Streaking downward like an atramentous comet, Severn materialised between Damariel and His foes. Churning vortices of sable deception consumed the air, masking threatening movements and cunning gambits in His fabled obfuscation. Surprise broke through the stoic grit of Damariel’s expression as He looked upon His newly-arrived Twin, His grip tightening upon Daybreak. A single thud of His starmetal prosthetic rang out as He took a half-step back, sudden wariness commanding His motions.
Where Truth felt shock, Strife felt only fury. It bloomed upon Bamathis’ carefully marshalled features, a commanding officer’s demeanour shattered by this unforeseen intervention. The Warlord issued a wordless bellow and cut forward to join battle anew, Caelestis at the ready.
Putting together the truth of Severn’s arrival, Damariel leapt into action Himself. He took up a position at His Twin’s right, His greatsword poised for the righteous work to come. As One, the Two converged upon Bamathis in a violent conjunction of day and night, Their martial unity bearing down: Twins arrayed against the Favoured Son. Bringing Strife to heel beneath the blinding force of ancient strategy and primordial kinship, Severn and Damariel soon cast Their attentions towards the rest of Their opposition.
The combined might of Varian’s firstborn Sons bloomed then like the glare of a second sun and umbral moon, Truth and Reason a twin force of nature effortlessly eclipsing Their lesser siblings. Dark and light interplayed in a chiaroscuro echo of timeless brotherhood, the collective might of the Twins rapidly forcing Their Father’s supporters onto the defensive. A tempest of Immortal might unleashed consumed the battlefield in glaring brilliance and smoky shadow, tearing through wards and weapons alike in a blur of motion and prowess. Mighty Life, insidious Corruption, inevitable Death, unyielding Earth, and steadfast Strife one and all were lost in the depths of a twin assault consisting of tactics long left to time’s forgetful dust and yet never scoured from Divine memory.
In mere moments of blinding, obfuscating potency, Damariel and Severn stood triumphant before five of Their subdued Siblings. The Lord of Truth hefted Daybreak aloft and prepared to deliver a final executioner’s swing, righteous indignation shining in His stormy eyes as He looked upon humbled Bamathis.
“It is time We bring Father’s butcher to justice, Sevren. There can be no peace for so long as Strife lives,” Damariel mot Lanosaryon insisted.
Chakrasul soon cackled at this display of brutality, noting that the Unbound now hid a cold heart behind the cloak of His righteousness. “A small push,” She said, “and You would become a mad dog just like Arion was near the end.”
As Corruption needled Truth, Severn issued a simple, dismissive gesture. Soon, the coils of shadow and light that held His defeated Siblings in place dispersed, allowing Them to draw back and look out across the field at Their opposition.
“No, Brother. My aim is not fratricide today, not when We still have need of Them for the war to come,” Severn finally replied.
Both Damariel and Bamathis demanded explanations, with the Lord of Truth accusing His Twin of some underlying scheme.
“I stand as I always have, My Twin. You should know this better than anyone,” Reason declared.
Ethne was quick to provide Her own input then, Her patience run ragged by recent events: “Hmph, as usual He spews words that say little and mean nothing. Come, Damariel, We do not need Him.”
“Sevren, set aside Your prevarication. Speak plainly: do You intend to oppose Father?” Damariel pressed, His eyes fixed upon Severn. The Manipulator nodded and affirmed that He would defy Father Varian.
“Traitor!” Bamathis snarled as He reached for Caelestis once more, His fury renewed. “I thought You above all Others understood My mission! You would side with the menace that seeks to destroy His Creation?”
“I did warn You this would happen, Baby Brother,” wild Haern growled as He reached out to stay Strife’s arm, one feral hand enclosing around it to impart severity. “A serpent will ever seek its bite.”
“Ha, what a poor jape this whole farce is. Severn, We will never trust You!” Slyphe jeered, Audacity held at the ready in Their staunch grasp.
“We will not, nor does He expect Us to, but assurances can be made,” Truth admitted. “You were ever Father’s foremost lapdog before Strife usurped Your place. Enlighten Me, Brother, what is Your Reason for this change of heart?”
“It began with this Revelation My Daughter brought Us,” Lord Severn elaborated. “Father trusted You and I above all Other with His secrets, and Us Twins alone were entrusted with knowledge shorn from the Others. But never did Father tell Us anything of His first world.”
“Why is that, I wondered?” Reason continued. “At first, I suspected Father sought to hide His shame… but I swiftly discounted this, for His survival would be more assured by sharing the truth with Us. He would want to be as prepared as possible to resist another confrontation with Oblivion.”
“These are meaningless considerations of a traitor. That world is long gone and Ours stands in its place – and it must be safeguarded!” the Warlord soon scoffed.
“It is dead in name only, Bamathis,” Severn immediately corrected. “Its memory drifts within the Source of Knowledge, where My Daughter stumbled upon it and claimed its revelations for Her purposes. I thought upon that – why keep Azhoa’s memory in the Source? – and upon My other Siblings. Omei had always resisted Our Father, always regarded Him with suspicion and committed Herself to rebellion from conception. Once I knew what He had done in times past, it finally made sense: She is Instinct, and She is driven to survive. She knew how lethal He could be.”
As the Nightmare seethed over Her Father’s constant mistreatments, Corrupted Might burst into cruel laughter.
“All the trickery. All the hiding, the difficulties, the enigmatic designs. It all added up: He would have consumed us as surely as He did Azhoa if He needed to – and the Monomachy’s length tells Me that He shall indeed require Our ends,” Severn carried on, drawing Dhar’s ire then as the Lord of the Grave finally spoke up.
“Hypocritical words, yet still inconsequential,” Death Incarnate insisted. “All things must reach an end, even Us. And if We fail Our duty, that end is all but inevitable.”
“Brother Death is correct,” Bamathis added. “Should that end befall Us, it would mean Our doom was already assured, as it was for Azhoa. That Father should survive to create anew is a virtue to be extolled. I expected better from You, Deceiver, than the same faulty logic the blasphemers fall for.”
The Ard-Dhasani dismissed this claim with one wave of a brutish hand before continuing on. “Even if He does not need to consume Us to subdue the Eschaton in the end,” He said, “there still remains the question of why did He safeguard Azhoa’s memory within the Source? There is only one possible answer for that: Restoration. Then where does that leave Us, Who are known by Our Father as ‘tertiary’?”
“Expendable,” Ethne grunted. “Material to be smelted back down and forged anew, along with the rest of Aetolia.”
“No,” Reason denied. “That would be the worst case, and unlikely to happen. Tertiary though Sapience may be, it is still of His, and if there’s one flaw Father has in greater abundance than others, it is vanity. I learned that firsthand the day He scornfully bestowed upon Me the title ‘Artificer’ for daring to change His creation.”
“Azhoa shall rise anew,” He continued then, “and Aetolia shall languish in the penumbra of neglect. A dim world, set adrift in obscurity to become overshadowed. Its sole purpose? To stand in stark contrast, a muted testament, one that magnifies Azhoa’s grandeur as the primary masterpiece.”
“Twice before have I allowed Father to cast Me aside. I shall not suffer it a third time,” Severn vowed then, commanding a sneer from the Earthen Father.
“Pathetic,” Incarnate Earth declared. “You would turn traitor over a bruised ego? That Thing that opposes Our Father will never show You any regard or care. What of Its Gods who will come to destroy this realm when It releases Them?”
Lord Ivoln continued on, fervour touching His voice: “When It releases the Devourer, it shall not matter what side We fought for. The Pillars will crumble as hope dies. I have seen the grand design of this Eschaton, the scars left behind by Shadow and Spirit’s battle. Its Creation is borne from a cycle of annihilation. I have little doubt It shall sit back and let the Devourer snaps His jaws around the Pillars and allow Its design to work anew.”
“And so shall all the peoples of all the worlds weep gelid tears, as Prime collides with Earth in fatal union,” He concluded.
“If that moon bastard doesn’t try to crush Us Itself first, just like It tried when Our Father was creating Dia’ruis,” wild Haern noted bitterly.
Even this, it seemed, the Artificer had an answer for:
“No,” He began, “Should It win, I suspect It will leave the rest of Us be. Its move then was one of callous opportunity, to put a swift end to the stalemate with Father.”
Quick to confirm His Twin’s words, Damariel cut in: “Sevren is correct, the Eschaton practises strict non-interference. Even during the Grand Theomachy, It only stirred when Father prepared to execute the Albedi Gods after We had subdued Them. It did not and will not intervene unless It absolutely must, for It knows the consequence Our Father learned in a more dire fashion.”
Nodding along to this, Severn outlined the rest of His views: “Every moment of imprisonment that has gone by has resulted in countless moments of questioned belief, for the imprisoned Albedi gods could not answer the prayers of Their faithful. Technology has replaced the yearning of religion in many places – and thus Their strength has greatly diminished over the millenia. And with the death of the Harlot, Their numbers are thinned.”
“And when the Eschaton breaks open the prisons at Its hour of victory, each of Us would assume Our full strength once more,” Reason posited, “We would triumph in whatever fashion We please.”
“Unacceptable!” Chakrasul then screamed. “Your triumph lacks any teeth Severn, Our power would still be bound to this continent when so many beyond yet desire My touch.”
“If it is as You say, then Father’s foe is naught but a coward, and He shall soon dispatch It,” Bamathis finally declared. This statement brought great amusement to Slyphe, Whose shifting lips split into a wide, selachian grin.
“We’ll see about that! Father is no hero Himself, after all!” the Maelstrom retorted. A flicker of anger raced across Strife’s Immortal features then, hinting at His thinning patience.
“Enough! I will hear no more of this blasphemy!” roared the Warlord. “Severn, betrayer, Your justifications are naught but thinly veiled theories woven from assumptions and half-truths! You, who once shared Our Father’s confidence, have cast it aside for baseless suppositions over a wounded pride! As Father once branded You ‘Artificer’ in the past, so too do I brand You now: ‘Forsaken’. From this day forth, there are none left to trust You and none left to welcome You.”
“This has gone on quite long enough,” Truth interrupted. “Unless You mean to start the battle anew, then let Us all retire from here.”
“Call Me what You will, Strife,” Reason swiftly retorted. “It means as little to Me as Your cry of ‘For Sapience’. If You truly valued Sapience instead of being drunk upon duty, You too would reject Father.”
Before His departure, Warlord Bamathis had one last declaration.
“Traitorous Twins,” He pronounced, “I shall have both Your heads ready to present to Father at the time of His victory.”
One by One, Varyan’s exhausted children departed from the Green Lake. Damariel cast one final, bitter glance towards Bamathis before He dematerialised into strands of glimmering light and Severn’s bulky silhouette evanesced into a smoky smear that diverged away from His Brother’s brilliance. The twin exits soon prompted the rest of the Eschaton’s supporters to retreat in a cloud of Divine motes.
Varian’s supporters exchanged final glances before They too disappeared into the ethereal, intent upon recuperation and planning Their next moves.
Thus ended the second act of the Worldeater Saga, its final lines writ in the dark ink of forbidden truth and unexpected betrayal.
Penned by my hand on Kinsday, the 25th of Chakros, in the year 512 MA.