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...)
Krr'Ree'E had the itch of wandering. It was the sort of itch that started in your nose. It was an itch that grabbed you, pulled you any way but home. And then it got in your body, your limbs. Your legs moved, your arms pumped, and it was like you were falling, in every direction but down. Krr'Ree'E had had this sort of itch before. It was not a way of moving, or of getting anywhere, at least nowhere physical. It was a way of thinking. If you set the motion of your mind to the motion of your feet, you could end up anywhere. But the trick was, once you got there, you had a lot more than realizations awaiting you.
Such was the case on this day. It was a simple clearing, boring even, as clearings go. Bounded by a rough ring of saplings and filled with calf-high vegetation, it was the sort of places that dotted these woods. It could have been any one of a hundred such clearings. But it wasn't, it was this one.
In the centre of the clearing was a man, standing and observing the swell of the moon as it rose high into the sky. But this was no ordinary man. The least conspicuous thing that could be said about him was that he was extravagantly dressed, like an impossibly wealthy king from a ludricrously prosperous kingdom. His vestments were worked with elaborate decorations and adornments that twinkled as he shifted in the moonlight. Jewels and gold clasps glittered on his doublet and at his wrists. A belt set with precious gems was slung about his waist, and from it hung a beautifully worked sword with a fat ruby in its pommel. But that was not the strangest thing about this man. No. For when he turned his eyes from the luminous moon, they were not the eyes of a man. They were the eyes of a beast.
If one can be called a man by his upright stature, then he was a man. If a man is so called by his two eyes, a nose and mouth, then he was a man. If a man is a man by the two feet he stands upon, or the arms that reach and clasp, then he was a man. But only a beast had teeth that razor sharp, only a beast was covered in such a thick pelt, with a mane like the fiery sun. And only a beast had those eyes. But then he spoke, and it was the voice of a man that emerged.
"I seem to have lost my way. May you please direct me towards home?"
3 PP - Ascend Exarch - Lionheart
Krr'Ree'E blinked and rocked back and forth in surprise. How had she wandered so very far? Trees? There were no trees taller than five feet near Krr, the earth still recovering from the volcanic explosions that had turned it into a barren waste. And yet, here she was.
A racheting sound of uncertainty clambored its way up her throat and out into the air, followed by speech.
"I can understand you. Do you serve a God as well? And where is home, that I might direct you?"
"But that is-" Morenth cut off her protest as Cantorix led the bulk of the black dragons nearby into battle. "Very well. I hope to see you safe at the end of this, Cantorix." she shouted instead.
She made her way to the skies and began to help pull back the disorganized western flank of the black dragon army, bellowing at the confused, recalcintrant and stupid alike to retreat and regroup. Slowly, things began to coalesce, the bulk of the... Morenth needed a word for these monsters... Dragonspawn would do.... Dragonspawn turning to fight the oncoming Cantorix.
"Mother!" A bellow from above caught her attention and she twisted in midair to see a rapidly growing set of red spots resolve into several dozen red dragons. One pulled up before her, and Morenth smiled as she recognized her son.
"We felt a stirring in our bones, Mother, drawing us here. We came as soon as possible. We will fight."
With a unified roar, the red dragons struck from above, fire blasting through knots of Dragonspawn as they burst forth from the Leviathan's body.
The man threw his head back and made the first bestial sound she had yet heard him make. It was somewhere between a laugh and a gleeful roar, as though his vocal cords couldn't quite decide whether he was a man or beast.
"King Lionheart, serve a god?" he roared, though the exact details of his emotions were concealed in the folds of his lion face, "Presposterous!"
He threw his head back (quite a significant affair with all that hair) and laughed once more. And then he straightened himself and coughed into his hand (paw?) in a ludicrously human affectation.
"As for the home bit, well, rather hard to explain isn't it? Difficult to say, really. And then of course is the matter of which home do you mean? And quite the other matter of which home I meant."
He stared at her for a moment with the sort of dejection only animal eyes could muster.
"Perhaps you should start by telling me who you are, and where we happen to be, and perhaps then I'll be able to acheive my bearings. Yes, that's the thing."
Krr'Ree'E chittered softly to herself. This was a strange man-flesh-thing indeed. Her mother's lessons on the protection of the Hive traveled down her sense-nerves from one of her secondary brains and Krr'Ree'E briefly reviewed them before speaking.
"I am Arr'Pkk'R, King Lionheart." She assumed that this was his name. "I am on a long journey from the Crown," She waved in the direction of the mountains to the north. "To the dwarves in the south" She had heard that the dwarves had once lived there... but the truth of that was unascertained. "To trade. We are... somewhere in between there. Closer to the Crown."
Lionheart gave a comical sort of start, made all the more comical by his large stature and furry disposition. It was, after all, not very often that you found a lion startled about anything, least of all one standing on two feet.
"Crown?" he said, astounded, "You have crowns here? Where I come from, I banished crowns. Can't wear them, see?"
And he pointed to the top of his large and strangely proportioned head. It was exactly the size and shape of a lion head mounted atop a broad set of human shoulders.
"And if I can't wear a crown, no one else bloody will!" and at this he roared again with laughter, "But we have got dwarves where I come from. Greedy little bastards, but darn useful. Can make you anything you want, dwarves. Made the metalwork on my garments and..."
With a grand flourish, he pulled his elaborate sword from its elaborate sheath.
"Even made me this. Isn't she a beauty?"
Krr'Ree'E skittered backwards a good ten feet before she realized that the other being meant no harm. Cautiously, she approached.
"It looks very nice." She said after a long moment. "Not something I could use," She waved a sharp forearm in demonstration, "but nice. The Crown is those mountains, of course. Why would one want to wear a mountain? That seems heavy. Where did you say you were from again?"
Everything felt oddly distant too Cantorix, as if he were reading out of a book and slowly flipping pages upon pages of gore without an end to the chapter. His eyes could see the animalistic flailing of the beasts about him. His ears could sense the splintering fragments of bone whiz through the air. And his tounge could taste the swirling cocktail of spinal fluids. And yet... it felt distant, if enjoyable.
He was a constant blur in their midst, bounding over the rough hills of the Levithen's organs from one dragonspawn to the next. His skeleton rattled and shook in his flesh, and blood jubilently crashed within the weakening walls of his arteries. Many would have said that his heart was a living creature all its own the way it wanted to escape the confines of his chest.
Cantorix leapt high and pounced on a newborn dragonspawn admist the flurry of battle. The creature saw him at the last moment and attempted to roll through the marsh of snaggled Leviathen flesh. It was not fast enough to avoid a glancing blow from Cantorix, which stunned the dragonspawn with his sheer force of weight. With a squeel the creature struggled beneath one of his forearms. Cantorix studied it for a mere moment. Hot, savage and alien eyes bore into the creature with unfettered pragmaticism. There was a shade of hatred in them, awoken in the blood.
Then that moment passed, and Cantorix dug his claws across its throat untill they set fastly behind the jawbone like a fish hook. Cantorix heaved the beast into the air effortlessly, and tossed it at a charging dragonspawn. The bodies clashed and rolled together off the mountain peak.
And Cantorix was off again, letting the momentum of battle surge him into the thick of the bloodshed armed with tooth and claw and tail and acid fountains. He was already coated from the crests of his horns to the tip of his tail in blood. But at least half of it was his own...
The battle continued.
Nourish Populace (2AP): The Ebony/Black dragons are all gifted with the wrath of Azgo in their blood which they can access and some can even harness. Any black dragon that enters the "Wrath" is moved one age category upward in determining its level and stats (EX: A young dragon becomes an Adult dragon, an Elder Dragon becomes an Ancient Dragon, and an Ancient Dragon gains a stat boost.) untill the Wrath is over. However, during this time the dragon takes ongoing damage tiered to its level while in the Wrath and may have trouble distinguishing friend from foe.
AP Remaining: 4
"Yes, well, we all have our crosses to bear," and with a sigh, Lionheart sheathed his sword.
He looked up at the moon once more and stared at it for a goodly while before answering.
"Well, I guess that's a difficult question. I am Lionheart, King of the Humans, with all the land from the mountains of the Spine in the North to the crystal-clear waters of the Sunset Seas in the south. I rule from my holdings at Sol Leona, and all of men are beneath my purview. But that is not where I come from."
Lionheart sighed, and sat upon a rock that protruded from the centre of the clearing.
"I have a dream, a dream where my mother bathes me in a river. Except she is not my mother, she does not bear my mother's face, and yet, I can't help but feel she is my mother. And as she bathes me in the river, I can't help but notice the feel of the water, not on my fur, but on my scales! Imagine that! And then she releases me into the water, and I find that I can swim! I swim far, and soon I find that I am not alone in my swimming! All of my brothers and sisters are around me, and they are swimming as well. What fun we have! I turn back to call to my mother, to show her what fun we are having! But she is gone. My mother has left us. And so I swim on. And when I awake, I can't help but wonder, where did my mother go?"
The Chitrach unconciously sharpened her armblades against one another as she listened.
"You are the ruler of the fle- err, the humans?" She asked. "The humans that I met seemed to have no leader, or at least, they did not mention one. The Crown is far from the... did you call it the Spine? Yes, the Spine in the north. That must be further north than my people dare to go."
Krr'Ree'E fell into silent contemplation as Lionheart told his story.
"That is an interesting story, but I am afraid its message is lost on me. What does it mean?"
In the middle of the large island that the followers of Azgo landed on was a mountain, wreathed in green forests that spilled off of the slopes and across the surrounding landscape, eventually giving way to brown-green grasslands. And on the slopes, the Insuannon lived high in the trees, flying from branch to branch on iridescent, wings that spread like feathered sails from wrist to waist and calling out to one another in words composed of pure pitch and tone as they spread coarse-woven nets of bark to catch the scarce game that hid whenever they approached.
Until one day, strange, pale, unfeathered beings approached the edge of the forest, bearing axes. A group of Insuannon gathered in the branches above the small band of humans. They gripped the bark of the trees with clawed feet and watched with intense curiosity as they grunted at one another in ugly, monotonal sounds that meant nothing to them.
1 AP: Command Land: A mountain arises near the kingdom of High Ithol
1 AP: Nourish Land: A forest grows on and around the mountain.
2 AP: Shape Populace: The Insuannon, who look something like a cross between a bird and a flying squirrel live in said forest.
In greater detail: Think of a 4-foot tall bird, but instead of "normal" bird wings, think feathered arms that end with human-esque (opposable thumb) hands, and a large membrane of feather-covered skin stretching from wrist to waist like a flying squirrel. Normal (if large) bird feet, though. If it helps, they're modified, brightly colored harpies.
They don't speak common, but instead communicate in something that sounds like *particularly* beautiful birdsong.
The lion-man reflected for a moment, before chortling.
"How should I know! I'm a lion, can't you see? Not a fish!" and with a sweep of his finely-clothed arms, he rose to his feet, "But I suppose it's a clue. Yes, a clue!"
He strode purposefully to the edge of the clearing, in what he clearly assumed was a Northerly direction.
"Now if the Spine is far to the North," he began, gesturing in that same direction, "Then my destination must be located somewhere between here and there! You shall be my guide, and we will head there straightaway!"
He gazed at the Chitrach with something amounting to expectation, and waited.
"But I am not headed north. I am headed south, as I mentioned previously." Krr'Ree'E said quickly, trying to find a way to not accompany the strange fleshy beast-man. "I'm afraid that it would be horribly inconvenient to delay my journey by that amount of time. I'm sorry, but I must decline."
---The Great Beyond---
Ka'Vah called out into the vast regions of the Great Beyond, unsure if anyone was listening.
"Zebus! Zebus, can you hear me?"
Silence. And the silence only added to Ka'Vah's unsettled mood. There were souls here... legions upon legions of souls, wandering. He was used to the flesh bound realm of the Prime, not... not this. The shadow of death clung to the very fabric of the plane and wove itself into the stranded souls.
Did Zebus actually like this place? Ka'Vah shuddered.
"Zebus! The gods call for your aid on the Prime. Great, monsterous beasts roam the land and have dared to challenge us. The gods are scattered and missing and the mortals perish by the thousands. Agni also requests that you free Azgo..."
And suddenly Ka'Vah felt a presence. A very familiar presence, and a terribly old one. Ka'Vah waited anxiously for the presence to adress him. But it did not, and it left as soon as it had arrived.Could it have been... No, of course not. Ka'Vah was in the Great Beyond; it must have been Zebus.
But deep down, he feared it was not.
---Beside a Ruin---
The young Nix breathed heavily, staring into the dark for the source of the voice. The smell of ash and of burnt flesh clung in the air and stirred in the morning winds. Distant animal calls heralded the dawn.
For another good hour or so Timmy slipped freely between waking and slumber. Images of friends ablaze and rivers of smoke pouring freely from the mountainsides haunted his fickle dreams. And eyes... powerful eyes watched him. Every time he awoke he prayed for a few precious moments that such destruction had been naught but a nightmare, and everytime he came to realize that it wasn't he drifted back into the corridors of his mind where truths stalked and hunted him down like game.
Eventually the pain of his dreams fell into the balance with reality, and then realm of one was not the escape from the other. Timmy awoke slowly, and sat up in the thin wilderness.
Before the dawnlight had washed over his home Timmy was on the road south. He didn't want anything to do with this place anymore, and that promise was nothing more than a dream.
And so the Hero of Ages wandered the farthest away he had ever been from home.
And he did not look back.
A young dwarf, dressed in full regalia, kneeled on the carved granite. His normaly red beard glowed a lively violet in the firelight of the holy braziers. He felt small, terribly small, beside the pillars of the palace and the curtains of smoke that graced the arched ceiling. A pedestal the shape of a reaching hand stood between the dwarf and the fires. A glaceril dagger, sharpened with years of keen effort, and a gilt chalice rested in the plam of the pedestal. The coals of the braizers were sputtering, and near dead. It was a private ceremony, and none of the normal guards were at their stations.
A pained voice called through the constant crackling of the fires and the echos of cheering crowds in the courtyards.
"Arise, Lord Ogrim. Dawn has risen on the steps of the cliffs and across the sea. And now... as light bears its burden across land and heaven to shed light upon the darkening world, so too does a new king bear up the weight of High Ithol into a new age. The first child of Azgo has withered into age and soon the throne will be found wanting."
There was a pause. Lord Ogrim had no idea what to say, given that no question had been asked. Instead, he waited, giving breif glances at the pedestal.
"It is a great, and terrible burden, to carry the True King's will into the Prime when his betrayers gather and conspire. Are you ready?"
"Yes, my King."
There was a great wheezing fit of coughing and pitied sighs. The haggard voice continued.
"No. You are not."
Ogrim's body froze up with panic. Had he somehow failed the King?! His knuckles turned white with blood.
"But no mortal is, truely. The pain of a god is a vast, depthless trial. It has no begining, and it has no end. But such is the way of the noble, to suffer so that others might have peace. And my suffering... has come to an end. Approach the pedestal."
Lord Ogrim stood hastily and walked forward with what dignity he could muster. His heart was pounding in his chest. His eyes fixed on the dagger's edge. The voice behind the smoke continued, aware that he had obeyed before Ogrim could respond.
"Draw the dagger from its sheath, and draw blood from your hand."
A thick, burly hand reached out for the hefty dagger, lifted it up, and peeled open the skin of his palm. Lord Ogrim bit his tounge in an attempt to stifle his cry. It was the most pain he had experienced in his noble life. A few drops of blood splattered on the inside of the chalice. The blood suddenly swelled and bubbled, as if the goblet itself was bleeding on the inside untill the scarlett fluids brimmed to the top. Lord Ogrim lifted the chalice with both hands over his head.
Lord Ogrim hesitated again. His hands strokked the velvet pockets and laced linings of his shirt. His regalia would certainly be ruined! He stuttered, face flush with embaressment.
And yet somehow the voice knew.
"Annoit Yourself!" it demanded.
More instinctually, and out of fear rather than reverence, Lord Ogrim poured the blood slowly over his face. He could still feel its warmth on his wet beard.
"In the name of Azgo, whose crown of creation was stolen from him by thieves and liars, whose crown of dominion and purpose was the blood of his brow, I crown you King of High Ithol, King of Varendrel, and King of The Promised Isles! Take my throne and carry the will of The Fused God. Take my throne, and may Azgo bless your divine rule! AAAUUUGGHHHHH!!"
The voice cried out with an intensity that hurricanes would envy. A fell wind swept through the palace halls, extinguishing the braziers and shaking the stone. A mass of Nightshade petals flew out from the seat of the throne and scattered into the open morning. Flowers rained upon the crowds by the armful, and the distant cheering became ecstatic.
Lord Ogrim, freshly coated with cooling blood, staggered confused and afriad towards the throne. Was there no person here? Where had the King gone?? Every fiber of his body told him to go back. And yet... he felt compelled to go forward; to finish what had been started. Gently, Lord Ogrim sat upon the throne of his former king. And then... IT happened.
If anyone had been there to see it, they wpould have called what happened next an nightmare and an abomination of truth itself. The throne seemed to envelop him, fuse with his skin. The stained garments that once sparkled with valor and glory ripped and tore and fell away unto the floor. His skin sagged into folds in places and drew tight enough to be translucent in others. Organs shifted and twisted together into a gnarled incomprehensible system of agonized flesh, like the roots of a tree inside of a man. Lor Ogrim tried to call out, but could only hoarsely cough through puss clogged lungs that now rooted inside of his once-feet. His eyes bgan to sink further and further into his skull before being swallowed by the throat, leaving only empty pits. And above all else, he could feel a sickness in him. A horrid, inheritant wrongness with his existence that pulsed like blood through myriad hearts.
The braziers lit up in an inferno of divine fire and scented smoke, higher and hotter than they had been in decades.
Lord Ogrim was no more. King Ogrim had been born.
Long live the King.
Create Artifact (2AP): The Throne of High Ithol is the seat of kings and prophets in Azgo's name. The transformation of Ogrim, and the transformation of every king is a pact signed long ago between the refugee cultists and Azgo. Azgo gives a piece of his spirit to the King of High Ithol. This techincally makes the King/Queen a demigod if you prefer. Whoever is the king/Queen of High Ithol takes on a fractions of a god's wisdom, knowledge, power, and longevity. The ruler of High Ithol is granted a new lifetime of about 300-500 years, and this is how the West measures time in ages. However, the spirit is also infected with Azgo's taint, and in turn passes incredible pain and sickness into the individual. The King/Queen has no need of food, water, sleep, excercise and cannot fall ill... or at least, any more ill than they already are.
The Western Continent is called The Sunthos Isles, or The Promised Isles by most residents. The island that High Ithol resides upon is called Verandrel. No names have been given to the other isles yet, though the population knows they exist.
---On the Forest Border---
Under the order for a new fleet of ships by King Ogrim, woodsmen and commoners passed through the sparse scrub of the foothills into new territory. Many of the "explorers" as they deemed themselves were amazed at the newfound abundence of wood. Only isolated groves of thin, ragged trees existed in the foothills, but this place... it was beautiful in its serenity.
New hamlets and villages cropped up on its border, and hundreds of axemen settled here earning honest, if rough, livelihoods. One day, a few weeks in, a group of woodsmen brothers treaded deep into the forest in search of... welll, they didn't know. Trees of course, but that was secondary. They just wanted to walk, and enjoy this place so distinct from the rabble of citylife.
"Do you feel that Nathaniel? The wind 'tween the trees? Feels down right liberating, that does."
"Perhaps you should focus more on where in the Abyss we're going. That is of course, unless you want to be stranded here to 'feel' the trees or something." One of the stick-like brother retorted. But his brother was right. It was immensly pleasurable in the current heat.
"It smells even better than it feels! Almost makes me forget that a barrell of rotten fish is marchin' in front of me. Hahahaha!" He gave his brother a playful shove. " Must say, I miss the days you spent on the piers, downwind from us that is."
Eventually they stopped at a new grove and reluctantly began to cut timber. For the most part, they were rather careless and relaxed, expecting nothing more than cool wind and soft grass... Which is why they screamed in terror upon seeing a feathered halfling-craterspawn-thing nesting above them.
"What in blessed name of Azgo is THAT?!"
Azgo sighed a long, repressed sigh. It seemed that his chosen prophet refused him. The Nix required time: time to process and to mourn. Azgo hoped he would agree one day...
He began to walk the halls he had walked for an uncounted age. Most mortals would have driven insain by now, seeing the same walls and towers in the same places over eons of the same patterns of walking. But Azgo did not break so easily. He had to survive... he had to.
And these halls were empty too. That... that was exhausting to think of. There were Craterspawn, yes. Tens of thousands of Craterspawn had flown triumphantly from the depths of the creation vats to infest the sky with the constant battering of wings. But Craterspawn were mere animals. They were a means to an end. But anything intelligent that was more than a mortal soul Zebus had judged to be vile? Nothing. No gods flocked to Azgo's banner. No exarchs swore allegiance to him, seeing the error of their former ways. He had no allies. And though he would never admit it, he had no friends ...and that ...
pained him as great as the troubles of his ailments.
Feeling that unspeakable pang within, Azgo suddenly cursed up and down the day the Firstborn betrayed him. They had taken more than they could have imagined. They had stolen the crown he was meant to wear. They had stolen all the comforts of his flesh untill every moment was a nightmare that he could not simply awaken from. And above that, they had stolen his family away forever.
For Azgo's crown could be forged once more. His flesh could be healed and seperated into Azazel and Go'El. Neither would be easy nor quick, but it was possible. But from that singular moment of greed and betrayal, Azgo's siblings became somthing more abominable than his monsterous form. It was something from which they could not return even if they wanted to. The First demanded it, and the First was always right. Always. And when Azgo restarted Creation from the very foundation of divinity, and created new gods to serve as their replacements... it would not be the same. They would never be the same. There was only one Pruinus. One Leaf. One Agni. One Zebus. No more.
Azgo's tirade of curses trailed off into whispers and silence. He was a king afterall, and it was better to light a candle than curse the darkness, deserving though it may be. He was always busy, and there was always something to do.
The Crowned in Blood spent the next few days building more fortifications and creation vats, tempering the Grand Scepter and the Apostate's Bane, and meditating. Hatred pumped strongly in his blood and through the bones. It gave him strength. It gave him patience.
And then he felt it while meditating. A disturbance in the plane, on its very edge. Something remarkably different. It was as if the Abyss, which was indeed a fundamental part of Azgo, cried out. But was it in pain, or... joy? One second Azgo was within Guvarah An, and the next, he felt himself standing on the edge of the void. At the wards that harrassed and hounded him... or where they had used to.
For here, there were no wards.
Nourish Populace (2AP): The craterspawn ranks swell once more into the glory-legions of old. The dogs of war strain against their leashes, eager for the flesh of mortals.
So, I've looked through the IC several times, and I'm just not seeing anywhere that Sa needs an interaction from Artun, or any of my characters. Sorry, Raven, you'll have to point it out to me.
The corpse god reached out to his side. The ground trembled for a moment, then a black diamond burst forth in a spraw of dirt and flew into the god's hand. With a feral cry, Artun again flew at Agni in a rage. Creation shuddered as he dragged diamond point against diamond.
The first word that Artun etched into Agni's body was his response to the fire god's claims. Lies.
"I warned you!"
The corpse shambled over Agni's body, leaving smears of his liquefying self behind, to a new face and etched a second word into its diamond-body. This was what Artun had done for Agni. Sacrifice.
"I gave up everything! I saved you!"
The third word and final word was etched onto Agni's main face. Betrayer.
"You made me like this!"
I'll leave it up to you, Topheh, to say if those etches were in Agni's body, or if the black diamond was just acting like chalk, leaving bits of itself behind to form the words instead
~~~The Great Beyond~~~
There was nothing here, no sign that the creator of this place cared for it in the least. It was forgotten, a cast off, a half-finished thought.
The Zizu flew from on infinite end to the other, searching, but it found nothing of worth. Until, that is, a being appeared. A thing of smoke and ire. Ka'Vah.
The great bird clucked to itself and tore again at the fabric of this reality. The ineffable boundaries between this place and the Shadows weakened and tore, and the nameless things, created when Umbra first awoke, slide forth. For Zizu's part, it descended onto the exarch.
6AP join the meta-plane with PinkPonyPrincess' Shadow realm.
Well, Agni doesn't really have a *main* face anymore. He's more a superposition of a bunch of different Agnis
Agni grunted as the blade of black diamond bit into his being, but held still as Artun vented his anger. Finally, as Artun's body
You warned me? Really. Let us stroke the melted wax that is your memory and see if we can push it back into shape. Do you recall?
Magma poured out of several of Agni's mouths and broke into tens of thousands of tiny rocks, which organized themselves in the air. It showed Agni, as he used to be, and Artun, as he used to be, traveling through the mountains.
You have just told me: "There was a creature at the suns. As soon as I approached, it darted south and I followed. Come, it's hiding in a cave. I can't see in there, but your glowy fireness should lighten things up." And I did follow.
The scene changed, stones whirring through the air to resolve into Agni entering a deep cave while Artun waited outside. A drop of something started to fall from the ceiling. The stones froze.
Here. Here is where you warned me, Artun. When it was already too late.
The scene unfroze, and Agni was covered in black ooze and the stones lost any semblance of a picture, moments later dropping to the earth in a hail of pebbles.
It seems obvious to me that you knew what was going to happen when I stepped into that cave from the beginning, Artun. You had plenty of chance to warn me on our journey from the Crown.
Did you save me? I do not know. You claim you did, but no one came to your defense after the battle was done. Perhaps you recruited the Tealord, or the God-who-died, but they are dead, and cannot speak.
I did make you what you are. I was angry, vengeful, afraid. I nearly died, Artun. You, through your inaction at the very least nearly killed me.
But now, I feel generous and forgiving. That cave became the Behemoth, and I know I was not alone inside it. You knew all about the cave, clearly. Tell me what you know, and I will give you what you want, for I know what it is.
~The Great Beyond~
The voice of Scorch piped up inside Ka'Vah.
"This is our chance to be a hero, parasite. Perhaps in atonement for what you did to that poor Orc."
An Insuannon, mistaking the screams of terror for a greeting, hopped off of its perch and descended to the floor of the forest.
¤Greetings! It is so exciting to have clearly sentient creatures visiting us, even if you cannot fly. My name is Eane and we are the Insuannon peoples of the forest. What manner of thing are you?¤
But to the Itholians, all they heard was the sound of loud, insistant birdsong.
---The Great Beyond---
The beast swooped down upon Ka'Vah with little warning, and sent the petty god scrambling for a mobile defense as he recovered his senses. Walls of smoke, gusts of fierce wind, and deft movement kept The Eclipse Aflame a few paces ahead of the godbird.
"Zebus! Zebus!! Abyss take you Zebus; Answer me!"
Despite his defensive focus, Ka'Vah was quickly understanding what he was facing and what it was capable of. Every sidestep and every glancing blow brought Ka'Vah a few steps closer to a level battlefield. To defeat such a creature, alone no less. Think of the Glory!
But the fight was tense, and heavily straining upon Ka'Vah. And at one pivotal moment when pain and confusion exceeded his will, Ka'Vah...
Modify Exarch Temporarily (0AP): The body of Ka'Vah is, for a time i will leave to be designated by Toph, under the control of Scorch.
---Verandrel, near the Mountain---
One of the brothers, burlier than the others, grabbed at his chest and felt the pounding underneath. The birdlike creature had glided in front of them and after a few tense seconds... sung. But such a dry, tasteless word was no comparison to the honey-sweet yet quicksilver swift tones and pitch that frolicked forth from its throat. For a few seconds, he thought they were going to be eaten, or attacked, or... or anything beside singing. And how the light gleamed off its feathers like a pearl... The brother stared hopelessly stupid at the creature like a fish in a net.
But no sooner had the creature sung, then one of the brothers grabbed ahold of his broad axe and stumbled wildly forward. He was no soldier, and this axe was not meant for his hands, but the blow was wildly lucky and tore a serious wound in the brest of the creature. Blood spewed unevenly like a sputtering fountain; the vivid colors of the bird's feathers were drowned in unwholesome red.
And the oddly tense peace between the creatures descended faster than a drunk dwarf on the saddle of a craterspawn as they might have said. The other creature's panic and energy became a blur in front of his eyes, and the Burly brother heard ringing in his ears.
"Run, Garth, run for your life! There's more in the trees!"
Garth hesitated, seeing the world in a slower pace than he ever had before. His brothers were scrambling into a retreat, pelting the creatures with stones as they ran between the tress. Garth clumsily got to his knees and staggered backward untill his eyes fixed on the wounded bird. It seemed just as frightened as he had been.
Garth moved more instinctualy than out of choice. He lunged forward and snatched up the bird-creature in his arms, turned, and bolted down the hill back where he came. The creature struggled, and Garth held it tighter and tighter in an effort to stop the bleeding. The bird was... precious to him. He did not want it to die. Hopefully they would make it back to the homestead soon enough.
Assuming, of course, that he survived.
Azgo tentatively stepped forward, cautiously awaiting some fell trap. For the first time since the invasion itself, his steel-plated foot crossed the ethreal line of the Abyss. No agonizing crawl, no prayer swimming, no wisp of conciousness and power. He merely... stepped over.
How... remarkably unexpected. Azgo stood on the very hairsbredth of the Abyssal border, dumfounded. Was this a trap? But why trap Azgo when he was imprisoned already, and when Zebus still couldn't kill him? And would the trap be worth the risk of Azgo escaping into the Prime? No, it couldn't have been a trap, or at least not an intelligent trap.
Then... an accident? No, wards sealed by gods don't last centuries only to need a maintenence check; Zebus did not make faulty defenses for the world he had sacrificed his brothers to gain.
A shadow of a grin cracked open on his faces that, if a Firstborn had been there to see it, would have shaken their confidences to the core. A godhunter was on the loose, and They were the prey. But first, he needed answers.
It was clear then, that something had broken the wards on purpose. Perhaps whoever it was did not know the ramifications of their actions, but someone was willing to defy and challenge Zebus and therefore, the will of the Firstborn. Sa perhaps? No, too neutral. Azgo would have to find out while he was hunting.
Azgo gathered the shrouds of death before him into a cloak, and slipped into the Great Beyond. For days he wandered, feeling pity for the stranded souls wandering aimlessly here. Azgo promised to himself that one day, they would be free of their neglect. The plane was hard to navigate, given that death and shadow skirted about everywhere and the landmarks of souls split and churned and reformed all over. The Fused God instead waited for an emergence of power, a direction of a noteworthy presence.
Suddenly he felt it, a flash of power not far from him. Something at last had entered the plane. He glided through the dark ether untill the presence was close, and then gathered up the shadows untill neither he nor the visitor could see through the other. Azgo shook with anticipation. Zebus had returned home, and an old... friend was waiting for him. And then Zebus spoke... and Zebus did not sound like Zebus. There was death in his voice, but not Death. There was a distinction. But it was familiar... from ages ago.
"...great monsterous beasts... challenge..."
"...the gods... scattered... missing... perish"
"Agni requests that... free Azgo..."
Azgo froze, thinking. Worried.
The gods... scattered? Missing? Fighting these... these monsterous beasts? And had Agni purposely freed Azgo, or wanted it so, to... to fight?! What a foolish move, if a neccessary one. This changed everything. If Agni had freed Azgo, then creation was at risk. Something terrible was happening- something that could reshape the balance of power out of Azgo's favor. The hunt for gods was slim in priority, and the hunt for answers grew wide with desperate interest.
Quickly as he had come, Azgo left in the wake of the presence: unto the Prime.
Any other day, this would have been a celebration. The ground would have trembled, the sky grown dark, and the lamentations of the Firstborn would have been carried on the wind across the continents. But this was no other day.
His wisp form would have taken months to scour a continent. And even at his full command it would take weeks. Hopefully, that would not be too long. Hopefully...
Ah, sorry Topheh, I thought Agni still favored one face/facet over the others. Namely, the face/facet from this reality, as opposed to all the other realities that collapsed in on him.
The tiny rocks formed the scene, yet when Agni claimed he had been warned too late, Artun's ire gave his response. One of the words he had scratched into Agni's face burned with hatred. Lies.
Silent, the corpse god pointed a finger at the ground, where the shadows of the stone fell. At first there was no clear meaning, but then the gods gathered noticed that the shadows cast did not match the stones. The shadows showed a different story: the two gods arrived at the cave, but Artun held back, visibly frightened. Self-absorbed Agni didn't notice, or if he noticed, he didn't care enough to ask why. Here his own actions cursed him, and he went into the cave alone. Then, still trembling, Artun called out to Agni to warn him, and yet the fire god was slow to listen, slow to respond, and by his own failure, the cave captured him.
Through decayed vocal cords dripping with pus and plasma, Artun's voices burbled up. "There's one thing I want, Betrayer: revenge."
~~~The Badlands... again~~~
Seg watched carefully. This was a side to Agni he had never imagined might exist. The fire god didn't feel remorse, at least not that he displayed, but there was a speck of a sliver of a mote of kindness in him, it seemed, which was mountains and valleys more kindness than was in the master.
"I-" he said, then stopped at the sound of his own voice. Artun and Agni had been speaking so long that Seg's voice sounded out of place. But he continued, "I may be able to offer insight, and my price is simple yet hard. I ask for protection."
~~~The Great Beyond~~~
As there was a touch of fire in the Behemoth, a touch of Ice in the Leviathan, so in the Zizu was there a touch of death. There was no mistaking the bird for Zebus, but the plane felt an affinity for it, even as the godbird's talons rent its reality.
The Eclipse Aflame fought back, but dead memories rose up around it. Scorch's life, before he had been cursed. Ka'vah's memories, too, the memories of the godcrater, of Azgo's pain and failure and defeat.
Smoke fought shadow, unseen fought unseeable, and across the astral leagues, in the Shadowy realm of earlier times, Umbra shivered. The spirit of evil that inhabited it responded to the motion. It awoke and reached out again to the rest of its kind.
Agni once again spoke in two languages at once, A gutteral rumble that sounded like stones scraping over one another and the high, tonal language of before.
To Artun, he said.
So your argument is that I should have not trusted you, and therefore it is my fault? You are correct. I should have seen the problem right away, your words made no sense at the time, for to me you were the most beautiful ball of pure Fire that I had ever seen. You would have lit up the cave better than I. But I did not think, did not question, because your very form distracted me, as it was meant to do. You more or less admit that you knew the danger from the moment you first told me of it. And so my question remains: Why did you not tell me sooner?
But very well. Answer that, and then tell me what this 'revenge' you desire would entail.
To Seg, he replied.
Ah. Now we are getting somewhere. Protection? Done. I promise, for myself, my son and my Kin Agni concentrated on Thorn for a moment, wondering if he would agree, to keep you safe from whatever will be angered at your telling us what is going on.
Scorch/Ka'Vah briefly as the Agni'Vohda regained control of his body for the first time in ages. The darkness closed in for the kill as the smoke-being twitched and struggled to control its new/old body.
And then the process was complete. The smoke drew back towards the center of what is Ka'Vah/Scorch, all the disparate portions of its body coming back to the center. And when enough of Scorch was present, the smoke ignited. A roaring inferno that did not consume its fuel, the smoke, blazed in the darkness and slowly resolved into the form of a tall, diffuse Agni'Vohda.
Scorch lashed out and the Darkness shied away from the Light. With renewed vigor, the flaming cloud struck at the Zizu, strands of fire darting out from the main 'body' of Scorch to hit feathers and skin.
And Scorch/Ka'Vah laughed.
Eane kicked and scratched the thing that had hurt it, but to no avail. Garth only squeezed tighter and tighter, trying to hold on...
Until with a series of snaps, the hollow bones of the Insuannon's back and chest broke and collapsed inwards, puncturing heart and lung. After a long pained cry, Eane's head rolled backwards, and he died.
Agni's promise lingered in the air. The wind flared briefly, and a smattering of flower petals danced amidst the assembled gods, and then drifted back to the ground.
Sa had arrived. The god of Prophecy did not speak, did not reveal its presence, but it had arrived.
It knew them, these assembled.
The promiser that had brought it into this world.
The mirror of beauty it had goaded into crafting humans.
The healer-who-did-not with whom it had argued.
The deceitful source of the tear that was The Quickening.
There was also one it did not know.
The diamond one with a thousand voices. That, was interesting.
And so Sa waited.
Another shadow appeared over The Eclipse Aflame, and this time the Zizu. Something very dark, and very very angry. The shadows coalesed over the bird, a sword severing the head and casting it from The Great Beyond straight into the Abyss. A shadowy tendril blasted Ka'vah to the ground and bound him there. A presence as old as time itself fell upon him.
You bellow upon my realm. You slaughter, maim and destroy just to get my attention. All you really do is increase my workload you bumbling arrogant fool! You who are about as incompentent as your own masters! Take your pick as to which one you believe you swear fealty to. I do not really care. You and that thing where here not only at my whim, but because I'd cared not to deal with you. Now it seems that I have left you to your own devices too long!
As Zebus commands, the rents and tears to the plane of darkness repair themselves.
I have much work to do with these supposed creatures flailing about. I just kicked one out of here, but by no means is it dead sadly... Now leave back to your masters. Azgo will have to find his own way out, and if my messengers are correct he is already working on it. I have my own work to do. I caused enough destruction for one era, they can destroy themselves with out my help.
Zebus finally steps out of the shadows, and starts to walk away from Scorch/Ka'vah
6 AP removed the connections from The Great Beyond and The plane of shadow/darkness/w/e
"W-w-w-w-wait!" Scorch cried out after the departing God. "That wasn't me, but the corruption within me. I did not condone that, but the message of Agni remains. He needs your help, DeathLord. Not to destroy, but prevent destruction."
---The Great Beyond---
Ka'Vah shook with foaming rage. Fool? Arrogant? Bumbling? BUMBLING?! Ka'Vah, if ANYTHING, did not bumble about! Was this what humble, tireless service lead to, humiliation and proofless accusations?! Even Azgo in all of his obsessions and Agni with all of his demands were more tolerable than this pretentious, narcissistic, and power-blinded hermit of a god!
Ka'Vah unleashed a spewing, frothing river of long-winded and visceral insults untill they filled the brim of Scorch's private thoughts. It was then that he realized that it was Scorch, not himself, on the outside. Without losing a shred of velocity, the river poured instead unto Scorch.
"Corruption?! Corruption?! It is you who has usurped my body and my voice! Return what you have stolen from me at once!! You are NOTHING compared to me! Nothing but kindling too be burned and flames to sputter and die out before the deital might and majesty that is Ka'Vah, The Eclipse Aflame! I demand your surrender, you meaningless, worthless mortal parasite of my potential! YEILD!!"
Ka'Vah had never felt a stronger urge to kill something. Or several thousand...
---At a Divine Meeting---
A sudden maelstrom enveloped the meeting's outskirts with fierce stormwinds that echoed with the screams of angels. Little light pierced through the sulferous curtain, casting a sickly glow upon the attendents within. The ground turned black with blight. The grass withered into dust.
And for the first time since before the uncounted ages of the Invasion, The Crowned in Blood stepped once more on the Prime. His god-forged plate glimmered in the warped starlight; his maul rested lightly in his hands. He stood for a moment, remembering the taste of dirt beneath his heels. The stench of dying flesh poured out from his presence.
The storm fell away, ripping itself apart. An odd... coldness hung in the foul air.
Azgo's blind head veered toward the Gem-god, for it did not vision to see that this was Agni. Azgo could feel the essence of the god within him. No Firstborn could hide from Fused eyes.
There were so many things he wanted to say. To ask of them... Answers. Why they had betrayed him, why they ran from their mistakes, why their brothers were not worthy in their eyes. But this was Azgo, not Azazel/Go'El that stood before them. He was filled with purpose, and so were his words.
Bile and blood seeped through his rotten gums and down his sallow chin.
"Your plan. What is it?"
As Agni waited for answers, suddenly Azgo was there, weapon in hand.
Corrupted One. Azgo. I see your old servant finally found you. Good. Agni said in a langague of screams, grunts and sudden changes in pitch. My plan is simple. There exist several massive beasts that scour the land, seeking to destroy all of creation. My initial plan was to stop them, but it appears that there may be a dark power that seeks all of our deaths. These two know something of it, but it has been... difficult... to draw details from them.
Do you still wish to kill me and my siblings? I fear I may be the only one left. Ka'Vah was supposed to find Zebus, and then you, but my brother has not appeared, and the ColdMother and TeaLord... are both missing as well. Will you accept a truce until this matter is finished? I feel certain that this dark power would love to see us kill one another and weaken the forces which would stand against it.
Stopping, Zebus started to chuckle. You wish me to go into the world to cause more destruction to stop destruction, to free the one god that wishes me dead not that that is possible, and you say you have corruption inside of you! You make a compelling argument there.
Freeing Scorch/Ka'vah from the shadowy tendrils Zebus shakes his head in amusement.
Tell your master or masters I care not which, that the role of jester does not suit him. I still have a mess here to clean up from the last time before I can make a new one.
Azgo's seeing head glanced at the others gathered here with yellow, milky eyes. The stare was penetrating, and ancient in its pained observation. Eventually the eyes fell upon the charred corpse god Artun. A kindred hatred pulsed like an aura off of the once-god.
A small amount of pity shone beneath the egregious coatings of the eyes.
"There is nothing from the center to the very edge of known creation that will justify your betrayal of the First, the mortals, and the condemnation of myself into this abomination of godflesh. You will always be deserving of true death, and I will always pursue you, no matter your form nor power. The First demands it, and I demand it."
The Fused God hefted his maul across his plated shoulder, letting its immense weight crush the smaller bones in his arms. He needed to be ready.
"But unlike Firstborn, I know when to put aside my desires, no matter how righteouss, for the good of creation. Untill victory is assured, I will take no action that jeopardizes the safety of the world."
Agni's response was flat and emotionless.
Then we understand one another. So be it.
Azgo's mouth filled with bile, which slithered back down his throat. The veins in his face throbbed with vigor at Agni's response, flushing the skin with a black undertone.
"No. We don't."
A tense moment passed as Azgo's seeing eyes held Agni's gaze. Centuries of imprisonment and agony danced wildly behind the irises. The knuckles under godplate turned white with pressure.
"How many beasts, and where are they?"
Agni let out an exasperated sigh.
On the topic of our working together until the danger to all creation is passed, we have come to an understanding. Is that better?
Two or perhaps Three. Some sort of living ocean that went to the south, and the Behemoth which rampages to the east. There may be a third, a massive bird-creature, but I have not seen that one with my own eyes.
Azgo motioned with his hand at the other gods assembled with a touch of disgust. They would have to do...
"Is all you could muster? I should have expected as much apathy and laziness from Leaf's court. Willing to feast on the fruits of betrayal but not to fight or die when it is necessary."
"The beasts must be dealt with first, before the world falls apart. I will handle this 'Behemoth'. Have you engaged it before?"
This, then, was the moment.
The 10,000 petals of Sa jumped from the ground and blustered about the clearing.
"Allow usssssss to bring tidingsssssss of the beast of mountainsssssss."
The assembled gods found their eyes drawn to a single whirling petal of deepest blue. Before their eyes, it folded upon itself, then again and again, until the cariacture of an Azure Dragon drifted on the winds before them.
"When the beast fell from the skiesssssss, it swallowed the seventh of the sunsssssss. These "Dragonsssssss" had been birthed by the artifact, and were taken whole into itsssssss bowelsssssss. They fought a war of long attritionsssssss, and left it slain, scattered it into a thousand living piecesssssss."
The orihana dragon was lost amongst the rest of the gently drifting petals.
"With itsssssss sidesssssss torn asunder, our artifact wasssssss returned to usssssss."
On cue, dawn broke over the world for the first time in weeks. The lonely white light of The Beacon, though it did not match the furious green light of the God Mountain, the light, shorn free of the Sanctum in the wake of the Behemoth's awakening, was a welcome sight.
He shook of the torpor that threatened to consume him once more, then retreated further into the shadows of his safe little overhang. A wonder that he hadn't been noticed by all the arriving divinity. Sending a short call to one of his more solid deceptions, hegathered his strength and let strands of deception slipping from beneath overhang to float skyward. He tightened his connection to the deception he was projecting, and focused on the meeting.
Tzu'misel raised his hand slightly. "You said one of the beasts was some sort of living ocean? Perhaps I might be of assistance."
3 PP - Create Exarch - Verndari
3PP - Create Exarch - Lysing
A wave of light rolled softly over the hills and caressed Azgo's face. His skin, which untill now had been shrouded in wavering shadows, was stripped bare of all its indistinct coverings. The pale flesh shone brilliantly with the dark glow of sickness, the churning of scar tissue just beneath the skin, and the strain of constant misery. Pockets of cysts and boils cralwed across the tendons like a hoard of scurrying beetles.
Azgo's newly lit eyes, both blind and seeing, turned to Sa for the first time. Unconciously, Azgo's posture changed to one of discreet respect.
"Living pieces you say? And thousands of them? How are we to slay a creature that simply splits apart?"
He lowered his heads, thinking.
"Perhaps then, our efforts should be more diversionary, untill this 'dark power' is dealt with, assuming that it has some influence over these events."
Cantorix waded through the flesh marsh of the Leviathen, still enthralled in the rush and heart of battle. Dozens, no scores, of dragonspawn had been split open like fruit, broken upon the bones of his bruised arms, and drown in the acidic fluids flowing into their lungs.
But there were always more, and Cantorix was always on the move. But he was shambling now. Every step was accompanied with the cracks of smaller bones and the slushing of internal blood. His eyes were wild, both from Wrath and the pain that wracked him.
The dragon frontlines had been pushed back considerably, and many would be horrified to admit that it was nearly impossible to tell the corpses of dragons from the dragonspawn, broken and shredded as they were. The moot was awash in blood, and it flooded down the mountainsides with impunity.
How long could they continue?
Sorry... crazy weekend.
A multitude of grins washed over the faces of Agni.
A thousand weakened pieces are easier to fight than one massive foe, Corruptor. Pieces may be separated, imprisoned, removed from the whole. Agni's eyes lit up with excitment.
Imagine, foes encased in molten iron, trapped forever in metal's cold embrace. Imagine, foes buried by the roots of the mountains, or thrown into the places beyond the edge of the world. These actions were impossible before, but certainly possible now. This is a step towards progress.
Agni turned to address Sa.
FlowerLord, it has been a long time since we have spoken. It it good to know that you still walk these lands, even though so many of our kin have fallen asleep. Thank you for this welcome news.
As for the Leviathan, it is somewhere to the south, if you wish to chase after it. However, I agree with Azgo on this. These creatures are, as far as we can tell, mere beasts, tools to some nefarious result. FlowerLord, you say that the Behemoth took the Beacon. I saw it going after the Sun buried in the Eternal Volcano. And now we stumble upon Seg trying to get this one. Seg, we have promised you protection. Tell us who is behind this, and why they desire the suns.
Scorch laughed uncomfortably at the raging Ka'Vah within him.
"Not much fun, is it?" He asked silently. "But this is how I felt for years, Ka'Vah, watching you muck about with my body and destroy things. Now I am in control, and I feel my soul strengthening once more. We were days from death, you know. Your smoldering nature was about to finish consuming its source of fuel, and we would have both died. Now, I am dominant, and my soul is replenishing. Face it, Parasite. You're going to have to be content in there for a while longer."
Scorch then called out after the departing Zebus. "So, the great God of Death is afraid. This is what I will tell my master. Farewell."
And with that, Scorch was gone.
~The Eternal Volcano~
Scorch reappeared above the Eternal Volcano.
"Home." He whispered to himself, floating down and skimming the surface of the Caldera for a moment before being drawn to a smooth golden orb that bobbed in the lake of fire.
"Curious..." He said, landing on top of the glowing object and wondering what it might be.
Above in the heavens, a red orb turned green.
~A Curious Meeting~
If you ever return, I'm sure you can run with this, but I need Krr'Ree'E for something, and... she is acting in a manner consistent with her character... Your character is an Exarch, so he should be able to take this...
Krr'Ree'E stared for a long moment at the strange, silent lion-man-thing, waiting for a response. Seconds stretched to uncomfortable minutes, stretched to an hour of the strange thing just... staring at her.
Finally, the Chitrach shook her head.
"I'm sorry, but this is far too strange for me, and I no longer trust you. Hive protocol dictates that we protect the Hive from all those we do not trust, therefore..."
The Chitrach's arms raised up and sharp forearms stabbed into the chest of the LionMan. Bright red blood welled out from the wounds as the still catatonic man slumped to his knees, then collapsed to the ground. Krr'Ree'E turned and scurried off as quickly as she could.
"Enough." A voice boomed through the minds of all dragons and dragonspawn, causing all to look up. A dragon-shaped cloud of ash floated overhead.
"This Moot began as an attempt to foster peace and unity, not to become a bloodbath." The dragon-cloud said, speaking to all. "No more. I, Paren, forbid it by the power of my master, Agni."
The Dragon-cloud opened its mouth and breathed out a wave of shimmering power that washed over the Leviathan, pushing it downwards, phasing it through the earth and causing it to dissapear beneath the surface, leaving two shining Sun-orbs resting on the rocks. With their reinforcements gone, the Dragonspawn offensives faltered and failed beneath the continued attacks of the true Dragons, until the last dragonspawn fell, and an unnatural silence came over the battlefield.
Paren descended and perched on the Mootstone itself.
"The beast is not dead, nor are its children. I lack that power. It is trapped, beyond this world, but not disconnected from it. In order to maintain it in its prison, it is necessary for a... release valve... to be built into its cell. Once enough Dragonspawn are created, they will escape, pushed out by the plane itself. Many will be lost in the space between the worlds, but some will emerge here. You and your children must destroy them, from now until the end of all things."
Paren descended and perched on one of the Suns, his wing brushing the other one. As he did so, the red orb above turned green.
"Now, we have something to discuss. But I will wait until the rest of our kin arrive."
~The Frozen Lake~
The red orb turned green, and below, the ice began to slowly melt.
The Magma was starting to run out in the City. And without Magma, there was no sustenance for the Azer. The roving bands of brigands and former soldiers had grown more and more desparate, turning on one another for remaining supplies of heat. The ground was littered with corpses, and many of the smaller groups had been completely wiped out.
But in the compound of the Temple of Agni, life continued. Alone among the Azer, the priests of Agni, the pyromancers, knew the secret of opening a portal to the Source of All Flame and drawing heat and magma out of the home of their God. The compound, which now encompassed an entire block, was full of refugees and cripples who had sought shelter here.
Galfe looked out from his tower room at the borders of the compound, seeing the usual patrols of the largest mercenary bands. It had been at least a week since the last time one of them had tried to break into the compound... the High Priest imagined they would try again soon. The Pyromancers had tried to provide their services to the other groups in what remained of Sil Arkesh, but after three of their number had been kidnapped or killed, they did not leave the compound. That meant that this compound was the only place to get the life-sustaining heat that the Azer used as food, and that made it a target.
Suddenly, a shiver went down Galfe's spine, and he got the distinct impression that something was watching him. He turned, and saw a strange shimmering in the air just behind him. A place where the world seemed to... warp and twist around something unseen which floated in the air.
Two long arms darted out of the anomaly, grabbed the Azer and, before Galfe could shout for help, dragged him in.
2 PP: Create Plane: The Leviathan's prison. What it sounds like. Will periodically eject a sizable group of Dragonspawn.
2 PP: Command Land: The land around the Mootstone is linked to the Leviathan's prison. Just before the Leviathan's Prison spits out Dragonspawn, a cave will form. Until this cave is sealed, more dragonspawn will be released.
The thousand faces of Agni glared at Seg.
Speak. Why do you remain silent? We have promised you our protection. While you... muster your courage, I shall return my posession to where it belongs.
Agni breathed on the Sun-Orb, and it began to rise up to the heavens, moving slowly to the west on the long-abandoned route that Agni had commanded it to. As it rose, it grew brighter and began to burn, tounges of flame shooting from it into the air. Suddenly, it pulsed a particularly powerful burst of flame and divine power and scores of dragons seemed to burst from the flames, scales as golden as the orb that had birthed them. En-masse, the dragons circled the Sun and followed it up, forming an honor guard around the returned orb. As the Sun reached the ancient Line of Fire, the gold dragons left it and headed south, a flowing flock of golden scales and beating wings.
Agni looked down as they flew south.
Unexpected! Brilliance. He said, laughing.
~The Eternal Volcano~
Scorch turned as extra light touched the lip of the Volcano and watched as the new Sun moved above the caldera. He looked at the orb he had found.
"You know... I bet that this..." He said, trailing off. The Agni'Vohda/Parasite-Smoke-Demon wrapped the orb in its essence, and rose with it up to the sky. As the orb rose, it began to shake and lurch from side to side, and Scorch had to hold onto it tighter and tighter to prevent it from rolling free and falling back to earth. Higher and higher he rose, until the Sun burst into flame. Scorch was knocked free of the Sun and fell, dazed to earth, where he hit the ground to the west of the Eternal Volcano and all went black. The sun rose and joined the other, and both grew brighter in proximity to one another.
Paren looked up as the Sun rose to the heavens. He looked at the two orbs he was guarding. The one he was perched on, he still had use for. The other, however, he was more than happy to return to its rightful place.
Rise he commanded to the Sun which had once fallen into the tunnels of Sil Arkesh, which had burned the capital of the dwarves and birthed both the Slaadi and the Orange dragons. A small portal to the Source of All Flame opened beneath the Orb, and it rose to the heavens on a narrow pillar of flame, soon sparking and bursting to life like its brothers.
3 AP: Raise three of the Suns (Badlands, Sil Arkesh, Eternal Volcano) back to the heavens to join the Beacon.
OOC: I'd like to bring all of the Suns back. There are three left. One is under the protection of Paren, and will go up as soon as he makes the dragonborn. One is still in the north, and is unattended. That should be easy enough to raise up. And one... doesn't exist anymore, which... I'd like to figure out how to reverse. Forgotten: 1) How can we do this? 2) Feel free to take back Scorch/Ka'Vah... he's done what I wanted him to do. I plan to have Krr'Ree'E run across him shortly.
~The Northern Glaciers~
The Northern Light was surrounded by hundreds of White Dragons. They were, for the most part, not intelligent enough to know that this was an immense artifact, something touched by deific hands dozens upon dozens of times. But it was cold, and it glowed, and the White Dragons liked both of those things.
And so when The Northern Light rose in the sky to resume its long-diverted orbit, the White Dragons followed, flying south.
- 1 AP The Northern Light resumes its orbit as one of the seven suns.
- 1 AP Enhance the affinity between the sun and the white dragons - as long as the Northern Light continues to orbit (and a white dragon basks in its glow), their temperature remains cold enough to think clearly. (Previously, they could only 'store coldness' in the vicinity of the sun)
Sa spoke up where Seg was silent.
"Then let usssssss speak in itsssssss stead. There are forcesssssss that seek destructionsssssss for their own endsssssss. It seeksssssss destruction for destruction'sssssss sake, a massssssss of spiritsssssss. It erred when it sought out thisssssss"
Sa's petals briefly swirled around the God of Deception. "It thought itselvesssssss unobserved, but we were present and observed itsssssss skulkingsssssss."
"It isssssss what corruptsssssss the sunsssssss and sendsssssss great beastsssssss acrosssssssss these landsssssss. We believe that Artun, and thisssssss healer Seg are linked to those spiritsssssss."
~The GodMoot (why not...)~
Agni leveled a flat stare at the swirling petals.
Yes, I had come to the same conclusion myself. The identity of these spirits or forces remains to be revealed, however.
~The Godmeet~ (check your vowels, Toph!)
There was a brief swirl of petals, then thoughtful stillness.
"We think that perhapsssssss, their identitiesssssss are meaninglessssssss. It doesssssss not matter what they are, as long as we prevent their evilsssssss, yesssssss?"
Again, the petals halted, nearly frozen in mid-air. Sa was still for many moments, apparently lost in thought.
---The GodMoot (Why not Indeed)---
Azgo's discipline slipped, and he could not help a slight amount of scorn drible into his ancient voice.
"Yes Agni, imprisonment always works... and tell me, what is the easier foe: A Lion, or a hive of wasps?"
Azgo's blind head swiveled towards Sa.
"Meaningless? No, not meaningless. But i feel you are right in your... priorities. First learn where it is, and stop it if possible. But knowledge is a powerful weapon. The origin of this creature should be known, and kept vigil for in the future."
Azgo waited, growing less and less content with the effeciency of this meeting. Azgo reazched out for Seg, but thought better of it, and instead loomed over the smaller god. His maul glimmered in the sunlight.
"Agni, why is this servant silent? We have little time for children's games! If you refuse to do what is neccessary, hand him over to me!"
Give him time, Azgo. Cooperation is new to him, and it is very clear he is quite afraid of whatever his master is.
They came. Drawn from all corners of the earth, the dragons came to the Mootstone, which had bathed in the blood of dozens of dragons, drinking in the essence of DragonKind itself and broadcasting an irresistable call. From under the earth, where they had scattered, the Orange Dragons crawled to the surface. From the east, still flecked with the ichor of the Behemoth, the Azure Dragons flew over the Mootstone, circled and came to land not far away. The Red and Black dragons, tired from their long battle against the Leviathan and its minions, huddled against the Earth and licked their wounds as they surveyed the ruined corpses of many of their kin. From the North, minds blessed by Sa, the formerly bestial White Dragons flew a complicated greeting overhead and settled their serpintine bodies to the ground. And from the West and Above, flying down from the restored Suns themselves, dragons the color of liquid sunlight expertly landed just south of the Mootstone.
Paren looked out from his perch atop the last remaining untapped DragonOrb. Beneath him, he could feel the latent energy pulsing, waiting to be released. Around him, he saw his kind, arrayed in all their colors, a living tapestry of life. Agni would be proud of what he had created, even if Paren knew now it had not been intentional. They had been separated, like the suns, for so long, but their great division was ended now. The Moot would truly begin.
A low droning noise escaped from Paren's ashy body, a subtly modulating tone that carried within it a strange, syncopated rhythm. It carried through the crowd, cutting beneath the words spoken from one dragon to another, unnoticed. Another drone joined his, an Orange Dragon not far from the edge of the circle of Dragonkind. After a moment, it fell into rhythm, and the drone carried on. Another Orange Dragon joined in, then another. Then, a new sound, higher, weaving a string of tones over the base rhythm of the Orange Dragons. An Azure Dragon, looking surprised and bewildered at the music escaping its lips, was joined by another, and another, and the Song grew. The Red dragons were next, Morenth's voice leading a careful harmony that slid into and out of concordance with the Azure song. And the Song grew. Next, the White Dragons, letting out a high descant that danced along with the syncopation of the Orange Drone while strengthening first the azure notes, then the red notes of the base song itself. And the Song Grew. The Gold Dragons joined next, rich melody drawing the red and azure into a whole. And the Song Grew.
Paren looked over at Cantorix and his voice whispered in the black dragon's head:
You lead the Black Dragons, Cantorix. Join us, the song is so nearly complete. Let the Moot Truly Begin.
I have plans for either direction, so if the black dragons think this is all to 'pretty', that is completely fine
~The West (sorry, forgetting the continent name)~
The arrival of the Itholians had taken the Insuannon by surprise. Songs of terror raced from tree to tree, describing the deaths of several of their kind at the axes, arrows and even hands of the new inhabitants of the western shores. Rumormongers even recounted tales of the savages EATING Insuannon brought down by their weapons. Unable to fight effectively against the superior tools of the Itholains and unable to communicate, the Insuannon found themselves traveling deeper and deeper into the forest, towards the mountain that lore said they were never meant to go near.
Twill, an Insuannon just past his adult molt, raced up the slope of the mountain, chasing a rumor. No one quite remembered why they were not supposed to travel to the mountain, why they were supposed to stay far away from the upper, cave-riddled slopes. But Twill's grandfather had been a historian, gathering and preserving in his own mind the fading lore-songs of the Insuannon people. Twill could still remember the night, about a year before his grandfather had died, when he had sung a peculiar song... an ancient song about ice warriors who guarded the mountain, who guarded a secret. It seemed absurd, and was the only song Grandfather knew about the subject, but the old man had shared it with him when Twill still thought he wanted to follow in his grandfather's flightpath.
And now it was leading Twill onward, hopefully to the salvation of the Insuannon people. Finally, Twill dove into a large cave, and stopped abruptly.
Dozens of carved stone chairs lined a corridor that sloped downward into the mountain proper. On each chair slumped a crystaline being, head bowed, weapon of ice barely held, if at all. Twill breathed in with shock and a small gasp escaped his beak.
Immediately, the eye of the nearest being snapped open and a glowing, cold blue gaze bore into Twill.
3 AP: Shape Populace: Crystallines - They look like shardminds from 4e.
3 AP left.
Azgo loomed even closer over the relatively small form of Seg.
"He has much greater things to fear... Perhaps the Abyss would calm his nerves."
Azgo felt no pleasure at all in threatening the god, but the necessary was indeed necessary.
And if Anyone, in all the wide feilds and nooks of creation, knew of pain and its infliction... it was The Crowned in Blood.
It had been over so quickly... One moment, the dragonspawn had threatened to overwhelm what little opposition was left, and suddenly, the marsh of flesh and sinew had been casted out. The dragonspawn gone, and light broke out over the Moot.
Cantorix's mind was still steeped in blood and the Wrath. Everything was muddled, and the differences between dragonkin and dragonspawn were slim. Cantorix stumbled towards the nearest dragon with claws upraised, and shambled into collapse. The ice cold waters about the Moot stone were clouded with blood, and they numbed his tissues.
Though the mind was eager, the body could not bear another step. Bone fragments rattled about in his heaving lungs before being clogged with mucus. Thick serpentine bruises marked the whole of his limbs, and gaping holes in the skin let blood and swollen organs relax. His leathery wings were torn like bedsheets and beat uselessly against the wind. And in a few places the claws and even a few fingers of dragonspawn were embedded in the flesh as if they had been there all his life.
Pain welled up like a geyser in his broken body, only to be carelessly ingored. Battle still consumed Cantorix. He attempted to crawl towards the nearest dragon, sizing them up for the dealing of death. It was clear that the Wrath had seized and destroyed him.
Or, it would have. But something pierced the burdensome veil of his mind. Amid all the cries for blood and the echoes of bones breaking, a shard of true draconic essence drifted upon the wind and rang about his mind. It was more than the Wrath, more than the Pain. It was... what it was. The shadows of blood were cast into light, and the distant demands of Azgo were drowned out in the chorus. Something stirred in Cantorix, and in all the Black Dragons caught up in the Wrath.
And yet, it was incomplete.
Over the course of several, long seconds, Cantorix's mind returned to him, filled with wonder. He tried to stand, but found himself inable to. His breathing grew heavier.
He couldn't explain it, what he felt. What They felt. Or what he did next. But he did it with little hesitation. He sang. All of them did, but it was different from the others.
For the Black Dragons sang a dirge. Its notes were haunting and heavy on the heart, flowing into an undercurrent beneath the song that bore upon itself all the other notes. For it was on the shoulders of pain, and loss, and misery that all the other emotions rested. It was on the shoulders of the strong that the weak flourished, and in the arms of death that victory was paid for.
The loss of the ancestors felt as sharp as the loss of their brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers and sons and daughters.
But aside from all the pain was a strong, if subtle,... bitterness. It was an ugly bitterness and horrid company to those who felt it. For only now did the Black dragons keenly understood that this pain, this loss, would always continue untill Duty itself crumbled. As long as the Wounded One lived, as long as Craterspawn flocked to the skies, and as long as there were followers of his ways, it was the Duty of Black dragons to die for the good of all. They could not escape it. And that was embittering.
But a few did not sing. A few Ebon Dragons fled in the chaos to the wild expanses of the world below. And it was there that they plotted vengence upon the foreign dragons and all who aligned with them.
Seg took a deep breath and opened his mouth -
Paren's ash form lit up with appreciation as Cantorix and the other black dragons began to sing a dirge that resonated deep beneath the other music, and brought it to completeness. It was fitting, that the darkness of pain and death was what underlay the beauty of the combined draconic races. Paren's conciousness flitted around the gathered dragonkind, soaking in the song and seeing how it affected each color of dragon. Some, such as the red dragons, accepted the entire song. The joy, the despair, the happiness, the anger, all combined into a whole. Others, however, resisted. The Gold dragons, born moments earlier, rejected the sorrow. The whites sang their angry descant louder in an attempt to drown out the happier tones. And the Blacks, for so long caught up in their rages, refused anything but the unhappy notes that resonated through several of the lines of harmony.
Paren cast his voice outwards, speaking into the mind of each gathered dragon.
"Do not resist. This is dragonkind, all of it. The worst parts and the best." He looked at representatives of each race as he spoke. "Each of you, each kind, was born from sorrow and even death. The Reds, first born, born from the bones of Craterspawn and the souls of Agni'Vohda who struggled and died above you. Whites, born from the death of an entire city of elves. Blacks, born from the remains of a great battle and scarred at the level of your psyhche by the place of your birth. Oranges, born likewise from Craterspawn bodies, set to fight at the moment of your creation. Azures, born from the deaths of the Nix and the sorrow of the humans. Golds, born from the immolated corpses of an entire Craterspawn legion. This is your heritage, the spark of life, the spark given by death that allowed the power of the Gods to flow through these orbs and bring you to life.
But to those of you who feel that your only option is these baser, darker emotions, as that is your heritage, look around. Reds, decimated by the explosion of the Eternal Volcano, you have found the meaning of family in your times of trouble. Whites, by the power of the Gods, your anger has been tempered and your cold, calculating nature has revealed itself. Oranges, gifted with the powers of Pyromancy, you and your kin saved an entire race and learned the meaning of honor. Blacks, born of chaos and cast from your birthplace by an angry God. You came together and formed rules and a means by which to tame your natures. You have learned the meaning of discipline. Azures, your lives guarding the Beacon, now returned to its rightful place with its sisters, taught you the lesson and meaning of duty. And Golds, summer children born as the Suns returned to the heaven, you personify the meaning of joy.
I speak of what you have learned for a reason. Once, there were seven suns. Six were cast to earth and lost, for a time. All seven were gifted with the ability to create dragons. Look around you. Six of those orbs fulfilled their purpose, birthing all of you in your rainbow of experiences and knowledge. But one, one Orb remains.
Paren hopped from the orb and wrapped his forearms around it, lengthinging his limbs to accomodate the size of the Sun.
This one. But this one is different, is it not? It has not been primed for creation by Craterspawn... mindless killing machines. It has not been primed by the fear of the Nix or the corpses of the elves. This Orb, my kin, was primed by us. By dragon blood spilled over it. Those of you who can, reach out and feel the power within. This, friends, is the last DragonKind, and with our combined knowledge and experience, we will teach this kind to be the best of all of us.
Paren unfurled his ashen wings and lifted the orb from the earth, flying high into the sky above the Mootstone. As the dragons below craned their heads upwards, Paren let the orb drop.
The orb landed directly on the tip of the Mootstone, the sharp tip cracking it open like an egg and spilling divine power down its sides. As the golden light slid down the stone and hit the earth, it underwent a dramatic transformation, the liquid potentiality shifting and morphing itself into hundreds of tall, scaled men and women of all the colors of Dragonkind, who dragged themselves to their feet and stood, staring, at the assembled dragons surrounding them.
Behold! Paren said after a moment. The Dragonborn.
0 AP (already paid... a VERY long time ago): Shape Race: The Dragonborn. Dragonborn come in six colors (the colors of the dragons), and individual temperments of the dragonborn tend to mirror those of the color of dragon they are.
More on this later... time for bed. I'll flesh out my idea for this game's dragonborn tomorrow.
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