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Ben found himself surrounded by darkness with hints of a sickly green that seeped up from beneath his feet. Occasionally, it would crack the ground and billow into the blackness that stretched on eternally.
“Where am I? Where is everyone?” he asked aloud only to find his question unanswered.
He called out for the others,”Sin? Kronam? Rubricon?”
As he walked alone in the supposed valley of darkness, rumbles and quakes began to increase in frequency. He looked behind only to find more black. However, he found that it began to take on the green’s glow.
He began to hasten his steps fearing that something was definitely amiss. Whispers began to fill in the green-black void. Whispers of the promise of absolute power, glory, and the only way to defeat the Bear God.
Ben grabbed his head, “Enough!” he shouted.
“Benjamin, no, that’s not your real name.” A low voice rumbled.
“Who are you? Show yourself!” Ben yelled.
He could make out the hints of a grin in the specter’s voice. “I am here to aid you…friend. I will make you more powerful than you could ever hope to become. More powerful than the Wasteland Bear God. With the power to even rival the Maker himself.”
Ben caught himself grin at the thought. He shook his head, clearing out the false temptations. He wanted power, but he preferred earning it legitly.”But why?”
“Your mother gave you to the Bear God. He was supposed to watch over you…and your people. Now they’ve gone nearly extinct at his hands. He’s claimed to be the salvation of this world—savior of this land. He brings ruin, Benjamin. No, that’s not your name. Your real name.”
The mysterious voice paused then spoke once again. “So many years ago the prophet had stated you would rise from your slumber. ‘Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.'”
Ben dropped to his knees. His head began to pound with intense pain.
“You fight it? Why?” The voice asked.
Ben struggled through the pain to say the words, “I am…not…that…anymore.”
The voice sighed, “You know it to be true and yet you deny your existence—your heritage—your ancestry! You crave power and wish to ruin—”
“Because I have changed! A few centuries of dreaming and being by his side and the others has taught me things.” Ben cried as he looked at his claw.
“You may have changed outside but within you’re still the myth, the god—you are Khlûl′hloo!” The voice resounded within the abyss with the annunciation of the name. The floor quaked and cracked, releasing the green gas that boiled below.
Ben dropped to the ground. His head pounded near the precipice of total and utterly devastating pain. Images of battles with other strange beings raged on in his mind. A figure of a man from long ago from another time. The image of his reflection—his true self. His body began to shape with this image. His body started to grow, leathery and scaly, while tentacles started to populate his face. His head became slimy and bald like an octopus. His arms and legs became webbed, and huge magnificent black leathery wings protruded out from his back.
His body began to shape with this image. His body started to grow, leathery and scaly, while tentacles started to populate his face. His head became slimy and bald like an octopus. His arms and legs became webbed, and huge magnificent black leathery wings protruded out from his back.
The voice was silent, seemingly pleased.
“I—can’t fight it,” Ben cried.
Then he heard a familiar voice that pierced the darkness.”Ben, if you can hear us. You have to fight it! Don’t let it control you. You’re better than this. You’re stronger than it. You’re far from weak. So stop being a weak ass!”
“I can’t,” Ben cried again.
“You can’t or won’t?” Sin yelled.
“Listen, they cry out for mercy, knowing what you’ll become.” The mysterious voice added.”I don’t know if I can.”
“I don’t know if I can.”
Ben looked down at a puddle of green dark water, catching his reflection.
“The Ben I know wouldn’t give up.” Sin yelled. “He beat Jahn Trabolta and joined me on my adventures. You’re more than the small Mirelurk you once were. You’re my friend.”
“He is a fool. Give in to the darkness, let loose the rage. Become what you were destined to be—what you really are!” The dark voice boomed, causing everything to crumble around Ben.
Ben looked deep into his eyes in the puddle. “I know what I am. However, I gave up on that a long time ago. I promised Howard. I promised him that I would return but not what they had made me.”
Ben picked his head up and stared deep into the darkness that hovered above. “I am Ben. The Right Hand of the Wasteland Bear God.” Ben’s body began to change back into his more recognizable form, save for his claw hands were now just normal human hands and his old ghoulish self, became human.
“You can do it, Ben!” The others began to chant.
“You fool! You could have had all the power in the cosmos and been a god!” The voice shrieked.
“I am one. I don’t need someone to tell me that, let alone a weak fool from some other dimension who failed in defeating the most powerful entity in this world.” Ben growled as he stood tall and defiant of his invisible oppressor.
“And yet you fight your destiny and what you are? You claim you are a god and that I am weak? That I failed in taking your pathetic world?” The voice erupted into a maniacal laughter. “Such a hypocrite. Go ahead, claim victory. Live in his hollow victory. I will return and when I do…I will make sure to tear you apart first. Light cannot exist without darkness.”
Ben grinned. “I’ll be waiting and I look forward to your challenge…Diana.”
“It’s Diablo! You wretched insignificant gnat!” The voice boomed once more.
The green began to disperse around Ben and light began to radiate throughout the darkness.
“It’s time to go home,” Ben said to himself.
Home, he thought to himself. It may be a hellhole but it’s something we all are fighting for.
Outside, the others panted as they had been dealing with Ben’s fel rage. They breathed a heavy sigh of relief as they watched the green inferno evaporate from his eyes.
“Ben?” Sin asked.
A bright light emanated from Ben and in a flash, Ben had changed his appearance once again. Similar to his last reflection when he held back Diablo’s influence. Tall, lanky and pale with a very broad and defined chin. Small bronze spectacles adorned the brim of his nose, while black leather dressed his person.
“Oh what the fuck?! Come on! Now he gets to change into a human perfectly?!” Rubricon yelled, throwing his hands up in the air.
“You know you could have too if you just tried harder.” The Maker said aloud to them.
Rubricon grunted. He closed his eyes and in a moment, his rabbit ears flashed and shifted back to their old human self. “Oh, thank God.”
“Uh, yeah, sure, you’re welcome.” The Maker replied.
“Friends, we are victorious! We have bathed in the blood of our enemies, forced a formidable foe back from whence he came from, and we have gained a new ally…and friend. I say we feast tonight!” Kronam yelled as he gathered up everyone in a group hug.
Sin pondered on the idea. “You know what, Kro? You’re right. For once things are going pretty good for us right now. Let’s enjoy it.”
Sin placed a hand on Ben’s right shoulder as they all began to walk to the nearest settlement for rest and food. “I’m proud of you, Ben. Your mother would be too.”
Ben smiled. “Thanks, Sin. I couldn’t have done it without you and the others.”
“Yep. I’m glad I didn’t have to kill you either.” Sin piped back as he began to walk ahead.
Ben shook his head with a grin. The hunger for power was gone for his was awakened. His thirst sated—for now. Still, he wondered about Diablo’s threat. He shook his head and dismissed it. He knew they had beat him once and that they could do it again.