Time passed. It always does. My life brought unimaginable joy as well as crushing pain. Gann and I were married, not long after our first trip to West Harbor. Although Crossroad Keep was our home, we'd been back often since. I had no idea how happy I would be. Gann was always a source of love, comfort and humor in a life that had been sorely lacking in all three. He was everything I never even knew I wanted.
But our marriage brought its share of pain too. We were never quite able to get a real answer for why, but no matter what the reason, we'd not been able to have children. We had Wolf and his friends, and they become our children, but never any of our own. And the gods knew we'd tried. That was one prayer Sune never answered for us. Gann blamed his blood; I blamed my hard life and the spirit-eater curse. In the end, it didn't matter, the result was the same.
Even with that pain, my life was good. I had friends, a home, and love . . . love I think neither of us expected.
Up until then, I'd lived in a whirlwind of adrenaline and quick decisions. I found love and lost it just as quickly. I'd never known a love like this before. Once the initial giddiness wore off, as it must, it deepened into a comfortable connection. It was sweet, calm thing that stood like a tree in a storm. Strong enough to not be broken by the winds because it was flexible enough to bend.
But time is a cruel master. Eventually, we had more to blame Gann's blood for. We honestly weren't sure how long a hagspawn could live. Most died young in service to their mothers, and other than himself, Gann had not known many of his own kind. And he was older than he looked.
When we'd met in Rashamen, he'd just had his 52nd birthday. Night hag blood was a powerful thing. But although he never seemed to age as I did, on a dark winter night, when I was now 52 and 22 years since he'd come to the Sword Coast, age finally caught up to Gann.
He looked the same on the outside, true, but his body had aged inside even more than mine had on the outside. My hair was streaked with white, my face was lined, but he didn't seem to see any of that as I sat by his bedside. He tried to smile, but grimaced. He was in pain all the time now. It broke my heart that I couldn't help him. Age had made me even more emotional than I'd been in my youth, and although I tried to be strong, tears fell anyway.
"Do not cry, love," he said, his voice a raspy whisper. "I will be safe; you've seen to that."
"I know," I replied, running my hand over his face. His skin was cold. Too cold.
"Who'd have ever thought I'd learn to believe in those gods of yours? But Tymora . . . she's been with me all along, and I just hadn't realized it," he said softly. I smiled.
Lady Luck. She certainly had been. He'd survived being abandoned to the wilds, living in a place that saw him only as a threat. He found love, despite incredible odds. So she'd become his patron. After learning so much about the higher planes, I'd tried very hard to accept her too, so we could be together when our lives had ended. But I couldn't, no matter what I did. Gann had come to accept that too.
"I know my time is coming," he continued. "And I don't mind so much. I've had more of a life than any hagspawn ever had. More than this poor hagspawn deserved anyway."
"Hush," I whispered. "You've earned every moment of it. You are a good man Gann."
"Only because you've made me so," he said. He reached up and put his finger across my lips before I could speak. His hands too were so very cold. "Do not say I have done it myself. I know you, you'll want none of the credit. But it is yours nonetheless. Your love, and my love for you, it healed me. That is how I am as I am. I want you to know . . . ."
His words were halted by a fit of coughing. He put his hand over his mouth and his eyes squeezed shut. A shudder of pain wracked him. When he finally stopped and pulled his hand away it was stained with blood.
"Oh Gann," I sobbed, leaning over to embrace him. His arms wrapped around me. "How will I live without you?"
"You'll never be without me," he said. "I will always be with you."
Gann died that night. In the darkest hours before dawn, he'd breathed his last. The pain of that was crushing, but surprisingly bearable. I'd learned long ago that nothing doesn't change. And I knew that Gann was safe. We'd had a wonderful life together I didn't want to lessen its joy by weeping forever. I didn't want to make the same mistakes Daeghun had, crawling so deep inside myself that I couldn't see the sun.
So I went on. I'd long retired from any foolish notion of running the keep, although I was still treated as such. I let those younger than me do the actual work now. I was tired. Very tired.
Although I accepted things as they were, I felt like something was missing. I had prayed to many different gods over the years, but I'd never chosen one for myself. I wasn't false, I prayed in earnest, but I often wondered what would happen to me when I died. What would Kelemvor's judgement be of one such as me?
I found myself going to the Temple of Tyr more and more often. I was coming to understand why Casavir had dedicated his life to him. There was a tranquility to knowing what was right and what was wrong, what was just and what was an injustice. The Even Handed. I found a peace there that I could find nowhere else.
I found new joy in the young clerics and paladins. Their enthusiasm for life and for Tyr was like a shining light. So much of it in Casavir's name, and strangely in Gann's as well. He was very well loved, not just for being the husband of the savior of Neverwinter, but on his own merit. They knew he'd found a chaotic lady for his patron, and although most couldn't understand the choice, they loved him anyway.
I always loved to have them tell me stories about how he'd encourage them, play games of wit and sarcasm laced liberally with love. I had many a happy hour listening alternately to prayers and funny tales. I knew I'd lived my life well.
And again, time slipped by like a shadow. Fleeting and too swiftly lost in the approaching twilight. Not many years, true, but I knew I wasn't to be so lucky as Gann to have a long life. I knew with no uncertainty that I wouldn't live to see my 60th winter. Something was growing inside of me that even the clerics could not halt, and each day it took a little more until I was only a shell of what I'd once been.
I knelt before the altar in the temple. It was past midnight and I was alone. I knew the clerics would have been angry to see my out of my bed, but I knew there was so little time left, and I didn't want to waste it staring at the ceiling over my bed. I'd rather kneel here, fighting the pain, and stare at the face of Tyr so I could feel at peace.
So long ago, I'd spent a night like this. Pondering my life in a temple, with Tyr watching over me. My friends had come to me that night, offering help and kind words to help me prepare for the coming battle with Lorne. And Casavir had come and offered me his sword, and in unspoken words his heart too, long before he'd had the courage to speak them. Or I had. I smiled at my youthful foolishness now. I'd long ago stopped regretting the choices I'd made. I was happy with how my life had blossomed. There was no place for regret in a well lived life.
But I was so tired.
I leaned forward and rested my head against the cool stone steps and closed my eyes. Even with them closed, I could still feel Tyr's benevolent gaze watching over me. I drifted. Sleep and something deeper was waiting.
At first, darkness. Silence.
Then light. A more brilliant light than I'd ever seen, coming from nowhere and everywhere. A warm breeze. And then, blue skies and mountains. Impossibly beautiful in shades of violet and dove grey, capped with perfect pristine white snow. The sound of singing.
A slow smile spread over my face. I knew this place, although I'd never seen it. Mount Celestia.
I looked around, and then looked at my hands. Gone were the thin spotted hands I'd worn, replaced by the smooth skin of youth. I touched my face. The lines that had become so familiar were erased, as if time had never ravaged me.
I heard a voice coming from behind me. As first, couldn't understand the words, but they slowly got louder and I could make them out. Very familiar words indeed.
". . . You are not forsaken.
You are not forgotten.
The North cannot swallow you.
The snows cannot bury you.
I will come for you.
Faerun will grow warmer,
And the gods will smile
But oh, my love, guard yourself well-
All this may not happen for a long, long while."
The voice was soothing, deep and male. And something else. I took a deep breath, but didn't move to face the man I knew was standing behind me.
"But now," the voice continued. "That time has finally come."
I felt no fear. There was no courage to gather to turn. But I wanted this moment to last, and the next moment. That one too I'd want forever. And here, in Elysium, it would last forever. A reward for a life well lived. My heart was near to bursting. I thought of Gann, my heart swelled. I thought of Daeghun, Elanee, Neeshka and Khelgar. I thought of even Bishop and I forgave him as I never really had before.
No pain, no sorrow. Only joy, and love. Slowly, I turned around.
Silver armor. A blue cloak, blowing in incense sweet wind. And perfectly pale blue eyes, smiling at me as if no time or pain had ever passed between us.
"Welcome to the House of the Triad," Casavir said. "Welcome home."