Disclaimer: You are allowed criticise and you are more than allowed to point out grammatical errors or incorrect use of words due to English not being my native language. Also copyright by me but I always wanted to write that, so.
This part follows right after te other one publidhed and covers the first part of the story right up until the death of the original Pazuzu and Stephanus. Then shit hits the fan and I still have to write that out, shoot me.
Then the gods split up, Cruelty and Hate wandered over Silmä’s continents until they came to a marsh that was clad in fog so thick that even the fen fires had a hard time to be seen. They walked through the marsh, hand in hand, until it took a slope uphill into sparse trees that were crippled and mostly bald and until the sad shadow of a forest became stone. Until they stood on top of a cliff that fell down meters upon meters down to where the ocean broke itself in foamy waves on the bottom. “This is the land’s end”, Cruelty said: “Where we will lay the first stone to the place we will call home”. And she kissed Hate hard on the mouth, lips tight.
The house was built of thick and unrelenting stone, weathered and worn down within months by the harsh wind that blew salty waters up the cliff. Hate forced the cliff into submission, steeled it against the waters that threatened to eat the bottom and from the black onyx veins that crawled through the cliff he forged two rings to bind himself to Cruelty and to bind her to him, a promise made in the darkness while the full moon shone down on them.
Cruelty was thirsty for more and more power, for power beyond what was currently in their hands and she walked down from the cliff into the villages and cities, into the forests and through the ports to find men with steel in their eyes and a craving for power in their bellies.
She found Tyr, the blonde hunk of a man, his bulging muscles straining in the constraints of his shirt, in a bloody bar fight; Dorian, with a face that was as sweet as the one of a child, admits the mossy rocks down the sea and Mordecai, who came from one of the forest tribes that ran with the wolves and regularly took their shape as well, under the bridge in one of Silmä’s bigger cities.
She brought them back on the cliff and appointed them her lieutenants and sent them back down again to recruit whom they saw fit to follow her into war.
But before she let them go back she made them pledge their life to her and her alone and she promised them riches and power beyond their imagination.
Tyr went into the dark underbelly of the cities where the riff-raff was pressed together in smoke-stained bars and waded through the rotten remains of the better lives other people lived above them.
There he picked the men and women who had nothing to lose but much to gain, who listened to the sweet promise of a better life and were willing to take up arms to gain it.
Dorian went to the barracks of the common soldiers and sat with them around their campfires and with words he weaved visions of a better future, a future that would help them to be not the ones underfoot but the ones on top.
Mordecai, who came from a race of shapeshifters, went into the woods and found those who had left their tribes as he had done; who hunted in the forests and cities and lured them with promises of salvation and forgiveness.
And from these ragtag bunch of renegades, traitors and thieves, Pazuzu forged an army that marched over Silmä like a thunderstorm, taking everything in their way and giving nothing back.
The other gods saw with concern what Hate and Cruelty were building on their secluded cliff and Peace spoke, with palpable trepidation in her voice, that they needed to be stopped at all cost before Silmä would be destroyed by the war that was boiling.
Serenity called in on the men and women who offered their services to everyone in Silmä to track down the evildoers and thieves to earn their living and offered those brave enough to hunt the wayward gods gold beyond what they could dream of and more power to booth. Few of those who he had called took up on his offer but those who did opted to work together under the banner of a blood-soaked rag and called themselves blood-hunters.
Solitude appealed to Kemal to call the gods to war, to draw together an army made of those loyal to their new and budding religion and Kemal put out the call that was headed by the demons, the humans, the centaurs and the elves. The dwarves sent their smiths to forge weapons with the best material Silmä had to offer and the giants drew back to the sidelines to watch the ongoing proceedings before they took sides.
Amidst the chaos a woman came forth, clad in a sheer dark blue dress that coiled around her lithe form like smoke. “Gods”, she began: “I have dreams, dreams in which I see glimpses of the future, a future the magic around us is showing me. I can see, I can help. Oh let me help! Let me see the future for you!”
Love, who had a fondness for the curious little things, extended her hand to the woman: “Come here sister, sit down next to my feet and see, dream for us and see”
The woman sunk down on her knees and extended her hands towards the sky, her eyes got foggy as she cried out: “I can see darkness, darkness that stretches beyond what we can imagine! Blood soaks the green fields and the crops wither on the fields! A wind, a wind from the west will blow in and on its wings it brings the end! Oh oh what a darkness! Only more blood, spilt on the white stone, can change this fate!”, and then she fell down, sunk into herself.
“Who tells us that she has indeed seen the future?”, Wisdom asked and another woman come forth: “There are more of us, who can see glimpses of the future! It’s a skill that was given to us, that is in our blood. If we get together in a guild like the smiths, the bakers, the hatters… we could be of assistance to the gods. See what is upcoming, suggest a path…”
“And who would interpret what nonsense you lot spews?”, Wisdom inquired.
“This is easy”, an elderly woman joined the other one: “All of what we know will be gone unless Cruelty and Hate can be killed. Spill their blood to cleanse this world, to fill the rift that has formed”
“Very well”, Wisdom decided: “This will be my contribution: find a place that seem suitable for you, build a house for you and those who have your skills and provide us with your insights”. And thus the guild of seers was founded and Wisdom was their patroness.
Then the mirror came to life.
A face appeared in the glass that looked like it belonged to a little child with long pointy ears and a smile that showed too much teeth to be trustworthy. “You opt for war”, it said and its voice was high and full of glee: “Nubia, Goddess of War, it is your time to shine”.
In front of the mirror a woman appeared, her dark brown skin on display apart from a loincloth and with strange tattoos covering all of her body.
Nubia had been part of one of the desert tribes that lived near the borders of the huge desert Qisir Torpaq that made up the middle of the continent Adebowale and who were at constant war with the giants over the oases in the desert, which were the most important places to hold if one were to rule over the desert. The tribe had never made a difference between man and woman when it came to fighting so both genders were trained from a young age at the art of warfare. The best of them would be, regardless of gender, drafted as leaders for the small groups of soldiers that were sent out to recover oases held by the giants in guerilla attacks. She was clever and resourceful and had fought many skirmishes before she had been seen as adult by the standards of her tribe for their rite of passage was a battle fought and enemies killed.
The war started with skirmishes in the cities, small battles fought at dawn on open fields, the opposite sides gouging their opponents’ strengths. Losses were few and scattered while the armies gathered their strengths for the final strike.
In the mist of war, Cruelty conceived a child. Desperate to keep the child growing inside her hidden from the Council’s eyes she stepped back as much as possible, letting Hate take the forefront in rallying their troops and leading them into battle. The child, a daughter, was born a few weeks before the red blood moon rose to denounce the last blood shed and when it rose, Cruelty bundled her up and placed her in the crib.
“Sleep child, I will be back in the morrow”, she whispered and then she followed Hate outside the door and down, down, down into the bog where a tent city had been erected.
Once, in the beginning, the seven beings had agreed that none of them would intervene into the life on Silmä, despite their words to the gods of ‘taking them out of this world’. They’d watch silently, maybe judging, but at large they’d remain indifferent. The seventh being however was not one for rules, especially if it involved watching his creations being turned to dust.
So at the eve of the final battle it took the shape of an old woman and walked through the pitched tents of the soldiers up to the biggest one where Hate and Cruelty resided and it opened the curtain and slipped in.
Hate and Cruelty lay sleeping, intertwined with each other on the cot in the middle of the tent. The seventh being walked up to them and stood, silently watching the faces of its most precious creation.
Then it touched.
Both gods woke up at once, weapons ready at hand, striking towards the strange figure in their tents. The seventh being stopped them dead in their tracks, simply by raising its head in a placating gesture.
“Peace”, it spoke: “I mean neither harm nor ill will. Listen closely to what I’ll tell you – you have no chance of winning this time around. Only death awaits you and those who follow you. So heed my advice: give up.”
“Lose? Were you sent by the Council in a vain attempt to dissuade us? You fool!”, Cruelty spat, her eyes blazing with fury. Hate shook his head: “No, not the Council. You are here on your own agenda, right?”
“Yes. You always were the most clever one of those we created. Will you listen to me?”, the seventh asked smiling. “We will”, Hate promised and the seventh being released the hold. Hate grabbed Cruelty’s arm to hold her back from charging again.
The seventh being began: “You have assembled an army but at this point, your choice was greatly limited, simply by the limited resources. Silmä is still young and budding, not yet grown and populated as it will become. You are only two and the Council has a new face amongst them – the Goddess of War. The name was not assigned to her to frighten you; she is the embodiment of war. You will not succeed if you go against them now; you will only lose all that you have gained so far.”
“So what? You want us to admit defeat, to die!?”, Cruelty had never been a patient woman and the strange figure that had appeared out of thin air set her teeth on edge.
“Exactly”, it continued: “For now, give up and accept death as a certainty. But in doing so you’ll be able to save your army, to save them for your next try.”
“Next try? How if we will be dead!?”, the fury in Cruelty’s eyes has reached its breaking point and she bared her teeth and slipped from Hate’s grip to charge, the earth in the tent forming a spear charging towards the figure. She did not get far. The seventh being heaved a sigh and spun around, freezing Cruelty in the air, suspended. “Forgive her”, Hate said and motioned for the seventh being to continue.
“If you were able to let me speak freely without interrupting, this would be easier, you know”, the seventh griped towards Cruelty but continued on: “I am rebirth and I will aide you in your next try. For now, save what you have, hide it somewhere save and wait for me to bring you back at a time more favorable to your cause.”
And with those last words the seventh being vanished, leaving Cruelty to topple gracelessly back to the ground.
At dawn Cruelty spoke to her lieutenants: „We will not shed any more blood today. We will go with our heads held high and our dignity intact. But you, you will forget, this, us and what we did. How you will do that will be yours to decide but hide it well and truly.“ – she gave each of them a small statue of a praying woman with her face hidden beneath a cowl – „Each of them holds one part of my army. Hide those while you flee, hide them somewhere safe but whatever you do, forget where they are until you and they are needed again“ And each of the lieutenants took one statue and slipped unseen through enemy lines.
Tyr had a twin sister, Thyra, who was part of the seer guild and saw his flight in her dreams, saw his footprints in the wet sand towards one of the abandoned fisher boats and saw the waves his oars drew through the deep blue water. But she stayed silent and kept her head down as she stood in line behind Wisdom as the morning of the battle dawned.
Dorian closed his eyes and spread his wings, let the wind blow him further and further away from Land’s End towards the icy wastelands and their tiny villages where he only opened his eyes when he had forgotten everything but his own name.
Mordecai went to his clan in the mountains, spinning stories of blood and fights in the cities and pledged himself anew to the gods they prayed to.
As the sun was high in the sky Cruelty and Hate walked together through the marsh towards where the other army stood and in the stunned silence they spoke as one „We surrender“
Hate and Cruelty were executed at dawn, when the first rays of sunlight colored the white marbled halls red. Their bodies were burnt and the ashes scattered in the wind, the rings were thrown into the deepest of the oceans .
The seventh being watched its creations being utterly destroyed, watched how their spiritual remains crossing the border to the outer parts of Silmä into the realm of the second being. There it went and there it asked, with a sadness in its voice, if it could keep them in its realm, as they were its first creations and they had had only such a short span of existence that it would quite like to gaze upon their remains a while longer. The second being, whose fondness for the seventh had not ceased but only grown, granted it its wish and the seventh being brought it into its realm, cradled them into his arms and spoke softly into their ears, promises of revenge and rebirth.
Serenity walked up the hill to Land’s End and into the house that had been shelter for Hate and Cruelty on their cruise and there he found the swaddled baby in the crib, eyes tear stained and exhausted from crying as if she’d known that her parents would never come back. He brought her back with him, sealing up Land’s End, and the Council agreed that they could not hold the parents’ crimes over the child but would instead have it raised as a loyal follower of the Council’s ways.
In the wake of the battle much changed.
Where it should later be found by a curious mermaid who traded the ring with an elder fisherman only to be killed by one of the hunting sharks on her way back. The fisherman went on to trade the rings on the market in the next bigger city and came down with a fever a few days later that did not break no matter what the doctors tried and ended up spreading until the little fishing village was devoid of all living beings. The rings found their way into the pockets of a dexterous thief who sold them to a pawn-shop for gold to free his sweetheart from jail where she was incarcerated for the murder of her husband. Both thief and sweetheart met their untimely demise when they left the city and were attacked by burglars. In the pawn-shop the rings attracted the curiosity of the leader of the group of burglars who had previously murdered thief and sweetheart who beheaded the owner of the pawn-shop and went on his merry way, rings in his hands. In the coming years the rings showed a remarkable disdain to being owned and left behind a trail of dead and dying people until they were one day – now including a very nice carved box a previous owner had had crafted by skilled witches and inlaid with many spells to protect him from what was now known as curse only to be killed by a falling chandelier – gifted to the firstborn son of Arundel, High King of Moscaw, as a curiosity. There it was shoved beneath the vast array of other presents, the death of its donor by a crowd of angry boars only noted in the dusty chronicles. There they stayed for years and years until the presentee packed up to flee in the middle of the night and grabbed the wooden box as an afterthought, a curiosity to be sold down the road to fund the escape.