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It was a night like never before. For those who are sensitive to these matters it was full of purpose and potential. Power. The animals lay awake in the lush forest. Not fighting for their existence, for once, but holding their little breaths in terror. There was a storm coming and nowhere to hide from the horrible fate that was slowly awakening. The Wyrm was coming.
Surrounded by his favorite acolytes and his lover, by officials and their pompous retinue, a small army of guards and the rest of town following suit, the warlock entered the raised clearing. All was ready for his dark work.
The acolytes each took their place at the corner of the pyramid as the warlock ascended further, alone.
The Warlock stepped forward. Hesitant he gripped his staff tight, held it high and slightly trembling spoke to the dark and empty quiet of that night: ”O great dark one. Your coming has been foretold for many ages that have come and gone. Throughout the history of all mankind the Dark Wyrm's arrival was foretold. The end of times. Great and powerful beast, dark god, come to devour us whole, hear me now. Hear me and lay still for a moment. Hold your hunger and listen to reason! Hold, I implore you!”
The Wyrm slowly came to be, as was foretold. It came from nothing into being, it's only purpose to eat whole all that is. A gargantuan dark form, shapeless. A Maw that is a hole and yet an infinity of nothing, lined by teeth, sharp in their millions. A truly soulless thing bent on becoming one with existence and in so doing negating it entirely.
“I would beg, oh Great creature of Death, if you could hear my plea: but you are not death. Death is always the beginning of something new. You are the end, existence turned on itself. So I do not beg. Begging is futile. Instead ...” The Warlock paused. Even in this moment of ecstatic terror, what he was about to do was horrendous beyond words. With only a tiny chance of success. He knew if he failed to hold the Wyrm in check all would be lost.
He swallowed and began his attempt at coercion, a pathetic attempt at bribing a god: “Rend asunder all that is, as is your right, oh Powerful One, and move on in nothingness, as is yours to take. Or head my words and gain so much more! I offer you a thousand souls each year! Each year new fresh souls of the most excellent quality will wait for you on top of this hill, for your pleasure and enjoyment: destroy all now and it is not to be! Allow me, oh lord to teach you how to harvest this world, instead of destroying it! Even your divine hunger will be sated, I am quite confident.”
He was not confident. In fact, the gamble he had made, was forced to make rather, had to pay of. It was the only option. If he failed all things would end.
“Allow what is to grow and reap from the fruits. Why take the whole if the individual can bring so much more to the harvest!” The warlock's voice failed him. The truly divine had never been witnessed by any mortal before and in that single instant his mind was being ravaged by a terrible fear. If divinity was all that ripped his sanity to pieces, perhaps he could have been alright, but the nothingness was leeching him of that small hope.
Silence. The Warlock had made his desperate gamble and was met with an enormity of deadly silence. The Wyrm came more and more into being. Did it notice it'd been spoken to? Probably not. The Warlock couldn't take his eyes of the Wyrm as it unfolded its horrendous magnificence. This is the end, he thought. Or more accurately, he vaguely recognized the idea.
The Wyrm shuddered and broke up, slowly taking form, more and more. It gave birth to an eye; it spawned an eye out of the antithesis it represented, a terrible dark mirror, gazing upon it meant instant destruction.
The warlock averted his desperate eyes and closed them, his hand covering his ears, screaming. The opposite of sound crashed into his soul and slowly shred him to pieces. The warlock prayed for the end, at that moment. And he would think back on that moment and indeed, he would wish many times that his wish had been granted.
Then the Wyrm spoke. A thunderous whisper, an empty voice. Not lying, nor deceitful, truthful or hateful: empty. “Words. For the first time I taste words. And already I am losing interest. Taste of your existence: strife, eating, hate, love,... futility. If I devour all now, my purpose and the purpose of existence is served: growing souls like so many crops won't gain anything to that purpose, only prolong the inevitable.”
The warlock screamed in panic, screaming words that were not heard by himself.
The Wyrm broke again from silence and became one with reality as it spoke; “And yet... time. I confess it eludes me, tasteless and nonexistent, yet here... here non the less. Tell me more, warlock. Tell me of time. I know I will destroy it by eating this existence, but I would not have time elude me. Tell me more and I will grant you your futile life time to live out before I destroy all that is.”
Hearing the Wyrm 's words was standing in a raging fire, being doused by the most destructive storm and wind, being ripped apart by gravity, mauled by raging seas... and yet silent. The Warlock struggled to keep his mind together. Terror and madness haunting him. He struggled to understand the words the Wyrm had thrown at him. Terror numbed his mind, but hope sprang in the aftermath of the Wyrm 's words, hope for his life and greedy for more. The warlock finally chocked an answer after what had seemed an eternity: ”Indeed my lord, time is of the essence. The very core of all that is, of very being itself. Of course one of your magnificence cares not for love, or death, eating or grooming. You look at higher principles that make our plane what it is...”
Losing himself in his rant his petrified mind tried to gather the ideas necessary to convince a deity. So he fell silent, his hands wrapped ever more around his ears. He broke down and instead spoke of his own life, his beautiful wife Cara, his child, his friends, his many losses and defeats, sorrows and joy. Hicking up his tears he spoke of his pride and the inevitable failing of his body as it grew older.
Finally he broke down weeping and spluttered about his pet cat, that he loved somehow deeply.
His rant went on until he could hear again, his own voice no longer lost in total silence, but breathing again. Shivering he felt silent himself. Gathering what was left of his wits, he rose, after a very long time had passed. As he stumbled from the barren mountain, he wondered dimly if he had been alone or not, but he could not remember. The mountain side was littered by dusty shapes of what might once have been.
Cara, he thought. His vague recollection brought him back to his wife, slowly remembering her face. Then he was struck by the knowledge the Wyrm had granted him: that as long as he drew breath, the world would be safe. The warlock had to live. Ashamed he recalled how he had clung to his life in that awful moment, how he had forgotten even her. Even now his memory of her was fading as ash in the wind.
He vowed in those last moments he would make the sacrifices he had had to make matter. He would pursue immortality and he would trick the Wyrm from having all.
And so the brave maddened warlock descended from the mountain and from humanity in stride: he now had no choice but to sacrifice all to become immortal and so he did .
Until he at last had sacrificed so much in his conquest for power and immortality, having lost all sense centuries before, that he ceased to be the warlock and instead became one with the deity he had conjured, one with the Wyrm and its infinite nothingness.
You cannot subtract from the divine void, it can not be divided.
And so the warlock at long last became the Wyrm.
And so the great devourer itself became trapped in time as it came into being at two moments, seeking to devour and understand both at once, turned to devour itself.
Wizards and mages often speak of this story and the truth of it: that the Wyrm was what came before. Before all that was. When the warlock summoned the Wyrm prematurely, to try and best it somehow, did he break the chain of existence? Or instead had it always been the Wyrm that birthed time and the question from which all existence ebbed unknowingly, from nothing?
The Immortal warlock and his many terrible deeds are thus revered by many arcane practitioners: and the likely birth and reason of everything wisely kept a hushed metaphor.
|Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice|
Timothy O. Goyette
|Against a Diamond|