The Eclipse of Hope
Empyrean, Deva Cleric of Al'Asran (Pelor)
Also known as 'Deva', this angelic seraph serves as Pelor's harbinger, bringing light and warmth to the world.
A darkness between dusk and dawn that flickers for seemingly only a moment and then I am reborn again, eyes opening to stare directly at the sun above me like every lifetime before. That much I know without doubt. Pelor warms me, sparks the spirit within me to life, burns away the darkness – it has always been so.
The memories push in on my thoughts – thousands upon thousands – no mortal could understand the vastness of my being, the depths of the evil I have explored, the redemption I’ve gained, or the supreme righteousness which I now claim as my own. Pelor’s will burns like an unquenchable beacon in my breast, bright as 1000 suns; the searing truth of revelation almost overwhelms me: this will be my last incarnation. At last! My goal, my purpose, my promise of freedom… after millennia of toil, it was almost incomprehensible. Only a lack of conviction could thwart my efforts, now. I smile. In over 20000 years, during 2000 lives, on over 200 planes, I had had only one TrueName: Empyrean, and only one epitaph: The Zealot.
The fine sand shifts under my bronzed back slightly as I sit up, looking around. Dunes of glaring alabaster move away to the distant horizon, an ocean of heat and white. An appropriate rebirth for the Sun God’s chosen. I rise with the help of my staff, ever-present at my side. Its burnished brass is smooth and solid under my hand, its bare metal surface heated by the desert sun beyond what any mortal could endure, and its heft, a reassuring weight in my grasp. I knew without looking that somewhere along its length would be set seven bright gemstones, 3 diamonds, 3 rubies, and one cool onyx. It has taken many forms, but like myself, it has only one name: Asi. A glimpse of a memory comes to me briefly: the cloak of night; a darkness surrounds Us…
a dreadful creature sprang from the midst of the sacrificial fires scattering flames all around. It was as though a moon had arisen in the midst of the stars. He was colored like a deep-blue lotus. His teeth were sharp and terrible, stomach lean and skinny and stature very tall and slim. He was of exceeding energy and power. Simultaneously, the earth started shaking, there were turmoils in the oceans, the forceful winds started howling all around, the trees started falling and being torn apart, and the meteors started blazing through the skies! HE is there, and many of Us; HIS eyes burn through each of Us and HIS mouth speaks with a white fire… “The ‘Being’ I have conceived is Asi,” HIS voice is consuming and sonorous, “It shall effect the destruction of the enemies of the gods and restore Your righteousness.” Upon HIS final word, the Creature assumed the form of a blazing, gold and brass-shod stave, glowing like the flames at the end of the eons.
I find myself staring at the Sun again and I blink, wiping away the tears that have naturally formed. I gaze eastward, to the gathering clouds; a darkening storm is on the horizon and night will fall soon. Gripping Asi with assurance, I stride into the chaos – the righteous fear nothing and the chaff is about to burn.
The Zealot had traveled for weeks, it seemed and had passed through the vast wasteland that is known well as the Sea of Dust. Over mountains through the borderlands until finally the green pastureland of Keoland was reached. From there, he drew north to the wild frontier of Ket. Something drew him there, he knew (as he knew the names of every Star – which are all Suns, you know) that Pelor was drawing him there for a reason. That was enough, for now. A dismal, squalid village was his last stop before the burg of Fallcrest. A small, brutish inn was the only bed in town, and he moved through its front door, eyes taking in the expressions of each patron, looking for malice, looking for the darkness that lies behind so many men’s eyes… across from him, the young bar maid turned to see what lout had walked in that evening…
The barmaid took a deep breath and a step backward before turning to face him. The impact hit her like a physical blow. He was . . . “Beautiful.” Eyes of such pure undiluted blue it was as if some heavenly artist had crushed sapphires into his paints and then colored in the irises with the finest of brushes.
She was still reeling from the visual shock when a sudden wind swept across the rooftop, lifting up strands of his golden hair. But gold was too tame a word for it. It was so pure it held echoes of the sun, vivid and passionate. Cut in careless layers that stopped at the nape of his neck, it bared the sharp angles of his face and made her fingers curl with the urge to stroke.
Yes, he was beautiful, but it was the beauty of a warrior or a conqueror. This man had power stamped on every inch of his skin, every piece of his flesh. And that was before she took in the exquisite perfection of his wings. The feathers were a soft white and appeared dusted with gold. But when she concentrated, she saw the truth—each individual filament of each individual feather bore a golden tip.
“I need a room,” he said simply. The barmaid closed her mouth and swallowed slowly then answered with a quavering voice, “Certainly, master, we have no one staying the night besides yourself.” He could read her easily, though, and her face said much, much more. The two wretches at the bar and three more in a nearby corner wiped their mouths and grinned as they spied the golden staff and its many gems. Across the room, the barkeep met the Zealot’s gaze, his craven and vile thoughts were obvious to the Seraph (Deva). Mortals always and only were animals. Repentance would be offered and forgiveness, perhaps. The Zealot closed his eyes for a moment and listened to HIS voice, the voice of the Eternal Light… “In your hand you hold my light. The gleam in the eye of Pelor. This flame will burn away the darkness… burn you the way to paradise!” (1:58:05 – Conan the Barbarian, edited). He opened his eyes, which burned brightly now and a radiance flowed out from him, filling the tavern. As the three from the corner came at him, heat like molten steel flowed from Asi, flowed and burned away the darkness.