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Once Upon a Future king (Contest)

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Post by The Nightmare May 16th 2023, 6:49 pm

Once upon a time…

  That’s how these things always start, isn’t it? Once upon a time there was a young boy, son of a king, abandoned and left to rot. Once upon a time there was a young boy, son of a scorned academic, that held to his tomes and searched for the secrets of a world beyond as his peers laughed and ridiculed him. How should I start this story of mine as Robin Aurelius, or as Vorvadoss?

  Sitting in quiet contemplation the small creature closed its eyes and leaned back into the throne it occupied. Strange plate armor rising and falling ever so slowly with the vestigial breaths the creature took. It never wore a helm, it never saw the need. Instead the armor started with a scratched and tarnished silver gorget to protect its throat, the beautiful runic markings and embellishments had been lost to the eons long before the current owner even donned the armor. Torn white fabric, frayed and worn wrapped around the armor like an old blanket that had seen its fair share of swords. The fabric added a worn and old charm, giving an almost clerical appearance to the armor, like a being once sworn before the gods of light. Warped pauldrons rest upon the creature’s shoulders, once immaculate draconic heads reaching out long eroded to nothing more than misshapen mounds and featureless grooves, better suited for a three-dimensional topographic map.

 “An outrage! To think thee besmirch mine own throne! Remove thyself at once!” A voice rang out from a face as red as blush. The anger, the indignation in the voice was almost intoxicating. To think that this portly, balding human once sat upon the throne and called himself the king. Feasting while the others beyond the doors suffered from famine. Now he was stuck here, in what had once been his throne room, on his knees with his hands bound in chains. There was a sudden whine that rang out, the sound of armor shifting and clacking suddenly as sudden movement was spurred. But the creature in the chair hadn’t moved.

 “Woah-ho-ho! Nah hold on, I got this.” A voice said, a small bit of laughter, a joy and enthusiasm. This joy was but a blanket, like a gentle snow that sat upon their true intentions., The insatiable hunger for a challenge, the unerring desire to amicably bend this situations to serving an even greater purpose, as an author wrote a story so too would this man weave a wonderful conclusion for a precarious situation. The creature in the throne let out a small snort, trying to hold back the chuckle that formed behind its flat affect.

  This one, was Lennan. A traditional bard if there’d ever been one. A man so passionate, so flamboyant that his very soul shined bright enough to eclipse the moon. He shifted the beautiful emerald cloak, the velvet texture inspiring the sensation upon the skin, while the sound of his voice.  Fearless and even foolishly so he sauntered over and took a knee beside the bound man.  Flashing a kind smile and with a soft empathetic tone he spoke to the bound king. “C’mon. We’re trying to be friendly here. You don’t need to insult a fellow king like that, right?”

 ”I am the king! Not this trash wearing usurper!” His rage wasn’t quelled at all, his hatred burned through him. His face was a bright red, the blood coursing through his veins in a rush. He was barely taking breath in with the way he seethed. But even as he began to babble, to writhe in his anger, succumbing to hatred, the creature sitting upon the throne spoke, and with his words came an unusual gravity. The type of gravity that grounds the races of men to their lands, the type of gravity that made it difficult to dream in the face of reality.

 ”A king should be…immaculate.” The creature sighed, the breath leaving its form with a wistful sigh. When it spoke, almost every other noise fell silent, even the commotion from outside the walls. It shifted in the throne, turning to face the bound man and his kneeling emissary, revealing the entirety of its form. The creature wore an old, ancient armor, worn and tempered first by the forge, and then the tests of time. The breastplate was partially beneath the grey-white cloth, which was worn like an old haori. Its plated arms and the plated couter remained exposed to the eyes and their vambraces were chipped, fragmented even with the evidence of ancient wars. It wore these worse, these periods of time upon itself, like the way a mortal would wear a scar. A sense of pride radiated from the armor itself, commanding attention, even as small bits of shame were exposed within the cracks. The gauntlets were perfectly fitted though the tips came to a curl, leaving the impression of the claws one might find on a wolf, the worlds that this creature had reached out and touched. A hand to shake and bring peace, a claw to rend flesh and overpower foes and get their knees to bend. Those that would not be turned into the compost and their bones into the concrete on which they
would build an empire upon.

   The cuisses had the least damage, one could still make out the intricate engravings and patterns. Several veins reached and wrapped along the plate like a writhing mass of life-carrying vessels, such a concerning notion until one investigated closer. What appeared to be a vascular system was actually nothing but branches reaching up and wrapping around the entirety of the lower armor, even going to the chestplate. This beautiful tree bore a large serpent wrapped and woven through the branches, hanging, watching and waiting. The poleyn that defended his knee appeared to be decorated to be a wolf head staring down whatever lay ahead, though layered just above this was the small outline of a squirrel-like rodent seeming to overlap and blend in with the wolfish appearance, much akin to the way that the sun and the moon were brought together in art. The greaves themselves looked to be like roots of silver that reached down to the metal boots.

 ”Do you know the problem with being immaculate?” This creature asked. Lennan smiled, the armored bodyguard turned their gaze upon the creature which now stood from the throne. Interests were piqued, but as the sun beamed through the stained class, it was the creature’s shadow which now enveloped the bound king. The creature took a step, squaring himself with the one he had removed from the throne.

  There was a silence, the portly man with the crown on his head could not bring himself to speak when the creature had addressed him. There was a primal fear, something that caught his tongue halfway in his throat. He wanted to answer, he wanted to continue to criticize and humiliate this would-be usurper. Though even now the reality of the situation began to kick in. The creature that had claimed the throne would keep talking, its face hidden beneath the white hood that clung to its head wears. The creature looked upon the throne room, the bodies of knights that had attempted to engage its warden lay unconscious or killed. Pieces of their bodies absconding from them and painting the walls, scattered all over.

 ”It’s entirely subjective. In all of its meanings, there is no objective truth. To be clean, and tidy? To be without flaw, or imperfection? To be without sin?” The creature’s words were interrupted by a small head which popped up from where the creature had sat. Large ears flapping as a small beast began to shake its head abruptly, little yips ringing out as it realized that its master had left it in the seat. No larger than that of a small dog the beast stood up from the throne, where it had been napping beside its master, and began to look around with curious eyes. The small beast had the head of a silver furred fox with glowing cyan colored eyes, the same color as moonlight dancing upon the magic waters of Lucrecia.

   The beast was born onto four limbs sprouting from its lithe feathered torso blended perfectly into shaggy flowing fur as it began twisting its head into an unnatural position to look around. Its back feet resembled that of avian talons. Matching to the feathers a brilliant pair of matching silver wings that sprawled from its shoulder blades. The feathers themselves changed colors as they plumed out as the colors of blue, black and purple coalesced. To look upon the feathers was to grant one a glimpse into the cosmos itself, watching ancient stars and far off worlds dance throughout the vast and infinite void. The clawed feet carefully gripped onto the throne as it stood, its forearms appearing to be more like that akin to humans in nature, though possessing fennec traits in some prominence. The process of evolving the thumb had started within the beast’s species. The oddly furred human arms made for a slightly discomforting visage, especially as its almost human fingers had small pads found on the feet of animals.  

  ”C’mere Midnite.” Lennan called, letting a small whistle come from his mouth. The beast, Midnite, looked to its master, as if searching for protest or permission. The lack of response resulted in the creature letting out a small yip and then wiggling its large feathered tail and pushed off of its master and shot into the air. The sunlight seemed to shimmer off of the silver beast’s hide as silver fire erupted into the air as the creature’s fur and feathers. It’s fur and color traded from a regal and beautiful argent silver to the darkest black of the midnight sky. Much like a chameleon the creature’s color shifted depending upon its exposure to light and shadows, though such a brilliant and elegant display was cut short as it landed with its lower claws onto the young man’s cloak, its foremost limbs reaching up to gain a partial hold on the man’s cloak, letting its small foxlike face rest on his shoulder, peeking over and observing the bound mortal man. The dethroned king couldn’t place it, but there was something more to this beast’s eyes. The way it watched, the way it knew exactly what to look at, the way it sized him up… there was something deeply discomforting about the intelligence of the foreign beast. Though his attention was pulled back to the creature that he had declared to be his trash-wearing nemesis.

 ”I suppose what I mean to say is that, I see no stains on my clothes. They are torn, worn and true…but they are neat. Yours have the remnants of the eve’s dinner upon them. You can buy your problems away, but you’ll forever ruin what you touch. Am I without flaws? My armor is scuffed, it’s tried and true, a testimony that there are no flaws within it, not while I wear it. You’re one-hundred and thirty-six kilograms at a hundred and seventy centimeters, your heart is very flawed…” The creature was not overly tall, but the way it walked, the way it moved with such purpose was almost mechanical. There was this dissociation between the way it moved and the noise one heard, the dethroned king could swear that the creature walked to the very beat of his own heart. Finally, a few steps down the slight platform the throne had sat upon, and now the creature was looming, looking down at the kneeling man.

  ”Sin? Now that’s a tricky one. A sin to one is a virtue to another…but you see, no matter what gods you pick, you are not without sin. One can always condemn you, the gods can always judge you. But me? Well in order to judge something, it has to be beneath you” ”I see no gods ready nor leaping to judge me. That’s because you can only judge that which is beneath you…” The implication was clear, and the creature made its point. The man’s claim to divine rite was crushed, and ultimately the creature had a moment of reflection.

  ”Hey-uh. Not to interrupt your uh, “education” here but, what am I gonna tell these people? We expecting a body or are we expecting a peaceful transition?” Lennan asked and there was no attempt to disguise the sense of urgency he had. The creature turned to Lennan and then returned his gaze to the dethroned ruler.

  “Our friend was about to answer that very question...” The creature said, its voice flat and lacking any form of compassion or empathy, the automatic and almost impersonal approach only added to the growing dissonance that was perceived. The portly once-king began to look around, as if hoping and praying for some kind of intervention. It took only a moment more before he yielded, lowering his head slightly. The defeated once-king lowered his head, realizing that there would be no heroes, there would be no grand rescue party. ”Lennan, ensure this gentleman and his family are escorted to one of the royal vacation homes. Their choice. Provide him with staff adequate to run the estate and ensure he and his family are supplied for.”

  The creature said as it turned, gracefully walking away. The man could swear that as the creature moved there was a mist that was left in its wake, as if the creature had been made of ice and was continually evaporating at a slow rate. Lennan gave a little sigh as he looked over the man. It was going to be too much work to keep the former king alive. He smiled at the king with a friendly smile. The bodyguard looked to Lennan and crossed his arms.

   ”Well handled, Emissary. You spoke and immediately made him aggressive to our King.” the bodyguard said, their voice spoke as if there were many beings speaking all at once, though the curiosity it bore could be patently heard in all of them.

 “Yeah, I know. I was so close too, I was TRYING to instigate him and get him to slip up and get killed… but i guess another slave-owning tyrant gets to experience our King’s mercy.” Lennan said, stating his true intentions. The Bodyguard crossed their arms, unimpressed with Lennan’s antics, though it was only reciprocated by Lennan offered a youthful and almost innocent smile.  He would need to carry out the creature’s will.  It wouldn’t take long, however first and foremost he had a job already pending. It was his job to announce the transfer of power. He put on a wide smile; he always loved this part of the job. To write the stories and see the realms for how they were, then to catalog how everyone would despair and live in fear, only to realize that there was true goodness and prosperity in their futures.

  He stepped outside the castle, the Knights dressed in the green armor stood diligently, surrounding the courtyard which had the entirety of the city’s residents within it. Those who tried to escape were incarcerated, those who behaved were treated with empathy from the viridian knights. Lenna himself stepped out, and looked over the small balcony, stairs on either side of him that went down to the courtyard itself, where the people sat. Midnite released Lenna and dropped down to the ground, its color seeming to molt once more as it returned its beautiful argent colors.

 “Ladies, Gentlemen and all conscious beings therein! I’m proud to announce that through deliberations we have reached a peaceful understanding! From henceforth this land is under the reign of His Majesty, The Lord of Conquerors, Vorvadoss. He has great things in store for all of you, but first we have to get some of the formalities out of the way. So as of right now, entrance and exit to the city has been stopped. Nobody in or out. But we don’t want this to stop too much of your daily lives, so please continue about the day as best you can.  His majesty will be coming out and coming to see you all, he’s very excited to meet you all!” The announcement was received about as well as he could have hoped. There were some gasps, there was a lot of mumbling and whispering, but he had sharp ears, though he wondered if his being half-elf had anything to do with that. ”God I hope this time he doesn’t sound like he’s dead inside.” He lamented for a moment as he recalled one of the last times Vorvadoss had taken control of a region. He shrugged and let it go, dispelling all concerns as he tried to muster the trust he could for his friend and ruler. He could see the horror in people's eyes, people wanting to leave. Oh were they in for a surprise, he was almost excited.

 Lennan watched a Midnite seem to skulk around, and after scaring a couple of people, the small creature began to hunt down small children. Of course by hunting down it was merely to find someone to play with, it wasn’t like the creature was just going to start taking human sacrifices. The thought of such a playful little creature of magic hunting children for sport made Lennan cringe. He’d had to face off against some terrifying things, cute creatures with murderous intent were almost always unsettling. With the announcement finished Lennan retreated to the castle once more to deliver the good news of the shocked and terrified reception their small incursion force had become so used to receiving. As he walked up towards the throne, he saw their fearless leader speaking to his warden.

 ”I understand your desire to limit the potential bloodshed, but you send us in with a paltry unit. You send a task force to do an army’s work, then rather than let the mongrels live with the consequences of defying you, you offer them forgiveness. Do you truly wish to waste the resources resurrecting these knights? Would it not make more sense to leave this as an example? Let them have no chance at such insolence again?” The Verdigris Warden asked, their own armor similar in style to that of the creature which commanded them, save for a singular large green plume that emerged from the back of their full-helm. Their inquisitive nature had always caused them to be a source of questioning, those who love to explain themselves find no shortage of interest from this being.

“Would you say the same if one of these elves had been your father? If I were the leader of the pirates that raided the isle and stole the treasure from your lands? Would you look into the eyes of your younger self, knowing that I could have the dead raised…and beseech me to leave the dead rot?” The creature asked, one clawed gauntlet on a large ivory staff, the other up stroking the chin which barely peeked from the shadow of its hood. Its voice sounded more mortal now, more understanding of the dynamic emotions of mortal creatures.  Its movements slow and mechanical before suddenly turning fluid as it leaned forward, an elegance like flowing water, deeply contrasting the previous clunky ones. It placed its hand upon the Warden. “On which crime would I sentence them to death? Defiance is not to be paid by death.”

 “Perhaps the fact they were willing to draw their blade against you and inflict harm upon you-” The warden, Clover, allowed his words to trail off as he heard the quiet rumble of the creature chuckling. The sheer confidence that came from this creature was enough to make it’s 5’6” frame feel 80 foot tall.

“How can I justly charge these creatures for a crime they are not capable of committing?” It asked, giving a firm grip of reassurance to its honorary bodyguard while it’s own emissary had returned from the venture of announcing the new reign to the people..

 ”My Lord Vorvadoss. The people are surly terrified and confused, and I’m thinking I just saw Midnite taking a small child as a human sacrifice.” He just stood there for a moment, watching as the creature, Vorvadoss had taken a moment to process everything that had just been said.

  ”Excellent.” Was eventually all he would say, leaving Lennan to let out a groan, this seemed to get a chuckle from the Warden at least. The creature, the Viridian King Vorvadoss did not seem to indulge any of Lennan’s shenanigans. Lennan had always felt Vorvadoss had been too serious when they first entered a reality, it was all business. ”We need a census, and I want fortifications for the village beginning at dawn. Defending the castle alone is unacceptable, especially when the defenses are paltry to begin with.”

  ”You really do assess the weaknesses of every city you step into, don’t you?” The Warden asked, his voice holding the barest hint of amusement.

 ”Of course he does, it’s literally the first thing he did when he met us.” Lennan said, joining in with the warden and reminiscing about the past. There was a small chuckle heard from the Eldrtich King that walked ahead of them. As the three walked the hallways, there was a sense of security, a sense of stillness that seemed to ripple out from them. The cosmos itself settled, fate itself released hold of this moment in time. The doors opened and the light of the sun beamed through. Lennan squinted and raised his hand, The Warden stood and through sheer willpower alone began to squint, turning his head down ever so slightly to keep eyes on potential threats. The King himself, Vorvadoss, looked only ahead, watching the people as they began to move. He could see elves in chains, humans as well in the fields. The iron to their flesh and scars across their arms and backs. The people who walked the shambled streets barely had enough shelter to protect them from rain. It was a despicable thing to behold. This grand castle sat upon a small hill, overlooking a cesspool. People were supposed to live here. There was a burning inside, a desire that drove him.

 “Clover, make your way to UN-L078. We have a lead on Lord Remnant. Exercise the utmost caution.” Vorvados grumbled, his gauntlet reaching out and grasping his Warden on the shoulder one last time. The warden nodded and reached to reciprocate the gesture. After they released, The Warden drew out a rapier and with a daft flick of the wrist one could see the tip of the rapier itself tear cleanly across the air, causing a warping of light, a bend in the air itself where one area seemed to fold in on itself, like two mirrors meeting. It lasted only a second before a small oval began to tear and frey on the edges as a black void was left in space, an intense cold rushing from it to frost the very stone they stood upon. Without fear, without hesitation, The Warden stepped into the void itself, and vanished as the tear in the fabric of spacetime healed behind him. ”Lennan, you and I will be meeting with the people.”

 “Same order as always?” He asked an amused and fond smile on his face as he took a deep breath. This had become so common for them that this was just another day. Multiverses bent the knee to the Viridian king, the Fae adored him, the Eldritch revered him and the Gods feared him.

  The meeting with the townspeople went about as well as could be expected. To have a new king conquer the land, eliminate the king’s guard without any casualties was apparently a feat to the people. They feared him already, this is what he had earned. He took their castle and earned their fear, and with it their primeval form of respect. Now with his power and authority he sought to bridge the gap. While it was true, they would never understand him, never be capable of truly reaching him. But the attempt, the attempt to be the being that reached down from far beyond to come and offer deliverance. This is what he did, as he had done since the dawn of creation.

  They couldn’t understand how this new king wished to meet them all, they didn’t understand how he pressed them for honesty when regarding to their problems. Lennan was never bored of this, the way that Vorvadoss had come to make it seem more like how one buys a business from someone else then asked the employees for their needs and opinions. When you didn’t need to sleep it gave you time to seek such things. Though inevitably there would be those that merely wouldn’t answer, be it a sense of loyalty or a fear of change. It didn’t matter, as they would ultimately be saved as well, though it still wounded that small part of Vorvadoss that recalled what it was like to experience life as a mortal.

 “Alright, we’ve almost got everyone in the city center. We told them not to be afraid…didn’t help though.” Lennan said with a slight chuckle and a shrug. He was good with words, good with kids and loved tricks. He was a child at heart, though more of a  heavily jaded child. He looked over the people that looked up at the two of them as they stood on the stairs leading up to the castle door. There was a moment for Lennan where his memory flashed before his eyes. Defeating Ava and meeting the cruel overlord of their world, not long after meeting Vorvadoss. The little spat they had was the beginning of a very difficult friendship. He was so worried, scared and alone. This must have been how the people felt now, as Vorvadoss extended his friendship to them, the same as he did to Lennan.  “It’s hard to believe that that was us once, huh? You had us all fooled. You just seemed to know what you were doing, all the time, you had some kind of compass in your head. You were just as lost as the rest of us. ” Lennan said, shaking his head as he remembered meeting the creature they called “V”. He had barely been a man at 16 years old. Here they were so many eons later. It never ceased to amaze him that the guy he had met had truly been so much more, would help make him so much more.

  “Little things grow big…I’d lived a full life before i’d even gotten to meet you. 16 was an adult in Albor’Ghan. In Chimera Lands too.” He replied with a slight chuckle. His history, divided between Robin and Vorvsadoss once more. Which one did he acknowledge as true? Which one was his true origins? He couldn’t say that with certainty. He saw them both as they were, two people who had not yet become him. At this moment the people all gathered, the soldiers were there with their weapons sheathed. Vorvadoss stepped forward and reached up, clawed gauntlets gently pulling back on his hood, revealing a tanned face, a thick cut of black hair that had been properly attended to and glowing green eyes that looked upon the people. The youthful face was trapped in a perpetual state of strength, the time when Vorvadoss began his conquest. The people whispered and murmured, his small stature now making sense. He spoke no louder than normal, but his voice seemed to carry, as if the words came not from his mouth, but from the entirety of the world around him. Regardless of distance they could hear him as if he were speaking in a civil tone, right before them.

 “Steady yourselves and listen, as I have come to you and listened. My name is Vorvadoss. This land has been subjected to tyranny for too long. You lived, labored and served not only to survive, but to provide a single person and his friends with a life of luxury that you could only have wished for in your fantasies. Meekly you’ve kept your heads down, you’ve paid your taxes as you’ve toiled with blood and sweat. How many of you had been lost to famine while your king sat idly by in his castle feasting? How many lost to illness while your King remained behind impregnable walls? How many of you did not survive simply so that man could inflate his ego and live without concern? Is this what a King is to you? If this is what passes for a King, I am not impressed.” He said, his eyes glancing ahead, looking over faces, some eyes were able to meet his, others looked away. He would need to be careful, he was not the wordsmith that Lennan was, he was quite abrasive at times. With a sharp inhale he looked across the hovels and broken shacks and cottages that lay across the land. The murky and muddy fields that needed tended were a sore spot for his eyes.

“Your King needed you to give your livelihoods, to suffer so that he may live in peace. But that is no more. From this day forward this land is under my protection. It will be governed and tended to by my sovereignty and those within it. This protection extends to every living creature within these borders who is willing to accept it.”  He took a moment to investigate the crowd, observe their faces, the filth they lived in. He looked to their living conditions, truly considered them as it awakened something primal inside. He felt something familiar, but so distant that it felt almost foreign. The viridian flame that burned deep inside his abdomen, but what was this feeling? Was it sympathy? Was it anger? He’d long forgotten what some of these emotional ties he once had. His life had become so mission oriented that he had forgotten what it was to genuinely feel the spurn of a righteous fury. Looking back to Lennan and the castle behind him he would shake his head, then return his gaze to the people.

 ”There is no punishment for rejecting my generosity. You will not be exiled, harmed or coerced into submission. You will not be sold or enslaved. You will simply have to exist within this land that is protected by a new King that you do not acknowledge, but there will be laws that you WILL. But when you are in danger, you are not entitled to my protection. When war breaks out, you will not be entitled to hide within my castle. When the famines hit you are not entitled to the food in my reserves. That is all. If you are self-sufficient then I commend you, and I look forward to seeing your growth. Those of you that do accept my protection and stand beside me, I welcome you to a Kingdom that spans beyond this world, beyond the myriad of worlds beyond. The age of tyranny in your lives is done. I am not a King that sits in my castle, I am a King that has known the hells. I’ve been to battle, I’ve fought for my lands, for my people. I do not delegate, and I do not STEAL from the labors of my people. It is not my place to reap the fruits of my people, but to continue to protect them. When it rains, it is EVERYONE’S home that becomes assailed by the rains, when the winds tear through the crops in the fields it is EVERYONE who goes hungry. I am the King, and this is my decree. Never Again. Never again will we forsake one and other to the elements, to sickness, to the cruelty of other nations. Never again will we yield our lives to the tyranny of the unworthy who consume your sweat, blood and tears while you lay in bed starving.” His rant only caused faced to flash through his mind. The people he’d dethroned, the lives he’d watch pass to the incompetence of the many rules he’d depose. He lifted his staff to the air, then slammed it on the ground, there was a green fire that erupted from the bottom, as a viridian flame pulsed outwards and began to burn away at the world around him. The fires passed over the people harmlessly, the dirt and mud upon their faces singed and evaporated, leaving them cleaned.

  The fibers on the ends of their clothing began to shift and move as the gaps and holes began to glow with the same smoldering green color. The fabrics began to reattach, mend and the holes were gone. He lifted his staff once more and slammed it to the ground causing a thunderous roar that sang throughout the skies. Some people were screaming, others cowered, but as he unleashed the second powerful eruption of flame, they began to look around. The screams turned to silence, save for some murmurs of confusion. The viridian flames consumed homes, burning away at their simple thatch roofing, the mut and wood itself seeming to thin and burn away to smoldering charcoal in mere seconds. They all looked in awe as the flames began to move away, and where there should have been the burnt frame and remnants of homes, there were full crafted houses. Shacks and hovels became small homes, made of stone cobbling and wooden supports. Windows and hearths appeared within, and the stone streets beneath their very feet turned from old, worn and messy cobble to finely crafted and intricate stone bricks that gave way to an actual road.

 The flame subsided after several minutes of burning, and in that moment what was once a poor hamlet made of homes that feared strong winds, there were now genuine homes like one would find within a well off city. The people looked on in a mixture of concern for the power, and disbelief for what they had seen. Lennan cleared his throat and made a motion with his hand, the castle’s gate opened and several soldiers in bloody armor began to walk out, looking around in confusion at the land around them.

 “This is my gift to you. A place to sleep, without fear of rain nor shadows. The family you feared to have lost, returned to you. The only thing I ask of you is to remember. The rain, the wind and the blights do not care who suffers. The world does not care who suffers. Be the one who cares, the one who fights. For yourself, and for others. I will lead you. I will show you what it means...”   He said as he pushed himself up with his staff in hand. Giving it a small flourish of a twirl, he looked to Lennan, who stood there with arms crossed and a smirk on his face, like he had seen something that humored him. He tried to see what it was that Lenna was saying but all he could see was the lips move.

  “Welcome back, V.” or something to that effect. He turned his head back to the people. He had nothing else to say to them. He stood there silently, now just looking at people as if he were waiting for someone to attack him or something. He wasn’t but there was nothing else to do. People were shocked, some were excited, others were afraid. The mixture of all the emotions was enough to leave him stalled, unable to truly comprehend what effect he had on these people. Such simplistic creatures, but ones that were still so fascinating. First he drove off those dragons in his weakened state, then he took this castle. Now these people would be provided for. He could still feel the dragon in the distance. The sun set and the Viridian Guard remained alert, serving as patrols before. He was sitting on the fireplace, Mitnite resting his eyes in front of the fire as Vorvadoss continued to stroke the creature behind the ear.

  “Lennan…” He muttered, it was the first he had spoken since the events earlier in the day. He remained focused in a more introspective way, though now that he opened up he could hear Lennan’s voice from down the hall.

 “Yeah V?” He asked, his sharp sense of perception didn’t dull throughout the years.


 “I need you to find someone for me. They may be beyond the confines of this realm… so you may need to sail to the land called Boston.” He said, his tone never raised, he knew that Lenna could hear him just fine, despite being a few rooms away.

“Uh, isn’t that a bit dangerous. Ya’ know it has the red Siren fish thing that is super picky?” He asked, still rummaging around in something.

  “A bard of your talents should have no problem.” He said with a slight chuckle. It was then that there was a loud shattering noise and then suddenly Lennan entered the room, six different bottles wrapped up in his arms, one additional bottle between two fingers as he was slowly losing his grip.

 “So these are all the native alcohols I could find. Let’s go!”

 “First one to wince goes to Boston.”

 “Oh, challenge accepted. Second one to wince has tooooo…?”

 “Follow up on those dragons.” Vorvadoss smirked, eyebrows lifting for a second before reaching over and taking one of the bottles, popping the cork and taking a swig. His face didn’t change, though his eyebrows furrowed. “Tastes like pineapple.”

 “Pft, not falling for that one again.” Lennan replied, reaching over and taking another bottle. Vorvadoss tilted his head to the side, an exaggerated attempt to convey his confusion with the statement. Lennan took a large swig from the bottle, a strong and bitter taste washed over his mouth before leaving his tongue to tingle with a very rich and sweet after-taste. His lips curled in and he shook his head.  “Alright, I’ll go to boston. Gonna die to a fucking Siren.” He said.

 The smile formed over his face as he heard the grumblings of his Emissary. It had been so long since he had a normal existence. An eternal mission impressed upon the very fiber of his being. He watched as those he loved were sacrificed for this, given from their lives to save them. Both parts that made him who he was. He would reflect upon this for hours, and not even realize. He would recall the moments of his lives with perfect clarity. Such perfect clarity in fact that it would be a fair assessment to say that he was standing right there, at the very moment in time. He could feel the cold of the world around him, the nuclear winter that settled upon the ground outside, despite being inside the old abandoned stone structure. His eyes were closed, but he did not need the eyes of this vessel to see.

  A small young man, no older than 13 had been bound with chains of cast iron. The chains themselves were searing hot. He could barely recognize the physical form of his younger self. He watched as the creatures shrouded in dark robes with platinum medallions in the shape of a dragon. The cultists were walking around, chanting as they threw wood over and around the boy. He watched, stepping around the cultists and watching the moment in time. He could do something, anything, and this whole event would never have happened. He would be freed, and the only being who ever cared for him would still be alive. He would watch for a moment more, then leave as that very being arrived to slaughter those cultists. Recalling his will, his essence throughout time back to the chosen vessel would be a rapturing experience. His eyes opened and once more it felt like being born to a new world.

 The sun was rising, the strange orange hues sitting across the horizon and peeking through the stone windows. He looked around, noting that enough time had passed that his emissary had left. With a slight hum he stood up, and reached up, pulling the hood back up over his head. Once more he would need to survey the land, recalling to mind the creatures he had met before. The large blue dragon with the beautiful luminescence. The enduring half-breed that is illuminated with a powerful green energy, not too unlike Vorvadoss’ own. The other creature of shifting forms, he could identify that creature. It was not of this realm, it was from another, torn from war. There was a sickness growing inside, a small parasite born of duality.

   They sat upon the planes for a moment, the large blue dragon’s state degrading, fearful to return to a mortal form in fear of death. They feared, panicked at how even an unbreaking aura was not sparing the creature of its fate. Vorvadoss took a breath in, and slammed his large staff to the ground. A loud ripping noise rang out, a funnel of wind appearing as beautiful viridian flames burned away at the space before him like paper, allowing a small doorway for him to step through.

  “It’s here!” the large blue dragon rumbles, the hissing it produced as it sprayed a pressurized jet of water, the sheer force produced from the wounded dragon’s throat causing a loud hiss. Vorvadoss moved his staff to the side, appearing to give an opening before the spray seemed to collide with nothingness, disappearing before reappearing behind the caster. The large blue dragon tried to stand, its forearm barely attached but by some muscle and sinew, the bone itself cleaved, one wing was missing and its ribs were able to be seen by one of the clean cuts. its posture was sagging and despite the aura around it that persisted for it to keep going, even its will was fading.

 “Now then...How do we want to do this?” He asked looking over the three creatures. With the flourish of his staff, it would disappear, leaving the invasive king without a staff or weapon. His eyes looked over them all, tracing the nature of their existence into the infinite cosmos beyond. He could see that which remained unseen. Past, present and future was not linear to him, it was fluid and changing. He gazed over the three and saw everything that was, where they had been, what they would become. “We need not be in opposition…Tiamat. Jordan. Deimos. ”

 The large blue dragon seemed to shrink back upon hearing its name, its natural protective instincts of the other two seeming to dull slightly when caught off guard. The fear radiating from it was palpable, the care it had for the two, the guilt it had for Vorvadoss’ release. He could see it. Such a poor creature, misguided and misunderstood by its own very limited and very flawed intelligence. The other a nervous wreck as the echoes of the cosmos sang from brilliant stars many dimensions away. A powerful earthy tone kept his sense of smell grounded, the difficult one to damage was the one he sensed. A powerful will he had felt long ago, one that he had mastered and forgotten, and mastered once more. A journeyman of the infinite cosmos, and perhaps the most capable, but he would learn failure first. Everything can break, even definitives, and absolutes.

 “Son of Primordial Chaos. Son of Ancient will, buried within the earth. Child of a mother who soared amongst the stars. This land and all within it are under my protection now. Let us converse as King of the Viridian Flame to Fool Prince’s of Chaos, Prince of Stars and Sleeping Silver, and Knight of Stone Pentacles..” This would be their last chance. They stood right here, right now before the Eldritch king of the viridian flame.
The Nightmare
The Nightmare

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