Cleric Journal: Day Two Hundred and Sixteen




Liz was awake and eating as I tended to the rest of the wounded. Just Jacob agreed with Magda that we needed to move. Taking out two squads in this area was a sure sign for the frogs to send out a larger squad. We’d been lucky so far. I’m not sure Booty Shake would consider it lucky, but at least she wasn’t dead.

Rufus weasel gnome wanted me to explain to him, again, how I’d summoned the fire wood. He said that was a spell he’d have killed for as an apprentice. I tried to explain to him what I had done; how I concentrated, the patterns I saw in my mind, the feel and flow of the divine. Of course, magic is different than holy powers. Different sources and different costs. Rufus had to memorize spells from a book and he could only retain so many at a time. The human mind had limitations. I just had to know I’d done something once to channel the right amount of energy, thought, intricate gestures and sometimes even physical objects, like the loadstones, to help focus the magic. Similar but different enough that Rufus was frustrated by the time he agreed to let me go talk with Liz. I did hear him turn to Bob and demand a second opinion on what I’d told him, and Bob grimaced at me. Rufus and Bob were old pals. Rufus had helped convince the dragon to trade Lilith for Bob in the first place. Turns out they had played games of chance, exchanged stories and even drunk deeply and sang songs over the years I was locked away. Bob could handle the weasel gnome just fine.

I sat beside Liz, who set her plate aside, took my hands in hers, and rested her head on my shoulder. “Tell me how you got here this time,” she said, and closed her eyes. I told her everything from the time I left her at the crossroads until she stumbled into my camp. She made appropriate noises of astonishment and admonishments about my mental acuity, parentage and overall sense of self-preservation. She actually meant the opposite of those things, if you didn’t understand the sarcasm, Father Mulcahy. Let’s just say that Brother Durham would not be surprised at her comments. Only, where he meant them, and meant them to be hurtful, Liz was teasing, mostly.

When I had finished she allowed me to heal her again. She only shuddered a bit when I examined the spear wound. It was healing nicely, though there would be some scarring. Everyone gave us some space, which was nice. Even Lilith sat talking with Magda and the fairies, who were thrilled to meet her. I think Lilith had a little fan club going there since she also knew a lot about being pretty. I heard talk of poultices and dyes that could be used to accent the eyes, cheeks, and lips before I tuned out.

I really wanted the details of what had happened to Liz and why Bÿglar had her weapons. Turns out she gave them to him to hold for her. So he had not betrayed her. I left her to finish her food and went to check on the young hob. He and Reginald had been friends. I don’t know why he ran, but I wanted to make sure he damn well survived. He slept fitfully, his breathing coming in gasps. I made sure to cover him with a blanket and cast a moderate healing on him. He settled down and his breathing became even once more. I had an apology to make when he woke up. I just hope I didn’t addle him with that mace blow, or the second one for that matter.

I started to go back to Liz, but she’d set her plate aside and had curled up once more under the dragon cloak. I visited her briefly, stroked the side of her face for a moment, which drew a smile from her, then tucked the cloak closer around her before kissing her lightly on the cheek. As I rose, she cupped one hand over her cheek and fell back to sleep.

So, one mystery solved. The hob was still in my good books. I had no idea why Liz made him take her weapons, but I could ask Lilith for her tale. That should fill in some of the gaps. Only when I approached, Magda flew over and informed me that Lilith and the fairies were going to do a bit of scouting. Lilith had a stash of supplies near here and wanted to recover her weapons. I didn’t get a chance to ask her why she hadn’t had her weapons with her when I found her, but apparently that tale would wait. I insisted they not go alone, and Alfred agreed to go with them. Lilith liked that idea, as did the fairies. Well, all but Booty Shake who remained sleeping from the healing I had done. Just Jacob took the two young brigands, Jedadiah and Brendon, with him to scout closer to the frog stronghold with dire warnings from me to be careful and don’t go too far away. They would help us find our next ambush point.

Then I pulled Bob away from Rufus of the wildly gesticulating hands, and told him I needed his counsel. He excused himself from Rufus and went with me off to the river where we could sit and speak quietly. I spoke to him about my two hobs: Reginald and Bÿglar. I explained the fears I had about them taking on a talisman and the dreams I’d had the night before. He held my hand, listening attentively, making encouraging noises when I stalled out. He’s a very good listener. When I was done he hugged me for a very long time, kissed me once and sat back down, holding my hand.

“An artifact consisting of three lizard folks shrunken heads told you a riddle,” he said to me, smiling. “They had been behaving a certain way for Wizard Tim, but when you showed up, their behavior changed. Now you believe you are the Fool of their tale.” He shook his head, his smile turning somewhat sad. “Merric, you take too much responsibility for the world. Right or wrong, you cannot continue to live under the weight of this dream quest of yours.”

I started to protest, but he put two fingers against my mouth, stopping me.

“I do not doubt your visions,” he said, the light returning to his eyes. “It led me to my epiphany and my true vocation,” he swept his hands across his chest, indicating the sigil of Kithri’s Fist. “And yes, I believe your quest is real. I just do not believe you can succeed if you continue to take the blame for the events of a harsh world. These young hobs may have taken up symbols to emulate you. To this I say we must wait and ask Bÿglar when he wakes. Reginald, however, has gone on. He should burn on the pyre with his companions, as would be his desire, don’t you think?”

Perhaps he was correct. There was just this burning echo in my head which counted down the last moments of life as we know it. It was the young zealot from my dreams, he of the honeyed words, the forger of fire, the voice of unreasonable reason, and the doomsayer.

What I couldn’t say to Bob was that in my dreams that voice is my voice and that young zealot is me.

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