10/18/2020 at 18:53
Of blood, shadow, and Ayukazi: the first of the Nocturn
Before the lineage of the Consanguine was successfully established by Yrtez, she experimented upon a young Ankyrean that would later adopt the name Zsarachnor, the Vampire Lord. This experiment, which transformed him, was widely considered a failure by Yrtez and her peers. Although Zsarachnor had obtained strength and immortality from the change, his intellect had severely diminished and any progeny he tried to produce turned into mindless, feral creatures.
Yrtez's experiment was based on a ritualistic curse of blood and shadow from ancient Farsai that once transformed mortal sacrifices into the fearsome rojalli. Excruciatingly painful to the victim, the process would break their mind and leave behind only the feral, animalistic creature. Zsarachnor's Ankyrean heritage allowed him to resist the pain to a degree and gain some semblance of control over the powers obtained from it, but even he was left a mere shadow of his former self.
Thought to have been destroyed with the collapse of the lower mines of Azdun, Zsarachnor haunted the tunnels as mist. Feeding upon the spilled remains of the Malevolent's many violent excursions and experiments deep beneath the earth, the Vampire Lord slowly rebuilt his corporeal form, driven by a century of vengeance.
Zsarachnor, Reborn arose from the depths of Azdun in a massive wave of power and pressure. The vampire wasted little time in making his way through to the Black Keep, summarily slaughtering the Chiav constructs guarding the way. A similarly gruesome fate seemed imminent for Draden Jibbs, Iosyne's Disciple of Pain, but the powerful vampire was stayed by the presence of the Malevolent's master shrine. Undeterred, Zsarachnor promised he would return for the man later before striding into the Black Keep's throneroom.
Erecting a barrier of deadly shadow to isolate himself and Llazuth, Zsarachnor quickly dispatched the Spider Queen's Chiav guard before turning his attention to the seated Queen. Caught in expository monologue, Zsarachnor was pre-emptively attacked by Llazuth, who unleashed tides of violet fire. The reborn vampire's shadow, moving autonomously from its owner, rose to meet the attack, taking the blow intended for Zsarachnor. Unconcerned, the powerful vampire finished his sentence before casting Llazuth asunder with a titanic blow, forcing her to crash back against her Spider Throne.
On the back foot, Llazuth shed her humanoid form, assuming the shape of a demonic spider as she launched once more at her enemy. This proved no more effective, as Zsarachnor sidestepped the blow and drove his sword deep into her abdomen. Reverting once more to humanoid form, Llazuth was impaled against the Spider Throne, whereupon Zsarachnor infected the wound with his own weaponized blood, preventing it from healing.
As Zsarachnor gloated over his defeated nemesis, essence suddenly sprang forth from the shrine within the throneroom. Enveloping the fallen Chiav, the sinister essence stripped apart its body and bones, leaving behind only the construct's spine. Wreathing itself in the shadow of the barrier, the makeshift weapon then rushed into the hands of Ayuna, General of the Goddess Iosyne. Using the essence-laden lance, Ayuna sliced a temporary opening in the barrier which allowed her to join the confrontation against Zsarachnor.
Seemingly equally as concerned with showmanship as with combat, Zsarachnor engaged the new challenger. His shadow joining the fray, Zsarachnor steadily overwhelmed Ayuna, striking past her defenses with sword and limbs alike. Zsarachnor soon gained the upper hand, besting Ayuna, until a too-forceful parry sent his weapon wide while a simultaneous exaggerated haymaker left the vampire seemingly open.
Amidst the outcries of the watchers, some cautioning against a trap, others believing the opening to hold Ayuna's victory, Ayuna slammed her lance clean through the chest of Zsarachnor. The force of the blow carried the pair of combatants to crash against a wall, Zsarachnor stuck upon the business end of Ayuna's powerful lance. After a dramatic, staged scream, Zsarachnor revealed his deception: his cursed blood began to flow up the lance, intertwining with the weapon's empowerment of shadow essence. The deadly mixture quickly laid claim to Ayuna, sinking beneath the skin of her arm.
The curse burned through Ayuna's veins, blood and shadow overtaking her system, threatening to leave nothing behind but Zsarachnor's mindless thrall. As her Carnifex guildmates battered the barrier in a futile attempt to break through, as Rhyot gathered in the chaotic energies at his command, Ayuna sank to her knees, succumbing to the pain that none had been able to overcome. Despite her allies' efforts to aid Ayuna, including a particularly spirited attempt from Kanivara that unfortunately backlashed to her own demise, Ayuna was left to face the trial alone.
Zsarachnor picked up Ayuna's fallen weapon to partner with his own empowered blade. The vampire turned from his soon-to-be thrall, intent on completing his vengeance against the Spider Queen. Just as Zsarachnor's victory seemed complete, Ayuna embraced the agony that threatened to wash her away. Empowered by her Goddess' teachings on pain, as well as her own personal dedication to hunting, Ayuna was uniquely qualified to overcome the curse that none had before.
Her mind still intact, Ayuna emerged from the battle with her body swathed in shadows and transformed by the curse. Iosyne, the Malevolent's voice rang out across Sapience in proclamation: Behold Ayukazi, first of the Nocturn. The Malevolent finally made Her appearance, passing through the shadow barrier without trouble. She seemed, however, content to allow the newly crowned Nocturn to dispatch of the vampiric threat.
Ayukazi's utter mastery over blood and shadow, overcoming the transformation that even Zsarachnor could not, stunned the once-gloating vampire. No levity remaining, Zsarachnor pressed Ayukazi with the full force of his might. Yet it proved for naught, as the powerful Nocturn unleashed a destructive sanguine nova, the eruption of power pinning Zsarachnor helplessly against a wall.
Zsarachnor let loose a scream of rage at vengeance denied, of pain at power unleashed, and, above all, of envy at the mastery that so eluded him. Manipulating her now-omnipresent shadow to retrieve her lance, Ayukazi promptly ran the weapon through Zsarachnor's eye, obliterating his head in a spray of blood and skull.
At this stage, the Goddess Iosyne finally stirred, laying claim to the defeated vampire - still skewered upon the lance. Proclaiming Her pride in Her chosen General, the Malevolent then vanished with the helpless Zsarachnor. Cheered on by the triumphant - and very loud - shouts of her fellow Carnifex, Ayukazi manipulated the blood of the dying Llazuth's wound, purifying all impurities and willing the Spider Queen's very blood to stitch together the wound from whence it came.
And thus, Ayukazi, first of her kind, master over blood and shadow, assumed the mantle of Nocturn in absolute victory.
Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 15th of Severin, in the year 491 MA.