My rejection by the High Council has led me to the unmapped depths of Atares Mon, in search of a forbidden, ancient knowledge of a power to rival Asai.
Here, in the underground fissures and canyons whose depths lead to the life-blood of the planet itself, I have found a makeshift city amongst crumbling ruins of a bygone age, populated by others who have fled the tyranny of the Sahrin in search of riches and power.
The inhabitants of this wretched, rotting hive call it, The Verge.
Had I still considered myself a member of the High Council of Summoners, I would have led a purge against these ignoble criminals and inhuman scum. But I have learnt in my fall from grace to make use of whatever I have at hand, and to disregard the sanctimonious views of the Summoners if they become an impediment to the furtherance of my goal.
Amongst these outcasts and renegades I may find those who know of what I seek, or even those individuals who have crossed the line drawn by the surface world, and ventured into the Void itself.
fragment from the journal of Tamaarin dos’Baddon, ArchSahrin, Age of Glory.
The undead kept coming. Had he the time, Bahlon would have cursed.
The entrance to the tomb had been guarded by decaying wards and the bones of long dead guardian hounds. It had been ridiculously easy for magi of his standing to remove them, but then that was likely what the Aaben Seers had planned.
They had not bothered wasting their energies by stacking defences in the Outer Circle of the Tomb of the God-King. No, they had just left enough to scare off, or kill, those tomb raiders seeking easy riches, or journeymen magi looking for lost tomes of the Kalifad Empire. They had used the diabolical talents of the architects who had built the Sky’stone – a structure that STILL defied the will of the Council, three thousand years after it’s builders fail – to riddle the maze-like corridors of the Tomb with traps as deadly today as they’d been when first constructed.
He had lost five companions to the traps that lay beyond the wards he’d negated, and now the necromanic talents were finally pitted against him.
Bahlon raised his arms, calling the power of the Farstar and sending it spilling into the world. This was the eight wave of the Deadguard and his power was dwindling. Sweat soaked his back and the staff he held was useless, its arcanite crystal having overloaded and exploded in a discharge of energy that had almost collapsed the ceiling.
Again, he pulled the threads that bound the undead here, reeling the energy that animated them as they surround him.
He spun the energy around him like a vortex and the skeletons crumbled.
He would need to rest. To gather his own energies once more before they pressed on to the final resting place of the God-King. It was there he would find the Crown of Stars, and the world would finally bow before him.
He would build an empire that eclipsed Kalifad; if their final army didn’t kill him first.
I remember the day my father brought me into the Sanctarum to find my dragon.
It went against all tradition.
The Sa’trovaani did not Bond with fully grown dragons, the Bonding was a sacred ceremony that took place on the salt flats of Iskar during a dragons hatching.
You cannot Bond with a fully grown dragon.
But since the Plague no new dragons had been hatched and the Vice Regent had declared a state of emergency. For without new Bonding’s there would be no new Dragonriders to secure the Sa’trovaan League.
My father, First Magus of the Moonspire, Under-Lord to our House, said he had found a fragment of text that dated back to the Iron Wars of a thousand years ago, describing how to a Bonding might be achieved with a fully grown dragon.
It was not until he had bound me hand and foot upon the edonstone altar, gagging me to muffle my cries that I realised something was wrong.
The text my father had found did not Bond an adolescent human with an adolescent dragon to grow together, but rather it allowed the Bonding of an adult human with an adult dragon.
Through a conduit created by the sacrifice of a life most dear to the human.
For my father, that life had been mine.
I remember quite clearly as the dragons came forward to inspect me. The ivory and red A’salindrax, the green and red Brax’aron, golden Ca’sahrise and stone-scaled Vah’salix. Their size was impossible to describe and the terror they invoked as I lay helpless on the altar was overwhelming. At five years of age I had seen dragons but always from a distance.
I was going to die. Betrayed by the person who should have loved me more than his desire to Bond a dragon and save our home.
But my father did not know dragons like he thought he did. dragons are not mindless animals. They are sentient. They know and they understand. And while the ritual would work for my father at my death, it would also work for me at his.
Mighty Vah’salix took exception to the murder of a child by her parent, so before my father could spill my blood on the ebonstone, Stone-scale ended his with the swipe of a single taloned finger.
My father’s blood washed over me and the power of the stone awoke, opening a conduit that my mind expanded into. That my soul reached towards and was met by that of the Dragon King.
When I first came upon the Face I was newly raised to the rank of Seer. My cora’stone still uncoloured, though as much a part of me as the air within my lungs.
As an initiate I had not known the depths within the Arleth’taur, nor the secrets we Starbinders kept. I had learnt of the outer world, the stars around Sobia and the history of the realms. As a Seer I was presented to the Probability Matrix and given access to the libraries.
But books are not the only thing the Ardes Libirantus are conservators of. The world within the Cradle of the Stars contains histories as well as prophecies, artworks as well as books, nightmares as well as dreams. And daemons.
And my daemon was trapped in the Face.
I did not know her nature when I met her. The quantstructs of the Shaluay often mimic life, intelligence. I found her in a room of water, alone, staring at a dark ceiling and crying red tears. I was not meant to be here, but I thought I knew better than my teachers.
The levels that were forbidden are the ones I sort out. It was only after I fell that I understood they were restricted for a reason.
Her voice was soft, gentle. She reminded me of the mother I had lost long ago. She enticed me, lowered my defences and dropped the tiniest hints of the knowledge I craved.
There is a reason that the Shaluay keep their initiates sheltered as the Ciralys do those who can see the Light of the Eye. But I was strong, the strongest my teachers had found in a thousand years. I knew better than they my own abilities.
Pride. It is ever the downfall of humanity. She drew her web to coerce me and flew into it willingly. I let her in, and she would not leave. I was trapped, a voice locked in a Face, shut in a dark room, crying red tears while see took my body and her freedom.
I remain here still, waiting for another Shaluay to find me at last. Weaving a web of my own…