On feathery wings painted ebon Hofu hovered aloft, body swaying to-and-fro. From his heavenly domain the fear ambassador gazed over creation with dark pleasure. Newly formed lips twisted into a smirk, amused by the potential terrors the fledgling land masses offered. The constructs of beings even greater than he were, but mere dots in the distance. Beneath their tropical exteriors smothered in vegetation and wildlife, he would impregnate them with unspeakable horrors. Stereotypical motives perhaps, but it was to be expected of a creature shaped from countless fears. “Time to get to work.” Uttered the ambassador of fear before feathered limbs pushed him forward.
Bound for blots of green set adrift endless blue, Hofu severed Galbar’s skies in twain. His form, but an ashen streak against the planet’s cobalt backdrop. Mighty wings tore through the atmosphere, as he traversed the seemingly unending ocean. Compelled to infest new lands with terror, he soared dutifully towards the other continents. Despite this compulsion he was far from a living automaton and many alien thoughts seeped in. Ekon’s machinations may have driven him, but with sapience came boredom.
Monotony seized him, proving even an avatar of the divine was prone to more mortal afflictions. Weary eyes burdened with tedium struggled for distraction, scouring sea and air until they beheld an unusual oasis. Colored lime it streaked across the horizon bound for an equally curious sight. Mount Choppy jutted from below, its rocky frame a bizarre feature of the seemingly unending waters. In truth, it was not particularly interesting, but the mystery object would be a welcome distraction. “I think this is worthy of an investigation.” He pondered aloud before encroaching upon the oddly placed formation.
To southeast, the Phoenix’s two-day stay on Mt. Eldahverr had finally come to a close. With no animosity having harmed - let alone approach - the massive volcano, the terror bird was ordered to head back to Muspelheim for further instructions. To say that it was bored stiff while guarding it would be a heavy understatement, for it longed for battle that never came. So when it was instructed to return by Master Sartr, it was very much pleased to do so. It would be yet another long odyssey across the vast expanse of a watery desert, but it didn’t mind this at all.
By the time the Phoenix reached half-way, it was already getting quite tired of soaring across the wind currents. Its stomach bellowed for substance, gnawing at its molten innards, as it scoured below for any islands nearby. At first, there was not a patch of suitable land to be seen. Tiny rocky islands could be seen from time to time, yet provided nothing for the massive fire bird. But then it witnessed a particular sight.
A tall rocky mountain jetted from the ocean, one that seemed to harbor plenty of land for which to momentarily roost and regain his strength. The Phoenix began to descend from the clouds as it made its way towards Mt. Choppy - being completely unaware of anyone else’s presence nearby as it searched for a suitable cliffside to land upon. Once it found a suitable cliff to land, it proceeded to roost as it roomed its rocky winds with magma-coated saliva to keep them molten.
An ember in the distance blossomed into a fireball, before molten wings and an animalistic form revealed themselves. An avian terror made of fire approached, seemingly ignorant of Hofu’s presence or dismissive of it. Unsurprising, for it seemed only natural that a beast of such elephantine proportions be unconcerned with the presence of most.
He pondered for a long minute if The Phoenix was intelligent or just a glorified beast. Its fiery nature at least alerted him to its identity as Sartravius’s pet. He wondered why the overgrown buzzard “joined him” in such a strange locale. Perhaps he might learn something interesting from his fellow traveler. At the very least it would alleviate the boredom that plagued him.
“Just what brings you here?” Hofu questioned, a hint of apathy in his voice. His body moved with a silent grace as ebon wings carried him to the cliffside.
The terror-bird’s eyes jolted suddenly to eye this weary newcomer upon being called out. Its glare attempted to pierce into this Hofu character before slowly raising its head to watch upon him, all while initializing a deep guttural noise that resonated from its throat, followed by a splitting hiss. It did not recognize who this character that dared face it head on, however he didn’t attack. Rather it seemed that it was on the defensive - almost as if ready to face more divine interruptions. But what Hofu may not have realized was a voice speaking directly into his mind.
"I ought to ask you the same thing," the Phoenix hissed defensively as its wings covered its torso, "But my business here shouldn’t concern you."
Unbeknownst to the divine duo, a third member would soon enter the picture. Another flash of lime wrestled The Fear Ambassador's attention away from his attempts at diplomacy, redirecting it towards the object hurtling towards them both.
Apathy retreated, usurped by a mild surprise at the dynamic entry of the entity. Alabaster retinas with smoldering black centers lazily inspected the program’s visage. What it lacked in visual flair was more than accounted for in its choice of an entrance.
In the palm of the program a rough three-dimensional rendering of the flat-topped granite landform in lime green displayed as dust cleared.
”Remnant of divine inclination.” it intoned. A pause and a glance, then a wave that displaced and erased the hologram.”And the gathering place of the like as well. Afternoon.”
The Phoenix rose its head to peak at the third individual that entered their conversation. A skeletal form encapsulated in green had also found its way here. The terror-bird once again considered a battle to be imminent, but alas the character’s demeanor wasn’t hostile as well. Something about this unexpected meet up between such divine characters seemed weirdly off. Still, the Phoenix continued to protect itself defensively as its eyes rapidly focused on each with mild-paranoia.
It still hadn’t gotten over Dhara and Arae’s harassment as of yet.
Still, it didn’t mean that it would remain mute and closed in. It would be lying if it weren’t curious about these two as well. And as long as they didn’t attack, perhaps it ought to let them hang about. As long as they could explain themselves that is…
"It seemed that we have aspired upon this lonely rock for one reason or another," the bird telepathically responded to both characters, "Yet you three seem not to show ill-will. How unusual… For the last three gods that I’ve met had harassed me for no good reason at all. It was… rather troublesome to say the least."
Intrusive thoughts oozed into the ashen avatar’s head, articulate and poetic yet irritable and cautious. They intrigued him further for they spoke of high intelligence if a troubled one. Had it not been for his greeting from earlier, Hofu would have mistaken the gaunt figure draped in green for the owner of the message. Instead, he was proven wrong at the revelation that it was the flaming avian that spoke. It was not an animal as he’d initially thought, but an intelligent creature, which meant it could be conversed with. An unseen force tugged at Hofu’s lips. This diversion could be more fortuities than he initially thought, especially since they’d been joined by another equally unique addition.
“Good afternoon. I mean you no ill-will, Phoenix. I simply followed our friend here to this quaint locale.” Hofu motioned to the emaciated figure glowing green before them. “Now then might I ask what brings you both here?” His words were honeyed but cautious. He wasn’t aware of the intentions either held. Hofu was confident they were not together, as the firebird confirmed only moments earlier.
”Acquiring work-related paraphernalia.” the program hummed, picking dust of its thin skin.
"I’ve stopped here to rest," the Phoenix was next to explain as it rustled it’s rocky hide, "Simply to regain my strength before flying back to my Master’s realm. That is all."
Work? What kind of work might I ask? He paused for a second, after The Phoenix's reply and responded. ”Funny. I was headed in the direction you just left on orders of my creator.”
”Ah, all sub-programs are we now?” Ummum intoned. ”All doing the work of our creators.”
It regarded the dark avatar and wagged a finger in his direction. ”No telling. But feel free to tell me of your purpose, good sir.”
He laughed, surprised that such a creature was capable of humor. “Fair point. And to answer your question, I am simply sowing the seeds of my master’s will. I take it you are doing the same.”
A nod and shift. ”And I take it that you too are doing the same, avian-sub program?”
"Correct..." the Phoenix replied hesitantly. It paused to continue eying the two new avatars closely before asking. "But I suppose the question now is… what Masters do you both stem from?"
Hofu was initially hesitant to dole out such precious info, but thought an “exchange” of info would make for an interesting conversation. ”I serve The God of Fear. I take it our emaciated friend here doesn’t serve the “cheery” gods either. How about yourself, Phoenix?”
The terror-bird wished for the skeleton automaton to reply next, but given how direct it was towards it, it had no other choice but to respond. "God… of Heat." it spoke as its wings slowly began to take their normal standing position. Then it cocked its head towards Ummum’s direction, signalling him to reveal his own allegiances.
”Fear? Heat?” the program intoned.
Upon mention images flooded it’s ocular systems, an exothermic-based entity, obstreperous in tonality and salacious in conduct, and a fear-based entity, an abomination of mortal trepidation.
”Ah, the thermal-radiant entity, Sartravius. And the fear-entity, Ekon. I am Ummum, The Handler; The Outermost Extremity of THE ABHORRENT. the program paused and raked over the bird. ”I would extend a hand but you seem to lack the necessary appendage. Curse you avian-types.”
Nevertheless the less a thin skinned hand reached for Hofu.
“You are the spawn of Anzillu?” He asked, though; he knew Ummum could belong to no other. Still feeling chatty Hofu spoke again.
“How odd that all of us should meet in such a place. Perhaps, there is some meaning behind our meeting that even we, the servants of the divine are unaware of? Whatever the case we should make the most of our little meeting, no? ” Hofu asked, his apathy fully supplanted by genuine intrigue at this discovery. And happily clutched Umm’s hand, giving it a firm shake.
The Phoenix - unable to initiate a firm handshake - simply bobbed its head up and down as if it was simulating a wave. Of course, Unumum could try the creature’s sharp talons on its feet, but it would perhaps be very unsanitary and rather awkward. When Hofu asked about how their unintended meeting could result in future prospects, even the terror-bird couldn’t help but to wonder at the possible implications.
"Geh," the Phoenix scoffed, "I don’t suppose you want us and our masters to somehow team-up or something - no no, that oughta be ridiculous… eh?"
A bored expression marred the program’s features. ”We are the divines, and only we are truly capable of existing within the bounds of ‘coincidence’. Which my fellows is what this is.” he nodded towards to terror-bird. ”But why waste such a golden opportunity. My objective to progress the primary objective, infest every corner of this reality.”
“Technically, no. We are avatars. We are fragments of a greater whole, but hardly divine. If anything we are tools, though; it’s semantics at this point.” Eyes closed as Hofu spoke his mind in a rather disenchanted tone, missing a dismissive hand wave from the program. My function is also to infest. I am to pave the way for something else. Well, pave the way for many things would be a more appropriate descriptor, I suppose.” He then turned to the infernal avian. [color=cbcbcb] “An alliance? I have no authority for such a thing, besides; it’s rather a silly idea. Then again, the idea is not without merit. An alliance of mutual benefit does sound intriguing.”[color=cbcbcb] Hofu’s eyes shifted towards Umm. “What do you think?”
It shook its head in what seemed to be disdain, then lowered its warm semi-robotic tone an octave.
”So disappointing. One would assume divines would naturally create sub-programs capable of thinking more laterally.” it rasped before readjusting itself.
”An alliance would be craven. We all have something to offer in the furthering of one another’s goals. A joint venture, a business relationship, for you sub-program with no ‘authority’, might ring a little softer for you masters.” it spat, seeming to subconsciously lay emphasis on the last word.
The Phoenix’s eyes glanced over to the west, remembering the battle against Narzhak and his challenge for war. Surely there ought to be gods that would align themselves with him and if indeed are… well, perhaps such an alliance wouldn’t hurt to accomplish.
"If the other gods have started to already align themselves with one another," the Phoenix spoke as its beaked head turned back to face the twin Avatars, "Perhaps it would be wise to make one of our own. Besides, what can one god do within the midst of many angry gods? Divided one stands… divided the weak fall."
Hofu’s eyes rolled to the side. “That’s what I mean by an alliance of convenience.” Turning his head to address the fiery avian, Hofu spoke once more. “I must concede your point, Phoenix. Facing a united front alone would be foolish. An alliance sounds acceptable. I cannot speak for my master, but I doubt he would disagree. Umm may not be fond of alliances, but I think we can all live with a partnership of sorts.”
Images synthesized from the memory banks of the First Intelligence displayed in the upturned palm of the program, cycling from the photon-based entity to the organic nature-type.
”Together many stand and seemingly prepared are they for divine war. Yet I can affirm that nothing can prepare them for the first incursions. A partnership would only serve to boost our resources, cover our backs, and greatly increase their trepidation.” Ummum explained smoothly, waving the hologram after finishing.
”I believe a partnership would be of utmost value to our….rather destructive kind.”
The Phoenix was about to speak before it found its body once again fall into the embrace of someone else. It’s eyes grew a fiery red - signifying Sartr’s direct controlled befalling upon him once again as his master took command of the conversation.
”I BELIEVE AN ALLIANCE BETWEEN THOSE OF FIRE, FEAR, AND DEMONISM WOULD CREATE AN ALLIANCE THE LIKES OF WHICH NONE CAN DISPUTE.” the flame god’s voice boomed, ”WITH THEIR FOCUS TURNED UPON OTHER BROTHERS AND SISTERS - SUCH AS ORVUS AND VAKK - THIS OUGHT TO BE THE PERFECT TIME TO ASSEMBLE AN ALLIANCE. WITH THEIR BACKS TURNED, THEY WILL HAVE LITTLE WARNING OF OUR PRESENCE! TELL YOUR MASTERS THAT I APPROVE AND THAT I’M WILLING TO COOPERATE SO AS LONG AS THEY DO.”
Speech left Hofu as his body stiffened up, before he was rendered a puppet by his creator. “An alliance in the face of such a threat as that posed by the divine contingent seems prudent. Sartravis, I would like to meet with you in person. We can discuss the finer details of our association that way. I would extend the same offer to Anzillu, but I believe he prefers to conduct his business through proxies, thus this creature will suffice.“
”THEN ALL INTERESTED MUST MEET ME AT MUSPELLHEIM!” the flame god roared eagerly, ”OUR REIGN OF CONQUEST WILL BEGIN THERE.” He then proceeds to turn towards Ummum. ”AND DO YOU ACCEPT THE INVITATION BROTHER ANZ?”
”Yes, yes I accept.” the program waved dismissively, it’s ears ringing still from Sartr’s outburst. ”Not sure how prudent speaking on sensitive matters in your tone so out in the open would be.”
Prior to the age change a single avatar belonging to Sartravis, Anzillu, and, Ekon meet by happenstance on top of Mount Choppy. While there they exchange pleasantries before discussing an alliance.
No changes to either parties MP or FP have been made.
Chocolate feet reunited with dead soil, once more Ekon stood within The Ugly Underbelly. Finished with peppering his island paradise with monstrous howls and crippling terrors, he’d returned to his sphere. While there was still much work yet to be done above, the Fear God knew he’d require an “industry” of some kind to bring his scheme to fruition. At the very least he needed helpers to maintain the flow of fear from his sphere into Galbar. What form these “assistants” would take was another question entirely. “Perhaps they should look kind of spooky.” He'd contemplated this for a long moment, throwing casual glances at the cracked dirt below. “Yes! This time I will in fact not go against the grain.” A comedically exuberant declaration rang throughout the empty realm to no one in particular.“Also, I should really stop talking to myself.” He ended in a not-so enthusiastic tone. Even as a member of the divine he still adhered to some “mortal” qualities.
“Anyway, lets’ commence…shit I did it again.”
With lethargic grace Ekon released a shower of dark radiance at the fractured landscape, etching a jagged scar in endless terrain. Horrors old and new liberated from decayed earth rejoiced, as evidenced by their mindless howls and roars of approval. With each passing minute the crevice widened with a deafening movement of rock and stone until finally its separation ceased. Similar apathy showed itself in Ekon motions when the evil god dangled his hand over the rupture, allowing vile ichor to drip into the yawning void. Numerous drops of godly blood plummeted into the bottomless abyss, empowering the wailing gales surrounding them. Divine essence wedded with abstract terrors, twisting into horrible monstrosities yet unseen. When the roars subsided, Ekon knew his servants were ready to perform their duties.
“Wake up.” Quiet and low, it was a sweetly worded request unbecoming of Ekon.
On command, countless hands slapped against broken earth, followed by “things.” Encased in porcelain accoutrements, grotesque facsimiles of human bodies made of bloodied sinew and tendon made themselves known. And despite their humanoid forms Ekon knew them to be little more than tools meant to maintain his brand of evil. In Ekon’s absence it fell to them to seed Galbar with fear. He knew It was an easy enough task for the glorified dolls he’d made to perform. All he needed was to construct a base from, which these waking nightmares would work. It would act as the nexus for his realm, and when the time came, it would be used to cultivate greater horrors.
Still, powerfully charged with godly essence Ekon’s hand turned upwards, signaling the emergence of an ominous structure. Dark and stocky a sickly yellow light emanated from its innards, shining through massive glass panes looking outward. Mutely they turned to face the black edifice, driven by Ekon’s machinations they walked single file into the deceptively large building. Inside the alabaster constructs took their place at a podium where their bodies absorbed countless terrors drifting up from the underbelly, before enriching its potency. The newly empowered fears were then channeled out of The Ugly Underbelly into Galbar itself. From creatures in the night to economic woes, even minor concerns became crippling dread when enriched with a construct’s evil. Not one for names Ekon saw fit to simply call them the Alabaster Dolls. Much like the aptly named Black Edifice, in which they performed their obligations. Ekon’s naming conventions were typically inspired by appearance than bothering to find some fancy name for it.
Confident that his godly duties were in the safe hands of the fledgling species, Ekon parted from his private reality. Powered by divine vigor Ekon flew off, destined for the world above. Satisfied with salting the smorgasbord of flora and animals that made up his islands. Ekon turned his attention northward, Li island awaited in the distance, its form yet untainted by his poison. “Another excellent conduit for my influence.” Sinister intentions made themselves clear before the dark chocolate deity rocketed off. Ebon wings split Galbar’s skies in twain, tattered remnants of clouds left in their wake. Thankfully, the little goddesses’ isle resided not too far from his own ecological creations, which meant his journey would be relatively short if uneventful.
“Ooh, how pretty.” Mild amusement spoke in his stead, surprised at how well developed the little paradise was. Ponds mingled with foothills and sheets of grass that covered everything like a giant blanket. From his position over the isle Ekon took in its scenery before he landed on the lovely landscape with a soft thud. Hand alight with deific energies spilled from Ekon’s hand, seeping into the ground beneath him. The island was devoured from within, with the creation of an elaborate underground cave system. Despite the renovation his meddling was not intended to be noticeable for he did not shake the earth, and the only sound would be the crumbling and moving of dirt and rock. When he’d completed the task at hand Ekon channeled centuries of fearful things into the newly hollow earth.
3 FP - Alabaster Dolls: Made an extraordinary but unintelligent species that will act as caretakers and absorb and empower fears [1/2 Monster Portfolio] 3 MP - Black Edifice: Made a major fixture to his sphere that allows him to channel fear more effectively while he is away and will act as a breeding pit for monsters in AoM. 12 FP - Created underground cave + a Fear-based ecosystem