Far, Lharvion 20, 993 YK
196 days until the Day of Mourning
Ur-Han sits cross-legged on a small rock outcropping overlooking the Plaguelands. The air is crisp and clean this evening. As the sun begins to set behind the mountain chain that forms the valley ridge, a dark shadow passes in front of the light. The stone giant blinks and leans forward. Gliding down from one peak is a great, black winged beast. Two horns protrude from its head, spiked and flared. Its scales gleam, yet seem to absorb the light, rendering the creature unseen when it passes through a shadow of the mountains. Its lengthy tail whips back and forth in the air, but seems to taper of into nothingness, just wisps of shadow that vanish in the air.
Ilthane the Black extends his four claws outward and dives. He lands with a force that shakes the ground, smashing a dozen or more statues, and driving the air away from the dragon in a powerful gust. Pulling his wings back, they melt into his body, and he shapeshifts into his human form. He doesn’t have long to wait as the ground a few feet away ripples and liquefies into mud, the medusa Miraj Vizann rising from the earth. Miraj steps out of the puddle that instantly resolidifies. He stops, seeing the shattered stone soldiers, and shakes his head.
“We would ask you to be more careful next time. The Stone Heart has plans for them.”
Ilthane bites back a response, instead simply saying, “My apologies.” Miraj nods, keeping his eyes safely pointed away from Ilthane. “Have you seen the Oracle? Do you know if he received my message as well?”
Miraj sneers. “Had I seen the Oracle, he would not be joining us.”
Movement behind one of the statues catches their eyes and they turn toward it as a creature slinks forth seemingly from thin air. Standing only five feet high while hunched over, the spines along its back come up another foot. Each appendage ends with a four-fingered claw. Its face is elongated and when it opens its mouth, each jaw has two rows of sharp teeth. A lengthy touch swings out of its mouth and licks the air, before drawing back in. It gazes upon the two others with a large, singular eye.
“The Oracle of Cazhaak Draal is present, as requested.”
Miraj turns to it. “I am surprised to see you outside your hole. Not afraid to stand in my presence.” With swiftness, he turns his gaze upon The Oracle, who merely laughs.
“The Oracle is present, but is not here.” It takes a few strides forward, walking through one of the stone statues. Clearly an illusion.
Ilthane turns to both of them, growing inches as he does, his eyes returning to their draconic state. “ENOUGH!” The two others face Ilthane, not so much in fear as surprise. “You were not gathered here to continue your petty squabbling. There are more important matters at hand.” He takes a breath and returns to human size. “The Elder Brain is no more.”
“Yessss, The Oracle has seen it.”
“And the Stone Heart has felt it.”
“I have come to present myself to you as Dyrrn’s disciple. I will be your leader from here on, in the Elder Brain’s stead.” There’s silence as the two figures regard Ilthane, but say nothing. “Have you nothing to say?”
“You are no leader of mine. The Stone Heart has not been under Dyrrn’s command in ages. He sees no reason to be so now.”
“The Oracle does not wish to agree, but must. The Lord of Eyes owes no allegiance to the Corruptor. Nor I, you.”
Ilthane closes his eyes in frustration. “I had foreseen this and yet am still awed at your insubordination. The Enemy grows stronger still and yet you fight amongst yourselves and allow them to carry on unhindered.”
Miraj waves a hand dismissively. “They are being tried by the Queen of Stone as we speak.”
“I am not speaking of them! The Enemy! The one, true enemy!” Ilthane stops, disgusted with the conversation. “Enough of this. I need not explain myself to the likes of you.” With a quick thrust of his hands, he carves a glowing sigil in the air. One hand transforms back into his claws and it juts forward toward Miraj, who is held in place. His eyes go wide and he tries to turn his gaze on Ilthane, but doesn’t have the time. The same sigil appears beneath Miraj and blue-black flames spread up from it, beginning to consume the medusa, before vanishing a few seconds later. Miraj remains standing, but becomes relaxed and complacent.
The Oracle cocks his head. “What have you done to him?”
“I have made him mine. As I will you.” Ilthane turns to the illusion, his other hand becoming a draconic claw.
Smiling, the Oracle reminds Ilthane, “The Oracle is not present.”
“I don’t need you to be.” With another swift motion, he traces the same sigil and opens his claw. The Oracle’s illusory appearance flickers as he attempts to dispel the magic… but it doesn’t. The flames spread over and through the illusion, consuming The Oracle where he truly resides in the same fashion as Miraj. Ilthane takes a step back, as if surveying his work. “There. You will be my Testament.” The fire spreads outward, encircling the three individuals, and they vanish.
Up on his rock outcropping, Ur-Han sighs as he reaches for his crook and incense. He slowly pats a boulder. “Don’t worry. I will fix them.”