Prologue: A Historian's Journal
The origin of the Desolate has been an issue of much debate over the years. Despite the oral history, modern science has tried to understand them on a different level. They say the legends aren’t true. They say that the creatures are simply a different species that evolved as humanity’s natural predator.
There are theories that during our species’ first formative years, the Desolate lived at the depths of the oceans. Their impenetrable skin was hardened by thousands of pounds of water pressure, and they never developed a sense of sight since sunlight cannot reach to those depths. If they migrated to land after a climate shift destroyed their ecosystem, they could have emerged the dominant predator on the planet.
Hogwash, I say.
There’s far too much about them that science cannot explain.
How do they move through walls? How are they able to tell which noises are human in origin and which are not? How do they live so long, and why can they not be harmed by any weapon known to man?
Science doesn’t have answers to these questions, no matter how good the theory.
Most people believe that the studies are biased, due to the overwhelming atheist majority of the researchers. It must be difficult to believe in the legends about where they came from if you don’t believe in a God. I can understand their desire to rationalize the impossible.
But the tale I was told by my father, the same tale his father had told to him and so on down the generations, was that they were once the greatest kings of men.
He taught me the history of our world. The tale of humans, and of course, the tale of the creatures. He spoke to me the story that had been passed down through humanity for thousands of years.
He told me the origins of the Desolate.
The feeling of being prey has never truly left since that day.
The tale goes like this.
Back when the world was young, the first humans formed a massive civilization. All the people in the world lived there and served under a great deity king. He had brought the scattered humans together and led them well. Under his careful watch, life was good and the people flourished, but it was not to last. For one day the god king realized that even he was growing old.
He had lived many more lifetimes than his subjects, but the signs of age were clear. He couldn’t bear the thought of his imminent demise. They say that he didn’t fear for himself, but instead for his people. What would become of the simple humans without his guidance? There was only one solution; to become an immortal.
No one knows how he did it. Whether it was by some alchemical reaction or a sinister deal with a true deity is unclear. No one in the history of mankind has figured it out, or has even been remotely close to replicating it.
But he achieved it. This man accomplished what others could only dream of. They say that the price was horrifying. No one knows how he did it, but they say the halls ran with blood and the castle stank of rotting death for years to come. But the king had decided that no matter the cost, he would live.
And live he did.
The people rejoiced. Their god king truly was a god, and he would rule them in prosperity forever. And he did rule them well for many more years, but there was a problem. The king had a son he loved more than all the rest of his kingdom put together.
As time passed, he watched his son continue to age. He knew that eventually time would take his beloved child from him. Unable to bear the loss, he performed the ceremony again and his son joined the ranks of the immortal.
Together they rejoiced in their endlessness, and the people rejoiced with them. That is, until the king’s son had a son of his own. With each new generation came another immortal, but still the golden age for humans continued. Perhaps it would have gone on this way for many thousands of years had it not been for the unimaginable; the secret details of the ritual were stolen.
The Kings acted quickly, but not quickly enough. The secret was out, and everyone knew it. They tried to forbid the ritual. They tried everything to stop it from being used. But some people can’t be stopped no matter how much power you weild, and as the years passed more and more people found a way. Before long a thousand immortals walked the earth.
Once the ritual was complete there was little the kings could do. By that point it was too late. No weapon on Earth could kill them for their transgression. There wasn’t even a way to harm them. The greatest strength of the eternal kings became their greatest failing.
Then came the war. The war between those who could not die.
It plunged humanity into a dark spiral as it waged back and forth for hundreds of years. Neither side could ever truly lose, but they continued to fight to the price of mortal lives instead. And already, the immortals were changing.
No longer were they righteous kings. They had begun their transformation to the hideous beasts we know today. I wonder how far along they got before people started to rebel? How many hundreds of years before a man starts to lose his connection to reality? What changed first, their bodies or their minds?
Did they already require human flesh for sustenance?
Had they begun to develop the bulbous growths that would eventually replace their eyes and ears?
Had their mouths already begun to slip to one side, eventually stretching down the entire length of their abdomen?
Did these men still walk, or did they already float in a direct mockery to all known laws of physics?
No one knows when they fully evolved, but we do know what happened next.
The people finally rebelled, and civilization collapsed. They captured all the immortals and sealed them in the deepest, darkest underground dungeon they could find. It is what we know as the collapse of the Bronze age. Humans would plunge into a darkness they wouldn’t rise from for thousands of years.
And still, the immortals lived. Forgotten, but forever indestructible, undying. They stayed in that dungeon for hundreds and hundreds of years, sealed away forever.
Until one day they started to emerge, but they were no longer the great kings of men. Now they were monsters; creatures who could not be harmed in any way, beasts that could not be stopped by any wall, predators that hunted endlessly for human flesh.
Now there was nothing even remotely human left in them. Now they were nothing. Nothing, but the Desolate.