The Untold Truth, Part Two
Exterminis, free from his prison at last, blew the Trumpet of Judgment. Seven times did he blow.
Once, for the fire giants to the south.
Twice, for the ice giants to the north.
A third time, for Tiamat the Great Dragon.
A fourth time, for Leviathan deep in the depths, whom he knew as Jormungand.
A fifth time, for the wolves who chase the sun and moon.
A sixth time, for Fenrir the Mighty.
And a seventh time, for all to know that the end had come.
In the intolerable cold of the impossibly long Winter, the gods and heroes of a thousand pantheons fought against Exterminis and his army of chaos and destruction. One by one, they fell to the darkness until only twenty gods remained.
Twenty, out of the thousands who had once ruled the universe.
It had been a great battle, but it was over. The survivors huddled together in fear, hiding from the Lord of Chaos and Destruction. They knew they could not win. Death was coming for them.
Hephaestus, the great God of Metalworking, Fire, and Forge, devised a plan to save them. He would take their fears, and from those fears he would forge a prison to hold the Lord of Chaos. Whenever the gods gazed upon his unholy terror, the bars of the prison would become stronger. Such bars could never weaken, for the fear of Exterminis would never leave the hearts of the gods. One by one the gods poured their fears into Hephaestus’ mighty cauldron.
Hephaestus knew the fears of the gods would not be enough. And so, he would also forge chains from Exterminis’ own hatred. Such chains could never weaken, for the hatred of the Destroyer could never abate.
Trusting Hephaestus to finish his greatest work, the gods knew it was time for them to leave. Thoth, the God of Magic, raised his magical quill and pierced the veil between the worlds. He tore the fabric of reality and opened a portal to another universe. Eighteen gods stepped through the portal and closed it behind them, leaving behind Hephaestus and one other.
Thor, that flame-haired and lava-bearded warrior, friend to all humanity, and now savior of the gods, strode forth from the cave, and out into the sea to face Exterminis in one final battle. He knew he could not win. Indeed, he knew he was destined to lose. But it did not matter to him. What had to be done…had to be done.
As Thor stepped into the surf, the sea began to boil. Up from the depths rose Jormungand, Exterminis astride him like an unholy knight of evil and hatred. There, next to the cave where Hephaestus worked, Thor stood alone against Exterminis and Jormungand.
Seven times seventy days did their battle rage, with each god striking fearsome blows against the other, and yet neither falling. Jormungand thrashed about violently, engulfing the entire world in tidal waves and sending sea spray high into the heavens. Exterminis rained hellfire and lava down upon the mighty Thor and ordered entire legions of demons to their doom against Mjolnir, Thor’s blessed hammer.
Thor, for his part, called lightning and thunder to his aid, and hurled his powerful hammer against his foes time and time again. Many times he split the mountains, causing great earthquakes and terrible avalanches to pummel the Lord of Destruction and his serpentine steed. Earth and Thunder and Lightning were his weapons, as much as his blessed hammer.
Through it all, Hephaestus worked diligently at his forge, paying no attention to the calamities outside the cave. He poured the fears of the gods into the great mold and hammered with all his might and wisdom. When he finished the cage, he sealed the magic within the bars using his own divine life force.
Weakened, but still strong with purpose and determination, he dared to venture out from the cave. Seeing Exterminis locked in battle with Thor, both of them bloody and near death, Hephaestus was mightily terrified, and felt his own fear pouring into the cage behind him. Satisfied that his plan was working, he collected the hatred of Exterminis in his magical cauldron. When the cauldron was full, he carried it back inside, and began forging the chains.
Whether Hephaestus knew the consequences of his actions that day or not, none can say. But what is known is that taking Exterminis’ hatred away weakened him, and allowed Thor to land a mighty blow that knocked the Eternal Enemy unconscious. His master laid low, Jormungand, the mighty Leviathan, fell to Thor and Mjolnir quickly, but not before releasing all of his terrible venom into Thor.
It is well known that Thor took nine final steps before succumbing to Jormungand’s venom. What is lesser known is that in those final steps, Thor delivered the unconscious body of Exterminis to Hephaestus in the cave.
Three steps to gather the Lord of Hatred.
Three steps to reach the forge.
Three steps to wrap him in chains and place him in his cage.
Thus, Thor, mightiest of heroes and gods, died. Hephaestus used Thor’s divine power to seal the magic inside Exterminis’ chains. With one final gasping, ragged breath, Hephaestus locked the cage. Then, Hephaestus, last of the gods in this realm, joined his friend Thor in death.