Letter of Marsys Lightouch to her mother, Readying 17th, 636 CY
From Adventurers To Heroes
I think, that sometimes it takes meeting a god to know how wonderful your parents are. Because, all in all, even the mother goddess of all Halflings did not seem better than you and dad. I know that might sound like blasphemy to the Paladin in you but a compliment to the mother. I am not sure…if the two are any different. I am not saying she was not awesome and amazing. Radiant and loving. But..I am saying…that I just started this letter by saying I met Yondalla without telling you how. Ok. Bad on me. Let me move back some.
I’m including a copy of my adventure journal entry that explains the reason why we found ourselves in Celestia. As I said upon regaining consciousness I found myself in a room with Yondalla…our goddess. Our conversation is for your knowledge only, eventually it will be for the ears of my friends. But not until later.
I wanted to fall down and bow to her, but I knew that is not her way. I was that overcome by her presence that I almost did it anyhow. But then I remembered the windswept madness of Pandemonium, the sadness in Will’s eyes that she tries to hide when she thinks about her friend, Jevan trying to pretend like he does not miss home every second, Loreli’s detachment from all of us and poor Tul1a’s messed up crazy eyed sister. And I missed you so much at that moment that it overrode my desire to bow to our goddess and found myself hugging her as a replacement for you.
She held me tightly and, without my explaining my thoughts, said: “It happens dear..all the time. I give hugs for all parents.”
I stepped back, “So I’m not dead?”
She smiled, “No little one…not dead. But called to witness something.”
There was a sadness in her eyes. A loss. I have never been able to deal with loss in the eyes of those I love. And the loss in her eyes was deep…vast. It was as if each loss was an infinity of pain and she had suffered multiple infinities. I tried to think of what could possibly cause The Mother so much pain. Then I realized.
“Yellow eye. I’m about to find out what happened to the souls lost to yellow eye.” I was filled with a panic and started to cry. “I don’t want to know that. I don’t need…” I stopped. “I do need to know it, don’t I?”
“No other way?”
She shook her head.
I motioned to the door. “Then before I run away. We should get going.”
The green fields are beautiful, Mother. And even though at first I could not appreciate the beauty because of my fear at our destination, it slowly filled my soul. It grew and grew until I experienced pure joy at being in the Green Fields. Life surrounded me. Life happening. Halflings in paradise, running…playing, cooking, gardening. Each family with a home, a place. Families enjoying themselves as families for all eternity. Contentment, rest…peace…love. It made the slow juxtaposition of the growing silence all the more horrifying. I looked up and saw we were headed for a rising hilltop. As we got closer some of the families seemed less happy. Something was missing. There was still joy, great love…but absence. And absence that seemed…in this place to be a living wound. We got to the hilltop and I looked into the empty valley. Empty houses. Waiting houses. Houses prepared for families that never made it home. No smoke from chimneys. No picnics. No play or love or joy…just emptiness. I looked at The Mother.
“I have to go down there, don’t I?”
“You do, yes.”
“But you’re coming with me.”
She frowned, “No. No, I’m not. I can not go there.”
“Can’t or won’t” I asked.
She looked at me. So sadly. “Must not”
I understood, even though I didn’t. I asked her, “What can I do? I’m just an adventurer.”
She kissed me on my forehead. “You and your friends ceased being adventurers a long time ago child, if that’s indeed what you ever were.”
“So what are we?”
She pointed to the valley of death in heaven, “Heroes. Now go, before I stop you. I do not envy anyone who goes there.”
So I headed, alone for the first time in my life, into that place of absence. Halflings are never alone. We have Yondalla with us always. But not here. In hell, yes. In Pandemonium, yes. But here even she could not bear to go…or could not go…or must not go. Because if she did, she would weep and if she wept our world would end. The paradise of halflings would crash down like a mountaintop on fire. And all we were would end.
But I did not feel alone. I still felt her, but differently. I felt her love not as a kind mother, but as rage and vengeance. The love of the robbed, the scorned, the shattered…all seeking retribution. But, it was comforting in its’ discomfort. Because I was not alone. But it was not her, but it was. And stories I thought were myth played at the edges of my memory.
I passed the empty buildings. I walked through silence deeper than visible darkness. It kept going. And going. And I started counting. I needed to know…how many really? How many our of the 5,100 were missing? How many never made it home? How many resided in that abominable vestige?
I saw a woman walking through the empty silence. A beautiful halfling with dark hair in blacks and purples…striding confidently with both anger and sadness through the empty streets.
And then, mother, I saw her face. The legends are true. What we speak of to no one outside of other Halflings…is real. Her face was that of the Mother goddess. It was the face of Yondalla…but it was not her, but it was. It was Dallah Thaun, the dark mother. Split from Yondalla at her creation to do the things the Mother can not and remain the Mother. Yondalla comforts those who have had a relative murdered, Dallah Thaun brings vengeance and retribution. Yondalla preaches hospitality and moderation so there is food, Dallah Thaun will steal it from the other races to feed halflings. She is the dark mother. The aspect of motherhood that will kill and seek vengeance and do anything to protect her children. She and Yondalla are not different people but the same. Not the same person but distinct. They do not conflict. Do not disagree. Each does what must be done.
I was face to face with the Lady of Mysteries. She who may or may not be. Dallah Thaun. Chaotic. Neutral. Cold and burning…only the care and preservation of the halflings matters to her.
She looked around, “You want to know how many, Marsys? Two thousand. Two thousand of my children in that wretched monster.“
She looked at the empty houses. “These places should be full of life. Full of joy. Do you want to help me?”
It was not a question by any means. I nodded.
“Free them. And anyone involved with this…the church that did it, the man who controls them still..those who would profit from their pain….punish them. Rip Batholomew’s beating heart from his chest.“
I must have looked sick at the thought because she came closer and put her hands on my shoulders and pulled me into an embrace.
“I know, I know how hard it is to be the weapon. How hard it is to do what must be done. To be the one who must destroy to protect. Even when what we destroy is evil…it is still death. And you must bring death. You must bring justice…cold and unrelenting. Yes my daughter, save the world. But remember your first mission is to free your brothers and sisters from the vestige and rain death on those who did this.”
I looked up at her; and she was crying. Yondalla could not weep. But Dallah Thaun, in rage and sorrow, could.
“The last thing you will do is go to the Isles of Woe, but right before that you must go to the Tomb of Acerack and find the way to destroy the vestige. Do not go before you are ready or you will die.“
I nodded and hugged her tightly. I left, walking back toward the rest of the Green Fields. I knew I would have to lie to my friends for the time being. We do not speak of the dark mother to non-halflings, but I may have to. I have been given a divine charge of retribution. And I can not say it is hard for me to smile at the thought of carrying some of it out.