The Provinces of Veterumterrum

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Chapter 15

Bathed in Fire

Raven Ralohana

Raven went to him. He seemed fine there was not a scratch on him nor did his clothing burn at all. “What happened to you?” she asked him. Riker just stared blankly. Riker’s three companions walked up to them.

“You all right?” the burly older human asked and placed a hand on Riker’s shoulder which seemed to have woken Riker up from his gaze.

“Yes, yes. I am fine,” he said slowly as if coming out of some coma. He turned to Raven and took her hands into his. “When this is all done, I will find you again. I promise.”

“Enough promise,” she replied. “I will go with you.”

“No, it is too dangerous,” he insisted.

“If it be too dangerous then forget the quest. Come run away with me Riker. Let us find our happiness without large amounts of wealth.”

“But,” Riker protested.

“Forget what you think I want and need. What I need is you and nothing else,” she said to him lovingly. Riker gave paused and then looked to the others. The human was bruised up and his right eye had specks of red in it. No doubt a broken blood vessel was the cause. The human was supporting the sarkany woman whom was hunch over and breathing heavily and next to her was the ljosalfr she-elf who winced in pain at the slightest touch of her hands which were swollen and red. Her hands might have been broken. Riker looked back at Raven tenderly.

“Perhaps you are right,” he said to her. “Maybe I should end my journey here.”

“Riker…” The burly human called to him.

“No,” the ljosalfr protested. “let him.”

Riker turned and reached up to touch Raven’s face but his fingers burned at the touch and Raven winced and flinched away. “What? No!” Riker cried and reached for her hand and the contact burned her. Raven winched and flinched again.

“What has become of you?” she asked fearfully.

“I… I have made a grave mistake,” Riker replied recoiling. “I thought I made a pact with a god but I see now that it was a deal with a devil,” he continued in a hushed tone.

Baron Von Riker

His face twisted into scowl. “This was not what I wanted,” he said to himself as a heavy shame settled within himself like lead in a pool of water. He looked at Raven. She was saying something to him but he could not hear her. She was far away from comprehension. The gods have wronged him. They took away all he ever wanted and now he cannot even touch the one he loves. The one person that ever mattered to him. Nothing was worth it anymore. The quest, his companions, nothing mattered now. He came to finally. Raven was saying something about visiting an expert or a speciald mage but Riker had no intention to do anything else about his situation. It seemed like every time he tried seeking help from a higher power, things would either not go his way or they would change for the worst. He looked at her again and took in her image. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on. Inside and out. Strangely enough he had not written a ballad about her. The thought alone probed his mind. All this time he could have made her name known throughout the provinces.

What he would give to listen to her music again. Her harp would steal him away from whatever he was doing like an enchantment on his soul. “I am so sorry,” he said to her softly, interrupting whatever she was saying and walked away from her. He walked past Kruzco and the others and as they followed him with their eyes, they watched as he unexpectantly stepped into a great brazier with roaring fire that swallowed him up. Everyone screamed as Riker’s silhouette disappeared behind the orange curtain. The sensation was odd. In fact, there really wasn’t a sensation. At least not the sensation that was expected. There was no burning or pain for that matter, just a tingle from the licking flames.

What have you done to me? he thought. The smell of his burning clothes filled his head. I have mistakenly surrendered my life to you! Riker crawled out of the brazier naked and unharmed from the fire. Kruzco rushed to his side and helped him to his feet.

“How?” Kruzco uttered but Riker ignored him. As he walked Riker away with Azariah, Vylasgarden went to Raven. Riker looked around and saw the people’s reactions to his act. Some looked in awe but most looked afraid of him. He then turned his attention to Vylasgarden and Raven and read the words from Vylasgarden’s lips: We will take care of him the best we can.

Raven’s eyes were filled with tears and despite her confusion she nodded and stole a glance of Riker. He felt so exposed to her because he tried to kill himself and survived. The party walked away and disappeared into the night and away from Raven Ralohana.

Emperor Theod-Rah

The news came to him as it was happening. He had not left them alone for three hours and they had already caused a scene within his walls. He should have locked them up like he intended and not listen to his advisors. Hospitality only makes room generosity to be taken advantage of and the emperor felt the betrayal as he matched down the halls with a legion of his palace guards. He busted into the new room he assigned the halfblooded elf. Riker was standing on a stool while a tailor fitted him into new clothing. “Your imperial majesty, I didn’t hear you come in,” Riker said sarcastically but his face was stone cold.

“I knew you were most things but invincible was not among them,” the emperor said to him but Riker didn’t reply. “Everyone out.” The guards and tailor left Riker and the emperor alone in the room. He watched Riker as he stepped down from the stool and walked his way to the pitcher of wine that sat atop a dresser and pored himself a glass. “Speak!”

“What do you want me to say? I told you that I am a mage!”

“No there is more to you. No mage is invulnerable to fire and you are nowhere near the most powerful mages in the world.”

“Perhaps you should hope that I am for the sake of your precious flame.” Theod-Rah bit his lip. He was running out of patience with this halfblood.

“There’s something you’re not telling me.”

“What does it matter so long I get your Phoenix Flame?” Riker had a point, though the emperor would never admit it. He was curious but he still had Riker in his pocket and didn’t want to agitate the situation any further.

“It doesn’t matter,” he began to say. “You leave in the morning. Do not disappoint me.” Before Riker could say anything after that, Theod-Rah had already left the room and marched back down the hall.

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