The Blaze

There was once a warrior renowned in the northern reaches.  Renowned for his prowess, renowned for his cruelty. In the time before the Great Southern War, he led great campaigns of conquest across the Gravestones.  Fortresses fell to his armies, villages were razed, countless lives were claimed by his spear, but in his journeys, he fell ill, and a great fear overtook him.  With so much more of the world to see, so much more that he must dominate, he grew terrified that the sickness would break him before his work was finished.

He sought out the Alchemist, Exelcis, whose expertise was said to be the bane of all disease, and demanded that he be cured.  This was, though, not all he demanded. In those days, rumor had spread that the Alchemist had discovered a deeper secret, an elixir that linked the body and the soul, conferring longevity–or imperviousness, or immortality; the stories differed with each telling.  The warrior demanded as well that the Alchemist gift this elixir unto him, that he may finish his work no matter what impeded him. For reasons no one will ever know, the Alchemist acquiesced.

One cannot say whether the serum he provided the warrior was given in good faith.  Perhaps he had judged the cruel warrior unworthy, deserving of punishment. Perhaps the hell that would come with the Alchemist’s gift was merely the price of its boon.  But as the warrior imbibed it, and his blood was turned to flame and his body transformed, made an undying Blaze, a prison and a pyre, invincible even in the midst of his perpetual, burning agony, he slew the Alchemist in rage, and any understanding of what ought to have been died with him.

The warrior suffered for years, but with time, he came to find truth–a sort of manic salvation–in his torment.  He no longer desired to conquer the world. No, he would not be a tyrant, for he had been made a prophet of his own burning heaven.  He bade his soldiers scour the Alchemist’s ruined library for the means of replicating the tincture that had so exalted him, that he may create creatures in his image, elevated men who would ever burn, would ever remain, would ever–beautifully, rapturously–suffer.

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