Submitted by Abraxus
The floor of Elbar's temple is lost somewhere underneath the swirling mist that pervades the great chamber while the deep resonant rumble of thunder issues forth from the ceiling. A single stream of water falls from a hidden source above and down to the altar below where it gathers briefly in a granite basin before continuing down below into obscuring mist.
A solitary figure kneels in front of the altar, devoid of motion except for the working of his right hand as it grasps a symbol of the chaotic weather god. Wrapped in a thick black cloak he seems to be oblivious to the chill permeating the room, his focus entirely upon the symbol.
Thorak entered the temple, seeking to spend a few moments in contemplation after completing his duties. Feeling at peace as the mists wrapped him in their welcoming embrace he strode towards the main chamber in the largest strides his small and stocky frame could make.
He almost didn't spot the figure cloaked in the midst until he was nearly on top of him. Thorak's hand automatically slipped down to the hilt of his sword, who was this person? He knew everyone that followed Elbar and yet this was someone he had not seen before. Allowing himself to relax slightly as he saw the symbol of Elbar clasped firmly in the stranger's right hand, Thorak was nonetheless perplexed.
"Surely this is not a new member of the temple?" Thorak pondered. "I can't recall a neonate ever being so calm in this thunderous great hall."
Shrugging away his concerns, he knelt beside the taller stranger and began chanting, his voice deep and resonate like all members of his race. Thorak had barely finished his first prayer when he felt a change in the room. Glancing towards the stranger he managed to stifle an expression of surprise as he realised the man now held him in a piercing gaze.
The stranger's eyes narrowed slightly as he spoke, each word spoken clearly and with a tone of authority. "Who are you that worships the Storm?"
Taken aback by the abrupt nature of the question, Thorak managed to hold back his annoyance as he replied, "I am Thorak Denalin. Follower of the Storm. Destroyer of the Dwarves. Knight of BlackGuard."
The stranger looked up towards the ceiling so high above them as he spoke with a trace of sarcasm in his voice, "A knight? Are not knights the agents of law? What business have you here?"
His eyes glowering with anger, Thorak answered, "You are ignorant to my race's history...I am a Knight, an agent of chaos, my race has suffered the past thousand of years due to the ignorance of the dwarves. They destroyed all civilness in our race. How could I possible be an agent of the law?"
The stranger studied Thorak for a few moments, his eyes fixed on a point somewhere deep inside of the duergar, "I do not care what injustices your kind has faced. My only care is that chaos is spread in Tharel, I serve none but the Storm. I sense the seeds of chaos within, this is good, the path of the Weather is open to you."
"And who might you be," Thorak's eyes narrowed as he pointed an accusatory finger at the stranger. "Other than a neonate who thinks he can question the faith of a follower of Elbar? Perhaps you should know your facts before you insult me again."
"I am he that brings the Storm," The stranger answered as the mists suddenly began boiling as a strong wind swept through the hall. Clenching his hand into a fist, the stranger's voice became stronger, the thunder above roaring as white flashes of lightning danced across the ceiling filling the air with a metallic taste. "I am Abraxus, Tza'fiel of Elbar and first among his followers."
Thorak was momentarily stunned, "Abraxus has returned?" he thought to himself. "Then when Quililia said..."
With an abrupt laugh, Thorak completed his thought aloud. "... she felt the Storm brewing it must've been a sign from Elbar that you were to return. Quililia had been telling us she felt the gusts of wind fastening. I felt it too, I knew it was near... I knew it since the first drop of rain hit my head. You have come to help us bring the Storm to Tharel?"
Abraxus nodded calmly. "I have spent many years amongst the chaos, my physical form little more than quicksilver... constantly changing and reforming. Elbar has seen fit to return me to this realm," unclenching his hand and studying it carefully as if he had never before seen it, he continued to speak. "Though I do find being confined to a single form slightly disturbing after all these years. I will adapt, I am certain of that. The only question remains my purpose for returning."
"Elbar is wise... you came at a perfect time. I'm sure the Storm will guide you in your actions." Thorak said as he rose from his knees to address Abraxus at a more even level.
Nodding in agreement, Abraxus replied. "Chaos grants me power, the Storm shows the path to follow."
Rubbing the palm of his hand along his jawline, Abraxus considered Thorak for a second time and was pleased to note the duergar matching his gaze. Few had ever managed to avoid averting their eyes in the face of chaos.
With a swift and fluent motion, Abraxus' arm swept his long black cloak aside and he reached down into a small pouch attached to his belt. Removing a small wooden carving from the pouch Abraxus addressed Thorak again, "I carved this while in the presence of Elbar. It has travelled with me into the chaos and has returned with me."
Falling silent, Abraxus took a few moments to trace his fingers along the lines and curves of the carving before speaking again. "Keep this with you," he said as he reached across and placed it into Thorak's palm. "Let it remind you of your purpose and of your decision to follow the Storm."
Nodding in recognition of the gift, Thorak replied. "Let me show you what my race is good at."
Deftly unsheathing an ancient duergar carving knife, Thorak studied the carving for a few moments and then swiftly began guiding the knife over the surface of the figurine. The knife travelled across the carving, the sureness and apparent ease with which it began adding new lines to the carving spoke of Thorak's great talent.
In a matter of moments new images appeared on the carving, depicting the Storm. Weather clouds, forks of lightning and elemental symbols now graced the figurine. Studying his work carefully, the duergar then sheathed the knife and tucked the figurine away. Looking towards Abraxus he says, "I will finish it later, I'd rather take more time working on it."
Cupping his chin in the palm of his hand, Abraxus tapped upon his lower lip with a solitary finger before speaking, "Curious. You take a carving that depicts Elbar, one that was made by the first of his followers, and you think to change it?"
Grunting at the percieved reprimand, Thorak answered gruffly. "I like change. Change is what brought me here, change is what makes the Storm brew time after time, why..."
Interrupting the duergar's reply with a wave of his hand, Abraxus began to smile as he said, "Excellent. You are not afraid to change even that which we consider sacred. I was correct in my belief that chaos does reside within your heart."
Caught unaware by the unexpected praise, Thorak found himself unable to resist smiling. His attempts to speak suddenly became little more than unintelligible mumbling. Cursing his temporary loss of speech, Thorak nodded silently while to grasping his holy symbol a little tighter.
Wanting to reassure Abraxus, Thorak eventually replied, "Do not worry, the only thing that won't change is my belief that Chaos is supreme, and that Elbar is the wisest of them all."
A lopsided grin crosses Abraxus' face as he moved over to seat himself on one of the stone benches by the side of the altar, "Oh, you will question everything in time. You will even question the words of Elbar, but do not worry. The questions are all part of the process."
Thorak nods, and says, "Well, I can only hope those questions have answers, and if they dont, then they are questions that don't need answering."
Nodding in agreement, Abraxus asked "Thorak, I must attend to matters here for a while longer. Send word to the other followers that I have returned and that the Storm shall finally come to Tharel."
"I shall seek them out immediately." stated Thorak as he headed quickly towards the temple entrance. "The Storm shall come to Tharel and then we shall see what is left of the dwarven kingdom afterwards."