The Circle of the Deep wasted no time in shaping the Dreaming world to their whims.
Sciomore, the Logician, descended upon the city of Hallifax, immediately drawing the present citizenry to stand before him at the Matrix. The city and its people belonged to him, he declared. In response, the assembled Board members attempted to inure him to Hallifax’s legal system, which resulted in several citizens being vaporized by the massive clockwork being’s eye beam. With a reminder of the Collective’s newfound “loyalty”, Sciomore departed for the time being.
A handful of days later, following the murder of a Hallifaxian in the city limits by Frai, another of the Higher Gods, Sciomore ordered Hallifax into military action against Gaudiguch. Of the gathered citizens, Oberst Davos Pavok was the most vocal, attempting to dissuade the Logician from forcing the city into carrying out immediate action, while Temporal Primus Tekora Windwhisper-Pavok sought temporary appeasement and urged the gathered citizens into a short-lived assault upon the Plane of Fire. Following the engagement, Sciomore ordered Sealbearer Kiradawea Startail to deliver a set of weapon schematics that she had mentioned during the previous conversation.
The following month, the Logician appeared once more before Hallifax, gathering the citizens before him. With a mechanical flourish, he revealed a massive floating fortress and weapon, Project: Guardian, in the skies above crystal spires of the city. Declaring it the result of Kiradawea’s weapon design, Sciomore granted access to Project: Guardian to Hallifax, ordering a test firing upon Mount Zoaka. Hallifax complied, and was shocked by the scale of the Project’s destruction: Mount Zoaka was all but destroyed, the land remaining in its place nothing more than heaves of half-melted, sterilized rock; the weapon was more powerful than anyone in the city had imagined.
At this point, the people of Hallifax were growing more than weary with Sciomore’s influence over the city. The last straw came for them when the Logician ordered them to fire Project: Guardian a second time, this time upon the city of Gaudiguch itself. When refused repeatedly by Chairman Pejat Shevat, and with the Logician declared a Code Black Anomaly, Sciomore gave a final ultimatum: fire on Gaudiguch, or Sciomore would destroy Hallifax utterly. After interfacing with the city’s control systems, which he claimed were formed from his own essence by their Creator, Aelish, Sciomore initiated a countdown to the city’s destruction, to be canceled if and only if Project: Guardian was fired at Gaudiguch.
Following the ultimatum, Hallifax descended into chaos. Arguments erupted about the weapon, the morality of its use, the reaction of the rest of the Basin should it be used, Sciomore’s control over the city, and more. Unsuccessful attempts were made to fire Project: Guardian at Hallifax itself, to deny the Logician his sway over the city; and at other, uninhabited areas, in attempt to trigger the failsafe and prevent the city’s self-destruction. The city attempted to make use of a previous Code Yellow Anomaly sent to the city from the Dreaming in the past, but the device was destroyed by their efforts. Important citizens were evacuated from the city. Eventually, Chief Superintendent Entrias Pavok, using a clause from the Sentinels’ contract with Hallifax, declared martial law over the city and had the Company take command of the city from the Board of Directors. The city refused to fire upon Gaudiguch, however, and the deadline arrived.
After a final taunt from Sciomore, the alarms of the city blared with warnings of a containment breach, as the winds about Hallifax became first erratic and then grew in strength, developing into a veritable tempest tearing the city apart. Monstrous screams of pain and rage echoes throughout the basin amidst the storm. Eventually, the structural components anchoring the Matrix to the city were destroyed, and the Nexus of Power fell from the skies to the earth below. On contact, the Matrix released all of its stored power in a wave of annihilating energies, scouring the Basin of all life. As the mortal beings of the land were returned to life by the Fates, they were shocked at their newfound discovery: Hallifax had been destroyed in the Taint Wars by Emperor Ladantine, and the remaining Hallifaxians were but refugees of the fall of the City of Spires centuries ago. The city no longer in existence, the Sentinel Company severed its contract with the Beacon of Harmony, reclaiming the name of the Skylark Company and set off to find a new power to contract under.
Luella, the Lady of Flowers was quick to claim the Serenwilde Forest as her own. There she began a reign of sweetness that warred with feral passion; for Luella wished for nothing more than to have nature consume the whole world, returning it to how she believed it should be. Though dismissive of mortals, whom she saw as nothing other than animals, she was soft towards them and appeared to be understanding of their scepticism. Unlike the other Higher Gods, she was forthcoming about where she came from and what she wished…or at least, she gave them a story of sorts.
When Serenwilde called upon her to prove her worth, she visited the Tar Pits – Tainted land which was once part of the Serenwilde itself – and planted seeds of purity within the heart of that place so that it would be reborn with the seasons. But she was not wholly beneficent. When the forest challenged her lack of action against Serane, the Everlasting Beauty, Luella unleashed a choking wash of power and a horde of wolves upon the forest, before banishing mortals from it altogether.
But soon she was back to her soft, generous self: in a grand gesture of power she stopped the Wyrd’s power from sticking within the Glomdoring Forest; she created seed pods that could be used to produce carnivorous plants that some of the Serenwilde took to casting about the lands; and she promised to protect the centaurs of the Hifarae Hills that the mortals had been so concerned for.
Serane, the Everlasting Beauty, selected Glomdoring as her new home. Believing that beauty was a bounty granted by nature in finite amounts, she quickly sought to discover the potential of her new subjects and how devoted they were to ensuring that they reached that full potential.
But Glomdoring were fiercely loyal to their true patrons, and she was met with much consternation: indeed, many hurled insults both earned and childish at her, earning much of her ire in the first few days of her presence. Over time, however, the members of the commune began to take a different approach – ingratiating themselves to her such that they might more carefully plan a secret form of rebellion.
Thus settled, she was quick to seek out truly loyal followers and test their potential, spending much of her time meeting individually with her new subjects and coaxing them – some more easily than others – to devoting themselves to her and her new chapter for Glomdoring. With this support, she began to make larger gestures like the other Higher Gods – culminating in the Wyrding of the Hifarae Hills, rendering them so virulent with life that none could enter it as the hills teemed with new, verdant life.
It was fitting that the mysterious Frai, the Hooded One, should choose the city of freedom as her new home. But Frai descended into a Gaudiguch that was not welcoming; many of them being zealously loyal to their Elder God patrons, the citizens of Gaudiguch rose up in protest against their forced replacement. When an open revolt was attempted within the city, she cast them all from its borders for a short time so as to gain their obedience.
There were some, however, who proved of interest to Frai. She was largely a trusting and kind patron, answering more questions than some, and claiming to be removed from many of the rivalries that flourished amongst the rest of the Higher Gods. But her position as an observer could not prevent Gaudiguch from falling under the attention of Hallifax and Sciomore: and many in Gaudiguch wished to know what she would do in response to the destruction of Zoaka.
Though it proved ultimately needless, Frai raised a shield around Gaudiguch itself to protect the city. Whether or not this shield would have worked against the sky fortress, it will never be known; but it did something to placate her citizens, leading some to grant her a little more time and understanding. She proved particularly fond of whiskey, which endeared her to many.
The Iron God, Karagash, selected what he believed to be the strongest of the organisations: the city of Magnagora. Upon his arrival he immediately demanded to see the city’s strongest combatants and test their mettle against the other organisations, to ensure he had selected wisely.
The city promptly set about proving themselves in his hunting challenge, demonstrating not only their strength but their enthusiasm and skill. Favours were granted to those who claimed the victory, but this did not earn him the full support of the very sceptical and often seditious Magnagorans. Many of them were subject to the Iron God’s displeasure over the months of his reign as patron.
By way of a test of his subjects, Karagash unleashed a plague of rats upon the city, wishing to further prove their mettle in combat. Being benevolent, he also released the same plague upon New Celest, to appease those who had claimed that he had made no gestures comparable to the other Higher Gods. But many remained uncomfortable with Karagash’s devotion to Aelish, for it was at odds with Magnagora’s opposition of New Celest, and this amongst other things ensured that Karagash’s stay in Magnagora was a torrid one.
Towards the end of the Higher Gods reign, when the Elder Gods’ conclave was overhead and mortals were beginning to attempt to break into Nirvana, the Iron God proved to be as strong in his rage as he was physically, smashing his way through much of the Basin of Life in an anger-filled attempt to stop them from circumventing the Creator’s command – but to no avail.
Aelish, the Creator, chose New Celest as his new home. In the light of their Supernals and their faith, he saw kindred spirits and the potential for great power. He appeared to be a stern but goodly patron, who was comfortable in and used to a great degree of authority. Many mortals from all of the organisations were interested in him, for he did not hide that he was the leader of the Higher Gods – this fact causing some consternation amongst those who opposed New Celest.
In his majesty, Aelish cleansed the Sea of Despair of the Taint that had suffused it for so many years – a grand gesture that was met with the approval of his city and the consternation of Karagash’s. In response to Karagash’s rat plague, he created a divine broom that could rid the world of rats and other vermin, which made its way through several hands, even ending up with several people who simply did not realise the power of the item they had acquired.
He cast a shield of protection over the Inner Sea, ensuring that Sciomore and Kiradawea’s creation could not harm it, though he cautioned that Sciomore would never act against New Celest or its protected lands for he was the Creator and it was protected by his power. Those who questioned him or his strength were cut down with little care, though he was for much of the time a benevolent divinity.