"Sometimes, history just needs a little push."
Benjamin Florencia Holliday was an insurrectionist, black mage, and ex-hero associated with the Outlanders. Heavily involved with the terrorist group the Gleaming Road as well as the Reunion Cult and the Outlanders, he was a polarizing figure known for his mastery of sorcery and divination and his legendary revolutionary spirit and idealism. He was relatively short with green eyes and a light build; he was blind in his left eye and had bleach white hair due to the degenerative effects of prolonged dark magic use. He was usually seen wearing an elaborate black coat with a silver vest, white undershirt, and black ascot, along with a redstone pocket watch and an emerald ring.
Personality & traits
Intense, compassionate, hedonistic, vain, and an obstinate idealist, Ben was remarkable for his charismatic demeanor, always eager to support his comrades and defend his ideals whenever challenged. Owing to his revolutionary upbringing and years of experience in both the city and countryside, he was a worldly man who rarely hesitated and was always planning his next move, sticking to the mantra of staying one step ahead of everyone else in the room. He had a deep distrust of authority and preferred to either work by himself or as the leader of a devoted following. Described as a dangerous criminal mastermind by his enemies and as a compassionate visionary by his allies, Holliday was many things but nothing if not a force to be reckoned with.
Whilst confident in his abilities and rarely caught off guard, he favored implied power over brute force, keeping his cards close to his chest and influencing those around him through appealing to their own goals and insecurities rather than asserting his supremacy outright. Charismatic and often unexpectedly altruistic even to his adversaries, he often used his charm and force of personality to advance his goals and was even prone to random acts of kindness which did not directly serve his agenda, such as feeding peasants on his travels or treating his would-be opponents with at least a measure of respect and charity.
While honorable, Ben remained largely guided by his singular vision of attaining more power so as to shape the world more to his image, viewing his ideals and vision for society as the only worth fighting for or even considering, rendering it ambiguous as to whether his compassion was genuine or simply another tool. Accusations of dishonor or narcissism would be met with marked hostility as he greatly valued the admiration and understanding of others, though ultimately he firmly believed that he and his actions would eventually be vindicated and thus absolved by history.
Holliday was a notorious hedonist, known for his indulgence in simple pleasures as well as his obsession with collecting rare works of art and other historical artifacts. He maintained a private addiction to absinthe and shroom tea and was quite concerned with fashion, rarely seen without his bespoke suit, emerald ring, and antique diamond encrusted redstone pocket watch.
Skills & abilities
Class: Black Mage
Weapons: Staff/War scythe (Shadowsong), arming sword
Armor: None, Heavy (Orbalisk Armor)
Though not a physical match for any of the Outlanders due to his fragility and slightly degenerated fine motor skills, Ben heavily invested in his command of the arcane and his ability to swiftly dispatch his foes with a plethora of overwhelming elemental, spiritual, mental, and other magical attacks. As a black mage, he specialized in destructive and dark magic, favoring deadly and extravagant attacks which were as lethal as they were intimidating. His command of the darkest magicks also lent to a proclivity for insidious curses, rituals, and psionic warfare. He aided in his casting of magic with hit legendary staff, the Shadowsong, though he was capable of harnessing limited spells through incantations without the assistance of any magical items.
Prior to resorting to destructive magic, Ben often relied upon a silver tongue or emotional leverage over his adversaries, using his sharpened charisma and cunning to turn the tide, or disarm his opponents and win battles before they even began.
Benthamic was capable of dozens of obscure utility spells, but specialized in a select few which were most practical for the purposes of battle and transportation and most convenient to use with the staff.
- Magic Missile - A blast of pure magical energy. Usable at a long range and against multiple targets for more mana.
- Telekinesis - Manipulate the movement of solid matter to launch objects or living beings for more mana.
- Fireball - Launch a destructive fireball which incinerates weak to medium strength structures and burns enemies.
- Curse - Places a curse upon the target or targets, inducing nausea, paralysis, poison damage, blindness, and hallucinations dependent upon mana expended.
- Wither - Launch Wither skulls which explode on impact and cause damage over time to those in the area of effect, slowly draining health and ignoring armor values.
- Elemental Bending - Alter and manipulate non-earth states of matter, such as freezing water, igniting air to create fire, or glassing ice. May be used with telekinesis for combat.
- Thunderbolt - Launch a spark of lightning, shock multiple enemies, or call down a lightning strike depending on mana use.
- Blink - Instantly and silently teleport to a location within eyesight.
- Cloud Ride - Summon a personal cloud of air for prolonged levitation or limited flight.
- Mana Burn - Rapidly drain and steal a short-range target's health and mana.
- Necromancy - Invoke angry spirits or temporarily revive the dead for information or combat.
- Mind Thief - Attack the target's mind, stunning them or seizing control of their actions dependent upon a willpower check.
- Blood Magic - Rapidly drain and convert mana to HP.
- Walk in Shadow - Enter total invisibility and rapidily drain mana, ending the effect once mana reaches 0. Spell casting is silent but the effect ends prematurely upon successful spell cast. Caster becomes Fatigued for two minutes after the effect ends, preventing the spell from being used again and adding a -3 modifier to dexterity and strength checks until it wears off.
Powerful attacks which may be used for a significant pool of mana.
Create a volatile black hole that sucks in blocks and any vulnerable entities, causing massive damage over a significant area.
|Cull||Instantly execute the target after a long cast. Ignores any armor.|
|Comet||Detonate a massive explosion at the target area, shattering blocks and launching or disintegrating entities within the blast and creating an irradiating field for several minutes.|
|Quake||Create a fissure in the earth, collapsing structures and stumbling or burying entities in its destructive path.||Last Gasp||Rapidly drain all stats to 0 and grant 30 Constitution and 30 Dexterity for 10 seconds during combat. HP reduced by 50% and mana restored to 100% once the effect ends.|
Items & Artifacts
Weapons, trinkets, and various magical artifacts which aided in battle.
Benthamic's primary weapon of choice. Named for its previous owner, the legendary necromancer, this ancient staff of power was able to channel mojo of every type but specialized in the darkest juju, weaving together the blackest energies to cast destructive magic. It was powered by a central "black diamond" which took several seconds to shift between different schools of magic. +35% critical hit chance for black magic, -50% healing output, +30% damage output, +25% vulnerability to melee attacks, and +70% vulnerability to white magic while equipped. Weaves the Song of Shadows while in hand, weakening enemy resolve (-25% dodge and stun resist chance) bolstering allies (+25% crit chance). Grants Necromancy and Mind Thief.
|Orbalisk Armor||Used rarely in high-risk combat situations. The traditional armor of the Black Mage, Orbalisk Armor provided excellent protection against nearly all types of conventional damage and absorbed all but the most powerful magicks. However, prolonged use was extremely dangerous as its equipping extracted a heavy toll upon any wearer -- excruciating pain, which was channeled into an AoE "death aura." It also consumed a significant portion of the wearer's mana pool, limiting the amplifying effects of all other spells. -5 to Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma, +15 to Constitution, and -1 HP per second while equipped. 20% to deflect all damage types. Unbreakable.|
|Oathbreaker||Cast from the same black diamond as his dark staff, Benthamic sometimes relied upon the Oathbreaker arming sword as a backup weapon or utility. It used mana to retain its infamous sharpness even after prolonged periods of use and could be used for "shadow travel," an arcane technique which used darkness to travel huge distances at a time at an immense cost to the user's stamina. Once drawn, it was "honorbound," meaning it could not physically be sheathed until blood had been spilt on its edges. +5 to Dexterity and -5 to Wisdom while equipped. Restores durability on kill. Grants Shadow Step. Honorbound.|
Born some decades before the Terminus, Ben Holliday was the child of mercantile aristocrats from the Audaxian town of Valencia. In the era of his early childhood, Valencia was a booming town which reaped the rewards of a quickly expanding export economy in the region, though it had fallen prey to a voracious criminal underbelly largely ignored by the upper classes whom they compensated to turn the other way, making their own fortunes in the lucrative illicit shroom and harming potion trades. Many of the city's peasants were forced to fold to the racketeers or forced to work in the mines for a pittance.
Ben was left mostly to his own devices as a youngster due to his parents' occupations as traveling merchant barons and found the domestic lifestyle of his wealthy fellows quite dull despite his fondness for shiny things, and thus spent most of his days slumming it up in the lower levels of the city, vandalizing government and corporate buildings with ruffian gangs and thwarting the myrmidon royal guards. He delighted in petty thievery for years but grew disillusioned with the cartels in his late teenage years owing to their increasing predation upon working class merchants and vulnerable peasants.
He eventually became affiliated with the organization the Creepers, once a common street gang that had recently come to adopt a radical anarchist ideology which offered protection for the masses against both the ineffective government and the increasingly malicious cartels. Ben became influential in their massive network of terrorists, informants, and agitators, rising to the rank of Capo by the age of 23. He grew close with the gang's de-facto leader, Hasan Guerin, known as the criminal El Patron, as well as the Underboss Josef Furnace.
The Creepers grew more powerful as Ben ascended the ranks, graduating from underclass protection and petty thievery to full-scale assaults against corporate mercenary armies and their cartel collaborators. Though numerous and full of zip and spirit, they were woefully ill-equipped compared to their adversaries and severely lacking funding to secure alliances with potential allies. In response, the faction organized a heist against the Insalata Bank, the largest vault in the city purported to be filled to the brim with emeralds, gold, and most vitally, diamonds. The raid was spearheaded by Furnace but tactically masterminded by the ambitious Holliday, who devised the grand plan, organized the logistics, and arranged the extraction. The stunning victory earned the young Capo great favor with Guerin and brought the Creepers to international recognition, heightening public fear greatly.
Ben used a portion of his share of the wealth to purchase a collection of rare art and donated the rest to dozens of poor families as well as the armories of the gang. Though the Creepers were now thriving and a respected force to be reckoned with throughout the city, fears for a mass uprising of the peasant class of Valencia had run rampant, and the Emperor of Audax sent an international call to arms to squash the growing revolt in exchange for the selling of shares in the profits of its still steadily growing export industries. Many mercenary clans and monastic orders heeded the call, but none as noteworthy nor feared as the Knights Thash, who allied with the Luciano family cartel and the government to draw out and eliminate the Creeper threat.
The Creepers held fast for several months in the ensuing Valencian Revolution, which pitted a significant portion of the disorganized masses rallied around El Patron and his followers against the rising hordes of the Knights and their mercenaries. A season of violent industrial sabotage, turf wars, and further bank heists ensued, largely organized by Furnace and Holliday - known on the posters as the criminal masterminds Slappy and Lithium respectivey - while Guerin and his inner circle worked tirelessly to secure precious contacts elsewhere in the world.
The Creepers began a secret trade with the terrorist organization the Gleaming Road in the Far East, exchanging shiploads of diamonds, emeralds, shrooms, and potion supplies for a steady supply of TNT, fire charges, and enchanted iron armor and swords, difficult to come by in the largely mineral barren southern Audax. Though the material aid was hugely effective in sustaining the war effort, the Knights and their endless armies were endlessly well supplied and completely willing to execute a long war of attrition to starve the peasants out. When anarchist cells began looting homes and homeless shelters for bread and emeralds due to mass burnings and blightings of corporate crop fields, morale quickly began to shatter and leaders of the gang began to defect or disappear entirely.
With the faction on its last legs, Guerin called upon Lithium and Slappy to organize one last heist to cut the head off the snake by capturing the home of the city's Lord Protector and holding him for ransom. Though the odds were steep, the bosses agreed, and all three led a small army of insurrectionists to march down Adrian Street for one last gasp. They succeeded in taking the home due to a surprise assault led by Guerin aided by Slappy's distraction of mass arson in a nearby sector, sending the authorities scattering. They held the Protector hostage for several hours before Commander Triton of the Knights Thash invaded the compound and almost singlehandedly crushed the anarchists there, executing El Patron in combat and capturing Lithium and Slappy.
The Lord Protector lobbied for their swift execution, but Triton showed mercy, recognizing their at least partial honor-among-thieves as protectors of the oppressed as well as fearing that their guillotining would render them martyrs of the revolution, thereby stirring up even more riots. Thus, the two, alongside dozens of seasoned foot soldiers, spies, and agitators were exiled to the sea and warned never to return. After months of turbulent travel, the exiles eventually arrived at safe haven in Ertdor, seeking asylum with the Gleaming Road cells.
In exchange for refuge, Lithium came to support the cause of the Gleaming Road, aiding local Kokushi raids in peripheral villages and hamlets through military logistics, owing to his background as a notorious criminal mastermind. As Lieutenants in the infamous Thousand Sun Legion, Slappy and Lithium orchestrated a series of maraudings across Ertdor and Kilran, helping to instill fear at the sight of their disinctive color-streaked bone masks across the continent.
Eventually, Lithium was singled out by the Road's Supreme Leader, Kastor, the former right-hand of Herobrine who founded the organization to revive his fallen master. He was subjected to a serious of arduous trials which revealed his identity as among the Attuned, a dying population of Aquilans capable of harnessing a modicum of the power of the gods which manifested as magic. At the conclusion of his trials which culminated in a direct communion with the spirit of Herobrine, he was initiated into Zenith, the sorcerous wing of the Gleaming Road comprised of necromancers, seers, shamans, and other spellbinders who variously served as the shock troops of the Thousand Sun Legion and as ritualists devoted to helping Kastor execute his grand designs to revive Herobrine and conquer Aquila. He chose the path of the Black Mage, the most destructive class of warlock with unrivaled abilities to sow fear and chaos; taking the pseudonym Benthamic to shed his past, he nonetheless retained his idealism, indoctrinated by the Road's ideology which promised an Aquila without kings nor masters under the guidance of Herobrine.
With rare dual rank in both the militant Legion and the monastic Zenith, Benthamic held significant sway within the Gleaming Road, exerting great influence in the hierarchy but also garnering a small clique of enemies among his comrades, keeping him on his toes throughout his tenure. He continued to organize logistics for the army alongside Furnace to great effect but increasingly spent his days immersing himself in the dark arts within the Zenith stronghold in the Ertdorian crags, fostering his abilities to warp reality and commune with the dead by making pacts with dark spirits. He undertook a quest to the shrouded continent of Aphelion to locate the lost city of The Grotto, an ancient hub for Black Mages lost to the sands of time. There, he sought out the eccentric sorcerer Repelli del Toro and stole his ancient staff of forbidden power, the Shadowsong, outwitting him by turning him into a horse with his own weapon. Begrudgingly respecting his conqueror, he served as the young mage's loyal steed thereafter.
Benthamic returned to the continent a fully trained Black Mage, earning the esteemed rank of Adherent within Zenith and earning the favor of Supreme Leader Kastor. He was granted his own cell of lower wizards as well as command of his own Thousand Sun division, guiding the cult to a swath of victories across the mainland. Formerly a small-time criminal mastermind, he was now one of the architects of the rising shadow of the Gleaming Road which threatened to consume all of Ertdor and then the world. His plans filled the coffers of Road and emboldened the Kokushi raiders to strike as far as the stronghold of Krak in the Far West, which was a particularly devastating defeat for the growing coalition of feudal clans which opposed the growing threat of the cult.
International reaction to the Krak raid ranged from outrage to existential panic, but the world's governments were united in their call to arms against the ascendant terrorist state. Much like in Valencia, a plethora of mercenaries and soldiers from an array of countries arrived to oppose them, but instead of the Knights Thash, who were otherwise occupied due to supernatural events in the Occa region, the Templars, the ancient custodians of Krak, were the most noteworthy to rise to the challenge, particularly due to their purported adherence to the patronage of Notch, Herobrine's brother and sworn enemy across the centuries.
The Templars loosened their standards to recruit a multitude of capable warriors into their ranks - some of them career bounty hunters, some of them outlaws seeking refuge, some of them debtors duty-bound to service to the Order, and even a small enthusiastic crowd of adventurers simply seeking glory in aiding the defeat of the villainous Kokushi horde. This irregular force of soldiers loyal to the Templars were called the Outlanders by Ertdorian natives whom they'd purportedly come to liberate.
Meanwhile, in the secluded fortress of the Gleaming Road, Kastor began steps to enact his grand design for ultimate victory. He revealed to his inner circle - high ranking members of Zenith, the Legion generals, and the other remnants of Herobrine's advisors - that his plan to revive Herobrine and end the new war would entail a mass cleansing of the entire population of Aquila, with the sudden indiscrimate loss of life providing his death cult enough power to instantly revive the fallen celestial. Benthamic and several others privy to the plan were skeptical but continued the war effort nonetheless, beating back the disorganized armies raised to oppose them and continuing to gather the mountains of precious jewels required to power the Slip Device, the superweapon purported to have the power to unleash portions of the Nether dimension upon certain heavily populated regions of Aquila and instantly cause genocide on a scale hitherto undreamt of.
Though the Templars were numerous and competent, not unlike the Thash before, the Gleaming Road were able to rout their armies in nearly every theater of the war on a regular basis, and in the devastating Siege of Belila, the vast majority of the Outlander force were executed en masse and a few especially competent survivors captured and brought back to the mountains in Ertdor for interrogation and hopefully indoctrination into the Gleaming Road.
Four Outlanders were brought back to the base in Ertdor, under the presumably fake names of Cannonwalker, Zoomer, Sam Darkwalker, and Ned Edgewalker, and interrogated by Adherent Benthamic, architect of the victory at Belial. Though a ruthless and cruel interrogator, the Outlanders refused to divulge any information, either due to their stunning ability to resist his mental probes or a genuine ignorance of meaningful Templar activities in the region. Either way, the poor results prompted the mage to withdraw to his grotto to meditate for clairvoyance in the path forward. There, he received a vision from Herobrine's spirit, informing him that Kastor had deceived the Path into undergoing a ritual that would simply elevate himself into a being comparable to a god, not actually revive his old master. He urged the young mage to stop the ritual before the unnecessary slaughter began.
Benthamic acted quickly, deciding to free the Outlanders and recruit them as allies, as opponents to Kastor within the rest of the Road would be quite rare. The five of them worked together to destroy the Slip Device and destroy Kastor's supply of golden apples which kept him alive after centuries of life immersed in the dark arts. The Supreme Leader withered away, but not before giving the Outlanders a foreboding warning that they would meet their deaths at the hands of the "First Evil." The heroes fled Ertdor; remnants of the Gleaming Road persisted under the name of the Maximists, and Furnace, alongside several other officers within the Legion, disappeared into the shadows and re-emerged under new identities sailing towards the ruined and leaderless Templar base in Olexia.
While there was a certain mutual distrust between "Ben" and the Outlanders, they remained close allies and embarked upon a short marathon of heroic adventures together, exploring the dangerous lands of Sivistys, braving the shores of the Hinterlands, and even defeating the Jumbee Cabal somewhere in the Lost Passage. Eventually, however, Ben grew weary of life as a hero and parted ways with the Outlanders as friends, seeking spiritual enlightenment on the cursed island of Morstock.
On Morstock, Ben periodically communed with Herobrine and attempted to aid in a supposed resurrection event in Kilran, but was instructed to stay out of the conflict so as to prepare for the final deciding conflict. Scavenging the remains of the Gleaming Road base in Ertdor, still infested with hostile Maximist holdouts, Ben retrieved several components of the broken Slip Device and brought them back to Morstock for study. He devoted several years to the invention of a prototype Device which could theoretically be used on a small scale against a select group of targets, or perhaps even for purely benevolent purposes - manipulating ambient dark energy to cure diseases, create bountiful harvests, and even reverse the effects of the resurgent Zombie Plague.
Eventually, news broke out of a devastating new global conflict waged by the long-forgotten father of Notch and Herobrine, the Immortal Emperor, the Mad King, Makrozoia. Dubbed the Resurgent War, the deadly conflict pitted nations and various dark forces loyal to the Mad King against a scattered alliance of confederations who dared oppose his new global regime, mostly centered around the wealthy citystates in southern Sivistys. Ben intensified his work on the new Slip Device and eagerly awaited any sort of sign from his patron Herobrine.
Eventually, the sign came with the arrival of his old friends the Outlanders to Morstock in need of help to defeat the ancient threat. He offered up the Slip Device explaining that it may be able to defeat specific targets and not reap mass destruction indiscriminately, but they initially rejected the idea, stating that it should be a last resort and that reviving Notch and Herobrine to defeat their father would be their best chance. Though Ben was extremely reluctant to aid in the revival of Notch, he accepted the risk involved in resurrecting his patron god and agreed that only their combined power would be able to match the unprecedented strength of Makrozoia.
After a daring adventure to the End, where the spirits of celestials are imprisoned until they are able to become corporeal again, the old team were able to locate Notch and Herobrine and bring them back to the Overworld to defeat their deadly daddy. Though Ben was full of admiration for his idol, Herobrine was somewhat distant if acknowledging of the mage's power and appreciative of the devotion, to the sorcerer's slight dismay. Still, in the presence of his patron, Ben's power was quite heightened, and soon the Outlanders set off with their immortal allies leading the charge against Makrozoia's putsch in New Detroit.
The Alliance put up a strong defense against the overwhelming hordes of Xolumir until the Mad King himself arrived on the front line to lead the devastating charge which penetrated the outer walls of the fortress city. The ensuing battle was extremely harrowing and culminated with the activation of the Slip Device on an impulse by a panicked Ben, which ravaged the entire city, leaving only the Outlanders and some of their allies alive and allowing the Mad King and his armies to escape and regroup. Horrified at the slaughter he had committed, Ben fled and went into self-exile in the mage haven of Reunion.
A relatively small but bountiful island, Reunion was a few hundred kilometers off the coast of the Aphelion continent, marking it quite comfortably off the bounds of most any navigational chart in Aquila. Legends purported that the lost island was shrouded by a thick obfuscating fog six seasons out of every solar cycle and could only be located by those who already knew where it was; in truth, it was familiar to many intrepid sailors in the region as a minor trading port, but only those attuned to the Old Ways were able to decipher its true nature as a place of refuge for magi across the centuries.
Benthamic arrived upon the white shores of Reunion with only his suit, his staff, and a small satchel filled with half-empty healing vials and a few ingots. The natives gave him nectar and ambrosia and escorted him to the Temple of the Ascended, the island's center of magocratic government and home of the elusive Coven, the spiritual and political leaders of the paradise.
The Archmage, known only by the moniker Stormfather, was initially hesitant to welcome Ben into Reunion on account of his dark juju, but his opinion was overruled by the rest of the council who decided in his favor. Under the haven's protection, Benthamic worked for a few months as an enchanter for the battle mages' weapons and as a port clerk when necessary for his contribution to the commune, in exchange for housing and amenities. While there, he came to learn that the magi of Reunion were being trained to harness the Old Ways through internal spiritual enlightenment rather than pledging themselves to celestials in exchange for their power; as Benthamic's powers began to wane, likely as a result of Herobrine's apparent death in the climax of the Resurgent War, he turned to the Coven for guidance.
The path to spiritual enlightenment was a harrowing one, especially for Attuned individuals who formerly derived their power from pacts with deities - a practice called Theurgy. However, Ben proved willing and eager to learn the ways of the Coven and conjure mojo in his own right through a combination of the empowerment of the self and drawing Quintessence directly from the land. The first and arguably most vital component of his quest entailed the renouncing of his blood pact with Herobrine, a practice which usually resulted in the spiritual death of the renouncer. He embarked upon a pilgrimage to the nearby desert island of Aseem Niraasha, a desolate realm said to be the site of a long-lost sacrificial temple to the "Fallen Star."
He trekked through the foreboding desiccation for three days with no food nor water, encountering visions of the dead Outlanders, a wrathful Herobrine, and even briefly gazing into the eyes of the Nameless One before emerging triumphant on the outer edge of the island, where supplies and an envoy awaited him. When Ben returned to Reunion unscathed, Stormfather inducted him into the Coven as a Supplicant and gave him the honorific cognomen Oathbreaker for his successful renouncing of Herobrine.
With his oath to Herobrine broken, Benthamic was free at last to pursue the Old Ways without inhibition, though it took him many months to recuperate from the sudden resetting of his mana. Elsewhere in the world, order had all but broken down; Notch, Herobrine, and their resurgent father had all disappeared along with the Outlanders, leaving a massive power vacuum across Aquila as nearly every major nation had been absolutely devastated by the War apart from the Audax Confederation and the Kingdom of Medriaas. Ben and the Coven were mostly unfazed by these developments, content to stay secluded in Reunion and continue practicing their mojo. The chaos of the outside world eventually reached them, however.
With Medriaas left as the single greatest military and economic force in Aquila, their King had become increasingly bold on the world stage, and kept a very loose leash on his monastic order, the Knights Thash, allowing them to pillage and colonize as they pleased so long as it benefited the ascendant Kingdom. They had been in seclusion for several years after their crushing of the Uprising in Valencia preparing for a great calling, which had apparently come with the sudden conclusion of the Resurgent War. Lead by their infallible Commander Triton, the Order had begun to ruthlessly hunt down and exterminate any followers of the Old Ways they could find, and the rape of Reunion was their endgame. News quickly reached the High Council of the systematic disappearance of their contacts on the mainland.
Stormfather evoked an ancient concordance in the Coven's laws which allowed to him to unilaterally mobilize the forces of the haven and declare a Holy War to defend themselves against the encroaching crusaders. The resulting conflict was informally called the Secret War, as its true nature and even combatants were never revealed to the outer world. Called to return from weeks of intense meditation and vision quests on the Dark Continent, Benthamic, the Oathbreaker, returned to Reunion as a Master of the Order, just below the High Council in the meritocratic hierarchy. He was immediately dispatched to the frontlines in Occa to lead the counterattack against Medriaas whilst the Elders protected Reunion, relishing in the ensuing campaign of total war which evoked memories of his rampage at the helm of the Gleaming Road. Leading a small army of adept battle mages, he razed village after village and destroyed dozens of temples to Lady Thash in retaliation for their years of suppression of the Old Ways, declaring himself more powerful than Herobrine could have ever dreamed.
Just before reaching the marble gates of Providence, however, the Oathbreaker was unexpectedly recalled to Reunion; he ignored the order for several days, pushing closer to the head of the snake, until the royal defense force finally put up an impenetrable wall of defense-in-depth which halted any further advances. Defeated, he led his mages back to the haven and found it in ruins, with the bodies of the High Council, excluding Archmage Stormfather, prominently displayed in humiliating effigies over the city. Within the Temple of the Sky, Benthamic discovered a hidden message from the Archmage which chastized him for his arrogance but urged him to travel to the Dark Continent to uncover a chance at vengeance for the slaughter of Reunion. He prepared to embark immediately, swearing for revenge against the Knights alongside the vast majority of his adepts; the rest remained on Reunion in hopes of one day restoring it to prominence as a place of refuge for the displaced of all cultures. He wished them good juju and set course for Aphelion.
Arriving at the Dark Continent, the Master and his force immediately sensed an overwhelming dark juju - the darkest juju - the likes of which they had never encountered. Seemingly, the entire continent had been overrun by Endermen, a strange race of alien creatures who were only seen in passing, and extremely rarely at that. The detachment followed the source of the mojo to what they had deduced to be the center of the continent, a lifeless stretch of ash and decayed matter called Merth Docto. They quickly located what appeared to be a fissure through the world that cut directly into the black and infinite expanse of the Void itself. The fissure called to them telepathically, whispering dark secrets and promising vengeance against the Defilers. Though hesitant, the Oathbreaker eventually decided to accept the Void's offer and led the mages in a ritual to unleash the chthonic power within. At the conclusion of the rite, the Endermen howled in a terrible chorus of rejoice, and rays of magenta energy escaped from the fissure into the night sky. The aliens warped away in droves and suddenly there was overbearing silence, leaving the mages to ponder what they had just awoken.
Whilst Benthamic and his adepts remained in the nascent port town of Dreiton for several months awaiting for further signs, news eventually reached them that the Outlanders had returned from their hiatus, Providence had been destroyed, and Triton was presumed dead. Most of Aquila quietly celebrated the final defeat of the unchecked authority of the Knights and their puppet king in Medriaas, but with yet another imperial power utterly destroyed, chaos reigned across the land once more. The Outlanders once again seemed to retreat into obscurity, and several flashpoints of conflict between the various splintered nations of Aquila broke out, particularly in Audax. To make matters worse, while the mortal countries were distracted with their petty squabbles over land, Endermen were now raging free across the countryside, appearing suddenly and literally tearing entire settlements apart in moments and then disappearing in the blink of an eye.
Their attacks were seemingly random and usually had minimal casualties - they would simply rip vast tracts of land apart and then disappear with the evidence. The economic effects were devastating, and they were no longer afraid to strike during the day. Fearing that he had somehow precipitated the alien invasion, Benthamic set about finding some way to defend Aquila against the Endermen; he was alone, as all of his adepts had abandoned him and returned to Reunion to help rebuild the settlement.
Ben made something of a name for himself as a hero once he began to discover that the patterns of alien attacks were not random after all, and tended to happen either simultaneously with national conflicts nearby while mortal forces were distracted or in the villages most affected by the pervasive crop blights spurred on by the new age of chemical warfare. Most still held bitter memories of the destruction he sowed during the era of the Kokushi raids, however, and ignored his warnings. Instead, most of Aquila turned their interest towards the newly constitued Union of Audax, where a local despot wielding the lost sword of the Mad King, the Invidere, and claiming to be the rightful Grandmaster of the Templars had apparently united the entire continent under a technocratic oligarchy through a combination of the brute force inflicted by his golems and marshals, and considerable corporate pressure on the lower municipalities. He called himself Clockwork, and promised the world a weapon which would permanently repel the Enderman threat.
Clockwork also sent out a rallying call to every member of the Knights Templar, including those who had splintered off during the Great Templar Diaspora and even extending invitations of membership to their now-scattered former enemies, the Knights Thash, promising to let byegones be byegones. Benthamic was deeply suspicious of Clockwork, partly due to his status as Grandmaster-apparent of the Templars, whom he'd frequently come into conflict with during his travels, and partly due to his promise of some secret weapon to destroy the increasingly bold Endermen. He continued to operate independently against the aliens until he heard of unrest in his birthplace of Valencia, the capital of the new Union of Audax.
Clockwork, true name Josef Furnace, had been slain by the Outlanders, one of whom had been part of the Templar Diaspora, and the Invidere had been lost. Furnace's purported inventions were actually the work of a mysterious inventor from Khotan by the name of Orban, and his grand superweapon, powered by the Invidere's quintessential energy, was in truth a massive radio tower constructed from arcane artifacts of a civilization from the Before Time which the inventor thought would be able to pacify the aliens with its powerful telepathic waves; instead, the signals had simply enraged the Endermen across Aquila and sent reverberating waves of dark energy throughout the universe, allowing their master, Moros, to finally manifest its conscious after being shaken from its slumber at Merth Docto.
Moros revealed its identity as the father of the gods and creator of the Aether, his perfect original world which comprised all existence in the Before Time, which was eventually torn apart by his jealous children and spread unequally across the entire universe, creating the countless realms known today governed by the many gods. He announced his intention to rebuild the Aether paradise and use the Outlanders as his champions, praising them for their elimination of three of his most dangerous children - the greatest challenges to his conquest of the universe.
Benthamic rendezvouzed with his old friends, the Outlanders, in Valencia as quick as he could manage, and confessed his involvement in the coming disaster but vowed to atone for every mistake he'd made, regretting the chaos he had reaped across the world throughout his life. With no other allies, the Outlanders hesitantly accepted his offer and welcomed him back into the fold, but did not accept his apology for the slaughter at New Detroit, his ritual at Merth Docto, nor any of the other countless sins he had facilitated. The Outlanders revealed Triton's last words to them before they escaped Urghast after the final defeat of Makrozoia - to seek Hesperides. Ben initially refused, informing them of Triton's true genocidal nature, but finally relented after realizing there were no other options.
The mage brought the Outlanders to Reunion to seek information on the lost land of Hesperides. He was welcomed back by the new egalitarian coven led by Archmage Lifeweaver, who aided them in consulting the ancient astrological charts of Aquila for the strange land. A small island several thousand miles off the western coast of Elitia was marked as Hesperides, AKA the "Point of No Return." The Outlanders thanked Lifeweaver for the assistance, and asked for help defeating Moros in the final battle for the fate of the universe, to which the Archmage offered no definite answer.
Seeking answers, the Outlanders traveled by Hesperides to the lost land of Hesperides, a beautiful grove thriving with strange life forms and a notable absence of the increasingly militant Endermen. There, they discovered an old man who called himself Wisdom, but offered "Gamma" as another acceptable moniker. Gamma explained that he was the "First Son" of Coda - the true name of Moros erased by his celestial children, the gods - the initial offspring that he sculpted with his own hands out of Quintessence after falling in love with Thash - whom he'd created as a wife after growing bored of ruling and living alone in the Aether. He confirmed Moros' account that the celestials had destroyed the Aether out of a lust for power - but only after Thash gifted him his Heart, the source of his creative power, out of pity. Coda had been banished to the outskirts of the universe, watching hopelessly as his own children ripped apart his greatest creation.
Thash had fled to Aquila and hidden the Heart somewhere in the Nether, with its location lost forever once she refused to reveal it to Moros' spirit, resulting in him using nearly all of his power to imprison her in a black hole in the center of the universe. In response, the fanatical Knights Thash, devoted to the slain Titaness, worked with Gamma to seal the Demon God Moros under Merth Docto, a seal broken by Benthamic and his cult.
Gamma explained that Moros could not be tricked into being sealed again, and that their only hope was to locate the Heart and return it to the vengeful Coda to restore his compassion. Though discovering the Heart would be difficult, Gamma believed that he had the solution - he had nursed Triton back to health after he returned to Aquila from Urghast. Ben nearly slew Triton out of vengeance, but the fallen Knight revealed that he was their ally; Triton had spent his centuries-long existence traveling from world to world across the universe slaying every god he could find in vengeance for Thash's death, believing all of the celestials to be servants of the Demon God. He had done so by discovering the secret of Nether travel, using a system of astrolabes from the Nether fortresses constructed by the gods to connect their world millennia in the past to travel from realm to realm. Triton initially believed he could draw out Moros in his travels, but returned to Aquila in defeat to prepare for his inevitable return, hunting down those whom he'd believed to be the Demon God's cultist devotees, the magi, only now realizing his grave errors. Nonetheless, like Ben, he sought to atone for his mistakes, and joined the Outlanders in their daunting quest into the Nether while Gamma remained in the overworld for preparations.
Leading the party through the fortress system, Triton went in the direction in which no astrolabes pointed, reasoning that the gods would hide the Heart as far away from their realms as possible in the furthest depths of the Nether. Using a system of portals which took them across dozens of worlds, the Outlanders were able to travel millions of lightyears in mere hours in a jumbled line which brought them to all corners of spacetime. After passing through a world guarded by a disgusting spirit named Ted, they finally arrived at the exact astronomical center of the Nether, which was shockingly overgrown with life, filled with vines, trees, and alien creatures made of rock. At the center, they finally found the Heart, a glimmering tesseract that hummed the Song of Creation, ambiently creating life in its vicinity over the millennia.
Carefully, they extracted it from the Eternal Flame which surrounded it - causing the overgrowth in the area to immediately disintegrate into ash and revealing its slumbering guardian - Avus, father of Makrozoia and grandfather of Notch and Herobrine - banished to protect the Heart after betraying his brothers. Driven insane by the isolation and the allure of the Heart whose flame kept any celestials from removing it, Avus attacked them, but his divine powers had been sapped over the years by the all-consuming Nether, allowing Triton to slay the titan with his enchanted blade.
The Outlanders made the perilous journey back, arriving at Hesperides to an army of mortals who had paused their wars of succession to join arms and drive back the Ender hordes, many of them veterans from the Battle of New Detroit who survived the activation of the Slip Device. Gamma explained that he had used the last of his power to travel to each continent and convince the strongest of each nation's warriors to join in the deciding battle against Moros - which was to happen in Hesperides, using the Heart's familiar power to lure the Demon God in. The last of the warriors arrived over the next few hours, and for the first time in centuries, the forces of Aquila were united as brothers and sisters against a common foe. The Alliance stood ready for the arrival of the hordes, among them old friends of the Outlanders such as Jeremiah Garland, Baron von Shush, Andrew Mallace, and even Davy Gunfish.
Finally, as night fell, the armies of Moros arrived en masse via airship, powered by magenta beacons which emanated into the sky for quintessence-powered flight. Leading the flotilla was Moros' nameless flagship which dwarved all of the supporting attack vessels. Before attacking, Moros, now in a terrifying physical form, offered the Alliance a chance to surrender in exchange for being spared in the Great Rebuilding of the Aether to a defiant decline. The assault began and the massive fleet began firing mercilessly upon the ground forces to soften them ahead of the invasion.
The Alliance held steady, and Benthamic, aided by the magi of Reunion, effectively shielded the mortals against the artillery fire. Finally, Endermen began warping down in droves, appearing out of thin air, grabbing one or two fighters, and then disappearing again. The cavalary forces led by Ned Edgewalker quickly acclamated and locked down the battleground, striking down the warpers as soon as they appeared. The Endermen changed their strategy and began to charge in massive swarms towards the Alliance encampments, but they were thwarted by the impenetrable archery lines set up by Garland and Sam Darkwalker. Finally, the invaders sent down massive mutated Ender-beasts which tore through the mortal perimeters, but Cannonwalker, having overcome his fear of Endermen, led a counterassault with Triton whilst Zoomer and his assassins attacked from the flank, routing the beasts.
Moros eventually arrived and led a devastating charge completely alone, ripping through entire armies like a scythe through withered wheat and even shrugging off Benthamic's powerful Cull spell. With the Alliance on the verge of surrender, Cannonwalker presented the Heart to Moros, who held it in his hands for a few moments before crushing it in his iron grip. Laughing callously, Moros thanked Triton for executing his task faithfully, revealing that he had created the crusader himself as the perfect instrument to unwittingly hunt down the gods of each realm and remove all barriers to his ascendance, then evaporated him with a wither skull. Thanking the Outlanders for bringing their last hope at victory directly to him and saving him the hassle, Moros struck the Alliance fort with a devastating thunderbolt and then withdrew from Hesperides with his fleet.
With the hopes of restoring Moros' compassion dashed and the armies routed, the Alliance abruptly fell apart, with its bitter constituents returning home and preparing for the worst. A badly injured Gamma with no celestial power remaining decided that their only hope was to go directly to Moros' domain and free their only remaining ally from her ancient prison - Thash.
The battered Outlanders made the arduous trek to Merth Docto on the Dark Continent of Aphelion amidst rumors that all of Aquila - and likely many other worlds simultaneously as Moros grew in power - was rapidly being torn apart by swarms of millions of Endermen accompanied by terrifying Wither Storms who consumed vast swaths of landscape wherever they traveled. With time running out to save existence, the Outlanders and Gamma finally arrived at Merth Docto and leapt into the Void fissure, arriving in the End, which had been transformed from a broken mass of stone islands into a jumbled mess of landscape from every biome, with Endermen arriving at every instant from massive portals and randomly placing blocks of terrain from every world across the universe as they systematically tore existence apart to start from scratch again.
Ignored by the Endermen, the heroes traveled to the center of the Aether and discovered the black hole prison which contained Thash. Using the last of his celestial quintessence, Gamma sacrificed himself and used his life force to force the prison open, revealing an exhausted Thash who'd been tortured for centuries to relive her last moments for eternity. Unresponsive, Thash begged for death to the Outlanders until Moros arrived upon sensing that his domain had been defiled. He prepared to devour them all, but upon seeing his first love in excruciating agony - his own perfect creation created with the hands of the sculptor, he was filled with regret and felt a terrifying ache where his heart once was.
Upon seeing her love, Thash begged Coda for forgiveness, and to show mercy to his treacherous children, for they knew not what they had done. While his Heart had been permanently destroyed, Coda recognized that his love for Thash was eternal, and, tempered by her immortal capacity for kindness, relented his omnicide and embraced his wife - his true heart and soul. Coda expressed his regret for the sorrow he had inflicted upon existence, but declared that he would only live for Thash henceforth; he informed the Outlanders that he was no longer a creator nor father, and the the gods were no longer the caretakers of existence - that was the responsibility of the mortals. He returned the Outlanders to a broken but optimistic Aquila which had already begun rebuilding from the devastation.
Though the campaign to defeat Coda had resulted in the deaths of thousands and shattered nearly every population center, the destruction taught the world that their petty squabbles had only brought them pain when unity and brotherhood were needed most, and national borders quickly began to break down. The Alliance gathered once more in Apollyon with the Outlanders present, where Ben Holliday gave an impassioned speech asking the people of Aquila for unity. There, a series of treaties were signed which laid the groundwork for the eventual creation of the united Aquilan Republic, colloquially named Nova Aquila.
Holliday was welcomed back into the Outlanders, all of whom were offered leadership roles within the Republic but declined. With the greatest threat to the universe neutralized and perhaps even made an ally, the Outlanders decided to withdraw from the charted world and set sail for Aphelion, seeking adventure and mapping out what was once the Dark Continent. Ben remained close with the nearby Reunion coven, helping further in its rebuilding and seeking to put his nefarious past behind him.