Dark clouds gathered outside the chamber windows. The elf wizard paced around the dimly lit room, his mind racing. The lamps in the room had been almost completely covered, making it difficult to see the diamonds laid out on the floor in the center of the room. They were arranged in a specific pattern the wizard could easily recognize: a magic symbol of life, rebirth, and most importantly, resurrection. Floating just above the symbol was a few droplets of holy water, suspended in midair as if frozen in time.
Finishing his five hundred fourteenth lap of the holy chamber, the elf let out an annoyed sigh. “What’s taking so long? You said the ritual only takes an hour!”
“Patience, Tiberius. We’re trying to resurrect someone who’s been dead a long time, and since his body was turned entirely to ash, I don’t have much to work with.”
The voice came from the large minotaur sitting behind the pattern of diamonds. Adorned in religious robes, it was hard to mistake him for anything but a cleric. His eyes were closed, but his tattoo-covered hide glowed with radiant power. “Plus, you staring at me doesn’t exactly help my concentration.”
The elf returned his gaze to the floor. “Well, you managed to recover from that fireball without a scratch, so I don’t see how our golden-scaled friend was so utterly vaporized.”
The minotaur huffed, but didn’t offer a retort.
“Maybe he doesn’t want to be found.”
“Maybe he’s hiding on purpose. Think. Did you want to return to this world?”
“Of course. I am chosen by the gods. To spread their will–“
“Forget about the gods for a minute. Think about how you… How we failed. And everything that’s happened after that. Would you really want to face the fact that in a way, this is our fault?”
Brithnar grunted, and was silent for a minute. When he spoke again, it was in a low, tempered voice.
“It is entirely our fault. We have a responsibility to make things right again. As much as we can.”
“He had a responsibility to another place, too.”
Uncomfortable silence filled the room.
“I need to focus.”
“Right. Go on, then.”
The droplets of holy water, previously motionless, began to vibrate and float closer together. Slowly, they formed one perfect sphere of liquid, ripples constantly travelling across its surface. Below, the diamonds started to glow green. Vines burst from the center of the crystals, weaving together in the shape of the religious symbol. Sweat began to drip down the minotaur’s forehead, and his expression turned from one of calm concentration to one of concern.
“Brithnar? Is everything alright?” Tiberius wasn’t a master of religious spells, but any good caster could recognize when a spell starts to go wrong.
Brithnar’s face suddenly contorted in pain. His balanced sitting posture began to tremble. A growl rose in the minotaur’s throat as he struggled to keep concentrating on the spell. It was obvious to Tiberius that something was very wrong, but at this point interfering could only make things worse. He stood, frozen in fear as he could do nothing but watch, then closed his eyes as the light from the diamonds became too much to bear. A demonic roar assaulted his ears, amplified by the smooth stone walls of the chamber until it blinded all his senses.
All at once, it was over. The glow from the diamonds vanished, leaving the elf in relative inky blackness. He felt specks of holy water dampen his skin as the sphere splashed on the vine symbol, now lifeless and dead. As the humming in his ears died down, and his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he scanned the room. He took a moment to calm his breathing, rubbed his eyes, and scanned the room again. Still, he didn’t find what he was looking for.
On the other side of the room, Brithnar was sprawled out on the floor. Tiberius rushed to his side and shook the minotaur fiercely. “What happened?” Tiberius shouted. “Brithnar! Get up!”.
Brithnar groaned, and waved away the wizard’s hands. Pushing himself up into a sitting position, he didn’t look injured. However, there were tears in his eyes.
“Brithnar, what happened?” Tiberius demanded again. “You said you could bring him back! Where is he?”
Brithnar lowered his head, and felt tears rolling down his cheeks. “He’s… He’s gone…” he muttered, watching his hands curl up into fists.
Tiberius was shocked. “What?”
“I can’t revive him. His soul… it can’t be resurrected. It’s just gone.”
“What do you mean it’s gone? It’s a soul, it’s not like it can just disappear into the aether!”
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO TELL YOU! I SEARCHED EVERY PLANE OF EXISTENCE I KNOW OF, EVEN THE DAMNED ABYSS! HIS SOUL… IS… GONE!”
The minotaur slammed his fist into the wall beside him, and the bricks cracked and crumbled, knocking down one of the covered lamps sending it crashing to the floor. The elf stepped back, instinctively preparing to cast Fireball. Brithnar looked up at him, and the rage in the cleric’s eyes quickly faded. Wiping away tears, he stood, and glanced again at Tiberius.
“I’m sorry. I can’t bring him back.”
Tiberius relaxed, and sighed. “We’ll… have to make do without, then. Go get some rest.”
They looked at each other somberly, then headed for the door.
As they exited the chamber into a lamp-lit hallway, they could hear raindrops begin to pitter-patter against the roof outside. It was still light, but both friends knew it was the beginning of a storm.