Wednesday, February 10, 2021

What You Missed: Trial of the Gods

By Hannah "Saryun Goldscale" Boucher

A complete account of the events at Red Water by Saryun “Ryu” Goldscale

At the behest of Captain Orion, 14 adventurers, George Tatesman, Cressida, Garen Elesgar, Saegan, Gordon Lightfoot, Rita Thunderwalker, James Swift, Griffin, Libelle Stuart, Alias, Thoril, Sir Tao ya Kant, Baron Diamond Banecroft, and myself, Ryu Goldscale, set out to look for a few scouts that had gone missing. In my mind, 14 was a bit overkill for this mission, but being as new as I was, I appreciated the chance to get to know some more seasoned adventurers. After a day of travel and searching, we spotted smoke rising above what appeared to be a small town. We hurried toward the town, hopeful that we could help in some way. It wasn't long before those hopes were dashed.

The town of Red Water was a grisly sight to behold. Signs of death and destruction occupied every corner. The only building left standing was in the center of town, a large ornate hall that appeared somehow unscathed. In it we found a large crystal pulsating with light and a single survivor named Clara. At first she mistook us for demons, but after explaining that we were adventurers from the Chimeron Militia, she eventually told us what she knew. Red Water had been the target of a group of demons that destroyed the town and murdered all the villagers. She then pleaded with us to save the village however little there was left, and used the last of her strength and the power of Chronos to open a strange portal. Out of a desire to save this town and perhaps slay some demons along the way, we all entered the portal.

Our surroundings appeared to be Red Water, but the buildings were intact, the streets were clean, and a thick menacing mist blanketed the entire town. This was no ordinary mist, however, this mist swirled and grasped at my mind, making my thoughts sluggish and my memory hazy. Even stranger were the houses, each one labeled with the name of one who was in our party like we had lived here our entire lives, or had we? It was honestly hard to remember. After exploring our new yet familiar surroundings, we all found our way back to our houses and settled in for the night. As I sat alone, I had the sinking feeling that danger lurked among every shadow and had an overwhelming urge to write down my thoughts and final wishes should I die. Young though I was, I wrote out my last will and testament. 

My sleep was anything but easy. I dreamed of another life, of demons emerging from the mists to rip me to pieces. Just before they reached me, however, a sword, jagged and broken, materialized in my hand and a glowing ankh burned away the scene. I heard a voice claiming that I had been chosen by Arius to banish the demons from Red Water. By invoking his powers of truth, I could instantly know the true identity of a person I asked him about during the night. I had no more dreams that night.

The next morning we awoke to find Clara dead. In her house we discovered her final words and a dire warning, “Beware the snake among you.” One of us was a demon. With this troubling revelation, Saegan, our chosen village elder, led us to the Trial of the Gods in order for us to debate and vote on who among us was actually a demon so we could then cast them onto the pyre and rid Red Water of their evil.

I wish I could say finding the demon was as simple as it seemed, but the demon was not the only thing we had to contend with. Fear turned us against one another and sowed mistrust between even the closest of allies. Through the course of the next few days, we uncovered some dark secrets. Griffin, the chosen of Luna, was revealed to be a Werewolf after the unfortunate death of Alias. The chosen of Dionin, Tao, poisoned several of the villagers before he was sent to the pyre. Most shockingly, though, was the discovery that our village elder, Saegan, was the chosen of the Rexan. I’m afraid that in our haste to root out the evil, we sent many innocent lives to the pyre including my friend Libelle, but with every morning bringing a new victim, there was nothing we could do but vote. 

Eventually, there were only six of us left. I’m not sure how I managed to escape death, but the vote came down between Saegan and Cressida, who claimed to be the chosen of Vesta. The vote was close, but in the end it was Cressida who was sent to the flames, but this time was different. As she spoke her final words, those remaining were shown a vision. It was a vision of Red Water before the mists came, a vision of the hard times it encountered that led to acts of violence and desperation, it was a vision of outsiders being cast into the flames, it was a vision of the origin of the Trial of the Gods developed to limit the wanton killings, it was a vision of a young demon being cared for by a woman, a vision of Aurora choosing to give a demon a chance to live among the people of Red Water by altering its form. Cressida was actually the chosen of Aurora and a demon that did not know she was a demon. As the flames died down, we heard a voice pledging it would not abandon its daughter. Suddenly, the sunlight intensified then faded and we found ourselves back in the center of town. All 14 of us, alive and well. I believe Aurora has given us a second chance. Whether we use it wisely remains to be seen.