by T.A. Saunders ©2015 v1.0

The end was nigh. The shriek of angered Tashalasheeri could be heard across the fiery plains of Vocoria, as she streaked towards the molten moon. While many Vocorian Titans moved to attack the approaching dragon with thrown masses of lava the size of modern cities, and bright spears fashioned from superheated Vocorium as long as mountains were tall, it was clear that their efforts were doomed. Her wings burned, but did not falter, her scales smoldered, but did not give way. Had they known, had they even a half a day to prepare, they might have been able to repel the Dragon Mother, and her impossible fury. Such was their fate, that they would stand, fight to the last, because Vocoria was their home.

Yet there was one Vocorian Titan who did not fight as they others did, because his task was a greater one still. One that he could not abandon at the end of all things, one he could not leave into question a possible escape, near the very end. Such was the fate of the Warden, Vakunah and the sole prisoner of his prison, Kandurhaz, “Why not go and fight, Vakunah? You are mighty, perhaps you could stop her?”

“Then who would watch you, Oruthun? You would get lonely.”

Oruthun laughed its horrific alien laugh, the sound of it bouncing off the time-frozen walls of its ancient prison. “I have seen the end of a whole universe, the end of your insignificant moon will not bring my end, or my freedom.”

“Just so, I must remain.” Vakunah replied, smiling a smile of rock teeth and molten fire behind.

“Then you remain to die for my entertainment. How strange it will be to have an eon, without you to converse with. I will miss you, foolish Vakunah.” Oruthun replied, even as the ground shook.

Oruthun had been alive during Lhordach’s time, and had been ancient, even then. The Helid credited with the destruction of the Universe that Was, it’s sentance was to rot in this prison for all Eternity, so it may know the passing of ages, but have no power to affect corrupt life, as it once did. A potent poisoner of spirit, Lhordach’s sons, Kaal and Miron, with the assistance of the Spirit of Time, Uronous, created Kandurhaz to ensure it would never escape, but would never know the release of death.

Countless eons later, as Vocoria shook, and sundered apart under the fury of a creature known to him only as the Dragon Mother, Oruthun wondered if that sentence was about to change. But then, there was mighty Vakunah. It would have to destroy the Vocorian of course, a creature it had grown to admire. Vakunah never left his post, never complained about his duty, and spoke to him with respect, despite the great evil it was. Oruthum, who had slain countless trillions, in bringing about the end of the eldritch times, and felt not shred of sympathy, felt a twinge of remorse for what it expected it would have to do, when the time came.

A time it knew was soon, for the prison itself now lurched, and its great, time-frozen walls cracked. Vakunah turned, folded his great metal and stone arms, with almost a sense of expectation, as the ground shifted under their feet.

“Run, Vakunah. You know what comes. You have done your duty.” Oruthun urged.

“I cannot run, because I will know I did not.” Vakunah smiled again. He would die either here, or as Tashalasheeri tore his world apart. It made no difference, except how he met that end. It would matter when his ancient spirit was brought before Father Kaal and his table.

Then, all became white and shook with force that neither eternal creature had been prepared for. Tashalasheeri’s fierce breath weapon tore through the very core of Vocoria, rending the moon apart, as the blast cut, cleaved and tore. While Kanduhaz was a sturdy prison, it required sturdy ground around it, to keep its captive imprisoned. As rock shook and rumbled, Oruthun wasted no more time on words, and burst through the first weakness it found in its cage.

Vakunah knew what would happen if Oruthun escaped. He knew because Oruthun told him, over the long days and nights he guarded the ancient Helid. It told him how it would remake this new world, into the likeness of the old, scouring away the new children of the gods, and returning its brethren from their banishment in Niraeth, beyond the Great Void. As the six-winged horror leapt skyward, bathed in the flames of his dying home, Vakunah also leapt, making one mad grab for the horrible creature’s long tail.

Powerful, stony hands tugged, pulled and tried to drag the fiend back into the fire, back into the destruction that would doom them both. They tumbled, and fell through searing fire, molten rock and chunks of metal, spiralling in innumerable directions. Oruthun lashed at Vakunah with the thousands of snakes that crowned its tail, and kicked at him with its taloned feet, but Vakunah was too strong, and it had atrophied for too long. Had it been of its full potency, perhaps escape, but even as it fought, it knew they were doomed.

But it would not have such an end. It refused to die in such a way, that all its infinite wisdom and knowledge would be lost. So, as Vakunah finally pulled it down to his chest by one of its wings, it wrapped its arms, free leg and tail around the mighty Vocorian and hissed its blight in his stony ear.

“This body perishes, Vakunah the Eternal Guardian, but I will live. I will survive through you!”

Vakunah had no defense against the Helid’s invasion of his mind, and body. There was no physical attack, no way to batter aside the spirit of a being every bit as powerful, in will as Kaal, or Zorah. Though he tried, Vakunah’s spirit was crushed, twisted and pushed aside, while the dominant, corruption of Oruthun claimed possession of the powerful Vocorian’s body. Pushed aside, did not however, mean vanquished nor would Vakunah allow himself, his body to be turned so easily into a weapon of evil. “As you escape one prison, I commit you to another.” With the thought delivered in the battle of wills, Vakunah took what remained of his control, and merged his body into a plummeting chunk of Vocoria. It would take Oruthun long to discover how to make this body free itself from the stone. Long enough perhaps, for Kaal or another Old God to destroy them both.

The massive chunk of fiery moon tumbled, and burned through the heavens, till it collided with its blue sister, Ishaela, embraced by her cool, deep waters. Steam hissed for several days, the prolonged exposure to such chill sapping the Vocorian body of strength, but it did not quench the fire within, as the two distinct wills fought for control.

It is unknown who eventually won the struggle of wills within the body of Vakunah, encased in a prison of stone and ore. Some say Oruthun devoured Vakunah, but in doing so gave the Helid something it did not have before, a sense of morality, a need to protect something. Others surmise Vakunah finally triumphed, at the cost of having his spirit poisoned by the Helid. Forever locked in a prison of his own making, with madness his only companion.

Today, Fogfall Island is said to be what remains of that stone and metal prison, and the Vocorian guardian trapped within it. Rumors persist that the Moul of the island worship an entity known to give their witch-doctors command over earth and flame, as well as dominion over the dead. An entity they call Poshuku, or ‘Living Flame,’ in the common tongue.