The Burden

June 19, 2016

There’s a way the wind howls over the rocky plains of the world that sounds like the resigned sighs of a soldier sent to die.

It wasn’t exactly a plain, but it wasn’t exactly hilly. It was desolate and rocky, though, and covered in scrub and withered trees. Memories of towers seemed to over at the edges of the horizon, places where the mountains had been shorn away and foundations laid long before the towers fell. A lone figure walked through this wasteland, a single flicker of life pushing against the unceasing wind. Streaming from his back was a majestic fire, standing in grim judgement over the landscape that refused to know light or life.

“Your home is ugly and empty, Solviir.” The fire’s voice moved and shook, undulating like the flames that carried it. The man grunted and pulled his hood down. “This is the price of pride, Cord. My fathers’ fathers built too high, laughed in the face of death for too long. When the dark armies came, they were too proud to do anything until the waves of death broke against the walls and dragged them down.”

The fire laughed, at least the sound could be understood to be laughing. “When I was first Kindled in the days of the first gods, that was true pride. Hubris burned in the eyes of the first makers and burned the life from within them.” Solviir shook his head as he trudged on. “Quiet, Cord. You remind me too much of the pain of the night without remembering the hope of the dawn. We make this march together to overcome the dark armies and find solace once again. You came to me for this, not I to you.”

The fire spat and fumed. “May your hammer ring true, Solviir.”

The man nodded silently to himself, shifting his grip on the smithing hammer in his hands. The head was heavy and worn, etched with symbols older than Solviir’s line. The hammer was a living memory of generations of smiths, an artifact of skill and patience to shape metal. The first great magisters of the race  of Blood, of the people who felled the gods, were the smiths who learned to master fire and iron. With this mighty hammer, Solviir would forge life again and clear the bones of war.

On the far side of the valley that still held the bones of the kingdom of Pal Voresh was the ancient caves of the Dorel people. Here Solviir found the brass brazier that would hold Cord while the work was done.

They crossed the mountains, against howling winds, and trudged forward toward the city of Marda, the heart of the people of Blood and slayers of the gods.

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