There are caves where Kings have crawled and Emperors have knelt to hear a fortune that is never wrong. Deep beneath the earth, in spaces choked with heat and fumes, there are said to be oracles. Chancellors of hidden thought who knot or unknot curses dealt by gods, unfold the futures branching paths and open secrets long since lost.
And in the fields of pitted boiling clay, where gouts of water burst in regular time from the grounds gaping wounds, there are said to be Lords, who rise up from the black earth and rule a while, delivering compulsions and revenge to those who come.
And philosophers will say the oracle is just a girl, in a mask, tripped out of her mind on fumes and faith and that the shaman in the boiling lands is just the totem of a savage tribe.
They are wrong.
In the pit in the earth is a fountain of water the colour of night. If you could taste it, it would taste of iron and lead and a thousand bitter poisons. Like the edge of a stained and ruined sword. You never will. This water burns. Hot enough to take your flesh off at a touch.
When they come for the future, or commands, if they come at the right time, the water rises up, it surges and falls back. Trembling and cringing like a frightened dog. Then it fountains in a boiling column.
In the geyser in the sacred ground, the same thing occurs. The water drops, then surges, shifts its colour and smell, then vomits in a torrent like a column of black glass. Poisoned steam curtains it and sinks in wreaths of toxic fog to curl about the feet.
Inside the boiling black water is the Geyser Lord. The Oracle Of the Vent.
A long torso, coiling like a flanged worm, white as melting snow or sugar in a drink. Slim black tentacle hands press against the surface of the flow. Its head, no face, no eyes, no mouth, a spray of tongues. Flat red extended ribbons coloured like the sides of bleeding meat. They wave gently in the boiling water, tasting the toxins that flow past. Listening to the vibrations of speech.
The deep-dwelling sorcerer worms live darkly at the oceans deepest points. Moving amongst the vents of fierce water, black smoke and crushed steam that come up from the planets core. They drift amongst dense forests of white worms, white crabs and strange bacterial growths, listening to the earth, thinking on its words, working their strange magic’s, in an place where few could ever go or would even think to look. Each rules one vent and there they usually remain, gazing down into the pit of poison and black fire that gave them life, musing on the strange deep politics of that even-deeper realm, and considering also, sometimes, the great cold desert of the outer word and the spare and starry reaches of the surface above the seas.
And sometimes, rarely, the reasons turn inside their minds, the taste of some unsuspected future meets their tongue, their attention shifts, and for reasons of their own, they seek to influence the outside world. Our world.
They can only survive for long inside the torrents of poisoned smoke that make up their homes, so they look for the rare veins and scabs of stone where the blood and breath of the deep comes forth. They cause the earth to flex and ride the hissing torrents till they stand suspended in boiling crepuscular thrones, and can speak, directly, with those here.
Dark and poisoned words torrent from them like the fumes of the earth. They speak the verse of magma flows and deep magnetic shifts prophecies of fire and stone. They bring wisdom from the dark, but sorrow too for they care little for the lives of men, or peace, or love, or gods, or life.
Their schemes are deep and long, directed at the eternal or those deep in time. There are vendettas from the beginning of the world, and from its end. The lives of human kingdoms, or cultures, can be little more than the turn of a card in one of these great games.
The futures of the Geyser Lords are always right, black, violent, seductive and harsh. They speak of war, of empire and of heroes deeds. Of horror also. Those who listen well will know glory and death, those who listen not, and seek to break the geysers word will know death only, at the hands of those who do.
Only the destruction of the Geyser Lord itself can stop its prophecy coming true.
They must be paid. Sometimes in sulphur and gold, cast into the water when they rise, but any payment can be demanded.
Some Geyser Lords bend your fate to escape their own. They seek to become the Fumarole Lich, and fearless of the cold, move directly from their world into our own. Out of the fountain, into the light. It would be incredibly dangerous if any were to achieve this.