Chapter Ten

NIMBUS

 

Of all the captives on Nocturne, Nimbus was the most dangerous. Why? Because he was incredibly patient. He settled scores without exception and didn’t care how long it took, enjoying the anticipation of vengeance almost as much as executing it. His dream was to hold ultimate power over all the riffraff of Nocturne, and for thousands of years, he had made a daily pilgrimage to the Tear where he would dream and scheme about how to achieve it. Taking up his post, crouched on the edge of the Tear, he would groom his silky black coat as he lustfully gazed at the world below. Occasionally he walked over the membrane that separated him from his prize, his razor sharp claws leaving not so much as a scratch.

Like all Sharvan, Nimbus had powers that enabled him to manipulate light and sound. Before the world of Nocturne had been sealed, Nimbus and his fellow Sharvan had used these abilities to entertain the other races. After the rebellion, they employed them to carry out their devious schemes.

The story of the rebellion and sealing of Nocturne is a tragic one, as is the deception of Melkaz.

Before Nocturne had been sealed up, Nimbus had known God quite well. Not that they spent every day together or anything like that, it was more of a casual relationship.

Over this period, Nimbus and his fellow Nocturnites had developed a healthy respect for God, but not quite healthy enough as it turned out. We’ll explore the resulting catastrophe of their stupidity, later in the story.

When they stepped completely out of line, God took away their liberty and sealed them into their once pristine world. He did this not so much as a punishment, but more to stop their rancid stupidity spreading to His other worlds. After being closed in, the inhabitants of Nocturne promptly trashed the planet, leaving it in its current unpleasant state. So thorough was their destruction that they even managed to wipe out all food sources except one. A large slug-like creature called a Silth.

Silths were descended from a single mutant leech whose ancestors had once dwelt in the swamps of Nocturne. These parasites fed on the stems of reeds and other plants by burying their heads deep inside the stem and feeding on the sap. They injected a hormone into the plant that increased the plant’s sap production, allowing the leech to gorge and grow rapidly. Once the plant started to die, (and they always did), the leech would detach itself from its mouthparts, leaving them embedded in the dead plant before frantically injecting eggs into the base of other reeds and plants, until it ran out of steam and died. Its very last death throw detached the egg filled sack and left it floating in the swamp. If it weren’t found, the bag would rupture after a few days, and the eggs would hatch. Those that weren’t gobbled up by other swamp dwellers attached themselves to a plant and started the cycle all over again. Sacks of Leech eggs were a delicacy and were greatly sought after by all the swamp dwellers of Nocturne. Not only were they delicious, but they were also nutritious. A few hundred eggs (each the size of a small pea) would satisfy the appetite of a fully grown Sharvan for many days.

After the rebellion, all the races went on a massive destructive rampage. It took them nearly 700 years, but eventually they razed the planet until all that was left was dust, ashes and enough preserved food to sustain them for approximately 3 more years.

When all the reeds and other plants of the swamps had been destroyed, most of the leeches starved to death, unable to adapt to another food source. But one or two did and learned to feed on the dead and dying inhabitants of the swamp. Eventually, this food resource was exhausted, leaving only leeches, who by sheer necessity began to feed on one another, until there was only one left. The last remaining parasite had mutated into a huge ugly creature that bore little resemblance to his deceased ancestors.

So, Nocturne became an empty, barren desert, devoid of all animal life except for one very ravenous Silth.

Why had the races on Nocturne gone on a crazy, self-destructive bender? Because they thought God was as stupid as they are, and that they would:-

  1. Thoroughly annoy God and teach Him a lesson.
  2. Get the sympathy vote and force Him to remove the seal when he saw their now desperate situation.

I know what you’re thinking, but they thought it sounded like a good idea at the time.

I also imagine you have probably already guessed the result. But just in case you haven’t, it was an unmitigated disaster. Instead of being annoyed, God was merely bemused. And rather than forcing Him to remove the seal, they merely confirmed His wisdom in keeping it intact.

This left them with only one option. Panic. Three years of food is a drop in the ocean when you live forever. Their worry increased in direct proportion to the decrease in their food supply.

In desperation they searched Nocturne, frantically hoping they hadn’t destroyed every single food source. But they had been very successful, and the cupboard was bare. Except for the Silth.

While a Sharvan by the name of Xiety was searching the burnt over sludge of a swamp, the last Silth attached itself firmly to the back of his neck. His fellow searchers thought it was a great joke and enjoyed his discomfort immensely. Watching him roll around in the mud, screaming at the top of his lungs, was so entertaining that they abandoned their search for the day, and stood around placing bets on how long it would take him to remove the Silth. Several hours later the silth was still attached. Bored, they left him to his predicament and returned to their village to tell others of the fun they had witnessed.

Xiety eventually limped back to the village, encrusted in stinking mud with the Silth firmly attached, much to the continued amusement of his companions. He spent the next few days begging and pleading to get the thing off him. Eventually, they got so sick of his moaning, that Zarvon (Xiety’s supposedly best friend), seized the Silth with both his claws and gave it an enormous yank. Xiety let out a blood-curdling scream, making Zarvon fall backwards, smacking his head on the edge of a table, much to the delight of everyone. From then on, Xiety refused to let anyone touch the Silth.

The growth hormone that the leeches injected into plants had mutated in the Silth, and as it was squirted into Xiety’s spine, he became less aware of the parasite, until eventually, he forgot it was there. As the Silth grew bigger and bigger, Xiety became thinner and thinner until it almost touched the ground. Finally, Xiety lost the ability to eat or speak, becoming permanently comatose. Out of food, the Silth detached itself from his neck and spent the next several hours slithering around the village injecting eggs into the necks of several of the sleeping villagers. Not long after, it expired, leaving an inheritance of a huge egg sack filled with thousands of eggs.

Nocturne was down to 8 months of food reserves, so out of both perverse curiosity and impending necessity, they split open the sack to see if the eggs were edible. They were, and very pleasing on the palate.

Being consummate gluttons, and short-sighted one at that, they almost scoffed the lot. Only a few dozen eggs escaped the feeding frenzy by falling into the dust. These eggs hatched a few days later, and tiny Silth emerged, slithering around the village as they sought out fresh necks. After infecting another 3 villagers, the rest of the Silth (approximately 40) were captured and placed in clay jars. Capable of some intelligence (as twisted as it is) the Sharvan hatched a plan, and ferried the captive Silth to a neighbouring village, releasing them while the locals were asleep.

Those Sharvan who had been injected by the first Silth, now had its offspring hanging from their necks. This caused great anticipation in their fellow villagers, who had acquired a ravenous desire for the highly addictive eggs.

Despite being emaciated and in a permanently comatose state, Xiety was still drawing breath. The Sharvan are not a particularly empathetic race, and they can at times be quite practical. A Sharvan by the name of Zelvor decided that Xiety’s no longer had need of his hut, so promptly evicted his cataleptic body, dumping it unceremoniously on the edge of the village square. After a week or two, Xiety started to go mouldy, emitting an unpleasant smell. They solved the problem by abandoning him in a large cave about a league west of the village.

I won’t insult you by boring you with the details of what happened over the next few years. Needless to say, news of the new food source spread rapidly amongst the various races, as did their addiction to Silth eggs. As they sneakily infected one another, the cave to the west became so full of spent Nocturnites, that others had to be found.

As the caves filled up, the number of potential, Silth victims decreased. This caused panic set in once again, which is why Nimbus had become so obsessed with the Tear in the Sky and the World beneath. They needed new victims and fast.

To say that Nimbus was excited when he first saw Melkaz beneath the Tear would be the understatement of the universes. You see, in between trashing the planet, committing general treachery, and becoming completely addicted to Silth eggs, Nimbus came up with the following theory.

  1. God leaves you alone, as long as you don’t abuse his creation.
  2. Step out of line, and the consequences are dire.
  3. God is very thorough, so there is no hope of ever piercing the Tear from the World of Nocturne.
  4. As far as Nimbus was aware, those in the world below the Tear were still on good terms with God. And not being a meddler, perhaps God had left the choice of coming up to Nocturne pretty much over to them. Why else had He left the Tear there in the first place?
  5. If he could entice one of the inhabitants up to Nocturne, that should in theory both breach the tear and give them access to the world ripe with potential Silth victims. Nimbus was keen to take up farming.
  6. Nimbus had absolutely no idea if any of this was true, but he had no other options.

 

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