Urk lifted his arms and closed his eyes. The green sun rose in the sky, and it warmed his body. He could feel the light inch along his skin, starting with his forehead, then passing over his placid face. This, the warm of the sky, was the second great blessing, and his body was eager for it. The blessing passed too quickly. His skin grew accustomed to the temperature, and the communion ended.
He opened his eyes, drew his club, and raised it to the sky. The warriors with him did likewise, and with voices as one, they screamed their gratitude to the heavens. The bellow lasted for a moment, for a miniute, for as long as the warriors could hold it. One by one, out of breath, they stopped, until only Urk remained. Every muscle in his chest was tight, trying to force the last speck of air from his lungs. Not for the first time he wondered if he could break his own ribs from doing this.
At least Urk stopped screaming, and gasped for air. This was the fifth blessing, the feel of new air, new warmth, entering the body. He filled his lungs and he could feel his skin stretch to try to make room for all he took in. A joint in his back, one that had been bothering him all morning -- he must have slept on a rock -- cracked.
The warriors exhaled, controlled, as a hunter is controlled.
The cooks called for them. The first blessing, the warmth of wood and cooked food, was ready. The meal was small and simple, made from roots and other plants, but that was alright. The warriors went hunting today. The blackfoot tribe had encroached on their land, and they would erradicate them. There would be meat tonight.
Despite the early hour, the day was already warm, and as Urk ate, he began to sweet. The food was almost too hot to swallow, and many spices had been put in, but that didn't account for the heat. Perhaps this was a sign that Agni had heard the prayers of the shamans last night, and that he was watching over them and would grant them victory.
The arctic elves barely spoke to the azer-man as they escorted him to before the rulers. Although Queen Ilsagar, Lady of Iceheim, was the First of four, she was the first among equals. The farscouts didn't take the azer-man to her alone, but all three.
Out in the cold, in the raw wind, servants had constructed three thrones out of snow. It was a hasty job, and flakes fell off the one on the right. The backs of the thrones were to the glacier, and the Midnight Sun hung just above it. Despite the years of trying, the elves had not been able to move it further.
The farscouts brought the azer-man before the three. Ilsagar was in the middle, her body as naked as a blade. Her legs were crossed, but her arms rested on the chair, palms up. Here eyes were closed, and her chest rose slowly but steadily for many long moments before she exhaled. A dusting of snow fell from the sky, and as each prick of ice touched her skin, she smiled.
To her left was Queen Gisa, Lady of Thawhold, Second of Four. Her throne was covered with furs, most white, but a few rare brown ones, brought from the far south where creatures didn't live in perpetual snow. Poles had been stuck in the ground around her throne, and a leather tarp between them, which protected her from the weather. Occasionally small tufts of the stuff slid off the back and onto the ground behind the throne. Gisa herself wore simple leather clothes, with white fur peeking out around the collar and sleeves. Her hand covered her eyes, protecting them from the brightness of the landscape. Every other moment she shifted, looking to see if the azer-man had arrived yet.
On Ilsagar's right was King Bernhar, Lord of Frosthaven, Third of Four. His chair lacked cushion, but his clothing was thick, and a great cape of fur and skin was draped over his shoulders. He was leaning forward in his chair, and there his body remained, though his eyes darted to every movement. They paused just long enough to assess the threat and then moved one, seeking. His left hand was pressed against the armrest of his throne. His fingers moved up and down the side, melting troughs into it.
The azer-man was brought before them, and though he was offered a snow-chair as well, they offered no warmth or other comfort. It remained to be judged is hospitality would be extended or not.
The world still felt like the edge of a dream, or a nightmare. His escape... he had been flour under a millstone, ground into dust. Had he been stripped of everything? Azgo might have been free, but The Crowned in Blood still felt shackled. Like a turtle with too heavy a shell...
He took a moment to adjust himself. The world felt unfamiliar and distant. Upon what shore did this wisp of a god come into essence? Azgo spread himself out and caressed the brail of the coastline. Grain by grain, he slowly remembered this area. He had once laid a plague upon this area, these hinterlands. Many warriors had gathered here, awash in the vigor of the Primal Spirits. They had held their own against his legions.
Populate Populace (1AP): Locusts are formed. A great plague upon sentient species will soon begin to take its toll.
Nourish Populace (1AP): The cultists survive their long journey be feasting upon the "gifts" of Azgo.
He walked the crown. The air around him seemed to shimmer in the sunlight. Order attempted to exert its control where he passed. Walking for days, he saw much. Dragons in flight. Human villages popping up every where. Things had changed much since he was alive last. Alive last...... That thought made him chuckle. He was alive yet not. Zebus retrieved his essence and saved it from returning to chaos. Zebus must have thought that he still yet had a purpose to fill. Looking like the other humans and blending in seemed easy enough, although many bowed their heads when he passed as if in reverence. "That's right I'm no longer a full god anymore. I can pass among the mortals more easily now..." Walking among the countryside, it wasn't very long before he came upon a very strange meeting of humans and........What he didn't know. Were they craterspawn?
Quietly he watched and waited. It would be rude to interrupt after all, but something told him this wasn't to be missed.
Oh boys! can marcus play too?
His name is Giroth
Giroth eyed the ice-chair-thing with distrust and cautiously reached out to touch it with one red finger. Pain radiated up his arm as the cold permeated his body, while the arm rest of the chair began to drip and melt. He pulled his hand away.
"Thank you for your offer, mighty ones, but I must decline. I fear your land and my body simply are at odds with one another. I shall stand for now."
Giroth stood for a moment and looked at the sun that pulsed just overhead. There was no denying it. It was the same as the one that flooded the caverns of Sil Arkesh with monsters.
"I come for that." He said, pointing at the sun. "Or rather, because of that. My people have one as well, and it is causing us unending sorrow."
Giroth quickly outlined the events that had befallen his city: The Magma, the rebirth as Azer, the earthquake, the appearance of the sun and the monsters.
"... and I do not know if my city still stands, mighty ones. But still, I ask your help. Help me to save my city."
Agni watched the orcs for a time, and was impressed by their bravery and skill. One band in particular had caught his attention, its leader a particularly fine specimen, posessing all the attributes that one would want in an Orc.
And so it was that the God chose to bless this tribe of Orcs.
It was night, and the orcs were asleep save for a few sentries, Urk among them, watching the horizon for blackfoot raiders. Suddenly, the air grew hot and heavy, and Urk had barely time to wonder what was happening before he and all the other Orcs were sent into a dreamless slumber.
And Agni descended.
Over Urk he hovered first, and, reaching out with divine hands, he opened up the side of the Orc and broke off one of the ribs, sealing the wound with a short dribble of magma. Agni poured his divine will into the rib. The rib caught aflame and began to bend and grow, muscles, organs and hair coming into existence around a molten core. Moments later, a large dog nuzzled Urk's shoulder and lay down next to his master, a tendril of flame escaping from its mouth at every breath.
Agni moved on to each orc of the tribe. From each, he took a rib. To each, he gave a Hearth Hound.
Finally, Agni returned to Urk himself. He breathed on the earth, and a pool of magma formed. The pool hissed and bubbled for a moment before draining away, revealing a large mithril warhammer emblazoned with the symbol of Agni himself. This weapon, FireBringer, would be Urk's to wield.
And with that Agni returned to the heavens.
"I do not desire sleep at the moment, Cantorix. If anything, I desire food. Would you fly with me to find some?"
~Chitrachs + Humans + Marcus~
Well, the Chitrachs just left, soooooo.... well, they'll show up again, why not. (you were talking about the Chitrachs and Humans, yes?)
All around Marcus the ground began to break apart as the Chitrachs re-emerged.
"Why do you watch our new friends so intently, stranger?" One of them chittered.
1 AP: Spawn Beast: Hearth Hounds: Fire-breathing dogs that are linked to a single master (in the future, this will not require the sacrifice of a rib). The dogs imprint on their master at a young age, and will fiercely defend them. They and their masters enjoy some very rudimentary form of telepathic bond. When the master of a Hearth Hound dies, the Hearth Hound dies immediately.
1 AP: Craft Artifact: FireBringer, a mortal weapon of great power emblazoned with the symbol of Agni. Causes things to catch on fire when hit. Currently owned by Urk the Orc.
1 AP left.
Pruinus had spent a good while travelling the earth on foot, at the pace of a mere mortal. After her encounter with the Skydwellers, she wished to see up close what other creatures had adapted to their environment, defying even the limitations of their species.
Her journey brought with it chilling winds, clouds choosing to spit hail at the ground on which she walked.
One of the first changes she had noticed is the growth of the creatures known as the Nix. They began to inhabit more lands then they previously dared themselves. She spot a train of carts and wagons slowly making its way from The Crown towards a nearby human settlement. Here, the two cultures made a trade. The Nix gave away stocks of meat, pelts, fur, wool, bones, ore, herbs... Generally all manner of objects which a Nix would see everyday in The Crown and consider mundane.
The humans in return granted them weapons and armour. One might think it a foolish move to give weapons away to those who you trade with, but the Nix did even seem capable of such dishonesty as to use traded weapons against their previous owners. Even were there a risk of the Nix turning hostile, with the bitter, freezing winds of winter returning the humans simply needed protection from the cold more then from the blade.
Many more caravans emerged from The Crown carrying similar goods.
Pruinus carried on her journey, walking up and down the continent as blizzards and snowstorms covered her from mortal eyes.
Non-AP: As Pruinus travels the continent, winter follows her. The winter begins in the north-east of the continent, spreading up and down as Pruinus travels.
2AP: Command Populace - Nix
The Nix culture has grown and evolved. Their respect for nature and the primal spirits remains the same, but their methods and customs around this change. Previously, Nix only kill animals that they need the meat for in the immediate future. Hunters now hunt every animal for its meat, fur, bones and every other scavengeable resource, storing them in huge quantities where qualified Nix shamans would cast spells to preserve the remains until they are ready to ship them out. The Nix do not trade with currency, only for other objects of worth, although they may give away their goods to those they feel need it.
1AP - Harm locusts
Pruinus isn't making any effort to do this and isn't aware of it even happening, but I imagine a winter lasting years could cause a dent in locust population. Note that Agni'Vohda are NOT harmed by this winter as it does not target divine fires.
1 AP Left.
"I am merely curious." Marcus looks directly at the newly arrived. "I have been away for a long time and I did not recognize your kind. The fact you act with an intelligence implies that you are not the craterspawn that I have once seen long ago. How fairs the war against them? We must be winning for so many to be about."
Queen Ilsagar, Lady of Iceheim, First of Four, rolled her head back and stared at the sky. "The Primal Spirits speak in your favor, Giroth Azerman. Winter has come, and it is time for the elves to march south again."
First of Four looked to her cohorts, Gisa first, then Bernhar, and, with hesitation, each nodded their approval. Third of Four stood and said, "I will see to the migrants. Though, Giroth Azerman, we cannot promise great things. As you can see-"
Bernhar inclined his head towards the Midnight sun, which still hung barely above the glacier it had been encased in. "- we are not masters of these things. But, Pruinus willing, the deed will be done."
The pestilence arrived without warning. Did it come from the halfings themselves? Or did they get it from the tall-folk on the shores? There was barely time to answer the questions before coughing followed.
There was much to do, and the Wind- and wavemasters had fallen ill themselves. The oarmaster, least of the three, was alone left to organize the halflings to combat this ill news of ill air.
The first thing was to seek doctors. There were some on the mainland, and no expense was missed in enticing them hither. The halflings even established a great library, which they filled with medical texts, and a school as well, where they paid the best medical practitioners to spread their craft.
Student by student, doctor by doctor, the illness was tended to. Many died, but what was is what must be. A halfling who feared the return of Wayfriend Zebus was no halfling at all.
2AP command: Halflings create a great medical school in the mangrove tree, and also benefit from it greatly themselves, eventually becoming the best trained doctors around.
Urk woke to find his world changed.
A limb, a branch from a tree, rested in the circle of stones where the morning fire would be stroked and the first blessing would be prepared. It too had slumbered in the night, when the heat became too much. It watched with interest as the orcs discovered the changes, it listened as they talked about what it meant. What was this new blessing? Did the order of blessings need to be renumbered?
And what of the blackfoots? This tribes firepits were surrounded by meat, but the other tribe remained. Perhaps with this new blessing, it was time for a new warlord to rise up.
Within days, the Firescar tribe had subjugated the blackfoots. The natural order was to slaughter the failures, to the one, but allegances were sworn, and the blackfoot warriors would fight for Firescar glory.
1AP command: The Firescar tribe goes to war against the other orc tribes
1AP nourish: The Firescar tribe is rather successful, and gets a lot of other tribes to support them
Cantorix stood still. He felt no hunger at all, if anything at all, and something felt wrong about leaving the Moot only moments after the Keeper's death... And yet, he wanted nothing to do with this place, with these people. Nothing at all. Somehow, they seemed repulsive.
It was decided then. He would hold a vigil tonight, taking the ceremonial place of the tenth keeper.
"I will return." he called out to the younglings. They did not hear him. They were too busy moving the corpse.
And then he took to the skies, strangely glad to be sailing again.
How long had he remained there, on that solemn beach, Speaking to himself of dreams and threats and promises?
He had enough. The wispy figure took one divine pace, and then another, and another. A great cloud hung low upon the sky and paced with eager feet into the realms of men. The Eclipse Aflame soon would hear not the echoes of former glories, but the screams of mortal coils.
"For too long have I argued with you, petty ancestor of mine! For too long have I done nothing while my memory turns to dust! The mortals will remember me and fear me! Ka'Vah returns!!"
The first village came into sight. The sky darkened. Thunder the sound of bellowing laughter rumbled into intamate distance. And a sickly green light fell upon the rooftops. Many villagers gathered outside, wondering at the nightmarish storm that had come into range without wind, and the sudden gloom.
"Flee, mortals! For Ka'Vah comes again!"
And a pillar of fire erupted within its center, blasting ash and flesh alike into the air.
The warpath begun.
That would be the hometown of one Mister Bushytail. Cliche? Yes. Among my favorite ones? Absolutely.
Even near the top of the sinkhole, the glow could be faintly seen, like an ember refusing to perish. The cultist continued their descent into Avarom.
The cultists had little problems blending in to the crowds gathering and marching across the multilevel surface outpost. Markets were everywhere, constantly migrating with the crowdes based on which elevator was the most popular that week. Guardsmen were always on patrol, harassing the loitering and the unusualy shifty. Stall checks were regular and what few seedy merchants had established shop found themselves on the stairways up. Only Anima Guard were treated with reverence, and guards as well as citizens moved out of their way.
The cultists meandered unto the elavator shafts, watching the dozens of other stone platforms moving with clockwork precision. Some elavators were exclusively for the guards and prisoners, and the especially grand ones carried small mountains of ore out from the belly of the earth.
But the most common product was water. Water in bottles, in pails, in winding vials and delicate flasks. For this water... glowed... intensely. While torches were sometimes used by outsiders, standard vials of water were placed at building corners and lined stairways. Many people carried small amounts around their necks.
And when the cultists, so used to wild, ranking dungeons, landed in the central plaza of the city, they were awestruck. Canals of the water ran about the city, flanking streets and gardens. Fountains and waterfalls, both natural and carved, stood proudly at the center of the tiered city. But it was not just the waterworks that were breathtaking. Statues of the First Anima Guard, Elvish frontline warriors, and of the Giants seemed organic to the cityscape. The largest statue, an onyx Remorhaz, stood in the front of the ancient Artun temple. The worshippers there were few, and mocked by the modern faithful. The scent of surface grasses and spices lingered in the humid air.
It was a place ripe for the rotting.
I know we're all thinking it... Something like this:
Harm Populace (1AP): The hometown of Timmy Bushytail is under the assault of one very happy Ka'Vah.
Nourish Populace (2AP): Avarom. The Iredescent Spring came into creation not long after the sinking of Avarom. Only a few days after the fighting, water forced its way through the fissures and the cracks in the walls to form new waterfalls and rivers into the darkness. This water glows brightly for ten years and then fades into normal water; it is also safe to drink, if one is alright with glowing... bathroom breaks. At the very lowest layer of the city is the glowing lake known as the Iredescent Spring.
AP Remaining: 0
If I come up with something for Morenth to do, I'll post it, but if not, we can just start the Moot at some point.
~Near the Human Settlement~
Krr'Ree'E tilted her head to the side and regarded the being before her.
"You understand us." She said. "That is surprising. We know little of the Craterspawn, other than that they are feral beasts that roam the edges of civilization. We have heard that once they threatened the world, but we find them little more than nuisances."
A racheting chitter of curiosity worked its way up her throat.
"Where have you gone, sir? We are a young race, we know little of the world beyond these plains in sight of the Eternal Volcano."
Giroth frowned and raised a hand to try and stop the sudden flurry of activity as the elven lords finished speaking.
"Wait, noble ones. I came to seek knowledge, not an army. I fear that you would be as much out of place in my realm as I would be in yours. Your aid would be greatly apprecaited, but only if you are certain."
He gestured at the Sun. "I have heard that there are more of these in my travels. Have any of you ever sought out another?"
Agni searched. Some God must have created these beings... but who?
1 AP: Create Hero: Krr'Ree'E. She's growing on me, and I have 1 AP left. Might as well.
The death screech had reverberated among the Sanctum for what seemed like hours, at an infrasonic frequency far too deep for human ears.
But the Azure Dragons in the sanctum heard it clearly enough. Eventually, it was decided that the noise must be investigated -- and so a single delegate left the Sanctum, dropped from the sky, and spread his wings wide.
His name was Lucen, and with the strength of his wings, he reached the moot in hours.
Lucen circled the bloody obelisk warily, far overhead. Here was clearly the origin of the noise, but what were those black shapes slinking around below. He trumpeted his arrival at those down far below and waited. If there were others, that meant this was their home, and a guest does not simply barge in unannounced.
It was early into nightfall. On most nights, the keeprs would take shifts sleeping and guarding the Mootstone. But tonight nine of them remained awake, more alert than they had been in years. Cantorix took the last place.
They did not speak, nor whisper, nor whimper. They thought, and even when they were not looking at Cantorix, he could feel their hefty stares. Confusion, anger, dull pain, grief, and a sense of restlessness. The Moot loomed over them all...
A powerful roar tore open the relative silence. With a jolt, the nine Keepers' muscles tensed.They were ready to die at any moment. Cantorix's tail curved defensively about two of the younglings, and he peered into the black-blue hues above. Why would a dragon call out? That was no part of the Moot, they simply came and rested. Unless... it wasn't an Ebon dragon. Had more of the white dragons followed him here?! How could he be so FOOLISH as to let them so idly trace him to the Moot?!
"Show yourself fiend! We have not feared death since the first days!"
For weeks Azgo floated about on the wind, stetching himself thin enough to gaze over dozens of miles at a time. Countless people, rebuilding and worshipping... It was infuriating. Had they learned nothing?! The coldness within him was purer than the wintery gales around him and the glacial ice beneath. Where he passed, unnatural night fell and many grew dangerously sick.
And yet he learned of other things. Many names he had heard whispered in ages passed had almost been forgotten. Onus had fallen silent, and the Journey was nothing any longer. And what of Ka'Vah? Azgo pitied him. He must have died defending the Godcrater. Such is the way of the righteous, to die at wicked hands. And what of Thereus, his old... ally of sorts? Perhaps he had retreated back to his lair.
A sudden spike of hatred burst through his essence. A deep thunder peeled over the hills.
And what of Veros the Scholar?! That bootlicking, manipulative Firstborn slave of a god! No one mentioned his name, not even the foolish wise men of the mortals. Had he disappeared? Or... was there ever a Scholar at all?
So many questions, and so many doubts.
Over the course of time, The Fused God felt himself drawn towards... something. Something powerful... and divine. Not Firstborn, for Azgo knew the foul stench of the blood on their hands, but divine certainly. And then he saw... it: a maelstrom of petals. A maelstrom of petals?! What was this thing? An exarch of Leaf? Or a newcomer?
Azgo approaced cautiously. He could be killed like this, and yet he needed information, and allies. He was much less hopefull on the latter however.
"Greetings, kin. Whom do you serve?"
~Along the Wind~
Sa turned. The petals didn't seem to alter their gyrations, but Azgo felt, more than saw, as the divine conscious gave him its attention.
"We are Sa, and we serve only ourselvesssssss."
This presence was... unique. Sa recognized that it had never before seen its like. Promises were woven into its very being. Sa saw death, and pestilence, and the jagged voids of broken promises.
"Who are you to come before Sa's petalsssssss?"
Lucen dropped, then, diving towards the moving shapes below. Glorious azure wings spread wide, and his descent was halted with a force that briefly swept back nearby trees and plants.
Gingerly, his talons alighted upon the rock, and the dragon furled his wings wide again.
"I am Lucen of the Seventh Sun, Guardian of the Beacon, and Delegate of the Azure Sanctum. We heard your call and..." Lucen's tongue faltered as he got a better look at Cantorix. "And you are... dragons?"
Lucen folded his wings, suddenly self-concious. "And yet here you stand, upon two sets of legs, with gleaming scales of jet. You are dragon, and yet not-dragon."
Morenth let out a burst of fire, bringing illumination to the night.
"Jet and Crimson, my Azure friend. But I assure you, we are both dragons, as was the no-legged white monstrosity that attacked us earlier. Come, we have killed several deer. Join us at meal so we can show you we mean no harm."
Morenth gestured with her tail at a pile of three deer carcasses, nicely charred by Morenth herself, lying not far off.
"My pleasure..." a voice said, winding its way into the brains of the gathered dragons. Morenth started, looking around.
The ground beneath them shook briefly, and a orange snout, heavily armored with growths of bone, broke through the rock. Moments later, a squat, orange lizard, clearly kin to the other dragons although lacking wings entirely and looking quite like an abnormally large alligator, slid out from the earth and made its way to the deer, happily biting into one of them as it watched the other dragons with one eye.
"So. You claim to be dragons, do you? Sure, fine. Guess I'm the odd one out without wings." The dragon said in their minds as his jaws worked furiously to devour the deer leg.
"Of course I can understand you perfectly! At one time they threatened the sanctity of the entire world. I guess much has changed since he took me from there." At 'there' Marcus looks back towards the destroyed cave that once stood there so long ago during an epic battle between good and evil.
"As to where I came from, I return from there!" and points to the emptiness that is the sky above.
"He said he caused great harm and asked me to see what the world is like now. I travel now. Maybe I can find my place again in this world full of chaos."
Krr'Ree'E danced from leg to leg in a dance of uncertainty. This meat-thing made little sense to her. Plus there was that issue of the fact that he could understand them without any of that 'magic' that had been used by the humans. She turned and looked at the small village they had just left. Perhaps they were still in range. But soon another thought came to her. One that was logically consistent, and VERY interesting.
"Who caused much harm? Was it a God? Which God? Much Harm was done, yes. Much harm. The Eternal Volcano still rumbles occasionally, a memory of the great eruption that created these plains. Who sent you, divine messenger?"
"Ah! I greatly apologize. I haven't introduced myself. I am Marcus, Bringer of Order. I was sent by the Deathlord himself. It was also him that he claims to have caused the destruction of the plains. I seek to reclaim my lost divinity and to restore the world to order from the chaos. A tall order if you ask me, and sounds a little crazy. It really is a long story, and there is much to do and see. Would you care to hear it over tea?"
~~~The World at Large~~~
Nothing gave way to life, and, as had been commanded since the early days, life gave way to death. The soul of the living parted from its body and made its way to a different world, a different form of life, while the body greyed, faded, and decomposed. There had been some natural variations on this, and a few unnatural ones, but for long ages, this was the course, the way the world worked.
Then there came that unholy star, unique in a sky filled by suns, a strange moon, and nothing else. From where it came, few could tell, but soon after its appearance, it earned the name Wormwood.
This star twinkled, blinking like an any, and from it fell unwholesome light. This light brought no warmth, it did not illuminate the shadows, but impaired the sight so that everything seemed the blacker for its presence.
The soul leaves the body in an instance, but mortal eyes cannot catch this. They are too slow. If they could, then their owners might have called the unholy star worse things. The light itself moved. Too quickly for eyes to see, but it moved. It groped and fondled and sought. And when a soul peaked out of a corpse, ready to leave for the afterlife, the light struck. It was over in an instant, the soul was shattered, and a shard, the barest sliver, remained in the body.
More alone than it ever had been before, the shard waited, confused, but a hunger to be complete, to be whole again, drove it to action. It tried to escape the body again, but it was too small now, the body too firm a house. With no other options open to it, the little soul forced the body to life again. Shambling, it tried to follow the rest of the soul into the afterlife. This boded poorly for the still living. The soul-shard hungered for the companionship of other souls, but was too small to conect as it had in life. It tried to eat the bodies of the still-whole souls, only for the souls to escape, leaving it as alone as ever.
From Frostheim in the north, to the skylanders above, and even the uppermost reaches of Avarom, where starlight could creep down, the unlucky dead rose, sought, and killed.
The matter was particularly bad for the light-forsaken cultists on their ships, traveling to a new continent. They had thought they were so clever, first discarding, then eating, the bodies of the dead. But the bodies did not remain dead. Many came back to life in the water and, seeking the closest companionship followed as best they could. Corpsegas had set in, allowing many to float, and though their struggling was not quick, it was constant. The boats were subject to the fickle nature of wind and wave, but the undead were relentless.
After much time, when the cultists were asleep after gorging on the "feast" their god had provided, the corpses reached the boat and climbed aboard. They extended their arms for a hug, and kissed their new friends with their teeth, and tried to bring those fleeing souls ever closer. Several died.
2AP Harm: the sudden appearance of the undead prove to be irksome. No one escapes having some dead rise up, although given the state of the cultists (open air boat, no where to bury their dead), I'd think that this sudden apperance would be particularly troublesome.
A cry echoed across all the world. Whever light from the godsun fell, so too did the sound reverberate in the very ground, causing dust and pebbles to dance. Mortals looked up, and saw the sun change shape as the ancient beast awoke and stretched. Every inch of it was still covered in fire. Great legs trembled, longing for solid purchase, and the sun began to descend.
It's cry had been so loud that the force of the sound had pushed most the skymotes out of the way. Of the few too close to the epicenter, the godbeast's claws swiped them out of the way. There'd be time for proper destruction later.
Only the Sanctuary provided an oddity.
The godbeast's claws moved it, as surely as a child can move a leaf floating on water, but there was something inside that did not move. The Beacon was an artifact riveted to the center of the crown. When Sanctuary moved, the Beacon did not, and one was ripped from the other.
The surprised godbeast fell onto the sun and swallowed it, yet not even the weight on a mountain could move the Beacon. Thus the coming of the end of the world might have been prevented, with the behemoth forever trapped in the sky, being held aloft by the sun in its stomach. But there was a force behind the monster, one that had been waiting long, and it would not allow its to be defeated so easily. The force that kept the sun in the sky was too much of a distraction to eliminate, so for now the force within the beast supressed it. As soon as the Beacon was released, it would return to as it was, but for now it fell out of the sky with the flaming god-mountain.
The behemoth smashed into the egg that had occupied the center of the Crown for ages. The god-mountain rolled over, shook its head, and began to head south.
The crack in the egg grew, and great sheets of granite-like shell slid off, crashing to the ground below, and wedging into the soil like a thrown knife into mud. Underneath the outershell a mucus sac pulsed as the thing inside struggled to get free. Something sharp pressed against it, and what looked to be a beak of a bird poked out. However, that beak split into three tentacles, which bent back on themselves and tore at the sac, revealing the the creature's head. It was a mass of scales and feathers and slime, with each acting at the other.
From within, claws reached up aground the things neck and clawed at the sack, ripping it further, and letting the rest of the creature out. Four wings, like a bird bit with scales in places of feathers, stretched out, covering half the sky. The creature itself stood higher than the mountains, and its wings were nearly as long as they valley. The zizu took flight, and followed after the behemoth.
The western ocean rose up, tossed and turned, roiled and boiled. An entire sea rose up and flooded over the land, and something dark swam within. The leviathan headed south as well.
1 AP: Command Land - the skymotes are just pushed out of the way of the falling god mountain. Pushing against a moveable island that houses an immoveable artificat, however, results in the Beacon being ripped out of the sanctuary. Or is it that the sancrutary was ripped off the beacon?
1AP modify Artifact - The behemoth eats the Beacon and supressed the part of it that maintains its position in the cosmos. This is just a temporary effect: as soon as the behemoth is defeated, I'd expect that Beacon to reassert itself and go back to where it was eaten from.
0AP: The leviathan takes a bit of the ocean with it. While this sea occasionally floods over the ground, for the most part it hovers just above. Why? Because I don't want to drown the entire continent. So it's a flying sea, supported by fluff! When the leviathan is defeated, the waters will collapse onto the ground below, but should retreat quickly.
Azgo's cloud took the misty form of twins, leaning heavily upon the other. They were tired, and weakened.
Azgo paused. It was not wise to speak his name. Who might be listening? And if Zebus learned that his prsion was not nearly as secure as he intended... No. No, Azgo needed to rebuild. Recruit. Rally. He needed an army, and information. Let them think himself entrapped.
And yet, Azgo did not wish to lie to this god. It would endanger himself should he be caught. The last thing he intended was to deliver another servant to the tyrant god. Unless it was already a servant and this was a trap! No, that was paranoid. He had only just escaped, and the Firstborn woere not ones to play games. They would sooner destroy him. Still, Sa might be lying to him.
"... am the Wounded One. I come seeking knowledge. Long have i slept, and in my absence the world has changed. And even when i was awake, the Firs-"
He stopped himself. Even in his wispy form his voice sounded strained with sickened flesh.
"The elder gods moved beyond my sight. Do you know of the, Zebus and Leaf and Agni and Prunius? They betrayed me once, even when they had everything to gain. They bade me sleep, for they feared my power. My Vengence."
"What do you know of Onus? Of Thereus? Ka'Vah? Veros? A god of darkness? The Primal Spirits? Do they still walk this world? And the elder gods... where is the Tyrant Leaf? Where has he built his wretched palace? And new things , alive and dead, wander over these plains. What are they?"
It was a barrage of questions, but Azgo could not help himself. His fury was rising, not at Sa, but at reality. How could things be so different from the Plan? So... imperfect?
We did better this week. Everyone who posted more than once is back to 5 AP.
5 AP: Azgo, Agni, Leaf, Zebus, Sa
4 AP: Everyone else. Of those still active, that would be: Pruinus, TASOE, Lena.
The poor, poor Eternal Volcano.
Shortly after the fall of the god-sun, the earth began to tremble and a glow appeared in the distance. Some of the Agni'Vodah went to the rim, to see what was causing it, and they saw a mountain aflame crawling towards them atop a dozen earthen legs. Everywhere it went, it left fires in its path, scorching a trail from the Crown to the Volano. Even rocks were purged and punished. Only an obsidian desert remained behind it.
The great behemoth didn't pause as it neared the volcano, but the mortals shied back. They were used to heat, but this was something different. Fire that threatened to rip reality apart. It was stand or flee, and many fled the approaching mountain.
It climed the side of the volcano, ruining its slopes, spilling magma northward. A claw reached into the volcano's heart, searching for the sun that was there.
The other two creatures paused for a moment and watched, but they hurried on further, as if brought to heel by an unseen master.
1Ap Command Land: The behemoth leaves a trail of obsidian as it travels. The further the behemoth goes, the longer the trail. At present it reaches from the crown to the volcano. We'll see if it goes anywhere else. The trail itself is about a moutain's width wide, smooth except for the jagged cratters where the behemoth's legs pierced the ground, and a hundred of so feet thick.
3 (or 4?) AP remaining
~The Human Settlement~
"An interesting story. Perhaps we should hear more over this tea you suggest. Perhaps we can return to my home. I am sure my mother..." Krr'Ree'E trailed off as she watched the sun descend from the heavens and begin to walk. Dumbfounded, she could do little more than stare as it passed by to her north.
As Giroth waited for an answer, he felt the temperature drop even more, and turned to watch the sun descend to earth in the far distance.
~The Eternal Mountain~
The creature had barely had time to grope about a few times when, blazing like a comet, Agni was there, slamming into the God-mountain and sending it tumbling back down the slopes of the Eternal Volcano on its many legs. The God had not noticed the descend of the monster for some time, devoted as he was to his search for the creator of the Orcs. It was the Orcs themselves, pointing and shouting at the sky, that had alerted him.
Did I not kill you before? Agni shouted, not caring if the beast could comprehend him.
Agni prepared to attack the God-mountain that was slowly getting back to its feet. As he did so, he sent out a call.
Ka'Vah. The Time is now. I have need of you.
Looking up at the falling sky, Marcus offers the only suggestion he can think of at the moment. "I think it would be wise of us to retreat to your home and warn the others. If one of you would be so kind to warn the local village to avoid panic, it would be much appreciated. I will put myself at your service for the time being until He can tell me what is going on."
There were echoes, born in wounds rather than fear. Lazy ash floated on the wind.
But aside from that, there was nothing left. No bodies. No lumber.
Just ash. And sickly smoke.
Ka'Vah turned from the battlefield, and vanished into the wind.
~~~The Eternal Mountain~~~
Angi's bodyslam had left a crater in the side of the god-mountain. Parts of its still-flaming shell sluffed off and fell the perils distance to the ground, shattering there, and turning the stone to magma. The wound was not long, however. Ooze, like oil, seemed out of the creatures shell, filling in the crater, and catching fire as it did. The fire hardened the oily substance, and within minutes it was hard to see where the wound had been, except, perhaps, for the patch of fire that seemed to burn brighter.
On the ground below, the broken shards of the godshell still gave bold testament to the fact that the monsters had been injured. But the fires of those pieces flickered and died out, and as the shards cooled, they lost their rigidity and returned to noxious ooze. That ooze in turn began to move, like a worm that thought it was a snake, and inched their way together, then towards the behemoth. The slime slinked onto the creature's leg and was absorbed, replenishing the substance that was lost.
The behemoth turned its head towards Agni and opened its mouth. Fire of the god-sun, boiling in the sky for ages, always growing hotter, erupted and encased the god. Agni's own face threatened to melt, the very fabric of existence around him and in him threatened to be burned away.
~~~The Azer Home: Sil Arkosh~~~
An ocean hovered throug the air, but as it neared its destination, tendrils of liquid reached down, searched the ground, and finally found the cavern entrances it sought.
Water flooded down into the Azer home, filling the streets and threatening to drown the inhabitants. The earth trembled as the leviathan forced it's gigantic body through the too-small tunnels, widening them. It sought the ancient sun hidden here.
~~~The Halfling Home: The Mangrove Tree~~~
Though the sky was darkened when the sun fell, it was not like this. A massive bird approached the mangrove tree, it's wings blotting out most the sky and remaining light. It nestled in the highest parts of the mangrove tree, it's claws digging into the heartwood of the tree and causing the entire planty-island to shudder and groan. It waited and sniffed at the air, searching for something.
Over the years, Timmy's accomplishments grew. His hunting skills skyrocketed as he mastered many kinds of weaponry. He had even conquered his weak stomach... Mostly. The odd accidental grisly kill still made his stomach turn, but his progress was undeniable.
He imitated the moves of the Nix and began to learn to skin his kills. His sisters all learned to sew and fashioned the wools into clothes and garments of outstanding quality. Their labour finally paid off when a count of one of the local human settlements decided to pay a large amount for their collection. With that, they could afford the material's to insulate the majority of Whitetop Glen's homes, offering further protection from cold. Timmy had proved himself, in the eyes of himself and his peers. When this winter ended, he decided he was going to finally venture to the crown, his homeland.
All those memories and dreams began to shatter when Timmy saw the explosion. He was out hunting, but the sounds and bright, fiery light was clear from here. Rushing through the trees, his heart sank when he saw the houses of his friends ablaze. What could have caused this? Right now, the answer to that question frightened him much less then the prospect of losing his sisters. His crisp white fur blending in with the melting snow, Timmy moved through flaming wreckage in a sort of tiptoed run; Not fast enough to cause noise to alert nearby arsonists to his presence, not stealthy enough to completely pass by escaping a more
Vigorous investigastion. He could not commit himself fully to speed or stealth at this point. As he hopped over a charred joist, he saw the flaming pile of wood and ash that was once his house. He had no doubt in his mind, if his sisters were in the house when the explosion happened... His stomach churned as punishment for attempting to finish that thought. He fell to his knees and promptly threw up, a loud reeching noise betraying his location to anyone nearby. He crawled to his feet and silently traversed his way through the village for signs of life. They were none. It had only taken Timmy a few minutes to reach the town when he saw the explosion, they couldn't have gotten far, he would have seen them. No, if his friends and family were not on the outskirts of town, they were trapped within it forever.
The world had ended and all that remained was Timmy and the bright orange flames that surrounded him, licking at the cold night air. It was tempting to allow the flames to claim him. But something inside him would not let him take the easy way out. His sisters wouldn't have wanted that. Timmy dragged his body away from the village almost unwillingly, his heart never wanting to leave his home. Only know did he truly recognize this as his home, not the crown. This was the place where a family of humans, grieving the loss of their child, had taken in, to them, an alien lifeform. He was raised and treated as one of their own. The villagers all accepted him. A Known only death and destruction at the hands of other creatures, accepted him into their community. The Crown would never offer him the same kindness. Where would he go?
With no plan in sight, he crawled into a log and began to cuddle himself, weeping. His stomach groaned at him in hunger, but Timmy's appetite was the last thing on his mind. Perhaps we might die of starvation, or be attacked by wolves as he slept. If that happened, he wouldn't have given in. The circumstances of his death would be out of his control, nobody could blame him for that. Only as the sun began to rise the next morning did Timmy manage to sleep. For a few hours, he was allowed to dream and leave cruel reality behind, an escape he desperately needed.
race that had
Well, everyone else seems to be doing it, so fine. I give up. I'll add location titles...
---Eternal Volcano Outskirts-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
He had traveled as fast as the wind would carry him. The sight of that broken volcano was very comforting. It felt... powerful to be back, here, now. Ka'Vah's form wavered like a mirage, his features so perfectly indistinct that he seemed to be closer to an illusion than a god (for such Ka'Vah considers himself to be). A foul taint entered the air, the smell of burning flesh. Ka'Vah looked on.
In the distance, A towering behemoth of a god unleahed an inferno upon the little fire god. Even from here, Ka'Vah could feel a wave of heat. Could something truely summon up such power? Ka'Vah hesitated. He had promised...
The green light that sluggishy crawled out from nowhere in particular suddenly intensified.
What was he thinking?! To honor a promise simply because he had made it? Foolishness!!
If Agni could triumph over the beast, then Ka'Vah should certainly step in and earn some goodwill. And If Agni could only fell the...mammoth god-creature with his help, then Ka'Vah could assist him and then promptly destoy him. But what if this was as hopeless as it looked? What if Agni, even with the Eclipse Aflame, could not overcome his adversary? Then Ka'Vah would certainly be in the gravest of dangers.
He watched the battle continue to unfold, thinking.
"How strong is your god now, little Scorch? He did not save you before... and he cannot save them now."
Ka'Vah's form unchained itself, and dissipated in all directions.
Azgo's form rippled with a shade of anger. Petals at the very edges of Sa's presence shriveled up with age and blight, and then fell to the ground.
"Why are you content to let me languish in silence? Is there any knowledge, anything at all, that you can give me? Or is is Injustice something to be ignored?!"
He felt so weak... broken staw clinging to the ground in a windstorm. Hollow, everything was hollow. Except for his HATE, which kept this wisp of a god alive.
"They Betrayed me! I was their King and their brother! I LOVED them, as I loved the First! But what did they give me in exchange for my LOVE, my sacrifice?! They stripped me down and cast me out! They merged me into an abomination and now they are the monsterous ones, ruining all that they touch!! This form is not of my choosing, nor is my SUFFERING! But I! WILL!! NOT! DIE! Not untill everything is in its place and those that took even my very flesh from me are utterly destroyed! The First demands it! I demand it!"
His words held nothing more than an echo of power, a memory. But they were filled with blackened, twisted hate. The ground beneath Azgo dried up into dust.
"Will you help me? Can you help me?"
The creature attacked at night. Under moonlight and the swarming shadows of locust swarms, an emaciated corpse clawed its way across the hull and onto the flat deck.
Hundreds of locusts wings glittered in the light, and the inedible balls of rotted, cyst-filled fish flesh littered the corners. Blood and filth stained the old, proud wood that now was worn with months of constant use. Many cultists slept out in the open. Rings of salt lined the pits of their shirts, and rings of scarlett stained the collars. The sound of snoring was constantly drowned out by the droning of insects.
The creature staggered desperately over to the nearest cultist, who had always slept near the railings so that he could see dawn before anyone else, and sank crooked teeth into the open throat. There was a thrashing, a choking, and then stolen silence. Others stirred in their sleep. Dreams of bursting fish and crunching insect chitin grew like a fungus in their minds.
Over the next hour, the ship erupted into chaos. Sillouttes sprinted about chaoticly. Adrenaline pumped and minds reeled. What was going on?! Thinking a traitor was in their midst, the whole crew erupted into wild violence. Screams echoed out on the water.
Dawn came slowly, and one ship hardly moved at all. There was no movement on the deck, no ringing breakfast bells. Just stolen silence.
Two ships eventually caught up to the boat, and boarded the slaughtered vessel. There were many corpses, and one feasted upon all the others. It was so concerned with gorging that it did not hear the whistle of a glaceril dagger through the air. The body shook, and then slumped over.
The cultists were concerned to find a halfling, a live halfling no less! The body was thin, the skin strained. This... thing had been at sea for weeks in the water. The cultists left nothing to chance, and left only a burning wreck in the wake of their prows. The captains watched it sink into the waters, and heard the distant hissing of steam. A new nightmare entertained their minds.
And then winter winds battered the ships. They were almost there... and yet the worst was still to come.
Three uneasy days, disguised as years to those who waited, passed by. Hundreds of Ebon Dragons had arrived, some youthful and some venerable but each and every one filled with the shock of a Moot in their lifetime. And many were sorrowful, remembering the Keepers' sacrifice. And some of the same age wondered whether they would have died in his place.
The foreign dragons were greeted with a potent blend of wonder and paranoia. A few dragons died attempting to kill these "new, twisted spawn of Azgo" by the countless others. There was no violence at the Moot, and those that struck the first blow were unceremoniously buried under the mountain and forgotten. Regardless, no one treated these dragons with friendliness, not even Cantorix. Every greeting was in its own way cold, and distant. Cantorix stood as the primary bulwark and bridge between the flocks of black dragons and the newcomers, and yet he too felt cold. He treated them with respect and empathy, especially Morenth, and his threats kept many fight from even beginning, but murder was still fresh in his mind. He was still falling and wingless in his dreams.
At last, the fourth dawn climbed over the granite slopes and bathed the Mootstone in the blood tints of early sunlight. And pace for pace, Cantorix climbed up and onto the Mootstone. The dragon of yore had given a tremendous bellow, a rallying roar that brought thousands to their knees and even more into war. Cantorix inhaled, and let loose a call just as forcefull. But it was no roar, no hint of justice. It was the call of a wounded animal, and at a base level was harmonious to the youngling's scream.
The Moot began.
~On the breath of the wind~
Sa paused for a long time, saying nothing as the godwisp lashed out, raving and ranting until it had passed through denial and anger.
"Sa doesssssss not know those othersssssss." It finally said, in its breathless way. Which was true, in its own way. Sa certainly knew of the other gods, but had not bothered to ever speak with them directly, though it had tasted the fire god, once, ages hence.
A flurry of motion sent Sa's petals dancing amidst the essence of Az'go.
"Promisesssssss of what might have been dance amongst your essencesssssss." The god swirled a moment in thought, and then the petals abrupty coalesced into two figures.
"Before the advent of all, the promise of what wasssssss." To Sa, the figures meant nothing, forged from Az'go's own memories. But to the godwisp, they appeared all too clearly to be perfect, flawless sculptures of Azael and Go'el. Whole, unblemished, and absolutely loathesome.
"A promise of what might have been, when the world first drew breathsssssss." The figures swirled together, an inward spiral that drew Az'go back to his own genesis. But there was no pain, no screaming, no agony. The two petal-gods collided, fused, and were whole. A singular entity, with flowing, perfect form, confidant in both word and deed.
The images faded, and Sa spoke again. "And promisesssssss of what yet might be, whispersssssss, future portentsssssss." The god of prophecies split its petals in two, forming two opposing images. The first held Az'go triumphant, still in his twisted form... and yet, somehow different. The world lay scorched and burned, devoid of all but dust as the god laughed on. The second had Az'go in chains of vines, frozen in a block of ice, limbs entombed in molton stone, and smothered with a cloak that stank of souls.
"You seek paths, and Sa offersssssss three. If you turn away our aid, you will walk the fourth by yourselvesssssss."
Agni was fire incarnate. At his core, he was the raging inferno that lay at the heart of each Sun, that roiled at the bottom of each Volcano, that laughed and danced in each conflagration. And if there was one thing that could be said of him, it was that he greatly enjoyed high temperatures.
So as the God-Mountain poured the pent up radiance of the Sun upon him, Agni felt waves of pleasure coursing through his being, felt his power growing, buoyed by the heat that surrounded him.
But while Agni was Fire, his body was not. Under the intense pressure and heat, his mask began to change, granite superstructure cracking and fusing as fast as the Magma within Agni could replace it. Agni laughed as he considered his new diamond form, which no longer concealed the magma which was continually generated by his divine spark. He was stronger now in Body as well as Spirit. The Beast had done him a favor.
And yet, the temperature continued to rise. Agni watched as all around him, reality began to melt away, regions of the Real around him distorting and bending in every dimension. Here, the fire burned purple. There, Green. There, it flowed like molasses. Here, everything seemed faster. Here, the fire seemed to be flowing past him. There, it seemed to be flowing away. Agni saw his own mask distorting and felt the very fabric of his soul stretching towards a breaking point.
Agni screamed, and others screamed with him. He felt himself spinning in the flames, and percieved that others, separated by the merest scraps of reality, were spinning as well, buffeted by blasts of fire from a thousand other God-Mountains. The heat intensified and reality... merged.
In some place beyond reality, a massive explosion rolled through the Nothing, and with that release, the Prime healed itself, snapping back together and throwing Agni from the rift as a shockwave knocked the God-Mountain over once more. Dust and smoke rose from a long trench in the earth.
Agni groaned, and a dozen voices groaned with him, echoing in his mind. Groggily, he rose from the earth, and it took him a few moments to realize that everything had changed.
Agni was no longer a mask. He was many. His mind... it was still his mind, he was fairly certain, began to process the chaotic memories of moments ago. Reality had frayed thin, he had met... other versions of himself, all being destroyed by the same God-Monster, but... not the same God-Monster. Fleeting glimpses into the other worlds revealed that in many, Agni fought the God-Mountain. But in others, he fought a living ocean, and in still others, it was Azgo who loomed over him, surrounded by hordes of Craterspawn. But all had unleashed the power of a captured sun on Agni, and all had torn reality, if only for a split second.
Agni took stock of his new form. A large diamond sphere, easily thirty feet in diameter. All across its surface, faces, images, imprints of the Agnis-that-were were layed out chaotically, although none overlapped with others. From each mouth, magma poured. From each set of eyes, fire glowed. And deep within, the essence of Agni: He that Is Fire roiled brightly. With a roar that burst from each of his twenty-ish mouths, the God slammed his very being into the God-Mountain repeatedly, breaking apart the shell with repeated blasts that drove the monster back across the magma plains and towards the Eastern Ocean...
I've got a LOT more to write on other topics. I'll do that later tonight. Also, expect the middle part of this to be changed... want to come back to it later and modify. Regardless, Agni is now a diamond sphere with many masks embedded in its shell. Still lovable, though. Gives me a chance to finally move into another domain that I've been wanting for a LONG time, so thanks, Thought!
2 AP: Claim Domain: Language.
1 AP: Command Land: The chaotic magma trail now extends from the Eternal Volcano to somewhere near the coast to the east.
2 AP remains.
~The Eternal Volcano~
A small voice raged in the back of Ka'Vah's mind.
You Promised! I heard it! I let you do all those horrible things to that village because I knew that if you had to, you would help. This is my HOME, you monster. The last time we were here, You... I... was the danger. Now, I can help. We can help. We WILL Help. Or Else.
And somehow, the Ecipse Aflame began to reform near the site of the battle.
Morenth watched as dragon after dragon arrived. So Many! She thought to herself, comparing the numbers here to the 75 or so of her own kind. And so hostile! she was grateful to Cantorix and several of his kin for protecting her and the other dragons from the more... hotheaded... members of his clan. That more dragons had died today was appalling, but it was better them than her. As they waited for the Moot to begin, she looked at the azure dragon next to her.
"I have not seen your kind before, although I have been to the Crown on many occasion. What is it that you do up in the... Sanctuary, was it?" She asked, continuing a conversation that they had struck up earlier.
And then, the Moot Began.
Water flooded the streets, pouring down the roads towards the lake of magma, knocking down Slaadi and crushing them against the walls of the homes that had been overrun. A line of fire and steel and blood rang out from the newest portion of the city, the Forge District, located in the far back of the cavern deep underneath a natural overhang. Here, over a canal of magma, Azer, Dragon and Slaadi fought on narrow bridges that were the only connections between this portion of the city and the rest of Sil Arkosh. The battle had been hard fought, but the Slaadi had been relentless... an entire army of Craterspawn reborn and attacking a city whose population had, in fact, shrunk since the last time. The Azer had retreated, and had finally managed to establish a line of defense here, using similar tactics to those they had used to defend the tunnels far above all those years ago. After all, on the bridges only a few Slaadi could approach at a time.
The dragons had been crucial. After a few moments of abject terror as the squat creatures had waddled out of the magma, the Azer had been overjoyed as the gruff, taciturn race had turned to fight with them. Now, the dragons spat balls of magma at approaching Slaadi patrols, acting much like living artillery.
And so it was, at least initially, that the Azer did not notice the arrival of the Leviathan, exept perhaps to note that the number of Slaadi attackers seemed to be diminishing. That all changed when the actual body of the Leviathan sliding through the blasted-open caverns until it lay on the ledge above, dangling its arms down and trying to find the Sun. Water poured down in a massive flood, sweeping in all directions.
"It has to be NOW!" Galfe, brother of Giroth shouted, waving furiously at a group of nine Azer, five male, four female, who stood looking at the approaching wall of water. "DO IT!"
The Azer linked hands with one another and their flaming hair seemed to flicker as if a mighty wind was blowing on them. Their skin grew pale and cold and several cried out in pain as they called out to the Magma.
As one of the Azer collapsed, the Magma responded, surging upwards all along the canal moments before the water hit. A wave of scalding steam blew past all the gathered Azer and Dragons as the two elements met, and for a moment, everything was white.
As the steam cleared and the last of the Slaadi died, Galfe peered through the clouds and spotted a great stone wall, completely encircling the Forge District. They had once again somehow survived the flooding of their city.
A cry of sorrow from behind him caused him to turn. Five of the nine pyromages had died, the magic pulling all the fire from their beings, leaving them looking much like the dwarves they had once been, if hairless. The remaining four lay panting on the earth, color slowly returning to their skin.
1 AP: Guide Populace: The Azer learn pyromancy. Like other magics, this magic drains the necessary energy (in this case, heat energy) from the person who wields it. It *is* possible, if very difficult, to use other sources of fire as a source of the magic. They use this to save a portion of Sil Arkosh from the Leviathan (and the Slaadi).
1 AP remains
~~~The Eternal Volcano/Eastern Shore~~~
A door, once opened, may be entered from both directions.
Long ago, when the world was still young and growing fast, the fire god had been captured and sealed away in suffocating ooze and encroaching darkness. He might have passed from the realms, save but for the thinnest thread. Something he had created, the suns, still burned, and they were still connected to him. Agni had drawn on the power of the suns, and from them reignited his fires.
He opened the door, and through it fire flowed. Now, that flow was reversed.
Agni slammed his body again into the god-mountain. Each blow cracked the shell, sending pieces to the ground that cooled and slunk back to the body. Yet, with each blow, the creature sucked more heat from Agni. With each blow, the creature was hotter. With each blow, the shell was harder. Fewer pieces fell to the ground, and soon it was as if diamond was hitting diamond. But still the creature took in the flow of power from the sun.
Agni was hot, the creature hotter, and the point of contact hottest. The edges of Agni's new form, exposed to the air, sizzled and flashed to fire. The god experienced firsthand what he already knew: even diamonds are flammable.
The faces of Agni that had made contact, the parts of the god not exposed to the air, blurbled and bubbled. Agni knew that everything was flammable, but he might not have known that diamonds are meltable.
The diamond-born readied another body slam, but the god-mountain, as quick as a spark, quicker by far than a mountain had the right to be, darted out of the way and landed a blow on Agni's back faces as he passed. Fire met earth, and the earth steamed. A claw grabbed the god and pulled it out of the liquid crater. And the claw began to crush Agni. Pressure creates heat, but the god-mountain used Agni's own heat, drawn through the sun, to create pressure. The pressure of the heart of a sun, the heart of a star, the core of the world. The pressure of the universe collapsing in, pulling matter into itself. The diamond-born's frame tried to crack, but pressure had given way to gravity, and no shards could flake free.
So much pressure, so much gravity. Dust and rocks and animals and trees from below began to fall upwards, towards Angi, coating the diamond-born in a layer of matter that condensed around him, increasing the mass, increasing the pull. Within him, Agni could feel something new threatening to come into existence. Or to leave it. The rules of the universe quivered under the pressure, bent, and threatened to break, drawing everything into an endlessly hungry nothing, a blackened void of a hole.
A torrent of water ran over the new stone dome that, but luck, protected the Forge District. The water wore it smooth, then wore it thin, before its force abated. The Leviathan had found what it was looking for. It gobbled up the sun, then, no longer needing to be here, rose up. Straight up, through the earth and stone.
The monster crashed back into the open air, leaving a lake behind where there had been mountains before. Frost formed around the edges of body of water, and as droplet's from the monster's body fell into it, they turned to icebergs and glaciers.
And at the bottom of this frozen lake was the Azer city.
1Ap Command Land: Form an eternally cold lake over Sil Arkosh
2 or 3 AP remaining
In the darkness, illuminated only by the faint glow of the northern sun, the moon, and the star above, Seg crossed the wasteland. He had hidden the heart, as the master directed, but a servant's work was never done. Not for the first time, Seg grumbled against his lot in life. He didn't enjoy working for the master, he didn't want to, but what choice had he been given? The other gods had rejected him. His choice was simple: serve the master, or die. Seg disliked dying far more than he disliked serving the master.
His new task was a simple one. Obtain the sun hidden in the badlands. Seg wasn't sure what the master intended to do with all the suns, but questioning orders could be dangerous. Seg disliked being in dangerous situations almost as much as he disliked dying.
The sun was before him, mostly burried, but a sliver peaking out into the open air.
-The Orcish Realms-
Brother Branch wandered among the Orcs, appreciating the changes that Agni had wrought in them, when the fading light caught his attention. The ancient godsun descended to earth.
The little god was stunned and confused over event, but the Angi-comet brought him out of his daze. A part of him, the part that remembered being Lord Leaf, urged him forward. Brother Branch followed.
The blows between Agni and the monster were exchanged too quickly for Brother Branch the servant to do anything. He could only watch, and wait for the moment that his help might be of use.
Then it came. The monster had the new-Agni in its grip, and Brother Branch threw himself at the beast. He shed much of his form until he was just a sliver, but a long one, and one that impaled the creature in one of its many eyes. It screamed and Brother Branch could feel it's muscles relax enough that, hopefully, Agni might be able to escape.
---Eternal Volcano Outskirts-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Let? Let?! You hold no power over me, little, dying ember! Ka'Vah does not obey; he chooses!"
~The Knife-Edge of Existence~
Sa rustled with laughter.
"That is not how it worksssssss." The god's petals dropped their shapes and were swept away, leaving the air barren.
"Sa can help you reclaim the past, but the future is full of uncertantiesssssss. We offer only guidance and the whispersssssss of promisessssss."
Sa's petals began to glow with a red light, and sparks, like raindrops, slipped from them, were carried along the wind, and vanished.
"You are sustained by the prayersssssss of your minionsssssss." Sa's petals grew still again, as the god turned introspective once more. "Sa has given you the meansssssss to sustain them back. Grow their power, and use it in turn to grow yoursssssss."
-1 AP Nourish/Command : Sa blesses the cultists of Az'go, gifting them with the ability to wield divine magic.
-1 AP Nourish/Command : The cult of Az'go, newly empowered by their god, expands its chapters, including amongst the Nix and the Snow Elves.
Lucan looked askance at the red dragon, wordlessly apologizing. But then he flapped his wings, and landed next to Cantorix. He roared, spread wide his azure wings, a thunderous encore that he slowly swept over the entire crowd.
With all eyes on him, Lucan swelled his throat and spat a gob of phantasmagoric matter from his mouth. Far overhead, it exploded in a burst of sonic energy and light, a musical echo of Lucan's own trumpetings.
Lucan roared again, and stood tall.
"I am Lucan of the Azure Brood. We dwell within the Sanctuary of the Beacon." Lucan pointed to the western sky, where the Beacon shone its muted light.
It was then that the godmountain roared, fell upon the beacon, and swept the remaining light from the sky.
Deserts held less sand, and oceans less hadfuls of water, than the Abyss swallowed souls. It was slow at first, but soon the spirits of hundreds of thousands glided through its ethereal doors.
Cast out from The Great Beyond, these exiles found a horrid home within its boundary. Their emotions and desires were amplified, or the Abyss slowly stole all essences but its own from their very souls. There memories became warped and large sections of their lives fell away. They wandered, sprinted, crawled, climbed, stumbled, but always moved through the plane until they found a kindred vice within the very ground.
The first layer of laberinthine, glacial caverns carved with the etches of a broken goddess drew the fantatics and the fettered. Those in life whose loyalty had driven them into darkness, who followed duty above righteousness, nestled here within the howling canals of black ice. There was no light aside from a pale, dim glow that emulated from within the cavern walls. Any in many passages, it was nowhere to be found. The majority of souls are here, some home and some attempting to find the way through the frozen labyrinth.
The lush, blighted jungle beneath the caverns drew the power-hungry and those that clamored for fame. False kings, wicked advisors, slave-masters and others hunted each other and fled from the very undergrowth. Locusts hummed through the air and mauled the slow-footed. The ground soaked with bile and disease ridden waters, vines pulled at the unwary. The Hunt Eternal waited here, bursting with life and death.
In certain spots, the jungle pools were deep enough to drown souls and drag them into the layer after. The churning, acidic sea of the third layer never rested. Waves the size of inns collapsed atop entire generations, and currents swept up the countless spirits treading on the surface far away. Anger and bloodlust were in the air, in the sea' roiling grin. The violent always felt the painful wash of sulfur on them as they brutaly attacked the others surrounding them.
And Within the mask-shaped whirlpool of the sea the final souls, some say the most wicked, the last layer could be found. The wastes...
Just ash and sandy wastes, cought up in dust-storms. Only the proud felt compelled to come here. And the slim few who did come wandered up and down the ridges of the dunes, mumbling the glories of olden, dead empires. They were lost, in footfall and mind.
And as the souls festered here, so did the sickness of Azgo. His blood pulsed in the stone, the ice, the verdant, the acid, and the ash. Tainted with the sickness of a god, the unending agony of unnatural flesh, and his Hatred. The Abyss was built of Hate.
It was storng.
Strong enough to weaken even the divine. The Deicidal Taint.
---These Names are Becoming Overly Fanciful----------------------------------------------------------
Azgo could not help but be suspicious. How could it be this... easy? Altruis was a monster, and deserved nothing less than destruction. He worked only to further his sick pleasures. And Veros... Veros had been no ally, just a lie. And the god of darkness... gone. They always required something in return, pushed ulterior motives... Could a god truely be so open with power? The thought of it was unsettling to say the least. What kind of power were the Firstborn giving to their slaves, and how often? Was he facing his brothers, or an Army?
"You offered me paths, and then say they cannot be chosen."
His tone was less accusatory and much more questioning.
"Regardless, that is the path I will choose. It is the path I will earn. But I will... consider what you have said."
Cautiously, Azgo reached inside himself, like dipping into a shallow brook for lost ore. Kings did not let gifts go unrequited.
"Perhaps... perhaps you will never use it. But perhaps you will, Sa. Take this and know that you are granted safe passage across and within the Abyss."
One of Sa's petals withered. Water seeped and bled from its pores, leaving only a dry, rustled leaf that spun weakly in the air. The veins within the leaf bent and twisted until a hazy image of a two-piece crown was embroidered onto it. After a few minutes, the petal fell away from Sa and crumbled into dust. At the same time, the process repeated itself with a new leaf.
And then Azgo drifted away. These visits to the "outside" should be kept sparse and brief, if only to avoid his siblings. It was one of the few times Azgo turned his back on a god.
For as long as they could remember, the cults along the northern borders had struggled.It was a harsh place, and the elves were a harsh people. They converted only the criminals and the eccentric nobility, looking for an outlet from a sheltered life.
And then the brutality of Winter descended.
And the cults rejoiced. For the elves marched out of their lands in the winter, and the North was spread thin. The cults ran as fast as they could across the tundra wastes and between the frosted pines, being careful to avoid Elven battalions and caravans. A few settled in the prominent cities and kept an eye on what left and when. But a few walked even further, untill the storms at last battered them beneath the ground. It was here, in the warrens of the long forgotten Remorhaz that they brought chisel unto stone and began to carve cathedrals in the dark.
The calls of the Remorhaz echoed through the halls.
Modify Plane (2AP): The Abyss is begining to fester and rot with the sickness of Azgo. All divine beings that enter the Abyss are weakened. At its current stage, the most it does is unsettle the gods and haunt them with the shadow of frailty. But it will strengthen over time.
Command Populace (2AP): Cultists of the Northern caverns flourish miles under the thick ice. Their temples are equally fortresses braced against the surface, and research into training Remorhaz from youth becomes the primary concern.
Create Artifact (1AP): The King's Mark. Azgo forges from the crucible of his veins the King's Mark. This emblazoned symbol renders its bearer immune to the Deicidal Taint. Creating it costs Azgo 1 AP, and it can be removed with 1 AP... and physical contact with said god. The King's Mark cannot be duplicated, however, effects similar can be achieved by spending AP higher than the cost of a King's mark. I have no idea about cost ratios yet. One half the current AP in the Deicidal Taint maybe?
AP Remaining: 0
Pruinus reached the edge of the continent after days of endlessy walking the continent, exploring every hidden cave and forest, meeting every culture and populace. She had viewed many fantastic creatures for sure... Those tiny humans known as Halflings, the fiery insects... Chitrachs, were they? Pruinus was not so sure she felt as keen of those or the savage Orcs that stalked the savannahs. She felt another presence across the ocean, another landmass. Pruinus curiosity called her there, but she felt that her business on this land was not quite done. She had not seen her brothers in a long time. On her travels, she had failed to encounter any other of her kind. Onus, Urru, Markus... They were no signs of them either. Nor were they are evidence to the existance of the defilers, Azgo and Alturius. Pruinus realized she was somewhat out of the loop in the matter of cosmic events. She called the primal spirits to her, asking them what they knew of creation. All of it. The primal spirits bombarded her mind with such information that even with the mind of a god, she felt flabbergasted. The world had grown much since the last time she docummented her findings within the Halls Of Creation. The world was a big place, too much for one person, albeit a god, to catalogue. She whispered into the collective ear of the primal spirits, asking a favour of them once again. The primal spirits promptly agreed. Carving ice was not a difficult task for the collective spirits of nature itself. The spirits of ice and fire made their way to the halls of creation. The spirits of ice fulled the halls and solidified, the halls simply becoming a frozen mountainside once again. The spirits of cold made way for the spirits of fire, who began to rage through the mountainside, reimagining the halls of creation to their own design. Grand open halls were replaced with a series of tighter, more compact hallways. Ice sculptures reached out of the walls as through trying to escape an icy prison, such was the realism of the carvings. Pruinus was observant, but the primal spirits embodied all living and natural things. They knew every detail, intricacy and secret of the beings who had a place within this hall. The halls of creation were complete, nothing escaped the attention.of the primal spirits.
3 AP - Modify Realm
The primal spirits redesign the halls of creation, creating a series lf winding tunnels and hallways deep within the crown. Every creature, race, hero, god, exarch and avatar has a sculture here, amongst anything else of great importance. Addiontially, the halls update themselves automatically whenever something of importance is noticed by the primal spirits.
-The North pt 1-
The father sealed the exit to the room with several layers of fresh hide (old hides weren't safe, not for this). He took new paints and, with his finger, scratched symbols onto the taut tarp. Here and there the paint was too thick and it ran, but that was okay. The wards were stronger that way. Passion was important.
The father scrawled the sign of Pruinus in the center, largest, but other symbols spiraled out from it. The children noticed that some were missing, but that was why their father had brought them here.
When the room was secured, the Father sat down on a chair and called his children to him. They crowded on the floor and some on his lap. They clung closely together: there was no fire in this room, and the room itself was both old and cold with disuse. The children knew that the warmth of their kin was sweetest.
"Quiet now, settle down," the Father said. The words were tradition, passed down from many generations. The children here were quiet and still, though they did lean forward to grasp the words as they came from the Father's mouth.
"The time has come," the Father said, "to tell you of the kindly ones and the selfish gods. By whom do we swear?"
"Azgo," a little voice answered.
"Marcus," another spouted. A few other names were called out.
The Father nodded his approval. "And whom do we love and honor?" he asked.
"Pruinus." "Brother Branch." Other names joined the list.
Again the Father smiled at the asuteness of the children. "Wisely put, wisely put. But why, if we love Pruinus, do we never swear by her name? Why, if we swear by Azgo, do we hate him?"
To this the children had no answer, so the Father answered his own question. "For some are the kindly ones, and others are the selfish gods. The selfish gods think themselves warm, thinks themselves tall, think themselves hardy. They are not. We worship them to trick them. Their egos are satiated, their pride stroked. They never suspect that the elves do not truck with arrogant gods. They are like drunken louts, more trouble than they are worth."
"The kindly ones, they understand. They do not ask us to worship them, and we do not. But like an old friend, they are respected. Honored. An elf might swear by a trusted spear, because it has always been by his side and never let him down. An elf might swear by Pruinus, for she is ever by our side and never lets us down. She is a friend."
"But," a child interrupted, "no one ever swears by Pruinus's name."
The Father nodded, "True enough. That is because the selfish gods would throw a tantrum if they saw true devotion. We swear by Azgo, but we mean Pruinus, and an elf always knows this. To debase ourselves, to worship gods, that is not the way of the elves. It is as against our nature as it is for a fish to breath air. Pruinus, the old friend, she hears our vows, and though her name isn't the one we use, she knows us, and so she knows the words that are said are not the words our heart speaks."
The children huddled together with this information. The room seemed smaller, as though there were forces outside it, trying to get in and eat them. The Father saw this and smiled and spoke to them with reassurance. "Do not fear. You know the hidden ways, now, so you may not anger the selfish gods. This room is warded against them, the kindly ones keep them at bay. Here, when the portals are sealed, we are safe to speak the truths openly."
1AP command Elves: Defining their religion more. Elves don't view gods as fundamentally superior beings, and the idea of honestly worshipping them is utterly ridiculous. Instead, the elves honor those gods that are willing to be friends (they current see Pruinus as one of these, although she's never had any interactions with them). As such, when the elves "worship" a god, that is entirely an act designed to appease that god. It's considered more of a bother to deal with a selfish god than to go through the rituals of worshipping them. The elves do use the selfish gods as vows, but this is understood to be a stand-in for the kindly ones.
As a side note, this does mean that "worship" of azgo is actually quite common among the elves, although none of them are actually devoted to him. I'll leave it up to Raven to say if that's good enough for them to be able to channel divine energy "from" him.
-The North Part 2-
"The weather has spoken, Giroth Azerman. The elves march south. If you wish knowledge, walk with those who go south, talk to them. I am sure many would be interested to see this sun and solve its riddle."
The hand of the beast surrounded Agni in a smothering grip, funneling the heat of the sun into the God as the hand gripped tighter and tighter. Intense pressure and heat beat upon Agni, and the God began to feel decidedly... strange.
It was not like before. The heat was not fraying the universe to pieces around him. Instead, the heat, the pressure, it was all being directed *in*, at the core of what made Agni Agni. Deep within himself, that everflowing font of magma was being drained out of that extradimensional place which it drew from at an accelerated rate, increasing the pressure on the interior of the diamond shell that was now Agni. From the outside, falling through the perfect sphere of the crushing assault on himself, dirt and leaves and branches and rocks and even animals burned up instantaneously, charring to ash, then atomizing into flame, falling through the open and screaming mouthes of the God and becoming Magma itself.
Agni knew that his time was finished. It was the end. As the pressure built from the inside, it would eventually reach a point where an imperfection, however slight, would give way, fracturing the diamond structure. Moments later, the fractures would burst apart and That-Which-Was-Agni would be lost. He could not move, could not maneuver. Dimly, he was aware that Ka'Vah had answered his call, and wished he could tell it to flee as far away as possible... but words, thoughts, were nearly beyond him.
And then Branch struck, and the hand of the God-Mountain slipped and relaxed just enough. The pressure of a thousand suns, the pressure of an entire plane of magma, surged from one of Agni's many mouthes and through a small gap in the formerly uniform grip. It was no longer Magma. Pure Plasma, the fury of fire amplified to astronomincal levels, burst free in a beam of destruction, and lanced directly into the Godmountain, breaking through the entirety of the beast's body in the space of an instant. The Godmountain roared in pain and fury, and shook its hand, which sent the beam lancing all across the monstrous form, carving entire sides of the creature off to tumble below. And then the beast let go.
A massive shockwave of flame and fury burst from the many mouths of Agni as the pressure within him found instantaneous release, devastating the land and crashing into the stunned Godmountain, who stumbled, scrabbled, and fell off the cliff towards the water below as Agni lost conciousness and fell like a stone, smashing into the ground, rolling, and eventually following his foe in a plunge towards the depths.
Thought, as I know I can't actually *kill* your God-being, I figured extraordinary damage was... fair game
Morenth watched for a long moment as the Sun-Mountain descended and swallowed the Beacon. A voice inside her said she should feel paniced, should feel shocked, should feel as if the entire state of things in the universe had fallen to pieces around her. And a part of her did feel that way. But, seeing the destruction of the home of the Azure Dragons (which she now knew made their home there) only brought back visions of seeing her own home destroyed from afar as she and the dragons sent with her had been winging back towards the Eternal Volcano when it had erupted. Panic and fear had been dominant then as well, but Morenth had had to force those feelings down and away inside of her and be there for those under her command. It was with the same unnatural calm that she raised her voice and trumpeted over the confused shouts of the gathered dragons.
"I am Morenth, eldest among the Crimson Dragons, and I am no stranger to destruction. We saw our home and most of our kin destroyed at the conclusion of the Craterspawn Wars and fled to the Eastern Mountains. Lucan of the Azure Brood, I pledge myself and my kin to you and yours' aid. But first, I have a question: what does this mean? How is it that the sun could fall from the sky?"
Giroth nodded. "Then I go south with those that march, as my mission is simple: To discover the means to save my people."
Pen, Thought, the Irony is not lost on me that the ice-elves are traveling south to the land of the fire-dwarves only to find that the fire-dwarves now live underneath a frozen lake.
1 AP: "Command" Land (in the form of a massive explosion): A portion of the eastern shoreline becomes glass due to the force of the explosion that is released when Agni escapes from the clutches of the GodMountain.
The godwisp clawed through the ethreal cracks in the wards. The walls were under constant pressure and threatened to collapse on top of him. And the wards, how agonizing to the touch... with razor, frigid edges they carved across his essence. Azgo screamed, remembering the feeling of the Reaping Sword within him.
And then... vast space. light. Power.
A rush of life flowed back into the wisp, organically wrapping the bones of the Fused God in careful, sickened tissue. He could feel the filth pumping in his chests, and the tightness of swaddled skin. A deep breath shook his mucus-lined lungs.
Azgo, the true Azgo, stood once again in the Godcrater. It was a broken land. Islands had been forceably crashed into one another to form its likeness again. Crags and canyons scarred the once smooth ground, and geysers bubbled over like cracked cauldrons. Azgo surveyed the first battlefeild of the gods for hours, thinking. Rubble was everywhere.
There was much work to be done.
Modify Plane (0AP): Azgo spends a few years building and rebuilding Guvarah An, Palace of the True King. Rather than the last incarnation, which was a large fortress in the middle of the crater, this new fortress city covers the entire island. Walls run up and across cliffs and gorges, towers as numerous as wheat dot the landscape, and fortress connect wall segments. The largest fortress of them all is the size of a capital city and houses the throne. But despite its impressiveness, it holds no AP value in terms of combat or defenses... yet.
---Edge of the Eastern Sea---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The battle had only just begun, and then it seemed to have finished. Ka'Vah had distracted this mammoth creature as best he could, though his effectiveness was in question (which he inwardly found infuriating).
The god-beast staggered, and then fell. A moment of awkward peace followed before being suddenly interupted by the crashing of that gem-god-person-thing unto the cliffside. A bounce here, a roll there, and then it teetered over the cliff. Ka'Vah panicked, losing some his form's crisp image into indistinction.
A god-mountain does not perish simply because it fell into the ocean...
His serpentine form billowed over the cilff and surrounded the falling diamond. Everywhere past the edge was shrouded in searing steam nearly ripping itself out of the water, but Ka'Vah was adept as seeing past such trivial things. Summoning up his strength, a divine gale of smoke and steam carried the diamond-god slowly upward. It was... straining to say the least. Ka'Vah nearly buckled under his girth.
With a final push, Ka'Vah threw the hefty god on the far side of a hill. A small cloud of dust and boulders were tossed into the air. The Eclipse aflame sluggishly rolled over to the unconcious body.
No response. It was hard to hear over the roar of steam behind them.
"Move yourself! This fight is far from done!"
"Ka'Vah commands it!"
Ka'Vah collapsed unto the sleeping god, smothering him with the stench of burning flesh and rotting wood, the aftertaste of ash clingling to the throat. Thick, black smoke poured in through the many holes in the body. Dignified? No. Neccessary? Unfortunately.
But at least Agni was gone. Dead presumably. That brought him at least some joy.
Ka'Vah is using himself as a smelling salt in the hopes of waking Agni. Just thought i'd clarify that.
Deep within the diamond sphere, the core of Agni caught and sparked as the smoke of Ka'Vah tickled open the portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Magma flowed out, chasing the smoke before it as it flooded the interior of the God. With a roar, Agni rose into the air, magma flowing from every eye, every mouth. After a long moment, an interior current began to flow within the sphere, keeping most of the Magma contained within, save for a few stray globs that escaped periodically from one orifice or another. Ka'Vah felt the God regard him.
Ka'Vah, Thank you.
Ka'Vah, Rrwew asdodddd.
Ka'Vah Dominu Geaeka.
Ka'Vah, rrrrreeeee, Eqwewaaakkkkk.
Ka'Vah Dank Shen.
Ka'Vah, Grac Ti.
The God spoke, but all the mouths spoke in a different language, a cacophany of sound that crashed against the 'ears' of the exarch before him.
Agni frowned, diamond flowing like molten glass. After a moment, he tried again. Now, one language and set of mouthes were dominant, while the others were reduced to a buzzing whisper.
Ka, Vah. Thank you. I am glad to know that I could count on you in the end.
"This is no end, gem god. It will return..."
Ka'Vah continued to stare into the mountains of hissing, salt-scented steam. Eventually something clicked in his mind.
"Wait. How do you know my glorious name, gem god?"
Ka'Vah's flames were flames nonetheless. Fire against fire. The godbeast soaked up the heat, its form strengthening. Yet Ka'Vah was not flame alone. A sickness was in that fire, and it seeped into the god. Disease attacked the godbeasts body. Its ooze turned sluggish, and the black shell lost its gleam. But the creature was hot, drawing warmth from the source itself. The disease slowed the beast, but it could not take hold or distract it, as its own heat burned the infection away, like a fever to end all fevers.
Then the branch struck and Agni freed himself.
In thanks, the diamond-born attacked again with the pure essence of fire. At first the blast did little that could be seen. The creature's shell grew harder. But the blast continued, and it's blood grew sluggish, then hardened as well. Through and through, liquid turned solid, and that which was solid hardened impossibly. Hard enough to cut an atom, but brittle too, brittle enough that even the wind caused sheets of the shell to slough off.
The godmountain froze, turned into a statue by the heat.
And then it was tossed into the ocean, the great heat sink of the world. The paralyzing heat dissipated, solid joints were freed, and the creature could move again.
The shard of petrified flesh on the continent cooled as well, and turned to liquid.
Neither Ka'Vah nor Agni had warning. One moment the hill around them was pleasant. There was burnt grass and the traces of destruction, but through it all green life grew, and keen eyes could see the animals peeking out of their hiding spots, looking to see if the end of the world was over.
The next, the hill and all the area around it was vaporized.
There was the briefest of instances in which the smoke retained the shape of the land and grass and creatures. That instant passed unnoticed, so brief it was, and a shockwave followed that flung the two gods high into the air. The matter, that had been solid but now a gas, expanded violently.
And up through this the god-mountain came.
1AP Command Land: A great round chunk of the eastern coast is vaporized. Eventually this will get filled in by the ocean waters and would make a great bay/cove thingy
The top of the mangrove tree cracked as the Zizu took flight again. Branches the size of raging rivers crumbled to the ocean below. Nearly half the tree was ruined.
In the air, the Zizu began to retch, and it vomited out a red orb that hung over the destruction of the tree. This orb cast a bloodly light on the ruins.
As large as the sky, the Zizu began to head north.
1AP Harm: The top half of the mangrove tree gets ripped off by the Zizu. I'm fairly sure this does not bode well for the halflings.
1AP Harm/Nourish: The red orb above the mangrove tree is a dedicated AP tied to the sun artifact within the Zizu. Whoever controls all the sun orbs will gain access to these (yes, there will be others). These default is set to harm the world, but if someone not-evil got ahold of the suns, they could probably undo a lot of damage that the godbeasts are doing.
As the giant mountain rose up out of ocean, it paused. The splinter in its eye still irritated it. It had already cost the mountain its prey once, it wouldn't let it meddle again. All the mountain was aflame, and the creature stroked its heat until the branch in its eye had no choice but to burn.
And it did burn, releaving the monster for a moment, of its pain.
Though Agni had been thrown high into the air, even from his distance he could hear a distinct "splorch" as one of the mountain's eyes burst is a cascade of light and life. The tendrils of a giant bramble bush curled out from it and, with thorny delight, grew again into the mountain's flesh. Thorns the size of trees grew sharp and strong, impaling the creature, brining pain to its every move.
More and more brambles wrapped around the mountain, weighing it down, dragging it back to earth. Though the mountain's fires raged, the briar was sustained by divine powers and would not burn.
It was the first truth and it will be the last truth: life endures.
A few smaller tendrils of the plan wove into the air, and twisted themselves into the shape of an old man. Bramble and briar formed his bone and flesh, and from them grew leaves and flowers that in turn formed his clothes. Father Thorn, old and twisted, hurried with speed as quick as thought. He grabbed the two gods, his fire-hardened thorns piercing even diamonds and teasing out magma, and hauled them off. Far off, to the west, past the crown, into the badlands, too fast to notice the sun burried there or the god seeking it, and into the might-be forest of forgotten dreams.
With a hrumph, Father Thorn tossed the two gods onto the ground. From within the bramble, eyes as dark as blackberries locked onto Agni. Insults grew on his tongue, but Father Thorn pinched them off before they could produce fruit. Instead he said, "The land couldn't have taken much more of that debacle."
4AP-Create Avatar: Father Thorn. A large humanoid. His body is made of thick, song-of-the-south-esq brambles, although leaves and flowers from these brambled serve as simple clothing, almost militaristic in form. Father Thorn gives the appearance of being an old man, and his personality is far more tyranical than other iterations of Leaf.
Agni looked up blearily at the form that stood above him.
Tealord? He managed to say after a long moment.
"Tealord?" Father Thorn asked. He raised a very branch-like eyebrow in question. The word echoed through his memories, and eventually knocked something loose. "No. He's dead."
"You nearly died twice yourself. Why'd you attack that monster alone? Where are Pruinus and the others? And what is this one?" Father Thorn inclined his head towards Ka.
The active faces of Agni turned to regard Thorn. Your resemblace to the TeaLord is obvious, but if you wish to continue this charade, very well, Leaf is dead. Now, what have you done to the beast? Is it dead as well?
5 AP: Agni, Leaf, TASOE, Zebus, Azgo, Pruinus, Sa
4 AP: Leni and the rest.
Map: Man, this was a hard one to try and update. 'Burning Tree' and 'Plain of Glass' aren't easy
Story: Two weeks here...
Giroth the Azer arrives in the north and is brought before the rulers of the elves at their court before the Midnight Sun. The elves agree to help the Azer, and begin preparations to head south. To the south, the meeting between the Chitrachs and the Humans finally ends peacefully, as they come to a cautious agreement of future discussion and friendship. As the Chitrachs leave, they come upon Marcus, and invite him to visit their nest. He accepts.
On the oceans to the west, the followers of Azgo sail across the seemingly endless ocean, sustained by the blessings of Azgo. Unfortunately, they are the first to experience the power of the star Wormwood, which reanimates the dead. In their wake, the Halflings develop a revered school of medicine.
The Black dragons call a Moot, which entails killing a young black dragon. Morenth, the emmissary from the Red dragons nearly leaves, appalled at the needless death. The Mootstone calls not only the black dragons, but also a nearby Azure and Orange dragon as well.
To the east, a tribe of Orcs, blessed by Agni with power and supernaturally powerful hunting animals, begins to unite the tribes beneath them, while the Nix begin to trade on a massive scale with the other races, using their link to nature to gain large stockpiles of animal and scavengable resources.
All is not well for the Nix, however, as Ka'Vah destroys the hometown of Timmy Bushytail for... the fun of it. Timmy takes the death of everyone he loves and everything he cares about... about as well as one might expect.
Far above the world, Azgo and Sa meet. Sa is intrigued by the myriad broken promises that surround Azgo. Azgo, meanwhile, wants knowledge of what has happened since he was imprisoned.
And once more, a doom stalks the land. The Godbeasts rouse from their slumber/hiding/egg. The Behemoth falls from the skies onto the Beacon-sun, destroying the sanctuary temple before swallowing the Beacon itself. The Egg breaks open and a massive bird-beast, the Zizu, appears and takes wing. And in the oceans, the Leviathan rises from the depths.
The Godmonsters are clearly heading for the suns, replacing them one by one with red, pulsing orbs of Evil. The Zizu and Leviathan encounter little resistance, the former destroying a large portion of the Mangrove Tree of the halflings, while the Leviathan floods Sil Arkosh, 'solving' the problem of the rampaging Slaadi. The Azer are barely able to escape destruction by sealing off a portion of their city using new Pyromancy magics. The Leviathan leaves a frozen lake when it leaves, the Azer trapped at the bottom. Seg approaches the sun buried in the western fields.
Only at the Eternal Volcano is the Behemoth stalled by the arrival of Agni. The God and God-monster fight, and Agni is nearly destroyed as the Behemoth rips apart reality itself around the God. This causes Agni to merge with nearly identical versions of himself from other parallel timelines, as well as turning Agni into a diamond. As a consequence, Agni now speaks in a cacophany of different tongues. Eventually, Agni, aided by Ka'Vah and Branch, fight the Behemoth to a standstill, and are eventually pulled away by a new form of Leaf: Father Thorn, leaving a heavily wounded Behemoth to manipulate the sun within the Eternal Volcano as the landscape groans in the aftermath of the battle.
Elsewhere, the Moot begins and moments after it does, the Behemoth swallows the sun. The Black dragons panic and splinter into factions. Seeking to keep the meeting from devolving into complete chaos, Morenth and Cantorix make impassioned speeches and Morenth spills her blood on the Mootstone.
Sa and Azgo negotiate for Sa's support of Azgo's eventual plans to defeat the firstborn, but eventually part ways, no bargain having been struck. However, Sa is given the rare gift of safe passage across the Abyss, which grows darker and more malevolent as it fills with evil souls. Azgo, tired from his extended journey, returns to it to brood and recover.
Ka'Vah was taken aback. So much smoke... as far as the eye could see. It had filled the heavens and coated the clouds with a charcoal black. It was... beautiful. And unsettling. Only when Zebus had cast Azgo into the Abyss had he seen such power. To think, an entire coast up into vapor...
And if a coast could, why not the whole world? It was something to think about if nothing else.
Taking the form of a serpent again, the Eclispe Aflame glided behind the gods, putting as many bodies between himself and the god-beast as possible. He finally coiled himself, watching the eastern horizon.
Perhaps it was time that he left. Surely the gem-god and this... bramble-man could deal with the god-beast. And then Ka'Vah eyed the Gem-God closer, still waiting for a response. His vision narrowed. Each facet seemed... oddly familiar. And a similar heat radiated from his mere presence.
Ka'Vah smiled. Perhaps this gem-god had absorbed the dead god's essence!
Or perhaps it was...
Ka'Vah stopped smiling.
~~~The Glass Coast~~~
As soon as the divine influence vanished, the vines and thorns that had encumbered the Behemoth were set on fire and burnt to nothing. The creature, however, was not quick enough to catch where the gods had gone. That was fine by it. It had work to do.
The behemoth trudged back to the Eternal Volcano. There was something different in its behavior: it was as if the hand of an intelligent master guided the pet, instructed it. Taking the sun burried there had proven to be bothersome. But the sun itself wasn't truly needed. Being hidded was as good as being taken.
The deed done, the Behemoth left the volcano and headed back east. There were mortals there that needed... attention. Before it went, a red star began to shine over the home of the Angi'Vodha
~~~The Frozen Lake~~~
Above the ice and frost and water, as the Leviathan swam north through the air, it left behind a red star that bathed the water in crimson.
~~~The World in General~~~
Where Artun had come from was marked by small pieces of charred flesh and blood. What passed as feet for him were burnt and worn to blood and bone.
His hatred of the god still drove him on. He'd been seeking the betrayer for ages, and had a bit of luck when the fire god flew towards the Eternal Volcano. Artun arived just in time to see Agni transformed, but the battle moved too quickly, and soon the Behemoth and the betrayer were far to the east. Even then, Artun neared just as the Behemoth's eye exploded and the strange god dragged the diamond-Agni away. To the west. So it was west that Artun headed.
2AP: Setting two more Nourish/Harm time bombs.
In the darkness, the Black dragons murmured and jostled against one another. Suddenly, a pillar of flame split the night, flowing from the mouth of Morenth and bathing the Moot in its light. A few moments later, a grunting belch unleased a river of glowing magma from the mouth of the Orange dragon. As the Moot watched, the magma raised itself from the earth and began to spin around the fire. Morenth, surprised, stopped breathing out flame, and the magma wavered in the air unsteadily for a moment until a voice worked its way into her head.
Keep breathing fire. I need it to work. The voice of the orange dragon rang in her head. Obiediently, she continued to breathe out fire, and the magma worked its way around, forming a glowing lattice around the flame. Suddenly, the fire grew ten times brighter, bathing the terrain with brightness.
You can stop now.
Morenth stopped, and the fire remained, trapped within a lantern of floating Magma which sustained and amplified it as it bounced about like a caged animal.
Morenth looked down at the squat orange figure.
I've done what I could. You're the one with the words. Talk to them before they kill us all!
Morenth's mouth twisted. The dragon was right. Things looked bad, although the lantern had brought silence to the gathered crowd. Morenth opened her mouth and began to speak.
"Would a creature of darkness provide you light to see? Would a creature of darkness have the light of Fire within her? No. I am not a creature of darkness, and I speak the truth. Listen to the story of me and my kin, and tell me that I have not suffered as much as you against the Craterspawn.
I was born into combat. My first memories are my very bones being stitched together and the searing pain of magma surrounding me moments before I burst into the caldera of the Eternal Volcano. I opened my eyes and saw Craterspawn armies descending into the caldera, intent on killing its inhabitants. I breathed, and fire engulfed them. I beat my wings and saw as my kin pulled themselves from the liquid fire. For a time, we were as the gods themselves, burning wave after wave of those fallen angels from the skies as we pushed up and over the edge of the caldera and into the world itself.
To behold the true might of the Craterspawn horde, surrounding us. Fifty of our number were chosen to fight free of the armies and seek allies in the world, and I was chosen as their leader. We fought free and flew to the Crown, where we met other races fighting the Craterspawn as well. Nix and Humans and Elves and Galeb Duhr joined together in an alliance of desparation against the Craterspawn who slaughtered them at every turn.
But they could not help us. They needed our help more than we needed theirs. And so after a short time, we returned to the Eternal Volcano, or at least we tried to."
Emotion began to work its way into the voice of the dragon as she continued.
"But the war had taken a dire turn. A beast of choking smoke and dying flame stalked the battlefield, killing our kin. Before the assault of that Servant of Corruption, we stood a chance. After, it was futile. Even when a miracle occured and a God took away the Servant, we could still see the bodies of our kin falling to the earth...
And then-" Morenth's voice caught and she breathed heavily for a moment. "And then the Volcano exploded. In an instant, the war of the Volcano ended, and in an instant we fifty dragons were all that remained of our race. Fifty, out of an estimated thousand that were born from the caldera."
Morenth's voice grew hard.
"Can you not say that my kind has paid the price against the Craterspawn? Can you not say that we have earned your respect and trust, the respect and trust of the whole world? Can you seriously say, to my face, that I am a servant of the Corruptor after he took nearly everything from me?"
She looked directly at the challenging black dragon.
"Perhaps you can. But you are wrong. I shall prove it to you. I have told you the story of my kind. To those of us who number so few, to shed our blood is the most powerful of pacts. And so, in the presence of all of you as witnesses, I hereby swear---" Morenth grunted as she cut into her arm with a claw and the red blood began to flow out of the gash. "--- That I speak only the Truth. I am no servant of Azgo, and I stand with you to bring the light of the suns back to the heavens."
Morenth reared back and swung her arm, spraying blood over the gathered dragons and splattering the Mootstone itself as she did so.
-Meeting in the Forgotten Forest-
The thorns over the god's eye twitched. He had hoped, foolishly, that the gods might have matured over the years. That is what he got for being optimistic. "And your resemblance to a dragon's backside is uncanny, Agni: shall I take that as evidence that you're an a-"
Father Thorn cut himself short. He took a deep breath and then exhaled, hoping to force out his frustration as he did so. "I did nothing to the beast except to be born. I can't imagine that birth is anathema to it. But again, where are Pruinus and the others? Why did you fight that monster alone?"
The bramble-man glanced to the smoke-serpent. "Well... effectively alone."
Ka'Vah twitched. Storm-winds raged within him, reducing his form into a clotted mass of wirling smoke. Small wisps leaked out and swirled into the lofted canopy.
He turned inward.
"HOW DARE YOU! You knew! You knew that the gem-god was Agni and you said nothing! For too long you have been a parasite, feeding and chaining my power to whatever ends you wish. I AM MORE THAN YOU! I was destined to be greater than you, and I will find a way to cut you out worthless little Scorch. I will..."
Ka'Vah's head slowly turned, centimeter by centimeter, towards Father Thorn.
"We did not fight. We fled. We had the advantage, the Glory, and we fled. How... brave."
"Nourish" Population (3AP): The craterspawn take to the barren grounds of the Godcrater once more. Having been fed the heartblood of Azgo, these new monstrosities are far stronger than their elder peers. They are mechanically size Large, and seem much more muscular. The bony helmet/skull is thicker, and rugged bony plates cover parts of the chest, back, and lower arms.
No voices. No wind. Not even a heartbeat.
The blood dripped slowly down the snouts of the closer dragons and into open mouths, where it sizzled with diluted acid. But not a single dragon was watching Morenth. All eyes were fixed on the Mootstone. The thick blood, glittering with the flicker of nightime fire, seeped into the pillar. Even as it flowed over the drying scabs of the youngling, the blood transmuted through the skin of the stone. The pillar rumbled. The icewater of the lake, forever tear-taste bitter, felt a particular heat move between the dragon claws. Not the heat of boiling, slick and heavy, but fire's wicked kiss.
And then... nothing. The water's caress vanished into bitter cruelty and the stone that had shaken was still.
The assembled kin were stiller than the Mootstone, stunned. A few forgot to breathe, and endured the spasms of the chest untill at last a pained gasp broke the surface. They seemed caught in a dream on the verge of waking up to a great realization but inable to force the final stirrings of the night.
And Cantorix. Cantorix was also suprised and yet very assured. Somehow, in that moment, he knew that he would never again release his burdens. His pain was to be carried. His grief felt. And thoughts thought. It was dishonorable...no, wrong to forsake his mind in the hopes of empty comfort. A bond...
The time for speeches was over. Morenth had spoken, and the Mootstone had spoken, and both had layed the foundation for a... bond.
"Why do you hesitate, kinsmen? The Mootstone has accepted these former-foreigners. Do you stand with them?"
And every eye in the audience looked away from the Mootstone. Cantorix seemed older than he had a few seconds ago. Worn.
And then... one by one, different dragons from random spots in the crowd came to life, and spoke with an ancient pride.
"I stand with them."
"Kin are not to be abandoned."
"You are not alone, bloodkin!"
"As you have lost brothers, so we will die for ours!"
One voice shook with rage. The youngling raored and frothed with anger.
"Blasphemy!! Defiler of the Dead and Living!"
A few choice members from the crowd gathered to her, drawing attention and forming an unofficial seperation from the crowd that engulfed it. They cried out, but were left mostly unheard beneath the uproar of pledges and oaths. This splinter group of dragons suddenly became aggresive, beating and clawing their way toward the Mootstone.
Modify Artifact (0AP): The Mootstone has been attuned to crimson dragons, and the death of either a black dragon or a red dragon will summon both groups to the Mootstone.
AP Remaining: 2
~Agni, Thorn and Ka'Vah~
The voice whispered its way through Ka'Vah's mind.
Of course I knew. Who else would he have been? The Source of All Fire called, and at our core, we heard and answered.
A small bit of steel worked its way into the voice.
You wish me, what passes as your concience, gone. You will get your wish, and soon. I feel my essence grow weaker. But beware. I have been doing some exploring in this shared body of ours. It is you that is the parasite, not I. You are the sickening of fire, the poisoning of smoke, but without something... without me for you to feed upon, you are nothing, Ka'Vah. A fire without fuel. When I die, you go too, Ka'Vah.
Agni's voice cut into the internal dialogue.
Ka'Vah. We did not have the advantage. If not for he-who-swears-he-is-not-the-Tealord, I would have perished, as would you. At best we fought the beast to a tie. I fear this is too much for any one of us, as the Bramblemaster noted.
As for your question. Agni faced Thorn. There was no time. I have lost track of my kin in the many years since we cleansed the surface of the earth, but I agree, we must find them if we are to stand a chance against this monster and finish this.
Agni's many faces frowned.
Something is happening to the loci from which I unleashed the devastation that cleansed the world of Craterspawn. They are being... manipulated. I am losing my connection to them.
Ka'Vah. Agni's active faces turned to look at the Eclipse Aflame. I send you to find our allies. Find The ColdMo- No, she probably would not wish to see you. Find the DeathLord. I am sure you are up to this task. Tell him to meet me here. Or, if you cannot find him... Go back to where we met. See if you can find some way back into the realm of your former master. CONVINCE him that at this moment we must work together. Go. Now.
Now for the ColdMother. Agni had no servants left, other than Thorn, and he didn't think the Leaf-eque being would take kindly to being given orders. A more... creative solution was necessary.
Agni rose from the earth and above the line of the trees, and he began to spin. Each mouth filled with Magma, and as the mouths came to point towards the heavens, Agni spat out a lump of lava to the heavens. He spun so quickly that his features blurred, and for nearly ten minutes he sent Fire into the heavens. Finally, at long last, he slowed and stopped. Above Thorn and Agni, receding into the sky was a picture made of thousands upon thousands of points of light: A portrait of a snowy peak, a mask of fire, a leaf and a pentagram and skull. If Pruinus (or Zebus) was looking up, she should see them and be able to find them quickly.
Agni returned to the surface of the world and to Thorn.
I have done what I could to get her attention, BrambleMaster. Now, there are two loci of power left to me that remain undefiled. One is in the far north, but the other is very close. Please, follow me and we can talk after we have secured it.
With that, Agni sped from the forest and to the east, heading for the Crown. Soon, he came upon the mostly-buried sun... and a familiar figure standing before it.
You... He growled as he descended next to Seg.
What are you doing here?
I'll get to the Moot tomorrow
2 AP: Craft Artifact (for lack of a better description): The Stars. In this setting, the Stars are actual balls of never-cooling magma that are slowly floating away from the planet and into the void. At the moment, they look like pictures of the holy symbols of Agni, Leaf, Pruinus and Zebus, but over time those pictures will fade as the stars drift further apart from one another. Eventually, many, many years from now, the stars will become too small to observe as they travel away from the planet, and the night sky will grow completely dark again (save for the moon. We *do* have a moon, people!
3 AP remains.
Seg hesitated. Wind screamed across the badlands, and dust, nearly invisible from the lack of light, tumbled along with it. A fragment of a sun glinted through the dirt and rock, twinkling like the unholy star, calling to the god.
An odd cloud swirled within the orb, and it gave Seg pause. He approached, and it whirled faster. Did it beckon or warn? The master's command or not, Seg had no desire to be attacked by a puny artifact. Yet when it did nothing, he came closer. The thing seemed safe enough.
His order was to simply take the artifact. But that swirl gave him pause. He held back his leather apron with his left hand and bent forward, leaning in towards the thing, entranced by the way that the light and other-light danced within. With his right hand he reached out and brushed some of the grey earth and rocks away, to get a better view.
That swirl wasn't part of the sun. A different power, with a different purpose, that much was clear. But what was it for.
An unpleasant but familiar voices startled Seg. He stood up and whipped around, and began to speak as he did so.
"Ah, Master Agni, I-" Seg saw the diamond creature before him. "Ah... it is Master Angi, yes? You have changed much since we last met. But, your orders to me still ring in my ears. As you have commanded, so shall I be gone from your presence."
Seg turned to leave, but paused, "Or, after all these years, do you wish to invite me into your presence again?"
Seg gave a pained smile to the thorny one. "I must apologize to you, I would stay and talk, but Master Agni's orders and all..."
~~~The Eastern Coast~~~
No one watched as the Behemoth moved west. Well... that depends on how "no one" is defined. The monster left behind a black slug, longer than a man is tall. This thing watched as the Behemoth moved away. Although it was just one slug, it wasn't a single thing. A thousand thousand voices echoed in its mind, all demanding the same thing. Evil.
The air around the Behemoth groaned: mountains aren't meant to move. It displaced vast quantities of gas, which only crashed back together behind it like thunder.
The slug, satisfied that the pet would attend to destruction, moved up the eastern coast. A mirage in the distance had caught its attention.
Further up the coast, the ancient spirits found a lie. From the outside, it looked perfectly normal. Just a desolate bit of coast. But the spirits passed its boundaries, and found inside ash. Even the air was dead, it decayed as is hung there.
The slug moved onto the ash and grew. Tendrils of slime stretched out from its body and hardened to bones. Two legs, four arms, ribs and spine and head. On this framework the slug hung itself, drooping but satisfied. A great evil had been done here. It was beautiful.
The spirits stumbled forward, kicking up long-dead ash into the still air. Dust-devils formed and danced across the expanse, mocking the life that had once lived here. Towards the center of the region, there was another deception, and the spirits moved towards his.
Irked by the illusion, the spirits waved an arm and dispelled them. A god was revealed before them. Old, elfish in appearance, and asleep.
No. Not a god. Another deception. But this one was stronger. There was a god here, but it was asleep within its own deception.
The ancient spirits picked off a glob of gloop from its own body. The mass formed into a tiny slug, and the spirits dropped it onto the deception's face. The slug crawled around the deception's face for a moment before finding its nose and sliding into it.
Within, the slug found the tiny god, barely alive. Barely more than a loose concept that was unlikely to even have a sense of self. The deception was far more interesting. Memories of what it had been, what it had done. And memories of what the god within had tried to hide.
This might be useful. The slug expanded, covering the sleeping god, and pretended to be it. It ordered the deception to awake, and, the deception thinking it was the god, responded.
Meanwhile, the ancient spirits headed elsewhere.
1AP Mind Control Shadow's god (in Tsu'Misel's form, for now). I got Shadow's permission ahead of time.
-The Forgotten Forest-
Ah, impatience. Father Thorn hadn't missed it.
The diamond body of Agni hurdled through the canopy overhead. The trees were more of an illusion than anything else, so they didn't catch fire, but it was a close matter. Perhaps if the god had lingered among the foliage longer.
With a sigh, Thorn looked around. The forest hadn't changed much since Life had last been there. There were even still piles of seeds, plans for all life that ever was or would be. Many piles were missing, summoned into the world by his predecessor or others. But many piles remained. One day, Thorn hoped, the forest would be empty.
There was work to do, though. Thorn held out his hand and willed the universe to form the books of natural laws. The tome condensed in one hand, the quill in the other. Thorn opened the book to a fresh page: it was always a fresh page, when he intended to write new laws. Pen was put to paper and the world changed.
Across the continent and further temperatures roles and the humidity increased. Clouds formed over the oceans, and raced across the land to wetten the world. Plants stirred from their slumber. Green shoots grew out of trees, seeds long forgotten in the ground sprouted. The animals, too, took notice. Many mated, others gave birth to their young.
Spring had come, the season of life. Surely, Pruinus would notice. But to be on the safe side, Thorn sent the newly-invigorated primal spirits to seek her out.
With that done, Father Thorn followed Agni.
4Ap Command Universe: Father Thorn creates Spring. Basically, this is exactly like how Pruinus created Winter, just a different season. Like Winter, Spring usually lasts a turn, and Father Thorn can summon the season at will.
Father Thorn appeared next to Agni. In this barren place, Thorn's body turned yellow and thin, like tumbleweed ready to roll across a desert.
"FireBringer, call me Father Thorn, but if you must use a title, then Master Bramble or Supreme LifeLord will do," he said to Agni.
Thorn turned to Seg and examined him. "And despite Agni's commands, will you stay if I order it?"
---The Forgotten Forest------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ka'Vah looked furiosly at Agni. Was this a god or a child?! Did he have any concept of glory?
"No! I slowed him, you wounded him, and this fearful one blinded him! He was vulnerable, crippled! And we-No, Wait! Listen to me, Ka'Vah..."
And then Agni was gone.
Could things get any worse? Agni... ordering him around. And that mortal... that mortal! Aggghhhh!!
"You! Thorn-thing! Where is Zebus? Where can.... Thorn-Thing!"
Ka'Vah's serpentine twisted around, peering around the tree trunks and the shrubs.
"Where are you?! Bramble-man! Do not dare walk away from me!!"
Ka'Vah shook with rage. Despite all of his power, all of his effort, they simply... walked away from him?! His form broke apart into a swirling tempest, fighting the illusions and himself. Spurts of sickly fire flew at random from his body, choked, and then were snuffed out. Suddenly the smoke launched into the air with ferocity and consumed the skyline, raging in the heavens.
Ka'Vah felt the overwhelming urge to kill something... and he had an idea as how to summon Zebus.
He had grown accustomed to it over the endless cycle of years, the constant rush and crash of water overhead. It was soothing in its own way. And if Azgo eventually tired of its bombastic babbling or the new shreiking, the very depths of his palace blocked the sounds of the outside world. It could be quiet, very quiet. Never calm, but quiet.
For the past few hours he had wandered from one creation vat to the next, opening that which had been sealed and pouring fresh blood into the depths. New flocks were emerging. Straight from birth, their talons sunk into the unwary and the useless. The command of Azgo echoed still in their minds.
How many years had passed since he had seen Sa? 10? Just a day? Time felt strange to him, always distant. He had built the entirty of Guvarah An... but it now felt like a mere blink, like all memories do. But all of this loosely flowing time Azgo had wondered what he needed next. His army was returning, loyal as they were visceral, but he needed advantages in other feilds. Allies...
His hands ran over the rough stone of the throne's armrest.
He had once said to himself that his visits to the outside would be kept sparse, and only used in neccessity. As far as he could gather, only Sa knew of his "escape" from the Abyss. And if Sa knew little of the others, then the Tyrant Leaf was less organized than Azgo had originally pictured. This was the best time and a slowly closing window.
For there was another. Another entity free of the tyrant's corrupting touch. Perhaps it was time Azgo sought him out, before the Firstborn did. Yes... perhaps it was. Azgo rose from his throne, and began walking with unyeilding purpose, like he always did.
For Azgo was always working. He did little celebrating and even less relaxing. Even in rest he was planning, unlike his jubilant siblings outside this warded cage. Azgo smiled a thin, chapped, toothy grin.
And Let them be Jubilant! Let them tend their gardens, nourishing the fruits of their picking. Let them cultivate and nourish. Let them build an organic monument to the rewards of betrayal! For on a day of Azgo's choosing, the sky would darken and the winds would lash against the branches. Fruit will fall from the vine, sour... and rotten.
His home was gone. Swallowed.
Lucan felt nothing but a cold hollowness to himself, and this worried him.
The sanctum had been the only home of the Azure brood. All his kin had spent their entire lives there.
And now it was gone. Swallowed.
He was alone among strangers. They were dragons, true, but they were not his kin.
His pride was gone. Swallowed.
Lucan shook thoughts from his mind and stepped to the Mootstone. He spoke slowly, with perfect, chilling, enunciation.
"With The Beacon swallowed, I am now the last of my kind. It is not much, but I offer myself to this pact."
Lucan bit into his foreleg, daintily dripping cupriferous blood along the stone's side.
"Brethren. Kinsmen. It seems my people are young, for we have grown and lived in a world bereft of these "Craterspawn". But I doubt not the cause, nor would I, nor any Azure dragon, dare to stand against brother or sister."
Lucan spread wide his wings and roared, a sound of rage and sorrow.
"And yet it would seem our ignorance bespoke our downfall. Who else but these 'craterspawn' could be behind the theft of a sun and the death of my people?"
Lucan hopped to Cantorix and bowed his wings. "I know not how to fight these craterspawn, but I have tooth, and breath, and place myself at your service. I promise that the dying glory of my kind serve the greater whole, lest our legends all be swallowed by craterspawn beasts".
As the spirits left the deception wearing the face of the god, they found a single flower had bloomed amidst the barren desert. It blew into petals as they approached and then was gone.
~The Northern Winds~
Sa hummed to itself as it traveled north.
Interesting developments indeed. As Sa drifted along on the icy northern winds, it sent out tendrils of power. One found the frozen sun below it, and quickly surrounded it, smothering it gently with power and will.
With the sun as both anchor and compass, the second tendril sped far to the south and east. It passed through the flesh of the God Mountain, finding the Beacon within its gullet. This tendril needed no subtlety. As soon as the conduit was established, a jolt of power spanned the distance, and was gone.
~The Godbeast's Gullet~
The Beacon shone bright, and the Azure dragons within arose from their catatonia. The Godbeast stumbled in its westward trundle , as the beast's stomach began to quake. Every few moments, a rhythmic shock shook the beast. It began as a dull pain (though if the beast knew enough to care was a different story), and it would only get worse.
~The Elves' Glacier~
The frozen sun ignited, bathing the surrounding area in pale moon-green light. It was a soft and gentle thing, much kinder than the harsh reflections the sun had previously radiated.
The elves took this as a good omen, but it was not upon them that the sun had the profoundest effect. The white dragons, long little more than rage-driven and primal creatures, seemed to calm in the presence of the light. Their scales shone, ice limned their scales, and their eyes gleamed with a predator's cunning.
- 2 AP Create Artifact: The Northern Light -- Sa alters the power of the icy sun. It gives off a soothing green-white light that most sentient beings find soothing and pleasant, despite the sun's utter lack of warmth. White Dragons are actually empowered by this light, and while it does not increase their intelligence or manner, being exposed to enough of it augments their internal organs with a more refined cold, such that they can travel southwards without losing their mind to the thought of Agni "infesting" the warmer climes.
- 1 AP Nourish: Azure Dragons / Alter Artifact -- Azure dragons are likewise empowered when they are close to the Beacon. It gives them energy in a way somewhat akin to photosynthesis, and increases the power of their spitting breath weapon
- 1 AP Command: Azure Dragons -- Azure Dragons, with the aid of the newly augmented Beacon begin to attack the walls and lining of the God Mountain's gullet.
No. This time you will stay, Deciever, for at the moment answers are more important than my hatred of your very presence.
I ask you again, with this other as my witness: What are you doing here, so close to one of my nodes of power when all the other nodes have been tampered with. You know something, and I will know what that is.
Agni's many eyes flared brightly as he moved threateningly towards Seg.
As the black dragons fought among themselves, Morenth watched as first Lucan and then the Orange dragon, who had yet to give them a name, bled upon the Mootstone. Each time, the stone rumbled as it soaked in the blood, then grew quiet.
Morenth turned to Lucan, shouting to be heard over the sounds of clashing scale, claw and tooth.
"I too so promise Lucan. It is clear to me as well that nothing but the Lord of Corruption, Azgo himself, must be behind this. It is our duty to stand against his minions. Cantorix, do you stand with us?"
As they waited for Cantorix to answer, the voice of the orange dragon slid into their minds.
"I guess I'll committ myself and my kin to this fight as well, although we're going to have to come up with something to do about my lack of wings. Makes us less useful, I fear. Name's Paren, by the way."
"Welcome to the mighty Krr, friend Marcus" Krr'Ree'E chittered at the God-man as she led him down the entrance tunnel, carved and widened into the solid rock of the magma field west of the Eternal Volcano. Once they were deep enough, Marcus could see huge slabs of stone suspended overhead, held in place by tiny bits of rock that had yet to be carved away. Krr'Ree'E noted the direction of his attention and said:
"We are not stupid. We understand the dangers of living so close to a volcano of this magnitude. We understand that at least once in the history of the world, this entire area was covered in a flow of lava, so we have taken precautions. If such an eruption were to happen again, either the shaking of the earth itself or dedicated guards of our people would destroy the bits of rock holding up those slabs. They would fall and seal off our nation from the approaching magma. Eventually, we would emerge, once the danger had passed. Ah, here we are."
The Chitrachs and Marcus entered the large cavern that was the core of Krr. Flanking each side of the entrance, tall statues of warrior Chitrachs gazed out into the buzy cavern. In every direction, tunnels snaked off into the darkness as Chitrachs moved about their daily business. A broad path, orantely carved to mimic the look of a rushing river, led from the entrance that Marcus and the Chitrachs stood to a large building at the far end. Krr'Ree'E led Marcus along this path and soon they entered the palace.
Inside, Marcus saw the largest Chitrach he had ever seen, easily five times taller than Krr'Ree'E herself. A chittering sound filled the air as the Queen said:
"Daughter, you return at last. Your suitors were growing restless. I see you have brought back someone for me to meet. Is this one of those meat-bag things that I sent you to meet with?"
Krr'Ree'E waggled back and forth in the manner that meant 'no.'
"This is not one of those, who call themselves humans, Mother. I will speak to you of them more at a later point. This is, instead, an emmisary of one of the Gods."
The Queen blinked a slow blink of surprise before turning her attention to Marcus.
"An emmisary of the Gods themselves? This is quite the surprise. Welcome to Krr. I am Krr'Ree'A, queen of this nation. What business do you have here?"
---Beneath the Southern Mountains-------------------------------------------------------------------------
He remembered the way.
He was more concerned with what he should say than remembering directions. How should he approach him? Thereus was decidely neutral in the "surface" gods' affairs. A decidely foolish mindset for a god, but then again, this was a fool's errand! The odds of success were punishingly slim, but Azgo could not afford to pursue it.
Should he be polite? Dignified? Threatening? Deceptive? Friendly? At that thought he paused. Friendly? Azgo did not have friends... maybe one day. His vaporous body inched through the cracks in the stone, akin to slipping between the wards. He was close.
No. Lay the truth bare. He deserves at least that much...
Azgo gathered himself together, and entered. His voice echoed about the cavern's carved walls, weak and lacking his inherint athority. Like a dream speaking of reality.
"Thereus! From Whom all smiths were scioned! A day long ago I warned you of war and death, that your tools would be ... no longer useful..."
Graveyard. That's what this place had become, a burial ground of unseen glories and powers. The forges were bare, and the corpses of god-forged blades were rotting on the slabs. The ash in the fireplaces had become dust dancing in the ever-dark. Tables had been overturned. The unfinished bodies of dwarven experiments had fallen through the storage vaults, staring at nothing.
The dust scattered in response to an old master's name, fearful of the old ways and old days when dust had no place in this hall.
The godwisp wandered forward following the steps he had taken next to the grand anvil. The shower of sparks had faded, the glow of white metal had darkened, and the hammerfall was gone. An old mark, a stylized mountain, remained hammered unto the anvil. Azgo traced it with his "finger".
He was silent.
The Godwisp wrapped its essence about the forge, and the workplace was consumed in sulferous stench. A sallow light flared, and then vanished with the forge.
Azgo walked silently out of the forge. He doubted that any being would ever step there again.
And then he found himself at the base of the mountains, much darker than it had been before.
Modify Plane (2AP): The Deicidal Taint grows stronger. While Exarchs are heavily affected, the gods are only slightly hindered.
The forge of Thereus is taken back to the Abyss by Azgo for later use.
"Of course, Master Agni, you are always so kind. Your command is my dearest wish. These suns -- power nodes, you called them? -- were entirely ignored for ages, but recently the Beacon vanished. At the same time, several large creatures began running amok. As it is unlikely to be coincidence, it is my duty to help the world as I can. A simple god of healing has no hope of making a difference in a fight against the beasts, but perhaps a lowly one as myself might be able to ensure that no further suns are lost. The world is already dark enough as it is. If I had but known these were yours, I would not have dared to presume. But, alas, as I said, they'd been ignored for as long as I have been alive. I had no way of knowing."
~~~The Eastern Coast~~~
Tsu'misel shambled out of the field of ash, tripping on a dead stalk of a flower. Odd that one would be here, given that he had turned everything else to ash. Even his body felt dry and desiccated.
The godlings paused for a moment and let his flesh melt into a pool of water. THAT was much better. Water, a moving body of water, felt so natural to him. But, unfortunately, it was rather ungainly. Hard to travel from point A to B, it is, unless point A is the source of the river, and point B is somewhere downstream. Much much harder when point B was... somewhere to the west. Which meant, uphill.
A river would never do, no matter how it ran, so Tsu'misel willed himself to evaporate, and took to the sky.
As a cloud emissary, he woozled around the sky. Perhaps gods can get drunk, perhaps not, but his path made it look like it was quite possible. Unfortunately, the godling's head felt cloudy, though he couldn't put his finger on why, and not just because he didn't have fingers at present.
A basic impulse drove him westward, over the crown, until he was hovering over a barren stretch of nothing. The sense of unease grew into dizziness, and Tsu'Misel found himself vomiting water onto the land below, evaporating the cloud he was in.
The rain fell into the base of a large blasted crater, but it didn't land as water. Each drop was like a glop of stone, building on what had come before, pouring down mote by mote, until a giant tower dominated the landscape, and for a moment, that tower WAS Tsu'Misel.
The nausea returned, and the god felt the need to throwup again. Something moved within him, like week old sushi. The tower warbled and gurgled, and a bright orb was passed up through it, from its base, to its top most point. As it came, its heat drove Tsu'Misel out of the tower, back into a humanoid form.
Tsu'misel took a step backwards, to appreciate this accidental work. And he backed right up into something as hard as a diamond.
1AP - Command Land: Create a giant tower in the middle of the Badlands
3AP - Alter Artifact: Tsu'Misel modifies the sun in the badlands. The Forgotten Sun wreaths the continent in a perpetual storm, making it impassible to mundane means (such as ships), and offering resistance to divine powers attempting to cross its boundaries (mainly artifacts). The short of it being, if there was an artifact that allowed scrying, the scrying would get scrambled if it tried to look on the other side of the storm. Or if there were teleportation artifacts, those likely couldn't teleport across the stormwall.
The stormwall itself appears to be quite fearsome. However, those brave enough to venture into it find that it is just an illusion. The real stormwall is hidden inside, and it is much much worse. The illusion is the deception, in this case.
True to his nature, not all was as it seemed within the cloak of another gods form. The infiltration, subtly as it may have been, disturbed the rest of one better left undisturbed.
Still, he was content to remain silent and motionless, decieving this outside power about his awakening while waiting to see what it might be up to. Besides, while he waited, he could get a better understanding ouf how this little creature works.
Tenderly and ever so gently probing, he slipped along, never more than the slightest tickle of a thought in the mind of the controller. A web with four strands. Small, but with great potential to grow. Unless, of course, it were broken. From the center, he silently slipped along to see who else suffered under this creatures control.
At the end of the first, he found a creature who mirrored one of his own deceptions. Concluding the second line, he found a creature od undeath and fear, who's mind reeked of danger, and so he withdrew.
And finally, ending the third thread he sensed a being of earth and strength. One he could bend to task quite easily were he awakened. Reaching out, he slipped into this gods mind, and grew depressed. No wonder such a being of strength had been controlled. The mind slept deeply, and he was certain he would not be able to bring it awake once more.
Slipping back through the threads, he returned to the fourth thread, slinking back into the mind of his own deception, amused by the controllers limited ability to control it with him gone.
Realizing the danger that this outside force has just brought it to, he moved to action. With a thought, he unleashed a jolt of mental energy into the controlling thread, signalling as if he had suddenly awakened.
The energy rushed into the gentle network like a forest fire, certain to cause the offending little slug some pain. Certainly, he could restablish his other links if he wished, but for now, he'd have one hell of a headache and no access to the minds of his minions.
With a jolt, the deception stablizized as its creator restablished his control over it. He stepped back several steps and offered a short bow. "Greetings."
Behind his back, a few droplets of stray watter fell into the dirt, quickly vanishing.
Many miles away from Tsu'misel, a glob of shadows beneath a rocky overhand seemed to shift in the wind. He could control his little deception from here, and not be in any danger should the assembled gods happen to turn violent. After the situation with Azgo, one could not be too cautious, and he had little idea what may have passed as he had slept.
His failed experiment and the meddling of outside forces had shown him that he needed that sleep, to contemplate and study and grow into just what he was capable of. And he had learned much.
Inky tendrils of darkness shot off from the overhand, forming into a vaguely upright form before him. "You understand?"
"Good. You are one of the first of my deceptions. Go forth and see what yoou might encounter."
With out another word, Myrkur off into the south, barely more than a flitting shadow among many.
0 AP - Temporarily disrupt Thoughts mind control network until her revisits them to re-establish it. And free Deception from it entirely.
3 AP - Create Exarch - Myrkur.
1 AP - Create Artifact - Cloak of Shadows
Agni growled at Seg.
Give it up already. We established a long time ago that you were no God of Healing, Seg. Clinging to that falsehood is a very foolish idea at this time. This Object... this Sun, barely provides light as it is. Are you now also going to claim that the TeaLord has died when he stands before you now, still alive? What other lies will you spread?
You appeared just after my last battle with the Behemoth, and you reappear next to one of my posessions now. I find it difficult to accept the coincidence of these events. Explain it to me.
The myraid faces of Agni floated closer, and Seg could feel its hair starting to singe.
Did you know that I can detect lies now? One of the benefits of this form. Choose your words carefully.
But before Seg could answer, globs of stone began to rain from the heavens, and in moments, a tower appeared, and moments after that, with a great rumbling, the Sun appeared at the top of the tower, its light bathing the area. And a figure appeared, bumping into Agni.
What? What did you do? Who are you? Agni asked the newcomer. Why have I never seen you before?
~South of the Chitrach Hive~
A patch of earth, thirty feet across, began to glow red-hot. The heat intensified, forcing nearby animals to shelter. Red hot, blue-hot, white-hot. And the stone began to melt. As Chitrach sentries at the entrance to Krr watched nervously, the sky turned a vibrant red for a moment, then returned to the black of night. Where the stone circle had been was now a smooth bore deep into the earth. And at the bottom, the Elemental Source of Fire roiled and burned.
~South of the Tower in the Badlands~
Another patch of earth, unseen by all mortals and ignored by the Gods, glowed white hot and melted into a new tunnel into the earth.
~The Northwestern Forests~
A conflagration spread from the site of another hold into the earth, the trees turned to ash at the site itself, drifting slowly down the bore to join with the Source below.
3 AP: Create Portals/Command Land: Create three new portals to the Core of the planet/Plane of Fire. These are smooth holes going straight down into the earth with perfectly smooth sides.
I sense big things coming. Lets make sure we have the AP for it.
6 AP: Azgo, Agni, Leaf, TASOE, Zebus, Sa
5 AP: Marcus (Welcome back, Shadow)
"Evil is legion," the ancient saying goes. There is meaning hidden there that is easily overlooked by those who procrastinate.
Whenever you think you've found evil, whenever you think you have it pinned down, whenever you come close and examine it, the less you actually see. For every single spirit of evil, there are countless others. For every one in front of you, there are ten behind.
The god examined the single spirit of evil that had infested the deception, but that spirit was one just of many. If the god had sought to know no more, if it hadn't willingly ventured out into the network of ancient spirits, the others would have likely been unaware as well. Yet as the god passed, it was impossible to not be seen or noticed by at least a few of the many. From the center, the god went to darkness, fear, and stone. The many hadn't thought on these creatures for some time. The experience brought back a sense of nostalgia to them, and for that they were as thankful to the god as evil could be. Which is to say, not insanely homicidal. Still, the past was the past, and the many made no move as the god severed its link with the toys.
Evil is like a weed: cut of the top, but leave the root, and it will grow again.
The slug that had infested Tsu'Misel was removed from control, and so it nestled down and waited. Perhaps it would wait forever. But the seed of evil was there.
"Of course, Master Agni," Seg said. "Surely, it must be as you say and that I am no god of healing. I do wish I had been informed of this. Perhaps you would be so kind to share with one as low as I the evidence you have that brought you to this conclusion? I am sure that a different Seg was the one to teach medicine to mortals. I am sure that it is to a different Seg that doctors pray."
"As for lies, again, it must be as you say. Who am I that I would object to what someone such as you has said? Though I have done nothing but speak to your honestly in this form, though I have done nothing but seek to promote your welfare, surely, if you say it is so, every word I say must be a lie."
"What can I say, then, that will not raise your anger? How may I answer your questions? What explanation can I give? If I speak truth, I am called a liar. If I lie, will I be believed? What is left to me? You are so wise, so all knowing, dare I even insult you by saying that which you must surely already know?"
Seg turned and bowed to Father Thorn. "And to you, Master Bramble, I apologize that we might not have been able to meet in better light. By the decree of Master Agni, it would seem I am a liar and a god of ill-repute. Perhaps it is best if you do not associate with one as I. If Master Agni is to be believed, and I am sure he is, no good can come of it."
The elvish fellow stumbled into Agni, then backed up and bowed. Seg prostrated him before that god as well. "And a greeting to you, great one. I am Seg, the low god, a servant."
~~~Slightly West of the Badlands~~~
Every step was a lifetime of pain.
Every moment was death.
Every instance brought him closer to the betrayer. One of them would die, and Artun barely cared who.
The sudden change to the Midnight Sun dazed the Zizu, forcing it to flee backwards. The sun rose above the glacier and its light was painful.
Flying away was too slow. The Zizu drew darkness around itself, and vanished.
~~~The Great Beyond~~~
Darkness drained away and the Zizu found itself in a new world. One untouched by disaster.
The skies over the gathering of dragons darkened, and an ocean passed overhead. Dragon eyes, keen eyes, eyes used to darkness, were able to pierce it and see the dark shape swimming within.
Father Thorn's spines bristled in irritation. Every needle vibrated, sending a dry rattling into the air. His arm twitched as he wanted to backhand Agni, but, though he regretted it even as he did it, Thorn held himself back from violence. "Father Thorn, Master Bramble, or Supreme LifeLord. Those are your three options, FireBringer, no others."
The primal spirits returned, and informed Father Thorn of what they had found. He said to the others, "Pruinus is missing. Explain, FireFinder, how it is that you've allowed your sister to go missing. And Leaf had held you in such high esteem."
Eyes as dark as blackberries fixed upon Seg. "You saw Lord Leaf die?"
Thorn spared a glance to the newcomer god. "I am Father Thorn, the stormbringer. Who are you to come in cloud and rain?"
-The Dragon Moot-
It smiled at the dragons. His kind had faded from the sight of mortal ages ago, but they were still around. Watching. Protecting as they could. The fall of the godcrater had scattered his people, and neither It nor Other-It knew where the rest of their kind had gone. Perhaps they had faded even from their own sight.
Then the sky overhead darkened, and It reached up to ensure that its mask was well secured. It felt smooth and cool to the touch. It was ready for whatever would come.
Are we forgetting, Seg? You came before me claiming to be the TeaLord himself, stumbling and bumbling over things known to both him and I.
Are we forgetting as well when you approached the ColdMother? Where you admitted that you were not the TeaLord, but that the TeaLord had died? The... Father Thorn... is evidence otherwise.
Are we forgetting how you then tried to turn her against me, only to see your pathetic need to be liked cause all of us to cast you out?
Your protestations are as the collapsing of dried branches on a flame. Flashy, Loud, but of no lasting substance.
I ask again. Why are you here, and what do you know of the beasts that roam the land. You too, stranger.
He offered the slightest of nods of his head. "Tsu'misel, lord of wind and water, at your service, so to speak. And who might this be that I have stumbled upon?"
A number of Agni's faces frowned.
Curious. I met a Goddess of Wind and Water not too long ago, but her name was not Tsu'misel. Do you have a sister, Stormmaker?
He grinned to himself far away as he tugged at Tsu'misel's strings.
"A sister? No I cannot say I do. But then, need there be only a single master of such a powerful and abundant resource. Water is everwhere, from the oceans below to the air above. I need not be the only lord of water, just as this goddess you met need not be the only mistress of it."
The frowns deepened.
This is not the way that the rest of the Gods are divided, but... This is a possibility that I must consider, given recent events.
A few faces grinned.
I am the FlameLord, Agni. Here we have Father Thorn and Seg, the Liar.
The aged elf's eyes twinkled. "Seg the Liar, eh? He does not look like much of a liar to me. Now Father Thorn certainly looks the part. My greetings, to you both."
He offered only the slightest of bows and offered a shining smile. "I would offer more, but my old back doesn't allow that anymore. Time has not been a pleasant companion. Anyhow, my apolgies once more for my interruption, but might I ask just what I have stumbled into and interrupted?"
Agni's many eyes looked at the old elf-God appraisingly.
It was an interrogation. I was asking what Seg was doing so close to my property. The crystaline God rotated briefly to indicate the sun burning above the tower. Especially given the fact that my suns are being manipulated by others for purposes I do not understand.
I would ask you the same question, StormLord. This tower appeared moments before you came into our midst. Are the two related?
"In away, one could say that. I slept until recently. I awoke to find a strange creature had infected my body. It brought me here and created this tower, which awoke me. At which point I purified the parasite and found myself here before you as you see me."
Agni's eyes glowed.
Infected by a strange creature? A God? Do you have any knowledge of the nature of this parasite? Its interest in my posession at the time that the others are being modified seems to be more than mere coincidence. What more can you tell me about this parasite? Anything at all?
Edited my post slightly to make Thron's accusations less definitive.
"Leaf is dead," Father Thorn reminded Agni.
Thorn turned to Tsu'Misel. It was insult enough that this god took the form of one of Thorn's creations. That insult was furthered by this Misel-man claiming control over Thorn's domain. And Misel dared imply that Thorn was the liar? Law, nature, and order demanded that this Tsu'Misel thing die where it stood. But Agni was too interested in the creature's words. The FireFinder would interfer with justice, and though Agni deserved a good scourging, now was not the time.
Clearly, this new god was of the worst sort.
The plant-god paused. Agni was too interested... what were the odds that Agni's answered would come so readily. All roses had thorns, all honey had bees, all births had pain. What ill did this god's sweetness hide? "You're knowledge is convenient, claimant to storms. It is truly a stroke of good fortune that you, he who has answers, happened to be brought before Agni, he who has questions, by the very being that, if this situation is true, would seem to want to keep you apart."
Thorn's leaves rustled as air was drawn into his body, like he was sniffing the air. There was a pause, but then the god spat and air rushed out of his body, causing wood to creak and thorns to bristle. This new god smelled wrong. Probably a liar and a thief, in Thorn's estimation.
"I am storm incarnate, but I smell neither ozone nor petrichor on you. Why? And I am life also. Agni smells of life. He smells of fire crackling over a hearth, of flames dancing, of vaporize stone, of heat shimmering. Seg lives also, he has the smell of growing indignity and supressed pride. But you? I smell nothing. It is as if life is absent in you. Why? And-"
For a moment there was only the sound of more air being drawn into Thorn's body. "And there is another nearby. One who smells of burnt flesh and revenge."
He turned to look for this creature.
After Agni's latest tongue-lashing, Seg bowed yet again and said, "As you say, greatest master Agni. I am a worm."
The new-comer told its story. It was a lie, of course. Seg didn't know the details, but he did know that no one escaped the master. Once the taint of evil was there, it remained.
"Is that the kind of tale that Master Agni wishes to hear instead of the truth?" the worm of a god asked. "Then I beg of you, allow me to please your ears, master Agni. I was infected by such a strange creature, and it brought me here. But as you know, I am a worm and could not expel it. Oh master Agni, forgive me, for I am a servant of a dark god. Its plan is to collect all the creations and artifacts that other gods created and then didn't care enough to tend to. It will make a hall to put these things on display, and it will charge the gods money to stroll through that hall and look at these artifacts of ancient days. And there will be a food court. Oh, Agni, forgive me for the food courts! It is a horror beyond horrors. It will sell cheap, undercooked meats and soggy vegetables for more than they are worth! Please, forgive me, for I serve Curatorious, the Dark Lord of Museums."
Seg threw himself on the ground and sobbed.
"I offer only that knowledge which was asked of me. Nothing more, nothing less. And I lay no claim upon storms either, Father Bramble. Only upon the winds and the waters of this realm, and then only in part, as another seems to have claim upon the waters as well."
He closed his eyes for a moment. "Why is the scent of life absent from me? That I do not know, lest it be due to my recent reawakening, and the control that was held over my body."
Offering a smile with a twinkle in his eyes, he offered another slight bow. "Have I done something to offend you, Father Bramble? You seem most hostile towards me."
Turning towards Seg, he eyebrows turned up in disdain. "Such a pitiful creature. To prostrate himself such, he seems to be taking on that attributes to which you attributed him, Agni. Forgive my doubting you."
---At the Base of the Southern Mountains---------------------------------------------------------------
The godwisp climbed the nearest mountain peak and settled upon its top. The rough, enduring bramble and gnarled trees that had survived here for ages at last fell under the miasma. They cracked with age and blight and tumbled down the sides. Even through the haze of his wizened form, he could feel something amiss. The sky was unnaturally dark... again. And new fires kindled in the depths of the heavens like pearls in stagnant waters. Had someone destroyed the sun?!
No. He would have heard it in the prayers, felt its rumble in the Abyss. Then it had been stolen, or something else entirerly. And why were there these new fires?
And then he recognized it. The likeness and symbols of his siblings cast up into the skies... A sudden spike of wrath drew up in him, giving a tinge of solidity to his essence. Thunderous curses peeled over the valley below.
"Is the very earth not enough of a trophey for you? Must you own the skies and the waters and the very sun?! Must your names be carved on the insides of every mortal's eyelid?! DOES YOUR PRIDE HAVE NO BOUNDS?!"
It was disgusting to see them fall so far. So... enraptured in their falsified glory. He had been here long enough, and this sudden darkness would need investigation. The wisp vanished into the Abyss, leaving a bald mountain behind.
He slipped through the wards once more, feeling the burden of hardened flesh and weighty blood upon his soul. It was constant rebirth, the formation of the organic and the pain. The pain indeed...
Azgo wandered through the first layer, through the darkness of the caverns and its familiar chill. Souls scattered at his heels and the few craterspawn flocked to his return. Eventually a large, black ice wall loomed even over his head. Icicles thick as trees protruded from the cavern's roof. Azgo paused, watching the slick water coating dribble down like sweat. This was it.
Azgo walked forward unfazed as the glacial, horrid ice grabbed hold of his body. All around him the wicked grasp of Pruinus tore at his skin and froze the surface sweat. The cold seeped into the spaces around his eyes, and crawled deep into his skull and down into his spine. Nerves and vessels popped and froze over in black, clotting blood in thousands of blockages. And there, in his merged, crooked chest that ice found a colder, bitter place and could not besiege it. His heart continued to beat, forcing pressured blood to break open the veins and arteries into new passages.
And then he was on the other side. A large hall of stone, chilled to the very bones of the rockbed. There were no entrances and no exits, only a curtain of ice about the walls. A tattered forge and workshop lay ruined at its center. The ashes cold, the steel warped and tarnished, the anvil coated with dust.
Azgo reached out, and breathed the heat of his tissue into the forge, which flared to dire, sickened life.
Create Artifact (3AP): The Forge of Thereus is strong and kindled with new flame. Artifacts forged upon its power carry the tint of Thereus' craftsmenship and mettle.
Modify Plane (2AP): The Deicidal taint is festering now at 6 AP.
AP Remaining: 1
Agni began speaking from multiple mouthes at once in a variety of languages, groups of mouthes addressing either Seg, Thorn or Tsu'Misel at once.
To Seg, in a lilting language made of pure tonality: Oh, Get up. This groveling is beneath a God, even one I despise. However, I find it curious that you are trying so strenuously to deny the validity of this one's claim... making up such a ridiculous story to make me doubt him as well. A direct question, Seg, and recall that I can tell if you are lying to me. Do you know of this dark power?
To Thorn, in the chittering language of the Chitrachs:
We shall see. Let me know when the Betrayer arrives... that description sounds like him.
To the newcomer, in the language of the humans:
You didn't answer my question.
~The Mangrove Tree~
The Zizu's departure had done more than simply mutilate the tree. It had rent the halfling psyche. It was a time of trouble - resources were scarce, but the haflings, rather than banding together and sharing their resources, overcoming the adversity with a unified solidarity, splintered into avaricious factions, jealously guarding what resources they could hold, and shunning those less fortunate than themselves.
But all blame could not be laid on the Halflings alone -- in the wake of the Zizu, a Shroud of Umbrage descended upon the Mangrove Tree. This Shroud was filled with tall, thin, faceless abominations that appeared to be cloaked in long cloaks of inky darkness (when they deigned to be noticed). They were the Scorn, an imperious brood that fed of the emotions of greed and loathing their mere presence engendered.
The halflings, for their part, did not know of the danger posed by the Shroud, and though a few of their number noticed the occasional looming stranger, there was no one to make the connection between the Scorn's arrival, and the cultural fissure that had beset their society.
The Godmountain too wrought psychic damage as it trudged, and in addition to the scourged land and bodily destruction, the Nix suffered, and their suffering weakened the realm enough to invoke a Shroud. This Shroud was filled with the Carnage, a hulking, brutish Umbrage that thrived on war and spilled blood. Its very presence drove the weakest willed of the Nix into a xenocidal bloodthirst, and the 6 tribes soon found themselves at war for slights both real and imagined.
Already crammed beyond capacity, the Azer of Sil Arkosh
The Umbrage is filled with dozens of broods of all strengths and intellects. But the Dissidents who slunk into
-1 AP Command - The Nix begin a bloody civil war, goaded by Carnages and Antiphons
-1 AP Harm - The Halflings of the Mangrove Tree become fractious and cruel, subtly influenced by a shroud of Scorn.
-1 AP Harm - Beset by Dissidents, the Azer of Sil Arkosh, already weak from the Leviathan's invasion, begin to lose all shape of their government beneath a series of riots and protestations.
Morenth looked up as the Leviathan passed overhead, and a sense of revulsion ran through her entire being.
"Look! It is one of the Monsterous Ones! Kin to the one that left our kinsman alone among his Color. If the Behemoth can take away his family, let us destroy this monster in retaliation!"
With a roar, Morenth jumped straight up into the air, turned, and dove for the Leviathan, belching a wave of fire that preceeded her...
I have more battle scenes prepared, but wanted to give Raven, Forgotten and (maybe) Thought a chance to join in before I did anything... exciting
Cantorix eyed Morenth strangely.
Cantorix had spent the majority of his life alone. Only himself and the craterspawn, the legions of craterspawn. A bond felt strange, alien...
And then the mammoth god-creature "swam" passed the Mootstone. It was borne aloft by a floating sea or murky darkness and swirling current. But even masked by the sea the creature's outline was distinct as faint moonlight fell upon the peak.
The dragons below were as tense as a coiled spring, ready to snap with loyal fevor. Ancient strengths and memories of battles won and lost flowed in their minds as they watched the strongest foe they or any of their ancestors had faced. The energy tightened.
They were ready to battle. And they were ready to flee. The decision fell on the edge of a knife, teetering without dfirection.
And then Morenth charged at the unapproachable abomination. The knife wavered, then tipped at the sight of her courage.
There was no concious decision, no rallying cry, little direction. Cantorix seized up, gripped tight with fear and the desire to be mindless once more.
Cantorix allowed his fear to spread throughout the whole of his body, and embraced it and the terror that came with it. With Cantorix, hundreds of veteran dragons took to the air in a swarm of acid vapors and thick fangs.
He turned back to Agni. "My apologies, flame lord, but no, I have no information beyond what I shared when first you asked. If I did, I would of course have shared it."
Truly nothing? Anything would be helpful, even if you find it unimportant.
The dragons attacked the Leviathan, Morenth leading the charges and blasting fire at the beast, who rolled and lashed out with living water at the dragons who swarmed like gnats around the beast. And like gnats, they were little more than nuisances to their significantly larger foe. Morenth's flames sizzled out in the lake's-worth of water surrounding the Leviathan, and the acid of the Black dragons was diffused to uselessness.
Draw it downward! Paren shouted from below.
"What, you want us to make it land so you can swim in it?" Morenth shouted back.
No. Just get it closer!
"Fine!" Morenth snapped, ducking under a flailing rope of water that caught two other dragons and sent them tumbling down towards the earth.
Morenth briefly considered turning towards the open sky and dive-bombing the Leviathan to drive it lower, but knew that her attack would simply be ignored. Something more daring was necessary.
Morenth stoked her internal flames and began to belch out a flashy show of pyrotechnics as she flew in circles in front of the Leviathan's face. For a long, long moment, Morenth worried that even this would not be enough.
Then, the Leviathan noticed. Living waves of water lashed out to catch the bright red thing that ducked and weaved around the dragon-killing waters. Morenth cursed in the name of every God she knew, and some she made up in the moment, feeling the spray of water as she dropped like a stone to avoid a wall of water rushing towards her. The Leviathan turned, ignoring the other dragons for the moment as it sought to destroy the brighter one. Morenth briefly saw Cantorix out of the corner of her eye as she darted past, tentacles of water close behind her. Before her loomed the trapped fire that she and Paren had created together
Just a little closer, Morenth. Come on. Wait... There! Get out of the way! Paren shouted.
Morenth twisted and dove to the right as the fire burst free, breaking through the obsidian barriers and slamming into the Leviathan, who roared in shock as the fire boiled away portions of its protective covering. Below, Paren glowed with the power of the Source as he drew opened a small portal in the sky to the Source of Fire and drew forth more and hotter flames. More and more water turned to steam under the assault, but the Leviathan began to move away. Morenth tumbled to the ground near Paren, breathing heavily and trying to recover from her intense game of cat and mouse. Paren grunted in pain and wove more fire at the monster, eyes glowing with inner fire and mouth open and drooling out magma into the MootLake. But it was clear to Morenth that Paren was not going to burn away even half of the lake surrounding the Leviathan before it was out of range.
NO! Paren shouted. Agni, help me!
A scream of pain shook the lake, sending ripples across the water as Paren ripped open a dragon-sized hole to the Source of Fire, pulling through a blindingly white ball of Pure Fire as fire raced under the scales of the orange dragon. Paren opened his mouth, and magma rocketed forth, followed by a blast of fire that would have put anything that Morenth could do to shame. With obvious effort, Paren drew the magma upwards and wrapped it around the Pure Fire, hardening it to Obsidian and forming a dark black ball.
Paren caught Morenth's eye.
good... bye. He whispered, then, with a mighty roar, he drove the encapsulated ball of Pure Fire at the Leviathan. As the ball flew into the protective lake, Paren's body was immolated, combusting from within and turning to ash. As he died, the portal to the Source of Fire dwindled and winked out of existence.
As I mentioned earlier, Thought, I have two thoughts of what could happen with this. Either a) This burns off the Lake and you release the Sun in retaliation, or b) this thing is SUPER EFFECTIVE and blasts a hole in the side of the Leviathan such that Morenth and Co can get inside and rip apart the Leviathan from within... as was your idea at one point. The sun more or less slips out. Either is fine by me and I leave the choice to you.
3 AP: Ascend Exarch: Paren becomes an Exarch of Agni. (going to happen in a few posts, but this is the moment of transformation, so I'm going to spend the AP now.
3 AP remain.
~~~ Thereus's Workshop~~~
For a moment the cavern where Azgo was filled with the screech of ice moving against ice. That faded quickly, though, to reveal the echo of a different, deeper noise, a noise that had made the earth groan and the caves buckle.
Some unmentionable thing must have happened overhead.
~~~The Southern Mountains~~~
The Behemoth stumbled and fell into the side of an ancient, crag filled mountain. There had been trees on its slope, but as the monster approached, those had been turned to blackened sticks. The snow from its peak melted, then evaporated, then was gone. There was a crack as the mountain was dislodged, then a long, drawn out scrape that melded with the monster's own bellow. The mountain was dislodged from its roots and forced off its base.
Great beads of oil, each the size of a god, rolled off the behemoth's back like sweat, splashing to the ground, burning life and melting stone.
As for as the external eye could see, there was nothing to cause it such distress. Yet it was clearly under some assault, and had been driven by unseen forces south.
~~~Inside the Behemoth~~~
The azure dragons proved that divine creatures could have heart burn. There attacks ate away at the Behemoth's innards, opening up great gulfs of smoke and lifeless flesh.
As the dragons swarmed over the Beacon, the Behemoth's connection to the orb was weakened. It could draw less power, and with less heat it's form lost its rigidity. As on the outside beats of oil fell, so too inside. Or so it appeared at first.
In the Beacon light, a drop of ill fell from a recent wound, but paused in midair. Dragon wings reached out, and horns, and claws and teeth and snout, but the resemblance to the lizards ended there. The creature that emerged looked more like a dragon that had been turned into a man, a very very large man, then flayed and given life again. A great mane of matted fur grew out of its head and trailed down its back. Where its eyes should have been, there was black holes. Yet the creature stretched, and within those holes a spark came to life, then blazed, until it seemed that the creature itself held a portal within itself to the plane of fire.
Other balor formed, and sought to end the indigestion of the god.
3AP Create Balor
~~~The Dragon Moot~~~
Fire met water. The lake that surrounded the leviathan was vaporized, and the subsequent explosion pounded many dragons from the sky and bashed them against the ground. For the Leviathan's part, it's once purple-black skin was turned a bright red, and countless blisters swelled along its form. Dead skin, dislodged by the pus, slid to the ground below.
The leviathan tried to scream in pain, but its water was gone, and it only produced a too-high pitched squeal.
Above the battle, the steam battled two natures. The taint of the godbeast was still with it, trying to cool it, but the heat from the blast was unyielding. A great cloud formed in the sky, stretching as far as the eye could see, dark and evil. The two forces clashed, and lighting darted down to the ground. The leviathan was in the way. The lightning didn't care, but rent a whole through the beast's flesh, and hit two dragons on its way.
More lightning followed, hitting the leviathan and dragons alike. The beast bellowed its blip of a scream and lost control. A hundred bursts of fire, long surprised, found their way out into the world through a hundred wounds in the beast. The leviathan opened its mouth at the last moment and tried to direct the destruction, but it only served to burn away its face.
Lacking a sea to swim through, and on the verge of death, the Leviathan fell from the sky. Gravity took its revenge for being defied, and it pulled the creature down too swiftly. The leviathan crushed fistfuls of dragons as it plummeted.
The earth rang as the leviathan landed on the moonstone. The creature thrashed for a moment, then was still.
The remaining dragons looked down at the beast. It was still.
Its skin, however, was not. Its skin still swelled with boils from the scalding blast. The boils began to writhe and wiggle with life of their own, and then they began to pop.
A black dragon's head thrust its way out of one blister. That was followed by six legs, two prehensile tails, and a hunger for flesh. The gloomweb turned and shot globs of webbing into the sky, hoping to bring down a meal.
The creature succeeded, but before it could pounce on its prey, another blister burst. A stunted red dragon emerged, wingless, but stout and dense. The firebelcher rushed on trapped dragon and began to feast.
Other blisters popped, and dozens more dragonspawn crawled out.
"1AP" Harm: Releasing Agni's old fiery blast. The harm's split between the dragons and the leviathan (although really, I'd expect this to be an uneven split)
3AP create dragonspawn
The sun's still inside the leviathan, and still has its dragon charge. The dragonspawn aren't made from it.
Out of curiosity, does anyone have an idea for a good end to the leviathan? I suppose we could just ignore the artifact and say it's dead, or it could get imprisoned, or the dragons could tear it apart and hide the pieces, or something else. Thoughts? And by thoughts, really, anything goes, so don't feel like you have to run it by me before doing it
Seg paused. That was the nicest Agni had ever been to him. It still wasn't exactly nice, but for a moment Seg had doubts.
Father Thorn barely had time to shout, though, before Artun was upon them. Seg felt a boney foot kick him aside. He rolled on the ground, and when he managed to look up, he all he saw was violence.
"AGNI!" Artun shouted. It was a bloody noise, raw like that one word had been yelled to the heavens for countless years, wearing away the shouter's throat, sanding away its tongue. Bits of burnt flesh splattered against the fire-god's diamond body. "BETRAYER!"
The still-illusioned god didn't appear to Seg to be hurt, but Artun pounded fists against Agni's form and each blow left a black smear of ichor, like burnt grease, in the shape of a closed hand. Each blow likely hurt Artun far more than it did Agni, but the exarch was mad beyond pain.
The blows likely would have damaged Agni's old form, but Diamond is the hardest of all rocks, and God-Diamond, forged in the center of a supernova is harder still. The pounding of Artun on his body was barely felt, but it was annoying. Agni prepared to blast away He-who-had-betrayed-Him with a superheated bolt from the Source of Fire, when a thought wormed its way into his head.
What if Tsu'Misel was not the first?
It was an unsettling thought, but it forced Agni, still being rocked by the punches of Artun, to think back. It was true that Artun had led him to the Cave of the Behemoth, and had been the one to get him trapped. But he had also apologized and seemed to come to a sudden change of heart in the moments after it had been too late. He had fled, yes, but what if he had gone for help as Agni had ordered? It was true that he had found Artun battered and unconcious after the battle. Had he been there to help him? None of the others had reported fighting him.
Oh... Artun. Agni breathed, looking at the burned, scarred and bleeding figure as it struck him with heart-shattered frustration and desparation. I fear I have made a terrible mistake.
Command Land (1AP): The Exile Cliffs are formed on the east side of the first island. They are as imposing as they are tall, and only a few passages wide enough for ships allow travel further inland.
Zebus heard the calling. Instead of showing up himself though, another appeared. Standing in front of Ka'Vah, Marcus blocks his path. "You will stop this destruction. He heard your call and refuses it. If you wish to go see him directly, there is a portal right there" Points over the worst of the carnage. "You might not like what you see though or the answers you might get. Now if you don't mind I have other matters to attend to."
~Far side of the new Continent~
The earth heaved and shook, but nothing was there to observe it. A white-hot glow colored the sky as the ground melted away into a deep, smooth-lined pit. Heat wafted from the depths, but unlike the other portals to the Source of Flame, this one had something waiting to emerge, something red and molten that filled the entirety of the tunnel. Magma sloughed it way over the edge of the pit, reaching out and grasping with pseudopods of molten stone as it sought grips to pull itself further out of the earth. Finally, it gripped a crack in the stone and pulled, and the rest of the thing slid out of the portal, skin cooling to a dark ochre-red and becoming leathery instead of molten. Behind it, the walls of the portal collapsed and fused together, leaving nothing more than a small divot in the stone ground. The pseudopods of magma retracted into the forming mouth of the creature, which remained hot and molten as series of diamond-encrusted teeth emerged from the rim of the worm-like creature. Finally, with a keening cry that shook the heavens, the Sun Worm reared upwards and burrowed into the stone earth, eating away stone in front of it and leaving a combination of sand and glass in its wake as it tunneled.
Morenth watched as the ash that had been Paren drifted away on the wind to the west for a long moment, ignoring the carnage happening above her. When finally she looked up, she began to scramble out of the way as the Leviathan fell from the sky and impaled itself on the Mootstone. Morenth hopped into the sky, shoulder muscles crying out in pain as she worked her exausted wings furiously to gain altitude. Thanfully, she made it far enough away such that the Dragonspawn, when they emerged, were unable to reach her. Flying up next to Cantorix and Lucan, she panted out.
"We need to regroup."
3 AP : Spawn Beast: Sun Worm. Think a sandworm from Dune, but with less Spice and more... molten core and turning things to glass/desert slowly over time.
Ugh. Late night. Reset.
Lets say... 6 AP to anyone who posted last week, 4 to anyone who didn't.
Map: No changes. Will update when... there is something to update!
The Behemoth and Leviathan, victorious, leave behind red suns at the Eternal Volcano and Frozen Lake as the Zizu starts to head north to the Midnight Sun. Artun leaves the north, heading south to find Agni and finish their fight. In the darkness of the Abyss, Azgo begins to rebuild his army of Craterspawn, while also stealing the forge of Thereus from the Prime and moving it into the Abyss.
Agni, Thorn and Ka'Vah debate briefly over whether or not retreat from the Behemoth was warranted. Agni eventually takes charge and sends Ka'Vah to find Zebus or Azgo, while he signals for Pruinus by creating the stars and then goes east to where one of the only two untouched suns are, finding Seg standing over it. Thorn follows soon after creating Spring, also to get Pruinus' attention. While they are confronting Seg, Tsu'Misel, mind-controlled by TASOE forms a strange tower over the badlands sun, drawing it out like pus from a wound until it shines above the surface of the earth once more. At this time, Tsu'Misel breaks free of the mind-control.
Morenth swears a blood-oath to the Black dragons, and the Dragons discover that the Mootstone can be attuned to any type of dragon. This causes the Black dragons to break into two factions, a very large one that welcomes the new dragons as kin, and a smaller one that violently opposes it.
Lucan swears an oath to avenge his kin, and Sa hears the promise and honors it, pushing magic into the suns and calming the white dragons and reviving the azure dragons within the gullet of the Behemoth. They begin to cause... indigestion.
The dragons rise to the skies to fight the Leviathan, who destroys many of the black dragons in its counterattacks. The Dragons are sorely pressed to fight the Leviathan, unable to break through the shield of water that surrounded the beast, until Paren, the Orange Dragon, weaving the power of Pyromancy, rips open a portal to the Source of Fire and pulls through a ball of Plasma, wraps it in a ball of Obsidian and sends it flying into the Leviathan at blindingly powerful speeds. This overexertion kills Paren on the spot, but does massive damage to the Leviathan, boiling away the water, which causes the Leviathan to fall from the heavens and causes the long-supressed explosion of fire from Agni's long-ago attempts to cleanse the world to be released, doing most of its damage to the Leviathan, but also burning a number of the dragons still in the air. The Leviathan impales itself on the Mootstone, and as a final defense mechanism, the mortally injured beast spawns dragonspawn, which begin to attack the Dragons.
Elsewhere, the Behemoth begins to stumble and falter under the constant internal assault of the Azure Dragons. It forms Balors to fight the Azure dragons.
The beings from the Umbrage cause strife across the world:
The Nix begin a bloody Civil War
The Halflings become fractious and cruel
The Azer begin to lose all semblance of government.
Agni asks if Tsu'Misel is related to Leni, and is surprised to find out that they are not. He begins to question both Seg and Tsu'Misel over their possible involvement in the poisoning of the suns.
Artun attacks Agni, but is mostly ineffective against the God's new diamond form. Surprisingly, Agni feels pity for the God, wondering if he had made a mistake all those years ago.
Father Thorn answered Tsu'Misel with the rattling of his nettles. "Don't approach the briar if you don't wished to be pricked."
The smell of burnt flesh waxed, and by instinct Thorn summoned the scent of rose blossoms to prevent the stench from overwhelming. Mixed in with the burnt flesh was festering wounds and decaying liquids. The life-god tried to call out to Agni a warning, but the creature attacked swiftly.
Thorn stepped back, his mind confused at what he saw, for what he loved most of all was rigid order. To see such an abstract concept made physically manifest was discomforting. There was a lurch in the pit of his being, like a hook had been inserted into him and tried to pull him towards the creature.
A small part of the god's mind warned him that what he saw could not be real: how could an abstract concept exist like that? This same part pointed out that the beautifully ordered thing was attacking Agni. Order didn't behave so chaotically.
Three needles, each two feet long and as thick as a wrist at their base, shout out from Thorn and hit the creature, trying to knock it off Agni. Each struck true, but the monster didn't seem to care. It wasn't even clear if it had noticed. But life begets life. The thorns grew vines that reached to the earth, dug in, and grew thick. The plants turned thick and tried to pull the mad creature off of Agni.
-The Mangrove Tree-
A ship sailed off from the Mangrove tree, and headed towards the nearest coast. The ship had been painted black with pitch, and flew a flag that was embroidered with a bloody talon. Those living on the coast had never seen the likes of it before. Then the ship landed, and the halflings flooded off, killing and stealing as they went. The town was left as nothing more than a burnt husk.
1AP Command Halflings: In response to their increases avarice and greed, many halflings start turning to piracy.
"What is your name?" a voice called out to Ka'Vah. The exarch turned to see a simple orc. There was a scar on its side, and a lopsidedness to its ribcage. A large hound stood next to him, wisps of flames coming out of its mouth with every breath. And in his hands the orc held a mithril warhammer, the symbol of Angi glowing fiercely upon it.
"I would know it," the orc said, "so when I tell my grandchildren that I killed the god who brought sickness and death to our people, I can tell them the name of that god."
No, I don't expect a simple mortal (named Urk) with a puny 1AP artifact to stand up to an exarch, but the puny mortal expects it. He's been blessed by Agni, after all. Surely the gods are on his side. I'll leave it to you, Forgotten, to disillusion him of this.
---The Western Continent---------------
How long had it been since they had first heard the sand bend beneath the hulls of rickety boats? How many seasons had looked over the seas of grain on the lands and fish beneath the cliffs? How wizened and illegible were those old graves weeped with the taste of sea salt and the promise of a god?
Years. Many years of peace, and construction.
Buit into the towering sides of the Exile Cliffs, a new section of city walls gave ordered form to nature's edge. Butresses, towers, citadels and outposts lined the winding crags and kept a generation's vigil over the edge of the sea, waiting for the day their persecutors would return. In the daylight, the granite shone with crafter's kiss. In the moonlight, the warm reach of fire passed over the amber sands.
Heartwood galleons, of smooth oaken skins, patrolled the waters and the passes between the cliffs. The stony islands almost saluted at their passing, and the waves bowed and scattered before the banners hoisted high into the tumultuous sea-breeze. Carving of mythical craterspawn decorated the ship bows, timber wings soft as feathers and the lantern eyes beneath the skull glowed with that storied hunger.
And behind the comforting embrace of the cliff walls, a sprawling city rose up, almost naturally-fatefully some might say- from the rockbed of the continent. The avenues were wide, the markets brimming with good-natured chatter, and in the shadows of the alleyways inquisitors watched for the treacherous and the unfaithful. Occassionaly men and women would dissappear. Lost at sea, they said. Lost at sea... but that was a rarity, for the good majority of the peoples were zealous in the praise of Azgo, the True King. They laughed at the invented mistakes of the Firstborn gods of old, cried at the embellishment of Azgo's wrongful sickness and imprisonment, and they extolled in the virtues of the Wounded One that had pitied their fathers and forefathers in the face of adversity. As he had pitied them, they pitied others and as he was wrathful towards the wicked, so they too disdained the Firstborn vices: misplaced loyalty, bloodlust, greed, and pride. But above all else, they could not stand betrayal...
And just beneath the walls, on a lonely hill of its own, a great palace-cathedral stood alert and lively beneath the sun. Throughought all of hours of its waking, billows of sugary incense rose and paraded down the streets and unto the harbors where it was carried off into the bitter sea winds. A great throne rested within that palace, surrounded at all corners with the blazing braziers of incense. The smoke curtained the figure behind it, bestowing an air of mysterious distance between mortals and the immortal. And it was good that this curtain was constantly drawn, for the people would have been sickened... and horrified to see what lay enthroned upon their fathers' refuge.
A pulsing, snaggled heap of flesh, close in resemblence to a man but without appendages was bonded to the throne, drawing fuzzy indistinct lines between the granite and the flesh. The eyes were bulging and blinded with disease, and the mouth always heaving with pus-clogged breath. The skin was sallow, and pale, and covered in sweat from liquids never swallowed. But such was the price of the King of the City of High Ithrol. Pain, in exchange for wisdom. Sickness, in exchange for longevity. They suffered, so that their people might not, and in doing so, understood the pain of the righteouss Wounded One more thabn any other.
Hail! Hail the City of High Ithol! Hail the King and his blessed rule!
Hail Azgo the Blood Crowned and True King of Creation!!
Command Populace (3AP): The grand capitol of High Ithol is founded on the Exile Cliffs. It is a fortress-city in and of itself, and both the study of martail disciplines and the sea-faring ways are widespread. The people are hardy and filled with zeal, and try to live honorably. The spearpoint of Azgo's cult is centered here, and this may become the center of the West.
He seemed almost a corpse, still as he was. There was breath, and the blood was motionless, free-floating, in the pools of mangled flesh beneath the skin. And an intense cold radiated from the core of the body, but not a cold of the flesh that wrinkles skin. No, it was the deeep cold of the ether and it carried an uneasy peace about it. The calm before a storm, during a storm. Even the statue in the Halls of Creation seemed more lifelike than this limp abomination slouching upon the throne of the Abyssal Depths.
And then the throne shuddered. A violent, determined shudder that rippled out into the layers and caused mortal souls to lose their footing. Azgo's eyes opened. And then it was as if he had just been born with a flurry of rattled life. The body, coiled as a spring, rose from the throne and stepped gracefully down the steps.
He had been meditating, thinking deep within the only place he found solace: the fleeting moments before his... transformation. They were hazy, and so far distant that they seemed to be agreed-upon dreams rather than history. He was meditating more often now, a week here, a year here, and a few decades inbetween. He had been too rash before, too eager. He couldn't afford that foolish luxury any more. it was the duty of a king to think, not to wildly follow the footfalls of promised glories. He couldn't lose...
He had been thinking, not resting. Thinking about what he had seen and what should be done. And the prayers!! How many prayers, he constantly felt the flow of words tumbling over one another over the sharp edges of the wards. He could ignore them if he wanted to. And most of them needed little answering. But a strange... phenomenon had occured recently. Words from the mouths of elves, countless elves of the North, had risen over only a few generations. They used his name in blessings and in curses, beneath their breath and in loud chouting. His name was everywhere...
There were hardly ever prayers, no incantations, no lengthy praises. In fact, he was almost never directly adressed in private. What a strange dicotomy. He had welcomed the praises in his sleep, and sent visions and decrees to the well-spoken and the talented. And still... Something was wrong. Azgo had his suspicions, but he had to be sure. And there were many things he needed to do. So he had devised a simple plan.
Azgo continued to walk through the halls of Guvarah An, up the legions of stairsteps and subverted balconies. The calls of Craterspawn, not deeper and... fleshier than before could be heard clearly through the mists. At last Azgo arrived at the peak of the tallest spire. If he but only strecthed his arm he could feel the wall of churning water above him. The mists were strong here, blowing fiercly about but never disappating.
Azgo reached out into the mists which bent and flowed like a harp's chorus beneath his rugged fingers. He could feel the entangled mesh of life strewn about across the planet, each piece indefinetly intertwined with another. Azgo took a deep breath.
And through the countless vapor particles swirling about together in pain and the sheer vitality of life, Azgo selected a singular grain. One little piece among hundreds of thousands that was a mere hairsbreadth away from a thousand others. But this one... this one had potential... and pain-great pain.
This one would be it. Azgo released his breath through the mists and across the ether to surround this little grain of mortality with his words. The essence flowed and poured freely into the night under dappled starlight.
"I have sensed your pain, your anguish, and your loss. Everything has been taken from you before it should have and the world is made less because of it. And if the Elder gods would have it, you would be left alone in these ashen feilds to sleep... and to die. And your body would mend with the feild and be no different from it. Travellers would walk by these wastes one day years from now and they would not now it to be a mass-grave, a home once."
"But i am no Firstborn, kin to traitors and theives and the apathetic. I have seen You for who You are and have deemed you worthy. You are stronger, wiser, and braver than you believe yourself to be, and you would need all those things to heed my offer. If you journey North, past the Crown and into the forests of the Elvish armies and preach to them of my Name and my Words and do the wonders of my hands, I will grant you what your pain cries out for. I will feed the void placed within you, carved out from your soul. I will restore your home and your family and your life before if you can earn it. It can all be yours again, one day. What say you, one who many have forgotten?"
The eyes of Azgo, flared with life and sickness, wounded pride and power, but a godly majesty, opened wide in the darkness of the dream.
Timmy Bushytail awoke with a start.
No, this is not my attempt to turn Timmy Bushytail evil. I just want to pick up the storykline, maybe give him a darker edge in his Hero of the Ages tale. Perhaps this is his greatest mistake, his skeleton in the closet? Or not? If anyone wants to contribute to him, i think we would all appreciate that.
Sidenote: I should get on the Moot and Kavah tomorrow.
Galfe, High Priest and Pyromancer, stared out the window of the Temple of Agni and down at the compound of basalt buildings that had been hastily erected in the past few weeks. The courtyard was packed, full of refugees who struggled to find places to sit or lie down. Not in the sense that they all were refugees, driven from the rest of Sil Arkosh by first the attack of the Slaadi and then the sudden and decisive end of that conflict when an entire lake had fallen on them from above and trapped them here in a recently-constructed portion of the city, meant to be the new industrial area.
No... not like that.
Instead, they were more... recent... refugees. Galfe looked beyond the gate to the compound, watched at all times by a dozen heavily armed temple guards and two dragons. The streets were deserted now, but half an hour ago a band of thugs had made their way down the street, sending a small ball of flame into each building and looking inside for valuables, tools, or people to conscript into their particular band. They had given the Temple a wide berth, having learned from other... rasher... groups that an assualt on the Temple compound was death. The Pyromancers of the Lord Agni had made the walls of the compound impregnable, and the entryway and the roadway in front of the compound was laced with traps activated at Galfe's Word of Command. Galfe could see in the distance the fires burning in several other compounds. He had sent priests to visit each of them. All of them were filled with criminals who had set themselves up as erzatz kings. One had even demanded to be addressed as such! King Pozni the First, Lord of a dozen buildings and a hundred starving 'subjects.' Disgusting. Somewhere out there, according to the refugees, the army had established a safe zone, and was expanding it day by day, dispersing the criminal 'kings' and bringing the Azer back to order.
Galfe thought that theory was worth as much as Craterspawn dung. The army had splintered into a dozen groups, and that didn't account for the individual soldiers who had left entirely. The thugs from earlier had had no less than three wearing the arms of a soldier of Sil Arkosh.
"Lord Agni," Galfe whispered into the hot air. "Do not abandon us, your children forged by your own hand in the bath of Fire that was our creation. Hear us and free us with your righteous fury from this prison."
Galfe stood and reached up, grasping a short rope. It was time. He pulled, and a bell began to ring in a room above him, sounding out over the cavern as from below, the huddled masses began to sing a song of worship to the Great Firebringer. Galfe went to the window, raised his arms, and began to sing as well. The Azer might be breaking apart, all semblance of unity lost, but this, this was some bit of continuity he could provide. For now.
As the Sun Worm tunneled through the earth, it broke apart the ground around it, first to boulders, then to rocks, the to gravel, and eventually to sand. Over a wide swath of the westernmost of the Western Continents a desert slowly grew.
The dwarves had waited for the dragons to return for a long, long time, but as the sky grew dark and the Monsters began to roam the land, they continued on their journey, eventually coming to the Crown and its majestic, ice-covered peaks. They found a cave to sleep in, and rested.
When they awoke, a child was missing. Searching everywhere for the child, they eventually discovered that the cave was no cave, but was, in fact, a natural tunnel, leading deep into the mountain, curving left and right before eventually opening into a pristine alpine meadow, surrounded by glaciers on three sides and with a commanding view to the south. And there, waiting for them, was the boy they had lost, happily racing through the meadow and chasing the rabbits which desparately raced to avoid him.
It took no less than an hour for a concensus to be reached. This was their new home. This was Sil Peraz.
1 PP: Guide Populace: The Sil Arkoshian Azer, driven apart by the beings from the Umbrage, break into warring camps and factions separated by deserted streets.
2 PP: Command Land: A great desert spreads over the west of the far Western Western continent (We need a better name for those three islands than 'Western Continent )
1 PP: Command Land: A meadow far up in the Crown mountains that is inacessible aside from a long dark tunnel is formed.
1 PP: Guide Populace: The dwarven refugees from Sil Arkosh finally find a place to settle, in that same meadow. They name their new home Sil Peraz.
1 PP remains... what to spend it on... tonight...
Cantorix watched the battlefield with steely eyes.
... Regroup. Yes, he already knew. His kin were disorganized, almost as wild as the craterspawn hordes they had fought once long ago, and a few were slipping into the Wrath. They were losing control of the battle, and swiftly.
"Yes" he answered. There was a long pause as Cantorix analyzed the emergence of these newer spawn. They were... hideously familiar. And now it was the dragons who knew what it was like to look into corruption in their own flesh, as the angels had in elder days. But if Cantorix knew anything, it was how to scan an opponent for weaknesses, and then how to kill. It was an integral part of him, one he regrettably embraced.
"Morenth, take to the west and rally the Ebon that are fighting those... those things. Fall back and let the center bulk fill in the gaps. Flank when you have the room and provide relief."
It was an easy job and she would know it, but Cantorix couldn't let her die on the frontlines. If a few more Ebon had to die for her, so be it. They had sworn allegiance to all blood-kin.
"Lucan, multiple broods were scattered into the sky when that creature fell unto the stone. Gather them and direct them as you see fit. If you see any openings-take them."
Again, an easy role. They would be skirmishing at the most, and away from the thick of it. But that was how he wanted it.
"If either of you see that the battle is lost, flee. If my kin will not listen, leave them behind. May your ancestors look over you."
Decisive Morenth had called Cantorix's actions once. He felt that he would need to be decisive again.
And so he left for the front lines, clawing through dragonspawn and frenzied black dragon untill he was surrounded by the enemy. A flurry of dragonspawn limbs hacked at his skin and at his flesh until the bone was pristine and starkly visable. Cantorix centered himself.
All the bars of the mind collapsed. All the floodgates were opened. All the concious hold upon reasoning slipped into nothingness. Cantorix let go, and fell fast into the savagry of Azgo's wrath.
And he enjoyed it.
Ka'Vah was about to respond to Marcus, when a miniature voice called out from far below. It was akin to the squal of mice, naive mice scurrying about in the feild. Ka'Vah froze with awe, and not a single wisp of his being moved. A darkly pleased grin split across his ambiguous visage.
"Do my ears decieve me?"
Suddenly the entirety of a storm fell upon and around the orkish mortal, like the hair of a great conflagration. The taste of dry, powerdy ash coated Urk's throat as he attempted to breathe. Smoke peeled through his closed eyelids, feircly vexing the eyes until they were flush with tears and blood.
A pair of eyes, glowling softly green in the wavering haze, bathed him in flichering light.
"Or has a mortal dared a feat that even gods tremble at its mention?! Did you... CHALLENGE me, foolish orc? Have you challenged the great and dreaded Ka'Vah, shadow of the sun and the death of light?!"
Ka'Vah waited for a few seconds, feigning interest in the Orc's reply and possible apology.
It would be honorable to reduce his own power, to fight on the orc's terms untill the better between them was decided. It would have been honorable for him to form himself into solid godflesh with breakable bones and flimsy organs so that his weaknesses would match that of this bold orc. And it would be honorable to fight and play with dignity and respect, and leave this mortal with his body, if not his pride, intact in turn for his admirable courage.
But he was Ka'Vah. And honor... was worthless to Ka'Vah.
A form about the size of a human coalesced in the thick curtains of smoke, it was neither seperate nor wholly apart from the haze. Ka'Vah rushed through the darkness at the half-blind orc readying a forcefull blow and savoring every singular second of its buildup. His fist connected with the force of a concentrated stormwind, the winds that would break branches and rattle the bones inside of men. And it connected again... and again, and again-and again. Only the physiology of the orc restricted Ka'Vah's speed, as he wanted the challenger a few moments to register the individual pain on each blow on his joints. Between blows, Ka'Vah forced billows of smoke in and out, to expand and shrink instantaneously. Urk's lungs constantly teetered between popping and collapse. Large areas of the tissue became saturated with the oily smoke and withered into black chunks of leather.
The longer the fight went on, the more Ka'Vah had to stiffle his needle to giggle. What euphoria!! It was an art, truely. The ork was a fierce warrior however, and despite the onslaught continued to swing his hammer at Ka'Vah with uncanny precision. Occasionaly Ka'Vah would cry out as the hammer swinged through his form before he dissapated. When Urk had just recovered enough sense to attempt to understand the situation, Ka'Vah would leap back into the fray with abandon, dashing his thin hopes.
He loved every snap, every gasp, every stumbling misstep and every pitiable swing of his weapon. Wait, his weapon...
Was that a... yes, it was. Agni's symbol. It was weak and sputtering from former power, but it was recognizable.
And then Ka'Vah remembered. His heart plumetted. He did have a schedule to keep, after all. How dissappointing.
"For what is worth, little mortal, you have been quite the amusement. Perhaps we should continue this again one day. But know this mortal, for your efforts, Ka'Vah the great and mighty will spare your people. The orcs are no longer subject to my fell influence. Go, go and warn them of Ka'Vah."
The blanket of smoky darkness was sudden;ly pulled up and out from the feild. New starlight fell upon the orcish champion, who Ka'Vah had left wheezing, battered, and broken. And with regretful pace, Ka'Vah stepped into the Great Beyond, still thinking of the mortal's thrilling pain.
---The Western Continent---
High Ithol reveled in its splendor atop the cliffs, but over the course of many years, it was not the only point of civilization. many dwarven clans, eager for the traditions of old and the glories of their old warbands left the city for the foothills and sparse Mountains that flanked the city's western side. Out of the ores and granite they found there, a series of fortresses both above and below the surface were crafted in dwarven technique. Hamlets and villages of both dwarves and humans soon dotted the lands between the fortresses.
The kingdom was expanding.
Command Land (2AP): A series of foothills and isolated mountains rises west of the city. It is rich with practical ores and stones. The hills are covered mostly with thin underbrush, grass, and meadows of Nightshade. Later on, this will become the flower associated with Azgo worship.
Command Populace (1AP): The dwarves expand out from the city and build a network of fortresses and outposts between the hillcrests and beneath the mountains' feet.
A primal cry of rage emanated from deep within Artun's form. The plant-chains hauled him off of Agni's body, but still the exarch struggled. Bits of his body and blood fell to the ground. He ripped one shoulders loose, and the image of the beautiful god flickered. He struggled more, ripping another chain from his body, and the image faded entirely. In its place as a burn creature. It might have been humanoid once. Or perhaps just a face, like Agni had been. Whatever it originally way, it was lost to fire.
The thing should not have been alive. But it was, because Agni had found one thing that fire couldn't consume. Hatred.
"Betrayer!" the corpse god screamed.
~~~The Great Beyond~~~
Wherever the lord of death was, his attention was not on his domain. The Zizu tore at the very fabric of the afterlife, and the great beyond grew different. An entire side of eternity was discarded, and ill things lay on the other side.
6AP: Modify planes (yes, plural): The Great Beyond becomes attached to the abyss. Generally they still function like different planes (or at least, demiplanes), but one can travel between the two by simply walking. There's technically no barriers preventing travel between them (although hopefully someone will set up guards).
The body of the leviathan, though barely intact, twitched. Life unforgiveable was forced into it, and the creature began to move, attempting to right itself. It managed to lift its body, and the sun in its former gullet fell out, before the creature collapsed again.
Dragonspawn were scattered like droplets of water in the process.
~Inside the Behemoth~
Divine though it may have been, untaken by death, though it might be, the Behemoth was a physical creature of muscle, flesh, and sinew. The Balor it spawned required sustenance, energy, to birth, and the Behemoth, with its stomach in turmoil, was in no position to regain either.
The Azure brood, however, had the Beacon, a shining light of Divine energy and glory. Every scratch the creatures made, every wing the creatures ripped, every drop of cyan blood spilled, was repaired, in time.
The balor too regrew, mended, drawn inexorably back together by their lack of death, but theirs was a slow. While a wounded Azure, curled asleep around The Beacon, might grow to full strength in a matter of hours, the pulped mush of slain balor took weeks and months to regrow. Some were so obliterated it would take months or years.
It was a war of attrition, and one the Azure Dragons seemed ill equipped to lose.
The Behemoth, for its part, was a dim beast. Where before it did not win, it did not alter its strategy, simply increasing the numbers. More Balor were birthed, and more Balor were banished. As the Behemoth poured more and more of its flesh and quintessence into its strategy, the Azure held firm. In time, the Behemoth shrank, the lost mass of slain Balors vanished from its gullet in acrid smoke or questionable pools of filth. When the light of the Beacon finally broke through the godbeast's sides once more, the beast was only as large as a small hillock. And with the sun freed, so too were the Azure dragons -- but few things are as large as a dragon's capacity to grudge, and while some drakes flew off with their rescued Sun, a great many more stayed behind, continually hounding the dying beast, which still sought to birth Balors.
It did not know it, but it had lost. When at last the beast stopped to consider that its strategy had failed, it found itself little more than a spine, a pair of ragged wings, and a maw of razor claws. Then it, like the rest of its children, was scattered along the winds, blasted free by the thunderous breath of deep blue.
-4 AP Modify - The Behemoth is fragmented into roughly 6,600 Balor. Each Balor shares traits of the godbeast -- unable to die, fierce temper, the ravenous hatred of TASOE, etc. but exists as its own discrete entity. While it is possible that these Balor might re-merge into their greater whole once more, that seems unlikely in the near future, as without the overriding will of the Behemoth to direct them, each Balor is left to its own devices and free will.
-0 AP Modify - The Beacon returns to its previously scheduled programming.
Ahh... Agni breathed out a long breath, taking in true form of Artun. At last, we see you as you are, Artun, and not how you wish us to see you.
I never betrayed you, Artun. It was you who betrayed me. I remember you staring as the Behemoth swallowed me alive but ignored you. But perhaps you betrayed it and found rescue for me. Perhaps that part, at least, is true, and a truth that I did not wish to hear, could not hear. I cursed you, Artun, and now you are here without illusions. Speak, Artun. I would hear what you have to say.
(More soon on other fronts...)
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