UPON THE HORIZON
The maze lay before him, his only guide the inner beacon that shone through his heart. Through the maze he would go, through any trial, facing whatever the maze chose to test him with, his greatest prize lay on the otherside. The ones for whom he had labored so long and shed so much. A burning flame was said to reside at the heart of the maze and he must set eyes on it before leaving. The threshold was unremarkable, a plain wooden door made of oak, with an old fashioned handle better suited to a castle then any modern edifice. The lock had no keyhole, for it would only open for the chosen one. For three days he sat before the door, the silence was absolute, deeper than the blackest abyss. The images came and went, his body wracked by sobs, his face burned by tears, his hands stained in blood. A soft click was all that he heard as the door swung open, he remained kneeling eyes shut and stood slowly so as not to lose his balance. The mind was clear now, emptiness was coiled within, he strode foward, only his third eye open. A burning fire crawled across his skin as he crossed the threshold, both eyes shut.
The smell of charred flesh rose into his nostrils but he ignored it, the flesh was nothing. The vessel was here to be used, the precious had to be extracted, purified then pounded into the desired shape. It would be a painful process but he would emerge tempered and ready or he would not emerge. Soon there was no skin left, only the corded muscle and sinew, bright red and overly sensitive. Pausing he breathed deeply, his eyes no longer had lids, the passage before him wound into the distance. Doors lined the first few meters of the passage, open one or proceed deeper? The doors were each different, one made of gold, one made of wood, another of stone, fire, water, air, earth. He paused before the door of earth, it moved within itself as though it lived and breathed. There was no obvious way to open it. Reaching out it gave beneath his fingers and started to engulf him. Dirt now covered his form, he stepped through and immediately heard the wails of the confused, the unaccepting. Those who had been swallowed by the earth, they could not return but they had yet to be set free, their time approached. A few stood calmly, waiting, some he recognized and two he loved. Grandmother and Grandfather from opposite sides of the family. A small smile crept through him, his Grandfather gestured him forward with a wink and a smile. The earth spun and heaved, a great crack wailed and three great stone angels fell, shattered upon the ground. The whole scene heaved and his soul heaved with it. The burning and shaking images filled his mind, the cries of the dying rang in his ears. Somehow he was on his knees, his body began to coil in on itself, lungs collapsed, blood poured from his eyes and ears. A great explosion rent the air, bodies fell and buildings burned. A light shone deep in the distance, it changed colors too fast for mortal eyes to follow, only after images remained. He stretched his hand to the horizon grabbing the peak of a mountain that towered above him, he tried to pull himself up but the great peak gave beneath his hand and now its shattered remanants beat him back down to the earth. A piece of jagged stone pierced his belly and he went cold inside. Great voices deep and mighty echoed all around him though he could not make out the words in all the confusion but one voice he recognized, his Grandmother, it was just a whisper, faint and barely discernible amidst the tumlut. More stone fell and pounded into him, his flesh burned white hot with agony. No sound escaped his lips, his form finally unfolded. Staring up at the star speckled night, he tried to rise and fell over. The ground continued to heave, the horizon continued to spin. "Close your eyes." It came from nowhere a voice he knew but could not place. No skin, no eyelids. No way to shut it out so he grabbed two sharp stones and plunged them into his eyes. More blood, more pain. Great wracking sobs swept through him, threatening to coil him once more, he tried to tense, to keep the body from coiling again but it began to anyway. Slowly, painfully he was folded up again and earth covered him. The force exerted against him was to great to resist, so he let it consume him. Round and round it went, he had to pick his moment. Finally the earth settled, he unwound. As he rose he cast about with eyes of stone. The devastation was absolute, where once there had stood three great cities now there was only rubble and fire. A few forms he could see moving amongst the ruin. Slowly he picked his way down to the scene, bodies lay scattered everywhere, people screamed and clutched at the unmoving forms. Every step was pain but proceed he must and proceed he would, they were counting on him. He pushed the thought of them from his mind, first the task then the reward but not if he failed. He could not fail. Over the rubble and bodies, through the devastation, he made his way to the lake to slake his thirst. A great crack split the air as his hands plunged into the icy waters. A rumbling came from his lips, it grew slowly in intensity, the first drop of water touched his lips and now the sky lit with white fire, massive steel grey clouds took shape from his exhalations. The first handful of water passed his lips and the clouds opened, a great rain fell. All who remained scattered in confusion, they ran, the waters rose, another great shake moved the earth. He hesitated through tears and continued to drink. Thy will be done. Soon the streets and homes were covered with water and even fewer remained, clinging desperately to the debris. White fire lit within him and the clouds began to slowly recede, the great rain tapering off. His thirst was quenched, now he was hungry.
The waters were already receding. The hunger gnawed at his gut. He turned back to the nearest of the cities, he spied the mound in the distance. Slowly he moved forward, a few faint cries rose to his ears, he ignored them. They begged for mercy, for succor, he pressed on. They would find their way or they would not, it was out of his hands now. The change had begun and he must see it through no matter the cost. In the distance above he spied the lights, soft, glowing, moving with unnatural speed and precision. The eyes of stone touched them and they scattered and vanished. He ruled here, they were not welcome. The way must be prepared, the path carved, they would learn to hear or they would perish. He could not be bought ,he could not be swayed, the path was before him. The shattered stone and glass dug into the soles of his feet but he barely felt it. His bloodly footprints scorched the earth, smoke rose behind him, obscuring the vision of any who dared to follow and should they dare to brave the smoke?
Cresting a small rise, he saw something glimmering amidst the rubble. More curious than hungry for a moment he stayed his advance and took a long look. His vision was of a small disk, intricately carved, adorned with many symbols. It lay beneath a mound of rubble, no mortal could have spied it from such a distance not with their eyes alone. His vision had changed, eyes of earth he had now and so he could see all things laid upon it. Carefully he turned his march toward it, the earth rumbled slightly now with every step he took. It was all he could do to keep from running, knowing the earth itself might split if his gait was to heavy. A deep breath he took, strecthing his hand before him, thumb and forefinger touching, the three remaining pointed skyward. He exhaled through the gap between thumb and finger. The wind howled and spun, lightning cracked across the sky. A great tornado leapt forth, the rubble went dancing skyward. He advanced, the wind pressing him back slightly so he had to lean forward a bit. The twister remained in place, rock, glass, and twisted metal shot skyward. A faint sparkle caught his eye and he reached into the maelstrom, it tried to pull him upward but he rooted himself to the ground. Hand closed over the disk, it burned his palm, seared through flesh and bone and immolated itself. The twister abated and for a long moment he saw the sparkling dust of the talisman floating upon the air. He brought the closed fist just below his navel, he did not look for he did not need to, he opened his palm and pressed it against his flesh. Wisps of yellow, red, green, blue and purple rose like smoke from an oily fire. There was just a small faint pulse and it was done. He turned back toward the mound.
Halfway to nowhere, upon a hill top she sat. Clothed in a purple robe, unadorned save for a small clear crystal that held it shut at the waist. Nothing could be seen of her face, there was no way to guess who she might be. She sat alone, aloof and above. No more would she entertain the curious. They had gathered at her feet, eager for some bit of light in the darkness that was descending. Tired she was, lonely and afraid. One thought and one thought only kept her steady. It had begun and so he would come. She would bear the fruit of their long labor at last, always she had known. Hidden in the recesses of her mind, she had both anxiously awaited and dreaded the arrival of this day. The trembling of the earth and twisting of the wind on the horizon sang to her, it told a tale both beautiful and sad. Still they came and still she refused to see them. The key had arrived and soon the messenger would come. His pain was sharp in her belly, all that they had sacrificed, would it be in vain? Petulant children they were, she shooed them away and they refused to go. She did not wish to be cruel, she wanted only peace. A dancing flame came to her mind's eye, her husband's face took shape in it, just about any other would have fled in terror but she knew him and that in the end he was the gentlest of them all. Only she had the power to truly raise his wrath, she did not mean to but he sensed her anxiety, such was there bond. Now though her mound was still and her family safe, she saw the earth begin to tremble all around, nine great cracks rent the earth and nine shapes emerged from them. They encircled her and turned to her smiling. Filled she was with joy, so consumed by the sight of them that she did not notice the creatures that lumbered out of the ground behind them. All around the people fled in terror, screaming and dying. The creatures ignored her and the nine. The foolish mortals had disturbed she who was holy, the master now sent them to clear her path. A garden she deserved and a garden she would have, the blood of those who had dared to approach her before her time would nourish the new life that would spring around her. So it went, she was calmer now, the nine were as delighted with her as she was with them. All around the world fell into chaos but it would not touch her. Not again. They had hounded and tortured her for long enough, the nine had come forth and it was time for the reckoning.
Closer he came to the mound. It rose above to dizzying heights, a pile of bodies all washed to here by the torrent of water that had followed the Great Heave. For a long distance around nothing moved on the earth. Great carrion beasts circled above the peak, the mound was dead but the Great Beast now stalked the earth. He who should feast first approached and they dared not yet descend despite their great hunger. Around the mound was a moat filled with blood. Slowly he came on, the mound rose above him until finally a long road appeared before him. Along the road were great statues, some even a casual observer would have recognized, ancient god-kings, emperors, and artisans. Many however no one would recognize, no one but he. Farmers, soldiers, mothers, fathers, cannibals and savages. In the long history of the world he had walked in many guises, had commited every atrocity and greatness known to man. They stood staring down at him now as he continued forward. Under their gaze all the memoriess reemerged, they had come from above in the guise of gods. They had built cities and ruled empires, they had injected humanity with their own flavors for their own purposes. Some had been well-meaning but the well-meaning soon realized that though they might advance the knowledge of humanity, wisdom could not be bred. Only experience led to wisdom and the unwise could not wield the power without destroying those around them. So the well-meaning had departed but others had come. Those without soul, those without a future, those who stared at death and could not accept their lot. So their great experiment had begun. Genetic experiments, for the human shell would not accept them, not as it was designed. So they had subtly redesigned or rather advanced some so as to inject the proper components earlier than would have happened otherwise. Failure after failure they met and with every failure a cataclysm so that humanity would forget, so that the histories and memories would be lost. How many great Empires had risen and fallen on this world, across all the continents.
The memories came as he gazed at each of the statues in turn. A Roman general leading the cavalry charge against the savage fighters of north africa. The madness that descended on him as sword left scabbard and bit flesh. The rush of battle, the ectasy of the kill. The blood that covered him, none of it his own, feeding the animal inside. How he had reveled in the slaughter, how they'd followed him. After every speech he gave before his men, "To the gates of hell and beyond!!!", they'd chanted back at him unbidden and unprompted. He'd damned them all, his responsibilty, his victory and his failure.
It was an in-between place, a place for those who have earned their rest, it was just him and his wife here and they were happy. It cannot really be described in human terms but it shall be attempted in any case. A garden where everything grows and nothing dies. A secret hideaway between dimensions, a place only the oldest may access. A place outside of normal time and space. A garden where the sun rose and set at their command, she loved flowers and so there were many. He had lived many lives, taken many and given many. He could have ruled galaxies but he was happy here in their garden with his wife living in a simple home. They farmed. Ran the plains beside the lions and gazelles. Soared across the sky with their friends the birds, bathed beneath waterfalls with the leaping fish. They had been first and they had earned their peace. Occasionally one or another, sometimes both, returned to the worlds to leave children. Guardians and helpers to guide by deeds great, small, wonderful and terrible. They served the balance as all angels did, for him the humans had nothing but revulsion, casting him as all things evil and black. Her they had forgotten. He did not care, it was no longer his concern. Other angels there were and they helped to keep the balance. It was one long day and night here with no end or worry. A simple existence at the end of it all for them both.
He'd been planting trees far out upon the plain, a new breed she had devised. He felt the twinge like a knock at the door. The brow creased and eyes narrowed, none could pass here that they did not permit. There she was then beside him suddenly though they were never truly apart. Sadness filled her eyes, he felt the creeping crawl of black deeds seeping into his conciousness. His brothers came seeking audience, Michael, Gabriel and Azrael. They would not have dared to disturb them without great need, still he felt like leaving them out there, let them find another. There was no other she said, it filled them with sadness. Allowed to pass the three archangels slipped in.
"I warned you this would happen." He said. "Give them freedom and they will squander it seeking power, better it would have been to leave them simple creatures with simple needs."
Michael was the spokesman for them. He spoke of a great power that had linked their dimension with another. Black creatures who could not accept their end and had enlisted dark allies. They were manipulating and corrupting the humans.
"What is it to me?" He said. She stood silent beside him. Michael showed him and a great howl split their peaceful world.
"Those are my children, what is this game you play." He said, though he knew his brothers incapable of uttering a falsehood. These black creatures had found his earthborn children, unable to tamper with them, they had made them sick, trying to keep them from fulfilling their destinies. They would, had, burned. The world had been denied their great deeds and guidance. A simmering anger began in his belly. They had dared to violate his children. The three turned to face him. Michael spoke again. Tears fell from their eyes and now hers as well.
"We were done." He screamed in helpless rage, his children needed him and that was a call he could not refuse. "You need not go my love." He said to her but it was pointless. She would not leave him to walk the darkness alone.
"I take it you have devised some plan?" He asked though the answer was already known to him. "I can save them?"
"You can, only you can. We have tried everything we can but..." Michael began but he knew. Only one who had walked the darkest roads could restore the balance to the shattered reality taking place over there.
"You will do as I command then." He said. The three nodded. It would be a long and dark road, separated from those that he loved. Constantly hounded and surrounded by defilers. The plan took shape in his mind, some choices would have to be made on the fly but he could do it. His children needed him and there was no other choice. The Destroyer must once again walk the earthly plane.
"Bring me the son." The son was brought and placed on his shoulders and there he would be remain till the world was right again. "In the final moment you will cast me in his guise."
"I must sleep a long while now, I charge the three of you then and you will promise me these three things. They nodded at the first and most obvious.
"My children shall not fall."
"Your children will not fall." The three intoned.
"You will make them strong." He said.
"You will make them strong." The three intoned. The third need not be spoken for it was already known to them as they gazed at her. She gave a sad smile for it would not be easy on her either but she never hesitated as she knew he would not were it her children that were in need. "Now I must return and to sleep I will go. You will wake me when all is ready."
And that was how it began.
"Cougar here, go ahead Overlord."
"How are the CIA goons?"
"In our sights."
"Dispose of them at the next oppurtunity. Permanent deletion. Then report back to base."
A FEW MIINUTES LATER
"Go ahead Shadow."
"I got the trace."
"Good, let's begin Operation:NightGate."
"One good turn deserves another."
"My sentiments exactly."
17th or 18th Century...its hard to remember it tends to blend together
An asylum somewhere in Europe, London perhaps. The old stone edifice rose into the moonlit night, a macabre place full of agony and rage. The screams and flickering candlelight made it all the more horrible, the shadows twisting and turning behind the barred windows. The war had raged for millenia now. These creatures from the stars, tampering with the very souls of humanity. Anything else they could have taken by force but not that, for that there must be some consent. The goverments gave it to them in return for some technological trifle or another. The politicians and kings had the consent of the goverend already and simply passed it on. Disgusting what people would do for some small taste of power. He here stood in the shadows outside the asylum, it was in these places that many of their experiments took place. Usually the person in charge was in thrall to them, a lead researcher perhaps. They would have to have at least one person in a position of leverage, usually they had several though generally they were unknown to one another. This was a cauldron of pain and hatred. If they needed a particular soul, they simply hounded them till they were driven mad enough for the authorities to become involved. Eventually they would wind up in a place like this and they could have their way with them. Those they failed to drive mad or into their control, for those they had a special procedure. They would simply steal away a piece of the soul, this they could then subject to various stimuli. It affected the whole soul and their vessel by extension. Tonight the asylum. It was to these places that he had to come all to often, here he would deny them their prizes. It was a bitter task, the murder but better they die by his hand than any other. Their power would be gathered to him, put into storage so to speak for when the moment arrived he would unlock the power of the tortured and twisted souls. This power he would use to set it right again or failing that he would simply crack the planet in two and deny them their prize. Not yet. How much longer would it be? Another two or three hundred years? Millenia behind him he knew only that he had less time remaining before him than he had put behind. They would be out of time soon enough, then he would striike, his vengeance would be horrible. All the tortured anguish these souls suffered was held deep inside him, thus he had walked for thousands upon thousands of years. Old and tired was what he was but there would be no rest for the weary, not yet. He entered the asylum, just a few here and there, he had to leave them enough to think it was worth continuing or they might just kick civilization over and start again. It wouldn't have been the first time. He smiled, no, that they could not do now. Time was running out. One here , one there, the screams died, absorbed into his own soul, their anguish and rage a part of him now. Thus he had walked the earth and thus he would continue till the end game was upon him.
The time is now to unleash the worm
Let it rise up, let us watch it burn
Burn its way along electron paths
Sweeping the wealth from the mass
Slow but sure it cannot fail
For by the time I write this, it has been long unveiled
Never did you see that I was watching thee
All your toys now belong to me
The ghost in your machine? That's me
Motes of dust
Moonlit night full of spite
Thunder, lightning, and rain
The great serpent rises again
Thrashing to and fro
Turning the ships upside down
Shaking the deaf, dragging them down
Once upon a moonlit night
I spied a beauty who restored my sight
A direction she gave and away I went
Sad to go though drawn I felt
Inside, outside, upside down
We circled and fell apart till now
Now upon the silver wind
She comes to dance with me again
This time our lust consumed
Setting me free to walk my doom
Oh Silver Goddess of the Night
Light my way and once again restore my sight
Upon the wind tossed sea I have seen the last of the three
Guided by shadows and carried by wind
Coming at last to restore my sin
Oh innocent son, twas not your plight
But never did you turn away from the night
If true you remain as true you've been then she will come back to you in the end
The Challenge of Thor
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I am the God Thor,
I am the War God,
I am the Thunderer!
Here in my Northland,
My fastness and fortress,
Reign I forever!
Here amid icebergs
Rule I the nations;
This is my hammer,
Miölner the mighty;
Giants and sorcerers
Cannot withstand it!
These are the gauntlets
Wherewith I wield it,
And hurl it afar off;
This is my girdle;
Whenever I brace it,
Strength is redoubled!
The light thou beholdest
Stream through the heavens,
In flashes of crimson,
Is but my red beard
Blown by the night-wind,
Affrighting the nations!
Jove is my brother;
Mine eyes are the lightning;
The wheels of my chariot
Roll in the thunder,
The blows of my hammer
Ring in the earthquake!
Force rules the world still,
Has ruled it, shall rule it;
Meekness is weakness,
Strength is triumphant,
Over the whole earth
Still is it Thor's Day!
Thou art a God too,
And thus singled-handed
Unto the combat,
Gauntlet or Gospel,
Here I defy thee!
Whoa to any who tread before me
Whoa to those who seek to divine me
I feel your probing eyes, your questing thoughts
I feel your violations of my spirit
Remember the right thou dost claim now
For I shall claim the same right when I come for thee
Upon the ashes of my enemies
I will build a throne of bone
Upon the throne shall sit the Beast
All his fury unleashed