Broken Swords: The Last in Line

Chapter One - Intro

Let us go on a journey. Together.

This journey gathers the past into its wake. This is where we shall spend most of our time and memory.

As with any journey it also bears mention of the future. For the journey shall eventually lead us there, at the end of all things.

We begin on a day much as the day you see outside your open door or the window at your side. Is it raining? Does the spring morning air tickle the hair of your neck? Do the nighttime stars twinkle and glimmer in the dark sky and cast hazy shadows into the sand that blows across the sill? Does it smell of soot and grime or salt and spray?

It certainly must be one of these. Or, of course, thousands of others.

At that very moment, three gathered. 

The first stepped from the sun, brightest of light reflecting with blinding intensity miraculously wrapping itself around edges and corners to illuminate all. The figure, encased in perfectly crafted armor of light and fire, stretched forth a hand. Fingers uncurled and within, beginning to coalesce, pulling matter and form and essence, a small globe of air. It spun lazily, suspended above the outstretched palm.

The second climbed from the night, shadow and secret to temper the light. Wisps of smoke and shade hovered and flitted. It offered the quick glance of a shape, a line, or form. But then, almost there before realized, something stretched out from within the whirling darkness. The smells of wood and earth wrapped themselves, entwining, with the globe of air still hovering above the palm of the first.

The third came from within the globe itself. It started as a vibration in the edges of the whirling orb, but quickly coalesced into rivers and streams of energy and luminescence. The viscous tendrils, fluid and formless, moved and wrapped and spun around the shadow and the light. It smelled of storm and sea and small rivulets ran to encircle the little globe of form and substance, swirling to embrace it.

Now where are we? What is it we see? 

Ah, this, of course, is the beginning. All stories begin with the beginning, eh?

But again, this is a journey. Together. Let us continue.

Something whispered. It might have been time. It might have been form. It is sometimes hard to tell in these stories. But tell it, we shall. 

Whatever it may have been, it passed. The three gazed upon their creation, felt the creation itself begin to feel, to flow, to form.

The three each brought two. Companions to ease solitude with friendship and to share memories. Consorts to explore wonder. Compatriots to revel in triumphs. Mirth, Beauty and Battle. Life. Bravery. Justice and Law. The Hunt. Craft and Cure. Chance, of course, came of its own.

The three thrones smiled and knew all was good. The seven pillars stood tall.

Well, all accept Luck who wandered.

But...

Yes, there is always a “but”. It is the essence of the journey of story, of tales, is it not? For without the “but” what would the relevance be? For what reason would the story be told? How would it serve memory and thought?

But at almost the very same time, no, not almost, at the very same time the three gazed upon each other. Each saw in the other their perfection. Their purity.

But...

Ah, once more. Yes, do not weep nor dismay. For all that came before would be firm, all that came after? Without the ‘but’ potential would be moot.

But within each, was the merest, tiniest, most infinitely small and resolute imperfection.

The three saw this.

This could not be. This crack of creation and perfection. It must not be.

Yet there it was. Dark and foreboding, the rancid flesh of the long dead and the murderous intent of eternal gestating hatred. The deep, deep, well of the unspeakably unknown. 

These three upon the thrones and the banes of their being.

But...

What to do? It had been born into existence, along with the three themselves. This could not be undone. As words spoken can never be reclaimed.

In an instant, though, what is an instant to divines such as these, seconds, years, centuries, beyond? In an instant the three saw their need and reaching into one another, three into one into three, drew out the blemish, scrubbed free the stain, shed light on the unknown.

But...

Where, now, should these dark forms be contained? For held they must be. To allow them to roam free within time and form would mar the perfection of their creation.

Again, within the same breath the three came to realize their need. They would bind these dark urges, as it were, into vessels, containers. Vessels of their making. Knowing the power of hatred, plague and fear, these vessels, sadly, could never be eternal. But they would, of course, live free. Some would embrace the wind and the rain, the sun and ice, others would relish in pain, terror and disease, but still, the free live free.

And, of course, there was always Chance.

Because of the seductive and degenerative power contained, the time of these vessels would be short, far too short for the satisfaction of the thrones whose hearts broke and wept at the battle they knew their vessels must face.

Therefore, it was decided, each of them would offer a gift, something to hold and stand against the forces that would seek to undo them. Braced by the pillars, this gift would prolong their existence, allow them to fulfill their purpose, to seek their destiny, even if just for the merest instance longer.

The light gave them honor and courage. The night gave them knowledge and guile. The other gave them spirit and incantation.

But...

This was not all that must be done. Removed from their essence the three were now perfect, no longer marred by the stain. How could they remain so? To be in the presence of their creation they would most certainly become corrupted once again.

As one, the three decided.

The creation would be safely contained.

Is this story satisfying? Do you find it worthy? Ah, you feel something has been left unsaid?

Yes, well, once contained, the pillars of the stars and the thrones on high would forever be separated. Their tragedy. They would gaze upon their creation with awe, wonder, and elation but they could never again be in its presence.

A great wall, set between the great halls and the fragile realm.

But they would never wish to leave their creation completely alone, without guidance, without hope.

Instead, the Patrons, saints to the divines, would walk the earth, guarding the secrets and the knowledge of the creation, sharing. No better, no worse than their fellows. Carrying the burden of their aspect and the weight of immortality.

Some say the first of these was the Heart of Belief. Others the Patron of Ingenuity. Perhaps the Hand of Friendship, the Flame of Hope or the Speaker of Oaths.

No, it was none of these. Or in many ways, it was all of these. The first was the Saint for those who knew the highs and the lows of this walk of life and death better than all others.

Me?

No, of course not. I am second to the first. For though I may tell the tale, the first has lived the journey.

Now the story ends.

Of course I jest.

I am the Saint of Stories. These words, and those before and those after, are etched upon the foundation of time. What does the future hold? Why do we forget what is behind us? What becomes of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow?

Only time will tell. Only time.

*****

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