He was taken aback by the clever move, but soon recovered, his hands pulling back his Pyl into the Tower in preparation for another offensive.
"Happiness is all I remember." He spat. "Happiness and togetherness. You and your little 'gifts' took the rest from me. Hair, eyes, build... All I had, the measly tiny bit of Vega that was left was my memory of how Happy we were."
"Joy? I had Vega. Love? I had Vega. Damn it all, does it make me 'happy' that I cannot remember my own wife's face because she decided unilaterally that I would be better of in a place where I would forget it?"
His pieces moved out in a vicious attack meant to capture several vital Pyla.
"You're clearly smart enough. Can you think of any possible case where I would have found that 'good'?"
The fact that he had, for the briefest of moments, acknowledged that the figure before him was, in fact, his wife did not register in his brain.
"I have had bad experiences with Gods in the past, Agnoth. In fact, you could say that everything you see here..." She shimmied side-to-side in a way that, had there been flesh on her bones, would have seemed alluring... but on a skeleton just seemed pointless... "Is the result of the loving cares of the Gods. I am here because it was the nearest bit of land from There." A hand stabbed out towards the dimly glowing haze that was the Forge.
"Are there any sentient beings about? Forgive me for being blunt, but after my prior encounters, I want as little to do with your kind as possible."
The corners of her mouth twitched for the brieftest of moments. But she remained as defiant as ever, her chin jutting out in a characteristic gesture. Apparently satisfied with her feint and offensive, she took on a suddenly defensive tact, and protected her Pyla with a deft hand. He wasn't sure, but Altair thought he sensed another clever feint in her sudden rout.
"I loved you. But sometimes, you were so damn stubborn. And so damn blind."
She shook her head in exasperation.
"Do you want to know why this world is pain for you? Because you refuse to let go of that past. You refuse to let go of me. There is so much in this world that is beautiful, and pure. You have children! Many, many children who love you, and against all reason, too! As you see me now, this is how I always was. You don't remember yourself, you don't remember me. You were a small little man yourself! In that space, we were frail, and Rimple was so vital because it was our whole universe. But now the whole universe is your universe, and that frightens you!
"The reason your image of me keeps changing? You can't decide which is the most perfect version. You say this life isn't enough? I wanted this life, I wanted children, and to create. But I couldn't have it all. I wouldn't take that all if it meant you dying. And so I gave it all to you. It is a precious gift. And you dash it against the stony face of your own hubris."
"A precious gift? The most valuable thing in all of existence is taken from me and replaced with a lump of... of... Manure and you have the gall to claim that it is somehow ever the more precious because it was given me by she whom I loved? Ludicrous!"
It *was* another feint, but by the time Altair sensed it and moved to defend his Tower, one of her pieces had slipped inside and into one of the safe spots. Two more and she would win. Quickly he opened up a trap of his own, feigning flustered confusion as he 'tried to prevent her attack.' The trap sprung, and three more Pyl joined the ever-growing pile of stones next to the board.
"I suppose Eago was part of the plan as well... guiding me away from asking the right questions, trying to stand in my way and make me forget you. He played his role well... up until the moment I opened that door, he acted ever the faithful servant... keeping me from finding you."
A look of annoyance passed across his face, pulling on the scar tissue.
"You claim you were not hiding. Well, I called out for you, begged for you to appear so many times, and you did not. Yet you are here now, so death did not claim you. What do you call it when you could answer someone but choose not to? I call that hiding."
As much as she tried to hide it, Vega was enjoying the game, and her hands soon moved across the board like an old pro. With mischievous delight, she played hard to get, evading his pieces at every opportunity, and drawing them ever deeper into her territory, where they would be hard-pressed to fight back.
"Your questions consfuse me. I did not hide because I was dead. Did you not just call me forth? There was a deep and resonating force and I was alive again, mortal, but here. I assume that was you or..."
Altair cursed quietly as Vega trapped two of his pieces by surrounding them with hers. He had captured nearly half of her pieces at this point, but that left him with nearly half of his own pieces trapped by her own... and he had far fewer to spare. He felt a noose beginning to tighten, but... he still had some tricks up his sleeve.
"Eago? Eago said you created him, a servant to explain what had happened to you and to watch over me. Supposedly, according to him, the last thing you ever did. You mean you don't recall any of that?"
Vega smiled, either at the game or at Altair's words, he couldn't tell.
"Well then, I suppose I have another story to tell you."
She sighed, and looked up from the board to gaze directly at Altair.
"It should answer many questions. Namely, why I was so sure you would be happy. It pains me to hear that this is not so but... there is still time.
"You see, when I arrived at the Avenue of Somewhere, after ensconsing myself in the Crook of Nowhere, I was visited by an apparition of sort. I suppose that Time, in its strange way, was already bleeding over, fusing and separating the Time Before to the Time After, in anticipation of what I would do next. I was visited by a pronouncement, in a form that could only be more trustworthy had it come from your own lips.
"I saw myself, but not as I had ever known myself. I was older, more weary, but infinitely more beautiful and happy than I had ever seen myself. And I wore not my customary robes of blue, but rather ones of crimson. And in my hand, I held a curious white mask. This apparition told me of the future, told me what would happen. It was the secret, the secret no one is ever supposed to tell.
"We could be happy."
Vega smiled at the memory.
"She told me, or I suppose I told me, what to do. How to bring about the end of life as I knew it. How to make time start again. And I did it. Could you ever forgive me?"
And suddenly she knew what she had to do. Perhaps she had known it ever since she had arrived. Perhaps ever since she had died along that Avenue so long ago.
Now... this was not exactly where I was expecting this to go... So... my "God" is now the Reaper, everyone. Altair is going to be mortal... at least for the forseeable future.
"Now I've heard everything. Vega is Eago is Vega? That is too cruel to be true... my wife standing by and watching me be in misery? You think I wouldn't have noticed that my wife was now my advis - You what? You can't just surrender like that. Thats not... Thats just not... "
And suddenly light dawned in his eyes and he saw his wife, who, in all things, had managed to trick him... even now, writing in new rules to the game they had played innumerable times, a game which had always been more about the two of them than the actual pieces on the board.
"Vega..." He breathed out, and in one motion grabbed his wife and crushed her to his chest, feeling her warm body against his as waves of familiarity washed over him.
They stood there for some time, as he would not let her go, burying his head in her hair and breathing in the fragrance of her being, a scent he could only describe as "Home." one of his hands came up to caress that hair, smoothing it away from her face as he looked down at his Love...
Who was grimacing in pain and making soft grunting noises against his chest. Altair quickly let go and Vega staggered back a few paces, gasping for breath.
"I believe you, wife. If you say that we cannot both be gods for that would tear the universe asunder, then that is true. Then I will no longer be a God, and we can live our lives as they were always meant to be... Together."
Altair stepped back and pulled off his gloves and bared his chest. He forced his hand into his chest and pulled out that which made him divine and cast it away.
"And now we are at last equal again, my love. Come, let us go..." He took a step and stumbled, catching himself with one hand and rising again to his feet.
"Oh... Strange. This feels..."
Altair fainted and fell to the floor, but inches from it, his body vanished. The last thing that he saw was his own energy, flowing into Vega.
And the Throne was empty.
A wailing cry split the air as a new Zobaga joined the world. The Healer placed the child, a son, in his first set of robes and then handed him to his parents.
"Welcome to Sericea, little Altair." His mother crooned, gathering the newborn to her chest as the baby snorted, coughed, and promptly fell asleep.
Right at that time when the king of gods was playing a simple game with a mortal, hordes of goblins scattered across the lands. In his blindness though, he didn't see an even greater evil was forming.
The beginning of the gith invasion force had erected a massive base of operations near the southern coast of the mainland. Devastating everything for nearly a few miles, they were nonetheless able to keep their presence unknown due to powerful magics. They knew they had a long way to go to reach their destination, and so they prepared.
Ever so slowly they creeped out, slaughtering any creature that unfortunately got too close. And thus they scouted and grew and learned. It was only a matter of time before they were ready to move out!
1PP Nourish: The Gith, they grow and expand their numbers in preparation of moving out. 1PP Nourish: The reavers and spitters under the gith gain in strength and numbers in preparation of the upcoming war. 1PP Command: A base camp is set up on the lower coast of the mainland. Its size is small now, but it will eventually grow to be massive as it makes way for the main invasion force.
0PP: Some small groups of gith and reavers go out to scout. If they spot anyone they kill on sight, but there are a small chance of survivors escaping if they remain unnoticed.
Suddenly she realized what he was saying, what Altair meant. She leaped to her feet, and knocked the Rimple board, sending the pieces cascading across the floor. She jumped backwards, even as the energy surged at her. It grappled with her, burrowing into her chest as she clawed at it, fighting, as though to tear it clean out. But it had its hold on her. And she was changing.
Light sparked at her finger-tips and toes. It flowed through her hair, making it ripple and wave without thought to gravity or wind. Her eyes suddenly shone with an incandescent glow, and the very surface of her skin glittered like diamonds. The light exploded outwards, and then collapsed inwards. Something was wrong. Why did she feel this way? She was so sad, so very sad. But why? What made her shining eyes weep so? What made her hands tremble and her limbs shake? She had a vague impression, but that was it.
She stretched to her now full and impressive height. Her skin had dulled to the glow of dusk, and bands of it painted her god-flesh. Her hair streamed out behind her as beams of dusky light, and her toes hovered inches above the ground. A square board lay at her feet, and she knelt to inspect it. What an odd sort of thing it was. And what were all these little pieces scattered about here? She straightened up once more, and beheld the strange throne that sat at one end of the hall. What a lovely sort of chair it was. She moved over and sat upon it. It was the perfect seat for a Queen, a perfect seat for a goddess.
She was crying now. She didn't know why. She couldn't remember. All she knew was that she has just suffered a terrible loss.