The skein had snapped, and now paradise burned.

It was the mountainfolk who had succumbed first. Theirs was a harsher lot than most, and upon that strife was borne a terrible desire. When the Faceless Stranger came to their homes, clad with cloak of starlight and air of ambition, they thought it was a travelling god.

It taught them new words; words that were hard for their mortal tongues to say at first, but upon which they would settle like old leather. It said these words were true-tongue, heaven-speak, first spoken when the world was good and whole. Soon, the words took hold — parent spoke to child, friend spoke to friend, stranger spoke to stranger. The sounds of these words gnawed at the fabric of things, scraping the walls and burrowing into reality.

In swift time, the words were spoken by all, save those who could sense that the speech was no true-tongue, but instead, dark carrier. They implored, they begged, but it was to no avail. Their elders decreed that only these words were to be spoken, and those who would not would be struck down with great vengeance. A meaningless proclamation for most, as dark carrier was all they now knew.

The words brought terrible anguish upon the mountainfolk. Disease and anger. Fear and distortion. The speakers were confused: had they not spoken the tongue as it had asked? Why did they suffer so? They entreated the Faceless Stranger, and begged in that selfsame speech for guidance.

It laid these miseries at the feet of the true-gods. It spun them a tale that their misery was the artifice of deities: pretenders to a pantheon that lay trapped behind reality. If they could only be freed, then these woes would surely be dispelled. Such was the mountainfolk’s lust for succor that they set about this task at once, performing the rituals and gathering the materials as demanded by the Faceless Stranger. Cryptic requirements, baroque and complex machinery, chants that lasted day upon day.

The work was swiftly finished, and those walls that had been weakened and buckled now shattered entirely. A final moment gleefully initiated by the elders that had walked many down a path of damnation. From the momentary breach stepped a beast with a million forms but no name. It consumed the believers in an instant, and oozed like tar down the mountains. Starving maws tore through fields and forest, leaving only corrupted wasteland in its wake. Soon the world would be nothing but that roiling black mass, endlessly chittering in that foul tongue.

Watching this onslaught was Ynpolari, true-god of revelations. As much as he supped upon the pain and destruction inflicted by the mass, he saw an end that was thoroughly unlikable. There was no flourish, no artistry and no intention to the beast’s action. This was most disagreeable to Ynpolari, who did not believe that such horror should be inflicted as though one were merely rolling a stone down a hill. He struck a concord with the rest of the true-pantheon, an agreement that they would unify their efforts for this one thing, in the interests of continuing the game.

The true-pantheon could see that simply destroying the creature was impossible — the energies required for such a task would surely break the world as well. Instead, they would build for it a cage of rock and magic, buried deep in the earth where no creature could hear its dark tongue. Entire quarries were emptied of stone as the followers of Metros dutifully architected and crafted to a divine design. Metros himself formed maze after maze, glyphward after glyphward, barrier after barrier until the prison stood complete: Tmygnrata-Pren, The Jail of One Thousand Walls.

Eventually, the creature’s dark shadow slid over the entrance, and the true-pantheon struck with great fury. The world shook and trembled with sonorous booms as the beast was driven down, down, deep below, into the shadows that would never see light. The glyphwards activated, the doors slammed shut, and the earth regrown over its surface till it looked much like any other patch of prairie one could find.

There it would lie, just beneath the surface, undisturbed for generations to come. Only one question still remained for Ynpolari: would there be a mortal dull-witted enough to plumb those horrid depths? Of course, he already had seen the answer. After all, people can only play Team Fortress 2 for so long.

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