“Indeed I shall, Larethian.” With a great effort, Lathander pulled himself to his feet and led the others, Corellon gracefully and Marthammor stubbornly, to the midst of the garden grotto where he lowered himself, wincing, onto a low bench before a broad and clear pool.
“Ao’s decree,” he began, “makes us guardians who were once kings. In either case, whether you see before you an avenger or a usurper, you may trust that I desire the preservation of Toril. I would see the world saved before my own life, for there seems no hope of the latter, and little enough of the former.”
With a wave of his hand, the pool below shone with radiant light, sparkling with the image of a thousand constellations. The vision shimmering in the pool drifted among stars, twisting, turning, and finally descending unto a small, bright sphere. The blue dot grew closer until it filled the pool’s surface.
Suspended in the void before them was Toril. The skies were enclosed above by the vaulting firmament, upheld by towering mountains encircling the world. The lower half of the sphere was rocky and solid. Between the two hemispheres of sky and stone, and through the intervening canopy of clouds, the three gods looked down and saw the flat lands of Toril and all its continents — from westmost Anchorômé and middling Faerûn to eastern Kara-Tur and distant Osse.
The vision hovered above the firmament, laying bare the whole of Toril’s lands. To a mortal, such a vantage point would yield nothing to discern but vast distance. To the keen eyes of gods, however, the movements of each and every mortal below was plainly visible.
Corellon scanned the world; his eye came to rest on Kara-Tur where he perceived a humble villager in rural T’u Lung pressing pulp into paper. Marthammor looked down upon Faerûn and located the bearer of the Watchful Eye of the Volamtar (an unmistakable point of light to no eye but his own). Boirin Ashcloak, one of his clerics, was skirting the Sword Mountains on horseback with a party of adventurers. Marthammor adjusted the mace at his side.
Lathander waved his hand again, and though their vantage remained steady, Toril’s surface flashed bright and dark in the pool, again and again, as the sun traveled eastward, increasing apace.
Marthammor looked on as Ashcloak’s steps were retraced all the way to Phandalin, Thundertree, Neverwinter Wood… He saw Boirin become a cleric in one of the Exarch’s sacred temples, saw him march to Neverwinter with Bazuk, saw him join the Mercenaries of Mintarn as a young soldier.
Corellon, likewise, watched the paper-maker’s life in reverse, the folly and violence of his youth, the labor pains of his mother, the birth of his father, of his father’s father, and beyond.
Centuries flashed by in an instant. The gods looked on as the land changed. Kingdoms expanded and shrank. Millions of lives, from death to birth, sped by in moments.
At last, the nauseating vision slowed to a sudden halt.
“Fellows,” Lathander began grimly, “do you know which year this is?”
Corellon scanned Toril’s surface and frowned. “I see the Citadel Felbarr falling into orc hands in the Battle of Many Arrows.”
“And I see dwarven refugees of the Iron House of Tethyamar fleeing to the Storm Horns and Far Hills,” added Marthammor.
Corellon turned back to Lathander, puzzled. “The Year of the Writhing Darkness was of little account… five seventy-two in Dale Reckoning, I believe?”
Marthammor chuckled, “Amaunator would be proud.”
“Indeed,” said Lathander wryly, and pointed urgently at the pool. “Look there,” The gods’ attentions were drawn down the Sword Coast, south of Neverwinter and the Sword Mountains, to the harbor city of Waterdeep.
Marthammor Duin grumbled, “I don’t see any—”
“Watch! Wait!” A frantic light had entered Lathander’s eyes, and sweat beaded on his brow as the vision passed through moonlit clouds, floated over the city’s towers, and descended to the shipyards and warehouses of the Dock Ward.
A young boy could be seen climbing out of the harbor, completely drenched. He collapsed onto the docks, panting heavily. Shouting came from a nearby palace, followed by armored guards carrying pikes and swords. The boy, who could not have been more than eleven or twelve, leapt to his feet and fled into the dark streets of the city. He sprinted past windows and lampposts; flashes of light revealed face and hands crimson with blood.
The shouts and steel of his pursuers were gaining. Desperately casting this way and that, the boy darted into the city’s graveyard. Quickly, he knelt in the shadows beneath an overgrown mausoleum. The boy listened as the guards’ heavy boots charged down the deserted street and past his hiding place. After a moment, he let out a heavy breath and hung his head.
Corellon and Marthammor narrowed their eyes in alarm — the boy recoiled from the shadows around him, as though pricked by pain. The darkness shifted and convulsed, twisting its black form this way and that — reaching for the boy. He scrambled away, clawing across the earth, not daring to cry out. Finally, tendrils of shadow encircled him and, in an instant swallowed by silence, he let out a dreadful and piercing scream — and disappeared.
The vision in the grotto pool lingered on the graveyard for several moments, but nothing seemed amiss. The granite mausoleum stood as it had for generations, covered in a net of creepers and surrounded by rows of headstones, etched grave-markers, and more mausoleums. The shadows were motionless and undisturbed, as if nothing had happened.
Finally, Lathander waved his hand and a ripple passed through the graveyard; once more, the pool became as crystal clear as any in Lunia, except that this one reflected the troubled visage of three gods.