Pan was livid. The numerous cults in his name were dwindling, their members either converting to other gods for protection or being destroyed outright by agents of his rivals. The revelries were still happening, but they were in the name of ‘the end of times’ instead of ‘the God of Celebration.’ He had been forced to inspire the mortals more, and had been sending out more satyrs to propagate among them in hopes of having more loyal childer than fair-weather followers. As such, he still held onto his domain of revelry, but the situation left him more taxed than ever before. So Pan decided it better to retreat to his grove, hoping that the nymphs would energize him. He would regret their sacrifice, but desperate times called for it. He would take their remains and make more, when he had enough power to do so.
When he arrived, the God of Celebration was floored by its state. The vegetation was burned to the ground, with many trees and bushels still burning with green balefire. The mortals that had tended to them were slaughtered, though in such a manner that did not betray any suffering. Their deaths were too quick, he thought, to act as sacrifices. No, that fate belonged to the very nymphs he was there for; their beauty had been defiled by dark magic, and all resembled statues of hags in various states of pain. Pan could sense no magic emanating from them, save for one who he had caught in the act of debasement.
The creature responsible for this carnage had a tendril wrapped around the nymph, draining her life-force and causing so great a suffering that she could do nothing but stare at her God in hopes that he would deliver her from this evil. Pan took a step back and turned his head down, rejecting her plea for salvation and condemning her to such a cruel fate. Before he could drop to all fours and flee, the terrible being called out to him.
“Pan…where do you think there is to go? All of your groves will become ours. All of your followers will bow to us. And your name will be forgotten. You will be a god no longer. And the Mistress will have to do nothing to end your reign. You best run and hide, since this world has no use for you. Perhaps the next will, if you can survive when they come.”
“Like your Mistress thinks she can? She does not understand what they are. I do. And regardless of what she does, she will not be ready for the truth.”
The creature took a few steps toward Pan, who dropped to all fours, as if getting ready to sprint away.
“The Mistress will be ready for anything. Every possibility has been divined by her wisdom, and every ounce of potential will be harvested by us in her name, so that we may survive.”
“Why do you believe her now, when you ran from her enlightenment in the past,” the God asked, before beginning to flee. He did not get far, before the creature leaped toward him, huge white wings aiding him and allowing him to come crashing down on Pan.
“Because she has made me more than I was,” the creature said, wrapping an inky-black tendril around Pan’s neck. The God had exhausted too much of his own powers to resist, and felt whatever was remaining slowly sapped away by the creature. It then drew its weapon, an axe empowered in equal measure by titan’s blood and the soul of the creature trapped within. Pan felt the ground around him begin to freeze, inch by inch, as the tendril let go of him.
“You should have never forsaken me,” the creature said, before slashing at the God’s neck. Pan’s head separated from his shoulders, but the weapon caused whatever humors that burst from the wounds to freeze. His corpse quickly followed suit, his skin turning icy blue and his fur sloughing off. When his corpse was frozen solid, the creature’s single tendril turned into many, and lifted the corpse off the ground.
“Rise, my children,” it said, before tossing it in the direction of the petrified nymphs. The body shattered, and whatever tainted essence that had lingered found its way to the nymphs’ forms. Where once they were still, they began to twist and turn, as if reborn. Their beauty was replaced by infernal majesty, and one-by-one, the nymph-hags moved toward the creature, before bowing in subservience to their maker.
“The ritual is complete, my mistress.” And Hecate was now Goddess of Indulgence and Enlightenment.