The Gathering Prologue
The Preamble to Pain
Even after all this time and sacrifice, the Elder sadly admitted to himself that the world still seemed despoiled and pillaged, with few advancements from the world of old. He now stood wearily on the edge of Crescent Cave, a spur of irregularly-shaped sedimentary rock that traversed out randomly across the country of the Wadi Quamran, a forsaken land of pungent polar easteries, broken worlds, and shattered dreams. At one time, he probably would have been reminded of a song to relate to this portrait of Now, but his mind was old and withered with not much further to go. Time had treated him terribly since his stand a myriad number of years ago.
Gripping the Sword of the Ages between his fingers, he dredged its sharp end into the ground of his pedestal by the mouth of one of the caves. It didn't help his foible proficiency in walking much, but what a beautiful sword it was! It was gift-wrapped around its vertices with platinum (if it wasn't gold) and its blade criss-crossed in purity, with one of its ridges the darkest of sable steel and its other the most immaculate of diamondesque crystal.
Holding it on an angle sent a small streak of light to be diverted into its path from the sun and it danced all around the rather large community below. Into the old man's heart was a residual feeling of joy. He couldn't remember the last time he had made anything go so fast. Distinctly, he recalled every waking moment of his...of their pilgrimage to save all of humankind. He was the bane of both the dead and the living in his heyday.
So that now to lessen the beating of his enfeebled heart, he understood just how little this paltered populace knew about the truth. His dance of sunlight was suspended in the air when the quiver of light found a young, brown-haired girl who was no more than fifteen. She glared up at the caster of the light and halted her original intention to protest. She saw a hooded figure of the Elder that usurped the caveside. Draped in black, he had a prestige in the colonization as a Mirage that distorted people's vision from time to time. The Elder himself never gave any reprimand to the nickname. If anything, the pseudonym suited him perfectly.
The legend omitted from history disappeared back into the burrow nestled deep within. But he had wandered off before and she was not going to let him get away again. She dropped the bowl of vegetables she had once been reaping for dinner and ran towards the elevated mountainside. When she made it, he was not there. But there was something else that expedited her imagination.
The hollow was like a temple, or a shrine to better its description. Torches of sycamore wood limbs dangled from the walls and all around, there was the feeling of warmth and comfort. Sculpted and painted into the indentations of rock were pictures of heavily armed warriors engaged in intense combative activity. There were four of them in all. Two were male. Two were female. Around them were grossly mutated fiends in which the four figures were either victorious against or met an early grave from. There was also a purplish-red carpet rolled before an altar richly lustered with brass chalices and candlesticks and papyruses coiled and held together with leather laces.
But her reverence was short-lived. The Elder made his slow way back into the chamber from a nearby hollow and although his progress was deplorable, his voice was stern and to the point. When he asked her of her business in these parts, she lied, saying that she was sent to see if the Elder was real or (as the legacy implied) truly a Mirage. She was partly honest. Half of her implemented the right reason for coming. The other half was to satisfy her own curiosity.
They got to talking which was eventually focused on the drawings of the walls. She said that they would have made her own grandmother marvel should she have still been alive. The Elder already knew what the young woman condoned about her life and proceded to tell her what she already knew, that her grandmother's name was Relm Arrowny, who married one Janus Urza. They had a son who was christened Clyde Urza who grew up and married a Sarah Capello. The Elder had undoubtably kept up with all customary fashions and knew that women became scarce following the third and last holocaust. For that reason, women got to keep their last name following wedlock. His brilliant deduction told her that her name was, in fact Jessica Capello. In cessation, despite the fact that this out-of-date man was well over one hundred years of age, he informed her that this entire family line evolved over the span of an eighty-year interval.
She didn't know how to react, so she quoted the most natural question that occurred to her at the time: how? He tried to tell her that from here, he had watched them all grow up but it looked like she wouldn't accept that. So, he rebuked by saying that there was no easy way for him to answer her inquiry at all.
But also that there was probably something that could.
He beckoned for her to peruse through a tome that rested at the center of his reliquary. She went over and observed it first. The ends of its pages were trimmed with a radiant gold finish and its binding was mitigated with a type of cover that prevented the book from aging too fast. She lifted it off the table. It was about as heavy as a collegiate-issued dictionary byt looked as wide as a world atlas. Its front cover was exquisitely accentuated with five, glittering gems that were arranged in a pentagon shape. She looked back at him.
"Every man has a story to tell. Whether it's real or not is another story. But the account you are about to disclose within this binding is as real and as vivid as the voice that is addressing you right now. Do not taint it until you have read its entirety."
She nodded and turned back to the book. Just above its polygon of gems were two simple words: 'The Gathering.'