The Winds of Ka-hooli

EVENTS NEWS #55
Date: 5/20/2014 at 3:36
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: The Winds of Ka-hooli

A lone figure waited, the mutilated and gnarled fingers of one hand clutching his cane. He allowed himself the indulgence of tapping its tip on the ground at an irregular tattoo; each strike sent a dull pulse of sound reverberating off of the stone walls of the cavern, only to fade away seconds later. The hollow cacophony was soothing, after a fashion, and it occurred to the man that like as not, he would not experience such quiet again.

For years, the thoughts and desires of people near and far had intruded upon the man, and he had been driven to act upon their rage and anger. He knew whom he served, and while the God of Vengeance had gifted him with power and purpose, it was only recently that He had granted him such startlingly clear visions. The man knew his service, such as it was, was drawing to an end.

The man felt an odd, satisfied detachment from this knowledge. He had cheated death enough times in his former life; besides, since being called, he was more a tool of his God than a man in any proper sense. He took no pleasures beyond the pleasure of vengeance achieved.

His pulse raced, as he felt his prey approaching, and the man twisted his charred lips into a smile. His Lord was kind; in his years of service, he had never been allowed to strike at those who had, in his own life, caused him the most pain. Now, at the end, a band of the goblins of the Ktzerk would meet their end at his hand. The man recalled his months of captivity, and he sensed that many of his tormenters - the one who had shoved the hot coal in his mouth, and the one who had delighted in removing his fingers with the blunt, rusty axe - were in the raiding party now approaching.

The Hadati had driven them off after a small skirmish, and the party was retreating with minimal casualties. The man chuckled, and the sound that filled the chamber was coarse, raspy, and without humor. All the more for him.

A few minutes passed in silence, as the main waited for the proper moment. Then, with a harsh prayer to his Lord, he willed a font of energy to rise from the cavern floor and burst through the ceiling above. With a keening howl, a beam of red-grey light twisted into existence and shot up through the ceiling and into the clear sky above. Goblins came tumbling into the cavern, screaming in shock and terror, as rock shot up into the night sky.

The man moved through them like a wraith, his black cloak fluttering about his emaciated figure. Here a finger across a brow, there a carefully uttered word of power; through the chamber the goblins' cries took on the plaintive quality of the horrified and hopeless. When the entirety of the party was subdued - several dozen, the man noted with some satisfaction - he set aside the holy strength given to him by his Lord, and set about his work with a few simple tools that he had brought for this occasion. As the moments dragged on, fingers were broken and severed, scalps were removed, lips were scarred...

...the man paused as he completed his work; he could recall no elation as sweet as what he now felt. Those goblins that had been his captors, those years before, had recognized him, and their recognition had been a sweet counterpoint to the agony he had inflicted upon them. If only he had been able to draw it out for them, as it had been for him.... but no, it was not his place to be greedy. His Lord had other plans for him, and this had been a remarkable gift; one, the man felt, offered in return for his years of dutiful service.

One task remained. The man took up position near the center of the cavern. The floor was slick with gore, and the air was thick with the stench of the dead. The hole in the chamber allowed a shaft of moonlight to give the chamber a muted, ghastly glow. The Grey Towers stretched overhead, and the stars twinkled. It would not be long now...

-----

"Desmond." It was the Moredhel the man had known would be here. The name rang hollow on his ears, as it had since he had been taken by his Lord; it was the name of his former life, the life that had been quenched that a servant of Vengeance might be born. And yet the name was as good as any; he had no other. Desmond reflected that the Moredhel would finally get his wish, and yet he could not help but chuckle that the sorcerer had allowed himself to be adorned with shackles for these many years as he awaited this conflict. Gifts from Prandur, Desmond had drawn pleasure from the symbol of subservience, a constant presence on the Moredhel as days stretched into months, and months into years.

Desmond broke the silence with a sardonic smile. "You are relentless." Behind the Moredhel filtered in an odd collection of warriors, priests, and magicians; Desmond felt, as well, the hidden presence of assassins come to strike at him from the shadows. He reflected, not for the first time, that he left enemies in his wake. Did they realize that he was merely an extension of their own wills? They might strike him down, but the hatred and anger that coursed through the living would never die, and neither would the God that gave him purpose.

But the time for reflection was past. With an unearthly howl, he threw back his head and filled the chamber with a ear-shattering howl. Some of his foes crouched defensively, while others pushed forward, bringing their considerable power to bear upon their foe. But Ka-hooli was with him, and Desmond responded with power and speed. And yet this battle would not be like his others...

-----

A group of warriors pressed him on all sides, keeping him off balance while holy and eldritch energies cut across the cavern. The air was acrid with ionization, and many of the corpses of the goblins, already mutilated and beaten, were now charred and pulped nearly beyond recognition.

With a spray of golden light, Desmond's defenses finally shattered, and the next attack leveled against him finally hit its mark - a beam of fire enveloped him, and Desmond felt his robes, hair, and skin ignite. He closed his eyes, and above the flames, his voice rang out clearly, "...just as in my visions..."

Further action was cut off as a chilling wind cut through the room - not at Desmond's command, but rather, he sensed, at the will of his Lord. The pain of the flames subsided, and he felt his body being lifted from the floor. Grim satisfaction consumed his mind, and Desmond smiled as, painlessly, his body disintegrated upon the wind.

Vengeance was an act of the will, and here, with so many driven to see his destruction, himself a vehicle for so much vengeance, the worship of his Lord was potent indeed. Through his disembodied mind's eye, Desmond saw power drawn forth from his own corpse and those others below; most especially, he noted with detached amusement, from the Moredhel sorcerer, whose mind, Desmond now realized, had been prepared for this moment years prior.

The power converged to a single point; Desmond sensed at once that it was beyond the perception of those mortals below, but it was clear to Desmond also that other energies were joining to the churning maelstrom, some from here but countless others sweeping in from other locations across the globe. Some were familiar to him, while others were foreign - aligned with his Lord's other facet of Justice, he sensed.

As a howling wind cut across Triagia, Desmond sensed the final tendrils of energy coalesce into the main mass; the energy then moved away, invisible and at unnatural speed.

His disembodied vision began to fade, and despite his incorporeality, Desmond felt a comforting, familiar chill. His senses faded...

...but it was not the end.

-----

As multicolored arcs of energy illuminated the mist, Tasiro meditated silently, his legs crossed and his eyes closed. The chamber in which he sat had opened through a crack in the temple of his Lord Ka-hooli some weeks prior. It was clear that it was tied in some way with a battle that had seen the apparent demise of Desmond, one of Tasiro's oldest enemies who, to his chagrin, had long been beyond his reach: Ka-hooli had claimed Desmond for service to His aspect of Vengeance, just as he and his wife had been called to His aspect of Justice. Tasiro had consoled himself through devotion to his cause, for advancement of the more noble aspect of his God was, beyond his duty, the surest way he could see justice done upon the man who had blinded his wife.

Tasiro had been pleased to hear of the battle, and he was confident that in time, his Lord would grace him with knowledge of the purpose of this mist-filled chamber.

As was often the case, while his conscious mind wandered, his subconscious chewed upon some problem. With a start, Tasiro realized that what at first he had blamed on poor focus was itself an effect of the mist. When he meditated in this chamber, his mind was drawn forth, almost intruded upon, by a sense of the hurt and injustices written upon the hearts of those spread across the world. With this revelation Tasiro suddenly sensed a latent power here; the image that pushed upon his mind more than any other was that of a relli from his home of Kelewan, waiting to strike unwary prey.

With confidence, Tasiro opened his eyes and smoothly rose to his feet. He realized now that he stood amidst a gift from his Lord to all those who would worship Him, wrought from faith and sacrifice.

Tasiro uttered a silent prayer of thanksgiving to his Lord, while all around him, the mist swirled, coalesced, and dispersed as if a thing alive.

Penned by my hand on the 28th of Agaeis, in the year 60.