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The Tale of Luthor

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The difference between angels and demons largely depends upon perspective.” The philosopher Volgard’s final words before his execution for heresy.

Circa 1190 2nd Age of the Emperor.

Summary

King Luthor, blood of Durin, and last king of Westmarch, was the principal culprit for the event known as the Ending Times. The seed of Luthor’s tragic demise was founded in fear. For the king loved life dearly, and was terrified of his own eventual death. He therefore sought immortality so that he might escape death and live forever.

The king, in his quest for immortality, unknowingly underwent a demonic ritual by walking the Black Road. The ritual bound the king mind-and-body to the will of the demon Kabraxis. This ritual of binding transformed the king from the noble man he once was into the demon he became. This demon is known today as the “Lord of One-Hundred Mouths”.

The demon is called that because it consumes whole the bones and flesh of its human victims. It then absorbs its victim’s flesh into its own abominable body. Thus, by absorbing parts of its unfortunate victims, the demon now possesses dozens of clawing arms, legs, ears, and as many gaping mouths. The only thing the creature lacks for is eyes, for it is blind to the beauty of the world. The only emotion the demon feels is hunger. Hunger and an insatiable appetite for human flesh.

The Lord of One-Hundred Mouths, currently resides in the darkest region of the whispering forest, in a cave that bellows forth the horrifying stench of rotting meat. In times of famine, or crop failure, peasant villagers follow the local tradition of sending their scrawny, malnourished children alone into the forest to be devoured by the monster there.

Fear

King Luthor ruled the kingdom of Westmarch for over two decades now. The kingdom had prospered in the years that he had reigned. The kingdom was no longer rapidly expanding by grand military conquests, because in truth there were few peoples left to conquer. King Luthor’s ancestors, Durin most notably, conquered the world, and now Luthor ruled this continent spanning realm. But governing a realm of such size is far harder than winning it, and the work of governing it is endless.

This particular night – as Luthor gazed at the glowing embers of his chamber’s fireplace – his thoughts shifted towards fear. Luthor always knew that he could not live forever; but a full appreciation of this inescapable fact registered with him this night. Luthor was no longer a youth, he was already now well into his middling years. His head was balding, and his strength was no longer what it had once been. No matter how great his achievements, he too would be turned to dust and forgotten in the annals of history as all his ancestors before him. It was not really death that the king feared, but rather not living enough.

What if there was a way to extend one’s life? What if he could live forever and never die? The tales of immortality must have some truth to them after all. Right?

Suddenly the light from the fireplace dimmed and the shadows on the walls grew longer and more menacing. An icy wind clawed its way through the crevices of the stone walls. The wooden window shudders rattled hard as they were thrown open by the violence of the raging winds outside. “Blast this decrepit, drafty castle!” Luthor cursed out loud to nobody in particular as he raced to secure the window shudders. A bat flew past him as he struggled with the window shutters.

After Luthor finished securing the window shudders again, he heard a voice coming from behind him. “If you are brave there is a path to realizing your dreams.” Said the enchanting voice.

Luthor turned from the window to see an attractive woman smiling back at him from the other side of his private chambers.

“Who are you and how did you get past my palace guards?”, the king demanded.

“I, dearest Luthor, am the Angel Kabraxis. I am known as the Opener of Ways, and I am the steward to the Way of Dreams.”

“The Way of Dreams?” King Luthor stammered. “You truly are an angel then?”

“Yes I am.” said the Angel Kabraxis, “You see, Luthor, there exists a narrow path between the mortal and immortal realms known as the Way of Dreams. This narrow path takes on a different form for each person that walks upon it, and it involves confronting your deepest held fears directly. Those who possess the courage to walk the Way of Dreams are rewarded with what they most desire” Kabraxis spoke. “What is it that you most desire, Luthor?”

“Immortality”, said Luthor. “I want to live forever as no other man ever has before. I want to be unyielding in the face of time.” He said with utter certainty.

“I will guide you, but you must walk the Way of Dreams alone. Lastly, once you begin upon the path you may not return until you have finished. Only then will you be granted that which you most desire.” said the Angel Kabraxis.

“I am brave enough to face my fears. I wish to walk the path.” said King Luthor.

“Good”, said Kabraxis, “Very good.”

The Way of Dreams

The human sacrifices have been made, the portal is now ready to be opened.” Said the Angel Kabraxis.

The King and the Angel Kabraxis were standing in a dark chamber hundreds of meters beneath the city streets of Westmarch in the ancient catacombs that formed a labyrinth of tunnels deep underground. The catacombs were built by a lost civilization that predates even the Kingdom of Westmarch. The catacombs had been abandoned for thousands of years; and they made an ideal site for the ritual. No one must be allowed to interrupt the Angel’s work.

A portal, oval-shaped, and adorned with skulls and human bones stood against a wall on one side of the catacomb chamber. The bone portal appeared to be bleeding and Luthor felt sick just looking at it. The center of the portal suddenly came to life and a swirling void of pure blackness appeared. King Luthor stood directly in front of the swirling portal, as the angel directed him, and he could smell the strong stench of blood and the deathly reek of the damned.

“You may now walk the Way of Dreams”, said the Angel Kabraxis.

The king took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and then stepped forward into the swirling, black void. When he opened his eyes again he found himself standing alone in a field with the full moon directly overhead. Heavy fog covered the land which obscured visibility beyond a few meters. He felt his feet sink deep into the marshy earth underneath him. The king made a face of disgust, then proceeded to lift his rich, fur-lined boots from the muck and trudged forwards.

He saw a shape emerging from that fog ahead and stopped. The shape took on greater definition now, and he now saw that it was only a stone statue. As he continued walking he saw more and more of these stone statues. It was a graveyard, but why was he here? Angels of death, sculptures of saints, and gargoyles of warding all stood guard over the restless dead. The stone statues seemed to watch Luthor with their cold, stony eyes.

Suddenly a vine snagged the king’s foot and he tripped and fell. The vine did not let go through, and instead it wrapped itself even tighter around his leg. Skeletal hands burst out of the marshy ground of the graveyard and grasped at him. Luthor twisted-and-turned until he was finally able to free himself. Then he ran.

But the king had nowhere to run to. It was a graveyard and the undead where emerging from the ground seemingly everywhere around him. He was surrounded, he stopped for a moment in vain to look for a possible escape avenue – but there was no escape. That’s when a skeletal hand grasped at his leg and he fell to the ground again. The king screamed as even more skeletal hands emerged from the marshy ground and grasped at his body. The hands dragged him into the sinking quagmire of mud. The mud surrounded him and the king took one last gasping breath before his head was dragged under.

The Ending Times

King Luthor saw only blackness now. He was alive he knew that much, but he felt totally different. He went to feel for his face and felt his limbs were grotesquely out of proportion. His eyes were gone, he saw nothing but blackness. He let out a scream of horror, but instead of his voice he heard a growling and monstrous noise. What…what was he now? He felt so very hungry too, if only there was something to eat.

“You wanted to be immortal Luthor, and I have given that to you”, said the Demon Kabraxis. “You were the key to open the Black Road between the burning hells and the world of Snejhammer. This can only be done by a willing mortal, and you have played your part perfectly.” The demon smiled.

The Lord of One-Hundred mouths said nothing in return except for animal-like grunts. It shuffled forwards to the bodies of the human sacrifices leftover from the ritual. “No use letting such good meat go to waste” the demon that once was King Luthor thought as it began to consume the corpses one-by-one.

“At last the bridge to the burning hells is complete! Thanks to your help, my master, the Wanderer lives yet again and her armies can now cross into this mortal-realm. The time of ending has arrived for Snejhammer!” the demon Kabraxis cried.

On the surface far above the catacombs of Westmarch there was a great tearing sound as the sky itself was torn open by the violent birth of a new god of Chaos known today as the Wanderer. The city was bathed in a purple light as the sky turned into a swirling maelstrom of violet color. Lightning and fire reigned down upon the city of Westmarch. Buildings caught fire and burned.

The ending times had come.

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