Ceaseless

I was born three times into this world. Once to fog and cloud, when the world was unformed and still hollow. Once again to fire, deep in the bowels of earth, where upon awakening to a blazing flame a soul invaded my cold shell. Once again into chaos, whence my flesh was altered into the form I wear today, demon flame issuing from the cracks in my husk, writhing tendrils, and the pain, ceaseless.

Upon the first awakening thick fog shrouded the land and gave me a sense of peace. I have distinct memories, forms drifting in and out of vision through the mists, at times materializing into recognizable shapes. Great trees extending up to the roof of the world. Crags and hills undefined, indistinguishable from each other. And people. All manner of people. They came and went in the fog wandering, seeking, but whatever it was I knew not. Some seemed to be seeking one another, and the joyous chorus of reunions through the fog would often reach my ears. Others seemed lost and wandered with wild eyes and fear on their face. Whatever they were, they never seemed to be interested in me. As they materialized from the fog I would often receive a glance, even a nod, and just as quickly they would disappear again. Of course, I was too shy to say anything, to call out to them. It wasn't because I was afraid. I just simply didn't know what to say. It seemed not many of those strange forms knew what to say, that is until they found whomever or whatever they were searching for in the endless mist.

I would whisper though, as often to the others as to myself. I would walk through the fog predicting what would appear before me next. I would imagine forms with six arms, or no face, great grotesque hulks, or slithering husks. Sometimes I would imagine I found someone I knew, and we would have our own reunion like the ones that often broke the peaceful silence. Whispering to myself in the fog I felt like the only person in the world of cognizance, the progenitor of all things. That is until the black robed woman came to find me.

I remember looking up to see her and thinking that this was the reunion I was meant to have. But no feelings of joy came to me, no shout of elation. I simply knew that this was meant to be. She looked down at me, for than I was much smaller than her. A hood covered the crown of her head and fell down over her eyes. Black robes draped over a gaunt frame, drowning her in cloth. Black robes hemmed with gold embroidering, and I wondered how she came upon such clothes. Every other form I had met was naked like me. From beneath the hood she smiled and spoke, the first true words I ever heard.

"My son…"

In a moment I was flushed, warmth not wholly welcome rising from my feet to my belly, to my hands and up through my head. My instinct was to run, and yet I could not lift a foot, the warmth held me firmly in place, to my great horror. I could tell she sensed the anguish I was in, for her smile became mirth, and widened.

"When you wake again you will feel warmth as this, but it will be your own, and you will know what it means to walk this world with purpose. You will feel strong, intense power. The words I am speaking you will be able to speak, not just understand. And I will find you again. Just wait. Be patient and wait."

A flash appeared at the hem of her robe, a glint of metal. Before I had time to react her arm lunged toward me, something metallic and warm piercing my hollow husk of flesh, the blade sinking in enough to bleed me but not enough to kill. The blade retracted. I sank to my knees clutching the wound at my neck. Dark liquid ran down my naked frame and pooled where I knelt, casting a murky reflection back at me, and I was aware of my soulless eyes. I looked up but she was gone. And from the fog came blackness, spreading across my vision until it overtook me, and I fell asleep.

When I awoke I was before a flame. The first flame I had ever laid eyes upon. A blazing roaring hearth so great that it rose to the ceiling of the chamber I found myself in, and issued from a chasm too deep to fathom. Embers danced in my vision like nothing I had ever seen before, the first semblance of grace and beauty. As I looked upon the flame I felt life deep inside. It was warmth, as I had felt when first talking to the hooded woman. An answer to the cold of the fog. Warmth, and also restlessness, earnestness, desire. I found myself wishing I could feel more.

Others seemed to be waking amongst the flame as well. To my right I saw many forms, some bowing, some standing staring wide-eyed, enraptured by the blaze. Others to my left gathered as such. No one however seemed to wish to touch the flame. Indeed I myself felt great fear even as I lay so close. I dared not stand, the presence of it was so great, and like nothing I had ever seen before. Fire was an object so foreign from the fog of my previous life. I never imagined it could exist, and indeed seeing it then, upon my second waking into the world, despite its warmth, I feared it more than anything I had ever seen before. And I wasn't the only one. I do not know how long the crowd hesitated before the flame, unsure whether to run, whether to even turn away. One form however, eventually stepped forward from the multitude.

He was a towering figure, broad in shoulder and chest. He appeared livelier than the other forms I saw, healthier, and strode forward with purpose. He walked up to the flame with outstretched hand. The flame, in response, extended a tendril of fire, what I came to know later was an invitation to receive its power.

A white wraith, formless as the tendrils of the flame, protruded from the advancing fire. To the man's outstretched hand the wraith began to curl, twisting and twisting until it had extended up the length of his arm. If the man felt fear, it did not betray his figure. Indeed, against the gigantic flame so daunting, he appeared regal and brave, even as the white wraith ascended his body and halted level with his eyes. Amongst the crowd there was not a whisper, no sound in the cavern but the roar of the flame, and the man stood, and the wraith held. I wish I could have seen how he looked into the wraith then. Eyes of hollow blackness, yet so determined, so driven by an unseen force. Whatever power that lay within that man, I know now that is what drew the wraith to him out of the fire. The wraith that would enter and bond with him, lending him its power; that would transform him into the terrible leader of gods.