Stone hard truths

Amros positioned himself so that the corpse was to his left and can be studied easily while the large slab of stone was directly before him. His color palette contained not an ounce of paint. Instead, a handful of smoking pipes were placed in the wells, their aromas flowing out in serpentine smoke intertwining and fading into the recesses of the room. Behind Amros, Jerji was plucking away at his lute a slow somber tune. Traditionally, when you ask Jerji to play you something you offer either the piece to play or the mood to set. This time, Amros simply asked if he can help him. To which Jerji responded by simply getting up and selecting two instruments to carry with him. He then just followed Amros into the makeshift morgue and chose a comfortable place to play. Amros picked up one of the pipes and inhaled softly but very deeply. He always felt this mix of hash that allowed him to concentrate more, the main ingredient was a weed he found the gardeners removing outside the church. The first phase needed focus more than anything else so it was an obvious choice. In battle, incantations are fast and deliberate with instantaneous results. However now, when the need is to stretch the duration of the spell and resolve it in minute detail, how you cast the spell is imperative. With the final words to the spell consummating with Jerji playing the final note to his opening piece, it was done. The sides of the rock wobbled for just a moment then went back. Holding his concentration, Amros began to work on the base of the stone. The stone was softer than any clay a sculptor would use and he manipulated with graceful hands as he saw fit. He first fashioned the general shape of a foot on the outsides of the stone. Picking up a different pipe this time he began to analyze the details in the strange creature’s clawed feet. He set the pipe down and and began to mimic everything he saw onto the stone. Jerji’s second piece flowed beautifully but somehow never left the lower registers of sound, it was deep and carried you with through a journey into the caverns of your mind. Soon, Amros had begun working up the leg and then the thigh. Looking once again at the dead body, Amros couldn’t believe this was the father of perhaps his closest brother. The only proof he could find was the scaling on its body. On occasion when Sheyba used his breathe weapon or when the light hit just right, you could catch a glimpse of it faintly outlined across his body but only if you were paying attention and for brief moments. Turning back to the stone he continued his work.
The loud thuds coming from the stairs in quick succession gave all the indication needed to who was coming and with that Amros exhaled out a sigh and braced for Sheyba to come barreling through the door which he did, loudly.
“You are here! I have been looking everywhere for you. Of course I should have checked here first.” Sheyba screamed “every time I think I got you figured out, you do something that confuses me to no end. What is your problem?”
“What do you mean?” Was the response in a cold tone. Despite Sheybas disruptive entrance, Amros and Jerji both continued as if nothing happened. The dismissive attitude clearly sending Sheyba further into aggravation.
" Don’t play dumb with me. You know exactly what I’m talking about. I see how you have treated Xagyg ever since he was brought back to us. Like he doesn’t exist to you. Ignoring him whenever you can. Can’t you just be happy that you got your brother back? Does your beliefs always have to be so backwards that you can’t accept the luxuries that we have at our disposal, that we can bring back something we thought we lost forever?"
By now Amros had completed up to the waist. He chose to dress him exactly as he last saw him, with a simple cloth to cover himself, and not what could have been appropriate for a headmaster of a great university. “It is against everything the circle of life teaches us. In the wild, death is constantly looming around the corner. Predator or prey, death is always a possible outcome. It is necessary otherwise the cycle is not completed and if you always cheat death, then the world will fall apart.”
“Then if you feel so strongly about this FRIEND, then explain to me why would you of all people go to the church and ask them to resurrect my dead father? Then when you were denied you simply walk right back out the door without a fight?”
Amros did not give an answer. He simply continued shaping the mid section and then slowly went around to begin working on the back and the spines going along the middle. Because the brunt of the dragons attack came from behind the dragonborn, Amros had to take artistic liberties in its design based on he could see from the end of his tail.
DONT YOU DARE IGNORE ME! I SAID ANSWER MMmmeee….. Wait. What in Khyber are you doing?”
With a swift swipe down Jerji struck the last chords of his song. The song ended with a much higher pace and erratically. He relaxed the muscles in his arms and set the lute down in front of him.
“I’m making his tombstone.” The dead silence left by Amros statement was suffocating. “These last few days have been very difficult on me Sheyba”
“On you?!” Sheyba responded cynically “it wasn’t your father that died.”
“No it wasn’t. But it’s what your father meant to me that has weighed heavily on my soul.” Jerji bends down and picks up his flute. Pressing his lips against the mouthpiece he begins act two of his concert. “Sheyba, do you ever contemplate the notions of fate and destiny? Choice and free will? Are the mutually exclusive are entirely intertwined? Are they cruel or are they a mercy?”
Sheyba stood there completely motionless and silent. Arms folded at his chest, he was a statue analyzing every word and every movement Amros was making while Amros studied every still detail on the body beside him. He now began shaping the arms.
“As the children chosen to save the world, we had been given a great honor. The ones who will heal the world is what we have been told countless times. A title the king of any land would envy. But it came with a great burden. And an even greater price. Look at us. Thirteen children lost. We don’t know our past and don’t know our future. Is our path leading to salvation or is it leading to annihilation? Will we ever truly know who we are? This is the price we pay. A lifetime of questions. But we paid the price long before we were given the choice to follow this path. Fate had chosen for us long before we chose our destiny, if there was a choice in it at all. Until this day we are being told what do to and where to go. We were never given an even playing field to follow the path that we want. We either follow the path shown us or forsake everything that was taken away from us.” When Amros stepped away he found he made the arms bent one on top of the other at the figures chest. The left arm bent slightly higher than the right, like he is carrying something. Nodding his head Amros continued.
“But that all changed when I saw your father. In your father I saw a strand of hope in a time I had almost given up. I saw a chance to get back a fraction of what we lost. I saw the chance that we can find out our past. It was the greatest relief I have experienced in ages. With it we can forge on stronger empowered. We can finally say that we were given the choice to live a normal life or carry on as we were but at least it was of true free will. Your father’s life meant everything to me.” When Amros put his hands down from a moment, he looked at what he had done. He had lost sight of what he was doing and trailed off in thought. It wasn’t until just now that he realized what he had placed cradled in the arms of the dragonborn. It was a human baby. Cuddled softly in the scaly chest of the stone creature. The baby a frock of hair and two braids going down its temple. It was sheyba as an infant, and he was smiling. All that was left was the head now and it had to be perfect. That meant it couldn’t have the lifeless expression displayed on the corpse as it was. No, it had to have life, it had to have feeling, a feeling that fit its purpose, a feeling the moment it was depicting. So he looked around and found what he was looking for. He picked the small mirror up and propped it near the creatures head. Close enough so that he could meld his own expression onto the face of the dragon. He then went on top of the stool he brought and then went back to work.
“And then it was all burnt away. Gorgalan came and incinerated everything in a mere breathe. I
​just stood there and watched as your dreams were charred to ash. ​I utterly failed you. I watched as the dragon prophecy stripped you of any hope of being with your father. There will never be a choice for you.” The neck was sculpted at a sharp bend and so that the head would be looking down at the child’s face. “That oppressive reality overwhelmed me, it crushed my spirit. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to redeem my sin. I had to find a way to bring back your father. I would betray my heart to save my mind. I would ask the council to resurrect your father. When Xagyg died he did it with knowledge that he was risking his life and under his own free will. Your father was blackmailed into throwing away his life away. His only fault was that he wanted to finally see his son.” The lips were emotionless until the very edge of the mouth, there it turned downwards into a slight frown. A father’s job is to be strong in the face of adversity. However, no father is immune to the sadness they feel due to their children’s struggles. “But then the council denied my request. They said I shouldn’t push my luck. Considering the events that transpired during Xagyg’s resurrection, they chose to overlook us overstepping their authority and going straight to the Speaker of the Flame but it clearly left a sore spot in their hearts. And if we were to overstep our bounds again serious consequences would follow. So I was kindly escorted out of the hall. Defeated in more ways than I thought possible. So this statue is my final chance at atonement.” Amros bent over and gently lifted the eyelids, revealing large gray hued eyes split into two hemispheres by a slit instead of the round iris seen in the eyes of most races. “For days I wondered about fate. Was it a sadistic torturer? Living right outside the Morgrave University and not knowing you could have gone to visit ​your father
at any time. Bringing you ​closer in distance as his time on Eberron was coming closer to an end. Until the two converged and dwindled to nothing. I wish you could have heard his last words, or seen his eyes as he spoke your name.” The eyebrows were arched and the eyelids followed a similar angle and covered a small part at the of the eye. It gave a sense of wonderment. Pondering on the future of a son and the life he will live. “I wish I could have switched my place with you then or transfer my memory of him to you. Or is it that fate was merciful? Did it save you the agony of finding your father only to watch him die. Saved you the pain of losing your father a second time. The greatest pain is felt when you are given the brief glimpse of hope and happiness, when you feel like you are floating in the clouds, only to feel the noose go taught around your neck and send you crashing into the mud without a warning. At least your decent wasn’t that high to begin with.” After finishing the snout Amros felt there was something missing. Then he dragged two fingers from the corner of the right eye down his face. A single tear was the final touch. “I don’t envy you Sheyba. You are the sacrificial lamb that has given your brothers hope of
​ salvation while chaining them to the path they have been following all along. I hope you will one day forgive me.”
The only response that came was the creaking of the door as Sheyba walked out. Amros didn’t know when Jerji stopped playing his flute. This whole experience was ethereal and exhausting. Jerji made his way to Amros side as the two gave the tombstone one last appreciative look.
“It’s perfect” Jerji reassuringly concluded as he went to his pocket and handed Amros his handkerchief.
Amros took it and wiped away a tear that followed the same path that he just placed on the statue “Thanks”.
“So, should I come back tomorrow when you make a smaller one for Sheyba?”
Amros let out a muffled laugh. “You know, they say that musicians use song to move the hearts of people. Jerji, you look into the hearts of people and see how they move then sing to it.”
“I know” and with a smile he started walking towards the door. But just before leaving the room he stopped. Turning his head slightly he said “if you truly feel that we were never given a fair choice on this path, then maybe Xagyg’s death was not that different from the one that man next to you was given. Maybe Xagyg died for the same reason. I hope that thought helps heal your heart.”
The door shut behind Jerji closed shut with a heavy thud. His knees could no longer carry him and gave. Crumbling to the floor Amros cried silently.


a_idelbi Anas

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