The Praetorian Tap

The foundation legends tell us that our world and our people were once separate things. The first immortals were not made unto our world, but were brought here; snatched up by the gods to populate their new creation. The legends say that as a reward for their coming, each immortal was given one gift. They could let their imagination run free. Any one thing they wanted, they need only ask, and the gods would make it so. The immortals asked for many things. Mundane and miraculous, comical and austere. Millions of artifacts, timeless, all powerful, indestructible. Stories are still told of these mythic wonders. Treasure hunters still sail to the edges of the world searching for them, hoping to gain their myriad powers for themselves.

One object however is more coveted than all others, if one believes that it still exists. Perhaps the most devious of all the gifts, a request by surely the most cunning mind. The Praetorian Tap. Some of the immortals asked for staffs of great power, allowing them to cast fire, or summon storms. Some asked the gods for master keys, capable of unlocking any door. Others still asked for powerful wings, to allow them to soar through the sky, or mighty ships to carry them eternally across the seas. Not one, however. One immortal, whose name is lost to time, requested of the gods a great tap. A splendorous fountain, a bottomless well. White and blue and gold he asked it stand eternally on the ground in the city he built around it. Its waters were forever clear and clean, and upon drinking granted extraordinary gifts. It could extend the lives of mortals, cure any disease, and heal any injury. But there was a catch. Any oath sworn to the waters of the tap, could never be broken.

This immortal gave the gifts of the tap generously. He brought upon himself the aching and weary, the crippled and old. They came to the tap, drawn to its healing powers, and he let them drink of it freely, on a single condition. To drink the waters, they must swear to him eternal loyalty. They may carry on their ordinary lives. They may love and war and build, but when he calls, they must come. And they came. The miserable and helpless of the world came to him by the thousands, and each on their arrival raised their cups in oath to their new master, and drank.

The legends say this immortal was once a generous man, and just lord. Time, and power, however warped his mind. As his legions of slaves grew, he became drunk by the power of the tap, became accustomed the the unquestioning obedience of all around him. He craved it more than anything, this total control. It consumed him, as his followers consumed the waters of the tap.

In time he became discontent with the slow trickle of new subjects. It was not enough that only the unfortunate and desperate should come to drink of his fountain. Why not should all men bow to the power of one so wise and cunning? So, he brought war to the world. He spread across the land and seas suffering and misery as far as his influence could reach, as far as his blackened soul could cast its twisted glare. He burned crops, and poisoned wells. He razed cities, and castles, and farms, and all things in between. He wrought terrible ruin on all, those who stood in his way were crushed, those who fled were hunted.

And when he came and maimed them, stole from them everything they held dear, the tired, injured and starving, he walked among them, and offered them salvation. Drink, he told them. Drink long and hard of these waters I bring to you, and your ailments shall end. Drink to my empire, and my health, and you shall see a return of yours. They drank. Or they died. His empire grew, spreading over all of the old world, until only small pockets of resistance survived scattered in the wilderness. The many artifacts this immortal had brought to himself, their original owners dead, or sworn to his service, forced to turn over all they had to his hoard.

There was one artifact which remained outside his power however, one immortal who wielded it. This immortal had feared the power of the gifts of the gods. He had at first waited and watched. He merely observed as the many other immortals asked of the gods, and received. He observed the objects, and those who wielded them, then came to a decision to make a wish of his own. He had for he gods a special ask. The power of the gods, as all know, is boundless, and their creation eternal. Their worlds cannot be unmade, the power of their hand cannot be undone. This immortal asked for a single exception, however. He asked for one special device, one which could undo the power of the others. One which could rend them, and shatter them, and undo their spells. This was gift they would not give to just any man. A gift of such a nature could only be given to one true of heart, and sound of mind. One who would not use its power to dethrone the gods, and make a heaven in the image of their own mind. And so this immortal was tested, given countless tasks and trials by the gods, but in time, after decades, the gods relinquished, and gave to this one immortal a device which could undo their own power.

In the early period of the immortal reign, this immortal stayed played little role. Had he not been humble, not prone to greed or ambition, such a gift he would never have been given. He settled in a small town, and with a wife had a family and life of his own, and of no consequence to others. Tragic was to be his tale however. This immortal had taken as wife one of the most beautiful of the mortal breed, a woman coveted by all who would covet at all. In time tales of her beauty made their way to the master of the tap. He would have this woman for himself.

And so the praetorian armies set march across the land, spreading their unwilling misery to the lands where lived the man who could sunder gods. This immortal was not wont to violence, and so at first did not resist. Too late he realized the evil of his foe. By the time he and wife had tried to flee, the enemy was upon them. Using the power of his gift, the immortal was able to briefly ward off his foe, severing the bonds of servitude the subjects had to their master, but though he was able to escape himself, he could not save his wife, and she was taken to the capital of the praetorian empire. The mortal woman was loyal and true however, and refused to submit to the master of the tap. However, she was pregnant. The master took this to his advantage, and beat the woman, wounding the child inside her. Desperate to save her child, the woman drank the waters of the tap, and swore loyalty to the master.

This outrage the humble man could not stand. He swore then to use his gift to bring back his wife. This immortal would come to lead the resistance. He would make it his mission to destroy the tap, to free those subjected by its powers, and bring down the master of the tap.

I'm gonna finish this tomorrow, sorry to leave y'all hanging for now.
They shall call me, Draglide! The thread killer!

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