The Veturium Tales Vol. 1: "The Brothers Envy"
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already read “The Rise of Tyus” and that means you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written so far. Earning support from people is so important and it means the world to me. I’m at a place in my life where I’m spending my days trying to get my life together and get my writing off the ground, and thanks to you I get to live my dream. These stories are my own original work inspired by a campaign setting I created for Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons.
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The brothers of life and death stood on either side of the volcano left in Tyus’ wake. Ka’lok, god of death, glared over the edge of the Cliffside as the waves crashed on the jagged rocks below. He wore a sneer on his face, turning away from his brother Lo’kol. Inside he boiled with rage, bitter and riddled with discontent. Brandishing his two swords, Ka’lok began to storm away from the crater full of bubbling magma, only to be stopped by Lo’kol’s hand on his arm. Ka’lok spun around, weapons at the ready with a murderous look in his eyes. “Don’t you dare touch me, brother!” He roared furiously as the magma began to bubble within the volcano. His swords were pointed at his fair skinned brothers throat. Lo’kol held his hands up, submitting to Ka’lok’s rage as the tip of the swords pressed lightly against either side of his neck.
“Brother… We must—“ Lo’kol was quickly cut off as his brother pushed harder with his blades.
“No! We mustn’t do anything! You don’t deserve what you’ve been given!” Ka’lok pulled his blades back. “You were given the gift of life, while I was cursed with death!” Lo’kol stared at his brother confused. The glowing green eyes stared back at Ka’lok who turned to walk away from his brother once more.
“Death is not a curse, brother!” Lo’kol urged. “We create balance together, we do not need to be enemies in this.”
“You’re a fool, brother.” Ka’lok glared back with his abyssal black eyes. “Our father chose you! It should have been me. He carved me in his own image, but he insults me by giving you life and burdening me with death.” Ka’lok snickered as he stepped towards his fanged brother once again. “You get to create and give the gift of life, while I’m cursed to take it away. You were given joy and hope while I was given sadness and despair. Everything you create, I must destroy. You were given everything and I am forced to take it away. Do you see my point now, brother?” He shook his head, grip tightened around the hilt of his swords.
“We don’t have to do it that way, Ka’lok. We can do this together.” Lo’kol stepped forward, but Ka’lok pointed his swords at him, halting his movement.
“We will never be able to be on the same side, brother. That is not balance. We are destined to oppose one another for all of time, accept it!” The rage boiled within Ka’lok as the magma roared within the volcano behind Lo’kol.
“I will not accept that! You are my brother!” Lo’kol pleaded, but it wasn’t enough as Ka’lok struck forth! The hulking creature cut into his brother with both blades, cutting into both sides of his torso. Lo’kol reeled back, pulling the whip-blade forth and snapping it towards Ka’lok. The jagged bones bit into his brother’s hardened flesh, the vertebrae-like edges cut like knives as Ka’lok charged once more. Lo’kol sent his weapon at Ka’lok as it caught his arm like a coil. Ka’lok used his superior strength however as he grabbed the whip-blade that held his right arm, dropping one of his own blades to do so as he pulled his brother towards him. Lo’kol stumbled into his brother’s off-hand blade as it dug into his abdomen. “Why do—“ He muttered, Ka’lok twisted the blade in the wound as his brother spoke. “Why do you hate me?” Lo’kol stared back into Ka’lok’s eyes.
“I don’t hate you, brother… I envy what you have!” Ka’lok roared as he ripped the blade out, shoving Lo’kol towards the Volcano. His brother had a confused sadness in his eyes as the volcano rumbled beneath. Lo’kol couldn’t bear what had quickly become of his relationship with Ka’lok. He struck back at his brother in retaliation, the whip-blade cutting diagonally from the left shoulder to the right thigh of Ka’lok, then back up from the right shoulder to the left thigh. Lo’kol would not stand down because of something he could not control, but it was clear Ka’lok was behind reasoning. Ka’lok was bleeding from his wounds, but on he charged with a powerful burst of jabs and elbows as Lo’kol tried to fend off his larger twin brother. Ka’lok knocked Lo’kol to the ground with a knee to the sternum as his brother went skidding across the stone. “Life is an adventure, but death is nothing but an ending! It’s not a release! It’s not an escape! Why should I carry this burden for eternity while you get to lift spirits and create adventure?” Ka’lok readied himself for another attack, but Lo’kol snapped the whip-blade at his face, wrapping it around one of his horns.
“No brother. You’re wrong! Death is just another stage of life! The soul never dies, it simply is reborn in another form. The physical body is nothing more than a temporary host for something greater!” Lo’kol struggled to fight back as Ka’lok went to rip his horn free from the blade. The tension and the struggle caused it to snap, breaking off as Ka’lok roared in immeasurable agony. The volcano erupted at their backs, the magma pouring down the sides, hardening slowly as some ran down into the ocean below the cliff. A cloud of ash began to form as Ka’lok and Lo’kol stood in a river of magma across from each other. “I’m sorry, Ka’lok.” Lo’kol moved to aide his brother, but Ka’lok let out a roar towards Lo’kol, knocking him back with the sheer power of his voice.
“Stay away from me!” Ka’lok stormed off, quickly vanishing as his body fell away like ash. Lo’kol remained atop the volcano, the magma running down the mild slopes around him. He was alone, but he had a plan to change that. Tyus gave him the gift of life in order to create a new and sustainable world on this planet. It was time for Lo’kol to ascend as the God of Life.
The Life Cycle.
In the aftermath of his battle with Ka’lok, Lo’kol found himself wandering through a forest. His whip-blade was coiled around his right arm like a bracer, his wounds had closed and his mind was clouded. He felt as though he was never going to be able to fix things with Ka’lok because of the roles Tyus had placed them into. Lo’kol felt nature grow stronger the deeper into Veturium he ventured as if he was radiating life itself. The thought to create wildlife began as inkling in that moment, sentient creatures with only their natural instincts to rule over their judgement. No envy, no jealousy, no greed, just survival. Lo’kol wanted to give life to the world, but he didn’t want it to follow in Ka’lok’s footsteps. He began searching for a medium to craft these innocent creatures from, he wanted to create a world where life and death could occur naturally, without intervention.
Ka’lok felt the darkness beginning to consume his essence. He journeyed deep underground where the darkness felt at ease, his soul feeling like it belonged. He felt his one broken horn as his wounds simmered and closed. The God of Death journeyed further from the surface, sending the odd punch into the stone caverns out of rage here or there. He was still wound up from the encounter with Lo’kol, but as he punched into one of the stone walls he stumbled across something strange. Deep within the veins of this cavern was a stone of glimmering red, something commonly known as ruby in modern day. Ka’lok began to punch away at the stones, trying to break through and uncover more of the ruby. He didn’t want to be alone in this world, he wanted to do better than his father and create something with life. Ka’lok looked at the dried blood of Lo’kol on his weapons then back to the ruby he had dug out. “Father, you have failed me, but I shall not fail Veturium.” He murmured as he began to carve a figure out of the ruby with his weapons.
Lo’kol failed to breathe life into clay like his father, and he found himself searching and failing. The looming threat of his brother around every corner as he tried to bring life to Veturium, he carried on, ripping branches off of trees, carving them and tying them together with vines. Slowly, but surely, Lo’kol began to create the first creatures of the forest. He began with snakes and serpents, then to rabbits and squirrels, working his way up to jungle cats and mammoths. He crafted the molds of these creatures from branches and stones, infusing his essence gifted by Tyus into each creation. Lo’kol felt his weeks of crafting and searching coming to fruition with no sign of Ka’lok since their battle at Veturium’s Edge.
Deep within the underdark was Ka’lok, finishing his sculpture of a shapely figure. He took the blood of Lo’kol, scraping it from his blade and onto the ruby sculpture in front of him. Slowly, the sculpture began to change and shift, the essence of life being absorbed into it while Ka’lok watched in amazement at what he’d managed to do. In a matter of moments a woman with red skin, dark eyes burning with smoldering orange irises, and dark hair stood before him. Then, in a flash, Tyus had appeared. “A tempest queen, the guardian of a devil and product of envy…” Tyus placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder, infusing a purple aura into her. “Laia… Tempest Queen, Goddess of Storms and Destruction…” Then he was gone. Tyus vanished and Laia fell into Ka’lok’s arms. The two looked lovingly at each other for a moment as Laia stabilized herself.
“I am Ka’lok, God of Death and son of Tyus. I carved you with my own hands and gave you life, and I shall treasure you until the end of our days.” Ka’lok knelt before Laia. “My Tempest Queen.” She motioned for him to rise, and so he did. She placed a hand on his chest with a wicked smile.
“We will be bound eternal, my devil. I shall never leave your side. Who has hurt you, my love?” She ran her fingers along the scarred wounds on Ka’lok’s chest. “We must hunt them. They must pay.” She grabbed his hands, staring into his eyes with the chaos of a thunderstorm in hers.
“It was my brother, the God of Life.” Ka’lok sneered. “But now I have something that he does not… He is alone, and I have love.” A sinister smile crept onto Ka’lok’s face. “He is on the surface creating life. Let us go.” Laia and Ka’lok locked hands and began to ascend to the surface in search of their prey.
Lo’kol walked through the woods, admiring the creatures he had created as more and more began to materialize from nature. He looked off into the distance where a collection of dark clouds crackled with lightning and rumbled with thunder. His curiosity got the better of him as he went off to investigate, only to be met with a powerful jolt of lighting once he was in the open. Lo’kol went flying back as the electricity surged through his bones, temporarily paralyzing his muscles. He struggled to get up, but was lifted off the ground by a hulking Ka’lok. His brother had returned with a woman by his side as the rain began to pour and the winds began to pick up. “Ka’lok… What is this?” He questioned.
“Fathers gift to Veturium’s savior.” Ka’lok held Lo’kol by the throat, tightening his grip as his brother kicked his legs. “Don’t struggle, brother. I can’t kill you anyway. However, I can take your place.” Ka’lok took his sword from Laia, stabbing Lo’kol in the chest violently. “I shall create a world beyond just your silly little wildlife. I will unleash chaos into life and leave destruction in my wake. I will destroy everything you create and make it better. I will give this world its only hope.” Ka’lok tossed his brother aside, grabbing Laia by the hand and leading her off.
Lo’kol laid on the ground in a bloody heap as his wounds closed ever so slowly. His brother felt infinitely more powerful than before, and with Laia by his side Lo’kol knew he wouldn’t stand a chance. He needed a companion of his own to rival his brother’s strength. He was becoming obsessed with defeating his brother, he felt as though he posed a threat to the worlds very life force. He made his way to the coast, wandering the bottom of the cliff where the magma had cooled as waves splashed loosely on the igneous rock beneath his feet. He began to carve into the obsidian like a mad man. Lo’kol obsessively worked to sculpt a creature of his own, this figure bigger than himself, muscles like Ka’lok and a strong torso. He took two weeks at the coast, forging this sculpture out of obsidian and using the waves to erode away it’s imperfections, smoothing the stone. Lo’kol fell to his knees, collapsing from exhaustion as even the gods had their limits.
Ka’lok and Laia had begun creating different species of sentient creatures with the blood Ka’lok at stolen from his brother in their last encounter. Ka’lok began to create societies of creatures from various different realms of his own mind. Humans, Dwarves, Orcs, Elves, and various others materialized all over Veturium, Ka’lok had created unpredictable creatures with the capacity to be great heroes or greedy and despicable villains. Laia held Ka’lok, admiring the work they had done at the expense of Lo’kol. “Your brother spirals into madness at Veturium’s Edge.” She spoke softly as Ka’lok ran his hands gently through her hair. “He desires to defeat you. He believes it will restore balance to this world.” Ka’lok grunted.
“My brother is a fool. There is balance so long as there is life and there is death. He shall create more and more in an effort to defeat me, but I no longer envy what he has. I’ve got you.” Ka’lok grinned at his partner.
“But he now envies you, my darling.” She rested her head on his arm as they settled into a comforting position within their current hole in the underdark.
When Lo’kol awoke, he was being carried by a fair skinned woman with long red braids, brown eyes, and finely shaped muscles. “You… You’re alive…” He muttered faintly. She smirked, placing Lo’kol gently on the ground. “How is this possible? I thought I had fainted before you came to be…” He was perplexed.
“Tyus gave me life and knowledge. You are Lo’kol, the God of Life, and I am bound to you for eternity. I am Vis, the Goddess of Knowledge.” She held out her hand for Lo’kol. He accepted it with a grin. “I am all knowing. I see that Ka’lok has damaged your essence, and his partner has given him something that you sought in me.” She turned away, beginning to walk towards a forest in the distance.
“What does he have?” Lo’kol questioned, following her lead.
“A purpose.” The storm clouds left in Laia’s wake began to part, but the skies remained dark as night fell over Veturium.