The party had made camp near a small wooded area just outside the ruins of Kilgrave. Aroland sat cross legged holding the Feybane blade in his hand, twirling it and examining the intricate carvings in the blade. The screaming faces of demons and tortured souls. An almost tangible blue energy ebbs from the eyes and mouths of these carvings, almost assuradly the visages of souls taken by this blade.
He could still remember the feeling of his mind being entranced by the blades power. His eyes betrayed him, and he nearly hurt his friend. The power of one of the amulets he held kept the sway of the blade at bay, but he was still under its control – by threat of the blade causing harm to others.
He looked up as he saw Tobin walking back from the forests’s clearing, where he had set up a small shrine to the Selandrine and asked for guidance. The somber look on his face said all that was needed about his path. Every path we’ve taken since this started has led us to danger, but never like this. Hellgate keep. For centuries this keep has been home to a host of demons, after they over-threw the previous inhabitants – devils – who were summoned by malicious arcanists. They were walking into a veritible Hell on Toril, to leave them a weapon that causes so much pain and torment. They don’t have Duman to encourage them, or Deularla to comfort them. They alone chose and bear this burden.
He took the crystal out of his poutch and held it in his other hand, looking at it and the sword as if weighing them to see which was heavier. He was, in a sense, but not their weight in pounds…he considered them as forces…this crystal and this sword, two examples of how powerful artifacts could be used in different ways. Almost as if they sensed his thoughts, two souls appeared before him, Dargon, and a female elf dressed in noble regallia.
The woman spoke first, “How does one feel holding so much power in the palm of his hands?”
Aroland pondered for a moment before replying. “Heavy. I feel weighted by potential, by uncertainty, and I guess fear. What if I chose wrong? What if I doom countless lives?”
Dargon then answers, “Just as her majesty here, it is for those very questions you ask that we selected you, while carrying a similar burden ourselves.”
The woman speaks again, “In life, I ruled a nation of immense power. We had the means to accomplish so much, but I did not ask myself those questions enough. For generations, instead of using our power to build, we used it to destroy. It drove a wedge between our kind and created the monsters that created this blade. This was what the people wanted and so I continued these wars when I took up the crown. We thought we were doing good – protecting our people – but in reality we are responsible for the creation of weapons like this.”
Aroland looks perplexed, “This doesn’t help to instill confidence in my decision.”
Dargon’s wolf mouth forms a visible smirk, “The lesson is not yet finished. Let me ask you this, do you command the spirits of nature, neophyte, or do they command you?”
It didn’t take him long to realize it was a little bit of both.
The woman began speaking again “That’s right. I had misused the Crown that I had taken up. By following on the path that was already created I neglected to consider wether there was another way. When I finally did, I was betrayed by someone in our own court – and it was too late.”
Dargon took over again, “This is why you and your friends were selected. You asked, ‘Is this right?’, ‘Is there a better way?’. In the end, there may or may not be. What’s important is that you considered it. That you have the goal of the best outcome. We chose to trust you, and so we ask that you trust yourself.”
At this point a third visage appeared, another elven woman – but this one in ornately decorated armor. “It’s time Your Majesty, we can’t hold him any longer.”
Dargon gave Aroland a knowing look, and the Coronal gave him a pained smile, before they all three vanished. In their wake Aroland saw him, and knew immediately what it was. That presence pushing at his mind, a man that looked like the pinnacle of elven beauty but with red skin, curved horns atop his head, and dark, leathery wings extending from his back. He spoke no words, but looked at Aroland with a malicious smile before slowly fading away.
Aroland thought about his conversation with the ghosts and what Tobin’s deity may have had to say. It was a concept he had struggled with quite a bit himself, but had started to come to terms with inside Kilgrave. Good and Evil, what many call the eternal struggle. It’s an illusion….but does that make it meaningless? Which would be more evil, to allow this sword to take more souls in the hope that one day, all of them will be free? Or to hide the sword, prevent it from taking more souls but doom those inside to further eternity of imprisonment. A million people could have a million opinions on a subject such as this but in the end thats all it is – its an opinion. He trusts Tobin and his idea to try and hide the sword is not out of ill intent, but neither is Dargon’s idea to see it to its end. When all is said and done, one must look into his own heart to decide – and that is what Aroland did.
He placed the crystal back into his pouch and wrapped the blade in its cloth again. With renewed confidence he stood and set his gaze to the west. Hellgate Keep. A place of terror, death, pain, and torment. That was his destination. Perhaps the final destination for all of them. Aroland had already told them all to leave if they weren’t willing to risk their lives for this, and none of them would. He smiled as he found comfort in knowing that whatever they faced there, they would face together.