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Shurima Risen From The Sands 01
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Short Story • 4 Minute Read

Darkness Renews

By Graham McNeill

Am I a god?

Lore

Am I a god?

He no longer knows. Once, perhaps, when the Shurima's Legacy sun disc gleamed like gold atop the great Palace of Ten Thousand Pillars. He remembers carrying a withered Nasus OriginalSquare ancient in his arms, and them both borne into the sky by the sun's radiance. All his hurts and pain were washed away as the light remade him. If this memory is his, then was he once mortal? He thinks so, but cannot remember. His thoughts are a cloud of duneflies, myriad shattered memories buzzing angrily in his elongated skull.

What is real? What am I now?

This place, this cave under the sands. Is it real? He believes so, but he is no longer sure he can trust his senses. For as long as he can remember, he knew only darkness; awful, unending darkness that clung to him like a shroud. But then the darkness broke apart and he was hurled back into the light. He remembers clawing his way through the sand as the earth buckled and heaved, the living rock grinding as something long buried and all but forgotten heaved itself to the surface once again.

Towering statues erupted from beneath the sand, vast and terrible in their aspect. Armored warriors with demonic heads loomed over him, ancient gods of a long-dead culture. Bellicose phantoms rose from the sand and he fled their wrath, escaping the rising city as light blazed and the moons and stars wheeled overhead. He remembers staggering through the desert, his mind afire with visions of blood and betrayal, of titanic palaces and golden temples brought down in the blink of an eye. Centuries of progress undone for the sake of one Azir OriginalSquare man's vanity and pride. Was it his? He does not know, but fears it might have been.

The light that once remade his flesh now pains him. It burned him raw and seared his soul as he wandered the desert, lost and alone, tormented by a hatred he did not understand. He has taken refuge from its unforgiving light, but even here, squatting and weeping in this dripping cave, the Xerath OriginalSquare Whisperer has found him. The shadow on the walls slithers around him; always muttering, always conspiring to feed his bitterness. He presses long, gnarled hands that end in vicious, ebon talons to his temples, but he cannot shut his constant companion in the darkness out. He never could.

The Whisperer tells tales of his shame and guilt. It speaks of the thousands who died because of him, who never had the chance to live thanks to his failure. A part of him believes these to be honeyed falsehoods, twisted fictions told often enough that he can no longer sift truth from lies. The Whisperer reminds him of the light being shut away, showing him the Nasus OriginalSquare jackal-face of his betrayer looking down as he condemned him to the abyssal dark for all eternity. Tears gather at the corners of his cataracted eyes and he angrily wipes them away. The Whisperer knows every secret path into his mind, twisting every certainty he once clung to, every virtue that made him the hero revered as a god throughout... Shurima!

That name has meaning to him, but it fades like a shimmering mirage, remaining bound within the prison of his mind by chains of madness. His eyes, once so clear-sighted and piercing, are misted with the eons he spent in the endless dark. His skin was as tough as armored bronze, but is now dull and cracked, dust spilling from his many wounds like sand from an executioner's hourglass. Perhaps he is dying. He thinks he might be, but the thought does not trouble him overmuch. He has lived an age and suffered too long to fear extinction.

Worse, he is no longer sure he can die. He looks at the weapon before him, a crescent-bladed Ruthless Predator axe without a handle. It belonged to a warrior king of Icathia, but a fleeting memory of breaking its haft as he had broken its bearer's army returns to him. He remembers remaking it, but not why. Perhaps he will use it to slice open his ridged throat and see what happens. Will blood or dust flow? No, he will not die here. Not yet. The Whisperer tells him fate has another role for him. He has blood yet to spill, a thirst for vengeance yet to slake. The jackal-face of the one who condemned him to darkness floats in his mind, and each time he sees it, the Reign of Anger hatred carved on his heart boils to the surface.

He looks up at the cave walls as the shadows part, revealing the crude daubings of mortals. Ancient, flaking images, so faded as to be almost invisible, depict the desert city in all its glory. Rivers of cold, clear water flow in its pillared thoroughfares and the life-giving rays of the sun bring forth wondrous greenery from a newly fertile landscape. He sees a king in a Azir OriginalSquare hawk-headed helm atop a towering palace and a Xerath OriginalSquare dark-robed figure at his side. Beneath them are two giants in armor wrought for war, one a hulking, Renekton OriginalSquare crocodilian beast armed with a crescent-bladed axe, the other a jackal-headed warrior-scholar. In the reptilian form, he recognizes a mortal's awed representation of his Ascended incarnation. He turns his gaze upon the remaining warrior. Time has all but erased the angular script beneath the faded image, but enough is still legible for him to make out his betrayer's name.

"Nasus OriginalSquare Nasus... " he says. "Brother... "

And with the source of his torment named, his own identity is revealed like the sun emerging from behind a stormcloud.

"I am Renekton OriginalSquare Renekton", he hisses through hooked teeth. "The Butcher of the Sands."

He lifts his crescent blade and rises to his full height as the dust of ages falls away from his armored form. Old wounds seal, broken skin knits afresh and color returns to his supple, jade crocodilian skin as purpose fills him. Once the sun remade him, but now darkness is his ally. Strength surges through his monstrously powerful body, muscles swelling and eyes burning red with hatred for Nasus. He hears the Whisperer speak once again, but he no longer heeds its voice. He clenches a clawed fist and touches the tip of his blade to the image of the jackal-headed warrior.

"You left me alone in the darkness, brother", he says. "You will die for that betrayal."

References

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