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The Prophecy of Peril

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The Prophecy of Peril

Post by Ronson on Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:19 pm

Atrayan stood at a shelf reorganizing his books and tomes in his room in the tower of the Academy of Arcane Science in Freeport when the entire building began to shake violently. Struggling for his own footing, he awkwardly lunged to save a carefully stacked pile of books and an ink jar from falling off his desk. He was too late. They all tumbled to the floor. The books spread across the floor, the ink jar spilled onto his favorite rug, and Atrayan landed square on his tailbone, sending a sharp pain shooting up his spine. After only a few seconds, everything was still again.

"What in Solusek's flame was that?" Atrayan grumbled to himself. He crawled across the floor to clean up the mess when he heard shouts from above him in the tower. They sounded like cheers.

He ignored the mess for the moment and groaned loudly as he got to his feet, rubbing his aching lower back. He muttered a few words that most would find unsavory and shuffled as quickly as he could up the ramp to the top of the Academy. There among a growing crowd he saw Opal Darkbriar, the academy librarian, standing smugly and curtseying for all with a great flourish.

"For all of you who doubted my theory and efforts when I first suggested we open this portal, I ask you to behold what we have created here -- a portal of all portals!" she exclaimed. Several of the academy's most notable wizards stood behind Opal. When she spoke, they all looked at each other and rolled their eyes. She didn't seem to notice and continued to congratulate herself for the portal that had formed behind her which, of course, had nothing to do with her.

Four days ago, the wizards of the Academy noticed a small magical disturbance that appeared as a faint blue glow on a platform at the height of the tower. Many years ago when the academy was built, that very platform was created as a portal site. It was made from precious stones passed down from wizard to wizard that were said to have belonged to the most adept wizards of the Combine Empire. However, at the time of the site's construction, none of the wizards could agree on where the portal might lead, so it was left untouched . . . until recently.

The morning after the magic pocket appeared in the academy, Arch Mage Galsin, a high elf master of teleportation arts, called a meeting with all of the guild masters of the academy. He spoke of a dream he had the night before in which Druzzil Ro pleaded with him to cultivate and protect the portal in the academy. While some guild masters were skeptical, they agreed to let Galsin gather his apprentices to investigate and protect the portal site.

As the hours passed, Druzzil Ro's presence became keenly felt by almost everyone in the Academy and they all spoke of it tentatively. Those who didn't have dreams of a great tower that joined two islands of flowing magic said they heard a distinct voice that spoke in riddles -- Druzzil's voice. Naturally, the academy leaders unraveled the riddles quickly. Deciphered, they revealed a dark prophecy; one that described Norrath smothered by eternal night, forever enslaved by an evil master. And today was the culmination of all the events of the past few days. As Atrayan was sorting his books, the pocket of magic at the portal site exploded into a column of light that reached into the sky above the tower.

Atrayan continued to listen to Opal Darkbriar's claims of ownership and prowess with disinterest. Opal was well known for taking credit for others' work. It was her modus operandi to garner the attention of the masters who might elevate her position within the academy. She certainly got plenty of attention over the years, the wrong kind (outside of Cain Darkmoore, the Steel Warriors guild master, who had fallen madly in love with her). Nevertheless, she remained revered by some as the best librarian ever known with an almost unnerving thirst for knowledge, particularly of the necromantic arts. That was her specialty even as a high elf enchanter.

As Opal continued to wax arrogant over her involvement in the portal's creation, Atrayan's focus shifted to the brightening light behind her. The portal was humming and started to pulse with blinding white light. The resonance of the hum deepened and rattled Atrayan's teeth so fiercely that he had to slip his tongue between them.

A strange silhouette slowly formed within the column of light, a shape that Atrayan didn't recognize. By this time, all the attending academy scientists' eyes turned to watch the portal. Many of them slowly stepped backward as the shape within the light was clearly foreign.

The portal then stopped pulsing and an incredibly malformed creature floated slowly from it. As strange and ugly as it was, it was somehow equally benevolent.

"It has no head!" Atrayan exclaimed, frozen where he stood with shock. And indeed the creature didn't. What might have been a head on most intelligent creatures was almost like a gaping mouth, rimmed by what appeared to be fangs. Atrayan thought that if it once did have a head, its mouth had long since taken over. He also noted that the creature had some of the most elegant and intricate robes he had ever seen.

And if all of it wasn't bizarre enough, the creature spoke without any discernable vocal chords or spoken words. It communicated telepathically to all of them.

"I am an emissary of the Matron of the Art, Druzzil Ro. She has sent me here to guide you as best as I am able," the creature stated with grating, almost gargled words, which seemed peculiar even as telepathic speech. "I am a child of Druzzil Ro, a scrykin. Should you make any attempt on my life, I will bring the wrath of magic fully upon you."

Opal then spoke, to everyone's disappointment and embarrassment.

"We wish you no harm, emissary. In fact, it was I that secured your passage to these lands of mortals where we worship and adore the Matron of th --," Opal stopped as the scrykin raised its arms quickly. Suddenly, everyone's mind was pierced by a shrill scream that shattered all their thoughts with unimaginable pain.

Atrayan knew covering his ears would not stop the pain from the screech, but he felt as though his brain was going to squeeze out of them. But as quickly as the scream and agony came, it stopped. Then the strange gurgling voice invaded their minds once again.

"Silence that imposter!" the emissary chortled and pointed a wizened finger at Opal. "And bring to me the one you call Galsin."

There were murmurs among the crowd followed by movement from the back as Galsin inched his way to the stand before the emissary.

"I am Arch Mage Galsin," he said. The next words delivered by the emissary were heard only by the mage.

"You are to be the first to pass into our plane of Magic through this portal. You will meet the others who were summoned to Arcstone in times past. It is your charge to learn the ways of magic and to help guide kindred mortals through many trials and tests that are unknown to me. This is a path you must choose and you must know that with it comes great responsibility. Against your nature, you must remain in Arcstone and allow all mortals with the desire and skill to aid my matron with your guidance. Do you accept this charge?" the emissary asked.

Galsin paused for a moment, unsure where to look at the emissary as it had no eyes. The magicians, wizards, and enchanters gathered by the portal looked expectantly at him. They had all watched him nod and react, knowing he was spoken to. Opal stood by quietly too, but her eyes bore into Galsin with hate.

"I will do whatever will please the matron. I accept your charge," Galsin said. The emissary raised his right arm, revealing a bland-faced mask suspended from the cuff of his robe, and swept it in the direction of the portal, bidding Galsin to enter it. The mage nodded slowly and walked into the portal, vanishing in a bright flash of light.

The emissary then turned and faced the masters of the arcane.

"Attuned to magic, you are. You have been sent visions and a prophecy of great peril to us all. It is your duty and mine to remain here and document all that is learned to guide those that pass into the planes to heed the matron's call," the emissary said.

"Planes? More than one?" Atrayan inquired from amidst the crowd. The reply surprised them all and caused a momentary wave of embarrassment to pass over Opal's features.

"The matron has brought you gifts unlike any you've known. Her great power has provided all she believes you need to save this world, including passage into lands and realms not attainable by mortals in the past. In moments you will have visitors that claim a passage into Sullon Zek's plane of Rage and even more magnificent still is a portal in your desert through space and time to the Elddar Forest of old. Use these gifts wisely for they are our only hope to alter the matron's prophecy. Now, you must go and prepare. The future -- of mortal and god alike -- rests in your hands," the scrykin said with finality.

The crowd dispersed quickly. Atrayan lifted the front of his robes so he didn't trip as he trotted down the ramp with the crowd. In his room, he started to clean up the mess of books and ink on his rug. Then, just as the emissary foretold, he heard a Steel Warrior apprentice shout about the discovery of a portal to the Plane of Rage.

As significant as that was, Atrayan was more preoccupied by the emissary's last words. He reflected on all he'd accomplished in his life and believed it was all meant for this moment. Now, it was up to him and those like him to change the path of a prophecy that would surely see the end of the world.


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