To celebrate over FOUR YEARS (!!!) of writing the Golden Paladin’s story for this wonderful publication, and because we took a few months off for various reasons, we felt it was time to recap the story so far — to catch up new readers and remind the folks who have gone through this journey with us where we’ve come from as we step into this new chapter together.
Our story begins in the Second Age, approximately two hundred thousand years after Time began.
Metacosmic society at that time was governed by a loose alliance of ancient, powerful societies:
- The elves: the Firstborn, imparted vast knowledge through their Council
- The Chosen: individuals tied to a Creator artifact called ‘the Obelisk of Time,’ or simply, ‘the Obelisk.’
- And, finally, the Rangers: a space-faring, militaristic society
The Council of elves and the Chosen, both having seats on the elves’ homeworld of Availeon, worked closely together to hand down laws other sapient and initiated species were expected to follow. The Rangers, due to their long history of near-constant battle and high combat technology, were tasked with the enforcement of those laws.
But the Rangers’ conception of justice contrasted sharply with that of the Chosen and Council, who ascribed to the ideal of ‘the balance’ — that the evil in the hearts of sapients was put there specifically by the Creator. They believed that embracing and finding ‘balance’ with evil was the Creator’s ultimate wish.
So spake the Obelisk, a Creator artifact. Not many could rightly argue with guidance handed down from an object of divine provenance.
The Rangers, a group with its roots as survivors of slavery, civil war, and horror, saw no benefit in allowing self-proclaimed ‘evil’ societies to exist, and so chafed at the bit installed on them by the Chosen and Council. But the Rangers were outnumbered and outvoted.
This was the political situation that allowed the dark elves, a species that had devoted themselves entirely and openly to evil, to rampage across the Remus galaxy. The Chosen took the cries of help from those affected by the invasion and turned them into a political debate that dragged on for a year.
Only when the dark elves threatened the high elf outpost Ba’hari, a scientific facility studying an unstable red giant star deeply within established Ranger space, did the Chosen unshackle the Rangers to respond. Only then, claimed the Chosen, did the dark elves’ actions threaten the balance. And only threatening the balance was an action worthy of reaction.
Thus Battlegroup 861, led by Fleet Captain Gorian in his dreadnought Mercy, clashed with the dark elf flotilla outside of Ba’hari, routing the enemy — while Spiraea, Ascended of Nature, watched.
Sensing imminent defeat, an aeon-class at the back of the dark elf line used blood magic and sacrifice to pour power into its core, charging it with dark energy — and ramming into the already unstable star. The resulting detonation was a chain reaction that permanently shattered the entire arm of the Remus galaxy, utterly destroying any soul caught in the wave of the dark-energy-infected ultranova.
Spiraea flew into a rage at the unchecked hubris and cruelty of the dark elves. She transformed the dark elf homeworld into a place of poison storms and toxic swamps, then deposited every dark elf across the galaxies on it, and smashed their ships.
Gorian, meanwhile, had spent the last few moments of his life ensuring that his crew made it to the escape pods. With himself as the last remaining soul on the Mercy, he stumbled through the smoke to his own ketch — but he was out of time.
Spiraea took him before he could be unmade by the ultranova, though, with this command:
Go, she said. Tell them what has befallen the dark elves. Tell your story. Do not let history be forgotten, lest it always repeat.
Gorian was returned to Terelath … five hundred years later.
One of the group that found him was Ruémilanthrasia, an elven Ranger and Spiraea’s Prophet. Rué took Gorian to be examined by those of the Healing profession. They determined that Gorian had been Touched (meaning he was being protected by Creator power) and advised that Rué escort him to Spiraea’s Wood, her sanctum.
Trekking together through the woods outside Terelath to get to its wildest heart, Spiraea’s sanctum, Gorian was abruptly pulled underground. He was deposited into Spiraea’s inner realm, where she informed him that the extension of life he’d been given was quickly winding down. She then gave him a choice:
Give up the memories that still resided within him of the spaces between and what he’d witnessed therein, and she’d craft him a body to use as he pleased.
Refuse, and die.
“You have lived far beyond your time. As you said: you have no body, and it is only under these conditions I am able to provide you one. What I gave you to come this far is waning. You may move on to your next life, or continue in the service of the Creator. So, my little lost soul, which is it?”
Given the chance to continue past death to serve the Creator as he had in life, Gorian accepted. Spiraea used her complete dominion over Nature to craft him a body of mud, and a suit of armor of the Ascendent metals of her personal realm, and told him that his next stop would be Godholme — the seat of the Creator.
Rué and Gorian met a contingent of Rangers as they emerged from the forest. PFC Chanilinaicanau Abyssterilon called Gorian “The Golden Paladin.” As he tried to remind her that they’d just spoken when he’d been under the supervision of the Healers, he found that he couldn’t talk about his life as Gorian. She didn’t even recognize his voice.
The Rangers took the newly-christened Golden Paladin to a smaller shipyard outside the main Transpo hub and to an angelic ship, where a group awaited him:
Two Zeruphim and a Speaker (types of angels) …
And a cat.
“I bet you’re pretty fucking confused right now,” said the cat.
The cat introduced himself as Metatron, the One And True Voice Of The Creator.
Metatron told the Golden Paladin that he was not complete, and the Golden Paladin knew this to be true. Spiraea had done all she could, but there were things that were not within her purview — and that’s why the Golden Paladin needed to go to Godholme.
Before the Golden Paladin could ask any further questions, though, a small bird with orange eyes crapped on Metatron’s head, causing him to go into histrionics and chase off after it. The Speaker explained that Metatron was a little eccentric, and the Ascended knew this. (Spiraea often appears as different creatures, but her eyes give her away — the orange of the sun just before it sets.)
The Golden Paladin and Speaker boarded the angelic ship and took off. The Golden Paladin asked the Speaker a few questions, one of which included, “What am I?”
To which the Speaker responded:
“Well — you are you. But you’re now also what we call an avatar of the Creator. When Spiraea saved your soul, she could only save part of it. She had to piece you together and keep you intact with her own self — but being that close to the Creator, the soul wants to return and become whole. This is why it took five hundred years. I heard your natural high harmonization made things quite difficult.”
The Speaker went on to say that the Golden Paladin was missing a piece, and without that piece, he was vulnerable. They traveled through subspace to get to Godholme: a single ‘star’ of indeterminate mass and construction, five planetoids, and a sphere seemingly made of multiple layers of intricately-filigreed, moving metal plates.
The ship descended into the metal sphere — and the Golden Paladin was abruptly standing on the edge of a long stone walkway surrounded by oily-looking smoke … a walkway that extended into infinity.
The Golden Paladin got to walking.
The walkway seemed endless and there was no way to tell time in Godholme. Eventually, changes did start to happen: a door appeared at the end, and the Golden Paladin walked past some open portals. Starting to doubt his plan to walk to the end, he stopped at a portal that led into a forest.
There he met Matilde, a demigod of Spiraea, who told him he was ‘almost there.’ Returning to the walkway, he found three figures awaiting him: Metatron (in a hominin form), an avian hominin called Parrakun (whom Metatron named the ‘Guardian of True Wisdom’), and a hominin named Jesus-Man (Prophet of hominins). (Whew, that was a lot of ‘hominins’!)
Parrakun gave the Golden Paladin a spark and explained that the Golden Paladin’s new body was made of Creator magic, which meant that sufficiently-powerful dispel magic could unmake him. Parrakun’s gift was to make the Golden Paladin immune to dispelling.
Metatron and Parrakun left; Jesus-Man took the Golden Paladin to another portal. As they walked, Jesus-Man told the Golden Paladin just what it is the Creator had tasked him with.
On a planet named Arthur’s Kingdom (known to the Rangers as Archaic Earth, an uninitiated place), the mages had gone mad. The Golden Paladin was to find what exactly happened to them, and fix it.
The next portal led down into a smithy, where the Golden Paladin met a very large hominin who only identified himself as the Forgemaster, and a cranky elf named Andural, Bladesinger-smith for the elves. The two of them presented the Golden Paladin with three things: two swords that absorb magic (though they said that only one of the swords was for the Golden Paladin, the other being for a person the Golden Paladin would meet in Arthur’s Kingdom), and one strangely-shaped thing that might be a sword, which they called Alpha.
The Golden Paladin was to find the nexus of power in Arthur’s Kingdom, and use Alpha on it (not that he had any idea what that meant, and no one seemed to be inclined to elaborate).
The Golden Paladin was then told to “go see the boss.”
When he emerged from the smithy-portal back onto the walkway, he was enveloped in light that wasn’t light. It was all things.
And the Creator said, “Hello.”
The Golden Paladin asked why he had been chosen. To that, the Creator responded:
The only thing you ever asked Me for, in your long life, despite your great faith — was for others to survive. You did not even ask Me to spare your own life. You hoped you could get back to the ketch. You prayed that the escape pods would make it past the supernova. You prayed they had enough time. Do you know how hard it is to find that kind of self-sacrifice — without ego but also without self-harm — in a sapient? Especially one that, in life, wielded great political power and didn’t just resist temptation to abuse it, but didn’t feel that temptation whatsoever? No, your death in that manner was a great injustice. When I went looking, throughout all the souls, you were the only one just … purely doing the right thing.
The Golden Paladin was also told he was to be a bookmark for those to come, and then he was released.
When he opened his eyes again, he was staring at a blue sky.
(See you next time for the continuation of the recap!)
N.A. Soleil is a portmanteau pseudonym of the two authors' names.
Land of Chaos is a serial novel that we'll pick back up after these recaps! You can read previous Metacosm Chronicles stories in past issues of Tumbleweird: