Long have I awaited you, Nift.
A long-tormented prisoner has long awaited you.
Hope at last! Close at hand!
(pause; the weird flares with red light)
But though twice you have already tasted of the merchant’s hidden jokes –
the first, but a chuckle; the second, a belly laugh – beware the jape that is told
at the cell’s edge, for its maniacal laughter echoes forever…
(the weird begins to sink)
Free the prisoner… then return.
For the tale of Anguarash.
And more – if return with an offering.
The merchants’ parasite will do,
Or some talisman of hope and cheer
that pleases the Heart of the Fire.
I will gift you a prophecy.
Anguarash. (contemptuous) The “steamlord”.
His bold campaigns against the marids, live on in history.
His perfect record, the stuff of legend!
Yet his boldest strike of all?
You’ll find it not in any musty tome, nor carved upon a stele of stone.
For centuries stood a gate to the Soil in the heart of a mountain of fire.
The Sultan’s scouts rode through and found it close to the Rain.
So Anguarash called upon his wizards, called in favors from the dao.
Contracted with a mighty fiend.
And… a weird summoned forth, to provide advice and wisdom.
The far point of the gate was moved,
almost into the Rain itself. A staging ground for a strike into
the heart of the Marid’s watery realm… a colony on the enemy’s border.
But before the Sultan faced the Padisha, before he even approached her gates,
as his army began to march – he was undone. The beings of the Ooze,
bizarre, undifferentiated, disdained and overlooked by the proud lords of the Sun -
they massed, then struck. The onslaught left Anguarash’s troops scarred and burned,
his war machines melted, his allies fled, his dreams of conquest shattered.
Anguaras sought revenge: He left the gate open,
but turned into a trap for those who had thwarted him,
built on the very back of the mighty monolith who had slain his favorite hound.
Unwittingly the ooze beings come through the gate, but cannot find their way back home.
They are forced up into the Sun, through the Sultan’s Sieve, to perish screaming,
their living essence trapped in coldstone.
(Bitterly) Above all: the steamlord’s perfect record must be preserved.
So records of the campaign, destroyed. Accounts of the gate, expunged.
Witnesses, slain or buried away. So too Alixteriantis: lost to time, lost to history.
Until those who could reset the Sultan’s work should arrive…
Four who were once one. Shattered on the anvil of ambition.
The Garden, turned inside out! The sisterhood, exiled to home!
Four who were once one. Forged in the ashes of betrayal.
Anchors cast down the eons by a seeker of vengance.
Now, the Confluence comes. Seek the center of all things in the lands beyond dream!
A child will guide you, a secret finder stalks you.
At the center, you must chose: restore that which was shattered? Cast down the mighty upstart lords? Risk the Stars for the Sun, Soil, Rain and Sky?