Representing an incomplete history of the War of the Child Gods and the Prophecy of the Revenant, who became the Deicide, and eventually became known as the Maker.
-adapted from The Unabridged Tales of Yaran Blackencloak
WHEN THE WORLD of Arioc was new, the planet dwelt in the chill of space in an utter stillness filled with peace and tranquility. One side of the planet bathed in perpetual sunlight. The other wallowed in darkness. Both sides of the planet waited impatiently, for they knew that the peace and tranquility of those early years would not last forever.
Zythra, who would be called ’The Benevolent One’ by his worshippers centuries later, came into his self-awareness on the sunlit side of the planet. He spent many of his early years simply basking in the bright daylight of his home, knowing nothing of the night. One day, however, Zythra realized that he had become lonely over the years, despite the beauty and tranquility of his shining abode. He picked up a simple mound of clay and, admiring his own arms, legs, and so forth, fashioned from that plain, rudimentary matter the very first man. He called that man Aldulan, and Zythra made Aldulan in his exact image. Unfortunately, Aldulan began to experience a loneliness all his own after a while. Soon, he urged Zythra to create other things to keep him company. He begged Zythra to make tall, leafy trees for shade, succulent fruits for sustenance, and all of the other things that would one day come to live and grow on the planet of Arioc. Aldulan, meanwhile, learned from Zythra the powers of the elemental magics and became a great sorcerer and skilled inventor in his own right. In the years that followed, Zythra watched Aldulan grow and live to create his own strange and wonderful devices. During that forgotten time, too, did Zythra create the first race - the Querenthians.
Now it happened that Zythra had a sister. Bazulbax, who would be called ’The Crimson Queen’ by her sectaries centuries later, became aware of herself on the barren side of the planet. She wandered the icy wastes of her desolate home for innumerable years, and eventually became aware of her brother on the other side of the world. At last, she beheld the power of her brother, the power to create life, and became enraptured by the prospect of creating her own flora and fauna. Bazulbax returned to her side of the world and endeavored to create life in her own image. Ultimately, she failed. She soon became resentful of her brother’s power to create life. During the dark years of her jealousy, only the cold of her heart and the anger seething inside of her eternal soul kept her alive. Her lot seemed to be forever tied to the wastes, breathing and sleeping in ice and snow, darkness and desolation.
Of the two fledgling gods, Zythra was by far the more self absorbed, and his Querenthians fed this self-obsession with all of their hearts. They loved him, worshipped him, and offered everything that they could to him. They built temples to him, they chiseled statues for him in his image, and they prostrated themselves and bathed his feet with their grateful tears. Zythra - the Benevolent One - smiled and danced with his children, oblivious to, or unconcerned with, his sister’s abysmal suffering on the other side of the world. The adoration of the Querenthians lifted his heart, and he was content. During that time of happiness, his frenzied creation slowed. He stopped creating new plants and new animals. He stopped making new fruits and new vegetables. Soon, a ravening famine threatened to consume the lighter side of the world.
Finally, a Querenthian named Tauran, the most beautiful of all the Querenthians, came to Zythra’s side. "Oh Zythra," he said, prostrating himself before the god, "our lands are great and our lives are full, but it has been long since you’ve graced us with new creation. Our tables are bare, Zythra, and our cups run dry. Do you not love us like you used to? Do our adorations displease you in some way? Have we not done enough to exalt you?"
Zythra considered Tauran and frowned, his eyes dropping. "I’m so sorry," he said. "I have been neglectful. I will make the clouds in the sky bring you rain to quench your thirst,and I will bring fertility to the soil and seeds to my fruits and vegetables so that you will not know hunger or thirst again!"
Incalculable was Tauran’s joy at the words of Zythra. He raised his face up to the god, tears in his glistening eyes. "Thank you, greatest Zythra. You are our everything."
"Dance, then, for me and my glory," Zythra said. "Hew the trees and build from their boughs the implements of song and merriment. Henceforth," he proclaimed, "this land will spring with life eternal!"
A great celebration began, and Zythra’s heart brimmed with joy as the fields filled with vegetables and the trees swelled with fruit. The grateful Querenthians ate and sang in eternal bliss, and their numbers expanded and spread across the fair face of Arioc. Animals grew in number, too, for there was no dying in Zythra’s domain. Death had yet to be created, and life begat life begat life. Soon, the sunlit realm became overripe with joy, laughter, and happiness. Some of the more inquisitive of Zythra’s creations began to adapt and explore. Traveling further and further away from the sun, they hoped to find more food and more territory.
Now when these creations left Zythra’s side, they left their protector. They found food harder and harder to come by as they left him behind, and the daylight grew darker and darker with every mile that they walked and with every mountain that they traversed. Their bodies began to show the strain of their voyage, their stomachs searing with a ghastly hunger. In the grip of the wretched pain of their famine, the animals longed for release, but none came to them. Their bodies flared and burned with thirst, but nothing could assuage the flames. With a lamenting cry, the animals plodded on, their anguish without any forseeable end.
When at last Zythra’s creations found Bazulbax’s tundra, they were no longer fair. Their suffering had made them gaunt and hideous, the eternal nature of their lives making them able to live long after they should have died. In endless pain, the animals stumbled into the snowy wasteland. They tried to drink from the snows that they discovered there, but found that the ice only made them thirst for something more, a sweet release, although they did not know what form that release might take. All they knew was that the water that they had so long yearned for now tasted more bitter than sand. Often those sad, displaced animals stood in the cold desolation of the world’s darker half, weeping and yearning for home.
The centuries rolled past in the desolate lands of Bazulbax’s realm, and the desiccated animals continued their laborious march, entirely forgotten by their god. At long last, a single fawn came to Bazulbax’s side. Of all the animals that had left Zythra’s domain, this fawn had been the most youthful when its journey had begun. It had little of its youth left now, but the last shred of its strength remained intact. It had left its fellows behind, frozen alive and unable to die, to find something, anything, that could help them in their wretched plight.
"Help me, please! Help us," it said. "We are lost," it whined. "We left our homes and our god," it said. "We should have never left him behind." The fawn cried its lament into the icy air, quaking in the chill of the unending night of Bazulbax’s land.
Bazulbax craned her neck and turned around on her icy roost, considering the fawn that stood before her in the starlight. It appeared as little more than a frail bag of shivering bones to the goddess. "What is this?" she asked grimly, looking into the moaning beast’s watering brown eyes. "What are you? One of my brother’s creations?" she inquired. "What are you doing in my home?"
Bazulbax, the Crimson Queen, rose from her perch to approach the tormented beast. As she drew within reach of its gangly and quivering shape, her body bristled with a sudden power. A yearning ache consumed her, and a voracious, desperate hunger unlike anything that she had ever known filled every immortal part of her. Her fingers twitched with anticipation, and her eyes blazed and burned with untamable ardor.
"I am lost and very frightened," the fawn said. "My friends will not walk any further. They’re swallowed by an unknowable pain that doesn’t seem like it will ever end. Among them, only I can still walk, but I feel like I won’t be able to continue for much longer. I’m so very, very cold, and I have nowhere to go and nothing to eat. I have no place to lay my head and I have no warmth to thaw my bones."
"And you’ve come to me to ask for help, little fawn?" Bazulbax asked. "Or is it something else that you require? Perhaps something entirely different, something entirely foreign to this world as my brother has made it?"
Bazulbax’s heartbeat quickened, knowing suddenly the great reason for her eternal existence, the purpose for which she was put upon Arioc’s blind face in the first place.
The quivering fawn drew closer to the Crimson Queen, begging for her embrace. Its eyes bled tears that froze against its icy fur as it gazed up at her, blinked at her, and exalted her. "Please help me," it said, its wheezing rattle of a voice as sweet and pure as it was tired, cold, and ailing.
Bazulbax heard the sickly noises emanating from the animal’s twisted, cadaverous body and drew back. "Do you really deserve what I can give you?" she asked. "Why shouldn’t you suffer as I have suffered?" she wondered. "Why shouldn’t you freeze here for all time, wishing forever and ever for the simple gift of a sweet, unattainable release?"
She looked into the fawn’s weeping eyes. "I wanted my brother’s love," she said, "once upon a time. I wanted his sunlight to touch my flesh and thaw my bones, and I wanted to help him create life in our image. I wanted him to invite me into the light of his world and to take me and hold me close to his warm breast."
"I’m too tired to return to the light, now," said the fawn. "I don’t think that I’ll ever feel the warmth of Zythra’s embrace again. I’m past that," it said. "I need something else. I think you can give it to me."
"And I think," Bazulbax said, "that you are right." She looked down at her hands. A black ebbing mass swirled around her fingertips, something between a rolling fog and a curling smoke.
"Hold me to your heart," the fawn pleaded. "Take me into your arms!"
Bazulbax approached the fawn, her hands held out before her, and took the poor beast’s head between her fingers. Immediately, she felt her power swell out from her fingertips to surround the fawn’s body, flaring up to consume the little animal in a black, billowing fog that rippled like obsidian flames. Suddenly, the clouded sky above them crawled with spidery lightning. The fawn tried to pull away, but the Crimson Queen’s grip was just too strong. "This is what I’m here for," she said, staring into the fawn’s panicked brown eyes. "What Zythra makes," she said, a wicked rush of power coursing through her immortal veins, "I can destroy."
Cruel time ravaged the fawn in Bazulbax’s grasp, its skin seething with age. With wide and hungry eyes, the goddess watched as the little creature fell to the cold hard ground with a choking shudder. With baited breath, she observed the little animal’s transformation from bones, to dust, and then to nothing at all. When the little thing had blown away completely, torn apart by the sundering cold, Bazulbax stood in the grim frost of her snow blasted land and laughed for a long, long while.
When at last she had muffled her wicked glee, Bazulbax peered off toward the horizon. "Somewhere," she thought, "just over those snowcapped peaks, is a land that knows nothing of darkness. It knows nothing of cold, of sorrow, or of misery." She smiled as the weight of what she had done to the fawn washed over her, bathing her of the listless and lonely sadness of her long and aimless existence. "It knows nothing of death," she said, "but it will."
The Crimson Queen began her walk toward the mountains. Somewhere over the great spires of their peaks, she would find her brother’s shining domain. "I come, brother," she said, "and I bring to you the remedy for your world, so plagued by over-ripened life and inexhaustible hope."
Bazulbax would seek her brother to the very ends of the world, if she had to. That much she knew, for her hate had grown to know no boundaries. She crested the first mountain and peered out at the world, realizing then just how vast the world of Arioc was. For a panicked moment, she feared that she might never be able to find her brother. The world had surely grown and the face of the land had entirely changed since last she had made the trek toward her brother’s lands. The mountains had grown in number, and new seas had bubbled up and broadened. But Bazulbax would not be deterred. She sought for some sign, some landmark, some path that would lead to Zythra, and soon her eyes found a great trail of frozen beasts stuck in the high places of the mountains. The animals, frozen in a never ending, undying line of suffering beasts, stretched from that mountaintop, down the mountainside, through the plains, and all the way back, presumably, to her brother’s shining domain.
"Suffer Zythra’s little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is my kingdom," Bazulbax smiled, "and death is my destiny."
She would follow the trail of Zythra’s suffering little children all the way back to her brother’s side, granting them the sweet release of death even as she walked past them. She would draw strength from them, and they would thank her for their end. "And then," Bazulbax said, "I’ll find my brother. In his shining domain of eternal life, we will have our reckoning. Death will have its day."
In the deep places of his soul, Zythra knew that his sister was coming even before he saw her. Once she arrived, the two gods became enmeshed in a savage battle of wills, and the Querenthians wept in fear as they fought. Bazulbax wept also, although hers were tears of joy, as she was spurred on by her rage and her newfound power, driven by both of these catalysts to introduce death to every corner of Zythra’s shining domain. Zythra, enraged by his sister’s malevolent intervention, pushed her back, endeavoring to exile her to the dark half of the planet forever.
After many years had passed, during which the War of the Gods grew more and more terrifying, the gods inadvertently began the world’s rotation and revolution around the sun, thus bringing the division of days and the turning of seasons to the world. Eternal life and eternal daylight were no more, and death came to all of Zythra’s creations along with the inevitability of the night.
After thousands upon thousands of years of destructive, bloody combat, a great prophet was born. Ultimately, the prophet saw the destructive contest of the gods. The prophet saw the blood, the sorrow, and the suffering inherent in their battle.
At last, the prophet saw that the end to the War of the Gods must come to pass.
This is that prophet’s story.
This is the story of Michael Tearzayne - the Revenant - the Deicide - the Maker.