AN: helloooo everyone!

So I've had this side story cooking in my mind for a while. I kinda wanted to connect a few missing dots that take place between some points in the Darksiders storyline, seeing as how DS has been put into indefinite standby when THQ went bye-bye. Still hoping that we will get a DS3 sometime, hopefully with the original team behind the first two games.

That aside, I felt that there were a few gaps left. Such as, for example, how Death went from semi-cold hearted bastard that was actually worried about the younger riders to full out 'I'll storm the White City if it means saving my brother'. Sure there were probably millions of years between the events from the Abomination Vault and where DS kicked off, but still! So eventually, after playing around and fiddling with my DS crossover story I got to thinking that I needed more backstory on all of the riders. I mean really, we know next to nothing about Strife and Fury. A lot of tinkering later, this is the result. *big evil grin* (Oiii Aslynn, remember that prequel I was hinting at? Ya? Well here's the first one *wink* )

This story takes place between what happened in the Abomination Vault book and long before the Endwar starts. I plan to include all four of the riders at some point, but for now I'll be focusing more on Death and Strife at the start. There will be some OCs thrown in to get the story moving a long, but nothing more. Other than that, I'll be taking a lot of liberty in some of the loopholes hinted at during Death's travels over four realms during DS2 (actually six if you count the Crowfather's little hideout and Earth…) where they mention there being hundreds if not thousands of other realms out there, all connected to the World Tree. Not to mention, that heaven, hell and earth are not the only players in the whole of Creation. Heck, the book did mention there being a whole group of 'Old Ones' (from which the Makers splintered off), made up by other races that were there before Heaven and Hell started to duke it out.

Unfortunately, I'll probably be updating once a month or so, and I'll probably be jumping back and forth between this one and my DS xover, because between school and work, I don't have a whole lot of free time anymore. Oh well, gotta pay them bills.

Last up, there won't be much (if any) romance in this story. Unless I get a lot of demand for it, I'll be sticking to mostly straight up Action/Adventure. Strife will be in charge of the comedy corner though, lol. No worries, if I do change my mind, I'll throw up a notice several chapters beforehand.

So, let's do this!

Despite the uneasy truce forced upon Heaven and Hell, there was always someone out there willing and waiting to stir up some trouble. Even the best of intentions may end with disastrous results. When someone starts to dig up the past that hits all four of the Horsemen a little too close to home, they must come to terms with themselves and what the Balance actually means to them.

Prelude – Nightfall

Hell, by general rule, was not a very hospitable group of worlds. Most of them had extreme weather patterns, usually in the blistering and scorching heat variety, but a few others were worlds of nothing but howling winds and frigid ice mountains or waterlogged pits of poison and miasma. If anything, the demons that made their homes on such hazardous realms were incredibly resilient.

However, given the nature of their home realms, life did not come easy. Plant life was almost none-existent on such worlds, but that did not stop the demons building their many bastions of nightmarish quality. Demons were hunters and scavengers plain and simple. And when it came down to it, demons ate other demons. The idea of agriculture, which had allowed many of the other races and Old Ones to build their empires, was laughable among demons. For one, their worlds generally would not allow it, and secondly, demons hardly had the patience to wait for things to grow. Instead, they stole, raided and pillaged what they needed, be it from demons or any other creatures within their midst. Husbandry was somewhat feasible, but only in the hands of a more level-headed and strategically inclined overlord, who could keep his or her underlings firmly in check.

Not all too surprisingly, demon clans often clashed, armies decimating each other over the course of a day and night. To the victor went the spoils, and the losers rarely made it out alive.

But every once in a while, something out of the norm would happen. When half of a demon realm suddenly goes quiet, with neither hide nor tail of a single demon for several years' worth, there was bound to be trouble afoot.

One such occurrence was what lead Death, eldest of the Four Horsemen, to investigate one of the demon controlled worlds lying in the outer skirts of what was officially noted to be 'Hell'.

Despair's hooves gently clattered over the dry and parched earth as horse and Rider surveyed the general landscape. Jagged, rocky outcrops were the only source of shade, offering limited protection from the blistering hot sun. Death paid it no heed, heat and cold had long since not troubled him in the least. In truth, he was near immune to all weather. The harsh glare of the sun was another story. The bone like color of the surrounding earth and stone made the landscape look like a giant reflective mirror. Once in a while, the Rider would grumble as he stared off into the distance, narrowing his eyes, trying to spot anything out of place.

"Why, in Creation's name, did anyone decide to call this wasteland a home?" Death snarled. Beneath him, Despair snorted loudly, equally displeased. Not far away, Dust too released a couple of indignant caws as he partially hid under an overlooking rock.

Death was a patient man, but even he had his limits. After several days of nothing but scorching sun (since this world apparently either had no night time, or it rotated so slowly that it took dam near forever to turn around) had been more than ready to slash at the first thing that moved. He knew that the world had been home to several clans of demons, and that they had made their homes somewhere in the general region in which he was, but so far he had not seen a single piece of evidence that supported the information. In fact, the whole world looked to be completely abandoned.

If this turned out to be another wild goose chase conjured up by the Watchers, he was going to pull a mass genocide of the annoying sprites. He'd already had enough of the little suck ups after the near catastrophe unleashed by Abomination Weapons that had not been sealed away. It had taken the Reaper better part of several centuries to hunt down every last unaccounted Abomination and cast it into Oblivion. At the very least, the Archangel Azrael had been cooperative with him and allowed him partial entry into Eden, where he and his brothers had stopped the rampaging Nephilim for good, and where he earned his Kinslayer namesake. Good thing too, because he had retrieved plenty of broken Abominations and a couple of intact ones from that ancient battlefield with the angel's help. The Watchers had been nearly hysterical whenever Death went to visit the Keeper and threw weapon after weapon into the Oblivion Gate. Death had cut down more than a few that had dared get anywhere near the weapons.

It came to no one's surprise that all of the Horsemen didn't care much for the Watchers, and that their animosity was returned in kind.

Still, Death moved on. At times he pushed Dispair into a hard gallop in order to cross large expanses of flatlands, and other times he dismounted and climbed nearby rock formation to get a better view, seeing as how Dust tried his best to hide from the sun. Either way, he saw no evidence of life at all. Not even a single insect crawling its way across the land.

As much as the Pale Rider wanted to abandon this so called missive (and wring a few necks while he was at it), he was unnerved by the sheer silence of the wasteland. He had seen more than enough worlds titter on the brink of Oblivion, but this current realm, Portaglos, was nowhere near that level of destruction. If anything, it looked more like a world just forged by a Master Maker, waiting for that spark of life to be imbued into it and to allow it to grow. However, even as Portaglos was barren as far as Death could see, through his magic he could detect life magic within the world. Almost dormant, or muted, but it was definitely there.

So, if the world was still 'alive', then where had all of the inhabitants gone? No Maker would abandon a world half forged, and the world itself had been reported to be used by demons. Surely by now Death would have encountered something.

Annoyance gave way to caution and concern as time went on. The silence of the land only served to raise warning signs within Death's mind. For once, the Watchers might have been right on reporting uncharacteristic activity from this realm.

'Something happened here.' Death thought as he further contemplated on the situation.

Demons never abandoned their territories, much less pulled a massive retreat on this scale. If something had indeed dislodged the resident demons, bloodshed would have been present on every inch of the planet; blood, bones, corpses, weapons, destroyed fortifications, anything that would have stood testimony to a war. And none of which Death could find a single clue of. While time alone could have erased much of the evidence, it would have taken centuries if not several millennia to achieve results as Death was seeing.

Eventually, after many more hours of fruitless searching, Death took refuge under a small stone formation. He contemplated on what little he had learned so far, and what little else he could remember about the demonic outpost.

So far his search by land and air (once Dust had been properly threatened into cooperating) had proved next to useless. The only thing that the Rider had achieved out of it was to further confirm his suspicions that something had taken place upon the barren world, and that whatever it had been, it took place some time ago. If something truly significant had taken place, then the Council and the Horsemen would have been informed immediately. To have so much time pass between the incident and sending a Rider was troubling in of itself. If not him, then any of the other riders could have been sent. For all his nonsense, Strife had a keen eye and was as swift as the wind, he would have been able to scout much of the world far faster than Death could. However, the younger rider was short tempered and could have passed by important clues, hence why Death might have been summoned instead.

Death's memories offered no further clues to the ancestry of the world. The most he could recall was that Portaglos had been more of an outpost to demons, or a rest stop between worlds. A few squabbles here and there, a clan or two being wiped off from Creation in a single day, the usual fare for any demon realm. Nothing more, nothing less. Until now at least.

'A pair of wings might be more useful here. Maybe I should try to get an angel to scout for me.' Death mussed as he leaned back into the stone, then chucked lightly. 'As if anyone of them would willingly do me a favor unless it benefited them in some way or another.'

Regardless, Death knew that he needed to find something soon, or he would have to find something to help him search. Had the scenario been different, he might have just dismissed the whole thing as a lost cause, but something within him had been gnawing at him from the inside since nearly the start. Try as he might, the feeling that something was off was too much to throw away. If worst came to be, then he would just have to use the power of the title of a Horseman of the Apocalypse to persuade a few individuals to assist him.

He would give the barren world another good search before deciding on how to get some help. With that in mind, Death closed his eyes and drifted off into a light sleep in order to remain some energy. Like his master, Dust also decided to take a nap, squawking softly in his own little way of saying 'Goodnight'.

The next 'day' started off no different. A blistering hot sun over his back, sand and dirt being whipped around by the wind, and a long expanse of flat land that seemed to never end. Death had been making a mental list of who he could get to help him when he felt a sudden surge of power not far away. Magical energy, and a lot of it.

Without missing a beat, the Pale Rider spurred Despair in the direction where he felt the energy come from. Be it friend or foe, Death was determined to see what had caused the disturbance, and if luck would have it, it could possibly tell him what exactly had taken place on this barren world.

Finding a maker was not what he had been expecting.

Standing nearly thrice as tall as Death was, the man was built like the mountains his kin shaped into life. Stocked and sturdy, clad in red-brown leather armor over a dark green tunic and pants, with a good half-dozen satchels and bags strapped to a thick belt around his waist, and with a massive hammer in one hand, gave Death enough clues to discern that this maker was more warrior than Sage. His wheat colored hair was kept short, just enough to be pulled back into a tail at the back of his head, while his beard had been carefully weaved into three thick braids and adorned with brands and beads that reached his waist. The only thing that was out of place was the abnormally large straw hat over his head that was undoubtedly not maker-made.

Death slowed Despair down to an easy trot as he neared the mystery maker, who in turn had stopped an incantation of some sort to face the rider. The maker did not look surprised at the sudden appearance of another living being, but did look overall annoyed. Not quite hostile but very close to it. As Death neared, he placed his hammer on the ground, the flat top of the head even with the ground, and made a few steps towards the Rider, crossing his arms over his chest waiting for the other. The gesture was the universal sign among Makers that he was willing to speak, allowing the other to have the first word. The distance from the Maker to his weapon usually meant how much the owner was willing to trust the other. Four paces Death judged. Cautious and weary then.

The gesture made Death raise an eyebrow. Usually he would get colder greetings, especially when the given individual was far from his or her native land. What was a maker doing in this wasteland anyway? Death was however, silently glad at the chance to get some answers without having to beat it out of other people's skulls. So he would respond in kind. Once he was near enough, he dismounted and summoned Harvester. Then with a single swing, he stabbed the end of the scythe into the earth, until half of the blade was hidden from view and walked the rest of the way towards the maker.

He could summon the scythe at a moment's notice anyway, it things went sour. He was just doing it for the sake of being… polite.

"You are far from home, maker. What brings you to this hellhole?" greeted the Rider.

The maker grunted, uncrossing his arms and placing a hand at each side of his waist. "I could be asking the same thing of you Horseman, but your reputation precedes you. As for me, work is what brings me here. This world has long since been in need of Reoriginating. I'm here ta do it." The man finished with a mild sneer.

"Reoriginating?" Death inquired. He had dealt with several makers here and there, but this was the first time that he had heard of the term being used among them. Makers usually were somewhat secretive about the finer details of their work, but the way the maker before him used the term it had to relate to something of serious importance. Death did not like being kept in the dark about something that important. "Never heard of the term."

"Figures no one outside of a maker knows about it." The maker grumbled as he grabbed his hat by the rim to pull it back down, shading his face once more from the harsh sun. "Well, I'll keep this short. As you've already seen Horseman, worlds do die. Some naturally, some not. They don't just disappear into Oblivion which is what most people think. However, it takes a little more… ah persuading let's call it, to get a world's soul ta unlatch itself to be cleansed. Only a maker can do that. After that, the rock left behind can be made to take on new shape and form, and later imbued with a life once more. Which is what I'm here to do. "

Death had actually been taken back by that. If anything he had not seen or heard of anything of the sort. The possibility that any dead world could be resurrected did not sit well for the Rider. Some things were meant to stay dead, doing anything otherwise was just asking for trouble. His first instinct was to call out the maker for lying to him, but the man's posture was that of a man with full certainty in his words. Not to mention, something like that should have reached his ears long ago, considering that he had been a Rider for millions of years, not just a scant few.

"Why would you need to resurrect a world? Last I checked makers were only concerned with making words, not bringing them back to life." Death narrowing his eyes, his unspoken threat clear in his tone. He'd already had enough experience with people trying to bring back to life things that should remain dead to last him an eternity, several time over. The Ravaiim might take the forefront of the list of things not to resurrect, but Death could whip up a list with several dozen entries about unspeakable horrors that needed to remain dead, forgotten and erased from all history.

If this maker was about to do some necromancy on a planetary scale, Death would not hesitate to call Harvester and separate the man's head from the rest form his body.

Surprisingly enough, the maker was not intimidated by the Pale Rider. "Funny man." The maker replied without a single trance of humor, narrowing his own eyes at the pun. "Yes, we makers were charged with shaping the earth and stone, and bringing life into the worlds. However, leaving a bunch of dead worlds just floating around is a giant waste of time, effort and resources. But no, I do not resurrect them as you might believe. I make a an entirely new world from the rock that made up the old one, reforge it, reshape it, raise new mountains and draw new valleys, then I add the spark of life. A clean, pure soul. No trace is left of the old one. No memory, no nothing. Just a brand new world somewhere close to where the previous one once was."

This was entirely new information for Death. The Rider knew that all souls, regardless of where they came from, traveled to Well of Souls after their demise. From there, souls would eventually take new life somewhere in Creation. He knew that the souls had to pass through some sort of cleansing process, to shake off everything that they accumulated during their lifetime, before they were allowed to be reborn. Usually souls did not change shapes much; a deceased angel normally was born as an angel again, and demons stayed demons. But once in a while they became different, but similar creatures. From his understanding, extinct species and races usually 'hopped' to the most compatible creature in existence.

Unless of course, you happened to have a soul sealing amulet at hand and you had every intention of permanently sealing away your deranged and bloodthirsty Nephilim brethren. But that was another story.

Prior to this little meeting, Death had not given much thought as to what happened to worlds that died off. Most of them would drift away into the far reaches of all of Creation, until sooner or later they would simply disappear, without a single trace. Death would have believed that Oblivion would claim them, but if what the maker said was indeed true, then worlds were not too different from the souls that they gave home to.

In retrospect, worlds were rather large in comparison to the constructs that makers were renown for. While all of their golems and machines were imbued with part of a maker's life, and were in a way an extension of the maker's will. To think that a single maker was able to control and guide hundreds of worlds for eons on end was nearly overwhelming. And yet, makers had made thousands upon thousands of worlds, each one living independently from the master that gave it life and any other siblings created by the same maker.

Just what kind of power were these makers actually wielding? And here was one standing right before him, that claimed to shatter worlds, break them down and rebuild them into a new world of its own.

It also explained just what exactly how worlds suddenly appeared all over creation eerily close to long dead worlds that suddenly disappeared.

Perhaps there was more to the makers than Death had given them credit for initially.

"Well I'll be dammed. Worlds can be reborn?" he asked, almost incredulous at the possibility.

The maker just laughed, long and deep, then grinned widely at the Rider before him. "Surprised Rider? Worlds have souls of their own. It takes a special kind of soul to give life to a world. One that we makers guard and watch over very carefully. There are enough bastards out there wanting to hoard power from the souls of the living and the dead. We see no reason as to why give them an opportunity to get their hands on a World Soul."

Death could definitely see no fault there from the maker's part. "To which end you've been sent to retrieve this one's then, World-breaker. Although it looks like you're running a few centuries late here." Death added sarcastically while gesturing to the barren landscape.

"Well now." The maker huffed, yet his lips twitched upwards into a small grin "This World-breaker has a name too, I'll have you know. Bormak, of the Thunder Aerie. The only maker in charge of Reoriginating worlds. As for what kept me busy, well I'd have to give thanks to you for that. Someone had to pick up after all those Nephilim." Death froze in place, all trace of humor lost to him. Bormak too lost his cheery demeanor. "Took me long enough to chase down where some of the worlds had run off to. I tell you one thing Rider, it was not pleasant business hearing what each one had gone through as I released them."

"Y-you…" For once, the Pale Rider was left speechless. It took great effort for the eldest of the Horsement to get his mouth to work once more, and when he did, his voice turned out uncharacteristically softer, but mostly broken. "You destroyed the worlds left behind by… the Nephilim?"

The Rider nearly flinched at how weak he sounded. In truth, Death's past would always be one of his few weaknesses. He was the only one of the four Riders that actually knew how horrible their history had actually been. It was a subject that he would have preferred to never bring up. He'd already gone through great lengths to destroy or hide away as much as he could. And yet, the maker before him had heard almost firsthand about the atrocities that had been committed. A good number of them by Death's own hands.

But then again, what was Death but a broken man trying desperately to atone for the crimes perpetrated by his own kin? Few knew at all about the eldest Rider's motives, not even his fellow Horsemen.

And now, he would have to add this maker to the list of people that knew of his sins.

"Those and many more Rider. Not pleasant, but it needed doing." The maker explained in an even tone. "At ease Horseman, it was for the best. Those worlds are now gone for good. The memory of what took place there is now completely erased. Worry not Rider. Whatever secrets were left, they will die with you Horseman, and with me."

Death looked up, into the maker's eyes and found no lies. For whatever reason, Bormak had decided to let the Nephilim and their secrets die. Those were some mighty powerful secrets… some of which not even Death could ever hope to fully erase. Lesser beings would have searched for a way to use the Nephilim's dark legacy to empower themselves, to wage war without restraint and bring about another era of unspeakable horrors… Yet he did not, for which Death was greatly relieved to hear.

As if reaching a silent understanding, the maker nodded and turned away, back towards where he left his hammer, giving Death some peace of mind.

"Not many would have decided as you did, Bormak." Death eventually said, taking the opportunity to reach the maker. "Creation… and the Balance will be in your debt." And so am I, Death half wanted to add, but could not bring himself to say it out loud.

Bormak grunted as he lifted his hammer, whirled it around once, before resting it on his shoulder. "I already know Horseman. There is a reason why only one maker is allowed to Reoriginate worlds, and we are bound by heavy pacts of our own. What we see, what we find, and what we learn is not to be shared with anyone… save for very special occasions. And then only if, only if," the maker emphasized as he started to walk away. "Balance is at stake."

Behind the mask, Death raised an eyebrow. "I take it I'm on that special list." He said as he quickly caught up with the maker.

The maker nodded, slowing down and shortening his strides so that Death would follow him easier. He was not about to call out the smaller man needing to hop, skip and sprint every few steps just to stay even with him. The large man's face was grim as he gazed into the horizon. "I've seen enough worlds to know when something is wrong. This one has trouble written all over it. I've been wanting to Reoriginate it for several centuries now, but I could not begin as long as there was life within the world. Creator's rules mind you. Dam pesky demons made their way in and dug in deep, bringing supplies from other worlds. Had to come and check every other year and see if they had finally retreated. Little bastards finally ran off, and I planned to get started before they decided to come back."

Well that explained a few things, such as how the demons had managed to entrench themselves in an otherwise inhospitable world. Still no sign was to what actually happened to the demons however. But perhaps the maker knew more than he let on. Death would have to press on if he wanted to get answers.

"You say that the demons ran off." Death began. "Yet I have seen neither hide nor tail of them for several days. Not even a trace that they had been here at some point. What kept you from Reoriginating this world as you claim when all I've seen is a world that has been abandoned for millennia?"

"Fair question Rider. Shame I do not have a real answer to that." Bormak raised his free hand to still the Rider's tongue as he shook his head. "Last I was here, less than a year ago, the land still crawled with demons here and there. Not as many as they once were but still too many for me liking. They had their camps and dens and everything else you would expect them to have. Yet, a few weeks back, one of my wards finally activated when it no longer sensed life. Much like yourself, I came here to check and see if it were true. What I found was the world to be as barren as you see it now. Not a single trace of the demons as you've put it. I'd wager that is also what brought you here Rider."

"You would have waged right, maker." The Rider suppressed a sigh. "Demons do not disappear overnight like this. I am to find out what happened here, and if needed be, put a stop to it."

Bormak took a few more steps before coming to a complete stop, gazing into the ground as if looking for something specific. Death saw nothing of notice, just more bleached out, sun baked earth half covered in fine sand. Bormak ignored him for now, kneeling down and dusting off a few spots until he broke out into a grin.

"Well Rider," he began, straightening out. "If we want answers, there is only one place to get them. The World itself."

Death looked at the spot that the maker had just uncovered. It looked no different than the rest of the land he had seen so far. Whatever Bormak had found, Death could not see. Slightly irritating being left out of the loop, but he would trust in the maker's judgment for now.

"That little spot of dry land isn't saying much right now."

Bormak grunted as he placed his hammer on said little spot, the flat top of the head even with the ground. "Good thing you found me then Rider. World Souls don't really talk to strangers. Also, you might want to take a few steps back."

Death was about to make a witty remark until he saw Bormak place both hands along the pole of the hammer and began some sort of chant, making a whole array of runes and glyphs glow under the scorched earth. And then, it was as if the whole world had come back to life.

Energy, magical energy, flowed from Bormak into the ground, and the world responded. Like a sleeping bear trying to wake up from a long winter's sleep, the earth began to shift, moan, crumble and quake. On the horizons, the mountains began to stir, releasing thick clouds of sand and dust that obscured the view for miles on all sides. Loud rumbles soon followed, and even if Death could not see it, he didn't need to guess that the mountains were being torn down by avalanches. Even the eldest Rider had trouble keeping his footing, and that was with using Harvester as extra leverage.

And somehow Bormak continued with his spellwork completely unaffected.

After several seconds that felt more like hours, the ground started to calm down. As the dust settled, Death tried his best to peer through the remaining dust clouds. At first he saw little change, but slowly he began to see that the magical runes that had appeared when Bormak started his chanting, were softly glowing in gentle hues ranging from sweet apple red, to sunset orange, to rusted gold and back. As for the maker, he had one of his hands extended out, and in it, a will o' wisp of some sort was flickering in and out, at times gently floating and at others it jerked around as if it had trouble remaining airborne. Odder still was the fact that the little wisp appeared to be conversing with the maker.

Death had been about to wonder where the wisp had come from when he recalled Bormak's words.

World Souls don't really talk to strangers.

Death's eyes widened upon the realization. A World Soul. The maker was conversing with the World Soul that belonged to Portaglos.

Bormak had not lied that World Souls were similar to the souls of other creatures. Once separated from the body, souls usually were tiny. So small in fact that Death had managed to trap and store the souls of all of the Nephilim into a hand sized amulet and still had room to spare. In comparison, the World Soul was huge, being as wide as the head of Bormak's hammer was, and the ethereal glow to it was by far brighter.

Still, Death could tell that something was wrong with the World Soul in Bormak's outstretched hand. Its glow flicked irregularly, and it barely was able to hover in place. Had it been a living animal, Death would have likened it to that of one that had suffered a mortal blow but had not yet succumbed to its wounds. It was dying.

Could World Souls die? Did they just disappear once they could no longer take whatever grief consumed them?

It made the Reaper wonder in what kind of state had the World Souls been of all the worlds he had aided in destroying. The current state of the flickering wisp all but begged to be released from its suffering. However, Death knew that there was little he could do for that World Soul. Only a maker, and a powerful one at that, would be able to give rest to the wisp.

Perhaps, he owed Bormak more than he had initially believed.

Death looked on as Maker and Soul conversed, their words deft to his ears. Still, he could see in part how Bormak became grim and sorrowful as time went on. Patiently, he waited in silence, taking the moment to contemplate that the universe was far bigger than he knew. He had been a Horseman for thousands upon thousands of years, and here he stood, beholding a scene that probably had not been witnessed by anyone other than a maker before.

And yet, it was a tiny part, a small gear that went unseen and yet fueled some of the grandest parts of all Creation. But, for all the power and magic involved into creating it, it was also delicate and fickle. An army of demons, angels, or anything in between could bring a world down to its knees without a care. Life was all tied in, one way or another, and yet so few realized just how precious life was, in every shape and form.

It made Death clench his fists realizing just how important the Balance actually was. And also, it cemented his decision of taken the mantle of a Horseman.

There was not going to be a repeat of the Nephilim under his watch. Be it from heaven, hell or something else altogether. He would put a stop to it, by whatever means necessary. If he had to go around the Charred Council and their dammed Watchers, then so be it.

For his brothers, and for the Balance, there would be no stopping Death on his newfound and self-appointed mission.

An hour or so later, the World Soul's glow faded out until it was barely visible. Bormak's shoulders sagged down as he placed the dim wisp on the ground, right in the center of the array of runes that had appeared around the maker. Death took it as an indication that their little chat was over, and by the look of the maker's face, he did not like what he heard.

The Kinslayer had been debating if he could approach the maker when Bormak decided to answer that by shifting his stance to the one he had taken before the Soul had appeared. Quickly, the Pale Rider braced himself in case the maker started to cast another spell of the same magnitude as he had before.

And good thing he did.

Just as before, the maker grabbed the pole of his hammer with both hands and began chanting. Soon the winds started to pick up once more, creating hurricane like winds that whipped around the barren landscape. This time however, the storm grew even stronger, fiercer, even as the ground beneath the rider began to shake again. Not only that, but as visibility lessened, the glow of the runes under Bormak only intensified, drawing in power left and right, not from the area around them that was bone dry and deprived of all live, but from somewhere deep within. The very essence of the world. The heart of the mountain as the makers called it. Or simply the Core of the world… the resting place for the World Soul.

Death soon realized that the abnormally large wisp that Bormak had been conversing with had been but a small image of the whole thing. An avatar, an extension of the complete being manifested as such for practicality. Drawing out the whole thing required far more than a little persuading, considering the sheer amount of energy that was amassing around the maker. As fearless as Death was, whatever was about to take place had the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Instinct was shouting at him to get away, to find shelter, but he knew that there was no real safe place from whatever was coming.

He did not have to wait long.

Suddenly, Bormak took the large hammer in one hand, and raised it as high as he could. Thunder and lightning waged war in the skies, striking the metal head of the weapon yet causing no harm to the maker, who was deep in trance like state. Then, without warning, Bormak brought the weapon down with every bit of strength in him, hitting the spell array dead center. The collision generated what had to be the loudest thunderclap Death had ever heard in his life, at the same time as a pillar of pure, bright light emerged from the runes around the maker, connecting the earth to the skies and unleashing a massive shockwave that spread both outward over the landscape, and inward, going deeper and deeper into the world itself.

All around them, time was frozen in place. Only the clouds rumbled up above, but they too had slowed down as if whispering to each other, afraid and weary of the unknown.

Seconds later, despite the moderate ringing Death felt in his ears, he was still able to hear a faint, soft moan echo around him. Shortly thereafter, little puffs of golden light began to emerge from the ground. The little marble sized spheres glowed much like the World Soul's shade that had appeared before Bormak, in soft tones of reds, oranges and yellows.

Slowly, more and more of the little glowing orbs emerged, floating no higher than Death's waist, and began to roll away, creating a beautiful never ending sea of twilight in waves. They moved on their own, no wind to help them, all in the same general direction. Not far away Bormak stood up, watching the spectacle like a shepherd watching over his flock, a mournful look on his face.

The procession continued for quite some time. Every few seconds a wisp or two would bounce off Death's legs, hover in place a bit and then continued on its merry little way. With each touch, the last Firstborn of the Nephilim felt wave after wave of pain, despair, grief, and finally relief. Sweet, sweet relief.

For once, Death had been too enthralled by the majesty of the event to even dare to break the silence, let alone move and disturb them. He knew not where the wisps were gathering, but he could tell that they were moving with a specific purpose in mind.

Somewhere, far off in the distance, half shrouded in dust clouds, the Rider could barely distinguish a single mountain glowing in gold. The gathering point of the wisps no doubt.

In a way, it was one of the most beautiful sights Death had ever seen.

Only once the last of the orbs rolled away, did the Rider move towards Bormak.

"Was that the World Soul?" he asked softly, just above a whisper.

"Aye. What's left of it anyway. Too full of grief to be pulled whole, so I did what I had to do. Break it down so that it could reach the Well of Souls on its own." Bormak answered, his voice filled with regret from his actions, no matter how just they were.

Death turned to look towards the mountain that still glowed off in the horizon (which on second thought could have also been a tree… one heck of a very large tree, but that can't be right… could it?) , many of the wisps still making their way towards there. He too felt displeasure for the outcome, even if it was the best alternative that they had. "Then it is free now." He hummed before turning his gaze back to Bormak. "Yet, you were able to speak to it. Did it have anything to share about what happened here?"

The maker sighed deeply, and turned his back to the Horseman. He took a few steps before retrieving his hammer, letting it rest once again over his shoulder. Bormak stood in silence watching as the last of the orbs reached their destination, until the whole of the horizon mended together with the dust clouds.

"I can tell you one thing Horseman." Bormak said finally. "You'll be needing some bigger guns."

"And why would that be?" Death inquired.

Bormak looked at him straight in the eyes, chin straight, jaw clenched, as he tightened his grip on his hammer. Whatever sadness he had felt for the world had been replaced with fire.

"Nightfall, Horseman. It was Nightfall."

For once in my life, I actually managed to stay well under my usual 10k words per chapter mark. I'm genuinely surprised. I might have sidetracked a bit, but I ended up writing what might just be one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever written. The whole world soul bit hadn't been on my original draft, but once I stumbled into it, it just sorta flowed… and better yet, filled in a ton of gaps that had been bugging me at later parts.

Anyway, reviews are much appreciated!