Krang awoke in the dead of night, his back aching and his mind racing. The dream still had a sharp clarity in his memories, and he tried to go over every detail again.
He had been standing in the blood-soaked fields of Duradaar, the ancient war ground of barbarian mythology. The land, trees, grass, and skies were all red, the deep crimson of freshly-spilled blood.
A fire raged before him, leaping ever outwards in its raging thirst, but never expanding. Krang had stood, staring at this fire, and backed away in surprise when it started twisting and wrapping and cooling, coalescing into veins and sinew and bones and muscle and skin and a somewhat apologetic face.
“Greetings, mortal.” Boomed Barbaros, the mighty god of the barbarians, the one and only god, the god of war.
Krang stayed silent, awestruck from meeting the very stuff of legends.
A drizzle began to fall from the sky; a drizzle of, unsurprisingly, blood.
The great Barbaros lifted a mighty clawed hand, and scratched the back of its fearsome head.
“Yeah, so, first off, sorry about this…”
Krang found his voice, but his voice was still searching for its confidence. “Uh, I, well… A-a-about, um, what?”
The terrifying Barbaros shifted his gaze awkwardly. “It’s just, you see, I needed to explain myself. The other gods found out about my little project and got into a tizzy over it, and started harassing me, and it’s really very unpleasant back home now, and Knowledigos keeps sending messengers, and there’s all manner of threats and really it’s getting a bit much.”
Krang was lost.
Barbaros sensed as much. “Yes, well, you see… I’m not the only god. I just tricked your people into believing that for, well, many reasons, but it’s biting me in the arse and I… You okay?”
Krang was not.
Krang stood in his crude kitchen, holding a jittering skull-mug of cool ale. He started sipping, and then just turned it upwards and poured it over his face.
He must be crazy, he couldn’t have actually met their great, and only, god. That great, and only, god couldn’t have admitted that the belief that had been the foundation for their fearsome barbarian civilisation was a lie, could he?
A dream, a delusion, the final plunge off the deep end that Krang had been moving towards all this time.
No, it couldn’t be.
Krang did the only reasonable thing he could do, and drank himself into unconsciousness.
The blood-soaked field, the blood-drizzle, the twisting fires, the booming voice:
“That was rude. This is hard for me too, you know, you should at least let me get the truth off my chest!” The almighty Barbaros sounded a little hurt.
Rage, a familiar emotion, swelled inside of Krang, overpowering the awe and fear he’d felt at first. “You!” He pointed an accusatory finger, “Are a liar! Or a figment of my imagination! This is a dream and there is only our one god!”
Barbaros issued forth a sigh that shook the earth and caused thunder to roll all around them. “Yeah, look, I said I was sorry. If I could go back and all that, but alas… Look, let me at least explain myself?”
Before Krang could think of any sort of reply, Barbaros continued… Mightily.
“It’s just, you see, it’s just that all the other gods had such stalwart followers,” The god almost pouted, “And all I got was dedication when people felt like it! Going off to war or the like, I receive glorious homage, but the rest of the time? Squat! I hardly think it’s fair, do you?”
Krang shook his head.
“So, while everyone else was busy, I got your people started down the right path! And, look, don’t tell any of the other gods, but you lot’ve been doing a stand-up job, I mean it. Very proud, myself. The rest don’t see it that way, though, and when they found out they were livid. Immortal conflicts are more trouble than they’re worth, neither of us can lose and it all-too-often just turns into a shouting match and… The point is,” the god continued, “They twisted my arm into selecting a prophet to spread the… ‘good’ word, and you were the best candidate. Krang, is it?”
Krang nodded, his defiance sapped by his god’s rather rapid talking.
“Good man, I can tell you’re the right choice. You are the closest thing to a philosopher in all the barbarian tribes, d’you know that? Very impressive, to some people I suppose,” the god looked aside sulkily. “So, Krang, do you accept the grand burden I lay upon your competent shoulders?”
Krang made to inform him that, in fact, he’d rather not, but again Barbaros out-spoke him.
“Good to hear, best of luck, be seeing you.” And with that, Barbaros and the blood-soaked fields of Duradaar faded into darkness.
Krang woke, a headache running rampant around his dazed mind. He, what… A prophet? Close to a philosopher? He shuddered, that was not exactly a good thing to be, he was sure. The dream seemed a lot more real, and, try as he might to refuse it, Krang could feel conviction burrowing its barbed hooks through his soul.
If his god, or, he supposed (with a small measure of sadness), his gods, willed him to do this, it was his duty to follow their commands.
Many barbarians in the past had claimed to have had visions or been visited by their one true god, Barbaros, and, in following their perceived orders, had secured unimaginable glory.
Krang felt that that was unlikely to be his fate.
His fate, in fact, was as unfortunate as he thought it might be. He had tried to spread the word, at first by explaining his dreamt revelations, only to be laughed at and scorned.
Next, he tried shouting, but even his voice could not match the many dissenting voice shouting him out in unison.
Then, he tried the traditional method of fighting the truth into others. In this he had a small measure of success, gaining two whole believers, before they were all driven out of their village.
Krang sighed as he watched a fiery sun set over the golden, dusty, plains.
He had a long road ahead of him.