That For Which They Prepare

By Nick Kristof and Ryan St.

Spoken by one about to die:

Spoken by one about to die:

I did as instructed.

Following the death announcement of Harred Harim, I fasted the required time. I prayed as the dolcents instruct and conducted the rituals. The whole of the populace was there; it was seen by all. As is written, his trophies were shown to the people. And there was no doubt of the truth of his death. That he was consumed by the Holy and Most Sacred Maw, drinking from the Tormaline Goblet, was assured.

Knowing then that I would have already been dead if discovered, I climbed to the highest tower in the gardens and waited for the time of the Setting. At that time, when the sun was half in the sky and half behind mountain, I took the gem from its pouch and swallowed it.

I immediately doubled over in agony and gagged. It felt as if the stone itself clawed at my gut. I fought the urge to retch the stone and when the pain passed I looked up to see him standing before me.

"It is only because I will be dead soon that I share this with you. It is also why I cannot know your name, nor your voice, nor your face. Once I am consumed, Dzurak will know your name, and face, and he will destroy you, for knowing these things.

The Living Gods are, were, warriors, taught by Kontokko in the arts of the Dobrei Th'Hii. He taught them in preparation for the Coming of the Shug-Zazhul, which he believed to be imminent. Now, 2,000 years later, it seems that he was wrong. And yet, they train. Long after he is dead, killed at the hands of Abross, they train. Despite their numbers dwindling, despite their petty wars, despite their insanity, and illness, and fratricide, despite the pain that they have wrought across the world, and the thousands, and thousand-thousands souls that they have consumed, they train for this coming. For that is what they were taught to do.

Of the Shug-Zazhul, I cannot tell you much. For I do not know it. In the 218 years that I served as High Consort to Dzurak, I only heard that name spoken three times—twice while he gibbered in deepest insanity and once while in counsel with Kemmak. And Kemmak, knowing that I overheard, was enraged. Only due to the mercy of Dzurak was I spared.

Now to you the task falls. To ancient cities must you travel, to learn of the Shug-Zazhul. But beware the name. Speak it only to those whose oaths have been sworn, whose rituals are correct."

And the vision was ended, and I gagged and choked and retched the Telling Stone onto the ground in front of me. It is here, at my belt, in the pouch in which I first found it, eleven years ago, just before the death of Harred Harim.