Group Info Group Founded 13 Years ago 1,641 Members
76,896 Pageviews1,284 Watchers

Group Info

This group is open to all those who enjoy creating or viewing originally created alien species and characters! If you have crafted together a species or character of extraterrestrial form from your imagination, this is the place to go!

Please be sure to read our rules thoroughly before joining! We have restrictions on Too Human/Too Animal/Too Furry designs that should be noted! Fan art is not accepted.

:bulletgreen::bulletgreen: OUR RULES CAN BE READ HERE :bulletgreen::bulletgreen:
Founded 13 Years ago
Feb 5, 2010


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1,641 Members
1,284 Watchers
76,896 Pageviews

Gallery Folders

Sephema Gif by DEVOIDbox
Delirium Saga - The Blue Prawn by BananaScholar
Amaryllis and her music by OriginaIOdyssey
Zodie's Bikini Try-On by EpicFrick
Adrex Trans Watercolor Portrait by Unialien
Iodestre Emalidon 20220721 by JCRGame
Iodestre Emalidon Critters 20220714 by JCRGame
Iodestre Emalidon 20220713 by JCRGame
Mixed Media
Rtzvi by F-Shearwater
can you feel the sun? by Kathaja
stalking around, making no sound.. by Kathaja
Still staring, hm? by Kathaja
Species Profile: The Chara and VaugerKey Features: The Chara and Vauger are entirely separate species that have converged as they have evolved over time. The Chara are effectively asexual beings that can completely reproduce on their own. Their own seminal fluid is stored in their head, which can be dropped into their own womb that is effectively a large sac that droops from the back of their head. There, a near genetic duplicate is created, and it is possible to create multiple children there. However, their method of birth is exclusively based upon their child's weight, which eventually tears the sac off of their head, so if there are multiple children involved they have to make sure they have enough time to develop. Sometimes, people work paid jobs to carry a "pregnant" Chara's sac behind them if they choose. However, more importantly, when the sac is torn off, the parents' brain is pulled out with it, killing the parent. This is their most defining trait, since a freshly born Chara is naturally inclined to eat their parent's brain, and they then adapt their parent's memories and traits into their own brain, making them practically identical to their parent in a younger body. Obviously, it takes some time for things to fully settle in a new body, and some memories and traits may be lost in the transaction, but it is generally safe to do so. However, if something happens to the child such that they can't eat their parent's brain, then they don't gain anything and have to be raised like a normal child. This is avoided as much as possible, although other species like the Vauger and Onesis-Meaga have to be raised as normal anyway. Because they can very easily pass their knowledge down the generations, Chara are revered for their intelligence more so than anything else, and to the point where Chara who were not able to eat their parent's brain, called "Ylly," are downtrodden in their society. They actually have 5 brains in total: one in their head, and the rest in each of their lower limbs. Aside from their head brain, they are expected to cover their lower limbs with clothing because showing those parts often is seen as boasting their intelligence. Also, because their neurons rely on electric signals all throughout their body instead of both electric and chemical ones, their skin glows as they think. Chara who possess the knowledge of many past generations glow by default, and Ylly Chara do not glow at all for many generations.Their names are also based on variations of their past names. After a few generations, they might choose to alter one of the parts of their names, so they at least have some connection to their line. Also, if a child is Ylly, that word will be inserted into their name. For example, "Ellesque" gets translated to "Yllyesque." If they do not know who the parents of an Ylly child is, they will be named "Yllyia." Despite being a fully developed species, they aren't actually at the top of the food chain. The Pterotaum, despite still being considered animals and not people, still regularly and specifically hunt Chara to eat them. Chara are usually safe in cities, but since they are so swift in the kill, a lone Chara is basically already dead if alone in Pterotaum territory.The language they use is written in very visually-oriented symbols, where the "letters" frequently represent what the words define. Words like adjectives are represented by little markings attached to the word they alter.Appearance: The Chara are pure white and hairless, and are bipedal with hooves, long necks, and very prominent hip bones as their rib cage is actually located on the lower half of their torso. Also, their lungs are in their thighs, which helps pumping air when they run. Their womb is mostly just round and floppy. Their womb, neck, and lower limbs are all covered in thick veins that protrude their skin. While they cover their lower limbs for reasons mentioned above, they also always cover their neck and womb because they look similar (and partially because it's kind of uncomfortable to look at). They also have a few dark black stripes on their hips and under their eyes. The Vauger are slightly different visually, but function more like an average being with less complex features. Chara are often pretty soft and frail, but Vauger are much more muscular and battle-ready. For one, they have fingernail-like blades that extend from their lower arms. They are very effective for killing, especially when sharpened correctly, but if they ever break off they cannot fully regrow. Usually, if a Vauger is actually intending to fight on the regular, they wear metal gauntlets with similarly styled, but much more effective and durable, metal blades. Apart from that, their jaw is mostly outside of their skin, and is split into two door-like parts that they open to eat and talk. Another major difference is that the Vauger actually need to eat. Due to a thick, nutritious atmosphere, and due to the fact that they eat their parents' highly nutritious brains, the Chara have "unevolved" the ability to process solid food, and solely rely on liquids to survive. The Vauger, of course, do still need to eat, and the actual action is seen as disgusting and socially unacceptable to the Chara (most likely because they are still eaten by the Pterotaum), so they eat in enclosed spaces separate from the Chara. If a Chara is accompanying a Vauger to a restaurant of some kind, there is usually some sort of parlor for them to stay in the meantime. Ultimately, what ties the Vauger to the Chara is that they need the Chara to reproduce. While Chara can reproduce on their own, Vauger do have to have sex with a Chara to create a Vauger child. In the process, both the Chara's and Vauger's fluid is inserted into the womb, meaning both a Chara and Vauger child will be born at the same time. This is most likely why they look so similar despite being separate species.Appearance: The Vauger also have white (non-glowing) skin, hooves, and all. They adapted similar clothing requirements to the Chara due to their prolonged exposure to each other, even though they really don't need to cover anything at all.History: The Charan religion still plays a major role in their society. It revolves around Zeamere O' Zantes, a God of Light who was made entirely of spheres, and who created a primitive, perfect world and universe encased entirely by his light. However, from within the world, a being of darkness accumulated named Atanebra, and once it grew enough it destroyed the planet and attacked Zeamere, encasing him in darkness, preventing his light from shining everywhere. The remains of the planet were said to be the same event as the Big Bang, and most of the features of the universe are explained as weapons in a war between light and darkness. For example, stars are the weapons of Zeamere, and black holes are the weapons of Atanebra. In general, the Chara, being bioluminescent, suggest that they are basically missionaries for Zeamere, and try as much as they can to dispel the darkness during night time and such to help him out. This is why Ylly Chara are seen as lesser in society, since the religious types assume they are corrupted by darkness, as opposed to species like the Vauger which do not make light by default. Early in their civilization, they were fully nomadic, as the day/night cycle of their planet was slow enough that they could permanently reside in the day time if they moved frequently enough. Some different sects criticized those who tried to stay in the day since they thought they were supposed to fight against the night, but either way, once they saw the Onesis-Meaga setting up stationary civilizations, many started living with them and even started building their own stationary settlements, which became the norm, although some still live as nomads. Most importantly in the grand scheme of the universe, the Zenc saw from afar that they were progressing relatively slowly as a civilization, which they assumed was because of them being hunted, and adopting mentalities that made them more passive and acceptant of their current state, making them not long as much for invention. So, they decided to visit them and lend them some of their advanced technology. Aside from the expected backlash, they were accepted pretty wholeheartedly, and became a major part of their society. They even started to use their clothing, which involved dark metal plating and colorful and stylized artificial wool and hair. The metal portions were especially helpful in protecting against the Pterotaum, and since they are actually quite flexible when no pressure is applied to them, were still very comfortable otherwise. The problem was that other species, including some of the Zenc, started to believe that the Zenc influenced them too much, which was slowly erasing their own culture. Because of this debate, they introduced the widespread "Introduction Age" law that required developing species to be left alone until they progress far enough, so they aren't overridden with another species. Once the Gods reappeared in the universe and their religion was dying down, they were shocked to realize that the true God of Light was extremely similar looking to Zeamere O' Zantes. They were then disappointed to realize the true God of Light only based their physical appearance off of the figure, since they don't have defined forms to begin with.Conception: The Chara and Vauger are one of my oldest ideas. The first idea was actually a kind of Pokemon Fanfiction I was thinking about, where the main character, whose name was Chara, was a Lopunny, and her Gallade love interest was named Vauger. I don't remember exactly what the story involving these specific forms was, but I eventually realized it'd be much more fun if I tried telling whatever story I had with my own, original Pokemon species instead. The idea for what I then called the "Shiraph" (mostly derived from "shine," but later realized the modern design could also represent how they have long necks like a Giraffe. I'm also creating a new, more overtly Pokemon-like species named this, where I literally make them a shining giraffe.) The idea to make them shine came from a remix of the final boss theme from Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers: (Link) The remix sounded very light-themed, and I imagined two characters manipulating light as they danced to the song. I later remade these characters into the Shiraph species, which could then also manipulate light like magic. They looked mostly like a Lopunny with a few different traits, like having separate, more cat-like ears over the parts that flopped behind them like a Lopunny's ears, and had white skin with blue fluff and a metal plate on their torso, as well as similarly colored mittens. You can pretty easily tell how the Chara were influenced by Lopunny if you put the two side by side, even with the modern design. I only remember a later version of the Pokemon version of the Vauger, but they did at least have the arm blades like Gallade, even though they resemble a Zangoose a lot more as they went on… Anyway, the story for the new version of all this involved three Dark beings, one of which was the early version of both the character of Pterotaum and the Pterotaum species, and another being an early form of The Gaseous Beast and the Muteox species. The third was some strange bag-monster made of patchwork, and had multiple toothy mouths. Anyway, the trio attacked the main Shiraph's village, still named Chara, and she then got together with the Poke-Vauger still named Vauger to defeat them. It was a pretty basic idea, and the Vauger character was super superficial, only existing as a hot, edgy love interest for Chara. There were other characters of course, another being this little rat guy with an afro and sunglasses who was supposed to be more like a comic relief sidekick to them, which eventually, through LOTS of redesigning, became the Zenc. After I realized that story kinda sucked, I thought it'd be much more fun and more universally appealing to make these Pokemon full alien species. The first iteration of the Chara species ended up being super goat-like, and the Vauger looked somewhat mole-like, but thankfully I backpedaled on that and made them look cute/cool respectively again. However, I thought that that specific Chara design looked TOO cute, and not necessarily alien enough, so I redesigned them again to look more interesting. The Vauger just followed suit, since I was much more satisfied with them, and just needed to match their proportions a bit more. In general, it does seem pretty obvious that the Chara and Vauger are meant to seem like females and males of the same species, even though they literally aren't, with the Chara being more feminine and frail and the Vauger being more masculine and battle-ready, even though it would then make their society generally a Matriarchy. It wasn't entirely intentional aside from the species being based off of gendered characters, but I can at least use it for symbolism in the story focusing around Yllyia.
Zigriel's Testament. Chapter VI.Chapter VI – “Apotheosis”& 6.1Light.The light whirled around for a long time.And C'Ran No-Tar – the seeker of answers – swept decisively through its dazzling veil.Thick, almost liquid, it entwined her, hiding everything behind – colors, shapes, and even time itself were seemingly absorbed by it. Although some vague images still broke through the curtain.Old, abandoned buildings.Empty, deserted halls.Orphaned relics forsaken by all for a very long time.And the long-awaited Answer – right at the very core.~ ~ ~When the light died down, C'Ran was standing in a middle of a square.A wide, empty square, covered lavishly in shimmering fractals and columns – placed in an utterly chaotic, but surprisingly harmonious patterns! It was all carved of black marble, and the tiny blue inclusions on its surface emitted a pleasant azure glow.A black dome above was dotted with white lights, creating the illusion of sky, with the shining crystal lantern right in its center symbolizing the celestial body. Although its light had long faded, plunging the hollow below into the eternal twilights.And slowly walking to the very edge of the platform, C'Ran finally saw how grandiose the Grand Archives were in truth!For from all the edges, the central square was abruptly cut off with the steep slopes – providing the magnificent view on the literal kilometers of an endless, silvery sea.Boundless expanses of reflective, mercury-like fluid were stretching into a distance, converging with the dome somewhere far away. And countless isles and towers were rising from under its surface, shining with their blue lights, spires and the intricate webs of bridges. Once upon a time, these mighty vaults were full of untold knowledge – ancient chronicles, works of scholars, fabled legends. But that was all in the past – for now, they have all been empty for a long, long time…And then, the heart-shaped entity suddenly soared from behind the sheer cliff.And waving one of its thin, dangling vessels, it stated:"Let’s go."Hearing this, C'Ran took a couple of hesitant steps toward the cliff. But this uncertainty was quickly dispelled, for as soon as she approached the edge, a staircase of gray runic stones immediately started to form right under her feet.And it was leading downward – to the coastline right at the base of a slope."You are seeking the answers, didn't you?" the creature asked."Kinda", C'Ran shrugged off. "But to be honest, most of the answers are already found. So now, I’m quite more concerned about something different. The fate of this very world!""Yes, I can see what you mean. I thought the same when I woke up. However, after gaining the full access to the Archives data, I have realized that at least one question still remains! The final element of all the mosaic that managed to form around the center of the world over these past eons! Firstly, it must be uncovered – and only then the world’s destine can be revealed!"And so, having traversed the last stair, the traveler stepped onto the surface of the ash-gray, silvery sand, strewing the coastline of the mercurial sea.And stretching their vein forward, her Guide pointed to a wide cavern, stretching into the depth of the slope. Its opening gaped before them about twenty steps away, partially obscured by a large hill of sand. And from inside of it – a soft blue glow, so specific to this place, was flowing."Here", Guide said.And in a slow pace, both of them approached the cave, bypassing dozens of tilted obelisks and boulders that dotted almost the entire coast. And as soon as they climbed over the hill – the source of this light appeared fight before them. A truly mesmerizing sight!It was a river.A small river made entirely of azure, crystal clear luminescent liquid.Beginning somewhere in the depths of the cave, it gracefully meandered between stone rapids and rocks, fell staring into a mercury sea – and split into dozens of branching blue streams that dispersed across the shiny surface.The bottom of it – like the inside of a geode – was covered with countless azure minerals, and hundreds of small blue lights were circling above it, like the ghostly fireflies."This liquid, when solidified, can form crystals capable of storing information", Guide pointed out. "Once upon a time, it was they that contained the secrets of in this wondrous place. However, the ritual that gave birth to Atheus melted them all – so now this wondrous place is useless. Or, should I say… almost useless!"And with these words, the heart-shaped being flied towards the grotto – and with a slight wave of the vessel told C’Ran to follow them inside.~ ~ ~Wandering through the cave, these two guests contemplated the countless pictures engraved in the stone vaults.Pictures of the colossal Stellar Ark, rushing from the far edge of the Assembly forward – to its very core!Pictures of tall, many-armed creatures with wide wings and six eyes, leaning before the gargantuan Machine!Pictures of the monumental Network’s servers, hanging over the cheering crowds of motley creatures from the distant realms!And finally, carved in a completely different style – a picture of a certain winged being with one eye, raising its massive pincers and tentacles toward the sky – and praising the appearance of a Holy Sigil! The symbol marked the coming of the New Era. The era that shouldn't have been ever begun…"This!" Guide said.And flying a little to the side, they pointed to the pedestal, visible at the very end of the cave. End, which – upon inspection – was noticeably wider than the rest of a passage. It gave the impression of a small hall – with the pedestal standing right in the center. In a way, it even resembled a kind of an altar.And final, triumphantly, with a cautious and slow gait, C'Ran approached the cherished monument. The cradle of a long awaited Answer!And bending over it, she saw it!With every single one of her eyes…~ ~ ~And one must say, the answer was pretty small.Slightly larger than the palm, to be more precise. Its shape was slightly elongated – somewhat resembling a seed of an egg – and the patterns of dark blue dots were flowing over its matte black surface, reminiscent of a starry sky in a quiet night."Um, okay. So… what is that thing?" C'Ran asked with a slight confusion."This is the core of the Gatekeeper. Or rather, it is what remained on it.""Gatekeeper? Like, the one that I’m thinking about?""Yes, exactly that one. As soon as they saw Rethrionn, they immediately understood what would happen if the seeker discovers the truth. Realized how many troubles someone with such an overblown ego could cause by taking over the remains of a deity – and so they didn’t let them in, continuing to fulfill their sacred duty.""But Rethrionn got inside anyway?""Yes. And to prevent the impending disaster, the Gatekeeper decided to take the last resort, not so different from the one taken by their own creator. An ultimate self-sacrifice! And so as you see, the Gatekeeper is no longer – but instead, there is this relic! However, what exactly this relic does, you – should I say – may not find very satisfying…""It doesn’t matter! We came here for the truth, don’t you remember? So come on! Tell me everything about it without caring for my feelings or beliefs!"And in a rolling up their single eye regrettable manner, the Guide dutifully announced:"This is a second “Intermedium”."~ ~ ~"Um… yeah. Wait, what?!""Yes, exactly. An Intermedium – the same as the one created by Rethrionn, or perhaps even more perfect! So as you see, the situation is rather unfortunate. We have come all the way here in order to stop Rethrionn from taking the remains – but it turns out that the only way to prevent it from happening is to take them ourselves!""But it sounds so… wrong!" C’Ran answered."Yes, I understand. But look on this the other way. You and I know what a real ruler must be, do you remember! The mentor! The one others should strive for! We are still true to the teachings of the Founders, so maybe – we shall make it after all? Make a version of Atheus that would please every single one in this damned universe! Although… would it make us any different from our foe?"C'Ran kept silent.An oppressive tension hung in air. And carefully picking up the relic from the altar, she gazed with a thoughtful look upon its stellar overflows."hat’s a tough question… – she said, without looking away. – I think we should discuss it with someone a bit more competent then us. At least with Swerglum, for a start…""Um… whom?""Ah, yeah, of course – you was still unborn as we met. They are… well, let me better show them to you than tell."And with these words, C'Ran pulled an ornate pendant with an arcane symbol – the emblem of the Train God – from her belt. And putting the tip of the claw on its surface, she whispered a few unintelligible words.A muffled click had erupted.Then – the lingering rumble.And absolutely nothing more!"Ah, yes!" the Guide suddenly startled. "This Archives are protected by a field that prevents any wormhole formations. But if you're going to get us out of here, I could turn it off for a second. Is it worth it?""Yeah, let's quickly try", C’Ran waved her hand, still pondering over the findings.And nodding in understanding, the heart-shaped creature stretched a few arteries towards the altar. With the thinnest capillaries, they branched over its surface – and with invisible fibers pierced somewhere deep inside! To the vital systems of a building itself.There was a thin noise, indicating the successful field shutdown.But then – something had suddenly flinched…And the very fabric of space itself had suddenly fluttered above the pedestal!As if something fierce and unstoppable, scraping here incessantly for a long time, finally smelled the long-awaited weakness!And with desperate terror realizing what was just done, both C'Ran and the Guide began to silently behold how a gaping tear in a very space began to rapidly burst right before their eyes…& 6.2First, the invisible force of a tear snatched the Guide – pulling them somewhere into the realms beyond!Then in a single blow it disarmed the traveler, devouring all the ammunition and throwing her to the ground. A feeling was far from pleasant – as her bones had not yet completely regenerated from a kilometer-long fall…And only then – convinced of their reliable safety – a strange figure had slowly emerged from the undulating gap.Its body was all obscured, hidden behind a scarlet robe.The only parts visible were the crimson tentacles, seen under hem in a place of legs. The head was absent – for instead of it, there were also tentacles! Holding, however, some kind of a bone mask with a singular eye in a center – although such falsity made their appearance even more threatening in some unusual way…And stretching its arm from under the mantle – skeletal and jointed – the creature uttered:"Yes, yes! Exactly what I was thinking! Thank you for helping with the gate, lady!"The voice sounded particularly strange and uneven – but the manner of speech was surprisingly calm. Even somewhat… friendly…"You! You’re… you’re them, right?" C'Ran asked a shaky voice."Rethrionn? Yes, it's me, if that's what you mean", the creature shrugged its shoulders."So… so you want to get the second relic, aren’t you? To surely and certainly make your way to your cherished god-hole, yeah?""Huh, how smart of you, lady…"Retrionn chuckled. Or, rather, the fragments of their mask rearranged with a crackle, roughly mimicking a smile. Which – due to the lack of any mouth or brows – turned out completely unconvincing."…and now please – let me take this relic peacefully. For your own good! For the good of all of us! I do not want to fight for it, unless there is no other choice."And clutching the Intermedium to her chest, C'Ran took a few careful steps backward:"First, tell me what your sick plan really is!""Oh, there’s no need to ask such redundant questions. I can see in your eyes that you have already understood it all perfectly clear. A long time ago, an ancient scholar tried to improve the world, but made one huge, terrible mistake on the way. Misinterpreted their final goal…""Yeah…""But here and now, with the help of this thing, I – or maybe even we – can finally fix it! Finish what was started, you know! And make the world what it really deserved to be all along!""But what if we won’t?""Um… can you clarify?""What if we’ll fail? And the new world – the way you see it – will only turn out to be worse? What then?""Oh. Undoubtedly, there is always a risk. But what are your alternatives? Just sit in a corner and renounce any attempts to change anything? But what about progress? Prosperity? Was it not about them that the Founders told so zealously to our predecessors?!""Yes, that's right. We must progress! But this your order – is it a progress? For if you really believed in it, you wouldn’t design a world where everyone’s destiny is dictated by one being! Where all of us are merely someone’s pawns! You may pretend that your god will be different, but it still gonna be one guy at the top, everyone else at the bottom – and no matter how you try, you wouldn’t change that fact! And this will be no progress – only stagnation!""The stagnation is what we have now! And not for a year or two – but the entire billion! Or can't you see? So look! The Capital has turned into a trash heap! The once great lands are devastated! Mighty peoples had long fell and now worship some outright ridicules! It all had begun since the end of the war, and with each millennium – it only gets worse! Understand me, this world begs for a new ruler!""But the ruler shouldn’t be that.""Then I’ll ask it again – what are your alternatives?!""I… I don’t know!""Well. Then, I suppose, this conversation is no longer worth continuing. Alas. I tried to be peaceful."And at the very same moment, the invisible force of a tear grabbed C'Ran, swiftly nailing her to the nearest wall in a crucified pose. And Rethrionn, having thrown off their mantle, slowly and surely began to slither towards the ill-fated altar.And one must say – under the mantle, their appearance was even more bizarre.The chest was a lump of pinkish flesh framed by six massive ribs. Waist was nothing but a bare spine. Four bony "wings" grew from behind the shoulders – a distantly resembling those of the dloraspilians. And four long arms stretched from behind the back – so long that each of them had no less than three elbows in it.In short, it was very clear that Cribros Axian approached their creation with a good taste!And so – raising one of these long, multi-jointed arms over the fallen relic – Rethrionn laid their clawed fingers upon it.And thousands of invisible strings pierced through their body in an instant!Stretching somewhere above!~ ~ ~With an infernal rumble, the mountain began to shake and crumble!The gigantic dome split open, shattering the crystal lantern! And the peaked towers of Diss – hanging over it – began to slowly crack and collapse! And the pale-faced moon – silently looking at all this from its gloomy firmament – crawled away in a smooth motion, revealing a pitch-black hole behind.A gaping, god-shaped hole in a midst of heavens themselves!And grabbing the Intermedium even stronger, Rethrionn triumphantly lifted all their limbs toward it – all eight of them – and the very space around them started to distort!Thick, black, almost liquid darkness suddenly seeped in!And weaving itself around them – Rethronn the Seeker and C'Ran No-Tar alike – it began to twist itself into a raging vortex! An unspeakable whirlwind! A black tunnel, leading straight to the glimmers of alluring shine. And somewhere in the distance – against the background of boundless, bluish overflows – a small, but also such a bright white spot began to dwindle!But then, suddenly – a strange feeling suddenly swept over the wanderer.And turning her gaze upward, she suddenly felt something oddly familiar in this white light. Something she has seen before.Something bright and luminous hanging in the middle of dark, night skies.And only then, it dawned on her!And glancing at Rethrionn from under her brows, she – with a slight, but still noticeable gloating – had quietly whispered:"Oh… you know. Maybe you were right. Perhaps, I just hate all gods for no reason…"Rethrionn look at her side, slightly raising a singular eyebrow."…but at least, I don’t despise trains anymore!"And only at that moment, the seeker had suddenly realized!That during all that tirades, all that pretentious talking – the field was remaining off!And desperately rushing toward the altar, they plunged their claws in it in an attempt to reload the protection – but it was already too late, for the rumble of metal wheels was already heard in a distance!And mere moments after – the piercing hum and thunder had followed!As a long metallic leviathan had broken through the walls of the vault, exhaling the clouds of black steam from its roaring pipes!And trembling from the might of its blazing engines, the already crumbing massif had finally collapsed!& 6.3When C'Ran regained her consciousness, there was no longer any Rethrionn nearby.And there were no archives either.And slowly rising on her elbows from a hard horizontal surface, she was surprised to find herself in a carriage once again. Not a compartment one this time, however. Just a simple car with two rows of seats.The signs of corruption were gone.The lamps shone smoothly, as they should.The muffled clatter of wheels was coming from behind the walls. The black abyss flashed past the windows. And at the one particular window in a front – leaning thoughtfully on the sill and curiously looking at relic – a suspiciously familiar long-armed and long-necked fellow was standing.And it's not like C'Ran knew how to properly distinguish Dloraspilians from each other – but at that very moment she, undoubtedly, recognized them as the familiar priest. Swerglum Centratus. That was their name."I… offer my deepest apologies", they said suddenly, without changing a posture. Only a head on a long neck lifted slightly, turning towards the companion."Apologies?""Yes. That our hopes and my promises turned out to be… a slightly different from what you would prefer. And also for all the inconveniences that arose during the trip. We tried to prevent them – but it looks like something went wrong anyway. Oh, what a shame.""Oh, come on. Don't blame yourself like that. None of us knew what lay beyond that gate. And for the train corruption, I doubt we could foresee that Retrionne had it…""Heh, well… they didn’t.""Ah?""In truth, Rethrionn didn’t try to block the path for you. You see, all the keys that they made were rejected by the gate, so they decided to wait for someone who would finally succeed. The Guardian Yojin was more of a test than an obstacle; the horde just sought you as a nice target to hunt, and the “corruption” you’re speaking about… was actually casted by our own King!"And chuckling in surprise, C'Ran slowly walked toward Swerglum:"Casted it to make sure that this “someone” would never come, right?" she asked."Exactly. When it all began, our King was wise enough to recognize the threat, but not brave enough to face it! Their determination was only sufficient to isolate the city. With a desperate hope that if the problem is enclosed, then it will somehow resolve by itself. Oh, what a naivety…""Yeah. Quite a naive one…"And leaning on the handrail, C'Ran thoughtfully looked into a distance.Only a barren, shadow- shrouded valley was gleaming outside, just as before. However, this time – something huge and bright was shining far away, dispelling its previously pitch-black darkness! As if gigantic solar halo of the purest azure light was casted over half of these black, otherwise lightless skies – and illuminated the other half with its strange, shimmery blue rays!"So, this is how it looks like?" the six-eyed pointed out. "The “Shining” thing…"Dloraspillian silently nodded."Okay. And listen – after all that happened, can I ask you one more immodest question?""Well, you can try", Swerglum replied somewhat confused."So… you see. When we finally met with that Rethrionn guy in the Archives, they say that they don’t want to fight. Their yojin goons, as far as I understood, joined them of their own will. And now you’re telling me that the corruption wasn’t their fault either?""Yeah. So, what’s a question?""Well, you see – all this time I used to think that they were our adversary. But now, I… don't really know anymore. Like, maybe… maybe they weren’t that much of a villain all along?"Sweglum raised their head in a surprise.But almost immediately lowered it back, issuing a quiet, slightly muffled laugh from their facial hole:"Well, I never said they were. I stated it from the very beginning – Rethronn is not evil. They just… came to the wrong conclusions. Wrong conclusions… in regards to gods!""So what are the correct conclusions then? I tried to reason with them – but now I don't even know whether I was right back there…""The correct conclusions, my friend, are that gods are not!"And with a loud echo, these words swept across the cars.And looking closely at C'Ran's – so closely that four small eyes at the bottom of their face became visible – the dloraspilian continued:"From the beginning of times, we used to believe in higher powers governing our fates! Distant and uncontrollable figures. Gods. But in truth, there are no gods! And they never were. There were forces and things much older and more powerful than us, of course, and if someone wants to grovel below them – they can! We will not interfere. But let they know that there are the others! Those who wish to approach the heights rather the tremble before them! Those who believe in the might of reason and passionately desire to achieve what was once seen as divine. And this will, this determination, no one will ever dare to take from them – from us – away! In other words…"Shwerglum paused briefly, and then said:"“All of us have right to right apotheosis!” And these words, my friend – that was the message left by the Founders in a front of their abandoned throne!"~ ~ ~"So can you see now?" the priest asked. "What was the mistake all along? Having created for us such a “god”, before whose greatness we should have trembled, Rethrionn would cut off the path for us to achieve our own greatness! Yes, this world undoubtedly needs new rulers. But these rulers… we must become ourselves!""But what exactly do you propose to do?!""Oh, this is a long and difficult path that cannot be summarized in one sentence. But I can definitely say how this path can be started right now!""And how?"And bowing their head over C'Ran, the dloraspilian replied:"We must rip the Shining out of its nest! And to return what our predecessors carefully collected in their Archives billion years ago back to the people!""But… how exactly?""Well, look!"And stretching their long arm with a clamped Intermedium forward, Swerglum uttered:"This device was created to act as a connector between a corporeal being and the remains of Atheus! However, with the proper skill, this process can actually be reversed!""And pour the Atheus’ essence into someone's body?! But that’s indene! No living being can hold such immense power within! Not even the other “gods”, I bet.""Yes, none of the living right now. However, this does not mean that we are not able to create something that would?""Well, theoretically. But I don’t think it’s achievable in practice!""And on this issue, my friend, we have to finally meet with our organizer!"And rising up their opposite hand, the dloraspilian snapped its seven clawed fingers. Somewhere in the distance, the sound of a disconnected hinge erupted. And the car, having detached itself from the rest of the train, began to rapidly descend in an unknown direction…~ ~ ~As a fiery meteorite, the carriage cut through the dark blue skies, crashing straight into the snow-covered valley. Raising an impressive snow column as it landed.But after a few moments, the white curtain had settled – and feeling it, the car, lying at the bottom of the crater, opened its sliding doors.With a slow step, C'Ran and Swerglum went outside. The blue morning sky was sparkling with auroras and stars, intertwined by the stripes of light. And rare snowflakes flew in the gusts of cold wind.But then right in a front – at the very edge of the newly-farmed crater – the strange figure had silently appeared. Its body was hidden behind a purple robe, engrained with the golden threads, and the face looked like a bone plate with a serrated top – and two narrow, almost vertical blue glowing eyes."C’Ran. Come here", the mysterious stranger said in a resounding, reverberating voice.And looking around apprehensively, C’Ran went forward."Tell me, did my sub-moderator Swerglum already tell you everything?"C'Ran nodded, continuing to approach."Great. Then, I suppose, you perfectly understand why we are all here. A billion years ago, Atheus was conceived in the depths of Creacon! And so to salvage its remains now, we can only do one thing – to harness the creative force that brought it to this world it in a first place once again. We need a Creators’ Machine!""But the Machine is gone! It was destroyed eons ago!""Yes, it’s true. But all things gone can one day come back. The shell of the Machine was almost intact. And the core can be created anew!""Created? But wasn’t it found by the Founders at the world’s heart? A singular and one of a kind relic of genesis?! Or do legends deceive us even this time?"The figure smiles. There was no visible mouth on its face, and it itself was hardly movable – but this grin could still be clearly seen even with the naked eye."Legends tend to deceive. After all, that's why they are called legends, and not facts. Do you want me to tell you how it really was?""Well, surprise me, then! Although after all that happened, I am now unlikely to be surprised at anything…""So listen, then. In the times before creation, the Founders spend eons traveling the world on their Ark, trying to uncover the Greater Truth. And ages of wandering brought them to the core – the true heart of our world, indeed! There, they expected to find something grandiose. A prize that would generously reward their difficult journey. But in the end, they didn’t found anything…"And opening the mantle, the figure turned towards approaching C'Ran. Exposing its intricately ball-jointed, puppet-like body."…at first, they were overwhelmed with great sorrow. But then one of them – Copator Cikronis, the future king of our world – realized the real truth! So hidden, and yet so obvious in retrospect. It’s not the world’s duty to define its inhabitants, but the inhabitants who define their world! And so, having found the sphere as close to the center as possible, the Founders grabbed all the knowledge, all the wisdom they gathered during journey – and erected the Creators’ Machine right in the center of the vacant heart! Building the promised prize by their very own hands! And that means…"The being bent anticipatory over the interlocutor:"…that everyone can create their own Creator’s Machine!"~ ~ ~It was only at that moment that C'Ran realized that creature’s real nature. The glowing eyes, the joints, the lights across its body…It was a drone.A “medium”, as they are usually called.And sharply recoiling, she quickly glanced over the surroundings – for such drones are rarely seen without what’s controls them.And only then she noticed what she managed to ignore during this whole conversation.Namely – four gigantic columns of black metal, weightlessly hovering around the freshly created crater.These were the servers!And slowly turning her gaze to the medium – a marionette controlled through them by the Grand Network itself – she asked:"Are you… really sure?"And the Network replied:"More than sure!"And stretching out its three-fingered, mechanical hand, it proudly pointed to a something looming on the very edge of a horizon.It was a giant, monumental construction, gloriously illuminated by the rays of dawning twin suns. Countless monoliths, pillars, towers and mechanisms made up its titanic shell. Similarly to Diss, this structure was comparable to a mountain. However, in this case, a more appropriate analogy would be a volcano – for at the very top of it, the colossal gaping mouth was blazing with the flames!Although in truth, of course, it was not a mouth at all.It was a furnace!"Well", C'ran said. "If so, then let us begin!"And at that very second, two more mediums appeared from behind the edge of the crater – and one of them, taking the artifact from the Swerglum’s hands, quickly spreading leathery membranes on its elbows, with a single sweep soared into the sky – and swiftly headed towards the gigantic mechanism.Smoothly moving away and waning to the size of a speck, and after a few moments –completely disappearing from a sight.The wanderer and the priest looked at each other in silence.While the remaining mediums just continued to stare at the horizon.And so, small and inconspicuous spot had finally touched the fiery crucible.And gaping, god-shaped hole began to tear open right in the heavens themselves!~ ~ ~Huge, gigantic rupture cut the sky in half, with an indescribable crack sweeping between the rising suns!And raging whirlwind of the blue flames began to appear on the other side!It spun and twisted and raged!But then – it began to descend. Like a mighty tornado reaching to the ground from a thundercloud, this unbridled chthonic mass began to curl into a funnel, rapidly stretching towards the great mechanism!At the same time, something formless and ethereal began to reach back towards it. A kind of golden divine matter, generated by the Machine itself!And so, as soon as these two godly forces converged with each other in the middle of a firmament, spinning in a grotesque dance – the divine matter began to finally take a shape!At first, it was something blurry, unformed.Then – slightly more perceptible and rounded.And only then – something complete. Reminiscent of an amphora. Great, immense vessel, capable of containing the entire god!And so it was that after about a minute, the last grains of the fiery maelstrom finally disappeared into its hidden depths. And the colossal tear – now empty and therefore black – smoothly dispersed across the heavenly canvas. Though, at the very last moment – something small and four-winged managed to fly out of it.And hovering in the air, it looked around the valley with the gaze of its countless white eyes. It hardly understood what was going on right now. So it just silently nodded its fruity head in approval.And the vessel, meanwhile, began to grow pale!Its shade has changed from shiny to matte. The radiance faded. And countless cracks began to creep along its surface – initially just one, but then the second and third…And then – with an unspeakable crash and thunder – it shattered! Disintegrated into the billions and billions of shards!And with a colossal fountain, flickering signs and symbols burst out of it!Scattering across the skies, lit by the warm rays of a twin sunrise!Smoothly settling on the snowy ground! And immediately after– crystallizing!So in a matter of seconds, the entire valley – from the beginning to the very horizon – became dotted with myriads of azure gems, shimmering in a soft morning light.And having moved from their places, all four – the Priest, the Wanderer, the Fallen Angel and the Living Network – descended upon this valley. Contemplating how countless knowledge – gathered by the ancients for the sake of a new, better world – had finally escaped its vicious container after so many years. Returning to their original, untainted form!And picking up handfuls of these shards, the four creatures exchanged the silent glances.Great power, lost in the ages – through their efforts, was finally rediscovered anew!Now, all that remains is to return it to its rightful owners.To walk across the world and present it to people who will finally let the stagnation go – and initiate a completely new, long-awaited era. Like the titan Prometheus from the myths of one old, forgotten, long-extinct race…Truly, there are no gods in this world.And there never was.Only beings endowed with magnificent, extraordinary power.The power that one day – in the coming, unknown eras – we will be able to reach as well!~ ~ ~And the story continued.
Zigriel's Testament. Chapter V.Chapter V – “The final station”& 5.1When Herald regained their consciousness, there was no longer any Sverglum nearby.And there was no platform either.Instead, both of the travelers had suddenly found themselves before the table of some strange, odd-looking, but surprisingly cozy train compartment.There was a glass with a blue, bubbling fluid on said table – emanating a slight pine-like smell – and the view outside the window was only a black, endless void. A small patch of barren, rocky desert was still visible in the rays of light coming through the windows – but everything beyond it was just a complete darkness.There was a small piece of paper, put next to a glass and stating one single line of inscription – “Be cautious on a journey”.And the heart was lying against it, carefully placed right onto the opposite seat – as if it too, alongside with the travelers, was considered an honorable passenger in here!"Yeah", C'Ran said, bringing the glass to her chest and taking a small sip of the peculiar drink. "I don't know about you, but I certainly did not expect such an amusing chapter in our tale!""Yes, I see. Eh, so much exposition in one piece. So… does, it means that we are, like… friends with the Train God now?"C'Ran took a deep breath. With the embarrassed gaze, she glanced somewhere through the window – even though there was literally nothing to look at there:"Seems so…""Huh, what an interesting turn. But to be honest, if you really think about it…"Herald scratched the carapace on their head, quickly glancing around the interior."…this so called “Train God” doesn’t really appear so godlike from the inside.""Ah?""Well, um, how to put it? I mean, like… like this thing was never intended to be a god in first place! To me, it seems like these Dloraspilians just had created a powerful vehicle for their empire – and all that stuff about the servitude to a higher power you told me before was, should I say, pretty exaggerated. In fact – despite the “priest” rank of that guy – they doesn’t even seem to worship it, let alone convert anyone, so… maybe they aren’t as much of the bad guys as you described them to be?""Oh… I dunno. I guess so…"C’Ran awkwardly crossed her arms on a chest. And the expression on her face became such that if she had cheeks, she would definitely puff them out in displeasure."Well", Herald smiled. "Okay, let’s change the topic. For I still want to know one more thing about our journey!""For instance?""That “Zigriel” person! We have mentioned them twice already – and it’s quite obvious that they played a pretty major role in this whole shebang. But considering all the nuances and revelations that had surfaced after our first meeting… maybe there was a bit more story to be told? And their creation Atheus was not as foolish as you’re inclined to believe? Don’t you think?"C'Ran – clearly not expecting such a question – leaned back in surprise. All her eyes quickly glanced over interior – as if trying to switch the topic to something more mundane – but after a couple of seconds, she decided to answer anyway:"Huh, of course I know… Creatures of my kind know Zigriel pretty well. And many others do too. Even before my species was fully integrated with the rest of the Assembly – just after the first contact with an Apostle – they had already managed to seep into our culture as a myth! The Great Fool, the Great Traitor and stuff like that. But their true story is… quite ironic, if you really think about it.""So maybe you’ll tell it, though?""Oh, okay, okay – if you ask…"And taking one more sip of the refreshing pine substance, C'Ran continued:"Do you remember how I told you about the Founders and their contribution to the universe? The Machine? The Grand Network? And how all intelligent life in this world ultimately stems from them – in some way of another.""Yeah, of course.""Nice. So, here’s the thing – in the First Era, when moral laws were not yet written, and the boundaries between good and evil were not fully set – a multitude of cults was arising across the newborn world. Zealously worshiping both the Founders and the elder gods – brought into existence by the careless experimentation with the cosmic forces…""Yeah, clear. No wonder, actually.""But the Founders hated them! To them, they were like shackles, restraining the growth of their beautiful world. Lost souls trapped in lost ideas, whose devotion do dogmas and blind faith stood in the way to the bright and enlightened future! And in order to eradicate such idolatry, they had created something. An entire new species forged for this very purpose. I don't remember its name – but I can say for sure that Abram was among them!""Oh, my! So that’s the irony you talked about…""Exactly! It is said that compared of their stern kin, Zigriel was unusually compassionate. And while their compassion was vital for leading people away from bad believes, it was also it that became their fatal flaw! For despite the good intention, their arrival was often met with violence. The warfare ensued, and salvation had to be delivered not by kindness, but by force! The shrines were demolished, the cultures were erased. A necessary sacrifice in a name of a greater good – but it’s impossible to deny that often, really often, it was pretty much indistinguishable from terror. And for the entirety of the so called Golden Age, this cycle was always repeating! With Zigriel venturing to the spot with the preaching about freedom and solidarity, but returning back covered in blood and ash. Three billion years in a row…"And after taking the third and final sip of the drink, C'Ran added:"And so it happened that Zigriel started to empathize with their enemies a little bit too much. Unknowingly following their way of thinking, they adopted ideas they were supposed to fight against. And eventually – turned the entire world into the very thing they were intended to destroy! A warped worldview born by rampaging emotions. A feeling that is… surprisingly relatable, my friend. But anyway, it's good that at the very end, they had finally realized their great mistake.""Ah, what beautifully tangled tale…""Well, I am a conspirologist after all. I’m all into the tangled tales!""Hmm, yeah. It’s even feels like my head has started jingling from it!"And C'Ran, waving her hand, was already about to answer something – but then suddenly froze, falling completely silent."Hm… strange", she whispered quietly moments after. "It seems like I can hear it too!"And indeed – a strange, unusually high sound was really flowing from somewhere in far away.Companions looked at each other.Almost immediately, they stared at the window – but there was still only a dark, flickering wasteland beyond it. The notorious "Space between railways", perhaps.And the sound, meanwhile, began to increase.Weakly, almost unnoticeably – but to increase nonetheless. And it was no longer even a jingling. Rather, it sounded like something was slowly smashing against an iron sheet or a cauldron. First a blow – and then a long, fading vibration."Hay! Train! What is happening?" C'Ran asked to the train in bewilderment.But the answer was only a silence – either the train didn’t hear her, or it didn’t want to reply. And realizing that it wasn’t worth to wait help from it, the six-eyed turned to Herald:"Well. It looks like we have to check it ourselves."And solemnly handing Herald the heart, she quickly took her energy weapon from the belt, summoned her signature translucent saber – supplemented with an equally translucent shield this time – and carefully opened the sliding compartment door with her last free hand.The hallway was empty. The outer windows showed the same black void, and the doors to all other compartment were tightly locked."Apparently, it comes from the conductor's room!" Herald whispered, pointing slowly in a said direction.And so, both travelers started to carefully creep through the corridor – with the knocking becoming more and more frequent with each of their cautious steps. And loudness of it was increasing drastically!"Wait here! I will check myself!" C'Ran said, taking a couple steps toward the door, smoothly grabbing the handle, turning it – and sharply recoiling back as soon as a lock had clicked.With a piercing creak, the door burst open!And an unspeakable thing flew out, convulsively clutching the floor with its twisted claws!Its body was all wrapped in rags – black scraps of oil-soaked cloth. The only naked parts were arms – all eight of them – which looked more like a crooked, dried-up branches than limbs! And with a sharp, twitching jerk, the creature turned to the side of its rescuer – staring at her with its malformed, insect-like muzzle!"What are you? What do you need from us?!" she replied menacingly, pushing her energy gun forward.But only wheezing something unkind and unintelligible in response, the creature immediately rushed forward, releasing razor claws from tips of its gnarly appendages!Shot!And the oily black goo had splattered across the walls. While the headless body, having collapsed to the floor, immediately started to curl up and wriggle, scattering into a thick black steam – the clouds of which instantly spread away through the corners and crevices of the car.And then, the ringing blow was repeated.But this time – from a different door!And then from another! And another…And with a silent gesture telling Herald to stand still and guard the heart at all costs, C'Ran decisively went forward.The first “passenger” was quickly slashed in two – as soon as it peaked though the doorway. The second one, realizing that hesitation was fraught with danger, furiously knocked its sliding door out – and the moments after was smashed by it, as even a door can be a deadly weapon in right hands!But from a third door, something much heavier rushed out. Almost immediately, its huge, bloated body had collapsed on a floor, barely fitting in the corridor with its swollen, shapeless buck! And with a sudden spasm, this pile of rags and flesh released more than a dozen of bone spikes into the enemy – who managed to skillfully deflect them with the ephemeral shield.Suddenly, the rapid lump of guts and cloth burst out from the nearest door – but a well-aimed counterstrike quickly turned it into a helpless heap of an oily dregs! But then, a twitching armless figure appeared from behind it, spitting a sharp jet of fetid acid out from its gnarled mouth!And dodging swiftly, C'Ran fired back! A splash of black slurry had erupted – and nasty, yellowish fluid started to seep from the fallen body, burning though the floor and exposing hundreds of trembling, vein-covered pistons. And rising up for the next blow, the blobby cloth-heap rushed forward – but suddenly tripping over the edge of the hole, it quickly fell down, slipped through the mechanisms onto the sleepers – and immediately disappeared somewhere far behind.And only then – as soon as the hole in the car floor hastily overgrow with metal and closed – the sudden silence had fell."Ehem… so, what have I just saw?" asked Herald after a moment of hesitation.And breathing heavily, C'Ran replied:"I don’t know. These creatures are similar to those in the station – but more… distorted. And evil! Why they attacked us? Do you think it’s Rethrionn’s tricks?""Perhaps. I think, Rethrionn has casted some spell upon them! Like, maybe a corruption of something!""Corruption? Hmmm, sounds like a valid option. Well, at least for the lack of any others…""Yeah. Oh, and one more thing…"Herald looked around nervously."…do you think these creatures were the only ones in here?""Hmm… hardly so. We need to check!"And elongating her sword with a quick movement, C'Ran in a single swing split all the locked doors in halves – but fortunately, the compartments behind them were all completely empty.Looking at each other in silence, both partners quickly examined several of them – but there were still not a single sigh of life in them. Except the dull breathing and rare beats of pulse that sometimes swept along the car and belonged, most likely, to the train itselfAnd so, finding precisely nothing, both travelers had stood in front of a hallway window.There was no longer any desire to go back in a compartment – just as there was no mood for a conversation.So they just stood silently, leaning their elbows on the window railings – and aimlessly contemplated the black, endless void. And the smooth, gray wasteland beneath it, illuminated only by the yellowish light of the car lamps. The very same place where, almost a million years ago, a thing that started this whole story was found…But then, the train slightly twitched!And shuddering in surprise, C'Ran and Herald exchanged glances.The car somewhat tilted. And it became clear that the train began to turn sideways – as if bending around some invisible obstacle.And quickly leaning against the glass – in which, upon closer inspection, trembling tiny veins had appeared – the companions saw something in the distance.The front part of a train, to be more precise. And among the black abyss – among that impenetrable void that surrounded the cars from the outside – it became clear how something was crawling along it!And moreover, it was not even a creature. Or, at least, not a singular creature as such.Instead, it was some fused, shapeless mass, pulsating and swelling tirelessly – and it was spreading across the train from the engine, enveloping car after car!"Damn it! I guess it really is a corruption!" C'Ran growled angrily, pulling back from the handrails.And hastily looking around, she began to sort out the options. And the pulse of the train, meanwhile, began to noticeably increase."So what? Do you have any ideas?" Herald asked."Yes, I think. But only one!""And what is it?!""A tactical retreat! Run!"And quickly grabbing the companion in one hand and heart in the other, C'Ran darted headlong towards the distant vestibule.And having jumped through the doorway – an ominous place between cars, where the darkness and coldness of the abyss was almost seeping in – she continued to advance though a new car!"For now, our goal is to hold out until the train switches back to a material realm!" she explained to her companion, without slowing a pace. "So if we move closer to the tail, then perhaps the corruption will not have enough time to reach us!"And so it was decided – proceed to the train’s end!~ ~ ~The cars were following one after the other.Their corridors stretched, merging into a single, unending tunnel.And the more travelers moved away from the engine, the stranger these cars became.Before they even reached the second dozen, a carriage with sealed hatches instead of doors had appeared. What exactly was behind them was unclear, but the sounds coming from there didn’t inspire much confidence.There was also a car with no windows, which made the movement along it more like venturing through a cavern. With only a feeble light flickering in a distance – just like in those famous near-death dreams.Cars other than compartment ones were also present.There were simple cars with the rows of plain seats.There were commodity ones – and travelers didn't even want to think what exactly was stored in their iron, chain-wrapped containers.There were completely empty metal boxes, with neither cargo, no seats in them – but completely covered in some strange-looking metal outgrowths from the inside.There were cars, coated with incomprehensible circuits and wires. As well as pistons, pipes, gears and other machineries.And in at least one car, the floor and ceiling were all covered with something soft and wriggling. But neither C'Ran nor Herald decided to examine closely what it really was.~ ~ ~And so, the time had come for the final threshold!And having slightly slowed down the pace, the companions stopped at the vestibule behind the last carriage. A simple-looking car with two rows of seats, in the end of which – in the opened far door – the primordial darkness was swirling.And the mystical rails, stretching behind the train, disappeared somewhere in its depths."Curses! We're already at the end – but the train is still in its goddamn train astral! Oh, and why did I thought I was a good idea…"And having already prepared to accurse Dloraspilians and their church with all her might, C’Ran suddenly silenced. Or rather, an unpleasant sound had interrupted her.As if something was breaking through door. A heavy, metal door.Just like the one behind her – at the front end of the penultimate carriage.And apparently, it was exactly the case!"So it caught up with us anyway! Great!" C’Ran growled.And the sound, meanwhile, was becoming even louder! The door began to shake! The black fog started dripping from the threshold – and the walls around it began to blacken, with windows growing dim and covering with black, bulging veins. The intensity of the situation was increasing exponentially!And looking closely at Herald, C'Ran suddenly put her arm and their shoulder – and with a rapid, unexpected swing threw them staring ahead!"Um… was it still a part of up plan?!" they asked dazedly, having flown through the vestibule and crashing down on the floor of the final, outermost car."Yes!" she answered decisively, taking a fighting stance without looking away from the ill-fated door."And what exactly it meant?""It, my friend, means one thing! In a few minutes, the whole train will succumb to a curse. I’ll try to resist it as long as I can – but I’ll not be able to protect you. I dragged you here, hoping to keep you safe, but there is no safety anymore. So while there is still a chance – please, take this and go back! I’ll proceed on my own from now…"And with these words, she suddenly cleaved the precious heart into two halves – which immediately regenerated into a pair of smaller hearts – and with a quick wave threw one of them to her friend!And then – taking out her signature ghostly blade from the belt – she vigorously plunged it right into the joint that connected the cars!A crunch and a howl broke out!A spray of black train blood had sparkled!And the last car, rapidly moving away, quickly disappeared somewhere in the primordial gloom."I hope you find your way home… Herald," C'Ran whispered in a barely audible voice.& 5.2Meanwhile, the door has already loosened completely.And with a furious roar, an inexorable force tore it off the hinges!And the black, slimy mass of beings began to break inward, convulsively twitching with their oily appendages. Claws and tentacles scratched the floor, and the black haze oozing from their swollen bodies made it almost impossible to see them in their full glory.And realizing that it would be not very promising to fight in such an environment, C'Ran took several cautious steps backward.A sudden chill ran down her back – a breeze of the abyss. And throwing a cursory glance to the sides, she suddenly noticed an obscure ladder hanging on the back side of a car.And then, the door burst open completely with a shrill, deafening crunch!And seeing how the avalanche of shapeless figures rushed from behind the threshold, C'Ran immediately grabbed the crossbar – and after a mere moment, she was already on the car’s roof!Freezing chill swept through the skin once more.All the sounds suddenly muffled. The clatter of wheels, the hum of engines, the screams and groans of the grotesque beasts – everything suddenly became somehow faded, dull. As if coming from under a deep column of water. Water…Oh, no – it was no water.It was the dark – the very same thick, almost liquid, viscous darkness that swirled outside the world from time immemorial.A boundless abyss enveloping the universe – and everything that lies beyond. The eternal chaos that swirled there long before the first of the Founders set foot on the lands of Creacon – and will continue to swirl even after the last grain of their legacy will perish in a far future.And feeling with all her being such greatness, such reverent, maddening – but also enchanting horror – C'Ran, full of determination, turned her face toward the exit. To the very end of the train – where that final door was opened.And under a veil of abyss, the strange figures began to climb up.Taking a fighting stance, C'Ran carefully placed the heart-key in her chest mouth. It might have looked silly – but it was the best way to protect it right now! And putting her hand behind her back – and groping for the handle there – she suddenly pulled the translucent blade, and immediately opened it in the form of a spectacular fan!And then – she sharply tore it into the four sabers! One for each hand!Distorted limbs began to reach out from the ulcered windows.And a strange growth, akin to an oily mold, began to sprout from a rusty metal.And contemplating all this – and gripping each of the weapons as tightly as possible – C'Ran in a graceful, cold-blooded dance rushed forward at the railway offspring!The swords had rung!The metal creaked!And the splashes of blood, mixed with steam and sludge, began to sprinkle the rusted roof – and in all this chaos it was no longer even clear where this blood was purple, and where it was oily black.And the train, meanwhile, kept curling and wriggling – like a gigantic snake crawling through the rocky desert in the deepest depths of the world.With the black mist oozing from its slimy, corruption-ridden surface.The figures danced wildly somewhere in the distance!And in a darkness of the abyss above, the phantom images flashed in and out!And so, as soon as among these images – these fleeting, barely perceptible landscapes – the unfriendly, but surprisingly familiar outlines began to take shape – the outlines of pointed towers and monumental palaces, merged together into a mountain-like behemoth – C'Ran had jumped!Rushed down with all the strength she had!And at the same moment, something ethereal picked up her body.And threw it right into the restless swirl of space, where, caught up by invisible currents, it began to bounce from side to side – like a toy in the hands of the unseen forces of the cosmos!And thousands of cosmic fluids suddenly pierced her consciousness, trying to rip it out of the meaty shell, but vainly – for something firmly rooted it there, not allowing it to come out!Perhaps, it was the realization of her goal. Determination. Or maybe a something else entirely! In any case, her mind remained perfectly lucid as she fell. And so, she saw it very clearly when somewhere in the distance – at the very end of the dark whirlwind – the long-awaited land had finally begun to appear…~ ~ ~As a fiery meteorite her body swept over the pointed spiers, harshly landing somewhere in the depths of the city streets.Although, one should say that the streets here would be a pretty inaccurate word.For as soon as C'ran got to her feet – having crawled out from under the rubble and repositioned all her dislocated joints – she almost immediately realized how much this city was unlike any other!It was a majestic, grandiose tangle of the countless arches, towers and colonnades! Endless terraces, balconies and ledges were merged with each other, forming monumental masses, connected together by elaborate bridges! Impeccable bas-reliefs and patterns covered the walls, and gigantic vertical windows loomed ominously – but equally mesmerizing – over the lonely visitor!And speaking of a street – against the background of this entire monumental splendor, stretching upward for literal kilometers, it was more akin to a gorge. A narrow canyon sandwiched between a pair of mighty stone massifs!The faded beams of a fake moon barely reached here through the countless bridges and arcades – so instead of them, the main source of light were lamps. Odd, ornate azure crystal lanterns that radiated a pleasant, equally bluish light – it was amazing how they were still working after all the past millennia!And having removed the key from her mouth, C'Ran slowly – limping on her completely shattered limbs – headed along these lanterns. Toward, as it seemed to her, a certain square, looming in a distance. And an important square indeed, judging by its appearance.But then, suddenly, something bluish and obscure flashed into the field of vision – behind one of the gloomy, gaping windows. Something shapeless and ghostly. Like an unnatural cross between a three-meter cuttlefish and a candle flame!And stopping abruptly, C'Ran looked around with caution.But there were no longer any strange creatures nearby. Neither in window, nor anywhere else!"The fallen angels!" something suddenly croaked from behind.C'Ran turned around. And the huge eyeball suddenly appeared before her.It didn’t seem to be connected to anyone particular. Just and eyeball on a stalk, unexpectedly protruding from a nearby drain. It was about the size of a small melon."Ah? Who are you, anyway?""Who am I? Pfft – it doesn't matter at all! What’s really matter is what I can tell you, lady!""Um. So…'"Here. Listen – the fallen angels! These creatures were wandering around the city for ages. It is said that once upon a time they were the servants of some foolish deity – but I don’t know for sure. So, for a long time they only shambled aimlessly here and there, but recently…"The eye looked around anxiously."…recently one of them behaved really strange! Suddenly froze, rooted to the spot – and stared at the central Archive…"An eye waved in the direction of the square. That very square."…and stood there for about ten minutes, as if listening to someone! And then is suddenly spread his fiery wings – and soared somewhere upward! Despite my firm belief that they had long forgotten how to fly! I have no idea what it could mean or how it can be explained – so I shall only say you one thing! Try not to stay here too long! And be on the lookout – something’s clearly going on in here…"And with these words, the eye creature disappeared, being sucked back into the sewer grate.And C'Ran – heeding its words – went forward as fast as possible, tightly gripping the key.And so, seconds later, the gate appeared right before her!A gigantic, many-meters-tall gate, imprinted into a colossal tower of black onyx – the heart of the city, to which all other structures were adjoined in one way or another. The Grand Archives! The former repository for all the secret knowledge of the world, and at the same time – the cradle of this world’s greatest mistake.Right in front of the gate, there was a pedestal.Or rather, the urn laid on a stand. And among the ashes filling that urn, it was possible – albeit with great difficulty – to make out the outlines of a cracked, scorched skull. A skull, the features of which were quite unusual – as it was connected to a long, curved neck, had only a huge eye socket for a face and was framed by four thin, crab-like appendages.But C'Ran was not interested in these remains.And so, unceremoniously bypassing them, she approached the threshold of the alluring, long-awaited gate!Carved reliefs and ingenious ornaments spread over its surface, with their mere sight evoking thoughts of something high and eternal. But C'Ran was not interested in that either – for what she needed was behind the gate right here and right now!And so, clutching the key with all her claws – she vigorously plunged it into its very center!A place where all bas-relief patterns were converged.And emitting a lingering, visceral – but also such a bewitching groan – the heart made its first beat. Pulsating veins began to grow across the metal, permeating all its patterns and niches akin to a wondrous ivy!And then – with a distinct, “chomping” sound – a huge eye had opened on the surface of the heart. And its pupil, narrowing, stared at its creator with a steadfast, unblinking gaze!"Can I go in?" she asked in a cautious voice, struggling to hide her nervousness."I am part of you. Your determination, your aspirations, your ideals – all this is has embodied into me. And if the gates have accepted me, then they will do it for you as well!"And with a dull creak, the doors began to open – and the thick white light began to flow from behind the threshold.Bright, dazzling, almost tangible, it began to stretch out its tendrils. Long, wriggling pseudopodia. And enveloping their guest with an unbridled embrace, they swiftly pulled her somewhere deep inside!Straight into the bowels of the Archives…
Zigriel's Testament. Chapter IV.Chapter IV - "Forbidden name"& 4.1"Finally! It seems I have realized!" C’Ran exclaimed."Ah? What? Where? How long have we been here?!""A few weeks, or so. Although you already fell in hibernation somewhere after the first day – so I decided not wake you up. But now, there is finally time for awakening! For here it is. Behold!"And grabbing some tablet with her claws, C'Ran quickly touched a few inconspicuous buttons. A panel lit up – and bizarre floating images flashed a couple centimeters above its shiny surface.Herald looked closer.There was some kind of picture in the center – but due to the abundance of glyphs, runes and notes surrounding it, it was pretty hard to understand what exactly if was supposed to be."Um… okay. So… what is it?"And quickly putting the device aside onto the nearby table – and also sitting on said table as well – C'ran replied:"This, my friend, is a blueprint of a thing that will open the gates straight to the city’s core for us!""City’s… core? Do you really think we should start our investigation there?""Yes, exactly! Here, take a look at this…"And picking up a small, withered notebook with illegible wedge scribbles from the table, C'Ran handed it to the companion."…according to the entries in this diary, the center of Diss is currently sealed, and its gates are locked. But it wasn’t always the case! Apparently, in the past, someone – or something – was responsible for opening it. But now it’s gone! And it seems like the Dloraspilians here – in this very forge – were desperately trying to recreate it…""But, as far as I get, they failed?""Yeah, of course. Moreover, their drafts are all unfinished, and supplies are carelessly abandoned – it looks like they were pretty close to completion, but something unexpected had interrupted their plans! However, fortunately, I still managed to finish their job somehow…"And jumping off the table, C'Ran picked up a pair of weighty smith hammers from a nearby container, lined with the intricate reliefs. And having shoved one of them right in the hands of a comrade, she took a few steps towards the peculiar anvil – the one built straight into a metal vat nearby."…and I think you perfectly understand that all of this is not a trifling matter? Whatever these fiends had found here back then, it is clearly connected with the city center. Otherwise, they definitely wouldn’t aim at such a sophisticated task in order to get in! So if we really want to uncover the truth, we have to complete this very task ourselves!"And turning to the side, C'Ran vigorously pulled one of the massive levers soldered to the base of a vat. With a resounding creak, the entire structure tilted down, splashing some of its brothy contents into a small reservoir just beneath it. And then – in a thin stream – letting it flow onto the anvil itself."Um. And now what?" Herald asked with confusion, twirling an intricate sledgehammer as faint golden flow began to emanate from the slits on its head."Now, hold it tight and hit the broth hard!" C'Ran replied. "There are tiny fragments of Machine built into these hammers! They can channel the force of creation right into raw material – and our job now is to guide its flow. So calm you mind, focus on our goal and hit the sludge as hard as you can – while I’ll take care of shaping the proper image."And furrowing their carapace eyebrows in understanding, Herald nodded silently.And C'Ran nodded in reply.And throwing the sledgehammers on their shoulders, the comrades began to knock them right on the seething fluid!~ ~ ~The sparks had blazed!And the symphony of ancient forces – long concealed and now finally allowed to break free – has erupted to manifest itself into action!And drops of crystalline sweat started to stream down C'Ran's forehead, while long and lilac tongue stretched out from the chest-maw in order to cool its owner like a grotesque, meaty fan! And the Herald's stony shell crackled with a tension!And eventually, the rough, shapeless pile of flesh came out from under the sledgehammers. And having received a disapproving look from six narrowed eyes, it immediately flew straight into the flaming pond. It wasn't good enough…Then the entire attempt was repeated – but the failure again befell the partners.And this went on for hours – unsuccessful piles of meat were discarded in tens, and liters of biomass – in hundreds…But then, the time for the closing spurt has finally come!And the travelers saw how, with each blow, an amorphous yellow mass began to take a proper shape. A shape that, oddly enough, was reminiscent to a heart – and although it became clear only now, it looked exactly like the one depicted in a tablet!At first, individual fibers started to appear!Then the vessels!And only then the entire mass was pulled together and overgrown with epithelium, forming a majestic, almost half-meter-wide heart, in which two bloods – lilac nefrian and greenish custodian – merged into one!"A genuine masterpiece!" C'Ran proclaimed proudly, as she made the final blow, solemnly tossed the hammer aside and triumphantly spread all four arms to the sides!– And that’s after creation life only once or twice in my life!"Great. Then what?" her companion asked slightly less triumphantly.And quickly putting the tablet along with a few other souvenirs behind the belt – and throwing her freshly forged creation on a shoulder – C'Ran looked around.There was a door right next to them.A huge metal door about six meters high – a definite way to the city! But it was locked. Deadly sealed from all the edges. And there was not a single thing around that could be useful to open it – no locks, no levers, no keyholes, nothing.So after firing a couple of futile shots into it from her energy handgun, C'Ran – quietly shrugging her shoulders – headed towards the back door. The one through which the travelers arrived.And so, having traversed a short, wide corridor with rounded vaults, they once again found themselves on the threshold of yet another titanic door, blocked by two mechanical bolts."But now, stop!" C'Ran said suddenly.And pushing slightly surprised Herald back, she slowly approached the threshold with a cautious, almost creeping gait.And straightening to her full height, she – barely reaching it with her full two meters – carefully looked into something resembling a peephole.And suddenly recoiling, she whispered with anger:"Damn it!""What? What happened?""Yojins! They are still there!"And calling her partner to her, C'Ran sharply pointed to the peephole! And having looked into it, Herald saw the strange things.Weird, bulbous formations covered almost the entire cliff. Each of them was at least the size of an average boulder – and numerous twisted, slimy tendrils were creeping from their bottoms all over the cold stone."These are cocoons!" C'Ran explained. "It looks like Yojins decided to hide in them! And judging by those small growths on the tentacles, they had even begun the budding!""And how long are they able to wait like this?""I don’t know for sure. But offhand – at least for the several centuries. Of not millennia. So unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to find another way!"And both partners looked around – but unsurprisingly, there was no obvious other way.And having returned back to the forge hall, they looked around again – but there was still no other way. And although it was technically possible to crawl through some pipes of the smelter, the flame that oozed from them would instantly turn their flesh into nothing but ashes. And far more importantly, it would also damage the key!The front door was very tempting, but all attempts to move it had failed. And apart from it, there were no other accessible passages at all. Even the walls themselves were absolutely unbreakable – it seems like the ancient being were really good at building the strong stuff.The situation seemed hopeless…But it actually wasn’t – for there was still one single hope left!One very pitiful and unpleasant hope…The hope that C'Ran knew about – but really didn't want to resort to it…But there were no alternatives. And so with a dull, heavy sigh, she slowly picked up the thrown hammer, went to one of the smaller vats – and with a single heavy blow turned all its contents into a… something.An unusual-looking pendant of dark, greenish metal – some kind of amulet or medallion. The mysterious symbol was engraved on its side, and a strange chill emanated from its surface.And reluctantly picking it up, the six-eyed came closer to Herald."This thing – its drafts were present on the several pages among those piles. So I decided to recreate it… – she said. – It's… something like a modem. But a prayer modem. A repeater for prayers, so to speak…""Um… what?""With its help, the Dloraspilians seemed to communicate with their god. Or at least, they tried to. And if I did everything right, then we may be able to get in touch with it as well.""Wait a minute. Haven’t you said that…""Yeah, yeah – I still despise this pesky, mischievous deity. But here is the thing – this forge is isolated. Lost among the endless ruins layered on the Capital for countless eons! So even if I do contact with the outside world in some other way, we are still like a needle in a haystack. But this god of theirs – the Train God – will be able to get here nearly instantly along its arcane railways. If they do not lie, of course. So… it is what it is!"And with a gentle, but clearly insincere movement, C’Ran pressed the amulet to the heart – her heart, not the key – and began to mutter something inaudible and muffled.And oddly enough, something actually trembled inside the weird pendant.The partners gazed at each other.The silence fell.And anxiously looking around, they both noticed how things around them began to change.The light of the smelter noticeably dimmed, becoming dull and uneven.The farther corners started to disappear, dissolving into an incomprehensible haze.And somewhere – out there – with a resounding echo, the rumble of heavy iron wheels started to approach – although who knows, maybe it was just another clang of smelter machinery.But then, suddenly, a black fog began creeping across the floor!Not a smoke, but a fog. A dark, space-enveloping brume. It didn’t leave soot, it didn’t smell – it just swirled around tirelessly, surrounding the travelers. And throwing the forged heart back onto her shoulder, C'Ran quickly hugged Herald with one of her free hands.For after a few moments, a gloomy veil entwined them completely.The noise of boiling metal had faded.The feeling of weight had faded.The shapes had faded.And even time itself , seemingly, faded away for a brief moment.And then the sharp, unexpectedly bright light suddenly – with a speed of lighting – had pierced right into their eyeballs!& 4.2Having come to their senses, both C’Ran and Herald had quickly found themselves lying on a floor.And – one must note – on a very refined, polished floor of yellow marble. And quickly making sure that the key was still with her, C'Ran got onto her feet. Her friend, lying right next to her, had immediately followed.And so, straightening up, both travelers immediately relied that there was a building around them.Not a closed vault deep inside a rock, as before, but an actual building – as it was clear by the high windows visible in the side walls. Most of them, however, were hung completely with the scarlet curtains – and these few that were open overlooked only a pitch darkness of the night.The walls in here, just like the floor, were also marble – with no less than a dozen of ornate, exquisitely carved columns adorning them. Along with about the same number – if not more – of delicately crafted lamps, inlaid with the amber crystals.A colossal chandelier with the living, blinking eyes hung under the high vaulted canopy. While beneath it, right in a center of a floor, an altar – or simply a whimsical abstract statue – stood proudly on a pedestal. And all the frescoes and bas-reliefs along the walls were so good, smooth and flawless that one could even want to lick them…And together all of this – coupled with benches in the far corners, where some silent, rag-wrapped shadows sat motionless – made this place look extremely similar to a temple.Although even more so than the temple, it resembled something else.A train station!"Yeah… looks like we arrived at the right address", C'Ran whispered contemptuously.And having taken a few steps, she was about to ask a question to one of the seating shadows – but suddenly, a faint movement somewhere behind caught her attention.The travelers turned around – and their gazes converged on a small balcony, placed right behind them.It hung a few meters from the floor above some elaborate door – probably an exit – and was hidden behind a red translucent veil. Translucent enough to clearly see that there was someone right behind it.And apparently realizing that they were noticed, the creature began to slowly open the curtain, revealing its peculiar appearance.Or rather, not even an appearance as a whole.At first, only two of its thin, three-meter-long arms with seven fingers were revealed, each almost exceeding the length of the rest of the body. Then, there was a broad-shouldered torso with the clawed, two-toed legs, skinless bony wings on the upper loin, and another pair of smaller arms at the base of a long, S-shaped neck.And only then – its face.Although it was only a stretch to call it a face – for in fact, there was only a round, pitch-black hole on its smooth, pale-brownish head."So… who’s that one, then?" Herald whispered in a low voice, backing slightly."That’s one of them!" C'Ran hissed. "The dloraspilians…"And with a sharp, lightning-fast dash, she jumped toward the creature – who had already managed to descend from the balcony – firmly glaring with all her six eyes into its unusual physiognomy."Oh, I bet you didn't expect the visitors, aren’t you?!" she said gloatingly, folding her front arms and clenching two other. "Well, then I hasten to report that we – and especially me – have come here to reserve some answers! And I think you perfectly understand that without them we… will… not… leave!"The creature tilted its head in a surprise:"You're here for rumors, right?" it asked with an indifferent voice.A voice that sounded more like radio interference, mixed with the noises of the crowd – which in some strange and incomprehensible has been forming into the coherent words."Yeah, yeah, exactly!" the six-eyed replied. "And as I see, you are already aware of all the hype that has arisen from that your little… incident! Aren’t you?""Calm! If you want answers, you’ll get them soon. But first, let me clarify one thing. My name is Swerglum Centratus. And I am a railroad priest…""Oh, and what is that supposed to even mean for us?""This means that our church is separated from the state. And, as a consequence – I am not on the king’s side! So curb your ardor, lady – and then we’ll talk…"And with a wave of anticipation, Swerglum went to the nearest bench. And as if sensing their approaching, the shadows there instantly flashed, scattering into black fog – and quickly disappeared somewhere under the ceiling."Please, make yourself comfortable – for now, I'll tell you what had actually happened…"~ ~ ~"So, I assume you two have already heard about the “Shining”?" the dloraspilian asked."Pfft, of course! Whatever this thing is…""And about our millennia-old search, I suppose, you have heard no less?""Yep!""Good, good. But about one thing – I'm more than sure – you two are definitely unaware…"Swerglum folded their longer arms thoughtfully in a front of a face. And somewhere in the depths of its hole, four small, barely visible eyes glanced for a moment."You see. Our sacred searching took a long time. A far longer that you actually think…""And… how much?""A million years or even more. Long enough for our once loyal seekers – one by one – to leave their old ambitions behind. And along with them – their trusted duties. The protracted search has long bored everyone. And only the king remained adamant…"Swerglum paused for a second, casting a quick glance in a windows. But after a moment, they continued the tale:"…and so eventually, on one dark, moonlit night – just like this one – the king closed themself in their personal garden, and from the dust of the earth decided created a perfect seeker that will never give up on their task! A creature that was not a dloraspilian! And neither custodian nor lagomorph. It was not of any living species – it was something completely different! Brand new! Unique! And proud of their work, Cribros Axian gave their creation a purpose! And along with it – a name. A beautiful, noble name. Rethrionn…"A surprisingly familiar word echoed throughout the hall.And the awkward silence fell for a moment."Just as I thought!" Herald whispered quietly.While C'Ran only crossed her arms silently, with a quick nod telling Swerglum to continue the story."And you know what? It worked! For wandering through the Assembly, Rethrionn suddenly turned their gaze to a place that that was thought to be already explored far and wide. The place that is now known as the History Dump! The endless drifting ruins filling the globes close to the world center. And in particular, the closest one!""Wait! Do you mean… Creacon? The Capital?""Well… once, perhaps, it was a capital – but now it is just a trash heap. And wandering through its old, mossy ruins, Rethrionn came across an old city. Or, rather, what remained of it. Wretched remnants that were thought to have nothing to offer. And there, they encountered the ancient being. Generally speaking, ancient beings of all kinds are not uncommon in the Dump. The spawn of lost civilizations, relics of bygone eras – after all, where else could they go if not there? But that particular being was different from the other!""Different? And in what way?""In a way that they, unlike the rest, were still doing their job! They called itself the Gatekeeper – the creation of someone named “Abram”. And the gates that they were keeping led to the some forsaken Archives. And understanding the sheer importance of every, even the most miniscule clue, Rethrionn decided to step in, hoping to find at least some answers in a library of the old god! Therefore, they asked to enter. And received a categorical refusal!""Oh… so that’s how it went.""Yes. The sacred goal – the whole meaning of their very existence – was torn from them right from under their nose. And obviously, Rethronn was not happy with such an answer. A fierce battle ensued, lasting seven days and seven nights in a row, without stopping even for a second – and in the end, Rethrionn had emerged victorious. And by touching the body of a fallen foe, they tore out the memories as a trophy! And then… then they had realized everything…""What? What exactly did they realize?!""Oh, they realize how an ancient fool, wishing to bring others hope, gave birth to Monstrosity, who bound the universe with its shackles – and the Holy War broke out! How no one could defeat the Beast – neither great armies, nor wise kings, nor brave heroes. How foolish Abram, contemplating the burning ruins, repented of what they did – but even they couldn’t destroy they own creation. And so they committed the ultimate sacrifice. As a bodiless consciousness, they burst into the mind of a Monster – and annihilated it from the inside! Leaving behind only an empty husk, that quickly sunk somewhere in deep layers of our world…"And stopping abruptly at the most climactic point, Swerglum froze for a moment, and only then whispered:"Empty, but not dead – for it still holds the glimmers of its former pride and tarnished, almost faded light. And how this faded shining was eventually discovered by us…"& 4.3And the awkward silence fell once again.And this time – even more awkward than the last one. All three creatures looked at each other in a silence. And even the black shadows on the nearby benches – motionless up to this moment – twitched slightly, making a couple of quiet, barely discernible whispers."…after that, the connection with Rethrionn was lost – and quickly curtailing the starting celebrations, Axian urgently sent a team of agents after them. The agents had arrived at the place – but found no one. However, soon – Rethrionn themself returned back to city, carrying a peculiar device in their hands…"And suddenly getting up from the bench, Swerglum walked slowly towards the exit, continuing to speak. The listeners, also jumping to their feet, hurriedly followed."Having greeted the new arrivals, Rethrionn gladly announced that the world would soon enter the New Era! That the device they created from the remains of the Gatekeeper – the "Intermedium", as they called it – will allow us to split the Shining, thereby gaining the power collected by Zigriel in its most original, pristine form! But one of our agents saw through this lie pretty quickly…"And so, approaching the door, the dloraspilian slowly turned the massive handle welded to the pile of gears. The heavy sash opened, emitting deep and resounding creaks – and beyond its threshold, the sheer darkness of night had appeared."They realized that Rethrionn's goal was not a splitting. Understood all the ins and outs of their vicious plan. And seeing no other choice, Rethrionn ripped their soul from the body. This blasphemous action had unleashed the terrible massacre – and the serpentine dwellers of the Dumb, joining Rethrionn in the heat of battle, killed off almost everyone in there! Only one and a half agents were able to return! The first, unfortunately, didn’t provide us with anything useful, but the second – after regenerating – told us the Rethrionn’s plan…"And with a single click of seven fingers, the Dloraspilian turned on the lights. Dozens of lampposts lit up with a yellowish glow – and their rays had illuminated the platform. And taking on a somewhat different, much more sinister look in these rays, Swerglum continued:"Not a splitting, but a revival! The return of Atheus into our world!""W-what?!" C'Ran asked in astonishment, while her face quickly assumed a horrified, if not completely distorted expression. "But… after all that happened? How could anyone sane even think of such a thing? Did your king create them a madman on purpose, or what?!""Oh, if only that was a mere madness – but no! Rethrion is no insane. They just came to the wrong conclusions. Conclusions that they can make Atheus better. That they, unlike Abram, will be certainly able to create a perfect world’s order! To please every single one in this damned universe – and so their Atheus will finally become the very blessing it was intended to be from the very start…"And unexpectedly sharply coming to C'Ran almost up-close – so that she even felt the warmth emanating from their face-hole – Sverglum whispered:"…but the truth is that everyone’s blessing is different. And what some would consider a utopia will become a living nightmare for the others! So there are no doubts – everything will repeat! And the war will overwhelm this world once more! But it doesn't mean there is no hope…""And what we are left to hope for?""A thing that is hidden behind the gates. For the Gatekeeper, fallen and dismembered by Rethrion, did not actually die!"C'Ran tilted her head in confusion:"Uh… let's say. But I kinda don’t grasp the connection…""Oh, just like us, at first. However, very soon everything quickly fell into place. You see, the Gatekeeper had a core. A center, a phylactery of sorts, integrated into the very heart of the Archives! And even though their body was perished, they could regenerate. But they didn’t, and trust me – it clearly means something!""Means something? But what if they just broke or refused? You are not considering these options?""Yes, yes, this is exactly what our King had told us. Realizing their responsibility for everything, they personally led the hunt for Rethrionn – but they also imposed a severe ban on entering the History Dump. Apparently, they thought that re-intrusion was fraught with too much risk. In some ways, they are right, of course, but our church still disagreed with such zealous prohibition. And therefore – we have uploaded the coordinates!""Coordinates? Do you mean – that coordinates?!""Yes, exactly that coordinates! A direct invasion of our forces could indeed lead to unpredictable outcomes – so we had to resort to intermediaries! Even if it was unknowingly on their part. And I swear – I couldn’t even think that a secret alone could be such an alluring goal for so many! Truly, the Founders were right when they said that curiosity is the augur of all progress!""They said that? Ah, nevermind! So… do you mean that we two are not the first here?""Of course. However, not everyone got that far. Some had perished at the very beginning – because of the royal mercenaries. Others fell at the hands of a guardian with a blazing sword. Or became prisoners of the forge. And even those who got here came with nothing. But with you, my friends, I see something that they all didn’t have. Courage! Determination! But most importantly – the key!"And stretching out their long, seven-fingered limb, Sverglum gently touched their claw to the heart, forged in the bowels of the smelter. Their breath quickened, and their upper arms trembled slightly."Oh… in the flesh, it’s even more beautiful than on our blueprints. And I knew! I knew it will come true! Now, we only have one thing left! We just need to get to Diss! You just need to get to the gate! This is now our new sacred goal! And the rest will follow…"And in a joyful outburst, the dloraspilian raised their hands towards the black heavens! With all third appearance foreshadowing that soon, something grandiose will happen…"Hey, hey, wait a minute!" C’Ran interrupted. "But if those two survivors told you about all of this, then how do you know the rest? Like, what was before they came? A weeklong battle? The surviving core? Your agents had no way to find out such details. As well as the fact that there is something beyond that gates at all! You are clearly still keeping something back from us…"Sverglum chuckled:"Heh, you're curious. I appreciate this quality. However, unfortunately – some things for me and my compatriots are better to not be disclosed nevertheless. Instead, how about us helping you with something?"And with these words, the priest, raising one of their longer arms, made a resounding click once again.And at the same moment, somewhere in the distance – among the countless tangled rails, sleepers and high-voltage lines stretching from the platform to the very horizon – something gigantic had moved!A clang of pistons, a hum of engines, a howl and a shrill rumble suddenly swept above the platform!And something metallic rose in the distance – bending over the railway temple! And even though only its outlines were visible in the darkness of the night, it was still possible to make out something in them.Its body was long. Serpentine.Composed from many small, jointed segments, like in a huge worm.And four glowing eyes shined dazzlingly on its motionless face.And only then – combining everything she saw together – C'Ran suddenly and with horror realized what this creature really was.For in truth – it was not a serpent at all.And not even a worm.For it was a gigantic train – lifting its engine above the ground and rearing up, like a cobra!"Do you want us to help you return to the Sacred City?" the priest asked.C'Ran, slightly shivering, slowly nodded in silence."Great! Then, let us begin!"
Grey Roomie: Odd Fellow by Drea000
Original Odyssey PG33 (Episode 1) by OriginaIOdyssey
Original Odyssey PG32 (Episode 1) by OriginaIOdyssey
Grey Roomie: Zen by Drea000
Reference Sheets
Iodestre Kamurani Critters 20220701 by JCRGame
Spade-footed Mukash by characterconsultancy
Mastrs of Cold Crescent. by SaarkelleEliv
acey ref sheet by Punk-Soda
Other Medium
Winterdawn Centaur by Atanata
Christmas Balls Selling by Atanata
From the Rainbow Worlds by Atanata
Selling: Horsling by Atanata
Original Odyssey Alien Watermark by AnonSkrmsher
Peacock Sea Slug by Atanata
Bonus for Creature of a Day N29 by etinflation
Bonus for Creature of a Day N41 by etinflation
Exchanges and Contests
Kaate: Thrill Seeker by animeandrew1
Threech: Alien Art Exchange by Ausp-ice
It's the Fesso Expresso! [SECRET SANTA] by Captain0fHopes

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OriginaIOdyssey Featured By Owner 15 hours ago  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
Does this group have a stance on mature art? I'm afraid I haven't seen anything of it in this group's guidelines ^^;
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