NationStates Jolt Archive


30-03-2005, 18:38
"And there will come a time when these Gods are not satisfied with the succor of but one earth, and they shall reach to the far corner of Everything with the fiery Lance of the Faithful. This Lance shall be brought unto the masses and shall plunge through their souls. It will rise from the earth and sweep through the mountains and across the skies, turning the very stars themselves unto the Path, lest they be impaled upon its shining point. Set the stranger upon the road with thy mouth, thy song, and finally the cold, sharp bite of thy sword. Heed thy Gods, and fear them, for their wrath is made of fire and blood."
-Rigante Prayer

It was an old place, long forgotten by those who had come to follow the religions of the One God, and near-forgotten by those who kept to the Path. Lichen had grown up over the old altar, and the trees about the meadow were heavy with fruit. The riot of purple blossoms, Sunshade, had been allowed to run free, and no longer were they tended neatly, but grew together in thorned tangle of beauty.

The place was still beautiful, though lonely. What remained through the years, though, was the feeling of the place. A man but had to walk through the meadow, the setting sun dappling his skin and the glinting thorns of the Sunshade catching the dying light, to feel the presense of the Old Gods. Not some half cocked idea of 'faith', but a very real, very powerful feeling of purpose. Yes, though many had forgotten them, the Tides remembered their people, and but bided their time until the time came again to unfurl their fiery banner.

A century before, as the religions of Christ and Muhammed had begun to cross the seas, the numbers of those who kept to the Path began to dwindle. They began to forget that their own Gods were the nameless Gods of Wind and Water, and the very tangible wrath of War. The Tides, they were called. Though their worshippers were still in the majority at present, their faith was but another part of their day, like their shoes, or the television. It had become passe.

Aside from their warriors and Lords, by and large Pantera had become a nation of unbelievers and casual worshippers. No longer was the common man swept along by the Tides, but was content to sit and let them wash past him, soaking his skin but leaving his soul dry, parched from lack of Faith.

The Tides still crashed ferociously against the shores of Pantera, but they left no mark. The flames that were Wind, Water and War had dwindled, leaving only a tiny spark amid the Darkness. But, it is in the very nature of a Warrior People to believe in something, and though the fire had gone, the fuel and the spark remained.

All that was needed was a man to combine fuel and spark, and in doing so ignite the fires that would boil oceans and sweep whole nations from the earth.

As the chanting began, the Acolytes, in their chain-mail robes, began to emerge from the darkness of the treeline. Torches were lit, and the song grew slowly, building in volume until the meadow reverberated with their voices and the dancing flames bathed the chorus in light.

As the sun's final sliver dipped below the western horizon the land was bathed in darkness. Only the circle of torches remained, and in the center was the altar, the white quartz glowing under the firelight, seeming to pulse along with the chanting of the Acolytes.

The song continued, but the circle parted and through it stepped a powerfully built man. His robes were not the ancient chainmail of his fellows, but a thick swathe of crimson silks and velvet. His bald head shone in the dancing torchlight, and his blazing purple eyes were determined. A slight bundle rested in his meaty arms, it too was covered in silk, though instead of the crimson, this was a pale shade of blue.

As the huge man approached the altar, he spoke a soft word his his bundle and gently bent to set it on the quartz slab. As he straightened, he pulled the slip of silk from the bundle, to reveal a slender girl, young and beautiful. She was nude beneath the silk, and as it came away her skin became pebbly with the crisp Panteran air. Blinking at the glare of the torchlight, she opened her mouth to question those who surrounded her.

But, her words went unuttered, for in that moment the altar beneath her flared brilliantly and she was bathed in brilliant light, glitteringly brilliant, it was as if a thousand-thousand white-hot flames had reached from the stone to caress her.

And then it was gone, along with the girl and the slimy lichen that had coated the stone. Gleaming and spotless, the quartz slab was covered in a thousand tiny runes, some etched in silver, some into the stone itself, and yet others filled with small droplets of scarlet. The blood crawled over the pale stone, coalescing into shapes only to scatter again and again.

The chanting had stopped, and in the stunned silence of the square, the crimson-clad man spoke,"And now it is begun. Fed once more by the purest of life, the Tides will swell and crash into the shores of Man. They shall wash clean the corruption that taints the Earth, and the unions of Men and Beast shall not stand. They will be swept aside and shattered, to be forged anew in the Light of the Dawn. The Stars themselves will kneel to do homage to the Kings of the Earth, while the Gods of Wind, Water and War reign in the twilight."

And they had done it. For better or worse, these Old Gods were once again empowered to reach out and caress the realms of men, to chastise and reward as they saw fit. Their return would galvanize the populace, and lead Pantera into an era of prosperity and plunder. The silence should have been filled with joyous cheering and celebration, but there was none of that.

There was only the soft wimper of an unseen someone, sobbing into the darkness of the forest.

"Heed thy Gods, and fear them, for their wrath is made of fire and blood."
03-04-2005, 04:01
The old one's grey hair was streaked with white, his skin spotted and sagging with age. He was old. Sometime in the past, during the long-summer of his youth, his face had been cleaved by some weapon, leaving his jaw mangled and ugly.

Though his features were unsightly at the best of times, when contorted into a mask of fear, they transformed into a hideous mask of desperation.

His breath came in ragged gasps as he paused at the crest of the hill and turned to survey the slope below him. No sign of it from here, he thought before turning to hurry down and across the backslope of the hill, toward a thin scattering of trees. Where there should have been sounds of spring birds and other life, there was only silence aside from the noise of the old one.

Pausing to scan around himself once more, he felt a faint tinge of hope that it had gone. That hope was short lived, however, as there, before him, it emerged from the treeline.

Milky pale, the thing made no noise as it lurched toward him, it's eyes glowing like flames inside it's rotted face. Those eyes saw him, and through their blazing gaze, he felt it's hatred, and it chilled his soul.

The old bones of the wight's mouth worked silently as it came forward, stomping jerkily. The old one backed away, his hoarse breathing silenced for a moment by the terror inside him. But he was an old warrior, the veteran of a hundred of the Lord Reaver's campaigns, and alongside the terror in his chest, lurked something else. Something furiously alive.

His first instinct was to slap at his hip for the sword that no longer hung there, until he remembered that he was old. No matter, his soul was still aflame, and the old instincts of the warrior came to life, and he stepped forward, raising his hands.

The wight all but leapt forward at the sign of resistance, it's own dead, bony hands raisiing as it crashed into it's prey. The dead hands were like iron as they closed around the sagging, wrinkled skin of the old one's throat. Vise-like, they began to squeeze, oblivious of the feeble struggles of the old warrior.

But there was a reason the old one had lived so long. He had, for fifty years, been a bonny fighter, and one of his Lord's bravest retainers. The strength was all but gone from his arms when he summoned the fury of his spirit and raised his arm, driving his thumb into the ember of the wight's eye.

The grey flesh of it's face shredded under the thumb, and the old one had enough life left in him to see the side of the thing's head crunch away, revealing the rotted corruption beneath.

His vision was black after that, the only spot of color was the fiery, remaining eye of the wight. The spot remained for a few moments until the old neck sidintegrated under the dead hands. And the hill around remained silent.
13-04-2005, 23:36
"Who am I to judge or strike you down, when the Gods themselves may take a hand in your judgement?" The rich baritone of the Acolyte's voice carried over the meadow, resounding with the authority that was his.

Before him stood three Reavers. Starved and bloody, the trio stood tall and spat defiance at the man who sat in judgement,"The sword, I say. Or are you a craven dog, unwilling to taste my steel? Will your gods save you from that, bastard? We've done no wrong, and care not about your Gods. Leave us, or draw your steel and we shall have it out."

The flares of purple that were his eyes were clear and almost uncaring, albeit slightly condescending, as he leaned forward and spoke the doom of the trio,"Trial by fire, then. Should the Gods see fit to spare you, you will simply not burn."

Though half-starved and weary, these were fighting men, and knew it would be better to die than burn. They launched themselves at the mob of these false Priest, these Defilers, and began to lay about them. With tooth and finger they fought, their nails gouging eyes and being torn by the chainmail of the Acolytes.

Soon, though, they were wrestled down, tied and bound, and the fire was lit. Behind their backs, their feet and hands were tied together. Lain in a row, their hands and feet bowed behind them, a log was slipped through, and the three were hoisted aloft. Screaming and cursing the priests for heretics, the Reavers went to the fire in defiance, but the blazing fire before them soon dulled their edge. Strong, fearless men they were, willing to fight any enemy to the last breath. But, there was no fighting the flames. They were no respector of strength or courage.

As the log was lifted above the flames, the warriors began to grit their teeth. Each vowing to himself that he would not scream nor cry out. Each of them was made a liar, however, as the hungry, licking flames began to scorch their armor and clothing. Slowly, the Acolyte's lowered the log, and their clothing and hair began to smolder. The first choking, gasp for air was heard then, followed by a sob as the Reaver's lungs filled with greasy smoke. Soon he was screaming, his skin beginning to bubble and blister.

His companions soon began to follow suit as the log was shifted once more. Their screaming was a chorus that, at first, drown out the singing of the priests. The song grew, however, and mingled with the screams. An almost merry hymn they sang, praising their Gods while the sounds of fine men's screams filled the air.

Soon enough, though, it was over, for no man can stand against the flames. The air had begun to stink of seared flesh and hair, and the Acolytes began to disperse, occasionally murmering a blessing to one another, or nodding in satisfaction.

Atop the raised dais, the purple eyes of the one remaining Acolyte still glowed with the flickering, dying embers of the fire. He pulled a deep breath and straightened, the stench of the burnt men seemingly envigorating him, and the corruption within.