I cannot explain why I returned to that abhorred site this eve.
Suffice it to say, the image of the burning celestial stone had haunted me since I left it
two nights ago. I could not sleep, knowing I slept beneath the same sky that had spawned
that vile rock. Whenever I closed my eyes, attempting to catch a few minutes rest under
the folds of the gypsy tent where I had collapsed the night before, I saw the glowing
meteorite. Fear wracked my body, weak and weary from lack of sleep. I had not touched a
bite of food since the evening I first spied the streak of fire passing over Minoc.
And yet the evening came, the appointed time. The Seer had told his
followers to reconvene at the site where the meteorite had hit ground, to divine its
secrets, to crack its crimson shell.
I could not say why the image of the stone troubled me so, why it
haunted my every waking hour - but I knew, nay, I felt, with every fibre of my being, that
I would not rest again without discovering what secrets the celestial stone kept hidden
within its burning armour.
The journey from Minoc seemed to pass in mere minutes, so absorbed
was I with my ultimate goal. Soon enough, I heard the clamor of what appeared to be a
sizeable army gathered at the site. And there, in their midst, stood the Seer, Mythos, and
his haggard friend, Darius the Astronomer. As I pushed my way through the crowd, I could
hear Darius in what amounted to a frenzy of excitement, regaling the splendor of the
meteorite. Een Mythos seemed taken aback by the intensity of Darius agitation.
The Astronomer spoke of cracking open the stone, indeed, it seems he had a strange mixture
of chemicals already prepared for that very purpose.
Before any question could be put to him, however, a cry was heard
from the edge of the crowd. A group of Ratmen approached the site at a steady pace. Noble
warriors did press forward to meet their assault, but this was no mindless band of
creatures. Their leader cried out to the crowd in his abnormal tongue, asserting that he
had come to claim the meteorite for his people, that it had fallen in their land and was,
by rights, theirs to carry back to their secret cache. The assembled warriors seemed to
have little patience for the furry beast, and they instantly struck at him, their swords
and maces glowing in the light from the smoldering meteorite.
The initial battle did not last long the ratmen had too few
in their number, and our human army, far too many. Their leader chirped and twittered,
swearing revenge upon the humans who bit at his heels before he disappeared into the
Attention was focused back upon Darius and his words. The Astronomer
bathed the meteorite in the elixir he had concocted, speaking of a field of energy that
protected the stone from harm. With Darius potent mixture sizzling and spitting from
the heat of the meteorite, the mad Astronomer quickly asked the assembled mages to work
their magicks upon the stone. Cries of An Ort filled the air, mystical
energies flying out to encircle the stone. A flash of light blinded all nearby and
when their vision cleared, the stone had broken, revealing at last its dark secret.
I spied the ebon orb before the crowd pressed too close. So black it
seemed, indeed, it seemed to pull any surrounding light into itself. Twas all I was
able to see. As men pressed closed to reach for the stone, Darius himself snatched it up,
speaking in crazed riddles about procuring the key he had so long sought.
The Seer took his companion aside, parting the crowd as best they could, and began to
plead with him to bring back news of the stone as quickly as he could. The Astronomer
shrugged off the questions put to him, so enamoured was he with his new find. I stepped
forward to interrogate the man myself, but he disappeared before I could reach him.
I suddenly felt een more weary than before, empty and
lifeless, a pure void, mirroring the image of the black orb. For a moment I thought of
approaching the Seer with my questions, but then the screeching cries of ratmen filled the
edges of the forest, and I knew the battle had returned to this site. Quickly I gathered
my thoughts and headed back towards Minoc. Id had enough of that loathsome stone,
enough to last a lifetime.
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Monday, December 21st 1998