Faith is a powerful thing.
Belief in ones self can help you push yourself beyond the limits imagined.
Belief in others can raise spirits and make them work with greater fervor.
Belief in a religion can make people perform actions which would otherwise be unacceptable.
Once however, long ago in times forgotten, someone believed so deeply; so strongly, that in an eternity of darkness, a glass eye opened.
'Xartina.' A dark-haired woman gasped and opened her eyes - for all the good it did her; she was in a room of complete darkness. She was awake fully, now, and rose to a kneel in this dank tomb. Did she hear a voice...? Yes? No? ... no, apparantly not. Xartina closed her eyes once more and silence enveloped her.
The mightiest of kindgoms in the land! That is what the Vantin believed - Generally humanoid in shape, their race had flourished over thousands of years and had become dominant on this sphere. As diverse as any, they had politics, monetary systems, towns, cities, farmlands, values and traditions. However, they did not have a religion.
As the Vantin watched other races grow, they noticed that the others all believed in some form of deity or other, whether it be a god, or the elements, or energies within themselves or the dead - these beliefs seemed to give the other races solace, and the Vantin wanted this.
A deeply unsettling, discordant hum reverberated off the walls in the darkness. It had appeared so slowly and softly to start that Xartina only just realized then that there was a hum at all, even though it was now quite loud. She opened her eyes. For just a millisecond, a glint of reflection off another's eye pierced her sight, and the woman yelped, heart racing as she leapt to her feet and stumbled backwards.
But when she looked again... there was nothing. The sound had gone. It took Xartina half an hour to calm down enough to lower to the ground once more and close her eyes. Nothingness embraced her.
The Vantin believed there were greater forces out there; it was just that none of the race could seem to connect to them - to find these 'gods' and learn of them. After many centuries of studying the other cultures and their gods, a group of Vantin extremists from the decided it was time to once and for all seek out the gods for themselves. A child of fourteen was 'volunteered' to the test: The greatest of magicians spent two years on her, performing rites and casting spells to make her require no nourishment for the rest of her life, and to keep her alive and sustained without the need for physical exercise or an active oxygen supply. After many cruel experiments were performed, she was finally brought to a mighty temple and dragged down to the depths, to a tomb beneath the earth. She was given instructions to spend her life seeking for a god, and then she was sealed beneath tonnes of stone, with only ten by ten by ten meters of room to call her home. The extremists of the Vantin believed that if she truly did find a god, that god would set her free. Otherwise, she was forgotten to their race.
And the girl did search for another bieng.
For sixteen long years Xartina searched, and thought of vengeance.
The woman gasped once more, shocked into opening her eyes. For a moment, as her belief wavered, there was nothing but darkness. But finally, she knew that she had heard that voice. She knew it! The discordant hum she had heard two years ago returned, and the unseen roof above Xartina's head began to glow as though it had become superheated. The hum turned into a shriek of noise and the stone above began to melt - droplets of molten rock raining down. The now-terrified woman cowered in the corner, but any droplets which touched Xartina's skin did not burn as she had thought - instead, it passed directly through her and splashed on the ground as though she were incorporeal. As the droplets struck the ground, they ran towards the center of the room and formed together, a form arising out of the mass. In a few scant seconds it was over - The hum disappeared, the roof stopped raining molten stone and all was dark once more. Xartina rose slowly, staring at the empty void where that form had seemedly arisen from. Several more seconds passed, before from the middle of the darkness, twin pinpricks of light shimmered into view, illuminating the room slightly.
In the middle of the square tomb, Xartina saw a figure cloaked in hooded robes - their colour underterminable. Beneath the hood, Xartina spied two orbs of glass, spinning silently in the midst of a tempest which was contained only by the clothing around the figure. She also saw a face beneath that hood; genderless and raceless. 'I see you, Xartina. I see what... troubles you.' The figure peered at the empty walls around him, and shrugged as if they were of no consequence. The woman Peered at this form in a mix of horror and awe, and replied with the only word that came to her mind - 'god', in her language; '...Axtrami!'
The name did not register anything to the bieng in the middle of the room. 'I offer only what you wish, Xartina. The price is your life. Are you truly devoted to this?' the woman stared silently at the form before her, and after some time, nodded and spoke - her voice coarse from not having used it for months, 'Do it. Free me from this tomb. And give me the means to slay my people.'
The temple which had harbored Xartina had fallen into disuse years ago - about five years after the Vantin had imprisoned the woman, they had given up hope of her ever returning with a deity to call their own. One raining day, sixteen years after Xartina's imprisonment, a lone woman stumbled out of the entrance of the temple into the light of day and fell to the ground, covering her face in anguish, the brightness piercing her near-useless eyes.
Within minutes a large crowd had formed around the huddled form - Xartina had made it out of the tomb! Had she found a god? Did she bring them the sense of belonging they desired?
Slowly, as the woman became used to the light, she stood, and a hush came over the crowd. But Xartina did not speak any words. After she regained her footing, she swung with her fist to the nearest person. A previously unseen shard of stone in her hand pierced the man's chest and entered his heart. There was a collective gasp from the crowd as that man slumped lifelessly to the ground, then screams of terror as, seconds later, the lifeless form of the man arose once more, his fingertips already turned from flesh to sharpened stone. The freshly slain man instantly turned on the next closest Vantin to him and attacked viciously, slashing with the stone hands, whilst Xartina advanced on her second victim. The crowd of Vantin fled.
It took only one year. The fastest mass extinction of a species known - For every Vantin that Xartina slew, a revenant of flesh and stone arose in its place, and every Vantin slain by the undead creatures also arose as one. Due to the spells of nourishment and envigoration cast on Xartina, she never needed to sleep, eat or rest, and she kept on attacking with her exponentially growing army. Some Vantin swore that, at nighttime out of the corner of their eyes, they could see a cloaked figure walking just behind Xartina, but when they tried to focus on this person, it turned out to be nothing.
And it seemed Xartina was gifted with a second sight! She was drawn to any Vantin, and no matter how close or far away, she knew where her next target was. Three hundred and thirty two days after the woman exited the tomb, Xartina slew the final Vantin left on the planet. A sense of relief and satisfaction flooded through her, and she watched as the mighty army of stone and flesh she had created collapsed in unison, their forms turning to rubble, then to earth. From the barren soil before her, a figure arose, a cloaked form congealing out of nothingness. Without word, Xartina handed the shard of stone back to the form before her, and Axtrami turned it around, resting the sharp tip of it against her breast. Xartina blinked, and stared at the glass orbs beneath the hood before her, 'Wait! I have a question.' Axtrami paused, then nodded once in assent, 'Are you truly a god?' the genderless lips beneath that cowl curled into a smile, amused at the woman's insight, and an answer was shared without delay; 'No.' Lightning crashed, a blinding light burned Xartina into oblivion, and darkness alone reigned.
The Vantin were gone. But Axtrami was here to stay.
Axtrami is not a god. Borne of Xartina's belief and determination, Axtrami is a bieng who's existence thrives on devotion - not necessarily devotion to him, but the general act of faith. As long as there is hope, faith or devotion somewhere in the world, Axtrami will never die, however unless someone believes in Axtrami, the bieng will never be able to do more than exist.
If someone were to learn of and believe in Axtrami, however, Axtrami would be able to reach out to that person in dreams, and also touch their thoughts when their minds are most active - usually at nighttime while they are awake.
Because he was created from a mortals mind, Axtrami is a creature who - excepting certain circumstances - is only able to exist within the mind and dreams of people, and is only able to touch people in the manner of dreams, nightmares and thoughts. However, the more people or the more strongly people believe in Axtrami, the more influence Axtrami is able to have in the physical world. Xartina, for example, believed so strongly in Axtrami and her retribution, that Axtrami was actually able to physically manifest himself and walk the earth.
Due to Axtrami's nature, he is both more powerful yet more restricted than a god. As long as someone truly and strongly believes that Axtrami is able to do something, Axtrami will be able to do it. Xartina believed that Axtrami would be able to give her the means to destroy the Vantin race, and so Axtrami was able to create and give to her the shard of stone which was able to raise an army.
Dispite how it may seem, Axtrami is NOT forced to do something just because someone believes he will - Axtrami is a creature with free will and thoughts of his own, and he can decide whether or not to act on someone's beliefs.
Axtrami is not a creature who thinks in terms of 'Good' or 'Evil'. His actions lie outside of this, and as such his actions may not be predicted by these mortal-made terms. In general, it can be said that Axtrami lives to exist.
Fast forward now, from the time of Vantin's extinction. With the death of Xartina, Axtrami was all but forgotten, and as such he lay dormant, silently watching the dreams of the other races. As millenia passed, he watched and learned of the true nature of all those who could dream. Races rose and fell, until finally, in a time where one race lived beneath the ground, mining ores; while another lived in the forests, learning of immortality and a third lived in all climes; from the plains to the arctic and the deserts, Axtrami felt the tinge of belief once more. One group of that third race, who had staked out a life in the deserts of the world, had been tempered by the deserts over centuries to have an utmost dedication to their survival. These people had evolved differently to their cousins, and had now begun to believe that there was something more out there. For the first time in millenia, Axtrami was aroused out of dormancy and entered the dreams of these people.
Barhaki dreamed of storms, and lightning. The human tossed and turned in the grips of a horrid nightmare, wherein a storm had come alive and was hunting him through the deserts. The caress of lightning jolted his body, and in his dream, Barhaki cried out for something - ANYTHING to save him!
Abruptly, the nightmare shifted. Images flashed before his eyes quickly; Barhaki saw a long-dead race. He saw a frail girl thrown in a tomb and sealed away for years. He saw the dead rise, turning into beasts of flesh and stone. He saw a race die and fade to nothingness. Finally, he saw twin orbs of glass swirling in a tempest, and he knew those 'eyes' were focussed on his soul. The sound of a woman's incredulous voice echoed in his mind, '... Axtrami!'
Barhaki awoke with this word searing his tongue. Outside his make-shift tent, a violent storm raged. That dream was so real...! He arose and left the tent. Buffetted by the rain, he peered at the clouds above - he had felt a presence, he was sure of it!
Suddenly, an enormous shaft of lightning plummeted from the skies above and struck the ground, less than one hundred meters away. The Tremulous voice of thunder pierced his ears, and the light turned everything into darkness. Ten minutes passed before Barhaki could see once more, but when he could, he ran straight to where that bolt of lightning struck. There, strewn across the sands as though it had exploded outwards, lay many shards of a most strange, transparent element. Dispite the lightning just minutes before, it was already cool to the touch; smooth. Barhaki raised his head to the sky and peered at the roiling clouds above. Beneath his breath, he uttered 'Axtrami...'
The seed had been planted. From Barhaki's nightmare the name Axtrami, God of storms had arisen. And the 'proof' of his existence through the discovery of glass, or 'Ouzquin', made others begin to believe, as well. All that was required now, was time.
Though the Ouzquin Dremorix have evolved differently than other humans through the next four millenea to current times, they have not yet evolved enough to harbor so much dedication and faith to allow Axtrami to physically manifest in the world. However, at nighttime or in the dark when the mind runs wild, one who truly believes in Axtrami may hear a divine voice in their minds, or notice a glimpse of a cloaked figure in a darkened corner for just a second... And who knows? Perhaps the next generation of the Ouzquin Dremorix will bring birth to someone who can make Axtrami real. If this happens, one had best hope that he or she does not harbor any ill will to the world, or else the Vantin may not be the only race who succumbs to Axtrami's Wrath.
This is intended more for background knowledge than use in a conventional roleplay.
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? Responses (13)-13
Splendid. i love the story of Xartina, and her vengeance. It seems natural that Axtrami is this sort of being/entity rather than the classical God on High surrounded by lesser gods and servants. Top marks!
I can definitely appreciate it and the effort put into it. Very nicely incorporated into the current knowledge base.
What impresses me most, is the consistently beautiful prose which permeates this entire codex!
(Also what Scras said).
I've been awaiting Axtrami's Emergence in order to get the overall divine perspective on the Ouzquin Dremorix. I wasnt dissapointed.
What a haunting, intense, and richly developed race and society!
I said it before and I'll say it again. The Children of Glass should be packaged and marketed ASAP!
What they said; interesting prose as the idea itself.
Actually, he (it?) could actually create several religions to support him. What are his goals besides survival? Seems he likes to be worshipped, though he is in no hurry and bides his time. Does he want to be corporeal permanently, or merely now and then?
Sensible questions, Manfred: Though it's free for the GM's interpretation for any plot they may want to make, I always imagined that what Axtrami wishes to do is to test mortals - push their limits and see how far they can go. I thought of it as him experimenting with the world, and the mortals are the lab rats.
The only reason he strives to get 'worshippers' is that is strengthens him; increases his hold in existence. His main goal isn't to become permanently corporeal, and he's just as content to remain within dreams and thoughts. The only thing his appearance in the physical world would mean is that there is a lot of devotion or belief around, and it's just a gauge of his hold on reality.
I enjoyed the Glass shifting crazies from the beginning, and this tops off a great creation. It meshes very well with the tone and the style of the other pieces, and actually makes a lot of sense. It seems that someone like Axtrami might change his name so that he could be worshipped by multiple organizations, but that's just an opinion.
Nicely written and intriguing idea.
Centuries from now, this creature, who knows what is in the mind of people, could be in the 'perfect place' to truly change the world.
Perhaps it will instrument the demise of other deities.
Perhaps it will decide that it will run society.
Perhaps someone will get a clue and lock it in a box, only to be opened centuries, if not millienia later, a modern world to play with... one not used to magic.
Did the Vantin live on the planet where the Ouzquin Demorix would eventually appear, or do they live elsewhere? That was the one thing I was unsure of as I read your sub. Other than that, marvelous work. It seems entirely consistent with what I know so far of the Ouzquin Demorix. Great job SE. Anything else I'd say would be repeating the above.
More excellent work, SE. Keep 'em comin'!