Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Unbearable Lightness

Schaeffer screamed.

The light was everywhere. It was everything. It was tearing through him, impaling him on brilliant shafts. His auric armour was being ripped away, taking hanks of hair and skin with it.

Around him, scintillating figures hammered at his golden guards, smashing them apart with hammers of pure white energy. The sky, if it was a sky, was painful to see. And the clouds of tidal magic that scudded underfoot reflected that same searing light.

The Pharoah was an impossibly vast figure, somehow both as bright as the midday sun and dark as its eclipsed corona at once. He seemed to flicker, although the flickers brought no shadow. He brought light to the world, he was the world. Schaeffer cowered at his annihiliating presence

And then he was gone.

Burnt-out yellow light replaced the glorious white. Smouldering wisps of tortured gold smeared the wind. Although now, it was more like a vault, closing in and replacing the kaleidoscopic sky. The warriors had vanished.

What had happened?

Had the Deliverance Engine failed in some way? All that power, had it been too much for the Pharoah to command after all? Was he burned and blasted beyond discovery?

Or had they closed the gates after all?

Either way, Schaeffer lived, and he hadn't expected that. Hopefully, the world had survived as well. He staggered upright, tried to take in something of his surroundings.

Metal. His hands touched metal, smooth blocks of it still warm to the touch. He winced, his skin was missing in places, raw in the rest. Sultry golden embers shimmered along the walls of what he now realised was a tunnel. An endless tunnel, stretching off into darkness.

Somewhere behind him, something sniffed. Something with claws and padded feet, he thought. Something hungry.

Something terrible.

No, the gates weren't closed. Perhaps he wasn't alive, either. Perhaps his experiment had failed, his attempt to save the world had failed, and this was all that was left.

He began to run.


The Pharoah held the tiny loop up to the light. You could, if you squinted, just see the filigreed figure of the man pursued by hounds. But it was hard to be sure.

So. Schaeffer was dealt with, the Deliverance Engine harnessed. More power crackled through him now than he'd ever achieved with the rituals and observances prescribed by the Light College.

Now, at last, his work could begin.

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