Sa's petals fluttered, then abruptly aligned to a 45 degree angle. It was a quizzical expression. The petals hummed for a moment, thinking.
"I do not know. Perhapsssssss better to say only that I exissssssst."
The petals relaxed and resumed their placid spiraling.
"Asssssss to how you look -- monotonousssssss."
And Artun realized what Sa spoke was true - the two of them were composed of little else than Deathbloom petals: Black, odious, and oily. But then, the Garden of Twilight had not exactly lent itself to variety.
Sa's petals rustled once more, as something occurred to him.
The flower was old. It's end time was drawing near.
That made It sad. It had bound itsself to that flower in the early days, shortly after Zebus had vanished. It had guarded the flower ever since. Not that there was much to guard against in the world. But in the peaceful time, It had learned every petal, every leaf, every fleck of pollen, of that flower. It stood between it and gusts of wind, when such arose, to shield it. It went down to a river to fetch it water when it was thirsty. It wasn't an exciting life, but it was a fulfilling one.
That wasn't why It waited, though.
Through the grass an abomination crept. More work of Zebus, no doubt. It looks faintly like an angels, but it was wrong. As wrong as death. On that, both It and Other-It agreed.
The moments slipped by, and Other-It spoke calming words to It. They had to wait until just the right moment. Just as it was distracted by the flower...
It rose up from the underbrush like a prayer. Sword in hand, It charged. It screamed the ancient scream, the cry of agony, the cry that Zebus had taught them. It was the shout against injustice.
Other angels arose from their hidding places and descended on the corrupted one. It was over in a moment. When the odds were one on one, an angel was likely to fall. But fifteen on one? None of the angels had even been hurt.
The creature wasn't dead. That was a special punishment, one that It hoped to someday truly give to Zebus. No, it wasn't dead. It was cleansed.
A guardian angel arose from where the monster had fallen. Freed from the curse, its second soul returned to the first one, which had been left in the husk, confused, and tormented by alien powers.
From far behind a mask of leaves, weaved together, was passed forward. The restored angel gladly accepted it and put it on. Cheers rose up. A lost brother/sister had been returned to them.
It smiled, though no one else could see, hidden as it was behind his own mask. But it was short lived.
The flower had died.
Freed from his obligation in this world, It turned south. Perhaps it was time that It took up service with Agni... no, he was too hot-headed. Pruinus might be better. Yes, Pruinus.
1AP - Nourish Guardian Angels: Their numbers expand. Additionally, the guardian angels gain the ability to turn others back into guardian angels. The chance of this happening is relatively higher, since it's just returning something to its (more) original form. However, that is balanced by the fact that generally guardian angels don't hunt other angels, and are themselves somewhat weaker, being a race broken by Zebus. More guardian angels are likely to fall to others in the first place.
Marcus found the littlest god sitting, his back against a tree, in the middle of a tall forest. There was no way to tell how far the forest extended, but, at least, the smells made it seem extensive.
Zebus' sword was on the ground next to Leaf. The god himself was bent over a seed, fiddling with it. He almost agreed to Marcus' words, but stopped himself. He had thought that the words had come from his own self-doubt, not someone else. He could express doubts to himself and, perhaps, a close advisor, but not the common rabble. They had to see him as a leader.
"Oh!" he said, shocked at the sudden appearance of someone else. The seed was done, and he tossed it in a pile. Several piles surrounded him, and many more were scattered around the forest floor. Each had a little sign next to it, labeling what the pile contained.
"Oh?" he asked. He looked the other god up and down for a moment. The other seemed a little disheveled and, more importantly, young. He was not one of the elder gods.
"Oh," he said, turning to look at the sword itself.
"What time is it?" He waved at a tree. A section of its trunk separated itself from the rest, but the tree thumped down and healed itself. No harm done. The disk of wood flew to Leaf. He hummed as he reached for a different disk that was laying nearby. He inspected them side by side for several moments, and then pointed at a ring on the older one. "I completely lost track of time."
"I do wish I could stay and chat, but you didn't make an appointment ahead of time, and it seems I am almost running late."
Leaf hefted the sword back onto his shoulder, and as he did so, Marcus could see that a little tag was tied to it, and that on that tag was written the name of the ice goddess. "If you want to talk, then you'll have to walk."
The tiniest god headed north, stepping between piles of seeds. There must have been thousands there. He set a brisk pace.
As he walked, he assumed that the other god was following, and he began to respond to his questions. "Of course it's calling. It started shortly after I promised it that I would give it to Lady Pruinus. I do not know the extent of your education, but she is one of the elder gods. This sword is from a different elder god. Which means that, even if it wasn't already on hold for her, I couldn't give it to you. It would default to anothger elder god. There's an order to follow, you know. Can't go around doing things just because you want to."
Leaf paused for a moment, thought, and then resumed his march. They soon left the god's forest behind. "Pruinus is not as much of a stickler for rules as I am, though. She might be willing to give it to you. Might not. Can't say, but if you want it, she's the one to talk to."
As west gave way to north, Leaf asked the other god, "Do I know you... you seem familiar... Have you made any plants lately?"
Sorry, Raven: Artun isn't exactly the best conversationalist in the world. But, then, vain people seldom are... But if it's any consolation, Artun can be a punching bag, either physically or verbally, if you so desire.
"Monotonous?" Artun asked. His voice was low, and the petals of his form slowed their swirl noticeably.
"As for how I want to look, I want to look like I do. I am absolutely perfectly beautiful in every way."
There was perhaps too much selfsatisfaction in Artun's voice as he said that.
"Though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? Oh, that's good. You should remember that I said it. But yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If I look monotonous, well then deary, you need to work on what you think beauty is."
"Are there others, beside you and me? If so, they simply must see how wonderful I look."
Time had passed and Thereus had wandered the world. There was much to see but yet little. The world..was yet young and there was little life to see other then grass, a few berries and the winged offsprings of one of the "Other" Gods. These creatures were interesting enough for Thereus to study at a distance, always hidden of course as he had little desire to converse with anyone at the moment.
They..and their actions made him..eager though. Eager to get started with his own plans. He needed land to start them of..and as of yet the world's surface seemed to be largely unclaimed. The problem was though that there were other God's up there. Small Gods that quarreled with each other rather than doing something useful and productive. God's he did not want to share a world with.
Therefore he decided to make a world for himself hidden away from the Others. A world hidden in the darkest dephs of the world. The Smith proceeded to dive in to the ocean, swim down to the place where he had been born and from there he began to dig himself a hole down to the world's centre. Sealing the entrance after him with magma, there in the darkness he would be able to work undisturbed..there his creations would be left alone..and there he would forge the tools necessary for a God such as he.
"Worshippers?"Artun said. The word was like honey on his tongue. "Oh that is a delightful idea!"
The swirl of petals that were his appearance paused for a moment, as if listening to something, but there was no noise that Sa could hear.
"Yes yes, don't worry about that,"Artun stated inexplicably. Realizing he wasn't alone (it was hard for him to remember that other people existed when not directly interacting with him), he cleared his throat (an odd noise to come from a swirl of petals, to be sure), and looked around.
There was water and shrubs and flowers around, but no creatures. At least, not that Artun recognized at first. There were odd... things in the place. Standing fairly still, hovering, really, over random bits of plant life. Artun would have thought that these were just more, stranger, plants had not a dark creature stalked into the crown and killed one.
The god blew over toward a still standing one and saw that it had a somewhat pleasing form, but it's face was covered by a mask. He reached out, pulled it away, and recoiled in horror.
"Good me, what happened to its face? It's hideous! It's unimaginaably repulsive! It's... it's... not me!"
"Did you make this?" he asked Sa, though he hadn't bothered to find out its name, yet. It hadn't yet occured to him that other creatures might have names, and even if that had occured to him, the fact that he should care enough to learn them was as of yet still beyond him.
"Tsk tsk tsk, you should try better. But,"Artun said as he leaned in closer, careful to avoid the travisty that was its face, "these creatures do have potential."
"Come," he commanded the angel. "Worship me!"
It looked over at him, shrugged, and continued its vigil. "Bah, they have no appreciation of beauty. What they need is a little longing."Artun touched his nose knowingly, although the motion was somewhat lost on a swirl of petals that had neither nose nor hands to touch it.
Artun grabbed the creature forcefully and tore it in half. The result was... messy. However, Artun raised his hands in front of him and intoned: "Come, Ancient Spirits, transform these deformed husks into worshippers worthy of me!"
Whisps of smoke stretched out from the swirl of flowers and wrapped around the messy pulp that had been the angel. The two halves were made whole, and more. Instead of beings of vapor and essence, they were given blood and bone. And legs, too. The single soul in each half reacted differently to the power that surrounded them, shifting the body to suite their preference. Bigger here, smaller there, and ... Artun was entirely lost as to what was going on over there.
The faces, too, were changed. Instead of the gross caricature of over-expressed emotion, they were given a degree of subtlety.
"There, now, worship me!"
The two humans looked at Artun and saw perfect beauty. They fell down to the ground and worshipped him... well, that one on the left sort of fell to the ground, and sort of stood up, too. Artun was entirely lost as to what was happening there.
3Ap Modify Populace: Create Humans. Artun turns guardian angels into humans. Yay! The residual divine energy lets these first ones see the gods, although that will vanish as soon as it isn't convenient for the story.
Sa's petals danced lightly over these newest creatures, causing them to cry out in fearful exctasy as they were harshly tickled by one thousand swirling, petals.
Sa retreated, then "knealt" close to the mortals. They needed help if they were to survive, these worshippers of Artun's.
A single resonant note emerged from Sa, and a shockwave of new growth expanded to fill the regions surrounding the Garden of Twilight. Thousands of flowers sprouted, grew tall, blossomed, withered, and began again, all in a matter of moments.
Eschewing words entirely, Sa pressed its conciousness into the minds of the humans.
For food -- the humans were bombarded with images of edible plants and flowers - brocolli, cauliflower, and the like
For drink -- a singular vision of the darklustre flower, which could be brewed into a potent darklustre lager
For cloth -- pictures innumerable of Flax, Cotton, and their ilk.
For worship --one last searing image of the'Artun', a strong, hardy flower who's petals bloomed into a mirror-like sheen, which shone with the perfect reflection of whomever held it in their hand.
As the tide of flowers shook the region (and sent a magnificent cloud of petals and seeds high above the mountains), Sa took the opportunity to shed the petals of the Deathbloom for a more varied selection.
That done, Sa reached down and plucked a pristine Artun from where it was blooming, and proferred it to its eponymous namesake.
1 AP - Nourish: Dozens of species of useful flowering plants spread throughout te regions surrounding the Garden of Twilight. Nearly every one can be brewed, eaten, milled, processed (cloth / paper), or otherwise used. 1 AP - Command: Humans develop agriculture, making good use of the flowering plants, and cementing their continued survival around the garden (for now, anyway!) 5 AP remain
Artun was touched by Sa' gift. No one had ever given him something as beautiful as himself before. He held it for hours and days and weeks before mustering enough will to respond. "Thank you. I am so very pretty."
"Oh, and thank you for providing for those worshippers, I guess. It's good that they wont starve, right? Gives them longer lives to worship me."
As Onus sat recuperating, he felt movement. Something was stirring though it was hard to tell what. He had spent so much energy in such a short burst. But, this warranted investigating. Unfolding his wings he stretched and stood. He scanned the area in all directions around him, he could feel the stone and earth being moved, but the source was not visible from where he stood. Turning back to the crown, he saw a brilliant burst of color flair over the mountains. Curious, but that was not what he felt. He looked over the mountain home of the Galeb Duhr. Many of them had stopped and made homes, settling into communities. But, there were still more moving inexorably towards the end of the mountain chain. This was a source of moving stone, but not on the scale he was feeling.
Then, a thought occurred to Onus. If the disturbance was the moving of Stone, then perhaps his creations could assist him in finding its source. He knew where it was not coming from, but he was not of this planet. The Galeb Duhr were formed from the very land here though, and may be better suited to a task such as this.
Launching himself into the air he flew over the mountains, stopping a little less than halfway through the trip. There. There was one Galeb Duhr who was farther than the rest. Landing beside the mountain that held the little figure, his voice boomed out, You have traveled farther than any... What is the name you are given, Galeb Duhr?
The small voice replied, I am called Cumbrous, O Great Mountain. It is an honor to have you appear before me, though my journey is not complete. Cumbrous, I decree that the direction of your journey be... changed. Somewhere out in the world... stone is being moved, on a grand scale... not by my hand. It is... curious, and I desire to know it. Gather a band of fellows... search out this disturbance, then call to me so that I may find you. As you command, Stone-Steeped creator. I shall obey and honor your commands.
Then Onus returned to the world crown, curious to see these strange new disturbances.
AP 1: Command Populace- Seek out Therues' cavern. AP remaining: 3