A tribute to Lenard Lakofka
By Drew Griffiths
Edited by Thomas Kelly
They all had felt the summons. Whether they wanted to or not, one by one, it compelled them to make their way to that place gods alone could go. They arrived in a colossal room without walls, with views through windows where there were no windows. One among them looked out on a solitary pathway, into a void where no god dared go.
Phaulkon, Master of Birds and Wind Archer looked to red-bearded Kord. He saw his own heartbreak reflected back in Kord’s face. Nearby, one of the gods softly wept, perhaps Lydia, goddess of music and daylight. It took a moment for Phaulkon to notice—Wee Jas, mistress of magic and steward of the dead, had managed to remain absent. A brief moment for hope? But then Lendor appeared before his progeny. “It is time,” the god of time announced.
“No!” a hollow voice echoed back from planes beyond the room but not beyond the enveloping void.
“Wee Jas, it is time” insisted Lendor. He looked to Phaulkon. “Stop helping her.”
Phaulkon might have feigned innocence or denied his complicity, but he knew that this was a contest he could not win. He bowed his head, “Sorry father, it’s not just me; we are all involved.”
“I know,” Lendor gazed upon each of the gods in turn. “I didn’t want this either, but it’s time.”
Norebo, lord of chance, suggested, “Could we not just re-roll the dice?”
Lydia began to weep again, her sobs like soft music.
Ugly Syrul the deceiver spoke, “Why even bother to tell him the truth? Who would blame us for lying? Perhaps he will believe, and that’s all that matters.”
That was the moment Wee Jas arrived to appear before Lendor. “He will know the truth, like we all know the truth. Somewhere out beyond the limits of our sight, a piece of him has already slipped away. We all know this. I have been seeking it, but even with all of your help, that which would make him whole again is gone. It is too late.”
“Then it is time, and no time remains,” the god of time grew stern. “Whoever conceals him, release and reveal him now, or I will!”
Wee Jas vainly resisted his will, fought back tears that fell from her eyes. They streaked down her beautiful face and struck the floor. A mist arose and swirled around the immortals. It coalesced into a ghostly, elderly man. He looked frail, confused, disoriented in the midst of the gods.
Lendor approached the old man. “Leomund, do you know why you are here?”
The old man raised his head to gaze into the eyes of the god of time. Leomund immediately recognized the god he had served so long and began to weep with a brief moment of joy. He was surprised to see the sorrows of his own heart etched into the features of Lendor’s immortal face. “Do all the gods ordinarily assemble to greet a soul when we die?”
“No,” Lendor replied. “Only for you.”
“Oh, I see.” The old man nodded sagaciously, as if pondering the deeper meaning. “Is this where I am to spend eternity?”
Phaulkon stepped towards Leomund, “Is that what you desire?”
“You have other choices you might want to consider, Leomund,” Lendor offered.
The old man searched the faces of the gods for some explanation, “I don’t understand!”
Wee Jas spoke, “Can you not feel it Leomund?”
Leomund locked eyes with her teary gaze, “Is this not how all souls feel?”
Wee Jas trembled as if she might break, as if they all could break. She held herself firm. “What do you remember?” she asked.
Confusion clouded his mind. Remember what exactly? His death? Well that was had to be what happened, but had he not died before? Had he not been brought back to life though powerful dweomercraft or the power of the gods themselves? Why should things be different this time? But it felt very different—as if a part of him was missing, lost somehow. He looked down at his own body and took note of his wispy wraithlike form. It was as if he was not completely there. As he stared at his insubstantial self, Wee Jas drew close and took his hands in hers. Immediately he began to feel more substantial, but at the same moment, Wee Jas herself began to fade, to disperse, to take shape into him. “No! Stop!” shouted Leomund, pulling his hands free from the goddess. He stepped back from her and stared, fearfully, into the dismayed faces of the many gods. Lendor merely looked on sadly.
Realization dawned slowly. It’s not that I have died, is it. But somewhere else, maybe not in this universe, but in some other universe, the other me that I had always known to be there, a piece that perhaps all the gods here knew as well, is gone. That’s why all the gods gaze upon me so piteously! They too have lost some irretrievable piece of themselves.
“What are … you said there were other choices?” Leomund stuttered. He asked Lendor directly.
“You have the choice to live on, on Oerth. If that is your wish. Live as an immortal in that world. But you will forever be without the part of you that has already vanished. Or, if you desire it, ascend to become a god. Wee Jas herself was willing to make that sacrifice for you. Transcend what you are now, and seek what is lost. But without promise you will find him or fill what is missing, or you could …”
“Stop,” protested Wee Jas. Phaulkon stepped forward to comfort her, but she pulled away from the offer of his feathered embrace. “You can’t let him take the path into the void. He will be then gone forever!”
At last Leomund could fully see where he stood, in a room without walls, facing a pathway made of steps that he could not really see but knew to be there, leading away into the impenetrable blackness. “What is at the end of the path?”
“Nobody knows,” Lendor admitted.
“Will I find that part of me that is already gone?”
“I don’t know. None of us know. Perhaps.”
Leomund knew at once what choice he must make, and in that instant, all the gods knew it too. It was as if it had always meant to be this way. It was time. Not the time of his choosing. But time, just the same. He looked back over his shoulder. All the gods were behind him now, bowing to him—bowing to a mortal man. He stepped onto the path and was gone.
One by one, the gods vanished from the room at the edge of forever, until only Lendor remained, keeping vigil, staring into the void for the remainder of time.