Wednesday 11 October 2023

Dread Thirteen (A Setting Tonepost)





Human machinations have dethroned the divine, defiled the sacred places, torn the world and shown the old truths to be lies. Chaos reigns. 

The world is divided between the Deicides, thirteen dread and immortal warrior kings who massacred the Gods and came to rule their fellow men. 

This is a stew of ideas from something I created in about 2021 and haven’t done much with since. 

This is Anatropos, a world of earthquakes, dead gods, and wuxia shit. This is for the Glogtober ‘23 Prompt: A Cryptic Lorepost. 


Fat and flesh and muscle. Cultivate your carcass. The next world is no longer a safe place. You must hide in your body. You cannot follow your ancestors - because the ferrymen have been slaughtered and their bones have been made into headdresses for the army of the tyrant who lives over the hill. 

Avīci is sometimes cited as lasting 3.39738624×1018 or 339,738,624×1010 years - about 3.4 quintillion years.

The palaces on the hill are for the veterans of the armies that invaded Heaven. Normal war-wounds are scars, and missing teeth and eyes. These men and women have still-smoking burns, shadows that hate them, black pits in place of eyes, gleaming lights behind the thin material of their flesh, spiralling corkscrew marks, blood rendered as flammable oil - and bad dreams. 

you never know where your words are gonna end up, and so forth

cruel, or kind, or a description of a funny invisible monster

never know never care. im just firing my bow and arrow at random into the sky

The ship’s idols have been sawn off. The stumps of their feet are still there, but they have been replaced by swords and nails, driven into the wood. 

"Where is then the land, where man once waged war on/with his kinsmen?

The land is burnt down, the soul stands subdued,

It knows not how to atone: thus it goes to damnation."

Quaris was a yardstick. No tower could be taller than Quaris’ towers. No harbour could be deeper than Quaris’ harbour. No roads longer, wider, or straighter than the roads in or leading to Quaris. 

Chasun was the City-God, the God of the City and the God of Cities. Chasun was two human heads upon a great winged reptilian body. Quaris was their heaving project. Statues of them still cover the place. Their parents, greater divines, would destroy anyone that outpaced precious Quaris in any aspect. Now, Chasun’s dark civic tower is the fortress of Deicide Venoch, inaccessible and unassailable, mice living in the homes of men. 

Venoch sends messages out via a system of pulleys, and pulls visitors up the sides in gondolas. Nobody has yet figured out how to deactivate the four-hundred traps of the Shadowed Stair. 

Lightning flashes,

Sparks shower.

In one blink of your eyes

You have missed seeing.

Varkath is scion and master of the Dream of Iron. Where he goes metal bends to his will - heats, reshapes, dances as if living. He rules the only country in the world where carrying a weapon on the road is mandatory. 

Gold is for the mistress - silver for the maid" -
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade! "
" Good! " said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
But Iron - Cold Iron - is master of them all."

This is the kind of shit he would like.
If he read poetry.

Varkath rules the Northern Reach from the city of White Marrow, where 111 years before he slaughtered all the Petty Kings of the north before they could even stand up from their thrones to challenge him. He reclines in a hot-spring surrounded by the weapons of all the warriors and heroes who have failed to kill him - attempting to soothe the agonising wounds caused by his fall from the heavens. 

When a fish meets the fishhook

If he is too greedy, he will be caught.

When his mouth opens

His life already is lost.

Cold rain is drenching a small port by the seashore.

One half of it is mouldering wood, and the other half is charcoal. Repairs have been slow. 

It is the middle of the night. Inside a pillared building with wide eaves, two women sit and work. 

Their clothes are cotton and they have no furniture, yet they hand each other jewels, bolts of silk, squares of cloth-of-gold, and, most carefully, masks, made of mahogany and teak. All these are painstakingly maintained, the pride of the town and the island. 

The candles flicker as the earth rumbles. The roofbeams creak, but it passes. 

The first mutters a quiet prayer as the second stares at her.

They stand. The second affixes a mask to the face of the first, as she shrugs into a coat of silk. 

Theatre is a sacred art. It’s how we tell history.

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.

For quite a long time, the title of “Monkey King” has been forbidden.

After the last series of assassination attempts caused so many casualties, he agreed to

“Chosen King of the Monkeys”,

If it meant his wives would stop plotting to kill him for three fucking seconds.

Come on.

When the earth shakes, it cracks, and demons are born.

Fleshy, callous, strong, driven by hungers. Half animal giants, grinning aberrations on the earth’s face. When they are young, they are stupid. Every culture has a way of tricking young demons. 

Three Jarred Demons

  1. A saola-demon, 1HD. So young it hadn’t yet named itself. An earthquake tore it free from a hillside in Atarna, and a swordsman caught it with a demon-pot he bought a month earlier. He’s waiting to unleash it on someone unsuspecting. 

  2. Rugh, a sun-bear-demon, 2HD. A greedy idiot who tried to rob the Deicide Iyaka. Being a humorous sort, she had him imprisoned in a jar and placed secretly in her vast treasure vault, to serve as a guard. He expects to be released after 50 years of imprisonment (incorrectly). 

  3. Donggan, a pig-demon, 9HD. Once the cunning king of the Mud Island near Xoh, this ancient philosopher-prince was said to be close to cultivating immortality. Jaohan had him sealed in a black-enamel pot as a test. They had been enemies since Donggan embarrassed him in a debate about celestial mechanics, of course, so few were surprised. 

Kholu is and is not the Dream of Earth. She is an ox-demon, a very old one, dreadfully strong - moved past the foolishness of newborn demons ruled by impulses, her mind has crystallised. She has settled into long, patient waiting - and scheming. 

She is the great continent - the Dream of Earth has made it her garden and her body. She is on every hill and river. She is omnipresent in the poisonous greenhouse that makes up most of the world and has almost nobody living on it. 

Well, aside from Gong Garh, the Elephant Monk, who has toughened himself to every method of death by exposure in pieces. Kholu tries to kill him every day, with her poison plants, her sheer cliffs, her dreadful beasts, her hives of black hornets, her boiling sun and sucking marshes - still, he marches onward - seeking immortality by fractions.

They’re a common pair of stock characters in plays - bitter rivals, or secret lovers, or - most usually - bickering like two married for far too long.  


Listen! listen! Wake up, O iron!

Help us G_d!

Just seeing us coming the villages are already ablaze.

Just seeing us passing the crows are wiping their beaks.

War and plunder, there are no greater pleasures.

Forward and let the others call the gravediggers!

The voice of the Sleeper is calling us to war.

Weariness, rains, snow and heat we shall endure.

And if sleep overtakes us,

we will use the earth as our bed.

And if we get hungry, we shall eat raw meat!

Wake up, O iron! Forward!

Fast as the lightning, let us fall on their camp!

Forward! Let us go there to make flesh,

The wild beasts are hungry!

They (the orcs, that is) were made from mud and blood by Hemoch, the War God. They were made, and told the only thing that they could love was war. Orc legions handed out divine retribution to the people of the ruled world, and they were despised. They were not allowed names, homes, to produce images, to acknowledge each other except in battle, to create more orcs - or to retreat. 

To keep them pure, they were allowed to sing only orcsong and sleep in mud under the open sky. Their only possessions were weapons. 

When the gods were besieged, many orcs were summoned suddenly to Heaven to defend its halls and passages. 

There was one, a very old one, a very mean and scarred one - who had seen humans return to their families in the warm light of an open doorway one too many times. This one saw his chance, and turned coat.

Now this orc is called the Uth-Orc, the liberator of his people and the King of Ghorm. He spends his days naming orcs. He shapes and is shaped by the Dream of Form, and is completely, totally invulnerable. The Uth-Orc is the least cruel, and most miserable, of the Deicides. 

His is an arid land watered by stolen rain, where orcs kneel in soft cloth for the first time in their lives and try to figure out how to paint from first principles. Ancient relic swords that have beheaded twenty kings are melted into huge ploughshares. And novelties are enjoyed - conversation. Market day. Love.


Zinzada flows with the Dream of Water - the great deltas and deep lakes of Myrandis are her chosen domain. In Myrandis, for all of history, they have drowned those who would presume to be their kings. How does Zinzada rule, then? 

She was born there a very long time ago, though she is the picture of youth, despite it. Water is hers to move. The rivers flow downstream, now, because Zinzada permits it, and the fish in the lakes live, because she permits it. This keeps the clans in line. 

The many disparate clans call her Elder. Irony, maybe. 

She drowns dissenters, makes deals with crocodiles, and has a riverbed jail made of dark iron, bamboo and mud, kept with air only by her Dream, where, should she die, all 657 hostages will drown almost immediately. This keeps the clans in line. 

Ata-Shan rules and is ruled by the dream of Power, which is this: she can do as much damage as she likes when she punches you. 

Her homeland, Chalkos, had cities and ports. In the past tense - now it is an isolated backwater with no safe way on or off those rocky shores. She destroyed them each with a single punch that sent rubble high enough to scar the skies and the foundations of Heaven. It is a cult, not a cult of personality, but a cult of terror - pray, for utter destruction resides within the small dark palace on the hill.

The only reason she has not destroyed the whole world with a flick of her finger is that she would have nowhere left to stand. 

Devour your fellow man! For he is delicious and nobody will stop you. 

What is the identity of the dread one who will finally tear the world asunder? The Deicides claim towards it - but they are too many. The number is one, not thirteen. I've only told you about a few of them here - dark Dreams remain unrevealed.

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

The tiger

He destroyed his cage





  1. this post grabbed my brainstem and wrung it out like a dirty towel
    tigers, yes, please, thank you
    tiger-orcs are very very good, but the best part is (as always) the characters: you worldbuild in a unique, name-drop-y way that makes me want to have a conversation with these characters, instead of, yknow, fall the fuck asleep. A vanishingly rare skill, imo

  2. This is just amazing.
    But there are only 5 Deicides described, so what the others would be?

  3. This seems awesome and evocative, getting a little bit of a kill six billion demons vibe