Lords of Creation: Chaos Within (IC Thread)

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~Agni~

A chorus of screams like rusted iron on slate shook the mindscape, and the spirits vanished, allowing the god-puppet of Artun to slump limply. One of the god's hands flung open and a small green bundle shook free.

It landed, straighted itself, then glared petulantly up at Agni. "And what of me, then, Fire?"

Leaf's voice was unmistakable, as was his form -- this was no Brother Branch nor Father Thorn, but Leaf all thesame. "Artun was punished by his master for bringing your plight to my attention. And yet, for all the risk involved in your rescue, how do you treat me?"

Leaf spat, a small puff of pollen landing near Agni's feet. "Left me for dead, and move on with your life. Some vassal you are, to so quickly abandon his duty to his liegelord."

And though the darkness had fled, still there were echoes of TASOE's voice.
"Die." spat TASOE. "Die abashed and ashamed, you smouldering cinder."
---The Abyss---

A great rumble took hold of the caverns. Clouds of black, almost metallic frost gushed out from the fissures in the walls and across the plated floor. The thunder of sundered stone and the screech of fractured ice pierced like the wail of a god into the ears of the intruders. There was a terrible pain masked in the howl... and a pulsation of ecstacy. The taint within them, which writhed about worm-like, squirmed with hateful pleasure. The bitter cold of the Abyss was suddenly wreathed with the fawnful, wild joy of a child realizing that perhaps indeed the stars were within reach. A flood of familiarity nearly drowned the gathered dragons, as if a terrible, ruthless enemy had been killed. Was it relief... or bloodlust that gripped ahold of them?

The crowds of souls scattered, weeping tears of madness. They flowed in and out of one another untill the ancient bore the face of a newborn, the heart of a stranger, and the malevolent grin of an old friend. Many of them surged forward, into the wall carving. Their otherworldly lantern flickered weakly, the flames felt more compelled to wander than to dance.

A terrible wave of acid, milimeters deep, began to pool out from the crevases and unto the floor. The stench of festering wounds drew stronger. The dragons had to move, if they could.

Something was coming... 

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.

~Abyss~

Paren swore, letting out a stream of invectives that was drawn from half a dozen languages, including several that hadn't been spoken yet.

I was worried about this.  It seemed foolish to assume that we could just wander about in here without alerting some sort of sentry on the Corrupted One's prison.  Regardless of whether this is one of Agni and his kin's doing, or one of Azgo's make, it matters not:  We cannot be caught.  Fly with me, now!  We must find and recover the Sun before we are caught.


The dragons burst into the second cavern of the Abyss, a massive tangle of vines, thorns and twisted wood permeated by the stench of decay.  Paren barely gave them a thought before lashing out with magma, burning a path through the vines.  

Search for a way further in!  A prize as precious as the Sun would be stored at the deepest level of this place, and this is not it.

As they flew, ice/fire/magma/acid clearing a path, Morenth said to Cantorix: "What lies at the core of this place, Cantorix?  Do you know what we must face ahead?"


As Paren flew, he felt more than saw the vines reaching out towards him, trying to grasp him and drawn him down to the floor below, where souls innumerable waited, grinning up at him with sharpened teeth.  Paren shuddered and redoubled his efforts.  Somewhere here was a portal of some sort, and he would use it.

~Agni~

A wave of remorse flowed over Agni, but the medallion on his chest pulsed once, and the emotion vanished as as Agni laughed.

This was the weakest attempt yet, Evil One.  I did not know Leaf had died, I was tricked into believing he was still alive, otherwise I would have lended him aid.  That said, it was not my fault that Leaf died, nor do I particularly care that he did.  My swearing of fealty was nothing more than a convenient lie.  I, Agni, the FireLord, the Enkindler do not swear oaths to any man or God, especially not a tiny bit of flammable material such as He.

   Agni
breathed out, and the little Leaf-avatar burst into flames, screaming as it died in flame anew.  The talisman's mosaic was further filled in, waves of citrine surrounding the still unrevealed center image in a ring of fire-bright stone.  The sword grew brighter still, and Agni waved it before him, driving the darkness back.

I grow tired of this.  Do you fear me so, to test my concience?  It is clean.  Reveal yourself and fight me, or are you a coward, Evil One?

Angry hissing filled the darkness, surrounding Agni in a cocoon of echoes and uncertainty.  The darkness rushed back in....
As the whirlwind of their breaths blackened, curled, dissolved and ultimately slackened the reach of the grasping tendrils, Sneferu's thoughts migrated. This was Death, he thought, the final damned pit of tormented souls? His eyes traveled from his work, swivelled to examine the teeth that snapped and the eyes that hated just beneath their feet. He examined the cruel faces, even as his firebreath washed across them, making them scream, making their skin bubble and blacken. The faces were cruel, demonic, made more so by the lash of his flame, but they were not uniformly so. Here and there Sneferu noticed things, like a set of eyes here which, even when twisted into a scowling sneer were an unmistakeable, shocking blue. And there, beyond that, a face with one long scar running from below its left eye to just past the bottom lip. The one beside it had a proud, jutting jaw. Sneferu himself had just such a pronounced jawline, and so had his father before him.

Sneferu was snapped from his reverie by the shouts of his comrades. They seemed to have breached the dense thicket and accessed some sort of inner sanctum. There was a circle on the floor free from the snapping faces that Sneferu remembered, and when the dragons alighted upon it, the tendrils retreated, weaving together to form a dense and imposing canopy above and around them, and the faces grew still, ceasing their snapping and closing their spiteful eyes. They were safe, for a spell in here, though a circle of fire lilies blossomed around the perimeter, pointing their wicked barbs and thorns at the group as though readying them. Sneferu had once picked fire lilies by the banks of a great river in the summer of his youth, and had been disappointed then to find that his talons would rip them to shreds even as he plucked them from the earth. Somehow, he felt these blossoms would not be so delicate.

But the most significant thing by far about the sanctum was in the centre, where there was a great big pit. It was filled with a milky-white liquid which boiled and bubbled. The colour was flat, and yet held a depth that seemed only possible in this most infernal of places. The dragons felt, as one, as though the only way further was into this mysterious cauldron. Yet each felt immensely reluctant to actually take the next step.
~Agni~

...And was then vanished, abruptly gone. There were no insidious whispers, no creeping tendrils striking from the corners of one's eyes...

Agni spun in confusion, certain some new attack was about to come, but the mindscape was calm. For the first time since their fight had started, Agni's mind was... quiet. Empty.

Reveal yourself and fight me!

"Fight... me..." Agni's own voice echoed back at him, and for many moments, there was nothing. But wait -- what was that, very faint. A sort of whistling sound, as if a hundred hundred rocks had been hurled through the--

Agni could not help but flinch as thousands of stone spikes suddenly needled the mindscape. They rained fiercely down upon all sides, but none even grazed the god of flame.

The deluge of rock lasted for more than a minute, then abruptly stopped, as suddenly as it had began.

Is this supposed to be some attack? Your aim is poor, Evil ones!

Again, Agni's voice echoed off into nothingness. And as before, for many moments, there was nothing. Then there was a groan of flesh, and Agni looked up in shock to see Marcus.

Marcus' body slowly crumpled, and Agni only barely flitted out from underneath the god's bulk. His body hit the ground with a muffled thump, and then again, silence.

"Die." spat TASOE. "Die abhorred and unrepentant, you sinful scourge."

---
~Agni~

It was him.

The fact that Agni had only actually seen him in Life for a moment did not in any way diminish the holes being ripped into his psyche by the grief and remorse that flooded him.

This was the one who had saved him, the one that had helped him to free himself from the darkness that had been TASOE and the Behemoth.  

The one he had killed.

A name floated upwards:  Albertus.  Agni wasn't actually sure that was the God's name, but it seemed a good as a name as any.  Albertus lay dead before him, once more.  But where before the other had been small, now he was large compared to Agni, looming like a mountain range over the diminishing God.  

What could Agni do?  This was the one being to whom he owed the most, and to whom he could never repay his debt.

Agni continued to shrink, or perhaps Marcus continued to grow as Agni's mind grew trapped in a perilous loop, trying to determine the best way to honor the dead and only coming up with not letting them die in the first place, only to be confronted with the image of the God screaming in Pain as Agni covered it with Magma.

And when Agni had grown so very small, Marcus rolled over.  Suffocating blackness surrounded the God, but this time he did not struggle.  How could he struggle against one who had every right to be angry?  If his death could repay his debt in even the smallest of ways...

~The Outside World~

Agni's eyes began to glow with a soft greenish tinge, and a low growling laugh began to reverberate throughout the region.
---The Abyss---

Cantorix froze... waiting. His muscles coiled with the anticipation of battle, and his eyes twitched at the slightest movement. He scarcely breathed. 

...

But nothing appeared. An uneasy silence stretched like a thin membrane over the collective intruders. It seems that whatever had approached them had been thrown off their trail.

For now.

Cantorix reluctantly relaxed, taking a deep breath of the vile, humid vapors pouring out from the verdant undergrowth.Everything had changed so quickly that at first Cantorix had presumed himself dead, claimed by the forces gathered here. The caverns had been a haunted, lonely place of eldritch lights and unmelting veins of ice splitting open rocky collums. The darkness at the end of their lantern had been a patient, starving thing eager to swallow them in the passing of ages. But here, it was as if it was an entirely different god that ruled here.

Everything was... crowded, choking almost in its over-abundance. Pale, yellow Light passed through the miles of oily canopy only to vanish into the mesh of the mossy gardens. Trees blighted with blackness and rot had little room to fall over; new trees and parasites grew directly out from and between the previous generation. Some groves were so devoid of life that eras of trees fell apart into a pile of mulch at the slightest breeze, of which there were few. Clouds of insects droned in the upper reaches of the canopy, and crawled aimlessly between the root clusters fused with the ground itself. The taste of pestilance was thick on the tognue and stained the back of the throat.

Cantorix coughed violently, trying desperately to rid his mouth of the taste.

"The core... of... The Abyss?!... Some say the very founda...tion of the Wounded... One's throne... The Godcrater of yore. It-"

He would have continued, if the distant calls of Craterspawn had not rendered his speech inconprehensible. 

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.

---The Giant Mangrove---

Rain lashed and beat on the soft shores with the weight of hail. It soaked into the coiled mesh of rope, into the pounds of soggy silk drapped on the shoulders of halfling sailors, and into the churning skin of the ocean. The sounds of sloshing waves and toes drowning in the confines of leather boots was inescapable, even in the lowest reaches of the hold. Hearts were as dark as the storm-clouds, hellbent on lashing out in return on... anything truely. It was a foul, wet day.

Husks of crowds and crews huddled together under scant roofing, sucking in pot bellies from the relentless water curtain that seperated them from the street. Taverns and broken-into homes were fit to bursting. They squirmed at the tables and on the stairs like fish thrown from the net into a basket just a few inches too small. Leaks were common. Fights were more so, often because of the former. Hours passed. Nothing changed. Tempers flaired and sputtered to death under the brutish paw of the rain. 

And then there was a buzz in the streets, a motion against the currents, a rallying. The pressure within the taps and the houses leaked suddenly and violently, spraying schools of sleek people out into the streets. They crowded together on the decks of ships and leaned over the edges of the piers, all peering into the storm's embrace.

A fleet of battered ships could be seen behind the waves, pulling cautiously forward. Foreign sigils and artwork was carved into their furrowed prows. 

A bone-chilling cheer tore through the storm, as if a bolt of lightning had crashed into the shipyard. The crowds piled into the anchored ships, drawing steel and lossening ropes. The taste of blood was wet in their mouths, warm and metallic.

By the time the cutters were loosed from port, the initial volly fell like thunderbolts. Between the rain and the stormclouds, only a few crew members saw the barrels before they landed. A half a dozen crashed on the pier, and another half dozen on the outlying ships. One or two landed in the sea and were swept beneath the woodwork, useless. The halflings beneath the barrels were crushed, and those beside it were shredded with wooden shrapnel. Thin, slick liquid washed entire decks with a greasy coating. The hafling pirates were baffled, but the conformation of violence sent their hearts aflutter with murderous rage. More and more ships left the cove, headed out to aggressive welcomings.

The foreign ships plowed forward, firing barrels farther and farther inland. The waves toppled beneath their prows, bleeding white froth along the edges of the armada. The black, roaring face of the stormcloud bellowed with anger: anger for deeds long since past and generations long since dust sinking into the depths of the ocean. They were his children, and their toys were of tempered steel and tempered hearts.

The pirate vessels sauntered boldly forward. Balistas were cocked, armaments loaded, sails drawn low... and for the briefest moments there was a profound sense of calmness thin as mist across the choppy water. Only the rumble of thunder was felt in the bones of the men and women, and even then it was a strange and distant thing. They waited.

...

And then they glimpsed, just by chance at first. Fireflies in the distance, flickering orbs of rusted orange swept up in the storm's anger. Any eye that beheld them was instinctualy swaddled with parental fondness for the helpless lights. Any time the orbs flickered or sputtered out they gasped, slowly begining to wonder what they were in the first place. The lights arced skyward in a great swarm, descending on the halfling fleets.

From the deck of his galleon, Admiral Davus stood like a statue, the lights of the blazing halfling ships reflected fiercly in his eyes. The cutters in front lost control and swerved into the paths of the following ships. As the rain fell, the fires burst into salty infernos across the sails, the ropes, the deck, the hull... They sank, and the halflings drowned.

"Admiral, orders?!" asked a faceless sailor, one of countless. He had never seen destruction on such a scale. The pet Insuannen stared out from its cage, transfixed with the fire.

"... Full speed ahead."

OOC
The Royal Fleet of The West has landed  on the Elder Continent. They begin a campaign to destroy resistance and conquer the natives whose ancestors persecuted their own. Over the course of time, they will spread themselves dangerously thin in the pursuit of Azgo's will.


---The Ruins of a Hall---

Silence.

.....................

For the longest time nothing had the audacity to approach the corpse-god and the god-corpse. Dust did not stir, the air was frozen as stone, even light was cautious in its approach. It was as if existence itself wanted nothing to do with Him. A cosmic blind eye fell on them, in the very depths of a... crypt, Yes, a crypt. Broken statues gazed into the blackness, still awash with crimson color. A vestige of Primal power lingered here though not of its own free will. Spirits of life and leaf and greenery had nestled into their own cocoons of blight. Veins of toxins glowed from under the skin of the cocoons. Maggots and locusts poured like living pus out of the cracks, dying swiftly in the sheer cold. Breeding...

Azgo clutched at the corpse of Pruinus, holding her close. To be simply put, there are no justice in words for those moments. They simply were, and Azgo wept. HATE shuddered in its core.

Eventually he spoke over his shoulder. His voice was hollow, stripped of flesh untill his voice was a grating mechanical rumble... somethign that never could have been a god to any listener.

"...Ka'Vah."

The Eclipse Aflame hovered a good distance away, still enraptured in the horror of his new role in creation. He didn't say anything, but both of them knew that he had heard that monsterous whisper.

"The peoples of the Elder continent cry out for salvation... We shall answer them. I give to you stewardship of my soldiers..."

He lapsed into a temporary silence, but not due to breath. Occasionaly the horror of what had transpired, and what had lead up to ...IT, suddenly seized him in all its honest brutality. He wept.

"Take them, and meet the pieces of the Behemoth that my siblings have refused to deal with."

Ka'Vah simply floated away on the wind. He did not even consider disobeying. He was in far too deep now, and it was too soon. And so the exarch slipped between the veils of the ether and into the Abyss.

Azgo waited for a time. The pain was... intense, and distracting. Eventually he plunged his hand into Pruinus's body. There was no resistance in the ice. It was disturbingly normal, quick to break and quicker to melt like morning frost under the sun. He ripped nothing out, broke nothing inside. With surgical precision, he lifted a frosted heart into his hand. It was certianly whole, but Azgo could tell it was broken in its own way.

He would make use of it later on. When the world was secure... after all, he needed Agni's assistance... for now.

OOC
Create Populace: A new brood of primal spirits has arisen from the the lingering taint of Azgo's touch. They are spirits of death, of poisen, stagnation, smoke, blood, parasites, scavangers, rotting, and pain. They are concentrated around the Crown. Eventualy, when the Nix realize that Pruinus has abandoned them, many will turn in worship of these spirits who at least can hear their prayers. This will lead to vast amounts of civil war and degeneration into barbarity. The image of the Nix will fall into bloodthirsty beasts.
Create Artifact: The Heart of Pruinus is in the possesion of Azgo. By itself, it is of little use, but as the focus of a divine will, it can unleash blizzards to freeze gods in their tracks.


He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.

---Sil Peraz---

The intoxicating fragrance of burning sugar and sea salts wafted out from the fireplaces, clinging to the silken pillows scattered about the floor. A score of dwarves wallowed in the smell and licked their fingers with eagerness. They whispered to each other, admiring the pounds of jewelry and elegant tattoos the other had and predicting the best condiments to come. Only one dwarf kept to himself. She was a young, pretty thing robed in black felt and self-consciousness. Her fingers drummed across the low tables, waiting for only Thereus knows what.

She turned to the corpulent dwarf next to her, who seemed entrenched in his own fat. In fact, all of the dwarves were rather large. It was... grotesque to be honest.

"Uhh, excuse me?"

The dwarf met her timid ga
ze. "Yes?"

"Where is the... silverware?"

The dwarf laughed, though it was a laugh devoid of all humor. It was a booming, cynical laugh that made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.

"I take it this is the 
first time you've dined with us, isn't it?... There is no silverware." Spit and scorn dribbled down his many chins. "Thereus gave you hands, has he not?! Use them. This is a place free of earthly... civilities. Believe me, in time, you will learn to love it."

A few awkward minutes passed. Sweat collected on her brow and in the palms of her ghost-white hands. Then a handful of servants, each as burly and large as the guests, brought out a chain of plates and bowls and racks of spices. There was no ceremony, no toast or prayer. As soon as the foodstuffs were in arms-reach, they were grappled by grubby fingers and dragged into the maws of the dwarves.

A magnificent array of plates and alcohols were laid across the tables, needing constant replacement. Lightly seared fillets of Crown-bred trout, armfuls of fresh fruits left to soak in dwarven ale, roasted golden chicken stuffed with a winter berry/breadcrumb paste, caramel puddings, sugar crusted nuts, entire heads of lettuce and cups of oil dressing, stinking skin-thin cheese slices... and the alcohol! Oh the brandies, the honeyed meads, the crisp, smoky ales! How many barrels did they have?! There were too many to count.

Leftovers, were pushed sloppily off the table and unto the floor in small piles of skins, oily fats and small bones. Servants crawled under and around the table on their knees, gathering the trash... and swiftly eating it. The floor and tables glistened with cooking oils, and the dwarves glistened with saliva and sweat.

The guest picked distractedly at her food. There was a deep, twisting knot in her stomach, and it certainly wasn't from hunger. She noticed that only one chair was unoccupied, and it was at the head of the table. The chair was remarkably smaller than the plush cushions laid about. The stain of red wine had settled deep into the woodwork.

The guest nudged her neighbor, who seemed to have forgotten that she was here at all. He let out an indignant belch.

"Yes?! What is it? Not enough bird? Or Fish? Just grab it, don't ask me!"

She adjusted her collar nervously, "Umm, no. No. I was wondering... where is... your superior? He invited me here on..." She choked a little on the words he had used. "Casual business."

The dwarf replied through mouthfuls of crunching lettuce.

"Ahhh... So you're not a... I see now. He has... lost the taste for lesser foods. He joins us only in the main course, which should be along after the second round of appetizers."

Appetizers?! By the gods, how much did these criminals eat? And how could they pose such great threat to her family if they were so obsessed with food? She nodded a silent and worried thanks, and waited.

There was no formal announcement of the next food wave. It organically meshed into the meal. Plate by plate the new foods were served and the old ones taken away. The servants, two by two, carried tall cooking pots and placed them between two feasters to share. The lids were removed, and the dim cacophony of a hundred tiny squeaks ringed in the room. Sugar coated hands reached into the pots and drew out a fistful of...

The guest stared wide eyed in disbelief. Surely they didn't mean to...

Litters of domesticated house mice, thin as a feather and still blind. Handful by handful the mice were crammed into the gaping jaws of the dwarfs, and were chewed into a furry paste. Blood gushed out between the lips, and dribbled down the neck and chest. Two of the dwarves began a loud contest as to who could slurp the rat tails down the fastest. With a mug in one hand and a few mice in the other, they established a strong rhythm between the hands. Mice, alcohol, mice, alcohol, mice, caramel for the sweetness... The sizzle of mice rotating over the fireplaces droned into a casual background noise. Mouse tails and peeled pelts littered the floor.

The guest rushed her glass up to her face, and did her best to throw up discreetly. Her skin was flush with cold sweat. Her dwarf companion seemed thoroughly disinterested in the serving.

"How... disappointingly unfilling. I suppose we can't have pork every week."

The charged energy of the feast soon died down as the mice litters ran dry. The pots were carried away, and the trash gathered up with tedious effort. Fingers picked at teeth and patted bellies greasy with blood. The murmuring returned.

Suddenly the guest felt a hand on her shoulder, lightly shaking her from the ravages of her now greenish drink. "He's here. Pay your respects." She jerked upright and frantically scanned the room with bloodshot eyes.

All of the dwarves were bowing toward the end of the table. A young, black-haired dwarf occupied the head chair. He was much thinner than the others, despite his wide silken garb. A thick, earthy perfume radiated out from the clothes. It was rather captivating in its rustic charm. But most beguiling were his eyes. She would not have been surprised to learn that someone had poured liquid silver into his irises and the shadow of a raincloud into his pupils. His voice was soft, but firm, commanding, but calm, otherworldly, but not deranged.

"Greetings, Sergeant Thamril." He paused, as if to let her respond in kind, knowing that she had no words at the moment. Her silence gave him dominance over the conversation.

"Well then, no more pleasantries. I assume we are both very busy. The reports?"

It was phrased as a question, but it was certainly a command. Thamril reached inside her felt and drew out a heavy stack of disorganized papers. A servant grabbed ahold of the papers as soon as she had them out, and rushed them over to the superior. Thamril coughed.

He flipped through them slowly, sometimes rereading the same page for minutes. On the whole though, he seemed strictly bored... as if he had seen these all before, and this was for her benefit more than his own.

"This is... enough. Between the shipment reports and the delivery of the Captain, you have held up your end of the bargain. Your family will remain untouched by my agents as long as they do not openly defy us. Oh, but you look so... pale
. Now is a time of celebration! You've done oh so very well."

He was toying with her, she could see that. Not that she had much flexibility in the matter however. This was a horrid place for disagreements. He raised his hands, and clapped once. His eyes glowed with hunger.

"Bring out the main course."

A few servants could be heard dragging something, something much larger than a pot of mice. With a heavy grunt, they threw a bound and gagged dwarven elder unto the table. His stock white beard was matted with blood. His wild eyes locked with Thalmir's, accusingly and fearfully.

Sergeant Thalmir frantically rose to her feet. Her voice cracked.

"What's the meaning of this?! You said-"

"-That I wouldn't dare lay even a finger on him? That he would be returned to you when all of this was over? That I did. And I am a... man... of my word. Brothers, sisters, please... Indulge yourselves."

Thalmir tried to move, but she couldn't. Her legs buckled, her hands felt stuck to the table. She watched on in horror as the guests crawled across the table and fell on the Captain. They gorged themselves with the malevolent eyes of the superior looming over them all. The sloshing, the slurping, the sucking on marrow... Thalmir hoped that any moment she would wake up.

Minutes passed, and the head of the late captain, still intact, rolled across the table until it stopped on her wide open plate. The superior grinned wickedly.

"Next time I recommend you do not falsify any report you send me. I find dishonesty so... vexing. I want the entire guard roster and patrol schedules by the end of the week. Understood?"

Thamril nodded, unable to draw her gaze away from her plate. She would never forget. Never.

"Yes... of course."

The superior's gaze returned to its satiated elegence. Hundreds of years had marked those eyes, and a thousand feasts. Eventually they lose any sense of violence, of murder. Eventually one plate is as good as another.

"Yes, what?" he asked. The table fell silent.

...

"Yes, King Hassan." 

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.

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71235715 wrote:

Oh good.  You found it.

Okay.  Missing posts.  Forgotten, I think I missed the last one of yours:

Faaaaaacinating.  Maxium post lengths now,

1 week ago  ::  Aug 30, 2013 - 10:30AM#691Report PostDeleteEditQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
 
 
Topheh
 
Topheh
 
      Date Joined: May 28, 2008
      Posts: 3,956
      ~The Abyss~

      The screams of the Craterspawn sent waves of dread crackling like lightning down Morenth's back, causing the red dragon to lash her tail fiercely in a futile attempt to direct her nerves somewhere.  

      Unbidden, images from long ago, from her birth, flooded through her.

      Warm.  Warm heat that cradled her, but pushed her ever upward.  To her left and right, her kin, drawn upwards out of the magma.  The warmth seemed to last an eternity.

      And then, all too quickly, it was gone.  The (relatively) cold air of the Caldera cooled her head, and for the first time, she could see... and hear.

      Chaos.  Screams of Craterspawn and Agni'Vohda alike echoed through the Caldera, and all around her, she saw bodies falling into the lake of fire.  lifting her wings from the magma, she pulled herself into the air, instinctively reaching for and shredding two Craterspawn who darted within reach...

      And then a blur of fighting, ending in her and a small number of Reds breaking off from the battle to seek allies, only to eventually learn they were the only survivors of their neophyte race.

      Morenth looked around at the other dragons, thinking about what she had learned of them.   Many of them had no memory of Craterspawn, their races having been formed after the hordes had been defeated.  Only Cantorix remembered.

      "Cantorix.  You know as well as I what those sounds are and what they mean.  The Craterspawn hordes were defeated at great cost when last they attacked the world of the Living, and it took the combined powers of the mortal races to do so.  I doubt that we six would last more than a few minutes."

      She turned to the other dragons.

      "It only seems logical that the object we seek would be kept deep within this realm, locked away near the Corruptor's inner sanctum.  We cannot stay here."

      As if to punctuate her last remark, a howling sound echoed through the woods around them, and the jungle itself seemed to come at them, trees writhing and shaking, growing with incredible speed and reaching out towards the dragons.  Not, this time, with vines, but with branches and trunks, with roots shooting up from the earth.  Wild eyed, Morenth looked upwards to see a canopy of woven branches blocking off escape.  

      The white dragon hissed in shock and pain as a branch ripped part of the fine membrane of its wing, and lost control.  The dragon tumbled downwards, and, without arms to brace its fall, hit the strange lake... 


      and dissapeared.

      Morenth blinked in surprise.  There had been no sign of violence, no dissolving of bones as would happen in acid, no death-cry... the White had been here one moment... and gone the next.

      Morenth shouted to the other dragons:  "Into the lake!  Its the portal to the next layer!"

      Paren looked over at her.

      Or the portal to our death.    His thought whispered through all of their minds.

      "If we stay here, that is assured.  We must take the risk!"  Morenth insisted.  And, after wheeling about to position herself, she dropped into the lake.  

      She felt the sensation of a cold, milky... something... washing over her, and then she was free and in the air once more.  Near her, the White rested, eying its wounded wing.   One by one, splashes in the lake announced the arrival of more dragons.

      Morenth looked around.  What horrors would this level of the Abyss bring? 
      1 week ago  ::  Aug 31, 2013 - 12:11PM#692Report PostQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
       
       
      TheForgottenCommand
       
      TheForgottenCommand
       
        Date Joined: Aug 28, 2011
        Posts: 496
        ---The Abyss---

         Cantorix tried to dig through the foul bog's layers, entrenched in mounting darkness. No light could penetrate the first few inches of the disease-ridden muck. His massive frame squirmed and writhed like a drowning worm through the ... mud? Sap? Pus...? The grime cocktail was crushing him, and seeping into the smallest holes in his scars and between his eyelids. He could feel the smallest of organisims swimming across his pupils. Cantorix felt a massive shudder ripple down his whole body and into the stagnant layers emtombing him.

        Cantorix thrashed wildly about in the depths of the bog. His claws ploughed through the murk, a feeble attempt to tear it apart. Every enemy he had ever faced was one that he could predict, outmaneuver, and wound. They were soldiers of flesh and fortune, and all of them had tasted the bitter cup of mortality... But the Abyss... it would not bleed. And Cantorix, he did not belong here. The bog tightened its deathgrip.

        Panick flooded the dragon's blood. He yearned for light, and it refused him. His lungs were ablaze, and air had abandoned him. His heart crashed against the walls of his ribcage. Pain shoot like forks of lightning from his chest and into the very tip of tail... His thrashings weakened. The pain became distant. A coldness seized his bones with little resisitance.

        A faint image grew inside the darkness of eyes, glowing with a sulferous light. A pair of eyes, so enraptured in HATE that it was impossible to see which had fathered the other. Reflections danced across the eyes like living pigments, the ebony shine of angel feathers, the smooth flow of acid across stone, and the faces of gods Cantorix did not know were sealed within. It was as if the Wounded One was staring into the mechanics of his very flesh and soul. Ancient blood churned within the Ebon dragon.

        Cantorix felt a wave of... was it pain? No, not pain. The pain had vanished long ago. No, it was different. His limbs twitched violently; his heart picked up a fevered rhythm. His lungs were still on fire, but they swelled with the thunder of a roar. Cantorix... felt... Enraged.

        Cantorix clawed through the depths of the stygian bog with tremendous vigor. Like tempered steel, his body cleaved through the bog and the darkness. The deathgrip loosened with confusion. The thick organic syrup distilled into a lighter liquid. The darkness was unveiled in ribbons of yellow, dappled light. Thick, acidic heat poured in where the coldness had held sway for minutes. Cantorix breeched the surface not with a gasp for air, but with a bellow to shake stone from its place.

        But the bellow was hardly heard, even by the other dragons and Paren. They were not paying attention to Cantorix. Their heads were skyward, schocked still.

        Hundreds of thousands of craterspawn flocks flew between the stormclouds and the lashing winds. A mind-numbing chorus of screeches bathed the entire plane. Their howls were shrill and nightmarish on their own, but together... It was the voice of a god, the beat of wardrums, an echo of all the violence of the old invasion. The mammoth flock was diving into a stormcloud carved by the wind into the shape of a gaping mouth.

        Cantorix's rage sputtered off as he sucked in noxious air. His skull felt impossibly lightheaded, and his blood turned with fresh disease. The others were resting on a island of volcanic rock, still hissing with heat. Waves of yellow-orange acid at least 15 feet in hieght slammed constantly into the side of the island. Dozens of souls, screaming with anger and bloodlust, scrambled unto the sides of the makeshift island and fought for the best places or any place at all out of the burning sea.

        Cantorix paddled over to the island, and crawled up its side slowly. The white dragon lay almsot motionless on the rock, only shallow movements of its chest and frantic eyes watching the sky. None of the dragons looked to be of health, but the white dragon's wounds were festering rotting as if they had existed for months. Its veins pulsed with dark colors, and a steady flow of... corrupted flilth flowed out of the tearings.

        They all sat there for a time, quiet, in awe.  
        He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

        Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII
        7 days ago  ::  Sep 02, 2013 - 4:39PM#693Report PostQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
         
         
         

         

        7 days ago  ::  Sep 02, 2013 - 4:39PM#693Report PostQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
         
         
        TheForgottenCommand
         
        TheForgottenCommand
         
          Date Joined: Aug 28, 2011
          Posts: 496
          ---Badlands---

          A black, noxious stormcloud fell over the harsh landscape. The few remaining bushels of weeds  sank low to ground out of fear, and memory. The night was still young, and only the burning piles of black ooze gave any light to this... godforsaken steppe.

          Azgo's battered boots crunched the dust underfoot. The firelight reflected off the steel and exposed bone beneath his chest; his face remained shrouded in darkness aside from his eyes, which glowed with such faint light as to constantly dance between the lines of illusion and reality.

          ...

          The Crowned in Blood knealt, hefted something into his arms as a mother would carry a child, and left. Pace by pace, the stormcloud consumed him in darkness and the sounds of rushing water. And then...

          He was gone. 
          He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

          Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII
          7 days ago  ::  Sep 02, 2013 - 7:24PM#694Report PostQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
           
           
          Raven-of-Dreams
           
          Raven-of-Dreams
           
              Date Joined: Jan 20, 2013
              Posts: 196
              ~The Chase~

              While Agni had battled his internal demons with the Puppet Urru, Sa had not sat idle.

              Sa's ten thousand petals had folded upon each other time and time again, until, gradually, they had taken on some semblance of human form. And so when Agni laughed, sickly green light leaking from his mouths and eyes, six thorned lances swung and leveled themselves at the laughing god.

              "Still yourselvesssssss."

              Sa's command was unquestionable, and the weapons paused, bristling at the words of the flower god.

              But internally, Sa was less certain. It would be simpler, true, to simply slay both gods were they were now.

              AP Expenditure
               - Create Exarchs: The Orihana Knights - Each of these knights represents one aspect of Magic (Arcane, Divine, Primal, Psionic, Shadow, Elemental). They appear to be made out of thousands of folded flower petals.
              6 days ago  ::  Sep 03, 2013 - 11:58AM#695Report PostDeleteEditQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
               
               
              Topheh
               
              Topheh
               
                  Date Joined: May 28, 2008
                  Posts: 3,956
                  ~The Abyss~

                  Paren looked down at the White dragon, whose breath came in slow, ragged rattles.  How... had this happened?  How was it that the relatively minor wounds from the trees of the prior incarnation of the Abyss led to this?

                  Near the dragon's head, Morenth had settled herself onto the rock and was quietly speaking to the White, although Paren couldn't quite make out what she was saying.  Words of encouragement, he hoped.

                  Futile words.

                  It was obvious to Paren, at least, that the White was dead.  Oh, not now, but soon.  Had the wound been superficial, then either the Red or Gold dragons could have cauterized it.  Had it been on the outside, then the White could have frozen it.  But this, the blackness that ran through the White's veins... that was something that was not treatable... at least, not by any of them.

                  "Paren, I have an idea."  Morenth said, raising her head to look at the Exarch.

                  "Soon after the war against the Craterspawn ended, I spent some time talking to a number of mortals, and in a city of the elves, I came upon a healer who was treating a particulalry virulent disease.  Do you know what he did?  He made his patients hot.  Almost more than they could stand.  As it turned out, their bodies were better able to deal with the temperature than the disease, and it was eventually eradicated.  If we were to raise his body temperature..."

                  Morneth broke off, staring into the distance.  Paren turned his attention behind him, and felt a cold wave of terror.

                  The sea of acid raged far below their perches, but in the distance, a wall of death approached.  Easily five hundred feet high, a tidal wave of acid swept towards them, crashing over distant outcroppings and sending the fighting souls tumbling into the depths.  It would be here in minutes.

                  There's no time, Morenth.  We cannot fight the infection.  We cannot stay here.

                  A voice interrupted.

                  "The Plane of Fire"  The white dragon wheezed.  "Send me there."

                  But... you would die!  Or at the very least go insane.  We know how Sa's influence keeps your mind cool enough for rational thought... but I doubt his magics are strong enough to withstand the entire Plane of Elemental Fire.

                  "He'll die here for sure."  Morenth said.

                  True.   Are you sure?

                  The white dragon nodded.

                  Paren concentrated and pulled at the fabric of reality with his mind to form a link to the Plane of Elemental Fire.  For some reason, it was much, much easier here than it had been earlier, and soon a decent-sized portal floated before them.  Paren banished the concern he felt about this fact (What, exactly, was the Abyss?  Was it an attempt to reach the Plane?), and watched as the other dragons pushed the White through.

                  Now we must fly!  Quickly!   Paren shouted, taking wing as the portal winked shut.  The wave of acid grew closer...



                  ~Agni~


                  The voice of Sa worked its way like molasses into the core of Agni's psyche, and although the words were distorted beyond recognition, the voice sparked a thought in Agni's mind.

                  Yes.  The God whose name he did not know had died to rescue him.  But Sa had been there as well.  Sa had not protected the unknown God, but Agni did not hold Sa responsible for the death.  Others had been there as well.  The Tea-Lord, the Rock-Lord.   Agni did not view them as responsible either.

                  So why did he consider himself responsible?  

                  Because he died to save you.   A voice whispered in his head.

                  But did that make it his fault?  He had not died because of a mistake that Agni had made, but because of... 

                  TASOE.  The very being who was trying to kill him now.  Death now would not be repayment of the Unknown God's sacrifice.  It would be a betrayal.

                  The Talisman sparked, and moonstone highlights ran through the mozaic, outlining the image of a dragon in the center of the talisman.   A white-hot heat radiated from the talisman, and Agni stood up within his mind, throwing off the now-light weight of Marcus, who crumbled to dust as he rolled.

                  That was very close, Evil One.  I was nearly defeated, but while I do feel remorse over the death of the God I do not Know, I feel more anger at the One Who Killed Him.   You.

                  There was a flash of light, and where the Agni'Vohda had stood, now another being took his place.  Seven feet tall, wrapped in cloth that barely kept in the radiance of its body.  The hand not carrying the sword of fire reached up to remove a mask that covered the being's face.  Light shot forth, as if cast by the Sun itself.  Where eyes and mouth would be were instead a deep darkness, from which his anger shone forth nonetheless.

                  REVEAL YOURSELF!  Agni cried, and the light surrounding him grew in intensity until the entire cave was bathed in light.

                  And Agni saw his foe - or foes- for the first time.  A set of diseased and decaying spirits that glared at him malevolently as they cringed in the light.

                  Evil Ones, I take it.  Do I fight you all at once, or will you come at me one at a time.  Perhaps you will be first to perish.    Agni said, pointing with his sword at what looked like a pox-ridden wolf.


                  ~Exterior~

                  The laugh subsided, and the God was silent once more.
                  6 days ago  ::  Sep 03, 2013 - 6:28PM#696Report PostQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
                   
                   
                  TheForgottenCommand
                   
                  TheForgottenCommand
                   
                    Date Joined: Aug 28, 2011
                    Posts: 496
                    ---The Abyss---

                    Cantorix took off behind the others. The world spun and danced before his eyes. His blood was hot, and his head light as a cloud. This air burned his lungs... or was it his lungs that burned his lungs? This place... it was toxic even to souls. His flying was haphazard, and weak.

                    He glanced wildly at the others... and was puzzled. They seemed little worse for wear. Sure, some taint had seeped into them, but... they were stronger than him. Unharrowed. Was it the lake? Why had the lake tried to drown him and not the others? Thoughts flew through his mind like dry husks of leaves, lacking whatever made them lively before.

                    The wave swallowed the island beneath them, dragging it down into the caustic darkness. The souls gave a distant scream, and pushed each other down beneath the surge.

                    Cantorix looked back up at the others. A swarm of craterspawn had surrounded them, and with every passing second a few dozen flocks split off from the legion to investigate the sweet sounds of tearing flesh. Cantorix pushed his weakness and confusion to the back of his mind, letting his wrath guide him into the fray.

                    OOC Show
                     

                     
                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII
                    4 days ago  ::  Sep 05, 2013 - 3:06PM#697Report PostDeleteEditQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
                     
                     
                    Topheh
                     
                    Topheh
                     
                        Date Joined: May 28, 2008
                        Posts: 3,956
                        ~The Abyss~

                        If Paren had had the energy to spare, he would have turned the air blue with a string of expletives.  The situation was looking increasingly dire.  Flying at nearly full-speed away from the massive wave, the dragons lashed out in every direction at the approaching craterspawn, whose claws reached for the intruders mindless of their own safety.  Cantorix and Morenth were playing vital roles, recalling long-dormant combat techniques that had proven useful against the Craterspawn in the past, but Paren could see that those tactics, developed to fight a smaller version of their foe, were at best moderately successful against these foes.  Still, for now, at least, the dragons were all intact, while at least three Craterspawn had plummeted into the deadly waters below.

                        Paren pulled open a small portal to the Plane of Elemental Fire and sent streams of magma into a clump of approaching Craterspawn, burning their wings and blinding them.  As they tumbled away, Paren turned to Cantorix, fighting nearby.

                        I hope you know of a way out from this point, Cantorix.  We will - Uuuuuhhhhhh

                        A sudden wave of nausea washed over Paren, and the portal to the Plane of Elemental Fire flared and dissapeared.  Paren's wings faltered and failed, and the draconic shape dissolved into a stream of ash that tumbled along in the same direction as the other dragons as eddies and currents fought within the exarch's form, some struggling to reestablish the patern of Dragon, and others seeking to reshape the exarch into something... Else.

                         OOC Show
                         


                        ~A Wasteland~

                        They said that the steaming piles of pitch were remnants of a long-ago war between the Gods, when one of the mighty monsters of times long forgotten had risen up to swallow the suns and destroy Fire itself.  

                        To the pilgrims, they had become landmarks.  Guideposts up from the vallies, from the Crown, from the Dwarfhomes, leading to where the Discovery had been made.

                        For there, deep in the mountains, hidden in a cave, a statue of a God unknown had been discovered, one which had no record in the histories of the mortal races, but to whom all of them felt a deep and unexpected bond.  

                        And as they traveled, they sang songs of praise and worship to Him:  The First, the EverGod. 

                        AP:

                        1 AP:  Guide Populaces:  A cult worshiping the First appears in the world, centered around worship of the remains of Marcus hidden in a cave by Agni after his death (although they do not worship Marcus, but the First) 
                        3 days ago  ::  Sep 06, 2013 - 8:45AM#698Report PostQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
                         
                         
                        TheForgottenCommand
                         
                        TheForgottenCommand
                         
                          Date Joined: Aug 28, 2011
                          Posts: 496
                          ---The Abyss---

                          Had it been there all along, or had it only just been formed by the Abyssal touch? Something stirred within Paren. Not all of him was... him. But it certainly stared at him with a knowing eye, filled with scorn for his weakness. Half of the currents of ash lashed out when he did not command them, aiming deftly for the dragons. It was a dragon, and yet not a dragon at all. It was a long, scaled creature of antiquity with frills of fire and legs of noxious gas. But there were no wings, and it was not the heat of fire within its ashen breast, but the chemical heat of scalding liquid and caustic blood. A Remorhaz.... 

                           If Paren had called out to Cantorix, he hardly heard it. Between the roar of the ocean and the howl of the angels, everything else was a whisper in the wind. It was nearly ear-splitting... and the Ebon dragon was too caught up in the glories of battle. A dim horror within his waking mind was slowly revealing itself.

                          He fought the only way he knew how: on the offensive. He flew on the edge of the other's presence, where the enemy was thickest, and assaulted them with the last reserves of what his Wrath could muster. At first his blows were meaningless, merely denting the bone plates and unable to cripple them. The craterspawn staggered in midflight and then weeled around for a second swing at an eager dragon.

                          Cantorix's eyes were studiously acute. With every move of the angels, limitations became clear... and therefore exploitable. The joints were unarmored and the craterspawn trusted their armor too well to defend themselves. They only charged forward; predictable if visable. Claws slid harmless off the bone, but brute force could break it inward. Thier wings were too large. Easy to grasp. And the sea of acid...

                          A wicked grin spread slowly over his face. 

                          Cantorix waited for the next angel to divebomb him from above. His heart twitched as nimbly as his claws. When it lashed out in his direction, Cantorix retreated, letting the creature over-extend itself in bloodlust. His massive arm grappled the recovering wing and retched the monstrosity close to his other arm. Cantorix grasped its throat and part of its face with a vicegrip, laughing softly into its ear as he burried his claws into the base of the wing... and tore it clean from its socket. The craterspawn gave a muffled howl in response before Cantorix released it to plummet into the acidic currents below.

                          Cantorix roared with triumph, and plunged into the fray. But beneath his Wrath, his murky mind was struggling for dominance. He could not fight a true horde of craterspawn on his own. 

                          Minutes passed. And in the flow of battle it might as well have been years. Wounds mounted up on his old scars like wrinkles. Sick, polluted blood flowed down from his scalp and across his brow. And inside his body... how many ligaments had split? How many membranes had burst? How many splinters of bone were hidden in his organs... The answer was the same. Too many.

                          And then... a craterspawn talon pierced his chest. Cantorix roared as it scratched against the bones of his ribcage, shredding and tearing. His arms grabbed ahold of the beast's head, and with all his strength, Cantorix crushed the skull into a paste. The creature fell into ash, and drifted away into the wind. The dim horror leapt out from the back of his mind, ripping control away from his Wrath. 

                          They couldn't do it. 

                          ...

                          It was impossible. The Abyss... it was too much for them. At first it had been easy, too easy. One plane lead directly to the next, almost as if the Abyss wanted them deep before it lifted the ruse. And now that they were inside of its throat, it was going to swallow them whole. 

                          Cantorix "flew" back towards the others, evading rather than confronting craterspawn. But they had sensed his weakness as the blood poured out of his soul-wound. There were too many between him and the others. A moiving wall of feathers and talons sealed him off. By chance alone he managed to catch Morenth's eyes for a singular second.

                          Just as well. He only needed a fraction of it. A single word was apparant in his vision, an irrefutable command.

                          Run.

                          And having said what could have taken lifetimes to properly articulate, he turned back to the Craterspawn horde. They would chase his friends surely, but what if he could buy them a few seconds? Perhaps Paren could open a gate, or... or something. Craterspawn were simple creatures, and they would'nt begin the hunt untill the nearest enemy was dead. 

                          Cantorix took a singular breath, and without hesitation, charged forward. Only it was Cantorix no longer... his rational mind had done the last thing it needed to, and it would only slow him down. It walked slowly out of his soul, never looking back at the animal left behind. The Ebon dragon, with no regard for itself, descended into a barbaric frenzy. The craterspawn swarmed him, and it would only be a few moments before they would finish.

                          ...
                          ...
                          ...

                          To any that looked over their shoulder from the distance, a small outline could just barely be seen... plummeting, and grabbing no less than three Craterspawn in a deathly embrace. 
                          ...
                          There was a splash...
                          ...
                          The swarm that detatched itself from the horde rose up on the wings of angels... and flew after them in dogged pursuit. 

                          Only a few seconds passed before there was a terrible rumble throughout the whole plane. To the dragons, it wasa powerful tremor. But to Paren, it was a feeling. It was a feeling of... completion. As if the Abyss had been missing something alll along and now... it was whole. A terrible presence loomed over the Abyss like the shadow of an eye. The sea churned widly beneath the party, stirring itself into a whirlpool the size of a mountain range. Midway down the whirlpool was formed not of acid... but of a whirling sandstorm. And at is eye, distant images of iron and stone hazed in yellow fog.

                          The craterspawn in the distance stopped dead in their tracks, and returned to the horde. Paren's ashen counterpart settled itself, offering no resistance like before. An eerie silence replaced the ear-splitting roar of the plane.

                          OOC Show
                           



                           
                          He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                          Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII
                          14 hours ago  ::  Sep 08, 2013 - 11:41PM#699Report PostDeleteEditQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
                           
                           
                          Topheh
                           
                          Topheh
                           
                              Date Joined: May 28, 2008
                              Posts: 3,956
                              ~The Abyss~

                              "NO!" Morenth cried out in anguish as she watched Cantorix fall into the acid.  Her neck whipped around towards Paren to demand that the Exarch do something, but Paren was too far gone to help, fighting a battle against itself, split between the former Orange and... something dark and sinister that struggled to strike out at the three remaining dragons, only to be stopped at every attempt by waves of ash from the Paren-side.

                              The craterspawn had nearly caught up to them again, and Morenth breathed in a few ragged breaths, feeling the corruption of this place seeping into her blood, into her flesh from the cuts and scrapes she had sustained during the fight.  Thankfully, the wings of the Craterspawn still burned, if slower than before, which had meant that she had been able to avoid the injuries that had befallen Cantorix.

                              But it was inevitable.  Cantorix was their best fighter, Paren was out of comission, the White... Morenth realized that she had never asked its name... the White was gone... and the three of them that remained were bruised and wounded.  

                              And suddenly, just as Morenth was about to fill her lungs to breathe out death once more, the sea... shook.  The tidal wave of acid wavered, rippled and collapsed in a spray of acid droplets that drenched a good number of Craterspawn who had been too far behind the others.  A few drops hit Morenth's body, and she grunted in pain as it burned its way through her scales.  

                              The Craterspawn turned away, and the sea roared as a whirlpool formed beneath them.

                              Suddenly, Paren's voice cut through.

                              There.  That is what Cantorix described.  The final layer of the Abyss.  We will find our goal there.

                              The three dragons and Exarch dropped down into the whirlpool.
                              6 hours ago  ::  Sep 09, 2013 - 7:52AM#700Report PostQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
                               
                               
                              TheForgottenCommand
                               
                              TheForgottenCommand
                               
                                Date Joined: Aug 28, 2011
                                Posts: 496
                                ---The Godcrater---

                                The intruders stumbled out from the mudy vortex of sand and acid and through the curtain of moving water. The coldness of long-blighted stone was a strange comfort to them, so different... so benign. The touch of ice, of plant, and a caustic sea had viciously attacked anything that established contact, and here, now, the stone did nothing agianst them. It was an empty comfort though. For they all looked up eventualy.

                                They were in a grand courtyard, lined with a small legion of walls, towering keeps, and menacing barricades. Doors of pure granite guarded the entrance from the floor to the towers, from the towers to the walls, and anywhere else they were practical. Fountains in the shape of a hideous, wounded god lined the plaza, letting water flow out from the scalp and the wrists to drain into the canals. A perfectly cut alter dominated the center of the courtyard. It was clothed in silk, and etched with the words of The First. 

                                A yellow curtain of light lit up the dusk-like sky enclosed in a dome of rushing water, and a grand fortress rose like a mountain miles away in the distance, shrouded in sulfuric clouds. 

                                Craterspawn stood in regimented order along the battlements untill they were fit to burst. And entire flocks of scarred, well-seasoned craterspawn flew in circles above the fortress city. Every skull was trained at the dragons, waiting for the order. There were no howls, no screeches of war, no drum-beats in the air. They had not been given permission to speak, and their king was not to be disobeyed.

                                The plane rumbled again, this time smaller. Then again, and again. Tremors shook the ancient walls like...

                                Footsteps.

                                Slow, measured, confident footfalls. And the ground tremebled not out of power (though it could have), but respect. The Abyss shuddered at his touch, moaned at his pain, and adored his stewardship. It was him, and he was it.

                                The fountains poured out galleons upon galleons of more water, practically spraying it. The canals churned with rushing water like gutters in a violent storm. The wind picked up like the billowing cloak of a noble returning from war. The craterspawn twitched with hunger, with excitement, only able to restrain themselves with the presence of a god...

                                A pair of granite gates, easily the size of the largest of dragons, creeked open, grinding stone upon the cobbled street. And what walked out from behind those gates... had no resemblence to folktales of the dragons, of their racial histories. No bard's song could capture the... otherworldliness. The eldritchness... how solid nightmares could be woven from his merest shadow.

                                His figure was wreathed in shadow and mist, only hinting at the afflicted flesh rotting and pulsating beneath. The blood of gods stained the glint of his armor plating, and blood seeped from his scalps across his brows. Only Paren could see through the mist at the skeleton beneath. Dried blood and crawling membranes enveloped the bones, growing tendons and organs like a garden of plants. Two gnarled, blackened hearts, rimmed with frostbite, pumped furiously. 

                                The intruders staggered, for the sickness within them advanced tenfold in his presence, though something powerful kept those that should have died alive.

                                The Crowned in Blood advanced, carrying... something vaguely human. The dragons felt his stare even beneath his cloak of shadow, gazing beyond their eyes. Every drop of blood, every parasite within their system, every scar and how it was aquired, and the weave of their souls he knew intimately. Their pasts flew like memories in his mind, and he had them memorized. He knew them... down to every detail. Their was little anger in his stare, no scorn, just pity, as a human might pity the gnat which is here today and gone tomorrow thinking it has accomplished great things with its life.

                                The Crowned in Blood gently set Artun down on the alter. Without looking up, he spoke. Softly.

                                "You... are a long way from home, Paren, shepard of dragonkin."

                                ...

                                "Welcome... to Guvarah An."

                                 
                                He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII
                                1 second ago  ::  Sep 09, 2013 - 2:01PM#701Report PostDeleteEditQuick ReplyQuoteMulti-Quote
                                 
                                 
                                Topheh
                                 
                                Topheh
                                 
                                    Date Joined: May 28, 2008
                                    Posts: 3,956
                                    ~The Abyss~

                                    Paren waited a long moment, taking in the sight of The Corrupted One and the center of his empire.  Finally, the ash-dragon bowed its head, and was relieved to see the other dragons do so as well.

                                    My Lord Azgo.  Far from home I am, and my kin further than I.  Thank you for your welcome to the heart of your realm.  We come seeking a boon, and seeking to do you a favor at the same instant.  Within your realm, there is something that does not belong.  Long ago, one of the suns of the world was lost here in your Godcrater, moments before you were sealed away from the rest of the universe.  We have come to return it home to the heavens, to restore order to the universe... and to free you from your shackles in the process.

                                    Surely you k-
                                        Paren broke off, finally recognizing the shape that had been laid on the altar with such gentle care.    

                                    What is HE doing here?   Paren exclaimed, clearly upset.   He is a servant of the Enemy of All. 

                                    "Do not adress me as Lord if you would not serve the greater good. I know your loyalties lay with dragonkin, not myself."

                                    Azgo walked slowly around the altar, standing between Paren and Artun... should things escalate to that. He doubted Paren was so brash, but desperation makes fools of even gods. As Azgo spoke, the altar began sinking into the ground with the gnashing of stone.

                                    "And as for Artun...Yes, he was a servant. But his master abandoned him, as the Firstborn abandoned your kin at the Eternal Volcano to fend for yourselves, and at the Moot. I doubt there was any lost love between the two, and in time, he may be of great use in learning how his master came to be in the first place. Such evils may not be allowed to spawn in the future. And if he does prove hostile..."

                                    The altar sank beneath the earth. Stone warped and broke open to cover the entrance, and if the guests had not seen it with their eyes, they might have swore there had never been any hole.

                                    "We will not being seeing him again. Do not worry, Paren. The Abyss was made to be a prison."

                                    ...

                                    "If you would ask something of me, ask it."

                                    He already knew what Paren had come for, the mortals were all but translucent to him with knowledge. 

                                     

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    ~The Abyss~

                                    Paren nodded at Azgo's words.  There was little he could do otherwise, here in the heart of the Abyss, than accept Azgo's declaration at face value.

                                    Very well.  And know that I use the word Lord as a token of respect for your obvious authority and power, not out of any... vassal loyalty.

                                    You wish me to speak plainly.  So be it.  Allow me to remove the Sun from your domain.  Give it to me and it will trouble you no more.

                                    "Trouble me?"

                                    Azgo almost smiled.... Almost. The memory of Pruinus was fresh in his mind, and any distraction was temporary.

                                    "What interesting choice of words. As if it has been a burden that only you could remove."

                                    ...

                                    "I have kept it here, in Guvarah An, in the recesses of my chambers. Waiting... for you. Or someone like you, someone who cares enough for the mortals to brave my... home. I have been to occupied to take it up myself." The Abyss shuddered, from its entrance to the very center of the throne room. "Does it not bother you, Paren? That it is you who has had to suffer to save mortality when Firstborn would stand by, seculded in their illusionary forests, hidden in the veils of apathetic death, watching the world burn?"

                                    "Do you know how many times the suns have been made and unmade? Scattered and forgotten? Why would you build a new sun simply for it to be destroyed again?"

                                    Despite his sorrow, Azgo seemed oddly... refreshed. He had not spoken to a neutral god in ages... only Thereus, and Sa. It was a bitter refreshment though, peaceful, and a reminder of the way things should have been. A reminder of everything he had lost.

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    OOC
                                    While yes, the return of the sun to the sky WILL end up saving the world...

                                    Save the mortals?  As if a single orb more of light would somehow undo all the hardship that had befallen them, much at your own hand?  Come, Azgo, you know as well as I that we seek this sun not because it will save the world, but because the sun belongs in the heavens, and not lost in a place far distant.  

                                    Why would we desire this thing?  Because it is right.  Why do we not despair at the knowledge that it may be destroyed again?  Because down that pathway lies only defeat and despair, and endless nihilism. 

                                    Are you not the one who pines for the days before the start of the universe as we know it?  I would think that a quest for restored order would be compelling to you. 

                                     

                                    This wasn't actually going half as bad as Paren had feared it might go.  Azgo almost seemed reasonable... or at least, someone who could be reasoned with.

                                    Azgo visably tensed. Something changed in his stance, nothing threatening (or at least more threatening than he naturally was), but... Agitated. Frustrated. Bitter.

                                    "Bold words, Paren. A few might say too bold..." Whether or not Azgo would have agreed with them he left in the darkness of his eyes. "And no, I did not know. The gods are not as easily read as mortals. At least one of your companions thought this was to better the world, not for order. How... dissappointingly petty. If order is what you seek, know that it cannot be found. Not here. Not now."

                                    The wind kicked up. Azgo began to pace around the courtyard.

                                    "And what makes it right?! Because the gods made it?! Because the works of their hands must align with the truth?! Are you naive enough to believe that the gods don't work towards their own ends, but for order?! The gods made it, and they destroyed it! It is as 'right' now as it was then!"

                                    Azgo took a deep breath, feeling the currents of the wind swell up into his ribcage. The storm died down, and after a few seconds Azgo was back to his shadowy calmness.

                                    "No. I care little for order without perfection. Imperfect order will always be defeated by its sole enemy. It will always be... undone... by..."

                                    Azgo paused a lifetime, coming to terms with his truth.

                                    "The Chaos Within."

                                     

                                     

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    Paren barked a sharp laugh of derision.

                                    Do you think I want something because the Gods made it?  No.  That is a foolish reason.  Are you aware that I have never spoken to Agni?  Not once?  He, who one could say is my master, has never deigned to find and speak to me.  Instead, I glean little bits of information... history, thought, motivation... these I find leeching into me whenever I access his power.  No.  I have little use for him, his kin, or you.  I find the Gods to be, as you say, capricious.  

                                     

                                    No.  It is right because I will it.  I am the protector of dragonkind, as you say, and the suns hold a special place in my wards' histories.  I have sought out and restored the others.  Now only this one remains, and I will leave with it, not because the Gods desire it, but because I do.  Give me the orb of black dragonkind, and you will have my thanks and the thanks of dragonkind.

                                    Paren looked around at the legions of craterspawn and other horrors.

                                    I know what you are preparing for, Azgo.  I know what these beasts are meant to do.  I'm sure I do not need to remind you of the crucial role that dragonkind played in repelling your hordes the last time.  Having the entire race in your debt would... be useful to you.

                                    OOC
                                    And for right now, I'm glad Cantorix is missing, as he would probably start attacking things at the thought of allying with the Craterspawn :P
                                      

                                    Azgo let a long pause draw into the conversation. He approached Paren pace by pace. His voice did not come from his body, but from every crack in every stone, every whisper in the wind, every torrent of caustic liquid. 

                                    "NOTHING IS RIGHT SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU WILL IT TO BE!!"

                                    The Abyss darkened into twilight. Gesyers burst across the plane in unison, and the fountains cracked with pressure. The craterspawn leaned forward, hungry.

                                    "Do you know how many atrocities my brethren have committed becuase they thought their will above the will of the First?! Their number would drown your very soul in disbelief, petty god! You dabble in arts far beyond your comprehension and call it order! Call it righteous!

                                    Blithely ignoring the consquences of failure is not righteous; it is foolishness! The possibility must be confronted, and its source defeated! You claim that it leads only to despair but you! Know! NOTHING! Of! Despair! Despair is a word you have heard, but never LIVED!

                                    Has everything you ever loved been stolen from you?! Does your Flesh rot from the inside out?! Do you have intimate knowledge of all the suffering of mortals and how miserable they are?! Have you been confined to prison because you were the ONLY one willing to fight for the betterment of the future?! HAVE YOU KILLED YOUR OWN SISTER WHOM YOU LOVED MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?!?! I CONFRONTED THE POSSIBILITY OF MY FAILURE AND CONQUERED MY DESPAIR WITH HATE!

                                    HATE for everything that was evil! HATE for everything that was petty! HATE for all the gods and exarchs who cared for nothing but themselves and their worthless empires! HATE FOR IMPERFECTION!

                                    How easy is must be for you to sit and let thousands suffer and die needlessly when they are not 'your' kin! DO you think I would kill the mortals if it were not neccessary?! DO you think I am without pity for their pain?! If ten thousand liars, cheats, and betrayers perish so that even one who remains loyal to the First can enter perfection, SO BE IT! If an invasion is necessary to put an end to all pain for countless generations, SO BE IT!!"

                                    The taint in the intruder's bodies began to slowly increase to near lethal levels. It was almost black as night.

                                    Azgo stopped right in front of Paren. And while the plane shook with wrath and HATE, Azgo's eyes were still as the roots of the world. He was teetering on the edge between mercy and judgement. He whispered softly.

                                    "First you call me Lord out of respect, and then you scoff in my face. First you ask of me a boon, then you say I am of little use. I invite you into my very fortress, a sign of favor I have not granted to anyone, and then you disrespect me. You have crossed many lines, Paren. Be careful with your next words, for they may be your last."

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    Paren could feel the... otherness... the anger... writhing within him, struggling for release.  At the same time, he felt fear.  Had Azgo just admitted to killing a God?  If so, this was highly troubling.  And then there was the raving... Agni had been convinced the God was mad... but experiencing it firsthand...

                                    What Paren eventually said... well, it was some combination of the two emotions warring within him.

                                    Forgive me, I did not mean to cause offense.  You insinuated a reason for my actions that did not match my true goals, and now have grown angry that I spoke the truth to you.  I only assumed you would be able to tell if I was not being honest.

                                    You are correct.  I do not worry about those who are not my kin.  But then again, that is not my function.  But my heart does ache, Azgo.  Do you wish to know another reason why I wish to restore the Orbs?  Because I felt the dragons die by the hundreds and thousands to protect the world from the approach of chaos the likes of which it had never seen before.  I have seen my kin bleed and die to save strangers they do not know.  We have lost two of our number on this journey, and my heart aches for them as well.  Do you doubt it, Mighty God?  Search me.  I know you have that power.  Test and see if my soul does not nearly break.  But then, you must tell me:

                                    What IS Right, Azgo?  If it is not what the Gods will, and it is not what we ourselves will, what, then defines what is right?  Do you?  Do you set yourself up to be Lord and Master of all?  Why you, Azgo?  Why not Agni, or Leaf, or even the master of the glamour-master whom you have just entombed?

                                    Tell me, Azgo, what happened to you?  Why are you filled with such anger?   

                                    Azgo continued to whisper, only slightly calmed.

                                    "You hear, but do not listen. You think, but do not understand. And I... I am alone. You think I am mad, don't you? Is this the fruit of wisdom, to be called fool by brothers and madman by strangers?"

                                    Azgo turned his back to Paren, pacing again. The sky lightened a little, back to a murky yellow twilight. The craterspawn releuctantly straightened their backs. And yet the earlier peace did not return. The air remained tense.

                                    "You are ...forgiven." Those words felt foreign in his mouth, undignified. "What is the point, Paren? Why should I tell you of the origin of righteousness? Why should I tell you the origin of my Wrath? Would you listen? Would you understand? Or would you attribute any inconsistancies with madness and not knowledge? I have attempted to instruct you, and I doubt it has made the slightest impact on you. I did not grow angry because you told the truth. I was enraged because I had hoped to find a kindred spirit and found only anouther god of apathy, seeking to do his own will where he sees fit. Did you ask for forgiveness because you offended a King in his palace, or because you offended a dangerous, raving madman from whom you would ask for something? Did you ask because it is right? Or because it was foolish not to?"

                                    An eldritch bitterness consumed him. He was alone, speaking to walls and illusions. Paren... did not understand. None of them did, and they would never care enough to anyway. They were too busy careing for one people and shunning another. Too busy forgeting the troubles of the world so that they might have comfort. Too busy hiding their flaws and rewritting history for their own glory. Too busy...

                                    And he was alone. Alone and without his Father. Without his Mother. Without the First.

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    Paren blinked in surprise at Azgo's comments.  The God wanted... a friend?  This was... certainly unexpected.

                                    In honesty, I asked forgiveness because my words were not meant to offend, yet they did.  So yes... it seemed right.  The fact that you may have caused me to tear myself into pieces had I not was just... extra motivation.  

                                    Paren dared a thin smile at these last words.

                                    You speak of me as if you expect more from me, Azgo.   As if you expect me, not a God in any right but merely a mortal who has somehow touched the Divine, to be capable of influencing far more than my meager powers would allow me to do safely.  Surely any attempt of mine to do more than one of my power is capable of would be far more likely to cause harm than good, would you not agree?  So I preserve that which I was fashioned to preserve, and try to do what I can with my powers.

                                    Unless...   Paren's mind-voice trailed off for a moment, then resumed.   Unless you are offering me more power.  I would be willing to expand my duties, were my capabilities likewise expanded.

                                    A frown.

                                    Although I will admit that I would prefer to avoid any transformation to the form you appear as now.  Forgive my presumption, but I believe that the reason that most think you insane is that your... condition... would in any lesser being easily cause them to lose their mind.   

                                    OOC
                                    If anyone has objections they would like to post, I'm more than wailling to repost this entry edited to fit. So just let me know.

                                    The Crowned in Blood... didn't know what to say. Not a single conversation with any god he had had before went over this... swimmingly. Sure he had threatened to destroy Paren, and Paren had disrespected him, but that was a pleasant conversation for Azgo. Being entombed in his very palace had lowered his standards...

                                    "Power... it is a dangerous creation, Paren. Many are apt to abuse it, and even more fear its loss greater than the evils done when it is misapplied. And there are few... oh, so very few, who with all the power of the First would not recreate it in their own image and not the First's.

                                    If I were to give you this power, are you strong enough to endure the temptations that are inherantly attatched, or are you... fragile? Fragile as Agni, who would without discrimination burn and scald whatever amuses him. Power has made him Callous. Fragile as Leaf, who has tasted power and now covets the slavery of the pantheon for his own glory? Power has made him Avaricious. Fragile as Zebus, who exaults in his power and does not weild it for the betterment of anyone he would think is beneath him. Power has made him Arrogant. Fragile as Pruinus was, who constantly watched and protected the ones..." Azgo struggled for a few seconds. "she loved most and not the ones that needed it. Power made her Foolish. Those who seek to be heros.... are at the most risk of becoming monsters."

                                    Azgo fell into his souls, thinking. On which side was he?

                                     

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    OOC
                                    I'm pleased. Callous was exactly the word I was using to describe Agni to myself

                                    A cold chill rode its way through Paren's body.

                                    Was?   he gasped.

                                    Azgo did not meet Paren's eyes, lost in memory.

                                    "Was" he whispered.

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    Paren mentally gulped.

                                    Oh.

                                    An uncomfortable silence, broken only by the sounds of a Craterspawn shifting from one clawed foot to another, filled the heart of the Abyss.

                                    Finally, Paren, deciding it was better not to ask, asked a different question.

                                    You speak of the First, a being I am unfamiliar with, but whose name is indicative of its importance to you.  Who is... Who was... the First?

                                    Azgo did not answer for a time. He was barely able to refrain from weeping. She brought it upon herself, but... he still loved her, he always would.

                                    "You are a fickle being, Paren. I ask questions, and you respond with different questions." Not that Azgo cared much. It was more of an observation than a complaint. Still, was Paren wary of answering? He lifted his shrouded arms casualy, and the craterspawn lifted off from the battlements, flying towards the grand tower in the distance. They were left alone, a god, an exarch, and three mortal dragon souls.

                                    "The First... was beyond us. Not even Zebus would claim to understand him, such was the magnitude of His Power. But a few of us knew Her. He created us, the First Six. Zebus, Agni, Leaf, Pruinus, and myself, in that order.

                                    OOC
                                    Yes, I can count. That's intentional.

                                    She laid the foundation of creation from nothing, carved the ether and the material with force of will, marked the boudaries of possibilty, fixed chance on its bearing, invented knowledge, mastered wisdom, and gave Life the most important attribute anything could ever claim: meaning. He made us like himself, capable of great things both good and ill. She came before... everything.

                                    And He had a Plan, which was both a blueprint and a prediction, the entirity of creation on the currents of time laid bare before us. Every detail known, every name revealed, every mere speck of creation understood. It was to be... PERFECT. But the First... did not remain to enact it. She choose to leave for reasons I may never understood..."

                                    Azgo shuddered. His voice was covered in agony. He felt... abandoned, lost, forgotten... betrayed. That hurt worse than Pruinus's betrayal, or the betrayal of all his siblings combined. It hurt worse than all the sickness he could ever endure. It was the true origin of all his ​suffering, that he was to be loyal when The First had left him behind. That he loved the First, and he wasn't sure if it loved him back.

                                    "And He dictated that there was to  be two rulers in his stead, to weave the seeds of PERFECTION into creation and watch over it, and each other. If they built it right, there was to be no pain. No illness. No misery. No regret.

                                    But the twin rulers... they never built PERFECTION. They never had the chance. They were betrayed. I was betrayed. And everything is now... imperfect. Every evil in the world, every. last. one. can be traced to that moment, when four conspired against two and made them into one. One they thought would perish. One they thought would never fight for the memory of the Plan.

                                    They were wrong."

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    Paren's mind reeled at the nature of the revelations that Azgo was telling him.  One God, then Six more, although only five were listed.  Four Gods rebelling against Two, Two becoming one... which explained why only five were named... which then meant...

                                    Agni has never taken me into his councel, although my mind and his have touched on several occasions when I have called on his power.  In those moments, I have learned much about him, have touched his memories.  What you say to me does not correspond with anything I have learned from him.

                                    Paren saw Azgo begining to grow agitated once more and raised a forearm in supplication.

                                    Wait, bear with me.  I am in no place, especially not at this moment, to make a conclusion as to whom I believe.  For now, let us accept that what you are saying to me is true.  If so, then the First's creations do seem to suggest an overall symmetry to the Universe.  Life and Death, Ice and Fire.  But what of you, bi-partite God?  What opposites were you, once?

                                    Show
                                    Okay. We're all good now. For the moment...

                                     

                                    Azgo looked into the distance, past Paren. His voice was also distant, as if his mind was walking back into the hazy curtains of the begining.

                                    "What do you think Paren? What pair of forces were fit to rule over Life and Death, Flame and Frost? What forces could survive the pain of betrayal, the wretchedness of all-consuming sickness, millenia of isolation from everything that you held dear, and the knowledge that you are an abomination in every sense of the word? What are the roots of mercy and vengence and forgiveness and judgement?"

                                    Azgo looked back into Paren's eyes with the same eyes that had stared into Pruinus' divinity in her dying moments.

                                    "I was HATE. And I was LOVE."

                                    ...

                                    "I still am. I am Hate for everything evil. Hate for my siblings. Hate for imperfection.

                                    I am Love of everything that remains true to the First. Love for my followers. Love for perfection."

                                    OOC
                                    Claim Domain (1 AP): Love. Odd, isn't it? I didn't see this one coming either.

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    ~Abyss~

                                    Paren wasn't really sure what to think.  The Pantheon that he had long believed had made sense... two pairs of twinned deities who had come into existence at roughly the same moment, none with prior memories, who had set about to create upon the world they found themselves floating over.  But if there had been two pairs, why not a third?  Why not Hate and Love, conceptual beings that would act to give purpose and meaning to the creations of the more... elemental... deities?  And why not have an initial progenitor of all of them, one that had given birth to the paired beings, then left?  It was at once more complicated, and simpler.  After all, three pairs of deities from nothing was harder to explain than one singular OverGod.

                                     

                                    Very well.  I provisionally accept your cosmology, Azgo, although you understand that I have no true way to ascertain its validity.  Hate and Love are the most powerful of emotions.  I Hate those who would harm my wards, and Love those who are kind to them, and whatever my rational mind may say, I feel those emotions dragging my thoughts along like a powerful riptide.  To be the embodiment of both at once must be very difficult.

                                    Paren looked around, craning his neck to take in the entirety of the center of the Abyss, and cleared his mental 'throat'

                                    Forgive my presumption, Azgo, but I need to understand something about you.  When you look around...  Is this perfection, Azgo?  This is your realm, is it how you would like it?  What of your followers?  Are they what you desire?  

                                    Azgo seemed to be growing more and more distant as the conversation continued, as if he were listening to convesations Paren could not hear, watching events unfold that Paren was blind to...

                                    "Its validity wil prove itself in time, Paren. The more you know of the Firstborn, the more you will understand."

                                    ...

                                    "And as for my realm," the Abyss shook with the joy of being mentioned, "No, it is not perfect. It is an extension of myself, my corruption given life and feeling. The Abyss lives, Paren, it lives in me as I live in it. We are... one god, but different. But, yes, I HATE it... as I have hated myself, what the Firstborn did to me. But my followers, I should hate them for their imperfections, for their callousness and pride and greed and foolishness... But I do not, Paren. For they have chosen to follow the First. They have chosen to try, despite all the pains inflicted on them by the First Betrayal. What more can I ask of them, than to serve the heir of Creation?" Azgo reared his head towards the young dragon god, giving him his full attention.

                                    "Paren, you must understand... I cannot create PERFECTION... not yet. The works of my hands, they are spoiled, festering things. Sickness walks in my footfalls, corruption hides in my shadow. Azazel and Go'El, they can create PERFECTION. But the abomination that stands before you... he is Imperfection Incarnate, though not of free will. This was never meant to be, for a god be as I am... Do you understand Paren, what it is for a god to be sick, to be... dying? But I... I cannot die, Paren. It does not end..."

                                    His words sounded like a... plea? Azgo... pleaing?! But yes, it was a plea: a plea to understand something of dire importance.

                                    Something was stirring. Azgo could feel something of great importance unfolding... something he needed to be a part of.

                                     

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    Paren nodded.

                                     

                                    I do understand that, Azgo.  Much like I was unable to protect my kind before my transformation, in your current state you are unable to bring about the perfection that you desire.  This resonates strongly in me.

                                     

                                    Paren paused, then continued.

                                    You know what I have come here to seek.  In trade for that, I would help you in whatever way I could.  How may I help you, Azgo? 

                                    Azgo tensed unnaturaly. Was this a trick? Was Paren... offering assistance? The Crowned in Blood did not know how best to proceed' he was terribly nervous. This was a thin relationship that he needed. The more defectors from decadence he could recruit, the stronger his chances... and the better it would be in those final moments, when those who were worthy passed from one Creation and into the next.

                                    "..."

                                    "I would ask two things from you, one from the mortals and one from the divine." Azgo turned to the dragons for the first time, doing his best to appear comfortable to their minds. They were such fragile things, and the truth was unyeilding. "From you, I would ask a new rite of peace. If any among you accept my pact, the signs of which will manifest across their very flesh and blood, you are not to slay them. You are to exile them from your broods and let even the horizon itself swallow them. If even one of you lays but a claw on my chosen, the Mootstone itself will crumble into ash and your kin will know the full extent of my Wrath." Azgo let the a rumble of stone and thunder into his voice, and a rain of blood reflected in the ice where his eyes were entombed. Was... he... was he insinuating that the invasion was but a token?! It seemed so... "And in turn, they will not harm one of you, or stay among you."

                                    Azgo's other head turned back towards Paren, seeing but mute. The other mouth spoke without direction. "And from you, Paren, I would ask of but a simple thing, a thing I suspect you would revel in." Azgo's voice turned black with anger, swelled with sickness, and whispered. "I would ask that you destroy... Ka'Vah. I know of his... infidelity despite his pledge. He has destoryed the works of my followers, and quit the feilds of battle for Firstborn glory. But I created Ka'Vah to be god-like; If you would ask for the power to do this, ask it and it will be yours."

                                    The Abyss waited on the edge of a knife. History was reaching a critical point...

                                    These next few words could change fate and luck, life and death, imperfection...

                                    and PERFECTION... 

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    ~Reckoning~

                                    REVEAL YOURSELF!  Agni cried, and the light surrounding him grew in intensity until the entire cave was bathed in light.

                                    And Agni saw his foe - or foes- for the first time.  A set of diseased and decaying spirits that glared at him malevolently as they cringed in the light.

                                     

                                    And thus revealed, they scattered. Their first instict was to flee, back into the body of Urru. But in the wake of Agni's anger, they could not seem to find their way back... and the flurries of petals kept turning them around until they were, collectively, lost. United in a single collective unconcious, it was determined that overpowering Agni was their only option. It went against every grain of TASOE, this brute combat, free of lies, deception, or slander. But above everything else, TASOE valued self-preservation, and there was nothing they would not do to ensure they survived.

                                    And so, as quickly as they had dispersed, they once more converged on Agni. The first to come into contact with his radiant godself screamed as they were annihilated, turning into a haze of acrid smoke. It hurt, by everything that wept, it hurt, but it dimmed that cursed radiance enough... and so TASOE steeled itself, and strengthened its resolve. Battle was joined in full, and Agni very much felt himself a giant assaulting a mountain of ants.

                                    Spirits crawled over every inch of his flesh, into every orifice in his mask and hood, and even slipping between the cloth wrappings, a most insidious irksome feeling. Agni roared, and spirits filled his mouth, his lungs, his very godessence. And always, they burned. It was an odd sensation for the god of Fire, but there was no better way to describe it. But where Agni's fires burned hot, TASOE's burned... smothering? It was an inadequate comparison to be sure, but it was the last lucid thought Agni was able to manage before the throes of battle dimmed his errant thoughts entirely.

                                    Agni could not feel which way was up, where he was, who he was, even within his own mind. And then, a cacaphonous chorus from everywhere and nowhere, so unlike the slinking whispers of before:

                                    "Die." spat TASOE. "Die lost and bereft of hope, you faltering ember!

                                    OOC
                                    Raven, I'll get to yours later when I have a little more time.  Tomorrow, I hope.  Sorry these posts are short... I'm squeezing them into the spare three minutes of time my aunt and uncle are giving me :P

                                    Paren took his time to consider the request... the trade.  He knew that this pact would be of monumental consequence to him, his kind... and the world.

                                    Finally, the great ashen head nodded.

                                    Agreed.  I will agree to this rite... and this combat... upon two conditions, one which I demand as necessary, and one which I request if possible.

                                    First.  Those of my kin who come to worship you must do so of their free will.  If they are brainwashed, coerced or otherwise forced against their inner judgement into a pact with you or your followers, then they, and those that have done this to them, will NOT be protected.  My kin can seek to free them from their coersion, and any of your followers who are killed while this rescue is attempted will not have the protection of our rite of Peace, for in their actions, they have broken the Peace they desire.

                                    The Second.  You are a mighty God, Azgo, and absolute ruler of your domain.  On our journey to your sanctum, we lost one of our number, a black dragon named Cantorix.  I ask you, who was Love... show mercy on him and return him to us.  Surely this is in your power.

                                     

                                    If you do these things... I will be your warrior. 

                                     

                                    "And I."  Morenth said, stepping forward and speaking for the first time.  "Ka'Vah has to answer for his crimes against Red Dragonkind.

                                    "I agree to your conditions. So shall it be." There was an inkling in the soul-blood of all the dragons, reaching out into the world with the power of ancient pacts.

                                    Azgo peered curiously at Morenth.

                                    "Ka'Vah must answer for all his crimes. And he has many crimes..."

                                    The Wounded One turned from their group, weaving the sallow vapors of the plane before him like a weave of coarse, toxic fabric. In its own way, everything was a fabric of the gods, easily woven into lifelong patterns... and easily unwound to its very origin if one had the patience. Was this kind of power a blessing or a curse, Azgo wondered. Perhaps it wasa both. He remained silent, concentrating. A figure merged out of the vapors, fragile as soap bubbles in a strong wind. It was a dragon alright, but it was only vaguely Cantorix.

                                    Azgo stopped, unsure. His hands held the final carvings, the last peices of the soul coughed up from the Abyss. He spoke over his shoulder.

                                    "There is something you should know before I finish this... this creation. I can rebuild with what I have, but even gods cannot recreate souls, Paren. New ones? Yes, but old ones? Not even Leaf was intimate with the delicacies of the soul. They can be found... and... destroyed. The broken can be repaired, but not remade. Cantorix is no longer the dragon you knew. In his last moments he stripped his soul of his mind. Of his... heart. There is a beast named Cantorix, who wears the same flesh, bears the same scars. But I cannot rebuild what was destroyed, only what was broken. This Cantorix will be everything Cantorix was in his last moments... an animal driven by instinct. Is this what you want?"

                                     

                                    OOC
                                    A happy ending? No. A bittersweet ending that shows the power and denger of the Abyss? Yes... In its own way, I like this ending more.

                                     

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.

                                    Paren frowned once more.  A life of animal instinct was hardly a life at all.

                                     

                                    However... Somewhere, the Lord of Death still held his court, and all souls must eventually find their way there.  Perhaps, when all this was done, he would find a way to reach Zebus in his far-distant lair and bargain once again for the soul of the dragon Cantorix.

                                    But in order to bargain for a soul, the soul must have a home to return to.

                                    Done.  Paren declared.  Make this so, and I am yours.

                                    ~The Eternal Plane of Fire~

                                    Hate.  Fury.  Animal Instinct.  Death. FIRE.

                                    The white dragon flew from block of obsidian to obsidian, trying to gain a moment of respite from the eternal heat of its new home.  The infection of the Abyss had vanished moments after the entry of the dragon into the realm of Agni, and strength had returned soon after.  But, far from the Prime World, and far from the protection of Sa, the dragon's mind was vulnerable.  Animal instinct had long since taken control over the sentient mind of the White Dragon, but as the unending heat continued... something snapped. 

                                    And something else entered in...

                                    PP

                                    3 PP:  Create Exarch:  The White Dragon has been inhabited by Fuera, an aspect of the Eternal Fire.  Unfortunately, because of the inability for the White Dragon mind to withstand heat, this has resulted in a completely insane (and furious) amalgam of the two.

                                     

                                    Azgo nodded, though he doubted Paren understood. They would learn... in time, what it meant for dragons to be beasts. Men to be animals. For souls to... degenerate. He moved his hand one last time, and a shard of a soul wormed its way out of the nearest fountain alongside the acid and the vaporous fumes. It slithered over to the dragon carved of coulds, and with a primal surge leapt into the crafted skeleton. The smoke condensed... consolidated. Blood boiled and bubbled within the clouds, sinew stretched between membranes and soft bone. Layers upon layers of tissue crawled out of the spaces between spaces, and filled with the acid of the Abyss itself. Lungs snorted, fires belted, eyes flared! The cloud shivered, and the skin peeled into scars across the whole body.

                                    The dragon raised its head, and smoke pealed off the skin like the edges of unused ribbon in a gift. Its eyes opened... and met Morenth's. There was a primal power in those nights. A duty, an honor... Was he truely a beast?!

                                    But there was no familiarity. No spark of memory. There was hunger... and the honor of animals, a savage but innocent thing. He was new-born, and the dragons meant nothing to him. He snarled at Morenth, eyeing her up. His pupils dialted with cunning and his claws flexed. He took a ginger step forward, and was suprised at the coldness of the stone. Suddenly he looked all around, drawing himself up defensively. What was this place, and what were these things-these... prey?

                                    Azgo looked on, with a few shades of pity that mortals could only pretend to be familiar with.

                                    "... it is done. And I... I must go."

                                     

                                    He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

                                    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

                                    My photo was found here.