Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
The Ashen Call
As far as the eye could see in all directions Creation was blue. Above the air was clear, not a cloud in the sky. The only variation in the uniform color was the sun just passing through its zenith. Below the gently rolling sea provided more definition, more detail, but was still an endless azure.
Out here, with nothing but sea and sky, Mnemia’s only companion was the Unconquered Sun.
Though the trip had only taken two days, the journey had lasted much longer than that. Even now, standing directly on the sea Mnemia marveled at the path she continued to walk; a path that had brought her to the edge of Creation to open her spirit to the ebb and flow of essence in the hopes of improving her own store of such potent power. In this regard Kadon and Zuko continued to be her superior, but it wasn’t a race. Besides, she would catch them soon enough.
Shrugging the backpack off her shoulders she dropped it into the water at her feet. Though she would fast for much of her prayers, three months was a bit long to go without food and water. The pack, lined with air pockets to keep it afloat and a waterproof seal to keep its contents dry, held enough supplies for two weeks. Every ten days she would return to her small sailing ship, a trip of about a day, to restock. Then she would return to continue her meditations.
With an unnatural grace Mnemia shifted into a crouch before dropping into the lotus position. Even with the new skills she had recently mastered such a move would have been difficult encumbered as she normally was, but here she wore little more than a loose robe that pooled around her as she settled into the sitting position. With a deep breath she settled her hands onto her knees before closing her eyes.
When she opened them again there was a light mist building around her. But as the seconds passed the mist darkened as it grew thicker, turning into smoke as it continued to wrap around her. Under normal circumstances Mnemia would have jumped to her feet at the first sign of the unnatural, reaching into her pack to remove and assemble the short cold iron capped wooden staff that was her only weapon out on the waves. But somehow she knew this was different. Still, she stood up as the smoke blocked her vision entirely.
Mnemia was blind for almost a minute before a burst of fresh air from the west dispersed the blackness as quickly as it had formed, leaving her standing on the lip of a massive volcano. To her left a lake of gold bubbled in the natural crater of the volatile mountain. To her right a massive city covered hundreds of miles, the architecture of a type she had never seen before.
For a time she simply looked around, trying to determine where she was, and more importantly, why she was here. And just as she was convincing herself she was here to witness something yet to happen the world seemed to darken. Looking up Mnemia caught sight of a creature born of darkness, a being that seemed to block out the sun with its girth. As her eyes tracked it the beast seemed to grow; flying towards the earth… or falling. Still fear did not grip her heart. Somehow she knew this was not real, and yet it was.
When the creature struck the volcano the world erupted. Hundreds of miles in size, the beast struck more than just the small part of Creation upon which Mnemia stood, an act of destruction whose scope she seemed to understand more than witness. All around her she could see and hear the upheaval of the earth, the molten orichalcum driven into the air, the mountain at her feet shattered and pieces of the city below her thrown thousands of feet before the sea rose up to swallow it all. And as the island burned, the smoke rose once again, blocking her sight, sealing her away.
When her vision was cleared again it wasn’t with a light ocean breeze, but a dry gust of ash. And though the scene had changed, Mnemia was convinced that she stood on the same spot as before. Where the volcano once existed there was now a sea of ash, a gray dune stretching for miles. Where the city once stood there was not little more than ruins with one exception: on the slopes of the caldera rested a citadel, and below it a sprawling city. Mnemia had never seen this place before, but she had heard the description often enough. Below her was Onyx, capital of the Skullstone Archipelago and home to the Silver Prince.
As before she didn’t move, observing the landscape while waiting for understanding to come. And like before the sign came from the sky. But instead of a fallen god what descended from the heavens was a beam of light, piercing the omnipresent darkness and striking the featureless ash dunes.
Almost immediately Onyx reacted. A dark miasma around the fortress began to shift, moving and growing as it reached out towards the light. As the presence reached the shaft of illumination eyes began to appear along its length as it began to take the form of a hand. With a quick motion the darkness dove into the ash, searching for something. And when it rose into the air again it grasped an orb of shadow, smoke billowing off of it, mixing with the dark essence of the Silver Prince’s stronghold. The two sources of darkness seemed to feed off of each other, growing rapidly and spreading across the sky. In seconds the leading edges of the blackness were lost to Mnemia’s sight.
For the first time since this had started Mnemia felt fear. There was something hidden beneath the ash on Skullstone, something left over from the war with the primordials. And should the Silver Prince discover it…
When Mnemia’s eyes came open she was still sitting on the open ocean, everything where she had left it. With the sun set the Tya was unsure whether what she had experienced had been hallucination or dream, but it was clear it was prophetic. There were dreams and then there were dreams.
With a sigh Mnemia returned to her feet. “You couldn’t have told me before I had wandered all the way out here.” she muttered. The Unconquered Sun could wait. What was hidden beneath the ashes at the feet of the Silver Prince could not.