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Thursday, February 6, 2014


As with all things, it was only a matter of time until peace came to an end.

None knows how long this primeval proto-world remained in its potentially-infinite stasis. It may have happened swiftly, or generations upon generations could have lived, died, and been reborn before at last the calm was broken. Kingdoms could have risen and fallen, wars come and gone, triumphs and glories crested and ebbed, or it could have been the space of a heartbeat, here and gone in the blink of an eye.

But at some point, after life had come and existence had been established, came the next threat: boredom.

Two of the Aspects began to express a disdain for the world they had created. Ahriman and Xaos, tired of their art already, bid their sisters to wipe the slate clean and let them begin anew. Arete and Braghain immediately refused, the former unwilling to see so many lives obliterated for the sake of their entertainment, the latter horrified by the idea of their craftsmanship being dissolved back into the dust and darkness from which it had been formed. Fighting once more rose amidst the Aspects, and for the first time in unmeasured eternity, those who were once unified - first as One entity, then as one in Purpose - were now opposed, Good against Evil, Order against Chaos. Mazuda attempted what she could to keep the peace, but as the discourse and confrontations grew fiercer, the other four drew only further apart, not closer together. Seeing she could do nothing to end their battles, she withdrew, leaving her four siblings to their fighting.

The Avatars, uncertain as to the nature of the conflict nor their place in it, flocked to The Ancient of Days. To them she issued a proclamation: they would remain neutral, showing no open allegiance to any of the four disparate causes that she feared would soon tear Finiens apart in their bickering. They would see to their Creation, and to it alone, and to Mazuda only would they be accountable; should the other Aspects have issue with their actions, they were to see it brought to her, not to command the Avatars under her hand. The four Elementals, Ireshkigal, and Zshagothotha continued their assigned duties, remaining uninvolved in the conflicts, and for a time, life went on.

But such was not to be forever. While the others either did not notice in their infighting or did not care, Ahriman saw the act of his sister in claiming all the Avatars under her own sway, and rebelled. He stretched his will and his hands to the skies above and the earth below, called forth the elements they had once forged with, and crafted himself a new Avatar of his own, a furious, destructive thing, an incarnation of Wrath whose name has been blotted from the ages, and imbued it with his own power. He then delved deep into the earth, beyond the Seal, and approached the imprisoned Nidhoggar, to whom he offered such power as bounty in exchange for aiding his plans of destruction and vengeance against Mazuda. The hungry serpent eagerly agreed, and was imbued with the might of Gluttony, and given his first task - to reach out to the Life they had created and draw them to darkness.

Both this Wrathful horror and the Gluttonous serpent found eager purchase for their temptations in the mind of the great warrior lord, Balor. At their subtle urgings, the great king waged war on all around, until at last he struck against his fellow lord and ladies, seeking to seize all five thrones for his own. They, at Ahriman’s behest, attempted to touch the minds of his generals as well, and tainted all but one - his daughter and heir, Feada.

Finding no purchase in the one target he had sought from the beginning, Ahriman turned his attentions instead to the other Courts. Calling upon the aid of his then-ally Xaos, he seduced the heir of the hunter’s Court, Echidna, and tempted her to betray her father Cernunnos; in exchange for power unfathomable, she agreed to lead an army against her own Court, seize the throne for herself, and fight alongside Balor and his armies to destroy the other Courts and subdue the world. At Xaos’s touch, she was transformed, taking on the form of a great serpent-woman; she was then given to Ahriman’s Wrathful warlord as bride, and the army she had been promised given as a brood of her own birthing as Echidna became the Mother of Monsters.

Despite this, however, victory was not theirs to have. The other Courts fought back fiercely, battling their fellows under Balor’s command and the newly-bred monstrosities of Echidna with equal vigor, their Queens and King and Heirs leading the charges against enemy forces with the ferocity of all the indomitable wilds. So fierce was the battle, so relentless the strife, that when at last the winning blow was struck - a spear to the heart, a blade to the flesh, an arrow to the eye, and a spell to the soul - the backlash of Balor’s fall shook the entire world of Finiens….

… and sundered it.

Balor and his Court - including, perhaps unintentionally, his daughter Feada, who had desired no strife with her fellow Courts - were cast away into a world of bleak shadows and empty echoes, a world defined by all the things dreamed but without substance, all that was ever wished for but could never be. A world of the lost and forgotten, a shadow of things that would never come, they found themselves endlessly taunted by images of the great kingdoms they would have forged had they triumphed, only to find them so much smoke and ash. This shadow of the world was now their conquest and their prison, and try as they might, the six - The Nether King himself, his very name cleaved away from him with that final blow, plus his four generals and his now-imprisoned heir, locked away by her father and his troops for fear of another betrayal - could find no escape.

Victory bloomed anew for the other four Courts, however, but likewise they were severed from the world they had known; their prison, however, was of much greater grandeur, and perhaps not a prison at all. After the battle, they found themselves in a world vibrant with life, filled with endless wonders alien and beautiful and terrible. A world of infinite potential, unbound by rule or law, spiraled out from their triumph - a victory touched by the fickle whim of Xaos, who had withdrawn his support for his brother at the last second, allowing the Courts to seize victory at the price of his sway on the world they had just won. This wonderland had taken its toll on them as well, and its inhabitants felt themselves change as the years rolled on - severed from Ireshkigal’s call, death and life blended into a persistent immortality, where the very world itself returned them anew if slain, often in different shapes and forms just as much as unchanged entirely. As the eons turned, they forgot their lives before the war, their connections to their creators, and all but the infinite mystery of their new home. Deeming themselves the Fae, they called their realm FaeReie, and the four surviving Courts claimed their new demesnes within the infinitude of endless possibilities. Their betrayer kin, deemed The Lost Court, were largely forgotten, spoken of only in hushed whispers with loathing and fear.

As for Finiens itself, it was left largely uninhabited, with only a few sparse pockets of surviving creatures left on its surface. The Aspects were forced, to Xaos’s glee and Ahriman’s grudging acceptance of a partial victory, to begin anew, leaving these echo-worlds to their own devices and focusing their full attention on this new central, anchor world of the Material. New creatures to populate it were formed, both by the hands of the Aspects and by the womb of Echidna, who - despite fleeing to the safety of Mazuda’s shadow to escape the dangers of that final battle - retained her partnership with the Wrathful monstrosity, and continued to give birth to all unimaginable creatures of horror and power and unfathomable beauty and strangeness, greatest among them Zmejgorynych, Father of All Dragons.

It was not only Finiens itself that was damaged by the aftermaths of this conflict. The very borders of its tiny universe had cracked, crumpled, and split, opening miniscule, distant gaps to the myriad realities beyond its borders. As the sphere of starlight and shadow hurtled its way through an infinity of realities, with its walls now opened to them from those other existences things began to flow into this strange comet of a universe that hurtled along and through and past their borders.

And here they found resonance in the conflicts between the Aspects. Celestial entities of all shapes and ranks - angels, archons, azata, sephiroth, agathion, and more - presented themselves to Arete, pledging their services to the Excellence of Virtue in her war against Evil. The eternal clockwork and perfect calculus of the inevitables and axiomites resonated with Braghain, forming a living bastion of gears and numbers to stem the flow of madness, the Unchanging Infinity at its banner and helm. Devils, demons, kytons, daemons, asura, divs, yugoloths, and innumerable other fiendish evils cavorted and schemed and tempted and betrayed in the brimstone depths before the eyes of Ahriman, and the Malign Seed was pleased and ecstatic with their vileness. The endless songs of proteans and slaadi and the restless battlecries of the valkyries reached the ears of Xaos, and the Ever-Shifter swept himself into the chorus, maestro and performer all at once. And the inexplicable amorality of the aeons and the dutiful dirges of the psychopomps found court before Mazuda, and the Ancient of Days divided them in her service, sending the former to see to the operation of the universe unseen and placed the latter under Ireshkigal’s wings, to see to the process of souls in this new reality.

And souls, indeed, did it all revolve around. For these new servants, soldiers, and seekers demanded souls be delivered as due, as price for their services and loyalties and cooperation. No more would the Matron of the Tombs merely return a soul to life once more after each death; rather, only those so destined for such a rebirth would be given that fate, while others would depart to realms unknown, in which they would in due time join the infinite numbers of the extraplanar throngs.


  1. I note a hint of Melkor's use of Ungoliant in the above, unless I'm mistaken.

  2. I'm afraid you would be, as I've never read the Silmillarion save on Wikipedia, just enough to recognize those names. I've not had much luck with getting through LOTR.

  3. Silmarillion, blargh. Knew I spelled it wrong.