Chapter 12: Darkness and Light

The departure of their apostle gave the priests of Tunare a small break from their normal bickering and arguing about the coming of the dark ages and the sins of the local tavern, Tovonia's Venom, next door. Young Loral had been with them for seven years, having come to them as an orphan at the age of 10. They knew he wouldn't stay with them forever. His path led out into the world of Norrath, spreading the word of Tunare. The young lad had the sparkle of adventure in his eyes, and it was hard not to feel the same wanderlust when looking at his shining dwarven mail tunic and his worn leather backpack, gifts from the mysterious Ciric Azilebane. Yeolarn Bronzeleaf smiled at Loral as he shook his hand and bowed to the young adventurer, but inside his heart sank. The world held dangers that many couldn't even comprehend, much less survive. He gave Loral one chance in five of returning to them alive. Allia Moondancer, Loral's teacher of the arts, gave Loral a kiss on the cheek and whispered a prayer of safety upon him. Loral blushed, stood up straight and walked out the doors. Yeolarn whispered a prayer himself, hoping it would not be the last time he saw young Loral alive.

It was. The figure that stepped back into the Church of Tunare was no longer the young acolyte of Tunare. Loral stepped into the room with swirling lavender boots forged in worlds of darkness. His green robe shifted and shimmered with a life of it's own. His skin had been hardened by the heat of Kunark and the icy winds of Velious, but no part of him was as hardened as his eyes. One gaze gave Yeolarn a view of the horrors and wonders that had passed before Loral. One look was all that was needed for both men to understand the depths of what had happened in the past years. Loral kneeled to the clerics of the church, and tears began flowing from his eyes. Yeolarn's eyes too began to tear. He had hoped that this day would come, that he would see Loral alive again. But after seeing those eyes, he felt that perhaps this fate was the less merciful alternative.

A storm was blowing over the ancient arena. Clouds moved across the sky faster than the wolves of the Karanas, while lightening struck the ground near by. Many warriors had fought and died in the Arena, and Loral knew that this day would be no different. His preparations for the summoning of Innoruuk were almost complete. While battles raged around him, the focus of hate burning in his chest kept him thinking of the confrontation he would soon face. No spells or blades could stop Loral from seeking the revenge he had sought his whole adult life. One hand held the ancient book of Obulus open to the pages of summoning, the other held the burning black mace of Kithicor, which glowed with a black light. The summoning was almost complete. Then a figure stood in his way. Dressed in the white gowns of a young cleric of Tunare, Idoru, a fellow Healer in his guild and apostle of the Mother stood fast. "Don't do this, Loral. You are under the influence of Innoruuk. Stop this now." Loral looked into her blue eyes, knowing she was right. His heart ached and tears welled up in his eyes. He reached out a hand to her, whispering a prayer to Tunare...and killed her.

Loral woke with a jolt. That same dream had followed him every night since it took place, weeks earlier. And like it did every morning, his hand burned and he felt the loss of the dark mace, even though its evil had been destroyed that same day. The darkness of its curse still had not left him, but he hoped that it would this day. He sat up on the cold stone, not refreshed, but rested for the coming battle. While he became aware of his dark surroundings, the unnatural stone walls of Innoruuks outer halls of the Plane of hate, the sound of scraping metal sent a shiver through his bones. Loral looked up at Boldog, the large barbarian warrior, sharpening his blade. He watched the barbarian's one good eye, the other cut through from some past battle. He watched and knew the man would soon be dead. Seeing the look in Boldog's eye as he sharpened his huge sword, he knew that the warrior knew it as well. Only a few might survive their battles with the demon-god. More than likely none would. But the warrior knew that the stronger he fought, the more likely he would be killed, for if any gets the attention of Innoruuk, they die.

A half hour later, Loral was staring at that one good eye again, this time lifeless. He was walking among the wounded of the horrific battle, healing those who could be healed and offering the last rights of Tunare to those he couldn't. Then he came across the body of Boldog and had to stop. He sat there, regaining his strength, but weary of heart. So many dead, so much loss. Then the impact of their accomplishment woke him from this trance. Behind the fighter, lay the corpse of Innoruuk. They had defeated the Lord of Hate. Loral remembered the battle in bits in pieces. He remembered hearing Innoruuk chanting the names of those in the war party, tearing into their souls and stripping them of their lives. "AILEN...VAGE...SOMNUS...WADEN...BOLDOG". One by one the adventurers fell. While wizards unleashed their powerful spells and warriors cut with magical blades, Innoruuk continued to chant. "SOLRAK...RAIZZE...TALTHAR...RAICA." When the mobs of warriors became too thick, he raised his hands and sent the remaining adventurers flying through the air, smashing up against walls and sliding hundreds of feet across the floor. The adventurers quickly regained their footing and rushed the Lord of Hate again. Then, when all appeared lost, Innoruuk stumbled and fell. The blades and spells of the mighty party had finally cut him down.

The sheer scope of what Loral had done took a long time to sink in. Sitting there, looking at the corpse of the dark god, Loral thought about what this meant. His whole adult life he had sought this moment. Since the day his father was taken by the Maestro of Rancor, Loral vowed revenge. Now the Maestro lay dead in the hallway after attempting to defend his master, and Innoruuk was killed shortly there after within his own inner chambers. Loral had his revenge. But instead feeling the thrill of victory, he only felt emptiness. He had spent his entire life as a vehicle for revenge under Tunare's name. Innoruuk had used Loral's hate against him and he had almost released the demon-god on all of Norrath under the notion that he might possibly defeat him in a duel. Innoruuk had done far worse than simply kill his father. Innoruuk had stolen his soul and used him as a tool of war. Loral claimed to have followed the will of Tunare, but had killed one of Tunare's most noble and pure clerics, all in the name of revenge. And even now, after having defeated Innoruuk on his home ground, now he had nothing left.

In his early years as an adventurer, Loral had dreams of finding his father in the outerworld prisons of Hate. Those dreams were shattered when he realized just how insignificant he and his father were to Innoruuk. All that he had to show for his life of vengeance was the black scar on his hand from the black mace, and the sadness of knowing he had used the name of his goddess to murder an innocent. He wasn't sure what would become of his life now. But he knew one thing. He must ask for forgiveness. He would seek out the clerics of Felwithe and apologize for his actions in their name. He would then seek out Tunare herself and accept whatever fate she would have for his sins. His only hope was to once again be her hand on Norrath. If not, he would do his best to spread her faith and her love, even if he was doomed by the acts of his past.

It was a beautiful autumn day in Felwithe. Loral couldn't decide which was warmer. The summer sun overhead or the smile of his father when he pulled up the large bass out of the clear river that ran outside their home. Talien the Jeweler patted his young son on the back, sharing in the joy of the catch. While there were times when Loral became bored of the constant haggling between his father and a customer, the Sunday fishing trips were the times Loral really look forward to. Loral would sit and watch the fish through the clear stream while his father would tell him stories of the far away cities of Kaladim, Kelethin and even Ak'Anon, land of the curious gnomes. Loral would imagine the strange cities of fiery forges and giant machines while his father spoke. Other times, Talien would tell Loral of his mother, and although sometimes they made him sad, he more often felt the happiness that her memory brought to his father. Those fishing trips meant everything to Loral. They were the best moments of his life.