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War II: Revelations

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That evening saw Meliantha in private dining with Loran, telling him the story of where she'd been for the past two years.

"Ah, heard about the great East in so many stories. But it was good for ye, lass?"

She took a deep breath and considered. "Yes. I healed a lot. I learned a lot." She smiled a little. "I'm not a master at it, but I can handle myself without a sword now. And I left the place better than it was when I arrived, which is the best I can ask for." She stopped, trying to think of how to explain what happened next, when there was a rapping at the door.

Loran rose, and opened the door. "Ah, just who I was hoping for." He stepped back, and a figure in plate armor strode in, then removed his helmet. Meliantha recognized the jawline first, then the ears, and she smiled a little bit more.

"Sir Taralanth," she said, "the blessing on Helm upon you."

The young paladin she'd known at the temple smiled. "I understand that is truer for you than you know." He set the helmet down, and sat. "You've had an eventful few years."

"What are you doing in Arabel?" she asked.

"I felt a call to come here. I got here just after you turned the tide, but I felt no call to leave. But I understand you've had a great awakening. I can sense powers blooming within you."

"I was just about to tell Loran about it, but you might have some insights as well." And she told them the story of Mistress Danhiela and the visions she had had.

When she finished, there was a pause, and then both of them started throwing questions at her, then stopped, and Taralanth bowed his head. "I was rude, I apologize." Loran nodded, and turned to ask his first question again:

"Lass, how did you not go mad?"

"I may have," she admitted. "But it was like I was bring protected from that."

"It makes sense. I expect the blessings stood you there. The stories..." he paused. "What have you been able to do so far?"

"Well, there was the healing, and I know I'm stronger. I haven't had much of a chance to experiment -- I've been rather busy."

Tanalanth nodded. "There may be a book at the temple. I'll go there, and see what I can find." He regarded Meliantha gravely for a moment, then smiled. "If we can give firm proof you were Chosen by Helm, that'll throw things to chaos. A sign of great troubles coming." He rose. "I should take action as fast as I can. And I suggest," he said, pointing at Meliantha, "you pray tonight, and ask for guidance." With that, he departed.

"As if I wasn't going to," she said. "And use some of Shen Gao's teachings." She rubbed her eyes. "So tired," she said. "I'm for bed."

"I've sent a message to Berdusk on your behalf, lass, and I expect yon armored lad is doing the same." He rose as she did, and gifted her with a hug. "Rest up. This crisis isn't over yet."

"Oh, I know," she said. "I know." She returned the hug, and then made her way to the small room she'd been assigned for the night. Once there, she hung Chainbreaker on the wall, laid out a book near him, stripped to her undergarments, and sat down on the bed. She took a deep breath, and followed the process that Shen Gao had taught her to empty and focus her mind. She almost fell herself falling... and then felt herself rising up, light shining on her face

This was not expected, she thought, and opened her eyes.

She found herself in a brightly lit room of stone and wood, not unlike the chambers she'd grown up in.  Standing before her was an elderly knight in shining plate armor. "Ah," he said, "you're the one." He nodded. "And you've already started to discover what you can do. Good, good. Not an idiot. Excellent."

"May I ask your name?" she inquired. "I expect you know mine."

He smiled broadly. "Excellent, Meliantha." He gestured at himself. "I am Tarquil MacHarthon, and I was the first Chosen of the Gauntlet. By coming here in spirit, you can now be taught all of what is granted you. I know you're a quick learner -- you've already learned the Healing -- but now, the rest."

She remained still, not interrupting him.

"You can call on Helm to protect someone in danger, granting them a field that will make others loathe to harm them; to call forth a shield of your faith; to break magic completely around you, and once per day you can bring for the Wall of Many Colors -- but you are not immune to it, so be careful if you use it! You can declare someone your charge, and interpose yourself, the power of Helm granting you the ability to protect them."

She nodded, the part of her mind that loved tactics cataloguing these abilities and how to use them.

"Those are powers that can be used to protect others. To protect yourself, you can see truly what stands before you -- piercing illusions and cloaks and disguises. Your mind can no longer be forced into any action, even greater than the power of the blade you wield. Your sword -- or any sword of a like make - can break through any protection and have a chance to shatter sorceries placed on those you strike. Your armor, what there is of it, will protect you more, and your skin itself will not break except under the mightiest of blows from weapons that are not enchanted. You will be untouched from any poison or disease, and be able to ignore a measure of damage from fire, cold, or lightning. And finally, you only need sleep two hours a day, so you may keep watch."

She nodded. "Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet! Now you have to learn to truly use them. Let's begin."

Time after time he ran her through the skills, showing her how they worked until they were a part of her. He was a stern teacher, but made it clear that what he was doing was teaching her so she would survive, and he was willing to praise when she did well, or surprised him. It seemed to take days, although in her mind she knew it was merely hours.

"Good, good," he finally said. "One last thing."

And then Helm manifested there, and both had knelt before them.

"My Chosen." The helmed head turned to Tarquil. "Do you think she Is prepared?"

"My lord," Tarquil replied, "I have instructed her as best as I could, and I do not think she could have learned any faster. I expected it to take more time, but she's a quick learner." He gestured at Meliantha. "She'll serve you well."

The helm traversed back to Meliantha. "So judges my first Chosen. Now take your charge." He seemed to swell again, twice and then three times the height of a man. "Bane and Cyric are at war, and neither of them cares about those who will be hurt in the process. But this is a trying time, where a wall alone cannot stand. And so, my newest Chosen, I will try a new idea, one I have heard some of my priests suggest, that the best defense is a firm offense. I charge you to find a way to protect the people by destroying those that would do them harm." He held up a hand. "Others, such as your father, will take the opportunity to seize power and advance their plans. Do not let them go unnoticed." He lowered it. "I am asking a great deal of you. I would not if I did not believe that you were best suited for this. Take my blessing, my Chosen, and know you go with my trust."

Meliantha's heart swelled. "If not for those who raised me, I would not be worth of it, my lord."

"And they will also be blessed. Go now, and rest. You have a great deal ahead of you."

Meliantha slept three hours that night; the training, even if she had left her body behind, was some of the most rigorous she'd ever had.