Lights in the sky
So these crazy dwarves. They apparently have a feast every so often in which they celebrate good fortune, their new gems, and generally get drunk. Sounds like every other night to me.
Well, there is one special thing that they do. Apparently they have these rods suspended in mid-air and they put their choicest gems on them. It is a great honor to have one's gems placed on these rods. Now, these rods are suspended high in the air. Usually, they have a dwarven mage take care of this arrangement. Well, I came across him. And man was I sorry.
So this dwarf, who wouldn't give his name, I'll just call him Mage, was looking rather puzzled. So I went up and asked if he needed help. I knew nothing about what he was up to. Maybe he forgot where he lived. He was really old looking, hobbled with a gnarly gray staff. I am not sure which was more wrinkly.
Anyway, he said that he had to change the gems. Me not know what he was talking about. He pointed up and I saw the gems sparkle. There were seven of them. I then looked down and saw he had seven gems in his hand. He whispered, "Fallos shola thurem". Nothing happened. He said a couple of other things. One time the gems faintly glowed. But nothing happened.
He sighed. "It is my responsibility to hang these gems. I used to do it all the time. Now I cannot. And I will be shamed, my voice taken from the council, in my age. But I still have insight, if not power." He said this to himself. I cleared my throat. He looked at me, deeply. He said, "Will you help me? I don't trust any of the dwarves. They have lust in their heart and many are those who would see me fall. I need an outsider."
Me puffed up proudly, and said "I serve Kord and his strength flows through my veins to do whatever needs to be done. What must I do?". He smiled gently, "Yes, I have heard of Kord. He is a fine god. Yes, you can do this. Just go to each rod and remove the current gem from it encasement and put this one in." He explained about its significance.
"Not a problem. Let's see, I can walk on air. Kord, grant me the power...oh, I can't do that today. How's tomorrow for you?"
The man shook his head. "It must be done by morning or else. And no one must see you." He handed the gems to me. "When done, put the other gems in the gem repository across the way. Here, you may find these useful." And he handed me a rope and a belt.
Well, I knew that few were around late at night. And so I took the rope and wore the belt. I felt stronger. And late at night when all but a few sentries were asleep, I began. The rope was a fine rope. It snaked itself up to the first rod, tied itself off. I climbed up the rope, pried off the first gem and put in a new one. Each gem was of a different color, so I placed like colors with like colors. I then proceeded to do that with the others. Each time, it got tougher to replace the gems. But I managed the four outer ones.
There were three that were clustered together. I roped up to one of them and then I had the rope wrap around the other two and tied the end to myself, there was plenty left. So I began to work on the final three. They were absolutely brilliant gems, an emerald, a diamond, and a sapphire. They shone like none others. The ones they were replacing looked dull and faded. But I tried to pry open the encasements. No luck. I decided to look for magical surroundings, and yes, they were encased in magic. So I dispelled the magic on the encasements. I was able to replace two of the last. And then I heard it. I turned and saw nothing, but I could feel its breath upon my neck.
It whispered, "What are you, little one?" I not little, I said so. It cackled. "You are little, little of spirit, of faith. Your strength is of nothing." And then I felt a whoosh followed by a blow the likes of which I had never felt before. And I flew. I flew, but I was tied to the rope. I swung, crazily, the world, turning around me. I actually swung down and then came back to one of the rods, the last rod I needed. I grabbed it.
"Why do you persist, little one? I am going to feast off of you. It has been so long."
I felt fear, but I whispered back, "I will best you. This must be done for the old dwarf. I will not disgrace my lord by failing in my word." As I hung there, I could feel it run its claws down my back. Doing my best to concentrate, I asked Kord, "Protect me from this evil creature." And I could fee the warmth run through me of his gentle strength. But the creature persisted.
I heard laughter. "I am not evil, little one. I am a guardian and I prey off of those of lesser hearts. When fear is near, I feast off of it. Like I will do to you."
"Kord, give me your strength to not know fear, to be inspired by all the deeds done in your name, and all the deeds to be done." And I could see visions, visions of so many Kordian missionaries, fighting their way through the evils of the world, besting themselves against other. And I felt strong and my fear fled.
"Creature, I have no fear. Come feast off my heart, if you will. But I think you will find that your dinner is gone."
"We shall see." And I heard another whoosh, and I could feel it digging at my chest. I reached out, felt nothing. It was not there, but it was going into me. The pain was excruciating, but I did not call out, I did not let go. I held my air, dangling high above, with one gem left to go.
With great force, I turned and reached out for the last gem. I opened it, took out the old gem, and heard a wail as I looked down and saw blood rupturing from my chest. I felt dizzy. The rod was electrifying me, the rope untied itself and fell. I was high above, nearly out, but with my last bit of strength, I put in the last gem. I heard a click and saw in my haze that the gems were humming.
"Well met. I leave hungry, but am pleased."
Me could barely hold on. "Kord, heal my wounds. Please." And at that moment, my grip slipped and I fell. I could feel the surge from Kord, with my strength and health returning, but then I fell, and fell. I hit the ground, broken. I could feel myself near death, but I tough. Sure, anyone else would be out, but not me, not Mord. I could not heal anymore, drained of it all. I bandaged myself and hobbled to deposit the gems. I must finish this so that none know. I gathered the rope and dumped the gems into the place.
Then I crawled a bit of a distance, and collapsed. I was awoken with the bright light of dawn. This was odd since, well, we were underground. But the gems blazed, like I had never seen anything of its like before. I felt my strength return, I was healed again.
Standing up, I saw the dwarves come out and marvel. I saw A Brick standing there dumbfounded. I asked him about the gems, pretending I knew nothing. I get a lot of practice knowing nothing, easy to fake.
He turned to me, "These gems, there are tales that in days past, they would inspire and help all the dwarves in these lands. But that was long ago. None have been able to change them in centuries, the last being a dwarven wizard of mighty power and cunning. His gnarled staff was quite the sight--I have seen it in the catacombs. This, this is a miracle. Look at my people, look at them. They shine in this rainbow of gemlight. Just in time, as the legends go. Upon the Feast of Carrots, the strength of the people shall be renewed. And so it has. Blessed are these days."
I was confused, did not the old man say he used to do this? Something odd was going on.
Mords of Wisodm: Never offer your heart to a hungry creature.