While viewed through the oculus, the god had been fearsome. Terrifying. A tall, titan like figure, embodying chaos and darkness, striding across the storm-warped plain. Armoured in sheets of black metal inlaid with runes and patters of silver fire which crawled like fluorescent sea-larva. A sword or an monstrous axe, it was uncertain which of the two it might be, as not all details were made clearer by the mechanism, was strapped to its heaving back - not that it seemed to have much need of its doomsday weapon. Eldritch fire dripped from its white hands, and bolts of violet lighting forked across the battlefield from the glowing pits of its eyes, immolating its massed foes and scattering the opposing ranks of sorcerers, witch-doctors, and armoured eight-legged, four-armed centaurs which sported their own diminutive magical riders on their backs.
Laughing as it tore out the spine of a centaur, its white-skin crinkling around its sensual lips and its black hair lifted in the field of its own thaumaturgical energies, the terminuses of its tresses braided with miniature silver skulls and swirling in the air like the heads of snakes. It crushed a female wizard under one iron heel, her brains jetting out of the shattered orbits of her eyes as her head deformed. Yellow sun-dogs woven from ancient spells acquired at dear price to the souls of the casters, swarmed, coal-red eyes burning above their narrow muzzles as they washed impotently around the giant’s shins, blue-flamed teeth sparking from its armour. The god drew in its breath, sucked up the sorcerous apparitions like incense rich in human fat into its nostrils. It spoke a Word: a chasm opened up as something obscene and maddeningly inhuman tore a rent in the clouds at its bequest, and drooped poisonous tendrils of mist and inchoate purple flashes onto the remaining forces who melted as if figures cast from wax in its elder embrace, first skin and then muscle, and then bursting internal organs, whilst the lungs of the victims and glowing nervous systems still perversely remained intact, and kept up their screaming.
“Now, I think, would be an opportune time to employ the lasso,” said Thylasses. “While the god-head is distracted by its enjoyment of the spectacle.”
“Yes, magister,” replied the short brown khiropean, and flicked one of the many levers with its arm-wing. There was relatively little noise, a slight click, and a muted humming from the ovoids, then all crowded forward to view the silver mirror of the oculus which had first gone matte and now cleared.
Appearing just over the god’s armoured right shoulder, a noose of pale gossamer light dropped around its neck, tightened, and then both god and lasso disappeared from view even as the titan’s fist closed around its insubstantial substance. There had been no fear on the destroyer’s face, as it did so, only the flicker of minor irritation.
“Ready,” said Thylasses, “we should have it now in the containment zone.”
The others suddenly fearful, hung back, and only in fits and starts dared to approach the flat metal platform where the magister waited. On its dull zinc surface, a strange being was crouched, the lasso still around its neck - hunchbacked, lank white hair falling in greasy clumps across its corpse white skin. Thin as an malnourished child, or a convict diminished by years of slave labour in the gas mines, it quivered with confused rage. Rags and flat pieces of bone were its only clothing, while a twisted stick, with a knapped flint point, banged against its pustulant shoulders.
Thylasses frowned. The god leaped up, drool spiraling down from its slack bottom lip and with a groan sprang at the magister’s throat, a crudely shaped stone in its hand.
Before it could clear the platform, one of the guardians stepped forward and with a chop of the blade of its palm, brought the god crashing to its knees. Picking up the fallen stone, he bashed the god’s head in with the rock.
It whimpered once, and then rolled onto its pale belly and expired, eyes that once feasted on the suffering of millions and to the lamentation of worlds, clouding over. Its last laboured breath forever stilled, they looked up at the finder’s own with the luster of clay marbles.
“Tartarus take it,” said Sevius, “so that’s a god, is it?”
“Pitiful, really,” replied the magister, “but I thought you should see it, all the same. In its own realm it is a monster, a devourer of universes but here, in the ruling reality of the City - we have revealed it for what it is. A beast, barely sentient, the product of infantile desires admixed and bloated by the worship of feeble imaginations.”
“Not very pretty,” said the finder and stepped back away from the dead god. A pair of servants dragged it by its heels from the platform and the magister and his winged assistant turned their attentions to the larger of the black ovoids, which had misted over with ice.
“No,” said the magister, watching the khiropean chip away at the hoarfrost, “they never are.”
* * * *
- Excerpt from Book IV, Hidden Universe