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K A L M A R
M E L A N T H A


A few weeks before the creation of Roog...

The Southern Jungle of Kalgrun was quiet, save for the occasional sound of one of the Gemstone Gardeners - the same creatures Kalmar used for the feathers on his arrows. It was they who had planted this forest, and little else existed here. The climate was too hot for the species elsewhere on the continent; the vegetation too thick and unfamiliar. A change was long overdue, and looking down from above, Kalmar couldn’t think of a better place to teach Melantha how to create.

“Alright, just think about what you want to create - what it looks like, how it will function, what purpose it will serve, and then will it into existence,” he reminded her. For days and weeks he had taught her the basics of her abilities, and now it was time to move on to something more complex. “What it will eat, what it will drink, when and where it will sleep… You can do this.”

Melantha looked at Kalmar, then back at her hands and then to the forest below her that expanded in all directions. They had traveled across Kalgrun, Kalmar showing everything that his little creation had to offer. Melantha chuckled every time he made a stop to showcase to her a creation he was especially proud of, like the direwolf packs roaming the grasslands of mainland Kalgrun or the griffins that made the skies of the continent their domain. However, she had to give credit where it was due; Kalmar had managed to create several balanced species that managed to survive and thrive among the high variety of other fauna that existed alongside them.

Indeed, it would not be a stretch to say that Kalgrun was infested with beasts capable of rivaling a direwolf or a griffin in a fight. From giant trolls to ferocious lizards and savage bears among other dangerous beasts, Kalgrun was filled with all kinds of nastiness. Thus one could imagine her surprise when they had visited the southern part of the continent and the jungle forest that mostly covered it. It’s inhabitants consisted of only one single notable species which in and of itself consisted of about four other subspecies, parrots he had dubbed them. From what Kalmar had told her, they basically built the jungle from the ground up with their strange abilities.

They protected the forest and nourished it with their strange, magical auras. So Melantha could not help but wonder why such a rich environment was not more densely populated by a larger variety of animals. Of course, there were the insects and small animals, but Kalmar had spread those across the whole continent so finding them in this jungle was not something unexpected. What was unexpected was the absence of larger animals. Animals that could take advantage of the terrain and thrive, just like how Kalmars other creations had.

Melantha found herself deep in thought, ruminating Kalmars words to her about taking into account everything before creating her very own first species. All that time they had spent together, Kalmar teaching her about the basics of her abilities and then delving deeper into what it meant to be a god would be tested with this creation of hers. In some sense, this was her initiation into godhood.

“I am thinking… about a creature that would take advantage of the jungle terrain. Use it to camouflage itself as it sneaked behind its victim, ready to pounce on a moments notice. Kind of like those felines you showed me some time ago, that used the grass to their advantage in order to get closer to their prey.”

Melantha flew down, past the canopy and into the jungle, coming to settle upon a tree branch. Kalmar followed her, hovering in the air nearby, watching with some level of interest what she would do next.

“What better way to bring the environment to your aid than being able to blend among the leaves, bushes, and trees, watching your prey from above and waiting for the right time to swoop in for a successful hunt. A flying creature would be ideal for this.”

Kalmar nodded, with a small approving smile. “A common tactic among flying creatures. Good choice.” Melantha smiled at Kalmar’s words and got back to thinking. “Hmm, speaking of felines… If I could modify it… The ears… Yes, the body would have to be lighter…”

Melantha devolved into incoherent mumbling at some point and only after a long while did she emerge from her thoughts, her eyes now clear, indicating she had come to a decision.

“I think I have it. Let’s see…” With that, Melantha closed her eyes and concentrated on the mental picture she had created in her mind. She thought about how she wanted her creation’s anatomy to work, building it from the ground up in her mind. Simultaneously, she held her hands in front of her and cupped them, feeling the now familiar godly power emerge and flow, pooling between her palms. There slowly, she felt her first creation take form. From bones to organs, to flesh, skin, and fur. The whole creation bit took a little while to finish, and by the end of it, Melantha found herself relatively tired, mostly mentally. Nevertheless, she sighed, her face donning a smile of content. Two faint mewls emerged from within her clasped hands, prompting Melantha’s smile to widen even more.

As she slowly opened her hands, two little furry heads emerged from within, immediately scanning their surroundings before locking in on Melantha, upon which they started mewling even louder than before and started clumsily crawling along her arms, one on each. Melantha turned to Kalmar, evidently excited about her new creation. “What do you think?”

Kalmar studied them closely. “A good start. Sharp teeth, wings, good senses I assume. Well done.”

“Thanks, It was actually easier than I thought it would be. Must have been because I based them on your feline design before making my own changes to fit this environment.” She turned to look at the one that had managed to crawl up to her shoulder and found it starting at her straight in the eyes before letting out another barrage of mewling that devolved into a kind of faint vibrating sound as it started rubbing its face on her cheek. The other one seemed to be a little more clumsy as it took longer to reach her shoulder, but eventually, it also nestled next to Melantha’s face and, almost copying the first one, started sniffing Melantha’s face instead of rubbing on it. That one seemed to be the more curious of the two, and perhaps the more cautious.

Even Kalmar was moved by the sight. He blinked, visibly taken aback, as he felt a strange, unfamiliar tug at his heartstrings.

“I can’t just leave them as they are though… They are essentially defenseless, brought in a world unknown to them and clinging to the first person they laid their eyes upon.” Images of Melantha’s first waking moments flashed through her mind once again, and she immediately identified with her two new creations. “No, definitely not,” she said out loud, talking to herself. “I have to stay and protect them, prepare them for the world… But not like this...”

A few silent seconds passed, but the proverbial gears inside Melantha’s mind were nothing but silent. They turned and turned until, eventually, a solution dawned upon her. She then turned with a sudden clarity in her eyes to look at Kalmar. She gently picked the two newborn creatures by their necks and handed them to Kalmar. “Hold them for a moment.”

Kalmar took the two creatures in either hand. One began to protest immediately, looking back at Melantha, while the other fixed its eyes on him, simply staring. Kalmar met its gaze, and, unsure of how to respond, simply nodded at the small winged kitten.

With that, Melantha flew off the branch she had been sitting on for a while now and hovered a few feet away from Kalmar. She then took a deep breath in, before closing her eyes and focusing once again on the godly power inside of her. This time, however, what she was attempting was something completely different. Something she had honestly never tried before and did not even know if she was capable of doing. She brought the image of the creatures in her mind once again, and this time focused her power onto herself. A faint sheen of darkness, unbeknownst to her, emerged from within her, covering her skin and clothes. Within this “cocoon” of shadows, Melantha’s form started to change dramatically. Big, bony growths started sprouting from her back, her arms merging with them and coming to a point where her hands used to be. From her armpits, thin leathery membranes grew outwards, connecting her arms with her torso to form a pair of wings. Her clothes sank into her body as she started bloating, and soft, black fur started growing from her skin, eventually coming to cover her whole body from top to bottom. Her legs shortened and her feet transformed into a talon-like shape, with strong, sharp claws at their tips. A strange pattern formed along the sides of her legs, coming to an end at the middle finger of each talon.

She grew a long appendage from her back that resembled the ones that her two creations had, and her face molded into one resembling that of a cat, albeit with a longer tongue and two larger and longer sets of ears. Her whiskers glowed a faint golden color, however, unlike the two newborns. Once the transformation had finished, the dark cocoon dissipated and a transformed Melantha emerged. Folded as they were, her new wings covered most of her new body and made her seem deceptively small. As she opened her eyes, however, she unfolded her wings as well, and what a sight it was.

Her wingspan easily measured fifty feet across, covering the canopy above and casting a large shadow below as she hovered there, a little dazed by the transformation. Eventually, she came to and looked down at Kalmar before speaking into his mind. “What do you think?” She could not help but let a hint of proudness leak into her message.

It took a moment for Kalmar to take in the change. “The wings will make flying easier, and your creations will think you are one of them. Though…” he hesitated for a moment, before looking down. “Visually, I preferred the way you looked in your old form. But there are merits to this one as well.”

“I do not intend to stay in this form for long. Just a few days, maybe a week. Until I feel confident they are ready to be left to roam in the wild on their own. Then…”

A strange emotion filled her as she thought about her next words, but she suppressed it before continuing. “Then I will be leaving.”

Kalmar nodded understandingly. “Letting your creations go when they are able to fend for themselves is an important step,” he acknowledged. “I will help you teach them how to survive if you want.”

“Of course, any help you can offer is going to be appreciated. Although I have learned from you… I can’t really say I am also confident in my teaching skills…”

“Teaching is what I do, I suppose,” Kalmar realized. “Let’s get started.”

Melantha let out a laugh telepathically at Kalmar’s joke. “Yes, let’s,” she said and flew closer to pick up the two from his hands. During all this time, they had remained silent, simply staring at her humongous form. However, once they found themselves snuggling inside her thick fur, the two immediately awakened from their little reverie and started mewling like crazy. Eventually, however, they fell asleep, tucked in there, safe.

A few weeks later…

“They’ve grown fast,” Kalmar commented, looking down at the two Catats, each now three to four feet in height, as they feasted on a Gardener. Melantha had decided to leave the naming rights to Kalmar, as a compromise for helping her with their training.

“Haven’t they?” Melantha looked at them from above, a happy smile on her face. She had assumed her humanoid form now and was hovering next to Kalmar.

“I’ll admit, I had my doubts when I saw their size. But seeing how large they’ve grown, you’ve done a great job,” Kalmar told her.

“To be honest, I too did not expect them to grow to this size. Caught me off guard as well, but I can’t be more happy with how they ended up.” Melantha had been distancing herself from her two creations gradually since they had grown and acclimated to hunting on their own. However, the whole situation was not as hard as she thought it would be. As if programmed into their instincts, the moment she started distancing herself, they too began to do the same. At first, it would be a couple of hours, then a whole night, then two nights. Their little duo hunting trips would last longer the more they grew up, up until the present day. They had been gone from the “nest” for close to four days, with no sign of wanting to return. The whole thing raised a bittersweet feeling inside Melantha, but she knew this is how it should be and did not complain.

It seemed it was time for her to let them fly away.

Kalmar glanced over to her. She had assumed her old form, and he knew what that meant. As if reading her thoughts, he reached over to put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Feeling his hand, she half-turned her head, glancing at him. She hesitated for a split second, but ever so slowly ended up putting her hand over his. At that moment Melantha realized that she, subconsciously, had forged a connection with Kalmar. All this time spent together, getting to know him as a god through his words and actions, and as a person through the thoughts and feelings he had shared with her that night at the cave, when he seemingly had poured his heart out to her about his problems with the other gods and with himself, made her understand that she wanted to know more about him, to know more about Kalmar the god, as well as Kalmar the person.

These feelings were, honestly, a first for Melantha. She knew she viewed him as an ally, even a friend by now. But these feelings… Melantha found herself unable to explain to herself what these feelings meant. Very quickly, she found herself slowly starting to become overwhelmed by these, very new to her, emotions.

Kalmar looked away and took a deep breath, as if steeling himself for something, before looking back. “I need to say…” he said at last. “I… greatly enjoyed spending this time with you. I…” his voice trailed off as if he was unsure how to continue. But then, mustering all the determination he could, picked it back up. “I’m not familiar with these feelings, and you know I’m not good with words, but I’ve started to care deeply about yo-Ithinkweshouldpartwaysforsometime!”

The sudden outburst stopped Kalmar's words dead in their tracks. The Hunter blinked, leaning backward an inch as if recoiling from a strike. His eyes widened, and his brows raised. “W-what?” he managed to utter, beneath the shock.

It’s a good thing that Kalmar said exactly what was in Melantha’s mind, cause right at that moment, her brain had frozen over in equal shock. She looked at him for a few seconds, her eyes never leaving his. Multitudes of emotions and several changes of facial expressions later, Melantha finally asked in a shaky voice. “I-Is that… What you said, true?”

“I…” the Hunter began, his voice adopting a nervousness that Melantha had never heard from him before. He took a deep breath to recover, and then, with a much calmer voice, spoke one word. “Yes.”

Melantha let out a sigh, lowering her head for a few moments to recollect her thoughts. “I… have been thinking about my place in this world. From the moment I woke up, you’ve been there, by my side, helping me, saving me even.” Kalmar raised his eyebrows, this time in anticipation rather than shock. “But lately I’ve been thinking that maybe, just like how I will be leaving these two,” she said and briefly looked at the two Catats below, now having had finished their meal and grooming themselves, before continuing. “Just how I will be leaving these two, I think it is time I also leave your side. I need to expand my horizons and see what the rest of the world has to offer. You said it yourself, I am a goddess. There are no limits to what I can do. I need to do this… alone.

Kalmar turned away, his gaze seemingly fixed on a tree. He had exposed himself, and left himself vulnerable, only to be struck in the process. It was not intentional, he knew, but it stung nonetheless. For a long time, there was a tense silence as the God of the Hunt worked through his emotions. He took another deep breath and turned back to face her, his expression once again calm and stoic “I unde-”

Kalmar’s voice was cut off as Melantha’s lips connected with his. She stayed like that for a long while, an instinct she did not know she had suddenly welling inside her and forcing her to move her body against her will once more. After a few seconds she pulled back, and now in a weaker, fainter voice, told him. “Y-you did not let me finish my sentence. I need to do this, alone, as I said. However, I have, too, also realized that my feelings for you seem to run deeper than a simple friendship… I think we are not ready for this just yet… I still intend to leave, but I will come back, and when I do, I will bring with me an answer.”

Once again, the shocked expression had returned, mingled with confusion. She had seemingly rejected him, and then went and did this? A gesture which he didn’t fully understand the purpose behind, but instinctively went along with anyway. Perhaps one of his fellow gods, who were better with words or empathy, might have understood what was happening, but this was completely alien to him.

Then she explained herself, and the Hunter sighed with relief. His hands instinctively sought out hers. “Then go. Do what you need to do. And when it’s done, we’ll meet again,” he said, offering that small smile of his.

Melantha looked at him in the eyes, returning the smile before slowly extracting herself. She gradually hovered up and away from him, towards the sky, and right before she broke through the jungle canopy she threw one last look at him. Then, Melantha turned around and took off, the brief light from the Lustrous Garden that had peeked through as she shot through the canopy quickly being blocked again by the thick branches and leaves of Kalgrun’s Southern Jungle.

Kalmar flew upward through the canopy as well but followed no further. He remained where he was, his eyes focused on her back as he watched her leave, growing ever smaller in the distance.

Only when she disappeared over the horizon, vanishing from sight, did the Hunter finally turn away.

M E L A N T H A


Melantha let out an audible sigh as she sat on the ground, her eyes aimlessly wandering about. The bow that Kalmar had left behind was leaning against a large, protruding rock, the quiver sitting atop it. Melantha did not really know why he had left her his bow and arrows, the explanation he had given her not really sitting well with her.

Even if you are stronger than both weapons' powers combined that does not mean you should discard them, especially when heading into a potentially dangerous situation... Melantha grumbled to herself as she absentmindedly dragged her finger on the ground, drawing random shapes on it. Whenever she didn't like something that she had drawn, she would just mess up the soil, covering it up and leaving her with a blank canvas to start again from scratch.

Nevertheless, one can only repeatedly do so much of something before they become bored with it. With a sigh, Melantha stood up and strolled around the cave while all the while looking for something to do. The cave was, for all intents and purposes, quite large. Hmm, I bet Shynir could fit in here if he could squeeze himself through that entrance, Melantha estimated. Thinking about the griffin, however, made her remember all those things Kalmar had told her before he had created it as a demonstration of his powers. About the deities of this world and how she was also one of them.

Remembering how she had failed in her attempt to fly and how Kalmar had, so casually, rushed over to catch her when he had realized she was not going to make it made Melantha understand exactly how weak she was without access to her supposed godly powers. Although he had acted all stern and serious, Melantha had seen and felt the disappointment in his eyes, how he had expected better from her.

She allowed herself a thin smile as she rubbed at her eyes with the palms of her hands, the realization that she had unknowingly put a lot of meaning behind how Kalmar viewed her striking her as quite odd considering it had only been a day or so since their meeting. The sound of water dripping into water entered her ears, however, breaking her off her brooding state.

Tugging the wolf cloak around her tightly, Melantha surveyed her location. Unbeknownst to her, she had wandered quite a way into the cave, absorbed as she was in her thoughts. The light from the entrance was nothing but an afterthought at that point, the darkness having claimed its place as the dominant presence inside the cavern.

Still, Melantha found herself able to traverse the cave’s dark interior chambers with relative ease. Her sight, previously somewhat hindered by the presence of the sun above, was now unfolding a whole new world to her, allowing her to have a crystal clear view of everything inside the cave.

Around her, everything was lined in a subdued film of water due to the moisture in the air making everything damp. Rows of stalactites, hanging from the ceilings like giant icicles made of stone and spikey stalagmites poking up from the floor took up much of the space inside the cave, however, making traveling to some places physically impossible. Melantha even came across a cave wall with some interesting carvings which, she assumed, were created by the water dripping down the side of the stone, eroding it with the passage of time and creating those patterns.

She traced her fingers over the patterns on the wall in some kind of childlike wonder, immersing herself in it for some time. Soon enough, however, she grew bored with it as well and moved on. Like this, Melantha explored the cave and everything inside it before deciding to return back to the entrance, where she and Kalmar had dropped the wolves off.

She stiffly stared at the wolf carcasses for a moment before passing by them, walking to the entrance of the cave. Seems like Heliopolis is almost gone, Melantha thought as she peeked outside. The sun had moved from its previous position of right in the middle of the sky, and she could feel the difference. The light coming from it was relatively subdued and, although still not able to stare straight at it, Melantha was no longer irritated by its presence.

She walked outside the cave and took a moment to stretch her limbs and take in some fresh air. Closing her eyes, Melantha inhaled a deep breath, holding it in for a few seconds before exhaling. She repeated this a couple of times before opening her eyes once more, a satisfied smile plastered across her face. Ahh, getting cooped up in caves is definitely not gonna cut it in the long run. I'll need a reliable way to shield myself from the sun...

Looking at the drifting clouds above, Melantha's thoughts went back to Kalmar. He's sure taking a long time. Hope nothing's wrong with the other god he's meeting...


In Mahz's Dev Journal 6 mos ago Forum: News

You gave a pretty comprehensive answer at that time. I wonder how much the development of an alternative text editor has progressed? @Mahz
M E L A N T H A


The night sky shimmered with the flickering light of stars. The sound of the wind whispering through the trees, coupled with the occasional calling of nocturnal birds gave the coniferous forests of Kalgrun a peculiar but beautiful ambience that could very well be dubbed “nature’s singing voice”.

It was this gentle voice that slowly brought to wakefulness the unconscious form that had so suddenly appeared amidst the trees and bushes of the island in the middle of Hunter’s Eye. The being shifted and moved as it lay there on the cold and lumpy soil. Its long, black hair was damp and clinging to its body, which upon a closer inspection identified the being as female.

And then her eyelids, which until this time were drooping and leaden with sleep, suddenly snapped open, followed by a deep inhalation somewhat akin to a drowning person desperately clutching for air to breathe. Her eyes darted around from tree to bush to rock and back, never staying on one thing for more than a few seconds. She suddenly felt an intense urge to run away, but soon realized, to her dread, that her body would not obey her commands. Her muscles felt stiff and unresponsive, and her head pounded with the most unbearable of headaches. She moaned in pain as she forcefully willed her body to turn around from where she lay.

Now on her stomach, she slowly brought her arms forward, one at a time, and started dragging herself towards a closeby tree. Even with crawling as she was, she could not help but stop multiple times in order to catch her breath and recollect herself, the pain dangerously threatening to overwhelm her.

After what seemed an eternity to her, she managed to sit up by the tree, her back leaning on it for support. She had to look twice to make sure she didn’t carry two logs instead of arms, that’s how heavy they felt to her. The woman sat there, gasping for air, the only thing she could realistically do without feeling much pain. She looked around, taking in her surroundings. The forest canopy emerged as a towering beast above her, a beast with countless twisted and squiggly branches for arms and thick roots for feet. She stayed quiet for the most part as she tried to grasp the situation she had found herself in.

In the distance, a low, pained howl could be heard, drowning out all other sounds. It went on for quite some time, and when it stopped, the forest was completely silent. The woman’s head snapped towards the direction of the howl’s origin, while her heart started beating faster. The first thought that came to her mind was to get up and run away as far away as possible, but that would be unrealistic; she reckoned she could barely stand up as she was, much less run.
But then the howl emerged in her mind once more, and the woman was subconsciously moved by its uniqueness. As if it was calling out to her, somewhere inside of her she could weirdly identify with the being that would let out such a sound, for both of them were wounded, both of them were in pain.

After a few moments of consideration, the woman gritted her teeth and, whilst clutching the tree behind her, slowly pushed herself up into a standing position. When she let go of the tree, she teetered dangerously but soon found her balance. With shaky steps, the woman started to slowly walk towards the direction the howl had come from.

The forest began to thin as she neared the destination until finally, she stepped out of it completely. In front of her was a beach, and at the far end of that beach lay a beast hundreds of times her size. It was a massive wolf, with dark fur. Slowly, it lifted its head and turned toward her. One of its eyes was missing, the surrounding flesh was torn and scratched, blood dripping from the empty socket. The wolf tried to growl, but instead, the growl turned into a high pitched whine, and it set its head back down.

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that she would be abjectly terrified by the sheer size of the thing if it wasn’t for the fact that its current appearance was equally as pitiful as it was intimidating. What could possibly injure such a beast? The woman audibly gulped before she hesitantly started walking towards the giant wolf.

The wolf’s remaining eye watched her every step with wariness, and the beast let out another whine, but it did not move an inch. Perhaps it recognized that she was not a threat, or perhaps there was simply no fight left in it.

It was only when she’d finally reached the wolf’s location that she was able to really gauge its size. It was, well, huge. From afar when she first saw it, it did look large but not as large as it looked from up close. Its head was almost the size of a large boulder with how tall it was. The woman looked at the wolf’s uninjured eye for any signs of aggression but there were none. Feeling an inexplicable boost of confidence, she reached out and gave the beast a shaky pet on its head.

The wolf’s fur felt soft to the touch and the more she petted it, the more she felt like rubbing herself all over it. She slowly descended with her hands towards the front of the wolf’s head, petting behind its ears, or what parts she could realistically reach from where she was standing. She refrained from touching the injured parts of its face, the gruesome wound coupled with the beasts warning growl when her hands strayed a little too close for comfort sending a good enough message to her to stay away from that specific place.

The woman moved closer to the wolf, coming to kneel beside it. With one hand on top of its snout, she looked at its sole, uninjured eye. “Seems like you and me both have seen better days, haven’t we?”

“Have you?” a gruff voice interjected.

The suddenness of the voice nearly gave the woman a heart attack. She miraculously jumped up like a spring despite her body being exhausted as it was and scurried a few meters away forward before dropping back down, her tired body catching up with her racing heart. Turning her head around, she laid her eyes upon the origin of the unannounced voice.

Standing behind her was a blond-haired man with a thick moustache, dressed in animal pelts with a cloak of black fur. One hand gripped a bow, while the other was empty. He eyed her warily. “The Goddess of Darkness,” he observed.

“W-wha-who?” She subconsciously let out as she moved closer to the wolf, figuring that the size of the beast would be enough of a deterrent for the man to not approach her further.

“I’ve been meaning to speak with you,” the man said, his brow furrowing. “I am Kalmar. The God of The Hunt,” he introduced himself with a nod.

The woman processed his words in her brain for a few moments, repeating his name. Kalamar, Kalar, Kalmar, she muttered a few times as she memorized the name of the person in front of her. “Kalmar,” she said once again, with more confidence this time, yet still keeping a guarded stance.

“Okay,” she called out at him. “It would be best you didn’t come closer, Kalmar. This beast here is injured and deadly. I would suggest you slowly left this area and went back to where you came from, else who knows what might happen to you,” she told him after some thought.

Kalmar gave her an amused smirk. “Melantha, you’re more of a threat to me than he is. I’m the one who created him.” The smirk faded. “Why are you here?”

Now that was a shocking revelation. That man was the one responsible for the creation of this gigantic beast? She felt conflicted as her brain and her body told her two different things.

Her brain urged her to move away from the wolf, since if the man told the truth it could mean he could order it to attack her at any moment, yet at the same time her body did not want to leave its vicinity; she had practically hidden herself inside the wolf’s thick fur, with her head being the only thing revealing where she was. “Who is Melantha?” she asked him in the end. “I assure you I am not a threat to you or your little friend here if what you are saying about creating him is true after all…”

Kalmar frowned, his expression shifting to disapproval. “Is this an act? You are Melantha. We were all given an understanding of each other when we were first brought to this world. I know who you are, and you know who I am.”

“No, I don’t know who you or ‘we’ are. I woke up in this forest, alone and hurt. I heard this beast howling from afar and so I came here to see what was happening. I didn’t expect to find something like this, however…” She replied, her expression softening a little as she remembered the wolf’s wound and the pain it conveyed with its howls.

Kalmar’s frown deepened. “You woke up in the forest… where were you before that?” he asked curiously.

”Before? Before that I was… I was…” The woman tried to remember, but alas she could not. At that moment, the splitting headache from before that had by now abated came back with a vengeance. She moaned in pain and clutched her head with her hands, curling up into a ball and rolling out of the wolf’s fur. She writhed there as she lay on the ground, unable to make the headache stop.

One second and a few steps later, Kalmar was kneeling beside her, an expression of what seemed to be concern on his face. For a moment, he only watched, uncertain. Then, he removed his cloak and wrapped it around her.

The bout of headache lasted for close to an hour in real time before alleviating, and it left the woman completely and utterly drained. She was from head to toe drenched in sweat, her breath shallow and ragged. Her eyes wandered around aimlessly as she tried to regain her senses. The first thing she felt as she stirred was something thick but soft covering her whole body. She slowly brought her arms out of the cover and over it and shifted to the right where she found herself face to face with a campfire. The dancing flames of the fire helped her focus, allowing her to sort her thoughts.

Kalmar was not far. He sat next to the fire as well, his bow resting on the ground next to him. In each hand he had a stick, and at the end of each stick was a fish. With a focused expression he held both over the fire, and the smell of cooked fish reached her nose. He looked over to her. “You’re awake,” he observed.

“Yes I am, and so are you,” she replied in a cutting manner. “Did you watch over me the whole time?” she asked, her eyes darting to the fish and back at him.

“Only most of it,” Kalmar shrugged. “I had to look away to make the fire, and to catch these,” he raised one of the sticks to indicate the fish. “I still need to talk to you.”

“Ugh,” the woman shifted back to lying on her back and looked at the stars in the night sky. “Talk, talk, talk… what is the point of talking? I can’t remember anything before my awakening in this place,” she said with a sad tone on her voice. “And you saw what happened when I tried to recall something. There’s no way I am doing more of that anytime soon…”

Kalmar was silent. Wordlessly, he pulled the sticks away from the fire, stood up and walked over to her, offering one of them. She grabbed it wearily and muttered thanks before sinking her teeth into the fish. Then, the Hunter spoke. “So you remember nothing? What if, instead of remembering, I told you?” he asked.

“Told me?” She questioned between bites. “And how do I know that what you say to me aren’t lies?”

”You don’t,” came the blunt response. The woman stopped and turned her head towards him, looking at him straight in the eyes. After a few moments, she sighed and turned back to eating. “I guess I don’t have much to lose by hearing you out. I want to learn what is going on as much as you do…”

“Before we came here, this land was just water,” Kalmar began, taking a bite out of his own fish. “Then the Architect brought us here, pulling in countless souls from elsewhere. For some reason, some of us stood out from the others, so he made us into gods. He gave us the ability to create and alter the world, and we did, but we each had a different name and a different purpose. Your name is Melantha, and you are the Goddess of Darkness.”

She listened as she ate, taking in the new information. The Architect? Souls? Gods? She did not recall anything of that sort. “So you say my name is Melantha?” She asked absentmindedly as she repeated the name in her mind just as she did with Kalmars. “Melantha, Melantha, Melantha… I like how it rolls off the tongue.” Melantha thought to herself with a small smile. She finished the last of the fish and threw the bones and stick into the fire before swallowing. “What is a god?”

“It is a good name,” Kalmar acknowledged, before deciding to address her more important question. “A god is a being that can shape the land and create life. This land that we are on now, I raised from the sea. And as I said, that wolf, Fenris,” he gestured to the massive form of the wolf, which was now fast asleep, “is also my creation. I made other things as well. You probably made things too, before you lost your memory, but I don’t know what.”

“Yeah no. I doubt I can raise land out of nothing like you claim you can,” Melantha said dismissively. She then turned her head towards the sleeping form of the wolf and looked at it for a few moments before turning back. “Show me,” she told him.

Kalmar frowned. “I won’t be raising another continent, if that’s what you’re expecting,” he said. “We have enough land already, and the last time took a lot out of me. But I can make something…” and with those words, he turned his back and stepped away from the fire. Closing his eyes, he concentrated.

The creature that materialized before him was similar one he had made before. It was half lion, half bird, and more than twice his size, but where the feathers would have normally been brown they were instead a shiny black. Perhaps that alone might have been enough to impress her, but he did not stop there. The creature began to grow, and grow, and grow until it was roughly half the size of the wolf.

Then, it stopped, and Kalmar opened his eyes. The giant griffin looked around, expanded its wings, and let out a screech that jolted Fenris awake. The wolf immediately rose and began growling at the strange creature, but Kalmar raised a hand. ”Down!” he ordered, and Fenris obediently laid back down.

If even the wolf was surprised by the appearance of the strange half-lion, half-bird beast, imagine Melantha’s surprise to see something so extraordinary happen right in front of her eyes. She never in a million years expected to be proven wrong in her assumption that Kalmar had been faking it all. And to top it all, the wolf’s obeisance to him, it staying down when ordered, also gave validity to what he said earlier about having created the beast.

Melantha was shooketh. She laid back down, trying to make sense of everything that she had experienced up until this point. From waking up alone inside a strange forest, having forgotten everything before that, to finding a giant injured wolf lying by the side of a lake, to meeting a strange man that claimed both he and her were superpowered beings with reality manipulating powers and finally finding out that all this was seemingly the truth and not some joke was a lot to take in.

She eventually stood up, fur cover and all, and walked towards Kalmar and the strange beast he had created. “What is it? Can I pet it?” She asked him curiously.

“A griffin,” Kalmar answered with a smile. “I’ve made them before, but not this big. It needs a name...” the Hunter stroked his chin, thinking.

Melantha tentatively put her hand on the griffin’s feathered neck and slowly petted the lion-bird. She found herself especially drawn into its dark feathers and how they would shine when reflecting the light from the stars in the night sky. “What about… Shynir?” Melantha suggested.

“It works,” Kalmar agreed. “Shynir it is…” And then his feet lifted off the ground, and he was floating. He reached out a hand to Melantha, clearly expecting her to grab on.

“What? You can’t expect me to get on that thing now, can you?” She told him with an incredulous look on her face. “No, I’m fine just looking at it, thank you very much.”

Kalmar frowned. “I could just leave without you,” he suggested with a shrug.

“And you would leave your wolf over there all alone and wounded? That doesn’t seem like something a responsible owner would do…” Melantha replied.

“Fenris is far stronger than he looks,” Kalmar countered. “He will be back to health soon enough.”

“Ugh, fine…” Melantha conceded in the end. Kalmar was seemingly intent on getting her to ride the griffin and she was running out of excuses to prevent it from happening. She reluctantly grabbed Kalmar’s hand and was immediately floated up and towards him. “Whoa,” she exclaimed as she saw the ground distancing itself from where she was.

“You have the power to do this yourself. I will show you later,” Kalmar informed her as they rose higher. He set her down on the griffin’s back and then sat down in front of her. “Hold on,” he advised.

“Hold on from where? This thing doesn’t exactly have much to hold on to” she complained as she got herself comfortable atop the griffin.

“To me,” he advised, with a slight shake of his head. “Alright,” Melantha said and put her hands on either side of Kalmar’s waist. “I’m ready,” she informed him.

Kalmar coughed. “Alright,” he said after a moment, trying to remember the griffin’s name. “Shynir, we head west!”

The griffin let out another screech, and with a flap of its wings it took off, much to Melantha’s dismay.

M E L A N T H A


Norsvold had seen no changes during Melantha's absence to visit Katharsos' realm and as such, she found it just as she had left it upon returning. The same dark soil covered the land, not at all differentiating from the solid ground beneath it. No light fell upon these dark lands, no sound echoed through the valleys and canyons. There were no rivers, no lakes. The cold grasp of the dark ore that made up the floating landmass gave little to no chance for warmth to emanate from it. Nothing could take root and grow and thus nothing could really flourish in such a barren land.

And yet, Melantha always found herself distracted by the simple beauty of such scenery. At first, she would walk aimlessly amidst the rocky landscape, pondering on things beyond her control. She would do that for what would seem a long time to her, but to a mortal would be like thousands of lifetimes. Her walks would usually take her all over Norsvold, from its deepest crevices to its highest points, but there was one particular location she cherished the most. In the past, it had been the grandest peak of Norsvolds largest mountain range, but due to a particular event, it was reduced to a measly second-grade mountain with a peculiar flat top. Nevertheless, although there were higher peaks from where she could see more of Norsvold, Melantha liked this peak for this is where she had made her resolve to forget clear to herself.

Sparing one last glance upon the bare but picturesque to her eyes - now healed and able to see once more - land of Norsvold below, Melantha turned around and walked towards the centre of the tableland, having readied herself for what was to come. As she walked, the darkness around her thrummed silently as if it was alive and worried about her safety. It curled and coiled around her form, tightening its grip on her, softly urging her to not go through with it. Nevertheless, Melantha simply smiled bitterly, and after a split second of hesitation, waved the darkness off.

For the first time since her awakening, Melantha found herself completely naked. Although being a deity had its perks in that she was naturally impervious to many hazards that would kill mortals a thousandfold, the protection her coat of darkness provided had been more of the mental variety rather than something physical. It had been there for practically all of her existence since her awakening, not once leaving her side. It was a reminder and the last mental barrier she had to overcome before she allowed herself to continue with her plan.

Her slow and deliberate stride gave her a chance to reflect upon what had happened thus far. How she had visited Katharsos' realm and finding out about souls and the afterlife he had created, to revealing her secret ambitions to him in order to gain his trust and help, all culminating in her learning from him how to erase the memories off of a soul. Thinking back to it, Melantha could not help but imprint this favour of his to her heart. "Once he decided to help, he gave his undivided attention to our lessons, something that speaks volumes for his character. Thanks to him I am now capable of attempting this with some measure of certainty, but just because he personally taught me doesn't change the fact that I can and may still fail in this endeavour..."

Soon Melantha came to a stop after reaching the center of the flat-top. She made a circle around herself absentmindedly, her eyes closed, her pitch-black hair flowing behind her lazily. In the end, when she realized that she could not stall any longer, she decided to just go for it. Her preparations were ample, her determination was set.

With a deep breath, she found herself hovering high above the mountain range. Her eyes shot wide open, pupils dilating so far as to cover the whole of her irises. She felt the energy circulating through her body, from her toes to her legs, to her torso and arms and finally, her head where her soul, the seed and root of her existence resided.

A deep and excruciating pain immediately erupted the moment she let the energy breach into her mind. Melantha gritted her teeth, however, and persevered through it. She knew that something like this was bound to happen as she had practised the same thing with Katharsos numerous times. A brute force attack to the soul's defences was needed in order for them to be weakened enough for the Pyres to infiltrate the soul and burn away its memories. Of course, something like that was already difficult enough to do with a normal mortal soul, much less one that had been inundated with divine essence since its birth. Such a soul, through the passage of time, would undoubtedly come to absorb and be moulded into a more resilient and more powerful version of its former self.

The exact moment the energy infiltrated her soul it started eating away at everything it came upon. Melantha followed the teachings of Katharsos and wielded her powers in order to reign in the rampaging energy, quickly taking control of it. Under her guidance, the now somewhat tamed energy washed over her soul, which had by now started faintly glowing with a faint orange hue, a sign of the soul burning process having commenced.

On the outside, a fine sheen of sweat had covered Melantha's body. The soul burning ritual's effects had never been tested on a soul with a live body, of course, and as such Melantha had no way of knowing what would happen to her body in this state. As she progressed deeper into her well of memories, the glowing of her soul increased in intensity exponentially, and so did the physical phenomena resulting from the ritual. Soon enough, the heat emitted from Melantha would become strong enough to vaporize her sweat into steam that would slowly rise up and spread around, binding with the dark energy of the Sphere to create something unexpected.

Nevertheless, the goddess of darkness did not have the luxury to think about anything other than maintaining her control over the ritual. She mentally materialized in form along the soul burning energy waves, flying one step ahead of them and scanning each and every memory cluster she passed, making sure to erect a protective bubble over the ones that were not to be erased by the ritual. The flames rushed over, quickly engulfing the protected clusters and battering the shields with force, unlike anything Melantha had ever seen before. Melantha felt both excitement at the prospect of finally being free of what troubled her, as well as a certain level of fear towards the power of what Katharsos had created. The principles of the ritual were very closely tied to the actual way the Pyres worked, just on a smaller scale.

Eventually, after a long, gruelling amount of time, Melantha finally reached the end as well as the beginning of where it all had started. After passing countless clusters of memories, protecting some while seeing others burn into ashes, Melantha arrived in front of the cluster that contained her memories of the first moments of her awakening. She plunged right into the memory bubble and was immediately returned to that time. She could feel, hear, smell and taste everything as if she had returned to the past, but her sight was dislocated from her body, placed high above where she could see everything that was transpiring, akin to what an outsider, a spectator if you will, would see.

The awakening of her fellow gods and goddesses was not something that had particularly intrigued Melantha enough to pay attention to at the time, but her mind still processed the sensory inputs from that time and stored them as memories, enabling her to now once more see the events as they unfolded. Narzhak, Urhu, Parvus, Li'Kalla, Vakk, Anzillu, Aelius, Kalmar, Azura, Seihdhara, Orvus and many more, Melantha watched as deities sprouted here and there, each and every one different from the other, each and every one with their own little unique reaction to their awakening. Image after image, Melantha watched them taking their first steps, meeting their fellows and forging relationships. And then there was her, alone and distanced from the rest of the deities. Looking at her past self's face, Melantha could feel those same emotions she felt at that time emerge once again. Overwhelmed by mostly confusion, as well as a sense of loss at what to do drove Melantha of that time to ask that fateful question.

'Why?'

Over and over again, that word, as well as the answer that followed it echoed through her mind. 'What could you hope to know of such things? Your mind could not fathom what I am.' The Architect's sole eye rolled around as he replied before addressing the rest of the pantheon. 'My cause is beyond your understanding, but my instructions are not. When I give them, I expect that they will be obeyed.'

Even though what she was seeing was nothing more than a recording of the past, Melantha could not help but mentally shiver at hearing those words once more. For a split second, she came very close to losing control of the soul burning energy, however after quickly regaining her wits and with that, her resolve to finish what she started, her ethereal form restructured itself and exited the memory bubble.

"Enough doubting, it's time for action." With that affirmation in mind, Melantha steered the flames towards that specific cluster of memories, concentrating her everything in making sure to wipe it out of her mind for good. The flames rushed like a ravenous scourge towards the unprotected memories, quickly gnawing away at them, incinerating them into ash that slowly drifted away. One by one, the scenes of the gods' first steps disappeared from Melantha's memories, and while the burning of smaller, more insignificant memories did not put much mental strain on Melantha's psyche, this memory was one of the most fundamental memories that made her who she was. Understandably so, the moment the flames first licked the edges of the memory, Melantha was put under an incalculable amount of pain. A pain even worse than what she felt when Asceal and Aelius first lit up their creation that drove away half the darkness in the universe. Melantha let out a prolonged howl of anguish, her body instinctively taking over to abate the pain as much as possible.

Little by little, the flames ate up the memory. At the end, there was only one small part of it left hovering inside Melantha's mindscape, but by that time Melantha felt utterly exhausted and numb. Her sight was blurry, her eyes red from all the tears she had shed. In front of her mental projection was what was left of the Architect's towering body, his large, circular eye. Melantha stared at it with a deadpan expression on her face, and the eye stared back at her equally. And even though Melantha knew that the eye was nothing more than a figment of her imagination and of the past, she could not help but instinctively feel anger welling up inside of her. She did not know why she felt angry anymore, why this eye irritated and disgusted her. She only knew that she had to be rid of it, and fast. She drew upon every remaining ounce of power she had left and reignited the flames of soul burning before turning them towards the last remaining piece of the past she detested so much. This final attack took the form of a spiralling spear of mixed golden-black flames that was backed by both Melantha's power as well as the inherent memory-erasing properties of Katharsos' Pyres.

The impact was monumental. As the flaming spear smashed on top of the Architect's eye, a blinding flash of light instantly covered everything within Melantha's line of sight. Following this, an immense amount of force rebounded towards Melantha, instantly annihilating her mental projection. A shockwave rippled through her soul, vaporizing every and all memories the goddess had previously so naively protected. Outside, her body immediately slouched to the side, but as her Sphere lacked gravity to pull her down to the ground, she just hung there for a few seconds before rapidly fading away from existence. After the light faded out, Melantha's soul was nothing but a dark and empty space, the only thing remaining in it having seemingly replaced the eye, a cryptic set of words that soon faded away to nothing as well.

"I shan't be disobeyed..."


VEC'S COMPENDIUM OF CHA/RS AND OTHER INFO


  • Melantha, the Dark Flower, Goddess of Darkness
M E L A N T H A


The silence of space was truly comforting. Melantha drifted for an unknown amount of time, her body carried through the void on the dregs of residual energy borrowed from the explosion of the asteroid.

The collision between Aelius and the rock had been cataclysmic, to say the least. Melantha had barely managed to escape the immediate blast zone when the resulting shockwaves reached her. She had quickly erected a barrier to protect herself, but the sheer force of it pushed her away with a might unlike no other. Nevertheless, that was her goal, the only way she could think of that would enable her to escape relatively unscathed.

And she did, indeed, escape, but soon after doing so, she fell unconscious. Be it from the force of the shockwave or the shock from Aelius' attack penetrating through the seed of power she left behind, the dark goddess ended up in a comatose state, drifting endlessly in the space between Spheres.

At some point, however, she awoke to the sound of her breathing, a unique sound amidst the silence of her surroundings. Breathing... What is breathing? Did she breathe? If yes, what did she breathe? Why did she breathe? Melantha clutched her head with a frown; her thinking was all jumbled up as if enveloped by dark fog. She made to open her eyes, but they would not obey her will. Softly touching her eyes with her fingers let her discover that they were swollen and puffy, and whenever she prodded them acute pain shot straight through her body.

Melantha sighed when she realized that she might have inadvertently been blinded in the aftermath of the attack. Pitch-black darkness poured out of her mouth, transforming into a blindfold that covered her eyes completely. The way it melded in with her dark mane not only didn't take away from her overall look but gave the goddess an even more mystifying appearance.

Reaching deep inside her mind, she brought forth the mental map she had previously created while she had been travelling around the upper spheres atop the Architect's crystal. The goddess' lone form melded into the starry background as she slowly propelled herself towards the direction of her Sphere.

Melantha was almost halfway to her Sphere when her divine sense picked up on a massive release of energy an extraordinary distance away from her location. Her eyes had yet to heal, Melantha had no idea when or if they would do so, and thus she was not able to discern what exactly had caused it, but she could feel the ripples in space caused by it and that they were rapidly coming towards her. Fortunately, the distances involved meant that the shockwave had lost much of its energy when it eventually reached her, and what remained was easy to repel with Melantha's powers.

However, that didn't mean that the goddess was not curious about the origins of this event. On the contrary, an event of such proportions must have surely been the doing of one of the other deities. "The question is, which one?"

Finally arriving back at her Sphere did take some time, but Melantha did not really mind the silence that accompanied interspheral travel. It allowed her to ponder on things that she would otherwise not have the time or will to think about, like the Architect's plans for example. She had vowed to herself that she would not bother with the Architect more and instead focus on her own self and what she wanted to do with her time in this universe, but that was obviously not the case.

The goddess sat on the edge of the, now flat, mountain peak of Norsvold's former tallest mountain. With her legs dangling over the edge, Melantha laid back, bringing her arms up to form a cushion for her head. A deeply conflicted look hid behind the blindfold she had donned as she thought about her actions since her summoning to the Architect's realm.

She should not have so blatantly ignored potential threats to her existence in the forms of other deities. While she had been focusing on the Architect and his hidden agenda, Asceal and Aelius had already started scheming against her.

"But those words..." Thinking back to what Aelius had told her during their brief interchange, Melantha could not help but feel the fire that was her anger reignite. Contribution? He would talk about their "contribution" that was light as if it was the most essential thing for the universe's function but did not even spare a thought about her own contribution of darkness, and how their creation fundamentally opposed everything that Melantha stood for. He even had the audacity to say she was offended by it when offended could not even qualify as a negative feeling when compared to all the other feelings that Melantha had been drowning in at that point in time.

Pain, terror, disgust, apprehension, wrath. The list went on and on, and truly, had Asceal been the sole perpetrator behind the creation of that detestable light beam, Melantha did not know if she would have been able to restrain herself from escalating the situation beyond what could be salvaged. Apart from the fact that Melantha would have to face off against two deities, she also realised another thing the moment Aelius' divine essence came in contact with her seed of power; the Sphere she had attacked had not actually been Asceal's Sphere, but Aelius'. "Why would they place that thing in Aelius' Sphere and not Asceal's? This does not make any sense..."

Melantha clutched her head as she felt a sharp pain shoot through her once more. The headaches had been getting worse and worse as time passed, and Melantha had an idea why. Her inquisitive mind was clashing with her purpose, the reason for her existence that had been imprinted upon her soul by the Architect. To bring darkness was her prerogative, Melantha saw no inherent fault in it. What she did not like, however, was the forceful nature in which such a purpose had been thrust upon her, as well as the cryptic responses she received from the Architect when she questioned him on his reason why he'd summoned her, when her reason for existing had nothing to do with creation or managing and populating his universe. "And it's not only me..."

No, Melantha also thought about certain other deities that she shared this predicament with. The tentacled deity, Anzillu; the desolate one, Orvus; strife personified, Narzhak. Those were but a few that fit the bill. The headache intensified once more. No matter how much she thought about it, she could not make out what was going on.

So she chose to forget. Forget everything that had happened, that will happen. Forgetting was easier said than done, however. The mind of a god was a complex thing that would take time to completely decipher, but fortunately for her, a potential shortcut had appeared in the form of another deity's creation.

Melantha raised her hand, spreading her fingers wide and from within her palm, a small grey bead emerged. At first glance, this bead was nothing more than a grey, circular rock. But upon closer inspection, one would discover that it was actually ash, compacted tightly in the form of a bead. Melantha had recently noticed this kind of ash passing through the boundaries of her Sphere and had thus collected some to analyze, mainly out of curiosity. So one could imagine her surprise upon realizing that the ash had actually been burned down soul essence. What clued her to this was the fact that the ash faintly emitted energy that was familiar to her, the same kind of energy she had felt from the torrent of souls she had accompanied on her way to the Architect's universe, back when she had also been nothing more than a soul drifting in the endless Beyond.

Following her discovery, Melantha exited her Sphere and started searching for the origin of the soul ash, and she soon came upon another deity's Sphere, Katharsos'. That moment exactly was the moment Melantha decided on her plan of action. To forget meant to let go, but letting go entailed losing everything.

Melantha absorbed the ash back inside her body and stood up. Right there on the edge of the cliff, the dark goddess stood, and although she could not see the sheer height of the drop in front of her with her own two eyes, she could feel the emptiness.

Confrontation
Feat. @Aristo & @Crispy Octopus & @Vec


In the vast void that exists between Spheres, disturbances are rare and few in between. However rare though it may be, the occasional energy current resulting from the essence diffused from the Spheres' mingling and merging with one another or the divine traces of a god's journey through space, are still nothing compared to the sheer magnitude of disruption that Melantha's action brought upon the upper layers of the universe. Travelling as she was through space, passing by, and in some cases through, other Spheres, with no consideration of potential consequences for her actions meant that the current situation was indeed very dangerous, potentially even catastrophic. Nevertheless, Melantha was not in the right state of mind to think about said consequences. Acting based mainly on instinct and anger towards Asceal and her actions, Melantha's clouded mind could think of only two things that would alleviate her distressed psyche: Destroy the source of light, or if that is not achievable, at least make Asceal pay dearly for her transgression.

The distance from her Sphere to Asceal's was quite large and considering Melantha's delayed response - due to her being busy with the creation of Norsvold and the definitive binding of the Sphere to herself - made for a quite a long journey for the dark goddess. However, with her godly sight in play, Melantha did not once lose sight of her target, one could find it hard to do so anyway for the light coming from it seemed to be able to pierce everything in its path. With the distance slowly shortening, Melantha could feel the strength of the light beam increase exponentially. She could not imagine how Asceal could create such a thing so soon after being summoned by the Architect. With her destination now very close, the contrast between the sizes of the conically shaped rock and the goddess that was riding it made for a very impressive image indeed.
Aelius narrowed his eyes as the chariot sped through the cosmos. He was still getting used to his godhood and hadn't entertained the possibility of conflict with his fellows so soon. But when he peered through his mind's eye at a wrathful Melantha and the rocky missile speeding for Heliopolis, some primal instinct told him to fight. He risked a glance at Asceal beside him. Her eyelids were heavy, shoulders slumped. The counstruction of the Lustrous Gardens - without his help - had taken a toll on her. Stopping Melantha would be Aelius's prerogative.

In the distance, Heliopolis came into view, as did a dark object, hurtling towards the sphere. Aelius gasped as his chariot sped closer. His mind-link with Heliopolis had shown him Mel's approach, but only now, seeing with his own eyes, did he realise the size of the mountaintop she rode. The damage would be considerable. Worse still, what would happen if it collided with the Furnace? He'd taken measures to contain its power and focus its light in a singular beam on Galbar, but if Melantha broke through the dome... The god of virtue swore and snapped the reins hard.

"Melantha!" Aelius's voice boomed across space. "Turn back!"

"Huh?" Melantha's eyes widened as her ears picked up on the unfamiliar voice calling out to her. Turning her head around, her eyes scanned the distance until she pinpointed a tiny speck of light that was slowly gaining in size. Only after zooming in on the light did she realize that it was actually a glittering chariot speeding towards her. The light from Asceal's Sphere was reflecting off the surface of the chariot combined with the sheer distances involved gave the illusion of shooting star whizzing across the night sky.

"Is that... Aelius?" Melantha frowned when she realised that the one driving the chariot was actually not Asceal. Gears turned in her head and she quickly put two and two together; Asceal and Aelius had actually collaborated on the creation of the light beam.

"Not entirely unexpected, however..." Considering what information she had of the two deities, Asceal and Aelius shared many similar traits, and thus an alliance between the two wasn't outside the scope of what was possible.

However, Melantha had long resolved herself to finish with what she had started. One more god joining the fray not only not scare her away, but actually fueled her rage even more. Nevertheless, she swallowed her anger and closed her eyes, and at once her divine sense was sent out towards Aelius.

"Turn back? Did you really just tell me to turn back? And why would I do that now? You did not think about the consequences before you made your little toy here that sniffed out half of all the darkness in the universe. Did you really think there would be no retaliation?" Melantha sent telepathically, the link between the two gods projecting both her thoughts as well as her emotions, her boiling rage threatening to overwhelm the opposing deity.

Darkness was Melantha's prerogative, and Aelius realised his and Asceal's efforts must have seemed offensive. But he was all too aware of the good that would come from them that the goddess did not account for.

"Don't be naive," Aelius replied. "Do you think all those souls are content to wander Galbar in darkness for the rest of their existences? Could life exist without light and warmth to nourish it?" The chariot was close now, and Aelius could see Melantha's face brimming with anger.

"You can't be so selfish. The Architect entrusted all of us to give something to Galbar, and you choose to destroy our contribution because you find it offensive? I implore you to reconsider, Melantha."

Reconsider... Melantha could see the chariot approaching and could now distinguish the faces of the riders. Yes, there were two riding on the chariot. Aelius' facial expression and words surfaced in her mind once more and for a moment the dark goddess hesitated. "The Architect..." An image of the arch-deity came appeared in front of Melantha, His eye full of scorn and judgement staring right through her soul.

Melantha brought a hand to her face, the other one clutching her chest as if she was experiencing pain. The mountainous asteroid's acceleration slowed down during this time. Evidently, the mentioning of the Architect had struck Melantha's chords. With a grunt, the goddess of darkness brought her hands down, striking and digging into the mountain peak. Instantly the asteroid pulsed, and the purple and black halo around it brightened even more. Melantha's rage was like a fire stoked up by Aelius' words, and she no longer cared about what the god of virtue said or did.

She homed in at Asceal's Sphere, and the asteroid picked up speed once more.

The journey hadn't been nearly long enough for Asceal to recuperate, and exhaustion had kept her silent, but upon seeing Aelius's words only aggravate Melantha she straightened. So Melantha wouldn't listen to reason then? Disappointing, but not surprising. Asceal trusted in the Architect, believed in his power and wisdom, but she could not even fathom why he had permitted such a callous and destructive creature into his domain.

As Melantha sped towards Heliopolis Asceal's form grew brighter and brighter, until she and Aelius were lost in the glow. From the brilliant light that obscured the two gods, Asceal spoke, her voice audible in the minds of all those present, "I should have known you would turn to violence, shadow. After all, what else is there for darkness? Very well Melantha, charge into Heliopolis and see what happens when you stand alone against your betters."

She paused and let the message sink in as Aelius chariot propelled them towards his sphere. For all Melantha was a god, for all darkness threatened, Asceal trusted in the simple truth that they were two and Melantha was one. Still, she was not ready for a fight. With that in mind, and before any could reply, she offered Melantha a chance, "Or if you've any sense at all, leave this place before we are forced to make you."

A bright light, almost rivalling that emitted from the Sphere in front of her emerged from behind her, and Asceal's voice entered Melantha's mind. Melantha could feel her darkness being pierced by the light with every passing second, diminishing its power rapidly. Alas, if words were enough to stop Melantha, Aelius' would have been enough. No, the goddess was determined to send a message, that she would not let attacks on her domain go unpunished. A portion of Asceal's words rang true, however. In all of her fury, Melantha had retained enough clarity of mind to understand that going against two gods would not be in her favour and as such devised a simple and effective plan that would allow her to deal the most amount of damage while at the same time giving her a sure-fire way of escaping the two deities.

With her hands deep inside the rock she rode upon, Melantha poured her power into it with renewed vigour. Vein-like patterns, the very same patterns that appeared back when she had been creating the landmass from which the asteroid originated, appeared once again on her face and skin. The patterns quickly spread outwards, latching onto the nearby rocky surfaces as well as digging deep inside the asteroid. For an instant, Melantha and the asteroid fused together, and the dark goddess deposited a seed of her power inside the rocky missile, before retracting the patterns back to herself.

Rising up, Melantha opened her arms wide, her body facing the rapidly approaching Sphere in front of her. A smirk appeared on her face as she readied herself for the imminent collision.

When words had failed, there was only one option left. Aelius handed the reins to Asceal and with a roar of defiance, climbed over the lip of the chariot and hurled himself into the path of the asteroid. In seconds, it was before him. With all his might, he slammed fist-first into the projectile. There was a burst of light and chunks of rock flew in all directions. Aelius gritted his teeth as the momentum pulled him through the core of the asteroid. Rocks sliced and bruised his skin.

It was over in seconds. Aelius cleared the other side, emerging into open space. Of the goddess Melanthia, there was no sign. In fact, there was no sign of anything. He blinked, once, twice, then wiped his eyes. He could see nothing but pitch black. In rupturing Melantha's seed of power, he had exposed himself to pure darkness, and it clung to him like oil. Frantically, he reached out, hoping to grab hold of something, anything, to stop his momentum.

"Aelius!" Asceal cried as her friend collided with Melantha's asteroid. The God of Virtue's impact smashed the vast stone to pieces and he vanished inside what was rapidly becoming an expanding field of debris. With a curse, Asceal steered the chariot closer to rubble. Her light dimmed back to normal and, ever aware of the speed at which the shattered stone was hurtling towards the city below, she searched frantically for Aelius or Melantha.

After what seemed like an eternity she found Aelius, covered in sickening darkness, but Melantha seemed to have long since fled. Without wasting another moment Asceal piloted the chariot towards him and grabbed his outstretched hand before pulling him onboard and, much to her disgust, getting Melantha's darkness on her own glowing form.

She brought the chariot to a halt and watched as the fragments of stone pelted Heliopolis below, demolishing buildings across the city but leaving the Furnace and its host palace intact. With a sigh, she turned to face Aelius, "The detestable shadow is gone Aelius, and the Furnace is safe. Now hold still while we deal with this... This filth!"

"Heliopolis," Aelius rasped, "it still stands?" Though he couldn't see beyond the cloud of darkness that enveloped him, Asceal's voice and touch were a comfort. His chest heaved up and down with laboured breathing.

"It does," Asceal paused, "Not unscathed though. There will have to be repairs."

Aelius's head bent low, but he nodded. He'd done what he could in the heat of the moment. "Where's Melantha? Is she gone?"

"I believe so," Asceal took a moment to survey the space around them, and the city below, "The shadow must have fled when you attacked. I'm sorry I wasn't more helpful, I hadn't expected her to go to such extremes even then."

Aelius waved a hand. "Neither of us did. If this is how it's going to be, we'll need to be more careful. As for this..." He ran his hands over his skin, slick with Melantha's darkness. "I can't see or feel a thing. To the Furnace - I have an idea that won't require you to expend yourself any more."

Asceal nodded, hesitated when she realized Aelius couldn't see her and spoke as she brought the Chariot into Heliopolis, "We're heading to it now. I am worried though, my sphere sits unguarded and I hadn't the foresight to ward it against intruders. If it isn't a burden to you I would like to depart to ignite my own Furnace once you've cleansed yourself of Melantha's influence, and before she realizes another exists."

"Agreed. We'll have to play it safe now that we know at least one of our peers is against us," Aelius said. The chariot stopped in front of the palace and Asceal guided him to his feet. The pair slowly made their way up the stairways and halls until they reached the dome on the roof. When Aelius had gotten his bearings, he clamped his eyes shut and stumbled forwards into the beam of light.

Aelius's whole body tensed as the heat of the Furnace shocked his nerves. It was like walking into an inferno. He fought back the urge to leap away, though the alarms ringing in his body screamed for it. Though his eyes were shut, his vision went red, lit by the Furnace just on the other side of the lens. The aura of darkness around him ebbed and crackled before it finally gave way.

"Aelius, that's enough!" Asceal cried. At her cue, the god leapt out of the beam and sank to the floor. Ribbons of steam hissed from his skin, darkened by the heat, but the oily blackness was gone.

"Go," he said weakly. "Your sphere needs you. I'll be fine."

Asceal's brow creased in concern, but with a nod, she did as he asked. Melantha, for all she was a vile creature, was no fool. She had already gone so far as to attack Heliopolis, and it was only a matter of time until the dark Goddess realized there were two furnaces. Impelled by that thought Asceal hastily made her way to the Chariot outside the palace and departed Heliopolis for her own sphere.

Her Furnace awaited her.
M E L A N T H A


The ride on the crystal had been short and uneventful. The former because her Sphere was apparently located right under the Barrier, and the latter because what could possibly happen this early on inside this empty universe? As she passed the boundaries that separated the Barrier and the rest of the universe, Melantha felt her connection to the Architect's Sphere being severely weakened. Extending her divine sense outwards, she probed the Barrier while speeding away from it due to the crystal, but found it unresponsive. "Getting outside is easy, getting inside is hard, huh?"

Brushing that thought aside, Melantha faced her destination once again. As the crystal whizzed through the darkness of space, Melantha scanned all the areas she passed by, making a mental map in her head using the different currents of energy permeating the universe as beacons for certain locations.

After some time, Melantha's crystal finally approached the boundary of her own Sphere, and she could instantly feel a faint string of essence connecting her with it. When she passed through the thin, liquid-like wall and into the Sphere, Melantha was greeted by a vast stretch of emptiness. At that moment, she realised that her Sphere did not have an actual core or a place from which its power originated. In a sense, the Architect had given her a clean slate to work with.

The crystal had stopped as it had reached its destination, but Melantha did not care about transportation anymore. With darkness enveloping her, she stepped off the platform and into the void, yet her eyes did not leave the crystal's surface. She willed it to rise up and closer to her face, examining it further. She prodded it with her senses, touched it and poked it with her fingers, even broke a piece off of it and bit into it to test its strength. Needless to say, her teeth cut through it like there was nothing there in the first place. Nevertheless, the Architect's power intrigued Melantha. The way he had so easily dispatched Seihdhara had left quite the impression on her.

"Hmm, maybe I should keep this around. Who knows, I might be able to find out a thing or two more about his powers..." Melantha clearly did not trust the information that the Architect gave out to the gods.

With that thought in mind, the goddess called upon her power and a black vortex of darkness emerged from the palm of her right hand, which she then brought forward to touch the crystal. The moment the strange rock made contact with Melantha's hand, it started getting absorbed inside it. It only took a few seconds for it to be completely devoured by her. When she finished, the black vortex dissipated and Melantha brought her hand closer to her face, smelling it.

It smelled like nothing, as one would expect. With a smirk, the dark goddess turned around and started flying deeper into her Sphere. There was much to do still.

"Honestly..." Melantha said with a sigh.

Traversing a Sphere turned out to be really bothersome, even if said Sphere was literally empty. Nevertheless, Melantha persevered until she had reached its very centre. "Let's see now..." Melantha whispered, and suddenly a ripple of darkness shot outward, with her being the origin. The ripple carried on for a while before decelerating to a stop some distance away, forming a ring of dark energy.

Then a pulse. Faint at first, but slowly getting stronger and more intense, this pulse slowly synchronised with Melantha's own divine pulse, her soul's very essence. Vein-like patterns emerged from within the dark goddess, pulsing with the same rhythm, the soft purple glow on them painting a very eerie scene. The veins quickly grew outward, branching off into millions of smaller segments that filled the entirety of the dark circle around her.

Melantha slowly opened her eyes, the previous glowing white colour having given way to two purple globes of fire that blazed with determination. She remembered the Architect's words, the scorn he had shown her and the other deities, and a feeling of intense anger suddenly welled up inside of her. Yet, even though she was alone with no one around to witness, she did not let the anger get to her head. No, she instead harnessed it, channelling it to fuel her imminent creation.

"Rise," the goddess ordered. A simple command, but one backed with such power that made the very void tremble. Then, from within the dark circle, a gigantic landmass slowly started rising, as if answering to Melantha's summons. Deep purple in appearance, the material the landmass was made off was based upon the crystal platform Melantha had absorbed, the same one that transported her to her Sphere. After absorbing it inside her, her essence broke it down and melted inside of it, changing it at a fundamental level. What was created as a result of this merger was a new type of material capable of absorbing and storing darkness energy inside of it. Following this, Melantha simply took this new material and duplicated it countless times before willing it to the shape of her choosing.

As the landmass rose further up, Melantha rose with it. First, the peaks of the mountains emerged, closely followed by the rest of the ridges. The hills came afterwards, with the valleys and the canyons emerging last. After everything was said and done, the dark goddess was standing at the top of the highest peak in this dark land. Gazing at her creation, Melantha let out the breath she had been holding in. Tiny beads of perspiration ran down her forehead and her long mane that had risen up due to her exercising her powers finally came back down once again.

"You shall be called... Norsvold."

Melantha sat under a peculiar rock formation, gazing from above at the valley that stretched before her eyes, ruminating about her creation. She closed her eyes, turning her attention inwards. Deep within her inner mind, she returned to the place she had once before visited, her spiritual sea. Pitch-black inky water stretched as far as they could see and dark clouds loomed above.

There, tucked away in a corner of this sea was a flame of darkness blazing. This flame was Melantha's essence flame, a byproduct of her divine essence coming into contact with her soul. Previously, her flame's colour had been a solid black, but now its core had taken on a purple hue. She could guess with confidence that the moment she created Norsvold, her connection to the Sphere was strengthened even more, binding her completely to it. She now had a feeling that, even if Norsvold were ever to be destroyed, although she would not die, she would definitely be severely weakened for a time.

Melantha's face scrunched up, unconsciously biting her lower lip, as she thought about this and the future complications it might bring to her plans. Be it due to anxiety, or simply being engrossed in her thoughts, Melantha did not immediately notice the bright point of light that had suddenly appeared in Norsvold's skies for an instant, before disappearing once more. She did, however, feel a sudden flunctuation of power ripple through her, accompanied by a feeling akin to suffocation. In a mix of confusion and annoyance, Melantha quickly exited her Sphere, only to be greeted by a glaring flash of light coming from below.

Shielding her eyes with a veil of darkness, Melantha finally realised what had exactly caused this sudden feeling inside of her; a beam of pure, unadulterated light shooting through the darkness of the void, its target clearly being the big, blue planet in the middle of the universe, Galbar. Like a knife stabbing through her heart, Melantha visibly trembled at the sight of this monstrosity. She could immediately deduce who had been the culprit for the creation of the beam: it could only be Asceal, the light goddess.

Melantha grit her teeth, anger welling up inside of her once more. She had a feeling since before leaving the Architect's Sphere that she and Asceal would never see eye to eye, but never in a million years did she think that that abomination of light would instantly go on the offensive. "If that's how you want it, that's how it will be..." Melantha murmured. With a flourish of her arms, she turned around and charged inside her Sphere once more. A couple of seconds passed before Melantha rushed out of her Sphere, darkness enveloping her body fully. Fierce waves rippled across the Sphere's liquid borders, but that was not the end. No, that was only the beginning, as after she shot out like that, a gigantic piece of rock broke the surface of the Sphere. After a few moments, the rock had completely emerged from the Sphere, its shape clearly that of a mountain peak.

The peak hovered in the void of the universe right outside of Melantha's Sphere. The goddess flew towards it before landing on a relatively flat surface. The sheer force of the landing dug Melantha's legs deep inside the rock, and she immediately started storing power inside of it. Then, she crossed her arms and looked straight at the location of the light's source. The mountain peak trembled once and a faint purple glow and black gas started being emitted from it as it started moving towards its target.

"Let's see now..."

It is Turn 1 now.
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