Alas, it's not over yet!
Coda: The Inner Circle
To be soul-bound to Ominous Rex is synonymous with joining his inner circle. It is to tie yourself to the apogee of sorcery that is the Warlock-King, creating a channel that allows his personal power to flow to you and yours to him, the contrasting natures of the master and the supplicant commingling into both. However, this potent ritual was never designed to create an equal relationship. It is not through Ominous Rex's sheer strength of spirit that grants him sovereignty over your deepest self, for in truth he is not so superior to his most immediate lieutenants in some such aspects. However, it was in Ominous Rex's twisted genius to write something of his own desperate, trapped nature into the effects of the bond so that it sinks deeply its talons of irreversible flaw, barbs settling deeper at every exertion. It is to place yourself beyond any possibility of rebellion regardless of your might or wisdom, and it is not an honor he lightly grants. His original inner circle was bound to him to ensure their silence in the face of Atlantis' scrutiny and to allow them to assist in casting his titanic ritual of sacrifice. Their diversity is no accident; each represented a race or people subject to Ominous Rex so together they cast the spell as the Omin Empire in miniature, a vital component of its sympathetic nature. Each of them was hand-picked and personally mentored by Ominous Rex to be equal to their role, so in addition to their innate abilities each was one of the most skilled sorcerors within the Omin empire, a single step below Ominous Rex himself. Each of them was present in the ritual chamber of the Ominous Gard of old as the Omin Empire died. Each of them died as the final agony of millions overwhelmed them. It is only through the soul-bond that Ominous Rex was able to recall their spirits from the infinite depths of the Abyss and quicken them to his service once more. Through this trial the connection between master and servant has been further tempered by the Deepest Law, stronger and more subtle than ever before. You are not one of them. You know their names, though you do not know how:
Quys Il Zanna, the Silver Mirror, The Presider Upon the Tower was among the first of the Warlock-King's agents to depart from Ominous Gard and she has not returned since. Much of her tale is either already known or will be chronicled elsewhere, so it will not be recounted here. After Ominous Rex reunited her bound soul with her cold body and restored her to life, he sent her out into the world with her true skills and memories curtailed, allowing only her innate talent and a few subconscious urges to guide her in the mission she was given. She was to acquaint herself with the strange new magics of the modern world and master those she found useful, allowing Ominous Rex to partake in the same knowledge through their soul-bond. The Warlock-King trusted Il Zanna to best accomplish this through the same natural canniness that propelled her up the ranks of Atlantis and to his own side, working her way up the social ladder which inevitably existed in the unfamiliar new world to seek the best view of it. When the time is right, Il Zanna would exploit whichever high position she has achieved to facilitate Ominous Rex's return. That Il Zanna would earn the good graces of an organization which not only compiled and refined centuries of arcane learning but was also a foremost defender of the world was well beyond Ominous Rex's expectations. However, the heavy scrutiny upon her has also made it increasingly difficult for Ominous Rex to activate her tethers and commune with her true identity, and he worries that her cover identity may grow increasingly adrift from her nefarious purpose. Neither did he expect her to conceive a daughter, the first Atlantean-blood born on earth in countless millennia.
Bemerul the Hunter, the Tide That Turned, the Beast and its Wake was a vast and formless titan of aquatic suggestion, and its kin once warred with mighty Atlantis over the sovereignty of the nine seas. It was the effort of generations of Atlantean warrior-mages to subdue the leviathans and trap them in the shallow Mediterranean, erecting great wards at the Gates of Gibraltar to prevent their escape. This was another accomplishment writ in the golden age of Atlantis, and like all such legends the Atlanteans of latter ages relegated it to a footnote in the chronicles of their ancestors. Inspecting the condition of the ancient wards was a task which the Silver Pyramid thought nothing of delegating to Ominous Rex, a handy man of reasonable proximity who was deemed to possess the necessary minimum in magical competence for the task. Biting his tongue, Ominous Rex went south and saw that the rumored wards were in a state of advanced disrepair. A flash of insight linked their fraying geomancies to the unnatural storms and tsunamis plaguing his new domains in the south, the spirits of Bemerul's kin slowly and inexorably loosening their bonds.
Roused by knowledge of a potential ally, the Warlock-King launched an expedition beneath the vastness of the Mediterranean to secure their allegiance. There, he discovered the fitful forms of the leviathans lurking half-material in the shoals of the spirit world, shackled with mighty enchantments of sleep. Communing with the leviathans in their cold, primordial dreams, Ominous Rex also discovered that even in their need their immense self-absorption did not let them humor meddling outsiders, and he was rebuffed with crushing currents of reflexive vitriol. After days of delvings and recuperation, in an occluded valley of ghostly coral, Ominous Rex managed to make itself aware Bemerul, the wisest and strongest among its surviving kind and whose thirst for vengeance was enough to overcome its oceanic pride. The two communicated in a fashion and came to an agreement – Ominous Rex would free its kin from imprisonment, and Bemerul would lead its kin to assist his overthrow of Atlantis. Honoring his side of the bargain, Ominous Rex was also doubly eager to test his skill against Atlantis' past works; successfully he engineered a subtle failure in the Gibraltar wards over the next decade and blandly reported their long-foreseen decay and collapse to a bemused Atlantean audience.
The leviathans, once free, did not act as predictably. Some immediately bolted to strange seas beyond Ominous Rex's knowing, while others charged clamoring for vengeance and were repulsed by the skyship fleets of the Atlantean Navy. Upon his own skychariot, Ominous Rex tracked down Bemerul and demanded that it honor their pact, but Bemerul blithely answered that the spirit of its kind was such a vast and ferocious thing that it was simply their nature to act as the waves drove them. Even if it had willingly swore an oath, it would never be able to follow it with its whole heart. What were the obligations of mortal man to the grandness of a leviathan other than flotsam, to be dashed to pieces tomorrow or to resurface centuries hence? Ominous Rex retorted that such a condition could be remedied if he were to bind its soul to his own with an oath of most potent sorcery. Bemerul laughed and unfolded its soul before the Warlock-King, an endless abyss of reefs and waves and strange shimmering schools, and said he was welcome to try. Without hesitation, Ominous Rex conjured into his hand a chain fit to moor a skygalleon and dove into Bemerul's inner world, the speck of his form lost in an instant. The creature moved on, idly looking forward to the burst tatters of the mortal adding color to its choir of thoughts when they resurface, but Ominous Rex was far from finished. He drew his chain inexorably into the depths of Bemerul's soul, his surroundings growing blacker and more crushing but never succeeding in slowing his momentum. He fended off waves of desultory predators which grew more determined and more numerous and which eventually metastasized into swarms of nightmarish things formed of realized panic. He navigated sargasso mazes of ancient memories and battered down coral walls of unthinking self-reliance. By the time Ominous Rex found the lightless bottom of the spirit-ocean, nothing more opposed him from plunging the end of the chain into the abyssal murk, and Bemerul was bound by every fiber of its being.
The leviathan initially found its sudden single-minded need to please quite novel as it was compelled by its new master to hunt down its remaining kin. For all its ages of existence Bemerul could not remember a time where all its vast, indolent power was so focused on any single purpose or by any single thing. The euphoric rush of its disparate currents of thought and multifarious psycho-fauna uniting into a sleek torrent of decisiveness transformed Bemerul, rendering it a maniac by the standards of its kind. However, the very same derangement also made Bemerul more than a match for any of its kin as it followed their secret paths and confronted them in storm and fang, for struggle as they did no leviathan possessed the same unnatural compulsion to fight with all its might. To ensure their secure capture, Bemerul even swallowed each of its battered quarry whole and imprisoned them within its spiritual belly before disgorging them to the tender mercies of Ominous Rex and his sorcerors, who were ready with their reverse-engineered wards. Thus, the Warlock-King was able to claim the accomplishment of taming the leviathan-brood that once troubled Atlantis, and the Knightly Ladder and the Silver Pyramid were able to consider the matter resolved. Seeing its kin imprisoned once more, Bemerul asked Ominous Rex why he made his pact if if not to make use of the strength of its kind. Ominous Rex answered that it was not the strength of the leviathans that he needed, but rather another quality of theirs.
As the mightiest of its kind and already soul-bound to Ominous Rex by expedience, Bemerul found its purpose as a vital pawn to its master's vast unfolding plot. While its kin were relegated as watchdogs to the waterways of the expanding Omin Empire and gradually fattened on souls and magic, the monster was gifted with a selection of magecraft most suited to its nature and given free reign over the breadth of the oceans. It swam and hunted and evolved as it was never able to in its millennia of imprisonment and even in the countless eons of freedom before that, its destiny now guided by a darker and more forceful will. With its new magics Bemerul even learned to sniff out secret doorways to realms beyond the bounds of the world and force its way through them, toppling mirror cities and scattering demons by the legion and always exulting in finding new challenges to pit itself against, such that it did not grudge overmuch the obligation to return inevitably to Ominous Gard to report the findings of its journeys and disgorge exotic specimens. As such, Bemerul rose in name and stature within the peculiar ways of Ominous Rex's circles, and across the Age of the Omin did it gather the sorcerous skill necessary to aid the Warlock-King in his greatest work, true to its long-promised word.
In the great ritual to slay Atlantis Bemerul contributed the power to contain – to open wide its oceanic depths of being to capture the rendered lifeforce of the Warlock-King's subjects, while serving as ritual master to its lesser kin stationed in the fortress-cities just as Ominous Rex was ritual master to his inner circle. Perhaps for all its efforts the great leviathan failed to guard its own soul as closely as it did the bounteous hecatomb that rushed forth from the slaughtered cities, because for all its might it was not spared the effects of the unimaginable arcane backlash that slew it and cast its master screaming from the world. Frozen and scattered irretrievably to the infinite Abyss save for its soul-bond, Bemerul's being had nevertheless shattered into fragments by the time Ominous Rex regained enough strength to recall the leviathan. It took more of the Warlock-King's strength to knit the creature's spirit back together and he had none left to do the same for Bemerul's equally massive body as he busied with the reconstruction of his realm. Instead, he guided Bemerul's spirit towards the frozen nebulae of mana trapped within the ruins of Ominous Gard and bade it to swim, so the vigor of its motions would thaw the geomantic potential of the ley and quicken it into circulation once more. To exert itself against such meager currents was beyond what the leviathan had given its word for and a joyless task besides, but Bemerul no longer possessed the capacity for disobedience and went upon it until Ominous Gard took its first breath and became the small and cold imitation of the world it once was. Satisfied, Ominous Rex turned to other concerns and left the ghostly leviathan to its own devices. However even as Bemerul fretted in unaccustomed idleness and restraint, the Warlock-King promised that he will find another duty for it yet.
The Dreamlands of old was known to Ominous Rex, a trackless realm that brushed against the material world in countless places, yet perpetually perilous and untamed in its antediluvian splendor. As Ominous Gard drew its own connections with the world, the Warlock-King grew confident that he could use the Dreamlands not only as a well-hidden staging ground for invasion but also as a fantastic recruiting ground to replenish his ranks. In an uncharacteristically risky and involved quest, Ominous Rex and his savants divined a favorable conjugation of dimensions so that his lieutenants could misdirect and impersonate the gatekeepers of Light Sleep at the right moment to create an uninterrupted passage from Ominous Gard to the Dreamlands. The spirit of Bemerul, the Warlock-King's chosen general for this task, was thus rushed past the boundaries of three worlds, erupting into the weird landscape of the Old Ones' slumber like a newborn sea.
The ancient leviathan was told that it was free to test its strength against all that it beheld and to proclaim its dominion over all that it wished; as long as it kept in its heart of hearts the knowledge that it was under the dominion of another, and that it heeded its master's orders in absolute secrecy. Save for these niggling conditions, Bemerul exulted in its new world: any place was preferable to the timeless torment of the Abyss, but in the Dreamlands it had found the perfect arena. As the leviathan's unclothed spirit soaked into its location of arrival, beaching unfortunate fauna and admixing with the strange energies of the dimension, it found a new awareness over all that it touched – the monstrous creatures, the alien flora, the land itself – a clamour of voices not unlike that of its solipsistic psychoscape. However unlike the catharic storms and the gratifying echoes of its soul-ocean, these voices were real and backed by the discordant wills of myriad minds, threatening to overbear Bemerul's own identity. But Bemerul had learned well from its master and pressed its own will against them, summoning its own inner creatures to subdue these new presences. For days the boundary between the mental and the spiritual blurred around the epicenter of the leviathan's arrival, as monster battled monster in a thousand coliseums real and imaginary. Some combatants furiously wrestled empty air as their opponent made counter-moves in their minds, others found themselves contending with furious apparitions of mist. Towns and travelers vanished or were mysteriously displaced across terrain and emerged drowned and waterlogged, while storms danced over clear skies and floods flashed over dry land. When the furious spectacle finally abated, it was replaced with the peace of an exhausted but triumphant Bemerul marveling at its first conquest, a bedraggled selection of Dreamlands denizens abasing themselves before an unseen godhead.
It was then that Bemerul's thirst for domination was fully awakened, and it gleefully set about using its newfound subjects as vessels for its spirit to expand its influence. Armies of invisible demons or blank-eyed monsters would descend upon towns and groves, driving before them mysterious tempests and plagues; dementia would grip whole populations and neighbor would tear apart neighbor as if seized by unbidden passions; trickles of women and children would steal away in the night under some silent summons, joining a vast and swelling army warping the landscape with their very passage, requiring no provender but emotion. At times the congregation would work itself into grand and intricate passion plays or orgies of bloodletting until the sky moves and the mountains sway, and the boundary between the spirit of Bemerul and the physicality of the Dreamlands would grows thin enough for the leviathan itself to step through in new and resplendent forms, inspiring its hosts to even greater heights of ecstasy.
It was not unlike Ominous Rex's own ascent in his own savage era and there is no telling if something of his nature had tainted the leviathan, but the latter's progress was far less restrained and far more indulgent of its own unbridled desires; unlike its master, Bemerul is no patient empire-builder. Eschewing the petty concerns of morale or consolidation, it moved as a force of nature across the very fabric of the Dreamlands itself and whatever of its host could follow did so, drawn inexorably onwards by the gravity of its power. However, those who sought to obstruct its passage find themselves facing a nigh-unstoppable army of mind made flesh, warped creatures captained by titanic archetypes and godlike aspects channeling great sorceries with their collective strength. Woe if Bemerul itself deigns to join the battle, melding all its followers into an avatar-beast of mindbending proportions that dissolves the very ground beneath it into primordial ocean!
The name of Bemerul is slowly leaving the wild places of the Dreamlands as it has had its fill of taming witless monsters. The innumerable new voices Bemerul had added to its soul-ocean had acclimatized it to the Dreamlands and its secret lore, and now it hungers for more even as it struggles to hold true to Ominous Rex's orders in its innermost citadel. To signify the next stage of its ambitions, it has crowned itself Hunter, a taboo title that civilized inhabitants of the Dreamlands hold in particular awe and dread. The kingdoms of the West and South are reacting with alarm to the news filtering through the natural hazards and animosities of the dimension, and even in the waking world increasing numbers of Dreamers are returning fevered or afflicted or not at all. Worse still, the ripples of the leviathan's rampage have reached Earth itself as free-willed monsters seek escape to a safer world through the Crosspoints that would accommodate them.