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Events News Post #338

The Second War of Night, Part XXX: The Fourteenth General

Written by: Anonymous
Date: Wednesday, September 21st, 2022
Addressed to: Everyone

Long throughout the unwinding saga of the Second Night War has Iosyne, Lady Malevolent, suffered. When Ohlsana's rot first crept up against the borders of the Shadow Keep, it was Iosyne's own heart that held the line. Her faithful Order and Her loyal Bloodlochians toiled relentlessly to keep the heart vital and healthy in what seemed like a desperate effort to preserve both the Keep and the soulstone within, from destruction. In what most considered a miracle - a spell of luck in otherwise troubling times - the heart held out far longer than anyone expected, and the Keep stood. With the assent and even encouragement of Tyrant Elene, the Goddess responded to incursions across the world by deploying hundreds of Chiavs into the caverns, ordering them to act as guards in the city's defence.

Even at Memonaransa, despite Her ailing state, Iosyne maintained a cavalier and nonchalant demeanour, challenging Dhar and Bamathis on Strategy - Her original Virtue - without any sign of faltering. However, falter She eventually did. The heart, while yet protecting the Keep, declined, the blessings of the Goddess wrought in pain and becoming weaker. But still Iosyne held as a fast and reliable ally in the Night War.

In order to repair Her heart and strengthen the barriers against the rot, Iosyne tasked Xenia and Bloodloch at large with obtaining a Shard of Truth - a piece of that priceless Divine relic sought by all the continent, including the Shadow Generals. Following the demise of General Jokach and the epic battle against Major Seqyluros, Mjoll Seirath retrieved the Shadowbound Arborean's axe which, torn from the devastated Bloodwood, disintegrated to reveal one such Shard. When next Iosyne appeared, the Commander quickly passed the shard to Iosyne, who promised that She would see to the heart.

In the second day of Ios, as time yet again seemed to have a sense of humour, streaks of black and purple formed descending patterns in the firmament, bruise-like smudges visible even amidst the ubiquitous pall of the dark star. Sapience looked on, three cities distracted from their relentless raid on Spinesreach as, passing through the barriers dividing Sapience from what lay beyond, Shadow General Irgech withdrew from his position above the sky dome, a churning gyre of black and amethyst beginning to unwind.

Irgech spiralled into the Primal Eye, the pillar of animate darkness shrouding his form soon shedding to reveal his presence. General Azgon took a knee for the Shadow Mother's second-born, the corrupted Akkari showing deference and hints of fear. Loud enough to carry across the world, Irgech intoned in the harsh and polysyllabic tongue of Czjetija. The General's directive, issued with incontrovertible authority, grated through the air as if alive.

Some time passed without response, before a flickering silhouette appeared in the east. Bestriding the continent on massive limbs, the Shadowbound Dreikathi - the corrupted Titan - returned from his sojourn to Albedos, distant conflict leaving his body almost overwhelmed with wounds. The eld core, wrenched from a colossal shadow eld, hummed in his chest cavity, the lesser shadowspawn gaping in awe as he returned to the Eye, panting from his injuries.

Far in the south, sheltered by the eaves of the Itzatl, Saglozol emerged amidst a haze of tainted memory mists. The General disbanded the clandestine command post from which it had worked in secret and turned north, spectral evanescence still shrouding it from sight. At the Eye, Saglozol's silhouette congealed into tangible form, the now four Generals - three plus one of supreme authority - standing together. Angelbane paced restlessly, visibly frustrated and displeased. Lifting his voice again, Irgech's second command seared the sky with indelible dominion, his usage of the common tongue fractured but nevertheless comprehensible. "The time is now. Come, Fourteenth now Sixth," he ordered, the collective onlookers of Sapience left reeling in confusion.

Then, skittering legs and clicking mandibles resounded from the caverns of Bloodloch, the scores of armoured Chiavs stirring into sudden motion. In a voice laden with dark malevolence, Iosyne, styling Herself as Shadow General Nega-Iosyne, intoned, "Victory is assured." While Sapience gaped in shock and disbelief and horrible realisation dawned on Mjoll, the arachnids chittered in delight before turning on the Empire's guardsmen in a sudden ambush, united in purpose as though conjoined by a hive mind.

Venomous fangs and mighty flails worked as one, the efficiency of the Chiav matched only by their absolute brutality. Impersonating refugees, Shadowbound infiltrators cast off their disguises and joined the massacre, knives and black-edged blades in hand. Indorani Scions and Earthen acolytes fell, assassinated by fang and clawed limb. Carnifex Knights
collapsed to the ground as fatal poison wracked their bloodstream. Colossal Teradrim crumbled to dust, their forms shattered by the unexpected siege from within. Last to hold out were the imperious Consanguine, brought low by tangling webs before finding themselves scattered to disparate mist and forced to reform elsewhere.

As the bodies lay strewn throughout the subterrain and the streets ran rampant with blood, the Chiav fanned out across the city, taking up positions near the gates. Hissing portals opened within the depths, black and violet gateways slicing reality open to allow the ingress of Shadowbound soldiers in the hundreds. The caverns quaked beneath the lockstep march of division after division, each filing diligently into place. Guarding the borders of their newly acquired lands, the soldiers closed ranks and stood implacable, ready to repel invaders.

They would soon have their chance. As the Empire rallied and attempted to fight their way through the hundreds of aggressive Chiav and rapidly growing numbers of shadowspawn filling their caverns, the fourteenth Shadow General Iosyne dispersed in a corkscrew of inky black shadow. As the spider Goddess manifested at once-Sterion's centre, a glint of silver light sparkled in the distance. Iosyne wore a look of triumph, and passed the Shard of Truth's Sword into Irgech's hands. The Carnifex, fearful for their soulstone and inhabitants of the Keep, immediately ordered an evacuation, their denizens absconding to the infernal reaches of Perdition with soulstones in tow for their own protection.

Disbanding most of Her order in the clamour, Iosyne reappeared before the Shadow Keep to reclaim Her heart that had come under attack by the Carnifex. The locket, for so long a symbol of hope and resistance, flew into Her hands as She declared the facade to be no longer necessary. Then, She simply disappeared. In hindsight, the Grand Library remarks, the signs of Iosyne's treachery are plain to see, though the when or the how She had become such remains unclear. The Goddess did not come to the aid of Her consort, Severn when threatened by Haern, nor when He battled Murgraxis; Her arguments at Memonaransa leaned towards keeping the Unbound Lord on the Prime; Bloodloch was miraculously spared the invasions suffered by the rest of the continent (at least until General Sanaz came to retrieve Damendar), and the Warlord's suspicion of Her knowledge regarding Sanaz's plot with Perdition - a theory based on Her devotion to the Keep - seems now a bitter portent.

Angelbane betrayed neither emotion nor reaction to the receipt of the great prize. His form quavered, rippling in and out of focus as he entered the rift to Czjetija, barking orders to the three remaining Generals to prepare themselves before vanishing entirely from sight.

More and more soldiers entered Bloodloch alongside shadowspawn infantry, the caverns groaning under the roiling of what was by now a monstrous black wave. Shilkar, having managed to escape in the carnage, advised the city's immediate retreat to El'jazira, and the plotting to retake their home, a scheme allegedly devised by Abhorash, began. As the armoured Chiav forcibly escorted what few daring citizens remained behind in Bloodloch, eerie quiescence fell upon the caverns. The city, now fully under Czjetijan control, still stood as an Empire, but one of Ohlsana's Imperial Domain; the First of Four. A short while later, bereft of Iosyne's protection, the gates of the Shadow Keep toppled with a heavy groan, subsumed by the encroaching rot.

Bloodloch has fallen. The world is at war - with both itself and Czjetija. The entrance to the Carnifex fortress now lays open to further advancement of shadow. Most important of all: the Shadow now possesses a Shard of Truth, and General Irgech works at unravelling the bonds keeping Ohlsana's true might at bay...

Penned by my hand on Kinsday, the 3rd of Ios, in the year 505 MA.
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