The Shadow Rising
You lose yourself to despair.
You find your strength failing, you always told yourself it was enough, and in your arrogance you believed it. You failed your order, ran from honour. You cast aside the weak, the small: The torments you inflict upon Jarr, who worships you, haunts you. You were supposed to be so much more. But you protect Jarr, as you have always protected the weak. You could not run from your order, as it lies within you, the holy Fist of Kord grips your very heart. You are their shield. And you will not sunder.
The eladrin are masters of the arcane, yet the illithid spanned the stars while the greatest of your fathers slept within the unawoken feywild like self-deluded children. What can knowledge achieve when the mind that holds it is weak, unfocussed, distracted by the shiny baubles of vanity. But your mind is strong, was ever focused, never wavered, or you would not stand where you do today. You remember the teachings on psionics, the histories of the illithid and you understand. They are already fallen. Their time is past.
Torn, flimsy, half-man, the voices whisper, and you shudder, in the abyss once more, where you had spent so long, so long, lost and drifting on the currents of the astral sea, forsaken by one god, abhorred by the other, betrayer and betrayed, a sliver of yourself. Ha! Flimsy? Lost? Just how you like to be! This tentacle-moustached fool forgot he was dealing with a servant of Chaos. You have seen the true face of the Abyss, this, this is nothing.
The failure of all your people, a single task they set before you, yet one evidently beyond your means. Trusted with the same duty that all your people had guarded for millenia, yet you alone commit it all to the sands: generation upon generation lost to nothing upon the shoulders of a single man. Your people taught you better than that. No man stands alone, and success or failure weighs upon the shoulders of all. Do you not now stand before the servants of your enemy, meeting them with defiance upon your every breath? You hear the mind-flayer and you hear his lies, and you defy them.
Hard as rock they call you, hard, bitter, mean. All you ever were was dirt. You spend your time with the spirits of the sands, no-one else will take you, and when the spirits leave you tell yourself it was only their nature. Sent out from your people to wander in the desert, nothing but the wind to taunt you with its lonely cries. Lonely? Abandoned? You speak to the earth itself, to the sun, the fires within all-filled with life. You are only as hard as the desert has made you, as your people have needed you to be, which is why they now trust you above all others, as well they should.
The Skald intones.
You feel a sudden heaviness in the air, a pressure bugeoning from within, and a burden weighing down upon you. (dazed)
A faint misty outline surrounds the runes that Ma’Qil is reading, and his voice begins to take on an echoing timbre, a ringing afftereffect as each syllable is thrust into creation.
The room shudders, and the sunlight seems to waver, you hear the laughter of sprites, and the wet heavy breath of something else.
A rift opens like a knife drawn across the throat of reality, and shadows bleed from it into a pool of dark substance that defies every attempt to focus upon it, light streams from the wound. The sudden impact knocks you to your feet. (prone), leaving behind a vortex that is clearly unstable.
Suddenly the swirling rift collapses upon itself, as it rushes towards Xaranax, a cataclysmic implosion of opposing forces that tears at his very being, and erupts in a cascade of otherworldly influence and drifting ash. Books begin fluttering from the shelves around you, peering at you from new-formed eyes, and puddles of molten stone and wood attempt to shape themselves into grasping limbs, stumbling into life – only to die soon afterwards in thrashing convulsions and silent screams of pain.