Rael - The Heroes of Rin

The Tower at the End of Time

The Magician Revealed

The wind wails across the peaks, turning the snow-caps to white wispy smoke. Further below four figures look dismissively at the mountain. There have been too many mountains, too many dangerous places, and far too many climbs. They aren’t afraid of the monsters that haunt the mountain peak… if they are afraid of anything, they are afraid for them.

The swell from the mountain wind catches Bleys first — standing erect in the face of the frigid gusts he doesn’t flinch or protest as the air snaps open his shirt slashing down on his bare skin. His unblinking gaze flits over the frigid climb. Pale jade eyes betraying the last bit of his humanity. His shape is mostly human. Somehow over the years the monster crept into all of his forms: fangs, claws, and fur that never fully abates. Even the set of his jaw and his length-of-limb betray his lupin nature.

He knows that his nature is not yet set. Either he becomes an avatar of his deity; or a monster driven mad… Human is no longer an option. Not now.

“Two more days to the summit,” he announces to the group. He pauses for a moment to see if he can muster up some fear. A runelord waits on that mountain — an ancient Moradil arch-mage. The fear just won’t be summoned any more. Anger but not fear.

“Why can’t we just teleport up there?” complains Arondil. “I am tired of all this walking and talking.”

“It is a locus and will thwart teleportation,” Pantheris explains “besides, there may be clues and information along the journey. Keys to their magic.”

Arondil’s cold black eyes betray no emotion, but the curl of his lips and dismissive shake of his head make his meaning all too clear. “Whatever” he dully responds. He returns to his tent until there is killing to be done.
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Richard
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:23 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post Delete this post View IP address of poster
Night darkens the sky; all but the edges at first, but soon the pale orange glow of daylight is gone. One of the first stars of the night is Cassus, the wanderer. This star does not move with the constellations but often appears at dusk and lasts until dawn.

It is the custom of Calibash to greet Cassus like a friend. A predictable friend, for he knows the mathematics of his course and the strange patterns he will draw upon the sky. But even Cassus has secrets. Calibash wonders what patterns the star draws when he is below the horizon on the days when he does not rise. What betrayals does Cassus harbour in his heart? What vices does he cultivate in the darkness? Calibash knows that it is darkness that outlines truth. You know men by the shadows they cast not by the light that they shine.

Calibash is almost a mile from camp, wandering away from his friends to study the stars and scheme.

He tilts his head slowly from side-to-side to clear out the kink in his neck. The discomfort comes from the time his head was ripped off. He remembers the smoke and the flame vividly. The laughter of Hundriel and Mvashtar summons a sweat, a brief sheen on his metal skin, even in this frigid mountain air. Under the stars he remembers everything. The Mother of Oblivion is a trickster, a master of cruelty and obfuscation, nothing more. He struggles to understand her ability to blot memory… and reason. She is a false darkness. But their is a deep and living darkness that does not separate the stars, but connects them. It is like a fabric not a chasm.

Calibash lets his thought race across the cosmos and his perception moves through time, settling on a moment in both the future and the past. Not too far in the future he will meet with a dragon-elf from the past. Calibash will be the “Magician” — the one who unites the arcane and the divine; with the staff that “burns at both ends.” So long ago that seemed. But he had kept faith all this time. Calibash couldn’t help but be excited for it though. To see the same moment from two different points in time will be, or was, a blessing of untold enlightenment.

Broken, re-forged, and broken again. There was a horror to it as well. All that was to come. Horror upon horror. Especially when you consider that it may not be enough to turn the tide. At least he could protect the children. That was some consolation.

To that end, he crouches down to meet the level of the three large leopards who had answered his summons. Snow Leopards are generally small as the large cats go; but their stealth and winter adaptations are perfect for the task at hand.

“It has begun.” he says to them. “go and do what you were awakened to do.”

Calibash doesn’t have to hope that the few weeks training and the bits of magic he was able to teach them will be enough to get to the beginning; as he knows that they have already been there. What comes after is a mystery even to him.

“You are sending away your pets?” Bleys says as he steps out of the darkness his wolfish senses still following the trail of the retreating cats.

Calibash turns to meet his long-time friend. "Yes, Bleys. They need to be elsewhere. " Calibash steps back with his right foot so that his friend can see the arcane symbols drawn in the snow with a stick.

The gesture confirms what Bleys had been thinking. “You gave them sentience?” Bleys asks quizzically, stumbling over the sibilant s’s and c’s, that challenge his lupine mouth.

“Yes, I gave them GEND-TEN-TENDS.” Calibash quips. He brushes over the marks in the snow. He shifts to a softer tone, "I am glad you are here. Before we go back I want to pray with you for a while. I want to talk about the future. "
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Richard
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:16 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post Delete this post View IP address of poster
For hours the two priests contemplate the darkness, the stars, and the silvery moon. It had been years since they have talked like this… gathering wisdom under a dark sky.

Calibash’s tone shifts from the academic questions of Gemmenology to deep regret. “Our failure has been absolute dear friend. In spite of the Alar’ahai,” he gestures to his twin staff and Bleys’ silvery claw. “In spite of of ascension, we lack the power to stop the evil that we have unleashed. We are too few and too flawed.”

“You don’t think we can stop the runelords?” asks Bleys.

“Stop them?” Calibash shakes off the question for a moment. His eyes sparkling with the wisdom of the night sky, he recalls that his friend is not connected to the knowledge of everything and gives him a moment to catch up. Calibash continues, “We have risen friend. Have we risen to wage war? Are you the runelord of Wrath, or the Runelord Righteous Anger. Which one Bleys? The line is so fine, I can barely tell most of the time” He gestures again to the Alar’ahai — Ketteris – the silver claw. The weapon of a Runelord. “Will you punish the guilty? And, even if you do… will our war break this world? There are seven of us. Just like the seven Epiphanies… prophets of the end times.”

“Your words and warnings are disturbing but we still have hope. We can overcome, we always do.” After an uncomfortable silence hangs in the arie, Bleys looks up to the moon in the sky and becomes aware of the time. “We should get back to the others.”

Again, Calibash shakes his head. “No Bleys. They have gone. We are alone.”
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Richard
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:39 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post Delete this post View IP address of poster
Pantheris adjusts his belt for the third time in a few minutes. He isn’t sure if it is a nervous habit or the practiced behaviour of a warrior readying for battle. It mattered to how his quiver hung; how the sword moved at his side; and the way his pouch of spell ingredients opened.

There was much regret and soul-searching at the path he must now take. However, there was nothing to be done. The only way to defeat the void was through the void. He would learn its secrets and return from the other side as master of it all. He would keep watch over Arondil. Unlike others, he had always seen power and knowledge as tools… weapons that could be picked up and put down. He was separate from the power he wielded.

He did allow himself an indulgent smile thinking of Conna again. She acted selfishly to prevent war when she betrayed them. She was smug and proud at avoiding a the death of her people. It was a little funny how wrong she was. She had stopped one warlord and would soon confront a greater one.
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Richard
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 4:56 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post Delete this post View IP address of poster
Away from Arondil and Pantheris, away from the inky-black cloud of oblivion, the memories begin to return: first as foes murdered without mercy, then Arondil’s conversation with the Mother of Oblivion. His mind is playing tricks as he begins to remember things that never happened. Bleys remembers a negotiation with Delvahine. He remembers a truce with Delvahine and her children. He remembers mis-trust and then something else. He remembers spending time with the creature, the woman. He remembers her smell; the way she was weary from battle. He remembers love and laughter; a whole set of stories. He remembers her redemption and their marriage; even the birth of the children and their names. Then he remembers death. How had these memories become warped?

Bleys lets out a scream. Both memories can’t be real. The one child was grown to four years old when it was killed. Murdered by his friends. They thought the crime would be forgotten; they believed in oblivion. It was nothing but a trick of memory. Now nothing makes sense. Bleys collapses down into the snow again. Weary beyond all reason, too weary to continue. Continue with any of it.

Tears in his eyes, Bleys looks to the moon and transforms into the wolf. Perhaps for the last time. He heads North into the snow, giving up on human direction. Bleys deliberately forces out all human thought, all the memories that no longer made sense. All the treacherous friends and loyal enemies begin to vanish. In wolf form the memories fade into a world of scent and sense. Bleys leaves the world on four paws.

In the future someone may search for the Silver Wolf to coax it back to sentience. Or, through the centuries it may prowl the top of the world a creature of hunger and loss. It can live there for a thousand years, maybe more.
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Last edited by Richard on Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:59 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post Delete this post View IP address of poster
And then he was alone. Calibash traced his fingers across the sky, drawing the patterns of the stars against the daylight blue sky. In the snow he sees the paw prints of Bleys trekking off into oblivion.

He sometimes wonders why they brought him back to life. What wheels were still turning his fate. Calibash would have one more meeting — one more play before giving up entirely. The challenge ahead was dire. He would face the mountain alone — confront the Runelord Karzoug alone. The most powerful of the seven Runelords; and he must face him without his friends.

But he knew something that none of them else did. In the spires of Xin Shalast he would discover the Magician’s Tower — a place bridging time and worlds. On the door to the tower he would find three runes “Never or Forever.” That was the choice to all those who entered, enter the tower and never leave, or stay out. Calibash felt the weight of destiny across his shoulders.

Where his friends had failed he would succeed. He could succeed. Only he. The one who burns at both ends. The one who unites the divine and the arcane. He will deliver a message that will break the fellowship in the past, giving them a little hope for the future. The past and the future becoming one.

As he was considering a bleak and endless isolation; a butterfly lands on a branch in front of him. Reminding him that there may be joy and surprises yet to come.

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