After the longest day that you can remember in years, you finally let your head slump against a pillow. Outside, a celebration is underway, music and dance stirred up by Perri and others to give praise for the lives that were spared and recognition to the ones who were lost. You could join them, the invitation was extended, and Escorbert would have been more than happy to hail you as the hero of the hour, but more than tired, old bones calls you to your bed tonight.
Your head has barely sunk into the borrowed pillow when fatigue and the sweet darkness of thought-free sleep rise up to sweep away consciousness.
It is some time later – in the black and quiet of the night despite the fact that few of those hours remained after the final battle – that you wake again.
Or do you?
Around you whirls a sky more full of stars than any you have ever seen. Beneath you an endless plane glistens in the starlight.
“This is a dream, but what happens here is real.”
The voice rumbles the ground and twinkles the stars. Looking around for its origin, you can only hear it coming from everywhere at once. Or perhaps it began inside you, rising from the depths of your bones. Is it your own voice you’re hearing? It seems so much a part of you and yet also something vastly more than you could ever be.
“Aiemethia Black, you have been called.” The voice makes words that ground themselves into the firmament of creation. Each syllable carves new furrows into the weave and weft of fate itself. As you listen though, the voice grows smaller, or at least nearer if that’s possible for something that seems to be everywhere at once.
“”Before you answer, you must understand what you are being called to.”
You turn, knowing there will be someone behind you, and find a boy with white hair and solid platinum eyes sitting on a stone chair.
“Who are you?” you ask, though you don’t need the answer to know that you are in the presence of the divine.
“I am many people, with many names,” the boy says and gestures with his arm, flinging a spray of light that illuminates the mirror bright scales layered across the ground. In each scale you see a different person. Some young. Some old. Some human. Some elven. Or dwarven. Or other races. Some are clergy, some paladins. Many are only common people who do no more that choose to fight when they are needed.
Whether they are formally pledged or not however, each of the people in the thousand scales glowing before you carries the same flame in their hearts.
The flame of wisdom.
And the King of Dragons.
Turning back to the boy, you feel your breath catch in your throat.
It isn’t a boy who sits before you.
For just a moment you glimpse the divine majesty of Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon.
You can’t really process what you see, can’t take in the enormity of what Bahamut truly is.
Is he as large as a mountain? No. Mountains are less that dust to him. As large as the world? In his eyes entire galaxies whirl and burn. Not their reflection but the whole of them, so vast that light itself can’t reach from one end of his eye to the other.
Bahamut’s scale is beyond the size of the universe as you can perceive it. Gauging it is like trying to measure the boundaries where time ends. He is a principal of the cosmos, as intrinsic as gravity and as elemental as the nature of light itself.
And then he is again a small boy. White haired and platinum eyed and smiling at your wonder and confusion.
“We can dispense with the usual ‘Oh Most Holy Lord’ stuff,” Bahamut says. “I’ve called you to my service for a specific reason. I require a champion in the mortal world, one who can pledge their heart and life to justice, and mercy, and the protection of those whose arms cannot protect themselves or who’s voice cannot be heard.”
“I don’t know how much life I have left to give,” you say, wondering if the gifts you’d already been given would be taken away.
“When they are called, everyone has the same thing to offer in my service,” Bahamut says. “The rest of their lives. Some who have given only a minute have made the world a brighter place than others who served for decades. It is not the quantity of the life which remains to you, but the quality of what you do with it that I care about.”
“Well, then I guess I can give you that,” you say, a sense of calm certainty rising from within.
“Your road will not be an easy one,” Bahamut says.
“I know,” you reply.
“Your future will be uncertain. I cannot offer you a guarantee of victory. Your strength and the strength I give you may not be enough to overcome the foes who will rise before you.”
“I figured that might be the case too,” you say.
“Then know this as well,” Bahamut says. “Whatever your fate, that you stand for my cause means the world shall be better for it, and, always, I shall be with you.”
Within your heart, you feel a deep, endless well of warm rise as the scales beneath your feet flex and the Dragon King takes flight.
Sunlight playing across your eyes is the next thing you know. That and the bustle of the keep getting back to the affairs of life. The town might have been assaulted and burned but that just means there is more work to do, not less.
“How are you feeling this morning Aie?” Perri asks, as always far too bright and cheerful for whatever cursed morning hour of the day it is.
“Less achy than I was suppose,” you say. “But I had the weirdest dream there. It seemed so real.”
“That would be because it was,” Bahamut says, his voice echoing in your bones.
“Yeah, divine callings can be like that,” the little Cleric of Death said.