Judgement

In the living quarters that used to be Jaro's, a spirit hovered. There had never been one like it before, and there would never be one again, as soon as its mission was complete. It watched a small group of people. From the dragon souled he sensed nothing but loss, and that was useless for him. Any other time, the Climboar and most certainly the dragon would have noticed him, but the loss seemed to blind them, so they were harmless if useless. It searched for the link they said bound Elementar and Jaro together, but it wasn't there. Elementar was completed, and the thing searched for another track. It spied the two mortals, and it studied them closely, sensing a strong worry flowing out, a worry for their friend Jaro. The creature would have smiled if it had a mouth. It had been looking for Jaro quite some time. It followed the stream of worry flowing to Jaro, grateful that there was a real track at last. Omri turned his head. He thought he sensed something, but there was nothing there. He turned back to the others. Elementar was still in sword shape, so he couldn't speak without one of the mortals holding the sword. Therefore, Omri had to explain. "Where is Jaro?" Alaya repeated. Omri looked at her. How do you tell people that their best friend is dead? He took a deep breath, and was just about to speak when the door to the bedroom opened.

Jaro followed the woman down a path beneath the trees. Birds sang and it was pleasantly cool beneath the trees. But the illusion that this was just a beautiful day was soon crushed as they stepped out in a clearing. And that was all it was: a clearing. The floor was covered in moss, and the walls were tree trunks. On the borders of the clearing there stood several people, both men and woman, who looked like the woman Jaro had followed. In the middle of the clearing was a big rock, and on top of the rock sat three people. They wore blue robes, and hoods hooded their faces. "Welcome, Jaro" said one. "You are here to be judged" added another, and Jaro got the impression that this was sermonic rather than a attempt to inform him of anything. "Step forth" finished the third one. Nervously, he took a step forward. "You are charged with saying the word of death, of bringing destruction upon a group of mortals or/and immortals, what can you say to defend yourself?" said the one in the middle. "Well, for one thing: they were evil, bloodmages for crying out loud! They tried to take over the world, what was I supposed to do, stand and watch?" Jaro said angrily. "But you were going to, remember? You planned to do as the immortals had said you could, relax and leave it to them. Yet for the sake of two other mortals, you attacked, and spoke the words of death, is this not right?" "Well, yes" said Jaro, "But what had that got to do with anything, the bloodmages kidnapped them." "It is a question of balance. You spoke the words of death in order to kill more than two, and therefore you are guilty of murder" replied the one to the left. "Oh come on! They were evil, surely you don't support evil". The three looked at each other, as if communicating mind to mind, and then nodded simultaneously. "Bring forth the victim!" The ground next to Jaro started to ripple, as if a pebble had been dropped in a pond. Then something rose from it, and it was the form of the Bloodmage who now called himself The Bone Citadel. He looked around himself in sleepy astonishment. "You have been summoned from the netherworld," said the first judge. "You are here to make clear your sins and your goodness," said the second judge. "Speak of your deeds in the world," said the last judge. "Speak truth or speak nothing," they chorused. The bloodmage's eyes lit up, for it understood that it could still have its revenge. "I was mortal once, and I saw that humans are all alike, that they sin and are cruel, and I sought to make things better." "What! You were an evil bloodmage! You killed people and drank their blood!" Jaro said in shock and anger. "And that was how I should have reached my goal. Humans are unworthy to rule, and when my victory was reached, the Go'Dir would inhabit the world. Humans would be needed like cattle are needed for the humans: to feed us, and we, the bloodmages, would be the gods. It would be as fair as the present situation, for who says that humans are more worth than cattle? Only the humans, and no one asked the cattle." The three judges looked at each other again, and then turned to the bloodmage. "Humans are worth more than cattle, and the Go'Dirs would make a bad ruling species. You are indeed evil," they proclaimed. The bloodmage looked angry then. "Good! Evil! What are those anyway? They are opinions, nothing more. In some places, something is sin while in others it is perfectly acceptable. Everyone say that killing people is evil, yet they kill animals for food, so what is good? There is no good, only opinion and the strength to enforce it." Again the judges looked at each other. "There are many who say that, and it is always people without a God. There are both good and evil, and you are evil. Go back to the netherworld were you belong." With a scream, the bloodmage disappeared. "He was evil as you said. Your actions were just, and you will be allowed to live". "So you're sending me back," he said hopefully. "I never said that. Those that say the word must never be allowed to leave. You will live in the garden." A hand was placed upon his shoulder, not unkindly. "Don't be sad, there is no better place to be" said the judges to his horrified face "There is peace and goodness here, and." But he was cut off by the sound of bells. They sounded more urgent than before. One of their people came running out of the woods. "Something is coming, it managed to breach the wards." "What, that's impossible!" "It's true sir," said the messenger "It seemed to track a faint trace of the mortal, and it is coming here." Just as he said it, a shape was visible outside the clearing. Jaro couldn't see it clearly, for it moved at great speed. He saw people raising magic against it, as if they could hit it, for it moved a blur and struck Jaro, knocking him to the ground. But he didn't hit the ground; he just kept on falling, falling into mist. He opened his eyes (which he didn't remember closing) and saw something strange. He saw someone looking exactly like himself, from cloth to nose, all except the eyes. The eyes were electric blue from lid to lid. The figure smiled at him. "Thank you" it said, and the voice was different. It was as if thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, spoke as one. "Thank you for saving us". "It's seemed to be the other way around" Jaro said, still rather confused about the quick change. "No, we meant that you freed us, freed us from the slavery we endured for eons". "Who are you?" Jaro asked, growing even more confused. "We are the victims of the bloodmages, the souls that was devoured to strengthen the Gorvas, tortured beyond belief for time immeasurable." The voices spoke in perfect union; men, women and children each spoke with their own voice, all equal in death. "You freed us, and now we may have what we have wanted all these years." "What would that be?" Jaro asked nervously. "To die" they replied. "To sleep forever more, yet we could not leave you. For now and forever: farewell, Jaro, and thank you for all that you did." The figure faded, the mist parted and Jaro was alone. He looked around and saw that he was in his bedroom. He looked around himself again. He really was back. He heard voices from the living quarters, and opened the door.

There was silence for a little while, and then Alaya jumped up. She ran over to Jaro and gave him a hug. When she released him, they saw the others staring at them, and they blushed. Cart had a look of absolute relief on his face (granted, he sniggered a bit), but Omri just looked suspicious. "Good to see you Jaro, Elementar has missed you something horrible" he pointed towards the sword. "Won't you pick him up?" Jaro nodded and went to the table. He grasped the sword by the hilt. It was heavier then remembered, and he felt Elementar touch his mind. Good to have you back, Elementar said, relived. But how did you survive the word of death? 'I don't want to talk about it' he replied. Elementar didn't ask again. "So, since the bloodmages are destroyed, Jaro is back and Elementar have gotten all his memories, I suggest we celebrate" Omri suggested. The others agreed. "Great, I'll be making a feast then" he said, and went to the kitchens. 'So, you have all your memories back then?' Jaro asked. Oh yes, every single one. You may have gotten a bit of power in return, but nothing special. 'That's great' Jaro replied ' then you can get yourself a new body'. He suddenly realised what that meant. For a long time now, Jaro had been nearly invincible, backed up by the power of the greatest dragon; there had been a friend in his mind both day and night. Now he would leave, and Jaro would just be a human again. Yes, you're right, just a second. Elementar replied, apparently not noticing these thoughts. Lightning crackled from the tip of the sword and power flew from it like a river. It shifted and moved, but in the end it settled on the shape of a climboar. "I thought it would be a bit unpractical to become my real size in such a small room," he explained. Jaro just smiled. "Well, at least you'll be able to shake hands with my friends" he said. Elementar did so, and afterwards Alaya turned to Jaro. "So, you're alone in there now?" She asked. "Yes." "That's a relief, it stopped me from doing something I really wanted to do." "What was that" Jaro asked puzzled. "This" she said and kissed him. Jaro went stiff with shock for a second and then, ignoring the snickering and catcalls from the other two in the room, sank into the kiss. Perhaps being a human wasn't so bad after all.

And so ends the story of Jaro, who started out as an apprentice baker and ended up as the right hand man for a dragon. The rest is history, or more accurately, legends.

The end.