Origin of Mularos
Origin of Mularos is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
And the meek shall be made strong by the oceans of agony that reside within them, oceans stirred to raging tides by His ungentle mercy. The least shall be filled up and flow over, spilling their pain upon the ground in a gentle rain, and from those fertile waters shall the shoots of more misery grow, until all the world is beautified by His blessed gifts.
He was born atop a mountain amidst the throes of a dying drake.
She was Goragan. Silver of scale, and with eyes that burned the color of the sky at sunset, she was a creature of unsurpassed majesty and beauty. She had been savaged in a squabble with another female. At first, it was merely a raw red score across the unprotected flesh of her underbelly, but there, infection had taken root, sinking its gnawing tendrils into her bloodstream, wracking her with agony at all hours. She had lain in torment for countless days before, at last, she expired. And from her last tortured gasp, Mularos was formed.
As all Arkati, he sprang into being fully formed, but fresh of mind. His first sight was the final, tortured throe of the drake that ought to have been his patron. What followed was worse.
The Arkati lay in the shadow of Goragan, new to the world, but with no drake to teach him of how to live in it. Three days passed, and in this time he learned three lessons. His first lesson was hunger, as his empty belly gnawed at him and the worms gnawed at Goragan. The second was privation, for the flesh on his bones wasted as the flesh on hers was consumed. The third was sorrow. He wept over the drake, and her eyes wept as they rotted away.
It was an inauspicious beginning.
Goragan was little more than a spent carcass when another drake found Mularos. This one had scales of vivid azure like a sky scoured clean after a spring storm. He was Athma, and he was a cunning worm, always collecting trinkets and baubles of great renown. The moment he saw the nascent Arkati from afar, he wished to be Mularos's patron. So, he darted down out of the sky and came to rest near the corpse.
"Why do you guard this carcass, young Arkati?" he trumpeted.
"It was my maker," said Mularos. "More than that, I do not know, for her death was the spark that set my life's fire burning."
Athma sniffed at the youth; examined him with two great eyes. "You do not know her, yet you weep for her?"
"I weep for the loss of her beauty. She was once the most stunning of creatures, with scales of hammered silver and eyes like sunfire. But now she is only bleached bone and dried flesh. I did not know her, but I knew her beauty, and I could not save it. I know only hunger and privation and mourning, and so I remain here."
"There is much a drake could teach you. Come away from those remains and serve me, and I will show you," Athma said.
Mularos gave a shake of his head. "All I wish to see is her beauty again."
"I, too, have a desire for beautiful things," said the drake, his eyes gleaming. "If you come with me, I will show you beauty that does not fade, loveliness that time cannot touch."
This argument swayed Mularos. He went with Athma, sparing nary a glance back at Goragan's remains. The azure drake lifted him gently in his great talons. Together, they flew, crossing a wide sea and a desert that seemed itself an ocean of rippling flame. At its boundaries was Athma's abode, a tower sized for a drake of his stature. It was carved from gleaming moonstone that drank in the colors of the day, never able to decide upon a single hue. When first Mularos saw it, it was suffused with the pink of an unfurling dawn. Brighter still were the rose vines that climbed the tower's facade.
"This is Feragas, the Tower of Ten Thousand Blossoms," said Athma. "It is your home."
And that was how Mularos came to be part of Athma's collection. He was only the latest bauble that the drake had gathered to his nest. Every chamber of Feragas overflowed with glittering prizes: jewels so bright as to make the stars seem dim, statues so lifelike they looked as if they might draw breath, even exotic weavings from the farthest reaches of the world and beyond.
Athma showed him all these things. Mularos's eyes were wide and hungry for all these works of beauty, but he yearned more for sustenance. Athma commanded that a great feast be made for the young Arkati, and his servants of many races brought out ambrosia, and sweetmeats, and a thousand other delicacies. The Arkati feasted until he thought he might burst, and the flesh came back to his bones.
At the end of the meal, Athma demanded that the loveliest piece of his collection be brought to him. This was neither jewel, nor statue, nor beast, but an Arkati: Maigra. She was a sight to behold, in a dress made of woven greenery clinging to a frame as alluring as spellsong. Long silver hair spilled down her back like watered silk, and her eyes changed their colors with as much fickleness as the stone of the tower.
She was beyond fair, but her true value lay in her power. She held within her the spark of creation. Hers were the roses that climbed the tower. Hers were a thousand pieces of clockwork ingenuity that roamed its halls, clanking and letting out musical percussion as they roamed the vast chambers. She was ingenuity embodied, and Atham prized her above anything else, even his beautiful new acquisition.
She swept down the central stair that spanned the tower from floor to peak, and the sight of her stole Mularos's breath from his lungs. She greeted her master and showed him all that she had wrought in his absence--clockwork crabs that scuttled and sang; berries that tasted as sweet as springtime; a song that could make the hardest heart weep for pleasure--and Mularos watched in awe.
And as he looked after her, she looked at him. His beauty woke new songs in her heart, fanned the fires of her genius. Maigra was as taken with Mularos as he was with she.
Athma saw this and was displeased. He sent Maigra to her works, and she left with some reluctance. Once she was gone, the drake turned to the young Arkati. Though his voice was gentle, his eyes were hard.
"All this is yours to do with as you wish, save her," he said. "Take your delight in any bauble, any trinket, any beast. Maigra is mine alone."
"I look around this place, at all of this beauty, and I see nothing I desire as much as she," said Mularos.
Athma was unswayed. "That is a burden of pain you must carry, then. For she is mine. Do not forget the kindness that I showed you, when you might have starved."
Mularos was cowed, and said, "I shall not."
He spent the next years wandering through the corridors of Feragas. He delighted at first in the great jewels, the diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires that shone as if with their own light. Their fire dazzled him only for a time. Then he lost himself in the music of a thousand instruments, each more spectacularly crafted and tuned and played than the last. Music could not entangle him, no matter how alluring. Having seen Maigra, the rest of Athma's treasures all seemed dim and unrefined.
Only the roses held his attention for more than a brief span. They were varicolored and immense, possessed of scents that could stir smiles on his face or tears in his eyes. They were also of Maigra's making, and that was reason above all others for Mularos to love them.
He came to delight in their scent and hue, and often spent his days walking the perimeter of the tower, reveling in the sight of new blossoms. Little did he mind the way the thorns dragged at his flesh when he walked through the overgrown bushes. In fact, he came to crave the pain, as if it was a personal gift from Maigra herself.
He was on such a walk, one day, when he saw her again. Centuries had passed since he first came to Feragas, and only the flowers held any delight for him still. So he was walking through them, and came around the bend of the tower, and she was there, form framed by the breaking dawn.
Mularos turned to walk in the other direction, mindful of Athma's rule. But she called after him, and without knowing why, he halted.
"What is it that you wish of me?" Mularos asked.
"Only to speak," she said.
"That is forbidden by Athma himself." He turned to go, but she cried out after him again.
"Athma is gone. He spends less time here of late. The drakes have gathered; for what reason I do not know, but he has gone to council with them and will not return for some days. Besides, it has been some time since he has paid any attention to me," she said.
Mularos was aghast. "You? But you are the foremost of all his prizes!"
"Once I was, but his interest in me has dimmed. He has moved on to fairer jewels than I," she said.
"There is no jewel more fair than you."
She smiled. "If you feel so, then sit with me, on occasion, while he is gone."
He agreed that he would. And from that day, the two spent much time together. They roved from the peaks of the eastern mountains to the western desert, finding amusement in the stunted creatures of the former and the short-lived ones, in silks of gemstone hue, who dwelled in a stone city in the heart of the latter. Every day they met, and talked, and sometimes loved.
Athma sent word ahead that he would return from the great assembly of the drakes, and this was the death knell of their time together. On the day before his return, a day much like any other, Maigra met Mularos in the shadow of the tower. Her fair face was wan, and the fire in her eyes was dim.
"On the morrow, he returns," she said. "And I know not how long it shall be before I might see you once again."
"Would that we could flee, but there is nowhere a drake may not see. And we have already challenged his will so," said Mularos. "I fear that you will fade into memory, and I will become as I was before our days together, lifeless and sorrowful."
"Then take this, and remember me until we can be together again," said Maigra.
She opened her hands, and in it was a most unusual blossom. Dark as heartsblood, it was trumpet-shaped and had a heart as white as was the stone of the tower by moonlight. At that moment, a breeze swirled past, and as it passed over the blossom, it awakened from the petals a melancholy sound like a lover's sigh.
Mularos took the blossom and held it close to his heart.
On the next day, Athma returned, and all was as it had been before. If the azure drake noticed how the fire in Mularos's eyes shone more brightly for the first few days after his return, he said nothing, probably attributing it to the joy of an Arkati reunited with his master. That flame guttered to embers as the days passed, and Mularos resumed his listless pattern of touring the tower's perimeter. He wore the mournbloom Maigra had given him always.
Athma cared little for the Arkati's moping, but he came to loathe the sight of the sad creature. He had selected Mularos, first and foremost, for his physical beauty, and that was diminished when he looked so pale and distraught. Though Athma was stern, he took little pleasure in cruelty, so he did not slaughter the Arkati for this. Instead, he took it upon himself to cheer the young creature.
On his travels, Athma had discovered a gemstone the size of a giant. Green and gold swirled in its depths in equal measure, and it shone with inner light even in its rough state. He ordered it brought to Feragas and carried to its own chamber, and arranged that Mularos would be on hand when it arrived.
Confronted with the size and shade of the stone, Mularos could not help but be awed. Athma saw this, and was pleased. He encouraged the Arkati to find renewed delight in the impossible jewel.
They met daily in its chamber, and they spoke with one another of many things. One day, Mularos even summoned the courage to speak to him of Maigra.
"Master," he said. "Once you took delight in Maigra. Is this no longer so? Never do I see you while away your time with her, as once you did."
"She has come to bore me. There is only so much pleasure I can find in her beauty and works."
"Then might I see her?"
To Mularos's surprise, the azure drake did not grow enraged. He merely considered the Arkati before him, and gave a heave of his great shoulders, saying, "I will consider it."
A stone is only a stone, and its entrancement over Mularos faded as the days passed. He began to resume his grey wanderings. Athma grew displeased again, but he could think of nothing in all the world to amuse his Arkati.
He thought back to the stone, and how it was rough and unrefined. He brought the most skilled of jewelcrafters to Feragas, and they set to work in cutting the stone. And this restored Mularos's interest once more.
He came to watch them work. They hewed away the imperfections. They shaped the facets. They made more perfect a stone that had previously seemed divine. The shine of the jewel grew, until it shone in the chamber like a green sun. And in this, he learned a fourth lesson.
At last, it was finished, and the jewel's shine was so bright that one could not sit in the chamber for long. But Athma brought Mularos there to show him the completed product, and he was pleased to see the green light answered by renewed fire in the Arkati's eyes.
"Are you, at last, happy?" Athma asked.
In that moment, Mularos saw why Athma put so much effort in keeping him happy. The drake was infected with the same ennui that plagued him, and if he could only make his Arkati's pleasure everlasting, perhaps he could find a bit of permanence for his own joy, as if it were light preserved in eternal stone.
"No," said Mularos, emboldened by the truth he had glimpsed. He bent and lifted one of the shards of the jewel, holding it up before his master. "This gem is beautiful, but it is a cold and unfeeling thing, for all its warmth. There is only one thing that can make me happy, and you withhold her from me."
Athma sighed. "I know this. But she is mine."
"Then let me go to her, and I promise that we will both bring you delight," said Mularos.
The cunning drake's eyes narrowed. "I offer you this bargain, because of the love I bear you. I give you three nights, between the two of you, to make me feel delight at dear Maigra once more. Succeed, and you will both be free to come and go however you wish, and I will think no ill of it. Fail, and you will never be allowed to see each other again."
Mularos bowed his head. It was not the bargain for which he had hoped, but it was the one he had been given. With trepidation, he ascended the stairs of the tower, traveling all the way up to where Maigra's chambers there. His heart was heavy with the weight of his charge. How could he guarantee that Athma, such a fickle drake, would love again a creature that had once been his most beloved? He knocked, and waited.
Maigra threw open the great doors to her chamber. She smiled when she saw him, a true and bright smile. Then she drew him inside.
Her happiness died when he told her of the bargain he had made. Distraught, she sat on the bed of shining silks that Athma had made for her. Truly, hers was a prison of velvet and lace.
"What shall we do?" Maigra asked. "I have tried everything I know, and still I do not please him any longer."
"You have tried alone," said Mularos. "Now we are together, and together we shall divine a way to freedom."
So he bedecked her in gold and jewels, and she donned her finest garb. She painted her lips and reddened her cheeks. That night, they went down to dine with the drake. He glanced up at them, and went back to devouring the fat lamb that had been slaughtered for him.
"Are you not pleased with her, my lord?" Mularos asked.
The drake rumbled. "I have seen her dressed before. It is a daily occurrence. Her body and face are lovely, but they do not move me as they once did. You have two nights more."
Little deterred, the pair planned all of the next day. Music, Maigra claimed, had always been one of her greatest talents. So, as the sun passed overhead, she composed a song. Its melodies told of how Mularos made her heart beat, and its harmonies whispered of her long sadness in captivity. He agreed that surely this would stir the drake's soul.
They went to dine with Athma again, and Maigra played her song. Her eyes bled sweet tears of happiness and sorrow, and when it was over, not an eye in the hall was dry. Not an eye but Athma's two, which were disinterested and cold.
"One night more," he said.
And now the pair knew fear. They had not between them an idea of how to impress the drake. Maigra's nails tore at Mularos's back while she wept into his shoulder. Their tears mingled in the moonlight.
"What can we do?" she asked.
"I do not know," said he. "Surely there must be some way to please him."
"The failure is in me," said Maigra. "I am simply not good enough in his eyes."
So the third day came and went. Night fell: the last night that Maigra and Mularos had together. Time came to dine with the drake, and Mularos went down alone. He ate, and felt the drake watching him the whole time. The interminable meal ended, and that was when the drake spoke.
"You are looking fetching tonight, in your robe of red," said Athma. "But where is Maigra? It is she who must bring me delight."
"She waits in her chambers," said Mularos.
"I hope she has used this time in planning well, then."
Mularos led the way to Maigra's chambers. Up the giant stairway they went, drake and Arkati. At the top, Mularos threw open the doors of his beloved's chamber.
What Athma saw within turned the bile in his stomach. Maigra lay abed, a tatter of rent flesh and clothing, still as if in death. Everywhere there was red, as if countless of her rose petals blanketed the floor, the bed, the walls. Mularos gestured to her, a fey smile on his face.
"What have you done?" Athma demanded, aghast.
Mularos looked to the unmoving woman. "She was a rough stone, master, and I cut her into a work of beauty. Does she not please you now?"
Then Athma saw Mularos as if for the first time, saw why it was that the pale Arkati had never long delighted in any beauty. He had been born of pain, and only pain could truly fill him up. It had been Maigra's pain and solitude that had drawn him, not any true love for her. And he had made an artwork of her agony, spilling her blood and potency out on the ground, the sheets, the walls. By the bedside lay a sharpened spar of green jewel; on her ravaged breast, a single mournbloom.
Athma began to weep, though drakes do not weep. But something chilled the tears in his eyes to ice. Maigra's chest moved. Mularos had worked with such incredible artistry that she still drew breath, broken and twisted though she now was. All the strength had gone out of her limbs, but they twitched like the limbs of a puppet on broken strings. Her eyes were open, and in them was torment.
The azure drake roared, and his roars shook the tower. Rage and horror left him in a deafening cry, and when its last echoes had faded, he was as empty as the thing that had been Maigra.
On the next day, the other drakes came, and Athma's cruel secret was revealed. That was the day they had all, in their council, decided to gather the Arkati and send them to the moons for their safety, for a threat was coming that would change the face of the world.
"I'm sorry," said Athma as the other drakes dragged Mularos from the tower. Remorse had filled the emptiness. "All I wanted was to be happy again, one last time."
Mularos, weeping and laughing in turns, was consigned to the darkness of Lornon. There, he was welcomed by the broken and blighted, who would become the gods of darkness. And as Eorgina, foremost among them, welcomed the shattered Arkati into her fold, she placed a hand on his shoulder.
"You," she said, "are Sorrow. It is all that you are. If you welcome pain, none can break you. If you embrace agony, any pains they heap upon you will only give you strength."
And embrace it he did.
As for Maigra, it is said that hers was a stranger fate, for Athma could not bring himself to lose her. He did not send her to Liabo or Lornon, nor did he end her suffering. He entombed her instead in a tower of green and growing things, and made her safe there. And there, she could work on her delightful creations until the end of time, mad and broken, the first victim of the Sorrow of the World.
And seldom shall be the soul that does not walk through His garden, whose flesh is not rent by the cruel thorns that grow there. Fortunate shall be the few who do not know His pain before the sky falls and the land is consumed by cleansing flame.
~ from The Shattering of the Fourth Moon, an apocalyptic treatise from the Age of Chaos, author unknown