Dicember 2021 – shame

Minstrel’s tales and the whisper-net of adventurers, ne’er-do-wells and other glory-seekers all speak of, at times, a certain fey and strange fountain.

Its location changes, from tale to tale: some say in the deepest of labyrinths (but none agree which), some name an isolated shrine half tumbled to ruin, some a far-off palace ruled by emperor or angel or formless wraith.

What doesn’t change is the fountain’s description, and its thorny gift.

It is a font of smooth grey stones, faintly translucent, fitted so cunningly together that not even a hair could slip between them; a half-moon of framing stone, set flush to a wall or standing free, and a basin in which water wells up gently from an unseen source. Resting on the basin’s broad lip is a dipper shaped so smoothly from milky crystal as to look grown, not carved.

Drink the sweet, cool water from the dipper and be absolved of all your failures, all your regrets, all your shame both secret and known throughout the lands. Be absolved, and know yourself to be free.

Balance, of course, must always be maintained.

What is the fountain’s price?

01. Your greatest accomplishment is also forgotten
02. Your greatest enemy or rival has also had the slate wiped clean
03. You have aged one-tenth of your lifespan
04. One of your senses is dulled; choose carefully
05. You will fail at one great endeavour at one crucial, critical point
06. Your dreams remind you of what you were absolved of
07. Your vitality is weakened, leaving you vulnerable to illness or poison
08. One archivist, unknown to you, is moved to record the sudden knowledge in their thoughts …

Dicember 2021 – rage

In the aftermath of the Four Sorcerers Clash, there it lay in its bondage, straining against the chains of blood-golden light that bound it, pinned it motionless into the rubble that once was Ruthenen’s mightiest mountain.

In warring against each other, Ruthenen’s wild spell-magisters uncovered a being more fearful than they could ever hope to be.

Now they lay shattered beneath the broken stones and ashen forest, and in their place a fallen titan of tyrannical eternity strained four golden arms against its bonds; clashed its great wolf’s jaws in silent scissoring of starlight fangs; thrust a single spiralling horn of blood-stained twilight towards the uncaring sky; tore pearled and sable scales the size of small huts free against its phantom chains as its falcon-talons, greater than grand halls, tore furrows like small ravines through the earth.

The Golden Night rages against a fettering set in place long before mortals came to Ruthenen.

The Golden Night howls in silent fury to an uncaring heaven its burning eyes can once again behold.

The Golden Night whispers to the heart of any who approach its bulk; terrible, wondrous, furious, thirsting.

Lift even the least of my bonds and

01. I will forge you into a conqueror of steel and sunfire
02. all that you hate will burn to scarlet ashes
03. you will come to sit at my right hands and wield my sickle
04. all will bow to what you shall become
05. white flame shall scour the unworthy from existence
06. we will pull the traitor heavens down into the earth

Yet all around the titan, in the rubble and the wreckage, and the dying mountain, the decaying forest, there is a sign …

01. where ichor pools under scale-stripped flesh the earth turns to chalky ashes
02. animals that approach within a furlong turn on each other without fail
03. above the fallen titan the sky appears blank, a white and empty void
04. silver blackens and bubbles, copper and bronze patinate and slowly grow tiny branches
05. each day more and more strange knots of congealed anger range the countryside, congeries of crimson and black and bruise-purple that lash with coiling barbs and waves of red fury
06. shattered rock slowly shifts and reconfigures across the land into the shape of four great blades

… and there are also wondrous things …

01. from ichor and chalk spring tiny golden flowers that cleanse all infirmity
02. rasped golden flesh reveals true-gold veins within, and hints of glittering sky-iron sinew
03. spars of fallen scale, rich with power and sharp as a lie, cry out to be forged
04. silent snarls, heavy of breath, congeal in the cool of night into tiny amorphous masses, like silk-light smoke-blue ambergris heavy with secrets
05. cracks in the battered earth gleam bone-golden, amber and opal, suffused with the light of titanic binding
06. what would happen if one consumed the merest morsel, the tiniest crumb of flesh?

… but suppose instead one wished to warn, or gain the aid of, or parley with …

01. the Sapphirine Concordat, of the sorcerer’s folly if nothing else
02. the seven prismatic cranes of sharp crystal plumage that fly on slow circuitous route around Ruthenen’s fallen lands since the Clash
03. Hess’skenieth The Sundered, most ancient of dragons, scaled in ochre and orchid, said to be older than the gods themselves
04. the Six Faiths Of The Turning Heavens, for surely those summer-robed dedicants have some concealed wisdoms
05. a slim, patient representative of the Pearl-Shadowed Hell, just waiting to be called upon and very interested
06. the road-worn mendicant knight, banner- and badgeless, who camps just beyond the fallen one’s influence and never seems to break vigil

… but, oh! oh!

Does one shining chain shiver and falter …?