The Gate has Risen
It began with a low rumbling sound. Followed by the ice trembling. None were there to notice it at first, not until it got more severe. People running from a shipwreck, pursued by unimaginable horrors stopped for just a moment, as the ground beneath them shook, as the ice seemed to roar like some ancient, malevolent beast. The nameless creatures who’d chased them had stopped as well, listening to the sounds.
A little port town was sure the sounds and the shaking ice and ground marked the last death throes of their planet, and they gathered behind the church walls, seeking some illusory safety. Soon, the rumbling could be heard and felt all over the planet, perhaps it was because of the unnatural forces besieging the world now, perhaps it was something else. Whatever the case, for a moment, everything stopped as all Aventinians listened to the sounds of the ice moving. Even the Orks had ceased their endless attempts at breaking through the infernal sky, and just listened to the sounds. Princess Amalia gazed from atop her tower in the general direction of the sounds, hatred swelling in her mind once again. Still, it did not come from the direction she knew the Daemon was at, which surprised her. This was something else. In his bed, surrounded by the best doctors his daughter could acquire, the lord of Aventine heard the rumbling. His mind was as filled with despair as his body was.
The humongous behemoth and the man riding it stopped, with the beast having some difficulty staying upright as the ground below it shook. The man called Set listened, lost in thought. Somewhere else, a man called Petke listened as well, the sounds stopping his argument with his alien ally. He was not worried. He knew this was not the end yet – it didn’t fit in the Daemon’s modus operandi, for one. No, this was something else. Someone else.
The Daemon in her lair laughed as she listened to the sounds, a terrifying wail of mirth that managed to destroy the few minds who heard it. She knew what this was. It was a play where she did not play more than a bit part, but she would enjoy the play nonetheless. She had always liked grand finales, even when she wasn’t involved. And of course, the stakes would be high. Higher than the players realized yet, perhaps. But they would. Oh yes, they would.
And then, suddenly a deafening crashing sound as the ice broke, sounds of ice shattering, a last massive tremor felt all over Aventine, and as suddenly as it had started, it was over. Silence filled Aventine. An unearthly stillness filled the air. Even the fog subsided somewhat, as if whatever had appeared had dispersed the worst of it.
And from below the ice, from the depths of the frozen maelstorm, it had appeared, a vast, alien and malign structure, of ancient and bizarre machinery. None saw it yet, but all had heard it. The cold wind brought with it whispers of this monument to fallen glory. Of its names. Of its purpose. Doom’s Entryway. The Damnation of Empires. The Bringer of Oblivion. Geata Anacuibneas – the Infinity Gate.
An escape route.
The lair of Kazamov.