With only the Mymrith’s clay left to acquire to grant us the ability to reignite the forge at Minderhall’s Cathedral, we set out for that point on the map, hoping that we’d beat Kuedo, and whatever friends he might have made, in getting there. We appeared to do so, finding the place sealed up tightly, which left Thorsten and I to batter the stone doorway to rubble in order to gain entry.
Inside, we were set upon by a trio of putrid stone golems that saw fit to explode the vile, worm-filled contents across the chamber upon the breaking of their shells. Revolted, I hung back from the bulk of the combat, sensing that the time for my adherence to cleanliness in the service of Apsu might be at an end.
We were, however, able to locate the clay, setting out into the valley once again on a return trip to the great cathedral. We knew that Urathash must die, the giants be disbanded, and the forge re-lit, but in service of a noble cause, this time.
Days of travel were left before us, however, when a great, winged dragon fell on us from the sky, diving in from the harsh light of the sun. Labeling us slayers of both giants and his own kind, he sought to tear my spear apart, even as my comrades and I tried to bring him down. During the brief, bloody fray, he declared that Kuedo’s intelligence had served him well, further enforcing our worries that our former ally had reported to the enemy.
My spear damaged, but unbroken, I landed a desperate attack against the dragon, Jahlvoraz, sending him to rest with his distant kin, Sermapholith, the white dragon I’d slain in vengeance for the fallen Ingrahild.
Tired and bloodied, we continued our journey to the cathedral, encountering a particularly awful giant witch and her band of trolls whom I was unable to touch directly for fear of breaking my vow of cleanliness. This was, as they say, the final straw, prompting me to have a deep moment of meditation with Apsu once the battle was won, asking to be free of my vow. In times and places such as these, a moment’s hesitation may mean my death, or the death of one of my comrades, and we have a vital mission to complete yet. With peace in my heart, I emerged from my prayer, confident that the wise Apsu understood my actions.
From there, we managed to sneak inside the outer walls of the fortress surrounding the cathedral, relying heavily on the aid of Elynnar and Thorsten’s magics. Having scaled the valley wall, we soon formulated a plan, intending to infiltrate the top tower of the cathedral from above, carried by Elynnar’s flying spells, in hopes that we might drop directly on Urathash himself, beheading the vile snake of his forces before a war might begin.
Agreed, and hoping my giant-slaying compulsion driven by the hand of Nargrym I bear would not overcome me, we took to the sky, the tower swiftly approaching through the clouds. It was then that we spotted a horrid butcher of a giant hauling a pair of humans into her tent below.
Driven to violent indignation, I led the charge downward, arriving too late to prevent the death screams that sounded from within. In a fury, I burst into the tent, ready to slaughter the vile beast, bereft of a soul!
Only to see that, over the table strewn with gore and stained red with the blood of innocents, the giant’s belly was distended in the final stages of pregnancy.
Shocked to inaction as thoughts of my sister, the nephew I never came to know, and even of young Sydney Uthra Lampwright back in Trunau assailed my mind, I was jarred back to conscious thought by Thorsten moving in to assault the giant from behind. With all of us under the effects of a magical silence, I frantically motioned for Thorsten to hold back from the killing blow. At his acquiescence, I surgically ended the giant’s life, quickly setting to work on freeing the child from within her.
It was a delicate operation, performed in the weighted silence that hung in the air, but soon a large, soundlessly-crying giant baby was in my arms. As I cleaned the blood and afterbirth from its form with my minor magics, I knew instinctively that I could not abandon this child. It is hard to explain the emotion that I felt as I looked into its contorted, infant face, but I think it was the hope I hadn’t realized I’d lost. In my time since leaving Master Hineda and Brimwill Monastery, I’d time and again reached out to those we’d fought in mercy: Ewiga, the hag who’d lost her child; Kuedo, the river giant traitor; even the orcs who’d attacked Trunau were given the chance to surrender.
But, somewhere along the way, it seems I’d lost faith. In the power of peace, in the ability of people to change, in allowing myself a moment of vulnerability…
Here, in my arms, however, there was new life, untainted by those who would have filled it with hate. Unbound by the prejudices of a world driven by fear. Unfettered by concerns of the blood that chanced to run in its veins.
It simply desired to live, and I found could not deny it.
So, above the sound objections of my companions, I let the child feed from its dead mother’s breast, beginning to fashion an over-sized child carrier to my chest from strips of the dead giant’s clothing, even fastening a pearl the brute had worn to the fabric. It belonged to the child now, after all.
No, not “the child.” Byrdverg; a name of the giant tongue I hoped she would live to bear with pride.