Shadowrun - Earthdawn - Lliferock (4 page)

BOOK: Shadowrun - Earthdawn - Lliferock
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Occasionally there were glimpses of times before, memories of his life prior to Sangolin, but he could never make any sense of them. They were as random and jumbled as the fallen rock he was walking past. And he blocked them out whenever he could, for the only feelings brought by those broken memories were pain and longing.

The walls of broken stone rose on his left and right as he went farther towards the core of Sangolin until he was walking through a tunnel, lit now by the harsh white of glow crystals. The white light reflected off the blood-colored stone, This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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veined with crystals of blue-black. His own skin was a deep russet brown, chipped from age-old scars in some places and worn smooth in others.

The sound of the drums in his head dulled somewhat as he entered the cavern. It was cool in here, with a damp, unnatural chill. The cavern’s black canopy arched over him as he walked toward the rocky mass that was the core. Intense white crystals were cold, bright stars in the darkness, blinding him. They cast sharp shadows across Sangolin’s mottled skin. In the space above him, water dripped from stalactites, and collected in a deep, blind pool hidden in the dim recesses of the cave.

Sangolin beckoned to him, irresistible now, drawing him.

Anticipation rose inside him, his ancient pulse quickening as he prepared to enter the Dreaming with Sangolin. He stepped close, his breath catching in his chest. Soon he would feel the sweet rush of merging with the core, his abandonment to the joining.

Sangolin’s core was a flowing lump of rocky forms, and a warm hum emanated from it. In places, the shapes of obsidimen bodies were recognizable in its surface; arms, legs and torsos of others already in communion. Some faces showed in the surface, eyes distant, jaws slack in ecstasy.

Reid, he heard in his mind, come to me now.

The name meant nothing, though he knew Sangolin was speaking to him. He could hold out no longer. Stepping forward, he pressed himself against the flesh of the core. It yielded under his caress, pulling him into a locked embrace.

Pleasure rushed into him, filling the gaping hole inside.

Then he felt the chaotic minds of the others, hungry for escape, but unwilling to give up the embrace. And as satisfaction overwhelmed him, he became one with the others, and lost what little was left of himself to Sangolin. To them all.

This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected])  Chapter Four 

Disappointment and longing overwhelmed Pabl as he sank into the Dreaming with Ganwetrammus. His desire to be Named — to join the adult members of the brotherhood — pulsed deep within him, leaving him cold and unsatisfied.

I will not be Named, Pabl thought. Without Reid, the Fire Bath ceremony cannot be performed.

But slowly, as the spirit of Ganwetrammus touched him, Pabl’s dissatisfaction gave way to the merge, bringing him into the collective. Even as he lost himself to the rock, he found another identity — a communal self. Soon he felt complete again, more fully himself than he had ever remembered.

There were others with him in the liferock: Gvint and Ywerk; Tidre, Gavi, Wennith, and Linu. Pabl knew them all.

They were his brothers, merged in other parts of the rock.

Hagnit was here too, and Bintr, with Grimchak, Olda, Penthr, and Vilcraq. They sensed his presence and welcomed him as one, conveying their regrets that his Naming would have to be postponed.

Until Pabl had been given a true obsidiman name, he 24

Liferock 

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would be merely a child, despite the fact that his body had lived over a hundred years. As a child, he listened and felt while Dreaming, but he did not “talk.” He did not touch others with his spirit, but they touched him. He did not shape the rock. It shaped him.

He shared the experience of his last twenty-one years with the others. His Awakening. Through his memories, they saw Bartertown and Kratas, they followed his search for the lost library of Yon Fuiras and his freeing of the lost windling kaer — Choamistra. They experienced his memories as their own, and shared some of what had happened to them during the time Pabl had been away.

Time passed in the Dreaming. In the blink of a windling’s eye it was morning, and Pabl could feel the sun’s warmth on the top of the mesa. Pabl experienced images and sensations in the Dreaming — impressions, but not words. He woke from the Dreaming slowly, and his memory of what he had experienced began to fade. It always did; from what his brothers said, only the very old could remember their Dreaming.

His skin softened as he emerged, as he opened his eyes to a blue sky above, a mat of white cloud below. He relished the emergence. No need to rush. His years outside had altered his perception of time. He had become used to a life among creatures of haste.

It was mid-morning by the time he started climbing again, and he reached the top by noon. And by then his anger had grown again. I will need to speak with Gvint, he thought. How long will I have to wait before the Fire Bath? It is so easy for them to be patient; they already know their Names.

Names were sacred, and though Pabl already had an appellation in the common languages, he had no true Name.

And until he did, he would be undefined, indistinct, his pattern not fully realized. An obsidiman name would shape his spirit, would help define him and make him less vulnerable.

This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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It would tie him more closely with Ganwetrammus and his brotherhood. Without it, he would never be complete.

At the top of the mesa, Pabl stood on the edge of the cliff and stared out at the thick, cottony layer of cloud suspended a thousand feet below — so thick that it blocked out the jungle.

Many miles to the east rose another tepuis, jutting like a jagged ork’s tooth out of the cloud layer. There were more of the mesas to the south, Pabl knew, but he couldn’t see them from where he stood.

The elves are right to call them elentriamal, he thought.

For they are islands lost in the clouds. He savored the view for a few short minutes while he ate some bread, along with two bananas he had collected from the trail the day before. Then he turned away from the cliff, hefted his pack and picked his way toward the temple. It was time to find out about the lost Elder.

From below, the tepuis looked flat on top, but up close the surface was neither smooth nor level. It was a jumble of pitted and creviced boulders. Nothing grew on the top of the boulders because there was no soil and no protection from the storms, but in the hollows and the meandering crevices thirty or forty feet below, mosses and carnivorous flowers grew. And in the rain shadow of the stones, a variety of lichens and fungi flourished, some of which were deadly poisons.

Pabl wove his way through the spaces between the boulders, moving toward the sound of the waterfall. He had been traveling a few minutes when Chaiel Ro found him.

“Pabl, may I walk with you?” Chaiel said, running up. He wore nothing but loose brown pants. His broad chest was covered with chalk paste: indigo and forest green in swirling patterns. He was heavily muscled, strong, and skilled in the arts of a warrior. “I want to discuss something.”

“Yes, of course. It is good to see you, Chaiel,” Pabl said.

Chaiel was the next youngest brother, only thirty-two years This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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older than Pabl. He had helped guide Pabl during the first year of his Awakening. And after Chaiel had left him, replaced by Bintr Aar, Pabl had missed the younger brother’s emphasis on action and quick results. Bintr was almost as old as Gvint; he liked to ponder.

“I am concerned about Gvint,” Chaiel said as they made their way through the Dance of Stones. “I think he is feeling the strain of being sole Elder.”

Chaiel went on when Pabl didn’t respond. “The liferock was never meant to have only one Elder. We are weakening because no births can occur without both Elders. No Namings . . .”

“What is Gvint doing about it?” Pabl asked, almost too quickly.

Chaiel smiled. “Mostly just waiting. He seems to think that Reid will come wandering back to us if we just wait long enough. He is also using his magic to look for him. I don’t understand exactly how, but it involves summoning air elementals.”

“Is anyone actually searching for Reid?”

“Some of us have tried, but it was against Gvint’s advice.”

Pabl felt a surge of excitement. He turned and stared into Chaiel’s black eyes. “Really? Where did you look? Did you find out anything?”

“Patience, brother,” Chaiel said. “Have you heard the rumor of Ohin Yeenar?”

Pabl released Chaiel’s gaze and they continued walking.

“No,” he said.

“Ohin Yeenar is an ancient of the Othellium Brotherhood whose liferock was destroyed in the Scourge. He is the last of his brotherhood, and the rumor says that he has seen Reid Quo recently. As few as eighty years ago, perhaps just after the Scourge.” Chaiel frowned. “I’ve heard a number of conflict-ing stories,” he said. “One says that Ohin Yeenar entered self-This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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dreaming with Reid. Another that Reid is Horror-marked. If that’s true, perhaps Reid’s Horror is preventing him from getting back. Maybe Reid is staying away on purpose to protect the liferock.”

“Did you go to see this ancient one?”

“No, but I want to,” Chaiel paused to take a breath. “And I want you to come with me.”

“Has anyone gone to talk with him?”

Chaiel hesitated for a minute. “Yes, two of our brothers have gone. The first, Lyrthus Rewt, never came back. He disappeared seven years ago. Bintr Aar was the other, about a year ago. He returned without any concrete information because Ohin Yeenar drove him away.”

“And you think we can succeed where Bintr failed?”

“We must try.” Chaiel released a loud sigh. “I am so tired of waiting around here.”

Pabl smiled at him. “I will think on it, brother,” he said. “I must first speak with Gvint.”

“I understand,” Chaiel said. “I will come to you later for an answer.” He extended his hands, palm facing outward, fingers spread.

Pabl returned the gesture, touching Chaiel’s palms with his own. “Goodbye, brother,” he said. “We shall speak of this again later.”

“Goodbye,” said Chaiel, then he turned and passed between two giant rocks and disappeared.

About an hour later, Pabl came upon the curving stone stairs that connected the temple to the riflev pool. On his left the broad, flat stairs spiraled down into a giant hole in the rock. The stairs had been made by Hodda Zin — an elementalist of the First Brotherhood who had sculpted with erosion. Instead of cutting the stone, he had used his magic to selectively strengthen parts of it. Hundreds of years later, erosion had revealed much of his art. His statues, in various stages of com-This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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pletion, were scattered among the boulders.

The stairs spiraled along the inside wall of the hole down to the riflev pool where water gathered which fed the waterfall. The water seeped from the pool through pores in the rock until it jetted from the cliff face a hundred feet or so farther down.

On his right, Pabl caught sight of Gvint Od, standing amid the bright magenta and indigo curtains of the temple’s entryway. The temple was a large building made of solid stone slabs leaning against each other, situated on the very edge of the cliff directly above the falls.

Pabl climbed the steps toward Gvint, passing an erosion sculpture of Mynbruje in the form of a gigantic obsidiman, standing nearly twice as large as Pabl, his hands theatri-cally merged into the rock. Mynbruje was the Passion of truth and justice — ideals Ganwetrammus held true. Mynbruje frequently appeared in the lore of the Garen Brotherhood.

Gvint turned as Pabl approached. The Elder’s expression was solemn, impossible to read as he extended his hands in greeting.

Pabl touched Gvint’s palms. The Elder’s skin felt craggy like crumbling rock.

“Welcome, young one,” Gvint said. He was taller than Pabl, thin and old with cracking wrinkles. He looked worse than he had twenty years ago. A thickly braided horkla of auburn and black covered the crown of his head, but it couldn’t hide the deep crevices etched into his brow.

One Elder is one too few, Pabl thought. He has carried the burdens and responsibilities of the brotherhood on his shoulders alone. How much strain can he take?

Gvint’s ceremonial robes billowed around him as he motioned Pabl into the temple. “We will talk inside,” he said.

Pabl removed his backpack and brushed dirt from his cloak. Then he placed his feet on the entrance stone and This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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stepped into the covered verandah. The stone slabs which made up the temple walls and roof were an extension of the liferock. Delicate carvings of each brother adorned the huge entryway, and next to the carvings, petroglyphs were engraved on the walls — fine lines which told the stories of each obsidiman in the brotherhood.

The petroglyphs began in the verandah, picturing each brother’s First Merge and Awakening. Then, inside, through the curtains, the engravings continued the tales from their adulthood, as full members of the brotherhood. Pabl’s own story stopped short of the curtained entryway.

Pabl stepped through the opening. Colors bombarded him, and he caught a whiff of the sweet copper smell of home.

The floor tiles shone burgundy and deep violet, forming concentric circles, centered on the spur of natural rock that came up through the floor in the middle of the room: the Alqarat, glowing like red lava at the tip. The roar of the waterfall dulled as Pabl walked into the temple, feeling the cool tiles against the bare soles of his feet, and he could hear the high-pitched hiss of the Alqarat as it burned the air.

BOOK: Shadowrun - Earthdawn - Lliferock
13.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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