If the Tuls hadn’t given me Pelor’s light to fall on, if they hadn’t taught me that his warmth shines even on your darkest moments, I’d probably still be at the entrance of that collapsed cave digging. Every step we took away from Teo felt like a betrayal and the only thing I could do to keep myself from unraveling was to retreat into myself the way I used to in hell every time Father came home.
That’s why I almost didn’t catch the presence of evil until it was too late. Brink had just gone outside after trading stones with Rylo and was talking to his mother when Bane appeared in the winter storm with several demons by his side.
How he found out we had recovered the red and white fire stone is still a complete mystery but what transpired next is something none of the group likes to talk about to this day.
It was a bloodbath.
Everywhere I turned, one of my friends was either bleeding or completely knocked out and still the demons came, trampling into the little cave we had chosen to haul up in while we figured out our next move.
We gave it everything we had but Bane got away with the stone we had sacrificed Teo to retrieve. We barely survived with our lives. Beaten, bloody and completely exhausted, we felt we had no options until Wes said he could get us back to the cave without much trouble.
We followed him in the blackness of night, the white snow pouring down hard on our broken bodies. Sometimes, it was so dark all I could see was a flicker of purple light that Wes let out so we could follow him. We walked until our feet gave out.
Finally, the tower came back into view, our new home away from home.
But our relief was short lived. For as soon as we got into the tower, we knew we had to figure out our next move. Lainie had been communicating with the stones before one was ripped from us and felt we needed to get to some type of giant turtle. We were all ready to go there until I was paid a surprise visit by my father.
He told me that if I could get the other stone to him within a week, he would release one of my family members. The one that would help us the most...Teo.
Lainie and I figured out that the Teo I’d been mourning wasn’t actually the correct one. Our Teo had been stuck in hell right next to his parents and we had to get him out. As much as I knew we shouldn’t we agreed to the trade. Making a deal with a Demon Lord is never a good idea, I knew that. But I was so blinded by the idea that I’d get Teo back that it didn’t matter.
So we did the unthinkable. We asked the group for the stone and met Father at the appointed place. A portal opened up and even though I was staring into hell, the place I’d run from seven years ago, my heart leapt as Teo stumbled out of it. Even as Bane laughed at us, even as we handed over the stone so Teo would have been killed instantly, I was so happy to see him, my heart felt like it would explode with Pelor’s light.
For the first time, maybe ever, it turns out that Father lost more than he gave. Because while Teo stepped out of the portal and Father thought he won, two others came with Teo. Two we didn’t even know were part of the bargain. As the portal to hell was closing, the figures ran for us, desperate to escape the place they had only been for two weeks. Out came Ari and Caiman, filled with as many questions as answers.
Our party now restored to its fullest, there is a chance we can win. We’re heading to some kind of turtle island next but for the first time in a long time, I feel a little glimmer of hope shining in my gut. Because if Father didn’t know about Caiman and Ari, there are other things he can’t foresee. My job will be to find out what they are and use them until I get close enough to end the suffering he’s caused the world.
But that part of my story is still unwritten.
May Pelor stay with you,