Chapter 1

It is believed that power has existed for as long as life itself in the three realms.  Before written language there were paintings and murals of people using expressions in Neera. Thousand-year old songs referencing powers are still sung in Olympus.  Even older are structures and monuments experts believe were created using expressions scattered around Keelta.  The story of expressions and powers are inseparable from the story of life in the three realms.

Power is a phenomenon unique to the three realms of Keelta, Neera and Olympus.  It can be harnessed by living creatures and those with will can control it.  Power can be expressed in many different ways, but it was quickly discovered that it has a natural connection to emotions and the elements within the realms.  This complex interplay was studied and eventually distilled into what it now called the Cycle. 

The Cycle is usually depicted as 3 concentric circles, or rings, divided into 10 parts each. Powers that oppose each other are adjacent within the same ring and those that are complementary are adjacent within a slice. Mapping these interactions would have been far more difficult, if not impossible, without the god powers.

Nearly every living thing has some connection with the powers, but it was discovered in the first age that there existed higher powers: the gods powers. Instead of drawing power from one’s personal connection to emotions or elements the god powers serve as an endless font of power for its wielder. 

A normal person may tire after teleporting several times, having exhausted their connection to Chaos and Order. The god of Chaos, however, can teleport as often as they want for as long as they want as long as they hold the power.  They are limited only by their skill and resolve.

God powers are endless, but people are not.  God powers can be traded, given, and in some cases stolen. The powers themselves are capable of choosing wielders. When released a god power will travel until it finds a new wielder. No one really knows what causes a god power to choose someone, but the most popular theory is that the powers seek out individuals that embody the power. 

Despite all these various methods of transfer, the post prevalent method remains the simplest: death.  For reasons still not fully understood, if a god is killed their power will automatically go to their killer.

God powers also have some awareness of other powers. It has been confirmed by many gods that they can not only detect the presence of god powers close to their own in the Cycle, but they feel a distinct discomfort when in the presence of an opposite power.

The distinction of opposite and complimentary powers was actually determined by recording and interpreting the interactions of gods with one another.  Corobod the curious was conducting a test when he inadvertently stumbled upon the most important characteristic of opposing powers.

Corobod, god of Electricity at the time, and Cedan, the god of Wind, decided to disregard the pain felt when being near one another and attempted to hold both powers at once.  Corobod volunteered to test.  Upon receiving Wind from Cedan, Corobod immediately died, having been torn apart by the violent reaction of the opposing god powers.  However, Cedan was Corobod’s killer.  Upon Corobod’s death Cedan received both powers himself and also promptly died.

Their sacrifice did yield one additional insight about the gods powers: what happens when there is no killer for the power to go to. After the unfortunate deaths of Corobod and Cedan both powers fled and sought out new wielders.

Most know that killing a god will reward you with their power, but gods are beyond dangerous. History is littered with tales of gods leveling mountains, destroying armies and conquering nations. Even if an individual managed to kill a god and take their power they would have to contend with the other gods, who tend to look down upon murdering their kind for powers.  Zeus and Zena, current rules of Olympus and Neera respectively, are known for being particularly vindictive to anyone who targets gods. 

With powers, gods and the cycle defined one can finally begin to contemplate the history of the realms. Any starting point would be insufficient to cover the breadth of history.  The story of Rago Kon fascinates listeners to this day.  The story of Crehmas and Paour is considered by some to be the most appropriate place to begin.  Others would argue the modern age is most influenced by the rise of Zeus and Zena, despite there being very little information about it.  However, if you wish to understand the current age there can be only one beginning: Nordath’s war. 

***

All of the priests and priestesses stood anxiously in the antechamber of the temple of Vit’fae. Lord Varenbond had finally stepped out of the council chambers. A few short years ago this ceremony would have looked very different. Tapestries of vibrant pink would have adorned the rafters, muses would be playing throughout the halls and the celebration would have carried on well into the next day. 

Today’s ceremony would be different. No tapestries were hung, the halls were silent and every eligible attendant stood quiet and reserved. The Silver Skull Society was not in attendance. Instead there was only one representative. Garnet approached the podium to explain what everyone already knew.

“Thank you all for being here,” he took a long pause. “We have many reasons to be sad. Much has been lost in the war and much of it will not be recovered. But life must go on. Our victories mean nothing if we focus only what we’ve lost.” He took another long pause.

“As you all know, it is the responsibility of the Silver Skull Society to decide a new god of Vit’fae. I am now it’s soul representative. I considered nominating a candidate myself, but I am unfamiliar with your temple and your ways. I have thought about this carefully and I decided to leave the decision to Lord Varenbond.” He gestured to his side as Varenbond took a clumsy bow. Muted applause followed.

Varenbond was the high priest of Vit’fae. By taking an oath to never hold the god power himself he was granted a higher position in the temple, it’s curator and deciding authority over its priests and acolytes. He made his way to the podium as Garnet respectfully stepped aside.

“Thank you, thank you” Varenbond held his hands outwards and motioned them down as if telling a rowdy crowd to quiet down, despite there being barely 30 people in the room. “I am Lord Varenbond,” not only had Garnet just introduced him, but most of these people interacted with him on a daily basis. “Garnet has entrusted me with the responsibility of nominating the next god of Vit’fae”.

Most in the audience rolled their eyes, but one woman did not.  Angelica Turner, daughter of local architect mogul Donovan Turner, watched him like a predator. She never broke eye contact with Varenbond as he spoke. She had been sleeping with him for the last year and a half. Technically this was forbidden by the temple, but she didn’t care. She had been working on this plan since the last god of Vit’fae died in Nordath’s war.

She knew that when the war was over a new god would have to be chosen and there was no longer a Silver Skull Society to choose it. She knew Varenbond would be the most influential ally she could have when the time came. The time had finally come. She was ready to collect on her investment.

Her peers focused on becoming more in tune with the power, assuming they would have to prove themselves to Garnet when the war was over. Everyone hated Varenbond, even Angelica, but she swallowed her pride and feigned seduction. Making a connection with a narcissist is easy; you just talk about them.

Still, she was taking an enormous risk. If Varenbond failed to be predictable today her chances of getting the power would be gone and she would have wasted the last 18 months pretending to enjoy his company. All she could do was hope.

“After much deliberation I have come to a decision!” Varenbond shouted dramatically, flailing one arm in the air. This was it, Angelica’s life was about to change regardless of what he said next. Varenbond caught Angelica’s eye one last time. She licked her lips; she could play him like a fiddle.

“Our next god of Vit’fae is,” he paused for an excruciating amount of time, “Angelica Turner!”

Angelica burst into tears, partly to appear more grateful than she was and partly due to genuine emotions. There were whispers of confusion. For most at the temple she wasn’t even in the top 5 most qualified candidates. Everyone knew she was close to Varenbond, but no one expected that to influence his decision. Some considered challenging his decision, but with Garnet standing next to him it just seemed hopeless.

Angelica rushed to the podium, took a knee and began reciting the oath without prompting.

“I promise to uphold the ideals of Vit’fae, protect her people and prosper her temple. I will guard this power with my life and,” she hesitated. The next part of the oath was a statement pledging allegiance to the Silver Skull Society. She wasn’t sure whether to include it or not. She decided to skip it. “And to gracefully conduct myself with the respect owed to this great honor.” She held her breath. The next step was to receive the power.

Varenbond had planned more to say, but Angelica had rushed straight into the oath. He’d have to skip is poem recitation to stay on track now. He reluctantly took the Deshtue jar and handed it to Angelica. She opened it like it contained the last drinkable water on the entire planet. A bright pink orb shot out and landed in her chest. Pink light erupted from the transfer and briefly filled the entire room.

She stood motionless for a few moments, physically overwhelmed by the power. She felt more alive than she ever had before. Merely breathing felt like a new experience. Garnet walked over to congratulate her. He extended a hand and she instinctively placed hers inside. As they shook hands Garnet said something quietly to her, so the other guests wouldn’t hear.

“I think you forgot part of the oath,” he noticed the section she skipped.

“Oh did I? I was so nervous,” Angelica feigned an apologetic tone. Garnet wasn’t buying it.

“You could always swear loyalty to the Silver Skull Society now,” Garnet offered.

“But there is no society to swear loyalty to, Lord Gemmatose.” She said in her softest, sweetest tone. She was lovely and her upbringing in Quell made her a master of social interactions.

“I’m still here,” Garnet reminded her that the society wasn’t completely gone and that as long as he drew breath there would be oversight of her actions.

“You’re right, how could I be so callous?” She embraced him with an unexpected hug. Garnet let very few people hug him. Fewer attempted without permission, but they were usually close friends or family. She was a stranger. The hug came and went so quickly he had no time to object. In his momentary stupor she approached the edge of the stage to address the crowd.

“Lord Garnet is the last representative of the Silver Skull Society. This temple has always been an ally of the society and I vow now to honor that alliance. We shall help in whatever capacity we can to rebuild the society and our homeland. I want to thank him for his sacrifice and for his presence here today. To Garnet!” She took a step back so she was adjacent to Garnet and began clapping. Everyone else began clapping too.

Garnet gave a humble nod to acknowledge the praise and Angelica’s clever distraction. He addressed the crowd once more before leaving the chapel.

“Thank you, this was won with cooperation and trust. Gods, soldiers, friends and ordinary people came together to ensure the protection of our home. We must not forget that we did this together. Now is not the time for selfish ambitions. We must offer a hand to those who cannot stand themselves. I look forward to working with this temple.” He glanced back once more at Angelica. She smiled a wicked smile. There was a time that not trusting the god of Vit’fae would have scared Garnet, but not anymore. If she became a problem he’d be back.

Everyone parted as Garnet left the chapel. Some began to follow him out, but they were instructed to stay as Angelica called.

“If I could have everyone’s attention,” Garnet paid her no mind. “I would like to thank you all for your friendship and patience throughout the years.” This was a threat. The other acolytes hated her. They knew she slept with Varenbond to gain his favor. She was manipulative and cunning. She was a pariah within the temple and now she was its undisputed ruler. Most of them briefly considered whether she was about to execute them.

“I would like to start by announcing some changes. First, you may all refer to me as Your Highness, Your Majesty, My Goddess, Queen of Vit’fae or by my new name: Dawnturner”

***

Garnet did not attend every new god anointing ceremony. He was more concerned with attending those in Keelta than Neera and Olympus. He incorrectly assumed that he would have little interaction with the gods of the sister realms. As a result, he missed the induction of two of the most influential gods of the post-war era.

Seth and Kala were crowned on the same day at the same time on opposite sides of the realm. It is believed that the temples of Chaos and Order are antipodal, on literal opposite points of the planet. Order was a meritocracy, the most skilled and attuned priestess was rewarded for her devotion to order with the power. Chaos had a lottery. Seth was lucky enough to have the winning number.

Despite having never met, the two of them gave eerily similar speeches upon receiving the power. Garnet wouldn’t meet them in person for many years. By then it would be far too late.