The ship creaked in the right way. I found myself in the mess hall of a forgotten memory. A figure was seated before me. Blood dripped on dry planks as I found my feet once again. I was so tired, but the sea never leaves your feet. I slumped down in a chair opposite the figure, and looked over the table.
The demon Simon gave me some water. From the cup his green eyes glowed a baleful tone, but he was welcome company. Better than a Black Bell executioner, or another horror within the belly of this beast that we were in. It was moments ago where we were in a burned field, filled with the cinders and dankness of death. We fought and killed the dead - no pleasure in killing what is already lost. Especially when there were bigger fish in this sea.
I gripped the cup and downed it - sweet nourishment! It had felt like so long since I had water. Simon gazed at me in the typical manner - a blend of curiosity, intrigue, and ownership - like looking at a pet. Then his gaze changed after I slammed the cup down and looked at him. The chair felt small.
I asked if he was part of the creature. It would explain a bit. Evil was pulsing everywhere, but this was a different thing to Simon’s methods. Simon liked mayhem and destruction, but this was a colder, more distant sort of thing. This thing took the part that made a person unique and twisted it into something else. Simon grinned and said that he was this thing in a manner of speaking, but that their motives were very different. We chatted a lot about things, some little, some large. It felt like speaking with an old friend.
Our paths met at this junction point. Here was an adversary that some of us would sooner spit at than shake their hands. But we all made a pact with him, in some manner of speaking. His goals were to thrive, and the structures put up in the world had been preventing him from doing so. Who wants to live in a box when there’s a whole sea to explore? I understood this, and made some tough decisions to uphold this value. The world is always changing, and to truly make a difference in it your choices won’t matter unless… unless.
Be the water.
Our old friend, the Rattleclaw mystic was right. Todd’s crazed prophecy rang like a gong in my heart. Water is eternal and will shape anything around it. It initiates, instigates, and embodies change. And that’s what I am. Others have never understood this, pestering me for the choices that I made because I felt they were right. It started from the beginning at the farmstead. Dorian killed the fledgling wurms because he was a afraid that they’d grow up, devastate the farm, and continue to reclaim the land. But what life is there for a simple farmer? You build a cocoon around a wild space and rot inside as the world around you changes. I watched and let that happen, without purpose or cause.
The Tong hustled burghers in small towns and muscled their way into a cut of the goods that these simple folk made. Does any of that matter? The world is shaped by larger forces than that, and I need to have the power to seek those forces and destroy them. Why kill the deputy when the Sheriff still lives? Why capture Nak’Chall and let her languish and whimper when she could howl with her pack in the open breeze? It is the psychopomp who must suffer.
The emissary of Kai had a number of tricks when we engaged him. Cloaked in mirrors, he wanted to escape to continue terrorizing the land. But he had to be punished for what he had done to the grove and the druids. There are some whose deeds deserve reconciliation. But then there are others. He would never escape my blade.
The pathway to doing what’s right is fraught with obstacles. Who crosses my path when I have a goal is not a concern of mine, whether they be a seasoned adventurer or a young recruit. Their blood stains the ground in the same manner, and I am prepared for the consequences if my mission stays true.
The rewards for my path are not for myself. I am not to gain from vanquishing foes; only those that have lost have that privilege. The slave that has lost their freedom or the family whose homestead was lost - they deserve a choice in shaping their lives after our paths meet. I strayed from that once - the consequences from that action sit before me right now.
Narcel’Uss. Simon dealt with her. Now she was dead. I worked myself up again. He is a demon and demons lie. So I asked him about her. He told me that she was alive and I knew it to be true. Narcel’Uss! Alive! My choice wasn’t in vain, after all. I was free.
Simon looked around and told me that his big brother had arrived. With that our bargain had met its end. I shook his hand and my brand left. 4-1-3. That tether to Carson, Malkara, and all of the flotsam and jetsam holding me down dissolved away. Simon left, leaving me with the sea, rolling back and forth in the darkness.
Hansur came when Simon left, emptying the space of all of its effects. From the void a cascade of eyes emerged and a tremulous voice erupted from all angles. Here was an immense, dark power, and I could tell that he was looking for a power such as my own. A new agreement presented itself, and with that an opportunity to live forever, like the water. I agreed to his terms, and was presented a boon for my oath.
On a dais in the void an object emerged - a simple loop. Symbols of great heroes and giants adorned its buckle, but more than that, an immense power radiated from it. This was a magic item!
I put on the belt and my body shook with power. Even at my most focused and intent on spilling blood, I could not compete with this feeling. I gripped my fist and felt like I could strangle the void, itself. I pulled out my anchor and reflected dimly I could see myself, shimmering like moonlight cast from a dark sea. A pathway opened, and I stepped through.
Before me, a hall, and the T.I.P. again! I caught a glimpse of two figures about to confiscate a blue gem from a fleshy dais. We were in a cavern of flesh; the heart of the creature burned with evil energy. These Black Bell lackeys had no right to the geode - common thieves. I intervened, crashing through the shield of the warrior and tackling the dragonborn before they could grasp the object. J followed and took the object, protecting it from its. The room’s beat intensified, and a swirling shadow materialized in its centre. We backed away and waited to see what would emerge.