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3 yrs ago
Current "Soon you will have forgotten all things. And soon all things will have forgotten you."
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also featuring Hermes
the day of Zeus' death

"Armageddon. I repeat, armageddon. Alpha omega emergency registered. Anomalous exhibitions reported. One two defender." Herakles' gruff voice came in over Athena's auritacticom. The eyes of the goddess fluttered open. She was reclined on her back in an internally sealed vat chamber, filled with a carmine fluid which she alone knew to be made up of, among other things, GUIN devices, the biological remnants of her failed siblings, and a complex formula of bio-enhancers and bio-stimulants that she had personally formulated and refined over the decades.

"Eskhatos," she spoke softly, "activate paraphernalia recovery procedures. Initiate one two hawk measures." She activated the vat drainage system and lay there as the liquid slowly drained away. A combination of water, steam, and fragranced floral waters swiftly cleansed her deceptively nubile form and after a few seconds the nanocomposite glass seal melded away so that the goddess was able to sit up.

"Armageddon proton controls in place." Herakles' voice came in over the auritacticom, and the goddess rose from her place. Her form was perfectly dry from the steam and she could have immediately dressed, but she enjoyed the coolness of the air against her skin and the sheer power of her biological form, bereft of all technological support systems. The future would be carved from flesh. She paused before a mirror and surveyed herself. Long velvet hair that draped down to her hips, startling grey eyes that seemed capable of descrying the most closely guarded secrets in the depths of one's heart. Even she shivered under her icy gazy and felt suddenly exposed - but by no means vulnerable. Her form had the appearance of a young woman not older than twenty-five, neither too tall nor too short but perfectly constituted. She was of that unique kind who never seemed shorter than any who stood by her, no matter how greatly they in fact outmatched her in height. Her skin was healthily bronzed, as the skin of any warrioress should be, and yet her form was not overly muscled, in line with the softness desired of virginal maidens among the great majority of the Hellas civilisations, and did not betray any sign of her illogical strength. One who looked on her might even have thought her weak. But her form, already augmented when her father first created her, had been in a constant state of evolution from the day she came to grips with Project METIS. Her bones were not as the bones of the mortals who pranced about the earth- not even like many of the biotechnologically unengineered gods and demigods of Olympus. Her skin was not like theirs, her vision, her hearing, the formation and workings of her musculature; she was in every way the transition towards the posthuman. This was her project, her vision; it was the very overcoming of man, as one Arithian philosopher called to. She lifted her head high and gazed directly into those piercing grey eyes. Aye; humanity was something that had to be overcome, and machines were not that overcoming.

That was her father's vision too. That was the reason he had created her and her brother. He knew the ultimate limitations of his kind and sought to overcome it in his own way. She turned away from the mirror and signalled. It was the most subtle signal, but immediately two perfect lookalikes of the goddess stepped forth and began dressing her. It was not, in fact, the gesture that had moved them, but rather a silent command through the aurathenacom, a nanodevice subtly inserted into her other ear and which allowed her to communicate with a host of clones across Olympus and Hellas. It was no secret that not a single temple of Athena was ever bereft of the goddess' presence - a very physical presence. It allowed her a direct insight into the goings-on down below, and was most useful in identifying worthy mortals to initiate into the ranks of the Sacred Band. It was unfortunately impossible, given the current stage of her research, to initiate short-term memory transfer over long distances, but she had made it a habit to regularly summon her clones to Olympus for such memory transfers. If left too long not all memories could be successfully harvested, but she had over an extended period of experimentation identified one month to be the optimal timespan for successful and complete transfers. Shorter periods were also possible, though they sometimes resulted in the duplication of memories, which tended to create short-term confusion. Concern over this had, however, spurred her to reinforce her mind against the more acute effects of any kind of mental degeneration. It would not do for the goddess of wisdom and knowledge and philosophy to descend into madness. It would be a most shameful demise.

As her two clones dressed her, her mind wandered once more to Zeus and she allowed herself to truly comprehend what Herakles had relayed. The Alpha had at last come to his Omega. Her jaw tightened. It was not something she had been unready for- nay, her very creation had been his way of preparing for it. She was his preparation for it; she and her brother. Her eyes hardened and she breathed. If tears had been growing in those icy pools, they knew then to freeze and retreat. She allowed her gaze to drift across the hundreds of vats containing the biological remnants of all her failed siblings - the biological remnants, more importantly, of Zeus. Whoever had slain her father would be found, of course, she would never rest until it was so; in all cases the assassination was a failure. Zeus lived in her; Zeus lived in her brother; Zeus was eternal in all the flesh he had left behind - and flesh, blood, that was the future.

She turned to the clone on her right hand and cupped her cheek. "Mind my place while I am gone." She ordered gently, and the clone nodded obediently. Perhaps that was the cardinal way in which she differed from her father: she was of the content sort, happy in the station fate had afforded her and never looking upward with hungering eyes. When all sought to be the paragons of that station which fate had afforded them, life became a great harmony. When that was not true...

Her eyes drifted over Olympus as she ascended into the heavens atop her chariot. She gave a quick command, and her IRIS system deactivated hide mode; one never knew when they would very suddenly rue that they were not locatable. She looked again at the Olympus as it grew farther and farther away. When that was not true...

She had for long favoured the city state of Ealia, and so it had prospered and gloried for more than a hundred years. Undefeated on the fields of glory, unmatched in splendour, peerless on the waves. But mortalkind had a way to earn divine wrath, had a way of not exemplifying the glorious harmony her wisdom called them to. And so Athena’s vengeance was swift. There was only so much depravity and debauchery she could tolerate before the cleansing wave of blades and the rushing forth of hard-eyed folks from the forests or the mountains or the plains were permitted to be loosed.
And even as the goddess came to a halt in their skies, the people of Ealia raised their hands heavenward, called on the star ablaze in the heart of day above; they called on ATHENA POLIOUKHOS to save them. But they called on nothing; she was not there, only ATHENA AXIOPOINOS saw and heard. Her gaze was the steel of the wildmen who overran Ealia, and she disdained all they cried and all they promised. “Our favour you had, our strength and will, but my due right denied me. My favour is gone, my voice is now shrill, who have you now beside me?” Her voice was a song in the heavens, as the sad and angered rumble of thunder.

There was an exaggerated crack, and high above the battlefield where Athena rested a pair of six, shimmering, light-dappled wings unfolded from thin air. They pulled back to reveal Hermes, Herald of the gods, drifting in the air freely even as his motionless wings pulled back and away from his form. Adorned in his distinctive wide-brimmed helmet and bearing the twinned-serpent stave Kerykeion in one hand, he arrived within a penumbra of resplendent light. Despite the grandiose phenomenon of his appearance, the cries from below did not change - no mortal eye seemed capable of laying gaze upon the messenger of the gods in that moment, despite his proximity to Athena in her splendor and wroth.

“I come bearing a message for Pallas Athena, Maiden Goddess of Warfare,” Hermes intoned, “from Zeus, King of the Gods and the Heavens, the All-Father on-high, with the utmost of exigency.”

The goddess looked towards the newly arrived god and nodded in acknowledgment. “Well-met, Khrysorrhapis Hermes, Herald of the Gods and Orator of Olympus.” She passed her hand over the surface of her chariot, and a drachma emerged from a subtly placed slot. She knew it was for more than the Herald received from any other, but she had inherited the magnanimity of the king of the gods. She tossed it casually to the messenger god, and he caught it in his one free hand. With a flick of his wrist, the coin was replaced instead by a sheaf of black parchment inscribed with gold filigree. A holographic display of the letter’s contents appeared in the air between them as he read its contents aloud.


The Highest, King of the Gods, Father of All:

Let it be known that Zeus is dead. His rightful Heir – forever may he rule – has succeeded him to the divine name and mantle of Zeus.

Athena, First Maiden of the Sacred Band of Olympus, is formally invited to a gathering of the High Pantheon at Zeus’ palace in Mount Olympus, on the noon of the day following receipt of this note. Zeus will accept oaths of fealty, and make the first announcements of his reign.

Signed, Zelos
Majordomo of the Highest Palace, Servant of Zeus Almighty

“...and he also bade me to verbally inform you that you are hereby summoned to attend him at the stated place and time.” Hermes concluded in a perfunctory tone. The goddess’ eyes remained fixed on the messenger expectantly. When he said no more, she raised an eyebrow.

“Not the most humorous of your jokes, brother.” She said with a thin smile. “Though appreciated at this of all times. It was difficult to finally bring myself to smite Ealia.” She looked down at the city, not a hair or nerve indicating the subtly executed deception. It was the right order of things that the Herald bring news, and it was the right order of things that all respond to such news with the surprise or disbelief or shock it was intended to induce. In this manner the messenger knew his role was fulfilled - and, more so, was made certain of the importance and continuing relevance of his role. It contributed to the great harmony Athena so desired on Olympus.

Hermes snorted. “Oh it certainly is a joke. Zeus is absolutely dead all the same. If you remain reticent in your smiting, I can endeavor to amuse you further with choice witticisms concerning the poor state of his ruined corpse, so blighted that the eyes would be cursed to bear witness to it.”

With furrowed brows, the goddess turned her chariot about and punched a code into the central command deckframe. “Herakles, what’s this I'm hearing about fath-” she paused and listened, jaw tightening. “Couldn’t reach me?” She spat, but said no more as she cut the line. She glanced at Hermes. “Forgive me my disbelief, Herald. I must go.”

“So soon? And I had only just mentioned in passing how depraved his murder was.” Hermes made a gesture of feigned, amicable exasperation, throwing his free arm against the brow of his helm. Athena’s pale grey eyes were immediately as ice, boring into the messenger god.

“Do you mock, brother?” She spoke low.

“Not at all, though granted, the first and thus far only order his renewed highness has seen fit to issue has been to me, to issue his summons.” Hermes practically chattered, waving his hand idly in the air. “He has not even contacted Apate yet… or you. I wonder why. Inquiring minds would like to know, but somehow I think you do not need to be a Deity of Wisdom to divine that mockery is afoot.”

Cocking her head to the side and raising an eyebrow at the other god, the goddess gave a thoughtful hum but made no response as her chariot thrummed with silent power. She hung in the air for a few still seconds then exploded past Hermes and sped away like a shooting star.

“Some people just cannot take a joke.” Hermes pouted to nobody in particular. Without any of the accompanying fanfare or theatrics he had arrived with, his form then bled out of the sky like water dribbling through sand.

He had no sooner disappeared when Athena, already a speck on the horizon, glanced backwards and sighed. She had long endeavoured to understand Hermes, but he had never quite been comfortable enough around her to drop the jovial charade. It only quickened within her the certainty that he was hiding something. It was not aided by her father's invariable wariness of the messenger. He had of course made certain to explain the entire affair to her - the treason, the confiscation of the true Kerykeion, the leash on which the Herald was constantly kept. A leashed man was difficult to trust - but could his loyalty be assured simply through unleashing him? Gratitude was such a thing among mortals, she had observed, and it also was not. A small verbal command from her brought up her helm's special issue security interface and swiftly disabled all IRIS connectivity.

Her return to Olympus was a silent affair under the cover of night. When she arrived in at the laboratory, the Zeus extracts had already been deposited by her clone and she swiftly got to readying it for invatification. "Sophia," the goddess spoke even as she worked. The clone was immediately at her side. "My lady," Sophia spoke softly. The goddess did not look up, but continued, "ready yourself for the morrow. Attend to my brother and be my eyes. Speak little and only as necessary, for silence is the sanctuary of prudence. Be our brother's arm, for if he does not have us then he has none." She allowed herself a glance into the grey eyes of her clone. "Clear?" She asked. The clone nodded slowly. "Yes, my lady." And with that, the clone codenamed Sophia turned away and got to readying herself for the morrow.

Athena watched as the fleshly remnants of Zeus were slowly inserted into the vat chamber. She would know the cause of death. And if she could not, then the very flesh would be made to speak its plight. Her lips tightened and her eyes grey hard and wide as she gazed at the floating mass. Yes, the reconstitution of the dead was not beyond her, not beyond her at all. Let it take as long as it will; if tireless investigation and research did not reveal the culprit, then the very mind of Zeus would speak it. Aye, she nodded to herself, she was capable of such things. She had to be.
In Divinus VII 20 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
CyKhollab productions presents:

Burn in the Rain and Don’t Get Wet

Huddled in a hollowed out lava tube, safe from the flash of lightning and crack of thunder, sat a little flameling of a porry by her mother. She was Bright-Eye, and she was brave. Oh, she was very brave – so very brave that she dared to venture near the entrance where the occasional gale blew in the painful raindrops. The other porries looked at her like she was mad; why would any sane porry stand so near to the wind and rain and risk their headlight being extinguished? Her mother snapped at her for what must have been the tenth time, telling her to step away from the entranceway. But brave Bright-Eye was not listening anymore. She had listened at first, but now she only thought that they were the mad ones; why would anyone be so worried about death when there were so many great and new things to see, to marvel in, to wonder at…

A great lightning bolt streaked across the sky outside, and in the distance she could just barely see the beach and the sea. Even from so far away, she could see the mighty waves crashing and flailing. “Woaaah,” she breathed, and then before she knew it, she’d searched along the cave’s ground and found a big, flat, grey stone. It was a little bit damp already, but it’d do. Holding it right above her head, she ran out of the lava tube and into the rain. The cries of her mother and all the others disappeared behind her, and the world was full of thunder and her laughter. She hurried through the rain, eyes wide, heart racing, flame flickering and flaring, hither thither blowing in the wind and fizzling as the stray rain drops sizzled against her feverish form.

Her little feet pitter-pattered with the rain against the stone and sand of the beach, and she ran and whooped and twisted and twirled, heart hammering as it had never done before. The rain was wonderful! The whistling of the wind was elating! The crashing of the waves was awe-inspiring! She stood at last, eyes against the overcast skies, ears perked and nose flared, a joyfully silly smile plastered across her face. This was what everything was about!

“This is what everything’s about!” A voice reverberated across the heavens, and her face fell in startled wonder as a great form spun across her vision - he moved like the wind, he spun like the storm, he leapt like the flame! And he came to a bright-eyed stop before the little girl, his eyes glowing amber in the darkness. “Isn’t it, my wonderful wandering darling?” And despite how strange it all was, despite the profusely bleeding creature in the storm-man’s mouth and the baby in his left hand and the glinting implement in his right, Bright-Eye could only half-giggle in barely-restrained excitement and stare at the being in the storm.

The rock was swept from her hands and she was exposed very suddenly to the elements. The rain fizzled and screeched against her form, and she winced in pain and flinched back. But the hand of the storm man - gods! He had three arms! Four! - was on hers and there was no pain and no fear anymore, only broad-eyed awe. She was one with the storm, her flame spinning for many hand spans and many feet behind her like a tempestuous fire within the storm of wind. The rain did not reach her, her heat was too great, and the wind seemed to sweep her only to greater heat and life. The hand of the storm was upon hers, spinning and twisting and laughing and crying. And her voice was mixed with his, her heartbeats jumped with his, her eyes grew wide and bright as his. She leapt on the liquid air, she jumped from raindrop to raindrop, her voice echoed in the heavens - she was the thunder, her eyes the crackling lightning bolt!

Her body flared, so hot was she that her flame became white, and so much hotter did she become that before the eyes of the man in the storm her flame became blue, then violet, then darkened. So great was the heat, so absurd the flame, that not even the light shining forth from the god could pass through her. Hers was a flame as black as the inky nothingness between stars and so hot that even the god’s skin singed and the blood of his eternally bleeding elf sizzled away in a red vapour. Her flame had beheld wonder and had become glorious and unquenchable. She no more feared the rain!- the rain now feared her! She took heed of the storm and wind no longer!- they took heed of her! She had no need for eating now, her flame was eternal, absolute!- all her years would be given to wonder, all her time would be granted to seeing, all her heart would be given to beating, hammering, roaring, bursting! Aye, now at last she would live- truly live!

Bright-Eye tore through the storm, swept away from the grinning god in the storm, the god with amber eyes and glinting sword, and she returned to her people all black and mighty and oh so very very bright-eyed. She laughed at their awe, she grinned at their curiosity, she gloated as they fell in worship before her. She did not cease from telling them of the god she had beheld, did not think it unwise to speak all her bright bright eyes had seen. “This I was granted for my boldness! Now my heart beats as never before! Now my flame is immortal! Now I don’t fear the cold or the storm! Now I only wonder - I have the divine Tama flame, I have the divine Tama flame, I have aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the divine Tama flame!” She crowed and rejoiced and gloated as she tip-tapped and floated and burst about the tunnel where everyone else was hiding away.

The storm passed and Bright-Eye’s clan bore patiently her endless gloating. They sailed out to sea and bore patiently her fearless swimming and jumping into the water. She did not help much, but in all ways pursued her pleasure. “Tama! Tama!” They would cry out - for that was what they called her now - “catch us a fish Tama, catch us the biggest fish there is!” But Tama only laughed and cooed, she had no need for fish and food, she had no mortal needs at all!

When she shot up into the island’s air - so mighty was her thick black flame, so far beyond their power was she - they called up to her, “Tama! Oh Tama! Catch us a bird Tama, catch us the biggest bird there is!” But Tama only laughed and cooed, prancing with the birds above and never hunting them, not one. She had no need for birds and food, she had no mortal needs at all!

When storms came and the clan was huddled in the tunnel, she did not huddle there with them but skipped and laughed and played without pause. “Tama! Oh Tama!” They cried from their cave, “bring us rocks, brings us earth, let us play with you too.” But Tama only laughed and cooed, prancing free in the wind and rain. She had no need for rocks and earth, these sights alone made her heart leap - no, she had no mortal needs at all.

“Forget about Tama,” Sizzle-Tongue spoke, “she will not listen to aught we say. She has no need for any of us now, she has no mortal needs at all!” And some despaired at this declaration, and others thought it terrible and bad, and they grew angry at Tama and blamed her for all their hardships and woes. “Oh if only Tama could feel our pain.” Some would moan. “Surely then she would not be so selfish. Surely then she would share her flame with all. Oh if only she knew the terror of the storm, if only she knew how terrible lightning, how frightening thunder, how deathly rain, surely then she would feel our pain.” And there were rumbles of agreement, and there was anger towards Tama.

“Well then let us catch her and throw her down, let us take the flame from her!” One bold and bright-eyed porry declared - and his name was Flame-Heart. There were cries of shock and grunts of assent, and in their hearts they were all agreed. Yes, they would catch Tama Bright-Eye and take the flame from her. Then she would know their pain.

They stalked her when the sun was high. She thought it a funny game. “Come Tama! Come Tama!” They cried to her. “Come down and let us play with you.” They called affectedly. But Tama thought it more fun to twist and taunt and stay just out of reach. Round and round the isle they chased, through the trees and across the beach. Up the mount she flitted at speed, passing over the strange gray stranger that they had emerged from their tunnels one day to find up there, sitting in silent meditation. One day it was not, and then it was, that odd metal thing, unmoving and unmoved. Tama flew about its head and laughed - aye, for it looked like a gray porry, a cold porry with no headlight. And all around the metal porry’s place on the summit her clan chased her. Oh what fun Tama was having, oh how joyous to lead the clan hither thither as she pleased, up and down the mount, across the beach and into the forests and back again and again. But ah, ‘twas not to last- for as she was busy taunting (as she had done so many times before) sharp-eyed Flame-Heart leapt forth suddenly and caught her by the leg.

“Aha, Tama! I have caught you!” He cried triumphantly.

“Oh Flame-Heart!” She laughed. “So you have!” And she made to release herself from his grip, but his hand held tight and his eyes were hard crystals in the flame.

“You have not been good to us, Tama. You have been selfish and bad. You have not shared the divine flame- you have not helped us at all.” He spoke sadly as all the others gathered around her.

“What do you mean, Flame-Heart? I have been having fun - you all never wanted to have fun! Only I wanted it, and that’s why I was given the Tama. The Tama is not for hunting and work! The Tama is not for hiding away in fear! The Tama is for the brave and the bold and the joyous and the living!” She struggled, but the hands of the others were upon her now.

“We too want to be brave and bold and joyous and living, Tama. We too want that!” Flame-Heart declared, and the others roared in agreement even as the first hungering lips fell on her form and began to drink in her flame. She cried out in protest, she kicked and twisted and turned, but they supped on her flame for hours - its darkness turned to violet, its violet turned to blue, its blue became white, and then at last even that white became yellow and orange and even after that became a dull and flickering red. “Now we have the tama!” They cried out when she was spent. “We have the tama! We have the tama!” They sang and laughed and danced about her weak form, and then they left her there and went leaping and prancing about the isle.

They forgot all about Bright-Eye - she had forgotten them too when she had the divine flame. And when the storm came again they all rushed - as they by instinct knew to do - back into their tunnels and stared out into the rain. Some thought, in their hearts, that they had the tama now, that they could brave the storm. They thought it strongly, their eyes hanging on the world outside. But not one of them stepped forth, no, not one. “But…” one of them murmured, “where is Bright-Eye?” And none saw Bright-Eye, for Bright-Eye was not there. They thought they heard laughter in the storm, thought they heard the pitter-pattering of feet, thought they saw a black-flame dash across the dark heavens. That is what they thought; when next they walked where they had left Bright-Eye they found only scorched remnants and fading footprints that disappeared into the sea.

Oh, they knew it then, they knew it well. The tama was gone! “The tama is gone!” They cried out in horror and fear. “It’s gone!” They ran in circles and slapped their own faces and tore at their burning scalps.

“No! No!” Flame-Heart shouted, silencing them all. “Not gone, not gone at all. It’s here, all here, in us.” And their eyes widened in realisation - and some backed away in fear while others stepped forth, eyes glinting with dark intent. “No!” The cowardly cried out en masse as they turned tail and ran. “You can’t!” They cried.

But oh, they could. They most certainly could.

In Divinus VII 21 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
CyKhollab production presents:

Pester a Metal Hunk and Call it Wisdom

Onward, ever onward, marched justice’s godly incarnation. Having fully crossed the great mountain range after his brief return to the desert and encounter with the spirits of Conquest and Wonder (though he still thought the latter to be more emblematic of some queer breed of madness), the spirit now followed the rising sun. His going was quick and his path and pace both devoid of any deviation. He kept vigil for signs of other spirits that he might arrest them in their goings long enough to hear their commandments, but in those early days the world was in disorder and the other spirits were scattered all about such that he chanced upon none. Indeed, though life had begun to flourish and spread, even it seemed somewhat sparse.

At one point the metalclad giant’s going was disrupted by the sight of a bird sitting upon a tree’s branch. This, the spirit suspected, was a great crime against nature and an affront to whatever spirit had conjured the creature into existence. Its place was clearly in the sky, with those wings, so why did it rebel against its lot and dwell in a tree among squirrels? Justice was a complex matter at times – what was one to do in the face of these crimes? First the spirit considered smiting the bird, but he looked about and perceived a thousand similar villains in the vicinity. Then he contemplated enchanting that tree with the desire to execute any such bird that would trespass upon it, or to curse all fowl to wither and die were they to desert their posts in the stratospheric plane.

It was the Wonder spirit, who (for some reason unbeknownst certainly to the Divine Enforcer and most probably even himself) had been clinging onto Justice’s massive helmet and riding along all this time, that persuaded Justice otherwise and spared all the world’s avian creatures from being condemned to fly forevermore.

“Wherefore smite them, noble justice, when they so prettily prance about the treeline, vibrating so artfully and singing so soulfully?” Wonder asked, now sitting and now standing on the metal god’s helm, bleeding elf yet in his mouth and splashing blood prodigiously on his chest and on the armoured god beneath him. “And behold, did not conquest herself, imperious and of haughty eye, winged as she was still descend down to the lowly earth and set her feet firmly on sand? Were it justice to smite her? Were it justice to declare: thou who art granted wings, oh ingrate! What hath brought you to earth! Such crimes are paid for in death! Had it been justice to strike her then and end her? Nay, I think not! Aye, they are winged these avians of the trees, but behold they have feet also! Wherefore have they legs and feet and talons if ‘twere not their lot to descend to earth? Hold thine fist, noble justice! These are not yet the critters for your smiting! Set your unseen eyes on the horizon: beyond that line may we behold the beings made for divine chastening and just destruction!”

Wonder argued well and with reasoning that seemed soundly enough, so the other spirit had merely given an affirming nod in response, so slight that it seemed as if his helmet had just tilted like a branch in the breeze. But of course, Justice was no tree, and no wind could ever faze his dauntless posture.

Without much further in the way of incidents worth recounting, the unlikely duo went ever further east until at last they came upon that place where the ground’s gradual downward slope finally terminated in a dreary shore: the end of the world, or so the justice-spirit might have thought. Yet already seaweed had grown and died and been washed ashore, and in the distance, he could faintly perceive a dark gray haze. Finally, the god stopped his tireless march to stand still and briefly reflect upon these sights.

Some other spirit had clearly left its touch here, and something was out there. With determination, he set out to discover the spirit that inevitably waited yonder! As he waded straight into the water, the tall metallic giant found himself in water so deep that it came to his breastplate. A particularly large wave rolled forward, but the top of its surf only threw its froth upon his greaves; the god’s armor had warped and groaned in protest, but ultimately stretched to accommodate his unyielding will. Metal did not float, after all, so he would never be swimming. The thought of trudging along on the dark bottom of the sea similarly seemed foolish if he could just splash through.

He went further out, stepping off a great ledge into waters that were suddenly much deeper – but now the sea merely came up to the tassets of his plated armor. He’d made himself so colossal that he was like a gigantic, walking gray tower. He could see burning islands way out there, on the horizon. Still, the water grew ever deeper, and he was nowhere even near the islands. It looked like he’d have to go underwater, so with a sigh, he just kept marching onward until the waves passed even above the crown of his helmet. Deep waters, indeed! Wonder would have to learn to swim or grow used to breathing water if he intended to make it to the fires on the other side, but Justice still was not especially concerned with Wonder, even if he now thought the being was at least passable as a proper spirit, if not entirely worthy of his station and the sacred charge vested unto him.

“You’re getting me all wet! What’s the point of you if I get wet!” Wonder cried out in protest as his feet descended beneath the waves. “I’ll show you something wondrous! Behold!” and so saying, he raised the Son-o’-Falyn in one hand and the Sword of Wonder in the other so that the waters caved in before them and a wave rose to their left and another to their right and the seafloor manifested before them. “Am I not the wonder of the world? Am I not the very splitter of the seas? He has beheld, he has conquered, and now he has sundered and cloven! Do you behold me, noble justice? Ah, but how stupid that I ask - you are yet blind!”

And though Wonder’s words were truer than he ever could know, even the blind spirit of justice could sense some things. “I do sense the water yielding to your whim and parting for our passage,” the statue rumbled, ever serious, “but is water meant to do that? Have you the authority to incite it into such an odd state?”

Wonder scoffed. “Have I the authority? Brother justice, I am the wonder of the world! I have every authority to cause the wondrous, the marvelous, the improbable and implausible, the very impossible, to occur! All the dreams and imaginings, all the impossible hopes and nightmares that flit across the minds and souls of creation: I am that! Look on this sea: it daily dreams to kiss the sky, it wonders and beholds, it sighs and cries and flings itself thus. I have caused its wondering dreams to erupt before us. I have every authority; I am the self-creator of my authority. How so, you ask? Hah! By so doing, noble justice, that’s how!”

Justice still couldn’t understand Wonder and suspected it to be a most useless aspect. Well, at least in this moment it was proving to be of some marginal benefit. If Wonder was not some state of madness, perhaps it was a means of travel? One day, he would understand, the spirit promised to himself. “The Steward did say that the other spirits could make up these laws, so I suppose that I need not punish you if you make your deeds legal as you do them.”

Wonder raised an eyebrow, pursed his lips, then smiled. “Well, of course everything I do is legal. You should’ve known that! Do I strike you as some lowly criminal?” He looked down at the colossal metal god and the blood of the elf splashed down like a waterfall on him. “I think not!”

In what seemed like a very short walk, the titanic armored spirit and his passenger neared the first of many volcanic islands. All around were little mortals that had come to behold the wonder and madness and terror of a sea that parted to permit the passage of a strange gray giant and a funny little creature atop his head, though the spirit’s helmeted head was not the head to be concerned with here -- it was the mortals and their heads, for they all seemed to have somehow managed to set themselves ablaze. As the bizarre duo neared, however, the skies above darkened and the waves began to hail down upon the islands as they had never before hailed. Crying out in fear and panic, the fire-headed creatures scattered for shelter and were nowhere to be seen when at last justice and wonder arrived.

The spirit took a few giant steps towards the nearest of the hotheads, and in so doing he somehow seemed to compress himself down into a much more manageable size, just enough to stand above his companion, when before the palm trees had been like blades of grass by his boots. Of course, this abrupt shrinking had left Wonder in a precarious position up in the sky, and this time he was left to unceremoniously fall down rear-first onto the sand and surf. The wonder spirit looked quite silly and undignified down there with the crabs scurrying around his face, so naturally his fellow spirit advised him to cease. “Get up from there.”

“Do not search for me where the crablings crawl -I am not there!” Wonder declared at once, manifesting in his glory by the metal god, “I did not fall.” He looked around as thunder cracked and rain pounded the isle. “Strange, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t raining like this before. What could have possibly caused it?” He turned full circle and looked at where the cloven sea had been left to fall all at once, water steaming and rising, crashing and churning, swift clouds forming and spitting their innards upon the earth, thundering and crackling with lightning even as they did. “Hmm,” wonder said gravely, “how terrible this weather is. To think the elements could be so fickle and utterly utterly unpredictable. And without any form of divine meddling too, none at all. Powerful indeed is Galbar, mighty is the earth, terrible the seas, majestic the clouds as they hurl their lightning bolts and thunder.” He turned, arms spread. “It is well that you should fear, flame-headed islanders! The world is flighty and cruel and will very suddenly - and without any form of divine intervention, mind you, none at all - hail down on you. Marvel in it then, wonder at it too, and truly fear it!”
All was quiet for a moment, save for the pounding of the rain and the occasional clap of a thundercrack. But then, the not-so-titanic-at-the-moment-titan suddenly declared, “You lie, little wonder-spirit, but Justice can see through your deceit. You caused this storm; it was created by divine intervention. I would persecute and destroy you for this lie, if you were not a spirit. If the Steward had not given you the ability to proclaim whatever you like to be law. Hmph. She may have lacked foresight. How is Justice to hold any spirit accountable when they can brush aside Justice with mere words?”

This was a very stark, startling, and troubling revelation. Wonder turned to him with an amicable smile, eyes innocent and wide. “Accountable? Accountable for what? I have done no wrong - if you call me a liar (and that is not true!) then even if I were, it is no crime. Everyone lies - even you have lied! You said, for instance, that you see me - that was a lie!” Justice butted in, “No.”

“You said, for instance, that I was mad - that too a lie!” “No.” “You said, for instance, that you would sever my head with my own sword -- “ “I still may yet.” “--oh lies lies lies! Who will punish you? Who will hold you accountable, hmm? Forget this whimsical accountability of yours and don’t think too much. You are not the arbiter of justice, only its enforcer after all.” The god’s eyes gleamed with mischief. “Is that not right, brother?” Thunder rumbled all about and in the darkness of the storm lightning flashed, illuminating the two statuesque gods. Justice gazed into the impish face of wonder, and wonder smiled warmly into the metallic helm.

“I must think upon all of this without your maddening words to distract me. You must await my return here, in case I decide that indeed I must sever your head with your own sword.” And then the strange god was a towering titan once more, and with a few huge steps that practically shook the whole island, he climbed up to the volcano’s peak before shrinking again out of sight. Wonder was left alone to sigh in the rain, questioning how anything or anybody could be so obtuse and blind to wonder. A great flash of lightning illuminated the darkened island as it huddled beneath the stormclouds, and in that instant of clarity, the god looked out into the sea and beheld the waves dancing wildly to and fro. Chuckling, he found himself compelled to join them, for why shouldn’t the sea dance in a duet?


Off the mountains of the Qaywandar, from whence flow the ten thousand rivers and from whence flows the mother of all rivers, the Dahuur, do the clay-fingered people, the dehru of the white silk hair and eyes of lapis lazuli, stretch their arms and take repose in the favour and immense bounty of the gods. How so their reclining came to be and how such favour was cast down upon them is spoken only by the ascetics and mendicants who tread the winding roads of the land of Dehrthaa, is spoken only by the monks in their mountain monasteries - chambers upon chambers and alcoves upon alcoves hewn into the rock and woven - and is spoken especially by the priests in their great temples built like pillars, like towering causeways unto heaven; carved therein are the tales of old, the beginning of the gods, and the end of all things. And it is carved in the rock of ages and whispered on the tongues of those most learned pillars of the dehru peoples that Dehrthaa was not always Dehrthaa, but only came to be Dehrthaa in later times when the era of the lordship and mastery of the tiger and the lion and the dircaan were at an end. The earth was tamed by the gods and the rage of the beasts against the clay-fingered people extinguished, and the eyes of lapis lazuli inherited all upon which the gaze fell: and behold, the clay-fingered people of the white silk hair and eyes of lapis lazuli were the first to tread upon the land and first to glance of it, and they called it Dehrthaa, the land of promise, the Elysium of the mortal plains, the heavenly garden of the earth, the shimmering pearl and singular beauty upon the crown of creation.

Of dehru beginnings let this be known: it came to be in the time of Aeron, whose name in the generations that followed would no more be Aeron, that a terrible bloodletting fell upon the people and none knew whence or wherefore or by what manner or means it came to be. And it is said that from the millions of persons who in that time made up the great nation of the voirans - who with the fifth generation from the time of that very bloodletting would no more know themselves as voirans but only dehrus (insofar as all who call Dehrthaa their home are such) - were reduced to a fledgling group of six and threescore persons, no more than that or less; onescore of menfolk, twoscore of womenfolk and six not of majority, of whom two were daughters of the voiran race and four were sons. And in the wake of that great culling - which can be explained in no other sense than that the gods in wisdom mysterious so willed it and the gods in sublime sagacity so planned - was the voiran nation in great disarray and turmoil; its shattered remnants wandered here in the forests of that frozen land and there, hither thither wandered unknowingly and blind, back and forth wandered in tears and in confusion not knowing whither they wandered, here and there wandered lost and abandoned, awaiting only absolution from the fetters of life and the end of all wanders.

But the voirans of those days were made for wandering and not for loss, and the gods were aggrieved to cast the gaze on them and find them as thus; so they sent forth from the seven heavenly bodies and the twelve constellations of the celestial plains, and also from the aerial courses of the moon, and from where the sun sheds its rays on all of creation, and from where the fourteen planets circle across the empyrean field and speak fortune, and shed on the eyes of mortalkind some of the divine secrets and mysteries, a single saviour and guide. A single white raven they sent down from that celestial map of all that was and is and will be. Into a man formed him, a man with eyes of lapis lazuli and hair of white silk, as they were, and as snow was his skin - and their skin all in those days, for their flesh had not mixed with the clay of Dehrthaa and they were not of the clay-fingered people. A single guide from the map of celestial guidance did the gods cause to descend upon those six and threescore voirans. And in this manner their number arrived at completion so that they were seven and threescore all together. And upon them - alongside Aeron who would no more be Aeron - descended the sacred soul and own breath of the gods, which then they called Voia but would call by another name in later times and forget forever the Voia-name as to the windmill of forgetting they would consecrate the Aeron-name and all names as came from the land of ice and death before Dehrthaa. Arosh was the raven-guide named, that breath of the gods Vanadey.

Golden were the days of all who followed Arosh, blessed all who walked in the shade of Vanadey the breath of gods. Where the foot of the raven-guide fell was spring, behind him ever the shadow of winter; never could it near and never could it grasp and never could it sup upon they who took to the path of Arosh. Above was Vanadey, the breath of the gods, to left of them and to right on the narrow path, behind them also and beyond was that sacred soul and below them in the earth. None faltered who walked in the way of Vanadey, none tired who journeyed with the breath of the gods and were as one with her.

In such manner did they, those lost souls from the time of the culling, come Dehrthaa and call it home. Off the mountains of the Qaywandar, from whence flow the ten thousand rivers and from whence flows the mother of all rivers, the Dahuur, did the clay-fingered people, the dehru of the white silk hair and eyes of lapis lazuli, stretch their arms and take repose in the favour and immense bounty of the gods; until the end of days and death of the world.

In Divinus VII 26 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Khoris productions present:

Dance Me a River and Call it Teddington

And wonder filled the world. No mount or river was left untouched. No hidden pit of lava or lake, no forest grove, no pond, no hill! Wonder waded, ran, and flew - he was joyous, sad, and true; whatever brought awe, he was that too! And as he did all that, in his wandering sort of way, he did not forget to get absolutely lost.

(As an aside, he found getting lost to be marvelous in its own fashion. It was pertinent that whenever one found oneself growing bored with all life had to offer, whenever one’s mouth began to adopt a habitual sort of grimness and a damp and dreary winter has set into your soul (though mind you, winter can be truly marvelous, and even dreariness can have its own sort of wonder), and especially when monotony has gotten such an upper hand over you that it takes a strong moral principle to prevent yourself from intentionally seeking out every hat-wearing god and methodically knocking their hats off; at that point you should consider it the perfect time to get yourself truly and utterly lost. There is nothing controversial about this: anyone who has a modicum of self-awareness must at some point or another be possessed with an ineffable desire to get absolutely lost.)

Not knowing where he was, Wonder hefted his sword in one hand, the Son-o’-Falyn in the other, and wandered across the icy plains giving his bare chest to the scold of the cold and wail of the hail. There was an awesome power to the furious elements, a breathtaking beauty in the barren endlessness of the snow plains. But through that all something else called him - the echo of a sliver of the whisper of a memory subjected to absolute ruination called to him through the howl of the winds and strike of the ice. The sword of wonder leapt into his grip; it was a burst of flame in the gathered darkness, the wonder of warmth against the overawing cold. The light spiralled with the darkness, the warmth embraced the cold, the storm danced about the marvelling, circling god. He raised his arms - the Son-o’-Falyn ascending like innocence into the pit, the sword of wonder rising like a lodestar that called the dancing memory, the echo, the whisper, forth - and all about the world thundered and raged, the earth shook, the spiral of light and darkness shimmered and nearly broke. The god in the tumult stumbled, leapt, fell and rose. The Son-o’-Falyn opened his eyes and let out an unfreezing tear and shrill cry. The plain of ice was a raging sea, the clouds above frowned deep and cracked, lightning burst and thunder clapped - and amidst it all rose marvel’s sword; it brightly flashed and trilled and hacked! Marvel’s sword and the child of wonder, the Forever Child, the Son-o’-Falyn.

Pillars of ice ascended like frozen leviathans brought to unstilled life, glaciers welled up and crashed against one another, mountains and hills formed in the turmoil; and through it all the sword of wonder glimmered and glinted. Dusty specks of ice exploded in every direction, joining the hurricane, and the marveling eye of the god pulled memory and dance from the echo that trapped them in that fearsome maelstrom of bewildering awe and wonder. He pulled forth the dance with twinkling eyes that very well knew they had fallen upon an inestimable treasure… and when all had descended into calm and silence once more he housed the strange light he had pulled out (that odd dance and joy, that memory) in a towering mausoleum of ice.

The light scintillated and danced in there, it teased at tales and whispered of wonders, and it twisted and twirled- but spoke naught at all. Wonder watched and listened, and even the Forever Child watched with hushed rapture. The god danced with the light and laughed - he wept a little too, oh how sorrowful was such loss! How joyous that this sliver was saved! How marvelous that there was one wonder more in the world! “Tell me your tale, you titillating minx!” He laughed as the light dodged and weaved about his form, nipped at the button nose of the child, then swept away. But the light spoke nothing, it only shone and joyed and danced.

“We never spoke to each other…” A familiar voice intoned, coming from nowhere and everywhere at once, with a resonant and subtle regret within the words that softly seeped into the wondrous surroundings like the welcoming warmth of a midsummer bonfire. The silvery shadows of shame and grief melded with the luminous melody, as another stepped into sight and spectated in simmering silence - the red summoner, the creatrix, the one called Anath Homura.

Wonder turned to her with an easy smile, blade on his shoulder, child on his arm, and beheld her for a few moments. “Ah, Anath. You are not as I thought you’d be.” It did not seem to sadden him. “You have a wondrous sadness to you - in truth, all of this place has a sadness to it. You can taste it.” He turned to the light that not long ago had been a fading echo. “Even this little ball of delight. Sorrow! Sorrow! Ah!” He brought the child to his face, and it yelped in annoyance and pushed his face away. “I meant that, by the way,” the god added, gesturing to the dancing light. He brought his sword down and buried its tip into the glassy ice, then leant on it. “But I reckon if anyone knows what this light-once-echo is, and why this sorrow is so, it is you Anath.”

“You have reckoned… correctly; I am ever witness to that which is written and woven into the tapestry of the world - suffused with an accumulating sorrow, and the lingering remnants of the agonizing stigma, yet therein remains a sacred beauty to be found within such a suffering. Tell me, what does family mean to you?” She asked him as she stared into his eyes with solemn emphasis, or perhaps it would be more apt to claim that it was the Orphan Flame who posed the question to the Boy that brought forth Fear and Awe, and now awaited an answer.

Wonder met her gaze with casual ease and a quick chuckle. “Family.” He sighed and looked away from the staring goddess. “Community! Ah. I looked into the mind of a woman once and saw the most wondrous thing about some mortal settlements in her soul. How did she put it? Hmm… ‘No lonesome, cryptic autocrats were they, no dominators or imprisoners, no selfish forgetters. They were a community. Ah! How beautiful was that? The very notion was so… well, romantic. No member of that species could, alone, survive. They were all dependent on one another, all lived together and by so doing confessed their greatest weakness and embraced their glorious strength. Ah! A community!’” The god shivered, though not due to any cold. “It’s a marvelous thing, family. Wondrous to behold. Wondrous in its beauty and selfless giving. Terrible in its cruelty, its insatiable taking. Like the mortals we make, like we ourselves, it has in it all the wonders of beauty and all the horror of ugliness; it is in all ways awe-inspiring and awe-full.” He paused there, having spoken much but given no ultimate indication as to what, exactly, family meant to him.

Anath Homura let out a breath as she turned her gaze away from him, and then tilted her head with idle curiosity. Even as she began to speak the strange light that Wonder had pulled forth hovered around her head, circling tirelessly. “I believe family is sacred, and that has proven to be a source of much sorrow. Family feels as though it is both a blessing and a curse, akin to all other aspects of existence. I ask myself; have I become profane? Is my faith lacking?” She slowly stepped forward, aimlessly adrift after she posed her question and then danced the circular motion of the dance that those who were perfectly lost, truly meandering with swirling grace, seeking to be found and heard by another.

Wonder was no finder, however, he only sought to be discovered and known. He hefted his blade and the wondrous thing drifted in the air so that all around them was light and motion. The light-once-echo expanded until it embraced everything within the mausoleum so that Anath and Wonder alike were thrall to a dance not their own. The Son-o’-Falyn sat on his shoulder, like a rooted sapling, and Wonder took the Anath’s hand so that their whirl became one: Creatrix, Child, Wonder, and Blade. Speechless spirits sifted around them, wove around their weaving dance, lit up with kaleidoscopic stars the light of the dance; angered, sorrowed, joyed, and despaired.

“What is this sacred, what is this profane, Anath?” Wonder laughed as they moved, “what is this faith? I am all things sacred and I am all things profane! Faith alone cannot behold me - though faith’s a wondrous thing - but to be behold me you must wonder! Profanity and sacredness, faith and curses and blessings, all are wondrous, Anath, in their beauty and all their ugliness, wondrous, marvelous, terrible!” He brought his nose right up to hers and looked into her one endlessly sorrowing eye and kissed the white rose where once there had been another, “these are all the food of the soul, Anath. Even your sadness. Even your sorrow. Even you! Oh wondrous wondrous!”

And his eyes were aglow with the glow of the dance, and the spirits that wove around them seemed to take on more and more of a corporeal form as the dance carried them. That one there looked almost like the Anath. That there had endless dusky hair! That there seemed a giant ball of snow. That there a golden bolt of lightning, endless energy and zest and joy! Among them was a serpent of flame, hers an inferno to rival Po’s. An earth-hearted guardian, a ruinous woman, a wispy, blue-eyed spectre too! Doom incarnate and an all-seeing eye, and a masked hunter, silent, prowling. A saline woman, tall and sad, beside whom stood a tar-spewing monolith to work. A shadow was among them too, shifting like a silent guard, and a merry drunk with a sage’s gait, a defiant tower of smoke as well, with a blade that dwarfed wonder’s sword in size. And others yet. They danced about them, round and round, they clashed with one another now, then parted again, and the dance went on in its sorrows and joys, a story in pure motion!

“We are granted sight of the sacred; an awareness of the song and dance of the cosmos. The profane blinds us, and severs the connections we have. Faith is my flame both beautiful and brutal, burning the insidious taint before it leads to our annihilation - to a silent nonexistence. Faith is my flame, illuminating my family so that I can find them again in the future.” The red goddess murmured, with the glittering reflection of wonder in her one remaining eye being the sole and subtle sign of her lamentation. She silently mourned for the forsaken spirits of her family, performing a dance among the dead that acted as an ethereal and ephemeral memorial for them.

The wondering god shook as the dance enveloped them all, and his voice rocked the very foundations of the icy mausoleum and the world of dance and light that breathed within it: “Pristine and pure! Such sincerity and love! I shall make you wondrous with me, Anath, and all the world shall wonder at your family - and shall remember! And if forgetfulness seeps through (and the terrible, awe-full end of all things) then I shall wonder still and remember. Wonder may sleep, but wonder does not die!” He halted and his overawed and maddened gaze turned back to her sorrowful eye, and there was in his softness and innocence. His grip tightened on hers. “This shall I do for you who freed me from the void - only show me, Anath, the marvel of your smile.”

His fantastical and passionate proclamation only induced an aloof and flaccid look from her, as she seemed to languidly slow and limply shift in his grasp, similar to those slumbering sandy shorelines stirred by the waking waves sent forth from the sea - surprisingly demure. “Your conviction brings me euphoria, but your promise has yet to be fulfilled, so I shall not smile.”

He released her and turned away, the Son-o’-Falyn falling from his shoulder and back into his arm, and the wondering god whirled with blade transfixed towards the sky. He spun like a spinning top - the Forever Child blared like a goat fading in and out of earshot. Then wonder ceased to spin and a sing-song chant erupted from his throat as he leapt with the dancing spirits.
“I have walked,
I have run,
I’ve fixed mile on mile -
all I want,
all I ask,
is to see your smile.
If you won’t,
if you can’t,
then I tell you I~’ll
Go into exi~le!

Have some trust,
don’t you frown,
it’ll be worthwhile
If you cry
all too much
you will go senile
Lean on me!
You’ve a friend!
You are not an i~sle!
Let us see your smi~le!”

And not releasing that final note, the marvelling god led the great troop of spirits in a great loop around the mausoleum as lights exploded all about, and came to a halt with his grinning face uncomfortably close to that of Homura. “Don’t smile for me!” He said. “Smile for you!” He turned away and swung the blade of wonder lazily about. “As someone I dearly love once told me, the world ain’t worth your frown, darlin.” He looked back expectantly at the one-eyed goddess. “So, Anath- will you?” The spirits gathered around seemed to lean in and hang on the decision. “Think they’d like it too.” He gestured to them with his head.

The red goddess allowed the corners of her mouth to turn upwards, and her rosy cheeks were pushed higher, and the tension across her features faded as her face relaxed. She appeared akin to a beautiful maiden, serenely sincere and innocently blissful. Then the frightening falsehood of what stood before He Who Beholds was revealed through such a modest act; that shadow of a smile, pretentiously contrived and painfully bittersweet. It gleamed prominently, proudly exposing itself. How clearly it could be seen; the dreadful secret of the creatrix, the one that wielded the tremendous power to create a nascent world, and the power to desolate it, the ancient one among this pantheon that was assigned the task of weaving the tapestry anew, the one known as Anath Homura.

She was a petulant child, upon the precipice of being broken by what she had witnessed… Her youthful visage was composed of an otherworldly crumbling crystal, bleeding with suppressed emotions and virtuous aspirations perverted by a senile mind. It would be foolishly ignorant to either accept or deny her insanity, as she was the one that had birthed this burgeoning cosmos and continued to wander freely without constraint - fleeing from the trauma, stubbornly seeking whatever unknown destiny awaited her with a clouded vision. She was the one that chose to currently disregard her own dementia as she resumed her sluggish dancing.

“An empty smile for an empty promise.” Anath Homura monotonously replied, her apathetic answer accompanied by a sudden aura of malice emanating forth from her now.

Wonder’s smile froze on his face, and his awe-maddened eyes - a suddenly keen amber in colour - bulged. The sword of wonder, alight with an impossible variegated flame, shifted and a thousand afterimages hovered around the form of the darkening god. It was not so much that he was darkening, but his fury was as the gathering of thunderclouds which obscured all light and promised only deepest darkness. In the arm of the Awe-full One, the Forever Child opened his eyes (and there was in them a most terrible and unnatural tenebrosity) before climbing the god’s bare chest and settling on his shoulder, back turned to the Anath. He had no sooner settled there when great wings of smoke and stars erupted about the Awebringer, and a crown of fire lit up his pitch-black hair. He was then the twilight of existence; he was the light of the world. Grimness incarnated upon his face and the spirits scattered in every which way and tore at themselves till they were extinguished and beyond sight. “In the lap of unliving aeons I slept... I was caused to sleep. And I thought I would sleep forevermore, my fate thus halted and destiny foiled, the age of wonder stilled, the marvels of the world nevermore to be beheld. But behold: I have awoken! - you brought me forth, Anath, you stirred me once again. I have awed worlds before, I have beheld with the eyes of crazed wonder - I have struck with its sword, I have slain the lifeless corpses of those who could not marvel. I am come, Anath, you unloosed me on existence! I strike with the sword of wonder.

“You woke what should ne'er be woken and summoned what ne'er should be summoned through the veil of the beginning and end: and lo! this world was without wonder. Your voice unleashed me, then behold! there was wonder. I was the hidden jewel of the worlds, and I have come forth a wonder yet hidden; and I have come for no other purpose than to be known. Behold me ye who are above and who are below, ye who are granted the beholding arts: your perfection is in knowing me! I am the wonder of the skies and trees! I am the wonder of the earth and rivers! I am the wonder of all hidden selves and multitudinous forms! I am the wonder of the world - I am wonder! All that thou art is naught if wonder is not in it! Have it as you will; if you do not lift the veil of wonder then await my wonder's sword: I strike with the sword of wonder!

“Aye, you are wondrous, Anath, but I am all of wonder and I am all of awe.” And even as the canon strike of his voice echoed in the icy mausoleum, the malice pulsing from the creatrix seemed to meld with the undeniable and awe-full pressure emanating from the Awebringer, and whatever dread it should have struck into the hearts of all who beheld it seemed to dissipate - or rather, seemed to become one with Wonder.

“You have not smiled the smile for these eyes and you have not spoken the words for these ears. Yet wondrous is the pity in my heart for you and dreadful the venom you have spewed. You have loosed me, Anath!- and I am no ingrate. I am all that is full and bursting; you alone are empty and emaciated. But add no sorrows to your sorrows, for when you are a memory - as you shall be - then will I be charitable even as I now am. Mine is the ever overflowing cup, and my fullness is lessened naught in filling your memory utterly. Aye, you shall be beheld alongside me with wonder when you are a long-gone shade! Behold!- my promises are the incarnation of fullness! But see to it that you go- go and never return, for you are not the face for these eyes.” The sword shifted again, its polychromatic flames flaring. The Son-o’-Falyn on the shoulder of Wonder turned his head - lips curled, black eyes wide as moons - turned his head completely and unnaturally and unloosed a terrible stare into the one remaining eye of the almighty creatrix. The sword of wonder fell so that its pointed rested against unperceived ground before the god whose wings were the cosmos, and he brought both his hands against the pommell and stood there like a mountain.

“I am what I am.” Anath Homura answered, and she stood before the miraculous mountain as a small and solitary skeletal figure - devoid of sacred sight; without a hearing heart, without a singing soul, without the essence of existence. The being before him was an Anathema to the wondrous world, and viciously mocking him with her stagnant shape, her cruel lack of comprehension and antithesis to awe. This unspoken and delusional derision was ever the aberrant way of an unholy abomination such as she.

The Awebringer, for all her emaciation, beheld her; even such emptiness held wonder. Fearsome was he, grim his aspect, terrible his sword, but yet was he charitable and overflowing. He stepped forth through the darkness and his towering form alighted by her little one, his forbidding face coming to rest before hers. The void in her held awe, he beheld it. The death of all song in her too was a marvel; death held wonder and he beheld it. And the mockery seemed but a challenge, seemed but a cry for help: in its ways a heartwarming marvel, and he beheld it. His dark visage broke then and a smile returned. “I have beheld. Thou art that thou art, and what thou art may never be destroyed. No coward soul is thine, Anath, no trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere. Behold wonder’s glories shine - like faith that shines and arms you from all fear.” His hand was on her fiery head and he stroked her gently, then with a sweep took her up on his other shoulder and descended to the icy mausoleum floor, where the multitude of spirits that had dissipated before were now gathering themselves up again. “I salute you, kin of the Anath!” He declared. “Weave your tale eternally, for memory is undying while you weave.” He looked up at the Anath on his shoulder. “Are my promises not full, Anath? Am I not true? You should spurn to give me cruel words, both your eyes should bloom to behold me.” And he released a guffaw even as the Forever Child, dark-eyed no more, yawned and crawled back into the warmth of the god’s all-embracing arm.

The hostility of Anath Homura appeared much more diminished due to her current position, seated atop his shoulder and staring scornfully, but not bothered enough to relocate herself. Her disdain and ire had been deemed a ruse, resulting with her gaze returning to its former softer consideration as further displays of displeasure would be undignified. “It is not my intention to insult you. No… forgive me for my clumsiness.” She spoke, yet her wandering words did not reach him. The otherworldly words which the red goddess muttered sought something else, far away and adrift.

She continued, and her one eye lacked lucidity as she intoned. “Trapped within the Eternal Cycle of Return… I do not wish to repeat my mistakes. Your promise rekindles my pain, and those imprisoned within me seek to take advantage of my heartache. I was not prepared for this encounter - an overwhelming moment with memories that threaten the precarious tranquility I require.” Her sight slowly became focused, honing upon He Who Beholds, and her voice became soft. “Faith is a fire; whenever it burns too bright, it becomes blinding. I ask that you refrain from harming my one remaining eye. My frustration lingers, yet you also have my gratitude for such fiery faithfulness, Wehi Tama. Hmm… how irksome.”

The god beneath her stiffened at the sound of the name. The flame atop his head flared and his eyes glowed for seconds, but he quickly gained mastery over himself and calm returned. “I am not come to burn away sight, beloved Anath, but am come only to be known! Let the cycle turn as it may, let us return eternally - let our mistakes fill worlds! Let our suffering be the wonder of existence. We are only the sum of all our suffering and pain - oh what a wondrous whole we make! I knew a wise old witch long ago who had suffered terribly - oh how terrible it was Anath! But I heard her speak, and her words were thus: ‘And I, who knew only suffering and loneliness, who was forgotten by all, have come to know that the lifting of Suffering is the only true end to the life of mortals and immortals alike. It requires unparalleled kindness, compassion. It requires mercy. Suffering is an illness; where it is found, strive to remove it - whether in yourself or others. But where you find that you cannot remove your own suffering then there is but one option before you: we must strive to be worthy of our suffering. If our suffering breaks us, if it makes us cruel, selfish... surely then we have failed ourselves. In unavoidable suffering there are lessons to be learned and opportunities we cannot perceive. Indeed, unavoidable suffering is fertile soil for the cultivation of virtues that ease and the lap of luxury deny. The virtue cultivated during ease is that of moderation and self-restraint, that cultivated during suffering of fortitude, valour, forbearance. Ease can create good people, but it is out of suffering that heroes ultimately emerge.’ Oh what a wise old witch was she! Are we not heroes, Anath? What a marvelous thing is heroism!”

He turned and began making his way across the floor of the mausoleum and towards the towering gates of ice. “And I’ll tell you something else too,” his merry pontificating continued, “to behold wonder the heart must be opened wide to all emotion. To sorrow, horror, fear, disgust, and - above all - it must be opened to love. A love for wonder, a love for all things. And to love, Anath, to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and even broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give that heart to none and refuse to wonder aught. Wrap it carefully in little luxuries and bloated nothings; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness - care little and care not at all. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To wonder you must love, and to love at all is to be vulnerable. So when you gaze into the endless pit of your sorrows, Anath, when pain claws at your heart and your eye wanders and tears tremble: know that it is your love - and be joyous! Bask in the living pain of your endless love.”

Anath Homura allowed herself to sigh, and averted her eye from the preaching man acting as her improvised palanquin, instead looking to the approaching passage leading out of the icy mausoleum. “I came to offer peaceful greetings and gifts… Would you accept my unawakened vessels that await the touch of the Divine. Will you accept humanity?” She asked, with a hint of hesitation.

Wonder came to a halt at the entrance and gazed at the colossus waiting outside. He smiled gently and gazed up at the seated goddess. “You brought me a present?” Not waiting for a response, he held her in place and leapt forth, a single bellow of his cosmic wings causing them to erupt through the fabric of the spaces to appear, very suddenly, atop the colossus. “And I brought nothing for you!” He declared, joy and sorrow melding on his face.

“It is what it is. Freely given, as I only ask for you to follow the Sacred Path - to avoid straying from it and foolishly stepping towards annihilation.” The red goddess replied gently, then gestured to the whirling metallic sections of the colossus, which shifted below them as an opening emerged upon its upper back; now revealing the thousands of slumbering statues that sought to be shaped, still resting peacefully inside. Wonder gazed at the rows of clay figures, amber eyes glimmering.

“You have made them in my image,” he noted, “the better that they may wonder.”

“They are humans. You may change their form, as they are meant to be malleable.” She said, dismissing his comment with a lackadaisical shake of her head. Wonder nodded in understanding. “I see.” He spoke gravely. “So you have made them in my image.” He looked up at her with a quick grin. “Let them go forth, Anath, that the veil may be stripped from the eyes of creation and that they may behold me! Let them be our prophets unto creation! Let them sing thine praises and call unto a higher seeing - a true beholding! And in their awestruck skies let us as the sun and moon be. Then, when all have been called to the beholding, let the sword of wonder fall upon the blind!” He gestured with the blade of marvels. and two clay figurines erupted from amongst the others and came before the creatrix and her impromptu throne. They were man and woman, of darkest eyes and twilight hair, of icy skin, white as the falling snow, of scarlet lips - like blood, like rubies. They stood naked as innocence and bare as purity, and their eyes were wide with awe. “Honour them, Anath; let their names be born on your lips and let their architecture of their destiny emanate from your glorious vision. Let the flower of their lives bloom, and let them, through love, through hope, through faith’s transcendent dower, feel that they are greater than they know!”

“You would wake only two? Then will you not wake the remainder?” Anath Homura inquired, glancing at Wonder with mild bemusement. “And… do not delegate the naming of your humans to me.” She added. The god chuckled merrily and bent down to one knee before the two humans, so that the Anath’s feet were level with their heads. “Blessed are the few, Anath, for they alone can wonder. The great mass of existence passes by the marvels of the world and does not see them. Blessed are the few.” He glanced at her. “Name them for me. Make them glorious names. Fill them with your pleasure. Give forth your joy into the world that hope may blossom anew!”

Anath Homura closed her one eye, and let out another sigh. It was subtle, yet she shifted her composure when she addressed the two humans, speaking cordially to them. “So be it, you two shall be named Thought and Memory. This is my blessing; both of you have been given the opportunity to fulfill a purpose.” Her proclamation was accompanied by strands of scarlet ichor seeping forth from sudden lacerations across her palm, and these strands soared towards the man that was named Thought and the woman that was named Memory. A circle of levitating glyphs manifested around the newly named pair as the red goddess began her spell: The sorcerous symbols of the Gnosis sang, and the blood of the Creatrix mingled with the blood of mortals, as the strands sank underneath the skin of the two awakened humans - the two that had become sacred champions.

“It is done.” Anath Homura said, with the ritual completed. Wonder gazed at the two humans, eyes gleaming. He picked up the male by the arm and poked his stomach curiously. “That was entrancing stuff,” he murmured as the man complained about being manhandled thus. The god eventually put him down. “Stop complaining Mawazo.” He ordered. The man blinked and looked from the Anath to wonder.

“But the goddess named m-” he began, but wonder ignored him and returned to his feet. “Mahara! Mawazo! Chosen elect of wonder and the Anath, ye who behold, who have been granted Thought and Memory that you may well bring mortalkind to reason and remembrance. Let your gaze erupt: cold are the days and cruel are the nights that await you, but you have been given of the blood of the almighty and have been clothed in the flames of awe and wonder,” and even as the words fell from his lips, the wings of the Awebringer shimmered and tore themselves away so that they become glorious cloaks and raiments of light and dusk about the prophet and prophetess. “Cruel are the nights and cold are the days that await you, but when wonder is the food of your souls you shall not fear and you shall not thirst, the whip of the cold shall be your strength and the strike of the sun your boon. Go ye forth and wonder, let not your wondering cease. Behold me always in your hour of need: your perfection is in knowing me.”

“Bu-” Mahara began, but wonder was beyond the call of speech; they were ensconced in his light and it carried them from the colossus. A wagon manifested and a steed with eyes of emerald pulled it through air and across land alike. For a time they were a light decorating the star-studded skies, an aurora dancing with the variegated heavens, and then the prophets of the Anath and wonder were gone.

The god of wonder, his form shrinking so that his shoulder was soon an improbable throne for the creatrix, hefted her off and slowly set her down on the back of the colossus. He planted another kiss against the flower of her eye and ruffled her fiery hair. “Shall there be none, Anath, to sing of the love that has bloomed betwixt us once you are a memory and I no more wander in these climes?”

“For now, the answer awaits in the unknown. I must continue my travels, and then I will be returning to my realm once I have greeted the remaining gods and goddesses that are willing to speak with me. Wehi Tama, I ask that you please visit my home, and share the gift of your marvel with me again.” Anath Homura answered, sharing a half hearted smile with Wonder, for an actual smile eluded her still. The other god’s amber eyes smouldered silently, and he nodded without a word. Turning away, sword of wonder in one hand and the Son-o’-Falyn in the other, wonder hopped once, twice, then leapt away. Upon the colossus, Anath Homura resumed her journey once again.

KhoZee productions present

Mish-Cheechel the Avenger




He was an old bjork when he arrived. The oldest bjork who lived, in fact. The place was cold and of incredible size - so great that he could spy it five hundred leagues away across the flat plains of snow and ice. He was an old and tired bjork, in some ways a wise bjork, and by the standards of the Revengers he was a good and virtuous bjork too. That said, he was not a happy bjork. Not a sad bjork, mind you, but by no means a happy one. Happiness is made of different stuff, and one can learn perfect contentment even if happiness does not ensue. Even in his darkest moments, he long ago realised, he had been able to find cause for happiness. Aye, he had scorned it and brought it to ruin, but fate had not taken from him more than it had offered. When he sat in silent contemplation on the nature and manner of his pledged vengeance, the visage of Zima often came to him and brought him to smile. If he shed a tear sometimes, he did not hold it against his eyes. For the likes of Zima it was right that tears should fall, and for the ruination he had brought upon her it was right that he should suffer unrelievable remorse. These were the sorrows and burdens that mortals and immortals alike had to bear, and though Mish-Cheechel the Avenger did not bear them happily he bore them with solemn contentment. The act of bearing without complaint was his silent penance.

The great gates of the palace - lovingly sculpted double ice doors that seemed of boundless height and etched with all the majesty of old - lay open and half-broken as the mightiest of the bjorks passed through. His eyes trailed across the remnants of ice statues, broken figures of what could have been and once well-kept pillars of white and endless shades of blue. Some etched and sculpted in reflected faces. And for all the silence and sorrow that hung over the place, there was a palpable lack of stillness.

For death hung clearly in the air. Death and great sorrow, for the broken pillars and cracked ice, some great ravines that led down into the abyss of the world, strewn ever on in that straight path. A room lingered ever closer, far greater and more boundless in size than any gate could hope to be. For this was where gods once dreamt only for nightmares to thus burst forth. The throne room’s air permeated with the stench of old decay. It was obvious why. Hanging from the walls, chained from the ceilings, pinned and impaled upon pillars as many more lay broken and upon the floor- were demons. If it was not for all their wounds, the frozen blood pooled like black discs, the stench, the frost upon their many eyes, their broken claws and shattered teeth- it would have been like looking at something alive.

Further along, near a throne made of red stained ice, lying precariously next to a large chasm that jutted straight and out of the palace, there lay a woman. Dead she was, pierced by a weapon so potent it thrummed at his presence but did not move. Her eyes were closed, a gleeful peace upon her lips. Her hair was thick and lustrous as molten gold, revealing two pointed ears at the sides of her shapely face. She had died in rags but even still, the frost and snow had never touched her. It could have been that she would open her eyes at any moment and light up that vast space with a smile, but it was not to be. The bjork let his eyes rest on her for a long time, leaning back on his tail and resting as he took her in. He chuckled ruefully and shook his head.

“So… you do die after all.” He murmured to himself. He wondered if the Green Murder was likewise lying somewhere, serene and deathlessly beautiful. He had never abandoned his pledge, had meditated on it by dawn and dusk and in the long hours of the night and by the midday sun, but he had expunged all the anger and hatred. Only the duty, in its serene calm and beauty, remained. Were the Green Murder to manifest before him at that very moment his body would have forthwith cut her down - aye, he had prepared himself daily for just such a moment. But it would have brought him not an ounce of pleasure. His eyes remained on the golden-haired goddess. “It is a shame.” He finished, and bowed his head sadly. It was a mockery that such beings should die thus, that such reifications of the quintessence of reality should fall and pass away like all things. “Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”

He bent down towards her and felt something stir around him. His eyes snapped to the side and he was immediately alert, tail narrowing and hardening in battle-readiness. “Peace, Bishadnik.” It was a double-voice, both male and female.

“That is not my name.” He spoke, rising. “I am the Avenger Mish-Cheechel.”

“Be you who you may, bring her to me.” The double-voice came again. The bjork let his eyes scan the space, but found no identifiable source for the voice.

“Perhaps I will. Perhaps I will not. Show yourself and we can speak.” The manbjork responded.

“Follow the door behind the throne. Bring her to me. Up the stairs and into the tower. Bring her to me. Why have you come here, Mish-Cheechel? Bring her to me.” The voice faded, and at last he spied a single dancing snowflake, circling gently and never landing. It danced by the crimson throne. The bjork bent down towards the golden-haired goddess, but then paused with his eyes on the golden chain whose serrated blades were dug deep into her chest. He leaned back and considered the odd thing. He had never seen its like, but he had seen enough of the gods and the strange corruptions they foisted upon mortalkind to be wary. He leaned back and with gentleness weaved the world around the wound so that the divine flesh loosened about the terrible blade and allowed it to slip out slowly. The blade hissed and the chain seemed to coil like a snake, deathly energies swelling forth. But for all his weaving, he could not remove the thing from her form.

Clenching his fist, he stepped forth quickly, eyes sharp, decision made, snapped the chain up with speed - it was barely as heavy as a leaf - and flung it with all his power and strength through the great hole. He watched it descend earthward and clenched his teeth. He almost let out a pained breath, but only furrowed his brows and flared his nostrils as his arm fizzled into nothingness and decay. It mattered little, he had returned from a speck of flesh before.

He turned back to the dead goddess and hauled her over his shoulder with his remaining arm - she was light and even in death moved with surreal grace. Even her hair fell elegantly. Even her arms dropped delicately. Even her face fell to the side with easy charm. “Pah. Where were you in life?” The bjork muttered to the divine corpse. “I might’ve been a different bjork if I’d known you.” But there was no response, and he carried her past the crimson ice throne and followed the dancing snowflake through the open door.

He ascended the long narrow set of stairs with slow care, one eye on the snowflake and another on what waited beyond. With each upward step he took, the distinct lack of stillness he had felt on stepping into the palace grew only more poignant. Everything seemed alive with motion. The stairs seemed to breathe. The air seemed to roil around him like invisible waves. The goddess on his shoulder seemed to pulse with some unstilling life. Even his feet and his eyes and his heart seemed unable to resist the dance into which he had wilfully walked.

His body was carried on the air, his toes only barely making contact with each passing stair, until at last he was on the landing. His eyes fell on the open door across the small hallway, and his breath caught in his throat. The world beyond the door was awash with tremendous light and motion. It was like staring into the Gate of Nebel once more, only there was no darkness or death here, but a certain zest, a certain tap and beat, a certain roiling… fever.


Like a droplet on the surface of a lake spun from stillness.


Like the gentle awakening of that first and most perfect of waves at the centre of it all.


Like the beatific rising of a vermilion mushroom, searing surge after undulating surge into the fabric of the world.

It pulsed powerfully, each pulse a rhythmic tap, definite, clear, and loud. Tip-top-tap. He was at the door. Tip-top-tap. He stepped into the nebula of light and movement. Tip-top-tap. Where earth was or heaven began, he did not know. Tip-top-tap. He whirled in circles, and those circles whirled. Tip-top-tap. He was aware of hair, black as dusk and endless as the universe, circling like the thousand arms of an impossible galaxy. Tip-top-tap. Yes, he had always known of galaxies, for he had beheld the dance of the universe. Tip-top-tap.

In the heart of the galactic swirl of dusky hair, he at last saw the twin silhouettes at the heart of it all. Their feet flowed in union and eyes blazed; each shoulder carried the wide horizons and each arm seemed strung to springs - now whirling, now swiftly, stiffly, strictly returning, now rising bent, now extending, now flying and now turning. Stamp, forth they came, stamp back they went, tip-tap-top, tip-tap-top, tip-tap-top, with the floorless space they played. Eyes widening - I see you, now fear me, come hear me, I’ll free you - heads turning (you’re worthless; off with you, won’t see you, won’t know you). Hips twisting, gyrating, skirts flying, vibrating - stamp, stamp, stamp, tip-top-tap, tip-top-tap, tip-top-tap-

Rosalind and Aurora whirled and pulsated inside the cloud that held what remained of the dying aeons; the whites in their twilight eyes turned to dusk, the female form that hosted both shifted and turned, losing structure with each movement and returning. With each turn, each stamp, each cry, their frames convulsed, backs arched, eyes swelled, mouths bowed in mutual smiles of agony and bliss - and about them the very stuff the Aurora was made of began to circumambulate the circling, stamping, twisting dancers. And as the dance imbibed the Aurora's light, the dance too was imbibed - so that there, where dance and light tangoed and pushed and grated and struggled, movement became one with light.

Mish-Cheechel beheld then the great weight of all he had ever dreamt, the great weight that all that ever existed had ever dreamt, the dreams of the lowliest creation and of the highest gods. They convalesced all around, those dreams, and they rushed into the blurring feet of the divine dancers and set a greater blaze to the cosmic fire of their otherworldly motion. Their eyes widened in wonder as their hips swayed to an unknown drum: their feet kicked, their bodies moved, their wrists shook - and there, on the wrists of Rosalind, a hundred bangles jangled and echoed and vibrated. With every foot that kicked and let off heat the bangles jangled and sucked up the excess. For a perfect moment it formed a great harmony… and with suddenness, to Mish-Cheechel's instinctive horror (he knew not why) those bangles broke.

And as they broke the two dancers plip-plip-plopped across the serene sea of light. Their movements were clean, rippling with the waves and flowing with the main. Both stood for a second in perfect symmetry and stretched on their toes and rocked on their heels. They brought their hands to their abdomens, lifted their chins, and allowed their feet to shimmer with the light. Their movements were slow and measured, their arms danced around their heads like a ring danced about the world and their feet pitter-pattered on the fluid light. Though unhurried, their dance did not lack any of the earlier force, they seemed to weave their movements - carefully, precisely, as though threading and rethreading and triply threading a needle. When their hips spun, their backs swayed, their shoulders swung, their heads turned, then like a double velvet curtain their hair spiralled - like a galaxy it turned, like the murmuration of ten thousand starlings or more it swirled.
Then with finality a foot landed, light glimmered and stirred but did not break, and Rosalind’s eyes of dusk, and those of Aurora, emerged from behind the great dark curtains of hair- they glimmered, they smiled, and even in the stillness of finality, they danced.

They stood frozen there for moments - when they did it, stillness itself was a sort of motion. And that stillness gave itself to a quiet, gentle renewal of the dance. They danced like shy waves and gentle skies. They danced like a beaming sun and leaping rays. They danced like little joys and innocence, like the forgetting of past wrongs and pain. They danced like sweet, little joys. And they reached out, at last, for the divine corpse strewn across Mish-Cheechel’s shoulder, and he surrendered her without resistance or complaint, but revelled in his closeness to them. Even as they took Zenia from him the rags in which she was clothed were incinerated and their place erupted loose silken fabrics of gold damask and velvet, which now seemed to hug her form and now seemed to flow freely all around her. It was only so for a few seconds, for her form then mixed with the light and dance and she merged with them, a golden bolt of energy and emotion that coloured everything it touched and gave it an element of crazed energy and joy.

At last, the bjork looked at the two divines whose dance had at last come to something resembling a halt - though nothing save them in that strange and limitless room seemed now to be still. They were in the dance. “Who… who are you?” Mish-Cheechel asked the two strange women, who were so alike as to nearly be indistinguishable from each other - but for the stone arm one of them possessed, with strange colours - now blue, now green, now black - that shimmered through the pale stone. They smiled serenely, their hair shimmered and turned. They seemed in all ways at peace, but they did not speak. And he knew, by instinct, that nothing he said would bring them to speak. He took them in, took in the canvass of pure light and movement and revelrous joy, this impossible space beyond the door, and was glad. “It’s no matter, I guess. But I’m glad I came here.” He looked at them both again and bent his head slightly. “Thank you.”

The light grew more intense all around after his words, the movement speedier, the energies of the dead golden goddess sharper and more potent. The serene smiles of the twin goddesses disappeared in the growing light, and Mish-Cheechel the Avenger felt his own form slowly meld and melt into the soup of light and joy and motion. He knew, in a way, that he was dying. That all things were dying. A part of him thought it a good way to go - but he did not allow himself that indulgence. There was, at the very least, no shame in this death. No, no shame at all.



This is the story of the thing in the forest. This is the story of the thing that sees us, the unseen, and which we, the unseen, cannot see. This is the story of the shadow of the shadow, the echo of the echo, the horror of the horror. It is the story of the awe maker, the child taker, the eye waker: it is the thing that sees.

We did not marvel much in those days and only knew one thing: we were made to evolve. We were the silence of the forests. We were the shadows of the trees. We were seeing and unseen, eating and uneaten, hearing and unheard. In our simplicity we knew nothing of ourselves - we did not see the tree, we did not see the forest, even ourselves we did not see. We saw in a shallow sort of way, without registering or knowing. But when the shadow of the shadows shimmered in the deathlight, when the echo of the echo rumbled in the jungleheart, when the horror of the horror stalked us, saw us, heard us, then we learned to see and then we learned to hear. Our eyes were wide then, we saw what we never before could see. It was fear. It was terror. We saw the trembling droplet on the edge of the smallest leaf dangling on the furthest branch at the highest point of the greatest tree. Terror gave us sight. Horror gave us sight. Wonder gave us sight.

Perhaps we saw it once. We saw it in the deathlight, when even light was dying. We saw it when the jungleheart was quiet. It was the silhouette of a silhouette, the thought of a thought, the memory of a memory. But it held something - pink and red and loud, fleshy unlike the flesh of the trees, veinous without the veins of the leaves, earthy with the stench of rust. And in the cries of that symbiote we heard it, and its speech was thus: 'I was the hidden jewel of the worlds, and I have come forth a wonder yet hidden; and I have come for no other purpose than to be known. Behold me ye who are above and who are below, ye who are granted the beholding arts: your perfection is in knowing me!'

Our perfection is in knowing you.



It was quite the revelation, but death was something marvelous. There was something quite awing in knowing that there, in that place, there where Zylana and Falyn were rolling about in the throes of killing and being killed, was an end to life. "It is wondrous," the god whispered as he circled the struggling pair and was lost in thought. He glanced at them. "But my goodness it's so unceremonious, so... shoddy. Hasty. Offhanded and inattentive. Where's the weight!" He grabbed the pair of them, eyes wide and brows furrowed in deepest fury. "Where is the wonder!" And even as he roared the both of them came to be clothed in armours of heavenly make, below them steeds of earth and wind, in their hands twin-bladed and tri-bladed swords as had never been seen in worlds before and would never be seen in worlds ever after.

Zylana stood, head high, blade raised, steed of awe turning the earth. Falyn faced her, visor down, eyes bright, sword ready, steed neighing the song of the deeps. They circled slowly, their eyes never once leaving the other. "I have thought on it long, and though I loved you once - and deeply too - still must you die." Zylana spoke hectoringly.

"Ha! I died long ago Zylana - the day I gave you what should ne'er be granted womankind. That heart there churned in the dust below your tyrannous steed - I died the day I gave it you. So lift your blade, woman, I'll prick the heart that wounded mine and see if in it's blood or wine - methinks it neither this nor that, it's liquid hate! Come come, we'll know it soon at any rate."

"En garde!" Zylana cried!
"Death!" Falyn thundered!

Their steeds erupted, their swords flashed, their cries sounded, and ah! Oh! Brave Falyn fell! "Oh me!" Cried wonder, and raised that dying head to his chest. "Oh chivalry! Oh courage! Oh swords and death and glory! Oh! Yes, this is as it ought have been!"

And when days had passed Zylana was no more to be found in that place, but there was something wondrous still. An armoured form sprawled on the earth, tri-bladed sword in its death grip, his killer's arms not far away. Aye, there'd been something wondrous there!

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