We are pleased to present, Daughters of the Eclipse
By EM Malachi
Daughter of the Eclipse
The trail through the woods was blocked by decades of overgrowth, but the house and its gardens were untouched by the years. Sparkling fae flitted about, tidying and repairing the home of the woman who slumbered inside. The Seeress Penumbra had withdrawn to this sanctum forty years before.
Several pixies fluttered close and watched the approaching paladin. Dupre removed his iron blade from the scabbard and gently placed it on the ground. This seemed to convince the sprites of his good intentions. They returned to watering the flowers with tiny crystal pitchers.
At the door to the house, Dupre found a collection of wooden figures. He examined a few: a baby, a butterfly, a man, and a skeleton. The puzzle was another of the seer’s safeguards. Penumbra’s kin had told him that the solution was personal to each visitor: the story of their life.
Dupre found a figure that reminded him of his father. A wooden mallard stood in for a childhood pet. A goblet dyed by mulberry was his life as a paladin. The skeleton reminded Dupre of the conflict with Juo’Nar and the night he lost Trinsic, but a toy siege engine was when he took the city back. Finally, he found a crown for the kings and queen he’d served in the faction wars and beyond. Dupre placed the figures in a line on the threshold, and the door unlocked.
Candles came to life as the paladin stepped into the house. The air was unnaturally still, held in stasis by magic. Dupre found Penumbra on a stone table in the center of the main room. She looked unchanged by her long sleep. Dupre placed four of Blackrock pieces around her as instructed, and time flowed into the room.
Penumbra opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Dupre, it is good to see you. You have destroyed the blighted monuments. Thank you. Like wolves, the three prowled my sleep. Had I been awake, they would have made prey of my mind and soul.”
Sitting up, Penumbra examined Dupre’s face. “My paladin, I see the pain and sorrow written on your face. So the Ranger King has already fallen in the night? I have overslept. You need me to do a reading.”
Dupre nodded. “I must know what happens next.”
Penumbra closed her eyes. “I have had the same dream again and again for the past few years. I have seen the end to your time on this world. This you cannot escape, but you can still save everyone else. The midnight door must not open completely. I have seen the ruin and darkness that steps through. You must prepare for the battle at dusk.”
“What can I do?”
“Three things stand before you: You must find a blade darker than obsidian, revered by a daemon. You must find the soul of Virtue in eight sigils for the Tinker’s ghost. Then you must follow the Lying Druid who led many into ruin, but do not let him steal the reward of the gate.”
Dupre silently considered Penumbra’s words.
Penumbra put a hand on Dupre’s shoulder. “You must hurry, my paladin. You do not have long…”
Batlin watched as hired smugglers opened the crate and showed him a black pedestal on a bed of straw. Batlin smiled approval and tossed a bag of coins to the ship’s captain. As the pirates departed, Fellowship workers carefully lifted the artifact from the crate onto a cart. They set to work removing dust and debris from the surface.
Batlin ran a hand along the surface of the artifact, tracing the symbols before stopping on an “Ort” rune. “I need you to raise this one near the others.”
One of the cultists asked, “I thought we already had the columns necessary to focus the alignment of the eight? What is the purpose of this ninth column?”
“We need a replacement ready should there be a problem. We must not fail. Trust thy brother.”
The workers seemed convinced. With the column polished, they began moving the cart up the path toward the ritual site. When they were out of earshot, Batlin whispered, “The final one is for me alone.”