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The Teicna Files 03 - Out With the Old

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    Vespis and Dalensh recovered quickly from the realization that they had accidentally managed to set forces in motion that might one day overshadow them. As beings of motion and change, they were well-equipped to adapt to the situation. Once they fully comprehended the means and implications of Quietu's ascension, they wasted no time in befriending the new arrival and teaching him much the ways of being an immortal.

    Malephesh, staid and set in his ways, was wary of the new arrival, no matter what his siblings said. He enjoyed the level of control he currently held over the world he and his kin had formed, and it pained him greatly to think he might be forced to share that control with a young, once-mortal upstart, not to mention however many more the mortals might generate in the coming centuries.

    Poor Ignis suffered the most from Quietu's arrival, however. She became more reserved around the other gods, something they didn't notice at first, as she was often quite introspective. They through that perhaps she was simply being shy; concerned, perhaps, that her fiery nature could still somehow burn the mortal-born god. In reality, she was wracked with fear. She believed that perhaps her element was affecting her mortal creations after all. Wild and out of control, a creature she had had a hand in creating had transcended its natural boundaries, after all! And if a mere human had the power within him to ascend to divinity, surely more would follow... And once the Four were outnumbered, what could possibly stop them from lashing out and destroying everything the Four had worked so hard to create?

    Once, and only once, she voiced these concerns to her fellows. Vespis and Dalensh waved them aside, pointing out how mild-mannered and benevolent Quietu seemed, as well as his outspoken ambitions to continue to improve the lives of the mortals below. Malephesh, with whom Ignis was the closest, remained quiet. He agreed with the other two - that Quietu was ultimately harmless and perhaps useful as a steward of their creation - but his disdain for what new gods would do to his power holdings had him loath to admit that he was entirely harmless to them.

    And so the goddess kept her worries to herself, even as more new deities sprouted up. From the voron, the ceph, and even at times from the lowly beasts of the world, they arrived with bright eyes and plans to better mortal-kind, sharing Quietu's enthusiasm for meddling more directly with the mortal plane than the Four ever had. It was only a matter of time, Ignis was sure, before some little spark somewhere within one of them set everything ablaze. Visions of the entire world engulfed in fire and destruction, millions of souls devoured by the eternal flames, danced through her mind. They consumed her.

    Vulkram, a dwarven god of the forge, was the final straw. He ascended into the divine plane, beard literally aflame, and the very sight of him triggered something in Ignis' unhinged mind. Where others simply saw another peer, she saw a would-be usurper. She screamed, surprising everyone, and began shouting that the time had come and that he 'signaled the end of us all'. Striking out, the goddess narrowly missed obliterating the poor being at once as the other gods, Vespis and Dalensh among them, leapt to his aid and intercepted her.

    All gods are strong by mortal standards, but Ignis was one of the Elemental Four, the oldest and strongest among them. Had not two of her kin joined in the efforts to cease her attack, she quite likely could have slaughtered the lot of them. As it was, many of the mortal-born gods were still destroyed by her thrashing strikes before her broken form was sent careening down into the mortal plane, its divine essence seemingly snuffed out. And so, just like that, the first of the Four was lost.

    Malephesh, for his part, would almost certainly have joined Ignis in destroying the meddlesome newcomers. However, he watched and waited as her outburst began, and when two of the Four had allied themselves against her, he refrained entirely, powerless to stop her destruction and with no intentions of a full on civil war with his siblings. He allowed these events to play out as they would, not interfering, but when the dust settled, he made his move.

    Enough was enough.

    Looking down upon the world, the earthen god noted that no mortals had yet ascended from the regions of Sur'Dhanza or Trirpazk in the southern hemisphere of the planet. They had been lands he favored from the outset, and as they had not 'betrayed' him, as the northern lands had, he claimed them as his own. Approaching the others while they still mourned their lost and licked their wounds, he declared this land to be his alone, and that any god who attempted to meddle in his affairs would be struck down. His kin were exempt from his retaliation should they not heed this order, but even they would face consequences.

    Naturally, the new gods were not especially happy with this mandate. Unfortunately, when they turned to Vespis and Dalensh for support against his overreaching decree, the elder gods stated that they would not stand in the way of their brother's claims. They had already lost a sister, as well as several of the next generation of gods. They would not escalate another situation to violence. For now, at least, the power-hungry god would be allowed to have his way.

    Centuries passed, the pantheon of mortal-born gods grew yet larger. Malephesh zealously stamped out any signs of ascension within his claimed lands, but magic and new gods both flourished beyond his borders. Eventually, there came a time when Dalensh decided that he had tired of simply watching the mortals from on high, disconnected from both the pleasures and the plights of their world by his own divine nature. He noted that the races of both land and sea had provided many new gods willing to take on the responsibilities of overseeing the oceans and waterways of the world. As far as he could tell, he was no longer needed.

    Molding flesh like clay, as he once had when creating the first sapient creature of the world so long ago, the elemental god of the seas created a mortal shell for himself. An ageless and incredibly hardy vessel, but one still bound by mortal concerns such as hunger, pain, and fatigue. He then inhabited this vessel, trading his divine power for a life as an Immortal wanderer, able to experience the world as his creations did and explore it from their point of view.

    Two of the original Four were now gone.

    Malephesh watched his brother retire from divinity, and he looked out over his domain. It was no longer the carefree hobby it had been at the outset. Overseeing his land had become a constant vigil, seeking out individual souls and crushing them at the slightest sign of divine activity, suppressing the magical energies that suffused the world lest the mortals in his lands begin to tamper with magic themselves and threaten to grow in power... What had once been a project of passion had now left him a bitter, lonely tyrant, and yet he was far too stubborn to admit how consumed by his need for control he had become.

    His end began with the sailing of the first human ships across the vast ocean between the continents of the north and those of the south. Humans seemed intent to spread their ilk across every landscape they could fit a flag on, and the shores of Malephesh's claimed continents were no different. With them they threatened to bring knowledge of magic and of the other gods whose names had been all but forgotten under the stony fist of Malephesh's isolationist rule. This could not stand.

    He approached the others for the first time in centuries, demanding that these damnable humans be kept in line, but the gods unanimously declined. They had long abided by his rules, leaving his vast lands alone, never so much as thinking about crossing the equator into his territory, but the mortals had made no such agreements. As far as they were concerned, all the world was theirs to be colonized and explored, and the gods left the efforts of resisting them up to the inhabitants of the lands they reached. If Malephesh wanted to police that border personally, that was his prerogative and no concern of theirs.

    He bristled with anger at this response. If he had to do it himself, the elder god eventually decided, he would make it abundantly clear that no one was to enter his land. He would do something drastic to ensure that he was left alone, completely in control of his domain, for all time. Reaching his hands into the very foundations of the planet, he poured power into every fiber of his being and tore the entire planet in two.

    In every culture, an earthquake of epic proportions is recorded on this day, and many sea-faring (or -dwelling) species note that the ocean and its currents were irreparably changed as water began to cascade down into the world's very core, threatening to destroy all life on the surface with its cooling even as the waters drained from the seabeds.

    Once more, Malephesh felt fear. In one monumentally selfish, inconceivably thoughtless action, he had doomed the world. Panicking, the god attempted to grasp the halves of the planet and force them back together, only to find he lacked the strength to reverse his feat. It was here, as he struggled to undo the greatest cataclysm that Teicna had ever seen - or likely ever would see again - that the other gods arrived to see what he had wrought.

    There was no time for judgement or scolding or moralizing. The world was at risk, and it needed saving before any blame could be passed. It took the combined efforts of the entire divine plane to halt the halves of the world from drifting apart into space, where they would have undoubtedly been rendered lifeless in short order. Once that imminent danger was dealt with, there remained two more. Powerful energy fields were formed to keep the molten core intact and able to maintain the mass and magnetic properties of the planet, despite being left dangling between the planet's hemispheres. Meanwhile, rifts in reality were torn in rings around it, allowing the immense volumes of water pouring down from the oceans above to drain harmlessly out of existence rather than douse the vulnerable blob of molten matter.

    This left only the swiftly-draining oceans themselves as a remaining threat to the welfare of the planet. Attempts were made to create divine sources of water, like godly spigots in the sky, to endlessly work to refill the shattered sea basin, but while the theory was sound - or as sound as anything could be in a situation like this - even the gathered strength of Vespis and the new gods was not enough to provide the sheer amount of water needed. All hope was seemingly lost. The world's structural integrity had been barely maintained, but instead it was doomed to be drained dry.

    Some say that Malephesh had a change of heart at this point, proclaiming the selfishness of his terrible actions in his final moments. Others claim that it was purely a stubborn refusal to allow his creation to perish that forced his hand. The gods surely know, but they refuse to speak of it. Whatever the reason, the divine plane was rocked with energy as the Elemental god of earth ceased to be. He imparted the last of his power into the harebrained scheme the others had devised, fueling the magics being used to refill the oceans and boosting them in size and number just enough to match the pace of what was pouring into the crevasse between the hemispheres. With this final effort, the world was saved, but it had been forever changed. It would be more than six centuries before the peoples of the North would have even the faintest hope of making contact with those of the South.

    Now alone, Vespis, the last of the Elemental gods, still roams Teicna. For a time, she quietly moved about, cleaning up the remainder of the mess Malephesh had made of the equator. Once that work was done, she seemingly disappeared entirely. Qoatl priests maintain that she is still present on the divine plane, and curious seers under other gods have supported this claim, but she appears rarely and has seemingly ceased to interact directly with the world she helped to create. The world belongs to the mortal-borns, now, for better or for worse.
Next: The Teicna Files 04 - Demons: The Unwanted

Previous: The Teicna Files 02 - A New Breed

Probably the only bits of these stories so far I actually had fully written prior to starting this series, it's the answer to what happened to the old gods! Not that we'd touched on anything that explained that they weren't extant in the world in the first place, but it's big stuff that's important to the setting, so... there.

As for the next entry, I'll be polling some friends to see what I'll be writing about next time, but if you happen to have an opinion on the matter, feel free to leave a comment! There are all sorts of races, historical events, systems, and so on still left to cover...
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