The Worldeater Saga, Part XII: The Claw of Hope

As Divine battle raged upon the high seas, Ivoln and Dhar worked at the final bindings holding Seelis within Her kagamine kiln. The obfuscating veil barring Her prison from feverish Polyargan air rippled one last time and then faded away, revealing the fruit of Their collective toil. The Master of War concluded His brutal craft with several concussive strikes against a wall so recently revealed by His grim accomplice, the oily primordial metal of the last layer yielding to His domineering strength.

Bared to the world after thousands of years of deceptive Artifice was one lone seal, its heart bored into by a jet of charnel energy from Death’s outstretched fingertip.

Satisfied with Their work, Death and Earth cast one final look over Their handiwork and then evanesced into the eldritch smog before going Their separate ways, Their eyes – and thoughts – weighing heavily upon events yet to come.

Soon, an argentine shimmer of Divine essence sliced open the air upon the shore of Polyargos, the gash in reality parting like a stronghold’s double doors to make way for Bamathis, the Favoured Son. In His gauntleted fist shined Caelestis, its wicked gleam rivalled only by the polished cuirass girding His Ankyrean form. Calling for Sapience to unite against the Albedi abominations, He implored the Argent Legion and Watch alike to prepare for battle within once-Aalen, instructing them to hold the line there.

Finished with His speech, the Divine soldier then surveyed the volcano looming at the island’s centre, His jaw set into a hardened grimace. Braids of fire and smoke conspired at the heart of a grave stormfront, their union of choking ash birthing an army of incandescent servants separating the God from those that would march beneath His banner. In a rain of volcanic ash and crucius hellfire, these minions of Accordant Fire converged within the Bloodwood, intent on repelling Sapience’s claim.

As Infernal heat reigned upon the field of battle on the mainland, Strife Incarnate took the first steps of His grim march, His sword bare to the hazy air of ash-riddled Polyargos. Wheresoever the Harlot’s heretical forces conspired to stymie His purposeful advance, they met the full force of His methodical might, their forms broken effortlessly beneath the rigours of His assault. Leaving naught but soot and trampled sparks in His wake, Bamathis christened the island in the proof of His immortal resolve one foe at a time, unstoppable in His sacred purpose.

As whorls of smoke and crackling fire churned in the skies above the embattled Sapient soldiers, fabricating another legion of molten foes, rank after rank of fervent, fevered minions rose to bar War’s path. Their resistance proved a daring test that failed to meet the standards of His ineffable strength, their cinders scattered upon stultifying winds. Bamathis hurled Himself into each fight, the martial mastery of His Ankyrean vessel on violent, incontrovertible display with every precise martial movement. Embodying efficient brutality, His mere presence served as a force of annihilation, His essence laying waste to all who came forth to face Him.

Protected by the invincible aegis that was duty’s grim resolve, He crossed flaming rivers of lava, His course guiding Him ever nearer to the prison ensconced within Polyargos’ molten core. Through the threshold of Ankyrean antiquity, Varian Celestine’s chosen Son marched, His sandaled footfalls echoing throughout the smoky corridors now bereft of mortal presence. He travelled deep, past seals so recently shattered, past the ruined outer layer of the colossal kiln shaped by the expert hands of a Brother He never met in an age He never knew.

The Argent Warlord’s dogged trek ended before the final seal, its shadow-affine material straining beneath the demand placed upon it: to be the last bastion dividing centuries of slumbering peace from imminent and inevitable war. Bamathis lifted high the blade of Sapience and, without a moment’s surcease or hesitation, brought it crashing down in a titanic strike that gouged deep into that which kept Him from His flaming foe.

As He toiled, yet more molten assailants coalesced around the Silver Son. Intent upon forestalling the inevitable confrontation to come, they closed ranks around Bamathis in a swarm of choking soot. Each emergence fizzled out before their first move was made, exudations of interminable power breaking all that dared to stand in opposition of the Warlord’s mandated objective. Within the crucible that was Strife, the Rahielan rabble crumbled to ash at His feet, torn asunder by the violent energy roiling about the Celestine’s enforcer and favoured son.

The ring of Divine handiwork contending in a war of durability resounded throughout Creation, all the realm of Sapience shuddering as this final protective ward buckled beneath Bamathis’ martial prowess. With another brutal blow, He scored a long, ragged fissure along the seal’s face, His insistent force pushing it to the brink of destruction. Oily essence wept from this wound wrought by Bamathis, its emergence bringing with it wisps of caliginous smoke. He paused then, took a deep breath, and steeled His nerve in the calm before the conflagrant storm soon to emerge from the other side of this last lock.

As the final elemental fell upon the mainland, its scattered embers once more rejoined the churning storm of ash and heat that loomed above Sapience’s coastline. Kindled from the horrifying heart of catastrophe, a single sleek silhouette emerged from the darkened depths that is Polyargos’ volcanic detritus: Aiyitu, Citale fio Siha – the Rahielan Claw of Hope.

Fiery battle raged across the scoured Bloodwood, lava and smoke manifested upon its blank canvas as the greater elemental sought assailants aligned against its burning Mistress. Amidst the carnage, the Hammer set out upon their daring rescue mission, rowing boats and carrying stretchers to evacuate the leper colony upon Polyargos’ embattled shores, their humanitarian work punctuated by a much bloodier intent: to bombard the Argent Watch from afar.

Calling for aid, Rhulin Glintspear directed several citizens of the Hammer to bring him explosives from the ship’s hold to load into the Dawbreaker’s Dwarven bombthrower. Scrambling to assist, they launched their first strike to no avail. Soon, however, the city developed a rhythm for carrying and loading the dangerous ordnance, and they began showering their foes in explosive hellfire from the relative safety of the seas.

As the battle drew near to a close, it was Eaku Redwood that suggested a colossal final salvo. Loading each and every bombthrower with a deadly payload, the Hammer launched each of them in tandem, wreaking havoc and lethal conflagration upon the entirety of the Argent Watch. Content with the price of blood taken in vengeance for the recently fallen Aiyitu, the Hammer sailed back to the city, their attention upon the increasingly distant island at their backs.

With one final strike, the last seal gave way beneath Bamathis’ divine onslaught. The alien material clattered to the ground, leaving the gaol without a mechanism to remain closed. The Silver Son strode into the kiln-prison proper, His expression resolute, His argent aura bristling with murderous intent…

Penned by my hand on Closday, the 25th of Midsummer, in the year 511 MA.