A Crimson Shore: Love. And Sacrifice.

              Before you lies a colossal chamber constructed of white polished stone. Circular. Domed.  Within, several tall, slender individuals are preparing something. They wear aprons and gloves and other paraphernalia. A man with black hair is led to some form of gigantic contraption, centered in the room, made of metal and wood. It lies before all like a giant mountain within the cavernous space. Glass is everywhere, more glass than in any laboratory. Surrounding him are many people, unlike those working, their dress and their fashion is unknown to you. Before them is the huge grand structure, in several parts.  Twin white towers, with stairs and other metallic structures built around it are the base of it. Something drapes around it like vines. It is, in a word, alien to you.  Each is cylindrical, but so large that they could easily hold a large granary. The milky white liquid within shimmers.
           The man with dark hair is screaming.  Words fly from his lips like projectiles at those around him, those taking him towards the structure in the center.  It takes many of the workers to hold him steady before  those who seem to be in the authority standing before this gigantic mechanism.
           You do not understand what he is saying but it is clear he doesn’t want to be here. There is a chant of some kind. Voices rising in unison. The collective of people seem benign. As though this were something important and necessary. The man is not part of these.
           He looks around, to no avail.  Then beside him, a woman appears within your view, she too is led forth against her will. She is crying, her arms raking the floor, legs refusing to move so they scrape the ground, toes first.  Carried by powerful men in glinting armor, they support her but do so tenderly.  She is absolutely beautiful.  Her long dark hair cascades all around her, even as her face looks from one place to another frantically.  She has no choice you think to be here, but this is no criminal. And by the looks on the watcher’s faces, full of empathy, full of compassion in an almost ironic way.  This is ceremony.
          They are both stripped nude which seems to be the least of the crime being committed against their persons.  Above them, the two gigantic towers loom.  Looking up as they do, you now notice the liquid is churning inside. Magnificent towers, simply made of glass, more glass than you have ever seen in one place.  Each filled with a revolving liquid of some kind, while the contraption hums and those around chant unfamiliar words. You can’t look away.
          Whatever is in these containers is milky white and opaque. The containers continue to swirl within, the fluid is in motion. There are so many people here.  Many are smiling now.  And muttering. Some look towards the pair, in a hint of parental sympathy as though they were watching a child perform a difficult task for the first time. Their words seem to be encouraging. Yet the effect on the man and the woman is that of fear.  The woman kicks out, and flails her body backwards. The man screams to her, trying to reach out for her hand.
           The eyes of the watchers move to a man and a woman atop the platform already.  This pair hold each other lovingly, and speak to all. They then look down at the separated couple before them. Their words are soothing, calm. They seem noble. Important.
            The pair are led to the top of each cylinder, where a circular hatch is opened from the top. With tear streaked faces the man looks over towards and into the eyes of the woman. Her eyes, full of fear, stare back into his.  She whispers something to him, her words failing within this cacophony of sounds, a mixture of machine noises and the voices of a strange language, and he yells something back.  It is desperate. Something that must be said.
           A woman then steps out from the others below the towers. She is dressed in glinting, polished mail.  A symbol of the tree glistens upon her back.  You cannot see her face. She raises her hands and the guards maneuver the pair into the cylinders.
           At first they resist, but persuasion in the form of a polearm moves them ever closer to the edge. The man looks one last time at the woman, and she locks eyes with them, refusing to look elsewhere, she breaths as he breaths.  He smiles and walks forth  dropping into the milky fluid. The woman, crying, falls into her own pool, gasping involuntarily as she disappears into the frothing substance.
             The watchers turn their gaze towards the swirling liquid. Staring, you are filled with a dread.  To what end is this madness? A sound emanates around you and grows louder.  It’s a low rumbling, filling your ears. A surge of energy begins to manifest around the containers, crackling. You can see the bolts of energy sizzle the metal pieces, extend outwards like small bolts zapping parts of the machine with a hiss. The people in your view step back, hands thrown up to their faces.  A wave begins to move in each atop the pool, as if something within was making it, thrashing.  At first, you see an occasional arm, or leg inside the chamber near the glass, the man’s hair, the woman’s torso. It’s terrible! Their bodies swirl inside, certainly they will drown, unable to move against the current, unable to breath.  All eyes are on these colossal tubes.  There is shrieking and the sound of rumbling, feint at first, grows so loud you aren’t sure you can take it anymore, you feel like it’s inside you, growing inside your head.  This isn’t a sound. Some power is erupting within this chamber. Something beyond the physical.
             Suddenly, you hear yelling from the watchers, they point. several move back even more. There is something else within the murky liquid now. The pair that addressed the crowd steps down and away and moves back into those assembled here.
            Then you see it.  In both of the glass cylinders, there is another form. Massive. Something is in there with the man, and with the woman too. Something you missed!!!
            A gigantic claw juts out from the top of the substance and hits the side of the glass in the man’s chamber.  It bangs against the railing they first stood upon and then slides back down!  In the woman’s chamber, a tail, long, scaled, slides along the glass, and is gone just as quickly. A woman in the crowd shrieks. Another sobs desperately.
           And then through the murkiness, two gleaming blue eyes penetrate the void in the woman’s chamber.  As they drift closer to the glass you see more blue, blazingly brilliant in hue.  There are scales around the eyes,  and long wicked teeth between a thick jaw. The eyes search around and outward through the murky fluid, first at the crowd, and then towards the other chamber next to it.  They are those of a  beast, magnificent, massive, it’s eyes brimming with intelligence and power. It is dreadful, and majestic all at once.  Opposite these eyes, from the tower in which the man was thrown into,  appear two metallic eyes.   They too search through the glass. The pairs of monstrous eyes soon find each other, separated by the glass and the air between.
             There in the white stoned chamber, the giant pools of frothing fluid begin to settle.
              The churning slows.
             The contraption whirs eventually to a stop, and the voices of the crowd are hushed.
            All is silent before the twin towers as the woman in gleaming mail takes a knee and bows her head before them. Tears streak down her face, along with so many of the others behind her. The others follow her to the stone floor.
            None look up to see the serpentine bodies emerge. Larger than life itself. Triumphant.  Regal. Monstrous. The exultation of power. They are as scaled butterflies from an enormous cocoon. Before them lie the hundreds of the watchers kneeling. Many weep as they chant ceremoniously, before the emerging great serpents.
           One glimmering blue, the other that of scaled and polished steel.

One thought on “A Crimson Shore: Love. And Sacrifice.

  1. This is a background story for out current campaign. The players will be privy to this if they come across the ancient chamber in which this story takes place for various reasons. Our campaign features a twist on the origin of dragons. Hope you enjoy!

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