The Oppressors

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By EM Malachi

A thousand years ago, Eodon was lost.

 

Worldwalker Katalkotl held the torn scraps of his ceremonial tilma against his bleeding side. The warriors who had helped bring treasure, decadence, and human servants back to Eodon lay dead or dying around him, along with dozens of Myrmidex.

 

When a few Myrmidex had escaped captivity, the Kotl had believed that they controlled the only egg-laying queen and so the rogue insects posed no threat. Now the Myrmidex had returned, and in an initial raid, they had seized the Great Moonstone. Then, after cutting the Kotl off from the source of their most powerful magic, the Myrmidex systematically wiped out Kotl settlements and human resistance.

 

All attempts to quell the Myrmidex had failed. A newly-grown and modified insect queen was torn apart and consumed. The newest Kotl weapon, Zipactriotl, had driven the human servant fused to it insane, and the Kotl had been forced to abandon the project. Facing complete destruction and with no way to flee Eodon, the World-Builders had retreated to the underground sections of their great city. The Kotl had expected a long siege and planned to use the remaining time to find desperate new magics to combat the enemy. The Myrmidex did not grant such respite, sacrificing a million insects against Kotlan’s golem defenders.

 

Katalkotl kicked aside an oozing carapace to recover his weapon and headed toward the heart of the city. He needed to seal the Moon Chamber. It was the focal point for all Eodon’s mana, capable of opening moongates across the Ethereal Void. While dormant without the Great Moonstone, it was the only hope for the Great Work. If the few Kotl stranded on other worlds were ever to reclaim Eodon, Katalkotl needed to insure that the Myrmidex did not tear the Moon Chamber apart.

 

As he moved farther into the city, he heard the terrible screams as the Myrmidex onslaught moved through the human servants’ quarters. In the mayhem and ruin of the tunnels, he recognized the still forms of fallen friends and kin. Despite the cut of grief, he forced himself to push forward.

 

Narrowly avoiding a few Myrmidex patrols, Katalkotl came to the door of the Moon Chamber. It was guarded by the golden automaton, Yunapotli. A masterwork of Kotl golem-craft, Yunapotli was intelligent, strong, and loyal without fault. The tireless golem’s normally shiny exterior was coated in Myrmidex ichor.

 

Katalkotl spoke to the golem, “I will enter the chamber. Then you are to collapse this part of the tunnel.” The human-looking automaton considered for a moment before nodding slowly.

 

Katalkotl entered the Moon Chamber and looked up at the shimmering array of crystals and arcane geometry. Beyond being the threshold to other worlds, the Moon Chamber was an ethereal orrery and speaking history. He knew the Myrmidex could smell magic and would eventually find this place. They would dig through any amount of rubble to destroy it. He needed a scent that was more pungent to them.

 

He braced his weapon against the wall. This final part of Kotlan would not fall, no matter the sacrifice. Apologizing to those he had failed, Katalkotl fell on his spear. An illusionary construct of the Kotl, a monument to the Worldwalker, watched and remembered.

 

An hour later, a Myrmidex drone poked at a golden golem head with emerald eyes, making sure it posed no threat. It ran its antennae over the rubble briefly before moving further into the tunnels.

 

*****

 

Now…

 

The first moving stone stirred a few nesting birds. An hour later, the second stone’s movement was noticed by a Barako tribesman who quickened his pace along the path. Each hour, another stone slid into a new position, carefully aligning the ruin to compensate for a different millennium.

 

By the end of the day, the stone surface started to glow and pulse, faster and faster. Arcs of mana burned away the jungle’s encroachment. On the other side of Eodon, a shaman of the line of Intanya woke up screaming.

 

Kotlan, the City of the World-Builders, was open.