Long ago, the first sign came, augured by the glare of a flame -- and in its wake, the laws of kingship were broken.
Eras have passed.
The lights are read. We are all together as one. The future is the past. What has been shall be; what shall be, has been.
Amongst the garden of the true light, eight stand.
A brilliant flower blossoms in the garden. A swarm of insects covers the earth. A bull is put to pasture. A brood of ancient worms hatch from their eggs and devour the fruit from within.
The second sign comes, augured by the blast of a horn -- and in its wake, the laws of nature are broken.
Where the roots of ivy once lay, a star shines down on barren land -- and new growth arises where once the earth was salted. Tendrils wind in through the windows, and its thorns drink deeply of blood in the night. When the moon is full, its three blossoms open: in the heart of a queen, in the mind of a general, in the soul of a monk.
In land freshly cleared for planting, five saplings are drawn together as their golden leaves reach up in thirst towards the sky -- but their roots run thick in the black mire, and their trunks are carved with the sigils of ancient hatreds.
A man with two faces stares with each at a map of the world, one green, one black. Beside him is a lantern with three lights; in one hand he holds the skull of a dead god, and in the other, thousands of tiny strings that run to each map that he pulls with measured precision. When every string is taut, he thinks, he shall pull free the one thread that is at the heart of all of them -- and then, he shall remake both maps as he sees fit.
Across the table from him, a black lion stares at both tables with focus. In front of him is a great black stone, pulled from the very center of the black map, and he sharpens his teeth upon it, one by one -- for when they are sharp enough, he shall simply devour both maps in one gulp.
In a castle of ruby, a man once condemned to death, now freed of his jailors, draws the army to himself that he wielded once before. In a lush sylvan metropolis, a cabal of ancient viziers plot the bitter end to an ancient design. On a vast island, a paradise built long ago roils in its secret heart from the influence of beauteous devils. And in the frigid wastes, a mortal man clings to life, his mind the home of a secret far grander than he.
Far from his previous life, a man works the land, toiling in obscurity; in the place she has always known, a woman brings together her cousins for vengeful war, borne of the pain in her own heart.
High above the ground below, a group of birds nests, their feathers glistening with the cold edge of steel; then, at once, they split, a small group wheeling through the air in one direction, the bulk massing and flocking in the other -- and then... war begins.
One out of every five is marked for death.
A green star shines, and the gates are flung open -- the earth shakes, the trees topple, the fields wither, and those who have died rise up to displace those who are living.
The jaws of bone and salt open to consume the world. The cold wind of death blows across every doorstep, and for a moment, no new life can be born.
A new blue light fills the sky. A sense of peace and ease passes over the people of Creation. The rivers overflow with life and love as many return to greet their parents once more. And in the light, an old friend is found again.
A hole opens up beneath a golden blossom, but no one can see it; and then, from within comes a consuming purple vine, its tendrils small and nigh-invisible, but omnipresent -- and strong.
A thousand faces stand atop a precipice, held in place by the single face of a bleached skull: and where they gaze, there is only stillness until at last they are cast down.
The crack in the world yawns open.
Silver messengers come from afar, bringing wondrous treasures and grand news.
There is a great journey.
The pieces of the world are not what they once were.
The one who is balanced between the one and the other ascends to a seat above the skies of Meru; all things twist into balance at his feet.
She who bears the blood of lovers upon her hands carves out a kingdom of pain and blood, all in preparation for vicious battle.
The third sign comes, augured by the gentle touch of a hand -- and in its wake, the laws of emotion are broken.
A golden rain falls upon the plains, and in every place where once there stood a blade of grass, now blossoms a tiny, delicate flower.
The last sunrise dawns, and all the peoples of the world are drawn out to see it. The thin crescent of the sun casts a light of rare, delicate beauty out over creation, and by the end of the day, there is nothing left to set.
A vast crystal unleashes that which has dwelt within for thousands of years. Beyond its edges, where once there was chaos, the pleasingly predictable certainty of order is enacted, all in the name of the mistress of the spheres.
The sinuous tendrils of the purple vine crawl across existence. Where there is life, they choke it out; where there is hope, they smother it in its crib; where there is light, they absorb it until it is gone, and become stronger than before.
A golden child, born under a black sky; her skin like brilliant copper near an open flame, four arms grasping wih the focus of one wise beyond her years.
The beast rises up, freed from all time and space; his bulk casts a shadow across the world, and his maw drips an ocean out into Creation. The bridge of the sky itself is his palace, the Imperial Mountain the gravestone for his family, and the Red Star the harbinger of his coming.
Two grey wolves battle, at the foot of a vast, empty golden throne. They strike at one another, and their fur is matted red with blood. Finally, one falls beneath the other's strikes, and the victor rips out its throat -- and then, hot blood still fresh on its muzzle, falls atop its victim in silence.
The walls of heaven crumble.
The sounds of battle are heard across the universe.
In the garden of the true light, six stand.
The fourth sign comes, augured by the thoughts of the people -- and in its wake, no laws remain to be broken.
He is coming.