Mariziguant and the Assault on the Tower of the Blessed Lady
There weren't always dragons in the Valley.
There weren't always dragons in the Valley.
In fact, as near as Mariziguant could tell there had never been any before, despite the valley's name, the Vale of the Silver Wyrm, there were no legends or myths of dragons had ever dwelt there. Mariziguant had consulted with spirits and dark forces and had confirmed this simple fact. That his foes, the damnable Silver Sisterhood, had somehow summoned the pair of mighty silver-scaled drakes from somewhere, or possibly somewhen else was a certainty. These damned dragons had turned the tide, and Mariziguant ground his needle sharp teeth in frustration as he recalled the dragonfire consuming his hordes of walking dead and his legion of ghoul warriors as they besieged the sisterhood in their temple, the so-called Tower of the Blessed Lady.
For Mariziguant knew that his prize was hidden somewhere beneath this tower - the way to the prison of his master, or at least the key to that prison. His lord, Yrr'Maleek, the Ebon-king. The legends claimed the dark lord had been imprisoned at the heart of a dead star for uncounted eons after a war beyond imaging. For Yrr'Maleek was a being of ancient and vast power, of iron-fisted diabolic order, of strength, and during the age called the “War in the Heavens,” Yrr'Maleek set about the task of conquering all that there was. However he was finally defeated by an alliance of “alien gods,'' but even these mighty and eldritch beings could not slay the Ebon-king. Only imprison him.
And it was this legend, this event that had dominated Mariziguant’s mind his entire life. Even as a child, he was obsessed over it. Since his birth Mariziguant’s dreams had been touched by the Ebon-king, nearly every night, whispers and visions of darkness and power had infested his slumber, and finally when he reached adulthood he had become the Ebon-king’s willing servant.
Mariziguant had sacrificed much for his dark master. His home, his love, his sanity, his family, even his very humanity…but the Ebon-king had rewarded his apostle greatly. Mariziguant had ascended, meaning he had shed his mortal frailties, he was no longer merely…human…oh he was still humanoid, at least in general shape, but he was much, much more. He now stood far taller then he had, and his face, while still recognizable by those who knew Mariziguant in his youth, was altered. His now bald head was elongated, with a long rearward diaganal up-sloping skull. And he sported four solid ink-blue eyes, for two new ones had grown above his original human orbs. These new eyes had no iris, no pupil, no sclera, just solid pools of indigo. And these indigo-pools could perceive the universe in ways no mere human orbs could. Mariziguant now saw colors no man had ever seen, and he knew the shadows no other man had ever known. But it was his arms and hands that were his most inhuman feature, for although he still had two - from the shoulder to elbow at least, at the elbows they split into two forearms like a "Y". All four of these arms ended in hands with four fingers and two thumbs.
For a long time Mariziguant been in the Ebon-King’s service before becoming his greatest disciple, and it had been a long road, a road paved with the bones of the dead, for Mariziguant had killed uncounted thousands while treading this road, those who had opposed the Ebon-king’s dark faith, his rivals within the clergy, the innocent, it made no difference…every obstacle overcome, every challenge defeated, every sacrifice made. Each was just another step on the road of screams as he made his way to the ultimate prize. The key to his master’s prison. And he was so close…so godsdamned close! Until the battle-nuns of the Silver Sisterhood, on the verge of defeat, had somehow summoned the twin silver dragons…
His armies destroyed, his followers routed, he had been defeated. “Yes, I am defeated…but I am not beaten!’ He snarled aloud. This is one more obstacle, one more challenge, one more step to take on the road. But it was a step that even he had hesitated to take…until now. For even a high ranking disciple of the Ebon-king feared certain dark things in the multiverse. And Mariziguant had acquired the means to contact and bind such a dark thing…a powerful demon. Mariziguant read the scroll that detailed this demon, a dark and horrible being known as Vogthomoth, the demon’s history, and most importantly his true name. Surprisingly, Vogthomoth was not an ancient entity as demons went, and like Mariziguant, had once been human. However, unlike Mariziguant, Vogthomoth had not ascended from his mortal coil. He had died, murdered for his atrocities, and he had been damned. In his mortal life Vogthomoth was a warrior, but certainly not a hero, nor a champion of any great and noble cause, in his mortal life Vogthomoth was a butcher. In his mortal life Vogthomoth was a rapist, a sadist, a murderer and worse…Vogthomoth had been a lord of murderers, a master of monsters in the form of men. On the distant realm where he had lived and died, Vogthomoth had fought in the great wars there, it was during the last such war that he had commanded a regiment of criminals and madmen that had slain the innocent in their tens of thousands…men, women, even children…and it was on this world that Vogthomoth had met his end, beaten to death in retaliation for his crimes.
Mariziguant and his remaining followers prepared the ritual of summoning, circles were drawn, invocations chanted, and the sacrifices slain - thirty six sacrifices. A number sacred to Vogthomoth. Thirty six innocents. As they bled their life's blood onto the summoning circle and their still beating hearts sizzled upon a blazing brazier, Mariziguant began the invocation of summoning. After ten minutes of this torturous chant the spilt blood rapidly evaporated into a dark pink mist, a cloying copper-scented steam. And something bagan to take shape within the summoning circle – a presence formed from shadow and suddenly it appeared, its arrival heralded with the screams of terrified children and tortured women.
The entity, the demon, was frightening. A centaur-like figure at least nine feet in height, its hide was a deep dark crimson, and glistened wetly, like newly shed blood. It was clad only in a shiny ebony-leather breastplate with a burning twisted rune carved at its center, a corrupted symbol that Mariziguant knew originally signified the sun and good fortune on the mortal Vogthomoth’s homeworld, but one that had been repurposed to a symbol of hatred and evil. An identical symbol burned on the center of the demon’s large forehead. The demon's face was gaunt, and almost mundane…bland even, except for his eyes. Vogthomoth’s eyes were twin pools of madness and hate. And the demon's centaur-like hindquarters were nothing as mundane as a horse, but that of a great swine. The fiend carried a banner in it’s right hand, a symbol of two oddly shaped crossed clubs, Mariziguant knew this to be the standard of the regiment of murderers the demon commanded when a living man. And in its left hand it bears a great flanged black-iron mace.
The demon stared malignant daggers at Mariziguant, and as he met that gaze filled with hate, and madness, and the lust for murder, Mariziguant realized what evil truly was. Oh Mariziguant knew he was a vile being. He had killed uncounted thousands in his quest for power. However, the sorcery required blood. It required sacrifice; it was merely a means to an end. If Mariziguant could have achieved his aims without the bloodshed? He told himself that he would not have caused such suffering. After all he did not enjoy it. But nothing, no sentiment could intefere in his quest for the Ebon-king. Vogthomoth however, Vogthomoth enjoyed murder, it enjoyed pain. It existed to inflict suffering on the innocent. And as Mariziguant looked into those eyes of madness, he reconsidered: am I making a mistake?
“Who is this fool that has called me here?” The demon demanded.
“I am Mariziguant, Dark-Apostle to Yrr'Maleek, the Ebon-king.” Stated boldly.
“And why have you called me here? Risking my wrath?” Vogthomoth asked in a threatening tone.
“I have called you forth Lord Vogthomoth, to bind you. To use you and your legion in my ongoing war against my foes the Silver Sisterhood and their two pet dragons.”
“Arrogant fool! I am not your errand boy! By what right do you think to command me and my Black Hunters?” The demon roared.
“By the right of your true name demon. For I know you. I know of the man you once were. The man who murdered women and children. The man whose butchers burned the innocent and helpless in temples. And I name you Oskar Dir-”
“STOP!” The demon interrupted Mariziguant with a titanic roar. “I will fight your war, oh wizard. I will serve you in this task. I will be the bane of your enemies.” Vogthomoth quickly gave in, fearing the power of his true name. "However. My price must be met." The demon said with an almsost excited tone in his voice.
"Your price demon? Very well. Name your price." Mariziguant responded confidently.
"Innocence." Vogthomoth replied simply.
"Innocence? Explain yourself demon."
"You are correct about me once human wizard. As a man I did indeed murder women and children. I was a monster and a master of monsters. My damnation is linked to my sins. Provide me and my Black Hunters innocents, and I will lead my legion into battle on your behalf."
Mariziguant silently pondered this - was Vogthomoth's price too steep? It was the only way to have a chance in defeating the damned dragons! To find the thing he sought, to free his lord! No. No price was too steep. This is just one more obstacle, one more challenge, one more step to take on the road to his life's goal.
Mariziguant smiled to himself knowing that with a demonic legion at his command that the second assault on the Tower of the Blessed Lady would end differently. Oh while it is true, there weren't always dragons in the Valley. I will make sure there will never be any in the valley ever again. Mariziguant mused to himself.