The shaman surveyed the city that would be his home for the coming years. The brown walls contrasted the eternally-gray skies. But the people were to be commended for eking out an existence on the unforgiving environment. A few tapestries attempted to contribute color, but were washed out by the mud. Mud covered everything, even the adobe walls. It was a keen irony that the rains which brought cleanliness also churned the filth, if it was possible to clean this city at all. Near as the shaman could tell, much of the mud was caked on.
No one ventured outside to greet him. The guards had allowed him in with only a cursory examination and no token interest. They were too preoccupied with the Plague to be concerned with a madman who would willingly enter pestilence. The minds within cried with despair and stubborn determination. The will to live was strong here. Good. Only those with the will survived. Only those who survived were worth his labors.
It had not always been like this. It was said, long ago, Man lived in ivory tours and used unholy sciences to cheat death by decades. But such sciences had also brought about their destruction, like a two-edged sword. If that was even true. The shaman had seen the artifacts with his own eyes, objects kept locked away in the Brotherhood’s monasteries that served as reminders of man’s hubris. It was true that they were strange objects which defied description, but that by no means meant that mankind had dabbled in dark forces. Perhaps it was true, but like all legends, time had bloated the stories into myth. Societies and empires rose and fell. The macrocosm meant little to the immediacy of the present.
What mattered was the job at hand. He would allow the secret sects of the Brotherhood to concern themselves with the ebb and flow of human progress; the shaman was a more pragmatic man. Channeling his concentration into his staff, he filled it with healing illumination from his own soul, and walked forth.