Strange Bedfellows - Part 3

Belphagor walked down the flight of twisting stairs, his boiled leather soles slapping against the cold marble. Flanking him on either side were depictions of the God of Knowledge in various poses. He was disappointed not to find any depictions of the aforementioned deity oiled up and flexing. The only art he had in his lair showed various men and women—all in various states of undress—oiled up and flexing. To this point, he hadn't actually considered that others would decorate their homes with anything else. Shaking his head at the pity, he came to the bottom of the stairs. He could see a circular room at the end of the hallway, Belfas standing in front of a pedestal. Passing more disappointing artwork, he walked forward to stand in front of the Greatheart.

As he neared, he could begin to hear whispers at the corner of his mind, as if ten thousand secrets were echoing around in his skull. He tried clamping his ears shut, only to hear a muffled Belfas laughing ruefully.

"Be grateful you can't understand the whispers Blackblade. They are horrible to behold, but it's a necessity that they be recorded and known. This," he said, gesturing to a large open book on the gilded pedestal. "is the Compendium Mystros."

Belphagor furrowed his brow. "Not the Compendium Mytros right? The book from all the children stories?"

Belfas nodded gravely. "The very same. This book," he said placing his hand reverently on the open page, "houses the dreams and nightmares of the God of knowledge itself."

Belphagor took a cautious step backwards. "It uh...It doesn't steal souls right? That's just a story right?"

Belfas paused, contemplating the answer. "Well, I haven't seen it do anything like that. That being said, I wouldn't touch it were I you."

The Blackblade stared pointedly at Belfas's hand, resting naked on the exposed page.

"I said if I were you. Thankfully I am not," said Belfas with a wry grin. "My family have been guardians of this book for the last two hundred twenty two years. We have received training over those centuries to protect us from the book's wiles. Men and women not so prepared would find themselves driven stark mad, ravening and raging at the images graven into their fallow minds."

"Two hundred twenty two years?" asked Belphagor.

"To the day in fact."

"You don't think that's just a bit on the nose don't you? What are the odds that something like this would happen exactly two hundred twenty two years from the day your lot started watching over the book?"

Belfas sighed. "Probably. We're dealing with an artifact of the God of knowledge. They likely entrusted this book to us on that very day because they liked the symmetry of two-two-two. Gods are like that, easily amused and thinking themselves too clever by half."

A distant growl of thunder pealed through the sky.

Belphagor winced, knowing all too well that a misplaced bit of blasphemy could result in an untimely 'death by being incinerated by lightning'.

Belfas laughed, clearly amused. "The God probably set that bit of thunder up years in advance, just to screw with us. The God of knowledge does that kind of thing all the time. Watch this. If that was a practical joke, give us another bit of thunder." Almost before he finished the sentence, another peal of thunder rumbled through the floor—this time sounding suspiciously like laughter.

"Well then," grumbled Belphagor. "What's significant about the book now? Why in the Twelve Hells below and Twelve Heavens above are we dealing with such a dangerous artifact?"

"This book tells of a time when the Gods will war with the Enemy. I believe that time is nigh. There is a prophecy, and I believe that you have just set it into motion."

"What can we do? Does the prophecy say?"

Blfas sighed. "The prophecy doesn't say what we do, only what we must face. Place your hand in mine, and I will show you," he said, proffering his hand.

Blackblade took his hand hesitantly, fearing what would come next. He was right to be fearful. He was surrounded by the void, an empty expanse of infinite darkness. He knew without being told that in this place, light had never existed, that darkness had always reigned uncontested. Time passed without measure, he felt lost in what could have been centuries or moments. Then, out of darkness, there came light. It did not come in an explosion, but rather a trickle. A sickly ball of iridescent fire, struggling against the suffocating darkness. Slowly, the light began to grow steadier, stronger, brighter, and then began to expand. The darkness recoiled from the light, feeling pain for the first time in its existence. With pain came caution, with caution came intellect. It struck out against the light, ebbing and flowing. Like a cliff against the crashing waves, again and again the light stood. Several infinities past like this, the light always growing stronger. Eventually, the darkness was forced to flee entirely from the light.

In ages past and times forgotten, a man was born. In him was the darkness made flesh. He was the first of the Gods, of the forces made flesh. Soon, the darkness began to rally in strength, spreading through the cosmos in a steady flow. The light took notice, choosing its own vessel—a young woman. She was the second of the Gods, light made flesh. Inevitably, they met in battle, clashing against one another in a titanic struggle which carved the very canyons and valleys. The blood which flowed from their wounds filled the earth, this would become the lava which spews forth from volcanoes. Their tears ran in floods, filling the oceans and rivers with the water we drink today. In time, they lay together, exausted from their struggles, equally matched. In their exhaustion and pain, they found their own personalities, they found love for one another. They coupled, shaking the earth with the strength of their passions. Earthquakes are the aftershocks of that coupling, and you still feel the tremors of their love.

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