Below Ground

1628, Storm Season, Death Week, Windsday


Long ago Lord Eril saw a friend make a terrifying mistake. Even now that he has no friends, he is still dealing with it.


On Death-of-Storm night he walks down into the darkness below the Temple. He has been here before and it never gets easier.

In 1600, Eril came here with Gorak, who had had a vision, and wanted to show him the result. In the moment of Gorak drawing his sword, both knew something was terribly wrong. Eril saw his struggle to resheath it, but could not help, for the cut that was forming in the world itself was between them. His High Sword’s arrival and channelling of the god saved a disaster.

In 1625, Eril took possession of the Temple he had won through his labours. He looked on the problem that the Lunars either had not discovered, or had not cared to deal with, and called for his Rune Lords.

It is 1628, Storm Season. The cut in the world is smaller again. It can never be healed, but the power of it can be displaced, if not blunted.

His Wyter Priest thinks that there is a way down to the underworld in this place. She is right about the function of the Temple, but impressively wrong about what is really here. It is possible to descend to the underworld from such a holy ground, but it requires ritual, power, magic.

This cut in the world, made by Humakt’s blessing on Harsaltar, requires all of those and more, to keep it from spreading forever.

The place smells of old incense, of damp stone, and cold air. When he first opened it, there was still a guardian here, but her body has been buried and her spirit moved on. The cairn was made of rocks from the wall she helped to build.

No doubt it was weakness within him to release a ghost, but during the events that the merchant Irillo began, he was not thinking clearly. The aftermath was difficult, even for one such as he, and the notion of a ghost being pinned to such a place disturbed him.

She could not help with the ritual, anyway, and there is a door here now, to stop the curious from coming too far. He tells himself that he does not need her, and tries to forget the relief on her features as he let her loose.

Every Rune Lord is here. Every Rune Lord knows the responsibility. The cut in the world is black, not as a darkness, but as an absence. The edges of it are a livid red, as Glorantha struggles for life.

Everyone is silent as Eril approaches the cut, and beseeches the god directly to let the others interact with it. Only three men have ever been able to; one died with his Temple, one is far away, and he is the last.

For a few agonising seconds he holds that possibility, while the others do what he has ordered, taking the edge and guarding it within their swords. The Rune is the shape of Death, but this cut is its ultimate power. It cannot be undone, but it can be altered—

It is done. He releases the hold he has on it. The Rune Lords leave at his gesture. There is nothing more to do, but he needs to remember how to be alive, how to be a mortal. The god calls him here, more than in other places.

As a minor detail, he cannot move, save if it were to fall to his knees. Every part of him is drained. It is harder as a hero, for he is aware of how he uses more of himself, and he has to control it.

The Wyter’s worship brings him back to himself. A well-timed reminder. Of course, he too knows what happened here, and unlike his Priest has the intelligence to work out the true significance.

Lord Eril puts out a hand to the wall, using it for guidance, not support. Lord Tertip ran this way once, noticing the problem before anyone else, bringing the Rune Lords in his wake. He likely died defending his altar.

It was Tertip who cast him from the Regiment.