Twelve robed figures stood in circle facing each other, in the center of a large room. A plastic trash can sat in the middle of them, though there was no sign it had ever been dirty. Twelve sword hilts jutted from its open top. The room’s décor was that of an ancient temple, with altars, columns, and long tapestries, with no hint that it lay on the third floor of a building in Tacoma.
Though if one was to examine that old brick building, you would see it’s three floors were marked, in order, “Discount Jeans” at the bottom, “Air Force Surplus” on the second, and “Knights of Damon” on the top, each in peeling white paint.
One of robed figures stepped forward, toward the center of the circle.
“It is exposed. Its work is now threatened. Forces will move to destroy it, and break the Seal it keeps.” The figure’s voice was deep but quiet, as though all the wind had long since left it.
A second pf the twelve stepped back, away from the circle.
“The Purpose is old. Our reach has shortened, and no long includes the heights of rulership. The Seal may never have truly existed.” This one’s voice is strong, sharp, and full of barely-constrained energy.
A third figure stepped forward, to stand near the trash can of swords.
“One call for action. One call for restraint. A question for the blades. Now, we draw.”
One by one, each of the other 11 robed figures walked past the trash can, each handed a sheathed sword from within. The handles and sheaths were identical, simple in form with dark red leather and gold-stamped sigils into dark steel. As the gloved hands took the hilts, each sought a small notch found in every hilt. Some grasped the handle notch up, and others with the notch down.
When 11 figures had all walked past, the last one by the trash can took the last sword and returned to his original position in the circle. A heartbeat later, all twelve pulled their swords halfway out of their sheathes. Each revealed a bright, single-edged steel blade. Seven of the blades were held edge up, and five edge down.
The first voice spoke.
“We have accepted a call to action. Who, among us, shall leave FortressHall and undertake this quest?”
All twelve drew their swords completely. Eleven of the blades were identical, but one had a single golden mark of an eye just short of the blade’s tip.
The figure holding the eye-marked blade held it up slowly, turning it so all could see. The blade wielder took a deep breath, and spoke with a clear voice of high timbre.
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