As Pentarch sailors drifted without idea or rudder, natural currents drew their craft in towards the Bay of Erasure. The two arms of Raggath and Jyagar loomed, atop which they could spy off in the distance each a tower adorning its bald head.
And crowning each tower’s top, a forking branch and bowl. The forks were tuned by their maker, master instrument builders serving the temple. Such was the power which fed them in that place, that they shared, as it were, one spirit in resonance each the other. Like one line of string held taut between Duogons, a living tone which was held dancing in the air.
From this tone, by listeners in the villages and way-stations below, could be derived sub-tones, to which duly appointed novice minstrels served their tour of apprenticeship, tending in part to the peeling, and keening, and banging and bonging of various tones with bells in matching rhythms to mark out the passing of the days through the Houses. The singing sound of their bells ringing echoed up and down the arms of the villages dotting the Bay of Erasure, from Raggath through the Wild Wastes, and Jyagar on to strong and humble Elum, and thence up high to the Temple Mount, and the Pillar of Song, where the High Augur held court, hearing gathered together all the overtones of the land, the people, the sky, the water, the animals, and angels. The ominous glorious symphony of Quatria.
While on any given day, the High Augur heard and tolerated such disturbances as the drunken mistakes of too religious devotees to the wine and beer gods (all too common these days) — missing cues, flattening and sharpening their notes, lousy counts — the day the Pentarchs broke line of sight between Raggath and Jyagar, the forked instruments at tower-top fell out of tune, and their bowls re-transmitted from one the other, a gap, a questioning difference. A dissonance in the House of Song — one such as hadn’t been heard in few among the bards were sure how long (a rowdy beer-filled argument amongst whom thereafter ensued as various camps decanted remembered rhymes from older times).
The three sailors, though as babes to this New World, heard too the pure, awesome tonal shift, without reference to what the now split tones must signify to their makers or listeners. And they heard too as the String of Bells activated, up and down the coastline, singing out this difference, echoing as far as the city of Geus.
And upon hearing these two tones reaching the Pillar of Song, the High Augur observed a crack in the empty teacup on the small personal table set up next to the Altar of Song, and frowned.
As the morning’s canticle drew to a close, the High Augur drew two cards, and laid the first, the ass, down in the House of Sorrow on the songboard, and the second, the spade, into the House of Song.
The ass of the trader. The traitor who hauled his ass out of the Vast Desert, crossed the Ereddian mountains, and betrayed Lord Abbadon. Ruin and destruction, betrayal by the beast of the flesh.
The spade of the miner. The temper of Minus the Minor, jealous younger sibling of proud Geus, to whom connected via the Temple Road, all the way up to the foot of the Pillar of Song. Under-miner. Betrayal by family. Digging one’s own grave.
In silent cues, the High Augur used hand signals to mime to the Watcher, who hummed to the Conductor the key tone sequence to initiate the Dark Dance Cycle, set against the saga of the Fall of Abbadon, the opening of the Wild Waste, and the death of Delrin, mate of Elum at the hands of the Betrayer.
It was rare but not un-heard of this time of year to perform the invocations of the Dark Dance Cycle, but rare enough that it would take some time to round up the dancers and costumes to perform the Trilogy. And thus of course, the genius of the venerated Composers of the piece was such that a lengthy prelude commenced then among the gathered principals and accompanists, which would give time enough for the songs and signals to be passed from mouth to ear, harp and tambour, and for appropriate performers to manifest assembled in the Grand Plaza, awaiting the signal of the Maestro.
Meanwhile, the Pentarch sailors drifted up the coast toward Elum in wonder. And though no one saw it in the midst of preparations, a tiny crack appeared in the foundation of the Pillar of Song, and a shudder went through the spine of the High Augur, out of sight far above.