Collection: Weird, Age of Youth
Chronicled by: Valhel
Beneath the cold light of ancient stars and the silhouetted decay of tangled trees furled wisps of smoke that gave way to five silver eyes. She had opened a way, where once she thought she could never return she had done so. There had been promises that needed to be upheld, and tolls that needed to be paid.
Pandora strode out of the woods onto the starlit road that would lead her to town. The path was muddy and revealed the steps of its past travelers. Wolf tracks. The tread of wagon and horse. Some prints that would seem bizarre to our eyes, but not to hers.
Up ahead loomed a thin shadow that held aloft a fiery lantern. The shape shifted from its motionless, gargoyle-like vigil and stepped on to the road. The lantern was suspended from a hooked staff in the guard's hand. Upon his head was a peculiar hat that had its brim folded up upon either side. Over his eyes and nose was set an ornate mask. And a grim garb and cloak completed his shadowy attire.
"Desmond." nodded Pandora as she walked past the watchman.
"Pandora, you've returned.", Desmond bowed.
"I made a promise, didn't I?"
The two arrived at the nearest town not long after and secretively entered the hall of a ruined sanctuary. Desmond rested the lamp of his staff in a shattered window, a sign to others to gather at the forsaken site. They were the watchers, guardians and keepers of secrets that Pandora had rallied to her cause on her last visit.
Pandora had traveled to a time after the age of the Mountain and before the time of the Halleaux. Technology advanced as more of it was discovered and imitated through cogs and wheels, taking on a vague similarity to the machinery of her own time in the Halleaux. But instead of towers and fortresses, there stood thatched homes and wood framed market places set over cobblestone streets.
Once all had arrived, a mere handful of hooded and cloaked individuals, Desmond began the meeting.
"Watchers, thank you all for gathering at such strange hours, and for being watchful through the night for our sign.' he said as he rose from the remains of a pew. 'Pandora has returned. She forewarned us all of the spreading darkness and has come to make good on her promise to drive it back."
Pandora looked up at the group, the silver lights of her helm flickering in the darkness of the chapel.
"If I am to strike back I need to know where the shadows have been moving of late. What you have seen in your nightly vigils, heard whispered in the secrets of the people, anything at all that you can share, I need it.", Pandora pried.
The hall fell silent after that. It wasn't that there was nothing to report, the witnesses had much to tell, but they had more to ask first.
"How do we know you'll not vanish all over again, hmm?' said a man, angrily rising to his feet, 'You rolled into town last time with portents and dark tidings. And just as they were all coming about you just disappeared!"
"Auric,' interjected Desmond, 'please!"
"No, Desmond.' continued Auric, slamming his fist down on a table before turning back to Pandora, 'You want to know what I've seen, what I've heard? Eh?"
Pandora stood and Auric began to slowly step around the table, "I've seen shadows with eyes. Heard voices where there were no mouths to speak. Lightning arcs down to the woods and the night and day play tricks on the mind."
Auric pushed Desmond aside to stare Pandora down face to face but she was unmoved, unwavering, which upset Auric all the more.
"Do you fancy yourself some sort of prophet? A teller or fortunes? Because all I see here, after the dark eyes and weird visions, is a coward who ran away after her warning!"
Pandora gave no ground, no response. Auric couldn't make heads or tails of Pandora beneath her mask, those five silver lights seemingly looking into his soul, drawing out his fears. Condemned by an unheard judgement, Auric sat down beside Desmond.
Pandora turned her attention back to the rest. Moonlight passed through the fractured ceiling of the chapel, the aura glowing around her, glinting off of her green helm and dark coat. She had not won the trust of this band of watchers, but she could tell by their restrained breathing that she had won their hope.
"I am no prophet. I tell no fortunes.' she said, 'But I do know what comes next."
A strange crackle began to buzz softly in the air and a light shone upon Pandora's gauntlet.
"I warned you of the coming Plague, to walk in the light of day and scorn the night. And now I have returned to walk where you cannot. To drive out the darkness."
The watchers began to nod as their spirits were stirred within them.
"You have done well and kept watch over your people all these long nights, but dawn will soon break, and with it your enemy.' Pandora then turned to Auric, 'But I still ask one last request of you."
Auric, now alone in his suspicions, looked back up, "And that is?"
Pandora stepped back, the moonlight drained away and the five stars set in her faceless gaze glimmered brightly, "Show me where the lightning strikes."
To Be Continued...
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