The halls gleamed in the torchlight. I could hear the sizzling
of the pitch in the sconces.. so pregnant was the silence that
lay heavy in the halls.
I watched from the doorway of the kitchen, hugging the stone
lintel as I surveyed the scene. I was by no means alone in my
witnessing of the night's events. Strung along the cold stone
wall was a hodgepodge collection of men and women. Clothed
in furs and animal skins and covered with scars, the members
of the Horde stood warily, like cagey animals awaiting their
prey to stalk into their clearing.
The Chongun Magistrates and other premier members were
assembled in the hall. To my young eyes, they were clothed in majesty. Their armor shone brilliantly, barely containing the muscles that rippled just underneath their sturdy
breastplates. Every now and then the flash of torchlight would betray the location of the Shinshos and Honor shields, slung proudly at their sides or tucked beneath sweeping capes.
At their forefront stood Guldar, the Avatar of the Chongunate.
The Ursine Warrior, he was called had a face mapped with the battles he had fought over the yuris. It was heavily lined and scarred with age, but unmistakably hard. Currently his eyes
were set, along with everyone else's in the room, on the man occupying the focal point of the Immortal's Gateway.
The man wore a brilliant green, like spring's first kiss on
the land. His face was unknown to us then, but he would later
be called "Germ." A mask that matched the color of his robes stretched from ear to ear, obscuring the majority of his features. Nevertheless, his words came out crystal clear.
"The Amaranthine beasts are walking the lands. Every day more
and more citizens fall at their hands. Something.. has to be done." The sounds drifted out of his mouth like lazy dreams on
a summer evening, each conveying an idea from their silver tongued master.
He was right of course. We had all witnessed the attacks, all
endured the attacks. Eight Immortal beasts, or Amaranthine, as they had come to be called, had been unleashed upon the land. Each had carved a bloody swathe through the kingdoms: Chief Slog, the Cave Ogres, Lost Spirits.. Gwangmok in the southern Mythic realm, we had faced and endured them all.
But the Diviners had spoken - though eight had devastated us,
a ninth and final Amaranthine beast remained. This final one,
the prophecies spoke, would beat down our resistance, would break our defences like kindling twigs and smash our people.
"The solution.." the man in green continued,"is to band together. The other paths have already contributed their end,
to protect, to SAVE the people of these lands. Will you be the one that refuses?"
At this the Barbarians scattered across the room barked laughter. The corners of Germ's mask lifted slightly, as if he was smiling and as he did so, his bag swung forward to reveal the cache of items that he secured. They were all there - the sacred relics of the paths, each filled with the magic and steady purpose of the members who had safeguarded them for so long.
Germ spoke of a ritual that would require sacrifice from each
path. Such a thing was not unheard of. After all, Madog, the first Chongun Avatar had sacrificed her Seven Leaf blade,
along with many others in the forging of the Spirit Arrow that destroyed Orb. But perhaps the firelight lingered too delightfully in his eyes. Despite the dulcet tone of his voice and the cheery color of his garments, something unpleasant hovered around him, hiding behind his words.
"Will you be remiss in your duties?" Germ continued, his voice
reaching out lightly and plucking like fingertips on the heartstrings of the listeners. "Or will you be bold and
valorous and stand with us?"
"He won't! He's a coward!" came another rough bark from the
the side of the room and the Horde observers roared with
Many hands amongst the Chongunate moved for their blades,
others clenched fists in outrage that their Avatar would be slighted in such a manner. Words flew like sharpened knives through the air and the air palpably thickened with the
frothing of mouths and the frenzied staccato of hearts.
Before it came to blows, Guldar raised his hand into the air.
It was a gentle sweep of his massive hand, but full of
meaning. The voices echoing through the collonade hushed long enough for him to speak for the first time in my memory.
<b>"Hush boys.. Daddy's talking."
The tittering in the room fell silent. Eyes moved away from
Germ and towards the old Avatar. He leaned forward slightly,
the leather in his attire creaking .
The green mask around Germ's face lifted ever so slightly
around the corners. He shouldered the bag, perhaps unconsciously, making room in it for another relic.
Watching his movements carefully, the Ursine Warrior tilted
his head to the side, bemused. "Not so fast," his voice echoed sonorously around the Gateway.
The Avatar's face was hard, unmoved by the insults that had
been thrown at him.
"The only thing of ours that we will be giving to you is
this:" Guldar continued and Germ's eyes widened a bit above
the lip of the mask. "A pledge: We will always protect the people.. But we will not be helping you." His last words lingered in the air for a moment.
His decree given, he straightened his wizended back and
returned to silence. The hall burst with the tension of murmuring and angry looks, but eventually it became still and empty as its occupants one by one departed..
The Avatar made good on his word. The Chongunate, myself included, stood beside the people, shoulder to shoulder when
the time came for Chaos to be unleashed, for Abu to rise and
Time would soon tell the tale of Germ - the relics stolen,
never returned to their masters nor used to aid the people and the man in green vanished from the land of the winds. Together they are relegated to the lips and quills of bards
such as myself.
// For more info on this event and the Amaranthine beasts,
visit this Nexus atlas link..