Thursday, December 29, 2005

Eleasis 1st, 1378 of the Cauldron.


I am war. I am tears in your eyes.
I am pain. I am grief.
I am all you've ever slain. I am lies.

It is the Summer Festival. All revel under Selune’s Full Light. Tonight all traps are set. Tonight Nissus will show herself. Tonight she will be mine.

I review all the steps taken along the last month to put our foe in check: every veiled lie and debilitating poison, illusion woven, night incursions, questions asked to the living and the dead… it all told us little of our enemy. But tonight! Tonight we will catch her in the open.

Under the guise of half a dozen different faces we met earlier to link our whispers to our ears. We raise the stakes and lurk around in distant pairs. One thing that we learnt is of Nissus’s deadly cleverness, her shape shifting abilities, and the danger of her charms. She expects the elder Tel’quessir wizards to try to find her and bind her by name during the festival, betting that she wouldn’t try anything openly. But we know her better than these lies may suggest. We expect patiently for her reaction… whichever it is.

The elders resolutely bid their time: Aaron, whose harsh words fail to hide his vast culture and lore; Melnissedek, trailblazer and seer of vast experience; Paar, tragic lover of three sea sisters, master of illusions and insight; and v’Ulpiné, sweet lady whose magics resound with devotion for Corellon. The night goes on and our patience is tested to its limits… for some reason the four delay their actions. Some reason that I can’t guess.

All our waiting put us on the edge and we almost droll in anticipation of the ensuing chaos. All our hidden agenda is ready to be torn apart. Darkness throbs in our hearts, begging to be released. Years of deception put aside for seconds of furious destruction and death. For a moment I realize that we are all addicted to all that… mayhem, destruction, havoc, murderous glee. We yearn these like addicted that were denied for too long. And we are ready to unleash the beasts that dwell in our chest when we finally spot Nissus approaching the elders, masquerading (or puppeteering) as Woodwhisper, the sylvan warrior.

He approaches them ready for battle. So are we. But v’Ulpiné dismisses him and his questions.

For our most stunned surprise he simply walks away…

This is when most skilled, but inexperienced swordsmen die: on the down beat second of his failed attack. He dies still with his most fearful scream in his lips, harshly interrupted by his more experienced opponent’s blade sliding past his open defenses into his ribs. He dies with a gasp and still not believing.

That is how I felt.

That is how I felt. When the elders group together under v’Ulpine decided guidance and disappear on the wing of teleportation spells.

It was her… Nissus.

Our foe has taken v’Ulpine place right under our nose and secreted them away… with their own consent. She played with our lies and used them against us.

But what terrifies me on that moment of failure was that it could have been me. It could have been all of us who frequently take the elders place when the need demands or the fancy strikes. We know where they have gone. They went to the Troll Marshes, where divinations fail. We know they won’t come back.

We hope they don’t.

With that unsaid conclusion we lurk back into shadows… for the first time in a long time afraid of it.

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