Or perhaps more accurately, nothingness.
Lor exists in a torpor, waiting. Waiting for anything. But then again, why does it matter? Death is timeless. So she waits.
Peering around as if expecting to see something, she sees and feels nothing. Try as she might, the passion she felt in life has left. Nothing remains. Just a soul floating in an inky blackness. Devoid of feeling and lacking any semblance of purpose.
It feels like just yesterday that she was alive with the passion for knowledge and adventure. It seems strange now that none of that matters. Eventually the Mother of Souls will pluck her spirit from this blackness and deem it ready to move in some direction.
“Anywhere but here will be better. Something is better than nothing, and anything has to be better than this,” she thinks to herself. Yet the silence persists, looming. Her mind begins to race.
Lor’s thoughts and feelings in life rush back to her. Turtleback Ferry, the town she promised to help. Her friends Seris, Rickben, Bahram, Renza. And even Krac.
The monster and his hook…
Suddenly Lor is standing, the sound of the ocean churning in the distance. Her thoughts immediately jump to “where am I? Am I alive?”
She looks down at her cloak. It’s clean. She peels it back only to see her chest unmarred by any wound. Not even a scar. Panicking, she pulls her shirt open to examine her torso. Again no scars. Not a single one from any of her countless injuries. Not even from Xanesha’s insidious spear.
Still dead. Or rather, not alive..
She collapses to her knees and sobs, unable to do anything else. Her cries are silent and make no noise, the only sound to be heard is the ocean, rhythmically swishing in the distance.
Lor looks up after collecting herself to examine around the room. A table, but no chairs, stands in the center of the room. It appears to have been a conference or meeting room, however the outside wall has been shorn away by some sort of violent force. An earthquake? Or a tsunami? She walks to the edge of the room and looks out to find herself on top of, or near the top of a mountain. The sea massages the beaches far below as she stares out at the horizon.
She turns back towards the room to find Hopkins staring back at her. Lor gasps silently at the sight, and the little weasel chitters back. He then rears up on his hind legs as hot magma spills out through cracks in the floor, coalescing around the table. Lor, suddenly feeling lightheaded, loses her balance as starbursts of white hot light pulsate in the air around her. The little weasel’s body distorts and bulges before her eyes. His little bones snap and puncture his hide, bright orange magma spurting out of the wounds. Lor screams silently as the weasel’s face cracks and reforms into a sickening scowl, his fur burns red and flows around the now humanoid face. A booming voice, speaking in Thassilonian, shakes the room.
“My machinations are not yet complete. You cannot perish before annihilating Karzoug.”
Lor shudders under the weight of the woman’s voice.
“He cannot obtain what I could not. I will not allow it! You shall be my avatar of destruction. I have already bestowed upon you a tiny morsel of my power. Can you not feel how my fire flows through you!?”
The face becomes more pronounced and nothing remains of Hopkins. The magma that had been filling the room finally coalesces into a humanoid woman’s form. She thrusts her hands skyward.
A pillar of flame erupts from the sky outside.
“WITNESS MY WRATH!”
A second pillar of searing flame and lava flies from the sky outside, the clouds now black and ashy with dark energy. The woman’s voice booms with the force of thunder.
“My power is yours! Use it to eradicate Greed!”
A vicious shower of fire and electricity erupts outside, seemingly from everywhere at once.
“End him so that I may taste his anguish.”
The runelord produces a bright red gem and hurls it at the floor. Lor glances down at the glowing symbol as it explodes with violent energy, hurling Lor out of the room and into the roiling firestorm.
The surging flames embrace her, pulling her into their depths. They engulf her body, the storm’s wrathful energies tearing at her soul. A lick of fire hits her in the chest, tearing her open and sending her hurtling towards the earth below.
Lor watches helplessly as the ground races towards her. She tries to fly, to levitate, anything to slow her fall, but nothing works. She hits a tree branch on the way down, impaling herself and tearing it from the trunk with the impact. She finally hits the ground with a sickening wet crunch as wildlife scurries in all directions.
White hot agony surges through her entire body and the grass around her smolders as the forest is consumed by the firestorm raging above. Despite the destruction, a stag stands against the chaos and approaches Lor’s prone form, stopping to stand at her side.
The stag leans foward and dips its antlers into a nearby bush and Lor stares wide-eyed as the stag retrieves a ghostly and limp version of herself. Unable to move, she watches as the stag lowers the image onto her broken body, and with a rush of wind, fire, and emotion, the world collapses around her and she opens her eyes with a start.
Maelin Shreed stands over her, chanting some words she cannot comprehend and passing a smoking bundle over her corpse. Lor gasps for air so sharply she squeaks.
She blinks quickly and sweeps the room.
“What happened? Where am I? Where is Seris? Rickben?”
Lor stammers so quickly she trips over her words and coughs.