Captain of the Flame
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
|Posted: Fri May 08, 2015 11:58 pm Post subject: The Ebon Restoration: Prologue
|The Hall of the Keepers, unknown location
It was, First reflected, not that she minded austerity. She'd designed the vault after all; circular, with a low ceiling, each tile entirely unadorned so as to provide an alabaster counterpoint. The monotony was broken only by ten sarcophagi arranged in a circle around the centre of the room. There wasn't even any mold, owing to the central feature of the chamber; The Ebon Flame. Since the day she had completed the structure to house it, it had burned endlessly, even without fuel or tenders for ten thousand years, and would likely burn for another million. What, after all, was time to this place? It had been intended to become the final resting place of the Keepers of the Ebon Flame; warriors, sorcerers and priestesses whose ghosts had scared their enemies into paralytic fear even after time had worn away all trace of their existence save the memories. A place of rest, in which these servants of Elune could spend infinity in silence and reflection, although this did not now seem to be the case. With a deep sigh she turned her attention back just in time to catch the tail end of an argument being made by a large night elven man, known now only as Sixth, still clad in the spiritual echoes of the armor he'd died in.
"-that by allowing these crimes to go unpunished we forsake our oaths! We swore to defend this world even until our dying breath, and-"
"And we did", Third, a thin, severe night elf clad in the robes of a highborne arcanist interrupted "or have you forgotten where you stand? He is Keeper; it is not our place anymore to interfere-"
"And yet he does not carry the Flame as we did. A clear sign of the Goddess' disapproval," Fifth cut off calmly. Her dress marked her as a sworn priestess of Elune; her demeanor always put First in mind of her grandmother, even though Fifth was almost four thousand years her younger.
"And what of Tenth?", Sixth resumed, "he is suspiciously silent as we debate the merits of his chosen recipient!"
"I stand by my choice," a small, chiseled nigh elven man who was naked from the wait up, declared, "My time was up. My Flame was broken. He had followers, ambition, power-"
"And a traitorous heart!", Third roared, springing to his feet, "Your time was up? She could have given you more time", he waved indistinctly towards the roaring Flame, "time enough to find someone who-"
"Thinking like that, Third, is exactly why I had to put you down", A muscular night elven woman interrupted hotly as she jumped off the sarcophagus she'd been perched on, "Or have you forgotten your own mistakes!?"
"Would that I could, Fourth", Third replied, "But it seems every time I open my mouth you seem fit to remind me!"
"Enough!", Second, an earthen to to First's right shouted, "We all made mistakes in our time."
"Some more than others", Fourth suggested. Third merely glared at her.
"None of this brings us any closer to a solution", a young-seeming night elven woman who was seated beside an almost identical woman said.
"Agreed, Eight", rumbled an elderly man on her right, known as Ninth; hair didn't so much fall over his shoulders as it seemed to grow out of it, "we need to act, not debate the endless minutiae of our lives."
"First?", The woman sat next to Eight and who therefore by process of elimination was identified as Seventh peered at First; it was a gaze that she knew had been the bane of thousands and knowing she was already dead didn't bring First much comfort. Sighing, First got on her feet and walked up to the edge of the pit where the Flame still filled the mausoleum with what for want of a better word had to be called light.
"We will do nothing. No," she declared as Fourth, Sixth and Ninth broke into cries of indignation, "We left the world behind in our due times. Whatever is to become of the Flame now, it must be done by mortals. It is Her will." Her was always Elune.
"And just how do you propose that Her will be made known to them?", Fourth inquired, "They have no understanding of the legacy they have inherited. Most of them have not even undergone the Rite!"
"Most", First admitted, staring into the black flames, "But not all."
Whizzlefire Station Alpha, Dun Morogh.
Verannion Whizzlefire awoke to find himself in his bed. This was by way of being a calendar event; insofar as he slept these days it tended to come suddenly as he was bent of his workbench or tomes. But more concerning was the fact that he had no idea how he'd gotten there. He lay absolutely still for a moment, listening. Vague explosions sounded from the adjoining corridor. This was the Workshop then. This conclusion was further reinforced by the fact that Gears was huddled up at the foot of the bed. Sitting up, Verannion absent-mindedly reached out and scrathed the mechanical wolf behind the ear. What had he been doing, he thought. There was... a dragon. Yes. A name came to him. Deathwing. As soon as he thought it, images flooded his mind; The world breaking. A fierce battle under the sea. A cavern, impossibly large and crowded with elementals. Enormous fleshy tentacles breaking through the Earth in the mountains. And Deathwing, falling into the Maelstrom. Blackness. Then waking up here. Among the many powers he possessed, being able to leap a large conclusion in one go was most definitely one. He hopped off the bed.
"I was pretty out of it then", he said to Gears, who whined inquisitively. Flinching, he put his shirt on. His arm always gave him trouble this time of year. He thought. He realized he didn't actually know what time of the year it was.
As he finished dressing, there was the faintest sound from the other room. It wasn't that uncommon for noises to drift through the workshop at all hours of the day; explosions, never uncommon in gnomish gearworks, usually drown out most everything else. But the sheer abnormality of the tiny sound made it cut through even these regular intercessions of sound. Walking into the arcane lab, he noticed a pile of glass in front of the fireplace. His eyes swept across the mantelpiece trying to identify what this particular glass jar had contained. He went cold. Yes, he'd kept it there, hadn't he? It seemed to like the company of other flames, even if they weren't quite the same. It had burned there in that jar, unfed and untended save the odd experiment and now... He looked around wildy, trying to see where the flames had taken. The curtains spectacularily avoided blossoming into dark flames. Gears, padding in through the door completely failed to be reduced to a smoking heap of twisted gears by an out-of-control obsidian wildfire. In fact, nothing but the glass heap on the floor spoke of anything but total normality. But the Ebon Flame, HIS Ebon Flame was undeniably missing.
It was of course, entirely too indignified for a gnome of his stature to run through his own workshop. Neverthless there was definite ambulatory urgency as he entered the library. He stopped in front of the lectern where the Ebon Codex was safely... Was NOT safely locked in place by means of a length of titanium chain. A less intelligent creature would have looked behind the lectern, or started tearing books out of the shelves at random in a fruitless search for a book whose familiarity with such things thus far had been close to zero. He settled for tapping his finger against the wooden surface. Two options then. Had he been robbed? No. Even at the worst the workshop door was simply impenetrable, emblazoned with so many runes of protection that it actually contributed to the thickness of the already massive plate. As unlikely as it seemed, then, it had to be the truth. The Codex had abandoned him.
Adjusting his pack, he picked his staff off the rack by the door. His wife, Kinta, had once chided him for the dimensions in which he'd built it. "Who builds a door ten times the height of themselves?!" He chuckled, grabbing the handle. The door immediately shrunk to a size suitable for himself and Gears. It dawned on him that he had no idea what he would face once he stepped through it. Gears looked up at him and whined.
"Well boy. Let's see what the world's been up to, shall we?"
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am invested in humanity, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee - John Donne