The Chrysalis Emerges
by K Griffin © 1998
"The ancient races returned to the lands. The Dreaming had taken no account of previous homelands and many battles were fought over ancient and forgotten lines in the dirt. Finally, a balance was achieved though resentment still smouldered in some quarters."
extract from 'The Chronicles of the DreamWeaver'
The thudding continued to get louder as the Wolf's long easy strides carried them both east. Intrigued by the rhythmic thuds, Chrys craned her neck trying to find the source. No matter how much she stretched, she couldn't see any change in the landscape except for a tiny tendril of smoke curling its way up into the cloudless sky. All she achieved with her efforts was a sore neck and a reprimand from Ryrf when she almost fell from his back.
The rhythm of Ryrf's strides, matched to the booming thud, became almost hypnotic and Chrys lost all track of time. She felt like she was floating on the wind. When Ryrf did eventually stop again, it was with regret that she slipped from his back. The sight that greeted her was breathtaking. It was no wonder she hadn't been able to see the Mountain. There was no mountain. Instead a massive chasm knifed its way across the plains. Here was the source of the noise. The thudding bounced its way up out of the chasm, making little echoes that simply deepened its resonance.
She chuckled a little ruefully and said, "You tricked me Ryrf. I've been looking for a mountain."
He laughed, a deep rolling laugh of amusement that rumbled from his chest. He said, "There is a mountain, Chrys. It's down there though." He padded his way along the edge of the ravine, keeping his pace slow enough for her to keep up. The chasm was unbelievably deep in some spots. It was so deep that Chrys wasn't sure she could see the bottom. It had a fresh and jagged feel to it, as though the earth had been ripped apart only recently, leaving this gaping wound open to the air.
As Chrys stared down into the inky darkness that cloaked the floor of the ravine, a flicker of movement caught her eye. She stopped dead and called a warning to Ryrf "Something is down there, Ryrf!"
Ryrf looked back at her and nodded. "What do you see, Chrys?" he said as he made his way back to her side.
Chrys studied the ravine again, searching for the movement that had caught her eye. The ravine still felt unnatural to her and it was as though she was digging deep into an open wound. She stood silently on the lip of the ravine and gradually her vision pierced the gloom. The movements resolved themselves into little figures. The distance made it seem that she was observing a world in miniature. There were trails. There were people. There were vehicles. It was like watching an ant nest with the figures scurrying to and fro along the winding trails. She followed the progress of one little group, watching them wend their way around huge rocky outcroppings and down into deep pools of shadow, only to emerge again on the other side to continue their journey. Suddenly with a gasp, she realised she was looking down upon a mountain range but her tone remained even as she said "Which one is Fire Mountain, Ryrf?"
He grinned with delight but his tone was reflective as he spoke "Yes, Chrys, they are mountains. They stood high and proud, reaching for the sky until Megren overreached himself." He stopped and as though a bitter taste was in his mouth, he muttered, "Megren Dar'Almyrra was the First Lord of the Council of Arcana, Darkness Incarnate, and a fool." Ryrf stared down at the tiny figures below and continued softly "The race wars were cloaked in pretty propaganda slogans claiming justice for the dispossessed. It was a terrifying time for many and their fear was easily exploited. It was a nightmare from which they could not awaken. The fundamental tenets that had underpinned their lives, the supposedly immutable truths, were suddenly swept away. There was no warning and there was no safety net." Ryrf paused and seemed to be deciding whether to continue. He looked unblinkingly at her then nodded as though some decision had been made in his mind. His tone was neutral but firm as he continued, "The Master was the power behind many of the false prophets that arose. Seductive promises and tantalising dreams of power led many prophets and their followers to their doom. Megren was more dangerous than those false prophets because he was Darkness Incarnate. His promises were not false at all. He was the Master's star pupil."
A shiver went through Chrys at the mention of the Master. A looming dark presence and a cold hissing voice seemed to batter on the doors of her memory. She managed to meet Ryrf's gaze without flinching.
She didn't break his gaze as he continued steadily, "Megren did more than simply lead his followers to their doom, he almost brought a doom upon the whole land. He fed off the unrest that the Cataclysm brought and he fed his followers on hate and blood. The Council of Arcana were loathe to interfere but he disturbed the balance too much. Finally they acted against him. When he was ejected from the Council he simply retreated to his mountain eyrie and watched as his shadow spread over the lands. A final terrible battle was fought here. You saw the plains so you know how much blood was spilled, but here is where Megren actually faced Helena. He would not concede defeat. When the last of his forces was destroyed he stood alone on the peak of Fire Mountain. His dark castle was below him and through some dark pact with the Master he was draining the very earth to power his nightmare. He overstretched himself though and the land ruptured. The upheaval rivalled the Cataclysm itself, but Helena was here to heal the lands. Not even she could stop it entirely though and the mountains themselves had been swallowed before she managed to heal the rupture. When a way down into the chasm was eventually found, there was no sign of Megren. Perhaps the earth consumed him first."
Chrys thought for a moment then asked, "So the people we can see were Megren's followers?"
Ryrf shook his head and replied, "No, they either died or fled into the northern wastelands. A tribe of Gnomes adopted the Plains as their home. Their magic is in their hands and the machines they build. They can live with the curse. Ironically though, they also draw power from the earth." He smiled and beckoned for her to follow, saying, "Be patient. Its not far to the entrance to Fire Mountain."
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