Shadow in the Wake
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Written by Wilt                                                                                                                            

I am dying.

Long ago did I know this; I had begun to slow in my age, and many times I would feel an aching that ran rampant within my core. My mind would wander and become hazy. Great periods of time would lapse without my knowing. I would travel between the points of light in what seemed to be a matter of minutes, when I knew that truly it had been longer. I was becoming old, an honor my kind hold very dear to them. With my end would come new beginnings. This would give my life meaning.

I did not want to die. I do not believe any do - to be robbed from the sights of all things for the purpose of others seemed, to me, an honor I did not want to have. I was content with my life in the expanse. I enjoyed encountering new places and beings, each with their own stories. I was content with this, but my body was not. It was prepared to leave me, whether my mind was ready to part with it or not.

Despite what I felt, I knew it was time to find a place to lie. I was a bumbling elder. My presence would serve only as a hindrance to my kind and their own journeys through the expanse. As is customary of my kind, I would find a plane to lie, and I would lie there until my time had passed. Only then would new beginnings come from my end, and I knew I would be a blessing upon the plane I perished in.

I looked for some time, perhaps longer than most of my kind. While I was giving up the adventures that came with traveling the expanse, I did not want to spend my end staring into a plane of death and desolation. My time was spent searching for a land that would be beautiful; one that would provide much entertainment for my burden and I once my time had come. I sought new experiences that would unfold before my eyes. But it was a difficult journey, and I did not believe that I would find a place for my end. I closed my eyes, and hoped for my future.

When my eyes had opened again, I was somewhere new. Time had once again passed without my control, and I was in a new cluster of planes, full of many intriguing but dead territories. I passed by two massive planes of wind and color, both equally beautiful and marvelous, but unsuitable for myself or my burden. I passed through a field of debris, occasionally bouncing off my exterior in a painful but unavoidable path of rotation. I passed a plane of rich red, and with the lines I knew life had once been here. I wept for the beauty that was lost there, in a time long before my presence.

That was when I saw it - a plane of rich blues, greens, and tans, with wisps of white floating around in a shifting cocoon of movement. This land was full of many lives, and what I knew would be many great experiences. This would be my horizon until my end, and would the home of my burden. This place would grow around me as I withered within it, and I knew that my presence would be one of great significance to those who lived here. I had found my land, and gently did I make my descent into the blue.

Later I would learn the natives would one day call this place Earth. I was fond of this name, and I knew that my burden would be, too, when their time had come.

A rumble within me brings my mind out of history long-passed. The darkness before my eyes is still, and the ringing in my ears reminds me that my time is nearing.

Bells rang throughout the city, alerting the citizenry that it was time. The streets quickly filled with Tentaboins, each heading towards the Announcement Hall. Two Castmen finished dressing the stage with the rich blues of ulcarans as a crowd began to form. The expectant peoples paced quickly through the city, the pitter-patter of their steps and the echo of their voices resounding through every building and alleyway. Through every arch way and down every stone-lined street they marched towards the Hall, a procession of many legs and voices.

The crowd grew in size outside, the collective murmurs filling the air. An assembly had been called today by none other than City Head Hervult himself. Presence was mandatory, an honor bestowed only for days of worship. As armed forces patrolled the streets, checking each house for anybody bold or blasphemous enough to skip, those in the crowd began to wonder at the significance of the assembly. Each face was pointed towards the looming Announcement Hall and its accompanying empty podium. A Castman had told them the announcement would be soon. This was an hour ago, and the crowd had grown anxious. Some whispered it was a call for war with the city of Hirakeroek, in the neighboring cavern. Others thought it was of religious significance: that the Great Deliverance was upon them.

Only one man this day knew the truth. Diviner and Castman Anzak stood inside, nervously glancing at the crowd from a window. He knew the news he held was blasphemy. He knew the crowd would panic. He would have, too, had he been out there. He hardly believed in his own news, and he desperately wished it wasn't true, but the facts didn't lie. Anzak knew that. And he hated it.

He was nervously double-checking his notes and his speech when he heard City Head Astair take to the podium. A hush fell over the crowd as he towered over them. He, too, was anxious to hear the announcement. His Graciousness Diviner Artem had sent word to the City Head, the call for the announcement scribed in rich, waxy velvet and porous whitestone - such luxuries only saved for the most significant of matters.

City Head Hervult cleared his throat, smiled broadly, and began to speak to the crowd. "My fellow citizens of Tentaboe, I call you here on this most important of days. His Graciousness Diviner Artem has sent a caravan of holymen here today, and to all connecting cities and caverns, to share this news." He turned toward the Announcement Hall, and all eyes followed his.

"Diviner Anzak, if you'd please join me on the stage?"

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