Then came the last days. The slow groan as the gears wound down. The air dull and heavy, a miasma hanging in the tired air.
The great plazas of Arkadia thrummed with nervous frenzy, tall Aetherlords and Harbingers pacing back and forth, idling as their masters gamed the Transmute terminals, sifted through their storage.
Across the airwaves messages spat and crackled. A Golden Tortoise discovered, another amazing find, another. All worthless now. Futile. Done.
Few ventured further in these darkening hours. The Spire hung high above, unclimbed. The endless incursions of the Trow continued unopposed. Somewhere, Imraphel maintained his deceptions, as yet undiscovered.
The Nexus grinds on, its long creep to Neruvia still a quarter-century away around the Spiral. No-one living now will see its end.
Tiska had her plans. She'd come far and, lately, fast. So many sunken corridors ticking with clockroaches, so many dusted library halls, thick with unread books, unquiet dead. So many killings.
From those desperate days in Denton, where it all began, fleeing the Mythspikes, her hapless family clinging to her coat-tails. Through the great stations of the Railhauler down to Refuge, where the airships hung like iron clouds against a ragged sky, loudspeakers blaring their incessant warnings and commands.
On through the mazes and labyrinths of The Mechanism. Out across the blighted plains of The Ironwaste, The Broken Stair. To Heartland Road then on again, Meluan's Gate, The Vault, Founder's Annex and, at last, The Gardenworks. End of the line.
Each new discovery brought danger, disappointment, deception and despair. Imraphel cajoled, flattered, darkened. Tiska performed miracles, made broken promises whole, met lost legends, long thought dead. Above all, she survived.
No more. It all ends here. Imraphel revealed at last in his shining lie. The Progenitor Fey, Paragon Child, Nexus' doom. This tale is told.
Somewhere, in another world, another Tiska travels on, farther up the Spire, towards an inevitable confrontation with her tainted mentor. That Tiska's story goes untold, unseen.
This Tiska rests. In Refuge once again, with her family, Frella, Frezyl, Fizzgig and Fnort, her travails ended.
There will be fireworks in Arkadia later, a final, futile fist shaken against fate, lighting up the skies one last, one very last time. Tiska won't be watching.
Her journey is over. She did her part. Everything she set out to achieve, she achieved. Nothing lasts forever and nothing ever lasts. We all follow The Spiral.
Farewell, City of Steam. Farewell Tiska. Sweet dreams through the long night.