Triumdeum: Part 1 of 4

High above the tallest mountains of Toril, beyond the firmament of its lofty skies and rarefied airs; transcending the transitive Ether, the wild beauty of the Fey, and the Elemental chaos of the Inner Planes; established on high in the Astral Dominion, and drifting in the endless Astral Sea — stands the perfectly infinite and infinitely perfect Mount Celestia.

A vast silver sea of holy water, fresh and pure, surrounds the boundless base of the Mountain, shimmering with light and replete with aquatic life. Here, in Lunia, the lowest of the Seven Heavens, the waters below and sky above are deep and  argent-dark, lit by countless stars in thousands of veilless constellations, perpetually illuminating the pristine cities of white stone established on the shoulders of Celestia.

Here and there, emerald-green heath and gentle sun-yellow gorse thrive in humble outcrops with no need of soil, interspersed by the gray and white stone of the mountain. Trees bow low, clinging humbly to the bare stone with their graceful roots, willingly giving way to a naked sky — an unmitigated canopy of ether and starlight, unbroken by shadow or silhouette before the indomitable ascending slopes of Celestia.

It was to this divine realm that Marthammor Duin descended. The red of his burnt umber hair, braided together with his beard in a utilitarian style, stood out against the bright and bluish hues of Lunia despite the coarse hood of his cloak which was drawn low over his head. The dwarven god entered a secluded grotto hemmed by white pillars, finely wrought screens, and small fountains. Marthammor waited, admiring the cunning and unweathered masonry. A broad balcony overlooked a steady, stony descent unto the infinite silver horizon. The garden was not an interruption of the mountain’s natural form, but rather a continuation of it, brought to harmonious order by some divine architect. It was silent in a way that only the heavens can be — until a voice like a cool spring spoke aloud.

“Exarch.”

Marthammor turned in his drab traveling cloak, scraping the pavers with his iron-strapped boots. “Corellon.” Marthammor  drew back his hood and inclined his head to the First of the Seldarine. He spoke in a gruff, half-whisper: “I can’t say as I’m entirely pleased to see I’m not the only god foolish enough to answer such a cryptic summons.”

The newcomer stood in as much contrast to ruddy Marthammor as the latter did to Lunia. Corellon was tall, pale, and lithe, nearly twice the dwarf-god’s height, and he wore a flowing sky-blue cloak that collected at his feet in a graceful train. The elf-god’s golden hair fell, luminous and straight, beneath his shoulders, framing a beautiful, androgynous face and tall, pointed ears. A large silver amulet in the shape of a crescent moon hung on a fine chain from his neck.

Corellon arched his brow. “Did folly bear thee hence, Marthammor?”

Marthammor snorted. “Least I’d admit it, if it did.” The dwarf strode to a nearby fountain and splashed water in his face. “Though I suppose,” he continued, “’twas more curiosity than anything. But that can be foolishness, too.” He looked up from the basin to meet Corellon’s green eyes.

The elf-god grinned, but didn’t take the bait. “Indeed. The ‘Finder-of-Trails’ is unlikely to deny a new horizon. Only take care, for who is there to Watch over your own Wandering?”

Marthammor settled himself on a nearby seat, half-boulder-half-bench, and adjusted the iron mace at his side. “Oh, methinks neither of us wants it known we’re here. Besides, what use is there in telling me to watch for quicksand while we’re both standing in it?”

Corellon nodded thoughtfully. “I perceive your meaning. But you see, whereas you were carried off by folly, or chasing after curiosity, as it were, it is precisely the caution I advise that has led me hence.”

Marthammor merely snorted a dismissal of elven logic and looked out over the sea — all the assent he could muster for riddles. “Do you think he’ll even come? It’s a bold move, coming back to Celestia at a time like this.”

“Oh, I think he will. It is no mistake that he chose Lunia for our meeting,” Corellon studied the innumerable points of light above the horizon, tracing constellations in his mind, but nevertheless caught the dwarf’s quizzical expression. “It is a place of innocence,” the elf explained, and, after a moment, “Lathander intends to clear his name.”

“Or to make us think as much,” grunted Marthammor.

“Indeed. Either way, caution dictates further inquiry. Hence, my coming here.”

“Yeah, well, caution or not, the Pantheon won’t look kindly on consorting with the Morninglord. Torm will cry conspiracy.”

A third voice spoke, bold and deep, from atop a white stair. “It is right that he should.” Arrayed in a gold-trimmed white cloak and cape stood Lathander himself. The deposed god of the dawn leaned against the banister as he wended his way down to the others by labored steps. “We three… conspire,” his breaths came ragged, “to ensure the survival of Toril.”

Continue reading Triumdeum (part 2).

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