I am very far behind already, but the prologue to Torrek’s Slumber is done!
The old being leaned back and sighed, his eyes flitting over the treetops below him, bathing in the last light of the dying day. He could feel the life seeping out of his body, and with it went the source of power. He bid farewell to the microorganisms departing his ailing shell, and wished them well in whatever ventures lay yet to come. The rock beneath him was covered in dense moss that cushioned his aching bones, and would provide his tenants with a most suitable place to rest.
In the distance, towards the setting star of the planet Tal’kan, a thin stream of smoke crossed the sky as the inhabitants of the distant village of Mantuun lit the communal fire in the town square. The old being’s lips curled upwards in a friendly smile as he imagined the scene: families from across the village gathered around the fire, the product of a long day of labor. The day’s catch would be roasted over the open flames, and the young men and women would boast of their daring feats in catching this yarin or that urynx, while the elders told tales of ancient glory to the children who would gather around them.
It was a good life for all. The Ittek peoples took from Tal’kan only what they needed to survive, and lived long, full lives with almost no worldly possessions. They respected Tal’kan and paid him his dues, and Tal’kan allowed them to live peacefully upon his skin. It all worked.
Deep within his failing heart, the old being knew that this harmony was not eternal. It was in the nature of any being with sentient intelligence and will to try to improve his material lot, and give himself more than he needed. And with that, came waste. And with waste came pollution. And with enough pollution – the slumbering giant would awaken.
It had happened before; a few isolated villages had managed to regain aspects of their technology, lost long ago in a terrible disaster. Three of these villages had risen during the being’s own lifetime, and he had been forced to destroy them all – man, woman, and child.
It was a hard task to bear, and the destruction of those villages – still so innocent, and yet full of such dangerous potential – had been the worst moments of the old being’s long life. But the Ittek were learning, and more and more villages were beginning to cluster together, forming what came very close to resembling cities, and the development of disturbing levels of technology in some of the larger clusters was becoming a more and more frequent occurrence.
Genocide on a massive scale would soon become necessary to hold the Ittek in restraint. They could not be allowed to venture beyond the continent of Itteros, and they could not disturb Tal’kan’s body to any great extent. Were his Order powerful enough, it would have been far easier to merely wipe the Ittek off the face of the planet and leave it at that. Even if the Order was that powerful, however, the old being could never have brought himself to do it. All life was sacred; the Order had taught him that. It was a cruel joke played by the Elders that all life also seemed hell-bent on destroying all that was not their kind.
The tendrils of smoke began to thicken, and the old being smiled once more, his dark thoughts broken. Still, that day was long off. It would certainly be longer off than his body would last.
Footsteps sounded on the path behind him, leading up to the ledge upon which the old being sat. A figure with dark skin and a growing black beard, clad in the traditional green and yellow cloak of the Order, rushed about the bend in the Cliffside path.
“Beastheart,” the old being said calmly. The newcomer stopped beside the being and knelt.
“I came when I felt your tor leaving you.”
“Very good, very good,” the old being said. The old being himself looked much like the younger one kneeling beside him, save with even darker skin and a long, flowing beard of glistening silver. “Tell me, what do you see out in the distance?”
The younger being turned. “Smoke, master. From the village of Mantuun. Likely preparing their meal for the evening. They are harmless.”
The old being coughed. “Yes, that is what you see. But there is more, Beastheart. There is life there. The souls that created the fire that gives off that smoke are no less important than yours, or mine, or those of the trees that surround us. Remember that always, Beastheart. For too long has the Order sneered at the Ittek living their humble lives under the light of Tal’kan’s star. They may have the dark potential in their souls to destroy this world, but until that potential is realized, they are more innocent than we are. Always remember that.”
“I will,” promised the younger being. He looked troubled. “Are you dying, master?”
“Passing on,” the older being replied. He smiled. “It’s about time, too. I have watched over the Order for three dateyns. I have seen those I love grow old and die around me, while I live on always. It is a cursed life, this long one that chose me. And now, Beastheart, it has chosen you. The tor have spoken. You shall lead the Order when I am gone.”
The young being looked speechless. “But master, surely there is a better-”
“There are none better, Beastheart,” the old being continued. “You understand the true goal of our Order better than any other. We are to keep the slumbering giant asleep, and not let him wake until the time is right. We are to protect Tal’kan and ensure that it is not wounded. We are to use whatever means necessary to keep the spirit of the planet safe, and to protect those creatures that cannot protect themselves from the dangers of civilization. The dangers of civilization, Beastheart – not from civilization itself. The Order, I fear, has lost the true meaning of those words over time…”
There was silence for a few moments. “Before my tor pass onto you, Beastheart, there are secrets that you must know. Things that only the warden of the Order can ever know.
“For all is not what it seems.”