Before the Endless #17 – Endless Legend

The group retrieved a few of the torches from the sconses, pulled the hostage further back and stood back, leaving Blagoje alone next to the wall. Zuzana nodded at him, and the he swung the maul, smashing a hole through the crystal. Beyond the maul breaking the crystal, there was no noise or motion, but everyone still cowered, waiting for signs of anything activating. When again nothing happened, the group slowly went over to the new hole, peering through into the remainder of the chamber beyond.

Zuzanas suspicions had been correct; the rest of the chamber followed the curvature of this side, making for a cavernous chamber beyond the crystal wall. Excepting the floor, which was absent further in. The chamber must continue further into the mountain or back onto the surface, for a significant amount of wind was rushing through the opening in the wall, bringing with it the scents of soot and dirt. But that was where normality ended in the chamber beyond. A sphere of various elements was floating in the middle of the chamber. A mound of rock and dirt floated next to a body of pure water. Opposite the floating water was a conflagration of red and orange flames. The final part was a storm, its fierce winds flying about the chamber. None of the parts seemed to really touch the others; the water, as far as they could see over the distance, was completely clear of sediment, and the flames seemed undisturbed by the gales whipping back and forth immediately next to it. Circling all of these were great bands of Dust surrounding the sphere, but like the elements that it was composed of, it bore no stain or impurity.

Silence had fallen over the group as they each took in what they had found.

At first, from the void, came the shape.

The voice had not been loud but had carried easily through the chamber. All but Velabahleke swivelled in place, scanning the room for signs of the newcomer.

Within that shape, continents rose up from the seas…

…And within those continents, the regions were created.

The curious porcelain-skin of the Cultist was glowing with gold, the seams of its armour flowing with Dust. Whatever it was saying, the voice was clearly coming from it

“Why is that thing talking now?” Anushka growled, her spear appearing in her hands.

Then the regions were covered by desert, and forest, and grassland…

And by hills and mountains that rose up to give my face a form…

…And the lands grew wetter or drier as the rivers carved their way.

A noise behind Zuzana made her turn in place again. On the wall, the great masks were also now glowing with Dust, and all of them but one bore marks of a further element. The mask with the soot marks now sparkled with red embers, looking as if it might burst into flame at any moment. It took her a moment before she identified the source of the noise. Velabahleke was changing; his tattoos had vanished, replaced with what seemed like small rivers of pure water flowing across his dark skin. As he looked towards her, she saw his eyes had become small orbs of water as well.

From beneath the crust of my skin precious resources thrust up.

“I’ll silence it. I’m not even sure why we brought it.” Varuns voice sounded strange behind her, as if he was talking through a great gale. She recoiled from the horrible sight of Velabahleke, bumping into a large shape that could only be Blagoje. His skin felt rough against hers, like touching dry dirt.

Lesser species as well evolved and ranged across me…

…And as all of these lived and grew and died and they left their traces.

There was a clatter of metal behind her. Zuzana barely dared look behind, and almost instantly regretted it. Anushkas titanium spear was on the ground, and the Ardent woman was staring at her hands, scratching at her scars as they burst into flame, rapidly changing Anushkas form into one of pure fire.

Lastly, for my children, I sowed places where my bounties could be easily reaped:

Bounties in minerals, in magics, in the wealth of the soil…

…Only then, were my children seeded upon it.

Blagoje seemed as uncertain as she, backing away from the others and their transformations, heedless of the rocky texture his skin was taking on. His already-impressive form was growing as his flesh turned to rock, his cries of terror echoing through the chamber like a rockslide.

And then nothing remained but to wait, to hope.

The chamber was now filled with the transforming bodies or her comrades, their screams filling the air. Zuzana looked over to Varun who had ascended, his fading legs surrounded by a tornado-gale and a noise like a storm as he too began screaming at the sight of his new form.

So the void became the shape…

…And the shape became the land…

…And the land became rich…

…And all of that is me.

A moment passed, and the chamber fell silent. Her comrades had ceased their screams, and as one had turned to look at her, their eyes transformed into orbs of fire, water, pure iron and thunderclouds. She knew not what to do or how to react, and then they shifted their gaze, looking at something behind her.

Auriga.

The masks on the wall had vanished, all but one. The mask free of any elemental signs was left, bands of purest Dust encircling it and filling its eyes. She need see no mortal eye to know the creature inhabiting the mask was looking at her. She heard a voice in her mind. Zuzana did not understand the tongue, but somehow her mind deciphered it instantly.

Skoros.

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