Twelve - In which we get ready for storytimeMature

"What?" Noman balked at the suggestion. "No," he shook his head. 

Mayrin frowned a little. "But Noman-"

"No!" he snapped, using his free hand to point accusingly at her. "You have no idea what you're asking. The last time people had to die! I had to kill them!"

She stepped to one side and gestured towards the stone marker, its surface still stained with old blood. "I know exactly what you had to do," she told him. "And I know exactly what I'm asking. I'm asking you to help save a God!"

"Save a God," he snorted and turned away from her. "What sort of God needs saving? If he's in that much trouble there's nothing we mere mortals can do for him."

"But that's just it," Mayrin argued. "You're not some lowly mortal, Noman. You're a Champion! If Airea could give you the power and knowledge to breach the barrier once she can give it to you again."

"And what if I don't want it?" he demanded.

"You need to find Aelar just as much as we do." Noman took a few steps away from her, ready to leave and be done. "You saved the world once," she tried again. "You could have let it end, but you didn't. If you don't help us now it will be just as bad as if you'd done nothing."

"Oh?" he growled. "And how's that?"

"You remember the Gods and their stories, don't you?" He nodded tersely. "Then you remember Aelar gave us magic. Magic that's been slowly fading ever since the Old Gods left us. If Aelar dies his gift goes with him. Magic will be gone. Imagine what will happen when we have to fight demons without it?"

"We've been doing well enough. All you need to kill a demon is iron." Though if he was honest he couldn't be entirely sure. If he hadn't closed the portal above the Ivory Tower, the army would have been slaughtered at Marsten. Would anybody have been able to stop the Incursion then?

"Then think of your new purpose here," she urged. "Airea needs you to find Aelar so he can help fight the Corrupted God. To get to him, you need to get through his barrier."

"It's not that easy," he sighed. "If Jesra knows all that then she knows the stone is gone. What does she expect me to do?"

Maryin seemed caught by surprise. "Who?" she asked.

"Jesra," Noman repeated, hesitant now. He'd simply assumed that the woman who'd invaded his dream was the leader of Mayrin's Exiled. If she wasn't... well, Noman couldn't think of any good that would come of having another side to all of this.

"I don't know who that is," Mayrin admitted. "If you mean to say she's the one giving us all of the information about you and the Gods, it isn't her. Elessa is the one who receives the visions. Who is this Jesra?"

"That's not important right now," he waved away the question. 

"Noman, Aelar-"

"I know, gods' damn it, I know." He hefted the iron sword, ground his teeth in frustration, then sheathed it. He found a nearby rock to sit on and rubbed his face. "Look, I'm going to need to hear more before I even think about agreeing to anything. So start talking. What's beyond Aelar's barrier, aside from the Old God himself? Why did he wall himself off, and why is he dying? What kind of trouble are we talking about? Is it demons again, or something worse? And what the hell is with you Exiled people, anyway?"

Mayrin found a thick patch of grass nearby and settled onto it, legs crossed. "Fair enough," she told him. "I'll tell you what I know."


The End

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