Chapter 10: Abandonment
Leshac first heard the sound of a song, it was a child’s lullaby, it spoke of small things, listing them amusingly. It was light-hearted, and humorous, there was in it the story of a pixie who could not find a sword his size. Quil stopped singing as she noticed Leshac waking. She was sitting on the end of the lance’s grip, the lance itself was deep in the ground, Leshac was glad to have not lost either.
“Hey… you shouldn’t move, the fall did you quite a lot of damage, I fixed you up a bit with some herbs and fungus that grow about here.” Quil explained.
Leshac nodded, and leaned back. He was impressed, she really was made of quite strong stuff. Speaking of strong stuff, Leshac closed his eyes and focused on his body. Thankfully his current form had been strong enough to survive, he wasn’t exactly in great shape though. Quil had done her best, but such an irregular body clearly had presented her with problems. Leshac clicked his mandibles nervously. He reckoned he might be able to absorb a shadow or two, that might speed the recovery, though, as a changeling, wounds held less meaning. The curse of course put a dampener on that.
Quil was staring at Leshac, she seemed confused to him, and just a little wary.
“So… um, urg, this is weird” She mumbled. “Right, ok, so why did you save me I mean, you…?” Quil asked cutting her self off, Leshac for his part, was not quite in focus, so he thought nothing of what she didn’t say.
Leshac was not sure what to say, he was perhaps not sure why himself, so as he thought, he looked about.
Light from the pure moon Nanlach poured down through a hole in a frost caked ceiling, the roots of many plants poked through the ceiling, as well as icy stalactites. That must have been where they had fallen through. It had clearly once been the roof of some building. There was great carved pillars in the room they were in, time had eroded them all into faceless and obscure figures. In some distant past, perhaps these depicted the glory of some great civilisation. Apart from the pillars there was naught but cracked and mossy, fungus covered flagstones, any other contents of the room had long ago been erased by time. The walls may have once been colourful frescos, but no trace of that remained.
Leshac was not sure of how old this place was, but it was not as old as the dark times that the Eclipse war took place in, though, it was older than the period of the High Paladin King, Darleon.
A place long forgotten in any case, it was even possible no adventurers had set foot in this place since its’ ruin. Who knew what treasures or horrors might lurk within?
Leshac wondered aloud where they where, deciding that avoidance is the better part of not answering difficult questions. Quil sighed, she had guessed it wouldn’t be so simple to untangle this knot.
“I don’t know, it feels old… I think it was some kind of fortress, one that fell in some pointless war, or at least, that is the impression I get from the motes of magic here. This place seems sad”
Leshac nodded, there was a kind of pall of regret hanging in the air. They rested for a time, until they felt recovered, Leshac absorbing shadow, and Quil sleeping softly. Leshac woke her when he felt healed and they left the ruined room.
As they passed through worn out and root pierced halls, they saw the shattered remains of golems everywhere. The golems were more rust than metal, and like everything else in this place, moss and fungus grew on them. Abandoned and forsaken soldiers… they were in many shapes, but there seemed a deep sorrow in their lifeless eyes. The dim luminescence of fungus that was the only source of light did not help this feeling of a place rejected by memory.
Quil lead the way, following the flow of magic motes, but after a time, she stopped. They had passed by so many broken golems, it was a depressing sight, the husklike bodies of various sizes being devoured by time.
“I can’ take this any more, it’s much too, sad… we gotta do something, or else I feel like I’m going to forget everything”
Leshac agreed, he was feeling the effects of this place, if they weren’t careful, it would rise up and pull them from the living world, the amount of regret in the place was too strong.
There was too great a weight of abandonment, it was no mere war that happened here, something dreadful sundered this place, and the quantity of derelict golems was too great. Leshac could feel the place trying to break his will, make him give up and forget everything. There was a void of heart to this place.
“But, what shall we do about it?” Quil pondered.
Leshac didn’t know, so they both thought for a while. Leshac could think of nothing that would change the miasma of abandonment that hovered, but his mind did turn to other thoughts, thoughts about his current situation. He had, on top of the feeling of this place, a nagging feeling that he had forgotten something large.
Something about the Dark Wizard was odd. He was without shadow, but that wasn’t strange for one who dealt in night and shadow… but Leshac knew that the Dark Wizard was not just a user of the shadow magics, there was little wrong in that, no he knew that the Dark Wizard was a villain who had cursed him and was evil. So… what was puzzling, why did the Dark Wizard not have yellow tainted eyes? For that matter, he had lost the fight against him once, so why was he simply cursed rather than killed? Why was he and Quil transported rather than slain by a spear of shadows?
There had been something odd about the Frigid Knight too, and that too was without shadow, and without form. It shared the white eyes of the Dark Wizard… This was not all the oddity either…
There had been something to the reactions of those he had said his name to… there was something out of place here, but Leshac couldn’t help but feel he was missing the pieces to make sense of the nagging sense that nothing was quite right.
Quil broke Leshac out of his reverie, and the thoughts were stripped from his mind by the oppression of the ruins.
“I know, Let’s make a golem!” Quil fluttering joyously, pumping a tiny fist.
Leshac gave her a look.
“Hey, don’t look at me like that with those beady spider eyes, I don’t know much about golems, but it should work out if we just grab some pieces that look undamaged and stick them together, right?”
Leshac shook his head, he didn’t know how to make golems either, though, he had some vague inklings of how one could bind a shadow to a body of some kind to make a kind of golem, kinda, he wasn’t sure how it worked. Still, it was unlikely Quil was going to move forward without trying this, so he agreed.
It took a while to find all the parts they needed, feet, legs, pelvis, torso, arms, legs… but finding an intact head was by far the most difficult part. It managed to come together not too badly. The Legs matched, as did the feet. They were simply stylized armour. The body was different, it was barrel-like, with strange patterns engraved on it, a door was on the front, and some strange mechanism was inside the door, neither Leshac or Quil knew what it was for. The arms with hands didn’t match. One was a fine delicate thing, the other had more in common with a crushing pincer. The head, for its’ part was a simple affair, a metal cone with a crystal ball embedded in one side, and a box of strings for voice. It looked very mismatched, and although Quil and Leshac did their best to find whole parts, it still had a lot of moss, herbs and fungus growing on and in it.
It was a whole body, but it was not moving and no light was in it’s crystal ball. Quil got Leshac to try binding a shadow in it, but it did not move. Quil tried enchanting it with movement and function, but it did not move, her song stirred it not. It rested against a wall, empty. A golem is a construct, a shell, of any shape, given motion but no life. A golem need only move. A machine powered by magic or alchemy. A golem has no spirit, a golem does not have a spark of heartflame, that which animates all beings. A golem has no self. It is a sad existence, an image of a being, but mere machine.
This golem did not move, so it could be said, rather than a golem, it was a mere collection of parts.
Not even an image of a being. Some golems, in the quirks of magic, gain self, but a collection of parts could not even gain some limited self.
“Oh well, at least we tried to do something… though, why were we doing this again?” Quil said.
Leshac replied that he didn’t quite know… he got the feeling there was something else that they were really supposed to be doing.
“Well, I guess that we’d better… what were we doing here again? What is with this pile of junk here too?” Quil said, gesturing at the collection of parts.
Leshac knew no more than Quil, and he asked her who she was, she did seem to know him, but really he couldn’t remember her.
It was then that Quil realised, she no longer knew who she was, thankfully she remembered her magic, and feeling extremely scared, she quickly enchanted Leshac and herself with a remembrance, speaking of old things to get the spell going. She breathed a sigh of relief as her memories came back.
“Ok, that, that right there was scary. I hate this place, come on, we can’t be far from the bluetear rose. Urg, that was bad, really really bad. Why did I think trying to build a golem was a good idea?” Quil groused, slapping her head and fluttering off down one of the crumbled corridors.
Leshac followed… he was glad of the enchantment… but it still felt like he was missing something. He wondered how exactly the bluetear rose would break his curse.
As they left, if they had turned back, they might have seen a collection of parts become a golem, but that is another story.
“Oh my” Quil exclaimed “Though, I mean, given what this place is like, I suppose I should have expected it. I mean, the amount of neglect in this place almost makes it a magical nexus. Someone could do a lot of damage with this place! It’ll be weaker if we get out of here though.”
Leshac stepped out into a great hall, and instantly saw what Quil was talking about, something terrible really must have happened. There, before his eyes was a field of bluetear roses.
A great collection of crystal flowers, their azure light illuminated the hall, but there was a whispering melancholy from them. Regret hung heaviest in this place, and the bluetear roses were the physical sign of this. They were beautiful at the first glance, but then on closer inspection, one could see that they grew out from golem remains and ancient skeletons. All these people and constructs had fallen, been forgotten, been cried over, and forgotten. The flowers cried to be remembered.
Leshac and Quil were not granted the dubious gift of getting to contemplate the sorrows of this place lost to history, for the shadows formed up into the heavy robed figure of the Dark Wizard.
“You have come too far, I cannot let you go any further”