The Book of the Watch

he Brotherhood of the Watchtower is all but myth today. Oh, you will find tiny lodges of the Brotherhood in most small towns, but these are usually no more than private beer halls for men who long for the "Old Days" when things supposedly were better. The high (humanist) goals of the original Watchtower are but a dim memory, lost now in the murk of secret ceremonies and bell clanging, usually over by 8:00pm so they can break out the ale and cards. The Brotherhood as it stands today is sometimes said to exist just so the real secret societies have someone to look down on.

But once, the Tower stood bright in the morning sunrise. Once they had grand plans, and a glorious goal. How do I know this? Why, Andros himself told me. It happened on a night much like this one... 

Concerning the
Book of the Watch

ndros stretched his aged legs, rose up from the fireside chair and welcomed the small party of LightRaiders into his home. The elf smiled; so many eager faces, ready for the Good Fight.

      "Ah, you're early! Let me put the kettle on, and I'll see about that scroll."

       After dealing with the amenities, he reached into one of the more forgotten cubbies in his ancient oak desk. "I've got that scroll I mentioned. I picked this story up from a Psalmist in a Kaffie house somewhere in the Eagle Peaks. Darn good pie there." He cleared his throat and began:

       "Set to Papere by Josephus the Psalmist; Concerning all that is Knowne of the Anciente Brotherhood of the Watchtower."

       "Once upon a tyme, so long ago that Andros was a lad..." Harrumph! We'll skip that part! Blah, it is..."there was a party of brave warriors who made a pact that they would destroy all the Dragons and save the world!" A gasp mixed with a chuckle ran about the room. He fixed his pale gray eyes on the Raiders, and continued.

      "These knights were cunning; they trained eight hours a day. They were crafty; they studied another eight, learning all of what Man had ever put to paper concerning the Ancient Ones. They were brave; they swore they would fight to the last breath to free the world from the scaly claws of those dark and evil creatures. But alas, they were so utterly foolish, for they thought that they could do this awesome task entirely on their own.

      "They were impressed by the Overlord of Many Names, make no mistake. They thought Him a great scholar, a brave warrior, a shrewd general. But to these OnceBorn knights, out beloved was only a man who died fighting the Dragons. In their great worldly wisdom, they set out on their own to overcome the darkness that torments Man and hunts him.

      "At the edge of the Lawless Basin, where the cursed brown dirt begins to wither away into the Dark Wastes, they built a tower. Now this area was at the time a meeting-ground where many Dragon Councils were held, and the people feared it. In defiance of the Dragons, the twelve brave knights built a watchtower like none that had ever been seen by the eyes of Men. From this Tower, they thought to prepare for the Great Battle which would defeat the Dragons, for they knew just enough of the Sacred Scrolls to know of that final conflict, but not enough to know the signs of its true coming. In their great bravery and arrogance, they believed that they would begin that prophesied war. 

      "One of their Brotherhood, Hiram by name, was a architect without peer. The Tower grew rapidly. Its base was a furlong square, and made from green stone quarried from the Dwarven mines at Sharuk. Many people saw the knights as heroes who would scour the world of the long feared Scaly Ones. Many expensive gifts were given to the Brotherhood, as they pledged that upon the Tower's completion, they would burst forth to free the world from the Dragons. The Tower was certainly grand; it stretched a mile into the air, the Bards say (but that is, of course, the way the Bards talk.)

       The Tower sparkled in the sunlight, a monument to the knowledge of Men. But alas, unknown to the Brotherhood, the dark earth in that place was only a shallow covering over the ancient dunes of the Wastes. The grandest folly ever built by the hand of the OnceBorn was built on a foundation of sand. While it stood, a visitor could see around the world to the back of his own head. (Or so the Bards say; again, that is how they talk.) 

       The day finally came when the Watchtower was finished, and the knights sat down to plan their new kingdom, which they would bring about after they had slain all the Dragons.

      Another of the Brotherhood, Adamus, by name, was a smith, but that is like calling the Overlord a "wise teacher"; the description does not do justice to the thing. It is said that Adamus taught the Dwarves themselves how to work metal. Mithril, adamandite, fine steel and cold man alive was the craftsman fit to even bank his forge. He made huge siege engines and tiny clockwork birds with equal ease. A master smith who was said to be able to talk metal into behaving, no task ever presented a real challenge to him...until one of his brother knights suggested that to truly destroy the Dragons, they would need special armor, armor unlike any ever seen in the world. (They really sought the Armor of God that any TwiceBorn may wear, but they were not wise enough to know what they really sought.)

      Adamus blew a hot breath out past a bushy red mustache. Here was a task! He locked up his shop door, descended into his massive library, and was not seen for seven days. On the eighth day, he returned to his forge, and with the shop door latched tight, he began to work. The forge glowed bright as the sun, but he was the only one there to see it, and in another seven days, after endless clanking and hammerfall, the door to his shop blew outward off its hinges. When his eleven brother knights stormed the shop, they found Addamus exhausted, sleeping soundly on the floor surrounded by a chalk circle. And standing about him, with just the tips of their armored boots on the pale white circle, were suits of armor unlike any ever known.

      They were blindingly white, and moved without creaking; every joint was crafted with tiny bearings and gimbals. No blow by the knights could even scratch the finish of the dazzling armor. As they moved to examine them, they found their own names etched in the finest filigree on the breastplate of each suit. Delighted, they forgot their sleeping comrade and donned the armor. It fit exquisitely, as if molded to every muscle of their finely trained warriors. With a strangely final click the helmets one by one snapped into place, and they set forth to conquer the world.

      They were never seen again.

      Did they fall in battle against the Dragons? No tomb records it. Did they travel to the Eternal Lands on a ship of their own devising, or were they lost at sea in a horrible storm? No one knows. But the Brotherhood of the Watchtower disappeared from the world without so much as a puff of smoke left behind.

      It is recorded that on the same very night, the whole of the western sky lit up with gouts of flame. The tower was found utterly shattered; not toppled merely, but melted and blasted to ruins, and even that in time was covered by sand as the Wastes expanded from their ancient home and reclaimed the site.

      Thus, the Brotherhood of the Watchtower came to an end. From time to time the Wastes shift and move like living things, and they say that foolish adventurers pass through the southern Wastes trying to find the remains of the Tower, which after all did hold enormous wealth at the time of its demise. But though many foolish OnceBorn disappear in that area, the Wastes have never given up so much as a trinket or coin. Thus ends my tale."

      Andros sipped his tea and regarded the students. "Let that be a lesson to you, young ones. You fight at the High One's bidding, for His reasons, in His time. A humble warrior survives to repel the Darkness. A arrogant one looses his way in it."

After that, we had tea and cakes, and a really ripping game of "Cripple Mr. Onion."

Onward, for the OverLord!


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I last forged the mighty electrons of this page on 1/12/09!