Rise of the Runelords

The Lake of Mortal Reflections

A Hyacinth Withers

What was left of the man known as Aldern Foxglove paused, the spittle of his accusation hanging from his lips. Then he twisted and lifted up a strange and hideous thing from beside him. He lowered the carved mask over his own face, its right eye bulging and sagging, its left side draped in scarlet cloth. The face over his raised and looked at me. Then the whole construction melted.

The fool took the face I wore. He thought it mine and so he used his mask to mimic it before he lunged at me, intent on the kill. His talons tore into my chest in a burst of excruciation and I fell back. My eyes found focus on features that even now weren’t wholly familiar to me and I slipped the mask taken from the Spire over their reflection. The wood was dented and scarred with battle and its use as my shield, but its familiarity was comforting.

My violet eyes shone out from behind the holes carved for them and I met my own eyes as Foxglove lunged again. Before the pain, before I could feel my bones grow numb and stiff from the ghoul’s necromancy, I stepped away from that body and retreated back into the mists behind the world. As they closed over me, I saw the flesh fall to the earth.

Silver fog began to flash past as I lifted myself higher through the drifting ether. I briefly watched the green and gold glow which always enveloped my spirit here reflect off the plane around me and enjoyed the idea that the patterns of light held no meaning for me in this place. Swiftly, I came to the flowing river. Souls belonging to hundreds more races than lived on Golarion were pulled through the Ethereal, drawn together by a force I doubt even Pharasma truly comprehends. An angel suddenly passed, the beat of its white wings taking it along the river’s course as it shepherded the stream. The reborn looked at me, my glow intriguing it, but it was assured I meant the souls no harm and did not hesitate.

I stepped/drifted/imagined into the path of the dead. Immediately my perspective shifted and I saw that the river wound its way high above the Boneyard, spiraling around the Lady’s palace and overlooking each of the eight courts. I have seen them all before. Those around me could no more direct their movements than could a drop of water in the creek, and they would be guided to those destinations that their lives had already determined. But I have always been apart here. A fish beneath the descending skull-faced moon.

Neither the gates of the committed, nor the graves of the deniers, nor the audience chambers of the debated were my place. Slipping again from the flow I set foot upon the dust of the Graveyard of Souls. Some of those atheists lay quiet, but others whispered in their beds. Fortunately none near were walking. Where I go cannot be found by those who seek. I closed my eyes and ignored the scattered voices, focusing within until I felt the world around me change and grass again tickle my bare feet.

Here forever dwell the content, but it is not my place. Still I centered myself and a chill at last grew around me. Not the biting cold of winter or death, but the cool of a spring night by the water. Only then did I open my eyes to look across the Lake.

Nothing but the still water can be seen there. Fog rises from its surface and cloaks the land and those few who find its shores. I have once seen another approach the still mirror of its depths and look at it as I do, but they seemed to lack my fear of what lies behind the mist and turned from what they found. The thought again brings awareness of the sound behind me. Something heavy dragging behind the veil around me, always in directions away from the Lake. I have never been able to walk away. I have never tried, but would fear what I might find should I double back from here.

My feet begin the descent down the gentle slope of dewy grass until they find the strangely comforting chill of water and I again wade out. The water rises over my breasts before the hands emerge.

In pairs they break the surface without a ripple, reaching toward me, toward the light that glows around me in the water but never illuminates it. Each pair is different, but those I see are irrelevant, although I recognize the hands of Hyacinth nearby. A different pair, one I cannot see, grasps my waist. All this has happened before and will happen again, so I am not afraid as they drag me to the Brightness below.

I awake on a beach
Beneath a low cliff.
The sun
Is low on the horizon.

My hands are new,
The world the same,
And I feel
The dust I was.

The pattern is
Not yet
Complete.

I need a name.

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MysticGundam 10th_King

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