In Ages Lost, we summoned demons to serve us. Yet their might came at a terrible cost, and their ambitions unleashed nearly brought Ruin to us all. Why then would we still seek their aid? What fool would court the Unbound?
-Sanjat Lar, Hierei of the Conclave of Amaranth
At the dawn of the third day of the fourth month in the Fifth Age, the Shining City of Amaranth, Capital of the Heirocracy, bustled with all the activity of a bee hive. Chaos masquerading as orderly progression, the wild dance of civilization and mortal enterprise. The mechanisms of the city moved as they always did.
A woman, garbed in soot-smeared robes of an indeterminate color, stood regarding the sky. In her hand was a long rod of iron, the end of which was pinched into an odd, narrow shape. Her pale hair was tied back, exposing skin too smooth for an Untempered. Her bright orange eyes regarded the egg-shell blue of the sky with a curious tilt.
Clouds, white and thick, crowded above the alabaster expanse of the Shining Palace, barely visible through the press of buildings. A tower in its center stretched high into the sky, taller than all other structures in the City by Divine Decree. The Pathless was a jealous god, after all.
The woman tapped her rod with a manicured finger and hummed aloud.
"Ana?" said a voice, sharp and high. A Human woman, similarly garbed and holding an identical rod, stepped out of a side street toward the first. "Twin's teeth, Ana. What're ya doin' here? Yer streets're two blocks west!"
Ana did not answer, merely tilted her head in the opposite direction, eyes still fixated on the sky. A frown played at the edges of her mouth as the other woman kept on talking.
"Pathless above, you frustrate me, Ana! It's like you've got no sense! An' after I went out on a limb for ya, gettin' ya this job. Lamplightin's a quality gig, ain't nothing quite as easy for the pay. And you're like to ruin it. Quit this dawdlin' and get moving! If the lampmaster learns of this she'll have both our heads!"
"Shh," Ana whispered, tense. "Something is happening. Something important."
The other woman paused, outraged. "Yer shushin' me? Me? How dare ya, ya overgrown--"
An awful, terrible pressure spiked all around them. The air screamed, as if keening, and far down the street windows shattered. The breaking spread, quick as lightning, until it rocked past Ana and into the distance. Ana leaned upon her iron rod, tilted into the shockwave, and barely kept her feet. She looked up as blood trailed from her nose and ears. The sky had been riven, the clouds banished in a perfect pattern above the alabaster tower. To her eyes, the remnants of an unimaginable sending trailed upward, outward.
Eyes of Silver Sight is level 98!
"He did it. He altered the ritual," Ana whispered. Sorrow hung from her lips before her tone sunk into breathy relief. "They'll come. Thank the gods."
Ana dropped her iron rod and turned away from the tower. She stepped carefully over the prone lamplighter. The other woman moaned on the ground while her ears and nose bled profusely, but Ana paid her little mind. She had a long way to go before lying down could even be considered. Against all odds, a summons had been performed.
She prayed it would be enough.
Power lanced through the clouds, implacable, arcing along a path known only to itself. Colorless and invisible, the only evidence of its passing was a sense of concordant melody that lingered in the air long after it departed. It crossed the Continent like a tiny, contained hurricane, kindling storms along the Oscallan Plains before kissing the craggy peaks of the West.
Following a path set into its ritual, a course unused in Ages.
The power descended from on high, blowing into a dank, fog-strewn valley filled with the stench of burnt flesh and rotting vegetation. It twisted through a row of rusted blades, each larger than any Human, sending rainbow-hued sparks cascading from their faded edges. Mana gathered along them, boosting the power as it passed.
Eyes, ancient and deep, watched from within that fog. Hungry things that lived in the dark of that place, unable to venture out. One in particular woke from an atavistic slumber, yellowed bones creaking as the clutch of potent Mana flitted through its grasp. It cried out, a breathy scream that shook the earth, a moaning of hunger.
A thread of its crimson Intent wove among the corroded blades, tangling with the power as it wove among the odd artifacts; remnants of an ancient civilization fallen to Ruin. The flush of bloody red stained the power, but gave it the juice it needed to escape the tangle of rusted blades. It arced upward, toward the sky.
The power shifted, altered its course, and punched a hole through the icy mist and then hollowed out the clouds above. It leaped beyond the thin coating of tepid gasses far above the Continent's surface. It speared toward the moons, those eternal, celestial bodies that ruled the heavens and the net of nigh invisible power that criss-crossed the sky. Flashes of bronze, gold, silver, orange, purple, and blue-white sparked around the sending, an aurora that streamed about its crown and slowed it's push for freedom.
The sanguine Intent surged, hurtling the summons beyond the ephemeral net that held it back. Free, it shot off into the Void beyond the stars, where the darkness pressed close and the songs of creation dimmed to almost nothing.
Among that darkness, the power thinned, losing pieces of itself as it passed unnaturally bright holes in the inky black. The nine strands of the summon's woven Mana were stripped raw, peeled away and cast into the Void until only a portion remained. This one, lonely piece of the summons shot unerringly forth, touched still by a carmine glow. It continued, beyond the lingering symphony of existence and into the bare echoes of it's dwindling refrain.
To a blue-green marble set beyond the Void, where even echoes came to die.