No, not lightly does one kill a God.
There was an insult, a dire curse, mostly forgotten in the Last Days but still guaranteed to kick off a fistfight or a witch-burning if spoken in the wrong circles. That curse was giela.
It was a thing of corruption, the whole of an unspeakable and unfathomable darkness distilled into a form able to be comprehended – just barely – by the minds and senses of brief mortals. It was said that, in the deepest of ancient times, the Leviathan of the Dark Realms had gone among lesser beings in a giela of flesh. It was said that all Gods, good and evil and indifferent, did this at some point – to dally and torment, to entertain Themselves or to teach lessons to Their followers.
Nobody really believed those fables from antiquity. But when the Greater Fall of Man threatened to tear the very world asunder, and the poison began to seep out of the Angelic Prison and into the stones and the air, the word was remembered.
Giela. The poisoned fruit of a garden irretrievably befouled by the dark deeds committed within its walls.
The giela took many forms. Some were large, some were small. All were terrible in their own ways. The worst of them were the ones that poured into human hosts, changing them into things almost unspeakable in their twisted deformity of body and spirit. When the toxic waste of God-space leaked into a tree or a stone or a beast of the field, it was bad. When it found a home in the already-fetid soul of a human being, to call it a nightmare was an injustice.
For dark and dreadful centuries, the giela ravaged the world. Sometimes they came out of the desolated and forsaken land of Aganéa, and those were the worst. Things that had been hardened, given some sort of life and purpose, a feverish desire to feed upon and despoil the relatively clean lands beyond. They committed atrocities that, at their best, were senseless and bestial … but at their worst had cunning and calculation behind them, and a dreadful intent. Some, a terrifying few, were even able to hide their abominable deformities from the general population, and crawl their way up behind the scenes into places of power, where their corruption was given free rein.
It was there, of course, that they began encountering the other hidden entities of the dying Earth. The Demons, and the Imago, and the agents of Osrai, and more.
To call what happened next a ‘war’ was perhaps inaccurate. Wars generally have some measure of restraint, some half-remembered ideal of protecting one’s own side or securing the resources, the spoils, of the vanquished enemy. Even if restraint and ideals are abandoned in the final extreme, one can usually distinguish a war from tragedies of smaller scale. What happened between the giela and the other forces beneath the surface of the human world was more like a feeding frenzy. And when it spilled over into the narrow slice of the world that humans actually noticed, the results were even more terrifying than the giela assaults.
Eventually, though, the giela were defeated. One by one, they were hunted down and cauterised from the world. The seeping poison slowed and dried and turned to dust, and no more monstrosities emerged. And yet, even when they were all gone, the word was remembered. Giela. An insult of nearly unforgivable direness, an accusation of debasement and impurity. An insult that implied cleansing by fire, and that could only be answered by fire.
Among the greatest soldiers in this ugly and mostly-unseen war, with a personal body-count of nineteen greater, thirty-eight lesser and untold multitudes of minor giela, was Athé of the Rooftop. Athé of the Angelic Prison. Athé the Piebald.