(This is a deep lore entry designed to add to the narrative of the setting)
The Epilogue of High Pontiff Artreus, Winter of 1241
The High Pontiff laid in his bed with his eyes shut tightly, trying hard to relax his long and laboring breaths. He had just suffered through a several hour coughing fit involving several pots of water and many clean linens to replace all the blood stained ones. As certainly as he could feel his own bed, he could tangibly feel that his life’s end was coming nearer with alarming speed. He knew that now was the time to ask his caretakers to leave the room and let him die in peace. Their protests where great but the High Pontiff pushed back with a moment of stern clarity and told them he wanted his last moments on this world to be between just him and the high lord. With a grim understanding and with very heavy hearts they each said a gentle prayer and turned to leave the room.
The Pontiff closed his eyes again and lay very still, feeling several minutes of peacefulness and calm. He then felt two strong, warm hands hold his own in an obvious act of love and comfort. Artreus felt his heart fill with joy that tears streamed down his worn and wrinkled face. “I thought that I had lost you” Artreus whimpered. “I have not heard your voice for years and feared the worse, I should not have let my faith falter, please forgive me…” Atreus opened his eyes and saw a handsome but ragged man covered with the dust and grime of traveling long roads. “Why have I not heard your voice in so long Lord? Did I stray too far from you? Where did you go?” the Pontiff asked.
Valos smiled warmly. “Dear child” he said, “I never left your side and I have been with you this whole time.” His smile then turned a bit flat. “The once great powers of this world will soon be forgotten. In decades they may feel like nothing more than a memory and in centuries beyond perhaps nothing more than a fairytale. We will always be here though, even if unseen and unheard, we will always be here and we will always love you.”
Tears streamed down the Pontiffs face and Valos gently dabbed at them with the corners of his ragged linen robe “How will the faith endure Lord?” he asked “How will the world not fall into darkness? I need to know before I leave that everything in this world will be alright.”
“Dear child” whispered Valos. “It is hard to fall, believing it is hard to fall. Belief is a power unparallel and faith in their beliefs will make that belief stronger. True faith is knocking at our doorstep to test our souls. It is easy to believe in miracles when you see them happen before your own eyes, but how sweeter and stronger the faith when the evidence is not what you can see but instead what you can feel in your heart? Faith will endure because faith will carry the people of this world beyond what can be seen.”
With no time left for him on this world, the cryptic wisdom would have to suffice, and he did truly trust Valos. Artreus felt great strength in his hand and arm, a feeling he had not felt in several decades. He pulled himself up with Valos’s aid and as he did, he felt himself leave his body. For a brief moment he could see himself or rather his body frail and lifeless in the bed below him. This was not how he felt, this was no longer him. He felt warm and strong, and vibrant. He felt young and ageless at the same time. He felt light and love everywhere and in everything. The feeling was so strong that it was the only thing he could perceive until in a flash he himself was that light and love, so powerful and so foreign that no mortal words existed to describe the transcendence.