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Crisis and Catharsis

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Arochi's picture
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A ways back, I experienced a crisis of faith, which I've never truly discussed with anyone (anyone less than Divine, of course). It was at the time that I and my companions had been probing the depths of the ancient ruined city of Zul'Gurub, recently come to be inhabited again by the blood god Hakkar and his minions.

The crux of my problem can be stated quite simply: I am a priest of Elune, and in Zul'Gurub, I met priests of Hakkar. While I am by no means weak, it took the concerted effort of nearly two dozen seasoned veterans working with me to defeat even a single one of his high priests. Even the lesser of his worshippers were more than a match for four or five of our band. How could they be so much mightier than us?

To that question, I had an obvious answer. Hakkar himself, a god made flesh, stood atop his temple, overseeing all. Strength flowed from him to his lieutenants. Theological questions are moot when in sight of a god whose followers call down pillars of fire from the sky and command armies of beasts and transform their flesh into avatars of old loas.

I, by contrast, could twiddle my fingers to heal a mortal wound and even bring the dead back across the veil of existence, but it seemed that my skills paled in comparison to these clerical titans. Hakkar was right there. There was no room for doubt. I, on the other hand, suddenly found it hard to recall when I had last had a clear signal from Elune. Of course, I see her every night as she walks the sky, but was she paying any attention to me? I had powers which she had granted me, but did she care? Had she just handed me the magical equivalent of trinkets and beads to buy off my foolish interest, then cast me free and forgotten me? Had I displeased her? If so, she hadn't even bothered to dispense with some divine wrath in my direction! In short, I began to feel that I had bet on the wrong side.

In between our attacks on the Hakkari stronghold, I began to research the history of Hakkar and his power in greater detail. When the trolls had been torn by strife, he appeared to subjugate them and remake them into a mighty empire once again. A jealous god, a god of war and blood, he demanded sacrifices but rewarded success. Perhaps I could join his ranks and swell my powers by proving myself worthy. If I was so little to Elune, what was she to me?

My dark fascination with the Soulflayer grew, and I came to believe that I could prove my worth by defeating his high priests. If I showed myself to be stronger than them, then he would have to accept me and grant me even greater power. One by one, his minions fell before us. As each one dropped lifeless, my pride grew, and when the last was down, I no longer wanted to approach Hakkar as a supplicant, but as a conqueror. Why settle for servant to a god when you can be his master? My aim was now to subjugate him, and to chain his power to my ends.

On the fateful day, we approached him and made numerous sallies against his temple. Each time we were rebuffed, but we learned, probing his defenses and honing our skills, until at last we slew him, turning his own blood magics against him. As the dust settled and silence filled the jungle, Hakkar was just another corpse at my feet. His empire was ruin, and I had played a key part in its destruction. It is not hubris to challenge gods when you win.

That night, Elune came to me in the clearest vision I have had in a long time, and smiled at me. I understood that she taught her children to stand on their own, and wield what the foolish think to be flaws as weapons—doubt to seek out the truth of matters, pride to refuse to give up, and wrath to smite down the enemies of the Moon. All these things have their counterparts, and without either, the whole falls apart. Extremes are but two sides of the slowly spinning moon, and each shall have their time in the sky.

In time, I was told, I too would spin. That time is now. Elune has visited me again, and told me that the gates to Outland shall reopen within another turning of herself. Now is not the time for gentleness and nurturing. I am to turn from the path of the Full Moon to the path of the New Moon, to wield the darkness to fight the darkness. As her agent, I am to battle forth into a broken world of demons so that her light may follow. As such, I lay forth this confession to unburden my soul, for I do not wish to take too much darkness with me as I venture into it, lest I be consumed and fall.