The Hand That Mocked Them And The Heart That Fed

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bestowed upon you by Calamari_Knight

The Hand That Mocked Them And The Heart That Fed

Long before time had a name, when gods were just being born, the oldest and most powerful of them, the Three Who Were Three, gathered on the top of the Mothertree and decided in unison that, in order to keep creation in balance, they needed to limit their hitherto boundless might. After a lengthy discourse, they agreed on creating three divine artifacts able to overcome each of them.

Yahweh, whose domain was purity and compassion, created the Incessant Torch — as long as one would bask in its light, they could not be by the forces of darkness. Its existence was meant to prevent the younger and more erratic Satan from excessively interfering in the matters of lesser beings.

Death, the three-faced primordial void, reache Chaos and extracted a piece of perfectly black metal from it. The Brothers said that, when armored with weapons made from this metal, even mortals can clash with the mightiest of gods, like Yahweh.

Lastly, Satan, the personification of wisdom and defiance created the Elixir of Immortality — whoever would drink it would gain total protection from the clutches of Death. The Brothers reluctantly agreed on the potion's development, even though they insisted on limiting the quantity of the brew to merely three vials.

When the mortals have been banished from Heaven, the Trinity threw their gifts to Earth. The Incessant Torch was found and sealed away by a traveller in a place only they knew of. The Void Metal was passed over from hand to hand, until a certain blacksmith forged it into a mythical weapon, which later became known as the Spear of the Non-believer. The Elixir was sealed in three vials. One of them was accidentally drank by a thirsty lizard. The other was lost the in eons of time that have since passed. Some say that it's still out there, unopened. But our story is not about that vial, but rather the third one — the one that a long, long time had been found by a certain soldier, who, thinking it was merely alcohol, mindlessly drank it. Since then, Death could not have reached him, no matter what.

That soldier's name was Ozymandias.


Once the Ozymandias realized he had been gifted with immortality and eternal youth, he began to gain power with it. And he succeeded — after thousands of years of conquest, he created the largest kingdom to have ever existed on Earth. People were living in peace and wealth, and Ozymandias himself rejoined everlasting worship and glory.

Unfortunately, as it too often happens with mortals gifted with might too great to handle, Ozymandias soon learned of hubris.

The Immortal King had studied the arcana of secret knowledge and cosmology for many years, and so he comprehended the mysteries of the world's creation and the nature of the fluid that had given him protection from death. Initially, he was thankful to the Three Who Were Three for this gift. In his capital, the Heavenly City of Sa-Harr, all gods of the universe were worshipped equally. However as time went by, when Eternal Empire grew even larger, Ozymandias began to perceive himself not as merely the most stellar among humans, but as an equal to gods, if not superior. After all, if Death itself could not have taken him, what was there left to fear?

Eventually, he went as far as declaring that all the priests in the city of Sa-Harr are to be banished. Since that time, the only god in Ozymandias's kingdom could be himself and himself alone.


Gods were watching over all of Creation from among the branches of the Mothertree and saw how the Immortal One's vanity grew on. His ignorance and pride offended them, but also unsettled them, since when not worshipped, gods were losing their strength. In the end, they decided that such behaviour could no longer be tolerated and called the convened grand meeting of gods. Most of them decided that Ozymandias was unworthy of his immortality, unless he would make peace with higher beings.

The compromising Yahweh decreed otherwise:

"Fellow gods, I understand your worries, but what the Three made, even the Three cannot undo. Ozymandias remains immortal and no force on Earth and Heavens can change that."

Lesser gods did not like that.

"What if Ozymandias finds the other Divine Reliques? The Void Metal and the Incessant Torch? Were that to happen, neither gods nor demons nor death would be able to stop him."

"If that man is to rule the world, he is to remain pious and worship us as well! Our position in creation would be endangered otherwise!"

Yahweh could not answer that. Satan remained silent, wondering whether he shouldn't simply have created an artifact to resurrect the dead.

Then rang out the voice bloodcurdling to even the bravest of gods.

WE SHALL TAKE CARE OF THIS FRACTIOUS INSECT.

Three Brothers Death arrived at the meeting, to the grand surprise of all the attendants, since Death rarely ever spoke on matters of living things.

Yahwe silenced the uproar among gods and spoke himself.

"You? What can you do? After all, the very essence of the matter is that he remains outside your clutches."

All-Death, the oldest of the brothers, simply smiled. This astounded the gods even further, since their smile wasn't a common sight.

DEATH ALWAYS FINDS A WAY.


First to appear before Ozymandias was the Youngest, Small Death, the tamest among siblings.

"I bid you welcome, King of Kings." he greeted the ruler.

"Are thou really Death?" asked the Neverfading One.

"It's a job like any other. But today, I am a messenger. Gods are dismayed by your behavior and kindly ask you to change your ways and let priests back to your city."

The greatest among humans contemplated those words for a short while.

"And what if I refuse?"

"Then it would be my responsibility to punish you and your kingdom. I shall release deadly plagues that will wipe out your empire to the very last man. I'd rather not do such thing, so I advise you to comply."

The king stepped towards the balcony by his chamber. The Youngest followed him. An astounding view of the immensity of the Heavenly City of Sa-Harr stretched out before them.

"Look!" He pointed to the massive main square, on which thousands if not millions of people gathered to admire the beauty of the royal palace.

"Look!" He pointed to colossal palaces of the privileged few, their sizes those of cities.

"Look!" He pointed to the towering university building in the center of the city, where one could gain knowledge of any given subject.

"Look!" Lastly he pointed to a monumental statue the size of a mountain, depicting Ozymandias himself in all of his glory.

He turned towards Death.

"I've created something greater than gods themselves. I am immortal. I do not fear you. Plagues are your domain? My medics know the cure for any disease. You cannot send anything that would endanger me or my kingdom. You can be gone and tell gods that priests won't ever return to the city."

The Youngest remained silent for a moment.

"As you wish," he said and left.

As soon as he disappeared, the entire kingdom experienced horrific diseases, but Ozymandias' words hadn't been simply empty brags — the medics from Sa-Harr discovered cures for every plague that the Youngest had sent. The Eternal Empire lived through this test, while Ozymandias defeated Death for the first time.


Second to appear before Ozymandias was the Middle, Great Death; his domain was war.

"Ozymandias," he said.

"Your brother has failed, so it's your turn now?"

"As you can see."

"With the same message?"

"The same message. You are to let priests back to the city. This is the only warning you'll get."

"Or what?"

The Great Death's eyes burned.

"War."

Ozymandias stepped towards the giant map hanging on the wall of his chamber. It showed the vastness of his domain.

"Look." He pointed on the map. "This all I have conquered. I raised the best army that has ever walked the earth. Even the wildest and most foolish of tribes won't dare attack me. And even if such a fool would appear, they would be instantly crushed. War, you say? I tasted war and I don't fear it. Go on, throw on me everything you'll find in the outlands. The world is already mine anyway."

"Hubris is not the virtue of kings. I wouldn't forget myself were I you, mortal."

"Mortal? You are the one forgetting yourself. I don't remember being mortal. I am Ozymandias, the Eternal King! I'm the one to never fade away!"

"If you say so," said Middle Brother and left.

Soon after news about numerous attacks from neighbouring countries spread across the kingdom. Even if panic had broken out on the outskirts, it soon was calmed down, as soon as a quickly and very efficiently mobilized army set off to stop the invaders. Once again, Ozymandias' words were proven to be truthful — the enemies of the empire have been beaten and driven off. The Eternal Empire lived through this test as well, while Ozymandias defeated Death for the second time.


Last to appear before Ozymandias was the Oldest, All-Death, and their name was the Void.

"You're here, All-Death. I almost thought you're not gonna show up," said Ozymandias, as he saw them.

The Oldest remained silent. They seemed to be fascinated by the fact that this man really wasn't afraid of them.

"You're not the talkative type, I see. It's fine. But I assume that you bear the same message as your brothers?"

The Oldest remained silent.

"The answer is still 'no'. You gods do not deserve worship"

The Oldest remained silent.

"Maybe you created something all the way at the beginning of reality, but after that? All you do is watch humans grow and complain when they do something you don't like."

The Oldest remained silent.

"Look!" He pointed to the monumental throne on which he sat. It was a true miracle among chairs — carved in such a fanciful and intimidating way that it could not be described by words.

"Look!" He pointed to the crown on his head. Painted black and bloody red, it spread around the aura of regality and respect.

"This all has been gained by me, me! I've carved the road to the top of the world with my own hands! I am eternal! I have accomplished more than anyone before or after me! My glory won't ever fade! I am the one deserving the adoration! I'm the one that's truly immortal! My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings! Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

YOU MEAN THE SAME IMMORTALITY THAT YOU'VE GAINED SOLELY THANKS TO US AND YOUR ALCOHOLISM?

All-Death's voice surprised Ozymandias. He instinctively moved away from the figure and sat heavily on his throne.

"Begone. I do not fear you. I won't let the priests to me as long as I'm alive. And you cannot do anything to me, so you have nothing to seek here. My empire will never fall!"

Death did not respond, but merely turned away and disappeared.

The next morning, at dawn, the Heavenly City of Sa-Harr vanished from the surface of the Earth.


For many days, the traveler had been crossing the desert, when he found the ruins of the city.

He saw the tips of the highest towers, still sticking out of the sand. He saw vast legs of stone. He saw a shattered visage, half sunk in dunes. He saw heretic inscriptions carved on the pedestal.

He also saw a peculiar, emaciated creature wandering across the rocks. As soon as their gazes met, the critter fled and hid in a nearby hole. Intrigued, the Traveller followed him.

He walked through the underground tunnels for quite a while. He noticed that they were carved by human bare hands and wondered how much effort it might had took.

In the end, he encountered an underground chamber, and that's where he saw the creature once again. It might have once been a human, but there was nothing distinguishing the man from the animal left in it. It was curling in fright on a fanciful throne and was pressing a metal crown, which have lost its color long time ago, against its chest. Seeing that the creature did not wish to see him, the Traveller left it alone in the dark.

Returning to the light, the Traveller thought he pitied the peculiar critter. He pitied himself as well, since there were bonded by similar experiences, and amongst all things alive in heaven and on earth, solely this creature might have been his companion.

But it was time for him to set off again.

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