The sun shines brightly, sending rays of shimmering light into the blue waters around you. Before you lies the archway of your people into the Central Peak. A 50’ hallway through the living coral reef that circles the peak, framed at it’s entrance by the carved figures of a male and female reaching towards one another and touching their hands at the apex of the arch. The figures are carved from glistening white whale bone, enchanted to maintain their ivory sheen throughout time.
Next to you stand four representatives of your people; an escort to the Council Hall, where you will meet the youths who will be tested with you. It has been many years, you have been told, since the omens and auguries have called for a Communion; but on that day you had come of age. It has been with some shock and trepidation that you received the news that you had been chosen to represent your people in the new Communion. But did you have a choice? No. For the next three weeks you were instructed in the ceremony that was to follow and given time to practice the skills you had honed over many years.
So here you are, dressed in the finest vestments of your people, and about to enter the Central Peak alone. With a final blessing from your companions you swim boldly into the long hallway before you. Black anemone dot the sands of the hallway floor, and brightly colored fish dart away as you pass. Ahead you see the inky darkness of the tunnel that leads through the solid rock of the craters old neck. You heart begins to beat heavily in your chest as you approach the tunnel entrance; a thousand feet of tunnel lie before you, quiet and dark. To your surprise, however, you notice a faint blue light emanating from within when you pass through the tunnel’s entrance. About 20’ in the ceiling is dotted with colonies of chelmiya, long strings that hang from the ceiling glowing with blue light. They remind you of necklaces of pearls, each pearl an egg that will one day hatch and give birth to a tiny chelmiya of it’s own. The light of the chelmiyas are welcome companions as you swim down the twisting tunnel before you. As you swim by them the shifting water brushes past them making their light glow a little brighter as you pass, a beautiful sight.
The tunnel is long and twists irregularly, the paths of old lava tubes that spilled out of Ynys Mons in uncounted ages past, long before even the Elves of Husheron had come to the Great Shelf.
On you swim, with only the glowing colonies of chelmiya to light your way.
Eventually you begin to discern a growing light ahead, and realize, despite the twists and turns before you, you are coming to the tunnels end, and will glimpse the Council Hall for the first time in your life. The Hall has been described to you many times during your youth, but none are allowed to see it until they come of age. You have heard of it’s massive stone carvings, shaped corals, and especially the Pearl Basin where the ceremony is held. “Until you’ve seen it, “ say your people, “you can’t imagine how beautiful it really is.” All these thoughts run through your mind as the tunnel comes close to an end, the light is blinding compared to the darkness of the tunnel; when you emerge it takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust.
Arrayed before you is a wall of coral of exquisite shapes and colors. Fish dart in and out of the reefs and colored snails, and crustaceans, dot the landscape around you. The coral reef rises all the way to the top of the water above you; a good 30’ up. There is large arched opening at the base of the reef before you, leading into a hallway twisting through the living coral itself. it is obvious that the coral itself has been shaped and molded over many years to make shapes of fascinating depth and complexity, and the waters around you hold a stunning array of sea life from all over the Great Shelf. The hallway twists to a fro but gradually rises towards the surface. As you swim you notice grand alcoves to the left and right of the hallway; each alcove holds a large stone statue of one of your people’s greatest persons. You are tempted to look, but it feels urgent to swim on.
The hallway is long and twisting and for the first time you get a sense of just how big the crater of Central Peak really is; you realize you have been swimming for some time and still have not reached the Council Hall said to lie at it’s center. After a time you see that you are nearing the surface of the water and before you you see a submerged stone stair, and at the base of the stair two heavily armed guards from your people. As you approach they signal you to halt in Battle Sign when you swim before them. The sentinel on the left looks to you.
“You will follow behind us up the stairs when it is time. It is together that we, and those who test with you, enter the Council Hall. Stand ready!”
Looking before you, you see that the stair leads out of the water to what appears to be a sandbar of shining white sand. Your nervousness grows as you sense the time for the ceremony is drawing near. The sentinels stand mute, their eyes fixed on you. Suddenly three louds clicks echo through the water around you and the sentinels turn and ascend the stairs before you, their feet inexplicably drawn to the steps as if suddenly weighted. You follow.
For the first time in a long time you feel air around your body, making you catch your breath. The sentinels walk forward across a gleaming strand of wide white sand. As your eyes adjust you look up and gasp. Carved in relief on the insides of the old volcanic neck are five massive figures each about 1500 feet high and carved with every detail. Five female figures, one from each race, each with their arms stretched above them towards that crater high rim, a porthole to the blue sky. A myriad of birds call and wheel high above you. The effect of the site on you is nothing less than awe. You notice that the others you are to be tested with are also crossing the strand, each with their gaze lifted towards the massive stone figures above. With a word from the sentinels you stop gawking and walk forward and before you know it you have reached the end of the white sands and stand before the circular rim of the Council Hall submerged below the water before you. Here the sentinels stop; and standing on either side of a stairway that descends into the water, they gesture to you to descend into the Council Hall.
Once again as you descend the stairs your feet seem drawn to the stone steps and your body does not float. As your eyes dip below the waterline you are greeted with the beauty of the Council Hall. A massive bowl of carved basalt, inlaid with pearl and silver of masterful design. Your steps hold to the stone below your feet that lead all the way to the base of the bowl. As you descend you pass the throne of your people to your left. In the throne sits the leader of your race who catches your eye for a moment before looking straight ahead once more. Looking to the other four staircases you see the aspirants from the other races descending their steps towards the bottom as well.
Soon you all stand together at the Council Hall’s base.
As instructed you stand to the left of your people carved stone throne. The intricate silver and pearl inlay in the thrones and the Council Basin cannot help but draw your eye. The basin is divided into five wedges and each wedge is inlayed with the unique designs and artwork of the people they represent. In the middle and bottom of the great basin stands a massive pearl swirled with white and black that seems to glow faintly with golden light deep within.
The sentinels who led you in step forward and remove your vestments leaving only the most basic covering on your body. As you rehearsed with your teachers, you turn, and stand before your leaders throne. Your leader takes a long and exquisitely crafted dirk from their lap and makes a cut along their palm drawing their blood in small cloud. You kneel, offering them your hands and your leader gently places the dirk in your palms.
You move to the side, standing to the left of the throne once again and notice that each of the leaders has cut their palm. Each of the leaders holds up their right palm showing the others the cut as the blood drifts lazily from their hands. In one synchronized motion each of them place their palms on a globe of crystal on the right arm of their throne. The blood is drawn into the globe and they begin to glow.
“We live and die as one today”, say your leaders in unison.
Lady Yusherak’s voice seems to echo in your mind, “Your testing has come. Each of you stands for a noble and proud people. Your have trained and worked diligently to become who you are today. Remember always that the Communion reminds us that when we don’t stand together, we fall together, and all that we have built will at the least be lost, and at worst corrupted to evil. Take your place before the Great Pearl.”