The Worldeater Saga, Part XXII: Blood Calls Blood

As Drakkenmont laid siege to the Dragon of the North, the Sanguine Fist set forth upon the final steps of their own part of their shared plan. Led by Akarn, Thronekeeper of Flesh, the citizens of Bloodloch enacted a grand ritual of soul, bone, and blood to mobilise the malevolent concoctions they had dreamed up.

Throughout the days leading up to this moment, the city had accumulated multiple virulent poisons, tainted objects, a truly staggering quantity of vardrax, and even a small sample of the Hegemonist’s blood – with these, they saw to the preparation of a grand act of sorcery. Intent upon bestowing a terrible curse upon Varyan Celestine’s Tree of Creation, the city sketched runes of blood and called upon eldritch spellcraft in hopes of seeing their aims bear fruit.

Even as their fellow citizens enacted fell sorcery, Thronekeeper Taj and Commander Yettave engaged the Argent Watch at the foot of the Varyanic Tree. Equipped with ylemnic armour provided by House Zaxandor’s emissary and many signal flares meant to contact the armada’s commanding officers, the two utilised a combination of the Hegemonist’s fleeting gifts, Dreikathi air support, and pure military grit to tear through the intercession of the Celestine’s supporters. Though they faced well beyond their numbers, the duo’s handpicked strike force held fast and fought for the glory of the one true Empire, intent upon boring a way through to the roots of the Tree so that they might taint its arboreal heart.

And so, in the first hours of the two-hundred-and-twenty-third day of the brutal Duel in the heavens, the final phase of this devilish deal unfoldeda
As the final ritual seal met its close, the Sanguine Fist made its decisive move.

The works of the city’s dark ritual, a massive rune of blood scrawled across the sky above Bloodloch. There it lingered for brief moments, the geometric impossibilities of its every angle and vertice an omen of its heretical intent – then the rune dissolved, droplets of blood cascading upon the way to the arbour’s roots carved out by the city’s military campaign. Invoking powerful blood magics, the citizens of the city vanished to the root nexus of the Creators’ Trees deep belowground.

Within this cavern did the massive rune pour forth its blasphemous works: the expulsion of weeks of accumulated devastation by Bloodloch’s citizens, of catalysts and venoms, toxins and diseases; of creatures majestic and mundane, grand and small; of weaponry and ordnance, cutting and explosive; of blood and self, freely offered; and even of Divinity, essences and symbols of worship.

Then was the mission of the Hegemonist’s chosen revealed: rejoining the Empire from their sabbatical, Maeve and Paxe directed the Chaos essence each had gathered in the root system, the finishing touch on the rot that now coursed through the vast network of roots. Roots weakened and exposed, the city then collectively fell upon them with frenzied fervour, hacking the nexus apart as sickening rot peeled away the defences of Varian’s Tree. With the campaign successful, the heretical rune finally expelled the last of its ritual energies returning Bloodloch’s citizens back to their volcano before evaporating.

It was now that, brought to the brink of collapse by overuse, Drakkenmont’s ylemnic armour engaged a self-destruct sequence around the two warriors wearing the exotic artillery suits. In a catastrophic explosion, both eld cores experienced energy generation levels unseen in ages, causing an explosion that smeared Taj’s remains across the Tree in a lurid streak of visceral incandescence. Though Yettave found himself trapped in similar circumstances, his sheer might and accumulated brawn managed to survive the blast – and the ylemnic core boring into his chest. Fused with the object of crystallised power, the Carnifex Commander experienced ylemnic ascension in one fleeting moment of untold, primordial power – and from the blast stepped a newly wrought Titan, prepared to serve his Empire’s demands.

Led by Regent Sheryni Nebre’seir and Afviti Kagura Tsuchimiya, two commanders that had given their lives to delay the Polemarch’s assault, the North sought vengeance for the deaths of their comrades, marching into Bloodloch itself to stake their claim. This bloodied whirlwind was short-lived, however, for a siren’s blare soon cut through the din of warfare and propeller roar – a herald of the Dreikathi armada’s final part in this dreaded scheme.

Several ylemtech engineers then emerged from belowdeck, their arms laden with myriad modifications meant for the armada’s advanced assault. They attached these new components and installed individual ylemcores, intent upon displaying imperial efficiency. Turret operators streamed out from the hold and took up their position at each artillery unit before motioning for their technical partners to step aside. Grim determination decorated the features of every soldier then, their intent clear: to tear down Immortal Life’s handiwork.

Taking aim at the behest of their commanding officers, the gunners soon answered the call to open fire. Ylemnic destruction rampaged outward as they fired in unison, carving ruin throughout the embattled skies of the Monomachy. Magitechnical massacre manifested at first contact as the gunners combined and crossed streams, elemental force working in tandem with ylemnic empowerment to embody the horrors of war. The armada riddled the Tree of Creation in a perpetual salve of searing, prismatic death, enacting terrifying brutality that pulped its outer bark with the force of its impact. Those that remained were caught in the uttermost obliteration of concentrated artillery fire that created a catastrophic storm of ylemtechnical agony, and those who fell became yet another footnote in the annals of Drakkenmont’s all-encompassing conquest.

Though the Dreikathi assault drowned the arbour in a deluge of ordnance without the burden of precision, the apocalyptic holocaust left the Eschaton’s titan unscathed. Amidst the spectacle of the Tree’s siege, a burgeoning, unnatural glow enfolded the moon, bespeaking a heretoforth unnoticed usurpation. Soon, however, it became impossible to turn a blind eye to the mysterious interloper as the sky itself bled with an unnatural luminescence that served as a brilliant flare that greedily stretched across the cosmos. No mere coincidence was this intermission, for when the intense radiance reached the siege upon Creation’s Trees, the light plunged downward with abhorrent intent, interceding into this hitherto one-sided assault.

Where this radiance laid its touch upon the Eschaton’s Tree, it began to shimmer and shift, the nebulae hosted within its bark flickering dark as galaxies met the ravenous, devouring jaws of the blood moon’s insidious brilliance. A thunderous crack roared across Sapience as fissures stretched forth from the Tree’s hollow, veins of Creation’s essence spilling forth in agitated waves. Where these cracks contacted the Tree’s glimmering foliage, it withered upon the branch, crumbling into dull motes of stellar dust. In the face of such an alien assault, it took mere minutes before the Eschaton’s arboreal monument met near total annihilation. The Tree crashed down with the gravity of millenia, naught but the inescapable dark of emptied galaxies now reflected upon its desiccated form.

Cries of dismay rang out across the realm as supporters of the Eschaton, emboldened mere moments ago with the predicament of His counterpart’s Tree, witnessed the turbulent shifting of tides and the total destruction of the Helm’s work. Faith faltered and died, belief extinguished in the face of such abrupt, decisive defeat. Purpose fulfilled, the interloping effulgence of the blood moon released its stranglehold upon the heavens and drew back the curtain of a frightful illusion in its wake. The seemingly decimated Eschatonic titan faded, revealing its true form: still unbowed, unbroken, defiant in the face of neighbouring carnage.

The next salvo from the Dreikathi armada soon sheared a massive branch clear off the Celestine’s Tree. Caught in the collateral detonation, charred bark and bleeding wounds appeared in earnest on the Eschaton’s Tree – no illusion this, for rivulets of Creation’s puissance soon ran down its wounded trunk. Its defences shorn from the abdication of faith, the death of belief, the victimised Tree’s twin proved a helpless bystander to its own impending doom. As the Dreikathi set upon its counterpart with renewed tenacity, the destructive halo of their weaponry could no longer be shrugged off: each salvo that tore chunks off Varian’s Tree proliferated destruction upon the Eschaton’s in kind. Despite this new development, the fleet betrayed neither surprise nor hesitation in its bombardment.

Deeming the second Tree acceptable collateral, Drakkenmont’s aerial armada accelerated their audacious assault.

Macabre fusions of technology and magic alike visited unrelenting havoc upon the two towering monoliths of Creation, the eclectic arsenal carving deeper and more devastating scars upon both Trees. Huge chunks of bark misted the air with each savage pass, revealing the raw wood that pulsed beneath their wondrous outer layers. The majestic trunks, once thought indestructible, now bore gaping wounds that bled a shimmering sap that pooled on the ground below. As protective bark fell away from the twin arbours, a rare moment of respite reigned over the realm as the fleet stilled their barrage.

Peace lasted scant heartbeats, however, as a deafening whir emanated from the Dreikathi lead ship. A hatch soon peeled open atop its deck and ejected a glowing sphere that assumed autonomous flight without input from its host. As it traced a steady path towards the arbour, the Dreikathi armada hastily initiated a retreat away from the scene of destruction, maintaining formation a sensible distance away. As the enigmatic ordnance floated forward, a foreboding calm overtook once-Yggdrasil’s surroundings.

The sphere stilled amidst the branches of the Celestine’s Tree and the rings encasing the contraption soon began swirling with chaotic fervour. As the motion accelerated, the latent energy of the sphere’s surroundings folded into its mysterious depths. It became a gleaming beacon, a vacuum, a nexus of catastrophe affixed into space overlooking the twin titans towering over the blackened ruins of Bamathis’ fortress. As this arcane technology continued to consume the energy of its surroundings, the temperature in the area dropped precipitously, resulting in sheets of frost that rapidly claimed every nearby surface. The terrifying orb remained there in the sky for some time, radiant as a crystalline snowflake, its perpetual motion casting off the hoarfrost that continually formed about it.

Then, without warning, the serene stillness vanished.

Cleaved by an embryonic spark that was but an incipient glimmer at the heart of the Dreikathi device, the orb roared outward. This nascent flicker served as the harbinger of Drakkenmont’s boundless fury, its force burgeoning with a voracity unparalleled as the colossal energies collected within found unfettered, catastrophic release.

Soon, Sapience was greeted with the birth of an ephemeral second sun. A burst of radiance as beautiful as it was catastrophic, this transient luminary’s brilliance bathed the world in blinding light and overwhelming destructive force. Radiating outward in concentric rings, the energy tore at the very fabric of reality, setting all the realm to an existential waver in one cataclysmic ripple of unbelievable force. Deafening sound chased the heels of this harrowing visual, a stentorian roar that washed out everything it passed with the unrelenting thunder of magitechnical horror.

In the aftermath of catastrophe, the charred remains of the Trees still clung to life. Their essence bled by untrammelled rancour, the arbours experienced a petrification of most of their branches and the absolute obliteration of their outer bark, leaving their pulpy, glimmering innards exposed to the rigours of the elements. Only the hardiest of branches persevered through this militant onslaught, leaving both Trees severely wounded.

Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 4th of Variach, in the year 512 MA.