[Musical link while reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H95IE98jr_k&list=PLcHOKlfZ6enPoHOd9dP7Y4YGAlcCRZllI&index=15 – Atoraav’s theme, as it happens]
So many events led to this place. So many paths; taken and not taken. But I cannot… complain about this outcome. Indeed, I think… against all odds, I have genuinely achieved my goal.
I made a difference, and I’ve left the world a better place. Yet the task is only just beginning.
Our last and greatest achievement… how easily I start to say ‘our’, after a lifetime of simply ‘I’…. Our achievement was to turn back Galmathrax from the very cusp of destroying the Bulwark, that great wall between the North, and the fertile hills of Helmsland itself; and yet, I don’t even feel we can take much credit for it. Valinaarah, the Elevahn… memory, I suppose one must call her… gave Atanu the power to strike at and absorb spirits in the aether; and Sasara led us on a merry chase through her own explorations of the Paths of the Elders, and into Galmathrax’ very core.
He was possessed by a dark archon, an avatar of… the void, so he claimed. His name was Latah’Ashkar, and he was the same who had fed on the remnants of Lord Arethorelas… i tried to reason with him, and point out to him that he was not a free agent as he claimed, but it was futile, and he fought to the death. Atanu struck him down… and I confess, darkly, dear journal, that I was relieved and delighted to see that creature fall. I confess it with guilt; I’ve long, yet reluctantly, sworn to myself that everyone, everything deserves a chance to redeem itself and be redeemed.
I’ve seen the lack of forgiveness consume Leon, and culminate in Sasara’s death. I heard of it consume the new King of the Elves, Athalsamar, and lead him to madness. It consumed Crassius, the Pontifex, and led to his fall from grace. I sense within this orb that I hold, that it consumes Galmathrax; and even once consumed Arethorelas himself as well.
Kii’sha taught me that a life without joy is a life dedicated to dark pursuits, and revenge is a dark pursuit indeed, however once tries to dress it up. Vren showed me that friends, connections, are strengths that empower and not weaknesses that hold back. Atanu showed me that a life lived for a purpose is a life of fulfilment.
Arethorelas showed me that the purpose of life is to leave the world better than when we entered it. To build up and do our utmost to preserve, for time claims all far too soon, and all things – even immortals – must pass from history and be forgotten eventually.
So forgiveness is… healing. To forgive and to let go is to be freed from burdens and distractions.
I don’t… entirely know how to apply this. Morgotharn is a danger; he is wicked and can, will, destroy so much if left unchecked. To forgive cannot be to ignore or to forget or to condone.
So what is it?
I have work to do in the city of Aurumin. Research; exploration; pieces of the Lord Arethorelas lie close at hand, and every piece of him put together is a step closer to a true ally returning to the world. Perhaps I can even push for a new Pontifex to be appointed… I suspect that although Crassius is clearly disgraced, he will not leave quietly, unless Vren’s effort succeeded beyond my hopes.
No, I have only one thing I can do now. In Galmathrax’ mind, I remembered something. A message from Arethorelas… the last message he ever consciously thought.
He created the soulbeacon so that the revelation he’d had would not be lost. So it could benefit others in the unforeseeable future.
Galmathrax was another; and one who might benefit from an intimate understanding of what it truly means to be immortal. That is the key to why immortals and mortals are different, and it is what Arethorelas taught me: immortals do not have to die; so they never confront death. They never face the future. They build for themselves, and not for others; because they will ‘always’ be there while others may not.
Arethorelas understood this, at the very end; he gave his life because he could not bear to destroy everything he had made. He wanted his creations to outlive him and was willing to pay any price to do so.
Galmathrax has spent a long time living only for himself… so I gave him that thought. Arethorelas’ fragments had told me that joy was their only weapon against the encroaching darkness of Latah’Ashkar. So I asked Kii’sha to show Galmathrax what happiness really was.
When I stood up in the snow with Galmathrax fleeing in (understandable) confusion, I knew, deep in my heart, that the soulbeacon had changed. The memories I offered, had become part of Galmathrax; and it instead had filled with darker thoughts from Galmathrax; desperate, cheated, angry, vengeful.
I will need to fix this, at any cost.
Gods above, what have I done? Perhaps I’ve destroyed the best parts of Arethorelas in pursuit of a naive ideal, in the belief that maybe even Galmathrax could change and become something better.
…or perhaps we broke the darkness in Galmathrax’ thoughts, helped him realise that building something good and right could be more fulfilling than destroying and conquering.
I don’t know. Therein lies the rub.
I must go to him. I need to speak with Galmathrax; not for him, not for the future, but for myself. For selfish reasons.
I have to know what I’ve wrought. I have to know if this sacrifice – a sacrifice that wasn’t mine to make - was worth it.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if in pursuit of Arethorelas’ ideal, I destroyed him on a more fundamental level than even the Dark Archons achieved?
Wouldn’t it be glorious if I’d not… and made a creature who’s lived in the cold fury of revenge for aeons, feel the sweet release of forgiving and living for others… dying for others..?
I might not survive. In fact, regardless, I am likely not to.
But this… is worth it. My lesson, Arethorelas’ lesson, is that life means nothing unless we live for others as well as ourselves.
I cannot betray myself. So I will go to him in forgiveness, as a potential friend, and find out who Galmathrax truly is. Maybe he’ll kill me; maybe he’ll find there’s good in him after all.
Maybe someday I may even break bread with Morgotharn himself.
….no. I’m not… quite ready to contemplate that. However hard I try… the angry, resentful kobold forged in Morgotharn’s hell still rebels against the lessons I’ve learned.
But give him time, and perhaps I’ll forgive him too for abandoning so many friends and family to that monstrous fate. For doing nothing to save them in so many years. For pursuing his own goals and thinking of them only in terms of resentment… and anger at his loss. It’s probably too late for them now.
Forgiveness. Forgive even that. Hope for something more and never surrender it. Live for joy, live for others, live for a greater purpose, and never give up
Even that resentful kobold who abandoned his Clan. Forgive him, too. Maybe someday, even I’ll learn to do that.
What else is life for…?