On the world of Glaceria, a midnight wind crashes against an empty beach next to a frozen seabed. Instead, what defines the features of the planet are the shapes left over by its water freezing over millions of years. Small ice pebbles smash into increasingly larger stones. Massive stones, motionless on the glacier, serve as anvils. Silt inundates their gaps, along with ancient seaweed, shells, shards of glass, and scraps of metal.
Changed until they are unrecognizable.
This one probably won’t last that long.
Force mounts. Within seconds, the minuscule ice-rocks shatter under the power slamming them into oblivion. A minute goes by, and the larger rocks rip apart. Grinding, crushing, destroying, until little is left. Just tiny shards, as sharp as any arcane relic, and glaciers as smooth as talon-stung ice. Yet, even more powerful is the hand that wields them. Grasping with invisible claws, the wind lifts the shards skyward. At first only a few, but the ranks swell by millions. The world darkens. Stars and moons vanish behind the lethal mantle. Plants and strange sculptures built of snow shred to ribbons, mix into a massacre, and add to the wrathful creation.
What resembles a massive black sword sweeps the countryside. Flakes encrust one end like a handle. Ice pillars burst from the ground to join in the indecipherable mass. The blade is a violent blur of motion and sharp violence. Thick, broad, and unbreakable, like a cleaver. Perfect for slicing through limbs and bone, walls and stone, shield and home. One swung by a great invisible arm from the beach, through a forest, and across a meadow.
A small hive of Val’Gara sits quietly in its path.
It nears, and drones burst out of the few bioforce foundries that gird the collection of buildings. Rats scurry out of the gutters. Somehow, animals know that death is coming. Even insects do. There isn’t really any difference between one and the other. They burrow into the dirt like there is no tomorrow, hoping they’ll escape the coming devastation. They won’t be fast enough to escape, though. At least they are aware. The sentient ones, however, require extra incentive. Especially ones who are dreaming.
Moments before death descends on that small hive, a shadow enters in the minds of those unsuspecting unfortunates. A blinking blue eye, cold as winter and ominous as a frozen grave, opens into their nightmares. As it pulsates, horrific scenes play out behind it: a meteor shower breaking apart a planet, their creator being dispersed across the multiverse, fire devouring their gargantuan children, and shadows swallowing a ray of light. All throughout, there is silence. Even their own screams are silent in their mouths. Squelching everything else is a single unavoidable thought.
“I am destruction. Your lives are fuel for my rage.”
. . .
Morning comes. Bright, grisly, and drowning in snow and ice. What was relatively spring is now absolute winter. The storm is gone, but the hive is a wreck. Buildings are in tatters, not that they were so great to begin with. Mostly, the ice and snow cover them. What didn’t collapse in the storm. Corpses lie in their beds, debris on their chest like makeshift gravestones. Froze, all of them. Froze and torn to bits. Blue hair, missing eyes and limbs, missing souls if they ever had any.
Only one survives, not that he is really alive.
Rising up out of a dune of snow is a man in rags, ice encrusting its chitinous flesh, and one eye haunting blue. Ice and shards of stone decorates his skin. Ineffectually, it tries to hide inside itself. It can’t stop shivering or stumbling forward as he makes his way toward the city.
At intervals in its strange tongue it yells across its psi-link, “WOE, WOE! DEATH AND WOE!”
. . .
From one chamber of her scale-hewn palace to the next, Kor slipped like a ghost beneath the pallor of mana-infused torches. Soon, she crossed the threshold of her atheneum. It was a library replete with sacred vellum, arcane manuscripts, and divine artifacts, all set on variegated crystal slabs that extended eternally onward, for the flesh and bone of Midgarðsormr inexplicably encompassed more than what the natural order permitted. In numbers that could not be reckoned, tomes bound in dragonflesh with words arranged from the rent veins of so-called gods decorated the shelves. Granted, far more books were mundane in both subject and composition, written in gold, or silver, or ordinary ink, but a scarce few were treasures of indescribable worth that lacked even a physical manifestation for mortals to comprehend.
In a single step, the arch of the doorway diminished to a pinprick of distant light. Again, the train of her diaphanous gray robe rippled like disturbed water of a mercurial lake. In that moment, she demonstrated what a trifle the expansiveness of the chamber was to a sorceress of her caliber. Kor’s strides superseded the banality of space such that she almost instantly achieved her destination.
Before her it rested atop a pillar of fused minotaur skulls.
More chilling than frost-blood, her gaze reflected back at her from the innumerable skeins of the scrying stone. Therein the orrery, the moon Glaceria floated as a pale blue dot; a mote seemingly all but too small to trifle over. Nearby brooded Gathix, another moon, the molten antithesis of his sister. Greater still, Colossus, a living world waxed furious at her untimely intrusion, but was unfortunately preoccupied with its own trials. Last, and vaster than all, shone Sal’Chazzar, star of the Val’Garan home-system. Only the first enticed Kor, and she mentally urged Glaceria into focus within the crystal ball’s translucent midst. Light years drifted by as meaningless moments, black flecks of the Collective—each celestial dreadnaught a force to warily reckon with—faded into an orbital fog, and the ice world swelled until every peak and valley glistened in perfect detail.
A tempestuous black herald ravaged the moon’s pristine beauty, leveled sturdy buildings and shattered lofty spires. A calling card—her calling card. So many souls across the verse recalled it, regretted it, and despised it, for it symbolized hopelessness and devastation. Not, however, necessary death. Bitterly, innumerable fools cursed whatever name they gave to her and her pet without realizing their life was hers to take, but, even so, she spared them. Most of them, that was. At best, they were barriers, just like these Val’Gara were barriers. Once swept away, Glaceria would be forever changed and hers eternally.
As her mouth twisted in satisfaction, Kor drew her naked arm, laced with silver wires from shoulder to wrist, and brushed her fingertips against the violent blotch that gyred along the cool surface. Instantly, a chill writhed up her pale limb and numbed it from white to blue. The cold emanated throughout her body, until she flung her head back in ecstasy. Her eyes fluttered and a sigh rolled over her bloodless lips. She felt the energy of the world as it pulsed and tasted its very potential. Moreover, in that moment, she realized her will on the moon went uncontested—her storms were meaningless, save the speed with which the runes they carved allowed her and her companion to make landfall.
The episode quelled, she pulled herself away from the distant vision and thought. It was to be so easy. An army was not needed. Still, she peered about. In the shadows, she took in the rest of her library’s contents. There rose into darkness the scale columns of anhkolox legs, lurked enraged gargoyles formed of living ice, and threatened glass drakes who breathed streams of plasma.
It was time.
With her eyes, she traced a symbol on the bone floor beneath her. It represented the runes which were carved likewise on Glaceria. Her hand lifted, and out of the perimeter of the runes rose the landscape of the world she was to conquer. She placed her foot down into the midst of the projection, and the verse trembled. Even here, in such a timeless place, she felt the tremble of the mighty beast as her Midgarðsormr it made landfall.
Without hesitation, she turned and left to look upon this strange new world with her own two eyes.
. . .
Ice spears frame the inward-yawning gate set in Midgarðsormr’s helm, its doors flung inward into a darkness vaguely disturbed by the crude geometry of arcana-blasted steps. From that gullet of oblivion emerge thin tendrils of mist. Creeping forward, they gather into a melancholy whole to mount the stairs and silently pour out onto the balcony. The dark gray architecture patched in blue hoarfrost blurs into an ethereal landscape where, without a word, Kor appears, as white and tenuous an apparition as the pale milieu gathered around her feet.
Her hand descends to caress the rail before she takes a deep breath and opens her eyes.
Even from the lofty vantage of her castle in its crown, above and behind her looms the world serpent’s bulk, an imposing ridge of kilometer-thick scales careening over the horizon and a thousand leagues beyond. In the shadow of such greatness, she takes in her new and uncontested domain. Glaceria’s wild moonscape fades through a gentle whorl of snowflakes to a scintillating pale blue. On the world’s star-ward side, Sha’Chazzar’s light infinitely winks, ensnared by minute crystals suspended in the moon’s atmosphere that combine to form millions of ice rainbows. Few were so fortunate as her to know the grandeur that prevailed on these worlds of ice and snow.
With a single step, as though the verse were shifting around her, she passes from the loftiness of her balcony to the titan-darkened and wind-battered snow of the surface so far below. In her hand is the evercoil, a whip as lucent as quicksilver in the moonlight and more transfixing than a billion stars commingling in a galactic core. Such an armament is unnecessary in a place such as this, now bereft of life. Still, she feels no remorse for the wholesale destruction of the monstrous inhabits who formerly polluted this place.
Now, it is pure.
Now, it is hers.
Slowly, she strides onward, a silent laugh lilting from her throat, visible by the deposition of her breath in the cold air. Truly, she is queen of a graveyard. However, as she stops before a smooth surface of pristine ice, and beholds her stately form, she recalls that it is better to be alone. Alone, there are no fools to declare her a charlatan—to say she is no beautiful sorceress at all but a weak animal. No, in that image before her, though others would, she cannot see the small tailed figure cloaked in white fur with whiskers protruding from its pointed pink nose.
Instead of an ermine, some ridiculous vermin, she knows herself and sees herself truly:
A mighty sorceress and beautiful queen.
“Dark seductress, broken night, endless dost thou bend my light,” Kor mused, her thoughts turned back on her journey hence.
Light years, it seemed, stretched between her and the moment she saw the anomaly. Its telltale wink and the weird passage of alien life within and without belied a mystery to the black hole that aroused in her a curiosity that would not be slaked and, inevitably, drew her inward. It prevailed in spite of the natural forces insistent on its annihilation. It inexplicably existed. Just to penetrate its singularity demanded she weave an abstruse tapestry of spellcraft, yet through it she endured. Within the strangely folded space, she found a world more bizarre than any other she hitherto encountered. It was a plane where planets were psychotic monsters and a star revered as a god.
Unseen, she drifted to the dark side of Glaceria, an ice moon she thought abandoned. Unnaturally massive, it circled, with its fiery brother, Gathix, a living planet. There, hidden from a star’s light that threatened to rule her soul, she observed the system’s tumult. Accurately, she guessed at the reason as to why, on the largest world, the conflict intensified. They were without a clear leader. For that cause, alpha beings rent land and sky in defense of their selfish and futile claims to that role. Wonder soon gave way to doom, for, she realized, her presence went unmolested not due to the subtlety of her craft; rather, the internal strife of the system’s inhabitants made for a potent distraction. She was even certain one of the beings, Disciple, noticed and dismissed her presence. Why, she could not say. Perhaps his focus was on Colossus, mother of these worlds, and his role as general on her vast battleground.
Flight, while prudent, was nevertheless an untenable option.
Midgarðsormr was not due to awaken from his slumber for centuries, whereon the world serpent again would glut on Glaceria’s mountains of ice and seas of snow. What manner of chaos such a future would yield, Kor was uncertain, but for a great while her occupation of the moon was one of grim isolation. Too much, reminisced Kor, although within those hours she worked to refine her arcana and studied in detail the mysteries of the icy sphere she now considered home. Soon she found it was inhabited, but with lesser beings whose encroachment she swiftly whelmed.
Meanwhile, on Colossus, the blare of war suddenly and auspiciously reverberated with fresh intensity. The cadence piqued her interest and she found herself mesmerized by the conflict. Soon crystallized the notion that the frenzied monsters struggled toward what they incompetently assumed benefited the whole. All because they did not listen; nor could they, enslaved as they were to an absent master. Psionic blasts magnified by Colossus’ many Behemoths insisted on capitulation, only to be opposed by the notion of individuality; Leviathans inundated the defectors with massive beams laced with a cocktail of subjugation; orbs of psychic energy sped throughout the fray; and billions of creatures were coerced into proxy battles. Ultimately, they fought for the rank of leader even as their nature required servitude. They recognized that weakness in another, but their inward gaze was blinded and refused to bend the knee, even against the might of Colossus’ syncopated directives.
For that reason, all—Azeroth, Hellion, Disciple, and more—failed.
Finally the battle, Kor thought, reached its conclusion.
It should have all been over.
Only later did Kor realize time on Colossus was, for all intents and purposes, at a standstill; yet, part of the planet remained earnest, even as decay seeped into its roots, in its compulsion for self-perpetuation and preservation of the species.
Beneath Colossus’ massive shadow, Glaceria was almost always dark and cold, only occasionally illuminated by Sal’Chazzar’s warped light. During those times, as Kor peered upward, the star’s radiant green bioforce both warmed her cheeks and sent a shiver of inexplicable horror throughout her spine. It was no mere vessel of matter fused to light. She understood why they revered it. Yet, more than the star, which unsettled her to profound depths, she was perturbed by the antumbras that drifted before it in a steady departure from Colossus’ nebulous influence.
“Sons of Idea and their mother,” she sneered, “that repellent creature, whatever it may be. That such a progenitor of repugnance exists is intolerable.”
The second of the many escalations that ultimately tore the system apart was planet fall.
Out of the pinpoint of nothingness at the system’s horizon burst a torrent of matter, thick and ocher. At the edge of the event horizon, it manifested as a torrent mud forced through a crack in a cave wall. Whimsically, it tumbled and coalesced; rivers of dirt and water lashed their way inward; clots of filth rained down on Glaceria while Gathix erupted with rage at the mountains of gravel and mire that cascaded into its molten streams; and incrementally the invader swelled to the mass of a mid-sized terrestrial planet. Just as it achieved wholeness, it struck Colossus. Although it was, in comparison, a small sphere, the forces involved were tremendous. Shockwaves rippled along the recently recovered fog that covered Colossus’ expanse and bowed the behemoth spires that pierced the cold of space.
Ostensibly dauntless, the greater of the worlds soon recovered. Ruddy oceans cascaded into ravines and eventually Colossus swallowed the remnants of Mire. Then from the very core of Colossus’ bled an indecipherable stain of crimson and rust. Bubbles burst incessantly just beneath the flow’s tenebrous film while giant blades obscenely pierced its viscous membrane and heaved it upward through its mother’s bowels. Outward it surged, through caliginous crevasses and contorted shafts—an intertwined labyrinth of vicious geometries that scorned sane comprehension. These were its native halls, through which it careened onward unabated, its consciousness bound to the myriad assimilators that lined the world’s interior. Only a brief time passed from when its journey began until it tore through, as a fetid deluge, the murky atmosphere and coalesced in space.
With grotesque majesty, Tsathoskr drifted into the midst of its brethren. Mighty Son of Idea, its psi-link resonated with the nearby leviathans and dreadnaughts, monsters not unlike itself, and the millions of lesser beings asleep in their holds. Still, theirs were forms that, while hideous, did not adamantly defy nature’s very order. That distinction belonged to Tsathoskr, neither Herald nor Son of Idea, but an amalgam of both, just as it was a crazed and sordid union of every unremembered nightmare and fiend born of creation’s wiles.
Unbound by chitinous rock and unaffected by the Midnight Fog, its body flattened and a plumage of blades maligned into serrated pinions, spikes, and spears that likened to the crest and claws of a wild hoatzin. Amidst these, talons extended to reveal lidless eyes, only for them to be blinded by the storm of black particles that ever ensorcelled its contorted frame. To the fore, the plane of its body split dorsally, the fresh hollow lined with innumerable rows of gargantuan teeth while in its midst of it maw a sickly cyan aether buzzed aglow.
<< Return to us our feast, >> boomed a psionic voice throughout the system. It brought Kor to her knees, yet its intended recipient hovered in adamant calm. She recovered her senses fast enough to behold Tsathoskr’s reply, which came not with words but a low rumble that expanded in force until it flooded the Val’Gara psi-link as with the relentless and continuous crash of an avalanche. Even as it freed a multitude of its brethren from the stasis of the Midnight Fog and evoked in them the same deep impulse the quasi-herald felt, an intense and insatiable hunger, it paralyzed all others embroiled on the field of battle and wiped clean the slates of their minds of its presence.
None who lingered on Colossus after its passage would recall the moment of its birth, its form, its being, its name. All—Disciple and his minions, Azeroth and his confederates, Singar and his erstwhile mechanizations—were deprived of that honor.
Within its maw brightened large globs of crimson, an aetheric model of the constellation the flotilla presently inhabited. Soon that diminished, joined by many more luminous motes, more constellations, then a nebula. Faster, the lights, now barely visible glints in its massive pseudo-mouth, swirled and receded. Nebulae became small blurs, a galactic arm seemed to manifest, but that all too quickly grew dim. Whole galaxies were apparent, although faint at so fine a scale. Finally, in two of the minuscule blurs, what were two invisible specs suddenly shone with a radiance that overwhelmed all displayed, the model rotated, and with it so too did the universe.
It felt like a lifetime, but only seconds fell through the mythic Phanes’ fingers as Kor detected a third of the present armada churn into formation. The others were motionless, frozen in time and space. She thought the spell to awaken her own monster, but did not invoke it for there remained the possibility that this act did not concern her. Another moment where she was ignored by such a host, at least until her pet was roused, was her hope, and, breath held, it was granted—not in the form of a stay, but of irrelevance.
The assembled host vanished in its entirety.
She took a step back in shock and glanced over her shoulder, a meaningless instinctual gesture. No, it wasn’t there. Even with far more potent senses and a spell hastily woven to accomplish the purpose, she detected not their presence, and even they were unable to mask that from her. Indeed, she sensed no magic or dimensional manipulation at all, neither nearby nor in the void wherein their astra once shimmered; not even the tell-tale signs of warped space. She sensed nothing except cruelty of intention that extended away from her far off into the distance.
The remaining escalations, suddenly roused, came in abrupt cadence—blurs of internecine strife to which she assigned monikers that fell utterly short of the gravity of their egregious transgressions; continental upheaval, planet shatter, star fade, and system abort. They were merely bookmarks in her mind to events that defied description. In awe, she watched the strife unfold from the false security of her observatory located behind and magnified by one of Midgarðsormr’s great lidless eyes. Although camouflaged by magic and ice, she knew her defense was false. Still, she forced herself to linger, to watch, and to understand.
Singar enveloped the globe in his vile fog, but managed only to make the combat more viciously and strenuously waged. The demon did not stop there, but, before he left, flung his scabbards, with their blades yet secured within, to every world in the system so they might suffer under his corruptive influence. At some point, his plans came to fruition, and he absconded with Sal’Chazzar’s light. With that fait accompli, Val’Gara space diminished to something unremarkable. Instead of a mote of darkness, impenetrable to all but the mightiest and keen-sighted, the entire system was exposed to any amateur astronomer.
Ruin upon ruin came, yet, inexplicably, op rumbled the drums of war. They struck their baleful rhythm until Colossus, already rent, was strewn across the expanse and her satellites thrown into disorder. Megalodon dove into and further maimed the pit formed by Tsathoskr’s egress, even as it struggled to mend, violently burrowed through the planet’s core to the other side, and engaged Thane in a pointless duel that tore their mother asunder. Amphiprioninae and Disciple waged a psychic battle, although the latter’s will was crushed by his recent defeat, and in their intermingled distress planted the seed for an even greater menace. For that errant germ, Colossus exploded. Glaceria and Cathix whirled into space like tenuously linked bolas. Meanwhile, the once great planet, mother of the Val’Gara, was reduced to a strand of dust littered with flesh and frozen gore. An accusatory finger pointed toward Caorthannach’s recreant departure, for the newly born being’s gravity pulled behind it a train of her deceased mother’s debris.
Infamous and mercurial, the eons old first dominion of the Val’Gara was no more. Totems to a bygone age, Gathix and Glaceria stayed near another, guarded by the Collective who, all the while, stayed inexplicably dormant. Without direction, the lesser children soon strayed.
Finally, Kor was alone.
. . .
A great while passed, perfect in darkness, silence, and solitude; time for Kor time to reflect and train.
Her first act was the construction of a barrier around Glaceria, for she sensed an eventual return of the ferocious darkness. Weak, at first, due to its size, steadily she poured her will into its invisible folds, gnarled light into pathways of magic, and imbued it with the strength and complexity only attainable through fastidious effort. It became her magnum opus, a work refined all but continuously and polished until it flourished as a mastercraft beyond any she hitherto had known—even in rumor and unrivaled by even the most demented thaumaturges.
Were all her time spent thus, she would have gone mad.
To abate that fate, she explored other occult matters. Repeatedly, she tried and failed to awaken the Collective. They loomed silent, either dead or expectant of an incantation known only by the Val’Garan god. Still, she was careful, for she understood that to provoke their wrath would be lethal to her and lead to the final annihilation of this splintered realm.
Frustrated and eager to alleviate boredom, she pursued yet more endeavors. She explored the frozen world she gradually related to as her home and, in time, discovered a secret base deep within Glaceria’s bowels. Although hardened against the cold, the drones there were no match for the algid bonds in which she ensnared them nor the astra with which she shattered their forms. There, in that weirdly organic laboratory, she learned Val’Gara were more than mere depraved ravagers, but an intelligent race who honed their craft even as they premeditated the overthrow of, to them, alien worlds. Ages waned, but eventually their science exposed itself before her mind’s eye. She learned of the Vesuvian Virus, the Unity Effect, and more.
Were she to survive, she concluded, if she failed to abandon this place in time, she needed to improve on their bestial work. With that in mind, she unleashed her augmented product of these mysteries on the eartech pools of Gathix. Soon, they heeded her command. Not yet content with their limitations, she bred new mutations, unfettered the manacles of their corporeality, and transformed them into parasitic vapors that swam through aether as readily as air. They became an invisible fog of mental coercion that bowed, for the while, to her will.
Early in her sojourns, she encountered the envaginated blades flung by the demon Singar. The first on Glaceria soon led her, by way of its unique aura, to the latter on Gathix. Both reeked of powerful and corruptive magic. Repulsed by them and the thought of their creator, she found purpose anew in her research. A spell swiftly woven, for she dared not touch them, she contained them in spheres of air and brought them to her atheneum. Likewise, she secured samples of the Midnight Fog that lingered near Colossus’ detritus. There, she possessed artifacts and knowledge sufficient to safeguard herself from any foul influence even as she dissected and manipulated their perilous properties. Ages passed until, surrounded by stacks of vellum and sacks of scrolls, she unraveled in full their secrets. From the design of the swords, she deduced their provenance; with that knowledge secure, she discovered the name of their owner. Notes of his mephitic magic, Hellish origins, the fog, and the variety and mode of his manipulations were compiled and filed within the library for reference. Were she ever to encounter the vile crafter of those tools, she was fully prepared.
With her newfound knowledge in hand, the twin moons were cured of Singar’s blight; fully explored, her exploitation of Val’Garan biology was as complete as conscious allowed; her masterwork perfected; and the Collective stoic to her advances. With nothing left to do, she turned inward, for the time of Midgarðsormr’s awakening was nigh.
She passed the remaining time in her atheneum, an infinite library with infinite knowledge. Manifold and insightful, she never grew tired of its teachings. Yet, still, there were moments where she caught herself in a discussion with herself, where she realized her mind had wandered, and where she wildly pined for a fresh rendezvous with the magister she met during her subjugation of Fortis so long ago—so much so that her mild infatuation burgeoned into a passionate obsession.
Eventually, as she awaited the awakening of her pet, lassitude overtook her.
Inexorably, it returned. A thousand-fold lives spent in preparation and still Kor was caught unawares. Yet there it lurked, a black smudge that sought to blot out the stars. It did not hide, but its stillness cast into Kor’s soul a trepidation no invective could have framed. Flecks of cyan splashed from a multitude of maws that diminished and recrudesced as readily as pustules on the crest of a wave. Glutted on the spoils of its conquest, it was no longer a newborn, but far vaster than before—indeed, it rivaled in proportion the very moon on which Kor dwelt. The anxiety that lanced her soul is how she recognized it; that terrible and disabling familiarity. She knew, fully and with no doubt, what hovered before her was the being that so long ago afflicted her with incapacitating fear.
<< Tsathoskr. >>
In spite of the protective magic she spent ages weaving, its name spilled into her mind as a deluge of raw evil, effortless and colder than any cryomancy conjured throughout her long practice. Behind it, she sensed a multitude of other presences; worse, something awakened. Somehow, she sensed it was the Collective—finally, it responded to this being’s presence.
“You can not harm me,” she insisted, but her shout echoed in her mind like a wail of despair.
Forcefully, she shut her eyes and cleared her thoughts. This vile creation was not her better. She was older, wiser, and more powerful. It was also time, she realized; Midgardsormr’s slumber was sufficient, near its end, and she desired its strength.
“Vakna, ormur eilífs vetrar!” she screamed.
Beneath her, Midgardsormr’s roared to life. Eyes opened again, and much higher, she beheld from a vantage of alarming propinquity an ebon strand uncoil from the primary mass of her foe. A tendril of cruel darkness, it probed her barrier, pressed, scratched, and scraped the surface as if curious as to its properties.
Then it crashed through as though it, her mastercraft of an age of effort, was mere glass.
Her barrier breached, a torrent of stygian hatred rushed through the fractured aperture. Frantically, she fled, shade-stepping and teleporting out of the way the matte bIack spears that assailed her from every angle. Into her fortress hewn into Midgardsormr’s skull, she retreated. Yet the malevolence poured into her steed’s mouth, even as it awoke and rose to confront the threat. Drowned, it flailed impotently in a black sea of insanity, each gasp a choked gargle; beneath its weight, Glaceria was nearly halved. Inside, the river of night crept through the small places, violated wards, perverted ramparts, and inundated her citadel with a tide of malice. Relentless, it pursued her. Finally, she sprinted down the corridor to her atheneum. Behind her she felt the roar of a million screams, pinions of death struck her back, and strands of doom grasped at her limbs. Terrified and moments from obliteration, she slammed behind her to the door to the one place it could not follow—a door secured by a thousand magisters and a million years of craft greater than she, alone, could ever attain.
She hid within her atheneum.
Prostrate, exhausted, and forlorn, she hyperventilated rapidly. With a hand that trembled, she wiped, to little avail, the tears that cascaded down her cheeks. She was safe, finally. Not even a god could breach this chamber.
Somehow, its voice again ripped into her mind.
<< What have you done? >>
“Nothing! Go away!”
<< I shall feast upon your flesh. >>
“No! Please, what … what do I do?”
<< You have nothing to offer. >>
“I have knowledge! I can tell you who did this to your home, to your mother! If it means not having you as my enemy, I will tell you everything you need to destroy them all!”
1. Retention policy. RPGuild staff are NOT in the business of removing content without good reason. There are posts still accessible from over a decade ago. Deleting the work the contributors to Expanding Horizons have put in, even if they have become inactive, lacks precedence on this site and merit in general. As such, deleting Expanding Horizons, as some people have intimated, is almost certainly off the table.
2. Related content. In the last two or so years, Expanding Horizons has accumulated a lot of related content that is designed to have interplay and accessibility to all of the players involved. Above, I've seen suggestions ranging from dumping everything into another subforum to merging everything into a super-thread. While both options are feasible, they likewise have drawbacks that ultimately end in confusion and disorganization relative to what the current Expanding Horizons user experience is (not that it is great, but it is at least fairly accessible). Some of the better options I've seen and support involve maintaining the intactness of Expanding Horizons by moving it to a less conspicuous location, perhaps as a sub-subforum of Casual Roleplay or just lower down on the page.
Please see my posts in the earlier thread as some of my other points remain relevant.