And so, the Emporium once again has an offering to showcase. This was originally a mere plot-bunny sparked by something said in passing elsewhere, but after a few days incubating in Notepad, it has grown a bit larger than the Emporium's usual display-cases.
If you think this sounds familiar, and think that you know where it comes from, include your guess in your PM. (It won't affect your chances if you're wrong or don't know - I just like to know when my in-jokes are recognized.) I've always loved a good epic ballad, and the fact that bards these days use electric guitars instead of lutes makes no difference to me.
The Cycle is twelve. It has always been twelve. For some, it is months. For some, it is years. For some... well, that's another thing all together. In the old days, they named the moon's Cycle. Fish. Ram. Bull. All familiar names, circling to form the next Cycle. The sun's Cycle was named as well. Boar. Snake. Monkey. Familiar names again, but the Cycle beyond that was not named. Regardless, it still progressed. Nameless, the wheel still spun. Twelve Cycles of the sun made one step on that next, larger, older Cycle. Twelve steps before it returned to its beginning. Twelve long steps, until Cycle ended, and the beginning was barely remembered by those (if any) who were alive at its dawn.
Still, there were the stories, passed down among the Wise. After the twelfth long step, there would be something new. A mystic time between Time, where the wheels turned as one for a space. Thirteen times, the moon would turn, and the sun would carry the name of Fox. Then, all the Cycles would begin anew.
In the Western Zodiac, twelve signs (houses) make the cycle of the year. In the Eastern Zodiac, the twelve signs (houses) form a twelve-year cycle. Above that is another cycle, not created by man. Each twelve-year cycle is only one 'house' in that cycle, making it a total of 144 years to reach the end (long enough for the happenings of the previous 'between time' to be considered 'historical' instead of 'present day', or even to be nearly forgotten). After the end of the 144-year cycle is something equivalent to the epagomenal days of the Egyptian calendars - a period of time that is not part of any cycle. In this case, the period is thirteen turns of the moon (one 'turn' of the sun plus one 'turn' of the moon).
The time between has come. At the beginning of this time, the Wise say, one will be chosen. None could say for sure what they would be chosen for
. Some tales spoke of the Bride of Heaven. Others spoke of a champion against the Dark. The one who was chosen seemed to be neither - no blushing maiden or steel-thewed warrior. Instead, he seemed a quiet scholar (my character), completely bewildered at the mandate laid on him.
Several days' travel into the wilderness, where the earth's very bones are exposed in a high flat hill of basalt, is a formation known as 'The Temple'. It was not made by human hands, but despite the veil of age it seems too precise to be natural: Thirteen pillars spaced evenly in a circle, the floor lined with cracks that are eerily reminiscent of tiles. Some say that during storms, those pillars carry the lightning into the cracks, creating arcane symbols from a time before mankind. This is his destination. Here is where he will meet his fate.Author's Note: In the standard Hero's Quest, the Hero is not always who you expect. Nevertheless, he is guided to a place of trials, where he communes with powers beyond the natural world. He is not guaranteed to succeed, or even to return. Perhaps he will fail, and be overcome by those powers - or he might eventually return to the natural world with a gift from Those Beyond. Of course, Those Beyond may have strange ideas of what constitutes a 'gift'.