A story take from one of our Dungeons and Dragons sessions.
Bre’Selyas felt a slight tremor travel down her arm as yet another arrow impacted against her shield. She was getting tired. They had been fighting for too long now, she had lost count of the numbers of enemies slain. The wounds she had already taken were beginning to take their toll. She had done her job however, she plugged the gap preventing the Yuan-ti and lizardfolk from getting through to her more vulnerable companions so that they could pick the enemy off from safety. She did her job even now, holding the hallway and protecting her allies from being surrounded while they fought on the other front. She returned her attention to the three enemies before her. No matter how much she stabbed, they still remained standing. Get through this one, then go on to the next, she told herself grimly sticking her sword in deep and willing Tyr to work through her hand and do extra damage.
The longsword had originally belonged to her grandfather. Throughout Bree’s entire childhood it had always accompanied the old man and when he finally got to infirm to carry it, they had mounted it beside his bed. As he lay dying she had placed the sword in his hands one final time. Probably should have buried the thing with him, but he had asked her not too. Old man had probably known what was coming next, and wanted to make sure his successor was armed. Bree liked to think he hadn’t known that Tyr would choose her, liked to believe that he would have given her a heads up if he had known. But the gods are mercurious and how could a mortal truly know what they had planned? Bree had five older, very qualified brothers for Tyr to choose as his Champion. Jago Lanmarrak the eldest ran the estate and cared for all of the peoples that lived on Lanmarrak land. Gryffen saved people. He was a knight that travelled the northwest lands, aiding all who needed him. Beyok was a priest… of Tyr no less! Hedryk was not a particular devoted follower of Tyr but he was big and strong and he loved nothing more than hunting the woods with his dogs. Santo was closest to her in age and well, he would have been a terrible champion. Too fond of wine and women to devout himself to a single cause. But still, he wandered across Faerun and could handle a sword.
But it was not they who Tyr sent the dreams of death and terror. It was not they who found themselves ordering servants to prepare rations for trips. It was not they who started to walk to their children’s nursery only to find themselves in the stables. It was not they who woke in the morning to find themselves a league away from their home clad only in their night clothes, carrying their grandfather’s sword. Bree had sat down that day in the middle of the dirt road and cried. Her feet bruised and bleeding from walking that she had not even realized she was doing. Tyr would not let her rest, would not let her decline. She was trapped in a tale not of her choosing. A warm hand settled on her head where it was buried in her knees. Startled she had looked up only to find that she was alone, and the warmth turned to burning. Her scalp burned. As she screamed she realized that the tight braid she had set her hair in was gone, worked loose by invisble fingers and the glow of opalescent white that floated around her face was her hair. Tyr had marked her. She was his.
Arveldir had found her there. She had cried herself back to sleep. Within a week they had left. Another week and she had signed up with The Heroes Adventuring Company figuring they at least would have the expertise to send her where she was needed. That had culminated in her standing here in the underbelly of a tomb to some man named Didereus attempting to murder a man that looked like a snake. She could feel the warm reassuring presence at her back. At least he was still there and he was safe… so far.
Arveldir had been beside her as far back as she could remember. He was her grandfather’s best friend, and when her parents had been killed he had been the one to pick up the pieces and become caregiver and teacher. When he had found her beside that road a year ago and she told him she would be leaving he had not even hesitated to come with her. It hadn’t even been an option that he might stay at home so there he stood, guarding her back. She felt a cool blast shoot past her cheek as he fired a spell at one of the lizard folk on the other side of her shield.
Bree grunted in pain as the lizardfolk on her left took advantage of her distraction to knock her sword aside with his club and sink his teeth into her thigh. It hissed at her as it tried to sink his teeth in even deeper. Bree hissed back and used the corner of her shield to pry it off, taking a chunk of her flesh with it. Blood loss was becoming a real issue now. She was out of healing potions but perhaps Arveldir had one in reserve. She would ask him, if I survive, she told herself as she blocked another bite attack from the one on her right.
There was a hard impact to Bree’s ribs and the room went silent, nobody was moving, frozen in place like statues. Bree glanced down in shock. A stone arrow jutted out from behind her chest plate. A one in a million shot straight through her ribs. Her shield slipped from her suddenly nerveless fingers clattering loudly on the stone floor. Bree followed after it, slipping to her knees in her own blood. She coughed once a horrid wet sound that spattered her chest with glistening red liquid then fell to the floor.
“Arael’a’sum!” Arveldir screamed in elvish. It sounded like he was far away, but he had been right behind her only a moment ago. He sounded hurt. Bree wanted to look at him but turning her head seemed like an impossible effort at the moment. Arael’a’sum. A name he had given her long ago. A name that was never used with others. Arael’a’sum. Heart’s Daughter.
It looked like one of the Lizardfolk might attempt to take a bite out of her when suddenly he was gone tackled by a black blur. As they rolled around next to her Bree recognized the blur as Pharazon, now grappling with their foe. Bree struggled to lift her sword to assist him but simply attempting to roll over exhausted her. She stopped on her side, chest heaving. Her lungs felt heavy, getting enough air was hard.
Pharazon struggled to free himself from the lizards grasp and get to her. She could see his face clearly. She coughed weakly, blood pooling in the floor beneath her head. She moved her gaze to Arveldir who was blasting the other lizardfolk with a spell. He looked frantic. Bree blinked at him slowly trying to get his attention. There was something important she needed him to do. She remembered a few weeks ago and the time she had gotten to spend at home. She had promised Eselde something and she needed Arveldir to keep it.
“Why do you have to go again?” Eselde asked arms crossed and bottom lip jutting out. At 12 she was all long limbs. Her long brown hair hung in wild tangles down her back having clearly escaped the nursery before the maid could braid it for her.
“We stand the best chance of stopping the bad guys. I have to go. They need me.” Bree patiently explained to her eldest daughter as she packed rations into her bag.
“We need you. You are our mother.” She said petulantly, turning around to face the fire. She was quick, but not so quick that Bree missed the tears that were welling.
Bree set the bag on the bed and scooped her daughter up. Eselde squealed and flailed her arms. How long had it been since she had done this Bree wondered. Too long, she decided. She settled them both into a chair closer to the fire and folded Eselde into her arms, head tucked under her chin.
“I know you need me. That’s why I have to go. What I’m fighting isn’t going to stop at the edge of The Brightwood. If I don’t stop it, the whole world will fall into shadow. I am your mother. I will always be your mother.”
“What if you don’t come home?” Eselde asked in a small voice, her skinny arms wrapping around Bree’s neck in a death grasp.
“I will come home. No matter what, I will come back to you. I promise.”
Eselde reared back and met Bree’s stormy blue eyes with her own matching set. “Pinky promise?” She held out her fist, pinky extended.
Bree took her pinky with her own and sealed it with her thumb. “Pinky promise.”
As Bree lay there, dying, she admitted to herself, she realized she wasn’t going to be able to keep the promise the way she intended, which was why it was important that Arveldir look at her. Finally he glanced at her. She smiled, a macabre red thing and mouthed, there was no more room left in her lungs for air, a single word to him.
Then Bree died. The light, the Bree-ness left her eyes and she went finally, horribly, still.
Many things happened at once.
Arveldir screamed a primal sound of rage and sadness catching sight of the Yuan-ti that stood in the hallway, his bow still raised.
Pharazon shredded the Lizardfolk he had been wrestling and scambled across the blood soaked floor to Bree.
Arveldir’s hands flared blue and white and ice shot from his hands. “Stab you with a magic ice spell you sonofabitch!” he roared in elvish at the now fleeing Yuan-ti. His rage made him strong, his magic overflowing into his spells.
Pharazon gently lifted the body of his fallen companion into his lap. Gently touching her slack face he closed his eyes and reached deep into his well of power drawing out the last bit that he had left to cast Revivify. He finished the words and felt his fingertips warm as the power flowed through him into her. He opened his eyes and watched her face. Her blue eyes stared sightlessly through him. He shook her, looking for a flutter, a twitch.
“Bree.” He tapped her face urgently. “Bree!” He tried the words to the spell again, but there is no power left to give. Desperately he says the words again and again, rocking her corpse in his arms.
Arveldir ran down the hallway around them his hands still blindingly bright as he fired another overpowered Ray of Frost down the hallway. “I will destroy you!” His faced twisted in rage and pain.
Bree’s body grew colder as her blood puddled on the floor around them, flowing into the cracks and crevices of the stone. Pharazon began to pray, silently at first and then ever louder as his anguish grew. “Please my Lord Pelor… she is my friend. I beg of you to return her to us. I have done all I can as the Servant of Your Hand. Please…help me!”
Dúlamán and Althea finished off the last snake, aware from the yelling that something must have happened. Dúlamán rushed out and took in the scene at a glance. The cleric cradling Bree’s too still body, Arveldir rushing headlong after the enemy. Dúlamán made his choice and flew after the sorcerer and his foe. Striking with his deadly claws he finished what Arveldir began. The yuan-ti archer was dead, Dúlamán’s claws in his throat.
Robbed of his purpose now that the one he sought vengeance on was dead Arveldir turned back to Bree. His face a mask of sorrow, his shoulders hunched as if to ward off blows. Slowly his feet pulled him back to her. As he looked at her pale body in Pharazon’s arms he remembered her as she was. A sleepy baby with a thatch of dark curls atop a round face. A chubby cheeked toddler with an innocent grin, perched on his knee, one hand wrapped around his long silver hair. A freckled hoyden all arms and legs no longer a child but not yet a woman. A gangly teen girl pining on the roof of the estate over that snake Casmir. A young woman in full bloom laughing delightedly as he spun her around the fire at her wedding feast, the echoes of the music in her eyes. A mother, her babe Eselde cradled in her arms, her hair matted from her efforts. A corpse now, pale and lifeless with red, too much red.
Arveldir dropped to his knees, heedless of the blood that soaked into the white fabric of his robes. “Arael’a’sum…” The daughter of his heart was dead. He could not, he would not believe it. He grabbed her arm and shook her like a recalcitrant child. Like the child he would find hiding in his laboratory where she knew she was not supposed to be. Like the girl that argued with him in his ethics class. Like he expected those blue-gray eyes to lift to him and flash impishly.
They did not.
“Everyone! I need your help to cast a ritual. Please join hands!” Pharazon gently laid Bree back on the ground and stood up.
Althea, the newest member of their group spoke up from where she stood, “A ritual? For what? To bring Bree back?”
Pharazon glared at her.
Arveldir brushed a stray wisp of hair out of Bree’s eyes, refusing to close them. “I do not believe she would have wanted this, and yet I do. I have already lost one friend of her clan, I do not wish to lose another.” He stood and took Pharazon’s hand.
Althaea Galanodel leveled her own glare at Pharazon in response. “It was a simple question. I was simply asking if that was the intent.”
Dúlamán took Pharazon’s other hand. The three men stared at the elven woman. One elven hand and one dragon hand extended out to her.
“Of course it’s the intent. I WILL NOT lose another friend!” Pharazon told her vehemently.
“She would not have wanted this. I may not have travelled with you for long, but she expressed her views quite clearly about resurrecting others. If she did not believe in doing so for others, why would she wish that for herself? It would be hypocritical of her, and Bree was not the hypocritical type. It would be selfish of us to bring her back when she did not agree with the practice,“ Althea argued passionately. Perhaps she had not known the human woman as long as the others, but she had known enough. She had listened to the argument between Bree and Arveldir hours early. Let the dead stay dead, Bree had argued. Let the dead stay dead.
Pharazon shook his head. “I have revived her once before and she was thankful for it. Why would this be any different?”
Arveldir spoke up now, his right hand still held out for her “Indeed. I try to better myself, but I am not perfect. I would rather live with a selfish act and a living friend than a selfless act and a dead one.”
“Did you ever ask her how she felt about it beyond her being thankful? Of course, we are not perfect, and I would love to see her live as well! But I would not love to see her live and foster resentment against us for not respecting her view points!” Althea told them, shaking her head.
“I also cannot betray the debt my brothers and I owe to her family and walk away.” The Lanmarrak family had saved his temple and his brother monks from a fate worse than death itself, Dúlamán would not walk away now, Not while there was still a chance of repaying that debt.
“I refuse to walk away as well. If you will not help, the three of us will do it.” Pharazon said resolutely. His grip tight on the hands of his companions.
“You need not join in. But those of us who have travelled with her, who know her, are all willing to try.” Arveldir spoke coldly.
Althaea Galanodel stared at the three of them before shaking her head and turning her back on them, moving down the hall. “All must return to the soil from which we are born at some point. If you have already attempted once and failed, perhaps you should take it as a sign.” With that, she fell quiet and kept watch for any possible approaching enemies.
Arveldir and Dúlamán closed the circle above Bree. Pharazon began to chant. Speaking the words of the ancient arcane language he cast out to his god, to her god, to any god that would listen.
Raise the Dead.
Arveldir and Dúlamán begin to chant with him lending their voices to his plea. Light emanated from their clasped hands and a bright visage of Pelor stepped forth to aid his devout cleric. The figure of the bright god raised his hands skywards as if to call Bree’s soul back down from above. From the sharp shadows cast by the light they could see another being. This figure was larger, broader, and missing his right hand. Tyr. Tyr stepped in front of Pelor and held his hand out, as if asking them to not raise his champion from her death. Then, Tyr too raised his hand skyward and the party felt something; something warm, something comforting, something peaceful. The toil of battle fell away, their strength returned, and their power felt refreshed. Tyr then turned holding his hand out as if expecting someone to grab it. The spirit of Bree begins to take shape, rising up from the ground to stand next to them. She smiled at them sadly and reached out to their clasped hands. Turning last to Arveldir she reached out with both hands to touch his face, her light searing away the tears that streamed from his eyes.
For his ears only she whispered, “O’su’arael. My heart’s father. Take me back to them.” She stroked his face one last time and then turned to her god. She had worshipped him, fought against him, fought for him, and ultimately, died for him. She reached out and took his divine hand and with a flash she was gone.
The hallway was once again lit only with the flickering light of torches and the party was alone. Releasing their hands from the death grip with which he had held them Pharazon bent over and lifted Bree’s sword and shield. Slinging the shield over one arm, he handed the longsword to Arveldir.
“It is too dangerous to leave her here. We should take her to the library. She will be safe there until we can complete this miserable task and leave this place.” Arveldir said, staring at the naked blade he now carried in his hands. Twice now he had watched it’s bearer die, leaving him with unimaginable heartache.
Pharazon gently lifted the dead woman into his arms and led the way back to the library.