Commit to memory.
How long has it been since I last ruminated on the present like this?
I find it hard to focus on that bleak existence. My days are blurred, my vision – cloudy…
I watch, but… it seems that I rarely see. My memories are patched with the red of rage and the blue of melancholy. There is a memory of sunlight, joy, and order, long ago. But it has not been so for eons… That memory is gray with ash and black with regret. All but instinct has been drained of it. Not even the song remains.
I sit on the windowsill, struggling to remember. Or forget? It does not matter. Keirna has gone to speak with Keriath and give him the Staff. It still screams in my memories. Ddddeathdeathdeath, death, death to the living and undeath to the dead! Death, death, death deathdeathhhh! Deep down, I shiver. Something within me, a struck string, answers to this call, but I know not why. For this, I fear it.
“Daeva,” one of Keriath’s servants whispers. “Keriath extends an invitation for you all to stay and rest, while he looks into your findings. Mistress Keirna has deemed to retire to her quarters within the city.”
I decide to go to the palace library. The resounding, muffled silence of the library is soothing, but my mind soon makes up. Figments of my imagination flow within and without audible perception.
The Sealed Triumvirate…
I begin searching the enormous library, stacks upon stacks of tomes and enormous honeycomb scroll stands. The silence is becoming worse. I can barely hear a chime, sounding in the distance. My vision gets blurred and cloudy once more, as its edge vibrates with the unheard intensity of the bell.
… I cannot… I must… ting tingggg rustle ding Ding DIN-
I stumble out of the library and into the lively courtyard of Keriath’s palace. Some of the servants tarry around, befuddled by the rare sight of a kneeling celestial, moreover panting and holding his head as if struck by a hammer.
My place is not here. Keirna invited us to her villa in the city proper. I suppose Lyrus, Danara, and the rest will be there as well.
I find myself at Keirna’s place. She seems proud of it. There is no sign of the huge sacks of mithril and gold we found on the Maelrhyssian ship on Faerun. Something tells me it is all safely hidden with the rest of her dragon hoard.
I try to relax and absorb the stylish décor of Keirna’s living room. Having something to focus on helps keep the sounds away.
Sounds! Why are there sounds?!
abuzzzzz abuzzzzz abuzzzzz…
I jump in panic, but it seems this is not a trick of my mind. My adrenaline is building and my vision is crystal-clear.
“It’s the alarm!” I hear Keirna’s yell from another hall. “The City of the Silver Wing is under attack!”
“We must get out in the open!” I yell to the others.
I make haste towards the main gate, while everybody is scrambling. Crotch, Robe, and Healbot hurry out the back door, singing and humming potent incantations. I push open one of the gate’s wings and jolt, only to freeze in front of something.
What… is this? I have seen all that crawls and slithers in Celestia and many other realms, but no such creature as the one in front of me, a mix between a velociraptor and a devouring coat of arms, yet nothing I feel the Wild in. A nauseating fog hisses in my earshot and restricts around the edges of my vision.
What is it? What IS IT? Yet again, frigid shivers crawl up my spine and into my temples.
I must act!
I headbutt it into pulp.
Then I stumble out and over the misshapen carcass. Keirna exits; Danara as well, eyeing the dead thing curiously.
There is a man, leaning against one of the buildings ahead, clapping.
As an electric current leaving my body, my nausea disappears and my vision becomes crystal-clear once more. My wings shift and bristle, reacting with vigor to the sudden depth of reality.
This man. Tezzerich. Something within me reacts to him the same way it reacted to the Staff. A different string, perhaps.
I vaguely realize I am huffing, clenching my stringed bow in one hand, the other prepared to draw and release. Tezzerich is in the center of my world now, the very bullseye of existence.
Keirna and Danara are conversing with this Tezzerich. I seem to be saying something as well.
He laughs, even though he looks disappointed. He snaps and gestures toward a colossal rag-like rift forming an arrow’s flight above him. My whole mind focuses on what’s on the other side of the tear. Legions upon legions of invincible beasts, an undefeatable throng, ready to conquer the Multiverse and bend it to the Master’s will. My huffing has turned into alternated grunt; every single muscle of my body is strained and honed for the kill.
Tezzerich laughs once more.
“I will leave you to it, then.”
All at once, Keirna transforms into her true form, Danara commands her legion, Zerato in lead, and my bow string snaps torn in two, releasing the bow with a powerful twang. I am glaring at the enormous beast in front of us, making its way out of time and space and into here and now.
Even as I am plunging deeper and deeper into the frenzy, changing the bowstring and plugging enhancement gems in the bow, a voice and instinct resounds deeply within and grows to define me: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!
My frenzy stays with me during the fight.
Nocking arrows and letting them loose. Crawling through the mucous and stinging gut of the beast that has swallowed me. Slashing a way out with a dagger. The frenzy and panic swirl and mix within me like two mystical, unmixable liquids, the two sides of all of my existence. My wings are slick with the beast’s gall. I have enchanted myself with a protective spell sometime during the fight. I am climbing up the thing’s throat, only to find myself pushed to the bottom of the gullet once more. A bloody opening is ripped and I am outside again, along with the other struggling. It swallows Danara. Another hole is torn open and I rush to rescue her.
Keirna’s house is in ruins.
Fatigue from the frenzy and a sickening smell are sapping my strength. Keirna tears yet another hole in the beast.
- “… What Echo heard when he heard Death was silence. For one cursed with sound, true impermeable silence is as potent as the feeling of suffocating, locked lungs, for a breathing, living person…”
- The Timeweave II, I:2, SRN Asp