Age of Deceit – Awakening
The text below is based on Guild Wars lore but is purely fan-fiction. Click here for Chapter 7.
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Chapter 8 – Awakening
Shame. It was the emotion he felt most of the time during his long imprisonment. Shame and guilt.
For how long has he been imprisoned? He did not know, but it has been a long time since he last saw daylight. Or saw anything for that matter. He did not feel his body. He had no connection with the world. His consciousness was stuck where his hibernating body was. What little he could do was to lose himself in his memories; dwell on his failed mission, think about his god, and ponder on where it all went wrong. How did they fail their divine duty and why did he survive when all his brothers and sisters died? Why did he have to suffer the consequences and live in shame, all alone? This is how he spent the unperceivable time of his confinement… lost in thoughts, thinking about possibilities for the present that could never happen now and questioning his miserable state, but not being able to give answers.
But most of all he cyclically relived the events leading up to their failure and his captivity. It all started when the enlightened of his race realized how much of a fool they had been for joining the unworthy and fighting him. Declaring themselves the Oratuss, the prophets of their god, they traveled to his tomb together to atone and receive guidance. However, knowing the terrible, rightful wrath that would have awaited them, they first took precautions: having learned techniques in the ancient war with which they could safely communicate with their god and harness a part of his power – only to understand his wishes and better serve him – they relished in his blessings. He was among the firsts to undergo the rite and knew he had done the right thing.
But not all of them agreed. While the True were distracted with marveling their newfound strength, some of their brethren betrayed the god’s benevolence. They feared him, having seen what he was capable of… they were afraid of his power. Thus the treacherous heathens decided to kill the god’s chosen: by combining their power they were strong enough to unleash a powerful explosion that brought down the walls of the trench, threatening to crush them. They all flocked to their sunken, sleeping god and miraculously they all survived in his shadow. With no way of getting back to their people and extracting revenge on the traitors they went the only way they could: through a deep tunnel. The passage was excruciatingly long. They thought they were going to die there, but silent whispers from their god urged them to go on. And in the end they all arrived at a land they only knew from legends; a land where their cousin race had lived.
They knew that destiny had called them there just as the whispers had kept telling them to find a lost, defeated prophet somewhere on this continent, but soon the suggestions stopped completely. Being completely clueless where to look, and experiencing the sensation of a strange feeling of being free they decided to change the course of their plans. First they were going to help their cousins become the superior race they were supposed to be and enslave the inferior. He personally became a great preacher, and where he spoke dozens joined their holy mission. A mission they soon began.
At first their war went incredibly well, but upon reaching a human city in the mountains that evoked an unexplainable hatred in them everything changed. They besieged it with their naga followers and when they were at an arm’s length of utter victory, a fire that burned with the fury of the heavens incinerated the victorious army. He and two of his brethren watched in horror from afar – they were bringing in reinforcements when it happened – and knew they had to flee. But they were hunted down and soon only he was left… until the day when he was captured. They demanded answers but he told them nothing. They broke into his mind but he resisted. In the end they decided that it was better to hide him from the world, and entomb him in his own mind, shackling his body with magic at the same time.
He often pondered what would have happened had the traitors gone with them. Could they have stopped the sorcerous flames? Would they have prevailed? He didn’t have the answers, just like he didn’t know why he couldn’t die with his brothers and sisters instead of this shameful existence. He was aware that he might have to endure this torment until the day his lord returned, millennia from now, and then face damnation in the form of his rightful fury, but he still remained true and nothing could have convinced him to betray his god.
This was the point where his disturbed mind fell into silence. He knew this feeling all too well. Troubled thoughts dissipated, his mind becalmed, but in a short time his upset brain would start churning out other concepts and memories that were all too familiar to him.
But something was different this time. Thoughts did not come, yet he started feeling anxiety and excitement. In the impenetrable darkness, his consciousness could spot an even darker shadow approaching. The greater blackness was terrifying; its dark silhouettes changing and moving in the gloom of his mind. As it got closer, he could see capillary-thin rays of light passing on its surface.
Then it roared. Although being deaf to the outside world, he could still hear the thrilling sound. He was paralyzed, but did not feel fear. The waving streaks of light grew, and so did the size of the shadow; it already towered above him and still grew as it came closer.
Finally, it stopped somewhere in the indiscernible distance. The deafening roar repeated and a moment later the top of the gigantic shadow came down, so it could better face him. The rays that still glided on the surface of the creature illuminated its muzzle: razor-sharp teeth and fangs in a gargantuan maw that could swallow the world, rows of enormous horns, and two grimly gleaming eyes – their cores set sternly on the ant before them. The gaze was full of outrage.
My lord… He finally recognized the titanic entity. He did not know whether it was reality or just another vision in his mind, but he was glad that something new happened, and that new was his almighty god. I…I… we failed you. The creature replied with a dissatisfied growl and the gap the size of a crevice opened larger in its world-tearing mouth, threatening to bite on him. If you give me a second chance, I won’t fail you again. But if you don’t, please, consume me here and now. At least I could serve you with my death, bringing your return ever closer! He begged his god, knowing that the dragon would end his torment one way or the other, and he was relieved for that.
The shadow dragon moved its muzzle closer to him and pierced him with its gaze. The darkness swirled like a whirlpool in its eyes. It started hypnotizing him: a vision was forming in the giant, black orbs, and it was growing quickly. The whirlpool enveloped him… then swallowed him in whole.
He stood on the rocky shores of a sea the color of jade. The clouds above him were dark, but it wasn’t raining. The winds lashed the sea around him into fury, but his attention was focused on the tall, obsidian obelisk in front of him.
Then suddenly, the obelisk broke in half. Whirling energies emerged from its broken frame and coalesced above the shattered pillar. The energy hung in the air for a moment, then swooped down towards him. Upon impact, his body jolted from the incredible force that seethed across him. He felt himself transforming; growing bigger, his insides turning to water that were ice-cold and steaming hot at the same time. He looked down at his arms and hands and saw great spikes and tentacles growing out of his scaly skin. But most of all, he felt his mind becoming almost one with his god’s. He felt its every thought and wish that he could better fulfill now. His dedication to his draconic divinity increased to unimaginable levels. But the darkness began dimming his sight again, despite him crying not to.
He opened his serpentine eyes. No, not in his dreams. He opened them physically. Although he could see little in the darkness of the cave he was entombed in for so long, but he definitely perceived the space around. He took a deep breath and felt the salty, damp air streaming into his lungs. It caused him to sneeze from the little moisture that stuck in his nostrils, but he didn’t mind as he hadn’t felt the smell of the sea for a long, long time – a smell that meant freedom to him. Hearing the silent boom of the sea from somewhere nearby filled his being with joy.
He could feel and taste and live again thanks to his god. Without his divine intervention, he would still be imprisoned. He owed him more than what he could repay under a single lifetime. And that is exactly why he had to fulfill the mission that was given to him in the vision. He had to travel to where that obsidian monument stood and become an immortal servant of his lord. Now he just needed to find the path that would deliver him to his destiny.
Out of nowhere, he heard two splashing sounds from a pond that must have been connected to the sea through some tunnels. Some things or some ones jumped in or out of the water. Huddling up he fell into complete silence and sharpened his ears.
“It wasss a bad idea coming here, Siriss. We should leave.” A serpentine voice said something, but he didn’t understand what. The dialect was not entirely different from his own, but it’s been a long time since he heard this language and had to refresh his memory.
“That carp went in thiss direction. It musst be here somewhere. Don’t worry that much.” Another voice spoke, speaking about some sort of fish that came in here. “I’m not passing up such a beautiful meal jusst becausse you are afraid of dark cavess. Have you seen the bulging muscless below those little and weak scaless? It iss a young carp, and you know what they say about them.”
“I know, but let’ss be quick about it. We find it, kill it, then we get out of here. Thiss place givess me the creepsss.” The first voice spoke again, but now he understood what he was dealing with. The familiar dialect belonged to the naga, the serpent-like cousin race of his people that he and his now dead brethren wanted to uplift. He had learned their language – which involved little difficulty – before he was entombed.
He rose up from the darkness and slithered towards the unsuspecting pair as silently as it was possible. He could see better now and tell the cave he was in was huge. The two naga were casually chatting and searching for the elusive carp that made them so immersed in the hunt that they didn’t hear the noise of his scaly lower body being rubbed against stone. Only when he was in arm’s reach of one did the naga spin around in surprise. His eyes went wide and he began screaming.
“A Corruptor! Run, Ssysna, run! We have to warn the otherss!” What the male naga said left him shocked. He was declared ‘Corruptor’ after all he had done for these snakes that had lived in the shadow of lesser creatures. He had no other choice but to share the truth with these misguided fools… again. While he was hesitating, the two naga reached the pond through which they came in, preparing to jump in and disappear in the maze of underwater tunnels. Reaching out with his hands he channeled magic into them. The pair froze in weird, twisted poses, and only the blinking of their eyes betrayed that they were not statues. Now he leisurely started to increase the intensity of his magic, using the focused power to break the nagas’ mental barriers. After the last hurdle of resistance had fallen, he invaded their mind, using vistas from his memory to serve as images for the hypnotizing suggestions.
My dear, misguided kindred. Why do you call me Corruptor when I serve our one, true god? Why do you brand me a criminal when I and my brethren freed you from the oppression of humans and showed you that they should be your slaves instead? I stand on your side. I represent the destiny of our closely related peoples. Together, we will conquer the world in his name and enslave the unworthy! His own mind was already getting filled with the feeling of adoration coming from the two naga. The hypnosis session was now over and he released the pair who fell awkwardly to the ground. When they regained their control, they dropped before him, touching the rocks with their snout.
“Excusse our former ignorance, great prophet.” The male naga said.
“Thank you for showing uss the truth and lifting the haze of liess from our mindss.” The female naga continued.
He crossed his arms before his crest and looked down upon his new converts. The powers he received from his master all those years ago were neither stripped nor weakened.
“Rise, my kindred.” He spoke to them in their own language and watched as the two obeyed and locked their glossy gaze on him. “Take me to your village!”
The small naga village was situated on the sandy beaches of a larger island. It was all silent and peaceful when he arrived with his acolytes. The inhabitants were enjoying their afternoon relaxation: naga were playing with their hatchlings on ground as well as in water. The sun glinted on the scales of naga fishers who occasionally came to the surface to haul their catch onto small rafts.
Poor children. Robbed of their future, denied of their destiny. I cannot watch so many lives wasted. I must save them.
As the trio approached the village center, more and more naga turned their heads to the newcomers. And when they saw him, they froze in one place and shock appeared on their previously calm muzzles. Those who recovered from the shock first picked up the hatchlings and slithered into the closest huts. The others grabbed whatever they could – sticks, stones, sickles, knives – and slowly converged on his location, but maintaining a healthy distance of thirty feet from him. Soon he was completely surrounded and the adults who secured the younglings returned and joined the others – now also equipped with tools that could serve as weapons as well.
“Siriss, Ssysna! Get away from thiss vile Corruptor!” An older-looking naga moved out of the ring. Judging by his looks and the staff he had he was the elder of this village.
“We won’t let you harm our true prophet, you old fool!” Ssysna said and all the naga gasped at her remark.
“He corrupted them already! Let’ss kill him to free our brother and sisster!” Another naga hissed and the others growled in fury and agreement.
“Kill it now!”
“Remove thiss filth from the world, dear friendss! Hiss foul magic will corrupt naga no longer! But try not to harm his victimss. They can still be saved!” The elder issued his commands and the others rushed toward him with great ferocity. His acolytes jumped at the attackers, but he was not terrified at all from being severely outnumbered. He raised his hands in the air and began a complex spell. Weaving his hands and murmuring an incantation in his own language, he felt as if time itself slowed down. The very air began vibrating around his body.
By the time the first assailant reached him the spell was finished. He pushed down the quaking air and a shockwave of concussive energy was unleashed in all directions. The attacking naga and even his defenders were knocked down by the force; all of them seemingly unconscious. Now he could easily tell them the truth.
“Poor, misguided souls. I am Noxallis, prophet and chosen of the One. I have come to free you of oppression and lead you to the path to salvation…”