Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?
Even with almost nothing here, foot traffic around the Yellow River dam was surprisingly heavy. The Council wanted little reason for people to linger outside of the city proper, heavily taxing anything within 30 miles to drive the people in closer to Nexus where they could be kept controlled.
The area around the Yellow River dam was no exception. The hostels were foul, the local food extravagantly overpriced and only a few businesses catering to caravans had managed to survive. But still, this was one of the primary routes for reaching any of the communities north of the Yellow River, and as a result there was a steady stream of people.
Despite the press from too many people walking roads not large enough to support them all, most people got out of the way when they saw the armed solar coming. And this close to Nexus Mnemia suspected most of these people knew who she was. After the night she led the armies of the city against the Fair Folk from the shoulders of a warstrider her ‘legend’ had spread rapidly. At this point it was mostly fabrication, but there was little disagreement that the woman with the tattoos on her face and the elaborate sword on her hip was a solar of considerable power. Whether that was good or bad for Nexus was up to whoever was telling the story.
Reaching her destination Mnemia found Zis sitting at a small table just outside of a teahouse. Kadon, Zuko and Scarlet had gone off to disable the other two dams while Mnemia, Zis and The Batman (she hated that nickname and no one was quite sure where it had started) had stayed behind to keep an eye on Ses. Mnemia and Zis didn’t do subtle, so most of the work had fallen to the Night caste. And while she was away the other two exalts had little to do.
After taking the seat across from the Abyssal Mnemia took a sip from the cup that had been set there for her. The bitter fluid caused her to scrunch up her face and set it down without finishing it.
“One more thing to take care of once we get Nexus under control.”
“Why? Because the tea is poor?” Zis asked. “I would hope you have better things to do with your time.”
“It’s not the tea; it’s the conditions that led to the tea. It’s bitter because it’s cheap because the shopkeeper has to cut corners to make ends meet because the taxes are ridiculous out here.”
“So? These people have made their choices. They are here even though there is a road that would easily take them away should they wish it.”
“It’s not that simple.” Mnemia responded after a heavy sigh. “We need to make an effort to support the people that fall under the jurisdiction of Nexus. Otherwise people will leave and the city will begin to unravel.”
“Ah, I see. You wish to breed contentment and complacency to foster increased productivity and stability, providing a stronger base of power with which to expand your sphere of influence.”
“No! Absolutely not. We’re not using these people to consolidate power for a land grab!”
“Really?” Zis asked, raising an eyebrow. “Then what exactly are you trying to accomplish?”
“Well…” Mnemia began, trying to organize her thoughts before going on. “We have a responsibility to the people of Creation. If we are to lead and guide them we must also serve them. We must fashion a life for them where their choices matter and they are free to pursue their own happiness.”
Zis looked away before responding. “If you believe that you are more a fool than I thought. Choice and happiness are illusions, especially for the cattle you see around you. These men and women you seem to think you need to serve will one day die, and while they may fight to escape their fate, eventually they will be swallowed up by Oblivion, leaving nothing behind. What you see here is a transitory state, one that lasts but a moment when compared to the time of existence. These people will never serve a meaningful purpose. Eventually each and every one of them will fall to the call of the Neverborn. They will be gone and Creation will not miss them.”
“Only the Exalted are eternal.” She continued. “Only that spark that is reborn time and time again can truly be considered alive. This, all of this, is but the stage for our play. These people have no more meaning than the rock you kick with your boot when it lies on your path.”
Zis turned back to Mnemia, catching her gaze. “These people mean nothing. The people on the snake island you tried so hard to save mean nothing.” Zis paused for just a moment. “Your children mean nothing.”
Mnemia rose to her feet quickly, her hands going to the table as she leaned forward. Her eyes were icy cold, her mouth a narrow line. But whether or not the angry solar looming over her concerned Zis, she didn’t show it.
“You need to open your eyes.” Mnemia hissed. “You listen to the whispers of the fallen and the lost. Their failures twisting your thoughts and making you believe they are your own. You have built a world of hate and loathing on the bile of the deposed and you believe it truth?”
“I know you are smarter than that.” The Tya continued as she returned to her seat. “The gods that whisper in your dreams lie broken at the edge of creation because they failed to understand one very simple concept; existence is an unending cycle of creation. There is no perfect, no end, the path you walk on your journey has no conclusion. It is the cycle of evolution that destroyed them when they turned their backs to it. We will not make the same mistakes as those that wish you to call them master. We will lift Creation upon our shoulders, setting it upon the proper path again and know that we have done our part, that the cycle will continue and that what will come next will rise above even ourselves.”
“We are the shepherds. And if we are to restore what the fallen would see destroyed we must foster the evolution of Creation. These lives you see around you, the ones you think so little of, are single steps in that evolution; every one of them a facet of the whole. Alone they may seem insignificant, but together they will create all that follows.”
Zis looked away again, a quick exhale of breath signifying her dismissal of Mnemia’s little outburst. But she said nothing. Leaving the Abyssal to consider her words in the silence that stretched between them Mnemia returned to the tea in front of her, her next sip seeming maybe a little less bitter.