Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
I bounce twice before landing in the sucking pit, the mire like leaden glue about my legs. In the dim flashes of light from the battle above, I see this place is littered with bodies in outlandish armour impaled on barbed spikes. Looking to my left, I see I avoided that ugly fate by His Grace and a hairsbreadth.
The Goddrochi are even-handed in their hatred. All intruders are considered thieves. No matter that we seek to bring the Lord’s light to their benighted ways, nor that we would raise their barbarian culture to the heights enjoyed by all planets under the Grace of God.
In the darkness to my left, something moves. As it slowly approaches, a flash of light from above shows me the bright colours on its tall helm. God’s Wrath, I’m stuck in here with a Larsh Devilcaller!
We fight for the greatest cause: to bring peace to all creation under the Lord’s watch. The number of beings that oppose us are legion, but most are simply misguided. Only a few are clearly inspired by the Adversary himself. Of those, the Larsh are regarded as his equivalent of us. They are warriors for the Devil himself, and seem proud to be so.
Of their malign host, the Devilcallers rank highest as candidates for immediate and inexorable damnation. Leaders of raids, fomenters of banditry, and teachers of thélisimancy across the Heavens, they are oft portrayed by the misguided as ‘freedom fighters’, but are merciless in their opposition to us.
“Trooper. Let us have a truce so we may aid each other up out of this pit.”
The voice is rasping. Rendered by some translation device or malign magick? I know not, nor care.
This very scenario came up during my last year at training college. It’s called the Survival Dilemma: stuck in a situation where assistance from an enemy of the Lord is the only way to survive and continue the Lord’s work, do you accept?
“What do you have in mind?”
“I lift you with my helm in hand. When raised, you take, set, and stand upon the helm. With that added elevation, you should be able to reach the frame about the entrance of the pit and haul yourself free. After that, you cut the frame so it sags down, and go on your way. Tomorrow we will be enemies again. Today, we work together so that we survive this dishonourable Goddrochi death-trap.”
“Verily, a workable solution. Can you assist me in freeing my right leg?”
The towering warrior approaches with a stride that ignores the effort of wading. It’s something I couldn’t manage, and it scares me. Be it brute strength or infernal gift, it’s a powerful advantage.
Far ago, my class argued back and forth over the correct answer, once the faint-hearted abstainers had been taken to task. In the end, the consensus was that it was meet to accept, providing one struck the miscreant down as soon as escape has been effected. I disagreed with them, and refused to yield my position no matter what reasoning they tried. The tutor failed all of them.
As the mask of the Devilcaller comes close enough for me to see myself reflected in the mirrored finish of the leftmost half, I disarm the safety restraint on my power pack and press my thumb onto the ‘Oblation’ button. With a harmonious chime, the pack overloads, giving me until that sound fades to make my peace before it explodes.
My answer was ‘to accept would be cowardice’.
I shall never waver. Glory Be.
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