KilliansQuestion

Killian withdrew the strange stone from his pouch. After a moment of inspection, hoping to glean a heretofore unknown insight, he shifted the rock to his left hand and with his right deftly drew the card from his pouch. The aura of magic emanating from the card was overwhelming. With a definitive gesture, Killian flung the card to the ground, and raising his bearded visage to the sky, the rock clutched in outstretched arms, declared his question.

“What is the importance of the stones?”

With a hiss, the card face disappeared into a black spot as if it had been burned from the card. The card itself, now blank, stared up at the group.

Killian wasn’t sure how he knew, but it seemed that the card was attempting to tap into millenniums of minds, eons of stored knowledge accessible only the most powerful of magicks. Finally, in the blink of an eye, the answer came. Speaking slowly, the answer formed in Killian’s mind. Although the language was unknown to him, and he could not know the dialect was archaic and unbelievable ancient, the words were formed perfectly and with such force that Killian could not doubt their origin was of power unknown to him.

“When he came to this world we called him Ithquent-pap-Ref and said he was a god. He decided that he would be called Pap”.

“Pap claimed to come from another place beyond our world, beyond the land of spirits and ghosts. Beyond even the multitude of stars. A strange creature Pap was. He had multiple legs and a long neck and was covered in a strange, coarse hair. His body was covered with many strange tools and sigils. His words did not cross the bridge between his mouth and our ears; his words formed directly upon our minds. This only confirmed his title, the God of the Future.”

“For many years our people had been striving to learn all the knowledge we could. We had learned to master the wilderness, the build cities that reached into the heavens; we had discovered a way to harness and understand the powers of magic that bound the world together. Pap sat and listened as we feted him with all we knew. Pap scoffed at our marvels as one might laugh at a child that had first learned to walk upright and assumed he had thus conquered the world. Pap described our learning in strange terms and spoke of his intimate knowledge of the mystical forces at work in the world. Pap not only told us of his knowledge, but he demonstrated it.”

“You see, for many years, the cult of Pap grew like a weed and finally began to choke out the fruits of the holy garden tended by our old gods. Pap became powerful, worshipped as the rightful God and savior of our people. His power was such that no warlord or sage of our people could compare. It was for Pap that we labored for many years to build a temple for him to live in. All of our skill and knowledge went to build the beautiful temple of not-stone. The not-stone we used was not like the stones we knew. Pap gave it to our most renowned builders and showed them the way to make a fist sized lump of white rock grow into many giant slabs – like a seed growing into a mighty tree. This strange stone was a comfort to Pap he claimed; for it was all that remained of his homeland. It seemed he drew strength from the strange glowing white rock. Once we had built the temple, and then a city around, Pap sat upon his throne, lord of our people and of the world. However, not all of us venerated this strange new god.”

“Our priests had begun to have strange dreams once Pap arrived. They found their night visions filled with strange omens and ill-tidings. When they came to warn our people, they turned away from their warnings. Eventually, Pap began to desecrate the old temples and to hunt the holy men of the old gods, to turn us against the guardians of the old ways. Our people turned to Pap in place of the gods of their ancestors and began to direct the worship rightfully due the old gods to Pap. Once our people began to join him in his pogrom, the few remaining adherents of the old ways could stand no more and began to work against him. It was then that the true nature of Pap and the awful portent of his arrival were laid bare before our people.”

“One night the elder priests came to Pap. They came out from hiding deep within their holy sanctuaries as he sat upon his throne. The priests asked him questions that no one had dared broached previously. Who was he really, and why was he here? Pap only laughed. It was then that he told them of his true mission. He did so freely, knowing that now his plans could not be stopped”.

“Pap told them his people had longed wondered among the stars, searching for a home to replace the one they had lost. After millennia of searching, they had found a world ripe for the taking: Ours. With only the gods to protect us, they sent others like Pap out to undermine our beliefs, to work to convince our people to turn our backs on the gods and deprive us of their protection. It was a masterful plan, like a dragon hunter they had drawn us from the safety of our lairs out into the open where spears and swords could be brought to bear. Faces etched with fear, the priests slew Pap upon his throne. Afterwards they fell to their knees and beseeched the gods to help us. Only now, there was no answer.”

“The next morning, when the two moons set and the sun rose, the sky was full of a new moon. A glistening metal moon that rained fire and death from the sky. Many of our people perished before the night came. It looked as though our people would be extinct before the next sunrise.”

“But, though we had forsaken them, the gods deigned to grant us aid. Priests, chanting and praying, were given a vision of how to defeat the invaders and reclaim our world. It began with the rock. As the last remnant of the Other’s home world it was linked to them. It gave Pap power, and so to would it give us power. The rock allowed the mystics to see into the world of its origin. It was a focal point in tune with the alien world hidden within the metal sphere laying waste to our world. It was a key that would open the door, which would draw them out to do battle”.

“We gathered up as much of the rock as we could. Each man, woman, and child was given a piece of the rock. In one hand we held the rock, and in the other our weapons. The priests began to chant their ritual. The rocks in each our hands began to vibrate and sing. With that we found ourselves, the last might host of our world upon the steel world of our invaders. The battle was joined. Such an epic confrontation should have spawned songs and poems to celebrate the mighty deeds of that day. But it was not to be. While the battle pitched back and forth, when it looked like neither side would strike the decisive blow, the gods themselves struck. Like a shiny, disposable bauble meant to trick a child, the gods used the greatest battle the world had seen as a distraction. Retribution against all who had opposed the gods was swift, merciless, and complete”.

“The fields were rent and torn, the mountains leveled, the seas boiled, the air grew molten. It was then, in the face of losing it, that the gods remade the world. Like the phoenix, rising from the ashes of its former self, the world began anew. Our people, long the children of the gods and keepers of the world, perished, so the world would not. Our people were inescapably doomed to be forgotten amongst even the most learned of the new world. Our sins against the true gods of the world had broken the sacred covenant we shared with them, and as such, our fate befitted our failings. Our deeds, our names, all that we had strived, fought and lived for came to nothing”.

“Now, there is virtually nothing linking this new world to our old one. The very little that does linger harbors deep within it the spirit of the warrior who carried a piece of the non-stone into battle; the few pitiful shards remaining are our tombstone; our only legacy”.