Mirrortac is given his mission …
Mirrortac stopped at the threshold of the temple and bowed to Mateote which had all but disappeared under the thick cloud. He turned and bowed again, deeply from the waist, as he was entering the sacred preserve of the temple. A single marblelite altar stood in the centre of the floor and on top there was a hollow filled with a thin layer of ash. A sheaf of dried nif-grass was burning slowly, sending a steady stream of aromatic smoke up into the dome of the ceiling where it escaped through small gaps into the sky above. Benches were arranged in a circle around the altar but these were unoccupied except for one where someone was seated with his back to the erfin. He was wearing the priestly robe, which fell over a slim form, and his hair was strangely golden, falling in beautiful locks over his shoulders. Mirrortac stepped with soft reverence, taking care not to disturb the priest who was bowed in silent meditation. The erfin held the sword carefully now, resting in the palms of his outstretched hands, as he crept around the border of the temple interior. The priest raised his head and stood up, alerted by the presence of another in the holy place. Mirrortac stopped, not because he had disturbed a priest, but because he now realised something even more strange about him – he was much taller than any erfin and the hands he now revealed were hairless. The stranger turned, showing his face, which was also hairless and un-erfinlike. His skin was a pale alien sheen; his nose small and slightly pointed while his eyes were a brilliant hue of blue with round black pupils, not like the oblong pupils of erfins. Mirrortac immediately assumed a fighting stance, sword held firmly in the grip of his right hand.
‘Who are you? God or demon?’ he uttered, astounded.
‘Neither,’ the stranger answered, his voice fluid and unearthly. ‘I am Ni-Do, keeper to the Sword of Thaum and it falls upon me to explain your duty to the worlds against the spread of the coming age of darkness.’
Mirrortac stood stunned and perplexed. ‘Ni-Do? We have no such name under Mateote. What is this vexing talk of worlds and my duty to them? There is only this world, and it ends at the mountain of Mateote!’
Ni-Do’s eyes flared. ‘You foolish erfin! The darkness is already taking hold of your blessed Eol. You have not enough food to last the season of the White Veil and the nite-wolves grow bolder and hungrier with each day. If you stay in Eol and go on believing that there is no world across the great mountain, then you will all perish … but worse than this, all hope for the other worlds will perish with you.’
Mirrortac wished he could collapse but his legs were locked. He wanted to challenge the stranger but his strength had left him. He knew the danger to Eol was great but the stranger was confusing him.
‘You vex my spirit, weird one. What could an erfin such as I do against the powers of darkness? What use is an erfin and a sword?’ he pleaded.
The stranger’s expression softened but his voice remained firm. ‘My master comes from the world of Men but he is different to many men in that he is a wizard, a man of white magic, which in itself is tainted. He was captured alive by the powers of black magic, an evil sorcerer called Krak and the sorceress, Helok, who together created Hopocus, a place to entrap the souls of the dead. They also created an abyss into which all that is good, from all worlds, is gradually being absorbed, effectively spreading evil everywhere; an evil that will destroy you and all that exists. Once he realised that his magic would also be absorbed into the abyss, he devised this sword, which has the power to fight the spreading darkness at its edges, but cannot succeed in Hopocus until it has been given sacred power through the blessing of a holy person. White magic alone cannot conquer this evil and it needs one with great courage and a pure spirit to bring final victory.
‘This is where your duty is needed, Mirrortac. As an earth-spirit, I was able to escape Hopocus with my master’s sword and the gateway led me to your world. We needed a warrior’s madness in it firstly to enmesh it with courage then we had to wait until all my master’s magic had been absorbed into the abyss, signaling the time for the sword to appear in the woods where you found it and it laid claim to you. Your mission is to strike a path north until you reach the land of mists and waters where you will find the gateway to Hopocus, and your ultimate task – to cast the sword, which you will call Moonbeam, into the Well of Lost Memories where it will be empowered with its final sacred purpose. Remember this, I shall remind you when you forget.’