He returned to me then. Zaros. My Lord. My creator. His words were these:

'I had always seen you as a failure, Nex. Between the time of your creation and my banishment I spared little thought to you beyond what small use you could provide to me as a tool. In that, I was wrong. The failure was mine. I created you and your kind to fulfil a purpose, to demonstrate my mastery over anima and the creation of life. That you failed to fulfil that purpose is no responsibility or fault of yours. In every other area I could ask for, you have exceeded expectation.

'Your role is to watch over the younger gods, but even you cannot stand against them directly now that the edicts have fallen. To that end I present you with a gift - a gift I promised you millennia ago but have been unable to fulfil: the four power stones that were used to create your kind. They are the pure embodiment of the elemental forces of the lower worlds: smoke, shadow, ice and blood.

'I created the stones as a pure focus for the dark elements to aid in my work creating the nihil, but I no longer need them for that purpose and I now have access to more sophisticated tools. For you, especially because of your heritage, they should prove extremely useful. The strength you can draw from them will empower you for your tasks to come.

'Each of the stones was formed from the essence of a powerful inhabitant of the lower worlds. I created the stone of smoke from the remains of an especially large smoke demon from Infernus. Smoke demons are amongst the most inscrutable of demons, close in nature and in location to the heart of their world, and a powerful embodiment of that element.

'I created the stone of shadow from the essence of one thousand and one shadow cacklers from the shadow realm. Though individually weak, they are powerful in large concentration, but far less risky than hunting down one of the true leviathans that lurk in the deep places of that realm.

'The stone of blood was once the bloody matriarch of Vampyrium. This trueborn vampyre was the mother of my once-servant Drakan, and during my time on Gielinor had fallen from my loyal service and grown corpulent in the manner of ancient Hostilius.

'Finally I created the stone of ice from an arch-glacor on the frozen world of Leng. These creatures, that tower ten or a hundred times taller than their smaller kin, dominate the landscape of that brutal and inhospitable wasteland.

'I must go now to confront Sliske. I will take Azzanadra, Char, and Vindicta with me, but in my absence I need you to remain and keep watch for treachery on the part of my sister or any of the lesser gods.'

And then he left, and once he was gone, I wept for his acceptance of me.

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