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Kalmar
&
Phystene
&
Ashalla





Though Kalmar continued to stand guard at his continent with vigilance, he needed something to occupy his hands with in order to pass the time. Out of boredom, he kicked at a small section of the ground, breaking it up into several small fragments. Then, one by one, he began to pick up those small, jagged pebbles, and throw them out into the sea.

When one of those stones appeared to ‘skip’ across the water before sinking, one of his eyebrows raised, and he attempted to recreate that throw. After a few sank directly into the sea, he managed to skip a second rock, and then a third. Soon, he was trying to see how far he could throw them, and how many times they would skip. This was how the God of the Hunt occupied himself in a world where he had not yet found anything to hunt.

Although he might appear distracted, he was fully aware of his surroundings, and sensed some sort of disturbance off in the distance. More of his kin quarrelling? That did not concern him. He continued to skip rocks.

“Kalmar…” Phystene telepathically said, her voice a mere whisper in his mind. “Orvus is…. Insane.” Her voice was wracked with pain. “He’s.... watch your back.”

Kalmar stopped throwing stones, surprised at the sudden mental contact. Then, that surprise turned to a mix of mild confusion, with a touch of concern. ”Where are you?” he questioned.

A mental image of the southern continent, with her location near its south western shore appeared in his mind. She knew not what its name was, but the clarity of its physical location on Galbar was impossible to misinterpret.

Kalmar nodded, though he realized she would not see it. “I will come to you,” he said, dropping the stone in his hand and taking flight, heading in her direction. He did not like to leave his continent behind, when someone could tamper with it, but he needed to confirm that Phystene was alright, and learn more about this Orvus.

It was evident that there had been a battle in the area. A massive crater marred the landscape just inland from the shore. Numerous trees were strewn about, burnt and broken from what must have been colossal forces hurled at them. For kilometers in all directions the trees had been wrecked as if by malicious intent. And yet there was new life growing even now. The crater was filled by rapidly growing grass, shrubs, and flowering plants. Its rim was nearly completely covered in dense foliage that continued to grow at surprising speeds.

Hidden almost completely from sight by this foliage was Phystene’s body. Unmoved from when she collapsed following her battle with Orvus, her power still radiated to the surrounding area to help the plant life recover and grow stronger than before.

Kalmar looked at the destruction with an expression of distaste. This had only been recently built; why had another god sought to destroy it?

Phystene had been easy enough to locate, due to the power that she radiated. Kalmar landed on his feet a few feet beside her. He looked down at the foliage that covered her. “I’m here,” he said to announce himself.

“Wasn’t…. Expecting to see you so soon.” Phystene said without opening her eyes. Her voice wavered a bit. “Did you… see the monsters in the ocean?” She asked, disgust and a hint of fear leaking into her otherwise pain wracked voice.

”I did not go in the ocean,” Kalmar answered, eyeing their surroundings warily. Was this Orvus still around? ”What happened?”

“He approached me.” Phystene answered, her strength seeming to return just a bit with every word. “I… showed him the coral, plants, and animals I had created at sea. And then… he attacked me.” She shivered involuntarily. “His powers shredded my children apart and when I used my own powers to try and combat this… they were created.”

Kalmar nodded grimly, listening to what Phystene told him and putting it together with the knowledge of his fellow gods that was bestowed upon him by the Architect. Orvus was the god of… Desolation? Such a god would inevitably become enemies with a goddess dedicated to life, but to blatantly attack her? He was a threat, not just to Phystene, but to everyone else.

”This Orvus must die, then.” Kalmar decided, his tone serious. ”Not right now, but soon.” Then, his voice softened somewhat. ”Can you move? Do you need a place to recover?” he asked her.

“I’ll live.” She answered, rising into a sitting position with a groan. “I managed to convince him to back off before either one of us were too seriously injured. Well… more like bluffed my way out.” She closed her eyes and slowly shook her head. “But he made it clear that he intends to go after all of us nature deities.” She let out a soft sigh. “Some time back Parvus and I had discussed our peers’ proclivity for causing major environmental disasters on Galbar. I had wanted to establish a position of strength and draw a line in the sand, but Parvus convinced me that a more indirect method would be better…” She stared out at sea, a scowl spreading across her face. “Unfortunately I think strength is the only thing someone like Orvus will back down from, and even then he may not even care.”

Kalmar nodded once again. ”For some creatures, strength is the only thing they will respond to. It is no different for some of us gods.” He stroked his chin, thinking. ”In the face of this threat, we nature deities should stand together. I have built a new land in the northwest. If you join me there, we will have strength in numbers, and we can protect our creations from harm. We can invite the other nature deities to join us as well. If this Orvus attacks again, we will destroy him. What do you think?”

“I would love to join you on your continent” Phystene said, her scowl melting away into a smile. She slowly rose to her feet. “And I am sure the others will be more than happy to join as well once they hear about Orvus. We should also try speaking to some of the other deities. I… honestly don’t fully understand Asceal and Aelius, but I doubt they will look kindly upon Orvus’s behavior and intents.” She let out a long sigh. “Unfortunately I don’t think I’m well equipped to fight Orvus and I’m sure a few other deities are liable to fall in line with him.”

”Perhaps,” Kalmar acknowledged, ”which is why we should band together sooner rather than later. Even if you don’t think you are a fighter, you can still assist in other ways which are just as important. I think you should contact this Parvus you spoke of, and I will reach out to the rain goddess Li’Kalla. But first, I think I should show you where this continent is. Can you travel?”

“Yes” She said with a slow nod. “I have mostly recovered. Just…” She gave him a weary smile, “a little tired.”

”Good.” Kalmar smiled back. ”If you are ready, we can set off.”

She gave her surroundings one final look, an expression of grudging contentment over how much the life in the area had recovered since the fight with Orvus. ”Let us be off then.”

Yet as they turned to leave, the ocean itself rose up before them. The ocean sculpted itself into a form resembling a female humanoid’s torso. Ashalla had felt the disturbance which the conflict between Phystene and Orvus had caused and had also came over to inspect what had occurred. Ashalla turned her head to inspect the damage caused to the river delta, looked over her shoulder at the storm which was receding westwards under Veradax’s gaze, then finally looked down at Kalmar and Phystene.

”What happened here?” Ashalla asked.

“Orvus” Phystene answered as she turned towards Ashalla. “He apparently took offense to my creations and tried to kill me for it. It was not a pleasant experience.” She gestured towards the crater and other signs of destruction. “Thankfully I convinced him to back off. For the moment.”

Kalmar nodded grimly. ”We were just discussing what to do next. Gods like Orvus are a threat to us all. We need to work together if we are to protect ourselves, and bring them down.”

Ashalla was quiet for a few moments. Empathy was not yet a trait Ashalla had learned, but she could quite clearly see the destruction around her. A water current stirred up some of the shattered remains of the coral reef below her. ”Destruction like this is not good,” Ashalla eventually declared. ”If it prevents creations such as these from being destroyed, I can help.”

”Then what do you say to a pact?” Kalmar asked. ”To defend each other’s creations from senseless destruction.”

Ashalla hesitated. A ‘pact’ was a big deal. Yet as she thought it over, she realised that this aligned well with her values. There was little point to creation if it were to be destroyed, and it would be easier to assert their power as a group. ”I find this agreeable. We shall defend each other’s creations from senseless destruction.”

“Senseless destruction… Yes.” Phystene agreed with a slow nod. “Not all destruction is bad, but the kind Orvus and his like are after is not only pointless, but complete. It warms my heart knowing that my fellow nature deities will not allow it to continue.”

”It is good that we agree,” Kalmar said, before looking directly at Ashalla. ”I was going to show Phystene the new continent I have built. You are welcome to join us, if you wish.”

Ashalla’s head twisted around her to look once more at the departing storm of desolation, then turned back to address Kalmar. ”While I appreciate the invitation, I should work on stopping that storm before it inflicts further damage. I will visit some other time.”

“Ashalla” Phystene said after a moment. “There’s something you need to be aware of.” Her voice was steady, but the look in her eyes was one of embarrassment and even terror. “The power hurled about during our fight created…. Some kind of monster that even now swims in the ocean.”

”Oh, those,” Ashalla said dismissively, ”A large oceanic predator with the capacity to lure in lesser creatures. Something tastes funny about their souls, though.” As she spoke, Ashalla seemed to notice Phystene’s unease about these creatures. ”Although they can’t even reproduce so it’s only a matter of time before they all die out,” Ashalla added.

“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Phystene shook her head. “They… I felt no life in them, although they clearly aren’t dead. At least not dead in the traditional sense. I’m concerned about the long term effects they’ll have on oceanic ecosystems and… Orvus seemed quite enamored by them.” Her lip curled ever so slightly in disgust as she continued. “He claimed they were the future. I’m concerned he’ll try to make more of them and other kinds of similar… entities.”

”Creatures that aren’t ended by natural death and can’t reproduce?” Kalmar seemed offended. Such a creature would never need to evolve or change. That was a surefire path to stagnation! ”We can’t let Orvus bring about that future. Another reason to end him.”

Ashalla regarded the two deities before her. She did not appear to share their concerns. A large globule of water rose up beside Ashalla (or rather, beside the part of her which looked like Ashalla, for the globule of water was also Ashalla), holding one of the leviathan anglers for them all to see. ”This creation is a predator, like other ocean predators. It hunts. It eats. This is a natural niche in an ecosystem. It does not pose an existential threat. It is flesh and blood and can be killed like any other creature of its size. Not being able to reproduce is a problem for it, not the world around it.”

”You don’t understand,” Kalmar said, annoyed that this goddess saw fit to lecture him on the nature of predators. “As Phystene tells it, these creatures were transformed into this state. If Orvus finds a way to replicate whatever caused this, he could inflict this state on all life, and then it will become a problem for the rest of the world.”

Ashalla rumbled thoughtfully, then replied, “That would be a problem. If he finds a way.”

“If he’s half as dedicated to the cause as I suspect he is, he will.” Phystene said. “They were created as a byproduct of our fight. I suspect he’ll be able to make even greater abominations once he focuses on doing so. I’ll have to put some thought into plants or animals I can create to combat this but…” Her voice trailed off for a moment. “Perhaps Parvus may be able to help me with that. Either way I feel that it would be prudent to turn Kalmar’s new continent, and the ocean around it, as a bastion of life. A bastion we can retreat into and concentrate our strength if absolutely necessary.”

Kalmar nodded at Phystene’s words, and decided not to discuss the strange fish any further. ”That is what I intended when I created the land. Though I must get back to it - I fear some other god might try to change it in my absence, and there is still much work to be done regardless. If there is nothing else to discuss, should we depart?”

”I think we should. I have a storm to catch,” Ashalla said, dropping the angler back into the ocean.

“Best of luck” Phystene said. She relaxed slightly as the angler disappeared back into the ocean. It surprised her just how tense she had become just by being near the thing. Ashalla’s form collapsed back into the water and departed.

“Well…” Kalmar said, allowing himself to float a few feet into the air. “I suppose we have a continent to fill.”




Kalmar





Things happened.

Suns and moons were created and then destroyed. Mountains were flung. Gods clashed, quarreled and schemed. Entire continents were forged and shaped.

And where was the God of the Hunt in all this?

Exploring his sphere. He threw some stones into a river, watching the water splash and ripple. He climbed one of his mountains, standing atop the peak and staring out into the void. He made a sandcastle in the desert, before kicking it over and watching it blow away in the wind. He climbed a tree, only to fall when one of the branches broke. He made a snow angel in the frozen forest. He chased animals through the plains. He even started experimenting, using his magic to invent a weapon, which was essentially a slender curved stick with both ends connected to each other by a tight, flexible string. It could then shoot smaller, sharpened sticks at target. What use did this weapon serve, to someone who could create life and move mountains?

Absolutely none. Yet he was content with his creation nonetheless. He promptly used his new bow to shoot a deer, which he then skinned and made into a vest. Kalmar looked down at his reflection in the water, and decided that it looked good on him.

But he could only spend so much time fawning over his own creations. He had a duty to fulfill. Besides, as beautiful and comfortable as this place was, he knew it would eventually either become dull, or worse, make him complacent. It was for these reasons that he reluctantly left his sphere.




Kalmar arrived in Galbar, and looked down upon the constructs of the other gods. A few islands and continents had already been made. No doubt the gods who raised them had their own plans for them, and some were already partly covered with mountains and vegetation. He would make his own landmass, he decided.

First, he had to a pick a location. There was a peculiar chain of islands that vaguely resembled an eye. North of that would be a decent location, he decided for no particular reason.

Although his power was limited, Kalmar decided that was no excuse to be stingy. What was the point in creating animals and ecoysystems if there was no land to place them on? At least some of them would have to invest heavily in continent forging. Kalmar decided that one of those people might as well be him. It would pay off in the long run.

And so, he grit his teeth and focused. The continent he created would have three main 'points.' The land he created would be much larger than his sphere. It would be wide and vast, with a pensinula in the southwest and a bay in the north. He would need plenty of space, he knew.

When he was done, he once again felt as though most of his power had been drained. That was enough building for the time being. He stood upon the barren rock of his new land and waited, wary of any who might try to claim this place for themselves.




Sea of (now) Frozen Tears

Battle on the Ice


The oceans have turned to vast, open fields of glistering ice, the waves crystalized into solid form. This would otherwise be a pretty magnificent and enjoyable view, but unfortunately both fleets are stuck in the ice, that of the Eodaen Royalists and Leofric’s rogue fleet both. Just as they were about to face off in a great naval battle.

"By the might of Xeaxaenot!" Thane Aelfgar called out from ontop the Herald of the Golden Acorn, his fleet’s flagship. [/i]"Our ship’s only stuck in the ice because some of you fools have not sacrificed enough acorns!"[i]

"Is there anything other than acorns that squirrels eat? i’ve not actually delved into squirrel diet, to be honest."

The swords of Badastan find themselves in a mighty inconvenience, for they were just about to engage the pirates. He takes in a whiff of the cold salty sea air, and seeing no sign of the ships being thawed out any time soon, the Thane opts for resolute and desperate decision making. He points his seax dagger at the opposite fleet: ‘’Get off the ships you fools, we’ll just have to walk over to them, and take them on the ole’ fashioned! way!’’

“By the grace of God!” Earl Leofric shouted from atop the Storm’s Herald, his personal ship. “Our ships must be stuck in the ice because a few of you lot haven’t mutilated enough squirrel priests!”

“I’m sure that’s the reason, my lord…” Aella muttered beside him, and they both shared a smirk.

“By God, are they… climbing off the ships?” Leofric asked in bewilderment.

“They are indeed,” Aella confirmed. “You want to head down to meet them?”

“We could do that,” Leofric acknowledged. “And we’d make fools of ourselves, slipping and sliding about, before ultimately coming to a bloody and unnecessary clash in the middle....” he shrugged. “Or, we could amuse ourselves by watching them make fools of themselves, while we wait here and stab them as they climb up.” He made a downward stabbing motion with his hand.

Aella nodded. “Crew, grab weapons and prepare to be boarded!”

Meanwhile, Leofric stepped down from the quarterdeck and walked up to the prow of his ship, stepping past Peric who hefted a boarding axe, as oarsmen abandoned oars for spears and swords. “Is that… is that who I think it is?” He cupped both hands to his mouth and leaned over the railing.

“AELFGAR! HOW’S THE WIFE!?”

The charging Thane at the fore of his warband pauses when he recognises the familiar voice.
"Whats that? That you, Leofric? I should have known you were behind the pirate attacks. Damn bastard, you haven't changed at all.
Childhood friend or no, you will be brought to justice for your crimes, you nutter.

Don't make me come up there and manhandle you back to Eodaland!"


“Manhandle me? It’d be a long walk, across all this ice!” Leofric called back, and despite both the danger and insanity of the situation, some of his crew laughed. “You’ll starve before then. You’ll have to eat your precious squirrels to survive! But yes, I might come down. How does single combat sound!?”

Moving nearer, Aelfgar eyes his former friend with a dismissive glare.
"It's not the old days anymore, friend. Now I stand before you as thane of the King, and therefore am in no position for thine wordcraft haggling."

He raises his Seax and shield as a man prepared to let metal sing his final words. "You and your misfit ilk have felled defenseless Demon-Squirrel Priests, Leofric. You will be made to answer for this sacrilege here and now!"

As he speaks, Leofric observes Aelfgar's band of warriors preparing to encircle the Storm’s Herald. Some of the frozen waves have left an upwards slope, which they have recognised as the perfect (if predictable) vantage point to board it from. Warbands from the royal fleet are all the while creeping towards the other ships in Leofric’s fleet, carrying with them harpoons and javelins.

Aelfgar continued over the ice until halting directly before the bow of Leofric’s ship, now looking him in the eye through his Sutton Hoo helmet. "In spirit of our Eodaen kinship, I shall show lenience: lay down your arms now and come along peacefully to answer for your crimes. I swear you; Badastan is a man of mercy... I will put in a good word for your sake to receive but light punishment.’’

While Aelfgar’s men advanced, Leofric’s own crew had not been idle. Perhaps twenty or so archers and crossbowmen came to stand by him. Aella and Peric had identified the potential vantage points, and were sending warriors to form lines facing those directions. The Captains of Leofric’s fleet were all of a similar mind, waiting upon some sort of signal from Leofric’s ship to act.

The self-proclaimed Lord-Captain smiled. “That’s a generous offer. But I have to say, Aelfgar, I don’t quite understand this talk of friendship.” He stroked his chin. “I might be misremembering, but I seem to recall being friendlier with your wife…” he shrugged. Perhaps it was a bluff, perhaps it was not.

What came next, however, almost certainly was not.

“LOOSE!”

Nearly two dozen arrows and bolts flew from the Storm’s Herald, peppering Aelfgar’s men. The other captains of the fleet took this as a call to action, and began to unleash barrages of their own. As for Leofric, his smile vanished and he retreated back to safety, drawing his sword as he waited for the enemy to board.

The Eodaen royalists, flabbergasted, could only just seek cover behind their shields. Some of them wailed and howled in pain as arrows struck true, and yet others were felled, the ice beneath them turning red. Aelfgar depended on his men’s superior numbers to overpower the rogues and could afford the losses.

After the pirates had drawn first blood, the royal Thane spoke no further, and signals the attack. "Smoke them out."

Squadrons of men, shields raised against arrow fire, trot towards the first row of frozen ships in the pirate fleet while archers of their own loose volleys of suppressing fire.

The Thane calls for his own battalion of battle hardened housecarls to seize the Storm's Herald, by climbing the frozen wave sloping directly against it when it was rocking the ship. It is the perfect vantage point - - too perfect, the obvious direction of attack. Accordingly, Leofric wisely positioned his men to take stance to hold off the attackers with a wall of spears. As forces collide, their spears jab against the housecarl shields in vain, causing others among the pirates to opt aiming for their uncovered legs. Noble blood drips on the ice, but Badastan's elite close in determined, their minds addled and drugged by mushrooms. And using their superior weight, heavy mail and shields they bash into the smaller cohort of spears. When hand to hand combat commences they jab their Seaxes at the spearmen. Sparks fly as metal meets. Blood stains the ice where the children of God and Squirrel-demon do battle.

The other ships were similarly assailed by warbands. Slowly moving, under constant fire and amid their little castles of shields on the treacherous slippery ice.

When reaching enemy hulls, they flung up harpoons in attempts to board the ships from different angles, though this had little effect, serving as little more than a diversion. For Leofric’s crew simply hacked away at them with axes and swords until they broke or were dislodged, causing the men climbing the ropes to fall back to the ice.

Some even used their longaxes to beat holes in the hulls under cover of shields in attempts to make the ships unseaworthy by the time the fleet thaws out. Or at least, that is what they'd hoped. Others were observed smearing the hull with a greasy substance. The squirrel-worshippers were trying out all sorts of devious schemes, it would seem.

This battle was to be a prolonged and slow bloody grind, but Aelfgar wouldn't have it. He was blessed by the King, for Squirrels Sake! And so the thane appeared amid the housecarls boarding the Storm’s Herald as they carved their way through the spearmen. Kill Leofric, the head of the snake, and the battle will be determined swiftly.

"Craven Leofric! Come forth and save your puny men, heretical worm!" He yelled from the group of men locked in battle.

“I’m right here, you fool!” Leofric shouted, wrenching his blade free some a man who stood between him and Aelfgar. With Peric and Aella guarding his flanks from any who would intervene, Leofric strode forward to meet the rival captain in single combat.

Spotting Leofric, the Thane’s eyes lighted up and he sprung forth... as men on both sides quickly parted to make way, for they could tell their commanders were about to meet. Holding a great round shield in one hand, and a brandishing Seax sword in the other, Aelfgar made a deft swipe for Leofric’s throat.

Leofric swatted the weapon aside with a contemptuous parry, before responding with an attack of his own...

For the next ten minutes, the Royal Thane and the Rogue Earl did battle in name and sight of their respective deities, and the onlooking men, some of whom paused fighting to watch, cheer and revel.

All the while bloody struggles took place on and nigh the other ships. When the men on the Storm’s Herald smelled and observed smoke, one of the Squirrel-worshipper’s machinations had been revealed. Some of them managed to ignite the hulls of some two or three of Leofric’s longboats by smearing them with pigfat they had carried along! Men on the flagship were bewildered by this turn of event, even among the Royalist crew.

Aelfgar smirks, still panting from the exhaustive hand-to-hand combat with the more than capable Leofric. ‘’The day is ours, traitor. Surrender now, and I might still stroke over mine golden heart and show mercy…!’’

Elsewhere, the crew on the burning longships did not stand idly by while their ships caught fire. They instead brought out heavy barrels of water, rum, tar, or provisions, and rolled them down the slopes of the frozen waves that touched their ship, clearing the slopes of attackers as most were inevitably knocked down and sent sprawling across the ice.

With weapons in hand, the defenders did not hesitate to seize the advantage: they slid down the slope after them, stabbing and slashing them before they could get back up. But landing on the ice, many of the selfsame attackers slipped and fell down themselves. A clumsy death-and-life grapple followed as both enemies tried to get up.

Meanwhile, as Leofric looked his foe in the eye, he decided he would not dignify Aelfgar’s demand with a response. He delivered a feint, making to thrust at Aelfgar’s leg, but then he suddenly gripped his weapon by the blade, hooked Aelfgar’s shield with the crossguard, pulled it down, and then jabbed the pommel up into Aelfgar’s throat.

Aelfgars reflexes were slowed from exhaustion, and as he tried to duck backwards was struck on his jaw. The blow was forceful enough that his Sutton Hoo helmet flew off, revealing Aelfgar’s lean face and red hair, as his ornamental helmet rolled away over the ship’s deck. The Thane was knocked to the ground, blood dripping from his chin as Leofric walked up, and pointed his blade at Aelfgar’s throat. “Yield!” he commanded.

Rubbing the blood and saliva off his face, Aelfgar slowly and hesitantly relinquished hold of his seax and shield, and raised his open hands with an affirmative grunt. The defeated Thane looks from the corner of his eyes to his men. The housecarls, though initially successful in beating off the spearmen and seizing much of the flagship’s deck, were losing ground as the first casualties had dropped, and dead from both sides lay prostrate and mutilated on board.

Most other royalist warbands had been repulsed, and in total, but two of Leofric’s longboats had been captured by the Royalists. Though Aelfgar had been bested, his warriors fought on… Until there rang a deep voice from afar:
‘’Stop!’’
Kalmar




Without another word, Kalmar climbed onto his crystal, and set off. He had made at least one valuable ally today, he was sure of it, and of the three conversations he had thus far, hers was the only one that had not been tedious.

He went down into the Chthonic region, feeling a pull towards his domain, his sphere. His own territory, all to himself, and whoever he chose to share it with. But he would not fall into a false sense of security. No, one day he would need to defend it. Even in this new universe, there will always be another being that feels compelled to take or destroy what others have.

And so he moved with determination. He would not let another being find a way into his sphere first.




Eventually, he arrived... to nothing. A vast blue void, of nothing.

Exactly as expected. It was his job to fill it, after all. And it was time to get it work. But...

He wasn't sure where to start. The Architect had given him some understanding of his role and his powers, so he knew how to use them, but the idea that he could forge entire landmasses or environments seemed so surreal that, for a moment, his confidence broke.

Then he pushed the feeling aside. It was doubt that caused prey to stand still while the hunters circled. He would not let doubt rule him.

Kalmar closed his eyes and concentrated, as he considered what to build. He would not do anything excessive, as his powers were not limitless and he may need to scrap his creation if he didn't like his first attempt. So he started out with a simple shape, a circle of rock, and willed it into being to float in the sky. Yet one could fall off such a circle, so he rimmed it with mountains to prevent such a hazard. If his sphere was to hold life, it would need water, so he conjured four rivers which flowed from the corner mountains into a small lake in the middle, and that lake had an even smaller island.

Though it now had water, it was still barren, and that had to change. It needed an ecosystem. So he imagined a forest, but before he willed it into existence, he stopped himself. Different beasts thrived in different climates. As the God of the Hunt, he should have multiple climates, for variety. Diversity is good, Phsytene had said - he agreed with her then and he agreed with her now. The rivers made natural borders, so he turned one quarter of of his world into a forest. The next quarter, he made a sandy desert. After that came a grassy land of fields and hills, before finally concluding with another forest, this one covered in a layer of snow. Each region was given suitable species to inhabit it.

And then he looked upon his creation, and his eyes widened as he fully realized the magnitude of what he just accomplished. It brought a whole new idea to the meaning of power. It didn't matter if you were stronger, or smarter, or faster... if you had the ability to shape entire worlds then few forces could stand against you. To his knowledge, only two dozen beings were capable of matching him.

It should have been thrilling, yet he also felt... disappointed. Where is the satisfaction in hunting prey that stands no chance? What was the purpose of hunting in the first place if you did not need to eat? How could he be a God of the Hunt if the mere state of being a god was enough to render hunting pointless?

No, he reminded himself, Your purpose is no longer just to hunt. It is to maintain the balance of hunting among the life you will create.

With renewed vigour, he decided it was time to add the finishing touches. He set himself down on the island in the middle and looked around. The mountains offered a sense of security, he realized. He did not wish for creatures to become too comfortable in a realm dedicated to hunting. How could he spice it up?

Then he had an idea.

Closing his eyes and concentrating again, he raised a small forest on the island, and in the center of that forest he built a structure out of wooden logs. He gave the structure two floors and multiple rooms. He was not certain what those rooms would be for, but he would work that out eventually. For now, the main structure was complete, and that was what mattered.

And it was no ordinary structure. The structure and the surrounding forest was a monument.

The effect was rather straightforward, but powerful. At random intervals, the ecosystems would shift. Snow became grassland, forest became snow, desert became forest, grassland became desert. Only the island's climate would remain the same. The intent was to make the inhabitants used to change; they could either move on to the next region, or dig in and adapt to the new ecosystem. Either way, it would prevent them from becoming complacent.

And now he was done, at least for the time being. His power had been drained, but he found himself filled with an immense feeling of pride.




Kalmar

and
Phystene




As the two deities departed, Kalmar turned to regard Phystene. “You represent plants,” he said curtly, more of a statement than a question. “I think we should work together.”

Phystene raised an eyebrow, the movement seeming mechanical as if she wasn’t used to it, which was the case seeing as she had only just recently acquired a body. “Naturally.” The corner of her mouth tugged up towards a smile. “Us nature deities need to stick together. I believe, once the matter of light has been dealt with, that we’ll need to create some land masses. Of course we can create life in the oceans, but… it’s always a good idea to have some diversity. No?”

Kalmar nodded, and found himself offering a slight smile. “It is,” he agreed. He paused for a few moments, and then spoke again. “There is also the matter of maintaining the natural order. The species we create must co-exist without completely destroying each other.”

“Yes” Phystene visibly winced. “My… original home was in the process of being destroyed by the greed of a dominant species when I was.... Summoned here.” She let out a long sigh. “It is truly a pity. At one time they were one with nature. Now… now their greed leads them to destroy that which makes their world livable. We will have to ensure that such greed doesn’t go unpunished here.”

Kalmar nodded with some sympathy. “I have some idea of what that is like. In my original home, there was a species we preyed on for food. A new species moved in, and they proceeded to hunt that species to extinction, forcing us both to move on to a new area in search of new prey. I have even less experience with creation than I do with conversing, but I will learn, and I will do what I can to prevent anything like that from happening again.”

“We all have much to learn.” Phystene agreed. “It is odd being… cognizant.” She gave a slight sake of her head. “But tell me: what do you think of our fellow deities?”

Kalmar shrugged. “I spoke with the rain goddess. She will be vital to our new world, but her survival instinct seems lacking. The two we just spoke to, I don’t know - their talk of ‘virtue’ is strange, and I can’t predict where it will lead. The others… we just arrived and some have already begun to fight and quarrel for no good reason. You seem sensible, but the rest do not impress me. I hope that will change.”

“Rapid change can cause shock in even the hardiest of of living beings.” Phystene said after a moment. “But I do agree with you. Some of the… aggression of our peers makes little sense to me. Perhaps the architect brought them to serve as an example of what not to do or perhaps as a form of competition for the rest of us?” She gave a small shrug. “I suppose at the moment it matters little. As for our to recent conversation partners.... I also do not understand some of their ideas, but I sense that they too wish for life to thrive. Perhaps we won’t agree with them on every matter, but I suspect that on every subject that truly matters we all will have similar opinions.”

“I’m sorry if I’m rambling.” Phystene said after a moment. “It just feels so… refreshing to finally be able to communicate with another being. To be able to do anything in fact.”

Unlike in his previous conversation with Aelius, this time Kalmar remained at full attention. “You are not rambling. Your words are sensible. I do not fully share your optimism, but only time can prove either of us right.”

He paused. “To communicate like this is different… but it is much easier than the manner I am used to, and I suspect the words will come easier as time goes on. I feel like I’ve reached a higher state of being… like I awoke from a sleep for the first time.”

“Perhaps that is an apt description for what has occured to me as well.” Phystene’s gaze shifted towards the massive crystals that would take each deity to their new homes. “We have much work ahead of us. And I believe it is past time we begin to fill this world with life. Shall we part ways now? I have this world’s first plant to create and I look forward to seeing what you have in store for this world.”

Kalmar nodded. “Yes, but we must speak again. Hopefully I will have mastered the skill of conversation by then.” He smiled, “Farewell.” And with that, he turned in the direction of his crystal.

“My sphere will always be open to you.” Phystene returned his smile. “And I shall eagerly wait for you to visit.”



Li’Kalla


&

Kalmar





Chaos was all that this Great Hall of Gods saw now. With more and more of Li'Kalla's kin forming bodies of their own, voicing their wills and showing off their powers, there was little to do but wait and hope they'd blow over and disappear of their own volition.

They won't...

So after a moment she lifted her upper body in such a manner as to avoid even looking at her monstrous summoner, and took in a deep breath--Or at least, as deep a breath as she could before a voice punched through her bubble.

"Ah... eh... I... I am Kalmar,"

Li'Kalla's face contorted. She grimaced and winced as if she was in pain upon being spoken to. She seemed to avoid looking at the fellow God, Kalmar.

"What danger do you sense? Why do you stay still? If you are in danger, you either fight or flee. It's better to fight, but some can only flee, like that one there..."

She spared a glance toward him. Tall, wearing clothes… She quickly averted her gaze when it wandered up to his face, but she was sure he was handsome as well.

Intimidating. She knew their type...

She pressed her lips together tightly and shook her head. ”I-”

"If you stay still, you get eaten."

”I-I know, I’m sorry...” She hung her head slightly and sighed. Kalmar seemed to have had some trouble getting used to having a voice, but not her.

Why am I acting like this? Am I not...

”I just… I dont...” But then she shivered and wrapped her arms around herself tightly. ”Don’t look at me, please… Not like that…”




Kalmar continued to look at her strangely, and then realization dawned upon him. “Oh!” The woman’s natural defensive strategy was to avoid being seen. That, too, was a valid approach. But her way of accomplishing that was still flawed. “If you don’t want to be looked at, then you need to hide. This is not a good spot. Behind one of those waterfalls, or one of those pillars, would be better,” he suggested helpfully.

Kalmar briefly glanced at the disturbances that were occurring elsewhere, noting that some gods seemed to take their own arrivals much more harshly, but he still awaited the woman’s response.




He kept looking at her. What did he want with her? Why was he talking to her? By all means, he should have never taken an interest in her! Unless…

She grit her teeth and looked at herself.

Like new...

This time she stood up and turned to hold Kalmar’s gaze. She felt her legs cramp up and had to keep her arms wrapped around herself. There was a fire deep in her gaze, one that was seen only once in a generation. She looked determined.

”I-” And she lost it. Once more, she looked away. This time, her gaze landed on the crystal platform she knew was meant for her. ”I… thank you… Ka… Kalmar?” Using names after so long...

There was a short silence.

Li’Kalla walked off to her crystal platform.




Kalmar nodded, and watched her leave. Had he made an ally today? He was unsure. There was much he was unsure of - how useful she would be, whether or not he had actually taught her anything, whether or not she would truly appreciate his words, or if he would even see her again. However, he had not lost anything from this conversation, so it was neither a victory nor a defeat.

He glanced at the rest of the room. Other gods were already heading through their own crystals, and he felt as though he should do the same. Yet other gods still remained, and he could see a group congregating. There was a woman who shone like a bright light, another woman who had green skin, and a smiling man. They too had recognized that there was safety in numbers, it seemed, so Kalmar decided he should make himself known to them. On that note, he approached them.




Kalmar




Chasing. Fleeing. Hiding. Searching. Running. Attacking. Defending. Killing. Consuming.

This was what went through his head, as he was ripped from one world to the next. It was all he had ever known. He came from a place where it was a constant struggle for life, where you either killed and became stronger, or died and strengthened something else. That was all he had ever known, and he had never questioned it. In its own way, it had been enough to make him feel secure. Yet as he was deposited into the Architect's hall, that natural feeling of familiarity, of comfort, of security, was gone. There had been others like him, who he survived alongside, but they were gone too, and though he was aware of other presences, there was nothing familiar about him. He was alone.

But he also had power, and he used this power to shape himself into a form, partially based off the forms of others but with enough details to set himself apart. Golden hair sprouted from his head and face, and green attire materialized on his body. He looked down at his form, and then at his reflection in the water, and appeared content. He felt as though he had just woken up from something, as though he had reached a higher level of thought and awareness. He suddenly felt the idea that he should call himself something, and briefly wondered why he had never called himself anything before.

Kalmar. That seemed as good a name as any.

Kalmar turned to the being that summoned him, uncertain of its intentions, uncertain of whether or not he could win if those intentions were hostile. Instead, the Architect went on to address the room as a whole, and revealed why he had brought them here.

Just then Kalmar's mind was filled with purpose. He recalled the world he had left behind. If they were to build, then whatever they built would need inhabitants. Those inhabitants would need resources, and some would inevitably need to draw resources from lesser inhabitants, who would in turn need to avoid them. It was not a fair or gentle system, but it was a natural one, a functioning one, and Kalmar would be the one to maintain it.

His first step was to approach the crystal he now knew to be his. But he refrained. Who were these other beings, his fellow 'builders'?

And so he scanned the room, allowing his measuring gaze to fall on each inhabitant. Some, he noticed, had taken larger forms than he had, such as the massive titan, or the living fire, or the large-mouthed beast. Did that mean they were stronger? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Besides, even if they were stronger than him, with enough allies or cunning, strength could be overcome, so he was not concerned.

He watched a pitiful creature leap about, frightened by one thing after another. Another being also appeared terrified, but seemed to have been driven to stillness instead of movement. Kalmar found himself shaking his head. In his homeworld, the former might have lived. The latter would have died.

Others he was not certain what to make of, but he would surely come to know them in the following days. He would have to. He would need allies, partners, pack members.

He approached the pale-skinned woman, who was mobilized by what he assumed to be fear. Fear of what? Perhaps he might impart some sensible advice onto her, earning her trust. "Ah... eh... I... I am Kalmar," he said, speaking for the first time. "What danger do you sense? Why do you stay still? If you are in danger, you either fight or flee. It's better to fight, but some can only flee, like that one there..." he gestured at the floundering, revolting, terrified, eyeless creature, who was being swept away by the water. "If you stay still, you get eaten."


dying (we have a god of death, as in the afterlife and the fate of dead souls, and a competing god of undeath, but neither focuses on reaping or the aspect of murder or dying itself)


Funny you should mention that: I just decided to scrap the honour thing, and instead do a god of valour. A god that does not promote battle itself, but rather showing courage in battle, which includes dying.
I feel like each one of Aelius's "virtues" could have been a portfolio on its own. This system seems slightly unbalanced.

Edit: Just to clarify, I don't mean to specifically target the person who made Aelius. This is just an observation. He just happened to be one of the first gods I read about, and it was something I noticed.
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