On Thursday of last week, a link began spreading; directing all and sundry to this site. Rumblings have continued; stories abound of horror and wonder, and strange word of ‘The Iron Council’. As the mystery grows, we hope our account – overheard in a local tavern of some disrepute – may shed some light.
“Don’t be stupid, boy.”
The voice came from the old man in the corner. They hadn’t paid him any heed when they entered the tavern, but now he had spoken, they couldn’t help but look at him. Although covered in nought but ancient rags and consisting of little more than skin and bones, his eyes held their gaze more completely than the chest of any of the town’s whores could ever hope to.
“You think you have what it takes,” he sneered “to face them? For all the gold in the East, you couldn’t hire an army large enough to take them down. What makes you think you and your friends have the faintest hope in hell of plundering their hoard?”
The young man’s friends shifted nervously. The old man’s eyes were making them all uncomfortable. At first he seemed blind; the irises of both eyes milky white, and the pupils covered near to pinpoints – but the longer they looked, the wider those irises seemed to get, as if dispelling an illusion projected for the world; a glamour designed to throw others off. The more they stared, the more they could see naught else.
“Look deeper, boy. Know whom you seek to incense. See what I have seen.”
He tired to blink; to look away, but he could not. He kept staring until the tiny licks of flame he thought he had imagined filled his mind. Disembodied voices, far away, screamed out for mercy, and the overwhelming sense of an ancient and terrible malice threatened to squeeze all joy from his heart.
One of his compatriots groaned. Another, pale as the moon, wretched twice and threw up into his stew. The faint smell of warm piss wafted to his nose. But still he looked on, horrified by what he filled his senses, but yet more afraid to look away.
The old man’s fist crashed onto the wooden table in front of him, instantly snapping the group of adventurers from their stupor.
“That is NOTHING compared to what awaits you if you continue on this foolish course. Sell your swords. Go to the brothel and spend your money, and then return home to your mothers. There are fates far worse than death, and all of them await you if you dare to face The Iron Council.”
Barely looking at one another, the six, confident, boastful young men who had swaggered into the inn not half an hour earlier shuffled out of the establishment and into the warm evening outside. Not one word passed their lips.
“Adventurers,” said the old man; his eyes once again waxen and sightless. “all talk.”
“Long may it stay that way, for their sakes.” replied the innkeeper.