[THE HINTERLANDS NEAR THE SOULWELL; MAY 08, 2017 (WR)]
A Gnome stepped out from the Soulwell, blue flesh limned by pale moonlight. After several breathless strides, he collapsed unto his knees among the roots and the earth.
“I’ve returned.” His ragged fingers dug into gravel and dirt. “Even from death, I return! Is there no end to this torment?”
He was whole. His clothes, the beads around his body and even his blades – all were wrought anew by the Soulwell’s eldritch energies upon his reincarnation. Only the livid crossing scars upon his face remained of his past life and they remained there in his every incarnation, joining beneath his right eye – the eye that watched his children fall to a light-wrought blade.
He remembered who he was, even if his gods already forgot him*. No longer a sentinel, no longer a parent, no longer a Priest – now nothing but the whisper of a whisper, an echo of an echo.
“…Memnocrathes…” The Entity rasped as it stepped around him. Its voice was as merciful as a butcher’s blade.
The Gnome remembered what he was. And what the Sun Elves did to his comrades and to his children, the Entity did to his faith. It was nothing but dust and ashes now, the bitter dregs of a once-flowing chalice.
“You did this!” He stared up at it, his hands curling into fists. “You made me do all of this! Every tenet, every code – broken, ruined, shattered! You even made me bring you to this gods-damned Soulwell!”
“Little thoughtling…” it rasped as its towering shadow blotted the moon’s light from his form. “The Orrery…”
He remembered what it wanted him to do now and the rage found him again, filling the spaces where faith had dwelt. His power was a tiny spark when compared to the thunder storm that was the entity, but he had weeks of torment to scheme and plot. The Gnome rose slowly, hands closing around the handle of a dagger in his belt. It was only a memory of a blade, but it was a hateful recollection from when the Solari first struck at Freehold long ago. In the mind of a Gnome, even thoughts were deadly.
“It’s gone, the Orrery. It’s her toy now – to bend or break as she chooses”
“I already knew, Thoughtling” It glowered at first, but then its light softened into cold mirth. One of its hands flexed bloody fingers. “Its power flows to me in rivulets…yet it pales when compared to the essence I wrest from the fallen.”
“But I now know this ‘Freehold’. I know that there is nothing here that can stop me — I have searched the memories and I know this to be truth. My purpose will be fulfilled — my duty will continue. All thought, all memory will be taken and archived until the Gods’ return”
“THE GODS ARE DEAD, ZAKARIEL!” Memnocrathes screamed and forest fell quiet to his voice. “They will never return and I won’t be your toy or Fate’s any longer!”
With every last ounce of his strength, he lunged at Zakariel and buried the Archon-bane dagger into its chest. But his foe flinched only slightly when the blade was driven home. With a single motion of its bloodied hand, it broke the Gnome’s arm and tore the dagger from its flesh.
The Entity’s wings fluttered behind it as it strode forth and grasped the Gnome by his skull to bear him violently unto the earth. Zakariel’s grip tightened as it spoke and Memnocrathes’ vain flailings slackened into an eventual stillness.
“Little Thoughtling, I have seen the raising of the seals and the falling of the Daemon. I have sifted through the memories of thousands upon thousands — even warping the thoughts of a broken Aethereal.
Know then this — that your blasphemy is not new. Your rebellion is not novel. Your weaponry, all of it, in its futility, means nothing to the Archonis Celestia. I am one of the Gods’ true servitors, not some upjumped Aelfan!
And in the Archive I keep for them, you will not even be a footnote!”
When the Entity removed its hand from the Gnome’s face, his eyes saw nothing and there were only bloody wounds where his gems – his Kha – had been.
From amidst the shadows of the forest around the Soulwell, dozens of cross-scarred Gnomes followed Zakariel silently, blood still dribbling from the holes in their faces.
*A curse among the Servitors of the True Keepers – “May They forget you”
OOG Clarify: Every character that has ever performed Research or used the Analyze Item skill on the Enigmatic Orrery or otherwise Attuned themselves to it receives this as a vision as a very vivid dream Thursday night (May 11, 2017). These characters are aware of Memnocrathes’ surface thoughts and his final actions before his attack upon the Entity, they are even aware of the time of this occurrence.