From the Chronicles of Chadian Pain
“It again becomes legend, myth, stories told deep in the night to the flicker of the hearth. How soon the land forgets, heals, and hides the ravager. We must be the ones to remember, to not allow even the myths to fade.”
Monmenth entered to Shade Tree Inn with a reluctance uncommon for the big, burly farmer. This day was one he had hoped would not come. Not in his, his children's, or even in his great grandchildren’s lifetime. Yet the signs were there each night. The Covent had met, discussed, debated, and finally agreed. Now Monmenth had to inform the villagers of Deepwell.
How do I tell them their life as they know it is soon to end?” he thought as he paused at the steps of the inn. “How to I tell my wife!”. The thought came like a shock, thrusting Monmenth a couple of steps back from the inn. His unborn son.......
The night was still and quite as Shenarr stared up at the stars. Gently she stroked her ever growing belly, trying to calm her restless baby. For the last few days she had sensed a urgency in her child. A need to get on with life, to be released from the womb. That night the sharp pains came more and more often. She worried since Monmenth had left to Deepwell. Her husband was not himself that was for sure. But it was not the usually things that upset him this time. Not the crops, the insects, or beast that often fed in his fields, none of that would explain his behavior the last few days.
Shenarr looked once more up into the sky to gaze again upon that new, bright star in the night. At first she thought this was the source of her husband’s discomfort, but she rejected it. The events of the worlds in the sky affected the crops, this she knew, but this was such a small bright point. The sun would still rise each morning and set each night. The moon would make it pass through the sky, shifting from crescent to full in the manner known to all.
Still, in the depths of her secret thoughts, she feared that point of light. Instinctively she feared it.....
Shadowmoon shivered as a cold breeze whipped around the Gazing Tower. She had stepped outside to rest her eyes from the looking glass. For hours she had been watching a glowing point of light in the night sky. She knew that point of light was there also in the day, but the brightness of the sun hide it from their eyes. This was the third sign the Covent had been watching for over the last thousand years.
The first sign was seen in the Well of Souls. The Priests Coven watching over the Well of Souls talked to the ghosts of the Ancients, and the Ancients knew when next the Time of Ravage would occur. That time was now.
The second sign was the tremors high in the Western Mountains. Here the dwarven guilds were reporting new rumblings in the mountains. Rumblings they had never heard before. A few of their mining tunnels had already collapsed, a few miners trapped, but nothing that the great skill of the dwarves could not handle. Still, it was disturbing to the normally stoic race.
Monmenth opened the door of the Shade Tree. The bright lights of the hearth and lamps cast a long shadow, framed in light, across the dark street. The shadow bent and twisted across the cart wheel ruts and then up the walls of the blacksmith forge. The inside of the inn stood in sharp contrast to the stillness outside. The calling of the village Meet was normally an occasion to socialize, have an ale with friends, and to discuss the events surrounding the village.
The last Meet was before the first rains of last spring when Tomlinsons barn had burned to the ground. Everyone in the village met then to discuss the building of the new barn, who could contribute what, who had labor to spare. All worked together and before the first sprouts sprung from the fields the barn had been raised, ready to hold the wheat and hay of another year’s crop.
As he entered all talk ceased, they were there at Monmenths calling. None there knew of why Monmenth had called the Meet. Well, one other knew, but more on him later. For now all waited with respect as Monmenth entered and walked to the center of the great room.
“I wish to tell you a story”, Monmenth started out. “I ask in all seriousness that all listen. For it is a story known to most, yet unknown by most.”
The crowd stirred and began to murmur concerns. “Silence!”, shouted Azillon. “Respect must be shown to any who call a Meet. Not until Monmenth has finished what he has to say are any permitted a voice.”. Azillon looked through the crowd, pausing his gaze on those who needed reminding
This is how it first was, always has been, and will forever be.” Azillon stated the words they all knew.
“Thank you Azillon”, Monmenth whispered with a bow. Azillon was the village teacher, sage, and voice. Sent from the Gazing Tower, in the land of the elves, to help each village as to their needs.
The story Monmenth was to tell was one well known to Azillon, and to all of elvish kind. Elves lived four and ten times as long as most of the human race. They did not forget the lessons of the past. Least not the lessons lost upon men. And those they may have forgotten reach back far into the past before the coming of man and the rise of the dwarven race
“All here know that behind any myth or legend lay a seed of truth. The story may grow and change over the ages, but the truth behind it is still truth. This story is such a truth.” Monmenth paused to gage the group gathered there. They would listen, but few would believe. Monmenth looked to Azillon and saw sadness in his eyes.
“We tell this tale to our children, they to theirs and they to theirs. This has how it has been for as long as our memories tell us. None here has seen the Ravager, none here know of none in their lineage that has seen the Ravager. To us it has been just a story, a legend, a myth. But not to all.
The elves of the Gazing Tower record and keep the histories of our lands. Those there now were not on this earth at the time of the Ravager, but their memories know it not as a myth, but as a fact. It is history to them.
Since the time of the building of the Gazing Tower the Elves created the Coven of Torien to keep and maintain the records, writings and stories of our lands across time. Of each race were selected Keepers to help aid in the task, so that no race would ever forget or loose the knowledge of the past.
The memory of man are not as long as those of the elvish or dwarven races. For us only that knowledge that applies to the now matters and the knowledge of the past fades into stories and myth. Yet still the elves selected those among us, gifted with an insight and a yearning for knowledge, as Keepers. This they did by way of the Walking Sages. By those such as Azillon.”
At those words many in the meet began to whisper. Azillon knew this was a turning point in his relationship with the village. Now he would learn of what friendships he might have. Monmenth too knew this was an important point in time, a turning point. His eyes searched the crowd, trying to look into the thoughts behind the faces there. He paused long enough to let those there know that now was a time they could speak. Corin Tomlinson stood and spoke.
“Do not judge the elves too harshly my friends. Remember it is they who provided the salve when the blistering fever reached our children. Many died before that cure was brought to us, but not one died after. This was not some secret that the elves held to themselves, only to release upon a grateful people. They toiled hard and long in the Gazing Tower, they traveled across the lands, found the herbs, and taught us how to make the salve. We do not know all they know, but this should not to be held against them.”. With that Corin sat down. Some looked upon Azillon with renewed gratitude, others nodded to the elf, and others looked to the floor. Yet a few still held mistrust in their eyes, but no one else stood to talk.
“I do not intend to bore you all with the many storied of the Ravage. What it to concern us here is how it ended? The greatest mystery of all was the slaying of the Flayer, the defeat of his minions, and end to the Ravage. When Orilon and Stonefall finally breached the walls of Deeden Keep to confronted the Flayer they found only bones. The bones of a man in the armor many had reported seeing the Flayer wearing. The orcs, trolls, and goblin armies quickly fell into confusion. For whatever had been guiding them, whatever power that had held sway over their natural tendencies to fight among themselves, evaporated in the pitch of battle. When it seemed the hopes of all goodly races was at it end the forces of the Ravagers faded as a fog under the bright morning sun.
Found within the ruins of Deeden Keep was a time worn tome, since called the Cycle of Time. Long the elves, men and dwarves have toiled at learning the words written on that book. Little has been brought to light, but some things have.................”
Shenarr felt the birthing pains much sooner than any had expected. Her child had willed the time to arrive and not she nor any of the ministrations of the midwives would prevent it. Tellaina was Shenarr's best friend and was the village healer. She now sat in dismay as she saws the signs telling her this baby would be born before the sun rose.
“Do not forget to breath sweet Shenarr.”, Tellaina calmly spoke to her friend. “Drink the tea and these birthing pains will ease. Sip it, the tea is hot.”. Tallaina made ready for the babies arrival. She ordered her maid to make ready the bed and gather the towels and cloths needed.
“Shenarr?”, whispered Tallaina. “It is time. I cannot alter the childs intent. We must move you to the bed and make ready.
“Where is Monmenth?”, Shenarr asked. “I would want him here when his son is born.”.
“He is still in the village. We have sent young Simon on horse to fetch him, but I do not think your wonderful child will wait.”, Tallaina stated as calmly as she could. The child should not be birthed so soon. She worried that it would not be fully formed and too weak to survive outside the womb.
The maid helped lift Shenarr and walk her to the bedroom where fresh sheets and the smell of mint and herbs filled the air. The pains now arrived quicker and quicker. All knew the child would be born soon, even before Simon would reach Deepwell and summon Monmenth. Meanwhile, outside in the darkened sky the point of light she had looked upon earlier was now covered by a new light in the night.
Simon burst into the Shade Tree Inn, his breath coming in great gasps as he tried to speak. “The moon, the moon.” was all he could force out. His crashing through the inns front door shook everyone from the trance of Monmenths speech. Azillon reach the boy as he slumped to the floor
“Simon, Simon!” commanded Azillon. “What causes you to interrupt the Meet and be quick about it!”.
Simon seemed to calm and looked up at Azillon. “The moon. There is a new moon in the sky!”.
“Bah!”, someone blurted out. “It is the time of the third crescent moon child. A new moon does not arrive for many days.”
“Not a new moon. A New Moon. There are two moons in the sky!” shouted Simon, almost to the point of hysteria. Azillon quickly looked up at Monmenth. The fourth sign had arrived.
Shadowmoon had been watching the new moon rising over the horizon for some time now. She knew it would be coming, but not the exact day, or night. Earlier that morning a dwarf messenger had arrived to inform the Keepers that several mines had to be closed because of the earthquakes. Many of them profitable. Down in the Misty Vale the river Arn had changed course wiping out a small village and flooding a few more mines
The Dwarves were calling all their kin into the stronghold of Iron Mountain. They were well aware of events to come and were making ready as if to hold out against a siege
The Elves too were on the move. Back to the Shimmering Isles, their homeland of old. If one were quiet and patient enough one could see the passing caravans of elves passing silently through the great woods of the land.
Back in Deepwell, after everyone had gotten a good look at the new moon, they files back into the Shade Tree Inn. Now Monmenth would have their attention more than he had earlier.
No one was panicked, mostly because few knew the situation they were in. Monmenth knew, as well as Azillon, others may have suspected. One thing was for sure, Monmenth was over his head now. He had prepared himself long and hard to tell the story of the Ravage, but he had not thought of how he would handle the eventual questions. Let alone handle the questions about a new moon.
As they walked into the in he pulled Azillon aside. “I'm not a leader.” he whispered to Azillon. “I know not how to answer the questions I hear in my own mind, nor how to answer those questions of my friends. I asked you to talk to them.”.
Azillon smiled. He knew Monmenth for many, many years now. Such a odd choice for a Keeper, but Adinon had insisted that Monmenth be taught in the ways of a Keeper so he was. Even though his interests were more for the land than for the past.
“I will try my friend, I will try.” answered Azillon.
By now the hearth fire had burned itself low and its light somehow seemed more fitting for the mood of those assembled. This time Monmenth sat down while Azillon alone stood in the middle of the great room.
“First, each and every one of you must believe that the story of the Ravage is history, not myth, not legend.” Azillon took a deep breath before his next words.
“The elves have been working long on learning the words written in the Cycle of Time. What we have learned is to look for three signs of the coming of what the tome calls the Ravage. The first was to look for a bright star in the western sky before the coming of winter. The second speaks that the ground will shake and move, heralds to the arrival of the fourth. A new moon in the heavens.
For many days the Gazing Tower has watched as a new star began to shine in the western sky. It alone did not cause much notice, but then the dwarves of the Western Mountains arrived telling of great quakes and the collapse of mines. Still some of us would deny the signs. Now the new moon has arrived and no longer can we ignore what lies ahead.”
“We do not know fully what to expect of these things. We do not know that it will mean another Ravager will arise to conquer the lands. The tome speaks of lands being torn apart, or fire flowing forth from the earth and great storms rising up from the sea. We have not yet discerned the origin of the tome, who had written it, nor who it was written for. Its words are of an evil origin that is known. Parts are on the goblin tongue and parts in the orcish tongue. These parts talk of preparing for war and promises made. From this we can only assume the Flayer will return.”
Now a distinct panic gripped the room. Store owner, blacksmith, farmer, tradesman, all held their own fears. What of their families, of their homes? To whom do they turn for help? Would the great cities to the East come to their aid? So many questions Azillon knew must be.
“You must not let fear dictate your actions. Do not let that which is unknown rule the lives of your families, of your neighbors, or your friends
To the north are the Forlorn Caves. Send scouts to those caves to look for a place of refuge if the need arises. Fortify what you can, stock what you can, and make ready. Ready for what I cannot say.”
“But you must know some of what is to come?”, asked the blacksmith. “What is to happen to us?”
“I can tell you this.” Azillon replied. “The lands around Deepwell are solid on the earth. The lands here have not shaken as they have in the mountain regions. You are far from the sea so I do not think any storms from there shall reach. The lakes around here are deep, deeper than any other I know of. From there I know not what might occur, if they will drain or flood.
For you I do not have fear of the ravaged lands. But I do fear this. I fear that others, driven from their lands, will covet yours. They will seek to take by force what they perceive as a safe haven. This is what you must prepare for.
Many have been sent out from the Gazing Tower to inform as many as possible of these events.
“I see nothing in all this”, shouted Tanner Malikon. “You and Monmenth speak of tales as if they were truth, but they are just children stories. I tell you do not listen to them. Our lives are unchanged. What of a new moon in the sky? Has it caused the ground to shake? No!” Malikon went on.
"You Azillon say the western dwarven mines are collapsing! I smell more of dwarven mischief than of prophesy. To call a Meet for spreading rumors and lies should have you run from town. Long has it been known that the elves of the Gazing Tower guile hides plans to rule our lands. I say go home, forget all this. Our lives have not changed, will not change.”
With that Tanner Malikon rose and left the great room. Several others followed. Still, most stayed.
“Let Shenarr sleep”, Tellaina whispered to the maid.
“She should name the child”, the maid whispered back. “She is very ill and may not see the light of morning. The child need a name.”
Tellaina thought for a moment longer then turned, sat on the bed beside Shenarr, and wiped the beading moisture from her brow. It had been a hard, long birth, yet morning was still hours away. Tellaina was glad when a fine, healthy boy emerged. Not a small baby at all and she thought she could see much if his father already in the boy.
“Shenarr” A pause. “Shenarr awake” called Tellaina. Slowly Shenarr's eyes moved as she awoke. “You must name your son sweet one. He should see the morning with a name.”
Tellaina brought a small cup of water to Shenarr's lips and after a sip two words, two words left Shenarr's lips “Rogue moon”. With that her eyes closed as her chest breathed in deep then never more.
Tears began to flow from Tellaina's eyes as she held her friend’s lifeless body close. She had hoped, against all hope that Shenarr would pull through. It was not to be. One life had entered their world and one life had left.
“Roguemoon? An odd name for the child.”, the maid commented.
“Roguemoon it is”, replied Tellaina