Hmm, where was I? I tend to get lost in these thoughts. Oh, yes, The Keystone. You may know it by another name, but that’s what we call it.
My cadre, led by a frustratingly old wizard, was due to send our Dragon on her way. Much preparation had been completed and we all felt the day was nigh. In the final moments before our departure, strange things began to happen. Well, strange behaviors began to occur. Our leader, the old wizard, had been seen sneaking to and fro. He hadn’t whispered to me yet, be I had seen him hold private counsel with the others. It was all suspicious and most unusual for these matters.
After we had determined the day of departure, we set about final arrangements. On schedule, we urged out Dragon to flitter off into The Void. She did and soon disappeared from our sight, her final destination unknown. In a short time, we would pick up her spoor and follow. Hopefully, she would land soon and set about her work.
Before I tell more of this tale, I need to provide some further cosmological theory. At our disposal is a certain set of magical artifacts. These devices serve a purpose within a new world. The smiths of my world forge a new set each time a cadre prepares to leave, or so we’ve been told.
Basically, both you and I are matter and Soul. All natural things possess a Soul. Further, our Souls are rarely, if ever, new Souls. I’m not even certain if that’s possible. In any case, somewhere, tucked in the folds of Creation, is a reservoir of Souls. It isn’t something that can be seen, but it’s useful to imagine it as cave-locked lake, or ocean. So, those artifacts I mentioned… one of them permits the user to peer upon this Sea of Souls. In appearance, it looks very much like what some call a “well.” While its form can be changed, its function remains the same.
Souls. Wells. Functions. As I previously mentioned, each of my cadre has a role to play in this process. Mine is to record, but my brother’s function was to speak with the dead. You may recognize that process as Necromancy. This brother, who is the Necromancer, was charged with choosing what Souls would be invited to join the blossoming Lotus. We sometimes called him Old Fisher because he would essentially fish for the best Souls. It was quite an excellent joke.
With that backstory provided, I shall move the tale forward. Old Fisher was a loyal member of the cadre. He was diligent and devout. He would do his job and do it well.
Recall our leader? The old wizard? He was cut from a different cloth. I hesitate to say his name, so I shall refer to him as Dear Leader. We learned, a bit too late, that Dear Leader was something of a rogue and ne’er-do-well. He believed that he was serving the greater good, but the result was questionable.
On the day scheduled for the cadre’s departure, we made note of two absences: Old Fisher and Dear Leader. Those two had chosen to complete final measures at the temple. Part of that process was an extraction of The Pattern from the Keystone. As you will recall, that is the blueprint for our upcoming project. They should have returned by then, so our nerves began to fray. The scheduling was of extreme importance and delays could have dire consequences.
Just as my sister, resplendent in her green finery, chose to find our missing companions, Dear Leader burst into the room. Carrying a sack, he barked us to action, and demanded we prepare to leave immediately. Old Fisher was nowhere to be seen.
None of us were puppets for Dear Leader and all began to protest. At that moment, the temple guard, comprised of the most senior among us, attacked our lodging. Each one of us is expert at magic, or battle, or both. All of us, including the temple guards, held deadly power and control over all manner of forces. Needless to say, the ensuing battle was devastating. One of my cadre was actually stricken down by a guardsman. His flesh was torn, ripped, and shredded by some foul incantation. I recognized the finality of the spell’s Weave and shed a tear for my brother. Dear Leader took decisive action, and lured the fallen’s soul into his personal spell tome. It remains there to this day.
An action-packed recounting of that battle isn’t necessary, but understand that we fled. Outmatched and overpowered, Dear Leader activated the runes and rituals we had prepared earlier in the day. The sorcery was tailored to launch us through time and space, until we landed at the feet of the Dragon, but Old Fisher had not joined us.
I’ll share the account of the journey at a later date, but we did arrive where we intended to.
Once recovered, we assayed the damage, and mended what injuries we could. My green-cloaked sister suffered the most, but that’s a tale for another time. To make it short, we raged against Dear Leader and nearly made war on one another. Cooler heads prevailed, and Dear Leader bade us listen to his excuse.
He began his his explaining by revealing what was in the sack he carried.
It was The Keystone, an artifact that had never left our world, let alone the temple that safeguarded it.
Our dear leader had committed the highest treason…
© All rights reserved, 2017, C. Garrett Tenpenny.