The Craterspawn dived from the cover of the thick haze. The clouds burst apart like water thrown into the sky by an unrelenting avalanche. And from within, the sounds of tearing flesh peeled into the sky. More and more crawled up from the creation vats, and in thier firstt steps of life dragged themselves toward the fight. Azgo's wrath trickled into them, bleeding from his presence.
The words pounded the inside of his bleeding foreheads. This thing knew him, and knew him well. Azgo did not want friends... he wanted servants and viziers. A kingdom. As the way it was meant to be. WILL BE.
But the present could not be sacrificed for the future, not yet. He needed... allies. Of all kinds. Surely Leaf was commanding them, rallying them into action. And the others would oblige, eager to slay that which they should have long ago.
This... scholar. Was he trustworthy? Had he proven his loyalty? Had he proven a lack of loyalty? The angels seemed to avoid the gods all together, with little hesitation. Like it had been planned...
But to slay his own forces? To gain his trust? Surely there were better ways...
And this other god, for he could sense its power, what were its loyalties? How long had it been here?But it was right. Pure, ufettered Hate was purely honest.
Azgo ldrew up the pits of hate within him and called council, listening to the voices that he knew intimately. Voices that would have crawled into the minds of other gods and would strike fear. They were him, and he was they. They spoke to him of caution, of suspicion, of plans.
"And how would I use you, one who walks here at their own peril, who feels the fringes of my sickness in their being?" he thought, while guarding his mind with purpose.
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6
Looking down as Agni already starts, he turns to Pruinus. Agni has already started. For life to blossom again new, there must be a cleansing. He will heal the wounds of this land with fire. Take your mortals, get them to a safe haven before the fires get to them, then freeze the world. Turn it into an ice age. Just like Agni is burning it to cauterize the wounds, freeze it to make it better. Once the world thaws, life will begin new just as it would after a long winter. After that, I think we can take care of a mutual problem.
Looking down at Agni, Zebus nods his head in agreeance. He gives Agni the go ahead. You may wish to hurry though, he looks a little excited to get to work.
"A" god of flowers, or "Sa," god of flowers, Seg wondered. After some thought, he decided that he'd assume it had told him its name. Better to be corrected if wrong, as that might seem like he had simply misheard, than to act the fool and ask for information that was already given.
"Greetings then, Sa, Lord of Flowers. I am Seg, god of healing."
He paused, "I say, your's is an interesting form. Did you choose it?"
The Anima Guard rushed into the temple, following the foolish human. The temple was empty, great stone benches and altars toppled and broken into tiny fragments. The Galeb Duhr leader gave the human a heavy whack around the head, the sound echoing through the halls. He grabbed the human by the collar and hoisted him up.
"You damned fool! You could have gotten us killed!"
As his shouts echoed and bounced along the walls of the temple, rumble scraped across the floor and mixed with feeble moans as Humans, Dwarves and Galeb Duhr crawled from their hiding places, begging for help. Despite some horrific injuries, a small glimmer of hope returned to their faces as they saw the Black/Silver armour of the Anima Guard.
Damn, Onyxixus thought to himself. Whilst he was glad to see some survivors, caring for them would make the mission considerably harder. But he was their leader and he would not fail them. He lowered Jayce down and began to command the squad in his rough, gravelly voice that sounded born for leadership.
"Jayce, Thom, Kadihu... stay here with the civillians. Protect em and get em healed up the best you can."
He spat on the floor again, getting a bitter taste out of his mouth.
"Don't leave till we get back. It's still teaming out there with those vermin, we can't risk trying to fight em and babysit the civillians at the same time. We'll continue on foot."
Just then he heard mighty rumblings outside, as though an earthquake had struck the city. That would be just their luck. Onyxixus gave a quick hand gesture for his squad to remain still. Setting an example for the hasty human, he slowly approached the temple entrance. He found it difficult to keep his composed minset as he gaped at the giants laying waste to the Craterspawn. It seemed the Anima Guard would have to share this victory.
Pruinus was shocked at Zebus suggestion. But she understood the logic behind it. "I will help cleanse the world with you only on the condition that we protect as much mortals as possible. They fought this war, it would not be right to remove them just as they claim victory."
King Bernhar, Lord of Frosthaven, Third of Four, ordered his forces to leave the large, Elfanoid creatures alone. They were doing quite well dealing with the corrupted angels: it would be undesireable to interfer with them.
There were other beings in this underground city as well. Men of stone, it seemed. And curiously clumsy looking elves, too. They were thick of limb, and unnaturally tall, but hardy of heart, it seemed. By all appearances, they were the creators of this city. At least, Bernhar had assumed this was a city, once. Then there were the midgets. Bearded midgets. Why were there bearded midgets? If Bernhar hadn't seen some children survivors, he might have thought that these were the thick-limbed one's young. Still, the bearded midgets seemed to be skilled at holding their own. Worthy enough to be left to their own devices, as long as those devices were directed at the corrupted angels.
The simple folk he had met directed him towards the main temple. They said that the leaders of the people could be found in the vague region.
Bernhar walked through the city as an elven king walks. Unafraid and unmolested. Bands of warriors cleared the streets and buildings of monstered before him, like a white wave. Refugees were sent to the rear of the army, to be watched, but also provided a modicum of food. These warm lands were ridiculously lush with food, and it wasn't in the way of the north to leave it. Their supplies were flush, too flush. It would slow them down if they kept it all, and so they shared. Pleanty was rare in the north, but it occured at times, so they weren't entirely unfamiliar with the concept of sharing. Not that they were used to it, either.
Those people who wanted it were also given medical treatment, in the manner of the north. After the first few patients, many survivors decided to go without, and they warned others who trickled in.
When at least Bernhar neared the temple, he saw a stocky-one in black/silver armor. At the very least this one appeared to be more put together than most of the creatures they had found in the city.
"Pruinuscoldone, I think the places you might take the mortal things to might be dark. There is a lot of underground. If you make things cold up on top all around and you go down there, I could make some things to make things brighter. It might be fun. I don't think I've gone down there yet!"
Urru did a quick lap around the gathering and came to a stop next to Zebus. "But if that doesn't happen then what? I don't know if I can help much..." The little being frowned. "Maybe I should think about it more... What do you think, Zebusdeathlord?"
~ ~ ~
The side of the volcano blew apart, a wave of lava pouring down the hillside. Pharos had been helping a losing force curtail a great wave of craterspawn when the downpour moved to engulf her. She swung her weapon against the tide, destroying the lava as it rained down on her. The glowing arms of her scourge moved like wild serpents lashing at the liquid magma. It was not enough, however, and the scorching wave bubbled over them. Quickly the magma hardened into a shell of fresh stone
All was silent, until a glowing fissure spread across the surface. With a loud smash, Corialn blew apart the stone. Pharos rose from the surface, carrying the survivors out of the conflagration. "I was not expecting such an occurrence. Perhaps this land truly is lost..." She turned her eyes skyward, regarding the earthmotes. "Brave soldiers, we may need to think about our defenses from a new angle..."
Onyxixus couldn't help feel a sting of disappointment, having to split the victory between so many parties harmed his ego somewhat.
Still, the pointy eared ones that approached him seemed tough enough, and he respected that. Perhaps the re-taking of Avarom could form an a new alliance.
Onyxixus laid his weapons to the ground as a sign of peace to the newcomers and walked forward alone. If they attacked him he was sure his squad could intervene but nonetheless, this should make negotations easier.
He offered his hand towards the stranger in the centre, he looked to be the finest dressed of their company and presumbly their leader.
"Pleased to meet you. Onyxixus, High Commander of the Anima Guard. This is my squad."
He tried the phrase in as many languages as he knew, hoping these creatures would identify one of the dialects.
He introduced his squad one by one. Members of the four known races were within the squad he choose for this mission. Five Humans, Four Dwarves, Two Galeb Duhr and an Agni'Vohda. The Anima Guard couldn't afford to discriminate, they accepted only the best, but regardless of race or sex.
"We came here in an attempt to drive those foul vermin from this place and claim it back for its rightful inhabitants. May i ask your business here?"
He asked, his nature was friendly enough but he gave the pointy eared stranger a militant gaze, Looking to see if he flinched or looked away. Best to see how tough these people really are.
Sa was silent for a moment, confused. "Form? I have no form. I am. They simply follow me, these petalsssssss."
And Seg knew Sa spoke true. The blossoms that even now danced before his eyes were utterly mundane. But in the presence of Sa, they had been swept up, sticking to the invisible, massless godessence like a storm of colorful burrs.
"I have no need for a body like yoursssssss. What would be the ussssssse?"
The self-proclaimed Lord of Flowers seemed to laugh.
"I need not your earsssssss to hear thingsssssss. I hear well enough already; whispered promisesssssss and promised whispersssssss."
Seg got the impression that Sa was looking downwards, into the heart of the crown valley.
"Whispersssssss of vengeance and shadowsssssss..."
~The Crown~ Agni stared off into the distance, and when he spoke, it was as if his voice was coming from far away.
It appears that there are regions of this world that are attuned to me. From these places, my cleansing shall spread. Many are far from here, but one lies somewhere up there among the motes of earth. ColdMother, as a favor to you, I will withold my fury from it, and those below us shall not perish. I make no guarantees for the others.
It BEGINS. Agni intoned.
The God began to glow, red spreading from white-hot mouth and eyes along the carved lines that ran over the God's form. The minute the red lines touched at the back of the mask, the entire God burst into flames, a pyre ten times brigher than the old sun. Agni rolled backwards to face up towards the heavens, and his eyes closed as he began to laugh.
The band of Craterspawn flew low and slow to the ground, afraid to fly higher and risk the arrows and spears of the Snow Elves who chased them. For three days, the Craterspawn had been trying to find a good place to turn the tables on their foes, racing further and further into the cold North. But at every attempt, they had been routed. In the distance, they saw a craggy glacier, their destination and the best ambush spot they had seen yet. But the elves were drawing closer.
Another hour passed, and the glacier loomed over them. The Craterspawn began to split up, running for different crevasses, when suddenly, the glacier began to glow. Both parties stopped and stared as an orb deep within the glacier became visible, shining through the ice. Moments later, a loud bellowing whistle filled the air as steam trumpeted out of chasms in the ice. The elves turned to run, but only got a few feet before a wave of pressure shattered the glacier along its horizontal axis and fire and ice sped outwards, killing both sides instantly. The ice, drawn by gravity, fell to earth, and the fire rolled over it, melting and then vaporizing it. The fire spread outwards, south towards the homelands of the snow elves, burning up plant and animal alike.
At the glacier, much of the top half of the glacier had escaped destruction. Now, it collapsed down onto the spent and cooling orb, which melted away the ice it came into contact with. The glacier hit the ground and tilted, exposing the bottom of the glacier where the Sun had melted its way inside. A cave mouth gaped, and in its depths, the orb faded back to darkness.
A plume of superheated water raced through the ocean from the hole into which the Sun Orb had fallen, washing over the ecosystem created by the Evil Spirits and boiling many animals alive in their shells, while the plantlife was cooked and dissolved by the rushing water. Fish floated to the surface, pre-cooked.
~The Western Plains~
A last army of Craterspawn had made camp in the middle of a desolate and burned valley, where they found themselves temporarially safe from the Nix, whose appearance had been totally unexpected, and entirely disasterous. Now they huddled in small groups who had grudgingly decided to not kill each other just yet, although such decisions were revised on a minute-by-minute basis. Even now, a grand rearrangement appeared to be taking place as groups of Craterspawn turned on both other groups and each other in a fight for dominance. The eventual winner would lead the flock to victory once more, and the warriors, when not eyeing one another, would often look towards the head of their old leader, now impaled on a spear.
All such jockeying for position ended when the ground beneath them liquified, turning to magma in seconds. With alarmed squawks, the Craterspawn who had been flying at the time watched their landed brethren burn up, some pulling themselves into the sky on burning wings for a moment before falling back to earth. The lake of Magma bulged and flexed, and the Craterspawn could see a white-hot orb at the bottom which pulsed in time with the lake's movements.
A brilliant flash from the orb, and the magma flowed upwards explosively, catching the craterspawn in mid-flight and searing flesh from bone. The magma traveled high into the sky, spreading in every direction before gravity pulled it back to earth. A mix of magma and stone began to rain from the heavens for tens of miles in every direction, some even bouncing off of the slopes of the Crown itself. Where the rain landed, animals were crushed, trees were burned. A band of Nix scouts writhed beneath the searing rain as their fur caught alight. The great redwoods of the Western Forests burned as the magma fell.
Back at the lake, the magma began to collect and cool, eventually forming a broad shallow basin. At the base of that basin, a small portion of the Sun Orb remained exposed to the air as it dimmed.
Giroth fought the strange beasts from the surface. holding, along with fifty of his fellow dwarves, one of eight tunnels into the open caverns of Sil Arkoth, jewel of the Dwarven City-States. The beasts had wings, that was clear, and the dwarves knew that if they were to break free into the caverns proper, the battle would be lost as their wings would give them an advantage the dwarves had, up until this point, been able to negate. It was not that the monsters were mighty warriors. In fact, their wings made them somewhat awkward in tunnel-combat. It was that there were so many of them! For every one that fell, it seemed ten took its place, and no warrior is perfect. The dwarves had been retreating for weeks through the tunnels, and now, here they were at the gates of the city itself.
Giroth locked shields with his brother Galfe, and the two dwarves pushed forward, driving the horrors back a step as along the line the other dwarves did the same. From behind them, others lobbed exposive concoctions that burst among the enemy and caused severe burns and lacerations. They would stand, they would hold. They would...
A warbling cry of panic from the enemy suddenly sounded down the tunnel, and the press of feathers grew even stronger. Surprised, the dwarves began to fall back, wondering at the increasing urgency of the cries if, perhaps, reinforcements from... somewhere... had found them at last.
As the lava rolled around the bend in the tunnel, such hopes were dashed. The dwarves turned and ran along with the Craterspawn as the lava swept towards them. At the lip of the cavern, Giroth threw himself towards a small niche in the wall just as the lava rolled past him, carrying the burning corpses of what seemed like thousands of the enemy. Giroth looked everwhere for Galfe, but the dwarf had been swept over the edge. Horrified and grief-stricken, Giroth looked out at his city. Six of the tunnels into Sil Arkoth spewed forth magma into the great cavern. Over the roar, Galfe could hear the screams of dwarven children as the magma reached the city proper, coursing down streets and into homes, burning indiscriminantly. The great cavern began to fill with magma as a pool is filled with water. Giroth could see dwarves running up towards the upper levels of the city, the mamga following them as they went. The smell of burning flesh brushed his nostrils, and he could feel the heat rising... rising...
Giroth screamed and looked down to see his entire foot burning. In agony, he watched and felt the flames begin to climb his leg, and he beat at the fire ineffectually with his hands, only burning them as well. In agony, he turned and leapt, and as the magma lake below grew near, he thought that at least he would join his brother soon.
Angels fought in the Godcrater. Some were pure of wing, and fought their foes with valor and strength. Others were corrupted of heart, and fought their foes with viciousness and cunning. But the angels fought. Craterspawn wings flew up from the creation vats, met by squadrons of guardian angels who stabbed downwards at their rising foes. Beneath them all, the churning lake of the Godcrater steamed and bubbled.
But was it bubbling... too much?
A glow began to shine in the depths of the lake, barely visible on the surface at first, but growing stronger and stronger until the lake seemed to glow. The light pulsed...
And the lake turned to vapor, a caustic flow of humid air that washed over Craterspawn and Angels alike, burning, scarring and killing indiscriminately as it spread across the entire island the Godcrater resided upon. The creation vats steamed and hissed as the caustic rain fell and the surviving craterspawn tried to hide under the rocky outcroppings that lined the crater.
Slowly, the lake began to refill as the downpour began in earnest. But for now, at the bottom of the once-lake, a glowing orb rocked back and forth, buffeted by strong winds.
Agni opened his eyes.
IT IS DONE. THE WORLD BURNS.
2 AP: Denourish... err... Creation: Devastation spreads from all of the Sun Orbs save the one in the Eternal Volcano (already done) and the one above the Crown. This results in devastation and, in some cases, a slight change in the status of the orb itself. In summary:
1) The Arctic Orb unleashes a firestorm that is currently sweeping southwards, seemingly unstoppable. If you have a race in the way, you can either describe the results or say that the fire dies out before it reaches you (I'm fine with either). The Orb itself is now at the end of a cave in a glacier. (Note: most of the cave is still vertical, so its not an easy find.
2) The Underwater orb has caused devastation to the new underwater Ecosystem, and probably annoyed TASOE. Tag, Thought!
3) The Western Orb has caused a rain of fire all across the western portion of the continent. The redwoods are burning (in places), and the Nix armies may, or may not (up to you, James) be caught in a tight spot right now. The Orb itself is currently about 10% exposed at the bottom of a depression.
4) The Southern Mountains Orb has unleashed a wave of magma that has coursed through and cleansed the tunnels of nearly all life, including all or most of the Dwarven capital city of Sil Arkoth.
5) The Godcrater Orb has vaporized the entire caustic lake within the Godcrater, killing large numbers of angels and Craterspawn in the process. The lake will refill in time (up to you how long that is, Forgotten). The Orb is currently exposed, and surrounded by bones, so this would be a great time to both claim that orb for EVIL and make some dragons (as the bones are a vital part). Remember, its already paid for.
The one in the West is probably dragon-ready itself as well. If someone doesn't claim it by end of the week, I'll describe something forming from it.
1 AP: Denourish Craterspawn: The Craterspawn got the brunt of this apocalypse.
King Bernhar, Lord of Frosthaven, Third of Four, raised a hand and a servant appeared. Though he, like the other elves, was dressed in white furs, Onyxixus hadn't seen from where he had come.
As the thick-limbed elf-thing talked, the servant listened. The odd one first said something that sounded like the barking of animals, then the cracking of ice, then the howling of wind, but finally the servant's face brightened and he responded in similar words.
The servant turned to Bernhar and said, "Glory of the Plains, this one speaks a strange dialect of the second tongue. He sounds like he has licked the ice and gotten his tongue frozen, but we can understand each other."
Bernhar inclinded his head slightly in acknowledgement, and the servant introduced his lord. "Before you stands King Bernhar, Lord of Frosthaven, Third of Four, Glory of the Plains, and chosen warmaster of the north"
There was a pause, and the servant fidgeted nervously. These warmlanders should show their throats in respect. But perhaps they were too uncultured to know decent manners.
The king smiled as slightly as snow. He spoke, and the servant translated. "A welcome, High Commander Onyxixus of Anima Guard, snow hide you. I have come, and the army of the people have followed. We drove these creatures from the north. We hunted them here, last where they remained. They remain no longer."
"We have food, and supplies. Those in need might seek us. Distribute the word."
Queen Gisa, Lady of Thawhold, Second of Four, stood atop the breakwall. There had been a strange light in the north. That was worrying. The light was now fading. That was also worrying. There were no good omens in the northlands.
She turned and sent word for her people to make their way to the caverns below the settlement. Thawhold was the only place where the ground could be excavated: everywhere else, if it could even be dug down to, it was as hard as ice. This had been an advantage that the others of the four did not possess, and so Gisa had made sure to utilize it.
There were many people above ground when the firestorm hit, but not everyone. Though the settlement was destroyed, at least the kingdom had survived.
Now, though, it was time to turn north and discover what treachery the others had concocted.
Queen Ilsagar, Lady of Iceheim, First of Four, rested in the inner fast when a messenger made himself known. She signed, pulled her furs up over her body, and motioned for the man to come further in. He sauntered.
The queen sighed. Elves don't saunter. She'd talked to this servant before, and still he sauntered.
The messenger reported that a strange light had been seen in the south, and that the prince had sent scouts to see what had occurred in the fifth kingdom to produce it.
---The North East---
King Evets, Lord of Snowburg, Fourth of Four, was out frolicking in the fresh powder when a bright light in the west caught his attention. Unfortunately, the north is not a prudent place to frolick. He tripped, tumbled down a snowy dune, broke his neck, and was lost to his people. His son ascended to the throne, tripped on the stairs, and cracked his head open on the chair. He died three hours later from the injury, sparking a succession crisis. No one knew that something had happened to the west.