A clockwork world hangs over our heads
It is filled with marvels known only to the dead
Our heroes and deities watch from above
While we play a game of war and love.
The clock tower stood at the center of town, untouched by the age and decay that had long settled over the rest of the world. Four figures looked down over the city, each wishing they could block out the sounds of death that littered the streets, mixing with the grinding and clanking of the machines nearing the end of the workday. Whistles of steam screamed into the night, followed closely by clouds of smoke that dotted the slowly darkening skyline. Cobbled roadways wound through the city, filled with people rushing from the factories to their homes, praying to the heavens that their families were still whole and healthy.
"We should be down there, with the people... Doing what we can to help them."
"And what would you have us do? It's been years since we last walked the vale. They no longer live as only Mage, Warrior, Seer or Peasant. Life has changed."
"So you would have us do nothing to help the people who still exalt us?" The first responded, deep voice resounding through the streets below as thunder.
"I would have you think Kerr, before you act. We are in this, tied to each other's actions. What one of us does to this vale, we must all do." The second, a short woman with dark brown curly hair fired back.
A third figure, large in all ways, stepped between them. His voice soft and low "Stop, before you cause the lands to see quake and storm. We will help them Kerr..." He held up his hand to ward off the woman's protests, "We must, they are our people. But we must plan the actions. To simply step in could put them in harm's way. Something new has awakened and we must first learn what it is." He turned to woman, towering over her, and yet careful to not overpower her. "You must understand Kerr's point of view Aria. His people suffer the brunt of this sickness. They are tied to their homes, while so many of ours are free to roam and try to escape the death that has claimed so many."
The last figure finally joined the other three, a tall woman with short red hair. "We need to understand what it is that's happening to them. There is death everywhere, but what causes it? The merchants have fled at the first sign of its arrival. Ships fill to the brim with the healthy, while the docks are laden with cargo." She paused, eyes filled with a sadness the others knew all too well. "Their cries haunt me, as somehow it follows them across the sea. We've been away from the lands for too long. They may exalt us, but they no longer know us." She moved to look over the edge of the clock tower, "The tree we planted during creation dies with the vale."
The first woman joined her at the buildings edge, "That tree is the center of our world. Our people know it is special and encased it in this tower, hoping to slow its death. The world that we four created out of nothingness. Our people are dying." Her eyes cut over to Kerr's, unspoken words passing between them, and he nodded in understanding at the subtle apology. "The winds hold nothing but the cries of our creation."
As the large man joined the other three, he rested his hand on the smaller man's shoulder. "Our world has lived for a millennia... We will not let it fall."
Masked from the people below, only the lands reactions to heated words and inflamed emotions alerted the city to their presence. An understanding of those signs had long been lost to even the oldest of people.
Angeltana was the first city to rise up out of the four god's creation. It was here that the people were first separated. Here, where the first man rose to become king, the first woman witnessed the future of another and the first child cast a spell. The ancestors of the firsts built palace, school and temple. Around those buildings the city was born, a hub to invention, knowledge and understanding. During the first half of the millennia, the gods walked with their people, teaching them far beyond their primitive beginning. As the people reached a place that on most worlds would have taken thousands of years to reach, the gods spent fewer days among the people, allowing them to now advance on their own.
To most in the first of cities, the bad weather was an afterthought to the death that seemed to walk the streets. So long had it been since they'd laid eyes on their gods, that the people no longer remembered how to open their eyes and truly see their glory. Instead, the nearly empty streets cleared even more, leaving only the homeless or those of a nefarious nature, to roam the desolate back alleys and roadways.
Heads bowed as even those few rushed for whatever cover they could find. In the midst of everything, four lone figures stared up at the center of the city, the hundred-year-old clock tower that many heralded as the center of creation itself. Dark cloaks covered their bodies, leaving them hidden in shadows upon shadows. As one hooded being pulled its gaze away from the deities above, a glint of metal could be seen from under the cowl. The voice that emitted from it seemed somehow mechanical in nature, not fully human.
"Their presence means nothing to us. Our plans have not changed." The other three nodded and together they set off through the city.
Deep into the night, the vale continued to react to the nearness of the four gods. Below them, the cries of the dying filled the darkness, as four shrouded beings traversed the cobbled streets.