While we pass the time until we reveal the indentity of our newest party-member, it’s time for the next installment of our three-part Skald short-story: “The Silver-Dancer”.
If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend you read Part 1 before you leave the flesh-world behind and delve into the abyss of the silver-scape.
While you guys dig into the “Skaldiverse”, I’m hard at work doing some cool stuff with the skald animation system. I need the system to be a bit more flexible so I can more easily add more costumes and customization options to human models as well as richer animations (for combat etc). The trick here is doing a bit of skeletal animation – only with tiny little sprites. Rest assured: You’ll be seeing plenty of it soon.
Have a great day and enjoy the story!
Every step was painful for the Magos. The dais might as well have been a mountain. “Curse this stranger. ‘Historian’ he calls himself!” but the magos saw through him. His very presence in the resonance-chamber was sacrilege. But there were some Courts that could not be ignored. “Mine is the will of the Princeps” he had said. Arrogant fool. These rituals were as old as the Empire itself. Perhaps… perhaps even older.
The magos lowered his aching body into the thick, oily fluid of the sarcophagus. It was lukewarm and thick as it greedily accepted his broken frame. Letting himself sink in, the magos tried to relax and give himself over to the embrace but something was wrong. There was a taint in his mind. Something he had not felt for a very long time: Fear. The High Master would have heard by now and no doubt they were on their way to stop this transgression. He would have to bide for time!
He had known why the HISTORIAN had come the moment he had seen him. He had prayed to be wrong but that was folly: Magi of Auspice were never wrong. The HISTORIAN had, of course, come for the glow.
The pulsating, alien shimmer in the Reticulum had caught his attention a few weeks ago. At first it was naught but the faintest hint of color that he could only just make out in the corner of his mind’s eye when he “danced”. Since then, it had grown significantly. Now it loomed in the silver-scape, sickly and eldritch. Yet he had not reported it. Truth be told, he was terrified of it.
His mind left the buoyant pile of flesh suspended in the sarcophagus. First came the sharp drop as his flesh-mind mistook the weightlessness of the state-shift for a fall. Then, the feeling of wind on his face and the elation of rising up through the air. The magos opened his mind’s eye and gazed out over the silvered landscape of the roiling Reticulum. The dance had begun.
The silver-scape was in turmoil. Impossible geometric shapes rose and collapsed in on themselves like titanic ramparts in tones of burnished steel and mercury. Had it always been like this? No. When he took his oath and joined the Court of Auspice in his youth, it had been much different. Though nearly 200 years had passed, he could still clearly recall his first silver-dance. The Reticulum had been as still as the surface of an unfathomable mountain lake. Not any more. Now it was more like a raging sea and it took greater and greater effort to navigate its churning eddies.
Setting his mind at the grim task ahead, he reluctantly began to scan the glimmering horizon. By the Golden Dead how it had grown! Though it was far away, he could clearly see the sickly glow spreading its tendrils into the silver clouds. It reminded him of glimmering ink dropped in water.
He instinctively knew that the flesh-world direction was north-easterly and far out. Perhaps over the sea? The Outer Isles maybe. Though the Reticulum was treacherous as of late, his mind was a fortress and he took pride in his skill in traversing it. He easily projected closer to his target, and crossing the distance took no more than mere flesh-world moments.
The cancerous light loomed over him now and he held an orbit just out of reach of its tendrils. For that is what they were to him. The luminous wisps shifted in a manner that gave them the uncanny appearance of being animated by some intellect, and there was something else… For a moment, he thought he had seen a shadow flutter by at the edge of his vision. His mastery of the silver-scape was absolute and he knew that there was nothing in here that could harm his fortified mind. But then again, the glow was like nothing he had seen before.
He offered a silent prayer that the High Master would burst through the doors of the resonance chamber any moment and put an end to this outrage. For the first time in many years, he longed to return to his flesh-body.
To be continued…
[Edit: Part 3 is now up – Check it out!]
That’s all for now. Check in next week for part three.