Forgotten Realms 1372

of the finding of things long lost to the world, and the rebirth of Kul Hadar

It seems so long ago now, that I took my first steps on the path I now tread. I can only muse and speculate as to whether or not the cold summers spent with my mother’s folk in Narfell following the herds of elk, and the winters spent further south with my father’s family being tutored and schooled in the ways of the world, have helped to prepare me for what’s to come. It began with the coming of spring. I had finished my studies at my father’s home and had traveled north to Narfell to meet with my mother’s tribe. The tribe had been following a small herd of red elk into territory that was unfamiliar to me. As we camped one evening, I set out to explore in an attempt to satiate my ever burgeoning curiosity. I found myself pursuing an enormous black fox that led me afar on the mighty fields of the tundra. For many leagues I trailed it, coming never within reach of the beast; and at length I came to a great mound on the plain that seemed to mark the position of a buried hill. I thought that the fox entered a cavern in the mound; so, with little fear and a piqued interest, I went after it into the cavern. The place was like a chamber of boreal kings or gods. All about me, in a dim green light, were huge, glimmering pillars; and giant icicles hung from the roof in the form of stalactites. The floor sloped downward; and I came to the cave’s end without finding any trace of the fox. I discovered at the farthest end of the cave, in the lowermost portion of the glistening walls, a thin fissure wide enough to admit an individual of my slight build. Peering into it I could sense the openness of the space beyond and clambered through the narrow opening into the darkness of the adjacent chamber. The crack opened into a sloping tunnel which I began to make my way down, by means of feeling along the smooth surface of the walls and searching blindly before myself with my other hand to ward off any overhanging stone formations that I might stumble into. I proceeded in this manner for two dozen paces before the ground seemed to give way beneath me and I slid headlong down into the inky blackness of the cave’s hidden recesses. I came to a stop at the entrance of a chamber bathed in the same dim green light as the one I had initially entered, and in that light I beheld the subtle outline of the room before me. It was a squat, plain temple of black basalt blocks without a single carving, and containing only a vacant onyx pedestal. There issued forth from the pedestal a soft and alluring sound which reminded me at once of being held by my mother after having woken in a cold sweat brought on by the many nightmares I was plagued with as a child. The sound was a song, but not the song of any voice. Night and the spheres sang it, and it was old when space and Mystra and the other Gods were born. I was captivated by it and found myself settling to the floor and drifting into a kind of half-sleep in which I perceived the chamber filling with mist. The mist billowed into clouds and I had the sensation of floating up off of the cold stone floor and ascending into the impossible space above the chamber. Then suddenly the clouds thinned and the stars shone spectrally above. All below was still black, but those pallid beacons in the sky seemed alive with a meaning and directness they had never possessed elsewhere. It was not that the figures of the constellations were different, but that the same familiar shapes now revealed a significance they had formerly failed to make plain. Everything focused toward the north; every curve and asterism of the glittering sky became part of a vast design whose function was to hurry first the eye and then the whole observer onward to some secret and terrible goal of convergence beyond the frozen waste that stretched endlessly ahead. There was a strange and ominous presence with me then, which surrounded me and filled me. It spoke to me in long dead languages which I comprehended plainly, though I had never before heard their like. It wove into my mind tales of places and things which now remain only half-remembered, as if seen in a dream. It held me and bore me gently to the ground as the blackness about me fell over my eyes like a pall. I thought myself passed from the realm of the living, awaiting Kelemvor’s judgment before entering the afterlife, but opened my eyes to find myself lying at the entrance to the cavern in the mound and with the vaguest recollection of thunder in the distance. I returned to the camp and was met with suspicious stares and sidelong glances. I recall that the people of the tribe went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. My dreams that night were filled with strange and dark things and I awoke with the sense that I needed to leave, that something was waiting for me out in the world. I gathered my things and absentmindedly left camp in the early twilight hours of the morning. I was confident that my feet would carry me in the right direction, though I knew not why, or to where I was being led. Kul



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