Legends: Volume 4: Age of Chaos
Written by Dritz
Every sunrise, everyday, I am reborn, more powerful then ever. I have killed, pillaged and rained chaos upon the masses and I enjoyed every minute of it. My heart remains black and tainted and memories of these moments still fill me with pride. Through my trials I have emerged unscathed and more powerful then the gods my father hated so much. Now here I stand a member of the face less masses, a symbol for good. The journey to reach this point has become legend and now I have come to share it with you.
I thought about my last statement a bit. Did I really believe I was capable of assuring her safety? After all I had already failed to save my father.
'Well I have no more questions,' mumbled Tuak; obviously annoyed that we weren't paying attention to him. 'I think we should get some sleep, tomorrow's a big day and I have to begin work on crafting the portal.'
We slowly left the room and I looked back towards Umbria who seemed to be struggling with something in her mind. I held the door open for her and as she passed by gently I whispered, 'I will protect you.'
The wind howled viciously outside. No matter how hard I tried, I could not fall asleep; so I laid there motionlessly listening to the lonely sound of rain beating on the rooftop. It truly was a strange position I found myself in. I had no idea were I was, for all I knew I could have been thousands of miles away from earth and what I was hearing was not rain at all. I tried not to think about it. After several hours of tossing and turning I made my way out of the room.
The floorboards creaked as I walked along, magical sparks lightly exploded from cracks in the floor. Despite the massive size and complexity of the place I managed to keep my mind focused and push away fears of being lost forever.
Ahead of me I saw a flash of light then darkness, complete and utter darkness. Only the sparkle of pure magic protruding from the floorboards lit the hallway. After another flash of light, streaks of flames swirled around me in blinding patterns untraceable by even the keenest eye. I had never seen anything like it.
All at once the darkness faded with a strike of lightning. I looked around the hallway and realized it had changed, not a major change but there was a slight variation in the cracks along the walls and floor. I struggled to keep myself calm and tried to look for anything that might have led me back to my room. I quickly gave up and ventured further into the hallways.
Turning a corner I noticed a small glimmer of white light coming from an open doorway. Casting away all fears of what might be in the room, I risked peering into its depths. In the room I saw Umbria sleeping peacefully without a care in the world. I opened the door just a small bit more and quickly stepped back hoping she hadn't sensed my presence. However she still remained there sleeping, dreaming the dreams of a care free dreamer. A deep feeling of sorrow buried itself in my heart as I realized that I would have to break her peace by bringing her into this hopeless war.
She had already seen so much horror and I could only imagine her relief that it was all in her past. I was lucky; I had not seen the death and destruction the Apocalypse Wars rained down upon the earth. I could only hear of the fury the gods released upon the masses in their hopeless crusade for power.
I had been brought up to remember the wars and to keep them in mind at all time. But lately I have been forgetting about them just when I needed to be reminded the most. This war between the gods and immortals, surely it could only serve to bring death to countless innocents. Did I even care? No I still remained heartless remembering what had happened to my father and what he died for. If I were to avenge him I had to win and cast the gods down from the pinnacle the people of the world raised them up to.
To win the war, I had to save my brother and revive the Dark Army. It was the only way; but I still struggled with my feelings as to whether it was worth risking her life for. I remembered my words promising to protect her and questioned whether I could ever truly live up to that promise. I tried to reassure myself by thinking she would merely heal Malchan and return back to the safety of these corridors.
Gently she rolled over onto her side facing me and her hair flowed behind her never straying from its perfect arrangement. I sighed, getting lost in her pure magnificence; I dared to look closer and noticed a smile graze her beautiful face. Slowly she questioned, 'how long are you going to stand there?'
I was shocked at her calmness; here I was standing there gawking for the past five minutes. 'I was just wandering down the hallways and noticed your door was open.'
She stifled a small giggle and responded, 'it is okay, my first night here I could not resist wandering around either. However it is kind of interesting that you choose to merely stand there when you came across my room.'
I couldn't believe her forwardness, she couldn't have meant what I thought she meant. All I managed to say was, 'I was just um.'
Confused by my response she got up and shook her head. Slowly she asked, 'why didn't you wake me up? I mean if you found me here why wouldn't you just wake me up and ask for directions back to your room?'
'Well I didn't think you would appreciate being woken up, you seemed so peaceful.' Although it was only a half truth I seemed to feel better getting it off my chest.
'Things aren't always as they appear, Ekera. The only dreams I have are nightmares and dreams of sleeping without nightmares...' A small tear ran down her cheek, 'every night I dream of my other half, Skadi. I saw Eleusis kill him myself but still I live in fear of joining Skadi again and becoming what I once was. We were a monster no better than Mantalister or Omega. For millenniums we wandered the world in search of power and our place in the Celestial Gardens. We participated in the Apocalypse Wars for our own self indulgence, not even caring about the thousands who scarified their lives to stop us.'
'That was along time ago, you have changed and Skadi can not get to you now. Even if he were still a threat to you, I would cast him away if only to please you.'
'I thank you for your kind words Ekera but your pledge to defend me falls on deaf ears. You symbolize all that I have grown to hate. I feel the darkness in your heart and forgive you for it but that does not mean I want to trust you.'
To say the least I was taken back by her harsh words and yet I accepted them. 'I suppose you have every reason to hate me and what I stand for but that does not make me any less able to keep you from harm. If you believe I do not posses the strength or wisdom to guide you through this time then you can stay here and live in hiding. Since I met you I have felt, your safety was in my hands and my hands alone. Perhaps that is a bit pretentious but it's merely what I feel.'
'You can not protect me forever brave warrior, eventually my past will catch up to me and there is nothing you can do to stop it.'
'There must be something I can do.' I said hopelessly, the thought of not being there for her tore away at my soul. I knew that if I tried she would be safe in my arms and I would succeed were I failed in saving my father.
'Only if you do not fight in this foolish war...'
'You know I can't do that.' Even as the words left my mouth I knew that she was fully aware of the circumstances.
'Then there is nothing you can do.' A few more tears escaped down her face and I regretted ever coming to find her. If I knew how deeply I would hurt her then I never would have come for her. Then something happened, something so stupid, so crazy, that it could have never happened any other way.
She turned her head away from me shielding my eyes from the weakness her tears exposed. Gently I touched her arm turning her once again towards me. For the first time her hair seemed imperfect blocking my view of her eyes and she seemed inexplicably human. I carefully moved the few strands of hair from her face and in unison we moved towards each other into a kiss.
Only moments after it happened we both pulled away in pure amazement of what just transpired. It was unexplainable what we both were feeling. Her godly exterior betrayed her and by staring into her eyes I could feel her emotions. She was scared, scared of what this might mean. All her life she lived in fear of people like me but now I could see her trust in me being restored.
'I- I better show you to your room,' was all she managed to say. I wanted to say something more to possibly give some evidence of what occurred actually happened. Of course I wanted to say something but all I could do was nod my head and follow her obediently. I felt foolish having her lead me through the hallways like a lost dog, how was I to protect her when I didn't even know where I was?
I woke up the next morning feeling surprisingly refreshed but still the horror of knowing I merely had two days to save Malchan crept over me. I was afraid of what Umbria may have thought about our past encounter and hoped that she would still come with us.
My mind once again was beckoned back towards thoughts of my brother's pain. I could merely imagine his suffering at this point as he could have only become worse after I left him. Carefully I considered my true motives in saving him. We had never been what any normal person would call brothers and I felt no emotional connection to him whatsoever. Even faced by these undeniable facts, I still realized that somewhere in my blackened heart his safety was more important to me than the war itself.
Of course if ever questioned on my allegiances I would thusly claim that my involvement in helping him was purely for the god of my people. Yes my people, those who have stood aside all these years watching the gods tear away at my father's mind, they who never resisted the plants and merely gave in. Yes they who were unwilling to fight for the sun, those are the people I have sworn to protect.
And what of my own vendetta? What was it again? Faintly I remembered that I had vowed vengeance for my father's death. I also remembered something else, the soldier's face before I laid waste to his life. How easily I ended his life but now I must live to regret that choice and struggle to understand it. Did I truly hope to extract revenge by lying to rest the evils of the world in order to create my own vision of a perfect world?
Now I have taken on the task of protecting my people. To do this I must forget about my goals and concentrate on avoiding extinction. I knew that my journey to end the war would be a complex one and I would learn much more of this world I have grown to despise. Perhaps through this I could better understand its many inhabitants so that I may evolve my perception of them and thus change my view of where their fate lies.
To say that I vanquished any thoughts of obtaining peace through death and destruction would be a lie. However as I learned in the desert I would have to pick my battles and from those choices I would come one step closer to peace. It is a fool's dream to think that true peace can be gained through compromises. Still I retain part of my mind untouched by the evil tendencies of the plants and I believe that diplomacy as well as war is necessary in the quest for peace.
Enough thoughts of peace, I told myself. Now I was in a war, a war to end all wars, one that would decide the fate of an entire race. My mind traveled back to Umbria and I thought of her horrible experiences. Did I even truly know what a war was? All I have ever seen was the aftermath; death, destruction, poverty and famine, all horrible things but could they truly compare to war itself?
I approached Tuak deciding that the best thing I could do now was help my brother. He seemed to be in deep concentration when I came to his room or should I say lead to his room. I don't know what force took me there but I assumed it was the same one that brought me to Umbria the night before. Something about this place probes deep into my thoughts and knows exactly where I want to go. A pleasant convenience to say the least in this complex matrix of weaving hallways.
Tuak did not even appear to notice my presence. He sat there motionless, concentrated on the growing blue mass before him. It was not at all what I would expect a portal to look like. Streaks of blue light hurled themselves at the walls leaving behind red gashes in the wood. None of the light dared go past Tuak's undaunted figure. I noticed a few signature swirls typical of what I believed a portal should look like.
'You wanted to know how it works?' Tuak questioned, not moving an inch from his deep concentration. Unlike the night before he seemed to have more of a purpose and was no longer a crazy old faun. He was the faun representative, master of portals and master of all places between dimensions.
Taken back by his question it took me a few minutes to respond with a meek, 'yes'. I had never really thought of all the effort that goes through making a portal. For some reason I had a vision of someone opening portals in mere seconds at will.
'It only goes fast for short distances,' Tuak responded, to my unasked question, 'the longer the distance the more concentration it takes to create. Every place and every location has a door within this domain. I must concentrate my energy on your destinations specific door to release its unique energy patterns. The energy then must pass through who knows how many dimensions to my location and then I must form it into a portal. Along the way it picks up additional energy and some is lost.
Your immortal eyes may notice the different shades of blue energy here right now. Each shade symbolizes a specific place and I must prevent them from mixing with the energy I need to make a portal.'
'That's amazing,' I managed to stutter, all of a sudden not all that interested in the logistics of making a portal. As long as it worked was all I was concerned with.
I decided that I had to see Umbria again to make sure she was alright with coming with me. Despite her importance in helping Malchan I genuinely did not want to bring her with me if she did not want to come.
Using my instincts I felt my way through the hallways inevitably arriving at her door. I was horrified that this place was actually starting to make sense to me. Uneasily I opened the door to see Umbria sitting on her bed alone.
She seemed to be in deep concentration, unaware of my presence. I decided against going any further fearing that I had already pushed her away and that another slight nudge may make up her mind about me forever.
I turned to exit ready to turn my back on her forever if need be. Silently she called out to me and beckoned that I stay, 'please don't leave.'
'If that is what you wish,' I conceded fearing what she had to say.
Cautiously she stood up and a bit uneasily approached me. With her gentle hands she pushed my hair away from my eyes and gazed deep into whatever soul I had left. As if overwhelmed by what she saw her gaze darted away from my face.
Not knowing what could have possibly startled her I could only stand and stare as she trembled. My lips seemed drier then a desert and as I dared to speak I could feel pain in my throat with every word. 'What do you see,' I stuttered.
'I see fire in your eyes, and I fear that no matter how much I care, I can never quench those flames.'
Tears flooded her eyes and I knew all I could do was walk away. She didn't want my help nor was I in any position to offer it. I was the reason she felt such pain. Pain that could only be caused by a love so great it overcomes the very basis of your beliefs. A pain I was incapable of feeling as I was never bound by my beliefs, I felt as though I could never know what it would be like to choose between standing up for what you truly believe in or love.
I looked up at the mass of blue light before me swirling endlessly into the void it was creating and without fear began to approach it, beside me stood Umbria, Asenka and Silkho. Asenka looked at the energy before him puzzlingly trying with all his brainpower to understand the delicate complexities of it. I could only think of him as a helpless human struggling to understand that which he was never even meant to see.
Although I tried to remain strong I couldn't help but look into her eyes. As I did I felt a gentle hand clench to my own but it was not Umbria's, as I had hoped. To my surprise I looked over to Silkho and saw her trying to hide her fear. I realized that beneath her rough exterior that she was not fully aware of what was happening around her the past few days. Before we had met she knew exactly what she wanted and now she had joined a group with her sworn enemy, Umbria.
Finally we stood at the entrance to the portal. Tuak watched closely as I took my first step into the portal. Suddenly I was engulfed by the portal's energy, the blue bolts of lightning seared through my armor. Before embarking on this journey Tuak warned me of the negative energy within the gateway and assured me that as long as I kept a clear mind of my destination, it would not harm me.
Suddenly the bolts slowed and between streaks of blue light, I could see windows. The windows not only presented a view of one place but also seemed to show worlds overlapped upon each other. A peaceful temple could be seen and slowly it transformed and mutated into the depths of a dungeon. Another bolt of light struck me but this time I felt no pain and realized it had went straight through my heart.
I dared to look into another window where I saw Eleusis and my father. He ruthlessly flung himself in a furious rage towards Eleusis but the valiant young Anesia dodged the attack effortlessly. Every move my father made was calculated several steps ahead by Eleusis. He was obviously overwhelmed with rage and could not put up any sort of offense or defense against the Anesia.
Eleusis found an opportunity to attack but miraculously Hachan was able to dodge the lunge. Finally he was able to put up a fight but something was different about him he seemed to have lost his majestic fighting style. His movements seemed more bound by the physical world, Eleusis's movements however seemingly faded in and out of reality his blade remained steady even as it beat relentlessly upon my father's.
I saw for the first time my father sweat and then looked on horrified as I saw him bleed as Eleusis cut deep into his armor and thus piercing his skin. The wound was on his left arm and it took its toll upon him. He became even sloppier in his movements and in a few seconds stepped away from Eleusis with fresh injuries. Another attack dealt a serious gash to my father's leg and he fell to his knees.
At that moment I could hear what they were saying, 'No this can't be... I've worked so hard, I've come so far, how can you beat me?' my father questioned frustratingly
'I'm sorry it has to end this way Hachan but even now I can feel myself fading away. Give yourself up and the sun shall finally rise.'
'I am sorry but my pride forbids me to just give up,' laughed Hachan, 'no matter what lengths I must go to, I will win!'
Hachan quickly reached for his dagger and made an attempt to drive it deep into Eleusis. Sensing his movements Eleusis gripped his sword and with a twist of his wrist, drove the blade deep into my father's torso.
I found myself shouting in rage trying to somehow reach their ears. However I knew they could not hear me and all I could do was listen to my father's last words 'Well it seems that you have won. I see now that it was I who was destined to fall, I should have seen this coming. You have a strong heart Eleusis, I once had such strength. However over time I have lost my way and can only hope that you can deliver the world into true salvation from what is next to befall it.' With that he closed his eyes one last time.
Tears rolled down my face as I tried to sort out what I had just witnessed. Eleusis had one fairly, one of them was going to die and Eleusis was able to show he was the more skillful. Even though I knew he had to, I still hated him. For what he did to my family he would one day pay.
I stepped out of the void into the real world once again. Silkho was still holding my hand and it had seemed as no time had pasted. I took a moment to observe my surroundings and was horrified by what I saw. First I though somehow we had arrived in some war torn kingdom not the peaceful land of Trantam.
Several buildings lay devastated upon the cracked ground. Those buildings that stood were incinerated beyond recognition. Rain steadily fell upon the wasted landscape. Even in the middle of the day not a single ray of light touched this now forsaken kingdom.
Umbria couldn't help but cry from the horror. She had thought, she was finally safe from such devastation but I had brought her back to the harsh realities of the world. I could only feel remorse for what I had done to her. Trembling she spoke to me.
'What has happened here? How could any being possibly have the right to do such a thing? I have not seen the likes of this since the Apocalypse Wars. Ekera I fear the war is no longer approaching,' she paused, 'it is here.'
'So the next age has arrived,' stuttered Asenka, 'I have only read of catastrophes such as this. I have been to many places some plagued by never ending war. Never have I seen this kind of destruction, no mortal power could rain down such pain and chaos.'
'I know' but there is still a chance, if my brother is still alive we can still win.' I could tell my words were not comforting my companions and Umbria obviously felt that even I was powerless in this new age of chaos. Once again Silkho surprised me by siding with me.
'Please we must have faith in Ekera,' she exclaimed, 'you two may want to give up on this world but I don't, all my life I have only known of peace. Although I can't be granted that convenience anymore I want to do my part in assuring future generations don't have to live in a world of ruin.'
'Thank you for your commitment Silkho but Asenka may be right.'
'Don't talk like that it is not over until the last drop of blood is shed. We have can still win this and not have to risk the lives of millions.'
'You're' you're right,' stumbled Umbria, 'I have given up my faith to soon. Despite what Ekera stands for I can not help but believe in his power and I believe in time he too can learn to love this world.'
I was not sure about that last part as I still harbored some resentment towards the world but I no longer believed I had to bring such destruction to the people of the world to bring peace. Umbria and Asenka both believed the world could find peace without blood shed. They could never understand that you can not just wait for something like this to happen before reacting. That's no way to live' you do not live in a peaceful world merely by the absence of war if the threat is always there.
However I held my tongue on what I believed and we continued on through the wreckage. Across the cracked earth lay countless victims of the god's wrath. The damage reminded me of the soldiers I had saw lying dead in the fields when I was first approaching this once peaceful city. All of the people laying before me once lived peaceful lives without any real worries. They had led their lives as they chose but in a mere instance were wiped out. Family, friends, wealth, none of it mattered any more.
We approached what I had thought to be the dwarf representatives dwelling but even it was burnt beyond recognition but at least it was still standing. Ducking into the doorway I saw glass strewn about the floor along with broken tables and chairs. I entered the room where my brother had been resting and saw the dwarf representative lying on the ground. Quickly I assumed the worst but noticed his chest was slowly expanding and contracting.
I kneeled down and held his head up trying to survey the damage. His face was cut up pretty badly from glass shrapnel. One of his legs was trapped under a board which had fallen from the roof. He tried to speak to me but even though his lips moved no words came out only a gurgling sound.
Carefully I lifted the board from his shattered leg and motioned for Asenka to heal him. He nodded in agreement and held out his hands towards the dwarf. They began to radiate a purple light which slowly approached the dwarf and began to swirl around his broken body. As the light faded the representative gasped for air and slowly raised from what he had believed to be his death bed.
'It was horrible,' he rambled, 'such death and destruction all in mere moments. With a swoop of his hand he laid waste to thousands of souls. Worst of all I' I' I was powerless to stop it.'
'Calm down, what happened, who did this?' I questioned.
'It was Omega he is the one responsible for this atrocity. He head rumors of your presence here and didn't even bother to look for you, all he did was rain fire upon us.'
'So he didn't come here.'
'No luckily through his ignorance he believed his attack would wipe out Malchan and yourself. However I managed to protect this place what little magical ability I have, but as you can see it was not enough. Malchan should be alright though but even before the attack he was not looking too good.'
I looked uneasily towards Umbria knowing that the world's fate rested in her hands. She knew what would happen if Malchan was healed; the dark army would be summoned and battle the gods themselves. She knew that the ensuing war would leave the world in ruin. And she knew that it was the only way.
Silently she approached Malchan's bedside and looked into his the vast darkness of his eyes. My brother was not pure that much I knew but I wondered if in those eyes Umbria could see something more sinister then I ever could. In the end the need for his powers overcame her rational judgment and she began to chant a spell.
The power emitted by her was very different from that of Asenka and even Tuak. Unlike them she possessed the power of majik and it did not have defining color like theirs. Although it could not be seen the whole rooms seemed to pulsate with it and Malchan was absorbing an amazing amount of it.
A cold wind suddenly passed through the room caressing every inch of my being. I wondered if this had something to do with Umbria's incantation. However those thoughts were dismissed as I felt my body being torn apart by it. Looking around in a haze I tried to determine whether the others were being affected as well. They all appeared to be captivated by Umbria's majik and did not seem to notice the change.
After that everything all seemed to happen at once. A flash of majikal light enshrouded Malchan and filled the room. A crack of lightning was heard, the dwarf's small dwelling tore itself apart and a raging inferno engulfed were it once stood. All I could do was stand there in utter bewilderment. The flames shortened my field a view and I could no longer see the others.
I looked back towards were I thought the others were but all I could do was watch in horror as the flames parted making way for a figure of pure godly energy. The figure was immediately recognizable even through my hazed vision created by the heat. It was Omega, god of planets and judge of souls.
His voice radiated through my mind and the mere sound of it threatened to tear apart my very soul. Being the god of planets he was responsible for all life including immortals and he could destroy weak minded people merely by thinking it. Although I was not confident in my ability to withstand his raw power, I tried none the less. I knew that even a god as powerful as him was being controlled by the plants and that his power would have been restricted by them but by how much I did not know.
'Ekera,' he seemed to spit out my name as if it meant nothing, 'the renegade immortal I have found you at last. You have caused more trouble then you are worth and I have come to pass judgment on your worthless life.'
'Hah!' I laughed knowing what this meant, 'so you have spent all your time looking for this worthless soul? The almighty Omega could not even find one person. I suppose I misjudged the plants effects on your mind or perhaps you are just not as powerful as I was led to believe.'
'You immortals still think your knowledge is superior to the gods? Although you are more familiar with the minds of this world, you forget that our power is fueled by their beliefs. We have known for quite sometime about the plants effects. With this knowledge we have been able to fight them well you pitifully fall under their influences and encourage their illusions. The fact is that your' race,' he seemingly choked on the word, 'is an abomination and a threat to our power. I never understood what led to your creation but it is clear to me that your people serve no purpose.'
'So you attend to lay siege to the entire world in order to rid it of us?'
'It is much bigger then that, this world has fallen into a state of disrepair. The people are losing their faith and becoming enchanted by the romance and legends this world offers. We will ensure all that is beautiful withers, and the world falls into an age of chaos. After that a new era will begin were belief will offer salvation to the world and there is nothing you can to do to stop it.'