Written by Dice
An extract from “The Fall and Rise of All” – a larger work of fiction based around the fantasy world of Eate.
The castle suddenly shook and large lumps of rock fell from higher battlements. Some hit other fighters, some rolled harmlessly away. None came close to hitting Jaric. Dejectedly, he looked across at the tall tower on the other side of the courtyard – they had already lost it two days before. At the top of what was the tallest tower in the castle complex, another battle furiously raged; one no mortal being or Maysa would have ever seen before. It had started years before and the Thrwan armies were here to take advantage. For at the top of the tower, the Lord God Dorun fought the The Creator. Dark clouds wrapped around the tower and lightning constantly flashed against it.
Occasionally, the immense power of these two beings erupted from the tower and shook the ruined city. Jaric had fought in long sieges before, but never had there been so much destruction. It had once been Ceannais, the grand capital of Dormanica, but now it was mostly rubble. Buildings and siege proof defences flattened by the indefinable celestial battle.
“Breach! The Gate is Breached!” came a cry from inside the keep.
This is it, thought Jaric, it’s over. The keep has been breached, the endless hordes of Thrwan soldiers will flood the remaining defenders. The fighting will be hard, but eventually it will be over. Other sword and spearmen were already rushing past Jaric into the keep. Slowly, using the wall and his sword for support, he wrenched his tired body to his feet.
He was just about to join the others rushing to the keep when the floor shook more violently than before and Jaric fell again, this time against the parapet. The battle went deadly silent for a moment, like it often did after the worst shakes, almost as if the battle was taking a breath before continuing. As the shouts restarted the ground shook even harder, feeling like liquid. Tossed like a ship on the roughest seas, soldiers were strewn. The few remaining buildings in the city crumbled like magical dandruff. Jaric clung onto one of the merlions with all his might. There was an almighty crash of lightning and the whole ground seemed to lurch down, throwing everyone, including Jaric, into the air. Jaric himself toppled over the battlement falling into the courtyard; his fall only broken by the dead bodies piled against the wall.
The ground stilled and Jaric jumped to his feet expecting to find every enemy soldier in the congested courtyard facing him. But they had all fallen too and were shakily returning to their feet. Jaric looked around him, other soldiers from his platoon had also fallen from the wall and were standing either side of him, looking up at the tall tower. The Thrwan soldiers also turned to look up at it; scared of what he’d see Jaric followed their gaze.
The whole roof and the walls surrounding the top floor of the tower were gone. The clouds had parted in a spherical shape. It was hard to see so far up, but in the centre two overly large human shaped figures struggled against each other. They were encased in a large ball of blue light which was pulsing and trying to expand.
Suddenly the ball of light exploded, expanding in all directions at an incredible rate. It raced towards Jaric who turned away from it to protect himself, but as it passed it only felt like a strong gust of wind. He looked back quickly. The whole top half of the tower had blown away, the debris scattered for miles. The two figures from the top were falling at an incredible speed. One held the other below its own body, aiming its opponent’s head to the ground. All around Jaric, soldiers stood aghast, there wasn’t much time to understand what was happening, but somehow everyone knew this was it, the battle of the gods was coming to an end. Doubt flashed in Jaric’s mind, what if Dorun lost?
The two falling divine competitors crashed into the floor of the courtyard and the whole ground lurched again, like carpet swept under one’s feet. Jaric fell, this time hitting stone floor. He ignored the pain, it was just another bruise after all. Others who had been close to the impact where thrown across the courtyard into the surrounding walls, some were thrown clean over.
Jaric ignored the new pains in his body and, like everyone else in the courtyard, scrambled to his feet. Everyone strained their eyes, willing them to look through the dust cloud in the centre of the courtyard. All wanting the same answer, which god, if either would still be standing.
Some Thrwan soldiers who had been closer to the impact screamed, what did that mean? Did it mean Dorun had won?
The dust began to clear, only one figure stood in the centre. Three times taller than any of the mortals around it and undoubtedly female. The Godess, the Creator, the Mother, had defeated Dorun. The dust dissipated making the image clear. She stood amongst them barefoot, wearing a simple thin-silk unblemished white dress. Womanly in shape, she was without a single imperfection, had long golden hair which flowed in the wind, and bright blue eyes that stared with determination and hate. The Goddess was more beautiful than any human, or elf, any of them had ever seen. Her beauty was terrifying. She had overthrown Dorun, and her body and clothing showed no signs of battle that a mortal would expect.
Soldiers from both sides screamed, some fled. Jaric stood paralysed in fear of the vision in front of him.
The Goddess seemed to hear the screams and looked around her. The anger and hate in her eyes faded into sadness. She looked down at her feet. Apart from a small crack in the courtyard floor there was no sign of the impact. She looked up quickly as if she had sensed something. The Creator looked at the humans around her with an expression of determination softening, while tears began to fill her sad eyes. She no longer looked terrifying; instead she looked devastatingly beautiful and, despite her large size, completely fragile.
When she spoke her voice was soft and soothing, but immeasurably sad.
“My children. My lost children. I… I am sorry.”
Tears freely flowed from her eyes as she faded and vanished. Her words were poignant, she had called them her children, never before had humans been called the children of The Mother. They were not elves or Maysa, they were raised as dirt, as pawns of war. And sorry, sorry for what? All in the courtyard wondered it. Sorry for destroying their God? No, she had spoken to those who followed Thrwa too. Sorry for destroying the city? No, it seemed more meaningful than that.
All stood in silence staring at the crack left by the impact. Light spread across the courtyard as dawn broke from behind the courtyard’s fallen eastern wall. The quiet was broken by the clanging of metal on stone. Jaric looked behind him. Dormanican soldiers were throwing their swords down in surrender. Their God was dead, what was the point of fighting in his name? Jaric threw his sword down and looked towards the Thrwan army. Someone shouted something in the Thrwan language an they raised their bows and aimed at the surrendered soldiers.
This was it at last thought Jaric as he closed his eyes. It was ending.
There was a great rumbling sound when Jaric slowly opened his eyes again. The Thrwan soldiers had lowered their bows and turned in the direction of the sound, which was getting louder. Jaric raised his arm to block the blinding sun and, though the light glare faded, he still could not process what he could see rising high above wreckage of the city.
As part of a larger work, Dice’s story excerpt is a bold telling of war. The Rise and Fall of All reminds us that a war between Gods and Goddesses, however epic, still paints a terrifying picture of destruction. In complete disarray, the city falls, and so do the hearts of men, women and children. The battle between power is a never-ending one, but in the end it’s The Creator who hates herself for all she has unleashed. If you enjoyed Dice’s work in the World of Eate, perhaps view other stories from a fantasy world published on Inkblots, including “The Ascension of the Pilgrim”.
Featured Image CC // Tim Lucas