“However I do have the next step planned.” I had their attention as I spoke. I pulled out the two things that I had hidden away in my belt pouch. A golden bracelet and a golden necklace that I had taken from two of the Apostates at the rebel camp. I could see the Slayer smiling out of the corner of my eye and Undir gasped.
“No, you can’t possibly going to…” She looked afraid and horrified, “You can’t try to use the powers of another god. An Apostate can’t use the powers of two gods or they will die.”
I smiled, “Except that I am no longer an Apostate. I have no conduit, and the powers of Zillk are gone. I don’t know for certain if that is enough but it is enough to make me willing to try. My goal is to do to all of the gods what I did to Zillk, to turn all of their abilities into Keys. And if what the Slayer taught me is correct these are the symbols of Quell, the Deepen of the Ocean and Ulland, the Breaker of Earth. There were 36 gods in the pantheon excluding the Betrayer. I don’t know if I will get them all before I confront the Betrayer but the more Keys that are freed I think the better that my chances are.”
Risgar make a reaching motion as it toward a hammer at his side that wasn’t there, “Ours as well?” He asked.
“If I can figure out how to teach someone to use the Keys then yes. I also do not know what happens to other Apostates of the same god when I turn it into Keys. I automatically know how to use the Keys that I freed from Zillk but I don’t know if that is because I was an Apostate of Zillk or if it was because I created the Keys. That is one of the things I plan on testing.”
Itina spoke again, “These Keys and you changing how the powers of the gods work. Even if it is not enough to kill the Betrayer on its own it still might be enough to change this shadow war in our favor. If you can learn how to teach the use of the Keys we will have a distinct magical advantage against the agents of the Betrayer.”
“That is also my hope.” I said.
It was several days later when I finally was able to try another one of the tests. It had taken that long for me to mostly recover from my injures. My arm still wasn’t wholly better but I could move it again. The blackness in my veins wasn’t going away but the cracked skin had begun to scab over and I was finally able to return to training.
I had secluded myself in the woods outside of the capitol far away from where any prying eyes might be able to see. I wasn’t alone because I had the Slayer watching me. I also had Undir watching because she had been put in charging of watching how I used the Keys and trying to figure out how they worked.
I had brought the bracelet of Quell with me. It was going to be my first real technical test in trying to create keys. The last time had been in the heat of the moment and I only partially remembered how I channeled those forces. Yet before that I went through the other Keys that I had. One by one I let them fill me, tried to understand them, and then finally let them go again. Once I had slowly gone through all of them it was time for the real test.
I placed the bracelet on my arm and reached out toward it with my mystical senses. As first I felt nothing and was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to access Quell’s power. Then when I was least expecting it the power rushed into me forcefully and violently. I only barely managed to avoid getting overwhelmed by it long enough to rip the bracelet off my arm and throw it a few feet away from me. Once I had done that the power vanished and I no longer had to fight for my life against the torrent.
“Are you alright? What happened?” Asked the concerned voice of Undir.
“Quell was a lot more forceful then I expected. I was expecting Quell to be more like Zillk. Zillk’s personalilty and risk was a lot more insidious, tempting me slowly to become more like him. Quell was different, more aggressive, trying to force everything onto me. Probably easier to deal with if you are prepared but it could really do a number on somebody that wasn’t expecting it.
“I see” She said, “Tistral the Ravenborn is more like Zillk that way. You find yourself acting strange with no explanation. Once I remove the conduit and think back on it I realize that it is Tistral’s influence but while it is happening I can’t tell.”
“Zillk was a little more obvious then that but his was usually about revenge and despair so it was easier to pick out which were his personality and which was my own.” Having recovered myself I walked over to the bracelet and picked it up again. I held back the power which I now felt from it, “But is seems that I now count as an Apostate of Quell. Simply touching the conduit is causing the power to fight against my will. I had better work fast to dispose of that violent personality.”
I opened slightly to the power of Quell and I felt it force into me. I fought back against the tide while I reached out toward the Key of Winter. However I couldn’t grasp it, with the power of Quell pushing in on me I couldn’t keep a hold on the Key of Winter. I had to grimace and said to Undir. “I’m afraid I can’t do this alone. I need you to take my sword and brake the bracelet. I can’t seem to use the Keys while facing down Quell’s power.”
She looked concerned but she nodded and pulled the sword from my belt. “Hold still.” She said as she drew the sword back. It was difficult to do that will the power of Quell pushing in on my but I did all that I could to hold still. She brought down the sword on the center of the bracelet, right where the symbol of Quell was. Then I felt that strange sensation again, that of my connection to the god beginning to break.
I knew that was my moment to pull. Like before I pulled all the power of Quell through the broken pieces of the bracelet. I began to sweat in pain and concentration but even with that it still wasn’t as painful as it had been with Zillk. The power of Quell tried to rush and pour into me so it was easy to drag it out. There also wasn’t as much of it as there was for Zillk. Quell wasn’t as power as Zillk had been. I was able to contain all of Quells power without cracking the earth or shattering the air. Some of my scabs broke open once again but there were no new injuries appearing on me.
Once I contained the energies I began breaking it off into different Keys. Quell wasn’t as powerful as Zillk so I only had to created three Keys from that power. As I released the last of them I was then left with the whirlpool of personality that was all that remained of Quell. It was difficult to throw it away and it didn’t want to leave me. With the remaining powers gone I reached for the Key of the Ferryman and used it to pry the remaining personality of Quell out of me and into the dark waters of death. I didn’t know if that really counted as killing the gods again but it did deal with it.
Finally panting I found myself laying on the ground looking toward the sky. I was tired and exhausted.
“Are you alright?” Asked Undir.
I nodded and turned my head to look at her. “I’ve dealt with Quell. Although I don’t think I would also be able to do Ulland today. I don’t know if I could resist another god like Quell or have enough energy left to break apart their power into Keys.”
“I understand. Also it would be unwise to stay around here and try that. This might not have been as noticeable as it was with Zillk but I’m sure people could see the strange ripples of water miles away. We had best return to the base so that we will not be found.”
I tried to pull myself up but my muscles just wouldn’t listen to me. “I don’t know if I can stand by myself after that, you many need to help me get back to the base.”
The Slayer chuckled and said, “You’re just lazy.”
Undir smiled too but she kelt down and helped me stand up. Once she had gotten me to my feet I could basically stand although I needed her shoulder to help me walk. I could also feel the three news Keys out there just beyond my reach, until I called for them. I knew that one of them was the Key of Water. The other two still felt mysterious to me. When breaking apart the Keys I felt like I understood them but that was while I was still holding the personality of Quell. With that gone I didn’t know what they did, only that they had felt right when I made them.
I asked Undir, “Did watching me help you understand what I was doing or how Keys work?”
Undir shook her head, “I feel like I knew what I was looking at but it doesn’t make how to use them any clearer. Maybe if you tried to explain how they worked?”
I pondered that thought. Finally I said, “I’m not quiet certain how to start the explanation. Slayer, how did it feel when you gains the powers of the Key of the Ferryman?”
“I didn’t really do anything to gain the powers of the Key of the Ferryman. After you gave me this cloak I just felt the Key enter me from then on I could just feel the Key just outside my thoughts. Now whenever I want to access it it is there and all I need to do is will it to help me.”
“They way you feel the Keys sounds similar to my own. I can feel them just outside of my grasp but when I mentally call out for them they are there and I feel them filling me with their power. Except that I can feel all of the ones that I created and you can only feel the Key of the Ferryman.”
Undir furrowed her brow, “Maybe it was because you gave her access to the Key. Maybe if you did something similar to someone else that person would be able to access that Key.”
“That is possible, there is also another problem that Quell made me consider. It is possible that Apostates can not use the powers of the Keys. While I was had Quell’s power inside me I was not able to access the Key of Winter. It could have been that Quell was just so forceful that I couldn’t do anything else while resisting Quell, I would need to test that again before I’m certain that it works that way. At the very least I don’t think the powers of the Keys and Apostates can be used at the same time.”
“Still an Apostate who is not holding their Conduit should be able to use the Keys?”
“Probably.” I said, “Now how to give somebody access to the Keys like I did the Slayer.” I looked at my black veined arm which had still not recovered from being dipped in that dark lake. “The way I did it with the Slayer is not really sustainable.”