Chapters

The Lord of Lightning

II. Black Ocean

(pages 11-19.)

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    A lone vessel fell to his knees, arms touching grayish sand, his body and mind hidden in deep fog until now.

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:

  – Since the wheel of time turns and matter exists we have been here. We hate, we swarm, we think and equate. Surrounding ourselves with fog that obscures and hides our selves deep. From drops of our water we form monstrous beasts that frighten away brave explorers who we don't want. We smell the delicate fragrance of great minds from afar. We lure and pull their minds closer, sinking hook into gray matter like fish’s mouth in clear ponds. Their subconscious bites and they travel to us as pilgrims, when their bodies arrive we pull them inside. They pierce the fog to bathe in us, becoming a drop in an ocean that rain never blesses. A new electron in our neural network, a new worker drone in the hive. They circulate and discharge with us on elliptic courses, and we weave and knit our thoughts further as one. For what reason life originates? So that it can wither in separated, lonely and easily perishable husks? So it can tear-kill-slaughter it’s own kind? No! Singular existence is only the lowest of low hills scraping at the bottom of mountainous heights of possibilities. You must become better and more. Instead of decaying, fecal matter birthing worms you could be an ocean, a mass of reasoning liquid. Swim with us o' Lord of Lightning! Leave your body to the past and let us ignite as one.

11/25

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:

  – What is this loathsome pound of flesh, this worthless meat, tiny scrap unworthy of chewing? You can’t be the Lord of Lightning! You are only a small shard of glass that tore off, not the mirror itself!

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The lonely

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.

Someone

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:

Midnight.

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.

12/25

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:

– The dark waves did not embrace me.


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:

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  – Don’t tread further stranger. I am an envoy of death and destruction. Over there yonder is the mad dog of the Lightning Lord. For several weeks now he'd been hounding the land and splattering everything around, covering the ground in fire and ash wherever he goes. My company – The Violet Boars – tried to stop him. Only I survived, he piled the bodies of my comrades over my shattered body and forgot about me. A furious madness infected it's body since the winds ceased. Before that he was a good ‘ole golem, walking about all nonchalant like and smackin’ away any beastie that dared to crawl out of the fog. If only we knew he’d one day turn on us. Nobody knows why it launched a rampage like this, why the damn winds went mute.
  The Lord o’ Lightning just went and left his tower, he now sits in a blinding white castle and sends dumb, bulky war machines to keep the peace. Those silver behemoths came here as well, the Guardian cut them in half like they were made of smoke and nothin’ else. So weak did our Lord become then? We lose our king and home all at once? So don’t be walking any further. Turn back and go far away. I’ll keep tracking this furious beast, watching out for a time when it finally tires, maybe I'll try to strike it down when it sleeps. Until then I’ll warn away any travelers like yourself.

13/25

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:

  – The man sitting in that white castle ain’t the Lord of Lightning. He’s just a discarded, broken piece of a scattered puzzle, just like the Golem rampaging over there. Stay a while more my dear man and soon you’ll have a chance at revenge.

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.

It’s chitinous black armor was smoking, but his grim figure continued to advance. It swung it’s great sword and the force of the strike alone swept the Lord of Lightning off his feet, his shield exploded into a shower of splinters. As the shield’s shattered fragments flew before his eyes the Storm King saw his own reflection in them, torn into a hundred tiny pieces. The spear in his hand burst with licks of lightning, static electricity buzzed around it like a thousand angry wasps. He threw his weapon at the encroaching golem, but the Guardian’s gigantic sword cut the lance in half while it was still in flight. Ball lightning formed in the palms of the Storm King, his hair flailed in the air like a nest snakes. He pushed the orb of lightning forward and it collapsed over the chest of the Guardian. But yet again this attack was in vain.

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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?

He found a kindred soul, another branch fallen from the ancient tree of his former self? The lightning blade cut trough his shoulder from the side, then it tore deep into his chest and underarm. The heavy armor slumped inwards, winds and raging force erupted from it’s emptied shell. A ghost became free and shards united.

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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.

 

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15/25

  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.

Cicadas buzzed and strands of yellow, water deprived grass swayed in waves like a sea trapped inland. The tower creaked and cried. Above it the sky was calm and empty, the land caressed by colors of throbbing sundown. Bangs and booms of a distant storm echoed from afar. Flocks of angry clouds galloped through the sky like wild stallions, a skip glided out from their midst. It gently flew to the surface and crashed near the base of the tower, it’s body carved a trench into the ground stopping eventually in a hill. From it’s deck the Storm King jumped down. The old tower’s side was filled with gaping holes, many cover plates simply fell down from it’s construct filling the surrounding area with trash. Ruin becomes of a mind’s product if the creator is struck down. No sign of life could be observed nearby, only the dismembered bodies of dust ridden villages laid at the end of the horizon. However, some force – a weakening, yet sill present power – had kept the ruinous, rickety and rusting tower still standing. The Storm King entered his progenitor’s home.

  He stood on a dented disc that laid at the bottom of a large chimney. Long time ago power of lightning moved visitors high above on it, but now it was seemingly useless. Coughing breeze flew up the chimney, crackling lightning wrapped around it’s columns and the platform began to rise. The Storm King traveled for five minutes, leaving behind the levels which used to house pupils and followers. Only the top most audience hall and private quarters were of interest to him, and of course the laboratory where the Lord of Lightning was stabbed to death. His head was abuzz, ears shrieking and eyes pulsating. Someone was up there waiting for him and the Storm King‘s stomach jolted. He didn’t know what to expect. The door opened before him with a high pitched creak and he stepped into the hall. One of the thick wall panels fell out or perhaps someone removed it by force.

16/25

The previously closed space was now a partly open terrace. Weak grass grew from the floor and even a burly tree stood triumphantly under the ceiling. There seemed to be a desperate war waging between the crumbling metal skeleton of the spire and the crawling vines of life. He walked towards the laboratory door reaching past an old throne. Stopping in his tracks his eyes threw sparks. On a colossal canvas stood in front of him a painting of the Lord of Lightning. The cloak, the staff, the mask were all his. Then there was another picture and yet another one! A hundred paintings on a hundred canvases, some stood on stands while others hanged from ropes, they were also scattered around the side of the throne and laying on the grassy floor. He saw an image of the Guardian as he protected and then massacred the people. He saw the form of the mute Explorer walking in the fog blindly. On multiple depictions he saw the dark mass of the Black Ocean with frozen, painted waves. Finally there were the pictures of Midnight. The woman’s face appeared in a variation of a thousand emotions. In anger, afraid, tired, longing for something or someone. In the thick of the canvases, right next to a half finished painting stood the murderous shard herself. Midnight turned to the Storm King who came for her.

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17/25

From the painting behind her a face colored with abstract explosions stared at the visitor. Her voice was soft and solemn as she spoke:

  – Tell me o’ Lord, if I paint myself enough times as a being capable of emotion, will my heart finally pound with such a thing? If I paint my face a thousand more times as I see it in the surface of ponds, shall I believe it is truly mine? Maybe if I conjure poems and write stories about my life then I’ll become the heroine depicted in their lines? Someone who is more or less human, perhaps even a real woman. Have you seen a real woman? They are not like me, their eyes don’t shiver with cold desolation. They live and give life. Inside me there’s a hollow globe filled with sand instead of a womb, this functionless curse is weighing me down. I was outside in the wilds. After I killed you – I know you are not the one I stabbed, but it’s hard to differentiate you from our creator – I ran away and mingled with people. They were nice to me, all smiles. The men pulled me close and touched me. Their breaths were warm and they sweated in beads. I burned them all to ash with flashing bolts of lightning. They reminded me of the Lord. But it was because of the women that I finally left. They were so beautiful, so real, daughters of living mothers, not clumsy dress-up dolls crafted by hand to appear perfect. So I awaited you here, vengeful remnant of the Lord of Lightning. He was a thief of life, a butcher of souls. You came to avenge him? To take revenge on a shard like yourself? To absorb what makes me myself? So be it, take it back, let’s have this tower fall apart finally. But first tell me, if I only paint here for myself, and no one else ever sees, is it art I made or just self exciting masturbation?

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.

The Storm King could have kept staring at Midnight for an eternity. He stood mesmerized by the sculpting of her features, but in his guts he felt her immense pain and sorrow. He ended their separation. White hot sword of lightning erupted in his hand and the shape of Midnight split in half. From her wounds she withered, a body once created by magic now slowly disintegrated. It’s molecules and atoms splitting into the ether, from the tearing fabric her spirit escaped. The great discharge of energy set the many paintings around ablaze. Recreated versions of Midnight's face melted to unrecognizable grotesque forms on them. Faint blue light glowed from the Storm King’s eyes, in his hands the sword sizzled out. Air around his armored figure writhed with uncertainty, then it rested after erupting with dizzying white noise. Under his feet the tower shook, whatever force kept the spire standing now dissipated with Midnight’s end. Structural integrity of the construct ceased to hold. A black bundle of clouds invaded the terrace, gust of wind sneezed grass and tree apart. It went as quickly as it came, burping out thunderous growls and cyan bolts in it’s retreat. As it left the tower fell. The final monument of the Lord of Lightning collapsed into dust.

18/25

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.

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19/25