-IC: Araedrex Tenebras, The Firestorm King-
The City of Stone, with its monolithic statues and structures as primordial as the canyons, cliffs, and sands that surrounded them, was normally a peaceful, happy place, almost exotic in nature, with the exciting bazaar and beautiful, if somewhat desolate, landscape.
Or so it seemed.
Beneath the façade of happiness and content, horrors lurked, like any other city, country, empire, or civilization known to Matoran, Toa, Skakdi, Vortixx, or any species one cares to name.
Araedrex Tenebras thought it was rather disappointing how the world and his fellow beings acted, believing they could justify their actions and violence away, blaming and demonizing others, as if their pitiful reasons for bloodshed made the pain they caused right. Long ago, he realized that no one, save those who, like him, realize the stupidity of all, ever realized how the world was a (if viewed remotely) hilarious mess of demonization, glorification, ignorance, and primal violence, hidden beneath a layer of “civilization”, the most hilarious, self-deceiving, double-think requiring mess of all.
As he walked the sand-swept streets of Po-Koro, staring at the edifices erected from cliffs of stone, and huts constructed of sand, he felt no emotion, no mental stimulation in response to that which most thought of as aesthetically pleasing. As he ran his fingers over the coarse stone walls, listened to the sounds of quiet and pleased life, all he felt was a hollow feeling, a state of apathetic detachment, a feeling that indicated that there was no reason anyone should have any opinion about anything, seeing as it didn’t really matter what one thought about anything.
The full moon was the Ta-Toa’s only guide as he traveled through the darkened city of Po-Koro, finally pausing at the entrance of a small, disorderly bar, silent, save for the sound of quiet talking. He recognized it instantly, a business infamous for selling the harshest liquors at the lowest prices, and never asking questions. Its lights illuminating the street around it, it seemed a beacon of light in a sea of darkness, that, to most, would have evoked a sense of joy and serenity. Araedrex? The sight of the lighted lamp invoked a sense of thoughtfulness, and he spent the next few moments pondering on one’s primordial fear of darkness, a thought-provoking, scholar-worthy mental essay that lasted all of three seconds. It would have blown the minds of all but the most hardy intellectuals, yet he only spent mere moments pondering, half-focused.
Entering the bar, he dispassionately stared at the liquor-stained tables, and then the nigh-desolate bar, covered with shards of nut shells, scraps of food, and, as one would expect, more spilled liquor. The sight of the place was terrible; chaos and disarray defined every feature. The look of the place contrasted sharply with the silence, creating an eerie atmosphere, as if Araedrex was observing the destruction that resulted from an event long ago.
A Po-Matoran tended the bar, his eyes wide with anxiety as he watched Araedrex. The bartender’s frame quivered, from nerves, it appeared, as he gripped the cleaning rag tightly, running it across the bar’s surface as if he was attempting to wear away the polished wood.
It was the bar’s other occupants, however, who captured Araedrex Tenebras’ attention. A Skakdi, his hulking frame at the very least thrice that of the Matoran’s. As Araedrex paused as his stare was returned by the Skakdi, who decided that showing his teeth would be the proper warning. Araedrex gave no such response in turn, instead slowly swiveling his eyes to stare at the third, and, besides himself, last occupant of the bar; A Toa. Her armour contained so many colors, Araedrex was unable to discern what element she claimed control over. She, in contrast to her companion, seemed relatively friendly, until she took notice of Araedrex’s inspection, and frowned, as she placed her hand on the hilt of her blade.
Pausing from his inspection of the two other occupants, who continued to stare darkly back at him, Araedrex decided to examine the Po-Matoran once more. Araedrex stared impassively into the Matoran‘s fretful eyes. Araedrex observed him for a moment more, and then he spoke, his eyes drifting from the bar to an uninhabited corner of the bar, hidden in shadows.
“Water, to state my thirst. Whatever sustaning consumables you have on hand. Please, do not bother to taint them with what ever repelling condiments you happen to own; their basic, purest form is what I desire.” Araedrex said, glancing at the expectant Po-Matoran, before resuming his stare at the shadows in the corner, regarding them as he pondered. There was no emotion in his voice, not even the slight depression heard in the emotionally detached. No, this voice was as utterly inhuman and unearthly as the crimson specter from whence it came, the silent, drifting being that wandered the streets of Po-Koro at night, marveling at the dark and shadowed.
The Po-Matoran seemed to shrink in disappointment, nodding in visible depression at the refusal of assistance. As he exited the bar to approach Araedrex with the required items, the Skakdi laid a massive hand on his shoulder, making the Po-Matoran freeze before slowly turning. The massive being’s grin greeted him, sadistic and terrifying to behold, a cruel suggestion of whatever plan the Skakdi had to make this Po-Matoran‘s life a most miserable existence. As the Skakdi released him, his glowing red eyes seeming to devour the Po-Matoran where he stood, the smaller being moved away, slowly backpedaling before turning round once more, to approach Araedrex.
“Please, sir,” He whispered as he laid the tray down, his face shining from perspiration. “These gang barbarians; They plan to pillage my bar. It’s some mission their gang leader gave them.” He paused, his eyes wide, pleading. “You are a Toa, are you not? Please, I beg of you, help me, remove these vile beings from my respectable establishment.”
Araedrex paused, about to reach for his glass of water, to listen to the Po-Matoran, his eyes as insensitive as ever. Tilting his head to stare at this being requesting his help, the Po-Matoran saw the sheer heartlessness displayed in his face, and shivered, thinking this being might be worse the gang members.
“Who are you to call these beings vile?” Araedrex asked, his voice incredibly soft, and almost, strangely enough, gentle. “You own a establishment created to profit off of one’s desire of an addictive substance. Certainly this is vile? They consume your products, and cause destruction. The blame can be shared. There is certainly enough to go around.” He asked, his voice so chillingly soft, so dangerously quiet, the Po-Matoran almost fled in sheer terror. When the Po-Matoran refrained from replying, Araedrex drew a dagger from his pocket, a slender, elegant weapon.
“S-sir, all I ask is that you lend me help in my time of need…” The Po-Matoran said, stammering out of sheer terror. Behind him, the Skakdi and Toa were rising, staring at the Po-Matoran, visibly agitated at the possibility that this Toa may be a Guard member, or some do-gooder whom the Matoran would be able to recruit.
“Fate will not lend you help in your time of need. Neither will Mata-Nui, or any other deity,” Araedrex said softly, staring down at the Matoran imperturbably, flipping the dagger across his fingers, rotating it to catch the light, blinding and entrancing all observers. Pausing the rotation, he turned the knife, catching the flat of the blade between forefinger and thumb, and offering the hilt to the Po-Matoran. “Fend for yourself. Face the products of your respectable establishment.” He said, as quiet and toneless as ever, as he flipped the knife into the air, just before the Po-Matoran could reach it. Catching it by the rigid, leather-lacking grip, he began to twirling it once more, letting the steel blade and wooden hilt dance across his fingertips and palm. The Po-Matoran’s face drained of all color, as he realized what had just occurred. His eyes pleading, he reached for the knife once more.
Instantly, Araedrex reacted, grabbing the wrist of the outstretching arm, pulling it towards him as he placed a hand on the now-terrified Matoran’s chest, causing him to lose balance, before releasing the wrist and pushing suddenly and powerfully with the other hand. The Matoran tumbled and tripped backwards across the room, colliding into the Toa, sending her tumbling into her Skakdi accomplice.
Araedrex stood, calm and composed, spending a moment to stare at the three beings, and then exited the building, as the screams of the Po-Matoran, the roaring of the Skakdi, and the laughing of the female Toa filled the air.
As he stood in the street, outside of the building, Araedrex watched the wind sweep the dust and sand covering the ground into beautiful spirals, twisting and turning in the night sky, illuminating by the white, gibbous moon, and accompanied by the soft, comforting whispers of the wind. Raising a single arm towards the moon, as if he planned to touch it, Araedrex, his fingers reaching, paused, his eyes as hard and indifferent as ever. There was a moment of beautiful, tranquil silence, save for the screams and hideous laughing in the distance; and then Araedrex clenched his hand into a fist.
The bar erupted in flames, igniting with a thunderous roar, instantly becoming an inferno of charred wood and blazing fires. The screams of the Po-Matoran were quickly joined by those of the Skakdi and Toa, as Araedrex resumed walking, both hands now stuffed deep into the pockets of his greatcoat.
The Firestorm King was disappointed with the world, they way everyone justified their wants and “needs” against the wants and needs of other. As far as he was concerned, everyone could just burn in the cost of their requests. Everyone and everything could burn in the fire of their own selfishness and pride.
A fire that The Firestorm King would be more than happy to start.