Glad you could join us for the next indecisive episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Someone in the dining hall closed the door behind them. Elliot wore the dark on his back like a hooded coat, pushing himself to keep his face within the sphere of lantern light. The further they descended, the closer the walls seemed to lean in until the deepest chamber beneath the Tower of Honor opened around them with the moist aroma of fungus gently touched by fresh air.
Mushroom lights sprouted from cracks in walls that gleamed like black glass, and poked their heads up randomly from loamy patches in the floor. Non-glowing fungi, taller and woodier, stood like posts and platforms scattered over harder ground. Two of those held the room’s only other occupants. Four eyes glistened in the newly golden glow.
“This is Elliot,” the First Combat Master announced. “These are the Granters — they grant many requests, but tonight they will decide if you are a worthy recipient.”
“Tell us your story—“ one began.
“—and if it reveals your essence—“ the second continued.
“—we will grant you a Name,” they finished.
“How did you come to be here?” asked one.
“What have you learned?” asked the other.
Elliot embarked on his tale, from leaving his smaller shell behind and chasing adventure and fortune, through narrow escapes and near-death experiences, from free-falling to falling in love. He told them of injury and illness, bravery and fear, abduction and war.
“I’ve changed,” he concluded. “I only wanted my own freedom. Now I want freedom and justice — and not just my own; there’s no freedom and justice for one without freedom and justice for all — and I’m ready to fight for those things. Oh, I’m not a warrior, but war isn’t only way to fight for what’s right.
“I used to believe whatever people told me, but I’ve learned people will tell you exactly what they want you to believe, and it’s good to be a bit skeptical. Still, that doesn’t mean we’re enemies — if we can find some common ground, if we care about the same things, we can learn to trust each other and cooperate.
“I count two honorable monarchs and a Freelands activist among my friends. They hope to fly their banners side by side for everyone’s benefit. And because I’ve seen the horror rebels and marauders can rain down on innocent people, if I can help spread peace, I’ll gladly serve that cause.”
“And your love?” one Granter asked.
“She taught me what it means to serve.”
“Is there anything else you want us to know before we deliberate?”
Elliot considered for a moment. “Only this. Even if you decide I’m unworthy of any name but Elliot, I’ll wear it as I always have and serve as best I can.”
One Granter cocked his head toward the other. “Elliot the Determined?”
The other shook his head. “Sounds small and stubborn. How about Elliot the Servant?”
“Maybe if he were a cleric,” the first one scoffed. “What about Thoughtful?”
“A holder of doors and writer of thank you notes. Reflective?”
“Too passive. Farsighted?”
“Might miss details. Skeptic?”
“No one would talk to him ever again.” He held up one finger. “Elliot the Horrified.”
“Hahaha! I always love it when you suggest that one. Judicious?”
“Close but too decisive. Equitable?”
“Nice but too alliterative. Objective?
“Too impersonal. Dedicated?”
“Not quite, but… I have it!”
To be continued. . .