Curse of the Crimson Throne

In Death - Part II

The Lantern Archon hovered what it deemed a safe distance, as did those other souls that spotted it and Aerich moving through the City of Ragathiel.

Heaven, the final resting place for the lawful and good, was built along an impossibly tall mountain. The mountain base disappeared into the astral plane and whose peak was shrouded in the whitest clouds. The skin of the mountain was divided into seven sections, each ascending section named for the Archangel who ruled over that part of the city. The bottommost section was ruled by Ragathiel, and as the warlord and defender of heaven’s gates, the city was laid out like a fortress. Each building, made of white marble, gold, silver and glass, were magically fortified from damage and arrayed to be defensible, should the walls fall. It gave the city a haphazard appearance compared to the rest of Heaven.

“Cleric,” the Archon chimed, “do you know what you are asking?”

Aerich nodded. “I need Aiori.”

“That will change in time,” the Archon said.

“Time,” Aerich said. He spun on his heel and glared at the glowing orb. “We’re in heaven. Time means nothing here.” Aerich spun, his arms open wide, embracing the beauty of the plane, spinning once. “It doesn’t change the fact that I swore an oath to love her, protect her, and be her companion through life and death.”

“The boatman will not come to heaven,” the Archon pleaded. “The souls here have already been judged by Pharasma. The River Styx does not flow here.”

“I know, we must go the City of Axis and hire a Huntsman to take us to Stygia,” Aerich said, continuing his walk to the rainbow bridge.

“Ragathiel will not allow this,” the Archon protested, its light growing a bit brighter in anger and desperation. “Each of us must follow a natural order to our journey, judged by Pharasma, and Aiori violated it. She won’t face the consequences of her choice. She refuses to accept it and will spend the rest of eternity playing that out.”

Aerich stared at the multicolored bridge, its glitter span reaching up into the sky and then down into the material plane. He was a block away, the massive gates of heaven open, the portcullis retracted, the fortress of Ragathiel open.

It must be a sign.

“The lower planes are not all fire and pain,” the Archon said. “In Stygia, everyone’s hell is unique. There, the real hell is facing that your life went wrong over and over again.”

“Her life didn’t go wrong,” Aerich bellowed, spinning back at the Archon. “It was snatched from her by the banal indifference of man. If she forsake her oath it was because Sarenrae refused to hear the prayers of her faithful servant. That is evil, Archon, and her soul is paying the price for her Gods indifference!”

“That is blasphemous, Cleric,” the Archon gasped.

“That is my Oath, Archon,” Aerich said, “Should I share my heart with another mortal, my love’s honor shall be as my own, below only Ragathiel’s calling. As my spirit belongs only to Ragathiel, so will I share of the flesh only with my love. I will find her and I will bring her home and nothing will stop me.”

The Archon was silent.

“She is in Stygia, and it is because she cannot forgive herself or Sarenrae,” Aerich finished, turning and heading for the bridge, “she needs absolution, and if no one here has the fortitude or capacity for forgiveness to give her that, then by my oath I must do so or die trying.”

“There are fates worse than death, Cleric,” the Archon said. “There is madness.”

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