Garrick led the way as they returned to the temple of Bahamut to recuperate from the day’s events. The battle with Maldrick Scarmaker was particularly heated and nearly cost them their lives. Finding the demonic gnoll here, within the ruins of Gardmore Abbey was surprising, to say the least. The Winterguard had grown in power and confidence since their failure and managed to defeat the gnoll forces and drive off Maldrick Scarmaker… albeit just.
Garrick realized that his decision making was compromised during that fight. Anger shot through Garrick at the sight of the villain who had so easily defeated them not too long ago and he was eager at this second chance at putting an end to the evil of Maldrick Scarmaker. Not only to repay him for their embarrassing defeat but also for the torture and suffering he imposed upon the innocent Eilian and Delphina. But he realized his mistake. He was so blinded by thoughts of revenge that he neglected to properly survey the situation. Especially when Maldrick called in his reinforcements and the gnolls began to overwhelm the Winterguard… instead of calling for a tactical retreat… he pressed them forward.
Thankfully, Bahamut is watching over us… guiding us, protecting us! Garrick thought to himself. With His help… we managed to turn the tide. I thank you, my Lord… for protecting me and especially for protecting those at my side. By your will and grace, I continue to learn and grow. I have learned the lesson set before me. No longer will my duty to you and my duty to those around me be blinded by something so petty as revenge. I remain forever your humble servant. Garrick prayed as they entered Bahamut’s temple.
Still, Garrick could not help but feel disappointed that Maldrick Scarmaker had managed to escape justice yet again. Frustration flashed across his face. Just then, he felt a comforting hand on his shoulder, “I know, my friend. We’ll get him. He won’t escape us for long but we have more important things at hand.” Odus smiled at his friend, knowing his thoughts.
Garrick returned the smile, “Thanks Odus. I know. You always seem to know what we’re thinking.”
“You, anyway” Odus laughed, “I’ve known you practically my whole life, you aren’t that complicated. Him on the other hand…” Odus directed his glance over towards the corner where Isak slumped himself up against the wall quietly lost in thought. With that, Odus shrugged his shoulder and walked off towards the altar to Rao.
Sir Oakley walked over to where Garrick was standing, in front of the main altar. “Before I head off for some much needed rest, I just wanted to thank you again for taking me along on the last outing. It was… exhilarating! Too long has it been since I stretched out my sword arm like that! A bit rusty but not too bad for an old man.” Oakley laughed.
Garrick could not help but smile back, “Nonsense, it was an honor to fight alongside a true knight of Bahamut. You fought well… allowed me to learn from you.”
“Ha, ha, ha… enough with the lies!” Sir Oakley chuckled back, “I know how I looked out there but thank you again for your kind words… you lift an old man’s spirits. Now, off I go to rest these aching bones.” With that, Oakley made his way to his room.
The sun was starting to set and darkness was beginning to take over the temple. Garrick made his way around the temple strategically lighting a few of the braziers to provide them with some light while not giving away their position to the orcs and other enemies throughout the abbey. After he had finished, Garrick began to realize just how tired he was. I could use a full night’s sleep he thought to himself a bit guiltily but first I need to see to the night’s watch.
As if acknowledging the need, Mordekai stepped out of the shadows and strode towards Garrick. “I can take first watch if you like. Kayle is out hunting anyway, so I’ll be up. Besides, it looks like you could use the rest…” he said.
“No need, I will take the night watch.” Isak interrupted.
“Are you sure?” both Garrick and Mordekai asked in unison. “I mean I don’t mind. Both you and Garrick haven’t rested all that much since we got here.” Mordekai continued.
“I am sure. I’m not tired. The watch is mine.” Isak stated forcefully.
Seeing the look on Isak’s face, Mordekai did not argue further. He simply shrugged his shoulders and returned to whatever it is he was doing. With that, Isak nodded at Garrick, turned and began to walk off.
Garrick was worried about Isak. With his domination at the hands of Havarr and Kane’s… “death”, he wasn’t sure what his friend was thinking. He slowly reached out and put a gentle hand on Isak’s shoulder, stopping him momentarily.
“Are you ok?” Garrick asked, concern touching his voice.
“I… I’ll be fine.” Isak responded. He turned his head back to face Garrick and gave him a knowing look. Garrick knew his friend well, he knew that look… it meant;just give me some time, some space and I will be good. Garrick nodded back at his friend and Isak forced a tiny smile before he continued to walk off.
Garrick made his way to the room they used for resting. He walked in quietly and saw that Oakley and Odus were already fast asleep. He made his way to one of the empty beds… took off his armor, lay down and closed his eyes. It wasn’t long before he drifted off to sleep.
Garrick could feel the warmth of the sun on his skin and the light piercing his eyelids. Ughhh, not morning already, he whined to himself. He opened his eyes reluctantly to stare up at a canopy of leaves, the rays of sunshine streaming though to illuminate the area. Garrick sat up and stared around with wide eyes… he was no longer in the temple.
Where am I? He wondered to himself. Garrick picked himself off the ground and continued to look around. He was surrounded by trees and thick brush. What am I doing in the middle of a forest? He asked as began to walk forward, feeling drawn in a northerly direction. As he began making his way through the forest, everything seemed strangely familiar. I know this place. I’ve been here before. He thought to himself. As he made his way further into lush, green forest, it finally came to him. He recognized it. This is where I trained with the Eladrin to become a swordmage!
Somewhat comforted by the fact that he knew where he was, he pressed on… moving faster. He kept moving, fondly remembering the days… months… years he spent running these woods, conditioning his body, training with blade and magic within its depths. He kept moving until he caught sight of a small clearing up ahead. As he approached, he saw someone sitting on a rock in the middle of the clearing, wearing robes of the richest blue. Small yellow birds were flying about, circling, diving and then soaring back up towards the sky. Strangely, they never strayed too far from the robed figure.
As Garrick got closer, he slowed his pace and became more cautious. It donned on him how quiet everything was, how still. The only noise that could be heard were the chirping of those yellow birds. Though he could feel a cool, refreshing breeze against his skin, nothing moved. One of the birds approached and as it did, he recognized it as a yellow canary. Strange, canaries aren’t typically seen in these woods, he thought to himself. The canary flew in front of his face chirping at him, seemingly questioning him. It then began to circle him a few times, studying him. Satisfied, the canary flew back towards the clearing to land on the hooded figure’s shoulder. The figure nodded in acknowledgement.
This has got to be a dream.
“Yes… and no” the man in the clearing called out, reading his thoughts. Startled, Garrick stopped in his tracks. “Please, come closer. You are very much safe here. Don’t force an old man to keep shouting at you!”
Garrick started walking again, approaching as requested. The man was old, maybe in his sixties or seventies. He had silvery white hair and a long beard which seemed to shine like metal in the sunlight. His rich robes were lined with silver and were adorned with sigils which also gleamed in the sun. The man had a kind, fatherly quality to his face. His eyes were of crystal blue that again reflected a metallic nature and held knowledge and wisdom of one much older. His steely gaze seemed to pierce through to Garrick’s very soul. Their eyes locked for a moment and Garrick realized he had seen the man before although not so regal as the appeared now.
“Ahhh good, you do recognize me.” The man said through a warm smile.
“Yes… yes, I do.” Garrick remembered, “I met you here, in these very woods, many years ago. An old man separated from his caravan, lost in the woods looking for the path. I helped…”
“Yes, you helped me back to the path and escorted me through the woods.” The old man interrupted. “You even waited with me until the caravan came back looking for me and made sure I was safely on my way before returning to your Eladrin friends.”
“Wait, how did you know about the Eladrin?” Garrick questioned.
The old man smiled, “My son, I have been watching you for quite a long time now. Guided your actions. Protected you. I have even breathed new life into you so that you may continue along your destined path.” He stood up and was taller than Garrick. His posture was straighter, his body stronger than a man of his age should be. “Look again, not only with your eyes but with your heart and mind. You will know my true name.”
Garrick stared back in disbelief. The man was practically glowing as the sun was upon him. The metallic shine emanating for the man’s hair, beard and clothing were not silver at all… no, it was platinum! Garrick then noticed the man’s shadow. It grew from the man’s feet into something surreal, bigger than logically possible. Where the shadow of man should have been cast, was the form of a dragon! Tears welled in Garrick’s eyes as he dropped to one knee.
“My Lord Bahamut!” Garrick said humbly, head bowed in reverence.
“I have and will always be with you but I thought it time we finally met… more formally.” The God of Justice, Protection and Honor answered.
Garrick slowly rose up to face his god, “You honor me with your presence, My Lord. I am, not yet worthy of such a visit.” He stated.
“Nonsense!” Bahamut retorted, “You have been worthy for quite some time. You have accomplished so much in so short a time that even I am impressed. You have done more good in my name than anyone in recent years! And your current actions in Gardmore Abbey and the aid you provide to my servant, Sir Oakley, continue to honor me. The path you walk is still dangerous and there is still much to be done. But I am confident in your success. After all, you are one of my chosen.” Bahamut looked down at Garrick and smiled.
“Kneel and accept my blessing” the god commanded.
Garrick immediately kneeled. The canaries, seven of them by his count, landed on the ground forming a circle around the two. They began to chirp in unison signing what appeared to be a hymn. Bahamut placed a hand on top of Garrick’s head and began to speak in a language Garrick did not understand.
Garrick felt a powerful energy course through his body. It felt like Bahamut’s very essence entered Garrick’s body… it strengthened him. Fortified his courage and resolve. Then it was over.
“Rise Garrick! Rise as a Platinum Dragon Knight of Bahamut!” the god ordered proudly.
Garrick shot up in bed and quickly looked around. He was back in the room of the temple. Sir Oakley sat on the bed across from him, staring at him knowingly. “I had a dream…” Garrick began but was quickly cut short by the older knight.
“Not a dream but a vision, brother.” Oakley stated. “And from what I can tell, one more powerful than I’ve ever experienced.”
With that, Oakley stood up and made his way to the door. He turned and smiled at Garrick, “Now get up, we still have much to do!”
Garrick got out of bed and put on his armor. He felt different, he felt Bahamut’s energy coursing through him still. A newfound power to use against my enemies and oppose the evil in this world.