The Unveiled Moon




The Unveiled Moon

Featuring Lunashae (Magic Blaster, Alliance of New Immortals, Virtue), and The Dark of Night (Magic Defender, Virtue)

The moon was full and bright on the night of Anshara’s doom. Floating majestically in the night sky, it illuminated the temple grounds and covered the twelve massive fluted columns that encircled the holy well in silvery streams, cascading over their ancient etchings and puddling in their crevices, bathing everything it touched in pure sacredness. Several cloaked and hooded figures stood silent and unmoving in the shadows cast by the columns. As one they watched the moon as it neared its zenith. When the moon was almost directly over the holy place, a soft shimmering appeared in the air inside the circle. The eldritch light grew stronger and brighter, and then solidified into the form of a woman. Tall and slender, pale as moonlight, she seemed at once to both absorb and reflect the light of the moon high above. A glistening translucent veil adorned the lower part of her face, and upon her brow she wore a circlet that disappeared on each side of her forehead under long silvery white hair. She was dressed in what could only be described as light given substance and draped in molten folds around her body, and her bearing was calm and regal, like that of a queen. A crescent moon formed entirely of pure light gleamed in sparkling splendor on her chest in a way that would have put the brightest of jewels to shame. For a long moment, the woman tilted her head up to the night sky. Then, looking around the circle at the silent figures, she said simply, “It has begun.”

One of the figures stepped forward and dropped to one knee. His hood fell back, revealing the careworn face of a man well advanced in his years, his features strained, his expression relieved. “Goddess Lunashae, we feared for you on your mission. Praise be to all the gods that you have returned to us.”

The moon goddess reached out her hand and helped the man rise. She then said, “Erathus, the world of Anshara has lost too many of both her divine and her mortal children to this evil being from the Netherwood that calls itself ‘the Dark of Night’.”

Lunashae paused for a moment, and a frown briefly crossed her perfect features. “This creature is threatening our people, our world, and our very existence. Another loss of a god and our plan for the beast’s destruction would be in jeopardy. That is why I could not risk taking the druid Loralis all the way to the creature’s stronghold.”

“Where is Loralis now?” asked Erathus.

“I took the druid as close as I could to the citadel without being detected by the creature,” answered the goddess. “The god Daveril the Farseer saw him make it into the citadel itself. Once inside, Daveril could see him no more.”

The man replied, “So Loralis has made it safely into the lair of the beast? Good! At least we have the blessing of that knowledge. We now have room for hope in our hearts. If everything goes as planned, it will not be long now until the fate of our world will be decided.”

“Yes,” said Lunashae. “For our plan to work, all Loralis has to do is to get close enough to the foul creature to touch it. This will be no small task, but all it will take is a single second of contact. Loralis carries a blessing from each remaining deity in the pantheon. Since Loralis is not one of my priests, I must return to the Halls of Fate and link my power with that of my mother, the earth goddess who bears the name of our world. She will know when her druid is in contact with the creature. I will then be able to use my power to bring Loralis through the ethers and into the Halls of Fate with the creature in tow. There, the seven gods that remain of our pantheon will be standing ready to confront and destroy it.”

“Do you think enough gods are left to accomplish this?” Erathus asked.

“I honestly do not know,” the goddess sighed. “The outcome of our endeavors is hidden even from Daveril. The creature’s power has grown so strong since its arrival in our world! Its army of dark servants from the Netherworld has worked its way through Anshara, devastating the lands and slaying our people. With each victory the beast has grown stronger and more powerful.”

The man nodded. “Yes, and at first the people did not recognize the creature for the threat that it was,” Erathus said. “We thought the beast’s arrival a good thing, since its first victims were back alley criminals and thieves. The people in the city where it first appeared applauded it as some sort of deliverer from evil.”

“During this time, it was only building its power,” declared the goddess. “Daveril warned his followers of an approaching doom, but the form that doom was to take was hidden from his sight. It was only when the creature’s power had grown so strong that we realized the truth.”

Erathus replied, “If only we could have somehow discovered the creature’s true name! This would have given us the power to banish both it and its followers back to the Netherworld, and we would have been spared this dark hour!”

“Yes,” agreed the moon goddess. “So many lives would have been saved. But somehow the beast has the power to hide the knowledge of its true name from us. One of the pantheon actually entered the Netherworld at great peril in search of the beast’s name but found nothing. It is as if the creature did not exist before coming to Anshara.”

Lunashae paused and bowed her head. A single tear fell from one of her eyes and dropped to the ground. When it hit, it splashed briefly into tiny shards of color and light. “I shall never forget when the first of the pantheon fell to this foul beast from the Netherworld. Andares was so sure of himself, so confident! He was our war god. None knew better than he the strategies of fighting and of battle.”

The goddess lifted her head and went on, “Our short sightedness cost us the victory that could have been won that day. We thought we were better prepared when Sariah of the Shadows took three of our number cloaked by her enchantments to face the monster. Somehow, it knew they were coming! Daveril used his power to show us the battle, and we watched as one by one, four more of our number were slain by the creature.”

For a long moment Lunashae was silent, offering her thoughts in quiet tribute to those that had fallen in the struggle. Then, reaching out her hands and taking the man by the shoulders, she looked intently into his eyes and stated, “Erathus, you have been the high priest of my followers for many years. Through the many trials you have faced you have always remained true and unwavering in your faith. I tell you now that what is coming may be your greatest challenge yet.”

The goddess dropped her arms and walked over to the holy well in the center of the circle and peered into its depths, as if trying to divine the future. The moon’s reflection on the water sparkled and danced, belying the gravity of the situation. Turning back to the high priest, she said, “I must warn you that even if we of the pantheon defeat the creature, our powers may be too weak to maintain the blessings we grant our followers. There may be a period while those of us who remain must recover before you know the outcome of our struggles.”

Lunashae looked out of the circle off into the distance toward the city. “The people of Anshara will be confused and frightened. It will be up to my priesthood and to all the chosen of Anshara’s deities to calm their fears and maintain order. Right now, the gods that remain are visiting their followers with this message as well. I pledge to you that as soon as one of us is able, you will know the outcome of the events that are soon to transpire.”

The goddess exerted her will, and slowly, she began to rise up into the air. Hovering over the assembly, she looked around the circle at each of the priests gathered there. Then, the goddess raised her voice and proclaimed, “Take heart and do not despair, my children! This so-called Dark of Night shall know that I am the moon goddess Lunashae, and I pour my love upon the world of Anshara just as the moon bathes our devastated lands in its glow. As the moon reflects the light of the mighty sun to Anshara, so shall I be a reflection of that light into the very heart of the darkness that plagues us!”

Lunashae lay in a crumpled heap on the ground, the celestial glow that usually played across her body a mere glimmer. Above her head, a constellation of unfamiliar stars wheeled in the heavens, and a pale moon peered weakly through what seemed to be a cloudy haze hanging low in the sky. Oh, it had gone so wrong from the beginning! The goddess Anshara had signaled, and Lunashae had immediately exerted her will and her power to bring the druid and the creature known as the Dark of Night to the Halls of Fate. An inky blackness had appeared in the circle of the deities and had coalesced into a monstrous dark being that had towered over the group. What had appeared to be long black hair draped over creature’s ebony shoulders, and horns curled up and back from the forehead. Wicked-looking spikes protruded along its arms and legs, and Lunashae could see that it was holding something in one of its ebony claws. The beast had regarded the assembled deities with eyes the color of deep amethyst, and a low, sinister chuckle had rumbled through the room.

“You wanted me to touch this?” the creature had spat contemptuously, and then had raised an arm to fling the object it was carrying at Lunashae’s feet. The goddess had looked down and had seen the head of the druid Loralis looking back at her, his mouth opened in a silent, frozen scream.

“All of you have been so predictable,” the beast had sneered. “Just like the all the others I have faced throughout the millennia of my existence. You are so locked into your lofty perceptions of yourselves that you cannot see beyond the molds in which you are cast.”

Then, the creature of darkness had laughed, a chilling cacophony of dread that had swept through the Halls of Fate like icy bony fingers from a grave. “When I feasted upon the soul of your puny war god, some of his knowledge became mine. Your strengths, your weaknesses, all were mine for the knowing. There is nothing any of you can do that I cannot counter. Prepare yourselves for the inevitable. Ready yourselves for the oblivion of darkness!”

For the first time in many centuries, Lunashae had felt fear. Not for herself, but for those she loved, and for the whole of Anshara. She had called forth her chosen weapon, a flaming sword forged from the reflected light of Anshara’s sun, and raising it aloft had cried, “Now!”

At Lunashae’s shout all the gods including Lunashae had let loose blast after blast of the various manifestations of their powers. Fire, ice, lightning, and raw energy had bombarded the beast from the Netherworld. Rooted in place from the barrage, the beast had writhed in pain as it had struggled to break free. However, although the Dark of Night was visibly weakening, it had soon become clear that even the combined might of all seven gods would not be enough to vanquish the beast and send it back into the darkness of the Netherworld that had given it birth. Already some of the deities had started to falter, their energies almost spent. Sensing this, the beast had roared in agony-soaked triumph and had increased its mighty struggles.

It was at this point Solan had stepped closer to the beast. The god of the sun and brother to Lunashae, Solan had glanced over at the moon goddess and nodded his head. It was only now that Lunashae realized he must have been saying goodbye. Moving within reach of the creature, he had spent what was left of his power in a fiery blast that had shaken the Halls of Fate and had created a tremble in the very fabric of existence. Like a phoenix rising from ashes, the fires of the sun god had risen and encircled the Netherworld beast with greedy flaming fingers. It had bellowed, blasts of rage and pain that had echoed throughout the Halls of Fate. But it had appeared severely wounded, noticeably drained and weakened! It had swiped out with its claws, catching Solan by the throat and drawing him into a dark embrace. As Lunashae had watched in horror, the beast had healed itself a bit by drawing the essence of Solan into itself until Solan had faded out of existence, the fires of his life absorbed into the Dark of Night.

Stunned, a dawning realization of what the cost of victory would be had slowly enveloped the remaining six deities. It was Laneros of the Frozen Hand who had next sacrificed himself. Then, one after the other the remaining gods had stepped in close to the beast and had made the ultimate sacrifice for their world. With each deity’s demise the Dark of Night had become less corporeal until the creature was a mere shadow of its former monstrous self. Finally, only Lunashae and Anshara herself had remained. Knowing that beast could still prevail if left alive, Lunashae had stepped forth to unleash the rest of her power in a mighty blast of raw energy that had sent the beast reeling. As it had fallen, it had reached out one of its claws and grabbed the moon goddess by the arm, ready to once again to work its foul deadly magic. It was at this point that the goddess Anshara had stepped forth and Lunashae had heard in her mind, “Daughter, you shall not die this day.”

What had happened next was still unclear to the moon goddess. Her mother had released her power, all the tremendous energies inherent in the earth, slumbering in the depths of volcanoes, waiting to burst forth in earthquakes, in one mighty explosion that had caused the Halls of Fate to shake and crumble. And somehow, in that blast Lunashae had been sent flying away from the Halls into...somewhere else.

The goddess slowly rose to her feet. The sensation of pain, normally so foreign to her, made her waver a bit on her feet. Steadying herself, she looked around and saw that she was standing next to a wide road adorned with strange white and yellow lines, some broken, some whole. It was still night, but the moon that adorned the sky was not the same bright moon that had just so recently washed the goddess in loving light. Instead, it was weak, and partially hidden from her gaze by hazy gray clouds. In the distance buildings the likes of which she had never seen soared skyward in great numbers.

Drawing a deep breath, Lunashae realized that she was naked except for the circlet she wore, so with a thought she attempted to clothe herself in the ribbons of moonlight that normally adorned her body. Oh, the power came so slowly, so very weak! The moonlight ultimately encircled her, but only with much effort did Lunashae bend it to her will. She then noticed her veil lying on the ground nearby. Undamaged and whole, it gleamed amidst the dirt at the side of the road, a silent sentinel of her past glory. The goddess bent to pick it up, and as she touched the veil Lunashae sensed that it still contained a bit of her energies within its sparkling folds. Donning the veil, the moon goddess breathed in a bit of her old power. A trickle of energy washed through her, refreshing her and restoring some of her precious essence.

Returning her attention to her surroundings, Lunashae noticed a sign beside the road covered in symbols unknown to her, obviously the language of this foreign world. The goddess concentrated, and as the mysterious shapes became words understandable to her she read, “Welcome to Paragon City.” Straightening her shoulders, Lunashae began walking in the direction of the strange buildings. It was time to start reclaiming her power, and ultimately, to find a way to return home.

Intent upon her destination and lost in her thoughts, Lunashae did not sense that she was not alone as she approached the city. Narrowed eyes the color of dark amethyst gleamed from the depths of the blackest shadows beside the road, and a low voice murmured, “Soon, little goddess…soon.”

The Beginning