Fortress 3

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FILE: 2KDD6159F3JAE/AAAAA_oslo/umbreit_letters/7 # 7/8
The Scribe walks across the Library, intending to meet the Justiciar, but is distracted by a loud conversation coming from afar. She leaves for the Common Room, realizing that the conversation comes from the Throne Room. Peeking past the door connecting them, she sees the King hunching over with his hands trembling over his face, and the Charlatan in front of him.

KING: Madness! Madness dost thou want of me. A thing so bloody and malignant, I cannot allow.

CHARLATAN: But is it not of paramount necessity indeed? Thou hast seen the sky growing evermore scarlet, each day the Crimson Sun greater still.

KING: Is it even so…? So sluggish and anil have I become? How can such things betide us, mineself ignorant remaining?

CHARLATAN: By a mistake thine own, thou knowest! The visitor thou allowest to become a resider, and celestial rage thus invoked. Appeas'd, it must be!

KING: Thou hast to know another choice. I vow'd to never again spill blood, nor allow blood to spill in my hearth. Nay! The Dragon's Egg shall untouch'd remain.

Suddenly, the Smiling Man rises from the side of the door and walks through it, shutting it in front of the Scribe. He repeats his threat from earlier, fiddling with a throwing knife in his right: do avoid that which thou shan't concern thineself with.

The Scribe runs away, throwing herself behind a chair to avoid the knife. She waits until the Smiling Man takes aim again, then jumps forward and continues running, shutting the door to the Library behind her. The blade of a third throwing knife pierces the wooden door and nearly wounds her eye, but the Smiling Man does not appear to continue pursuit: his laughter is heard briefly.

The Justiciar calls to the Scribe, who is surprised to see him there. He is hunched over, but standing and reading a book beside a candlelight. He expresses worry, but is interrupted by the Scribe, who explains her urgency.

JUSTICIAR: Ah… I see you have seen reason! I didn't expect such!

SCRIBE: Gaffer gentle, I prithee to spare us of further gloating. This matter most urgent is indeed, for it concerns His Majesty himself! Only in passing did I harken, but unambiguous the words were: to spill the blood of one Dragon's Egg, the Charlatan desireth, and the King's blessing he seeketh so.

JUSTICIAR: Would that be… To appease the Crimson Sun?

SCRIBE: Verily it seems, Lord Justiciar. I know too of a Dusk-Seed deeply buried amidst the Worlds Betwixt and the red glimmer that it doth deliver, and when I spaketh so afore the King, the Charlatan seeketh to silence me, as did his partner scoundrel! Threaten'd with a knife I was, and I know not why — but the Future and Spider harkeneth not to my fears. I have recorded these things in my tome: detail'd accounts of what befalleth the Starlit Sea, betwixt the last words my task doth demand I keep.

JUSTICIAR: [Sigh.] Ah… Many things you tell me, and none of them a surprise, if so painful to hear. The Future and I were scholars of these texts, and we learned that the Dragon's Egg was of great power, yet fated to be slain before birth.

Do you know why Folamh Gard is enshrouded by mist?

SCRIBE: Nay, wise one. Doth the wind not deliver it here?

Suddenly, a booming voice is heard: the Bound Mass shouts, scaring the Scribe, but the Justiciar holds her head close, preventing her from listening to it.

JUSTICIAR: The mist is but vapor, ever rising from the Starlit Sea as it is boiled away. If it only rises, where will it go to?

SCRIBE: [Pause.] … To the Crimson Sun indeed.

The shouting continues, then grows silent: the sound of chains snapping now inundates the Library.

JUSTICIAR: Do you know now why Folamh Gard is enshrouded by mist?

SCRIBE: [Gasp.] So the Crimson Sun may feast!

The Justiciar nods, then asks about the Dusk-Seed: he is handed the Scribe's book, opening at the first few pages. He shakes his face when she tells him that the book is written entirely from visions she saw in the Starlit Sea, but he pales once he begins reading. He then hands the book back and reaches for another in the shelves.

Before he can do so, there is the sound of scraping metal: they look to the Bound Mass, seeing that something is breaking free from the metal statue and striding toward them. Countless worms squirm underneath it, billowing and bending the iron into a vaguely human-like shape. A great appendage breaks open from its side, it too made of worms. Two long, thin worm legs keep it standing.

BOUND MASS: Thou hast meddled too far within that which concernst thou not. Troth a dangerous substance is, if so verily sweet by ignorance coccooned. Disposed shall it be, as doth any man by illness plagued.

The Scribe dives under a table, as the Bound Mass's hand reaches for the Justiciar and crashes through the wall, creating a wide hole. The Justiciar limps away, throwing the Scribe's book back at her.

JUSTICIAR: Finish the book! Write everything, every vision you see! It it the only thing that will forever stop it!

She tries to shout back something but ends up stuttering, and crawls away instead. The Justiciar tries to evade the Bound Mass, but is unable to: as he stumbles backward, its arm crushes his right leg. He hollers in pain, but manages to stand again and leap forward, pushing the Bound Mass.

The great weight of its upper half makes it fall backward, but it wraps its arm around the Justiciar instead of attempting to maintain equilibrium. The Justiciar reaches to the staring Scribe with his right.

JUSTICIAR: Please, remember my true name. I— I was named Rolf before.

Both plunge below. The Scribe runs toward the hole in the wall, scanning for the Justiciar. The Starlit Sea is still.

Some Notes…
I had to stop reading. Everything outside is red now. Thickly wrapped in red mist, and imbibed in blinding red light. I can't see the sea, or the mountains beside me. It's been like that for so long I wonder if I'm still in Pyramiden.

Rolf… What did you find? What did you write? It can't be fiction. Did he see his own death playing out before his very eyes? Did he too watch it happen until his name was uttered and only then, in lonesome resignation, head straight down fate lane?

Is that going to happen to me now? Has a crimson eye in the sky suddenly opened where the Sun used to be? I wonder how people would react to it. Would it be a celestial object? An inexplicable phenomenon native to the upper atmosphere? Has this red mist fallen all over the world, beckoned by the words I read in Rolf Staalasen's script?

I think it's expecting me to walk outside and meet fate in the eyes. But the least I could do is write down the rest of it, just so you'll know how it ends — if not for me, for Rolf. Or rather, the Scribe.

I reached outside with my right hand. There's not a passing breeze to welcome it. It doesn't feel cold nor warm.

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