In the beginning, there was Olander and Olander dwelled in the Heavens.
He created the suns and the moons. He created the rocks and the firmament. He created the waters. And into the waters, he placed the fishes and onto the firmament, he placed the beasts.
He created the days and the nights. And he gazed down upon his works and smiled. And yet, he knew that it was not enough. For he was Olander and he had to be loved and none of his creations was yet able to do so.
And so Olander created the People. And the People loved him and so Olander was content. And for a thousand, thousand seasons, the People loved each other and loved Olander and the world of Tonan was at peace.
And yet, within Olander grew discontent for there was none in all the heavens or all the firmament or all the waters that was as he was. And Olander grew weary, for the love of the People was a burden that had to be borne alone. And so from the very stuff of his own being, Olander created his children.
Barnabas, the first born, the keeper of Traditions and Rulership.
To Barnabas’ right, Angelique, the maker of Laws for a world that had none.
To Barnabas’ left, Leto, the bringer of Freedom for those without voice.
Olander, the father of Earth saw an end to his days approaching. These three, formed of his own essence and loved by him as a father, he said would take his place and instead of there being a single seat in Heaven, there would be three. For Olander was wise and he knew these things:
Rulership without restraint would lead only to stagnation.
Law without restraint would lead only to tyranny.
Chaos without restraint would lead only to anarchy.
And Olander knew that each of these things without restraint would lead to what his world had never seen: War.
And so Olander taught his children and tried to make them wise, but for the first time in Heaven, there was discord. Angelique could not abide Leto, nor could he abide her. Barnabas could abide neither, for he understood that each was right at times but at other times neither was. Yet each believed he or she was always right. Olander told Barnabas that each was necessary, for the essence of rulership was to know when it was that one was right over the other and in order for him to rule well, he must hear the others and know the time.
Yet in dividing his essence into three, Olander had created less than what was inside of only one. And so it came to pass that there came a day when Olander was found upon the throne of Heaven no longer alive. Murder had found its way into paradise. And with it, murder found its way to the world.
Angelique accused Barnabas, for he held the weapon when she came upon the scene. Leto, sensing opportunity, echoed her accusation. Barnabas attempted to proclaim his innocence, but the combined power of the other two was too great. Disfigured and blinded, he was cast from Heaven to the Earth below. Freed from their brother’s balance, the remaining two fell upon each other like wolves. And all the heavens and all the waters and the entire firmament shuddered with the force of their conflict. And in the end, each found that he or she was not strong enough to defeat the other alone.
And so the Seat of Heaven stood vacant.
And so to Tonan came the wars.
Empires crumbled. Those once devoted only to Olander had to choose allegiance to one child or another. The children believed that if his or her chosen people ruled on earth, it would free the path to the seat of heaven. And for generations, there was strife. And none of the children held the wisdom of Olander. They were younger deities and, all-unknowing, made of the world a playground for the errors of younger gods.
Among their chosen people, there were those especially fervent in their prayers, especially zealous in their campaigns, especially devoted in their worship… and to these, the younger deities granted small, almost unnoticeable bits of themselves. And so to Tonan came the Saints.
The Saints spread the gospel of the gods. New nations grew and the storm of war spread across the face of Tonan. And yet none of these new empires ever held enough power for one of the three to seize the Seat of Heaven. Generations passed. There came a time when none of the People yet living could remember ought but that the world had always been at war. While there were three, none could gain the final advantage.
And then it came to pass that among the People, a Saint of Angelique and a Saint of Leto remembered how it was that Barnabas was first cast from heaven.
And so a pact was formed. The faithful of Barnabas were swept from the land in greater numbers than ever before. Combined, the fanaticism of Angelique’s templars and the passion of Leto’s dervishes nearly drove the Red Lord’s followers to extinction to the point where Barnabas was driven to attempt something never tried before.
Unto one of his followers, he granted not a sliver of his divine essence, but one of his true divine powers.
The smallest perhaps.
The most inconsequential perhaps.
And yet it was a spark of true divinity.
And from that spark of divinity came the rise of Oleana, known to her people as the Gypsy Queen. It is unknown what power it was that the Red Lord granted her, but what is known is that she led the people of Barnabas back to greatness and that among them, she was loved more than any save perhaps Barnabas himself.
And yet she could not bring the peace that her people so craved. And she could not rally them enough to defeat both Leto and Angelique’s faithful. And thus, she could not seat Barnabas upon Olander’s throne.
United again by need, Lady Law and the Chaosbringer granted their followers powers to strike down the Gypsy Queen. The priests of Angelique summoned a thousand storms to rain down upon lands loyal to the Gypsy, but she stood against them. The desert warlords of Leto sent a hundred thousand riders to destroy them, but were beaten back. In the end, it was the action of a single, unnamed man, armed not with a blade or a spell, but with poison and stealth who brought the Gypsy Queen low.
And yet this was not the end.
In the aftermath of Oleana’s death, something occurred that had never happened before. Her death was not death. Her end was not the end. And the love of her people sustained and uplifted her and transformed her into something completely new. The spark of divinity granted unto her by Barnabas ignited into a great flame. The goddesswave swept over the world. The Gypsy Cult was born.
Barnabas was elated for in life she was his. Now, the Seat would be his, for unlike before where there was balance between himself, his brother and his sister, he would have an ally in the eternal war. He appeared before Oleana and swore to her that if she would help him strike down Leto and Angelique, he would rule well and hold her always at his side. He demanded that she help him for she owed her existence to him.
But Oleana looked to the world below them and she saw the suffering of her people.
She saw the suffering of all.
And she knew that Barnabas was as much to blame for this as his brother or his sister.
And so she denied the Red Lord his demand.
And so the wars began anew, changed only in that there were now four great religions rather than three. And in heaven, Oleana despaired for the world, because now there were those who were killing and dying in her name along with the others. And so she searched. She searched into the deep realms of the past for a way to finally end the eternal war. She discovered the long abandoned form of the father god and she wept, for the name of Olander had been long forgotten from the world.
And at that moment, Oleana understood the greatest of truths.
Divinity could not be destroyed.
Divinity could only be changed to a new form.
And so, the divinity of Olander must remain… somewhere. Even if it was not held in the still form before her, she knew that Olander’s divinity must remain.
And so she sought anew. Perhaps if she could not bring peace to the world, then a reborn Olander could. Perhaps she could bring Olander back. Yet this was not to be. After years of seeking, Oleana found the lost divinity of Olander locked away in Tonan’s two moons and its sun. She did not understand how this could have come to pass, but she knew she could not bring him back. Oleana nearly despaired, for beneath her on the world, she sensed that her faithful were becoming as the faithful of the others. They sought only to place her on the Seat of Heaven.
They did not understand the peace she sought to bring.
And so Oleana wept… her final gift and her final curse to the world.
In her weeping, she brought the rains that blocked the sun.
For nearly a year, the rains swept across all of Tonan, washing away entire cities.
If she cried long enough, all would be washed away and the world could begin anew. In desperation, Barnabas, Leto, and Angelique sought her, but the first power that Barnabas had ever granted her was revealed. If Oleana wished to remain concealed, she could never be found. She was nowhere. She was everywhere. They sought, but all they found was the earth itself.
Finally, her weeping drew the priest Karoph, Voice of the Grey Moon Numi, from his hidden location. He quested to find Oleana to try to stop her tears from washing away the entire world. Finally, he found her beneath the great mountain on the island of Mo’ Pri. Faced with a goddess, he only asked her why she cried.
And Oleana told him.
Karoph told her that alone among the gods, she had the wisdom of Olander. The Father God’s children did not. The Father God too would weep if he saw the great tragedy of the world he once created. And yet, if Oleana was strong, as well as wise, she could end the suffering of the world.
Oleana asked him how this could be, for her faithful were becoming as the faithful of the other gods. There was no peace on Tonan. There could be no peace on Tonan so long as she and the children of Olander were there to bring war.
Karoph again told her that she was wise.
And then Oleana understood.
Divinity could not be destroyed. But it could be changed. It could be constrained.
It could be enjoined.
The Moons and the Sun, Karoph told her, held the divinity of Olander, but not the consciousness. If she did what Barnabas once did for her in a different way, each could be awakened as a new deity. Numi, the Grey, Soma, the Purple, and Intop, the Sun, once awakened, would bring the peace that she, Oleana, alone could not. With her divinity and the lost divinity of Olander combined, the flawed children of Olander could be held asleep forever. This was better, he insisted, than simply washing all away and hoping that the next world would be better than this one. In this way, perhaps her chosen people could prosper one day.
And so it was that Oleana allowed her consciousness to pass and her divinity to spread to the moons and the sun. And the grey moon Numi awakened as the god Foret. And the purple moon Soma awakened as the goddess Isonia. And the sun awakened as the demon god Darden.
Feeling the second goddesswave that came with the dissipation of Oleana, Barnabas, Angelique and Leto descended upon the island of Mo’ Pri in a desperate attempt to stop the threat that they sensed, but did not yet fully comprehend. In that moment, with the children of Olander gathered and temporarily vulnerable, the younger gods struck as one, obliterating the island and banishing the three to a place beyond creation and outside even the sight of Heaven.
And so it came to pass that Foret, Isonia and Darden, newly born and united by the shared desire for peace granted to them by Oleana’s consciousness, ascended to Heaven and laid to rest the father god. The Seat of Heaven they left as a reminder of the wars that had given birth to their own creation and agreed in unison that none of the three would sit upon it. Instead, they would create three thrones, all placed equally around the old seat that each would inhabit and that there would be eternal harmony between them.
On Tonan, they agreed, there would be no Saints. There would be Voices to speak to the people of their will, but there would never be one who was granted even the smallest bit of divinity again, for the Saints, they all agreed, were among those responsible for the generations of war.
And so, the new gods, looking back to the world, saw that in the absence of gods, the People had placed their faith in Prophets. Mina, Diman and Solas had promised the People many things and claimed visions of their own divinity. Thousands had flocked to their banners and the wars were beginning anew. The new gods knew their promise to Oleana and the responsibility they owed to the people required them to end this threat before it could fully manifest itself.
In short order, Mina, Diman, and Solas were no more.
And so it was that the triad brought peace to Tonan where there had been none for nearly twenty generations. The people flourished. Foret, Isonia and Darden were wise. And for nearly a thousand years, they sat upon their thrones and the pact of Oleana was upheld. However, there came a time when the older gods were forgotten by all save the new gods themselves. Oleana became but a distant voice from the past. The desire for peace that she infused each of them with became but a small echo in the backs of their minds.
And each, in turn, gazed in the direction of the vacant seat and each could barely remember why he or she occupied a lower throne instead of sitting upon the central Seat.
Each also found that the placid contentment of the People has resulted in a diminishing need for the gods. None of the held the absolute love of the People that Olander once held. None of them has generated in his or her chosen People the fanatical need for him or her to emerge victorious. Though their Voices were heeded in the world, they were heeded because of tradition. They were heeded because of habit. They were not heeded because of the absolute devotion that feeds divine power.
And so… the first sin.
The pact of Oleana was broken. War erupted once more in the heavens as each of the three new gods vied to occupy the central seat that they once agreed would never be occupied. And once the war erupted in the heavens, the wars again erupted on the earth below.
Almost without knowing why, but never having forgotten the method or manner in which the wars were waged, the great empires of Tonan again fell into battle. Though the lines of division were different than before and nations once allied were now enemies and nations once opposed allies without seeming reason other than their allegiance to the new gods, the eternal war remained much the same as it ever was.
And without the power of the Saints to guide their chosen people and without the tutelage of Olander to guide them, these wars would be far more brutal and far more destructive than any ever waged before. And like the elder gods before them, Foret, Isonia and Darden soon discovered that none could gain the ultimate advantage over the two others.
And with their attention fully focused on the wars below, none of the three noticed a stirring from the place beyond creation.
Barnabas was the first to fully awaken. As he arose, he stood and flexed his once-powerful muscles and was disturbed that his blade, once nearly an extension of his arm, seemed so heavy to him. Nevertheless, the immediate desire for vengeance against those who had managed to so humiliate him burned within him. He sneered as he scanned the heavens and found the one among them he styled herself a warrior: Isonia.
Angelique awakened upon Barnabas’ departure. Angry at the deceptive and lawless manner in which she and her siblings had been defeated, though she was slightly shaken that she could not quite formulate the perfect argument against this affront to order as she once was able to, she still did not hesitate. Among those who had supplanted her and her brothers was one who claimed to bring order as she once had: Foret.
Leto’s crafty eyes followed his sister’s stormy departure. It was not known how long Leto was actually awake, but the one thing that was certain was his deep annoyance at being outwitted by the chambermaid goddess Oleana and her three pretender godlings. Among them, there was one who claimed to be clever and cunning. Leto grinned as his eyes lit upon this supposed genius: Darden.
Angelique, as always, felt absolute certainty in the correctness of her position. She and her siblings were the rightful heirs of Olander. The Seat of Heaven was only meant for one of them. To her horror, however, in the face of Foret’s perfect justifications for the triads right to be here and the simple logic of the siblings’ many failures, she felt her ability to vocalize her position falter. Eventually, she simply fell into silence while Foret gazed upon her with a somehow amused arched eyebrow. In self-disgust and renewed humiliation, she turned around and walked away from him while he turned his gaze back to his followers on Tonan and their ongoing battles.
There were no words between Barnabas and Isonia. Their blades made their arguments for them. In short order, however, equal the first few passes of the battle were, the Red Lord began to feel an alien burning in his shoulders that soon traveled down his arms. In a final, brutal flurry, Isonia hammered his blade repeatedly with her axe, numbing his hands until the sword simply slipped free of them. Barnabas stared in shock at his blade on the ground and then did the only thing he could. He yielded to Isonia, who granted him his life and returned her attention to the wars on Tonan below believing him to be no further threat.
There was no immediate animosity between Leto and Darden, only a burgeoning curiosity between the two regarding which of them was the cleverer. Leto challenged the younger god to a game of chance, believing that there was no way that chance would betray him. Darden was immediately disinterested in such a thing, however, because he did not believe that Leto had anything to wager. Leto, however, had been awake long enough to deeply consider what had happened to him and his sibling. He told Darden that he did have something to offer… the truth about Darden’s own existence.
That peaked the demon’s interest. And what, he demanded, would Leto have him wager in return?
Leto smiled his most charming smile. An alliance, he offered. And alliance between himself and the Demon to depose Foret and Isonia and then to dispose of Barnabas and Angelique. And at the end of it, he and Darden would rule the heavens and earth as equals.
Darden knew immediately that the end result of such an agreement was Leto’s intention to betray him. After all, that is what he would do if he was in the weaker god’s position. However, Leto’s wager intrigued him, because Leto obviously had information which Darden lacked. So he agreed. One roll of the dice.
Leto rolled. And as he rolled, he felt the demon’s eyes bore into him. His gaze slipped toward the bowl that Darden held and he felt a wave of despair pass through him, for he knew even as he let the dice fall from his hand that fickle luck had betrayed him. He knew that he could never defeat Darden. He knew there was no hope… only desperation.
And when the roll came up in Darden’s favor, the demon smiled.
So tell me this truth of which you speak, the demon ordered.
And Leto spoke to him of length about the chambermaid who became a goddess. And who surrendered her divinity to bring peace and to bring forth three new deities to Tonan. And unlike his siblings, when the elder god slinked away in defeat, Darden did not return his attention to the wars below, but instead considered deeply what he had been told.
Leto found Angelique sitting morosely upon a hilltop on the island of Maxim. Her gaze darkened at his approach. Centuries of sleep had done nothing to alleviate her dislike of Leto and everything he was and she was in a foul mood at any rate. She continued to replay the debate with Foret in her mind and still could not believe how easily she had been bested.
Angelique’s face darkened further and she would have attacked Leto then had he not then told her what he suspected.
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