RotR Chapter One: Burnt Offerings
Prologue: Five Years Earlier
Mokmurian stood in the wide doorway of the great hall, steeling himself against what was to come. Tonight, he would be another step closer to total victory. He took a step into the vast, dark chamber, and then another, then another. His footfalls hammered the floor like an earthquake, his pace was show and reverent. He needed no light to guide him to the dormant runewell in the center of the hall. It's wide, circular rim jutted up from the floor; the walls graven with runes from an age which had long since passed into dust. Inside the well, a murky green liquid sat stagnant, except for small ripples that rolled in random directions, as if an invisible finger were being dipped and dragged across its surface.
It almost seems alive, mused Mokmurian. The thought unnerved him. If it isn't, it soon will be.
Words rumbled out of the darkness from somewhere directly over the well's surface. They struck the air like loose rocks tumbling down a mountainside in the language of an empire long dead. The pool began to dimly glow. The gently gliding ripples swelled to miniature waves. What began as a pinprick of light infused the entire pool until it shone impossibly bright. The runewell bathed the entire chamber in an eerie, lime colored luminescence. A stone giant stood over the runewell, entranced by the bubbling green liquid. He was dressed after the fashion of his people. Growths of lavender crystal erupted from a multitude of fissures spread over his rough, grey skin. Mokmurian felt the presence enter his mind before he'd heard its voice bouncing off of the inside of his skull.
WHO AWAKENS ME?
"Your servant, Runelord Karzoug." Mokmurian answered audibly. He felt a wave of cold sweep through his whole body. Icy tendrils, like thin fingers crawled across his mind.
A stone giant? He voice came softer this time, sounding bemused. Willing...and powerful. You will suffice. Heed me! There is much to be done.
"I will, my Master."
A rush of images, sounds, and sensations pounded into Mokmurian like a wave. The stone giant hovered over the pool, taking mental note of his Master's suggestions. He revelled in this moment. History would show that it was the beginning. He would rule the accursed land that birthed him, subjugate the race that banished him, and Runelord Karzoug would allow it to come to pass.
The runewell flared up suddenly, sending a cylinder of putrid green coruscation splashing harmlessly against the ceiling. Unbeknownst to Mokmurian, other runewells were sparking to life all over Varisia: in a deep crack in the mountains, at the bottom of the ocean, deep in the heart of a tangled swamp, even in a catacomb far beneath a sleepy, coastal town.
The Rise of the Runelords had begun...
OOC: no posting yet. Very soon.
Newly Accustomed, or The Horse's End
Had she thought her father's imperious tone from her own lips would always be enough to stay someone's hand when she gave an order? Much less the hand of a practical, battle hardened man like Gus Erastil?
The frowning noblewoman tugged idly at the red and white headscarf's fringe against her shoulder. It was an unconscious, fretting gesture from Lady Gordon's long ago girlhood.
Was it not the way of the world that a wounded horse should be put out of its misery, and a kind of mercy when t'was over?
But her first instinct had been to heal the horse, not see it put down.
Her second thought, though, had been to remember what one of her teachers said about learning when NOT to use magic. He'd claimed it should be the first lesson that spellweavers took to heart, but it was usually the last.
The druid sighed. She must be turning into a sentimental old fool. But she was not so foolish as to ignore the elven bard's augured advice that she stand by the deceptively devilish-looking warrior.
No, she must grow accustomed to being treated as an equal rather than an authority---and sometimes less than that. Lady Eulalia Gordon was out of her father's prestigious and privileged house now. In time, if she proved herself, she would be out of his shadow as well.
Anyway, she enjoyed the familiarity of being called 'Lalia. She didn't want to jeopardize the budding friendship this seemed to herald. It moved her even more than all the times they'd protected one another since beginning the trek from Korvosa to Sandpoint. Yes, she was doting in her advanced years all right.
Still, highborn Lady Gordon receded, and in her place 'Lalia' walked to the fore of the caravan, ready to apologize to Gus for her bitter reaction over the horse's end.
Speaking of which, some "horse's end" was hollering at one of the more prominent caravan merchants and...oh, she knew that voice. She quickened her pace toward Gus and his insouciant grin.