Were anyone passing by on the forested road so late in the night, they would have mistaken his groans and grumbles as the sounds of an angered predator. And perhaps there was some truth to that, as Tolomir hunted sleep but could not attain it. Instead, shadows and whispers crept at his serenity, lashing small cuts and ripping little bites off his balance until they had buried their way into his memories. And when one of those specters hit on a sensitive nerve, Tolomir shot awake, panting and glistening in sweat. The grass at his back was trampled and pulled up in clumps and the rock that served as his headrest was cracked.
If there was one time in the day he held the most disdain for, it was now. Even searching the deepest tombs, Tolomir took solace that his Divine was casting her light down on both the worthy and unworthy alike. And he knew this to be true even now, when the moons were at their highest in the night, because Silena was the Lady of All Light. Yet right now, when she was the most distant, he was the most shaken and that did not please Tolomir.
Placing his hands upon the broken stone, he whispered “Silena, most glorious Light, I beg your audience in this silent hour.” With one of the few blessings Tolomir could use at such an hour, the rock began to glow, energized by her light as a beacon to summon his lady’s favor.
“You are troubled, my wayfinder. I see wavering in your fortitude.” Silena called to him, honestly stern in her vision of his worry, like a mother with her youth under the wing.
“I am sorry, Queen of all Light. I do not mean to concern you, especially in this most still of hours…I do not know the cause of my weakness, and that troubles my mind greatly.” Tolomir bowed his head low, understanding full well how his Divine viewed hesitation of any kind.
“What do these distractions show you, Dayfire?”
Tolomir raised up to sit erect, now trying to focus on what he had tried to crush not ten minutes ago. Now, what had previously come in fragments and echoes washed over him like a rising tide. “I…I cannot say for certain. Whispers in the dark, but ones I feel I should know. Broken reflections of places and people I have never seen, but ring in my chest like I should remember.”
Though he could not see it, he could feel the hand of his Divine lightly upon his scruffy scalp, and that sensation alone warmed his blood and commanded the demons to retreat. “Do you recall when you came into my Light, my paladin?”
“Of course, my Light. It is my earliest memory, though I was a broken shell when you blessed me with your message.” Tolomir smiled, one of the few times he would do so in any day, but the memory filled his mind with balance and clarity. “It was the first time I can recall being given purpose.”
“Because you were worthy of my banner, sentinel. And do you recall my first decree?”
“I was to reclaim your temple at Barthall Dume, and purge the wickedness that infected your Divine Light. The orc warlord Havnaroc bel Castadadon had infected your sanctuary with his brood, and sullied your blessings.” Tolomir let his eyes wander through his clear thoughts, remembering the great strength it had taken to smash the beast’s skull upon the false throne his followers had built. The shining Light she had bestowed on him to cleanse false writings and idols made Tolomir’s body feel afloat in divinity, and it was a feeling that plagued his greatest dreams to reclaim.
“And when you emerged from my temple bathed in my favor?“
That moment was one of his strongest memories, one that he anchored each day to when he woke to give devotion. “You honored me with your words, that I had succeeded where others had failed you. That I was with to bear your symbol and be an extension of your will.”
Tolomir unconsciously touched his bare chest and smiled.”It was on that day that I was born how I always should have been, yours and yours alone.”
“And do you believe that I would grant that kind of power to one that was weak or corruptible in any way?” Silena’s question was a razor that stole his breath and quickened his pulse. “Of course not, yours is the Will by which I live. It can’t be flawed, because your Light is ever pure.”
“Then hear my command and take solace in its finality!” Her words echoed from the stone and out into the night, sending any beast or wildlife that had been docile into sprints of fear from his camp. Tolomir fell to as low a bow as he could manage, nose buried in soil. “Forgive my impudence, my Divine. Your sword is sharpened and your shield unbreakable. Your Will is my life.”
“Continue your journey to Koenn, and seek the temple of Gaius-grel Grethxathur, the World Dragon. Cleanse the heretics who worship their mindless beast and rip down the false walls! Let no mortal or beast evade my purification!” His Lady’s order shook Tolomir in its weight, but it focused his mind. It was an unusual command, for a Champion to murder the Speakers or followers of another Divine without contending with the opposing Champion first, but those concerns did not shake his newfound resolve. “Their lies will be silenced and the city frees of such heresy, my Light. Yours is the true Word the world should know.”
“Then be at peace, my vessel. My edict will guide you and my gifts preserve and defend you.” Her last words as the stone grew dim swelled within his core, making his muscles twitch for movement. “I am yours, Lady of Light. Yours is the only desire I obey.”
Finally feeling his mind settle with its mission, Tolomir stretched back out within the tall grass, letting the blades frame the portrait of the treeline above him, so dense that only the brightest lights of the heavens could pierce the thicket to reach him. Just as my Divine intends…is there no greater display of her absolution?
And as his eyes closed once more, a single word left his lips. A whisper that not even the plants would hear easily. “Keena…”
In a much different light that yesterday’s post, this one is actually a continuation to an older WIP that really hit a nerve with me. I’ve never written fantasy until Tolomir came calling, and now I want to see where his journey goes.
Why did I call this Chapter 6? Simple: I haven’t written Chapters 2-5 yet…but this is the scene that came to me, so here you go.
I hope you all enjoy.