Chapter 40: The Monastery and the Crystals are Saved
I fall as brown leaves,
Yet am lifted up again --
The truth is out there.
~ Miyara Miwa
I awoke with Ravena bending over me, a familiar sight by now. Since she was alive, I assumed we had miraculously defeated the army of orcs. Her eyes glowed whitely, and I eventually realized the breeze I felt came from her, rather than from the air itself. Both were obviously effects from the crystal she carried and had used. Ravena moved around the monastery for several days, caring for the wounded, saying very little. The unearthly breeze faded later the first day, but the glow faded from her eyes only after several days.
Once healed, I scouted out the monastery to see what damage it had taken. The monastery itself had been ransacked by orcs, but not in a truly meaningful way. They had just run about randomly taking and destroying things before being vanquished. Of course, the entire side was damaged badly where the wall had collapsed, and the gate needed reworking as well. And, I discovered later, there was a new "entrance" at the base of the mountain that would also need sealing off. All the guards but Scar had died honorably in defense of the monastery. A few monks had been killed early in the battle by the goblins, and a few more had been injured, but the vast majority of the monks were in fine condition.
Jeisan Featherhand also died a hero, bravely defending the monastery from a spirit of earth. He had apparently weakened it so much that it did almost no damage, collapsing right after Jeisan himself had. We honored him at his burial and placed his body in a tomb here. I placed a paper feather upon his chest and will say prayers for him.
I also heard the story of the end of the battle from Hosei. After my collapse, he, Ravena, and Caramela, with the aid of fire and air spirits, went down to the base of the mountain to find the orc mage, as we had planned. They did find him, battled him, and finally killed him. Upon his death, the entire army panicked and fled. My cousin and the White Faerie were found unconscious, where they had fallen against the orcs and the same earth spirit that killed Jeisan. Ashe also was found still alive at the base of the stairs in the middle building.
Truly, they were all heroes. All but me, who had fainted after a small fight with a few goblins and orcs. I contributed nothing, and failed those who relied upon me. Yet I can do nothing to atone, because I must complete Godanji's quest. That task is more important than my miserable self. The barbarians will think nothing of my failure, but I fear I must have lost my cousin's esteem forever.
We remained at the monastery for some days afterwards, recovering, and discussing our next steps, and the coming winter. I did what I could to aid Scar in planning new defenses, and both the White Faerie and Ashe helped greatly in building and repairing. Scar treated us all with great respect. At first, the monks were in shock over the state of their beloved monastery. They had interpreted the prophecies as a promise that all would be well, and the damage surprised them. However, as they bustled about cleaning everything, they regained their wits and held us in even higher awe than they had before. The nine of us had defeated a very large army of orcs and goblins, and the damage was all repairable.
The Roostmaster, on the other hand, seemed completely oblivious to what had happened. As often happens with the aged, he has a tenuous hold on reality. Still, he is respected and loved by the monks he rules, as he should be. He was annoyed with the mess, and urged his monks to clean the place up.
I had felt that the Flagmaster had not completely believed the prophecy, and regarded us with some suspicion in the days before the battle while we rushed around aimlessly, poking into private places, and collecting cards. However, he is now a true believer and is very welcoming to us.
Hosei asked one of the monks for some research into the stones, and I asked after the statue. Nothing about the statue was discovered. But one evening, Hosei called us all together and related a story the researcher had discovered. The people from the first group recognized some parts of the story, which tied together what we knew.
A few years ago, a trade caravan was travelling along the road at the base the of the mountain. The caravan was attacked by orcs, and the few survivors continued their way, looking for shelter. They reached a small farming village along the river. A rough stone wall protected the few stone buildings inside. The farmers, bringing in their animals for the night, welcomed the travellers. They also knew about the orcs marauding in the area. They all had dinner in the great hall, a circular stone building in the middle big enough to hold everyone. The village leader, Mother Katarina, said a blessing over the food. As they ate, news was passed, but the villagers seemed not to know anything that had passed in the previous hundred years.
When dinner was finished, one of the village youths ran into the hall, saying there was someone at the gate. Everyone rushed out to see, wondering if the orcs were there. However, they saw a young dwarf, tired and bloody. He said his name was Ganaroku and he had been travelling from the south for the past six days, paralleling the trade road but staying off it. He was attacked by orcs, whom he fought off. The villagers fed him, and he ate as thought he had eaten nothing in the previous six days. While he ate, Mother Katarina told the story of the founding of the village by farmers who had been forced off their land by a greedy landlord. Other common tales were told as well, and the merchants told stories in their turn. When Ganaroku finished his dinner, he told his story.
"I don't know what the stones are, only what I've heard from the others. We Dwarfs made them thousands of years ago, four of them, here in the Yetzin Valley. Some called them Doom Stones. I don't know why, or whose doom, or what they were for, because they say the records of those times are lost. But whatever they were made for, it can't have been a good thing, because them as made them decided to split them up so they could never be joined. Mayhap they were too powerful, too strong. But one went north, one stayed here, one was given to the Elves -- who lost it," he spat on the floor, "and I don't know about the fourth.
"But the stones as went away know their way home. Years ago, some engineers brought one of the stones to Loremaster Hadarin. They'd had it from a human bandit, who'd had it off the Elves.
"Weeks back, Hadarin saw that another of the stones was coming back here, and he knew it was with the Bloodaxe Alliance. He'd been learning all he could about the stones, but if the old Dwarfs thought it was best that the stones be apart, then Hadarin wasn't going to say he knew better. Two in the valley was bad enough; three would be worse, and three stones held by Bloodaxe Orcs -- Hadarin would stop that, or die trying.
"The leaders disagreed. They'd never studied the stones like Hadarin had. So Hadarin gave one stone to a mage he trusted, Yazeran, and took his books and his followers, and his son, and left. Even if the Orcs got the stones, he reckoned, without the learning he had, they'd not know how to use them.
"But the Orcs were cunning, and found him. He and his followers fought hard, but were beaten back into some caves, where the Orcs laid siege to them. So he sent out a messenger, his son, to find the mage and get his help. Because the stones must not fall to the Orcs."
He paused. "Before the messenger left, Hadarin told him that the books said there was a prophecy that only humans, Elves, and Dwarfs together could stop the Orcs getting the stones, and save the valley. That it was their destiny." There was a silence. He looked around awkwardly, and after a moment said, "The messenger is me. Ganaroku, son of Hadarin. I ask your protection and help in rescuing the stones from Chaos."
He was silent again. The silence persisted. Finally Mother Katarina rose." We are farmers," she said, "but we pledge you our help. Tomorrow, who will go north with Ganaroku?"
A few villagers and merchants agreed to accompany Ganaroku, and they all slept for the night. The next morning, the merchants awoke to sunlight in the very old ruins of a village. They reached the monastery later that day, where they told this story to the monks, who wrote it up and placed it in their library. The merchants learned from the monks that orcs had attacked and destroyed the village a hundred years ago, before Yazeran had arrived to build the monastery.
The first group had found Hadarin's corpse in the caves, and also Ganaroku's body and what he carried. They had heard of Yazeran as well, and guessed that he had the crystal. But it was not until the visitation of the Blue Faerie in their fire and out subsequent arrival in Iri that where Yazeran had gone became clear.
We have two of the four crystals that the faeries created long ago. We know where a third lies, and the White Faerie has his instructions on how we should reclaim it. We know nothing about the fourth.
It appears that it is our destiny to locate and collect these crystals, to save them from the hands of the orcs. But then what? Do we destroy them? Can we? Although I dislike being turned from my personal business, I believe this quest is more important. I do not know why the spirits led me here, but I must go on with these barbarians and lead them to the four crystals. Perhaps once we have them all, all will be clear and we will know what we then must do. Then I can continue my quest to restore my and my family's honor.