Imperator Tempestatium, Prologue
Posted by Doug on June 10, 2009
And so, as if I did not have nearly enough projects on my plate, I trade a small, short-term project for a large, long-term one…my cup overfloweth, and yet I continue to pour…
In a small clearing, all but hidden between the colossal spruce and birches of the Endless Forests of Kalevala, a score of the most powerful of the Forests’ denizens had gathered at the behest of the dominion’s ruler, Mielikki the Blue-Cloaked. Worshiped by countless mortals, Mielikki was goddess of the forest and the hunt, always attended by two celestial bears who zealously guarded her.
“It has been confirmed by the rune-dice: Quetzalcoatl seeks to unbind himself using a mortal as his vessel,” Mielikki declared to the assembled group, gesturing to the multifaceted wooden dice scattered across an elk skin before her.
“This is not possible,” Leszi said. A satyr, he casually smoked a pipe of fragrant herbs. “Quetzalcoatl may be a primordial, but he’s just not that powerful.”
“The rune-dice do not lie,” Caeladrel, patron spirit of the elven peoples, countered. “This is a warning we should heed—if we do nothing, Quetzalcoatl will no doubt continue his campaign of destruction.”
“Bah,” Leszi said, rolling his eyes as he waved the thought away.
“Do not underestimate the power of mortals, Leszi,” Arethusa cautioned. A nymph, she had only been able to leave her river through magicks provided by Mielikki’s angelic servants. “Or of the primordials.”
“Our Lady imprisoned him once before,” Torghn, paragon of the minotaurs proudly declared. “If the wardings fail, she can imprison him again.”
Leszi nodded. “Indeed. We need not break the Armistace over this prophecy. If Queztalcoatl escapes, then we can act.”
“We cannot sit back and wait until catastrophe occurs!” Caeladrel said. “We should act now—enter the Elemental Chaos, and reinforce the bindings that hold Quetzalcoatl in check.”
“If our Lady were to do that, it would restart the War,” Leszi said. “And remember we don’t have the consensus of the other deities to act. If war broke out, many of them would side against us, too. There’s too much risk.”
“There must be a way to prevent Quetzalcoatl from escaping,” Arethusa said. “Is there any clue as to the mortal Quetzalcoatl is trying to use as a vessel?”
As everyone turned to her, Mielikki scooped up the rune-dice, and then rolled them again. Scrutinizing the result, she shook her head. “The one sails the skies of the Material World, seeking their fortune far from home…” Mielikki shook her head. “There are easily thousands of such mortals…”
“But in the Material World, only a few kingdoms field airships,” Caeladrel said. “And most stay fairly close to home.”
“Journeys far from home often take much preparation,” Arethusa said. “We could send agents to every major port to seek information about such journeys.”
“And then what?” Leszi asked. “If you found this mortal, what then? Kill him? He might not even be party to this scheme of Quetzalcoatl’s—you would be murdering an innocent man. And even if he was one of Quetzalcoatl’s lackeys, acting directly against a mortal like this is yet another violation of the Armistace.”
“We will not violate the Armistace,” Mielikki said. “Still, knowing more will help us find the best course to follow in this. Send the agents, and advise my temples to also listen for rumors that might fit. Quetzalcoatl will not escape his bounds—not while I have say in the matter. Go.”
With that one word, the assembly began to disperse, save for one who recognized Mielikki’s subtle gesture which meant Stay. Israphel, Mielikki’s angel of supremacy, remained as all of the other denizens of the Kalevala left. “You wish to live as a mortal, do you not?”
“I wish to serve my Lady,” Israphel said.
“You have served me since the Beginning of All,” Mielikki said. “And I know you wish to experience the mortal life. I have one last assignment for you, if you would take it.”
“I will,” Israphel said, “and I ask no compensation. I exist to serve.”
Mielikki smiled. “You can drop the formality.”
Israphel relaxed, but only fractionally. “Maybe a brief respite from my duties would be in order…”
“Of course,” Mielikki said. “If we find specific information on this mortal, I would like you to see to it that a planar rift puts an end to his journey. He will be journeying far from home, so catch him out in the wild places, far from civilization. It would be best if no harm came to him, just inconvenience—the only reason we act at all is to prevent whatever scheme Quetzalcoatl has in mind. Hopefully, just putting this mortal out of Quetzalcoatl’s reach will suffice.”
“The other gods will be angered at your breach of the Armistace,” Israphel warned.
“It’s a minor breach, and it’s not like the primordials haven’t done far worse in the aeons since the War. Besides, if the other gods find out about this, I intend to disavow knowledge of your mission, and punish you by sending you to the Material World to exist as a mortal, for a mortal’s lifespan,” Mielikki said. “If they don’t find out, I’ll reward you…by sending you to the Material World to exist as a mortal, for a mortal’s lifespan.”
“I do not deserve such kindness,” Israphel said.
“Oh, yes, you do,” Mielikki said. “Prepare yourself.”
Israphel left the clearing, leaving Mielikki alone save for her guardian bears. The decision to act against the mortal weighed heavily in her mind, but she saw no other course. Doing nothing was not an option; certainly, compared to the threat of Quetzalcoatl’s rampage of destruction that would surely follow were he to be released from his prison, the fate of one mortal seemed light in the scales. Taking the mortal into her confidence was also not a viable option: mortals were far too unpredictable, and far too often, unpredictable in the worst possible way. It was best to merely shunt this mortal away to some obscure plane of existence where they would be far from the reach of any primordial, where they could live out the rest of their brief existence more-or-less harmlessly. Mielikki told herself she need not worry: Israphel was well-disciplined. He would not make a mistake that would cause undue harm to the mortal.
Still, Mielikki’s thoughts were consumed by this matter for quite some time.