Chapter 7: Worshippers of Ram

Anthony DeLapi, Staff Writer

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Before the arrival of Mortem, there was a great warrior. Its name was Ram. Ram, while the world was in chaos and greed, kept to its morals of honor and morality. When Mortem came, he sparred Ram, seeing it as a symbol for a better life in the future. Mortem would then command Ram, to seek out and destroy any sins or evil remaining in the land that Mortem decimated. Ram slain many beings, both normal and mutated, but it was always by a certain code of conduct, that matched Mortem’s ideals. Mortem honors Ram by forging this guideline, representing Ram’s personalities of effort, honor, respect, empathy, and courage. These Tablets are the very essence of Ram and will bring be a guide for the future generations.

-The Tablets of Ram.

Xenon went deeper into the black abyss leading to the lair of the Overlevas. It was still silent, as if something captured all the sound in this realm and locked it in an unreachable container. It was also dark, darker than even the blackest of oils or starless night skies. There was also a bland yet cool smell in the dark tunnel, that covered everything in its scent.  Xenon couldn’t hear anything, see anything, or even smell anything. The only thing he could rely on was his hands and feet. He was always touching the tunnel’s walls, mapping out where he was going deeper down into the tunnel, and took the smallest and slowest steps as possible, in order to not get lost in this black realm.  

While he was walking, the irrational thoughts that have been beating him up mentally for the past weeks, have returned to whip him once more.  

“What is your problem? Why are you doing this? This is pointless. You have no purpose at all,” these thoughts would ring consistently inside Xenon’s head.  

Then the thoughts went away, and instead brought an overall feeling of anxiety and stress. It said nothing harsh or cruel, but it brought a stinging and cringy feeling to Xenon’s mind. This feeling had its grip over Xenon’s skull tight, like a snake to a mouse. And the worst part of all was that as Xenon went further down the tunnel, the painful feeling would increase in intensity. As if somehow this feeling was warning him not to go further. But Xenon pushed forward, because he knew that his mission now was more important than any strange feelings in his mind. Yet, he was still hurting from them though.  

Xenon soon lost track of time and didn’t know if he was in the tunnel for hours or days. The place he was in had no need for time, and it felt like some dragged out version of some mutilated purgatory. But then Xenon saw a small bright light, a beacon of hope in his eyes, at the end of the tunnel after a long time of walking careful down the descending stone shaft. As Xenon approached the light, he finally saw what this underworld looked like.  

As Xenon turned his head around the corner into the dim light, he saw giant stone pillars holding up some underground city. But these pillars looked different from others, for they looked melted and twisted at they held up the stone sky above the city. And the city itself was different. Xenon could see a resemblance of buildings and homes, but these structures were carved out of the very rock itself, and they were all connected in some way. An Overleva’s house was connected to another house, that then had a bridge leading to a what seemed like a market place. This pattern covered this entire rocky underworld, and on top of the stone ceiling, a great flame crackled and echoed throughout the quiet society, serving as possibly the sun for this realm. Millions of small holes covered the walls of the city, possibly more tunnels leading to the surface realm as the one Xenon took.  

Xenon then saw about thirty or so strange beings heading toward a large stone structure, with a gate the size of a house. These beings were tall, had broad shoulders, slim lower bodies, and wore black cloaks with masks what appeared to be the skulls of animals (such as a deer, a bear, a wolf, a crocodile, a baby elephant). These beings moved like shadows toward the gate, with their steps looking so light yet carrying tremendous power. Xenon heard them speak, and it sounded like the wind against trees, light, faint, but could become powerful at times. Xenon was not surprised that these beings were the Overlevas, and their appearances support the belief of their immediate terror. And as they walked through the gate, Xenon could see Zinc and Argon walking beside them, with Radon laying down on a small bed that the two Archers were carrying. 

Xenon was able to sneak down from the tunnel’s opening onto the city’s cold stone floor. He sneaked toward the large building and went through the gate. But as he went in, he saw the Overlevas all gathered together in the center of the building, with the Archers standing on the side. The building on the inside looked like some sort of church, with ancient murals and carvings covering the stone walls, long blood red rugs covering the floors, thousands of small candles set up all along the fences and tables of the building, a giant chandelier hanging on-top of the center of the room, and a ginormous wood-carved piano-organ lying on top of some steps from the center of the room. On the side of the room also, there was a life-sized statue of some knight. Xenon felt warmer in this Cathedral, to warm even, as if someone put a fire underneath the building. He found a tight small corner and crawled into it, in order to hear what the Overlevas were about to say, while he started to drip in sweat.  

A cloaked begin with the skull of what seemed to be a small dragon covering his head, crept into the very center of the cathedral. Xenon thought that this one was possibly the leader, but they all looked the same, so he wasn’t sure. Then the being spoke.  

“My brothers. Today we have the presence of the Archers, who bring a fatally injured one with them,” said the Dragon Skull. “My brothers. Today we shall save this Archer’s life, for all friends of Mortem deserve a second chance of life, and the Archers have become more than just friends. Some of you are skeptical of helping these outsiders, who would be filthy in the eyes of the lord, but my brothers here this. These Archers have done nothing but serve this life respectively and put it far above their needs than anything else. One can pray and meditate to a god, but a true soldier of the lord uses its teachings and wisdom to see the better changes to the world. The Archers have done all of this, and I’m sure we can all agree that we should help them?” Dragon Skull finished. The rest of the Overlevas hissed in response. 

“My brothers. The time has almost come. The time where true peace will be brought to this world once more. The Archers may have failed to acquire the Forbidden Texts, but there is still a chance for the Tablets of Ram. And while they failed, they still have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of Mortem. They head to the Holy City of Bakea, where Mortem and our ancestors met to see the creation of the Scrolls. And now these Scrolls are in the hands of rebellious sinners, who say they believe in Mortem but go against his first ever wishes and desires. The Archers and their armies will march to Bakea, and see the new world born, with the combined effort of both Scrolls. With the blessings of our faith, we will heal their brother, and send them out to finish their quest,” Dragon Skull echoed in its small yet booming voice. The Overlevas hissed again in agreement.  

The Dragon Skull stepped toward the side of room, which held the life-sized statue of the warrior. Xenon saw that this warrior wore large metal pieces of armor, and its helmet was in the shape of some sort of lion. The Dragon Skull bent to its knees, and the rest of the Overlevas bent as well, including the Archers on the side. 

“Ram, the protector of the world of life. Ram, the keeper of the realm of death. Please give us your blessings once more, let the dark days pass and let the bright days return. And as your loyal followers, we will not allow the mistakes of the past to be repeated. We, and only we, the Overlevas, will see this to be done. We have watched many empires rise and fall, and we let them fall if you saw their evil. Ram, we know you remember the Quill Dynasty. A Dynasty that lasted a thousand years, and that we the Overlevas watched over wisely. But when you saw the corrupt and dark ambitions of its rulers, we allowed it to crumble up and fall like the rest that tried to resurrect the world unjustly. The same can go for the Archers. We promise you, our lord, give us your blessing, and we will see to this kingdom leads the new world. Yet we promise you, our leader, that if the Archers break these ancient traditions, we will see to their demise, as we saw to many others that tried before. We thank you for all your efforts Ram. Your thoughts, your feelings, your purpose. Please, oh please Ram, give us your blessing once more,” Dragon Skull finished. 

 “To the end,” Dragon Skull said. 

“To the end,” the rest of the Overlevas and Archers said. Yet the Archers seemed a bit worried after the Dragon’s speech. Zinc had an overall feeling of uneasiness on his face, and Argon look wide-eyed to the statements said. Yet, they understood what they meant, and said nothing about it ever again. A couple of Overlevas came over to the Archers and carried Radon into another room. The Dragon Skull walked over to them. 

“The Alchemists will take care of your friend. You should go rest while they take care of it,” Dragon Skull said. 

“Thank you, First Brother, for all your help you have given to us,” Zinc said. “And we promise you, as long as we the Archer’s live, and we continue to spread our ideals to our descendants, we will never allow the old ways to return again,” Zinc said. 

Dragon Skull just stared at them quietly, and then he finally spoke. 

“Hopefully,” he said as he walked away. The Archers then went down another door in the opposite direction, heading to their living quarters in the Realm of the Ram Worshippers.  

Meanwhile, Xenon crawled out of his hiding position. He was covered in sweat, either from the sudden rise of heat in the Cathedral, the anxious feelings, or even both. He know knew the Archers next plans, and needed to get out of there, but some part of him wanted to find out why the whole underworld is cold, and this one place is hot. It was a puzzle to him despite it being just a simple difference. He handled worse situations in the past, why should this matter? Then he realized something. The over-bearing amounts of energy released from the heat gave off the same feelings in him that he felt for weeks now. They seemed connected somehow. Xenon knew it was a stupid idea, but it was worth knowing now. It seemed like it was calling to him, dragging him to the source of his pain, and he was desperate to cure this illness of the mind. 

Xenon followed the pathway the other Overlevas taken, and went down numerous pathways and tunnels. The tunnels were decorated with bright red cloth, small candles, and held ancient artifacts on stone columns. These artifacts were very strange. They looked alien in Xenon’s mind, and something that seems out of touch with the time, as if it came from the very long past or very long future. To describe them would be very strange as well. Most of them were in rectangular and square shapes, but they had strange buttons and writing all over them. It just seemed very odd, but Xenon knew he needed to prioritize, and that was to find the source. 

He went through many more doors and pathways, until he reached a small wooden door with a silver-plated sign: 

Maintenance: Room 402 

Xenon then felt the pain again. This time it rushed through him like a tidal wave, and struck him like lighting. It tightened his whole body so much that he collapsed. He wanted to scream, but he knew if he screamed his mission would be over, and so he bit on his own teeth. His teeth started to grind with its own pain, but it was a better pain then the one pulsing through his body. He could start to feel blood in his mouth from the pressure of his teeth, and let them go. Suddenly, the feeling went away again. He was for some reason not so much confused, but glad it was over. He then slowly got up and went to go open the door.  

“This pain is getting worse all the time,” he thought to himself. “But I just hope it will end soon.” 

He opened the door. 

“It will end, Shaman Xenon,” said a voice in the darkness. “It will all end soon.” 

Before Xenon could react, the vaporizing feeling returned, and sent him to the floor again. He kicked and twitched and started to cry out in pain. When he looked up, he saw the Group of Overlevas starring over him. Dragon Skull stepped out from the rest of them and put a hand on Xenon’s head. 

Xenon felt the pain start to cut him piece by piece. His body started to heat up, and his insides turned to knots. He started to throw up what was left in his body, but the Overlevas didn’t mind. Xenon then collapsed to the floor again, but for some reason deep inside him, he was glad. Mostly because know he was caught; he could finally scream again.  

Meanwhile, Argon and Zinc were waiting in their chamber. They seemed rather quiet today, and both of them recognized that. Maybe it was the concern for Radon’s health, the plans to come ahead, or the Overlevas promise to kill them if they disobey Mortem, the two just felt everything was odd now. Odder than it was ever before. 

Zinc was thinking it through. He saw many types of monsters and mutations through his life. He has been on the battlefield multiple times and saw many of his friends die. He has worked tiredly with others to form a new empire for the world. Yet now, the smallest of things just seemed strange to him. He knew one thing, and that was now to not get on the bad side of the Overlevas. Their cult is as venomous as it is powerful.  

Argon was thinking kind of the same things, but his processing was a bit slower. It always was, but kind of understood the whole thing know in simplest turns.  

“How long are we going to wait in here?” Argon asked. 

“As long as it takes for Radon to heal, and for the Overlevas to prepare their troops,” Zinc replied. “Argon, can I ask you something? Have you been feeling strange lately?” 

“Why yes. Yes I have,” Argon replied. “I have seen one of my best friends nearly die, been threatened by a sadistic cult, and haven’t eaten throughout the whole day. I’M A BIT STRESSED AS WELL!” 

“No besides from that. Ever since we arrived in the Metal Mountains, it seems as if faith has been giving us the cold shoulder. Perhaps even what the Oracle predicted for us, has already come to us,” Zinc said. 

Argon just sat on the chair for a moment. All these thoughts were like insects in his brain. Too fast, too confusing, and not enough time to catch them all in one go. He needed to think, and then he just spoke. 

“I’m not an expert on the supernatural, or destiny as it is, but yes, things have definitely got strange recently. But for some reason it’s not for what we see, but what we feel,” Argon said.  “Were expressing strange emotions we have never expressed really. For example, I have a bad tendency to some-time or another to scream out what I need to say. Do you agree?” 

“Just a bit,” Zinc said. 

“Exactly, but for some reason now, I only talk in a calm matter. I don’t have that drive that I had before to scream out my frustrations. And for some reason as well, I’m talking in more complete sentences now. SOMETHING I NEVER DO!”, Argon bellowed just a little. “And the same can go for you. Ever since the incident in the Desert, you have somewhat become more sensitive to things. You wept more times on a single day, then you have for a whole year. So yes, there is something strange going on. But I believe the best option is to leave it as it is, because we don’t want to break the prophecy the Oracle gave us. Maybe these are the changes that came with his words?” Argon said. 

“I agree,” Zinc said, and the two just began to sit in silence again. 

Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and Bear Skull, a Brother of the Overleva Council, swept through into the room. 

“Archers Zinc and Argon,” said Bear Skull. “We have found the Shaman.” 

…. 

Xenon woke up strapped down to a bed. His clothes were ripped down to just his undergarments, and his body started to shiver from the cold atmosphere again. He could hear tiny drips of water in the distance. The drips brought a intimidating feeling to Xenon, as if the water was going to jump out and attack him. Suddenly, Xenon started to feel a little warm.  

He then felt warmer, warmer, warmer, and then hot, hot, and hotter, and so hot that when he looked up, Dragon Skull was starring right at him. 

Dragon Skull didn’t say a word and neither did Xenon, they just stared at each other for a very long time. The only difference was that Xenon was terrified, and Dragon Skull had an emotionless expression on his face.  

Dragon Skull swept across the room and started to assemble things on a table. Xenon was confused. What was he doing?  

Suddenly Dragon Skull leapt at him with a syringe, and stabbed it right into his chest. Xenon screamed out in pain, trying to avoid a slimy yellow liquid start to enter his body. All of his muscles started to go numb, and then he started to black out. 

“The end will soon be here,” Dragon Skull echoed as Xenon entered the dark abyss. 

The next time Xenon woke up was on a cold stone floor, in a brightly lit room. Xenon looked around from left to right, until he found an object lying on the table. When Xenon walked up to it, he couldn’t believe his eyes. 

It was Radon. But there was something wrong. He was dissected. His whole body was cut open, and the essential organs were lying on a separate tray. Dark red blood covered the whole stone table, and it reeked of decay.  

“This wasn’t a failed surgery,” Xenon realized. “This was… murder.” 

The carcass of Radon still seemed fresh, so that means the Archer must have been killed a short while ago. Xenon started to walk away, when he started to feel something in his hand. When he raised it, he saw a long surgical knife, covered in dark red blood. He looked at his clothes now put on, and they were the same dark red color of blood, dripped and splattered all over him. He ran to Radon, and then he just realized. He killed Radon. 

Suddenly the doors open and when Xenon turned he was greeted with a punch to the face by Argon.  

Xenon then blacked out again. When he woke up, he was chained to a wall. He was covered in bruises and whip marks, and he felt he had two black eyes and most of his teeth gone. He tried to move, but then he realized something. His feet and hands were gone. They cut them off. They cut of his limbs so he couldn’t escape. 

The pain started to return to him, as Xenon started to sob quietly in the empty cellar. The tears slowly running down his face as he tried to avoid his mutilated body. 

The door opened and then closed, and a warm feeling entered the cold cellar. Xenon was already scared before Dragon Skull was already an inch away from him.  

Xenon weakly lifted up his said, he felt like he was going to pass out again, but before he could, he said one last word. “Why?” he echoed as he went black again. 

Dragon Skull stood there in silence once again, but this time he spoke.  

“One arrow will destroy the five. One will be killed by the feathers’ poisoned touch. One shall be killed by the rod that no one excepts. Two will be pierced by the sharp stone. One will remain alive. Live he will, forever will he live. One who has walked, walks, and will walk on the corpses of the fallen. The One who will be the decider on who will rule the New World. Mortem has chosen him to do the dirty work, and the One will live the rest of his days in solitude. And if he is ever called, he will rise once again to bring balance to the world. But for today, the feather has done its work.” 

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