The Andy Chronicles
A day of Sadness and the Beginning of New Journeys
The day dawned like all the others since I had been traveling with Varg and his companions. We all knew that we were close to finding out the means to destroying what was left of the city of Arena. We knew that the corruption had begun to lessen due to the efforts of Varg and Allyri with the blessing of the river. Allyri could tell us that many of the evil plants had been killed, or their evil was beginning to be reversed by the effects of the blessed water. My lord and his companions spoke for a long while as to how they were going to stop the core of the corruption. It was Graak that remembered that the mountain that loomed over us was the grave of the Lich’s husband. He quickly jumped to the conclusion that there was a pyramid buried in the mountain, and that the husband would be a mummy that we would have to face. That fairytale thought was brought back to earth with the realization that it would be very improbable. Allyri spread her tendrils of awareness into the earth around the mountain and quickly discovered that there was a perfect sphere near its center. With the aid of her Druidic magic, we were all able to burrow through the ground as Delmar into the mountain. What we found there was not what we were expecting.
The room was perfectly spherical, a mind-boggling idea to any mind, and floating in the center was a bowl that looked as though it had been filled with water many, many times. My lord believed that it may have been used as a source for a scrying. He filled it with water, and looked through it into another place. My lord and his companions recognized the room as the chamber in which they met the Lich and learned of her part in the enslaving of thousands. They could learn no more. My lord Varg then asked me to learn any legends that I could about the item, and who it was that used it. I placed my hands around the bowl and was transported to another place. I was looking at the spherical chamber, and saw a man at its center looking into the very bowl I held in my hands. It seemed as though the room, and the occupant that he looked in on were very important to him, that he had somehow been a part of their creation or appointment. I soon came to the conclusion that this man was the Lich’s supposedly dead husband. For many, many years, the man came to look into the bowl every day; as though it was something he had to do. Then, as time went by, he came less frequently, and looking through the water was something that he did just to pass the time. Countless centuries he came to look though the water at his wife and her fate. Then, he stopped. It was there that my vision ended.
I returned to awareness with my lord’s strong hands gripping my shoulders and could feel where tears had streamed, helplessly down my face. I told them what I had seen, and that the room and the bowl had not been used in many years. We would have to go back to the room to learn more. We traveled quickly with the aid of Allyri’s magic and found ourselves once again at the edge of Arena. Again, we burrowed under the land and came into the empty chamber of the Lich and the remains of her machine. Graak picked up the remains of the phylactery and Delmar begain to make sure that no creatures would be able to catch us unawares. Allyri kept an eye on the blood red vines that had made their way down into the earth around this chamber. I knew what was needed of me, I just wasn’t sure if I would be able to do so. I looked around to my lord and those that I had begun to follow, and realized that I was the only one that would be able to do what was necessary. I walked to an empty wall and placed my hands on it. I could feel the presence of my lord and his father behind me. The strong hands gripped my shoulders and the soft dark feathers surrounded us. I remember whispering three words before I allowed the magic of the history to overtake me. “Protect me father.”
The images came quickly, at first they were too fast for me to make sense of what I was seeing, but it was the feel of it that I knew. I saw countless people dying. They killed each other, or where killed by their slave masters if they refused to kill another. The blood was spilled by the gallons, never leaving the stain it should. The sand of the arena seemed to drink it up with the thirst of a desert with no rain. The feel and the sight of it made me sick. Time disappeared, I no longer knew when or where I was, all I could see and feel was the death. I realized however, that time in the images was moving backward. I was seeing the gladiatorial fights dissolve into murder, dissolve into slaughter, and then, dissolve into ritual sacrifice. Then the arena was empty. The stands held no screaming humans, no people crying for the deaths of those they saw beneath them. Alone in the center of the sand stood a woman clothed in black. She screamed her anger and pain to the sky, the clear blue above seeming to mock her. Though her words were whispered, I could hear them as those I stood beside her. “Give me purpose.” The sky above shook and cracked, black and green clouds swirled above and four points of purple lightning struck the sand before the grief stricken woman. There stood Demigorgon.
Both heads turned to look at the woman. They worked in unison, both seeming to weave through the air on their snake-like necks. The malevolence within those eyes was more than I could bear. I felt the hands of my lord hold me upright, and the stone strength of Delmar join me in the arena. The words that exited one mouth were vile and dark. “You shall have purpose.” One clawed hand reached forward and gouged the eyes from the woman’s face. The lighting struck again, lifting the woman from the sand of the arena and began to strip her of everything she had left. One head watched with childlike glee marring his features, the other head looked behind, off in the distance toward the mountain. “Your sacrifice is accepted.” I knew he spoke to the husband within the sphere of the mountain. The woman lay in the sand, her skin dry and brittle, her body desiccated and small. Small points of purple light glowed with a dark intensity in the cavities where her eyes had been. The grief and despair replaced by a grim determination and a dark purpose. The light there consumed me until I saw nothing.
I remember very little of what happened next. It was my lord that told me of what had happened. Delmar had sacrificed some of himself to save me from my vision in the end. I was weak and catatonic. My lord healed me and restored Delmar, and we left arena and returned to the plantation. I was told that I slept for a full day and night, and when I came to, I was told what we would have to do to break the curse of arena. I was unable to decipher what would be needed, and it was Delmar who worked it out. Someone wholly good and pure would have to willingly sacrifice themselves to fully remove the taint. We all had so many things that we would have to accomplish and so many lives to save and protect. But it was Delmar that said he would sacrifice himself. None of the others tried to talk him out of it. It just seemed right. Sadness engulfed us all when we finally realized what had to be done.
After a night of troubled, if any, sleep we all ate together one last time. The food was wonderful and the fellowship even more so. Cam returned to say his goodbye, and knowing that I would not be able to return to the arena, I gave my notes to my lord.
The forest surrounding arena was much as we left it days ago. Rather than burrowing beneath the city again, we all decided to walk in. Delmar said that he wanted the trees and the city to know that he came to set right the original wrong, that it was his willing sacrifice that would cleanse the blood of the unwilling from the earth. The plants seemed to know, and did not bother us as we passed through. We were all silent and somber save for our small companion. He shone with the holy light that filled him, his joy and eagerness apparent. He saw this not as a sad thing, but as the start to a new adventure that he longed to begin. He spoke of seeing his mother and grandmother again, of burrowing through the endless fields of Elysium, and of teaching once again. It was difficult to stay sad when surrounded by the joy and happiness that followed Delmar’s every step.
At last we came to the gates of the arena. We worked together to clear away the vines and debris so that we could open the doors. The sands of arena were empty, and pristine. As though countless lives had not been sacrificed to keep our kind enslaved and give Demigorgon a fountain of power. The sky above roiled with darkness and anger, as though the demon prince himself knew what we were about to do. We knew the loss of Delmar would hit our cause hard, but there would always be those that would rise up against the evils of the demon prince. We would stop him.
Delmar stood in the center of the sand and we all stood behind. I stood at my full height, my black wings extended to encircle us. Graak stood to my right, tall and proud, Allyri to my left, relaxed and pensive. In that moment it was as though Delmar grew to the height of a man, his brilliance flashing brightly to enclose us all. “I have come to right this wrong, to cleanse this place of its evil, to be the sacrifice that stops all others. I am Delmar, and I have come to end this.”
Wounds began to open upon the small body of our close friend. The purest blood flowed from cuts above his eyes, a gash in his side, and from points on his hands and feet. It did not pool at his feet, but was sucked up by the thirsty sand of the arena. When more blood had flowed from his little body than we believed to be inside of it, he lifted up the plate of armor that covered his pure and benevolent heart. The claws on his strong hand lengthened and with a wince of pain, he drove his claws into his heart. His tiny body shuddered, and his hand fell to his side, his head rested against his chest, and his eyes clouded with death. Tears streamed down the faces of my companions. Even Graak did nothing to stop the flow. Allyri’s hands covered her face and her shoulders shook with her silent tears. With my own fur wet, I began to speak the words that would send a soul on its journey. There was no feather in the Offering Fields that would ever outweigh the heart of my close friend.
His body began to fade, to dissolve into light. It filled the arena and leapt up into the sky. The ground beneath our feet began to tremble. Light poured through the clouds in the sky, and it seemed that the sky itself shook. Slowly, the light that had followed Delmar into the heavens cleared the dark sky, and the ground ceased to quake. It was finished, Delmar had gone to Elysium, and arena was free of the taint.
From there, we all went our separate ways. Graak and his people stayed to make the land theirs. Allyri returned to her forest to sort out the corruption there, and to protect her tree. My lord and eye returned to his destroyed home to begin rebuilding. Dakru took up the seat of his father, and his brother was freed from the taint that had been within him. I am sure that we will hear more from my lord and his friends. But that is a tale for another time.