An excerpt from the Ochre Chronicles
When time first flowed there existed only the Expanse and the heavens, the pedestal and crown of reality. No distance defined them, no shape gave them form, nor light banished their shadows. They were ruled by the Absence and absent they became.
Reality convulsed, needing purpose and definition, and into the Absence a word was spoken, and it was truth.
The power of the word moved the mountains, awoke the stone, and shifted the sands, but it was not enough. Reality still lacked reason.
Anger besieged the Absence and it said unto the Expanse, ‘Be dead,’ and the mountains and sands moved no more. The anger saturated the void and reality began to dissolve in its vehemence.
A new emotion was born of the Expanse. It was hope, hope of deliverance. The anger of the Absence and the hope of the Expanse fused as one, forging a being both magnanimous and vengeful: the Abundance. The Abundance overpowered the Absence and looked upon the Expanse and the heavens to form its prison.
The anger of the Abundance desired immortal divergence, yet its hope wished for harmony. This internal conflict tore the Abundance into two separate entities: the Architect, the being of forgiveness and life; and the Atrocity, the being of vengeance and hatred.
The Architect and the Atrocity warred with one another, fighting for the rule of reality.
The Architect conquered and expelled the Atrocity from the heavens, forcing it to take physical form. It was reborn as the demon, Atropa.
Triumphant, the Architect re-ordered the heavens and impregnated the soils of the Expanse with the seed of its will.
The blessed tree Zorrogon, mother of all, was born of the seed and its divinity grew and bore the fruits of life. All manner of creatures flowed from its boughs, from the tiniest imp to the mighty Ziz.
Reality rejoiced, sated by the divine creation, given cause and obligation to continue its existence.
Over the next millennia, Atropa, sick with vengeance, travelled the breadth of the Architect’s creation, distorting all life that strayed into his midst. Using an hourglass fashioned from rage and a scythe forged of vengeance, he enslaved the souls of the living, twisting them into his own design. His demonic creations stalked the Expanse, leaving living-death, suffering, and conflict in their wake.
An extermination of life had begun, a slow and brutal struggle that dirtied the face of the Expanse with misery and war.
The Absence stirred in its incarceration, roused by the weakening of its ethereal prison. It clawed at reality, once more threatening oblivion.
Just as it seemed that all was lost and reality was damned, the Architect intervened. It trapped Atropa’s abominations in a gilded ark formed from its divine tears, sealing them in a realm of shadow using a lock of pure hope. The Shadow Ark was placed at the core of Zorrogon, alongside the Elemental Kettle and the Emotion Flask.
By abandoning their physical forms, three demons escaped the confinement of the Architect’s ark and fled into the Expanse. The first came upon a woodman locked in a mortal battle with a wolf at twilight. It took their conflict and made it eternal, fusing them as one, creating the werewolf.
The second came to a maiden dying of blood loss during childbirth. It took her child’s soul and bid it to reclaim its mother’s lost life-force, giving it an insatiable thirst for blood. Thus, upon her final breath, the maiden birthed the vampire.
The third travelled into the Western hills and answered the prayers of a refugee and his wife who were dying of exposure and starvation. It offered them salvation in the form of cannibalism and they were sated by each other’s flesh, giving rise to the windego.
The werewolf, the vampire, and the windego were bound to the moon, the darkness, and the cold. They became the deadly three, spreading themselves like a plague throughout the life of the Expanse.
Atropa was thwarted once more and banished by the Architect for his profanity, imprisoned in the Dead Wastes beyond the reach of Zorrogon’s life-imbued roots.
Upon the eve of his seventh span of exile, the Architect said unto Atropa, “When the Absence returns and oblivion tolls, my essence will fill the male offspring of a human maiden. This vessel of my power will be both your salvation and your ruin.