When the sun hit the city just right. the sandstone bricks commonly used for construction in that region made it look as if the buildings were sheathed in gold. And with the vast merchant district in the southern part of the city, expanse of gardens and the soothing flow of a network of streams and aqueducts, it soon became known as the Halcyon City. It was a place where dreams were realized, fortunes made and learning was achieved in quiet surrounds, far from the bustle of the affluent tradesmen and importers.
It was a new city. Streets were wide to give ample room for wagons, carriages and foot traffic. Carefully carved columns of sandy-yellow stone gave home to lanterns, lit by long tapers as day gave way to dusk. Raised banks of vegetables, fruits and flowers divided up the districts and block; these were tended by the young, infirm and elderly of the Halcyon City and used or sold as demand and supply required.
There was no better place to stop on the way to the Southern Kingdoms, and the appeal of the city worked to draw more and more to it to live, work or simply visit the splendor of the golden city. But on that fateful day, a shadow fell over the Western District. It was a shadow of unnatural origin, and it crept up walls and across surfaces like a rash, wilting plant life and agitating the animals and populous. It swelled to the point of ripeness and burst with a flood of dark magic as reality was torn asunder.
He ran as fast as he could, caring not for where he went but how far he could get there. He could feel its taint sinking into his soul, gripping tightly to the pool of energy that sustained his spells and life-force. It wasn’t supposed to have gone like this. He only wanted to raise something small, easily controllable. But this? It outmatched any demon he had heard of in its power and entry to the world.
He knew to stay was to be overridden by the product of his folly.
“TRIP!” A woman barked, and with a rush of power he stumbled over nothing, tumbling to the flagstone street beneath him. With the sound of his footfalls ceased he could hear the chaos behind him, even over his gasping breaths. Desperately, he struggled to his feet.
“NAUSEATE!” The word of power was snarled. His head swam, vision as if he’d worked his way to the bottom of several bottles of good, strong wine. Sprawling onto his back he gazed up at the hazy form of the sorceress standing over him. Trying to raise his hands, she swatted at his hands with her heavy staff.
“The child of your ignorance roams the city, Consorter. I can clearly see its spirit tie to you, sunk into your heart and soul and worming its way into your mind. You are remarkable to have gotten this far. No more though.” She said with conviction strong in her resonant voice.
“What… what are you going to do to me? I didn’t mean to, I-” He gasped as the tip of her staff slammed into his stomach, the air spilling out of his lungs.
“Death of the Consorter breaks the ties that bind, and will send the beast back to whence it came. There will be no trial by necessity of time. In the eyes of the Halcyon City, you are guilty. Divination will glean your identity to us later on. May the Gods take mercy on your blackened soul.” There was little compassion in her eyes as she tapped her staff on his chest. “BIND!” She pronounced, his limbs stiffening as she stepped away.
“I didn’t mean-“
“LEVIGATE!” She roared, the power building from her will being directed by the word. It felt odd at first, a little flutter in his heart, before a light feeling spread throughout his body. Universal forces at work ground into his very being. The weight of the entire force of creation channeled through his body. And then, with a pitiful sigh, he was dust.
In the city behind her the shadow and dreadful form of the beast flickered and fled from the waking world, its anchor utterly destroyed.