Red. That was all Chesed could remember the moment they set foot in the final chamber. Red had laced the corners of his vision upon seeing Mokmurian and the snake lady. And the blackness that followed…
The flare of conscious thought at the words, “You left your love unattended.”
His attention was only split from Mokmurian for a second until the following, satisfying response came, “I don’t need a man to defend me.”
And then it was done.
Chesed felt the stagnant air disperse around him as the giant’s body collapsed backward in front of him, a spear and fletched arrows pin-cushioning his chest for the killing blows. The giant hit the floor with a resounding thud, and Chesed waited. He waited for any sign that Mokmurian was not dead. He had to make sure. The fury clung to his skin, but went unrequited as he waited perched like a hawk over its targeted prey.
A long minute passed. He could hear his collective party gathering together from the chaotic fight. The rager finally broke his gaze away from the giant’s corpse when a hand brushed over his shoulder. Shalelu whispered soothing words in Elven, calming the unrelented fury burning inside. Chesed took a long, slow breath as the rage finally dissipated.
“Are you all right?” the rager asked quietly. Shalelu didn’t appear to be in the best of shape. Maybe he shouldn’t have just run in…
“I’ll be fine,” she responded. An eyebrow was raised at him though, “‘Over here.’ Really? That was a wonderful response in a wall of fog.”
“I…” Chesed didn’t remember giving any locations during the fights. But at the same time… He had blacked out… Awkward…. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
The elf snorted.
“Well,” Erin spoke up from across the room, “Found the key. I think…” The card reader held up something that could have been a key to the doors they found earlier, “Want to see the library?”
“Might as well,” Tomlin replied.
The group gathered their weapons and healing was dispensed where needed as they made their way back to large doors, small chitchat floating between everyone. Chesed kept glancing over his shoulder as the group finally entered the library. It was better to be safe than sorry…
The clanking of something heavy and the squeal of un-oiled metal sounded as they stepped inside. A wobbly metal-like guardian came forward from the left side of the open room. A language Chesed had barely heard came from its mouth. Chesed kept a hand on his sword as Erin responded in the same tongue.
“Uh… well, this is the Librarian,” Erin introduced the guardian after a short conversation, “It wants to know if it can find a topic for us. Anything? Anything at all?”
“Can he find books on heroes?” Tomlin’s face lit up.
Erin nodded a little and translated over to the guardian. Chesed looked back into the hallway they had come. He had interest in where their next adventure would take them, but he was also concerned for the safety of leaving. Would the way back be clear? Could they trust Conna to keep her word for the giants to leave? He was pretty sure they could. Conna seemed to have much, much more honor than her son. And the giants thought this land was taboo. There shouldn’t be any reason for them to linger too long on the plateau…
The itching feeling of wasted time gnawed at him as the group settled momentarily in the library and laid their plans out. Erin would go get Vraxim. Da’Karu and Darkclaw would stay until they were back. Tomlin seemed bored by the prospect of staying in the library after the Librarian returned no books on his hero topic. Chesed volunteered to head back up the stairs to inform Conna of their victory. Shalelu wouldn’t hesitate to come along. He would have her and the halfing if anything went wrong. A good combo…
The moment Erin disappeared from the hallway, Chesed felt the gnawing feeling pull at him again. Why was he so restless? They would get there in due time… He would get the time to find is sisters. Maybe. It depended how quickly they would need to move with the possible threat of a Runelord looming over them, but that was something they needed Vraxim to help them find out.
The giantess was still in the shrine room. She was quietly sitting in front of her ancestors’ shrine. She barely glanced at the trio as they entered.
“It is done then?” she asked quietly.
“Yes,” Tomlin stated firmly, “Mokmurian is dead.”
“Then I will go to the tribes and we will prepare to leave,” Conna hesitated as she thought on her words carefully, “I am not happy to know my son is dead. But he has paid for his atrocities the only way he could… But I thank you heroes… a darkness has been lifted from our people.”
“If there is anything we can do to help…” Shalelu started to offer.
“No,” Conna cut her off gently, “This is my matter now. We will leave you in peace… and I hope we can maintain such in the future.”
Chesed met the giantess’s gaze as she stood. She observed him with a curious expression. They had said nothing to each other except when they first met, and Chesed didn’t care to break the silence. The giantess’s expression said otherwise of her thoughts though. She excused herself from the room to gather the tribes and announce the news. Maybe they would talk later. Chesed shrugged the thought to the back of his mind.
“Want to go see what’s down the hall?” Tomlin asked.
Shalelu passed Chesed an amused look before looking at the small warrior, “We should probably collect the dwarves from the back halls as well.”
“Oh right, those guys…” Tomlin mumbled, “Forgot about them…”
The day seemed to pass in a blur after that. The trio found the dwarves waiting and ready for a fight. They regrouped to some of the inner rooms as giants moved through the halls with quick steps. Their hurried pace gave away their excitement to leave. Chesed didn’t blame them one bit. He wanted to leave this cursed place just as much as they did.
It was while watching the giants tow supplies up the ramps around the bone pit that the rager’s day seemed to slow. The urge to leave still gnawed at the back of his mind, but Chesed remained rooted to the spot where he was sitting along the stone edge of the ramp. He wanted to make sure everything was going to go smoothly for the giants and their party and… well… everything?
He glanced down into the bone pit, the scales of the two young dragons glimmered in the sunlight still. It was kind of saddening to see them dead… The thought didn’t stay long as another glimmer caught his eye. A tiny point of light sparkled below the shimmer of red scales, on the ground right where one of the tails curled through the bones.
Chesed glanced around. There was no one around for the moment, the last of the giants was moving barrels away from the hole’s edge; they would probably be back for another trip soon…
The rager slipped off the rocks and landed in the bone pit with ease. He gingerly stepped over what he could, being careful to avoid disturbing the area. He would feel more comfortable after Vraxim had the time to bless the fallen souls here and give them the prayers to move on if they hadn’t yet.
The little shine was still evident from this angle on the ground though, and it drew the rager closer. Chesed hopped into an open spot, delicately avoiding another skeleton. The shine was coming from a ring half buried in the dirt. He crouched down and scooped up the trinket with interest. A broken chain fell away from it as Chesed brushed dirt away.
His heart skipped a beat. Chesed turned the golden band in his fingers as he chipped hardened clay from the crevices of the band. Slowly, an etched dragon found its way to the surface. The creature coiled around the band, hidden only by the feathery wings encircling the inlaid sapphire on the top.
Chesed recognized this ring… and it made the pain of loss suddenly more real. It was the his mother’s ring. The one that his father had been given back when she had left the village. The one his father had always worn on a chain around his neck. His father…
The rager’s hand curled around the ring and the cool metal pressed into his palm as he stood up, holding the trinket tightly. As much as he wanted to throw it away, to forget about it and the past… Chesed would keep it. He had to….
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there…” he whispered to the quiet around him, “I promise I will find them…”
The rager glanced over his shoulder as he heard a barely audible whisper. Had he heard his own name? Maybe the others were calling for him? He needed to get back…
The warrior looked back and nearly toppled backward in shock. A shimmer of white blue formed before him for a couple seconds, nearly a mirror image of his own form, but taller, more built…. and wider wings…
I am proud of you, son.
As quickly as the ghostly image appeared, it vanished. Tears formed at the corners of Chesed’s eyes. It was words he thought he would never hear… and honestly, the rager wouldn’t have been surprised if his mind was just playing tricks on him… but… relief filled him. An overwhelming calm settled in his soul, making the rager close his eyes. His family was avenged and could rest easy in the afterlife… He would find whoever was left… He could carry on the Starfist clan title without any animosity now… The past was the past now. He would continue moving forward until one day, maybe he would continue the clan…
“You look just like him.”
The words rang through the silence of the bone pit. Chesed turned sharply to find Conna standing by the bottom doorway.
“Anviel was a terror of our tribe… His hatred for us was unquenchable…. but I do not see that in you…” Conna continued, “Am I mistaken, son of Anviel?”
“My father hated giants with all his heart,” Chesed sighed, “I do not care to follow that path. Mokmurian is dead. We will leave it at that.”
“My son for your father…. seems fitting for such a story to pass,” Conna stated, “I am sorry it had to be this way.”
“Don’t be,” Chesed responded. He started moving out of the bone it, pocketing the ring in his belt bag for safe keeping, “My father made his decision. Mokmurian made his. We will leave it at that.”
“This gives me hope that we can live in peace in the future then?” Conna’s words were promising though her tone was less than hopeful. Hatreds wouldn’t dissolve overnight; they both realized this. Chesed still struggled with it even now. But every little encounter since the attack in Sandpoint til now… it had lessened bit by bit.
“I don’t see why not,” Chesed gave backing to her words, “Despite the fighting, I think both sides would rather see it end. I am sure something can be worked out in time.”
“We will see then, son of Avniel…”
“Chesed,” the rager stated. He preferred not to be titled under his father’s name if at all possible.
“Chesed…” the giantess repeated, “Yes… Chesed Starfist. We will meet again one day. Under peaceful terms I hope…”
“Agreed,” Chesed nodded. They both knew dark days were ahead. Their meeting would never happen, the peace on the plateau and beyond would never get a chance if he didn’t focus on the task ahead. The task of possibly taking down an old Runelord…
But Chesed knew they could do it. His group would prepare. They would fight until the end to see Varisia and all its inhabitants safe. They all just needed to work together and they could do it. Right?