Rise of Serkan
The memories of my life are still fresh. Even after so much time, they have stayed intact. It's as if I never slept, that the world was still fresh only days ago.
I can still see the fearful faces, cowering at the abomination I created. It was a masterwork, crafted with materials considered taboo. They didn't understand, the potential of a deathly form. In death, a body becomes clay, does it not? Then, why must we let it wither in the earth? I said that we must use it. It was an infinite resource, flesh that no longer felt pain or sadness, a material we could use for better purposes. No, they said, throwing their empty arguments at me. Would I dare suggest something so heinous? Would I raise my ancestors from their graves and put them to work? Did I have the gall to defile a sacred crypt for my own needs? They asked me these and many more questions, but I didn't answer. My work needed no explanation. It was genius and time would vindicate my name. I was cast out, for thinking such things. My colleagues shunned me, continued with their meaningless work. Elsarin played with magic, but kept arbitrary restrictions on what could and couldn't be done. To truly understand, to master it, took more than playing with fire and ice. I continued my experiments in private.
I can still see the smoke, taking in the light of the burning flames; the Valdaci soldiers, dressed for war, marching through the streets of Elsarin. Occasionally, a blue gleam would light the dark streets, but only for a moment. The soldiers held machinations, made from Nora with the intention to kill. I could hear the screams of my former compatriots, as they were burned by the weapons' bursts. From my perch, my place of exile, in the hills beyond Elsarin, I watched a kingdom murdered.
Elsarin's wounds festered. Its people lay in the streets, either dead from war or dying of disease. Valdac retreated in the days after their initial attack; their soldiers grew ill. Both nations suffered from a sickness that fed on skin and spirit. King Zarimahl spent his days in bed, suffering from the very illness his subjects endured. His rule, along with his kingdom, withered with his life.
They called these moments tragic. The grief choked the throats of Elsarin's people. Tragedy? They didn't see the materials they had, strewn about the street. The materials that went unused, that were buried and mourned or burned and forgotten. I knew that this was the time to act. My work would save this kingdom. I would build a new world from the old one, to bring new life to the refuse of Elsarin. And so I did.
I remember the army I built of those corpses. I can still see the rows of eyes, staring into the dream of a better world. They shared my vision of utopia and would carry out my will. They had a resolve no Valdaci paladin could ever match. These men would die for me, would go marching to their second deaths, in my name. The power I held over them was intoxicating; I will not deny that. And ultimately, it was my downfall.
I can still remember the feeling of a cold blade in my chest, and the throbbing of my heart, slowing moment by moment. I can still see the face of the grimacing mortal, the foolish man, as I succumbed to darkness.
In that moment, there was the Utterdark. The darkness that stretched on into infinity, and the black veil that smothered me. The silence that strained my ear by its distance and covered them completely. A swirling pool that whirled about my body, pulling me in all directions. The forces that warped my form, shaping me into something indescribable. The sensation of falling forever, and the feeling of standing still. And yet, through all of this chaos, there was no pain. I was not afraid of the void. I welcomed it.
Forms came to me, I could sense them looming just beyond the veil. They spoke in tongues that had died eons ago, but I understood them. They knew I was unafraid, that I did not scream against the blackness nor did I fight against its current. They were intrigued. Perhaps they had seen in me something they had never known before. How could that be? They have existed for eons and will continue many millennia more. Surely, they had seen a man such as myself before. Perhaps, I was an opportunity.
Their offer was simple; I could continue in this vortex forever, or I could lead them in the mortal world. They had a legion of forms at the ready, and a legion of reserves awaiting service. And in them was a power I had never known. But it wasn't just within them; the power was everywhere. I could feel the darkened veil lift, and in its place was potential; the potential to create and to destroy, to live forever and to die momentarily. The Utterdark, in its entirety, would be under my command. I accepted.
I can remember the grimacing face, warped in aversion at my return and the countless counterfeits that claimed my name. I saw my work, standing before me as an army. From the ruins of Elsarin, they had erected a new kingdom. And the glorious King of Elsarin, the wretched corpse wrapped in noble garbs and shielded by ancient armors, King Zarimahl, bowing before a false Lich King in servitude.
I can still see you; wretched fool, raising your hand against me, against my claim as the true Serkan. Your face had grown pale, the skin pulled taut against a contemptible skull. The eyes had faded into dust and, even as dust, they expressed their protest against me. You, once my greatest pupil, had stolen everything. My dreams of a my kingdom , my works on necromancy, and the very techniques I had shared with you; you had taken them. Yet, you were clever about your theft, I must say. You had created a corpse, gave it a voice, a soul, a crown. And with this puppet, you made your Lich King, a Serkan that could take credit for your doing. And only the apprentice, the advisor, the undead sage, would know the true beauty of the stratagem; to serve a king of his own creation.
But those are just memories. My life as Serkan is just a memory; a rotting recollection in darkness. Know this, sage, that I am your Lich King. The Serkan you have known, the Serkan created by you, dear Xulos, is a false king of Elsarin. I am the true Serkan. And I am here to claim my throne. But my reign will not end there, dear apprentice. With the Utterdark, I will shape the world. Go, apprentice, and tell your kingdom what I have told you.
And Xulos, remember this. If you cross me, you will pay dearly. Your kingdom will fall and your army will crumble. You can never escape me. I am the fate of all things.