The Empress of Blood

The Earth we know wasn’t always like this. Many, many thousands years ago, it had two great continents in her, floating amidst the abyssal mass of water. To the north was the land of winter, a harsh terrain dominated by miles and miles of tundra, and impassable, defiant mountain ranges. To the south, was the land of monsoon, sumptuous acres of green spreading across it. In the middle of those two great lands lied the Black Sea – forbidden to be sailed upon by the elders.

But the world was not confined by the extremities of those two behemoth pieces of land. When the kings and queens fought for the throne in those lands, and when man fought with all kinds of mysticism and wilderness lurking beneath the shades, some of them had thrived elsewhere, in places abominable to their own kinsmen.

Such a place was a tiny island, raising its tiny head amidst the dark waters, unknown, unreachable. The smoldering ashes and the purging lava did not burn the lush green which grew on their slopes – it enriched them with qualities unbeknownst to mankind. The black sea lashed out with all its vengeance on the shores, only to return in frustration. Deep inside the jungles were debris of ancient temples, arcane symbols inscribed and forged into every stone which glowed blue, green, purple with each time of the day. Further atop, amidst the molten rocks and land was a ruin like no other – a forgotten grandeur, a majestic pantheon forged out of volcanic rock. One look at it and you would know – this was no ordinary temple.

Folklore said that the legendary Dwarven forge stood here once, place of many heroes, until it fell to corruption. The forerunners had long abandoned it, and now amidst the ruins were trapped the souls of those who could not defend themselves against the darkness, those who fought and lost.

Something sinister also lurked in those ruins of stone. For centuries, it too was trapped in those harrowed halls, screaming and burning in agony. Corruption could not spread without humans, and humans would not dare go into those deserted maze of stone.

And then the king of that isle had a dream – where an ancient deity called him from those ramparts. “I’ve been sleeping for fifty thousand years!” the pagan god said, “Feed me, and you shall have a reward beyond your imagination!”

The very next day, the king, along with one hundred of his best men, sheep and lambs and all kinds of food stacked with them, started for the temple. When they entered, the king heard a whisper. “This way” the whisper said, “Follow the light.”

The lava had lit up the ancient chamber brightly with the colors of blaze. Here it flowed in full force, decimating everything in its path, melting solid beds of granite and basalt. In the centre was a beheaded statue, a woman with six hands. Her legs ended in hooves, and her fingers in blades. Vivid inscriptions pulsated in stone surrounding the sculpture, the air whispering menacing chants from books forgotten.

“Flesh!” the whisper picked up again, sending an eerie chill down his spine. It ended in a fiendish laughter, echoing through the stone halls. His legs trembled.

“Who…who are you?” He asked.

“Salvation” the whisper replied, and burst into a demonic scream. The deafening shriek grew to maddening proportions, driving the king’s men insane.

The legends said that the king had returned with a little girl holding his hand. None of the men who went with him came back, and he could not remember what had happened. His mind would always pause at the scream, and then search for answers. With his frenzied mind, he couldn’t live long enough. One fine morning his body was found at seashore, his eyes wide open, his face pale, bloodless.

The little girl was unlike any of her age, lean and pallid, yet her face glowed with an unnatural warmth. Her eyes were the most interesting and sinister about her, the crimson tinted pair, as it could petrify you with their gazes. She was the heir to the unmarried king, the sole successor to the empty throne.

They say she had gone back to that ruined sanctuary on the day of her invocation. There, inside that cursed chamber, she had plunged into a pool of human blood, gathered from people whom she sacrificed to that demonic deity– sanguinely letting her body soak the iron liquor, reveling in delight. When she had reemerged, her eyes glowed even more deep, vibrant red, her skin replenished to alabaster pink from the earlier pallid tone. That is when she spoke for the first time.

“I want to play”, she said, like any girl of her age. But people knew what play meant for her, wasn’t the same for any of her kin.

The little kingdom bowed down to her, not in respect, but in fear. They couldn’t fathom what that mortal body held inside it.

So the little girl, had become the queen. But she didn’t have the eyes for the throne. She would roam around through the ancient ruins, scampering through the relics with the her cheerful speed, observing them with wide-open eyes. Ancient whispers told she absorbed the arcane powers inside them, getting stronger each day.

The legends had different names for the little girl with red eyes, mostly in archaic languages and cryptic lines which sang of a great evil being resurrected from its slumber, drowning the world in rivers of blood.

We called her Andariél.

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