Author: Quinton Blackburn | Banner: Landon Soto
It was a world long lost to mankind. A world where giants roamed the earth and magic ruled supreme. It was a world of dragons and knights, of kingdoms and fiefdoms. It was a world that many felt was locked in statis, unchanging and forever the same as the years and decades passed. And yet, change was on the horizon. Kingdoms to the east brought in an explosive black compound they had used in fireworks, and disease ran rampant through numerous towns and settlements. A long, bloody war had begun to the north, a war many would not live to see the end of. Spring seemed to be arriving earlier and earlier each year, and the winters were becoming shorter but more brutal.
It was a dark omen for many, one that foreshadowed something far worse. That something worse came in the form of a great meteor that crashed into the earth several miles from a benevolent king’s castle. The villages that had been there were vaporized in the collision, but the worst was yet to come. From the crater had emerged a creature unlike any other, a beast not of flesh and blood, but an insect-like abomination. The king’s forces that had been sent to investigate the tragedy had found themselves beset by the monster and a swarm under its command. Lightning crackled from the beast’s split horn and vaporized any who had stood in its way. Arrows had only bounced off its hide, but that alone was enough to draw the ire of the nightmare and the swarm it commanded. Hundreds of knights and archers were torn apart by the plague, and now, the beast slowly made its way toward the king’s castle.
That was what the king knew, as he sat on his marble throne. The entire fiefdom had been evacuated to more distant villages at his request, but now, he was faced with a far worse problem. Within the hour, the beast would arrive, and who knew if it would stop. His entire kingdom was at risk. What had taken him decades to expand and improve from conquests and tribulations was falling apart because of a creature not of this world.
In desperation, he had turned to a witch, a sorceress that had dwelled on the outskirts of his kingdom. His entire life, he had heard the tales of this sorceress. That she alone communed with the devil. That she had been around for hundreds of years, since the Roman Empire. Many who had come before had tried to claim the head of the sorceress, and he himself had ordered his army to kill her for her witchcraft and the danger she supposedly possessed. Yet now, he had no choice but to lay his hopes on this woman, who was kneeled in the middle of his throne room, one hand over her bosom, and her long-tattered cloak draped against the stone floor.
“Witch, that is the situation I am faced with,” the king coughed. He shifted his aged, hefty frame in his throne and let aged eyes look upon the far younger looking, pale skinned witch. “My greatest knights are still out there, buying as much time as they can. My greatest advisors have offered me only two options: call for your help, or run with my tail between my legs. I have no other options, and if anyone has a solution, it must be you.”
The sorceress lifted her violet eyes up to the king. Her face showed no emotion he could read, only curiosity. Her obsidian hair was brushed back, and she let out a sigh as she stood. She was tall, a foot taller than the king had been in his prime, and half a head taller than the largest of his knights.
“I thank you for calling on me, and yes, I do have a solution. I know of this creature from visions, and what it brings to you. It is Legion, for it is many, and a beast from behind the stars. No weapon of man can pierce its hide, and its spawn will ravage everything in its path. “
“Legion… like the demon cast out by the Prophet…” the king muttered. Life… beyond the stars? Such a thing seemed impossible, and yet here he was not in a position to doubt such a claim. “And how can you stop it? Why is it here?”
“It is a harbinger of far worse, my lord.” The sorceress walked toward the throne. “The Star of Calamity follows, and it will raze this world as its own. A creature beyond even the gods, an archdemon given flesh. A fallen angel who will turn your kingdom, and all others beyond it, into hell itself.”
The king’s face paled as he heard this. “P-please, sorceress! Tell me! D-do you have a solution, a way to stop the end times? A way to save my kingdom? Anything you want, I can give you as reward!”
The sorceress’s lips turned up at the edges only so slightly. “There is a way, but we must act fast, my lord. And you won’t like the solution, for it could still cost you not only your kingdom, but your life.”
“And?” the king stammered. He forced himself up onto his feet, which buckled beneath his weight. “Tell me, what is it? WHAT IS IT?!”
“It is the Fallen God, my lord.” The sorceress leaned forward to look him in the eye. “The ancient beast, Rahab. I must awaken it from its slumber.”
As the last of the commoners fled the fiefdom, the knights and army of the king fought a losing battle. The swarms of the beast descended on them like a plague, and many were cut down and ripped to pieces. Yet, the swarm itself took heavy losses, as large boulders hurled through the air by catapults crushed through their ranks, and arrows tore holes into their hides, letting out the gasses that lay within.
A spear-like leg stabbed down into a catapult and sent those too close flying through the air from the impact. The great beast, Legion, slowly worked her way across the grassland, never peeling her cold, cerulean eyes off the castle. The large structure up ahead would make for a perfect place to establish her nest. She could sense it, a large deposit of silicon in the area. The high walls were perfect to protect the flower that would be constructed within, and here, her race would prosper. It was almost too perfect, if it weren’t for the annoyances that kept firing upon her and killing her brood.
A metallic, groaning screech echoed from her maw, and the lights above her head flashed. The Legion swarm’s attacks increased in ferocity, and they continued to plague the knights.
A rock struck her in the head. Though it did little to actually hurt the queen, it brought her full attention on the catapults that were aimed at her, in the heart of the village. Screeching in defiance, the queen’s horn split apart, and electricity crackled in the space created….
“Sorceress, you are playing with fire!” the king stammered as he cleared the top step. His crimson robes and white fur coat were drenched in his sweat, and he had to rub his eyes to see clearly.
“I know what I am doing, and it is the only way. Would you rather just your kingdom be crushed in the conflict, or everything being lost this day?” the sorceress snapped back. “Or do you need a minute to catch your breath, then give me an answer?”
The king glared daggers at her. They had ascended to the top of the castle, and from here, the king could see over his entire fiefdom. It was a lovely sight, now that he had the excuse to come back up here again. The village building and pastureland that stretched for miles, the grasslands beyond those, the forests and trees far to the horizon-
A pillar of fire and smoke filled his sight, and the next thing he knew, he was sent sprawling on his back from the resulting shockwave. He coughed and struggled to rise back to his feet. His head swerved out to where the plume was, and his heart sank.
Through the smoke, the creature marched. Its hide shone with a metallic sheen, and azure eyes stared straight ahead. A single horn jutted from its head, and from the sides of its hooded neck were a dozen writhing spikes. The creature was enormous, far larger than anything he had ever seen, and yet was carried along by several speared limbs that moved it closer to the castle. An unearthly screech echoed from its maw.
Legion was drawing nearer. It was now or never.
“Just do it! Bring the Fallen God back to life!” the king cried.
The sorceress rubbed her brow. “As you wish.” She then turned and walked to the ledge of the castle’s roof. She held her hand out over the edge. “I take it you trust the tales that this kingdom was founded on top of the Fallen God’s seal?”
“Growing up, no. But now I have no choice but to believe. And you?”
The sorceress turned her head back to face him. “Maybe, maybe not. But we’ll see now.”
Before the king could demand what she meant by that, he was stunned by the dark aura that seemed to surround the sorceress. Just looking upon her sent shivers down his spine. The energy he felt radiating from her… he felt the unnatural demonic power that channeled into her outstretched hand, and down to the ground far below.
“Oh Fallen God, I offer to you my power and the blood of nobility. Arise from your sealed slumber and return once more to the world of man. Let your fire cleanse this mortal plane and suppress the insolent who define your reign! Arise once more, Fell Titan!”
The king, realizing his cue, carefully walked up beside her. He pressed a small knife, only an inch long, against his hand, and cut in. He winced as he felt his warm blood drip down to the earth below, but any pain he felt was overshadowed as the earth itself cracked and heaved. He quickly began to backstep toward the stairs, as the earth groaned and rose.
“My lord, I present to you, the key to your kingdom’s survival.” The sorceress turned, and gave a low bow. Behind her, the earth split apart, and cottages and stores were flung into the air. A spiked tail rose up, and lashed out against the earth. A bipedal frame rose up from the earth, and smoke billowed from an opened maw. Three horns adorned the being’s head, two on the sides and one on the front. Jagged talons flexed and sharpened against each other. An ebony hide seemed to absorb the light of the sun itself, and a demonic, sinister visage glared down at the king and sorceress.
“The ancient texts refer to it as Rahab, but my line hold another name for the Fell Titan,” the sorceress proclaimed. “Bagan, the Fallen God!”
Bagan glared down at the humans before it with contempt. The last thing the great beast remembered was bloodshed and violence and being forced into a long slumber when it lost. What it also remembered was when it had been worshipped by ancient man, with offerings fit for a god like him.
This? This was no offering. Instead, while one was dressed in the proper garments for a worshipper of him, the other, the fat man, wasn’t. While deep down, he was somewhat grateful to be released from his seal, the lack of a proper offering, of even the proper etiquette of being approached by these mortals infuriated him. His maw opened, and light began to gather within the depths of his dark throat…
A sharp pain struck him in the back, and Bagan nearly fell forward. The sorceress stood her ground, and watched as the claws many times larger than her ripped into the castle only a few feet away. Bagan turned, and saw the reason he had been released. The strange insectoid creature before him let out another shriek as its split horn closed.
Bagan’s lips unfurled into a snarl. This THING, this PEST dared strike against a god?! The light that had been gathering in his mouth was now expelled, and the air cracked and hissed as a beam of concentrated plasma cut through to the queen. The beam crashed into Legion’s hide, and the insectoid menace was shocked at the power that was behind it. Her silicon body, normally able to withstand extreme temperatures, felt the heat of the beam, but even more so the explosive force which sent her sliding back. If she hadn’t had her legs hooked into the ground, she would have been blown onto her back straight up.
Bagan howled and the Fell Titan charged at the alien creature. At the same time, Legion lowered her head and charged at Bagan. The earth shook as the giants collided with one another. Yet, it was Bagan who was shocked as the air was knocked from his lungs. The queen’s horn struck him in the stomach, and the impact cracked the armored hide of the god.
Worse, he was being pushed back. Bagan tried to keep his footing, but Legion would not be denied. Her horn swung upward, and the next thing Bagan knew, he crashed into the ground several hundred meters behind the alien, who slowly turned back around to face him. The impact had rattled Bagan’s head, and the titan shakily rose to his feet.
Seizing an opportunity, Legion opened her horn once more. Electrical arcs danced in the space created as she tried to take aim. The beam was fired, but the blast was wide. Instead of a direct hit, the beam scraped the edge of Bagan’s shoulder, blasting away the armor that was there and spilling crimson blood onto the ground.
Bagan’s eyes widened as he realized what had happened. Blood… HIS own blood?! Spilled by this inferior atrocity?! Mortals had bene punished for far less, yet this was inexcusable! He would not stop until Legion’s remains were scattered across the land for this offense!
Energy channeling in his mouth once again, Bagan fired his plasma breath, but this time, the queen was ready. Electricity crackled from her side spikes, and an energy shield formed before her. The beam crashed into the shield and harmlessly splashed over. Legion let out another shriek, but this time, it sounded more like a laugh in Bagan’s ears.
The Fell Titan charged once again. The queen did the same, yet she realized too late it was a bait. Before she could collide with Bagan, the titan shifted his mass to the side, letting the queen move to where he had been, before he swung the full weight of his mass into her side. Legion’s legs buckled as she tried to remain upright, but it was the opening Bagan needed. He swerved to lash out at her and raked his claws against her hide. The claws punched through the silicon body of the insect and gas began to leak out. Legion cried in pain, but Bagan was far from finished. He latched his jaws around her horn and gripped his claws on her sides. Plasma was building up in his mouth. He was going to blow her head off here and now.
What he failed to notice, until it was too late, was the rapidly climbing heat coming from the horn.
A sharp cry came from the giant’s maw as he was forced to let go. Wasting no time, Legion opened her horn once more and fired. Despite how close the range was, the beam was a miss, and only hit the ground in front of Bagan’s feet. Plumes of earth and dust erupted outward, but while it had done little actual damage, Bagan was blinded by the bright light and the dust in his eyes. Worse, the kinetic force of the beam’s explosion against the ground had blasted Bagan onto his back.
Once more, he rose to his feet, but he could not see his opponent. In vain, he reached out with his clawed hands and swiped, but only felt the air. He stopped. He heard it, a repetitive thud which shook the very ground he stood upon…
Something slammed into him from behind, and Bagan’s face was reunited with rock and soil. He tried to stand up but found himself bowled over yet again. In his daze another blow struck him from the front, and the impact had caused the god to cough up blood. He ran his hand across his chest, and felt a gash opened up there.
Bagan’s anger boiled over. The enraged god turned and was about to fire his beam in every direction, when he noticed the dirt around him. The earth was torn open and resealed, but not from the battle, these streaks of brown were too precise. In his rage, a brief moment of clarity reached the titan. The insect, his opponent went UNDER the ground. He waited, and began to flick his tail again, awaiting for the ground to rattle once more.
The noise grew louder. He waited, honing on the exact direction the trembling originated.
It was to the left.
Bagan twisted his body, thrusting his arms outward to intercept a long, knife like appendage. The blade stopped mere meters from the dragon’s eye as the dragon took hold of the insectoid limb. Bagan grinned. Flexing muscles long dormant, Bagan ripped Legion from her burrow and smashed a multi-clawed fist into the inferior creature. A pained cry echoed yet a cloud of debris instantly filled the space between the pair.
Bagan wiped the dust from his eyes and blinked. Though the air was still filled with debris, he could see several spikes broken next to a large hole in the ground. The Fell Titan hissed. Had his foe retreated? Had a single strike been all it could take, and it fled with its life to rob him of the satisfaction of retribution?
Bagan’s answer came in the form of a pair of legs that erupted from behind him. Bagan whirled around in surprise, but he was too slow, and the legs slammed down into him. Bagan struggled to keep his footing and staggered back from the hit. From the earth emerged Legion, her azure eyes flashing red for a brief moment.
She swung her front legs again, but this time, Bagan was ready. Energy crackling down from his horns into his claws, the Fell Titan raised his arms. He caught Legion’s limbs in each hand, and with all his strength, yanked her forward. Bagan’s horn was driven into the chest of the insectoid being, and more gasses began to leak out. Now her eyes were flashing, and Bagan chuckled as the sky above turned dark. A thunderstorm was brewing.
What he didn’t realize, was this was an alert to the swarm, a cry to help their leader. The swarm, who were finishing off the king’s forces, heard their leader’s signal for help, and turned to converge on Bagan. As the titan prepared to sink his fangs into Legion’s head, he found himself beset by thousands of Symbiotic Legions that latched onto him. At first, it was a minor annoyance, but then pain seized Bagan’s world as they began to eat away at him.
Normally, Bagan’s hide would have been too much for the one-eyed aliens to get through, but the wounds the queen was able to inflict and the broken armor exposed easy areas for the swarm to infest and chew away at. Bagan relinquished his hold on the queen and tried to dislodge the swarm from him, but for the dozens he crushed or scraped off, more took their place. He was forced to close his eyes to keep the swarm away from such vital areas…
And that was just the opening Legion needed.
She lunged forward, and a blinded Bagan found himself knocked onto his back. The legs of the queen stabbed down and pinned the titan to the ground, and her horn once more opened up. Even with his eyes closed, Bagan could see the sudden brightness, and knew exactly what was going to happen.
His horns crackled once more, and the air above Legion filled with supercharged ionized gases. As Legion fired her beam, the gases rained down like diamonds.
The beam blasted through Bagan’s chest and shoulder and cut across his chest. Blood coughed up from the Fell God’s mouth. His entire right arm fell severed to the ground, the wound cauterized by the sheer heat of the beam. If the queen hadn’t had him pinned, the explosion would had flipped him over. The Symbiotic Legion had managed to move out of the way of the beam right on time.
Legion, however, had come out the worst in the exchange. The diamond storm had rained down upon her, and her hide had been riddled with holes punched through. Her horn had been caught by one of the hits, and had shattered from the impact. Many of the swarm perished in the diamond storm, vaporized by the extreme temperatures or splattered. Legion’s eyes dulled, and she slumped forward. All she had wanted was a place to spread her kind, and this thing had ruined it all. She tried to will herself to rise, to conjure her energy whips to at least kill Bagan, but she couldn’t even do that. She was too weak.
Bagan’s eyes began to close. When he had been unsealed, he wasn’t at full strength. The eons of slumber had robbed him of most of his power, and as he was, he was a shadow of his former self. In his prime, this bug would have been crushed, but instead, it had to end like this. Incapable of even killing such a thing…. What a waste.
The fiefdom was in ruins. Roads that had been used for hundreds of years no longer existed. Ancient farms and armories had been leveled or replaced with cavernous trenches dozens of meters wide. The bodies of hundreds of the king’s army lay strewn across the ruined fields. Many of the Symbiotic Legion swarm were perched on either their corpses or on the exhausted frame of their queen, uncertain as to what to do next.
From the entrance to the castle, the king reared his bald head. “I-it’s over… Sorceress… Sorceress, it’s over! You were right!” he exclaimed. He walked out of the castle and looked at the bodies of the twin giants. Never had he felt so small in his life, and yet, he was happy. “I cannot believe it!”
“Naturally. Who would believe a giant monster could save you from another giant monster? Perish the thought.” The sorceress walked past him. Her eyes scanned the ruins of the landscape carefully, as if looking for something. “The damage can be fixed. It’ll take some time, but it’s not irreversible.”
“Definitely not. It’s the lives I’m more concerned for,” the king muttered. “My finest knights… It won’t be easy to replace them. They sacrificed themselves for the greater good, but now… now we’re defenseless.”
The sorceress’s hand grabbed his face, and his head was turned to look her in the eyes. The violet haze in them seemed to bear into his soul. “You no longer have to worry about that. Leave all that to me. I have just the idea in mind for my rule.” She let go and turned back to the titans.
“W-wait a minute!” The king almost tripped over himself. “Your rule? I’m the king!”
“Not anymore.” The sorceress grinned. The dark aura around her radiated out and flowed around the titans. Their bodies stiffened and twitched as they fought it, but in their weakened states, they were powerless. Legion crawled off of Bagan’s body, and Bagan rose to his feet. Both turned to look down at the king, and their wounds slowly began to close up. “See, you said I could have whatever I want, and what I want is your kingdom. This doesn’t change the fact you and your ancestors hunted me down and tried to kill me. As far as I’m concerned, this is payback.”
The king’s face paled. All around him, the swarm was landing, and they had eyes only on him. “Help! HELP! SOMEONE, ANYONE! HELP ME! PLEASE!”
The sorceress shook her head. “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment. And for this opportunity to crop up. It’s perfect, really. Your guards are gone, your knights are dead. The only ones here are you, me, and my new servants. Don’t worry, your kingdom will become something far greater under my rule. I’ll stretch it from coast to coast – no, even further than that. This entire world will be under one kingdom, with the power of Bagan and Legion under my control. If they hadn’t exhausted each other so much, I wouldn’t be able to do this, but now, there’s no one that can stop me. So, rest with your fathers, King-“
A booming cackle cut off the sorceress. She turned to look up into the sky. All eyes did as well, even the king, who was too terrified at what he saw to move.
High above, the sky had become enveloped in a dark maelstrom. Lighting crashed and flickered across the sky, but what came with it was what made the king’s blood run cold, and the sorceress’s eyes widen.
A dragon descended from the dark storm, but unlike any dragon the earth had ever seen. Its scales were golden in hue, and light radiated from its body. Two tails swished behind it, each covered in spikes. Two taloned legs gripped the earth as the dragon landed, and both of its wings beat twice to keep it in an erect position. Three heads craned up to observe the two titans that looked back at it, each one crowned with a diadem of horns. The left head looked upon Bagan and Legion with a timid, almost frightened look, while the right head tilted, as if curious as to these creatures. But the middle head bared its fangs and let out a hideous cackle, a cacophony of noise unlike anything mortal ears had heard.
The Star of Calamity was here.
The sorceress steeled herself. Though this beast dwarfed her new servants in size, she had numbers on her side. There would be a world for her to rule, and this dragon, the King of the Abyss, would not rob her of it.
With rage in her heart a lust for death in her voice, she screamed, “Bagan, Legion, kill it!”
Draw: Bagan, Legion