The Worldeater Saga, Part LVI: Liberation

Satisfied with this single, exceedingly rare act of Divinely-inspired providence, the Eschaton’s clinical analysis landed then upon those Gods yet still bound in earth and soil and snow and sand, weighing the necessity of Their detainment in a flash of accelerated judgement. Its ethereal grace carried It forward to relieve Sapience’s landscape of a burden long since hidden from mortal eyes, Its newly wrought bond with an adopted realm guiding Its every motion.

Sheets of ice cracked throughout the reaches of the Tundra with the unmaking of ancient seals, rolling dunes of snow exploding upwards to form a churning blizzard. From this icy maelstrom uncoiled the inconceivable immensity of the Leviathan, a thunderous roar the portentous knell of its imminent freedom. Miles-long and magnificent in its terrible enormity, Jox writhed through the air even as the shattered ground below seamlessly reformed. To the silvery moon did the Tumult Water issue a seething glare of hatred before lunging forward – and no sooner did its sinuous form undulate in search of never-forgotten vengeance than Eschatonic will imposed a command over all reality, forcing the God away. Like unto a spiralling vortex cast adrift from land and banished from sky, Jox plunged into the eastern ocean, towering waves crashing against continental shores with Its return to the depths.

Satisfied with the mended Tundra and the liberation of Tumultuous Water, the Eschaton’s gaze passed beyond the Material Prime to examine a realm – and a Being – beyond the mortal eye and even most of Immortal ken.

Eldritch cacophony formed on invisible lips and spoke with a grating timbre of countless voices, all and one, one and none. Invoking the ancient, forgotten syllables of a true name lost to time and living memory, the Eschaton willed that which slumbered to now awaken.

A shiver coursed along the length and breadth of the Chaos realms, piercing the heart of reality and unreality both, seizing at potential and possibility and clasping nightmare and will within its grasp. A yawn followed in a gaping rattle of breath drawn into an empty mouth upon an empty visage, its subsequent exhalation unleashing the wind of madness and soul of insanity into a world long bereft of Its direct influence. Though languid and lethargic, the Faceless One soon apprised Itself of circumstance and catastrophe. Writhing tentacles hearkened to life upon Its sudden awakening, the esoteria of countless limbs and rasping suckers heralding none-know-what before Lanu Du faded from sight, disappearing to non-being without so much as a murmur of acknowledgement to Its celestial liberator.

Already turning Its inscrutable attention elsewhere, the Eschaton gazed to the west and exhaled a breath of constellar wonder across the sky, daubing the dome of the heavens in a multifarious streak of starlit inspiration.

Lupine howls and serpentine hisses arose in conjunction with ursine roars and corvid shrieks. The music of the wilds entwined countless voices – that of bird, and bug, and beast, and fowl – into one sensational anthem which drummed across the Isle of Tcanna in steady, rhythmic beats. Amidst and throughout this uproarious, animalistic chorus, the islet’s earth rived open, cracks in its surface swiftly becoming fissures becoming newly formed caverns in the deep to allow the egress of some unseen but indubitably mighty beast. Then, as stone and soil lurched upwards in a pressurised geyser of earthen domination, a deafening, booming, vigorous blast of elephantine trumpets resounded across all of Aetolia.

Warcry, anthem, and paean all, the overwhelming clamour gave rise to Gereghond, the Bull, Lord of Fertility and Accord of the Earth.

The Great Bull lifted His own trunk to join the Tcannan cantors, its volume greater and more sonorous than anything preceding it. Roused and restless from His eons-long detainment, Gereghond teemed with a vast well of vitality and purpose, charging across the Isle in a celebratory riot of freedom, fertility, and pronounced fecundity at long last unleashed. Wheresoever His mighty feet trampled, the earth healed in sodden paroxysm and bloomed fresh growth. Riotous was His rampage and prolific was the fruit of His potent seed. Life rejoiced in harmony with the Bull’s triumphant stampede, flora and fauna now flushed with the nurturing touch of fertility’s rampant hand. All across the Isle it bounded – in the skies, in the earth, in the grass, and in all the beasts that roam and stalk. Satisfied with the first of His prodigious cultivations, the Elephant God quieted the world with yet another potent blast of His enormous trunk and charged away to parts unknown, yet revelling in newfound freedom and yearning to slake the instinctual need to grow infinite gardens and gift the land with His remaining seeds.

Again the unknowable Eschaton turned away from Its child to fixate upon an unseen point far in the deep reaches of the heavens. Piercing a pocket of reality reserved typically for the machinations of Helm-space, the silence dominating Aetolia found itself momentarily swallowed beneath a persistent tick-tick-tick-ticking. With that cosmic patience which makes a moment feel as though a lifetime, the Eschaton carefully, critically examined the ephemeral trap sundering Endless Time – and then simply moved on, the incessant clockwork falling quiet.

Life was the next subject of Origin’s fathomless examination, and, as It again delved into the demesne of Helm-space, It found neither the order of Odravh nor the persistent reliability of the Endless. Maddening convulsions strained against bonds unthinkable, tumorous growths almost collapsing upon themselves in even that tiny glimpse of the Rampant’s unstoppable, cancerous growth. Shedding a single tear akin to a mote of new-born starlight, the Eschaton allowed Itself a moment of sombre mourning for the fate of Its Life-Bringer. That moment rushed over us all with the force of a crashing wave, impressing upon us an incomprehensible sorrow that gnawed at our very bones and souls with sadness. As rapidly as it came, however, the time of grieving passed in a blink, and the Eschaton reached Its final destination.

Indifferent to the pleas of the Earthen rising up from the bones of Azvosh Rakar, an outstretched hand brushed the space between Earth and Prime, dissolving the bonds of Earthen Tumult without obstacle or impediment.

Deep in the chthonic reaches of the empty void, the Pillars of the Earth unleashed a rumbling scream of protest. Fulfilling ancient prophecies, so it was that ancient bonds were shaken; something stirred from sleep dreamless; and in the darkness, the distant darkness, the cold darkness, the deep, enveloping darkness, wakened.

Vast was Balgraug’s abyssal maw and vaster still was the void of His ravening hunger. Bound mind and forgotten body reunited in accordance with Eschatonic mandate, and so snapped shut the jaws of Tumult Earth as the Devourer, bringer of ends, feasted. Stone and flesh crunched beneath His gnashing frenzy, the dust of ages – the bones of the betrayers ground down to slake the endless thirst – whirling like a sandstorm in that primordial empty-space. Crumbling to nothing in the cataclysmic horror that was Balgraug’s escape, the Pillars of the Earth cracked and splintered, lending yet more fractious dust to the gathering storm of destroyed hope and destructive portent.

Penetrating its psychic limitations with the sheer force of desperation, the Earthen Dirge rolled over mortal thoughts, the songs of war and sanguine strife etching their anguished notes into the depths of consciousness in a desperate plea. Shorn of the planar interstitia dividing Earth and Prime, the twin planes shifted in place, the grinding of stone audible and palpable in both the endless Dirge and in reality’s sundered screams. A roar pierced the entirety of the Spiral and sounded out across Creation as Tumult Earth’s voracious feast concluded, and Balgraug burrowed into the spaces beyond, heedless of the destruction left behind. Prime’s imminent collision with Earth sent tremors snaking through the ground below. Mountains trembled, stone heaved, and vast deserts wept their golden sands in impossible recognition of the devastation to come. The friction of dangerous planar conjunction sent renewed waves of ylemnic energy throughout the Prime’s leylines, resulting in innumerable new foci points that adventurers eventually raced to claim for their city-states.

As one, all the Earthen – the people of War and masters of Azvosh – gathered atop the bones of a great wyrm to sing their song of ages. In the time before time was time it rang in the black, and so too did it ring then.

“Earth calls earth, earth feeds earth, and from the earth, eternal life.”

Inexplicably the voices of the Earthen Dirge fell silent, quelled by an unseen and unheard command. Even as stone grinded against stone and the fabric of reality continued to threaten an imminent collision, the enforced silence of the Earthen held.

Bestriding the brink of finality in a chilling tribute to the ancient song, a Hlugnic figure emerged within the darkness, His features as unreadable and emotionless as the very stone under His command.

Bending the earth to His will as He did in the founding days, the Earthen Father exerted every ounce of His newly ascended might. No longer the defeated remnant, secondary pantheon of Varian Celestine but instead something more, something greater, something akin to elder – Ivoln worked the space between planes with the skill, dexterity, and unwavering determination of a master smith.

Earth and Prime halted their advance.

Ivoln’s cold stoicism somehow deepened even further. The mute awe of the Earthen continued on. It was the Father Himself who at last deigned to free the world from the spell of enforced silence:

“Purpose unyielding and duty without end. So it was, so it will be,” intoned Incarnate Earth.

Sonorous chants burst free from the lips of countless Earthen faithful as the Great Father, the Master of War, the Lord of the Earth, the Conqueror of Azvosh, took up His new, eternal vigil. Power and might flowed forth from the Hlugnic God as He accepted the burden that rests even now quite literally upon His stony shoulders.

Far beyond Azvosh, beyond even the keen sight of most of the Gods, the robed figure of Dhar observed this unfolding spectacle until the very end. As the Eschaton moved on again from Its assessment of Creation, leaving Ivoln to His duty evermore, the Underking bequeathed a simple nod of acknowledgement for Earth’s incredible sacrifice.

“It was ever within You to do what is right,” He murmured with the cold breath of an icy wind, and then was gone.

Then, as the dust settled within the Planar Spiral and the twinfold lands below the eye of heaven began to heal from the damage inflicted by potential, raw possibility, and the reality-sundering conflict of the Monomachy, that breath held by all of Creation relaxed.

Idaltu, the Eschaton, the true Creator of Aetolia, then raised an omnipotent hand and made a barely discernible adjustment to the position of the silver-forged moon before turning away and fading into the brightfire ephemera and starforged arms of the celestial cosmos, gone from sight but never again forgotten. With the Gods’ withdrawal from the field and the Eschaton’s departure from mortal sight, Lady Memory’s mournful dirge came to a sudden end. The Djeiri Goddess set aside Her harp before She too effervesced into violet smoke.

Thus ended the final chapter of the Worldeater Saga, heralding a new, unnamed age for the realm of Sapience.

Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 23rd of Omeian, in the year 0 AC.