Sic Semper Tyrannis
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Eight days after the fall of Gyaros, a young priest of Mekhane beheld the dying flesh of his master. Red, cracked, and rotting. The high priest had hours left at most. The majority of those few who had returned to Akrotiri two days prior had already succumbed.

"My boy, please forgive me." The elder's words creaked out of his throat, sounding less like a man than a fish struggling to breathe air. "I had hoped to spare you from our duty. You were supposed to survive, and to lead our people beyond this age of war." A cough wracked his body.

The younger man watched without expression. "It doesn't matter. Nothing we do does any longer. Even if you and the others had lived. They already stole what fragments of God we could gather. Our Colossi are destroyed, and our allies abandon us by the day. This war is over Master. The Karcist is going to kill us all. My only remaining hope is that he does it before he consumes the Goddess rather than after. I could not bare the shame of outliving our maker."

The sound of a slap echoed through the small chamber.

Grand Karcist Ion, Sorcerer-King of Adytum and slayer of four divinities, gazed down upon the Island-City of Akrotiri from above, and frowned. So this was the great civilization that had stalled the western expeditions for nearly a century. The Architecture was a marvel to be sure, and by the look of the Colossi it's defenses had once been formidable. But no more.

Three Colossi lay wrecked and ruined in the bay, and the harbor gates they had once guarded were ripped asunder. What few ships remained showed signs of great damage. Even the long dormant caldera upon which the island had formed had begun to loose steam once more. Tundas had dealt their foes a mortal wound at the cost of his life. "May we meet again in the Adytum to come, my friend," he whispered.

He ceased his scrying and prepared to return inside the fortress of Kythera, but a hand on his shoulder forestalled him. He didn't need to ask to know who it was. "I promise that I'm well Lovataar. Merely anxious at the implications of this victory."

His wife nodded, and the two lapsed into a companionable silence. Soon, the peace he felt now would be felt by all mankind. The Broken One was not a mere spirit given life by the thoughts of its people like the Hittite Totem or Aryan Firebringer. It was a true god, like the Father was. Already he could perform miracles and conquer a continent. With this western god's strength, humanity would be united. For the first time, the Father himself would be vulnerable. And Ion knew how to exploit the vulnerabilities of gods better than any man who had ever lived.

"Ah, my love. I never have been able to decide if your obsession with brooding is among your most or least attractive qualities." Lovataar grinned at him, and he felt his worries fade away. This was a day of triumph, of ascendancy. No need to fight the battles of tomorrow. Not yet.

He returned the Daeva's smile. "I would think that it must have been, else your decisions ere now seem strange indeed." The two stood and began to return. "How fares the preparations?"

"Orok says the invasion force is ready. I've already informed them of the item we need for the ritual. Saarn has the profane instruments Tundas recovered ready to be used once we have the last piece. The only remaining question is the fate of the population."

Ion paused for a moment, considering the question. He had put it off as long as possible. He always did. "We need a living priest. but aside from that… Burn the city, and let the blood of its people fuel the flames. They're too dangerous to be left alive. The forces they command were once considerable, and could become so again. And it serves as an example for future foes."

"You know that you don't need to justify it to me, only to yourself." He should have known two hundred years together made hiding his intentions impossible. "Now come, before you get distracted and this oversized rock crashes into the sea."

Beneath them, the floating fortress-island of Kythera surged through the clouds, a hawk approaching its prey. Risen from the earth in Adytum's wake by the power of a newly dead god, it would be the instrument to end the iron heathens.

The priest of the Broken One trudged through the streets of the city, ruminating on the final instructions of the man who had raised him. The weather seemed too beautiful for such a tragic time in the history of his people, with only a small cloud-front to the east marring an empty sky. Such was the cruel irony of fate.

"Let god and savior be as one." It was a stupid plan, one he would never have conceived. Even if it worked, what would be the point of surviving in such a world? Better, perhaps, to die a martyr than to live as a monster.

A scream broke into his thoughts, and the crowd around him began pointing at the sky. At first he felt only confusion, but then he realized. That wasn't a cloud. And monsters from the fringes of hell came pouring down in the final rain Akrotiri would ever see.

Orok, the horned Klavigar of war, was returned to Kythera after a mere hour. The Heart of Mekhane and an accompanying priest in tow. Saving him from the fighting pits, Ion reflected, was certainly among the wisest decisions he'd ever made.

"My Ozi̮rmok, I have brought to you what you desire." Orok pulled forward the priest's chain. "This one came to me with the final instrument, begging to be spared."

Ion smiled wolfishly at the man, who would not meet his eyes. "For his action, he will be. But first, he has a role to play." Ion reached out and parted the flesh along the heathen's wrist, and drank deeply of his blood. The foreigner recoiled, but calmed once Ion finished and healed the wound. He only needed a little after all.

Using the verses Saarn had spirited from the Mekhanite archives, he began doing what they had desired to do for millennia: rebuild their god. The final piece was placed on a dais prepared for the occassion, and the ritual began.

"Blood of corrosion, be cleansed and once more flow. Let entropy still and life renew." He poured the vial of black liquid over the Heart, which began to move. "Flesh that was never flesh shall twist and grow amidst the beat of the Heart." The pillar folded in on itself, wrapping around the smaller piece of metal. "And may the name of the Maker shine through this vessel, so that it may be what its predecessor could not." The smaller carving faded into the metallic mass, now shifting and writhing without order.


Ion held out his right arm, which divided into three before reforming into a serpent's likeness. "God of soulless order, I bring the chaos of life." He began to walk forward. "Within me lies the blood of your faithful, the seed of your influence on the world. I have let it grow within me, just as I will grow to become what you could never be." The serpentine maw that had once been a hand hung over the unborn foetus of the reborn god. "I am the Ouroboros, the serpent that consumes all, even myself." In a single motion, he swallowed Mekhane. Behind him, her priest smiled.

"Fighting the Flesh lord is pointless, but I made preparations for this eventuality," The dying elder explained to his wayward pupil. "The artifacts stolen from Gyaros were meant to be taken. I corrupted them, in all cases leaving a fragment to be hidden away while the remainder became a knife pointed at Ion's heart. Let god and false savior be as one. He won't consume Mekhane; he'll share her ill fate."

"You profaned the fragments of God itself! This is sacrilege, heresy, it-" he was interrupted by a hand against his mouth.

"I'd slap you again, but I don't have the strength. This was the only way for her to survive, even if it meant killing most of her myself. For this to succeed, a follower of Mekhane must open the path to the curse. And in so doing, become a party unto it. I had intended to do it myself, but now I must leave this task to you. In truth, I can only guess at what it will entail. But I know that you will be bound as well. You will suffer greatly. What would you sacrifice to save Mekhane?"


Ion felt a brief moment of euphoria after the deed was done. Then there was pain.

He fell to his knees as steel erupted from his limbs, spilling his blood upon the ground. He felt every piece of himself writhe as his physical and metaphysical bodies were wrung out, re-organized, and ripped asunder. Amidst the chaos, he managed to open his eyes. He later wished that he had not.

His friends' and soldiers' flesh ran wild as the summer breeze, the untamed and unleashed power of the Grand Karcist tearing them to shreds. Of his Klavigar, Saarn was nowhere to be found while Orok was engulfed by a mountain of life. Lovataar watched in horror at her husband's fate, only to join it as dozens of hands broke free of her abdomen to wrap around her tall form. He wouldn't have let her come if he'd known she was expecting.

As he felt Kythera begin to fall from the sky and lava rise from the island below, he saw the laughing face of the Mekhanite priest, who alone was spared. "Without you, your people will die. But you will live on, buried by the Goddesses' forge. And I will never allow you to break free, even unto the thousandth generation."

With those he loved most taken from him, and his body falling into pieces, it was a relief when the ash came to claim him.

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