I love you more than the flame that limits the world to the circle it illumines and excludes all the rest.
But the darkness embraces everything: shapes and shadows, creatures and me, people, nations–just as they are.
It lets me imagine a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night. ~Ranier Marie Rilke
A long, long time ago, in the place that was between the places that were, in the time between the ticks of the clock was a house of simple wood and brick, with smoke that was not smoke puffing steadily out of a chimney into the void. It is here that our story begins.
Our tale takes us into the building and to a table, where two beings, one tall and impossibly bright, the other short and, despite the radiance filling the room, shrouded in shadows, sat playing a game of Rimple. Every so often a laugh of delight and triumph or a grunt of worry and defeat would come from one or the other as they sat in silence, patterned tiles sliding this way and that across the table before them as he attempted to get past her pieces while she attempted to capture his. The smaller goddess (whose name is Vega) made a move and looked up to meet the gaze of the god(whose name is Altair). Altair smiled in reply, enjoying how he could just barely make out the color of her eyes despite the radiance he gave off, then looked down. His final Pyla had been surrounded by Vega’s pieces, and defeat was inevitable at this point, as a Pyla was necessary for victory. Altair's grin widened and he shook his head.
“It appears that you won again.” The God said contentedly. “What is it, seven in a row? I must be getting rusty.”
“Now now,” Vega clucked, wagging her finger at Altair. “None of that. You still hold the record of thirty seven wins in a row. I should be allowed to have seven in a row every once in a while.”
Altair chuckled and reached across the table to lay his hand on Vega’s. “And do you recall how many games we had to play before I beat your record of thirty six?”
The gods laughed at that, remembering those many, many games, played over the days, years, centuries, seconds they had known one another in this space that Time did not know. Altair basking in the memory of his victory, Vega laughing because Altair didn’t know that she had let him win. Eventually, the two stopped laughing and merely sat in silence, enjoying one another’s company, for while they seemed to be opposites, she Dark and he Light, they knew the belonged together in some way that defied reason. This had been how it had always been, and how it would always be. And it was Good.
“Another?” Vega asked after an indeterminable time (a minute? A century?), reaching for the pile of Pyla she had captured and begining to lay them and their attending Syl on the board.
“No… not now. We can do that after. Lets go out.” Altair replied, shaking his head as he looked down at the Rimple board and pushed the Ol tiles back towards the center of the board for their next game.
Vega grinned in response. “The usual?” She asked eagerly.
Altair grinned back. “I don’t see why not. I’ll count to ten.”
Vega glared at him. “Its hardly fair. Ten is-"
With a giggle of glee, the goddess raced from the room and into the darkness that was the void. Altair waited until he had counted to ten (seconds? Millenia? Plank-Times?), and then got up and strode out of the house, grabbing his cloak and mask such that the game of hide-and-seek would not be too easy for him to win. Today he would start in the District of Forever. That seemed like a good enough place as any.
Endless days they’d had together. It was true. They were gods; mightier beasts that any. They’d had months, years, ages together. They'd had eternity together. But they had barely known each other. Such is the way of gods. Perhaps if it had never happened, perhaps if the flame of her leaving had not caught, had not lit the world and inflamed it with bright, accursed, consuming Time, they could have been together forever and for forever again. But Time, oh Time! It was the ending, for them, before they started, for how could they ever have been? They’d rode the morning together, and now they never knew.
She'd hid in the Crook of Nowhere, along the Avenue of Somewhere, just past the River of Something in the District of Forever. It was a cozy place, and she was Darkness, so she'd huddled in the interstices, the between-places, and waited, eyes shut tight like a child. As though believing in some foolish, wonderful fantasy that, if you cannot see, then so too can you not be seen. The darkness of the space, of her closed eyes, was peaceful, gentle, like a warm embrace. Darkness was not bright and commanding as it's cousin, Light. Darkness was soft and sweet.
She'd dared a peek beyond those ebony lashes, at the void of swirling somethings. It was a odd thing, the void, something that, despite the comfort of darkness, she'd always been curious about. Darkness was happier, cooler and more welcoming than Light, but it had none of its stark revelation, its stern judgment of all that was. Darkness had always been pulled to secrets, or perhaps it was secrets to darkness pulled. And so Vega was drawn to the secret of the void.
They say that there are secrets that should never be revealed, secrets not for the telling. Their telling ripped the world apart, forced it into two worlds: the World Before and the World After. There was the blissful ignorance of Before, the stark reality of After. Who could choose between these two? Who could decide which was better? Vega stared into the void and saw its secret. She saw the world Before, she saw the world After, and she had her decision ready as breathing.
Time caught fast on the canvas of nothing. It burned and rippled across its surface like spilled paint, brightening, yet horribly, irrevocably defining. Altair could sense it, in the sudden burgeoning of consciousness, of awareness of location. He’d been riding the sky with his beloved, had he not? Mere moments before? But what were those memories, those paltry things against the onslaught of time? Their impossibility, their fleeting longevity faltered and broke beneath the heat of his realization. And Time arrived, crashing like some mad behemoth, into his world. And his beloved was nowhere to be seen.
But there was a person in the Time, he was more aware of that fact than he had ever been of anything. The strands of it all led to this being. He could see them knitting together, and their twitching fibers were the being’s to command, for they followed him. Not his hands or arms, but him. For they were him. And he spoke.
“You wife is gone my friend,” said the being, and Altair saw that he had a form. Sights, sounds, even the feel of the void on his skin (for he seemed to now have skin) were settling slowly upon him as the advent tide of Time arrived in full-force.
The being shifted, and Altair became aware of red robes falling to just past the being’s knees (for he also seemed to have knees). The being looked at Altair, his face blank, his gaze stony, for he looked out from two black pits set in a blank face.
“Your wife foresaw a time when life would people this blank void. She saw men and women, children. She saw light, she saw the petals of flowers parting at its touch,” he paused, “And she saw you, Steward of this bright, happy world, and her heart filled with love. But the vision was fading. And rapidly. This nothingness, this false realm of potentiality in which you have both been living, it was slipping away along with the dream. Reality was ripping at the seams. She would lose it all soon enough, so she threw herself into the void, threw herself into this happy future. So great was her wish, her love for this perfect future, that this happened.”
And now the being cast his gaze about, not at the Void, for that was no longer, but at the Time stitching together around them.
“And Time came to give her what Void could not: a future, one of happiness and joy for you and all your children. It created Time and Space where once there was only potential for such. It bound reality together, and set a foundation for her dream. But before she cast herself into the Void, she created me, the last vessel for her lifeblood, the one Steward of Time. And I await you here, as I have from the Dawn of Time, asking you to please give your wife the future she deserves.”
Altair froze, not quite understanding both the words spoken to him and the sensations that were wrapping around him, a collapsing of potentiality into reality.
"I- I do not understand." The god stammered, looking around wildly, light flaring from the seams of his robes as he pulled the mask from his face, illuminating the world around him. "Where is She?"
Around him, Time stitched together the universe, and as it pushed through the Place between Places, Space found a home along with Time. Turning, he saw his house, his and Vega's house, shred into pieces as the wave of Space-Time hit it, throwing its potentiality into the universe. Wood was squeezed of its Water before bursting into Fire, Brick broke apart into Earth and smoke spread as Air and all of it was flung across this new creation to take its necessary place now that all things must have a unique place in both Space and Time. And just like that, the universe was complete, and the Place between Places, the Time between the movement of the clock, was gone.
But Altair did not notice this, did not care to notice this. Brilliant light shone like a spotlight from his cowled face, illuminating one corner of the universe after the next as he attempted to find his beloved. And yet, even as he searched, he felt the memory of her vanishing, draining down hidden tracks of his mind until all that remained was a dull ache and a deep sense that something was Wrong.
"How- I-" The God blinked, unclear on what it was that he had been doing. Had he been looking for someone? A woman? But... A name slipped past his mind, brushing against his conciousness as he tried to grasp at it. He stared at the God before him for a long moment.
But the being was barely listening. Even as the Bright God watched, the Red One twisted and pulled at the threads of potentiality, the essence of things that were, what could be and what never was. And again there was that impression that he did not physically move the strings, but that they were a part of him, moving with him, flowing through him. They seemed to weave through reality, holding it together, and leading back to him. He was a sort of junction for the potential threads of existence.
He seemed to be examining the fabric of the universe, checking it over for flaws or holes. Here and there he pulled at a stitch, carrying along some mote of existence, some potential phrase or thought. He seemed to be searching for something.
They cast an odd pair, those two gods, hovering above creation. It had seemed as though they had been standing, or at least supported by something, just a moment ago. But then, that was false. In that moment, there had been no need for support, and so there had been none. But now in the World After, in a space with Time and up and down and ground and limits and boundaries, the perception of the mind shifted, and just as an eye fills in its saccades, the mind filled in that space before with support. But now, here they were, one in Red patiently examining creation, and another, forged of Light, distractedly examining the Red.
Down below, the earth stretched out to the horizons, a natural effect of this Space business. All the potential for earth, air, water, had been split apart. Wind, as it does, took the world above. It spread over the world like a bubble, a canopy. Below was earth, flat as earth is wont to do, with jutting rocks and sunken valleys breaking up the landscape. And around it, at the edges, was the water.
The Red tugged at a stubborn string of the world. He had been searching the tapestry that these threads all formed, and isolated the bit he desired. With a bit of pulling and prodding, he pulled it free from the pattern, and set it into the world.
The two small children glanced around them, bewildered. The last they remembered, they were playing quietly in the house between the ticks and the tocks, their parents having stepped outside not long before. Then, they found themselves here, with their father glowing confused before them alongside a red robed figure.
The smaller child, the boy who, like his mother, seemed to be wrapped in shadows, nestled himself closer to his sister. Her brilliant hair cascaded over her shoulders and provided a fine hiding place for him. In fright he dropped the toy he had been playing with. It was a small, furry creature that, as it left his grasp, grew still in the near-void and began to fall apart. The girl glanced between the two adults, her gaze casting light upon Red Robe.
"Father," she asked, her voice small and smooth. "What is happening? Where is mother?"
Altair looked at his children. Strange. He did not remember having children. It had just been him and Vega in their house. And then she had left and he had followed and then... this. But where had she gone? And why did he remember children laughing?
"Your Mother has gone away, Vasa. Do not worry, I am sure she will return. She has left us a gift." He said, mustering the most composure that he could to get out those three sentances.
And yet in his mind, those last scenes played out over and over again. Vega had grabbed her black cloak and slipped it around her shoulders... no, she was black as the cloak, no, HE had grabbed the cloak, and had left. He had followed, that he was sure of... was it immediately? No. He had waited. Oh, why had he waited? If he had not waited, she would still be here. He could have protected her... did she need protecting? Yes, she had. Clearly she had. His beautiful... blue (grey?) eyed goddess had dissapeared.
Suddenly he was full of anger. Where had she gone? Why had this place taken her from him?
"WHERE IS SHE?" He roared, ripping off a glove and pointing it into the darkness.
A spark caught in the night, flickered and then flared into existence: a sphere of fire, dimly illuminating a small area in the blackness, not even reaching the world below. It was not enough.
A band of brass appeared, ringing the sphere and rotating slowly around it. At it circled, it fed energy into the sun and it shone brighter. It was not enough.
Another band, circling in another direction, and the orb grew even hotter and brighter. Then another and another. Four rings now circled the nacent sun and light shone throughout the heavens and onto the earth below, blocked every so often by the slowly rotating rings.
Altair lowered his hand and looked around. Below stretched out a barren landmass, surrounded by salt water. Above the earth, air clung like a blanket. And above that was the sphere which cast light both down at the world and up towards the empty heavens... was that a smudge of light in the distance? Altair made a note to explore that later.
But there was no Vega. Not below, not above, nowhere. Perhaps it wasn't bright enough?
Another ring appeared and the orb grew brighter and hotter still, becoming slightly unpleasant to watch.
Nothing. She was nowhere. The mindless rage bubbled upwards, filling Altair as he pointed at the orb once more. If this world had taken Vega from him. It would suffer until he held her again. A sixth and final ring appeared around the sphere, which grew incredibly bright and hot as a result, sending its angry rays down to the world below.
"Of course they will be helpful." he snapped at the one in Red. "Everything is helpful at some point or another. Do you have more advice, Stranger? I do not even know your name yet you seem to know me far better than you should. If you do not, I will take my children and leave."
3 PP: Shape Artifact: The Sun. The sun is a roiling ball of fire that is a bit too bright and a bit too heavy on the UV rays for life to happily exist on the surface without protection of some kind. Unprotected skin will sunburn within twenty minutes, blister within the hour and die within three. Despite this intensity, the world is not any hotter or colder than it would be with a normal sun (that is, the world is not all desert). It *can* provide Harm PP to any group that does not account for this increased intensity. Surrounding the sun are six rings that circle it like a gyroscope, slowly rotating both along their length but also rotating around the sun as well. It is these broad bands that provide the day-night cycle to the world below, as they rotate and periodically block the sun from shining down on the world below.
"I meant no disrespect, sire," said the being, bowing deeply, "I hoped merely to indicate my reasoning. You see, I truly was left here for nothing more, and nothing less that to serve the rightful lord of this realm. The true King Among Gods. And to my understanding, that would indicate yourself. And thus, I must pledge myself, wholly and truly, to your whims. Further, I am Eago, sire, a lowly servant."
The being known as Eago straightened up. His gaze shifted and fell upon the rapidly expanding pool of light cast by the new "Sun". His gaze travelled along the coasts or this newly revealed world, across cracks in the land. It followed the passage of waves, and took in the invisible movements of the winds.
"That is quite a beauteous creation, what do you call it?"
"My Servant, you say?" Altair chuckled, glancing over at his two children momentarially to gauge their reactions. "Never really considered what I would do with a servant. I thought you called yourself the Steward of Time? Does this mean you know its secrets?"
He then considered the Orb. "I had not thought to give it a name. It is A Sun."