Of the Tower of Jet

In a storm-swept expanse of the Ocean of Shards there is a black tower older than man. Amid the churning gray a pentagonal shaft reaches forbidding into the sky. There are no lands nearby and only a few have seen it, blown off-course by the screaming winds so common there. No window nor portal nor crevice mars the stygian mirror of its surface, although some say that it is limned by a ghostly green radiance in the darkest part of a moonless night. Even the Sa’au-ka’a do not know who built it, or if it was built at all, and none recall the days before it.

The great seeker Thanúl once traveled there, seeking to plumb its mysteries. He it was who, delving for knowledge, trod the earth of the Afterlands with his own feet and returned alive, and sought and received an audience with cloaked Zerém, who answered not his many questions yet did not bar him from departure. But from the Tower of Jet he did not return, and no history of man tells of his end.

Yet tales are told in the squalid ports of the Golden Isles of his journey, of the tall ship that bore he and two hundred men to Ibláyat, greatest port on the Ocean of Shards, seeking supplies for the long journey to the south. Sailors in those forbidding harbors whisper that the hands on that lonely voyage went mad, and cast their captain and the aged scholar into the sea, and dashed their ship against the Tower. They tell, too, of creatures that dwell unseen by mortal eyes in its lightless interior, sealed within and ever waiting for some fool of the outer world to unlock a prison into which they were cast before ever the light of Ilmántar touched the world. They say that to see the Tower with one’s own eyes is madness, and to attempt to enter it folly. Those who intrude upon the obleisk, it is said, are torn apart in both soul and body while yet alive, and the ragged scraps of both consumed by the howling demons within.

No man knows the truth of these tales, whether they be truth or mere rumor spread on breath reeking of ale and hasis. But in all the cities of the world no tales are told, among those who traffic among the shades of the dead or travel the Afterlands in spirit-shape, of meeting there the spirit of old Thanúl.


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