Darkness: An Audience with Lord Serpent

Every thought is driven right out of his head as the air erupts with lightning and power. He watches in awe as the smoke parts to reveal… Something. His mind could not properly contain or understand what his eyes beheld, but his body reacts instinctively to scramble to his feet and stand with back pressed to the metal stake behind him.

There was no way to judge distance within the Abyss. What was just a speck at one blink of the eye could try to bite your head off the next. Yet the steady glow of colors whispers of wrongness in his mind, since nothing is constant in the Abyss. As the Chaos Lord stares, he can feel dread build with the sense of something out there staring back.

Its head fills his field of vision, monstrous in size with more then a dozen gem-eyes of various colors. Scales so dark the deepest of nights would be ashamed to even attempt to match them, and so massive a single one could crush the whole of Thelbane flat with its weight.

But thus far no mouth is visible. No fangs endanger the young mortal's fleeing courage just yet, no swallowing whole imminent. Only a gaze of infinite depth that could start new worlds or end them just as quickly. Now so close, the young Lord can see two of the eye-sockets are empty save for oozing gore.

The Chaosian stands frozen, no longer able to move and completely idea-less. Should he speak? What would he say? For that matter, could he even speak? His mouth is dry and his entire body numb. Instinctively he knew he could be crushed from existence in less than a heartbeat if the Being that waited at the edge of his perception so much as blinked carelessly.

He could feel himself slipping away, his grasp of himself and his sense of identity siphoned from within by the Serpent's Gaze, only to be shredded in the whirlwind of power gusting and swirling about them. Before long, he would be completely lost and perhaps then it would be better for Lord Serpent to eat him, removing the body along with the essence.

"H-Hail, Lord S-Serpent." The words emerge barely above a whisper, yet they somehow scream out over the Rim and surround him with their ridiculousness.

Perhaps the Terrible Thought was correct. Perhaps it was better to flee than face Lord Serpent. He felt his mind cracking under the power's very presence, exposing all within to His view. The Chaos Lord could see everything this Being plumbed from within him: every ambition, every plan, every failure, every hatred and jealousy and grudge.

And also every victory, every love, every desire in its tiniest formation. All his weaknesses and well-hidden strengths, everything he had learned, and all that he had forgotten. All is exposed to the two who face each other on the Rim of the Void.

~GREETINGS, INSIGNIFICANT ONE… WHY SHOULDN'T I MAKE YOU MY MEAL?~

With desperate strength and newfound tenacity, he clings to the thoughts that had seemed most promising a mere eternity ago. He knew Lord Serpent's secret, the secret of His imprisonment. And he knew he would not be the puppet of the Keepers who had placed them all together in this jail.

~I would free you if I but had the power and the knowledge,~ he thinks rather than says.

The power of speech had entirely abandoned him, but sincerity rang more true in thought than in words. He would free Lord Serpent if the possibility existed, not out of pity or beneficence, not even to honor or ingratiate himself to this Being.

The Lord had no idea why the Serpent might have been chained, whether He deserved His imprisonment, and he didn't much care. No, he offered himself for the sake of new Possibility within the Courts that he still called home, and for the whole of his Reality.

Amusement rolls off the Leviathan as Lord Serpent shares the unexpected joy of this puny distraction.

~Because while you may be chained within, from here outside the Void tis possible the chains might be loosed even by one as insignificant as I.~

The feeling of amusement becomes stronger, and suddenly this insignificant Chaosian becomes the first to ever learn: Lord Serpent can laugh! The very noise cracks the stone about him, sending shards falling into the Abyss in great sheets.

~FOR THAT ONLY, YOU DESERVE A BOON.~

~You are generous, m'Lord, but I think my real desire is beyond even your power,~ he observes, not out of malice or desire to anger, but out of truth. If it was indeed useless to attempt to free the Serpent and everyone in Chaos from His imprisonment, what else could he ask for that would bring any measure of satisfaction?

~How would I introduce true Possibility into the Courts of Chaos if not by releasing us all from your bondage?~

~NOTHING YOU COULD THINK COULD FREE ME FROM MY PRISON. EVEN SHE WHO CLAIMED MY EYE COULD NOT HAVE DONE SO WITHOUT THEIR HELP. BUT ANYTHING BEYOND WHAT IS NOW WOULD AGAIN BRING THEIR WRATH DOWN. I COULD NOT PROTECT MY INSIGNIFICANT AMUSEMENTS FROM SUCH ATTENTION.~

It dawns on him that perhaps the flight of the Unicorn from the Courts had been about finding meaning in the meaningless. To create a whole new world free of the bondage from the Serpent and His keepers. It hadn't worked because, by their very nature, even those in Amber were still part of this Multiverse. Though they might be cut off from Chaos for generations or eons, they still were tied to it, a pale shadow attempting to be the full light.

But there might be another way.

~Then I want nothing for myself, but ask a boon for those who follow me, and my legacy. I would withhold this knowledge from the Multiverse. I would find the Muse and Thought that visits those like me who dare face you, in order to spread this malaise of the mind and spirit. Then I would bind this knowledge to me, and I will hold it, contain it, and keep it hidden.~

He takes a breath, to steady his resolve. ~I humbly request your aid in this, to find this knowledge perhaps by granting me the sight of one of your Eyes. And to protect it, I would use the Eye to take Kingship of the Courts of Chaos.~

~SO BE IT,~ Lord Serpent declares, seeing more than just the words.

The thought had hardly finished before the most agonizing pain the young Lord had ever felt courses through his body, threatening to splinter his soul. Unable even to scream, he falls to his knees as his eyes are ripped from him and his very mind reformed to bear the Sight granted by Lord Serpent.

Pools of his own blood rise up to fill the empty sockets as the Winds blow dust gathered from the Serpent's eyes into his. Yet with his new bloodeyes, the Chaosian can see now that the secret he sought to hold - Lord Serpent's captivity - has been destroyed countless times by these Keepers from their vast and beautiful realms. And he can see now the prison has changed Lord Serpent so that, even if freed, He could never return to the Old.

He crouches on the windswept stone trembling with reaction as the agony recedes to a more manageable level. Uncounted heartbeats pass before he can raise his head and gather the strength to stand once more. But what is Time to Lord Serpent and the Void that held Him fast? Once more stained with his own blood, the Chaos Lord finally remembers how to plant one foot and push himself upwards to a standing position.

At that, Lord Serpent turns with a swirl of coils to disappear into the deepness of the Abyss, leaving the Chaosian - and now slightly more - to begin anew. Like a book, he has begun his first chapter…

Alone on the edge of the Abyss once more, he sinks down to sit against the metal spike and stares around with his new eyes. Everything was a blur of color and light, and sounds were light which was also color and movement and things he couldn't even categorize. He could see everything and yet nothing as before, and his newly formed mind begins to make sense of his new capacity.

Filled with the gem dust of the Serpent's eyes, he can now see thoughts, concepts, even ideas just for a start. Beyond his solitary perch, he can see minds, their energies, the natural forces within the Abyss, and… yes, even the foundations of Reality itself. At a mere thought, he can mix the various gem dust within his blood for tasks he hadn't even yet imagined. In the future it may be like breathing, but for now he must concentrate deeply to achieve the proper mixture.

A thought occurs, breaking him out of his preoccupation. Lord Serpent had departed, and there was no reason for him to stay here. He needed to make his way off the platform and return… somewhere.

Somewhere. He had something to do, something barely remembered. That realization returns him to his feet. Knowledge not yet understood acts like instinct, and he reaches out with senses and mind to grasp a nearby stream of power. With it, a journey that had taken entire Turnings before becomes a matter of heartbeats.

Mist, energy, wind. Whether he becomes all these things or remains corporeal, he moves as though one with the air to find his way back to where so much had begun and still waited to be accomplished.

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Dawn: Beginning Anew

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