Aryxhai lets out a sigh and sits down in front of his jar. “This is pretty messed up, guys. Morsyana creating an alliance with demons. Also, she should be 1056 years old by now. That’s bad news, I’m telling you!”.
Tijl and Glückmock pull the body of the mind flayer away from the doorstep, while Gordon prays to Llorix to heal the wounds of his newfound allies. “I guess it’s clear you can be trusted,” Aryxhai offers. “Except with expensive mirror, so it seems.”
“If you wish, you can enter the Door of Destinies. It will show you where you came from or where you are going. It was crafted by Bothandal as an attempt to provide meaning to the lives of others.”
Glückmock stares at the door. He has no idea where he is coming from, nor where he is going, so the door should prove enlightening. Also, he is a bit conflicted about Akmis not being known or shown as a deity. “Hee, hee, I will go first!”
Glückmock finds himself back in an old temple complex, which he vaguely recalls. Inside, a young woman, dressed as a priest, looks at him and smiles. She giggles as she runs away, through an archway and deeper into the temple. Glückmock runs after her, up stone staircases, through halls adorned with sacred statues, across a courtyard that stands in bloom.
The woman then opens a heavy door to enter a room. Glückmock follows her into the room, which turns out to have a ceiling at the height of a cathedral. Candles burn bright against all walls in the room, and the room is dominated by a gigantic throne, on which an enormous woman sits.
“S–Simka?” Glückmock mumbles. “My goddess! I have failed you so much….” Suddenly, Glückmock is overcome with memories. The rules of the clergy, the spring in the courtyard, the priestess with whom he studied the ancient texts, and how smart she was, and how pretty she was and how weak he had been.
“I am so sorry,” Gluckmock mumbled. “I gave up the faith..”
“Glückmock. You have been punishing yourself. You have been punishing yourself so harshly. You never stopped worshiping me. You thought you did, but you never did. Akmis and I are one in our duality. This is true for all gods. Those who pray for peace burn a candle for the god of the war. Your world consists of oppositions and We are one of them.”
“But… but I have an amulet that depicts the two of you!” Glückmock takes out his Amulet of Fortune and holds it up to Simka.
“Sweet Glückmock! Akmis and I are not the sides of this coin you carry. We are the coin itself! You honor us by worshiping fortune, and you worship us by honoring bad luck.”
“And Lariana,” Glückmock says. “Aren’t you mad about Lariana?”
Simka laughs. “Those rules were made by mortals. I do not care for them. I care about you channeling bad luck so passionately that you broke an unbreakable mirror and saved the world. That is a fortune and a curse in one, just as We are. You are special that way, Glückmock. You can show the world that standing in service of misfortune, hardships and setbacks is a worthwhile cause. You can bring grace to the ungracious and meaning to adversity!”
“I have something for you, my sweet, smelly Glückmock. It will help you in your work,” Simka says as she conjures a staff with inlaid, bulbous gems that resemble compound eyes. “This is the Staff of Swarming Insects. It will help you control those creatures who have a habit of following you around anyway.”
Glückmock reaches out for the staff. As soon as he holds it, he finds himself back in the crafting chamber in Bothandal’s Mine.
Once Tijl goes through the door, he finds himself in the building where he grew up, in the Labarean port city of Hervik. The inside of the building consists of dark bricks, contrasting with the colorful heraldic banners and Dorgothian eyes that are so common to the gnomes. Seyder Shacklesmith, his caretaker, is standing at a gnome-sized table, together with a gnome military officer who is burdened with medals and insignias.
“The boy is in good health. We will raise him according to our values and will care for him well,” Seyder says.
“Good,” responds the officer. “Wolf has responded to our demands. As long we have the boy, the Free Cities will comply, more or less.”
“And what if Wolf dies or loses his status among the Free Men,” Seyder asks. “Will it make the boy useless? What should we do with him then?”
The officer laughs. “If Wolf dies, the boy will return. Humans are short-lived, but they mourn the dead like no other. If Tijl would not return to witness the burial of his father, all deals with the so-called Free Men would be off. And there would be no use keeping him around, either – we have plenty of humans coming in these days.”
“And what about the prophecies? Last time you told me that the human seers are convinced that the boy will be a liberator of men. Is that a risk we should take?:
“Superstitions, Seyder! They are nothing but superstitions. For sure, if the humans continue to believe such things, they can try to make a leader of Tijl Morningstar. But if he grew up here, engrossed in Dorgothian doctrine and raised in deference of the Empire, would he not be the best leader we could wish for?”
Having heard this conversation, Tijl decided to sneak towards his old room. There, he found a small boy, no older than four, sleeping in his bed. As he walked towards the young boy, he was overcome with an uncanny feeling. He touched the face of the boy and found himself back in the crafting room.