Lo there do I see my father,
Lo there do I see my mother, my sisters and my brothers,
Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning.
Lo, they do call me, they bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever.
The 13th Warrior
A conversation between Celeste and a HiveMarket priest of Iomedae
“In the rattling of orc sabers and the hoofbeats of raiders, their deaths fade away. In the carnage of battle, I remember who Celeste Destari was born and bred to be. There is only life in the knowledge that there is a seat by The Inheritor for me, but only if my service is grand. Only if each task surpasses the last. And my despair must be replaced by devout service. My humility must be my most prized virtue.”
Celeste shifted her weight to lean forward in the chair the priest had provided her. She took a sip from the goblet of wine her donation provided her. The cup was ornate and the wine was decent. Her father would have known the right words to appreciate it.
“My child, go on.” The redskin of the priest reminded Celeste of how far home had become.
“In the darkness, great or small, their deaths matter the most. The quiet crackling of the night’s fire reminds me of the great pyre I helped raise—of the fire that burned the faces of a failed assault. Of my friends and family.
“I laid to rest the bodies of my mother, and my brother Rafe, and my sister, Alyssa. My father and oldest brothers—the twins, Lucan and Liam, were lost to the Darkness of the World Wound. During the quiet, their screams echo the loudest.”
“They are with Iomedae, I feel it is true. The Augury should confirm it later. I know it is of little solace.” He refilled their drinks and motioned for her to continue.
“I left the World Wound. Nay, I was banished. I headed south. In my anger, it made sense. In my fear, I ran far. The more blood flowed from the blade of my sword, I felt vindicated. I was merciless. And lost.” She swirled the wine in the cup. Lucan told her it helped it breath. She had always found the notion silly.
“There was no gluttony I did not pursue. I drank, and fought, and was jailed enough to put my family’s name to great disappointment and shame. It was then I realized, no one knew my pain; no one cared for my suffering. They saw a brute. A thug. A few caravans even left me to rot in jail cells.
“Sobriety comes quick when you realize you’ve lost your life to grief. The challenge is staying sober long enough to become different.
“I was bailed out by a wonderful man—Areyx, a wizard of no reknown. He needed a goon. At least, that is what he told me. We traveled south together for almost a year. I protected him from a myriad of threats. He protected me from one. Myself.”
The priest nodded. “I have heard this tale a few times. When love and kindness build our world, then our destroyed with such violence. With such disregard for our souls, it hurts us in the worse way possible.” The priest pushed the cups and the wine pitcher to the side. “But you, you have overcome this. Your voice has already brought a few more souls to our steps. Your sword is vigilant. Your Goddess proud.” He reached for her hands. He held them with a soft reverence and smiled with great kindness.