Chapter 1 – Old Statues
It is not often that a lone man enters the realm of Jormag. The dangers are endless. Great wurms, elemental beasts, and the bitter cold claim most who dare traverse these frozen lands. Some would say those were the lucky ones. “Better to have your body ripped apart by a snow wurm than to have your soul ripped away, only to become one of the dragon's new abominations of snow and ice,” they would say, warning those not to venture far into the icy north.
Bundled in layers of thick hides and soft furs, Dassk scanned the white, lifeless landscape. He had not seen another human for months, not that he expected such nonsense. Humans typically kept to the much warmer climates of Kryta in the west. To the east, where the city of Ascalon once flourished, there remained one last stronghold, EbonHawke, a solid fort protected by strong walls and large mountains.
“Mostly fools griping too strongly to the past”, Dassk had told some norn a week past. They were not met them under to best of circumstances. A wurm shot up through the ground and sent him soaring through the air. As a child Dassk once dreamed of flying. It was nothing at all like he had hoped.
He was found, contorted and battered yet not altogether dead, by a norn hunting party that was tracking the wurm. They brought him to a recent settlement, and he was given a bed to rest. They dressed his wounds and fed him. He recovered in the cold while exploring their cozy encampment built into the side of a mountain. He felt short, weak, and overdressed, though he was not made a spectacle. Forget flying, thought Dassk, If only I had their tolerance of the cold. Then I wouldn't be burdened with ten pounds of grawl fur!
On his fifth day at the norn camp, he gathered his things and set out to continue his search. A norn by the gate tried to dissuade him. He told him not to go so far north, that even norn do not travel the area in parties of less than six. The gatekeeper smiled as he walked past. Apparently, the norn understood him better than humans.
Dassk had little love for his homeland. Even amongst the people of Ebonhawke, among the people he spent his youth, he felt no attachment. They did not trust him; they would never understand. Out here, amidst the quite solidarity, he was free. The new Warmarshel said he found a message from his predecessor. Dassk was told that there was something he must find, here, near the far northern reaches of the coldest mountains. He would wager the Warmarshel had finally found an excuse to be rid of him. Dassk jumped at the opportunity. The ice welcomes him, people do not.
Shifting his third and fourth fur overcoat to better retain the heat, the frigid traveler finally arrived at his destination. Amidst the frozen lake, Dassk marveled at the giant building, a resounding bronze against the white winter. From afar, the massive structure appeared to be abandoned, yet as he reached it, there seemed to be a sort of warmth from within.
The young traveler spent the next hour banging his shoulder into the door, chipping at an icy hinge with his knife, and cursing loudly. Eventually, and with a great deal of effort, he opened the heavy doors enough to squeeze himself through.
It was impressive enough. The walls were large and ostentatious, with great murals depicting the epic battles of the heroes of legend, before the awakening of the dragons. The large canvas and solid oak frames would fetch a lofty price. It should have taken more than ice to protect these relics from raiders and treasure seekers. Perhaps there was more to this place than metal and stone. Despite the open ceiling, there was certain warmth Dassk felt within these walls, a certain presence pushing him forward. He looked towards the inner chamber.
Dassk fell hard as he toppled into the main room. He ran, expecting once again to have to barrel open doors that were frozen stiff. As he got up, rubbing the numb spot where his arm should hurt, he looked into a vast blackness. This room did not have an open ceiling to allow for light. Dassk searched for some way to rid the chamber of its darkness.
Dassk felt around until he bumped into a loose branch. A torch, perhaps. He wrapped his outermost layer of fur around the branch and made use of what little magic he knew. Though he couldn't actually create fire, he could concentrate enough to make sparks in the air. Though barely suitable to impress small children, it is sufficient to catch fur aflame. Dassk was momentarily pleased as he saw his impromptu torch light the room. His glee was short lived as the fire spread quickly to a nearby tapestry. It burned quickly. It looked expensive.
It did allow enough light for Dassk to see a nearby brazier, which he guiltily lit as the fine tapestry was quickly consumed by the flame. This light granted Dassk a better look at his hand held lighting fixture. It was not a torch. It was a flaming fur coat wrapped around a half burnt bow. He rushed to put out the flame. The bow now had its only use as kindling and the tapestry was all but nonexistent. Oh well, he thought still feeling a bit guilty, no one will know but me. Dassk took a mental note to bury it under some snow on his way back.
Dassk used this new light to look to his right, where he grabbed the wooden bow, and found a collection of artifacts, mostly weapons, arranged in a display with plaques and labels beneath them. There was a single empty display. The plaque said, “Here lies the bow of Urgoz, spiritual demon of the Echovald Forest.” Dassk looked down in despair at the scorched remnant of wood.
He moved sheepishly on toward the next display. Shiro's daggers! Forgetting his failed torch, he enigmatically stalked from one display to another. He saw an am fah mask, a margonite chest piece, a sunspear's spear, and a shield of the mursaat. The next bow he recognized sent a chill down his spine. He did not need to read the label below. “Here lies the Ironwing Flatbow of Beta Ray Wade.”
Dassk knew of this legendary archer all too well. All humans have seen the painting of Beta Ray Wade wielding this fabled bow in the legendary ring of fire islands, traveling with a small group of heroes to fight the Lich Lord, who unleashed the Titans on the lands of Tyria. Dassk's mother named him after this hero. He has been ridiculed since childhood because of it.
His eyes grew wide, frantic at his newfound realization, as a brilliant sparkle was caught in his peripherals. He was disappointed to find that the glimmer of light originated from a celestial longbow, an ancient treasure from the lost lands of Cantha, and not the Legendary Stormbow he used when he fought The Great Destroyer. Dassk took a moment to calm himself. Perhaps some of the stories could be true, not all of them of course, embellishments gaining grandiosity as time passes. Though, despite his disclaimer, here were the artifacts that seemed to hint towards these tales' veracity.
Daskk began to wonder about this place. Could it be some sort of monument built to pay homage to this mythical figure, or was it something more, something that has somehow kept itself isolated from the filth and decay that seems to have taken hold of the rest of Tyria?
His answers would be revealed at the next display. If this was some sort of monument, then they would not have made this shrine. There were tittles, deeds, historical records, and maps of planed routes with hand drawn buildings and locations. Next to the desk was a large bust of Beta Ray Wade. This is the real proof that the legendary heroes existed, conformation that this isn't just some sort of abandoned shrine. This was a place where the hero must have spent a lot of time. Before him was the plan to strike an assault at heart of The Great Destroyer.
Dassk moved on to the statues on the far side. The plaque on the bottom shined Hall of Fellowship.
The statues were skillfully carved with a lifelike, intricate detail. There was the great warrior, Tzimite Dreadlord, the wizard Arkillius Deathmage, and the famed paragon Wonko the Sane. There was also an unknown dwarf that seemed to be missing the label below where it should say his name. Dassk looked to the side to see the hero's greatest companion; one of the great white moa's which are now extinct. He looked at the plaque below in anticipation to read the name that has been lost to historians. “Birdie.” Dassk sighed, Such a stupid name.
Dassk felt some sort of pull from the center of the chamber. It was the same feeling he felt in the outer chamber, like a body recently passed, the soul seeking its proper place. He had been trying to ignore it, scarred that it could consume him. It was the heart of this place. Dassk felt strong. He would not let it overtake him.
Dassk turned and stepped down the stairs toward the middle of the room. There was a thick liquid in its center. It looked to be a pool of melted iron, yet flowed thin as water. Dassk saw shadows form and light bend. He bent down to get a closer look. There was an image forming in the center of the strange liquid.
“You look like him.” A raucous voice bellowed throughout the hall. It sounded like a dull sword scraping hard granite. Dassk had assumed he was alone in the room; the door was shut and hadn't been opened for generations. He looked around, only to find a lifeless chamber. Am I hearing things, he thought. His face was contorted, his eyes held bewilderment. He held his strength tightly for fear it would depart.
“My apologies.” Dassk could still not tell where the voice came. It echoed throughout the chamber.
Frantically looking around, Dassk reached for his knife to the side of his boot. “Show yourself,” he cried.
“Over here.” Dassk sought the sound of scrapping stone. To his amazement, one of the statues in the Hall of Fellowship began moving. “Ahh,” the statue groaned. “I seem to be a bit stiff. I have not moved for some time. There are not exactly visitors here.”
“A stone dwarf!” shouted Dassk, still clutching his knife, too excited to notice his grip still held. “They are told about in legends but I thought it was just some exaggeration of the truth. And wait, what did you say?”
“I said you look like him,” the stone dwarf said, apparently less rigid, now able to raise an arm to point to the bust of Beta Ray Wade. Dassk walked over and took a moment to examine closer. He actually did bear quite a resemblance to the hero of legend.
“And what exactly are you implying?” Dassk said cautiously.
“Nothing really,” said the dwarf, now able to raise his legs. He began slowly moving off the platform with the other statues. Dassk wondered if they would start moving as well. The stone dwarf tried not to let his gaze linger on the burnt bow and tapestry. Dassk look down abashedly. “We dwarfs, we see things, and we tell people what we see. Everybody else takes too close a look at what we say. I say you look like him. That is all there is to it. Just a simple observation from an old dwarf.”
“Right,” Daskk retorted.
“And now I see some visions forming in that scrying pool over there.” The dwarf looked more limber now. He freely strolled down the stairs to the room's center, which held the mysterious liquid. Dassk joined him. There were indeed images that were coming into focus. Dassk thought he saw a baby.
“That must be you,” said the dwarf. “Let's see what it wants to show you.”
Edited, Feb 3rd 2011 1:34pm by bubles