I hated it, but Creed was right. He was right in suggesting that I jump off a cliff and plummet 1000 feet into a pit of liquid hot lava. I knew he was right the moment I heard him say it.
I had no time to gather my resolve. I had no time to suggest a different, more logical course of action. It had to be done right then.
Rykson steadily held out the cup of life. It was full to the brim of the most delicious water ever. I could see entirely too much of the whites of his eyes as I ran by. That’s when I realized that he was as scared as I was. He was strong though. His jaw was firmly set and in spite of his fear, he remained focused on the cup and less on the Cadaver Lord that was about to kill him. In some ways, I had it easier. I just had to fall to my death… he and Kongo were sure to die in agony on one of the Cadaver Lord’s spikes.
I at least had the presence of mind to conceal our plan from the Cadaver Lord by using the heart of Terek to conjure a cloud of dense fog that restricted its vision. I grabbed the cup from Rykson as I ran past him and over the ledge.
I was so afraid that I couldn’t even remember my spells. I knew my body was still alive and therefore I was connected to the mortal coil, but I couldn’t be sure that my soul would survive suicide.
As soon as I got over the edge of the cliff, the heat hit me. It was so intense that I wasn’t sure that my fire resistance would keep me from burning to a crisp before I fell all the way to the bottom. I grasped the cup to my chest because I didn’t want the water to spill or evaporate. I am not a praying kind of man, but a little prayer escaped my lips then: “Please let this work”.
I spun so that I was falling back first. This was the most logical position for me because my body could shield the cup from at least some of the heat. I would not spill the water. Never had a purpose been so urgent to me. The heat threatened to overcome me, but I would not spill the water.
My green sash streamed up from me. It was starting to burn at the ends. I noticed that the looser threads burned more easily. This bothered me because the sash had the same protections that I did. Did this also mean that my hair was burning? Normally, my hat would protect my hair, but it floated above me and seemed to be rising on the heat. I’ll miss that hat. I got it from Mr. Shareen on my 15th birthday after I helped him hunt for some deer.
The heat seemed to concentrate on the back of my neck. The pain was so intense, that I nearly started to fight against my descent. For the briefest of moments, I considered trying a spell to teleport away, but I fought down that panic and maintained my hold on the cup. I would not spill the water.
Why was Lissa here? Why hadn’t she crossed over yet? She was still wearing the magitite necklace! Did she know what it was? I thought she was afraid of me after learning that I could use magic… thought that I was possessed because this is what we were taught as kids. But she gave up eternal peace to wait for me, so she truly loved me still. I started crying, thinking to myself: “Lissa, I should never have left you! I left you to die on that island!” I shouted out, “Lissa, I love you! Ascend and be free of this place!”
The Cadaver Lord was too powerful, but I thought that we could kill it with the right tactics. I wondered if it could leave the Cauldron. If not, we could always engage it in combat and then step out to where it could not follow as needed. We had done some significant damage to it and if the rest of the Seekers managed to kill it, then I would have jumped to my death for no purpose.
If they killed the Cadaver Lord before I died, I would have come back to haunt Creed! At least, he could have kept me company in my death… much the same way he did with Eli.
I thought about starting to worship Allod. His artifacts had power over the denizens of this plane. Even Zym claimed that the araphm was the only thing that held power over him. In the face of such evidence, it’s hard to not recognize Allod, but still… why would a god want to be bothered with worship? Maybe the gods aren’t as powerful as everyone thinks.
Whatever. I am a good man and if the gods couldn’t accept that, then they don’t deserve to shepherd my soul. Still, I worried about what would happen to my soul after I died. Would I be able to ascend even though I don’t have a god? Would Lissa and I ever be able to ascend to the same place? “Lissa!”
My leather boot laces were melting. Would I, like my bootlaces, melt before burning up? Am I already burning? I couldn’t see anything anymore but I knew that I had the cup of life clasped to my chest. I would not spill the water.
I tried to hold a position from which I would fall straight down. I didn’t want to have the course of my fall changed by an updraft or my coat. It seemed to work because I felt like I was falling faster.
The heat was pure agony, which reminded me of a bottle of stuff we found in the house under Gentry. My muscles threatened to lose their function and I felt my skin being cooked and peeled away. I thought I could see the tendons of my right hand. At least I hadn’t lost my grip on the cup. I didn’t know how I was still alive, but I would not spill the water. Even if I burn away to ashes, my hand would maintain its hold on this cup. I would not fail.
I didn’t understand how I could be in so much pain. It seemed as if the nerves should be burned away.
Was this really happening? I couldn’t remember anything anymore. There was only the heat and the cup. Was I really falling or was I already dead? I spun to face down. The heat found new parts of my body to torture. I wanted to scream out in pain, but if I opened my mouth, I was afraid that the heat would burn my lungs. I need to hang on for just a moment more.
I opened my eyes to face my death. It was beautiful. The lava bubbled up all over the surface. Occasionally, a bubble would move erratically across the surface and then pop. The cinders from the popped bubbles rose past me so quickly, yet I was still able to make out some incredible details. I could see the molten stone cooling around pockets of air creating the most fantastic shapes.
I got one last glimpse of the lava pool before I lost my vision to the heat. I didn’t feel the heat anymore and I wasn’t even sure I was alive. The pain had at least served as a reminder that I was still alive. Somehow, I realized that I still had a firm grip on the cup. I would not spill the water.
I screamed out, “Mother! I’m sorry I never looked for you!” Then I realized that I didn’t want my final words to be an apology, so I screamed with surprising volume, “Seekers!”
My last breath was gone. My arm muscles faltered and started to fall forward with the cup. I heard a shout in my head: “Tudor!! Never give up!”
I did not give up. I felt a little spray in my face as the water poured out of the cup. I panicked briefly thinking that all the water would evaporate before any fell into the lava, but something changed and I could feel it to my core. For a brief moment, I felt very cold, not at all what I’d expected just before plunging into lava.
I knew that I got some water in the lava. My death would not be for naught. I would not have to torture Creed. I would die gloriously in a bright flash of light as I splashed into the lava.
The heat and lava disappeared instantly leaving stone in their place. There was no glorious death… no great splash into the lava. I don’t even remember hitting the stone. One moment I was falling and the next, I was with the rest of the Seekers in front of the Gray Lord. We did it.
The joy at our success is blunted by thoughts of Lissa and my mother. I hope my mother ascended and I hope that Althos keeps his promise to tell Lissa to ascend.