After weeks of living on trail rations, I was more than happy to eat and drink with the others. We talked and enjoyed ourselves, and eventually I went over to speak with Xaneak. He looked awful, and I told him so. I also thanked him for bringing me back, but he told me not to. I teased him by implying that it must have only been for strategy’s sake, but he wasn’t in any mood for joking and snapped that it was more than that, and I knew it. I relented, and then told him not to be so hard on himself. He said I hadn’t done anything wrong—that I had only died because of bad luck—and that if anything it should’ve been him. (He’s more willing to attack himself than I had ever been when we’d first met, some times.) I told him again not to be so hard on himself—we all make mistakes—and he said he would. Then he thanked me of all things, for worrying about him. What else are
comrades friends for?
I got up to move and get more food, and as I left told him “thank you” again, not for bringing me back but for caring in the first place; for resurrecting me for duty and friendship’s sake alike. I’m going to miss him when we win this war.
All of them.
I went to speak with Eldarian, to pass on Venyae’s message to him. (The way I figure, she let me come back to life as much as Xaneak worked to bring me back. I owed her this much.) It seemed to sober him a bit, but he thanked me nonetheless. He got up to go do something after, and then collapsed. He started seizing, and neither Kira or Haldir could do anything to help him. Seeing him laid low like that scares me, not because I think he’s weak but because I know he’s strong, and can’t even fathom the kind of power it would take to harm him like that. It seemed to take forever but eventually he did recover.
He told us that the things imprisoned in Carceri had been set loose and Nerull had been killed. Haldir gave us five minutes to gather what we needed before meeting again. I rushed to Menros and found Alice again; I wanted her with me for this, and she was willing as always to accompany me. When we reconvened Haldir told us all that we’d be going to Carceri to destroy what had been let out. He warned us that we could encounter Ditrius, and made it clear that we were not to engage it under any circumstances.
We traveled to Carceri, were the plane was in chaos and there were seven monstrous creatures awaiting us. One of them I recognized as an infernal, from the last great battle I fought in the Second Unification War. I remembered it was able to eat magic, so I decided to go after it and leave the others to everyone else, who were mostly more magically inclined. Feyren helped and between her, Alice, and myself, we eventually killed it. (I often do my best work with a strong melee partner, and Feyren and I make a good team~ Alice could have helped more if it wasn’t flying.) It felt good to kill it, considering the last time I had been so desperate to do so I’d been willing to give my own life. It says something about how far I’ve come and how much I’ve improved that the battle was hard, but not nearly impossible this time around.
The other monsters were felled by the rest of the Legion, without any casualties. However, it was then that Ditrius appeared. I don’t have words to describe its evil or the skills to draw its form; even if I did I wouldn’t want to. I think I’d begin to vomit again even trying—seeing it was so bad I and many others in the Legion fell to our knees and emptied our stomachs repeatedly, and those who didn’t were still clearly shaken. The only ones who weren’t were Bazrik, Haldir, Kira, and Eldarian. He stepped forward and tried to push Ditrius back, and met his strength for a long time. In the end he was pushed back, and thrown into another seizure.
Ditrius said that Eldarian’s mortality is a weakness; that his attachments and emotions hinder him. (Even if it is true—and I doubt it is—I’ll need to hear it from something other than the source of all evil in creation before I believe it.) Then I saw what I’d hoped I’d never see. It was as if the vision Malthos had played out before me was coming to life, and for a moment I wondered if what I was seeing wasn’t just an illusion, an attempt to demoralize us at a critical moment. But it was too real to be anything but true, and if I’d had anything left in my gut I would’ve retched again. All the dark elves of Orómmen killed themselves to open a portal from the Abyss to Arda, and hordes of demons swarmed out.
Haldir immediately tried to bring us to Arda, but he couldn’t. Then Eldarian tried, with the same results. I asked if there might be something blocking them, and then Nerull showed up; he wasn’t
dea destroyed after all. We need to win this fight quickly, and then we need to get to Arda. I will not let it be destroyed by Ditrius’s forces, and I know the others won’t either.