Friday, October 26, 2018

The Dark Eidolon: A New Campaign

To look up into the night's sky
To see the stars [have] changed
To know a thousand years or more have passed, and I am still the same
This mountain hollow that keeps me in a [suffocating] embrace
A prison and a safe haven, it's always been this way
-Apex, by Unleash the Archers

 Tides of bitumen colored clouds surged, then receded over the horizon.  An undulating cycle which belonged to no season save the cruelest autumn.  Hateful, merciless skies.  A ziggurat of shale shuddered beneath the oncoming wind; its uppermost stages shook the hardest, yet shook beneath no wind, but beneath the footsteps of the great Oracle Mulmak.

 You look upon his cragged and corrugated face.  In old legends, you have heard tell of creatures such as Mulmak: bestial titans with skin thick as wrinkled  green tree-trunks.  Plodding giants with a tail in the customary place, as well as a tail in front.  And yet Mulmak is something more, a man stretched over the bones of a giant, with a grey monster stretched over the man.
 He regards you with tiny eyes, flecks of emerald lost within rings of scrunched leather hide.  He reaches down, immeasurably.  His hand, large as the seat of a throne, takes the bronze goblet from you.  His fingers, each with thick ends like a horse's hoof, delicately grasp the lip with a clink.  With a whistling hoot, he inhales the scent from within the goblet with his front-tail.
 You try to steady your voice, but it is impossible to remain completely calm as Mulmak draws up to his full height.  His front tail, grasping the cup as easily as a hand, returns the goblet to you.  "I - I did not drink from it," you say, "An accident.  One of my servants drank the wine instead.  He fell.  He remained still."
 A deep whistling as Mulmak exhales.  He regard you, hard eyes unmoving as the stone.  He does not speak, but you say the obvious: "The servant - my servant - he did not die."
 Mulmak retained his silence.
 "He seemed to die.  He only slept.  We prepared to burn his body, but then he awoke before the pyre was made ready."
 Mulmak inhaled with a long echoing whistle.  "Why?"
 You are about to speak when Mulmak turns with the steady slowness of only the largest of things.  His footsteps crack the flagstones; his canvas garments of white whispered in the manner of high clouds, even as the fetishes and bones affixed thereunto clattered as osseous wind-chimes.  He sat with all the impact of a collapsing cave upon the ancient stone throne - a throne built by forgotten hands, if hands they were, for a race of giants beyond the honest scale of men.
 "Why?" the Oracle repeated.
 You'd never considered that; you'd assumed the poison simply hadn't slain you on account of accidental fortune.  "Why... why wouldn't the poison be meant to slay me?"
 Oracle Mulmak did not move in his throne.  Above, the bitumen skies rose and fell with the boom and hiss of rolling seas.  The answer was obvious: whoever poisoned your wine did not want you dead, they wanted you alive.
 With a swirl of cloak, you hurry down the steps of the ziggurat.  Your rivals have moved against you much quicker than you thought possible.  Yet, in the back of your mind, you can feel the scratch of a growing unease: why would your rivals, your brothers, want you taken alive?  Only your death would make them king of all the Six Realms.
 As you depart, scurrying like an ant, Oracle Mulmak yet remains still.  The skies have grown dark, heavy and pregnant with rain before he moves again.  With a creaking groan as of leather on leather, he looks to regard his axe leaning against the throne.  A fly passes near his ear.  He fans it away with the barest movement.
 The axe: a haft as thick as a young tree, an obsidian blade larger than a man was tall.  It felt like aeons since he'd picked it up.  Your concerns resonate within the great Oracle, but only as a stone in a pond.  The depths were troubled by more.  His hand shifts, caresses the haft of the axe.
 Somewhere in the West, he has felt the earliest rumbles of something new - something unspeakable terrible.  A galvanic force screaming between an earthquake and a storm as lightning does between two thunderheads.  A new doom arose.  Not the old doom of ancient leviathans cast ashore from the stars by ancient gods.  No, a new doom.  Those old abominations crossed the world as a hurricane: unstoppable, but uncaring.  No, this new doom was no storm: it was a javelin.  A focused conjuration of hatred with a goal.
 Oracle Mulmak grasped the haft of his axe.  He arose.  That which was coming could not be stopped.  It waxed as the storm.  It was unstoppable.  For the first time in a long time, Oracle Mulmak felt fear.  It came as the wind.

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