Brand was still awake as the sun was topping the glacier. It was false dawn, and the others were still asleep, or meditating. That was good, they would need their rest. After today, it was a small wonder that any of them could sleep. He donned his small clothes and his great cloak, and stepped out of the tiny magic-dome. Flynn’s hut had served them well on their journey so far. It was warm, and comfortable, and one could feel relatively safe in its confines. Flynn assured him time and again that nothing would penetrate it; even spells. Brand put that to the test one night when he was sure no one was watching and sure enough, his holy bolt just bounced off of the thing without even a sound. Apparently no one on the inside could hear it either.
It was below freezing outside, and Brand crunched snow as he made his way back to the edge of the cliff. He looked out over the icy waters, and produced a small flame to keep himself alive. He knew he could only stay out here minutes, but he couldn’t be in there with them. Not right now.
For some reason these people accepted him as some kind of leader. He found that he was making more and more decisions for the group. He bought the supplies, and picked the routes. Odom, the half-orc who had been with this little traveling party the longest was quick to get rid of his authority and even asked on one occasion “You are the leader, where are we going?” This was not what he signed up for. How could he, a lowly keyholder, be responsible for these people? It was something he thought much about in the last week or so.
These people were slowly becoming friends. They laughed together, and ate together. He sang songs with Flynn, and learned from Diogenes. Brand had a terrible singing voice, but the Bard always acted like it was the sweetest sound he had ever heard when Brand got into the drink and actually started belting words to songs he half knew. The druid was a silent guardian. Never taking any credit for the wondrous things he did, but somehow he always managed to get them out of trouble. He respected Odom for his huge heart, and the way he was always easy to smile. He had just gotten to know Astrid, but there was a spark of friendship there as well. These people had told him that Astrid was power hungry and self serving. While this was true, he also saw something else in her. Power, sure, but deeper than that was the want for acceptance. She needed a channel for her great power. She needed a release.
The wind was getting stronger and the cold even colder. As he thought about these people, and the deeds they had done he sunk to his knees. Brand wept. Alone, in the cold he sobbed and clutched at his little holy symbol. He almost let her die. The weight of her limp, cold body was still fresh in his mind. The way the others were so quite when he pulled her from the water. They knew. So did he. She was dead. She had frozen to death right there in front of everyone. She almost made the swim. The druid turned into a fish and swam his way out. Flynn hit a chord on his lute and disappeared. When it happened, Brand smiled. He had seen that trick before, and knew the Bard was safely outside. He went last, and he was glad he did. In front of him he could see Astrid struggling. The rest of the swim was a blur. He remembered carrying her body up the cliff face as fast as he could. He remembered calling to his god and begging for her life.
Brand sobbed in the snow as he thought about himself. He was a boy. How could he keep this up? He had no experience with these things. Brand cried there in the snow for what seemed like hours. This was weakness, and he knew it. He clutched at his symbol, and thought back to his days in the Temple. Thought about his mission and clenched his jaw. “No”, he said outloud. “I will not let this happen again.” Brand clenched his fist around his holy symbol and stood. He raised his head high and his thoughts went to the others in his group. The ones who had been through so much with him. He thought about the great weight of his mission should he succeed. He screamed for all the Gods of Tellene to hear. “I will be the hammer that shapes this world.” “I will be the light that shines in the darkness.” “I will be the rock that the waves cannot smash.” “I am magic!” The boy was dead.