Saturday, 2 August 2014

Ill Dreamt by Moonlight

Like a good little girl, Somn had went back to her room, locked the door and laid on her bed as per the seniors' instructions. The only problem was, she can't actually sleep.

Somn soon finds herself walking down the hallway, her bare feet gliding along the tiled floors soundlessly. She didn't know where she was going, nor did she care-- overwhelmed by someone outright dying in front of her while she watched helplessly, she chooses to block out her thoughts and emotions until she feels better. A patrolling janitor walls right through Somn, making the goddess jump before chiding herself. Stupid! she scolded. No one can see you like this, remember?

The ghostly shape of Somn sighs. It was fun at first, wandering around and exploring, but by now she had practically memorised the entire layout of the new girls' dorm and each room's occupants. There wasn’t really much else to do.

A pink elephant-shaped bubble suddenly appears and crosses her path, distracting Somn. She watches it in astonishment until it leaves and breaks into laughter. Someone's sleepwalking again, she chuckles. Then she stops. Wait a second... that wasn't any of the girls' dreams... Hmm. Maybe it's a professor. Actually... a thought takes hold of Somn's mind. I wonder... What do the boys’ dorms look like? Do the hallways mirror the girls'?

Curiosity takes hold of her firmly, and the semi-transparent figure of the goddess takes off again, this time with a purpose.


Well. This is disappointing, huffs Somn, It's exactly the same!

The dorm for the gods of Somn's generation mirrored the goddesses' dorm exactly, down to the lonely potted plant at the end of the hall before the staircase on Somn's floor. She groans and leans against a random door. Now what? she asks herself. I can't just wander around the dorms forever. Mmm... What abo-- AIK!

Somn's hand accidentally falls through the door due to her incorporeal state. The goddess quickly proceeds to pull it out, but feels a familiar sensation and starts panicking. Oh Random... Whose dream is this?

Desperation lends Somn too much strength as she yanks out her hand, ending with her soundlessly crashing into the opposite wall. Ouch, thinks Somn, rubbing her head. Maybe that was a little too-- oh boy.

The young deity isn't alone in the corridor anymore. Standing in front of her is a tall, familiar figure, now getting up from his knees and taking in his surroundings.

Somn gulps. Oops.



Luke clutches his arm, trying to stem the hot, sticky blood seeping through his clothes and fingers. He could hear them, their excited mechanical chattering and heavy, thumping footsteps closing in. They've heard his outburst-- he is going to die here, in this strange place where even the walls themselves seem to be conspiring against you, with a robotic, seemingly nonchalant passive-aggressive voice mocking him at every turn.

He grits his teeth-- no way is he going to die here, not yet. He drags himself up to his feet, ignoring the numerous wounds peppering his body screaming at him in pain. He stumbles forward, only for his legs to collapse under him, sending him over the shrinking railing into the murky liquid below. He flails about, trying to do something, anything but fall. He screws his eyes shut, not wanting to see his watery grave soaring up to greet him. I am going to di--

Something suddenly grabs his arm. Something warm and soft. Something that isn’t crushing his bones into splinters or melting his skin off his flesh. Luke dares to open an eye. There, almost tantalizingly close, was the acidic gloop a quarter of a centimeter away from touching his dangling toes.

Luke looks up, trying to see what had rescued him. His jaw drops. Here, in this technological hell-hole, was a very human hand sticking out from behind an ajar tile. Luke hears a soft grunt and feels himself being hoisted up, away from the liquid below him and away from this place.

The hand's grip slips and sends Luke's heart jumping to his throat in response. Adrenaline surges through his body, and he somehow manages to swing himself up and firmly grasp his savior's wrist with his other hand.

Slowly, agonisingly, the hand drags Luke up until he can finally see the edge of the inky-black space behind the tile. He reaches out, grabs the edge and hurls himself head-over-heels into the empty beyond--

-- and finds himself kneeling in front of the first goddess he had ever laid his eyes upon.

He takes in his surroundings and tries to bring his shallow, gasping pants under control. I've escaped, he thinks. I-- "Somn?" he asks. "Wha--"

"You, um, were sleepwalking!" exclaims Somn. "And I, er, was helping you back into your room! Was kinda worried..."

I was sleepwalking?! Luke barely hears the rest of Somn's words. Instead, he feels blood rushing to his face as his brain gleefully presents him with a long, glorious list of delightful scenarios. Oh Great Random, begs Luke silently, please tell me I didn't do anything embarrassing!

"... so, no biggie, just close your eyes right now, and we can pretend that this awkward conversation never happened!" finishes Somn cheerfully.

"Y-yeah, sure," stammers Luke, reaching for his room's doorknob. "I'll just--"

Somn's eyes widens. "Don't touch that!"

Her shout comes too late. Luke stares at his hand in bewilderment. It had gone clean through the doorknob without even an iota of resistance. He brings it up to his eyes for closer inspection and discovers that if he focuses hard enough, he can see right through his entire forearm. A quick glance reveals that whatever this condition is, it is affecting his entire body. "... Somn?"

"Stay calm, it's nothing bad," says Somn quickly, waving her arms about in a direct contradiction of her own suggestion. "Just close your eyes, and I can fix this. It's all just a dream. No biggie!"

A dream... Luke manages to recall scenes from his nearly-forgotten nightmare. Someone... He looks back at Somn and finds one of her hands very familiar, despite it being thrown around in Somn's rapidly growing panic.

"Did you do something?" he asks.

The goddess halts in her tracks and lets her arms fall limply to her sides. "Did what?"

"I was... having trouble sleeping," says Luke, choosing his words carefully to prevent Somn from worrying. "And... I had to wake up, but I couldn't."

It didn't work. "You had a nightmare?" asks Somn, her voice full of concern.

"It's okay, I'm fine," says Luke. "Just..." Wait. He realises he isn't the only translucent one. "Somn, am I still dreaming?" he asks.

"Ah.. Yes and no. Physically you are sleeping, your mind and powers... Not so much," says Somn.

"What, am I doing astral projection?"

"No, that's for mortals," says Somn. "This is our equivalent of lucid-dreaming, I guess. Because of our niche powers." She shifts her weight onto her other foot. "Met an ex-senior the day before who could do this too. She said some gods' niche powers are active even when they're asleep. If they are lucid-dreamers, this is usually the result."

Luke looks puzzled. "Huh… I wonder what mine is, then."

Curiosity lights up Somn's face. "Oh yeah! You wouldn't be here otherwise! Weird..."

The goddess thinks about it for a moment, then shrugs. "I guess we'll find out eventually. Anyway, go back go bed and lie down. I'll meet you in the morning."

"Yeah, sure." Luke proceeds to put one foot through the door before a thought occurs to him. "Hey, Somn?"


Luke finds himself praying desperately that the heat he feels on his face is just him being tired. "Do you think we can, um... meet up again? Like this?"

Somn looks a little confused at this request, but smiles at him warmly. "Sure, why not? It'll be nice to have company."

"Ah, okay then. Goodnight."

"Night, Luke."

Somn finds herself staring at the door for another few minutes after Luke leaves, trying to comprehend this weird sensation running through her. What is with me today?! she wonders, shaking her head. She sighs. Maybe I’ll figure it out when I get up....

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Chapter 6: Fade

Anger floods her face, replacing her shock. “You monster!” she screams.

The raven laguz turns towards her and swoops down, landing gracefully in front of SarahAnne. His lips twist into a cruel smirk. “Hello there,” he says casually. “Do you like the new Godville? I for one think it needs a few more… explosions.”

“Why do you do this, Never More?” asks SarahAnne, her voice shaking. “Why destroy this beautiful world? Stop this madness! Come back to us.”

“Beauty is in the eye of the destroyer, SarahAnne. And do you know what I see?” asks Never More, laughing. “I see the most beautiful sight in the world. Everything is so much better when it’s burning down to the ground.”

“You’re mad, Never More,” SarahAnne says in disbelief.

“Me? Mad?” asks Never More in mock surprise. “Oh no no no, my dear. I’m not mad,” he says, feigning shock at how she had accused him. “I believe I’m the only sane one in this world. Excuse me, I believe Temple Row needs a bit more work. Oh, how I loathe your pathetic urges in building temples."

The raven god unfurls his wings, and with a wink directed to SarahAnne, flies off. Immediately, Sticky comes rushing to SarahAnne's side. The godling keeps his face impassive, trying to manage the conflicts arising from his very soul.

Sticky takes a deep breath, then looks to his liege for guidance. "My lady, what do we do now?" he asks.

SarahAnne’s expression hardens into an unforgiving mask. "We do what we have always done. We must protect the city. Gather the men and try to lure Never More into the arena. Have the civilians evacuated, no lives must be further lost."

"What do you intend to accomplish, my lady?" asks Sticky, unable to keep worry out of his voice.

SarahAnne turns the full strength of her gaze upon the young god, and he flinches. "That was an order, general,” she says coldly. “But if you must, I'm going to drag them away from the city. Now, go.” Her words clearly leave no room for negotiation.

Sticky opens his mouth, as if to reason with her, but closes it shut. Instead, he simply bows somberly, then turns on his heel and leaves, both SarahAnne’s presence and the audience’s field of vision. There is an eerie silence once Sticky’s footsteps can no longer be heard, a jarring contrast to the deafening clamour of the battle only moments ago. SarahAnne takes one last look around her, then begins to run.

The camera pans along, barely keeping pace with the goddess’ unbelievable speed. In comparison, for all of Luke and Somn’s combined speed with godpower, they might as well have been standing still. The scene shifts into a ruined landmark. Fallen heroes who have been innocently waiting to bash some heads lay dead, crushed by debris or slain by the forces of Chaos. A group of Never More's men are seen looting a pile of bodies.

SarahAnne skids to a stop for a few seconds here, shoving her hands outwards and pushing them off of the corpses, then returning to her insane pace. From there on, she stops only once as she reaches the center of Godville, where she stands with her arms raised and her eyes pointed to the heavens. A quiet chant flows from her lips, and Never More, a few miles away, suddenly turns, feeling something amiss. SarahAnne's chant rises in tempo and volume until it can be heard throughout Godville, and suddenly, Never More understands.

With a scream of rage, he flies at her, but he knows in his heart that he will not make it in time. A bright flash of light envelops the city. All of the combatants, gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines alike are torn through a rift into a tiny artificial wormhole. For a moment, all that can be seen is the light, and all that can be heard in the sound of Never More's rage, and then they emerge into the moonlight and dust of a ruined city.

"SarahAnne knew they couldn't win,” says the narrator. “What she could do was save Godville. She had teleported them all into a ruined city that had once housed those who killed gods, known as Godslayers. In this city was a natural rift between the world of gods and heroes.”

Never More gets up, dusts himself and looks around him. It’s now nearing the first light of dawn, the edge of the sky tinted orange. The raven god’s night-adjusted eyes can see the desolation around him. He takes in a deep breath to calm himself and regain his composure, then whistles in admiration. “Wow, thanks for the reference. Maybe I can try topping this.”

Never More,” announces SarahAnne, her voice alarmingly stripped of all emotion. “You will pay.

Beside her, a translucent form flickers into existence and shapes itself into a battle-ready woman. The heroine goes down on a bended knee before SarahAnne.

“My Lady,” she says.

“Well, well, aren’t they stuffy?” Another heroine dressed in pirate regalia swirls into existence, this time beside Never More. She whips out a pair of ebony pistols. “Nice to be fighting with you, sir,” she says, directing it at the raven god. “What are your orders?”

Never More’s grin becomes savage. “Annihilate them.”

The pistol-toting piratess laughs and takes aim. “With pleasure.”

Before she could squeeze the trigger, a shadow darts behind her. The heroine grunts as a knife presses against her neck, the other pointed at her side. “Drop the guns,” hisses a hero.

“Why should I?” scoffs the heroine.

SarahAnne’s heroine charges at the piratess, the claws she wears mirroring the attack by SarahAnne herself as the goddess lunges at Never More. Immediately, the hero holding the piratess captive shivers violently, then releases the pistol-wielding heroine to block the claws at the same time Sticky leaps in front of Never More to block SarahAnne’s attack.

The deities clash again and again, their movements reflecting upon their warriors, as if someone was double-imaging the fighting of the gods and goddess.

“I… What’s going on?” asks Somn in amazement.

“Both Chosen Ones and deities are nearly fighting on the same plane,” explains the narrator. “Here, in this rift, the immortal and mortal planes collide. These places hardly exist today, and are normally center of commerce.” The narrator winks at Somn. “The Marketplace is one of them.”

There was another earth-shaking clash of power and weapons, and SarahAnne jumps back from the fight. “LugosiBela,” she says, her tone cold and rational. “Keep them busy. I need time.

SarahAnne’s heroine gives her a cursory nod in acknowledgement, then doubles her efforts. The first rays of the morning is starting to peer through the clouds, throwing the scattered ruins into deep shadow and bathing the land itself in a warm orange glow as a stark contrast. Standing with her back to the sun, SarahAnne begins mumbling a spell, her lips somehow managing to enunciate at the blurring rate it was moving. Blue wisps of godpower creep along the ground, crawling towards the fighters where Sticky had taken her place in battle.

“Dawn. The time when light returns and triumphs over all,” says the narrator. “Aware of this, SarahAnne casted the sealing spell.”

Sticky,” says SarahAnne.

The young god glances at her for the briefest of seconds before returning his attention back to Never More.

Finish it.

Sticky obliges. He begins muttering under his breath and switches places with SarahAnne who picks back up the fight. The tendrils of power reach out for Never More, but the laguz spreads his wings and takes to the skies, yanking his heroine out of harm’s way with him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t escape the grip of Sticky’s spell fast enough, as one of the tendrils shoots out and wraps around his ankle firmly. More and more blue strands twist around his leg, dragging him back down to earth. His heroine fires at the strands of godpower, but more tendrils latch onto Never More faster than she can shoot at or her god can hack away.

At the same time, the tendrils wrap themselves around SarahAnne. Unlike her ex-lover, she does not resist, and instead adds on to the spell, creating locks of godpower that curl around her fingertips and spread across her body. Faster and faster, the blue strands envelope the two deities; Never More in a suffocating cocoon, SarahAnne in a gentle swathe. Dragged down to earth and unable to hold on, Never More accidentally releases his grip and watches helplessly as his heroine plummets to the ground.

ALICIA!” cries Never More.

There is a sickening crack as her body hits terra firma, killing her on impact. Her pistols fly out of her grip and fall uselessly several meters below Never More’s bound feet. Within seconds of his heroine's death, sealing is complete, despite Never More’s desperate attempts at slicing his way out of the opaque, glowing cocoon. Never More lets loose a loud, wordless scream as his cocoon hits the ground and vapourises. A few metres away, SarahAnne’s heroine cries out as she watches her goddess disappear from sight. A blinding flash of light obscures the audience’s vision for a brief moment, and the two ex-lovers are no more.

The scene shifts to Sticky staggering out of a portal, only to be met by the Godville council. The leader of the council smiles grimly and steps forward. "We thank you for your service, Sticky," he says. Placing his hand on the confused young god's chest, the council begins to chant. Sticky steps back, but the leader follows him. The young god tries to escape, but he is clearly exhausted and fails to break free of the council members’ grip. The glow of magic envelops him, and within seconds, Sticky's body disappears, and his essence flows backwards into the portal from whence he came.

"You see, the council did not trust Sticky,” explains the narrator. “They believed that such a young, charismatic, powerful god, who also happened to be a war hero, would easily take their place as leader of Godville--”

The ground suddenly shakes, cutting off the narrator. His silhouette flickers into existence, and his shocked face becomes visible. “What in Random--”

A shrill scream interrupts the narrator. “LACCEN! SHOW YOURSELF!

The sky rips apart, what was early morning gives way to the midnight sky as the scenery around the audience starts shimmering and fading, the forms of the previously-invisible actors now appearing. Somn stares in wide-eyed amazement as the short, light-blond locks of SarahAnne retreats into the actor’s skull and darkens into a muddy brown while the character’s feminine features morph into something much more masculine. “SarahAnne was played by a dude?” splutters Somn.

To her surprise, the brunette actor speaks with a thick, lazy accent that heavily contrasts his role’s light and precise lilt. “Great Ran’om, Laccen,” he calls, “wha’ happene’ this time?” Beside him, the hazy figure of the actor playing Never More is becoming more corporeal, the wings falling apart into a multitude of vaporising feathers, skin peeling away to reveal a fair-haired god.

“There goes the stage,” sighs the raven-god’s actor. “Prop team's gonna come after us, y’kno--”

There is a loud bang, a terrible ripping sound, and the entire world around the audience and actors vanishes without a trace, leaving everyone back in the same campsite they were in-- with a difference. Standing near the entrance to the clearing is an absolutely furious goddess with shells in her hair, completely enshrouded by the thick mist of godpower. She takes a stomp forward, and the ground instantly liquefies into a sizzling, smoking substance beneath her foot.

The brunette utters a unintelligible curse and takes a hasty step back into blonde performer’s protective embrace. “Laccen? Thi’ yours?”

The narrator, Laccen, looks petrified. “Vieve! What are you doing?! We’ve got newbies h--”

Laccen’s words were cut short as the intruding goddess gathers up her godpower into the palm of her hand. A wordless shriek escapes the her lips as she hurls the ball of godpower.

Duty kicks in, and Laccen steps forward and throws up a shield before the audience and cast. The projectile crashes into the shield, which ripples and shatters on impact, the broken pieces of the spell showering upon the deities like glitter.

"Vieve!" Sticky's actor steps forward, his illusion-spell melting off to reveal a deity with gnarled, thick-veined skin. "What's the matter with you?!"

"It's all his fault!" Vieve sends another barrage of projectiles sailing at Laccen and the others.  Laccen throws up a stronger shield, but a split-second later his look of concentration switches into abject horror as his hands start Fading. Seniors who had been calmly watching the whole exchange kick into action when they realize the shield-spell isn't forming normally.

"Great Random, Vieve!" shouts the student organiser as he grabs the goddess' arms. "Have you gone insane?!"

"Brick!" yells someone. "Laccen's Fading!"

Immediately several seniors dash off to the Academy, but it is too late. The shield completes itself, at the cost of the loss of a life. Where there once stood a god named Laccen, now there is nothing but air.

Shocked to the core, Luke finds himself barely able to process what had just happened.  "The... The narrator..."

On the other side of the campsite, pinned down by at least three deities and neutralised by another two, Vieve's piercing screams slowly devolve into loud, choking sobs. The student organiser-- among those pinning down the goddess-- whispers something to the eagle-headed senior who had returned some time ago. The god nods and walks over to the stunned newbies.

"Campfire night's over," he says. "Go back to your rooms."

No one dares to argue with the tall, well-built senior. Within minutes, the clearing is empty of the new-comers, all scurrying back to their dorms for the night.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Chapter 5: The Play

“The Tale of the Warring Gods.”

The narrator sweeps his hand across the stage. At his command, the curtain rises onto a blank, black backdrop. Without warning, the scenery lurches forward and engulfs the audience, the pitch-black mass destroying their sight as it roars past them. Somn opens her mouth to yell for help, but the blindness dissipates as suddenly as it came. The restoration of their sight, however, was practically useless.

Luke jumps up in surprise, whirling around to take in his new environment. Gone is the clearing with its roaring campfire, log-seats and star-filled night sky. Instead, the young god and his friends are standing in the middle of--

“Where in Random’s name are we?” yells Neko. Beneath her feet is nothing but endless, starless space, the only light source that of the glowing godly aura emanating from that of the audience, including herself. The log she sits on creaks a little as Somn tightens her grip, her nails digging into the aged bark.

Somn screws her eyes shut. “Why,” she asks quietly, “are we in mid-air?”

Krill nonchalantly leans down and pats the empty space beneath him. “We’re not,” he says. “The log’s still here.”

“Smart kid,” echoes the narrator’s voice around them.

“Where is he?” asks Luke. His feet are standing on something solid, but all he can see around him is nothing but inky black space.

A shadowy figure fades into existence a few steps away from the audience. “Over here,” says the narrator, giving a quick wave. “Relax, this is all an illusion. The drama club likes their theatrics.You guys seem pretty off-balance though, so I’ll give you some time to settle in. Happens every year.”

Luke eyes the shadowy figure suspiciously but does as he is told, returning to his seat beside Fred, who currently is gaping in astonishment at the showcase of magic around him.

“I’ve seen them do illusion spells before, but never on this scale,” says Fred in awe.

“In that case, I don’t like illusions anymore,” mutters Somn. “Tell me when we’ve moved on or something.”

“They’ve switched,” says Neko. She chortles evilly as Somn opens her eyes, lets out a yelp and squeezes shut her eyelids again.

“Neko!” she shouts. “I told you not to do that!”

“Hey, you fell for it!” says Neko, grinning.

Luke feels a wave of anger rush through him at what he considers a breach of trust, but decides to give Neko the benefit of doubt. Instead, he turns to Fred. “Does she do that often?” he asks.

“Do what often?” asks Fred, slightly distracted.

Luke doesn’t quite know how to explain himself without sounding as if he is overreacting, even to his own ears, so he simply gestures and says, “That. Just now.”

Thankfully, Fred puts two-and-two together. “Not at every opportunity, but often enough. Somn doesn’t seem to hold it against her, though.”

The newborn god’s next train of thought gets disrupted by the narrator’s words.

“No response? Really?” asks the narrator impatiently. “Well, we’ve waited long enough. I’m starting now.”

The narrator pauses, and immediately the tension in the air thickens. He gives them a knowing smile and begins, his voice heavily infused with alluring magic.

“Time is in general irrelevant to us gods, but there is no doubt that to recall this memory from the elders would bring to mind an age where many of them were still young and naive. In such a time there lived two deities, powerful even by the standards of strongest past and present. Their story is that of control, chaos, love, deceit and tragedy.”

The narrator begins walking away, and with each step colour blossoms under his feet, writhing tendrils painting over the dark space and forming into patches of grass, fields and skies until the audience finds themselves sitting in a middle of a field, not unlike the newborn gods’ place of birth. Krill watches in astonishment as time fast-forwards its effects on the grassy meadow, causing a few houses to sprout from the soil. The houses seem to gather more compatriots until it becomes a bustling village, only for fire to erupt and consume the wood-and-thatch houses in a raging inferno.

There was no time to grieve, though. Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, the buildings rebuild themselves in front of Krill’s eyes into a town, stone and shingle replacing the flimsy cottages of before. The structures expand in size and become much larger and grander; marble, dark wood and gold replacing the practical stone and oak of the past  A slight gasp comes from the older newborns as they recognise the basic shapes of what is now Godville.

Without warning, the scenery flies through them, taking the audience into the heart of Old Godville, the edges of their visions becoming a blur.

“This is awesome!” shouts Neko gleefully.

“Where are we going?!” yells Somn, twisting her head about as she tries to catch random images of doors, steps, people passing by. Cobblestone paths twist and speed underneath her feet at an alarming rate, prompting her to pull up her legs before realising that it still is an illusion.

“Umm… guys?” asks Fred. “Is it just me, or is the crowd getting thicker?”

Ghostly images of people pass right through them, dissipating into wisps of smoke as their time in this world speeds to their end. More and more people start fading into shadowy existences around them as stalls begin constructing themselves along the side of the road. The scenery starts slowing down at a rapid pace until they come to a stop in a crowd of both mortals and immortals, all mingling among each other in this busy open-air marketplace, with traders peddling their wares and customers shouting over prices.

As if obeying a command, Krill finds his attention drawn towards a godly couple browsing the stalls-- a god with a tall stature and a debonair smile dressed in black, his hair the color of night and with wings of ebony feathers. Accompanying him is a goddess, fair and beautiful, her waist-long hair, tasteful dress and graceful poise lending her an air of elegance.

“The two were star-crossed lovers, and their romance transcended the very fabric of reality,” whispers the narrator’s voice sadly. “Yet this once-happy tale turned quite tragic. You see, the two had ideals so different that they couldn't help but clash."

The scene in front of them blurs, shifts and washes away to reveal a new location. Now the audience is standing with the couple under the moonless sky on top of a tower, the city of Old Godville glittering all around them.

"Never More, this has gone too far!” says the goddess angrily. “All this… this Chaos! The rules that were passed down from council to council lasted this long for a reason. We need the Order.”

“Sometimes, you don't wanna follow the rules, SarahAnne,” says Never More. There is a dangerous glint in his eye as he gestures towards the building behind them. “Sometimes... you just wanna explode!"

At his command, the building detonates and crumbles to the ground, the sound of the earth rumbling drowned out by the sound of screaming. With a flap of his wings, the black-clad god ascends and floats over to the rubble.

"I've had it with you, SarahAnne,” says Never More. “You defy reason. Hell, you defy basic decency in your quest for order. We're through, as is Godville, the epitome of your foolish order!" With a wave of his hand, a ring of buildings around Never More crumble to the ground. "It's time to bring a little Chaos to this place! It's only REASONABLE!"

"Never More, you monster!" SarahAnne says, aghast at the destruction her love has caused. "How could you betray me like this? No, not even me,” she says, drawing a blade of shining metal. “It is obvious you no longer care for me. How could you betray Godville like this?! You will see the wrath of the elders for this!" she declares, starting towards him.

Never More, unfazed by her threats, throws a blade at SarahAnne, slicing her side and pinning her to the nearest wall. He then jumps up into the sky and flies away, laughing. "You think you could harm me? Think again!" As he wings through the air, circling Old Godville, everything he flies over is rocked by explosions. Within just a few minutes, all of Old Godville is reduced to rubble. Only the council building and the academy, covered by powerful godpower shielding by the combined forces of most of the elder gods, survive.

"NO!" cries SarahAnne. The goddess yanks the sword out and rushes over to the edge, only to watch helplessly as the city of the gods falls apart before her eyes. Emotionally broken by the devastation unleashed upon Godville, she falls to her knees, crying in pain. "Why? Why? Why?!"

She continues crying into the dirt and rubble, but her wails of sorrow are heard by no one. Most of Old Godville has been destroyed, with much of its residents dead or injured. Only the lone silhouette of the academy remains, the council room at its peak shining as the lone light of hope, accompanying her as her crying dwindles into choking sobs. "Never More…." She drags herself up and stands unsteadily on her two feet, knowing that she is alone. Biting her bottom lip, the goddess begins to search in the rubble, dragging out both bodies and survivors.

The scene shifts yet again and the audience suddenly finds itself in the middle of a bloodied battlefield. Bruised and beaten armies march head-on, each bearing tall, worn-out banners. At the head of one is the goddess, now dressed for war with her dented armor, her long locks brutally chopped and shoved under a battered helmet. Leading the charge of the second army is the god, his eyes bloodshot and his wings tattered as he orders his army to a halt.

Seeing the dark army now at rest, the goddess raises her hand as well. At her signal, her silver army grinds to a stop. Her men watch their brave leader anxiously as she shakily walks forward, exhaustion taking its toll from the long march, for the scene before had shown her giving up her own horse early on to boost the faltering ranks of the much-needed calvary.

The raven-god swoops down and lands lightly in front of the goddess. He goes down mockingly onto one knee. “SarahAnne,” he greets, his smile clearly insincere.

“Never More,” acknowledges SarahAnne. “What is it you want? Is it too much for me to ask you to come to your senses? To stop this madness?”

Her ex-lover’s smile turns sour as he rises to his feet. “Senses? Madness? You’re the one who’s mad! Blinded by the elders’ propaganda!”

“I stand against you because I’m standing for what’s right. And for that you call me mad?” asks SarahAnne softly. “I’ve shed tears for you day and night, hoping you’ll see reason. That we can end this. Please, Never More, I’m begging you. End this war.”

Her enemy says no words. Instead, he lifts up her chin gently and presses his lips lightly against hers. “I’m sorry,” he says with a sad smile. “But I’m afraid I’m beyond your reason.”

The silhouettes of the two enemies and their armies breaks apart into dust, the particles blown away as the scene shifts again. The fine powder swirls and reforms around the audience, building itself into a large, circular room with high stone walls and a somber atmosphere. A heavy, round wooden table is in the middle of this room, with numerous deities sitting around it. The air is tense, each person here carefully weighing their words before uttering them.

“This has gone on for far too long,” says one of the most senior-looking gods. “Most would have expired by now, and yet Never More merely gains new power, enough even to crush our defences."

“Agreed,” says another. “SarahAnne may be our champion, but even with our strength behind her, she will not last much longer.”

“Nor will we,” notes a third darkly. “Something must be done.”

“We must admit it. SarahAnne alone is too weak to beat him,” says a fifth god. He pauses, ensuring that he has the attention of his fellow elders. “One of the young gods has been pestering me ever since this war started. He wishes to take part in the conflict.”

“Sticky?” asks the third deity. “He is too young! He himself hasn't even managed to decide what side he is on most of the time!"  

“He may be young, Nariya, but he was a close friend during their courtship, and one of the brightest minds we have seen in a long time,” shoots back the fifth god. “This is no time to be keeping aces up our sleeves. He undoubtedly will invent something where we have been grasping at straws. Or do you have a better plan? Would you rather go down there yourself and stand beside SarahAnne against Never More?”

The rest of the discussion consists only of argument, and when the room again breaks into dust, the scene returning yet again to the battlefield. This time, however, a young god not much older than the audience, is standing and fighting alongside the silver army.

The black army retreats, the silver-clad soldiers driving into their main force like a giant wedge. For a moment, it looks like Sarah has the upper hand against Never More. Then, Sticky stops, his entire body shivering. A malicious grin spreads across his face, his hair darkens a shade and his eyes take on a red tint. With a roar, he turns on the troops he leads and joins Never More, once again changing the tide of the war.   
The audience watches in horror as time flies past their eyes, the montage showing them how the attacks increase in desperation and fury, the stakes ever-rising. Every time one side was close to winning the war, Sticky was there to balance out their strength, prolonging the war, preventing either side from grasping victory. Eventually, the silver army suffers a series of close defeats, and Sticky settles and remains with them.

Time passes, and the camera view changes. Two persons are standing in a musty tent, the material worn thin and covered in stains and blood-splatters. The ground is muddy from the water that leaks through the seams and churned by the feet of the men that had just left the tent. Maps paper the cloth walls, held up by dull-coloured pins that tell a depressing story-- battle after battle lost to the advancing black tide of markers that seem to be swarming across the drawings from all directions.

All eyes fall on the magnetic figure in the center of the tent. Standing tall and proud, SarahAnne has her back turned to the the audience and the other deity in the tent-- a young god of similar age as the audience, clearly recognisable as Sticky. Simply by being in the presence of the tent, one can easily feel the intensity of her strength. “You’re not doing this of your own will, are you?” she asks quietly.

“What do you mean?” asks Sticky.

SarahAnne turns to face the young god, and immediately one can see the toil of the war taking its toll. She is no longer the youthful, hopeful goddess who had stood by uselessly as Godville fell apart. Instead she had been transformed into a world-weary, battle-hardened warrior. Fine lines criss-cross every patch of visible skin-- product of the dedicated medics’ thankless, never-ending work in their bid to keep their beloved leader alive. She purses her lips into a harsh, thin line. “Jumping back-and-forth between factions each time the tide shifts," she says. "I marvel at how Never More still takes you in, the so-called strategist he is.”

“To be honest, I wonder why myself,” admits Sticky. “I swear, my liege-- I never recall working with that traitor.”

“I know. I’ve had you tested,” says SarahAnne. Ignoring the shock in Sticky's eyes, she goes on. “I’ve been deliberately utilising whatever that fault of yours is, you know.” She takes a deep breath and sighs heavily, all her strength gone and replaced with world-weary tiredness. “Sticky, we’re running out of time,” she whispers. “We need to end this war. Now.

The scene suddenly shifts downwards into a large cavern. “Never More’s headquarters at that time was hidden inside an ancient tomb,” says the narrator, his voice echoing in the empty space. “No one knows where it was, or who was buried in there. It is said it was already ancient when time itself was young, when the world was born and the first Gods came into being.

“Never More had decided to launch his final assault, attacking the struggling heart of Godville itself. In his lair, he mustered his men, rebel gods and monsters, all of different origins, but of one goal.

The audience watches, slack-jawed as the laguz flies high above his army, the figures stretching far into distance. He eyes this impressive sight with a smirk, then raises his hand. There is a small explosion of light, and a portal roars into existence, a rip between the fabric of space and time. Through it, one can clearly see the pitiful collection of temples and rebuilding efforts that is now an unsuspecting Godville.


Needing no further encouragement, he army roars in ground-shaking assent and surges forward, the black mass swarming through the portal. The audience's view marches along with the army through the portal. As soon as they enter, their vision becomes white before clearing to reveal the Godville, now a battlefield. The land around the audience trembles with increasing magnitude until the very ground itself explodes, enormous stones, chunks of earth and lava flow sent flying into the air. A group of gods shriek as debris seems to fall on top of them but breaks apart just before it touches them.

Fred dares not even blink, awestruck at the effects. Behind him, amazement and terror paralyses Somn as she watches her surroundings erupt into utter chaos, nearly missing a large rock’s collision-course with her head before it gets disintegrated by a convenient spell.

“Godville was not prepared for such an attack,” says the narrator, his voice solemn. “SarahAnne in all her preparations had not anticipated Never More to assault the city itself. Her men had arrived too late.”

The audience watches SarahAnne as she stares in incredulity at the complete desolation around her, her body suddenly lethargic in its movements, her expression shocked..

No…” she whispers. “Not again...She takes a few steps forward before collapsing onto her knees, tears pouring down unbidden. Around her, all the things that she had sworn to protect are now burning, crushed and destroyed. The arena had fallen to the ground, temples that had once been the sight of awe now lay broken. She looks skyward and finds Never More laughing in the distance.