Part 61: Gods

Day of Verdant Sun, Inalis, 52 days remaining

Alright, good, I finally have a chance to finish this writing. We’ve taken care of many things, and have holed ourselves up in the Firewalker fortress for the night. I think there’s a sense of dread and fear as we, injured and spent as we are, try to get some rest. But I am hopeful. The Firewalkers are scattered now and I have doubts that they’d try to attack us, especially with Sel-Makor opting to stay up all night with Kroq-tor’s severed head held high. It’s a wretched thing but I will complain a lot less after a good night’s sleep!

I should recap what happened. While the boys and Sel-Makor saw to Kroq-tor’s fallen body, Briar and I followed Clio to help her with the sending rites of her friends. Admittedly, I’m a little useless here. Clio held each of them, Neritos and Meletis, and struggled to keep her composure while Briar placed coppers on their eyes and prepared a funeral pyre. I told Clio that it was okay to cry, and she told me a little about them. They were twins, very beautiful and playful. I should have very much liked to meet them. Briar and I promised Clio that we’d keep going with her, and that Khar’shan will get what’s coming to her soon enough. We’re together, and she can’t split us apart.

The others joined us, toting some treasures found on Kroq-tor’s body as well as the dragon’s small hoard. Shadow began taking care of the bodies of our enemies – by which, I mean he disposed of the fallen Firewalkers and began to harvest pieces from the dragon. Oooh, I wish he wouldn’t do that when I’m around! All this violence doesn’t sit well with me anyway, and I can’t look when he starts talking about dragon hearts and teeth and such. So I just sat quietly with Clio while we caught our breath. Torag took Actaeon to the cyclops he and Shadow slew earlier, and to my dismay they came back with his hands and eye. Oooh! It’s quite gross indeed! Shadow asked Briar to help him. Rendu, without much else to do, just sat with me and Clio.

We figured that the trip back to the Flamescar tribe would have just a few hours, but Sel-Makor held us back. He explained that the scattered Firewalkers would still see us as the enemy until a certain draconic rune could be written in the sky by Briar to tell all lizardfolk that the king was dead and Iquala would claim the throne. At Sel-Makor’s behest, we are here for the night.

Gods, it’s hot in here, though. Some of us started undressing. Not in a weird way! I mean, we’ve all bathed in front of each other in Ellandyr and sometimes our hands have to get a little intimate when we heal or protect each other. Rendu getting stabbed in the thigh means I have to touch his thigh to heal him. It’s just how it is! We’re all friends here, and not a single one of us thinks anything uncouth when these things happen. But still, we don’t just strip in front of each other… Except for Actaeon, as it turns out. I removed my cloak, Rendu took off his boots, Shadow unbuckled his armor – that sort of thing. Actaeon was nearly naked, save his helmet (of course) and his undergarments which, surprisingly, had little images of dinosaurs embroidered on them. Not a single one of us couldn’t stare.

Okay, the sky is darkening now and we’re exhausted. I’m on watch second with Rendu!

Day of Verdant Sun, Inalis, 52 days remaining

I have a few minutes to write this morning before we get ready to head out. It’s a lovely day in the caldera, other than the blazing heat. I think none of us had to worry about how to stay warm. Rather, I’m going to wash all of our clothes when we get back to the Gjallarhorn. We’ve sweated through our undergarments and we kind of stink. Except Clio. She still smells of flowers. Dryads, I guess…

While in and out of sleep, I heard Clio and Shadow talking with Sel-Makor. They had the first watch and talked quietly to pass the time. Sel-Makor is a “charred one”, a blessing given to him by the God in the Volcano. Bathing in the volcano’s fires, he acquired the blessing and is seen as a wise man amongst his people. This blessing gives him the memories, though sometimes fragmented, of other charred ones before him. One of his past lives actually hunted the Sun’s Avatar! Sel-Makor had some information on this, such as the creatures the Sun’s Avatar surrounds itself with for protection, or worship, or something else. I didn’t catch all of it because I think I drifted off to sleep.

Clio woke me and Rendu up for our watch. Rendu and I had a conversation very similar to one Shadow and I had a while back after Torag was slain. Like Shadow and I, Rendu blamed himself for what happened to Briar. The truth is, so do I. I could have done something, right? But like Shadow said to me, I told Rendu that he mustn’t blame himself. It’s easy to feel guilt for things that could have happened. I struggle with it every day. Why didn’t I protect you, Heath? Why did I let that high priest mutilate me? Why did I try to claim victory over the behir when I could have saved Torag instead? Guilt will eat me alive if I let it, and Rendu, bless you, you can’t give into it. Rendu vowed to protect us all. I am thankful for that.

The truth is that I don’t know if I’ll ever stop feeling guilty for things that could have been. I live with an abundance of regrets and worry. But don’t we all? Isn’t there something that any of us could have done better? And yet, I have to move on. We all do. Letting my mind stay in the past is to deny myself the chance to move forward. It is overwhelming, but it is necessary.

Heath, I don’t mean I’ll move on from you or your memory. No, far from it. You’ll always be in my heart.

Rather, I think I’ve personally grown over the past months as one of the Heroes of Prophecy. It’s forced growth, but I think it’s what the Morninglord wanted for me when he saved me. Am I still afraid of the dark? Yep. Am I still afraid of my feelings for Clio? Oh, yes. And am I afraid of hurting people? Definitely. But these are things I’ll get past. I have to. I don’t know if I’ll ever be desensitized to violence like Actaeon said to me once upon a time, but I can find a happy medium. Fighting enemies, saving people, healing others, and building up my family. That’s what I can do. That’s how I can be a hero.

WHOA! Change of subject: Shadow is suddenly acting super weird. I guess he had a strange dream last night wherein one of his ancestors spoke to him? I don’t know about all that, but he’s suddenly playing my flute right now. And… he’s not bad! He’s holding it wrong and the notes are a little flat, but it’s definitely a tune.

Oh, look! Keledone is here!

Day of Verdant Sun, Inalis, 52 days remaining

Keledone was here and he left us gifts! Briar and Shadow got some new armor, the others got some amulets, Torag has a dragon-head gauntlet on, and I… I’ve got the best present ever, Heath! It’s a Draconis Luminaria, a specially designed lantern made from the fundamentum of a dragon. It lights up (obviously; it’s a lantern!) and it can absorb the power of slain dragons into it. I’ve already absorbed Lachesis, Salamul, and Hagalaz (Kroq-tor’s dragon) into it. It feels a little strange to do that, but it lets me cast some magic that these dragons were able to cast themselves. Neat!

While we were looking at our new toys, the Flamescars arrived. Several warriors carrying Queen Iquala arrived at the fortress, having seen the symbol that Briar wrote into the sky in the early hours of the morning. Now, they’re going to perform a sacrifice to the God in the Volcano before summoning leaders from the remaining lizardfolk tribes to discuss how to repay us for saving them from Kroq-tor and Amalj’aa’s false teachings.

The sacrifice was where things got strange, though. Briar offered to help with it, being a worker of sacrificial arts herself, and something strange happened. The sacrifice, a captured Firewalker, was lowered into the volcano, but the words spoken by Iquala’s shaman were in an ancient language that Clio could speak. She quietly told us and Sel-Makor that the words say that the sacrifice is to keep a trapped god in the volcano. In other words, the God in the Volcano is not a real god. Rather, one of the titan’s siblings, Rzhal, is trapped within the volcano. The sacrifices are meant to keep him there, not empower him. Sel-Makor was furious to learn this, understandably so. He vowed to come with us on the Gjallarhorn to learn more about why the Lord of Storms wished to have control over an island, one being used as a prison for his sibling.

Our task was done on Fire Island. We bade Iquala farewell as she was about to meet with the other chiefs and discuss things. She promised that at least the Flamescar tribe would be on our side, and she would do her best to persuade the other tribes to join our war against the Lord of Storms. After this, we made our way back to our ship, stopping briefly at the Flamescar village to bid farewell to little Sa’kull. I had given a knife to Iquala to give to Sa’kull when he comes of age. I’m certain he’ll be a strong warrior someday.

We made our way back to the Gjallarhorn and are getting ready to sail away from Fire Island. With the information that Sel-Makor provided to us, we decided to send a quick message to Kano about what we learned about the Sun’s Avatar. Our next stop is to visit the Mithral Forge. Steros, the friendly(ish) jancan, wishes to help us on our quest and I’m sure Azorius will be quite pleased to have additional help. While we’re there, Kano will meet us at the Forge to discuss the Sun’s Avatar and plans.

After that, our original plan was to go to the island of the amazons. However, Shadow brought up a good point: why are we going to help the Lady of Coins usurp the throne when we could be looking for the Queen’s daughter? This daughter was exiled, and we may have an unlikely ally in her. So instead, I cast a divination spell to Kiora about the whereabouts of this daughter. We’ll get information on her when we go to the Isle of the Fates. That’s our next stop!

I’m excited to see Azorius, Dygo, and Cindra again. I wonder if I can also talk Damon into joining us. I’d very much like to speak with him about a few things. But for now, I’ve been working on some magic. I think I’m going to try it tonight before I go to sleep.