Jhain extinguished the candle in his room and fell into the hammock that served as his bed. It had been a quiet day, something to be thankful for with how ‘adventurous’ life had been recently. Making sure the wraps were tight on his hands, he settled in unsure what would happen.
Sleep came quickly and with it, dreams. Jhain was in the stone gazebo, looking out over the ‘Clear Pond of Splashing Carp’ that was just outside the temple grounds. It was as beautiful as he remembered. The waterfall filled his ears and nostrils with memories. He closed his eyes; a smile crossing his lips as he felt something he hasn’t in a long time. Peace.
“You made it!” Startled, Jhain opened his eyes to see his master standing on the water with his hands clasped behind his back. “Part of me wondered if you’d make it back!”
There was a pregnant pause as Jhain took in the situation. “Is that truly you, Master? You’re dead…”
Ader laughed and waved a hand. “Death is but a door! I’ll teach you about that someday…but how about something simple today?”
Jhain stood dumbfounded. He took a couple cautious steps forward and paused. He had seen enough in his travels to know this could be an illusion or trick of some sort. His gut told him it was real. Tears welling up in his eyes, Jhain ran into the pond, fish darting away as he splashed his way to his master. Jhain wrapped his arms around his master’s legs as emotion took over. All the suffering and grieving he hadn’t been able to process gushed out at once. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there…” Allowing himself to sink into the water, Ader smiled like a parent watching their child cry.
“IwantedsomuchtotellyouabouteverythingthathashappenedtomeImetsomereallycoolpeopleandfoughtsomestrangecreaturesandundeadanddemonsandtherewadevenFurgasonetimeandthenthewholethingwithDi’ahandIblastedaslugcreatureintoanotherdimensionandmushroomsthatmadeusseestuff.” Jhain couldn’t decide where to start through all the emotion. After several minutes of crying, he was able to get ahold of himself. With puffy eyes he looked at his master. “I’m glad to see you too, Jhain.”
They sat on the edge of the gazebo with their feet in the water and Master Ader filled Jhain in on how he died. “After I ordered everyone to evacuate, I drew the attackers into the Middlestar Courtyard.” Ader licked his lips and grimaced as he relived the memory and shook his head. “So much senseless destruction…Di’ah and two of her associates followed me to the courtyard. I didn’t hear any more fighting, so I assumed this was all that remained of their fighting force.” Ader straightened himself and continued. “Di’ah went on for a bit about the power she had achieved before the other two attacked me.” There was a pause in the story. Jhain sat quietly, focused on his master’s words. “Their energy felt…dark. Chaotic. Chaos and destruction have their place. Balance in all things, you know the texts.” Ader dismissively waved a hand. “Yet this was unlike anything I had felt before. Chaos for the sake of chaos, Jhain. They weren’t after knowledge or any of the treasures of the temple…just wanton destruction. I was able to kill the two fairly easily. Di’ah finally decided to get serious and I underestimated her new powers.” Master’s lips turned to a thin line as he relived his defeat with a sigh. “But! She also underestimated me! I may be old, but I still have tricks up my sleeve. Her pride was so great, she told me her exact plans, as I was no longer a threat. I attached my spirit to the handwraps you have now.” A coy smile crept onto his lips.
“And now we are here!” Ader clapped a hand onto Jhain’s back. “Tell me how you defeated her!”