In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Seventy Six
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
Hunger had set the Monarchs traveling.
It had driven them to traverse the boiling chaos of the Maelstrom, the source of everything that might or will be. They had traveled as one, a swarm of presences united by a single purpose, the need to consume.
The Shard Worlds swirled around the Maelstrom traveling in wild orbits. The Monarchs’ passing set these incomplete realities crashing into each other and plummeting back into the formless, insanity that had birthed them.
The swarm of bodiless hungers plunged through the layers of reality destroying entire sections of the Realm Of Magic and warping the Realm of Substance out of true. They paused in the Realm of Dreams, they watched and learned as a nation’s worth of slumbering souls were driven to madness.
Then the Monarchs moved again, passing through the Realm of the Dead. The legion of bloated ghosts that burst in their wake went unnoticed. What did the dead matter when their goal was in sight?
The Realm of Essence held the Monarchs at bay, it pushed back with the unconscious force of billions of human minds. Only a handful knew of this or any other Realm but they felt the presences pressing against the doorway to their souls and they resisted. The border between the Realm of Essence and the Known World buckled and cracked.
This had been expected. The Monarchs waited, watching and whispering until some began to hear.
A chosen few turned their faiths away from their generic deities and empty messiahs. Some of these worshippers were human, others were more than that and many were less but each had a part to play. They clawed at the boarder between the Realm of Essence and the Known World widening the cracks and creating knew ones.
Finally, inevitably, near the Tunguska River, the Monarchs breached through to the Known World. The human calendar marked that year as 1908 but for many it was a new age.
The invasion that began was a subtle one, the Known World was still too pure and the Monarchs were too alien for them to truly feed.
This too had been expected. The Monarchs’ very presence created new and useful lifeforms; creatures of wing, carapace and tentacle. They inspired their followers to invent and innovate fusing magic, machinery and biology until their great and barren minds could be birthed and rebirthed until they could walk the Earth in imperfect disguises.
But with each generation that camouflage became more and more sophisticated. The Monarchs made mischief and war. They came to love the world but what they loved they destroyed, they coveted the simplicity of humanity but only so they might delight in its corruption.
The Monarchs became more powerful; they weakened all that might opposed them and mastered the Roads Between until only a handful, such as the Torwiegs, remained. They became the secret masters of humanity, they became gods to lesser beings. They diminished the preternatural and the magical with bureaucracy, subversion and war. One by one the secret cities became empty ruins and the great truths were reduced to legends. Even the dark gods were broken and driven into hiding in the lost places of the world.
And all this was done in the span of a few generations.
The Vlodek’s strange spirits and arrogant savagery made them a threat, their expertise with the Torwiegs made them with avenues of escape and attack. That threat was all but eliminated, with Galen captured and consumed the last of the High Born secrets would belong to the Monarchs.
So the Monarchs had sent Enlightenment, Persuasion and Acquiescence, the sent the drones and the Donnrup, the would peel Damiea’s Crucible away from reality layer by layer.
And in doing so they would bring the time of feeding, truly feeding all the closer.