Once, we were more than we are. Once we were great. Then came the fire, and the darkness, and the blood and the pain of betrayal. A man came from the skies in our darkest hour, a man clad in snowy white with a golden sword in his hands, eyes glowing fountains of golden power. We were delivered... or so we thought. But we grew proud, proud of our savior and of the power that lived among us. In our arrogance we grew lax, our military prowess dissolving along with our magical finesse. Having a god watch over us was our downfall, and in the end we would all pay the price.
of life, all of reality itself is in danger,” a graying man
in silver armor and a crimson cloak said as he fell to his knees,
despair stamped across his bluff features. Tears that refused to fall
held steady in his teal blue eyes. “There is no other way. If you
don't take action now, before it's too late, you risk watching the
house burn down around your ears. You must help
me; you're the only being in my world or any other that can.” His
voice trailed off, barely above a whisper. Winds lashed at him in the
near total darkness that surrounded him, being driven by forces
unseen and unknown. A great pillar of magenta crystal rose high into
the sky before him, a pillar that spoke with a voice as hard as the
merciless wheel of fate.
((Your wish shall be granted, Lord Arcadia.)) The words were less a sentence and more a concept, a stream of images that threatened to burn the sanity from his mind. ((But you know the price that must be paid, if you do this thing. You know what it costs you, and what it costs your world. I shall acquiesce purely because I wish to. There is a question that must be answered, the Great Question itself, and through you I will work my designs upon reality. Are you agreed to my terms, Lord Arcadia?)) The man in silver nodded, swallowing. He didn't know whether he should be feeling relief or despair – perhaps both were appropriate. ((There is balance in nature, mortal. Balance in life, balance in death, balance in magic. All things serve the natural harmony of the song of life itself. Be certain that this is what you wish. There can be no going back after this, no turning the clock backwards, no setting of your sun in your eastern skies as opposed to the western ones.))
“Whatever the price is I will gladly pay it,” the man in silver said. “The races of the living across the multiverse are worth the loss of an infinitesimally small piece of that life. I will do what must be done, I will see to it that mankind throws off his shackles purely through human determination alone, and I will tend to the weapon we shall be building to cater to that necessity.”
((Know you that there must always be balance, Lord Arcadia.)) Silence then, silence and tension. The magenta glow of crystal beneath the points of his body that touched the ground rippled in the manner of a pond, and he waited as the silence became unbearable. ((Just as you seek to create a living avatar of the will of the Elements in the mortal realms so too must there be a reflection, a shadow, a mirror of that vessel. A mirror capable of growing and devouring at any cost to achieve its goals. Just as you ask to snuff out the light of one universe so too must you watch the inevitable destruction of your own world as payment to that balance. Go forth from this place, Sarcodus Arcadia, and tread lightly. You will be summoned when the time is right. You will not recall having this conversation, not directly. The power of premonition and intuition will guide your hand when I deem it necessary.))
Sarcodus nodded, rising slowly, releasing a shaky sigh of relief. He'd been successful, though to what end he could not be certain. ((Remember the balance, Lord Arcadia. I pronounce you accursed forthwith, bound by my power, bound to return even beyond the realms of the dead, tied forever to your fate as an observer and a protector.)) Images assaulted his mind, images of ethereal light piercing the sky, of the green flames of oblivion dancing throughout reality, and at last of a silver eyed man in golden plate, laughing and looming high overhead. Sarcodus turned to walk away, forgetting what was said between himself and the Heart of the Universe even as he took his first steps. A swirling hole in the sky opened with the touch of the Gift, a hole that showed images of a dimly lit stone room on the other side. He thought he heard one last admonition as he stepped through. ((Remember. The Great Question comes before everything else that has ever or will ever exist. I have watched the rise and fall of universes for years beyond your mortal comprehension. Seek to betray me and watch your world burn along with everyone and everything sooner rather than later, including you and your precious savior. Go now, and do not fail me. I will be watching. The Heart of the Universe has spoken.))
Sarcodus shuddered as he returned to his chambers, even if he hadn't a clue why. The candles on his desk seemed to have been burning for no more than a moment, but he couldn't shake the feeling that it had been much longer than that. No matter. There will be time for that later. For now, I must press on.