By Alicia Steen
You are not sure why you’re here, or even how exactly you ended up in this dark round room. A bit of natural curiosity, some general direction from Sranus, and now you find yourself within Arien, Jeshrun’s ancient fortress. Arien is said to guard all secrets, but her stone walls have opened up for you.
No time to contemplate that now. You have asked to see the ancient past, and now Arien will answer. Magic of all colors swirls around you, lighting the otherwise dim room. It takes form and becomes the fields of Jeshrun, though slightly brighter than those you traveled through to get here. The image accelerates; you are flying through the green rolling hills as the magic speaks.
“Long ago, when the worlds were young, the Ancient of Days walked among men. In that time before darkness men knew no fear, for none stood against the Ancient of Days and his Commander. Then it came to pass that one of his four generals learned pride and sought to lay claim to the title of strongest. He deceived others of his kind, initiating a war.”
The image changes to a fierce battle fought on the ground, in it, and above it. Then the ground shakes horribly, becoming like a stormy sea. The waves freeze at their peak, and what once was a rolling plain is now a mountain range. The armies take notice, but not of the shaking, rather of a brilliantly glowing figure behind it.
“The Ancient of Days entered the battle and the heavens shook. The earth rumbled beneath his footsteps, and the proud general learned fear. The Commander cast the general from the presence of the Ancient of Days: He Who is Fear.
“The general looked where he had been cast, and saw the sons of men, beloved by the Ancient of Days. He saw they had been given free will, so that they might choose whom they will serve. ‘He Who is Fear has made an error,’ the general determined. ‘I will separate men from his presence and show that my will is strongest.’”
The image takes you to the highest of the mountains, where the bright figure from before stands surveying the land. You cannot see his expression, as his back is facing you, but the magic flowing around him does not seem as terrible as before.
“Through trickery and deceit darkness spread to cover the worlds, even the hearts of men. As evil deeds multiplied the general earned his new name: The Dark Prince. The Ancient of Days surveyed the worlds, and said, ‘If I remain here, my presence will destroy all living things, for there are none and nothing not tainted by darkness.’
“So the Ancient of Days left the worlds of men, but not before speaking a promise: one day his Commander would return and reveal to men the way out of darkness. Until then, none would see his face, but his voice would always be heard as whispers on the wind. As a sign of his promise, the Ancient of Days appointed twelve Lords of Magic to govern the creatures and represent His power to men.”
The figure leaves the mountain, entering the air and disappearing into the horizon. The magic surrounding him remains. You stare at the gentle glow as it scatters on the wind. The image fades along with it.
“That can’t be all,” you protest. “I still have so many questions. There’s more to tell isn’t there?” Ignoring your protest, the magic that had been the image flows back to the stone walls of the round room. Just as the last bit fades away, Arien speaks once more.
“It came to pass in the land of Jeshrun that some darkness took form and became shadow, an ever-thickening fog.”
With that lone sentence Arien returns to silence, leaving you to ponder.