History of Luukos
History of Luukos is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
- From the Compendium of Elven Legend
- The historical concepts, theories and various tales of folklore which form the foundation of this tale (save for the factual information about the undead) compiled and archived by Ytrhyn Siv'aendas of House Illistim.
It was a cold beginning, born into a harsh world with your masters predetermined, your fate drawn out for you, and your ambitions set too high. It was this world that the Arkati known as Luukos first knew. Passed down from the ancient lore of our people, before even the time where we could scribe such things on pages, our memory reaches far into history. This is his tale, as remembered and told by the famed bard Larelle Aiv'thyline.
It was said that the Elanthia of the Arkati's time was pristine and unworldly in beauty -- a paradise befitting the birth of new gods. As hinted in so many religious texts, there is a strong bond between Drake and Arkati, as a parent to a child. Luukos was no different.
Atop the cliffs of Nagothrym there dwelled a great golden drake, whose wings were like liquid fire against the sheer blue sky, and whose scales were swept with patterns of fiery scarlet -- it was said that when he took flight, it was as if the heavens were set afire with beauty. A truly magnificent creature, it was said there was no challenge he would back down from. And indeed, there was not, for he had succeeded in all he set out to do and was known by many of his kin to be most daring. But, as is often the case with those who achieve success easily, he became bored with the world -- for while he was far older than any mortal, he was yet young by the standards of Drakes and had only known the lands of Nagothrym. He decided, then, to find challenges elsewhere, away from his lush homeland.
So he set off to the distant lands, past the forests and plains of men he soared -- his glittering golden wings like a shining star in the morning mists. On and on he traveled, over the oceans, over continents even he could not glimpse from the massive peaks of his homeland. Eventually, he came upon a vast stretch of desert, a wasteland of parched earth where nothing but jagged spires of basalt grew underneath the harsh glare of the sun. Intrigued by the appearance of this land of ancient cataclysms, the drake touched down upon the heated sands. It was then that he heard it -- the earth-shaking bellow of another of his kind. It came from none that he knew of, indeed, he had thought all of his kind were gathered at the great peaks of Nagothrym. And then it came again, closer this time, and he could recognize it. It was no greeting nor query -- it was a call which demanded his blood. He had found the challenge he sought, and he intended to face it.
He barely had time to turn before a shadow passed over him, a shroud of black that blocked out even the rays of the sun. As the colossal wings of the new arrival beat in unison, great clouds of golden sand buffeted the young one, forcing him to shield his eyes as the challenger touched down upon the baking sands. As the surroundings settled, he stared at the one who had come to face him, the one who had called for his blood and his life. He was black as the basalt formations that towered over them, and his scales were craggy, as if they were carved from the mountains themselves. Great white scars ran the length of his body, resembling winding chasms. He was an ancient drake, by any measure, and the most curious aspect was his eyes -- a vivid emerald green, like a dash of brilliant color upon a starless night sky.
And those eyes now stared toward him, unblinking and gleaming with hatred. There were no words between them, for they both knew that the only thing which mattered now was life and death, and neither would relent. Talon met talon, echoing across the empty desert like the sound of a thousand swords shattering. Great clouds of sand swirled around the behemoths as their battle ensued, cloaking them in a haze of shimmering heat and gold. They were said to have fought for days, their screams tearing the earth asunder, and the blood of their wounds birthing rivers upon a land which had known none for millennia.
It was then that the black drake rose up from the site of their battle, his huge wings carrying him up into the sky and out of sight. The golden one, near exhausted from his exertions, reared his head back and loosed a victorious roar. Awash in the euphoria of his furious triumph, he failed to glimpse the black drake as he sped down from the sky, claws outstretched. All he glimpsed was a shadow, and then a searing pain like none other as the black drake's talons sliced his neck to mere ribbons. Sinking down into the sand with a great thud, the golden drake's eyes turned toward his murderer, and, even as their lustrous hue began to fade as his death crept ever nearer, they radiated a hatred which had never touched the golden one in life, but which now burned with an intense, cold fury that permeated the core of his soul in death. Then the light faded in his eyes, and he expired upon the burning sands.
Craning his neck down, the ancient one took the flesh of his foe into his great, scarred maw, delighting in the taste of fresh victory. Amusement shone in his eyes, but as the flesh slid down his gullet, the corpse of the golden drake began to bubble and froth -- the stench of rot and corruption filled his nostrils as a cloud of sulfurous smoke shrouded the golden one's body. As the cloud roiled and swirled like a living miasma, the now-setting sun cast its last dim rays through the velvety partition of the smoke -- revealing a tall figure silhouetted against the haze. It stepped forward, over the beautiful, bloodied corpse of the golden drake and into the light, revealing a man whose skin was darkened to a deep, almost bronze, hue. A wave of black hair fell past his shoulders, its surface cast in a violet-blue sheen as twilight began to spread across the heavens.
The ancient one knew what had transpired, for he was familiar with the Arkati -- but he wanted none to disturb his solitude. He stretched out his massive talons toward the Arkati, intent upon maintaining his solitary life regardless of whom or what stood in his way. But he stopped short as the young one raised his eyes to him, their deep emerald hue a mirror of his own cruelty and ruthless cleverness. Slowly, the Drake let his claw fall to the ground and bade the newborn to follow him. And the young Arkati did follow him, into the great depths of the castles of basalt that lay hidden in those humid desert wastes, consigning the golden drake to an anonymous death without mourning or proper respects.
It was then that Luukos' education began, in those ancient black caverns deep in the earth where the drake Vel'Athorre had lived alone for countless ages. His patron had an intense curiosity for the outer planes, having grown weary of this world's fruits long ago. Luukos often accompanied him on these frequent visits to the twisted realms beyond the comprehension of any mortal -- it is said that, due to the drake's power and knowledge, Luukos laid eyes upon the most distant realms -- places that even the great scholar Fash'lo'nae, with his wisdom of all things arcane, has no records of. Whether these travels to purely alien realms might have affected such a young, developing Arkati, we may never know -- certainly the desire to pervert and twist life into something as unnatural as undeath could not be borne from one who had not gazed upon greater horrors. Under his tutelage, Luukos grew extremely skilled in manipulating the world around him, and, due to his affinity to the outre' realms, that which he wrought upon his surroundings was often a twisted mockery of what he knew to be natural. They both reveled in playing with the lesser creatures that wandered too close to their domain, using what they'd gleaned from worlds most warped upon the helpless beings. Luukos found the death of the man-creatures to be especially satisfying -- going so far as to drink the blood of the freshly killed in rapturous delight.
Vel'Athorre had explained to the young Arkati that he had left his brethren long ago, having found solitude more preferable than the pristine peaks of Nagothrym as he aged. But as Luukos was regaled with stories of the drake's past, he began to long to see the towering cliffs of his patron's ancestral homeland. Possessing a natural charisma, Luukos persuaded the great drake to journey with him to the paradise he had never known.
They were received well, considering Vel'Athorre's temperament regarding his brethren. The two parted ways for a time -- the great drake seeking out his old caverns, and Luukos finding himself among his brothers and sisters for the first time in his life. He was well-liked by most of them, only a few objecting to his treatment of the developing races of the world. His cleverness and natural charm earned him many acquaintances during this blissful time of reunion. His days were occupied by spending time with the Arkati whom he found more agreeable, both learning from them and imparting what he'd gleaned from his patron drake. His nights were filled with passionate debates with those who differed in philosophy with him -- particularly with one of the newly born Arkati called Lorminstra. While he found he could smooth over any chance of hostility with honeyed words, this was a feat he could not work upon Lorminstra, for it only served to fuel her anger. Luukos eventually dismissed her as one too soft-hearted to embrace an ideal which was far older than himself or the drakes -- the strong survived, and the weak were to die.
The dichotomy between the Arkati's views grew increasingly prominent as Luukos lingered in the splendor of Nagothrym, but there was little anger among them -- their world was vibrant and perfect, like an ethereal dream that could never end, their patron drakes the eternal guardians of their idyllic existence. A difference in ideals was little to worry about -- some Arkati found it appealing, even embracing the conflict, for they believed intellectual progress could only be borne from the constant rethinking of the world. Luukos found himself keeping company regularly with the more sensible Arkati, and he soon discovered he had quite a bit of talent in persuading them to do most anything he wished -- his charisma and confidence was like a storm that swept up those around him, making them eager to befriend him and follow his examples.
He also spent time among the drakes, whom he felt to be the most sensible of all, and he preferred their company to any other, save for but a tiny few of his Arkati brethren he saw as subordinates rather than equals. The drakes were both impressed and shocked by his skill in imposing his will upon the world, finding his boldness and confidence among them appealing in a novel sort of way. He often entertained the more brutal of the drakes with elaborate shows using his unique skills -- slaughtering entire villages that marred the otherwise pristine countryside and consuming their life-force, only to make them rise again -- their dead bodies now serving as a prison for their lost souls as they danced and frolicked in a morbid mockery of their lives for the amusement of his audience. Luukos found this to be vastly entertaining and continued to refine his grisly talents, discovering that as he consumed not only the blood of the dead, but their immortal souls, his power grew in turn.
He continued to explore and expand his manipulative techniques, until his patron drake, Vel'Athorre, returned to him. He had not seen his teacher for ages, knowing that he would retreat into solitude once he had tired of the others who dwelled in Nagothrym. They spoke for a time, Luukos displaying all he had learned to his ancient patron eagerly, showing him of the power waiting to be harvested in the tiny little man-creatures. The great drake met his pupil's ideas with approval, as he himself had found power in the most unlikely of places before. But their reunion would not be a happy one, for Vel'Athorre had come to tell Luukos of the consensus among the drakes -- that the Arkati must leave this world for the moons above.
Luukos merely saw this as another debate to be won, simply a matter of persuading his patron to do otherwise as he had done so long ago when he wished to see the lands beneath Nagothrym. He launched into a passionate argument about why he must stay, but his defiance was only rewarded with a slash of Vel'Athorre's scythe-like black talons. This was not an issue to be debated, he stated, but an order. They were not equals, as he had made abundantly clear when he had sliced Luukos' tongue in two. Momentarily shocked by the quick, brutal response of his patron and the searing pain of his wound, he cast a baleful glare at his old teacher, hatred seething within him like a raging inferno. His anger was only met by the stony, scarred face of one he knew would not back down, nor think twice of slaying any who stood in his way. Knowing he had little recourse, Luukos consented and silently accompanied Vel'Athorre to the congregation of Drake and Arkati.
His composure never cracking and his wound burning as it underwent the process of scarring, Luukos smoothly glided over toward those he knew -- those going to Lornon. He had gazed upon the moon many times during his life and had pondered over its power and its secrets. But he had little care for it now -- he was in a black mood, for the news of the banishment and the swift actions of his teacher coupled to form a bitterness in him. Soon, the others had gathered, and while they made final farewells, Luukos remained deep in thought and drifted silently up to Lornon with his compatriots. He was determined to make his banishment time well spent.
He had found a satisfactory dwelling, the black caverns suiting him quite well -- even reminding him of his youth. He had thoroughly delved into the massive network of winding tunnels that made up his home, discovering things he had never even speculated could be there while he lived on Elanthia. For the most part, he lived a solitary life, silently accumulating a greater perspective upon the world and even continuing his planar studies -- Lornon made it quite easy, diffusing the barrier between the veils to but a mere whisper for the power of an Arkati. Without his teacher by his side, Luukos could not gaze upon all he had before, but he was satisfied with what he could gather. At times, he would emerge from his shadowy home to confer with two Arkati whose company he found pleasurable, Eorgina and Fash'lo'nae. Fash'lo'nae was particularly interested in the sights he had seen beyond the veil, the two talking for hours upon hours of the things they had gleaned from their mutual studies.
Eorgina, however, was content to speak of the old times with him -- of paradises lost, and of what the future might hold, of the power yet to be harnessed and mastered. He found that she was exceedingly wise in almost all matters, and she, of course, was intrigued by his own charms and talent. But, as the trio discussed things long into the cold nights of the dark moon, he was reminded of the near past. While Vel'Athorre's actions were not unexpected -- he knew, after all, the drakes had been determined to be the rulers of all others -- he found himself bitter at his dependency upon them during his early years, his numerous attempts to impress them, and how he longed for their company still. Withdrawing into introspection, Luukos left the two, and, with his former master's eyes no longer upon him, began to search for other channels of power upon Lornon -- determined to free himself from the mentality of a slave.
Time passed, and Luukos did indeed find what he sought. His talents expanded greatly during his self-imposed exile, and his physical body had changed, as well -- the scar inflicted by Vel'Athorre, one which he would never let heal fully, caused his tongue to grow slender and forked. His features became finer and more narrow, his pupils now slits -- his overall appearance resembled something subtly yet undeniably reptilian. His senses were also sharpened, and he discovered he could feel the deaths of those on the surface of his old home, the sensation both delighting him and empowering him further. He began to explore his influence in this area in detail, becoming increasingly fascinated by the deaths of the living and the strength inherent in their eternal souls.
Thus, it was all too convenient that the Ur-Daemon appeared at this time. Many legends tell of how they came, but regardless of our speculations, they wrought chaos upon the world. The eyes of all the Arkati were focused upon the world below as the Thousand-Year War began. Observing from his subterranean haven, Luukos was witness to the death of an entire age, the slaughter wrought upon the surface never to be matched by anything in Elanthian history. He became awash in the euphoria that the countless, seemingly infinite deaths sent racing along his immortal senses. His state soon changed when he began to sense the deaths of his more compassionate brethren -- those who rushed to the aid of their masters and were easily murdered in turn, followed by the death of the Drakes themselves.
There are, perhaps, no words to describe what followed -- for the Arkati, the presence of the drakes was like the presence of the air in our lungs. They were timeless, they were always, they were the night and the day -- something that could not be erased and that would endure forever. To one such as Luukos, whose perception of the process of death was honed through countless eons of fascination and study, this powerful, intense sensation was only amplified into a pure wave of near-maddening agony that coursed through every fiber of his being -- their deaths were as an eternal, deafening scream that drowned out everything, searing the core of his soul with the utter horror of their life-force being torn to shreds.
As Luukos was thrust into this agonizing state, he could see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing but be a receiver of these crippling sensations. Even his own thoughts were something alien to him, drifting in and out of his mind like gossamer whispers, barely heard over the incomprehensible anguish of a dying world. But one thought began to grow in prominence, and, like a fading star that flares blindingly before succumbing to the darkness of the void, the thought reached him over the all-consuming pain: You are free. They are gone. You are free.
As soon as he began to hear the words, Luukos realized he was resisting the sensations -- trying to push them away, trying to conceal himself from the shock of their deaths. He fought against the urge to mourn, pushed hard against what had been ingrained into him since he first gazed upon the world as a newborn. Slowly, the pain began to recede and eventually faded away into nothing but a distant memory of the past -- a way of life he had now cast aside forever. Now recovered, Luukos instead embraced their deaths, for they were the herald of his complete freedom. The invisible shackles the Drakes had cast upon him were now shattered -- through death, he had become free. Through death, he had experienced nothing short of rebirth. Death was infinitely more powerful than life itself, for it was the ultimate catalyst for change. Realizing this, he opened himself to the sensations completely, allowing the full spectrum of his abilities to become wholly cognizant of the deaths that set the world below him ablaze. And he was free.
The war had served as an awakening to the Arkati. They had realized that change could touch even their kind -- and even the great drakes who had been infinitely more powerful than them. With most of the drakes dead or driven insane by the utter shock of their downfall, the Arkati found themselves the caretakers of a broken world. Luukos made the journey down to the ravaged surface and was amazed at the resilience of the man-creatures -- they had survived, if only barely. He was, of course, pleased by this, and, no longer separated by distance, he began to explore just how well the knowledge and talents gleaned on the cold, dark moon could serve him. The few unfortunates who encountered Luukos, those whose lives were already torn asunder by a cataclysmic battle they could hardly fathom, were subject to even greater horrors and torment as he delved into the workings of their immortal souls and what uses they could serve.
It was during this time that the world came to truly know Luukos -- he had adopted the serpent as the herald of his coming, his insidious nature finding its graceful, sleek form and hidden, venomous fangs pleasing. Luukos refined his knowledge of undeath to perfection, his manipulation of the dead and their souls becoming an indelible part of his personality as the burgeoning civilizations came to consciousness. His name was spoken with fear, and his abominations were barely understood by those he wrought them on, save for the eternal torment that they bestowed. It was for this reason that the true power and horror of undeath remained in blissful darkness for millennia, the majority of civilization never having felt its touch as the centuries passed.
As the races below spread like wildfire and developed their cultures, Luukos began to discover another innate talent as his inquiries became less focused on the undead -- his skill in that grisly art having become satisfactory in his eyes. He could exert his power over those who sullied themselves in life -- the stain on their souls allowing it to be easily taken in by his will. He eventually began to acknowledge that certain members of the races were more useful to him alive than they were dead, and with this realization the seeds for his future worship were planted.
All of the differing civilizations had begun to unravel the secrets of mana and, as the centuries passed, developed some rudimentary form of magical skill. The Elven Empire had arisen, and the world was finally beginning to achieve peaceful stability. Scholars among the races delved into new forms of magic, their progress in picking up on such skills startling to some of the Arkati. They had not, however, discovered the truly twisted uses that magic could be put to -- the power of undeath remained securely in the hands of the few Arkati who chose to employ it. During a meeting of the Arkati ages ago, when war between those of Liabo and Lornon seemed imminent, Koar had taken heed of Lorminstra's warnings against Luukos' studies. The power of undeath, he decreed, was not to be placed in mortals' hands -- it was too much of a danger to them, with their limited understanding of the world.
Thus, it came as a complete shock when the woman called Despana appeared, wielding the power of undeath to a degree that astounded the Arkati. She had unlocked a form of magic that had not even been hinted at in magical studies of any of the mortal races -- she had found the Book of Tormtor. The relative calm that the world had blissfully been cast in was now shattered as the Undead Wars were unleashed upon every civilization. Luukos himself was said to have completely stepped back from the war, and the world should be thankful this was so. He was completely inactive in mortals' lives during this time where the lands were again thrust into chaos and ruin. Perhaps the deaths wrought by the undead created by Despana sated him completely, or perhaps in his cleverness he had foreseen the actions of his brethren and knew what steps he must take to ensure their intervention would not occur.
After the war, it was said the Arkati met in Koar's sanctum again to discuss the dreadful magic that was even now festering in the minds of the power-hungry mortals in Despana's wake. Lorminstra and many others of the Liabo pantheon argued that the power was too dangerous, too unstable, and the potential for disaster was too great to allow mortals to wield it again. Luukos' past transgressions with this power were brought up time and time again by these Arkati, and for a time it seemed as if Koar would relent to their wishes. But Koar had called them to hear all their thoughts on this matter, and Luukos would give them no quarter -- those who believed his manipulations of the dead heinous and unnatural could not point to him as being a prominent figure in the war in the slightest. The only time he deigned to involve himself in the war was during an incident where his affinity for deception lead him to cause disaster for the immortal Leya. Assuming the role of an eccentric scholar with little interest in the civilizations of the world beyond a thing to be studied, Luukos pointed out the key fact of the matter -- that none of the Arkati had intervened to give the knowledge of undeath to the world. The incident with Leya only served to bolster his argument -- that he was only interested in the matters of his kin and other immortals, not the affairs of the lesser races. Naturally, many of the Lornon pantheon agreed with him, the most notable supporter being Sheru, an Arkati who had changed drastically since the rule of the Drakes. Thus, Luukos' true intentions were hidden from his brethren.
Weighing the matter for quite a long time, Koar passed his judgment -- as none had intervened to give the knowledge to mortals, none should intervene to take it away. They must be allowed to rule themselves, and to make their own choices regarding these matters. With this decision made, both sides began to plant their own philosophies among their mortal followers -- the religions which worshiped Luukos became even stronger and more numerous with the advent of undeath, and Luukos himself aided them in understanding its mysteries. Beyond his own factions, other mortals began to experiment with the power on their own, their sloppy techniques only promoting more accidents and death which pleased him so. The Arkati Sheru also came to work closely with Luukos, for he found the fear which the undead abominations instilled in the thoughts of mortals exquisite. The two eventually forged an alliance to stand against the mounting waves of opposition they were soon to encounter.
On the other side, Lorminstra worked with others who believed in the purity of life to put a stop to the flood of corruption that undeath brought. This would eventually lead to the ascendance of the immortal spirit Voln, and the establishment of his Order. The Arkati who aided her believed that life was a cycle to be protected, and that the undead were an abomination, corrupting that cycle into something unnatural and twisted. Most of the civilized societies came to agree with this outlook, thus banishing the practicing of animating the dead into secrecy, and, at the same time, securing Luukos' legacy in their minds, hearts, and especially their fears -- the great deceiver, the one who feeds upon souls and consigns those who fall in his grasp to an eternity of damnation, trapped forever in rotting flesh as a mindless servant to his will.