Dig below Mount Erif and use what you find there to start a House
Prion Sebeth Beliere swung the heavy pickaxe, using his frustration to add power to his swing.
A small section of rock broke away, revealing, to his great surprise…
Sighing, he set the burdensome thing down.
Only a few months ago, the heaviest tool he had ever held had been a fork.
Now, he was hundreds of paces below the surface, digging in the darkness for only Imran-knew-what…
Perhaps he had done something to offend Prophet Imran, to receive such a difficult task?
Shaking his head, he picked up his tool and, following the tunnel, began his journey back to the surface.
An hour later, he found himself looking up at the loathsome mountain.
A volcano five great-paces high, rumoured to be long dead. It was surrounded by the most barren land in Vuria, and none ventured close, even when they had nothing to fear.
The locals, he had found, were a superstitious lot. He had hired them shortly after arriving, red Prion robes still pristine, and had hoped to be finished with his Holy Order by the end of the month.
That had been a year ago.
Eventually, the money he had received after claiming his inheritance had run out. He had withheld this information from the workers, of course, but they had started asking questions.
And then, one week ago, disaster had struck.
The lead worker, along with his three sons, had been killed by a sudden cave-in. The remaining workers, unpaid and frustrated, had abandoned the project, claiming that they had angered the mountain…
And now, he had a handful of coins in his pocket, the clothes on his back, and a heavy pickaxe in his hands.
Fortunate, he was not…
That night, Sebeth dreamed of fire. He dreamed that he had transformed into a giant fifty great-paces tall, and that he had plunged his pickaxe directly into the volcano, causing it to erupt and spew forth yellow lava.
He had awoken drenched in sweat and terrified for his life.
However, once his terror had subsided, a new idea took hold. For the past year, he had focused on digging around the volcano’s fringes. As one moved closer to the mountain, the terrain became more and more unpredictable. Lethal gas pockets, super-heated steam and giant hollowed tubes which one could break through without warning.
But Sebeth had grown desperate. It was time to mine the mountain.
Sebeth swung the pickaxe with all the force he could muster. He hadn’t eaten a full meal in six days, so it wasn’t much.
However, it was enough to dislodge a section of rock from the wall before him. He had found a cave mouth on the flanks of the volcano, leading further into the hopefully dead mountain. The heat and pressure had risen as he had ventured deeper and deeper into the darkness, lit only by a single lantern. He only had enough oil for a single trip, so he needed to make every second count.
He swung again, removing another section of the cave wall. He wasn’t sure what had led him to this particular spot… but it was no different from any other. All around him, above, below and to either side, was rock.
It felt like a tomb.
He hoped that it would not turn into one…
Again and again the pickaxe fell, tearing out large chunks of rock.
But he was getting close to something, he could feel it.
Just a little more…
Just a few more swings…
He saw a crack form in the rock.
It grew larger, moving vertically.
The edge of the crack now lay between his feet, but he could not stop.
He was so close.
Beyond this wall, surely, was the answer that Prophet Imran had sent him to find.
Throwing all of his remaining strength into his arms, he swung the pickaxe faster than ever before.
It connected with a satisfying crack, sending shivers down Sebeth’s spine. Strangely, when the tremors reached his feet, they did not stop.
Instead, they grew stronger.
Glancing down, he saw why.
The crack in the wall had become the crack in the floor, which even as he watched became the hole in the cave.
Without time to move or scream, he fell, into the unwelcoming abyss…
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he eventually awoke. However, judging from the dried blood he could feel on his scalp, it must have been more than a few minutes. Looking around, he saw nothing but darkness.
Was this the Void? Had he fallen to his death?
And if so, then why did death hurt so much?
He wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be.
He had yet to complete his Holy Order. He had yet to find something of value beneath the mountain. He had yet to start his very own legacy…
Glancing skyward, he saw something out of the ordinary…
Somehow, as he had fallen, he had dropped his lantern. It hung now, by one of Priarch’s miracles, over the edge of the hole he had fallen through. Its light was waning, but it was enough to fill him with hope.
Even in this place full of darkness, he still found light…
After testing his legs and finding no breaks, he stood. As he did so, something pulled him earthward. A piece of rock, smaller than a half-pace, had landed in his pack. Surely, it must have come loose when his pickaxe had struck the cave wall above.
His first instinct, naturally, was to throw it away.
But something stopped him.
Prophet Imran would not have sent him down here for no reason…
Perhaps this was what his Prophet had foreseen?
After securing the rock and fastening his pack, he fumbled his way over to the cave wall. Judging from the size of the light above, he reckoned that he was no more than twenty paces down.
It would have been an easy climb for a young man of good strength, however, he was injured, malnourished and weighed down…
Priarch protect him, he thought, as he started to climb…
Thirty minutes later, he had only risen five paces. His fingers bled, and gave a constant cry of pain with every passing moment. The wound on his head, thought stopped, had started to ache once more. Every minute, it sent a pulse of pain which shook his frame.
But he would not stop.
Not until he reached the light… or he died.
Roughly an hour after he started to climb, and he was almost there.
Only a few paces away, the light called to him.
But that light was fading fast, along with his energy.
He wanted to let go, and allow the Void to claim his body.
But he held on.
Not for Imran.
Not for Priarch.
No… he held on for himself.
For the man he knew he could be.
And, so that he could see the looks of amazement on all those who had doubted him… who had laughed at him.
The farmers he had asked for directions.
The miners he had asked for equipment.
The locals he had asked for help.
They would all be left dumbfounded after he returned from the heart of the mountain with his treasure…
Assuming he could actually find any treasure… of course…
He was so close.
The light was a single pace away.
But he was so tired…
And his bloodied fingers had almost lost their grip…
Please… let him just reach the light…
Glancing skywards, he sought it out.
The tiny flame fluttered in the lantern, ephemeral and oh so fragile, and yet it was still the most beautiful thing he had ever seen…
He wanted it to last forever…
However, even as the thought crossed his mind, something terrible happened.
The rock beneath the lantern shifted, sending it over the edge of the hole. It fell, seemingly in slow motion.
Sebeth wanted to reach out and catch it.
But to do so would loosen his grip on the rock.
Let the light fall into darkness, or save himself?
It should have been a harder decision, but in that moment, Sebeth knew what his choice would be.
He forsook the light, and chose his life instead.
As he did so, he felt his connection to Priarch fray. No matter how much he prayed, no matter how much he repented, he knew that he would be forever at odds with his God.
But if that meant living for even a moment longer, then he could live with that…
A few seconds later, he finally pulled himself over the lip of the hole. He lay there for what seemed like an age, crying tears of relief and breathing hard. Eventually he rose to his feet. Taking care not to fall in, he leaned over and peered into the darkness. The lantern, somehow, had survived the fall.
Even now, the light within began to fade.
As he stood there, he felt the weight in his pack shift. Remembering his burden, he reached into the pack and withdrew the rock within.
Not a rock…
A nugget… of pure gold.
It was larger than his head, and gleamed in the fading light. Glancing down one last time, he whispered a prayer of forgiveness before turning away from the light…
A short while later, he stood at the cave’s entrance. It was Priarch’s Hour, and the sun was fully overhead. Bathed in the light of creation itself, the gold in his hand shone all the brighter.
He understood now, what Prophet Imran had wanted him to find.
There was gold beneath Mount Erif, and, judging from the size of his nugget, there was enough to do much more than start a simple House…
With the gold he would soon possess, even the throne was not out of reach…
However, that was a long off dream. For now, he had to convince the miners to return to the mountain and start excavating.
Soon, his time would come. Soon, the mountain would bleed gold.
But for now, he could rest.
“With this gold, I hereby proclaim the creation of House Beliere!” he shouted, raising the nugget in the direction of Pyre.
Turning back towards the mountain, he started thinking of the future. He thought about the day in which his House would stand above the crown… and perhaps, even the Church…
Shaking his head, he allowed a small smile to part his lips.
The most powerful thing in the world, he had discovered, did not sit upon a throne or hide behind the walls of Origin.
Instead, it lay within his hands.
And with it, he would change the world…
“My guidance has ended,” he whispered, “And my rule has begun…”
Read Be Good to find out if Sebeth’s descendants ever achieved his royal ambitions!