I’ve written some about the Guardians of Lora on Aia. You can find those stories, and a few others that take place on Aia, through the Directory.
My struggle on Aia has been in determining who the villain is, because I started with primarily a concept of who the “good guys” are. This is my first attempt at exploring some potential villains.
DO YOU HAVE THE STRENGTH TO BRING ME THROUGH?
Myrth’s voice ripped through her, vibrating between and within every cell of her body. She heard it not only in her mind, or her ears, but all the way through to the very core of herself, from her fingertips to her heart, and deeper besides. It echoed within her very soul.
“I do, my lord,” she said.
She did, for He had given her that strength, and the knowledge to pursue it and push it further and further. Without His influence, she had been weak of both body and mind. The knowledge He had given her, and the glorious changes he had helped her work upon her body, had improved and changed her from the frail being she had once been.
He had given her the knowledge of the spellwork that had allowed her to alter her body. He had allowed her to channel his power through her being, so that the spells, beyond the ken and capacity of a mere mortal acting without divine influence, would take their truest effect.
Injuries inflicted upon her healed faster, and were harder to inflict in the first place. The hole she had bored into her soul fed upon the ambient energies of Aia itself, provided her increased strength and mental acuity. She resisted all diseases and poisons entirely, both due to the alterations she and He had made together in concert, and thanks to his direct blessings. Diseases were, after all, among his servants.
All this she had done so that she could bear children for his cause. All nine of them stood with her now, around the circle. Nine: one for each of the strongest demonic lineages of Kairnorh; one for each of the demonic sires with whom she had born a child. Nine. Her own twisted Ennead, for nine was the strongest number.
Myrth had selected the sires for her. It was he who had converted them to the cause, and he who had taught her the lines of the summoning circles to draw them from Kainorh into Aia. Without aid, it was impossible for even the Gods to cross the bounds between the realms. To do so, one had to be called, and the caller had to know the circles, and have great strength of their own.
To summon the fathers of her children, ink had been sufficient, albeit ink mixed with diamond dust, which she painted upon a great block of stone. That stone was now cracked, blackened, and broken from the final summoning, the strongest of all of them. Myrth had saved him for last, so that should he choose to betray her, her other children could help to subdue him.
Under the threat of destruction at Myrth’s own hand once he returned to Kairnorh, the demon had not betrayed her. None of them had. They had taken their time with her in stride, then gone willingly back to their realm.
Within the circle, under her guidance, Pharanea’s sons had drawn an enneagram in the shape of a nine-pointed star. They needed something stronger than ink and diamond dust in order to summon a god, and so, on the great metal sheet in the middle of the chamber, each had drawn one line of the enneagram from his own blood.
For a summoning, Myrth said, the blood of a half-demon would be far stronger than anything else Pharanea could get her hands on. Pharanea had taken blood from all nine of them and mixed it together, alongside ink and diamond, to finish the summoning circle. She had drawn the circle itself, and the the lines of the words and descriptors in the God’s Tongue around the borders of the circle, and the shapes within each spoke of the star which would call to Myrth and bring him, at last, to her.
ARE THE PREPARATIONS COMPLETE?
“Yes, my Lord,” Pharanea said.
She had warded the room with the strongest spells that could be wrought by a mortal hand, even channeling the divine power of a god. Agents of Cinashe and other gods watched the world for incursions from Kainorh. Without her wards, the arrival of a Kainorhian deity in the flesh would draw massive attention. With them, if Myrth kept his stay brief, they had a chance to go undetected.
BRING ME FORTH.
Pharanea took a shuddering breath. Her children watched her with nine sets of inhuman eyes — black pits and white disks and a twisting torus of flame — as she stepped carefully onto the metal sheet, placing her bare feet between the lines of the circle so that she didn’t ruin their work with a misplaced step.
The cold of the metal bit into her flesh, reminding her naked body of the cold of the room. She shivered as goosebumps covered her body, both from the chill, and from the anxious, almost nauseating excitement she felt at finally seeing her Lord’s plans come to fruition.
In her hand she carried a long staff, at the end of which was a fine brush coated in her own blood. With it, she would complete the final line of the circle, and Myrth would cross from Kairnorh into Aia. Pharanea, honored among all of His followers, would lay eyes upon Him, and help him to bring change to the world.
With the staff held by its end, so that she could be as far from the center of the circle as possible, Pharanea drew the final line.
She stepped back, expecting Myrth’s appearance to happen as it had for the fathers of her children: a sudden, inexplicable change from non-presence to presence, as they transitioned instantly between the realms, displacing the air in the room with a bang.
Myrth came differently. He stepped into the circle as though coming into the room from around a corner, as though he had complete control over his own arrival despite Pharanea’s aid; as though he hadn’t needed that aid at all, and he could have bridged the realms on his own, after all.
Pharanea’s sons dropped to their knees, heads bowed, at his arrival. Pharanea should have done the same, but she found herself frozen, marvelling at the glory of her god standing physically before her. His presence pressed upon her senses. With him in the room, nothing else looked quite real. The walls, the floor, her sons, and her own flesh all looked like paltry imitations compared to the bold, impressive reality of Myrth’s form.
Something about him seemed to push the air out of the room and out of Pharanea’s very lungs. She felt herself breathing, but it suddenly felt insufficient. It felt as though something pushed up against her from all sides, as though she were wrapped tightly in a blanket that totally and completely encompassed her.
Tears formed in her eyes. Tears not of fear, but of complete, all-consuming euphoria.
“BREATH, CHILD,” Myrth said. The sound of his voice, though in quality it sounded of whispers, brought pain to her ears with its power. “I AM HERE.”
Myrth stepped toward her, his feet gliding across the metal with a smooth, inhuman gait, heedless of whether he might scuff the circle. He did not, of course, so great was his control over his body and its effect on his surroundings.
Myrth had the body and head and arms and legs of a human, but there would be no mistaking him for one, even without the divine pressure he exerted on those around him. His flesh resembled something closer to that of a salamander, with a sleek, shiny gloss; though of course, comparison to anything mortal did him a disservice.
Around his shoulders, growing from his body, hung a cape of tentacles, some of which draped downward to wrap and cover his lower body. Others reached out into the air around them, exploring their surroundings like questing caterpillars.
“My Lord,” Pharanea breathed. Her knees trembled, threatening to cease supporting her.
“COME,” Myrth said. “WE HAVE LITTLE TIME BEFORE THE FORCES OF AURELIA DETECT MY INCURSION.”
He held out a hand, beckoning him toward her. Around the room, she heard the sounds of her sons shuffling, turning to face away and give her some semblance of privacy. Tentacles from Myrth’s cape reached out as she neared, drawing her close.
He drew her to the ground, lifting her up with ease as He laid down directly upon the summoning circle. He brought her down upon Himself, and she knew something beyond joy, beyond euphoria; something she might label, perhaps, as glory.
When they had finished, Myrth carried her to the edge of the circle, where one of her sons met her with a soft robe. He took her from Myrth, his own strength more than sufficient to bear her exhausted weight. Myrth, with the summoning brush in his hand, returned to the center of the circle.
“YOU HAVE DONE ME A GREAT SERVICE,” Myrth intoned. “YOUR AID WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN AS I BEND AIA TO MY WHIMS.”
With his own hand, Myrth drew the next lines to the summoning circle, those which would send him back to the realm from which he had come. As before, he seemed simply to step away through an opening Pharanea could not perceive.
With him gone, in her drained state, Pharanea found that she could not remember his face, or the feel of his hands upon her, or any of the fine details of their encounter. She could remember the idea of what it had felt like to be in his presence, but the sense memory had already faded.
She sighed. Cradled in her son’s arms like a child, she rubbed her stomach. Soon she would carry the child of the God of Corruption. Soon, she would help him transform the world.