Black Seas of Infinity
Background Part Two
The Coming of the Lady
At first, it was only a few rumors making their way around the villages, murmured tales here and there about some unusual woman whom no one had ever seen before. This mysterious figure, so it was said, was traveling from settlement to settlement with great urgency, seeking out whomever was in charge, and entering into hushed, secretive meetings with the elders of each community before moving quickly on without so much as identifying herself. The odd thing was, most of those who’d actually spoken with her behind closed doors seemed deeply disturbed afterward, nervous, irritable, or withdrawn, as though they’d received some highly unpleasant news and were trying to cover it up. The even more bizarre thing about the accounts of this unknown outsider was that no one could agree on what the woman looked like, whether she was young or old, or even her race.
As the weeks went on, more and more sightings of the Wyrd Lady, as some had taken to calling her, were reported all over the World. Some said she was a matronly old crone, others claimed she was barely more than a girl. A wee halfling with fiery red braids according to one witness, a powerful goliath with flowing raven locks according to another, a shadar-kai coiffed in platinum blonde spikes by the reckoning of a third, a cobalt-scaled dragonborn as told by a fourth. The tales were as varied as they were incoherent, but certain common details lent credence to the mishmash of conflicting stories. Whatever her apparent age or race, she always came dressed in outlandishly exotic garb, the likes of which none had seen in the World. Those who claimed to have seen her all spoke of voluminous flowing robes of brightly-colored and exquisitely fine silk, bedecked with strange and impressive patterns and designs, along with richly ornamented headdresses, jewelry, and other accessories of wondrous artifice, including a notably prominent glowing medallion emblazoned with the symbol of a stylized white tree on a sky-blue background. Certainly nothing like the attire of any normal person of the World – more like some legendary figure from the old myths. Where would someone even acquire such extravagant garments, if not from beyond the Wyrd itself?
There were other congruencies in the reports of the mysterious traveler besides her otherworldly fashion. Many witnesses claim that she stood and watched them, staring with a shockingly unabashed gaze so intense and penetrating that they felt she was seeing right into their very souls. She studied people intently, they said, and seemed to see much more than any human eyes had a right to perceive. Yet, despite this, nearly everyone claimed to have been rather comforted by her presence, rather than threatened. Each observer remarked upon some aspect of her visage that made them feel entirely entranced or at ease, even while she fixed that unavoidable stare upon them. To some, she was heart-breakingly beautiful, the very essence of all they found desirable. To others, she was like a kindly mother, somehow radiating warmth and safety. Many made the comment that she reminded them on a deep level of a beloved sibling or dear old friend. It seemed that each person who looked upon the Lady of the Wyrd saw in her whatever they most needed or longed to see. Other claims were even more fantastical – that she was seen flying on occasion, or even vanishing into thin air and then reappearing instantly elsewhere, many feet away. Not merely the tall tales of irresponsible youths, these stories were being corroborated now by serious and sober men and women. No one knew what was going on, but it was clear that whatever it was, it was no fool’s fancy.
Eventually, the village elders with whom she’d spoken began to talk, to call meetings and arrange for councils with other settlements’ leaders. The chilling truth of the Wyrd Lady’s agenda became known to the people at large. It was revealed that she had delivered a dire warning . . . the World was going to end.
Or at least, the lives of all of the humans on it would, and within only a handful of years. The Lady of the Wyrd spoke of an unspeakable horde of pure evil, a writhing, howling, sanity-shredding pack of ancient alien entities whose very existence was an affront to nature, whose incomprehensible wrongness was a blasphemy against all life and reason, who would unfailingly consume the minds of every man, woman, and child who made the World their home. Few would be outright killed by these horrific abominations, no, that mercy would be a rare blessing in the days to come. Most would simply be stripped of their very humanity, their psyches broken, left as drooling, gibbering, ravening husks, shambling lumps of meat in the woeful shape of what were once persons. The coming aberrations would infect the entire World with an unthinkable and unstoppable madness, its former human beings devolved into mindlessness, crushing apathy or shocking savagery, eating one another, tearing at their own flesh, or simply wasting away in an incurable catatonia which would atrophy their bodies until they finally perished as shriveled sacks of brittle bones.
This was no mere speculation or nebulous prophecy on the part of the Wyrd Lady, but a certain fact, a fait accompli, an utter inevitability that she spoke of. She knew this to be true for one dreadful, devastatingly simple reason . . . it was she who had brought them here.
The World’s doom was well and truly nigh, and as its harbinger, that fell herald known as the Lady of the Wyrd, spread the word from village to village, a slowly dawning terror began to bloom in the hearts of the people.
The end of the World was at hand.