Q'lir

In a land far away, in another time, another world, the Q'lir tribe and their spiritualistic shamans are prey in a country, controlled by a tyrannical pharaoh, and his twisted propaganda. He is seated in his throne, in the city of Aegon, pulling the strings of fate, as he aims to cleanse the land of the tribesmen, as he sees them heretics and blasphemers. But two, determined tribesmen will not stand idly by, as they see their tribe being sent to the slaughterhouse, by the pharaoh.

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10. Chapter 10: Sacrifice

The machine beeped a few times, and peered at the leaf. Suddenly, its hand turned around once, and peered at the other side of the leaf, before turning it around once again. A few sparks flew from its neck, as it turned the leaf once more. Aapep began chuckling menacingly as it turned the leaf once again. After it had turned the leaf several times, steam began erupting from it, mixed up with some smoke. After the smoke had replaced the steam, its hand seemed like it was simply spinning around, as the flashing lights on its head began cutting out one by one. Ammon shifted his glare between the machine, and Aapep, seeming quite confused. Suddenly, the hand stopped spinning and sparks flew from its neck, before its upper body slumped down into the lifeless position which it was in when it emerged from the hole. The Q’lirians stood silent at this spectacle, as the spot which it stood on let out a few bursts of steam, as it began sinking back into the middle of the platform.

Suddenly, another metallic voice was heard, this one sounding more like a woman “Greetings, inhabitants of Targus. We are happy to see that you make good use of the TDS and we hope you have a safe journey. If not, then activate the TDSG again, and hit the flashing green button, in order to gain contact with our superiors.” With these words, the same hole opened up again, this time sending a peculiar device up, which held nothing but a microphone.

“Speak into the microphone of where you wish to go, and we shall send you there, without any fee or the likes. Should you go so far as to break the device, you will be imprisoned here until our supervisors arrive, to charge you the repair bill.”

Ammon, taking the initiative as a leader, walked steadily up to the device, and said with a determined voice “the sands of Aloria please. And make it swift.” As Ammon said this, the device sunk back down into the hole and he took a step back. Suddenly, the pillars began glowing radiantly, as if they were being charged with enormous amounts of energy. A piercing whine began to sound, as the energy around the pillars suddenly began flowing out from the construction, and forming a huge ball of a mix between spiritual power, and electricity in the middle of the platform. Ammon stood shocked, and speechless at the scenario, as did Aapep and Ursal. Never had they seen anything like this. The ancients truly were unsurpassed master-minds, who dared to blend shamanism, and technology. As the pillars had been completely tapped of energy, the ball in the platform slowly began to flatten out. The light from this scenery pushed all nearby shadows back and sent several creatures scuttling away in fear of this peculiar construction.

The strange voice re-appeared and said “*beep* Sands of Aloria… Loaded! When the energy has flattened out, step into the portal, which will send you to your destination. Have a pleasant transport, and Machine-Corp hopes to see you soon… *beep*” The ball continued to flatten out, until it was almost paper-thin. Ammon quickly hurried over behind the rest of the tribe, and pushed them towards the portal. They hesitated and resisted, as none of them wanted to go first, but eventually they were shoved in, one by one. Ammon kept a stern face, as he pushed them through the portal, determined to get them to safety first. The portal just seemed like a thin wall of radiant energy, with no sign of home, so far. As the last wiggling tribesman was pushed through, Ammon let his shoulders drop, as he sighed deeply.

He smiled one of his rare smiles, and peered at Aapep and Ursal “So…. Our journey ends. It almost sounds tragic, when I say that, but it is all for the better.”

Aapep nodded with agreement “Quite. I must admit, this journey has been very enlightening. Heck, would I even go as far as to say, that it was slightly fun at times? Quite, I’d say so.”

Ammon glanced at Ursal “say, Ursal. Are you staying here, or do we have the honor of dragging you with us?”

Ursal suddenly seemed a bit offended and said “honestly, do I look like a person, who would call this forest of damnation, home? Well, I -did- build a shack out of wood and fur, but that doesn’t count. But yes, I would gladly tag along! I’ve never been out in the sands, I always lived in Aegon… And here, of course.” Ammon smiled, and gestured her to step through the portal, which she eagerly did.

As she disappeared into the thin wall of energy, he turned to Aapep and nodded at him “we shouldn’t keep them waiting, shall we?” Aapep let out a joyful smile, as his eyes shed a subtle tear, before trotting over to the portal. Their hearts where beating quickly. This was it. This was what they had tried to obtain, through this long adventure. Their home awaited before them and it only required a few steps, to get there. Exactly that is what Ammon did. He took a few steps forward, and quickly disappeared through the portal. Aapep suddenly felt abandoned and quickly followed Ammon, in a swift jump. As they vanished through the portal, it slowly began fading. The wall of energy began crumbling and the light withdrew to its dormant state again. As Aapep came jumping through, he did -not- see what he wanted to see. More or less, he saw a worst-case scenario. Of all strokes of bad luck, this one had to be the worst. If it was bad luck, that is. It was not the desert sand which flew around their feet, carried by a gust. It was not the relentless beams from the sun, which struck their face. It was not the endless mounds of sand in the distance, but something quite else. The mind-clouding stench of disease and decay struck them as they stood on the tough dark-purple ground beneath them. Aapep grabbed his head and closed his eyes, hoping with all his heart that it was a nightmare. Ammon stood completely in awe, fear and distress, resulting in that he simply stood there with a blank face. The ground was infested by corruption, where huge, purple spikes stood up from the ground, the size of a few men on one another’s shoulders. And in the near distance, stood the pride of corruption: Ravar, the beacon of decay and death, the volcano which served as the root of all this corruption. Once was the Cursed Lands simple another province of the Sands of Aloria, but since Ravar’s eruption, it was changed forever. Plaque spread like wild-fire, killing off anything which it got close to, or transforming them into walking abominations. Ammon dropped to his knees, sweat rippling from his body, as he glared upon his last resting place. Suddenly, a strange mist came rolling down the side of Ravar, heading straight towards Ammon and Aapep with great haste.

It seemed so distant, yet it approached them within seconds and began circling them, as a shark circles around its prey “well well well… It seems the prey comes to the hunter, this time. Well, of course not on purpose” A deep, intimidating voice spoke, as Aapep opened his eyes, finding him in the middle of this menacing mist, where he saw a pair of glowing eyes within it.

The eyes quickly faded away, and appeared elsewhere within the mist “I guess I can pride myself, that I was the one to create a subtle flux in your transportation device, sending you straight to the maw of the lion.” The voice spoke once more, as Ammon peered up, before wiping some sweat off his face, trying to look determined and clear in mind again.

The eyes faded, before an intimidating chuckle surrounded them “Oh the tragedy. You truly thought you were to return home, did you not? But know this: I have been watching you, ever since you journeyed out from your burning home. I have been watching with a prying eye, as your souls began to grow stronger, and more… Delicious! And now, you are ripe for the picking! Step into the mist, and be devoured, little one…” Ammon jumped up on his feet and drew his dagger from its sheath. He snarled at the mist, unable to find those glowing eyes.

“Oh, so the prey bares its teeth, hmm? All the better, for I will enjoy devouring a feisty soul.” With these words, the mist began to collect itself in front of Ammon and Aapep, who now had huddled together, standing side by side. It thickened up, showing faint signs of movement within. It slowly began forming the shape of a humanoid, which levitated a few inches above the ground. Aapep stood with his hands folded together, ready to conjure spiritual force. The mist continued to collect itself, suddenly giving the humanoid shape some substance. A cruel and menacing laughter was heard, as the mist finished its process, and before them stood the greatest being of evil, ever to set foot upon the world: Zachet, the spirit of corruption and lord of the Cursed Lands. Long were his claws, and great were his horns, as he stood levitating before them. He was dressed in shaggy purple robes, which barely covered him at all. He was dark purple and his skin seemed rough and hardy. His fangs stood out like daggers from his maw, as he smiled at them with a hungry flare in his eyes.

“Back, demon! Back to the netherworld! You have no place in Targus, or that beyond!” Ammon said, thrusting his dagger in Zachet’s direction, whilst baring his teeth.

Zachet burst out in laughter, as he saw this “Oh please, you’re cracking me up! But nevertheless, feel free to jab at me… An angered soul can be quite tasty at times.” Quickly, Ammon pounced at Zachet, and jabbed the dagger at his belly. Zachet smirked at him, as the dagger struck his belly, and bounced back, as had it hit a boulder. Zachet, chuckled, and retaliated with the back of his immense hand. Ammon slumped onto his back, and rolled up on his feet again, and snarled at Zachet. Aapep took the chance to launch series of sharp rocks at him, every single one of them bouncing off his tough skin. “Save your power for later, shaman. I’d hate to eat a depleted soul, you must know” Aapep grunted at this comment, and began conjuring energy from the spirit of fire. Zachet steadily moved towards Ammon, with a mischievous smile on his face. Aapep leaped over to Ammon, and let the fiery energy swirl around his blade, as Zachet neared.  As he was within distance, Ammon spun vigorously around once, and cut out into the air, sending a scorching wave of immolating heat towards his foe. The heat scorched a few of his ropes, but simply rolled off Zachet himself. As he approached Ammon, with a determined glare, his right hand began conjuring purple malicious energy, which he launched at his prey with relentless force. Ammon was hurled back, as he accidentally tossed his dagger meters away. Ammon fell flat on his back and his air in his lungs flew out like a punctured balloon. Aapep squealed at this, and quickly conjured a pair of battle-axes in his hands, and lunged himself at Zachet. He knew it would be a failed attack, but he was simply following his instincts, in protecting Ammon. Zachet eyed Aapep, and rammed him with a clenched fist, sending him flying away. He landed on his butt, quite close to the dagger which Ammon had dropped. Zachet turned his gaze to Ammon, who lay helpless on the ground, with no dagger and no courage to carry on. Zachet approached him, while licking his lips and reaching out towards him with a purple, clawed hand. Ammon closed his eyes, and yielded. He submitted to the deadly grasp of the corrupter, which would eagerly feast on his soul. As his claws were mere inches from his face, Zachet let out a surprised grunt and halted his slow assault. He let out a struggling moan, as he withdrew his clawed hand from Ammon. He quirked an eyebrow at Zachet, who was now sweating heavily. As Zachet withdrew, Ammon spotted Aapep a few meters away, who was sitting on his knees, panting heavily. He had taken Ammon’s dagger and pierced his own chest with it, whilst chanting forbidden chants.

Life, some short, some long

Taker and giver, let us hear your song

Cleanse the heretic, show us your glory

Life for righteousness, bring an end to the story.

The knife within him began shining radiant bright light, as his body was suddenly dissolving. Zachet’s body was shaking furiously, as a faint glow inside him powered its way through his touch corrupted skin. Zachet began screaming with a piercing voice, as the light ripped holes in his body from within. The light was blinding, only letting Ammon see the faint shape of Zachet and Aapep. Beams of light began bursting out of Zachet, out of his belly, his legs and arms and his eyes and mouth. Ammon shielded his eyes, as the screaming ceased and Zachet combusted in a radiant show of light. Ammon struggled to turn his head to Aapep, who now was lying on his stomach, slowly dissolving to a pile of pure, white dust. Ammon mumbled his name, but his voice was too weakened till he could even hear it himself. Ammon gasped for air, before he slumped onto his back, his eyes slowly closing. He was breathing heavily, as his eyes gently sealed off vision to the world, but through a slim line in his eyes, he saw a bright light break through the sky, which otherwise had been shrouded in purple fumes. His last waking sights were of a luminous figure descending from the sky above. … “Ammon?”

“is he awake?”

“is he alive?”

“his heart is beating, so he must be!” Ammon grumbled at these voices. They seemed strangely familiar.

“Oi! He said something! Or, he -tried- to say something” This voice seemed rather disturbing, in a peculiar way. It was a woman’s voice, which spoke in a strangely childish way. Ammon slowly forced his eyes slightly open, and saw the shape of several people leaning in over him.

“where… Where am i?”

A delighted squeal suddenly sounded “he lives! Get up sleepy-head, you aren’t dead quite yet!” He forced open his eyes more, and saw Ursal leaning in over the other people, beaming widely. The faces of his fellow tribesmen were everywhere, every single one looking very concerned and worried. Ursal placed a quick smack on Ammon’s cheek, suddenly seeming quite insulted

“oi! What kind of leader is sleeping, when his people need him? Get up, before I smack you again!” Ammon twitched at the smack and squinted his eyes at Ursal.

“and what kind of follower smacks her leader, hmm? Not a very good one, I’d say!” Ammon forced himself up into a sitting position, and peered around. He was somewhere in the Sands of Aloria, with partially raised tents surrounding him. The sun was high on the sky, as it usually is in these parts. He found himself sitting on a wooden table, surrounded by tribesmen and women… And Ursal.

“Well, now that you are awake, let me bring you some of news. Good news, actually. The inhabitants of Aegon have gotten enough of the pharaoh’s tyranny and have thrown him off his throne through a rebellion. The Cursed Lands are retracting rapidly and Zachets generals have fled back to the netherworld. Oh, and also, apparently your folks want me to become their new “high shaman” seeing how Aapep… Well… Didn’t return. “ Urasl said.

Ammon nodded. “ I see… Well in that case, I guess everything is good…” With these words, a discrete tear rippled down Ammon’s cheek, and dropped off his chin.

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