The stone hungers

JP with Winteroak and Bandorchu

He heard her approach as she came from behind him.
Tar was concentrated on the stone.
He remembered this clearing well. Still know he could tell there was a shadow her. A darkness that was ancient. Older than the sacrifices of Slivikhi. Older than the shameful killing that went on that first Winter, where men and women had partaken from the flesh of their brothers and sisters.

No, the shadow hanging over this palace was much older than that. Older than the sacrifices done by the Plains Tribes, older than their coming to the Plains. Almost as old as the mountains of Fang. The stone in the centre of the clearing seemed to anchor reality around it. It had a corrosive quality to it in Tar's eyes. Now he could see it's true nature.

"This stone..." He said speaking to her as she came closer. " It feel here millennia ago. From up there. From the great void that we look upon every night..."

Alexis came to stand beside him, looking at him as he spoke.

“You’re saying it came from the sky…?”

She looked at the stone contemplatively.

“I guess that makes it an intruder in its own rights.”

"These woods grew around it. It's roots are deeper than the largest oak." He said in that far way voice he assumed when revelation descend on him.
"It has soaked the blood of thousands of lives. It has eaten souls. And it still thirsts for more..."

Alexis didn’t really know what to say to that.

She still didn’t know how to measure the things he said when he got like that. How should she, not knowing who or what granted him those insights, and with what intentions?

But, as it did often, it made sense in a strange way. Maybe it wasn’t that the blood sacrifices had tainted this place… maybe the place itself called to those who were willing to conduct such sacrifices?

“… is there something that can be done to stop this?”

Tar finally pulled his gaze from the eerie stone, that had served so many times as a sacrificial altar.
"The forces at play here are beyond our ken." He said. "I had hoped never to cast my eyes upon this clearing." She saw a flash of something haunting crossing his features. "How have you come to own this land?" He asked curiously.

“A boon for my aid in ending the Creed’s machinations last winter. With a little catch, since the Duke wasn’t exactly happy with my request.”

Alexis shortly explained. Her gaze still rested on the stone, yet another thing she couldn’t do anything about.

She saw the same surprised expression on his face as when he discovered both her and Gonyaul had killed the Naylmo.
"You ended the Creed?" He asked her incredulously.

“I wish. No. But we killed the one leading the cult at that point, and quite a number of its members. The rest seems to be on the run - for now, at least.”

He looked at her with a newfound respect. "You killed the Preacher of Slivikhi?"

Alexis just nodded.

“They were already active when you were still around, weren’t they?”

He nodded. "People come here for many reasons." He started. "Most want a new start, to forget their past, but some of us, if not all bring along parts of our culture and traditions that take on a life of their own." He seems stop be gasping at a concept he had thought about much. "We bring our gods, our superstitions, our myths. And here in Arcadia they will grow a life of their own. Until one day, they will no longer be the same as the ones we left back in Helias." He paused. "It all started that Winter. I doubt anyone had even heard of Slivikhi before that. Before they took Felfar for the first time" he recounted.
"But there is no doubt in my mind he found His way here. Somehow, that Winter..."

“Belief made reality, evolving into something new…”

She gave a joyless smile.

“Yeah. Sounds about right for Arcadia.”

He nodded at her wise words. Gods created Men and Men sustain the Gods. Or maybe it was the other way around.
"I would like to visit the city tomorrow. The sooner we get the map the sooner I will tell your where your friend is."


She didn’t comment further. Whatever knowledge he might offer to Islana’s whereabouts, it was likely too little, too late, after he had dragged her all the way back to Ostiarium. So it wasn’t really a factor. But let him think whatever he liked.

“I’ll head back.”
She said, starting to make her way back to the lodge.

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