As you sleep fitfully, a dream worms it’s way into your mind. You toss and turn, while anxiety fills you. You hear a familiar voice, but you can’t see anything yet, too blurry, fuzzy, dark.
A noisy background. People talking. Voices you should not be able to understand, but you can. You listen to an emotion ladened dialogue. In the background, you sense danger, motion, change is happening. A sort of screeching sound echoes, somewhere. It builds to a crescendo in your ears. You think you won’t be able to stand it any longer, but it won’t go away. Perhaps it’s in the distance, or below you, it feels like it’s within you and all around you. It scares you. In the fogginess of the dream you try to take in details, but things are too blurry to do so. You can see nothing. Shadows of dull hues, blurred into nonsensical shapes. All you can discern is that you are in a vast and dimly lit chamber, and there is quite a bit of movement around you from persons or creatures unknown. Your perception begins to narrow to what is directly in front of you.
You find yourself before several people, forms standing in a group. At least one voice, familiar. In the heat of battle, you have heard voices like these before. They speak in agonized whispers, in a distressed monotone. They are the voices of the condemned.
“The light fades.” A deep and somber voice.
Another voice. “The hordes of Erebus will be over the walls within the hour. The lords of Ket are upon us. We cannot wait any longer. We must light the path, Talos.”
“But my lord, the heroes have not returned.”
“Nor will they. their mission has failed. Our latest scouts have told of overwhelming odds. The traitors have been defeated, but the heroes… have failed.” You hear several gasps as the tense voice confirms in detail the disaster feared for so long.
There is a pause, while something far away resonates like a thunder clap. A different voice now, “Those harbors that have escaped the traitors should hold during the darkening as we have prepared. The others….will not make it.”
“The condemned slaves of Ket, once more,” whispers the first voice. “An unfathomable treachery. the gods of light vanquished, while the lords of darkness given the world. what have we done?” An uncomfortable silence follows.
“Not us, my friend, the three did this. We have been betrayed.”
“But what news from our lords, the four?”
“None. It can only be that they have perished, their lights are lost to us. Our latest intelligence tells us the forces of Atropos or Iggwilv as she is now known, has fallen. News of the second or third, however, has alluded us. The traitors’ plot deceived us all. The ark will close for some, but it will not open now. Closed to our enemy, and closed to us, Tiresias! we are doomed. ”
“Not doomed, there is but one hope, left. We can transcend their power. We can send it on the path.”
“The world will soon go dark, Tiresias! Gaia will be taken and Erebus will have it’s way. There will be no way to bring our people back!”
There is a troubled silence, and then a rushed argument from many voices.
“When the light returns, others will rise. In this time, we will have a window to find the keys the traitors took from us. We can raise the heroes once more. They will open the ark, for us.”
“And how will they know what they are to do? How will the four even arise? Who will we trust to lead them? How can we trust after this day?
“Good Talos. You must already know, who.” Silence. “One must stay within the path to light the way. One who is immune to time’s passage. One who is immune to power, to loneliness. ”
Slowly, the voice answers…“I understand, my lord…. But who will..?”
“…And one must stay behind, remaining in the darkness until the light returns. One who also can survive time’s passage in more than man’s years.”
“But My Lord! you will surely be hunted. They will find you!”
There is a pause, and a gruff voice speaks, “The dwarves can be trusted with this task. My guard and I can remain! We can outlast in the darkness…”
“No, master dwarf. Worthy though you are! It is I who will not be going with you. The others and I have decided to stay. It is as it should be. Our kind is adverse to letting fate decide. Time is not to us, what it is to man.”
“But how? How will you survive the darkening? What of…?”
“The tree, Pelonius. The tree is not yet gone entirely. It will protect us. The path will need guardians to stay behind now after this folly. When the darkness fades away to light, I will search for what we need to open the path once more. I will stay, as will Abraxas, and the others. we are the only ones suited for the task.”
“But will Abraxas keep his word? What of Gulgol?”
“Trust a dragon?” a mighty laugh erupts, but it fades in equal measure. “Their only hope lies in the path now. It is their salvation, as it is yours. They all know this.”
“But my lord, the lanthorns are lost. The keys have been taken! How will you find them?”
“I will bring those with me that are young. With the last light of the tree, we will be as a light in the darkness. They will learn our ways. Heroes will rise once more, for they all are, they just will not know it. We will find what has been lost.
“That will take decades, perhaps centuries! Even once the light returns… what if the darkness comes again before you do?”
“And what choice do we have, Pelonius? The lanthorns are but a vessel. The keys are but a tool. Those we bind will know what to do, because they will be who is needed. It is why the path was made.”
Several seconds pass. The voice of the one called Talos speaks, “Then, this is goodbye, my lord. Goodbye for now. I fear that I will never see you again.”
“No, good Talos. When next we meet, you will still be as you are. As will our people. I will be that which time will make me. I am a weapon Talos, you are a tool. And a weapon as a tool shall do it’s work.”
“Yes, my lord. I will guide our heroes when they have come.”
“Then may the light guide you, and may the time pass swiftly until the light returns for the sake of us all.“