The Intrigue Of The Mardots

     In his castle built of obsidian and cedar, high above the rocky shores of Ęberaun, above the gates through which no outsider has ever passed, Greunweiln sits, brooding.
     For months a melancholy has hung like the mists of early spring morns upon the halls of dark Ęberaun keep. It seeps, in stifling billows, through the cracks beneath the heavy wooden doors, through tightly drawn window shutters, through the very obsidian walls themselves, sickening all things, even the food with which Greunweiln toys halfheartedly. In green and putrid colours it stains the once joyful hearts of the Mardots. Greunweiln, called the Balance In Space, teeters on the edge of dementia because of it.
     "I must have that book!" he bellows, slamming his fist upon the marble table top.
     Tzimar, the court magician, tried to soothe Greunweiln's rage with seering sweet refrains culled from the air that whistled anon through the spires of jagged Ęberaun, but to no avail. ever since he had heard the wondrous tales of the fabled book of Nordo, Greunweiln would have no rest 'till he would possess it himself. Ęberaun's treacerous geometries gave him no more joy; his only thoughts were on the aura that the book conjured in his dreams.
     And so it came to pass that as he brooded anon, Greunweiln became more and more obsessed with the mania that the book of Nordo, the fabled Tales Of The Golden Comet And Sundry Winds Of King Nordo, was rightfully his, and that he must travel to the North Lands wherein the pathetically ignorant Lunn dwell, to repossess that which should be his own.
     He went on for days in a morose state becoming quarrelsome with his courtiers, eating bitter fruits if anything at all, sleeping less and less. The despair he felt was visible in all that he did, and it was beginning to overflow and fill all of Ęberaun also. Tzimar could see the fire building within his sunken eyes. Tzimar, who knew all things, knew that if let to continue in this manic course, Greunweiln would destroy not only himself, but also Ęberaun as well. Something had to be done.
     "This book, which is rightfully your book, my lord" he said, as Greunweiln hurtled another opalite scarab to smash in a thousand pieces against the wall, "is held in the possession of one who is called The Wind What Canst Sleep. This one, whose real name is Baeoinfaermn, has powers of artful nature, but you may rest assured that his powers are nothing to compare to those which I myself command."
     "Swear by the gods who hold court in the Halls Of Kthahun to lay aside this melancholy which gnaws at you from all angles; prepare a great squadron, and sail to the North Lands. Traverse the waters of the heavens in haste, and settle this vexation once and for all. Not until you gain that which you yearn for will you have rest, and not until you have found rest can the spires of unholy Ęberaun sing out in dissonant euphony. They ache in the shadow of your misery."
     A growl that reverberated in the wetly shining obsidian walls issued forth from the theretofore tightly clenched lips of he who is called The Balance In Space. "Bring me my fleet admirals" Greunweiln called out, "we will sail for the North Lands before the morrow."
     The Mardots did not need to be coaxed. Squires went scurrying to call forth their leige lords. Bronzesmiths were set to readying the arsenels. Servants in the castle proper were put to work preparing the provisions for the grand journey. The air was alive with activity; excitement arose.

     It had been a long time since such an undertaking had been proclaimed, and the people of Ęberaun relished the thrill of war; to a man they were behind Greunweiln's decision to embark for the North Lands.
     With an air of blind determination that the Mardots had not seen in him for so long, Greunweiln summoned his warlords to plan for the journey they must of needs make. What a journey it no doubt would be, for the Mardots' knowledge of the exact location of Nordo's book was uncertain and limited to the few and somewhat contradictory accounts given by the storytellers who had first brought word of the fabled book to Greunweiln.
     It was agreed, in the meeting of Greunweiln's council, that Tzimar should guide their course by his magic. Greunweiln bid his lords to be prepared to sail with the first rays of light from the star Berielle the next day. So after drinking a toast to the journey the warlords hurried from the chamber hall to summon their fleets.
     Forty longships of oblique angle were fitted with provisions and arms for the journey. One hundred men per ship were called upon to take their places at the oars, and another fifty per ship, men of ripe age and taut muscle, were set busy honing their swords of tempered bronze. Never did the spires of inconstant Ęberaun whistle with haunting serenade as they did now in the bustle of the preparations for warring campaign.
     High up in the topmost reaches of Ęberaun keep, above the clamor of the people, Tzimar closed the door to his tower room.
     Of all the architecture in Ęberaun's geometric confusion and splendor, the room wherein Tzimar called forth his spirits to bestow their favors upon him was the most spectacular. Carven from the bowels of a single gigantic crystal of obsidian in ages no one could remember, the room climbed to a height of nearly three stories before reaching a dome cut in a profusion of angles that burned the eyes of any who chanced to gaze upon it (though few were given the chance). There were no windows in this tower vault, but the light from the stars Berielle and Tandor would pierce the solid walls casting a purplish luminosity upon the inner spaces.
     Standing directly below the dome of misshapen angles, Tzimar called forth his gods to bestow on him a rune of immense power that he might create a subterfuge, if necessary, when the Mardots would encounter this one whom the people call Baeoinfaermn. With suffumigations of ambergris, euphorbium, bdellium and blood of a white sparrow rising heavenward from the cardinal corners of a pentagram he had inscribed in the floor, Tzimar plaintively called forth legions of infernal spirits to do his bidding. His incantations swelled into thundering crescendos as they bounced in discombobulated fury between the stark and silent walls.
     At the fifth hour of the star Berielle, Tzimar took his rune inscribed staff from its resting place in the purplish black recesses of the obsidian alter that his ancestral forefathers had fashioned by hand. Ckowlyn would aid him in the charting of a course to the North Lands through unknown treacheries they might encounter. It would also weaken the sight of the Lunn with its power to fragment all things visual into geometric shapes of tantalizing beauty known and not yet known so that the Mardots might slip through their gates unnoticed. With Ckowlyn held high toward the cavity of the incongruous dome above him, Tzimar chanted his incantations.
     In time there came a bolt of bluish light that filled the spaces of the great dome and filtered round about Tzimar as he stood unmoving at its feet. It coiled and sputtered with a hissing of serpents, and froze the very walls of polished stone with its icy cold breath. And as Tzimar concluded his incantation with the uttering of the Name Which Cannot Be Spoken, the bolt struck at the antimony head of Ckowlyn causing it to turn a deathly pale shade of blue, and Ckowlyn gave a shriek that the people down below heard. Tzimar shrieked also with a bellow of unearthly pain as the powerful bolt coursed down through Ckowlyn and into his own body, burning into his hand the rune that was carven into Ckowlyn's rowan body where Tzimar grasped it. In echo, the light faded through the walls of the tower, and Tzimar sank exhausted to the floor.
     By the sixth hour of the star Berielle, all was ready. Oarsmen waited tense and anxious at their oars. The warriors solemnly watched the approach of their leader, The Balance In Space. Those who were to remain on shore cursed under their breath that they had not been chosen to sail also. The moment of embarkation drew near.
     Greunweiln, resplendent in his armour of mirrored jasper, with speckled fox cloak billowing about him in the raging winds, boarded the flagship, and ordered the anchors hauled in. Heaving at the oars, the Mardots seamen began a rhythmic movement with the oars at the sign of The Balance In Space. And the great longships edged their way into the inky blackness of the Ęberaunian skies.
     The spires at the gates of Ęberaun intoned thunderous chords as the fleet passed through. They echoed long after the grand armada had disappeared into the dark. Greunweiln, The Balance In Space, stood at the bow of his ship with Tzimar at his side.
     The book would indeed be his!