Crystals hummed as the old wizened hands of the Patermaster drifted above them. Black tourmaline rods vibrated as invisible waves of energy grew within them. Clear quartz bars began to emit a growing azure glow. Gemstones glimmered in the nearly completely dark chamber while the Patermaster continued his chained intonations, carefully bringing forth one tone after the other to enact what the Febhed referred to as the Earthen Confessional. The ritual was one which only the Patermaster was able to accomplish. Through the successive intonations of various earth elemental tones, the Patermaster creates a subliminal drones that would resonate to other nearby elemental tones. The longer the Patermaster can sustain the harmonic resonance, the further the echoing drones spread out to even further and further echoes. During this ritual, the Patermaster gains snippets of information of anything that transpires in the surrounding area of these drones. Impressions of what objects, persons or events are present in the vicinity of the drones reach the Patermaster's senses. Even tricks of invisibility and magics that delude the senses are foiled by the Earthen Confessional, so long as there was contact with the ground at the moment the drones resonated through the area. Theoretically, the Patermaster could "spy" on the whole world, given enough stamina and time to maintain the echoes that long.
"The dragonrider attacked me!"
The Patermaster felt his brow tighten in irritation as he heard the angry outburst from one of his Paterons. It was child's play for him to single out which Pateron was complaining out loud even as the Earthen Confessional began to unravel from the disrupted harmonics. Among the many Paterons present, the Patermaster turned his attentions on the Pateron whose head and body were bandaged in some areas. Hints of dried blood on the bandages suggested the wounds have yet to fully heal.
With a soft intonation to have all the crystals retract back into the earth, the Patermaster rose from his earlier meditative position and allowed his brownish red robes to straighten with the pull of gravity. The hematite jewelry that adorned his wrists and neck clattered softly against each other as he reached upwards and pulled back his hood to reveal his bald tattooed head. Tattoos covered most of the Patermaster's skin, using inks of powdered crystals, iron oxides and clay. The marks showed the geometric beauty of the various minerals although most who percieved the marks merely thought they visually seemed mathematically artistic. Not a single strand of hair remained on his body, with even his eyebrows and eyelashes having long been lost by age and time. The Patermaster's light blue eyes completed his image, contrasting against his darkened skin and tired expression.
"I call for justice! That dragonrider broke the truce between our people!"
"Be at ease, Pateron Acheu. The Patermaster heard you the first time," a nearby Pateron tried to appease the angry one, but instead received scathing glances in return. It was clear that Pateron Acheu hoped to be allowed to deliver some level of vengeance. Some however suspected the Pateron was in some way the instigator in the truce's disruption. His attitudes towards laws and authority was known by most to be... lacking.
"That dragonrider shot an arrow at me!"
"I am certain you feel your life was adequately threatened to merit the demand for action, Pateron Acheu," the Patermaster finally spoke, silencing every one else the moment he spoke. "And I am appalled as well at the loss of life of our people, an even greater transgression which some how you have overlooked to complain about."
Pateron Acheu hoped to speak in his own defense, but an initial attempt to speak was met with the Patermaster's gaze. Acheu new better than to say anything further.
"I shall send a messenger to the Seat of Faith and deliver word of our concern. The Hierophant shall learn of this transgression and will be certain to determine a just punishment to be enacted upon your attacker. Do you have a name?"
Acheu struggled to recall if any name was spoke. Thinking back of that fated day, he recalled how the archer had threatened to kill him (the thought of the other Febhed with him dying was far from Acheu's concerns) and how he was ordered to use the magics his Patermaster had taught him to free the dragon he had captured. Even until now, he could not fathom why the dragonrider would go to such lengths to rescue the emerald wyrm, considering the rider already was Onus Bonded to the saffron beast.
As the memories flood back to him, Acheu began to recall a few more details of that day. The Pateron had uncovered that the infamous pirate Mesin had a fancy for gemstones and had plans of punishing the thief for the manipulations and losses it had bequeathed upon Acheu's travelling monks. Acheu posed as a travelling merchant caravan and proved an irresistable lure to Mesin, especially when he began "showing off" the fist-sized gemstones that he had reputedly for sale. The emerald dragon spied the enormous rock from the sky, and in true fashion, landed at the deck ready to reappropriate the jewel from the humans. The Febhed allowed Mesin to walk close enough to take the gem, then on the Pateron's signal charged into batter her into unconsciousness. Caught unawares, the brawl kept Mesin from being able to focus and misdirect her foes with Maya until she was overwhelmed and brought low.
Mesin reverted back to her dragon form, much to Acheu's horror. Though the truce permitted Acheu to do as what he desired to the dragon, the Pateron actually had high respects for such magnificent creatures. In many ways, he too envied the Onus Bond and wished it were possible to forge one with such frightening beasts. He intoned onto the ground and buried her, hoping that the dragon would sleep its silent sleep and only awaken with little memory of what had happened.
But then, they came.
The Saffron dragon and its archer rider. With little effort the two fought Acheu and forced them to surrender the emerald dragon to them. And as the earth peeled back its layers to reveal the emerald dragon they had captured, Acheu remembered the dragon's words.
"Vandross, Patermaster. The archer's name is Vandross."
"The Hierophant shall be expected to compensate us for our loss. A total of how many monks were lost in the fight?"
Seconds passed. A full minute.
The Patermaster turned to look at Acheu and realized the Pateron was lost in his own thoughts. Glancing at the other Paterons, the gathered chosen simply shrugged and motioned that none of them had done anything to silence him. One motioned to his companions that maybe Acheu had lost his mind.
"Pateron Acheu," the Patermaster asked again, "A total of how many monks were lost?"
"The dragon," Acheu gasped aloud, with one hand moving to shield his wide open mouth. A bead of sweat suddenly erupted on Acheu's temple, precariously clung on to the corner of his eyebrow, before failing against the pull of gravity. "The dragon spoke."
All the Patersons gasped now, realizing the significance of this detail. All dragons were unable to speak. It was only through the dragon song, which those of Faith could interpret, that they could be understood. The Febhed, on the other hand, had another means. Through the vibrations of the earth and the collective web of memory that is embedded onto the earth, a Pateron could decipher communicatio"n of two parties so long as one side is using a language the Pateron can understand. Some believed the Pateron would use the understood language as a foundation of deciphering the context of the other's words, but this would not explain how even concepts that were not familiar to the Pateron would be deciphered. Others assumed it had to do with the adage that the earth had witnessed everything before and will witness everything again, and through their connection to the earth, such knowledge may be tapped.
"The dragon spoke," the Patermaster repeated as if to help him consider the ramifications of that fact, "and this Vandross. He understood its words?"
"Yes," Acheu replied, and his face was turning far paler than earlier. The other Paterons were shaking their heads in concern. All knew what this suggested. None had the courage to say it out loud.
"You are absolutely certain of this?"
"Yes, Patermaster," Acheu admitted, "And I am now shamed to realize this only now. I should have realized it then and there. I should not have allowed the dragon to escape."
"Acheu.. Acheu.. Acheu..." the Patermaster shook his head and planted one hand on the Pateron's cheek, "That was no mere green dragon." Acheu nodded, his eyes wet with tears now at having realized the immensity of his failure. He had not only shamed the Febhed with his actions. He had shamed the Patermaster, being one of his very chosen.
"That dragon," the Patermaster alone could say what the rest feared to speak aloud, "is the one the Febhed have been waiting for, for a very, very, very long time."