Chapter 2: Remnants of the Devourer
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“Child of the maw. Draped in dusk.

Heed now, the call of the hungering.

Clutch the shard, the progenitor’s husk

And ‘low the voice o’ the devourer ring.

Walk these plains of verdant green

Through rolling hills of torrid sand

Carve a path to the rapacious king

And take the black under your command…”

In a dark and desolate wasteland, a man with dark grey skin and crimson red eyes stumbled through the ash and magma, his tattered black robes barely protected him from the unforgiving heat. Clutching a pulsating black stone to his chest, he pushed on until his legs finally gave out and he collapsed into the ash and dust.


Just as he slipped into unconsciousness, a massive Ryokan appeared and scooped him up in two of its four arms. The towering creature carefully carried him to a sheer cliff face and began to climb, easily finding handholds that had been punched into the mountain by the same creature.


The pair journeyed deep into the bowels of the mountain, eventually arriving at a massive blackstone castle that seemed to dwarf even the Ryokan. Its walls and towers were formed from towering columns of stalactites and stalagmites that had merged together over time, and the floors and walkways were made of smooth, polished stone carved by the rushing waters of a subterranean river.


He carried the unconscious man into the castle through a massive archway formed from the intersection of two towering columns of calcite. The interior was dimly lit by glowing fungi that lined the walls and ceilings, casting a soft, eerie light throughout the halls. The beast lay the man on the floor at the heart of the monument.


The throne room was a grand chamber with high ceilings and walls adorned with intricate patterns and designs etched into the rock by skilled artisans. The throne itself was a massive seat carved from a single piece of marble and etched with strange symbols and incantations. After ensuring that the man was safe, the beast left the throne room, each step causing the massive structure to tremble.

The man had awoken to the sound of a roaring fire and the sight of the Ryokan wolfing down a slab of meat. He sat up and examined the colossus before him for a moment before speaking.


"So, I guess I have you to thank for pulling me out of that relentless heat," he said.


The giant, with no mouth to speak of, aimed his massive eye straight at the man, flowing his response directly into his mind. "Think nothing of it! I don't see many people way out here anyway. I'd be real sad if you died out there," he said.


Despite being well over three times the grey man’s size, he noticed that the giant spoke with an almost childlike cadence. "You're alright with me, kid," he said. "What's your name?"


"Kirin!" the boy responded, smiling with his single eye.


"Thank you for your hospitality, Kirin," the man replied. "My name is Tetra." he said as he stood and bowed gracefully before Kirin.


"Tetra is a funny name," Kirin giggled. "I've never heard a name like that before."


"Well I can't say I've known any parents to name their child Kirin either," Tetra joked.


But then a grim expression washed over Kirin's face. "N-not that it's a bad name or anything!" he blurted, trying to save face.


"It's not that...I've actually never met my parents," Kirin said solemnly.


"Hmm...I see," Tetra said, moving closer to Kirin. "I'll let you in on a little secret," he whispered.


Kirin leaned into Tetra to hear him better.


"I never knew my parents either," Tetra whispered.


Kirin, shocked, looked at Tetra. "Really?" he asked.


"Really," Tetra said. "I've been wandering the world for years trying to find some proof of their existence other than this stupid rock." He showed Kirin the stone.


Kirin looked at the pulsating rock in Tetra's hand and said, "Ooh. It's pretty. Do rocks normally throb like that?"


Tetra paused for a moment before responding, "I would imagine not. However, the closer and closer I got to this place, the stronger the pulse got. I guess my progenitor was trying to lead me here for something."


Kirin's single eye widened in excitement. "Maybe you were being led to me. Maybe we're brothers!"


Tetra couldn't help but laugh at the idea, his voice echoing throughout the blackstone cave. "I'm sorry, my boy, I don't mean to laugh at you. I would find it remarkable if somehow we both came from the same creator. Though, I suppose we do live in a strange world. It's certainly far from an impossibility."


He looked around the throne room, taking in the strange inscriptions on the walls, ceiling, and throne for the first time. "Perhaps I was led here for you to find me. You and I would make a great team, don't you think, Kirin?"


Kirin nodded eagerly. "Absolutely, Tetra!"


Tetra grinned mischievously. "Good...I'm glad you think so..." He started towards the entrance of the grand hall. "Now.” He started before turning back towards Kirin, “How do I get out of this cave?"


Kirin let out a loud belch. "Oh! Excuse me." He giggled as he scooped Tetra up into his hand and led him out of the castle.


Rays of sunshine lit the walls as Tetra and Kirin advanced toward the mouth of the cave. Peering down, Tetra took in the desolate and unforgiving landscape that lay just beneath the mountain. The region was a gargantuan crater with the surrounding land scarred and devastated by the force of some prior impact. 


The ground was drenched in a thick layer of ash and gravel, with massive boulders and rocks strewn about. Any traces of prior vegetation had long since been destroyed, replaced by a wasteland of scorched earth and black stone. Focusing in on the center of the crater, a pulsating black aura could be seen ensnaring and consuming any aberrant creature unfortunate enough to get too close.


"There, Kirin," Tetra said, pointing towards the center of the crater. "That is where I must go."


Kirin's single eye widened in fear. "But, I never go to the center, Tetra. Everything that gets anywhere near there gets eaten by the shadow monsters."


Tetra held up the stone in his hand, which was now wriggling inside his palm. "The stone will protect us. Just trust me, okay?"


Kirin hesitated for a moment before nodding. "Okay, Tetra. I'll trust you."


Tetra outstretched his arm, pointing towards the center of the crater. "Then forward, my boy!"


Kirin bent his knees then took off, bounding down the mountain toward the center of the crater. As they approached the outer reach of the black mass, Tetra hopped out of Kirin's hand onto the scorched ground.


"Be careful!" Kirin blurted out.


Tetra turned back toward Kirin and gave him a smile and a thumbs-up before disappearing into the shadowy mass.

After a brief trek through the darkness, the stone flew out of Tetra's hand and into the air. An ear-splitting screech was heard as the shadow mass was violently sucked up into the stone. Once the last traces of the shadows had been absorbed by the stone, it dropped to the ground and clanged against something metallic.


Tetra bent down to pick up the stone, which was no longer throbbing, but now contained an eerie black glow. He noticed that the ground was strangely cold and wiped away some of the dust to reveal a metallic door.


"How curious..." Tetra muttered to himself.


He tried to pry the door open but couldn't find a good enough grip on it to do so. "Kirin!" he yelled.


Kirin's voice echoed back from the dust and haze. "Tetra! Are you alright?"


"Yes! Hurry over, I need your help," Tetra yelled back.


Kirin ran over to Tetra, whose teeth began to chatter more and more as Kirin approached. "What is it, Tetra?"


Tetra pointed to the metallic door. "See if you can open this door for me."


Kirin looked at the strange metal door for a moment before smashing the surrounding earth and ripping the door out of the ground. "Got it!" he triumphed.


"Well done, Kirin!" Tetra said, impressed. He peered into the new opening in the ground, finding nothing but pitch-blackness. "Well, Kirin, I have to see what's down here, but I'm afraid the passageway is a bit too small for you. I need you to stay up here and stand guard. Can you do that for me?"


Kirin gave Tetra a series of quick nods. "Yes, sir!" he said.


"Good," Tetra said, before disappearing into the darkness.

Tetra hopped down the passageway, landing on a cool stone floor. Torches lining the walls of the room sparked and lit as he entered. Three large chambers lined the back wall of the small room, with the rightmost one broken open.


Noticing this, Tetra quickly scanned the room for threats before his eyes rested on an undulating red and black mass, writhing in the corner of the room. Without taking a step, he held the black stone out towards the mass, which suddenly jumped, latching onto Tetra's hand and devouring the stone.


Briefly, a new voice permeated his mind. "Seek and consume..." it commanded in a vile whisper.


Annoyed, Tetra whipped his hand, flinging the mass onto the floor. "Tch. That hurt,"


The mass began to expand and writhe, and before long, Tetra stood before a shadowy copy of himself. The two Tetras inspected each other, mirroring one another's movements, each with a conniving look on his face.


"Mmm, nope. Not having it," Tetra said. His eyes flashed blood red and two shadowy black hands manifested around him before grabbing the doppelganger by the corners of its mouth and tearing it down the middle, as it unleashed a bloodcurdling cry.


Its form destroyed, the shadows retreated back into the stone, which Tetra promptly crushed underfoot.


"Are you ok, Tetra!?" Kirin yelled.


"I'm fine, Kirin!" Tetra shouted back. He inspected his hands, noticing his veins shifting between bright red and pitch black. He focused for a moment and manifested the same shadowy power from moments before. "It seems that I've got what I came here for," he thought…


Tetra climbed out of the chamber and faced Kirin. "Kirin, how would you like to have a family?" he asked.


Kirin's eyes lit up. "A family? I've always wanted one of those!" he said excitedly.


Tetra grinned wickedly. "Yes, Kirin. You and I are going to have the biggest family the world has ever seen..."