He met the elder with a bow.
"May the blessings of the Makers be upon you, and may they unite us in duty, and resolve us in our destiny," he stammered.
The elder solemnly nodded.
"I have sinned, Elder," he continued. "I have sinned before the Makers, and before my brothers. I deserve nothing but death."
"It is my role to judge the sins, my son, not yours," the Elder replied gently. She looked at him kindly, to ease his nervous pittance.
He looked up with little relief in his eyes.
"I hear whispers, Elder. Voices in my mind. They talk and murmur and they plot. They tell me of things to come, of things that will be. Corruption of the destinies the Makers gave us. Dreadful, terrible heresies, Elder."
The Elder frowned.
He saw the emotion flash across the her face and could no longer look her in the eyes. His head bent in shame.
"They speak of the Great Betrayer, Elder. They speak of his sins, and how they were not sins. They speak evil of the True Maker, and they speak ruin over our villages."
"How so?" the Elder said.
"He is not dead in the grave, but has risen," he said, his voice quivering. "The Great Betrayer lives among us to this very day, gathering up his power, ready to strike again. He breathes the shadows and stalks the dead. He cries for their aid and they have answered, and their bones groan as they walk the City once again. They come for us."
The Elder looked concerned, but looked at the quivering villager before her and relented.
"Whispers and visions are no sin, my son," she said. "Your worries are assured by us, your Elders, the Protectors of the realm themselves. The Great Betrayer was defeated by the True Maker long ago, and we are more than enough to stand against him. And if all hope did seem lost, we would summon the Masters to fight on our side - and before them, darkness would not stand. So go, be relieved of your sins, and may the Makers guide you in your path and steer you in your destiny."
He did not move.
"That is not the sin I come to you with, Elder."
He knelt at her feet.
"I knew your answer to be what it is, and I knew your Protection would come too late. Forgive me for my mistrust, but I had to look beyond your counsel. So I reached out to the True Maker."
The Elder was bemused. "The True Maker has not spoken in centuries, child."
"He spoke to me," he said. "He said that the Great Betrayer would be a force unreckoned with, but he had chosen me to prepare the way for a new Master. One that would give power and aid not just to the Elders, but empower even us lowly villagers to fight alongside you."
What had been bemusement was turning into concern. The Elder looked down at the villager. "You must be mistaken,” she said. “There is no Master that was prophesied that can be summoned without the Protectors."
He looked straight into the Elder's eyes for the first time since he began. There was no longer fear in them, but a righteous fire so foreign it seemed to belong to another.
"There is now," he said.
The Spiders leapt from rock to rock, spinning their webs between the ledges and latching onto the Elder. They pinned her arms back, forcing her weapon to drop from her hands. They latched the strands to the cliffside, pulling them deep into the crevices.
"The Master is Lord over all!" he said, his arms outstretched as a Spider became his face. "Your protection will not save us from the army of the dead! The Lord of the Wild is the true divine Master!"
There was barely time to think, but she already knew what to do. She grimaced, then pointed her chest at the ground and fired. Catapulting herself into the cliffside, the impact stretched the webs beyond their limits and they snapped away. She grabbed onto the side of the cliff, but the Spiders knew her grasp and leapt towards her. She batted them away.
"My sins, Elder, are those of arrogance! Of complacency and confidence!" he continued to yell. "They are the sins of those who would call upon others from time beyond to fight battles for us, instead of taking up our own arms against the enemy of our world."
The Spiders overwhelmed her, consumed her. They ripped her face from her and gave her their own to stifle her screams. Her hands flew to try and fight it, abandoning the precious hold of the ledge, but instinct was slower than deception. She felt the cool air touch her bare skin for the briefest of seconds, the villager’s words echoing around her head. The voices joined his in an overwhelming chorus, the sounds of men and women and children. The world became an infinite blackness.
"My sins are your sins," they cried.
Time ebbed around her, flowing, bending, twisting beyond how she knew it. She drew her breath in sharply, her gut knotted up and a dread started to creep up her stomach.
“Out of the dead they were raised, and into death they shall go,” they chanted. “I am the Lord of the Wild, I am the Dweller of Darkness. He has brought up the dead to walk my halls again, and I will bring the living to walk among them. There is one True Maker and there is one True Lie. Give unto me your sins, and you will walk among the chosen. I am the Ancient One. I am the Master here.”
She nearly did. She wanted to, so much, to join the chant as a child joins a cheer. To raise one’s hands up in unity and cry for the common cause. She felt hope that the Master would save them, faith in the Lord of the Wild to be the savior she needed.
The words flew from her mind and were trapped in her tongue.
“I surrender,” said her head, her heart beating with the rhythm of a war drum. “I surrender,” it tried again, but she couldn’t hear it even in her own mind. Something, something far in the back of her mind, whispered to her the words that came out of her mouth instead.
“I am Korgot, Elder of these lands, the great Protector of the Earth. I am the one who judges sins. I am not a puppet of the Makers, True, Betrayer or otherwise. This is my mind. This is my realm. I am the Master here.”
The voices murmured with discontent, trying to overwhelm her in noise. Their murmurs became cries, and the cries became screams. The war drums that powered her heart pounded and pounded their disapproval, the voices shrieking with power, and then -
She hit the ground with a splattering crack. Tumbling face first from the cliffside, her hands no longer stopping gravity from taking control, she had splintered the Spider against the rocks, the impact forcing her out of her trance. She gasped for air as she twisted around, her hand finding her old familiar face, and ripping the remains of the darkness off, she was made whole again.
He stood with his arms outstretched, as if calling to her for help, but she knew it was too late. He was already one with the voices. His mouth said their words. He was a puppet, an empty shell, one with regret, but a shell all the same.
She grabbed her weapon and ran, away from the Spiders, away from the Wild. She ran with the terror and craze and wisdom of one who had heard the voice of death. The Lord of the Wild had lost his prey, but he would consume so much more.
She ran for the others, for the Temple that held her last hope. The Masters had to be called from beyond the veil of time. She would die before she let her island become one voice.
Death was coming, but she would be on its heels.
Commentary coming soon! This is my first fanfiction that I've written for 2015's story - I hope you guys enjoy!