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AMBIENT

1-Metera Tech
2-Marquisate Tech
3-BURN THE BRIDGE
4-Receivers
5-Detection?
6-Urtelem martial art?
7-Hot Planet
8-Cold Planet

OVAEDIS

1-Isonymph
2-Isonymph
3-Isonymph
4-Isonymph
5-Metera

Metera Tech- Treadmill Crane, Horse Collar, Silk, Paragliding
Marquisate Synth-

G-Awaken
G-Burn the Bridge
S-Isonymph
G-Quake
S-Metera
S-Planet 1
G-Metera Completed
S-Planet 2
G-Fractals

S-Isonymph
G-Receivers
G-Receivers Story
G-Lambda
--
Lambda
Receivers
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A new day dawned upon the Fractal Sea.

Dolphins sprang from the water in glittery kicks. Algae waved and wandered on currents never mapped. Somewhere beyond, an albatross circumnavigated the globe.

And the following words echoed from the depths: Though Gallows Fall, and Love may know yet Strife, still a Rope of Thorns Ungardened locks us to that Romance of the Young, and a Noose that Tightens only strangles Roses of the Future.

...

Like a seedling chasing sun, Jvan began to slough her shell.
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Charcoal ruins cracked from within, casting black ichor into already-lightless water- Dark clouds that crept back into the labyrinth whose breaking brought them forth. One wall at a time, the cathedral quavered and fell, and unseen currents pulled it inwards.

Carmine light ignited in the darkness.

Great spires long burnt were pushed outwards to sink in the ocean. They fell like dark pieces of sky, a motion that defied their awesome scale, morbid memorials long-standing now torn down for resurrection.

Reality fizzed and began to condense.

Water swept into the core in hurricane currents. Beneath the carbon, grey distortion bubbled, spread like oil on water, sank back and arose again and again.

The grey became iron and the iron pooled and dissolved over the surface of All-Beauty, forming plates forming walls forming volcanic forms that collided and hardened, organic and inorganic, spreading layer over layer until they split at the center and the void yawned within.



And sprawling in the darkness, Jvan took her last breath, and burst into the light.

The ocean swelled as twisting metal tore it apart.

Unending plains and walls of iron rose fell warped and plunged back into the water only to rise again streaming with white, steaming and screaming with fatigue as it split open to reveal the heaving flesh beneath. From the gates into infinity reached great hands, hands like trees rooted in shadow, hands that dwarved mountains with too many wrists and too many fingers, and grappled the fizzing plates.

Jvan gripped herself and tore. Ferrous bone ripped into endless, jagged blades. The hands bled into the fog.

And growing still, the ball of void and shrapnel teeth began to laugh.
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* * *


In the place that some call Hades and others the Abyss, where the depths of the earth and the depths of the sea are one and the same, where carbon pyramids fell from above to pile up in great heaps on the pitted sea below, a new life began to stir.

It was life born of hatred, life born of pain. It was life barely living, and life full of rage.

It was a being with breath and thought, and that thought was, 'B̸̨̡U͜R̀N͠ ́̕TH͢E̕͘ ̕B̵̨RI͢͢D͞G͠͏É̵͘'.

The great worm uncoiled, and stretched from the tearing iron that had been its silent home, emerging from a cavity long since dormant. It grew as it moved, and in the folds of its body five slits emerged, and they opened wide, became eyes.

And the rippled face of the being split open, and was filled with teeth.

The worm began to move.

B͘͝͡UR̡͡N̴̨ ̢T̷̶H́E̢͠ ̶̴BR̴̀I̛͝͞DG͘͢E̕̕.

Whole reefs crumbled beneath its weight, and great floods burst at its sides. The wrinkles on its surface split further, deeper, and branched tentacles ripped from its body.

It travelled east.

A cliff stood before the being, and a cliff was surmounted. The sun scorched its back, for so huge it had grown that only the abyss could support it. It crawled towards the land. Its head began to bifurcate.

And before it stood a wall.

B̷͢U̷͏͝Ŗ̷̕͡N͟҉̡͠ ̡͝͠T̶̀͡͏͞Ḩ̸͠Ę̀͟͠͏ ̢͟B̶͘͏̕R̨̢I͝͠D̡҉҉̴̛G̸̨E̕҉͞

The great worm started to accelerate, for that was what it was made to do.

Stone rose above and beyond it, stretching towards either side for ever and ever.

B҉͘͝U̴̡҉̧Ŗ͘͠͞N̵̛͘͜

Unstoppable force met immovable object.

T̸̨͠H̡͜E̴̡

The being collided with the wall with a shudder that rocked the globe.

҉̸̸͏B̶̸҉̧R҉̶͘͠I҉̵̢͘͜D̛̀͢͞G̡͠҉͟͝E̴̡̢͘͝

From end to end, the land bridge stretching between the Firewind and the southern ice began to crumble. The worm chewed and thrashed and roiled, and did not cease falling to pieces, but split again and again into halves and quarters, worms upon worms that latched on to the great stone wall, and crushed it with their teeth. By the time the moons were full, there was nothing but dust.

Dust, and the mountainous shells of worms, rising like islands across an ocean once halved.
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* * *


Jvan laughed, and the void laughed with her.

Where Diaphanes flew and Realta bobbed upon a glittering river, the great island of Ovaedis once more began to swivel. Splashes of colourful stone swept up over its side as its gate spun outwards, into deep space.

The portal opened, and into the darkness spat.

Noiselessness once more. Nothing but a carmine streak, blurring into the night.

Yet through the emptiness, cackles carried still.

* * *
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As Jvan grew, her hands stretched not just into the sky and flesh, but speared into the earth.

Like roots they grasped, and pulled into the fiery soil. The stone gave way like softened glass, warm and supple. Cthonic spirits swarmed around the disruption and were powerless.

Jvan pawed at the mantle, sensing the way it moved.

Was she not vast? Could she not map this darkness by its echoes? Was there not here a heated shadow, a quiet core that had long years spun and spun, winding up like a toy?

The hands of God laid claim to what was theirs. They shivered, and like light, their sound did pulse through depths unknown.

Unfelt and unheard, the void below shuddered like the void above. Jvan's body moved like a heart, singing a tuneless beat, one that ricocheted through earth and fire and iron and earth again.

With each beat the echoes grew stronger, collided and bent around bubbles of nickel, exploring Galbar. Jvan's weight collided again and again with the stone on which she sat, her mass a stick upon a drum, until the planet was moving to her rhythm.

And the music climaxed, as she knew it would, and kinetic energy focused, as she knew it would, like sunlight through a lens- On a named and numbered mountain, where pressure had been building since the beginning of time.

On a plateau of wind-carved rock, Bormahven began to shake.
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* * *


As calculations rang true and mass showed its worth, the manufactory gazed once more upon the blue of the planet below.

Where a great white fog had risen to hide the body of All-Beauty, swept up by heat and motion, a second cloud was rising over the Ironhearts. It was grey and brown, a streak of taupe that carried with the wind and swept far over the ocean, and where the sound in the fog was rending metal, here there were only rumbles and cracks.

Djinni rose and roiled in the ash. Fire swarmed out, its kingdom wrecked; Air came to meet it, fearing invasion; Earth raised its hands, warning chaos; and Water swore vengeance for the pollution of its realm.

And in a shining Heaven, the change-eaters massed like sharks. It was time.

The great grub descended, its blasphemy complete, and spilled forth colour from its womb.

Unnatural light spilled into the ash. Gaudy and twisted, its tongues scorched the world, desiccating the planet they had been promised.

A thousand predators made ten thousand shapes, and the Sorority laid claim to its own.

Its voice was sweetest laughter.

* * *
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Ovaedis watched with its million eyes. All of Lex watched with it. The world reposed in a net of marbled spheres, motionless above the planet they had been set to watch.

The array seemed to blink.

A moment of true vision was taken and locked. The core of the satellite kicked once more, its umbilicus whipping in the factory as the fetal mechanism stared into the worlds beyond.

A slick of glass spilled over the planet and rained in unbroken streams.

Unseen needles were flying from the maw of the Cancer's Womb, long enough almost to stretch between Lex and the world itself. They liquified in the upper atmosphere, forming pools as if to imitate the oceans below, or even the clouds between. And as the seas and mountains bent in their grip, like shapes seen through a twisted lens, they brought forth a monsoon.

The torrent struck deep into the ashen cloud. Droplets collided and began to coalesce in the sun-halting grey, as if to form a storm of their own within the volcanic haze. Obscured by the heat and dust, the twisted rain began to form into sheets, bending into whirlpools.

Matter warped in their grip, and was siphoned away into stony beams. Vaporised stone collected on the winds of distortion and was reassembled under its own speed and weight. Dust called to dust.

One particle at a time, the twisters began to build.

* * *
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* * *


The cackling carmine streak flew on. At its back gazed the night, and at its face shone the sun.

It was headed for a certain star.

The morning star, so it was called- Revered by some traditions as the lady Elysium, by others as the Sun's lost twin, by yet more as a way to mark the centuries, or the spirit of a king.

It was a planet, and it was growing closer.

Night sky turned to red. Collision was mere moments away. The voidborne blur began to smile.

" B A H A H A H A H A ! "

Impact.

The creature smacked into its prey with lethal force. Flames engulfed the atmosphere, leaving a fiery wound where it had entered, and fragments flew to orbit and strike down once again.

Isonymph did not slow. Once past the solid crust it slipped deep into the core, settling like a seed at the heart of the planet.

The Cancer bloomed.

From within, a dozen tendrils spun out into the magma, branching into roots and threads. One by one they reached the burning surface, and sprouted into stems.

Like ferns they rose, but dark and venous, swaying purple arms from a slick, sprawling base. Each root became a forest, and in the heights of each forest the fingertips opened, and steamed into the fire.

Eggs were pushed through the pores. The ground became saturated with foaming, living bubbles. All was snatched away on the wind.

Make It More! Make It Faster!

The tendrils bulged and burst with the weight of the life being forced through them, and the seed at the centre thrust more and more into the clouds...

Until there was a change.

The seeds hatched in swarms and hordes. Great chimneys of steam encrusted the volcanoes, their graphite skin glittering in the glow of phosphor and burning sulphur. Strange acids fizzed through their veins.

From the peak of the mighty tunnels strode creatures like castles, with porcelain bodies that shone in the green-and-blue riverlight, and they feared not the wind, nor the sour rains. They strode to the basins, where valleys had filled up with tar and with pitch, and drank deeply...

And sailors ballooned from the sky, where hot air was cheap and the gale was strong, where the lightning flashed with nourishment. They settled with bodies of sulphur and beryl, and regrew their synthetic wings.

The Isonymph laughed, and cut off its own limbs. It burst through the surface as the first forests fell, and leapt to the stars once more.

* * *
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The air screamed with winds grinding against one another.

Rocks tore through the sky. In total darkness, the ash fused and shattered, becoming shapes unseen anywhere on land, let alone so high above the waters.

Something flew through the towers of smoke.

Ducking between falling ghost-shapes of basalt, over and around the space-tearing needle rain, between the great anvils of airborne stone, it settled in the corner that had been made for it.

"With the scales and sword of Amul'sharar as my witness and yours, swear this: That you shall accept this gift that I grant you, and while it stands never work mischief against me, or against mine."

"Agreed," said Phi without listening, and reclined on her shadowed throne.

The ash began to fall.

Somewhere over the Metatic Ocean, a grand shape was cast down from the cloud, billowing with smoke. It hit the sea with a momentous splash and sent white pillars into the air.

When the sky cleared up months later, it rose again.

...

See you not the power of your souls, that even gods should grant concession?

See you not the truth of my words?

I shall find you in your shelters. I shall find you in the caves.

I shall find you in the dark places it was foretold you would go, and together we shall rise into Metera, the city of the sky.


* * *
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A carmine blur swept deeper into the night, thinking: Do We Desire What We Love ?

Impact.

White plumes of shattered ice and vapour shot vertically into the sky. Too weak to recall its lost mass, the moon soon gained a ring that drew lines across the sight of its mother.

Isonymph splattered in its own crater.

The force of impact had smashed it into a pale green fluid that now rode the wave of its own collision. Chunks of frost tumbled in the spreading cloud, a ring of steam that grew only denser as it moved. Denser, thicker. More vivid.

Chartreuse threads leapt and coiled between the scattered icebergs. They bit, they clung, they chased the wind. The Isonymph swept across the planet in a pulse, from one pole to the other.

Tundras watched the wall of fog approach, give way to acid green, then empty into life.

Sporewalkers chased the midday sun, the length of their stride more than enough to match the planet's spin. Between their gargantuan shadows grew razored hollow cages, spheres of wax and water with nuclear light at their core, studded into the ground like fallen stars.

The spindly giants strode on, and others followed in the shade of their disc-like skulls. Pale orbs grew glassy, revealing the fetal eyes within, and began to spin, thousands of wheels and gyros chasing the next geyser to erupt.

Vivid red plumes of ammonia and methane shot into the atmosphere, sending clouds of microbia into low orbit. They clustered, they drank the sun, and in great billowing sheets like silken tents, collapsed once more to the ice. There the frozen ground grew arms, and shining xenon blood pulsed through the veins of those who came to scavenge.

Isonymph reformed at the opposite end of the planet, the ring of life closing up in a puff of steam. Pale green bubbled away into carmine, and the Avatar leapt off into the sky once more.

It saluted the bright star Ilunabar on its way to Galbar.

* * *
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Under a veil of white cloud lay a god born anew.

All was mist and steam. Wisps rose from bubbling waters and danced around colourless shapes. A great ghost rested in the waters, barely a silhouette in the sunlit fog.

The Cancer breathed, and the veil was blown away. Noonday rays glanced upon the simmering body, and the clouds fled outwards, collapsing into a ring of grey. All was still but for the patter of gentle rain.

A million layers of torn iron lay upon a twisted body, a shell of metal bone ripped apart and healed again. Her canyons were like demon maws. Her mountains were like barbs.

Between the shining grey, dominating the chaos all around, great portals yawned into eternal darkness. They were no more than holes, great circular pores edged with knives, filled with a bottomless nothing. What Logos had destroyed lay fallow- A deep layer of negative growth ripped into All-Beauty, empty space without a pattern.

Jvan sighed. Reality fizzed.

"Hear Ringing from the Strangled Mines, and Chimes; look beyond and Fall, still Striking, into Treasures of the Chasmal Bells."

The shadows blinked into light.

A million scenes flickered over the void in the space of a second, and









Things not seen before or since passed through the dark in the blink of an eye. Worlds confined to the deepest depths of All-Beauty now played just under its surface. The endless plunge at the core of Jvan had been dredged, just a little, enough that something strange should drift through the voids and perhaps show its flowers where their bubbles touched the sun.

The flickered worlds faded to static, then came to a halt, showing a place, perhaps, where



One by one the other great open portals of Jvan filled in with worlds. Their sea level matched hers. The gravity interlocked. With nothing more than a few crackles of distortion, the Jvanic Heartlands showed their face on Galbar.

This is what they came to destroy, thought Jvan.

The worlds blinked out, leaving only an echo in an empty shell.

So let them come.

Jvan tuned into the worlds once more, knowing that the infinite pit was still warping, still morphing, deep enough to absorb a universe and then some.

A carmine mist seeped through the iron and crackled over the sea.

"...It's good to be back," said the Horrorsome Engineer.
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* * *


Isonymph swung itself around the moons like monkey bars, leaping from one to the other with orbits and half-orbits. It moved so fast that its body would have cracked like a whip if it could.

At long last, the avatar's sprint came to an end. It circled the ring of Lex and slid to a halt where it started, just above the towering megastructure that was Ovaedis. There the carmine creature rested.

It was shaped like a bulbous fungus, a many-faced head above a bell stalked with spindly limbs, but its shape was changing rapidly. Its texture was bizarre, like origami, or perhaps the knitted roots of a thicket. It had no true surface- Only fins and ribbons of living tissue, layer upon layer. Somehow, as it breathed, it didn't move; it furled.

The creature unfolded, and unfolded, and unfolded some more, without pausing or even really losing its form, whatever that happened to be. The more it opened, the more there were layered gills and tendrils to be opened, and what was new rapidly disappeared under a layer that had once been below it. Its size and silhouette were gradually replaced as if through a magician's trick- Everything hidden had been there all along, neat and perfect, waiting to come out.

Eventually the Isonymph settled on a shape, perhaps half again the height of a man, and covered itself with folds of translucent skin. It resembled... A flower with legs, maybe, or a human with a blossoming skull, or a virus of some kind.

It had a stem, or a torso. It was stretched at the waist and had neither leaves nor arms. At its lower end were jointed roots that branched at the tip, about eight or nine of them, each with two segments almost as long as its thorax was tall. Though its skin was pale, the life below was black and red, and threaded with purple.

For a head, it had only an eyeless, sightless bloom of tissue, opening and closing, petals shuffling in and out of its bottomless fractal throat.

A change-eater drifted up with a curious glow. Isonymph inclined its head.

"You're strange," she opened.

"Heh Heh Heh," said the Flesh Lily.

The sister spun easy loops around her find. "Where did you come from?"

"Places. Nowhere. Dreams."

"Like... the ocean?"

"More Like The Void."

"Oh," said the Diaphane. "All my dreams are in the ocean."

"There Are Other Seas," said the isonymph.

The shapeshifter gasped- "Where?" -then started forming teeth. "Tell me!"

"Heh Heh Heh."

"Don't tease me! I'll bite you," warned the sister, who was now mostly jaws.

"Come Back And I Might Show You," said Isonymph.

"Alright," said the change-eater, with her curious blend of innocence and brutality. "But I'm bringing friends."

"Do," said Isonymph, drifting back over the satellite. Gazing at the stars.
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Lambda-19 rammed a whalebone spike into the yielding flesh. Each crack of her hammer thrust it deeper still, and she held on to the cliff face with one hand as she worked. She looped her rope around the spike and tightened the knot with her teeth.

Her exhausts steamed with hot effort as she kicked off from the wall.

Lambda let herself fall until the rope swung her back into the cliff, watching her feet land between geometric chaos. Half of this surface was too smooth, half of it too sharp, none of it stable. As she watched, another gangly quadrilateral shape peeled itself out of the living landscape, whip around in the wind and throw itself down to the chasm below.

Only eight more jumps 'til the end of the line.

When she was finally within reach of the opposing wall, Lambda gripped the rope and loosened the straps holding her bladed crucifix. Recombinance sat dull in the sunless light, a winged spearaxe with a glowing harpoon at its cue.

One more jump...

Lambda let go of the rope and leapt for the cliff.

She missed.

The wing of her blade slashed into the dull surface but did not catch. She was falling.

She saw the chasm spread out below her for miles in perfect detail.

Lambda angled down and spun with Recombinance in her hands- it speared through a spidery imp from above and she thrust it into the cliff as she fell.

There was a sound like sand against metal and she cried out as her elbows caught her fall, eyes shut in her blindfold as she dangled from Recombinance by her arms. The imp had fused with the cliff and absorbed the spearpoint with it as it regrew.

Gasps.

"God damn it."

"Nice save."

"Thanks," said Lambda, dry but appreciative as she hauled herself up onto her spear.

It took several minutes to climb back up to the plateau she'd been aiming for, but silicic acid joints reset fast. By the time she took Sampi's hand at the top of the cliff, she was hurt, stiff, and frustrated, but far from agony.

Sampi insisted on checking her anyway. She appreciated the attention.

"Bleeding?"

"No."

"Lost anything?"

"Nope."

"Dislocations?"

"You just spent five minutes feeling up my joints, Sampi."

"And I'll do it again if I have to. It should be me doing this stupid journey, Priestess. That's what I'm here for."

"I'm sure you're good for other things."

Sampi scowled. His eyes were hidden inside his skull, but that didn't stop Death's Sight.

"Oh cheer up," said Lambda, slapping him over the head with a grin. "You know I'd be going even if it was that fallen castle again." She pointed across to the pit at the center of the circular plateau and spoke loudly. "Think we can go see what's in there?"

"I don't know. Can you?"

Awkward pause.

"For someone with no taste for permission, you spend a lot of time asking it, Lambda," said Jvan. "You need to grow out of the idea that I'm a person. I'm not. I'm a god. I'm a million worlds worth of living landscape. I don't even know what's in here. If you want something then take it. Don't wait for me to care."

Lambda stood, then shrugged. "Nice! Let's go then."

Sampi followed, folding his arms and staring into the nearest Jvanic Eye in the hope that she would notice his disapproval.

"Lambda, your boyfriend is side-eyeing me."

"I am not her boyfriend," he muttered.

"Yes you are," said Lambda, falling backwards into his arms to kiss his forehead. Sampi looked away.

Lambda strutted ahead.

Between her long legs and the crablike mobility rig Jvan had given Sampi, they crossed the plateau with ease and good time. The pit yawned before them, another cliff leading into a far wider abyss; It was easily a hundred metres across. Lambda ran a hand through her ice-crystal mohawk.

"...Another Heartland?"

"They do tend to intersect."

"And we haven't even gotten to know this one..."

Sampi shuffled. "What do you see?"

Lambda leaned, adjusting Death's Sight over her skull. "It's deep," she said. Sampi saw her grow a faint frown. "I can see something. I think..."

But her time was up. The depths flashed to mirror the pale amber clouds, and



"Back!"

The fiery creature shed its shell and soared, trailing streams of energy from its halo.
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Lambda-19 rammed a whalebone spike into the yielding flesh. Each crack of her hammer thrust it deeper still, and she held on to the cliff face with one hand as she worked. She looped her rope around the spike and tightened the knot with her teeth.

Her exhausts steamed with hot effort as she kicked off from the wall.

Lambda let herself fall until the rope swung her back into the cliff, watching her feet land between geometric chaos. Half of this surface was too smooth, half of it too sharp, none of it stable. As she watched, another gangly quadrilateral shape peeled itself out of the living landscape, whip around in the wind and throw itself down to the chasm below.

Only eight more jumps 'til the end of the line.

When she was finally within reach of the opposing wall, Lambda gripped the rope and loosened the straps holding her bladed crucifix. Recombinance sat dull in the sunless light, a winged spearaxe with a glowing harpoon at its cue.

One more jump...

Lambda let go of the rope and leapt for the cliff.

She missed.

The wing of her blade slashed into the dull surface but did not catch. She was falling.

She saw the chasm spread out below her for miles in perfect detail.

Lambda angled down and spun with Recombinance in her hands- it impaled a spidery imp from above and she thrust it into the cliff as she fell.

There was a sound like sand against metal and she cried out as her elbows caught her fall, eyes shut in her blindfold as she dangled from Recombinance by her arms. The imp had fused with the cliff and absorbed the spearpoint with it as it regrew.

Gasps.

"God damn it."

"Nice save."

"Thanks," said Lambda, dry but appreciative as she hauled herself up onto her spear.

It took several minutes to climb back up to the plateau she'd been aiming for, but silicic acid joints reset fast. By the time she took Sampi's hand at the top of the cliff, she was hurt, stiff, and frustrated, but far from agony.

Sampi insisted on checking her anyway. She appreciated the attention.

"Bleeding?"

"No."

"Lost anything?"

"Nope."

"Dislocations?"

"You just spent five minutes feeling up my joints, Sampi."

"And I'll do it again if I have to. It should be me doing this stupid journey, Priestess. That's what I'm here for."

"I'm sure you're good for other things."

Sampi scowled. His eyes were hidden inside his skull, but that didn't stop Death's Sight.

"Oh cheer up," said Lambda, slapping him over the head with a grin. "You know I'd be going even if it was that fallen castle again." She pointed across to the pit at the center of the circular plateau and spoke loudly. "Think we can go see what's in there?"

"I don't know. Can you?"

Awkward pause.

"For someone with no taste for permission, you spend a lot of time asking it, Lambda," said Jvan. "You need to grow out of the idea that I'm a person. I'm not. I'm a god. I'm a million worlds worth of living landscape. I don't even know what's in here. If you want something then take it. Don't wait for me to care."

Lambda stood, then shrugged. "Nice! Let's go then."

Sampi followed, folding his arms and staring into the nearest Jvanic Eye in the hope that she would notice his disapproval.

"Lambda, your boyfriend is side-eyeing me."

"I am not her boyfriend," he muttered.

"Yes you are," said Lambda, falling backwards into his arms to kiss his forehead. Sampi looked away.

Lambda strutted ahead.

Between her long legs and the crablike mobility rig Jvan had given Sampi, they crossed the plateau with ease and good time. The pit yawned before them, another cliff leading into a far wider abyss; It was easily a hundred metres across. Lambda ran a hand through her ice-crystal mohawk.

"...Another Heartland?"

"They do tend to intersect."

"And we haven't even gotten to know this one..."

Sampi shuffled. "What do you see?"

Lambda leaned, adjusting Death's Sight over her skull. "It's deep," she said. Sampi saw her grow a faint frown. "I can see something. I think..."

But her time was up. The depths flashed to mirror the pale amber clouds, and



"Back!"

The fiery creature shed its shell and soared, trailing brilliant streams from its halo. Lambda slashed wide with Recombinance, but the blade met only laced energy and hovering beads.

Sampi drew an obsidian sword and threw it. It sank deep into the flying creature's chest and brought forth a sound too alien to be described. The entity turned and swept into its second dive.

The Pronobii ignited. Jets roared from their back and skulls, and the world around them grew that much colder. But it was not Slough's footprints they were treading. This world was barely alive enough to be drained.

Sampi threw another blade, and a third. His scimitars sank into its wings. The entity's left side began to list.

"Sampi, brace!"

Lambda tore off her blindfold and met the creature's gaze. Unliving it might be, but it was not immune to this.

The entity shrieked (cackled? chorused?) and recoiled as whatever passed for its mind was overwhelmed by a rush of chaos. It curled and tumbled, crashing across the plateau as Lambda met it with her spearaxe. It toppled towards the edge of the pit.

And it recovered fast.

The creature's fin stretched out and stabbed itself on the spearaxe wing before it fell. Stripped of the relic, Lambda was too blind to see more than a blur until the sudden jolt that yanked her after the falling being.

She did not let go of the staff. It was not in her nature.

She fell.

Sampi roared as he sprang to the pit. He could see nothing more than the blaze, fading along with the heat of their departure.
Hidden 9 days ago 9 days ago Post by Antarctic Termite
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A new day dawned upon the Fractal Sea.

Dolphins sprang from the water in glittery kicks. Algae waved and wandered on currents never mapped. Somewhere beyond, an albatross circumnavigated the globe.

And the following words echoed from the depths: Though Gallows Fall, and Love may know yet Strife, still a Rope of Thorns Ungardened locks us to that Romance of the Young, and a Noose that Tightens only strangles Roses of the Future.

...

Like a seedling chasing sun, Jvan began to slough her shell.

Charcoal ruins cracked from within, casting black ichor into already-lightless water- Dark clouds that crept back into the labyrinth whose breaking brought them forth. One wall at a time, the cathedral quavered and fell, and unseen currents pulled it inwards.

Carmine light ignited in the darkness.

Great spires long burnt were pushed outwards to sink in the ocean. They fell like dark pieces of sky, a motion that defied their awesome scale, morbid memorials long-standing now torn down for resurrection.

Reality fizzed and began to condense.

Water swept into the core in hurricane currents. Beneath the carbon, grey distortion bubbled, spread like oil on water, sank back and arose again and again.

The grey became iron and the iron pooled and dissolved over the surface of All-Beauty, forming plates forming walls forming volcanic forms that collided and hardened, organic and inorganic, spreading layer over layer until they split at the center and the void yawned within.



And sprawling in the darkness, Jvan took her last breath, and burst into the light.

The ocean swelled as twisting metal tore it apart.

Unending plains and walls of iron rose fell warped and plunged back into the water only to rise again streaming with white, steaming and screaming with fatigue as it split open to reveal the heaving flesh beneath. From the gates into infinity reached great hands, hands like trees rooted in shadow, hands that dwarved mountains with too many wrists and too many fingers, and grappled the fizzing plates.

Jvan gripped herself and tore. Ferrous bone ripped into endless, jagged blades. The hands bled into the fog.

And growing still, the ball of void and shrapnel teeth began to laugh.

* * *


In the place that some call Hades and others the Abyss, where the depths of the earth and the depths of the sea are one and the same, where carbon pyramids fell from above to pile up in great heaps on the pitted sea below, a new life began to stir.

It was life born of hatred, life born of pain. It was life barely living, and life full of rage.

It was a being with breath and thought, and that thought was, 'B̸̨̡U͜R̀N͠ ́̕TH͢E̕͘ ̕B̵̨RI͢͢D͞G͠͏É̵͘'.

The great worm uncoiled, and stretched from the tearing iron that had been its silent home, emerging from a cavity long since dormant. It grew as it moved, and in the folds of its body five slits emerged, and they opened wide, became eyes.

And the rippled face of the being split open, and was filled with teeth.

The worm began to move.

B͘͝͡UR̡͡N̴̨ ̢T̷̶H́E̢͠ ̶̴BR̴̀I̛͝͞DG͘͢E̕̕.

Whole reefs crumbled beneath its weight, and great floods burst at its sides. The wrinkles on its surface split further, deeper, and branched tentacles ripped from its body.

It travelled east.

A cliff stood before the being, and a cliff was surmounted. The sun scorched its back, for so huge it had grown that only the abyss could support it. It crawled towards the land. Its head began to bifurcate.

And before it stood a wall.

B̷͢U̷͏͝Ŗ̷̕͡N͟҉̡͠ ̡͝͠T̶̀͡͏͞Ḩ̸͠Ę̀͟͠͏ ̢͟B̶͘͏̕R̨̢I͝͠D̡҉҉̴̛G̸̨E̕҉͞

The great worm started to accelerate, for that was what it was made to do.

Stone rose above and beyond it, stretching towards either side for ever and ever.

B҉͘͝U̴̡҉̧Ŗ͘͠͞N̵̛͘͜

Unstoppable force met immovable object.

T̸̨͠H̡͜E̴̡

The being collided with the wall with a shudder that rocked the globe.

҉̸̸͏B̶̸҉̧R҉̶͘͠I҉̵̢͘͜D̛̀͢͞G̡͠҉͟͝E̴̡̢͘͝

From end to end, the land bridge stretching between the Firewind and the southern ice began to crumble. The worm chewed and thrashed and roiled, and did not cease falling to pieces, but split again and again into halves and quarters, worms upon worms that latched on to the great stone wall, and crushed it with their teeth. By the time the moons were full, there was nothing but dust.

Dust, and the mountainous shells of worms, rising like islands across an ocean once halved.

* * *


Jvan laughed, and the void laughed with her.

Where Diaphanes flew and Realta bobbed upon a glittering river, the great island of Ovaedis once more began to swivel. Splashes of colourful stone swept up over its side as its gate spun outwards, into deep space.

The portal opened, and into the darkness spat.

Noiselessness once more. Nothing but a carmine streak, blurring into the night.

Yet through the emptiness, cackles carried still.

* * *


As Jvan grew, her hands stretched not just into the sky and flesh, but speared into the earth.

Like roots they grasped, and pulled into the fiery soil. The stone gave way like softened glass, warm and supple. Cthonic spirits swarmed around the disruption and were powerless.

Jvan pawed at the mantle, sensing the way it moved.

Was she not vast? Could she not map this darkness by its echoes? Was there not here a heated shadow, a quiet core that had long years spun and spun, winding up like a toy?

The hands of God laid claim to what was theirs. They shivered, and like light, their sound did pulse through depths unknown.

Unfelt and unheard, the void below shuddered like the void above. Jvan's body moved like a heart, singing a tuneless beat, one that ricocheted through earth and fire and iron and earth again.

With each beat the echoes grew stronger, collided and bent around bubbles of nickel, exploring Galbar. Jvan's weight collided again and again with the stone on which she sat, her mass a stick upon a drum, until the planet was moving to her rhythm.

And the music climaxed, as she knew it would, and kinetic energy focused, as she knew it would, like sunlight through a lens- On a named and numbered mountain, where pressure had been building since the beginning of time.

On a plateau of wind-carved rock, Bormahven began to shake.

* * *


As calculations rang true and mass showed its worth, the manufactory gazed once more upon the blue of the planet below.

Where a great white fog had risen to hide the body of All-Beauty, swept up by heat and motion, a second cloud was rising over the Ironhearts. It was grey and brown, a streak of taupe that carried with the wind and swept far over the ocean, and where the sound in the fog was rending metal, here there were only rumbles and cracks.

Djinni rose and roiled in the ash. Fire swarmed out, its kingdom wrecked; Air came to meet it, fearing invasion; Earth raised its hands, warning chaos; and Water swore vengeance for the pollution of its realm.

And in a shining Heaven, the change-eaters massed like sharks. It was time.

The great grub descended, its blasphemy complete, and spilled forth colour from its womb.

Unnatural light spilled into the ash. Gaudy and twisted, its tongues scorched the world, desiccating the planet they had been promised.

A thousand predators made ten thousand shapes, and the Sorority laid claim to its own.

Its voice was sweetest laughter.

* * *


Ovaedis watched with its million eyes. All of Lex watched with it. The world reposed in a net of marbled spheres, motionless above the planet they had been set to watch.

The array seemed to blink.

A moment of true vision was taken and locked. The core of the satellite kicked once more, its umbilicus whipping in the factory as the fetal mechanism stared into the worlds beyond.

A slick of glass spilled over the planet and rained in unbroken streams.

Unseen needles were flying from the maw of the Cancer's Womb, long enough almost to stretch between Lex and the world itself. They liquified in the upper atmosphere, forming pools as if to imitate the oceans below, or even the clouds between. And as the seas and mountains bent in their grip, like shapes seen through a twisted lens, they brought forth a monsoon.

The torrent struck deep into the ashen cloud. Droplets collided and began to coalesce in the sun-halting grey, as if to form a storm of their own within the volcanic haze. Obscured by the heat and dust, the twisted rain began to form into sheets, bending into whirlpools.

Matter warped in their grip, and was siphoned away into stony beams. Vaporised stone collected on the winds of distortion and was reassembled under its own speed and weight. Dust called to dust.

One particle at a time, the twisters began to build.

* * *


The cackling carmine streak flew on. At its back gazed the night, and at its face shone the sun.

It was headed for a certain star.

The morning star, so it was called- Revered by some traditions as the Sun's lost twin, or the spirit of a king.

It was a planet, and it was growing closer.

Night sky turned to red. Collision was mere moments away. The voidborne blur began to smile.

" B A H A H A H A H A ! "

Impact.

The creature smacked into its prey with lethal force. Flames engulfed the atmosphere, leaving a fiery wound where it had entered, and fragments flew to orbit and strike down once again.

Isonymph did not slow. Once past the solid crust it slipped deep into the core, settling like a seed at the heart of the planet.

The Cancer bloomed.

From within, a dozen tendrils spun out into the magma, branching into roots and threads. One by one they reached the burning surface, and sprouted into stems.

Like ferns they rose, but dark and venous, swaying purple arms from a slick, sprawling base. Each root became a forest, and in the heights of each forest the fingertips opened, and steamed into the fire.

Eggs were pushed through the pores. The ground became saturated with foaming, living bubbles. All was snatched away on the wind.

Make It More! Make It Faster!

The tendrils bulged and burst with the weight of the life being forced through them, and the seed at the centre thrust more and more into the clouds...

Until there was a change.

The seeds hatched in swarms and hordes. Great chimneys of steam encrusted the volcanoes, their graphite skin glittering in the glow of phosphor and burning sulphur. Strange acids fizzed through their veins.

From the peak of the mighty tunnels strode creatures like castles, with porcelain bodies that shone in the green-and-blue riverlight, and they feared not the wind, nor the sour rains. They strode to the basins, where valleys had filled up with tar and with pitch, and drank deeply...

And sailors ballooned from the sky, where hot air was cheap and the gale was strong, where the lightning flashed with nourishment. They settled with bodies of sulphur and beryl, and regrew their synthetic wings.

The isonymph laughed, and cut off its own limbs. It burst through the surface as the first forests fell, and leapt to the stars once more.

* * *


The air screamed with winds grinding against one another.

Rocks tore through the sky. In total darkness, the ash fused and shattered, becoming shapes unseen anywhere on land, let alone so high above the waters.

Something flew through the towers of smoke.

Ducking between falling ghost-shapes of basalt, over and around the space-tearing needle rain, between the great anvils of airborne stone, it settled in the corner that had been made for it.

"With the scales and sword of Amul'sharar as my witness and yours, swear this: That you shall accept this gift that I grant you, and while it stands never work mischief against me, or against mine."

"Agreed," said Phi without listening, and reclined on her shadowed throne.

The ash began to fall.

Somewhere over the Metatic Ocean, a grand shape was cast down from the cloud, billowing with smoke. It hit the sea with a momentous splash and sent white pillars into the air.

When the sky cleared up months later, it rose again.

...

See you not the power of your souls, that even gods should grant concession?

See you not the truth of my words?

I shall find you in your shelters. I shall find you in the caves.

I shall find you in the dark places it was foretold you would go, and together we shall rise into Metera, the city of the sky.


* * *


A carmine blur swept deeper into the night, thinking: Do We Desire What We Love ?

Impact.

White plumes of shattered ice and vapour shot vertically into the sky. Too weak to recall its lost mass, the moon soon gained a ring that drew lines across the sight of its mother.

Isonymph splattered in its own crater.

The force of impact had smashed it into a pale green fluid that now rode the wave of its own collision. Chunks of frost tumbled in the spreading cloud, a ring of steam that grew only denser as it moved. Denser, thicker. More vivid.

Chartreuse threads leapt and coiled between the scattered icebergs. They bit, they clung, they chased the wind. The Isonymph swept across the planet in a pulse, from one pole to the other.

Tundras watched the wall of fog approach, give way to acid green, then empty into life.

Sporewalkers chased the midday sun, the length of their stride more than enough to match the planet's spin. Between their gargantuan shadows grew razored hollow cages, spheres of wax and water with nuclear light at their core, studded into the ground like fallen stars.

The spindly giants strode on, and others followed in the shade of their disc-like skulls. Pale orbs grew glassy, revealing the fetal eyes within, and began to spin, thousands of wheels and gyros chasing the next geyser to erupt.

Vivid red plumes of ammonia and methane shot into the atmosphere, sending clouds of microbia into low orbit. They clustered, they drank the sun, and in great billowing sheets like silken tents, collapsed once more to the ice. There the frozen ground grew arms, and shining xenon blood pulsed through the veins of those who came to scavenge.

Isonymph reformed at the opposite end of the planet, the ring of life closing up in a puff of steam. Pale green bubbled away into carmine, and the Avatar leapt off into the sky once more.

It saluted the bright star Ilunabar on its way to Galbar.

* * *


Under a veil of white cloud lay a god born anew.

All was mist and steam. Wisps rose from bubbling waters and danced around colourless shapes. A great ghost rested in the waters, barely a silhouette in the sunlit fog.

The Cancer breathed, and the veil was blown away. Noonday rays glanced upon the simmering body, and the clouds fled outwards, collapsing into a ring of grey. All was still but for the patter of gentle rain.

A million layers of torn iron lay upon a twisted body, a shell of metal bone ripped apart and healed again. Her canyons were like demon maws. Her mountains were like barbs.

Between the shining grey, dominating the chaos all around, great portals yawned into eternal darkness. They were no more than holes, great circular pores edged with knives, filled with a bottomless nothing. What Logos had destroyed lay fallow- A deep layer of negative growth ripped into All-Beauty, empty space without a pattern.

Jvan sighed. Reality fizzed.

"Hear Ringing from the Strangled Mines, and Chimes; look beyond and Fall, still Striking, into Treasures of the Chasmal Bells."

The shadows blinked into light.

A million scenes flickered over the void in the space of a second, and









Things not seen before or since passed through the dark in the blink of an eye. Worlds confined to the deepest depths of All-Beauty now played just under its surface. The endless plunge at the core of Jvan had been dredged, just a little, enough that something strange should drift through the voids and perhaps show its flowers where their bubbles touched the sun.

The flickered worlds faded to static, then came to a halt, showing a place, perhaps, where



One by one the other great open portals of Jvan filled in with worlds. Their sea level matched hers. The gravity interlocked. With nothing more than a few crackles of distortion, the Jvanic Heartlands showed their face on Galbar.

This is what they came to destroy, thought Jvan.

The worlds blinked out, leaving only an echo in an empty shell.

So let them come.

Jvan tuned into the worlds once more, knowing that the infinite pit was still warping, still morphing, deep enough to absorb a universe and then some.

A carmine mist seeped through the iron and crackled over the sea.

"...It's good to be back," said the Horrorsome Engineer.

* * *


Isonymph swung itself around the moons like monkey bars, leaping from one to the other with orbits and half-orbits. It moved so fast that its body would have cracked like a whip if it could.

At long last, the avatar's sprint came to an end. It circled the ring of Lex and slid to a halt where it started, just above the towering megastructure that was Ovaedis. There the carmine creature rested.

It was shaped like a bulbous fungus, a many-faced head above a bell stalked with spindly limbs, but its shape was changing rapidly. Its texture was bizarre, like origami, or perhaps the knitted roots of a thicket. It had no true surface- Only fins and ribbons of living tissue, layer upon layer. Somehow, as it breathed, it didn't move; it furled.

The creature unfolded, and unfolded, and unfolded some more, without pausing or even really losing its form, whatever that happened to be. The more it opened, the more there were layered gills and tendrils to be opened, and what was new rapidly disappeared under a layer that had once been below it. Its size and silhouette were gradually replaced as if through a magician's trick- Everything hidden had been there all along, neat and perfect, waiting to come out.

Eventually the Isonymph settled on a shape, perhaps half again the height of a man, and covered itself with folds of translucent skin. It resembled... A flower with legs, maybe, or a human with a blossoming skull, or a virus of some kind.

It had a stem, or a torso. It was stretched at the waist and had neither leaves nor arms. At its lower end were jointed roots that branched at the tip, about eight or nine of them, each with two segments almost as long as its thorax was tall. Though its skin was pale, the life below was black and red, and threaded with purple.

For a head, it had only an eyeless, sightless bloom of tissue, opening and closing, petals shuffling in and out of its bottomless fractal throat.

A change-eater drifted up with a curious glow. Isonymph inclined its head.

"You're strange," she opened.

"Heh Heh Heh," said the Flesh Lily.

The sister spun easy loops around her find. "Where did you come from?"

"Places. Nowhere. Dreams."

"Like... the ocean?"

"More Like The Void."

"Oh," said the Diaphane. "All my dreams are in the ocean."

"There Are Other Seas," said the isonymph.

The shapeshifter gasped- "Where?" -then started forming teeth. "Tell me!"

"Heh Heh Heh."

"Don't tease me! I'll bite you," warned the sister, who was now mostly jaws.

"Come Back And I Might Show You," said Isonymph.

"Alright," said the change-eater, with her curious blend of innocence and brutality. "But I'm bringing friends."

"Do," said Isonymph, drifting back over the satellite. Gazing at the stars.
Hidden 9 days ago 9 days ago Post by Antarctic Termite
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