The Worldeater Saga, Part XXXII: Killer Instinct

Throughout the weeks leading up to the Battle of Green Lake, the Nightmare instructed Her chosen to seek out an aperture to the Astral sphere of Blue. Knowing that it had appeared somewhere that posed a risk to the continent itself, Omei urged Her followers to reach it before any other mortal could tamper with the dangerous energies leaking from it and secure it with an oneiric gate. Though the goddess provided coy hints as to this wild portal’s location, She left it to Her court to discover the specifics and delighted in the struggle for a few weeks before Her Oracle and Blossomer – Sekeres and Aolin – stumbled upon its presence upon the cliffs near Esterport. Swift to do the bidding of their Empress, the two priestesses swiftly split the work between them and utilised their collective knowledge of Astral chaos to bend the energies in an appropriate manner. For weeks after, the gateway laid dormant, awaiting the proper time for Omei to press forth with Her machinations.

Upon the three-hundred-and-fifty-fifth day of the Creators’ Monomachy, just days after the brutal struggle to free the Child, the appointed hour arrived.

Calling upon Kalena Emerson, Her previous champion and the keeper of the Azure sphere, the Nightmare offered a bargain. Omei explained that the sphere of Blue had eluded Her in fullness, its metaphysical location listing towards a dangerous convergence with a portentous place upon the Prime, and that it could only be accessible through mortal memories associated with the colour. Immortal Instinct offered to invest the Pentarch with the power of Instinct in exchange for her aid in accessing the sphere of Blue, stressing that She was sure that Kalena possessed a potent enough memory to entice the sphere to let down its guard. The mortal Templar agreed, and thus a deal was struck.

Instructing Her current champion, Eaku Redwood, to guard the Primal side of the gate, the goddess used the oneiric gate to bore a tunnel through the fabric betwixt Prime and Astral and ushered Kalena through to the other side. What awaited the pair was a shifting tunnel of dark and light hues that seemed to twist and squirm before the unquestionable authority of their glorious ruler, its distant end represented by a point of glimmering light that seemed to draw the mortal toward whatever awaited on the other side.

Upon the other side, the Pentarch found a reminder of a grief thought conquered.

As Kalena relived private memories of the second War of Night, the Astral Empress set about laying the groundwork for the binding of the sphere. She pressed the Pentarch with pointed questions of despair and vengeance as She worked, claiming that the latter was Her favoured form of justice – especially in the face of the former. Amidst emotional tumult, the mortal woman admitted a desire for revenge upon the same Creator that the goddess Herself wished to strike out against. Pleased by this admission, Omei urged the Templar to continue with her honesty – and in so doing, Lady Emerson came to embrace the rage she had otherwise ignored in an echo of an ancient Ankyrean tradition.

Recognising that the mortal was on the cusp of adherence, the Nightmare instilled in Kalena a shred of Her power – enough to tear apart the illusory landscape born of her suppressed anger and grief. With just that shred, the once-Vanguard laid waste to the Astral sphere, encasing her and the goddess both, her screams resounding throughout the colourful heavens of Omei’s Empire. In the wake of her destructive rampage, Kalena discovered a way back to the Prime and charged forward to collapse before the very gate that had started her journey that afternoon. Discovering that the goddess had been honest in Her offer, Lady Emerson exulted in her newfound mastery as the first modern Adherent of Instinct.

Amidst twin oaths of vengeance, the Nightmare emerged above Esterport and set Her gambit into motion. With a mighty heave, She brought the newly bound Astral sphere near enough to the Prime to briefly conjoin the two, setting the fifth of seven lynchpins into place for a yet still enigmatic purpose. Cackling all the while, the feral goddess vanished to parts unknown after handing down more cryptic instructions to Her followers.

Even as tigrish Omei prepared the last two steps of Her mysterious plan, two sets of eyes analysed battle reports and military maps…

Penned by my hand on Tisday, the 11th of Niuran, in the year 512 MA.