Return to Index

The Divine Audience

Theodoric’s soldiers took no chances with Lybek. They had him blindfolded, his hands and legs tied down with weights, and marched him up the steps of the Divine Audience.

At the top he turned and called out to the Mad King, his voice ringing loud enough for all to hear. Tyrant! he shouted. A storm approaches for us all! Your crown is the weight that will drown you, but we, the people of Ala Mhigo, will emerge from it renewed. Theodoric laughed, for he had seen many brave but futile last stands.

But as Lybek plummeted down, the sky darkened with storm clouds, and a golden hawk rose from where he fell, its blood-chilling cry echoing as it flew to the heavens. To the witnesses, this was proof of the rumors that he was a prophet of Rhalgr. And though Theodoric tried to quell it, he could not stop the spark of unrest from spreading into a wildfire. The stories only grew from there, that Lybek Fairscribe was an avatar of the Destroyer, or even that Rhalgr himself had descended to condemn the Mad King. Those fanciful tales of divine judgment tipped the scales enough for Curtis Hext to rally his insurgents to victory.

I understood that it was but a thaumaturge’s illusion. Something he could perform even with his hands tied, or perhaps he set up the spell beforehand. As I looked on, I knew that he did not survive the fall.

Even now, I do not know how to reconcile the Lybek I knew with the martyr he became. That day ended in blood, as Theodoric ordered every witness slaughtered. My beloved mentor, who turned away from the Destroyer’s sect, who taught us to cherish every life no matter how insignificant, must have known that he was condemning the hundreds of people he looked upon to die with him. For all his uncanny foreknowledge, did he not see that in the end, their sacrifice would merely trade one kind of tyranny for another?

In this, I am reminded of a senseless method of execution employed by Ishgardian inquisitors, where they would send suspected heretics over the cliffs of Witchdrop. If they transformed into dragons to save themselves, they would be shot from the air, and if they fell to their deaths, it was proof of their innocence. Doomed either way, yet I wonder if I, too, would rather choose a brief moment of freedom in the skies than the promise of eternal salvation.