The stone continued its upward motion while the other gods discussed life and death. It continued to grow as it reached the zenith of its motion. Then, with a sudden crack, it unfolded into a being. It's skin like stone, held aloft by a pair of great wings. Surveying the area, he watched impassively the others here.
You treat death like it is a privilege and not an inevitable event. Yes, death is a single instance, for it is final. After death, the soul moves on. After time, it may be reborn or it may not be. There should be no un-death, nor un-life. I think it is an abomination.
You who act so high and mighty, making it a privilege for there to be dead. If things never died, then nothing would progress. There would be no need to. Everything would be stagnate. Pruinus would not need to challenge mortals, for they wouldn't attempt it. They would succeed anyways eventually, or not. There is no motivation. Agni's heat would no longer warm them, for they wouldn't need it. They just wouldn't die if it was there or not.
You wish to witness death Pruinus, then I shall show you: Zebus grabs a berry from the sprig and no sooner than he touches it, that it starts to die and wither away, to return to dust again. That is death. When life is no more, then only death remains. I don't seek to conquer life, I seek to balance it.
Zebus blows the dust from the berry over to Leaf and the berry starts to grow again in Leaf's presence.
From life to death, and from death comes new life. That is what I wish.
Pruinus began to find this squabble irritable. They could discuss Life and Death for an eternity if they wished, for all the good it would do.
She wondered how her companions might react if she were to start working on the planet this instant. Or simply declare her winter now. Such thoughts amused her, but she know they were reckless. She sensed this squabble slowly coming to an end and told herself to be patient. She could manage that. At least a while longer.
"Of course, dear Pruinus, as you wish." Leaf extended his hand and the seed of power returned to him. His fingers closed around it, and his leafy veins pulsed with light as the power was reabsorbed into his body. "At your leave. Let us part, then, for a time, I to establish life, and you to challenge it as you will."
The littlest god turned to Agni, craning his neck so he could look at the glowing mask of a god. "That is a seed: the smallest part has a blueprint for the whole. I had thought that perhaps it might create servants for you. Beings of fire and form. But take it, think on it, and make changes according to what pleases you."
Then Leaf looked at Zebus, and there was sorrow in his eyes. "Yes... I was a fool, to think you were ready. Zebus, lord of death... you have defied your betters. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you would keep these barren realms, much in need of a flood of life and fire and ice, in the horrors of a meaningless balance! You are unworthy of your powers, you're unworthy of your domain, you are unworthy... of the devotion of those you have rejected! I now separate you from life!"
Leaf reached out towards Zebus. The other god's sword, a long curved blade of shadow and death, flew out of its sheath and into Leaf's hand. Thorny vines spouted from his arm and twisted around the blade. Unaffected by its blade, the plants squeezed, and squeezed tighter, until an unseen part of its very essence cracked. "In the name of the ordered world and the natural law, I, Leaf, lord of creation, cast you out!"
The vines retreated from the sword and the blade it flew back at its master, and the flat of the weapon slammed into his chest, pushing the god back a few inches. But the little lord was not finished. His eyes were as hard as thorns as he reached for his lance. He threw it at the ground before Zebus' feet. Its fire-hardened tip, from when he had threatened Agni with it, sparked on the barren stone, causing a shower of embers to spread between then. Where each ember landed, lightning reached up to the sky. When the light faded, an army of beings stood between Zebus and the other gods. Leaf’s own spear had been turned to dust in the process.
Each creature shone with fierce light. They had two arms each, and a head, but no faces. Great wings spread out from their backs, and their lower halves tapered into wisps of essence. In every hand was a sword or shield. And they were all pointed at Zebus.
"These are the guardian angels. They will protect all life from your thieving touch. Go, now, and think about how meaningless one god, alone, is. "
Leaf turned to the other gods and said, "Shall we go about our work, then? There is life to create, fire to build, frozen lands to craft."
3AP Populate Populace: Guardian Angelsare immortal servants of the gods/Leaf. They're tasked with preventing Zebus/Death from interfering with life. Even though they aren't planar beings (yet), if one of them is fatally injured, they're teleported to wherever Leaf is with 1hp, instead of dying. He heals them, gathers information, wipes the memories of their most recent life away, and sends them back out into the world to continue their work.
Non-AP: Leaf makes it so that living creatures are like extraplanar beings, too. They don't die of old age, but when they would normally die either from age or injury, they're instead teleported away with 1hp remaining. The creature is then reverted to an infant version of its species and placed back into the world elsewhere. Plants are turned into seeds, for example. Animals would be reverted to embryos or eggs or whatever. The memories and skills of the old life are there, but suppressed. I'm not spending AP on this because it's meant to be temporary, lasting just until Leaf and Zebus make up, but let me know if I should spend AP instead.
Non-AP: Leaf makes it so that life develops and adapts to its environment within a single life. Like the Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics, except a single life form never dies, and it can amass these acquired characteristics to the point where evolution happens to it itself. I didn't spend AP because this, to, isn't meant to be permanent, just lasting until Leaf and Zebus make up.
But Leaf's actions had had unintended consequences. The appearance of an army - made in part with Agni's own element! - had startled, unnerved and angered the Flamelord. An army of ... angels... would be a threat, even to a God.
What right do you have to unilaterally decide such things, Tealord? Agni fumed, bright eyes glaring down at the tiny God before it.
I do not appreciate the notion that one day you may decide that I no longer have a place in your perfect creation, Leaf. What you do with your Life is your own business, but I am just as much a part of Creation as you are, as the ColdMother is, as the Deathlord is, even if you deny it. An army of servants does not make you more right than before.
Agni took a few 'steps' away from the others. He and Pruinus could not work together, that was clear. Leaf grew more concerning with every word that came from its mouth, and Zebus... had already made enemies. Agni hovered on the edge of flight away from the others and towards the rising Sun, waiting... for something.
Leaf raised a hand with his palm up. A sign, he hoped, to indicate he meant no ill towards Agni. "You saw with your own eyes Zebus steal the life of those berries -- gifts to Pruinus, dedicated to her! -- after he had rejected my repeated offer to give life to him. I an willing to allow offenses against me to go unpunished. Indeed, you turned me back after I tried to ignore his first insult. But I will never suffer insult to you or Pruinus. If I could, I would cast him out of existence itself! But I cannot, so I only cast him out of my domain. And, since he has already proven himself a thief and a waster of time, I created servants to guard life against him so that I may turn my attentions elsewhere."
"You and Pruinus have no need to fear them. If you but ask it, I will give you authority over the guardian angels and make them answerable to you."
Leaf glanced over at Zebus, behind the line of angels. "When my anger over his offense to Pruinus fades, and he comes to his senses, perhaps then he will join us. On that day, I will replace distrust with trust, anger with love, banishment with embracement, dishonor with glory. It is my deepest wish that death and I not be estranged, but I cannot dictate his behavior."
He turned back away and saw a large, winged, stoney creature. "Look, lord Agni. That appears to be a new creature, not of any of our devising. Another god, perhaps. It is rude of us, not to go greet him."
Now more so then ever, Pruinus found that the Mother half of her title quite fitting.
Her she was, watching over her children squabble and bicker. Yet, in her time here in this place with them, she came to accept them as her own children, and they were family. She didn't want to see her family separated and torn apart. Life & Death may not have to get on with each other, but she feared should this conflict get any more intense she would be forced to intervene, or witness one or both of her children be slain.
And if Life & Death went to war, she would have to pick a side. She didn't think she could do this. She didn't like to contradict her earlier comments, but she had only intended for Life & Death to be rivals, not sworn enemies ready to tear each other apart.
"Leaf, calm yourself dear. Zebus meant no harm to me or our creation, he was merely demonstrating the ideals of his concept. No harm has been done."
She couldn't blame either of them for their stubborness. She herself only agreed to work with Leaf under the condition they are treated as equals. Pruinus focused for a second and felt another sprig of Winter Berries in her palm.
"All that was lost was a fruit, so easily replaced. Had he meant us harm, he would feel my wrath also."
Pruinus also gazed up to the new creature before them.
"Yes, let us speak with our new friend. And please, try to be civil. We don't want our new friend to see us capable only of drama and conflict."
She gestured towards Zebus.
"You shall come too. Leaf does not have to approve, but I consider you my ally."
Reaching forward with the berry inbetween her fingers, Pruinus crushed it above his cup, letting the juice pour into his tea, changing the colour every so slightly, adding a dark reddish hue to it.
"Please. Taste for yourself how sweet fruit born of co-operation and respect for one another can be."
Unemotional, Onus watched the proceedings below him, unsure of what has transpired to cause such rift among the others. But, since he was called, he decends to the planet with the others. As he sets down upon the planet, his immense form causes the ground to crumble and buckle, sending up a ring of mountains around a deep valley where he stands. His voice is a deep, slow rumble, Greetings, I am... Onus. He stares intently, though unemotionally at those before him.
Command Land 1AP: Create mountain ring and valley.
Leaf smiled at Agni and nodded, "Of course." He turned to the guardian angels and ordered them to follow the commands of Agni and Pruinus, to submit to their will, and to never raise hand or weapon against them.
He turned his head -- though, on one so small, it was hard to tell -- towards Pruinus. "If you ask it of me, I will consent to parlay with him yet again. But before you ask of me, I would ask something of you. He rejected me once, and I would have walked away, leaving him to his own devices, if it had not been for Agni. Zebus rejected me twice and insulted you -- you say he did not offend, but the slightest insult to you wounds me to my core -- and I have cast the last trace of him out from my domain and would leave him to his own devices. If I give him a third chance, and if he again rejects me, what then? Will you then support me in my wrath?"
The mighty Onus then descended to the planet and introduced himself. Leaf, tiny, oh so tiny before this mountain, strode forward seven steps and inclined his head with the proper amount of respect. "Greetings, Onus. I am Leaf. This fiery face is Agni, the Lord Flamberlain, and this icy lady is Pruinus, the Prime Winister. We are the elder gods. He behind us, who'll perhaps yet have his worth judged, is Zebus. I do apologize that the onus was on you, oh Onus, to introduce yourself. Will you forgive and dein to join us in our work in this world?"