Arlen Franeo - Oculus Tower, Eiklore
"Damn sailors." After hours of delay, Arlen finally arrived at Ekilore, the sailors he employed making excuses and miniscule reasons to stop in a port and replenish food and repair their ship. Now the boat was a half a mile or so out in the sea, the front half partially impaled on a rock submerged just below the surface. He scoffed at their novice mistake, no man from Vanaheim would have made the same mistake. Arlen had to take a life boat to get to shore, braving the elements alone in the small life boat with only his gear to keep him company.The docks were mostly empty when he arrived, only a skeleton crew for the few ships at the dock maintaining and repairing their ships for their voyage back to the mainland. As his small vessel bumped up against the dock, he cursed the incompetent crew he had sailed here with. He jumped out a, skillfully making a cleat hitch knot with the bow line to secure the boat to the dock, leaving most of his gear in the boat, hoping nobody would mess with it.
As he finished tying up the boat, he tucked a shortish knife into the folds of his clothing. He had been warned by a friend not to bring weapons with him into the tower, as the monks had a very nonviolent approach on things. But he was a military man, and he never went anywhere without at least minimal protection. Even a small blade is better than nothing. He stretched for a moment, then made his way up the beaten path that led towards the tower. It was not an attractive island, mostly rock and dirt, with the occasional grass growing here and there. The tower seemed to stretch above the clouds, its marble walls dominating the landscape. He marveled at the architecture of the building and what it must have taken to build such a thing. Although the sea breeze was strong, the tower stood unmoving, the wind not seeming to affect the gleaming tower at all.
As he approached the large wooden doors, a monk opened one to greet him. The monk was clothed plainly, wearing mostly brown and his head was completely shaven, the perfect image of a monk. He approached a bit nervously, as if something was wrong. "E..excuse me sir, can I help you? Are you here for spiritual or intellectual guidance, or...?"
Arlen smiled and laughed, "Guidance? No, I am quite fine in terms of guidance. I was summoned however, for some sort of meeting here?" Arlen handed over the papers that he had received to the monk, who quickly read through them to ensure that they were legitimate. They had been affected slightly by the rain that the sea, but Arlen had done his best to maintain the quality of the papers...for the most part.
The monk nodded energetically, "Ah, yes! I do apologize, please come with me, right this way." The door opened as the monk approached it, and he beckoned for Arlen to follow him. As he entered the tower, he was astonished at the pure amount of knowledge contained within the walls of the tower. Huge book cases went from floor to ceiling on the main floor and many following floors as well, and large masterpieces of art line the walls, taking up every available space on the walls. Some of the art Arlen recognized, having seen replicas in palaces or mansions, but the majority were new to him, each telling stories. He just stared at the walls for the moment, then turned and started following the monk once again.
"...and you are a bit late, but hopefully that should not cause too much of a problem. We were prepared for latecomers, the rest of the group should be just up ahead."
"Well, I wouldn't be late if it weren't for those imbeciles back on the boat", Arlen grumbled.
The monk gave him a strange look, "The Creator has a purpose for all things and all people, whether they be stupid or intelligent, beautiful or ugly. He is perfect, therefore all He can create is perfection. Therefore, by insulting one of His creations, you are insulting the Creator Himself. Perhaps there was a reason that the Creator wanted you to be delayed, a lesson to be learned, or a greater danger to be avoided. No one can know but the Creator."
"I thought monks were supposed to be accepting of all religions and putting trust in intellectual things rather than theological", Arlen replied, a bit surprised.
"Ah well, you see, I specialize in theological information. And while I do believe in a single Creator, I do believe in other elements of other religions as well. As a man from Vanaheim if I do believe, you believe in polytheism, or the belief of many gods, where as I believe in one. However, I came to the conclusion of one God after much study of all of the various religions. I do believe that all religions have some proof in them however. For example, your worship many gods, but I believe in my one God who encompasses all of the traits and powers of your many gods. So I take elements from many religions that seem to be accurate and mix them together for my own religion, with a few personal beliefs mixed in."
Arlen just shook his head with confusion. "As interesting as this discussion is, I have a meeting to attend. Perhaps we can discuss theology some other time if we ever get the chance."
The monk just smiled, "Indeed! Well, the rest of your group is standing there on the platform/ I would get up there before they leave. Perhaps the Creator will bring us together again sometime. Farewell." And with that the monk walked off, no doubt to dissect some other religion for things to add to his own.
Arlen watched the man for a moment, thinking about the interesting things he had said about religion, before brushing it away. Things happened because they happen, not because some overlord is dictating every event in a man's life. As interesting as the conversation was, Arlen still believed that it was nonsense. Only moments after he had stepped on the platform did the monk seeming to be in charge of the group speak up.
The Eunuch turned to the others then, having finished with Roland. "Now my lords and lady, do stay on the platform. Hold on to the railings if you feel like as though you will fall off," the Eunuch said. Then he turned and pulled a small lever beside one of the railings, and the platform began to rise.
After a few minutes of rising, the platform came to a stop, slowly grinding to a halt. The monk in charge spoke up once again addressing the group. "Come this way," the Eunuch said continuing to lead the way before pausing at the door. "I must warn you. The climb up the next of stairs is quite perilous. Stay close to the wall and you shall be fine."
"What do you mean 'perilous'?" one man asked.
"Oh", the monk replied, "You will see." He opened the door and wind blasted into the tower battering the unsuspecting group. After the initial shock wore away, the group went through the door single file, Arlen taking up the rear. He swung the metal door shut behind him, then turned to see a magnificent view. The island of Ekilore seemed tiny, the ground below hundreds of feel away, death mocking them, taunting them to take a peek over the edge. Past the island he could see all of Hyrus stretching out before him, from the distant island of Rolsten to the northern peaks of his own country Vanaheim and the island of Snowshire just beyond that. His eyes never left the spectacle as they wound their way around the tower. As they came to the opposite side and the view of Hyrus disappearing from view, hidden by the tower, Arlen looked out towards the empty ocean, stretching mile after mile of complete emptiness. Arlen vaguely wondered if anything existed out there, if there was anything besides their own continent.
After a short, but incredible walk up the stairs winding around the tower, the stopped at another door, and the monk gestured to wait. Content with spending a few more minutes with the incredible spectacle, he leaned his back against the wall and took in the natural beauty of Hyrus stretching out before him.