The second that the first reptilefolk warrior stepped out of the tunnel and laid eyes on my reanimated gug servant, the battle began. The gug I had called to my side, just to see firsthand how the thing fought, was still leisurely devouring the warrior it had defeated.
His agonized cries were music to the undead. Behind me, they ambled, shuffled, and in some cases dashed or flew in my direction. They were lured to my side by so many things, my presence, the smell of blood, and the sounds of both the tortured reptilefolk and his approaching allies.
The first warrior to lay eyes on my ghoulish companion darted towards us, and hurled a spear much like the other warrior had. This time though I wasn't a passive observer. I didn't let the spear get very far away from the warrior's grasp before I smiled and let loose a single spell: gravity well.
When I cast the spell it wasn't aimed at a location per-say, it was aimed at a person. I targeted the very warrior who had hurled the weapon at us, specifically his face. I also filled it with magical energy, overcharging the spell's power and making it even stronger than it would otherwise be.
I watched as the spear stopped in mid-air and then flew backward. I was disappointed that it didn't turn in mid-air, but when I watched it violently slam into the warrior's face I grinned, satisfied. My satisfaction increased when the warrior slumped to the floor, unconscious and bleeding.
My horde of undead servants was getting close, and the rest of the reptilefolk hadn't been bold enough to exit the tunnel. I decided to give them some motivation.
By now I had a pretty solid grasp on the ways my powers worked. In almost every case I merely had to focus on the power, and envision the end result becoming a reality. And as I considered how to "encourage" the reptilefolk to leave the comfort of the tunnel they were in, I wondered which of my powers would be the most useful.
Immediately my mind turned to the powers I possessed over the earth. They were fun, reliable powers that were useful in a number of situations. I could use them to cause a cave-in, to separate the reptilefolk from their allies, or even to kill the reptilefolk outright.
Another set of fun abilities I could easily use in the situation were my powers over the wind and air. I could force them into this cavern and out of their cramped tunnel by manipulating the wind and pulling them towards me. But that didn't feel sufficiently fun.
I wanted them to run out of the tunnel of their own volition. I wanted them to come towards me, not to be forced towards me. And as I mulled over the powers I possessed that may achieve that, I realized that the answer laid in a handful of my newest abilities.
I glanced into the tunnel and envisioned a number of separate things happening at once. A smile crept across my face as I did so.
Twelve reptilefolk lurked in a tunnel that connected two portions of their strange encampment. It was a tight thing, just a few meters wide and tall. It was wide and tall enough for them, and for something a bit larger than them, but not for the teeming horde they could hear rushing towards them.
They had been paralyzed with fear for the past few moments. In fairness to them they had watched one of their companions dart out, hurl his spear and then immediately saw the very same spear hurl backward towards him and painfully collide with his face.
That said, their opponent was a god they had no way of knowing they had upset. He wasn't kind enough to give the astonished creatures a centimeter of breathing room and he took advantage of their paralysis.
The first thing the god did was cut off their one other route. He did this, by starting a fire on the other side of the tunnel. The fire came to life with a ferocious boom and was a hideous shade of violet. Even looking at it was painful for the reptilefolks, as it was both hot and bright and threatened to burn their eyes if they looked at it for long.
The air in the tunnel closest to the other exit then grew incredibly thin, manipulated by their foe, and the creatures furthest from the exit facing Althos' horde fell to their knees and began to cough, gasp, and suffocate. All of them possessed a warrior's constitution and instincts and darted forward, trying to get to where their allies were because they didn't appear to be struggling to breathe.
Even as the reptilian humanoids closed rank with their companions, the air they were all breathing took on a greenish tint and gained new qualities. Hostile qualities. Their allies began to feel pain wrack their bodies, as invisible, inhalable poison aggressively invaded their lungs.
As a growing mob, the reptilian creatures were darting forward. This was all going according to Althos' plans, and the god grinned as he grew the monsters deeper and deeper into his clutches.
He slowly drew the invisible poison closer and closer to himself. He let it sweep over the entirety of the tunnel, right as the creatures closest to him darted out of the tunnel. And as they did, the speediest of his minions dashed past him. The creature that did was a wright, a bloodthirsty and cruel reanimated and unusually speedy dark-elf.
Althos heard a cruel, coughing laughter emanate from the corpse as the thing dashed towards the gang of reptilefolks. It held no artificial weapons, but from the certainty the creepy corpse possessed, Althos didn't doubt that the thing had no need for weapons.
The squad of guards hurled themselves out of the tunnel, all of them in some pain. I studied them even as the quick dark-elf wright my necromantic powers had created sprinted towards them.
They all wore armor of various types and held weapons. Most held spears, but some were armed with little more than clubs. That said, they weren't clutching their weapons tightly and in a few cases even tossed their weapons to the floor as they struggled to breathe.
The dark-elf wright my dark powers had created continued to laugh sinisterly as it closed in on them and opened its hands to reveal elongated, ebony-colored, animalistic claws. When it was almost within striking distance the creature leaped at them, pouncing like a wild animal.
It flew through the air and landed right in front of the warrior closest to the horde. It suddenly stopped laughing and lashed out at its chosen foe. Its claws cut through the air and I watched as they raked across the warrior's face, tearing through skin and scale alike.
I could hear a slick slashing noise as the claws scarred the warrior who had been approached so speedily that he couldn't actually dodge the strike and had to take the blow. That said, the wound didn't appear to be particularly deep.
I hissed in annoyance, but my servant wasn't done. Even as the walking corpse retracted one hand, it lashed out with its other hand. And this time it chose a different tactic.
It closed its fist and hurled a potent punch at the reptilefolk warrior, landing a clean and crushing blow that smashed into the warrior's nose and hurling the warrior backward into his allies. The creature followed after its quarry, not giving any chance to breathe easy.
Now the other speedy undead I had created were nearly caught up to me. I quietly lifted myself into the air and turned to face the flood of undeath I had created. As I did I smiled.
When I turned I could see all manner of undead creatures in front of me. I could see zombies, skeletons, ghouls, ghosts, shadows, wraiths, wrights, vampires, and mummies. They were positively ghastly, and the sight of them filled me with joy. As they crawled, flew, dashed, ran, or otherwise transported themselves towards the reptilefolk I could sense their emotions.
I could feel joy, hunger, and desire emanate out of them. It was a fascinating jumble of emotions.
They were all overjoyed. Even my oldest undead creations, which were here as well aside from my gifts to the goblins. They were happy to exist, happy to serve me, and above all, they were happy to bring harm to the living. I could sense their legitimate joy and delight.
They were hungry. I could feel their starvation. It pained me to feel them starve so.
I could feel their bloodlust. It colored their every movement. It was their desire. They desired not just violence, but the sensation of warm, living flesh on their tongues.
They weren't angry. It wasn't rage that drove them forward. It was joy. Which was altogether more frightening to me.
I could understand if they felt hate towards the living and it drove them forward, but they were motivated by something else. They were motivated by a desire to acquire joy, and to them, nothing brought more joy than the chance to feast on the living.
Numerous reptilefolk were able to dash forward and save the lives of their peers by the time the second, third, and fourth speediest undead monsters had reached their ally.
The warriors lashed out with their spears just in time to slash at a few more wrights who had hurtled themselves past me right as I began to ascend into the sky. Their reflexes were incredible, and even as their enemy, I felt a bit of grudging respect for them on the basis of their physicality alone.
All that meant in practice though was that their demise would be prolonged a bit longer. If anything the reptilefolk living a bit longer meant that their suffering continued unabated as they were still in great pain from the effects of the poison ravaging their bodies.
I moved forward and closed in on my enemy while envisioning a razor-sharp blade of air shooting from my fingertips. I rose my fingertips in the direction of one of my enemies and aimed it at the thing's throat. I watched the creature, it was preoccupied reaching for its weapons and trying to fully recover from my other, less targeted attack.
And then I unleashed my attack by activating my "Aerial manipulation" ability and allowed the envisioned wind-blade to become a real thing. A sharp current of air shot out of my fingertips met zero air-resistance and impaled the throat of the monster I had aimed it at.
The reptilefolk warrior flew backward, an airy sword visibly extending from his throat. He continued to fly until he slammed against the wall beside the tunnel that he and his peers had just escaped from. That was when I received a fascinating notification.
[Alert: One of your minions has killed an enemy of yours. Would you like to activate your 'Soul harvest' class ability? If you do so, you'll automatically gain the souls of those murdered by your minions or by your attacks.]
I chuckled and alerted the system that that was precisely what I would have liked. And then I felt a soul surge into me, and the feeling left me breathless.
My monsters surged underneath me. They were an unstoppable tide of bodies and spirits. And as they dashed towards the reptilefolks I had gotten out of the tunnel, I felt... strange.
The sensation of the soul surging into me was an intense one. I felt the pain the reptilefolk whose soul I was acquiring felt in its dying moments rush into me and then spread throughout my body. It wasn't a fun sensation, as the feeling was one of being torn into by thick and powerful jaws.
I gritted my teeth and endured the flares of pain that ripped into my body but didn't actually hurt me. After the fifth bite, I learned to ignore the sensations and was grateful that by the ninth bite the sensations were beginning to slow down.
The reptilefolk in question was the one that the nameless gug had torn into and defeated. Each of the attacks I felt in the creature's last moments were echoes of when the thing was torn apart by the gug. Its armless corpse was mostly in the gug's stomach by now. I was a bit surprised when I received another alert, just moments after I gained the first soul I'd ever steal from a dying creature.
[Dual alert: You may now complete the quest for the subdomain of pain. To acquire the first tier of influence over the subdomain of pain, endure painful sensations from five separate sources.
You've acquired your first soul. Souls can be acquired in a number of ways. You gain souls when your worshipers die if you haven't established a divine realm, if you use something like the devilish ability to make contracts and a person you have a contract with dies, or if a person you're a patron of perishes. You can also acquire souls through powerful magic or class features.
Souls can be used in a number of ways. You can absorb them for power, which is how you gain the ability to create humanoid life from existing species, or you can transform them into other forms of life. This last one is tricky, but it's something that all gods can do.
Gods possess the power to convert souls into other forms of life directly, but only when they gain the third tier of influence over the domains or subdomains closest to the type of life they wish to transform a soul into. For example, if you want to transform a soul into a demon you need the third tiers of influence over the domains of chaos and evil, and in most cases another domain or subdomain pertinent to the specific type of demon.
Souls are a component in the creation of many powerful types of undead. Dullahans, liches, banshees, and reapers all require souls to be successfully created. Souls can be used as a currency when engaging with creatures from the neutral or evil dimensions, lands like Infernius, the Heart of Darkness, and the Wildlands.
If left alone souls can eventually reincarnate or will naturally become a type of extraplanar being once they've spent enough time in the afterlife. This is in fate what happens to the dead whose souls are not stolen by a god, powerful magic, or some sort type of extraplanar plot.]
When I finished reading through the notification I was pleasantly surprised at all of the things I could do. It was delightful to be armed with so much more knowledge. That said, the battle below me was now raging in full.
"I suppose this is the moment in which I ought to begin farming for domains and subdomains to influence huh?" I asked myself, chuckling as I did so.
I looked out at my enemies, who were currently fighting a losing battle. In order to help speed up the inevitable, I studied them.
They were in a tight formation, fighting with surprisingly effective tactics. The warriors closest to the undead horde had begun making use of their shields to hold off the impending wave, while the ones behind them were outstretching their spears.
Some of the undead who were throwing themselves at them weren't intelligent and were impaling themselves on the spears. That said, more undead were intelligent than weren't and so many undead were able to dash past the spears and were hammering away at the warriors who were putting their bodies on the line to stop the horde from advancing.
This sight fascinated me, but it was also the reptilefolks stubbornly refusing to accept that their lives were forfeit. I wondered how I could best disrupt their manipulation, before realizing I had acquired two powerful tools that were perfect for this. And both were biological powers.
I targeted two of the braver reptilefolk, the ones standing between my servants and the spear-users, and targeted their hands. And I willed for their bones to break, as soon as I activated my "Dermal and skeletal manipulation" power. They both roared in pain as my power shattered their bones, and caused them to drop the shields they had held onto to keep the undead away.
The horde threw themselves at the newly exposed monsters with terrifying glee, and the ones that managed to reach them first were two vampires. One of them was a dwarven vampire, and the other was a human vampire.
Both of my servants had been harrying the reptilefolks they were able to overcome when the shields were abruptly dropped, and they proceeded to wrap their arms around their prey and pull them into the horde.
I kept my gaze trained on the pair and their victims. The other undead left them alone, instead opting to pursue the remaining reptilians.
The vampires withdrew far away from the battle. I wasn't sure why they did this but I suspect they did it to show their victims that it was hopeless. And when they stopped retreating into the pile of bodies, they proceeded to savagely bite the necks of their targets. I heard them begin to drain the blood of their victims and greedily guzzle the life-sustaining fluids from their prey.
I turned my gaze away from them and decided to interfere a bit more. Right as I did so I felt a chill descend over me, specifically in my neck even as I felt echoes of the pain the apparently newly deceased reptilefolks endured while dying. This caused me to receive a single, decently long notification. And that was because I had just completed the quest for the domain of souls.
I considered focusing on it for a second. But just for a second. I was about to receive a good number of new notifications, so I figured I ought to save myself some time and make it a multidomain and subdomain notification.
I studied the situation and noticed that now that only a few shield-holders were left the reptilefolks who were the most obstructive were those armed with spears. I decided to mix up my intervention this time, but doing something that was no less negative, but was less directly pain-inducing.
I was thankful that it was dark because that meant that I didn't need to bother to make myself invisible. All I had to do was teleport myself behind the defensive survivors of the undead onslaught.
As soon as I did I approached one of the warriors, and began to softly kiss the creature's cheek.
My first kiss ended up landing against a set of scales, and the creature tried to turn back to look at me but before it could I placed my hands on its neck and kept its gaze locked in place ahead of it. My next kiss actually touched the creature's warm skin, causing the thing to shiver in demonically induced delight. And with my final and third kiss the creature fell under my spell.
[Alert: The creature is now charmed by you.]
I chuckled, and whispered into the thing's ear. I made my voice soft and soothing as I did so. I gave the creature a single, simple instruction.
"Could you please drop your spear?" I asked it. The creature considered my question for a second, clearly intrigued by it. And then the dimwitted creature actually let go of the spear. Even over the din of battle, both the undead and the reptilian warriors heard the sound.
The reptilefolks couldn't afford to glance away from their enemies, but the undead turned their heads towards the newly exposed warrior. And then many of them grinned and redirected their assault. I watched as numerous undead began to dash towards where I was standing, their gaze locked on the newest exposed enemy. I grinned back at my servants, and turned my eyes towards another target.
I leaped to the side and picked a new spear-holder. As soon as I did, I threw myself at the creature I had selected and immediately reached the unfortunate victim. I snaked my arms around the thing, grabbing it by the waist and began to take steps backward and away from the group.
I felt the reptilefolk warrior be taken aback by what was happening, and then turn around to face me. I grinned at the thing and got to study its facial features up close and personal. Thanks to our proximity I got to see the mixing of flesh and scales that made up its face, and I even got to see its onyx black eyes.
The creature was afraid and began trying to force me to walk back by lashing out at me with its elbows but I just endured the blows without flinching. They were nothing compared to the pain I had endured earlier when I absorbed the souls of its fellow reptilefolk.
As I was walking backwards, away from the fighting, I wondered how I should go ahead and kill this particular enemy of mine. As I did so, I began to sort through the undead I had created.
I had let my magic run wild and create the most appropriate kind of undead specific to each corpse I had reanimated. Because of this, there was a shocking diversity to the undead that now served me. Vampires, zombies, skeletons, ghouls, and more made up my forces. And there was a fascinating diversity of species that had been reanimated as well. Driders, humans, grave-giants, massive and small spiders alike, dark elves, and more were among my forces.
When I was far enough away from the other reptilefolk that the warrior I was clutching had no chance of getting back the thing decided to refocus. It was a clever decision, but one that was defined to fail. I sensed the tension in the warrior's muscles shift before he could flip his spear around and I reacted viciously. I took a page out of my vampiric servant's book and attacked using my teeth.
I intentionally hurled my face into the soft neck of my prey and proceeded to bite into its neck. My powerful jaw muscles and sharp teeth immediately broke through the creature's skin and scale alike tearing apart a jugular vein and causing its contents to coat my tongue.
Metallic tasting blood began to flood into my mouth and I felt the creature in my clutches weaken immediately. There was a flareup of tension in its muscles, but nothing anywhere near enough for it to shake me off and the tension began to abruptly dissipate as more of its blood thundered into my mouth.
I felt pain thunder into me again and I hissed while drinking the blood of my latest victim. The notification I received increased in length, and the headings changed as well. I chuckled, aware that this was because I was murdering this particular enemy.
I closed my eyes and allowed my not-so-mini-map to appear and overtake the darkness that flooded my vision. I studied it for a second, before targeting numerous areas and casting overcharged gravity-wells so that I could add another domain to the list of domains I could influence.
I felt even more pain surge into me, this time causing my bones to ache from the collisions I had just caused distant lizard-like warriors to endure. But that also lengthened the notification, and brought a smile to my face. The pain also immediately dissipated, fading far quicker than it had up until this point.
[Multidomain and subdomain details:
You have acquired influence over the domains of death, souls, physics, and the subdomain of pain. These are all distinct domains and a distinct subdomain that are well-worth endeavoring to acquire influence over. The death, physics, and soul domains are a few of the greater domains.
The death domain gives you powers that allow you to instantly cause death and is one of the infamous domains involved with the apocalypse quadrangle. By using it you can grant or remove immunities and vulnerabilities to different types of harm, add or take away years to their lives, and you gain other powers as well. To gain greater influence over this domain create a cult dedicated to it, and use its powers.
The soul domain gives you powers related to soul creation, soul destruction, and manipulation. Souls are the immortal essences of a person or lifeform, needed to create true life. To gain greater influence over it, use the powers it bestows upon you.
The domain of physics is a powerful domain that governs physical laws. These include things like gravity. By exerting influence over it you can manipulate sound, electricity, and other physical phenomena. This domain is a collection of different, loosely connected things like matter, motion, and energy and force.
The subdomain of pain is as simple as it sounds. You can cause, manipulate, transfer, or even store pain. To gain increased influence over it, incorporate it into your worship and use the powers it grants you.
New passive powers:
Immunity and vulnerability manipulation: This synergistic power is a result of you being able to manipulate alteration and death. With it, you can grant someone immunity to certain types of damage or render them extra-vulnerable to types of harm.
Electricity mastery: This is a synergistic power granted to you by fusing your influence over the elemental subdomains and your new influence over physics. You can generate and manipulate electricity at will.
Soul creation: You can create souls. For now, you cannot create specific types of souls, as that requires you to absorb existing souls, but your general-type souls are perfect for a variety of bodies, extraplanars, and more.
Pain storage and transfer: You can store pain someone would otherwise inflict on you and use it in a variety of ways.
Alignment change: This soul-domain power allows you to forcibly change someone's alignment. You can only change them into alignments you possess influence over unless you use this power as an active one so, for now, you can only make someone chaotic or evil.
Sound mastery: This power grants you dominion over sound. This power turns sound into a deadly weapon or a powerful tool for mental manipulation.
Death foresight: This is... a stranger power. With it, you gain awareness of someone is destined to die. But there are ways around it and all of them revolve around you.
Because you're the curious sort who'd snoop around and eventually try to use this power on yourself, it's worth noting that your death cannot be predicted. You are a god, and thus fate cannot predict how you will act. You're a sort of dimensional wildcard. Your actions can also prevent or speed someone else's death.
Pain inducement: You can induce moderate pain in someone at will. For now, due to your low divine power and level of influence over the subdomain of pain, you cannot knock someone unconscious with this power.
This is a subjective power that causes people affected by it to experience different levels of pain based on their individual tolerance.
Deanimation: This is a synergistic death domain power that allows you to instantly kill anything that doesn't possess a soul. You can destroy undead, constructs, and more using this power.
Gravity mastery: You gain total control over gravity.
Pain dampening: You will never feel pain unless you allow yourself too. Pain you'd have originally felt if not for this power is automatically stored for you to do with as you please.
Auric control: Auras are manifestations of your control over your own soul. You can now actually use the auras you've been accumulating thanks to your influence over the soul domain. You can pick and choose which auras take effect and when.
Your new auric abilities include the ability to make ranged attacks never touch you, render enemies vulnerable to any and all of your attacks, and cause enemies to be the ones in pain if they attack you.
New active powers:
Soul destruction: This active soul domain power constitutes true destruction. By using it you utterly erase someone, permanently and irreversibly. They die and their soul is extinguished. This power is only possessed by a god. This power works on anything with a soul. You absorb their powers.
Eventually, this'll become a passive power. For now, you can only use it once every two weeks.
Death inducement: You can cause something to die with a glance. This is a twice per twelve-hour power. Undead are immune to it, for now. This'll also become a passive power eventually.
Attitudes towards pain: This power is a multi-synergistic power that allows you to shift how a target feels about pain. You can turn someone into masochists, sadists, or make them terrified of pain. You can use this power twice per twelve-hour period.
New blessing and curse details:
The soul domain is not a domain you can bless or curse someone with. At your current level of influence over it you cannot presently bless or curse someone with the physics domain.
By blessing someone with the death domain, you grant them immunity to instant killing effects. By cursing someone with it you make them unable to resist instant killing effects. This is a scaling blessing and curse that gains additional effects as you increase your influence over the death domain.
By blessing someone with the pain subdomain you can grant them pain resistance and increase the pain their attacks deal. By cursing someone with it you cause them to endure greater pain each time they are struck by a blow and cause the effects of pain on their minds to be worse.
Special alert and note:
You can now complete the quests to gain influence over the domains of the stars and time and the subdomains of radiation and evocation.
To earn the first tier of influence over radiation, which only has two tiers, you must bathe in the radiation produced by minerals deep underground.
To earn the first tier of influence over the evocation subdomain you must manipulate a new type of energy. This must be a type of energy you've yet to manipulate and you must use it to inflict harm on someone.
To earn the first tier of influence over the domain of stars, you must travel to your solar system's star.
To earn the first tier of influence over the domain of time you must manipulate the ages of members of three different species. You've already done this to two, it just so happens that being able to exert influence over the domain of physics is a necessary part of gaining access to the quest itself.
As a reward for gaining more influence over the interconnected domains of alteration, biology, and physics you've been awarded a special power. Other interconnected domains and subdomains will also grant you additional miscellaneous powers.
Size manipulation: You can alter someone or something's size. You can use this twice before it needs to recharge, and it currently takes half an hour to recharge.]
Even as I read through the notification, I felt my new powers surging into me. It brought a grin to my face to feel my powers expanding. And because of it, I felt like being nice.
I teleported myself out of the cavern I was in, and reappeared in the interior of the reptilian encampment, far from the fighting. I might as well see how reasonable my enemies were, and see if they were open to having a conversation that may save their lives.
It was surprisingly peaceful, though I knew that in minutes it wouldn't be. That knowledge brought a smile to my face.