There is a moment of stillness. Then abruptly the masks of Blue, Yellow, White and Red begin to laugh. Master Tumm makes no move, and the Black necromancer, Song, is still as always. Master Graham places his palms flat on the marble table and says nothing.
” Would you like us to come check in your closet for the Gray Beast, or hold your hand when night falls?
Such a ridiculous…” the Bloodburner begins.
“Silence.” the Grand Wizard says quietly. For a dragon.
The masked faces of the Council all turn to regard their leader. The dragon keeps his blind eyes on the crew of the Lodestar.
“The Council is adjourned – leave me with these adventurers.”
The Red Master Vayton sputters slightly, then nods his head briskly. The rest of the council genuflect slightly as well, and stiffly make their exit from the chamber. Footfalls on marble, then the shutting of seven doors.
The gray-cloaked figure at the side of the room steps forward slightly, and makes an inquiring gesture, right palm open and up.
” You as well, Sideways.” says the steel dragon.
The cowl shrugs, as the figure turns — barbed tail swishing under the hem of his cloak. He walks through the nearest wall without slowing, as if the marble was made of air.
The Grand Wizard’s neck drooped slightly, and his bobbed slightly towards the floor. The crew can see the weariness in this old creature’s posture. He speaks, quietly.
“Come closer. ” the dragon breathed.
A few cautious steps, just at the edge of the steel dragon’s dais.
“Do you know the story of the founding of Valeria?”
Before Carbunkle has time to shoot his hand up, the dragon continues.
” Valeria was my beloved mate, oh so many years ago. We stood together against a mighty evil, but in the last battle she fell — like a comet from the heavens. It was my fault.” the Grand Wizard sighed, an ironworks fume.
” She died because of a lie. Because of me keeping knowledge to myself, and believing that I knew best how to shield her from the harsh truths of the world. Her passing carved a deep gouge into the earth, that filled with a fresh sea
- a sea of blue. Where her bones came to rest, I came and wept. A tear for each lie, and I grieved for my arrogance, and the loss of the fair Valeria.”
The dragon blinked, slowly.
“There I swore to share my knowledge with all who sought it. Over time the wise of each race sought me out, and I instructed them in the Art. They were the first wizards, and this marvelous city grew out of the bones of my beloved.” the Grand Wizard stretched his mighty arms, as if to encompass the entire city.
“This is a small secret. The Council knows, and some learned men throughout the world have pieced together this truth from relics, old songs, and the fragments of a lost age. I give it to you freely, so that you may understand what you ask, and how I must respond.” the dragon laid its head down on the dais for a moment, and closed its eyes as if thinking. A few heartbeats pass, until its blind eyes open.
“I have offered you a boon, and I will not renege. Not here, so near the grave of my beloved. The knowledge you ask is dangerous, and costly. I will not tell you all, as I would not teach a child spells of flame and death. My boon shall be the beginning of the path, you must find your own way after that.
The Umbral Plane is a dark mirror to our own reality, it overlaps and permeates the Material Plane
—separated by a thin band of energy, some call the Spirit World, or Astral Plane. One must pass through the Spirit World to enter into the Shadow Plane, and vice versa. These “shadows” that you have encountered are emanations, using shapes they find in the Spirit World to temporarily visit our dimension.”
The Grand Wizard shifted slightly, steel scales ringing on the marble floor. He stretched his ancient wings, and stood on his hind legs, stretching.
“All this is within the realm of mortal knowledge – not all believe it to be true, but still the wise have assembled the scattered puzzle pieces. What I tell you now is not known, to any but the oldest of dragons and gods.
When my beloved fell from the heavens, there was no Plane of Shadow. Not then, and not for a great time after. “
The Grand Wizard flapped his wings, and began to rise from the floor. The old blind dragon sings, as it ascends.
the Shadow is mirror
the Mirror is power
Songs of the Lost
shine on Dark Hour
the Key and the Shield
throw wide the One Gate
the Price of the Beast
if Hero come too Late
The Grand Wizard is gone. The crew of the Lodestar are left alone in an empty room, with nothing but marble and questions.