They turned their eyes skyward.

The purple lightning had begun to tear across the sky only moments before. Standing in the street it was impossible to gauge the stronger reactions. The clapboard of windows were being tied shut. Doors were being boarded up and lanterns and candles extinguished behind the shuttered windows as many of the residents of Bedlamtown took to their cellars for refuge against the clearly unnatural storm.

As many were hiding as there were standing in the street watching the horizon as clouds the color of saphire and jade roiled upwards and cascaded South past the distant Elven village that lay beside the Ayrus Woods. The lightning was constant and each blast sent a wave of thunder loud enough to drown out the wailing from the Duelist’s Cross.

Twenty newly lit braziers lined the stone wall and by each enormous red fire stood a man or woman garbed in Mystra’s robes or Ioun’s spectacle. Each held a scroll long enough to reach down and lay across the earth in a paper tide, rippling in the fierce wind. A circle of men and women of all kindly species held in a wide circle nearer the center of the square. In the center, a Goliath stood chanting and thrusting his arms sporadically heavenward and breathing in a faintly familiar rhythm.

The gilt-wrought gate that lead to the Mayor’s manor swung open and a tall lean boy, wearing a single spectacle and carrying a pale, alabaster viola walked briskly toward the circle of men. At his side was a small girl, wearing a grey gingham dress covering, her ears against the deafening chanting, the booming thunder and the shrill tears of wind. A blast of lightning and a dwarf clinging to a scroll dropped to his knees and let out a wail, more an animal cry then human words as his eyes rolled into the back up into his head and golden rain drops flew from his open mouth Landing on the ground before him, each drop becoming a pale golden egg and cracking on the earth, hatching a finch that flew into the storm. The dwarf stopped wailing and fell dead to the ground. A large birdlike woman, with grayed feathers turned its head around to watch the dwarf flapping, its wings spasmodically and began to hop and trot toward the body. The boy with the viola pointed a bow at the dwarf, and shouted over the thunder, “Hold the circle Tey! Rise, Guirus Rise! I command it!” The dwarf moved in steady controlled motions, his eyes white as he reached for the fallen scroll and clambered to his feet by a brazier.

“How close, Voran?” The boy called as he crossed into the circle of wizards. The Goliath lowered his massive naked body toward the ground, squatting and resting his palms on the earth at the center of the circle. He smiled at the boy, winked, his smile dropped when his eyes flicked to the girl He breathed in deeply. A pause. The wind blew caustic burning leaves across the square into the circle of chanters. The Goliath open his mouth an exhaled a long steady breath, and from the earth an quartz column rose into the sky. Voran fell to his knees as a portal appeared in the quartz pillar. The young man kissed the girl on the forehead and took her hand, he lead her toward the opening and she stepped, gingerly with one foot, and then surely with the next into the hole, ducking down her head and finally releasing the boy’s hand. The man reached for the viola and bow, and called, “Do it Voran, no time left to parse out the morals.”

The Goliath put his hands gently against the warm quartz and the opening glowed and sealed shut. He breathed and listened to the mournful notes the boy played in chorus with the violent wind. As if it were not quartz but instead some sort of malleable metal, cloth, or molten glass, a female figure, emerged from the pillar her arms outstretched to the heavens.

As if the heavens were aware of the beckoning girl’s presence, the clouds rolled faster and overtook the city casting a dark gray shadow into its walls. And then a terrible light, brighter than any sun shattered the clouds, and cast a purple nauseating glow across the fields. The grass withered yellow and died. The chanters turned and looked up, and for a moment the fires in the great stone braziers flickered out. A rock, a stone, a boulder, perhaps a whole continent eclipsed that great purple hued light and was at once grasped by the forces that pull even the greatest birds to earth.

“Get Up! Get Up! You, Eryol! Rise Eryol, Rise I command!” The boy shouted as an elf’s skin melted leaving only mangled bones burning blue with unknown runes. The skeleton’s jaw creaked up and down and a brazier flickered back to life. One by one each fire rose again and the quartz glowed with a white light as that at the fire’s core. The boulder, hurtled toward the city and brought with it a discordant whistle that nearly drowned out the glistening sounds of the bone pale viola.

From the raised, and open hands of the woman atop the pillar bright light, as if carried up by lines of music burst into the sky creating at once a skeleton of runes, and then a spiders web of flowing shifting letters that glowed bright and disappeared leaving only the looming stone, still enormous, but not longer obfuscating the terrible hole in the sky from which it fell. The stone fell, and suddenly, as if hitting the surface of a pond, high above the city skipped across the web of runes and into the darkness of the storm, grinding into the earth north of the City

All that remained was the soft tune creeping from the viola’s hollow, and the rasping breath of the kneeling Goliath. The mangled and deformed bodies of the wizards, mages, and scholars littered the grounds. The boy played a final, shrill, staccato note and the men and women rose despite their delirious and battered forms, those who stood by braziers placed a hand on each and a rune appeared deeply inset into the stone as if a vein of darkest ruby had grown with the polished rock. Those that held the circle around the pulsing quartz rose kissed their palm and placed it on the obsidian base from which the quartz had grown. A ring of golden ore grew inset into the glossy black cylinder.

The dead filtered out of the duelers cross. The wind howled outside the city but its sound was muffled and far away. The boy, having finished his tune turned and stumbled weakly back toward the open golden gate. Only Voran remained, staring up at the woman and beyond her to the great blasts of lightning and the dark spot where the sky had seemingly stitched itself together once again. He turned and wandered back into the frantic streets, fading into the crowd that was rapt by the torrent of walking dead and the sky boiling beyond the city.

The fraying skin of the world

aschoenf Chaos scar Sariel HymiePie saguaro_nine nerevar darnold24