Apotheotics Act 2 Epilogue
As your companions lay dead at your feet, you entered the molten silver and experienced everything at once. After what felt like an eternity but was in reality a fraction of a second, you began to be able to control the power and understand some of the experiences, but even as your understanding increased, you felt a strong pressure to decide whether or not to keep or release the energy. In your mind you felt the prophesy of the Hero of Ages, declaring that the Hero would release the energy in the Well of Ascension. You remembered the vampire’s journal which claimed the energy would destroy every undead creature in the world.
Filled with this and a certain… moral superiority… you released the energy. Immediately, the pressure you felt released, and, at first in your head but then experienced as a physical voice, you sensed and then heard a guttural voice:
Free at last, free at last, thank “god” almighty I am free at last!!
You swear you could hear the quotes around the word “god”.
You soon feel the energy leave you, dissipating into the world. As it happens you watch the dark cloud that had been swirling around the cavern gather up and exit up the passage you had come in. As the last of the energy leaves you, utterly drained, you pass out.
You remember little of the time when your mind was expanded. You could see the entire world, almost simultaneously. You saw the undead hordes approaching Shinton, Gochi, and your own home village, along with hundreds of other cities around the world, almost simultaneously. Even a huge city of dragons at the top of a mountain was attacked by giant undead dragons. You watched as the undead attacked, slaughtering the millions who rose up against them. You watched holdouts of humanoidity about to be wiped out saved at the last moment as the undead hordes simply collapsed, whatever foul energy that was driving them destroyed. Not all undead were destroyed, however, and many — far too many, and mostly vampires — retreated.
You also remember seeing into the past of the world… and what you remember surprised you. You remember learning that long ago—hundreds of thousands of years ago—the races as you understand them didn’t exist. Only humans lived in this world, and magic as you understand it also did not exist. But the humans learned over thousands of years another magic, a physical magic that let them travel at ungodly speeds, fly inside magical vehicles, even communicate with each other instantly all over the world. This magic was everywhere, and accessible to all.
But what was used for good was used for evil as well, and as their knowledge of the magic increased, so too did their ability to destroy, and wars over the sources of this magic were fought again, and again, and again. And war…. War never changes.
Until one day the ultimate war was fought, a fast and furious war, and the energies that were unleashed in that war forever changed the face of the world. Entire continents shifted positions; new seas formed, other seas receded, and the world was reduced almost entirely to cinders.
What looked like this:
Now looked like this:
You recall witnessing dragons springing into existence from the huge balls of fire, each explosion spawning another dragon. And for years all that existed were dragons, soaring over a world of ash and cold, fighting among themselves. Eventually plant life returned, and animal life, but it was greatly changed. Over time elves appeared, and dwarves, and orcs, and more. Life returned to the world, and the old world was forgotten, except in what you somehow recognize as Ossland and Rosaria, where humans managed to survive thanks to the efforts a machine that is somehow alive. You don’t fully understand that, but you know it’s true.
And a new form of magic arose. At first this magic only existed in the form of two beings born of the destruction, or perhaps they had always existed but had only been released by the destruction. You don’t remember, and you’ll probably never fully understand. These two beings were polar opposites, one dedicated to the creation and preservation of life, the other utterly bent on its destruction, and each utterly powerful in their domain.
The dragons worshipped these beings, and called them Preservation and Ruin. From them they learned primal magics, arcane and utterly foreign to you. The wars waged by Ruin in the dawn of this new world were fierce, even by old world standards, and for thousands of years Ruin fought and Preservation defended, but each was the equal of the other, and neither was able to win utterly over the other. Until the day Preservation tricked and trapped Ruin, imprisoning him at great cost to herself. Both were greatly diminished, and the raw magic that they wielded faded from the world.
But forgotten deep underground some form of the old world magic still existed, and some of it leaked into this new world. Over time it coalesced into this very cavern, and Ydersius was the first to find it. And when he found it, he used its power to change the world again. The magic system as you understand it today was created by him, following rules he could understand and imagine. His system even enabled other, albeit less powerful, deities to arise, simply by being worshipped by enough people. Over time his magic faded even as the magic coalesced again in the Well of Ascension. He returned and renewed his power and his domination over all in the land, a living god, reigning for thousands of years. Until he nearly lost it all when Savith attacked even as his power waned. Saved only by the last of his magic, enabling his head to survive even as his body died, Ydersius returned to the Well and revived, vowing to remain safely anonymous in his underground kingdom rather than risk another attack again. But he enacted his revenge, forever transforming orcs into twisted, brutish creatures.
You now realize that both the attack of Savith and your own quest were linked; a ruse by Ruin in an attempt to free himself from his incarceration. How releasing the magic released him you don’t understand, but you remember, somewhat too late, the warning written in the metal in a temple deep underground not to trust words not written in metal. Ruin, though greatly diminished, could still manipulate reality in small ways. Subtly altering the words in journals or pictograms embedded in stone, for example, or even sending a vision to a young altruistic priestess.
When you awake, you feel drained. Climbing out of the well, you behold the mist spirit again, which you now recognize as Preservation herself. Barely an outline of a figure in the mists, and rapidly fading, your gaze follows its gesture and you see your companions, hale and very much alive, sleeping in a row near the depression that was the Well of Ascension. You have no idea how they are alive again, but you suspect that you used some of the Well’s power to restore their lives even as you released the energy. Or perhaps Preservation redirected some of its release. You don’t know, but you are happy to see them breathing.
You feel renewed, but apprehensive. The undead armies are mostly destroyed and have retreated, but Ruin is now released, and as you watch you are filled with dread to see Preservation fade from the mist and the mist itself slowly dissipate. You sense that, somehow, Preservation is truly gone, the last of her energy expended. Dead.
Without Preservation to counter Ruin, what will happen to the world and what few remain alive within it? You don’t know, but you are adamant to stop him. You know that the dragons have long understood Preservation and Ruin; perhaps they will know more about how to stop Ruin. And what of this prophecy of the Hero of Ages, so carefully crafted and manipulated by Ruin? Did it ever really exist? And if so, what did it originally state?
You will have to find out. But first… yes… you need rest. You lie down beside your companions and rest. You will counter Ruin.
P.S. Yes, you have been playing in post-apocalyptic Earth the whole time. That obelisk hanging upside down dripping green slime? An ICBM. The draconic letter “U” was the start of USA. Draconic is the Latin alphabet, and Draconic is, in fact, American dialect English. Shinton is Washington. Gochi is Chicago. MUHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA*cough**sputter*wheeze*