The Era of the Walking Gods

The Five Crowns marveled, for in the flashing of a cosmic moment, the surface of the Prime Material was crawling with things they had not placed there.

Huts of mud and stone were growing like mushrooms from the earth, while pale creatures moved between the trees of forests or lurked in caves in the sides of mountains.  While the goddesses had thrilled at the world they had created, life had come into its own and flourished.

Most curious of her sisters, Qumu descended to the world and as soon as the primitives she approached beheld her divine perfection, they fell to their knees in gabbling worship.  Delighted, she rewarded them, blessing their children with health before returning to her sisters and telling them of what had transpired.  Intrigued, the other Crowns looked where Qumu said.

What they beheld was a tremendous ziggurat, a stepped pyramid atop which priests, their faces stained purple with the juice of psychedelic berries, sacrificed the endless streams of victims which their warriors brought as their empire swept across half the continent.  Carved into the great lintel stones of the temple were visions of a terrible figure clad in starlight; with one hand this figure drank blood from fistfuls of dismembered bodies and with the other, she bestowed immortality upon the painted warriors that served her.

The Five Crowns grew dismayed at how these savages had so twisted Qumu's gift and used it to drive this terrible beast of hatred which ate the land now: the Theocrats of Valjaradan.

Afraid that any more direct intervention would only make the situation worse, Qumu instead plucked a star from the skies and molded it into the form of a child.  She placed it into the stomach of a sleeping woman, who gave birth on the following night.  The child emerged unblemished from the womb, speaking to amazed onlookers that he was Zithras and he had come to harrow the ranks of the Theocrats.  He grew with terrifying speed, becoming a man by the year's end and gathering a great flock of worshippers who swarmed around him and fought against the heresy of their fellows.

When this child lead his followers to the great temple city of Siracosta, it is said that the temple warriors bowed before him and wept with the realization of their sin and all but the most hateful of the priests cast off their vestments and retreated to lives of hermitage and repentance.  Those few High Zealarchs that clung to their power even in the light of the divine were cast down beyond death and it is said their souls were reborn as the first demons, monsters who never forgot the power they wielded and lusted ever after to reclaim their home.

For a time, all seemed well, but as Valjaradan waned in glory, neighbors sought to redress old wrongs or simply claim more land and soon they were menaced on all sides and it seemed even the child of the stars would not be sufficient to quell the rising storm of hate.

So Typhi descended and stole away the eggs of a great, golden eagle and shaped these into more children.  She placed these into the wombs of women: a queen, a fisherman's wife, and a soldier.  From these sprung more children gifted with grace and power, to guide their nations to peace alongside the child of Qumu.  And soon it became apparent that the other Crowns had likewise hidden scions about the world.  As they matured, these children of the divine—these Walking Gods—ushered in a new era of peace.

It is said at the height of the Era of the Walking Gods, seven thousand of the 'Immaculata' commanded all the forces of Zenáthras.  It is during this age that the greatest glories of mortalkind were wrought: the crystal halls of Uoro Xanafar and the sky-city of Doozle; the Alcazar Empyreal said to be formed of ten-thousand-thousand layered seashells and the Tower of Gusk from which the Walking God Dormyn could control the weather of the entire world.

But in time, more and more of the Walking Gods began to hear whispers at the edge of reality, voices that spoke to them of the ineluctable truth of creation: they must choose between law and chaos.

So began the great, subtle discord as the Walking Gods uncovered differences in opinion.  On one side, the Gods of the Celestial Order knew that only through harmony and structure could their mortal charges be safe and the terrible darkness of an uncaring universe kept at bay.  On the other side, the Gods of the Eternal Will knew that only through freedom and revolution could their mortal charges grow and realize their true potential.

It was not a swift or sudden thing when it happened; just a disagreement between two of the Walking Gods where once there had been only perfect accord.  Not a fight or bloodshed or even raised voices: simply an argument left unresolved where, before, they had always been able to reach an agreement.

But it was an indication of a more terrible change that, as tiny disagreement piled atop minor annoyance, gained the impetus of an avalanche.  If the first signs of discord were slow and easy to miss, when the dam broke, it did so like the fall of lightning.  The armies of Khuln surged across the border into the cities of Bytok Arrois and thousands died on pikes forged for war in foundries that had not produced a single blade for a thousand years.

Before the Five Crowns even realized that the first blows had fallen, a war to dwarf anything the Valjaradan had ever dreamed off wracked the surface of Zenáthras.  It was not just men who fought now, with weapons of metal or stone.  These were warriors imbued with the power of divine righteousness, surging in armies lead by living gods who strode the world and smote man and nature alike.

Erogada the Pure swept the armies of Oljik into the sea and defeated the warrior-women of the Pal Omniate, before himself succumbing to the fury of Nupria Tahm the Valorous.  White Jondra sealed the whole of Monzë beneath a mile-thick sheet of ice while Dormyn burned in his tower even as he summoned a storm that would last for a hundred years.  As the fury of the Immaculata grew, it became obvious to even the most devout mortals that they had no place in this war any longer and their righteous bloodshed turned to huddled fear as kings and beggars alike no longer prayed for victory.

They prayed only to survive the War of the Walking Gods.