A Storm Gathers

EVENTS NEWS #404
Date: 11/22/2012 at 03:22
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: A Storm Gathers

Clouds parted within the sky, and an immense arm of Yggdrasil can be
seen stretching to the horizon, illusory yet very real. Upon that
massive branch manifested the ancient figure of Agatheis, his robes
billowing in the primordial winds that churn around the World Tree.

"Come, Bal'met," cried out the Elemental Lord. "Make yourself known. I
grow tired of this charade. If you are so intent on ending Us, I will be
claimed in the time and manner of my choosing."

The air around the World Tree grew noxious and foul as Bal'met appeared
in a haze of poisonous fumes. A palpable, seething wrongness crept
through the ether, and Agatheis inclined his head at the looming god.
Greedily Bal'met stretched out an arm, rippling and shifting with
boundless power, directing tendrils of black vapour to coalesce around
Agatheis, and the Elemental Lord's form blurred and distorted.

Suddenly, the earth trembled and heaved, and a primal gale whipped
across the planes with wild abandon. Rich, red-orange fire erupted with
a radiance that briefly dispelled all shadows, and the thundering crash
of the surf broke loud as Agatheis summons the raw elements to his
command.

Driving his staff firmly into the World Tree beneath his feet, Agatheis
stood tall, his eyes cold with power and fury. Awash in power, the
Elemental Lord extended his arm to ward off the squalid miasma that
encroached upon him.

"As I said, I will be claimed in a time and manner of My choosing,
Bal'met," Agatheis rumbled. "But that moment is not now."

Deafening roars rumbled across the firmament as Agatheis raised his
staff, commanding the elements with supreme authority, and quickly
vanished from sight.

"How powerful are You, Bal'met," came his distant voice, "if You so
easily allow Your prey to escape?

~ ~ ~

Primal and terrible, a bellow of rage shook the world. The skies above
the Pillars of Heaven grew dark, and an unnatural wind began to howl
with unrestrained potency. Spears of black lightning formed at the
behest of Bal'met, slicing through the clouds that obscured the mountain
peaks to reveal the Garden of the Gods.

Tendrils of oily fire swirled toward the Garden, veins of pulsing power
that twisted and whirled about the seat of divine power. Relentlessly
the monstrous storm battered the lofty peak, but the Garden remained
untouched, shrouded by an aura of divine protection that resisted even
the devastating power of Bal'met.

"Is that the best You can do?" called out Vastar, the Skylord. "I've
seen worse storms weathered by pigeons!"

High upon the firmament, the tranquil Garden became filled with
prismatic light, and six figures appeared: Artemis, Goddess of the
Cataclysm; Melantha, Goddess of the Seasons; Phaestus, the Smith;
Pentharian, God of Valour; Ourania, Goddess of the Moon; and Vastar, the
Skylord. Shoulder to shoulder, the gods faced Bal'met in full battle
regalia, their weapons ready and features set in grim resolve.

Pentharian raised a sword of pure Light in challenge as Bal'met scowled
across the heavens. "Picking on a wounded God and His heartbroken lover
is one thing, but can You stand alone against Us, Bal'met?"

"No, this upstart lacks the courage to face the Wrath of Nature," came
Artemis' furious shout. "He'll run and hide behind his masters in that
abominable red fog."

The aberrant storm abated as Bal'met began to gather his power close,
and the ephemeral ward that surrounded the Garden of the Gods faded
away. A deafening crack of thunder resounded as Artemis hurled a
blinding bolt of lightning, tearing through the heavens to strike
Bal'met.

"The Cataclysm does not forget your transgressions upon Nature and its
Protectors, vile creature," she cried. "Relinquish the power that is not
yours to control!"

Bal'met swelled with scorn and rapacious hunger, becoming a great spear
of destructive energy streaking through the sky toward the unprotected
Garden, resolving as a billowing cloud before the six gods. At the same
moment Phaestus hefted his hammer high, slamming it upon the ground and
striking a massive blow that shook the very earth.

The Garden of the Gods shuddered and quaked, and a complex pattern of
runes flared to life beneath the fluctuating form of Bal'met. Four
spikes erupted from the ground, their polished surfaces etched with
gleaming ancient runes, towering above Bal'met and turning with slow,
immutable purpose.

With a cacophonous groan the four pillars ground to a halt, their
rune-etched faces turned inward toward Bal'met, whose vague outline
sharpened in their midst. Carefully and deliberately the gods surrounded
the divine trap, and Ourania trained her bow upon Bal'met as he whirled
about, apparently caught within.

"You took my child and slew my siblings," spoke the Goddess of the Moon
with measured fury. "Now you come to our home.... it is only right that
you should enjoy our kind of hospitality."

~ ~ ~

"It seems Your lackey is out of the fight, Sartan," jeered Pentharian.
"You'll have to fight Your own battles now!"

Mocking laughter scorched the heavens as the flames of Vengeance
radiated outward from Mhaldor, along with the voice of Keresis, Goddess
of Vengeance. "That so-called lackey was able to best six gods so far,
Pentharian."

Sanguine clouds billowed and rose above Baelgrim Fortress, uplifting
three figures surrounded by a corona of necromantic power: Sartan, the
Malevolent; Keresis, Goddess of Vengeance; and Indrani, Goddess of Sin.

"First you show wrath with your callous slaying of Apollyon," came
Indrani's powerful voice. "Now you succumb to pride? Such delightful
potential for sin, Pentharian."

"Indrani and Keresis, you err in standing with Sartan," warned Vastar.
"Wisely have you remained apart from the fray, and you still have the
chance to step back."

"I for one shall not forget my ancient pact with you, Sartan," Keresis
returned with scorn. "Our bonds are stronger than paltry words."

"Reconsider your choice," Melantha entreated. "You are still our
sisters, but we will not let you stand in our way. Bal'met must be put
down like the dog he is!"

"You are wrong," hurled Indrani with bitter disdain. "We stand together.
Such a glorious world We will rule once We have achieved Dominion over
all."

As the words of the Demon Queen fade away, two more figures appear in
the Garden of the Gods: Mithraea, luminous Goddess of the Sun; and
Tarah, Goddess of Harmony.

"The path You have chosen leads not where You think, Gods of the West,"
cried Lady Sol. "You charge foolishly toward Your own undoing."

Tarah's words echoed that of her sister, but continued to fall upon ears
loathe to listen. "You hunger for reckless carnage and the slaughter of
innocents, siding with an abomination of warped divinity. We shall not
endure it."

"Endure it you shall," Keresis snarled. "My lash will render no quick
mercies, soft-hearted goddess.

A new challenge roared across the planes as Aegis, God of War, appeared
among the rest of the figures in the garden. Beside him stood
Pandemonium, God of Strife, ready to fight at his father's side.
Eldritch fire bloomed overhead, and Babel, God of Oblivion, stepped
through a rift in space to join the assembled immortals with an
imperious frown.

"You meddle with what fate has woven, Bal'met," uttered the Mad God of
Oblivion, turning his attention to Sartan's baneful ally. "I will not
allow you to disrupt what must be. Oblivion will come, and it will come
on my terms, not yours."

~ ~ ~

Snarling in rage, Sartan drew his swords, his dark eyes burning with
bloodlust. To each side, Keresis and Indrani readied themselves for
battle, and the three vanished in a gust of crimson fog, reappearing a
moment later within the Garden of the Gods.

Warcries shook heaven and earth as the immortals rushed together,
meeting in a clash of supernatural might... and the battle began.

Penned by My hand on the 8th of Chronos, in the year 611 AF.