DCM Vertigo


Twilight of the Gods

The Mythology of Ending
by Toby Kernan


Amora woke from the vision, screaming and sweating. Her lover, Skurge, awoke from his dreaming with a start, and sprang from the bed, grabbing his gigantic battle axe, prepared to battle whatever foul creatures had beset them. He found only himself and Amora, there in their bedroom, bathed in the light of the stars.

"What ails you my sweet?" asked the perplexed Skurge.

Amora seemed to pause, a moment of contemplation, to regain her thoughts, then turned to her lover. Skurge noticed the look a confusion and sadness in her eyes.

"I had a vision," Amora whispered, wiping the sweat from her brow. "There are creatures coming. Ancient winged warriors from another realm. They mean to destroy us all . . . "

Skurge searched the room for his armor, proclaiming, "Then we will fight . . . "

Amora looked scared, "Lover, we must go to Odin immediately. Warn the others. I fear that our Ragnarok may soon come . . . "

Heimdall stood at the edge of the Rainbow Bridge, the primary link between Midgard, 'Earth', and his home of Asgard. It was his duty to guard the Bridge, which he did faithfully every day of his life.

He was the first of the Norse Gods to see the attackers coming. He could scarcely believe his own eyes when the sight befell him. They came in a giant flock, not just a few, but an entire legion. Angels. Scores of Angelic warriors, with their white wings flapping, carrying swords which burned bright with white energy.

Heimdall was unsure what to do. Though he had heard of the creatures, which occupied the realm humans called Heaven, he had never seen one before, much less a vast score of them. Heimdall noticed, as the pack drew ever closer, two pulled ahead of the group and made their way towards his station at the Bridge's edge. He noticed that the one in the lead looked to be quite a formidable creature. He wore armor, which bore hundreds of eyeballs, looking in every direction. In his hand a huge broadsword crackled with burning energy. His face did not appear to be one of mirth, but of a very serious nature.

"Ho, friends," replied Heimdall, "that is quite a procession. What business doth thou have at mine Bridge and in my homerealm?"

"I am Asmodel," proclaimed the armored angel, as he came to stand a few feet before Heimdall, "Bull-Host of the Pax Dei. I bring you and all your brethren the message of the great Presence himself. The time of the false gods is over. Your kind will no longer be permitted to stain this, or any realm."

Heimdall could scarcely believe his ears, as he smartly pulled his blade from beside him to parry to blow of Asmodel's sword. As the blades struck, Heimdall fell to one knee. Even if Asmodel wasn't stronger, the energy, which pulsed in his blade, was far stronger than the enchantment in Heimdall's blade. Heimdall wasn't sure he could keep this battle up very much longer.

"You are mad!" proclaimed Heimdall, as he parried another blow, noticing that his sword was beginning to crack.

"Hardly," proclaimed Asmodel, the fire and fury in his eyes matched with the huge smile upon his lips.

Heimdall attempted to parry the next vicious blow, but watched in horror as his blade shattered, and the sword of Asmodel plunged deep into his chest, piercing several organs, and exiting out his backside. Heimdall felt the burning energy of the blade's pure, white light for just a moment, then died bleeding upon the Bridge he had spent his whole life protecting.

"Onward," cried Cheriour, the Angel who had stood behind Asmodel in the battle, "One of the scum has fallen, now let us finish the rest of the vermin!"

The Angels crossed the bridge in Asgard, but found that the realm seemed to be quite deserted. Asmodel suspected that their fight might not be quite as easy as first anticipated. He knew the Asgardians wielded powerful magics, and perhaps someone had seen their arrival coming.

"They have gone into hiding?" asked Cheriour to Asmodel, curious as to where their prey had gone.

"No," replied Asmodel, his eyes squinted in annoyance, "this is something else. Running is not the style of the Asgardians. Besides, where would they run? Mephisto promised to deal with Hela, and seal off her realm, and I doubt Titania would allow them into Faerie. No, they are here, somewhere."

The Angel known as Bahram came forward, "No, they are here. It took me some time, but I feel them. All of them. They are all together, in the center of this realm. They are all gathered around something."

Asmodel smiled, "Of course. They are ready for us. They are gathered at the Yggdrasil, the World Tree. This will be a glorious battle indeed. Onward!"

As they made it within viewing of the tree, they saw them. All of them. They were heavily armed and armored. They stood side-by-side, united together, ready to battle the Angels. Asmodel had done some studying of them, and so made a mental note of those present. All those that were in the realm seemed to be here, including Balder, the witch Karnilla, even the old man Odin himself. Asmodel also noticed Hela was not present. It seemed Mephisto had completed his end of the bargain, killed the Norse goddess of the Underworld, and sealed the realm off for good.

Odin strode to the front of the Gods, and began to speak, the anger in his voice unmistakable, "You have murdered one of ours, at least, and tend to do more harm. If it is war you creatures want, then we were surely oblige."

"You are outnumber and outskilled false god," screamed Asmodel. "Do yourselves a favor and simply bow kneel down, and die. You are vermin that shall be exterminated."

"Outnumbered?" smiled Odin. "You art indeed the fool your 'ally' made you out to be . . . "

Asmodel didn't understand what was happening, his 'ally'?

"You see, Asmodel, you were betrayed," Odin continued. "Mephisto sent a word of your attack. So we made a few deals, and I would say thy odds are nigh what you thought they would be."

Asmodel watched as trolls marched over a nearby hill, lead by Geirrodur, King of the Trolls. He also watched in annoyance as the Storm Giants approached from another side. But the greatest offense of all was saved for last. Suddenly, the realm crackled with energy, and a portal opened. From the portal stepped Hela, behind her the legions of the dead. From the skies came the Valkries, riding their winged steed, ready for battle.

"Damn," Asmodel muttered as he prepared for the battle. Mephisto had betrayed him, and when this battle was done, he would be destroyed. As Asmodel's anger grew, he considered simply falling back, and regrouping, seeking Mephisto out for his betrayal, but . . .

Suddenly, the Angel known as Araham flew to Asmodel's side. Asmodel noticed he looked worried.

"Asmodel," replied Araham, "something has gone wrong. The Rainbow Bridge has been broken, its link with Earth severed. It has been destroyed, and I can smell the stench of Hell all around. We can not leave this realm that way!"

Another betrayal by the devils, thought Asmodel. Mephisto knew they could not reach Heaven from this dimension, and so he betrayed them, trapping them here, and forcing them to fight greater odds, hoping that they would either be trapped, or die here. At another time, he might have admired Mephisto's brilliant strategy, but not when it was he whom had been betrayed. When all the Asgardians were gone, he would make Mephisto's death long and slow and very painful.

Asmodel had little time to worry about that now though, for the denizens of Asgard, as well as Hel and Niffleheim, were upon them.

Ares and Set found the third member of their proposed Pantheon of Dark Gods sitting upon the edge of an ancient lake deep in the hills of Scotland. He was there, staring into the pond, absorbed completely.

"What are you doing Loki?" asked Set as they made their way closer.

"Scrying, Serpent God," replied Loki, watching the scene magically cast upon the pond very intently. "I came to see what was transpiring in my home realm, and found quite a scene. It seems the Angels of Heaven are intent on destroying every one in the realm. Alas, my poor Asgardians, I knew them well. It is a shame I am missing all the fun . . . "

Ares turned when he noticed an awful smell fill his nostrils. Nearby, he saw the charred forms of two demons, their bodies badly burnt and contorted in awful ways.

"I assume," said Loki, watching as the Asgardian Hoder was run through with a sword, "you two are here because this situation isn't simple an attack on Asgard?"

"Yes," replied Set. "The legions of Heaven and Hell have aligned to eliminate all those they consider 'false gods'. I have found a way to survive the onslaught, and was hoping the recruit a 'few good men' to join me in a new, powerful pantheon. Are you interested?"

"Why not?" replied Loki. "Looks like my old one is on the edge of extinction."

Loki took one last glance at the pool, them stood, and join the other two. As they were about to depart, a new image appeared in the people. This one was of Hermes Trismegistus, the immortal Egyptian mage bound to aid Set in his quest to create his dark pantheon.

"There is a problem," replied the ancient mage.

"What problem is that?" hissed Set, annoyed. He didn't quite trust the mage. They had dealt with each other in the days when the Egypt was the power that controlled much of the world. Set didn't like him then, and the centuries had done little to alter those feelings. Set considered, and decided when he was no longer necessary, Set would prepare a fate most awful for the mage. Hermes craved death, so maybe Set would leave him to live forever, bound, and picked at by carrion birds in the baking, desert sun.

"There are problems with the spell, you will return, with your allies, immediately to my chambers," replied Hermes, uninterested in Set's annoyed tone.

"Fine, mage, we are coming," replied Set, contempt dripping from his voice, "but this had better be good. We still need to retrieve Kali and Siva."

As the image disappeared from the pool, the three Dark Gods lifted themselves into the air and began their journey to Hermes's laboratory.

Anodyne had to attempt to physically restrain the enraged Thor from attacking. The moment they had landed, a good distance from Set and Ares, Anodyne knew there would be trouble. She had recognized Thor's brother Loki just as quickly as Thor had. She knew the hatred Thor held for his sibling.

Anodyne knew she didn't have the strength to stop and rationalize with Thor in his current state, so she used some of her magic to aid her. Concentrating, she released magic from her fingertips into the Thunder God. Anodyne watched as the magic flowed through him, relaxing and calming him, hopefully long enough for her to reason with him.

"Thor, please stop," whispered Anodyne, her voice adding calm. "Think before you react this time."

"Lady Anodyne," declared Thor, "surely you see the gravity of this event. Set is gathering some of the world's most dangerous Gods together for reasons yet unknown. We must stop him. Worse still, he hath brought my devious brother into his fold. No good can come of this."

"I agree lover," whispered Anodyne. "But there are two things you musty consider. First, can you and I stop them? Second, do we want to YET? Perhaps there is something bigger going on here . . . "

"Damn," replied Thor, interrupting her, as he noticed the three Dark Gods make their way to the sky. "It looks as though we have little time to decide. They are on the move again. I hate this cowardly stalking, but what you say, Lady, makes sense. We will follow them to their next destination. Perhaps they will stay there, and we can go retrieve aid from my fellow Asgardians, or friend Hercules."

With that the two quickly took their pursuit of the Dark Gods, moving westward back towards the United States.

The Oracle Delphi had prepared Olympus for the coming of the demons and devils. Days before the onslaught was to occur, she had delivered her prophecies to Zeus. She had come to his royal chambers and told him that shadowy forces would rise from the realms of fire and death and ravage their home. She said the wisest action would be to run and hide, but Zeus said, in his godly arrogance, that the Olympians feared no attacks. They would stand and fight. He placed a call to arms. He had Hesphaestus bring forth his finest armors and weapons. He had the spell-casters bring forth their most powerful spells. He called all of the children forth, and held council, preparing them to battle for their very existence. He united his people, and prepared them for war.

Their war was now coming. The Gods of Olympus watched as the skies around their home turned dark, not from clouds or the coming of night, but from hoards of winged demons in the skies. It looked as though the entire legions of Hell had spilled from the bowls of their dark home and had erupted upon their home. The Olympians stood unified, waiting for their enemies to strike, watching them circle, hovering, apparently waiting for something or some signal. The Olympians watched as one winged, horned, red-skinned devil pulled himself from the group, and came to hover a hundred yards from where the Olympians stood. Artemis prepared to fire an arrow at him, but Zeus stopped her, as he noticed that the creature held something in his hands. They watched as he dropped the object, watching it begin its descent, then he bowed and returned to the demonic hoards.

The Olympians watched as the object came speeding down. Anticipating its trajectory, the Olympians separated, and watched the bowling ball-sized object hit the ground with a harsh thud. They noticed it was in fact a head. As the Olympians looked they recognized the head. It was Hades, the Olympian God of Death.

The devils and demons began their descent onto Olympus.

Zauriel stood watching as Irene Adler, Naze, Daimon Hellstrom, and Dr. Fate sat upon the magic circle, inscribed upon the floor, and attempted to relax themselves, however possible, in order to allow the magic that was to follow to aid them in their journey. Zauriel was sure it the relaxing wasn't easy. After all, the fate of this world, perhaps all of existence may very well rest upon their soldiers.

Zauriel wished he could join them. In all his years, he had finally found a case where being an Angel of Heaven was actually a hindrance, instead of help. The four heroes were heading into the Dreaming, a place where no Angels could enter, because Angels never sleep, and therefore can never dream.

Zauriel could do nothing but watch as Naze began to chant, in the language of his ancient people. The song was sweet and sad and beautiful, and impressed even Zauriel. He watched in amazement as the four heroes each began to tire, yawn, and eventually fall into a slumber. They were all asleep now, and Zauriel hoped they were being welcomed into the Dreaming.

Zauriel prayed that they would find the Presence and find a way to break his slumber. Zauriel watched over the four sleeping bodies, hoping that his effort to get them this far would be enough to save everything he held dear.

Next Issue: The conclusion, as Olympus is assaulted by the forces of Hell, Thor and Anodyne confront Set and company, and the heroes journey into the Dreaming and beyond to save the Presence.