I took the fire extinguisher across the river and began putting out fires. For the most part, I avoided engaging any orcs when I could. But perhaps I had grown overconfident with these black magic spells. I felt too powerful.
One was close to a patch of flames I had in my sights. Rather than chance his ignorance, I sprayed him with a quick shot, then followed up with the shadow word. As he reached me, I used "smite". But then another joined, coming up from behind where I didn't see him. He didn't get the drop on me, but now it was a two-on-one fight, and I knew no amount of black magic would stop against the swords going into my side. I tried to run, but they kept hacking at me. One got a lucky shot in my back, right up my armor plate, and I went down. The sooty darkness started to brighten, I can't explain what I saw. But I got the sense that I was becoming lighter, or light-headed. Everything felt peaceful.
And then I was in the graveyard. The same one adjacent to the abbey. At first I thought someone carried me there, and what an unusual place that was to administer medical treatment. But the world was different. Lighter, but darker. Washed out. Ethereal. I can't describe it, much as I try. It was like I couldn't just see things, but sense them too. Like putting a hand on a guitar string and feeling someone pluck it. The only thing I could think of was that I had become a ghost.
I became gripped with panic. When I was a child I had a fear that death was never real. That we are all souls trapped in our bodies, and when our bodies fail, we just can't respond. So when we bury the dead we spend eternity in a box, staring into darkness. With nothing but our mind and memories. Then I realized I could move.
At the entrance to the graveyard hovered a giant floating woman with feathered wings. Her complexion was washed out too, like a living statue. Not quite dead and not quite alive. Like an aged tree. Something that simply exists.
Even though I could move, I stayed riveted to my spot, too scared to leave or even attempt to do something material. The floating woman, who I come to think of as a guardian of the dead, whispered into my mind. She told me I had two options. I could be healed, or I could seek my corpse. When she said that I thought "My corpse? I have a corpse?" I supposed my curiosity got the better of me, morbid as it is for a priest/healer. I followed the same path, through the trees and wading through the river. The stream felt wet, but not in a wetting way. Again, hard to describe.
I followed the landmarks and there, before me, lay the bones of my body, crumpled up and charred. Then just I realized what I was looking at, the world faded back into color. Into the material realm. The fire extinguisher was still on my back. It was like nothing had happened. But I knew it had because the skeleton was still right in front of me.
Not knowing what else to do, I quenched the remaining fires in a daze, and returned the device to Milly. She gave me a few closing words, told me that the although the land was incinerated she still might be able to recover. "Right? How bad could it be?" I mumbled some response. Something about those words and the death/near-death I had just gone through opened my eyes quite a bit. I couldn't take any more for the day, and I wandered back to the common room, hoping to avoid the gaze of McBride lest he task me with something, and fell asleep.