23rd day of Julius, 1669 AV
The five men stare at the obsidian statue of Miro, disturbed by the look of agony frozen on the Vodaccian’s face. An unmeasurable amount of time passes in silence before a voice, seemingly female, echoes in their heads, unfamiliar to all but Keman.
I thank you for your help in defeating the Magog. Another victory in war too long unfinished. But there is much more that must be done to prevent another apocalypse.
Each of the survivors sink to the richly carpeted floor, unable to maintain consciousness. Visions of events long past swirl nebulously at the edge of awareness, ghostly yet somehow simultaneously vivid.
Tall, bronze-skinned people dressed in colorful robes trade actively in a marketplace. Exotic and mundane goods are exchanged, many highly intricate and unfamiliar. Smaller humanoids follow in their wake, carrying goods or providing services and labor.
A field of stars dances in the blackness of a void, the pinpoints of light too numerous to even contemplate. A sector of the twinkling dots vanishes as a long black shape drifts into view, its features and edges identifiable only by the absence of light.
A herd of strange multi-horned antelope graze on a verdant plain, basking in the sunlight. One of the animals raises its head in alarm, looking up to the sky. Dozens of columns of smoke and fire streak across the blue background, like fingers descending from the clouds. The herd turns in a panicked stampede as a massive black spire slams into the grassland miles away, the shockwave obliterating the animals moments later.
A great marble city burns brightly in the darkness, the wails of the dying mingling with the panicked screams of the living. Thousands of tall, bronze-skinned people flee their homes as dark forms swoop overhead unleashing fire and death. Many of the small humanoid servants try to defend the larger beings, only to be torn apart by claw, fang and blade.
A massive army of bronze-skinned warriors charge forward, silvery spear-points glistening in the morning sun. Great gouts of flame and lightning carve swaths of destruction through the horde of demonic beings arrayed before them, even as shafts of dark energy reply in kind. The front lines collide in a cacophony of chaos, the ground soon red-black with ichor and blood.
A regal woman clad in archaic armor thrusts a glowing spear at a gigantic three-armed demon. The beast easily sidesteps the off-center blow, only to roar in anger and frustration as the weapon’s silvery point connects with the true target, a glowing green crystal clutched in its hand. The hexagonal object shatters into four pieces, the event releasing an explosion of energy that sends the demon flying and sears the woman’s flesh down to the very bone.
Six of the tall, bronze-skinned people stand around a small shrine, heads bowed in prayer. Three of the men hold shards of the shattered hexagonal crystal, while the woman and remaining two men offer simple prayers to the small statue before them – an armored woman bearing a spear. At some unspoken signal, the six figures break into three pairs, each bearing one of the crystal shards in a different direction.
We were wrong to think that separating the fragments of the crystal would be the answer, and its power still calls to the darkness. You must reclaim the fragments and make the device whole again, so that it may somehow be destroyed. It may be an impossible task, for I can offer no further guidance on where to find the fragments or how to destroy them. Yet it must be done, or their next return will be the most terrible. But perhaps I can offer something else that may help.
Suspended in a nebulous space surrounded by tiny fragments of the images, the five men float before the ghostly figure of a tall, oddly proportioned woman dressed in white robes and gold armor. Her gaze falls first on George.
Brave Achilles. I regret that I do not wield the power of my father to bring Theseus or his servant back from the underworld. But part of your selfless request is within my power. Yet in your loyalty to your companions you fail to include your own injury. May your honour and generosity always protect you.
Anyone’s permanent injuries caused by surviving Incapacitation are removed. This does not include the permanent effects from cheating death. Also George’s hearing impairment is fixed.
A wave of light passes over the five men, leaving several of them looking stronger and more upright than before. The woman next looks to Alex.
Clever Persius. Your noble friend has superseded your request, but I know that you seek more knowledge and more skill. I offer what I can to allow you to expand your repertoire of tricks.
Four bone scroll tube appear, each containing a spell formula that allows an arcane caster access to a power (by spending an Edge as normal). Alex’s subconscious can choose the contents of each scroll from the following list: Disguise, Dispel, Growth, Jet, Shapechange II, Shrink, Slumber, Warrior’s Gift.
Light flashes and several bone tubes appear in the space between the men. Her gaze shifts to Hugo.
Tenacious Peleus. A servant to polish your armor and carry your sword, as fitting a warrior of your stature. Look to the sea, for it shall bear her to you before the sun rises two days hence.
A ghostly image of a wide trade galleon drifts into view, the name Mercurio clearly visible on its stern. She turns to Keman.
Cautious Hermes. Your spurning tore at my heart, but you have proven yourself a true friend after all. You raise practical issues as always, but I fear I cannot give all the answers you seek. You must travel to the Library of Alleopolis on the river Steiros to learn more, and already possess the means to reach this destination. But you have forgotten too much of the ancient’s teachings to understand the great works – this I can correct.
Each of the five men learn Ancient Mycenian at d6 (Francisco at d8 due to his classical education)
Swirling mists circle the group, the source of a cacophony of unintelligible speech. As tendrils of the fog touch each of the five men, the sounds coalesce into words and phrases that can be understood. The robed woman turns to Francisco.
Wise Asclepius. You echo Hermes’ thirst for knowledge and I must give you the same answer. This Magog was a remnant of the last Rupture, and the end of the Great Cycle will carry even more threat. The seals we strove to protect and replace will not hold forever, and you must find a way to stand before the coming onslaught. Learn from our last mistakes and seek out the wisdom of the ancients in the Library. Use the crystal shard to find the where the others rest and use the whole to destroy the magic that summons the Gog. Oppose those who would seek to use that magic for their own ends and wittingly or unwittingly bring the apocalypse upon this land.
The swirling mists solidify into what appears to be an aerial view of a long strip of coastline. Several small clusters of islands dot the eastern ocean while three long inlets stretch westward into forested plains. Further west, several long mountain ranges run north-south, separated by a few wide strips of hilly lands. On the western side of the mountains, a great desert stretches as far as the vista covers. Six glowing dots appear inland from the coast, forming a zig-zag line running north and south, roughly parallel with the ocean. Three of the dots lie near the westernmost extents of the long inlets, the middle of which appears to be shaped vaguely like the inlet on which Santa Marina is founded, while the northernmost is reminiscent of the waterway near Frontenac.
Bright sunlight greets the five men as they waken on the ground outside, surrounding the weather-worn statue of Athena in the ruined shrine. A small pile of items sits at the foot of the marble figure, including the dagger, spear, scrolls, demon sword and crystal fragment, as well as the two emeralds that were the eyes of the great serpent before its awakening in the cavern below.