The Lord of Lightning


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Chapters

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I. TOWER

(pages 1-10.)

It was a magical world. Occult winds blew over rows of hills and mountaintops. Marble cities emerged from a snap of a finger, hope and desire influenced life and fate directly . Many a man still lived simply, carrying scythe and hoe, turning over soil or hunting wildlife with bow and arrow. A few of them were different however, they were those whose inner power bled into the fabric of the world, churning it into a frightening change. They were great men, heroes, ruthless destroyers, warlocks and wizards.

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Among

their ranks stood out one such being, the Lord of Lightning, his knowledge and power knew no bounds. He mastered all sorts of magic. The air shivered in front of his fingers, great storm clouds were slaves to his commands and the ground trembled under his step. He wore all white and his eyes burned with the bluish hue of thunderbolts.

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Only

one obstacle stood in his course. A bubbling mist, a living wall of alien miasma that covered the edge of the known world. A fog the color of which danced between milk white and dirt gray. It beckoned great heroes, knights and mages of times long past, and swallowed them into it’s ripples.

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The Lord of Lightning travelled all over the land, passing many kingdoms and countries. He deposed some ruthless sovereigns while helping other, more noble kings solidify their rule. He killed dragons and giant snakes, amassed vast amounts of knowledge and mastered the art of conjuring. He also commanded powers of pulsating electricity and endless storms. People both feared and loved him, some even walked along his path.

Students and chroniclers buzzed around him like an army of flies swarming fresh manure. None of them knew his secret however, his great folly, the plague of horrid nightmares that cursed his sleep. After long and arduous sleuthing he himself had discovered, that the fog marking the world’s end was the cause of his nightly distress. This miasma pulled him closer, calling him by name, so strong was the temptation that he could barely resist it. Before him this living mist lured in great heroes and they marched inside it’s secret hollow to disappear forever.

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The

Lord of Lightning decided to construct a forward observing post serving as his base of operations near the fog. With a snap of his mighty fingers he summoned a great tower atop an empty hill. The area nearby was barren since people could not live in peace near the mist.

Loathsome beasts, creatures armed with several tentacles and claws slithered out of the fog. They devoured all who attempted to settle there in the past. The Lord wished to stop this annoyance. Raging storms encircled his tower and lightning bolts cracking like whips licked across the sky. Winds sieged the fog's veil like a stampede of wild horses. The mist that birthed beasts then edged backwards after the gusty assault, allowing settlers to form villages around the Lord’s spire. So the followers and students moved in for good.

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The beasts still came but they caused little harm. The Lightning Lord ended their invasion personally. He echoed words and rain fell, ruinous thunder annihilated all monstrosities, turning them into smoldering lumps of ash. Gigantic placental masses with cancerous claws and conquering worms fell alike before him. He studied the flesh of those he didn’t evaporate, locked inside his laboratory atop the tall tower.

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Books were written full by quills he levitated with the power of his mind, recording observations and deductions efficiently. Still he did not close in on solving his problems. Terrible nightmares ravaged his spirit at night. Invisible chains yanked his body and soul towards the fog. He locked himself away from students and followers alike, pushing himself to work without break in the shadowy halls of his laboratory.

There he came to the conclusion that by dividing the power of his mind into separate threads he could in short time gain considerable progress with his research. The mental gymnastics required for performing magic came as easy to him as breathing. He could form molecules invisible to the eye by instinct, forming devastating bolts of lightning to his heart’s content. With eyes closed he could alter reality's neutral state, so that previously empty space gave into solid, palpable structures. With these powers the task at hand proved naught but a minor challenge.

With his magic he tore the thought's of his own mind asunder, breaking his very being into shards, like a mirror shattering. His consciousness separated into distinct threads, seven parallel calculations, deductions, equations and magics.

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At night he rejoined the threads, the coils of his mind intertwined again. This wondrous process of work was constantly interrupted by the people around him. Many students and servants, daft villagers and neophyte mages all vied for his attention. Again beasts emerged from the secretive mist and at the same time marauding bands of so called heroes and mercenaries invaded from foreign countries. These adventuring groups of warriors and mages harassed the locals and engaged in posturing or actual warfare. The people begged the Lightning Lord for help. Even with his mind now split across several lanes he still couldn’t keep up with all the fighting and skirmishes, he had no hope to flush out the wrongdoers on his own, yet expectations were high. So he moved his plan of self division to the next level.

In the shadows of his enclosed laboratory he performed a set of arcane movements, ripping apart the neutral weave of the world. An outline of a human shape appeared. Ligament slithered on bones, blood flown trough a web of veins. Hair and skin folded over pelvis, spine, neck and skull. Into white eyeballs blackened pupils crawled like small beetles, then both rolled into sockets of the skull. Red shapes of lips extended under a nose and new teeth penetrated fresh gums. The body lacked mind and the Lord enclosed it into a sarcophagus made of black metal, a substance which showed unbreakable resilience. To crown his achievement he placed a terrifying obsidian helmet over the lifeless shell’s head. With the power of his mind the Lord conjured a massive two handed sword and put it’s cold hilt into the hapless puppet's hand.

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Then the mage yet again tore his mind apart and with an imaginary scissor he snipped the seventh thread loose. He planted this rootless shard into the slave’s body, then spoke the words:

– You shall be named and thus given purpose, I dub thee as Guardian. Defend my lands and the people that inhabit them. Eradicate the beasts and gangs of marauding invaders. Keep the pastures safe and chase away all who question my rule.

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The

figure encased in black armor rose up and stormed off with thundering steps. It blew trough the Lightning Lord’s lands like an unstoppable tornado. Winds of his anger rippled the edges of the mist even. He cleaved great beasts and intruding miscreants apart, leaving chunks of flesh and flakes of bent armor around. The people feared him mostly, but they were also in awe of his battle prowess and were glad he cleared the land around.

The Lord of Lightning finally turned back to his work. The intensity of his dreams waned, but their pain still tortured him at night. The method of his suffering changed, he heard voices now which whispered dangerous secrets and long forgotten questions into his ears.

He usually awoke covered in sweat, tiny rain clouds circled his bed and miniature bolts of lightning burned his covers. He tried working on breaking open the secrets of the fog, but he couldn’t progress further. He needed samples, physical evidence and clues. But how could he collect anything from the fog, when it’s veil slips by whenever he tries to touch it? The flesh of the mist’s monsters also eventually turned to vapor, as if they could not exist for long outside their birthing place. Thus collecting beastly scales and meat for research turned out to be a dead end.

He thought of braving the fog himself, to personally explore beyond the secretive veil. Extensive tales from chronicles proved however that no one ever returned from the fog’s deadly embrace. Legendary heroes, kings, wizards and great warriors all answered the call of the mist, all of them now lost forever to the unknown. Their faces and names, even their memories faded over time, only worn letters of olden chronicles proved their existence. Everything the fog touched faded away in time.

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Still, the Lord of Lightning was tenacious. The experiment with the Guardian was a great success. His heavy handed slave wrought stable peace on the lands. The thieving bands ended up cut to pieces while all of the raging monstrosities laid beaten to a pulp, their dead flesh and chitinous shells evaporating. When the Lord let the tentacles of his mind wander, he could establish direct contact with the Guardian. He saw with it’s eyes and heard with it’s ears, he felt and lived trough all that his shard was experiencing. He walked with him trough the lands, around his great tower, heard the grass sizzle in the wind and saw the sun settle. Never again was he forced to leave the comforts of his sky-high abode. He didn’t have to waste time and precious resources to defend his people. What if he would make yet another slave, this time with the exact purpose of exploring the fog? He again broke apart his mind, weaving threads from the stream of consciousness within. He formed a puppet reminiscent of his own shape and form. He himself hid behind a mask for a long time, yet he still remembered how his features appeared in ages past, when the world and he were young as well. He carved this old visage on the face of the familiar he was creating.

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With

impulsive magic he formed a whirling, ink like substance, from this he then coated a robust and agile armor on the slave. Into the hands of the figure he place a round shield and long spear. After he finished the vessel, he took the sixth shard of his segregated mind and forced it into the empty shell of the Explorer.

The doors of his laboratory suddenly opened, droves of servants and pupils sat outside waiting, they all saw the black figure emerging from the darkness of the Master’s chambers. Then the gates slammed shut again. The Explorer went straight to the fog. With spear held high he marched into the unknown.

From atop his mountainous tower the Lord of Lightning still felt, with divided eyes he still saw a piece of his own soul penetrating the mysterious mist. He became eagerly excited, but then all his newfound enthusiasm drowned in endless bore. The Explorer saw nothing. Milky white, suffocating fog drifted all around him, invisible chains pulled his body towards an unknown objective. Crackling and creaking noises erupted from beyond the miasma, sometimes grand shapes of black silhouettes walked past him, but the beasts of the fog left him alone. He went and went, without rest or stop he advanced forward, and after a while the great mage could not feel the presence of his shard any more. The connection was lost between them.

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But the Lord could not afford standing around stunned. His nightly twisting and turning did not cease, his dreams did not halt, but they certainly changed again. They degraded to dark cries of loneliness. The straining pull of the fog stopped, now the eyes of the Lightning Lord saw freely, and what he saw was a lack of company. He was alone, immensely powerful and strong yet isolated and devoid of any love. He opened the doors of the laboratory and walked out unto the hordes of followers, only to swim yet again in frustration among their waves. They could never understand him nor did they truly attempt to do so. Their constant buzz hurt his ears like a grinding stone slowly erasing a sword’s edge. He hated them. They were all opportunistic, servile weaklings, destitute delinquents grasping for crumbs of power. They were leeches and ticks suckling on his magic.

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He

could have wiped them out with a single thought, turning them into a shower of viscera and guts. But what good would it do? He would become a despised despot. A cursed and exiled misanthrope, shattering his already delicate mind to further planes of madness. No!

He retreated and locked himself yet again to his study to make another slave: The Overseer. A champion of logic and rationale, a worthy deputy. He shaped a substance yet again to his own form. It had a white cloak and wore a mask just like the Lord’s, but he lacked any scepter or staff to show superiority. The Lord’s thundering voice and sparkling aura flew directly into the puppet, then the master sheared off the fifth and fourth threads of his separated mind and moved them into the shape. The Overseer stepped back into his fold, while the great mage remained alone in his black laboratory. Only days had past and his latest creation now sat on an ivory throne and gave audience to all the visiting folk and pupils.

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He listened to their woes and acted as a ruling judge to ease their grievances. The Overseer’s daily impressions seeped back into the mind of the Lightning Lord. Their close vicinity granted a fast and wide connection between the master and puppet. The Lord felt again part of a community, yet he escaped all the drivel of the common folk and could now concentrate on his own ailments.

He was no longer lost in himself, no longer was he called by the whispering sound of the fog and no more did teary eyes and hungry mouths distract him. He took to reminiscing on his past, his series of achievements, inner daemons and great desires. No one could match his strength, he resisted the frivolous temptation of the mist and almost accidentally he created a kingdom that shards of his mind ruled and defended. There were no more mountains to climb, he couldn’t escape into his work any more. Ghosts of his idleness now began to haunt him. In his boredom the edges of his sanity became frayed. His untouchable confidence waned and he began shedding his superiority like an old coat of fur. He never had love. The road leading to unquestionable greatness laid empty behind him. Women only studied him from afar, his bolts of lightning and magic kept everyone at arms length. When was the last time anyone had touched him in kindness and not with religious zeal? When did tender hands caress his skin? Never was the answer that pinned him on the wall like a cold steel needle. Never ever in the flow of time, never since mothers gave birth and sons and daughters died. He was untouched and untouchable. A virgin with unlimited power. He couldn’t have found an equal mind, a partner and lover, who understands and knows him. He could have walked the earth for a hundred years and could lecture a student to be versed in the magic of storms, then perhaps he could have someone. But who would this true love be, if not a pupil educated by him? And the Lord of Lightning was not interested in pedagogical achievements, his endless thirst was instead for love. Had he climbed so high, only to be cursed to eternal solitude.

        His shaking, furious mind brought to light an idea of desperation. He had three slaves already: The Guardian, the Explorer and the Overseer. These three arms of his consciousness now walked their own path and removed gigantic weights from the Lord’s shoulders. Perhaps the great mage could create love akin to their mold? He certainly tried. He wanted more this time, not just a subservient sleeve of a beautiful women, a homunculus of forced romance. He created sizeable canvases and submerging in feverish delusions he painted on them. He let his hope and anger seep into the brushstrokes. Cyanide bolts flashed and tore apart the insides of the laboratory, flasks exploded and furniture burned, stacks of books packed on top of each other turned into fuming piles of ash. Hundreds of faces, all women, looked back at him from the floating canvases. A hundred dreamscapes and pictures composed of wants and wishes. The faces then flowed into each other, their lines boiled down into a single shape. The final image was the essence of desire and thirst, it knocked the Lord to his knees. Lightning bolts erupted from his fingertips and a pulsating miasma surrounded the painting. Bones and human frame formed from the primordial soup of power. A network of veins bound to sinew that webbed over muscle, intestines, liver and kidney. Lungs filled up with air and breasts formed over them. Tiny fluffy strands of hair grew in armpits and over the nether regions while nails covered the points of fingers. Black velvet hair and pale white skin gave a hypnotic contrast.

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The Lightning Lord stepped closer. He removed his mask an opened up his mind, he again stabbed strands of his consciousness into the empty vessel. One was not enough, that would have only made a servant and he needed a spouse. Who loves with genuine interest in her heart. He longed someone who intrigued him, a temptress and conqueror. Ge gave two shards to the woman, leaving only the final thread in his aging body, thus he became divided and utterly weakened. From a seething supernova he burned out and became a barely visible candlelight. He was a mosaic scattering it’s own broken parts to the wind. So spoke the Lord of Lightning:
  – You’ll receive a name and with it life will fill the void of your shape, this name shall be Midnight!

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Eyes opened to the world, wonder and fear shined trough them. The great mage stepped forward, but an eye watering, wall shattering, heart shriveling shriek stopped him.

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Midnight

hurt. No other feeling, impression, sense or perception was there for her but pain. Suffering and torment were the price of her being. She was born of nothing, without mother and father, without childhood or a chance at growing up. She was torn from the warm cradle of nothingness and planted into an alien form, to love and be loved no questions asked. Every inch of her skin was burning, her ears whistled with a thousand subsequent cacophonies and every individual ray of light blinded her eyes. A man jumped at her, her maker, owner and torturer. When she looked upon the cloaked figure she remembered. She saw every minute of countless years. She felt the emotion behind every thought that the Lightning Lord ever had, the man’s life flashed before her eyes as a sequence of pictures rolling on an infinite carpet made of time. She hated this man, this egoistical, cold and calculating, childish and cowardly buffoon. A dagger appeared in Midnight's hand. Cold steel was her first safeguard.

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The Lord of Lightning fell down with a knife in his chest. For the first time in his life his power betrayed him. His lightning discharged, hands not working, sight narrowing and ears pulsating with pain. A naked foot exploded into his face, turning his pain into white light. The last thread ripped out and flew into a storm.

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