My first short story about my necromancer character, Vorel Ashurha. In this short installment, she gains the mark of a dark god.
The hot desert winds sent sand scouring her fur as it whipped about the dunes in a fury. The moon shone high in the evening sky, casting an ethereal silver glow upon the landscape. No stars shown in the empty space above the jackal, adding to her increasing sense of danger and unease. Otherworldly lights danced in the distance; orbs of shifting color against the backdrop, flashing every color known to man and even some from a horrible palette never seen in her realm. Something was not right in this strange land, something was out of place... As if summoned by her paranoid thoughts, before her suddenly stood the abnormally tall, cloaked figure who had been plaguing her dreams for the past few nights. The very air trembled as pregnant clouds began to gather, filling her ears with the deep growl of thunder, threatening to build to a ferocious roar given enough time. Every hair on her sleek body stood on end as she waited, silently, to see what would happen. When he finally spoke, she noticed his voice had a peculiar sound- like stone grinding against stone.
“Rashida. Your actions this eve have drawn my attention. It is not many mortals who can slay one of my kind.”
“I… Lord, I slew nothing. That was all Aaron and Q, I-”
“Silence.” He withdrew a gnarled hand from the folds of his sleeve, revealing skin as black as her fur, dotted with a myriad of stars and swirling nebulae floating about in his unnatural flesh. With careful, deliberate movements, he carved a symbol into the soft flesh of her forehead with a gleaming claw, eliciting a cry of pain and surprise from the Faunan before him.
“Sleep, Deathmage. I will have use for you in the future.” Vorel wiped the blood from her eyes, glaring at the horrible creature before her with as much hatred as she could muster in her glowing eyes. As she prepared to make a retort, he exploded in an all-consuming black void that devoured all light, all sound, all hope… The tiny stars floating in his flesh shot towards her, through her, piercing her suit of false flesh, igniting her form in searing agony as ages of constellations tore their way through her, burning the woman’s very spirit. Blind, burning, she tilted her head back and screamed out her unending rage and misery.
“Vorel, wake up!” A hand on her shoulder, shaking her awake. The scent of the ocean on the breeze. Warmth on her fur. Home? Warily she opened her golden eyes, surveying her surroundings. Ah, just as she suspected- back in her own bedroom. The familiar gold and black color scheme greeted her like an old friend, but the thing that calmed her nerves the most was the face of her exotic lover, Valgar. Leaning halfway off the bed (and therefore halfway parting her gossamer golden curtains, allowing a stunning view of the sunrise), his body seemed almost god-like. The changes from his Outerling blood suited him well- from the denser muscles, to the purple scales inlaid with intricate green patterns. He had many changes, but her favorite aside from the flexible scaling where his white fur once was and unnaturally long claws were his eyes- an almost toxic green in color, with hourglass-shaped pupils: a sign of Kakonomian’s quick caress.
“Is something wrong, Valgar?”
“You… You were screaming… It was terrifying.” The look of concern on his face touched the Queen, melting away the remnants of terror from her vision.
“It was a dream, and nothing more. I am fine now, I think...”
“Out of curiosity, may I know what it was about?” She reiterated her strange dream to him, noting the troubled expression on his features as she reached the end.
“The frog-thing in the Undercity?”
“Yes. Tsathoggua. Whatever this man who haunts my dreams is, he is of the same ilk as that monstrosity.” She let her gaze wander to the door to her balcony, overlooking the vast city of Ezba Khamis.
“Come, Valgar, I want to show you something.” She beckoned him to the railed-in extension of her sleeping quarters, her robed form elegantly striding to the ornate glass doors that had been opened by her handmaidens at dawn’s first light. Vorel pointed towards the docks, under construction after their battle with the giant frog-god known as Tsathoggua. A shambling army of corpses was working twenty-four hours a day to rebuild their port, under the watchful eye of a Risen Faunan with the head and fur of a yak. Being the master of the Necromantic arts as she was, the Queen had written a spell to create true risen such as her self; however, Risen she awaken are an extension of her power and utterly subservient to her, although they retain a will and free thought of their own. This silent, surveying guard was one such being. With him, the renovations were assured.
“My creations work tirelessly. Within a month our port will be better than it had been before its annihilation. I raised these slaves from those who fell before the power of the God; those driven utterly insane by his screams were given to Q as alchemical fodder. Yet my people follow me unquestioningly. Why is that? Am I simply a better ruler than my mother? Is it because they fear me?”
“Does it matter? They obey you, they are complacent and content with their lives. They cause no riots, no commotion, and they live generally happy lives. Befouling the workers keeps our city free of disease and stench. Why do you question this?” She sighed, her shoulders drooping with fatigue.
“Saving our world is not enough; Now my dreams are stalked by some other-dimensional deity. I want to be wary, but I know he can give me the power I crave so thoroughly if I assist him. I’m at a loss.” Valgar’s eyes glimmered in their sockets, and he mimicked her usual sly smirk.
"Answers in the Deep?
"Yes... Answers in the Deep."
Among the Queen’s extensive wardrobe, she kept her nearly ancient exploration ensemble consisting of her ripped and tattered black cloak and similar robe. Donning this with a bit of nostalgia, she took her lover by the hand and began leading him through the expansive palace. No curious eyes glanced at them as they wound their way through the halls, moving toward the basement with determination etched on their features. All in all, the jackal monarch wished they could stop and admire the beautifully designed building, considering she had only been ruler for roughly a week, but times was pressing. As they neared the hall, she took a detour into one of the darker areas of her home. Inside resided her handmaidens, hand-picked from the dwellers below to serve and obey her whims. Like Valgar, they were Deep Spawn- evolved versions of the creatures residing beneath the palace. Clothed in black silks, with veils to hide their otherworldly reptilian appearance, the other members of the staff avoided them like the plague. From the lot she selected three of them, beckoning them to follow the pair of them as they continued their trek. Before too long they arrived in the dark, disused corridor containing the door to the cellar. Vorel led them inside and navigated their way through the rows of crates, rugs, vases, and other various items in storage. At last they stood above the ornate trap door leading to the Undercity. It was made of the same other-worldly black stone as the horrid temple beneath the desert sands of Turkey- although it differed in decoration. The same monstrous carvings danced upon its surface, accented with gold filigree. Rubies glittered in deformed sockets and snarling maws dripped tiny emeralds. Beneath this horrifying door was the twisting caverns that led to the city of subterranean creatures known as Deep Ones, the resulted offspring when G'gel'hrekth enter the realm of Laodisia and breed with its inhabitants. Tentacle-covered beasts from an outer dimension, their children come in all shapes and sizes with various deformities. The former Lady Ashura, Vorel’s mother, had made a pact for everlasting life with these creatures in exchange for her soul. Although she had no idea how her mother had discovered the city beneath Ezba Khamis, she was grateful- if not for this hidden world, they never would have gathered the information needed for the ritual to face the outer god Kakonomian. She broke away from her reverie and nodded to her reptilian mate, who used his newly-developed muscles to pull the square fixture open. The scent of mildew accompanied the blast of icy air that greeted the troupe clustered around the entrance. The Queen took a deep breath.
“Well then.. Shall we?” With a sly grin, Valgar stuck out his pointed violet tongue at his lover and leapt into the inky blackness below.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Vorel chuckled, motioning for her handmaidens to follow and she began the descent down the iron ladder.
Ignoring the labyrinthine offshoots as they made their way into the nether depths of the earth, they continued on down the seemingly endless ladder, pausing only when they reached its end. Before them lay a deep, still body of water that filled most of the cavern. Calm though it was, Vorel and Valgar knew that it was this pool’s strongest deception. The powerful undertow had nearly killed the suit of flesh Q had made for her, and she would have been lost to time if Valgar hadn’t used the powers of his race to save her. She held up her hand, signaling her maids to stop, and began to chant.
“Sin’gala Othyrun N’tirua Damuk!” The glassy surface of the pool began to churn as a golden boat rose from its depths. Shaped much like the frog-god Tsathoggua, it was large enough to accommodate all five of them. One by one they filed in, sitting on its benches wrought with carvings of the creature’s “great’ deeds. Bowing her head, Vorel stood at the prow and muttered soft words under her breath, guiding the craft across the deadly waters. When they reached the other side, she waved a clawed hand and sent the boat back down through the pool to its original resting place. There was a strong orange glow coming from the entrance to the cavern ahead of them, throwing ghastly shadows across the jagged walls of the hidden stone chamber. Upon entering said cavern, the jackal grinned and took a sit on the stone floor, surrounded by hundreds of bioluminescent fungi. Gently, she tapped one with her foot, sending a shower of glowing spores into to the air. She chuckled.
“Shall we rest for a while? N’tirua isn’t going anywhere.”
“That sounds like a wonderful idea, my love. Ladies, do you mind?” They shook their heads and averted their eyes from their king.
“Sounds unanimous to me.” She laid her cloak down in the clearing and curled up to sleep, resting her back against Valgar for comfort. The Deep Spawn male sat upright, guarding the sleeping women and listening to the bustle of the city beneath them. Hours he waited, watched, until he began to hunger. Glancing about, he cursed himself for not packing nourishment for their group as his stomach let loose a powerful growl.
“Well,” he thought, “I suppose I am surrounded by food…” Using a claw to sever the stems, he picked a handful of the mushrooms and ate heartily.
“Valgar. I knew you’d return to me eventually.” The young man slowly opened his eyes. Before him stood a towering man, with a strangely divided face- One half was the shape of a normal man‘s, but composed entirely of whirling, clattering gears and cogs; clockwork. The other half is like a man‘s face, but…not. It‘s as solid as fog, trailing behind him, stretching on through infinity… He was adorned in a robe of deepest red, a large shattered hourglass in one hand dropping blood into it’s bottom. A cacophonous ticking filled his sensitive pointed ears- clapping his webbed hands over them did not even dampen the maddening noise.
“No… Kakonomian… I.. Leave me in peace!” the half-breed screamed, tearing his hands away from his head and swiping at the god before him. A deep, rumbling laughter permeated the incessant ticking and seemed to spear him through.
“You are mine now, child. You’ve devoured the Timeless Ones. Not even your necromancer can free you from my control.”
“T-Timeless ones? What-” Kakonomian opened his massive palm to reveal the glowing orange fungi. Here, in his world, they were the shriveled husks of beings he had decimated and collected, screaming, spraying blood when touched instead of the spores in the world Valgar hailed from. Each glowed with a sickly orange light, shuddering, afraid.
“Beauty is relative, don’t you agree? Funny how Lady Ashura finds these to be a delight… I’ll enjoy adding her to my collection. Now, G’rthk’lyl. I want you to do exactly as I say…”
“I forgot how much I hate sleeping on stone. God, my back is killing me. Hey. Valgar, wake up!” Vorel nudged him playfully with her foot, smiling. With his back to her, he stood up and stretched his muscles and bones- the resounding pops and snaps echoed through the cave, prompting a smile from the usually stoic handmaidens.
“Shall we continue on, Rashida?” Vorel scowled at him, crossing her arms across her chest angrily.
“Don’t call me that- it’s what SHE named me.”
“As you wish, my Queen. May we continue now?”
“… Of course…”
“Good. I will lead the way.” With that, Valgar started toward the ruined Drow city that lay between them and their destination. This was strange behavior for the usually laid-back, boastful ranger. The jackal bit her lip, curious as to what could cause such a change.
‘Valgar… Did I do something wrong? You’re acting differently all of a sudden…” He turned to her, grinning, his eyes a glowing… orange. “Erm… Your eyes… Why..” She raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“It’s nothing, I promise. I just ate some of those delicious mushrooms. The spores had a slight side effect, that’s all.”
“Oh… Alright…” Ash’kiyn, one of her maidens, reassured her in the language of the Undercity hat he was fine and not to be afraid for him. The queen nodded, visibly more at ease with the word of this woman. The road down to the ruins was at least a mile long, but it was easy traveling since the road was clear. Valgar had made visible progress in restoring the outskirts to their former glory; the fire damage was almost entirely gone, as was the rubble from fallen buildings and the corpses of the citizens who lost their lives. No one bothered them or attacked them, for every denizen of this subterranean land knew them to be brimming with power. Every now and then one of the five beings caught the glimmer of eyes from windows or shadowed alleys, but the feeling was more curiosity than hostility. After about and hours’ walk, they came at last to a vast expanse of dank water. Miles beneath this was the city of N’tirua, the golden dwelling of the god Tsathoggua and the Deep Spawn such as Valgar and the maids. Vorel repeated the chant to summon the water-chariot.
“Sin’gala Othyrun N’tirua Damuk!” A twin to the vessel raised from the smaller pool appeared with much churning and splashing of liquid. Once again, they filed in and took seats, with Vorel standing at the bow chanting. A shimmering, black shield encased their ghastly ferry as it dove them beneath the crashing waves. For hours they rode, watching the strange, shapeless creatures, tentacle-ridden horrors, and mutated fish swim by, eating, fighting, breeding, bleeding into the water and even occasionally trying to attack their boat. The cobalt light cast around them gave the whole ordeal an otherworldly feel, as though they had fallen outside of their time. As the gleaming city loomed closer, Valgar began muttering under his breath and fidgeting fiercely. One of the maidens touched his arm and he calmed, still muttering but resting his ceaseless movements. Their vessel glided into the golden archway flanked by statues of a large, frog-like beings- Effigies of Tsathoggua. This arch led into a tunnel which ended in a sort of dock, above the water line. The whole city was protected by a shield of the type that protected them on the Damuk, the boat. This allowed oxygen-breathers, such as Vorel’s flesh suit, to survive in the vast city. They stepped out onto a floor of polished marble inlaid with precious gems and metals, depicting more scenes of Tsathoggua’s exploits.
“Wow… He must have really been full of himself,” Lady Ashura mused to herself as they began their trek back to the area where they had discovered the golden discs containing the last piece of information for the ritual. It did not take long, for it had been in the very center of N’tirua, beneath the sleeping form of the frog-god. The pedestal remained pushed aside, revealing a marble staircase to the vast chamber beneath. She entered first, her Dead Sight allowing her to see the room as though it was light by many lanterns. Shelves of books lined the walls, of varying age and material, all perfectly preserved. Strange magic artifacts rested on display cases or tables, gleaming, pristine and unmolested by any sort of hands. Near the center of the room, on a stand carved from apparently one giant garnet, rested a lone book. This book was bound in the flesh of an elder being. Its pages were tanned skin from the various races of Laodisia. Its inks? Blood laced with gold. This book was powerful; emanating a strange violet aura that shimmered in the gloom. Etched in this book were the names of all the outer horrors that had interfered with the realm, leaving their mark in some way. As Vorel neared, her forehead began to ache with a blinding pain. She fell to her knees as one name echoed in her ears- Sot-Amenthotep. The letters swirled before her closed eyes as she grasped her head, crying out in pain. Seeing her weakened, watching her learn the immensity of what occurred in her dream, Valgar grinned.
Vorel didn’t hear a sound as her mate rushed toward her with ungodly speed. Before she could utter the word “what”, his powerful claws had grasped her throat and slammed her against the wall. His scales creaked and groaned with the tensing of his muscles beneath them, his fangs bared in an evil smile as he squeezed tighter and tighter.
“Val-…Gar… Can’t… Wh…”
“Shut UP, you insufferable cunt. My name is not Valgar. It never was. I am G’rthk’lyl, servant of He Who Is Both Time and Timeless. You and your pathetic assortment of so-called ‘heroes’ are at an end. The Mark of Nyarlathotep cannot protect you; I will be glad to destroy a favored of his. My master will reward me beyond all imagination!” The half-breed’s eyes were unfocused, glowing, sightless. Vorel knew terror then, realizing he was not in control of himself. There was no chance of survival- at that moment, Valgar was gone. Kakonomian had somehow gotten control of him once again. She dug her claws into his skin, trying to break free before she was forced to truly harm him.
“We could have aided him… Been his chosen harbingers. We could have brought him into this world to thrive! We could have ruled millions! But no. You ignored me. You decided you were beyond aiding him. You decided to DESTROY him! And now, I will ensure he has your head.” The man’s grip tightened as he drew up his bladed tail and whipped it across her throat. The suit she wore to cover her true body went limp in the grasp of his hands, and she loosed a hollow, throaty laugh.
“You forgot one thing, Kak. I’m already fucking dead.” She placed her hands on his wrists and grinned her half-skeletal smile, forming the words of the spell she intended to cast in her mind. Drawing up every ounce of power contained within her body, she flooded her lover with entropic energy. His body began to wither and decay, drying out, dying before her eyes. His purple scales turned black before her might, cracking, splitting, falling away from his skin as his eyes and tongue crumbled into dust, destroying the orange glow.
“Let go of him, Kakonomian, or so help me god I will ensure your enslavement when we meet face to face. He does NOT belong to you! Valgar is MINE!” With a final burst of energy he fell to the floor, shattering in a cloud of dust as the resounding cacophony of millions of ticking clocks entwined with an inhuman scream tore through the small museum.
The queen gathered up her dead flesh and stepped back into it, muttering a spell to mend the rips and relying on her artifact to rejuvenate the alchemical body. She slumped to the floor and fumbled with her satchel, removing an Ether and drinking deeply. As she felt her powers return, she knelt in the dust of her lover and began to chant in the Archaic language of magic, moving her hands over the remains and bathing them in a warm, white light. After a few moments, there was a searing flash of brightness; as it faded, it revealed the sleeping form of Valgar. Carefully, she lifted his one of his eyelids (and slid the second one beneath it open to the side) and inspected his irises. Green, just as they should be. She called to her handmaidens and had them bear him up the stairs, where she slit a portal into the air with her foreclaw.
“Bear him to my chamber. Care for him, feed him, bathe him. Get the strongest mind-mage in the city to shield him. I’ll be along shortly.” They nodded, lifting him through the shimmering anomaly to the palace on the other side. Vorel once more approached the book, gently tracing a finger among the slick spine.
“So… You are called Sot-Amenthotep…”