Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
A Word On Mentors
Seychelles led Kadon into the Wyld, forging a path through the dense foliage that seemed ubiquitous beyond the eastern edge of creation. The noise and industry of the factory cathedral, and the village surrounding it, had been left behind some days ago, and now they walked in eerie silence: the lunar elder alert for danger, and the solar’s attention focused inward, on the technique he sought to master.
For some distance around them, the writhing, shifting scenery of the Wyld lay still, the law giver overriding the primal chaos with divine will. To Seychelles, Kadon was an unmistakable presence. “Turn your back on a mountain,” the saying went, “and you will still know it is there.” It seemed an apt phrase. The Wyld crystallized around the solar’s will just as it did around the pole of earth, and his mate’s mind held all the sway in this domain that Pasiap might in his own.
“Seychelles?” The voice was Kadon’s, but the language was not. He spoke in old realm, but not in the sonorous tones of an academic employing a dead language. The sound was that of the clipped, business like cadence of the language as it had been spoken millennia before, when it was the tongue of all creation and the gods themselves.
Seychelles did not look back as he answered, and there was no question in his voice. “Kharum.” The lunar nodded, and took a deep breath, his posture relaxing almost imperceptibly. “I had wondered when we would speak with one another. It has been a long time, my old mate.”
“For you perhaps… for me, it seemed but a moment. I had expected more, if it came to that. Something I could learn from at least. But it was only grey. Endless as elsewhere itself. I suppose I should count myself lucky for the difference in time. It would have been a tedious age to wait if not.”
Seychelles grunted his agreement, still looking out and around for any intrusion, for any failure of concentration, but he expected none. Not while Kharum was in control. It had been Kharum, after all, who had first taught him of such things. “It is good to speak with you again, my old mate, but I know you, and I somehow doubt you have asserted yourself now only to reminisce. You may as well come straight to your point.”
“So be it then,” Kharum’s tone was at once serious, and amused, as if he had business to conduct, and was pleasantly surprised to find his old associate agreeable. “It should be me, teaching him this.”
“Perhaps so,” replied Seychelles, his own tone tinged with wit, “and I think he knows you could do so, perhaps even better than I, yet it was to me he came for instruction. Why do you suppose that is?”
“You think he does not trust me?”
“On the contrary. I think that – despite the madness I can still see in you – he trusts you as he does himself. Though it discredits his wisdom, he would gladly place his life in your hands, if he had the need. I think, however, that he has something you never did: The humility to know his own limits.” Seychelles sighed, and they walked a few paces more, as Kharum’s disapproving silence reigned.
“Tell me, Kharum,” the old turtle queried, “what do you think of your plans now? Did they meet with success, as you had dreamed?”
“Of course! I am here, am I not? What more –“
The lunar’s snort of laughter brought Kharum up short, as the old man abruptly turned to face him. “You would of course. That is the difference between you and him – the ability to admit defeat, and seek a better path. Your plan failed, Kharum, in all but the very last particular, but where you failed, Kadon will succeed. And do you know why?”
Stunned silence hung in the air as Seychelles let the rhetorical question settle in.
“Because unlike you,” the lunar said sternly, gesturing sharply towards Kharum, “the boy knows this task is bigger than he can ever be alone. You were always the cunning manipulator. The user of tools, in your social endeavors every bit as much as in the workshop. You were always so sure of your course – a trait I admired once, I must admit – but you never once truly trusted another, and so you failed, and brought an age of suffering upon us all in the process.”
“Imagine how things might have transpired had you kept a circle close, to protect you from that daemon you called up. Imagine if you had taught those around you to follow the course you set for yourself, even after your death. Imagine,” Seychelles said, his voice touched with sadness, “if you had not driven me away with your foolish pride, and I had been there to help…”
Seychelles’ voice trailed off, and he turned away, and began walking again. The two continued in silence for some time longer before he spoke.
“Kharum, I see your greatness within this man, but I also see possibilities before him you never had. I know he can succeed where you never could have. But you must trust him.”
Kharum sighed, his voice touched with scorn, “So you are a teller of fortunes now are you? Have you taken up the sidereal’s arts, or is it Luna that tells you these things?”
“She speaks to me now as she ever did, no more and no less, but it does not take any mystic art to see what I have seen these past millennia. In the two thousand years since we last spoke, did you suppose I learned nothing? That I gained no new insights? I’ve insight enough to know you are not so blind, if you will just stop and think.”
“I have had ages to consider my own decisions. And yours, Kharum. That this man can succeed you is simply my conclusion, and I believe it no less strongly for the fact of its simplicity. I hope you can understand that, even if you cannot bring yourself to believe it.”
Kharum sighed again, his lips pressed together, his face a mask of denial, and the inner struggle against it. “I…” his voice trailed off, and the two stood in silence for a long moment, “I make no guarantees. He is young, and week, and this task is too important to leave to chance. If the moment comes, and he cannot take it, I will. I must.”
The solar shook his head, and stood there amidst the crystallized Wyld a moment, looking his lunar mate in the eyes, as if searching both their souls. Seychelles could sympathize. “Seychelles,” Kharum said finally, and with a goodly measure of reluctance, “teach him well.”
“I will,” Seychelles replied, with a solemn nod, “but Kharum, please do not let him know about our bond. There would be too many awkward questions by half, I think.”
“You think what now, Elder Seychelles?” came Kadon’s reply, in the brusque eastern dialect he favored, “I apologize, but I was lost in concentration, and didn’t hear you.”
In front of the young man on the trail, Seychelles rolled his eyes at his old mate’s predictably terse departure, then turned to Kadon, “I think – I was about to say – that this spot will do nicely. Now, focus on the stability you have been holding inside you, and relax your control…