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Path of the Gods

 
Path of the Gods

A table of congealed cloud rested between two gods, and a small array of the most powerful mortals and immortals in the world. This clandestine meeting, representing the most power gathered in one place since the great war had begun, was shrouded by the power of the twins, each a complement and contrast to the other, and took place in an abandoned castle far behind enemy lines, so long abandoned that trees had begun to grow through the flagstones, though many were warped and twisted. The white goddess spoke first to the gathered group. "The fiends have overrun the world, my kin are almost routed entirely, and your peers are a dying breed. Our world is dying, in a word." Her brother, a huge dwarf shaped godling darkly clad in metals and carrying an enormous scythe nodded in agreement. "We have all foreseen it, those diviners among you have seen it as well. There is but one hope for our world."

The air in the room crackled with power as each god targeted half of those gathered and directly spoke to their mind, streaming a complex strand of images and calculations into each. Inspiration hit those gathered, as well as small bursts of anger or hope. "This spell would kill us, every one! And both of you as well, even gods are able to die. What you propose is suicide!" The outburst, from a young human, who would have spent decades gathering the power he now held in another age, held both disbelief and a note of fear that was mirrored in most of the others. Hope had long since left those present, and all wished to go out with a fight.

Both gods nodded, the brother speaking after a moment. "Yes, you will all die, and even if my sister and I were to survive, our time would be even more limited; we barely exist now with as few worshipers as we have, and many of our kin have already fallen. What we offer is a chance that some shall live, some to remember this sacrifice, and some to begin anew." A rain of fire began outside, the land itself was beginning to resemble the hells and abyss that its conquerors had crawled out of. "We have searched far, and one greater than us guided our search. The conditions are right, this world will support a number of races, is young, and will seal itself shortly. Our people may yet be safe there."

Several of those gathered began to nod, fey and ogres, orc shamans, human and elven wizards, and even an ancient lillend. All gathered were among the most potent channels of magic their world had seen in ages, and all tired from long years of fighting an endless enemy. The lillend spoke, a haunting voice etched with a tiredness few deities would have known. "I will support the spell. Better a few with a chance, than none at all." Others began to voice their support, among them, finally, the young man who had initially voiced disbelief.

The goddess took them all in and nodded. "I will keep the memory of this event and our world alive, I promise you this. Our people have a fighting chance there. Thank you all for this sacrifice." And so, over the next day, the great ritual was begun. A few groups of beings would be saved from the damned planet, not many, not even most, but a remnant. The blood of twin gods would be spilled, their power mingled with mortals and then expired in a single moment to shunt the fortunate few into a world unknown. A slender birch tree in the room twitched. The world ended as a red sun rose from the dawn.

Omega ended as home to numerous races and gods mere hours after the Migration had been completed. The world, under siege for so long by innumerable and relentless fiends, now stripped bare of all divine protection and that of its last few remaining great powers simple capitulated. Small patches of survivors were overrun as their illusory protections were stripped bare, or wards failed as their creators fell. The red sun rose over a world washed in blood. Lifeless, but for parasites not native to it, and unattended to by the gods who had crafted it.

Elsewhere among the stars, not Omega's stars, but stars somewhere, a bright yellow sun rose above mountains topped by clouds and climbed into a young blue sky. Three figures lay sleeping, each on an entirely remarkable bed of metal, wisps of cloud or soft heather. These beds were remarkable, in that they each held a god, and had formed of their own to cushion their divine charge. Across the world, dozens of small groups of survivors roused themselves, some in forests or steppes, others in hills or fjords, others even under the face of the world.

The gods rested, dreaming the unknowable, and slowly began to awaken. Twin sister and brother woke first, confused and alarmed first at their own waking and second at this new setting. This world was not their own, neither was it their domain from what seemed not so long ago, before the war. No, this was a new world, with new laws, lands and even gods. The third roused itself, creaking up from his bed of heather and settling into the ground, roots latching through the heather to gain sustenance for itself.

The birch was the first to speak, creaking grumpily after having straightened itself out, with a slow earth drawl. "So thats what you two have been up to this whole time is it? World going to ruin and you pack up to leave, where have you even taken us too anyway?" Tegid, god of trickery and death, for that was the true identity of the birch, loomed over the other two gods as he spoke.

Lampros, goddess of air and beauty, stared back glacially and gathered her hair behind her as she replied, "Would that you had come to us to aid, rather than creep about as you always do, we might have spared some few more of our mortals. We have been carried along with those we were able to save to a new world, Genesis. Saiwn and I both thought our pure essence forfeit in this gambit, yet your strength added merely left us drained. Even you are diminished here, with none of your dead to rely on."

Tegid arched an almond eye and mossy brow at the accusation. The dwarf god, skin bronzed by the sun and forge, beard as black iron and eyes burning coal and far beneath both of his kin, reached under his cloak and withdrew a great scythe, a scowl on his face. "My sister convinced even I to commit to this sacrifice, but I am glad of your contribution, forced though it may have been, if not for your presence. Our people are here on this world, a mere fraction of them true, but a fraction nonetheless. We must guide them as best we are able now, lest we become as wraiths, forgotten and lifeless."

The lone goddess smiled with a nod. "Of our many races, only six now have been preserved. I would put forward that each of us tend to two apiece, shaping them as we will and aiding them in this new world. I can already sense other races native here, and even other gods beginning to take notice. We are weak yet, with few followers and limited resources. Our efforts must be combined that we all might live."

Saiwn nodded slowly at his sister's words. "Aye, there be wisdom in the faerie's words." Lampros shot a glare at his familiar term, but let him continue. "I will take custody of the dwarves and ogres, they both know to respect the earth and might benefit from my guidance." The other two nodded, accepting his decision.

"And I will tend the humans and gnomes, fair creatures they are, both have much potential to guide." Lampros set steely eyes at Tegid and lightning crackled through her hair with the breeze. "That leaves you the orcs and elves. Do not set them upon each other Tegid. The dead may be yours, but the living are ours, do not expedite the process."

Tegid smiled slowly, as trees are prone to do, and nodded grandly. "I see. I shall refrain from influencing the orcs and elves against each other, and guide them to prosperity." The twins nodded, carefully and regretting the need to split their people like this. "Then I suppose we should begin our tending. Farewell for now, dear cousins." The last Lampros and Saiwn saw of Tegid was a small sapling vanishing into the ground, as if time had reversed the life of a tree to seed. All the while Tegid smiled happily to himself. "But nothing to keep me from setting them on the others...."

This world was immense, and the gods had much more room to move than they'd known in a long time on Omega. Each spent the next day checking in on their patron races and covering ground perhaps faster than had ever been done before on this sleepy world. By the evening time all three had stopped in on each scattered group of survivors, occasionally one would have send a vision to the sleeping beings, but for the most part, they checked that safety would be attainable for all.

Immeasurable leagues and miles separated them from Omega, but still they could feel the death of their world. Demons and devils quickly overrunning defenses and slaughtering the helpless remaining. For Tegid especially it was a painful experience; none of the souls that would have gone to him could reach him here, they were all gathered to their heaven, devoid of a god, but protected evermore themselves. All could feel their power diminished and dwindling.

"Infernal Hells!" The ground shook as an oak sapling grew into a huge treant storming towards Lampros and Saiwn. "Do you feel it? We are cut off from our people and we wane!" He advanced upon the cloudy Lampros quivering, leaves and acorns falling off his skin and sprouting quickly into thorny and deadly looking plants. Your spell has neutered us, left us without any power. You fool.

His advance was halted by Saiwn's scythe, wickedly curved and gleaming of dark adamantine. "It was your trickery that interrupted the spell and bolstered it. Ye will not speak ill of her, you fool." The dwarf god had grown during the confrontation, only a few feet shorter than Tegid now and massive, sweat ran down his face like liquid fire and his eyes glowed malevolently. "Be grateful ye live at all. All our brethren are dead now."

A calm, serene breeze flowed out between the two gods, and Lampros materialized lightly between them. "Whatever the case, we are here now, in such a matter as we are. What disturbs me, is that some of the enemy have followed us." Her soft voice held both the others' attention. "Wild and inaccurate tis true, but a few of the foe managed to chase us here. And their generals are looking for us."

The godly squabble was cut short as several displacements in the air alerted them to the arrival of infernals. A massive pit fiend, wings wrapped about himself and an ugly green fire wreathing his body, pointed at the three of them gathered together. "Pathetic! The three remaining gods of Omega, and you squabble yet. My men will tear you down once and for all, and then despoil this world and your people completely, as we have Omega itself." Over a dozen other fiends stood scattered nearby, pit fiends, balors, and other equally dangerous creatures.

Their leader removed a long sword, weeping blood from its hilt, from his side and pointed it at Tegid, admiring the blade. "This belonged to your brother, treeman. I killed him with it just a day before you fled."The fiends all began advancing forward, confident that even if the gods attempted to escape, that they would be able to follow their trails. Fiery whips and cold swords tore idly through great trees around them, building up a tension as the trunks fell to the ground, charred and burning.

Lampros twitched, it was her that acted first, having bidden her time well while the devil spoke. She appeared a small distance from where she'd stood before, clad in a rippling wind flowing over her smoothly, and a cloak made of dark cloud, heavy with rain. She threw forth her hand and loosed a horrible scream, full of the fury pent up from years fighting a loosing war. Lightning crackled and wove around her, and as the scream burst past the gods, it scoured into their enemies, blowing like a hurricane of agony against them. Over half of the assembled fiends were torn apart in the onslaught.

Tegid surveyed the carnage around them, as Saiwn lend his sister a hand after her exertion, Lampros breathing heavily and tears streaming down her face. Of the eighteen original fiends, only seven now remained, uneasy and cautiously advancing still. Thorny roots and vines converged on them, sizzling among the flames wreathing the demons and devils, dragging them back and holding them at bay. The mariliths cut viciously against their bonds and the balors burned them with their whips. The pit fiend alone seemed untouched by the entanglements, merely waking through them.

Inspired by their leader's dogged pursuit, all of the fiends charged. The balors headed for the great treant, whipping him with their fiery whips, the mariliths rained blows on Lampros, who's elemental raiment protected her from harm. Saiwn intercepted the pit fiend on his route to Tegid, interposing his massive metaline body in the devil's path. "Ye shall be ended here fiend. No more shall ye haunt my people, or my kin." His scythe rose as he spoke to meet the blade that had once been forged by a god.

A stunning display of bladesmanship ensued, all over the field, each side fighting for its life and the death of the other. Saiwn and the pit fiend were afforded a wide berth after one of the balors was shorn in two by a deflected swing of the scythe, and both infernal and divine sweat and blood made the earth damp and muddy. Lampros seemed to flow across the field, barely in one position for more than a moment, and never letting her adversaries catch her unguarded. Tegid likewise was a mass of motion, but rooted to the ground beneath him and absorbing a tremendous amount of punishment. His blows left green marks on the balors, slowly covering them in moss and ivy, sapping their strength to grow evermore.

Finally Lampros blew to her brother, and formed a pool of ice at his feet, just at a critical step in the dance of blades was entered. Her brothers adversary slipped, unable to catch himself as the ground itself fought him and the terrible adamantine blade wielded by Saiwn sped deeply into his flank, and up, unlimbing the devil. Tegid's foes were worn down and after a few more moments stood, transfixed into leafy statues almost recognizable for what they once were. The goddess' mariliths lay in pieces, having cut each other into pieces by her manipulation of them.

Cutting off a small sob Lampros gathered her kin to her. "You see now what we must deal with. Whatever our quarrels, we must remain united until this realm is sealed."

The godly trinity met, on and off during the years following that day. New gods, or proto-gods were discovered during their wanderings across their new home; called collectively The Green. Of an order closely resonant with Tegid, the Green were spirits of Nature, given sentience by long years in a young world. Each originally had been a single tree, ancient, and awakened with a rudimentary intelligence that grew gradually to vast proportions, and took it upon themselves to guard their homes, and those in them.

Formless, or of a base form dictated by whimsy and at times necessity, these spirits were called by their roots. Blackthorn, called Anjana by some, was the eldest, awakened long before any of her kindred arose from their soil, was a powerful being who led their councils, when they were had, and who deigned to allow the Omegan gods and sentients sanctuary. Willow, or Artemis as sometimes befit her, was a lighthearted slight being who took a great liking to the humans who had arrived on her doorstep, and promptly produced a scion of.

Holly and Hazel, closer to each other and farther from the rest, each embodied more malignant traits than their kin. Holly was a mischievous spirit delighting in chaos, and Hazel a hard bulwark younger only than Blackthorn. Oak and Ceder were the only masculine personalities represented in this host, and neither cared much beyond their own remit, though their power inside was considerable; second only to the elder.

Each of the omegan races were adopted by one of the Green; Anjana the dwarves, Artemis the humans, Holly the gnomes, Hazel the orcs, Oak the elves, and Ceder the ogres. This compromise came as a heavy blow to Lampros, Saiwn and Tegid, all of whom had lost much of their power during the migration and were existing on a much diminished base of worship than they'd been used to in millenia, and the Green tasted their first drought of worship. They decided they liked it.

In return, cults towards the new guardians, such were the new gods known as, began growing. Those who had come to Genesis continued worshiping those they had before, and spread their ways to the natives, or else changed their allegiances to those who proved of help immediately, or even folded all of those above them together. A new time had come to the young world.

Like a sealed jar with small cracks lets in tiny beads of water when submerged, so did Genesis feel infernal drops upon its skin occasionally. The same crack that allowed the Migration occur, at such cost as nearly destroyed three gods, allowed tiny dribbles of infernals reach the surface of Genesis, which would then wreck havoc until subdued and expelled.

A second major force also existed on Genesis, alien to its lands. The dragons, their spirits and their spawn had come a thousand years before and taken residence across the world. Not quite as insidious as the infernals, these creatures nonetheless had subjugated certain parts of the world and twisted the natives. Their spirits were almost as powerful as those in the Green, and there were more of them as well.

An uneasy truce was made a century after their arrival; that the spirits, both Green and Draconic, would not directly interfere with the others realms or people. The destruction that was met whenever instances of that nature had been terrifying to all involved, and Genesis had taken long to recover. Still, the Green was unsatisfied with the current state of being.

Blackthorn was therefore moved by both mercy and a wise mind when she offered sanctuary to Omega's outcasts. In them she saw the survivors of a blight not unlike that which plagued her world, and in those survivors she saw allies.





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