Faith

Faith

A Story by M
"

A wandering monk finds redemption and his true identity. A Diablo 3 fan fiction.

"

At last I’d found him. The one who marked the end of my miserable journey.

I spotted him from a low balcony, shrouded in the shadow of a moonlit night. The Haunter. He stood over a helpless woman, flanked by two cultists brandishing ritual daggers. Her dress was torn and a man lay slain beside her as she pleaded to the angels above for help.

I tried to savor the moment but I couldn’t. I felt a twist in my stomach and a sense of dread. What if I failed again? An eon had passed with so many deaths it made me feel sick. A rage filled me. I felt contempt for everything he’d done, the desire to leave this place, and the sinking feeling of helplessness.

I leapt to the ground, landing between him and the woman. Suppressing the sudden shock of pain in my old legs I stood tall, letting the moon cast light upon my face. For a moment he was taken aback.

‘Surprised?’ I asked, locking eyes with him.

‘You? It can’t be you again...’ he said, his voice shifting from surprise to anger. ‘I killed you!’

I moved toward him without altering my gaze, all the time aware that his lackeys were slowly creeping up behind me. ‘You should have made sure.’ As they predictably pounced in unison, I sparked a blinding flash of light and shifted underneath their outstretched arms. Confused, they stabbed around aimlessly at each other. I quickly summoned my strength, and with deadly reach I smote one cultist with a punch of pure force to his skull, splitting it in two. I sidestepped behind the other cultist and unleashed a barrage of thunderous punches to his spine, breaking it apart in multiple places until he collapsed onto the ground in a contorted heap.


I turned my gaze to The Haunter, who was attempting to summon dark demons to his aid. As quick as my weary old frame would move, I dashed at him, striking him in the throat with the brunt of my knuckles. His wind pipe collapsed, cutting his demonic chant short. I foolishly stopped and watched, reveling as his hands feebly gripped his throat, without realizing that through the pain he was forcing his larynx back into place. He whispered but a few words and before I knew it his whole body began shuddering in agony. He had allowed a demon to take his body as a vessel in a last ditch attempt to best me. With deadly precision, I kicked in both of his deformed, bulbous knee caps, rooting the demon to the ground just as the transformation completed. Unable to turn, I struck him rapidly seven times from seven different sides, each time more vicious than the last. I laid the final strike upon his demonic heart, annihilating his soul.

 

Finally, it was done. Vengeance paid. No loose ends left to tie up and nothing left worth living for.

 

It was time to leave this hellhole. This world full of anguish, spite and treachery; a world not worth saving.

 

As I meandered to the outskirts of town I heard faint, muffled cries for help. I stopped for a moment then moved on. As I reached the edge of town, bordering the desert, I saw a brief flash on a rooftop in the corner of my eye. I turned to look but there was nothing but a ragged cloak blowing in the wind.

 

During my lonely trek through the desert I felt a presence following me. Whatever it was, I didn’t mind. In some strange sense, it seemed to calm my loneliness - the foreboding feeling that there was nothing left in this world that noticed me. No one that cared and nothing that changed. If there were gods above us, they must have stopped looking down a long time ago.

 

I reached the killing fields by dusk, just as the sky turned a tinge of orange. Sleets of thunderhead streaked the heavens in all manner of shapes and patterns the mind could imagine. Its beauty was a stark contrast to the war below. On the barren, rocky earth, an ebbing mass of barbarians, demons and undead fought an incessant and pointless battle. For what? For no one and nothing I cared about. They fought because it was all they knew and all they were created for. A song and dance of endless, mindless noise.

 

I thought that perhaps after I died they would tear my body apart and scatter it across the fields. Perhaps it would burn amongst the pyres or be trampled to pieces underneath the relentless armies. My mind drifted into a daydream of possibilities...


I lifted the knife from my sash with both hands, took a deep breath and plunged it into my chest. I gritted my teeth and sliced open my stomach, left to right, in one clean motion. My hands shook uncontrollably, dropping the knife. A few undead took heed. Good, I thought. I grimaced and defiantly showed them my insides. The pain was excruciating. The last thing I remembered was a small flock of wretched dead shambling towards me as I blacked out and fell to the ground.

 

I awoke in a makeshift cowskin tent, the roof flashing red and orange. I heard the crackling of a fire outside. I lurched over and felt its warmth. I looked down upon my stomach and slowly unraveled a bandage someone had wrapped around me. I could smell sweet ointments on my skin. As expected, my stomach had somehow sealed itself and left behind yet another horrible scar. At that instant my heart dropped. I felt tired, so tired; helplessly stuck in this hell hole for eternity. The pain I felt in that moment outweighed what I had felt just moments before on the killing fields.

 

As I lay, I looked around for answers. A ragged cloak appeared in the tent’s opening, blowing gracefully in the wind. It rotated and a hood was pulled down revealing a soot-ridden but picturesque face. Of course. She had followed me all the way from town and must have dragged me from the killing fields under a smoke screen.

 

‘Why?’ I queried.

 

She gracefully slinked inside the tent. She had a small, petite frame and a round, innocent face. Not what I expected - she was but a child.

 

She was astonished to see my stomach had fully healed. She stared at me as if I were a god. I looked down in disgrace upon my disfigured body, my skin distorted by burn marks and covered in a thick entanglement of scars. She reached out with her hand in disbelief but I quickly deflected her. She retreated into a ball in the corner of the tent, yet kept staring at me in awe. I covered my body in shame and got up to leave.

 

‘You have an honest heart,’ she said.

 

‘You’re wrong. I care for nothing and no one in this world.’ I tightened my robe and collected my amulet and rings she’d placed neatly beside the pillow.

 

She saw right through me. ‘You’re wrong,’ she remarked.

 

I stared into the burning embers of the fire, unable to look her in the face. It had been an eon since someone had shown this disfigured old beast of a man any sort of kindness.

 

‘Why bother saving a useless old man?’ I snapped.

 

She tried to hide her face under her hood, but it shone in the light of the fire. I saw a tear fall from her eye.

 

‘You saved my mother,’ she whispered.

 

Her sweet voice and naïve innocence reminded me of someone I knew a long time ago. Someone on the edge of my fading memory, but one I couldn’t recall. Either way I knew I wouldn’t have died out there on the fields. She didn’t know that, so she saved me anyway. She didn’t care at all about what I appeared to be, all she saw was my heart.

 

Such a pure and kind creature in this cesspool of a world. Children don’t judge, they accept you for who you are and see only your heart. This girl didn’t see in me what I saw, she saw beyond that. She saw who I was inside. At what age do we become so superficial, so cynical, so selfish? How long had it been?

 

‘Please, help us,’ she asked sweetly.

 

I mustered up all the strength of will I had left.

 

‘Find someone else. I’m not who you think I am.’

 

I left her campsite and headed east. To where? I didn’t know - it was just a feeling. I came upon a rock canyon and heard a demonic chant echoing towards me. I slid into a narrow crevice and patiently hid as a procession of cultists passed by. Once they were clear I moved on, but I had the sinking feeling something terrible would happen. The feeling gripped my mind tight like a vice and I froze in place. An anger simmered in my heart until it burned like a raging fire of retribution around me.

 

I turned around at the thought of the cultists defiling the little girl.

 

When I reached the campsite, it was not as I expected. The bodies of a few cultists were lying on the ground, each impaled through the chest with caltrops stuck in their feet. Behind the tent I saw the remaining cultists descending upon the crouched and terrified little girl.

 

I laid them unto the earth with a cyclonic strike of energy that obliterated their filthy souls. I calmed myself and took a deep breath from the heavens in the presence of the girl - something I had not needed to do in a long time.

 

Drained of spirit and facing a larger retaliatory force, I decided it was not wise to trek east. I followed the girl back to town and witnessed her skip snug into her mother’s open arms. My heart jumped a beat.

 

The mother kindly invited me back to their home. She was old and feeble, but even as she limped alongside her daughter she kept trying to wipe the girl’s grimy face without success.

 

Their hut was filled with trinkets and scrap. The little girl showed me various contraptions she’d constructed from discarded weapons in the killing fields. It was remarkable she hadn’t accidentally killed herself already. I watched the mother as she cooked a small meal for us with limited rations, never sitting down and politely refusing to eat anything until we were finished.

 

Afterwards, I surveyed the town. I knew the cultists would return that night in greater numbers. I had to stay and fight. So many times before, I’d wasted my life on a petty quest for personal revenge, or had selfishly tried to end my own pain. This time it would mean something, but a feeling of dread washed over me - I couldn’t possibly stop them all. They would eventually kill me and run rampant through the town, defiling the girl, killing her mother and sacrificing everyone else.

 

The pain of failure and loss returned to me. It was exactly why I told myself I wouldn’t be that way. I didn’t want to be that person, but I knew I was. She was right.

 

Soon after nightfall, a procession of fire appeared on the horizon. A smoky haze rose over a sea of burning torches as the cultists and their demonic army drew near. There was a sudden crack of thunder - a flash of lightning struck the ground directly in front of me. I looked up, dazed, and a being of light appeared floating before me.

 

Thinking it a scout of the oncoming horde, I launched myself forwards with a crippling wave of attacks. Seeing it was unharmed and unmoving, I foolishly struck at the being of light with my fists one hundred fold. Unconcerned, it grabbed me by the throat and threw me down, pinning me to the dirt. It materialized into the appearance of what was unmistakably an angel.

 

‘Eliphas, do you remember now?’ the angel asked.

 

‘Remember what?’

 

The angel sighed. ‘The Council have a wonderful sense of humor don’t they?’ it said with a hint of contempt. ‘You were once one of us.’ Its grip loosened and it looked away.

 

I didn’t say anything. Thinking it some kind of trick, I instead looked for a weakness in its torso armor I could exploit.

 

The angel continued, ‘Long ago you were a protector of these people - you cared, you defended and you fought, but you lost. After the death of your child you went mad - psychotic even - you lost all hope. You lost faith in humanity, the Council, yourself, everything...

 

‘Imperius didn’t believe Sanctuary was worth saving and he’d had enough of you. He decreed your mind be cleansed and you be banished here in human form, but unable to die so that you would forever see how you’d wasted your time here.’

 

I concentrated, reciting a mantra of conviction to myself in preparation to strike at a flaw I’d found in its breastplate.

 

The angel looked directly into my eyes. ‘You didn’t waste your time here. Tyrael and I defied him, but in the end Imperius had his way.’

 

The angel drew off its helmet revealing a feminine face, perfectly sculpted, one I thought I recognized but couldn’t place. I calmed myself and decided to listen a little longer. She released her grip and knelt before me.

 

‘I knew if I waited long enough your mind would be restored. It just needed time to heal. I believed in you all these years and secretly watched over you, unable to intervene. I’ve witnessed all your pain.’

 

‘Felowynn.’ The name rolled off my tongue from a long forgotten memory, resurfacing as I spoke it.

 

‘Yes, my love.’ A tear rolled down her cheek. I wanted to comfort her.

 

‘Our daughter wasn’t like us,’ she said quietly. ‘She was fragile... human. Everything had been taken from her, so we loved her as our own. She opened up your world; I almost couldn’t believe the impact she had on you.’ She paused.

 

‘I couldn’t bare to see how you crumbled after we lost her.’ We shared a moment in silence. My mind bore regret and anguish. Feelings of loss and anger surfaced from a past life.

 

She looked up to the heavens, as if listening to something I couldn’t hear. I saw nothing there.

 

‘Eliphas, he says you can return to us! The time is desperate and he needs you. You can be one of us again or forever remain this way, but you need to make your choice now.’


Suddenly, a wash of bitterness and spite spat from my mouth. ‘Why should I join you? To go through it all again? To be a pawn in his game? If I had the chance, I would end that tyrant!’

 

I saw the desperation growing in Felowynn’s beautiful eyes, ‘Yes, I agree he is cruel and sometimes heartless, but all he knows is war. Forget him. Don’t you want to be with me again? Don’t you love me?’ she pleaded.

 

I did.

 

However, I didn’t want to be a part of their world again. I would rather have died another million times over than to have served that tyrant again.

 

The rumbling of a thousand marching hoofs brought me to my feet. The cultists and their demonic horde had reached the edge of town. The inhabitants fled in droves, screaming for their lives. I knew I couldn’t save them as I was. Not this old man.

 

Ancient feelings of love, war, retribution, loss, hatred and bitterness gushed through me. All that I was in my former life returned to my mind.

 

‘We’ve been apart for an eon, Felowynn,’ I said. ‘But only now I know how much I’ve missed you.’ It was the strangest feeling. ‘I have one condition.’

 

‘Yes?’ she asked.

 

‘Take the girl and her mother away from here. Ensure their safety above all else.’

 

‘I will do it, my love,’ she smiled with glistening eyes, knowing I had truly returned.

 

The little girl, who had been listening all along, stepped forward stubbornly with a crossbow in hand. ‘I’m gonna fight.’

 

I looked down on her round little face, both brave and naïve at the same time. She reminded me of my daughter. There was something in this world worth saving. It was her... and those like her.

 

‘Stay behind me at all times,’ I commanded.

 

I stood tall, resplendent in full battle plate, my glorious wings restored, and carrying a burning sword. The little girl looked at me in exactly the same way as she did before. To her I looked no different. I smiled at her.

 

I cut through the army in a chorus of screaming flame. It felt righteous. Each sweep of my sword sung a note that felled a dozen cultists and Fallen. My speed was unmatched, even by the incessant teleporting of demon imps. Amidst the cleansing, my little friend picked off scores of targets with an artful flurry of arrows and bola shots. Gracefully, she danced behind me in battle, her face stern with concentration.

 

After the battle I calmed myself, then knelt before Felowynn. I took a deep breath and confessed to her. ‘I’m sorry my love... but I refuse to return to the High Heavens. I am staying here on Sanctuary, even if it means I must return to human form for an eternity of torture. I have faith in what these humans are capable of, and I will fight alongside them until my last breath.’

 

Felowynn smiled at my heart, just as it used to be. ‘Eliphas, your allegiance does not matter. All that matters is that you have faith. Faith in something that is worth fighting for - even in the face of death. Just like this little girl who risked everything because she had faith in you.’ She looked up for a moment and smiled as if the sky had opened, revealing the heavens. ‘I will remain here with you.’


At last I’d found what I was really looking for. Only this time it wasn’t the end, it was the beginning. A new beginning.


© 2017 M



Author's Note

M
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Added on November 28, 2017
Last Updated on November 28, 2017
Tags: redemption, loss, love, betrayal, regret

Author

M
M

Australia



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