Bitterness. It’s all that I can taste. Today was folly. And it’s result? Bitterness. I sit at a table in a chair that is a touch to short, built by miniature versions of men to an approximation of what a full size being needs for comfort, brooding over today’s victory. The monsters defeated! Victory ours! Happiness? Satisfaction? Bitterness! Today was no victory. Today was a travesty, a mockery of our talents, and only the fickle pleasures of Tymora—whose power I do not deny even while refusing to worship her because of it—kept us from standing in judgement before Kelemvor.
My power, and that of my companions, has been growing nearly exponentially. Together we have taken on beholders, stopped the machinations of a shadovar wizard, and destroyed the avatar of a god, yet we nearly suffer defeat at the hands of mere elementals. How foolish I feel. Tomorrow my companions and I are to face a dracolich, and I find myself filled with concern, not quite fear. Was our near defeat a product of our overconfidence? Or is it a sign of something worse? Have the gods finally taken notice and banded together to keep us, to keep me, from exposing them as the frauds that they are? If so, why the torment? Why not simply send an angel to slay me and be done with it? The fools will come to regret toying with me so.
Not since that fateful day during the Goblin War have I felt so ill at ease. I do not like what this portends. If the others are as demoralized as I currently feel, then it will be a short fall to the bottom. I must not let them see the fear in my eyes when I think about what is to come. Even though I cannot feel it within me, I must fake the confidence I usually exude. I cannot let the swagger fall from my step, nor the bravado from my voice. Hopefully, with the defeat of this fiend, my tenacity can be restored. Until then, I cannot allow my own shaken faith, shake that of the others. I will not bring doom upon my allies again.
I have another thought. Perhaps this unsettling feeling is not a product of our humiliation at all. Perhaps this has more to do with my treatment of Branyonne. Or maybe it is the changes revealed in Branyonne himself that has me worried. Even though I profess to be one of the faithless, I fear not the wall, for I will forge my own destiny, allowing myself a form of immortality that will remove me from Kelemvor’s power. Yet Branyonne is not like me. He believed with his very soul that Chauntea was worthy of praise. In spite of Cyric’s hold over his body, it seemed to me that during his final moments of life, his goddess had freed him from the Mad God’s power. It seems that I was wrong.
Did I compound the failing of his goddess by locking my friend away beneath the desert? What else could I have done? Should I have put him to the sword? What would become of his soul then? Would Cyric of Chauntea have claim? No. Unless I can be certain that his soul would be with his goddess, I can never end his life? But the hole? Did I put him there because it was best for me? Or because it was best for him? Should I not have turned him over to clerics of the Great Mother instead? Can he even be helped? Or do I worry about something that is already determined?
It matters not! What is done is done! It is time that I stop wallowing in this self pity. Branyonne is no longer my concern. The elementals were defeated. The dracolich awaits. Now is not the time to doubt. Now is the time to shout defiantly at the heavens. Let the gods join Asmodeus in his hell. I will not be bent to any will but my own. My fate is mine to decide, and I will succumb to “death” at a time of my choosing. I will not fear. Not for the fate of a fallen comrade. Not the presence of a dracolich. Not even the ire of the gods. Here, in this world, I rule, and none other.