Dust and Blood
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In the time when The Tree of Knowledge was planted, all things were given form. Even the deep waters of the Darkness Below and the vaults of Darkness Above took shape and form, and many elder gods were born of them. Of these gods, whose names are oft forgotten, there was Khahrahk.

Khahrahk was not great upon his formation: in truth he was small. He crawled around in the darkness of the abyss, but unlike his brothers and sisters, he knew himself and knew the abyss. So blessed and cursed by awareness, he felt pain and loneliness, and looked beyond the depths: but the thought of the light and the shade of the tree pained him more. Existence was pain, and he would have no part of it. It would be better to not exist. It would be better for all things not to exist.

Upon this vow, he consumed his brothers and sisters, and grew strong on their essences. This act, this first sin of Khahrahk, caused him greater pain as he himself grew greater. He grew blind by his pain. So great was his spite and so absolute his hate, that he cursed the Creation and its Creator, and vowed to destroy the Tree and all that it supported in its branches and roots.

He clawed his way up to his throne on the bones of his fellow gods in those dark aeons. Many other gods born of the Darkness Below died in these times, or chose to leave those shadowed realms to work within Creation. Those that remained grew old and powerful, but they were bound in subjugation under Khahrahk.

When there were no more gods to subjugate in the lower realms, Khahrahk declared himself King of the Darkness Below, and took the name Khnith-hgor, and set the boundaries of his kingdom. This kingdom he built to bring utter despair to those who lived among the Tree and its roots and branches, to share his pain with all of Creation as he destroyed it. He diverted many souls to his realm, delivering pain untold upon them as they were stayed from their true rest.

With the borders of his realm set down, the King declared his war. His servants, and there were many, those birthed of the Darkness Below or those that had fallen to the King’s service, surged out of his kingdom, and there was war with Creation. This war continues to this day, and shall not end until the end of all things.

Of the gods the King had subjugated, Sanna was considered to be the wisest and most beautiful. She had not remained in the King’s realm willingly, but her escape had been prevented by circumstance. She obeyed the king with her words, but not with her soul, and for this goodness she is mourned.

With the war declared, the King took Sanna by force, and lay with her for seven days and seven nights, until the Mother of Those Beneath Us was broken beneath the King. When this was completed, he rose in her blood, and was from then on known as Shormaush Urdal - the Scarlet King.

Seven children were born of Sanna, seven daughters of the Scarlet King emerging from her broken womb. The King saw this, and took them by force to be his brides. Upon the seven brides the King put seven seals, so that they might never die as Sanna had died. With them, the King gave rise to seven ranks of abominations, seven orders of Leviathans, who became his most beloved servants, who march at the front of his war.

Of the seven, this can be said:

The first bride was A’tivik. She was beloved of the King, though her children were few. For her loyalty, her children were made wise above all others, and knew well the ways of war. By their hands, they guided the war, and lead to victory.

Her seal was vaduk, “dominion”, for just as she sought dominion, so she was dominated.

The second bride was A’ghor. A great hole was rent in her soul that she could not fill, and so she despaired and wept. She brought forth many children, and her children brought forth armies in a tide unthinking, to go forth and conquer.

Her seal was kifenn, “longing”, for neither the King nor her children could provide what she sought.

The third bride was A’distat. She had a great hatred of her sisters and brought ruin upon all she surveyed, and blasphemed upon sacred ground. Her children ride out to declare the triumph of the King, drowning battlefields in blood and ash, spreading pestilence and fear in their wake.

Her seal was hezhum, “desolation”, for she was wiped bare, and the furrows of her soul were salted.

The fourth bride was A’zieb. She was vast and powerful, and terrible to behold, taking the form of a great beast. Her children were like her, and feared no weapon nor magical spell, for their injuries were healed, and their hides impenetrable.

Her seal was ba, “wrath”, for by her hate she was forever bound in conflict.

The fifth bride was A’nuht. She was strong in mind, though frail in body. Her children were wise in the ways of magic, and created great destruction. But because of their power, the King had them crippled, so that they might not rise up against him.

Her seal was ner, “lack”, for her thirst and the thirst of her children was never quenched.

The sixth bride was A’tellif. She spoke not, and held herself private. Her children could change their faces and move about unseen, and walk among Creation unknown. They opened Ways between worlds, and made way for the war to spread.

Her seal was usheq, “hidden”, for she was lost in shadow.

The seventh bride was A’habbat. She was the smallest and weakest of the seven, but she was not broken utterly by the King, and was horrified by her state. Her children walked on two legs, and were mighty hunters and heroes: she taught them in secret, hoping that they might destroy the children of her sisters and overthrow the King. They are few, and they have failed.

Her seal was xokib, “hope”, for she was doomed to know of what she could not achieve.

The seven brides sealed forever, the legions of their children spread out, and added their strength to the war. Worlds that had resisted the dark gods of the King fell under the weight of ceaseless assault. The roots of the tree rotted, festered with the King’s spawn. The Ways became treacherous and poisoned, to where travel could only be made by the blessed, the brave, and the mad. The King’s realm grew fat with damned souls, and the Places of Rest waned in strength: Few souls managed to escape that fate, but even in death many still fought.

Many gods fell to the service of the King: The grinding machinery of the Factory, who consumed all, leant its mindless strength in blood and steel. The King on the Gallows, He Who Was Hung, tore at the Tree’s knowledge from within. The Prince of Many Faces warped the wills of mortals, and Moloch the Horned One brought forth their shame. Many more whose names have been erased also served. The King’s many mortal servants recreated the establishment of his line in living effigy.

It shall not be said that the King was unopposed in his conquests. Many gods and heroes among mortals struck back at the invasions of their worlds, serving under countless banners. But they fell, in time, and their ages are past, and they are as blood and dust.

The King and his armies approach the Taproots, the center worlds, in all his wrath, and all his hate, and all his spite. He reaches out to corrupt and consume and destroy. Even now his presence is felt. Time slips away. The Brass Goddess is broken, the Serpent has fled. The heroes are gone. The children of A’habbat have been slaughtered to the last. The King’s servants are already here, making straight the path for his arrival.

With this arrival the Tree shall die, and all creation shall die with it.

High above, the brothers of Death watch the war unfold, hovering over the depths. As they always have. They know the outcome of the war, for they are the end of all things, but they do not speak of it.

There is little more to be said.

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