Athos: The Return
Anatolius, The Azure Inferno
The Merchant of Souls, Self-Proclaimed Inheritor and Emperor of the Nine Hells, Rakshasa & Demon Hunter, Old God of Hellfire and Spoken Contracts, The Arcane Adorned, 'Dragonslayer'
“And he was of the Azure Flame, and he rode atop a pale horse, chasing dreams of Hell.” -Thraxoses the Wise
Anatolius was born to the human woman Nasriel, a water-dancer from Naxos, and blood-twin to Nox. He was taken away from his Mother with Nox on the night of their birth, from that day she never danced again and lived in solitude until her death in 1025, mere days after her sons’ permanent return to Earth. From birth, Anatolius was thought remarkable due to the control of and aura of azure-blue flame that emanated from his body. Most infernal powers of that nature were acquired through deals with demons, but they were given to him as patron, not customer as the mortals were. In training Anatolius became quite skilled in magical blade techniques, able to wield a heavy blade in one hand with a charred cinder wand in the other.
In terms of the blood relationship between Nox and Anatolius, it never really manifested into anything beyond a subtle competitive spirit. They often sparred in combat and made a habit of confronting each other with their squadmates, Anatolius’ being Marik, Snow-Dancer (and to this day his closest friend), Uriel, of the Immortal Fields, Balerion, The Astral Merchant, and Raphael, The Hand of Life-Giving. In their 15th Year Trials, Anatolius, believing his brother to have stolen a seal (an achievement needed to successfully claim victory at the trials) from him, gave chase but was led into a trap where Nox used The Voidblade, given to his squad member and future General,Gabriel, to permanently cut off the fingers on his left hand. Luckily, Raphael, arriving just in time to help his teammate, was able to magically replace Anatolius’ fingers with the cinder wand that once graced them. In the combat chambers where their Deva handlers put them through near-impossible scenarios, the demigods kept score of fights between each other. The score of the Anatolius-Nox bracket was one of the more popular ones.
At the time of the selection for Apotheosis, Anatolius’ chances were just behind the front runners, pegged almost generously at around 25-1 in some of the less noble sections of Naxos. When he wasn’t chosen he was the first to leave. That night he sneaked into The Heavenly Archives of Athos and stole away one of Athos’ Soul Vials, where, before he could create a true and perfect afterlife, stored the souls of those who past. Though nearly all were destroyed by Athos, several were saved and stored by the Deva in case they were needed in the future. He also stole one of the magical horse figurines that Athos was given by a great Enchanter. He chose the pale, obsidian horse figurine, which, when called, grows into an undying steed; red eyed, ghostly, and terrifying to behold. Rumours and old myths tell that the Arcane Phrase used to call the steed is spoken, “Come and See.”
On Earth he began traveling around Sysitar, searching for purpose. For 8 years he wandered and attempted to experience the pleasures of the world. On his travels he earned the title, The Merchant of Souls, as he would make deals, offering power, skill, gold, or just about anything, in return for their soul. He would store them in his father’s Soul Vial which, when opened made the space around dark with souls which were then sucked back when the vial was closed. It came to be known as the Bottle of Twilight.
But he still felt unfulfilled. Eventually he came to a low peak with a cratered lake in the north, known as Mount Frixes. There he sat by the shores and, depressed and languishing, contemplated his new life. The goat herders and Shepard tribes feared him, since when he was in deep thought he emitted an aura of blue flame, and his leathery wings, yet to fall, rose high around him. There he was confronted by and met the human girl Rasiel. Over the next few months the two fell and love. Anatolius took her away to the southern tip of Cisplatina to the coastal island known as the Isla de Cachaca. They lived there on a fledgling multi-racial colony for seven years, fathering two sons named Zephyrus, the oldest, and Iulus.
Then, just before their second son’s 1st birthday, Nox came in an attempt to procure his brother’s assistance in what was beginning to look like a deadly war. Anatolius wanted no part and refused. Angered, Nox charged Mammon with destroying Anatolius’ family. Mammon then went to the Isla de Cachaca and set fire to the settlement. With Anatolius away fighting the flames, he stepped into Anatolius’ home and killed the babe in its crib and then its mother. Only by a stroke of luck did Anatolius return to see and save his firstborn. In sadness he took his son and brought him away, to the human colonies on Athos Terrarum where he trained him in the arts of combat. Zephyrus became a well known warrior, renown for many great feats of battle in The War of Failed Succession.
After the war and the death of his firstborn, Anatolius remained on Athos Terrarum. On that continent he travelled for a century until he finally found his purpose. After scouring for surviving Scholars of Naxos and their works, he came upon Thraxoses the Wise in a Monastery, writing a text on the origins of evil and the nine hells. Therein Thraxoses tells how Athos once told him that the Nine Hells were empty and devoid of a ruler. From that day, Anatolius has searched for the Gates of Dis and the Infernal Hall of Seals, a cave wherein it details the way to open the gates, in order to become master of his own realm.
Through the past few millenia, Anatolius has scoured the world searching both for information on how to reach his realm and also for the necessary power to achieve it. Some call him the Arcane Adorned due to the number of wondrous and powerful magical items he has spent years searching for and acquiring. He spends little time at The Conclave outside of nearly every meeting, where he also commissions copies of new texts and data for his own personal library. Though much of his time is spent on Athos Terrarum, the clear majority remains on the Isla de Cachaca where he acts as Lord Commander and Keeper of the Peace in what is presently both a Merchant and Mercenary-Pirate haven with no authority aside from the enforced laws of manner. He returned there shortly after The Second Contact War in order for it to be a base for his future travels. The command positions came as a result of wanting to stay.
On the island he spends his time in research, until he is ready for another quest of some kind. These quests all link back to Anatolius’ desire to become his own Master and find his own throne to sit upon. Regardless of his personal ambitions, he is one of The Conclave’s most respected members and his career as a Regulator is astounding. As a regulator he was adept at temporarily destroying Rakshasa and foiled several of their greatest plots to bring terrible demons into the world.
Myths and Tales of Anatolius
The Fallen Azure Star
“And I saw a star fall from the sky, like a sapphire catching light from the moon until it struck the ground with great force. I was blinded from the white blast and knocked onto my back. When I arose I looked out with regained sight and proceeded straight, for I was entranced by power.” -Excerpted from ‘A Merchant’s Tale’ by Thalron Greymast
Once, in the days of the old gods, there was a town in northern Alara where a local village Councillor lost his family in a devastating fire. Afflicted by madness, he called the Councillors together in order to have them sacrifice 7 sets of children, one per week in order to please the ‘angry’ demigod. On the morning of the seventh week, the last children were sacrificed. Then, it is said, that a merchant travelling to sell his wares saw a blue star fall from the sky. When it landed there was a great blue light. He followed it, wondering the light could’ve been. When he reached a hill he looked down and saw that it was fire and the entire village was engulfed. When the flames died the next morning, the merchant walked through the ruins only to find a man, recently unbound in the dirt staring blankly ahead. When the merchant asked him what had happened he did not seem to notice. It was then that the merchant noticed that a rope had led from the man’s hand to a house that had burned down more recently than the others. Then he asked again, adding “Who has done this to you?” Then the man, still unflinching, mumbled, “He said, that I would live. But I would have to stay and watch. And only when the screams became ambient noise to my ears would I finally be free.” Then the man took a knife and slit his own throat.
Rasiel of the Bottle
“When he lost her he refused to weep. Instead, Wrath took him, and follows him constantly.” – Marik, Flame-Birthed
Some legends hold that Anatolius made a deal with his wife for her soul and before he could nullify the spoken contract by allowing her life on her tenth year would the deal brake. Her death, then, would have her soul trapped eternally in The Bottle of Twilight.
The Academia Andraxicus
“He spent his days working us into delirium with combat training and his nights pouring over tomes the size of gnomes till the dawn broke and we began the day aknew.” – Caelerophon, a student of Anatolius from the Arcane College
The Academia Andraxicus in was founded in 1264 in Sovereign’s Port by Taeron Wintershield, the Elysian Philosopher King who had accumulated a vast collection of Sysitarean Scholarly works before he submitted to Alara in 1258, becoming a self-imposed exile. Since its inception the academy has been a constant research facility for Anatolius, who, seeing its potential, helped fund the school and gifted many artifacts for the Academy Masters to study. While his patronage was always graciously accepted, the Academy Masters feared the demigod and stayed away from him whenever he came to study. It wasn’t until much later, during the time of the 8th Academy Master, Evandros Krakarra, when Anatolius was offered a position at the school, teaching Arcane Swordsmanship, Arcane Combat, and Lecturing on Combating Demons and Rakshasa to the Students of the Arcane College. Though he does not teach with the frequency that he once did, Anatolius returns there occasionally in order to give special classes or lectures.
The Reflected Rakshasa Majinn
“There will be a day when all the fire in the world will not save the little Prince of Hell from himself.” – Majinn
During Anatolius’ first service with the Regulators he led a team to destroy the Rakshasa Majinn, who was a teacher of the most powerful summoning magic in heaven. Anatolius learned he was attempting to construct a way of bringing a very powerful demon into the world. Anatolius, using his wit and a magical mirror procured on a quest in a deep wood temple in Elandir, trapped Majinn’s soul in the mirror after killing him. Unable to reform properly, Majinn is trapped, though able to communicate. He is kept in the Archives on the Conclave, under special watch. He is sometimes interrogated or questioned by demigods seeking information given only to higher Deva like himself.
The Dawnblade, Aurora
Excerpted from the Accounts of Thodor, the Seer of Mount Raxes, from the Year 1017 of the First Age.
The Archlich had provoked him greater than any adversary in the field he had ever faced. As the blood of the sacrifices ran through the Key of Syphros, carved into the face of the mountain, we thought our failure would cost us our lives. But the rage of Anatolius burned like his flames. Suddenly, the blood, slowly spelling our doom, evaporated into smokes and sifted into the air. When we had noticed this we felt a great heat from the ground and smoke rose from cracks beneath our feet. Anatolius stood completely still as the blood in his body boiled from the flames that grew around his body, but they did not burn him, they came from him like a cocoon, forming shapes around him until we saw great black feather’d wings stretch from his spine scraping the air as they greeted the shine of the Falling Sun.
He had achieved his heavenly form. But he was afflicted by a madness from it. The power flowing from his body wrenched his soul and contorted it into ways that bent reality. His eyes burned red and his wings reached wide into the smokey skies above his body. Anatolius then reached into the air and from it pulled the Dawnblade Aurora, whose blade emitted such a great scintillating light that all who looked upon it were blinded. And with that, the feathers fell from his great span and immolated upon the ground. They were left bare, bat-like, as a demon’s but torn, with the weaker skin burned away by the intense heat, leaving them ragged.
O! But that blade! How it brought with it a subtle knowledge of the Tortures of the Nine Empty Hells and how such hellfire burned the air hot, singeing our skin! The Blade rose high with slight bend; the front edge sharp as adamantine dragon teeth and with the opposite edge toothed with three deep curves like Shark’s teeth. There were runes on it, the archaic dialect of a long dead tongue from beyond the Astral Sea of Athos, but I knew this language, and I trembled as I read the words which in the common tongue mean “My name is Aurora: for I am the Fire at Dawn and the Extinguisher at Twilight”. The hilt was of pure Astral Diamond, filled with the essence of the Azure Flame, sealed in by adamantine metals encrusted with all the jewels and gems of the Earth made by the Father, Athos, on the first of days.
And then it began. Anatolius, The Azure Inferno, Master of the Dawnblade Aurora, the sixty-sixth Son of Athos, took to the skies, unhindered by his scabbed wings, and made lead rain down upon the heads of those who had surrounded us. They fell to the hard ground with metal clangs that rang our ears like pitch’ed bells. The madness took him then and the flames around him glowed with an intense azure-blue, like a Sapphire Diamond mined from the deep of the Underdark below even the lowest Holdfasts of Brimir. He was swift with his new blade as well. He leapt through the air as if stepping upon an unseen layer of earth. When their heads left their bodies the wounds cauterised, leaving no blood, but, rather, melted skin and boiling eyes, leaking from their chambers and pooling in the cracks of the stone steps. And then, just as suddenly as it had begun, it was finished. The last enemy fell as Anatolius outstretched his hand and sustained his fiery-grasp until Nyrmax, the Archlich of the Mountain Raxes, melted and evaporated into the air, gone forever from the sight of Athos. He did not look at the Lich as he choked the very essence of existence from him, yet did. He gazed pensively into the fiery abyss before him but it was the flames he watched, not the man, now ghost, and soon oblivion.
When it was over, the vale of flame fell, the wings receded to his back and he stood still, holding the elegant flaming blade in his hand. Athos had gifted this to him in battle, a great honour, to some the greatest to come before the end, and the great final gift of eternal greatness. It was a true Athosian Tool, created not forged. I looked at Anatolius, and peered into him, as was my gift. But I could see not the end, and the answers I sought were shrouded by the Father. Yet still I paused and thought with my own mind, perhaps he will be the one.
The mists of smoke dissipated and the Sun surpassed the threshold of Twilight. The day, and had our enemy, was extinguished. This night the demigods would celebrate, for their brother had achieved a great feat and they were impressed. Yet they celebrated not for envy, but for pride in their brother’s accomplishment. As they prepared to feast, I departed to my home at the foot of the mountain where I greeted my family and took them far from the Shores of Sysitar and the Great Thrones of Earth, into the West and to a new life.