Mordulon-Fall of the Crimson Throne
Big bald beauty in a loin cloth and sacred lion cloak.
Early in his life, Mustafa knew he was going to be a great leader like his father. His father spent all his spare time teaching Mustafa everything he could about their small tribe. He taught him how to lead with compassion, and fight without mercy.
“The second most important value for any member of our tribe, let alone the leader,” his father taught him when he was very young, “is to show respect to the meat god. Everything is made of meat of some kind or another. Meat from animals is the most sacred however, so when we have a dead creature, we must use every part.” They spent the rest of the day dressing multiple animals from the day’s hunt.
“The third most important value for any member of our tribe, let alone the leader,” his father taught him soon after, “is to cherish water.” Mustafa was confused, his father started this lesson during a burial ceremony.
“Father,” he began, “Why do we bury our dead? Why don’t we use their meat like we do for everything else?”
“Mustafa my son,” he leaned in and said softly, “we don’t use our own meat because when we die, we send it to the meat god himself. You’re missing the point though,” he finished, as he motioned towards the ceremony.
The whole tribe was present. Standing next to the deceased were the tribe sorcerers, who were staring intently at the body and muttering to themselves in time. All of a sudden, the body began to glow faintly, and Mustafa watched as the blood seemed to leave the body from every orifice. He looked away out of fear.
“You need to watch,” his father said.
As Mustafa turned back, he saw the blood was floating towards large waterskins. As it got closer to the containers its appearance changed. It was turning entirely clear.
“Water?” Mustafa asked, looking up at his father.
“Correct. We give our meat to the god when we die, but we give our water to the rest of the tribe. The sun gods can be vicious, and so we must preserve our water to ensure our survival during the hot seasons. Without this practice, our tribe would surely have perished ages ago.”
Mustafa spent the next few years following his father and learning the ways to lead. But most of his spare time was spent helping members of the tribe with whatever they needed. No task was too mundane or too hard for Mustafa to help with, especially for the elders. He taught the younglings how to hunt and fight, and would entertain them with stories of hunts of his own, or even just by playing games with them. With his peers he formed tight friendships, and soon became close with the other members that would eventually become his advisors and hunting party. Life was good in the tribe for everyone, and Mustafa had no small part in it.
After countless other lessons, an adult Mustafa finally had to ask his father, now bed-ridden, “Father, what is the first most important value? You have told me all the others countless times, but you’ve never told me the most important.”
His father looked up at him, "Mustafa. You have already learned all the lessons I could ever teach you, including the most important value. Take the day to roam the fields and think on this. Do not return until you have realized what the most important value is. I don’t expect you will be gone for very long, as you already do this better than most.
Mustafa was gone for the rest of the day. He was angry at his father for being so indirect.
He says I already do this better than most, then why will he not tell me what it is?
He found a small, dense forest, and wandered inside. Shelter from the suns would be nice, the day was unusually hot. He angrily stomped through the woods, staring at his feet as they crushed the sticks underfoot, trying to think of all the ways his father lead that went beyond the twenty something main lessons he had learned.
Hours later, only one of the suns was visible, and only just. As he started looking for a small area to post up for the night, it hit him.
Respect and love.
He knew those were the most important values. Of course he knew it. Even when his father dealt with captives of the tribe, he always treated them as an equal. As far as his father was concerned, there was no difference between himself and any other person in the care of their tribe.
Mustafa made a small camp with a renewed sense of purpose. He would make his father proud, and hoped to be at least half as just a leader his father had been. As he was nearing sleep however, he heard a soul-ripping scream. He had never heard such a noise before, from man or beast. He readied his greataxe, and sat up, staring into the forest. He wanted to return to tell his father the good news of his realization, but this could be a danger that he could protect everyone from. He couldn’t risk going back until he was sure they were safe.
The suns had set, and it was hard for him to see through the dense trees, even with his torch. After about a half-hour of searching, he came upon a clearing. Lying in the middle, in a fresh pool of blood, was a gigantic lion. This was by far the biggest lion Mustafa had seen, and it had long, black horns. One of the sun gods’ sacred lions, then. He had only heard stories of them, never seen one in person. He looked around cautiously before approaching, he wasn’t sure if it had made the noise that woke him, or if it were something else.
What or who could take out a sacred lion and survive?
He didn’t see anything out of place, and came in close to the lion. The lion was almost as wide as Mustafa was tall, and he could barely just see over it. He investigated the lion further, but couldn’t find a wound anywhere, let alone a weapon. He stepped back a few feet, and sat down, staring at the lion.
Where is all the blood coming from if there’s no wound?
He sat there considering the lion for the rest of the evening. As day started to break, he came to the decision that the meat god would disapprove of him just leaving such a bountiful source of meat. He resolved to dress and carve it to help feed his people.
After hours of work, Mustafa had countless various cuts of meat, and the pelt of the lion. It was now midday, and he realized he hadn’t eaten since lunch the previous day. He fashioned a few skewers and cooked some of the meat he had just acquired. The first bite disgusted him. There was something wrong, did he leave the meat too long in the sun? Mustafa decided not to take the meat to the tribe. He thought the meat god would be madder at a waste of meat already cooked, than the waste of so much meat due to rot, so Mustafa forced himself to eat the rest he ahd cooked.
After the third piece, something changed. The meat didn’t taste bad anymore, it was delicious. He smelled more meat cooking, and looked at the fire. Nothing. He continued eating the skewers, and the amazing smell hit him again, he looked over at the pile, and it was all cooked now. He stepped away from the clearing, fearing the suns were too hot if they were cooking meat. He didn’t feel hot though, so he reached a hand out. The clearing was not much hotter than the forest itself, he stepped toward the meat. He had to taste it one more time before heading back.
As he took the first bite from the pile, the clearing ignited. Mustafa screamed as he burned, feeling the flesh peel back from his hands and arms. He fell to the ground screaming.
And then it was gone.
He opened his eyes, and he saw a figure standing if front of him, bright white. Mustafa looked at his arms and hands, and they looked fine, no evidence of any kind of burns. He looked around the clearing, and could see that it was all charred, even the forest had been burned to the ground. All that had survived it seemed, was Mustafa, the lion meat and pelt, and this figure, who started walking towards Mustafa.
As the figure approached, Mustafa had to squint, but he readied his axe.
“You are a great warrior,” the figure said. “You must be, to have slain such a powerful beast,” it gestured to the pile of meat.
“No,” Mustafa corrected, “I didn’t kill the lion. I came upon him already dead in the middle of the night, but I could not find the killer. I did not want to anger the meat god by letting the beast go to waste so I prepared the meat for travel back to my tribe.”
“Well you have done well by the meat god,” the figure said, stopping a few feet from Mustafa. “But not by me,” it finished, pointing at the sun. “You killed one of my lions, and tried to blame it on someone or something else. You worship the weak meat god, and now you are out of your depth like the thunder god before you.”
“SILENCE!” The sun god interrupted.
“I will hear no more of your pathetic lies. You want to slaughter and eat my lion, and gain the power of my brother? So be it.”
There was a flash, and the figure disappeared.
Mustafa got to his feet, and made his way, slowly at first, back to the tribe’s camp. The journey back was much quicker than the way out. He felt lighter and faster, even with the pelt weighing him down. Right before he made it to the camp, the sun god reappeared in front of him.
“The meat from my lion has filled you with so much strength,” it said, menacingly.
Mustafa stepped forward, “Yes, but again, I didn’t kill it! I just couldn’t let it go to waste, it would disrespect my god!”
“This is true,” the god said. “But now that you have eaten it, wouldn’t it be a waste to not use this strength you’ve been given by it?”
Mustafa stayed silent.
“Here,” sneered the god. “I will help you.”
The next few hours to Mustafa were a blur, he remembers just bits and pieces. His greataxe swinging at his tribemates, beyond his control. His friends and family screaming, covered in blood. The elders trying to flee, and younglings trying to fight. None were even a challenge to whoever was weilding his axe. His father’s last word while looking up at him, tears streaming down his face,“Why?”
Only after the camp was utterly destroyed, did Mustafa realize what had happened. He wasn’t sure how he felt. He was sad, but the sadness seemed so far away. Out of reach. He wanted more. He had fun. He killed his entire tribe and it was fun.
It was horrible. What have you done? He could just barely make out the thought. He shoved it down angrily.
The sun god reappeard. “Good,” it started. “Now you have begun to atone for your sin.”
“Begun?!” Mustafa yelled, lunging at the god with his axe, more for the fun of a battle than anything else.
The axe became whitehot, and Mustafa dropped it.
“Yes. Begun. I know you see yourself as a good person. I have made sure that you remember that, always in the deepest parts of yourself. But for your indiscretion against me, you will not be a good person ever again. You will become a slave to your anger. You will be a slave to your greed. You will be conscious of all your decisions, and you will hate yourself. But only at the deepest part of your soul. You will be powerless to stop being this way, and that knowledge will just feed into your anger more. You won’t even be able to fight it, it is just who you are now, it paused. “You know I’m right, you just slaughtered your entire tribe and are smiling.”
Mustafa didn’t stop smiling, “I know you’re right, and I’m excited. I can’t wait to see how much fun I can have everywhere else now that I’m not tied to that worthless tribe. I will be the strongest in the world. I’ll take what I want, and do what I want. As long as the gold and meat is plentiful, I will do whatever I want.”
WHAT ARE YOU SAYING!? But Mustafa wasn’t listening.
“Then I am done here. Go back to worshipping your meat god. I’m taking back the strength you gained from eating my lion,” the figure said, and it vanished.
Mustafa could feel the power leave him, and in his anger and hunger he tried eating some of the meat from a few animals of his tribe. He tried some of the stores of perserved meat they had. He even tried some of his tribe members. Nothing helped with his strength or hunger, so he left. He crafted the lion’s pelt into a cloak and made his way out into the world.
Mustafa spent the next few years roaming from town to town picking up random thug jobs, assassinations, anything that let him kill and get paid. Now his two favorite things. He wandered into Antimor looking for easy money to earn or steal, and that’s where he met everyone else. He’s been staying with the group mostly because they get paid, he gets to kill things and people, and if he gets hurt they heal him.
He doesn’t even hear the voices anymore.