The Missing Page

Mantorok Plan Begins

All religion, my friend,
is simply evolved out of fraud,
fear, greed, imagination,
and poetry.

-Edgar Allen Poe

A.D. 2004 – Rhode Island

After I ended the threat from Pious Augustus and his Ancient, I began to feel a pull from the Tome of Eternal Darkness, as if the tome was incomplete. So in traveling the world in locating the areas of which the tome spoke of, I came across a missing page in Bombay India, inside an ancient, Buddhist temple. To where the page belonged I would have to see in the page and a story that would be told from a Buddhist monk named Nimith and his direct involvement against the Eternal Darkness.

A.D. 24 – Cambodia

He knew something was amiss the moment he set foot in the hollowed temple. Though he had to expect the change in his religion from Buddhism to Hinduism would be a difficult one, Nimith still felt uneasy when it was his turn to polish the ample orbs of his new deity, Kali, rather than the round stomach of his old deity Buddha. He felt unclean doing this chore, touching a figure of a woman and though the change in religion was easy and gradual, Nimith missed worshipping a god, at least an idol, for Buddhism was more of self rather than worship of an actual deity.

His brethren went about their work this evening, cleaning the anteroom or worshipping the new statue, the exact statue that he was polishing, that of a false idol. Quickly dismissing the blasphemous thought as it came, the monk finished up his work before moving to his chamber. More than one fellow monk took notice of Nimith's lack of respect to bow before Kali before leaving the room but none dare to question their old superior.

In bed the old monk laid while rubbing his face with both of his hands, confused and torn with his religious beliefs. He was told that this change wasn't going to be difficult but he knew that any change would be easier on the young and not for those whom seen fifty-two years of life and is set in their ways. It wounded his heart even now as the pounding of mallets echoed off his walls, telling him the four corner rooms were going to be used to worship certain time in the day instead of a place where the monks could meditate in silence for enlightenment.

Gliding out of his bed and onto the floor, Nimith sat cross legged with his hands on his hips. There he sat, mediating and hoping he could find an answer to his unnerving questions. He already knew that he couldn't change in religion, his posture told him so and so he breathed in long breaths for his answers. Politics was the game in the hierarchy in his country, both in Religion and State, and he was placed in the middle of all of it. Something deeper, darker within him told the monk that a great power was beckoning him. Without warning, a powerful voice screamed in Nimith's mind.


The voice, so sudden of a call, knocked the monk to the floor. Shaking away the vertigo, Nimith flipped to his feet and pondered the entity that just reached out to him. If not for his dedication to his old ways of meditation; he would never have gotten the connection to that strange voice. Whatever it was, Nimith decided that he needed to investigate.

As a master monk, Nimith was granted permission to own a weapon. A weapon, he believed that he would need in this endeavor. Taking the scabbard from its decorated spot against the wall, the monk slowly withdrew a beautifully crafted, bladed katana. With a sigh, Nimith left his chambers and headed down the hall that connected the Room of Dawn and the Room of Noon Prayers. Heading up towards the Room of Dawn a sudden, throbbing sensation erupted into the poor monk's skull.

The throbbing intensified into a massive migraine feeling like a dagger that repeatedly was stabbing him in his temple the moment he came before another Kali statue, halfway down the hall. The female goddess squatted as if she just landed from a jump and in her lower two hands she held a long silver spear. Decorating her upper right hand, she held an ankh high in the air while strangely enough, her left wrist and her neck were bare.

Something told the monk that this statue was the door to... where? Where would he go and to what end? The ache in his head gently resided as he began removing his silver anklet to place onto the wrist of the statue. The relief he felt told him that he must needed to see this through. Removing his silver necklace, Nimith placed the jewelry upon the statue. Immediately after the necklace touched the statue, a grinding sound emanated behind the statue before it slid back and turned into a cubby in the side of the wall, showing an entryway into a set of stairs that spiraled down.

Such a secret passage set a red flag up to the monk's thinking with his new order. Then and there he wanted to turn back and warn others about the possible evil that laid in his order. But his order wasn't the new order and he knew he couldn't go to anyone about this. With a shake of his head, Nimith removed a torch before heading down the spiraling steps.

Darkness immediately engulfed him as he descended down into the depths of the earth. Nimith knew not if it was the throbbing in his mind or the constant rotation in the stairs that instigated to his now dizziness. However, the disciple of Buddha would not back down. Lightly touching the final step, Nimith peered as much as he could down the dark hall. The walls were made of thick stone, though ancient in design; it seemed it would support the tons of earth hanging above him. A searing pain forced the monk to drop his torch to reach with his right hand to see what landed onto his neck, left shoulder and some of his back. Retrieving his hand, the monk observed a strange, black liquid scolded his flesh that soaked through his clothing.

A.D. 2004 - Rhode Island

Coincidentally enough, as I finished reading the last paragraph, I accidentally elbowed my cup of coffee onto the page. I always took my coffee black, so was it possible that I could affect the past with the tome or was this just fate telling me that mine and Nimith's destiny was set and forever intertwine? I still had much to learn, with the tome and with my life. Moving hungrily back to the tome I read on, feeding my mind with the history of this monk.

A.D. 24 - Cambodia

The liquid quickly cooled and only the side of the monk's exposed neck was scolded from the second-degree burns from the unusual black liquid. Closing his eyes, Nimith began to gently hum, sending himself into a deep meditative trance. Reaching out with his chi, he grasped the pain in his neck and slowly making a conduit between his neck and his feet, sending the pain he felt in his neck directly into the floor below. Once he reopened his eyes, relieved that the scolding has become bearable, Nimith picked up his torch and proceeded down the hall.

Pacing himself, Nimith shuffled more than once, as his eyes continued to see shadows moving in the darkness when nothing was there the moment his torchlight broke the void on where the shadow should have been. A gasp from behind had him spinning on his heels, peering down the long tunnel. With a chuckle, Nimith shook his head at his own paranoia from his own deep breaths. To someone as disciplined as he, afraid of his own breathing was unbecoming of a monk.

Turning back around Nimith's fears was realized the moment his eyes fell upon a pair of green orbs that emanated in the darkness down the hall, which stunned the monk in sheer terror. The lights brightened as a creature that seemed human limped into the torchlight. Though is appeared human it was far from being alive. The moving, leathery carcass reached out with its clawed hand towards Nimith's exposed throat. Snapping out of the trace, Nimith leapt into action determined to destroy the abomination.

Thrusting his left hand out, the monk aligned his torch directly at the creature's dried out face, sending its head immediately on fire. Stepping to the side for just a moment, the monk pivoted in a half circle with his right hand extended, removing the flaming head from its shoulders with his katana of which he withdrew in a single fluent movement. With a kick to the head, the undead body part rolled back down the hall, glowing in the darkness. As he watched the head continue its roll, the monk thought the battle was over.

Feeling a sharp pain in his shoulder, Nimith dropped into a roll, flipping back to his feet at the end of the summersault. Before him, the zombie flailed its arms, hoping to connect with its prey. Observing the creature, Nimith knew it couldn't see without its head yet it still stood, it still hungered. Squatting to spring, the monk began thinking of a plan to defeat the creature; however, his eyes widened as the zombie's head reappeared on its shoulders, paralyzing Nimith with its evil green eyes once more.

Limping slowly but determinedly, the zombie reached out with its blood covered hand, dripping with the monk's blood from its digits. The hall seemed to have tilted slightly as the undead creature swung with its opposite claw. Slashing up with his katana, the zombie lost one of its weapons. The monk wasn't even close of being finished. Exploding into a blurring spin, Nimith brought his sword around and down, taking another arm. Spinning in a complete circle, the monk swung his blade once more, decapitating the creature again. But the zombie still remained standing, even with three of its limbs lying at their feet.

Falling into the insanity of it all, the monk cried out, hacking and slashing and beating and burning the creature, begging for it to remain dead and down. The assault continued for many minutes before the monk realized there was nothing on the floor. Scrambling back to his feet he moved his torch back and forth, wondering where the creature would strike next. Nothing but a stone tunnel greeted him and to his revelation, the hall was indeed at an angle but what truly surprised him was that the gravity wasn't commanding him to fall to the side wall. As the monk looked down to the tilted floor, he noticed that not just the body but the arms and the second head were missing as well.

Disturbed by everything that has just transpired, Nimith gently sat onto the floor while crossing his legs. Afterwards the monk placed the pommel of his katana and the butt of his torch on his hips. Taking in deep breaths he began humming, falling within himself. Everything seemed too strange, too maddening for him to handle. Within his meditation, Nimith knew he had to sort through his experiences with logic or he would indeed lose his mind. First he thought of the undead creature as nothing more than a hidden foe that did not exist, except in his mind and the pain in his shoulder as nothing but the sting of the dark liquid that fell on him when he triggered some sort of trap. Next he felt that the shift in gravity as a trick of light and the deep darkness that has been confusing his eyes.

Opening his eyes, Nimith breathed a sigh of relief as the tunnel was realigned. The stinging continued to annoy him, so the monk reached back and touched his burn. However he froze as he felt moisture and his fear became apprehend when he brought back his hand and saw his own blood on his fingers. Instead of figuring out what has transpired, Nimith decided that ignorance was bliss and continued on.

A few paces later, the dark hall forked left and right. As the dominate hand was always viewed as the correct path to enlightenment and the opposite was viewed as a sign of evil, Nimith moved down the right hall. The hall was long but Nimith felt that the tunnel wasn't truly straight, as if it was bowing to the left. Before he could examine his observation, a scurrying on the floor caught his attention.

Crawling in the light a small and fleshy creature moved forward a few more inches before it turned around and started back to the bowels from which it came. The miniature head was coned shape and had no eyes but the second the monk took a step, the creature lifted up one of its red members while crying out in… in… what? It was obvious that the creature could not see yet it could hear without ears and shriek without a mouth. Keeping his ground and tightening his muscles, Nimith held steady, becoming rigid like a statue. Many heartbeats later and without any further sounds coming from the monk, the creature lowered its limb and went back to its senseless pacing.

Back and forth the creature moved in a simple tempo in rhythm that matched the monk's heartbeat. After it entered the light for a fifth time, Nimith made his move, throwing his torch at the creature and jumping in a back flip to get some distance. An inhumanly cry came, followed shortly by a clattering sound. The only sound remaining was that of a crackling fire from the torch.

He sensed that he didn't want to get close to it, as if someone was watching over him. Inch by inch the monk moved towards his torch. A nervous chuckle from Nimith came the moment he reclaimed his torch yet there was no creature nor any signs that it even exist. He truly felt he was losing his mind in the darkness. Never had he imagine that he would lose himself in his own mind. Still, he continued on, knowing that he was already losing a grip on reality.

The hall ended abruptly as a four foot, golden statue of Buddha rested on a pedestal surrounded in a cubby by candles that were lit. The fact that the candles were aflame brought an immediate suspicion to the monk. Someone must have been down here and left before he began his descent but how high the candles were made Nimith doubt that someone lit them before he came down the stairs. Losing his focus on the candles, Nimith's eyes raised to a lever above the statue.

Without a moment of hesitation, the monk pulled the lever down. A sound from behind had him spinning on his heels and thrusting his torch ahead. Nothing was there. The sound of gears turning echoed from once he came and ended as abruptly as it began.

Taking a deep breath, Nimith hummed a calming chant, relaxing his nerves. After a few moments, the monk felt more at ease. Gazing at his true idol and ideals, he knew that Buddha was guiding him. As custom, Nimith rubbed the statue's belly, hoping he would receive better fortune. Within a blink of an eye, the statue jumped from its pedestal, smashing its stomach into the skull of the monk. A fiery pain soon followed as Nimith's head couldn't withstand the weight and force of the golden statue as his head exploded, painting the walls with blood and the gray matter of his brains.

In a flash, Nimith fell to the stone floor, screaming in terror of the very real vision. The statue remained firm and unmoving from where it sat on the podium. Sweat beaded down the monk's face as he staggered away from the idol. The darkness surrounded him even more as the torchlight dimmed.

"Th—this can't be happening!" Nimith denied, scrambling back and away from the golden statue that he swore would kill him.

As fast as his feet could move, Nimith fled back down the tunnel and around the bend, heading the opposite direction in the fork. In his flight the monk completely ignored the direction of which he was going, right into the chest of a large abomination. The beast stood as tall as the eight foot hall and equally as wide across its shoulders. It had not one head but three and every one turned their gaze at the monk, skewing his hold on reality.

With a roar, the beast swung one of its huge, long claws at the monk, slashing a deep gash across Nimith's chest. The claw forced Nimith to the floor, writhing in anguish and making him into an easy kill. With another roar and spreading its arms wide, a bolt of blue lightning appeared and headed straight for poor Nimith. Nimith waited until the last second before flipping to his feet and bringing his katana down to remove one of its weapons like he did to the zombie. But a feeling warned him of that course of action and that the key to victory was that of its heads. Reversing his angle, Nimith swung his blade up to the right head and cleanly lopped the head off. Following through with an arch, the katana came down on the left head, cutting the beast's face in half.

The creature roared again but it was far shallower without its other heads. Swinging another claw at Nimith, the monk sucked in his gut and hopped a little way from the creature, having the limb hit air. Trusting in his instincts rather than his fighting prowess, Nimith leapt forward, katana leading. Dead center, the blade slid tight between the creature's face all the way to the hilt. Releasing the blade and jumping back, the monk watch the creature collapse in front of him, vanishing in a dark blue glow before his very eyes. Only Nimith's katana remained.

Taking another moment to relax, Nimith stood and pondered why these creatures, very real indeed, have never been recorded or why they vanish after they were destroyed. Soon after thinking briefly about the creatures, the monk moved onto more pressing matters, that of staunching his bleeding. Removing his shredded cloth shirt he began tearing the shirt to a long single stain, which he quickly wrapped around his chest tightly. Tired and weathered, Nimith gingerly retrieved his blade and sheathed it before he could press his hand hard against his wound.

Nimith continued on, though he forgot that he was not heading to safety but to another Buddha statue and another lever above it. His torchlight dimmed even more, keeping the monk from seeing the walls in the tunnel that bled before him. Fear kept the monk in place. However, his fears of the statue were hollow to the terror that began to wrap itself around his heart as the oil on his torch was running out. A feeling of dread shook the monk dearly, like the darkness itself was coming for him.

Crying out as he felt the torch was betraying him; Nimith slammed the torch against the lever. A sound of gears from behind had him turning. Fleeing back down the hall, the monk prayed and hard, that he would be able to escape before the torch went out. His flight slowed to a walk and then to a halt as the fork in the hall came a light from an opening in the middle of the fork. Nimith then turned his attention to his torch that finally went out. With a shrug, the monk dropped the torch and walked to the opening.

How quickly his eyes widen and even more swiftly the monk dived to the opposite side of the entrance. He only had a glance but it was long enough to have seen a beast of phenomenal proportions. The room was round with the beast in it that had to be twenty feet in diameter and thirty feet high made of nothing but flesh, eyes, and many, many mouths. Deep in these bowels, the monk realized that his people were hiding this beast. But why and for what purpose?

Nimith, you have come, a voice called.

The monk knew he should have ran, even in the darkness but the voice seemed familiar. In his meditation, the voice came to him in his mind and only then did he notice it was still speaking to him in his psyche. Glancing back into the room where the monster laid, the monk saw the creature was one with the floor and couldn't move. Nimith rested his head on the cool stone, watching the creature attentively.

Nimith, you needn't be afraid of me, the voice spoke.

The voice was deep and eerily demonic, yet Nimith didn't believe it meant him any harm. With the insanity of all the dark creatures he fought, he shouldn't have been surprised that the beast was intelligent and able to speak directly into him, however, the sheer size and alien form kept him stationary. Instead of moving towards the beast, Nimith spoke at it.

"What are you?" Nimith asked while failing to keep himself from stuttering.

I am beyond your comprehension; the creature paused to blink all of its eyes, telling Nimith that the voice and the creature were one in the same. Your kind has bestowed upon me the title "god."

"A god you say?" Nimith accused while walking into the entranceway. "You don't seem that of the spirit but that of flesh and bone."

Indeed, I am not. Your kind has a difficult time understanding things that are far beyond them. Gods, when your kind was even younger then they are today; saw me as a being of great power. Yes, I have powers unique to you. You would call it magick, yet it is not and to explain my powers in more complicated terms than magick would warp your mind. I have seen many a years, billions perhaps, and in my everlasting life my wisdom was, is, absolute. With my knowledge, immortality and magick, your kind has always and will always view me as a deity of a higher plane.

"An intriguing argument and a sound one at that," Nimith said without noticing that his feet were slowly carrying him closer to the beast.

Ah, I see. Your kind is still too young.

"Enough!" Nimith bellowed, stopping his movements. Pointing an accusing finger at the beast the monk continued. "You say my 'kind' this and that. I ask you who you are and you say a god. What are you?"

Nimith, calm yourself and your mind. You've never asked me who I am but already you asked what I am. Indeed, your kind, humanity, is such an ignorant race. In simple terms that you can grasp, I am one of a long forgotten race known as the "Ancients" whom lived on this world long before your kind was born. As far as a name, I have had many. Your kind latest name to me is Buddha but my true name is Mantorok.

"Buddha? What do you take me for? You are not—"

I am so Buddha as well as the founder of the belief of internal peace and balance in the world. I govern over the imprisonment of the gods, the Ancients, by keeping each of them weakened by the other. Your kind cannot believe what they cannot understand even if they see things before their own eyes. The elders of your religion decreed that I would be in the form of the statue in front of you.

If the beast would've blinked at that very moment, it would've seemed as if Nimith just disappeared from where he was standing and appeared the next on the floor. Shock as he was that he entered the room wasn't as appalling as to see a Buddha statue on a pedestal right beside him. Flipping to his feet, Nimith ran from the statue and down the short steps, right into the beast's presences. Confusion took over and the monk knew not where to go. The raw aura that emanated off the beast terrified the poor monk. He remained petrified before the beast that called itself Buddha.

"Mantorok… Narokath... Santak," a deep voice spoke aloud. Paralyzed by seeing the creature, Nimith never noticed a triangle of runes surrounding him. Once the spell was completed, Nimith felt his wounds beginning to stitch together while the skewing of reality began coming into focus.

Nimith, you have managed to hear my call. Do not let the darkness consume you. You are stronger than this.

Deep breaths from the monk followed after Nimith hear those words of encouragement. With his eyes closed, the monk fell into himself, falling into his calming meditative trace. Creatures like the ones he fought did not belong in his world and so once defeated, they must vanish back to their own world. That made sense, some at least. As far as the statue, it had to be a trick of his temporary delirium. Finally, before coming out of his meditation, Nimith believed this Ancient meant him no harm. If the creature wanted him dead it could've done so already.

Opening his eyes, the monk stared at the Ancient in a more understanding light. The monk believed this creature spoke truly about being the foundation to his religion and way of life. However, he was uncomfortable that he felt a presence in his mind, as if the Ancient was prying open and reading his thoughts. Indeed, it was.

I am Buddha, how else could I contact you. I've taught the art of meditation to your kind so I may call upon them. Nevertheless, the conversion from Buddhism to Hinduism, I was unable to summon anyone for a long time. For your kind, it is fortunate that you have kept heart in your beliefs.

Feeling of a mental barrier being built one brick after another in the mortal's mind, the Ancient withdrew to Nimith's upper psyche to only speak to him through telepathy. After the intruding sensation passed, Nimith removed his crude tunicate, tossing his bloody cloth to the floor. Too many questions still swirled in the monk and he was determined to get some answers.

"Summon? Why would a creature, like yourself, need to summon anyone? I am only a mere 'mortal,'" Nimith questioned with a humble bow.

I have already said that I govern over my race's imprisonment, the Ancients. For countless centuries they've been securely locked away, however, fifty years ago a mortal came across an Ancient artifact and now he serves that very Ancient. Even incarcerated, an Ancient holds great powers and now the Ancient has a conduit to this word through that mortal whom awoken it. The Ancient must not walk this earth, so I devised a plan to keep them in check. With your kind, I have prepared a counterattack against any Ancient's escape. Behold!

The room began to shake at its very foundation, causing the stone ceiling to rain dirt and pebbled down upon the two. A long tentacle, barbed at the tips, shot out of the floor and burrowed itself into the red flesh of the beast. As quickly as it entered, the tentacle recoiled, dropping a still beating heart before the monk. Nimith watched it all in awe and even more dumbstruck as the wound healed itself and the beast was still alive. Staring from the beast to the heart and back again, Nimith was lost in this "plan" the Ancient had.

Nimith, if not for your devotion I would not have a mortal that could protect one of my hearts. My essence will be essential for the final battle that I have foreseen but I need your help. I know not what this other mortal's motives are but I need you to guard my heart.

With a nod, Nimith bent over and took the artifact in hand. Big mistake. The very moment his flesh touched the all powerful object, a purple bolt of lightning engulfed his entire body. How he cried out in anguish, as his body began to reform. Staring at his hands, which they were now highlighted by a purple light coming from his eyes, Nimith yelled even louder as his once dark skin shrunk and prune before him, turning into a leathery substance. It began from his limbs and slowly around until his entire body became a husk of flesh. The color in the room darkened, as his irises and pupils melded with his whites of his eyes.

"Why?" the monk cried, "What did you do to me?"

ENOUGH OF YOUR WHINING, the Ancient bellowed in the monk's mind. Though the force itself could have killed him, Nimith only received a minor headache from the call. Then again, Nimith would've welcome death over the life he knew he had now.

"I would have agreed to guard it with my life but I did not ask for this!" the monk yelled back, tempting the creature to destroy him. However, the Ancient was already aware of the mortal's plight and would not be coaxed into anything a mortal would want.

Foolish man, this is more than you. Instead of thinking about your own comfort, think about your entire race! The mortal, who is our enemy, has become more than what he once was like you are now. You would've died in a decade, if you were lucky. Understand, there is no one else and I need you to guard the artifact for as long as possible and a decade is not even close to the amount of time needed.

Nimith took several deep breaths to steady himself but his fears of being the walking dead was realized when he didn't feel air entering his body. Air he didn't need. Instead of panicking though, Nimith stood straighter and nodded to the Ancient. The monk knew through his beliefs that nothing can last forever, and that included him. He would take on this task as guardian for humanity with grace.

Before Nimith could pick back up the heart, the room quaked again. Another tentacle flashed out, dropping a leathery bound book in front of the monk. Nimith quickly pocketed the artifact but tenderly, with shaking hands, lifted the book from the floor. The book appeared to be well decorated with some sort of leather that the color looked odd. Nimith wasn't sure what animal that could be cured to make such a color in the leather. The front had a seal which resembled a spine and five skulls eating one another. Before the monk could open the book, a call came to his mind.

No, do not open that tome. I've created that tool to help your kind against the darkness. I call it the Tome of Eternal Darkness. It is not for our eyes but for the living man. Send the tome from here.

With a nod, Nimith concurred with the Ancient. He would send the book away from here but once that was accomplish would he then return to the Ancient side. Nimith planned on keeping an eye on this creature that founded Buddhism and to see who this other mortal that was a traitor to his own race.

875 years later

A.D. 899 – Cambodia

For several centuries, the monk placed himself into a deep slumber, only awakening to serve his god, which was far and in between, or when something stressed out Buddha. Only once had Buddha been stressed during Nimith's sleep and that was when the Hindus found the Ancient's home. Tearing apart the Buddha statues, the Hindu's erected statues of Kali in their place. It wasn't long after that, a decade perhaps, when Nimith knew that his mortal enemy would get wind of the location of Buddha, or Mantorok as his true namesake, so he laid in wait.

Stirring from his sleep, Nimith felt panic in his god's mind. Outside the secret cubby he rested in, something powerful was happening. Magick. Sliding his eye slit open, he looked out from his compartment, thirty feet up and over the southern upraise where he had the best vantage of the chamber. A huge circle of rune—glowing green on the floor—began encasing itself around the powerful Ancient.

"Xel'lotath… Pargon… Pargon… Bankorok… Pargon… Pargon… Aretak… Pargon… Pargon!" a feminine voice called out as each rune brightened on the floor.

As the last word was spoken, Nimith grabbed his skull and began banging his head against the wall. Jumble of words in incomplete sentences assaulted his mind, flooding his thoughts with that of his lord's knowledge. Perhaps it was insanity or perhaps the knowledge of gods was almost too much for the simple monk to handle. But before he could escape his cubby, an echo from within his mind held him in place.

Nimith, do not come out.

Focusing his thoughts on those words, Nimith watched as a second circle of runes, this time glowing red, looped around the Ancient and within the first circle. This time the words sounded deep and demonic, as if the bowels of hell were speaking.

"Chattur'gha… Pargon… Pargon… Bankorok… Pargon… Pargon… Aretak… Pargon… Pargon." How the monk wanted to cry out or stop the attack against his lord but all Nimith could do was grab his knees close to his chest and rock back and forth. The moment the spell completed the room shook out of control but Nimith barely felt a tremor. A third circle of runes appeared within the second, glowing a gentle blue.

"Ulyaoth… Pargon… Pargon… Bankorok… Pargon… Pargon… Aretak… Pargon… Pargon," another masculine voice spoke after each rune.

As the last syllable was spoken, everything became silent. At least in Nimith's mind. Not Mantorok's thoughts nor emotions could be heard within the monk. How utterly alone did he felt then, small to whomever attacked his lord. Quivering in dread the monk tried peering down the main hall that lead into the room. A figure stepped out of the shadows.

It was difficult for Nimith to make out the person with his darkened vision but through the years, the monk learned how to adapt to the flaw. The figure was tall and his skin was as shriveled and dry like Nimith's. He appeared to wear an old Romanian armor that the metal has been painted black and plumed headgear. Walking just a footstep from the runes that seemed to be slowly fading, the undead man held a tall staff in his right hand and another artifact in the other. It was too dark, Nimith couldn't make out the object but he knew this had to be the traitor.

"Ah, Mantorok, we finally meet. My master has been quite worried about your interference. As you can tell, I've bound your sanity with the power of Xel'lotath to keep you bewildered of my presences. Knowing that it wouldn't be long before you panicked, I hindered your thrashing body and those dangerous tentacles of yours with the powers of Chattur'gha to this room. Finally, if you had any chance of calling for help it's gone after I silenced your mind completely from the outside world with the power of Ulyaoth. Know me, Mantorok, for I, Pious Augustus has sealed your fate in these catacombs you created," the undead lich mocked whist walking away with a huge grin painted on his face.

Shutting the slit to his cubby, the monk continued his rocking while holding tightly onto the heart of his god. In his hole he wanted, perhaps hours or years, until the monk felt confident that the lich was gone. Opening his exit, Nimith leapt from his home and landed with a sickening crack. The sharp pain hit the monk hard as he hasn't felt anything in centuries. To Nimith, it seemed the second his lord was bound was the moment his magick on the monk was completely severed.

Nimith should have thought longer on the repercussion of what could happen to him but none of it mattered to him. Limping to the Ancient, the monk watched helplessly, as the creature was spasm through its hysteria. Its once controlled blinking all of its eyes at once began blinking one after another and some of the eyes were twitching. Looking at each of its mouths, Nimith noticed some were in taking shallow breaths while others were taking in deep breaths and more than one mouth seemed as if they were chewing air. The monk's eyes went up where he saw another mouth on top of his lord, one of which he's never seen before. Though Mantorok's tentacles flew about erratically Nimith didn't fear his god.

"My lord Buddha, I am truly sorry for what has happened and that I could do nothing to stop it," the monk apologized while placing a comforting hand on the creature's flesh. "But I swear to you, I will continue to guard your heart. I will complete the plan you started. Pious Augustus will not win!"

251 years later

A.D. 1150—Cambodia

"Find the monk. He holds the artifact, I know he does," came a voice from above the hidden floor.

Ever since Mantorok's binding, Nimith has moved into hiding. From shadow to shadow, Nimith struck, creating many dead ends and extremely dangerous traps, anything he could think of to be a thorn in Pious's side. But the last hundred years, the power that kept his form has been like hell to the monk, as if he lived his whole life as a ninety-year-old man with a painful limp. Indeed, his life been like so. How tired he grew every passing day but he held faith.

Hearing Pious's footsteps, followed shortly by his men, Nimith knew it was time to move again. Lifting the trapped floor, the monk dropped back down as another figure was heading towards him. As expected, the person moved right over his compartment and continued down the hall. Lifting the board back up, Nimith saw the back of a beautiful, dark skinned Cambodian woman who tipped-toed through his triggers to his traps on the floor. Normally he wouldn't pay her much heed until he saw a large book neatly tucked under her left arm. Almost jumping straight out of his hole, the monk couldn't believe that she was holding the Tome of Eternal Darkness. The tome has returned home.

Shadowing the woman, the monk grew more admiration for her for she avoided one after the other of his traps and defeated every zombie in her path that always seem to appear whenever Pious was around. He knew that this couldn't be a coincidence.

Before the monk could follow the woman, who seemed to be a dancer in the clothing she wore, any further, some sounds from behind had Nimith diving for cover. Turning a rock on a wall, one of Nimith's hidden cubbies opened behind a huge tapestry depicting a demonic war. In the monk went, leaving Pious and his two men alone in the room. Nimith cursed himself for hiding but he knew he was no match for the lich.

Beyond the tapestry, Nimith heard an ever familiar cry of terror from which he could only guess to be Pious's lackeys. Pressing his ear against the hidden door, the monk only heard a muffled voice, sounding like Pious having another one of his taunts with Mantorok. Lately, anyone whom came before the Lord of Balance, now called the Dead God or Corpse God, were eaten, for Mantorok had to find a new way to regain any strength he lost the day Pious shown himself in Cambodia. Nimith had been around over a millennium and in such a short time compare to the eons the Ancients has seen, the monk heard Mantorok be called four other names after Buddha. His thoughts came back to the now, where he no longer hear Pious speaking yet he heard a female cry out in pain.

Opening his hidden door, the monk moved as swiftly as his limp could carry him into the chamber of Mantorok. At his feet laid the belly dancer, no more than a slave but seeing her through his darkened eyes, she shone in a bright golden halo. Even the ever purple glowing heart was reacting to the light of the woman. The tome, the light, it all made sense to Nimith.

"You are one of the chosen many, flesh and blood," Nimith began lifting the poor girl off the ground and laying her gently on some steps leading to a Kali statue. Long ago, Mantorok spoke that the Tome of Eternal Darkness belonged only to the living man and not to one of his condition. She was indeed the one.

"It is now your destiny to fight the Eternal Darkness," Nimith paused to retrieve the artifact. "I give you a gift for your obligation. The gift is your life, sweet dancer. The obligation is this."

Gently the monk handed the still beating heart to the woman. She seemed scared and confused, not unlike the monk at the beginning. Still, she accepted the heart without complaint. The monk felt guilty for what he must do but he also knew this had to be done.

"You hold one of Mantorok's hearts—the essence of the Corpse God! To some it is a source of great power. From these people, you must defend it, lest they use it to destroy what little brightens your world has left in it…" Nimith trailed off as the artifact burrowed itself into the unsuspecting woman's chest. A cry followed but it was brief.

"Guard it well," Nimith finished and then limped away and around the Ancient, leaving the woman to her own devises.

The monk held strong to his beliefs and those beliefs told him that what he did was right. He knew he had to be strong and forceful, for him and the woman but a twang of guilt continued to pluck his heartstrings. Shaking off that feeling, Nimith knew it was done and couldn't be undone. Coming before his god, the monk dropped to his knees.

"My lord Buddha, your will be done. The chosen one has accepted her fate and Pious will never find your essence now. I—" the monk's final words came out as gurgles as a huge tentacle exploded through his chest.

That moment of betrayal snapped the monk out of his long educed trace that Mantorok placed in him long ago when the Ancient healed his wounds. The monk was slowly lifted up and then Nimith realized that his service was founded on lies. The Ancient told him what he wanted to hear and not the facts of his true beliefs. He was manipulated by yet another false idol and up to Mantorok's mouth he went. Only then did Nimith know that the Buddha statues were a warning and that his religion may have crossed over to Hinduism to protect themselves against Mantorok. As the razor sharp teeth torn into the monk's flesh and bone, Nimith didn't, wouldn't scream. Though Mantorok manipulated him, Nimith held no regrets, if the Ancient's plan really would save humanity. As far as his fate in the next world, that is not for us to know.