An Interlude for Chaos
During the previous week's events at the seal of Chaos, the Azdi-a of the Indorani, Vyxsis Qizzeke, posed a question to the Gods Severn and Damariel: "Was Jox a threat to Chaos?"
Severn answered, claiming the Court would bring their wrath down upon Sapience should they find out about the seal of Chaos. Damariel agreed, counseling that such an action would not be wise. The Manipulator's patience quickly wore thin as Vyxsis sought clarification that she shouldn't inform the Court of Chaos and its Emperor, Golgotha. He seized Vyxsis by the neck, informing her in no uncertain terms that He would personally destroy the Indorani should they inform the Lord of Chaos.
Members of the Indorani gathered later to discuss their discontent at Severn's treatment of their leader, some even urging her to inform the Emperor. Vyxsis disappeared to her haven, sitting in pensive silence as she considered her move.
On the 16th of Arios, 476 MA, the Emperor of Chaos Jy'Barrak Golgotha descended upon the Prime Material Plane. The events that followed led to a fierce battle between Emperor and the Gods, and Golgotha eventually fled back to Chaos amidst claims that the entire Court would descend upon Sapience at a later date. Afterwards, Severn declared the Indorani guild traitors to Sapience and brought down the wrath of Shadow, dismantling the guild.
The events, as recorded by the monks of the Grand Aetolian Library, proceeded as follows:
Reality gives a tremble, and a distorted emanation pervades through the leylines. Several dark points manifest in the skies above Sapience, and then a gruesome, mawlike tear opens, sundering the sky. Beyond it lies the Chaos Plane, the infinite Pits beyond fain to madden those who stare overlong.
Two gauntlet-shod hands tear the rift wider, making way for a tremendous form: Jy'Barrak Golgotha, Emperor of Chaos claws through, doom burning in his fiendish eyes. The Emperor is immediately flanked by Arctar and Dameron, moving as one with their sworn liege. The sound of heavy, rapid drumming reverberates across the heavens as the whole of the Court of Chaos step into Prime, forming behind the Emperor in glittering rank and file.
The drumming rises to a cacophonous crescendo, peaking at a rhythmic, bone-rattling intensity that rattles. It goes on and on until finally the Emperor raises a single hand - and just as soon as it's done, the drums come to an immediate stop. The Court of Chaos depart in single file, each bowing before the imperious form of Golgotha - only Arctar, Dameron and the Emperor remain, commanding the silence that follows.
The very skies shudder queasily as Jy'Barrak Golgotha, Emperor of Chaos bellows, "WORMS OF SAPIENCE, KNOW THAT YOU HAVE BROUGHT DOOM UPON YOUR OWN HEADS. YOU ARE FOOLS TO THINK YOU COULD HIDE YOUR TREACHERY FROM ME, AND YOUR LAND SHALL PAY THE CONSEQUENCES. NOW CHAOS ITSELF DESCENDS UPON YOUR FIELDS, YOUR BASTIONS, AND YOUR HOLDINGS, DELIVERED PERSONALLY BY MY HAND - THE FULL MIGHT OF MY COURT IS NOT NEEDED TO MATCH YOUR PITEOUS FORCE. YOUR CITIES SHALL CRUMBLE! YOUR HUSBANDS SHALL BE SLAUGHTERED! YOUR CHILDREN SHALL BE FED TO MY HOUNDS! AND CHAOS SHALL CONSUME YOU ALL."
Each word from the Lord of Chaos sets reality rumbling, and the Emperor is cloaked by sheer, palpable rage. The stench of ozone fills your nose as the sky itself begins to explode, traces of blue consumed in hellish fire. Below, fires begin to spontaneously appear in forests but even still the Emperor's words continue to roll forth. Rivers rise and surge, and the oceans roil beneath his terrible fury.
Datlotl the Conclavist shouts, "GLORIOUS!"
Reality quivers while the Emperor takes another breath. "BRING ME THE GREATEST OF FALSE VARIAN'S GET - BRING ME THE TWO MAGGOTS KNOWN AS SEVERN AND DAMARIEL! THEY SHALL KNOW TERROR, THEY SHALL KNOW FEAR, AND THEY SHALL KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO KEEP SECRETS FROM THE LOOOOOORD OF ALL CHAAAAAOOOOS!" he booms aloud. Somewhere in the Vashnars, a prominent mountain peak splits right down the middle, as though to punctuate his pronouncement.
As Jy'Barrak Golgotha awaits a response, Arctar brings forth a black helm and secures it upon his Emperor's head. Now fully armoured, the enraged Emperor beckons Dameron forward - he crosses as Arctar steps back, head bowed; Dameron kneels at his father the Emperor's side and offers up a massive greatsword. Seizing it in but a single terrible hand, the Emperor brandishes it aloft. His two attendants step back, bow, and return to the Plane of Chaos.
Datlotl the Conclavist shouts, "The Glory of Chaos, here before our eyes. Blessed, fellow mortals!"
The morning sun darkens as Severn makes His presence known. With the Blade of Artifice held in His only hand, He streaks across the skies to meet the Chaos Emperor.
"AH!" cries Jy'Barrak Golgotha. "HELLO, USURPER OF SHADOW! I HAVE LONG ITCHED TO MAKE YOUR SKULL MY DRINKING VESSEL!"
Brilliant against the sky, Damariel departs His coastal temple, the calls of rukhs following the Divine into the sky. Light suffuses His blade of dawn and armaments.
"A MATCHING SET OF TWO! FOR ME AND MY FAVORITE WIFE OF THE MINUTE!" the Emperor cackles aloud.
The hollow voice of Severn, the Manipulator echoes through the air, "Emperor, this need not happen now. Let Us parley."
"THE ONLY PARLEY WILL BE THE PARLEY BETWEEN MY SANDALLED FOOT AND YOUR FLAYED SKULL, ARTIFICER," retorts Golgotha.
Severn offers only a begrudging nod. He did not expect any different answer.
The hollow voice of Severn, the Manipulator echoes through the air, "Brother, leave this to Me. You must conserve Your strength for the real threat to come."
"OH, LOOK. LOVE. WE HAVE NO NEED OF LOVE WHERE I COME FROM."
Another flash of light signals the Unbound's discontent, though He remains at the ready, dual blades in hand.
The seas roar and clash against the land as Slyphe, the Maelstrom, makes Its presence known, soaring across the skies astride a rainstorm steed and clad in misted armor of war. "To You alone, Brother Shadow? I would not miss such a fight.
Flames spark through the atmosphere, the heat of the summoned inferno gathering into the form of Ethne, the Rekindled, axe and shield in hand. "Nor would I, You have My support, Brothers."
The ground rumbles as Ivoln, the Earthen Lord wakes from His slumber and rises from the earth. He reaches forth to grasp an enormous half-spider, half-woman monstrosity - none other than Iosyne, the Malevolent. "GO FORTH, SISTER!" He bellows as He grips the spider-like woman in both His bulky hands, twisting His torso in a hurried spin that sends the Malevolent Goddess flinging through the air at impossible speeds toward the Chaos Emperor.
"IN ANY CASE," the Emperor bellows, "I WON'T WAIT WHILE YOU GET THE OTHER... TWO OF YOU? THREE OF YOU? YOU SAPIENT GODS ARE DROPPING LIKE FLIES LATELY, AREN'T YOU? LET'S KEEP THAT GOING!"
Golgotha lunges, his greatsword scything through the air. His attention is fixed upon Severn, the Manipulator - Chaos crackles about him as his power gathers, and he swings, a crimson lightning wracking at the tortured air.
Severn meets the blow with grit teeth, snout puling back in a vicious snarl. A resounding 'clang' sends shockwaves through the land as the Blade of Artifice and the Emperor's greatsword clash.
A nightmarish whirlwind of flying arachnid legs, the Malevolent Goddess latches onto Golgotha's helmet, skittering rapidly across as She bares countless rows of fangs, scratching and biting at everything in reach.
"OFF WITH YOU!" screeches the Emperor, flailing madly with one hand even as he attempts to hold off the God of Artifice with the other. "SINCE WHEN DO YOU WORK TOGETHER?!"
Its footfalls thunderclaps, Slyphe's rainstorm steed charges the Emperor, the God of Water unleashing a vicious lance of pressurized water as He advances.
The Rekindled Goddess arcs Her arm skyward, flames wreathing around the massive greataxe cocked in Her grip. Taking aim, She hurls it, full force, at the Emperor of Chaos.
Severn quickly gains distance from the Emperor of Chaos under the distraction of His siblings, choosing to operate at a distance more suited to the God. Shadowy tendrils escape from every inch of the Manipulator's body as He pulls back, lashing around the Emperor to restrict his movements.
"ACH! PTECK!" sputters Golgotha.
Water and fire meet - not only as the Goddess' flaming axe meets with the Maelstrom's torrential assault, but as Golgotha's fire rises, a mirage-like array of chaos. He soon reappears, the Goddess Iosyne in hand - and hurls Her forcefully toward the ground, much as She was hurled upon him to begin with.
Iosyne is sent spinning in the other direction now, away from Golgotha. Shortly before impacting the ground, the Goddess abruptly morphs, taking on Her centipede form as She transitions from falling to burrowing, disappearing beneath the earth.
The very earth groans as Ivoln's sonorous voice rumbles across the land, "MEDIOCRE, SISTER!"
The Unbound impatiently watches the battle, pacing across the sky over the barrow. "Finish it!" He calls out to His Kin. "We do not have the time!"
Sea-green essence floods the sky, streaming towards the Maelstrom from all directions - with that, the Goddess clenches a fist, shifting Her rainstorm steed into a snowstorm - the temperature drops and spears of ice fling themselves at Golgotha from every direction.
A Nightmarish roar emerges from the sky, and the Goddess Omei lunges toward Golgotha's turned back. "DIEEEEEE!" She screeches-
-the Emperor grabs the flailing Nightmare out of the sky, holds Her steady, and punches Her to earth with a force that rattles the whole of the plane. All that can be seen in the wake of the Chaos Lord's blow are a few raccoons, tumbling head over heel toward the ground. Golgotha soon after blunts the spears of ice with a swing of his sword, glaring as he sights a new target among the Siblings.
With the force of a swarm descending across the land, Vyxsis buzzes, "Indorani, display your fealty - direct your life essence to the Emperor!"
The ground rumbles as tendrils of essence snake up, wrapping around the mortal assistance.
Even more tendrils erupt forth from the Lord of Shadows as He attempts to tighten His hold on the Emperor's movements. Though Golgotha initially struggles with the added restraints, the raw strength of the Lord of Chaos slowly overcomes the bindings.
"I'M DONE PLAYING GAMES, YOU THRICE-HATTED COZENER!" bellows the Emperor.
The Emperor, with a twist of his immense frame and another swing of his sword, stirs the air to such fury and threads it through with such raw Chaos that the Gods about him fall away like battered leaves. He charges, footfalls splitting the air like thunder, bearing down upon the Manipulator and heedless of the other Gods.
Severn raises His blade to meet the charging Emperor, squaring up with grim determination. Heedless of the God's weapon, Golgotha barges shoulder-first into Him with concussive force that throws Severn away. Dust rises in the distance, a muffled crash resounding as Severn lands into a mountain.
"A NEW DISTANCE RECORD!"
The Maelstrom is battered away from the battle for mere moments, steadying Herself above Duiran. With a raised hand, She calls upon the rivers, the lakes, and the clouds, drawing water to herself which is quickly formed into a gargantuan, barbed trident of ice, one which is promptly hurled full-strength at Golgotha.
Jy'Barrak Golgotha turns to deflect the waters of Sapience; but they are too much even for his Chaotic might. Back, he flies, back and windmilling, until he abruptly stops in midair - struggling to move with a roar that wakes the earth. His eyes glow - and moments later, lances of fire spit from them, scorching the sky and searing downward toward Sapience.
A glimmer of thread is the only warning before Golgotha crashes into a web of titanic proportions. As the Emperor is caught in its grasp, the web lights up, glowing with Divine power.
The Malevolent Goddess makes Her return, erupting out of the ground. Iosyne shifts back into Her spider form as She alights on Her web, carefully stalking towards Her entangled prey.
"OH, THE SPIDER!" cackles Golgotha as he struggles. "YOU WERE PRETTIER BEFORE YOUR SISTER BROKE YOUR HEART!"
"MY EMPEROR," cries out Dameron, the prince of Chaos as he descends towards his father, "You are outnumbered, let me prove my strength as your son and join you in battle!"
"ANY CHANCE YOU COULD CUT ME FREE, YOU BEAUTIFUL MONSTER?" the Emperor cries. "LEAVE THIS WRETCHED FAMILY. MARRY ME! BE MY SEVEN-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIRST WIFE! I CAN PROVIDE FOR YOU!" He turns, distracted by Dameron. "BOY, CAN'T YOU SEE I'M PREOCCUPIED? I HAVE THEM ON THE ROPES!" He yanks, hard, at his weblike bindings. "NOW STOP BEING AN IDIOT AND LOOSE ME FROM THIS ARACHNID ENTANGLEMENT!"
Like a caged beast, the Unbound continues to pace across the sky, His light following him like a second sun. His unrest and conflict between His Kin and duty is palpable, grip loose and ready upon His blades.
"Cut," Iosyne agrees, Her voice vibrating - almost like a purr. The Goddess advances - still warily - ignoring Dameron.
"Of course, father." Dameron brings out his dagger, moving in quickly to free the Emperor. But as he approaches, the prince's form quickly sheds as the Lord of Artifice reveals His guise. Without wasting a second, He plunges the dagger between the cracks in Golgotha's armour and drives it in deep.
Voice reverberating like the howl of a maelstrom, Slyphe bellows, "NOW, Siblings! Strike to fell the beast!"
Severn twists and drives the dagger in deeper, the Emperor's blood gushing out to taint the land below.
Ethne reappears in the sky above Golgotha. Keeping Her gaze fixed on the Chaos Lord, the light around Her shivers. Overhead, the sun dims as the Goddess of Fire focuses, bending its will to the palm of Her hand. She looses the bolt of flame into Golgotha, causing his blood to sizzle and tearing the wound deeper.
The Earthen Lord springs into action once more, planting a foot into the ground before launching His colossal form skyward. He puts all His weight into a stony fist, reeling back and thrusting it forward as He aims a devastating punch toward Golgotha's head.
Seeing Her opening, Iosyne surges forward, all hesitation gone. The Goddess latches onto Golgotha's neck, Her offensively, impossibly wide smile visible for an instant before countless rows of jagged fangs sink into the Emperor's neck.
"AAAARGH!" screeches Emperor Golgotha, enduring nothing less than an utter beating beneath the Gods of Sapience. He flails, to no avail, for several moments - until his eyes come alight once again, and the beams of fury that fly from them strike fast and true. The web burns and falls around him, and he claws free, leaping skyward and cutting the last of the web from him. Gods topple around him as though they were scrubland before an unstoppable borders - blind with rage, he turns and demands: "A FAIR DUEL!" His voice resounds: "NO FOX'S TRICKS!" He thunders, as he vanishes into the air: "IT WILL BE YOUR FINAL DESTINATION, COWARDLY GET OF A COWARDLY FATHER!" He leans back out, just for a moment: "SPIDER! BE MY BRIDE, OR DIE ALONGSIDE THE REST! YOU HAVE UNTIL I RETURN WITH MY COURT TO RECONSIDER, BECAUSE AFTER THAT, I WILL WIPE THIS PLANE CLEAAAAAAAAAAAN!"
The rift to Chaos closes up as the Emperor retreats through it.
Severn strides across the skies, joining Damariel where He waits upon the edge of the battlefield. The Manipulator offers His Brother the dagger, bathed red with Golgotha's blood.
The hollow voice of Severn, the Manipulator echoes through the air, "You know what to do with this, Brother. I have unfinished business to attend to."
The Unbound grips the dagger with a grim nod, and turns down towards the barrow. "It will be done." He states.
The tang of iron and something indecipherable but sickening rises in the air, the seal of Chaos crackling as it is fed the Emperor's blood.
The Manipulator watches His Brother depart and then darts across the sky, His Divine frame looming across Bloodloch.
The hollow voice of Severn, the Manipulator echoes through the air, "Hear Me, traitors - you have chosen pride and ego over the safety of the realm. Not only have you placed all My Siblings in Immortal danger, but so too have you threatened My Father's creation. So be it, Indorani! Let Shadow blot you out as Light once did! Sapience has no further need of you."
The God of Shadow lifts His sole arm, a contemptuous sneer painted across His Minotaur's face. His fingers pierce the fabric of Prime like needles, finding purchase in reality with a strained and sickening squelch. The God tears open a rift to Czjetija, and blackness fills the sky, roiling Shadow briefly revealing itself. He seizes hold of an indescribable black mass, roiling and pulsing with Shadow's primeval fury. Out comes the dread hand, the mass within twisting and fighting in the God's hand - ancient, withered - and then He turns His fingers and drops it. Down it falls. Down, down like a blighted raindrop, carving through the rock of Bloodloch like a Luminary's enflamed mace through butter; it tears off a side of the mountain, carves downward, and stops only when a surge of lava scores the skies. This plume, Shadow-tainted, is barely brighter than an ember, rising and falling from the impact in eerie silence before fuller quiescence reigns.
Abominations of Shadow surge forward from the depths of the Shadow Plane, some ridden by vague-faced Shadowbound. Dread warcries shriek forth from the depths of the rift, and no sooner are they heard than Severn has snapped the portal shut once more. The severed tip of a Shadowy lance tumbles from the sky and falls to ground amidst the lava-filled crater which now lies far below.
Damariel mot Lanosaryon, the Unbound's voice rings out across the land like the falling of hammers, "Severn! Do not let Your fury risk Us all! You imbalance this Plane with your recklessness!"
The hollow voice of Severn, the Manipulator echoes through the air, "It is done, save your strength for the Leviathan. We have other battles to fight, and another traitor to find."
A tension dims and flickers the light of the heavens, but the Unbound falls to silence. The lingering note of unfinished business is clear.
Upon the 24th of Severin, 476 MA, there came a sudden burst of energy in the Western Tundra, and as it lingered the far northern skies were lit with a colourful display. Adventurers rushed to investigate, and quickly located the source of the disturbance: it came from within an ancient barrow which the Ankyreans once used to inter their dead...
In the following weeks, Lobyl worked with adventurers to fight back the dregs that appeared within the tundra at each interrupted Howling. He requested weapons to help fight these nightmarish enemies, claiming that the materials used to forge in this era were too pitiful to withstand his vigorous usage...
Upon the 8th of Khepary, the seal of Chaos finally fell - mortalkind's penchant for bloodletting had surprised even the Divine and Their war-weary eyes, granting the seal more time than They had anticipated...
The Grand Aetolian Library cannot, regretfully, give a full and accurate accounting of what transpired concerning Omei, the Nightmare and Her theft of the starmetal leg of Damariel mot Lanosaryon, in the month of Midsummer, amidst the business with the Leviathan...
In the weeks and months following the destruction of the seal of Chaos, mortal and Immortal alike began preparations for the fight to come, and sought means by which to oppose the dregs - hideous creatures of nightmare arising from the tundral deeps...
During the battles that took place between the Gray Accord and the dregs in the Western Tundra, many soldiers recounted terrifying visions that they saw when under the influence of the nightmare-gas...
It had been several months since Golgotha promised his coming, his heralds harassing the realm relentlessly. He sought revenge for the slight of ancient mortalkind using the corpses of his court to seal away the trapped Albedi entity, Jox.