A Crimson Shore 23.2: The Way of the Long Death

Zy’an knelt over the area that once contained his only possessions.  He ran his fingers over the edges where his mat had rested. The stone was a little smoother here.  How many of the monks had slept here before him?  Many perhaps. None, he thought would now.

The darkness comesThis was the purpose for which you were here, he told himself. Your study is your purpose. Your knowledge is your reason.

He looked past Frank who was watching him. He figured that after the denizens of this place they had fought, Frank wasn’t taking any chances until they were aboard the ship. The armor-clad cleric was still alert.  Zy’an imagined what Frank must have been thinking seeing this place.  But Zy’an did not see the deserted chambers.  In his mind’s eye, he remembered walking down the aisle of the domicile, to his sleeping chamber at the end. Here the wind from the mountain tops was loudest. Here is where he meditated, and sought answers to the most difficult of his mind’s questions.

He had missed the sound. He could almost hear the sounds of the other monks meditating.  Searching for the answers. The keys turning in their minds. He remembered.

He could now remember it all.

_________________________________________________________________

As  a boy Zy’an had only been here to sleep. His training was full and the hours he spent in the training halls were many.

The monks from all forms and many lands went about their days harnessing energy from their mind, detailing their discoveries.  Sharing them always with Koh’an the Elder and the inner circle.  His mind circled around the events, the chronology. His mentor finding him on the streets of Far Realm. His study and apprenticeship.  The creatures brought here and raised, changed, bred, studied. Their torture. What he once called experimentation. He saw that now.

And then, he remembered his evolution into the higher order. The tutelage from Koh’an, the others. The discussion of the event he knew was sure to come, long before Enceladus. Long before Iricah’s mechanism. Long before the King.

The Darkening.  The End of Days. The rise of Ket itself.

The inner sanctum.  That is where the answers will lie, Zy’an thought.  That is where we must go.

He gripped the edge of the window frame and stared out of the glass less opening, out and into the clouds below him.  An entire sea must lay there, beneath them. He once wondered so many things here, with his hands just so.  Suddenly, a memory flooded his mind. The firebolg, his mentor.  The last day.  His escape.

“Forget not this moment, Zy’an,” he heard him say. It was as if he were here with him in this very room. Something about that moment, had always alluded him. Like a splinter. It was still there, after all these many years.

He cursed himself for the emotion. Cursed the memory. Like as with air to breath, one only needs a handful of memories.  One must only need the thoughts of the present. The thoughts of the past. The future matters not to the student of true knowledge.

“Zy’an,” whispered Frank. “Iricah’s found something.”

The monk released his hands from the windowsill.  The plaster under his white knuckled fists had cracked and buckled.

“I will be there,” he replied. “Presently.”

____________________________________________________

Iricah emerged minutes later with a journal, and several rolls of parchment. She looked to each of them. Her face was grave with concern.

“What issss it?” Asked Thrak.  “No treasure?”

“There is much treasure Master Thrak,” she said. “It is just not what I was expecting.”

Just then, Zy’an entered the room.  Iricah looked up into his dark eyes. “What do you know, Zy’an?”

“I know I was never brought here by accident,” he said simply.  “I know there was a purpose.”

“There was.  There was a purpose indeed,” said the archeaologist. She laid the scrolls upon the stones in a space she could open them.  The others gathered around.

“This is a plan for a device to harness blood from a single child.”

“Why would anyone need the blood of just one child at a time?” Asked Thrak.  “I mean if some devil wanted blood from a child, he’sss not going to take it from just one!”

“You misunderstood me,” said Iricah. Her eyes were glued to Zy’an. “This is a device to take the blood from a single child.  A child named…”

“Zy’an,” said the monk.

“What do you remember, Zy’an? About your experiments here?”

“I remember that Koh’an, the elder, was obsessed with the letting of blood.  The younger acolytes were often a part of  the ritual. I was often a part of that ritual.” He stared at Iricah.  He knew now what she would say. He had maybe always known. The key finally turned in his mind, and a door of knowledge flooded him while she explained.

“Zy’an. You ARE the experiment.  You ARE the reason for this place. The Way of the Long Death seems to have been rather obsessed with you before you left, and for sometime afterwards.” She opened the second scroll and continued, “They were searching for a way to escape the connecting of the host.  You were their key.  Zy’an you were their key because you were once, Sasser, yourself. They knew that within your blood lies the protection from that hosting.”

“You Zy’an are the key to the Sasser’s destruction.”

The wind howled through the open windows of the domicile. No one spoke. They stared at Zy’an.

“She’s right,” he said. “She must be right.”

Iricah, whose eyes finally left the monk, opened the journal upon the floor, over the scrolls. “The monks knew then, everything we know now.  Their attention to detail is staggering. Their prediction of the darkening and it’s arrival is impressive.  Look here!  They have been recording the path of the moons for years.”

She pointed to a page of intricate notation and a set of figures which showed the moons path across the sky moving further and further towards the horizon.

Frank stood over the journal. He had a limited knowledge of scientific inquiry, but he knew all too well what they were talking about.  Tiresias had warned him long before Enceladus as well.

“The Darkness is coming, but the monks were most concerned about the Sassers. Why would they care about that under such threat as we face?”

“That is a question which we must answer,” said Zy’an.  “I have only more place to look for it. Will you join me?” He looked among them all.  Iricah’s face was full of dread. She still poured over the notes. Frank nodded and gripped his shield tighter.

Thrak snorted. “As long as we get something to eat.  This monastery lacks so far lacks any form of cafeteria whatsoever.”

 

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