~ TABLE OF CONTENTS ~
:: The 8th God: High Sorceress Aiena, Lord General of Taath ::
:: The History of Aiena ::
:: Options of Aiena ::
The 8th God: High Sorceress Aiena, Lord General of Taath
I am darkness, I am terror, I am that which lurks just beyond the eyesight of mortals, I am the shiver up your spine, the sudden chill that makes the hairs of your body stand on end, I am the feeling that something is watching you, I am watching you. Only the most devout of Taathian priests, the true masters of pain and terror have spoken to me, even less know my name. Only one ever has seen me in my true form, only one mortal ever have I served, only one ever has invoked more terror in the heart of mortals than I, and she is known as Aiena.
From the day I discovered her, I have been at her side, though rarely she has known it. I have watched and taught, discussed and learned, for she was the one written of in the ancient books of the first priests of our lord Taath. When the Gods were young to our world and our dark master’s following was but a tiny group of those most devout. The God Sa, the post powerful and mighty of the Gods in the early years, came to my dark lord to proclaim a prophecy of the birth of one who would destroy the balance in the heavens. Sa told Taath that if he did not kill the one prophecized of, Sa would cast Taath from the heavens and curse him to walk the world forever as a mortal. My lord agreed to the terms, though I, watching eternally from the darkness of his lair, knew the dark one would keep no such promise.
She was but thirty when I first received reports from my spies, Setites mainly who owed me eternal favors for my granting them freedom from some Odarous forsaken prison. A Sanene from the Isle of Muldavia who had killed her master (A Muatana-al of some notoriety), stolen his books of magic and escaped into the foothills with the rest of those who had served the Muatana-al. For an Elf of such a young age to accomplish such a feat was astounding, but even more shocking to me was the way by which she accomplished such. She did not murder her master in his sleep, nor did she trick him into his death, but rather she simply defeated him with her magic, tearing apart his defenses as if they were weaved by a child and utterly destroying his entire being with massive waves of fire. This Elf, barely even a child by Elven standards, had defeated one who had studied magic for more than a thousand years, and whose power was greater than nearly any other in the world.
Rather than send my spies to watch her, I myself traveled from my dark masters domain to seek this child with such power. Usually the common Setite would do fine to keep track of the matters such as this, but I feared one with such incredible power would likely discover my spies quickly and destroy them, leaving me with little information. I found her quickly, her power radiating around her drawing me in like a fly towards the light. Around her, above her, below her, into her very soul I circled devouring up all I could, feasting on a lush source of power and energy that revitalized the very depths of my immortal being. I could feel her weakening, her mind crumbling, her power slowly draining into me second by second, and then suddenly it ended. This young one, her black hair swirling around her barely developed form, crackled with bolts of lightning that sent me reeling away. She turned to me, though no mortal could see me unless I allowed them, she ran her deep black eyes across my form, sucking me into her well of darkness, I felt powerless as she said, “Servant of the dark one, immortal from the planes of terror, you will serve me as you do your master”. She did not listen to hear my response; she simply turned back to her book of the arcane and nodded in my direction, to signify that she knew my answer without needing to hear it.
Within seconds I found myself surrounded by the familiar coldness of the dark master’s realm in the heavens. The burning cold surrounded me like the warmth the mortals feel from wrapping themselves in a blanket, we the servants on the lord of pain feel the greatest warmth from the ice cold darkness of his might. The great one and I spoke at length, of the prophecy, of the child, and of her powers. I had given her the first battle, she caught me by surprise, but she was no match for one of Taath’s immortal servants, few in the heavens were. That very evening I returned to her, this time unnoticed, though at times I feared she may be able to sense my presence in the darkness as her gazed wandered across the shadows when she looked up from her studies.
Within a few days I had learned of her situation, her family, and most importantly her great powers. This young Sanene, her soul filled with hate and disgust for all, had control of the ancient magics. It was quite apparent to me she didn’t know how to use them, nor did she understand what they were, but none the less my immortal skin crawled and itched at the presence only the magics of the ancients could cause upon my form.
Before I continue, you priests who read this may wonder now what the magics of the ancients were, as the world has changed and events have led much of the magic of the ancients to return to our world. Kralen, crafter of the gray sword, which we within the heavens called the godslayer, stole from the world a small part of its magic upon crafting his sword so that he might take control of the temple of Sa. Many spells, though their weaves still existed in tomes and scrolls, simply could not be cast by the mages of the world, as the energy required to create them had been drained into the gray. For reasons still unknown to me Aiena was capable of creating these spells, spells of incredible power. The spells of the ancient Frontacian empire, spells from the tomes of Telfast (he who alone weaved the unmagick spell, when it took hundreds of thousands to weave it again), and perhaps even more frightening was her ability to weave the spells of the ancient Arachnians, spells capable of devastating an entire world. Sa’s power in the heavens had faltered, and the predicted return of the cults of chaos on the southern edge of the continent Aradath had left the heavens in further turmoil. The dark lord knew none would discover his weapon in this young Sanene until it was too late, and by then we knew that Sa would be no match for our might in the heavens. So it began, starting only as whispers into the child’s ear, help with spells, rituals of pain, sacrafices of blood to the dark one, and membership in the dark ones temple. She had long forgotten my existence, as her world was crashing forward leaving little time for distant memories behind, she noticed not, nor did she care, the whispers of suggestions floating about her head.
Within twenty years I had crafted her into a perfect follower of the dark master Taath. Her ice cold hate for all beings, her lust for power, and her incredible magic lifted her further and further within the heirarchy of the temple, all those who would not bow before her coming were removed and died horrible, never-ending deaths at both her hands and mine. The dark lord's gifts upon her grew greater and greater as well, quickly she had become one of Taath’s most trusted servants. He cared not for the loss of those whom she killed from within the temple, as the dark master Taath worries little for those who are too weak to hold their positions, only those whose rise up to stand in their place are of importance. As her fame and power grew, and Taath’s gifts upon her became greater, I too began to have a larger role within sorceress' life.
Rather than whisper suggestions, I began to give commands, which she always followed without question, believing my voice to be that of her masters. I must admit, I found some glee in being called master by this one, even if she thought I was another, for it was her who had told me but a few short years earlier that I was hers to command. To my dismay, my command over her would not last much longer, as the power of the forces of Oisin grew in the far southern reaches of Aradath, my lord began to worry about his own place in the heavens should the followers of Arioch prove triumphant. I did not trust any of our army’s generals, and made such clear to my lord Taath, for each while devoted in religion to the dark master, each was devoted in life to themselves. To try and stop Oisin and his cult followers the dark one turned to me and my charge, Aiena. Many of the priests of Arioch had artifacts from the reign of the Frontacian Empire, and some from far before that from the earliest years of the world when man and Dragon battled for control of Aradath. To defeat these, we were convinced Aiena’s powers were our best hope and so she was summoned.
In the darkest cavern of Taath’s realm of the heavens, there exists the diamond of lost souls, it’s glittering facets giving off the only light visible within the utter darkness. Many an hour have I spent staring within the diamond at the trapped souls, tortured every second of their existence by the burning desire to be freed from their tiny prison. It is within this diamond those who fail the dark one in life spend eternity in death, their souls never given rest. When I come, they know my presence, many of them taking the form of a tiny pulsating ball of gore the likes of which would invoke immediate vomiting from any mortal who laid eyes upon their twisted beings. Those who are given a form with eyes stare out from within the diamond, begging me for their freedom, calling out to be saved, their high pitched wails of utter terror a never-ending cascading waterfall that courses down upon me and refreshes my being. It is here, with this diamond, I am reminded constantly of the dark master’s loves, and mine as well, to smell and sense the delightful aroma of terror and pain that mortals bring to our world. When Aiena was summoned before the diamond, much to my dismay, the smell of fear was no where to be found. Could my eyes penetrate the vast well of darkness that is Taath’s lair, I’m sure I would have seen her crooked little smile mocking the fate of those trapped eternally within the diamond. While the diamond would play a role later within this tale, the summoning of Aiena before the dark one is far more important at this junction.
The words of Taath are not to be repeated before any, for they are meant only for those who hear them, a summary however of what was done I will give for it is quite possible the dark one saved the entire world that day. Aiena, then high sorceress of Taath, spoke to the master and I at length, though when her gaze fell across me her eyes burned with a fury of the ancient magic’s of fire within her. A scroll, she was given, with a spell capable of destroying the most powerful artifacts held by those within the cult of Arioch, the fabled rings of Arioch. Armed with the power to battle Oisin’s most powerful weapon, Aiena was given command of the armies of Taath across the continent of Aradath, and sent to seek out the rings of Arioch and destroy them before they led Oisin to victory.
Before the master of the heavens, our lord Taath sent her to the troops, he first gave her one task to complete to prove her dedication to the cause. She was returned to her family, now working with another Muatana-al who were attempting to clear out a section of Muldavia for their own. She stood outside of the small brick home where her parents were sleeping; I watched her face intently for I knew this moment would define the rest of her life. Her eyes flashed with a burning hatred, one I could not have imagined existed within her towards these, her parents who raised her. The twisted, crooked little smile crossed her face as she moved towards the door, carefully measuring every step so as not to lose her will to complete the task. With a single motion of her hand the front door of the home exploded inwards in a massive gout of flame. Sparks showered down from the threshold of the home surrounding her in a eerie glow as she stalked through the door like a wild cat seeking its prey.
There was no recognition on the faces of her parents as they ran at her with weapons in hand. I could see in their eyes they knew they were no match for her, and the fear surrounding them floated out like a miasma, giving off the first hint of mortal terror that awakened my nostrils. Calmly, she spread her arms out around her and flames rose up in all directions setting the old timber of the home immediately ablaze. Her father first swung at her, his blade whistling harmlessly past where she had once stood, he could only stare in shock as her dagger suddenly slammed through him from behind and he fell to the floor. She then turned to her mother, and a cackling laugh erupted from her lips, so high pitched and terrible was it that I, an immortal servant of the dark God Taath, cried out in pain from the pitch of her laughter. Her mother could only stare wide-eyed as death approached her; the cold hate burning in Aiena’s eyes was enough to freeze her mothers very blood. With a loud clank the mother dropped her weapon to the floor, its steel ringing out through the air as it bounced harmlessly across the cobblestone floor. Aiena muttered a single world, turned upon her heel and left the building, she never looked back to see her mother go up in flames as the house collapsed down upon the aged Elf. I however, did stay to see her fate and knew her mind before she was killed by the fiery inferno around her, the mother had recognized her daughter, and the shock alone had left her motionless without hope of escape.
“Tell me, servant” she said as she turned back to the blazing remains of the home, “do you think I am ready to face the world in this task the master gives?”. I did not respond to her as we slowly floated away on the wings of a translocation spell towards the armies awaiting her arrival, but in the back of my mind I questioned if the world was ready for her.
The dark lady she was quickly known as by her troops and enemies alike as she took a stranglehold on the power of the Taathian armies. Her cunning and chaotic nature led to be a mighty force in battle, as her forces clashed with the armies of Oisin and raced through them in a firestorm campaign across the southern section of Aradath. Her ruthless tactics earned her the eternal respect of her troops, and put terror in the heart of her enemies. Those found alive at the end of battles were chained together and butchered at the start of the next battle to fill their enemy’s hearts with fear and to build up a bloodlust in her own troops. She employed the highest clerics of Taath who called upon the undead to join the battles as legions of skeletal warriors rose up to fight alongside the hordes of Humans, Thugians, Oog-ra, Sanene, Arachnians, and Go-blin-al loyal to Aiena. Within three years her armies had claimed back nearly half the land Oisin had taken, nearly all of the rings of Arioch had been destroyed, and Taath's power in the heavens seemed more secure than ever. The prophecy seemingly had begun its course, and I alone stood at the side of the dark lady, her hate for me seething from her heartless form, but her respect as well allowing me trust no other received.
As her victories continued, her supreme confidence continued to grow, she last I heard her speak she told her commanders that she was Taath's hand within the world, and any she touches will be destroyed by her awesome power. Whilst she slept that evening I took her wrist within my hands, and held tight, her skin slowly turning blue beneath my touch as her arm began to freeze from my chill touch. She immediately leapt up at stared directly into my blazing eyes, I was greatly taken aback but my grip on her wrist did not falter. As our stares met, crackles of energy exploded in the air around her as I dared her to fall into the darkness of the cold, finally she gave and shook off my grip, rubbing her wrist and cursing me in every language she knew. I left her that evening to return to my master, but the message had been given, she was no stronger than the hands who guide her and no match for all the beings of the world as she thought.
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The History of Aiena
Written by Maren Vonalte
Aiena Silven, a San Elf mage, was charged by the god Taath to
seek out and destroy the Rings of Arioch. Taath gave the San Elf a
magickal amulet (strangely glowing blood-red amulet) that allowed
Aiena to extend her life by draining the lives of others so she could
fulfill her mission to destroy every single ring. She was "often called
the Black Queen of Taath, due to her long service and important
status within the Dark God's forces." As a sign of thanks for the
amulet, she drained her parents of their lives.
As general of Taath's armies for over 300 years (see the tome The
Beginning), when the Taathian scouts discovered Ariochian forces
in the southlands, the armies were diverted from fighting the
Odarians in the highlands. The two sides fought a stalemate battle
for over a century, neither side gaining ground, until in 308, a
massive and mysterious tidal wave wiped out the Taathian armies.
Near ten thousand troops camped on the pains perished while
Aiena was the only survivor of the disaster.
How the above came about was when Aiena came to Spur in
search of a way to defeat Oisin's troops (Oisin was Arioch's Lord
Priest) and hoped to raise an undead army from the Mud Village,
located south of Meetpoint. [Aside: The mud people were able to
connect to the spirits of the underworld to gather advice and bless
their lives.] In the center of the Mud Village, Aiena began to cast
her spell that would allow her to call forth the undead. The
Spurians, spurred by the Flerian Murdach, went to stop the
Taathians from their deed.
With her power concentrated on the portal, Aiena was unable to
fight against the Spurians and quickly left with a translocation spell
which cause the portal to slam shut before any more than a dozen
undead entered our world.
Aiena was forgotten by the Spurian people for a time, until
Murdach returned telling stories about an evil witch who sucked
the life out of people and the blood red amulet he kept that
belonged to the witch.
Aiena tricked the Spurians to believe that a major attack was
coming from the south, while her own army came from the west.
While this went on, an orb was taken and the south army left.
"Some claim she attacked to gain a mystic item, others say for
revenge" (from a mural in the Othello Museum). The Flerian
Murdach was soon set up, killed, and Aiena's amulet taken from
him to be returned to the rightful owner.
Soon enough, a glowing red energy field surrounded the city of
Spur that was so powerful that none could move out of the field
(though the energy did not extend into the ground and those who
knew the sewers could enter and leave the city). The orb was held
within the Taathian temple - the citizens trapped within while the
Taathians tried to take over. In the mean time, Aiena was outside
of the city in the Mud Village, reopening the portal to the
underworld. Aiena chanted the spell until she collapsed in
exhaustion, as the undead poured out by the hundreds. When
Aiena collapsed though, the orb around Spur fell.
The Taathians were unable to take over the city, and Aiena broke
her promise to them. She took her undead army south to contend
with the Ariochian army. "Eventually, Aiena succeeded in
summoning a large army of undead, including the much-dreaded
tiers (undead wyverns). The army of undead was later destroyed
by a massive flood, possibly caused by the god Unknown" (from a
painting in the Othello Museum). After the rains, there was a new
lake in the southlands and the Rijom had to flee their ancestral
home to escape the flooding.
Aiena's hold on sanity began to break and she became utterly
convinced that it was Murdach's fault for what happened to her.
History is a bit vague on what happened during this time, but it is
well known that in "12/03/309, Aiena Silven used the energies of
the Diamond of Lost Souls to become a goddess" (from a plaque
in the Othello Museum).
When she ascended to godlike status, Aiena defeated Sa in battle.
The god Sa recalled all the runemagick in the world to help him,
but he still lost against the San. This resulted in the lost of magick
for a time. Kralen (see Saian notes) though played an important
part in what was to come. "Six days later, Kralen released the
portion of Sa's power that was trapped in the grey pearl
broadsword, destroying Aiena and restoring an altered magick to
the world" (plaque from the Othello Museum).
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Opinions of Aiena
From The Aradath Tribune: Volume 2, Issue 7
When the Taathian sorceress Aiena perished recently, Spur lost one of its most colorful and controversial personalities. Many hated the stout Sanene, some admired her, but almost everyone who witnessed one of her rare visits to town came away with vivid memories. This month our Advocates share their rather different interpretations of the would-be goddess.
"The Spurian reaction to the death of Aiena serves as yet another example (not that any is needed!) of the shameless disregard that Spur's powerful have both for the truth and for the citizens of the City. Every truth is twisted, every event subtly recast, to serve the rich, the bullies, the dragons, the Lords and Ladies. And Aiena, who should be a heroine to this city, is depicted, even in her moment of triumph and noble self-sacrifice, as a villain and a traitor.
Now it is certainly true that Aiena was a complex personality, an ancient enigma that none fully understood. At times some of her actions have seemed self-serving or duplicitous, as when she inexplicably failed to defeat the army of the Lords of Chaos, thus bringing about the invasion and occupation of the city. But when one is 600 years old, it's only to be expected that one's actions should be subtle and circuitous. Always, in the end, Aiena's strategies have paid off for Taath, and this city has been the better for it.
In her final days, some allege, Aiena betrayed Taath, attempting to set herself up as a rival goddess. Completely untrue. Had she survived, Aiena would have continued in her role as Taath's disciple and protegee. Her ascension to divinity was a necessary step in order for her to wrest control of Magick from the incompetent God Sa, who for eons had refused to allow true power to his followers. Sadly, Aiena perished, but in so doing she was at least able to cleanse the Magick of the world, and in large part pull it free of the greedy clutches of dragonkind. We all have Aiena to thank for this greatly improved Magick. And yet the powers that be, for their own petty and selfish reasons, refuse to give credit to one who, if not a goddess, should at the very least be considered a Saint."
"Magick had been on the decline for quite some time, from at least the time of the forging of the Grey, if not since the release of the Unmagick itself. It is clear that some of Sa's power was trapped in the Grey.
Aiena was able to take advantage of this weakness. After ascending to godhood, she struck at Sa. The other gods did not get involved, although I understand Taath did block a move by the Grey to aid Sa during that first battle. Sa is magick, magick is Sa. As Sa weakened further from the strain of his battle, the power of runemagick also weakened, until folks could no longer cast even the simplest of spells. After a hard fought battle, Aiena won.
After several days, Kralen, finally accepts his destiny, puts aside his bitterness that Sa did not allow him to rule the temple 200 years ago, and draws out the grey pearl broadsword from the fountain. The Grey is finally once again complete. This of course gets Aiena's attention, and she appears in town square. Kralen breaks the grey pearl broadsword, releasing magicks within that have been trapped since its forging. Aiena aged at an incredibly fast rate right before our eyes, the goddess was slain! Kralen's task was finally done after 200 years, and he returned to Sa.
So what is the lasting impact of those fate-filled days? Taath's 'Black Queen,' his most powerful agent is no more. This can only leave Taath weakened, although he has recovered from worse setbacks than this. Sa's weakness is gone, if anything, magick continues to slowly grow stronger, although it still remains as unreliable as ever. Historically, Sa has been the most powerful of the gods. Will he regain that dominance of old?
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