The long-awaited Paladin rework is here! Devotion is now a Priest-only skill, and the Paladins, in turn, learn to use Excision, a skill devoted to using flame and steel to purge that which taints Creation! Read about the launch event below.
As Chaos reigned, it was heard.
A murmur of voices, their tone at once enraptured and determined in an evocation of meaning beyond the ability to fathom. With unadulterated purpose the otherworldly harmony soared in an exalted crescendo, crystalline tones blending seamlessly into a single clarion note. And then, with a sudden, abrupt finality, the ringing note fell still.
Imbued with unified imperative, a single assured voice resounded, “Part.”
A planar rift of empyrean fire opened the skies above Targossas, the Veil Extant shuddering under the imposition of the spoken command. From within its depths the Verapim Neruel descended, settling within Silverbright Square. Targossians and Cyrenians flocked to the angel, hope alight in their eyes as she turned her sightless regard to the Isle of Blackstone. A single, ringing intonation resonated from her mouth, driving white-hot needles into the minds of all those present.
“Celestia?” The Priestess Imaan uttered, face frozen in fear. Neruel turned at the spoken words, and with a dismissive gesture the Verapim incinerated her. Within moments they descended, the Renegades of Celestia. Led first by the Archangel Brathos, the golden armies drenched Targossas in crimson and scarlet. But the Dawnspear would not fall without a fight, and so they charged back with sword and blazing mace.
Ten. Ten radiant Archangels. Their Celestial essence scattered to the winds of the Eastern Reaches. These are the losses the Renegades endured, as the Dawnspear defended their homeland.
The Exarchs Adalphon and Jophiel came next. Trading stoic nods, they marched through the Dawnspear, scything arcs of empyreal brilliance scattering any who attempted to stand against their heavenly might. It was not long before they had cut their path and reached their destination: the Targossian Descent.
And then he came.
The empyreal radiance of raw Celestis flashed through the heavens as a six-winged figure descended in a coruscating blaze of angelic-blue light, shattering the very foundations of Targossas as he made his fated arrival upon the Prime Material. For the first time in the mortal era, the Prime Exarch Zafikel walked upon Sapience, and the air itself shuddered about him.
He crusaded towards his brethren, eradicating the mortals of Cyrene and Targossas that stood in his way. With a final, disdainful glance across the grounds of Blackstone Isle he entered the Descent. The Prime Exarch sheathed his heaven-forged blade and gazed upon a glittering lake, Jophiel and Adalphon standing guard at either side as he began his work. Emerald radiance bled from the Descent as the Prime Exarch fell to his knees for the first time in centuries, pain wracking his flawless features as light pooled in his palms. And then Sapience shook at the fulminous release of raw Celestial power.
Zafikel rose as the skies over Sapience dimmed, his expression one of victorious exultation as he held heaven-wrought consciousness in his grasp, the twin remnants of Mizal and Ziel made physical beneath the empyreal will of the Prime Exarch.
And then, in an instant, they left. The rift above Targossas flickered as it sealed itself shut, and silence overtook the Dawnspear.
As the last echoes of the planar gate over Targossas faded away, the citizens of the Dawnspear gathered amidst blood and grit to assess their losses. Beaten and battered, the stalwart soldiers of the Bloodsworn held vigil before the underground lake nestled deep within the Targossian Descent, and lifted their voices in prayer to their Lord and Lady. Yet as the prayer began a feeling took hold within those girded by the Devotion which flows directly from Them, a sense of phantom fingers scrabbling, tearing, grasping at the very fabric of their being. Those guardian angels lingering at the side of their companions sagged as though dealt a mighty blow, before winking out entirely. In a sudden jerk of something displaced all at once away and elsewhere, Devotional energy was irrevocably sundered from all those without that celestial bulwark.
Huffing and puffing with the exertion, the stout form of Father Garron arrived to a crowd caught in the throes of lamentation, uncertainty and worry lining every face. Having felt the displacing sensation even in the village of Jaru, the priest and the Targossians rapidly concluded that all of those possessed of Devotion must have suffered the impact, with only the intervention of guardian angels sparing the Priesthood at large. Confused at first, the citizenry informed Father Garron of the two presences that had resided within the depths of the lake, a pair of Exarchs left on the very cusp between life and death for centuries, fed Devotional energies by those of the Old Blood in an attempt to repair the damage that had been done. The old priest reached out one hand to rest upon the fonts situated at the lakeside, once receptacles and links for those energies to be joined to the existence of the wounded angels. A link, he surmised, which had been left open and ripe for the taking.
As the clamour of voices rose on all sides, lambent flame kindled to life of its own accord within the thurible held by Father Garron, casting the scene into merciless clarity. Surprised, the Jaruvian priest lifted his thurible higher, and with an unmistakable tug the flame demanded they follow, setting an unerring course towards the hallowed halls of Adroushan.
Yet this journey was not to be an easy one, for the wandering steps of Halos Vorondil are ever prone to lead a winding and uncertain course. After some prolonged stumbling through the sandy dunes of the Mhojave the group arrived at the caverns dedicated to the Justice That Is. The guiding flames within Father Garron’s thurible winked out, their purpose served as the faithful gathered before the searing wisp of Righteous Fire.
Atalkez Al’Jafri was the first to step forward, a paladin severed from that which had enabled him to stand shrouded in Their grace, to do battle with those who would defile the very bounds of Creation itself. With a solemn nod did he lift the jug of sacred oil over his head and douse himself, before plunging his hand into the unforgiving depths of the Flame.
Thus it was that Atalkez Al’Jafri was renewed from within roaring conflagration and drifting ash, stepping forth from the Righteous Fire with renewed purpose. Never again would Paladins merely stand, for it was the imperative now instilled within their very souls to be the blade of excision.
Father Garron’s wrinkled features broke into a broad grin, his robin-egg blue eyes shining as he murmured, “They are ever our Guides, and may we never fail to follow.”
Summary: The Renegades of Celestia took advantage of the chaos that plagued Sapience to initiate a raid upon the city of Targossas, intent on taking the remains of the Exarchs Mizal and Ziel that resided in the Descent. They were successful, and departed with haste, leaving the purpose of their assault shrouded in mystery.
In the wake of their raid, the Renegades of Celestia utilised a lingering connection between the Exarchs Mizal and Ziel and the devotion of the Targossians. Using this, they attempted to tear the Bloodsworn’s gift away, only successfully doing so to Paladins. Guided by Father Garron, the devotionless Paladins wandered to Adroushan, where they immolated in the fires, emerging with a new gift, the art of Excision.