Bezreddyn found his old friend in the courtyard of the temple as dusk fell. The old prophet looked old. Thank the gods the city of prophets was only a couple hours from Yndarr, otherwise it would have taken him too long to get there and Darakkys looked as if he were close to death.
“My eldest friend,” Bez saluted, taking the elderly prophet’s hand in his own and pressing it to his head in reverence, “You requested an audience?”
“Aye, My dear friend,” the ancient Prophet replied, “and not for naught. I have a prophecy about your family, bard. A blessing, a curse, and a redemption for all.”
“I am listening, my dearest friend,” Bez answered.
“Your son will sire a son,” The prophet began, “Whose hair will be as red as fire and whose eyes will be blacker than the blackest of all pits. Power will be strong within him and he will have a rebellious spirit.
“Your son will fear him and try to sell him into slavery, but you must buy him his freedom. Your son’s fear of his child will not be without reason, but the reason he shall claim will not be the reason he should fear the boy. The enemy shall initially win the boy’s attention, yet will not be able to control him. They shall curse him, but the curse will be broken.
“He will destroy this age, yet unify the lands like no other and will bring on a better age, one that has never been seen before and will never be seen after his line ends. The nobility and the bard shall become one as will the sorcerer and the emperor. And the lands will be governed by wisdom ushering in a gilded age of prosperity. And the curse that has kept you from rest will be lifted.
Thus the gods have spoken, so shall it be done.” With this, the aged prophet collapsed in a heap and breathed his last.
“Can you make me a copy of this prophecy?” Bez asked his friend’s successor, “I would beg a scrap to have so that I can be reminded of what I must do when the time comes.”
“Yes,” Toulor humbly granted, “After all it is the way of the prophets to give according to the wishes of the one prophesied about. Since the prophecy deals with you and your family, it is your choice.” Toulor penned a copy for the temple records, then handed Bezreddyn the original. “May peace go with you, bard. Know that you and your descendants will always be welcomed here as long as they bring with them peace.”
“I wish to stay and honor my friend at his pyre,” Bez responded, a tear welling up in his eye, “He was the last of my friends left to me. Two friends vanished after the fall of Drathyn and the cities surrounding it.”
“You will find your missing friends,” Toulor replied prophetically, “alive and well. Never despair.”
Bez couldn’t help allowing a smile. The young prophet’s solemn humility prevented him from knowing whether the young prophet had noticed that he had just prophesied. It really didn’t matter either way. It was Toulor’s job now.
Tryl had been Mistress of the White ring for over two thousand years. They were the most ancient of the rings, having defeated the evil of the Black Ring when she was still a mere babe. The Black Ring had all but vanished, taking with it the remnants of its unholy demon binding and necromancy. Their scriers had been guilty of abominations such as vivisections, carving live victims to learn the secrets of life and death. The screams of their victims had filled their cities, their wars had torn the lands apart in bloodshed in order to fill their need for fresh victims.
The gods had seen their wickedness and sent the White Ring to end their reign of terror. But even with their end, the wounds upon the land had become indelible scars that would never go away. Still, the White ring had tried to lead the people the best they could. The gods had even returned to the lands to help rule, setting up human monarchs to do their will.
Then came the first of the barbarian invasions. And another. And another. Fourteen in all, each with a new set of gods and a new nobility.
That had been one thousand years ago. Five hundred years later, humanity rebelled against the benevolence of the gods and made war upon their deities. The result had been the departure of the gods and a human nobilis that cared less about their subject with every passing century. It had also heralded the rise of the Dark Ring, which had slowly formed with each barbarian invasion to include a loose alliance of warrior mages, the remnants of the barbarian nobility.
Each member of the Dark Ring worshiped their own set of deities and had their own forms of magick. They had, in the beginning, elected Olgath’s grandfather-Oldahearth-as their Master Mage. Each “Master” had less power than their predecessor, which had led Olgath to ban any of the Ring from rising to Sorcerer Supreme. They could only rise as high as Master Mage.
But that had not been the only factor. Olgath’s son, Golmagug, had rebelled in an attempt to wrest the Ring from his father only to fall from grace and take half of the Ring with him. The fallen had gone on to become The Inquisition.
Tryl now looked warily at this new entity. Its influence had initially been held at bay, centralized within the lands, but now it threatened to expand. If it did so, the white ring’s days were numbered. With their power waning, the White Ring would never be able to survive the onslaught. She shook her head. Peace was coming to an end. War was brewing. Evil was on the rise.
Threllium would have to disappear until it was all over. She had to call the Ring together. Plans had to be made. Their time was over.