halialkers: (Default)
 Chapter IV: 

Idle as a painted ship/upon a painted ocean-Rime of the Ancient Mariner
 

They stood by the sign with a kind of sick fascination. For a moment flashes of memory that were only possible with minds partially human came. In their bassinets they had been sleeping when a monstrous force had stormed into the hospital, a towering mountainous flaying force hewn in a quasi-human form. The God on the Gilded Throne was six feet shorter than the usual avatars she projected even in her armor but a fourteen foot tall god that had erupted into Gotham and callously murdered innocent and guilty alike and reduced the place to a horrific charnel house had a way of remaining a clear and present presence in the minds and hearts of them whom the beast had fallen upon and devoured. 

Then they looked to the right of the monument. And for a moment time itself stood still. 

Two infants in a statue held by hands and wrists without arms. The names Karlee Meir and Rachel Roth, the 'Lost Ones'. 

Us. 

Meir sighed and then flexed for the first time unconsciously something she would come to do very knowingly and replaced her Azarathi garments with a golden armor with a black cape, raising a hood over her brown face, her white pupilless seemingly blind yet far-seeing eyes gleaming. Rachel Roth likewise replaced the flowing dress she'd worn beneath her Azarathi robes with a much smaller and more form-fitting kind of plate-armor, and they looked into Gotham. 

Should we risk that they will know who we are? 


Rachel shrugged. 

We've seen what the God on the Gilded Throne can do. It calls you sister, perhaps you can cloud minds as readily as it can if they do. 

With that the two then took their first steps into Gotham, entering the decaying East End. It was a city at once modern and ancient, solid and liquid, air and stone. Gambrel roofs that seemed more in place in ancient New England where over them danced witch-fires vied with newer buildings that were corroded with rust on the screens. Doors sagged and the stench and slime of mold was all too present. A low-edged hum of despair that was almost tangible even to non-empaths and which was seemingly overpowering at first to Rachel Roth was there, and for a moment she fanced she saw a swollen-bodied nude woman with a fanged mouth gazing with sad and almost protective eyes before vanishing. 

Further they strode into Gotham, the empathic presence of Dagger beginning to manifest for the first time. The God on the GIlded Throne and her avatars, the monstrous entity known as the Azar was a knife that flayed the soul and carved and butchered without pity or shame. The Lightdancer was an elemental tempest, a living storm wrought in demi-human form and even in her purely human guise a storm-scale living testament to divinity wrought in a human guise. 

Dagger herself was a figure who transcended categories and unknown to her but not as much to her sister who gazed for a moment with wonder and then sadness and horror and sadness again would become quite monstrous for this. A being whose defiance of the writ in stone order of things made her presence hard to quantify, something in a tooth that could never be found yet never gotten out. A spectre always on the edge of consciousness yet not seen and an impending and nightmarish presence. A shining brilliant eye-searing light of gold that left blindness and confusion where once had been order. 

Unknown to Rachel Roth likewise her own presence was beginning to flower outside of Azarath. Something like a storm-cloud in her own right, but where the Lightdancer was a being of hope and awe and dread terrible aspect in her storm-wrought presence, the daughter of the demon was something ominous. Hellscape made flesh, something monstrous and the blazing hell-light writ into human form, not a figure of dismal darkness as human imagination in its wretched bigotry would have wished but light, brilliant and terrible as the sun or an atomic bomb. A willowy tall being with a dancer's grace and a nightmare and harbinger of death, and likewise to her sister of choice  a being even then deciding to grasp a power akin to hers. Hers the destiny to level worlds? No. Hers the destiny to save them. 

It was then that as they walked in the moonlight a figure strode up to them. He was a tall man in a purple suit with green hair and a rictus, a cringing whipped person whose back was still bleeding from the pain following him. A harlequin and a mad clown, and as he turned to them he doffed his hat facing not one monster of a make unknown to him but two. 

"Tell me, children, have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?" 

Rachel prepared to move but Karlee placed a finger on her shoulder and smiled. 

No sis, let me. 

She lowered her hood and a brown face with carbonized charring appeared, her flesh still reflecting her natural form and content in her brownness she turned to look at the monstrous lunatic. 

You don't know the Devil, little man. 

Casting off the glamor that had made her seem more human she swelled to a height without her armor of fourteen feet and within to twenty feet. That same wrenching presence as a monster of the outside context, the jarring of the carefully created systems made her jar even the eyes of the deranged and savage Joker, who realized with a start that for all that he knew he was a being of two dimensions, lines of ink and pencil, balloons and the like, and that his atrocities would help continue his existence and that of his world that he faced another being equally aware. A being grasping that awareness for the first time. 

Rachel looked with a start as a balloon suddenly manifested over the Joker reaching from his mouth with a jagged element on his laughter as tears fell from his eyes. Karlee Meir smiled ruthlessly and then grabbed the balloon straight away from the Joker's head. 

Odd font, this. What is this? Comic sans? Really? You, the Joker speak with COMIC SANS? 

That last pair of words was a sudden bellow that caught Rachel by surprise and as she watched she realized appropriately for a moment that here in their home, out of the shadow of a greater deity, she was watching the moment in time at which a fledgling entity grasped a greater truth. It was then that she herself grasped that truth and realized with awe that in every world and clime there were multiple iterations of the same people. She could be a being of three dimensions, or two dimensions. A being crafted out of words or clay. 

This then was part of how to extend life. She could defy the great contours of fate itself with this knowledge given time and space, could extend a cycle until it was postponed and never came. Not the destroyer and the monster she'd seen in Azarath, a savior and a redeemer. These thoughts passed in a whirl within time and the twenty foot tall being that was her sister was striding toward the Joker, a speech balloon appearing over her mouth, one colored with a riotous rainbow like aspect and written with a jagged font that represented a tear in reality. A dark blue almost purple italic text that was visible in the lighter part of the rainbow's coloration: 

Comic sans. I knew you were an evil bastard. 

Then raising the balloon in a mocking salute she began to blur and smash into the Joker with his own speech balloon, the blows raining on him with a speed and strength that he had no means to contest, leaving him wrecked in less than a minute. Harley leaped to protect her lover and master but a glancing blow with the balloon led to her falling unconscious and then the balloon seemed to vanish in thin air. 

Rachel Roth looked to her sister in awe, saying: 

So that's the great secret, then. 


She looked with surprise at her own speech balloon. Where Dagger's was a rainbow coloration and a dark blue italic font, hers was a squiggly one reflecting the infrasound reverberations in her speech pattern, some text bold and others normal in contrast to the ones of her sister. 

It is indeed. We are all of us products of a creation by a blind idiot god at the center of nuclear space. Our existence is a random set of events stacked together with beginning, middle, and end. Climax and resolution, plot twists, and all that crap. 


She shrugged. 

All of us at this level know that, I think. Most of us just use it to gain power and to become the central characters and greater scope forces maneuvering mortals and then mocking about what fools those mortals be.  Arrogant, that. We make them pawns and then laugh at them for games they don't get choices to be involved in. We make them puppets, and then because we overawe them pretend that they are inferior to beings that give them no option but to be manipulated. 

She shrugged again and then they resumed walking in Gotham, aware of its two-dimensional aspects now that they saw it and the more fascinated and repelled by it all the same: 

I don't really care past a certain point. I realized when I grabbed that damned balloon that I'm in the most annoying part of any story, really. The origin. The point where I am evolving to be awesome and yet not as awesome as I could be expected to be. 


She then sighed. 

Gotham. Bah. 


For a moment she looked down and rubbed the back of her head and sighed on a different note. 

I came to bury our mothers but the time's not right for that. More things to do, more horrors to uncover. Wonders to witness at the dawn of a new age. 


A portal opened in an alley and a drunk who watched it dropped his booze and decided from that point he'd rather be sober. The portal opened outward in Metropolis, ironically enough in Suicide Slum. 

Dagger sighed. 

Really? We couldn't come out in the nice shiny financial district? Really? 


She shook her head. 

All right. Well, we're here. Now what shal-

It was then that she saw with a terrible smile the next phase of things and her growing power and knowledge and her sister's likewise led the two to suddenly alter all that they were doing. A monstrous figure lurched out of a building it had torn down, roaring in discontent and anger. 

Kalibak, son of a pitiless and dreadful god from beyond the stars. 

And toward Kalibak was hurling a brilliant figure, a blur of red and blue, a figure that held Rachel in awe and it was then that the look of confusion on the part of Karlee was replaced with first a wide-eyed stare of comprehension and then a smile that began to cross her face with a shark's grin of razor teeth. 
 
halialkers: (Default)
Chapter III: 

Why this is Hell, nor am I out of it-Faust.
 

The Gate of Death, Pandaemonium: 

Three months' time had lapsed since my hands and body had turned grey. I looked at myself in a mirror and saw a monster, skin the hue of ashes, eyes that shone with violet instead of white, hair turned indigo. Runes burned in my flesh. We met four lords, the Tetrarchs of this strange and unholy sphere. Angra Mainyu, Ahriman. Lord of the Abyss, King of Pandaemonium, God-Emperor and Anti-God who sat on the great Obsidian Throne and ruled with an iron fist and a will of terror. A being of towering proportions in jet-hued armor with a roiling red cape and four glowing eyes, the rumbling infrasound undertone within his voice like a hammer to the face. Jvarasura, known to the Sumerians as Nergal, God of Plague. Though in his case less God and more an Asura. A rail-thin skeleton with a light hue of sickly green flesh and maggots weaving in and out of his body. Known as the Hand of Death to his followers we detested him most. 

Then there was the sadistic Prince of Pleasure, Ravana. A Rakshasha who'd managed to best the previous such deity in a clash for the title and now that deity was reduced to being his chamberlain. Ten heads and ten arms had he and he was a figure of towering destruction and death, and all who beheld the lascivious gaze of twenty eyes shuddered and felt befouled save the other Tetrarchs. He was a master of weaponry and bellowed in triumph and delight at his mastery, where to Angra Mainyu he was simply a fop who'd usurped his true master and no love was lost between them. 

And of them too there was Indra, an Asura who was like a thundercloud rewritten in the form of a man. Of them all he scared us more even than the King of Pandaemonium did, for his were hands that cast lighting and light in the darkness and Unlight of that realm. His hands that scarred flesh and proved able to break invulnerable flesh to create oozing wounds that were then cauterized in scorchingly painful fashion, and at each of their hands had we suffered. Each time one of us sought to shield the other we were punished for success or failure as our captors wished, but each time we did so we learned more of the nature of the monsters beyond the Veil. And of the means to leave this place. 

Three months' time passed and our bodies were scarred as thoroughly in Azarath, and my sister Rachel had an adornment placed on her face by Angra Mainyu when he sought to give her another 'blessing' as his father. A gemstone set in a chakra with a dark black hue when he'd placed it on her but in defiance she'd glared and summoned against it the power of her soul-self and it became red. He snarled then and sought to cast her down but I shielded her in turn and darkness mercifully swallowed me. 

She'd come to understand, however, that Pandaemonium had several gates, and the one that could be fled from to another corner was one marked, of all things, in Latin. And on it did these words appear: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here. 

Some part of me fueled by the growing power of my kindred among the Urhalzantrani recognized this and realized the nature of the place, and its ties within the greater complexes of Hell, a realm ruled by what in some takes was its Eighth Pit, the Malebolge. A Dark Dimension of sordid terror and nightmares where Hell was made manifest in all its foulness. And yet next to the everlasting light and the blades and the laughter of the God on the Gilded Throne one was light and one was dark and that was all I could see then as a gap. 

So we came then to that gate, together, and the Tetrarchs seemed unaware of it though in truth we knew that we would be in a race between their power and hers as a native child in half her heritage of that dimension. She levitated in a lotus position and began a set of chants from a book we'd found in the Azar's library, the fiendish works of the Mad Mullah, the Heretic Hazred whose works revealed the Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu cycles and the rise of the Great Empire of Xoth vingtillions of years before all that was now was present. 

As she finished her incantation, part of me understood the words spoken and I learned later a great lesson in power and simplicity alike: 

By Ten Thousand Eyes and Ears I the gates of Yog-Sothoth declare open, the gates between the realm of joy and of sorrow, flesh and blood, reality and rhyme. Open unto these spheres the power of Yog-Sothoth who made all things and is beyond them, the Old Ones were, the Old Ones Are, the Old Ones shall be. Not within the spaces known to mankind but between them walk they! 


An eerie glow began to form and there was an element as of a river of glowing bubbles that burbled and spoke with ten thousand voices, and she extended to me her hand and I took it as we managed to step through the gate. It was then that Angra Mainyu rose behind us as a towering being in red wearing only a loin cloth, the semi-Elizabethan ruffle, and carrying the vast white Sceptre as he sought to reach through the gate to take us. 

She formed a strange sign akin to that of a Magen David and spoke words of banishment and the Elder Sign closed the gate of Yog-Sothoth, the monster in Pandaemonium howling in fear and in pain. 

Then we looked in shock. We were standing once more at the gates of the Doors of Night, clad not in the armor in which we'd been sent out but in torn blood-stained rags, scars and still-bleeding wounds visible, and we were at the foot of the massive throne on which the God that sat there leaned forward, lips peeling with that hideous squelching sound and eyes igniting like suns. 

Well done, Good and Faithful servants. You have ascended from children to women, now. 

My sister bellowed: 

I am no-one's servant and neither is she! 

And with that I in turn looked at her and the disconcerting smile on her face and as she leered downward, she unleashed the same shadowy bird from Pandaemonium, a great corvid form that hurled itself forward at the God on the Gilded Throne and began to peck and claw at her face. The God screamed and my sister and I turned and spoke a second incantation: 

Yog-Sothoth knows the gate, Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.

The Gate opened and we were carried through with a scream as the God on the Gilded Throne descended and tried to lunge at us. As we fell through the skies, we landed with an echoing boom in a park in a city that at the time I did not know.

Dusting ourselves off, I asked her: 

So where we are we now?


Then I looked around and blinked, relieved more than words could say that shifting the color of my eyes was but a shift in the color, not the nature or kind of my vision.

I looked at her and her face went from the exhilarated rush of escaping two monsters to the kind of quiet stone face I would come to know all too well.

We're home. The Earth we were born in.


How do you know that? 

She pointed to a sign that said: Memorial to the Massacre of Gotham.

Oh.

halialkers: (Default)
 Chapter II: 

Tis better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.-John Milton, Paradise Lost.
 
 
 
The being that stood before her roared in delight at the thought of what he would unleash, the four-eyed form transforming into something monstrous. Ape-like arms corded with muscle, four eyes set into the form of a monstrous lion-like being with those same ram's horns. Long bat-like wings extended from either side of the transformed beast that stood not in armor but in legs like those of a great beast. The monster bared his teeth in a fanged smile, roaring once more before reassuming his armored form. 

This is the measure of my power, daughter of my blood but not my sentiment. 


Four eyes glared into her two, as she calmly folded her armored arms across her breastplate. 

These theatrics are to convince me of what, precisely? Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh you may be but if you intend to break me, you can do nothing to me that Azarath has not already done. 


He looked upward, before forming a great scepter out of what seemed to be flowing bone, a strange kind of collar arising behind him with a quasi-Elizabethan aspect extending beyond his horns, beneath it a vast white cape. 

He laughed. 

So naive. 

The scepter whirled with terrifying speed to a point that its sound created an infrasound assault on both our ears that led us to fall to our knees. Then a sudden blast of flame erupted from it and smashed into me, hurling me against a wall. The impact was painful and my armor, the one my sister had given me beneath my robes, burned, which did hurt but less than I expected. And it was then that Rachel went ballistic. 

Her voice was that of a whisper of the wind across the graveyard. It echoed with an infrasound resonance that matched that of the being facing us, but where his was a rumbling akin to boulders grinding together, hers was a funeral dirge.

What stings worse, father? That in mutilating yourself to gain power you still lose to a demented half-human who has altered herself into something that should not be, or that I am what I am precisely by being what it is that I am and gain greater power than you have by betraying yourself? To become a monster you took Chaos and tortured it into being Order. I will not have my destiny decreed by a God on a Gilded Throne or a Daemon who sits on a throne of obsidian and plots and schemes to work will through the deeds of others.

You have made a Hell that at least is straightforwardly Hell and not in the guise of a Heaven. Here, and now, I swear henceforth and forevermore to defy you now and forever until the Last Battle, when I shall cast down your twitching corpse before the Universal Emperor as a mark that the sins of the fathers do not pass into their children, and to show him that the daughter of his enemies can do more harm to my own father than his spawn.

Energy began to form out of her like a great bird, glowing with an eerie golden Unlight that made him stand in awe, then as his teeth ground together and his eyes began to glow, he roared:

My daughter in flesh you are indeed, and in spirit likewise! The soul that you prepare to turn against me I shall baptize in my essence, that you shall learn the folly of seeking to cast down your own kindred.

Hellfire lanced out of four eyes as he roared in delight and she stood calmly, eyes beginning to glow, two eyes becoming four. I finally managed to put out the flames on my own robes and through an incantation of the Azar's began to form armor of my own as a mystic construct hardening into plate and a cape. Armor of gold, designed like that of the knights in books and scrolls, and a cape of obsidian.

And with that the blasts that struck her vast glowing bird caused her to scream. And with my own armor formed I realized something of the nature of what we were facing when he withstood my eyebeams with an outstretched hand, the beams absorbed into his hand as he turned toward me and four eyes launched four beams that I
 dodged by levitating upward, preparing to dive down as shadows against the lord of Pandaemonium. 

He then casually reached out with his hand and a grip of iron enfolded me, hurling me down to the ground with a thunderous booming sound, and she, now with her own four eyes unleashed a sudden wave of force that threw her father upon his back. Snarling he sought to rise against her and she focused the same wave with sufficient force to smash him into the ground repeatedly. 

It was then that a sudden set of lightning bolts crashed between us, one of them striking me with sufficient force that I
 fell unconscious. She told me the rest, how she'd seen a monstrous being like a thundercloud in the form of a man. Dark, an ebony hue covering him, his body crackled with lightning that left an ozone odor in the air and a crackling metallic taste in her mouth. He had landed with a tremendous eruption of light and a sonic blast that left her on her knees groaning in pain. 

Eighteen arms had he, and nine heads, each of them with glowing eyes and throats that gleamed with the terrible light of the caged lightning. The lightning flew down and the thunder followed, and her bird formed again, interwoven with darkness this time. And the monster laughed and then hurled multiple bolts of lightning into it. And for the first time in her life the great bird shattered and she screamed in pain. 

And so we awoke. I felt.....different. And I looked at my hands. I blinked. There was a charred carbonized set of runes on them. 

And they were grey. 

halialkers: (Default)
Chapter One: 
 
For the soul of the devil bought hastens not from its charnel clay but fattens and instructs the very worm that gnaws, until out of such corruption horrid life springs.-Abdul Hazred, Al-Azif
 
cut for potential triggers )
We screamed and a sense of weightlessness overcame us. We awoke in the iron citadel of Pandaemonium, seeing before us the awed and angered face of a monster clad in dark armor with four glowing yellow eyes and a snarling bestial face, complete with gigantic curved horns like those of a ram. He looked at Rachel and said: 

So you were sent home by her, then? Child of my heritage you may be but you are no spawn of my thought.

He then grinned at both of us in a fashion horribly reminiscent of her.

But now you shall learn the kind of things of which I am capable, especially when my foes deliver into my hands two such lovely pawns.

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 Chapter III: 

Signs and wonders began in those days when men and women fell to their knees shrieking in agony at the overwhelming power of new sensations. cut for violence and gore )
halialkers: (Default)
Chapter I: 

Seven days passed since the announcement by the strange figure across the world. From that point, strangeness began to break out across the world, signs and wonders indeed. A kind of Midas Effect was noted where random objects began to turn gold, sometimes with a crystalline-like construct of turquoise hue in the form of a two-headed dragon, one head gnawing on the other but never seemingly the same, and the shifts on each object likewise strange.

The wind seemed to whisper and to howl with a thousand thousand manifold voices. At times the skies would flash with dread lightning in cloudless skies and then vile clouds would form and blood rain from the skies. Random spasms of darkness fell, the Sun darkened across the planet, where the Moon was visible its light taking on a blood-sheened hue. The small hours would be ridden with frightful nightmares of a splendid and wondrous realm of ivory and gold. Its buildings were gem-adorned, its inhabitants ever-young and shrouded in cowls with a vaguely-birdlike aspect that hid only eyes that seemed to gaze in pain. Others wore only the clothes in which they were born, wrapped in serrated barbed wire, screaming silently into an uncaring sky.

Cyclopean statues and buildings, sharing that avian motif, and countless worlds and stars dancing in an immensity too grand for humanity to know. And at the center of it all a being clad in crimson hue on a great throne. The dreams could not decide if the throne was golden and the being clad in what seemed like blood woven into thread, or an immense skull carved into the form of a throne, the being clad in armor and wielding a terrible staff that oozed with latent malice. Here instead of a robe the being wore dark green armor with a light blue cape, a quasi-helm shielding the chinless round face that broke out in too-wide fanged grins, those terrible crystalline blue eyes fully visible.

The armor's gauntlets were adorned in rings, jewels covering or crusting some rings, others simple bands of what seemed gold. And in a still more nightmarish vision the ivory and gold were replaced by an immense throne of skulls over a sea of vile blood, the armored monster having grown more greatly in size, the staff replaced by a colossal sword and gazing out into the infinity of space, master of all it surveyed, caring not from whence blood flowed, merely that it flowed was rationale enough. The immortals wailed in despair, transformed into bestial entities of reddish hue and great bat-like wings with fanged jaws, wielding tremendous axes in clashes against each other.

Still further in time the entity would grow still greater, no longer recognizable as a being of flesh and blood. Angles flowed and move where angles ought not to move, what was convex became concave, what was obtuse became acute. Sensations that warred against the many sensations of the sapient mind indicated movement and the whole was a colossal force that assailed the mind. In this latter case there was another vision of a strange and terrible figure clad in silver armor, a knight going to war against the chaotic dragon of the Outer Light.

Dark smoke rose crackling with lightning and lanced out and the monster screamed....and across cities and worlds in the night and in the day the screams of nightmares and visions rang out. The monstrous manifestations in the night were accompanied by still further wonders in the day. Wounds of ancient nature began to heal, scoured desert began to bloom. The boom and the crash of the bomb and the gun were stilled and there was a certain gallows humor in the rage of the aggrieved fanatics who denied their outlets sought in turn to seek martyrdom otherwise and succeeded only in making progressively stronger and deeper dents, howling in frustration.

The blind began to see, the deaf began to hear. Faith-healers were at a loss to explain how such wonders occurred, how the limbless regained limbs of greater power than the ones lost. How the ashes of the cremated re-formed into bodies that were ever-youthful, shrouded in the same hoods and garments as the people in visions. These Returned Ones began to preach a great and a splendid Gospel of the ever-watching Undying Flame whose light burned eternally.

Those who proclaimed them demonic adversaries of the Beyond found themselves helpless, if merciful made to be the agents of their own destruction, if merciless slain by demonstrations of a fiendish power to which science had no answer.

One case in Turkey caused a brief sensation, when a tall anonymous figure with long hair and a resemblance somewhat to a clean-shaven version of the Jesus in iconography in Christian Churches was called the Anathema and beset by terrible power from two of the Returned Ones. The figure in turn unleashed a bluish only vaguely corporeal light that banished the entities, left them smoking and vanished and then vanished himself, leaving only a sign of a two-headed eagle to mark his appearance.

The Returned Ones' signs and wonders led to the first stages of conversion to the new religion of the Undying Flame. From tens in the third day of the week, there were hundreds of millions by the seventh. And it was that night that the skies fell dark and strange stars appeared and flashed across the skies, comets trailing and colliding into the Earth with fire and smoke. When the skies returned to their norm, smoke billowed into the skies, impacts leaving vast craters from which emerged most of ten thousand who gazed at the world with a strange mixture of hunger and the uttermost despair.

Their muscles rasped with movements and the Immortals of Azarath gazed upon a world that gazed at them with awe and fear, the uttermost manifestation of the great dreams turned into the darkest nightmares, each neatly subverted. Yet they too gazed at the skies as a flash of sickly green light revealed the form of the Monk, his dark blue cowl whipping in an unnatural wind, hands extended and his bearded face smiling with a sinister glee.

I reveal my inmost self unto the Undying Flame that illuminates all that is before it.

Now and forever, world without end! 


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Prologue: 

UC Berkeley Labs, SERENDIP: 

It all began with the first confirmed contact with extraterrestrial life here, in a lab. A bored technician, one Kate Masterson was picking her nose while looking at the screen. She'd signed up for this thinking it would be cool and she could geek out. Instead it was sitting at a screen playing Solitaire or watching or reading porn most days. Most days, yes. Not this one.

The radio crackled and a signal spoke with identifiable speech.

Vekeltrir I-Nishi-Azarath. Zezhelanzunui makatrivhrk. Azarath-nizhan karlthruhn. I-nishi-Azarath Zezhelanzunui! Atralzhen dezhadiir!

She dropped the phone she was playing Candy Crush on with a startled jerk.

Alien speech. An actual alien had just chatted on her goddamned radio.

"Holy shit. Holy shit." 

She began to hyperventilate.

The radio kept speaking: 

I-Nishi Azarath! Zezhelanzunui! Zezhelanzunui!


The voice was strange. It didn't sound like a hacking, this was genuine speech. Carried on strange wavelengths by unidentifiable to her means.

"Dr. Stevenson? I......I think you need to come hear this." 

The doctor came in expecting to point out that it was some misidentified radio background from another planet.

He heard the continuing speech: 

Veteladanzhiir Zezhelanzunui! Azarath tarahlvat metelzadrir ukhrel shazhirr.

"Son of a bitch." 

He looked at her.

"If this is authenticated......we just proved aliens exist." 

It was then that televisions around the world began to crackle with a sudden and jarring distortion. A peculiar kind of crackling appeared globally, a crackling that would much later be recognized as including infrasound elements. The hacking began to spread across devices, phones all suddenly, regardless of model producing a similar static effect. Radios began to crackle more loudly, and then on screens a face appeared.

Clad in a brilliant silver robe that seemed to shimmer and weave and never hold the same patterns when looked at consistently, the face was a very human-like one. The chief difference was that at certain angles of light the grey eyes seemed to glow with an eldritch golden light.

A mraculous speech was spoken that was no different than the signal and yet understood across worlds: 

You may know me as the Monk. I come to bring you a great and wonderful truth, an end to war and carnage and fighting.

We come from a realm of serenity and the uttermost peace, where all is golden and glorious. We bring to you the wisdom of the Undying Flame, the Outer Light that holds together the stars themselves.

We come in peace among you to work our signs and wonders, that you may see that we are no mere prophets preaching invisible manifestations of Beyond but worshipers of a very real and tangible God, promising you every sacred dream of Mankind fulfilled, as all is written.

Worry not, O children of the Earth. Gods shall walk among you and we shall show you what it is to exist in the realms of time and space a part of them and yet removed from them, we shall grant you reality beyond your wildest imaginings.

The man's hair was a dark black, his goatee melding with eyebrows that wouldn't have looked out of pace on Thuifr Hawat. Big and bushy, the man's appearance in some ways seeming to be the most affable to whoever heard him, his words speaking with honey and sweetness to those who gave them credence.

In the word of our God who hangs the stars to burn, whose hands are the hands that heal, whose are the hands that still the wine-dark sea, we bid you greetings. Seven days from now we shall manifest among you. A new aeon dawns, O children of Mankind, an age of signs and wonders, when ocean freighted with the dreams and weight of time gives up her secrets, when the children of men frolic and gambol as of the birds of the air.

We come upon you to bring you wonders. You shall find them beyond your wildest imaginings.


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 Chapter XVIII, 

XIX Tezhelnakazu: 

Suvacel's body outwardly rested in slumber, save for surges in the night that rocked the camp like minor earthquakes. Even so, outwardly, there seemed peace. The body rested in the land of Waking. In the land of Dreaming, however, the monster that had stalked her dreams the last two nights and had haunted her day with taunts and barks of fell laughter, a beast in armor that had at the ready a terrible swift sword of lighting and power and which was a primordial fear. She was not religious, none who had the power with hands to do what others did with the witch-fires of the mind would be religious. 

But the terrifying Force in these dreams was less a person and more a living storm made manifest, a verifiable tangible God confronting Its Creation, a predator that stalked its prey at the jungle's edge. In the strange chants and incanations, the blasphemous I-Nishi-Azarath! and the name Zezhelanzanai! there was monstrosity, a lurking horror that turned the pleasurable light of understanding into a balefire that blinded and scoured and scarred the eyes. It was a light that gleamed and scarred, a voice that echoed with the remarkable malice and understanding. She was not religious, but the voice seemed to echo as more than a mere voice, as the very power and unholy force of something that was more than flesh and blood, or if it had ever been had long-since ceased to be. 

Then that night the creature finally took its full manifestation. A brilliant and terrifying light seared her eyes and that mocking voice echoed, not with barely coherent thought-speech, but with a purpose: 

I am come to light a fire in the earth and even now it is kindled! 
I have found the clay and formed of it flesh, and the flesh has been given the breath of life! 
The force and the strength that is my will pours in light into darkness, it separates the good from the evil! 
To me has been given to stand with a scythe and to harvest the weak from the strong!
Of skulls of the harvested shall a throne be built, of blood that flows unhindered shall redemption come! 


A figure formed from the light. It was built like the Baranir of Earth, those strange creatures with long lower limbs, shorter upper ones, the only creatures of such kindred without heavy ridges on the face. Well, to a degree. The face was unnaturally round, almost dish-shaped with massive eyes with crystalline sclera that formed an eerie pattern like the cells upon stars. The monster towered over her, and even at her height that dwarfed the true Baranir, the beast grinning with an unnaturally wide smile that flowed with an eerie bonelessness. 

A mocking baying howl that split stars followed: 

As I stand I burn what I will heedless of what is consumed in ashes. 
In the future I shall howl for blood and care not from whence it flows
In the far future I shall stand an idol of dreams fulfilled in the most cruel of fashions. 


She was expected to whine and clutch her ears but her eyes glowed. 

"I've seen you in flashes of memories from my sisters and gene-sire." 

The monster laughed.. 

Of all my creation, it would be the weakest and the stupidest to seek to defy me. 
I who hang stars alight and set them to glow with time unhindered. 
I who formed you and those like you, the power and the glory that is mine to wield, mine to claim. 
I set stars to glow, I form the wine-dark sea. 
Mine the hands that heal, mind the hands that kill, mine the hands that sow, mine the hands that induce famine. 
Mine the song that makes the wind and the feline howl. 


The tall monstrosity in armor strode to her, lifting her effortlessly with a single hand by the throat, baying with the voice of a mad god that howled on a throne of skulls and then became eerie forms that shifted in no consistent pattern. The foundation-stone of Chaos: 

Not perhaps in full. Chaos is itself, there is no predictability. I am the firstborn and yet there was another who preceded me. 


The creature laughed and then hurled her with a minor flick of its wrist. She stopped in midair, hovering. 

"I hear idle boasting and the winds of madness." 

The creature gazed at her. 

So speaks the will of one who is arrogant, a simple-minded tank-brain. 


Suvacel laughed. 

"You call me simple?" 

The beast stopped and gazed at her, indecision on its face. 

"To you is given omnipotence, omniscience, ominpresence. The power to break and forge entire universes anew. This you use to appear in the land of dreaming because you are too brutal and straightforward with it to challenge the Lightdancer." 

Suvacel laughed with a terrible sound. 

"You call me a simple-minded tank-brain when you have the power of a God and wield it for petty things that are beneath many and many an ordinary mortal which you decisively are not. I do not wield psychic witchery because I need it not. My hands are the great tools I need. If I can achieve with the flesh great things, what need have I to invite Outer Light or Darkness alike? I am myself and I need be none other." 

The monster hissed. A finger beckoned and the eyes shifted, visions of infinite space that held her spellbound, a voice that rumbled with anger growling into her ear, causing her nerves to shriek in agony. 

You have no authority to speak against me. I formed you out of nothing. If it were to amuse me I could kill and resurrect you in a spiral until that flesh you boast of smashes entire planets in throes of madness. 


Then she awoke to find the monster holding her by the throat, physically, a bejewled gauntlet digging into her, the rumbling power of madness oozing from its voice that wormed through her thoughts. 

You alone of my creation have achieved the theft of something of the Lightdancer's. 
I shall let you fight her, tank-brain. 


The beast laughed, an echoing sound of cruelty and madness that flayed and infected the souls and minds and bodies of those who heard it. 

Oh, yes. You shall fight her. And when you fail this next time, the Creator shall take its Creation and give you the experience of what you were meant to be. 

Do not mistake my allowance of amusement as a potential to threaten me. 


Placed gently onto her feet, she then heard a psychic assault of such power that she yielded to it unthinkingly, one word that achieved its goal with not just her but all the camp. 

KNEEL. 

An army knelt, and before them stood in glowing terror of eldritch nature a figure in green armor who extended her right hand, palm upward, eyes gazing with not malice but a strange kind of detachment. 

They heard a voice that taunted them: 

Now you know what true power is. 

____________________________________________

The Lightdancer smiled in meditation, a smile that sent a deep chill through the eyes of those who saw her. 

Her own voice echoed with the unfathomable power that united existence itself. 

So at last is the true puppetmaster revealed. How simple it is to manipulate those who see power only in the image of the mailed fist. 

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 The Restorationist Camp: 

Looking at Hezhatin, the Lightdancer's eyes suddenly narrowed. 

You said your father told stories of me in Azarath. Answer me a second question, is this Arsharzhin Hezhatin, or is it Shanar? 

Vizornii blinked. 

"My father is Arsharzin."

The Lightdancer blinked in turn. 

That does explain things. 


She favored Vizornii with a cryptic smile before saying: 

I have such things to show you.....

With that the universe seemed to warp and wend and twist, a strange sense of weightlessness jarring her instantaneously to a strange place. It was an eerie extension of the universe that seemed: 

"This is a fortress."

The Lightdancer retained the cryptic half-smile and then said: 

My Fortress of Eternity. From here the Iron Fist of the Universal Empire assails forth to confront the darkness that clusters and jibbers and aims for the throats of mortals of any level of sapience.


Looking around, Vizornii Hezhatin blinked, unable to tell which was up or down, or which angles were convex or concave. 

I brought you here to ask you a question that I must know the answer to, in a realm where the Truth shall set you free. 


The Lightdancer, casting off the armor assumed a brilliant, almost checkerboard-pattern dress with merely a slight gleam of her eyes. 

You have seen beings like me before. I could see in your memories familiarity with my sister, Arazakanu. The one you fought on the Jehexaderavcal Moon. There is another like us, who strides forth, who moves from time to time amongst mortals. You know of Azarath since you know of her. 

Her eyes narrowed. 

You and the red-skinned creature that look like you look physically identical to one of my kindred, we call her Zee. I take it that she is a parallel of yours, and I know what secret she hides. You........you are somewhat different but you all reflect a design. That of the monster that in origin was my kindred, whose power extends into the very fabric of existence itself as a festering virus coursing through both existence and its immensity with a terrible and debilitating fire. You have convinced me that you are not her work, in full. But having experience with Azarath, I have brought you here to see that her kindred are not all like her. We, all of us, are above Gods and Mortals alike-Hezhatin's breath caught with the casual utterance of what seemed profound blasphemy but had an undeniable kernel of truth to it that made the sensation choking her no less powerful-but we are not all giggling lunatics boasting about ourselves turning that power to work ill. 

And-Hezhatin looked as she saw a very tall and armored Barane moving, sharing with most of his kind the odd faces of that world, and she realized, too, the strange protuberance on the chin that made the Baranir unique-I have come for my closest ally and for a few weapons. The curse of bearing and using the black smoke is that as I am invulnerable to whatever forces others assail against me, so are my own creations in the hands of those other who seek to wield them, for good and ill alike. 

With that, the Lightdancer went to her compatriot and the two spoke in the coughing and sometimes throaty sounds of the Baranir, as the Lightdancer gathered a few strange devices, some of which were clipped around her belt, others seeming to vanish into thin air. 

Returning, the Lightdancer smiled with a more than cryptic and somewhat-sinister smile given the width and breadth of that smile across her face. Holding the hand of her compatriot in what seemed a Baranir gesture of affection, space warped and wended and there was that oh so strange and terrible sense of disorientation and she returned to the camp. Expecting to be arrested for going AWOL, she was shocked to see her timepiece registered a real-time passage of less than two seconds. Shrugging, she then saw her father going over to herself and the Lightdancer, and was shocked when instead of returning to the Beast at the sight of her with one of the Beyond Ones, her father embraced the Lightdancer in a hug that for most would have literally taken their breath away but for her was simply friendly, and then greeted the metallic-organic Baranir with a friendly nod. 

"You've come to help with Suvacel, then?" 

I have. The Lightdancer smiled. 

"Good." And with that, Arsharzin nodded to his daughter, who nodded back. The Lightdancer then calmly levitated, legs crossed, and began to check her weapons for both maintenance and performing any needed, as well as zeroing them in. It was a fortunate aspect of her own designs that they did not need to be maintained in the same sense that the manufacturing of mortal minds did.....
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 I learned from my first adventures my own fate, and my own destiny. I was given the strange gift that more than others of higher spheres, I was master of my fate, and captain of my soul, able to steer Fate into directions that I wished. I was a voice that could call from the darkness with mockery and horror, and I was a being that could embody the splendor of something more than human, a voice from outer spheres that flew with agility greater than the birds of the air. 

This I pondered in the ruins of the Gotham where I was born, where the city was slowly recovering from the Azar's massacre. I sat on the roof, blending in with the shadows, only two white eyes gleaming in the darkness and a hint of fanged teeth where I willed the light to catch them. Here I could not go home again, for what home there was had been taken in bloodshed and death, and to reclaim it from the grave offered too much risk, at least as I was then. So I remained, sitting in the shadows, wondering what could have been and how having the freedom to choose meant I would secure better options than what had gone before. 

Then, looking to the sky and the light of the moon, I stood up and hovered, going to the derelict and rotting hospital where I'd been born. 

Out of the nothingness of sleep, the slow dreams of eternity,
there was a thunder on the deep, I came because you called to me. 

I broke the night's primeval bars, I dared the old abysmal curse,
I flashed through ranks of frightened stars, suddenly on the universe! 

Eternal silences were broken, Hell become Heaven as I passed. 
What shall I give you as a token, a sign that we have met at last? 


For there lay my mother's body, unburied and unmourned, victim to the unhallowed evils of circumstance. 

I would break and forge the stars anew, shatter the Heavens with a song. 
Immortal in my love for you, for I love you very strong. 


Gathering to me the remnants of the woman who bore me and brought me into this world, I levitated them behind me, and then forming a shovel, I dug a grave and placed her in it. Using my abilities further to form a headstone in the old Gotham cemetery, I wrote on it: 

Susan Meir, 1938-51

Love is the greatest gift that can be given. 

And for a time, a times, and half  a time I stayed and mourned, grief coming freely, as omniscience showed me her life. And I vowed then that even if power be asserted from hellish realms beyond the Veil to act upon me and through me, I would honor as a goal, even if fumbling in the attempt, one who chose to defy a God and made the God bleed, and in so doing created an image to live up to in a vast and pitiless omniverse where all that is is subject to cruelty beyond the wildest dreams of mortals. 

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 Chapter XX: 

That day, I learned from the Hammer of Doom the past that she went through. I did not hear, then, the voice of the warrior who annihilated the Outer Darkness wherever it lurked and hissed and reared forth in horror amidst primordial slime. I heard the voice of Deborah bat Omri, and learned from her the strange secret behind the name. I learned that the Lightdancer had been once a girl who knew only that she could do strange things, who went to Azarath and learned there of her invulnerability to all that was, even within the flesh of a mad God. 

Zee then smiled and told me her own past, and that the creature I had come in contact with was named Cthylla. And I learned then of ancient and horrible secrets, of a group of monsters from the far-flung realm of Xoth countless universes over that began to build a great and a dreadful empire. Of a war amongst these mad Gods of ancient days, and of a tremendous warlord who emerged full-blown from them promising a shortening of the way forward, and another who emerged to oppose him. Yet this grand and terrible prince of light, the light-bringer who promised that great new secrets were en route for his followers, father of Ythogtha, Gahatanothoa, Xoth-Ommog, and the youngest of the family, Cthylla, came to the conclusion that the best secrets were to be found by ascending into the great Kadath, in the Cold Waste, to confront the realm of the Primordial Gods, the gateway to Halls outside Time and Space. 

The monster did go there, yes. He had sought all that he would find. But beyond that gateway lurked great and dreadful monsters, the greatest of which was Azathoth's soul and messenger, the Crawling Chaos Nyarlathotep. Often a trickster, in wrath the Artist-Smith was dreaful and terrible indeed, and with a surge of awful power the entire Empire of Xoth was banished into dreaming-death in a vast necropolis, the shattered remnants lasting for a time in a war with strange fungoid beings and still stranger ones that looked like cones with odd upper elements, the former the maker of the fiendish Shoggoths that burbled in endless time and space. 

Zee told me that she had found in me a worthy opponent indeed, who relished like her the very nature of combat, and was not afraid to extend power to its greatest levels, if such was required. 

Then I asked them: 

And our elder sister? Is there nothing we can do for her? I heard her crying, reduced to this sobbing.........wreck of a colossus there by the deed of the other-you. 

Zee and the Lightdancer looked at each other. And Deborah said: 

No, there is nothing. Here Fate is at its cruelest. Were it within my power to cleanse the Azar, to make the Undying Flame of horror one that would be a perpetual light for healing and restoration, this I would do in a heartbeat. The hardest thing to do is to accept that Fate is what it is. Yet alone of us you have seen into Fate, and it is beyond you, and you it. You are unconstrained and able to defy ordinary things by perceiving them. Fate is what it is, and it is to each of us to bear. And to you, Fate gifts the freedom to be and to do as you please. 

Now, as I speak to you, it seems a great privilege. Yet as time winds on down in the eternal river that flows through space and time, it shall be what you make of it. 

She smiled. 

And you have done all that I expected you would do, and used that armor well. For that, I give to you another gift. 

And she handed me an orb that glowed as I placed it in my hand. 

A power battery, dear sister, that will grant to your armor great endurance. You and I have an appointment in a few weeks' time with our elder sister, when we go forth to see Igna of Domdaniel at home to see what she was before she became the monster. 

As I bowed formally to her, she said: L'Chaim! 

I smiled, and darkness enshrouded me and the sensation of weightlessness between worlds greeted me as an old and a dear friend. I knew, then, at last who I was. 
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 Chapter XIX: 

Zezhelanzunui collided with the shield with a rippling sound that brought with it a pained shriek from her and a wave of rippling destruction that reverberated through Azarath itself. The monster that stood forth laughed, a squelching slopping sound as its claws dug into the metal environment around it, carving deep grooves. Cthylla then leaned forward, and in a great cloud of greenish smoke the monster from primordial times and elder days beyond the Veil vanished and Xaderavcal once more rose in her stead. Seeing the same figure I'd come into conflict with, my eyes widened. The resemblance to Zee was eerie, save that where Zee perpetually laughed and joked as a wild and ravening beserker champing at the bit, the eyes that looked out from that face were cold and calculating with a strange and eerie detachment. 

The monster's eyes, I realized with a sudden stab of fear, looked out from the face of Xaderavcal. Smiling, again speaking in that strange and I realized strangely-accented use of our Father's tongue, she said: 

You call yourself the God of this age? You are but a vain and strutting monster, aspiring to power beyond your reach! I have seen the kind of power you aspired to wielded by one able to wield it, no mere abomination of madness and quiet despair howling in madness and praised by the remnants of once-living beings left only their flesh as relics of who they were! 

Then the monster's eyes widened, and Xaderavcal spoke: 

And you are the one who took my mortal incarnation and made her into.....

Her hand thumped her chest and the mutilated flesh on her face growled with a strange kind of vibration that in another context might have been comical but here marked a sign of dread. 


This! 

Her eyes narrowed. 

I shall punish you properly, Azar of Azarath, Zazhalzanai, who takes to yourself a name not yours! Igna of Domdaniel, I bid you rise! 

Azarath changed with an eerie wind that howled through it for a moment, and the world around me glowed with a strange light. The vain and strutting monster that had been my sister was gone for a moment in time, and a shattered, crying wreck was left, curled in a fetal position moaning and begging for forgiveness and to never turn into the monster that she was then. 

Xaderavcal looked at her, and for a moment the rage and anger softened, and she knelt by the crying Zazhalanzanai. 

If I could release you from the curse upon your flesh and blood, if I could slough off the pieces of the monster without the result being something still more unhallowed than this, I would. You retain sanity amidst the chaos and death that surrounds you, and hold on to that. Your  destiny is yet to be fully written. From your evil is born the hammer of doom that scours the unholy, and from your evil is born the shadow that walks and clouds even the light of the moon that makes the night glorious. 

Fate is the cruelest and the sternest of masters. And it, my father learned to his cost, is the only master that matters. 

And she stayed with the crying wreck, who remained there for hours, until the sobs stopped and she then sat up. 

So there is no hope even with the spawn of the stormer of the Gates of the Gods? 

No, no hope. 

Please, forgive me for whatever I do, when I don't remember who you are. You at least tell me, as did my father, truth. 

And we stayed with her until the change began and then Xaderavcal vanished in a strange shimmering, as I did within a cloud of darkness. The cloud dispelled as I saw standing by me both Zee and then the Lightdancer, each of whom gestured to me to go over to them. And so I did. 

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 Chapter XVIII: 

The Azar laughed, a howl of stars kept in motion by mad gods that stumbled and shambled aimlessly and hurled her hammer into the onrushing hand of the Starspawn of Cthulhu, pulping the hand with a cataclysmic peal of thunder, a vile odor emanating from the impact, green gelatinous tissue splattering around us, though the Azar and I kept them off our person with a field of energy. Even as the creature reared back, the flesh began to recombine faster than it had fallen as another fist lunged forth, only for the Warhammer to smash through the monster's wrist, the tissue falling to the ground with a sickly squelching sound. 

So this is our Elders, the beings that were before ere the stars burned with our world? Forgive me if I am not unduly impressed. 

The hammer suddenly glowed with a sickly red light and its whirling in blinding speed at the hands of the Azar seemed to leave almost a thin and vile-smelling streak of blood along its trajectory, until the hammer collided into the Starspawn's face, smashing with a brutal strike that led the Starspawn to reel. 

Then the flesh that scattered healed still faster and the creature's consistency seemed to change, as six eyes burned like stars. Before the Azar could react, a wave of powerful blows struck her, throwing her back across miles. Moving slightly from my anchored position, I found that my freedom to maneuver was less than I expected or desired. Between the shockwaves and the anger of both entities, it was difficult to concentrate my own ability to do more than keep abreast of the forces at their disposal. 

Feeling pain and bruising, a sensation that had yet to lose its sense of novelty, I also felt an icy grasp of fear that without Deborah's armor I would have either passed out or had to learn how to rebuild a body from scratch. As I focused on all this, my eyesight also caught that the Azar's hammer glowed as she slammed it into the Starspawn as it attempted to crush her under its heel, and the blast threw the Starspawn back, the Azar's hammer then swinging toward the monster's knee. The creature reeled still further back and the Azar briefly transformed into a walking field of starlight and outer space within the familiar armor, hammer vanished, and flew forward. 

The impact knocked the Starspawn on her back, only for the creature to unleash a shockwave of her own that hurled the Azar off of her, the Azar now resuming her seemingly normal form of flesh and blood. The Starspawn reached out with a colossal paw and while striving to grasp the Azar, the creature that was my sister then bellowed once more the primordial foghorn-like sound that was her motif of sorts. This time, augmented by the full power of the many universes her presence had infected and absorbed, the impact did knock me unconscious, and as blackness swallowed me I saw the Starspawn turning a deep silver hue and rumbling in R'lyehian what seemed like extreme anger, and then both ran toward each other with the booming footsteps of Leviathans. 

It was not, perhaps, a long time as Earthmen would reckon it that I fell unconscious. But when I awakened, I saw that I had been dislodged from the ground by the impact of the brawling behemoths. The Azar no longer seemed a mere entity of flesh and blood, though what precisely made up her form I could not have specified then to satisfaction. She had risen to the size of the Starspawn, and her immense form seemed at times to be covered in mouths that roared challenges in the tongue of our non-human race, at times gelatinous and rugose, and at times diamond-hard and almost mechanical-seeming in appearance. Her flesh, if flesh she had at her disposal, changed with such disorienting swiftness that I was losing track of what was up or down. 

The blows each launched moved with a swiftness that an ordinary mortal, presuming that the shockwaves hadn't killed him and then disintegrated his body, not necessarily in that order, would have heard only in delayed fashion a set of blows that sounded like fell thunderclaps with the occasional booming sound and flash of light when the Azar summoned back her hammer or  a mace and smashed them into the flesh of the being from the other world, which in a straightforward brawl, skin now sufficiently hardened, was starting to prevail and push the Azar back. 

Sensing this and snarling, the Azar roared in pride with a thunderous sound that led to my deciding now was a good time to invoke the darkness that was my birthright and hope it would actually work. 

I am the God of this Age. No battlefield relic shall contend with me and survive the experience! 


With this, the Azar briefly transformed into something that had the vague semblance of a form about her, but emanated an awe-inspiring Malice that seemed almost tangible. Gestures like that of hands clenching followed and as I concealed myself in darkness a wave of such destructive force as to shatter anything it came in contact emanated from the Azar, and yet another planet was consumed in the wake of such entities as my family and this strange being that I now regretted very much having come into contact with. 

After remaining in the darkness with a rather frenzied debate with myself, I decided to see where the two monsters had gone, in hopes that as they fought that one or the other might kill each other. Besides, I had the feeling that having antagonized one of them, that if I did not do this, one of them would drag me anyhow so it was better to maneuver things and serve as recorder of what was in motion than to try to es-I realized I'd taken too long to decipher this when I felt the iron hand of one of the entities grasp my enshrouded form and yank me through the portal that one of them had made in the wake of the devastating blast, 

As I fell through, I realized the sickly crawling feeling beneath the skin that seemed almost familiar was familiar. The portal that had opened drew Cthylla and I once more into the hellish entity-place that was Azarath, where the Azar was thought and voice to a realm where existence itself was a choking horror of mangled dreams and twisted hopes and endless bleating choruses of "Glory to the Great one, the eternal one, who suspends existence itself in being!" I knew a wintry satisfaction in seeing even the monstrous Starspawn Cthylla seemingly disoriented by the place, keenly gazing around her/itself, 

It was then that I saw the Azar, seemingly human once more, hovering in the skies laughing with the fell laughter of a mad God: 

Here is my realm, battlefield relic! Here, I am the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and the end! I have the keys to death, and in my hands I grant immortality! Naught exists in this realm save that I allow it! Here all is an Undying Flame that shall burn now and forever, world without end! Know this that now, now I say to you, none are like the Azar! None may give me council! I was there when the stars burned into light and the sons of the Gods sang for joy! 

Here is the land of Azarath, where all that is or will ever be is one people, one faith, one ruler: the Azar, the Flame Imperishable who unites existence with an iron hand! 


And with a bellowing howl of almost nihilistic glee the monster swooped down toward the Starspawn, who seemed to have a detached and almost amused gaze in its eyes, forming a kind of curved metal dome to shield itself from the swooping monster that seemed to swell and grow in size and be human in size all at once in a bewildering rippling motion that pained eyes that strove to see it. 



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 Chapter XVII: 

When I awoke, I saw, dimly, that I was in a landscape that was seemingly barren and deserted. Next to me crouched a colossus that seemed mountainous, a vast and teeming bulk of greenish flesh. The creature gazed at me with its tendrils seeming to form a grim smile, the tremendous bulk not moving in a conventional sense but almost oozing forward. As I began to scramble backwards, the skies suddenly shifted over me. Seeing stars that I hadn't seen in what was in one way almost too short a time and yet felt an eternity, I began to try to invoke the force of a portal when I noticed the oozing bulk of the colossus was looking up to the strange skies, eyes widening. The moment passed and it extended an arm to grasp me, but I then paused and looked up again. 

Hovering in the now-restored skies was a heavily armored figure, half her face enclosed in armor with the eyes and the top of her head exposed. The armor was a dark and strange green, emblazoned with a light-blue and crude yet stylized dragon, one of the heads gnawing at the throat of the other. The figure's cape was the same bright blue hue as the armor. The Azar, my deranged elder sister, the mocking and laughing mad god that howled in guttural and inhuman fashions and was the very framework of the worlds it ruled. 

The being hovered, a small object next to two of the eyes of the monstrous Cthylla,, which had grown still greater. 

Cthylla's mocking voice echoed in what I recognized only in hindsight as recognizable human speech. Realizing this, of course, was not one of my happier moments but there it is: 

So the elder whelp comes to the aid of the younger. You have called yourself a God, the center of all that is or will ever be. My kind mastered existence itself many countless cycles before your universe was but the hint of a glimmer in the minds of the Ultimate Gods beyond the Veil! My kind are the elder race that was. We shall rise when the stars become right, and then yours shall be no more. We are the reasons Earth had the potential to draw such creatures as the eldest of your race to our world, and it is we who shall build these worlds in still greater ways anew. 

The Azar spoke in response: 

So speaks the battlefield relic, the last scion of elder days. Your kind are all dead, dreaming their death in a necropolis within the material framework of this world. Speak not of the glory of those who were once, for they are not now. The Stars for your kind are Wrong, but for us, they are Right! It is not your age now, scion of tens of thousands of lives divided amongst so many pitiful mortal frames in infinite space, but mine! Mine the hands that set the stars in motion, mind the hands that moves the lowliest and the highest. 

You glory in the deeds of a father who left you alone save in the few times when the necropolis is thrown up by the convulsions of the seashore, in a timeframe when the lands had not yet formed and the waters had not yet congealed from a cooling orb of lava and ash. Mine the hand that heals, mine the hand that curses, mine that unleashes the wind and the storm over the wine-dark sea, that unleashes the light of rosy-fingered dawn! 

You are the last sad relic of the Gods who were, I am eldest and fatherless of the Gods yet to be. Mine the hands, mine the will, mine the power! I am the Alpha and the Omega, first and the last, and beside me there is no other! I hung the very stars themselves that move in their courses, I bring to mankind fulfillment of ancient and primordial dreams! Yea, I make their dreams the nightmares that haunt them, that make them scream themselves awake at night! I offer them worlds without war and misery and death, and in fulfillment of their ancient longings receive my due. 

We are the Gods of this Age, for us the Stars are right and shine on us in comfort. So speaks the Azar, the Undying Flame, who gives forth the light and the renewal of the Stars themselves and sets all that is in motion! 


The Azar then unleashed blasts of terrible, hellish light from her eyes that seared into the monster, and it was during that time that I chose to seize the moment and call upon myself not the flayed hide of the archangel but the modified version of the Lightdancer's armor. Modifications made by assertion of willpower, and modifications that proved wise indeed as the searing lances led the monstrous spawn of Cthulhu to unleash an unholy whine before turning six glowing eyes on the Azar. Raising arms that seemed to swell with musculature as other parts of the being contracted, Cthylla's massive gorillaesque arms hurled down as the Azar formed a shielding dome of energy, the monster's arms colliding with the shield with a tremendous flash of light, followed by a colossal shockwave that I withstood mostly by my modified variant of Deborah's armor and anchoring my feet solidly into the ground, hands in front of my face in an attempt to brace the impact. 

The blast was followed by the eerie primordial foghorn with a rumbling undertone, a sound that led to my falling to my knees, clasping my ears to block out its magnitude. As the Azar roared, triumphantly, unleashing the Trombone and flashing the ten rings, bellowing after: 

Ten are the rings of the Azar, and in the Undying Flame shall all that is be consumed! 

Yet beyond the triumphant howl a mountain moved forth, aroused to a great and terrible wrath even as the Azar anchored herself and formed a massive warhammer out of nothing, and a clash of Gods made manifest in flesh and blood began with fear and trembling.....

halialkers: (Default)
 Chapter XVI: 

I descended in what I assumed to be glory and honor and terror upon a world until I realized, as I landed, that my omniscience had vanished. The boasting and arrogance I had intended died stillborn as I gazed forward into an abyss whereupon I saw the creature that suspended it. The speech died, yes, but then came with it a rumbling and echoing call of a wrath beyond that of mere ordinary spheres: 

So, Zee, you're already here, then? You must be wiser than I expected to be here so soon. 

This too died stillborn when the creature walking toward me gave a hideous smile and then calmly moved with a deliberately slowed and shambling walk. A slopping and unnatural voice echoed in levels of sound different to my kind, a sound so alien to the geometries of the material plane that only by analogy could it be called sound: 

Quiet whelp. My race was here long before e'er your kind was. Your kind erect the first steps in a great empire and delve into forbidden secrets, and all kneels before you because your progenitor, like mine, is no longer a mere being of flesh and blood. He has become something other. 

I am not Zee, whelp, I am the Sovereign you offended by storming into mine own realm, inheritor of a Dark Dreamer whose father lies dead but dreaming in a necropolis that covers half the globe. Xaderavcal stands before you. You stormed into my realm and disrupted a plan a decade in the making as it was poised on success. And you have given to me proof that others since the Stars changed are initiating a return of Wonders not seen since my father's realm sprawled over much of Existence itself. 


Xaderavcal, said the being that spoke to me, was its name. But it was not the brutish and arrogant military despot who interrogated me. No, it couldn't be. The creature shambled and its voice was a slopping and hideous mockery of voice and sound themselves. With it seemed to emanate an ancient mist, and for the first time I noticed that people were either suspended by or dead of fright, and that the very ground seemed to ripple where walked the green mist, and then the booming slopping voice rose to a new pitch. 

I shall show you in full what it is that faces you. But that shall not be now, quite yet, no. 

First, I shall show you that gap between the power you esteemed when the virus gave to you a voice and a pretense of strength, and that which was when the Empire of Xoth was supreme o'er all existence.
 

The thing in Xaderavcal's face made her smile and for a moment her flesh wavered and a hint of something gigantic and green with a monstrous tentacle-adorned face leering with countless eyes appeared, and then the creature waved a hand, speaking two words in an ancient tongue that predated countless universes: 

Y'ktalvargadir Azathothikirirkill! 


And everything went silent with a sudden onrushing of darkness and I didn't even have time to scream. 

I awoke in a charred field of fine rubble, seeing only something kneeling in the darkness, eyes watching with contempt. A mountain watched, rasping with unholy laughter, six gleaming eyes of dark blue laughing as a figure not unlike a monstrous caricature of a human, a dragon, and an octopus opened vast wings and spoke again: 

N'hraklthk dhargun! 

And everything changed again as I once more fainted, mind overwhelmed by the unfathomable ancient energies of Something that was when my kind was not even yet a part of a grand design. I had only the time to wonder what it meant when someone aware of the nature of Story found oneself a cat's paw in an entity's hands able to overwhelm even this. Darkness swallowed me before the icy and unfamiliar sensation of true fear could set in..........

halialkers: (Default)
 Chapter XV: 

As the monster came closer, I heard its rumbling breath and then she stood next to me. 

A voice that was silky with blatant menace hissed with the sound of a wind across tombstones: 

So, the bastard whelp is here to fight her superior. 

I smiled. 

Ah, Zezhel. No pseudo-prophetic meter to belabor those of us with actual lives to live? Pity, I was hoping to waste a few minutes with the soliloquy. 

Impudent mongrel....she growled and then raised her staff as the runes and gems gleamed with an unhallowed light and slammed it into the ground. A pulse of destructive force surged out, though I formed around me a barrier of darkness that sought to anchor me into the ground. The barrier did indeed keep the pulse from buffeting me, but it gouged a vast crater into the ground around me and elsewhere. 

The monster blinked, and then growled. 

So you can manipulate darkness then, after all. And it wasn't some illusion. 

Tell me, whelp, were I to offer to you the chance to gain access to weapons devised by a mind greater than most, divine or mortal, would you take it? 

I looked at her and the crater. 

As opposed to simply banging at each other without any logic other than your own bloodlust.....depends on the job. 


She smiled, a cruel grimace that bared her teeth. 

I would have you go to the realm of Ziharkano, to strike my enemies for me.It is not a cause worthy of direct presence and absorption of that world, and for it you are perfectly suited.

My eyes narrowed: 

How then am I to do this? Does strike mean to destroy the planet or those few unfortunate souls you deem targets? 


 The grimace widened, the dish-shaped face seemingly oddly distorted as she said: 

It means the former. Destroy for me that world, and you shall receive this. 

Her right hand pointed to a grimoire in her left hand. 

It is a book of mighty spells that permit one who wields it to command not merely time and space, but fundamentals of reality itself. With it, your strength shall be greatly enhanced. It is a simple enough deed. 

And as she vanished within that same foul-smelling light, I summoned to myself a vision of that world. 

To my genuine pleasure it proved to be a colony-world of a species my omniscience said would be dispatched with no mourners. Calling upon myself a cloak of shadow I felt the weightless sensation of passing within worlds to the crossroads of infinity.......

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