“You are too valuable to risk before the first and final sword is drawn. Sentiment clouds your otherwise flawless judgement in this matter. Set it aside.”
The rebuke was spoken without inflection, and yet it provoked an immediate tension among the strange congregation who stood atop a lone isle of dark stone amidst a sea of abyssal black. The day had been long and full of unpleasant surprises already, and these men and women were swiftly roused to wrath even when otherwise content.
If not for the hallowed ground upon which they stood, perhaps things would have been different. Yet not even the Desolation would spill blood at the foot of the Final Throne, and so war was waged with words instead of blade or spell.
Yet at the last it was the speaker who got his way, for the black will that drove them spoke His dire decree:
“My Unbroken Hand. You will make the journey, alone. Make arrangements.”
So it was set into motion.
It was a day like many of late for Dawnlord Atalkez Al’Jafri. The battles with the servants of the Enemy had been hard fought, but fought they had been and fought they would be. It was in one of the few lulls between the clash of sword and sacred prayer against twisted sorcery and profaned iron that the first sign that something was wrong occurred.
Without warning or implication, a burning eye tore itself open in mid-air to gaze upon the Avatar of Light. A vigil full of some malevolent purpose, utterly focussed upon him and him alone.
The Dawnlord readied himself for battle, for he was no stranger to unconventional attacks. Was this some new demonic working of the Western Isle? Some accursed sorcery of the mad Occultists? Perhaps even something cooked up in the immoral depths of the Hashan Laboratory?
It did not matter. It would find no easy victory here, only fire, and light, and steel.
Yet the eye only stared at him for a long moment before vanishing. A warning? A retreat? Something else?
The Dawnlord didn’t know, but with the instincts of a veteran he knew: it was nothing good, and only the beginning.
Unfortunately, he was right.
The High Priest of Oblivion was a rather elusive foe. Often spending long periods secluded behind ward and worse, it was a rare opportunity when he was out in the open and vulnerable without good reason.
The forces of the Bloodsworn were not willing to waste the opportunity. One clash had ended in his escape, but they had planned this time.
Yet as the first blow landed upon the scowling priestess who had accompanied the Supreme Pontiff, something unexpected took place. Both Mordanyconus and Zeyeran vanished with a sound like glass shattering, illusion unwinding and dispersing as it came under attack. Somehow, the High Priest had known. Betrayal? Subterfuge? Luck? Questions that will need to be answered in the days ahead, but it was what came next that will be most on the minds of the enemies of the Mad God.
As profane fires burned and power anathema shattered flesh and bone beneath the emotionless eye of the nightmare clad in a man’s flesh, and as Redeemer did battle with the irredeemable: a lone question remains.
What new horror has been unleashed upon the Inner Planes, and for what terrible purpose?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Summary: Upon the Bloodsworn’s return to the Inner Planes, an agent was directed to make way to the Inner Planes by one of Their enemies. This came to a head in the manifestation of an entity calling himself the Unbroken within the Mhojave Desert, though his mission yet remains unclear.