Trinity/The Dreams of Cathal Dubhaine
- 1 The Pits of Oritolon
- 2 Following the Raid on Windaria
- 3 The Fall of Irdalni
- 4 The Treachery of Denarien
- 5 The Temple of Man
- 6 The Flesh Incorruptible
- 7 The Champion's Walk
The following are compiled from the personal journals of Cathal Dubhaine, Duke of Alowca.
Sir Cathal, a Knight of seventeen summers, is captured in battle and imprisoned in the dungeons of Oritolon. Whilst there he experiences strange dreams causing him to confront King Spearhead Reapers in a series of letters, calling the barbarian ruler to account for his crimes and thrice extending the hand of peace. Each letter is mocked by the prideful monarch, culminating in a fourth vision which is shared by many both rich and poor alike.
During his imprisonment he also performs the first of his miracles, healing the gaoler Galro of his leprosy
The Call to Arms
Cathal tossed and turned on the filthy pallet, his sleep disturbed by vivid memories from his childhood in distant Cagil. Visions of his mother Siobhan in her flowing yellow gown, the summer light amidst the geren blooms of late autumn.
"Cathal," her voice was lighter, more melodious than he remembered. The sweet call of the horn on the field of battle.
"Cathal. Awake," A shifting pattern of red streaks moved across the surface of the gown as if gifted with an inner life and the soft eyes of his memories had taken on a sharp, bright, terrifying aspect.
"Cathal Dubhaine, Knight of Alowca. AWAKE!!!"
He stared into the darkness of the prison cell, his body involuntarily shivering with fright.
"You have been called to my service Cathal," the voice filled the darkness, at once both terrifying and comforting.
"W-w-who are you?" the young nobleman stammered for words, his tongue cleaving to his dry palate.
"I am The Way."
Cathal sat dumbstruck, consumed with fear as the darkness closed in all around him. He had travelled to the Colonies imagining a life of bold adventure, only to be captured in his first ever battle and cast into this accursed pit.
"I... I... I..." he could not form the words.
"Look within and find the courage you seek, for none who follow me shall ever fear."
And Cathal felt fire coursing in his blood as fear gave way to hope, and hope to faith. The darkness that had shrouded his eyes was lifted and he saw the fertile plains and dry valleys of Alowca laid out before him, armies moving like pieces on a chess board, and by his side stood the possessor of The Voice. Denariel herself, in all her raiment of war. Darkness flowed from the west and the north, black as night and howling with the tongues of beasts.
"Do you understand?"
"No. What would you have me do?" he was shocked at his own boldness in addressing her so directly, by try as he might he could find no shred of fear within his spirit. It was as if she had filled him with but a mote of her glory and in so doing changed him utterly.
"Use this gift wisely Cathal, for you will need it in the time of trials. Now sleep," and the dream receded, returning him to his slumber.
The Measure of Justice
Cathal slumbered as one safe in the arms of their sweetheart, remembering the mighty spires of distant Cagil. He longed for the city of his youth with her many gay pennants and soaring buttresses, the capital of the brightest Empire in all the world. And yet her beauty was but a pale shadow of the shining temple-city of Alowca with her shrines and votaries, her peace-loving citizens worshipping the triple power beyond all mortal comprehension.
"Cathal," a measured voice seemed to hang across the streets of his adopted home, and he found his feet furiously running towards it.
"Cathal. Awake," there was wisdom in that voice, weary with the knowledge of evil unfathomed and yet merciful. The voice of one who judges without prejudice.
"Who calls my name so?" once more Cathal was shocked by his own courage.
"Cathal Dubhaine. AWAKE!"
The young knight opened his eyes and saw spread beneath him the bay of Oritolon, her jet walls rising towards the heavens, her turrets crooked fangs belching smoke-stained venom at the silent stars. Before him hung a balance, it's laden arm tipped down towards that hellish pit, overspilling with the anguished dead.
"The judgement will be made," the sadness of that voice filled Cathal's heart with pity for those who had sinned so against the truth.
"Can none be saved?" he watched plaintive children writhing in the pan of that mighty scale, too young surely to have sinned against the Gods?
"Use this gift wisely," and Cathal once more slipped into slumber. But where before his heart had known anger at the wrongs of those who sinned, now he felt only mercy and the desire to bring the truth to those who lived in darkness.
The Bearer of The Truth
And in his cell Cathal lay in a deep slumber. He was becalmed in nothingness: neither darkness nor light; neither life nor unlife. He stood in the void and in all directions there was nothing. His mind raced to find a point of reference.
"Cathal," a voice called to him, deep as the deepest oceans yet light as the cool night sky. He looked about him for some trace of the speaker, but there was none. The void continued undiminished for all eternity.
"Who are you? Where am I?" his mind raced, trying to make sense of the emptiness.
"Cathal Dubhaine. AWAKE!" he was flying across the vast expanse of ocean and before him the rim of the world burned bright with the approaching dawn. Above the stars followed their appointed courses, each in harmony with her fellows. All save for the moon's bright disc which wandered erratically, a light in the receding darkness.
"This is the world I have given all mankind, that they might live in the glory of my creation and give freely one unto the other the blessings of peace and love and prosperity," the air seemed to quiver with joy. "But mankind has turned from My wisdom and cast darkness and sorrow across her gentle face."
Cathal was now sweeping lower, down across the Colonies, rushing from the north towards long-enslaved Portion and the gates of Lukon. A blackness clung to the hills and valleys, it's dark tendrils holding the righteous in torment, and the smoke from its armouries polluted the night.
"Even amongst equals there must always be those who seek to burn the brightest, just as the moon vainly outshines her sisters. But night must always give way to day, for thus have I appointed it," and the false dawn erupted in the splendour of the rising sun, laying bare the pits and stratagems of The Enemy, the whole pride enslaving all who stood before it.
"You are the light that must burn eternal else all shall know the torment of undeath never-ending. The Lie of Lukon shall be no more."
"But I am but one man. What can I do?"
"Use this gift wisely."
A shining figure stood on the parapet of Oritolon's highest tower, dressed in a yellow gown streaked with tears of blooded, her arms outstretched in friendship, her voice alive with hope and courage, and none who saw her knew how she came to that high place. A crowd gathering in the streets below squinted to make out her face, shifting strangely against the noonday sun, but their eyes betrayed them.
"People of Oritolon. Forsake your wicked ways and embrace your brethren. Your hearts have been filled with bitterness by one who loves you not, and he would cast you into the eternal damnation of the grave that his power be unquenched."
"Thrice now have I sent my messenger before the apostate who styles himself Sir Spearhead Reapers, and thrice have I offered him the love and protection of His Creator. Each time he has sat in stony silence, his eyes clouded with the darkness that rots his wicked heart, nursing the hate which fills his vile belly."
"Who is this mote of dust that he dares raise arms against all creation? That he dares drive women and children from their homes? That he despoils the bounty which Khagistar in his infinite mercy has showered upon both righteous and sinner without let or reserve?"
"Thrice has he spurned the call, and thrice shall he be spurned ere his stinking corruption be laid in eternal torment. The choicest morsel shall become ash at his touch; the sweetest wine become vitriol; the freshest breeze will burn with brimstone. He shall be named Reapers the Thrice Cursed, Reapers of the Hollow Heart, Reapers the Unhallowed and all who follow him shall be as nothing before the judgement of Alluran."
"All men shall turn their face at his passing and the gallows tree shall deny him passage, for he shall be accounted amongst the unliving and all which comes from Khagistar shall yet be denied him!"
"Thus is the judgement of Alluran and the writ of his ban shall be eternal!"
The figure made as if to step from the tower, and each below expected that she should fall to her death, yet where but moments before had stood a woman now there swung a scale of spectral aspect and in the balance the arms of Oritolon lay heavy on the boom.
"REPENT!" boomed a voice from on high, and the towers of the city shuddered, her courtyards groaned, her massive harbour foamed and all who heard that voice quaked in fear.
And by some trick of perspective the throne of Oritolon was bared to you, and upon it sat a stinking corpse, corrupt and bloated in his vanity, bedecked as an Emperor in murine rags and grinning at his blasphemy. Too far lost in dreams of power to hear the doom pronounced upon him.
Sir Cathal and his company march into Windaria as part of the Alowcan United Front, their goal to split Oritolon forces massing on the borders of Alebad. The first battle goes well, but the second battle sees the Alowcan forces heavily outnumbered and Sir Cathal's men are butchered to the last. After the battle he lies in a deep slumber, his body wracked with wounds, and receives another dream in which he is judged.
Recovered from his wounds he reflects on his dreams to date and from them derives knowledge of The Faith Militant.
"Cathal..." the Thunder shook his body.
"Cathal Dubhaine..." the lightning smote his breastplate, scorching him with holy fire.
"Cathal Dubhaine awake!"
He stood before a throne, and on that throne sat a brilliant light. At the left hand stood a man and in his hand was a balance, careening wildly this way and that, and to the right stood a dark-haired maiden weeping tears of blood which stained her yellow gown.
"You have been called to judgement Cathal. Is your heart pure?"
"My heart is black with hatred for those who slew my companions" he fell to his face, consumed with shame.
"Approach and know your doom Cathal Dubhaine," and he felt his body moving of its own volition, dragging him towards that awful glory. "You will travel back to My Temple in Alowca and there you will dedicate yourself to My service. From thence you will spread My words of Love and Peace that all men may be saved from Undeath."
"But My Lord," he found himself speak in spite of himself, "How can Love and Peace prevail in the face of so much evil?"
"Have you forgotten the things which We revealed to you in your imprisonment? Evil shall be utterly overthrown by My Hand, not by the swords of man. This is your appointed task Cathal Dubhaine, to preach My Holy Word that all may choose freely which path they tread, and thus the wicked be winnowed from the righteous."
As his sister Aoifa leads the Knights Templar in a desperate assault on the Oritolon encampment in Irdalni, Duke Cathal seeks insight in the Temple vault in Alowca.
"Cathal," a woman stood before him in the shadows, the outline of her body limned with a delicate yellow radiance.
"Cathal Dubhaine, arise. Your doom is upon you."
"Who are you?" Cathal's voice sounded sharp and harsh.
"Do you not recognise me?" the room was of a sudden filled with midsummer light, revealing a woman dressed in flowing yellow streaked with red tears of blood.
"My Lady!" his heart pounded in his throat as he gazed upon the Goddess in all her glory.
"The darkness must give way to the light," and once more he found himself looking down upon the lands of the south, watching the heathen armies streaming across the land like black storm clouds, levelling all in their path. Those who stood against them were utterly overthrown, whilst those who sought safety within their citadels starved and raved and bemoaned the fate which had dealt them such misery.
"Do you understand?"
"I understand," and his heart was filled with foreboding, for he knew his death must surely be upon him.
A few days earlier Gravitas Martius, former Pontifex of Alowca, had been slain in a duel by the apostate Denarien. The death was swiftly avenged by Cathal's sister Aoifa and arrangements made with the government of Oritolon to have Gravitas buried in the land of his birth.
Cathal knelt in the ruins of the Commandary Chapel, wrapped in the cool crisp shadows which haunted its ruined cloisters. With his pale complexion and scarred body the young Duke looked strangely at home in this forsaken place as he sought to understand the hatred which Denarien had unleashed.
"It is ever the way with those who love power," a man's voice echoed amongst the stones as the moon shot spears of pale white light between the dead branches of the neighbouring orchard, casting the shadow of cracked stained glass across the half-collapsed mass of the altar.
"Who's there?" Cathal's eyes were momentarily blinded.
"This is not the first time we've spoken Cathal," the voice was deep and rich, heavy with wisdom.
"Arise Cathal and walk with me," and Cathal found himself in the cloister on a bright summer's day, standing in the company of a sombrely dressed man whom he instinctively knew to be the Merciful Judge.
There were sounds of a commotion at the Commandary gates and the pair walked towards it, arriving just in time to see a small band of injured men being helped towards the infirmary as the gates were swung shut and barred.
"Who are these men?"
"They are survivors from the massacre at the Path of Chivalry Temple. Even as we stand here Lord Denarien and his men are raising the Temple and working themselves into a murderous rage."
"Then these are events which have already come to pass?"
"The doom has been spoken and cannot be undone."
Their focus was now drawn to the Captain of the Guard where he was arguing with one of the priests.
"I don't care what your personal feelings are towards Oritolon or their faith, the prophet placed these men under our protection and you will see that their wounds are tended. Do I make myself clear?"
"I understand the orders Captain, but surely if we give these men sanctuary we place the faithful at risk of reprisals?"
"It is better to follow in the footsteps of Denariel and achieve martyrdom than to live a craven half-life, forever at the mercy of evil."
The monks were rushing too and fro, fetching water for the infirmary and tending to their duties, whilst the guards stood solemnly at their posts. Outside Lord Denarien approached under a flag of truce, his men forming a cordon around the curtain walls.
"I am Alluran, Lord of Justice. Deliver up the barbarians for punishment or face the consequences," Denarien reined his horse in just out of bowshot.
"I am Kerin, Captain of this Commandary, and all within are under the protection of the Trinity."
"So be it," Denarien turned to his men and cast the flag beneath his horse's hooves, trampling it into the mud, "These men are heretics. Burn their temple and slay all within."
Cathal watched the bloody battle unfold, the clash at the gates as the small company of Templars fought to the last man. The desperate battle in the refectory as the lay monks defended themselves with makeshift cudgels against steel blades and chain hauberks.
Then at the last Kerin himself holding the infirmary door, his shattered arm hanging limp and useless as blade after blade hacked at his bloodied armour. Even as he slumped to the ground his attackers were running through the inner chambers, looting and killing and thrusting burning torches into beds and curtains and tapestries. The building was soon consumed in flames.
"Why have you shown me this?" the Duke was weeping as he watched the flames.
"The doom has been laid and now all runs according to its writ. Do not underestimate the hardships it will bring to the people of Alowca for they must be shriven if they are to play their role in the war that is yet to come."
And Cathal found himself once more kneeling in the bright moonlight, his body shivering as the pre-dawn chill numbed his limbs.
Despite extensive preaching in the lands of the north, the transplanted Church Militant is still beset by foes in Oritolon. With their destruction of the sacred ruins in Alowca the final judgement is passed upon them and Alluran withdraws his protection from mankind.
There was a woman's voice, gentle as the wind soughing through the branches of the Bakker Woods, and yet carrying deep into the young prophet's troubled slumber. The darkness seemed to fade.
"Cathal Dubhaine..." the words seemed to rinse through his thoughts, sending black streamers receding into the furthest reaches of memory as that bright golden dawn flooded his inner consciousness.
"Who are you?" he spoke without lips, without flesh.
"Awake Cathal Dubhaine!" and he did. He was sitting amidst the tatters of his bedroll, a woman dressed in the simple black tunic and surplus of the Templars squatting opposite him.
"My Lady!" he recognised her without even studying her face or form, the Goddess who had plucked him from obscurity to be the messenger of the Trinity, and yet her immediacy was somehow more terrible and immediate than at any of her previous apparitions.
"The Black Wind will be unleashed Cathal, and none now can stand before it."
"Then I have failed?" in his mind's eye he was once more walking the blistered streets of Portion, the stench of carrion thick in his nostrils as he carefully trod between the bloated corpses.
"It was ever a choice for men to make, and if they have chosen unwisely it is not for want of good advice. Even as we speak my brother Alluran has laid his hand across this land and withdrawn his protection, for the Sanctuary stands no more in the Holy City and our Temple rests now in the heart of men," and as she spoke she placed the tips of her fingers against Cathal's chest, and he knew in that instant the true meaning of faith.
"I have done all that men of peace and reason may do, and yet it has not turned them from their hunger for death."
"They have chosen their path, now you must choose," and even as she uttered these words she seemed to fade from his sight, leaving them echoing on the dark, cold wind...
Cathal strode forward, flanked by the grim figures of his sword-brethren, memories of a former age marching beneath his plain yellow banner. And as they marched the wind carried half-snatched fragments of forgotten battle hymns across the rich, fertile fields of Abaka.
Behind them stood the brave figures of Lady Bryna's bodyguard, their bows strung and a arrows set in the the dark soil. And to their front stood evil, clothed in corrupted flesh and hungering for the flesh of mortal men. The ragged minions of the demi-lich Abadoor, who himself had once served the heretic Denarien, were enough to chill the blood of any man. And though their flesh hung desiccated and flayed, their cruel scimitars gleamed like ice in the morning sun.
"I am Abadoor the Deathless, look upon my minions and quake for tonight you will join their ranks," the tall, haughty frame of the demi-lich shuddered with hateful malice, his laughter the numbing blow of a smith's hammer.
"We are the servants of Inescapable Doom," Cathal and his companions drew their swords as one, and their voices echoed in the thunder as storm clouds covered the sun and a mighty wind blew down from the distant mountains.
The two battle lines charged beneath flights of arrows dark as the threatening skies and fell upon each other without mercy. Back and forth the melee turned, blades cursed with sorcery matched by hearts forged in holy service, and the yellow banner ran with Denariel's blood red tears.
Terrible and fell was Cathal's anger as his blade tore through ancient sinew and bones made stone, vanquishing all who stood before him until he faced the demi-lich himself.
"I know not who you are puny man, but I am Abadoor, servant of Denarien, and I shall wear your flesh even as your foetid bones dance and cavort at my whim," he hefted a mighty mace in his hands, a mockery of the ancient arms which he had served in life.
"The time of judgement is upon you Abadoor," Cathal balanced his sword by the tang, and it swung as if a balance careening as a heavy weight is dropped in the pan. The point swung earthwards and with a light flick of his wrist he tossed it into the air and grasped the hilt.
"Die!!!," the undead abomination's mace swept with the force of ten men, but Cathal lightly stepped away and spinning behind his enemy cleaved him from shoulder to groin with a single stroke. For a ghastly moment the two halves of the lich's body seemed to writhe in agony, seeking to rebind through force of will the spell of bone and sinew which Cathal's blade had broken, but to no avail. The lich fell dead to the ground, and empty husk, and with his true death the spell which bound his servants also passed.
"The Judgement of Alluran is final," Cathal cleaned his blade on the fallen creature's rotting clothes and sheathed it.
The Blessed Prophet returns to the city of Alowca to participate in a Tournament, using this pretext to visit the ruins of the former realm. As he walks the city streets in darkness he is joined by the Lady Denariel.
Night lay heavily across Alowca, the velvet firmament with its distant twinkling fires - according to ancient legends the shades of worlds long dead or perhaps even of those to come when the Gods finally tired of mankind's ceaseless conflict.
Cathal smiled at the thought.
Those who have stepped beyond the curtain know full well that conflict is the very essence of the Gods' plan for mankind, the ineffable cycle of gift and geasa intended to test men's mettle and focus them not on the heat of battle but on the inner struggle of self-mastery. He'd only half understood that when Lady Denariel had revealed the Faith Militant to him, all those years ago on the long and weary retreat from Windaria. The signs and portents had begun long before that, the sybaritic young knight cleansed by holy fire as he lay in the pits of Oritolon, and they haunted his footsteps to this day.
Alowca was much changed since last he'd been within her gleaming limestone walls, the Armoury district a maze of alien alleyways. The Templar Commandarie had once stood here, that miraculous tabernacle of seamless stone and blackened timber raised in but a day and a night by the will of those it venerated. To the north of there had stood the Palace of the Pontifex, a temple complex as old as the city and it was in that direction that Cathal now turned.
As Duke he'd been more often found preaching in the marketplace or ministering to the poor in the slums which hemmed the magnificent harbour. The small miracles and kindnesses which sustained his people during the dark final years of the city's independence had rarely if ever been remarked by her nobility, and having heard tell of the terrible reckoning which revolt and civil war had brought in recent years he wondered how many of those good people had survived.
"It is not easy being a chosen people: the path is hard and its destination obscure," Cathal turned to face a young woman dressed all in yellow raiment, and as the fabric moved amidst that glorious yellow fine threads of red seemed to flow like rivulets of blood.
"You do not need to tell me that My Lady, for has my path not contained many strange twists since first you called me to service?"
Strange twists indeed. Cathal had been lifted from the wreck of this City he loved more than life itself and cast adrift, the last prophet of an outlawed faith. Who could have foretold that his path would lead to the Dark Citadel and the ancient wisdom of the Bakker woods?
"Were the path of a prophet an easier one, Lord Khagister could have picked many another to bear His revelation. But it is not. It is a path of brambles and thickets, of quicksands and burning coals."
"I have never asked you to lift this burden from my shoulders," he drew himself up straight, and as he did so that spirit within which had passed beyond the curtain flared bright as the waxing moon and the fragile mortal shell it now inhabited seemed consumed with fire.
Even at this late hour the city was bustling with life, the taverns overflowing with rowdy travellers from distant realms who'd made the difficult trek south for the tournament. Such events were so rare in the Colonies that many a man might live his whole life without seeing one and feverish speculation surrounded the prowess of the various knights who'd announced their participation and the ultimate victor of its magnificent prize.
Cathal briefly wondered if the appearance of the Dubhaine armourial at the lists tomorrow would arouse much interest. It mattered little. The rules of tourney guaranteed safe passage for all challengers. Still, if his hosts had realised the import of his mission and the strange opportunity their generosity provided to achieve it without incident...?
The Alowcan Palace complex had long since been destroyed, its finer stones and timbers used to build houses and towers suiting the tastes of a new nobility. Still, the subterranean complex which lay beneath the sweeping boulevards remained largely intact. Indeed unknown to the lords of Oritolon and the colonists they'd imported from their own lands to settle the decimated city, the rock on which it stood had been so extensively tunnelled and excavated by uncounted generations of Alowcans as to represent a whole second citadel.
Most of it was given over to the sprawling necropolis where the deceased faithful had been immured in mighty stone crypts but closer to the Palace complex were well-stocked armouries, treasuries, libraries and the private apartments of the Pontifex. But none of these were of particular interest to Cathal or his companion. Their path lead to a much older and less well known part of the rock, a tunnel emerging high on the cliff beneath the ancient citadel mount and overlooking the harbour.
They walked in silence for some time, barely noticed by the bands of revellers and city watch patrols they encountered - men and women too dull-witted to see through the shadow weave which encompassed them.
The eastern escarpment was lightly defended, it's towering cliffs making a concerted attack from that direction pretty much impossible. The mighty ocean stretched beneath, a black naphtha sheet without limit across which fragile merchantmen plied their precarious trade. Many years since, Cathal had been a passenger on just such a vessel, a young runaway from the stifling court life of gleaming Cagil...
The Lady in yellow interrupted his reverie, "Today that which has lain hidden since the fall of Alowca will once more be revealed. Beneath us lies the Champion's Walk and on that very day your sister Aoifa ascended this cliff face with the Igna, the brother of Margrave The Drake."
Cathal studied the treacherous chalkface and his eye spotted what appeared to be a narrow ledge. He paused for a deep breath and swung himself over the lip, surprised to find his hands and feet guided to one safe hold after another. Even then it took a good half hour to make the descent.
The ledge turned out to be comfortable wide enough for a man to stand, and though from above it had seemed to be a natural feature of the rock it was in fact manmade. Following it towards the northern breakwater he came to an open passageway, and there on the floor lay a carefully assembled suit of Templar armour.
"This was my sister's armour," he knelt and touched the Alowcan arms fondly, remembering how in those last few months the heavy steel plate had seemed part of her flesh.
"She left it here when her duty was discharged," his companion placed her left palm against the black steel and seemed to purr, "but this is not the treasure we are here to reclaim. Follow me."
Cathal stood and studied the tunnel ahead. At first it seemed suffused with a pale bluish light which slowly built in intensity to that of a pale winter's noon allowing him to make out bas reliefs and frescos depicting scenes from the ancient scriptures. Gathering the armour he followed his mistress's lead.
The passage twisted and turned, intersecting others as it delved ever deeper into the escarpment and eventually coming to a halt at a dead end. A fresco depicting the first fall of Alowca filled the entire wall.
"Beyond here are the true treasures of Alowca," a single tear of blood trickled down Lady Denariel's cheek as she tenderly touched the likeness of a woman's face, a proud warrior depicted in gleaming armour, the halo of martyrdom upon her golden tresses.
There was a click as the Goddess's hand pressed more firmly against the cold stone and the wall swung open to reveal a brightly-lit crypt, four mighty sarcophagi dominating the space.
"Here lie the heroes of ancient Alowca, those whom I called to the service of The Trinity when the world was young," there was a hint of sadness in her voice which Cathal had never heard before. "Homer and John and Larani, these three gave their lives without question. Though they sit now in the halls of our father, I still mourn their passing for with it came the corruption which you were called to shriven and the death of this my most beloved city. There is however a fourth treasure here, a man blind to faith and yet never faithless. Margrave the Drake."
"I have heard of Margrave," Cathal gently placed his sister's armour on the floor where he stood next to Larani's tomb and approached the stone sarcophagus in which the mummified remains of the former Alowcan General now lay, "but I understood him to have died far from Alowca."
"His brother Igna returned his corpse when the city fell and in this you see the will of Khagister and the truth of His covenant. Thus can you be certain that the covenant which He made with you will likewise be fulfilled. Do not lose heart Cathal, no matter how dark the days ahead, for just as Margrave now rests where fate appointed so shall the true Church of the Trinity arise from the ruin of ages."
"What then brought my sister to this place?"
"The completion of her own covenant," and the Lady in Yellow directed his gaze to where a rusted flanged mace was embedded in the stone sarcophagus of Larani Blood Phoenix.
He studied at the ancient weapon, the badge of office of the General of Alowca. Denariel had wielded in life and every General in unbroken line down to his dear friend Gravitas Martius. He'd wielded it himself at the four-day long battle of Abaka when the men of Alebad had refused to defend their own lands and Alowcan knights had bled in their stead. That sacred heirloom had been believed lost when Gravitas was slain by the heretic Squeaks, and yet Aoifa must have recovered it when she in turn ran honest steel through his foul heart.
"Test it," Denariel's face warmed as a smile spread across her lips.
He placed his hand on the worn leather binding. The flanged head had been driven deep into the diorite slab, a feat of inconceivable strength, and yet it seemed unharmed. He tested the grip once... twice... thrice... the head remained resolutely entwined with its stone prison.
"When the black wind sweeps the land and hatred rules all lands, then look to these arms for salvation," and with that Cathal found himself once more alone with his thoughts.