The End of Eternity: LoF Session LIX
Now, before I continue with the story… you must understand the Winds of Fate. So please, warm yourself by this fire. Measure the glowing stars of the heavenly sky. Breathe deep the crisp and warming air hanging in front of you. Feel the eyes of the gods peering down to watch the world unfurl of their own devices and become undone at the Fates decree. Hold tight your cloak for tonight too is cool.
Many believe the wind is whimsical and light. However, the winds can be dangerous and volatile like a roaring sea or as ominous as a sandstrom amid the dunes. None all more fickle as or as hazardous than the Winds of Fate may be. Many a Varisian gypsy spend time trying to pluck the meaning and flow of the Will of the Fates. Even in Ketapesh, many fortune-tellers and Harrowers look to the readings of crystal balls and cards to divine Its true nature. The gods sit idle as some of their best works go rewarded or denied by unseen hand. Though invisible, the Winds of Fate when cast cause ripples forward in time that can be felt for ages to come.
I have conversed at length with one such Harrower before our journey’s beginning, as one is prone to do in such pilgrimages as this. And to my horror and fascination, she told me of the cards sworn and foreseen of this story. For all my livestock and wealth, her words clung to my ears like children to their mothers. Sit. Pray I shall recount for you, Sarenrae as my witness, the Winds of Fate did move and impact the world from Fire and Flame, and Nothing to Eternity.
The felucca drew breath into the crescent harbor and crawled to a halt next to the stone-like dock. The abyssmal blackness resting just beyond the psuedo-brickwork and into the harbor’s background bled malevolent nothingness. The readied false-made soldiers and their awkward dogs stood both snarling and snapping and growling. The semi-solid banks of material emanated from the protean soldiers bared thick.
It began. Faharid without hesitation jumped down from the tall ship, rolled upon the hard-like stone and sped forward lunging at one of the dogs. As if immediately orchestrated; Ce-tan cloaked himself in the bending lights with his companion Zahir disappearing from view, and the warrior Khatovar leaped through the air and downward with flourish pummeling a dog-like thing. The changelings had their own strategies as well. An Immentesh materialized from appeared from nothingness atop the boats deck and gazed intently into Zhakmed’s soul trying to warp his mind with a universe of hypnotic chaos hidden behind its eyes. The central Lighthouse pulsated with an awkward and eerie glow and shot forth a radiant multi-colored beam, burst upon Khatovar and Faharid causing their minds and limbs to warped with time and muscles stiffened. The mists swirled and churned. The rolling chaos melded throughout the air and charging through the harrowing scene, a clone emerged from the mist. Another Khatovar charged through without warning and attacked… his original self. The mists heavier and thicker as moments pass, the soldiers scurried through without hindrance, slicing and striking without mercy. And through this, the mighty warrior Khatovar was addled by the assassins milling in and out of reach.
The Winds of Fate had machinations readied for the heroes of Kelmarane. As I am told, by some soothsayers, the winds changed as the Forge burned heavenly granting the proud fighter speed and wrath and might against this hated foe and their ever-changing inherence. The Fates’ Forge’s fire is so strong it burns many to cinders instead they say. Khatovar’s new hot wrath spurned glorious harm to his mist-laden copy and their ilk.
The whirling blades of Faharid slash startling again and again the ever evolving creatures, however as one of the dogs were beaten, it reared in shock and grew anew. A bestial thing erupted jagged auroch like horns, it’s skull reshaped into that of a bull-headed siege battering ram with teeth of razor and face of shale rock. The beast propped itself up by massive forelimbs as large as giants arms and its body was elongated to produce two thick and hearty tails like that of a behir with snake-like pincers jutting menacingly from its back. The naunets jaws snapped wildly and though their altered bodied had died once before, the transformation healed wounds as their sinews and muscles mended and regrew to fit their new form. The battles raged all over the harbor, boat, and brickwork.
The sorcerous savant Ce-tan hovered in the air above the boat, breeze billowing his smooth silks and steely eyes. Though unseen to the eyes, it had not fooled the monstrous Immentesh. With a flick of his wrist, a papyrus thin box appeared, slightly colored which gleaned half-light denoting the surface. The Immentesh spun and spat and hissed cursing the Ifreeti-blooded man and ripped and raked its claws on the boxes surface in panic.
As the struggle continued to capture the Choral members, the lighthouses shined brilliant and the clones continued to march forward from the mists. Khatovar continued his onslaught, break bone and liquid sand within the beasts. But for every hit, his speed and limbs grew tired. Zhakmed atop the boat kicked and thrashed with his scimitar and with Seranrae’s bless did protect himself of much of the pain with his shield. He grappled and tossed aside on copy of himself after another, besting many, but watching as in their dying breaths transformed into its truer form and began attacking in earnest.
It could be said that the Fates placed a stowaway on board the whispen feluca. A diminutive thing whose music could always be heard at night in the pesh fields when danger was at arms length. The cricket sung a song that cut through the heavy mists and through the yelling and screams and roars of violence. A violin sound that plucked the chords of celerity as the orchestra plays in moments of tension and intensity. So too did the cricket play its song, and Ce-tan and his people did hear it as an anchor in this unruly sea of chaos, and the Immentesh and Naunets did hear it as a dissonant ugly and jarring thing amid their beautiful home. Its song welled within the Heroes and moved their bodies to greater heights becoming better, faster, and more reactive to their environs. The young cricket knew, before long it would not be a battle of attrition and spurred it’s family forward with speed and quick passage for the reward that awaits at the end of the journey.
The air shuddered and the colloid clapped against the hull. The Winds of Fate moved and rippled an Inquisitor’s fervor as Khatovar bled an immutable desire to crush nothing save the truth and true reality. Unfooled. Unswayed. His mind singular, his eyes brushed red. To attempt to go against him as this unchangeable force was to court disaster. The crushing force and electric arc’s impetus smited the crowd around the tall man, which did mangle and macerate three by a hand full. The lively stepped Faharid, looked toward the Immentesh unhappily and gravely, “What loyalty do you hold? At this rate your people will all die.” Enraged, the Immentesh reeling from the exchanges upon the boat with Zhakmed howled and cawed. Faharid spun and whirled drawing the sword amid the lives of his aggressors, and all watched in sickly horror as the remaining Naunets raved as lunatics and broke their bones into their truer form, and with it, regained their much needed vitality. The remaining two Immentesh pulsated from their watchtowers. Their visages of giant balls of green light floated from the trice splayed lighthouses. Ce-tan wasting no time, vaulted a ray of pure liquid fire from his hands and into the ball of light and in doing so, the green ball of light did reshape and come to its truer form of an Immentesh.
The Immentesh swarmed the boat as the copies of the Heroes swarmed their counterparts. Khatovar fought and broke through the ranks and leaped from the brickwork to the deck trying to get closer to the prison the Shaitan had constructed. The Immentesh screamed an unholy and dissonant scream, “CHANGE!” The skin began creeping the color of iron, the weight just the same. Faharid’s felt slow as his fingers felt bent and linked as the chains of a barge. The Immentesh wished for his body to transform to be the inanimate chains of a prisoner, the Winds had other plans for him. His body loosened and regained flesh, whole and limber. Faharid stepped forward to his reality breaking assailant. Ten, twenty, fifty cuts inflicted on the protean beast and the swordsman stood his ground unrelenting. And in his flurry the sound of triumphant trumpets echoed an advancing warcry, the sing song chorus hummed through the air as his blade passed through the resistant mists and the Winds of Fate chanted trumpets alerting Zhakmed and Faharid and switching them in synchronized step as their enemies descended. In doing so, the false Zhakmed was able to remove himself from the death’s grasp and in a final attempt, placed his hands designed in a spiteful manner and called upon the chaos from which it was born, and did graft burning magics of searing light upon its predecessor.
Persons away, Khatovar still drunk of the Fate’s might and Fury’s raw and unyielding power, focused all his rage and ferocity upon an Immentesh. The seven strikes sundered its soul in time to a quick rhythm. Though fast in method, the strikes held the weight of an adamantine great hammer falling from the stars of the night sky and electric with cometary heat. The Immentesh bent weirdly and broke deadly and sputtered its multicolored ichor in flailing cry. Its life was no more. The sisters of the Immentesh howled and lamented the death of their kin in revolting tongue wail. In his moment of victory Khatovar stood exhausted from the use of the Fate’s favor and use of all his stamina and breathed in his last tired breath; and in that moment, the reality warped around space and skin and lungs and breath, and the man Khatovar did turn into a branched wooden sycamore rod the size of a riding reed.
Incensed by their impunity and the happening of his now wooden and transformed companion, Ce-tan bellowed a sweet and voracious two-toned call, grinding at their ears and whispering subservience, “Greetings Immentesh, this would be much easier and go much faster if you just deliver us to your leaders.” The Immentesh howled and bucked and whipped its nasty tail shaking the sorcerer’s honey-tongued words. In rebuttal, the clawing and stomping of the protean-lizard chirped and curdled the skin of Faharid and his skin crawled as a wave warped subtly on his flesh but did not more than cause minor annoyance. Faharid bid upon the genie-blooded to fly into the heavens and for once the sorcerous savant acquiesced.
The swordsman danced through the air like a mayfly in the spring mist. He dashed forward above the ether-colloid water of unused material and struck his two, then, twenty then fifty and five cuts upon the last remaining Immentesh. It’s multi-color blood blackened, muted and matted upon the flexible ether-colloid. And so the last of the Immentesh in the harbor of the Isle of Naught disappeared and with them removed the lighthouses crumbled and dissolved to the abyssal dark and fog crept closer. The mists that were felt thicker and viscous like strong molasses and sight was left wanting. The curtain of black beyond the harbor stood as the Covenant was opened carefully as the Heroes closed their eyes to the warnings of Shaitan.
In the diminishing light, Faharid wished upon the Ifreeti-blooded Wishcrafter for his once Suli companion to regain his original hale stature. With a sweet word and twist of his finger, the red-skinned Ce-tan broke apart the enchantment like an artist knowing the marbled vein for the next strike and instantly the sycamore stick became the warrior man once again. Khatovar shook the sweat and salt off himself and familiarize himself with his body once again.
As the darkness encompassed the Isle, they urged the boatman with the green eyes to continue. The boatman’s eyes burst into a flaring green again and to an amazement of all, it stood from its position at the helm of the felucca, ran, and dove into the darkness with the rest to follow.