Have you located the Eye, yet?
I do not wish to hear it, Miss Scabbard.
You'd best get used to it. Here, your mistakes will be remembered.
I cannot be held accountable for the many imperceptibles in a cluster of strix.
Actually, you can. This is war, Mr. Flint. Moves and countermoves. Even standing still is an act of movement. A failure to act that has compromised one of your own.
A temporary setback. He can track it easily.
But a setback, nonetheless. You'll have to learn patience in the field. Don't rely so much upon the martial abilities of your Hats. Though effective they may be, you must admit, they've been a bit messy.
The Shiver's presence forced our hand.
Did it now? As I recall, it was still roaming the basement when the scaffolding fell in my favorite theater.
I thought one of our tenets was not to become attached, Miss Scabbard?
Assets are still assets, dear replacement. Do not lose sight of future opportunities just because you have commitment issues. Only the strongest of resolve can make the most of a situation.
And what strings are you fit to tug on, Miss Scabbard, and how many hearts will be broken by the end?
Don't worry, yourself, darlin'. They won't be any of yours.
Good evening, my lovelies.
Good evening, My Sovereign.
A good evening, indeed. Many clouds on the horizon; a tempest promised. Miss Scabbard, how fares your Sword?
She has entered a process of temperance, My Sovereign. Soon, she will be reforged, and sharper than ever. Her song is set to a strong tether.
It does seem that there might have been casualty?
Mistakes were made; hands were forced.
Your mistakes, Mr. Flint. Your hands. If you cannot control them, I hold no qualm in removing them from your body. If they are diseased and inept, they will be cut out. Do not ever forget what happened to other man in this station.
Yes... My Sovereign. With your infinite wisdom, how do you think it best to proceed?
Find the Dim Fox, Mr. Flint. The Echo won't be far behind. Bleed him if you have to.
Get all that, Mr. Flint?
It will be done, My Sovereign.
Pray that it is, if you value your hands as much as your excuses. ...Be well, my lovelies.
Goodnight, My Sovereign.
Somewhere on a rooftop overlooking the steel forest of Stormwrack...
"Sava, my darling, are you there?"
One in the chamber, two up the hill, five to get started, and four on the hill. "I have never left, My Sovereign."
"Excellent. Did you get my gift?"
Long metal core with a silver strand, crystalline ether and a cunning brand. I eye the metal box, punching in the only code that makes sense. A satisfying hiss escapes the gap as a hatch rises revealing a long outer barrel and a long fissure down the shaft that shifts with smoke and electricity.
"Sent straight from the Assembly. They call it an Anti-Matter Rifle. I think you'll be pleased with its range. I apologize; it is, unfortunately, rather loud."
It glows blue in my grasp, brimming with life, clarity in death's clasp, into each bullet I shall pour my strife. "It is beautiful, My Sovereign." I run my bare fingers over the cool metal; it's lighter than I thought it would be. Balanced.
"I thought you would like it."
"Is there a special occasion?"
"...A storm is coming. It may just be the perfect time. I need you to be my Lance again, sweetheart."
A fleeting sense, a rising breath, calm and dense, I summon death. "I would pierce the moon for thee."
"I fear nothing so extravagant, my love. Just a simple Field Test."
"Thy will be done, My Sovereign."
"Good girl. I look forward to your symphony of thunder. Aim low, and happy birthday."
Happy birthday to me...
It is no secret that the Elderburn changed things. It is a heavy heart to carry the burden of knowledge to antiquity and beyond, but this the lot I have thrown in with.
To leave magic to its ends is a folly and a farce. We students of war and arcanum understand the order of things; injuries can be mended by faith, the gods exist as entities as real as each of us, and the laws of magic are forever maintained.
But I felt the death of the Druids; eons of shepherds and timeless elemental law burned from the memory of the world. I felt the shift; not a crack in the weave, but a flood. The Font of Magic blown open; it entered the world without measure or tempo, and some creatures were unprepared. It slaughtered them, and took their energy, pouring their Ashes back into the weave.
My herbalism and botany has served me well - science is powerful, but arcanum is once again mysterious; all that we have learned is now rendered wrong. Spells do not behave as they did before, and only those who adapt by force of mind and will and study can find the answers.
But this study will be dangerous, my brothers and sisters. It has already claimed the lives of so many, as we seek to unlearn ourselves. To sift through the ruins left by our pride. In an age of discovery, there will be casualties of the body, mind, and immortal soul.
To my priests, my clerics, my soldiers of fortune - do not weep long. We are in need of your faith in the people of Io; the gods have grown tired of us. We must reclaim the Scorched earth for ourselves.
And still, fear grips me.
An image haunts my dreams. An idea; unrelenting, all-encompassing, the Last Law of the world. Like the sun and moon, the flowing seas and writhing tempests, the only Primal that remains.
Some forces try to slow the clock; stay the hands of age and seasons. Others speed forward toward destiny, eager to meet it before they're ready. These creatures are simple; we've dealt with them before. This is not my warning.
There are others. I see them, like broken tendrils of magic; loose threads of possibility. They lurk in the nightmare, obscured and secret. They wear many faces, use many names, and speak many lies. They aren't here to manipulate the clock. No, they seek to break it.
Imagine, my brothers and sisters: an endless age of chaos. An undulating mass of terror and fear, where the monsters are real...and invisible. Where voices are spoken, but the world is deaf, and nothing changes.
We say "the pendulum swings." What if it were to never swing back?
And this is why I study. I will study forever. I will fight for the magic of the world, for those left behind by the first rapture; it may take centuries, but I fight for the clock. For time is the Last Bastion; the great equalizer. It is my only weapon, ancient and immortal.
And I choose it to be my Sword.
-- The Memoirs of Daniel Miller, Loremaster
---- Recovered by Cidrynn Valsoro, Blackstaff