And so he paced. Running his hands over the ancient stones, he whispered, “Test them, bring them down, break them. Only if they are broken can they rise.” The room rumbled, but calling it a room would be a heinous crime. This was a place of creation itself. A place where the forces of life and death swirled in unison, unbridled, unbroken, and in their infinite power. The most powerful man to ever live had built this ancient place, he had harnessed the strength of universe, contained it, and controlled it with his indomitable will. The man in the room now had the strength to control this power, for he had been touched by demons and gods.
The room boomed with the sound of a thousand thunderclaps and the scene before the man shifted. Six heroes stood, each in a realm of trial and test. The Dragonborn was shoulder to shoulder with his armies, preparing to fight giants of fire. The Dwarven hero open his eyes to a dimly lit place, with a cowering humanoid surrounded by dark creatures; wraiths. The Human Ranger stepped back from the cliff’s edge. Turning, he saw a Drow a short distance away, but the Ranger was weaponless; for his swords lay on a pillar a short distance away from him. The Sorcerer stood on rugged terrain. She was surrounded by a whirlwind, and at the edge of the storms eye three Drow surrounded a prisoner menacingly. The half-elf Cleric arose in a field of grass, in pleasant springtime. He stood on one side of a deep chasm, and on the other side stood a beautiful Elf maid, clutching an infant Orc. Each hero acted and moved forward. Holding fast to their beliefs, Dragonborn clashed with fire giants, the dwarf pulled the humanoid from the darkness, Drow were fought with, and an orc was spared. The room warped, bringing the adventurers together.
The man laughed and boomed, “Let them contest with themselves! They will know every weakness and every strength, every advantage and disadvantage. This will be a true challenege.” The six appeared on a burning pyre. Shadowy figures could be seen darting about the hallways, using arcane spells, martial prowess, and divine strength. Slowly, the adventurers began to realize the true danger that they faced, for this was a battle that the scale found even and equal. Ranger clashed with Ranger, Wizard fought Wizard, and adventurers fought themselves. It was only after truly great combat that a victor emerged. Those who were not shades of themselves proved that life is not something easily copied and replicated.
The heroes had completed the trial. Returned to the temple, they reequipped, rested, and prepared for a great battle. As they prepared, they grew silent, each contemplating their destiny, what their future was to bring. They had embarked on quests, saved kingdoms, and fought legendary foes. They sat. They began to recall their many victories, but fell into deeper contemplation as they thought of what was to come.
A silence of three parts filled the temple. Not an ordinary, hushed silence. This was a silence that filled the temple, permeated every nook, every cranny, even the very souls of those who would notice its existence. This first silence could be perceived by those who could hear the quickly beating hearts of the adventurers exploring. It was the quiet rasp of quickened breath, of a whetstone on the axe, and the anticipation of coming battle.
The second silence was a deeper, older silence. It filled every stone. The hieroglyphs on the walls screamed the silence to those who could hear them. The bones of the ancient mage were permeated by it. It was the silence of a place past its days of greatness, falling into the abyss of time. For only few remembered this place’s existence, and many of those few knew of it only in legend and myth.
The third silence was a new silence, not of the temple, but of one who knew it. This silence was one that you could hear if you listened for hours, it was the cracks of the stone floor, the settling dust. The silence of the hands of a great arcanist working to create a new place, to escape a destiny. As he paced you might realize that this temple was his, just as the third silence was. It filled every marking across his back, the sword and staff at his side, and the deep ebony crystal held in his hand. This was the silence of a man who is waiting to die.