The deft Erutaki warrior swung his twin handaxes at Zack. Up to this point, Zack had never faced off against a foe with such vicious attacks. It wasn’t the axes that wounded Zack so deeply, however. The Erutaki’s axe cuts carried a deep searing pain unlike any normal physical injury. They felt as vile as the unholy blight spells that were pummeling him from somewhere about the frozen chamber. There was something amiss about the Erutaki warrior that caused him to hesitate simply smiting him down.
Zack continued to concentrate on trying to pinpoint the invisible spellcaster and avoid the Erutaki warrior’s blows. Unfortunately, reeling from the pain of the unholy blights, trying find the source of the spells, and being face to face with an unusually powerful warrior had his attention quite divided. After a quick scan of the room, he turned to the Erutaki warrior to see two handaxes slashes he knew he could not avoid. Zack gritted his teeth a barrage of handaxe strikes cut deeply into him. Zack endured the physical pain, but the searing unholy energies that followed each handaxe slash felt as if his soul was being ripped apart. Zack then realized the pain transcended his levels of endurance and against his will, he slumped to the floor as the vision of his friends in trouble faded before him.
Zack awoke to the feeling of a light snowfall. As he opened his eyes, he saw a vast picturesque snowfield. The sky shone in a glorious light shade of blue, which belied the gentle snowfall all about him. Zack did not recognize the landscape before him, despite spending the last few months heading for Golarion’s north pole.
“Hello old friend.”
Zack turned to greet the familiar voice and was met by several individuals. Zack was startled by some of faces who stood before him. The one who greeted Zack was a festively dressed Varisian man. The man held a rainbow colored glaive adorned with woven fibers to make it look like a giant paintbrush.
Next to Alder was another old friend of Zack’s. He had a longbow slung over his shoulder and wore colors of a well traveled guardsman. The man gave a familiar nod to the Aasimar.
“Never thought you’d see me again did you?”
Next was a man he had seen, but never thought he would ever meet. Zack had seen the man’s portrait hanging above the mantle in Ameiko’s estate back in Sandpoint and had helped free his tortured spirit from the vaults below Brinewall Castle a few months prior.
“You have been marked by the seal, tianjian, I am Amatatsu Tsutoku”
Next was an elven woman. She was dressed in the rainments of a priestess and carried a pair of starknives by her side. Zack could swear she looked familiar but couldn’t quite figure out where the familiarity came from. Still, Zack showed deep respect and bowed to the priestess of Desna.
“Ever formal, are you not Star Knight? ‘Tis a shame we’ve not long to speak. I would certainly adore hearing of the wondrous journey my daughter has been on.”
The final figure was shrouded and cloaked in white. The figure’s face was obscured and two luminous blue wings projected from the figure’s shoulders. The figure’s form suggested it was a woman and when she spoke, the haunting echo of her voice sounded familiar to Zack, but he couldn’t quite recognize its familiarity.
“I bet a lot of this is confusing Zack so I’ll say it straight.”
The no nonsense manner of speech from the angelic figure was also a surprise to Zack.
“You fought defiantly to the end, but the short story is, you’re dead. Don’t despair though, you’re not due here yet. All of us have a vested interest in seeing the royal families retake their rightful place in Minkai and you, Zack, are going to be necessary to help that become a reality. We each speak for a greater power and after my little speech, we’ll only each have one more thing to say before we send you back.”
The rather casual speaking, cloaked figure hovered back as Alder stepped forward.
“Never take anything at face value. Shelyn teaches us that true beauty lies within. The same unfortunately, can be said for evil. Remember, the surface can merely be a mask. You may see good or evil at the surface, but true character will shine forth with careful vigilance.”
Iaian stepped forth next.
“You need to know you’ll never be able to protect everyone no matter how much you’ll try. I told you to finish the fight and not to worry about me. Given how strong that goblin was, that may have been a mistake but I don’t have any regrets about my decisions. You shouldn’t either.”
Tsutoku stepped up afterward.
“Be careful as you traverse into Minkai. As a tianjian, a ‘person of the heavens,’ subterfuge will likely not be a simple option for you and your compatriots. Know that you have Shizuru’s blessing as you continue upon your honorable endeavor.”
The Desnan priestess stepped up next.
“Star Knight, you have the most difficult journey of any who follow the ways of The Great Dreamer. You are both a crusader and a dreamer, but know that you can never be fully one or the other. Though it may feel like a shackling burden, see it more as a difficult journey. The most arduous of journeys often yield the most magnificent of landscapes.”
The elven priestess steps back and the angelic figure whispers in the priestess’ ear, “With any luck, Seanthia, that Star Knight title you called him doesn’t go to his head.”
The angelic figure then claps her hands together and hovers forth again.
“Right Zack. Too bad we can’t explain things a little better. There just isn’t the time right now. Which is funny because… oh… never mind. Just be ready to finish that fight.”
The blue sky illuminates slightly as a fast moving sun and jade colored moon move toward each other. They form an eclipse darkening the snowfield. Stars begin illuminating in the dusk sky and after all of them gain luminescence, the eclipse shines slightly. Zack looks down as his adamantine armor begins to glow a faint golden color. Before he can say another word, he sees the five figures waving their goodbyes to him as the golden shine overtakes his field of vision. With but a moment, the light dissipates revealing the icy cavern, his friends, and the Erutaki warrior who only moments ago, had cut him down. Zack felt a new surge of power the likes of which he had never felt before. Zack gave a quick mental thank you to Desna and the other gods and continued the fight.