Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Monastery

Koteph was weak. He had lost. Well, perhaps that was stating things rather strongly. But he certainly hadn't won. He hadn't been able to kill Dragoneyes, or take what he wanted. He had failed.
Koteph paced in his chamber, at the apex of the Black Tower. How could he hope to succeed after such a meager performance? How could he hope to slay an army of enemies, free Ochekol'kan, and extract his reward?
As he shambled through his unlit Tower, the shade's doubts began to grow. He was a failure. He had always been a failure. He had been born a failure. The bastard son of a traveling sorcerer. A killer by age eight. Expelled from the one place that had ever accepted him. And now he wasn't even human. A walking corpse. Repulsive. His very body was a constant reminder that he was destined to die.
No. He couldn't let himself think like that. If he opened that door, it would be days before he could close it. If he could close it at all. Koteph needed to contain his misery. Hold it inside himself, as he always had. He needed to focus on the task before him.
Terix had just located a grimoire. The Book of Midice. It contained the knowledge of the Peren mage, nearly a millennium old. Midice's book was located in the library of a monastery in what was now the Etoran Empire. Koteph closed his eyes, flexed his power, and was transported.
Koteph was still recovering from his fight, and his power's had yet to fully return. His spell wasn't as precise as he would have wished. Another spell ascertained his location. Just a short walk to his quarry.
As the shade stalked through the night, he encountered small creatures. Rodents scurrying through a farmer's field. He burned them with lightning. He saw a rabbit. A quick spell, and the rabbit was immobilized. Koteph wondered whether it would starve to death or be eaten by wolves.
The dark sorcerer came upon the monastery. It was an ancient building, erected in honor of Orbius (or Ornum, as he was known among the Peren). It had been partially destroyed during the Etoran conquest, but pieces of it predated the founding of the University.
Koteph uttered the True Name of stone, and passed through a wall. Effortlessly, the mage cut his path into the heart of the structure. He traced lines of magic that would be invisible to all but the most capable of sorcerers, hunting for books which had been enchanted when Old Etor was a small town known for cheap horses and cheaper prostitutes.
Around him, the monastery was drab and dark. The last century and a half had not been kind to the Temple of Orbius. The Temple of Thacanarion, with their alliance with the Imperial house, now reigned supreme.
Koteph reached the library. It was quite different from the sparsely decorated walls outside. It had been sealed off through all the looting and trouble. And it had been built by a powerful and wealthy mage. Even centuries later, some of the walls still had a faint glow, nearly enough to read by. Koteph summoned a small fire, and ordered it to hover safely above the room. Koteph scanned the books before him. There was the Book of Midice, of course. That would bear a great deal of study. There was a copy of The Ossoniad. Koteph had no need of that, he already had one. Several books seemed promising, but turned out only to be history books about various dead sorcerers. Koteph had no interest in the King without Eyes, or the Twins.
One of them was called The Shapers and their Histories. It was damaged almost to the point of being unreadable, and seemed far older than even the ancient texts surrounding it. Koteph turned the pages by magic, making sure not to damage them. He reached a readable section

And the Lord of Light was Why do you do this
And the Lord of Iron was It is my desire

Koteph considered the strange sentences. Two years ago, he would have chalked up the strange grammar to the book's age, and assume the Peren language had evolved. Now, he knew better. He knew the Shapers didn't speak. They simply were.

And the Lord of Light was What do you seek from this
And the Lord of Iron was I seek power
And the Lord of Iron struck the Lord of Light
And it was the first strike
And the skies rained Iron
And the skies rained Light

Koteph couldn't read anything beyond that. He flipped through the book. Could he find information about Ochekol'kan, his powerful patron? He reached another legible passage.

And the Six cast judgment among them
And Orinium cast in favor of the elves
And Trrm cast in favor of the dwarves
And Ishii cast in favor of the dwarves
And Ouuli cast in favor of the elves
And Nuuok cast in favor of the elves
And Ochekol'kan cast in favor of the dwarves
And so the elves prevailed

It seemed to list six of the Shapers. Adding in Takenor, that made seven. Koteph had once heard the hypothesis of seven original Shapers given as an explanation of the seven shafts of the Green Tower. Interesting, but useless.
Koteph flipped through the book some more.

And Orinium brought his punishment down on Ochekol'kan. 
Just as she had deprived the Elves of their power, he deprived her of hers
Just as the Elves had been cast out of their Towers, she was cast from hers

Useless. It was all useless! Koteph tried to contain his rage. He took the Book of Midices, and left the rest of them to burn. As he locked the doors of the monastery, trapping the monks in their burning home, Koteph allowed himself a smile. The monks were powerless. Weak. He was strong.

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