Back to Contests
TitleThe Death of Vortex
UserAfrit
RankingWinner
Post Date (Visible)August 2020
Content
The Death of Vortex

15 METHRIL 535

THE HOUSE OF PROPHETS PREDICTS THE UNPREDICTABLE!

AN UNPRECEDENTED DEVELOPMENT FOR THE MODERN WORLD!

OUR SONG HAS RETURNED!

"The power of Fatalism has truly blessed us," commented the High Prophet. "The Song of Creation has been sang anew, and with it comes a wealth of possibilities. In addition to revitalization of the lands outside the Basin of Life, we here in Magnagora believe that the Song will gradually begin to empower the Most Holy Supernals and the Holy Emanations, perhaps allowing us to undertake a new..."

And then the news was ripped out of my hands.

"Only you would be caught here in the library, reading what everyone already knows instead of going out to celebrate," a wry voice chided. My eyes began to focus, and I gave Masasathi my most withering look. But he was already turned away, using my own candle to light the rest of the torches, banishing my coveted  darkness. And, of course, he put the candle on one of the sandstone shelves, way too close to some of the older scrolls, and out of my reach.

Not uncommon behavior for Masasathi. This was his way unique, if pushy way of telling me to get out and about.

"Can't you feel it?" he asks, turning back to me, and holding out a scaled hand. I took it wordlessly, standing up from my workspace - a simple desk and chair -and nodding. There was an electric feeling in the air, everywhere you stood. A near-constant hum. The dust and ash that always bobbed through the library seemed to have a special life, moving as if caught in a dance. Some people were already putting down their arms and started seeking ways to capture the Song themselves - the most sensitive among us were calling themselves "bards".

Not Masasathi, though. He still had his jadeforged scimitars strapped to his back, and was walking around in his Templar regalia. Just the sight of that soothed away the irritation I had with him just moments earlier. At least he was staying the same.

"I-" and then I descended into a coughing fit, not realizing just how dry my mouth was! How long had it been since I last spoke to anyone? Huffing out a plume of smoke, I tried again. "Of course I feel it. That's why I'm here," I replied, gesturing around. "I wanted to see what we've got on the Song of Creation...and it's not much. So I decided I'd just go over the news again, and see what I could pick up."

"Since they kicked you out of the House of Prophets, right?" he teased.

"Since I'm not allowed to peruse their archives anymore, yes," I replied, glaring at Masa once more. The fire wasn't even my fault! He knew that.

"San, come with me. Today isn't a studying day. It's a partying day!" he insisted, pulling me close. "Pull up those robes and come dance with us," he declared. I looked up at him, studying his face, from his bronze-hued eyes to his emerald-scaled snout. Masa really thought he had a smooth machismo vibe going, but I knew better. He was nervous, his toothy smile just a tad too strained. I nodded to him tentatively, taking his other hand. I was too.

So we went to the Palace of Pleasure, and we danced in the dying heat of dusk. We drank. We played, and we kept each other close that night. Drained from the night's adventures, he was fast asleep...but I was, of course, brooding as I laid against his muscled chest. Why did this all feel so strange? Why wasn't I...happy? By all intents and purposes, I should be just as pleased as anyone that this truly Divine gift has returned to us...but all I felt instead was an intense foreboding in my heart that clutched at me even as I finally surrendered to rest.


---------


I woke up with Sanro at my neck, his claws biting into my scales. Surprisingly, not the first time this has happened. But this time I could tell he was still asleep, and his lithe digits had next to no force behind them. It was when they started heating up and leaking sparks that they'd be a problem!

Luckily for me, there was no pyromantic activity in those claws. He must have been reaching for something in his dreams. Maybe he was dreaming of me. I wouldn't blame him. There was a reflective surface above our place of rest - probably some crazy depraved drac had installed it for us Palace goers. I took the time to admire myself fully, but eventually my eyes fell upon the black-scaled Sanro, my brother-in-arms. There was nothing we couldn't face and triumph against, together. Between my blades and his pyromancies, we were unstoppable.

Which was great, because all this Song of Creation business was ticking off warning signs in my head. The Magnagorans and the Imperials were just all too happy to accept the one single thing that would continue the growth of their Supernals and Emanations. The Song would strengthen their Light. But what about everyone else? If I'm reading it right, -everything- is set to change because of this Song. And since -everything- is going to change, there are going to be some unforeseen consequences. Unforeseen consequences are almost always bad. It doesn't take a genius like Sanro to figure that out.

Speaking of him, he was starting to wake up finally! His idle scratching at my neck was now an active pushing against my chest. "Masasathi. Let go, you fool," he growled. Oops. I must've started squeezing him that whole time. I released him, getting to my feet in a smooth motion and began dressing for the day, as did he. In no time at all, we were back out in the streets, heading for the Great Pyramid. The Song was all around us with that relentless hum, and the myriad coloured silks and jewelled wares of the bazaar were sharper than ever before as we passed by. Was it because the Song was strengthening the Sun, too? Blegh.

As always, I led and he followed in my great shadow. Force of habit, I suppose. The consistent tapping of his basalt staff behind me was a great comfort. And I think he knew that too. Despite his tacit nature, Sanro was a thoughtful lizard, and despite sometimes being as friendly as a cactus, he loved me as much as I loved him.

"Had any revelations yet?" I rumbled, still making our way through.

"No."

"Still working on 'em?"

"Yes."

"Thinking about picking up one of those new "mandolins" the artisans are selling now?"

"No." Phew. Didn't have to worry about him trying to mess with the Song himself.

"Where are you going to go next, San?"

"Fire." Well, that was surprising. I figured he'd be going to Hallifax or Celest, to scour the libraries there. Or at least try to, anyway.

"Aha. Finally going on that date with a flame hog, huh?" I joked, as we walked up the stairs. Using my tail, I aimed for my shadow and gave Sanro a nice shoulder-check. Peering over my own shoulder, I watched him nearly take a tumble, and basked in his red-eyed glare as he straightened his obsidian-flecked robes. So dramatic.

"No, Masasathi. I'm going to meditate," he replied irritably. Blegh, that took forever. "Hey, are you sure? We might be needed here in the city," I chanced, hoping he would stay. But instead he was silent, already looking towards the towering Eternal Flame. "With the Song returning and all that, we might need to look our best for the next few days. And you know we're worth practically half of the Gaudiguch militia." Still not talking. "So if you leave on one of your adventures, that's basically the whole city militia only running at seventy-five percent," I continued confidently. Appeals of logic always worked best for Sanro.

Instead of a reply, though, I felt a cool hand take hold of my own. Immediately I turned to attend to Sanro, and he was looking up at me calmly. "It's going to be okay, Masasathi. There's probably nothing wrong," he said. "That's why I'm going to Fire to meditate, instead of sneaking my way into some library, or going out into the wilderness to search for clues," he continued, his burning red eyes upon me. I couldn't help but smile at his sincerity. Sanro wasn't much of a talker, but that very fact made his words all the more precious.

When we finally arrived at the Flame, there was a gathering of many dracnari. They all appeared to be focused on some commotion a ways apart from the nexus. Sanro took his opportunity, smoothly exiting my shadow and laying a scaled hand upon the Flame. Turning back towards me, he flashed a flaming glyph at me with his free hand: Safe. I nodded, and he departed, appearing to merge with the Eternal Flame like a ribbon of black flame. Satisfied, I turned back to the crowd, using my superior height to peer over at the strange sight unfolding before me.


----


"Make way for the Iborchi colossus!" some dracnari called, and the crowd whooped and hollered as I pushed my way to the center of all the ruckus. "Watch out for his shadow," another cried, followed by good-natured laughter. But it became clear that something odd was afoot once I got a better look. Everyone seemed to be gathered around a hooded Illuminatus, who was apparently failing to hide their entourage of fleshbeasts. I could only see part of their snout, but that was enough to see that their teeth were gritted in concentration, trying to tame their loyal creatures.

Not so loyal, apparently. The battle of wills ensuing between the Illum and their pets was almost visible to the naked eye. It looked like they were about to wrest control back, until their hekoskeri popped up behind them seemingly out of nowhere and gave them several slaps to the back of their head. I drew one of my blades, starting to make for the offending fleshbeast. "What are you, cursed with disloyalty?" I boomed. "No!" replied the Illuminatus in a strained, feathery voice. "I...don't...know what's happening," they said. Even as they - probably she, by the sound of their voice - began to recover, their fleshbeasts were making for the Eternal Flame desperately, the sludgeworm leaving a nasty trail and the spix floating far above everyone's heads. I tried to get in their way, but there were too many people, and they were far too clever for their own good - outmaneuvering me before I could capture them. The gathered dracs were startled to see a cavalcade of fleshcrafts running, floating and oozing towards them, and they cried out and began to move aside en masse.

One by one, they immolated themselves in the Flame, the spix and sludgeworm followed closely by the morrible and the offending hekoskeri. As suddenly as the commotion had begun, so did it end quickly in a pile of ashes. Bizarre. If only Sanro were here, that damned asocial lizard! Now I have to be the one that investigates. But by the time I turned around and pushed back through the crowd, the Illuminatus had disappeared. I caught the barest glimpse of a robed drac heading towards the Flame, and I cursed myself for allowing that Illum to evade me so easily. Exhaling a gout of flame and a growl, I charged through the crowd, sheathing my scimitar as I went so that I could use both arms to shove people out of the way. Just as she touched the Flame, I caught up and laid a hand on her shoulder, and together we travelled to Vortex, where she had intended to abscond.

"Let me go," she demanded. I refused, only strengthening my grip. But even that wouldn't hold her - with a resentful mutter she pulled herself free with a sickening squelch, leaving me holding a lump of excess flesh and sinew. Not at all harmed, she sprinted away, disappearing into a random fold of flesh before I could pursue. I sighed, planting my hands on my hips. Damn Sanro's meditations, I needed him here, because here was definitely weirding me out.

Much more than usual, I mean. The constant pulse of life in Vortex seemed off...the fleshy surroundings were much more active, much more sticky and undulating in ecstatic waves. Vortex always reminded me of some giant organism, and it was almost like it was suffering from a fever. I stepped away from the Flame into the Vortex Falls, drawing both my blades now, resolving to find that Illum later. The whole thing was like a fleshy cliff, down which a cascade of half-liquid flesh ran down endlessly. If you climbed down far enough, one would eventually find themselves right next to the valve that led to the Eternal Flame again. Bah, this is why I chose to be a Templar.

Right away I knew my suspicions were correct. The legendary Vortex Falls had slowed down to a trickle, and the area was unnaturally cold. Where there was once a frothy foam of pink viscera, there was only a pitiful tributary of flesh. The whole place was deserted - I couldn't even spot a fleshbeast from my vantage point. So I began to explore, heading down the Falls and calling out for someone. The Illuminati were famously protective of their secrets, and no doubt there were patrols to keep even nosy Templars from uncovering too much information. But I failed to raise any alarm.

I came across the first valve - one that led to the Fleshpot of Bahlik. If there were organs in Vortex, this one was the stomach. Maybe the plane had a belly ache. As I stepped through, I noticed that the valve was stretching vertically, and actually kind of stiff to the touch. The skin beneath my feet gave way as always, but the last time I was here I sank to my ankles with each step. Now the skin and fat was tight and supple, and I only left slight indents which quickly repaired themselves.

The Fleshpot of Bahlik was definitely in dire straits. Whereas there was usually a pool of blood and digestive juices, denoting where the pot had sunk into the ground, there was naught but a pitifully dry ulcer that quivered, contracting painfully. What the frag was going on here? ...Was it the Song of Creation?

Just thinking about it made my head spin, and suddenly I felt the Song all around me, filling my ears with something incomprehensibly Divine. For a few brief moments, I knew all would be well, and I was shown visions of a beautiful and healed world. The entirety of Vortex responded gleefully, the walls tightening and the flesh blackening, becoming petrified for a few moments before relaxing and turning pink once more. Released from the surging Song, I shook my head clean of the tranquility that was forced upon me, cursing the ubiquitous hum that I was now aware of. I had to get out of here, quick!

Emerging from Bahlik's valve, I started clambering back up the Vortex Falls, when I heard a piercing shriek, feathery and distressed. It was that Illum! I raced towards the sound, forgetting my plan of escape as my instinct to defend came over me. What I came across was disturbing - a petrified statue in the form of a hooded dracnari, their mouth caught in a rictus of fear. And not far from this edifice were two similar shapes, which were surrounded by their cowering fleshbeasts that seemed to slowly sinking into the voracious, fleshy floor. They were unresponsive though as I approached, their hands outstretched towards each other, their flesh like pristine black glass.

Whatever was happening to Vortex was affecting the Illuminati too. Of course. Especially the ones that practically lived here, they had such a close connection with the plane. There was no helping these dracs. I didn't even know if they were still alive. I said my goodbyes, whatever they were worth, and ran for the Flame. The valve leading out to safety was stretched painfully thin, yawning in an almost rectangular shape at this point, and quickly turning black. The pulse of Vortex was slowing down rapidly, and the temperature was dropping fast. That's not right. I'm moving -towards- the Eternal Flame. Things should be heating up! But as I approached, I could see the Flame dwindling, the mighty column of fire starting to shrink away. I pushed myself, I really did, my claws scratching now against a stony surface instead of thunking into a fleshy floor. But as I leaped forward to try and secure my freedom, the Eternal Flame dried up and left only a smoldering hemispherical pit, which I fell into.

All was silent, except for the Song of Creation. No longer was there a pulse, no longer were there the glorps and rude noises of Vortex. I didn't know what was happening, so I stood up and climbed up the lip of the pit. Falling back on my training, I stood at attention, straining my aetheric communication skills to their limit to try and call for help. But I was cut off. All I could do was wait. As my scales began to shimmer and darken, and my muscles began to freeze, I shifted my attention to sending out the widest net I could, aiming for Sanro on Fire. To let him know my love, just in case this was the end.

---

I left Masasathi, opening the way to Fire so that I might step upon the black sands once more. It's not that I wanted to be apart from him, so much as I needed to reconcile with the strange times we were sure to enter. The blessed heat, the whirlwinds of fire. These were the things that would set my mind at ease, and leave me sharp so that I could continue my duties with Masa. To the very edge of the inferno fields I went, ready to begin my ritual. Inhaling deeply, I blew flames at some black sand I'd gathered, heating it to a molten white liquid. Blasting away impurities, what eventually congealed was a platform of beautiful pyroglass, my specialty. It took the shape of a makeshift raft, which is exactly what I wanted. Under the roiling red sky I pushed my raft into a sea of bubbling lava, and stepped upon it myself, settling into a cross-legged position. I cut off my aetheric connections, ready to be alone.

It would take all my prowess to focus on not letting the raft sink or melt, and meet an untimely end in the endless sea of pyroclastic lava. Good. That what I wanted - a reason to shut everything out and focus simply on my survival, until even that became second nature and my mind would empty. I closed my eyes, and began to drift, both mentally and physically. The only sounds I would hear would be the searing hiss of flames and the boiling rock right underneath me. Even the Song of Creation was but a whisper here - evidently the Elemental Plane of Fire was beneath its grand design...which was, of course, a strange inconsistency. Nothing so powerful should be weaker in some places and stronger in others. I wondered if the other Elemental planes were being treated the same way.

My sense of time deteriorated as I fasted upon Fire, with only a small waterskin to sate my thirst. The inferno plains and the Five Sacred Flames were on the brink of my horizon - even the Fire plane had its boundaries, I suppose. All these considerations faded though as time went on. The constant channel of power overrode my senses, as I carefully kept my platform intact.

Quiet.

Alone.

Warm.

Power.

Quiet, alone, warm, power.

Nothing. Serenity...perhaps Enlightenment.

I love you, Sanro.

What? I nearly fell over, face first into the boiling sea. I quickly stood, righting myself with some desperate footwork. My vision was terribly blurred, and the heat waves weren't helping. Mustering my strength, I blasted two streams of flame from my hands, the deadly whoosh of dire pyromancy filling my ears now, propelling me and my raft back towards the inferno fields. Masasathi was meticulous about not bothering me when I was meditating. Especially not with some sentimental, trite foolishness. But that voice, it could only have been his, delivered ever-so-slowly through the bond we shared. I blinked tears and sweat from my eyes as I practically launched myself from the edge of the inferno fields towards the Eternal Flame, leaving my bubbling pyroglass to merge back with the landscape.

The Eternal Flame was not as it should be! The column of mighty flame was bulged out comically in the middle, assuming some kind of ambitious vase design. It was acting like it had been stoppered in the top. Well, I was no planar physicist, but every soldier knows that the Eternal Flame pierces both the Elemental Plane of Fire and Vortex. It was still here, manifested in Fire. That means it was still okay on Prime too. So there was something wrong in Vortex? Where were my fellow pyromancers? Ahh, there. I could see them now. I ran to approach them, breathless and afraid.

"It's Sanro, the Shade!" one of the novices cried out. I pursed my lips and composed myself. What a silly title. My superiors raised their hooded eyes. "Sanro Tliwx is here," one of them murmured.

"Where did he come from?!" the Sage Dlacha Rhiero asked. She was one of the few dracnari that met my height, thank goodness. Being towered over by strangers had lost its charm a long time ago. Crushed emeralds graced her celadon cheekbones, and she had a look of genuine concern on her face.

"Doesn't matter, we have enough now," replied Chonai Xiim. He was older, practically about to retire, but his wisdom was great. Like the Illuminati, he preferred to let as little of himself show as possible. The symbol of his office, an obsidian pendant, was wrapped around his fingers which sparked with anticipation.

"Indeed. We need to hurry - the Flame might begin to backfire into the city," replied the Archmage with a calm urgency. Unlike Xiim, her hood was lowered, revealing charismatic features, including lush emerald scales and bronze eyes. She was built like an Iborchi, to be sure, but rather than lean into her martial blood she studied Pyromancy just like all of us. Mesuma always made me uncomfortable. Her resemblance to Masasathi was too great.

"Since you're the last one here, Sanro, you're the one that's going to go," she explained cheerfully.

"What? Where? What's happening?" My voice was a rasp, courtesy of my isolation.

"We're going to use our links with the Eternal Flame to jettison you all the way to Vortex! You are tasked with re-igniting the nexus there so that the city isn't burned out by backfire," the Archmage replied with a more sober expression. "While I'm sure a nexus exploding would be a fine sight...we don't want it to be -our- nexus."

"Can you handle i-"

"Yes! Send me now!" I snapped. What a waste of time!

"Go!" I exclaimed, motioning to the Flame. My superiors looked at each other awkwardly, then nodded. They pointed me to an intricate glyph drawn in the black sands surrounding the Eternal Flame and began to organize what few pyromancers were there. I held my hand to the Flame and prayed to the Light, like some idiot Imperial, while my brethren began their incantation. As soon as I linked up with the other Pyromancers, I felt my form vanishing on the planar pathways, leading up and up and up until there was only blackness.

---

Something in the distance was calling my name. Sanro. Sanro the Shade. Get up. You are needed. Won't you wake up, my Sanro?

With a panicked inhale, as if filling my lungs for the very first time in an eon, I woke, my body chilled to the bone. Blackness was all around. Was I still unconscious? No. White flames began to illuminate the chamber I was in, burning from carefully wrought braziers, revealing black, rune-scrawled walls. The floor, too, was solid, and warped with eerie swirls. My eyes began to adjust. This wasn't Vortex. This -was not- Vortex. I stood up blearily, gazing around, but the white flames that gave blessed light were selfish, only illuminating some parts o the huge chamber I was in. I stood warily, taking one step at a time in this alien place, my jaw wide open in amazement. What was this? Were my brethren truly so stupid as to somehow push me into an unknown plane? Where--

And then I fell into a pit. Smooth and symmetrical, it was perfectly hidden in the shadows and recesses of this chamber. I cursed loudly, summoning my staff in a burst of flames to get myself up, but when my palms touched the bottom of the pit - I felt it. Soothing warmth that chased away the bitter cold. It was the Eternal Flame! It was here, yearning to be freed into this place. I was about to cheer, when I saw him above.

Masasathi! Oh gods, he was here. I scrambled up the lip of the pit, embracing him. Shame flooded through me as I realized I'd forgotten about him, even if only briefly. But he wasn't responsive. In fact, he was cold, just like the rest of this godforsaken place. No. No, I would not accept this!

He was petrified, writ in stone by some merciless sculptor! I held him tight, and wept openly. What happened? What happened to my Masa? I couldn't leave him like this. I wouldn't leave him like this. I would drag his giant form down to Gaudiguch if I had to! I tugged experimentally, but he was fused to the floor. What cruel fate! Who was responsible for this? I would incinerate them! I would melt their flesh from their vile bones!

Sanro! The voice echoed from everywhere, and it sounded like more than one person calling my name.

It's so cold, Sanro. You will bring illumination to all.

My eyes suddenly sharpened, and I saw more around me. I charged towards a towering marble archway in the distance, launching myself into the void, trailing skittering embers of pure frustration. Strangely, it took me a long time to fall back down after my leap. Outside the chamber that held Masasathi, there was a stone cliff that stretched endlessly up and down, filled with holes that led to even more blackness. I could hear the sound of running water, but I saw nothing, and save for a few white flames coursing through the sky, there was nothing to see, nothing to witness. Only the barest clues that this was once Vortex remained.

"Sanro!" cried a voice behind me, sounding as both a man and woman at the same time, their voices conflicting in a subtle disharmony. What I beheld when I turned around very nearly petrified me in the same way Masasathi was. I could feel my scales turning stiff. I could hear my pulse slowing as this monstrosity manifested before me. Thousands of eyes on thin nerve stalks were staring down at me, and if it weren't for my useless limbs I think I might be clawing my own eyes out. They stared at me, watching me, drinking in the sight with their collection of eyes, like macabre grapes hanging off of fleshy stems. Every race and more was represented. Every iris color accounted for. Ghastly. Disgusting. Wrapped in a ragged excuse for a robe, it shifted from side to side.

"My Sanro," the creature called, with no visible mouth to speak of. Its dual voice was resounding in my head, filling it with inquiry and darkness. It was about to snuff out my flame. I was sure to perish here--

The creature's eyes suddenly erupted with bolts of shadow, and robbed me of my sight once more. I endured, trying to move, trying to escape.

And then it happened. Understanding. Serenity. The darkness flooding into me was not darkness at all, but something called antilight. This place was still Vortex, and yet not at all. This being was not my enemy, but my teacher. "What is this?" I cried in horror, tears flowing down my face again, as my mind was forced to know what was not supposed to be known.

The eyestalks parted, and an obsidian mask peeked through the forest of nerves. It was unadorned, possessing two slits for eyes and two slits for a mouth, set in a somehow sardonic grin. "I am the First Cipher," it intoned. "Born from your Fleshpots, I live. You will enact my will, and accelerate my growth as dictated by the Song."

"But know that you are not a simple pawn. My power, I share with you, and those whom you anoint." Two eyestalks pointed in the distance, and with my sharpened gaze I saw them - Illuminati in stone, just like Masasathi. "Go and claim your followers, Sanro. My Shade. The secrets of the world are yours to unveil." It cackled, chillingly, and its raw power revealed itself as it shook through the plane. "Oh, and one more thing."

The First Cipher touched my arm, and with an agonizing psychic cut, destroyed my link to the Plane of Fire. My staff disappeared in a gout of smoke, and I was driven to the floor, holding my stomach in pain. I would never again be a Pyromancer.

But a new power bubbled within me. The cosmic antilight of the realm - which I could now see clearly, running down the new Falls - blanketed me and picked me up on its own, settling me on my feet. Thus I became the first student of Enigmatics. A long staff appeared in my arms, made of a warped black metal that was strung with dissonant chimes. My body was my own again, though it felt like a gauntlet of black stone was fused to my right arm. When I looked up, the First Cipher was gone, but I could feel its presence in the ever-present shadows, watching greedily for what I would do next.

I stumbled over to the two trapped Illuminati, and spotted a third not too far away. With my new gauntlet, I placed my hand upon their chests. A sharp crack shot through the aether, and they were free. Free to clutch their heads in agony as antilight flooded into their psyche. I couldn't stop to help them any further, reaching for the final Illuminatus in my sight to break her free before running as fast as I could back to Masasathi's chamber.

His salvation was near! I was going to get him back. I knew he wasn't dead. I reached toward his hands, which were folded behind his back in eternal attention. And with another crack, the black stone encasing him was blown away, revealing a gasping Masasathi. Not being very attuned to magic, he was only groaning in physical pain rather than being treated to antilight. But he was not confused. He turned around to embrace me, and I embraced him. I looked up at him, and was shocked to feel a rush of information - his secrets were bleeding out to me! Perhaps another facet of Enigmatics? I couldn't parse through the flood, so I turned away.

But he held me close nonetheless. "Well done, San," he said, squeezing me tight. Oh, the relief I felt almost knocked me off my feet. My pure exhaustion was starting to catch up, and fast. But I had just one more thing to do.

"Masasathi, step back," I commanded. Reaching out to one of the white flames illuminating the chamber, I summoned it towards me - not nearly as easily as I could've with Pyromancy, but it was cosmic fire anyway. Holding it aloft, blessed antilight leaking from my fingertips, I threw it into the pit, and the Eternal Flame burst into life, bring with it light, warmth, and colour.

The plane responded as if giving a great sigh, the chills beginning to fade away. It would no longer be Vortex, but it would still be tied to Gaudiguch and its people.

Thus was the Cosmic Plane of Secrets born, Apocrypha.

TO BE CONTINUED

---