An account of the moving of the Arch

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Sealed in the Imperial Archives, discovered by Yanina and shared with Ilphere

An account of the moving of the Arch, by Lord Chancellor Kalman vak Andras, Duke of Sarande, written in 2225. To be kept sealed in the Imperial Archives.

Let me begin by saying that I believed then, and still believe wholeheartedly that we did the right thing when we decided to move the Arch. All of our research pointed to it being a necessary act. Pasith Belden had communed with Ox, which seemed to confirm our decision. The beings imprisoned in the Arch were gods, or had the power of gods, and we had been allowing them to dictate our choice of ruler without serious consideration of their motives or goals. Perhaps it used to be worth the price, a few notable exceptions notwithstanding; at a certain point, however, we ceased to be willing to sacrifice our leaders to its unknown and unknowable intentions, or to continue to imprison a deity of our own people, however long separated. We believed it would release Rat back into the world, and suspected that it would release this evil being as well - it was a price we were willing to pay, though I fully acknowledge our arrogance in being willing to make such a decision for the entire Empire, or even the entire world.

When Empress Tristane lay suspended in a state of near-death, the Eternit Bell tolling, we made our way to the chamber containing the Arch. It was cold as ice, dark and starlit. The Arch loomed over us, and seemed to be trying to draw us in. We resisted as much as we were able. A young girl stood between us and the Arch. She might have been twelve or fourteen, and wore a black robe, belted at the waist. Her hair was loose and curly. She told us it was not yet time for the testing, as the bell had not stopped yet. She told us she was the Keeper of the Arch, and said that she knew what "it" (by which I understood the Arch, or the beings within it) wanted, but that it was not yet time. Pavo Arsenios asked her who she served, and she replied that she served her master, that her master was not a part of our Empire, and that she was a part of her master. She did not confirm, however, whether her master was in the Arch or not. She claimed to be able to see the future. She told us that if we moved the Arch, our Empire would fall. And we did it anyway. When the avatar of Ox appeared to move the structure, she disappeared beneath it somehow, and in the confusion that followed, we spared little thought for her words, or where she might have gone. Attempts to locate her later were, unsurprisingly, unsuccessful, given the little we knew about her - not her name, not even whether she was truly human or not.

In the years since then, I have often thought about what she said. The lower Arch, I believe, had the capacity to show the past - why should the upper one not have been able to show the future, or at least possible futures? Neither Empress Tristane nor Althea will speak much of their experiences in passing through the Arch, but I do believe that one thing it granted them was some degree of foreknowledge. The Empress, at least, also has some connection (for lack of a better term) to the city. For instance, an item rarely considered, or even questioned, is the Eternit Bell. It tolls on its own, and begins to toll instantly when the Emperor is dying, and stops when he or she finally passes. How is this possible, except through some mystical bond between ruler and land? I believe that when Empress Tristane dies (may it be many years hence), the bell will sound on its own for the last time. We may wish to consider finding some mechanism to ring it manually in the event of future rulers' deaths, in order to maintain an appearance of continuity. Although if the Keeper's prediction proves correct, it may not be necessary.