Mid 1610s, Heortland.


It is known in his Temple that Eril quested for his own Wyter to create his Regiment. He was at the time a Rune Lord.


His exit strategy is simple enough; he must succeed. If he does, getting out will prove no problem. If he fails, it will not be a problem he needs to address.

The lightless tunnels would be an obstacle if he needed to see, but he has been used to trusting his spirit ally for a long time. A lesser man would balk at the concentration needed to listen for those things he must hear, while also letting his ally guide him.

`steps three stop left two handspans lower head large stride one only...`

He obeys, ignoring the sensation of the yawning void to his left, the brush of his hair against the roof. He does not need to ask how low, or how long – Athanu will put him right if he goes wrong. What he needs to do is listen, for that is a sense his spirit does not have. Athanu calculates, and gives an answer. It can see the outside world, but only hear through its master.

*click* The sound of a pebble falling. His enemy has found him, and so he informs Athanu.

`pit left rubble right back tall wall right full tunnel void right forward` it informs him in turn. The mostly likely place for the ambush, and the place where he would have thought it was, is the tunnel that Athanu cannot see into.

For the first time in over an hour, he draws his sword. Athanu is light – a continuation of himself. He extends that part of him, the part that can see from its own blade, to find out what is there… `two` is all he gets, and the sudden need to pull back – Athanu does not have time to put more into words.

He does not move his feet, only flicks his sword out of harm’s way, and as a long spike stabs outwards, cuts it neatly off. That is one of the Rune Magics of these accursed people, and he will not allow it to triumph.

The brief moment allows Athanu to present a bewildering array of options. He ignores them all, and does what is simplest; steps around the corner and kills two things that try to kill him, quietly, in the darkness.

`acceptable substitute` Athanu tells him.

It is deep in the darkness that he finds his greatest challenge, the one he expected. A golden pool, a few meters across, no deeper than the span of his hand. He must commit to this. Every part of him must have self-belief for it to work.

This will not be a problem.

He unbuckles his sword, and lays it carefully on a rock set higher than the ground around. Athanu complains `should continue` but it is wrong; there is no place for calculation or information here, only will. He does not step in. He dives.

Belief. Trust. Knowledge. Use any of them hard enough, and they are all the same thing. He knows he will not impact on the ground, and he finds himself below the surface, swimming in the blood of a god. Pausing to be satisfied that he has passed the first test would be lethal; he simply calls out for the thing that he wants, seeking it as he moves.

Power. Larnste’s blood gathered here, and spirits came, drawn to it, but none could resist him, and they are all one now, but importantly, what they are, even now, is a beginning. Eril calls them to form, but as he does they rush through him, seeking out his secrets, his fears, his sorrows. They find his emptiness, and make their offer.

Stay. We will give you a past. You will remember.

He does not even bother replying, just ignores them. These are the weaker things, the rank of skirmishers.

When the next arrives, it hits his spirit hard enough to hurt, offering him a future of ceaseless change and joy. Inelegantly, caught by surprise, he forms the image of a fist, breaks it to pieces.

Deeper into the pool, deeper into the last remains of the god who seeded mountains, Eril moves, and it moves through him, strengthening him and changing him. He could return a hero.

Just in time, he catches the change in his thinking, and rejects it. Feels the weight of change pass him by. There is no time for recriminations; only concentration will let him triumph, only triumph will save him.

Then, finally, his test is on him. The waters about him freeze, and breath is denied him. He could die here. That would be failure, and he will not allow it.

He pushes against all the weight and solidity that makes the seed of a mountain, flexes his hand against the changes that will be required, and forces everything he wants into one place.

He gets most of it, and rises dripping from the pool, which is smaller, diminished by what he has taken. He holds it in his right hand, a sword made of amber and gold, which he changes to iron, while things are still capable of changing. Iron is the Death metal, and the thing that grows in it must grow into the right shape. That was the secret that everyone else missed; you cannot simply find what you want here. You must make it.

He picks up Athanu, and golden liquid flows onto his companions’s hilt. That, he forgot to plan for. `what-was?`

Athanu has never asked a question before, or been curious about the past. Eril does not stop to wonder about that, just makes his way out, the iron sword gleaming in his hand. The intelligence within is nascent, unsure of its new place in the world, a thing that has never been seen before.

Eril brings Death out of the underworld, alone and without a trickster.