Wherein the three greatest gods--Tyr, Donablas, and Bane discoursed at the great stone circle Tovag Baragu after the mere demigods Vecna and Janus were foiled by the Intrepid Paragon in their rival attempts at apotheosis. The three greatest of the gods decided the fate of Grund on this day, Midsummer 1511, as the Intrepid Paragon, the Third Bywater Expeditionary Army, the Yazakh hordes, and the advancing Cortalish army watched.
Tyr: Brothers, this field, so steeped in the blood of mortals, this is where our reign in the heavans has been saved; not by us, but by the mortals we have created.
Donablas: Is it not fitting that these same fields, were where Reorx the Forgemaster placed the Godstone; newly forged at the behest of Silvanus Forestlord, in turn deceived into supporting the project by Mask, Master of Deceit. That Godstone which perverted the perfect Age of Silver on Grund, which infused magic into the world, which mutated the perfect three races of Elves, Humans, and Ogres that first populated this world into the multiplicity of life, both arcane and mundane which surrounds us. That was the beginning of the end of our harmony, the beginning of the end of our great experiment with the spirits of the world, for it caused the pendulum to swing uncontrollably between the poles of Good, Neutrality and Evil, rather than existing in Balance.
Bane: I care not for the machinations of mortals; they fight to save their own skins, like the unintelligent animals that populate Grund. I have no respect for such creatures, beings I can crush with the slightest twitch of my hand. Your respect is misplaced "brother" Grimjaws; you merely show your weakness by finding things to respect in these our pets, mere playthings for our amusement. As for you brother Donablas, I expect your scholarly drivel, but care nothing for this place. So it was where the Godstone was placed on Grund and shattered. So these sarsen pillars are its divine remnants, what of it? I am still unconvinced that Vecna's plot and that upstart Janus would have worked. We were gradually eating away at the barrier, and in a few scant years it would have succumbed. True, he would have been powerful and we weakened, but my Gods of Evil could have destroyed him.
Donablas: Ah, an interesting point, how we gods fought Vecna's barrier in three separate efforts, while our minions here, bereft of our guidance cooperated to defeat him without us -- even these known as Southrons and Cortals, the most mortal of enemies. Surely brother Bane, it shows they have true independent thought and their own wills, avoiding the moulds we have cast for them to save themselves. It is something we, the primarchs of the universe cannot achieve. That is something to be noted and recorded, though perhaps not, as brother Tyr claims, to be admired.
Bane: Indeed, they are dangerous. We should destroy the Great One's experiment and begin anew, with more pliant spirits this time. We can let the Void devour this world, and reforge it anew in our own image. This time there need be no Godstone, no, this time the spirits shall remain pure, and shall fight in eternal war at our beck and call, until the final battle in the heavans, the Neldoreth. These mortals have long predicted the end of life on Grund, their Armageddon. Foolish beings, to equate their own doom with our own. If they want this Armageddon, let us give it to them.
Tyr: It seems such a waste, yet much has happened to sully this world in our short absence from it. The people have turned away from us in droves. From the beginning of the crisis, our influence waned. The spirits' own ingenuity has asserted itself in dangerous, forbidden ways.
Donablas: While we controlled Grund, no such inventions could occur, but in our absence, the pent-up designs of the Spirits toward this non-magical "technology" have advanced far. Already we see this advance Elven repeater bolt thrower, the dwarves of Rockhome have experimented with steam and are on the verge of creating a metal "engine" to power yet more "machines." No, I must agree with Bane, this world is tainted beyond repair; we could stem the tide of change, but what has been done cannot be undone. Perhaps the last page of this world has been written, and it is time for another to begin.
Bane: I care not for how these spirits kill themselves, whether by strength, magic, or this "technology" of which you speak. But I too believe the time of this world has come to an end. Let us begin anew, and I shall create a race of truly evil beings in my own image; not like these pitiful Cortal minions, who would so swiftly align themselves with other Spirits of their own kind in our absence. They cease to be amusing; we shall start the great war anew on another world.
Tyr: It seems such a waste, these Spirits, with all their lives, dreams, aspirations, sacrifices. For nothing. Yet Grund has been tainted. As you both agree, particularly you brother Donablas, so too do I. The next time, unlike my beloved elves, some of whom were led into temptation and corrupted into the foul drow, I shall create a more perfect race of Good. And we shall prevail anew in the great war. And all this...all for nothing.
Bane: Not for nothing foolish brother, for our entertainment. They have served that purpose well enough; give them that much "credit."
Donablas: Then we are agreed. Only by all our agreement does this world pass, as we will it so. Thus do I pen the final page of Grund, and thus does another world begin. (He writes volumes swiftly with the stroke of a quill into a massive golden tome, the fabled Book of Destiny. He takes one last look at the field, piled with dead of many races and creeds. Bane is rubbing his hands together expectantly, Tyr's eyes are downcast).
This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
As the three gods form a circle in the center of the ancient, battered stone of Tovag Baragu, all is quiet momentarily, as the divine awe which has kept all spellbound wears off. Soon there is wailing across the field, cries of despair, screams for mercy, murmurings and gibberings as a thousand soldiers of all sides fall to their knees praying for survival. But the three gods pay no notice, and the storm that previously raged over Tovag Baragu begins anew, accompanied this time, with a slight rocking of the ground, even a shimmering in the very air, and every mortal there feels within his being the coming dissolution.
At this point, the Intrepid Paragon members cried for a halt, asking to be heard.
Bane: You would address a god mortal, Die the most horrible of deaths!
Tyr: No! This cannot be. Insolent though these Spirits may be, they have earned the right to at least be heard before we act. Had they not defeated Vecna and the pretender Janus, one of those two would be the greatest power, and we could not destroy them. Even under him, they would have had life, a horrible, evil existence, but still life. Now we plan to reward their success with dissolution. No, they have earned a right to speak in their defense.
Donablas: Very well, let the mortals choose from those present on this field one of each pillar, of Good, Neutrality, and Evil to speak on their behalf. I shall reopen the Book of Destiny to record them, much as I regret changing anything that has been set down already, the Doom of Grund shall be postponed. Think well on who you shall choose within this Circle, and think well what you shall say, for the Doom of this world may depend upon it. You have ten minutes to confer.
After impassioned pleas by Greywolf for Good, Wildcard for Neutrality, and Colstan Rhuul for Evil, the gods were gradually won over by their creations, deciding to give them a second chance.
Donablas: Perhaps the experiment has not failed, only evolved. Perhaps there is still much of note to observe and record. Perhaps what they say is true. Perhaps we have been marginalized somewhat, but still have a role to play. Perhaps this game should be played out to its conclusion, even if it means our own eventual dissolution, perhaps this was what the Great One our Father intended. Tyr and Bane, my brother, you may continue your battle on this world, but I shall not destroy it.
Tyr: Creating a new more perfect world has merit, yet perhaps this is the way of the world as you say. Maybe these mortals are intended to gradually grow more self-reliant and to need us less.
Bane: Bah, very well, let us fight it out on this sullied battlefield, using these tainted but strong surrogates.
Tyr: The war continues in heaven and earth until the final battle of the Neldoreth.
Bane: Enough useless speech. I grow tired of tarrying on this field, the iron fist of my rule needs to be reestablished throughout Grund.
Donablas: We all must reassert control over our wayward flocks, insofar as this is possible in the state of this altered world. I fear that despite your harsh words, this enforced period of freedom from the gods has irrevocably changed Grund. Yet so be it. I agree that we have tarried enough.
Tyr: But surely we should first reward the bravest of these mortals who stood and fought here today, and prevented the ascendance of the two pretenders? I shall begin with the champions of Good.
Donablas: And I shall award the champions who side with Neutrality.
Bane: And now I shall award the vermin who serve the pillar of Evil.
Donablas: Now there remains but one more thing. This stone circle, the remnants of Reorx's divine Godstone, has been harnessed against us. This must never be so again.
Tyr: We shall destroy its magic, insofar as it is possible to destroy this most powerful of artifacts, that changed the entire world.
Bane: I am not satisfied with destroying this collection of stones; let us raze them yes, but also make it so none shall ever approach this blighted spot again, with divine magical guardians. And finally, for some wanton destruction, let us punish these petty mortals, the Yazakh tribesmen, who so readily fell under the sway of the Great Pretender and plotted against us all.
Tyr: But surely, they too were deceived. Even if they should have resisted, I would not wipe out a whole race for this, that a minor godling of our ilk used them against us.
Donablas: Bane is right, and Tyr is right. These Yazak plainsmen shall be taught a lesson, we shall destroy the plains they so love and live by, becoming a landless people doomed forever for their shame. Yet they shall live. Let the heavans open and pour forth waters on this place until it is at the bottom of the sea, that none shall approach what ruins remain of the Godstone and that after a moon has passed, the constant deluge shall engulf all the lands known as Yazakh.
Tyr: This is indeed just. Let it be done.
Bane: Enough talk, let the destruction begin, it shall be called Lake Retribution. And let us away to the heavans; let no god step foot on Grund again lest the pact of the Godswar be broken. From now until the end of time, the Neldoreth, we shall wage war with our minions below yet again. Farewell brothers...
And so the gods departed Grund, and the rains began...