In the age of sails, two men travel across the seas, to the mysterious Western Continents. They seek to discover the reason for the persistently fading presence of magic on Earth. Rumors of an ancient ritual reach their ears, and the discovery of legend made flesh. Quetzalcoatl, a greedy spirit of Lightning and Thunder, had taken corporeal form and devoured the mana of a Ley Line. The very vitals of the Earth showed strain: deserts forming around the world, barren, tumultuous seas, and plagues thriving amongst the people. The reach of the beast’s hunger provokes the mages Darai B’kan and Yamato Ozakai, envoys of the East. Darai and Yamato forge ahead on an arduous journey toward the root of the living disaster. Regardless of their local fervor, the presence of such a powerful spirit was taking a permanent toll. Starving, weary, and surrounded by danger, they approach the summit. Colossal cuts of stone were piled high at the center of the city, well worn by the feet of local worshipers. A steady line bore an endless stream of tribute to the peak of the Sky Temple of Tenochtitlan. Before a bonfire, the towering figure of gleaming, golden quills marked the visage of the Thunderbird. Finally, the two men reach their target, at the heart of the Aztec Empire.
Darai’s joints ached as he leaped from rock to rock, well-worn black clothes flapped wildly in the wind as the dark figure ascended. The hill face was steep, but living in Tibet had demanded much steeper and harsher traversal than this. The burden of the journey showed as their endurance waned. The moonlight danced off his silver bracers and greaves as he climbed higher until he reached the summit and looked out at the island city of before him. The bandages that covered his scars kept a sudden gust from touching his face, but the loose wrappings around his neck were exposed, a chill from the midnight wind.
A sprawling city of carved stone and copper-skinned people surrounded a massive bonfire that lapped at the night sky hungrily. There was no question where he had to look for the priest, the chanting of the cult was plenty audible from this side of the hill. Only one word was clear among the shouts — “Quetzalcoatl!”
Darai’s eye catches to the left, a flash of Yamato brandishing his namesake, making his descent toward the city. Swallowing his anxiety, Darai followed. Even after three months together, the unwavering warrior Yamato was difficult to keep up with. Darai barely muttered, “Die by the blade, huh.”
Tenochtitlan was alive and swarming — its throngs praying and feasting to please their living god. Crests of Quetzalcoatl shown emblazoned across every wall, body, and banner. A feast of red meat, raw offerings to the “Thunder Made Flesh.”
Perhaps not a storm god, but the aura is definitely of a higher tier spirit. If there are so many willing conduits, severing its tether to the Material Plane could be the death of us.
Darai reached inside his clothes and retrieved a vial of dark red blood, dipping his fingers in the catalyst and spreading it in the formation of an eye in the palm of his hand. When he finished, he pressed into the iris, and his eyes flooded with white. Scrying was not part of his repertoire, but the harvested vial was just enough for one use.
The Aztecs use their blood to form the Arcana symbols, invoking magic through contracts established with the Spirit Plane. The Spirit Arcanum was still largely a mystery. Quetzalcoatl had demanded the focus of the world through his actions, but the potential of development in the aftermath brought Darai hope. Uncorking a second bottle, he began drawing the tendrils of the Death Arcana along his forearms and biceps.
Doubt gnawed at him, and Darai had a fleeting thought of hesitation. This plan is suicide. Two of us are taking on an unknown depth of power. We are without allies, resources, or plan of escape. It’s all or nothing. If they failed, Yamato Ozakai and Darai B’kan would have crossed the End of the World to find their graves in a foreign land. Our mission ends here at Tenochtitlan, with the death of the golden beast dancing before the fire.
Darai exhaled deeply, then summoned from within, forming a link through the Mind Arcana with Yamato. “Quetzalcoatl has harnessed all the Mana in this hemisphere into one spirit… to think there can be such power in these things untouched by death!” Darai furrowed his brow. The idea of something living outside the mortal realm unnerved him. “It’s possible to kill a spirit with the Death Arcanum, but this beast seems to be on an entirely different level. I don’t know if I’m strong enough. The overwhelming spell power of the spirit stands a chance of obliterating us both. Neither of us has encountered an entity of this scale.”
Yamato watched Darai for a moment, directing his thoughts as he climbed down. “The conduit of its manifestation, however…Quetzalcoatl himself is still tethered to man, his body binds the spirit. Still, challenging either not to be taken lightly. Our only path is forward, Darai.”
Darai breathed deeply as he concentrated. “My plan rests on the assumption that if the beast has its Mana current interrupted by killing Quetzalcoatl, we will sever the connection binding the lightning spirit’s avatar to the mortal plane and the world should be released from the parasite. Magic will return to us. We will succeed. We must succeed. For the sake of the future of magic, we will win.”