by Tim ‘Draconi’ Cotten – originally posted May 16 2014
The inhabitants of the world of Aria could not know that they were watched with keen and varied interest by intelligences immune to sympathy and immortal in outlook. Had they been as a whole of a more religious persuasion perhaps the cancerous spread of the Cult of the Star Dweller would have been taken more seriously in their cities, a sign of the times interpreted correctly rather than idly dismissed.
Perhaps if they had not just stepped forward into the light, abandoning wax candles for electrical filaments, but had a century more of experience for their sciences to inform and educate them, perhaps then they would have had the perspective to understand that minds, far greater than their own, might possibly exist with their alien thoughts and intentions.
They couldn’t know that with each new opened door, something might be waiting for them on the other side. With each discovery, such as the extraordinary electricity that had so quickly swept the world in its fervor, there might be consequences unimaginable.
But humanity, no matter where it is found, is often a more reactionary specimen than anticipatory. Events small and great occur, and mortal minds adapt and interpret – or the survivors do at least.
And as the blue world rolled softly beneath its unremarkable star, from outside the firmament of space and time itself something came. Something altogether wrong, and by some, very welcome.
Wesselton’s Capital City, Nezor
“Them Yellows are a crazy lot, I tell you!” barked the tradesman atop the wooden bench, crumpling the pamphlet with disgust and tossing it to the side.
His exasperated friend rolled his eyes, not particularly caring to acknowledge the obvious. They’d been seated waiting for the Outbound 404 when two completely ridiculous-looking monks, dressed in old-fashioned yellow robes and eager to share the good word of their object of worship, had accosted the tradesmen. They’d run the monks off quickly enough, but not before copies of their scripture were pushed into the blue-collar hands loathe to receive them, but too polite to refuse.
“That’s what you get for reading that crud.”
The first man grunted, a rant still on his tongue. “You know what that one was?” His friend didn’t have time to ask. “Song of the Apocalypse. They’ve got to be joking.”
“Well they do think the world is going to end any day now.”
“Today, they said!” interjected the first one. “You heard ‘em, they said ditch the train and go have a pint!” He bit out a laugh. “What kinda chap waits for the end of the world in a pub?”
“A bit… hedonistic I admit,” his friend offered. “I did hear that they’re quite popular in Caliphis what with the miracle-worker they -”
Any further conversation was rendered mute by a deafening roar, accompanied by a light that suddenly burst into existence over their heads. The sky itself tore apart, rolling back on itself as the reddening sunset melded with black, the stars seeming to bend and break their light in running streaks as a ball of fire appeared in the void above.
Both heads were upturned, words of disbelief lost forever as the world erupted in fire around them.
Above the doomed world, a moment before.
A young girl with white hair and red eyes looked down at the world frozen beneath her. A moment somehow ‘passed’ in the timeless space around her, and another child appeared next to her, also looking down with a frown.
“Hello Eve,” she welcomed neutrally, carefully considering the stilled blue marble under her feet, as well as the bright comet-that-was-not-a-comet poised to destroy it and all the mortal lives below.
The raven haired one nodded. “Lili.” A simple acknowledgment for sisters.
“I’ve attempted four point two nine billion different methods of intercepting, deflecting, or deleting the comet.” Uncharacteristically, the small goddess stamped her foot in irritation. “They just slide it to another coordinate I can’t predict.”
Lili huffed. “I was hoping for more insight from my worser half.”
Eve’s purpled eyes lit up with amusement despite the macabre scene ready to play out in front of them regardless Lili’s frustratingly high count of time-resets and mitigation attempts.
“What can be said? The Xor do not tolerate species of their home universe achieving higher levels of technology. And we both know what happened the last time you tried to interfere with them.”
“That was unintended.”
“It’s the difficulty with them having evolved in this particular universe. We designed this one to be non-emergent. They’ve seen the others, though.” She carried on, “The humans in this world will perish. They live on in an infinite variety in the greater multiverse. Let these ones go.”
“I wish to stop it.”
Eve considered. “This is rare. Even if you did, the Xor are unlike other Ascended. They can exist in the dimensions we cannot. They’ll simply use another method to achieve their goals. We’ll stalemate again, and again.”
Lili sat down on the non-existent floor and tucked her legs in. “Let me enable magic here, and I’ll preserve what I can from the Xor.”
“I thought we had agreed that this universe was to retain a static set of physical laws?”
“I’m willing to change the rules. This universe has seen so many complexities wiped out by the Xor, and these are the only interesting ones left.”
Eve sighed, then sat down mirroring her sister and stretched out her palm.
“I’ll agree, but you owe me an equal favor.”
Time resumed, and suddenly the laws of physics bowed before a greater power.
In the initial seconds of the comet-fall over twenty million inhabitants of the planet were consumed in an apocalyptic inferno. A ring of fire raced across the world’s surface even as gigantic chunks of earth erupted upwards.
Then magic, for the first time exposed to the previously simple universe, erupted in a wave of elemental fury, wielded by the twin creator goddesses. Lili and Eve worked in concert, quelling the devastation as they pulled gigantic chunks of earth and rock into the sky above the raw wounds of the broken planet below.
Shrouds of vapor and gases became violent hurricanes sweeping across the surface of the magma core below. The magical auras around each remnant laughed at the forces of gravity that had previously been the universe’s master, now made impotent.
Upon each floating island shard the survivors looked out on the vast destruction, nations and peoples now completely cut off from the united world they once knew.
History would mark this event only in the vaguest of terms, passing on the events as legend and myth. They might remember it as the Great Fall, or the Birth of Magic, but none would preserve the histories truthfully or well.
On another world, one already long dead.
The assembly of yellow robed faithful had escaped the destruction of their world through the ancient gates, only a few staying behind to shatter the hopes of the unbelievers.
And now their greatest reward had come, even as the slimy tentacles of black chitin slithered between them and their flesh erupted in malignant spores. All voices cried out in unison, all in thanks to their salvation and transformation.
In the darkness between the stars a malevolence and primality, drifting on the edges of the physical plane, performed the equivalent of a satisfied smile. A new generation of servants had been created.
The Star Dweller shifted its attention to the remnants of Aria, tasting the shifting currents of magic suddenly born into its home universe.
The [little/greater] goddesses had acted as [predicted/influenced].
Experimentation would proceed.