Chaos in the House of the Moon
Takara Orren dreamed.
Like every recent dream, this one began with the man in gray wearing the Silver Mask. She knew he would stand there, hands clasped behind his back, facing away until she called his name. He always looked so intent as if waiting for someone.
“You’re here again.” Takara heard her own voice speaking from below her out of the mouth of the body of her dream. She was never in her body, always above it. Always that separation.
The man in gray and silver turned his head and she heard the voice of Kas within her mind.
“I show you betrayal, little Kaovish. Always betrayal. It is my specialty.” The voice was soft, yet firm. Takara wondered at the man that it had once belonged to knowing that what she spoke to now was no living being. The Silver Mask was not a person…it was personality.
And a terrible one at that.
“Show me, then.”
The soul behind the Silver Mask smiled and everything shifted just so. The man in the mask disappeared, as he always did when the visions came, but she heard his voice once more.
“View this and understand. With me you can be unstoppable. Without me…”
Takara saw a room. The room was stark, almost barren. At one wall a window looked down over the land below a tower, hundreds of feet in the air. The room was stone, melded stone crafted by magic or fused in some unbelievable way. The room was a circle, just shy of being perfect as if created that way on purpose.
In the center of the room five men stood over a pedestal and ancient runes carved deep into the floor.
Not men. As the vision sharpened, Takara understood that these creatures were elves of a sort she had never before seen. Sharp features, elongated ears that reached beyond the length for a Kaovish or one of the Keladr’rhem. With a sharp intake of breath, Takara realized that these men were Moon elves. Luna’rhem.
This tower was the Tower. The Tower of the Night. The Tower of the Moon and Stars.
These men were its Masters.
“Brothers, we must decide. We have been here too long already on this matter and each of us has…other business. I, for one, tire of the endless prattle and seek action. She must die.” One of the Masters spoke, his bare chest carved with deep tattoos, his arms wrapped in white. Takara noted that the others each wore a wrapping and tattoos of a different color. White, Silver, Gray, Black and…that man, the one at the head, that an wore wrappings that seemed to draw in all color and hold none.
“Brother Akezu, we understand your need for action. Your duty is to act. As the Master of Assassins, your suggestion of death is…expected, if childish.” The man in Silver, Master Kurogawa, Lord of Eyes and Ears. Takara did not know how she knew, but this elf was the Master Spy.
The conversation continued, at length, for what felt like hours and hours of wasted time. Takara did not know why she needed to see these faces. This place. What betrayal would come from here? That these…sensei as they called themselves; that they wanted her dead was not new information.
“Listen, little Kaovish, and understand.”
The Silver Mask had never spoken to her after the visions had started. It always left her to observe and decide upon her own. What was different? And was that man in crystal-clear wrappings staring at her?
“Shokan.” The Master. Lord of this Tower and the chosen leader of the Luna’rhem. One of the other elves, the Master of Theft, Lord Vor, spoke to get the Shokan’s attention.
“Shokan, are you well?” The Master of Poisons, Mai-Reshi, spoke with concern, but even Takara knew that the dripping sincerity in those words was false.
“I have decided.” The Shokan’s voice held the intensity of ice just before it cracked and fell. The other Masters focused now certain that their will would be done.
“Daelus has failed us. As Rikugunshokan and General of the Tower he has been loaned out time and time again and each time, when he approaches this Kaovish girl, he fails.” The Master’s words drew Takara’s attention like a moth to the flame. Daelus? The Revenant Monk she had killed? He was a general?!
“The girl. She does not know why she is important. She has ignored out repeated attempts at coercion and force. She will not join us freely. If we use the Way upon her then her soul will…lack the required power we need. The girl does not realize what she carries. Neither the Silver Mask nor the Tooth. Since she cannot be brought willingly…”
The others Masters leaned in, intent and focused. Takara held her breath in the dream.
“I will deal with the matter personally.”
“You!? But you cannot leave the Tower, Shokan! You cannot…” Master Vor broke off as the Shokan stared hard into his eyes.
“You will not presume to tell me what I can and cannot do, subordinate. Now, each of you go to retrieve Daelus while I prepare the room. After he is turned we will discuss who will serve in my stead while I am gone.” Each of the four other Masters looked hard at one another each eager to take that role.
After they had left, the Shokan turned, fast as lightning, and stared straight into her eyes. He did something with his hand – a sharp gesture as if to cut an invisible line of thread. The voice of Kas was blocked…
“You observe what you should not see, Kaovish’rhem.” The Shokan was speaking to her in the dream!
“You see what the Silver Mask of the Betrayer wishes you to see and no more. But now you will see the truth. We have little time. You will listen.”
The Shokan walked to the pedestal in the room and lifted an invisible cloth from its top. Underneath stood a long, curved tooth, a twin to the one she carried.
The Shokan looked up, touching the long tooth gently.
“The Tower of the Moon is faltering. You have never had a reason to care, but now you should, my friend. We Luna are a sheltered people and have always lived within a confined way of life. But we are dying, and when an entire race begins to fade…some members reach out to the darkest places.”
The Shokan walked to the window, looking out into the night sky, up into the stars.
“The others will return soon and we will enact punishment upon the failed General. You have shown yourself capable in his defeat and he will no longer be allowed to function in his role. But…what we do to him…it is not sane. We have devolved into a fundamentally wrong thing. We no longer look up to the stars as inspiration, but turn our faces away in fear. Fear for the alliances we have made. Fear for the future.”
The Shokan sighed and turned his head, listening for the returning Masters.
“You do not understand and I do not expect it of you. But you will be told. The Tower of the Night is falling. It will not crumble and there will be no grand destruction. We will simply fall, one by one, to the sway of power we seek out to replace what we have lost.”
“They have control of your Mask, friend Kaovish. The other Masters knew you would find the Silver Mask of Kas and they exert a special kind of control. You will not detect it. You will not be able to fight against it. Eventually, you will succumb and you will do as they wish. Your soul and that of your vampiric ally are what they desire. If they get it…what you see in the transformation of Daelus will pale in comparison.”
“I tell you this because you are a future. You are not salvation, but likely death. My death and the death of many. But in death there can be change and possibility. There can be future. The tooth, little thief. The tooth is the key. The Chaos is the key. Watch for the Shadow of the Dragon…but, enough! They come!”
The Shokan returned to his place of authority and Takara felt the connection return. Kas’s voice railed against her demanding to know how she had severed the connection, but Takara ignored it and watched.
She watched as Daelus, the Revenant, was dragged into the room and tied to the floor. She watched as the man she had killed, the man who had died again and again and again, screamed in agony as runes were carved into his flesh.
Takara watched as the window shifted and the stars realigned and something altogether aberrant to nature reached down from the stars and twisted. Daelus fell apart, was rebuilt, and fell apart again. His screams changed into something otherworldly, his mind broken, and his form….
At the end, Takara looked up and heard the Shokan whisper. “Curse us for what was do, but the power of that far realm is upon us. Rise, Ulitharid. Rise and fail us no more. We bring down the very stars and ignore the Moon, but we have no choice. No choice…”
The voice faded away and Takara woke. She looked about, remembering fragments of the dream, trying hard to piece it altogether. She could not understand what that creature had been, what the stars had twisted him into, or what the Shokan wanted with her. She knew that he spoke the truth as certainly as she knew that the Silver Mask lacked this knowledge.
The betrayal it showed her was for itself.
“Throw aside all other allegiance, little Kaovish, and serve with me. Together, we will rule the Tower of the Stars.”
Takara took off the Mask and lay it down. She looked at its face for long hours, uncertain what to do. She knew it would not simply go away, not now, not when it had gained a foothold. She should never have put it on!
Takara heard the screams of the monk and shuddered.
What had she gotten herself into?