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 Halls of Creation--- Pruinus breathed a heavy sigh of relief. A great burden had been lifted from her tired shoulders, one that had worn on her since she had first encountered him. His pain was at an end at last. And her children were safe. She wanted this moment to last forever... But it could not. The First demands it. Suddenly, a pair of monstrous hands erupted through the icy floor and burrowed into her calfs, followed by a behemoth of frozen steel and dead flesh. Gnarled limbs and vapors heavy as stone coiled around her and began to crush. The glory of the azure Hall was suddenly drowned in thick black. The stench of dying flesh left to rot and heal for eons clung to her face like a mask of wax. What was happening?! Pruinus could acutely feel the bones of her frozen body strain... and then shatter under the pressure. Agony ran across her limbs like charged lightning. She cried out, but no sound broke free of the mask. But more than the agony, a sickness pumped its way into her body. Ethereal tentacles cut open the fringes of her divinity, and godblood thick as tar poured in by the oceanful. She felt like she was on fire. She began to struggle, fighting as hard as she could against the vice grip. Inch by inch, her slick skin made progress. But as she got close to escaping, the abomination tightened its grip, lurched, and threw her limp body through the statue of Azgo. The berrry branch fell through the hole and p-lunged into the bloody slush below. Her body skipped across the floor, breaking several more statues, before it crashed into the wall. Frosted dust flew up in a cloud at impact. The ColdMother gasped, choking on... nothing. Her whole soul felt tainted with poison and bloated with bile. She risked a glance at her scalding hand. Her flawless carved hand was cracked like a spider's web and festering from within. It was becoming opaque with corrupted blacks and sallow shades. Pruinus staggered to her feet and leaned on the statue of Zebus, waiting for the dust to settle. And flake by flake, the indistinct danger took on edges and shadow. Two nightmarish faces emerged out of the murk, and became only more horrific with clarity. He was barely recognizable. Pruinus wanted to scream, but his glare held her fast. Was this.... had he...? The Crowned in Blood loomed over the broken base of his statue, unmoving in the slightest regard. His body had been stripped bare inside of his armor. Bones were covered in thin, black membranes. Cavernous holes had been carved where a tangled system of organs had churned with hot blood. Azgo's faces were little more than blue-black skulls with eyes frozen solid, starring into her. His cheeks were gone, and small streams of cooling blood poured down between his remaining teeth and onto his shoulders. The Apostate's Bane was little more than piecemeal, rimmed in solid blood and scrags of loose meat. A gaping hole in the chest revealed the only moving things in his body: a pair of fused, pus-coated hearts. Veins and arteries grew in and out of the organs like the mixed roots of ancient undying trees. Blood seeped and spurted through the weak walls of the organs. Pints of blood messily splashed to the floor every few seconds, sizzling and bubbling.Azgo looked down at the uncovered inscription, shaking his skeletal head in disgust. "Evil, Sister? You have no idea what true evil is, do you?!"His voice was more mechanical than before, like air scraping against bare bone. The sickly vitality was gone... but the HATE in his voice was distinguishable enough. His decrepid body shambled forward."I am the seed of YOUR evils! I am the monster birthed of YOUR ambition! All of my pain... all of my suffering... all the toil and foolishness of the mortals... All of the evil in this world can be traced back to your hands and your heart." A tenderness entered his voice, weak as it was. "I know you didn't want it. The appeals of power never had the same temptation for you that they had for the others...""But YOU held their counsel! They might have listened! But that didn't matter, did it? You followed them because... because... because you loved them more than me."Azgo suddenly lurched over. That was more painful than all his years of sickness. He glared at her. Prunuis hardly held his gaze, wracked with pity. Azgo felt his blood boil at her eyes. Did she pity him? Still?!"DO YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF GUILT? OR ARE YOU AN EVEN GREATER MONSTER THAN I THOUGHT?!"The husk of Azgo roared, and charged her. Pruinus stumbled into a better postion mindlessly, enraptured with new guilt. Not guilt for betrayal, but that she had failed to ease his suffering twice now. She had in fact, only tormented him. They clashed again, and the Halls of Creation rumbled with their force.Pruinus did her best to weave between the storms of calculated blows, but it seemed that Pruinus was pushing herself to her very limits just to keep pace. The Wounded One had only become faster, his footwork like the steps of a ghost, and he attacked with more than just his fists. The ColdMother ducked beneath a pair of apparently inaccurate attacks, ready to exploit his lack of defense, when an invisible fang of energy impaled her abdomen. Gallons upon gallons of searing sickness invaded, rotting her soul in its wake. She stumbled, clutching her side, and almost didn't see the follow through of Azgo's full-body clash. Over and over it happened: distracting swings and imposing footwork only to trap her into an unseen strike to her divinity. The room spun before Pruinus' eyes, and her own body felt alien and frighteningly unfamiliar. The festering was worsening, and the translucent beauty of her form was replaced with patches of stygian darkness and curdled blood."Azgo, I-" A swift and destructive uppercut landed Pruinus on her fragile back. Fully black portions of her body crumbled into frosted ash. Azgo began to advance, but stopped mid-step and threw up a wall of noxious fumes all around him. Several blue-white bolts of energy cascaded unto the wall from behind, but were absorbed into the smoke. The room filled with light, and with the warmth of... souls. Hundreds of spirit packs and herds crowded the room. They moved with perfect cordination, throwing themselves at the vaporous cocoon. A few dozen of the strongest floated over to Pruinus, and began carrying her away from the fighting and towards the stairs to the third floor.The cocoon twisted, shuddered, and then split open with a hurricane of acids and lashing winds. Azgo caught a glimpse of the spirits bearing Pruinus to the next floor. With an abyssal bellow, The shambling god began wading through the masses of spirits. With one had he smote them with disease of the soul, and the spirits imploded in ashes. With the other, he washed them with acid and toxins untill the souls attacked themselves out of the desperation to die. But for every herd that perishes, two more took its place and forced him back with sacrifice of dozens. Then it was over... and Pruinus had escaped once more...No.Azgo would fail again. He had come too far. He had sacrificed too much. The Lord of Pain dug his heels in, and with the momentum of a falling mountain pressed again into the spirit hordes. The room was swiftly plunged into a hazy green shroud, snuffing the light eminating from the Primal Spirits. The sent of ash and death floated and filled the room to its brim. A tall indistinct figure crawled out of the smoke, horrified at what he found."Is that...Azgo?... You escaped?! Oh no.-I mean, uhhh, Master! You escaped?!"Ka'Vah shuddered to his core just saying those words. 'Master'... nothing filled him with more dread than the idea of being Azgo's servant, except being the servant that Azgo may learn betrayed him. What had he gotten himself wrapped up in?Azgo's frostbitten skulls stared at Ka'Vah in disbelief. How had his servant survived so long? And why hadn't he reported to him sooner?! But this was no time for questions. There were only commands."Ka'Vah! Slay them all! Let not a single pup escape! Pruinus must die!!"The Eclipse Aflame hesitated. If he did this, was there turning back? What if Azgo survived?! But in the end, he had little choice. If he left, and Azgo survived... it was best not to think about it. Ka'Vah gathered up the scorch of his old fires andspread himself thin across the spirits, suffocating and smothering them with bitter defeat.Azgo passed through the carnage, shaking off the petty spirits clinging to his heels. He sprinted up the flights of stairs, eager to finish what had been started so long ago....The grand, delicately inscribed door was ajar. Carvings in the language of the gods adorned its edges, all describing the vastness and voids before the gods themselves. Azgo gently pushed the door open, and entered with the stride of a king come home to his throne.It was a terribly large room. No mortal or even god had walked in its chamber before this moment. A collossal statue stood mysteriously and magnificently on the far end. It was a cross between a humaniod and a cloud of darkness, of a void. At all junctions and edges it was unrecognizable and yet fatherly and motherly. The entirety of creation stretched under its outreached limb.A simple inscription was the only writing inside of the room.-THE FIRST-Pruinus was leaning heavily on the spirits, hobbling towards a carvedhole in the roof through which sunlight could reflect off of the statue. Only heavy, razor snow flowed into the chamber at the moment. Pruinus looked over her shoulder. There was a horror in her eyes, and a calmness.Azgo paused....The time had come.Azgo lashed out with a flood of ethereal, deicidal poisen. The spirits collapsed, choking. Azgo slowly advanced towards her. He had come so far. It felt more like a dream than reality. His voice seemed lost in the past and in the pain."Do you know why I hate you more than any other, Pruinus?"The Coldmother summoned up the last portion of her strength, and burst apart into a feirce blizzard wind. The gust raced through the hole and towards the castles of clouds. Azgo disincorperated into a dark, sallow miasma and followed with the force of a summer tempest.The summit of the mountain was soon wreathed in a terrible blizzard that seemed to be moving like a comet's tail toward the upper reaches of the sky. A thick sulferous storm blazed in pursuit and enveloped the blizzard in darkness. A thousand storms brewed within, as lashing winds and brutish power churned wildly within. Azgo reached out and crushed the storm, which fought back with nigh unstoppable resistance, untill it at last collapsed back into Pruinus, miles and miles above the surface. Azgo resumed his physical form, locked in a grappling combat, and falling back to the planet's surface.Azgo clasped her throat with both hands, and let the floodgates open of his illness. A never-ending river of rotting soul merged into Pruinus. She tried to scream, but the grip was too tight. It was agonizing at first, but the longer it went on, the less she felt, and the darker the daylight seemed to be. She was more ash than ice now. Her eyes glowed yellow in the depths of the ether. Azgo forced her to stare into his eyes, both blind and seeing."It is because I loved you more than any other... And I would have suffered everything I have suffered up untill now if you had only asked me to, my little sister."No mortal artist could have painted those eyes. And no god could have imagined them. Pruinus coulsn't tell if they were nothing but HATE or LOVE.The pair hurtled back towards the planet. Faster. Faster. Faster. Azgo took one fell hand off the throat of his dreaded enemy, and plunged it into her soul.A warped scream echoed into the ether and, having no boundaries in the darkness, was lost forever.The pair of gods crashed back into the mountain, breaking through the summit, every floor of the Hall, and a few caverns beneath the mountain. Dust and ice bathed the entirety of the new... crater as the mountain collapsed outward. The world shook, even at its very edges. Beneath the layers of rock and the clouds of dust, a god kneeled over the corpse of his sister....Azgo wept.