“You see the four of you all have done something to put the world into its current state. You gave your life to save the Queen. Alessisa killed her father and set the castle ablaze leaving her scarred and vengeful. Balefore locked the God-Dragon Jorgun in the elemental plane of water. And the other God-Dragons lost their powers because that Elf, Heays I believe is his name.” Death explained. “Uther chose all of you for your crimes to fix them for your redemption. I can see it on your face. You worry that you did too much wrong to be redeemed. Just remember young paladin, Akor and Negan are those to blame for the corruption that was in your heart. Now you all hold the keys to the redemption of Sovereign’s people. ”
A breath of relief escaped from my lips. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. The burden of responsibility was still there but my burning ignorance was gone. The level of awareness of who I was brought new clarity to who I am now. I wonder if the others felt the same after they learned the secrets of their past. Being alone in this situation was unnerving. How could I face the others after learning this? Learning that Alessisa murdered me and the two of us together are the reason that the Queen is the monster that she is because of our actions? This was a lot to handle before adding in the fact that it is Death, the strongest member of The Murder that told me this information and that they were on our side but stuck in servitude to Akor.
“What do we do now Death?” I asked. He began to change back into the armor-clad Orc that he has been posing as.
“I must call a meeting with the troops to explain that I must take you to the capital immediately. The strongest Paladin magic I have ever seen, and in a child! This is completely unprecedented!” He began, he was speaking as if though the two of us were in the midst of deep conversation. Just then two guards burst into the room as he was punctuating his sentence. “You two! Fetch me Commander Kalgurnaré and call the men to assemble. I must make a statement at once.” They promptly turned and marched out of the room. He then looked at me and winked. “They almost saw my true form, luckily for them, I changed quickly back into my polymorph disguise. I would have hated for them to die unnecessarily.”
Talking with Death was easily one of the strangest moments of my life. Considering the other things I have dealt with that was saying quite a lot. “Death, are you taking me to the Queen herself?” I wondered aloud.
“Why yes, do you think Morgul will join us?” He laughed. “A Paladin, A Necromancer and Death. Should you all succeed this will be an entertaining part of the history books.” For the embodiment of Death, they sure did have a full, hearty, and warm laugh, which continued as we walked from his office and out into the courtyard. As we walked along with one of the walls, I could see hundreds of troops gathering into the courtyards. The center of the complex was a raised stage atop the walls that separated the many cells of the garrison, so one could address four large groups at the same time. Each of the courtyards were full to the brim with soldiers. A force of this size could easily have taken Skrayhorn and left nothing but ash and corpses. The sheer scale of the power commanded in this garrison alone was enough to explain why no one had challenged the Queen and her forces.
Death walked onto the stage and directed me to sit with a handful of other high ranking officers behind the podium. He looked down at me as I walked past and sat beside them. I gave them a nod as I sat down which was returned with a disparaging sneer. “Soldiers and Paladin of the Queen’s Army. Today we have found one of the final keys to bringing an end to the rebellions that threaten our peaceful way of life.” His voice seemed to be amplified to volumes much louder than possible. Perhaps an enchantment on the stage making meeting like this possible. “Though most of my people have joined the ranks, there are many Orc clans that roam unchecked. Their time is near. The Dwarves in the mountains and deserts to the south are hardy people but we have ground them into the dust as we funnel their riches to our all-powerful Queen.” Death delivered. To which a loud cheer responded, Death raised his hands to silence the crowd. “Reports from our scouts have provided us with information that the treacherous capital of the rebel state, Skrayhorn is overrun with the dead unleashed from the crypts of the Queen.” Another round of thunderous applause and cheering raised and fell. “And now! I believe I have found a child who’s power would rival my own who can turn the tides of the war!” He said pointing to me. His speech was giving me more questions than answers. Did these people believe that there was a rebel state? Were the forces that my Allies as large as they thought and myself and the others were completely unaware? “I will be addressing the commanders this evening and orders for the last phase of the war. Together we will win this for her Majesty!” Death raised a first into the air to punctuate his statement, receiving a final cheer.
As the troops filed out of the courtyards back into the rest of the garrison, Death summoned us to his office. We sat there in silence as we waited for him to speak. There were three officers and myself waiting at the table near his desk. One was a Dwarf, another was an Orc and the last was human like me.
The Dwarf was about my height it seemed, which was tall for his people. He had copper brown hair that was long and braided. Many pins and beads were intricately woven in and it gave him a very regal appearance. His beard was also very finely kept and decorated. From what Tahn had told me this meant he has lived a very storied life with many victories. His armor was also masterfully crafted with etchings into the metal that seemed to tell of those tales. His weapon was a large Battleaxe with a hammerhead on one side instead of two blades.
The Orc was slender for what I have seen as common from his people. He had sunken eyes and had been glaring at me since I took to the stage just minutes before. I could feel him judging me as if he was trying to sense my powers. He wore no armor or weapons that I could see leading me to think he was some kind of mage.
The Human was a woman who bore the scars and sporadically cut hair that was common for every woman we have met besides Alessisa. An effort to keep the Queen from disappearing her as she did to all that were considered more beautiful than her. She also had several circles tattoed around her eyes and forehead that had intricate markings inside and around them. She had on thick heavy leathers with a bow and quiver. She sat leaning back in her chair with the front two legs lifting off the ground and her arms crossed over her chest.
“Thank you all for joining me. This meeting will not take long.” Assured Death. “As I have said the boy and I will be heading to the capital this evening. Salmace, you will be left in charge of the garrison in my absence.” To which the woman nodded. “Galvince, you will lead two battalions to bring the remaining Orc tribes into our fold or eliminate them.”
“Certainly General, I would be happy too.” The Orc replied.
“Kalgurnaré, you will go to the Dwarven capital of Thurnbadir with three battalions and oversee the final stage of our plans there.” Commanded Death. To which he tapped the pommel of his weapon to the floor twice. “Any questions? Or are your orders clear?
“Why does this boy have the essence of the veil on him?” Galvince inquired.
“Finnus watched his entire town and family murdered by the dead. His powers as a paladin are the only reason he survived. As you know experiences like this tends to mark people.” Death lied. The Orc looked his commander in the eyes.
“Yes it seems that Death is testing him.” Galvince said and then looked to me. “For your sake, don’t disappoint or else he might begin to toy with you.” Finishing his statement with a chuckle.
“We would not want him to begin to fear the reaper, I would think.” Death finished. “You are dismissed.” The three all stood and walked out of the room leaving me with Death once more. “It would be a shame if somehow the sensitive military plan were to slip into the hands of the rebellion. It would be disastrous if anything were to interfere.”
“You are just giving me sensitive troop deployment? Are you setting a trap? Does the Queen really believe that there is a rebel state? What do you know of our numbers? What do you know of the fall of Skrayhorn? Why did Galvince say I have the essence of the veil on me? What are you plotting Death? I bombarded.
“Never underestimate the curiosity of a child.” Death chuckled. “Well Cinredi I would have you know that we will have plenty of time to play question and answer on our ride to the Capitol. Now we prepare for our journey. When will our Elven friend be joining us?”
“I’m right here” said Morgul entering from a window. ” Cinredi is all well? I saw him shift into his true form. What is happening here?”
“Do not fear good sir Owl, I will not be taking your Paladin from this world, not today it would seem, at least.” Morgul chuckled as he circled facing Death, crossing the room across the room.
“Yes it would seem that way. What has it been? Thirty, forty years since our last meeting? The day the Murder attacked The Parliament.” Questioned Morgul.
“Fifty years last month.” Responded Death. “I was just about to answer some of Cinredi’s questions. He has quite the appetite for knowledge, you must be proud.”
“Immensely, now what are you playing at Crow?!” Barked Morgul.
“I aim to take the child for training at the Capitol. I would love for him to complete his training.” Death answered.
“Morgul, it appears that Death is trying to stay on neutral terms with us. He has given me information on the next troop deployment for the final phase of their plan.” I added.
“Indeed. The End of Days is upon us.” Death announced.