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Tessa Temple

Anomalies that appeared soon after the disappearance of Aeli were disregarded for a long time. In the Dark Times, the immortals were busy with other things, so they had no interest in studying strange ghostly trees. Later, when invasions began that ended the Dark Times, no one had time to study the anomalies. Almost everyone was busy fighting, because there were less gods and immortals back then. Only a few gods chose another, peaceful path. Goddess Tessa was among them, and she was referred to as the goddess of flowers, patroness of harvest and the entire plant kingdom.

Young Tessa had been curious about the plants of Aelion even before she became immortal. She put a lot of effort into increasing the crop capacity of the fields, creating new varieties of flowers that are still popular today. Of course, Tessa also studied the animals, but her main interest was always flora. So the trees of unknown origin that had never been seen before could not escape her attention.

They appeared in small clusters in hard-to-get-to and uninhabited places where no human ever set foot. Tessa spent several years trying to find them all, and that was when she found out that these trees did not propagate and their number is finite. It also became clear that they had appeared soon after the disappearance of great god Aeli. Possible connection between Aeli and the plants mystified Tessa, and she decided to open portals in her temple to each cluster of these plants. Metarchus helped her with it - he had just become a great god himself. It was his knowledge of magic that has allowed Tessa’s portals to remain until today.

Tessa studied the ghostly trees for a long time and there were many strange things about them. And even though most gods treated her research condescendingly, she would not abandon her work. Tessa found these trees even in places such as caves and floating islands. When she found out that these plants react to various living creatures differently, Tessa studied this carefully. It turned out that the invading creatures like to be around the ghostly trees, which was not the case for the trees. Tessa presumed that the trees are some sort of the planet’s nervous system, a manifestation of Aelion’s ether body and maybe even Aeli’s. Unfortunately, there are only disjointed notes from her diary that mention these conclusions, as one day, Tessa descended into one of the caves with ghostly trees and disappeared without a trace. Despite many attempts of both gods and Tessa’s adepts, she was never found. Over centuries, Tessa’s order has faded, her temples are abandoned, and there are now dangerous creatures around the ghostly trees that no one chases away.

That was until a curious god named Flavius, born centuries after Tessa’s disappearance, took an interest in the anomalies that were also called the Hostile Territories. The young immortal studied everything he deemed interesting - and abandoned them the moment he stumbled upon things that looked more promising. He discovered that the ghostly trees that grew in the Hostile Territories had unusual roots. They went deep into the ground, growing bigger and branching further to form a complicated system. Flavius determined that at certain length, the roots almost dissolved, becoming more and more transparent. The most curious thing was that it was not just an optical effect. The roots became something of a mirage on their ends, which could be seen but not touched. Flavius spent years studying this effect.

Flavius was very careful with his research - back then, he was not a cocky elder god and knew Tessa’s tragic story pretty well. So all measurements and experiments were carried out remotely. He managed to confirm the energy nature of the ghostly trees and that the roots progressively go into another dimension. That was how Flavius found the first oddity - the one that eventually led him to Distortions. As he studied the new, even more fascinating mystery, Flavius abandoned the ghostly trees. But he still managed to invent something that the immortals of Aelion have been using to this day: the Divine Hunt. The working name - the Hostile Territories - still remains. The name that Tessa had given the trees was too long and flowery, and easily distractible Flavius could not remember it.

Flavius discovered, or better yet - confirmed Tessa’s theory that the invading creatures affected the ghostly trees, as though sucking the energy out of them. In the presence of these creatures, the glow spectrum of the trees slightly changed, which was registered by especially sensitive sensors. It was determined that various creatures affect the glow spectrum in a different way, and long-term influence of various creatures dimmed the glow of the trees. Fortunately, the representatives of various invading army did not tend to join forces, so they never managed to cause the glow to go out completely.

Eliminating the creatures around the tree caused slight ether disturbances and created a special form of energy which can be used by gods. It was as though the trees rewarded those who rid them of alien presence, turning the ether energy of alien creatures into a resource useful to Aelion residents. At least that was what Tessa thought. And Flavius decided to use it for the good of Aelion defenders.

The god scientist created a special system that registered the greatest influence on a tree and notified the immortals which creature was the source. Eliminating this creature caused the highest energy discharge from the tree. Gods and immortals can use it for their own purposes. Ether Resonators, embedded in the trees that - Flavius carried out experiments to prove that - did not affect the trees in any way, allowed the immortals to receive Sparks and other kinds of energy capsules. Flavius had already developed the Atlas by then and taught all gods to use the mass of energy forms to increase their might.

That was how the Divine Hunt came to be, a traditional entertainment for gods and training for immortals. For most hunters, the Hostile Territories are just a source of Sparks and a way to demonstrate their mastery. But in fact, it is a rather complex structure of a planetary scale, and some of its properties are still unknown.

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