Tuesday, 2 January 2018

15. Ancient Legacy

First, we have to resolve Sakhisli’s Last Breath

Sakhisli was back in the Giant’s tower. The huge stone blocks were no longer marred by damp and moss, the mortar no longer pitted and worn; smokeless torches burned in sconces at intervals on the stairs, casting a yellow light and deep shadows around her. She was climbing the stairs, but she was tall, so tall that the steps no longer seemed huge, and the stairway seemed cramped. Sakhisli had to lower the long spear that she carried to avoid scraping the ceiling, bringing the flaming spearhead down to eye level.

She reached a landing, with a doorway standing before her. Opposite the doorway, through an arrowslit that was now at eye-level for her, she could see the night sky outside: the orange moon Aryth drew the dwarf’s eyes, burning brightly over Xen’drik this night, but there was another moon close to it that she did not recognise, dark and blue, hanging coldly low in the sky to the south.

She turned to the doorway and pushed it open. The room before her was much changed, but still recognisable: the walls were adorned with banners depicting fire giants, engaged in battle with creatures that Sakhisli did not recognise, and the room was well lit with torches—but the arrowslits looking out over the jungle were the same, as was the metal frame in the centre of the room holding the dragonshard, which glowed with its own golden light. There were seven giants in the room: not the wild, stupid giants they had seen at the expedition’s destroyed camp, but noble giants, tall and strong and with intelligence in their eyes, dressed in togas adorned with fire symbols and each wearing a red sash from shoulder to waist, each carrying a weapon like her own. All eyes turned towards her as she entered.

One of the giants spoke. “Welcome, warrior. Join us.

An elf, light-skinned and dressed in sackcloth, stepped out from the shadows near the door and closed the door behind her; the elf avoided her gaze, looking at the ground as she worked, and stepped back to stand quietly beside the door when done. Now that she looked, Sakhisli could see several more elves, similarly dressed, lurking in the shadows.

The giant spoke again, her deep voice echoing off of the thick stone walls of the tower. “Come, warrior, step forwards.”. Sakhisli realised that the giant spoke in her own tongue, and yet the dwarf somehow understood the words. Sakhisli stepped forwards, closer to the crystal.

While you are here, you are safe, daughter of fire. No dream crawler can touch you here.

What is this place?” asked Sakhisli.

A sanctuary for those fighting the Quori,” said another of the giants. Sakhisli turned towards him; he wore an eye patch covering one eye, and the edges of a scar led from under the patch, crossing his brow. “Your dreams are safe here. Sit, daughter of fire.

There were stone benches around the room. Sakhisli went to sit down, but pain shot through her chest suddenly, and she lost her balance, falling backwards over the bench and onto the stone floor beyond; the thud echoed through the tower.

Sakhisli pushed her self up, getting back to her feet uneasily. The giants were all staring at her with concerned looks.

Tell us your name, daughter,” said the first giant; she seemed to be the elder of the group, and her robe was richly embroidered with curling flames that seemed to flicker slightly in the torchlight.


I never heard of a giant with that name.” The elder’s gaze moved briefly to her followers; two of the other giants took out their weapons and began to move to flank Sakhisli.

Sakhisli paused, unsure of what to say, then surprised that she was choosing at all; the sensation was less like a dream now, and everything seemed too sharp, too real for dreaming. “I am a dwarf from the Holds.

How did you come to be here, dwarf?” The elder’s tone was threatening now.

I do not know.” The pain in her chest remained, and Sakhisli drew a hoarse breath.

Did you kill our kind to get here? How did you enter their dreams?

The giants approaching from either side were closing in, with swords drawn; Sakhisli shifted her weapon to grip it in one hand, opening the other and conjuring a ball of fire. She extended her arm...

Wait! Stop! Back, back—give her space.” At the elder’s command, the giants moved back, leaving Sakhisli standing alone. The dwarf relaxed a little, keeping the fire burning around her open hand.

How did you enter this dream?” asked the elder.

Discern Realities(Sakhisli): 2D6(4 6) +0 = 10 Success!
Who is really in control here? The dream originates from the dragonshard that you stole.
What here is useful or valuable to me? Learning anything about the fire faith of the giants and Sulatar may help you escape this situation.
Hold 1.

Sakhisli looked around the room; her gaze fell on the glowing dragonshard in the centre of the room. “I was here yesterday, in this tower. I took that dragonshard—how is it here again?

You took the dragonshard?” asked the one-eyed giant; there was anger in his voice, and stepping forward as he spoke.

How did you learn to control fire?” asked the elder.

I was a blacksmith; I have always worked with fire. But there was a fire mephit—it burned me, and since then I have been able to control fire directly.

One of the other giants spoke. “A fire binder amongst the lesser races? I have never heard of such a thing.

But now we have seen it,” said the elder.

Pain stabbed through Sakhisli again, and she fell to one knee. Her vision blurred momentarily; as it cleared, she realised that she had dropped her spear and was on all fours on the ground. She looked up to see the elder again; she was looking thoughtfully at the scarred giant.

This one is weak—near the end of life, I think. You have been through much to get here,” she added, turning back to Sakhisli.

Every hammer blow makes me stronger,” said Sakhisli in Dwarven—an old saying.

Who do you serve, child?” asked the elder.

I serve no one.

You have the gift of fire, and use it for nothing?

I use it for myself.

You will die soon—die with nothing done, nothing achieved. The gift of fire is wasted on you.

No!” Sakhisli rasped out the reply angrily, as the pain worsened. “I owe no-one—it is my power, I mastered it.

A power you have wasted. Why did you come here?

The wealth of giants was here, ready for us to take.

The elder stepped forward to stand before Sakhisli and took the dwarf’s head in her hands. “If your greed is all that you bring here, dwarf, then you will have died for it. Is that all? Does the fire mean nothing to you but profit? Will you sell all that you have gained—would you sell your power, too, if you could?

Sakhisli shook her head weakly.

The fire can save you, dwarf. There is no greater power than fire; it destroys and reshapes all that it encounters. We are its servants, and it grants us the power to smite our enemies and shape the world as we see fit. The dream creatures strive to overthrow us, but we will destroy them in the end.

The power was given to us to heal and restore the giants that came to this sanctuary. It has been long since any of our kind came, but it matters not: fire consumes all eventually. If you are a servant of fire, you may leave here, reinvigorated, with the strength of Fernia ready at your call. Otherwise leave here as you arrived; a failed thief, dying alone in the jungle.

Sakhisli had prayed to the forge god, Onatar, all of her life, but it had not occurred to her to pray to him for many weeks. For most of her life, the fire of the forge was something that came from the gods but, now that it came at her own call, she had felt no need to offer a prayer after making the campfire in the evening. Wherever this power comes from, it is mine now; I will not give it up.

As if sensing her thoughts, the elder spoke again. “Few ever gain the power that you have. You were given this for a purpose, Sakhisli. Show the world the true power of fire.

Yes,” Sakhisli gasped, feeling her strength fading. “Everyone must see what fire can do.

The requirements for a partial success on Last Breath are that the character must make a substantial sacrifice or have a life-changing shift of direction. Sakhisli is a convert to the faith of fire, followed by the giants in the Age of Giants and still followed by the Sulatar (and some primitive Giants) today.

Of course, that also makes Kyorlin her enemy now. She is turning her back on the reasonable, civilised faith of the Sovereign Host and embracing a fire cult. And this is a literal baptism of fire.

Very good. Go forth, daughter of fire, and spread the word. The days of fire are returning.” The elder pressed her hands together on either side of Sakhisli’s head, and suddenly all her sense of place was consumed in burning pain as fire washed over her.

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