“The irony is laughable.
For too long men have been puppets.
Strings holding up their woefully ignorant limbs, guiding their path on illusory righteousness.
Many have made it as far as you have, some even claiming to have been ‘chosen’
And yet they become a facade shattering at ages end,
A poor facsimile of a hero.
Only their marionette strings left behind, a mark of fleeting deeds and ill-gotten gains…
Played like a game of chess set by ancients from ages long past.
…Although perhaps I am not too far off from ancient myself.”
~ Domas Rahm, First of the Deathless
Once, a very long time ago, mortals were free and the world was at peace. And in the time before the wars, humans lived in the lands aplenty – and life passed on steadily by. The Heavenly Host watched over the world of Elatreus. Archons, Seraphim, Angelic beings of power and majesty, they were dispatched by the gods to be guides and protectors for the mortals under their charge.
Among these were the Witnesses, spirits of wisdom and intellect that were sent to observe the free peoples of the world. For many centuries they simply recorded the goings on of the world, led by Shemhazai the Wise, High Archon of Heaven. However, Shemhazai was also proud, and entertained dark thoughts in his heart about how men ought to be ruled. In an impassioned speech to the Witnesses, Shemhazai convinced them that the gods did not truly desire that men rule over themselves, but that by their very weak and transient nature they were designed to be servants of beings greater than they. The Witnesses became known as the Fallen, and they set about to rule the world as they saw fit.
Thus began the War in Heaven. A war of shadow and flame, of bitterness and sorrow, a war that caused and continues to cause untold misery.
In the end, the forces of justice and righteousness won the day. Abdiel, archangel and leader of the Heavenly Host, sundered the wings from Shemhazai’s back and imprisoned him in the abyss.
In one last act of defiance, Shemhazai poured his malice, hatred, and even his very being into his angelic blade, and with all his strength broke through the veil between worlds, eventually finding itself into Elatreus as the Brand of the Fallen.
In retaliation, Abdiel did the same, his purity and righteousness joined his soul within his angelic blade, now known as the Flame of the Host.
And so, the two heavenly blades stalk each other forevermore, each choosing a mortal champion who will bear their edge and lead the forces of light and dark against one another.
But victory never came. Every time, without fail, upon the death of the bearer the Angelic Blade vanishes, immediately seeking out another worthy bearer.
Should the Flame of the Host win, then the cycle renews and all that is good flourishes. Should the Brand of the Fallen win then the world will be engulfed in darkness until eventually another mortal will rise, chosen by the Flame, to defeat the Brand.
In this, mortals are inclined to believe in two choices; to serve the forces of good, or evil…
Only, these aren’t two choices; they are one and the same. For whichever choice one makes, the cycle renews itself so long as the Heavenly Blades exist. A cycle that had repeated itself for centuries.
These are the roots of our world.
Men became something to be used. Fodder for an eternal war, an endless cycle of light and dark, of life and death. Elatreus itself became trapped in this cycle, unable to grow beyond the wars that now define it.
Mortals were supposed to inherit the world, but even this is denied to them by the cycle. All they can do is hope that one day a champion would rise from one of their ranks in order to bear the heavenly swords once more and perhaps gain the victory they had been denied.
One man, however, dared to defy this cycle. He is Domas Rahm, First of the Deathless. His name was unspoken long before the War in Heaven began yet known to those who had the privilege or the curse to study the forbidden lore of Elatreus.
His title, the First of the Deathless, was the truth. He was the first primordial entity who had completely removed himself from the eternal circle of Light and Dark, of Life and Death. He was also the first who dared speak out against the gods, for he had argued that the mortals of Elatreus should choose their own destinies without the aid of their creators. This was deemed unacceptable by most of the early inhabitants of Elatreus, but some heard his blasphemous words and followed him.
To this end, he sought to sever the connection between the mortal world and the world of the deities. This ignited the Apostate War, and he came so close to succeeding that the gods themselves manifested in the mortal plane to stop him.
But they could not permanently destroy him, for he was far removed from the laws and cycle that govern the universe. And so the gods elected to seal Domas Rahm across the Black Seas of Infinity and beyond the Mists of Time, where his ‘evil’ could not threaten the bridge between the world of the deities and mortals.
This, however, happened long before the War in Heaven. Now, Domas Rahm believes in a second choice; not to perpetuate the cycle but to destroy it entirely — by destroying the Heavenly Blades themselves.
From his prison, Domas Rahm could still see the world, and all he saw was misery. Even in the peace between the wars ignited by the heavenly swords he was horrified by the mortals who were seemingly content in living within the cycle instead of finding ways to break said cycle. They were content, for the cycle had given them something else; a purpose.
For the wars bred belief. Belief that only those either chivalrous or despicable enough will be the ones chosen to wield either Heavenly Swords. This caused many to be funneled into one of two absolute choices; good or evil.
There is nothing in between. No room for ambiguity. No room for reasoning nor reason itself.
This caused him to go so far as to accuse the gods of cowardice and hypocrisy; they had manifested themselves in the realm of mortals to prevent him from severing the connection between the world of deities and Elatreus, but had ‘chosen to withdraw out of shame for the failings of their kind’ when the War in Heaven was over. A war that was caused by none other than the gods, bickering among themselves.
And yet, to his amusement, the War in Heaven and the gods’ eventual withdrawal from mortal affairs had finally proved the very reason why Domas Rahm chose to speak out against the gods in the first place; The gods cannot even control themselves, much less Mankind or any other mortal. Each of them had their own dreams and ambitions regarding the mortals of Elatreus. And now, they chose not to finish what they’ve started; simply leaving the problems they made for mortals to solve once again, doubly proving their hypocrisy. And incompetence.
Mortals had gained their own fate and freedom of choice, as he had fought for. But in the absolute worst possible way. Mortals can choose, but in the end their choices won’t matter and their achievements will forever be rendered moot, thanks to the Cycle of Light and Dark and the wars they ignited.
Yet there is nothing he could do, not from within his cell. For reasons even he could not fathom, the gods had constructed a prison far more escape-proof than the Infernal Abyss that once held Shemhazai in order to contain him. All he could do was observe.
Until the whispers began entering his cell. Whispers of prayers and supplication.
Unknown even to him, a secretive, heretical sect had begun worshipping Domas Rahm sometime during the War in Heaven. They sought his wisdom and power to become Deathless themselves. Throughout the passing millennia it is his worshippers who found a way to bring him back to the mortal realm.
Domas Rahm’s ascension to True Immortality had in essence turned him into a demigod whose powers do not fade overtime, yet could temporarily be increased given enough worship and devotion, just like the gods themselves. As much as he didn’t like playing by the rule of the gods, he knew that in time, he would be powerful enough to escape the prison that the gods had built around him.
And so, the First of the Deathless remains in his astral prison, patiently. Soon he will return, and when he does, his first order of business will be the next stage in mankind’s evolution:
The Deathless. Humans without age.
Some may claim that the concept of the Deathless is redundant; if Elves with their own limitless lifespan exist, then why are the Deathless needed? But the differences between the Deathless and the Elves are the same as the differences between boulders and mountains.
The Deathless are defined by the incredible power they wield and their ability to learn anything, given time. But they are created for they are the only beings with the ability to ignore their fate; as Domas Rahm envisioned, he made certain that they will never be chosen by either angelic blade. All Deathless exist outside the cycle that define Elatreus, and they are Domas Rahm’s key to breaking the cycle.
Throughout their existence, mankind have been told to do what they do without really knowing why. But that is exactly what it means to be man, it is exactly what is required of them, in the end. For outside the cycle, there is no path, and the Deathless are the ones who will forge forward. Forging a new path towards an uncertain future and bringing Elatreus into a new age.
Not an age of gods who frolic amongst mortals yet leaving their problems for mortals to solve as well. Not a fleeting era of light the First Paragon forged that will eventually fade nor an age of dark which Shazn’Oegtol the First Deathknight perished by.
And so, the First of the Deathless has one more mission to accomplish for the mortals of Elatreus; the destruction of the Flame of the Host and the Brand of the Fallen, and with it, ending the Cycle of Light and Dark alongside the eternal wars they ignited.
His tireless, immortal mind now set upon this goal, he began his machinations. First among which, to goad one of the few remaining Deathless left in Elatreus to his side;