Outside the Caves of Chaos
Caera felt the power in the crystal pitcher reaching for her, begging like a lover locked out in the rain to be let in, to fulfill her every wish. It took more strength then she thought possible, took a strength she couldn’t realize she possessed until that moment, and even then the temptation was so strong. Fighting against it’s pull she began the long road back, her heart aching as much as her head, the need of the pitcher a constant whine digging into her resolve like a dwarven drill.
And that was just the vessel she was touching. The others were like noisy children in the back of her mind, clamoring for some of the attention as she doted on the precious pitcher and its wealth of power. Amidst the chaos of her thoughts and the constant need to stop and merely let go of her control Caera held onto a single thought, a driving purpose that kept her placing one foot before the other. Her weary steps finally brought her from the mouth of the twisting cave, offering the hope that one day in the months ahead she might find a moment of peace where the faces of her friends didn’t stare back at her with blind, cold eyes.
Bastion, Big Lou; two wild warriors whose lives had been given to the unending quest for peace, for order, for life. She knew the irony of it of course, learned as so many did that nothing in life brings order, save perhaps for death.
It was a lesson she promised herself not to forget.
The crack of thunder above drew her gaze from the pitcher and its intricate crystal lines, its ornate enchanted runes, drew her thoughts from the falling of friends and the ache of wanting them by her side for one more adventure. Instead she let that anger, that loss, boil up and drown out the wretched voices of the pitcher, the goblets, the bowl. The vessels screamed as one in her thoughts, taunting her weakness, promising such power.
Then, silence bought with the shattering of crystal.
Her soft sigh was born of exhaustion, of failure mingled with defeat. Was lost in the swirling song of the wind and growing rhythm of the falling rain. A flash of light above and the rich stacatto of thunder that followed promised pain to anyone foolish enough to stay beneath the storm and tempt it’s wrath.
Then she heard the laughter, spinning to slowly to stop the blade driving for her stomach. Spinning to meet the old, mad eyes of the Witch.
The shattering of crystal followed by another crack of thunder above sounded so hollow to her now; the witches voice like a whisper that should be lost in the tormented winds finding its way to her ears as Caera fell towards the blackness.
“Thank you child, it is so good to finally be free.”
Caera felt the pull of death, felt the sweet promise of a place alongside Pelor grow to fulfillment within her noble heart. Still, the sight of the wretched old woman looming over her filled Caera with a dread she couldn't name. As the woman's laughter echoed like a wicked song in the priestess thoughts and the spark of life within her began to dim she let her eyes roll back, hoping to catch a glimpse of the night sky above in that moment before all she knew was pulled away.
Instead the storm above filled her with a greater fear, made the joy and peace she felt wither until all that remained was a mockery of everything she had hoped for, everything they had died for. The old woman's smile was madness as it came into view again, her eyes like old ice as they stared down into Caera's. The words meant nothing, were lost in the wind and the song that her heart was struggling to sing as she slipped away into her god's embrace.
She heard it all the same.
"This is only the beginning."