Thin Blood – Prologue

Anger not your friends, for they
shall become your enemies.
Anger not your brother, for he
shall become your nemesis.
-Skyborn Saying

Nothing had been said in years. Nothing remained to be said. Either they had already played out each possible conversation, or they had simply lost the taste for speech. Bræ had taken to walking silently among his host in corporeal form, thinking the same ceaseless thoughts that had wended their ways through his mind over centuries. Thoughts about whether or not to expect a new arrival, about the Book, about Thæ and Shæ, about the Summit. With nothing to do but wait, these thoughts had lost their flavor long ago. If he had not known better, he would have thought himself bored.

He stood among a crowd of men and women, all sitting silently in similar thought on the reddish stone floor of the cavern. Above them, the walls reached so high no one could see the ceiling. No torches clung to the walls, no sun shone through any aperture, yet a dim light diffused throughout the cavern, leaving no shadows and no secrets, at least not from Bræ.

His army had certainly become bored, but it did not take omniscience and millennia of experience to discern that. He scrutinized the face and bearing of Lady Leah of Dotridge, one of the eldest of the Dæmons. She sat slumped against a wall, unmoving. She wore the same clothes she had arrived in: a white tabard with the stone triangle that served as her family sigil embroidered on the front. The tabard covered hard, leather armor and an even harder will. Her countenance did not encourage him. He read a deep seated concern in the lines under her eyes, one that he had no power to dismiss. Her concerns likely mirrored his.

In her life as a human, Leah had led an armed revolt against a tyrannical monarch for twelve years before her perseverance finally won out. Afterward, she was responsible for the governance of the kingdom, a demanding task. No doubt she had no time to herself in those days. The life of a Queen was not for her. Her lust for adventure led her to the Book, which led her to Bræ and his kingdom set outside of time. And yet from her perspective, she now had nothing but time to herself.

And Leah was only one of over 12,000, all with similar stories, similar achievements. There was Gregory the Pure, a knight of the Order of Tayln. Although in the outside world his order had dwindled to nothing, Bræ had preserved their finest soldier and scholar here. Gregory had led an inquisition that captured and executed a cabal of blood-worshiping clerics. He had saved the lives of hundreds through his leadership then, and no doubt when the Summit came, he would save thousands more.

The most recent person to arrive at Bræ’s gate was William of Tarro, a poet and scholar whose radical ideas led to his persecution and condemnation. He might have been hanged if not for his own ingenuity. He had escaped with his life, leaving the Book behind in Tarro and making his way to Demarin’s Expanse, but not before publishing an epic poem about his tribulations and exploits.

These were the best of the ages, all the greatest heroes the world had to offer. All waiting for the Summit, when they would return to fight, to lead, to teach, and to heal. But the world did not need them just yet, and even Bræ could not predict the when or why. The time would come. That much he knew. He waited only for the signal from Thæ. The Dæmons knew all this as well, but their trust in Thæ could not be anywhere near as strong as his, and he was beginning to have doubts.

He could not help but chastise himself. Caught up in the grandness and importance of their scheme, never had he thought to consider some of the important details. He had taken the most crucial of the three tasks out of a desire for importance, and now he possessed eternity to suffer the consequences of his conceit. Never had he thought that his charges might get bored on this plane he created for them. Immortality, freedom from hunger and weariness, he had thought these were gifts when he bestowed them upon the Dæmons. Now he realized his grave mistake, now that it was too late to change anything.

He had taken upon his shoulders the responsibility of safeguarding the Dæmons until the Summit, and only now began to find himself unequal to the task. Though he had no fears himself of despondency, he did not know if he could combat it among the Dæmons long enough. Though he knew what it would mean for the world, he yearned for the Summit. He would open the gate and the Dæmons could be let forth to fulfill their destiny.

Other than the Summit, the only thing Bræ could wish for to break the monotony was for another hero to find the Book and use it to find his way here.

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About CobraQuiz

A political writer.
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