Authors: Christopher De Sousa
Together, the Naacal channelled what energies remained and fought to conceal this cloaked fiend within the vortex. Namtar, encased in darkness, struggled to break free from this prison formed of his own element. But the ghoulish figure could not undo his folly. Having gained the upper hand amidst the conflict, the Naacal forced the ailing Namtar downward and into the remnants of Atlantis. Namtar, Atlantis, and a large proportion of Lumeria, thereafter plummeted beneath the waves, never to be seen again.
With his powers greatly diminished, Ra collapsed from exhaustion upon a coastal shore. Though he'd succeeded in ridding the world of Namtar, he had lost his home, and was left to lament his failure.
In the passing years, survivors of Lumeria resurfaced, and rebuilt new homes for themselves throughout the world. As for the Naacal, they eventually faded into obscurity.
There were those who believed the Naacal had passed on and into the nether. There were others who believed they lived on within a state of prolonged hibernation, and there were those who believed that they still walk among us to this very day. One thing was for certain: the Naacal had defeated Namtar, and had thus saved the world. But there were those Corrupted that had survived: spirits who escaped from the dimensional tears and who inhabit earthen bodies; whether human or beast.
Through howling winds and heavy rain, a lone seabird toiled between the waves in search of food. The moon above, which reflected upon the water's surface, revealed the faintest flicker of light from beneath the waves. The seabird dived, deep into the cold and dark depths of the ocean.
For a brief moment, these raging winds and torrential waters shifted into a sudden calming of nature's elements. But then a shadow emerged within the still water, expanding amidst the moonlight. Bigger and bigger, the shadow crept across the sea's surface and nearer the shore. A small blotch of crimson made visible, dispersed and formed two giant reptilian eyes. Green barbs pierced upward through the water, shattering the tranquillity and reprising a storm's fury. The giant head of a serpent shot high up into the air; the creature's jaw opened. Long and jagged teeth lined swollen gums. A bundle of loose feathers trickled down from the side of its mouth, and the serpent's head lurched forward, its giant snout coming to rest on the narrow beach.
Three shadows leapt forth from its snout. They gracefully landed upon the damp, solid sand of the shore. One of them, who went by the name of Rabisu, glared back at the serpent with eyes that smouldered like red flames. He glanced down at his clawed feet, and hurried to shake the sand from his soles.
A second figure soon stepped forward beside him. She removed the cowl of her cloak, and sifted through her soaked locks of thick black hair with pointed fingers. She was a youthful looking woman, both elegant and fair. But Rabisu knew all too well that this âbeauty' was nothing more than a ruse. He believed it difficult for anyone to be possibly fooled by such a faÃ§ade, given that she still hadn't concealed the little dark horns protruding from her forehead. He glared back at her with disdain as she gazed upward at the summit of a cliff face, and followed her after she'd ascended. Upon reaching the top, he resolved to squat down and he once more frantically scraped away at his sand covered feet.
“Over all expanses of the shoreline, Kur chooses to drop us off hereâ¦”
Rabisu wasn't exactly fond of this serpentine creature. For many years now in service of his lord, both he and Kur had something of a rivalry: one that had transcended from a harmless skirmish to an all-out war. And now that he and Kur were both anointed Reapers in the Lord of Darkness' court, this resentment for one another had only intensified. To be a named Reaper: was to claim a title that bore the holder a significant scope of territory within the underworld. When Rabisu was first appointed, Kur had deemed him unworthy and confronted him for his share. Rabisu however was not the sort to back down from such a challenge, and they had fought over Rabisu's territorial claim ever since.
“You make it sound such an inconvenience, and as though Kur dropped you off along the shoreline out of spite. It's only sand. I fathom it's simply in your nature to whine, and that you just like the sound of your own voice,” said the young woman.
“My dear Lilith, it's a matter of principle,” he responded, peering down the cliff face and off toward the departing Kur. “He is well aware that I hate the sea. The mere presence of its salt is enough to put me on edge.”
Despite the distance that now separated them, his glare had not wavered from the serpent. At least, that was until his line of sight had been impeded by the emergence of a third figure atop this precipice; one he had also come to despise. Before him, and drawing his ire, this third figure vigorously brushed the sand away from his drenched cloak and grasped hold of a porcelain mask.
“Your problem Rabisu is that you complain too much,” this third figure had coldly stated. “And this is why our lord finds you both insufferable, and expendable.”
Rabisu refused to accept this. He rose and met the masked figure, and examined his face of porcelain with a mocking expression.
Rabisu leaned forward. “Did you say something Alu? It's difficult to understand anything you mumble out from behind that ugly mask. Why do you hide behind it anyway? What if I were to remove itâ¦”
Threatened, Alu immediately leapt backward and reached out at Rabisu through a pair of gloved hands.
“I have waited over the last millennia to banish you from existence,” Alu grunted, shifting his gloved fingers through the air. “Give me just one more reason that might reward my patience.”
“That's more like it.” Rabisu shed his own cloak and lunged at him with outstretched claws. “I revel in getting under another Corrupted's skin. It only serves to validate me as superior when he or she loses composure before my taunting.”
Before either one could further undertake their threats, Lilith had placed herself between them; by constructing two swarming walls of insects: impeding potential conflict.
“Rabisuâ¦ Alu, my dear brother, you must save your energies for these so-called heirs of the Naacal,” said Lilith. “We've been gifted this great responsibility. Let us not disappoint our lord.”
“I'm not really the sort to heed another's warning,” Rabisu sighed. “But in this case, I am content.”
It wasn't because of any Naacal heir that he chose to act with caution. Rabisu believed, regardless of whether these humans might have inherited a fragment of a Naacal's power, that humankind were still weak - made of tender flesh and the most brittle of bones. But it was the ramblings of a certain water guardian within an Indigo's service that made him apprehensive. For an Indigo, as they'd often been referred to in history, was a Naacal heir who had ascended and formed a celestial bond with a guardian. This celestial bond was known to possess and supply an Indigo with great power.
“Well, now that you've proven fearful of challenging me, lead the way to these supposed heirs of the Naacal,” said Rabisu, picking at his teeth with his claws. “It is clear you are no match for me.”
Rabisu wasn't the least bit surprised to see Alu dismiss this additional slight
. Even if he wanted to, what else could he possibly do about it?
All Alu did was glare back at him through the slits of porcelain, before promptly, a strong beam of yellow light pierced forth from behind the openings of his mask. Through this light, the spirit panned about the coastal landscape.
“Our lord said we'd pick up of their scents the further we travelled eastward.”
Rabisu glanced back at Alu with his nose raised, hoping the masked Corrupted would resume their hostile exchange of words. But once it had become clear that Alu was no longer willing to engage him, Rabisu let down his guard; stretching his upper torso of black marble, and adjusting his stiff neck. Once more, he tried to draw the Corrupted's ire by flexing a pair of dark vampiric wings before his porcelain face.
“You're no fun,” he said, his gesture having been ignored. He beat his wings, ascending high up into the night sky.
While he flew, thoughts flooded his mind of why his lord had sent for him to deal with this threat.
It was an age since a Naacal descendent had challenged their rule
, he thought to himself.
Those few Corrupted; those who've chosen to join their cause and become guardians have grown scarce. During this era, few bonds with humankind have been made
It seemed to him his lord was living in the past, haunted by what could have been that fateful day seventeen years ago atop a rocky precipice. It was a day when humanity had finally made a stand. It had also been a day to remember when a rogue organization, led by its
had managed to push lord Namtar to the brink of his power. But to send his servants, including those of high rank, to subdue a lone water guardian based on the pitiful rumblings of a weak and pitiful subordinate? Well he believed it entirely unnecessary, and couldn't help but question his lord's intent. The only rational explanation he could come up with was that the Lord of Darkness must sense his future of the surface world slipping away
. If Namtar is indeed vulnerable
, he realised,
then perhaps there's a chance for a certain âwinged disciple' to usurp his rule.
First, and of greater priority, Rabisu knew he needed greater strength. He sought nourishment, which involved leeching the spiritual energy of earthen beings. Any heir of the Naacal would prove a banquet. But right now, he may have to settle for even an appetizer.
He sought through the thick fog. There was a township riddled with bright lights lay below. He descended, landing gracefully atop a tiled roof, and then peered down a dark and winding alley. As he scanned about in the darkness, letting his blood red eyes trail along a series of footpaths and about the sharp sides of numerous buildings, he soon sensed a pair of frightened blue, mortal eyes gazing back at him. His hunt had begun.
With haste, Rabisu pursued the fleeing round the corner of a building. He saw his prey frantically dart toward a nearby street lamp. He couldn't help but chuckle to himself as he watched it cower behind the steel post of this street lamp. Even though he found the sight of his prey ungainly, he found himself impressed that this mortal had successfully spotted him in the first place.
As he approached the street lamp, he pondered what might be going through his food's mind.
If this human thinks the light of a street lamp will bring him salvation
, he thought,
he is sadly mistaken
Once Rabisu drifted into the light and showed off his gargoyle-esque features, the human quickly scurried away from behind the lamp and made for an adjacent alley. Rabisu slowly crept after him. Up to this point, he was toying with his food. He followed the human up to a barbed wire fence at the alley's end, and with nowhere else to run or hide, the human desperately tried to scamper up and over the fence.
“I'm afraid this is where the game ends,” Rabisu whispered.
The human let out a shrill cry as he swooped down to feed. But he was given little time to enjoy his meal, for he sensed the presence of another close by.
“There is little need to waste time devouring so small a morsel of energy,” a familiar voice grunted down at him.
Interrupted amidst feeding, Rabisu peered up at a nearby rooftop. Lilith lazily stood there observing. He tore back the hood of his victim's jumper and brandished a young man's lifeless body before her watchful gaze.
Rabisu frowned. “Is this what we're supposed to be cautious of? Now, will you quit bothering me whilst I enjoy my meal? You should have the same intent, in case we run into this water guardian so soon.”
Before turning his attention back on the neck-line of his victim, he watched Lilith finally leave him to his own devices.
It had been an age since Rabisu last tasted so fine a source of energy. He found the morsel rejuvenating, although insufficient to fill his celestial energy. In truth, the meal had only heightened his thirst.
The rain was now falling heavily. Rabisu wrapped himself in his thick cloak and left the alleyway. He dashed back along the street â but found himself halted by the blinding beam of an overhead spotlight. He scanned up and about the rooftops where many armed operatives now had their weapons directed to fire at him. There was no mistaking it; these were definitely men in service to this organization he'd come to learn so much about. Their uniforms were military attire of navy blue, riddled with belts and buckles across combat vests. Upon each sleeve's shoulder was a familiar distinctive logo of two rifles running perpendicular, and overtop were two letters printed in bold yellow ink. Without doubt they were those described as worn in Namtar's famous battle.
“Project Indigoâ¦, I suppose it was only a matter of time before we ran into your regiment,” Rabisu sighed.
The operatives opened fire on the winged Corrupted, but Rabisu, not the least bit intimidated, merely scoffed and shed his cloak before he retaliated. He manoeuvred about the Indigo operatives, dodging bullets without exerting any real effort, and thrashed at them until they could no longer fight back.
For Rabisu, this was ecstasy. It had been so long since he'd felt such joy, and a wide grin had become cemented upon his marble face. But his fun was soon interrupted. A lone dagger of ice crashed at his feet. He looked down at the dagger, and at a cloaked figure that had emerged before him. The figure shed her cloak, revealing a most beautiful and womanly physique beneath.
“So you must be the water guardian that has Asag shaking in his boots. I must confess, you are indeed a breath-taking sight,” said Rabisu, admiring the Corrupted's beautiful, slender, and dark blue complexion. “To think when we passed through those inter-dimensional tears and sought a host, that you would find one so alluring to make your own. Tell me, why would you waste such beauty upon those of lesser value?”