And his hand slid through the hilt as if it were made of dream.

The barbarian stumbled forward, thrown off balance. He turned around, and the sword was gone.

In its place stood a hooded figure, old gray travelers cloak worn thin from endless miles on the road. Agnar glanced around and saw the temple seemed to be caught in gray amber, the clerics at the doors were nearly statues they moved so slow, the demons outside were a painting in stillness. A moment out of time.

The figure squared his shoulders, and fell into a natural fighting stance. Strapped across his back was a massive greatsword, the length of it tightly wound in dark cloth. The cowl slipped back, and Agnar stared into a stranger’s face. His face was clean-shaven, flat as slate — his hair was nearly gone, just gray fuzz on the sides of his head.

“Need is not enough.” the traveler said.

Agnar tried to respond, but found himself mute.

“Fate is not enough.” the traveler said, and Agnar felt the winged mark on his palm burn and itch.

“Rage is not enough. Skill is not enough. Might is not enough. All of these are dust.”

Sand began to pour from the sleeves of the traveler’s cloak, Agnar tasted the desert on his tongue.

“Only love is enough. Only truth is enough. Only sacrifice is enough.”

The traveler turned, and looked out towards the doors of the temple.

“You can bring death, but can you bring life? You have walked in the Light, can you bear its lack? Go out into the world, go without the Bright Lady’s balm, survive, and redeem one of the wicked. One evil soul brought back to the light, and I will be yours to wield — from now unto the Cracking of the World.”

The traveler walked away, and faded even as time slowly wound back to its proper pace. Agnar stared ahead at the demons pounding on the doors of the temple, and felt a dry, empty feeling steal through his limbs. A man who has lived his life ever by the sea, withers and dies when he can not hear the waves crash.

Marlowe looked up with great pain, and smiled with the sadness of knowledge. “Your trial begins, brother. You have stepped out of the Light.”

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