A tale from the lost Legends of Lazarus.
Aodh was in his prime, he was the leader of Irontown a small settlement on the southern border of the Dark Mountains which are known to be rich in precious metals and gems. Irontown was strategically placed at the base of the mountains with access to the mine entrances dug thousands of years prior by an unknown civilisation. The Dark Mountains are a dangerous place to wander, besides the steep cliff edges, freezing temperatures and winds strong enough to lift a full grown adult off their feet it was also home to plefora of demons, warlocks and monsters. This meant that the only safe access to the mountain’s treasures was through Irontown. For its size the town was a wealthy town, traders from all over the kingdom would visit to buy materials for weapons, jewelry and much more. Since Aodh was the head of his town, he was also the richest. It was said he was the richest in the kingdom that wasn’t royalty.
One particular afternoon one of his workers returned from the mines with a strange stone. It was roughly the size of his palm and glowed a dull pink. The worker presented the stone to Aodh, it looked as though it was half gem and half rock, not quite one or the other. Aodh held the stone in his hand and inspected it, he said “why did you bring me this, it’s a useless glowing rock. Unusual, yes, useful I don’t think so”. The worker replied, “sir, hold it close to your switched off desk lamp”. Aodh moved his hand clutching the stone towards his lamp, as it got closer the bulb began to glow, the closer it got, the brighter the bulb became. “It’s an energy source!” Aodh exclaimed, “this can’t be”.
He remembered reading in ancient books when researching the old mines about a mythical stone that was used to power machines of the past but the knowledge of the stone and where to find it was lost. “Where did you find this?” he asked. The worker replied “tunnel 973, deep within the mines. We broke through into a new chamber”. “How much did you find?” Aodh swiftly replied. “The chamber is full, floor to ceiling with these stones, thousands of tonnes of the stuff” the worker explained. Aodh immediately put all the workers on shifts working around the clock to extract every last stone they could find.
Energy was difficult to produce, you either burned wood or coal to generate electricity which was usually reserved for the rich or you used magic which was only used by those with magical abilities. For everyone else electricity was just something you would see in the big cities and certainly not something your average kingdom dweller would ever have access to. This was Aodh’s chance to make more money than he could ever have imagined. Unlimited energy! He could sell large chunks to the rich and tiny pebble sized pieces to the poor, small pieces over time would lose their energy giving powers which meant that he could keep the poorer customer coming back for a top up when they needed it.
After a few months of selling his power stones he had become incredibly wealthy, his greed was immense and he now controlled the main source of power for the kingdom. However the one thing he did not anticipate is, these stones came from nature and they are part of nature, tied into its ecosystem. Without one there could not be the other. As the popularity of the stones increased nature seemed to suffer, the forests receded and wildlife becan to become more and more sparse. The stones power came from the natural elements of nature, with the stones being overused the power that fueled them couldn’t keep up with demand. Food became short in availability, the lakes and rivers became toxic and storms ripped across the land. This didn’t stop Aodh’s greed to become richer, he had read something about this in the ancient texts but didn’t want to acknowledge the connection. A few years later the supply in the mines had almost run dry, he decided to begin hunting for more, however none of his workers managed to locate anything other than their usual haul of metals and gemstones. One particularly cold and dark night Aodh was sitting in his office drinking rare whisky imported from the capital city. From his window he could see the entrance to the mines, he noticed a dull glow coming from one of the entrances, the same dull glow of the energy stones. “Somones trying to steal the last of my stones!” he shouted as he scoffed down the last of his drink. He grabbed his long coat and headed out towards the source of the glow. As he got to the entrance the glow now shifted, it looked as though it was coming from deep within the tunnel. He pursued, chasing the glow deeper and deeper into the mountain.
He found himself within a particularly old part of the mine, a section long abandoned before he was in charge of the town, so old in fact it was abandoned before he was even born. The glow was now emitting from a single room with a narrow entrance. He peered into the opening and saw a dark silhouette of a figure standing motionlessly. He approached, “you! Thief! I know you’re trying to get your grubby hands on my stones!”. The figure did not respond, he walked over and slammed his large hand on the figure’s shoulder and forced it to turn and face him. A tall skeleton in a hooded cape stood before him, “what, what is this!” Aodh said in shock! “I am the guardian of nature, and you have abused it and all that rely on it, including yourself.” “What nonsense!” Aodh replied. The dead eye sockets of the skeleton stared at Aodh, the face emotionless and foreboding, “give up the stones and their power now and return to the old ways, this is your first on only warning, do you accept?”Aodh hesitated for a moment then sharply replied “I’m giving up nothing! What can you do? You’re nothing but a skeleton in an old coat.”
They stared at each other for a few seconds, but to Aodh it felt like a lifetime. The skeleton raised his hand, spreading out its spindly fingers and muttering the words “ You took from nature for your own gains, you are in debt, a debt you can not repay. I now claim you as the new guardian of nature, take my place and roam the land for an eternity until another with such debts walks appears for you to claim. You shall not eat, you shall not drink, you shall not take anything from nature for as long as you roam”. Aodh collapsed, his head hitting the floor with a hard thud.
The next day he woke up in bed, it seemed as though he had the most terrible of dreams he thought. He got dressed and made his way downstairs, he reached into the cupboard and picked up a loaf of bread, with one hand he tore a chunk off and shoved it straight into his mouth. The moment he swallowed the bread he knew something was not right. He began to feel a need to vomit, it became stronger and stronger. A thick tar like liquid erupted from his mouth spraying up the walls and cupboards. He remembered what the skeleton had told him,”you shall not take anything from nature”. From this moment forward Aodh could not consume anything, his body detiated and his flesh eventually fell from his bones. By this point he had gone into hiding in fear of being hunted down as a demon. He became a recluse and disappeared into the mores. It is said that he is still out there, wandering the hills, becoming more and more part of the natural environment around him. Although nobody actually really knows, it is said that he is now happier than he ever was during his life of riches and greed. He has found his place in the world, protecting it, living as one with nature. All we do know is that the next person to see Aodh will not be the person wanting to see him, if Aodh turns up on your doorstep, you have debts to pay which will cost you everything.