The war of the four mortal races against the everlasting was fought not just beneath the darkest regions of Lordran but throughout the whole of the earth. Gwyn built his castle and capital atop the highest mountain overlooking the First Flame, but many of his commanders settled elsewhere. As such, there were a multitude of minor, local gods even before the greatest of their number fled Anor Londo. Of these regional gods, one of the most powerful as the Age of Fire faded was the Flame God, Flan. Though Light fled the limbs of his fellows, he had built his power upon a volcanic mountain range, and in his own lands, he was mighty as ever.

It was to Flan's court that the Princess of Sunlight fled when her father's was abandoned. An alliance was sealed in marriage, and the power of Light was preserved over the dying world. Pontificate all he might, the Allfather lacked the strength to extend the Way of White beyond Thorolund and its neighbors. His holy relics were fading, and soon, his clerics would realize their power was derived of their own strength of soul. Only in the mountainous west did the gods reign as they once did the world over, and it was for that reason that Lloyd had sent emissary after emissary seeking the Flame God's aid.

Of course, when the gods found themselves suddenly restored, these visits slowed and changed from desperate pleas for assistance to mere diplomatic posturing. Little time had passed before the priests treated this duty as a punishment and hardly bothered to hide their arrogance. Having to come this far west, to the rough and untamed mountains, was a disgrace for a proud Thorolunder. Without the danger of the coming Dark, the schism between the Allfather in the center and the Princess in the west would finally begin to fester.

Only, before the decade was out, their attitude changed yet again. Neither desperate nor snobbish, for once they seemed as if they truly wished to resolve their differences and bring the gods into harmony once more. As the years passed, though, the old desperation crept in, and even the revitalized Church could keep the truth suppressed no longer. First the whispers of traveling merchants and then the wild tales of mercenaries – demons were spilling out of the north, out of Lordran. If the world was to endure, the gods must band together once more.

Or so Lloyd's ambassadors had implied. Frankly, Flan was skeptical, but something was definitely happening. Astora, Thorolund's northwestern neighbor, had always held strong connections to the church – so strong that its elite knights were all considered holy warriors. Catastrophic mismanagement of the Undead crisis had caused a populist revolt, and the republic that followed had cut ties with the Church and its doctrine of a monarch's divine right. Now, it was said, the Astoran senate debated moving against their former ally.

That, at least, was worth investigating. If the overbearing Allfather's commandments were abhorred, then perhaps a more distant patron's would find root. While he made preparations to send his priesthood to distant Astora, he moved to his easternmost residence so that he might receive any news a few days earlier. Though hardly as grand as his palace, it was an impressive structure, dug into the side of the volcano itself by the ancestors of the humans who lived in their primitive wooden huts below. The keep harnessed the mountain's power to provide every amenity, and as such, the small contingent of guards he brought with him were kept happy and alert.

It was not the sort of place that could simply be broken into, which is why the god was so confused as to why a hooded figure approached his throne unbidden while he discussed the Astora campaign with his chief minister. The bulky intruder's features were indistinguishable beneath a worn black cloak, and as it approached, a human rushed in from another entrance closer to the throne, panting.

"My Lord, an intruder has-! You! Reveal yourself if you value your life!"

The uniformed man quickly cut off the intruder's path, steel flashing as he drew his straightsword. He was a stern-looking middle-aged man with a sharp mustache and sharper eyes. Though in some disarray from his sprint over, his gold-trimmed uniform was clean and well cared-for.

"I beg forgiveness, my Lord! I don't know how this ruffian managed-!"

"It is all right, Captain Donner. You are only human."

The voice that erupted from the deity was a throaty crackle like sudden thunder. Though nowhere near his wife's size, he was easily one of the largest living deities, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a giant of Gough's stature. His short red hair was wild and untamed, and his beard bristled like flame. In contrast to his ruddy skin, he wore robes of ivory and gold to emphasize his status as rightful ruler of the gods. A broad smile crossed his broad face.

"Sheathe your sword, Donner. Come, stranger! Any who has bested my men is worthy of my attention!"

Though he said that, he yet still was cautious, leaning on his scepter, which was at once a greatclub and a torch. The captain of the guard wrinkled his nose in disgust but did as he was told, taking his place at his Lord's right hand. The intruder made no indication of having heard the deity and continued without pause until reaching the steps before the throne. There at last, it knelt, golden lining on the robe glittering in the torchlight.

"Flame God Flan," a woman's voice said flatly. "Your brother and king, the Dark Sun, requests your aid in subduing the rebel Lloyd and the human-ruled lands beyond Lordran."

"Brother? King? The Dark Sun is a she, and it is to me that rule passed. Run home to your fool masters, little impostor, before my good humor is spoiled."

"If you believe that is so, then your wife has much to tell you."

"First there is talk of demons. Now my wife is a liar, and her sister is my king. I grow weary of these envoys who think I am some country rube."

"You have never seen a demon?" the intruder said quickly, raising her head. "Let me show you."

She threw back her hood to reveal a face just slightly too long to be human. Two heart-shaped sockets held three eyes each, glowing red with the madness of Chaos. The rest of her features were human, though chitinous plates ran up from her neck to cover the bottom of her chin. Her brown-black hair was a wild mane the ends of which occasionally caught flame.

"Princess Asura of Izalith. If you refuse this summons, you will be branded rebel."

"Izalith! Now I recognize that uniform! So that sorcerous mutant of a princess decided to cast her lot with the demon-witches!" Flan laughed. "Fine! Let them hate me!

Everyone demands my help as if it is owed them! They make such outlandish threats if I do not comply! How will you retaliate, little monster? What army can reach me here? Who would brave the mountains of flame?"

"My uncle has lava for blood and is four times the size of Lord Gwyn. I'm warning you: if you refuse your sworn responsibilities, you will be stripped of your deific status and exiled."

"An empty threat. Leave me, or suffer the wrath of flame!"

"This is your third and final warning. I have been more than patient, 'Flame God' Flan, but I have to visit your wife before the end of the week, so get on with your pigheaded show of resistance."


The sound of six explosions rattled off in sequence. The reason for the princess' strangely bulky form was at last revealed as the gold-hemmed cloak settled again atop six naturally-armored arms, each holding a strange silver device ending in a long tube that smoked at the end. The god clutched at his chest as scarlet stained his immaculate robes. Soon, the panic fled his eyes as rage took its place. He brushed the burning end of his scepter across his wounds, sealing them and burning away the upper part of his robe.

"Of course it wouldn't be that easy," Asura complained.

The minister quickly fled and the guard captain drew his sword once more, but the god motioned him back as he rose to tower over the room.

"Heel, Donner. This creature is mine to destroy."

The flame spread from his torso to cover the whole of his upper body as he raised the burning scepter. He swung it with enough force to shatter the floor of volcanic stone, but the demon had flitted away on threads that could only be seen when they glimmered in the torchlight. She flipped through the air and fired a second volley into Flan's left arm as he was forced to use it as a shield. The god clenched his fist in rage and agony as his blazing aura stopped the bleeding and caused liquid metal to pour from the wounds. Quickly, he swatted at the threads, but even his great strength wasn't enough to snap the demon silk.

He decided on the second best option and swung his scepter through them with enough force that the demon was flung to the floor as they stretched. Even there, she was mostly unfazed, her exoskeleton having taken the brunt of the blow. The enormous god hardly had to finish his first step to reach her, though she fired upward into his sandal as he did so.

"What are you waiting for?!" she yelled.

"Don't worry, little demon! Your death will not be long!"

"Not you!"

A shadow dripped from the darkest corner of the ceiling and whisked across the floor. Only as it reached him did the god make out the impossibly fast thing as a second intruder in dark blue. A stark white, long-snouted mask was all that could be made out clearly as he quickly retreated. The evasion mattered little as the figure spun in place and threw itself toward him again. He swung his scepter defensively, but even that was futile as it fell down on all fours and lunged between his legs.

Behind his back, it slung a pair of curved swords to the ready, one silver and one black. It slashed at both his Achilles' tendons before dancing away and up the side of the wall. The demon fired her third blast, and with his legs so damaged, he easily lost his balance. As he fell, his other assailant leapt from the wall and dug both blades into his right shoulder. Abruptly, he lost all power in his arm, and his scepter clattered away as he struck the ground.

"Do you think you've beaten me?!" Flan fumed. "I'll destroy this entire mountain!"

"Fireproof," Asura jeered as she paced around to look him in the eye, six revolvers trained on his good arm. "Cambion, get to it!"

Donner, who had watched the fight without interfering, nodded and approached the fallen deity.

"You don't have to shout, sis," he sighed, raising his sword.

"WHAT!" Flan raged. "DONNER, YOU-!"

"Donner's a bit tied up right now," the man replied with a wry smile.

The furious god twisted to kick at him, but another set of bullet holes in his arm and a pair of blades at his throat convinced him otherwise.

The guard captain spun it about his head, and there was a strange jingling like the sound of bells. As it completed its revolution, it was instead a sounding staff, six rings spinning about its head. The decorated officer's uniform was instead a rather flattering gold-hemmed black robe. Donner's face had begun to melt like wax, and with his free hand, the young man wiped the last of it away. With one final chime from the rings, the staff began to shine like the sun.

Cambion, as he was called, began to float and quickly aligned the staff over Flan's heart. The god's body wretched as his massive soul was forcibly drawn out, a shard of Gwyn's at its heart. The sorcerer-cleric made arcane signs in the air, and a gray-black hole opened in the air just long enough for him to put the soul inside. Without that enormous energy to sustain him, Flan rapidly began to wither. The massive body that was the purest symbol of his might shrank until he was short even by human standards.

The demon princess sighed with relief and began reloading her handguns while her masked ally tied up the exhausted deity with spider silk. Cambion, meanwhile, warped space with the weight of Dark, looking down a different hallway through each ring on his staff.

"We've got about a minute before the guards come rushing in."

As he turned to Asura, the resemblance became apparent. Though he was much better groomed than the wild gunslinger – and lacking multiple eyes and an exoskeleton, of course – they had the same narrow nose, thick lips, and wispy eyebrows. More vital, the subtle madness of Chaos gleamed behind their red eyes.

"Report. We've collected the Flame God's soul and are readying his body for extraction. No human casualties. We'll proceed to the next target after dropoff. Understood. Yes. Yes… I love you too, Dad."

"Awww! You're still daddy's little girl!" Asura mocked.

"You know, this is why I always let you get slapped around before I save you."

"Oh my Flame, the two of you are actually worse than Mom and Ciaran! Jackie, you should be setting the example as the oldest!"

"Actually, you're the one who's sounding like my mom, Cammy. Are you really twins? Are you sure you're not my brother and Quelaag didn't just decide to steal a nicer baby than Ass-ura?"

The hexer sighed and looked at the images in his staff.

"Time to go."