It stood, towering over the Meriden skyline, a great slate-grey obelisk rising up into the sky, an infinite tower whose zenith could never be seen. Great chunks of stone orbited the university, drifting through the air, attaching themselves to the tower as others detached, the machinations of the building a mystery, and a buzz of excited students thronging around the tower’s base, toing and froing about their business. The Spire stood as the greatest example of arcane potential in the city and the continent — perhaps even the world over.
And it was dying.
Not quickly, and not noticeably. Imperceptibly. To an outsider, it looked healthier than ever. But Animus was plagued by visions of the future. Visions of a shattered tower, a city in flames, and a dark shadow over the world. He would not let it come to pass, but the harder he tried to fight it, the more the visions came.
He was the Abjurer. The Spire’s custodian, as generations of arcanists had been before him. Four hundred years ago, he was built as an infallible caretaker. Incorruptible. The first of the aetherforged. His legacy would not be one of failure. So he had vowed, and so he fought for, with every waking moment.
But the visions did not stop. Every step he took to investigate — Apocalypse. The Horsemen. Still they wracked his rest. Every night, he saw himself. Kneeling before a shattered tower, a city in flames.
And a dark shadow over the world.
The Seals were breaking. He knew that much. What Seals? How many? Could they be repaired? The Horsemen had been cryptic, damn them. How long did he have? He knew nothing. Except for what was at the centre of it all.
It hadn’t been clear at first. A dark shape in the distance, wreathed in flame and shrouded from his view. But as the nightmares progressed, he began to see. It was the key to the puzzle. What could save the Spire or damn it.