Entitled "Out of the Eons" (not to be confused with the Lovecraft tale with a similar title), this short story continues in sequence with all of its predecessors, making Fox's final published Niall story a strange outlier. Of potential interest to historians of the hobby is that the illustrations accompanying this tale are by Kevin Siembieda, who'd already been doing artwork for Judges Guild by this point in time and would soon go on to found Palladium Books. "Out of the Eons" begins with the Far Traveler unwittingly freeing a being called Adonair, who is described by a goddess in human guise as
"A god-being from far away -- so far that even we gods and goddesses have only heard faint whispers of his birthing place. He came here eons ago, liked what he saw about him and made this world his own."Reading this passage I'm reminded that one of the things I like most about the Niall stories is the way Fox describes the gods of the setting. The phrase "god-beings" is used often, which suggests to me that they are "gods" in the way similar to Lovecraft's Great Old Ones -- they're immensely powerful and otherworldly but not necessarily "divine" in the usual sense. Adonair definitely has a Lovecraftian vibe to him, I found myself thinking of Gygax's Tharizdun, even though I'm certain that dread deity had been created well before this story was published.
She shuddered. "But he was evil. Evil! He made men his slaves, his -- playthings. Against him the people cried out. We heard their calls, their prayers, in those other -- spaces -- where we dwell. We heard, we came. We fought Adonair and reduced him to a green flame, but we could not kill him. And so, as a green flame he has dwelt here for uncounted centuries."
In any event, "Out of the Eons" places the gods at front and center. Through the intercession of one deity, Niall is taken in his dream to a council of the gods, where the All-Father, their seeming leader, elects to send a goddess named Thallatta to Niall in human form so as to aid him in returning Adonair to his prison. Niall must do this not because of any special destiny but because he was responsible for freeing Adonair in the first place. Thalatta, on the other hand, seems to have taken a powerful liking to Niall, for reasons that become more apparent as the story progresses.
"Out of the Eons" is, like most of the entries in Niall's saga, a fun read. I must admit to liking this one more than some, because of the additional details it gives about the gods and their relationship to the world of mortals. That surprises me a bit, since, in general, I prefer deities to remain aloof and even unknowable in fantasy settings (that's certainly the tack I took in Dwimmermount) rather than as undeniably involved and/or meddling in human affairs. Yet, that's just what we get in "Out of the Eons" and I loved it. Go figure.