Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quickie Fiction: The Arsarmarium

The Arsarmarium was a hexagonal chamber measuring over one hundred yards high, two hundred yards long, over sixty yards wide.  Located in the western side of the Seat of Faith, the chamber is protected by reinforced walls that have been tempered with both material and magical defenses.  While the walls were basically concrete blocks that have been interlaced with iron bars and a fire-resistant wood surface, if one were to study the grooves and minute designs upon the wood, one would see the intricate patterns and markings that empower the wall with a nearly subliminal song of durability.  Three large rose windows adorned the western wall: one with a theme of the Ancestral Dragons still alive and strong, taking to the skies with their widespread powerful wings, one on the middle with a theme of the rise of the first Hierophant and the beginnings of the Faith, and one with the theme of the Whole showing a man and a dragon almost as one single being with the skin and scales melding into a single form.  Above the three rose windows, like a halo of colored glass, are five hundred seventy nine stained glass windows.  Predominantly yellow in hue, the windows allowed daylight to creep in and bask the chamber in a golden glow.  At night, however, the stained glass windows cast a soft glow outwards, ensuring the rose windows stayed illuminated and cast their images inwards into the chamber.

At first glance, it is easy for many to mistake the presence of such windows to be a security risk to what was the main vault of the Seat of Faith's Dragon Song arsenal.   Everything from the bronze lance of the first Hierophant to the harmonic bows used during the Fang Wars, the ceramic dragon armors that magnified the range of Dragon Song manipulations to the Grand Composer itself, artifacts and ancient weapons of war were stored in this place for safe-keeping.   These magnificent weapons of war and wondrous devices were kept in the same chamber where the more common ivory bows, tuning daggers and dissonance nets were stored, supposedly to be a constant source of inspiration to those of the Faith of what has been accomplished, of what must be remembered and of what was has been foretold.

While any member of the Faith, it was said, had the right to enter the chamber, the Voices of the Faith had long ordained new rules that limited access to the chamber to them alone, as well as to the Hierophant himself.  The risk of these artifacts being stolen was deemed far to great.

And this was even considering the chamber's notable defenses.  The stained glass windows, like the minute markings on the wood, are permanent transcribed Dragon Songs that targetted any attempts to breach the chamber's walls magically.  At the moment a Dragon Song is woven, the intonation or harmony is detected, inverted, and reflected back at its source.  The resultant dissonance tune has created deadly and devastating effects, reminding the infiltrator that the room is not without its safe-guards.  There have been a few cases of chantadores, the less formal term for those who had an understanding of the Dragon Song, attempting to infiltrate the chamber using intonations and harmonies and finding themselves torn apart by the destructive cacophony that was created.

Nayd walked through the open archway and stood at the very spot where the colored pictogram of the first Hierophant struck the ground.  The Voice of Faith genuflected upon one knee, then held his head lower in reverence of the First Hierophant.   None remembered his name.  There were no records speaking of the man who first heard the Dragon Song and learned to comprehend it.  There were precious little documents preserved that spoke of the first man whom the Ancestral Dragons trusted enough to manifest their presence to.  His deeds however, were easily recalled.  Using the bronze lance he had crafted following the precise details the Ancestral Dragons taught him, the First Hierophant was said to have conducted a magificent coda which allowed him to reshape the very land, redirect the very flow of rivers and alter the weather itself to whatever was deemed most suitable.  The bronze lance acted as a massive tuning instrument which sung accompanying his song, magnifying the very music from what was once a lone voice in the empty plain, into a massive chorus of world-transforming power.

With it, the First Hierophant reshaped the world, creating the valleys for the many tribes to flourish, the mountains to channel the winds, the plateaus to become the earth upon which the Seat of Faith and the capital cities were to be built all in accordance to the manner the Ancestral Dragons have declared.

"Do we truly stand upon the threshold of the end? " Nayd found himself asking aloud as he stared upon the First Hierophant's image.  His eyes welled with tears which he could not explain.  There was no real fear in his heart.  If this was the end, he understood this was meant to be.  He clearly comprehended his role in the unfolding saga.   But there was an emotional quality which he could not really define that sought to break free from within him. 

A drop.

A teardrop escaped the catch of his eyelashes and slid down his cheek, clinging onto his chin precariously like a frightened child.  Nayd casually wiped it away and walked towards the first rack of ivory bows.  Nayd reached for the two closest ones, then with a jerk, had them collapse into themselves until they were merely compacted into simple short rods.  Sliding these two into his belt, Nayd reached for a second pair when he noticed a streak of color upon the back of his left palm.  Raising it closer, Nayd looked at the dark smear and realized the blue sky painted upon the window cast its image upon him.  A few paces towards the harmonic bows brought Nayd away from the blue umbra and gave him a chance to see the smear for what it was.


Nayd's eyes suddenly began to water even more.  Emotionlessly weeping, Nayd raised both hands to his face and pressed his palms against his eyes.   Drawing them back, Nayd saw his fears were true:  he was weeping blood.  And now, the blood was also starting to ooze out from his ears.

He turned around, wondering what was causing the hemmorhage and hoped to find some sign of whether this was an accident or an attack.  The act, however, gave no answers.  Instead, a sudden wooziness clamped upon Nayd's head, like some heavy invisible hand, and began to painfully force Nayd into unconsciousness.  Blackness began to fill the edges of his vision.  Small sparks of starlike explosions danced in Nayd's field of vision.  He lost his balance, toppled to the side and fell on top of the rack of harmonic bows. 

Nayd looked up, seeing the exit, and called upon every remaining ounce of strength in his body.  On all fours like a dying animal, Nayd began to crawl, hoping to make his way to the door before it was too late.  He had begun to suspect the Arsarmarium might have triggered its own defenses against him.  Perhaps the Arsarmarium had somehow mistaken him to be a threat.  Hands pushed against the ground.  Knees moved in concert with each motion.  Blood contiued to drip.  The growing circles of blood on the flood smeared as Nayd's own robes wiped over them as he moved.  The exit looked ever distant.  The lightheadedness was winning the battle.


Nayd slipped.  His hand failed to brace against his weight.  His shoulder collided against the floor.  The shadows in the room danced around Nayd's field of vision, growing larger by the passing second.  Nayd could already taste his own blood welling out from his very throat.  In his mind, he fought every urge to use the Dragon's Song.  Every urge to intone a message, or to invoke an elemental assistance was quickly stomped down.  The Arsarmarium was unkind to such invocations.   Though Nayd feared the Arsarmarium was already deeming him a threat, he feared more the chance he was wrong and that the very action would cause the Arsarmarium to tear him apart.

"Someone please.."

Nayd heard a footstep.  He craned his head towards the sound.  The blood blinded him too much.  He could not see who had made it.

"Helpe me..."

A massive puddle of blood erupted from Nayd like a crimson hole suddenly emerging from beneath his body.  The blood was flowing now, freely and richly, from Nayd's eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears.  His twiching body began to grow still as death silently came to claim him. 

* * *

The Hierophant stared at the nearly translucent copy of the contract with Libram had sealed between him and the mercenary Alucita.  He stared at the text and found himself wondering if this was the best course of action.  He knew that if he had instead the Voices of the Faith investigate on the matter, there would be among the radical ones the urge to "prove" the Other as wrong regardless of whether or not it was wrong.  He understood too well the allegiance and blind faith some members of the Faith had sadly embraced.  He had hoped to accomplish the investigations in private.

But now, thing were spiralling out of control.

A soft footfall alerted the Hierophant to a presence in the room.  He looked up and saw one of the Kabal in front of the wall beside the door.

"It is done?"

The silent man nodded almost solemnly.

"Three to go," the Hierophant noted, even as the other Kabal quietly stalked their prey.

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