The Elder Son — Chapter I
A nightmarish prelude to an even more horrific reality.
Aûm akkaniai akhan.
Andred’s eyes opened as she awoke to the sound of her own screams. The dark sky wheeled overhead at an unnatural speed. Shrouded stars traversed the cosmos irregularly, as if reflected in a pond disturbed by ripples. She sat up. A veil hung over the world, distorting reality and time.
As she looked around her, the dim light of the veiled stars barely illuminated the silent wasteland she found herself in. Last year seemed aeons ago, and the people she knew were mere shadows and ghosts. The world that she once knew was only an unending plain of dust and ash beneath her feet.
Without purpose, she began to walk. The vast emptiness of the sky whispered with an unseen malice once again.
Aûr ghai ghorleth. Atatakhai krûl. Agûnai krûl.
The final syllable rang with her anguished scream. The voice pierced her like a shard of ice through her soul.
Although the sky wheeled overhead, it brought with it no promise of dawn. Only the fragments of the now-shattered moon could be seen overhead. Unmoving.
Andred could scarcely believe the horror and madness that had engulfed the world in the past year, and yet the memory affected her not. In such a distorted reality as she found herself in, she could only be numb. It was as if it was all a dream: a nightmarish prelude to an even more horrific reality.
Aûm akkaniai akhan, aértal.
Shrieking, she stumbled on in no particular direction, but found that up ahead loomed a shadow darker than the night itself. It was in the shape of a man, bent and clad in ragged clothing. About his feet was a sickly reddish light that went with him.
She followed him as he walked, neither getting closer nor closing the distance, regardless of her pace. At length, he disappeared like an extinguished candle. Like smoke in the wind. She stopped immediately, gripped by a sudden terror. Ice clutched at her heart as she heard the voice again.
Inai Lôktal. Aûm akkaniai akhan. Atatakhai krûl. Agûnai krûl, aértal.
The voice ripped through her mind like the Chaos Winds of legend. She clutched at her ears but it continued to resonate in her head like the pounding of a great drum.
Aûm akkaniai akhan.
She regained consciousness on her knees, her hands still clutched to her ears. She found herself kneeling before the ragged man, who was sitting by a small fire.
The numbness slowly returned, and she observed the man before her. He was hooded and swathed in a great black ragged cloak. The hood was pulled down low, and a long grey beard was all that could be seen protruding from his shadowed face.
Beside him was a bag of hide, filled with objects of varied shapes and sizes.
‘Who are you?’ she asked.
He laughed softly, and replied in a hoarse voice, ‘I could ask you the same question. I thought that none survived, and yet here you are.’
He reached into the bag and threw an object onto the fire. It immediately burst into brighter flames, but for a moment it appeared to Andred as if it was a human bone.
‘I need not ask you for your name. You are Andred. And, if I am not mistaken, you are the only one to have survived. A strange chance that you should be so favoured. Or do you rather feel cursed not to be among the resting dead?’
Andred could not reply. Although she perceived that it was he who spoke, it was as though his voice rose from the ground at his feet, rather than from under his black hood.
Andred! Aûm akkaniai akhan!
She shuddered with barely-controlled horror, forcing herself to hold back her screams.
‘Ah, you can hear him too? You are indeed blessed, Andred, to hear his voice. And he speaks to you, and you alone. Do you not feel honoured that he should call to you by name?’
Andred slowly looked up at the old man. His voice was deep and harsh, yet hoarse with old age. Although she could see no eyes, she felt his gaze piercing her, and she could only return it with silence.
The old man reached into the bag again, this time clearly throwing another bone onto the fire. A piercing white light radiated from his small fire briefly, before it died down again.
‘You are familiar with the legend of the Great Serpent, are you not?’ asked the old man. Andred was still frozen in terror, and could not speak.
‘Then I am sure that you are by now aware that he was no mere legend. All the prophecies that you and your people so casually dismissed have come true. From the depths of the cosmos he came. He shattered the moon, uprooted the earth itself, he drove mankind insane, and he devoured the sun.’
Inai Lôktal, Andred. Aûm akkaniai akhan. Inai aûr atatakh. Inai aûr agûn.
‘He has spared you, but not out of mercy, I can assure you. You are to be the witness to the final act of this world before he unleashes the chaos winds that will pound into dust and ash all that once was.’
Inai aûr agûn, Andred!
‘Patience’, whispered the old man. From within the bag he brought out a skull and held it before him, paying no heed to Andred, who still knelt before him, shuddering.
The veiled stars above flickered as if disturbed.
‘Ah, father’, he said softly to the skull, ‘Even in death, I know I am not mistaken. After I consumed your flesh, I knew it could not be enough. The ashes of your bones shall forever mark the end, and Andred will be the last witness, to the end of all things.’
At last, Andred summoned the strength to speak once more.
‘Who are you?’
The old man chuckled softly and turned his gaze upon her. From underneath his ragged black hood she saw the pale light of two malicious eyes glinting at her.
The veil over the world dropped, and the unleashed Winds of Chaos came crashing down upon them.
‘My name is Lôk.’
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(Image: Desert Ruins by Blinck, from deviantart.com)
Originally published at adamrcw.blogspot.com on December 6, 2016.