As humans moved out of the crown, some went north. It was a harsh direction, a cold direction. Water was frozen, food was frozen, it was as if life itself was frozen.
It is said that the first travelers, fleeing woe, headed north with nothing but their lives and hope. The day was bitter cold, but liveable. The night, though, was so frigid that there was no difference between snow and death. The people had nothing. They huddled together for warmth. One man, on the outside of the huddle, believed that his time was nearly upon him and did not wish to bring the horror of death to those he loved. Half asleep with death, he stumbled away from the others and disappeared into the woods.
As death tried to claim him, he began to feel warm and thought he saw a light. This, he thought, wasn't such a bad way to die. He'd rather live, of course, but at least death was warm.
But the seconds lengthened into minutes, and minutes into hours, and the man found that he was not dead. The warmth was not a false phantom of Zebus, but a fire. A branch had seen his plight and taken pitty. It had torn itself off from its tree, stuck itself in the ground near the man, and summoned out the fire from with it. The warmth had kept the man alive, given him sense again. He stood up and marveled. The little branch, though it burned, didn't seem to be consumed. Even odder, it had the shape of a little man.
Seeing that the human was awake, the little branch got up and helped him collect deadwood. Together they returned to the huddle of people and built a blazing fire. Warmed and saved from deaht, the people thanked the little branch. The branch smiled, plunged its head into the snow to put out its fire, and went back into the forest.
1AP: Nourish - Northerners. Peope move north of the crown and learn to live in the cold environment, with the little help of a kindly woodland spirit that they come to call Brother Branch
~The World at Large~
The Other-Enemy, the eater of souls, approached. It was waiting, along with a batallion of Guardian Angels. It had dedicated himself to Pruinus, to fullfil a primal urge. It had heard her anguish at the actions of this god, and her will that he be stopped. That this one hurt Pruinus was enough to encite the battle lust. That Pruinus commanded punishment for it was enough to merit the frenzy. But the foul god also ended life, had broken the ancient laws, perverted the natural way, and there was one punishment for that. The fabled blade, called Godslayer, called Zebus' Bane, called Lifeshield and Deathkiller and Lawkeeper and Truthsayer and a hundred other names, was to be drawn again.
It was not alone: the batallion was a thousand strong. Other angels dedicated to Pruinus were there, but their numbers were bolstered by those angels who had guarded the life that this god had ended. They wanted revenge.
A thousand masked angels, filled with rightous anger, fulled by the overpowering need to fulfill the ancient commands, attacked the petty newborn god. They were there when death died: this one could hold no horrors for them.
Insanity tried to take them. A fear for each soul, but the angels had two. It helped Other-It overcome Other-Its fears: they seemed odd and not particularly frightening. And Other-It helped It overcome Its fears. If they had been one, the fears would have overwhelmed, but they were not alone, even in their own minds. They walked the middle path, between the fears.
The servants of the soul eater, the soul fiends, tried to stop them. The ancient powers were used again. In days that were already old before the soul eater was born, the angels had restored their fallen kin to their proper form. That power was turned against these blights. The monsters fell, only to be raised again as primal spirits, many of which joined the fight as they could, though a few fled to seek help, drawing others in, and word eventually reached the ears of the Prime Winister.
Then came the Nightwalkers, but again the ancient power was turned on them, and they were restored to what once was. With these, the battalion swelled into a brigade.
And among it all was It, Godslayer in hand. Meaning filled his form, the thrill of justice overwhelmed every fiber of his being. He was again one with his purpose. And his purpose was to kill a god.
1 Nourish: Guardian Angels. The old, restorative powers of the guardian angels are amplified and enhanced. In addition to the old being able to reconvert corrupted angels, they can now restore other creatures to what they once were. As per Raven's good insights, it's a supernatural power. However, it isn't a sure thing. Just as not every fallen angel is restored to being a guardian angel, not every corrupted thing subject to this power is restored. And if the original "body" wasn't involved but the soul is, it just restores the soul to the natural state and lets it pass into whatever afterlife exists and is appropriate.
Well, I was trapped within a horrible monster, then I got out. I'm afraid I can't really tell you what has happened in the world beyond that.
I think I owe you my thanks, LightBringer. Your reactivation of the suns and the beast's response allowed me to call on my - the - Agni'Vohda to come to my rescue.
~The Eternal Volcano~
The Agni'Vohda had returned home to their Caldera to find it surrounded by strange, corrupted versions of the Angels they had fought long, long ago. The Craterspawn perched on the lip of the volcano, not daring to venture into its depths to strike at those Agni'Vohda left behind when the bulk of their peoples had gone south to save Agni.
The returning Agni'Vohda, however, did not have this protection. Then again, the Agni'Vohda were no normal foe. As the first Craterspawn swiped at an Agni'Vohda, spears of fire re-appeared within hands of flame, and battle was joined.
The Craterspawn vastly outnumbered the Agni'Vohda, but found it very, very difficult to actually kill them while the Agni'Vohda lay about themselves with their burning weapons, sending craterspawn after craterspawn spinning wildly down into the lava below. In return, the craterspawn found that swallowing the Agni'Vohda in spark form was an effective means of killing one, at the cost of the life of one of their own. They also found that by pressing an Agni'Vohda against the rocks, it was possible to force the being to convert to spark form.
The corpses continued to fall as battle raged about the Eternal Volcano.
The master had been generous with information. And the minds of its prisoners had been... useable, if not exactly willing, donors.
As such, Seg knew that the being wasn't Pruinus but rather Artun. But that had been what Leaf saw, so that is what he implied he saw.
What did Seg actually see when he looked at Artun? Alas, you can't expect truth from the god of lies.
"Now now now, my dear, uh..." What did Leaf call this one? Oh yes. "Flamberlain, of course this is Pruinus. I can see that as much as anyone. You owe her much. She helped me find you, and while I might have been surprised as well, I did manage to alert the other gods to our sticky predicament and the, uh, large creature's ill a-doings."
Metaphorically speaking, when Seg looked at Artun, he saw a possible fate of himself. And while he didn't feel pity for Artun exactly, the poor fellow had gotten the short end of the stick. If he hadn't tried to help the fire god, he might well have had a place of honor in the world after the master had smashed it. The entire matter made Seg feel somewhat... ill at ease.
The other god, the one Agni tried to burn back to health, died. "Oh dear oh dear oh dear. How unfortunate. Do none of us know who this was? Well, perhaps we might, uh," What was it that Leaf always talked about? Oh yes, "honor this unknown god by taking his death as an object lesson, hmm? Fighting something so... evil, one on one, is ill-advised. Yes? Yes. It is by working together that the world is kept safe from such..."
Seg looked up at the burning mountain-god of a sun. "Such large threats."
Little lord not-Leaf turned in the fullness of time to the bright hyperactive glowy one. "And who, if I might so ask, is this? Another one of your children, Lord Flamberlain? Hmm?"
Again. None of your business, and you are incorrect, TeaLord. This is the being that trapped me, and, if it led you to this cave, it trapped you as well. Regardless, it is not Pruinus. I will not entertain more discussion on this topic.Agni glared down at the small being before him.
Also, we've been over this. I am not a Flamberlain. I hope I don't have to repeat myself on this point again, Leaf. I've recently discovered how very flammable things can become.
Agni looked up meaningfully at the new 'sun.'
This is Urru, TeaLord. Not one of my Children, but obviously... related. LightBringer, what is your ancestry? Do you have relations amongst the Gods?
Had Leaf and Agni talked about the steamy-god's title? Alas, that wasn't one of the bits of information that the master had been able to extract. Or, perhaps, it was just some information the master hadn't passed along.
"Oh right, yes, yes, a thousand apologies, um..." what would Leaf have agreed to call this god, then? There was one name that seemed to appear often and very strongly in Agni's memories, though Seg wasn't clear on it's use. It made sense that it was a name that he'd identify himself as, however. "Supreme Heatlord. As you might understand, being imprissoned can cause things to slip one's mind, hmm?"
However, Seg was rather sure that Leaf wouldn't let another god threaten someone he thought was Pruinus. If not just because that is who Leaf saw when he looked at the most beautiful thing he could imagine, then also because, Seg was fairly sure, he had promised to defend them.
"I believe you've also recently discovered how even your fire can be put out, hmm? Perhaps it is best not to discuss flammability when it seems you are not as authoritative on the topic as we had previously thought, wouldn't you agree, hmm?"
Was that a proper threat? Did Leaf make threats? Seg wasn't entirely sure, so he tried to hurry on. Keep up appearances, but keep moving. That's how a lie was made. Offer just enough truth that it sounds right, even if it isn't, and then hurry on before the deception can be noticed. "But you well know, dear Agni, brother, that I will not truck with anyone or thing manhandling my beloved siblings. Words have been spoken, and all that. I made the same vow to you, yes? I confronted that mountain of a monster, a monster that was able to snuff out even your flame, single-godedly, for your benefit. I fought it, and sacrified my freedom in the hopes that others might be able to assist as well. As repayment, at the very least, more discussion on this topic is obligated by you to me. Wouldn't you agree, hmm?"
Was he laying it on too thick? Would Leaf talk so much, or would he resort to violence? Or would he deny fire and walk away? Seg wasn't really sure. There was too little information to go on, so he made it up as he went. "Would you think I'd abandon our sister at mere assertions that a creature who appears to be her isn't actually her? Evidence, my good flame, where is your evidence? Prove that this one is not our sister, and I will apologize for nosing in unwanted and I will leave the matter entirely in your steamy-hands... ah... face. Verily, if you wish, I would assist you in whatever plans you might have for the thing, for good or ill, to the best of my abilities. But if you cannot, then what option is left to a god like me except to resist any who would harm her? Her welfare is as much my business as yours is."
Are you tauntingme, Leaf? You would DARE to call me by that name?
Agni's eyes flared bright and a hot batch of magma began to froth at his stony lips.
This is unacceptable. Completely Unacceptable. You know that - The god paused, thinking for a moment. I suppose you do not, do you? You were not there. Do not call me that, ever. My name is Agni, and that is what you should call me, TeaLord.
Agni listened to Leaf speak, and grew more enraged as the God continued to speak.
Finally, the puny God grew quiet, and Agni responded with a long, low chuckle that reverberated off of the mountain peaks and across the flame-scarred landscape.
Look around you, Leaf. Was not our captor just as flammable as any other thing?
A rumble and the bit of stone that Leaf was standing on rocketed upwards, God-on-top, to mouth-level with the larger God.
If it was flammable, Perhaps I should experiment on some other Gods, no?
The stone fell to the ground, sending the small God sprawling.
As for your vaunted honor, TeaLord, it was in short supply when you murdered our brother Zebus. Your word that you would call me by my name meant nothing as well. What good are your vows and honor, Leaf? Why do you feel you deserve anything from me?
You wish proof this is not Pruinus? Very well. I see this being as a ball of white-hot heat. Urru, do you still see a prism? Onus, what is it that you observe?
The first colony of primal spirits searched for Leaf. Upon eventually finding him, they whisper into his ear. "Lord Leaf, Pruinus has asked us to convey this message:
"She apologizes for not coming to your aid earlier. She has encountered two other gods; both twisted and truly evil. We only know the names of the first: Azgo, The Blood Crowned. He endures eternal suffering. He wages war on us out of jealousy and hatred. The second we know only as The Soul Eater. He feeds on the spirits, and thus nature and life itself. Pruinus has tried combatting him herself, but his power is great. We hope that as the patron of Life, you will share our enemy in this fight."
Another colony of primal spirits approached the young heroes of nature in their slumber, leaving them messages and a purpose. When these primal warriors awoke, they began to write and document their powers, their relationships with the spirits and their stories and memories of events, to guide those who seek to join their ranks. The most sought after tomes are those that tell of how to defeat the Soulfiends and Nightwalkers. Smaller groups of primal warriors collect this information and bring it together, forming a new order: The Anima Guard. The Anima Guard soon become legends in the world, it is said a single member of the order can defeat an army of Alturius minions. This is exaggeration of course, but they are indeed powerful warriors who over time, slowly turn the tide of war against the Soul Eater.
Non-AP: The primal spirits ask for Leaf for help. Seeing as the gods cannot see through Seg's deception, it is fair to assume the spirits cannot either and they may accidently send the message to him in addition or instead of Leaf. It is upto Pen_Draggin and Thought to decide if the message reaches them or not. However, keep in.mind that the primal spirits communicate with each other constantly and if both Leaf's receive the message they will know and inform Pruinus.
Guide Populace - 1 AP The first primal heroes document their abilities, through extensive study and meditation a mortal with one of these books can become a primal hero. The order of the Anima Guard is also established to fight minions of Alturius. i will most likely develop this into a set of paragon paths in the future. Anima Guard often wear armour of a Black and Silver colour scheme, and can be identified as such. 0 AP Left.
"Taunting? Oh, certainly not, my dear Agni, not in the least," not-Leaf said. Ah, that was a refreshing thing to say. He'd been telling too many truths.
"Truly? There are deities about who take on the guise of other deities? And can appear as many things at once? Fascinating. Well then, by all means, cart away to... whatever it is that you have planned."
Seg was entirely bored by that concept. He had tried to help poor Artun, but he had no desire to stick out his neck for him. Still, he tried to look to the other gods Agni had indicated with rapt interest, to see if they'd confirm the story.
It took a moment before he realized that the real Leaf would likely take umbrage at Agni's accusations. "But I, a murderer? Oh dear me, no no no no no."
"Certainly, your memory is not so..." Seg smiled as he found the right word, "flammable as to have forgotten what transpired? Mine might have been the implement that ended his life, but his was the hand that held that implement."
He looked at the cave that now held the cast of the dead god. "The same cannot be said of that poor god. I do say, was he perhaps an early experiment of yours? To see if other gods were flammable? He seems to have been gravely injured: the magma could not have helped his situation."
You created an army of angels whose purpose was to defeat him and he was defeated. I fail to see how this is not your fault.
If I were to lift a boulder above you and then drop it onto you, would you blame gravity, for that is the force that led to your injury, or would you blame me? You would be right to blame me because the purpose of that rock was to hit you and hurt you.
Agni shook his head at Leaf's next words.
TeaLord, you are a horrible little thing. I do not need to stay here listening to such spiteful words any longer. Farewell.
And with that, Agni left, Artun in tow in the magma/ooze prison, both heading south.
Onus watches and listens to the discussion, or arguement between Leaf and Agni, but does little to intervene, or indeed to show any interest at all. He comments on the stone facade that Artun seems to have when he looks at him, only because he was directly asked. The battle left him weary to his very core. As the others finally quiet down and drift away, Onus sits back down, wrapping his wings around himself again and reaches out to the world with his other senses. He witnesses battles raging across the world, the evil that has been inflicted upon this fledgling place disturbes him greatly. But, he is proud to see that the Galeb Duhr are faring well in the wars.
Considering the battle he had just been put through, he worries, If these wars continue to long, what will become of the strength of my people? Will it fade as mine has? The result could be devastating, and I cannot allow that. Onus ponders this new dilema, sitting motionless for several days before finally deciding on a course of action. Reaching out with his power, he touches every living thing, drawing some strength from each. He binds their power to himself, returning his own strength to full. Looking over the creation, he rewards those that honor him with greater than ordinary strength, and his clerics begin teaching others of the Way of Strength.