The Ramblings of Mage Jinks (Summer 1096)
“Long ago, back in 397 as I recall. Yes that was the year. The First Empire was at its height.
“The Summer was the longest and hottest in living memory. For long months the drought had lasted, crops had withered and the herds had suffered badly. At first the warm weather had been welcomed. Farmers spoke of fine crops and no one was worried. Then the rivers began to dry up, lakes became memories and only the deepest wells were full.
“The College of Mages met in council to try breaking the drought and for many nights the witchlight shone from the windows of Malkarn Halls. Days became weeks and the aura of magic grew so strong that you could feel it in the air. The came the day when all was ready.
“The Mages came forth from all corners of the Empire and began to prepare a mighty ritual. More and more of them came to form the largest ritual group that has ever assembled.
“The chant began. Many voices were raised together. Items of power were invoked, enchanted incense was burnt. The great tomes were opened fully and the Void itself was called down. Then it was done and, high above the city, dark clouds began to form. Gentle rain began to fall across the land. Crowds watched initially with disappointment as the first drops turned into steam. But the rain continued to fall. Puddles began to form and only then did the dancing and singing begin.
“Was there nothing we could not do? Was there nothing that the Empire could not achieve? Our Mages had tapped the great thread of water that was a cornerstone of our world. For days it rained and the rivers flowed once more, lakes filled and the crops began to grow.
“Thus it was done and the Mages went back to their normal tasks, apart from a few who remained to hold the binding ritual.
“The last weeks of Summer were a testament to the Empire’s might. Long hot days broken occasionally by light falls of rain that came from clear skies. The whole world marvelled at the power of the Empire. Many of the great lords and kings came from the provinces to see what had been done. Every man and woman in the Empire walked proudly and tall.
“Then came the month of September and I travelled to the Tower of the Arcane in Estragales. Every few years I used to visit each of the great towers to collect any new books and scrolls that have been found and deliver them to the Great Library.
“On the evening of the tenth, I used the ritual circle to contact Malkarn Halls and spoke to the duty mage. The communication spell gave me a clear view of the Malkarn ritual circle and I saw three figures appear. The circle glowed as the figures stepped out of the Void itself. The first was tall and heavy built, clad in plate of fire and mail of blood. The second was tall and slim and she wore fine mail of glowing embers. The last was Dwarven, robed in cloth of red gold.
“The first two drew swords and cut down the Rainmakers. The Dwarf stepped into the circle and began to chant. Flames began to break through the floor of the circle and a great ring of fire sprang up. Outside the circle I could see guards and Warlocks failing to break through.
“Within the circle, elemental fire came forth and was bound in place. As I watched, the dwarf took hold of the bindings of the Tome of Water and the Tome of Fire and pulled them together. Primal Fire met Primal Water and for a second the two struggled together, but the fires called by one mage could not stand against the waters called by a thousand. The flames were quenched and, as they were extinguished, the dwarf and his companions vanished back into the Void.
“With no ritual group to control it the full power of Water was unleashed. Great torrents of water poured into the circle from the air. The greatest river ever seen began flowing into the heart of the city. Frantic mages tried to stop the flow. Salnic of Erin teleported into the circle and gave his own life trying to stem the torrent.
“Earthquakes began, shattering the nearby buildings. People fleeing from the falling buildings were washed away in the flood.
“Beside me, the Estragalian circle pulsed and a score of mages appeared, clutching families and apprentices. Then a handful more appeared soaked and shivering. Through the link I saw the great towers of Malkarn shatter. The mighty halls crumbled and the city began to sink.
“Suddenly, out of the waters rose the mighty ironclad shape of the Guardian Golem. It was strong enough to walk against the full might of the waters. Somewhere deep within its simple mind it seemed to have decided that its enemy was the circle. It reached the outer stones and raised a massive fist. Down came the blow and a column shattered. Within the circle magic began to swirl and spin. A second blow fell and another of the columns was smashed.
“ Beneath my feet the ground trembled and shook. The link broke and water washed across my feet. I spun in surprise to see, standing in a pool of water the Grand Master Mage, Floris Merddyn, the Tomes of Magic held tightly in his arms.
“I rode South the following morning before the sun had risen. All attempts to open a circle within the Empire had failed and so horses would have to do. Four days of hard riding took me to the hills that marked the Empire’s Northern border. Through the hills I rode, towards the great plain. Thus it was that I came to the shores of a new sea.
“The Empire was gone. Every city and town beneath the waves that now covered my homeland. Except for a few pitiful survivors huddled along the shore there was nothing left, nothing at all…”