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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:33 pm 

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 889
Seek and You Shall Find
by Aaarrrgh and RuwinReborn
Status: Public :diamond:
Word Count: 2,855

Tey’von put down the old tome he had been reading. Sometimes there was as much to learn from dead and forgotten faiths as from active ones. And here, he had found something truly interesting: a drawing of a dragon. There are many drawings of dragons around the planes, but most of them do not get reproduced outside the plane where they were first drawn. This dragon however was also drawn on the doors of an ancient abandoned temple Tey’von had visited over a year earlier, hidden away on a small plane called Sankar. He felt certain that the True Faith would not be contained to a single plane, so any references that he could find across different planes were a cause for excitement. On the other hand, he thought to himself, it was probably a planeswalker. He suppressed a sigh. Why was it always planeswalkers? On the other hand (he had four, which greatly extended his capacity to argue with himself), it would do him no harm to investigate.

According to the book, the drawing was taken from a ruin found deep in the desert. Tey’von mused for a moment about the contrast this posed to the coastal temple where he had last seen the drawing, but decided that whoever built these things must have valued seclusion and safety over comfort. That did seem to be the only similarity in the locations. He wondered if there was some deeper meaning to that fact that he had not yet grasped.

After purchasing supplies, he set out on a three day trek. People warned him against going alone, but it was the only way he really knew how to travel. Besides, unlike most people, he could leave the desert at any time should it prove too challenging. The book had provided him with a good map showing how the ruins were situated in relationship to the two nearby oases, and so he had no problem finding it. The stone building was impressive despite its state of decay, and Tey’von felt suddenly sad that he could not ask the builders what had motivated them to raise such a monument. To the Church of the Unknown, having the wisdom and motivation of an entire faith lost was true loss indeed. And Tey’von was certain that this was a work of faith. He could feel it in his bones when he reached a place of worship, there was simply something in the air around it. He walked up to the entrance, noting that there should have been a pair of wooden doors there which clearly had long since decayed. Stepping into the main chamber of the temple, he took a few moments to let his eyes adjust to the dim interior. This process was helped by the fact that part of the roof had collapsed, letting a few rays of sunshine in. All things considered, the temple was in a good state. Despite the damage and wear, there was only a thin layer of sand covering the floor, with some more impressive dunes against the back wall. Something caught Tey’von’s eye. There was a strange glimmer under the sand. Gingerly, he bent down and used his hands to clear a patch of floor.

He had found his dragon. There had been faint outlines on the walls, but the image on the floor was still as clear as if it had been carved the same morning. After some extended sweeping Tey’von had uncovered the entire carving, which framed a wheel-like pattern in the temple floor’s center. Now that he could see it clearly it gave him pause. Not only was it clearly visible, it seemed to actually be faintly glowing. He had not expected that at all. There had been no mention of this in the book, nor had there been anything like it in the other temple he had visited.

Tey’von took a moment to focus and examine the glowing dragon, and soon detected a trace of magic on it. Carefully he reached out with some magic of his own, and then watched in shock as the floor started sinking. After a quick moment of near panic, he realized that the whole floor was not falling out under him, but only the section within the dragon shape. And it didn’t simply fall, but sank down in sections, forming a spiral staircase. Cautiously, preparing a protective spell, Tey'von descended into the darkness.

What he found was impressive, and far more fitting for an ancient interplanar religion than the surface chapel had been. As soon as he entered the chamber, ancient enchantments seemed to awaken, and a series of glowstones lit the intricately decorated walls. Again, the dragon imagery was prevalent, but there were also carvings of other figures. Tey'von could make out three prominent figures, presumably a group of prophets, and a series of pictures seeming to show them bring truth and prosperity to the land. Presumably that happened before the desert moved in and covered everything.

At that moment, Tey'von realized something. Apart from what had fallen when he opened the staircase, there was no sand down here. Somehow this entire chamber, far larger than the one above, had been kept pristine. And that seemed impossible. Tey'von knew he was not the first person to explore here since the temple had been abandoned, the book he had followed here proved that. Yet it seemed that no one had ever discovered the lower level before. Then he paused again, and chided himself for his lack of awareness. Clearly something had changed here, and most likely it was connected to the enchantment he had activated on the ground floor.

After making his way back up the stairs, Tey’von was once again kneeling by the dragon carving on the floor. After a few moments of concentration he managed to find the traces of magic he had felt earlier, but instead of putting more power into it as he had the first time, he simply tried to find the source of the original magic. His eyes widened slightly when he picked up the trace only to discover that it vanished into the Blind Eternities. Something had happened on another world which had reactivated the old enchantment in this temple. Tey’von stopped and wondered how long it had been since last anyone had been here. After all, if he was the first to discover this, it must have happened fairly recently. Maybe even so recently that it had happened after he had visited that other temple. Immediately, he knew what his next move was.

Soon, Tey’von had confirmed his suspicions. He was standing in a similar hidden chamber in the temple on that faraway coast. Although there were many similarities between the two temples, he could tell that care had been taken to adapt the decorations to the local people. Whoever had designed these temples had been incredibly skilled in many areas. Tey’von looked up at the dragon and the three figures under it, and wondered who they were and why their abandoned temples had suddenly come back to life. Unfortunately the trace of magic he had found in either temple was too weak to lead him to the source. He stood for a moment and contemplated the prospect of giving up this search at such an exciting point. Then he realized just how excited he had been. He had left his supplies in the desert temple. With a sigh and a wistful look, he stepped back into the Aether.

As he stood, still wistful, gathering his belongings, he looked down at the book which had set him off on this journey in the first place. It was still open to the page which had guided him by mapping the temple’s location to the local oases. And once again his mind reeled. Neither of the magic traces he had discovered could lead him to the source, but what if he could hold on to both of them at the same time? Just like he could find the temple based on its relationship to the other landmarks, he should be able to keep both traces in view and find the place they came from. It would be difficult, but he really couldn’t think of anything better to do right now. Once again he sought out the enchantment in the entry hall, and vanished.

Tey’von stepped out of the eternities into what seemed to be a large cavern. No, not a cavern. The walls and floor were too smooth to be completely natural. This was a room, designed to be inhabited by something far larger than he was. Something the size of a… dragon, perhaps? Tey’von felt both excited and terrified at the prospect. He looked around, and was slightly surprised that he seemed to be alone. In the process, he noticed the wall behind him was covered in runes. As he turned around to inspect it, he could feel that this was what his magic had been pulling him towards. Each and every one of the runes gave away that same faint trace of power, reaching out through the multiverse. Tey’von took a few steps back to admire the sheer magnitude of magic contained in that single wall. There were over a hundred runes aligned in complicated patterns. If each one was connected to a temple like the ones he had visited, that meant that he had discovered a faith of truly impressive reach. Not only that, but also a degree of magical power unlike anything he had seen before. How could he not have found this sooner? And how could an organization of such depth just disappear? He wondered silently how many of these runes were connected to planes he had already visited. Most likely this religion, or whatever it was, had existed on several of his previous destinations, and had been completely forgotten. He just could not fathom the loss of such a carefully designed system. Could he possibly find the answers to these mysteries? A change in the light brought him out of his reverie. He had not noticed the glowing rune until the light faded, but now he saw that another was also lit. He studied them both carefully, and realized that they both looked familiar, as though he had seen them in passing somewhere recently.

Suddenly the second rune faded in front of Tey’von’s eyes, and then he felt a large rush of air behind him. As he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, he heard a deep voice booming behind him.

“Who are you, and what are you doing in my home?”

"I am Tey'von, and I did not know this was your home." He bowed. "My apologies for intruding."

The dragon, who was regarding him with head reared back and wings splayed wide, cocked his head. He was a large, magnificent creature, with smooth white scales that seemed to shine with more than the ambient light of the cavern. His eyes were like large, bright sapphires as they regarded Tey'von. Then, the dragon folded his wings, and lowered himself to the ground, legs crossed beneath him.

"Well met, Tey'von." The dragon rumbled, and though Tey'von was relieved, he did not let his guard down. Such as it was. "I am called Wanderer. Was it you I felt inspecting my temples?"

"If you have temples on other planes, then yes." Tey'von supplied readily. "I have followed the magic here. I was... very impressed."

The dragon smiled. Or at least, he bared his teeth. Tey'von could not say it was not a disconcerting sight.

"In the prime of my life "impressive" would have seemed such an inadequate word. I might have even been insulted, were I given to such petty reactions." Wanderer murmured, eyes never leaving Tey'von. "But, such is their state that I will concede - they are merely impressive." Wanderer shrugged his massive shoulders. "But, you are my first guest in many centuries. Tell me, little planeswalker - why have you come here?"

Tey'von cleared his throat. Up to this point, Wanderer had seemed defensive and prickly. Understandable for a dragon whose home he had just wandered into. It might be wise to beat a hasty retreat, but... Wanderer had answers. Tey'von could feel it. Dangerous or no... Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

"I have questions." Tey'von said. "About your temples, and the religion that was practiced within them. Was it the same across all planes?"

Wanderer hummed, blinked once, and then vanished.

Wait- No, not vanished. Changed. Where there was a dragon, there now was a man. Straight backed and ageless, wearing a nondescript white robe and with hair the same color as Wanderer's scales. A full beard adorned his face, and he approached Tey'von with a warm smile and a wave of his hand. A table sprung into existence before him - humble, and made of carved wood, as well as two chairs. The dragon-turned-human sat on one, and gestured for Tey'von to take the other.

He obliged.

"The Great Work met very different needs of very different people." Wanderer explained, glancing at the wall of runes that dominated one side of the chamber. "So, no. The religion was not always the same. Not exactly. Some peoples wanted many Gods. Some peoples wanted one. Some peoples wanted Paragons. Still others wanted Ancestors." The Wanderer ran his hand over the wooden table, nodding. "Faith springs from wherever it is allowed to grow. I never begrudged my flock their faith."

"You've changed into a human." Tey'von observed, and did not think it was an illusion. If it was, it was a very clever one. He folded two of his hands over the table. "Do you do this... often?"

"Yes, once." Wanderer said. "There was a time I could change my appearance at will, so that whenever I brought the faith to a new people I could do it as one of their own. Now, this skin and my scales are all I have left. These are the two faces I wore the most, though I cannot remember which I began with. Dragons, unfortunately, are frightening and awesome. It is difficult to speak with fleeing peoples." Wanderer rapped his knuckles against the table. "You are a Vedalken of faith, are you not? What do you believe in?" Tey'von blinked.

"I believe that somewhere in the multiverse, there is a true faith." Tey'von explained. "That perhaps this faith comes with a God who is wise and benevolent. I believe that understanding other faiths can lead to understanding my true faith - I believe that if I am diligent, I will find the answers I seek."

"A worthy goal." Wanderer noted with a nod. "In fact, we believe similar things, you and I. The difference is, you seek to find it, and I seek to create it." He sighed. "There was a time when I thought this dream a reality. Peace reigned on thousands of worlds. I had thought to bring order to the multiverse."

"That would be difficult to do alone." Tey'von noted. "And even more difficult for a mortal." Wanderer regarded Tey'von silently for a long moment, face unreadable.

"There was a time when planeswalkers had more in common with gods than we did with mortals." Wanderer said quietly. "I sought to use that divinity for good, where so many others used it for themselves. I was opposed, of course, but I was also supported. I had allies. Friends..."

"It fell apart?" Tey'von asked solemnly. Wanderer nodded.

"It fell apart." Wanderer sighed again, deeply, the sound filling the cavern. "I am no god - but if you find your true faith, I think I'd like to believe in it."

Tey'von shared the sentiment.

They sat in companionable silence for a few short minutes. Tey'von mostly stared at his hands, and thought. It was remarkable to find such an ancient, wise, and temperate person. Someone who shared a few core beliefs with the Church - perhaps he was on the right path. Surely the true faith would have begun at inception of the multiverse, and would endure until its end?

There was much he could learn from Wanderer.

"Well, Tey'von, it was good to speak with you. I have not been able to discuss matters of faith for many centuries." Wanderer stood. "But, I must be going. There are many more temples to inspect. I must see what yet remains of the Great Work."

"A moment, Wanderer." Tey'von implored, standing as well. "Perhaps I could travel with you. It would be wondrous to see the effect your faith had on other worlds."

Wanderer put his hands behind his back thoughtfully.

"I do not think I can turn down such an earnest seeker of faith." Wanderer said with a small smile. "And your company would be appreciated. Very well, Tey'von. Let us seek the truth together." Then, Wanderer stepped towards the wall of runes, gestured to one, which glowed brightly, and vanished. Tey'von smiled slightly, and went to follow the older faith seeker.

Tey'von was on the right path, closer to the true faith. He could feel it in his soul.

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