June 2, 795 TR
Rhisiart, what are we going to do? Cassandra thought frantically as the crowd surged towards her. These people may be misguided, but they're ultimately innocent. That priest's controlling them, isn't he? We can't do them any harm.
I know. Attack them anyway. Light blows.
There's no time to explain! TRUST ME!
Using a minimal amount of force, Cassandra swung her sword through the mob, striking each member lightly. As the blade made contact, the red glow appeared in their eyes again, then faded; and each person fell unconscious to the earth thereafter. Finally, their bloodlust was wholly negated, and the fighter marched towards the temple arch - and the fallen priest Midhir who still stood before it, frozen in shock, though all his allies had fled.
Cassandra grabbed the elven cleric by the collar and pulled him into the temple with her. Then, with a fierce kick, she closed the main door behind her.
"Rhisiart," she said gruffly, "your turn."
The golden glow surrounded the fighter once again, and her appearance shifted and melted into Rhisiart's visage. Midhir began to shake.
"L-L-Lord Moonwalker! I thought you were dead!" he cried.
"In a sense, I am. I was forced to dispose of my body some years ago. Now my essence is held within the sword of my niece, Cassandra d'Riveroak."
"The young princess lives as well? And - she's that fighter who disrupted my service? But she was an infant when you vanished, and that was mere months ago!"
"A vast amount of time has passed in the multiverse beyond Phaema. None of this is your concern. I want you to tell me who this 'Hecate' is and why she's preparing for an invasion of Dantimos."
"Y-you have to understand, milord, that when you vanished, New Avalon was thrown into chaos. A few weeks after the disappearance of House d'Riveroak, this apparently young but intensely powerful noblewoman appeared and claimed Gaea was responsible for all our problems. I had returned to Riveroak, seeking you, and heard her message. After the death of my wife and child - and the loss of my powers - "
"I know. You had already turned your back on Gaea, for you felt she had forsaken you. Continue."
"Anyway, I asked to join her crusade and was appointed to the office of High Priest. Milady Hecate refused to stay in Riveroak, instead establishing a new stronghold in Eastergate. I was to remain here and coordinate our efforts to dominate New Avalon - in which task I succeeded - and later Dantimos. Apparently worshippers give her mystical power in addition to temporal might, so she wants as many as she can lay claim to."
"And the people of New Avalon willingly abandoned Gaea?"
Midhir smiled coldly. "Can you honestly say that any of us have free will anyway?"
"I'm disappointed in you, Midhir. You of all people should have realized that faith is not easy, and Gaea works in mysterious ways for mysterious purposes. You should not have abandoned your principles so easily."
"What purpose could possibly be served by killing an innocent woman and an unborn child! What purpose was served through the removal of my powers! Answer me that, you self-righteous son of a - "
"I see that you are not interested in repentance. Based on today's events, I also know that, if I allow you to go in peace without punishment, you will simply cause greater sorrow. I know not the source of your new powers, Midhir - but such knowledge is not necessary."
"No! Not again!" But a blue-white glow had already begun to surround the elf, and it grew in intensity until its light was almost blinding. Then it seemed to sink into the priest's very flesh, until all that was left was a faint bluish cast to his complexion. The elven cleric shouted several words in an arcane tongue, then doubled over in apparent pain.
"I have cut you off from any and all sources of mystic power. No one can grant you such abilities now without first undoing my enchantment - which would cause you great pain and possibly prove fatal. I'd suggest you don't attempt to free yourself. I would also suggest that you leave New Avalon, and spread word to the effect that anyone who does not want a drastic change in their life should do the same. Farewell, Midhir. I doubt we shall meet again." With that, Rhisiart walked out of the temple, his form shifting back into Cassandra's. The golden glow surrounded her body briefly before being absorbed into her blade.
"What are you planning, Rhisiart?" she asked softly.
I'd rather not say until I've decided whether or not to do it. Suffice to say I've used the solution I'm considering before, and I suspect I may have to do so again. Cassandra, we may not end up going to KAAT'N or any other guildhall or stronghold on the continent. The future is not yet set in stone, but it seems likely that others will have to save Phaema in our stead, if it truly is dying. We have a different quest ahead of us - and the next stage of that adventure awaits us in Eastergate.
"To Eastergate, then."
And one more thing - we must hurry. I believe I once told you how, over the course of a few days, Phaema's natural forces drained a great deal of the power I possessed before arriving here? This cannot be allowed to happen before we conclude our business in the east...
I dunno where you're headed with this, but this whole place is gonna cease to exist in a week or so. When Jake and I finish our last story here (I approximate 5-6 more posts) I'm gonna archive all of this stuff, send him a copy and delete this mill.
My sentiments exactly.
One last post (this week, probably tomorrow - July 17th) and I'm done.