunt of the lightning strike from the titan, but he stood his ground and laughed at the sky. Shadow was shocked, too, but he managed to avoid much of the spell as he tried to protect Thumble. Tarkon called us to make haste and we ran into the palace.

I cast a few spells to dry our clothes, trying to mask my panic outside. I don’t think anyone noticed. While we waited to be summoned in to see the king and queen, Dia found us and… I was overjoyed to see her again. I can’t believe how much we all missed her! How much I missed her! I promised to fill her in on our misadventures over the last two days. Dia said that the situation with the king and his court is very awful right now. The king was refusing to make any decisions because he didn’t want any unpopularity that might come from it. The queen was remaining silent.

Before Dia could continue, a tall woman in Amazonian armor (that is what Shadow tells me) named Makhaila came out. She reminded Dia of some assignment from the queen before telling us to prepare ourselves to be summoned. Makhaila agreed with what Dia had said, but added that King Acastus has no faith in the power of the Five Immortals, despite being married to one. He believes in himself and his own strength. Because of this, those in the king’s court are otherwise ignoring Queen Aminatou entirely.

Dia disappeared just as we were summoned in to meet with the king. Acastus is… how do I put this? Well, considering this adventuring journal is for me and you, I don’t think I should be afraid of what I write here. Acastus is a terrible person. Everything I’ve heard about him seems true. To his court, he openly mocked us when he learned we have no magical means of quelling the storm. He sneered at us when he learned we didn’t have the money to cover the cost of a city-wide sacrifice of oxen. And he laughed at our disdain for the two ideas presented by his court. The first was by a man named Gaius, a captain of the League of Storms, who suggested we destroy the Temple of the Five to calm Amalj’aa’s anger. Chondrus, a tiefling in black robes, thought that we should instead sacrifice a bunch of children to Khar’shan’s Children of the Night. 

Aminatou spoke up at this point, evidently done with remaining silent. She had a better solution. She and the other immortals are gods, after all, and they can perform a miracle to abate the storm. Not surprisingly, Acastus didn’t care one way or the other. He didn’t want to make a decision, so he left it to us. We agreed with Aminatou. I guess she already suspected we would do this and was waiting for us. She had already summoned Azorius, Vaevictus, and Palladia to the temple to perform the miracle. She asked us to speak with Azorius and Vaevictus, though, as they were not keen on the idea.

Rendu was very cross with this. His mother, Palladia, had been missing his entire life and she now shows up at Aminatou’s behest. I feel bad for him. At first, I thought he didn’t have the same kind of emotional baggage that the rest of us have. That isn’t the case. From what we understand, Palladia abandoned him for reasons unknown. When the immortals went to perform their miracle, Palladia did it without ever seeing Rendu. That must be very hard for him. 

We had to first convince Azorius and Vaevictus that this miracle was a good thing for them to do. We all made our cases, but I think Clio’s words were what did it. The miracle required them to sacrifice a portion of their godlike powers. What good would those powers be to them and to the Emerald Isles when the Oath of Peace was finished? The titans will attack Ellandyr, regardless of the divine power of the Immortals. 

We have faith in the Five Immortals. I told them as much. We know them. We’ve helped them and they’ve helped us. For all their imperfections, they are good people. They defend their people from evil. They build cities to protect them. They’ve suffered for almost five hundred years trying to serve the people who have slowly turned away from them and followed the vanities of two titans who seek to set themselves above the rest of the world. And we have faith in them. 

Azorius only smiled and said that his wife, Kiora, sacrificed her physical form to protect Ellandyr. He felt it an honor to do everything he could to do the same. With that, he and Vaevictus went to the temple with Aminatou and Palladia to perform the miracle. The rest of us followed Makhaila to a dining room for something to eat and to rest a bit. Shadow was a little overzealous with sharing his distrust of grass again (Makhaila asked about it, having heard the story from Dia). We enjoyed a lovely meal and were able to gather our heads a bit after debating with Acastus and his crowd.

Shadow struck up a conversation with Makhaila. She is an Amazonian, though she was exiled from her home by Queen Thesselia. The Queen of the Amazons had recently devoted herself and the Amazonians to Khar’shan instead of Mother Eos, and warned us that going to the island of the Amazons would be very unwise. They do not like outsiders and see them as spies, and men are enslaved there. Shadow is unconvinced, though. He says that the Queen has something he wants back from his family. Once we have a way of navigating the sea, we will have to figure out that discussion.

I’ll write more after I have something else to eat. The rains are still coming down outside. I wonder how the miracle is going. I thought about sneaking out and going to the temple, but that might be unwise. Besides, I don’t want to go back out into the storm.

8 to Wakening Sun, Voelis

The storm is over! How about that! The Immortals are triumphant, and we will sing their praises in the city! That’s going to be important for us. Let me explain.

The clouds were all but gone, and we saw a beautiful sunset through the rainbows. Acastus wanted to thank us, but his thanks were a little pointed. He seemed pleased that a solution to the hurricane was made, but was dismissive of us afterwards. Acastus gave us a map and said it would lead us to the Gjallarhorn, the ship of his ancestor Estor Arkelander. Acastus told us he intends to fight the titans with the strength of his New Dragonlords and doesn’t need the Gjallarhorn anymore. We told him that our work was in the defense of Ellandyr and he was happy with that answer. We didn’t tell him that we meant to defend it from Acastus himself should he reveal himself a traitor to the city. We still suspect him. 

Aminatou called for us again and told us the miracle worked as expected. She warned us about the map to the Gjallarhorn, though, and explained that she found herself very distrustful of the king, too. It was likely that the king was sending us to die. The Gjallarhorn would be dangerous, or perhaps it was guarded by something dangerous. Either way, it seemed that the king was very prideful in his own power and fame. Our fame, as Heroes of Prophecy, was threatening to him, and our disappearance would ease his troubles.

More conversations happened here and I’ll go through them quickly. Briar submitted the Horn of Selesnya to Aminatou. We asked about how the king has dragon eggs, and Aminatou didn’t even know the answer. She suspects that the king’s story (about meeting a silver dragon named Urianger and the dragon gifting the eggs to him because they became friends) may have some sense of truth to it, but much of it is fabrication. Makhaila also warned us against challenging the Verdant Sun’s Avatar. The sacrifice of such a creature to Kiora would certainly provide us with a heavenly blessing, but the Avatar itself was a fearsome beast.

Queen Aminatou also presented us with a flyer that Acastus had printed and passed out to the city. In two weeks, the Great Games would occur. These are special competitions and events that celebrate the Oath of Peace. Unfortunately, the king is sponsoring people who specifically worship the titans. That is problematic because the winner of the Games gets to dedicate their victory to their god. The last thing we need is for either Amalj’aa or Khar’shan to gain power or popularity.

I thought of an idea and told the group. What if Aminatou sponsors us in the games? We want to eclipse the king’s fame and favor in the city as we draw people to the Five Immortals. Doing this gives us an edge against the titans. If one of us wins, we dedicate the victory to them. This might be our chance to loosen the grip that the titans think they have over Ellandyr. Everyone, including Aminatou, liked the idea. 

So we have two weeks to prepare for the games. There are a lot of things we need to do to get ready. I don’t know what kind of physical prowess I’ll need, but the queen says that mages can offer support to athletes. That might be my task with this. I need to start pouring over my scriptures and see what spells would be best. In the meantime, Aminatou asked us to look into the disappearance of singers and performers around town. We agreed to help in any way we can. We’ll discuss this as a group when we find a place to sleep for the night. Shadow’s undecided if he wants us to go with him to his house. Not because he doesn’t want the company, but because I think it’s very difficult for him to go back there after all that has happened to him.

Oh, here’s an interesting thing! Clio had a book in her pack this whole time we’ve all been traveling together! At first I was thinking she had an interest in books and maybe I could see if that was something we could talk about sometime. Remember when we used to go to the library, Heath? You always hated that place, and that was all my fault, wasn’t it? But Clio’s book wasn’t pleasant at all. It told the story about how the titans lied about the creation of the feyfolk. They instead made the real creators disappear and claimed the fey as their own! Aminatou was very surprised to hear this and suggested that, if we ever find ourselves on the Isle of Yonder, we should look this up in the library there. Imagine that, Heath! There’s an island with an enormous library! I wonder if we’ll ever go someplace like that.

Aminatou gave us some things to help us. The first was a protection charm that looks like a weird beetle. It’s supposed to help protect the wearer against magic. The second was from Azorius. My robes are done. I-

I have to talk to Shadow. But what do I say? He can’t even trust grass. Why would he trust me?

But I need these robes. I need them, Heath. I can’t flee anymore. I can’t be Flee anymore. I can’t do this. Without you, I’m not me. I’m not the same person I was when we were children. I’m not the same person I was when I came to Ellandyr. I’m not the same person I was on our anniversary, and that was only days ago! I’m afraid, but I can’t be afraid anymore. You told me to be brave. I was terrified when I saw Amalj’aa in the storm again. I’m terrified of what my friends will think of me. What Shadow will think of me. But maybe it won’t be so bad. Clio didn’t get scared of my true form. Neither did Briar. What Damon said about mon people like me-

I have to be me. These robes are the first step. The first step to being who I really am. I’m sorry Heath. I know you loved Flee. But Flee has to be brave now. For once in my life, I’m

Maybe I’ll get to that later.

Oh, everyone is leaving! I think we’re going to find a place to rest. I wonder if Shadow is comfortable with us going to his house or not. I don’t want to push him one way or the other. He seems very distressed. Wherever we go, I need to talk to Clio. Something Briar said to me earlier today has been bothering me immensely. About my mother.