I waited for him to continue, but he didn't.
"Sir, I don't understand," I said.
"Please, tell me one thing. If this troth falls into the wrong hands, could it be used for evil?"
"No. It has to be in your possession in order for it to have any effect, and even then it will only do anything under very specific circumstances."
I hesitated, but I had to ask. "Will I be able to use it for evil? Perhaps even without realising what I'm doing?"
He didn't say anything, and for a while I thought he would leave without answering.
"I don't know," he said then. "I honestly don't know."
I heard him get up and move towards the door.
I held out the stone. "Please, you must keep it safe for me."
Again, I didn't know how much to tell him. "I've heard rumours about the King," I said, "and I'm afraid of what might happen if I become his prisoner with the stone still in my possession."
He took a deep breath. "From what I've read I understand that a troth seals a bond between a deity and a human being, or maybe even between the deity and the whole of humanity. Once it exists, it is not something any of us can nullify at will. Besides, these things happen for a purpose. Maybe there's something you need to do with it when you meet the King so you should have it on you, because the alternative might be far worse. Have you thought of that?"
I hadn't, and I realised he was right. I was reminded of what Agromas had said - "There's an evil walking this world that will destroy us all if we don't stop it. We can't stand by and do nothing. You must choose. You must act."
"I believe there's an evil walking this world," I said, "that is using lies and deception to get us to fight its war for it." Suddenly I found it difficult to go on. "It has used me. I wasn't strong enough to resist it, and my mind wasn't even clear enough to know that what I was doing was wrong. At least that's what I keep telling myself. Maybe it was me all along. If that's true I'm not worthy to live, and they should have let me die."
"There's more to this war than we realise. It is not dishonourable to be deceived by the gods."
"But the deeds that we do remain," I said. "and the people that we kill aren't any less dead."
"Killing yourself won't make them any less dead either."
I heard him move, and I knew that he was turning to leave. "Is there anything else you can tell me about this troth and what it does? Please, if I have to face the King carrying it I need all the help I can get."
"Fair enough. From your description it seems to me that, in your vision, you have met the Nameless One, the mother of the gods. Which is odd, because she isn't known to take such an active interest in the world and all the troths that I know of were entered into by her children. Once activated, the troth will grant you the fulfilment of your heart's desire, that what you described as - no more, no more death, no more suffering, no more. I'm not sure the troth can actually do anything on its own, and I believe that both the Nameless One and yourself will be involved in whatever it is that will happen. In order for all of this to happen a sacrifice of some sort will need to be made, though I can't tell you anything more than that. You'll probably know what to do when the moment arrives."
I had trouble taking it all in, and I didn't know what to say.
"Now you must get ready to leave. The day is getting on, and I want you to reach the Inn before nightfall. Did you eat yet?"
"You need to get back your strength. I'll have someone bring you some food."
He was gone before I could thank him.
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