The Priest at Pravat Cave
By: Marlanda Banaen
Many aislings have tales to tell of their days as an aisling, outlining the events that they have experienced. Possibly the most traumatic and heroic event I ever witnessed occurred during the time that I was still a mundane child. What I witnessed this dark night was not only a tragedy, but lifted my spirits, for some aislings truly care for the world around them, and the mundanes and aislings who inhabit it. I feel that this indeed is a tale that should be told, as one can learn much about the capabilities of aislings, both good and evil. It is a story of aisling victory over dark creatures, a story of aislings fighting against each other, a story of the young aislings and mundanes that lost their lives and a story of a girl who lost faith in her heroes. I was raised to believe that every aisling is a hero, a champion to save the mundanes from the encroaching darkness that surrounds our land. This is the night that not only I learned differently, but three aislings learned this horrifying lesson as well. Their words are here as well, as I have begged them to tell me all they knew and saw of the event in order to complete my writing. As a mundane, I lacked the ability to tell this story. As an aisling, I am gifted with the ability to permanently remind all aislings and mundanes of what we, as aislings, are capable of. If even one aisling or mundane learns from this story, it will have been well worth it.
One dark night, within the Ceannlaidir Temple, two aislings were arguing: Soth, a Ceannlaidir priest, and Imajica, a warrior of Cail. There is nothing really unusual with this kind of behavior between the two, as close examination of their friendship would find that they argue continuously, and enjoy it quite a bit. Not even Soth remembers why the two were arguing that night, other than to shrug and say; "It was funny". Soth received a frantic call from a friend at Pravat cave. It seems that Sgrios summoners had decided to sew chaos there in Pravat with a few Succubi they had called forth. As I learned from Soth later, this was no big deal. At the time, summons were a frequent occurrence, and the Sgrios trinity had just communed with their Gods. Little did either aisling know what they were in for, as Imajica checked her weapon and Soth grabbed reds from the Piet bank. Immediately, they were running for Pravat, intent on battling the creatures within. The scene that confronted the two upon their arrival was truly horrible. The stench of death was everywhere, little sets of aisling armors lying amongst piles of red potions and gold surrounded them on the ground. They counted three Succubi in all, being healed by three formidable high insight priests. Samael, Sammul and Ginger were cursing aislings who dared challenge the creatures, as others aislings such as Taliesien threw aislings and blocked them from being pulled from unconsciousness by the beothaich deum potions administered by the various aislings trying to destroy the creatures. Some of the aislings were laughing about the horrible scene, with each death declaring, "One more down, two- hundred more to go…" In response to this scene, Soth’s only statement was "It was an atrocity in the eyes of Ceannlaidir."
I was on my way out of the caves, and greeted by the same sights as Imajica and Soth. I froze in my fear, not knowing what to do. I looked up, and Soth shouted at me to go back inside as he started chanting a protective spell. I turned and ran, crouching behind the stone wall, peeking outside at the horrors that were taking place. In such a scene as this, I have learned that many aislings would have turned and run and this would have been the best course of action for most. For a handful of aislings present, this was not an option. I looked to the young girl, bedecked in a warrior’s armor who ran into the fray. She chose a creature being attacked by a monk named Drakkarim. The battle was fierce as they tried desperately to kill the creature being healed by Samael. Soth tells me he had always considered Imajica to be a weak warrior by the standards of Ceannlaidir, but was surprised that night. She grew angry, angrier than Soth had ever seen her before. Most aislings have a spark in their eyes that we mundanes see. Looking into that aisling’s eyes, I saw a blaze of fire that I had never seen before. She shouted at Samael to stop, but he laughed it off and cursed her. She grew silent for a moment, and suddenly members of her motley, Aingeal Aire started arriving. Bedazzled at the sight of even more aislings joining the fray, I continued to watch what I thought would be a hopeless battle. Even then I knew that a Succubus is relatively easy to dispatch, given the skills of the aislings involved. Unfortunately, the Succubus Imajica and Drakkarim had engaged was being healed by Samael, a priest with divine heal. This priest was also an old friend of Imajica’s, and Soth his subordinate in the hierarchy of the Ceannlaidir fellowship. Not only were they to fight a Succubus, they were to fight a Succubus being blessed and healed by one of the most powerful priests in the realm.
Soth, at the time a young priest, told me of his feelings as they fought that night. "I never expected Imaj to come out of that in one piece. Could you imagine explaining to your brother that his wife had met Sgrios? Or even why she met Sgrios? Trinity is not a violent man; he’s a monk, a tree hugger. He’d beat me first, then go after whomever was responsible." I watched Soth struggle to heal Imajica, casting beothaich when she threatened to pass out, handing her hydele potions so she could stay alive, and exhausting his faith to protect her with Ceannlaidir’s mightiest blessings. Aislings and mundanes, who stumbled upon this scene died quickly, put to sleep by Ginger. Most of Imajica’s motley was incapable of helping much, and several met Sgrios that night as well. I remember three priests, however, who came to assist the aislings fighting. Paladine, Allita, and Feena came to test their mettle against Samael. Another priestess, Ginger, ran to Samael’s side to assist him and fight off the priests who were trying to stop him. Imajica continued to battle the Succubus, as I hid behind the wall and watched. Soth, exhausted, told Imajica he had to get Trinity to help her. Running as fast as he could for home, Soth quickly told Trinity what was going on. Soth says "I had not seen my brother run that fast since Imaj tangled with a servitor in Astrid, during the Eulogy." Trinity, a Draco form monk at the time, ran for Pravat.
The battle continued at Pravat, the other Succubus having finally been killed, leaving the one Imajica continued to fight. An aisling came running towards Imajica, a monk with a red ponytail. Imajica had been pinned against the wall by the foul creature, bringing the battle within two paces of my hiding space. I was frantic, wanting to retreat into the cave, but fascinated by this new aisling that had showed up. He fought through the crowd of aislings to his wife, and handed her more hydele potions. He made it just in time, as she looked ready to collapse. Drakkarim’s wife, Twila, and Trinity joined to fight the last succubus engaged by Imajica and Drakkarim. The monks fought to keep the succubus’ back turned to Imajica. As I watched her strike the creature, her bramble shattered. Samael and Ginger continued to bless and heal the creature as the aislings fought, cursing those who sought to dispatch it to the realm from which it came. Imajica drew a battlesword, and kept swinging. There were aisling guards present now, trying to banish Samael and Ginger, but they stood on neutral territory. This turned out to be a futile attempt to stop the evil priests. Paladine and Allita, almost exhausted, continued healing those still fighting and trying to put Samael and Ginger to sleep. Finally, the monks managed to move the succubus away from Imajica, freeing her from the corner that she had been trapped. All of a sudden, the creature started to weaken. I watched as aislings worked frantically to keep Samael and Ginger asleep as the group of fighters managed finally to kill the Succubus. As that dark creature hit the ground, Imajica collapsed, falling on top of it. Fear for the life of an aisling moved me from the space that I had been hiding for hours as I dashed out, giving her the bit of honey I had found in the gardens earlier that day. The priestess Ginger cursed Imajica and me but ran as soon as Trinity cast a spell that hurt her.
I surveyed the scene around me as Trinity and another monk, LeGalle, picked Imajica up from where she had fallen. What a hollow victory this must have been for the aislings that had fought so hard. Many had met Sgrios in the great battle, and were finally returning to pick up their things. The aislings priests were attending to the injured, and I wondered if anyone would remember these brave aislings who fought that night. Imajica awakened finally, in the arms of her husband and surrounded by family and friends. Seeing the devastation that surrounded her, she cried. I had never seen an aisling cry before, and realized that she did not cry for herself, but the others who had not survived. As I stood with this group of aislings, Sgrios summoners called forth more creatures. Those who had just arrived on the scene quickly dispatched them. More curious now than frightened, I followed Trinity and Imajica to Mileth to watch my first aisling trial. Xilan, judge of Mileth, was to review all witness testimony and memories to determine what Samael’s punishment would be. As I stood next to them in the makeshift courtroom, Soth appeared and stood beside me. Never once did these aislings seem to realize that I was a mundane, nor did they care. Surrounded by guards and witnesses, I watched the trial proceed. Samael lied, trying to say he had healed the Succubus by mistake, accidentally cursing the aislings fighting it. When Xilan refused to believe this, based on guard reports, Samael became hateful and unreasonable. Imajica, still weak and leaning on Trinity, was called forth to testify. If I had thought her brave for her actions at Pravat, what came next was even more impressive than swinging a sword. Standing before the assembled group of aislings, and facing Samael, she spoke. "I have always respected Samael, and I thought of him as a friend. He not only promised to kill every aisling in the realm, he healed and blessed the Succubus. He cursed any aisling who engaged it, and put many of us to sleep in an effort to help it kill us." She said these words without hatred; sounding more like her heart was broken. Xilan, as acting judge of Mileth, decreed Samael was guilty. His punishment was to be exile by the Mileth demagogues. Soth whispered as judgment was passed, " It disgusts me to see Samael act like a petty Sgrios summoner. He has shamed the name of Ceannlaidir and deserves to be tossed to his true master, Sgrios. Let him rot with that which he adores."
To this day I cannot say whether I agree with Soth or Xilan on the judgment of Samael. I was far too young at the time to have an opinion, and still am to this day. I know that to this very day Imajica and Trinity run when a Succubus has been summoned, with the rest of their family not far behind. It casts a shadow upon my heart to know that this ever occurred in this realm that we live in. What is even more unfortunate is that these acts are more frequent now than they ever were before. To the aislings that saved me that night as a mundane, and the aislings that took me in once I was blessed with Deoch’s touch to become an aisling, I am forever in their debt. As aislings, we are the light that burns bright in the mundanes lives, and the saviors of Temuair. When an aislings turns to murdering their own, they not only hurt other aislings, they hurt the mundanes who work hard to care for us, and the Gods that bless us with wonderful gifts. What a loss it was to see someone who was so well respected turn to evil actions. It is even more so a loss to see such acts of bravery and love go unnoticed over time. Because of this, I carry a deep amount of respect for any aisling or mundane. Without them, we would have no future, and our world would fall to entropy and darkness.