Episode Three: Reborn
The incisive voice penetrated the blur in his mind like a burrowing insect, insignificant at first, unstoppable at last. He knew that voice. He’d heard it not long ago in his magical prison, a presence both odd and familiar, unknown yet somehow deeply ingrained in his soul.
“Arise, my servant! Stand before me.”
The last shreds of near-death faded. Naked and shivering, Azar stood in a vast chamber, on a circular platform surrounded with glowing water as far as he could see. Pillars of the bluish fluid formed slender columns, flowing slowly upward into dimness. Unseen in the distance, the ranks of legions murmured prayers suffusing the chamber. Before him, perhaps a hundred steps away, sat a most magnificent queen on a throne of obsidian. She seemed immense, at least three times his own size, perhaps more. He couldn’t quite tell. He felt he’d always known her. Her attire’s tight-fitting black leather contrasted with her skin’s pearly paleness and black hair. His own nudity did not shame him, for she was mother, mistress, and monarch—a goddess before her mortal servant. He had naught to hide while she peered into his heart and mind. Whatever distance truly separated them failed to prevent Azar from perceiving her eyes as if she gazed into his from just a few inches away. Green and marbled with gold, her irises sheathed vertical pupils that briefly vanished under nictitating membranes when she blinked.
Azar bowed. Though his left hand and forearm were missing, his wounds no longer ached. He sensed she had seen to his wellbeing. At last he’d found his peace and true purpose.
“Speak, My Queen, and I shall serve.”
Her dark and penetrating voice resonnated again. “You have fought wisely. It is time for you to seize the glory that awaits you. Serve me well, and I shall replace your tortured flesh with my own. Become my champion, and I shall love you and make you master among mortals.”
Overcome with awe, Azar kneeled. Her words were like calligraphic ink gracing a blank page. Like water in a fiery desert, he thirsted for more. “So shall it be, My Queen.”
“Be one with your brethren. Learn as they learn. Fight as they fight. Pray and honor me as they do.”
The melopoeia grew stronger. When he lifted his gaze once more, his divine patron and her throne had vanished. In their place stood a colossal silvery door imbedded with black reptilian coils. As he stepped forward, Azar found he could tread across the glowing water. The gate slowly opened when he approached. Beyond stood praying cohorts, clad in steel and bearing white tabards emblazoned with the likeness of the Black Queen. A maiden among them approached, carrying the vestments of a knight, shield, and sword. Her gaze beckoned him to come forth and claim a place among his brothers and sisters of the faith.
To be continued. . .
This short story was written in connection with the upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the new World of Calidar. Others will follow on different forums and blogs during the coming weeks.
Click here to track down all these episodes and, one layer at a time, unveil different aspects of this new fantasy setting. Click here for the original announcement about Calidar. Be sure to read it if you haven’t already.