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“In the Beginning, there was the End.

And the End came with the Beginning,

And the End was the Beginning…”

A blizzard roars over the bodies. As the wolves march away from their prior bivouac to their den in the denser woods, one stray dog lingers to lick the paw of a fallen soldier. She then sneezes, wetting her dusty nose at the uncomfortable taste and whimpering from the uneven touch of black soot. Scraping her paw over her muzzle, she scurries along to keep up, never removing all of the odd material from her snout.

Dirge of the Crucible "

Yes, indeed. In a land far to the North, within the icebound embrace of Cold Mountains, we find the dark, old hand of a long dead thing; rising out of the snow... gasping for breath - clenching. The song begins.

In frostbitten eardrums falls an avalanche of ancient symphony - summoning godforsaken sound. Rhythm resumesl it's march. Melody, all but unmercifully doled. Ostinato incessant, and yet - all harmony faded. Yea, they wouldn't remember his era anymore. He didn't. Releasing himself from his newest sarcophagus, a shallow womb of Genesarian soil, he bid himself to listen - listen to that daemonic minstrel within him. His helm speared through the ground, mouth chewing through the worms’ silent anecdoche before the frigid airs froze them betwixt his remaining teeth.

  *CRUNCH Crunch crunch*

♪ " A stone for sleep in a dark cell deep. . .

Two dead wings & a noose, for the Keep..." ♪

Dragging his left arm, he lifted a line of snow off the moderately heavy chain tethered around his forearm. Wrenching his right leg from a dormant hold of the hoarfrost topsoil, he gasped. Finding his left leg detached - wriggling, where bone should have been - a thick, oozing stream of magmatic ligament resided, an incandescent mucus of flame. Moving a little  further from his buried limb, the amorphous mass constricted in elasticity, glowing dimmer as he stretched. The tension was pressured. How far would he have been from his home, the Dustharbor?

It almost pulled him back in. All of it did. Every time he woke up, it was like this. Yet he was unable to understand. He would have to lose himself again. Every time. He had to.

Groaning a pained sigh, he trapped the rim of his thigh in both of his hands, and slowly began to tug the body part out of what would have been his previously eternal rest. Finally! The long limb loosened, gravitating towards his abdomen.

♪ " And every toiling dame churched her sanity -

And every   roaring shame   felt relax..." ♪


He noticed the two rings on each of his hands. Once his thigh had reconnected itself to his dusty gray core, his flesh began to smolder againpotent. A black steam broiled as the amputee began to cauterize this new, impossible wound - welding his flesh back on over itself, again. A relaxing feeling, perhaps, but not without it's own disturbance. No, this time, something was of. If anything, something was seriously wrong. Because this time he could not recall where those rings came from, nor could he even remember the reason why they were equipped, so delicately, on his ashen fingers.

The right ring was emblazoned with a talon, shaped in the manner of a pentecostal flaming tongue. The left ring displayed eclipse, bisected by a coiled flamestoke. The right ring was a daring orange, cindered in dancing embers at all times. The left ring’s eclipse did similarly illuminate, however more dim it was - the ring itself of marbled, obsidian char. No, they would not remember his era. No, not at all. Never.

The dirge could not ring in their ears. In the echoing distance, maneless lions and the prior direwolves stir. They smell it. Winter. Hunger. Death. The bears? Must be sleeping. The foxes? Must not be. Plenty of these types, hinterland critters, surrounded him - but none of them concerned him. No, they neither would remember his era anymore. Because they were never there for it in the first place. And for this one minute, the image burned his memory. Yes, Indeed. His was the era of The King. Lo, the exhaust of flame clouded all else from reason. Wait,

Someone was in these woods.

Fury. Rising like a geysered volcano, the flame of past glories immolated his entire body, sending him into a short, unconscious dervish. Once regained, his percept was reidentified as he knelt still in the snow, hands outreaching the impending ground.

Faltering, he felt his hip and raised his dangling chain at the sound of an observer. Looking then at his hip, he discovered the reason why his right hand ever went there in the first place. It caught a handle of some comfortable sort.

♪  " A half-bade sword and buckler board

Link red strings, like Drink for a King -"  ♪

He drew the blade, pointing the edge in a calm, comfortable slant towards the boy. A vindictive sword tip greeted the once bristling young lad, who had been trembling beneath his firewood.

“Perhaps… mister… uh.. ash zombie... Do you need a place to stay?”

Sane and smouldering, the relic felt indeed he must have been a zombie by the point - but the truth was much more ambiguous than that. He felt for his pulse, only to scorch his fingertips. And so the boy stood erect, waiting courageously for a prompt response. He would listen, knock-kneed and shivering, to The Ash Zombie Knight Man then muttering:

“♪ And every boiling vein burst with vanity -♪

And every soaring wing melted wax.”

collapsing in a sob, having lost the song in his voice halfway through. Grasping his temporal lobe,  looked back to the kindling son - asking in an already-knowing voice, “Iye... aam Aaasche? I... My wife, have you... I can't find my..."

The young lad dropped his firewood and ran to the figure hugging him, in sympathetic tears. The snow fell much more slowly for a moment, blanketing two strangers in the resounding empathy of loss.

He didn't know what else to do with the Frankenstein Knight, so he brought him to his cottage in the wood, where he promised to feed his new friend. It was around then he had realized, he should probably catch up. New gods, new men, new lands, new laws.

They entered the small building, situated between two elder high-trees. The surrounding wood was much younger, the winds unforgiving. The room was musty, and cold. There was no Promised Fire here. Iudicious gripped his sword handle and his eyes hung low over the boy, judging. A few short moments would prove his suspicions silly, as the young human began to load the tinder into the chimney flue, arranging the ash around the hearth to take to it.

Grinning, he struck a runed flint stone with a small bar of fine steel, “Papa’s,” he breathed. The sparks caught their eyes, dragging them into the hot dark of the flue.

Ignition. Beautiful ignition. Iudicious uhanded his blade, limping closer towards the hearth as the fire began to take. Reeling his head back, he breathed in the aroma, and began to feed once more. The human boy was not so different, he sat close to the fire, stoking the flames and chafing his hands by the warm, orange light. After a few moments; however, their differences begin to show. The little boy stands up steadily, and in a high pitched chirp, announces the rules of the cottage: “Welp, it's time for dinner! What should I call you -- Dusty?”

This caused some more confusion. Dusty? Wasn't his name Ashzombie? And Dinner? He was enjoying a perfectly good meal as it was! The deadgod bade his palm towards the fire to show the child, silently, that he had been sated. For Dusty, language was always tricky - understood when heard, but rarely comprehensively spoken.

The young lad, probably nine years of age, never caught on. He made for the kitchen to the right of the front door. A dark gray sky would greet him there, hiding the beauty of twilight from the nearby woods and inside cottage itself.

But that was alright, Iudicious thought, as he inched closer to the flame. This evening, the hearth would serve to be his twilight. And finally remembering his name, he soulfully stuck his hand in the flame.

♪ “And every boiling vein burst with vanity...

And every soaring wing melted wax…” ♪


Never again would Iudicious Asche speak of wives. For he would never remember...


[Character linked at the 'Beginning', feel free to hop in with anyone. Setting: The Cold Mountains + The Great North]

Edited by Ouroboros
That wolf should be female.

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