Level 17 ~ Feanthar

Feanthar had never performed the Last Rites before, and now that he had he felt so much older. He finally felt like the bishop he’d been promoted to at the beginning of this fateful journey. When he was younger he’d seen the Grand High Priest perform the Last Rites for a beloved paladin of the Mertion Order who had fallen in battle with goblinoids. Feanthar had asked the Grand High Priest why he didn’t just ask Heaven to revive the paladin with one of his miracles. Early on Feanthar had learned and long been fascinated with the knowledge that the most powerful of miracle workers could actually restore life to the dead, healing what amounted to the gravest physical injury imaginable. At the time the Grand High Priest had told him that mortals were not meant to stay in this world indefinitely; and that for most a better eternity awaited in Heaven. Most souls once they had left Niar no longer wished to return, and a few, such as the damned, could not return.

Feanthar knew the miracle to restore life now… But when he used it he could feel that the woman who had been slain by Carnagia didn’t want to return. Her final years had been so full of fear and strife, and she had finally found peace. Now Feanthar felt old, and nothing seemed as clear as it used to be. He knew Heaven was wonderful, knew it in his heart, but now he realized he had always loved life a great deal too. He wasn’t sure if he could be considered wise yet, he didn’t feel it, but now he had this gnawing awareness that maybe things like good and evil weren’t always pure, or maybe never were. He’d always felt that life was good, but the failed resurrection miracle informed him that even if life was good there were those who, given the choice, would actually choose to abandon it.

He sighed and closed his eyes, listening to his breath and imagining the wind that should have been there. After a night among the grateful people of Holt they were now headed overland to the Silver Temple, the old capital of Kakarus. The whole land was just dead. Dark storm clouds drifted overhead in a constant gloom, but the air was always still and the clouds never flashed with lightning or rumbled with thunder. Even the party’s own steps were far too muffled for the hard ground they were walking over. Nothing around them moved… The land wasn’t just dead, it was violated. Desecrated. The overbearing omnipresence of evil would be enough to drive many mortals insane, though Feanthar had warded them all with a miracle against the evil power. He felt uneasy, there was this tugging insistent sense that he should be somewhere else—that others needed him and Heaven’s Staff.

The King’s forces, supported by a contingent of Northlander Mercenaries, should have made landing further west by now. They were likely battling Letemra’s forces now, which could be why the journey from Holt had been so quiet so far. But Feanthar knew… Heaven’s Staff knew, that the evil god was expecting them. It was only a matter of time before they discovered the nature of the trap that had been laid for them. Feanthar had faith that Heaven would see them through any adversity, but at the same time he had his new awareness that no level of miracle could guarantee they would all walk away from this final confrontation. He knew that it was okay to die… That a sacred glowing place would be reserved for each of them in Heaven for their courage and enterprise in the face of this evil… But still he didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to lose Sheya, Vixie or Andrew either… He didn’t want them to be separated, or to miss out on truly getting to enjoy the world they were fighting so hard to save.

Andrew was leading the way. Steadfast. And with a patience that impressed Feanthar. Feanthar knew that Andrew had been waiting for his chance to face Letemra in battle, and now the Silver Temple that Letemra had taken from Andrew’s people to make his own base of operations was visible on the horizon. Andrew’s eyes never left it—Feanthar wasn’t even sure he was blinking. But his breathing was level, and for now Banisher remained put away on Andrew’s back.

Sheya was walking alongside Feanthar. Her breathing was a little slower than usual, like she was deliberately controlling it. Meditating before the final confrontation. Like Andrew, she didn’t have her weapons out yet, but Feanthar knew that with how fast she could draw them that hardly mattered. Finally Vixie was bringing up the rear. Wholly and, given the otherwise resounding silence, noisily tending to the remaining rations sent with them by the people of Holt. Apparently the fight with Carnagia took a lot out of her, and she was making up for that by eating.

Then the resolute clank of Andrew’s armor settling as he stopped walking. “We’re here.”

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