The Rise of Dagoth
Acra stood at the edge of the volcano, the huge crater falling away below her feet; yet still she edged them closer to see further down into the massive gap that belched up acrid blasts of sulfur and ash. She inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the gases as if it were the purest air.
Far below she could see the molten lakes of fire bubbling up toward her as if they reached out, calling her to them. The wind shifted then; and blackened particles of ash surrounded her, blocking her view once again.
The searing heat that should have been unbearable billowed up in waves, enveloping her. Acra opened her arms wide and threw her head back in an abandoned embrace as if it were merely warm and welcoming. This view touched her as no other could, or ever would; home.
The child in her womb leapt and kicked as if experiencing the same excitement Acra felt as she gazed at the sight below them. Slowly she lowered her arms and brought them down to cradle her swollen abdomen.
"This is your destiny." She whispered, smiling as she watched the rolls and kicks of the child playing out across the stretched skin of her belly.
A brief ray of sun broke through the billowing cloud of ash and glinted off something at her feet. Stooping awkwardly, she dug into the parched and blackened soil. Her finger touched against a round metal object crusted into the baked dirt.
Without losing the spot with her hand she shifted her weight and slowly sat, her legs dangling over the rim. Carefully she prodded the soil up so the object wouldn’t be dislodged and fall down into the crater. Scraping the crusted dirt from it, she found it was a silver ring with a House Seal on the facing. The symbol of it resembled an insect with a head at each end. Excited by the find, Acra slid the ring onto her finger and held her hand up to the light that was filtering through the black cloud of gases.
The sun illuminated the insect, seeming to bring the symbol to life, and as it did the child within her once again began thrashing in her womb.
“That is your family crest, it is well you should be proud.” Acra cooed, touching the ring against her swollen stomach.
Her mind traveled back to the day it must have fallen there; the day her brother leapt to his death from this very spot. Slowly Acra leaned herself forward to see once again what would have been his last visions before the flames leaping from the fiery red magma below consumed him.
The swirling depths below her held no mysteries back from those that belonged to it. The music of its bubbling surface called the kinsmen no matter their distance. It was a song that played in their blood, mimicking the cadence and fractals of the universe itself in its most powerful and primal form.
The fall of the House of Dagoth, the War of the Red Mountain; Acra could see it all as if she had been more than a mere child when it occurred. Or maybe she never was a child, for she remembered clearly the day when the other five Great Houses came and gathered the children that were the only survivors of the Sixth House.
In supposed charity each took a child into their bosom, choking them with the teachings of their own House. Without compunction they warped the children’s minds with their propaganda; displaying their prejudice and hatred openly against the Dagoth blood that flowed in the veins of the orphans of that war.
Acra remembered seeing House Indoril taking her little brother’s hand, leading him away. He strained his neck to keep turned toward her, not wanting to lose a second of his beloved sister’s face as they pulled him along. His face contorted with the pain of loss; his parents, his home, and now his sister. His free arm stretched straight toward her, the hand opened and reaching as if he hoped she would stop them.
Acra’s face had been a mask that day; with not a flicker of an eye to show the rage that boiled within her at these hypocrites that took away everything they ever had with one hand, then stretched out the other in false friendship.
In her mind and heart she said her goodbyes to Dagoth-Tython; but she would not give these that destroyed them the satisfaction of hearing her goodbyes, nor did she wave her hand or stretch it to her brother.
Instead, as she watched the devastation created by those that now sought to sop their own consciences by brainwashing the children of Dagoth; she vowed that the House of Dagoth would rise again.
Clenching her fist till her nails bit into her palms, she swore she would see that the blood of Dagoth would never die. When she opened her fist her own blood trickled from the half-moon shaped cuts in her palms and dropped onto the ground beneath her.
She stooped, scooping up a small mound of that dirt; carefully avoiding that which held her blood. A part of her would remain in this place as a vow, a promise to return. Opening her locket she pressed the dirt into the small heart pendant, closing it quickly before anyone could see her actions.
She would carry that piece of her home with her; a talisman of strength against the enemies that were dividing the last remnants of Dagoth’s legacy and distributing it amongst themselves as if it were so much loot instead of flesh and blood - the children of Dagoth, whom they hoped to dilute the evil from by intermingling the blood with their own, thinking theirs was the purer.
Thirteen years she had spent hiding in the dark at night when the rest of the house slept, opening her locket and kissing that dirt, praying to Dagoth-Ur for guidance. The answers had come in her dreams, she knew what she must do.
Finding Tython would be her first act. He had been sent to Mournhold to study at the Temple. Acra joined as well, finding him by the song within her that recognized the blood of Dagoth and sang out when it was near. His name had been changed to Indoril-Tay, and his memories of any life other than that of House Indoril had long since been smothered with the lies of those that raised him. He did not know his true heritage, and thought Acra was a cousin of Indoril blood.
“Ah, but are we cousins then? Because you were adopted by your family, were you not?” Acra teased.
“Yes, but I must be related, why else would they take me in?” He asked.
Acra pulled the pins from her tight braided crown of hair, letting the long tresses fall around her shoulders and down her back. Watching his reactions, she undid the clasp at the front of her robe, revealing her nakedness beneath, then slowly let it slide down her arms and fall to the floor.
“It is not incest if you know not the relationship.” Acra whispered.
She never revealed to him the true nature of their connection, and for two weeks they sank themselves into passion.
One night Dagoth-Ur revealed to her in a dream that she was with child, and that it was now time for Tython to learn his true identity.
Acra was nervous, dreading the moment she must tell Tython; but she would obey. She must, so House Dagoth would rise once again from the ashes that the other Great Houses left behind on the ground where it once stood. And it would rise again, like a Phoenix; if it took every last breath she had.
Tython was late arriving, and when he finally entered his eyes were those of a trapped animal, wild and desperate. His clothes were torn and bloodied, and the smell of smoke clung about him.
Very slowly and deliberately Acra approached him. Her heart pounded in her chest.
“Tell me what has happened.” She said quietly, knowing his answer would be no reprieve from the task Dagoth-Ur had given her.
“My nanny in the House Indoril; Edebah, the one I told you abandoned me…she said they sent her away at knifepoint because they caught her worshipping Dagoth-Ur. I saw her on the street and recognized her. I followed her to her house. Acra, she told me lies! She said I was of the Sixth House, the House of Dagoth! She told me that was the song I kept hearing growing up. She gave me this ring that bears the symbol, the crest of Dagoth; telling me that the ring belonged to me. It was inside an orb; an orb I…took from one of my Indoril cousins when I was younger.”
“He held it in his hands, and something inside me felt rage that an Indoril would touch something that belonged to me. I…I killed him. He was my cousin, and I threw him off a cliff for touching that orb. Edebah shattered the orb and lifted this ring out. She said it was mine.”
“What did you do when she said that?” Acra knew the answer before she asked.
“I…killed her. I burned her house. I couldn’t be from that accursed House of Dagoth, she had to be lying.”
“But you have heard the song she spoke of. I have seen you listen to it.” Acra kneeled before Tython, idly stroking his hand; her fingers seeking to touch the ring that held the symbol of her blood.
Tython hung his head and barely whispered, “I have always heard the song, even as a child. She told me to follow that song to my destiny. The song told me to kill her. Am I as deranged as Edebah?”
“No. You are not deranged. The song you have heard is Dagoth-Ur, calling his children home. It is in the blood of all his children. It is so they may recognize their own. There were many others, you know. The House of Dagoth could rise again with you as their leader. I will help you find the others, and we can take back the land that was rightfully…yours…theirs. The children of the House Dagoth deserve their home back. You could make it mighty once more, as it was when Dagoth-Ur ruled among his people. You have the seal of the Sixth House, that is what that ring is. It is the power, and you hold it.” Acra’s voice rang with the passion she had kept hidden all these years for the land of her people, her own.
Tython’s face reflected the shock of thoughts that were skittering through his mind; the dawning realizations and horrified denials warred each other for control of his features.
“What…what are you saying, Acra? Why would you want to help someone who may be of that evil blood?”
Acra touched the ring one last time before standing up before him.
“Dagoth blood is not vile, nor accursed. You are repeating the words of its enemies; the words drilled into you as so much propaganda to squelch any remnants of those they hated out of the child they had brought into their home. They raised you to hate what you were, telling you that every drop of blood in your veins was of a vileness. How then could they love you, if you were this evil? They could not, they did not. It takes one of your own blood to love you. Don’t you understand, you must keep the Dagoth blood pure? These other houses lie so you will cross your lines with them and dilute the pure blood within you. You cannot allow that to happen! You must follow that song to only those of Dagoth blood, that the Sixth House will rise once more and Dagoth‘s name will never be forgotten. Do you wonder why I would help? Have you not heard the song when we are together? I help because I am Dagoth-Acra; and because you are not Indoril-Tay, nor have you ever been. The song within you tells the truth, you are Dagoth-Tython…my brother.”
“NO! You are lying! Your brother? I cannot be your brother! That would be incest!”
“There are no degrees of incest, you knew it was incest when you thought I was your Indoril cousin. It matters not the relationship. But hear me Dagoth Tython; the purity of our line will carry on. The blood will out now, for I bear your child in my womb.”
“You’re a liar!“ he shouted and shoved her against the wall with force.
“Am I? Let me tell you about my little brother the last day I saw him. As they led him away and he turned staring at me, his arm stretched toward me. Remember that day Dagoth-Tython. Remember it, because it was your enemy that killed our parents and burned our home to the ground that led you away, the blood still on their hands as they clutched your arm. Remember the red stain it left on your sleeve, and that you stared at it, knowing that it came from mother and father. Remember the smell of our home as it burned to the ground, with all we ever owned or should have inherited turned to ash. Remember the sky that was as dark as night and as red as blood from the fire that consumed all we ever knew. Those nightmares you have had since childhood were no dreams, they were memories. You believe Dagoth was evil? How much more evil are these other Great Houses that would do that to children and then raise them in a web of lies and hatred against themselves.“
The shock had deepened on Tython’s face, but along with it Acra could see the memories of that day flitting across his face in a myriad of expressions; jarring loose forgotten tears that he had shed freely on that day that changed both their lives forever. The horrible red and black clouds that filled the sky that day, the screams of the women as they were slaughtered and the children wrenched from their arms. He looked at her then, and she knew he was seeing her as he stared at her that day.
“But…but we are vile…we…”
“NO! Don’t ever say that. The blood of our people must be pure. We must do whatever it takes to ensure that. If the world was destroyed and we had to repopulate it, no one would think it wrong - well our world has been destroyed Tython. Remember that! And all those people who raised you to think they are not evil - they are the ones that destroyed it!”
With a sound like a wild animal issuing from his lips, Tython shoved her away from him and ran from the room. Acra heard the voice of one of his Indoril relatives calling him as he ran down the steps.
“Cousin, did you hear about the fire and murder tonight?”
Acra ran to the landing in time to see Tython bury his sword to the hilt in the cousin’s neck as he screamed, “I’m not your cousin!”
The boy slid down the stairs with a soft thudding noise as gurgling sounds issued from his throat. His cheek bore the imprint of the sword hilt, and his head was nearly severed from his body. Tython had run out. Acra stepped over the Indoril boy’s body and followed Tython.
For months she followed Tython, saving him each time he was cornered or captured by cutting a bloody path through his enemies and recalling him to the rim of the volcano; hoping he would take his rightful place as head of the House Dagoth and bring it once again to its former glory and power. Instead he had leapt into its depths.
Dusk was beginning to creep across the horizon, and Acra knew she must make her way down the steep pathway along the crater. She rose and stretched.
Acra skirted the edges, climbing down into the city below the mountain. When she reached her quarters she went straight to the nursery.
“How is he today, Edebah, did you sing the song to him before bedtime? How is my fine Tython?” Acra lovingly picked the young lad up from his bed. “You look so much like your father, and you will be king of all you see one day.” She said proudly as she lowered him back down, kissing him.
“Where are the others Edebah?” She asked the nanny, giving her a warm hug and peck on the wrinkled cheek.
They are within. Tython would not sleep till you returned, so I let him stay out here with me. You will be due to give birth soon, have you found the next survivor amongst the orphans of the Red War?”
“Yes, Dagoth-Ur has given me guidance in my dreams once again. Our rebuilding will be much quicker now that some of our female children have returned to us. Dear Edebah, how will you care for all these children?”
“Do not worry, Milady. Dagoth-Ur guides me in my duties as he does you in yours. And I will be here to see it the day the Sixth House rises from the ashes once more.”
“As will I.” Dagoth-Acra whispered softly, “As will I.”