This is a cautionary tale, although it is difficult to determine what is being discouraged. Does it refer to keeping one’s word? Or is it that the bearer of bad news must be prepared for anything?
In the long-ago, the Temple of Cazic-Thule stood mighty among all the temples to the lesser gods. For many long years, it was the focal point of worship of and sacrifice to the god of fear. Many were the servants of this Temple, for Cazic-Thule was worthy of worship and praise. All who belonged to the Alliz Ew provided for the Temple’s maintenance, including lesser beings and unwanted hatchlings to serve as either servants or sacrifices — sometimes both.
Now, in this time the Alliz Ew did also worship Alliz Onu, She Who Creates, but being endowed with high intelligence they also knew that Cazic-Thule and his ilk would not play second best to Her. So they worshipped Her and made offerings to Her, but they build the Temple so that Cazic-Thule would see their faith and leave them to worship as they saw fit.
Each servant in the Temple served a particular purpose and when that purpose was completed, so was their service. At that time, they would be sacrificed. Vashahkti, the youngest hatchling of his family, was not like the other servants. His job was to wash the vessel into which the sacrificial liquors were poured and while this purpose was completed each day, Vashahkti was filled with such reverence for his task that the priests of the Temple kept him.
In many ways, Vashahkti was fortunate for though the Alliz Ew were harsh masters, beyond the Temple doors were encamped the army of Rallos Zek. Vashahkti knew that the Rallosians were building their empire anew and that they were subjugating all the Alliz Ew they found in the Feerrott. He also knew that they were bound by ancient custom: the followers of Rallos Zek were not to defile the Temple of Cazic-Thule, nor could the followers of Cazic-Thule defile a temple to Rallos Zek.
Beyond the Temple’s walls, the ogres of the Rallosian Army celebrated each victory by feasting on the stores of food raided from those they had conquered. They roasted birds by the hundreds, ate unhatched Alliz Ew eggs and drank a vile and quickly brewed ale of substandard quality. As every day brought news of another victory, the ogres surrounding the Temple celebrated each day.
It happened that one day, when Vashahkti went outside the Temple one day on an errand, he found himself surrounded by Rallosians. They pushed him this way and that and made sport with him. Vashahkti said nothing. Tiring of their play, the ogres kicked Vashahkti and sent him on his way. As he walked off, he heard one of them say, “Did you see the gemstones glittering on that one’s vest? They say the whole Temple is filled with treasures like that.”
Vashahkti slipped into the woods to listen to the Rallosians. Another ogre gave a great belch and said, “Those weren’t no gemstones; they looked like rocks.” Still another ogre slapped the first one on his helmet and said, “If they was gemstones, why didn’t we pinch them when we had that lizard in our grasp?” The first ogre snarled, “You are all as stupid as they day you were born. I tell you, the whole Temple is filled with gemstones, and I’m going to get me some.”
Returning to the Temple, Vashahkti at once told the head priest all he had overheard. The head priest snapped, “They will not dare cross into the Temple, for that will be the last action they take.” The words had no sooner left his mouth when the Temple’s doors flew open and in rushed a band of ogres. Vashahkti knew all the secret ways of the Temple as he had lived there now for many years. In the confusion, he slipped down a black corridor and listened to the chaos and mayhem behind him, cursing the Rallosians as he ran.
Vashahkti made for an inner sanctum of the Temple. He was Alliz Ew; he was not running from battle. No, his purpose was a greater one: to sound the alarm through all Feerrott and alert the Sleeping Watcher whose presence the Alliz Ew felt, but never saw. He struck the iron gong so vigorously that it shattered, piercing him with its shards. Vashahkti knew no pain; he only knew he must raise the Watcher.
Behind Vashahkti, the Watcher stretched, unfurling after years of hidden slumber. It knew instantly that the Temple had been defiled and that it would need to act. “You have done well,” hissed the Watcher, standing now at its full height. Vashahkti turned and stared in awe, then prostrated himself to worship it. The Watcher, Avatar of Fear, yawned and stretched again before seizing Vashahkti and allowing him to be the first sacrifice toward the ultimate defeat of the Rallosian Army.