Tiberius gathered firewood and even found some dry tinder in the dark despite the dew wet ground. He returned to the side of the road and found the beggar had cleared a spot to the bare ground and was placing rocks in a circle to build a fire barrier. The wounded soldier lay on the ground rocking and weeping. Tiberius made quick work of the tinder and was blowing into a smoke filled bundle. With one last soft breath, a flame appeared. Although the fire back at the camp was frozen in time, this fire was very much alive. The beggar smiled as Tiberius quickly turned the small flame into a warm fire.
Tiberius then asked, “Tell me what happened?”
“Before I tell you, you must understand the nature of the divine. The souls of this world assume that the divine are the final authority. They are not. The source of all power in the world is in the hands of a protector. The Overseer is the protector of this world. I am not from this world. In my world, the protector is Ao.
Each protector assigns the domains to the divine by scribing it on a tablet. The divine then use those domains to gather worshipers. The more worshipers a divinity has the more powerful that divinity becomes. If a divinity has no worshipers, then that divinity ceases to be.
This poor soldier failed to protect his domain. In his desire to gain power, he ignored those who used his domain for evil. The Overseer judged him, found him guilty and dispensed justice. It is ironic, for this warrior is the epitome of justice.”
“Is this Pholtus?” Tiberious felt this was indeed the god that he prayed to.
“This is him in his human form so that you can understand. Without ears he cannot hear his followers. Without his voice, he cannot answer prayers. He will remain wounded until his domain is purged of the blasphemers.”
“There are three blasphemers. They will act as though they are righteous, but they spew hypocrisy, hate and lies. When you see righteousness that is contrived in Pholtus’ name that is a blasphemer, and it must be eliminated. Only when the corruption has been eradicated can Pholtus be healed. Be wary, the blasphemers have great power. They will be hunting you.”
“Why me? I am no great warrior. I hide behind my shield. I am the butt of a joke. Are there not stronger followers?” Tiberius started to cry.
“Tiberius Hammersmyth, you have much to learn about yourself. It is for these very reasons you have been chosen. You innocence is your shield. Your loyalty is your axe. Yes, there are much stronger followers, but they are trapped in their ways and cannot help. I will help you hide in the shadows until you gather your true strength.
Take a moment and decide. If you accept, I will tell you what you must do next.”
The beggar reached out and touched Tiberius’ cheek and wiped a tear away. With a soft touch the beggar placed the tear on Tiberius’ lips. Tiberius could taste the salt.
With that, Tiberius stared into the fire.
Tiberius struggled in thought, but feared that he was being tricked. “I cannot accept what you have said. How can I trust you? I am loyal to the Lord of Law, but you? For what reason shall I not strike you down. For all I know, you had a part in this.”
“Do you trust your own scriptures?”
“All of Pholtus’ brothers and sisters trust the Libram with their very soul. It is perfect and true.”
“Open and read.”
The scripture of Pholtus is found in a tome called the Libram Sanctus Vox. Tiberius, as a faithful follower, carried it with him wherever he traveled. Although he claimed to be a devout follower, he never actually read it. He opened the book and started to read.
Be wary and listen. The firmaments are filled with intrigue and deceit. My enemies continuously conspire against me. I have foreseen a time when the ascended queen of the banished will travel from room to room searching for a daughter of the daughter of the weave. This sovereign will cross the doorway into my house, for I have protected the young girl.
Knowing that I am too strong, she shall make a pact with my enemies. They shall surround me, but still I am too strong. Unable to face me and with no honor, they trick me by turning my servants against me. With my home corrupted, they call the magistrate who finds me guilty. I will be taken in chains and tortured. You will know the time when your prayers are not answered.
While my servants argue what to do now that the master is in prison, my enemies shall enter my house unopposed and my possessions they take as plunder. The queen shall send her legions to find and take the girl and the weave. The bastard shall send a false prophet to steal my servants and force them to serve him, but he is a cruel master. With my home ransacked, soon the whole city will be in bondage. There will be great pyres of the dead, but even the dead have no rest. Both good and evil shall pass into hell unjudged, for the very keeper of hell is the last signer of this twisted treaty.
Do not fear, for I have prepared for this day. A guard, acquitted of tearing the weave asunder, but still guilty in his heart, having chased the queen to this city shall pass the same door and will work to earn my freedom. A loyal friend visits me in prison and lobbies for my release. Three of my chosen have been sent away and are in hiding. I will take the least of my sentinels and place him under the tutelage of the tortured. Hidden in the shadows, he shall be made strong.
Be steadfast. The fates that have given me this prophesy are fickle. There are many obstacles that must be overcome before the path be made clear.
In awe, Tiberius said, “Do as it is written.”
The soldier stood up and hobbled to Tiberius and sat down next to him. The beggar told Tiberius to once again open his prayer book. Tiberius did as he was told, but as soon as he did, a searing pillar of light lit up the campsite. Tiberius looked out and saw thousands of pillars going in every direction. The beggar spoke.
“The Overseer is searching for us. Pelor is hiding us, but it is only a matter of time. I must go. We will meet again. Read the prayer.” Tiberius responded, “Before I do, what will happen to me?” When he did the beggar had already disappeared.
Tiberius turned to the soldier, but he too was gone so he got down on his knees and began to pray. Although he could not see his prayer book, he instinctively knew what was on the page. “Glorious Pholtus, god of light and law, hear your servant as he weeps.
From ends, beginnings.
From darkness, light.
From tragedy, triumph.
From evil, justice.
Night gives way to dawn.
Dawn to the noontime sun.
I stand in the warmth and purifying light of Pholtus, and I Fear Nothing!
I, Tiberius Hammersmyth have heard your call. I know that you hear me and will protect me. I will be your right hand. I will be your justice. I will be your vengeance!
With this oath, I will fight the greater evil. I will show no mercy for the wicked. I will use all my strength and any means necessary. If your enemies triumph, it is because I failed to stop them!”
With that, Tiberius Hammersmyth, blacksmith Dwarf Paladin took the Oath of Vengeance to a maimed god that could not speak, hear or talk. Throughout the land, the priests and knights of Pholtus found their prayers unanswered, yet Tiberius could now hear his god!