The Awakening – Act IV Written by the EM Team The thundering echoes of metal clashing against stone rose up again from the western walls, as yet another of the mechanical beasts managed to clamber its way out of the hole that led to their entombed shrine to do battle with the Gargish defenders. Alone the creatures were not a lethal threat, but any mistake would lead to injuries, and the gargoyles could not replenish their forces as the machines did. Add to that the defecting gargoyles that joined the twisted and insane controllers inside the mechanized temple to a long dormant deity, and Ver Lor Reg sat on a precarious perch. And though the sounds of valorous physical battle carried from the site, a far different but decidedly no less heated battle took place inside their council chambers. “To say we have dealt with the creatures of this land since Ver Lor Reg was created and we have never once faltered. To think that this is an unconquerable force is unworthy of our people. To say that we should accept the offer of Zhah…is unbecoming.” A rustling of leathery wings showed the gargoyles’ displeasure at the tone struck by Vis-Lem. “Zhah’s offer of refuge and treatise is favorable and generous; Driven by worry of losing some of your power, Vis-Lem?” Vis-Lem bared his teeth for a moment at Res-Vor. “To say that establishing Ver Lor Reg was a monumental accomplishment is an understatement; The machines are threatening, but the influx of visitors is helping businesses…” An-Rel-Tar raised a clawed hand for a moment for silence, and everyone ceased. It had been some time since they had heard the aged gargoyle speak. Clearing his throat for a moment, he stood and gestured to the other gargoyles at the stone table. “The elves…humans…and even fellow gargoyles are straining our resources. There is only so much the land and our mages can provide, and with central Ilshenar sealed so have a plethora of our resources been sealed beyond our reach. The gold is good, yes…but of what use is it when the Britannians suffer from raiders in their own cities and caravans are scarce? Think on it long and hard, my friends…It is no easy decision to make. We stand at a precipice, and must make sure we do not plunge off of it.” As An-Rel-Tar finished, he turned to walk out and the other gargoyles knew that regardless of whether or not they had anything else to say, for now at least, this meeting was finished. San-Lem had spent several years as a healer here in Ver Lor Reg, and before that she’d wandered through the wilds of Ilshenar, and it was a testament to her ability to recognize danger and steer clear of it that she’d survived as long as she had. The recent skirmishes in the city had set her and many others nerves on edge regarding the current situation, and the heavy traffic through the area didn’t help. Change begets change, she thought…and change was often a violent and destructive process. She’d made up her mind some weeks ago, and had only just now finished her preparations, trading what coin she had for rations and supplies. It ached within her to think of no longer being able to feel the touch of cool marble beneath her clawed feet, but she’d already made up her mind. As she passed through the gates of the cities and headed between the great marble pillars that marked where they had conquered the deserts of Ilshenar, she took one last look at the city before drawing her wings around her. She turned and headed north, passing a small group of humans with some sort of tool she’d never seen before. They were taking great scoops of the desert up and shaking loose the sand, finding rocks and bits of stone and marble from the initial constructions. Shaking her head she walked on, thinking that she’d never understand the humans no matter how many generations of their people she lived through.