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Nyarlathotep, the Black Pharaoh, is in ancient conflict with other elder gods in his weight class, and seeks to enter the realm of Earth to rule over mankind. Unfortunately, he is prevented from doing so by a barrier that blocks eldritch deities from crossing over. To get around this, he breaks his soul up into thousands of pieces and seeds them into thousands unborn children. These kids become immortal avatars of Nyarlathotep called Nylanders, who do battle with each other over the centuries through one-on-one engagements to the death. When one is killed, the other "eats" the loser and gains their power and memories, absorbing them into themselves. When all pieces of the deity have joined, Nyarlathotep will become whole within one body and would be reborn on the mortal plane. In the end, there can be only one.

As each child is killed/destroyed, the remaining Nylanders' gain that power equally. There is no single benefit to the one who made the kill. As the Nylanders are killed over the centuries, the rate of power absorption would increase each time, with the final two battling being the strongest of their brethren.

As power is shared out over remaining warriors to prevent a major shift in balance toward one individual, this battle is spread out over many millennia. This forces Nyarlathotep's assembly to take longer than what is necessary. What benefit would a deity gain from slowing down his conquest of the mortal realm?

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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the TV show and movies "Highlander". $\endgroup$ – computercarguy Oct 23 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ The question is a bit confusing -- the other "eats" the loser and gains their power and memories, absorbing them into themselves seems to be at odds with the remaining Nylanders' gain that power equally. There is no single benefit to the one who made the kill. $\endgroup$ – John Gordon Oct 24 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ If these people with Nyarlathothep's piece of soul are immortal; what will happen when they find out they are not regular humans? Surely there can't be thousands of Nyarlathotheps on Earth while there's also a Nyarlathoteps on the deity plane, yes? $\endgroup$ – Nuclear03020704 Oct 24 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ @nuclear03020704 You’ve made the classic mistake of assuming you understand the rules the Eldritch Things are bound by. Mere mathematics need not apply!! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 24 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ Worm-style: the shards are gathering creativity because part of the immortality-package is being set in one's ways. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Oct 24 at 20:53

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Time? What is this Time you speak of?

The Elder Gods do not have the same relationship to time as you and I do. Perhaps the length of time was not something he could comprehend before the realm of Earth. Perhaps it is not actually a problem to him as it would seem to a mere mortal. Perhaps it is even of advantage to him -- the longer it take on Earth, the less time will pass in the realm of elder gods "simultaneously."

Experience

Nyarlathotep is aware that he's a novice as a human. The human lives are to gain as much power and experience as possible. That they strive to kill each other also means they strive to attain as much as possible to make that difficult. As an Elder God with the experience of a thousand lives over many years, Nyarlathotep will be much more more powerful than a mere elder god. (For one thing, he will have a better grip on this "time" thing.)

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  • $\begingroup$ good answer! +1 $\endgroup$ – fartgeek Oct 25 at 0:58
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Stealth

The barrier makers also patrol the realms looking out for anyone cheating. If Earth changes very slowly, they are less likely to notice a change and fly in and break up his conquest.

By keeping things slow, they're not going to notice what he's building until it's too late.

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  • $\begingroup$ I feel like the OP is going for a "natural" barrier, (i.e. one that was always there). Making there be a "barrier maker" seems kind of cheap. These are, after all, eldritch deities and they are not bound by "barrier-makers"... $\endgroup$ – fartgeek Oct 25 at 0:57
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Collective Pain.

Since these children are at least partly Nyarlathotep, your deity in question, and the process of reforming involves a painful death there is at least one reason to slow it down. It is painful to Nyarlathotep himself. There could be a theme of a partially collective conscious. Traditionally beings with a collective conscious of any kind are very hesitant to kill their own, as they experience the pain of death. Murder is rare in collectively conscious beings, for that reason (at least of their own).

Remnant Energies or Traits.

Another reason may be that some of his traits and powers must still travel across the barrier in place. Perhaps war and death are a kind of sacrificial energy that could be used in that process. The process of transferring energy across the barrier would have to involve more than simply breaking his soul into pieces, for example. The barrier must be tricked so that the nature of these souls is hidden. Perhaps the soul pieces could not all come down at once (they have to be hidden in returning human souls).

The Cost of Defying Higher Forces

Regardless of the reason there must be a cost involved in breaking through a powerful barrier between worlds. Perhaps rapidly combining would put his plot at risk of being discovered. Barriers like this, powerful enough to hinder the power of eldritch deities must be put in place by something even stronger. Such command of supernatural forces implies that the opposing being or beings is from a higher order and that a confrontation would be costly. At the very least some level of hidden higher order knowledge was responsible for creating the barrier. In the last case, even a small piece of the soul flying through would weaken him and would cause him to have to build strength again over time. The limitations in place from the cost of crossing the barrier should be enough to prevent him from gaining full power, or full awareness, as he struggles to regain himself and gain power over the mortal realm.

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It wasn't part of the original plan

You see, this kind of plan of break your soul into pieces, then incarnate into thousands of children isn't something that would have been done before (that's also why Nyarlathotep took the other gods by surprise with this).

Nyarlathotep expected that when incarnating into someone, Nyarlathotep would be that someone. (Maybe that's what would happen when a godly soul enters into a mortal body) However, what actually happened was that the Nylanders aren't exactly only avatars of Nyarlathotep, but they also have their own desires and agenda. Perhaps, a more powerful soul entering an unborn children would simply make that soul that was going to live there (young and inexperienced so far) to go back to the queue and enter int a different baby instead. But here, it's not a full soul, it's 1/100.000th of a soul. Even being a powerful one, it is too tiny (heh, if it wasn't the barrier would have blocked it) so it got "appended" to the original souls of the Nylanders. As the number of Nylanders decrease, the Nyarlathotep piece on each one is more powerful, but it is now dealing with full-grown souls fully settled on their body.

The ideal outcome for Nyarlathotep would be for all NYlanders but one to commit suicide. As soon as possible.

I don't think Nyarlathotep piecces have a global view of all its parts (i.e. each piece would work independently, although with the same goal). But even then, not knowing how many other Nylanders are out there of it it's appropriate to get rid of this body, it would be simple to organize gatherings of Nylanders, where all cups but one contain poison.

Reality turned out to be quite different. Nyarlathotep just wants one Nylander to be left, it doesn't mind which one. But each Nylander has its own will and wants to be the one left. So, they have been fighting between themselves for centuries.

[Another interesting twist may be each piece of Nyarlathotep soul might develop differently, each taking its own approach, so they may also end up looking like they were different entities. Maybe also affected by the experiences and personality of their host. One piece of Nyarlathotep could be brutal, other more compassionate, a third one might prefer a manipulative approach from the distance...)]

Nyarlathotep is slowly winning, anyway. It was relatively easy to encourage the envy, hate and control wishes of the Naylander souls, so they actually have been following the same goal as Nyarlathotep, but on its own.

(Not to mention the cases where they "betray" Nyarlathotep. The god might want him to go attacking a different Nylander after winning a battle, but the Nylander could instead stop to enjoy the villa of the defeated one, or center its efforts on certain lady. whereas Nyarlathotep would ignore relationships it could not control or abuse)

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Acclimatisation

If you buy a fish from a pet shop and drop it straight into your own fishtank, the sudden temperature change can kill it. Even the laws of physics are different in our realm from those where Nyarlathotep comes from. To survive, it needs to adapt to local conditions, by generating a little bubble of altered reality around it (or whatever hand-waving you prefer).

The original "Nylanders" each have only a tiny piece of Nyarlathotep in them, so they only require a small amount of adaptation - the eldritch part can piggyback off the part that's human. But as they merge, they become more alien and the work required to adapt them to Earth conditions increases, putting a limit on how quickly they can grow.

For a different metaphor, trees that grow quickly tend to have weak, brittle timber.

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Another possibility, it may not have been intentional.

If he didn’t have much control over where all his soul fragments went then they could very well be on opposite ends of the planet. If the world is fairly pre-globalization it could simply be that it takes the better part of a year just to get to the next continent to fight the Nylanders over there.

On top of which they need to actually track each other down (assuming they don’t have any kind of preternatural sense to aid with it). So a single Nylander could spend a few months tracking down this one mercenary captain whose supposedly super boss, only to find out eventually that he’s a plain vanilla human.

And while they are pulling a “there can be only one” scenario, presumedly they don’t want to die. Some may try to avoid battle unless they have the upper hand or make an escape once it’s clear that they’ll lose.

This deity may have preferred everything getting wrapped up in a decade, but logistical issues and the free will of his incarnations unavoidably stretch out the completion of his plan.

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Nyarlathotep (I must say, I love the Lovecraft universe) doesn't want to manifest in the most eager and greedy avatar; it wants to manifest in the most suited avatar. It wants to slow the process down because it wants a thorough competition: each Nylander must be given the chance to show that it is the right host, and so any advantages that are gained purely by happenstance — e.g., being the first to encounter an inexperienced avatar — should be neutralized.

When I (as an avatar) and you (as an avatar) meet in combat, the combat should only reflect our fitness to be host, not our previous experience or out egotistical desires. Nyarlathotep does not care a whit about us; it only wants to manifest in its fullest form. Thus we must try to destroy each other as equals, whatever our history, because only that way will Nyarlathotep know which of us is best.

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Perhaps the avatars could be spread out not only in space, as one answer suggested, but through time as well? One is born in 2000AD, the other in 1989... They'd need to wait for the last one to appear by simply necessity instead of a desire to prolong the conflict.

If I recall correctly, Nyarlathotep also loves to toy and mess with the humans. Perhaps that way he prolongs the fun part of the conquest?

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It was an artistic or creative choice.

The battle between Nyarlathotep and his opponents on their own plane has an aesthetic component. They want to defeat each other, true, but just as important is the ballet of how they do it.

During the long ages that the drama you describe is playing out on Earth, Nyarlathotep is singing to his opponents about it (or some equivalent). He "scores more points" doing it this intricate and time-consuming way than he would score if he took the most direct and ham-handed efficient path possible.

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Horcruxes:

Perhaps the advantage of having no soul in the outer realms is substantial. Once the Nylanders merge into one, your elder god MUST take up residence on Earth. In the meanwhile, he's in the outer realm with no vulnerable soul to get hurt or killed. While it's great to move to Earth, there are limitations, and for now he's taking advantage of getting stuff done in the outer realm while he still can, and with the invulnerability of having no soul.

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Knowledge and humility

The more generations that pass and mortal 'lives' Nyarlathotep experiences the greater his knowledge of the human world, its complexities, its politics, it's cultures etc and with that knowledge comes power.

The more generations that pass and mortal 'lives' Nyarlathotep experiences, with all their joys, pains, hopes and disappointments etc the more empathy and understanding of humanity he gains and (perhaps) the more 'human' he becomes. Then the only question becomes is this a strength or a weakness?

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