Preface for my untitled dark fantasy series
|Year 1646, Last year of the Old Age
The twelve of them stood atop the highest grassy hill in view, gazing inwards in a circle as the dew of the morning grasses rose about them in a strange shimmering dance. Brown robes billowing in the strong breeze, the twelve shamans stood, palms outstretched to the man or woman across from them toward the center of the circle.
The tallest of them, a man by the name of Rogar stepped inwards, his bone necklace making a clicking as he paused before the center of the circle. He began a low, barely audible chant that seemed to reach from the depths of his soul and into the hearts and minds of the eleven standing around him.
As if in response to his chanting, the wind increased in strength, the robes of the shamans whipping so quickly they seemed to be trying to flay those around them. In response to the gust, a second shaman stepped into the circle, opposite the first. She held her gnarled hands above his, and joined in his chant, quietly at first but slowly rising until her soft voice sung across the rolling range of hills. The wind blew harder in response, and on the horizon black clouds flew, gathered into a dark seething mass.
The third stepped into the circle and picked up the chant, and the gust that came nearly blew the shamans off their feet, but they did not fall, and steady as a rock came the next man putting his hands above the other three and picking up the chant. The clouds flew closer and the sun dimmed and was extinguished by the blackness, and shadow covered the hill. It was as though the very elements did not want this ritual completed.
The fifth man joined in, and the rain began. The sixth, a woman this time, added her voice to the song and the rain flooded the land around the hill. The seventh put his hands with the others, and ice began to fall from the sky. As the eighth, ninth and tenth shaman joined the center, the sky was darker than night, the rain flew from the side, carried by the wind which howled like wolves through the valleys, and the ice cut and scarred the shamans beyond recognition. Then the eleventh man, second from last stepped forth into the circle and joined his loud and powerful voice to the song, and the wind died. The rain weakened, and the ice moved off.
Finally, the last of the great shamans stepped into the circle. Her voice keened high and loud, and the earth began to tremble. The shamans all raised their heads to the sky and raised their voice to match the shrill voice of the twelfth. The trembling of the ground increased in intensity and a loud, powerful crack sent blood flowing from the shamans ears. The shamans closed their eyes, and abruptly silenced the song. As they opened them again, they saw above them the hill they had been standing on, and the twelve corpses that had been their bodies for nearly a century. Beneath their feet was a desolate plain that expanded in all directions.
The shamans stared at their work, and stared at each other, at each unrecognizable face, torn by the storm and the power that had flown through them. The price they had suffered so that others may live in peace, at least for now.