After the longest day ever, the group returned to their little base in the former gardener’s house near the Birthheart. They set up a diner and a watch, where not much of interest happened other than noticing animals (normal, regular, animals) were active around the Birthheart.
However. Overnight, Rinn had a dream. In his dream, a mysterious form that looked like a poncy, sorcerer version of himself (the same as he thought he saw while escaping from Osyssa’s lair), that transformed into a monk in blue robes, with electric lightning eyes. The monk told him to stop running away, not to be afraid. Come to the Trial Forge and face him.
Rinn awoke and took the last watch, but clearly the dream had left it’s mark on him. Before his watch was over, Rinn left a note and set off on his own. Along the way, he avoided a couple aggressors, but not one that did a good job on him. At some point, the others woke up and, riding Fisch (who went all out and took a point of exhaustion doing it), were able to catch up to Rinn just as he managed to shove the monster off the edge of a pit.
Everyone looked down and saw the dead frog monster, and a monk. The monk beckoned them down, and before they could all jump and feather-fall (again) they found the magical carved stairs. In the pit were the remains of the old Trial Forge, a few seats, and a small ring.
The monk said he was Sky Summoner Oren, and he challenged Rinn. Rinn hesitantly accepted, asking about the rules (until someone was ‘down’). Of the others, Tāmari asked if they were allowed to help (and the answer was yes, as long as Rinn asked). Tāmari managed to get Rinn to ask them to do what they thought was best.
This resulted in a powerful fight, where Rinn wielded his magic and, through the various buffs and inspirations from Tāmari and Stubby (Fisch settled for cheering him on), Rinn did really well and it looked like he might win. But Oren pulled no punches and hit Rinn with what should have been a fatal amount of damage.
Instead. The hit knocked him down and then healed him for the amount of damage it caused. Rinn ‘passed.’ Oren explained that he demonstrated that strength was not only in muscles, but in the use of the skills one has, and their friends.
Hear my commandments.
Bravery above all. There is no glory in cowardice.
Strength is the path to greatness, but greatness is only found in the responsible use of strength.
My glory lives through your glory on the battlefield.
Will you follow me?
Rinn nodded, and Oren smiled, giving him another bronze coin with the symbol of Kord and this this warning:
Caution is not cowardly, but the avoidance of that which is hard is. You fear things, little one. One day, one day soon your past and future will collide and you will be forced to face that which you have fled. Strength is not something to be found alone. You will learn your strength and you will be who you will be.
Stubby asked if Oren was the same person who had fought Grog, or if he was Kord, and Oren explained that sometimes he was and sometimes he wasn’t. But when asked if he’d hit Scanlan, Oren said that was absolutely him.
Oren also offered Tāmarai this advice:
No mortal may pass the burning fire. Extinguish the flame and find that which you seek. To you, I offer a riddle: “I eat; I live. I breathe; I live. I drink; I die.”
A group hug ensued, including Fisch.
Rinn is now blessed by Kord.