As he emerges from the portal there is, as always, the cold; the unnatural stillness of the air; and the featureless black of a dead sky. With a resolute jaw he hikes his sack over his shoulder, and sets out. There is no path marked, not even the telltale discoloring of many feet passing, but he is not concerned with losing his way. All of his kind know the path, without question or error. How could they not?
The walk takes as long as it takes. The Mercane know this increment intimately, and even use it as a measure of time amongst themselves: a hapilgrim. At the end there is an anvil, a well-worn hammer, and the Pit. There is also another figure, tall and blue and bedecked in fine silk robes. Niallpeneton—and Zilvazaarat is surprised to find himself relieved. He usually prefers to make the pilgrimage alone, only him and his thoughts in the somber silence. But he was held captive too long, and too many friends have passed beyond his knowledge in that time, for him to not feel some small comfort at a familiar face.
Neither of them speaks. No one ever does here. There is no law forbidding it, there would be no sanctions levied for breaking the taboo. But there isn’t a Mercane alive who wouldn’t resort to trading grain and livestock before uttering a word here—excepting, of course, the Obeisance.
Niallpeneton holds a wand in his hand. It is beautiful: dark wood with hair-thin lines of grain carving whirls and eddies across its surface; studded with tiny precious stones that shimmer even in the dead air of this place. Zilvazaarat bows to him, then sets his sack on the ground. He retrieves from it an axe, forged from a single block of steel and with a hilt wrapped in soft, blue leather. Tiny blue sparks play across its edge. Niallpeneton graciously waves Zilvazaarat forward.
Zilvazaarat places the axe upon the anvil and takes up the hammer. Its weight is as familiar to him as the weight of his own arm. He cannot count the number of times he has raised it, the times he has stood in this place, as he does now. And, as always, the words come to him as he raises it. The words that no Mercane need ever be taught. The only words, in the final reckoning, that ever matter.
“I commit these energies to the Slain Goddess, that with them She may find her candle back through the darkness into the Light of the Living. So that once more all the many worlds may quake at her footfalls, and at the coming of we, her faithful and her devoted.”
He brings the hammer down, and the axe shatters.