Author's Note: This was going to be a Cthulhu Mythos crossover, but I couldn't work out a way to smoothly fit in the requisite cameos of unpronounceable gibberish, and so it may be regarded as a 'rambling nihilism' crossover instead.
Completely ignores Shadows of Valentia's revelations about Grima's origins.
I'd like to say that I had my reasons. Some vast, dramatic, noble reason, the sort that retroactively justifies atrocity - at least in the minds of the people who weren't the targets - and turns it into a tragedy.
There were none, and if there's anything tragic in my story, it's that.
If you are vaguely aware of the history of my world, you are of course aware of the plague of madness that took my people. It was a greater genocide than the intentional one; I was told, after a millennium of thinking otherwise, that a few had actually survived on the other side of the divide, enough to form a community. The same cannot be said here. Scattered survivors may persist, each feeling themselves to be the last one walking the earth, but we are maggots crawling on the corpse of a dead race.
I myself was spared through no great virtue, only an accident of birth. At least, I believe I was spared. Perhaps my actions are due to a slower-moving form of the plague, and these are only the commentaries of a moving corpse, no better than one of my Risen. Wouldn't that be ironic?
It would also be pleasant to say that I tried to do something to save my people. Anything, really.
Of course, it would be a lie. In the days of madness, I turned and fled. I was never much of a fighter, and I lacked the great spiritual strength of my sister - yes, how amusing in retrospect, that I of all beings was a weakling. I took the human form I despised and hid myself among humans, trusting in my unusually humanlike appearance to disguise me as yet another refugee from draconic atrocities.
It worked. And, when the storm passed, it was because there were none of my brethren left. I was left alone.
Did their passing grieve me? It would be kind to say that it did. Yet it didn't, really. I'd never been much one for making friends. I valued them in the sense that they were my kindred, yet they never really regarded me as one of theirs. It was that human side, you see. They never forgave and they never forgot, until they forgot everything they were and there was nothing to forgive at all. I was a useful asset to them - nothing more.
I missed being needed, but I didn't miss them. That grieved me more than their deaths did. It was the death of an impression about myself, you see, and I was the only person I trusted; hence it was a true betrayal. I was lonely and alone and useless. I needed something to fill my days.
Music, history, philosophy: I tried them all and they left me empty. That's the problem with living a long time, you see. Walk among statues and marvel at their whiteness, then remember they were once as painted and gaudy as the fairest summer's day: so it is for everything after a while. I needed more. I needed to crack open those statues and lap at their blood.
Thus, magic. I was maturing somewhat, having lived a few more centuries by then; things that had once held no interest took on new dimensions. I wanted to understand the meaning of things in this world, the principles that undergirded all that they were. And so I undertook that task, as countless scholars had before me.
I had longer than they had to study, of course. I had forever. And, if I flatter myself, I had a natural aptitude. Perhaps it was inherited. I wonder about that, sometimes. The man is dead and there was too little of him left to ask, besides. Still, I wonder...
But I digress. I studied the natural world, and I was skilled at that, and I was fair to behold in my day. People flocked to me and hailed me as a sage. A kinder person might say they loved me. They needed me. They needed me, and used me for my talents, and if they deluded themselves and called that love, it had no more meaning than any other delusion.
I grew weary of their lies and the passage of their lives. The veneration of ephemeral beings is itself ephemeral; I wanted something in my life that would not be gone with the morning dew. I turned to deeper magic. I turned to the magic that describes the creation of this world, and the voice of all things, and the knowledge of all that is, the good and the evil.
Yes, it may be termed "dark" magic. Certainly I saw it as such when I was younger. I was a child then and wanted childish things: only the good, only ever the good, and none of the bad. I had my reasons. I told myself I'd had enough of the bad things, and surely I deserved some of the good.
I was such a child then. I thought the world cared.
I immersed myself in the muck, and found it was no different from the most rarefied air in the end. It was all part of the same thing, all part of the same rhythm and the cycle and the homogeneous mess from which all things come and to which all things return. The knowledge brought me no comfort and showed me no beauty. It only brought me dullness and grief, and the sharp pain of clarity from being unable to deny it was true.
I have walked the earth and beheld the things under the earth and within the mountains, and I have cast my sight afar and witnessed the things on the planets above. I have bestrode two dimensions and glimpsed, however much strain it was, the countless worlds beyond. I have known greater magic than almost anyone alive could fathom, and pierced the truths others would give their souls just to glimpse.
And I found nothing, nothing, nothing at the core.
This world is meaningless; this existence is meaningless; these words are meaningless, I myself am meaningless, and anyone who beholds them is meaningless as well. This is a joke and a waste and there has never been anything that was not a joke and a waste, and the mere concept is a joke and a waste as well.
Everyone I ever cared about meant nothing, everyone I ever hated meant nothing, and the difference between them meant nothing to anything at all.
I wonder if my sister saw that before me. Her sight was greater than mine; I wonder if she saw that, even back then, and that was why she chose to throw her whole life away for a fleeting dream of happiness. It would be madness to turn away from the truth and put out one's own eyes for a happy lie, and yet now I envy her more than ever. If I had anything that would block out my knowledge of the meaninglessness of everything, I would give my whole life for it too.
There isn't. All I do now, I do for spite. I do it so that the people quailing in my shadow can know what it is to lose everything they care about at the behest of an evil force they cannot comprehend - to see their friends and neighbors turn into mindless, ravenous beasts, and be forced to flee them in terror or else be consumed - to see every ideal they held thrown down and be seen to be nothing, to be trampled into the dust. I am the voice of nothingness, I am the wings of despair, I am the breath of ruin. Behold me and thus behold the world. My coming brings the end, which is as one with the beginning. I am the truest embodiment of all that is.
These words are the childish record of what was, for I will soon be shedding this face for good. One can't hold on to such things past a certain point, any more than a child can hold onto his father's hand.
Or come running to the sound of his father's voice. Of course, I can't be sure about that; it's only a suspicion that occurred to me long after the fact, which I denied for centuries, and which I've come to accept only out of insufficient interest in resisting it any longer. The thing that called myself and my sister out of the aeons was a shell of anything it had once been, its core completely rotted out and filled only with a longing for more power. I understand it far better than I did then. There is nothing else, really. If one refuses to embrace meaninglessness, the only thing left to clutch at is one's own meaning, and there's no way one can impress that upon the world save power.
It doesn't matter, really, not any more. Nothing matters. It's just a thought that might have mattered to a boy named Nils, who will be dying for good today, and nothing left of him will be left in this world. Save these final notes. Let him be recorded this way, in these words that no one will ever see; it means as much as it would mean if the whole world beheld it, which is to say nothing at all.
My ascension will be opposed, of course. Naga stands in opposition to me, him and all his followers - or is it "her", now? It's doubtful that there's anything at all, really; those trappings tend to slough off as one passes beyond the gates. I won't have them, past this point. But I suppose Naga has deemed "her" more flattering for the image Naga wishes to present, and so "her" it is. It doesn't matter, really. None of this matters. These features, this body, this self: none of it matters, Naga's or mine, and so I will cast them off and be done with them.
It will not matter which one of us wins, either - or, perhaps I should say, which one of us will win for this season. I will win all in the end. Nothingness always wins.
And there is no difference between victory and loss: no difference between joy and despair, and prosperity and ruin. Come. I will show you.
I will be, I am, and perhaps I always was -