Twenty-one days before the rain of fire, the vision came to me. As I again laid my beloved to rest I began to see, not her cold body but the coldest reaches of Hell. Perched atop the mountain Mulyr, overlooking an eternal frozen wasteland, this throne was the highest point of Hell, in elevation though not in status. The throne was made of ice, and sat upon a smooth marble floor that ended precipitously at the mountain’s edge. Surrounding the throne was an array of statues, or so it seemed as my vision began, statues of men and of giants, with here and there an elf present.
The King on this throne was the God of Ice. In my vision, his face was obscured, but his eyes I could make out, indeed, the blue light from them illuminated the mountain top. His body was sharp and angular, and he made a rumble like an avalanche when at last he stood. Looking to the floor, he breathed out a chill wind, and a thin sheet of ice then covered the marble. My gaze turned with his as scenes from my own world played out on that ice.
Peasants called upon Sucellus to put food on their tables. Kings and Warlords used the fires of Bhall to ward off sorcerers, and those sorcerers drew on the watery powers of Danalin to quench this fire. Every scene to which we looked we saw the peoples of my world cry out to the gods in joy or hope. But the name Mulcarn was whispered only in fear, and even then rarely; it was as a ward against him that offerings were made, warm hearts of deer placed in the snow to divert his attention from human homes in the cold months. His priests were few and their converts rare. I saw this and understood it, but the King of Ice seethed against it.
“Man, what foolishness do you call wisdom! Do you not know that without my rest, the world cannot awaken with such mad energy in the spring? Do you think truly that it is from scorn that I blanket the world in snow? I was there too, when your world was weaved, and my wisdom was heeded as well as the rest. But you have turned your hearts far from me, siding with my rivals or even my allies first. Not even fear will cause you to give me true worship, Oh Man? Or perhaps more fear is needed to show you your folly!”
One last scene played our before me, from what I took to be, not the realm of man, but another of hell. Empty and vast, with but the light of dusk. Two gods here I saw, and I felt from my divine Host a well of frustration and anger towards the one, the bright Lady. Bhall, ablaze, addressed Agares, whose image to me was ever changing, from a young boy to an old man, to a withered corpse.
“Cease your lies, Agares, for my patience with you wears thin.”
“There are no lies in this place, only truth stripped bare. It is why so few deign to come here. It is not anger with which you speak to me, but uncertainty. But I say to you, is not this uncertainty itself proof of my offer? Are you allowed such freedom when you address your master?”
“I am given perfect freedom of action, within the bounds we have all agreed to.”
“Freedom of action! What is this but illusion? I offer you freedom of purpose.”
Bhall did not speak again, but appeared wavering, and then flew off quickly, disappearing from my view. Agares turned towards us, and I feared that I was discovered, but it was not to me he spoke. “It will happen, Mulcarn, she shall be mine. Be ready.”
The icy Hell began to fade from me as my vision gave way to reality. The deep laughter of the Ice King echoed throughout his hall. He turned to the statues surrounding him, and I saw now that they were not sculptures of ice, but men who had in life served Mulcarn, and giants as well. “Prepare,” he said to them, and they responded with a nod. My last sight of that realm was his army, marching down the mountainside.
Back at the side of my departed beloved, I recalled the vision. The word hung in my mind. “Prepare.” I knew I must, for if the vision was of truth, which I doubted not, the Age of Magic was at an end.
—From the Words of the Father, passed down through the Amurites, generation to generation, until the end of time