I was not expecting things to turn out the way they did. The wonders of random chance.
Season 1, Episode 2: Bring Me to Life (Evanescence)
Dawn approaches when I make it back to our camp. Mae stands in front of a wagon and watches me. The rest of the camp is still asleep, the sun not quite having come over the horizon. Her glance takes note of the sword in my hand, and she simply nods a greeting.
“Mae,” I say, returning her nod.
“Raven,” she responds. “Good to see you took back your legacy.”
“What do I do with it?” I ask, holding up The Edge of Eternity uncertainly.
“If it were me? I’d follow in Visemar’s footsteps. Go to The Raven Queen’s shrine and commune with it.”
“Mae. It’s a ruin after Visemar,” I reply dubiously.
She chuckles lightly. “Places have power, Raven, not things. I think if you go to the ruins, you’ll see that.”
The ruins of the mausoleum that concealed the shrine are a half day away on foot. The First Grey, Brencia turned Rachis, had built her mausoleum over it when she first made the pact with the elves of Ravenswood. After the events of The Devourer, the shrine has been in ruined for the past four centuries. Mae said that The Raven Queen never instructed the elves to rebuild it. So it was left just as it was.
I say goodbye to Mae and head toward the shrine and cemetery. The small trail that leads from the camp through the forest is littered with brown and orange autumn leaves. I had heard how the forest once looked like it was perpetually spring, and the sun was always bright overhead. Now, however, everything looked clouded and dark.
Nearing the shrine, I hear voices from beyond the trees. It was mid day, so it made sense that there would be people walking the road to Castlerook. These voices were different. Angry. Frustrated. Another voice answers, this one pleading and frightened.
“... and you don’t know anything about the missing sword?” a voice grunts. “Why are you leaving Castlerook?”
A frightened voice responds, “I was just heading to the South Bend, looking for work.”
“Then you won’t mind if we check your packs?” the gruff voice asks.
I push free of the tree line; this has gone far enough. Four men wear the black and orange of the Castlerook watch. One has a knife pressed against the throat of the man they’re interrogating. The other three turn at my approach, halberds pressed into the ground. The guards notice the sword in my hand. Unfortunate, because I hadn’t found a way to carry it yet.
“That’s the sword,” one of them whispers.
“Of course it is,” another says, “How many swords have black blades with stars in them?”
The one interrogating the frightened man smiles. “Can’t have witnesses,” he sneers and thrusts the blade down through the man’s shoulder. “Remember to take her alive. We can’t touch the sword.”
A sharp gasp escapes from the man’s throat and falls to the ground. Blood pumps from the body into the earth. My vision grows dark and shadowed; my hand clenches against the hilt of The Edge. I feel a pulse from my hand. A vibration barely registers as it radiates through my body, and I black out.
[GM sets Target to 10, 2 Hearts]
[Player rolls STR Attempt: 3]
[GM rolls STR Attempts: 5, 8, 12]
[GM rolls 2 damage]
The Edge of Eternity comes alive with silver starlight. Raven steps forward and swings the blade at the nearest guard. The halberd rises off the ground and knocks it to one side. Three of the guards march forward and thrust their pole arms at her. Raven shifts and slides between the two halberds, but the third traces a thin line across her arm.
[Player rolls STR Attempt: 7]
[GM rolls STR Attempts: 18, 13, 16, 9]
[GM rolls 13 damage]
Raven swings the Edge of Eternity, desperately trying to fight four attackers at once. A pair of halberds rise and intercept the sword then come forward in another series of thrusts. One grazes her unwounded shoulder, another cuts into her side, and the third quickly follows suit and scores a solid hit. Raven collapses from her wounds.
[GM: Well, that was unexpected. Good thing they need her alive. For now.]
I wake up, arms stretched over my head, shackled around the wrists and ankles. I’m lying on something cold and dense. A dull grey suit of armor stands over me. Visemar.
“I'm sorry. This isn't going to be pleasant,” he says with a hollow echo behind his visor.
I pull against the chains, desperately hoping they'd somehow give way. “What's happening?”
“You're to be sacrificed for Brencia’s release from Shadow.”
“Brencia? You kil-” and I pause, not needing him to shake his head. “You knew? You knew Brencia survived. You knew you sacrificed…” What? Everything? His family? Himself? “You knew you failed.”
I scowl, temporarily forgetting where I lay. “Why?”
“You told me, once, that grand designs demand a great price. I failed in killing Brencia but succeeded in buying time. Unfortunately, your psyche was not yet ready, which is how The Edge of Eternity subsumed your consciousness.”
“I… What? Is there a way to get me free?”
“Freeing a Grey from the prison requires another Grey to take her place. You are the last of us. The longer you fight, the stronger she becomes.”
“So, what? Do I just give up and die, so she doesn't use me as fuel? What about The Edge of Eternity? Can you lift its curse so someone can use it?”
“No, but,” he slipped his gauntleted hand over mine, “you can give me Eternity. Search within, expel the energy into my hand.”
I did as he asked. I could sense Eternity locked somewhere inside. It felt odd, like flexing muscles along my arm to wake it up. My hand emanated a soft glow covered by Visemar’s hand. A small starlight sphere formed between us, then my perceptions expanded.
I stood beside myself and Visemar. The grey helmet turned toward me. I became entangled with the fabric of space, the stars, the sun. I sensed that the two of us could communicate simply by thinking it. Through our connection, I knew what he intended.
“Why?” I ask, knowing it would be worthless to try and stop him.
“You told me I was uniquely qualified to stop Brencia. As I said, a Grey needs to take her place. I will take your’s.”
“Because you can't kill her.”
The air rings with a high, crystalline crack. More follow suit. Glass cracking beneath an immense weight. Then Eternity shatters.
The grey armor evaporates like smoke; my body’s eyes blink and she whispers, “I guess it's your turn to save me,” Raven says with an oddly satisfied smile, “Besides, four hundred years? I can probably take a few more.”
I squeeze her hand. Visemar. Always ready to sacrifice his life, and I always willing to take it. With Eternity broken, we can be killed.
I burn away in a cloud of embers, the room turned bright white then faded instantly to a black field with a shining point hovering in front of me. Four comets flare to life, two on either side of me, as I fall to the tiny jewel. I name them, give them life and purpose: Grace of the Sun, Moonstruck Silver, Wayfarer’s Guide and Umbral Pall.
Five stars emerged from the Void; five stars crash upon the earth. I am home.