No one could know that the natural shifting of the climate would free him from his prison.
There he languished for centuries, frozen and locked away in his subterranean cavern. The Guardians warded his gaol, protecting future generations from his genocides. Once a murderous despot feared by all the world, in time he became little more than a legend, a nebulous evil used by parents to scare children into obedience. In time, no one spoke of him at all, and his memory was neglected and forgotten.
Tradition took the place of wisdom, relegating the Guardians to little more than a ceremonial force, conservators who watched over a memorial that commemorated an event few knew ever happened and even fewer cared about. In time, no one stood watch, and the seals of his prison became as neglected and forgotten as his memory.
Released from their original duty, the Guardians became protectors of the Aga and his family, a seemingly important task. Surrounding nations rose and fell, but the Guardians remained, safeguarding whichever sovereign might be holding the throne. Their noble calling, the atrocities that necessitated their existence, were neglected and forgotten as well.
Then the rule of the Aga came to a sudden and unforeseen end as the world reshaped itself. The world’s temperate zones succumbed to an age of ice, forcing mankind to leave their ancestral homes for more habitable climes. Frozen and forgotten, the north began a centuries-long upheaval. Earth became a capricious mistress unconcerned with the heartbreak and toil her changes brought to her children.
All this time, he waited.
His fathomless cavern, designed and built by his conquerors, no longer served as a secure prison. Carved and warded by the victors themselves, they could not watch forever, passing their duties to the Guardians. Those wardens, though they knew the words of their oath by heart, though it was carved in the bedrock of the prison over which they kept their vigil, even the Guardians forsook their posts.
In all their wisdom, those ancient stewards never foresaw all mankind forgetting the great evil trapped beneath the surface. None of them could fathom their children becoming so irresponsible as to abandon their posts and become more concerned with their own interests over the good of all. Nor could they have known the earth itself would turn against them, shifting and changing to wipe away all evidence of their work.
Ages passed, and still he waited.
When the climate changed again, the ice began to recede and mankind took the opportunity to spread out once more, exploring and multiplying to fill the emptiness. New empires spread their wings to reclaim the frontiers until calamity struck again, forcing mankind to adapt.
Epochs circled back upon themselves, and the poles became frozen wastelands once more. People abandoned the cities as the toil of living day by day became too difficult to allow for luxuries of civilization. Once mighty empires struggled against one another as their realms shrank, thinning out a population too large for the dwindling resources.
Lost to history, he waited.
Man, in typical shortsightedness, forgot all that had come before. When the ice receded again, modern civilization scorned the lessons of his forefathers, regarding themselves better and more capable of taming the world than those nameless legends of the past.
The frozen north shrugged off eons of ice, eroding the soil. Earthquakes rumbled through the mantle, cracking the bedrock and upsetting the lost prison’s place beneath the surface. Migrating glaciers carved the earth while deluges of water from the melting ice caps washed away layers of sediment. Landslides swept soil away until the most minuscule of passages, the tiniest of fissures, opened into his prison.
For the first time in uncountable years he smiled.
Time was ever his ally. Weak and powerless, he turned his face toward the crack in his dungeon wall. The barest gasp of air bled through and he concentrated all his hope upon it. The years passed and the earth settled down into a new age.
Free from its chains of ice, life returned to the north. Seeds and spores laying dormant in the soil began to sprout. Trees lifted mighty branches toward the sun, sinking their thick roots deep underground, surrounded by great swards of verdant grass. Creatures large and small migrated into the new frontier long before mankind returned.
One of these creatures, among the smallest of the small, set him free.
A single glowfly, seeking a safe haven to lay her eggs on a hillside, lost her way. Another of her kind had claimed the most promising spot, so she backed out to look for better shelter. Taking a left turn where a right might have better served her needs, she found herself headed the wrong direction. Instead of climbing back towards the surface, she burrowed deeper into the hill.
A tantalizing scent drifted across her path, sweet like nectar. Her instincts took over and she moved to investigate. Her little crack took her deep into the earth, lower and lower until it opened into a wide stone chamber hewn from the very heart of the hillside. The aroma filled the air and made her abdomen glow in anticipation.
Light, no matter how dim, shines like a beacon in the darkest places.
He reached up and snatched the little fly from the crack, holding her in his palm. Her tail pulsed with light and he fed on every surge. There was little sustenance in her meager offering, but she gave enough for him to reach out and widen the crack of his prison a little more.
Several of her kin came to investigate the chamber, seeking out the source of the sweet stench. Pulses of light filled the cell, reflecting like stars in his eyes as he fed. For every two bits of energy he siphoned he spent one widening the breach in his prison wall, bringing more of the bugs to come in and share their radiance.
Power trickled into his kojta, that place where body and soul intermingled, the seat of his stored reserves. From the kojta, he let energy seep into long unused limbs, restoring them enough that he stood for the first time in ages. He reached up and shoved his hands into the widening fissure, fighting with his growing might to pry it open. Stone crumbled, falling at his feet as the wall gave way. Dirt poured into the chamber and he struggled to wade through it to the surface.
He began to lose hope, believing himself destined to stay buried beneath the surface, but then his hand found the rigid root of a tree. He pulled upward and found another root further along, and then another, until his head broke through to the surface.
A full moon shone bright near the horizon, just beginning its ascendancy while glittering stars filled the heavens in their millions. He shuddered in ecstasy as their light suffused him. For a time he was content to stay all but buried in the ground as the pure light sated his starving kojta.
Finally, having all he needed, he waited no longer.
The ground exploded from around him as he surged upward, sloughing off the last vestiges of his prison. His moment of triumph almost stripped him of power, but not until he was able to raise himself to the top of the hill where he stood surveying his new domain. Dawn would come, and he would greet it with open arms.
The new dawn of the Sun King.