He is our greatest triumph, the embodiment of the hopes of an entire world, the hero of justice we have been waiting for all this time. Spoken of in song and prophecy. Who’s coming was foretold by The Ancestors. The only man who can defeat the Tyrant. The only one man who can end the dark ages of five hundred years.
No…not a man.
I can only stare dumbfounded as a saga worthy of being etched into The lay of the Ten Thousand unfolds before my very eyes. I will describe it as best I can, for that is what I do. In this time of change and strife, when the world churns out Gods and Heroes, chronicling their deeds is all I can do. Their muscles coil and harden like cords of liquid metal. I say liquid metal, for no steel I know of no matter how bright or true can bend like that. And no rope I know of, be it made from the leaves of Mimbar or the blades of Shuta grass can ever hope to be attain such invincibility. Their arms are locked together, two titanic vices wrenching and straining every single moment to bend the other to it’s will.
It is like seeing a mountain clash with the endless sea. Their
eyes smoulder and glow in the twilight, steam rises from their massive frames. Their own sweat, turned to vapour by the therma boiling within their frames. I cower behind a rock which might as well be frail dried parchment for the protection it affords. I can scarcely contain myself from crying out and bolting from the place. Every instinct in my body screams to get away. Fear and panic long ago mingled together into a incessant buzzing in my ears. However the last threads of my sanity desperately reinforce my will to stay and see this through to the end.
They have been fighting now for three days.
It began with a duel of Therma let loose at a scale that has been unseen for centuries. Not since the Tyrant came into power…Five hundred years ago. When he deposed Eldest, last of The Ancestors, and assumed the throne. Even the best of trained Magi can barely draw on a trickle of the great energy as compared to these two monsters.
All the stories of my childhood come reeling to the surface as the thousand prophecies of doom that echoed in them now seem a living breathing thing.
The Gods take insult, when man dares to steal their power and unleash it on this Earth. Heaven punishes those who trespass where only Gods may tread.
By The Ancestors, these two shall verily unleash the ire of the Gods. If this goes on, if such power is allowed to roam unchecked then surely the Gods will not let this slide unpunished. We will suffer, our children will suffer. For the first time I feel truly alone. I glance out and about to check if anyone else is present, searching with vacant eyes for another human presence. Someone, anyone who could also understand what my mind flailingly grasps at.
Unfortunately I know the answer before I even see it. Why would anyone stay at a place like this. None will stay to witness the end of a world. None but the mad and the doomed. This was once Karnati. Holiest of the Seven Divine Cities. Blessed by the Ancestors, rich beyond belief. All that remains now is rubble. Where once stood the hundred pillars of red marble, hewn from the red mines of the Sifarat desert, A wonder for all to behold. There are now only pits of molten rock and boiling fire. Burned forever into the earth by the bound lightning storms they called down upon each other. Gone is the Crystal Palace, gone the scented Tower of Gardens, replaced instead by the charred flesh of citizens flayed onto burnt black stone, a ringed ruined crown marking the land.
In the heart of this wasteland they continue their battle. Strewn about the two are the remains of Karnati’s mighty army. The remains cannot even be recognized as anything that was once human. Crushed, battered, broken, torn, cindered and sundered beyond any hope of repair are the corpses of a hundred thousand brave soldiers. Soldiers who fought till the last man, and took no retreat’s shelter, no coward’s path.
The deeds of the army are fit enough to create a saga worth singing for eons to come, alas their tale will not even be a footnote in the larger history of things. For greater scales are tipping and balancing here, scales that will determine our very existence, or our absolute annihilation.
I saw the King of Karnati, in his amber armor and crystal crown. Glowing in the morning sun. I saw him raise Glourfaun, The fabled blue blade handed to him by The Ancestors, raised after a hundred years of peace. I saw him torn apart in a hail of pink mist and flying shreds of flesh in the very next moment. I saw the might of us men who have raised Empire States and invincible Magi fail utterly and completely. I saw the greatest of men relegated to the insignificance of insects when faced with a higher power.
I saw the truth. The truth that we are lost.
A gigantic crash awakens me to the present. It would seem one of them has gained an upper hand. The Tyrant, Oh Gods it is the Tyrant who loses. He is down to one knee his face strained beyond anything I have witnessed before. Veins bulge beneath the skin, skin which glows golden from the power seeping through it’s pores. Even now as he loses he loses akin to a monster from horrors of old. Unbearably strong, trashing and crushing stone, bone and metal with equal ease even in his death throes. A fist crashes into his face, sending him reeling, followed by another and another. The earths shakes with these strikes, it shifts and rumbles. I float…float on solid earth.
This should not be possible. This is beyond anything I had ever dreamed. The Earth has turned liquid from their strikes, groaning under our very feet. Again and again he hits him, a hammer fall of the gods, every strike rings out now as if metal striking metal. Ever strike sending ripples through the Earth. Deafening peals of metallic thunder resonating out across the ruined country.
Somewhere distant a volcano explodes belching ash into the darkening sky. An eternity I hear the bells toll. My mind unable to take any more gives in and I whimper and crouch behind my vantage. Tears hot boiling down my cheeks, tears of shame, of weariness of desperation…helplessness. My broken mind unable to stop yet unable to comprehend these tears I shed for the Tyrant.
I cry and cry and cry until I can cry no more, but my heart still bleeds in my chest, so I wail silently. The fear of discovery is enough to keep any sound from escaping these parched lips. My mind feels alien, unknown as steadily reason slips away from my grasp and minutes, hours, days, years blend together seamlessly. Freeing me from the illusion of time. In my madness I hear the Tower bells toll and run careless and free on the grassy plains outside Karnati.
As I know I once did. Too long ago to remember.
The taste of ash in my mouth brings me back to my bearings. It is dark now, every dark. No stars. I am covered in soot. My mind numb from shock and nearly spent tries to gather a sense of the place. And then I hear it. The titanic clash of metal on metal, I peek out daring beyond my meagre courage to cast one last glance at the struggle. Alas in the pitch of the night I see nothing. Then comes the metallic crash of his fist and a hail of sparks illuminates the two figures. They are close enough for me to see their every detail, forever branding them in my mind memory.
His foot rests on the Tyrant’s chest, while he kneels over him, his fist has pounded the tyrant into the very ground. And still he strikes, his own face is fixed in a ghastly visage, rage twisting his once noble features, his face bathed in blood.
None of it his own.
My very soul recoils in horror. For I see him for what he is. What I have suspected him to be from the moment he was unleashed. This is not our saviour. This is not the promised one, this is the man who will free us, free us from our own existence. He is not the balancer of the scales. Though he was hailed thus by all. I see him now for what he truly is. The punishment of Heaven. The Gods have truly abandoned us and sent us our doom.
For the light in his eyes tells me the truth I failed to see when I had the chance. How was I ever this foolish. Look at him. Who else could have ever destroyed the Tyrant so. The Tyrant, the only man to ever steal from the Gods and live. The immortal God Emperor of our world, who had reigned for five hundred years over all men.
The only man to face an Ancestor in combat and win.
Who else but the doom of this world would ever be able to drag him down.
Both fists rise up and clamp together, they come down like God’s own hand and this time there is no metallic sound. This time there is a sickening crunch. Red mist spurts out in a cloud, slowly he raises his head and breathes it all in. He drinks the Tyrant’s blood from the very air and laughs a booming rasping hollow laughter that turns my body to stone, my heart drying up in it’s wake.
I see who you are.
He looks up then, stares at the sky witnessing something only he can see. Witnessing the forking of destiny. Taking in a big gulp of air he lets loose a roar that shakes the entire world. The skies shudder reeling under the shock of the force. It is the last thing I ever hear, for the roar tears on through my eardrums and my mind. But my eyes are still open. I see arcs of blinding lightning as explode from within the Tyrant’s body. Residual therma escaping back to the Heavens. Stolen power now returned.
With the last bit of the Tyrant’s energy dissipated I know it is truly over. He rises up. A colossal shadow, growing larger and stronger with each breath. He walks over the ruins of my beloved Karnati, heavy steps treading over broken marble and bloodied skulls with equal ease and indifference.
I had thought him to be our messiah. Once I had thought him to be our only hope.
We were so proud in our rituals, so proud in our knowledge, so certain that he could be controlled. The tears flow once again as the rumbling of his stride grows distant. He has moved on, leaving behind the ruins of an entire civilization. Ten Thousand years wiped clean in a mere three days. I am the last of my kind, the last of the Karnati. But did not the death of my beloved city fall on my own head. Had I but realized…had I but known.
For it was I who brought him to this world, despite all the warnings. It was I who gave him a conscious form, I who gave him the desire to hunt, destroy…kill. It is my rage that powers his heart. Yes other magi performed the spells but I showed them the way. I, who found the sealed dimension. I, who realized that something of great power lay sealed within. Use a greater force to defeat an Invincible one. How perfectly reasonable an argument it was. I convinced the King’s Council. Setting in chain this sequence of events to finally end the reign of the Tyrant. Convincing everyone, even myself that it needed to be done.
An immortal force sealed away in an eternal prison between dimensions, away from Mortal hands. And I was the fool blinded by vengeance, who chose to pry where no mortals may tread. Unleashing him upon this world. Unleashing him into my own brother, my first sacrifice. Without even knowing it’s true name.
I know it now. Oh I know it now well. If only I could forget it like the darkened Sun.
He is the Breaker.
And he will break the world before he is done.