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  • Andrew M. Trauger

Prologue to Book One

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

The skies split open as the heavens recoiled in fleeting haze. Lightning flashed across the empty space, crackling against the backdrop of a vast, starless chasm. Deafening peals of thunder pulsed the air, waves of sonic concussions that drummed the ground below. Heat seared the skies with the vehemence of a thousand suns and burned the earth with the ferocity of a thousand furnaces. Acidic clouds congealed to fill the gulf above, roiling in billows of sickly greenish-gray, piling one atop the other until, no longer able to contain their combined weight, the putrid vapors cascaded upon the ground in torrents of dissolving rain. Then came the frigid emptiness, as Void descended and touched the earth.

For a solitary moment, heavens and earth adjoined as a hurtling form descended through this maelstrom. Dark, leathery, winged, and shrouded in a coruscating aura of malevolence, the creature tumbled through the misty borders, end over end, a churning chaos of evil. It screamed obscenities through dripping fangs in a foul, repulsive language that tainted the very air it breathed. As the horrific form sped ever faster to the earth, tangible threads of darkness lashed out, stripping light from the sky as the creature grasped and clawed for even the smallest fingerhold to break its fall. Fiery clouds flared out from a vitriolic scream that torched the air with a repugnant inferno that enveloped and swirled about the dreadful creature until it landed, at last, with the seismic force of a mountainous explosion.

Great plumes of earth and fire towered into the sky, obscuring the light of day and covering multitudinous miles with debris. Beneath roiling clouds of dust the earth choked and wheezed, while darkness and bitter bleakness encompassed the land for days. When the sun began once more to cast its warming rays, in the revealing light stood the colossal form of Vaeroloth, the Great Dragon of old, proud and lofty, her eyes burning with defiance. Vile loathing consumed her as she cast her gaze to the heavens whence she had fallen, as skies reunited overhead and forever sealed her return. With a thunderous roar, the Dragon spewed black words of malevolence toward the One who had cast her down.

The rocks around her melted at the sound of it.

She was banished.

Contorted with rage, Vaeroloth disgorged a torrent of curses outward and skyward. As each foul word escaped her wretched mouth, her figure cracked, split, and transformed, her body becoming more disfigured with every vile syllable. The language of Creation that had once effused so beautifully from her life-giving lips now twisted with vomitous bile into a dark and hideous speech.

Formerly entrusted with giving Life, she now desired only to bring Death and the unmaking of all she had made. With her back bending beneath the immeasurable burden of unholy tyranny, she lashed out at the life she had once formed. She peered beyond the crater walls pushed outward from her mighty fall, and her heart, blackened by envy, greed, and lust, concocted a vengeful scheme. Her lips cracked with the curl of a sneer as consuming fire spewed from her mouth and spread its killing flame until the landscape smoldered from her infernal breath.

The Maker had judged her, but she would have the final word, the last laugh, the surprise ending. She vowed to exact a vengeance upon him, her own Maker, such that he would forever regret his decision. Penance would be far from her; reconciliation impossible. He wanted submission, but she would give him subversion. He wanted cleansing, but she would give him catastrophe. He wanted repentance. She would give him ruin.

Vaeroloth drew within herself every vestige of life from a hundred miles, reclaiming the blessings she had given. Winds from every direction, both freezing and scorching, ravished the ground as the souls of countless living things were ripped from their bodies, as flora wilted into ash, and as waters fell stagnant. Vileness enlivened and malice grew wings as tortured souls were unmade and fused into the Great Dragon’s body. Contempt contorted the Dragon’s face; lips curled back over serrated fangs as unimaginable loathing wrestled with unmitigated agony.

The price for this blasphemous abomination was unending pain.

Skin began to crack and split open; scales shed like withered leaves. Blood oozed through festering wounds and hellish ichor gurgled with it. Piercing screams of anguish ripped through the air as Vaeroloth’s skin sloughed, tissue dissolved, and bone fell away in powdered char. The earth trembled. The skies wept. The ground opened into a great, gaping chasm of despair, and Vaeroloth’s dissociated form tumbled into the depths.

For an immeasurable moment, the very world gasped in horrified expectation, hoping the Great Dragon was undone but fearing she had only just begun. The world was right to fear. Claws emerged, many razored claws, and teeth in multitudes. Scales reformed, and wings grew to soaring heights. From the Great Dragon’s primordial residue arose five forms, brothers born of putrescence and bred for insurgence, distinct but each bearing qualities of his mother.

The soul of Vaeroloth, now stripped of her body, hovered over her five sons. In wanton pride she named them for the terrible torments they were created to inflict. Karashakon, clothed in blood and burning with fiery rage, she bade to rule over all with unfettered enmity for the Maker. Valkyrion, crackling with boundless energy, she charged to spread subterfuge and upheaval, wreaking havoc in the order of Creation. Tortaralon, oozing with acidic bile, she sent forth to bring a bitterness that consumes and ravishes life. Falasteron, dark and cruel, she implored to spread ruin in the hearts of men, a wasting away of hope leading to a blackness of soul. Malfastadon, bleak and hollow, she commanded to wait until all was accomplished so that he might sow the final wreckage: the swallowing of an empty Creation into the Void.

In a flutter of festering wings, the Ancient Five lifted above the great chasm and spread across the land. Creation groaned. And Vaeroloth, though suffering undying agony of soul, rejoiced that the Maker also would suffer for his failure to grant her, the Life-Bearer, a place at his side.

The Maker saw and he grieved, but he promised hope and renewal. The world would indeed suffer her treachery, but only for a time. Life would not be utterly snuffed; a remnant he would preserve, the valiant and faithful safeguarded against corruption. He would send avatars to mentor and instruct prophets, teaching them to proclaim the true worship. Warriors would arise and conquer the Dragon’s abominations. Creation would be restored to reflect the beauty and majesty of the Maker. Redemption would come.

The Maker’s anger burned against his created Dragon, his warden of life and knowledge, now his Enemy. He reached down to the uttermost bottom of the chasm beneath Vaeroloth’s swirling soul, and he touched the festering rock, opening a portal, a vortex of swirling emptiness. The Maker drew her bodiless soul through the portal, and there he trapped her in a fathomless pit, an abyssal realm forged of every evil conceived by her depraved mind. And there he commanded she would abide with her atrocities forever.

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