The Unlooked-for Light in Shadowfire | World Anvil

The Unlooked-for Light

The closing of the Grand Preceptry was long-winded affair.   It took an entire Bell for the priests to usher out the clamouring citizens, nobles, merchants, delegates and others all still waiting for the ear of Navinne Del Mogna, the Lord Protector of New Lafaelle. A litany of promises of servitude and platitudes of humility were used like an unyielding wall to push them all out the double doors before they were closed with a reverberating clang.   "Thank the Preserver." She whispered softly into the echoing silence that followed. Alone, for at least another bell.   Navinne removed her slippers to let her bare feet slide on the cold marble as she stood up from her chair of office. It was hard, wooden, square and crude, barely more than a stool. It was meant to symbolise her station as servant of the people. Her buttocks protested such pointless ceremony.   The chair had been brought direct from Refuge, allegedly made from trees felled before the Destruction itself. Stretching her back, she slapped her feet on the marble floor, savouring the echoes as the blood flowed back into her legs. Navinne hated that stool.   She glanced up at the skull that hung on the wall above it. The Skull of the Last Auroch, its long horns plated in gold, its eye sockets glaring down at her, dark and repooraching.   "I am sorry Thulaya," she smiled up at it, embarrased.   This skull was made from the last of the great beasts that had died in Refuge, and it had hung above the tomb of Thulaya herself. While Navinne saw the stool as a pointless observance, the skull and who it represented was sacred.   Thulaya would not have been as ungracious as Navinne was being.   Thulaya had led their people through the famines, she had saved the knowledge of the ancients. She had ensured their survival when all had been lost. The complaints of a few merchants would have been nothing to her.   As they should be nothing to Navinne. She squared her shoulders and nodded.   She bent over and dragged the stool until it was directly below the skull, and stepped up on it. She wanted to read the words again. She knew them from heart of course, but there was something about seeing the flowing script etched into the gilded bone that always gave her comfort.  
Here lies our Mother
The Unlooked-for Light
The first of our Protectors
Last of the Cabal
She brought us to Refuge
And onto our Promised Return
  She mouthed the words, and paused, her brow furrowing and the pains in her back forgotten. There was something there she'd never noticed. Something that the light at this angle revealed. Something else scratched into the bone.   She stood on her tip-toes to get a better look.   The line "last of the Cabal" had a thin scratch through it, as if someone had tried to deface it, but it was barely visible. And then, below the last line of the epitaph, more scratches made out a single word.   "Betrayer."

Cover image: by Midjourney


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