The city of water was always beautiful, and the falling water around it was a frame for a beautifully painted portrait. The water never fell in a uniform pattern if you looked close enough, but from far away it was a constant that brought a smile to my face no matter how many times I see it.
“Goddess be praised!” I exclaim for no other reason than stating truth.
The goddess has always been kind to me, and never has let my belly stay empty or my heart left unsatisfied. I have wandered the land of Geldbane more than any natural born Gelban could claim to have done.
The city of water was always a treat as it reminded him of the cascade falls of Aquan, and I couldn’t help feeling a little homesick looking at them, more than that I had the remarkably clear words of the goddess to guide me.
“Protect and guide the destroyers.” I say aloud, “I am to protect those that would shatter the peace I so embrace.”
There was no one around me to hear it, but when I am alone I like to speak to make sure my voice still works. A priest that cannot preach is no priest after all. But what was this message, from a woman that spoke to me only in whispers, now offers this unmistakable command?
This is a trial of faith; I should be honored to receive this task where other priests may go their entire lives without hearing her voice. I close my eyes to imagine it, just as it was the day before. In the blanket of sleep she came to me in flesh rather than stone.
I fold my hands in my lap and sit on the spot. The crisp air of the city of water made for a fine stage for the dream. The goddess touches by face with warm inviting hands against my cheeks and speaks in a lithe tone.
“Protect and guide the destroyers.” I speak the words as if they were hers, in time with the phantom goddess that beckoned me.
“The world guided by its defenders is doomed to darkness. To create, one must destroy. You will be feared, you will be hated.” It was odd, any other time I had heard the goddess offer a plea, and she was distant and offered her wisdom as some lofty presence that carried an apologetic tone.
In my dream, and now, she was more like a lover but did not seek to seduce me. The intimacies of her words were clear. She trusted me with a task that no others could do, nor would do.
I open my eyes again, to greet the cascading splendor of the city of water. It was a fine stage to set out on my pilgrimage as so many others ended theirs in the same place. It also reminds me of home, Aquan.
Some would be discouraged being faced with my task, my heart aches with the possibility of what may be, and what will be.
I look upwards to the city of water, the Son of the land sits atop its throne of water and stone. The bringer of life and warmth, also heralds the destruction of mankind. That who gives, also takes away.
I glance away again, rubbing the bridge of my nose. Tears well up, they come without me summoning them. My faith in the goddess grants me warmth that everything will work out. Something good comes from this, I am sure of it.
So much death, the world endures so much chaos in the vision. The Son of the Land bursts, peppering the land with flame. The lush plains of Geldbane become a scorched wasteland. Within seconds casualties are uncountable, some are swallowed by flames while others crushed by debris. The land opens up in more places than can be counted plummeting many innocents to their death below.
I drink in the images, take them to heart. This is why I must succeed. This is why I must find them. I can tell in my heart, at the very bottom, this is not something I will be aiding but something I will be preventing. Her grace is not so cruel to damn her children to such a painful fate.
Then the flames die out; those that survive are left shivering, betrayed by their own keeper and left with nothing. The flames they can produce do nothing to warm the piercing nothingness that radiates from the site of the destroyed sun. Any sparks of flame are extinguished by punishing cold.
All they have to look forward to is the painful creeping death of cold. Those that try to flee to the borders in hopes to find warmth die from exhaustion. Those that say only have the satisfaction of perishing with their loved ones.
I can see it all so clearly. It is happening around me. This is what will happen if I fail. This is a reminder of the importance of success. This is a fate that falls upon inaction, I am sure of it. The Son of the Land bursting into flame is not something done by a person or being, but rather an end to a sad fate.
This is a fate that is unavoidable. The Son will fall. The Son will burst.
I open my eyes and rub my mouth. It tastes so dry now. My muscles are tense. My vision is blurred.
I stand up straight and push my glasses back up to the top of my nose. There is no time for doubt. This is a time for faith; those around me rely on that. Even in the event of failure, and facing an inevitable fate, it is a priest’s role to find warmth.
Death is a part of being a man. There is no reason to fear that. However the Goddess also knows life is priceless and this is her means to preserve it.
“Protect and guide the destroyers.” I say aloud again. I want to embrace its meaning. I want to trust the Goddess explicitly, she gave me everything. I’ve had no reason to ever doubt her. She has guided me well.
I slip my hands into the opposite sleeves of my robe and think. I was provided with a task without direction. Any attempts at getting another image only produce the forlorn future I desperately want to prevent.
I have to settle this as if it was any other problem, logic.
Geldbane is a proud nation, full of proud people. Likely its answer was straight forward. Where would the salvation of its people lie? What things did Gelbans have in common? I leaf through what I know.
Fire and water course through their veins. They have a penchant for placing Dragons on their heraldry, notably the Blue and Green Dragons of the north. I wonder if those dragons that have lain dormant for centuries might be the source of salvation. Stories have mentioned that they were even the personification of the land’s magic.
Perhaps the answer to the country’s salvation involved those Dragons. Surely they have no interest in everything being destroyed. It was as much their home as it was the Gelbans.
I consider for a moment the possibility that they are the aforementioned destroyers. The Goddess clearly stated it was a plural, and the context of her words did not seem to be referring to a large group of people. Likely it was a pair of people.
There was also no signs that said destroyers were people at all. They very well could have been Dragons. They also could have been something far more humble, marmots perhaps?
I shook my head. Not that humble. It was no small task to prevent the destruction of Geldbane. But they were clearly Destroyers. That was clarified. Marmots do not destroy.
But they do, I think. They are the bane of farmers. They destroy crops. Last year alone five percent of crops were at least burgled in some form or fashion. But burglary and destruction are two very different things.
“Protect and guide the destroyers.” I said the words aloud another time. That was proof enough that it was at least a sentient being, at the very least a pair of humans.
I snap my fingers in thought. It may be one human and a Dragon. One of the dragons likely planned to seek Gelban’s destruction while the other protected it. Perhaps the two dragons were keeping each other in a state of check.
No. There were no dragons in the vision. It was merely the Son’s destruction from an unknown source or power. Likely said ‘destroyers’ were tasked with stopping that power; he was to guide them…
I hardly noticed that I had made it a great distance from the city of water. The Son of the Land had started its trek towards Dendarg. His current bearing was the opposite direction, for Torgmoor.
“Perhaps I am over thinking this.” I state aloud pressing my glasses back to their proper place. “This is an issue of discovery, and if the Goddess had brought me this message now… it must mean I am close.”
Forward. That is the way I must go. The direction does not matter because every road goes somewhere. Her grace must have known this, she knew her wayward child well. I have solved all my problems by wandering. My legs know better than I do.
The simple dirt road and the blessing of the Goddess are my only traveling companions.
I shift the weight of my pack, setting my drinking cup to clatter against my leg. It’s soothing in that way. It reminds me that I am moving.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.