Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Prologue: The Age of Sorrows (part II)

The great and venerable Ma-Ha-Suchi strode angrily through his many-columned and cyclopean lair. He was a massive creature, nearly three meters tall and seemingly made almost entirely out of muscle. With his lupine features combined with his cloven hooves and ram's horns, a visitor from a later age might have mistaken him for a very strange looking werewolf in the seconds before he tore them limb from limb for their uninvited intrusion into his sanctuary. Here, none came who were not called by the great and venerable Ma-Ha-Suchi. Not if they expected to survive the visit.

It had been not two weeks since his confrontation with a returned Sun-Child, and the twelve days his anger had had to brew in the meantime had done little to soothe his temper. Before him stood the Panoply of the Eyeless Sight. Here was kept one of his most secret, most valuable resources: She Who Sees With Eyes Unclouded. He pushed aside the fine silk curtains which veiled the entrance to the panoply, and immediately the sounds of the jungle were stilled: it was silent, save for the rustling of silk and his own breathing.

She was old, though she didn't look it. As far as he knew, she had not moved from the cushion where she sat in nearly a hundred years, yet she looked for all the world like a young, beautiful noble lady, clad in the finest silk garments, her hair as white as snow, and her eyes... her eyes a faded, ancient blue. The faint smell of incense grew stronger, then stronger still, until it was almost overwhelming to his lupine senses. It was a pretty prison for a pretty prisoner.

"I have come," he rumbled, and she nodded.

"Be welcome in my home, Ma-Ha-Suchi," she said. Her voice was young and vibrant and full of power.

Silence for a beat.

She spoke, and her voice was now the voice of a crone, old and wizened. "Much I have seen, my Lord. The world is changing." Even as she spoke, he beheld a vision, and then another, and another: such was the nature of her power.


In the shining heart of the Empire, the Imperial City, a corpulent dragon-blood seated on a raised platform in a vast, decorated chamber looked shocked as he stared down at the blade penetrating his own heart. His assailant, a dark, cloaked figure, released the blade, and charged with dark essence, it slid in further, vanishing beneath a roll of fat. Around them whirled the bacchanal of House Cynis, naked bodies writhed together in ecstacy as beside them, clothed (for the moment) forms, male and female alike, reveled and danced and made merry, some disrobing and joining in the orgy, others not.

None seemed to notice the murdered man or his assassin.

With his last ounce of strength, the corpulent dragon-blood reached out and seized the slight form of his killer by the hem of the cloak, and looked up into the shadowed cowl. His eyes widened in shock and outrage. "...You...!" he spluttered.

That look of outrage was still there twelve hours later when the guards discovered his corpse in the party's aftermath.


The sun rose over the jungle, light streaming down through holes in the canopy to illuminate scant patches of ground where twisting, steaming life rose up to greet it, desperate for an energy source to photosynthesize. Just above the canopy grew a single, thick, bare branch; thereupon a strange, sinuous shape rose with the dawn, lifting its cold, reptilian eyes to the heavens in silent contemplation of the wonder it beheld there; for one shining moment, a new star was born above those jungles - a red star, rivaling the sun itself in brightness. There and gone.

The ancient Dragon-King frowned thoughtfully.

Those who have eyes, let them see.


"Much I have pondered," She Who Sees With Eyes Unclouded murmured, her wizened voice low and soft. "I see a man. A Solar."


In the cabin of a riverboat on the swift waters of the Grey River, a strange, pale young man with red eyes gazed out his cabin window as the city of Nexus receeded towards the horizon. He was dressed as nobility among the dragon-blooded, and his expression was unreadable.


"I see his companions."


It is night, and the moon is bright. A vague shadow flits across the river as a young woman - dragon-blooded, clearly fire-aspected - in jade armour looks up at the stars.


"I see a great hand reaching out of the sky, Ma-Ha-Suchi. Strife and division is coming. I see multitudes around this man, calling his name."

She is silent for a moment.

"The Invisible Fortress will be found, my Lord," she says. "This man will lead you to it. And to Her."

The great and venerable Ma-Ha-Suchi snarls, and it is half-rage, half-longing. "I should kill him and his companions and be done with it. I remember the Lawbringers, Seer. I will not have them in my lands."

"You must. For a little while," she said softly. "You will find your heart's treasure, my Lord. I tell you the truth: this man and his companions will lead you to it. And more. The Invisible Fortress at your command. Power. Power enough to challenge the Realm, perhaps."

Ma-Ha-Suchi considered the words of the seer. "... What is the red star?"

The Seer shook her head. "Some things, my Lord, are unknown even to me."


Then, seemingly satisfied with her words, the great and venerable Ma-Ha-Suchi turned and strode imperiously out of the panoply.

Behind him, in the darkness, the Seer smiled.

1 comment:

  1. What, no comments? From any of you? On anything that's been posted thus far?