They Step Forward
The pain of their wounds did not deter them from doing what they must. Silvana spoke her words to the freed captives, and four of them decided to follow; the other two returned to the chamber from whence the travellers had come. Perhaps they hoped that, between them, they might be able to find some route to safety.
Ricky’s body was surprisingly light for Phillip. There was the brief, clinical, thought – unbidden – that the corpse could probably be used to heal their wounds. But they were not so desperate yet as to defile the memory of the man who had given his life that Haswi Gek could be freed from its abominable prison.
They had journeyed far for this moment. It felt as though, in many ways, this was the convergence of everything that had occurred since they first found themselves drawn into this strange and distant place. It was strange that all that stood between them and it was a plain, normal wooden door – one which Silvana did not hesitate to open, and then they stepped into the chamber beyond.
The interior of the chamber was etched with countless runes. Beyond that, it was unadorned. There was no light, only that shed by the chamber from which they had just entered penetrated into the eternal gloom and mirk of the cell.
In the middle of it sat Sewrag Musakask. The ancient figure was just as she had been in Phillip’s vision. Skeletal, with a gaping hole in her chest, bound in chains made from her own crown and throne. At first, it would have been easy to think her a corpse; but as the group step forwards, she stirs.
She projects a palpable aura of authority as she moves, lifting her head to regard the visitors into her prison. “And so you came, despite my warning.” She says, “I suppose we will see if this is folly or fortune.”
Before anyone could respond to her words, there was a sudden light behind her, and from the rent in the astral stepped King Archibald Urdegrith the First of Daer Akmir.
Phillip had seen him in vision, but to see him in the flesh was something that the memories of the Gilieabad could not prepare him for. To a manticist of his power, he could feel the arcane energies at Archibald’s command. He was the power and strength of this world, and they stood in His presence. The four captives who had been freed immediately fell to their knees, heads pressed to the floor in subservience to The Saviour; the Living God.
It immediately became clear how Archibald had bound Kenhain. How he had enslaved the Gillieabad and tamed the Nexus; how he had calmed the Astral. The will to power, the unyielding strength of this man was impossible to deny.
“I am Archibald. Sometimes known as The Saviour, other times as The Knight. You have come to the Red Keep, sometimes known as The Nexus, other times as The Final Sacrifice. You stand between me and my final destiny.
Whoever you are, whatever you represent, know that I carry the power of this world with me, and you shall NOT take from me what is mine.”
He raises his black hammer to point directly at Phillip, though his calm, level gaze takes in all of those who stand in his presence.
“You have dared much to travel here, monsters, but now your hour of judgement has come.”
From the floor, Sewrag let out a dry, throaty chuckle. Archibald’s brow furrowed, and his gaze dipped, briefly, to her.
“Those words do not suit you, boy. It is not yours, no matter how tightly your chains may bind. It is mine. And I give it freely.”
The dim light in Sewrag’s chest flared, then. Bright and brilliant and cold as the furthest ice in the Frozen North. Each of those who had the strength to stand felt the power of the Mother of Destiny as it flowed into them, handed over with whatever last vestige of strength Sewrag had held on with for all these years.
“You, can’t.” Archibald’s voice was disbelieving, and his power lashed out wildly. Phillip could feel it the clearest, but they all could sense it as he attempted to bind this power; to take it for himself, to claim it. But Sewrag had been clear, and her intent, with her power, could not be denied. “No.” Archibald hissed, and – it may be the first time that this man’s power has ever, truly, been thwarted. “No.” He repeated again, as arcane energy surged and cracked the cell in which he stood; ancient runes unable to contain the awesome effort of Archibald to deny the reality in front of his eyes.
And as he bellowed his defiance at these small beings who would dare to interfere in his designs, the power swelled, erupted, and the cell broke apart…
And there was nothing.
For a time, perhaps, they thought themselves truly gone; that the energies unleashed may have been enough to simply cause them to cease to be in some state more permanent than mere death. But then the full moon came out from behind the thick blanket of cloud, and they found themselves standing knee-deep in snow, an expanse of ice stretching in all directions around them.
A spectral figure emerged, then. Coalescing from the moonlight, it is unmistakably Sewrag Muskask – but as she must have been at the height of her power. Tall and beautiful, regal and terrible, her is the strength of the North, though that strength is fading quickly from her – as is her ethereal form.
“I do not have much time.” She says, “I have granted you my power. It was the only way I could see to keep it from his hands. For now, you stand between the past, the present, and the future. Use my power to take a step towards whichever of those you desire, and do as you will. Remember. This is no time for mercy.”
She begins to fade, and your minds begin to fill with visions of the past, the present, and the future…
|Travel to the Past||Move||All remaining Fate|
|Travel to the Present||Mov||All remaining Fate|
|Travel to the Future||Move||All remaining Fate|