Stands a solitary candle, ah ah, ah ah
In the center of it all, in the center of it all
On the day of execution, on the day of execution
Only women kneel and smile, ah ah, ah ah
At the center of it all
The party awakes to find themselves imprisoned. Stripped of their belongings, some of them clad in irons, they peer through the bars of their cells to see an orc guard napping in a chair. The guard stirs in his sleep, but doesn’t awake, even to their protestations.
“It’s no use, I’m afraid.”
One minute the party hears just a voice out of nothingness, and then with the sound of a snapping of fingers he is there, The Man In White.
“He’s fallen quite permanently asleep. He won’t hear you, of that you can be certain.”
Before the party stands a tall and slender man. His clothing is regally adorned, brilliant, spotless, white as his gleaming perfect teeth. He’s smiling, but it’s not a comfort to behold. A specter of vanity and cold cunning, right before your eyes.
“He won’t hear anything. Ever again. Heh.”
The man removes a gleaming top hat and produces from within a long, sharp pin. Too long to have been inside his hat, it seems. He places the needle to the temple of the sleeping guard. As he removes his hands, the pin stays in place. With a gleeful twinkle in his eyes he rubs his hands together, takes a dancing step backwards, then spins around lightning quick. His open palm sends the pin through the orc’s skull with a snickkt and sinks with a soft thud into the door behind him. The orc falls from his chair, dead.
“Oh, I haven’t gotten any on me now, have I?” he asks, gingerly peeling open his coat and reaching inside for a handkerchief. He hasn't. Though there is blood aplenty on the ground he is still spotless, gleaming white. He dabs at his forehead anyways.
“Oh please don’t be impatient. I’m here for no-body else. I’m here for you. Each one of you," he pauses, counting the cells below his breath. "Oh, but you aren’t all here, are you? Tut-tut. Such a sad gang of nobodies. Just foggy recollections of who you were. Hehehehehehe.”
He snaps his fingers. A small cloth-wrapped bundle falls out of nowhere onto the floor in front of each of the prisoners.
“Well then, I’ll see you on the outside, heroes.”
Once more he snaps his fingers and is gone, leaving the party to formulate an escape plan.
The party, still weary of each other, reach an unspoken agreement to cooperate in order to find their way to safety. Using the implements found in the cloth packages given to them by The Man In White, they fight their way into the next room, discovering a mess hall for a group of kobolds.
The kobolds fall easily, even with the paltry equipment the party had been given, and the party sets their minds to escaping. After talking their way past a sinister and toadish cook, they open the last door in the room and proceed up a long dark stairway.
The stone sarcophagus grinds slowly back upon the altar and the party emerges from the stairway beneath. They find themselves in a grand cathedral, The Sanctum of the Seven. The light shining in columns from great stained glass windows is blinding at first, but as the party's eyes adjust, they stare at their surroundings in awe.
They stand in a great open hall. The vaulted ceiling, supported by six enormous pillars, disappears into darkness at dizzying heights above them. In the alcoves between the pillars are plinths, upon which stand six very strange sculptures.
It's the party. Each of them, carved seemingly from white marble, yet wearing familiar gear. As the party inspects these, they press their palms against gems set into the plinths and find their equipment transferred magically onto them.
He is suddenly at the altar, standing the hunk of stone carved to look like a sarcophagus. He wears a priest's stole and hat, and his arms are outstretched into a gleeful mockery of blessing.
"Seven heroes rode out. The best of the best, with the quest of quests set upon them. And they never returned, no. Had to be buried in effigy. Sculptures instead of caskets.
"How excited they'll be to find that you're all home again!" he laughs. "Heroes is what they’ll call you, the ones who don’t really know, the ones who live on the bard’s song and the gossip of housewives. Oh! Beyond those doors there will be parades, flower petals, statues of you in every house from here to the wastes. They already set down at night and pray with your names upon their lips."
He snaps his fingers, and is suddenly behind them, standing in the shadows of the cathedral near the great iron doors.
"And all the while, you’ll know what’s coming. Destruction. Death. Every last one of them.
“You were the best the world had to offer, weren’t you? Sent to be it’s final guardians at the hour of it's utmost need. But you didn’t save the world, did you? No, no, you sold it. Cheap." He bows his head and cackles with glee, a rictus smile on his face.
"And if they ever figure that out, they’ll rip you apart. Hehehehe!"
He pauses for a minute, twinkling eyes lost in the shadows of the great cathedral.
"See you soon, heroes."
Snap. And he is gone.