Book of the Watch
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, blah...here
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,
"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
"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
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 iron...no 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."