Zareth 15 , 1
"And your certain there's no other way around it?" Zareth sighed.
"They've tried every other form of sealing but the two environments are too different unless we can find an new material or we bind the spirit to it permanently then they're going to keep falling apart." The dwarf said.
"Erik you have almost every smith in creation under your command. you're telling me that none of them can think of anything to keep the suits from destabilizing?"
"They can only do so much without your direct knowledge sir. I'm sorry but the worlds of physical construction and spiritual attachment were never meant to mix, not in the way you're looking for. It can't be done."
"It can't be done. Is that the attitude that united the dwarven clans and built a kingdom under the mountain? Is that the kind of attitude Pentar looks for in his chosen few?" The ghost father snapped, rubbing his temples in frustration.
"What Pentar asked for was doable, nor did it defy the laws of nature." Erik gruffled, he didn't care for being doubted.
"Perhaps if we combine the smith's work with the natural magics of the forests?" One of the Kami chimed in.
"Nothing biodegradable." Zareth stated. "I wont have us going through this much trouble again, not if I can help it."
One of his Ekiruru advisors weighed in on the argument. "In Minas Kei the departed goddess created things just li-"
"DON'T! Get me started on those things..." Zareth cut her off. He had seen the abominations that Eldarwen had turned her people into, what torture she had forced upon their immortal souls. It sickened him to even consider that one of his own kind could think of their creations that way. He had walked among the deceased plant people of his realm and heard the stories of the arena, how Eldarwen had made a public spectacle of beating her subjects to death and taunted them as she did so. As if she was a child pulling the wings off an insect. To think I mourned her. He grimaced.
"No, there must be a way. We just need to approach this problem from a different angle."
Brothers, an alliance of evil threatens us all. If you wish to help me overthrow this wicked regime, come to my meeting hall in the Hallowed Court.
"Oh well that's just perfect."
"Sir?" Erik asked.
"Someone's about to get murdered or... something. Keep at this I have faith in you. Erik, the charnel palace is open too you and so are my resources. Now if you'll excuse me, other matters demand my attention." Zareth strode from the council hall of his charnel palace leaving the mortal spirits to look on, perplexed.
After he had left they looked at each other in silence. Erik was the first to speak up. "Anyone fancy something to eat?"
They all burst into various sounds of agreement. "I know this great place in Nos." Hirot Kon said.
Moments later Zareth was stepping through the doors of the hallowed meeting hall.
The sun was setting as the children gathered around the campfire for the third evening in a row, the Storyteller as always appeared just as it's light vanished over the horizon. He lit his pipe and then continued the story.
"As gods partied and drank their cares away, peace seemed to be reestablishing itself in the latter days of the Third Age. A great surprise was in for the gods however as from the cage in which Madness and Maskelyne trapped themselves emerged a new god formed from the merging of his parents: Daare. This mad god would change the destiny of the universe forever, but he was not the only development to happen in that epoch.
Zareth finally created his own race upon the planet Salustutis who were destined to have a special relationship with death. Far across the universe, Daare summoned a flying carpet with the help of Melanthios that would serve as a magical vehicle. Below on the planet Evalon, Cassiel infected a group of mortals of six races with the Vigil strain, an ailment that would provide immortality but also confer a weakness to gold.
Meanwhile, Zs'Wua used her powers to see what lay in the past of the Armor of Hatred and saw it's full history, laid out in her mind not unlike a tapestry. Auctor was less lucky however, her attempt to inspire the Ekiruru of Minas Kei ended in failure."
His fight with Lenonous hadn't gone as well as it had initially. Whatever powered Seith's failed warrior was...unexpected. Cassiel had won due to luck and Isond's own poor judgment. They were things he could afford in a practice bout, but when the time came to kill the angel, he would be ready. He had learned much about his opponent in that last fight.
Overhead, the sun lightly skimmed the green surface of Evalon. Isond sighed. It had been years since he had last visited the Empire. Evidence of change was abundant. New factories were being set up, the ancient cities were being redesigned and slight signs of change were sprouting up. He looked off into the distance toward the capital. Gaerv Vantric. He would be sad to see the Empire fall. It might have been a boring place filled with backstabbing cutthroats, but it was still home. When its time finally came, he would shed a tear to the collapse of the universe's greatest civilization.
He walked through the forests several miles outside the properly civilized areas of the nation. Every so often, underfoot he would crush a glass flower. They puzzled him. They were growing everywhere like a weed and seemed completely inorganic, yet he watched them take seed, grow, sprout, and bloom. Whatever they were, they were becoming popular, he had watched several people venture out to collect them. In his brief walk through the capital, he had even seen some window boxes filled with the crystal plants.
Isond shook his head. He would need to report back to Vantric soon, which would inevitably lead to another confrontation with Aryx. Neither event he was looking forward to. He continued his trek into the forest. There was something oddly calming about forests, he considered. Perhaps part of that had to do with the fact that he had almost died in one, or perhaps it was in spite of that fact. He wasn't certain.
After a time, he stopped and rested against a tree. He shut his eyes and just listened to the steady thrum of nature. The wind in the leaves, the birds overhead. A while later, he opened his eyes again and found a small spider dangling from a thread just in front of his face. Isond frowned. He hated spiders, and every other lainir loved the things. The stupid bugs seemed to possess the perfect qualities that the Empire simply adored. They were quiet, subtle, and deadly. Isond had always preferred bigger animals. Lions, bears, beasts that could strike out and whom could fight. A spider that was seen was as good as dead, but a great lumbering bear had no need of caution.
The spider eased its way down and began crawling along Isond's armor. He brought the creature up to his face and examined it. To his surprise, the spider simply stared back at him, its various eyes all unblinking. He smiled. The little bug had just given him a great idea. Isond set the creature down carefully and raised his hand over it. Perhaps he could do something about the spiders of the Empire...
Maeglin was 'listening' to his advisors. They were all Striga renowned for their wisdom, but none came even close to matching his other advisor. When they finally left he sighed gratefully, he moved his hand over the throne he was sitting on. The throne was his just like his father has promised, and the Dues Filli were flourishing. He stood up from the throne and walked outside, the cities had grown significantly since he has been put in charge. He looked down on the street, he saw all of his subjects walking and living their peaceful lives. Suddenly the peace was broken, a man was dragged out of his house screaming for mercy. He was however being transported by two black guild members the normal Dues Filli on the street stared at him.
Most races would be disgusted or scared but not the Dues Filli, everyone who betrayed Melanthios would suffer the same fate. They began pointing at him and screaming at him, the guards took him with them while rocks were thrown at the man. He smiled as he continued walking towards his private studies, he wondered if his father had a new mission for him. When he entered his study he saw a purple letter on his desk, he ran towards it and smile happily as he recognized the writing. He opened it and read it. The orders were brilliant as usual, he turned and grabbed Amour and the Orb of Infinity.
He took both with him as he walked towards the engineering guild. It seemed that after the original 15 guilds a lot more were made, this one had always caught his eye. He opened the door, an young irritated looking Dues Filli turned around "What do you..." His face showed utter shock as he looked at Maeglin. "I am so sorry my king I didn't know that it..." Maeglin moved his hand indicating the man had to be silent. He then grabbed Amour and began playing a beautiful song with it, filling the entire guild hall with its sound. 480 purple ghost appeared and fused with the stunned Dues Filli, who didn't even seem to notice it.
He then turned around and walked away, "Wait my lord!" He heard from behind him, he turned around to see a surprised looking man. "What was the meaning of that beautiful music?" He asked sounding confused. "If you don't know that yet, then it has failed." He simple stated before turning around and leaving. He left the 480 Dues Filli with an idea, no with an new found passion. They would all seek to make the newest golems now, and they would all start working on a new project called giant. Maeglin smiled as he thought about what he had achieved, he looked up at the sky. He teleported both the items of power, knowing that his brother would probably need them with his assignment. He walked back to the throne room, he had a lot of other assignments to finish before the day was over.
Akladai appeared inside the library of his father. He wrote down his latest discovery, he was smiling brightly. He was sure that his father would be very pleased with him, suddenly Amour and the Orb of Infinity appeared before him. He looked at both the items and picked them up. There was a small note on the orb, he grabbed it and read it. He grinned as he finished it, his father had finally agreed to his plan. He walked towards the workshop inside his fathers library, he had 'acquired' the key long ago. He opened the door and walked towards the forge, where he grabbed some of the precious magic stone. But not any magic stone, no this one would react to his masters soul. And if he wasn't completely loyal to either him or Melanthios he would die instantly.
He grabbed a nearby hammer and began forging a new weapon, sadly he lacked the power his father had. So creating an item for the gods was out of the questions, he could however make one for a very special mortal. His cruelty and loyalty had won his interest, he kept forging the scythe. He was sure that in his hands it would take on a very interesting appearance. Still he would forge it in an interesting shape too, there was no need to make it normal.
The palace on Eld had become a battleground. The remnants of the royal guard had scrambled to form defensive positions and rally any other defenders they could. The walls were embedded with poison tipped spear arms and stained with the viral blood of the warriors who were brave enough to stand against the invader.
"We can't hold it back much longer!" One of them cried. Their captain grimaced, the situation was getting more and more desperate.
"We hold our ground." She said with grim determination. "Even if we have to pile our dead, the barricade does not fall!" For a brief moment their resolve hardened and they readied themselves to face the inevitable.
Their passion and dedication might have been even more inspiring if it wasn't for the nature of their battle. If their opponent even knew they were fighting. The guard looked out over their makeshift barricade into the darkened hallway. It hadn't made it that far yet all they could do was wait. Slowly but surely they could hear it getting closer. They leveled their weapons as something burst out of the darkness. One of the warriors threw their spear out of reflex and pinned the small lizard to the floor. The defenders let out a collective sigh of relief. But the captains peace was short lived as the sound of humming and idle chatter emanated from behind her. She slowly turned her head, dreading what she knew was there. Her blood ran cold as her eyes came to rest upon the unholy sight before her. How had it gotten past them? They had blocked off the portal, this was the only way into the throne room.
Carnivox stood with a vase under his arm, a relic of the second age. His gaze was scanning the throne room as he hummed a jolly tune to himself. The rest of the palace defenders turned to face him, their faces covered in shock and confusion. They looked to their captain for orders but she was at a lose.
All the while Carnivox sauntered around the room, picking up and fiddling with the various treasures he found. "Oh and this is mine." He said, picking up a decorative sword. Now that Eldarwen was gone he had free reign on Eld... and he was loving it.
One of the guards gathered their courage and charged him, her spar raised. "Stop!" The captain screamed, but it was too late. She thrust with her spear but the hunter side stepped her with casual speed and swatted her with the back of his hand as if she were an annoying fly. She was sent flying across the throne room and hit the wall with a sickening crunch. Her body fell to the ground, still and lifeless.
"That is totally mine now!" Carnivox laughed as he found one of Eldarwen's old goblets. It was as if he hadn't even noticed her. Then the cogs in his brain started turning and his eyes fell on the grand throne of Eld. He dropped everything else and grinned, baring his teeth for the world to see. "Now that... that is definitely mine." He walked up to the massive throne, he couldn't carry it out with him so there was really only one way to mark it as his territory.
He moved his loincloth aside and gave a sigh of satisfaction. "Aaaaaw yeah. That's some consecrated ground right there."
The Ekiruru looked on in horror as the stream of urine splashed off of their lady's abandoned throne. Grief stricken in the knowledge that there was nothing they could do to stop it.
Petal - 6
Petal thought there wasn't much point going back to the Hallowed Court until Roe had finished attending the meeting, so she decided to explore the planets she hasn't seen properly yet. After a short trip around Eld she found herself floating far above Salustitus, looking down with interest at the Dues Filli below. She was surprised by their apparent coldness, close to that of the Ekiruru she had seen earlier that day. Her gaze focused in on one particular orphanage, a small institution of not more than about forty children on the edge of one of the larger cities. The children seemed listless and bored: spending all their time in dull classrooms or a bare playground with a few rusty toys. They evidently had originally come from poorer families.
"I wish you could be happy and play outside, like properly outside," Petal sighed, before a thought suddenly hit her. "Of course!" She clicked her fingers and a Grigori Kinderven boy appeared before her, hanging by his feet.
"What? Ah!" he cried in alarm, covering his face, "Don't hurt me!"
"Don't be stupid, I'm Petal," she said with another sigh, "You know me?"
"Huh, you're real then," he said dumbly.
"Of course," Petal replied, "I want you to make the children in this orphanage into Kindervens. Can you do that?"
He looked bemused but nodded. Petal lowered him down into the courtyard and after a few furtive glances around he sneaked in through the nearest door. A few minutes later he returned with a triumphant grin.
"Done miss!" he exclaimed proudly. "Thanks," Petal smiled at him and then she teleported him back to Evalon. She gazed down through the orphanage building with satisfaction, the newly converted Kinderven looked a little frightened at their new powers but she trusted in time they would become used it. What if the grown-ups tried to stop them leaving though? The little demigod reached down and cast a charm over the new Kinderven, granting them the ability to avoid the gaze of others whenever they needed to. If that wouldn't protect them, she didn't know what would.
No matter how hard Melanthios tried, the words kept echoing in his head. He couldn't allow them to meet without him knowing anything about it, he summoned the orb of infinity underneath his robe. He focused and made a temporary, one way link with the meeting hall inside the hallowed court. He then smile and responded to Daare, "The carpet looks perfect to me, I can't see a single flaw with it." He handed it back to Daare.
Zareth 15 , 1
One of Evermoor's countless gates was in complete disarray. The Wardens were at a loss and nearby spirits were either running for the hills or gawping at the bizarre sight in front of them. What appeared to be a blue giant had stepped through the gate and was ranting and raving at everything in sight. The average resident of Evermoor wasn't used to this kind of violence, at least not since they died.
When Zareth arrived on the scene he was greeted by a cacophony of roars and shouts. What was this creature? He'd never seen anything like it, it was as if one of the Filli had gotten pumped up on drugs. But that wouldn't shape the soul, the thing was dead how could it still be like that? He peered at it in curiosity. No the aura's all wrong, this isn't a Filli it's something else... it almost feels like- His thought was interrupted as the newly deceased ghost sent a dwarf flying past his head. Alright it's time I step in.
He didn't need to approach the thing with caution as its fists simply passed through him. "Now sir if you'll just calm down." He said but the spirit didn't seem to care, it just flailed and shouted in a harsh, guttural sounding tongue that Zareth had never heard before. "Look... just... you need to." It was hard to get a word in edgewise, the spirit was going so wild. "Just slow down would you?!"
Then like a shot it was off back through the gate and into the world of the living. "Oh- Oh that's just perfect!" Zareth barked, it was just one thing after another these days.
He followed it out the way it had come and after trailing it through the winding nexus that was the pathways of Evermoor. The two of them came out into the blistering winds of Salustuis' coldest continent. The spirit showed no signs of slowing down as it ran, full pelt into the snow. It was hard enough for Zareth to see through the storm and he was forced to take on a less corporeal form in order to make his way through the snow. How did it end up here? He followed the sound of the spirit's howls, easily audible to him even through the racing wind. The sound grew and grew as the spirit's inner light shone all the brighter. This build up grew and grew until, like a firework, the spirit burst into a shower of light. It rose up on the breeze before fading away completely.
He followed the sense of it as far as he could. Up to the climax of its great outburst of emotion and the sense of peace and tranquility that followed it. The aura of the creature faded away, it might have been lost to Zareth forever if not for what happened next. In its final moments before it was gone, its essence changed, its sound changed. Out in the storm a baby was crying. What could be born out here?
He flew over the wastes, following the source of the sound. below on the ground he could see things moving, blue and grey figures trudging through the snow. Hundred, thousands of them. Some of them had even crafted igloos to shelter in. The ingenuity they'd taken in making any kind of settlement in a place so hostile to life. And in one of those igloos, one of those blue women was giving birth. She was crying out in pain of her own as the others around her looked on in shock and confusion. A new born was fighting its way into this world and burning brightly within it was the soul Zareth had tracked there.
Zareth looked on in abject fascination until he couldn't hold it in anymore. He burst into nigh on hysterical laughter, he almost bent over backwards, clutching his ethereal ribs. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. "I'm not even-" He struggled to get the words out through his aching breath. "I'm not even mad... that's... that's just impressive." He applauded the the screaming infant. "Well don! Bravo, bravo!" Through sheer strength of will that soul had thrown itself into the reincarnation cycle. It had raged against its death so fervently that it couldn't become one with the next world, yet its fighting spirit had been so strong that it wouldn't give into despair like so many other poltergeist. Instead it had turned back to life and dived right in for round two.
He wasn't sure how much time passed in the mortal world while he wandered unseen through these new people. But enough for Zareth to get a good feel for them They were violent, stubborn, ignorant and spent most of their time feeling confused. Not unlike most mortals then. But these ones were SO young. Their race was taking their first steps in this world, they were only just learning how to use rocks as tools. It didn't take Zareth long to work out where they had come from. Any of the others would have announced this new creation, would have made their power known as they went about carving out a place to live for them. No... his own anger and foolishness had lead to this. Accidentally or not he had brought these creatures into the world and he had a responsibility to make sure they had what they needed.
"Such crude things but they have potential." He said to himself. The surrounding area commonly struck by snow storms and the kind of cold that could given even a Sharulk hypothermia but none of that seemed to bother them. The snow and lakes seemed to give them an ample source of water, the caves and igloos they had made gave them shelter and the pine trees would supply them with lumber once they had grasped how it was done. No what they really needed was food. Phoenixes were the only animals on Salustuis and few if any made their home this far north. Plus there's not much eating on them once they're dead. And these new residents didn't seem to have any knack for magic like their Filli neighbors, there was no way they could grow crops here. Not yet anyway. What they needed was game, a source of meet and fur. Some were already looking at each other with eyes full of hunger and their patron god wasn't about to let that happen. Cannibalism has rarely proven a solid long term plan.
Despite how morbid their situation was Zareth still couldn't wipe the grin off his face. He just kept thinking of the gall that soul had had in order to deny death like that. There was no doubt about it, he had to make sure this race survived to grow and prosper. If that one was anything to go by then they were too interesting to let fade away.
Zareth stood in the air high above their make shift living grounds. He spread out his hands and started to prepare the place for a the introduction of new life. In his mind they took shape and by his will the ebb of time began to flow faster around them. He didn't have time to let them evolve like the creatures of Evalon. By days end the continent would be swarming with adults and their spawn. Beasts of land, sea and sky. But this kind of project was beyond his lone power. Zareth had tried his hand at the occasional animal but it was never his purpose to create on such a scale.
But he knew people he could call for help, who had done this before. He would give them shape... they would give them life.
He sent out a wave of intention to the other gods, just as Aen had shown him before however above that intent, that plea for help, lay one important worded message.
You've got to come see this! You'll love it!
Pentar 26AP 1MP
You've got to come see this! You'll love it!
The message jolted Pentar out of his silent thoughts and brought a smile to his face. When Zareth left the meeting early, he had feared that the Death God was lost. But now, Pentar had the chance to show him his goodwill. But why was he creating an ecosystem on Salustuis? Certainly, he did have to see this.
He appeared in the skies above Salustuis next to Zareth. At first he couldn't tell what Zareth had been talking about, but the he noticed the activity below. The primitives were still simple minded people, not as culturally advanced as the other races, but they clearly had potential. Focusing his power through Gawmfust, he added it to Zareth's own to help him.
Zs'Wua'Itzala - 1/8 AP
The information flooded her mind, visions of unfamiliar feminine figures, the link this item had with the First Folly. Zs'Wua scoffed, with the new knowledge she concluded that the armour was a wretched thing. It was a beautiful thing yes, glimmering with a dark polish, but it was the embodiment of hatred itself. Somewhat disgusted she reached for the pauldrons in order to rip the metal suit off and cast it into the portal where all of those wretched things lay, however she stayed her hand. The portal and its gaping mouth didn't deserve such a grand meal. Her thoughts now turned to her surroundings, the Hallowed Court, and came to the conclusion that the world of mortals was more interesting than the playpen of the gods.
She dissolved into shadow and arose somewhere to the north of the Chama Peninsula where her ancestor once stood, and where some Verr still stood. Too stubborn to leave the overcrowded planet, what was it they said in response to the Great Migration? 'Here we stand...' Her thought were interrupted by watching some Shadowshrieks fly across the sky, with their chorus of high-pitched sound. She began to follow them, it was a whimsical choice but what else was there to do other than remembering a throwaway line? Soon, she came across some strange humans. Well, they seemed human at first, but she could see that the gods had made their mark upon them. Some even had tails! Nevertheless, unlike her, they were limited to one form.
A roar from above shook the trees, a dragon with an open maw scooped up the Shadowshrieks and ate them with a mighty chomp. She sighed again. They were such noisy creatures, always hunting or roaring or burning something somewhere. Not to mention with no natural predators, the dragons overran the skies, leaving the Shadowshrieks defenceless in their wake. The armour caught the sunlight and it glinted almost like a shining smile that reflected Zs'Wua's. She knew what to do. The idea had been tried once, but now she had the power of the armour - the power of hatred. She drifted towards the Maroe Archipelago, to the cave where she had awaken after crossing the line between mortal and divine. She would try again, but this time, she had more power.
M'endaxius - 0/30 AP, 2/2 MP
It had quieted down on the moon after the party and Vantric's arrival now it was somewhat alone. Perhaps this would be the right time for its slumber. However, something disagreed and the voice of Zareth coursed through its mind covered with the intent of requesting help, but that was hidden beneath a taunt to catch the gods' interest. Too much was going on anyway. M'endar sighed and began the walk the passages of the sanctum, with one hand touching the walls as it did so. The price of slaying Seith was heavy... But at least the Deceiver did not share his fate. As quickly as the message was transmitted, a reply was sent,
"Apologies, I am not in a position to aid you, thought I wish you the best in this endeavour, brother."
Vantric was gone, and Aryx was left to her own devices for a moment. She walked the halls of the fortress, every so often passing one or more of the devils as they tried to navigate the massive structure. To be honest, she could probably have used the help herself, but at least she had the power to move instantaneously. She shut her eyes and teleported to the front gates of the Grand Ascension. Something about the act of teleporting was invigorating. It was such a simple thing, but even the greatest mages in the history of Coelus hadn't managed such a feat. Aryx smiled, but then, she had surpassed them all long ago.
In the canopy overhead, making up the sky in the Hallowed Court, the planets and stars swirled around in the endless expanse of existence. Centered directly above the court was the view of the solar system she lived in as a mortal. Coelus was easily recognized, but the other planets circling about Niv were unfamiliar to her. She had always known her world was small, even on Coelus it was rare for anyone to move any great distance. The other planets though, other worlds. It occurred to Aryx that she still didn't really know what Isond was, or where he was from. Perhaps it was time she explored the greater world she had never known.
She inspected the worlds carefully before making her choice. The world nearest the sun was very green. She could only guess it was teeming with life, probably the plants she had read about in the occasional report that was sent back to Coelus from the outside world. Second from the sun was another green world, though less so than the first. The majority of its surface was taken up by a great mass of blue. What it was, Aryx could only guess. Possibly another type of plant that she had never read about, or it might even be something else. Then there was the last world, revolving just before Coelus. Unlike the others, it wasn't green, but it didn't have the reflective diamond surface of her homeworld either. It was strange and appeared to be moving toward the outer reaches of the sun's orbit, and Aryx's curiosity was piqued. Once more she summoned her power and teleported, willing herself to the new world.
Aryx arrived in a city, invisible to its inhabitants. She had rendered herself incorporeal for the purposes of this visit. The city was radically different from Coelus, not that that was difficult. Most of the buildings were made of stone or wood with an affinity for smaller, more condensed dwellings. Where grigori buildings tended toward the tall and imposing, this city tended to be shorter and more spread out. There were also new beings here, she observed. In many ways, they resembled herself; two arms, two legs, head, torso, they were somewhat taller and had pointed ears, but otherwise were almost disappointingly similar.
For a time, Aryx drifted among them, observing their lives, and there found more profound differences between the grigori and the others. These people were exceptionally clever, with a particular affinity for magic. That was useful. Perhaps these people could be harnessed somehow.
Slowly, carefully, Aryx made her way through the city, observing and selecting people. She chose them carefully, the discreet, the watchful, and the ambitious, and drew them along invisible strings. The largest building in the city was the central library, a central repository of arcane knowledge, and she chose the location as a gathering place, tugging on those she had touched. They came in small groups or singly, almost indistinguishable from the rest of the crowd, the constant stream of people entering and exiting the massive building.
They gathered on one of the library's lower levels, in a long forgotten area. There were few books on the shelves, and those that were there bore a thick layer of dust, accumulated over decades of disuse. The group was quiet, all looking about the room, but few talking to each other. They only knew that they had been summoned, not by who or what, and hoped that they would soon find out. Fear kept them from leaving or speaking, fear and curiosity.
Aryx walked among the group, taking their pulse, and was soon assured that the people she had chosen were the right ones for what she had planned. She raised her hands and, in one motion, touched the minds of every person in the room while in the air at the front of the assembly, in a ball of dark fire, a book came into being. It was part instructions-part philosophy. Meanwhile, Aryx began molding the minds of the group, she gave them a mission: they would strive to learn the dark arts. They would study and articulate and refine the powers she had come into so recently. They would spread her message across this world.
Aen 18/30, 2/2
Ven was right. Nivix was still moving, albeit extremely slowly. However, it wasn't fast enough for them to fight fairly.
"Nivix... Nivix... Nivix! Wake up!" He snapped his fingers in front of the god's face a few times before giving up. He was about to send a message to Ven when Zareth called for his attention. Zareth has really been busy lately, huh? Forgetting Nivix for a moment, he came over to see what all the fuss was.
Pentar was already there when he showed up, but he didn't mind. He was just glad to see what the death god wanted to share with him. "Whoo boy Zareth, you have been busy!" Aen grinned and let a bit of his power flow into his friend's workings. Whatever he was making, it was gonna have to fight for survival up here, and he'd make damn sure it could do it.
Before he moved over to talk to Zareth about his creations, he sent a message to Ven, asking him to help with the frozen Nivix problem once he got back.
Roe - 16, 0
Roe was following Aen and Nivix absent-mindedly when the booming voice of Zareth came across the divine airwaves.
You've got to come see this! You'll love it!
The young god still owed his elder a debt for helping him rescue Petal and Aen seemed to be responding to the message too so he happily followed along.
"Hello Zareth, I'll help!" he called eagerly when they reached Salustutis and he directed his powers towards the animals taking shape beneath them.
The Storyteller continued to tell his tale whilst taking the occasional drag from his pipe, the children attentive as always.
"As the gods discussed and debated with each other, or listened with magic in Melanthios' case, their demigod brethren were not quite so idle. Isond created the giant spiders known as the Achttoten for the Lainir, whilst similarly Zs'Wua made the female shadowshrieks broodmothers, bats that could rival dragons in size. Akladai forged the heroic mortal item the Soul Scythe but his peer Carnivox was less fortunate: his attempt to charm Eldarwen's royal palace lead to nothing but an unpleasant smell.
Meanwhile the Dues Filli particularly were influenced by no less than three demigods: Maeglin inspired almost five hundred of their number to create the newest golems, Ayrx inspired a similar number to take up the dark arts and Petal gave a protective blessing to a smaller number of their young so that they could avoid detection by adults in their new Kinderven forms.
Still, some of the gods aside from Melanthios did act. Zareth created wildlife upon the frozen north of Salustutis with the help of Melanthios, Pentar, Aen and Roe to help support his newborn race the Stryfe. Still fresh to the world, Daare summoned up a new red fruit that would cause madness to any who consumed it, the strawberry."
Nivix - 10, 0
Lucky for the angel, they were already within Aen's battlegrounds. Nivix wouldn't be able to inflict any truly lasting damage on him, not here.
Of course, that wouldn't keep the chemister from enjoying every last instant of this little beatdown.
Flinging his arms wide, the madman let out an exuberant roar, a battle cry loud enough make the room itself tremble. "Come on, you arrogant sap!" Nivix shouted, coating his entire body in roiling flames. "Let's test out this defense that you're so damn proud of!"
Lunging forward, Nivix tore across the battlefield like a wraith cloaked in the fires of hell itself. Cackling madly, he swung both of his fists towards the ascended demigod, his iron left seeking out Cassiel's face, his flesh and blood right hurtling into the angel's side, just below the rib cage. "Can your armor stand up to my flames!?"
Cassiel saw Nivix's pretty obviously telegraphed moves. He wasn't trying to outsmart Cassiel, simply overpower him. Cassiel however, had experience in battle, even if it was in a past life, he had led armies, he was a warrior at his heart. This battle wouldn't go so easily to the mad god of knowledge.
Cassiel moved his shield to block Nivix's punch and parried the iron fist with stardust. "Perhaps not, but I have flames of my own. I intend to win this, for the universe itself!"
"You think yourself its defender, do you?!" Nivix roared in reply, a manic grin stretching across his features.
His fist bounced off of Cassiel's shield without leaving so much as a dent on the flawless surface, its knuckles torn open and oozing golden ichor. It would take more than simple flesh and blood to penetrate that defense, it seemed. His artificial limb, however, was more more lucky. Though the blow itself was parried aside by Stardust, the chemister saw his opportunity, and took it.
Lashing out with his iron hand, the madman wrapped his fingers around the blade, clutching the brilliant steel as though his life depended on it. His arm, bending and twisting at angles impossible for bones and joints to replicate, tried to wrench the sword out of the angel's grasp.
Meanwhile, Nivix's foot struck forward as well. Sweeping out, it slammed into Cassiel's leg with incredible force, attempting to knock the Girigori off balance.
"Then show me, demigod, the strength you will use to protect it!"
Nivix's arm was impressive to say the least. Cassiel had underestimated the ability it had and had assumed wrongly that it would simply be a metal stick, he wouldn't make that mistake again. Nivix's foot came crashing into his leg and Cassiel fell back, missing a chunk of flesh from his leg. Stardust came flying out of his hands as well but he had a new plan.
Cassiel used Nivix's opening to slam at his body with full force. Shield at his front moving at a speed no mortal would even be able to see.
He hadn't seen that coming, that was for sure. Nivix grunted as Cassiel's shield slammed into his chest, driving the air from his lungs and cracking a few of his ribs in the process.
The chemister was sent flying backwards, bouncing off the ground like a ragdoll a couple times before he finally managed to get his feet back under him. Bracing himself, the god slid back a few more yards, his feet and hand leaving furrows in the ground. Stardust clattered to the ground off to the side; it had been knocked from his grasp in the impact.
Straightening himself and taking a deep breath, Nivix stared across the battlefield at his foe. "Heh, not bad," he muttered shakily, his lungs slowly reinflating. "But it's going to take more than that to lay me low."
Lifting his mechanical arm, the madman leveled it so that its palm pointed directly at Cassiel. A high pitched whine filled the air as the limb began to glow a bright red, and the iron hand folded back to reveal a hole in the arm's wrist. A hole that was apparently ready to fire something.
With the roar of an erupting volcano, a slug of molten steel and fire exploded out of the arm, hurtling towards the angel at roughly a third the speed of light.
While Nivix gathered himself, Cassiel reached out towards Stardust, now embedded in the dirt. The sword came flying out of the air and right into Cassiel's hand. It lit ablaze with the power of one of the largest stars in existence.
"You call me a demigod Nivix, but I am more than that. You won't beat me, not today!"
Cassiel put all of his power into Stardust and swung at the red hot beam from the arm. Light began to envelop the entire arena, resulting in a massive explosion. Any mortals near this would have been vaporized in an instant. The entire hallowed court was sent alight, flames enveloping every single structure before finally settling down.
With a sweep of his arms, the madman gathered the surrounding flames around himself, until only the barest traces of his bdoy could be seen through the blazing conflageration.
"Don't make promises you can't keep, son of Seith!" Nivix shouted back, swinging his arms forward in a clapping motion. "The future is ever changing, ever in flux! We will see how this all ends in due time!"
The fire that coated the chemister's arms flew forward, dancing through the air like a pair of whips. Curving, the two tongues of heat lashed towards Cassiel's sides, while Nivix himself charged towards the angel's center.
While Nivix absorbed the fire, Cassiel absorbed the light, he was soon brighter than Niv and all the other stars combined. He wasn't Lennonous anymore, he wasn't Seith, he was simply light incarnate, a small shade appeared in the middle commanding it.
"I am not Seith! I am Cassiel! I will not stand in the shadow of my father anymore! This is my time! My light and I will not allow anyone to put it out!"
Cassiel condensed the light into a singular focal point around him and charged directly at Nivix, allowing the flames to engulf him but putting every bit of his power into a singular strike, using Stardust as a matrix for his passion.
"Heh." Nivix couldn't resist a grin as the brilliant bolt arced towards him. "Now that's more like it."
Dodging the blow would be impossible at this range and speed, but blocking it? Certainly doable. Angling his body ever so slightly, the chemister brought up his metal hand, placing it directly in the beam's path. Then, with all the will and strength he could muster, he braced himself.
The light slammed into his hand with all the force of an expoding star, nearly tearing the limb from Nivix's body. As it was, the arm held, even if just barely. A trio of metallic fingers, blown off by the attack, clattered noisily to the ground.
"No, you're not Seith!" the madman roared, resuming his headlong charge, albiet at a slightly slower pace. "You're so much better!"
The flames began to catch up to Cassiel now, he wouldn't have much time. This was it. He moved his shield right at Nivix's hand, now more energy than anything else, the two colided at full force. Light versus fire, a pillair of energy came off the planet, shattering the windows of the Entertainment Hall, Rocking the Meeting Room, Obliterating the Observatory, casting all of Melanthios's books everywhere, illuminating Vantric's fortress. The entirety of the universe was enamored by the spectacle.
It was like fireworks, impossible to discern but amazing all at once.
"And that," Nivix said, spitting out a couple of teeth and globs of golden blood, "is how you fight like a god."
There was no point in lying to himself; he knew that he was barely standing. But, whether through force of will, the strength of his pride, or sheer idiocy, Nivix refused to fall. Not here, not ever. Not to Cassiel, not to anyone.
Staggering forward, the chemister slowly closed the distance between himself and the angel, his body leaking ichor from countless wounds and cuts. Raising a shaky fist, the god weakly swung it towards his foe's face. This wasn't over. Not just yet.
At this point, most of the flesh on Cassiel's body was seared off. He could hardly discern what was happening, but his skin was cracking with light. Most gods bled with an ichor, but Cassiel's true form was of a simple light.
"Shadows be damned." Casssiel dropped his shield and hobbled at Nivix to return the punch.
The two gods slammed into each other at the same time, their fists finding their targets at the exact same instant. Nivix felt his jaw crack a little more, while Cassiel's eye swelled even further shut.
Still not done, they went for another exchange.
"Seith," Nivix panted, struggling, and failing, to raise his arm for another blow, "sure as hell wasn't this tenacious, I can tell you that much."
That was it, the last punch. Cassiel couldn't do it anymore. He was only standing up barely, a really strong wind could probably take him to his knees. The good news was that it seemed Nivix was about done too.
"Seith would never have come here at all."
Glass shards of the observatory rained down on the court, a few large pieces fell into the battlefield. The giant orb casting a shadow on Cassiel was broken.
"True..." Nivix paused to gulp down some air. "Enough, I suppose."
Unable to keep his legs straight, the god fell back, collapsing onto the broken floor. "Jeez, I really need to train more often."
Cassiel fell forward, rolling on his back and observing the battlefield. The whole area was a mess. The once even plane was now a jagged rocky mess. Cassiel was pretty sure it wasn't made for that.
The angel coughed "That was probably the best fight the universe will ever see."
"Hey." Ripping off another of his artificial fingers, Nivix tossed the digit towards Cassiel. It fell far short of its target.
"What did I just say about the future? Don't spoil the moment."
Zareth 9 , 1
The coastlines were swarming with a grey and brown rainbow of walruses and seals. The scattered forests were humming with the bloody dance of stags and wolves. Beneath them in the undergrowth, foxes the colour of snow and woolly coated rabbits scurried and burrowed. Out in the ice fields, bears, cats and larger things trekked through the endless white. The air teemed with bushy feathered buzzards and hawks and the ocean buzzed with schools of fish, while in between those two worlds, were the penguins. They radiated Roe's influence but Zareth had to admit they were amusing.
"I don't think that could have possibly gone any better." Zareth beamed at the assembled gods.
He descended for a moment and walked unseen among the blue skinned mortals. A few of them had already built up the courage to approach some of the larger creations. Zareth looked at them and saw all the possibilities, they could be farmers, ranchers, they could keep the penguins as pets! Then he saw one of his people approach one of the larger animals. It snapped him up in its jaws, shook them like a rag doll and threw them to the herd.
They might need a little help with that. The death god mused to himself. He drifted through one of the larger crowds of blue skins, whispering in their ears. They had already worked out how to hammer and cut things with bits of rock, it wouldn't take more that a nudge to show some of them how to put those rocks on the end of sticks and make spears, how to move as a group to bring down a larger foe. All he had to do was whisper the instructions to a few and the rest would follow their example.
All things in time, they don't need me holding their hands all the way.
He was done in moments, how long those moments lasted was uncertain. Days had passed for the simple minded mortals below and yet they passed in the blink of an eye to the gods above.
Zareth stood before his fellows. "Thank you, all of you. They're young but I know they will do great things some day. If there's ever anything I can do in return." He didn't have to say more.
The message from Melanthios hadn't gone unheard. But there was no mention of his accidental creations, had they escaped his attention? Hopefully it would stay that way for a while. If his brother noticed them then the Filli would surely follow and this race was still too young for such matters. No doubt there would come a time when the two would meet but until then these cold people would need to find their own way. I really do need something to call them. He went over a few ideas but none of them really seemed to fit them. No, let them find their own name. It wouldn't be as much fun if he did everything for them and forced his own ways on them.
Besides there were more pressing things to think of. What had happened on Eld. What Roe had said about Melanthios. And what the others might do about it. He remembered the moment Roe had told them about it in the hall, perhaps there was something he do about it or part of it at least."
"I still haven't seen these battlegrounds you're so proud of." He said to Aen. "And my sword arm IS starting to get a little lazy."
Once Zareth had his help, and accepting his offer to come train with them later, Aen led Roe back to the Battlegrounds. "Alright Roe, we've fought before but I didn't get a very full impression of your style. So this time, we're gonna go all out," he said with a motion towards the arena.
"Okay, will we really not get hurt in this place?" Roe asked eagerly as he followed Aen, drawing out his shining diamond sword from his belt.
"Well, I haven't gotten to test it out much but it should be f--" Aen stopped short, both from walking and talking. "Nivix? You finally unfroze, huh?"
"Oh. Hi Aen. Roe." Nivix nodded up at the two gods from the ground. "Yep, finally got out of that. Now I just need to get this thing back in working order." He waved his mechanical limb, still missing a few screws and fingers, to puncuate his point.
"That thing looks pretty beat up... wait... did you fight someone and I missed it?"
"You have a metal hand," Roe told Nivix with a curious expression.
"Yeah, Cassiel had it coming. Not sure where exactly he got off too; he was here just a minute ago...
"And yes, Roe, yes I do. It's pretty neat!"
"Why do you have it?" Roe asked.
The madman gave a noncommital shrug. "I blew off the other one by acctident."
"I think I can guess when, too. I heard about the incident in the Maroe Archipelago. The mortals still don't understand why it happened or how the blast was contained, but I don't think they are complaining."
"You could just regrow it again," Roe replied, waving his own hands around in the air to demonstrate.
Aen looked at the scars on his right palm, which he left uncovered. He thought he might understand why Nivix hadn't regrown his arm.
"True," the chemister agreed, rising up to a sitting position. "But what's the point of just healing any injury you ever incur? Sometimes it's good to leave a few nicks and scrapes; they tell stories that regular, whole bodies can't!"
"I suppose," Roe said uncommittedly, "once I was in a trap as a fox and a man cut my tail off! It really hurt so I grew it back and put a spell on him..." Roe smiled as he recalled the tricks he'd played on his unwitting aggressor.
Aen laughed and messed up the little god's hair. "No one can you make you do it, Roe. Sometimes people just like to have reminders. Though perhaps Nivix thought having a metal arm would also be interesting."
"Also that, yes." Nivix nodded enthusiastically, before going back to his work.
"Well, if you get it fixed up, feel free to join us. I need to go a few rounds with Roe, but the more people he can practice fighting, the better."
"Yes I want to train now!" Roe yelled and bounced around Aen excitedly.
"Yeah, yeah, sure." Waving his hand dismissively, Nivix rose up and walked to the edge of the Battlegrounds, where he could work in peace. "I'll join you once I've got this hunk of junk back up and working."
Aen drew his blade, careful not to hit Roe. He was glad to see the child in such high spirits. "Alright, we don't start til we enter, got it?"
"Okay," Roe replied with his best attempt at a serious expression and he followed Aen to the Battlegrounds. "Will it hurt if I get hit?" he asked.
Aen shrugged. "I don't know that yet. Never used this place. You can go back and ask Nivix if you want."
"I think he's busy," Roe said with a shrug, "can we have a sword fight first?"
He grinned. "Wouldn't have it any other way."
The pair entered the Battlegrounds and Roe brought out his sword with a mischievous grin, "I'm going to cut your butt off!" he chortled.
"I certainly hope not. I'd be a laughing stock of gods and mortals alike." He drew his second sword. "I guess I'd better not hold back on you then."
"I won't beat you too hard," Roe laughed and held his sword before him, facing Aen across the arena. "Can we fight now?" he asked.
Without any further warning, Roe leapt at Aen with Skye held high, aiming for the upper half of the elder god's body.
A little surprised at Roe's outright attack, Aen brought up one sword to block, turning into it and swinging at his opponent.
Roe bounced off Aen's timely block and landed on his feet. He bounced back and held his sword defensively again.
"You are quick!" he exclaimed.
"And you've got a lot to learn!" Aen feigned with his left-handed sword and swept at Roe's feet with his leg.
Roe leapt over Aen's leg and skipped around his fellow god, taking a few steps back. He stuck out his tongue at Aen.
"Ha ha, you can't get me!" he taunted.
Aen grinned. "You're just too tiny, is all."
Roe's smirk dropped and he pointed an accusing finger at Aen.
"It's not me that's too tiny, it's you that's too big!" He bounced forward again and aimed this time for Aen's legs, hoping to cut his opponent down to size.
"Of course you would do that," he said with a laugh. He swung for Roe's sword, hoping to throw the child's grip off balance.
Aen's blow hit Skye hard and almost knocked the weapon out of Roe's hands, he was thrown to the side and skid along the dusty ground but managed to hold on to his blade. He leapt up and found himself staring at Aen from the side. A grin spread across his face and he threw himself at the elder god, his sword aimed squarely at Aen's backside.
Aen didn't move quite in time, and ended with a nasty cut along his rear. "You little--!" He brought both swords down on the little brat.
"Ha ha, I cut your...." Roe started but he never finished his sentence as Aen brought down both his swords at once upon the young god. He deflected one blade but the other cut deep into his shoulder, steel biting deep into the bone. Roe fell back with a cry, tears filling his eyes.
"You alright, Roe? It seems this place only numbs the pain, not removing it completely." He felt an itch as the area began healing his wound already. He supposed that meant the fight counted as over.
"Ouch, that hurt!" Roe cried, clutching his bleeding shoulder in horror. The pain quickly evaporated though as the wound healed itself, leaving the child tear-stained but unharmed.
"Sorry, Roe. I suppose I shouldn't have been so rough. However... other enemies are really going to try to kill you, and it'll hurt even more. You have to be prepared for that if you're going to fight." Aen crouched down to look at the child's wound to make sure it was healing properly before even the clothes covering it were stitched back together. Ren had done a good job making this place. He wondered why Nivix's arm took permanent damage, though.
"It's not fair, I wanted to win," Roe pouted as Aen checked his wound, though his sulkiness evaporated as quickly as the pain when he remembered the fight, "I did get to cut your butt though, even if it didn't fall off," he added with a grin.
"Yeesh. I didn't think you would actually try to do that too."
"You're funny Aen," Roe laughed, he wiped away the last of his tears and pulled himself to his feet. "That was a good fight, next time I'll win though."
"The more practice you get, the better you'll be. So I don't doubt it... if you train enough that is."
"I'm going to become the best hero anywhere," Roe replied, "just wait, one day,"
Akladai moved the scythe in his hand, he was smiling as the felt its power. "And now on to phase two of the plan." He muttered to himself as he left the room, and locked it behind himself. He teleported to his private study, hidden inside a mountaintop on Salustutis. He grabbed a few books, and quickly reread a few pages. "This should work, now to find some candidates. " He teleported into the capitol, disguised as an high ranking Striga. He knew there was a group of priests nearby, they were perfect for what he had in mind.
He walked towards the priests, and reached into space. He took Amour and the Orb of infinity from his younger brother. The priest were in the middle of their prayers, they were praying to him right know. He grabbed Amour and the orb of infinity, he slowly began playing music. The music filled the room, the orb began to form new ideas and those were carried along by the tunes of the music. He then stood up and walked away, his ideas transferred to his newest guild. He then teleported both of the artifacts, he was sure either Valerie or Maeglin could use it. Finally he placed the scythe inside the church, he was sure one of them was worthy of using it.
Maeglin returned home to find a new letter on his throne. It was strange to receive two letters on the same day, but he didn't mind at all. The two artifacts were grabbed by his brother, but he was sure he would get them back soon enough. He opened the letter and began reading it, his face turned white as he dropped the letter. "What?... Why? " He stepped back and hit the wall with his back. He then lowered himself until he was sitting, staring at the letter in disbelief.
"But why does he want me to do that? " He slowly lifted the letter again and reread it. It talked about a weapon of mass destruction, capable of destroying entire cites....no countries at once. He then reread the letter, and slowly it began to make sense to him. "So its for defense...Just like Goliath. It's for keeping people outside...and making sure they leave us alone. " He sighed relieved as he ripped the letter apart, and then unmade it. "I knew you wouldn't ask me to do such a thing father. " He said standing up as he smiled. Suddenly the two items of power appeared in front of him, he picked them up smiling.
He ordered the 500 best and most trustworthy Dues Filli scientists to meet him. Once they had all gathered around him at the table, wondering why they had been asked to gather, he stood up. "Greetings gentleman, I have gathered you here today to speak about an idea. " He picked up Amour and the orb smiling, using this was almost too easy. He began playing a new song, one his father had written for him. "I wish for all of you, to make an weapon of unforeseen power. " He finished his song, and the eyes of the scientist before him were empty. "I will leave you know gentleman, take all the time you need. " He walked away smiling, his father would be proud.
Grix roamed through the winter skies of Salustis' frozen reaches. It was a blizzard, and the skies were empty beside him. Even on Evalon, his brothers and sisters rarely flew in weather like this. What an empty thing, a clear sky. Grix decided he did not wish it to be so any longer. Quickly, he flew back to Evalon and circled the mountains, until he finally found what he was looking for. She was younger, and sleek, and had scales that shone like pearls. He took her in the usual fashion of dragons, roaring his challenge and diving at her, with her racing away. It wasn't that she didn't want him, but that he had to prove he was worthy enough by catching her. It didn't have to take long, but he made it into a game, rounding on her and then wheeling back, proving that he could at any time. Finally, he clutched her in his talons, and dragged her down out of the sky and into the land. Just before he took her, he breathed in the north wind. Her children would be filled with the cold. They'd need it where they'd be living.
Aen 14/30, 2/2
Ugh, Grix! Aen thought as he blocked out his link with his partner. Yes, they shared quite a bit of a soul and mind, but that didn't mean he wanted to know exactly what the dragon was up to. Smug bastard is probably trying to hint something at me. Aen sighed aloud and bit his lip. His partner's... mood was definitely effecting him, and he shook his head to clear his thoughts. He figured he'd go check on the Stryfe, and that perhaps the cold would do him some good.
The Stryfe themselves were growing larger all the time. Zareth had certainly made a tough bunch to kill, but that seemed to be his way of doing things, whether he knew it or not. They'd just begun to gain some knowledge in weapons, and that pleased Aen further. He thought he might definitely enjoy this species. They were young, however, and it would be difficult for them to survive much in the way of conflict. Perhaps he could help them out somehow. He snapped a branch off of a tree, taking a moment to be amazed that it could even grow out here, and began shaping it into a bow. He took a piece of his hair and fashioned it into a string, a drop of his blood served for him to draw a single rune upon it. These people may live in the cold, but they had a fierce fire within them to survive in this place. This would let those that burned the brightest make use of it.
Eventually, Isond made his way out of the forest. The spiders had begun spinning their webs, and would soon spread. There were other spiders that had also been affected by the blessing, those on other continents. It wouldn't be long before all began to fear the Achttoten, the supreme predator. He let his mind drift on his new creations for a moment. Perhaps they could be induced to catch smaller dragons, as regular spiders catch flies. The thought brought a grin to Isond's face. He might need to try to make an eve larger one to catch a particularly annoying fly.
Isond returned to the capital, he let himself be seen, blending into the crowd, adopting the new styles of the time. He wandered the city for a time, admiring all the changes that had taken place. New construction and additions were being made across the city, renovations of some of the more ruined buildings after so many millenia. Outside the city walls, more serious construction was underway, a new quarter of wood and metal to contain the growing population. Dark smoke was rising from new industries being erected. Everything will change soon. Isond thought, travelling through the ancient city, then shook his head, Everything has already changed. Now the only thing to do was wait for that thought to catch up to the rest of the Empire.
Out of curiosity, Isond began visiting all the back-alley hideouts and clandestine meeting places that had been popular in his own time. Sure enough, they were still in use, though it seemed a slow day for intrigue, he had only come across six secret meetings after checking out ten of the locations. Every single discussion was about the same boring, back-stabbing blither that had been the order of the day back when he was still alive. Something needed to happen to these people, something important. A change was needed to meet a change that was coming.
Isond leaned back against one of the buildings, then left behind his corporeal form. He revisited every meeting place, and found every member who was there. Every one of them, he marked with his power, travelling from location to location, until he made it to the final hideaway that he knew of. A dozen lainir officials were cluttered around a small table, glasses in front of them. It seemed they were deep into their discussion. "Now, I can understand what you're saying," Said one richly dressed member of the meeting, "But you're going to need to offer something more...substantial in return."
"I've offered enough for this deal." A robed figure said, rising, "Don't forget, I have a few friends who know quite a bit about your activities with the dwarves."
"Yes, I have a few business partners overseas." The well-dressed figure responded, "It's not a particularly great secret. Oh, that reminds me, did you get your invitation to Lord Gibrin's daughter's funeral? Nasty bit of business that."
There was no change in the position of either lainir, but Isond sensed a greater tension in the room. He couldn't help but roll his eyes at the proceedings. Politics. He thought. If he couldn't get them to stop all the political bickering, he could at least change the subject to something more useful. He went around the table, tapping the mind of each figure before departing.
"My friends." A third figure rose up, "This line of questioning gets us nowhere. I believe it is time to discuss matters of more importance. We should begin considering our relationship with the rest of Evalon, and our own relative position. I think it's time we began pursuing some...aggressive expansion."
M'endaxius - 0/30 AP, 2/2 MP
It strolled out of the hall, leaving the mess behind. It was only a partial success, sure and there were more gods to speak to. But for now, peace. But this wasn't the place for peace, nor for thoughts. M'endar swapped this background for another, a background of underground chambers and obsidian walls. It got out the shards from under the rope and reflected on recent events. M'endar had only wanted Seith out of the picture, and it assumed that it was the same with Vantric and Pentar, and Melanthios and Ailish. But if there were opposition from other sources - opposition that was uncalled for - then that would be have to be dealt with as well. Whether it would be in battle or in debates. The former was more likely, as from the other god's actions it could discern that Nivix was nothing but self-destructive and Aen was twisted by a set of ideals and his lust for battle. Furthermore, they were deluded, deceiving themselves to think the contrary. How ironic. Nevertheless that was enough thinking, now there was peace and now it should rest. It placed the shards back and walked to the more secluded chambers in Umbraculum.
Zs'Wua'Itzala - 0/8 AP
She smiled at her creation and the bewildered look on the dragons' faces, at least they would have a chance now rather than the opposite - being constantly devoured by the winged lizards. But why not tip the scales further? She went to the first broodmother and stroked her. A flock of the smaller males were buzzing about like flies, but Zs'Wua brushed them away. It was funny, she couldn't help but feel a kinship with these creatures. Perhaps it was because of the power given to her - domination over shadow - or maybe because she was simply found these things of shadow interesting. Nevertheless, that was a question for another day. Now, she whispered words to help her focus with the spell. One slip up, and the spell could go wrong, even do the exact opposite of her intentions. Zs'Wua had tasted failure once, she hoped that would be the only time. And with trepidation, she wasted the broodmother in shadow. She whispered into the bat's ear her hopes for the first of the broodmothers, 'You shall be know as Ti'amat, Mother of a Thousand Young and Shadow of the Night for as long as your mortal life allows. May that be a long time indeed...'
After a while in the library, Dåre went outside on his carpet. He stared towards the portal, his mind was still buzzing with all these thoughts. Thoughts, and colors and... things. It was bothering him, he really wanted to explore a place where no other god had been. Suddenly, he got an idea. If one was to explore a place, why not make that place oneself? A new planet, it had no real form in his mind, but he started creating it, sitting on his carpet. Every idea, thought, everything was placed in that planet. He felt that it was difficult, and remembered how Melanthios had helped him before. Perhaps he would this time as well? "Melanthios, I'm making a place to explore! Do you want to help?" After a short while, he felt Melanthios helping him, assisting him with the creation. "Thank you." It took form, even he didn't know how it would turn out.
Vantric: 16, 1
Vantric returned to the Grand Ascension. He completed his teleportation and immediately began storming through the fortress, the devils he took to the meeting following close on his heels. The meeting had gone roughly as well as he had expected, which was to say poorly. Still, a temporary peace was in place, and the others would probably keep it for a while, if only to keep up appearances. Now he had to inform several of the most irascible beings in existence of the exact terms that had been ironed out in their meeting, all of whom would probably dismiss his notices as fabrications. A peace of sorts had settled, and could be relied on so long as one side was unable to strike. That was good enough, for the moment.
Suddenly, Vantric stopped, causing the devils to almost bowl into him. He quickly rounded on them as they tried desperately to right themselves. "Three of you will be sent to inform our absent gods what has occurred at the meeting." He said. The devils only nodded vigorously in response. He began pointing to them individually. "You, go to Evermoor, find Zareth, and tell him." He snapped his finger, teleporting the devil away. "You, find Pentar." Another teleportation. "And you, Cassiel." A final teleportation. "The rest of you," He turned on the remaining seven, some of whom were trembling slightly, "Find Calath. I expect him in that study in five minutes." He began walking toward one of the smaller studies he kept up as the devils began dashing off in different directions, looking for their leader.
Vantric entered the cozy study and eased himself into one of the chairs. The design was very much like that of the hundreds of other studies, though, like all of them, there were fine details that differentiated them. The desk was made of a darker wood than the one he had entertained Aen in earlier. The chairs were upholstered in a calming blue, rather than the ornate red, and there was a rather nice bust of himself which, if tilted back, pushed the fireplace back to reveal a descent into one of the hidden lower levels. The little things.
A few minutes later, the door to the study opened and a figure slowly walked in. Vantric didn't need to see the arrival to know it was Calath. "You summoned me, my lord?" Calath asked, standing still behind the armchair, out of Vantric's view.
The god gestured to the chair opposite him, and waited for the High Speaker to take his seat before talking. "You said earlier that you wanted to discuss some of the details of your contract?"
"Yes, that I did." The devil produced a few small pieces of paper and the jar. He handed the jar over to the god, "This is yours. Now, it says here that we are to perform certain duties for you, however, you never specifically outline what these duties are."
"And you would like a clarification? Of course. Primary duties to serving me involve the maintenance of the fortress, defense of myself and my personal property, and another, more specialized duty which I believe you are uniquely suited for."
Calath leaned forward at the last statement. "And this 'specialized duty' is?"
Vantric smiled. He raised his hand and a scroll appeared in it. "This." He handed it over to Calath who began reading it intently. "You will offer this bargain to the mortals, and see that it is carried out to the letter."
Calath soon looked up from the contract. "My lord, this is a rather...tempting deal and it would be my pleasure to carry it out but...Can we do this? It seems something a bit...outside our area of expertise."
"I will see to it that you have enough power to enact this bargain." Vantric said sternly. "It is your duty to carry it out."
"Yes, my lord." Calath said, hurriedly, the beginnings of a smile playing on his lips, "It seems that our true calling will begin at last."
Vantric got up, tapping the jar with his left hand and shook the devil's hand with his right, "That it will, Calath, that it will."
Things had been set in motion. These creatures knew their place. They knew what they had to do, and what she wanted them to do. In time, they would know the name of their goddess, but not yet. Soon though. Aryx ascended above the city, stretching out her wings. This was a new world, and there was so much to explore.
Aryx flew overhead, seeing all the landscapes, the variation in the texture and composition of the world beneath her. All the variety and difference that had been missing on Coelus. In flight, she soon noticed something, far off in the distance. It was cold, and getting colder. Soft white things were falling from the sky, and as Aryx flew threw them, she felt them melt into water on her skin. Some kind of water state? She thought. It was strange, and wonderful.
Looking down, Aryx found that even the people changed. They were no longer the refined, cultured peoples she had previously met. Instead, they were now rugged and savage. Tall blue killers in squalid societies. She descended and walked among them, still unseen to mortals. They were simple people, she observed, simple and straightforward. Evidently they had only just realized that tools could be used more effectively than limbs for certain tasks, but still, they were progressing nicely, she supposed.
Aryx couldn't sense the same magical spark in these people that she had in the others of this world. Evidently, they were an unrelated peoples. Perhaps something could be done about their lack of magic, She considered. There was something different about these people, something not present in the grigori, or others of this world. It was a sense of...she couldn't quite describe it. It was something worth investigating, though.
After wandering about one of their villages, she encountered one of the beast-men standing before a field. He was looking over a field where markers were. Piles of stone or wooden stakes. Simple things that the people had some sort of strange reverence for. It took Aryx a while before she thought she knew what the field was for. It was a cemetery, a place where the dead were interred. She had never seen such a place before. Fascinating.
She turned back toward the figure beside her. Something about him was interesting to Aryx, something about him was worth cultivating, if only for curiosity's sake. She reached out to him with her power. This creature was interested in death, and Aryx wanted to test whether this power would work. The blue figure bent over, clutching the ground for support, and began howling in pain, and as it howled a sharp wind picked up in the north, and the ground began shaking. The Death Caller soon began to stop, and rose up.
Roe - 16, 0 and Petal - 3
Some time later Roe bid farewell to Melanthios and Daare, then made his way back to his small home in the Hallowed Court. Petal was tending the fire when he entered, a small pile of flowers lay by her side.
"Hey Pets," he called.
"Roe!" she leapt up and came to greet the young god with an affectionate hug. "I was at a wedding, it gave me some great ideas for ours!"
"What?" Roe sputtered, "Oh right I forgot about that... eh, what happened?" He hoped the question could buy him some time until he could change the subject to something less embarrassing.
The Storyteller sat back and continued his tale, handing his pipe to a child for refilling.
"Inspiration occupied many gods and demigods in their last acts, Zareth granted his new race the knowledge of how to craft tools and all that would entail. Aryx also gave a gift to the Styfe, giving one of their number the ability to raise the dead. Akladai inspired two hundred and fifty Dues Filli monks to create a new branch within their faith, while his brother Maeglin encouraged five hundred scientists of that race to design and create a new weapon.
High up in the Hallowed Court, Vantric gave the devils a new command, that they should provide contracts for immortality to mortals but anyone who agreed would sacrifice not only something that they love but also their soul. Daare meanwhile created a new planet with the help of Melanthios, the first time a god had summoned a celestial body since the creation of Oculus Pets at the end of the Second Age.
Meanwhile on Evalon, Isond inspired a small group of the Lainir to begin shifting their empire in a more militant direction. Zs'Wua blessed just a single mortal creature, giving a broodmother by the name of Ti'amat the power to hide in shadows and turn invisible for a short time. Grix's mating lead to the creation of a new breed of dragon whilst Aen created a great bow to help the Styfe survive. Finally Petal's timely intervention saved the life of the bride of the King of Chama and lead to the creation of a new mortal item: the Mandate of the Bride.
Thus after an age of bloodshed, debate and finally peace, the Third Age drew to a close. Not even the gods knew what the next age would hold and only time would tell whether the truce agreed in the Meeting Hall would last or not..."
M'endaxius - Interage
"Dreams are dangerous things..."
Its feet walked the halls down to the cell that lay ahead. It was not a cell for confinement, but for contemplation. It was a smooth hollow made of smooth dark stone speckled with white streaks. M'endar clambered inside. The fires of war had burnt down to cinders, the bells had tolled the end of this age and now flesh was hardening, stiffening and soon a thick carapace lay where simple skin had been. It was not a rough shell like those that crawled underneath the waves, but more like its very flesh had turned into polished dark granite with a green sheen. Inside however, was a different story. Wounds closed at an astonishing speeds both giving pleasure and pain to the god inside the shell. M'endar was pleased that the healing process had begun, but the chaotic, almost random, fluctuation in the flesh as one end of the wounds seeked the other, wrapping the mass inside the sinister, rigid and cold cocoon.
Inside the mind of the Deceiver, there was no solace to be found either, for the pain had coursed through its mind like poisonous waters. The channels themselves bore the brunt of the anguish. Dark tunnels stretched on forever only to be engulfed by searing light that brought a headache to the sleeping god. The dreamscape tumbled about, pity M'endar couldn't toss and turn to match it, as more searing spears burned after-images in the god's vision. Then, a vertical plunge into extreme darkness. There was just... nothing, nothing but sound. Sounds of something crawling, something approaching. But M'endar couldn't move - it was stuck. No matter, it would face this unknown foe. However, a vortex opened and swallowed the beast, and the next volley of the searing spears. Its breath condensed into mist as it panted. Finally it was... over? But nightmares humour no one, and the ground beneath its feet collapsed...
"...For divine power leaks from the dream into the waking world."
Nivix - Interage
The meeting had been... interesting, to say the least. Nivix could appreciate the appeal that peace must have held to some of the other gods, but he couldn't manage to convince himself that it was something worth pursuing or trusting in. Peace was something far too fragile to exist in a world like this one.
But hey, what did he care? It was none of his business if the other deities wanted to delude themselves about their violent tendencies. It wasn't like everyone could be as well balanced as him, anyway.
Besides, he had another project to focus on.
He hovered before Niv, a single speck in the near infinite expanse that comprised the universe. Basking in the brilliant glory of his first, and greatest, creation, the god allowed himself a moment of rest and contemplation. Melanthios... Melanthios had never been his friend, no matter how many projects they had worked on together. He had been a partner, a fellow scholar and creator, one to collaborate and work with. But a friend? Never. He had only ever had one friend; he had no need for another, not for the rest of his existence.
And now that Melanthios had finally shone his true colors, there wasn't the slightest trace of doubt in the madman's mind. He needed to put a stop to the bastard's schemes, and what better way than to simply remove the schemer himself? Well, not literally remove him, but just cripple him enough so that he couldn't ever seal away someone ever again... It was the surest, simplest way to ensure that Melanthios would never make the world less interesting again, that much was for sure.
But, for all his talk about beating some sense into his fellow god, Nivix couldn't deny that he was... scared was the wrong word for it. Worried? Uncertain? Certainly something along those lines.
Melanthios, when he got right down to it, was just as powerful as he was. Beneath all the items, all the demigods, all the allies and tricks and abilities, they were equals. Children of the first light, given the same power to shape and decide the fate of all creation. Their power was equivalent; there was simply no way around it.
So there was always a chance that he wouldn't win.
Melanthios could very well overpower him, and leave him to rot. Worse, he could kill him or seal him away, like he had done to Ailish or Seith. His end could very well be creeping closer and closer.
...And so what?
Nivix had no illusions about his eventual end. The odds of him lasting for all eternity were absolutely nil; even if nobody else moved against him, he'd do something stupid enough to wipe him from reality. Even with Ven keeping an eye on him, there was no way he'd stick around forever.
So what if he ended up losing against Melanthios?! So what if he ended up dead or trapped in some other plane?! What did it matter if this was his end?! He would have gone out fighting to keep the world interesting, given his last breath in an attempt to keep fear, censorship, and control from ruling the universe! And that, that was something worth risking everything for.
Reaching out, Nivix snatched a bit of Niv's fire. Teleporting back to Evalon, he picked up a bit of soil. Flashing into the emptiness between planets and stars, he smashed them together with all of his force.
On the slim chance that this really was his last stand, he wanted to make sure that the scenery was perfect.
Zareth - Interage
The years that followed were hectic ones for The Ghostfather. For the most part his attentions were occupied by the affairs in Evermoor. The Afterworld was growing all the time, the spirits that inhabited it were busy little things and as always they longed for a sense of the familiar. The dwarf mountain hold and the Verr coastal resting grounds remained largely unchanged, but the other cultures had a less defined sense of what awaited them. So they simply repeated what they knew and made what they likes. All over the glowing green fields and towering canyons of Evermoor sprang up cities and towns. Collections of patchwork buildings made up of Eld and Evalon designs. Things which couldn't possibly exist in the 'Real' world but fortunately the science of Evermoor was far more forgiving. The Stryfe, new as they were, found themselves spread out everywhere after death. Some showed the same defiant stubbornness the first of their dead had shown and dived back into life, ready for a second round. Others were happy enough exploring this new world and all the strange things inhabiting it, it was a whole new adventure to them. Most found their way to the dwarf's mountain rest hall. They were amused by the little stunty things and found their strange drinks to their liking. For their part the dwarfs were happy to have finally found another race that could keep up with them.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Stryfe - their choice of name - had been busy. Zareth had spent some time walking among them, seeing their society grow and change. They developed into semi-ordered societies, holds headed by 'Kalds'. These were often the largest or most cunning of Stryfes that managed to kill or cow down the rest of their competition. They got to boss around the other Stryfe, got the best cuts of food and got the best seat in the long hall. Their rises to power were usually bloody. Down to their bones the Stryfe respected strength above all other things, something plenty of them had. The idea of passing things on through blood ties was foreign to them and would have caused more trouble than it was worth thanks to the size of the average Stryfe family. This made power in their culture very easy to take but nigh impossible to keep.
As they grew so did their legends, Zareth was sure drop hints and spread stories of the gods and their deeds. Of course doing these things by word of mouth had its downsides and most of the Stryfe who retold his stories tended to change a few details and make the stories 'better'. Small shrines began to pop up dedicated to the spirits. Tiny ones by the hearth for the house spirits. Battered ones in the woods for the wild spirits. Icons in the forges for the helper spirits. And larger ones scatted in the holds and great caves for the grand spirits and their thanes. Slowly but surely the stories of the gods took on new lives of their own. Seen more as stories and good luck charms rather than a real religion. The Styfe were not ones for prayer, they knew the grand spirits did not stir for mortals without being shown or offered something in return. Maybe a thane spirit could be called but most might regret such an action.
By the dawn of the new age The Stryfe had gained a grasp of craft and metal work. The holds had grown in size and busied themselves with in fighting and warring among each other. Faith and unity were far from any Stryfe mind. But with the coming of the next age the coastal holds discovered strange unknown creatures coming from the sea. They kept to themselves mostly but when they began to spread onto hold grounds the Kalds saw their chance. Raiding parties and scouts were sent out. The chance for new treasures and glory was there and the Stryfe take it.
The god eased back into his chair. Calath had left only a few minutes ago to begin organizing the devils and preparing to depart to Evalon, Salustutis, Eld, perhaps even Coelus if the grigori ever got it into their heads that there was more to the universe than a diamond rock adrift in space. For a few minutes, he could relax, after the meetings and the warring, it felt good to simply stop for a few moments. He shut his eyes, sunk deeper into the chair, and listened to the crackle of the fire. It was peaceful. There was no battle to fight, no threats to deal with immediately, no annoying apprentice to...
Vantric's eyes shot open. Where in all the hells is Isond? He thought. It was then that he heard the familiar clank of metal echoing down the halls. Wasting no time, the god pushed himself up and exited the study to deal with another of the universe's most irascible beings. He found Isond wandering about, casually strolling through the fortress, making no hurry to report. "Isond." Vantric addressed his apprentice.
The war god nodded in response to his boss, "Sir."
"Where have you been?" Vantric impatiently drummed his fingers on the honey jar.
Isond shrugged, "I needed another vacation. Also, just a warning, I'm probably going to be taking leaves of absence more frequently. Having to deal with you and the grigori is just..." He waved his hands, unable to complete the thought, "Speaking of, where is the witch?"
"What's wrong? Miss me?" Aryx asked as she, too, returned. She adopted her typical haughty pose and smiled down at Isond, who cracked his knuckles in response.
"Both of you, stop it. Now." Vantric said, placing himself between his apprentice and protege. "There's enough trouble outside without you two starting a fight in here." With that, he marched down the hall, gesturing to his two demigods to follow which they quickly did. "I'll expect a report from both of you soon enough. I have enough trouble keeping up with everyone else's activities, you two, at least, should keep me informed of what you're doing." He took a sharp turn, then several more. The maze-like architecture that would baffle and confuse mortals and most gods was child's play for Vantric to navigate. He had designed the fortress, after all.
"You two also need to be informed of certain things. A peace of sorts has come into play. We will not be directly attacking our enemies for a time."
"WHAT?" Isond shouted, skidding to a halt. Vantric and Aryx turned back to him, "You can't mean that. Cassiel is-"
"A minor difficulty." Vantric completed the thought, "He's a fool of Seith's who will die soon enough."
"Not for me." The war god grumbled, "This is a mistake. We should kill him now before he causes any more problems."
"What's the matter, Isond?" Aryx taunted, "Are you afraid of a bully? One of the gods being mean to you?"
Isond turned to Aryx, tightly controlled anger burning in his eyes, "Can I at least kill her?"
"No." Vantric rolled his eyes, "She's quite useful, also she livens this place up. You could learn a bit from her."
"Permission to gore myself if that happens?"
"Granted. Now then, Cassiel will be dealt with in time, and you will get your chance to kill him, but not before I give the order. Is that understood?"
Isond turned back to his master, both gods staring each other down, neither willing to blink. Eventually, Isond relented. "Fine." The younger god spat, "But I get to keep his head as a trophy."
"Very well." The trio began walking the halls again. "There are certain figures of interest that we're going to be keeping an eye on. A new figure has joined our ranks-Daare. I want to know everything that there is to know about him. Aen is another person of interest, as is that apprentice of his, Ren. I want to know what there is about them."
"Leave it to me."
Eventually, the group arrived at a large set of double doors. Unlike most of the rooms in the fortress, this one required a key, which Vantric produced from within the folds of his cloak. It was a complicated lock, in three different locks all interconnected and at different heights on the door, unable to pick due to the severe differences between each individual lock. Vantric pushed past his demigods and inserted the key into a stone on the wall opposite the door, seemingly solid, though the key slid in as though it were thin air. There was a series of clicks and the door opened.
The god of ambition led his apprentice and protege into the room, a large model of the solar system in exacting scale was raised in the middle, dominating the large room. "Welcome to the planning room." Vantric announced.
Both Isond and Aryx began making their way around the room, inspecting the models and the various tables along the walls where large sheaves of paper were piled. "This room helps me keep an eye on things, in as much as I need to." He noticed that his apprentice and protege had both begun inspecting the model of Evalon. Isond for nostalgia, Aryx for curiosity. Vantric took his place behind them, admiring the world. "A fascinating place." He remarked, the pair not taking much note of him. "Mortals. So secretive, so skittish. They keep secrets from the world, from themselves even." Vantric smiled. "Why don't we do something about that?" He tapped the model of Evalon, and a small black spot appeared under his finger, and began to grow. With his other hand, Vantric took out his coin and tossed it in the air.
-Double post, please ignore-