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Golden Sun: Alchemy's Reckoning


Prologue Part 2: Light and Glass

On the balcony of her palace, surrounded by the somber-faced master mages of the Order of the Seventh Veil, Queen Sveta looked out over her precious city in dismay. The blasts of lightning were growing in intensity, and they were powerful enough now to tear bricks from foundation. Fires had started in the heart of the city, and before long Belinsk would burn to the ground. Terrified citizens were running from their homes.

Her oracle had warned her that today would be the last day of her reign. She could only hope that it would not also be the last day of her city.


-


In the heart of the ruins beneath Belinsk's library, in a secret room forgotten by time, a man wearing fine silk gloves and a white porcelain mask stood at the epicenter of the storm. His hands danced in intricate patterns swiftly and purposefully, weaving enchantment after enchantment in exact sequence. His lips moved invisibly behind the mask, whispering an incantation that had not been uttered on Weyard in millennia.

In the time of the Jenei, those who performed this ritual were punished with death.

Four rods were set up in a perfect diamond around him. The jewels of power at their tops began to glow brilliantly—one shining golden like sunlight, one blazing fire-red, one pulsing brilliant amethyst, and the last radiating aquamarine.

His beatific smile was hidden by the mask. The music in his head stormed to a triumphant climax. His time was so close. His power would soon be so great.


-


Abraham and Vera moved as quickly as their feet could propel them. The hallways were filled with the chaotic clatter of their footfalls and their sharp gasps for breath. Their lungs and legs burned from the exertion, but they didn't care; if it killed them to save the thousands who lived in the city, they would accept that price without hesitation.

They dashed down through the ruins, over narrow catwalks suspended above gaping voids filled with heavy, inscrutable machines, through tunnels and up ladders, past so many statues of angels looking down on them with judgment and condemnation in their ancient eyes.

As they drew closer to the source, the smell of burning oil became stronger until it was almost nauseating, and the generator hum grew to a dull metallic roar, and the faint clink of interlocking gears became so loud in their ears that someone may as well have been slamming iron bars together next to their heads.

But most unsettling of all was that they could feel sympathy to a pain too great for words being experienced by someone or something they could not identify. A pain so powerful that nature itself was in anguish. Vera, naturally more sensitive to the equilibrium of the elements than Abraham, suffered the worst of that phantom pain. But even Abraham—who was ever only dimly aware of the ambient elemental powers—could feel it now. That scared him.

They followed the trail of open doors, smashed puzzles, and expertly-killed monster corpses until they were forced to stop. Before them stood a set of colossal marble double doors, severe and impassable, set into a wall covered with runes and symbols whose meanings were lost with the secrets of the Jenei.

Then, with muscles aching and guilt for not getting here sooner eating away at their souls, they tried to pull the doors open to no avail.


-


Behind the doors, the porcelain-masked man continued his ritual, oblivious to the desperate pounding of psynergy against the marble. Even if he had heard it, it wouldn't have made a difference. His wards and buffers would hold off meddling outsiders for just long enough.

The marble doors suddenly exploded inwards, blown clear off of their massive hinges by a hurricane-force gale. Vera stood in the door frame, huffing and panting, dizzy from the amount of psynergy she had expended to do that.

The masked man did not bat an eyebrow as Abraham charged into the room with a raised sword. Abraham collided with his whole body into a wall of force that held him back with ease.

"Stop what you're doing at once!" Abraham bellowed as he picked himself up.

The masked man ignored Abraham entirely and continued his incantation.

Abraham heard Vera gasp behind him.

"Captain, look! The cages!" Vera shouted.

Abraham surveyed the room and saw that it was a circular chamber with dark glassy walls holding back dark swirling smoke and cackling purple bolts of electricity, and the walls were lined with cages of prismatic light holding...

"Djinn," Abraham said beneath his breath. "There are so many of them..."

Dozens of Djinn trapped by psynergy, screaming in agony as the masked man drained their spirits with his ritual.

"Vera, can you break down the barriers?"

"I don't know," she replied, her eyes flying back and forth between the masked man and the dying Djinn. "He has so much power at his disposal, I..."

Then the masked man spoke the last words of the incantation, and with one hand outstretched to the side and the other clenched in a fist above his head, he became still. The flow of psynergy through his hands became so blindingly bright that Vera and Abraham had to look away. Then the light subsided, and all was quiet.

"I'm terribly sorry for whatever damage your city may have suffered," the masked man said after a moment's silence, letting his hands drop to his side. His voice was measured, almost flat, but somehow just the slightest bit coy. "I'm afraid this was the only place I've found where that ritual can be performed."

There was a soft whir as the room began to rise like an elevator.

"You had no right," growled Abraham.

"It doesn't matter. In a moment we'll see if I was successful. And if I was... I promise that in my new world order, I will put right whatever wrongs I have inadvertently caused."

"If you live past the next five minutes," Abraham said. "On behalf of Queen Sveta of the Fang Tribe, in accordance with the law of Belinsk, on my honor as Captain of the Royal Guard and—"

"For the love of the stars, shut up," the masked man said.

Abraham glowered in response.

"Are the barriers down?" Abraham asked Vera in a low voice. Vera shook her head.

"I can't do it. But there's something I have to know," Vera said, before turning to the masked man and stepping forward. "What did you just do?"

"Ah, of course you must be curious, young seer. Naturally, you would realize that I did more than just conjure up a storm. So I have a question for you first. Did you know that if you ask Djinn politely enough, there are a number of divine powers that they can summon for you to do your bidding?" the masked man asked. He tilted his head to the side just slightly, as if to suggest that his question was not rhetorical. "Well, as it turns out, those summons are only the ones who are willing to come."

At that moment, the roof of the chamber slid away and the entire room emerged into daylight. From here, Abraham could see that the room was now on top of a high tower overlooking Belinsk from the bay. It wasn't Eclipse Tower, but someplace entirely new. It must have emerged from the water as they rose.

And Abraham saw that the sky, which had been black as doom and storming when they entered the library, was now motionless as if it was about to fall.

The masked man clasped his hands behind his back and began to walk forward.

"There are many other such powers who will not heed the call of the Djinn. Not unless you force them to. Not unless you bind them to the mortal plane with alchemy. Not unless you have the knowledge to make that binding. That knowledge was lost for ages... Until now."

"You did something you shouldn't have," Vera said, horror dawning on her face. "You did something terrible. You couldn't hear the Djinn screaming. You don't know what they know. You don't know who you summoned."

The masked man said nothing as the clouds parted and golden light poured through. Then out from the hole in the sky stepped a titan of light, tall as a lighthouse and brighter than the sun, blazing brilliantly in the gloom.


-


The news spread quickly across Angara. It traveled in hushed voices at dinner tables, in raucous drunken stories in taverns, in disbelieving shock at ports among foreigners. It was met with terror and dismay and endless superstitious fear.

"Belinsk is no more."

The story grew as it went. Everyone who told it folded rumors and speculation into it until the truth was lost among the most popular variations. But every story of how it happened ended the same way.

"And then everything in Belinsk was turned to glass."

Some said it was an army of adepts from Bilibin, seeking revenge for the Border War. Some said it was Dullahan, the boogeyman of nearly every good ghost story, because the beastmen of Belinsk stole his head a thousand years ago. And then there were some, unaware that they were passing on a grain of truth, who said that it was the wrath of an angry God.

Few dared to travel to that ruined city afterwards, and merchants made new roads to travel on so they would never even need to get close. Only a few brave explorers went, and what they saw would haunt them in their nightmares for years to come.

They said they saw the city in perfect freeze-frame, in shining opalescent crystal. The ground, the buildings, the trees—everything was crystal. There were crystal people in the streets, their faces frozen in fright, running at full speed away from the center of the city. There were crystal parents, crouching in the crystal streets, clutching their crystal children tightly, as if to shield them from whatever nightmare had fallen upon this place. And the image of crystal Queen Sveta, eternally weeping in anguish for her city, moved many to tears.

And yet, when those explorers woke up panting and gasping and soaked in sweat from their nightmares, the last moments of their dreams had never featured any of those things. Instead, their nightmares were filled with the crystallized bodies of the people who were standing perfectly still, not running away—just staring up at the sky at the same point on the horizon. No one knew what those people had spent the last moments of their lives looking at. And no one ever could. Because now, where all of those awe-struck people had looked, stood nothing at all.


All Original Content © 2002 - 2010 Golden Sun Adept's Refuge.
Golden Sun™ © 2002 Nintendo/Camelot
No copyright infringement intended, view the credits.

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