I was barely 10 summers old when first I saw it. It was a thing of beauty. my mother took me there. She wept as she took me to the summit.
"To see the Sage" she told me. She was the sentimental sort. Her voice was calm, but her words spoke of a heartbreak. She never explained why. It never needed explanation.
To see the sage. It was a days walk and while even young I was a warrior in training, it was a challenge. My mother, she struggled, the road seemed to push her off it where I could step as easily as I trod the village paths. I had never seen her falter, not in all our years of travel. It was a shock as she slowed and eventually halted. Her back had been bent under the load of a travelling village, which even today I see the fat merchants of Hoxal struggle to carry a 10th of. But here, here she faltered.
To see the sage, I trod through the snow, fresh and clear upon the ground. Unbroken. Unsullied. Untainted. I knew the path, lived the path, remember the path even to this day. So, I left my mother behind, burdened by her grief. This would be a path I would need to walk alone. Here, I broke through the pale snow, leaving dark footprints upon the ground, where the earth welled up from underneath. I did not look back. I had purpose.
To hear the words of the Sage, I moved, with the song of the world sung around me. Out in the outlands, I heard the world as it truly was. Not as you remember it in a half-realized dream, mired in industry and civility, but the harshness of the world. As I crested the mountain ridge, I heard it, beyond the crunch of what I trod upon, at the highest heights, I stood before the stars and heard the screams. The echoes of mad gods and wonderous things.
To stand before the sage, I first had to come to understanding and so I saw the cosmos for all they were. I stood upon the highest heights and walked the very spine of the world and I knew that all he would tell me would be the vainest echo of this primordial truth. So I found myself at the mouth of the cave and shut myself away from the purity of the world. I stepped from the light into the darkness and submitted myself to the sage.
It was a thing of perfection, buried within the confines of the murk. I needed no torch, for even as darkness fell, it glowed with a light, dazzling. Here at the top of the world, was the last relic of worldbinding. Behind me, beyond the dark curtain of night, there lay the entire history of our peoples, but here. Here was our future.
As my hand stretched to its infinities, the armatures began to shift. The grinding force ground on my mind even as I gazed into the centre.
I saw the beginning, the origin of our peoples and the triumphs of my ancestors. Warriors all, but learned folk. Hardened against that which now lies mouldering, warrior kings and queens which raised massive force, each with a wizened elder by their side. In time, our peoples became one and I learned the first of many names. Xovales. Ruinmaker. Scourge of Dragons.
All things turn and as gold whirled into a blur, I saw the present. I saw the warriors, once proud, falling. They had been the scourge of dragons, now they scourged little more than a pheasant. I saw the elders pass on, as warriors became builders and builders became smiths and ever on. So I heard the first term I would grow to hate, King. Time is the cruelest of all lovers, for she takes of all of us the best and gives so little. Time is nothing, time is everything, time is the devastation and the rebirth. A bone that is broken may in time be reborn stronger, but only if it heals well. The elders, they were lost. They held no more sway. They could guide no longer. So, the first break, then again and again, each becoming more crooked in time.
As all spun, the world spun with it. The light was blinding, but it drew my eye. The wind whipped me, but I would not be stopped. The earth trembled, but they would quake in my path. I smelled hot wind and the scent of fresh blood, it called to me, my first kill not two moons prior. I heard the song of ending. I saw the futile works of men too arrogant to stay their hand. I saw all. I saw eternity. I saw fate.
I woke to the rising of the sun, shining through the aperture of the beautiful shrine. Its centre now lay still, shining inwards. It stood as tall as I, with a shining crystal sphere hung in its centre by the arcane science of the worldbinders. Each of 6 rings, set with space between, sat perfectly aligned. It was a marvel of artifice, a wonder of a forgotten world or distant future. I was never certain. It no longer moved, nor did it appear as though it even could. It seemed as permanent as the stone of the cavern.
"Hyperion" a word unbidden.
I smelled old blood and gazed upon the smooth rock of the cavern, whereupon sigils were inscribed. Each of them unique. Each meant something, but I could not find it within me to know their true meaning, not then. In time, all in time.
Each of them I traced and words sprung to mind. None of meaning, of substance, for still they remained a mystery. Prophecy instead, sang to me. A gift from the worldbinders, left in their wake.
"13 Shall They Be"
So I left that place and returned along the path once set before me. To a village that would one day fade from existence and a people that were never to be known, save two.