Dawnblade – The Devout’s Story of the Fall (Rest of the Story)

This is the rest of the story. Click here for the beginning

To the gods it was as if a huge bell had been rung.  Their attention snapped to the Sorcerer and what he was doing, and every one of them was horrified.  Not for their own sakes, but because they understood that shattering the balance would doom the world.

The good gods, the dark ones, and those who counted themselves neutral, all put aside their differences.  In all their long battles, in all their aeons long hatreds, none of them had ever sought to destroy the balance.

The sorcerer, in his arrogance, was threatening to do exactly that.  Some of the gods tried to get messages to him offering a truce and no retribution if he would just turn aside from the path that would destroy everything.  They even offered to protect him if other gods disagreed with their offer.  He dismissed them all.

So for the first time in history all the gods gathered in a single place.  Reality shook and shivered at the concentration of so much power in one place, until some of the gods used their power to stabilise the world around them.

The gods discussed the danger for some time, then they formed a mighty and unbreakable pact.  Each agreed to throw all their strength and the strength of all their followers into the effort to protect the balance and save the world, and not to seek any advantage over their fellow gods while the Sorcerer remained a threat.

Soon the gods started appearing to their followers, ordering all their forces to prepare for immediate war.  Just a few hours later the gods used their powers to transport those followers as close to the Sorcerer’s lands as they could.  Immense armies that had previously been pitted against each other were now joined in a common cause.

The Sorcerer had made his home in a citadel atop a tall mountain.  The sides were pitted with defences, as were the lands for thirty miles around.  His forces were arrayed, ready to withstand the attack that he must know was coming.  He’d had plenty of time to prepare and had used that time well.

The gods themselves could not pierce any of the Sorcerer’s defences without great effort, and there were many layers.  The Sorcerer clearly meant to exhaust the gods before they drew close enough to threaten him.  To ensure they’d be no threat even if they did break through.

He’d miscalculated badly.  Wherever the gods’ worshippers went the gods could easily follow.  By forcing the defensive forces back beyond some of those barriers the gods’ forces could pass them, and in turn the gods themselves could also pass the barriers with no effort on their part.  In that way they could save their strength for the final assault.

The battles that raged throughout that day were incredible to behold.  Titanic beasts and thousands of legions clashed in warfare.  Immense magics were used, some so powerful that normally the gods forbade them for fear the damage they could do to the world.  Now nothing was held back, for if they failed there would be no world.

The battles raged on throughout the day, and slowly the Sorcerer’s forces were forced back.  They gave ground but none fled.  None were willing to surrender to the mercy of the gods.  Whatever darkness had clawed its way into their souls resisted the righteous balance the gods brought with them.

By evening the attackers had forced their way forward and were only ten miles from the Sorcerer’s citadel.  The attacks didn’t cease as darkness fell.  If anything, the followers of the dark gods became stronger.

Battle raged throughout the night, without relenting for a moment.  By midnight the army of the gods was approaching the mountain the citadel sat upon.  With incredible efforts they breached the first layers of defence and forced their way up the mountain.

Their progress soon slowed.  They found the going more difficult having to fight forces who were uphill from them and heavily entrenched.  Many of the Sorcerer’s followers had perished in the earlier battles, but plenty had managed to pull back and strengthen the citadel’s defences.

Despite the ground they’d lost, the Sorcerer’s forces were far from worried.  They knew they only had to hold out until their master completed his foul plans.  Then everything would change.

Realising their progress had slowed too much the gods decided to launch the final attack themselves.  Very few mortals had seen a god fight before.  Very rarely an immense presence would appear on a battlefield and wipe out huge contingents of the enemy in a matter of seconds.  That was as much as any mortal normally knew when a god appeared to fight.  Almost none had seen two gods battle each other and lived to tell the tale.

None had ever seen anything like this, every god in one place and all fighting for the same cause.  The gods forced their way through barrier after barrier, trading strength for progress.

Some of the Sorcerer’s acolytes tried to reinforce the defences, to stand against the gods.  No doubt driven by dark whispers from their master that they could now equal the power of the gods.

Each was smashed aside with total disdain.  While the gods needed time to pierce the well crafted defences, they had no trouble dealing with such upstart mortals.

As the pre-dawn light began to touch the sky the gods grew close to the top of the mountain.  They were surprised to find that the going was becoming easier rather than harder.  Strangely for a creature of such darkness, the Sorcerer’s power seemed to be drawn from the light of the sun.  That meant his defences were weakening as the night wore on, but the gods realised that also meant his defences and power would be strengthened when the sun rose.

They attacked the defences with renewed vigour, forcing their way closer and closer to the pinnacle.  They reached the citadel and found the strongest defences waiting for them, surrounding the Sorcerer where he worked his darkness at the pinnacle.

The gods battled on, aware that the sky was lightening quickly now.  They threw everything they had into the attack, forcing their way ever closer to the Sorcerer.

When they had breached all but the last defence another human stood against them, the most powerful of the sorcerer’s acolytes, but cloaked in magic so he was invisible to the advancing gods.  Normally he would have been no match for any of the gods, but they had been extending themselves greatly to reach that point.

Before they even realised the danger he slashed out at a goddess of death, taking advantage of the fact she was weakened by the long battle.  The blade he wielded, tarnished by the foulest of magic, pierced the goddess’s chest.

She stared down in shock… then, for the first time in the history of the world, a god died.  The balance wavered and the world shuddered at the titanic event.

Mighty though the Sorcerer’s champion must have thought himself at that moment, that was the only blow he struck.  As soon as he landed the fatal blow the other gods were aware of him, and they lashed out in return.

The champion died a far swifter death than he deserved, but the gods had other worries.  It was not the champion who had put these events in motion.  That was the Sorcerer, and reaching the Sorcerer was their goal.

There is no doubt the Sorcerer was aware of the gods’ arrival, of their preparing to breach his final defence, but he did not break from his work.  He continued to toil over the sword in his hands, to pour his dark and unnatural magic into the blade.  And the heavens were now lit by the glow of a sun which was about to clear the horizon.

In desperation the gods combined their power, battering at the last and mightiest of the Sorcerer’s defences.  This magical shield alone had taken fully two days to create, and it proved highly resistant even to the combined power of the gods.

All might have been lost, if it was not for the coming dawn.  For while it brought a deadly danger, it also brought power to the gods of light.  At the same moment it was not yet dawn so the powers of the gods of darkness were undiminished.

With that increase in strength they managed to force a small hole through the barrier, one the gods punched their way through.  The barrier wasn’t defeated, but they had passed it nevertheless.

Now the sorcerer looked up, staring at the mighty gods who stood before him.  Even tired as they were, they were an incredible sight to behold.  The Sorcerer looked at them for a moment, then returned his attention to the blade.  He yelled his final incantation as he thrust the blade into the sky above his head.

Sensing the moment of disaster was almost upon them, the gods combined their remaining power into a single mighty bolt.  It was aimed not at the sorcerer, but at the blade.

Yet they were too late.  As the sorcerer lifted the blade above his head the first rays of the dawn sun fell upon it, igniting the power stored within.  At that moment the sorcerer issued a mighty yell and named the blade Dawnblade.

As he did so the world shuddered.  The balance was almost destroyed and the world was ready to follow it.  The gods knew only an act of true desperation would prevent the end of everything and everyone.  They poured every last dreg of their power into one final bolt in a move that would leave them all helpless.  The gods were willing to sacrifice their very existence to save the world and all those within it.

That bolt of unimaginable godly power met the blade forged from festering darkness.  The battle was impossible for mortal minds to comprehend began.  Only an instant of time passed, yet for the gods and the Sorcerer the battle waged on for long hours.

The combined power of the gods and the foul power of the blade, enhanced by the Sorcerer’s own darkness, were almost perfectly balanced.  Tiny differences in strength caused the battle to ebb and flow but neither side could win.

All the while the world shuddered as the balance was eaten away.  More and more of the gods’ strength was lost in the battle of the sword, and as their energy faded so too did the bonds holding the world together.

The Sorcerer and the Dawnblade were proving to be stronger than the gods.  Slowly the balance shifted further in his direction.  The gods struggled in vain as they realised they were failing, that they’d sacrificed too much of their power to get to this point.  All life, and all worlds, faced destruction.

All would have been lost if it was not for one goddess of wisdom.  For even while giving every particle of her power, as were her fellow brothers and sisters, she was studying both the power they fought and the vessel it was contained in.

While doing so she perceived a weakness, a flaw in the blade itself.  There was no time to confer with her fellow gods and goddesses, there was no time to build enough power for a strike… not that she could take any back from the fight anyway.  The moment she did the Sorcerer would gain total victory.

So she did the unthinkable.  She used the only source of power she had left… She used the power of her own life, her own existence, forging it into a powerful bolt smashed into the weapon at the exact point of weakness.

In doing so she sacrificed her life.  Can you imagine?  A goddess, an infinite being, giving her life to save us.  It is as incomparable to a mortal giving their life as the power of the sun when compared to a faint candle.

But sacrifice herself she did, and in doing so she induced a crack in the blade.  A crack which spread rapidly, splintering the blade into many parts which then flew apart.

That was not the end of the battle.  The Dawnblade’s power was let loose, and the gods’ power too.  Those powers slashed back and forth, cutting deeply into the pillars of reality, until the world itself cracked just as the blade had.

The world was shattered into thousands of different pieces.  And not just this world, all the other worlds the gods knew of.  Yet while reality shattered the gods’ power lived on, and the balance they represented was reflected in each fragment of the world.

That balance allowed life to continue to exist in each shard of a world, no matter how large or small it was.  Some were huge, hundreds of miles across, while others were barely the size of a small farm and its lands. 

The gods survived too, though they needed time to recover properly from the battle.  Despite that they spent their time bringing succour to the terrified mortals, letting them know that they had not been abandoned and would always be cherished.  Slowly life returned to normality, of a kind, but the shattered fragments of what once had been whole worlds remained as a stark reminder that everything had changed.

As for the Sorcerer… he perished in fire and flame.  With the Dawnblade shattered the remaining power of the gods poured into him, sweeping aside his own pitiful strength and tearing his body apart at every level of reality.

That is the story of how the Dawnblade shattered the world, and it is the truth.

The End

More stories in this series…

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