The lone figure paced among the rubble, bulky silhouette picked out by the early rays of dawn sunshine. He’d been lucky to get out, it had been a close run fight at times. Then the Previous decided to turn everything upside down in a calamity of sound and dust. He’d seen such dark magic before, counted himself quite experienced fighting in the realm of Previous sprites, been injured by them more than once. People had tried to insist that there were more sensible explanations, that he was overly superstitious. But where were they now? Littered among the rubble he was sure.
He had been able to drag a few from the collapsed building, friend and foe alike. From the top of the pile he just crested he could see the small triage centre that he’d overseen the construction of. Against the Previous all were equal, and he insisted they were treated in this manner. A Drakhan commander had attempted to interject otherwise, but when he called upon his men to seize the lonely figure, none would comply. They were too tired of the battle; too few even understood what they were actually fighting for. A call for an end to the hostilities from the big man therefore found a receptive audience.
It had been hours since the explosion now, little hope of finding more survivors. But he persisted. Would not rest until little hope turned into no hope. Something in the rubble glinted a little way down the pile he had just crested. He stomped over to it, rocks tumbling down the hill, dusty eddying in the cool morning breeze. It looked like a pebble, but it had straight ages. The man frowned. He bent to pick it up, it was rectangular in shape, smooth edges. Fit in the palm of his hand quite snugly. He turned it over in his hands. One side and the edges were a pale stone in colour, but the other side was a glossy black. There was a slight indent on the top where he rested a finger. The glossy black changed colour, colourful shapes flowed across it, dancing in front of him.
The man yelped, dropped the stone which bounced a little way down the rubble pile. He looked around quickly, checking if anyone had heard or seen him yelp. He cared little for how other perceived him these days, but all the same, being seen to be scared by a stone was too much even for him. No one had looked up from the triage centre, attention fixed on more pressing matters down below. His gaze returned back to the rubble pile, from which the odd straight edged pebble still glowed.
Tentatively he stepped towards it. The shapes had stopped swirling, replaced by a more static glow. He frowned, a vague recognition echoing in his mind. A large hand reached down, first prodded the device, and when no Previous spirit emerged, picked back up the dark technology. The recognition intensified as he turned the device round so the glowing side was the other way up. It had Elder writings on it.
He squinted. No one would describe him as an academic, but he did have some writings. It had been a while since he had used them, but if he could just wrack his memory then he was sure it would come to him. He scratched his head, yes, it was starting to make sense.
WELCOME TO THE GLOBAL FREE CONTENT ENCYCLOPAEDIA
“Welcome” made it seem friendly enough, but could easily be a Previous trap. He needed to be careful. “To the” was obvious enough, then there were a few words he didn’t really understand, other than “free” which if it was attached to the word “beer” was his favourite word in the whole of the seven counties. But there was no mention of beer. Instead there was “Encyclopaedia”. Now that was an odd sounding word, but it was familiar. He’d spent some time with some clever folk in the past, tried his best to pay attention. An encyclopaedia was some kind of fancy book that explained everything in all the lands. Could be useful. But also could be some sort of trap. He peered closer. Underneath the large letters was a smaller entry.
Please enter your name or logon details:
He had no idea what a “logon” was, but the other words seemed to be asking for his name. Seemed very polite, maybe it was not so bad after all. Or maybe that was what the Previous wanted him to think. His face hardened. How would he tell? This could be a valuable find, but it could be a devious Previous plan to suck out his soul.
His thumb brushed against the front of the device. All of a sudden, as if in response, a grid appeared, filled with a combination of Elder letters and what he presumed were Previous symbols. Tentatively he put a finger against one of the letters. That same letter appeared in a box next to the weird “logon” request. The Previous device obviously wanted to know his name. For what reason he could not tell. Maybe to see if he was worthy of the information within? Or perhaps to identify the poor sap whose soul they were about to steel?
He needed to be cunning. He’d worked with cunning people before, some of the best in the lands. What would they do? The frown deepened. So the Previous wanted a name, but did it matter what name? Don’t given them your own name, he thought, that might give them power over you. So another name. But what? Completely different and the previous may spot the ruse. Something in between. Not his real name, but something he’d been called before, perhaps. A lie, but not a complete lie. In an instant he had it. Chubby fingers pushed at the letters on the device.
Please enter your name or logon details: a misterius avenger