The Lord of Lightning
II. Black Ocean
He removed his helmet and looked around the shore. Behind him the edge of the mist rippled with contempt. Finally he made it trough to the other side. He had no recollection of who he was or why he came here. Lacking any goal or motivation all he had was a spear and a round shield attached to his arm. He heard a deafening thud and a frightening, low murmur shivered his body. A black ocean waved in front of him. The liquid entity spoke to him and beckoned. He discarded his armor and threw away his spear, running into the wall of waves hitting the shore. As he managed to struggle in deeper he immediately sank. The water was warm and comforting, a welcoming embrace caressed his body, like a mother's womb he never inhabited. A black vortex sucked him deeper, filling his throat and lungs up with surprisingly sweet water. Sounds and voices burst into his mind:
The shape of the Explorer began to shiver, the skin on his arm blackened and he was suffocating under the weight of the water. But then the voice of the Black Ocean echoed angrily:
vessel began to melt, his stomach tore open and his legs unfurled. The surface of the ocean rippled, major storm clouds swam over the fog with devastating pace. Growling lightning struck the water, zigzagging electric hands jolted the Explorer out of the water, his body exploded into the sand of the shore nearby. He formed whole again, glowing in the color of blue and cyanide, tentacles of plasma erupted from his hands. Something happened. There was a core, a source somewhere that now ceased being.
very far away had been torn apart. The Explorer was no longer a shard, nor a puppet. He was a man of his own. As a throng of clouds surged overhead he chose a new name for himself. Marking his new and free life he became the Storm King.
Thunder roared, his hair flew around in the winds brought on the back of scattering clouds. He found his shield and knelt over it, it’s glistening surface sizzled.
A beautiful woman appeared on the shield, she was the spitting image of the Storm King, only their genders were reversed. The man kneeling in the sand watched his counterpart with interest. A word had burrowed itself into his mind, for the first time in his life his lips parted and a word erupted:
Behind him the Black Ocean frothed and he turned his back on the massive hive mind, the unseen threads that bind them together had ceased. He blinked and his shield and spear immediately appeared in his arms. He did not retrieve his helmet, but black armor crept over his body as a second skin. He began walking back to the populated lands. The mystical fog guarding the Black Ocean parted before his steps, almost as if recoiling with fear. It was a long way home back to the place of his birth. Weeks, months, perhaps even years passed as he walked. Slowly he remembered, he saw his own birth with the eyes of his old master. Arcane magic formed the vessel that eventually became him, he relived when the genius inferno of the Lightning Lord’s mind planted a strand of flame into the empty puppet. These old memories and actions of his creator seemed cold and distant. Even tough he had the facial features of the Lord in his sophomore years, he did not consider the man’s actions as his own.
He wanted to be the king of his own storms. A lonely and contemplative road it was back home, he crossed mountains and valleys, trekked across plains for countless boring hours. He remembered the Black Ocean. A gluttonous and petty lifeform it was. A liquid nest of fused minds which killed independent thought. It was a predator that preyed upon bright and brilliant minds with overwhelming talent. It reeled kings and sovereigns, heroes and wizard close, then swallowed them whole. The mush of so many minds was vastly prideful, an ocean declaring itself the supreme form of life. Yet it was no more than a stagnant puddle surrounded by hundreds of miles of stinking fog. Still, somewhere in the heart of the Storm King an alarm clock of doubt ticked:
Untold amounts of time had passed. The veil of the fog was pierced and the Storm King stepped out. Two large cumuli followed him like loyal hounds trailing trough the sky. He found no sings of life near the edge of the mist. Empty roads and smoking ruins of abandoned villages laid there as welcome. There were places where death had already settled in, while in some others the flames till burned fresh. He sent winds forwards as reconnaissance and they scoured the land as invisible snakes. He found life. Bending his knees he sprung up and jumped mile high into the sky. With strong winds pushing him forward he landed on a barren hill near a man with a disfigured body. The figure leaning on a crutch looked at him. One of his eyes was missing and in it’s place was a scarred wound. The man lost his left leg under the knee and several of his fingers were also gone. Yet a strong and confident voice boomed from his mouth:
The Storm King looked over the crippled man's shoulder. Smoke rose up from a small valley where rubble from white walled houses laid in a pile. With eyes closed he felt one of the creator's shards nearby. A runaway puppet who was driven mad by loneliness and loss of clear directions. Devastating anger infected it’s cold coherence. The Guardian’s mouth was mute, his eyes blind and ears deaf. The only way of expression it found was trough his mighty sword. The Storm King answered the crippled wanderer:
Black winds gathered, tornado and hurricane swept rubble away and drowned out fires. From the eye of the storm a tiny figure fell with spear and shield in his arms. As he fell the frantic Guardian immediately turned towards him. The golem moved like a machine, unlimited desire for destruction kept it in motion. Showing no signs of remorse or doubt it launched into a strike. Flying forwards as an anvil thrown he smashed his great broadsword into the ground, a shockwave several meters wide bounced off the intended target’s shield. The Storm King’s eyes threw blueish sparks, he shook off the dust of the first strike, clouds began to thicken into a spasming mass over his head. With earth rumbling steps the mad golem advanced. For one fraction of a second all turned white, grass and soil flew around trailing smoke. The will of the Storm King manifested as a bolt of lightning that smote the Guardian down. The strike itself was strong enough to shatter the skull of an ordinary human being, but it didn’t even slow the golem down.
The the golem
raised it’s massive sword. With closed eyes the Storm King still felt it’s presence, a blade once forged by his creator in a past life. He felt the touch of it’s hilt faintly and now it rose to smite him down. A shameful ball of regret erupted into anger in his belly. Small sparks flashed in his right hand, white plasma frayed the thinning air around his fingers. Incandescent, white-hot and pulsating edge sprang from his fingertips. With a defensive strike he struck the Guardian’s falling sword and it cut in half. The stoic golem let his broken weapon fall with, he didn’t even glimpse at the blade’s still smoldering hilt. Perhaps he felt recognition?
With one-legged hops a wanderer came near and leaned on his crutch. With one good eye he scanned smoke and destruction. It began to rain. First with small drops, then soon after if as a whole ocean was falling from the sky. The stranger with the spear had already gone but the wanderer still smiled, to himself at least. With his able foot he kicked the Guardian’s discarded frame as hard as he could and then with crazed voice he laughed into the thundering rainstorm.
Sparks flew trough the magnificent swirl of clouds high above. Obsidian material came with virgin birth to light as if poured into invisible mold. Drops of black shaped into a ship, it grew a mast and a thin sail as well which fought valiantly against the bitter weather. In the prow of the ship stood the Storm King, his hair danced in the blowing wind, sword of lightning ignited in his hand then died out immediately. He was stronger now with a shard absorbed. His mind had vertigo, still stunned slightly from the fusion of threads, but his eyes shot straight forward. Animosity spread through his heart and it’s progeny was a mad storm that encompassed the sky as far as one could see. He was mad at his creator, for all of his follies and mistakes, for his vanity and thousand missteps. How could he tear himself to shards? Just because simultaneous influences impacted him from different fronts? Because his hopes were unformed and childish? Despite the Lightning Lord’s old age and masterful power he proved to be naught but a reckless little boy. An old grumpy shrew who fantasized about a perfect spouse, a mirror image carved from his rib, opposite sex forced into an idealized body. The crazed Lord only loved himself and Midnight was a victim of his self torture. The Storm King stood at the front of the flying ship and pointed his mighty finger forward. Quiet winds spread out as spying tentacles. His gale yet again found life, and furthermore, found his next objective.
From the painting behind her a face colored with abstract explosions stared at the visitor. Her voice was soft and solemn as she spoke:
The Storm King did not answer. He became dizzy from the overbearing sight of the thousand paintings. It hurt to perceive Midnight’s point of view. Her memories burned him like acid droppings on naked skin. He stepped a bit closer to Midnight and the space between them vibrated. The strands of their tortured existence recognized each other and wished to be whole again. Midnight didn’t smile but here eyes begged as she spoke:
– Do what you came here to do. Cut order into this shattered reality.
A freshly born flying ship held up the renewed Storm King. Lightning crown danced over his blazing hair, in his hand white rings shivered on his spear, the taste of anger and poison bit his throat. He became more again, but with the spark of Midnight a new, so far unknown pain he inherited as well. With this heirloom his confidence nearly broke, boiling anger flooded the ever growing forest of his personal doubts. He was the Lord of Lightning’s heir, his power unquestionable, his mistakes unforgivable. He needed to become whole to defeat his past once and for all. He was a conjurer with powers matching only that of the god’s, still great humbling shame burned inside of him.