After Orrencis had passed into the dank world known as The Void, he awaited in the darkness, experiencing it for what it was, no sound, no sight, no feeling, just being here for an hour made his mind weaken and twist. It was not long into this horrific abyss that Devin the Mighty made his first contact to the loyally awaiting Liaison.
Orrencis, I know this world is frightening, but you must stay strong, came the voice of his lord. Orrencis groped around in the blackness, half excepting to greet the presence of the one with whom he spoke. I gift to you the power for which a demigod would forge envy. Take charge of the Monoliths, make certain they cannot pry open The Gates, nor can they release demons from The Void. Now, have your hand at this task, you shall find accommodations at your whim.
Orrencis imagined his ideals, and in swirling mist, an acre of grassland appeared underfoot, flawless willows populous, a gentle breeze rolling over the mystical plane brought in pink and white petals and maple leaves that tumbled over the emerald-green grass. Orrencis took place below a tree as if nothing changed; wildflowers lay scattered all about the hilly plane, their smell just as enchanting as he did remember so well.
Using insight beyond mortal’s, he found the Monoliths living on a plane not so different from his own. With a silent hand, he snuffed out their powers, though they stirred not, they would soon know and it did not take long. From safety, Orrencis kept eye upon them and their every action, from the meager talks to their profane rituals. Each and every word went noted upon a parchment with his favorite quill, still shimmering its splendid silver.
His efforts exceeded the hopes of the gods, not only did Orrencis ebb away the might of the Monoliths, so too did he block all their demons from infiltrating the mortal realms.
Devin beamed from his seat in his room staring out his window at the clouds shifting as if The Annulment had never happened, time moving on, never waiting. He breathed in deeply and exhaled a heavy breath, beginning to stare down at the gleaming marble table, guilt suddenly dressing his mood in a dreary cloak. Shoulders slumped and head tilted down, shamed for all that he has done, and no tourniquet on the wound would make his mistakes disappear.
A month did pass and Orrencis became anxious, his parchment grew nearly fifty feet long to accommodate all that he had written, his new powers serving his will quite well. He contacted his god through the telepathy he now possessed.
Devin, milord, I have done as you have asked. Please now, might I return? I grow so very weary of this cruel world, a lie in itself. The Monoliths lay obedient, the demons silenced, my task done. Furthermore, I forever ensure their keep in this dreadful place. For they are held by mystic bindings truly unbreakable, Orrencis said prominently in his head, feeling almost silly to think his conversation rather than speak it. Finally, he received a reply from Devin. . . .
Orrencis, your work is beyond any reproach, and you have done a service none shall ever forget. Your name shall be forever marked upon our walls, let the entire afterlife know it was you that helped bring us salvation from our most dire moments when none could bring about a solution.
Why just let my name be known when I can simply show my face? In my off time, at least, Orrencis added cheerily.
Orrencis, my faithful servant, I am afraid your face cannot be your reminder, Devin returned.
His brain began to whirl in terror. I- I do not follow, he whimpered, sweat trickling over his brow. In the silent world, it seemed that a minute passed with only his heartbeat sounding off. Orrencis waited with quivering jaw, wringing his anxiety bitten hands.
It was never intended you make a return, Liaison, I am sorry. None would take such an endeavor knowing they are sealed within The Void. I am sorry, with all the pain in my heart, I am sorry.
Orrencis’ mouth fell open wide and his shivering hands turned to balled fists. “No! You cannot do this! Please, tell me this is a test of my faith! This is a fate far too cruel for any god to conceive!” he cried into the emptiness, hearing the willows echoing his frantic voice.
He waited minutes, but no answer came back. He waited hours, but no answer came back. Days came with no reply to his continuous pleas. Weeks slipped by drowned in tears and plight. . . .
Bound by fury and rage, the world around him changed as his mind burned for fully paid vengeance. From the grass and flowers shot nettles and thickets of gray-brown decay, the sky undertook putrefaction to grieving orange.
His was a world forged vast and infinite of cracked earth and black spines that pierce the clouds in the sky from ravines truly without end. Mountains of jagged crags and serrated blades burst forth from the lands, demonic birds began to circle his domain and shriek their terrible cries.
He wept in mourning and sorrow, all he knew was torn from him, sanity, faith, happiness, no longer was there a life, no longer a soul, only a seething blind hate for the unmerciful gods and their unforgivable deception.
In one final outrage, Orrencis let his voice echo through all the heavens and hell, every soul that passed into death would know of his dark decree. “Devin! Know my rage! Feel my pain, cry my agony! At any cost, I shall assure you! YOUR BLOOD SHALL PAY MY TOLL!” His words resounded in the ears of every soul, reaching even some of the mortals on the realms below, striking a blow of fear to those who knew the deed.
Gathered by his fearless cry, an old friend revealed himself to Orrencis, knowing full well the implications. The little fox trotted from nowhere and sat at the feet of the weeping, crumpled Liaison. “Now do you see, Orrencis? This is payment for your service.”
“Let me be!” Orrencis yowled.
“No, I want to let you have your chance at redeeming your name! If you wish Devin death, then become one of us. You are forever bound to The Void. Will your cry away your eternity, or will you prosper in your time of despair?” the little fox tempted with a speech that tugged at Orrencis’ heart.
He wiped the streaming tears from his reddened cheeks upon his sleeve. “What is it that you offer?”
The small fox padded about and finally sat before him. “We’re alike, distanced from the gods, tricked and then vanquished. Consume these dark souls with us, gain strength, gain power.”
Orrencis wrapped the Arbiter tightly in thorny vines and raised him to eye level, bearing a wicked glower. “You deceived me, made me believe nothing was amiss! You have ultimately brought me to this condemnation! How dare you skulk back to me, offering such a thing!” screamed Orrencis.
The fox did not even glance at the trickles of blood dyeing his fur of into crimson streaks. “You are almost a god, with enough collective souls, not even The Gates can be held closed from you. We are stuck here, with no resolution. Weigh your options, Orrencis.” Orrencis did just that and looked into the beady eyes of the Arbiter. “The gods have forsaken you, worse so than I, us, all the Arbiters who served them until pushed by their callousness. And what just happened to all the demigods and Liaisons? The Annulment was called, and what if you were still checking your lists under that lonely little tree, do you think you would have this opportunity?”
Orrencis dropped the Arbiter from the spiny plants, who promptly sat back down as the blood vanished and the wounds mended their own.
Can I defy the gods? Can I keep my promise? Orrencis thought. He kept eye on the Arbiter sitting at his feet, still staring blankly. Is there anything else to lose? The Arbiter did not even blink, turning Orrencis uneasy. And yet . . . there is everything to gain. . . . “And what of you? What shall you do?” he suddenly asked to the fox.
“What can I do? You are far stronger than the Monoliths or I. I offer this knowing I may get nothing. Even their perspicacity is not enough to see us here, why is it you think we do as we please?”
Orrencis stood in thought for but a moment. “I will do it,” he growled. “I refuse to spend eternity here and let this crime pass!”
“And think of what to gain, dear Liaison! Your own city, your own legion! With your powers, the demons will bow before you, become their master and let them engage your will! And we could name them after you, so no one forgets who the gods wronged!”
Time passed in silence for the gods, believing their turmoil over as a new era of peace showed its head. They learned their lesson from the Arbiters; fair treatment is necessary, even to those below you, justly, or by a mere technicality.
Yet trouble brewed in The Void as Orrencis’ deranged mind corrupted to an emotionless state where not even his own death would make him blink. Hope; gone, desire; slain, inner sanctity; shattered, love; abolished. Only hate was left to stew in his blackened soul, livid and boiling below the pale skin and disturbed smile.
Five thousand years did pass, the newly recruited Liaisons were busy at work, the replacement Arbiters were committed as equals, and the gods grew decency enough to not cringe when a faithful bemoaned of boredom or fatigue. The orb of ӕthyr grew larger over this period of time since the population of the realms below boomed. Adventurers staked their claim, civilizations and technologies arose and crumbled, lives passed in misery and in joy, and time marched slowly onward.
Just when all was forgotten and The Annulment became a tried and tired memory, the realms soon fell under siege by demons and a flood of lives poured into the heavens from every realm. Worlds of humans, of creatures like humans, of animalistic worlds far too brutish to survive, and yet none knowing why they were defeated and slain so. The influx of innumerous souls pushed the few and occupied Liaisons to their limits until exasperation and collapse. The gods squirmed under the pressure to bring justice to the offender. In response, Devin formed a new consulate and with them, more guesses and decisions gone awry, none good, none grand, all spectacular failures.
At last ends, Devin held no other weighable option; he summoned his chaotic masses, bound for war, for glory, for resolution, for ultimatum to the nemesis.
Dressed in mail with ӕthyreal swords and shields, faces cold and ruthless who cared not for remorse. The dogs of war called from the grave to play their dance one last time.
Archers stand behind them with ӕthyreal bows and arrows, sight keener than a hawk’s, with resolve and hands steady enough to make an explosives technician jealous.
Aback were the gods, granting power and wishes, blessing strength and skill.
A march of a hundred miles trampled the planes of heaven for nearly a week with the gods ever at the tail of the army.
There stands a sight shocking to the eyes, mortal or godly, seeing The Gates rising taller than ever before with the protruding face of a demon replacing an old rune. Devin snapped at his fellow gods, asking how it was possible for The Gates to relocate beyond the hallowed walls that kept it secure. To his further dismay, The Gates widened and seeped ravenous demons to the heavens, taking the front most soldiers off guard and fallen victim to their claws and teeth.
The swords of the soldiers waved with ӕthyreal fury and cut down demons with blazing energy. Yet when hearts eased to see their opponents easy to slay, then fell the hammer.
Black hands sprouted from the grounds, forearm and all, they corrupted the land to cracked and desolate earth, rising no less than one hundred feet high, a single serpentine eye floating above each of them. From demonic palms aglow with power, they ripped bolts of red lightning to ravage the sentinels.
The Gates swung wider still and out strode the Plane Walkers, four-legged titans standing as tall as the hands, igneous bodies with sharpened claws upon arms that did not connect with the body. They brought down fire and stomped upon the scurrying warriors, taking shots from the archers but not caring.
Then poured the Hellhounds from The Gates, legionnaires of The Void not seen since the days of heaven’s hostile takeover by Devin. Abroad with spikes and twisted horns, their eyes glowed red and terrifying, displaying fangs and claws of murderous nature, shredding away armor and ripping flesh of those foolish enough to tempt fate.
Worse yet, then, in a marching line of black clanking metal, Void Knights roamed forward with their classic armaments, jagged longswords of dark steel and thick shields marked with the old gods’ coat of arms, a serpent wrapped around a severed sword. Their glowing eyes burned into the hearts of the angelic army through their visors, the plumes of their helmets stained crimson, not by dye, but by blood of countless conflicts they once endured so many centuries ago.
One-by-one, the soldiers fell, archers and all, leaving the gods stricken with awe.
As the bloody dust settled, the demons did as well, making a lineup on both sides of The Gates. The hands and Plane Walkers vanished to clouds of black, the Void Knights slammed their blades to the ground and stood in attention, the Hellhounds stood beside the knights in stone-like stance, and the various other demons yielded in between.
From The Gates walked a man foreign to the eyes, scars upon his face, long, dark hair hanging down to the shoulders, pale skin, and dark clothes in the likeness of robes. He treaded down the aisle of demons and stepped over the bodies, finding audience with the nine gods, Devin in particular he sneered to.
“Who are you?” Devin roared. “Speak yourself!”
“The years have passed and have been horribly unkind to me, but that is what happens when you live with demons for five thousand two hundred and thirty-six years, I’ve kept track all too well.”
“Stop talking riddles, explain who you are!” Devin shouted back.
The man drew nearer, his identity shaking Etrionas to the core when he grew close to her. “I have not forgotten you, my goddess, can you recall my name?”
“O- Orrencis,” she gagged out.
“Correct,” he said with a sheepish smile.
“How did you open those gates?” Devin screamed, face turning red.
Orrencis cupped his hand onto Etrionas’ chin. “Still pretty as ever, though fear floods your eyes. Am I truly such a distasteful wretch to behold?” Etrionas pulled her head away and stepped back. “Ah, and Devin,” he said as the leading god augmented angrier still. “Who you see before you . . . me, these demons, we are soldiers. My Arbiter calls them Orridians, demons born in the city of Orrin; he thought their names should reflect the Liaison who was punished worst of all. And this gateway you see before you, these grand iron doors, they are The Gates of Orrin, my realm, my domain, my fortress of despair. Ne’er forget this name, these names! I am a god now, with a city and an army of my own! The Arbiters have not forgotten what you did to them! And the Monoliths shall roam the lands when I see fit!” Orrencis boasted a dark snicker that made half the gods gulp and ready defensives.
“And you expect to just place yourself amidst the mortals! You will escape only when I die!” Devin hefted his warhammer while jolts of electricity rode around its surface. He teleported to the offender and slammed at the rogue god, but a single hand was all Orrencis needed to grip the haft and stop the blow where it traced. Orrencis drew a blade from darkness and thrust into Devin’s shoulder, twisting it as the god buckled to his knees.
“I have no intentions of leaving Orrin, nor do I have plans to personally harass the mortals. But I came outside my gates to prove a point, I am far from bound by your rules, and these gates shall open when I desire, no locks, no force can bring them closed! And neither is it that I will kill you, not yet.” Orrencis dispelled his blade and kicked Devin in his chest. He coughed loudly when the air was forced from his lungs.
Orrencis said nor did anything more and returned towards his doors, The Gates of Orrin, stepping only feet within the blackness.
“This is not over!” Devin cried loudly, grabbing at his grievously bleeding wound.
Orrencis kept his back to the gods who glared angrily at his malevolent form.
He spoke slowly in his darkened voice, “You are correct, this is far from over. But let it be known, my old friend. . . .” A pause caught his tongue and he turned his head to see the gods from the corner of his eyes.
“Vengeance swings around!”
The gates vehemently clanged shut behind Orrencis and his hoard of demons vanished from sight.
Thousands of years later, a mortal man would stand to attest against Orrencis and his fervent demons where the gods consistently failed. However, it would take his son, new allies, and a brutal struggle to dent the plans of The Dark God. Enter the last great Wayfarer, Jericho Allister.