A commission for the awesome ~WanderingPariah
. His characters Kayin and Leonus... I will not say much more than that because ~WanderingPariah
has done something super awesome and written an epic short story snippet for this piece.
I really enjoyed working on this, it was a very fun scene to depict.
-------------------------Sacrifice has always had value. Importance not simply in a ritual role, but also as a tactical asset. It is both, and the same at once. Since the earliest days of existence, sacrifice has always carried immense power. A sacrifice is move giving up a piece in the hopes of gaining compensation in other forms. So once a sacrificial play has been considered and committed to, there is no going back. There is no altering a stratagem or concealing a bluff. Once it is made, it is the determination of the opponent to gauge the will and the intensity of the other play by way of understanding the significance of such a strategy. It is beneath all things, a clash of conviction and calculation. Though a sacrifice can create potential where none seemed possible before, it is never to be done so lightly or casually.
-Attributed to the Philosophers of the Earliest Aegypt Dynast; Ref. Platocian.
Circa The beginning of the 2nd Millennium.
There is little time to think, as Kayin lets his body guide him, muscles bunching and pushing - breaking the laws of physics where they dare and in other places, bending them. He leaps upwards, outwards: supine grace of a being that goes beyond perfect, beyond the theoretical potential of mortal coil. Such perfection can only be engineered.
His spinning course pulls him away from what was moments before stone cliff face. It is now atomized dust and seething plasma, burning brighter than a star's fury. Elemental energy conjured from etherium has reduced a ziggarat's worth of stone and beach head into little more than dust and melted slag, molten rock runs in rivers to meet the sea; steam boiling up from the tortured joining of two elemental forces that should not superimpose.
Though he is fast, he is not fast enough to out run heat light and magnetism. The shock and compression wave from the monumental blast hurl the white wolf outward, onto the burning sands of Haven. The force of the blast has spared his life. He is not vapor, so the only other supposition he is able to arrive at with any definition is that he is alive, still.
Kayin stands, shaking. Not from exhaustion or nerve damage. He is beyond nerve damage, shell shock and disorientation. He has existed to this point not because of luck. He is the apex of perfection. His fur is a star contrast: unblemished snow white fur - the first fall of the season, marked and partitioned by an ancient alchemy of magic. Magic beyond mortal ken. Magic beyond age. The first magic. The old magic. It is the story of his beginning. It is the story of his end. It is not a story he has ever told anyone. No soul should ever have to bear such a story.
Gray eyes are framed, by silk white hair. They are eyes of an elder. Kindly eyes of a father, storm clouds bound in perfect orbs; wistful and all at once familiar. They look beyond, far beyond and all the while they hold you in their rapturous gaze. They are eyes that reveal only endlessness beneath. A regal snout, canine features cast in Herculean and Homeric perfection. He has a patient quality, unto a mountain in its depths; a fierceness that bellies his nature as a wolf. There is cunning and cleverness that glints in the swagger of his stature and the curl of his lip.
No, within Kayin burns a cauldron of insensate anger. In retrospect, he will understand that it is unlike any emotion he has ever experienced before on such a magnitude. It is a fruition of betrayal and malice. It is total as it is unstoppable. Kayin does not have long to regard these apriori understandings, because Kayin does not have much longer to live.
He is standing as the shadow passes over him. It passes over all of Haven because the shadow is not a shadow at all. It has many names, over the ages. It is The Golden. The Pure. The Truth. The Wheel of Heaven. The Bringer of Light. The Star Ascendant. It is Leonus. It is the last of the Elder Dragons. It's true name is too long and too complex for mortal tongue to pronounce or form for it is of the Old Ones. From a time when names were potent and held worth. It is the last keeper of the old ways and the old knowledges from an old world that few now can remember. He is the last scion of the great houses of D'uur. He was the last of Kayin's students to ascend. And he is the last thing that any of Haven will see, etched into their burning memories as he rendered the paradise world into flame and ash.
Kayin is looking up, his face a mask of defiance. The world he has built is crumbling around him. He knows that it too like all things will fade. He is aware he has a duty remaining. All around him, the world dies. The waters scald and boil into super heated steam only to precipitate back down as toxic rain. The stones and earth are being atomised or scorched into ugly glass. The forests are burning. Dying. Life is bleeding, literally, from the world.
All the while, Kayin buys time for those remaining to escape. The attack had come - whether by destiny or surprise, it did not matter. It was fact now.
Kayin spreads his arms wide, a gesture of openness made war like. He is defiant. There is no argument to be made any longer. All please of arresting this devastation died long ago. With the first wave of fire, killing thousands. Thousands more have died since, millions. Yet Millions yet have escaped into the webways and the by ways and the hidden ways. All at cost.
The Dragon looks down, taking in the devastation he has wrought and finds it good. This is his moment. This is he remaking into something new, something more. The old ways will be returned. He knows this. He has seen it. He has been shown it. This is the firs step down the path. This is the sacrifice that was required of him. Nothing is for free in the world. In any world.
Leonus' eyes burn with incandescent hatred. Malice given form and light. Light was no the right word. The right idea. Un-light. Neither darkness nor light, something of neither. It was vile. "Let this world and all your vaunted lies burn." he murmured, like echoing thunder across the wasted landscape. The words were the death knell, the tolling bell across the sacntum. Towers collapsed and ancient structures of marble and marvel folded in on themselves like straw in a windstorm. Clouds of dust chocking and asphyxiating the now empty city. Empty save for the dead and the dying.
Kayin shakes his head. He pulls from the world around him the strength which he gifted it. He takes back all he dares. He must find more time where there is none to be had. The world responds in kind and he feels an old, familiar feeling through his being. He is tied to it once more, the bond drawing ever more. Kayin has been fighting this war now for several hours. He has lost track of time. He has been fighting this war all his existence. The next several minutes will test him beyond any of those life times.
Kayin is standing. Pinions of ethereal white light unfold from existence behind him, brought to life by the arcane magics and essence he draws through the world. The world around Kayin glows brightly, charged in sympathy by his rise to action. His call of need. From light and need they come, horns grow predominantly and powerfully from his brow, the story written in magic across his body glows with eldritch light and terrible power. Kayin's eyes find a hard edged quality to them. A hyper lethal quality. The world around him is bathed in white light, effulgence met with the harsh ruddy glare of the conflagration around him that consumes Haven.
Kayin commits, totally. Completely. Emotion stirs within him, the desire to find his pupil somewhere lost in the dread entity before him. Yet, he knows, he will not. Laughter, cold and encompassing, greets him as he looks skyward.
"At last" Leonus growls, power building there between his horns for what he knows is to come next.
Kayin glances upwards and with that, he ascends towards his nemesis on wings of light and rage. He is the Oncoming storm. He is a bad star, falling from earth to heaven; his plummet in reverse. He is ascendant. He is magnificent. He is the pinacle of a being that has out grown their mortality and wears it as a badge of humility. He is a God amongst lesser beings, and though he is dwarfed by the Dragon raised above him in size, he meets it as an equal in stature.
It is the sound of a terminal war.
Leonus sets himself to slaying the world.
Something has changed here. Nothing can change the course he has set in motion, Leonus knows this, and yet his former mentor has salvaged something from this ritual slaying. Leonus does not know what it is, or what it could be, but he knows that something persists.