The room was sparse in the form of furnishings. A single candle sat on a short table beside the squat wooden sleeping pallet, whose mattress consisted of a canvas sheet stuffed with old and smelly straw. The candle illuminated a figure seated on the pallet and hunched over, head in hands. The candle guttered for a second and then burned on cleanly. Tavik looked up at the flame as it returned to normal. “How deep is the river if you cannot see the bottom?” he asked the flame quietly. “Was that even you, mother?” he asked after a moment’s thought.
He had spent the night awake as he always had. He had clear memories of what happened in the last few years. He closed his eyes in self-loathing as specific memories came to the fore. Some memories were too clear. He wished he could forget.
As the chain binding the door shut clinked he looked up, a pitiable cross-expression of degradation and acceptance on his face.
Standing outside the door of the make shift cell, Tevega readied herself for what was to come. This was nothing new to her. She’s interigated numerous allies, comrades, even friends. But this was different. She’d always prided herself on being able to seek out and expose the evils of chaos and disorder before they were able to act. But this new incident, bothered her. Holding the bag which contined the thing she had ‘extracted’ from Tavick still plauged her, and that was what was probably btherig her the most. She didnt know what it was, and that, that simple act of not knowing, made standing outside of the cell all the worse.
She could always find the words or the means to draw out the chaos in a person, let them show thier true colours. Was thier chaos natural, and well meaning? Or was it dangerous and a threat to Order and control? Deciding the only way was to open the door and do her duty, he unfasten the chain and opened the door.
Tavik looked up at his first visitor since he regained consciousness the night before. “I knew it would be you,” he said.
Not looking at him as he speaks, Tevega closes the door behind her, then moves to grab the spare chair. Taking it, she moves it and then looks to Tavick, the light from the candle enhancing her half-orc features. She nods.
‘Sadly, after what happened, do you think anyone would come neer you? And, as you know, this is my area of expertise.’
As he listened to her words Tavik’s head dropped slightly and while his eyes were downcast he said, “No. It doesn’t surprise me.”
He eyed the bag for a moment, imagining what utensils might be in it and noted, “You don’t need your tools today. I’ll tell you whatever you need to know to make your decision.” There was a pleading look in his eyes. “Though I deserve no less for what I’ve done.”
Tevaga sit and puts the bag on the floor. Removing her hat, she runs har hand through her hair, and sighs.
‘There are no tools in that bag. I knew after the fight, I woud not need them. A lesser man, yes. You though, i could sense the fight in you, and not to fight us. So, I’ll get right to it.’ picking the bag up, she reaches in ad pulls the thing out of it, and places it on the table. With a wave and a whisper, the room light up, illminating the 6 armed slug Tevega pulled form Tavick.
‘What the Hell is this thing? If you even know.’
Tavik frowned. He closed his eyes briefly and sighed. “I don’t know what it is,” he said. “What does it have to do with me?”
Sitting back in the chair, Tevega crosses her legs and arms.
‘Much. I pulled that thing out of you when you were finaly subdued. Interestingly, it died a few moments after. I was hoping you might be able to enlighten me, seeing as it seems to give off the same….. vibe we shall say, as the Minflayers and that brian. As well it, when i tried to identify it, the only thing i could go off of was it reacted to you, and we both knwo you have powers neither arcane or divine.’
“Something astral?” Tavik asked. He prodded it with a finger and his expression turned sour. “Wait, did you say ‘out’ of me?” He shuddered.
She nods. Pulls a canteen, she sips, offering it to Tavick.
‘You heard right, ’out’. After you fell you had a growth. The that thing came out of your mouth. No, the feelign I got was….. psyonic. Mental. Your one power is that is it not? Your shield.’
“Yes,” Tavik nodded, waving away the offered water. “The gith are psionically gifted.” He paused for a moment to consider something. “The elders in the elven community used to tell me how the gith were a race that survived in the outer planes by bending reality to their will. There was the Gith’zerai, my race, and the Gith’yanki, our violent cousins. Gillendel swore that the difference between the two races was little more than a kind of philosophical difference.” He looked at Tevega finally. “I don’t know if it was true or not, but that’s what he used to say.”
Then he pointed at the creature on the table. “Are you thinking this was… controlling me somehow?” He swallowed hard, his empty throat nearly making an audible rasp.
She nods. ‘When you attacked us, it didnt seem like you. And then you paused. After I used my power to mke you recall your duty and honour, you paused longer. Eventually, you regained control’
“I remember,” he said staring at the creature for a long time. It was clear he was reliving the past. Finally he looked up with an expression of resignation. “You should execute me.”
‘Why would I execute someone who was not acting of their own volition? Did you rememeber something?’
“Everything,” he sighed. “Everyone in Tuskwater will eventually hear about this, but will they understand what it means? There’s only so much honest and simple folk will believe until they finally reject everything you say wholesale. Let them have this. Tell Monty I’m guilty.” Tears began to well up in his eyes. “He’ll believe you because he wants me out of the way. Then I won’t have to live with what I’ve done.”
Tevega shakes her head and laughs.
‘So you would rather run and hide like a coward then stand up and defend yourself? You’d rather give up, and let this…. thing win? I think not.’
Standing to her full hight, the light illuminating, casting a shadow over Tavick.
‘I will tell Monty you are guilty. Guilty of possession and not acting of your own accord. Guilty of fighting for yourself. But also, there are the other acts you did while possessed. We will have to keep an eye on you’
Tavik looked up with pitying eyes. “The truth is clear, even in the darkness,” he said. “The kingdom we’ve been building for more than half a decade is what is at stake, Tevega. Like a house that cannot stand divided, I cannot go back to the kingdom. No matter how small the chance, there are those who would take ‘my side’ for whatever delusional reason if conflict ever rose in the kingdom. You know I’m right about this. Taking me out of the equation is the only real way to destroy the seeds of division before they ever sprout.”
Her eyes narrow, the deep gold taking on a feral glint.
‘Let those who dare rise up against the Duke be my concern. Your ONLY concern should be showing everyone you’ll not let such a pathetic thing as this keep you from performing the duties assigned to you by Monty. If any decide to try and do other wise, they will answer to me.
You understand. Councilor?’
Tavik listened to her words and nodded glumly. “Because it is so clear, it takes longer to realize it,” Tavik answered. “But yes, I do understand. I will persist.”
‘Good. Now, you said you remember everything. What did you mean my that?’
Tevega sits back down, watching.
“That thing made everything seem… normal for me. Perfectly within my own volition,” he frowned. “What does that say about me?” He looked up at her. “Does that make me weak or does that make me a person so close to being evil already that it was easy to push me into violent acts against good people? That for me is the most troubling question of this entire ordeal.”
Hearing this, Tevega smiles. Taking another swig of her canteen, she stands and moves to the bared window, lookign out through the cracks.
‘I can promise you this, I’ll be one of the first to stop you should you stray too far down the wrong path, or should you try and disrupt the order we’ve begun to bring to this land. As for your thoughts on you being weak. You’d only have been weak, in my eyes, had you let the thing win and not tried to fight it. Then I would have considered you less of the being you are. As it stands you fought, and you did win, with help from those who consider you an ally. ’
Turning back, she slwoly moves back across the room.
‘Ive sent many a person to the gallows, or to their maker for breaking the laws layed before. Ive also absolved those who were innocent. In my mind, you are.’
“That is what you’ll tell the others?” Tavik asked. “It might be harder to convince some of that.”
‘Let me worry about what others think of me. I have been appointed to this task, and if they do not want to take what I have to say to heart, then maybe they are the ones who need to be judged. I am the High Inquisitor of Tuskwater. None are beyond my judgement. None are too ’revered’ that my eyes will not fall upon them should I see it fit. Id do this with everyone. Monty, Baren, Seldon. I would send any of them to the gallows should that be the course of action needed. It hasn’t been, so there has been no need. My duty is to Tuskwater, dealing with threats both externally, and internally. And usualy in such a way, None ever see it.
You for one know this, we’ve been traveling and serving together for years now. Would I send an innocent man to hang, or would I let the guilty walk free?’
“No, you wouldn’t. That is the truth,” Tavik nodded. “If you immediately know the candlelight is fire, the meal was cooked a long time ago.” He saw her eyes flicker for a moment before he continued. “I think I understand the path that is before me then.”
Nodding, Tevega slowly moves towards Tavik.
‘As I see it, you have two clear choices. One, sit in this cease pit of doubt and worry you’ve created and let this thing’….points to the creature…‘and whoever was controlling it win. Or stand up, wipe that sad excuse of pity from your face, accept what happened, and face the opposition head on. I will support you, only as long as you support yourself first.’
With that, she moves and undoes the manacles and walkes away. Stopping at the door, she says back, without looking.
‘You and I both know which one you’ll choose. Least, I know which one id prefer you too. But in the end, it’s all your decision.’
Tavik watched her leave the room and heard her footsteps moving away from the door. “Face them head on,” he repeated quietly. “The river tells no lies, yet the dishonest man hears them when he stands on the shore,” he thought.