Difference between revisions of "Talons of Tyranny"

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! style="text-align: center;" colspan="2" |<span style="font-size: 125%;">Dark Magic</span>
 
! style="text-align: center;" colspan="2" |<span style="font-size: 125%;">Dark Magic</span>
 
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| style="text-align: center; font-style: italic;" colspan="2" |Coming soon
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| style="text-align: center; font-style: italic;" colspan="2" |"A tale of revenge as old as time, of dark magic and a queen in her prime."
 
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| style="width: 110px; text-align: center;" |[[File:TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png|100px|link=]]
 
| style="width: 110px; text-align: center;" |[[File:TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png|100px|link=]]

Revision as of 20:10, 1 May 2021

TalonsOfTyranny Logo.png

Talons of Tyranny is an event in SMITE made for the introduction of Gilgamesh. It begins right after the conclusion of Dawn of Babylon's story. It began on March 23, 2021.

Description

TalonsOfTyranny Chapter2 LobbyBG.png

Welcome to the Talons of Tyranny Event!

There will be 4 chapters in this event spanning over 4 updates. Each chapter has a chest containing 5 Skins and a Cosmetic Bundle.

On release of a new chapter, there will be an initial discount. Once the next chapter releases, the discount will no longer be available.

You can either roll the chapter chest or directly purchase the skin you desire in the store.

Quests

Purchasing ANY item from a chapter will unlock that chapter's quests which reward Gems.

Unlimited Chapter Rewards

In order to obtain the unlimited chapter reward, you will have to unlock every item in that chapter.

Unlimited Collection Reward

Unlock all items from ALL 4 chapter chest to receive the Unlimited Chaac Skin!

Talons of Tyranny Cosmetic Items

These are the items that are available during the event. Items are bound to Chapter themed chests. Upon rolling the chest, the player will randomly receive one of the 5 items. The chests start with only 3 items, with more being gradually added per update up to 5 items per chest.

These are the chests currently available:

Unlocks

God Skins

Bit Slayer
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Tsukuyomi BitSlayer Icon.png God Skin March 23, 2021 An exclusive skin for Tsukuyomi. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unholy Doodle
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Ra UnholyDoodle Icon.png God Skin March 23, 2021 An exclusive skin for Ra. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Battle Tagger
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Skadi BattleTagger Icon.png God Skin March 23, 2021 An exclusive skin for Skadi. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Prince of Lightning
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny ZeusSkin Icon.png God Skin April 6, 2021 An exclusive skin for Zeus. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Rune Machina
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny GaneshaSkin Icon.png God Skin April 6, 2021 An exclusive skin for Ganesha. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Cosmetic Bundle

Overlord
Icon Type Release Date Description
Title Overlord.png Title April 6, 2021 An exclusive title.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Talons of Tyranny
Icon Type Release Date Description
Frame TalonsOfTyranny Icon.png Loading Frame April 6, 2021 An exclusive Loading Frame.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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God Skins

Chilling Hersir
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Ares ChillingHersir Icon.png God Skin April 20, 2021 An exclusive skin for Ares. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Headless Horror
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Chiron HeadlessHorror Icon.png God Skin April 20, 2021 An exclusive skin for Chiron. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Lady of the Sea
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Discordia LadyOfTheSea Icon.png God Skin April 20, 2021 An exclusive skin for Discordia. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Kuzenbot
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny KuzenboSkin Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Kuzenbo. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Stitched Creation
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny AgniSkin Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Agni. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Cosmetic Bundle

Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Ch2Bundle Icon.png Unknown Unknown Unknown.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Ch2Bundle Icon.png Unknown Unknown Unknown.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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God Skins

Malware Master
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Ah Puch. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Depths Defender
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Odin. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Moon Seer
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Olorun. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Guan Yu. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

EmbedVideo is missing a required parameter.
Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Chronos. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Cosmetic Bundle

Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png Unknown Unknown Unknown.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png Unknown Unknown Unknown.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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God Skins

Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Ratatoskr. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Tyr. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Hachiman. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Eset. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An exclusive skin for Terra. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Cosmetic Bundle

Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png Unknown Unknown Unknown.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png Unknown Unknown Unknown.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Chapter Reward

Deathy Chibi
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Thanatos DeathyChibi Icon.png God Skin March 23, 2021 An Unlimited skin for Thanatos. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

EmbedVideo is missing a required parameter.

Tormented Soul
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Medusa TormentedSoul Icon.png God Skin April 20, 2021 An Unlimited skin for Medusa. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

EmbedVideo is missing a required parameter.

Sea Nymph
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An Unlimited skin for Sol. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Unknown
Icon Type Release Date Description
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png God Skin Unknown An Unlimited skin for Izanami. It has custom animations and ability effects, and [[|custom voicelines]].
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Collection Reward

Forgotten Gods
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Chaac ForgottenGods Icon.png God Skin March 23, 2021 An Unlimited skin for Chaac. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines. Also comes with a Jump Stamp and a Recall Skin.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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List of quests

At least one item from a chapter has to be purchased to unlock that chapters quests. The player is able to earn 100 Gems per chapter by completing both quests.

Sand Dunes
"Surrounded by a sea of dunes, lays a garden lush with vibrant plumes."
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter1 Icon.png
Requirement
Play 2 Arena Matches.
Reward
50 Gems.png
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter1 Icon.png
Requirement
Get 60 Kills and Assists.
Reward
50 Gems.png

Babylonian King
"The desert, harsh as can be, but one King rises, to seek immortality."
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter2 Icon.png
Requirement
Deal 50,000 Player Damage.
Reward
50 Gems.png
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter2 Icon.png
Requirement
Earn 60,000 Gold.
Reward
50 Gems.png

Dark Magic
"A tale of revenge as old as time, of dark magic and a queen in her prime."
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png
Requirement
Get 2 Wins of the Day!
Reward
50 Gems.png
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter3 Icon.png
Requirement
Get 50 Kills and Assists.
Reward
50 Gems.png

Queen of Darkness
Coming soon
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png
Requirement
Play 2 Games.
Reward
50 Gems.png
TalonsOfTyranny Chapter4 Icon.png
Requirement
Earn 50,000 Gold.
Reward
50 Gems.png

Lore

Chapter 1: Diplomacy

TalonsOfTyranny Chapter1 LoreIcon.png

The moon rose over the Taihang Mountains, and the dead murmured contentedly in their graves. Mulan walked among them, listening to their stories. When she heard the soft hiss of blooming flowers, she stopped and turned. “Hello my friend.”

“Mulan,” Persephone said, stepping out of the trees. “I am glad to see you.”

“As I am glad to see you.” Mulan embraced her friend, and together they sat, listening to the night birds call to one another. “Hades has reopened the gates of the underworld?” Mulan asked, after several moments.

“He has.”

“Then he believes the threat is ended?”

“Isn’t it?” Persephone inhaled deeply, as if tasting the air. “I can no longer smell that creature’s taint on the wind. What of your own lands?”

“Better than they were. The corrupted jade has been…cleansed. And Cthulhu’s madness has faded from the minds of the other gods…” Mulan paused. Persephone was smiling. “What?”

“Other gods,” Persephone repeated. She plucked a white flower from one of the grave markers and held it up. “The mantle of divinity rests more easily on your shoulders these days.” The flower sprouted thorny tendrils of green that coiled lovingly about her wrist.

Mulan studied her hands. Still calloused, despite her ascension. Perhaps they always would be. “I have…come to terms with it. With myself.”

“That is good to hear.” Persephone looked at her. “Will you go to Olympus?”

“Will you?”

“I will not be welcome there for some time, I think,” Persephone said, leaning back. “Even so, I am curious as to the new arrival.”

“Tiamat,” Mulan said. The wind had carried her name across China. The saviour of the world, whose return had seen the banishment of Cthulhu. She did not know what to make of the dragon. Nor did the other members of her pantheon, come to that. Some thought her a potential ally, others thought her as dangerous as Cthulhu. “What do you make of her?”

“She is powerful I know that much.”

“She is the one who cleansed China of the jade.”

“She did the same for the rest of the world as well – and more than just the world. Asgard has been restored and Yggdrasill. It is as if none of it ever happened.”

“You must find that a relief.” Mulan paused. The dead had fallen silent – as if awaiting something. She glanced at Persephone, and saw that the other goddess had stiffened in alarm. “What is it?”

“Do you hear that?”

Mulan did. A faint, irregular creaking that grew louder with every passing moment. Suddenly, a raucous chorus of blackbirds burst from the trees and rose into the night sky. Then, a heavy, awkward shape erupted into view at the edge of the graveyard.

“Is that -?” Mulan began, staring at the apparition.

“Baba Yaga,” Persephone growled, rising to her feet.

“The very same,” came a familiar voice from behind them. They whirled to find the old witch crouched amid the grave markers, surrounded by a bevy of floating skulls. As they watched, she uprooted another and set it to hang in the air beside its fellows. “Don’t mind me. Just collecting on old debt.”

“What are you doing here, witch?” Persephone demanded.

“As I said, collecting on a debt. I am owed many favours, by many beings, alive and dead, mortal and divine.” Baba Yaga’s gaze fixed on them. “Come to think of it, don’t you two still owe me favours?”

“We paid our debt to you,” Mulan said. Her hand fell to her sword hilt. The old witch was dangerous, though in ways she did not quite understand. Even fierce Guan-Yu stepped lightly around Baba Yaga.

“Much good as it did us,” Persephone said.

Baba Yaga chuckled. “You have a complaint about my services, Queen of the Underworld?”

Persephone glared at her. “Your prophecy was wrong. The dark sea was thrown back – Cthulhu was defeated! But not by anything we did.”

Baba Yaga cackled. “And what makes you think I was referring to him, the great blubbery nightmare? Oh he was bad, to be sure – a doom that might have eaten the world. But he wasn’t the one I was worried about. Nor was he the one I warned you of.”

“What?” Mulan glanced at Persephone. “We thought -”

“Is it my business what you thought?” Baba Yaga gestured and the skulls danced in the air about her for a moment, before resolutely swooping off towards her chicken-legged hut. “You think Cthulhu was the sea? Ha! If that was so, why would the waters have bound him? No, the sea has swallowed him up – and it threatens to do the same to all of us as well.”

“What sea?” Persephone asked.

“The sea, girl. The first sea, that filled the abyss – the sea that birthed this world and all that walks or crawls upon it.” Baba Yaga leered at them. “The sea that she rose from, before any other, the Glistening One, in all her glory.”

Persephone grimaced. “Stop spouting cryptic nonsense and put it plainly for once in your misbegotten existence.”

“Tiamat,” Mulan said, softly. “She is talking about Tiamat.”

*

Olorun stood amid a garden of wilting greenery, studying the distant mountain and the immense ziggurat at its summit. The shadow of the newborn mountain shrouded much of Olympus and many of its gardens were suffering as a result. It was a small matter – the gardens could be reawakened at a touch from one or more of the gods now gathered in Olympus. But it irked him nonetheless.

He heard someone step onto the balcony behind him. “Looking at the stars, Olorun?” Yemoja asked. Olorun turned.

“As if I could see them with that thing in the way,” he said. Tiamat’s mountain blocked the moon and the stars as well as the sun. Yemoja frowned.

“I asked the rivers about her. Our new neighbour.”

Olorun paused. “And what did they say?”

“Nothing.”

Olorun’s eyes narrowed. “They did not know of her?” If Tiamat were as old as she claimed, it seemed impossible that the rivers would not know something.

“No.” Yemoja looked away. “They refused to speak of her.”

Olorun was momentarily taken aback. “I have never known the rivers to refuse you anything,” he said, choosing his words with care.

“They never have – until now.” She looked past him, at Tiamat’s temple. “They are afraid, Olorun. And they are not the only ones.”

“Have they arrived then?”

“Some. Not all. But some. Come. They are waiting in the meeting chamber.”

When they arrived in the meeting chamber, an argument was already in progress. Heimdallr, representative for the Aesir, sat with his arms crossed and a stoic expression on his face as Sobek, crocodile-headed god of the Nile, loomed over him. “And I say you are a fool, Aesir,” Sobek growled. “She is no benefactress, but a predator circling us.”

“The Aesir have no complaint against this new goddess,” Heimdallr said. “She has restored Asgard to its former glory. Whether she intended to do so or not is of no importance. The deed was done and the Allfather has decreed we treat it as the gift it was.”

Sobek snarled wordlessly and turned as Olorun and Yemoja entered the chamber. “Surely you must see sense,” he said. “Tiamat cannot be trusted.”

“Set evidently disagreed,” Zeus put in, from where he sat. “It was by his cunning that she was awakened, after all.”

Sobek grunted. “Set is a vainglorious fool, and he always has been. That he thought it best to awaken this creature is a sure sign that it will have dire consequences for us all.”

“Whatever his intentions, the deed has been done,” Olorun said, as he took his place at the head of the table. He looked at the gathered gods – representatives from all of the major pantheons. Fewer than he’d hoped, but more than he’d expected – especially after recent events. Enough, perhaps, to achieve some form of consensus on the matter facing them. Though, given what he’d seen to date, perhaps that was a vain hope. “The question is, what is to be done about it?”

“I am all for knocking that oversized rock pile down,” Zeus said, grinning fiercely. “Can’t have it casting its shadow over Olympus forever, after all.” He looked at Hera, but she did not return his smile.

“I believe Tiamat has earned a moment’s grace, at least,” she said. Zeus’ smile became a scowl and he looked away. Olorun knew that like their leaders, the Olympians were divided on the matter. So were most of the other pantheons.

“As does Odin,” Heimdallr said. Asgard’s restoration had gone a long way towards garnering Tiamat allies among the Aesir, Olorun judged. Or, if not allies then peaceful neighbours, at least.

“She is dangerous,” Sobek said. “More dangerous than any being we have ever faced. Better to destroy her now, before she destroys us.”

“And is that Horus’ opinion – or yours, Master of the Nile?” Hera asked.

Sobek bowed his head. “I speak for Horus in this – and the rest. The Egyptian pantheon stands united in this, if nothing else.”

“All save Set, of course,” Olorun said, stroking his chin. “Where is he, by the way?”

Sobek scratched at his neck with a talon. “Vanished. Horus barely managed to escape the collapse of Tiamat’s temple. We assume Set and his cronies must have done so as well.”

“Loki has yet to return to Asgard,” Heimdallr put in. “I have sought for any sign of him, but he has gone to ground – possibly in one of the other realms.” He shrugged. “Perhaps Bellona and the others are with him.”

“They must be found,” Ares spoke up, startling everyone present. The god of war had spoken little since his return to Olympus. “They may know something of this creature – some knowledge that could be of use to us in the future.”

Olorun gave him a sharp look. Ares spoke as if he were already planning for the worst. Then, given his nature, perhaps that was to be expected. Olorun took some comfort in that. He’d had his doubts about Ares when Hera had first suggested eliciting his aid. But the war-god had more than proven his mettle in the struggle against Cthulhu.

“Set and the others are not important,” Chaac rumbled. The Maya god of the storm rose from his seat. “Tiamat is all that should concern us. Kukulkan advises patience and wariness – I say let us see what she plans before we make any rash decisions.”

Olorun’s eyes scanned the assembled gods. Most were nodding in agreement with Chaac. Others, from their expressions, seemed to prefer Zeus’ suggestion. He paused as his gaze came to rest on the noble features of Arthur, king of a forgotten kingdom and defender of Avalon. During Cthulhu’s rampage, Arthur and Merlin had done what they could to defend the innocent souls of the Celtic lands – a heroic, if doomed effort.

Olorun thought of Mulan – another newly-ascended mortal – and felt a flicker of sympathy for the tribulations Arthur had undergone. He’d had his own dragon to fight – one that was still abroad in the world, despite the best efforts of Hera and the others. He cleared his throat. “What do you think, Arthur?”

Arthur was silent for a moment. Then, his hands found the sheathed form of Excalibur laying on the table before him and he said, “Dragons lie. They poison the very air with their untruths. Though their scales shine, they are things of darkness.” He met Olorun’s gaze squarely. “I think you would be a fool to trust such a creature, whatever it claims.”

Olorun sat back. The pantheons were, as he’d expected, divided on the matter. “The truth is we know nothing about her,” he said, after several moments. “She is older than most of you, and unknown to me. If she is a friend, that is unfortunate. If she is an enemy, that is dangerous. So we must learn all we can, however we can.” He paused, considering his next words carefully. “That is why I have already sent several of our number to seek out those who might possess some knowledge of her, even as I take a more direct approach.”

“What do you mean?” Hera asked.

Olorun rose. “She invited us to visit her. So that is what I am going to do.”


Chapter 2: The Questing King

TalonsOfTyranny Chapter2 LoreIcon.png

Tiamat shifted her weight and drew herself up as her gaze picked out the figures climbing towards her temple. To her eyes, the gods shimmered like precious jewels, each one connected to the world by strands of divine light. It would be so easy to sever those strands. One quick slash, and the world would have one less god.

Too many gods – that had always been the problem with this world. They proliferated exponentially, too swiftly for the world to bear. It groaned beneath their weight, and it suffered for their childishness and selfishness. She could feel it, in the air and the water. Even now, after all she had done to correct it, there was still an echo of the pain they had caused – and would cause again, if someone did not take them in hand.

Tiamat settled back to await her visitors. That they had accepted her invitation showed that there might yet be hope for them. Or some of them at least. The rest would have to be disciplined if they would not accept her as the rightful ruler of this world and all that it contained. After all, had she not created the world? Had she not drawn the stuff of it from the abyss and shaped it to her will?

Her claws bit into the stone and she forced herself to relax. To be at ease. It was difficult. She knew that the beings below could not be trusted, not truly. She had trusted their kind once, and had been repaid with treachery and imprisonment. All for the crime of trying to defend what was hers – of trying to avenge those she loved best.

A part of her yearned to destroy them now, before they had a chance to turn on her. To smash their temples and cast down their heavenly palaces. To claim the skies as she had claimed the seas, and all that stretched between them.

But no – not yet. Perhaps never. She did not wish to wage war on them. She’d had her fill of war the last time. And perhaps a part of her, a tiny part, feared that it might turn out the same as last time. That they might once again separate her from the world she had made.

So, she waited.

*

“This is not a palace,” Ares said, as the Olympian delegation climbed the steps leading to the apex of Tiamat’s ziggurat. Hundreds of rounded towers rose like mountains from forests of looming pillars. The tallest towers were topped by immense statues of gold, representing unfamiliar creatures – gods, perhaps, or monsters. The base of each tower was girt by a bountiful garden, full of life and sound.

“It looks like a palace to me,” Zeus grumbled.

“No, Ares is right,” Olorun said. “This is a temple.”

“And so?”

“It is a show of strength, father,” Ares said. “Our temples are raised by mortals. Tiamat is telling us she does not require worship.”

“But she desires it,” Hera said, softly. “Look about you – Ares is right. But it is not just a show of strength, but a message of intent. She sets herself above us, beckons us to visit like pilgrims…”

“You almost sound as if you admire her,” Sobek growled. The towering crocodilian lagged behind the others, his great head swinging from side to side. Ares glanced at him. The God of the Nile was ill at ease – not afraid, but wary. Like a beast caught in the territory of a rival predator. Ares felt a flicker of sympathy for the Egyptian deity. Sobek did not wish to be here, but had come nonetheless at the behest of Horus – to give thanks on behalf of his pantheon for the safe return of Ra from the cosmic abyss.

No other gods had dared accompany them. Some, he suspected, were biding their time, watching to see what Tiamat’s intentions were. Others, he thought, were simply afraid.

“There is much to admire,” Hera said. “I admit it. She is powerful, and this place – temple, palace or fortress – is quite beautiful.”

“It is too big,” Zeus grunted, as they came to a wide, flat landing. Ahead of them, a long bridge of stone stretched towards a square structure with a high plateau roof. Massive braziers threw sweet smelling smoke into the air. “She insults us.”

Privately, Ares agreed with his father. Tiamat was insulting them. But unlike Zeus, he was not certain that it was intentional. Olorun seemed to be of similar mind. Like him, Tiamat was something older than the world. Unlike him, her powers did not seem diminished by her return. Perhaps there was something to her claims to have created the world.

He pushed the thought aside and concentrated on the reason he’d come. He studied the shape of the temple, searching for weak points and potential avenues of attack. The structure was beautiful, but flawed. He could bring it down, if it came to it – though given what he’d seen of Tiamat’s power, he might not walk away from such an assault.

Ares looked up at the creature – the goddess – as she perched atop the tallest tower, waiting for them. She radiated strength. Only a fool, or a madman, would attack her head-on.

They had reached the middle of the bridge when Tiamat reared suddenly, wings of crackling light extended. She let loose a roar and called down, “Well met, young ones. I feared you would not accept my invitation.”

“How could we not?” Olorun replied. He crossed his arms and looked up at her. “It seemed only polite to visit you in your home, as you visited us in ours.”

“Not yours, I think,” she rumbled, hovering gracefully over her perch. “You are not of this world, young prince. You smell of starlight and celestial winds. You grow frail here, separated from the cosmic light. Which begs the question – why are you still here?”

“A good question,” Zeus murmured. Ares glanced at his father. Zeus did not trust Tiamat, that much was obvious. Thus far he had restrained himself from acting with his usual bravado. He had made no challenges -–thrown no lightning. Perhaps he had learned something from their battle with Cthulhu after all.

Olorun paused before replying. “I have often asked myself that of late. I came here to bring an end to the conflict between pantheons. I stayed to battle Cthulhu, and heal the damage he caused to the world.”

“But now I have done all that,” Tiamat said, spreading her taloned forepaws, as if to encompass the world around them. “I have fixed what you children broke. I have sealed away the Great Dreamer and healed the madness that afflicted my poor world. I have even returned to you your little palaces – Valhalla, for instance. And yet not a word of thanks have I received, not even an acknowledgement of my gifts.”

Olorun glanced at the others. Ares met his gaze and nodded. Olorun cleared his throat. “Then let me be the first to say –”

“Tyrant!”

Ares turned as the cry echoed over the bridge. Two figures stood at the opposite end of the bridge. One he recognised immediately – Bellona, goddess of war. The other, a tall bearded man – not divine, at least not wholly – clad in robes and armour. It was he who’d spoken. He did so again, stalking forward as he spoke. “Tyrant,” he bellowed. “Mother of monsters and breaker of gods! I am Gilgamesh, King of Uruk and in the name of Marduk the immortal son of Utu, I will free this world from your shadow and cast you back into the starless pit you crawled from.”

Bellona grinned fiercely. “Stand aside, Olympians – we have come for her.”

“Have you, now?” Tiamat said. To Ares’ ears, she sounded amused.

Olorun put out a hand. “Hold – do nothing foolish,” he began. The newcomer, Gilgamesh, was in no mood to listen. He bounded forward, blade in hand. Bellona charged alongside him, her own sword at the ready.

They burst through the crowd of dumbfounded gods and headed across the bridge. Ares watched them go with a flicker of regret. A part of him longed to join them. If there was to be battle, he should be a part of it. But a wiser part of him prevailed. This was not his war. Not yet.

“Bellona…” Olorun began, a look of consternation on his face. “What is she doing?” Celestial light crawled across his form as he prepared for battle. “Are they mad, or just fools? To attack someone who has done us no harm?”

“No harm yet,” Zeus said, smacking his fist into his palm. Lightning flared about him. “You heard that creature – she called the world hers. She means to rule over us. I, for one, do not intend to allow that.”

“Husband,” Hera began. “Do not make enemies where there are none.” But her words fell on deaf ears as Zeus started after Bellona and the newcomer. She shook her head and Ares felt a flash of sympathy – his mother had ever striven to keep Zeus from indulging in his baser instincts, though never with much success.

Above them, Tiamat’s shriek split the air. Ares thought the sound was one of rage – but also something that might have been satisfaction. As if she had been expecting just such an event, and was gratified to be proven correct.

Ares looked up and saw her crouched atop her plinth, wings flaring with cosmic light, claws digging into the stonework. He paused, struck by how quickly her previous elegance had drained away, leaving behind only a bestial monstrousness.

“We should go,” he said, to the others. Sobek nodded, and Hera did so as well, after a lingering glance in the direction her husband had gone.

Olorun looked at him. “What do you mean?”

Ares turned. “We should withdraw. Zeus and Bellona have made their choice. But I do not intend to commit myself to a battle until I know whose side I am on.”

*

Gilgamesh raced across the bridge, sword in hand. Behind him, the strange gods gawped in confusion, or perhaps surprise. Above him, Tiamat shrieked. Smoke billowed and a bevy of feral creatures burst into view, loping to meet him. “What are those things?” Bellona shouted, as she ran alongside him. A grin split his bearded features.

“The children of Tiamat – she spawns them by the hundreds, or so the gods claim.”

“Which gods?”

“My gods,” Gilgamesh laughed. “I hope they are watching!” He was still laughing as the first of the creatures reached him. “See me, Marduk – see your faithful follower!” His sword slashed out in a wide arc, bisecting the monster in mid-leap. He pivoted, chopping through a second of the beasts. More of the beasts poured towards them. Bellona fought beside him, her grin matching his own. Like him, she too loved battle.

She was a worthy companion. Almost the equal of – but no. His mind shied from the thought of his oldest friend. He glanced at Bellona again. In the days since he had found her digging her way out of the ancient temple, he had come to learn much about her – and this new world. A world much changed since he had last walked it.

His time in the Netherworld had passed like a dream. Moments had seemed like days, and days had passed in moments. But now he had returned, and at last, his quest was on the cusp of fulfilment. The gods had whispered to him of Tiamat’s return and told him what he must do. She could not be allowed to roam free, and he was the one destined to defeat her – for good this time.

Tiamat shrieked. More creatures – serpentine monsters – squirmed into existence, slithering towards them. Bellona stepped forward. “You go. I’ll handle these worms.” Their eyes met, and Gilgamesh grinned.

“My thanks,” he said, and moved past her. Her attack distracted the creatures, and he slipped past, heading for their monstrous creator. Tiamat swooped low over the bridge.

“Why have you come here, little half-god?” she roared.

Gilgamesh extended his sword. “The gods of Babylon will bless me if I defeat you, old dragon. A feat not even Marduk could accomplish.”

Tiamat shook her bejewelled head as if saddened by his boast. “King Gilgamesh…I have heard of you. The spirits of my children whisper your name.” She plummeted downwards like a stone. Gilgamesh crouched, sword extended. He felt no fear as she crashed down on all fours, tail lashing, winging burning the air – only eagerness.

“You came here seeking immortality,” Tiamat said. “But you have found only death!”The Questing King

Tiamat shifted her weight and drew herself up as her gaze picked out the figures climbing towards her temple. To her eyes, the gods shimmered like precious jewels, each one connected to the world by strands of divine light. It would be so easy to sever those strands. One quick slash, and the world would have one less god.

Too many gods – that had always been the problem with this world. They proliferated exponentially, too swiftly for the world to bear. It groaned beneath their weight, and it suffered for their childishness and selfishness. She could feel it, in the air and the water. Even now, after all she had done to correct it, there was still an echo of the pain they had caused – and would cause again, if someone did not take them in hand.

Tiamat settled back to await her visitors. That they had accepted her invitation showed that there might yet be hope for them. Or some of them at least. The rest would have to be disciplined if they would not accept her as the rightful ruler of this world and all that it contained. After all, had she not created the world? Had she not drawn the stuff of it from the abyss and shaped it to her will?

Her claws bit into the stone and she forced herself to relax. To be at ease. It was difficult. She knew that the beings below could not be trusted, not truly. She had trusted their kind once, and had been repaid with treachery and imprisonment. All for the crime of trying to defend what was hers – of trying to avenge those she loved best.

A part of her yearned to destroy them now, before they had a chance to turn on her. To smash their temples and cast down their heavenly palaces. To claim the skies as she had claimed the seas, and all that stretched between them.

But no – not yet. Perhaps never. She did not wish to wage war on them. She’d had her fill of war the last time. And perhaps a part of her, a tiny part, feared that it might turn out the same as last time. That they might once again separate her from the world she had made.

So, she waited.

*

“This is not a palace,” Ares said, as the Olympian delegation climbed the steps leading to the apex of Tiamat’s ziggurat. Hundreds of rounded towers rose like mountains from forests of looming pillars. The tallest towers were topped by immense statues of gold, representing unfamiliar creatures – gods, perhaps, or monsters. The base of each tower was girt by a bountiful garden, full of life and sound.

“It looks like a palace to me,” Zeus grumbled.

“No, Ares is right,” Olorun said. “This is a temple.”

“And so?”

“It is a show of strength, father,” Ares said. “Our temples are raised by mortals. Tiamat is telling us she does not require worship.”

“But she desires it,” Hera said, softly. “Look about you – Ares is right. But it is not just a show of strength, but a message of intent. She sets herself above us, beckons us to visit like pilgrims…”

“You almost sound as if you admire her,” Sobek growled. The towering crocodilian lagged behind the others, his great head swinging from side to side. Ares glanced at him. The God of the Nile was ill at ease – not afraid, but wary. Like a beast caught in the territory of a rival predator. Ares felt a flicker of sympathy for the Egyptian deity. Sobek did not wish to be here, but had come nonetheless at the behest of Horus – to give thanks on behalf of his pantheon for the safe return of Ra from the cosmic abyss.

No other gods had dared accompany them. Some, he suspected, were biding their time, watching to see what Tiamat’s intentions were. Others, he thought, were simply afraid.

“There is much to admire,” Hera said. “I admit it. She is powerful, and this place – temple, palace or fortress – is quite beautiful.”

“It is too big,” Zeus grunted, as they came to a wide, flat landing. Ahead of them, a long bridge of stone stretched towards a square structure with a high plateau roof. Massive braziers threw sweet smelling smoke into the air. “She insults us.”

Privately, Ares agreed with his father. Tiamat was insulting them. But unlike Zeus, he was not certain that it was intentional. Olorun seemed to be of similar mind. Like him, Tiamat was something older than the world. Unlike him, her powers did not seem diminished by her return. Perhaps there was something to her claims to have created the world.

He pushed the thought aside and concentrated on the reason he’d come. He studied the shape of the temple, searching for weak points and potential avenues of attack. The structure was beautiful, but flawed. He could bring it down, if it came to it – though given what he’d seen of Tiamat’s power, he might not walk away from such an assault.

Ares looked up at the creature – the goddess – as she perched atop the tallest tower, waiting for them. She radiated strength. Only a fool, or a madman, would attack her head-on.

They had reached the middle of the bridge when Tiamat reared suddenly, wings of crackling light extended. She let loose a roar and called down, “Well met, young ones. I feared you would not accept my invitation.”

“How could we not?” Olorun replied. He crossed his arms and looked up at her. “It seemed only polite to visit you in your home, as you visited us in ours.”

“Not yours, I think,” she rumbled, hovering gracefully over her perch. “You are not of this world, young prince. You smell of starlight and celestial winds. You grow frail here, separated from the cosmic light. Which begs the question – why are you still here?”

“A good question,” Zeus murmured. Ares glanced at his father. Zeus did not trust Tiamat, that much was obvious. Thus far he had restrained himself from acting with his usual bravado. He had made no challenges -–thrown no lightning. Perhaps he had learned something from their battle with Cthulhu after all.

Olorun paused before replying. “I have often asked myself that of late. I came here to bring an end to the conflict between pantheons. I stayed to battle Cthulhu, and heal the damage he caused to the world.”

“But now I have done all that,” Tiamat said, spreading her taloned forepaws, as if to encompass the world around them. “I have fixed what you children broke. I have sealed away the Great Dreamer and healed the madness that afflicted my poor world. I have even returned to you your little palaces – Valhalla, for instance. And yet not a word of thanks have I received, not even an acknowledgement of my gifts.”

Olorun glanced at the others. Ares met his gaze and nodded. Olorun cleared his throat. “Then let me be the first to say –”

“Tyrant!”

Ares turned as the cry echoed over the bridge. Two figures stood at the opposite end of the bridge. One he recognised immediately – Bellona, goddess of war. The other, a tall bearded man – not divine, at least not wholly – clad in robes and armour. It was he who’d spoken. He did so again, stalking forward as he spoke. “Tyrant,” he bellowed. “Mother of monsters and breaker of gods! I am Gilgamesh, King of Uruk and in the name of Marduk the immortal son of Utu, I will free this world from your shadow and cast you back into the starless pit you crawled from.”

Bellona grinned fiercely. “Stand aside, Olympians – we have come for her.”

“Have you, now?” Tiamat said. To Ares’ ears, she sounded amused.

Olorun put out a hand. “Hold – do nothing foolish,” he began. The newcomer, Gilgamesh, was in no mood to listen. He bounded forward, blade in hand. Bellona charged alongside him, her own sword at the ready.

They burst through the crowd of dumbfounded gods and headed across the bridge. Ares watched them go with a flicker of regret. A part of him longed to join them. If there was to be battle, he should be a part of it. But a wiser part of him prevailed. This was not his war. Not yet.

“Bellona…” Olorun began, a look of consternation on his face. “What is she doing?” Celestial light crawled across his form as he prepared for battle. “Are they mad, or just fools? To attack someone who has done us no harm?”

“No harm yet,” Zeus said, smacking his fist into his palm. Lightning flared about him. “You heard that creature – she called the world hers. She means to rule over us. I, for one, do not intend to allow that.”

“Husband,” Hera began. “Do not make enemies where there are none.” But her words fell on deaf ears as Zeus started after Bellona and the newcomer. She shook her head and Ares felt a flash of sympathy – his mother had ever striven to keep Zeus from indulging in his baser instincts, though never with much success.

Above them, Tiamat’s shriek split the air. Ares thought the sound was one of rage – but also something that might have been satisfaction. As if she had been expecting just such an event, and was gratified to be proven correct.

Ares looked up and saw her crouched atop her plinth, wings flaring with cosmic light, claws digging into the stonework. He paused, struck by how quickly her previous elegance had drained away, leaving behind only a bestial monstrousness.

“We should go,” he said, to the others. Sobek nodded, and Hera did so as well, after a lingering glance in the direction her husband had gone.

Olorun looked at him. “What do you mean?”

Ares turned. “We should withdraw. Zeus and Bellona have made their choice. But I do not intend to commit myself to a battle until I know whose side I am on.”

*

Gilgamesh raced across the bridge, sword in hand. Behind him, the strange gods gawped in confusion, or perhaps surprise. Above him, Tiamat shrieked. Smoke billowed and a bevy of feral creatures burst into view, loping to meet him. “What are those things?” Bellona shouted, as she ran alongside him. A grin split his bearded features.

“The children of Tiamat – she spawns them by the hundreds, or so the gods claim.”

“Which gods?”

“My gods,” Gilgamesh laughed. “I hope they are watching!” He was still laughing as the first of the creatures reached him. “See me, Marduk – see your faithful follower!” His sword slashed out in a wide arc, bisecting the monster in mid-leap. He pivoted, chopping through a second of the beasts. More of the beasts poured towards them. Bellona fought beside him, her grin matching his own. Like him, she too loved battle.

She was a worthy companion. Almost the equal of – but no. His mind shied from the thought of his oldest friend. He glanced at Bellona again. In the days since he had found her digging her way out of the ancient temple, he had come to learn much about her – and this new world. A world much changed since he had last walked it.

His time in the Netherworld had passed like a dream. Moments had seemed like days, and days had passed in moments. But now he had returned, and at last, his quest was on the cusp of fulfilment. The gods had whispered to him of Tiamat’s return and told him what he must do. She could not be allowed to roam free, and he was the one destined to defeat her – for good this time.

Tiamat shrieked. More creatures – serpentine monsters – squirmed into existence, slithering towards them. Bellona stepped forward. “You go. I’ll handle these worms.” Their eyes met, and Gilgamesh grinned.

“My thanks,” he said, and moved past her. Her attack distracted the creatures, and he slipped past, heading for their monstrous creator. Tiamat swooped low over the bridge.

“Why have you come here, little half-god?” she roared.

Gilgamesh extended his sword. “The gods of Babylon will bless me if I defeat you, old dragon. A feat not even Marduk could accomplish.”

Tiamat shook her bejewelled head as if saddened by his boast. “King Gilgamesh…I have heard of you. The spirits of my children whisper your name.” She plummeted downwards like a stone. Gilgamesh crouched, sword extended. He felt no fear as she crashed down on all fours, tail lashing, winging burning the air – only eagerness.

“You came here seeking immortality,” Tiamat said. “But you have found only death!”

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