The Order of the Lanterns
At the time of writing this, the Gods are still in Majeria, prophesied to leave again soon. They returned when the world needed them most. However, before their initial departure and return they lived among us. Closer than they do even now, forming and shaping the world, and also forming and shaping life. Some things were fashioned by the Gods themselves and given as gifts to early beings who they favored. Other objects were those crafted by mortals and seen as worthy creations, touched by the Gods themselves. These items in these times are referred to as relics or artifacts. They hold immense history, mystery, and power. To hold even one of these items is a rarity, let alone to understand how they work or their purpose. And yet, during the birth of creation, much of what we know as essence and the Gods was blurred. The Gods being so closely knit often shared knowledge with mortals who infused different ideals. Thus many relics do not serve a single God, but rather the will of the user. As such, these relics, when held in the wrong hands, can be catastrophic. They can bring about genocide, plague, enslavement, annihilation. It is not for me to say if these relics should be used by the powers of good either; perhaps we have moved too far from our understanding of all of our true nature and we have substituted our instincts for these creations with Essence and technology. What I do know is that they cannot fall into the hands of evil. The other thing I learned is how easily they can fall into anyone’s hands, if they just know where to look.
I had the very rare opportunity to talk with some of the founding brothers of the Beaconites, and ultimately Lightsworn, Finn and Jake. Finn, a massive man, sweet, kind, and could probably crush a lesser man with a simple swing of his hand. While some thought him simple, he was just a man of few words, always lived in the now. And Jake, a smaller of the two, sleek, narrow eyes that were always working on his next step. I could tell he took care of Finn and Finn took care of him. They looked like a duo you would find in story books you read to children. Unlikely faithful, and because of it, best suited for it. I was able to sit down with them in the outskirts of a small village that the day before had been set upon by Bugbears we had wronged. In the ensuing battle many Beaconites fell, some Tranquil who did not accept the raising ceremony, which was understandable. I sat in front of the fire, trying to regain my strength as the ordeal was both physically and spiritually draining. The two men sauntered over and sat in the firelight across from me. Jake spoke first.
“Could barely believe it the first time I saw it in Wyldshire, and it’s even crazier up close. How you holding up there boss?”
“I’ll be fine, it’s just, new. Taxing.” I really was quite worn out.
“I believe it.” Jake said relaxing by the fire. Finn watched us talk as he threw small wood chips into the fire, sending sparks into the night sky. “Seen some crazy nonsense in this world. Never seen that.” Finn nodded in agreement. I hadn’t gotten to know either of them since the Beaconites were dropped into my lap.
“I’m sorry, um Jake? And Finn right?” They nodded, “So catch me up here. You were inspired by the event and then talked to Maulik to come find me, but what were you two doing before? Forgive me but you don’t seem the religious type.” Jake and Finn smiled at each other.
“Not religious at all. Don’t have an ounce of faith in the world boss. I only trust what I can see. And I have seen some shit. And I have seen you. You’re the real deal. I only believe in what I can put my hands on. The Light, Dark, and Shadow can go on and on about their Gods, but seeing is believing for me. You’re just the straw that broke the Lightbearers back so to speak.”
“How do you mean?” Jake leaned forward as if about to elaborate when Finn slapped him on the arm excitedly.
“Tell him about the time we escaped those Shar soldiers in the catacombs near the Spire.” Jake slowly turned his head to Finn a bit in frustration and bit in agonized familiarity of the situation.
“I’m getting to it, I’m getting to it.” He soothingly barked. “So these catacombs right? No one is going near the damn Spire in years. Damn good reason. Horrors both alive and dead all over the place, gives you the chills just thinking about it.” As if on cue, Finn shivered a bit. “But because everyone got out of dodge to chase down the leftover Mages, they didn’t do a great job of cleanup. So there’s these catacombs a couple of miles out. Probably used as a large warehouse or what have you back a long time ago. We hear from a buddy of mine, Half-Orc trader named Kratt that he was on the trail through the area, heard from some uppity ups buying some of his so called elixirs, it’s just Orc piss, that they’re planning an expedition to the catacombs because they think there might be some goodies left down there.
So we get the idea that we’ll follow them in right? Let them clear out all the nasties and then take what they find when they’re not looking. Simple.”
“But not simple.” Finn chimed in.
“Right. Because when we show up at this hub town to track down these scholar types, they’ve Shar soldiers with them. Now either the General got wind of the things in the place or they just wanted some toughs with them, the job is now a lot tougher. On the other hand, if they’re bringing this much fire power, it’s got to be worth it. So we tail em.” Jake was now nearly standing as he half acted out the scenario, much to Finn’s amusement.
“So they kill a couple of horrible beasties along the way, and we know, because as we’re tracking them, they’re just leaving the damn things in the road, some of them harvested for useful stuff, other things we take. Let me tell you, prying out Roc talons ain’t easy. Anyway we get to the catacombs and they’ve gone inside. We can hear em in there and we wait for nightfall. Sneak in no problem, but some of these scholar types just don’t sleep, and it looks like the soldiers are doing a little sifting around on their own. They have a whole crate of what looks like good stuff, so we get past them and start looking deeper into the ruins. Junk, junk, junk. We don’t find a damn thing. Finally we get to what looks like a shrine of some sorts. Angels, Demons, nothing new, we’ve dug through our fair share of burial sites.”
I look at them harshly for a moment which Jake must have caught on to, “Hey, life is for the living. So is their stuff. Or at least that’s what we used to believe til that night.” He sit backs down, “So in front of this shrine is a box. Try to open it, no good.”
“I smashed it good.” Finn pipes in again.
“But nothing. Which is actually a great sign usually, means there is something in there worth getting. So I start to look around for some kind of writing, incantations, and I find some stuff, but it takes a while to get it all down.”
“That’s when they started coming down.”
Annoyed more with himself now Jake continues, “I must have been too loud reading and Finn hears their steps coming. It’s a dead end, we got nowhere to go, so we bar the door, hopefully they just move on. So of course they don’t and they are starting to knock the damn thing down.”
“I’m holding it as best as I can.”
“But they just keep shouting how they’re going to burn us alive. I figure if I can get whatever is in the box I’ve got a bargaining chip. Finally get it open, some religious babble about the water of life and beauty rising from pain. Celestial isn’t exactly fluent for me. Anyway, open it up just as they’re bursting in, and all it is, is a book. Crap right? But I pick it up and show it to them, maybe it’ll help. They just shout, ‘He has it! Kill them!’ I’ll spare you my lack of negotiating skills.”
“He wasn’t good.”
“Shut up.” He stands up, acting out a bit again, “We can fight a few off, but more keep coming until this guy who has a penchant for arson shows up and just decides to light the place on fire, must to the dismay of some of the scholars. Looks like curtains for us, but as soon as the fire leaves this guy’s hands, the eyes on the shrine glow, the fire sweeps up into a vortex of flame until it burns white hot, just about blinding everyone in the room until it knocks us all down and there standing in white fire is…well it’s you boss.”
I didn’t know what to say, I had no knowledge of the event, nor even the ability to do what they were saying I had.
“It couldn’t have been me, you’re talking about a time when I was still in Valencia, hardly able to accomplish such feats, and I had no connection to such shrines.”
“Oh I believe you, but I also believe whatever this thing was too. He annihilated these guys into ash and dust, but the two of us? Not a scratch, not even the scratches we had before. Then you turn to us and I have to say it didn’t sound like the guy you actually sound like. It was big, loud, like it was inside my head. You said this was the book of Elan Vital and we were to take it to Father Liam in Wyldshire. And to follow the Light. I am the Beacon.”
It was a little disconcerting that angels of any sort were passing around the information that I was the Beacon to others and not just telling me themselves. With that he sat back down, “And shit, I mean you, he, whatever, didn’t have to say the second part. I’ve seen a lot of stuff boss, but nothing like that. Never. It was a damn miracle. That was power. That was the real deal. More than essense, more than mages, more than anything I’ve ever seen. All for a damn book. Well we high tailed it. Stopping by our hide out to grab some other relics, delivered them all to Father Liam, who turns out to be a pretty good drinking buddy. Never been a religious guy, but if I can put my past to work for the Light, you better believe we’re here to do it. Done with the vices of life, but if we need to open a chest or anything like that, we are definitely your guys. We can do the things clerics can’t, but doesn’t mean we’re doing it for any less of a cause. There’s good people with bad pasts that just need a little spit shine. You’re that shine boss. And you better start believing it too, because everyone else here, already does.”
“We do.” Finn finished with a beaming smile in the fire light.
It struck me in that moment that we had two relics with us already, three if you counted the book they spoke of. There were certainly more in the world and they couldn’t fall into the wrong hands. They belong to the world, and at the same time, secure. Their knowledge should never be locked away, and yet it cannot fall into the hands of those who would use it for vile means. The Lanterns are a dedicated group of archaeologists tasked with finding these relics and keeping them safe. The teachings of the Gods must be found and preserved, especially with their imminent departure. Any piece of information we can find that may lead to a greater understanding of the universe is paramount in becoming a more accepting and spiritual faith. There are those of us who don’t have knowledge of the requirements to find these long lost items, but those that Majeria has given up will always have a place with the Lightsworn, and everyone’s skills, even “bad” skills, can be put to good use.