Three women dressed in crimson scale armor and cloaks hovered in the air about a kilomel from the elemental rift. Besides the eye-catching clothing, the trio were all very similar in many ways. Their hair-colors were different, with one golden blond, one dark black and one with short red hair in a warrior cut, but otherwise they resembled each other greatly. They weren’t identical enough to be mistaken for sisters, but they all had the same pale skin, same blood-red eyes and sharp and elegant features. If they didn’t exude an almost oppressive aura of power and ferocity, one would’ve thought of them as very beautiful.
At first glance one would think of the three as humans, but that false assumption wouldn’t last for very long. In any case, anyone with even the basic knowledge of the machinations within the inner circles of Pantheon would recognize the crimson armor, for no other community within Pantheon wore one like it. They all knew better.
All three of them also carried a large two-handed sword identical to the other two. Some would call the sword a claymore. They were obviously visible on the three women’s backs, only slightly strapped over the red cloak, mostly kept in place by the power of the women themselves. The weapons seemed simple at first glance, but if one examined them closer they could see that the swords were covered in runes and intricate patterns all the way from the pommel to the tip of the blade. The runes and patterns were not for decoration though, as they were almost too fine to even be seen without stellar eyesight.
“What’s the situation?” The eldest looking black haired woman asked. Eldest looking in this case only meant the slightest of differences as they all seemed to have an ageless quality about them.
The blond woman replied. “The rift is settling down. For some reason the battle within the rift seems to have gone on a lot longer than usual for a rift this size, but it is stabilizing now. It seems to be forming as a rift to the elemental plane of ice.”
“That works for our purposes perfectly. Do we have rival claimants?” The black haired woman asked again.
This time the red short haired woman answered. “No. The big nine won’t bother with a rift this small. The Revenant are always interested in elemental rifts, but they’ll give us this one thanks to us arriving first. They need every rift they can get, but this one isn’t big enough to fight for, especially out here in the boondocks like this. The other communities know better than to pick a fight with us.”
The blond woman interjected. “There was a tiny psion from some third rate community searching the area around the rift, but she wasn’t here for the rift specifically. Apparently she was looking for her disciple. I shooed her away and she knew not to resist. I mentioned that in the unlikely event that we run into her disciple that we’d send her through the gate to the evacuation site the Holy Orders run.”
The words ‘third rate’ coming from the blond woman’s mouth weren’t really pejorative, rather it was more used as a descriptive term for a community of the third circle. It was a rather common way to describe those communities by the people from second and first circles, though many of them definitely used it more as a pejorative.
“That was rather magnanimous of you.” The black haired woman said, without really caring about the issue at all.
“Well it’s often useful to have a mental type psion owe you one, considering how rare they can be.” The blond woman replied. In fact their own community by their very nature had no psions at all, though they would also argue that they didn’t need any. “Besides, she seemed rather skilled. For a mortal.”
As the trio flew closer to the rift, they couldn’t quite understand why there were no elementals around the rift.
“There’s something off about this. Even if the battle within the rift had been exhausting, there should be some elementals in the area.” The red haired woman said a little warily.
Yet there were none around, and there was no sign of any trying to come through the rift either. They even sent a probe of power to check the other side, and saw no activity. The rift was active, and there was elemental energy flowing in the surroundings. The ground was frosting over and the temperature was dropping, but no elementals.
“It’s as if all the elementals in the area died off or something.” The blond woman muttered.
“That shouldn’t be. The rift should be at its most active right before and after stabilizing.” The black haired woman dismissed the notion.
“What’s that?” The blond woman asked pointing at a small crater near the rift, with something white in the middle.
“The corpse of a beast?” The red haired woman guessed. There had been other dead beasts, though not this close to the rift and not this well preserved.
The black haired woman suddenly signaled for them to stop. “That’s not a corpse. Whatever it is, it’s still alive. I can smell the blood flowing in her veins. It’s filled with life-force and energy.”
“What? I can’t sense her presence at all, even when I know she’s there.” The blond woman looked on in shock, and then sniffed the air, confirming the other woman’s words.
“Well if it isn’t dead yet, we can help it on the way.” The red haired woman grinned while reaching for her sword.
With the speed of the red haired woman she could kill the white being in less than a second. Yet something happened that made the eldest woman put a hand on the other woman’s shoulder, stopping her from moving. “Wait.”
A glowing symbol suddenly appeared above the body. The trio was very familiar with such symbols of the deities. That alone would not stop them. Even though they didn’t want to antagonize the deities without reason, they didn’t go out of their way to avoid killing the servants of the gods either. They didn’t need to. They had enough power to make enemies with almost any deity.
However, certain gods took attacks on their servants more seriously than others, and other deities were just much too bothersome to antagonize. Their community had a list of ten gods and their symbols with warnings not to pick fights with them. Those ten were not the ten most powerful gods, although there was obviously some overlap. Umbra for instance didn’t generally care if one of her servants died, so she wasn’t on the list. On the other hand, certain goddess of vengeance was, for obvious reasons.
Even with that list, the seven latter names were flexible. Their community wouldn’t bow down to someone just because they got blessed by one of those seven gods, they just would just take steps to avoid those blessed people when possible. The three first names on the list were very different however. Number three was the goddess of vengeance, who for obvious reasons didn’t take it lying down when one of hers dies. Luckily she very rarely blessed anyone and those that she did were focused on their own quest for revenge.
Number two on that list was only known as Death. There were numerous deities associated with death, from the way you died to those that were supposed to govern afterlife. However, there was only one entity that claimed power over death itself. It was rumored that Death also managed what was known as River of Souls and the cycle of reincarnation, though that concept warred with the various ideas of afterlives. Who could say what the truth was? In any case, Death was on the list, though they had never ran into one of its servants.
Far beyond these two and much further beyond the other seven was number one on the list. That name and symbol combination had been outlined, and had five exclamation marks after it. Do not touch! The symbol of a serpent eating its tail in the form of an infinite hourglass was shown to every member of their community, along with a warning of staying away.
No member of their community had seen one in eons. Yet now that same symbol was floating there in front of the trio. “The symbol of Eternity!” The black haired woman hissed between her teeth.
The symbol didn’t seem threatening, just seemed to be warning them. “What is the symbol of Eternity doing here?” The blond woman asked in a whisper.
The trio called it the symbol of Eternity, but that wasn’t really an official name for it. The deity behind the symbol was shrouded in mystery, so much so that his name and domain of power were also unknown. The priests had given the deity the name Eternity, due to the fact that they knew his domain included time, and that he was perhaps the oldest living god in existence. He was also, by far, the most powerful. At least as far as the priests and most of the gods they served were aware.
There were horror stories of a being bearing the mark of Eternity suffering at the hands of one of the ancient empires that spanned several worlds and had existed before Pantheon. That empire was no more, gone in a blink of an eye. Unlike many horror stories, this one was attested to by many of those that use to be enslaved by that ancient empire. It was held as an example of what hubris can do, when someone imagines themselves to be beyond the reach of the deities.
The black haired woman could now see that the white creature the symbol was protecting was some sort of weird kitsune with werewolf blood of all things. How those two races shacked up was a mystery to the woman. ‘Then again, if there is a being worthy of being protected by Eternity, then I suppose those two races combined make for a good candidate.’
“Wait, I think that’s the disciple I mentioned earlier. The one the psion mortal was looking for. I’m pretty sure she mentioned a white furred kitsune.” The blond woman quietly said.
“Well, we need to get her out of here. You made the promise, so you deliver.” The black haired woman pushed the responsibility on the other woman’s shoulders before slowly backing off with the red haired woman.
“Just great.” The blond woman muttered. She slowly inched closer to the kitsune. The symbol floating in the air became brighter for a moment as a warning. The woman lifter her hands in a placating gesture, trying to show she was here to help. As she got close, she used her power to carefully check the kitsune, and to her relief found out that she was alright. Apparently exhausted, but alright. “Well then. We better get you out of here.”