01 Nov Pirrukh – a short story of Myths of Khoralla
A talented artist called Jacob Thompson sent me this doodle the other day. It seemed substantially cooler than a doodle, so I was inspired to write a short story, set in our Myths of Khoralla setting. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for some time, to add flavour and an understanding of what the setting is all about. So here’s the first of them!
Dust spread across the stone like a veil. Cobwebs hung in thick strands, making Pirrukh’s face twitch as he strode through them. There were still pillars, though they were chipped and battered. Some of them had collapsed, spilling rubble down from on high. Countless tons of rock and dirt had ruined what had once been the grand Wing of Draegeth, where returning armies had paraded in their majesty, returned from distant lands with captured pennants, chests of booty, and soft-skinned slaves.
Pirrukh’s mouth watered at the memory. There was something… delicious about how they had whimpered, how their eyes had stared at him, seated on his throne. They had heard the rumours, it was true. But to see him in person… he could feel their minds fraying in the presence of so much power, of so much might. And then there had been other pleasures as well. Pirrukh smiled to himself. Or he would have, if he had had lips. Instead, his appendages twitched and wriggled. Good times.
But all gone now. All dust. All ashes.
His eyes fell upon the ruins of the mausoleum. The heavy stone blocks, fifty tons apiece, that had lain over him, protected him in his slumbers for all these millennia. How long? He wondered dimly. The sigils had been carved deep, inlaid with precious metals, and mixed with the blood of innocents. The chanting had gone on for weeks, and at its culmination, it had drained the life essence of the cabal. Sixty of Pirrkuh’s greatest magisters. Men of such power that they could lay armies low – and had, when Pirrukh himself went on the march. They had consumed ten thousand men of Arn’oth, in a firestorm that shook the very earth. Volcanoes had erupted. A river had changed course. An empire had ceased to exist. Pirrukh had savoured the flesh, and the spirits, of quaking princesses, had feasted on the soul essences of kings and princes and great generals.
But alas, all things must pass. He had needed the cabal for this, his mightiest ritual. For he had seen the end.
He glanced up at a shattered gallery. There were gargoyles carved into the high stone, and beams of light danced with dust motes where they fell through the holes in the ceiling, a thousand feet or more above. It had been a carefully-designed place. Hollowed out of a mountainside, made impregnable by sorceries and armies, made rich by conquests.
There had been mirrors up there once, before the final battles. The mirrors had caught the light, shone it down from one to the next, to illuminate the city with the bright, burnished hues of day. It would catch the crystals in the rock, the veins of gold he had left intact, the richness that was displayed with such careless extravagance. Pirrukh liked pretty things.
But he had seen that it would end.
Too many. The lesser races were puny, but like ants they could tear down a mighty foe. His own beget rose up in rebellion, weakening his resources, wearing on him like a pack of mangy dogs. He was so close to his goal. So close to a place among the gods.
But it had come to an end. Legions beyond counting. Younger races, pushing each other into a war frenzy. Pirrukh had enjoyed his status as a terror. But perhaps a little too much? There were others nearly as mighty. Others who had learnt his ways, learnt to combat him, to nullify his efforts, dampen his magicks.
The gods themselves were jealous.
Then Pirrukh started to gurgle, his face wriggling and twitching, blowing goo, snorting with glee.
It had worked. The mausoleum had kept him whole, in perfect status, for an eternity. Millennia had passed. His city had vanished. But I am still here.
He looked down the long, dark corridor, at what had once been the entrance. There was nothing but stone there now. Probably sealed, warded and runed to prevent access. But they were old now, and frail, and Pirrukh was as strong as ever.