I dreamed of Abigail — raven haired beauty, tall and lithe, mystical and broken. We were lovers, she and I, or had been before I sacrificed her to my blind ambition. She had been my first among hosts, my confidant and my light. Ultimately I had entrusted her with the most glorious and heinous of deeds in our final victory over the pagans. I sent her to her death gladly, for I believed she was going forth unto the glory of our god.
Her glory was as ashes in my mouth for I missed her with every fiber of my tattered soul. Tattered it was Father, blistered and debased. But the ending, well, the ending was at the end, and this was the beginning of that.
For you see, Father, in my dreams I was willing witness to the long trysts and budding romance that sweetened the ever growing madness. I relished in my role as co-conspirator to elaborate plans that brought down a civilization. And most of all I was a foolish contributor to deep philosophical discussions which served to justify our already twisted vision of a perfect world. As we, she and I, made our way upward from novice to acolyte, curate to prefect we fed each other’s wildest fantasies and most broken dreams. The higher we rose in the one true church, the greater our ambition, the wider our spectrum of choices and in the end, the total dissolution of our moral responsibility. At the end, we proclaimed with righteous exuberance, justified by whatever means we deemed prudent.
Purging the heretics, the foreigners, the mages, and the poor had always been part of our master plan. Overthrowing the emperor and bringing down the Nine and Sixty kingdoms? That had not entered our conversations. But it had grown in my mind over the years. And in the end, the voice that whispered in my dreams told me to fulfill the prophecy, to cleanse the world with blood and fire, I would have to sacrifice my heart; my Abigail. When Brother Durham released the demons within the fortress walls I rejoiced. When the Alliance Temple burned; when the Fortress of All Faiths fell to my Abigail and her seven companions; when the emperor choked out his life’s blood around the hilt of my dagger; I rejoiced.
But in my rejoicing I learned that I was alone. Alone but for the laughing face of the Man in White. Oh how I had played into his darkest schemes. How foolish I had been. Upon my death I would take up the visage of the wraith, for even the lords of the nine hells would not look upon my face. But the Man in White had failed to consider the weakness of love, the fallacy of blind faith, and the hubris of hope. He never foresaw that my love Abigail would fail to kill them all. He never conceived that Kithri and her seven would escape into the wilds. And for this the world may be redeemed. I will set the wheel spinning and see what the heavens deliver.
When I woke, I lost more of the dream than I captured here on this page. The fact I keep slipping into this as if it was my plans, my life disturbed me, Father. These were the mad dreams of another man, another time. The similarities in all our names can be no coincidence. Do you dream of the wrathful youth you had been in a previous life? Are similar dreams why Brother Durham adheres to the Law so stringently?
And our mission, the cursed existence that we perpetuate has a purpose greater than I had ever dreamed. We preserve the fallen, I realize that now. We are of the descendents of the seven, there can be no other explanation. I know this with the certainty of my spiritual connection and my divine power. This is why we hide in a swamp at the far end of what was once the greatest civilization in the history of the people, is it not? What else do we preserve? Who are we hiding from? Do the zealots still hunt us after seventy millennia?
I want more than anything to come home and discuss these things with you. I want to watch your eyes as you read this journal and ask you to explain. I want to see the relics and the liturgy in the light of what I have discovered. But mostly, I want to return to the innocence that I once eschewed.
But that is the fanciful wishes of a child. I am set upon a path that may preserve the light in the end, but not unless I fulfill my appointed tasks. So I rose and took up my mace, left the dusty bones of a thousand dead and climbed the stairs to free those who had been enslaved.
No one challenged me when I gathered my things. They just followed suit and without a word spoken, we climbed the sweeping staircase and opened the grand doors into the heart of the frog stronghold.
How the frogs had never discovered this place became apparent when we attempted to open the doors. They had been ensorcelled for more years than Rufus could calculate, but again, I knew the work of Edna who skirted the lines of purity and foul magic. She had sealed those doors before Sister Agnes cut her down for the use of unclean forces. I saw that moment in my mind’s eye and witnessed the smile upon Edna’s face as she accepted the dagger that would purge her of her sins. One mage among the world of sorcerers who gladly came to the light and gave her blood to seal the fall of the temple.
The knock spell Rufus conjured was a simple thing, but the frogs had no idea these doors existed. That much was clear when we opened them and saw the rooms beyond. Opulence and finery lay draped on every surface of the frog king’s bedroom. We were stunned by the chests of coins, the casks of gems and the snoring form of the ruling frog himself.
I took no satisfaction in crushing his skull.