by, 03-05-2009 at 05:21 PM (2109 Views)
Here is a short story that has been sitting on my hard drive for a long time collecting "digital dust." I thought I might share it with you all. The story is loosely based on one of my characters from the best campaign I have ever played in. I hope you enjoy it, and feedback is welcome.
Robert A. Howard
Ylin felt himself suddenly falling. Around him, a swirling maelstrom of blackness mixed with deep shades of crimson and purple threatened to catch him in its violent embrace. His mouth was agape and his features etched with dread. Through the wind's howling cacophony, he couldn't even hear the sound of his own screams.
The wind bit at his open eyes causing tears to erupt in salty rivers which streamed back into his hair as it was whipped from his face by the force of his descent. Despite the bitter sting, he dared not shut his eyes. Below him, he could see the cyclone culminated into a vortex of absolute darkness.
Whatever dark-stuff made up the maelstrom itself reacted violently as it impacted its core, seeming to be contorted and then ultimately rended completely from existence. A cold realization welled up in Ylin's throat, choking him. In moments, he would be brutally torn apart as he was forced through the whirling black center of the tempest, now dreadfully close below. He couldn't think; he couldn't breathe. He desperately gasped for air, but his lungs would not open. Panic overtook him, and he clawed at his throat madly.
Tightening sharply near the end, the whirlwind constricted around his body like a powerful serpent. Pain exploded from every synapse as his body was forced torturously into an impossibly small space.
Ylin shot upright in his bed still gasping for air. His chest heaved labouredly as he struggled to catch his breath. Outside a storm raged. The rain pounded relentlessly and the wind violently beat the unlatched shutters repeatedly against his bedroom windows. Bright bolts of lightning illuminated his bedchambers in quick angry flashes.
Once he found himself able to breathe evenly, he swung his legs off the bed and just sat for a while, head in hand. At last his heart finally calmed its frantic pace and he dared to rise. Apparently, he rose too quickly and he almost blacked out as his head exploded into a torturous throb of intense pain. He swooned and let himself fall back to the bed's edge.
Tentatively, he stood again. The throbbing in his head continued unabated. What manner of drink could he have imbibed that would leave him so completely impaired?
Cupping his hands in the water basin nearby his nightstand, he washed its cool contents over his unshaven face. His fingers withdrew immediately, unaccustomed to the course reception--a month's growth at least by his judgment, and he had always been attentive to keeping his face closely shaven even on the longest of travels or deepest of winters.
Focusing his thoughts and senses through the sharp throbs that still plagued him, he prepared a lantern and stumbled across his chambers towards a grand armoire. The armoire's stained cherry finish had been masterfully crafted to display a magnificent oak tree carved with a blaze of flame extending from its unsinged crown. This familiar image stirred memories, and Ylin immediately recognized the exquisite workmanship in the seal of the Firetree Crest--he was in his father's manor! But how he had come to be here, he could not recall.
Yawning, Ylin unlatched and opened the cleverly concealed doors of the armoire and silently cursed himself a fool for almost dropping the lantern at the sight of his own image. Set inside the armoire was a half-length mirror that revealed his youthful features and disheveled appearance. The image cast back from the mirror was unmistakably his own, but somehow not what he expected. It was as if he was seeing a man he once knew, but couldn't quite remember.
Examining the image cast back at him, he'd plainly fallen asleep without so much as taking the time to remove his boots, much less anything else. A splattering of something thick and crimson, he could only guess to be blood, trailed across his blousy white shirt.
His first thought was that it was his own. Alarmed, he lifted his collar to peer beneath and was relieved to find the flesh there unmarred and unstained. Neither was the cotton front torn or cut, however one of the flared sleeves had been ripped slightly where it met the shoulder leaving a gap some four fingers wide.
Ylin struggled to remember anything about the day that had led up to him standing here now, blood stained and disoriented. It was no use. He couldn't recall when he had gone to bed, let alone when he'd come home. When nothing came, he turned, and with his lantern in hand, he headed towards his chamber door.
Hung there on a peg to the right of the door was a familiar vestment--a long white stole with an emblem of a two handed sword with a round shield set atop the center of the blade and embroidered in gold thread which bespoke his position of high authority within the church. He took up the ceremonial garment with his free hand and draped it over his shoulders easily. It hung about his neck extending past his waist, a hand's length from touching the tops of his knees.
Something had stained the stole too. Shining the lantern upon it, he could see it was of the same consistency and color as the splattering on his shirt. In fact, the trailing pattern across his shirt continued in near perfect alignment across one side of the stole.
Ylin pinched the stained material of the stole between his fingers. The fluid was wet and sticky, undeniably blood. However his clothing had become blood-stained and torn must have happened recently. A cold dread welled up within him. What had happened? Whose blood was this?
His door opened with a click, and he quietly closed it behind him and then descended the wide staircase down into the family dining room. The room was open and airy with a vaulted ceiling set high, which provided a view of the landing that rung around the chamber serving the second floor bedrooms.
The furnishings here were every bit as elaborate as those in his chambers with deep blue tapestries bearing the family crest draped along the walls. The room's many candelabras were unlit, leaving him with little else to see by than the lantern he'd brought with him.
Ylin walked tentatively through the house and towards the manor's front entrance. There he peered out one of the oblong windows on either side of the double doors. The rain was coming down hard, obscuring any view of the courtyard he might have otherwise glimpsed.
He let the lantern drop to his side and stood pondering as he peered into the gloom. He found the sound of the storm strangely calming. He closed his eyes for a moment and just listened to the constant drum of the wind-whipped rain. Peering into the darkness, he let his thoughts wander. The raging thunder between his temples calmed slightly to the level of a dull roar.
"What happened next?" The thought startled him; it was not his own.
A flash of lightning suddenly illuminated a heavily robed figure standing no more than a pace or two outside the window looking back at him. His features were cloaked in shadow, but in that brief instance, Ylin could see that the man's head was misshapen, bulbous even. A thickly corded and matted beard, at least a foot in length, seemed to writhe in the wind from under the figure's cowl. Though he could not see the man's expression, Ylin felt at once a cold malevolence.
Ylin fell over himself as he recoiled from the windowpane. He hit the wooden floor, bottom first, and painfully hard. Reflexively, his hand went down to his side seeking a weapon he did not have. When he looked up again in the next moment, however, the figure was gone, leaving him unsure if he had really seen anything at all. A shiver ran down his spine.
Gulping hard, he scrambled to his feet and forced himself back to the window. He raised his lantern, attempting to get a better view outside, but the light only succeeded in creating more glare. His heart raced. What had he seen?
A voice, calm and reassuring asked, "Again we come to this mysterious man. Do you really believe he was there?"
"No," he heard a voice answer weakly.
"What do you suppose the image means, then?"
"It's my reflection isn't it," he realized the answer came from him. "It's me. By the gods, it's me because of what I did," he was weeping.
Ylin furled his brows. None of this was making any sense. He felt as though he were possessed. What was his inner voice talking about? What's happening to me, he wondered, frustrated.
"You're remembering," the voice answered his unspoken question. "You are doing very good. This is further than we have gotten before."
"What were you doing at your father's manor? Why were you there?" the voice continued, far off.
"I ... I don't know"
"You do know," the voice persisted.
"But I don't, I swear," he blubbered.
"Try, Ylin! Try! This is very important. What were you doing at the Firetree Manor on the 15th night of Summer's End?"
"I," he heard himself pause. "I had just arrived home that night from the temple. It was my first night back. I hadn't been home in so long, but I had stopped at the village a few hours ride outside the manor."
Ylin clutched his forehead with his free hand as though that would somehow make the voices stop. He felt as though he were mad. He had to find out what was going on! As the voices continued to drone on inside his head, he set himself to searching the downstairs.
"Why did you stop when you were so close?"
"I had planned to stay the night there, so that I could ride out fresh in the morning. Moreover, the last time I had seen the village was when I was barely twelve winters old. I was curious if anyone would even remember me, since it had been nearly five years," he could hear that the second voice--his voice--had calmed a little in the telling. This was all so surreal.
"Did you stay the night there?"
"No. I purchased a room at the tavern and had a quick meal, then went out to see how much the village had changed. I couldn't believe it! My father, the Duke, was at the central square. He was asking for volunteers to travel to the ruins of the Arch Mage tower to investigate some claims of restless dead in the area. I don't know why –- I guess I wanted to show off how grown up I had become, so I stepped out of the crowd and volunteered. Of course, he recognized me immediately."
"How did he respond?"
"He was furious! He shamed me in front of all those people. He forbade me from going like I was some child. He said it was too dangerous. So, I asked him how he could stand there and say that his son's life was worth more than everyone else's."
Ylin vividly remembered the day the voices were discussing. This was all exactly as it had happened, by his remembrance. But what was so significant about that day long-past? So, his father had been a little upset–-okay, he had been very upset. So what was so interesting about that?
Ylin continued searching the manor. The first story was abandoned. Not even the servants' candles were lit. And peaking into the servants' bunkers revealed only empty beds.
He dared a quiet, "Hello?" to the darkness. Then another, only this time he called out loudly.
"I'm here, Ylin. It's okay. Tell me what happened after you got back to the manor," the voice in his head was the only answer.
Ylin rushed up the central stairs, this time not worried whom he might wakeup.
"For a while, he said nothing to me. We went through dinner without speaking at all. I still hadn't told him."
"About becoming a priest?" the voice questioned.
Ylin checked the second level, room by room, trying very hard to ignore the voices. The entire manor was completely empty. All the bedrooms were left unused. His two brothers' rooms, his cousin's, his parent's rooms were all empty. He was alone.
Pain erupted from his skull as though a dagger had been plunged into his left temple. He wheeled and fell to his knees from the intensity of the throbbing he had all but forgotten in the moment. He sobbed at the agony of it.
"Ylin, I want you to try to remember what happened that night. You had gone to the solarium to confront him and tell him that you had joined the priesthood despite his wishes, is that right? What happened when you told him that?"
Looking up the stairs to the third floor, he could see now that there was a flicker of light spilling out from the solarium. He struggled to his feet, leaving the lantern in the hall where he had fallen, then climbed the stairs with great effort, using his hands as well as his feet to crawl his way to the upper chamber.
"Ylin, answer me. We don't have much time left. You must remember."
Tears were streaming from his eyes as he forced himself to stand straight before pushing open the door to the private family chambers. He could feel each step he took echoed by the throbbing in his head.
He could tell immediately that something was amiss. The room's many candles had been left unattended and had dwindled to waxy nubs, spilling streams of wax unceremoniously down their decorative candlesticks. By the dimly flickering light, he could see a shelf of books had been knocked over.
Ylin walked steadily into the room. He noticed too that one of the gossamer curtains adorning the room's many beveled glass windows had been ripped away. His heart sank as he crossed to the far side of the room where the book shelf and curtain had been left asunder. He dropped to his knees.
"No, it cannot be!" He cried out to whoever might be listening.
"What can't be? What do you see?"
Ylin sobbed unabashed as he looked down at his father's body. The back of his head had been caved in. The body laid stomach down, with his head cocked to the side. His father's lifeless eyes seemed to gaze at the pool of sticky blood spilt from the gaping wound, now congealing into the grooves and crevices of the wood grain floor. His jaw hung open with an expression that seemed to ask, "Why? Why did you do this to me?"
Ylin's gaze fixed onto an ivory hafted mace discarded next to the body. The delicate flange of the ornate weapon was covered with gore. Disbelief in his eyes, he reached out and grasped his fingers tightly around the ivory haft of the mace--his mace!
"I ... killed him," Ylin answered audibly this time, between sobs. "Theorin forgive me, I remember! We were arguing. I told him that I had dedicated my life to the service of Theorin. That I had joined the priesthood and there was nothing he could do to stop me. I had never seen him so angry. He was beyond furious.
"He couldn't understand why I had chosen to follow the path of the priest. He thought it was some fool child's notion or that I did it to escape my responsibility to the barony and to the family.
"He made it clear that I would renounce my dedication and put this foolishness behind me. When I told him, ‘No,' he grasped me by the shoulders and for a moment, I thought he was going to throttle me in his anger. ‘You will do as you are told!,' he was screaming.
"Then he turned away from me. He told me that he would send a letter to the monastery forbidding my confirmation. After all these years, how could I have thought he would understand? Why did I think he would let me live my own life? I knew there was no escape.
It happened in the blink of an eye. Something deep inside me broke and I lost all control. The next thing I knew, I was swinging my mace. The blow caught him in the back of the head.
With a single sickening crack, everything I had ever hoped for, everything I had hoped to be was crushed. How could I murder my own father?"
Ylin clenched his eyes shut. A fresh wave of pain and nausea swept over him. When he opened his eyes again, he finally became aware of his true surroundings. He was in a dank cell. Daylight streamed into the room from a barred window set teasingly high from the floor.
Sitting across from him was a lithe man dressed in heavy ceremonial robes of red and white. Draped over his shoulders was a long white band of linen embroidered in gold with the symbol of a broad circular shield set atop the middle of a large two handed sword, which bespoke his position as a High Justicar of the Faith.
The Justicar's expression was grave but sorrowful. He reached out to Ylin, putting his hand on his shoulder to comfort him.
"I am sorry that you had to recall such a painful memory, but as a novice of the faith, you know as well as I that it would be against our beliefs to put a man to death that did not know the reason for his punishment," his voice was the same as Ylin had heard in his dream-state.
Ylin sat in shock, tears flowing freely. From behind the High Justicar, he heard the rattling of keys and then a click before the heavy wooden door was swung open.
"I had feared that we would not break through your mind-block before the appointed hour. A few more minutes and we might not have."
The Justicar gave him a reassuring squeeze and then released him and stood away, as two guards came in from behind him to unshackle his hands and feet. They lifted him to his feet and caught him when he almost fell. His heart raced. Everything was happening so quickly.
Within minutes, Ylin was walking in the warm light of a high noon. He was taken through a courtyard and then a set of great wooden gates. More guards joined the procession as he was taken through a large crowd that had gathered in the cobbled streets to bear witness of his execution. Behind him, he heard the Justicar giving last rites as he was led up to the scaffold.
As he ascended the wooden steps of the platform, a fresh wave of agony from behind his left temple brought him to his knees. The guards mistook his sudden collapse as resistance and roughly jerked him to his feet and half dragged him the rest of the short distance to the block.
Ylin stood looking into the crowd of angry faces as the pronouncement of his sentence was read officially into record. He couldn't blame them for their rage. He deserved to die, if he had really killed his own father. Was there doubt about that? He could see in his mind's eye his father's lifeless body lying in a pool of his own blood even now. And there beside the body, lay his ivory handled mace--a gift given to him when he was anointed as a high priest.
The Justicar stood now in front of him, "Do you, Ylin Firetree, wish to confess before Theorin and these people what you have done that your soul might be unburdened?"
Ylin's gaze went to the priest's vestments. He stared incredulously at the gold embroidery of the man's stole then with his eyes still fixed on the symbol he pronounced loudly, "This isn't right! I could not have killed my father!"
"You did! Confess what you have done--that your soul will not be eternally damned." When Ylin did not look up, the priest grabbed his head with both hands and forced his eyes to meet his own and added again, "Confess!"
The man's strength was indomitable and his grasp renewed the white hot agony between Ylin's temples. He pulled Ylin uncomfortably close. Nearly nose to nose now, Ylin noticed the man's skin seemed mottled and gray.
Ylin grabbed at the Justicar's hands. He could not have guessed it by looking at the gaunt man how strong he was--it felt like his skull was going to crack under the pressure of his grip. He could feel the world fading fast to blackness around him. He thought that these might be his last moments.
"I did not murder my father," he screamed and fought with renewed effort. The Justicar's right hand finally came free with a nauseating gurgle--and then a pop? Blood streamed from the wound behind his left temple. The fingers of the man's left hand were still digging painfully into his skull.
Ylin jammed the palm of his hand into the insane priest's neck and pushed him an arm's length away. To his side, his fingers tightened around the haft of a weapon that was inexplicably absent only a moment before. He locked his gaze with the man's milky white eyes and brought the head of the mace in an upward arc, connecting solidly with the priest's jaw and sending his tormentor sprawling to the ground. At last, he was free of the man—no, the creature's--grasp.
The feeling of vertigo that washed over him in that moment as the creature fell was intense. This nightmare, he realized, was not real--or not entirely. The blue sky was consumed by a canopy of darkness, and the cobbled streets gave way to rocky outcroppings of stone. The truth of his peril came upon him swiftly. The manor had been an illusion wrapped in yet another illusion. But this abomination he fought was quite real. The holes it had drilled into his skull, those were real too.
Ylin took up his mace, which in the darkness shone with a light more brilliant and steady than any torch. He advanced on the undead thing before him. It rose to face him and he could see now that it was no man and the bloody appendages stuck in his head just a moment before were not fingers either.
Its tentacles writhed, obviously angry they had been denied their feast. Its mottled grey flesh had decayed and its milky-white eyes were devoid of life. The monster's beaklike mouth clacked and screeched.
Ylin narrowly dodged out of the way as a bolt of sizzling blackness whizzed by, piercing the air where his chest had been a moment before.
The creature raised its other hand, perhaps to try to blast him again, but Ylin rushed it, bowling it over. Perhaps pinning his opponent hadn't been the best of ideas, however. The writhing mass of tentacles immediately went to work burrowing into his skull. Ylin tumbled away, but the creature stayed with him, and ended the roll on top of him.
Where its clawed hands found gaps in his armor, Ylin's flesh went instantly frigid--its touch was colder than ice. Its unnatural touch numbed him, making it difficult to fight or even move.
Ylin summoned what courage and strength he had left to him, rebuking the creature in the name of his god. "Back! Get thee behind me, thing of evil! Theorin commands it!"
The monster withdrew from him instantly. Its rotting flesh was singed and smoking from the show of divine power. The agony it now felt was probably the first pain it had experienced in ages, but this was an undead of the worst sort. It could not be destroyed by an invocation of his faith alone.
This aberration, which resembled a horrid merging of a human with a squid like head, had been born like all of its kind with potent psionic powers. That alone allowed it to dominate or even slay a man with just force of will. This one, rare among its kind, had also mastered necromantic magic, which it had used to become the perversity Ylin now faced, neither dead, nor alive.
The lich-thing had only been briefly repelled. It spun around suddenly, tendrils of magic playing between its clawed fingers casting a greenish glow on its malevolent visage. It clicked and screeched and as it uttered the last syllables of its spell, stretched its clawed and skeletal finger towards him. A bolt of sickly green light shot from its outstretched finger.
As soon as he saw it turn and point, Ylin dove for cover behind a stalagmite but not quickly enough. The ray caught him in the shoulder of his shield arm, easily dissolving the plated armor he wore and the flesh beneath. The ray left a circular wound several fingers wide through and through, which oozed blood still sizzling and bubbling. Ylin's scream reverberated in the large cave, visibly bringing pleasure to his assailant.
"Theorin, turn your gaze upon my enemies. Light my way with your radiance that leaves no secret unrevealed," he cried out and jumped from behind the stony pillar. He had a few tricks of his own. From behind him, intensely bright light illuminated the entire cavernous chamber, seeming to frame his silhouette in an aura of white fire.
All was revealed to him. There in the cavern, not far away stood the short, but powerfully built white-bearded dwarf, Malamac. His well-worn axe lay at his side, discarded. Timidly peering out from behind his dwarven-companion, stood an even shorter and far more scholarly-built robed figure. His frizzy white hair and gold rimmed spectacles slipping down his nose identified him as Flindel. His friends, dwarf and gnome, stood unmoving, though seemingly uninjured. He'd never meant to face this horror alone, yet it seemed he had little choice.
The lich hissed its displeasure and struggled to keep its gaze upon him. A creature of darkness and death, the radiance burned at its eyes. Even though it shrunk back, Ylin knew still that in a straight battle of magic, he could not win.
Thankfully, it responded just as he'd hoped, uttering the arcane words Ylin recognized would summon magical darkness to cancel the divine light he'd conjured. No rays of disintegration would be coming his way for a few seconds at least. He took his opportunity readily and charged it with his exquisite ivory-handled mace held high.
The monster abandoned its casting with a hiss, and was able to lift its arm just in time to protect its bulbous head from the downward arcing blow. Even the most devastating of attacks would normally do little except irritate the lich-thing, but the instrument of Ylin's furious attack was no mere mace. A smile crossed Ylin's face as he heard the bones of the creature's forearm crack and break. The creature screeched madly, not from pain, but frustration as its skeletal forearm hung loosely by a few rotting sinews. Good, Ylin thought, at least now we're even.
Outrage evident in its milky dead eyes, the creature reacted with deadly speed, grabbing Ylin by the throat with its remaining clawed hand. Immediately, Ylin felt the other-worldly chill of its touch fast numbing his senses and then a rush of air as he was tossed bodily a few feet away. Without pause, the monster bore down upon him again, but Ylin had the presence of mind to bring up a boot and landed a powerful kick to its chest that sent it sprawling.
Seizing the opportunity, he came at it again, striking it full in the face as he passed. Momentum and strength combined in one overpowering blow that crushed its monstrous face, causing an eruption of putrescence, the smell of which made Ylin gag. The last words of the arcane spell died away on its beak like maw as the monster crumpled unceremoniously to its knees. Ylin called for divine strength and struck it again and once more until finally it lay unmoving on the cavern floor.
Seeing that the creature was at last dead, Ylin went straightaway to his friends. His left arm hung limp and useless at his side and the pain of his wounds was overwhelming, but he had to know that they were alright before he could tend to himself.
The light of his spell still illuminated the whole of the vast cavern revealing his companion's faces locked in expressions of horror and grief. Malamac was weeping, something he had never seen him do in all his years of traveling with the dwarf. The gnome's mouth was stretched wide in a silent and unending scream.
Ylin shook them and called their names, but nothing seemed to register. Still their eyes were each affixed on something that only they could see.
In his spell-driven nightmare, he had almost been beheaded. He wondered what would have happened if the entire illusion had played out? He imagined it was reasonable that if his mind believed him dead, perhaps the body would have followed. Ylin realized that even though the creature was destroyed, its hex could still very well kill his friends if it was not lifted.
Ylin closed his eyes and whispered a fervent prayer to his god, pleading that the spell would be broken and the illusion revealed to his friends and long time companions as it had been to him. A moment, long and tense, passed with no sign that the spell had been ended. At last, the dwarf gasped and the gnome, similarly released, let loose a high pitched squeal. Only then did Ylin breathe again, letting out a sigh of relief and a sincere prayer of thankfulness.
"What happened?" Malamac asked as he uncomfortably wiped tears from his eyes, leaving clean streaks on his otherwise grimy face.
Ylin explained how the undead mage-illithid had used some sort of spell that made him believe he was back more than a decade hence, somehow forgetting everything that had happened since that time and even the deadly opponent he and his companions had come here to slay. He told them of the visions that had corrupted his memory making him face his worst fear-- losing control. In reality, he hadn't murdered his father, but in the heat of the moment he had wanted to.
Malamac and Flin recalled their own terrors, each terrible and grim as his own.
"That was Weird," the gnome announced. The look of abject terror on his face a few moments before was replaced with an unusual elation.
"Aye, it was strange, runt, but I'd have to describe it as a wee bit more on the horrific side," the dwarf started to respond.
"No, it was Wierd. A spell called Weird," the diminutive gnome corrected. "Or at least, it was something very close to it. Some combination of psionic suggestion and arcane magic, I would guess. Very interesting," he added excitedly.
"Ya might have warned us ya know," Malamac snorted, determined to be angry at someone.
"Well, I didn't know he could do that! It's not like we ever fought one of those before."
As Malamac and Flin continued to argue, Ylin called once more to his god, summoning one of His greatest gifts. Golden light spilled from his hand as he rubbed it over his injured shoulder. The wound closed, leaving only a slight scar --another one that would never completely heal. There was nothing he could do for the wound that lay just under the surface left there by the guilt of his own internal struggle. He wondered if that scar would ever fade.
Ylin smiled as his companions settled into their usual bickering. At least they seemed none the worse for the ordeal.
"Anyway, how did you figure out that it was not real? I was completely fooled and I know the dumb dwarf didn't have a clue," Flin asked, not missing an opportunity to tease his friend.
Malamac growled obligingly in response.
"Two things, actually. I received this," Ylin presented his ivory hafted mace, "As a gift from the church when I was anointed as a Justicar. Yet, in my nightmare, it was the weapon I used to kill my father before I had even been accepted as a full priest; and why would a mere initiate be wearing a stole signifying such a high rank as Justicar? It didn't make any sense."
"Very smart of ya, lad," Malamac replied, not really impressed, but trying to be uncharacteristically polite. "So, now what?"
"Now, I think its time to go home. Theorin has shown me what I needed to see. I didn't realize how much I resented my father for trying to stop me from becoming a priest. I mean to end the schism that has long grown between us."
Malamac and Flin exchanged surprised glances. It wasn't often that Ylin admitted he was wrong about anything, particularly when it came to his family.
"Alright, let's be off then," Malamac said, giving Ylin a supportive, if not a little heavy, pat on the back.
The light of Ylin's spell finally dimmed as the trio made their way out of the Alhoon's lair and off on the long trek back to the Firetree Barony.