The World's End
With the birth of Heavensunder, the death of the gods transitioned from vague fantasy to painful reality. A powerful, but deadly material, the production of Heavensunder to be spread over weapons was a well-kept secret, guarded by corporations who snapped up the rights to manufacture and stole processing plant designs from one another. A thick coating applied to a blade was nigh invisible to the naked eye; no god expected to have their magic wrenched from their being in a single stab.
But they learned. Quickly.
The Advent of God-Hunters
The first deaths were brutal, swift acts of violence; a lesser god caught unawares, a demigod out to dinner. Public confusion erupted soon after - questioning why, how, and who. But as the populace recoiled, seeking answers, the gods adapted - closing off their public appearances, restricting visitors, and speculating in hushed voices what could have caused the murders and who would have arranged for them. In short - finding more magic to harvest would become difficult.
The corporations were not deterred. In quiet, they scooped up the destitute and orphaned, providing food, shelter, and water as they tested them rigorously. Those who passed the initial round of testing were pushed further and further, their phyiscal limits expanded, their reaction times primed, their skill unmatched. And when they pressed up against the ceiling of their talents, their children would carry the torch in their stead - until the corporations placed a Heavensunder dagger in their hands, satisfied with their progress.
When the first of these assassins was unleashed onto the estate of a lesser god, it was little more than a massacre.
The Cold Struggle
Society did not collapse all at once. It took time for the gods to discover the corporations' work as it did the corporations tinkering at the gods' defenses. As news of the mortals' betrayal was uncovered, the Harmonics and Chaotics met to discuss what should be done - but came away conflicted, unable to agree on a specific path. Some wanted to seek out the traitorous directors and owners to personally kill them - while others felt that doing such would only encourage further retaliation. As their highers struggled to come to a conclusion, the lesser gods were left to their own devices, adapting to the sudden new world the best they could.
But that was not to say that they were helpless. Mortals, employees - upon discovering a company's involvement in the murder - planted bombs, attacked their superiors, murdered their executives. Supply chains collapsed as did structured society, slowly and painfully, bit by bit. Those who remained loyal to companies and managers were promised rewards of eternal pleasure in the eden that the new gods would create, and bitterly defended them against the horrified onslaught of other mortals. And as society degenerated, and the only safe pockets remained those controlled by the corpos, some unwillingly crossed the line to join them - terrified of the alternatives.
And the corporations continued in secret, refining and adjusting their god-hunters in parallel with the gods. The race seemed never-ending: if the gods cut down one head of the hydra, several smaller corps squabbled over the remains of the old, divided up their assets, and plunged their own hunters into the scene in its place. And as the hunters cut through the lesser gods, they too were changed - exposed to godblood constantly, washed in it, revelling in it - and their bodies and minds shifted, minutely, towards true immortality.
The Hunt of the Harmonics & Chaotics
To the average denizen of the world, struggling to supply their family with food, picking through the remains of their neighbor's house, there was a nugget of optimism regarding the hunts. After all, their faith in the gods was secure - how strong could a mortal be against the brunt of the most powerful gods? Of course, the murderers had some sort of powerful weapon that could harm gods - but they had only succeeded in killing lessers. It was awful, but it was not world-ending. It was repulsive, but it would be stopped.
Such wishful thinking ended with the murder of the Chaotic of Decay, Ysaase.
Reality struck like lightning. The gods were dying. They were outmatched by mere mortals in the form of god-hunters. Or were they even mortal anymore? Filled with stolen godblood, remnants of the supply they delivered faithfully to their creators - could they even resemble the humble mortal, scavenging for morsels of food, constructing temporary shelter?
No matter. The public tide had shifted, as more and more civilians became dependent on the corpos for sustenance. Rather than horror at the perversion of the world's natural order, it was encouraged and celebrated with a kind of feral glee. If the gods were so weak that mere mortals could fell them, then by what right did they have to lord over those mortals? Did the mantle of "god" not properly belong to one strong enough to enforce it, smart enough to plan to attain it, and powerful enough to set hunters into motion?
Though the identities of the hunters were obscured, they came to be known regardless - identified through their style of killing, their skill, and their kill-count. They gained nicknames and fans, the popular new centres of culture - encouraged and beloved. When they moved to hunt the Harmonics and Chaotics, they were accompanied by friendly bets and devoted followers - and all watched with bated breath as one hunter eked out a lead over the others.
The Sunset Days
That hunter came to be known as the Godblood Leech, their skill efficient, deadly, and clean. As they crossed off names of the Harmonics and Chaotics, it became known that they were the one to fell Ysaase - the one who broke the ground of this new stage of the world. They were often flanked on missions by one or two other hunters, serving as combat support and backups, but rarely did the Leech fall back to them, their talent so obvious.
They appeared a handful of times, cloaked head-to-toe in obscuring robes, a hood pulled over their face. Lesser hunters and workers spoke of their blank, cold stare, nearly lifeless save for their eyes flicking around the room, seemingly scanning for enemies unseen.
But the Great Hunt was winding down. The font of gods had become a mere trickle as only a handful of Harmonics and Chaotics remained, and most were well into hiding, having disappeared years ago. There was, however, a single noteworthy name left: Satetwer, Harmonic of Water.
Satetwer had killed any hunter who approached him with impudence. There was no discussion, no negotiation, no foolish idealism - simply a golden knife through their throat, and the ritualistic consumption of their stolen magic. He had become the face of the remaining resistance, but trusted no mortals - turning them away when they begged for help, too paranoid to trust any one individual. He did not strike preemptively at the corpos, but made it clear that if they continued serving him magic on a platter, he would challenge their authority eventually.
The Leech downed him the following week.
The End of the World
With Satetwer's death, however, the world imperceptibly shifted. The magic cycle, grounded by the presence of gods and governed by the Harmonics and Chaotics, was wholly disrupted once Satetwer's magic was consumed.
It all collapsed.
Unexplainable events chained across the known world. Landmasses shifted, continents shattered, wells ran dry. Raw magic in the atmosphere cracked and warped the air and seas - water flowing upwards, gaps in reality, tears through space. Liquid magic snaked through cracked earth like a disease, poisoning those who came into contact with it and contaminating water supply. Chunks of land rose into the sky and froze, leaving behind deep and dark caverns looming. Sunny tropics chilled into snow-choked beaches; ice sheets melted into grotesque swamps. Mountains and hills shifted, crushing corpo strongholds and pockets of resistance alike.
And as god-hunters and their creators died, their magic blend into the atmosphere - only furthering these unnatural changes.
Slowly, the world stabilized in its new form. Earthquakes no longer shattered the remains of houses, landslides did not bury innocents, floods did not reclaim the earth.
But it did not recover. It could not.
Life squirms in the aftermath - survival the only focus. There is no one left who could repair how deeply the world's foundations have been broken. There is no hope of salvation, of rescue, of returning to a society that thought itself grandoise enough to murder its gods. But life still struggles - clawing, tooth and nail, in the broken and ruined existence that is now its home.
It is a corruption of what it once was, but it exists - and resilience is all it has left.