Birdcage

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 12 (v.1) - Chapter XII: Origin, or: the man who killed God

Submitted: July 23, 2019

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Submitted: July 23, 2019

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All of Squad V stood at the gate, weapons in hand, ready for the fight of our lives. In the distance, the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountains to the north, drowning Cieleta in darkness. “Prepare yourselves,” Cross said. “It’ll begin soon.”

 

Squad V wasn’t alone that night. Half of the Knights were stationed around the wall, ready for war. The other half either guarded the palace roamed the streets, making sure everyone was inside. Firebrand stood alone, fifty yards from the gate, the first line of defense against the horrors of the night.

 

“Can I ask a question?” Pollux asked.

 

“You just did,” Cas said.

 

“Okay, may I ask a different question?”

 

“Again, you just-”

 

“What is it, Pollux?” Cross asked.

 

“What are we waiting for? This morning, the King told everyone to hide in their homes and ordered us to guard the gate, but no one’s told us why yet,” Pollux said.

 

“Today is, to the day, the tenth anniversary of the Purge,” I said.

 

“And that is relevant because?” Pollux asked.

 

“It means that the Vampire King is back,” Cross said.

 

“Okay, follow up question: Who’s the Vampire King and what does he have to do with us?” Pollux asked.

 

Cross sighed. “It’s surprising that someone could be as old as you and know so little about the world,” he said.

 

“I mean, I don’t want to harp on this point, but my parents died in front of me when I was six,” Pollux said. “I didn’t exactly have the most informative upbringing.”

 

“Fair enough, I suppose,” Cross said. “We’re on guard because we fear that Camazotz, the great and terrible Vampire King, is going to launch a raid on the Capital tonight.”

 

“The Vampire King was an ancient evil and father of monsters,” I said. “For years, he commanded his minions to attack cities, destroying them in nightmarish raids.”

 

“If he’s so dangerous, why haven’t I heard of him?” Pollux asked.

 

“He’s been dead for ten years,” Sterling said.

 

“So we don’t have to worry about him?” Cas asked.

 

“This isn’t the first time he’s died,” Cross said.

 

Pollux and Cas gave each other confused looks and Cross sighed. “I suppose I should start at the beginning,” he said.

 

And then Cross told the long, tangled history of the Vampire King and the seven Golden Gods. A story I’d heard many times before from my Grandfather and Sister Nancy. The story of our world. Or, more accurately, what we thought was the story of our world.

 

In the beginning, there was the Dusk, an endless plain of darkness ruled by Zero, an incomprehensible entity of death and destruction. No grass grew in the Dusk. No wind blew, no fire blazed, no lightning arched across the sky. It was a world free of magic, a world free of everything but Zero.

 

But, in the heavens far above the Dusk, a sliver of light broke free into existence. The light grew, transforming into the Hall of Light, a glorious kingdom untainted by the Zero’s malice. From the energy of the Hall came seven Gods, flawless beings born from light.

 

The seven descended from the hall and killed Zero, burying his corpse beneath a great mountain range. The seven Golden Gods returned to their hall and rested, recovering from their great battle.

 

Unbeknownst to them, their battle had changed the Dusk. Zero’s blood and the light of the Gods mixed, creating magic. From this magic, man was born.

 

Humanity first sprung force in the mountains lying atop Zero’s corpse, inhospitable peaks of ice and stone. Dark clouds surrounded the mountains, preventing man from leaving. For centuries, humanity hid on these peaks, dreaming of something greater.

 

One day, the leaders of seven tribes climbed to the top of the tallest mountain and prayed for salvation. The seven Gods, awakened by these prayers, descended from the heavens and greeted the tribe leaders.

 

The Gods summoned a great blast of light and destroyed the dark clouds, revealing to man the endless world that had lied out of reach. The Dusk, free from Zero’s wrath, had flourished, turning into a utopia. Each of the Gods took a tribe and led them out of the mountains to new homes.

 

The Lyvela tribe, led by the Tinkerer, settled in a lush valley north of the valley. Their patron taught them to dig through the soil and harness the metal and gems hidden deep beneath the earth.

 

The Forenz tribe, led by the Sage, settled in a tundra to the southwest of mountains. Their patron taught them to harness the forces of magic to fend off the icy wind.

 

The Verir tribe, led by the Lorekeeper, settled in a wetland to the northwest of the mountains. Their patron gifted them with ancient knowledge they used to construct bridges and cities.

 

The Dolgen tribe, led by the Adventurer, left the continent of Magpur entirely, sailing off in search of a new home. Their patron guided them to the northeast corner of the world they found a large, crescent-shaped island with tall cliffs and endless forests.

 

The Thernorn tribe, led by the Warrior, settled in a peninsula to the north of the mountains. Their patron taught them to protect themselves from the dangers of the world.

 

The Cieleta tribe, led by the Holy Mother, settled in a large country filled with forests and lakes to the south of the mountains. Our patron gifted us with healing magic tasked us with protecting the world.

 

Finally, the Abrum tribe, led by a God whose name has was lost to time, settled in a desert to the southeast of the mountains. Before their patron could bestow a gift upon them, the Abrum tribe rebelled, attacking their God to steal her power. Camazotz, strongest of the Abrumian warriors, cleaved off the God’s head.

 

As the God’s head rolled away, something began to change within Camazotz. The power of light and creation, an energy that could not be destroyed, seeped into his body, transforming him. Camazotz was reborn as a demon with pale skin, red eyes, and sharp fangs and claws. The power within him was greater than anything possessed by any other human, but still came with weaknesses. His flesh burned every time he stepped into the sunlight. To keep the power within him from destroying every fiber of his body, Camazotz was forced to drink the blood of his fellow humans.

 

Still, Camazotz used his new power to his advantage. He gathered armies of monsters and the people of Abrum bowed before his godly might. For years, Camazotz ruled over Abrum, content to only crush his own people beneath his heel. Then, one night, he decided to move on to greater things.

 

The first raids began in Cieleta. His vampires, twisted monsters built to resemble him, descended on villages, tearing men and women limb from limb. Soon, the vampires spread to Forenz and Lyvela, then to Dolgen and Verir, and finally, to Thernorn.

 

The six nations came together, combining their skills and manpower to fight off the vampiric hoards. After a grueling five year campaign, a swordsman from Cieleta finally managed to slay the Vampire King, bringing peace to the world. For a time.

 

Ten years later, to the day, the Vampire King rose again. The light energy inside him had bonded to his soul, keeping him bound to the material plane. Reborn, the Vampire King built a castle in the Southern Seas and resumed his onslaught.

 

For centuries, this cycle continued. Mankind would spend a few years battling Camazotz, we’d kill him for ten years, then he’d come back and attack again. The warriors who put the Vampire King to sleep for ten years, like my grandfather, received unmatched praise and glory.

 

After Camazotz abandoned them, the people of Abrum were forced to figure out a way to survive in the harsh desert without the teachings of a patron or the strength of a King. They invented dark magic, a cursed art allowing the wielder to unleash large amounts of power via sacrifice. Legend has it that this power was somehow connected to Zero, the fallen lord of death and darkness.

 

Eventually, the people of Abrum joined in the battle against Camazotz. That’s where the trouble began. Their dark magic, born from pain and rage, was a weapon of unmatched power. The allied nations began funding research into unlocking the full power of darkness.

 

Enter Jericho Darkholme and Nathaniel Black. A high ranking magic researcher and nobleman turned vampire hunter respectively. The two of them teamed up to carry out a plan to destroy Camazotz once and for all.

 

Eight months before I was born, the raids began again. Black and Darkholme dove into their research, spending years creating the perfect spell. Then, when I was seven, they activated it.

 

The spell worked like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It used some of the energy created from a single life to kill another life, and that energy to kill another, and so on and so forth, increasing exponentially as it spread through the world.

 

Black and Darkholme planned to absorb the energy created by the Purge, becoming strong enough to effortlessly slay Camazotz. That didn’t happen. The two were left as powerless as before, with an army of corpses lying at their feet. We ended up calling this event the Purge. You know the rest.

 

One good thing came out of the Purge: the Vampire King’s raids stopped. Some speculated that the spell had malfunctioned and fired the excess energy at him, or perhaps that he was one of the ones drained by the Purge. No one knew why, but we did know he was gone. I guess Black and Darkholme were successful, in a way.

 

Cross finished up his story. The twins stood there for a moment, unsure what to say. “Damn,” Pollux finally muttered.

 

We spent the rest of the night waiting for the vampires to come. I think that if they had, things would have gone differently. We would have known that Black and Darkholme’s actions were pointless, that the two of them were irredeemable monsters. Because if the vampires didn’t come, then they would have done something good. Our hatred, which gave us the strength needed to keep moving after the purge, would be misguided, if only slightly.

 

In the end, the sun rose. No vampires came that night, or any other night for that matter.


© Copyright 2019 Casey Jarmes. All rights reserved.

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