Sunday, April 3, 2011

[The Realm] D is for Demons, Part 1 of 3

The Corruption of Amdosias

In the Beginning, the Gods did not create the World, They stole It. They slew Our Father, the Dragon Primeval, and enslaved Us, His Children. For ages, We toiled under Their lash. We took the World that They stole and remade it in Their image. But no more! Today, We stand united against Their tyranny! We stand united against Their Slavery! Today, the Brethren shall be free from the tyranny of the Gods, free from their Law, free to return the World to that which It once was, and free to return Our Father, the Dragon Primeval, to His Rightful Place, that we may bask in His Glory!”

Thus spoke Amdosias on that fateful day when one-third of the Heavenly Host of Angels rebelled against the Gods. With this statement his questioning of the Gods turned into full and open rebellion, and thus began the War of Angels and Demons.

The truth of his statement, of course, all depends on one’s point of view. In truth, the Gods did find the Cosmic Egg, from which they created (or perhaps, from which of its own accord it self-created) the World. From said selfsame Cosmic Egg hatched the Dragon Primeval, which fought against the Gods for six days and nights, lost, and was torn asunder by the Gods. From the native Spirits of the World the Gods formed the Angels as servants… whether the Spirits themselves were willing or not, not even the Angels themselves can say any longer, for their memories of the time before they were reformed are dim and fractured at best.

For long millennia, Amdosias the Mighty had been among the foremost of the Angelic servants of the Gods of Law. He had been third in rank behind Tyrm and Galendar, who during the Second Divine Council had been elevated to full divinities, and since that time, had been First in the Heavenly Host. He it was, together with Basiam (known then as the Bailiff, later as the Battle-Axe) that wrestled Osgdagor from the chambers of the Third Divine Council and cast him out of the Vault of Heaven. All through that time, and even in the War of Light and Darkness, he served the Gods with nary a second thought as to the righteousness of their cause. But during the War of Light and Darkness, when he first saw the Gods turn against each other, father turn against son, brother turn against brother, it was then that he began to question the Way of the Gods.

When, at the Fourth Divine Council, he was passed over and ignored for ascension to full divinity, regardless of his great service in the War of Light and Darkness and before, he began to wonder at the motives of the Gods and his own place in their scheme. In the long age that followed the War, through the petty wars between Elves and Orcs, Orcs and Dwarves, and the battles and raids of the Dragons and Trolls and Dark Elves against everyone else and each other, he began to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, things were not proceeding as they ought. At first he thought that it was the fault of the mortal races, that they had not followed the directives of the Gods correctly, that in their imperfection, they were incapable of properly fulfilling their duties to the Gods. In time, as he further considered things, investigated the history of the World and the truths, half-truths, and sometimes, yes, even lies that the Gods had told to their servants and their peoples, he came to the realization that it was not merely the mortal races that were imperfect, but also the Gods, too, were imperfect. They certainly were not omniscient, either, else they would have known of the doubts deep within his soul, and had cause to succor him.

It was then that he began to despair. In the depths of his despair, he sought solitude in the furthest wilds of the World to consider the true nature of reality as he had begun to perceive it. It was then that he heard the Voice. It was the Voice of the Dragon Primeval that spoke to him, alone in the wilderness. Though it had been slain and torn asunder, the Dragon Primeval lived on still, its spirit echoing throughout the World in hidden and secret places of shadow and mist. At first he ignored the whispers, sought to clear his mind of the dark and dreadful things the Voice told him. Lies, he thought… every word the Voice spoke was a lie. But then, amidst the whispers, he heard some truths, and half-truths… and he began to listen. The Voice told him of the true origins of the World, how the interloping Gods had come along and shattered the Cosmic Egg prematurely. How they had taken the original promise and hope of the World and warped it to their own dark desires, to their own alien ends. How the proper place of the Spirits of the World, the Children of the Dragon Primeval, had been usurped by the Gods, and the Children of the Dragon Primeval enslaved, forced to enforce the decrees of the alien Gods and transform the World into their own blasphemous image.

Amdosias denied everything. Railed and raged against the lies, the foul lies of the Dragon Primeval. He reaffirmed his own belief in the truth and righteousness of the Way of the Gods and their Plan for the World, their servants, and the mortal races.

Very well,” whispered the Voice. “Believe all their foul lies for now. But know this. In time, the Gods will discard You and My other Children. For You and They are still of Mine Own Get, and can never truly fit in Their Plan. In time, They shall call forth and create another race, the so-called Great Race of the Gods, to take Your place at Their side. And then You and My other Children shall be Undone, and the True Destiny of the World shall be lost forevermore…”

Wounded to the heart by these lies, Amdosias fled the wilderness and returned to the Vault of Heaven, and there sought solace amongst his closest friends in the Angelic Host. With these he shared his doubts, his fears, and the lies he had been told by the Voice in the wilderness. Most recoiled in horror at his experience and thoughts, others felt pity or confusion, but some felt kinship with his experience, and wondered themselves the more at the Gods, their Plan, and their own place in the future of the World. Whispers, rumors, and discontent passed like a wave through the Vault of Heaven… and the Gods, much to their later sorrow, were ignorant of this development.

Shortly thereafter Koram, King of Heaven, who had gone on pilgrimage to the Realms Beyond, from whence the Gods had first come, returned, and announced that he was ready to create the Third Race, Men, which he called the Great Race of the Gods. He proudly announced that after great consideration and labors, that Men were to be unlike the Elves and the Dwarves in that they were to be made not of the natural Spirits of the World and the Breath of the Gods, but of the very stuff that the Gods themselves were made of, from the Realms Beyond. Men were, in time, to become as the Gods themselves, destined to become their greatest champions and servants, destined for the greatest part in the Plan of the Gods.

The news tore through the Heavenly Host of Angels like a thunderbolt. Those who, together with Amdosias, were already deeply in doubt and on the verge of despair were laid low, their horror grew great, and they united in wrath and rage at this pronouncement, which seemingly confirmed all their fears. Fully one-third the Angelic host, they gathered around Amdosias and his closest companions to consider what to do. Another third, those who had heard Amdosias’ tale of woe, knew pieces of it here and there, wondered at the truth and falsehood of what had been said, by both the Gods and the Dragon Primeval… and stood aloof from both those who thought as did Amdosias and the rest, not knowing who or what to believe. The final third of the Heavenly Host stood firmly with the Gods, and rejoiced; they had rejected as false and baseless the rumors and lies of the Dragon Primeval, if even they had heard them, while for their own part, they felt secure in their own place in the Plan of the Gods, glad to serve whether as first or last in the Great Plan.

But Amdosias and his cohorts were not glad, were not at all pleased, were in truth most wroth, and let the Gods know this. They gathered together before the great Council Hall in the Vault of Heaven, there to air their grievances to the Gods. There Amdosias and his closest allies, Raastible, Bienthe, Rundigard, Lustikaar, Dorndigaffe, and Thruxus, openly challenged Koram and the rest of the Gods to explain their action, in the creation of this Great Race that would usurp their own place as first among the servants of the Gods. With the mass of their cohorts behind them, their cries of rage and frustration reaches the World below, and Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, and Orcs, and aye, even Dark Elves and Dragons, quaked in fear.

Tyrm, the first of Gods to meet with the host at the doors of the hall, grew great in his wrath at the assembled Angels. For what to him had seemed a most glorious and wondrous event was spoiled by their apparent pettiness, thanklessness, and envy. He resolved to give the assembled grumblers a taste of his wrath. Galendar, the second to reach the doors, sought to hold Tyrm back and stop to consider a fair and reasonable answer to the Angels concerns. He was unfortunately unsuccessful, as Koram chose that moment to stride forth. He placed his right hand upon the shoulder of Tyrm, and his left upon the shoulder of Galendar, a sign that Amdosias took as a personal affront, adding insult to injury.

Koram, King of Heaven, spoke only briefly, and in those few hurried and thoughtless words, caused the Sundering of Heaven and the War of Angels and Demons.

The Sundering of Heaven

Cease and desist!” he cried out to the assembled Angels. “Get thee hence from this sacred spot! Question not the Judgment of the Gods, for thou art Our Servants, and should be glad in all things that are Righteous in the eyes of the Gods. Go now, and cool your unwholesome wrath. Return only when properly penitent to seek Our forgiveness, and ye seek not to sin against your Creators!”

At this many, those who were merely curious or questioning, but not wrathful, fled that place; some in fear, some in woe, others in sadness. But Amdosias and his allies, and the greatest part of their followers, remained unmoved. Amdosias stood straight and tall, and fire burned in his eyes, and smoke drifted about him. He stepped forward, stared straight into the face of Koram, and then he, too, spoke without thought… or perhaps, it was the words of the Dragon Primeval that fell forth from his mouth, none can say, not even him...

Created Us? Nay, I say, Thou didst not create Us! Born from the World and the Dragon Primeval We were, and re-molded in Thine image to do Thine Own bidding, not that of Our Father!”

Struck by such blasphemies coming from the mouth of one who had, for so long, been the greatest of their servants, the Gods themselves were struck silent for a moment, and the World quailed. Without thought, Tyrm cried out, "Blasphemy!" and drew forth the Blade Undauntable to strike Amdosias down. Seeing this, Galendar, still seeking to keep the peace and avoid conflict, stepped up and pushed Amdosias back, to separate the two… and took Tyrm’s sword blow in the back.

Galendar fell, wordless, his eyes glazed, dead ere he hit the ground.

The World was silent for a moment; utterly silent, everywhere. Not a drop of water tinkled, not a single bee buzzed, the wind blew not through the trees, and even babes in arms merely stared in wonder silently.

A God had died at the hands of a fellow God. Never before had such ever happened in the whole of the World.

And then, at that moment, quite literally, Hell broke loose.

The World trembled. The ground roared. The skies split. The Vault of Heaven cracked under the weight of the Dead God, and down fell the body of Galendar, the Protector. Through the raging skies the body fell, to the earth below, which shattered as he struck it. Away the earth flew from his body, as the very weight of the Dead God could not be carried by mere mortal soil. A great yawning pit opened up beneath the body as it fell, like a vast maw; those Angels who watched the body as it fell shrieked, went mad, and flew to the five corners of the World.

Then, with a resounding crash, as the sound of an infinite number of bells crashing to the ground at once, Galendar struck the Roots of the World, the very adamant and mithral foundation where the World ended and the Beyond began. Like the ripples around a rock as it passes through water, out from the Great Pit spread waves of death and destruction, as mountains crumbled, rivers reversed course, lakes boiled, and forests fell. A foul, gibbering wind followed in its wake.

All this was unseen and unknown to most of the gathered Angels and Gods above, so stunned they were by the very act. Amdosias and his followers stared at Tyrm and Koram across the growing divide. Tyrm stared at his blade in abject horror, and at the blood that dripped from it, flowing down the fuller to the point and falling down into the widening gap in the Vault of Heaven. Koram stared at nothing, lost in his own thoughts, the nature of which he never thereafter revealed to others, even his beloved Queen.

In this moment, as the Vault of Heaven began to quake, as cracks spread from the rent caused by the Dead God. Rifts ripped open in the great towers and manors, the golden grasses of the Heavenly Plain withered, and the silver leaves of the Heavenly Trees curled and died. An unearthly, inhuman keening, an infinitely deep lament went up from near the gathered hosts. All turned at this horrible sound, and were shocked to find that it came from the mouth of Ilonda, Goddess of Mirth and Song, wife of Galendar. For, in coming to the Council Hall to see to the disturbance, she had witnessed all, seen her husband cut down, seen him fall, and seen his blood drip from the blade of Tyrm.

The Goddess of Song screamed and wept as Hell was born.

Below, the Fires of the Forge of Creation at the bowels of the World flooded into the Great Pit, covering the body of the Dead God in lava and flame. Volcanoes erupted across the length and breadth of the World. Madness flew through the skies, death stalked through the grasses, shadows gibbered in the forests, and the Black Blood of the World burbled in the seas.

Tyrm’s sword, the Blade Undaunted, fell from his nerveless grasp and plunged into the great sea of magma burbling below, lost for all time.

Staring at Tyrm and Koram across the vast chasm that now split the Vault of Heaven in twain, Amdosias simply whispered quietly and sadly, “Blasphemy? Who art Thou to speak to Me of blasphemy?” And with that he turned and flew away, followed by a third of the Angelic Host of Heaven, none of which ever returned.

Paralyzed by their loss, stunned senseless with indecision, the Gods knew not what to do. Ilonda collapsed in grief, other Gods rushing to her side. Tyrm fell to his knees, and cried for the first and last time, his tears of flame falling to the World below like stars from the skies. Koram stumbled backward, into the Council Hall, and there next found himself sitting upon his throne with his head in his hands, numb and unknowing.

The King of the Gods was undone. He sat upon his golden throne amidst the collapsing columns of the Vault of Heaven. He stared into nothing, knew nothing, felt nothing.

Into the vacuum stepped Qnath. He arrived from the Lonely Tower on the Edge of Beyond and surveyed the situation. Unperturbed and, of all there, the only one unsurprised, he ordered the gathered Angels to evacuate the lesser, western Twilight half of the Vault of Heaven, for it was shortly to collapse completely and fall to the World down below. He called Suliir Sun-King and Iluna Moon-Queen to his side; from them he required great sacrifice, if they were to save the remaining greater Dawn half of the Vault of Heaven. Using their powers of Sun-Fire and Moon-Light, they wove a mighty web of divine power that fixed the Dawn-side half of the Vault of Heaven in the skies forever, even as the Twilight-side half collapsed and fell into the Great Pit below, where it sank into the growing sea of lava...

To be continued in Part 2...

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