Location: Nektar’s Cauldron
Timeline: AO 225 (1)
Seek Ye The Light! Escape these torments in The Light!
These were the sole thoughts which drove me inexorably onward – through the oppressive darkness and up The Stairway of Infinity.
Daemons clutched at my robes, seeking to pull me off the dizzying Stairway and send me careening back to The Nothingness below. Spectral lights flashed from far off vistas, disorienting me at every turn. Pernicious caterwauls from unseen sources pummeled me, reverberating through my bones with their every endless echo. These terrors and more plagued me as I raced up the madness that was The Stairway. And all the while, I held on to my one saving thought: Seek Ye The Light! Escape these torments in The Light!
1,001 days ago, when I first began this ascent, The Light appeared as nothing more than a mere speck – the only pinprick in a black velvet sky that blanketed this forsaken passageway between the worlds. And yet, even then I knew that striving towards that illusory star was my only hope — for I could not return to that from which I came!
Given this goal, I had but one solution – ascend The Stairway of Infinity to the final step. Yet this was no easy task – for while The Stairway was indeed a way fare between the netherworld of Illusia and your planet Terra — it was filled with so many twists and turns, offshoots and dead ends, and comprised such a path of incalculable strides that none save I had ever ventured this route.
Evil’s sound and fury continued to torment me, yet never did I stop. Onward — through jagged rock walls that lined the bowels of Terra and held your world upon their back. Upward — past the Middle Plane’s molten core spewing regurgitations in every direction. Skyward — through the limitless expanse of chaos itself that connected the earth above to the demon world below. Higher and higher, and then higher still I ran, always distancing myself from the dread-filled locale that was the home of my master.
Just when it seemed I could climb no more, at last, The Light became vibrant and alive! Its blinding brilliance illuminating the outline of a dark portal – The Doorway of Destiny – my escape!
With the world melting around me, gingerly I lifted my tattered black robes and took the final step up from The Stairway, breathing a sigh of relief — for even a god can be terrified. (2)
I paused only for a moment, for though I was a powerful immortal, even I couldn’t hold out long against the nightmares of the underworld, so without further hesitation, I pushed against The Doorway of Destiny – using all of my strength to move the massive boulder that blocked the portal between The Planes.
But the giant stone resisted – trying to keep me locked below!
Desperately I pressed forward — slowly, agonizingly, purposefully grinding the door open, my every effort bringing forth more Light into The Stairway’s dark world.
Still the stones resisted.
Yet I would not be denied. Harder I pushed; then harder still — to the point that my own bones were on the brink of exploding. And then, all at once…
Light ripped The Darkness — I rushed it to it, and escaped!
Now on the other side of The Doorway of Destiny, I had emerged into a cavern that was itself located in the deepest depths of the volcanic mountain I called Nektar’s Cauldron. This passageway was so rank from ages of defilement that it is doubtful anyone else would have considered themselves as having actually “escaped.” Yet I overlooked the shortcomings of my situation and instead rejoiced in the fact that I had finally re-emerged into my own abode. And more importantly, that I had escaped the torment of my master – for at least another millennia.
Or so I thought.
Of a sudden the ethereal claw of a phantasm reached through The Doorway and clutched at my robes – trying to pull me back into The Stairway!
Yet it was to no effect — for now that I was back in my own domain, I, Death, held dominion again. Overlooking the distraction, I merely commanded The Doorway, “Be closed!” At once the portal slammed shut – closing off The Stairway and all its horrors.
And that, as they say, was that.
You might think I’d be happy with this little victory, but you’d be wrong. First off, the Silence was unbearable. The air around me was ominously quiet – waiting in anticipation – and this wasn’t just because my servants were still as yet unaware of my return, nor because the malefic cacophony of The Stairway had been shut out, instead it was primarily due to the fact that, despite being a powerful god, at the moment I was feeling quite empty and alone.
To be sure, I knew that my creatures would soon be bustling back to life, as all would be eager to satisfy me — lest they risk raising my ire against them. And yes, I’ll admit that after having my <hellfire> replenished by The Dark Lord, I could now once again survive here in your world for another thousand years or so. But those positives just didn’t compare to being forcibly robbed of the souls which I had for so long been hoarding. For Baal-Zebub’s treachery had again left me feeling like nothing short of a withered skeleton, covered only by my tattered black robes on the outside (3), and with naught inside but the slowly decaying sustenance provided by my master.
All of which did nothing to fill the painfully empty hollowness of my ever-hungry soul.
Yet it was always the same whenever I returned from Illusia – I was left with only the whispers of my own mind to remind me of what The Evil One had taken.
And it was this very silence that was unusual — unusual at all times except these queer homecomings. For upon all other occasions whenever I walked your world, the air around me was never quiet. For though you might know me as the Bone Collector, the Plague Bearer, or the Death Reaper, or whether you name me The Shaitan, Shedu Mazai, or any of the other monikers that your kind has given me throughout the ages, above all else, I, Nektar, (True Name Azazel) was (and still am) The Black Harvester – for I am a soul hoarder (and one day soon I’ll be coming for yours).
But alas, there was always one pesky obstacle in my continuous quest to ever acquire more souls — due to the unfortunate fact that I was a servant of Zebub and Its son, I was always required to return to Illusia once a millennia in order to replenish my ever dwindling supply <hellfire>. And whereas I was soul hoarder, unfortunately for me, Baal-Zebub had become a soul eater!
Thus I was always robbed of my precious stockpile of souls each time I returned home — and while the relationship worked quite well for my masters, to me was NOT a fair trade. (4)
Quietly then, I paused to remember – looking back to the sweetness of how full my own soul had once felt — just before I’d had been forced to return to Illusia this past time.
I reminisced back to when last I walked within my Cauldron — recalling my sweet power and basking in a mellifluous vision of myself over a century ago — ahhh….
Sometimes muttering below my breath, often screaming in agony, ever threatening to kill any and all within my reach, as The God of Death I was forever conversing with myself; my voice the voices of countless souls trapped within my godly aura; male and female, adult and child, all where within me; my victims speaking in hundreds of languages, from every race and people upon Terra, all undead – trapped at the very verge of non-existence – all struggling to be heard, all trying to break free to their eternal rests, yet all prisoners of my abysmal soul.
But in spite of the multitude of speakers and tongues quiescing from my lips, there was one main <voce> that silenced the rest whenever it was uttered — for Death held dominion over all in this world and when MY voice spoke it silenced all the rest. Like a whisper that was wove its way through the rustle of thousands of dead leaves that ceaselessly swirled around a barren landscape, my voice was a sound on the very edge of hearing, yet ever did it command to be listened to…
Ah, such sweet memories.
Yet sadly, all too quickly, did the ambrosia of my dream pass.
Instead I left with this day’s stark reality — for now I no longer had any souls within me, save my own – and that was never enough.
With my stock pile of souls gone, I felt desperate and famished.
I raged at the feeling of emptiness!
I wretched because of my desperate hunger!
And finally, pitifully, I shrank down. Feeling hopelessness overtake me, I leaned against the jagged wall in utter despair, willing to fade into non-existence if it would but come for me.
OK, I’ll be honest – there was no real danger that I was actually dying at the time — for back then Illusian <hellfire> was more than enough to sustain me — it just didn’t feel that way to me.
Inside, my soul desperately yearned for other souls to feed upon. Yes, to be factual about the matter, I knew that this “life” I craved was stolen from the poor mortals of Terra, but that was beside the point — for as Death, I was a god, and as far as I was concerned my needs superseded those of any mortal. Quite simply, (back then) I viewed all life on Terra as my food source, as samples for my experiments, and more often than not BOTH.
Returning from Illusia, I knew I had a job to do — for Baal-Zebub (aka. Lucifer) had only released me again with the understanding that I would use the warped powers of creation he taught me to bring to life entire races of evil creatures: hordes who could then plague your earth, kill all other life on this planet, and thus ultimately destroy the hated goodness of The Great Deceiver. (At least that’s the plan I led him to believe). (5)
Yet before I could create anything new or even seek out a fresh soul to ingest to pick up my spirits, just then an unwelcome memory attacked me – one that pummel me so viciously, I was forced me to my knees!
“Dagaal!” I cowered before the apparition. “Nooooo!” My decrepit hand swiping the shadows, even as I turned away from the sight of…The Bone Dagger!
In a flash, the vision was gone — yet the torment remained.
Reeling in agony, I fell back upon the hard floor, as if suffering under a crushing weight.
Too afraid to move, my eyes cast about the cavern, wondering when the next attack would come…
- “AO” stands for “After Oz.” It is a measurement of time once used by The Drokka clan. Since “The War of the Ghast”focuses on the Drokka, I’ve chosen to use their time system throughout. “AO 225” is 225 years “After Oz” (more to come on this). The date A0 225 is approximately 3140 BC (Before Christ).
- Do you think less of me because I just revealed that? It’s fine. I’m not ashamed of fear, but I’ll be interested to see how you handle it when I come calling.
- Yes my attire back then was a bit cliche — but remember I started the cliche.
- Are you starting to understand why I did NOT want to ever return to Illusia?
- As an interesting side note, you might say that because Evil gave Death this power to create Life, it’s one reason why I took the cognomen “Nektar” — for I held within me the very <Essence of Ze> and it was this divine nectar which I used in all of my creationary experiments. And with that another mystery is solved.