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Unlucky in the Underworld
The Unexpected Arrival of Beyre

Unseen and unheard, the haunting melody of the Mundus Pits spread across the ethereal landscape and beckoned the lost souls of those that have died to their massive maws. The feast had begun and the spirits of the dead approached an archaic and alien metal platter at the end of a long walkway that hung over a great abyss. The otherworldly music called from the depths and lulled the many souls into a strange trance. There were incoherent hushed whispers among them, and a grave apprehension in the air.

Hundreds of souls soon gathered on the large precarious platform and patiently waited until eventually a colossal being had arisen from the darkness and grasped the plate, now laden with ghostly entities that did not react to this celestial creature's presence. The being pulled the plate down, gently transporting the host of souls lower into the sea of shadows, to the bottom of the abyss. After a time had passed, the colossus returned and allowed more spirits of the dead to step onto the platter to be carried down.

More and more souls were collected in this manner, until the edge of the abyss was a quiet and lonely place. The deep and chthonic melody could still be heard by those with senses beyond mortal perception, and it enticed those that did not know its origin, its purpose. The answer could only be found at the bottom of the abyss. A dangerous descent into the depths of the Underworld. But for Beyre, she had already found a way down -- on the edge of the plate, ethereal and more of a ghost than even the dead.

The journey only consisted of creeping closer to the sorrowful song while the massive monstrosity that transported them watched with a feral smile and merciless gaze. A curved horn jutted from the center of its head, and a multitude of limbs not preoccupied with holding the plate were either quietly shifting back and forth like serpents lulled to sleep, or carelessly climbing down the walls. Despite the destruction of the stone and various veins of unknown metals, there was no shaking and no loud noises. Only unsettling silence existed during the descent.

Time passed as they delved deeper and deeper...

The light had faded, but such was not needed for a god to see what was around them. An empty city spread along the lower walls and floor of the nigh endless pit; tens of thousands of decrepit stone structures resembling temples, but with great shrines and altars that burst forth from their interiors like blood from numerous cuts. There was no coherency in the placement of buildings scattered in all directions, growing atop each other like weeds and vines in a forgotten and unloved garden. The architecture was just as absurd, many of the buildings were vastly different in comparison to those beside them as though hundreds of minds from a myriad of cultures came together to design this settlement. Very few could be considered comfortable, and there were many that were simply disturbing to look at.

The music became more potent here, but there was also the faint sounds of battle farther. All of the small spirits were completely complacent, and merely stepped off of the plate when it alighted in a large clearing at the dead city's edge. The giant gestured for them to follow a collection of hallways that led into further undulating shadows and amorphous darkness. Once the plate was unburdened, the giant began its ascent back to the surface. It began to sing softly, its hollow voices resonating with the song that seeped into everything here.

Through the haunting halls and across a sea of shadows where pale clouds obscured even the eyes of a god, the distant roar of battle became louder, and still the spirits were calm. Suddenly the thunderous ruptures of cannons and nightmarish screams ended and only the otherworldly music remained. Another colossus - this one was beastly in appearance akin to a horribly mutated goat - emerged from the ivory fog and provided birdlike beds and blankets to the souls that had been walking for so long. The dead rested upon these gifts, sleeping peacefully while they drifted through the shimmering darkness. The grotesque goat was walking beside the slumbering souls, singing a lonely lullaby with various voices speaking in many different languages. Her words were wistful and only Beyre could comprehend the abstract lyrics that no living creature could pronounce.

Its lifeless eyes were unblinking as they then followed Beyre with their curious gaze. With its seventh voice, the goat called out words of welcome, and its ninth voice introduced itself as Mimaya the Sleeping Shepherd that Paints the Skies with Joy. It offered conversation and began a strange dance with vestigial limbs that grew from its back like broken bones and branches, and was accompanied by a single sound which resounded through the shadows; a clear and enchanting chime, as though a silver bell had been struck. Mimaya changed and became much smaller, similar to the shape and size of Beyre. She smiled meekly, and asked with longing eyes whether the goddess would converse with her or not.

"Tell me of the other gods machinations in a place like this," Beyre responded. She crossed her arms and kept a certain seriousness about her - not wanting to showcase her ignorance too much.

Mimaya was mesmerized by the goddess before her, and wondered whether she had been entrapped by an Uhtenim illusion. She could not comprehend how such beauty came to be, it had been so long since she was with Tonta and Ekundayo. All of the gods possessed their own song, and each song was so very different. Being in their presence was like suddenly gaining immense uncontrollable speed and soaring towards something unknown, yet memorable. The gods seemed to write reality into existence wherever they go, and in their absence... the world was quiet.

Mimaya currently considered herself a paradoxical being; both blessed and cursed by the unexpected appearance of an unfamiliar goddess while she watched over the souls on their journey to the Path of the Dead. The fear that this goddess might become wrathful both excited her and filled her dread. "The gods come and the gods go, as is their wont. The Underworld is a realm of death. The dreams that it grants have the feeling of life. Its hunger is boundless, their presence brings strife. Death comes like the kiss of a lover and the crashing of mountains. It comes to a question, a choice; are you afraid of death?" She chanted with her second and fourth resonating voices, as her limbs reach and grasp at nothingness.

"I don't understand." Beyre frowned. "Come again? So the other gods leave this place alone?"

Mimaya laughed, the voice of the goddess bringing her such joy. She sought to answer the question that was certainly a challenge, for the gods would often ask such. "Trust not your eyes, yours senses spread lies. Know now the witless, once fools are now wise." She sang happily, her hands forming intricate shapes and enacting esoteric gestures in accordance with the divine dance.

"What!?" Beyre growled, eyes flashing orange, "Are you making fun of me?"

"A god whom is found, another created. A child's desire that can never be sated. A music so sweet the gods were offended, and a singer's pain which surely must be ended. A mountain of grief from its roots to its peak, within it they slumber the brave and the meek. Step lightly and swiftly, or you they shall seek." A myriad of voices, whispers and screams. Mimaya the Sleeping Shepherd that Paints the Skies with Joy bows before the beauty of Beyre.

Beyre snarled and stomped away from Mimaya, but not before muttering a few unsavory words that seemed to linger behind. "You don't want to talk straight, fine - don't!"

Mimaya was wondering whether the goddess would return, for Umaya had commanded all of the Umati to guide the divine towards Dol Arlessa, and found herself following Beyre. She called upon the voice of her nearby companions to speak for her, finding her own words silenced. From afar: "She loved the goddess, but her efforts were wasted, to suffer ill health after the joy she has tasted."

Without her voice, she could not sing... she reached out to the goddess and gently gestured for her to follow. Her hands shifted into archaic runes - remain on the path. Mimaya prayed the goddess would come with her.

Beyre spun to meet the spirit. "If you insist on cooperation then answer my question: what is the mechanisms of this place? No rhymes, no poetry, I'm not a child to be amazed by funny sentences and fuzzy meanings. I'm a god."

"Y-y-you came from Na-na-nazarine, and, and, g-g-go to th-the Tower of Seren-ne-neti. U-umaya commanded us t-to guide y-you." Many of her limbs and hands shatter with shame as Mimaya speaks, and tears fall as she cannot comprehend how foolish she was beside this goddess. Perhaps she should banish herself to make amends, how else could she atone for her ignorance. "Forgive m-me."

"Oh that's much better!" Beyre's eyes flashed green, Mimaya's voice returning in full. "So I go to the tower of Serenti? Take me there, please!"

The spirit conjured forth a massive bed of clouds and blankets with angelic wings that quietly lifted it upwards. An entourage of winged animals with ornate and exquisite creations that all shimmered and glittered like gold bathing in the radiance of the sun accompanied the goddess. Mimaya became a colossus once more, and glided beneath the bed for Beyre to rest upon. Her many arms seemed to carry the parade, and Mimaya continued her journey to the Tower of Sereneti guiding the goddess of luck deeper into the Underworld.

There was little change in scenery during their travels, the fog remained ever present, and a sea of stars rippled and glimmered both above and below. Thousands of souls walked underneath the soft rolling clouds adorned with jewels and feathers, but they remained silent. Soon, a tower emerged upon the horizon, a lonely structure that seemed so small even for Beyre's eyes more keen than any beast or bird. There was another ripple, all around, and in a ephemeral blink, the marching dead had arrived at the tower.

It was unlike any structure seen in the world of the living, unrestrained by the laws of reality. Strange stone limbs protruded from the center shaft, akin to branches on a tree, and thousands of balconies and windows decorated the walls giving the tower a sharp and rough textured appearance. Clinging to the walls like insects were an innumerable amount of cannons pointed outward in all directions, and circling around the tower were more giants like Mimaya, but different in their shape and demeanor. They vigilantly watched the sea of shadows as though expecting something to emerge. All of them were singing, and all seemed to contribute to the source of the haunting melody that permeated everywhere in this realm.

A silk carpet manifested for Beyre to step down from her bed as it alighted, and approached one of the enormous entrances where one of the spirits awaited the goddess. The standing sentinel lacked a face, its body consisting of pale arms reaching towards a luminous stone. Two dark arms held the pale silhouette of a sword. "I am Sehja the Blue Mountain that Purges the Unwise. I have come to guide you to the Tower of Aatu. Pray, come with me." The words were spoken in a stoic voice while the spirit performed the sacred welcoming ceremony with twenty three of its hands.

"Finally," Beyre exclaimed, "no more poetry."

With little else, the goddess towed behind the beast.

Mimaya chimed farewell as she vanished into the void, the souls she had led to this place were escorted by another giant which took them through one of the other entrances into the tower. Only Beyre and Sehja remained.

The colossus offered a hand for the goddess to step upon, the spirit's palm was much larger than the center hall of her canton back in the Red City. "I could carry you, if that is what you desire. Navigating the Underworld is not the same as traveling in the world of the living."

Beyre smiled politely and took a step onto the creature's hand. "Let's go."

They ascended together then. There was no wind to buffet them, nor inertia experienced despite the great speed at which they had arisen. They were silent, but they could hear music that was in sync with their motion; changing as they flew past branches and buildings that extended from the tower. Time seemed to stand still, then twist and echo as reflections and refractions rippled and splashed around them. They merged with a mirror ahead of them, and swam through liquid reality. There was no light, but endless patterns and radiant designs decorated the nothingness, the shattered edges of space that gleamed and blinded.

Then they were descending, farther and farther, yet they had not altered their direction. Above and below them was the Path of the Dead with thousands of more massive and otherworldly towers scattered along its length guarding the hundreds of thousands of souls on their journey to Dol Arlessa. A river of light appeared, and danced in the luminous darkness. Along the path were crystals that grew like flora as large as mountains and revealed the presence of a being that existed within the dancing river of pale radiance. A giant amalgam of dark and celestial characteristics, a memory of something that once walked upon this path. The ghost of Ekundayo which stood among the souls which followed her and showed them where to go.

The fog formed a very melancholic simulacrum of a sky, and slightly obscured the far and faint motes of light that were like stars on a cloudy night. Beyre had seen thousands upon thousands of giant spirits soaring through the void or inside one of the myriad of towers, and all of them were singing. She could feel their gaze upon her, and subtle hints of veneration seeped into their song as she passed by. There were times when she could hear the thunder of cannons and the terrible roars and screams of monstrosities, as though a battle raged near her.

Beyre and Sehja eventually reached another tower, and entered through one of the balconies into a massive hall that could fit an entire city within its brightly illuminated space. The floor was an ocean of shadows, with ivory flowers and luminescent algae casually resting upon its surface, their roots emerging from the unfathomable depths. In the center of the hall, a pale mermaid wielding a silver sword that blazed with divine power was meditating above a small island. Her eyes opened, and her voice was clear and much more powerful compared to the celestial choirs Beyre had encountered so far. "I am Umaya, the Daughter of Death. Why have you come here, goddess?" She had spoken with the voice of child, but her complete stillness and the coldness of her eyes was old with suffering and a lack of innocence.

Beyre pinched the bridge of her nose. "How patient are the other gods you've met?"

"There are many gods, and their patience varies. I would suggest speaking with them yourself to find an answer that would satiate your curiosity. Is that why you have come here?" Umaya tilted her head and smiled slightly.

Beyre blinked. "Are you mocking me?"

"No, I have only asked two questions which you have yet to answer. Would you like a drink?" Umaya asked as she flies towards another island that is narrow and tall and filled with alcoves that hold cups and serving carafes. She turned back to Beyre and awaited an answer.

"So you think you're better than me?" Beyre put her hands in her hips.

"I am what I am. All of the gods and goddesses are welcomed here. If you have need of anything, it shall be provided for." Umaya searched through the alcoves and then sniffed the contents of various jugs. "I am afraid we have nothing to drink, but we could have it brought here to you, if you desire." The mermaid returned to flying above the central island, and offered a strained smile.

Beyre scoffed, "so you DO think you're better!" The goddess fell into a clearly frustrated thought. "Did you make the afterlife?"

"No, I am merely a soldier that protects the souls that walk upon the Path of the Dead." Umaya said without emotion in her voice, her features passive and lifeless like those of a porcelain doll. "Perhaps, you could say I preserve it."

"What gods have dealings with the afterlife?" Beyre demanded.

"There are many gods and the sum of knowledge collected by us regarding their dealings and interactions within the Underworld is far beyond what I can explain verbally. Further more, listening to me expound upon the esoteric and abstruse nature of the other divine and this realm for many years is likely not what you desire, nor an efficient use of your time." Umaya remained impassive, but bowed her head respectfully towards the goddess.

Beyre's eyes lit up orange. "Don't you tell me what is and what isn't worth my time!"

Her scowl deepened."I'll be back... Eventually."

"You have not even introduced yourself. Perhaps you will offer your name when you return and we can construct a beautiful shrine to honor you." Umaya said with her first voice while her third voice chanted the melody of farewell.

The goddess of luck left the hall and wandered the path she now knew and understood; she followed her steps like lingering impressions in sand, and soared across the dark sky of the Underworld. Her mind honed and altered the world around her becoming streaks of silver and white in endless darkness, until she quickly returned to the bottom of the Mundus Pit she had previously descended. She then ascended and departed the Underworld.


Khoris Productions presents:
A Matter of Life and Death



T O N T A

&


EKUNDAYO

In which two goddesses meet and make war, joy, and grief.


PREVIOULSY:
EKUNDAYO, goddess of death, was born into the world and immediately set about battling the demonic monstrosities that had found their way into the realm of death. During her battles, she creates her great silver sword capable of trapping foes with magical thorny vines. Her daughter, Umat, was created out of the soul of a great dying demon from EKUNDAYO'S dreams. Meanwhile, after creating the drakhorey and the phoenixes, as well as trapping a drakhorey soul in a massive pillar, TONTA wandered around watching the world die! She saved no one until proto-MOUSE THE WISE told her to save the animal kingdom. In doing this she mixed all the animals into a great creation soup, which emerged as strange amalgamations on the shard - such as cloudy whales and octopi whose piss is the rain. She pledges never to save anything ever again. Later she observed mankind and, after stumbling on some kind of proto-furry cult, decided to destroy mankind by creating the ape/monkey race of the MONKILLI. She also created many other species and turned MOUSE THE WISE into a mouse for rejecting her generosity.


Tonta was quite appalled. The world was a fucking mess. She'd sorted out the issue of the endless screaming, of course, and had made plenty of life forms and tortured that stupid Mouse, but there were many things that simply made life here unbearable, if not impossible. Chief amongst these were the souls - they were quite possibly the most unimaginative little wisps she had ever seen. Someone had decided it was a good idea for them all to be completely alike. It was an insufferable bleeding travesty.

She watched them flitter hither and thither, shimmering and whispering and sobbing and cursing their luck. As she watched, however, she could immediately identify a pattern. Slowly but surely the souls were - after tiring themselves with all their pacing and mumbling and shimmering and sobbing and cursing - going off in one direction as though drawn by a siren song. Her interest piqued, Tonta followed one such soul until she saw what she had missed before.

Unseen by the living, the land was fragmented, vast chasms spreading across the earth and pulling the stray souls to them. Every lost wanderer stood on the precipice, peering over the edge until something unknown compelled them to leap. They fell through the cracks into the gaping abyss below, where their crying and terrified screams began anew, but was hushed by a faint sound. A whisper in the wind that allured the fearful souls and promised them sanctuary in the dark depths. Just a leap of faith, that was all the whisper asked for.

The souls did not see, but Tonta saw that deep down, hiding in the shadows, a myriad of monstrosities preyed upon the souls that fell from above. An endless horde consuming the abundance of spirits who had been lured into the darkness. The demons sang and played their instruments, creating an eerie song that concealed their slaughter. Many sang and danced while they feasted, the creatures ignoring many souls that slipped through their number.

Tonta stared at the scene with no small degree of incredulity. "What... the fuck?" She glanced at the soul she had been tracing and watched it leap into the death pit below. The goddess blinked. "Ah, a dumb flaming dipstick I see." She stepped forth and her great yellow hood melted into blackness, the fair skin of her face gave way to a barken visage, and her thin staff erupted from her arm and found itself in her grip. She hung wraithlike above the pit for a few fleeting seconds, and then plummeted at impossible speed - flying past the dipstick - and crashed amongst the feasting demons with the cacophony of thunder and a great eruption of ethereal limbs.

There was very little mere demons could do to harm a divine being. Their claws and fangs, horns and poisons, and all of their insidious words could only scarcely cut the flesh of a god. Death by a thousand cuts, however, was a possibility. Though hundreds perished at the impact of the goddess, still thousands upon thousands came forth to replace the fallen.

The musicians continued playing, a strange and terrible melody that accompanied the battle that commenced. Souls fell like rain while demons died, and a goddess unleashed great and divine violence upon those that dared to face her. The fiends were endless in number, and persistent in defeating this new foe, but could not strike her down or weaken her. The fighting endured as time passed, but fewer demons participated in the act and watched from the edges instead. The thousand singers, and ten thousand instrumentalists began to slow their song as the goddess carved a path of slaughter through them. It seemed she had begun to sink further into the Underworld.

There was no light, no air, no earth, and no weight in the realm of spirits. Only the presence of a deep darkness that drowned all of the senses and numbed the thoughts of the ones once alive. Relying upon sight was futile, but there were impressions in the void - shapes and sizes. Far away, there was a path beyond the darkness, a small seed of something solid and visible in the emptiness of the vast void.

There was no way of walking, only sinking further and deeper into the depths, and yet the path was coming closer as though it were swimming through the sea of shadows to reach the lone goddess. Other souls were beside her, or behind her, following their saviour. A few that had simply drifted aimlessly before her arrival began to accompany her as well, seeking shelter in this being that radiated power and light.

The path consisted of what Tonta could recognise as the demonic dust that remained after they had died, and divine ichor similar to her own. The faint presence of a mighty being lingered on the vile path, its scent pervading the senses of the goddess. The souls that had followed her seemed surprised to step upon the walkway and rely on their feet once again. They could not see far, unlike Tonta who could even now perceive the massive creature that walked further along the path.

The souls clamoured about her - or what would have been clamouring if they were not doing it in hushed voices - and they brushed against the wraithlike form of the goddess and sent praises and glorified her. Tonta's barken visage was deadpan for a few long seconds. "If any of you touch me again, I swear I'll fucking make you beg those dipshits back there to eat you." She said at last in a cool and amiable sort of way. It was obviously amiable - she chuckled pleasantly afterwards, you see, and patted one of shimmering blobs to emphasise her words. "Capiche, ugly?"

Oh, they definitely understood.

The goddess stepped further out onto the road, the blood and dust rising up in a great swirl at the flick of her finger. They broke up into small glowing wisps of green and red and blue and spread far and wide across the extent of the road, and some wandered off it. Roads were to be followed; everyone knew that. And to wonder off the road is dangerous business. Dangerous business indeed. Tonta smiled mischievously. Surely no one would be so foolish as to follow some tantalising lights calling them from the road now. She glanced at the souls behind her, all very mindful to keep their distance. "Hah. Dipsticks."

The bark-faced divine wraith half walked, and half drifted, onward towards the great creature in the distance, and it was not long before she found herself half a league from it.


It was an amalgam of otherworldly and familiar characteristics gathered into a strange facsimile of life; both monstrously grotesque and hauntingly beautiful - a bestial goddess of the underworld. Another accompanied the colossal creature, a graceful and ghostly mermaid that swam through the endless sea of shadows and lingered close around her companion. Slowly, both had come to a halt as the glimmering goddess approached them.

Ekundayo had wandered the apathetic abyss for a time, wondering when another attack would come and when she would have to fight once more. She had balefully sought violence, but such bloodshed only brought her further sorrow now. How many had she slain? Hundreds? Thousands? She searched through all of her memories and counted three million, four hundred and fifteen thousand, and thirty-three demons; that number had she consumed. Other dead demons she had used to construct the Path of the Dead, the quiet promenade consisting of their corpses and her ichor.

Then there was light surging through the void, akin to a fire burning through the shadows and providing a sudden empty illumination to the world all around. Ekundayo shifted and turned to face the source of this radiance that clashed with the eternally dark void that had become familiar to her. She held her silver sword in her many hands and exterior entrails, its blade bloodied by her own ichor and that of a great many fiends. The weapon seemed equal in length to the distance that separated Ekundayo from Tonta and was adorned with roses and leaves much larger than the tallest trees; its numerous thorns could pierce even mountains.

Ekundayo was blinded by the bright beauty of her approaching foe. She shrieked with her torn and tattered throat; a terrible pained voice that endlessly echoed in the underworld, accompanied by the ruinous song of shattering shadows like broken glass all around. The mermaid beside her also suffered from the cacophony of calamity, crying in pain and fear. The goddess of death waited while her sight quickly mended and she saw a wooden wraith, eyeless and as dark as the demons before... but bright and brimming with a soul so unlike the empty hungering denizens of the abyss. It was approaching at speed, the ethereal world darkening and brightening all around it and the black holes of its eyes seeming to suck in what light the being shed.

"Don't fucking point things at me." Its voice came softly, casually. But as it spoke it savagely brought its thin staff in a one-handed downward swing that struck Ekundayo's sword and sent reverberations all the way down it, moments after which all its flowers wilted or shattered and fell away, leaving nothing but the gleaming silver blade behind. The wraith paused for a few moments then, seeming to properly survey Ekundayo for the first time. "My but aren't you just gloriously ugly." There was a moment of awestruck disgust before the wraith seemed to drag itself out of it. "Guess I better clean you off the road before those dipsticks get here, eh? See, those poor souls have seen enough suffering and so I, as their noble, just, and compassionate saviour must see all obstacles in their way crushed. I need to give the poets something, y'know?" No sooner had the final word been spoken when the wraith grew larger, the bark cracked and tentacled in every direction and the stench of rot and the rasping gasp of lifelessness permeated the world all around.



let me feast on you my darling


Ekundayo became enraged at all this, her hatred granting her strength. Her shape shook with wrath and anger, like ruinous splinters of manifested shadow that emerged from the depths of her despair and adorned her like armour. Then there was a sudden sorrow so sharp it cut into her deeply. She became a wound unhealing, a dreadful curse upon herself.

She sought out that pain within her; her hands burrowed deep in her body. Blood and bone were exhumed and accompanied by the depraved din of her cries, the dissonant pealing of flesh from her form. She whispered, without words, a silent prayer of destruction into the severed pieces of herself held in her hands, and then cast them at the horrible wraith opposing her.

The disturbing anatomy soared through the nothingness, bones fracturing until they burst with a fierce and terrible force, joined by the foul, profusely pouring ichor of her wounds, which streamed and surged in all directions like an ocean of blood. The remaining mutilated flesh and innards sailed upon this grotesque sea of viscera, violently contorting, and shifting in a vile facsimile of life. Awakened by her lamentations, the multitude of meat and bones begin singing and dancing. Everything was covered in a crimson cacophony that pervaded all senses.

Ekundayo continued her attack, unrelenting, thrusting with her silver sword still held by the small limbs and intestines of her stomach, while she hurled volatile and violent entrails like explosive projectiles with her great arms. She screamed, her hollow voice echoing throughout the void again, as she fought once more. Her blade cut through the air and left a trail of fractal flames in its wake that awoke a spirit of bright fire that howled and rampaged before attacking the wielder of the blade that birthed it. Shai - the First Fire of Hell - was born.

Before the two goddesses could clash, Umat - the mermaid - attacked the burning ghost and pushed it away from the imminent fight. The fire formed into many beasts and seared the mermaid's skin, but she refused to release the seething spirit attempting to assail her mother. She held out her hand, knowing the weapon would be there, and grasped the silver sword of her mother. Now she could fight this new foe without concern for herself. She feared the presence akin to her own that this creature showed; it had been reborn through her mother like herself.

After giving her blade to her daughter, Ekundayo resumed her own battle attempting to remain lucid despite the pain, but her own offense had damaged her sanity and body immensely, and more and more of her ichor seeped forth from her dark cuts and gashes. She could sense that she was becoming empty as the millions of corpses she had consumed were freed in endless waves that merged and coalesced into towers of blood and bone. Without concern for herself or these structures, she rampaged towards Tonta. She desired an end, perhaps this creature could offer that which she wanted. Tears began to fall down her cheeks.

The other seemed equally drawn to Ekundayo, taking slow lumbering steps, full of purpose and knowing intent. The distance between them closed swiftly, but the closer they got to one another the greater the distance seemed to grow. And there was a screech from a distant place, perhaps from above or perhaps from below, and the screech was:

"come to me. Come to me now. Come to me dearest. Let me hold you."


And so when first the hand of Hyatonta-Ekninot-Mahtut fell upon the weeping wound that was Ekundayo, when first life knew death and death knew life, there was a change in the world. Sure the souls did not stop their incessant, endless whispering and the living did not stop their screaming and shouting and grunting; sure the new-born sun-disc did not fall from the sky and the retreating moon did not stumble as she returned from whence she was thrown. The newly raised foundation-pillars of the Shard did not tremble or shake or fall, there was no great announcement that rumbled through the halls and rooms of the divine mountain and its denizens. The rivers did not change direction and the lakes and seas did not overflow, and not even in eternal void-sea did a nothingness become something or a something become nothing at the gravity of the happening. No no, there was none of that. But let it be written thus: for a brief moment there was a thing that stood eternal and in the presence of which magick and matter and time and space unfolded, unrolled, and about which they danced and laughed.

When first the hand of Hyatonta-Ekninot-Mahtut fell upon the unsoldered scar that was Ekundayo, when first life knew death and death knew life; why, at that moment alone did life know life and death know death. What were they, after all, those two lonesome, incomplete things when the other was far away and unknown? Ekundayo was taken up in an embrace she had not expected - and that, no doubt, her adversary had not expected to give - and the horrorsome form of the life goddess gave way instead to one of carefree lightness, one that gave much and took naught.



and in her light and every tremble was chanted: my darling, feast on me


A crown manifested upon the space between the great horns of Ekundayo, a corona of hollow light both pale and dark that consumed existence around it and exuded it anew. The sight before her, and the touch of life, set her mind afire with cosmic lucidity, and Ekundayo was enlightened for a brief moment, her mind comprehending a terrible truth of the world. Her unseeing eyes became bereft of their blindness by virtue of the blinding light of life and its beauty. She could hear her own thoughts then - barely heard over the crashing of waves, the blood song and music of mutilated flesh, the cries of the unborn and her own weeping. She could see herself in the reflection of Tonta, like a mirror for all senses, for her body, mind, and spirit.

An understanding that if she was the self, then the one before her was the other, the outer. Together they were divided - light and darkness, life and death, love and despair... without each other, they were incomplete. Ekundayo realised she was a goddess...

No.

Her other half was a goddess... she herself was a demon, a dream, a shadow, a monster that belonged in the Underworld, in the lonely abyssal depths. Her name was Ekundayo, she thought with a quiet laugh while tears continued to fall.

From her back, another large laceration spread, and disgorged many more of those once devoured - and they began to sing such a haunting melody as they merged and sundered themselves, the number of new entities changing constantly. They burned both hot and cold, carried by the cascade of ichor into the abyss all around. Some of the strange spirits spectated the encounter between life and death, knowing that they would be called upon. Others began feasting upon the divine blood with an insatiable hunger, knowing that they would be called upon. Much of them fled in fear and sorrow, knowing that they would be called upon. All of them created music through their existence.

Sehja the Blue Mountain, Rasmus the Shining Wave, Kaj the Recursive Word, Kaia the Sorrowful Veil, Ili the Frozen Ocean, Darja the Cold Forge, Charis the Red Wing, Cajsa the Docile Talon, Ataya the Painful Night, Nahia the Green Song, Joran the Vanquishing Spear, Ophelia the Burning Sigil, Raisa the Infinite Field, Esha the Black Promise, Ramal the Infernal River, Dahab the Cloud Shield, Hazim the Vicious Mockery, Jabari the Penitent Chain, Sasha the Furious Sage, Thana the Storm Serpent, Thula the Shattering Sky, Anuka the Accusing Shadow, Dakarai the Broken Gale, Nakato the Questioning Scar, Lesedi the Vigilant Hammer, Frath the Painful Light, Jojo the Envious Mask, Ayotunai the God Crown, Yejide the Dark Voice, Pam the Endless Star...

All of their names now known to both goddesses, all of them reborn by the tumultuous interaction of life and death. Creatures apart from the cycle neither alive nor dead, neither demonic nor divine. Three million, four hundred and fifteen thousand, and thirty-three spirits that existed for Tonta and Ekundayo.

Ekundayo cursed the life that pervaded her as she begat such spirits, but her heart was laden with joy upon hearing their song, seeing their shapes, and having company created by both life and death. She shed more tears as she thought of how alone she had been since birth. Fear. Sorrow. Despair.

She cried as she continued to claw at the goddess of life, her hands crashing down and striking Tonta. Her body was berserk, she had begun attacking herself without realizing it, lashing out at anything she could. Many of the nearby ivory towers were destroyed, and crumbled, or found themselves impaled in the flailing deity as she shook and rampaged.

Upon being emptied, Ekundayo felt a hunger that the tantalizing presence of the goddess of life only invigorated. Her appetite overwhelmed her being and she began devouring parts of herself and Tonta in an attempt to satisfy the hollow feeling. It tasted delicious, it was poisonous, it filled her, it sickened her. The other was soft and yielding in her hands, neither the flesh of her bosom nor the softness of her cheek nor the clouds of her hair resisted death's bites - and wherever death ate of life, it found life growing more feverishly, leaping towards her insatiate mouth as though life found life in death; and death ate as if it, too, found life in bringing death to life. Through all this, Tonta's embrace only softened around Ekundayo, like that of a mother holding her beloved, weeping, thrasing child, willingly giving of her self and her life that the flesh of her flesh and blood of her blood may blossom and grow. Were not mothers the very wellspring of life? Could they not give eternally and have eternity more to give? But Ekundayo saw none of that and could only castigate herself. Why was she such a monster? She did not understand what was wrong with her.

Further away, Umat had severed the head of Shai, and claimed it with her free hand. The head was akin to that of a lion's, with a burning mane and fierce feral features. The other spirit calmed itself upon the loss of its head and bowed before the mermaid. Umat then infused the fire of Shai into the silver sword and proclaimed herself the Keeper of the First Fire of Hell. Afterwards, she heard the song of her kin, and watched as an endless horde was spawned by her mother and the presence of life. She watched as the goddess of death spasmed and frenzied while the spirits sang and worshipped the two deities in a myriad of strange ways. The mermaid raised her silver sword and entangled her mother with roots and vines so that she would refrain from thrashing.

That sudden separation seemed to awaken the life goddess from the strange trance she had fallen into, and her eyes glanced swiftly from the prison of vines and roots that now held Ekundayo to the many strange creatures that now circumambulated them and sang. The light of life shone from her eyes and her hair seemed to burst to the seams with it, and wherever her gaze fell the spirits felt themselves sanctified and magnified, their deathlessness eternalised.

The mermaid, Umat, then called upon the spirits that proclaimed to serve, and ordered them to protect their bound mother from the hungry. She called upon the wise with their soothing songs to counsel her mother in her grief, and others to help her speak with the goddess of life. Umat held her blazing blade high and her voice quickly became the strongest among the horde until she was directing the melody, waving her weapon like a conductor's baton. She taught them her song, and the spirits were then known as the Umati.

Those that did not listen were burned until they complied, and soon a gathering of the Umati approached Tonta. From among them emerged a large and graceful panther with silver markings and obsidian armour along its back and tail while long threads of black fur and enchanted ornaments spread in all directions. An ethereal woman clung to the panther, for they were one and the same, and both bowed to the goddess.



"I am Esha the Black Promise That Seals The Void! O bright and beautiful Tonta, we worship thee! We are blessed by your presence, Giver of Life & King of the Umati! Ekundayo does not wish to see you. Would you speak with her now?" The panther purred as she spoke, while the woman smiled.

The eyes of the life goddess closed then, and even through her eyelids did their brightness shine. And she shrunk then and the effulgence left her golden hair. On a small throne that had leapt from the path as the goddess descended, clothed and prideful with her stick - now sceptre - in hand, sat Tonta. She glanced haughtily at Esha, clasping the silver sceptre in one hand and testing its sharpened tip with the other. "If you worshipped me better you wouldn't have let that... that... thing... eat me like that." She huffed with a small pout. "But yes, whatever. You can bring Ekundayo to me, I'll see her now - so long as she stops her temper tantrum. Because if she doesn't," Tonta's eyes flared threateningly and she smacked the sceptre across her open palm, "I've got a stick."

The panther tilted her head with curiosity before she stood tall with a fierce pride entirely false. "I shall bring her here quickly, your majesty." The dark feline and ivory woman merged and then dashed further down the path with great speed leaving silvery tracks in their wake.

Far away, the goddess of death sank into an unseen sea generating silent ripples in reality while more and more of her body disappeared into nothingness. Only a much smaller form remained; she was a human with ashen hair and skin as pale like bleached bones. She wore a regal dress as white as snow and carried an exquisite staff in her hands.



Ekundayo listened to the haunting chorus of eldritch voices around her, softly singing their unearthly lullaby which calmed her. They ignored her requests to mock or condemn her, choosing to continue their song without interruption. The goddess could not rouse herself and escape this predicament.

Esha, among many other spirits, was welcomed by Umat, who watched as both goddesses had become small and similarly shaped. "I have come to collect her at the behest of Tonta the bright and beautiful." Esha explained and chuckled. "I am curious how this will end... but I would rather rest and have it told to me another time." The panther proceeded to yawn and then lethargically stretched before the mermaid like a cunning pet seeking an opportunity to make mischief.

"You're rather irksome now." Umat said with a sigh while Esha merely laughed more. Afterwards the mermaid approached her mother in the centre of the melodic gathering, swimming through the void until she alighted beside the small goddess. Her mother was barely the size of her finger now.

"It is time, mother. Tonta waits for you." Her words were accompanied by the collapse of another ivory tower. The sound echoed throughout the abyss, and the music grew quiet for a moment.

"Why would she wish to see me?" Ekundayo asked, her voice demure and pitifully weak compared to her cries as a giant. In this shape and size, her hunger was easier to contend with, but even the provocative light of the other goddess was too much. She refused to torture herself further, or worse, attempt to attack Tonta again.

Umat subtly smiled upon hearing her mother speak for the first time but hated to see the resentment her mother held for herself. How could she cure the goddess of this curse so that she might see what her children saw? "It does not matter, I think. You would not be rude to Tonta, that seems unlike you, my kind mother."

"I... I did not want this." Ekundayo had seen the world of the living and it had frightened her. She had sought death and had found the goddess of life instead. She had become holy, knowing her own sorrow after discovering joy, and understanding the nature of conflict and the cycle of life and death.

Her daughter offered her hand, letting the goddess ascend up and stand upon her palm. Ekundayo was surprised at how small she was, at how easy it would be for her daughter to crush her within her grasp. She then realised that it had become more difficult for her to manifest her true form now that her stomach was no longer swollen with fiends.

"Let's go." Umat said, attempting to encourage her mother with as much enthusiasm as she could call upon in her eerie childish voice. Esha lazily licked her paws, endeavouring to cleanse them of the ichor that stained them. She chose not to accompany the mermaid and goddess back to where Tonta waited.

When they arrived, Umat held out her hand with Ekundayo presented in her palm. The goddess of death averted her gaze, a great craving grew upon the sight of Tonta so close, the urge to consume life was overwhelming. She wanted to flee before she lost herself in a gluttonous rampage.

"Will you forgive me?" She asked meekly, unable to look upon the source of her hunger, knowing that such should be a desire never sated. Ekundayo did not see the small look of surprise that lit up the other goddess' eyes, of course, but she did sense her getting up and moving briskly towards her. And when she was close enough Eku felt Tonta's finger on her cheek, and the other goddess gently but firmly made her look up, and Eku saw the small smile that danced in the life goddess' eyes. No words were spoken, but Eku knew without doubt that her embarrassing hunger had not only been forgiven but was completely forgotten.

"Well, aren't you just the sweetest morsel?" Tonta asked with a mischievous grin. She took her by the shoulders and hoisted her up and then linked her arm in hers and half walked, and half dragged, her off the giant Umat’s open palms. "Come, you and I should walk and talk. It's nice when you do that y'know? It makes it feel like things are happening and we're getting somewhere." Her arm hooked in Eku's, Tonta led the death goddess further down the Path of the Dead.

Though Eku hungered still and it was all she could do to stop herself from sinking into the enticing flesh of Tonta's neck or Tonta's cheek, there was something more, something greater, that now enveloped the two goddesses as they walked. There was a certain serenity and familiarity, a certain ease. "Gosh, does this road just go on forever? Where does it lead, Eku?" Tonta asked after they had walked a great distance in that easy silence.



"Dol Arlessa." The weight of the word, its meaning and manifestation, the ever-addictive succulent sound resonated in her mind though she had not understood it before now. She softly smiled at the one that had cursed her with such knowledge, these thoughts and memories she both loved and loathed. Dol Arlessa. Death and Rebirth.

"Would you come with me?" Eku regretted asking and immediately prayed with fervour that Tonta would decline the foolish offer. To include the goddess of life in such a terrible act seemed utterly revolting, even eliciting a subtle shudder in herself. She sensed an unseen change in her true form then, something strange yet comforting. Another reason to thank and begrudge her other half, who was now looking at her as they continued walking.

"I mean, if I get to see where all the souls end up and what they do, then yes! I'm coming with you all the way," Tonta's gaze returned to the road and she added in a relaxed tone, "did you ever doubt it?" As they walked, another question emerged before Eku could silence herself.

"Would you remain with me for eternity..." It was a rhetorical question considering the nature of their aspects, but Ekundayo was intoxicated by the presence of life, the taste lingering on her tongue, and reminding her of her own inevitable demise. The greater the compassion she was offered, the worse she suffered in this perpetual cycle of balance and conflict. Perhaps she could pretend for longer, she just had to fight for more time. She held onto Tonta with a little more strength, wanting to walk and talk, wanting to remain as they were in that moment. For her part, Tonta glanced at her strangely, as though she were conflicted.

"I... uh, fuck me. You're weirding me the hell out here, but I can't help loving you to bits!" She paused suddenly and pinched both of Eku's cheeks with her fingers. "So. ad.or.ab.le." And before Eku could stop her the life goddess leaned forward and gave her a firm but gentle bite on the nose. Then, as though nothing had happened at all, she leaned back, cleared her throat, hooked her arm in Eku's once more, and continued walking. "No, I'm not staying with you for eternity Eku-" she glanced at Eku, "oh, uh. Actually, you know what... maybe in a way I am." She hesitated, cleared her throat, coughed loudly, then continued. "See, uh, I am life and you are death, sooooo... we complete each other - we are one." She reddened slightly. "I only knew who I was when I looked in you, and from the change that came over you I'd say it was the same for you." She gave Eku another sidelong glance. "You are the mirror into me, and I the mirror into you. Where I go, there you are; and where you go there I am." Tonta coughed again and grimaced awkwardly. "Or something really cheesy like that. Don't ever ask me something like that again - because I have a stick and by Mouse the Stupid Dumbfuck I'm not afraid to use it." She was flushing red as she spoke and sped up to distract from that fact, forcefully dragging Eku along.

"Dol Arlessa! That's where we're going. C'mon, chop chop! Haven't got all day. I need to get back to the Shard before teatime! Who knows what that stupid Mouse has been up to while I was away?” She swept her silver sceptre in a wide arc and before them the road came alive with flowers and trees and fragrances. It was a very slow change - behind them the road back to The-Throne-of-Life-on-the-Path-of-Death was as lifeless and hard and endless, but before them little signs of life emerged, and as they continued down there were more and more until, when Dol Arlessa was nearer than sight, the plant life - exploding with a thousand different colours and hues and fragrances - bedecked the road and was like a wall to either side and an arching roof above. It was the promise of arrival, the promise of wishes fulfilled and peace attained, the promise of: yes, I will remain with you eternally.

Tonta casually picked up one of these flowers and blew on it so that it blossomed unlike any other and was filled with a zest and liveliness and seemed to shimmer and sigh and dance.



She paused there, at the figurative gates of Dol Arlessa and turned to Eku. There was an unusual solemnity to her, and it was obvious she found it uncomfortable. "I-" she cleared her throat and smiled nonchalantly, "here, this will look nice right here," she declared bombastically, as though by exaggerating the importance of the moment she could make it appear whimsical and of no great significance. Carefully, she laced the large flower into Eku's white hair - just slightly to the right. She looked at her, pursed her lips, smiled ever so slightly, and then coughed and offhandedly said, "yeah it looks nice on you. I've got great taste; I should charge you for my fashion services. Come let's go." And not waiting on any comment or protest from Eku she took her hand and went the final distance towards the promised Dol Arlessa.

Both goddesses could see that the path ahead came to an end, an edge enveloped by an apathetic abyss where the darkness was devoid of all life and demons dwelled in the deeper depths. There was nothing waiting at the conclusion of their journey, and yet...

Ekundayo was inspired.

She had watched with cosmic wonder as Tonta created life and found herself smiling the entire duration of their time traveling together. Closer and closer, upon the precipice of Dol Arlessa, that which she had sought since her birth, Eku wanted to see more and more of what life offered. She found herself laughing and understanding joy for the first time.

"Tonta, it is painful to look at you. My heart hurts." Her held hand was afire, held by the bright and blazing force of divine flame burning more fierce than any celestial child should, and still Eku didn't want to let go. The other goddess gave her a concerned glanced and tenderly, comfortingly, rubbed her hand. "Be gentle please, you are very hot." Eku quietly begged uncertain whether her companion heard her while she was struggling to comprehend her shape and orientation, falling and rising closer and further from an overwhelming inner sacred power that frightened her. Then there was a pale and peaceful light that illuminated the void.

She found herself summoning a silver sea from an urge to wash herself of her own flaws, and suddenly the two divines were stood atop a great grass-covered slope that sank into the ethereal water. Trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables grew all around in a vast collection of verdant groves and gentle gardens. Stone walls and simple shrines began to rise, piercing the silver streams in the sky; all the while Eku tapped deeper and deeper into herself calling upon what little ability to create she possessed. Beside her Tonta seemed to burn bright, a mere extension of her own creative powers and self. There was an abundance of empty space in the centre, providing a clear path to the shore. The goddess of death began pulling Tonta towards the water with an innocent playfulness, and the life goddess let herself be led to the strange shores. With each step the goddesses took the world around them seemed to whisper and sigh, a great peace seemed to become more and more so the feature of the place. The screech of souls on the Shard seemed distant, their concerns and worries and pains seemed to melt here into nothingness; there was only peace and a keen sense of self stripped of self-pity and excuses, bereft of self-accusation and regrets and bereft too of futile ambition and desire. The life goddess smiled then, her eyes on Eku's, and the peals of their contented laughter filled Dol Arlessa - yes, that was the first great sound there - as they finally reached the waters.

Tonta stopped before her feet touched the strange waves, glancing at Eku hesitantly. And perhaps she was right to hesitate, for this water was like none that existed on Galbar or on the Shard after it.

The pale death goddess looked back with curiosity shining in her eyes as she became more and more translucent, and as though reading Tonta's hesitation said: "I have never seen the ocean before; many of my memories come from glimpses into the pasts of the spirits I have slain. So much sorrow, and so much joy. Life is truly beautiful." Her voice was hollow and echoed faintly. Eku knelt in the otherworldly water, enjoying the sensation of the waves brushing against her, soothing her with their gentle and cool touch. Tonta had already joined her, hugging her affectionately from behind and rubbing her cheek against hers like a feline. Eku smiled and, wriggling from Tonta’s arms, created a silver splash beside Tonta as she dove into the ethereal depths. She quickly emerged and tossed water into the air, as though she held liquid laughter in her hands. The grinning life goddess cupped the silvery waters in her hand and flicked and slapped them at Eku, and that seemed only to further invigorate the death goddess.

And as Eku grew more and more lively, and as her laughter and joy filled Dol Arlessa, the life goddess seemed to become more muted and pale. Her brown curls seemed to shrivel and her youthful beauty seemed to age, and though the light of simply joy and constant curiosity did not leave her eyes and the glances of helpless adoration she shared with Eku as they frolicked in the water did not cease, it was obvious to Eku that a change was coming over her other half. Unable to swim or bear the water any more, Tonta dragged herself out of the silver sea and lay down on the shore, the waves lapping at her feet and causing her to laugh and bring them in, away from the ticklish sensation, before stretching them out again and repeating the whole thing in a silly, happy way. "You know, this place is nice. I kind of like it. Maybe Mouse wasn't wrong to want to die." She mumbled lethargically, stretching involuntarily, and releasing a partial yawn. "Dol Arlessa." She sat up on her elbows. "So, this is where all the souls are being drawn. Are you going to look after them forever? Won't you get bored of it?" A glint of mischief lit up in Tonta's tired eyes. "Wouldn't it be fun to send some of them off to those demons instead?"

"No, I would not become bored. I would not feel amused, bitter, angered, joyful... perhaps I may feel regret." The goddess of death giggled and continued. Tonta cocked her head and frowned in slight confusion at the odd words and the strangely placed giggles. "I wish to show all souls compassion, such is my purpose in the end. To send souls into the abyss among demons would be cruel, I think. Demons are the embodiment of the void, creatures without souls, outside life and death. Umat has devoted herself to ending their existence, but such a war will only give birth to more of their kind. I have faith in my daughter, but would you be kind and guide her? She should learn to love life, as I have." Eku approached the resting beauty of Tonta and sat by her, offering a sincere expression as more of her body became barely visible, only a pale outline of a woman remaining. Her hand rose to touch the shimmering flower in her hair, its petals chiming softly as she caressed it.

Then Eku's head lulled to the side, akin to a cat that had become intrigued by something it had perceived. "Mouse? What do you mean wanted to die?" Eku asked. Tonta lay back down and reached out for one of Eku's hands, grasping it in her own bringing it to her cheek.

"Mouse. You remind me of him in a way. Except he was an annoying, ungrateful dipshit," she glanced up at Eku, "and you're not. Or whatever. I don't know what you've done to me, I'm sure I should have smacked you at least once by now." She sighed, released Eku's hand, and rolled away before dragging herself up into a seated position, facing the death goddess. "I don't get it. Regret seems like a not so nice thing to feel - and I'd hate to be stuck somewhere where that was the only thing I'd feel. And this whole compassion thing - that's what Mouse kept going on about. I don't see why he wanted me to be compassionate. I don't see why I should be, or why you should be for that matter. So what if souls were sent off into the abyss? What have they ever done for us to be nice to them anyway?" She moved a weak and trembling hand through her shrivelling locks. "The important thing is to have fun." She finished, then winced. "Urgh, I feel weird Eku." And so saying, she crawled towards the death goddess and placed her head on her knee. "Like I'm falling asleep. I-" a yawn broke her words, "I need to go..." there was a pause, "...back."

"No! The festival has yet to begin. Just a little longer, please. I beg of you." Eku held onto the life goddess dearly, her hand shifting through Tonta's hair, and she leaned close enough to whisper into her ears. "Are you going to close your eyes, or will you watch? I want you to see... and I confess, I am afraid of being alone." She glanced at Tonta's head in her lap and found that the other goddess was smiling sleepily and looking at her.

"I already said... you won't be alone. I’m with you, see?"



There was a change, and the silver sea began to sing, the grass upon the hill began to dance, and an otherworldly music filled the air. Life and death sat together as the festival was beginning.

"I cannot expect souls to follow me in death if I am too cowardly to take the first step. I... I wanted to be with you longer. I wanted to see so much more of what the world offered." Eku sighed, struggling to say what she must, and as she spoke a small frown began to bloom on the life goddess' face. "The souls that reach here and go beyond will tell me their tales of blessings and curses, their tragic and beautiful stories of the lives they lived. Then they will be reborn in this world anew, returning to repeat the cycle and create more. Such a journey will be the one thing that still connects us. I do not know if I will return. So. Would you remember me? A promise not to forget."

"Wait," the life goddess protested, her paleness greater than it had ever been, her face now truly aged, realisation dawning on her, "don't." The waves continued to wash along the shore, the tide rising higher and higher, until both deities were suddenly submerged in a quiet darkness that was cold and devoid of light. The water quickly receded then, and the light returned, but there was only one goddess remaining on the coast. Beside her, a shimmering flower descended downwards until it alighted upon the sand where the signs of the other were fading.

The silver sea had stirred, waking from a chthonic slumber, as a celestial path cut across the surface and divided the ocean into two. There was a rush of wind, a violent gale that coursed along the path even as the water mended itself. Yet the sea was not calm, and Dol Arlessa was alive with thousands of roots and vines adorned with flowers that crawled and reached the sea, diving into the depths. The coastal waters were illuminated by a vast coral reef that had been created for the festival.

How far she had gone so swiftly, with only the song of the awakened sea, the crashing waves, the thunderous clouds, and a resounding pulse that both pushed against her and lulled her closer. The light had left but there was a luminous darkness that shone as bright as divinity, and she was swimming through that darkness, sinking further and further. She was blind, but she could see, an act of faith that was hauntingly beautiful. Then Eku felt her divine breath cease, her heart halt, and everything stand still. The shadows held depth, there were patterns and shapes there that she could perceive through an unknown sense. Slowly everything shifted, with such graceful motion and harmony. For a moment, she thought she had heard another voice.

"Kor...Re...Pa...Ve...Laak..."

Then there was the Leviathan that she knew had been slain long ago and was now seeking her. She was imprisoned by its immense presence; this creature that could consume the children of the cosmos, and she could do nothing as it devoured her entirely. Within, she saw refractions of herself falling deeper, a myriad of memories and shapes that were all her. Then she and the others were shadows descending towards a dim light, brighter in the vast void of the leviathan's stomach. Closer and closer, Eku came to the light, and saw that it was a little candle almost entirely burned away.

There was always a sacrifice, otherwise the ritual seemed too profane. Was that the nature of divinity? Eku wondered whether she was the sacrifice or whether it was something else that invoked her in search of meaning. She closed her eyes as the candle flickered, and she dreamed of a world where she could continue to hold onto life, beside Tonta and the other children of the Shard.

The Leviathan carried her through the abyss, undisturbed or bothered by the presence of terrible demons or darkness deeper than anything fathomable, as the Leviathan was wise and had navigated the unknown before the eternal cycle had even begun. A bittersweet sensation passed through the elder being, as it felt the dwindling power of the little goddess sleeping within its stomach.

How many times would it see her? How many times would death call to her? She had once said she would connect the world of the living with the world of the dead, but such foolish words barely intrigued the Leviathan. She would always forget the thoughts and memories from before birth and after death. That was the way of the eternal cycle.

The goddess spoke in her sleep, her last words. "I want my death to provoke life, as my story ends, let another begin. Be alive and creative, I eagerly await what stories you will send me. Ah, hmm... I did not think it would be this painful letting go. Oh, forgive me, I cannot offer anything in exchange for your fashion service except for my gratitude. Thank you, Ton.. Ton... no, no, no!" She could not recall her own name, but that did not hurt as much as not remembering her... she refused to forget, could not... let go of that. Then the Leviathan crossed the threshold between here and now, then and there.

Silence. Then pale light streaked across the sky, soaring over the Path of the Dead like a lonely comet on a starless night. The light lingered and danced while the Umati beneath softly sang and sang, their voices reaching the land above; unheard but calling upon all the souls that would become lost after the apocalypse concluded. The sea reflected the light above and became calm again. The festival had come to a close, and still seated upon the shore was the goddess of life. She sat there still in silence for a long time more, her face utterly deadpan, lips pursed, eyes unblinking. The song of the Umati fell on her as it fell on stone, the light from above fell on her as it did on a corpse, the sound of the waves reached for her ears but found their doors looked, the warm waves lapped at her feet but found them cold and unmoving.

But at last something in her moved - her lips tightened, her eyes trembled, shimmered. She took a sharp breath and her eyes hardened momentarily; anger flashed. "D-dumbfuck. Stupid ass... - argh! - ...worm!" She leapt to her feet suddenly, her locks returned to youthfulness, her features young and furious, "you know what?! I don't care! You can go fuck off to wherever! If your purpose is so important then you can eat it! And play with it! I hope it's better company than me!" She kicked at the otherworldly sand and huffed. After a few moments she noticed the flower lying a small way from her and furiously swung her hand down and grabbed it, bringing it to her face and breathing it deeply. "F-fucktard," she muttered as she gently laced the flower to the front of her robe, her fuming visage at complete odds with the tender motion.

A mermaid hesitantly approached her, feeling in her chest a sharp pain that bore witness to the fact that her mother had passed on. She was comforted only a little by the illumination of the ghostly radiance above, and the divine ichor that flowed through her. Umat shifted to the size that the two goddesses had been, something many of the Umati seemed to imitate, but the heavy weight upon her did not lighten. She fought the tears that fell but could not defeat grief, just as she could not defeat the demons that plagued this world. She could not win and cried like the ugly monster she was. The silver sword dropped from her hands, and she wept after becoming an orphan once more. "Momma, please. Don't go." Her cry joined the song of the Umati, which now seemed to take on a great nostalgia, a certain maudlin edge adorning their great call. And all of Dol Arlessa was filled with the grief and tears that Tonta refused to let show.

"Shut up! Shut up! The lot of you! No more crying! That's an order!" The life goddess finally bellowed, turning around with her great shimmering eyes, and directing her fury on them. "You heard her: be alive and creative! And anyway, while you're moping around feeling sorry for yourselves, she's already forgotten us! So, we should for- forg-" she stopped and swallowed, her eyes shimmering dangerously now. "Fuckface," she intonated with a sniff, blinking away any treacherous tears.

She strode over to the snivelling Umat and took her by the shoulders, shaking her gently. "There now, stop crying." When Umat continued to snivel, Tonta's shaking grow more persistent. "There. There. Stop. Crying." Then she patted her robotically on the head. "You know what? I think you should talk to Mouse. I'm sure he'd have something very wise and very deep and very comforting to say." She paused for a few seconds, before adding almost angrily, "and maybe I should talk to him too." Sighing, she hooked her arm in Umat's and glanced once more to the shore and where Eku had disappeared, her face sombre and dewy-eyed. Then she shook herself from it with a sharp breath and dragged herself and Umat from the that now-miserable place. "Back we go. The dipsticks will be arriving soon, and I don't want to be here when they do."

Umat, for her part, wanted to hold her mother one more time. She wanted to say thank you for giving her life and being such a kind mother despite the continual onslaught of evil all around. The mermaid was delighted upon hearing the gentle voice she had known her mother possessed for the first time. She heard the voice of the goddess that spoke to her now, felt her potent touch, but... she could not ignore the pain that spread everywhere. It was difficult just attempting to listen and calm herself. She could not perceive any wounds, yet it felt like she was bleeding, choking on ash, rotting away. "Give her back!" She cried, the last of her tears falling. Tonta swallowed and her arms stiffened at the mermaid’s outcry, but she did not stop or turn back and kept her head dead straight – as though looking at anything grieving for Eku was too much for her.

Umat may have been reborn, but she did not care for the souls of mortals like her mother had. She had been on the verge of laughter when she heared Tonta's suggestion of feeding them to the horde of demons but had not wanted to interrupt their time together. She had been captivated by their interactions, watching her mother relax instead of fight. The mermaid recalled that her mother wanted to save the souls... "I will protect them, and I will bring you back. We will be together again, I promise." She whispered to herself and held her silver sword once again. The life goddess gave her a quizzical sidelong glance, but Umat did not mind her. The image of her mother being allowed to enjoy life in a world free from the evil that had cursed her was burned into her mind. She would begin her quest with the promise of this future.

The goddess, as if seeing something in Umat’s eyes and face, pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. "Urgh, great. Another saviour." She moaned.


The Dream - The Nameless
The Underworld - During the Apocalypse

She slowly reached out with Her hands and tore the evil creature in Her grasp asunder, taking delight in its last pained shrieks and spasms before She consumed its corpse. Its numerous companions were gnawing and biting at Her legs and stomach, but She ignored them as the delicious taste of abyssal ichor and fiendish flesh flooded Her mouth and filled Her with insidious joy.

She languidly swallowed Her small meal before She shifted and reared in an attempt to violently shake the demons off of Her. A few had fallen, and She quickly stomped upon their smaller forms, extinguishing them beneath Her huge hooves and heavy roots or strange protrusions that served as feet.

The creatures were weak and little compared to Her, but they were also countless, and She was becoming exhausted... which would eventually inevitably result in Her demise. This was not a fight She could endure much longer, as She had not rested since Her awakening and the hordes of the abyss were relentless in their war with Her.

She suddenly leapt from the Path of the Dead up into the nothingness where one would drift aimlessly as the concepts of gravity and electromagnetism cease to exist, then She called upon Her power which pulled Her back. She crashed down upon the path like a meteor, pulverizing the remaining creatures that foolishly held onto Her. The few that survived disappeared into the endless abyss, cast aside by the vast explosion from Her impact.

Afterwards... Preparing Herself for the next onslaught, She was surprised by the silence broken only by Herself as the squelching sounds of black blood poured forth from Her many wounds. With the unexpected moment of calm, the constant diversion of fighting now gone, and the subtle sensations of pain becoming profuse, Her physical trauma overwhelmed Her in a dizzying rush.

Was She dying now? She could still sense the nearby grotesque oily presence of the void-spawn, but they did not approach Her. They seemed to be distracted as well, hunting other prey that was wandering lost in the darkness. The cries of souls consumed echoed from afar, such a sorrowful song that hurt Her more than any cut or bruise She had sustained. She did not know whether to be grateful for the reprieve, or enraged that She had no enemies to fight, to slay, to aid Her in forgetting Her current suffering. She hated Herself.

The Path of the Dead was without end and incredibly difficult to navigate, not entirely solidified in a few sections, and many paths often leading to nothing. The longer you traversed its lonely length, the greater the risk of being attacked or becoming lost, but She was never concerned by such things, and began walking onward as She sought more foes to slay.


---

The fighting was always vicious, but the denizens of the void were becoming familiar with how She fought, and discerned Her greatest weakness. A lack of agility, accuracy, and ranged capabilities. They began to utilize skirmishing tactics, relying upon Her inability to reach them as they hurled spears and sharp poisonous projectiles at Her, weakening Her and providing an opportunity to strike without retribution.

She had slain many even at such a disadvantage, blindly retaliating with Her multitude of limbs, striking and strangling the unfortunate fiend that was not fast enough to escape Her wrath. When they tossed their spears at Her, She would pull them from Her body and hurl them back.

Then they began mocking and attempting to speak with Her. She had yet to discover how cunning Her enemy could become.


They kept their distance, but assailed Her with words, disturbing insinuations and horrifying insults. They asked unsettling questions that She could not answer, or shared terrible knowledge that She wished She could forget but feared it would stain Her mind for the rest of eternity.

They said She was death incarnate, that She must be slain or else the cycle will never be broken. She did not know how to speak, how to curse them and demand their silence. She had not needed to communicate before, and never bothered to regenerate her eyes or throat after having such torn apart in a previous encounter. She could only let Her anger continue to accumulate as She wandered and built upon the Path of the Dead.


"We are Nameless." They claimed, those that spoke to Her from the darkness.

---

She could not find shelter, and She could not uncover Her tormentors, it seemed She would fall soon. They whispered to Her while She rested, as if corrupting Her mind and pervading Her thoughts were more enjoyable than killing her now. They laughed and leered now while unseen, as Her attempts to find them failed again and again. Exhausted, sleep beckoned to Her, calling for Her to meet its sweet embrace.

"Death, why do you sleep now?" They asked.

"Death, why do you cry now?" They asked.

She could not answer, She was too tired and could not be bothered. Their voices merged together and became gentle, lulling Her to sleep. She heard a few kind words among the insidious choir filled with contempt. Their honeyed lies hurt more than violent truth.

While She slept, She dreamed of a strange creature approaching her and offering something in its outstretched limbs... in its hands. The creature seemed to lack legs, its lower half consisting of only a shiny scaled tail that ended in wide fins that it used to propel itself forward. Its upper half was weirder, only two arms attached to a naked torso, and a small head with long strands of silvery hair framing the creature's face.

"Will you take this? Will you forgive me?" The creature said and held out the intriguing object, persistently trying to give it to Her. With great hesitation, and only after the creature seemed unable to accept Her refusal, She took what seemed nothing more than a oddly carved horn or claw. Upon touching it, knowledge filled Her.

While She slept, She saw a tall and terrible tower, sundered by a beautiful silvery sword adorned with roses and thorny vines... a silvery sword now wielded by Herself, as She was soaring in the sky above and watching the stygian land beneath Her begin to crack apart. Holding onto Her and clinging to her neck, the creature from before watched with wonder as the tower crumbled and a beautiful sea emerged from the broken earth.

While She slept, She did not feel the teeth that bit Her, or the claws that cut Her, or the stingers that stabbed Her.


She awoke with a burning fire in Her heart, finding Herself encircled by demons and devils tearing away at Her flesh. Dazed after Her slumber, She did not understand what was happening as She suddenly beget forth a bloody blade from Her form and grasped it in Her hands. It was the silvery sword from Her dream, still decorated with briar and roses even now.

The weapon extended Her reach allowing Her to fight the skirmishers, and also summoned entangling vines that restrained Her enemies making it easier to grind them with Her feet into dust and blood. Newfound power filled Her as She wielded the blade, and She slaughtered all of the fiends with no mercy in Her heart.

"Death, why do you fight now?" They asked after, the unseen demons were still lingering beyond Her sense of sight. She screamed in frustration, swinging the massive sword around aimlessly, before She continues walking along the Path of the Dead. A sound from the carnage left in Her wake causes Her to halt.

"Forgive me."

She remembered the voice from Her dream, and turn to see amidst the many mutilated corpses a familiar form. It was the strange creature, with terrible wounds inflicted upon it... by Herself. She did not know how to react at the sight, slowly stumbling back to where the dying demon lay.

She had not feasted upon the fallen this fight, Her hunger had vanished after witnessing the denizens of the abyss consume the souls of the living. She had found Herself retching and disgorging fiends she had previously eaten.


"I wished to be with you." The creature contorted its face, twisting the muscles of its mouth as it cried. She did not understand why this monster was saying such as it was dying. She screamed in sorrow and doubt, wanting to know why She was in pain when She was the one that had survived and had become more powerful while this creature like its kindred would no longer hurt Her.

"Thank you." Were the last words the creature said before it died.

---

She walked along the Path of the Dead, Her silvery sword summoning forth thorny tendrils that would restrain the demon, and let Her easily kill them. The weapon was imbued with a powerful enchantment, growing more powerful as it consumed the blood of those that it felled. More and more beautiful vines sprouted from the weapon and nearby path to feast upon the helpless fiends.

She could not count how many She had slain, though there were always more it seemed. She enjoyed fighting them. She hated fighting them. Why did She continue to fight, She had been asked now, and She did not know. But...


"Endless. Undying. Nameless." The voices whispered from the dark and fathomless void. They continued to haunt Her.

But...

"Mother, why walk when you could soar in the sea of shadows?" A childish voice called out.

So small, that it could easily rest upon Her neck, the serpentine half-humanoid creature flew through the abyss around Her, dancing like the streams of blood that flowed freely through the abyss akin to the rivers appearing in the world above. Umat, whom insisted She should give it a name. Umat, whom called itself Her first daughter. Umat whom She had healed.

Umat was beautiful and free, not bothered by her mother's silent voice, coming closer to what she had known was a great goddess. She was happy her mother let her hold Her, and hug Her. Her mother was gentle and soft, similar to what Umat imagined pillows and silk blankets to be like. Umat often wondered if her mother knew what She was...

While Her daughter cradled herself in the comfortable location where Her neck and shoulders connected, the goddess of death continued her quest to hunt all of the demons that dwelled in the Underworld (aside from Umat) while walking along the Path of the Dead, wherever it may take Her next.


---


The Heart of the Forest
The 13th of Gamman, 4655ia

It was strange, she vaguely recalled the withering sensation of wilting parched and alone among the trees, feeling her brittle bones and desiccated flesh crash upon the dry ground... but afterwards, it had felt as though she were sinking into dark water slowly consuming her.

Sorrow washed over Sariel as she considered how meaningless her short life had been in the end, dying in the northern forest seeking a hermit that may have passed away so ages ago. How could she believe in such a foolish tale, or that she would ever find a wise warrior that could offer her salvation.

Shame burned in her heart, but the fires of embarrassment were quickly quenched by the fact that she was drowning, or experiencing something akin to it. The dark water had swallowed her body, and she couldn't move her limbs, powerless as she plunged into the deep depths.

The passage of time seemed distorted; her thoughts were both painfully lucid and languid, but also accelerated and incomprehensible... she attempted to calm herself and embrace patience, but warred with the other half of her mind that panicked and writhed in despair.

Then Sariel surged upwards into a blinding light that blazed with radiant fury where she forgot all that had happened in the timeless abyss.


---

She stirred, though everything hurt and her eyes were sealed shut. The sounds of movement alerted her that she was not alone, quiet steps and the shifting of fabric. That was when she realized she could not feel the familiar sensation of her veil upon her face.

She had no magic, no strength, and could not see, but she refused to surrender while she was still alive for that would be a waste of the gift the gods and goddesses had given her. She must fight!

Her head lulled to the side...

Strong hands shook her gently, then lifted her head. She could hear his voice, but no words were spoken, only the sounds of his breath which she felt upon her skin. With what little effort she could call upon, her eyes began to open.

Sariel saw a young goblin beside her, watching her closely and attempting to help her wake. He was muscular, but with lean features and an otherworldly grace that she had not expected to see in a goblin of all things. He seemed more akin to an elf, a small and strangely green elf, which was a disturbing thought.

He had seen that she had woken, and then gave her a dried fruit from a pouch along with sharing his waterskin. Kindness from a boy in the wilderness was another surprise, but she gladly took what he offered her, the food and drink worth more than any great treasure at the moment.

He seemed hesitant to touch her further after she opened her eyes, which she was grateful, and then he spoke. He was speaking the Elvish tongue, which irked her, but either she was imagining his words, or he had lived among elves that were willing to teach him the secret arts of their language, which seemed a great crime in her mind.

He was evidently not an elf, his voice did not convey the magic of her people, but she could not understand how he knew such sacred knowledge unless... an elf in the wilderness taught him. She also noted that she spoke in a very archaic manner, as if he was older than her which she highly doubt!

He placed the sustenance in her hands, and then walked towards a corpse she had perceived through the scent of blood and beast nearby. He left her to begin scavenging, which was expected of a savage, she supposed.

Without another thought, she began trying to eat what he gave her, struggling to lift her arm to her mouth, and ignoring the voice in her mind that insisted she act with dignity, Sariel had rolled to her side and curled in herself. It wasn't much more efficient, but if her hand couldn't bring the fruits to her, then her mouth would come to the fruits.

She had somehow brought the water to her lips and almost choked as cool liquid poured down her throat. The waterskin slipped from her grasp, and she limply retrieved that accursed vessel. More and more, she was able to devour a bit of what the goblin had given her, like she was a starved animal that had stumbled upon an untouched carcass after starving for days... that last bit actually was unfortunately true, what a fool she was in the end.

She barely listened as her company carved into the bear, hoping that he didn't look at her and see her in this disgraceful state. She would have been beaten and chastised by her family if they had seen her now. Executed or imprisoned if such was seen by the eyes of commoners, for the image of grace and beauty along with reputation was the primary concern for many among her family.

She hid her face behind her veil once more, as was proper in civilization, and she did not want to risk invoking the temptations upon her feral company. She did not know this goblin, and could not be certain he would adhere to the teachings of the Weaver.

Sariel did not track the time as it passed, but the goblin boy had hacked the slain beast and harvested from it all of the flesh from its bones. He was using the creature's pelt as a sack to hold all of his gathered meat, and bloody smiled at her! The feral child began walking away, and she remembered that he had mentioned a camp.

With weak arms and legs, she stood unsteady like a tower ready to topple at any moment. She had regained a little of her strength, but she prayed that she may finally be able to rest in peace soon when they reached wherever this she was being led to.


"What is your name, and why do you speak Elvish?" She asked with a raspy voice that hurt her to hear. She had been beautiful singer with a melodious voice back in Hiyal before her dreadful departure, but now she sounded like a old hag from the desert croaking out curses upon the innocent and unprotected.

"Ajax." One word, with little inflection, and a lack of any additional components or eponyms. It was a very rude way to introduce oneself, but Sariel did not think that proper etiquette was taught among barbarians that lived in the wilderness.

"I have always spoken Elvish." He continued, speaking in a manner that she could not ascertain whether it irked her... or merely intrigued her. Most certainly the former, she decided, however she also required his aid so she thought it would be for the best she remain reticent regarding her thoughts.

She simply needed to trance, to rest and restore her spent magical energy. The spell-marks on her body were still dull, and the dark elf could not recall a time in her life when she been without spells for such a long period. She felt more exposed and vulnerable unable to call upon her magic.

She struggled to keep pace with him, her advantage of longer legs proving to be worth little as he swiftly continued onward. He was kind enough to walk slow, but then would occasionally disappear swiftly akin to a scout, and then return after a brief absence. When he came back, she had more questions.


"You are the first goblin I have seen that speaks and understands subjective Elvish, as opposed to the abstract Elvish others learn to speak when adapting the language of my people. Only an elf could impart this knowledge, who taught you, Ajax?"

Other races would seek to impose meaning upon the world by having language that describes the first songs written by the Weaver and familiarizing themselves with patterns and cycles in a single direction, but her people had learned how to refract the nature of words and meaning and observe the world of language from a myriad of perspectives.

Sariel had hoped that perhaps it was the woman she sought that had shared the secrets of the Elvish language with the goblin. Such an act was truly absurd and possibly heretical, but if it suggested that she was on the precipice of completing her quest. She was so close, and soon she could rest.


"I have spoken Elvish for as long as he could remember speaking. I never knew there was another of speaking it." He replied, without choking on words and gasping for breath like she had when she spoke. She was not fond of the fact that she was evidently slowing him down, a burden upon him.

A moment of silence passes until she then realizes she had yet to introduce herself, and further shame began to swell within her. She was grateful that her veil hid her reddened cheeks, her head was swimming in the sweltering heat. "I am Sariel Min Selan."

She attempted to bow before him, but bent and swayed too quickly, stumbling and almost falling down on the ground. She catches herself, and internally sighs at her pathetic display. "You have my gratitude for saving my life... thank you." How lackluster her gratitude must have seemed, perhaps she could find a way to redeem herself for such dishonor.

"I am happy to help. My master taught me to help those in need." He said as they continued onward. Sariel noticed that he butchered her native tongue with the incorporation of what others had called the Common Tongue. How strange, why would he refer to his master as such, she wondered to herself.

"Is your master back at your camp?" She refrained from speaking the Common Tongue, such a disgusting word would not pass her lips unless she had no other choice. She could not discern his reaction as he walked ahead of her, but his voice remained the same.

"My master left with the wind. Nearly seven seasons ago." Ajax said calmly.

Another quiet period passes where she could not properly articulate her thoughts, or grasp an understanding of the strange individual guiding her. His words were disheartening, especially if his master was the one she was seeking. Would this venture have been in vain, a worthless journey into the wilderness that nearly killed her?

"Do you know an elf that may have lived in this place once, a warrior monk who would have been called the Broken Blade of the Elder Wood, if you have heard of such before." Desperation wallowed in her voice, unwelcome, but she could not conceal her growing despair. All seemed to be lost at this point, and she quietly prayed while she awaited the goblin's answer.

"I have never heard that name before. My master was an elf though." The goblin replied, and Sariel wondered whether she was being taunted or if he was a fool. She then realized she was having a conversation with a goblin that lived in the wilds, and had forgotten such. His use of Elvish had distracted her, and she hadn't spoken with another person in so long that she was acting delirious.

"Was your master the only elf you know? Were there other elves in the forest?" She asked.

"You ask many questions. Have you eaten the food I gave you?" Ajax questioned back, a sharp focus in his large eyes as he gazed at her. Sariel wondered if she had misjudged the intelligence of the goblin; while he may lack etiquette (she wondered what her excuse was) he seemed wise and aware unlike any savage or barbarian she had imagined when she was told tales of the people of the wilds.

She returned the pouch of dried fruit and the empty waterskin he had provided, then watched as he ate much of the remaining contents of the pouch casually with his hands and body stained with the blood of the beast he was carrying over his shoulder.

They were near his camp now.


The End was the Beginning - The Birth of the Goddess of Death
The Underworld - During the Apocalypse

The sky was afire, the earth burning as it cracked apart and tore open. Many mortals dying before they had even realized what was happening, while others watched as a lethargic wave of destruction washed ashore and inevitably eradicated them.

Unseen and unheard an eldritch, otherworldly music wandered the devastated world, its song collecting fragments of flora, beasts, and humanity - seeds that would never sprout, the remains of animals that had died yet to be consumed, and the lost song of humanity who have all become pitiful orphans weeping in despair... such a sweet melody it had acquired, like a lullaby for the lonely.

The song then seeped through the earth and into the Darkness beneath the apocalyptic land; the chthonic colorless underworlds and deep depths where demons and devils dwelled among other incomprehensible voids, where insidious evil begets more profuse evil... here She was born.

---

Spasms, immense harrowing pain, twisting and turning, writhing underneath the weight of a thousand eyes, cold and fiery, burning emptiness. She was in a deep slumber before this agony and the act of awakening brought soundless screams from Her nonexistent lips.

She was blind, but the shaking and sundering of reality everywhere overwhelmed Her other senses, and She could not command Her limbs, Her shape, Her being. Despair, Fear, and Frenzy dominated Her heart and mind, and with another horrifying excruciating shriek that tore asunder the cacophony of chaos around Her, the newborn goddess had arisen.

She sank further into the empty void, and could sense the presence of diabolical entities coming closer and closer. She could not shift Her direction, or stir Her body, still and struggling to accomplish anything aside from descending towards her own annihilation.

Teeth and fangs attached to long slender limbs began to tear into Her immortal flesh, ripping apart the edges of her existence and tainting her with ebon fluids. She was drowning even though She did not require the breath of life to sustain Herself, it was despair that washed over Her and choked Her spirit.

Watching the monstrosities consume and assault Her, an understanding of how to replicate the violence, the motions and thoughts of the hunter, of the cruel and wicked. She would emulate these creatures, and inflict the suffering they had imposed upon her back at them.

Her limbs flailed, as She began her retaliation and sought revenge with flimsy poorly guided strikes and reality distorting howls that echoed in the darkness. The creatures She struck wailed in agony, and the sounds resonated with Her, empowering Her.

Her retribution became more vicious, as She grasped at tendrils and broke them in half, and continued breaking them into nothing but dust that drifted aimlessly in the void. She could hear the approaching void-spawn, seeking their own vengeance for their slain kindred, and with hunger for her immortal flesh, her blood now seeping into the dark abyss.

She could not articulate Her hatred it seemed, but perhaps She could convey it though amassing enough of their corpses and dancing upon their graves. She surged forward suddenly to begin ferocious battle once more... not knowing Her own name, Her purpose, or whether She would survive.

A trail of death was all that remained in Her wake, as she slaughtered more and more, all that crossed Her. Unbeknownst to Her, born from this rampage was the Path of the Dead, a literal road of corpses turned to demonic dust, immortal blood, and the tears of a goddess, all slowly fusing into a substance akin to solid stone for the otherworldly to walk upon.


---

So it begins...


WIP

Name: Sariel
Race: Dark Elf
Class: Grave Cleric 5

Appearance:
Standing at 4'7, and weighing 77 lbs., like all elves - the young dark elf is quite short compared to the average human, with long pointed ears, and fey features. Her skin is obsidian black, like the night sky, while white hair cascades down her shoulders and around her waist, pearls and crystals woven into her braids. She has large lilac colored feline eyes, and sharp teeth as well, but soft cheeks and an ever present pout often alleviate any fearsome qualities she might have.

Sariel wears fine silk sashes around her underneath a richly embroidered caftan adorned with glittering jewels, covering her face is a veil that reaches a black feathered ornate headpiece, and protecting her feet are well worn traveling boots crafted from a fine dark leather. Around her neck, she wears a simple necklace with a pendant consisting of a silver crescent moon layered atop a black moon - a symbol of the goddess she worships.
@rezay I don't really mind any changes you make, but that's me. I'll happily wait to see what the others think.

@LukasVolkov Based upon what was established earlier, the answer would be no, but there might be changes incoming as the original poster has other commitments and won't be able to facilitate this story.
@Dead Cruiser No worries, you do what you have to do. Real life and your health takes first priority of course.

That said, I feel like electing @rezay as Co-DM, if they are willing to rise to the occasion just because they are really good at keeping things updated and progressing forward, based upon what I've seen so far.

That's just my idea/suggestion.
@Dark Cloud Hope to still see you around, and that your life recovers from hitting the fan. I'm told that such shouldn't result in too great of an injury but is very much dependent on the size of the fan.
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