Prologue: Gates of Stone

Moons Ascendant
Cuthberta Eoselunday

Tiberio's Vision

The waking world dims, like the lights darkening on a stage before a performance. A single shaft of light erupts on stage and there, standing before you, as has happened many times, is a vision of Apollo.

He holds a bolt of energy in his hand. Lightning lashes out all around him violently, ripping at his skin, searing it in angry black and red wounds that heal almost quickly as they are formed. He stares at it, his face a mask of sadness and pain.

A raven flaps and caws down from the rafters above. It cuts his cheek as it grabs the lightning from Apollo’s hand in its claws and begins to fly towards the shaft of light. The cheek heals. Apollo sighs.

The lightning continues to crackle and thrash angrily, but it inflicts no wounds on the Raven. The lightning not only envelopes the omen bird, but seems to imbue its form, melding together with it impossibly before they are both lost in the brightening shaft.

Apollo looks on. His face shines a hard and solemn gold. The God of Sun and Music looks tired. He looks old.

He unstraps a lyre of magnificent quality he had hanging over his shoulder. He strums the lyre once or twice, but no music comes forth, he looks at you briefly, then tunes it and strums it again.

A voice issues forth form the lyre of such lilting and musical beauty, it feels you with warmth and peace even before you hear, let alone begin to comprehend, the words it gently sings, adagio,

Alexandro lives,” strum, “A slave,” strum, “In Jamahyria Theona’la,” strum “In a city called Bastion.”

A pause, an adjustment, and he continues,

Strum, “The Heavens are embroiled,” sharply. Strum, “Mortal affairs,” strum, “Are secondary,” strum, “But I believe,” strum, “They will determine,” strum “The fate of us all.”

A note of agitato,

Strum “The Grey Eyed Goddess,” strum, “Disagrees,” a flat note. Strum, “She would punish me greatly,” strum, “For this breach.” Strum, “I cannot speak to priests,” a flat note. Strum, “Lest she discover.”

A pause, then religioso,

My sister hunts,” strum, “the One,” an off note, deliberate but sour. Strum, “She will listen,” strum, “To Alexandro,” strum, “For he is a child,” strum, “And has suffered greatly,” strum, “But you must,” strum, “Play the song,” strum, “He will speak.”

And the finale swells,

Strum, “Tell her,” strum, “To come home,” strum, “For I need her help,” strum, “As once I did,” strum “To come to be.”

His pause lengthens and the lyrics of his soft song hang around you like sparkling crystals.

The light grows brighter still and the God of the Sun covers his eyes with his hands as though he is about to receive a blow.

Eventually, the light consumes him as well as all else around you. The brightness is overpowering. Nothing else exists.

You hear someone cough. A table creaks. You are staring at the magically lit stage light shining on you. The room is filled with the expectant stares of your audience. They are waiting for you to do something.

Tiberio weeps. Tears fall upon his lyre.

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