“I’m done,” Verita yelled at the sky as they walked into a clearing. “I don’t want it anymore. I want you to leave me alone.”
Verita spun in a circle, looking up at the canopy surrounding them as though they expected to see me watching them. They were small, even for a gnome, at just under three feet tall. Their clothes had once been gorgeous hues of purples and golds but now were mud-caked and ragged. They had thrown their backpack in the river two days ago after they had tried to leave it behind at a camp, and a deer had brought it back to them.
“Stop narrating!” Verita yelled, “I can hear you!”
Verita looked around frantically searching for the narrator but saw no evidence of the voice in their head.
“No!” Verita yelled as they sprinted north from the clearing through a tangle of underbrush and thick vines. They struggled against them until they made it through, rather than use the power that I had given them.
“I’m not using your power anymore,” Verita growled as they wove between the trees. “I told you I’m done. You can stop this now, and I’ll go die happily in a cave.”
I watched as they reached the edge of the Freluan Gorge, a massive rift in the earth in which light seemed to get swallowed by the earth itself. Verita’s heart pounded in their chest as they looked first up, then down. They grimaced and leapt out into the open air, a half scream half cry of victory as gravity pulled them down.
From the east, a massive, multi-colored bird swooped from its perch on the side of the gorge and dove after them. Verita looked up to see the creature with tucked wings gaining on them.
“No! Don’t help me!” Verita yelled, trying to wave the bird off. They gritted their teeth as it approached and said, “Fine, have it your way.”
Verita summoned the power I had given them, channeling it through their arm as they extended a finger and a crackling beam of purple energy shot toward the bird. The beam slammed into the bird’s chest, wrapping around it like an electric cage. The look of triumph vanished from Verita’s face as the bird passed under them, opening its wings and catching the falling gnome.
“I hate you,” Verita said as the soft feathers of the creature tickled their nose. “You know that, right?”
I knew that Verita had been upset with me for some time. I had nearly abandoned them after giving them power. They had searched for information about me that I had ensured did not exist in their world, and had ultimately concluded that I did not exist. It was only recently that I had rediscovered my chosen, as well as their plight, and intervened.
“I don’t want to be your chosen. I never did,” Verita cried as the bird emerged from the mouth of the opening, rolling in the air to deposit them in a soft bed of moss.
“Leave me alone,” Verita said as they got up and continued marching north, knowing full well what awaited them there. “I don’t want this anymore. You can stop narrating my story, and you can carry on with whatever it is you do when you’re not bothering me.”
Verita saw images flash through their mind of a maple desk and whitewashed bookshelf with an odd human-looking creature staring at a magical picture before it with a confused expression. They saw books laid out around them as though this creator of reality needed tomes to recount information.
“Please, stop,” Verita cried, feeling despair filling them, “You don’t even know what you’re doing, do you? Just take back your power and let me die in peace.”
I thought back to that faithful night I had discovered Verita sitting in the Swallow’s Roost in a small village many months travel from where they now found themself. Their brothers Vera and Vellum argued over which of their patrons were superior, the fiend, or the fey. I had heard Verita’s thoughts. The yearning for something to match them at the very least had caught my attention, and at that moment, I had chosen them.
“I know when that happened,” Verita replied as they trudged forward. “Who are you talking to? Why won’t you talk to me? Why do you torment me?”
The trees broke into the northern grasslands, extending as far as they could see. The green hues of the tall grass swayed in the wind as though it were a vast ocean. Verita darted forward, allowing the grass to flow around them in the hope that I would lose them.
The winds of the grasslands whipped around, swirling around Verita, opening the grass above them to the blue sky before driving forward, splitting the grass in their path. They growled low under their breath like a wild animal in a cage and turned off the way laid out for them. The wind followed, and every direction they turned, the wind would shift as well.
“Stop!” Verita screamed as they summoned all the magic they had left. The magic surged through them as massive purple wings sprouted from their back. Their skin changed color to match as scales covered their body, and their clothes vanished. Large white teeth filled their mouth as it jutted out into a giant maw. They fell forward onto massive clawed feet, digging into the earth as their new form took shape. “I’m done being your chosen! I’ll find you wherever you are, and I’ll kill you if you don’t release me!”
The purple dragon that stood in the field of the Northern Grasslands roared, shaking even the trees to the south as it summoned the energy from within it. A shockwave of purple energy blasted out in all directions, disintegrating the grass in a hundred-foot circle around it.
Clouds pushed in rapidly from the west, bringing rain with them as I felt despair filling me. How could I make my chosen suffer my attention given the repeated rejections? Tears brimmed in my eyes as I thought of everything we had been through together.
Verita had once sought to please me by descending deep into the Nine Hells to find Asmodeus. I had watched them with pride as they had negotiated with the god-king of the devils and had come out on top. The clever trick they had played on Asmodeus had given them the ability to leave with their head held high, totally immune to devilish influence and the powers of their brother Vellum.
When Verita had traveled through the Feywilds for months in search of the Fey King, I had been there to help sway the hearts and minds of the fey they had encountered. I had looked on impressed at their abilities outside of what I had granted them. They had grown so much in so little time. When they had encountered the Fey King Oberon, it was his wife, Titania, that Verita had swayed into blessing them.
“Are you kidding me?”
Following the meeting with the Summer Court, Verita had sought the Winter Court and the Queen of Air and Darkness along with it. While more welcoming than the Summer Court, it was more dangerous, and the skill in which they navigated through the various illusions and traps intended to keep visitors there was impressive.
“You don’t have to-”
When Verita tricked the Queen into revealing her name, my heart had skipped a beat. Though in exchange for the Queen’s blessing, Verita had made sure that not even I would have the ability to reveal her name. Never was I more proud to have even my power limited by my chosen.
“Stop!” Verita growled, sending a purple beam of energy forth from their mouth into the sky. They sat regally in the now exposed soil surrounding them, folding their wings against their sides. “I get it, okay? We’ve been through a lot together, and I may not have survived all of it without the power you gave me, but I just want to return home, okay? I don’t want to be out adventuring anymore. I don’t want the endless nights of camping or the neverending competition with my brothers over what patron for a warlock is the best. I just want a simple life where I can live and exist as a scholar. Is that too much to ask?”
From the earth beneath the dragon form of Verita came a small circle of glowing purple gems. The intensity of the light grew until it was all they could see. They didn’t notice the dragon form melt away, leaving the gnome sitting in the soil alone. They couldn’t know the heartbreak of setting a chosen free for me.
Give me a break, Verita thought.
In an instant, Verita found themself sitting at the weathered old bar between their two brothers, back from where I had found them. The dim interior illuminated by various sconces and candles littered around the room. Smoke drifted lazily across the room, carrying with it the smells of cooking meats, pies, and ales.
“I’m telling you, Oberon is the superior patron,” Vero said, craning his neck forward to look around Verita.
“Asmodeus commands legions of devils,” Vellum replied, “He’s far more clever than Oberon. No one has ever really seen him.”
Confused for a brief moment, Verita looked from Vero to Vellum and then to the ceiling with a smile on their face.
Thank you, they thought as the memory of their previous existence faded from their mind, and a tear fell from my chin.