After the End

OOC: Set during the Lions winter campaign of 1112, written by Russ Phillips, with some help from Dorian Grey)

Elrood stood in the transport circle, unable to move. Confused thoughts ran through his head. "Who the fuck is he? Why is he doing this? Bollocks. Thank fuck I managed to get away from Fionnuala. At least she’s safe."

He opened his eyes and looked around, confused. He appeared to be in a tavern. There were a lot of red and black tabards, and he recognised some of the people wearing them. Jane. Alvin. Henry. Mace. Hargrim. "They’re all dead. I guess that means I am too. Fuck." Suddenly he felt old and tired, and he sat down heavily. A man walked up to his table, and he recognised him from a dream he’d had once on Gallathrix.

"Celestial."

Celestial sat and offered Elrood a tankard. "Porter? I believe that’s your preferred drink."

Elrood frowned, and Celestial smiled. "It’s all right. I release you from your oath of abstinence."

Gratefully Elrood took a long drink, looking around as he did so, noting which faces were absent. "I don’t see Anri. Is she here?"

"No. I’m sorry, she never made it to me."

"It’s true then," sighed Elrood. "I always held out some hope that it was just a load of bollocks, that she was here with you." He took another drink. "No sign of Morrowyn, either. Does that mean she’s all right?"

"Yes, Morrowyn is alive. So is her brother, but I still don’t know where he is." Celestial looked a little distant for a moment, then he said, "They appear to be trying to lay you to rest. Doesn’t your wife know you’re a paladin?"

Elrood laughed. "Yes, of course she does. She’s a light incantor, she’s picked my arse up off the floor plenty of times." Then, more seriously, "She always said I wasn’t allowed to die if she wasn’t around to lay me to rest. It’s one last thing she can do for me."

Celestial leaned forward, and took Elrood’s head in his hands, in a manner reminiscent of a mind healer. Suddenly Elrood was no longer conscious of the tavern. It was cold, and he was lying on something hard. He could hear someone crying, and then a whisper in his ear.

"…but out of respect for you, I’ll not kill him. I’ll get him in front of a trial."

"Sheyna! Bloody hell, he’s put me back in my body." Suddenly Elrood felt a chill. He tried to move, but couldn’t. He tried harder, relief washing through him as he realised he had no control over his body.

Someone else was whispering to him now. "You taught me what marriage was supposed to be like. Thank you."

"That’s exactly what I wanted to do for you. I wanted you to have a proper husband." (pause) "Bugger. She can’t hear me".

"In the name of Celestial, in the name of Armengar … by the power of the ancestors I lay this pattern to rest."

Suddenly he was back in the tavern, staring at Celestial. "What the fuck did you just do to me?" he demanded.

"I connected you, via me, to your body. It’s something like what a mind healer does, but when you’re an ancestor, you can do more with your link," Celestial explained calmly.

"You used your link to the plane of life?" Elrood suddenly laughed. "Thank fuck for that."

Some time later, a familiar figure wearing a blue and gold tabard approached him. "I’ve got a bone to pick with you."

Elrood looked at her and smiled. "It’s good to see you, too. So what have I done?"

"That song you had written about me."

Elrood’s smile faded. "What’s wrong with it? I thought you’d like it."

"It’s a good song, but it’s not true. I didn’t go to defend him. It makes me out to be something I’m not."

"No, it doesn’t. The details might not be right, but all it makes you out to be is someone that will defend the fallen, which you are. Or were."

"But it’s a lie."

"I think bards call it artistic licence. Look, I didn’t know exactly what happened, and that’s what Karen came up with. I had no idea if you’d defended Dorn or not, but I did know that you’d done it for others. I’ve seen you do it. It may not be the exact truth, but it’s not a lie."

"I still wish you hadn’t had it written. People I’ve never met arrive here and once they hear my name, they act like I’m somebody important."

"You were important to me. You still are, though not in quite that way any more. Look, let me buy you a drink and we can catch up. I’ll tell you about how I gave up beer and got married."

Elrood stood up and headed for the bar, leaving a rather bemused Liz staring after him.

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