Masks & Daggers (An Immortal Champions Saga Short) (The Immortal Champions Saga)

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Next, the Galaxy Rangers regrouped on a Liner. Galaxy Red looked to the sky and placed his hand near his mouthpiece while calling out. The Rangers leapt onto their Star Beasts as the five creature stomped into battle. Energy struck the daggers and flowed across the five beasts. The Star Beasts transformed into mystical suits of armor as the Rangers dropped down into their cockpits. The zords rushed forward, their bodies shifting and changing as the five combined into one armored warrior. The Ninja Rangers stepped up next and readied their scrolls.

They opened the scrolls, each scroll bearing the symbol of their individual Ninjazord. The symbols on their scrolls glowed and projected behind the Rangers before forming the mighty Ninjazords. The Ninjazords combined into one giant warrior and landed on the ground below. The NinjaMegazord leapt up as the falcon connected onto its back. The Zeo Rangers activated their communicators. The Rangers leapt into the air while their zords stomped through the streets. The zords activated their retrieval programs, and the Rangers teleported into their cockpits in streams of multi-colored energy. The Rangers activated their combination program, and the five zords combined.

The Rangers joined in their central cockpit. Back on the Go-Liner, Astro Red activated his communicator. The ship underwent a modular transformation into a warrior robo that flew down from the skies. The Astro Rangers took off on their Cyber Sliders and joined in the cockpit. Then Time Red activated his communicator.

The droid activated his transceiver. The five zords streaked through, swooping down into the atmosphere. The Time Rangers leapt onto the Flier. The Flier carried them over their five Time Jets, traveling at frightful speeds. Time Red and the others jumped off the Time Flier and fell into their cockpits. The Time Jets stayed in tight formation and flew across the streets. Each zord started to reassemble and combine into a giant, red-armored zord.

The 3-D formation completed as the Rangers activated their zord: The Time Rangers reached forward and grabbed the Lancers. On the Liner, Time Fire looked towards the distance and raised his morpher closer to his mouth piece. V-Rex roared as it charged onto the scene. Then the Turbo Rangers activated their helmet communicators. The five Turbo zords rolled across the streets towards the Go-Liner. The Turbo Rangers slid into their cockpits and inserted their keys into their control panels.

The zords changed shape and combined into a giant robo that rose to its feet. The five armored beasts streaked down from the skies in beams of light. They took shape, resembling giant animals covered in armor. The Kirin and Lion landed on the ground and charged forward. Red Dragon, the Phoenix, and winged Tenma flew through the air above. The five zords pulsed with energy and combined. The Lion formed the lower body and legs, and the Phoenix attached to the back of the Megazord as its wings extended outward and grew razor sharp.

Red armor flashed and covered most of the zord. The zord spread its wings and hovered above the ground as the Power Rangers joined in the cockpit. MegaThunderzord zoomed towards the Mogralord. The zord slashed downward with its lightning whip, but the demon lord grabbed the weapon in its jaws. Mogralord snapped his head backward and tossed the zord through the air.

MegaThunderzord went crashing through a series of buildings, sending rubble and debris showering across the already decimated streets. Kirin Ranger steadied himself on his control sphere. Dragon Ranger opened a comm line to the others. The rest of you, hit him with long range attacks. Within the cockpit of the ZeoMegazord, Zeoblue shifted his chair to the forward station. Zeoblue activated the weapon. ZeoMegazord leaned forward and launched a stream of triangle-shaped gravity blasts.

The blasts splashed across Mogralord with tremendous force. The demon king struggled and quickly started breaking the energy beams. AstroMegazord hovered above the streets and aimed its massive cannon downward towards the villain. A massive beam of yellow energy poured forward and streamed towards the demon. GalaxyMegazord armed the Condor and aimed the Star Beast forward. The condor shrieked and fired a shining pulse blast.

The beam and howling blast exploded harmlessly against the Mogralord with a massive shockwave that shook the ground and thundered through the air. Mogralord narrowed its eyes at the ZeoMegazord. ZeoMegazord crashed against the ground and went skidding backward, ripping up the streets below.

Explosions sparked on the console in front of Zeoblue. MegaThunderzord took off to the skies while the Mogralord howled, sending magma blasts that exploded across the streets at random with a fiery storm of destruction. MegaThunderzord led an attack dive towards Mogralord. The Kirin arm extended forward and launched flares of space-disruption energy towards the demon. The wings spread, and the Isis eyes launched twin beams of spiraling fiery energy. The missile salvo hit next, exploding across the Mogralord. While the explosions tore against the demon, the other zords hit hard.

LightspeedMegazord armed its cannons. Time-Force Megazord Alpha swooped into the air. The Time Jets detached and twirled through the air before uniting in a new formation. Time-Force Megazord Beta fired high-speed energy pulses that exploded against Mogralord before he could recover. The massive V-Rex stomped forward as Time Fire stood on top of the mechanical beast. Spears of red energy exploded against the demon and tore at its molten flesh. Pyramidus fired a bolt of golden lightning that tore through the streets while moving towards its opponent, Predazord fired its howling blast with a blue flash of speed and strength, AstroMegazord fired another blast from its beam cannon, GalaxyMegazord let loose with another howling blast, ZeoMegazord opened fire with jagged blasts of energy from its green power helmet, and TurboMegazord launched a salvo of artillery power.

The combined blasts exploded against Mogralord and ignited with a massive explosion that lit the night skies with a blinding radiance. The heat and destruction tore more than five city blocks as flames erupted and decimated everything. The light dimmed, leaving only flickering flames for illumination. The unharmed Mogralord lifted his head from the blaze and howled into the crimson night. Turbo Blue shook his head. Turbo Red tightened his grip on the controls. The zord spun forward towards Mogralord while extending its energized saber. Mogralord whipped its tail forward and swatted the spinning zord away like a bug.

MegaThunderzord crackled with energy as it flew forward. The Megazord transformed into a sparking silver and golden suit of armor. Mogralord pounced forward and tackled against the Paladin. A blur of motion slammed against Mogralord, pushing the demon backward and sending him exploding through a nearby building.

It was the ShogunMegazord, which had used its powerful arms to push the demon away. Mogralord quickly returned to its legs and leaned forward. Bony spikes of fire shot from its back and exploded against ShogunMegazord. The massive zord toppled backward, spikes ripped through its left shoulder, and its arm tore off.

Predazord charged forward while extending its alligator spear. The spear spun like a drill as blue energy crackled around the weapon. Gao Silver aimed towards the heart of the beast. Mogralord snapped out its tail and swatted Gao Hunter away like a bug. The Predazord crashed through a building, crashed against the streets, and skid backward. Gao King stepped forward, and the Gao Rangers quickly transferred into the Megazord. The energy beams combined into a massive wave of power that tore across the streets, ripping a path of destruction towards the Mogralord.

The wave smashed against the Mogralord, but poured around the villain like a roaring river around a boulder. Turbo Red rolled his eyes. Could you take us seriously for once, jerk? The TurboMegazord rolled back and disassembled into its individual zords. The Rangers hopped from their cockpits and landed between two demolished buildings. Zeoyellow armed her blaster. The Yellow Ranger fired lances of red energy that exploded through the side of the wall.

The Yellow Ranger looked to the Turbos. Turbo Red gave her a weak, mock salute. The Galaxy Rangers and Zeo Rangers entered the passage and moved beneath the streets, leaving the Turbos behind. A blade suddenly buzzed through the air like a helicopter propeller and slashed past the Rangers with bursts of spark, whipping them off their feet and sending them flying through the air.

Turbo Red crashed through a second-story window and rolled across the floor of what used to be a computer lab. Wires and data chips hung from the ceilings and cluttered the room, in between piles of smashed computers and desks. Tessai lifted his blade. Or are you so stupid, that I have to resort to threats? Tessai snapped his blade through the air, and Red Racer barely managed to dive aside and the weapon buzzed past his helmet.

Quantum Ranger looked to his zord. V-Rex shifted shape as it rose up, assuming a humanoid warrior form. The zord had a massive right fist and a revolving missile cannon in place of its left fist. The missiles exploded against the Mogralord with massive bursts of smoke and flame. The V-Rex fist energized and shot forward. The fist exploded against the demon monarch, who was barely effected by the impact.

Time Fire looked to his zord. V-Rex crashed on top of an already war-torn building that crushed beneath its weight. Close in on the place as planned. The NinjaMegazord swooped past the Mogralord and flew towards the temple in the distance. Mogralord turned to attack the fleeting zords, but MegaThunderzord in Paladin mode swooped down to stop the villain. Mogralord caught the blade with his teeth and snapped his head back, throwing the Megazord through the air. Jaguar Undead kicked the Rider in the side of the leg, and Black Sun dropped against the train.

A group of Wraiths immediately pounced onto Black Sun and started clawing at his armor with bursts of spark. Black Sun reached up, grabbed two soldiers by the by the heads, and bashed their skulls together. The Rider flipped up while smashing a kick across two Wraiths, knocking them backward. Jaguar Undead quickly pounced behind Black Sun and slashed the Rider across the back, armor sparking on impact and knocking the Rider against the Liner. Nearby, Ryuuki and Kuuga snapped sidekicks at Bat Undead. But the villain snapped its wings to knock their legs away. Dragonfly Undead grabbed the Guyver by throat and shot into the air, flying towards the heart of the city while carrying the Guyver in a choke hold.

Dragonfly dropped the Guyver into the midst of an endless group of Shades that stretched as far as he could see. The Guyver activated his arm blades and spun past five Shades while tearing open their guts. The soldiers kept pouring against the Guyver. For every Shade he knocked down, a dozen more charged at him. Kuuga leapt through the air with a flying kick that smashed Jaguar Undead off of Black Sun. Kamen Rider Kuuga swung a cross punch that smashed across the villain's head. The Rider followed with a flurry of punches that pounded against the villain's gut and a sidekick to the chest.

The blows forced Jaguar Undead back, but the villain crouched down, spun, and slashed its claws across Kuuga's legs with a burst of spark. The strike knocked Kuuga off his feet, but the Rider quickly flipped back up and smashed a kick across the villain's head. Jaguar Undead stumbled backward. Black Sun leapt onto Kuuga's shoulders and pushed off while somersaulting through the air towards Jaguar Undead. The Rider's legs glowed with bright crimson power. The energized drop smashed against Jaguar Undead's chest plating. Black Sun landed, but before he could attack again, a group of Shades swarmed around him and clawed against his armor with bursts of spark.

Kamen Rider Black twisted a grunt into an armlock and smashed that soldier against another Shade. Meanwhile, Bat Undead smashed a flying tackle against Ryuuki, and the opponents tumbled through the air before crashing against the streets below. They landed in a demolished plaza at the base of a museum that had been torn in half. Smashed cars and debris littered the ground. On the Liner, Kuuga looked to Black Sun. Jaguar Undead and a group of Shades followed the two heroes downward. The virtual heroes had leapt off the Go-Liner and onto the war-torn city streets amidst collapsed skyscrapers and buildings.

Seemingly endless swarms of Shades and grunts poured fourth from every crack in the debris and charged at the heroes. Nova White armed her blaster and spun around while firing lances of energy that exploded through Shades with bursts of spark. But her blasts could not keep the villains back long enough.

The virtual warrior started chopping through grunts left and right while his blade tore open their bodies with bursts of spark. Nearby, Nova Black and Galavan stood side-by-side and looked to the temple in the distance. An endless wall of Shades blocked their path to the structure. So the two virtual warriors pulled out the big guns. The virtual bazooka materialized over his shoulder and aimed forward. A cannon appeared over his right shoulder. The two warriors opened fire with thundering blasts. Blinding waves of white light shot from the cannons and stretched across the cityscape while vaporizing dozens and hundreds of Shades.

Shades slowly spilled into their path and dashed towards the heroes to attack. The Lightspeed Rangers leapt from the cockpit seconds before the entire zord exploded into pieces. Scraps of fiery shrapnel shot through the air and exploded against the ground while tearing through blankets of grunts. The Lightspeed team landed next to a burning piece of zord armor, and grunts shrieked at the tops of their demonic lungs while scattering closer to the Rangers. The Lightspeed Rangers stood in a U-shaped formation and opened fire with beams of energy at the approaching grunts.

Energy blasts punctured through the soldiers with bursts of spark, knocking them backward. The Rangers intensified their fire, but more grunts started to pour towards them. A wall of grunts slammed against the Rangers, who fought back hard. Rescue Blue stood back-to-back with the Red Ranger and hacked away at every Shade that moved to close. Rescue Yellow tossed his Lancer aside in favor of his Rescue Baton. About Shades leapt from the rooftops and landed near the Lightspeed Rangers. Rescue Pink turned and fire her Rescue Blaster at the soldiers.

Lances of red energy exploded against the Shades, tearing through their ranks as they charged forward. The Pink Ranger switched her weapon to Baton mode as the villains moved closer. The massive Mogralord started biting and clawing away at the zord, ripping it to shreds with razor-sharp teeth and claws. Time Fire fell off his zord and crashed against the pavement below. The Quantum Ranger was at the center of what used to be a highly decorate plaza. Pavement and dirt were tore up. Fallen columns of marble were scattered across the ground amidst piles of rubble. And a fountain was gutted in half.

An army of shades poured down what used to be amphitheater steps and charged towards the red-armored Ranger. Time Fire swung his DV-Defender at the grunts and triggered lances of red energy that exploded against them with bursts of spark. The Shades moved closer, and Time Fire leapt onto the side of a fallen, tilted column. The Quantum Ranger switched his weapon to blade mode, and Shades leapt onto the column to attack. The MegaThunderzord fired a bolt of blue energy from its silver blade. The blast exploded around Mogralord with massive bursts of spark and flame.

The giant demon howled in annoyance and spat a stream of fire at the Paladin. The MegaThunderzord climbed and banked to avoid the demonic fire stream. Meanwhile, the IsisMegazord swooped down to attack. The MegaWildzord and Predazord charged side-by-side towards the demon monarch from below. IsisMegazord disconnected the armadillo zord, which rolled into a ball and charged with fiery energy.

Gao Icarus kicked the armadillo from the air, and the small zord shot downward like a fiery missile that exploded against the Mogralord. Gao Silver thrust his hands forward from within his cockpit. The blast howled as it rushed forward with a brilliant flash of power. Gao White looked to Gao Red. The Soul Bird detached and flew towards the heart of the city. The Red Ranger placed his hands over the control spheres in front of him. The energy beams combined into a massive wave of power that tore across the streets and exploded against the Mogralord. Gao Hunter fell back, and Gao Silver leapt from his zord and onto the Soul Bird as it charged towards the demon palace in the distance.

Gao Yellow looked to his teammate. The Soul Bird streaked towards the palace at high speed. Bolts of purple lightning shot from the skies and exploded against the Soul Bird.

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The zord tipped over, and the Rangers plummeted downward through the air. The Rangers crashed against the ground, and the Shades pounced at the fallen Rangers like a whirlwind of claws and nails. Gao Black flipped to his feet, grabbed two Shades by the heads, and smashed their faces together. Nearby, Gao Blue powered up his arm blades and spun like a tornado, his weapons sparking through grunts that surrounded him.

Nolan stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and faced outward towards the reflection pool. He summed his saber with a flash of energy. Nolan held tightly onto his cloak with his left hand, and held his saber with his right hand. The warrior narrowed his eyes at the swarm of Shades charging towards him. The Shades charged up the steps at Nolan. The warrior twirled his blade in a butterfly pattern, hacking open a group of the demon warriors. Nolan moved down a step and spun forward, slamming a spin kick against a Shade, and sending that grunt tumbling down the steps.

Countless Shades surrounded the heroes. Hawkeye fired a volley of arrows that exploded amidst a group of Shades. The blasts tore through several of the grunts and ripped them to shreds. Vision and Scarlet Witch blasted any grunt that came close. But before long, the soldiers overpowered the team and pounced on them, claws sparking their armor. Rescue Red, Rescue Blue, and the Guyver smashed through a wall, and with a shower of debris, crashed into a demolished subway tunnel. The subway train had slid partway onto the platform and looked like Shades had gutted it.

The three heroes rolled into crouched fighting stances. They looked up to see the Capricorn Undead step through the opening and onto the platform. The villain hissed and hurled a crescent shaped blade at the heroes. The blades slashed across Rescue Red and Rescue Blue with bursts of spark. Rescue Red and Rescue Blue rolled back to their feet nearby. The Blue Ranger looked to his leader.

More than a leader…my best friend…my brother. The Blue Ranger spun and slashed the monster back again. Rescue Blue crashed inside the train. Capricorn Undead stalked towards the subway train, but Rescue Red and the Guyver moved to block his path. The Undead moved towards the subway and tore off a piece of its side before stepping in.

The villain turned towards the fallen Blue Ranger and lifted its blade. Rescue Blue pounced to his feet, despite his pain and fatigue. The Blue Ranger swung his V-Lancer towards the villain, but Capricorn Undead blocked the blow and slashed Rescue Blue across the chest with a burst of spark. Rescue Blue crashed against the subway tunnel and slammed down against the tracks.

Capricorn stepped out of the subway train, lifted it, and hurled it at the fallen Blue Ranger. Their attack pattern seemed somewhat chaotic and rushed, but it served its purpose: A small park nestled in the middle of a city block several miles away from the temple. The dead trees in the park were black and twisted, and the grass was dry and brown. The demolished city was visible in every direction.

Ninjayellow slashed his sword through a Shade, blade ripping through the grunt with a burst of spark and drawing black ichor from the wound. The Yellow Ranger stepped back into a defensive stance and looked over his shoulder. Ninjayellow spotted a wave of fresh enemies emerge from the dead trees that surrounded them. The Soul Hunters came from one side.

From another side came a group of Undead monsters: Ninjayellow looked to Ninjawhite. Giraffe Undead extended his massive blades and fired bolts of golden energy that exploded against the heroes and tore through the remaining Shades. Ninjawhite rolled into a crouched position, and when she looked up, Hunter Knight was already swinging his blade towards her helmet. Ninjawhite knocked his blade aside and jumped up while slashing the villain across the chest. She slashed across his armor while landing and spun forward with her blade aimed towards his neck. But Hunter Knight parried the blow and smashed the pummel of his sword across her helmet.

He ran towards her aide, but Hunter Taiga and Hunter Viper blocked his path. The Yellow Ranger crashed to the ground and rolled back while pulling out his blaster. The Ranger fired lances of golden energy that Hunter Taiga merely reflected with his axe while he and Hunter Sting stalked forward. Ninjayellow rose to his feet. Giraffe Undead circled in behind the Ranger and slashed across his back with an x-shaped pattern that sparked on impact and sent the Ranger toppling forward across the ground.

Nearby, Cybertron squared off with Lizard Undead. The villain swung its tail. Cybertron ducked under the tail, moved in, and smashed a jump roundkick against the villain. The hero pressed forward with a knifehand chop against the neck and a reverse sidekick against the chest. Galavan leapt through the air to help his cybernetic cousin, but Hunter Viper suddenly launched a flying sidekick that smashed Galavan from the air. The virtual warrior landed back-first on the ground nearby, and Hunter Viper landed on his feet.

The Worldreaver Saga

The dark corridors of the Angel Grove Central shopping center were cluttered with broken glass, collapsed ceilings, and crumbled upper-floor balconies. An explosion tore open the side of the mall with a shockwave powerful enough to knock five Rangers inside: The Rangers crashed and tumbled across the floor.

The Wolf Undead and Lion Undead suddenly leapt from the shadows. The Lion Undead charged past Time Fire and Time Red and slashed them across their armor, blades sparking on impact and whipping the two Rangers back off their feet. Gao White swung her baton, while Tim Pink chopped down a vector saber. Lion Undead used his fist blades to knock the weapons away and thrash the two Rangers across the chest, knocking them backward. Meanwhile Wolf Undead pounced at Gao Silver. The Silver Ranger snapped a jump roundkick that Wolf Undead blocked.

Gao Silver hit the ground and immediately rolled into a crouched fighting stance. He dug his heels into the dirt and pounced forward like his namesake. The Silver Ranger dashed past Wolf Undead while slashing his claws across the villain. Gao Silver landed and dashed past the villain again, his claws sparking across Wolf Undead on impact. Gao Silver landed, turned, and leapt back towards Wolf Undead. Gao Silver landed while slashing his sword across the villain, blade sparking on impact. The Silver Ranger dashed past Wolf Undead and slashed it across the body with a burst of spark.

Wolf Undead stumbled backward and skid across the ground. The villain rolled to a halt and slowly climbed to his feet. Gao Silver switched his weapon to rifle mode. Wolf Undead fired a jagged burst of blue energy. Gao Silver dove over the energy burst and rolled across the ground. The Undead fired another jagged energy burst. Gao Silver leaned back and let the burst pass by him. He leaned forward and triggered a volley of pale-blue energy blasts that streaked through the air and peppered against Wolf Undead with massive bursts of sparks and explosions.

Wolf Undead stood his ground and fired another jagged stream of blue-tinted energy. Gao Silver dove and rolled aside as the blast sparked around him. The Silver Ranger sprang through the air and hovered past Wolf Undead while firing another volley of pale-blue energy lances. The hyphens of power exploded against Wolf Undead with massive sparks.

Gao Silver landed and switched his Lunar Cue back to staff mode. Gao Silver swung the weapon, emitting a wave of green energy that bound the monster in place and hung in midair like a table. The Silver Ranger placed his three animal crystals on the table and used the end of his staff to shoot them forward. The gems streaked back, and Gao Silver caught them. Smoke still rising from his body, Wolf Undead actually laughed and pulled himself to his feet.

Time Green and Time Yellow slowly climbed to their feet, but purple tendrils lashed out from the shadows and wrapped around their bodies. Time Yellow grabbed onto the tendrils and used his strength to pull Jellyfish Undead off its feet. The Yellow Ranger smashed a punch against the Undead and knocked it to the ground. Meanwhile, Astro Yellow rolled across the ground and rolled into a crouched fighting stance while facing Eagle Undead. But Eagle Undead used its claws to deflect the blasts back at her. The energy darts exploded against her armor with bursts of spark and knocked her off her feet.

Gao Black tackled a pair of Shades to the ground. The blast rings tore through a group of Shades with massive bursts of spark. The two Rangers rolled back to their feet while Mole Undead climbed from its hole. The mole smashed its weapons against the ground, producing a shockwave that tore across the street and exploded beneath Astro Pink and Gao Blue while hurling them into the air. Another monster, Buffalo Undead, appeared from the swarm of Shades. Gao Black and Buffalo Undead charged at each other like bulls and tackled against each other with a massive impact that shook the city streets.

They had quickly closed in on the structure while fighting continued to rage below. But a swarm of demonic hornets suddenly clouded the air and buzzed down towards the approaching Rangers. The heroes stopped on top of a building that had been torn in half. Gao Yellow armed his sword and trio of feather darts. Ninjablue nodded in agreement. The Blue Ninja Ranger referred to the Devil of Kimon who appeared to be a hunch-backed old man with a small staff. His hunched-back was actually a hive where he could produce thousands and thousands of demonic wasps. The wasps swarmed down and peppered against the Rangers with bursts of spark.

The Yellow Gao Ranger hurled his feather darts, and they exploded among the wasps with small bursts of flame that incinerated them. The Blue Ninja Ranger placed his hands together in a ninja pose. The wasps provided cover for a pair of monsters that leapt onto the damaged roof.

The creatures were Undead Peacock and Undead Centipede. Peacock Undead hurled a bolt of blue fire that exploded against Astro Silver and sent him flying backward. The Silver Ranger crashed through the wall of a nearby building and skid across the floor of a dark office that looked like a tornado had torn through it. The Undead leapt into the building and landed on the floor near Astro Silver. The Silver Ranger rose to his feet and armed his Silver Blazer in sword mode. Back on the neighboring roof, Centipede Undead tackled Rescue Yellow to the ground and slashed him across the chest.

Centipede Undead flipped through the air and landed in a crouched fighting stance. Ninjablue charged at the monster from the side. Let us remind this infant god what it means to be divine. Above the cacophony, the steely, calm voice of Miramar, the Even-handed, brought order to the fractious divinities' debate, and the voices of the gods began to subside to a low rumble.

Silence reigned over the lands for what seemed like hours, until it was finally broken by the voice of Agatheis. The skies above Achaea rippled and rolled with ominous thunder. The will of the gods was united in purpose. Ourania nodded and rose to her feet, her countenance stiffened with anger and grief. Drawing back her bow, the Goddess of the Moon nocked a silvery arrow into place and let it fly, and all watched as the arrow's trail left a path of quicksilver across the sky, leading directly to Krenindala.

Upon the glittering backdrop, six daunting figures joined Ourania in the firmament above Achaea. Forming the vanguard were Matsuhama and Aegis, their expressions resolute and weapons drawn. Flanking them on one side were Pentharian and Miramar, grim-faced and determined; opposite stood Daedalus and Pandora, an unlikely pairing that nevertheless instilled a rush of raw anticipation in the mortals below. Sharing a mutual glance and a solemn nod, Matsuhama and Aegis turned away, leading the deities toward the hostile landscape of Krenindala, bolstered by the confident encouragements of those who stayed behind.

Mere minutes passed before ormyrr warriors began to fall by the dozens to the indiscriminate assault of Matsuhama's deadly mace, and a hundred agonised roars resounded as the Lord of Valour laid waste to a contingent of the reptilian elite. Yet another legion of ormyrr fell, judged for their crimes by the Even-handed and undeserving of her mercy. In a cloud of confusion and gore, the monstrosities collided into one another as the young goddess slipped away, filling the air with peals of laughter.

As the gods struck onward in their quest, the God of War kept a keen eye on their progress. Pentharian, Matsuhama, harry their flank," shouted Aegis, slashing with one blade, then another, cutting down swathes of charging ormyrr. Silvery arrows rained all around, felling a score of Dala'myrr as Ourania vented her rage and sorrow upon her foes. Between the hail of deadly darts, Miramar spied covert movement. As the words of the Even-handed rang out, Pandora appeared behind the massive stone edifice and, with tremendous force, collapsed the tower, crushing the ormyrr who rallied within.

Peals of laughter drifted over the firmament as she delighted in her handiwork, but her glee was short-lived as her father's words roared caution. The gods continued their assault, but a glimpse of pristine white upon the ground caused Ourania to stop short. Renewed grief washed over the Goddess of the Moon in tumultuous waves as she knelt where her daughter had been so cruelly killed, struggled to steady herself. Daedalus, rushing to her side, placed a reassuring hand upon her shoulder.

Deep within the core of Krenindala, the Messenger lay chained and unmoving, his eyes vacant and desolate, staring bleakly at nothing. Pandora dropped to a knee and reached out with her silver hand to test the fetters, and in an instant was thrown by an excruciating bolt of lightning. As Pandora screamed in pain, Daedalus rushed to her side, giving the goddess a brief glance before charging ruthlessly toward the Dala'myrr who now stood between him and Hermes. With tremendous force he sent the wyrms spinning into the cold emptiness between the worlds, but when he reached Hermes, his concern grew exponentially, and with great care he examined the Messenger's bonds.

Slithering like a snake through the worlds, an eerie chuckle began to emanate from the darkest reaches of Krenindala, and Bal'met made his terrible presence known. With righteous fury Pentharian roared a challenge to Bal'met and his allies. You and your fog-addled masters. As if in response, the skies flashed with blinding aureate brilliance. With a cry Daedalus backed suddenly away from Hermes' prone form, horrified as the Messenger was illuminated from within by the blazing light.

Across the worlds came the piercing screeches of the Dala'myrr, and a terrible, driving rhythm pounded upon the heavens, growing steadily louder. Recognising the panic in Daedalus' voice, Aegis thundered a call to retreat. Time seemed to slow, moving at a sluggish pace as though willed by Aeon himself. With a deafening roar, a titanic wave of power ripped through Hermes from within, a shattering torrent that swept over Krenindala, snuffing the dwindling god like a flame, along with all other life upon the forlorn planet.

It carved away the interior of the world, leaving nothing but a shell behind, and though the gods leapt desperately toward Achaea, the blast was strong and fast, fuelled by the amplified might of Bal'met. Caught in the explosive force, Daedalus, Miramar, and Matsuhama all perished instantly, victim to the overwhelming haze of annihilation wrought by Bal'met's sinister workings. Gods and mortals alike stopped in their tracks, stunned at the sudden disaster, watching with mouths agape as a massive shockwave shook the heavens, radiating outward from the husk of Krenindala.

Three meteors screamed through the sky above Sapience, leaving a trail of fire in their wake, resolving into the battered forms of Pentharian, Pandora, and Aegis as they grew closer. With concussive force the three gods crashed to the ground, sending debris flying high into the air and raining down across the continents. A shining dome of protective magic formed above the Pillars of Heaven, accompanied by the reassuring lilt of a steady continuo as Scarlatti, the Great Bard filled the Garden of the Gods with a healing harmonic.

But as the gods gathered the wounded survivors to safety, the insidious rumble of dark laughter rolled across the firmament, and the visage of Bal'met rose with baleful intent above Achaea, more powerful than ever. As dawn broke in the early days of Sarapin, the voice of Han-Tolneth, long absent to grieve the loss of the white dragon Ashaxei, thundered across the lands with incomprehensible rage. The tumult drew both the compassionate and the curious to the lake within the Mhojave Desert, where the grieving Dragonmaster stood gazing into the waters above Ashaxei's Mirror.

In my head, and in the chamber below," he lamented, speaking of the tragic death of the white dragon. Dortheron Covraci lowered his eyes. Months earlier he had made attempts to console Han-Tolneth in his grief, but there was little news to gladden him today. Han-Tolneth glared about himself. It is true instead? Traelor frowned and nodded. As his companions began to speak of the holy shrines across the land that were slowly being corrupted by the workings of Mhaldor, the Dragonmaster's face grew dark. Heads nodded around him.

Han-Tolneth considered the possibility, for it was true that many had reported powerful new abilities when they came into possession of the primal embers. A part of the dragon soul. A power of creation, and of healing. Han-Tolneth creased his brow in a frown, intrigued by Enyd's suggestion, his mind working furiously for some solution. A murmur of assent rumbled through the group.

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Han-Tolneth glowered at the blasted remains of the Shrine of Ascension, looking with pure disgust on the metallic formation that now stood atop the mountain within the Siroccian range. Han-Tolneth reached out a hand, stopping inches from the shrine as he pulled away with a muttered curse. Many spoke up, first among them young Ysebelle Bravedale from Shallam. Han-Tolneth nodded, and motioned for her to stand beside him. Obediently holding forth the ember, Ysebelle took the glowing ember and pressed it against the surface of the befouled shrine.

As Ysebelle held still, the ember began to glow brightly, suffusing the mountaintop with a flash of light as it cleansed every spot of dark blight from the holy altar. Stepping back, she gasped in wonder. Before them now stood a humble shrine to Maya, the Great Mother, formed from smooth, dove-grey marble.

A palpable sense of relief washed over the group as hope was quickly rekindled. Han-Tolneth's mighty shoulders sagged, and he stepped back to allow Ysebelle to demonstrate to others how to draw upon the embers' cleansing power. Excitedly the group began to disperse, seeking the shrines of their patrons, but not before one determined individual overheard their conversation.

Dawn broke upon the world, and a shower of brilliant light cascaded across the skies, rippling through the clouds and banishing shadow from the heavens. As it bathed the world in holy light, the spectacle began to converge high above Sapience into a radiant sphere, and the magnificent form of Pentharian became manifest. Show yourselves," shouted the God of Righteousness.

Billowing up from the west of Sapience, a blood-red fog revealed the Twin Lords, Shaitan and Apollyon, standing together above the continent. Lightning and thunder flashed across the sky as Pentharian formed dual longswords of pure Light, grasping them in his mighty hands and roaring a challenge to the gods that faced him. Smirking, Shaitan inclined his massive head in assent, his curved horns dipping slightly as he turned and stalked away. Malice spread over the face of the Suffering God as a wicked lash formed in his hand, crackling with cobalt sparks.

Righteous fury enveloped the Lord of Valour, who, not deigning to answer, began a bold charge across the sky toward Apollyon. His opponent released a baleful laugh and readied himself, one dark eye glittering with anticipation, while the gem in his empty eye socket gleamed sanguine in the light of the approaching god. With a clap of thunder that shook the entire plane to its core, the two gods collided within the heavens.

Charging forward with shining blade outstretched, Pentharian made a direct attempt to impale the Suffering God. Apollyon struck out with his lash, grappling the sword and wrenching Pentharian's hand to the side, slyly drawing a curved kris from his robe. Nimbly jabbing upward, Apollyon met Pentharian's second thrust with his dagger, the blades sparking and screaming as they slid together.

A deafening clash resounded across the firmament as the crossguards met. Locked together upon the firmament, the two gods stared each other down, their wills in deadly opposition, sending wave after wave of tension to draw the world into its conflict. If only she were here to tell you what to do. For an instant, Apollyon's form shifted and revealed the shadow of Miramar, her face contorted in pain as she suffered her final moments.

A moment later the vision vanished, replaced by Apollyon's slow, mocking smile. Now it will fuel our victory and greatness! This can only be righted when Evil is forced from this world! Tearing his weapons away from Apollyon's hold, Pentharian brought forth a flurry of powerful strikes, each turned aside by the effortless motions of the Suffering God, whose dark chuckle began to resonate louder and louder.

Calling forth a billowing tempest of crimson fog, Apollyon hurled the storm toward Pentharian, blasting him backward in a haze of pure Evil. Grinning wickedly, Apollyon took the offensive, pressing toward the Champion of Good and Light. A clashing, clanging din deafened the world as he rained blow after blow upon Pentharian with his barbed lash, striking only the god's shining armour. Recovering from the vile red fog, Pentharian began to block the blows with his sword, dodging the rest, refusing the Suffering God further opportunity to land a successful strike.

The crimson gem in Apollyon's eye gleamed with outrage as his onslaught was foiled, and he summoned an oily cloud of smoke to surround him in a foul shield. Ducking and whirling about in place, Pentharian struck out with both swords, slicing through the insidious barrier. As his own swords struck each other, blistering rays of pristine Light flared outward, streaking toward Apollyon, who shrieked in euphoric agony as burning purity seared his immortal being.

Back and forth, the two gods traded blows upon the firmament. The howls of daemons and the jubilant cries of angels echoed from distant planes, clamouring to be heard by the duelling deities. Recklessly letting his guard down, the Suffering God allowed Pentharian to land a few glancing blows, hissing with rapturous torment.

You cannot hope to defeat a real god! Pentharian pressed onward, glowing in a blinding white nimbus of Light. But I am its guardian, and I will not see it perverted! The God of Valour struck again and again at Apollyon, his blows powerful and precise, his martial prowess unquestionable as he bore down upon his foe. In response, Apollyon began to summon wave after wave of crimson fog, surrounding himself in a perpetually regenerating shield, his wild, booming laughter echoing across land and sea.

The celestial duel seemed a stalemate, with Pentharian dauntlessly felling Apollyon's defences as quickly as they could be conjured. The world tensed in anticipation, awaiting with bated breath the next move of the gods. The Lord of Valour needs our strength! Within moments the murmur of whispering voices could be heard as the followers of Light, united in fervent purpose, began to pray. One by one, sinuous threads of light begin to drift upward from Shallam toward the heavens.

As the luminous crescendo of voices reached the Lord of Valour, he surged with the devotion of the Good and Righteous mortals below. Suddenly Pentharian roared out, the sound tearing across the planes, and delivered a mighty blow, striking down the defences of the Suffering God and shattering the kris in his hand. With a second shout of triumph, Pentharian drove his longsword up through Apollyon's gut. The blazing blade crackled and sizzled as it emerged from Apollyon's back.

The bewilderment upon Apollyon's face turned to abject horror, shadowed by the menacing rise of Pentharian's hand. Gritting his teeth, Pentharian placed his thumb upon the glowing red gem in Apollyon's eye socket and slowly began to push. Apollyon's limbs writhed and flailed in pain as Pentharian drove the glittering jewel further and further into his skull, but the shining Te'Serran kept a firm grip upon his longsword, holding it fast within the belly of the Suffering God. Ruthlessly did Pentharian shove the gem wholly beyond the eye of Apollyon, and a bloodcurdling scream shattered the skies.

With a look of disgust, the Lord of Valour wrenched his blade upward, gruesomely splitting the god from navel to skull. Blinding rays of light flared about the victor, and the limp form of Apollyon evaporated into an oily black cloud that hung heavily in the clouds. Chilling silence fell upon the world as, in that instant, the Suffering God fell, cut down at the last by Valour. The lull did not last long. Moments later, an enraged bellow erupted from Mhaldor, shaking land and sea with the fury of the Horned God at the death of his brother.

Wordlessly Pentharian pointed one gleaming sword in the direction of Mhaldor, then sheathed his weapons, turned his back on the lingering haze, and strode away from the battlefield. Looming upon the western horizon, crimson clouds rose again with the likeness of Shaitan, glaring with a livid expression at the fading image of Pentharian.

But as the dark cloud began to fall like rain upon the fog-laden isle west of the Vashnar Mountains, the God of Oppression's scowl became a cruel smirk, unnerving and ominous, before He, too, disappeared. Booming thunder echoed from the western isle where Mhaldor reigns, and the blood-red fog surrounding the city of Evil rose in clouds that ascended higher and higher into the heavens. Upon the sanguine tableau stood Shaitan, God of Oppression, reflected in unadulterated clarity, every muscle in his hulking form tensed, his fists clenching and unclenching as he suffered some bitter torment.

Sinuous coils of foul black vapour twisted and whipped through the fog, fermenting into a wild storm and scourging the God of Oppression, flaying the crimson of his skin like flesh from bone. Howled echoed from the depths of the Inferno as Shaitan gave a terrible bellow, and for a fleeting instant he was overcome by the chilling guise of the fallen god Apollyon. Relentlessly the fog itself tore at Shaitan, who roared across the skies with unhindered fury.

The preternatural storm above the western isle reached a frenzied climax, and tortuous thunder shook the firmament. With an earth-shattering cry, Shaitan clasped his hands to his horns, wrenching downward and doubling over, all colour draining from his form. Trembling, the clouds fled the sky, and all held their breath as the figure above the western horizon crouched, unmoving. Slowly the ashen figure rose, raising his baleful head to gaze upon the world with a cruel scowl.

Rumbling through the firmament, a voice uttered deep and low, "So have we endured. And so have we been made stronger. Achaeans gasped as one, their minds a mingled collection of disbelief, terror, and awe. Thousands of daemons howled and shrieked as Sartan, the Malevolent roared above the cacophony, "Hide while you can, Pentharian, for you and the cowards you indulge will be crushed under my heel like the worms you are! Deep within the Northreach, the god Lupus lay upon a stone bier, his wounds deep and long-lasting.

Teardrops dripped from her eyes without ceasing, her heartbreak evident to any who glimpsed her vigil within her lover's temple. On one such occasion she was joined by Greys Vorondil, a loyal and devoted atavian who had long been dedicated to her Order. Searching for a way to ease Selene's sorrow, he began to hum a tune. Low and soft, the wordless melody became a song that echoed, familiar and haunting, amidst the silent chamber. If the goddess was comforted in even some small part by his music, Greys would never know.

A frigid breeze stirred the air, briefly igniting an unnatural feeling of bitter hatred within him, a disturbing sensation that ruffled his wingfeathers. Selene glanced suspiciously around at the herself, moving closer to the slumbering form of Lupus with a troubled frown. At that moment entered a golden gryphon, the Lupine devotee Elianon astride its regal back. Immediately Elianon dismounted as he glimpsed Selene's perplexed expression, and all experienced an eerily quiet roll of thunder that rumbled through the chamber, turning to acrid laughter before fading away.

A long silence passed, and soon the menacing chuckle returned, heralding the terrible figure of Bal'met slowly fading into view.

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The god's eyes fixed upon Lupus as he slumbered, and Bal'met moved closer, intent on finishing what had begun months earlier upon Krenindala. Fury surged within the goddess as she leapt to her feet, placing herself between Bal'met and the slumbering god. Still Bal'met advanced, looming within the sanctum like a horrific shadow as Selene stared defiantly up at him. As Bal'met moved to brush her aside, Selene lunged out, shoving him away with all her might. As she made contact with the poisonous haze that surrounded him, however, she recoiled with a gasp, looking down at her hands in horror as they turned black as charred wood.

A seething hiss issued from Bal'met as he lashed out at Selene, flinging her effortlessly across the chamber where she hit the wall and crumpled to the floor. Turning slowly, Bal'met again laid his eyes upon Lupus as he slept. Unhurriedly gliding across the space between, he peered at the still face of the Wild God through the thick lattice of vines that shrouded him. In this time, the devoted followers of both Selene and Lupus continued to gather at the temple.

Powerless to attack the mighty god, they could only watch with mingled terror and rage as Bal'met gave a hateful chuckle and spreads his arms wide. Flames formed at his command, whirling and spinning about beneath his will like two great orbs. Bal'met hurled the orbs toward Lupus with a bold smirk, snarling with chagrin as, forceful and swift, a blinding white light suffused the chamber, turning Bal'met's own power back upon him.

The skies above Northreach burned with a lurid yellow hue as the blast radiated outward from the bier, followed by a deafening boom. The backlash of primordial power propelled Bal'met violently backwards, and he threw back his head to release an ear-splitting bellow that shook land, sea, and sky.

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As he howled, a movement on the opposite side of the chamber drew attention to Selene, who had recovered her composure and now stood, levelling the Crossbow of Heartbreak directly at Bal'met. Selene loosed an arrow with deadly precision, sending it to streak through the air with a sharp whistle.

The arrow struck true, piercing Bal'met through and through, and he let out a snarl of pain before rounding on the goddess. Almost instantly Bal'met was at the side of the Goddess of Love and Beauty, clasping her around the neck in his inescapable grasp. Desperately Selene tried to break free, but the grip of Bal'met was far too powerful. Slowly the layers of silk that shrouded her countenance begin to blacken at his touch, turning to ash and crumbling away.

Layer by layer the silk fell away, a macabre unveiling as Selene struggled in vain. Finally the last piece of silk crumbled, and her achingly beautiful face was revealed. The lovely eyes of the goddess turned to Lupus, shining with tears, her gaze lingering upon him even as her immortal life was slowly claimed by Bal'met. Finally, with a soft sigh, Selene closed her eyes and succumbed to her fate. As the weight of what had happened sunk into the hearts of the mortals standing near, Lupus shifted and growled in his sleep, but moments later he was once again still, slumbering deeply upon the mossy bier.

Leering at his victory, the terrible, indistinct figure of Bal'met slowly faded away, leaving behind only a dark, menacing chuckle. Clouds parted within the sky, and an immense arm of Yggdrasil can be seen stretching to the horizon, illusory yet very real. Upon that massive branch manifested the ancient figure of Agatheis, his robes billowing in the primordial winds that churn around the World Tree.

I grow tired of this charade. If you are so intent on ending Us, I will be claimed in the time and manner of my choosing. The air around the World Tree grew noxious and foul as Bal'met appeared in a haze of poisonous fumes. A palpable, seething wrongness crept through the ether, and Agatheis inclined his head at the looming god.

Greedily Bal'met stretched out an arm, rippling and shifting with boundless power, directing tendrils of black vapour to coalesce around Agatheis, and the Elemental Lord's form blurred and distorted. Suddenly, the earth trembled and heaved, and a primal gale whipped across the planes with wild abandon. Rich, red-orange fire erupted with a radiance that briefly dispelled all shadows, and the thundering crash of the surf broke loud as Agatheis summons the raw elements to his command.

Driving his staff firmly into the World Tree beneath his feet, Agatheis stood tall, his eyes cold with power and fury. Awash in power, the Elemental Lord extended his arm to ward off the squalid miasma that encroached upon him. Deafening roars rumbled across the firmament as Agatheis raised his staff, commanding the elements with supreme authority, and quickly vanished from sight.

Primal and terrible, a bellow of rage shook the world. The skies above the Pillars of Heaven grew dark, and an unnatural wind began to howl with unrestrained potency. Spears of black lightning formed at the behest of Bal'met, slicing through the clouds that obscured the mountain peaks to reveal the Garden of the Gods. Tendrils of oily fire swirled toward the Garden, veins of pulsing power that twisted and whirled about the seat of divine power. Relentlessly the monstrous storm battered the lofty peak, but the Garden remained untouched, shrouded by an aura of divine protection that resisted even the devastating power of Bal'met.

High upon the firmament, the tranquil Garden became filled with prismatic light, and six figures appeared: Shoulder to shoulder, the gods faced Bal'met in full battle regalia, their weapons ready and features set in grim resolve. Pentharian raised a sword of pure Light in challenge as Bal'met scowled across the heavens. The aberrant storm abated as Bal'met began to gather his power close, and the ephemeral ward that surrounded the Garden of the Gods faded away.

A deafening crack of thunder resounded as Artemis hurled a blinding bolt of lightning, tearing through the heavens to strike Bal'met. Bal'met swelled with scorn and rapacious hunger, becoming a great spear of destructive energy streaking through the sky toward the unprotected Garden, resolving as a billowing cloud before the six gods.

At the same moment Phaestus hefted his hammer high, slamming it upon the ground and striking a massive blow that shook the very earth. The Garden of the Gods shuddered and quaked, and a complex pattern of runes flared to life beneath the fluctuating form of Bal'met. Four spikes erupted from the ground, their polished surfaces etched with gleaming ancient runes, towering above Bal'met and turning with slow, immutable purpose. With a cacophonous groan the four pillars ground to a halt, their rune-etched faces turned inward toward Bal'met, whose vague outline sharpened in their midst.

Carefully and deliberately the gods surrounded the divine trap, and Ourania trained her bow upon Bal'met as he whirled about, apparently caught within. Mocking laughter scorched the heavens as the flames of Vengeance radiated outward from Mhaldor, along with the voice of Keresis, Goddess of Vengeance. Sanguine clouds billowed and rose above Baelgrim Fortress, uplifting three figures surrounded by a corona of necromantic power: Such delightful potential for sin, Pentharian. Bal'met must be put down like the dog he is!

Such a glorious world We will rule once We have achieved Dominion over all. As the words of the Demon Queen fade away, two more figures appear in the Garden of the Gods: Tarah's words echoed that of her sister, but continued to fall upon ears loathe to listen. We shall not endure it. A new challenge roared across the planes as Aegis, God of War, appeared among the rest of the figures in the garden. Beside him stood Pandemonium, God of Strife, ready to fight at his father's side. Eldritch fire bloomed overhead, and Babel, God of Oblivion, stepped through a rift in space to join the assembled immortals with an imperious frown.

Oblivion will come, and it will come on my terms, not yours. Snarling in rage, Sartan drew his swords, his dark eyes burning with bloodlust. To each side, Keresis and Indrani readied themselves for battle, and the three vanished in a gust of crimson fog, reappearing a moment later within the Garden of the Gods.

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Warcries shook heaven and earth as the immortals rushed together, meeting in a clash of supernatural might Battle raged within the Garden of the Gods, and the skies flashed as Artemis and Vastar released a volley of lightning bolts toward their enemies. Stepping before her allies, Indrani skilfully turned each bolt away with swift strokes of her eight Qithain scimitars. A cacophony of howls and shrieks rent the air, and what few clouds remained above the Pillars of Heaven dispersed as a swarm of daemons answered the call of Sartan, the Malevolent. Descending upon the battle, the daemons surged forward, and six fearsome dreadlords alit from their backs.

Following closely behind, a dozen Dala'myrr slithered sinuously through the firmament to circle above Bal'met. Pressing forward with the Sabre of Dawn held aloft, Mithraea cut down a swathe of daemons, leaving a carpet of crimson flesh in her wake. Melantha whirled her sickle about, searing the carapace of a Dala'myrr with a blast of verdant energy, sending it crashing to the ground.

Striking out with the Lash of Discipline, Keresis landed a well-timed blow upon Lady Sol, who roared in outrage but continued onward. Arcs of healing light streamed from Tarah's fingertips as she bolstered Mithraea's strength. Without missing a beat, the Lady of Vundamere raises a radiant shield around Aegis and Pandemonium, who move together through the horde. Giving a nod to the God of Strife, Vastar hurled a lightning bolt into a thick pack of daemons that swarmed near the Goddess of Sin.

The ground exploded beneath them, sending them flailing through the air, landing upon Sapience with savage screeches of ire.

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Caught off guard, Indrani quickly recovered her footing, whirling about to face Pandemonium, who had swiftly snuck up behind her. For too long have I been biding My time, watching You go unpunished for Your theft. Malice gleamed in the eyes of the God of Strife as He drew the links of a great chain through His hands, casually swinging the end, where a massive, spiked ball exudes a fiery glow.

Narrowing her eyes in contempt, the many-armed Goddess of Sin answered the God of Strife by brandishing her eight flashing scimitars, and the two began to circle one other with deadly intent. The God of Strife lets the head of His massive chain flail fall from its chain to His feet, then begins to swing it in a slow circle above His head.

Indrani cackled with confidence as she sliced away with her scimitars in a dizzying display of scintillating blades. Bearing quickly down upon Pandemonium, she lands the first strikes of Their deadly match, and the God of Strife howled in pain. Undaunted, Pandemonium danced out of the cloud of blades and struck out with the heavy, spiked head of his flail, catching Indrani's blades in the chain and abruptly halting her attack.

With a massive heave, Pandemonium wrenched the flail away, disarming the goddess completely as her swords fell from the heavens. Casting out with the spiked ball, he drove it into Indrani's stomach and tore it away with a vicious snarl. A blaze of flames erupted in its wake, searing Indrani from the inside out.

Staggering backward, Indrani clutched at her side with three hands and raised a single arm to point toward Pandemonium. Even now you surrender to the wrath you have embraced in the name of strife, and I grow more powerful yet. Pandemonium slows, His eyes growing unfocused as the handle of the flail fell from His grasp. As he swiped weakly at the empty sky, the Goddess of Sin stalked her prey like a stealthy panther. Tremble in terror of the truth, godling! Unsheathing a uniquely curved blade, she tenderly traced the tip of a serpentine kris along Pandemonium's jawline.

Suddenly Pandemonium grabbed the wrist holding the kris, snapping it with a powerful twist and causing Indrani to drop the dagger with a shriek of rage. Snatching up the falling dagger from Indrani's broken hand, Pandemonium swiftly turned and sliced through the Demon Queen's neck with a single, smooth stroke, lopping off her head. Pandemonium looked on with a slowly growing smile as the lifeless remains of the goddess fell to Sapience, erupting into scarlet flames. Lifting her dead-eyed to his own, Pandemonium whispered a quiet word that no mortal can hear before it, too, was overcome by fire.

Crimson light suffuses the skies as Keresis surges with strength, the act of divine Vengeance bolstering Her power. Scowling, Pandemonium takes up His mighty flail, swinging it above His head once more as He turns back to the battle. Havoc tore throughout the Garden, and the Goddesses of the Sun and Moon battled beside one another, felling Dala'myrr and dreadlord alike.

Ourania's silvery arrows sailed through the air, matched by flashes of gold as Mithraea's bright sabre sundered the attackers with searing flame. For a brief, desperate moment, the moon eclipsed the sun, cloaking the land in darkness. A second later the sun's shining corona surged with fierce brilliance, rekindling the light of day, and the two celestial bodies moved apart.

Ascending upon grey wings, the Skylord rose into the sky and outstretched his hands to gather stormclouds from the far reaches of the world. Below, the Goddess of the Cataclysm drew down the clouds, stirring them about herself into a violent and lethal cyclone. As she stood firm at the eye of the twisting gale, daemons around her were lifted into the air and flung from the bounds of the Garden.

An ominous chuckle rumbled across the world, striking terror into even the bravest of souls as, hurled from beyond the garden by an unknown assailant, an ephemeral lance of pure flame flew unerringly at Vastar, trailing sparks behind like a comet. The projectile struck the God of the Sky in the shoulder, whistling out his back and singeing his wings. Shocked, Vastar began to plummet like a stone to the garden far below.

The clouds thickened and frothed with the Skylord's fall, and the battle faded from mortal view with the coming storm. Clashes of metal and screams of pain and triumph reverberated through the heavens as the immortal battle raged back and forth, and a shout of anger pierced the clouds, suddenly cut short. Lightning relentlessly struck down upon the high places of the world, and the wind began to whip through the whispering trees of the forests.

The storm began to lose strength for a moment, and again the forms of the struggling deities became visible within the cloud-streaked firmament. Thunder boomed mercilessly throughout the world, and lightning scorched the heavens where the gods warred. Grim but resolved, the gods closed in on Sartan and his allies, victory in sight against the invaders who had violated the sanctity of their home. Tensions were high as the war between the gods wrecked havoc atop the Pillars of Heaven. Phaestus swung his mighty hammer against daemon after daemon, keeping a close eye on the trap he had wrought for Bal'met.

Meanwhile, Tarah divided her efforts between bolstering the gods' strength and shielding the wounded Skylord from further harm. But none were prepared for what would come next. As the name echoed upon the firmament, a massive, skeletal claw pierced the boundary between the planes, and a lurid portal opened in the heavens.

Yellowed bones and decaying sinew formed the gargantuan shape of a long-dead dragon. Fixing his empty gaze upon the Pillars of Heaven, Sycaerunax dove into the fray, tearing apart the prison that held Bal'met at bay. Then, with a forbidding cry of triumph, Bal'met vanished from sight, but his foul presence remained palpable among the warring gods. As clouds roiled and churned about the Garden of the Gods, glimpses of the frenzied battle were illuminated with scintillating flashes of lightning. Pitch-black and fearsome, the silhouette of Sycaerunax flashed upon the clouds, tearing savagely through the Garden with power equal to the gods themselves.

Pandemonium, locked in combat with Keresis, ducked to avoid a savage swipe of Sycaerunax's deadly claws. Seizing the opportunity, Keresis made her move, driving the Blade of the Dreadlord upward into his gut and ruthlessly disemboweling him. Warm sunlight blazed in the heavens and Mithraea charged toward Sycaerunax with her blade afire. Melantha followed at her side, radiant with vitality as she readied her sickle. Attacking together, Lady Sol and the Goddess of the Seasons struck with ruthless force at Sycaerunax.

A terrible bellow shook the world as the Father of Dragons snarled at the wounds, and he lashed out with untempered rage. Melantha screamed in agony as the claws of Sycaerunax pierced her immortal form, and a gasp passed through the forests as mortals watched her being tossed from the Garden like a rag doll. Moments later, Lady Sol too was caught by the dragon's mighty wrath, her immortal fire forever extinguished.

As the Goddess of the Sun fell, Pentharian cried out in anguish. His blades, summoned of pure Light, dimmed and falter in his grasp. Across the garden, Babel paused to observe the Lord of Valour, a look of deep contemplation mingled with disgust upon His features.

With a curt shout of warning, Babel hurled the Sword of Dunamis to Pentharian, whose surprise was matched only by his relief. The instant his hand closed around the sword's hilt, an aurulent fire courses down its haft, and Pentharian swung it with ease, splitting a dreadlord cleanly in twain. A malevolent laugh echoed across the Garden as Sartan turned his attention to the God of Righteousness. Raising the Sword of Dunamis like a shining beacon, Pentharian charges at Sartan, answering the challenge.

Their swords met with a crack of thunder, and the heroic battle between Good and Evil was magnified upon the firmament for all to see. Driving forward, Sartan advanced upon the Lord of Valour with swift and deadly slashes. Pentharian parries the attacks, returning powerful strikes of his own as the Malevolent God ducked and turned. Over and over the Gods traded blows, each gaining upon the other, only to be forced back, their resolve never failing.

Meanwhile the rest of the gods were being pushed back by the surmounting strength of Sycaerunax and Bal'met's forces. Side by side, Phaestus and Artemis cleared a path through the throng of daemons, soaking the soil of the Garden with poisonous blood. Conjuring images of beasts more fearsome than any of the daemons they face, Babel obscured the escape route, slipping away. Following suit, Ourania ducked behind the illusory cover, raining a steady shower of silver arrows upon the enemy as the Gods slowly retreat, but Pentharian remained engaged in close combat with Sartan. Fighting ferociously to the site where Vastar lay wounded, Aegis heroically dragged the Skylord back toward the others, deflecting attacks with his sword.

His keen eyes surveyed the battlefield, where a dark shadow was approaching the Lord of Valour from behind. In a blur of motion, Bal'met drove his arm through the Lord of Valour's armour, as easily as cutting through soft wax. Pentharian howled in pain, releasing his grip upon the Sword of Dunamis, but Bal'met quickly grasps the hilt, withdrawing it through Pentharian's back in a savage motion that shattered the god's breastplate.

As the blade passed through the Lord of Valour, it burned with holy flame, setting the skies afire with blinding light. Outraged, Bal'met hurled the sword away, and Pentharian fell to the ground. Streaking across the firmament as Pentharian perished was a trail of cerulean light, and the tear-streaked face of Tarah could be seen racing eastward, away from the Garden of the Gods, cradling the blazing Sword of Dunamis in her arms.

Unleashing a terrifying roar, the Sycaerunax took off after the fleeing goddess, his monstrous form quickly closing in on her lead. An immense shadow darkened the Shamtota Hills as Sycaerunax at last caught up with Tarah.