The 18th Chronicles of The Cure
The sound of ice cracking pierces your unconsciousness. Tiny cracks making themselves heard around your motionless body. The darkness seems to be all encompassing, heavy, almost pushing itself into your soul. Despite all of this you realise you don’t feel scared. In fact you don’t feel anything. Not even the cold from the ice.
The unconsciousness was a dreamy bliss and you strive to reach out and grab it to stop it slipping away. But it has left you. The quiet splintering sounds intrigue you. Everything is just so still. Nothing is moving. At that stage you realise you are not even breathing. The thought that you could be in the final stages of drowning passes through your mind but even that does not bring worry.
You try to open your eyes but it puzzles you. They just don’t seem to be working. You try with all your might to force them open. You seem to think that if you could just open them everything will turn out alright. This battle of will against your body is interrupted by a distant clanging sound. It is a nice change to the constant quiet cracking.
The sound of foot steps increases from nothingness drawing closer. Yes footsteps, such a sweet sound. The sound of assistance and hope. It is not until the low colour of warmth starts to grow from the doorway adjacent to you that it dawns on you that your eyes have in fact been open this whole time. They are so dry. How long have they been open for? All traces of moisture have been removed so that you cannot even move them to look around the room that is appearing with the light.
A torch appears from around the doorway, seemingly as bright as many suns. It is propelled forward by a tall man with pale skin and straight dark hair, destroying the darkness. He has a neatly trimmed beard and wears an exquisitely fashioned white robe that flows down his skinny frame.
“Ah yes yes yes” He starts to mumble to himself as places his torch into the holder next to the door. Searching in his pouch on his side he looks quite please with himself.
“I knew it. I knew it! Merkesh knows best.”. He looks straight at you and says, “I bet you are about ready to come out of there.”
You try to respond unsuccessfully. He comes closer to you and pulls a vail and a cloth out of his pouch. After tipping the contents of the vail onto the silk cloth, he brings it up and starts wiping your eyes. Even though the scratching of the cloth is painful it does nothing to dull the sense of relief that floods through you as your eyes start to return to normal. They dart around the room gathering information.
You are in a clean, medium size room with nothing on the walls. You realise you have not been in here by yourself. There are 4 others, 2 on each side of you, covered in a clear blue crystal like substance with only their unmoving eyes showing. It is then you understand that the cracking noise is coming from the crystal encompassing you. It is slowly loosing its hold.
“Now for the important bit so listen to Merkesh. You must breathe, force yourself too. Fail to do this and you will die”.
A sense of panic starts to fill you with the mention of death. You have changed your mind. You know don’t want the darkness to return, the unconsciousness to take you again. You need to fight. Just breathe. It should be natural but you have forgotten how.
“Just expand your chest. Draw the life giving air deep inside you”
Merkesh’s words trigger a distant memory, and your shoulders rise, your chest pushes forward against the pressure of the cracked crystal and air floods into your lungs. It feels amazing. The air even tastes sweet. As you take in that life giving breath, the broken crystal looses it’s hold and your muscles give away to the weight of your body. You collapse to the floor in a shattered crystal mess. It is then your are aware that you are naked.
“Easy does it. There we go” Merkesh helps you to your feet. “Lets get you to your room.”
Over the next few weeks you spend nearly all the time relearning basic tasks but the improvement has been quiet fast. After the first week you could even manage a staggered run. Merkesh was please with that. You know that you are not allowed to leave the place with many rooms but that does not worry you as you know that it is for your own safety. Your knowledge of different subjects starts coming back to you but your memories are long forgotten. Merkesh has told you your name but it feels foreign, like wearing someone else’s jacket.
There are others here. After talking to them you understand that everyone has been through the same process. You develop a certain comradery with a hand full of them, they celebrate all your small successes as you do theirs. The knowledge that you are all going through this together is comforting.
Everyone has questions but they go know where. The group only occasionally sees other people, always wearing white robes with a blue spiral design on the front and back. When Merkesh is confronted with questions he only mumbles to himself something about one day at graduation and always trying to run before we can crawl.
As the weeks turn into months, your skills develop further. You even go on little excursions with your group of comrades, venturing out and around the forest at the foot of the mountain the compound is built into. You always come back as you don’t know anything else. Besides the compound provides nice food and a place to sleep and you are intrigued about graduation. Some people over the months cannot handle it and have been seen collapsed into themselves crying and they are quietly led away with the explanation that only people of strong character can handle it.
Merkesh approaches your collection of comrades one night as you are enjoying a fabulous meal of venison with a side of mushrooms that your group hunted and gathered during the day.
“It has been decided. Merkesh thinks you are ready. Tomorrow is the day for your endless questioning”. He starts to hand out blue robes with a white spiral design on the front and back. “Be ready in these in the morning and I will come and get you.”
We all stayed up late into the night speculating what could be happening the next day. We even celebrated with a mead or two, content in the knowledge that we were about to graduate even though we did not really know what we had been tested on.
The following morning our group was lead in our new robes up a path that lead up the mountain. This was a way that we had never been before, we had not even contemplated it. After about an hour of climbing we exchanged the lush grass to the crunch of old snow. We were still excited and full with anticipation with the warm sun on our backs. This did not fade even though we tramped passed noon with only a little bite to eat. Finally we seemed to round the side of the mountain and we saw in front of us a collection of well constructed buildings surrounding a large church like structure with a tower connected to it. On top of the tower was the spiral symbol that was on our robes but it was made out of pure gold. It was hard to look at as it seemed to catch the sun and hold it prisoner.
As we walked passed the buildings towards the tower, people came out and stood in their doorways. They did not speak, they did not smile, they were just interested in the new group of blue robe wearers.
You could tell the main doors to the perfectly masoned building that connected to the tower were expensive. Everyone let out a gasp as the doors opened to reveal a marble floor that had been crafted to allow gems to be inset in glittering patterns.
Merkesh removed his footwear and encouraged the group to do the same and then follow him into the corridor. He lead us to a room, all the while with his head down and muttering to himself, and motioned us to sit in the empty chairs. You could not keep from being absolutely amazed at the display of wealth around this building and even this room. Even the chair you chose to sit in would be worth more that an average person made in their lifetime. On one of the walls you see a gold framed quote, “The best form of control is the illusion of freedom”, Asdern Rythen – 1st Generation.
The murmur of excitement halted as soon as a figure entered, gliding over to stand in front of us. He was taller than average. He had an imposing aura to him even though he was obviously not very strong. Age had robbed him of his best years though his eyes were still sharp, darting at each of us in turn, seemingly reading our souls. His robe was similar to ours but it was made with a gold weave and it had rubies inlaid into it in the same spiral pattern on his front and back while emeralds decorated his shoulders. It had to be worth more than an entire village.
“I am Marderdeen,” He introduced himself with great importance. His voice deep and commanding of respect. “and I am a member to the council of the 17th generation of The Cure and you are part of our solution. I can understand you will have many questions but please let me speak fore mostly as it will answer many of them.”
He waited for our acknowledgements. “Let me start with The Cure. We control everything. Without us there would be complete chaos. We control not only artisan guilds, thieves guilds, adventuring guilds, but also royalty, kingdoms and countries. We even control the different religions and churches. We start and end wars, place and remove governments. We control everything no matter the race or economic standing.”
We were all quietly soaking up his words, trying to comprehend what he was saying.
“The best thing about The Cure is that no one knows we even exist. Even if rumours of us surface we can put them down to that person going crazy because it is so hard to fathom. Even the people we manipulate have no idea who or what is behind the manipulation.”
He paused for a moment to let it try and sink in some more while looking at our puzzled faces.
“I can understand this is quite a lot to take in all at once so let me give you an example. Back in the 2nd generation the population of dwarves and elves was getting out of control. Humans were greatly outnumbered and we were a dying race as we did not live as long. The council who was made up of members from all different races decided there were two ways to combat this. The first was for a war to start between the elves and the dwarves to start culling some of their numbers immediately. The second had a more long term goal. Systems were put in place to control their birthing rate. For example an elvish female could in those days have up to ten offspring where as now anything over two is extraordinary. As this happened over such a long period of time no one but us knew any better and a balance was achieved.”
Marderdeen pulled some of his long grey hair that was getting in his eyes and tucked it behind his ear. He then started playing with is immaculately groomed beard.
“Now to you. You are a part of the 18th generation of The Cure. You just don’t know it yet. You were each approached in your previous life and given this opportunity. You had to leave everything behind. But you understood what was being asked and only those who accepted were taken to be evolved into what you are today. Gone are your memories and past misconceptions of society. Here you start afresh. One day in the future it will be one of your jobs to do as I am doing to you now. You will eventually replace the 17th generation and then prepare the 19th.”
He stopped playing with his beard and placed his hand back to his side.