Shadows of Nibarra
Entrance to the Monastery
Abbot Carantock’s raven-feathered robes rustled as he considered the bedraggled elf through the specular. The supplicant had been outside the gate for the past three days, fasting, mortifying his flesh, and awaiting the decision of the Order. He would either be admitted as a novice, or sent back down the torturous mountain path to find his own destiny. From the look of him, the Abbot suspected he would not survive the journey back down to the valley floor. The elf’s clothes were filthy and tattered, and entirely unsuitable to the frigid winds swirling about the monastery, and his sunken face indicated that he had perhaps been involuntarily fasting for some time prior to arriving at the gates.
“He claims a vision of the Queen brought him here?” Carantock asked Cellarer Aidan.
“Yes, Abbot. After some sort of personal tragedy. He was unspecific.”
“Hmm.” The Abbot suspected the Cellarer was deliberately omitting details, hoping to see the supplicant unceremoniously turned away, but no matter. “I will speak with him. You may return to your duties.”
The Cellarer bowed and shuffled away silently. The Abbot watched the supplicant a moment longer, then spoke into the tube that would carry his voice to the starving creature outside.
“What do you seek from the Queen?” The Abbot had heard the generalities already, but the ritual must be observed. The elf’s face briefly registered surprise at the sudden voice, then hardened into a mask of determination.
“I come from my home, where my family was slaughtered. I seek to deliver justice on those responsible.”
“Justice? The Wings of the Queen pass over the righteous and the corrupt alike, without judgment. You seek in the wrong house for justice.”
The elf paused for a moment. “Vengeance, then.”
“The Queen has little need of vengeance. Some have sought to defeat her, but all have failed. Her vengeance is in her patience. Friend or foe, all come to join her in the end. Your need for vengeance is not hers.”
“But they must die for what they did!”
“What is that to our Queen? All things that live must die. Nothing you can do will affect the inevitability of their death. So what do you seek from the Queen?”
The elf’s face barely concealed panic now – he could sense that he was failing this first test. He looked away from the gate for a moment, just as one of the keep’s sacred ravens swooped down upon a small rodent at the base of the wall. The Abbot watched the supplicant consider this portent for a moment. When the elf returned his gaze to the gate, the calm determination had returned.
“I seek to be the instrument of their death.”
The Abbot smiled.
“Then you seek to be an instrument of the Queen, for death comes only as she wills it. All destinies great or small end under her shadow. Without malice, yet without pity, she will make all of us come unto her. She offers us, her mortal servants, only the knowledge that our service to her is as the sun rising, the tides changing, or the moon waning. Inevitable as her embrace itself, your destiny has brought you here. Enter, Novice, and be forever changed.”
The gates swung silently open, and Kellister stepped into the darkened entryway.