Freebie Mondays: Creation Versus Destruction

Freebie Mondays: Creation Versus Destruction

Now that we’ve filled out some of the pantheon, it’s time for another epic match up. This time between the Seed Matron and the Lord of Magic. The Seed Matron is a very mother-nature-like figure, who is responsible for the changing of seasons and the growth of plant life. The Lord of Magic, on the other hand, is seen as a destructive figure who often tears down what the Seed Matron builds.

This locks the two of them in an eternal struggle which creates the cycle of creation, destruction and rebirth. A sort of cosmic yin and yang. This is the story of that war’s origin!

This is part of a new series developing lore for my Tales of Cryptonia homebrew D&D campaign. (Which you can learn more about here.)

Incidentally, I streamed the creation of this post in case you want to watch it come together!

How the conflict started and who struck the first blow depends very much on who you ask. Followers of Tauldar will, of course, proclaim the guilt of Queach while the lord of magic’s followers will steadfastly point the finger at the seed matron.

But one thing followers on both side of the line can agree upon is that the trouble started with a wall.

It was not a special wall. Indeed, it had been built by mortals, not the gods, and was not meant to keep out any particular threat. In fact, it is likely the wall started as a way to keep heat in on cool nights and weather out. But eventually, as happens with all things made by mortal hands, the edges of the wall began to dull and blur, worn away by weather and time. The mortar between the stones began to crack and the structure no longer held its domain against the encroaching force of nature

Tiny dots of green appeared in the cracks between the mortar, creating bright splotches amidst the mottled grey. Over time, these wandering vines poked and prodded the ruins of the structure, until they spread great fingers and bright blossoms across the whole of the remaining space, creating from the remnants a grand piece of vertical garden.

The life that sprouted from this remnant of wall was so thick and so vibrant, it soon began to catch the attention of travelers moving along the side of the nearby road. And though the area had not been frequented for some time, many began to divert their steps to enjoy the beauty which waited just beyond the shelter of the shade trees but a few steps from the path they traveled.

Enough travelers diverted their steps to eventually form a well-worn path. And soon the road had diverted so that it passed directly through the crumbling arch of the green-choked wall. Those whose breath was stolen by the vision that awaited them in this small clearing took to leaving trinkets or offerings, giving thanks to the green mother who placed such resplendent beauty in their path. And it seemed the more travelers visited this green-choked vale, the thicker the vines grew and more and more flowers grew.

Unknown to those who took shelter and shade in the green vale, two shadowy figures loomed. One wore a bright smile upon her green-framed face as she watched the results of her labor and the other scowled with darkest temper.

“These were my grounds before you stole them,” Queach, great dragon lord of magic grumbled as he waved a claw at the fresh cut path. “The wall you claimed with your seedlings once adorned one of my temples.”

It took some time for the seed matron’s attention to move away from the beauty of the travelers admiring her work. And when she did glance at the dragon lord, a smug smile rested on her lips. “It did not seem to me as though you were making use of it, since three of the four walls had long since been allowed to tumble to the ground.”

Queach pressed his lips into a thin line. But before he could defend his position, the seed mother waved her hand again and added, “Besides, the land on which that temple stood belonged to me before you co-opted it for your stone walls and shelves of tomes. I have taken only that which was mine to begin with.”

She departed before taking time to witness the shaking of Queach’s limbs caused by the strength of his temper and, thus, had no way of knowing what lay in store.

The reach of the gods is great. And at any given moment their attention may focus on numerous places on numerous planets without strain. But it is also understood that most of the gods cannot focus everywhere at once, and therein lies the key to the endless struggle between Queach and Tauldar. For when Tauldar focused her eyes on the green vale she created from the remnants of Queach’s once-grand temple, she took her eyes away from a grove that once she had treasured.

The wilds, left to their own devices, will often thrive for some time without a hand to guide them. Vine and root can intertwine and overgrow their original bounds without choking each the other. And there are many who feel this chaotic mixing of nature to be as beautiful as the garden grown by a guiding hand.

But eventually, that which is not cultivated will wither. Green will turn to brown, and flowers will cease to bloom. Where there is life, there will eventually be death – so state the immutable laws of the universe. And there are times when Queach, in his temper, sees no reason not to hurry the process along.

While Tauldar neglected her once-sacred grove and the plant life spilled from its original confines to choke the growth of old forest nearby, Queach waited for the right moment, for a season that was dry without the loving caress of Tauldar’s blessed rain. Then he pulled a page from the depths of his spellbook and wove the arcane tapestry described on its page.

From a clear blue sky, the lord of magic formed a series of heavily laden clouds. When the sky hung like a slab of slate over the ancient band of forest, he unleashed the full force of his wrath. Rain pelted the ground in thick heavy drops and thunder tore through the sky with such force it shook the ground. Great fingers of lightning clawed the ground, leaving massive singe marks in its wake.

And because the land was parched and the rain too thick and fast to properly renew its vigor, the fingers of the lightning caught upon the branches of the bushes, leaving a spark in their wake. And by the time the raindrops began to slack and the thunder faded to a distant rumble, great tongues of flame wreathed the grove.

Without the remnants of the storm to douse the flames or the watchful eyes of a keeper to send aid, the fire burned without constraint, consuming all that lay within its path. The ancient grove with its towering trees was reduced to ash and the skeletal remains of dry branches seeking pitiful mercy from the wrath that rendered them inert.

Smoke still clawed the sky when the radiant visage of the Seed Matron stormed into the center of the smoldering remains to behold the absolute devastation of that which had grown for thousands of years. Without hesitation she turned her lash upon the lord of magic, allowing her sharp tongue to curse him in every possible language. “How dare you?” she demanded, when at last his shadow appeared. “To burn something that has stood so long a testament to my domain-“

But Queach interrupted the Seed Matron’s tirade with laughter. “Given the thickness of the overgrowth before the storm ravaged these lands, it seems to me you had not used this space in many centuries,” he replied, turning the matron’s own words against her.

Still laughing, Queach departed, allowing the embers of his flames to burn themselves out, totally unaware of the fire of vengeance ignited his rival’s heart.

Now it has long been known among followers of the matron that soil which has been blighted by burn or volcanic flow provides great life to that which is planted within its cradle. And so Tauldar wasted no time reaching into the depths of the soil to call forth the life which survived in the shelter of its depths. Acorns split and allowed their shoots to push aside the ashen remains of the once proud grove, and the wind carried dozens of other seeds to the heart of the burnt grove.

At first, the Seed Matron’s efforts were naught but tiny dots of green among the darkness of the blighted landscape. But as with all life, which is tenacious and relentless, in time a dusting of green spread across the grove, and new trees began to ring the flattened space.

Such growth takes time. But the Seed Matron is nothing if not patient. And with tender care, she eventually erased all sign of the storm, save a few blackened scorches on the few trees which survived the storm’s blight. As green returned to the grove, other life followed. Birds nested in the trees and critters burrowed into the roots, and the grove grew thicker and more verdant than ever before.

But Queach was not dormant while the Seed Matron plied her magic upon the land blighted by his storm. His attention turned to the overgrown vale, now forgotten by the urgent need to tend another space. He instructed his followers to harvest the flowers blooming on the vines and preserve the bushes that offered fruit. But once this harvest was completed, the vines were torn from the wall and the green was cut away from the holes in the mortar.

Wielding his magic to expert effect, Queach created a deep trench in the earth between the growth of the forest and the foundation he hoped to build. When his new temple was constructed from shining polished stone with nary a chip in the fresh mortar, the growth was kept at bay by the wide gulf he opened. A singular path was left between the door to the temple and the path that led to it, made of wood and bound by steel.

The rift, the lord of magic filled with water from a nearby river and the plants he set in porcelain vases in glass cases so that they would serve as mere reminders of the temple’s origins. Then he stood back to admire his handiwork with the smuggest of smiles.

There are many who might consider this an act of creation, for the lord of magic instructed his followers to build something where before there was nothing. But in order to craft this exquisite temple, destruction had to be wrought. The polished stone of the walls was carved from the earth in various locations and transported over many miles to be set upon their foundations, which themselves had to be carved from churned up ground. In order to clear the space for this temple, many trees were torn from their roots and many plants sheered from their mooring. Though the lord of magic made certain the original wall continued to stand, though he also restored it to a proper standard to stand among the rest.

When the Seed Matron emerged from her long meditation spent restoring the blighted land, she was furious to discover one of her gardens had been demolished for a construction project. And Queach was likewise displeased to find the destruction he so carefully wrought reversed.

One might think they went to work against each other’s efforts that very moment, Tauldar reclaiming the land on which the temple stood and Queach blighting the brand new garden. But there were dozens of easier sites where the two could stake their petty revenges.

Queach turned his attention to a precarious shrine perched on top a cliff face, easily toppled by the shaking of the earth in the near vicinity. Tauldar, meanwhile, set her viney fingers to work reclaiming a dilapidated library believed to hold vast knowledge but no longer frequented by regular patronage.

As the land slowly claimed the stores and crumbled the arcane repository to ruin to pave the way for new life, Queach turned his attention to a pair of moons that could easily be disturbed from their orbit in order to render an entire green sphere of life to cold, unyielding death.

Often the two completed their labors with singular focus, paying little attention to what the other was up to until they emerged to discover the new slight. And eventually, as time wore on, each would cycle back to the other’s works to etch new marks with their great hand.

Vines wound along the blighted cliff, creating a platform for the fallen shrine, restoring it to grand new life as a terraced garden. Mages uncovered the ruins of the library and burnt back the undergrowth to restore their once grand structure. The blighted sphere found new mooring in a fresh orbit, allowing the ice to melt and the first hints of new life to emerge from its depths.

But each new encroachment upon their space drove the other god to madness. Few words were exchanged, for that would halt the swiftness with which each exacted their revenges upon the other. But never did either fail to make their temper known to their opponent.

Thus are Tauldar and Queach forever locked in rivalry, creating the endless cycle of decay and rebirth, unable to break the endless chain of creation and destruction that defines the inevitable march of years. And thus shall the cycle continue until the end of all days, when the power of the lord of destruction finally extends to all reaches of that which currently exists.

At least until the power of the matron reaches into the depths of the universe’s ruins to restore them anew.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.