He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII
My photo was found here.
(((((HIghly irregular, but an OOC bump in the IC to help people refind this)))))
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Oh good. You found it.
Okay. Missing posts. Forgotten, I think I missed the last one of yours:
Faaaaaacinating. Maxium post lengths now,
"Do not adress me as Lord if you would not serve the greater good. I know your loyalties lay with dragonkin, not myself."
Azgo walked slowly around the altar, standing between Paren and Artun... should things escalate to that. He doubted Paren was so brash, but desperation makes fools of even gods. As Azgo spoke, the altar began sinking into the ground with the gnashing of stone.
"And as for Artun...Yes, he was a servant. But his master abandoned him, as the Firstborn abandoned your kin at the Eternal Volcano to fend for yourselves, and at the Moot. I doubt there was any lost love between the two, and in time, he may be of great use in learning how his master came to be in the first place. Such evils may not be allowed to spawn in the future. And if he does prove hostile..."
The altar sank beneath the earth. Stone warped and broke open to cover the entrance, and if the guests had not seen it with their eyes, they might have swore there had never been any hole.
"We will not being seeing him again. Do not worry, Paren. The Abyss was made to be a prison."
"If you would ask something of me, ask it."
He already knew what Paren had come for, the mortals were all but translucent to him with knowledge.
Paren nodded at Azgo's words. There was little he could do otherwise, here in the heart of the Abyss, than accept Azgo's declaration at face value.
Very well. And know that I use the word Lord as a token of respect for your obvious authority and power, not out of any... vassal loyalty.
You wish me to speak plainly. So be it. Allow me to remove the Sun from your domain. Give it to me and it will trouble you no more.
Azgo almost smiled.... Almost. The memory of Pruinus was fresh in his mind, and any distraction was temporary.
"What interesting choice of words. As if it has been a burden that only you could remove."
"I have kept it here, in Guvarah An, in the recesses of my chambers. Waiting... for you. Or someone like you, someone who cares enough for the mortals to brave my... home. I have been to occupied to take it up myself." The Abyss shuddered, from its entrance to the very center of the throne room. "Does it not bother you, Paren? That it is you who has had to suffer to save mortality when Firstborn would stand by, seculded in their illusionary forests, hidden in the veils of apathetic death, watching the world burn?"
"Do you know how many times the suns have been made and unmade? Scattered and forgotten? Why would you build a new sun simply for it to be destroyed again?"
Despite his sorrow, Azgo seemed oddly... refreshed. He had not spoken to a neutral god in ages... only Thereus, and Sa. It was a bitter refreshment though, peaceful, and a reminder of the way things should have been. A reminder of everything he had lost.
Save the mortals? As if a single orb more of light would somehow undo all the hardship that had befallen them, much at your own hand? Come, Azgo, you know as well as I that we seek this sun not because it will save the world, but because the sun belongs in the heavens, and not lost in a place far distant.
Why would we desire this thing? Because it is right. Why do we not despair at the knowledge that it may be destroyed again? Because down that pathway lies only defeat and despair, and endless nihilism.
Are you not the one who pines for the days before the start of the universe as we know it? I would think that a quest for restored order would be compelling to you.
This wasn't actually going half as bad as Paren had feared it might go. Azgo almost seemed reasonable... or at least, someone who could be reasoned with.
Azgo visably tensed. Something changed in his stance, nothing threatening (or at least more threatening than he naturally was), but... Agitated. Frustrated. Bitter.
"Bold words, Paren. A few might say too bold..." Whether or not Azgo would have agreed with them he left in the darkness of his eyes. "And no, I did not know. The gods are not as easily read as mortals. At least one of your companions thought this was to better the world, not for order. How... dissappointingly petty. If order is what you seek, know that it cannot be found. Not here. Not now."
The wind kicked up. Azgo began to pace around the courtyard.
"And what makes it right?! Because the gods made it?! Because the works of their hands must align with the truth?! Are you naive enough to believe that the gods don't work towards their own ends, but for order?! The gods made it, and they destroyed it! It is as 'right' now as it was then!"
Azgo took a deep breath, feeling the currents of the wind swell up into his ribcage. The storm died down, and after a few seconds Azgo was back to his shadowy calmness.
"No. I care little for order without perfection. Imperfect order will always be defeated by its sole enemy. It will always be... undone... by..."
Azgo paused a lifetime, coming to terms with his truth.
"The Chaos Within."
Paren barked a sharp laugh of derision.
Do you think I want something because the Gods made it? No. That is a foolish reason. Are you aware that I have never spoken to Agni? Not once? He, who one could say is my master, has never deigned to find and speak to me. Instead, I glean little bits of information... history, thought, motivation... these I find leeching into me whenever I access his power. No. I have little use for him, his kin, or you. I find the Gods to be, as you say, capricious.
No. It is right because I will it. I am the protector of dragonkind, as you say, and the suns hold a special place in my wards' histories. I have sought out and restored the others. Now only this one remains, and I will leave with it, not because the Gods desire it, but because I do. Give me the orb of black dragonkind, and you will have my thanks and the thanks of dragonkind.
Paren looked around at the legions of craterspawn and other horrors.
I know what you are preparing for, Azgo. I know what these beasts are meant to do. I'm sure I do not need to remind you of the crucial role that dragonkind played in repelling your hordes the last time. Having the entire race in your debt would... be useful to you.
OOC And for right now, I'm glad Cantorix is missing, as he would probably start attacking things at the thought of allying with the Craterspawn :P
Azgo let a long pause draw into the conversation. He approached Paren pace by pace. His voice did not come from his body, but from every crack in every stone, every whisper in the wind, every torrent of caustic liquid.
"NOTHING IS RIGHT SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU WILL IT TO BE!!"
The Abyss darkened into twilight. Gesyers burst across the plane in unison, and the fountains cracked with pressure. The craterspawn leaned forward, hungry.
"Do you know how many atrocities my brethren have committed becuase they thought their will above the will of the First?! Their number would drown your very soul in disbelief, petty god! You dabble in arts far beyond your comprehension and call it order! Call it righteous!
Blithely ignoring the consquences of failure is not righteous; it is foolishness! The possibility must be confronted, and its source defeated! You claim that it leads only to despair but you! Know! NOTHING! Of! Despair! Despair is a word you have heard, but never LIVED!
Has everything you ever loved been stolen from you?! Does your Flesh rot from the inside out?! Do you have intimate knowledge of all the suffering of mortals and how miserable they are?! Have you been confined to prison because you were the ONLY one willing to fight for the betterment of the future?! HAVE YOU KILLED YOUR OWN SISTER WHOM YOU LOVED MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?!?! I CONFRONTED THE POSSIBILITY OF MY FAILURE AND CONQUERED MY DESPAIR WITH HATE!
HATE for everything that was evil! HATE for everything that was petty! HATE for all the gods and exarchs who cared for nothing but themselves and their worthless empires! HATE FOR IMPERFECTION!
How easy is must be for you to sit and let thousands suffer and die needlessly when they are not 'your' kin! DO you think I would kill the mortals if it were not neccessary?! DO you think I am without pity for their pain?! If ten thousand liars, cheats, and betrayers perish so that even one who remains loyal to the First can enter perfection, SO BE IT! If an invasion is necessary to put an end to all pain for countless generations, SO BE IT!!"
The taint in the intruder's bodies began to slowly increase to near lethal levels. It was almost black as night.
Azgo stopped right in front of Paren. And while the plane shook with wrath and HATE, Azgo's eyes were still as the roots of the world. He was teetering on the edge between mercy and judgement. He whispered softly.
"First you call me Lord out of respect, and then you scoff in my face. First you ask of me a boon, then you say I am of little use. I invite you into my very fortress, a sign of favor I have not granted to anyone, and then you disrespect me. You have crossed many lines, Paren. Be careful with your next words, for they may be your last."
Paren could feel the... otherness... the anger... writhing within him, struggling for release. At the same time, he felt fear. Had Azgo just admitted to killing a God? If so, this was highly troubling. And then there was the raving... Agni had been convinced the God was mad... but experiencing it firsthand...
What Paren eventually said... well, it was some combination of the two emotions warring within him.
Forgive me, I did not mean to cause offense. You insinuated a reason for my actions that did not match my true goals, and now have grown angry that I spoke the truth to you. I only assumed you would be able to tell if I was not being honest.
You are correct. I do not worry about those who are not my kin. But then again, that is not my function. But my heart does ache, Azgo. Do you wish to know another reason why I wish to restore the Orbs? Because I felt the dragons die by the hundreds and thousands to protect the world from the approach of chaos the likes of which it had never seen before. I have seen my kin bleed and die to save strangers they do not know. We have lost two of our number on this journey, and my heart aches for them as well. Do you doubt it, Mighty God? Search me. I know you have that power. Test and see if my soul does not nearly break. But then, you must tell me:
What IS Right, Azgo? If it is not what the Gods will, and it is not what we ourselves will, what, then defines what is right? Do you? Do you set yourself up to be Lord and Master of all? Why you, Azgo? Why not Agni, or Leaf, or even the master of the glamour-master whom you have just entombed?
Tell me, Azgo, what happened to you? Why are you filled with such anger?
Azgo continued to whisper, only slightly calmed.
"You hear, but do not listen. You think, but do not understand. And I... I am alone. You think I am mad, don't you? Is this the fruit of wisdom, to be called fool by brothers and madman by strangers?"
Azgo turned his back to Paren, pacing again. The sky lightened a little, back to a murky yellow twilight. The craterspawn releuctantly straightened their backs. And yet the earlier peace did not return. The air remained tense.
"You are ...forgiven." Those words felt foreign in his mouth, undignified. "What is the point, Paren? Why should I tell you of the origin of righteousness? Why should I tell you the origin of my Wrath? Would you listen? Would you understand? Or would you attribute any inconsistancies with madness and not knowledge? I have attempted to instruct you, and I doubt it has made the slightest impact on you. I did not grow angry because you told the truth. I was enraged because I had hoped to find a kindred spirit and found only anouther god of apathy, seeking to do his own will where he sees fit. Did you ask for forgiveness because you offended a King in his palace, or because you offended a dangerous, raving madman from whom you would ask for something? Did you ask because it is right? Or because it was foolish not to?"
An eldritch bitterness consumed him. He was alone, speaking to walls and illusions. Paren... did not understand. None of them did, and they would never care enough to anyway. They were too busy careing for one people and shunning another. Too busy forgeting the troubles of the world so that they might have comfort. Too busy hiding their flaws and rewritting history for their own glory. Too busy...
And he was alone. Alone and without his Father. Without his Mother. Without the First.
Paren blinked in surprise at Azgo's comments. The God wanted... a friend? This was... certainly unexpected.
In honesty, I asked forgiveness because my words were not meant to offend, yet they did. So yes... it seemed right. The fact that you may have caused me to tear myself into pieces had I not was just... extra motivation.
Paren dared a thin smile at these last words.
You speak of me as if you expect more from me, Azgo. As if you expect me, not a God in any right but merely a mortal who has somehow touched the Divine, to be capable of influencing far more than my meager powers would allow me to do safely. Surely any attempt of mine to do more than one of my power is capable of would be far more likely to cause harm than good, would you not agree? So I preserve that which I was fashioned to preserve, and try to do what I can with my powers.
Unless... Paren's mind-voice trailed off for a moment, then resumed. Unless you are offering me more power. I would be willing to expand my duties, were my capabilities likewise expanded.
Although I will admit that I would prefer to avoid any transformation to the form you appear as now. Forgive my presumption, but I believe that the reason that most think you insane is that your... condition... would in any lesser being easily cause them to lose their mind.
The Crowned in Blood... didn't know what to say. Not a single conversation with any god he had had before went over this... swimmingly. Sure he had threatened to destroy Paren, and Paren had disrespected him, but that was a pleasant conversation for Azgo. Being entombed in his very palace had lowered his standards...
"Power... it is a dangerous creation, Paren. Many are apt to abuse it, and even more fear its loss greater than the evils done when it is misapplied. And there are few... oh, so very few, who with all the power of the First would not recreate it in their own image and not the First's.
If I were to give you this power, are you strong enough to endure the temptations that are inherantly attatched, or are you... fragile? Fragile as Agni, who would without discrimination burn and scald whatever amuses him. Power has made him Callous. Fragile as Leaf, who has tasted power and now covets the slavery of the pantheon for his own glory? Power has made him Avaricious. Fragile as Zebus, who exaults in his power and does not weild it for the betterment of anyone he would think is beneath him. Power has made him Arrogant. Fragile as Pruinus was, who constantly watched and protected the ones..." Azgo struggled for a few seconds. "she loved most and not the ones that needed it. Power made her Foolish. Those who seek to be heros.... are at the most risk of becoming monsters."
Azgo fell into his souls, thinking. On which side was he?
A cold chill rode its way through Paren's body.
Was? he gasped.
Azgo did not meet Paren's eyes, lost in memory.
"Was" he whispered.
Paren mentally gulped.
An uncomfortable silence, broken only by the sounds of a Craterspawn shifting from one clawed foot to another, filled the heart of the Abyss.
Finally, Paren, deciding it was better not to ask, asked a different question.
You speak of the First, a being I am unfamiliar with, but whose name is indicative of its importance to you. Who is... Who was... the First?
Azgo did not answer for a time. He was barely able to refrain from weeping. She brought it upon herself, but... he still loved her, he always would.
"You are a fickle being, Paren. I ask questions, and you respond with different questions." Not that Azgo cared much. It was more of an observation than a complaint. Still, was Paren wary of answering? He lifted his shrouded arms casualy, and the craterspawn lifted off from the battlements, flying towards the grand tower in the distance. They were left alone, a god, an exarch, and three mortal dragon souls.
"The First... was beyond us. Not even Zebus would claim to understand him, such was the magnitude of His Power. But a few of us knew Her. He created us, the First Six. Zebus, Agni, Leaf, Pruinus, and myself, in that order.
OOC Yes, I can count. That's intentional.
She laid the foundation of creation from nothing, carved the ether and the material with force of will, marked the boudaries of possibilty, fixed chance on its bearing, invented knowledge, mastered wisdom, and gave Life the most important attribute anything could ever claim: meaning. He made us like himself, capable of great things both good and ill. She came before... everything.
And He had a Plan, which was both a blueprint and a prediction, the entirity of creation on the currents of time laid bare before us. Every detail known, every name revealed, every mere speck of creation understood. It was to be... PERFECT. But the First... did not remain to enact it. She choose to leave for reasons I may never understood..."
Azgo shuddered. His voice was covered in agony. He felt... abandoned, lost, forgotten... betrayed. That hurt worse than Pruinus's betrayal, or the betrayal of all his siblings combined. It hurt worse than all the sickness he could ever endure. It was the true origin of all his suffering, that he was to be loyal when The First had left him behind. That he loved the First, and he wasn't sure if it loved him back.
"And He dictated that there was to be two rulers in his stead, to weave the seeds of PERFECTION into creation and watch over it, and each other. If they built it right, there was to be no pain. No illness. No misery. No regret.
But the twin rulers... they never built PERFECTION. They never had the chance. They were betrayed. I was betrayed. And everything is now... imperfect. Every evil in the world, every. last. one. can be traced to that moment, when four conspired against two and made them into one. One they thought would perish. One they thought would never fight for the memory of the Plan.
They were wrong."
Paren's mind reeled at the nature of the revelations that Azgo was telling him. One God, then Six more, although only five were listed. Four Gods rebelling against Two, Two becoming one... which explained why only five were named... which then meant...
Agni has never taken me into his councel, although my mind and his have touched on several occasions when I have called on his power. In those moments, I have learned much about him, have touched his memories. What you say to me does not correspond with anything I have learned from him.
Paren saw Azgo begining to grow agitated once more and raised a forearm in supplication.
Wait, bear with me. I am in no place, especially not at this moment, to make a conclusion as to whom I believe. For now, let us accept that what you are saying to me is true. If so, then the First's creations do seem to suggest an overall symmetry to the Universe. Life and Death, Ice and Fire. But what of you, bi-partite God? What opposites were you, once?
Azgo looked into the distance, past Paren. His voice was also distant, as if his mind was walking back into the hazy curtains of the begining.
"What do you think Paren? What pair of forces were fit to rule over Life and Death, Flame and Frost? What forces could survive the pain of betrayal, the wretchedness of all-consuming sickness, millenia of isolation from everything that you held dear, and the knowledge that you are an abomination in every sense of the word? What are the roots of mercy and vengence and forgiveness and judgement?"
Azgo looked back into Paren's eyes with the same eyes that had stared into Pruinus' divinity in her dying moments.
"I was HATE. And I was LOVE."
"I still am. I am Hate for everything evil. Hate for my siblings. Hate for imperfection.
I am Love of everything that remains true to the First. Love for my followers. Love for perfection."
Paren wasn't really sure what to think. The Pantheon that he had long believed had made sense... two pairs of twinned deities who had come into existence at roughly the same moment, none with prior memories, who had set about to create upon the world they found themselves floating over. But if there had been two pairs, why not a third? Why not Hate and Love, conceptual beings that would act to give purpose and meaning to the creations of the more... elemental... deities? And why not have an initial progenitor of all of them, one that had given birth to the paired beings, then left? It was at once more complicated, and simpler. After all, three pairs of deities from nothing was harder to explain than one singular OverGod.
Very well. I provisionally accept your cosmology, Azgo, although you understand that I have no true way to ascertain its validity. Hate and Love are the most powerful of emotions. I Hate those who would harm my wards, and Love those who are kind to them, and whatever my rational mind may say, I feel those emotions dragging my thoughts along like a powerful riptide. To be the embodiment of both at once must be very difficult.
Paren looked around, craning his neck to take in the entirety of the center of the Abyss, and cleared his mental 'throat'
Forgive my presumption, Azgo, but I need to understand something about you. When you look around... Is this perfection, Azgo? This is your realm, is it how you would like it? What of your followers? Are they what you desire?
Azgo seemed to be growing more and more distant as the conversation continued, as if he were listening to convesations Paren could not hear, watching events unfold that Paren was blind to...
"Its validity wil prove itself in time, Paren. The more you know of the Firstborn, the more you will understand."
"And as for my realm," the Abyss shook with the joy of being mentioned, "No, it is not perfect. It is an extension of myself, my corruption given life and feeling. The Abyss lives, Paren, it lives in me as I live in it. We are... one god, but different. But, yes, I HATE it... as I have hated myself, what the Firstborn did to me. But my followers, I should hate them for their imperfections, for their callousness and pride and greed and foolishness... But I do not, Paren. For they have chosen to follow the First. They have chosen to try, despite all the pains inflicted on them by the First Betrayal. What more can I ask of them, than to serve the heir of Creation?" Azgo reared his head towards the young dragon god, giving him his full attention.
"Paren, you must understand... I cannot create PERFECTION... not yet. The works of my hands, they are spoiled, festering things. Sickness walks in my footfalls, corruption hides in my shadow. Azazel and Go'El, they can create PERFECTION. But the abomination that stands before you... he is Imperfection Incarnate, though not of free will. This was never meant to be, for a god be as I am... Do you understand Paren, what it is for a god to be sick, to be... dying? But I... I cannot die, Paren. It does not end..."
His words sounded like a... plea? Azgo... pleaing?! But yes, it was a plea: a plea to understand something of dire importance.
Something was stirring. Azgo could feel something of great importance unfolding... something he needed to be a part of.
I do understand that, Azgo. Much like I was unable to protect my kind before my transformation, in your current state you are unable to bring about the perfection that you desire. This resonates strongly in me.
Paren paused, then continued.
You know what I have come here to seek. In trade for that, I would help you in whatever way I could. How may I help you, Azgo?
Azgo tensed unnaturaly. Was this a trick? Was Paren... offering assistance? The Crowned in Blood did not know how best to proceed' he was terribly nervous. This was a thin relationship that he needed. The more defectors from decadence he could recruit, the stronger his chances... and the better it would be in those final moments, when those who were worthy passed from one Creation and into the next.
"I would ask two things from you, one from the mortals and one from the divine." Azgo turned to the dragons for the first time, doing his best to appear comfortable to their minds. They were such fragile things, and the truth was unyeilding. "From you, I would ask a new rite of peace. If any among you accept my pact, the signs of which will manifest across their very flesh and blood, you are not to slay them. You are to exile them from your broods and let even the horizon itself swallow them. If even one of you lays but a claw on my chosen, the Mootstone itself will crumble into ash and your kin will know the full extent of my Wrath." Azgo let the a rumble of stone and thunder into his voice, and a rain of blood reflected in the ice where his eyes were entombed. Was... he... was he insinuating that the invasion was but a token?! It seemed so... "And in turn, they will not harm one of you, or stay among you."
Azgo's other head turned back towards Paren, seeing but mute. The other mouth spoke without direction. "And from you, Paren, I would ask of but a simple thing, a thing I suspect you would revel in." Azgo's voice turned black with anger, swelled with sickness, and whispered. "I would ask that you destroy... Ka'Vah. I know of his... infidelity despite his pledge. He has destoryed the works of my followers, and quit the feilds of battle for Firstborn glory. But I created Ka'Vah to be god-like; If you would ask for the power to do this, ask it and it will be yours."
The Abyss waited on the edge of a knife. History was reaching a critical point...
These next few words could change fate and luck, life and death, imperfection...
REVEAL YOURSELF! Agni cried, and the light surrounding him grew in intensity until the entire cave was bathed in light.
And Agni saw his foe - or foes- for the first time. A set of diseased and decaying spirits that glared at him malevolently as they cringed in the light.
And thus revealed, they scattered. Their first instict was to flee, back into the body of Urru. But in the wake of Agni's anger, they could not seem to find their way back... and the flurries of petals kept turning them around until they were, collectively, lost. United in a single collective unconcious, it was determined that overpowering Agni was their only option. It went against every grain of TASOE, this brute combat, free of lies, deception, or slander. But above everything else, TASOE valued self-preservation, and there was nothing they would not do to ensure they survived.
And so, as quickly as they had dispersed, they once more converged on Agni. The first to come into contact with his radiant godself screamed as they were annihilated, turning into a haze of acrid smoke. It hurt, by everything that wept, it hurt, but it dimmed that cursed radiance enough... and so TASOE steeled itself, and strengthened its resolve. Battle was joined in full, and Agni very much felt himself a giant assaulting a mountain of ants.
Spirits crawled over every inch of his flesh, into every orifice in his mask and hood, and even slipping between the cloth wrappings, a most insidious irksome feeling. Agni roared, and spirits filled his mouth, his lungs, his very godessence. And always, they burned. It was an odd sensation for the god of Fire, but there was no better way to describe it. But where Agni's fires burned hot, TASOE's burned... smothering? It was an inadequate comparison to be sure, but it was the last lucid thought Agni was able to manage before the throes of battle dimmed his errant thoughts entirely.
Agni could not feel which way was up, where he was, who he was, even within his own mind. And then, a cacaphonous chorus from everywhere and nowhere, so unlike the slinking whispers of before:
"Die." spat TASOE. "Die lost and bereft of hope, you faltering ember!
Paren took his time to consider the request... the trade. He knew that this pact would be of monumental consequence to him, his kind... and the world.
Finally, the great ashen head nodded.
Agreed. I will agree to this rite... and this combat... upon two conditions, one which I demand as necessary, and one which I request if possible.
First. Those of my kin who come to worship you must do so of their free will. If they are brainwashed, coerced or otherwise forced against their inner judgement into a pact with you or your followers, then they, and those that have done this to them, will NOT be protected. My kin can seek to free them from their coersion, and any of your followers who are killed while this rescue is attempted will not have the protection of our rite of Peace, for in their actions, they have broken the Peace they desire.
The Second. You are a mighty God, Azgo, and absolute ruler of your domain. On our journey to your sanctum, we lost one of our number, a black dragon named Cantorix. I ask you, who was Love... show mercy on him and return him to us. Surely this is in your power.
If you do these things... I will be your warrior.
"And I." Morenth said, stepping forward and speaking for the first time. "Ka'Vah has to answer for his crimes against Red Dragonkind.
"I agree to your conditions. So shall it be." There was an inkling in the soul-blood of all the dragons, reaching out into the world with the power of ancient pacts.
Azgo peered curiously at Morenth.
"Ka'Vah must answer for all his crimes. And he has many crimes..."
The Wounded One turned from their group, weaving the sallow vapors of the plane before him like a weave of coarse, toxic fabric. In its own way, everything was a fabric of the gods, easily woven into lifelong patterns... and easily unwound to its very origin if one had the patience. Was this kind of power a blessing or a curse, Azgo wondered. Perhaps it wasa both. He remained silent, concentrating. A figure merged out of the vapors, fragile as soap bubbles in a strong wind. It was a dragon alright, but it was only vaguely Cantorix.
Azgo stopped, unsure. His hands held the final carvings, the last peices of the soul coughed up from the Abyss. He spoke over his shoulder.
"There is something you should know before I finish this... this creation. I can rebuild with what I have, but even gods cannot recreate souls, Paren. New ones? Yes, but old ones? Not even Leaf was intimate with the delicacies of the soul. They can be found... and... destroyed. The broken can be repaired, but not remade. Cantorix is no longer the dragon you knew. In his last moments he stripped his soul of his mind. Of his... heart. There is a beast named Cantorix, who wears the same flesh, bears the same scars. But I cannot rebuild what was destroyed, only what was broken. This Cantorix will be everything Cantorix was in his last moments... an animal driven by instinct. Is this what you want?"
Paren frowned once more. A life of animal instinct was hardly a life at all.
However... Somewhere, the Lord of Death still held his court, and all souls must eventually find their way there. Perhaps, when all this was done, he would find a way to reach Zebus in his far-distant lair and bargain once again for the soul of the dragon Cantorix.
But in order to bargain for a soul, the soul must have a home to return to.
Done. Paren declared. Make this so, and I am yours.
~The Eternal Plane of Fire~
Hate. Fury. Animal Instinct. Death. FIRE.
The white dragon flew from block of obsidian to obsidian, trying to gain a moment of respite from the eternal heat of its new home. The infection of the Abyss had vanished moments after the entry of the dragon into the realm of Agni, and strength had returned soon after. But, far from the Prime World, and far from the protection of Sa, the dragon's mind was vulnerable. Animal instinct had long since taken control over the sentient mind of the White Dragon, but as the unending heat continued... something snapped.
And something else entered in...
3 PP: Create Exarch: The White Dragon has been inhabited by Fuera, an aspect of the Eternal Fire. Unfortunately, because of the inability for the White Dragon mind to withstand heat, this has resulted in a completely insane (and furious) amalgam of the two.
Azgo nodded, though he doubted Paren understood. They would learn... in time, what it meant for dragons to be beasts. Men to be animals. For souls to... degenerate. He moved his hand one last time, and a shard of a soul wormed its way out of the nearest fountain alongside the acid and the vaporous fumes. It slithered over to the dragon carved of coulds, and with a primal surge leapt into the crafted skeleton. The smoke condensed... consolidated. Blood boiled and bubbled within the clouds, sinew stretched between membranes and soft bone. Layers upon layers of tissue crawled out of the spaces between spaces, and filled with the acid of the Abyss itself. Lungs snorted, fires belted, eyes flared! The cloud shivered, and the skin peeled into scars across the whole body.
The dragon raised its head, and smoke pealed off the skin like the edges of unused ribbon in a gift. Its eyes opened... and met Morenth's. There was a primal power in those nights. A duty, an honor... Was he truely a beast?!
But there was no familiarity. No spark of memory. There was hunger... and the honor of animals, a savage but innocent thing. He was new-born, and the dragons meant nothing to him. He snarled at Morenth, eyeing her up. His pupils dialted with cunning and his claws flexed. He took a ginger step forward, and was suprised at the coldness of the stone. Suddenly he looked all around, drawing himself up defensively. What was this place, and what were these things-these... prey?
Azgo looked on, with a few shades of pity that mortals could only pretend to be familiar with.
"... it is done. And I... I must go."