The chamber was as black and infinite as the night sky. There were no walls, no corners, no doors; nothing but the black void of space, and the tall obsidian pillar.
The pillar was seven feet high, and at least four feet in diameter. Four branches, in the cardinal directions, rose from the top of the pillar, a pale silver orb crowning each branch. Sitting on top of the pillar, nestled between the branches, sat a figure swathed in shadow, features hidden underneath the heavy black wrappings of the cloak.
Three figures stepped towards the pillar. All three were tall, slightly muscular young men. Pale light reflected off of their scarred, hairless bodies. They were, in almost every respect, identical to one another except for their flesh.
The first man stepped forward, his golden skin gleaming underneath the silver light. "I am Good," he said, his voice calm and resonate.
The third man stepped forward, His skin was dark green, so dark it was nearly black. "Objection," he interrupted. "A bit presumptuous of you," he chided, a long, taloned finger pointing at the first man. "You can not honestly believe that you alone of the three of us can claim such a title. I motion that he change his title to something more appropriate."
The first man sighed. "Fine. I shall be Mercy, then."
The second man snorted as he stepped forward. Smoke rose from his crimson skin, as If he was on fire. "I am Hate," he growled.
The third man turned to to shrouded figure. "I am Law."
The shrouded figure nodded at all three, then gestured at Mercy.
Mercy nodded toward the pillar. "As was witnessed this last night, Carudan sought to help a lost soul regain a body. Through the trickery of the God of Air, the spirit was reincarnated as a young golden dragon. Carudan was filled with rage and he urged the druids responsible for the reincarnation to kill the dragon. The rage summoned an avatar of Bane, who essentially caused a great deal of damage until Carudan repudiated its unholy offer. Is there anything I missed?" he asked, turning to Hate and Law.
Hate frowned. "The offer," he bellowed, his voice echoing into the ether. "The beast offered power to destroy those who wronged us, including the Mother."
Law shook his head. "Foolish avatar."
Mercy turned to Hate. "An offer that was repudiated, which banished the beast," he said. "Carudan has clearly seen the light, and realizes that-"
"Once again you presumes too much," Hate growled. "He repudiated an avatar of Hatred, not hatred itself."
Mercy glared at Hate. "He saw that his hatred for the serpents was poisonous, that it summoned a creature that served the hated enemy of all Faerun."
"Exactly," Law said. "His hatred was banished by the realization that he brought a creature of Bane to him. He clearly saw that hatred was a weakness of the very serpents he loathes."
Mercy and Hatred turned to Law. "Now who is being presumptuous," Mercy said.
"We were fools not to accept the offer!" Hate shouted. "We would have had the power and strength to destroy the golden abomination and all the serpents we came across. We could rid the world of their taint once and for all!"
"If only he hadn't mentioned Mother," Law sighed.
"Why shouldn't he?" Mercy injected. "Isn't Mother the basis for everything?"
Hate spat at Mercy's feet. "The bitch wanted nothing to do with the freak she created! She typifies dragonkind and how it treats weaker races. We are nothing to them. NOTHING!"
"Mother had no choice!" Mercy said. "How would a dragon take care of a half-human infant? She had to give Carudan to father so he could live."
"She gave him to Father to make his life difficult!" Hate shouted. "How much was his life thrown out of whack, knowing he now had a sonÐA clear violation of the rules of his order! A reminder of his weakness... that is the only reason Carudan wasn't left on a mountainside to die."
"There he goes again!" Mercy shouted. "Everything he feels about dragonkind is reflected by his reaction to Mother and Father's relationship. It's not dragons, it's abandonment!"
Law stepped forward. "So, the books we've read over the years were lies? Hergal's book was well researched and it backs up everything we've ever thought about the serpents. The night's events have shown-"
"Everything that happened tonight has shown us the truth," Mercy cried. "It is time to release our anger and hatred for Dragonkind, and to judge them as we would any other creature or race; by merit of their deeds."
"FOOL!" Hate roared. "You would reject everything we know, everything we've seen for what? WHAT?
"Everything we think we know plays right into Bane's hands!" Mercy shouted back. "Our attitude to dragons is an affront to Torm! The Loyal Fury is borne by Golden dragons!"
"The serpent is his slave, broken to his will!" Hate shouted.
"Torm commands us to destroy the unholy cult of the Dragon," Law countered. "Torm sees the danger Dragons bring."
Mercy turned to Law. "Are you siding with that Maniac?" he shouted, pointing at Hate.
"Maniac?" Hate shouted. "FOOLS! The power to wipe out the serpents was ours! All we needed was to accept the offer!"
"The offer of Bane?" Mercy spat.
"Why not?" Hate bellowed. "To hate something does not mean that what you hate is good. Hate is negative, but necessary. To deny all hate is to be weak, to lose the ability to fight true evil!"
"And you would have us serve BANE!?" Mercy shouted.
Hate smiled. "Why is hate for the serpents wrong, but hate for Bane is right?" he asked.
Mercy stuttered, "That is different! Bane is evil, dragons are not necessarily evil!"
"That means nothing. Hatred is a weakness, one the serpents possess," Law countered. "You don't need to hate something to know it is evil, or that it needs to be eliminated."
Law began to walk around the pillar. "Bane is no different than the serpents. He is a creature of dark emotions, the worst kind. The kind like lead to mistakes. No, I would not side with the former Tyrant. It would be little better than worshipping Tiamat. No, we could remain with Torm, but if he is so weak as to give succor to the serpents, then we have no need of the lesser God of the Triad!"
Mercy gasped. "Blasphemy!" he shouted. "You would renounce the True Deity to forward your crusade against dragons?"
"Why not?" Law said. "The only reason, as I have said, that it was wise to reject Bane was because he is no better than that which we would fight. We fight against those who abuse the weak, and what better a symbol is there in Faerun than Bane amongst the gods, and Dragons amongst the mortals? Reject the anger for Mother, and the facts remain: Dragons see the weaker races as sources of food, fucking and fun. They are, everyone, evil to the core. Such base creatures must be fought not with hatred, but with the cold touch of logic."
"Cold, like a serpent," Mercy spat. "Would you have us make the same mistakes? Look at our friends, what about their parents?"
"A majority of whom were raped, you mean?" Hate added. "Even the so-called "good" dragons aren't above rape if they're in the mood."
"This single-minded hatred and bigotry would make us no better than that we would destroy," Mercy warned.
"Enough," Law said, exhausted. "The time for arguments are over. We've made our cases. The next step is not ours to decide."
The three figures nodded, then stepped up to the pillar. Each one laid a small figurine on the top of the pillar, in front of the shrouded figure. Mercy, Hate and Law turned around and walked away into the darkness.
The figure stared at the three small figurines in front of it. One was a golden scale which radiated warmth and light. One was a blood-red crystal in the shape of a flame, its heat almost unbearable. The third figurine was in the shape of a small black dragon, chilling the very air it was in contact with.
The figure's cowl fell backwards. Cat-like green eyes stared at each piece. A tall, arched nose sat in the middle of a thin, pale green face. The man nodded quietly, then reached a hand out to one of the pieces, his long, taloned fingers preparing to grasp-
Carudan's eyes shot open. He'd fallen asleep while kneeling, praying to Torm for guidence. His arm was stretched out for something, as if he'd been trying to grab some object in his sleep. He wrapped his cloak tightly around him as he shivered, pulling his hand underneath the cloak.
Carudan was unable to sleep for the rest of the night.