textIn the beginning, there were Six in Four-and-Two. The Fourfold Primes spoke in tongues, each different. One spoke in ember snaps and flickering flame, and her name was FIRE - Ignis, the Dancer In the Flames. Another spoke in rushing waves and salty seas, and his name was WATER - Aquan, the Sovereign In the Depths. Still yet another spoke in breathy tones and whipping winds, and his name was AIR - Auralia, the Spirit In the Storm. The fourth spoke in grinding rock and solid stone, and her name was EARTH - Terra, the Mother Underground. Long did their conversations spill on, as siblings in a great nothingness. The echos of their Prime Speech reverberated, and as their arguments solidified, they gave birth to the IS and IS NOT, the Twins From Before: Animatus and Mortalis. Different from the Four, the Twins represented a Cyclical Duality. Animatus was life and creation and birth and the Sideways Tilt, while Mortalis was nothing and destruction and death and the Rewriting Script. In tandem they fought, pulling from each other some Simple Truth, yet never knowing what it was they lost. And so it was for days and nights and weeks and months and years and decades and centuries and millennia untold, this Two-fold Dance, this Theft of Meaning. All the while the arguments from the Four never ceased, providing the cosmos with its underlying current of entropy - the Eternal Decay. Then it came to pass that an Agreement was reached between the Four, as their arguments had ceased, to look upon the Twins and wonder at their power. As the Four watched the Two, the cosmos began to quake and split and fracture, as the Fourfold Primes were, for the first time in Time, in agreement. They reached out with one motion and pulled back Mortalis, allowing Animatus to work uninhibited for seventeen-and-seven-and-three seconds, in which the cosmos was shaped, and life was made. When the Fourfold released Mortalis, the Unmaking stabilized Creation, and the Fourfold had a canvas on which to paint. As Ignis worked the canvas in her Ineffable Flames, Auralia blew life over the worlds. The Fourfold Primes worked tirelessly, drawing on the Twins to create all we know and to erase all we do not. The Fourfold spoke in their languages, creating Man - the humans, together voicing the drumline for their song. The Mother Underground growled a great and powerful note, and the dwarves were formed - a race unyielding, resilient, and strong. The Spirit In the Storm struck a mighty chord upon the Eight Winds, pleasing and gentle to the ear, and the elves were made - a paragon of beauty and grace unfettered and free. The Sovereign In the Depths pitched a tidal song, forming the halflings - a race as constant as the ocean, yet as adaptable as water in any container. The Dancer In the Flames let out a jet of heat that boiled Creation, and the Gnomes were born - a passionate race eager for the new, as unstoppable as a roaring inferno. They sang for Days and Weeks and Months, creating the Dragonborn and Tiefling, the Goblins and Hobgoblins, the Aasimar and Firbolg, the Kenku and Orc, the Tabaxi and Triton, the Tortle and Aarakocra, the Changling and Eladrin, the Genasi and Goliath, and all the races and creatures and flora and fauna that cover and creep upon Creation. The Twins breathed Life into each, and Death into each also, so that their cycle could continue. The Six in Four-and-Two looked upon Creation and marveled in boredom, for the Four would rather be arguing, and the Two would rather be dancing. So it was that they created then the Apothiotheticals - the beings infused with a Spark from each of the Fourfold Primes, contained by a nexus of Swirling Light-Dark given from the Twins. These beings would be rulers of Creation in the Six's stead, and the Six saw that this was Not Boring. So the Apothiotheticals took for themselves the most mighty of Creation's creations as servants, fashioning themselves as Dragon Kings, and their rule was apocalyptic. Their Primodial nature wrought havoc on the world, as these Brothers on Dragonwing would war, and civilizations would fall in their wake. Those of the Nonprime Spark would not dare stand against the Kings from the Sky, and long was their toils and tribulations under whip and tooth and claw. Dissent was punished swiftly, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth echoed in the undercurrent, mixing with the Debate of the Primes, churning oblique. Long did this continue, and the mortals saw their fate and accepted it, save for six. These six, all women of Destiny and Strength, banded together with the Nonprimes and fought the Prime-touched Apothotheticals in a series of battles that reshaped the world. Rivers ran red, clouds of flies and locusts blocked out all light, and reality itself bent almost to breaking. Yet, in the end, the Prime-touched were drawn only to a stalemate by a binding ritual that unmade them into the dark void between moments. The ritual granted these six, now the Dying Queens, longevity and good health, but also marked them as the Cosmic Withholding that kept the Dragon Kings lost in The Unmaking Never. This ritual interrupted the Fourfold's bickering for nine Moments, and each moment elevated a new god, Separate but Above. Xelin was forged as the god of Honor, Deku was made as the god of Hope, Celestine was created as the god of Freedom, Dictum was enacted as the god of Law, Enos was grown as the god of Nature, Pandemonium happened as the god of Chaos, Jilkathstirei came forth as the god of Tyranny, Sevre Va whispered as the god of Despair, and Saveus took hold as the god of Corruption. Each god's birth spawned a Place Above or Below or Beside that was of them and Of Them, and the Prime Beings thus returned to arguing. Time passed, and as it did there arose many more gods, taking their apotheosis from the nascent remaining godsparks left behind by the Apothotheticals. These gods are Many and Few still, and the ever-changing pantheon serves as a reminder of the constancy of change and the inevitability of the Twin's Cycle returning to collapse on itself. For Those Placed Above remember well the last words uttered by the dying mages of the Cosmic Unmaking: "When at last the Queens expire, so too shall the peace wrestled from those sealed away."