Title: Searing Light
I apologize in advance for how dry the last third is, however given that it’s an internal monologue from an overly analytic character with a 24 intelligence, I figured it worked.
Entares fell back hard, sliding across the stone floor to come to a stop as a smoking bundle of groaning robes. Heads poked out from inside the room wondering what the noise was, while a concerned looking vampire considered the singed wizard’s situation. A few meters away a man leaned against a stone wall with a slightly amused look in his eye, tallying up the situation. His amused look changed methodically to understanding and scientific concern.
“You see the trouble I’ve been having.” Hathroc gave the slightest of gestures to the door. Entares looked up, not sure if he was being comforted or mocked, and so decided to dismiss the comment entirely. Hathroc said a few more things Entares barely cared to listen to and then made his excuses to retire and left.
It hadn’t been that powerful a spell, really only a warning to most, but the shock of being rejected had magnified the pain and intensity of the discharge. Entares began composing himself and slowly with great effort rose to his feet as he considered what he had learnt.
The spell itself was likely no more than a searing light or a scorching ray attuned to be released upon those of undesired backgrounds or beliefs. Yet Entares could not see any difference, apart from the draconic blood, between himself and the rest of the party. Surely just being of draconic descent didn’t mean one lacked a noble spirit. Dragons in many of Entares’ history book had done extremely noble things. Legends said that silver and gold dragons were paragons of good and honour, fighting alongside the mightiest of Argyle’s heroes. Perhaps the creators of this ward had an aversion to dragons. That seemed unlikely and without evidence to struck Entares as a rather vain conclusion.
Even while leaning against the wall it occurred to Entares how weak he felt. It also suddenly occurred to Entares that there was a vampire still standing over him, with that same odd look of concern in his eyes.
“Bret?” Entares said quietly but firmly.
“Yea?” Bret blinked twice due to some long dead habit and came back to his awkwardly charming self, “Quite the fall you had there. Course if I had done it, I think I might of only stepped back. Don’t think I could have pulled off that whole over-acting thing as well as you did. But course, that’s your style isn’t it. Brilliant thing that. “
“Bret?” Entares interrupted the one sided dialogue.
“Could you get me a chair by chance? Since I’m not able to join my friends.”
“Oh! Yeah, sure. Be back in a jiff.” Bret meandered away in only the way that both Bret and Jermaine seemed to have the ability to do, with complete style but without purpose. About half way down the hall Bret turned into a puff of cloud and wisped through the darkness in search of a chair.
Entares shook his head, unsure if he preferred the night of Talib’s day to this. At least those undead acted like undead. Something about undead campaigning for leadership and protecting a town just weirded out Entares. Of course, it was very intelligent in its own way; using undead to both protect a town and give the illusion of democratic freedom. Sinister, but intelligent.
The sudden sound of loud snoring came from inside the room. Entares pushed himself off the wall he was leaning on and limped over to the doorway, being careful not to get too close. He could hear several people snoring and the sound of someone shuffling around.
Entares called in, “What have you found?”
It was Ling’s voice that came back, “Nothing yet, but I’m still looking.”
“Let me know if you need any help. I can’t come in but I’m happy to give advice if you encounter anything strange.” Entares looked over his shoulder at the sound of a door opening down the hallway. Bret had returned.
“Chair delivery! Fee’d usually be 4 coppers, but, bugger all, business hours are over, so looks like this one’s free. Sun’s about to come up and Jermaine’ll be wondering where I am. Cheers”
“Thanks for the chair.” Entares called as Bret sauntered on his way, murmuring some off tune ditty about a racist dragon.
Entares position the chair a few feet back from the infirmary door and sat down, happy to rest.
“Entares, I found a talking lock…” Ling called out.
Never a dull moment, thought Entares, and he began working with Ling to work out another mystery.
Overall, the endeavour only took another half hour or so. Entares realized he knew very little of Ling’s skills and was impressed by how easily she navigated what sounded like a fairly powerful arcane lock spell. Eventually after hearing her argue with a voice, poke around with small tools and eventually pop the enchanted lock, Ling had proven successful and came out with a box of medical supplies. Entares commended Ling on her work and suggested she get some sleep with everyone else. Ling seemed only too happy to agree and off she went to indulge in the forbidden healing magic.
Entares only had to wait a moment before Ling’s gentle snores joined the choir, and only another moment before his own mind went back to his inability to participate in their slumbering gospel.
Entares reconsidered the words on the inscription and try to break down the jargon and rhetoric. It was clear that at the heart of things the room was meant only for those who were good aligned, keeping the evil and corrupt at bay. Entares had always believed himself to be a good person, yet he did not satisfy the requirements. It was unfortunate that Fletcher was not around, Entares was curious to see how the warding would judge the spider… and Fletcher at that rate! Still, given the information at hand, Entares believed that the warding must require those with good essences.
Entares decided the best idea was to assume this was true and move forward. Why was he not considered a good person. Entares knew how important to was to serve the town and how important it was to protect the common good. Entares chose his skills and almost all of his actions based on these ideals. Surely this selflessness was considered a good trait.
Entares listened to himself think, a skill that seemed only to have found him since his transformation. It was quite ironic to hear the word selflessness in such a self-reflective train of thought. The small bit of humour broke his thought pattern and revealed something much more important.
Why do I care? Entares understood that the ability to access this room would be useful, but it was unrealistic for him to reorganize his beliefs for a single static room. Especially in a place that they had already agreed was not likely a place they were coming back to once they moved on. Clearly the overall concept of good had some value for Entares, but why? And where did that value originate?
Entares thought of all the tales, legends and histories he knew of Argyle. They were spotty, given his accidental kind of access to historical texts, and often he had to guess as to what was written by first hand observers versus what was written by those clearly trying to change history for their own purposes. Some texts were the retelling of bards who, Entares was horrified to find, had altered events to make them more entertaining. It took Entares a good three hours of solemn thought, accompanied only by the various noises made by those who slept before he finally came to a conclusion. One that surprised him.
Good and evil are ancillary forces, no longer meant to be the main guiding factors of individuals in society. Where once good was a positive ideal that held together people of opposing views and cultures, it has become a virtue that ought to be desired but not held intrinsically valuable. A people overly concerned with the good were likely to be unable to make the choices necessary to ensure survival.
Similarly, evil had once been a destructive force that corrupted and decayed the fabric of a group. Now it is what reigns over the land, maintaining the order of those who stand against the rightful denizens of the world. Evil has become so prevalent that it has lost the mighty significance it once had. Of course, Evil is to be avoided because it deters from order but it had been associated with many acts only by the decree of the gods who abandoned the plane.
It is now Law and Chaos which fight on the forefront of our reality. The evil that exists seeks to annihilate our order and disassemble our survival, pushing us into a self-destructive spiral of chaos that will lead to our extinction. We cannot live aside them, nor can we defeat them without working together, thus we are forced to one conclusion. To bring order to ourselves, stretch that order over the land until we have become the dominant imperative. Then when we are strong, and they weak, we can focus on bring about the good to completely vanquish them from our world. Until then, the concepts of good and evil ought to only be considered in terms of what will bring order or help to delve us into chaos.
To harm each other needlessly cannot help us to work together, and ought to be avoided. While helping and caring for one another will strengthen our order and create trust and kinship. Undoubtedly this shift in ideals will require a greater amount of processing to consider all consequences of an action, but the effort is clearly warranted.
Entares suddenly realized he was no longer sitting, but instead was standing rigid, his hands clasped together in front of his chest and his eyes fixed on a point directly in front of himself. Entares had not meant to enter a formal meditation and worried how defenseless he might have been if someone had come upon him. Entares would feel much better when Aduin returned.
Entares relaxed, rubbed his lower back and sat down again, looking at the doorway where his companions slept. The wards bothered him less. It was good that the rest of the group were considered good. They would act as a good auditors towards Entares’ new point of view. If something bothered them, it was likely to bother the town. Entares made a mental note to consider everything they brought forward.
Entares decided it was time for him to get some rest, it would still be a long time before the rest of the party would awake, but he was certain they would be wanting to start moving again.