lol plot twist
Jack hadn't known what to expect, anger perhaps or the same inherent malice that now permeated Aku's mind. He was astonished to find there was a complete absence of such malevolence as he felt the memories swirl around him in a chaotic horde; completely without direction or coherency. The samurai was so taken aback he nearly lost himself to the blinding whirl of violent colours and sounds and feelings that thrummed like an angry beehive. He focused on what it was he quested for and he felt his foe struggle to fine tune their link, fumbling with Jack's primitive human psyche to achieve a smooth ongoing continuity.
'Show me,' he willed silently, 'show me the Forest King.'
A subtle shift in the chaos. Something extricated itself outside the maelstrom of impossibly meshed colours and noises coming from millions of separate memories to approach him. Jack was unsure in such a convoluted realm where the physical realities of the real world held neither meaning nor consequence. Regardless, the samurai held tense in the face of this unpredictable world but was immediately and completely overcome by the sudden shift in colour as it exploded in a dazzling blast like a star shedding its outer layers in the magnificent supernovas that gave beauty to the dark, bleak infinity of space.
'Show me,' he coaxed.
The memory was not as he envisioned: a small isolated loop of moments that would repeat over and over like a miniature film. It was a painting. Gradually the colours began to wash over his senses with increasing sharpness and clarity to form the first brushstrokes of a background, of softly rolling hills painted a lush gold by the early morning sun. Feelings—sensations—followed the slow sifting of shades and patterns; the refreshing bite of an autumn sunrise and the clash of the light's warmth with the chilly air. He could hear the rustle of falling leaves as a mild easterly wind plucked them from tall pale trees to litter them beautifully on vivid emerald grass caked with a lining of frost. There was a deep contentment here, an unquestionable sense of belonging in the cycle of this place.
Jack watched through alien eyes as a lone hawk soared through the immense sky, suddenly so small and vulnerable within the blue vastness. An eerie sense of the arcane ghosted the samurai's mind as the memory continued, eerie and serene with the promise of disaster. The beauty was poisoned, he could feel the recollection's innate acknowledgment that something was distinctly wrong with the world he had known and cherished for so long, that something sinister was going to happen.
And that he was very much afraid.
The picturesque scene quickly deteriorated into a rush of colour and emotion. Jack saw numerous trees flash by in a hasty blur, he could feel the panicked rhythm of his feet pounding on the earth and the greedy wheezing of his lungs. There were noises behind him, human noises and the sounds of pursuit. He could hear Them coming in a number far larger then before and with Their greater numbers They grew bolder and drove after him deeper and deeper into his precious forest. The samurai could sense terrible desperation bubbling within the memory's fabric, the deep and enraged knowledge that if They caught him They would do something foolish and awful. They would bring ruin to Their very existence and doom the very lives They sought to preserve by taking his own. It was a misguided chase, the very essence of ignorance. The injustice of Their pursuit was a deep and bitter splinter in his soul, They whom he had aided in Their time of need had turned upon him when Their fear consumed Their reason. Now he must suffer for Their crimes and lie bound on Their alter like a sacrificial lamb!
There was a harsh jerk as hands and hands suddenly clutched him and the smear of passing trees suddenly upended into the dizzying whirl of sky and empty branches and terrible hands, clutching and hurting. He hated Them suddenly and utterly. He cursed them in words he didn't understand but he was adamant in his damnation of Them and of Their crazed conviction.
Suddenly the entire world changed and was not the trees and hills he loved so much, but the inside of a dark room starved of light or warmth. It could have been a cellar or a dungeon or a cave. It was too dark to differentiate. Jack felt the grainy hurt of ropes instead of hands and an entirely different set of sensations and colours laid themselves before his eyes to again weave his perspective into the story. He was cold and confused and angry here. The sound of dripping water was agony he was so hungry and thirsty. They would neither feed him nor give him even the most meagre amount of water to drink and his demands to be released fell upon deaf ears. His muscles cramped and only increased his maddened daze. He had been forced to slump over in an uncomfortable kneeling position because of the way They had chained him to the floor and had lost all feeling in his extremities several hours ago. They had done these things on purpose to weaken him, he was certain. What he couldn't fathom was why They feared him, he was simply of Nature and merely wandered the trees. He had done so for many years, what did it matter to Them that he should do such a thing? What danger, what offence was that?
A man was there, he lurked in the darkness, but Jack knew he was there. He knew this man and he begged for his intervention, because this was a powerful man. A man who could override the madness of the mob if he chose to do so. A horrible silence met his entreaties and for the first time a distinct thread of despair began to entangle itself in his thoughts, the awful and very real possibility there would be no escape for him and They would succeed in doing something hideous.
Hands grasped his face, compassionate eyes pleaded for understanding. His face was clammy and streaked with dirt and blood; he looked weary and frightened.
"I…cannot stop thi… the attack ha… failed. …'m so…y… there is no… I can do to hel… you. Plea… un…stand there will be nothing f… us if you refu… to do …is…." They were the first words spoken aloud in the memory's entirety, perhaps the only ones, and Jack knew they held a special significance. However, time had eroded the moment's clarity and he could only hear the distant and garbled recollection of a badly warped recording where even entire words were lost to the distortion of time. He felt frustrated and thwarted, the other aspects of the memory were especially vivid yet the badly damaged information felt extremely important. The impact struck his core and filled him with even more questions, more minced emotions ranging from terror to rage to grief.
Another man was there but there was no compassion or attempts of justification, only coldness and conquest. He hated this man.
Suddenly he was free! They released him from the contorted position he had been forced to endure for several days without food or water and allowed him to struggle to his feet. It was difficult, he was weak and disoriented. They waited with solemn patience for him to regain his footing and the moment he managed to find his balance once again They threw him backwards with vicious force until his spine impacted against something rough and grainy and oh so familiar.
They restrained him once more and tied him down in a vulnerable spread across the immense roots. He could feel the bark's coarseness, its ancient hum that vibrated from deep within its heartwood and spiraled outward to create a gossamer aura, a sense of well-being. Even now in the heart of an unholy conspiracy the tree calmed him, soothed him. He almost felt content.
The thin, hateful man stepped forth and took the other man's place. He carried something terrible in his hands, a large glass container which held something dark and evil and very much alive. Even looking upon the struggling mass filled him with revulsion and he grimaced at its utterly mindless quest for a host. Its black tentacles spread over the interior without respite in the futile search for a weakness and pressed insistently against the glass.
He had mistaken the abomination for black but once the man came to stand inches from him, he could see it bordered upon a strange shade of blue and violet. It looked like an exotic flower.
The end of his world was heralded by the dry hiss of a broken seal.
For an eternity within a heartbeat there was nothing but unbearable pain. He felt it claw through his chest and radiate through his arms and his legs, scorch his fingers and ravage his head in unrelenting waves. He felt no relief when the torture began to ebb in small rivulets, rather there was a gradual acknowledgement something was irrevocably different and the world as he had known it was now forever beyond his reach. The sudden intuition filled him with sorrow and resentment. His own hatred summoned an elusive tangle of thought and perception alien to his previously simple existence that fanned his righteous anger into something entirely different.
They looked so small now, the two men standing before him with identical expressions of awe and dawning horror. See? Had he not told them? Now They would suffer just as They had forced him to suffer. His wrath would know no other bounds than those which defined his very existence! He would teach them all never to trifle with him again and They would regret their wretched ignorance most bitterly once his fury was unleashed. Look at what they had done. Look at what they had done to him.
How dare they!
Ah, but with the unholy rage came a different demand: HUNGER.
He was starving and this new torment was only worsened by the fact he didn't know what it was he starved for. He looked back and forth between the two insects at his feet, insignificant and suddenly so fragile, and felt his rage rekindle until fury and starvation warred for dominance of his thoughts. Wretched creatures the lot of them, bags of meat fit only to serve and amuse him during their short lives upon this earth. He gazed down at Them and failed to detect any peculiarity that the two men would suddenly be so small in contrast to himself. There was only rage and hunger and a malevolent apartness from Their world.
He gazed down at his tormentors and with a small flex of his will ended their pathetic existence in flames and smoke. How he did this, he was unsure but it didn't matter. Within a matter of moments the world had become so small and all the fears he had once entertained on a daily basis were rendered utterly redundant.
He was AKU.
And it was glorious.
A bubbly reflex rose within his chest and before he recognized the irresistible urge for what it was his laughter echoed in concussive blasts within the now confining room: HAAA HA HAAAAA! He was the master now, the emperor, the king, the god! He would level any who stood in his way and ravage this world of his until there was nothing left to feed upon except ashes and bones and misery! Not even those of his own kind would be spared; he would destroy everything and start the world anew. It would be the ultimate justice: his paradise built upon the ruins of those who had sought to enslave him! It was so beautiful! So deliciously merciless.
The light from the fire was bright, unnaturally bright and its sharpness stung his eyes. Maddened by the pain, he bent down to gaze at the destruction he had reaped and saw in his careless temper he had ignited dried wood and this fuel sent the blaze's brilliance to a nearly unbearable intensity. He squinted and turned to gaze at the room which contained him. It was a temporary structure, something hastily built to provide shelter and secrecy to this small little ravine where a number of odd trees grew. They glistened in the firelight as if they were blades of grass under a heavy dew. He felt a small pull, a small intuition. What they were or what their significance was in the events of his birth he didn't know nor did he care. He was hungry, too hungry for such curiosity and deliberation.
For a brief moment he knew something close to regret as the fire spread to consume the trees.
The emotion passed as fleetingly as it had come and without any more hesitation he willed himself to grow bigger, to burst from this puny prison and see the world with these new eyes! There was an incredibly fast sense of movement as he shot upwards and his resilient body easily burst through the loose wooden panels which had confined his existence. Imagine, he had been born in such a humble nest. The sheer ridiculousness of it! All mortals would pay for this insolence, they would pay a thousand times until the ground was drenched in tears.
The night sky was gorgeous and cold and black. He flexed his sinuous body into impossible positions and marvelled at himself and all of his newfound abilities and sensations. He was free, free of the human world and their wretched mortal shortcomings! He was free to feed and attack and grow in a way he had never envisioned! The world would bow—
She had been waiting for him. Without question he knew that fact intimately and it gave him a thrill as he beheld her for the first time and saw her for what she truly was: the Mother, the First. She smiled at him to reveal a dazzling array of wicked teeth that shone a disconcerting white against the soft glow of her blue-violet aura. She was so large, far larger than he, and towered over him with the same boneless agility he possessed with an expression of absolute delight and amusement. They were alike in many ways, both tall and supple and animalistic in their true forms. He had the dark crown while she had a pastel mane, an iridescent mass of what appeared to be hair which floated in ghostly wisps around her pupiless eyes. However, she was the Demon. She had no human taint he knew lurked within him and lent his features vaguely human characteristics, but he shook off this thought off.
They were the Two. Demoninc wizards, the only pair of their kind and here they stood together with the sinister pleasure only their kind could savour, for only equals could enjoy such a tranquility. He was hers and she was his. They were Two and they instantly hated and relished each other for this rare equality. It was not their way but it had potential and could yield so much for them both if only they would reach for it.
Oh it was divine.
She bent down to gaze at him with her impossibly large eyes, slanted and blue-violet like windows peering into the heart of a storm. They regarded each other with intense calculation but he was careful not to allow his sudden hunger to reveal itself upon his face. It wasn't the mere sight or scent of her that triggered his appetite, but the colours which hung about her in a ghostly shimmer. Every fibre in his being wanted that shimmer, wanted that powerful glow, that unyielding armour on her body. He wanted that magic, he wanted to fight her for it and rip it away from her until he had consumed it all.
Despite his efforts she discerned his animalistic cravings and favoured him another smile both withering and beautiful, the gates to the Underworld. The tantalizing dance of colours suddenly drew his eye and he watched with intense desire as they shifted and flexed in muscular tendrils so utterly defined as to defy the imagination. He craved those colours, he wanted them for himself.
"Ah, I am vexed. They have meddled with what is mine and I am unable to reverse what has been created." She spoke aloud like a mortal and her voice was loud and abrasive but the colours, her true voice, sang as pristine as any siren and he was completely enthralled by her every word. "But you are still precious, my son. Too precious to destroy so soon when your potential is so completely unrealized." She reached out to lay her fingertips on one of his shoulders and he jerked away from her touch, suddenly wary of her power.
She laughed at his skittishness. "What a concoction! They have forged you from Nature, flesh, and magic only to give you a face so close to a man. Does that bother you, my child, to bear the impure heritage of such an unnatural union of forces?" She laughed again when her words caused him discomfiture and bent even closer to his face, her colours nearly within arms reach. He was aware of everything about her, and realized she merely tantalized him. "My child, my splinter, I have you now in my grasp. Do you not know fear in my shadow? Others would beg me for their insignificant lives."
It required every ounce of his will to extricate his mind from the euphoria of watching the ever shifting patterns of her aura. "I am Aku," he replied in his deep rumble which shook leaves from skeletal branches and silenced the noises of the woods. "I fear nothing. I beg for nothing. I take what I please and destroy that which stands in my way."
She released another laugh that shook the ground beneath them. "My precious splinter, how well They have made you! Come then, great Aku! You have the magic of the Forest King and of Gaia flowing through you, come and try to take my power! There is no need to challenge, you already have a mortal's audacity! Come, then! Come with me and we shall tear this tiny world apart together in our battle for supremacy!" Her smile was acid, her laughter undiluted venom, but oh he loved her anyways, he loved her and wouldn't hesitate to strike her down and steal all her power for himself until he could absorb no more.
She shot into the air in a blur of motion, her arms outstretched, her face a mad smile of anticipation. He didn't hesitate to pursue her into the black reaches of the sky and grinned with equal malice at her glowing figure in the night's darkness. What bliss this was, what abandonment. No creature could know such a joy as he did in that moment, evil and corrupted in his rebirth to abandon himself to the deepest levels of the demon world. If he was ever capable of happiness or satisfaction, he was feeling it now. Both demons raced into the moonless heavens like two furious comets and left the humble ruins of the ravine to its fate.
The stars were left to witness the last tree burn to ashes, slowly scattered by the gentle eastern wind until only charred earth remained.