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Hidden 6 days ago Post by Enzayne
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Enzayne Invading Eldar

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Neiya





Darkness.

It had happened in an instant. Almost as if the fabric of reality had wanted to punish her for teaching a single mortal a lesson, the air around the lake - the very clouds in the sky - had seemed to still. The walls of the world began to disintegrate around her, the lake and the forest warping out of view, and Neiya was dragged into the void before she truly understood what was happening.

There was only darkness. No sights. No sounds. She screamed, and felt her voice fall into an abyss from which there was no echo. She moved, but there was nothing to guide her senses. Just an inky, endless void. All she could perceive was herself. The gods were gone, the horizon was missing, the-... Neiya drew a deep breath in her prison of the void. It was quiet. Still. She could no longer hear the whispers. No longer did the maelstrom of mortal emotion, wants and needs course ceaselessly into her mind. The torture had stopped. For the first time since she opened her mind to the world upon her birth, she was free. Free to think, to feel. And yet, with nothing to see, to feel, what good was it now? It didn’t change anything, it didn’t take away the pain that had already left its mark on her soul.

She battled against the darkness for what felt like an eternity, careening through the void in search of something. Anything. All she had was the bitterness, that feeling of helplessness. What had transpired between her and mortals, between her and the gods. She pondered upon Fìrinn’s words - was this the great change it had spoken of? It had to be; and if it were, was this what mortal death was like? Or was it like it had said - truly different, but not necessarily the end? Did it matter? There was nothing. Nothing to do. Nothing to feel. She did not know how long she stayed like this, but eventually she found herself missing the sensation of the mortal maelstrom. The dearth of any sensation left her longing for what once was. It had been mind-numbing, toxic, and uncontrollable. An endless flood of pain, misery and lovelorn cries for help. It had also been joy, companionship, warmth. However fleeting, it had been there. Her brief peace in the storm. Now there was nothing. Nothing to cherish, or to distract, or even to suffer. Just darkness.

And so the goddess cried, alone with her thoughts.

But it did not last forever. At first it was a whisper, intermittent and weak. Then the sensation began to return, brief tingling of emotion and mortal longing. Every sensation became an event, a moment of elation. Even intense grief - fleeting and weak as it was - became something to look forward to. It was something, anything, to distract from the loneliness, if only for a moment. It became stronger, clearer, until she could feel the tug of the maelstrom again. The endless roil of mortal wants all at once. Then she heard her own name. Someone calling out for her. It was quiet and distant, but enough to hear the request. A simple wish for assurance. Neiya gathered her focus and responded. A simple response to a simple request, she stilled the mortal’s heart and worry, if only for a time. In that moment, she felt joy. Galbar was no longer beyond her reach. The God of Truth had been right, in some way. It was just new. She exhaled sharply and spun in her void.

That elation did not last either. As the maelstrom grew in intensity, so too did the overbearing sorrow. Once more did her own emotions tangle intrinsically with that of mortals, and peace and warmth became a fleeting event to cherish. The whispers grew to a roar of demands, anguished crying, and declarations of love. She heard her name many times over the coming decades, and she passed the time by meting out judgement over those who used her name. To call upon her selfishly was to ask for her displeasure, and as she learned to follow praying mortals in mind, she lived vicariously through them. To see the oaf who asked for his partner never to find out about his lover get what was coming to him was as fulfilling as seeing two true lovers declare their love for eachother.

Those who cursed her name did so having walked foolishly into their own doom. There was only one whose prayers she duly ignored. The woman she had punished was walking the land, and she did not seem to ever give up attempting to contact her. Each attempt filled Neiya with bitter memories of her actions, of the lake, of the moon goddess. She would be ignored until the end of time. Instead Neiya closed out her immediate - dark - surroundings, and gave herself entirely to the stream of emotions surging into her from Galbar. She lost track of time, not that she had kept track of it from the start. She affixed herself to the happiness of mortals, cried with them, mourned as they did, and hoped for the right response with butterflies in her stomach as they did. The cycle was never ending. There was always a mortal in need, in pain, in elation.

Neiya did not care about their lives, or the sweeping changes of the land, or even what snippets of knowledge she could glean from her perch in the void. She cared about the moments, the build-up, the disappointment, the sadness. The use of her name grew as she applied her blessing with what she felt was an even hand. She was cursed for her fickleness, but she knew it was them. They brought suffering upon themselves, and all she did was allow them to do as they pleased. That was the cycle. This was what she was born to do. Allow them to want, long for, hurt, and lose. Each moment of happiness always ended the same way. Some long. Some short. In the end, there was always sorrow, hollow words, betrayal. She felt her sour disposition return - or perhaps it had never left her. She found herself viewing a mortal man who asked for a blessing - he would confess his love the next day. She felt his desire to be with this woman. Together forever. She felt a twinge of pain; her own loneliness bubbling to the surface. With a release of her breath, Neiya sparked doubt in his mind. Watched him worry, and pass his crush by. It was better this way. His desire remained, but now he would never be disappointed. Now she could put her own emotions aside, and set her focus elsewhere.

So it went, for many cycles of love, heartbreak, and trust gained and lost. Neiya could not tell if she spent centuries or millennia or mere decades in her routine. She always had something to do, someone to watch or respond to. As the time passed, she began to exert her will even in her void. She made a new river, the fixture of her birth. And with a river, she needed land. She decorated it with trees, and in an especially happy few seconds, she populated it with butterflies. That too seemed to last only for a time, as the ground grew progressively bleak, the water turned cold, and the trees wilted and regrew in a perpetual cycle of beauty and loss. Disappointed with her creation, she sequestered herself deep in her new landscape, shaping a small outlook where her river began, and molded a place to sit down after what she had observed of the mortal realm.

So she sat on her modest throne, staring at the river running along endlessly on her bleak plains, listening to the pleas of the unfortunate, the despairing, and the deeply passionate. After a time she had seen all the patterns. Mortals - in all the shapes they came in - could only seem to innovate so many ways to break each other's trust, or declare their fleeting bonds of kinship and intimacy. For the first time since her reconnection to the maelstrom of emotion, she began to feel her own loneliness.

Was this her punishment? Was this-... Neiya searched her mind for the moon goddess name. Gibbou. Was this her doing? Would she ever see another of her kind again? Fìrinn. Cadien. Would she be alone forever, in this prison of her own making?

Almost as though the walls of reality had her thoughts, a shimmering tear broke on a faraway plain in her realm. Her presence by it was instantaneous, curiosity drowning out the roar of emotions from the world beyond. She heard voices. Sensed other beings. It was-.. Liberation.

Perhaps she wouldn’t be alone, she thought to herself, as the pale love goddess drifted through the tear in spacetime.


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Hidden 6 days ago 6 days ago Post by Kho
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Kho

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The Kavijama | the thing of ink & poetry | The Hibrach

&
Lucia


The three moons lit up the shifting heavens of the night, and across the prairie a blanket of calm swamped all things. The streams ran swiftly, their pure cool waters sending out a gentle spray and soft sleepy song. The creatures of the night moved silent and quick, freezing every now and then at a perceived sound or movement… before scurrying on. Here and there a guardian bison stood, like a mountain in the grass, snorting or grunting while the others slept.
By the sleeping form of his beloved sat the poet god, a mountain in a temple, his eyes worshipping her every breath and every rise and fall of her chest. He watched the softly shifting tattoos that swirled lazily across her sublime form, now and again pulsing with sunlight and now and then growing as though they were a great gold beating heart. To watch her was to tremble and yearn, and to tremble and yearn was to sigh and weep, and to weep was to paint the walls with his unendurable agony and joy.

And as had been the case every night since his heart had known Lucia’s hallowed name - every night, that was, other than the one that Gibbou had permitted them wakefulness throughout and which they savoured again and again - his eyes knew no sleep and his inky tears painted the walls of the great sunlit temple with her resplendent form. The walls of the temple knew Lucia’s sleeping eyes, knew ever lash and every fold of her resting eyelids, knew the lounging shape of her brows and the frown that now and again broke their repose and sent the heart of that wakeful watcher racing and groaning - your sleeping frowns are fairer far than laughs of wakeful maidens are! -, and those painted walls knew every strand of Lucia’s hair, knew the curve of her cheek, her nose, knew her lips of liquorice and honey, knew the dip of her collarbone and the swell of her arms about her chest, knew the great arc of her hip, her thigh, knew the lines in her palms and worshipped at the altar each of her nails.

Aye, the walls of the temple had become a great endless painting; of Lucia now sleeping, Lucia now awake, Lucia now laughing in the sun, Lucia now weeping, dancing, casting him from her sight in anger, beckoning him back to her with all-encompassing mercy, smirking at some stupid thing he said, staring his way with the dim light of fondness and a distant smile; and those poor old walls forgot a time when they were bare of Lucia’s beauteous visage and form, aye they did not want to think that ever such a time existed. For what were they, those miserable old walls, without Lucia’s aspect scattered across them like droplets of water on a parched slave’s lips? Lucia was lifewater to all she graced, so drink deep ye walls! - and drink deep, oh unsleeping eyes of ink!

If I loved you less
I would kiss you more
But loving you much
I can but adore
The purse of your lips
And rise of your chest


When Lucia eventually woke, she found him - a mountain! - sitting there still, as he sat every morning, trembling and mumbling madly to himself. And when his eye was kohled by hers he would seem to swell and a smile would spread across his face of ink before he burst forth to welcome her back to the world of wakefulness, raining adoring kisses now on this hand and now on that, now on this shoulder and now on that, and he would whisper of all the walking they had to do and all the seeing that awaited them on the Prairie, and all the paintings he had been inspired with in the night, and all the songs that were yet unsung and all the spirits that yearned to know her today.

Lucia returned his smile, beaming happily as she stretched to welcome the morning. ”Good morning Love. Are you ready for another day?” she asked, twirling her hair with a finger. His response, like always, was wordless as he wrapped himself about her body and clothed her in himself, pressing her wrists as he was wont to do and tightening about her in an impossibly great embrace that seemed to melt him into her and her into him.
But even from a distance the god sensed that the Orb was approaching to ruin, yet again, their lovesome embrace and all the plans they had for the day. An inky tendril immediately shot out to obstruct the globular martinet. The thing of magic zipped here and there, and the god’s tendril chased after it, but no amount of zipping and dashing and curling around could prevent the stubborn creation of the magician (who Lucia had mentioned in passing now and again) from finally zoning in on them, no doubt to force some morning training session upon them. The god seemed to sigh as the tendril of ink withdrew and the irritating voice of that ridiculous anti-muse sounded.

“Goodmorning Lucia, are you ready to train? You need to practice your control more and sleeping in won’t help.” Orb chided.

Lucia rolled her eyes as she got up, a smug look upon her face. ”First things first! I need some berries. Then we can talk about training.” she said, walking over to a bush.

“Ah yes, nutrition. Please fuel yourself so we may begin.” Orb responded, zipping around her.

”Yes, yes Orb. These things take time.” she said, slowly picking the ripest blueberries and plopping them in her mouth. ”I’ll meet you at the pool in a bit, okay?” she said to Orb in a sing-song voice.

“This is… satisfactory, Lucia. I will await your arrival.” Orb said, zipping off.

Lucia sighed. “He means well, my Love. Magic is a tantalizing thing, I enjoy trying to get it to work, you know.” she said to him.

‘Can’t I fiddle with his head a bit? Or with his voice - so he sounds nice at least? I won’t break him… too badly…’ There was a short pause, ‘but I make no promises.’ A tendril of ink moved across the blueberries and, finding a particularly large and ripe one, picked it and zipped up to plop it into Lucia’s mouth. A ripple pulsed through the inky robes at the exoteric act of affection. It was not in his nature, but it filled him with inexplicable peace.

”Mhmm, thank you.” she said after swallowing. ”But no, you cannot harm Orb. He means well, even if he can be annoying.” she smirked. The rippling clothes seemed to deflate as the god sighed.

‘Not only is his voice ugly and grating, even the song that emanates from him is a squawking ugliness bereft of beauteous form or meaningful substance. He is all orders and commands and no dance or song…’ then the rhythmic voice of the god erupted into a small chuckle that seemed on the verge of bursting into some ditty, and the black robes rippled up again, ‘hey, Lucie, do you want to sneak off while he’s not paying attention? We can swim in the river again and listen to that wonderful flow!’

“Oh my Love…” she said, twirling. “We’ve done that these last few days, is it any wonder he is so quick to the lesson? I need to train and learn if I am to become better. Only one of us is a god, remember?” she laughed. The robes seemed to bristle at this proclamation.

‘Oh, only in form my dear!- and only by a cruel error of the world! Let whoever claims godhood do so, but I worship only you, my Lucie. What need have you for all these things that this Orb wants to teach you anyhow? All this battering the world into submission and enslaving the elements - it only brings the Worldsong tears! Let us go dance and swim and make merry, and in so doing make the Worldsong laugh.’

She rolled her eyes as she walked out to view the Prairie proper. “You flatter me so, my dear.” she said as the breeze blew in her hair. “I have a need to see most of the world and all its aspects. The lord of magic came to me and offered to have me taught, who was I to refuse? I plan to use both you know, to make them work in harmony. This fondness for music, poetry and dance and the will to use the world. There has to be a way, I know it.” she said, pounding her first into her hand.

‘You don’t need to lock yourself away in this place, love. You can go and see the world right now. We can go - you and me, together. And as we travel we will both learn, and if there is a way to bring dancing and song into harmony with this magic, then we will find it out there and not in Orb’s snore-inducing voice.’ The robes tightened about her in that great embrace, ‘you simply have to dare, my Lucielu.’

She stayed quiet for a time, shuffling back and forth on her feet. When she spoke again, her voice was far away and full of worry. ”I want to, but I can’t. Not yet. Humans have yet to come here, for some reason. And what if mother comes back? I know she will eventually, she told me as much. I can’t… I can’t just up and leave. Who would do such a thing?” she asked, walking back inside. The inky robes deflated once more about her.

‘It is not wrong for the songbird to fly free my love. It is made for it, and perishes in a cage, even a gilded one. No one would blame it for doing so - who with heart or soul would do such a thing?’ He was silent for a few moments, ‘but I will not press the matter more. I am content here with you - your song is all I need, the dance of your heart beneath me and your joyous soul filling the world with laughter and merriment. Remember, in case that droning orb causes you to forget!: never cease from joy, my love, and in the face of all pain and agony never repent from incurable happiness and ecstasy.’ And with that he tightened about her and was quiet.

It was not the only thing that grew quiet. Lucia paused. The Worldsong had... stopped. ”My Love… Why do you stop the song?” she asked, confused. He did not respond, but tightened about her more than he ever had, and pulsed and convulsed as though torn through by great pain.

‘H- hold-’ came his excruciated utterance, ‘m-me-’ and even as his cracking voice sounded, blotches and tendrils of ink were violently torn and ripped away. Meghzaal’s tortured scream reverberated against the fabric of all that was, clawing and gnashing wildly in a manner it never had - why, his voice seemed alive and fighting, seemed to battle and pound, seemed to slice and claw at some invisible and impossible foe -, and his ink was now hands holding tightly onto Lucia, and his gasping visage formed up before her, shedding uncountable tears. ‘Hold me, Lu…’ he groaned. If his beloved could not be his worldly anchor, then who could?

Lucia did as asked, frantically, desperately, her voice full of tears and confusion. She knew not what was going on, only that her Love was in pain; and to comfort that pain was the only thing she could do. ”No no no! My Love, please, what’s happening? What’s wrong? Speak to me, please.” she cried out again. The frantic grabbing and struggle continued for many stretching seconds, but something in the ink god seemed to suddenly rupture, and an acceptance that there was no resisting fate seeped through him; separation had been written upon them and union forever made forbidden. A desolate calm betook him in that instant and he looked her in the eye and, for all the despondency that sought to shackle and carry him away, smiled through freely flowing ink tears.

‘If I loved you less, my beautiful Lucie, I would kiss you more,’ he whispered. He had no sooner spoken those words - the final divine song Galbar would ever know - before his hands evaporated and the rest of him dispersed and passed into nothingness away. Except his eyes, that is, which remained until the last, glimmering and glistening and speaking all that could not be spoken… and then were gone.

Lucia’s golden eyes went wide with horror only a lover could know. ”No… no no no!” She screamed, feeling around for her Love, searching in frustration. Yet, it was no use. Her Love of loves, was gone. Faded before her eyes. Lucia slammed her fists into the ground as she wailed with heart wrenching loss.

Then she heard her name. Her mother’s voice had called her, and she turned just in time to see Oraelia fade away, arms outstretched to her. She screamed again, getting to her feet, going to where her mother had been. She felt around before her, but there was nothing. Not even a trace. She fell to her knees and held her face within her hands as the tears came. And they did not stop for a very long time.

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Hidden 6 days ago 6 days ago Post by Crispy Octopus
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Crispy Octopus Into the fryer we go.

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Some Rest For The Wicked?





Tekret et Heret, the God of Rulership and Contracts, a divine being whose intervention had changed the course of fate and bent the rails of destiny innumerable times, was deeply upset. What could upset such a being? How could the immortal warden of order and steward of civilization become so agitated?

The answer was simple. His vacation was ruined. Worse, his vacation had been ruined by a gaggle of his, as he now realized, incredibly lazy siblings. The portal opening on his beach had been unfortunate, but it wasn’t the death stroke. It’d derailed his vacation, but, as Tekret now understood, it had been a surmountable problem. An annoying one, yes, but nothing compared to the realization that he was in the minority that had done literally anything of consequence for the last two thousand years. That had been devastating, really.

Deep, deep in his divine soul Tekret wished to turn back time. To look Illyd in the face, turn around, and bury the portal in a mountain of sand. Oh the God of Unsolicited Apples and other Foods had been nice, if a bit parochial, but would Tekret have sacrificed the meeting, the pie, for his vacation? Yes. Absolutely.

Alas, not even gods had that power. Tekret was damned to live in the present, a present where he’d given into despair and rage too early. A present where the unimaginable indolence and stupidity of his fellow divines had been presented to him in as clear terms as could even be imagined. It... Sucked.

Two thousand years of work, of managing a world that seemed to be falling apart at every moment, and Tekret was rewarded by his planned century off being cut short by ninety seven years. The god wanted to cry, a little. He also wanted to scream, both at himself and his siblings. As it was, he had done a lot of screaming. The crying, well, that bit could wait.

With a heavy sigh Tekret looked around and, in the absence of a better idea, decided he might as well catch up with the rest of his family. Not that he was overfond of them at the moment. However, when your parent is an unthinking mass of creative energy devoid of limits and with a known inclination to send its children on time outs, well it pays to take the time you’re given.

“Alright then,” Tekret pursed his lips and glanced around as he spoke to himself, “May as well start with Cadien. Humans still worship him, so he might have done something interesting in the last two thousand years.”

Just then, Cadien landed directly in front of him. “Did I hear someone mention my name?” the God of Perfection asked.

“What the-'' Tekret flinched and glared at the other god, who was frankly almost as naked as he was, “Watch it with the jumping! Honestly. Have you even heard of walking?”

“Obviously I have,” Cadien shrugged and rolled his eyes dismissively. “This is just faster. Anyhow, were you looking for me?”

“Well, yes,” The alabaster god sputtered, “I just wasn’t expecting you to come flying at me like a damn arrow. Ugh. Fine, ok, Cadien! God of Perfection! Worshipped by Humans across the world.” Tekret exhaled and, slumping ever so slightly, managed to ask, “How... Are you?”

“Quite good,” Cadien said with a nod. “Though I have to say, I’m a bit surprised you know my name. I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“No,” Tekret agreed, “But the Humans still seem to like you, and I’ve been busy enough with them for the last two thousand years to know what you’re about. Or, well, at least what they think you’re about. You are a bit... Smaller than they depict.”

“Well, I’d hope they still like me. I did have a hand in giving them such complex thoughts and feelings in the first place. I also played a role in creating the Goblins and the Merelli. As to my height… eh. Didn’t really want to tower too much over other gods and mortals. And after the Separation, there wasn’t much reason to change it, was there?”

“If you weren’t reaching for things there wasn't,” Tekret muttered bitterly before changing tack with an obvious cough and explaining, “But really, you have to wonder where they ever got the idea you were fifteen feet tall with muscles bigger than horses then. That mosaic in Ketrefa really is... Something.”

“Now, whyever would you need to reach for things?” Cadien asked curiously. “Can you not jump, or fly?”

“Obviously,” Tekret sighed, “But after getting distracted and flying through walls enough times you learn your lesson. Sometimes just reaching for the damn thing is enough. No need to strut. Not like there’s anyone to admire it.”

“Hmm. Is everything alright? You seem quite on edge.”

An ember flared in Tekret’s chest, and was smothered just as quickly. His vacation was dead, suffocated in the crib. With a resigned tone he explained, “No, everything's not alright. Not at all. I spend two thousand years working without so much as a minute of rest, and just when I finally think things are in a state where I can take a measly century off a damn portal opens on my beach and I find out that the entire pantheon spent their time throwing a hissy fit try to get out of their realms or taking naps.”

“Have you spoken to the entire pantheon already?” Cadien asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Do I really need to?” Tekret complained, “You’d think after two milleniums of watching countless mortals, keeping tabs on every ruler to ever be born, I’d hear something about what the others were up to. Oh sure there were mutters about a few here and there. The Humans still like you, after all, but others? I haven’t heard a peep about Fe’ris, that ridiculous bat, in millenium! God of Ambition. Ambition. I bet his ambition was to sit on some gaudy chair and do nothing!”

“Alright, stop.” Cadien held his hands out as if he was prepared to stop a rolling boulder. “Are you familiar with every mortal race? I highly doubt that. And have you considered it possible that some gods might not have very many worshipers, perhaps because they didn’t make their presence known, or perhaps because their influence is more subtle? And have you considered that some didn’t exactly take the Separation in stride? Hmm? So mayhaps it would be better to speak with the other gods and find out why you know so little about them, instead of making such baseless assumptions?”

“Am I familiar with every- Are you not? Tekret stared blankly at Cadien, “We’ve had two thousand years man. Even if you don’t hear every damn agreement they make. Two. Thousand. Years.” The alabaster god pinched the bridge of his nose, and spoke with an uncharacteristic levelness, “What... Precisely have you been doing these last few millenium, Cadien?”

“Sitting on a gaudy chair, of course,” Cadien said. “Also responding to prayers. And delivering the occasional blessing. Worked on my realm a lot too. Didn’t quite feel like two millennia to me, though. I think time passed faster for me, or something. Anyhow, I stand by what I said. There’s no need for such assumptions.”

Gears, seized by sheer incredulity at the situation before him, began to turn in Tekret’s head. Gaudy chair. Occasional blessing. Time passing faster. The horrible conclusion was inevitable, unavoidable, inescapable. Cadien, God of Perfection, Scion of Mankind, had been occasionally dozing off and waking up to a prayer or two for millenia. Tekret added it to his list of things to cry about, later, and answered haltingly, “Fine. Fine. Maybe at least some were working. I shouldn’t assume. Right. Sure.”

“Good,” Cadien nodded sternly. “And in the future, do try to take more regular breaks. Instead of one century of rest after two-thousand of years of work, perhaps try one year of rest after twenty years of work. Otherwise you’ll just burn yourself out, and end up… well, the way you are now, which will do even more damage to your productivity. Nobody made you work that long, so please, don’t get so angry at others because they didn’t hold themselves to standards they weren’t even aware of.”

“They’re not my standards,” Tekret miserably answered the God of Laziness and Unhelpful Platitudes, “There’s just work. It has to be done. It’s that, It’s just that simple.”

But, the God thought. But.

“But you might be right about... Breaks. Obviously not every twenty years, but I understand the exaggeration. Maybe I can just, just take my vacation in bits. Every so often,” Tekret's posture relaxed a bit and he nodded, “Alright. I’ll, uh, I’ll talk to the others. See what they were up to. Maybe I’ve just been listening to the mortals too long. Some real company couldn’t hurt. Anyone that doesn’t kick it after tripping would be good to talk to. Yeah, yeah.”

“Excellent!” Cadien suddenly smiled again, clapping a hand on Tekret’s shoulder. “If you ever need some company, or a change of scenery, then feel free to visit my realm. Oh, and I do have an idea that might be able to take a bit of the workload off your shoulders, so keep an ear out for that.”

That pulled Tekret out of it, perhaps more than anything the God of Perfection has said so far. A way to ease his workload? That... Tekret suppressed his embarrassment before it ever reached his face. He hadn’t thought of that. He’d just been so busy, right from the start. Was that the benefit of napping for who knows how long? Had Cadien done it for a reason?

With renewed vigour Tekret nodded, “I will. Eagerly.”

With one final nod of farewell, Cadien, turned away, and leapt. No doubt heading toward another unsuspecting target.

“Yeah,” Tekret muttered as he watched him go, "He’s definitely never heard of walking."








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Hidden 6 days ago Post by Zurajai
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Zurajai Unintentional Never-Poster

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Klaarungraxus


Klaar stared at the colorful void that surrounded him, his overmind returning to solidity after some unknown amount of time having passed beyond awareness.

As his massive eyes acclimated to the light around him, one by one sinking into his flesh in mock-blinking, the huge cephalopoidal deity began to get a cleaner picture of where he was. The area around him was clearly enclosed, the vast distances between his location and the exterior walls nigh impossible to perceive by mortals but quite noticeable with his divine senses. With further inspection, Klaarungraxus was able to rapidly determine that not only was the space enclosed, but noticeably finite. Thoughts of oddity and confusion pinged back from the dozen sub-minds, all indicating that they had been long at work but had no potential to track that effort or time spent due to the loss of the overmind in the interim.

Quite a mystery, indeed.

Klaar decided that further investigation was necessary. With surprising ease he navigated the aquatic labyrinth, as if he had done so many times and had set the efforts to muscle memory. The life that filled this deepsea realm was made readily apparent just with simple awareness, the waters teeming with an insane variety of lifeforms with seemingly no patterns to their creation. Biomes intersected or even melded into one another, environs that had once been innately separately due to varying depths and temperatures were now mixed in on each other. The capacity for them to exist so intermingled fascinated the overmind of the Ocean God but that certainly didn’t solve the mystery.

Alien mathematics rolled through the numerous sub-minds, calculating based on as much data as they could gather to themselves. One by one figures began to be presented, determining for the overmind that a considerable amount of time DID indeed pass and, worst of all, it had passed within the confines of an unknown space. Distinct attentions were put into determining whether or not what had happened was intentional by the overmind in the previous cycle or if, somehow or someway, this state had been forced upon the Old Growth Below. As equations were finished and final touches on theories were presented to the central nervous system, it began to dawn on the many-minds exactly what had happened.

The doom had come…

A sense of dread flashed through every part of Klaar that could actually feel emotions in the first place. Panic began to get pinged back from every single tentacle as a realization dawned on the overmind and got disseminated to the rest of the tentacles; no gods were visible, not one. Klaarungraxus, who had become comfortable being able to sense the other deities despite their distance, was now completely and utterly alone. This was very, very bad. All senses were set to exploring the extent of this realm, another note of which was made regarding the sheer capacity to sense and control the world around him. Though this world was limited, it was very obvious that it bent to Klaar’s rules far more so than the previous realm. That power would no doubt come in handy to solve this problem.

A light at the end of the tunnel called to Klaar, his eyes focussing down on the one flashing, bright source of divine power rather than his own. His whole body rapidly transited in space in the matter of moments, flesh teleporting from one place to another in a highly efficient manner of transportation. Before him was a doorway, what looked to be a craggy hole leading into burning bright space. The door itself was considerably smaller than his personage and awareness struck him that to press onwards, he would either need to alter his own form or otherwise find a way to enter a smaller portion of himself inside.

Downward-Left Three-Down, having proved itself as an avid creator, presented an option as alternative to becoming small. Why not, it insisted, Klaar create a simulacrum of itself that it could simply push through the hole? With that, the whole could present a smaller facet of itself in order to get a closer view of its surroundings. The ability to ping back thoughts through the portal would allow for the overmind to maintain connection with the separated entity and allow for exploration without threatening the whole. A perfect plan!

It was settled. With that, Klaarungraxus pulled from himself a portion of his flesh and molded it physically before him into a simple fleshlet. The little thing almost appeared like a childish rendition of the god, small, rounded features yet still baring twelve tentacles and all six eyes. With that the little meat-simulacrum was tossed into the portal to see what was on the other side!


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Hidden 5 days ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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Goldeagle1221 I am Spartacus!

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The Princes of Fragrance

Chapter 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Collab with @AdorableSaucer


“C’mon, Turmy, it’ll be great!”

“Cinna, wai--... Wait up!”

Deep in the canyons behind the town of Fragrance, gateway to the Land of Great Shade, a pair of night elven boys were hiking up the cliffside, one giddily defiant of their parents’ warnings not to fare these grounds, and the other in evermore evident disapproval of his brothers choice of daily adventure. He had arrived in his chambres in the morning, going on and on about this abandoned shadowtiger den the shroomer’s daughter told him about. He had then proposed the outrageous idea of scouting out the den, with great promises of riches in the form of ancient bones, broken fangs and bundles of old tiger hair.

“Are you crazy? Dad’ll have us watch Cayen’s goats in daytime if he catches us!” he had pleaded; prince Cinna, however, had just scoffed at his concerns.

“-If- he catches us, Turmerick. C’mon, it’s waaay far away from town; nobody’s patrolling there; and--”

“And that’s exactly the problem, Cinna - what if the den isn’t abandoned after all?”

“Well, then we better be quick, don’t we?” the older prince had replied and swung a small pouch over his shoulder as he moved towards the doorway of the room. He had stopped to turn and nod Turmerick along with his head before he had turned the corner. Turmerick had waited only a minute longer before eventually caving to peer pressure and running on after.

Now they were here - it was early evening, perhaps a little too early - the sun was still out and even squinting stinged harshly like citrus in the eyes. The cliffside they were scaling was rich in thick-trunked trees rooted firmly in the stone, growing tall as to drink up as much of the sun’s light as possible. Along the bark grew large, flat, juicy fungi known as tree ears - no wonder the shroomer’s daughter knew about this place. Some nesting birds frowned in bafflement at the two boys defying gravity’s pull as they climbed higher and higher, resting occasionally on one of the more horizontally growing wall trees. Once they had almost reached the top, they made themselves comfortable atop a tree trunk growing just underneath the clifftop itself - that way, they could wait until sunset before braving the scorching wastelands beyond the cliff edge.

Turmerick peered down and gulped. He then felt a gentle push and gasped, gripping onto the trunk with all his strength. Next to him, a loud, yet hushed cackle rang out. “Do you know how high up we are?!” Turmerick scolded. Cinna shook his head.

“What’re you, some wimp? Just try’na see if you’re cool club material.” He rested his back against the strong roots twisting into the mountain and unfurled the thread around the mouth of his sack. From inside, he extracted two leaf-wrapped packs and threw one to Turmerick. The younger brother caught it barely, nearly butter-fingering it as he brought it to his chest. He eyed his brother unpacking it to reveal a duxelle pastry. Turmerick unpacked his own to find the same. He blinked and then sighed at his brother.

“Cinna, where’d you get these?” The elder brother responded with a ‘hm?’ mid-bite before swallowing and scratching his chin.

“If I recall, they were cooling off outside of Panko’s bakery,” replied the elder brother with a skyward glance. Turmerick nearly dropped his pastry.

“You stole from baker Panko?! Again?!”

“What’s the big deal? He’s already got so many,” replied Cinna as he stuffed the last bit of pastry into his mouth.

“The ‘big deal’, Cinna, is that thieves break the Great Peace - and you’ve been caught several times before! Don’t think dad’ll cover for you think time! You’re on your last chance, and if you get caught red-handed again--”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah - I don’t need you to lecture me, too. Dad’s already being a pain in the ass about it. ‘Woo, princes of Fragrance don’t act like fools, wu-wu.’” He eyed Turmerick’s scowl with a smirk. “What, you gonna go tell dad that I’m being disobedient again? Oooh, I’m so scared.”

Turmerick bit sourly into his pastry and muttered. “Why did I even come along with you? You’re being so mean today…”

“Because you’re curious - like me! Can’t look a treasure like shadowtiger teeth in the eyes without at least getting interested.”

From the side of the tree came a tiny, yet serious voice in reply, “Stand and deliver!”

Turmerick nearly jumped off the tree while Cinna raised a curious eyebrow.

Turning around, they saw absolutely nothing, not until their eyes slowly drifted down. Standing on a gnarled root was a small figure no bigger than a rather large man’s thumb. She had tiny fierce eyes that seemed to narrow on the weapon she was pointing at the pair: a long and thin shard of metal. Her stance was well practiced and the fancy-plumed hat she wore alongside battle-scuffed yet decorative clothes only whispered that she had been successful in this many times over.

“N’aaw, look, Turmey - it’s a thumbling! Those are pretty rare around here.” Turmerick, meanwhile, was clambering to the trunk as though he was about to fall off, all while dragging himself closer to the wall-side of the trunk. Cinna snickered and gave the thumbling a wave. “Hi there, Thumby - out stealing gold dust and mushroom bits?”

“Playing wise, huh?” The Thumbling didn’t sound amused. Giving her sword a few swipes in the air, the Thumbling pointed it again at the two, “I’ll give you two a second chance, considering your nativity and ignorance. You see, I am Golden Gale of the Fennel Glen, no doubt you have heard of me.” She made motion at the bright yellow feather in her hat, a creamy color that seemed to match her long wavy locks. “Now put down the baked goods and take a few steps down this cliffside.”

Cinna and Turmerick switched places so that the younger was huddled up against the cliffside wall and Cinna was sitting firmly before the thumbling on the horizontal tree trunk, a smirk plastered across his face. “You know I could just swat you off this trunk and you’d fall, oh, I don’t know…” He peeked over the side to prove his point. “... I’d say about fifteen feet all in all. Must be tough on such a small body.”

“You better be accurate with your maths, son,” Gale took a step forward, “Because you might wanna figure how many of those feet your bones can take when you get flung off.” She dropped the point of her sword to the ground, “But I’m sporting, as much as a lady such as myself can be, I’ll give you the first shot.”

“Pfft, alright - someone’s got a death wish.” With that, Cinna extended his right arm outwards and brought it down to swat Gale off the trunk and into the abyss below. With feather feet, the thumbling juked out of the way, a flash of metal obscuring her face as she took a slice at the hand. The cut drew blood, leaving a small rift in Cinna’s palm. He retracted it with an ‘argh!’ and glared down at the thumbling, all remains of the smugness drowned in a lava of rage. “Oh, you’ve done it now.” He sent both hands down on her in a pincer attack, palms presented to clap her like some mosquito.

As if expecting the motion -- one a thumbing typically runs into -- Gale hopped forward, landing on Cinna’s left forearm. Then with careful yet quick agility, the little bandit ran up his arm and with a leap, planted a boot off the tip of his nose before clinging to his ear. Cinna waved his arms wildly around his head, and he would have fallen off the trunk had Turmerick not been there to stabilise him from behind. Cinna tried to bring his palm down to slap Gale off of his ear, but only ended up slapping his own cheek.

Gale let out a patronizing chortle and tapped Cinna’s defeated face with the flat of her blade, “Give up, hero?”

“You kidding me? You’re just a,” he slapped at her again, hitting his temple this time, “a tiny-- fly! -- with no right to strike a,” another failed slap, “a prince!”

“Cinna, maybe this time--”

“Shut up, Turmey!”

“Buzz bu-- wait a prince!?” A sudden seriousness came over Gale and her sword point hovered directly over Cinna’s pupil threateningly, “Don’t move, if you favor your vision. You never told me you were a prince.”

“By Tekret, I am!” confirmed the boy as though it was a truth of the universe. “Prince Cinna, son of King Safron! And will immediately stop your incessant nagging and cutting!” Behind him, Turmerick was drowning his face in his palm.

“Change of plans, Princy-poo. This robbery just turned into a kidnapping,” Gale ordered, “Don’t suppose you’d tie yourself up, eh?”

“What? Why, I will never… No! Turmey, help me out here!” Turmerick sighed, turned around and climbed over the ledge to arise to the top of the cliff. Cinna turned his head to the degree Gale allowed him to. “Turmerick?” Then, after a minute or so, he came back with a long bone, with which he tried to poke Gale off of Cinna’s head, hitting Cinna nine times out of ten. “H-hey! Turme-- ow! What in the gods’ names are you doing?!”

“Trying to get her off you, dumb-dumb!”

“Boys, boys!” Gale appeared on top of Cinna’s head, “Don’t you think this is getting a little ridiculous? Don’t let your pride be your better -- you’ve been bested. But fret not, you are but one of many to fall under my whims.” She pointed her blade downward, “Now Turmey you seem like the helpful type, yeah?”

“I like to think I am,” Turmerick responded and stopped wagging the bone as wildly.

“Don’t listen to her words, brother - be strong, be smart!” barked Cinna back, though he still couldn’t turn around properly out of fear of Gale dropping down to poke one of his eyes out.

“And strong and smart Turmey is for taking the advice of good old Golden Gale, yeah?” Gale gave what she thought was a pleasant smile -- but came across as more the gnash of a lioness that crinkled her eyes into that of a snakes’. “Now I want this entire scenario over and done with, don’t you? It’s bothersome and tiring and we only have so much time before it’s just plain dragged out, so I propose a sort of truce. Would you like to hear my truce, Turmey?”

After consulting the incessant yapping of his elder brother, Turmerick disregarded it all and nodded for the thumbling to continue.

“Right, this is rather easy and harmless, so this is really your best option.” Gale pointed her sword up at the cliffedge, “Now over this little lip is an old den, you’re going to march your older brother into the den and once you get there -- just wait a little! That’s it, a little walk, a little wait -- I’ll take care of the rest.” Swinging low, Gale pointed her blade back at Cinna’s eye, “Now whatcha think of that, Turmey? You two can leave right after, even.”

“Don’t listen to her, Turmerick! This-... This is a hostage situation! We are being--!”

“Cinna, shut up for just one second!” Turmerick whispered so loudly it was almost said, and he looked at Gale with a stern frown. “Alright, Gale… If you let my brother go, we’ll do as you say.”

“You coward! You absolute, maggot-like puss--!”

"Of course, once you two hop on over to that den," Gale nodded, "Until then..." Her grip tightened around her sword, "Let's get a move on, yeah?"

The three of them ascended onto the cliff ledge, Cinna scornfully accepting Turmerick’s help to get to the top before pushing him aside and thundering in the direction of the den. Turmerick followed after - it was moonrise by now, and twilight flared powerfully in the west as the sun set on another day. The darkness overtook the desert wastelands that made up the cliffs and wastes above the canyons, and the hot sand was quick to lose its heat. Thankfully, the abandoned den was up ahead - a black tunnel underneath a heap of stable stone plates. Cinna and Turmerick entered with the thumbling at their backs.

“Okay… So what now, then, ‘captor’” Cinna asked mockingly. His mocking words were met with a swift boot to the cheekbone.

"Now you press your noses against the stone wall over there," Gale nodded in the direction of the far side of the den. . The boys did as they were told, Cinna muttering furiously all the way.

“Now what?” asked Turmerick carefully.

Gale hopped off Cinna's head with a 'hup.' Her boots landed softly on the stone floor. "Put your hands behin- oh... What is..!? Uh oh."

“What now?” Cinna croaked angrily before Turmerick slapped his palm over his mouth. There had been a growl, and it hadn’t been Cinna. Their eyes saw nothing, but their ears clearly picked up approaching clicks as hard claws contacted stony ground. Before long, a pair of pearl-white, glowing eyes fixed on the three of them, complemented by a jawful of fangs and teeth that shone in the dim moonlight pouring into the cave mouth. There was no mistake. The tiger’s den wasn’t abandoned.

“Cinna, you said there was nothing here,” whispered Turmerick as he tried to make as few moves as possible. The shadowtiger’s enormous paws broke the moonlight - it was less than ten metres away from them.

“Well, I was going off of what the shroomer’s--”

“Duly noted! Gale, do we run?!”

Gale pointed her sword up at the tiger, "Go slowly... Go slowly.. Back away... Behind me..." With each command she slowly put herself between the two parties, her own footsteps backing up very carefully, "Don't run unless she pounces..." The boys followed suit, and the tiger played along, stalking on after as if it thought they hadn’t seen it. However, as they exited the cave, Turmerick tripped over a small ledge and fell backwards. The tiger pounced and the boy screamed. However, just before the tiger made contact, Turmerick was pulled out of the way by his brother, who sprinted around the corner of the cave, down towards the trees by the cliff edge. The shadowtiger’s momentum caused it to veer off course slightly, buying them some time.

Gale hopped onto Cinna's pant leg, gripping it tightly, "RUN! RUN! RUN!" The three of them quickly began climbing down the cliffside, ignoring the need for safety as the shadowtiger jumped down after them. As it almost bit into Turmerick’s neck, the boy lost his grip, falling all of two and a half metres onto the hard soil below with a resounding crack, followed by a howl.

“My leg!” he screamed as Cinna came to collect him. The shadowtiger grew careful on the lower tree trunks on account of their lacking girth, which luckily bought them some time to carry the wounded Turmerick towards the town. They were so close, but they knew it was far from over - the squealing had attracted the attention of the guards, who were approaching as a pair.

“Prince Cinna, prince Turmerick?! What are you doing out this early?!” asked one of them sternly.

“Tiger!” was all the response they received as the trio were followed by tiger, which proceeded to pounce over the children and onto one of the guards, biting his head asunder in a single bite. The other guard was so frightened that he tripped on his late colleague’s limp arm and slammed into the ground with a loud ‘oof!’ The tiger saw this and pinned him to the ground with a heavy paw. Cinna ran on with his arm under Turmericks, who was close to passing out from the pain. The two guards were left behind, the living one screaming and hollering for help so the whole town heard it and came.

"You should have grabbed the spear, you coward!" Gale chastised from her grip on Cinna. She was about to say more but a small leap in Cinna's sprint caused her to hit her belly against his hip with a poof of air. As the trio broke through the small backdoor the so generously named the ‘Back Gate’, they were surrounded by their kinsmen, all in various stages of fright and disbelief and what was going on outside the gates. Whispers zoomed between faces like bees between blooms - the majority of them were questioning the state of the princes and why they had come from the direction they had.

It didn’t take long for the crowd to split up upon the arrival of the king, a tall, powerful male the boys both knew as King Safron, their father. Behind him followed more hunters who all exited the gate to slay the tiger, as well as the town druid, Laurel. Turmerick was immediately brought over to the druid, who proceeded to examine the broken leg, while the crowd formed an impenetrable wall around Cinna, King Safron and, unbeknownst to the majority of them, Gale. The king scowled at the gates, from which the dying growl of the tiger could be heard, but only as a supplement to numerous other agonising cries.

“This is the last straw, Cinna…”

Cinna looked down, trying not to meet anyone’s eyes. In an attempt at defiance, he turned his head upwards to glare at his father, but found his scowl impossible to match. He placed himself instead as defensively as he could and spoke, “We thought it was abandoned… Look, Flower said--”

“I care not for what has been said,” snarled King Safron back, “only what has been done.” The gate creaked open again and the hunters, of which there had been seven, returned as six, two of them wounded and one of them, joining the two guards’ corpses. “... And I cannot believe that which I am seeing. The actions… Of my own son…”

“Wait!” shouted Cinna suddenly, causing many to cover their ears. King Safron glared down and raised a hand to discipline the boy for another transgression, but Cinna held up Gale by the neck of her shirt, saying, “It was all her! This thumbling tricked me and my brother into following her to the cave!” The crowd exchanged glances.

"OH I SEE," Gale's voice was spiked with hurt, "Blame it all on the small creature of the wood." She plucked her hat from her head and held it close to her chest as she dangled, "I am but a Thumbling." Her eyes rounded at the king, and the king scowled back.

“A thumbling… You were tricked to walk into a shadowtiger’s lair… By a thumbling?” Cinna shrunk together and the king rolled his eyes.

"Worse yet," Gale croaked, her voice suddenly taken by a strange illness, "These lads found me in the forest, starved. Upon remembering the hospitality and care the Elves of the caves are known for handing out in respects to nature -- I approached for food, only to end up’n here. Starved, scared, and chased by a tiger." She patted her stomach, "Still empty, my king. By Saint Adrian, still empty."

The king snarled and turned his back to Cinna. “I have heard enough.”

“D-dad, she’s lying!” Cinna defended, but was silenced by the ever-judging glares of the king and crowd.

“Laurel, what is the punishment for manslaughter by the laws of the town of Fragrance?”

The druid, having taken care of Turmerick, approached through the crowd again, her white linen cloak shining in the early moonlight. With a regretful sigh, she tapped her twig staff, plucked from the Omnibloom’s tree, to the stone floor. “Prince Cinna may have been tricked by a thumbling - who speaks the truth may never be known except by the Gods; however, it is no denying that lives have been lost, and as we all know, the young prince is far from a sinless child.”

“Y-you can’t do this! Dad!” But the king ignored Cinna’s plea, and the boy looked back to the druid’s moonshadowed face.

“Three lives was the cost of your games, prince Cinna, and the Great Peace was broken for tenfolds more as a result of your actions. The combined punishment for these transgressions per the rules of Fragrance is… Lifelong exile.”

Cinna collapsed to his knees. With tearful eyes, he looked up at King Safron and pleaded, “Dad! Dad, please, don’t let them do this to me!”

The king shot him a sideways scowl. “You have no right to call me ‘dad’ anymore, for I have no son named Cinna.” With that, the king walked away, the druid and the crowd following him. Desperately, Cinna dangled Gale in the air before him.

“But, but what about the thumbling?! She tricked me!”

“I care not whether you lie or she does - if you are so desperate for a companion as you face the Sun Wastes, take her with you. Consider that my final mercy as your father, -Cinna-.” The night elves all returned to their duties further into town. Prince Turmerick was carried off by the druid’s apprentices back to the king’s hut. Cinna and Gale were left alone. The boy glared down at the thumbling in his hands.

“You…”

"...should have given me that baked good, now shouldn't have you?" Gale plopped her hat back in her head and crossed her arms, "Can't blame me for this one. Three people are dead." She drummed her fingers against her arms. "And now look... Neither of us have anything."hing.”

“... This… This is -all- your fault! If you hadn’t shown up, and, and, and thrown us off focus - captured us, even!-, then the tiger wouldn’t have been alerted!” He brought his other hand closer, ready with a claw-like grip. “I could crush your skull like I squash a grape - right now.”

"Then you'd be alone," Gale suggested, "And you really would be a murderer then."

“No one would give a damn if I snapped a thumbling’s little neck… I don’t need you - or anyone! They obviously don’t need me, after all.”

"Hey, thanks for reminding me." Gale wiggled out of his grasp and ontop of his hand, "So long, then?"

“H-hey! No, you’re not walking away from -me-!” Cinna snarled and tried to grab her again.

Gale slipped up his arm, "Well you seemed so eager to be rid of lil’ ol’ me just a second ago!"

“Yes, -I- get last say,” the former prince exclaimed, but a grumpy expression coated his face. “... Do you… Do you know what mushrooms are edible?”

"Sure do, but I also know a spoiled brat when I see one," Gale paced on his shoulders, gnawing on her knuckle in thought.

“Choose your words carefully, speckling! You are speaking to a prince!”

"Not anymore I don't," Gale replied and flicked his neck, "I speak to the lowest of the low. Say you know what? I'm feeling a little charitable." She snapped her fingers, "How would you like a job?"

“Lowest of the--... A peasant offers me a job? What kind?” The pair had now long since been escorted out of town by a new set of guards. Cinna had been almost dreadfully still in his resistance.

"Does it matter?" Gale offered, "You'll be hungry in a few hours and this job comes with a meal."

Cinna considered this for a moment. Finally, he spat his response: “What must I do?”

"You'll see." Gale sat on his shoulder, "Go back to where we first met.. I'll lead you from there."


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Hidden 5 days ago 5 days ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

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Artifex realises he gon fucked up at just the wrong moment


”And that, children, is how to build and use a telescope”

“Don get it” the goblin said. The Mantarin sitting with them all agreed that such implements were far beyond their capacity for understanding.

”Ah. Well. Yes I suppose we’d need to work up to such a device technologically.” he said, before glancing up at his new moon and saying that ”I assure you, they are there however”

Artifex paused then, staring up at his creation and came to a horrifying realization at precisely the moment when the lifeblood decided to seal him away.

”No. NO! I NEED TO FIX IT!” Artifex screamed in rage and helplessness before he exploded into a thousand insects. The bugs all scattered to the winds in an attempt to flee the grip of the life blood, only for each and every one to fade from existence.

A stunned and horrified silence gripped the Mantarin, which was broken by the innocent question of “Where big Eyes go?”

Sadly for the goblin he did not get an answer, because instead the Mantarin began to panic, crying out for the father that the Lifeblood had stolen from them.




On the lanturn moon

“What iz that sister?” asked the young Vespian as she hovered at the entrance to her hive for the first time. She was about to embark upon her first hunt across the paper plains of their home, but the blue and green object hanging on the ceiling had caught her eye and refused to let her look away.

“It iz Galbar,” the older Vespid who had been assigned to mind the young one told her, the knowledge she relayed something she had known on the very day she had been made by Artifex a few months ago, “Iz where Artifex iz.”

“Artifex? Creator Artifex?“

“Yez”

“Oh. Hello Artifex!” she said, uncomprehending of the vast distances involved as she waved at the planet “I iz Zizantera, Iz nice to meet you.”

“No No Zizantera. It is too far. He can't hear you. You could fly up and up and Galbar would get no nearer” the older Vespid told her young sister, good naturally rubbing her silly head.

“Huh? Yeah he can. He’z talking back right now can't you hear?”

“What? Don’t be silly Zizantera. How can you talk to someone you can’t even see.” the minder asked, becoming concerned

“He sayz it iz because he iz a God.”

The minder opened her pincers, to object and then paused, unable to counter this logic at that very moment. So instead she asked “What else does he say?”

“That moon iz going to explode!” she said excitedly, before asking her horrified sister “What does explode mean?”




It was true. The moon Artifex had made in haste was unstable, for it devoured mana at a slightly faster rate than intended, building excess power and the ire of the mana itself. The core was swelling, roiling, pulsating and soon, oh so very soon, it would burst. Or, at least, soon in the eyes of a god. For the Vespian it was generations. Many trials and tribulations were overcome, ages of war and cooperation passed as Artifex attempted to remotely coral the mortals and their wild kin into enacting his plan to ensure their survival. First he tried to get them to fix the moon, but after a deadly expedition towards the core this proved to be beyond their mortal reach. So there was only one option left. To Run.




“Shhhhz mother. Shhhhz. Stay still. You must sleep. The cocoon while keep you safe” The prophet Aryiyata spoke softly to the irate form of her nests Queen as the giant creature was sealed into a large padded chamber within the ark. It had taken a long, long time to build the massive structure, carved from the paper earth itself and reinforced with metal stolen from the cage holding their world aloft. They had had to fight every step of the way against the will of the hive’s monstrous casts that could not comprehend why the Vespian were wasting their time building such a structure. Even now a fratricide battle was taking place at the entrances of the ark as the Vespain fought a war of tears against their mindless siblings who were attempting to reclaim the Queen from the treacherous free thinkers.

And yet even they did not fully understand the task they had undertaken. But they had their faith where other hives did not. God had spoken to the prophet Zizantera, who had spoken of the end of their world and the work that needed to be done to save their kind, to deliver them to the verdant and promised land of Galbar below. In the days where she had lived her words had reached only a few but as generations passed and their world grew hotter and hotter more had spoken to god and learned what must be done until that torch had been placed in Aryiyata’s hands.

Now the day was finally at hand. Across the world the Vespian, those who had believed the words of the prophets, sealed the entrances to the grand council structures they had built, leaving the dead bodies of their sisters strewn across the landscape. Inside they prayed, ate their final meals or attempted to console another and then entered the cocoons that would dissolve their bodies into a shock absorbent gel that would protect their nervous systems from the rigors of space travel. Upon reaching Galbar they would regrow into forms adapted to their new environment and emerge to meet their new world.

The lantern moon died when the excess mana building up in it’s core finally reached a tipping point and burst outwards, blasting the paper moon apart. Riding this wave of destruction where the Vespian Ships. Crude, powerless, unsteerable reentry vessels built by uncomprehending hands that were picked up by the blast and hurdled towards Galbar. Some failed to leave, their construction flawed by haste or inattention, or their outer layers damaged or occupants slaughtered by their monstrous kin.

Others missed Galbar entirely due to minute flaws in the earth works meant to angle them towards the world below. They were left to drift endlessly through space, or crashed onto lifeless moons or into the very stars themselves.

The remaining vessels hit Galbar’s atmosphere, layers and layers of heat shields burning away as they slowed, the last of their mass sloughing off revealing wings that folded out to catch the air and winds to bare them down to the earth below.




“Gasp. There it is. Just where mother said it would be!” Blossilia cried. She pointed at the giant orange vessel that had plowed its way through the trees, carving a deep groove in the woods before finally coming to stop at the base of a small hill. The group of Mantarin had emerged into this groove after several days of walking through the jungle and now started in awe at the craft and the carnage it had wrought. After a falling star had struck the forests near their home their mother and Queen had had one of her rare conversations with their heavenly father and though her they had been directed out into the wilds to find the crash site.

“I see it.” Manius said after the insectile explorers had drank their fill of the sight “Come siblings, let us go welcome the new arrivals”




Aryiyata had awoken to darkness. Her new body was tender and sore all over and she hadn’t had the will to move for what seemed like days. Now however she heard sounds from outside her cocoon. Heavy footfalls that did not sound Vespian. She panicked, wriggling around in her cocoon and hammering on the lid until at last it ruptured and she spilled out of it, flopping to the ground. Her wings fluttered uselessly, still needing to harden, so instead she pushed herself to her knees and in so doing caught sight of the intruders.

They stood surrounded by her kneeling sisters. Most were hunched sturdy creatures with vicious blades coming out of their elbows who clustered protectively around a singular tall and slim individual. All of their carapaces were able to change color, and were doing so rapidly in a display of surprise and alarm. Aryiyata and her sisters hissed at the intruders while baring their claws and mandibles in a threatening display, further rattling the group who had awoken the nest after carving their way inside. After a few moments it became clear to all however that the Vespain were unable to actually approach in anything but an awkward shuffle and so, after catching his nerve and breath, the lanky one spoke

“Our most sincere apologies for awakening you all” he said with forced calm as he fanned his vestigial wings, wafting a pleasing scent throughout the room “I am Manius. My sisters and I are Mantarin, and I assure you we mean you no harm”

He pushed past his sisters, much to their dismay, and approached Aryiyata, offering her a hand and saying “In the name of our divine father Artifex I welcome you to Gablar sister.”

She stared at him for a moment. Instinct told her that he was a threat, an invader that had broken into her home. Yet he spoke of god and he smelled. Safe. Aryiyata tentatively reached out and then grasped his hand, “I iz Aryiyata, prophet of Artifex. We iz Vespian.” she thought back to what her god had told her she should do when she arrived upon Galbar and finally, against the instincts many of her kind would embrace on this new world, added ”We come in peace”




In another realm Artifex slumped down on a chair in his workshop in relief as the prophet Aryiyata of the Vespian hive that had been welcomed by the Mantarin relayed their meeting to him. Baring the Vasepian queen's awakening and her foiled attempt to kill the entire delegation, first contact between the two insectile mortal races had gone well. The same could not be said for some of the other races first encounters with the alien species. The landing too, had gone smoothly by Artifex’s calculation, as only a small number of cocoons had been destroyed by the landing or invasive wildlife attempting to eat the Vespian during their week-long reformation period.

The same could not be said for the entire ordeal however. The loss of life was truly staggering even if it was, of course, lower than the utter extinction it would have been had he not intervened. It had, Artifex reflected, been immeasurably difficult to work indirectly via mortal hands on such an important project instead of simply crafting wonders on his own.

The Vespian project was not the only one he had had a hand in however, though all his other interventions were less direct. All across Galbar Artifex offered advice and guidance to builders and architects seeking to achieve greatness, resilience or perfection. The workshop he lived in was surrounded in layers and layers of prototypes where he had tested their designs for them, made on his own to offer as suggestions or that simply built for the simple joy of creation. This way of working Artifex much preferred, advising, suggesting and teaching instead of trying to fast track mortal kind into doing something far beyond their understanding. It was a fine way to pass the next 1400 years after the Vespian arrived. It could have been an eternity had he not found a door. A plain wooden door. Painted yellow.

He had not put it there, this he knew. Neither had any of the legions of insects that tended to his vast domain of layered architecture. So when he found the door Artifex stared at it for an age and a day until he did what had to be done. It was a door. So he opened it and stepped into Antiquity.






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Frettzo Summary Lover

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Oraelia barely had time to take in her surroundings before her name was shouted again. Her eyes immediately found her sister, who was already halfway towards her. "Gibbou!" she exclaimed as a smile crept up on her lips, turning into a very large grin. She outstretched her arms, letting go of Genesis' hand, as Gibbou tackled her with a hug.

”Uwah-!”

“IMISSHDYOOOSHOMACH!” Gibbou wailed into Oraelia’s bosom as she rubbed her face against her skin to the extent that the friction could have started wildfires, her arms wrapping around her back like pincers. She tooted her relief upon seeing her in the form of a long, guttural “huuuuuuuu-hu-hu!”

Oraelia rubbed her sister's back and head as she let her cry. She really missed her, huh? "Oh Gibbou, there there. I missed you too. I always do when we're away from one another." she cooed softly. She went down to her knees with Gibbou, holding her sister close. Why did she seem so… Relieved to see her? It hadn't been that long since they last saw each other. Right?

“Uh--...” Gibbou sniffed. “Uh-huh? Yeah, m-me, too.” She then stayed the way she was, holding on as though she expected some terrible force to rip Oraelia away again any second.

”U-Um,” A tiny voice came up from next to Gibbou and Oraelia, it was Genesis, twiddling her thumbs as she shyly looked at Gibbou, ”you, um, like the Sun too?” She asked in time for Moonie, the misshapen ball of clay, to begin floating around Gibbou and prodding her every one in a while.

Oraelia looked over to see Genesis and then said, "Oh yes! Gibbou, say hello to Genesis. She found me when I woke up. I told her I'd protect her from the 'bad men'." she said, squeezing Gibbou again. She then looked around to survey the area, seeing several gods she had never met before. Most of them taking the form of men.

”Yeah! Bad men want to eat Genesis. It was veeery scary. Moonie likes Gibbou also, so Genesis thinks Moonie wants to become Gibbou’s friend.” Genesis explained, drawing closer to the sisters and sitting down on her knees next to them.

Gibbou turned to face the child and blinked. “Oh, hi, Genesis,” she mumbled through the sniffs and snot and extended a moist, tear-soaked hand towards her. “I’m Gibbou - your friend Moonie has an awesome name. Say, ‘re you related to the, uh, the big tree, by chance? Met him… Her… It some, uh, millennia back. Nice guy, not as wooden of a personality as I expected.” Oraelia furrowed her brow at her sister's mentioning of 'millennia'. Did Gibbou meet the Tree early on in Galbar's development?

”Big tree! Genesis doesn’t know. Maybe Tree-jack, but...” Genesis sniffled, ”Tree-Jack died.... while Genesis ran from the bad men. Gibbou, how can Genesis tell if something is a tree or not?”

“Oh, uh…” Deep in thought, Gibbou loosened her grip around her sister and shuffled her knees a pace closer to Genesis. In the palm over her hand, she conjured forth a tree-like shape made up moondust and held it for Genesis to see. “Here, a tree usually looks like this! Only, y’know, taller… And green… And also brown… Y’know what, the shape is probably what we should focus on.”

”Ooooaah!” Genesis perked up and tried to grab the little tree, but pouted after her hands just went through the magically held together dust. ”That looks like the big wood things where Genesis plays! Big trees, everywhere! Much bigger than genesis, and more leaves and very strong. Genesis tried to push them but they didn’t move until they wanted to move on their own! Genesis likes Gibbou, she reminds of Gibbi. She used to be Moonie’s makeup person before she did a bad job and the others drowned her.”

“They drowned poor Gibbi?!” Gibbou exclaimed, horrified. “But she only messed up the make-up! I mean, if I had gotten drowned for messing up, I’d be gone already! Why would they do that? How bad did she mess up?” Oraelia looked at Gibbou, her face perplexed. Why would she say something like that about herself?

Genesis pouted and nodded vigorously, ”Yep! They pushed Gibbi into the water and she sank. Gibbi only drew a lot of animals and people on Moonie’s face, but they were angry because that made Moonie lose the...” Genesis trailed off as she looked down at her hands and began counting. After she had counted all 10 fingers, she tilted her head and began counting again…. And again… And again. ”Three ten and fifth beauty page-ant... You see, you see, everyone is jealous of Moonie because she’s so pretty, so when Gibbi made her not pretty, they… were very angry. It was scary. Does Gibbou know how to do makeup? Genesis knows how to do mud makeup.” Oraelia's heart began to beat faster. That was a lot of pageants. Many more than Genesis had said before. But she was just a child? Who knew if she was being truthful?

“Uh…” Gibbou droned curtly and reduced the moondust in her hand to a pile again, adding to it some water and mixing it around with the fingers on her opposite hand. It had a glow to it, almost like the lines all over Gibbou’s face and neck. She formed a playful grin on her lips. “Weeell… I might not make as good earth mud make-up as you, buuut…” In a lightning-like motion, she placed a dollop of the moondust slush on the tip of Genesis’ nose. “... I can make moon mud make-up!”

Genesis gasped and looked at Gibbou with starry eyes, hopping as close as she could to the Moon Goddess while looking up at her with a massive grin, ”Yay! Yay!!” She repeated, tapping her small hands on Gibbou’s knees excitedly. Gibbou giggled and began clapping along, spilling moon mud all over the three of them on accident. This only made her laugh more, though, snorts sneaking their way in between the bursts.

Oraelia jumped slightly, lost in her thoughts. She ignored the mud and tried to laugh along but it sounded forced. She then looked at Gibbou and asked, "G-Gibbou… When did you meet the tree again?"

The moon goddess’ laughter died down a little as she refocused on her sister’s question, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “I’d say, uh… Shoot, what would it be? Two thousand years ago, give or take a week? My memory from back then is preeeetty fuzzy.”

Oraelia's light visibly paled. She remained still for several moments, trying to process what she just heard. "Two thousand… Years?" she said shaking. "No… I wasn't… I couldn't… Have been asleep for that… Long." she said, gripping her head. "It took me… And it made me… Oh no. OH NO! No no no." Oraelia began to cry.

”Hey, S-Sun don’t cry, pleaseeee. Genesis is sorry, she won’t be bad. Don’t cry...” The little plant girl muttered and began sniffling, fresh tears mixing with the moon makeup on her face.

“H-hey, Orey! Orey!” Gibbou shuffled back over and pulled her sister into a protective embrace, resting her head upon hers. “I’m so sorry, I completely forgot to ask how you’d been - I didn’t even realise gods experienced the millennia differently. Tell me, sis, what did it make you? What did it do to you?”

I-It took me from L-Lucia and it f-forced me to s-sleep. It's been minutes G-Gibbou." she cried, holding Gibbou tightly. Gibbou sniffed and nodded.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you, sis… I’ve, uh, heard that sleeping for two thousand years can leave a terrible mark. B-but hey, if, if we’re lucky, Lucia might still be okay! She’s your daughter, right? Something like age shouldn’t keep her down… Right?”

Oraelia looked over to Genesis and outstretched her hand which Genesis immediately held onto. She gave a reassuring squeeze to the small plant. "Don't cry, you did nothing wrong sweetheart. Sun is just having a bad moment." she sniffled looking to Gibbou. "You… You think so? She'll have been so alone… And scared and angry…" she broke down again.

“She, uh… She might’ve had Inky with her! No, wait, that’s not his name, uh… Meghan? No, Meghzaal! Yeah, she might’ve had him with her! According to Cadien, mortals could apparently reach us through thoughts or something, so she might’ve had a conversation partner in him?” She shrugged while still holding her protectively.

”What is a mortal?” Came Genesis’ sudden question in her quivering voice.

“Mortals are, well, mortals,” Gibbou explained as though it was a truth of the universe. She wrinkled her nose as she looked for a better definition. “They are similar to us in shape and form… Or not at all, from what I’ve stumbled upon, actually. I guess it depends and--...” A pause as she reassumed her positioning to cradle Oraelia even better. “They’re things made by the gods that think and know about us - they don’t have divine powers and they cannot live forever, though.” She planted a kiss on Oraelia’s scalp. “But Lucia’s different, you hear? She’s alive.”

"Mortals are precious things, Genesis. With their own lives and feelings and thoughts. They're beautiful and for two thousand years… I failed them." she said softly. "I hope you're right, Gibbou, I do. Now how do I get back to Galbar? I have to go find her." Oraelia said, trying to stand.

Gibbou released her, but remained vigilant as she chose her next words: “Well… Here’s the thing…”

Oraelia paused and looked Gibbou, realization dawning upon her. She began to shake her head. "No. No no no. Why? Why-" she said, covering her mouth. Gibbou rose to soothe her some more.

“Cadien says it’s the Lifeblood keeping us out. We don’t know why yet, but… Well, I’ve been trying for two thousand years to get back down there. It hasn’t worked once.” Seeing her sister’s mood worsen, she added, “B-but don’t lose hope yet! We might have a solution!” She looked down at Genesis. “This one might be nice for you, too, to hear about.”

”Okay.” Genesis responded, turning a little to look at Gibbou.

Oraelia perked up slightly. "Any good news would help." she mourned.

“Soooo, a while ago--...” She stopped herself mid-sentence, a film of sweat forming on her skin. She cleared her throat. “... I, uhm… -Made- a mortal to keep me company throughout those two thousand years, and, as you do, gifted him part of my soul to keep him immortal and give him divine powers. Sure, he bailed on me…” Gibbou paused as though admitting that stung more than she had expected. “... B-but he could actually teleport back to Galbar without issue. Now, Cadien thinks - always Cadien, I know - he thinks that we could use this idea to make a whole new group of mortals--... No, wait… God-like mortals, I guess, to represent us on Galbar! Smart, right?”

Oraelia listened intently, her face blank as she did. She noted her sister's pause before wiping away her tears and frowning. "You were so lonely weren't you… Oh I'm so sorry Gibbou. I should have fought it…" she muttered. "That doesn't sound so hard to do. A being with a sliver of our souls. Has anyone else attempted to make one?" she asked.

“N-not to my knowledge.”

"Well… Shouldn't be too hard right? Was it difficult Gibbou?" she inquired.

“Nah, I didn’t do much else other than imagining the mortal to have some divine power. Poof! He got them.”

”Like how Genesis made the second Sun and the sky and the land?” Genesis asked as she looked at Oraelia, then began chewing on her index finger absentmindedly.

Oraelia gave a small smile as she looked at a Genesis. "Exactly like that sweetie." Oraelia then gave Gibbou a big hug and said, "I'm proud of you. You've saved my sanity again, sis."

Gibbou smiled, though something was dissonant about it. She squeezed her sister back without issue, however, and said, “No problem, Orey! That’s what I’m here for!” There was a pause. “So, are we all feeling better?”

Oraelia narrowed her eyes slightly, as if to say something but she shrugged it off. Instead she sighed before giving a shrug. "About as good as I can be with all of this. Two thousand years… It's a very long time." she said sadly.

”Gibbou and Sun are making weird faces, like,” Genesis said and made a weird smile and then a strange frown, then topped it off with a genuinely worried look.

“We are?” asked Gibbou with a twisted frown.

”Uh-huh.” Genesis nodded, her face still proudly caked in moon dust.

"It's just stress, Genesis honey. I'm sorry, I just need to calm down and relax." Oraelia said.

“Y-yeah! That’s it. Say, Genesis, how about we let Orey relax for a bit while we work on our make-up skills, hmm?”

The girl pursed her lips and seemed to have trouble deciding whether to look at Oraelia or Gibbou, her gaze shifting between the two several times before she settled on Gibbou and once more scooted up to her, trying to squeeze herself into the tight space between the sisters. ”Genesis wants to be pretty like Gibbou and Sun.” She said quietly.

“O-oh, y-you do?” Gibbou blushed and brushed some of her nightblue hair behind her ear. “I’m not… I’m not -that- pretty, really. Oraelia’s what you should strive to look like!” She offered the two of them each a grin.

Oraelia leaned her head on Gibbou's shoulder and gave another sigh. "Some things haven't changed, I see. I wish you would stop comparing yourself to me, Gib. You're as equally beautiful now as the day I first saw you, love."

“Heh, no, naaw… You’re just saying that,” she replied with an almost sharp, finalising tone to punctuate the subject. Oraelia pulled away and looked at her sister. She opened her mouth to say something but instead closed it.

Genesis’s gaze once more shifted between the two sisters as they took turns speaking, then piped in herself. ”What is love? Genesis thought about this word before but it’s weird. I thought about two of my friends hugging and then the others tore them apart so they cried very much. Genesis tried to tell them that they could make more friends but they just cried and said the other was the only one and that they were in love. Why? It confused Genesis.”

"There are many kinds of love, Genesis. It's like this warm fuzzy feeling in your heart, the kind when you look at someone and would do anything for them. Or the type of love where you have to love yourself for who you are. Not who you aren't." she said, looking at Gibbou with soft eyes.

”Ooh...” Cooed Genesis almost inaudibly.

“Yeah,” Gibbou added sheepishly, “something like that.”

Then, something sparkled in Genesis’s eyes, and she perked up and stared at Gibbou, loose fists over her mouth. Gibbou stared back, curious at first, then somewhat defensively as time passed. ”Love! Like ‘Cadian’ and Gibbou! They talk a lot so they are very good friends! Gibboou, do friends hug like Genesis and Sun? What is a kiss? Why does Genesis think of friends wanting to lay in bed with other friends? Genesis wants to know!”

“WH-WH-WH-WHERE DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THAT?!” Gibbou exclaimed with cheeks red like underripe plums. “I-I-I-I do -NOT- love Cadien! Not at all! Nope! Nada! And you’re not old enough to know what kissing is yet, young lady!”

”B-But-” Genesis started, then turned to look at Oraelia pleadingly. ”Sun, w-why is Gibbou so red? Did Genesis say something bad? Why can’t Genesis know about kissing? Genesis wants Gibbou to love her more than she loves Cadian.” She said with a quivering lip.

Oraelia suppressed a laugh before saying, "Genesis. It's not polite to assume that Gibbou loves Cadien. And it's not fair to think that Gibbou doesn't love you less or more then anyone else. And kissing is… Well… It's something you do to show you like, or love a person. Here." Oraelia bent down and placed a quick kiss on Genesis' right cheek, eliciting a little squeal of happiness from the little plant.. "You see? I love you. Now you can't just go up to anyone and kiss them on the cheek alright? You have to get to know them first and make sure they aren't bad."

”Okay! Okay!” Repeated Genesis as she began practicing her technique immediately, kissing the air numerous times before glancing at Gibbou sheepishly. ”Uuum, Genesis is sorry for… ass-u-ming. S-She just wanted Gibbou to play with her every day. Genesis loves Gibbou and Sun.”

“Oh, aren’t you just the cutest, little--...” Gibbou picked her up and sat her on her lap, running her fingers through her leafy hair as the girl giggled. “It’s fine, it’s fine. I suppose it could come off like that, that I like Cadien in that way - but I don’t, okay? And don’t tell him I do, please - that would cause confusion.”

”Okay! Genesis will be a good girl.”

"It warms my heart to see the both of you like this." Oraelia said, smiling genuinely. "It makes me know things will be okay."

“Did someone mention my name?” a familiar baritone voice asked, as Cadien landed nearby.

”Eek!”

“Hello, sorry to interrupt!” the God said as he stepped closer to the group. “Just had a quick delivery to make.”

“C-Cadien!” Gibbou squealed and hid her face behind her hands. “Oh, y-you’re not interrupting. We were just, uh… Talking.”

“Ah, good!” The god smiled, before turning to look at Genesis, who was still some distance away. “You there, little one. Apologies for the earlier misunderstanding. Now, I do believe you dropped this…” Kneeling, the god reached into his pouch, pulled out the newly mended form of Tree-Shaquiloneal, and held it out to her.

Genesis pressed herself against Gibbou, the Moon Goddess essentially feeling every panicked heartbeat and twitch the little girl suffered through as Cadien drew closer. As soon as he showed the figurine to Genesis however, she froze and slowly, very slowly looked straight up at Gibbou’s face, then back at the figurine. ”B-But, Genesis thought Tree-Jack was dead… How…? Is the bad giraffe man a death spirit? Did he steal Tree-Jack’s soul and put it into a robot body?! The giraffe man wanted to eat Genesis and when she escaped, he ate Tree-Jack’s old body instead??” She asked, starting to hyperventilate her eyes became watery and extra reflective as she lifted her gaze to meet Cadien’s, about to cry.

Gibbou protectively embraced Genesis and looked her in the eyes as calmly as she could. “Woah, woah, woah, c’mere, Genny - now, tell big sister Gibbou who this giraffe man is, okay, so we’ll make sure he can never, ever eat you up, hmm?” She eyed Cadien somewhat suspiciously in the meanwhile.

”I-It’s him, he’s the giraffe man! Very tall, jumps around and leans close to Genesis so he can eat her leaves! Scary, scaryy...” She repeated, then fell silent and her gaze settled on Tree-Shaquiloneal.

Cadien shook his head. More confused than nervous, he went on: “I only wanted to make sure you were alright… child... and then you ran away. You dropped… uh, ‘Tree-Jack’, so I figured I would put it back together and return it to you. I never intended to eat you.”

The girl made a little worried sound and looked into Cadien’s confused eyes, ”Y… You promise?” She asked quietly, growing a little more relaxed as she looked at Tree-Shaquiloneal again and hesitantly reached out to him, her hands hovering just a few inches from the figurine for the longest time.

Realizing she was waiting for some sort of confirmation, Cadien nodded. “I promise,” he said, somewhat awkwardly. Genesis huffed in acknowledgement and pressed her lips together, stretching them into a thin nervous line. Finally, in a flash of movement, she grabbed Tree-Jack and held him close to her chest.

”Um...” She began, wiped her teary eyes, sniffled and gave Cadien a small smile. ”T… Thank you, Giraffe Man. Not bad anymore… Tree-jack is safe too… He’s very very strong you see! But even he can break when very very scared… Genesis is sorry, um… For calling Giraffe Man bad.”

Cadien shrugged. “It was a confusing time, I’m sure. Think nothing of it. Though, in the future… do try to avoid throwing dirt at people.” He rose to his feet, then nodded to Gibbou and Oraelia. “Well, I think that should be all. Mm’kay, bye!” and with those words he leapt off into the distance.

After a few seconds, Genesis turned to the sisters and spoke. ”Can Giraffes jump like Bunnies?”



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Hidden 5 days ago Post by Kho
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Kho

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The Kavijama | the thing of ink & poetry | The Hibrach


Sat within an endless void
Without form or constancy,
Words have failed and tears now speak
Lurid flows and fantasy!
Hear the smog that poets weep,
See the stream that fills the pit:
Now the deluge comes to sweep
The poetic dregs of wit.

A living bard with all his charm
Can cause the wind and trees to dance
And with a beckon of your arm
You hold him in a higher trance!
Say not: the years what vanquished him;
Or: Time is what destroys all things
He shattered lies at Lucia's whim
And only weeps and sighs and sings.

If sanity shone in his eye before
Or trembling zeal e'er quietened or slept
Then weeping has left him of reason poor
And zeal and passion is all he has kept
Here in the lonesome darkness where he lies
While ink and poesy about him flies
Hear song and rhyme all mingle with his sighs
And with each verse he wakes and swiftly dies

'Tis not in seconds or in days that time flies by
But 'tis in drumming heartbeats and in sleepless nights
Oh 'tis in inky droplets from a lover's eye:
The song sits pleading while her silence smites and blights!
But if these ink-stained halls torment eternally
Let not the foolish heart conceive that love may wane
My love of love o'erflows the cup with ecstasy
So countless aeons may all torture me in vain
And never see but laughter and the bard's disdain!


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The Undergrounders





The Shaft was dark, as shafts tended to be. A sturdy, smooth metal pole ran from top to bottom, extending into the darkness in both directions. Stone ridges lined the diameter, ascending and descending in intervals meticulously placed for being the distances a Lapite could comfortably jump. Hot, steamy air blasted up from below, allowing various shipments from different Warrens to float on sails of silk, pulled up or down by simple rope systems. If Xie had the grass, she could afford robes that would allow her to comfortably float the hundreds of feet up to Mid Warren, and High Warren after that. But jumping was in the parameters of being a runner, so jump she did, ledge after ledge after ledge.

Panting, she crawled over the lip of the Shaft, thoroughly worn out by the heat, humidity, and exertion. Of course, rather than being greeted by a refreshing bowl of cool water and a juicy lemon, accusatory spears thrust themselves into her face. Well, they didn’t thrust themselves, they were thrust by guards. Really, they should’ve gotten used to her by now. She delivered chalk every 30 cycles. It wasn’t a stunning development, or anything.

“Halt! State your business, lightfur!”

“Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

The guards, these ones with brass armor, swapped a few perplexed looks. Rather than waste precious breaths arguing with the zealous morons, Xie held up the same beaded cord and the leaf pouch of chalk. The three of them turned the pouch over and over, looking for contraband, or maybe just enjoying the feel of leaves.

“Important delivery. Archbishop Jingjiao. I have. To be there soon. The ritual is starting. Any minute now.”

Theatrics wouldn’t work on these ‘pites. They surely had never seen an honest battle in all their lives, but they took the duty of protecting High Warren from undesirables very seriously. And why wouldn’t they? The floors were dug from high-quality rock, the kind that didn’t chip or require sweeping. Decorative sconces lined every wall, and the entrance to the Shaft had proper pillars propping it open. Real fire burned in the lanterns above, not the cheapo, dinky mana fire. The smoke was sucked away by ventilation shafts that had time and effort put into scraping them out. This was not a place of loose pebbles, of grit showering down from above and getting stuck in your ear fur. This was High Warren. They were fastidious in their cleanliness, and fastidious in keeping out anyone they thought unworthy of gleaming walls and clean air.

Especially a lightfur runner like Xie. It was impressive she’d made it even this far. The disapproving gazes pressed in around her, filling the air with iron dust, darkening her vision. She did her best not to swallow nervously.

“The gods are waiting,” she mumbled, having recovered enough to sit upright. One guard, a ginger-colored Lionhead, extended a fluffy paw, which she took gratefully. The others glared at him. “May I go now?”

The lead guard tossed the pouch back to her, which she barely managed to not fumble. She could tell by the way he gripped his spear with only his thumb that it was a bit lighter than it had been when she’d handed it over. No matter. Some chalk was better than no chalk at all. The other guard held the cord out to her, dangling it from two fingers as if it was slimy. Xie swiped it back with a scowl. The ginger guard’s eyes softened.

“I’ll escort you to the sacred chambers.” More glares from the other two. Xie shrugged. With an escort, maybe she’d make better time, not having to worry about being caught by other guards. Then again, it’d be impossible to run at any speed with a heavily armored guard tagging along. But it wasn’t her decision to make.

“You’d willingly go with a runner? A runner?

“I’d willingly keep her from sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, if that’s what you’re asking. Come on, lamp light’s burning.” He gently poked her with his spear shaft to get her moving. Xie fought back the urge to throw a smug grin back at the other two. The sour looks on their faces almost made her want to binky.

Xie and the unnamed ginger guard set off at a fast clip, their pawsteps echoing on the smooth stone around them. Even though she’d been to High a few times before, she was still awed by just how new it all looked. Nobody would ever guess that Lapites had lived here for centuries and centuries. And the doors here were wood, actual wood! It was hard to get over the ostentatious displays of wealth: the weaponsmiths fashioning knives with wooden handles, the curtains of grass and silk draped over the open windowframes, the wide streets paved with travertine and crushed diorite, the rounded dens with actual slate roofing, despite the smooth tunnel ceilings that prevented stalactites from ever causing water damage. There was so much wealth here. A single one of those knives could buy her family food for cycles and cycles and cycles. It made her pet itch. But she didn’t dare say anything.

Well, she didn’t dare for long. The guard didn’t run nearly as quickly as she wanted, and though the shops and residences fell away to long, straightforward tunnels, they didn’t fall fast enough. Conversation would make it go faster.

“Thought you’d be too good to come with a runner like me.” She watched him out of the corner of her eye, gauging his reaction, but he only rattled his helmet good-naturedly. Her tail twitched with relief.

“I’m simply curious. I’ve been a guard a while, but I’ve never seen you before. You make quite an impression with all that chalk.”

Xie gripped it closer to her chest, careful not to grip too tight and spill the powdery contents everywhere. “That’s because I make these runs only about once every thirty cycles. The rest of the time, I stick to Mid and Low.”

“Have you ever been to Grand?” It was an absurd question, and he knew it. The tidy dens, wide roads, and welcoming shop signs around them were already leagues above anything Xie knew down below. Not that he’d have any concept of how good he really had it.

“Please, don’t be ridiculous.” A beat of silence. “...Have you?”

“No.” He ducked his head, ears folded back to show sheepishness. “I want to some cycle, though. Becoming a Grand Guard is my dream.”

“You might want to consider a different dream. Your fur is too light. They’d say it’s not right for absorbing moonlight, or it offends the gods, or something."

“It is not too light! It’s red! The gods love red.”

“That’s ginger.”

The guard scratched at his chest fur, tugging on the long, orangey hairs. “I think I know my own pelt color. I’ve lived with it this long, after all.”

“You’ve lived incorrectly, I’m afraid. Ah, we’re here!” And they were, the huge basalt doors impossible to miss at the end of the large hall. The braziers here circled the dark, beveled rectangles, which must’ve weighed tons. Dark blue light flickered across every surface, turning her silver and him black. “Thank you for the escort. I can see myself inside; they’ve been waiting for me.”

“You’re positive they don’t want you to set it outside and leave?” He arched an eyebrow, which was so unbelievably thick and fluffy that she could see it move, even around the helmet. Xie chuckled.

“Yes, they want me to go inside. The monks and bishops would be outraged if they had to go all the way to the entrance to pick up something from a runner. Thank you for the concern, though.” She blinked warmly at the buck. It was a rare treat, to be talked to with something other than suspicion and malice. “Maybe we’ll meet again next moon.”

“I’d like that.” He reached over her and pushed on one of the doors, clearly expecting it to swing open with ease. When it didn’t, he huffed with embarrassment and heaved on it with both paws. Xie stifled a laugh and pulled towards herself. They swung easily, and she hopped into the black beyond, tittering to herself. A voice behind her prompted her to swivel back around, while the doors slowly returned to their original position.

“Try not to get yelled at too bad, Xie Tuzi!” He had tugged his helmet off, revealing a monstrously puffy mane of stripey ginger fur and two frost-blue eyes. Xie’s own eyes crinkled at the sight.

Something important occurred to her.“Wait, I never got your name!”

“Lu Chuang!” With a resounding clang, the doors sealed shut, locking her into the black.


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Hidden 5 days ago 5 days ago Post by Crispy Octopus
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Crispy Octopus Into the fryer we go.

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Abomination


It was whispered everywhere, from the dank and dirty streets of slums beyond the wall all the way to the very halls of power themselves. Men and women of status hushed their voices as they spoke it under the light of illusory braziers. Street rats and cretins spoke it in the darkness, and even there they were careful. Cautious. For it was not a word you could utter freely. Everyone in Ketrefa, the great city, knew the word and what it referred to, but that didn’t mean they could speak it aloud. That terrible word.

Abomination.

The guards were always listening for it, and their orders were clear. None could be allowed to know. Even if everyone did. Because the truth was so terrible it would rock the very foundations of their society if anyone had the courage to speak it aloud. So, they whispered, and they whispered this: The queen is dead, slain by her young daughter. A witch. An abomination that called down fire from the sky.

Even now, if one was particularly brave, you could see the damage. The blackened and collapsed western wall of the Azure Palace, standing high atop its artificial hill and screaming what happened without words. Nobody could know. Everyone knew. The truth was written in ash and blood, reflected on each and every face. Citizen or slave.

It was a terrible thing, and within the ash covered walls of the blue palace itself, a decision had to be made on what to do about it.




Magical light reflected off the worn face of the Royal Steward, and as he spoke the deep lines of his face shifted and cast shadows of their own, “My king I feel for you, you must know this. I have known you since you were a boy. The pain you experience now is unbearable, maddening, I understand, but you cannot take out your grief on your daughter. This, this tragedy, was not something she meant.”

“Yefe,” The King of Ketrefa, a handsome man whose young features were darkened by rage, smoldered from atop his gilded throne, “Do not speak to me like I am a boy! Old fool, a twisted thing like my so called daughter, cursed in the womb, intends nothing. It just destroys. I want the abomination dead, before the sun sets.”

“There are ways!” Yefe pleaded, “I have heard of witches growing into their power, learning to control it. Traders from the south have brought us stories, we can look to them for guidance. She need not be a danger.”

In one motion the King stood from his august seat and smacked his old teacher across the face, sending the elderly man to the ground with a cry. Looming above him the King of Ketrefa, rightful Sovereign of all Mankind, spat darkly, “She will not be.”

The king drew a gilded bronze dagger from a sheath at his waist and stalked towards the throne room's entrance, wicked intent writ on a once admirable face. The noble court, those few of them who were trusted enough to have been summoned to this gathering, scattered and made way for their incensed lord. Eyes fell upon Yefe and none mustered the courage to gainsay their ruler. All but one held their tongues.

A young man wearing a shirt of bronze mail stepped into the king's path and spoke without invitation, staring nervously at his rulers feet, “My lord it should not be by your hand. She is of impure blood. A monster.”

The audacity of his servant struck the King like a blow, and he halted at once. Eyes burning with indignation, grief, and hatred bored into the man obstructing King of Ketrefa’s path. Amurat the third, sole living child of a dead king who bore the same name, came within a hair's breadth of shedding the blood of a member of his court. Only recognition of the man before him held the King's blade at bay.

“Move aside, Trehe,” Amurat uttered the name like it was a curse, “That you are not dead is only due to the closeness of our families. I will forget this one treachery, for the sake of my wife. Your sister. But only if you move aside.”

“I cannot,” Trehe uttered the words, voice shaking as if he did not believe them himself, “You are my King, and I will not allow you to dirty your hands. I ask you to use mine. The blood of a monster will not taint a lesser man like me. The Queen is dead. I beg you, brother, allow me to avenge her.”

Silence overtook the court. Neither man nor nature moved, and for a moment it was as if time itself had stalled. Slowly, wordlessly, a drawn blade found itself scraping against its sheath. The King scowled, nodded, and turned away before speaking, “Then see it done, and know that when it is we will be brothers no longer. Do away with the filth that binds us.”

Trehe blinked, straightened to look at the King’s back, and muttered, “I will.”

He fled the throne room, and all that could do so joined him. Only one remained. Amurat’s eyes fell on Yefe, his eldest advisor and stalwart friend, now cradling his bruised cheek and leaning against a nearby pillar. The King spoke and his words could have chilled bone, “I repudiate you, Yefe. Never enter my presence again. I will not be merciful twice.”

Yefe gazed into the eyes of a boy he’d helped raise, looking for the man he admired, who could be turned away from the awful path he’d stepped onto.

The old man recognized nothing.




As the sun crept towards the horizon two harnessed Quillat’s led a wagon out through the western gate of Ketrefa. It passed in silence, without challenge. Sitting in it was Trehe, the youngest man to ever be made Captain of the Gates, and a cadre of his closest men. Across from them, blindfolded, gagged, beaten, and chained was a young girl. Barely older than three.

Trehe’s niece. She had not moved since she was loaded into the wagon, and Trehe held back tears as he beheld the reason. Her legs, while not broken, were beaten black and blue. Her naked feet were reddened and bloody. The only sign she was alive was her roughspun tunic heaving with her shallow breaths.

Nobody spoke. There were no words to speak. The wagon led Trehe and his men to the foothills and the dark forests therein. They knew their duty, their terrible task. None wanted it, but all felt the weight of responsibility. The necessity. Each was armed, and as they regarded their weapons there wasn’t a one who wondered if that weight was enough. For before them was no monster.

Just a girl.

A girl that, for all the abuse she’d endured, made not a sound until the wagon stopped at the edge of the wood. Even then, she only whined through her gag as the wagon rocked and aggravated her injuries. Such was her terror.

The men that had accompanied Trehe looked at him, some opened their mouths to speak, but they could not. Not if they couldn’t meet his eyes. They tried, surely, but in the end none had the strength. Trehe stood alone as he lifted the frail girl out of the wagon and led her into the wood.

He held her carefully, caringly, and walked past the trees. Past the thick undergrowth that scratched at his face. Only when he was deep in the forest and the light had all but died did he stop. The girl was laid on the ground, the man knelt, and a blade was drawn.

She must have heard it, for despite the agony of the action she tensed. Just a girl. A baby. Three years old. Trehe thought of his sister, of the King’s fury. He spoke softly, sharing the words with a little girl he’d loved as if she were his own, “It would be a mercy, Qashat. Look what they’ve done to you. It... It would be better.”

She stirred at the voice, recognizing the man who’d brought her here, and she squirmed. It was too much. The blade clattered to the ground, and Trehe began to weep. He pulled the gag from his nieces mouth, undid her chains, and lifted the girls blindfold. She had her mother's eyes. Blue like the great river in spring. She stared at her uncle as he cried, and that she didn’t do the same made him weep more.

“I can do nothing for you,” He choked on the words, “Nothing. I can’t even free you from the torment they’ve put you through."

She stared at him, and her voice came out in a pained whisper, “W- Why?”

It was a question too great for a child to ask, let alone understand the answer to. It was a question too great for Trehe, for though he was a man he’d barely passed his twenty second year. He closed his eyes and bitter words escaped his lips, ”Because you’re different. Because you can do things. Because... Because you killed her."

Her eyes, her mother's eyes, stared back at him with all the pain in the world. The Captain stood, and a single hope filled his chest, “But it wasn’t your fault. You can’t be blamed for it, for being born. I am an excuse of a man for being unable to say that when it mattered. I’m so sorry.”

He turned, and spoke the last words the young witch would hear for years, “Live, Qashat. Please. Live.”

The girl’s uncle bloodied his knife on his own arm, tied the injury with a rag, and fled. Then, she was alone. Injured, unable to walk, betrayed and left to die with a worthless wish. Qashat, heir to the throne of Ketrefa, once a princess who would rule the greatest city in the world, finally cried.

As her tears streamed down her face the bruises on her body faded, cuts mended, and her strength returned. She didn’t understand it. How could she? All she knew was that she was alone.

The man who’d been her uncle would not return.





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Hidden 5 days ago 5 days ago Post by LokiLeo789
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LokiLeo789 The Old Man

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For a native of the Anchor’s frigid peaks, more so for a shieldmaiden chasing glory, and worst of all for a hollowed-out woman who craved children, forty-five was the age at the edge of possibility. But this fine morning, the earth showed Siggi a mercy, even as she trod on its frozen face with blood-soaked leather for boots.

Dawn coaxed soft colours out of a bruised sky and a pebbled hillside, so that the new day would not hurt her sensitive eyes. An autumn wind sliced itself along pale grass to bring her fragrances that had ripened for a full summer, so that she could not smell the rot festering beneath her second skin. There was silence enough to hear the very pulse of this place, silence enough to drown out the small voice that lived at the end of her hearing, whispering that she was dying and too soon.

She found a smooth rock on the hillside, one large enough to carve a throne from, and lay her palm against it. The stone was cold, still coated with frost from the night before, even as the sun rose from its grave in the east.

Siggi pressed her palm harder against it, waking the morning pains in her wrist, exciting the tremble that never quite left her fingers. There. Beneath the unyielding surface, a deep churning that hummed through her hand. It was almost a song, wordless, and yet all the time chanting - at last.

"Is this it?" Tugann’s deep voice carried over the dewy plains.

She winced at the broken silence and withdrew her hand from the rock. For a moment, her handprint stood out on the stone, bone white against its black surface, then it faded like a memory.

"No, but it's close enough," she said, abandoning a half-formed lie.

Tugann’s heavy footfalls sent gravel skittering down before him. Too loud, Siggi thought.

"You're up early," she said, huddling her cloak tighter against the wind with one hand, resting the other on one of the two axes hitched to her belt.

"A captain always is." His smile was as big as he was, his beard a fierce old bush of brown. "Besides, dreams like the ones you paint make it hard for a man to sleep."

"And your men?" she asked. "Have they slept off their bruises?"

Tugann laughed, oblivious to how he shattered the morning's peace. "After the last ambush, hardly a man wanted to shut his eyes."

"Funny," she said, "how some men can be kept awake by dreams, and others by nightmares."

"Ha!"

A murder of crows broke from the trees in the valley below, swirling into the sky like shadows loosed from the world.

"It shook them, for sure," he said, "but nothing keeps a man down when he's hunting for glory.”

He swayed a little, like a half-drunk who thought he was sober, before he righted himself. Captain Tugann was the only man in his company who indulged in neither drink nor the mushroom that abounded here. His only vice was greed. It was the only thing Siggi liked about him. That and his aura, an odd amber that reminded her of a butcher-turned-lover she once had.

She started back up the hillside, the frozen grass crunching beneath her leather-wrapped feet. Tugann's panting was loud behind her. When she glanced over her shoulder, she could almost smell him breaking into a mild sweat, despite late autumn's bite in the wind. His aura turned a sickly grey color, swallowing his sweet ambers and electric blues.

"Well, there will be enough glory to repay your trust and your lost men, Captain." Liars die last but alone. A milkmaid's saying. "For your men, the hard part has passed. I do not think the Skinwalkers ever come this close to the peak. Besides, your men walk with the Chosen." A little more truthful, but it soured her mouth to say it aloud. "Were that not the case, we would have died a while back."

"Wretched fockers," he said, half-chuckling, half-breathless. "I only lost six men for two we put down."

"Normally, this quest is taken by lone pilgrims and occasionally the milkweed looking to prove himself.." She gained the crest a moment before the Captain did. "Me, I prefer to stack the odds when I can."

Below, the Old Companions broke their camp in the light of a blazing bonfire. The smell of smoke and sizzling fat snaked up the hillside to greet Siggi. Grip tightening on her axehead, she realised the smell would drift beyond her, further than the pilgrim stone, maybe even to the Anchor’s peak itself. That would not do. For all the care she had taken, all the years she had burned away in preparation of this morning, that would simply not do.

Removed from the hum of mana in the air, the little tremors bubbled up in her fingers again, alongside a dull throbbing in time with her quickening pulse.

She lifted her hand through the slit in her cloak, turned it to watch the veins running down the back of her hand, wending like the river of time, forever dragging her along its current. The wind swept her hair across her face, strands of pale gold, now woven through with silver. She brushed them out of sight.

"Your men look in poor spirits, Captain. Seems they could use a drink."

Tugann clicked his tongue. "That brood could always use a drink, but they emptied the last of their kegs last night."

She could smell that too. What clean air the smoke hadn't touched was soured by the acrid stench of urine.

"No great matter," she said, descending down towards the camp. "I saved a treat just for this morning."

The Old Companions cleared their camp the way drunks and drugged men did anything, with loose grips, weak spines, and limbs in possession of neither speed nor purpose. She could concede that Tugann kept a tight group, but they lacked his disdain for a sour cup. A soldier is only as strong as his thirst. A jape among Ironskins, the male counterparts to the Shieldmaiden elites.

Lovi, Tugann’s second-in-command, looked up from his bowl of wayfarer stew and gave a smile that went no deeper than his yellow teeth. The reddish green of his aura smothered by grey and black hues.

"Aha!" He staggered to his feet. "The woman we all suffer for. All hail the Sly Wolf!"

Siggi ground her fury between gritted teeth, and stretched her lips into some bastard thing between a smile and a snarl.

The Sly Wolf.

In her youth, her shield-peers had mockingly called her the Pup, until she went out into the woods, killed an old bitch ranging on its own, and pinned down each of those village brats as she made them kiss its still-wet maw. From there until the twilight of her prime, she was the Gold Wolf, for her hair and the bangles that climbed all the way to her elbows of her firstskin. When Gold turned to Old, she sold those bangles for wisdom, and wisdom brought her here, to the footstool of destiny, where a dying brute called her sly, not knowing the half of it.

"How did you sleep, Lovi?"

He made a show of yawning. "Could march for days - even with a good woman on my side. Maybe especially."

"Maybe." She bent down to her own sleeping mat, opened her carry bag, and pulled out a bulging wineskin. "How about a little taste of gold for your belly in the meantime?"

He squinted bronze eyes. "What's that?"

"Demon's piss from the Hearth-Home markets." An empty vial poked out of her bag. She slid it back in, very careful not to touch the corroding stopper.

Lovi hesitated. "Shieldmaidens don't drink."

"Small wonder I'm offering it to you, then."

Like any good Ironskin, Lovi's intellect bowed down to his thirst. "Any good?"

"I wouldn't know, now, would I?" She winked. "Man I won it from says it tastes like I fight."

He cut another one of his empty smiles. "Nasty, gritty, and bloody. Don't think I fancy a taste." He gave a cough that could have rattled a boak's lungs. "Give it here anyway."

Nasty, gritty, and bloody.

The Shieldmaidens she had trained with in Hearth-Home had all stood a head taller, moved with a touch more grace, equally pious before the statues of Boris, god of strength, mercy and the holy mountain. Shieldmaidens did not just have to be fierce warriors like the Ironskins, but a lucky charm on the battlefield too, and gods-be-damned if one didn't offer quarter to an enemy who begged after it, gods-be-damned if they weren't on their knees before an alter whilst their brother-warriors were on their knees beneath a beer-soaked table.

She pressed the skin into his hand, watched him sip, saw his eyes light up.

"Boris’ balls, where've you been hiding this!" Lovi took a long drag, coughed again, and gave a loud whoop. "Timund, come get a taste of this!"

Timund left his chores to come taste. The others converged on the drink like crows after a ripe corpse.

As they crowded around for a taste of demon's piss, she drew Tugann aside. "Don't suppose, you're in the mood for a drink, Captain?"

"Don't think so," he wheezed, his stagger much more prominent now. The sunrise put a sheen to his sweating brow. "I gamble as much as these men, probably whore as much too. Captain has to find some way . . . some way to be better than his charges."

He scratched a red spot on his neck pebbled with sores, and at its centre, a little bump puckered around a tiny black hole.

"Is that a hornet's sting?" she asked, as she ushered him beyond the camp's border. "Maybe a mosquito, let me down my second skin in the night." he said. "Hate the things. Night demons, I call them. Would kill them all if I could."

There was blood when he removed his hand, with an odd purple tint to it, the same colour as the vial stopper.

"We should never set our sights on the impossible," she said. "Finding a mosquito in the dark is like finding a needle in all this grass."

"Odd saying."

"It's an odd time, Captain."

They walked together towards an old cliff, where the hill fell away to a sheer fifty-foot drop. As they came to stand on the lip, he was coughing as well as panting.

She watched the sun crown on the horizon, dawn giving birth to a crisp, blue day that would soon irritate her eyes. But her gaze went beyond the east, beyond today, into some far future where her name rang as loud as thunder, even as her body rotted in the earth.

And her body would rot; she refused to hide from that fact. Immortality was not for the flesh. The sculptor did not live forever, but his statues rooted themselves in the world even as the sands of time swirled past them.

Atop the edge of the heavens, her chisel lay waiting.

"I want to thank you, Captain. Without you, I would not have made it this far."

He furrowed his brow and nodded slowly, eyes unfocused, lips slightly parted. The raw patch on his neck had an angry colour to it now. His aura had turned a deathly black color. He opened his mouth to say something, gently rocking back and forth. A stronger wind could have knocked him over. Perhaps the earth wasn't that gracious after all.

His mouth hung half open, waiting for his mind to catch up. Siggi flexed her fingers to keep the joints from stiffening. She threw off her cloak so the sun could kiss her arms and warm the bark of her battered breastplate. Blue veins crept up the inside of her wrists like grapevines, climbing upward with the years, just as her bangles had. With a thought she willed her second skin over veins.

Still, there was some muscle in her axe arm, she thought, though not as much as before. Forty-five was not quite old enough for despair, but it was too old for blind faith. Gone were the days of dreaming of great deeds, and gone the strength to do them. But not the wit. The gods could not take that from her because they had never given it. She had clawed and kicked and bitten for every last scrap of it, rallied against her own backwater ignorance.

Tugann at last found half a word. The breath that pushed past his cracked lips sounded like "Glo-." Her mind twisted it to "Old."

"Not yet, Captain. Not yet."

She pressed her hand against his back and pushed him over the edge.



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Hidden 4 days ago 4 days ago Post by Not Fishing
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Not Fishing The Mediocre

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Cadien

&
Qael’Naath

&
Iternis

&
~O~
Illyd Dyll



The God of Magic was hard at work, surrounded by mana that came and went as wisps which traveled up into the sky to watch the visions and probe them. He was holding orbs of silver light or dim golden pyramids in his hand while thousands symbols appeared and disappeared before him. This place was not Galbar, nor was it akin to his own realm. His powers here were muted. It was beyond a doubt a creation of Lifeblood. The God of Magic had already theorized that making a portal wouldn’t be too hard. After all, this coliseum seemed to have a special connection with his birth realm. Though two thousands years of working as a hermit gave him some odd traits.

“Damn Lifeblood can make a tear then I should be able to make some Lifeblood-damned portal to Galbar right?” He said, to no-one in particular except himself. “Shouldn’t be so hard. I just need to find the right anchor with the world and it should be fine. Yes, yes it should all be fine. In just a few more hours I’ll be back. Just a few more hours.”

“Talking to yourself, hm?” questioned a nearby voice. “You’re not the first to develop that habit, I suppose.”

For a moment Qael was pulled out of his concentration. The voice did not sound familiar. He turned to face Cadien. Only when the god of perfection pointed it out, did he realize that he was doing it. “Ah. I suppose when you’ve got nobody to really talk to, you make do.” He said. “I don’t believe we have met. Though I do think I’ve encountered some of your creations. If, indeed, you made them in your likeness. But let me introduce myself first: Qael’Naath. God of Magic.” He greeted, with a small but polite bow.

“Cadien, God of Perfection,” the white-haired god nodded back. “Still trying to get back to Galbar, I see?”

“Of course!” Qael’Naath exclaimed. “What else is there to do? Wait until we start tearing eachother apart like a pack of famished wild dogs?” He motioned to his other siblings. “Besides, I’m not done with Galbar. Not at all. It is far too interesting. Wouldn’t you want to go back either?”

“Oh, make no mistake, I do,” Cadien said with a shrug. “It’s just that, portals aren’t the way, I don’t think. Not for us. I don’t know if you’ve tried this, but apparently you can send things through the portal other than yourself. So it seems to me that portals aren’t the problem. We are.”

Qael struck an inquisitive look. No, he did not yet attempt to make a portal. He wanted more knowledge first. More understanding of it. He didn’t know if Lifeblood would punish him for it or not. Yet Cadien seemed to have more intimate knowledge on the subject. “I haven’t tried it. Not yet.” Qael said, slowly as he pondered over Cadien’s words. “How come you know this, brother?” He asked. There was only honest curiosity in his voice.

“My own experience, and the experiences of others,” Cadien shrugged. “We can still communicate with our followers, we can still give them the occasional blessing. One goddess told me a mortal was able to successfully pass from her realm into Galbar through a portal. So, the Lifeblood isn’t blocking our portals. It’s blocking us.”

“It’s only blocking what it can see is us,” a new voice said, startling the other two gods, “Sorry for interrupting, but I wanted to clarify. I’m Iternis,” the God of Journeys stuck out his hand in greeting as he continued, “And I spent pretty much the entire skip trying to break through the portals to Galbar, and I found a few things out, like how it has to be big for the Lifeblood to recognize it as a god…” He trailed off before clarifying, “I could send pebbles through and even single strands of my hair, but if it reeked too much of my own godly energy, that's when the portals reject it…”

“Well, yes,” Cadien nodded. “I’m not really sure if the Lifeblood can see, though. Maybe sense would be more accurate. But the thing is, whatever word you use, it always knows when we try to enter Galbar ourselves. And either it doesn’t notice, or it doesn’t care, when we interact with Galbar indirectly. But what if I told you there might be a way to directly indirectly interact with Galbar?”

“Are you suggesting something like....” Iternis paused, gears turning in his brain, “A Proxy? Like we use one of the creations we made before the banishment to do out work for us? If we do that, we’d just be advisors helping someone else do all the fun stuff, not doing it ourselves.”

“Mmm, yes, that is true. But it’s better than nothing, I think,” Cadien said. “Remember that goddess I mentioned? The mortal she… sent… to Galbar, she had given a portion of her own soul. He had opened the portal on his own initiative, and successfully passed through.”

“She had a mortal?” Iternis bit his thumb in thought, “Do you know if she made it in her isolation? She probably did, but if she didn’t, if she had a mortal that was from Galbar in the first place… and he passed through the portal no problem? It’s a long shot but... did anyone manage to bring parts of Galbar with them?”

“I didn’t. I couldn’t. But you could throw bits of your own hair through.” Qael pointed out. “And clearly this goddess could send a mortal imbued with a portion of her soul through the portal as well.” Subconsciously he began to touch the scar that was still on his chest. “This is progress. Dangerous progress. I have some experience with taking a part of yourself. Though in my case it birthed a goddess of pure, malevolent chaos. It is very dangerous to do so. Still, it seems like a way forward.”

“You say she was an entire new goddess?” Iternis was a little taken aback but quickly latched onto the idea, “But if that mortal didn’t become a god when our sister gave him part of her soul… Either way, that proves that we can make distinct beings from parts of ourselves. Would it be possible to make something just distinct enough that it still is part of you but the Lifeblood doesn’t recognize it?”

“That is exactly what I was hinting at, yes,” Cadien nodded. “According to this goddess, that mortal is now capable of performing divine feats as well. If she told it truly, then all we need to do is send a portion of our soul to Galbar, in a mobile form, and they can perform actions on our behalf.”

“Then I suggest we begin our experiment.” Qael said. Emboldened by the knowledge Cadian and Iternis had offered him. The probing wisps of mana quickly gathered themselves again a few feet away from him. Creating a mass of the magical substance. With his mind he envisioned Galbar and linked the mana to it. It began to push against the reality of the coliseum in an attempt to open up a portal. But the resilience was fierce. It felt like he was hitting a massive wall again and again. The large orb of mana shook. It’s surface rippled a few times. Then Qael let out a sigh. “It would seem Lifeblood prefers not to have any mortals to Galbar from here. Perhaps we would have more success in one of our own realms?” The orb of mana dissipated.

“Whose portal is the closest?” Iternis asked, looking around, "I seem to have already forgotten which one’s mine so I think my realm is off the table…”

“Well, mine seems to be right over there,” Cadien said, gesturing to his own portal.

"Hey Cadien!" A summer voice buzzed alongside a long pull from a flute. Illyd Dyll walked up with a flute in his mouth, "I found a flute." His "f"'s were punctuated by tiny chirps from the flute.

“Hmm?” Cadien turned to regard the new god. “Oh. Uh… that’s good for you, I suppose.” He then looked to Iternis and Qael. “We’d best be heading to my realm then. You might as well come too,” he nodded to Illyd.

"Sure!" Illyd said through a flute note.

And on that note, Cadien led his three fellow gods through the portal. They stepped out onto the cobbled pathway of his realm. “Welcome to Meliorem!” he declared, having just thought of the name on the spot, but it seemed right.

Qael’Naath stepped through the portal to witness the greatness that Cadien called Meliorem. Even though it was a singular location, he was impressed. The place looked gorgeous. “A fine place.” Noted, as he followed his siblings along the cobblestone path. Though the complete lack of anything magical made Qael feel a bit uneasy. Iternis, looked around the realm and was mildly impressed, but made no comments. Illyd, on the other hand, was giving supportive "oo"s and "ah"s.

Cadien led them along the stone path and up toward the black walls of his fortress, passing through the formidable gatehouse and into the serene courtyard. “Well, I suppose this is as good a place as any to begin,” the God said.

“Agreed.” The god of magic said. Mana flowed from his outstretched arm and concentrated itself into a large, multicolored orb. It was significantly easier here to create the portal towards Galbar. Almost instantly he had broken through the barriers of reality. The colors began to pull back towards the edges of the orb. Revealing the green plains of the Garden.

“Mmm. No, not there.” Cadien snapped his fingers, and at once, Qael’s powers were overruled, and the portal closed. “Please ask permission before you do that, next time. Anyhow, I think we should create the representative before we open the portal. So… alright, here it goes.”

The God focused. Gibbou had granted a mortal a portion of her soul in order to enhance its lifespan. There were no mortals to be had, and although he could easily create one, his thoughts once again turned to the question of loyalty. Even if he made a mortal that was unquestioningly loyal to him, what if its experience with Galbar, or with other gods, broke that loyalty down? Cadien had listened to countless prayers, and he knew that even the most stubborn or determined mortals could change over time.

Then he had an idea. Must his soul be bound to one specific mortal? And must that mortal be in his sphere to be imbued with a portion of his power? Perhaps he could…

Concentrating, the god extended his arms, and focused, as he attempted to draw a tiny fragment of his soul out from his body. He felt a subtle tearing situation from within. Not quite painful, but mildly uncomfortable at the very least. Then, a tiny purple crystal materialized between his palms.

A piece of his soul.

Then, more energy flowed from his palms, coalescing around the crystal, and encasing it in a large glowing ball of purple light. Then Cadien lowered his hands, and the orb of energy began to rapidly dart around the courtyard, as if taking in its surroundings, before once more returning to its place in front of Cadien.

“What am I?” the ball of energy questioned.

“You are me. Part of me, anyway.” Cadien answered. “I am Cadien. I am your master, and I will call you Mekellos.”

“What is my purpose, master?” Mekellos asked next.

[color=violet]“Your purpose is to serve as my representative. To go where I cannot, and carry out my will. You have a part of my soul, and thus, part of my power.” He reached another hand out, this time to touch the orb directly. “I am giving you knowledge of my memories and my own purpose.” Then, he waved his other hand, and a portal appeared - this one leading to the Highlands. “Now go. Find a mortal. Bond yourself to them. Learn their ways. And spread my message. I will be watching.”

“Yes, master!” Mekellos dutifully responded, and then zipped through the portal. The Lifeblood did not resist.

Cadien’s eyes widened. “It… it actually worked.”

Qael’Naath wasn’t about to risk his powers with a simple mortal. Not even one of his own creations. No, whatever he made could have no agency of its own. No personality. Not even a mind of its own! The most it could be is an extension of himself. A creation so chained to him that it could never have a free will, like Qullqiya has. He quite intently watched Cadien create his proxy. Though privately questioned his choice for something that clearly had at least at some level a will of its own. He didn’t like the fact that it could ask questions. But then the big moment came. When Mekellos zipped towards the portal. Qael, secretly, had a magical ward ready to be cast. Whether or not Cadien would dislike it or not. He wasn’t about to be caught in the wrath of Lifeblood. Yet to his surprise, the orb just zipped straight through the portal.

A strange warmth flourished in Qael’s chest. Filling a void he knew he had but didn’t know just how empty it had made him. He felt hope. Hope that at least in some capacity he could return. “It… did.” He said, equally as stunned as Cadien. Though his shock was quickly replaced with curious excitement.

He reached with his hand towards his chest. The scar was still there, and he used to draw out a part of himself. Slowly he pulled it out, making sure not to create another goddess. He took the littlest bit he could. The tiniest fraction of himself. It was a completely invisible creation. Even though it floated in his hand, he could feel it, see through it. As if he was holding himself in his hand. Yes, it was perfect. An extension of himself. He took a deep breath to steel himself. Hoping it would work. The creation was small, yes, but still very tethered to him. He hoped it would not complicate things as he tossed it into the portal.

For a moment his connection with the gaseous form weakened. But as it appeared in Galbar’s sky, the mana rushed towards it. Creating waves of rainbow colors around his proxy. More importantly to Qael, however, was the fact that he could see and hear everything clearly. As if he gained another set of eyes and ears. For perhaps the first time in more than two millennia, he laughed. It was a cheerful laugh, though perhaps a little unhinged as well. “It works. It works!”

“This is big,” Iternis murmured as he took a few steps back, eventually sitting down to think, “There are so many possibilities it’s all been opened back up…”

Iternis ran his hands through his hair as his gaze shifted to an unseeing stare. He murmured to himself for a while, but eventually stood up with a frustrated sigh.

“This is too much, I need to think more before I act, we may only have one shot at this,” He declared as he started to head back to the portal to Antiquity,

““But first thing’s first, we need to tell everyone else about this! We can finally return to Galbar!”

“Go on, tell them,” Cadien nodded with a smile on his face. [color=violet"I want to try," Illyd Dyll nodded eagerly, eyes fixed on the existing avatars. He pulled the flute ]“I will stay here and monitor my… avatar’s… progress. Yes, avatar. That’s a good word.”[/color]

"Hey, let me try!" Illyd Dyll popped the flute from his mouth and snapped it over his knee. With little else, he tossed one half idly into the air.

Without much fuss or warning, a hand identical to Illyd Dyll's grabbed it from the sky. In fact everything about the figure now holding the flute was identical to Illyd Dyll. A big smile formed on both Illyd Dylls' faces and they blew a single echoing note from each flute at each other.

"Well this is just a grand... Fun," Illyd Dyll summarized.

"It sure as summer is!" The other answered back.

“This is getting out of hand. Now there are two of them…” Cadien whispered, then cleared his throat. “Anyhow, best send him to Galbar then. Before this gets confusing.”

"Off ye go," Illyd Dyll waved his hand. The other Illyd Dyll waved back.

"See ye guys later!"

There was a small shared giggle between the two before the avatar disappeared through the portal. Illyd Dyll put his hands on his hips, "I'm gonna miss 'em."

“Well, that’s that, then.” Cadien said. “After two thousand years of isolation, not only have we reunited with the other gods, but our influence can now be felt directly on Galbar again. Yes, this has been a very productive day. Anyhow, yes, the other gods deserve to know too.”

“Makes sense to me!” Illyd supported.




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Hidden 4 days ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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AdorableSaucer Blessed Beekeeper

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“There! That should do it.”

“Oh, bless you, Kaer Mirh, bless you! Oli, say thank you to the kind druid.”

A boy, barely aged seven by the looks of it, stared down at the leg which, merely minutes ago, had been thoroughly broken under the debris of a collapsed mud hut. Now, it was splinted and healing, thanks to the aid of the white-robed, middle-aged man kneeling beside him and his mother with a warm smile. “Th-thank you, Kaer Mirh,” he repeated after his mother and the druid nodded.

“Oh, it was nothing, my son - just make sure it won’t happen again, alright? Next time, I might not be around anymore,” the druid replied and stood up. The boy’s mother dusted off her son’s tunic and helped him to his feet, the boy wincing as he planted his sore foot on the ground.

“Oh, must you leave, kind druid? You’ve done so much for us here - the fruits have never been plumper; the grains, never been larger. We hardly know what we’ll do without your aid.” The rest of the villagers, who had been eyeing the druid’s craft in a circle around them, all nodded and voiced their agreement.

“Even the wolves don’t come for our goats in the night! How do you do it, kind druid? How?” Kaer Mirh turned to the crowd, brandishing his long branch of a walking stick, upon which crown began to grow small flowers and scented leaves. The crowd gasped in awe at the display and clapped. Kaer Mirh bowed humbly.

“My magic is given by divine mandate, villagers of Lallybroch - it is merely a trade for mortal piety. Remember to be true to the gods and the land - if you treat nature as you would treat your fellow man, the land will reward your compassion with bounties unlike that which you’ve ever seen. After all - that is all I did.” He pointed to a forest border just south of the village. “The wolves attack your sheep for many reasons, friend - primarily, perhaps, because the hunters in your village hunt their ancestral grounds free of game.” He tapped the shell of his ear. “I hear them singing about it in the night - how empty their bellies are; how their teeth miss the taste of deer like that which their parents are.”

“But, but we need the deer to survive!” came another voice. Kaer Mirh nodded slowly.

“Oh yes, oh yes, I can understand why you would think so - when winter comes, you fear your larders will empty, so you stock up as much as you can. But I have kept close watch over your larders this past week - much of what you harvest, goes to waste - and when it comes to waste, much is already too much.” He shrugged. “I have made a deal with the wolves: They will no longer harm your goats if your hunters stay out of their woods for the rest of the year. That will allow the deer to return and rebuild the balance.”

“W-wait, what?” That was a voice Kaer Mirh recognised: There came rumbling a large, perhaps slightly too wide, man with mighty blonde horseshoe mustache complementing an otherwise rather well-shaven face. It was chief Vraendol, and his face had taken on a terribly red colour. Kaer Mirh nodded his greetings.

“Good afternoon, chieftain - what, pray tell, has you--”

“Don’t play coy with me, druid - you mean to say you made a deal with, with animals without consulting us first?” he exclaimed with a fat finger thrusted in the druid’s face. Kaer Mirh nodded.

“Absolutely, chieftain. The -wolves- were quite satisfied with the arrangement, too.”

“Oh, I’m sure they were, I’m sure they were - and what will out hunters do then, hmm? What will become of us when winter comes and our larders are short on meats, huh? What then, druid?”

Kaer Mirh nodded his head from side to side in a lethargic manner. The crowd had slowly begun to move away from the druid and behind their chieftain, who crossed his arms sternly across his chest. Eventually, the druid shrugged. “If you killed a stag tomorrow and brought it to the village, its meat, even when dried, would not last until winter. The plants are still growing and ripening as though it was spring. However, that stag could prove vital for the wolfmothers so they last until this winter’s rut. Kill that stag, and the wolfmothers will take your goats instead, which, in my humble opinion, would bereave you of more than some dry meat shanks.” He turned to the hunters, whose earlier awed expressions had turned to bitter scowls. “Let the hunters work the fields or gather the woods’ bounty instead - the more you harvest, the more goats you can feed through the winter. I, for one, prefer milk over blood.”

“Hah! A milkdrinker, I see!” the chieftain taunted. The hunters snickered. “And what makes you think we’ll keep your little deal after you’ve moved on, hmm?”

“Oh, I’m certain the second I’m past the horizon, your hunters will be out there looking for the largest, fattest stag there ever was - and that’ll be your choice to do. Just keep in mind that the World Song can be heard by many more, and those who break oaths have more to fear than wolves in the night, my friend.”

“The oath isn’t ours to break,” the chieftain hissed back. Kaer Mirh sighed.

“Very well, good chieftain.” With that, the druid knelt down to retrieve his back of herbal remedies and equipment, which he had left on the ground after helping little Oli. He turned back to the villagers and bowed. “I thank you for your hospitality this week. May the Eight forever hold you in their favour.” With that, he turned away once more and set course northwards.

“Thank you so much for your help!” one of the children, little Oli, most likely, burst out. The chieftain could be heard scolding him, but only briefly before another, this one a girl, joined in: “Thanks, kind druid!” Before long, many of the villagers ignored their chieftain’s orders to pipe down, shouting their appreciation for the druid’s help. Kaer Mirh didn’t turn back, but under a long, greying brown beard, a smile shone through despite his neutral appearance.




Gibbou had taken a moment to leave Genesis with Oraelia while she strolled around the Antiquity for a moment. Its facades were cold and a little too bright for her liking, but at least there were plenty of corners and crevices where shade was plentiful. She would occasionally settle down by one of these corners, pondering the state of mortality below. That was when she heard it:

Sweetest Lady on the Moon,
‘Tis I, your admirer -
I for none but you will swoon,
For you, no love is higher

Source of lighting in the night,
I reach with wanting in my heart.
Insolent, my wish be might,
My song, say sorry, will, for start.

Darkness hugs my every turn -
I have no shelter yet.
I rest tonight in moss and ferns -
Can sleep be granted without threat?

Lady Moon, you are perfect,
For you, my song’ll never end.
Please, oh Gibbou, come protect
This humble druid’s life, defend.


There was a pause in the song, through which Gibbou was uncertain of what had happened to the singer. She knew this voice well, for he had sung for her before - she conjured forth an image of the mortal, a white-robed man halfway through life, lying comfortably in the moss in the woods staring at the sky. Her heart jumped a little and she couldn’t help but smile - he looked so happy despite there being no roof above his head. From what she could see, his eyelids quickly grew heavier and heavier as he rolled onto his side.


Wond’rous Gibbou, be with me
As I rest… I’ll...


The rest of the verse seemed to be snoring, but Gibbou had already heard what she needed. The joy of such pious mortals - mortals like this, well… She didn’t know his name, actually, but she knew most things about him regardless! The spitting image of the druid she had imagined all those years ago!

She had to tell someone - anyone! Mortals like him needed to be taken care of by the gods, so that they may spread and multiply! She saw a portal open itself in the distance and walked towards it.

As she stepped through the portal, she immediately found herself standing upon what seemed to be an island made out of clouds, floating in the midst of an endless blue sky. She was standing on a cobblestone path, which led to a rather large and imposing fortress of black stone.

“Gibbou? Is that you?” Cadien’s voice spoke in her head. Just then, the sky suddenly darkened, as if transitioning from day to dusk - although there was no sun to be seen. This was not her doing; it was almost as if Cadien was trying to make his realm more welcoming to her. “Come in, come in! I’m in the keep!”

The moon goddess admired the surroundings as she skipped along the cobblestone path until she reached the fortress gates, taking in the sights in the shadow of the dark sky with glee. “I love what you’ve done with the place!” she praised as she entered. She found herself standing in a grassy courtyard, the path continuing onward past two fountains of pure sparkling water, and leading into the fortress’s main building. She went over to one of the fountains and marveled at the fizziness of its water. “Is this mineral water?”

“Pure water,” Cadien answered in her mind. “The sparkling is purely a visual effect, meant to make it more pleasing to the eye.”

“Oh,” cooed Gibbou in a somewhat let-down manner. “Anyway, Cadien, I’ve caught something and I just -had- to tell somebody. See, there’s this druid…”

“A druid? I think I’ve heard that term before. Remind me, what are they?”

Gibbou stepped inside the palace, a cup of sparkling normal water in her hand. “Well, see, druidism is this type of magic my sister and I thought up to help mortals protect themselves without our help, and-- Oh, sister, what are these?!” She gaped and looked at the statues all around.

Standing in the hallway, on either side of the velvety purple carpet, were anatomically correct statues of every single one of Galbar’s species; one for each gender, and in its idealized form. All of them were anatomically correct, and none of them were clothed. The statue of the Female Night Elf in particular happened to look very similar to Gibbou. “Oh, those? I sculpted them over the years. What do you think?”

Gibbou approached the Night Elves and looked them up and down through her fingers, plum-like cheeks flushing in hiding. She cleared her through unnecessarily thoroughly and swallowed before answering. “Uh-uhm… They’re, uh… Wow.” She sniffed once and pinched the bridge of her nose. “They’re nice - really nice, ahem.”

“I’m glad you think so! Anyhow, I’m in the next room. Sorry for not coming out to meet you; I wanted to get an honest reaction to what I’ve done with the place.”

“It’s fine!” she replied with a cracking voice. She corrected herself: “It’s fine. I’ll be right there.” She moved into the other room while burbling bubbles into her cup timidly. The doors to the next room opened on their own accord, and led into a vast open chamber that was unfurnished saved for a marble throne at the very end, a golden chandelier on the ceiling, and several side doors leading off to different rooms.

Cadien was seated on the throne, though unlike any other time she saw him, this time he was actually clothed. He was a clad in a set of shining golden armour, with muscles engraved on the chestplate. Upon his brow sat a golden circlet studded with amethysts, and on his back was a vibrant violet cape, which matched the colour of eyes.

Cadien rose to his feet and clapped his gauntleted hands together. “So!” he said, as she stepped into the room. “What do you think of my new look?”

Gibbou squinted somewhat. “It’s bright. A, a nice shade of it, though - since, y’know, it’s shady out.” She prodded her fingers together. “It suits you.”

“Oh, I see,” Cadien said, as realization dawned. He snapped his fingers, and the gold turned to black. “Is that better?” Without awaiting a response, he stepped forward and waved his hand. Two comfortable-looking armchairs materialized in the center of the room. Cadien sat down on one, and waited for Gibbou to take her seat on the other, which she did.

Gibbou’s squint turned to a frown. “Don’t get me wrong, but black isn’t, isn’t really your colour. You’re so bright and, and, and awesome - gold’s more your thing, y’know.” She punctuated the sentence with the sheepish suck of a tooth. “Sssssooo… Right, druidism! You wanted a reminder?”

Cadien nodded, as his armour once more morphed back into its familiar gold. “Yes. I’ve heard about this form of magic before, but I don’t know the specifics. Could you tell me more?”

“Right, so - like I was saying before - it’s a form of magic that allows mortals to perform miracles in our names in return for their pious behaviour and the spreading of such behaviour to the masses. It’s unlocked using this horn that me and a bunch’a others made, called Hir, which, uh, must’a been circulating a lot around the world, for the druids are praying away like they’ve realised the gods are coming back.” She tapped her chin. “Actually, that’s exactly what I came to talk to you about - the most pious of the druids!”

“And who would that be?” Cadien raised an eyebrow.

“... Okay, so I might not know him by name, buuut he’s a great guy - just making life for mortalkind around Toraan so, so swell! That’s why - hear me out - that’s why I think we should give him our blessing; y’know, so he can gather like-minded druids and form some kind of organisation and spread that wonderous piety all throughout the land!”

“Really? What sort of blessing did you have in mind, then?”

“Something… Something that’ll help them stay on the road in peace. People often depend on these druids to come heal their wounded, treat their sick, help the crops. I feel like we ought to help them do that job to the best of their abilities. Let them sleep in peace at night so they can move further on the road the next day; give them perhaps an aura to ward off brigands and beasts seeking an easy meal? Hmm?” She winked at Cadien. “Something like a perfect smile?”

Cadien replied with just such a smile. “Mmm yes, I see. I’m not sure what a smile will do to deter cannibalistic brigands, but I suppose it won’t hurt. Mayhaps I could also increase their strength, or their stamina. There’s an idea.”

“Stamina, perhaps, so they at least can outrun threats. I’d rather not turn my precious druids into fighters, Cadien,” mumbled the moon goddess. “But, uh, yeah, sounds good?”

“Sure! You did tell me how to create that moon, so I suppose I do owe you something. Hmm… I never did get to ask your opinion on that purple moon, actually. Did you like it?”

“It’s, uh…” She hummed. “It reminds me of you. Really, uh, stands out in the night sky. Anyway,” she cleared her throat and brought up an image of the druid in question, who seemed to currently be journeying over a hill along with a colleague, a human woman dressed in the same white robes. “Shall we get to it?”

“Very well,” Cadien nodded. “You start, and I shall follow your example.”

Gibbou nodded and drew some bright circles in the air with moonlight, filling in the spaces between the circles with runes. “All druids who follow this man, wherever you may be on the world below…” In the image, the cloud cover seemed to darken over the pair, and the mortals looked around with puzzled expressions. “... I hereby name you the Circle of the Long Stride, and yours shall be a unit devoted to helping villages all throughout the land.” In the image, flashes indicated the presence of thunder. “You will found a moot to meet once every year - there, you will lay your routes for which villages you are to aid every season. Go out - spread the good words of druidism to every corner of Galbar. For this, no beast, brigand nor bereavement shall befall you after nightfall - your every evening shall pass without issue. This is my blessing to you, Circle of the Long Stride…” With that, Gibbou passed the circle on to Cadien.

Cadien accepted the circle with a nod. “To the Circle of the Long Stride,” he said, in a serious tone. “To help you carry out these duties, I, Cadien, give you a blessing. I give you the gift of endurance. You will tire less quickly whilst walking or running, and you will be more resistant to any sicknesses you encounter in your travels.” Then, Cadien’s lips curled into a grin. “I also bless you with perfect smiles. Never again shall your teeth rot or decay.”

“Oh, that’ll in handy!” Gibbou remarked and looked into the image. The mortals seemed to already be noticing the visible parts of their blessing, pointing at each other faces. Before long, they were both laying themselves down in the grass to praise the gods. Gibbou clapped her hands excitedly as the image disappeared. “Oh, they look so happy! Thank you so much, Cadien!”

“You’re quite welcome,” Cadien said with a nod. “Was there anything else you needed assistance with?”

“Oh, uh…” she drummed her chin thoughtfully. “Can’t, uh… Can’t think of anything at the moment. Oh! Did you manage to replicate my, uh, my soul thing?”

“I did,” Cadien nodded, as his smile widened. “My new… avatar, I decided to call it, is wandering Galbar as we speak. As is Qael’s, and Illyd’s. Iternis should be making one soon as well. In fact, as we speak they should already be in the process of informing everyone. You’ve done a great favour for us, Gibbou.”

“Oh, pssshhh. It was nothing! Just gotta ask - are yours, uh… They aren’t, y’know…” She paused. “They’re loyal, right?”

“Mine should be,” Cadien said. “Instead of binding the fragment of my soul to one mortal, I’ve decided to have it move. It changes hosts every few years. If one of these hosts turns against my purpose, it will eventually move on to someone else. Then there’s Illyd’s… he basically just made himself, so I doubt he’ll have too many troubles. I’m not sure about Qael’naath’s - I didn’t ask him for specific details. Anyhow, I have high hopes.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful! Better to try a lot of solutions! After all, mine, uh… Mine didn’t work so well--Anyway! It was really nice of you to help out, Cadien. Will I be seeing you around?” She started moving towards the doorway.

“You will,” Cadien confirmed, as he rose to his feet, walked past her, and held the door open for her. “As for your own avatar, Gibbou… I wouldn’t worry too much, if I was you. I think that, eventually, he’ll come to realize that your gift to him far outweighs whatever you took away. Maybe one day he’ll forgive you, or perhaps even be grateful.”

Gibbou stood in the doorway, back facing Cadien. She snickered quietly, but it had a cold politeness to it. “Heh, yeah… Doubt it. See ya around, though, Cades. Was nice hanging out.” With that, she made her way towards the realm’s exit portal.




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Hidden 4 days ago Post by Enzayne
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Enzayne Invading Eldar

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Frostbite, Part 1.


Featuring Sanya


A collab between @AdorableSaucer and @Enzayne.





The chill shook her to the bone; a biting wind howling over the tundra that seemed to pierce through her furs and cloth. Sanya trudged forwards through knee-high snow, struggling to pull her feet forwards, staking out a path ahead by sticking Sorrowsting’s shaft deep into the white wasteland and leaning on it as she walked. It was long past the point of return - there was no way she’d make it back through the canyon on what meagre supplies she had left. However much conflict her heart stirred in the moment, the building worry of facing death at long last - it was too late to change her mind. There was nothing here on the northern edge of the land, no villages to whisper from afar, no sorrow dancing on the wind to distract her.

Just snow, and cold. She exhaled a crisp, painful breath, watching the last heat in her body evaporate in a cloud in front of her. Her fingers gripped her spear - unchanged after all this time - hard, the pain from her forceful grip the only sensation left in her fingers. She wouldn’t last much longer now. The hollowness would finally go away. Her crimes paid for. Forgotten and alone. It was for the best. “You win, goddess,” she muttered to herself, knowing no one was listening to her. If the goddess had ever heard her prayers, she had never shown it.

She trudged like that until the sun glared from it’s highest perch, followed by the sound of snow crushing under her fur-wrapped moccasins. The sun blinded her with unyielding light, bright white snow cutting into her eyes. The slow build of warmth she felt was a lie - she knew that much about surviving in the cold. The fact that she could barely feel her legs told her all she needed to know. Still, she came to a slow stop. Breathing quiet, as her eyelids battled both fatigue and the sharp light bouncing from the snow. Perhaps she’d just lie down right here. Just for a moment. Catch her breath. Perhaps the goddess would finally let her rest. Let her die.

With that, the dark-haired woman fell backwards in the snow, knees giving out to fatigue and her spear failing her. She’d just rest a little while. Or forever. Sanya managed a half-smile, as she closed her eyes.




A warm sensation brought life back to Sanya’s body. When she opened her eyes, she saw the ceiling of a tent curtain, likely fashioned from animal skins. The air was humid and soothing, and colouring the soundscape was the pull of an outside storm on the curtains of the tent. There was also a small bubbling sound from the centre of the tent, from which a flickering light danced across the ceiling.

Was this the afterlife? The thought passed her by only briefly, as her head tilted to watch her surroundings. No - the afterlife wouldn’t bless her with a headache, of that much she was certain. Sanya did her best to sit up, exhaling sharply in the humid tent. Confusion ran through her. “Where-...” she uttered with a hoarse throat.

Next to the fire sat an old woman, hair as white as the snow outside and face as wrinkled as a raisin. With surprising agility, however, she shuffled over to Sanya and shook her head, gently pushing her down while mumbling something in a language Sanya could barely make out. The words were similar to southern tongues, and yet so terribly different. There was one word that stood out, though: “No.”

Sanya groaned in frustration, yet neither her body nor her willpower found purchase enough to battle the old woman in any more than token resistance, and she fell back down under the administration of the crone, too fatigued to make a fuss beyond a sharp exhale. She hadn’t known there were people here, hadn’t felt anything. Had she been so caught up in her own woes? Again? “...Where am I?” the dark-haired highlander managed after a few moments of thought, and immediately regretted it as her throat felt like it was being raked across a stony beach. “..Water?”

Sanya fanned her right hand outwards slowly, and her head twisted slowly when she could not find Sorrowsting loyally awaiting her embrace. Anxiety began to bubble in her chest, delirious breaths growing quicker.

The old woman had retreated to the fire at the centre of the tent, over which a reindeer stomach sack was suspended from a bone hook hanging from the ceiling. She scooped a wooden bowl into the “pot” and pulled out a bowl full of some sort of stew, which she brought over to Sanya and offered to her, saying something she again didn’t understand, though it sounded imperative. To further indicate what she was saying, she pointed five fingers into her mouth with her opposite hand and repeated the word she had spoken: “Hapmat!”

The woman’s insistence wore down Sanya’s defenses quicker than she had expected, and Sanya found herself weakly accepting the bowl as she watched the woman’s gesture. It wasn’t the first time she had come up against a dialect she couldn’t understand - it was becoming all the more regular as a matter of fact. Some gestures, despite some regional changes, always meant the same. Sanya glanced down to the stew, gently wobbling it back and forth and watching small chunks roll back and forth with brief apprehension. She’d had worse. With that in mind, she lifted the bowl to her lips slowly, and tilted it to taste the offering.

The warm stew left a glowing heat filling her with a little touch of life from inside. Sanya tasted it again with a little more gusto, it was only now she realized how hungry she was. If they had wanted to kill her, they’d have left her in the cold. Had she collapsed? She struggled to remember now, in the heat, and the comfort with food in her hands.

The old woman gave her a reassuring nod as she started drinking. She hobbled back to the fire and continued stirring around with a long femur bone. Then, in a blasting breath of wind, the entry flap of the tent flew open, revealing an entering shadow which grew into a young man, cheeks red and bare from the cold outside. The old woman immediately started chewing him out, and the young man looked humbled by the scolding. In his hands, he held a number of pelts which seemed to be wrapped with sinews around something long and thin. After the old lady seemingly calmed down, the man trod over to Sanya’s side and said his greetings in their unfamiliar tongue.

Sanya paused as she tried to follow the scolding. It was no use, too many of their words seemed like a strange jumble unlike anything she’d heard in decades, spoken much too quickly for her to catch anything but snippets. If she had to guess, there were a few borrowed phrases from the waterfolk in there, but that too was entirely a shot in the dark - she hadn’t seen one of them for at least… she wasn’t sure any more. Hundreds of years? What did a waterfolk even look like, again?

Sanya shook out of her daze as the man spoke to her, looking over at him as he stood by her side. Her eyes fell to the furs he carried, before she looked back at the expectant man. The humid air was making her tired, the hot food was a blessing just to hold in her hands that somehow still managed to ache just a little. “...Hello,” she managed in a polite murmur as she lowered the bowl, trying her best to sit upright without jostling too much.

The man looked somewhat confused at what she said and turned to the old lady to ask something. The old lady offered a somewhat loud answer and the man nodded understandingly. He laid the long object on his lap and pointed to his face. He shook his finger a little to make sure Sanya was paying attention before saying, “Sabba”.

There was certainly no mistaking that gesture, she’d been exposed to it countless times as village dolts tried to introduce themselves. She hesitated and studied the young man for a few moments before raising her left hand and pointed at him with her whole hand. “Your name, Sabba,” she repeated clearly, and moved her hand to lay it flat against her own chest. “My name, Sanya.” She wanted to ask more, but stopped herself. She doubted they’d understand. She’d let Sabba think he was directing this meeting.

The man grinned and pointed at her. “Sanya!” He then turned to the old lady and boasted something fierce, mentioning Sanya’s name once or twice. The old lady hummed coarsely back as she gave the stew another taste. The young man then turned back and gestured to the item in his lap, which he began to unpack. It quickly became clear that Sorrowsting laid within as he plucked off the sinews and pelts. Once it was all unwrapped, he pointed to it and then to her and asked her a question.

Sanya felt her heart skip a beat, eyes transfixed as he unveiled the black-and-silver weapon that had followed her through the millennia. Her hand immediately shot out half-way in an attempt to reach it, but the attempt died down as she reconsidered their hospitality, and she cleared her throat, looking up at the young man properly. With no mind to comprehend his question beyond his pointing, she nodded, and repeated his gesture instead, speaking as she did. “It is mine.”

The young man nodded and laid it down between them, saying some additional words with a smile. With that, he rose up and exited the tent, likely saying farewell to the old lady as he left. The old lady let out a hum in his direction. After a moment, she hobbled over to Sanya, took her bowl, brought it back over to the fire and refilled it. She then hobbled back and offered it to her again, shouting the same phrase: “Hapmat!”

Sanya stroked a few fingers over the spear, watching it in thought as the bowl was taken away from her. The bitter memories of an eternity of crying, hate, and vengeance nagged at the back of her mind. She should have thrown it away long ago. So why didn’t she? Not even when she came out here to die. She accepted the new helping of stew with a forlorn smile, painting over her morose thoughts. Sorrowsting was as much part of her as her arm, now. It drank deep of her pain, and she carried it to ever new bloodshed. No one else should be enticed to wield such a wicked weapon. Goddess’ favour indeed. She scoffed to herself as she lifted the bowl to her lips once more, closing her eyes to immerse herself in the stew instead.

The warmth was enough to relax the worst of her anxiety. The onslaught of worries could come later, she was tired. She had food, heat, shelter. And the whispers were quiet. However many lived out here in the middle of nowhere, none of them stained Sanya’s presence with pain. Perhaps they had found happiness in a desolate place like this. Sanya relished at the thought as she put the bowl aside, leaning back and laying a hand on the hilt of her spear. Maybe she could learn the language.




A week passed like it was nothing to a two millennia old woman, and the tribe she had taken refuge with quickly grew to appreciate her combat prowess. She picked up a few words, primarily names. In addition to Sabba, she now knew the name of the old lady, her caretaker Lehtta. She had also learned the name whom she presumed to be the chieftain, who had come to see her earlier in the week, a middle-aged man known as Tude. She had aided them numerous times, particularly with fending off predators from the reindeer herds the people kept. The tribe itself was known as the Weike, as Sanya had recently heard the chieftain refer to its members as. Sanya had done her best to carry conversations with them, both to impart words of her own, and to learn theirs. As was regular with unknown peoples she had stumbled on before, they often gave up and gestured instead. Still, the tribe, and especially Lehtta, in her own way, seemed to have endless patience with her stern insistence to talk to them in her own language. And she’d caught Sabba looking at her practicing during what little downtime they had. He was either taken with her, or with Sorrowsting. For his sake, she hoped it was the former.

One day, however, when Sanya was out with the reindeer herders, a beast unlike any which they had seen before came thundering down the hillside - or, correction: Sanya had seen one like it before. This one was somewhat shorter than the one she had met two thousand years ago, but there was no doubt about its breed, for it came in, ate four fully grown reindeer and nearly crushed the two herders in the process. Being ill-prepared, the herders had urged Sanya to help them keep control of the reindeer flock. Sanya felt the same panic grip her as the first time she had seen it. Somewhere deep inside, old memories and ancient hatred rustled free from their prisons and surged through her body with a chill that stood her hairs on end. Nowhere was safe. The eternal enemy of mankind did as it pleased and suffered no repercussions. Even out here, in no man’s land. The others shouted at her in their own language, and she ripped out of her frozen state to watch the creature barrel through. Sorrowsting gripped tightly, she readied herself to intercept the beast. She knew first-hand what result leaving it alone would have.

The troll stopped its feeding and turned to Sanya, bloodied lips curling into a grin. It stood at least ten metres tall, its face all but obscured by the storm if it hadn’t been for the crimson all over its jaw. The reindeer herders had run some distance away, shouting and shouting Sanya’s way. However, their words were unintelligible. Meanwhile, the troll thundered its way towards the warrior, bringing one of its arms low to scoop her out of the snow.

Perhaps it was the lingering effects of wandering to exhaustion - perhaps she was just rusty. The big creature swung it’s paw and she felt herself leave the ground, her knuckles turning white in their gloves as her grip on her weapon was all she retained. Flashes of the horror she had felt all that time ago turned in her stomach, stirring feelings to life she did not know she was capable of without outside interference anymore. That endless, bottomless hate. Existential dread.

The troll brought her to its head and unleashed a deep, rumbling laughter. It thunders a series of coarse, guttural words in a voice as deep as the ocean itself, sending tremors through Sanya’s body. It then seemed to await an answer for an awkwardly long time, it’s grin turning to a frown over time as it frequently would repeat its words, intermittently adding in questions.

The rumbling thunder of its words were a mockery to the natural order. In her head, Sanya saw the teeth, the shape of its mouth. The casual malice that echoed what she had witnessed so very long ago. The awkward pause was enough to gather her anguish, her hatred, and her courage. Sanya lunged herself through the storm as best she could, an unsteady hand forcing Sorrowsting towards the lumbering menace’s eye. If the spear had ever wanted to listen to her pain, now was the time.

The troll was quick to pull her away before the spear made contact, clicking its tongue disapprovingly while rumbling some additional mocking remarks, most likely. It unleashed a loud guffaw and flicked her head from side to side with an index finger as though he was tickling her.

The flicks were like getting jostled with a log moving of its own volition, and Sanya struggled to maintain any semblance of balance, and her ability to breathe in the storm. She remembered the terror of-.. what was his name? Saaen? She remembered his face as a beast like this one swept him up from the ground. It toyed with her, like it had toyed with him. Fuming with a frustrated rage, she spun the spear in her hands, and instead jabbed it straight down into the trolls’ palm.

The troll roared, opening his grip and letting her fall into the snow below. The spear had drawn blood, and the troll grit its teeth together at the pain with an intensity that could almost be felt in the air. Its humorous expression turned to one of bestial rage as it once more thundered towards the warrior, only this time with balled fists ready to crush. It would start with a stomp, raising its foot to squash her to pulp. Sanya threw herself forwards, coating herself deep in cold snow to evade the earthquake-like eruption that slammed down where she had landed. She was like an ant to the massive creature, and were it not for the intense hatred stealing all reason from her mind, she would have run long ago.

But Sanya was no more human in demeanour than this bestial creature. With a tame attempt to gain her footing and keep some sort of momentum, she swung her spear again, this time towards the leg that had slammed down where she had stood. It was her best chance, before the beast started swinging. The spear connected, and its divine edge was enough to pierce the stone-like skin of the giant. Blood spilled forth and darkened the snow and the troll clutched its leg in both agony and confusion - never before had a human weapon been able to wound it. Defensively, now, it tried to slap her far away as it began to hobble backwards.

The heavy snow and the biting chill was enough to make her slow. Sanya did her best to get out of the way, but the giant hand caught her easily in the storming weather, and the human woman was sent careening across the tundra with due force, landing at the mercy of a cluster of deep snow with the wind knocked out of her. It took her several moments to even realize what had happened, thoroughly dazed from what had fortunately been a relatively minor assault. She released a heavy, tired breath. Her clothes were beginning to let the chill in. Her body ached with adrenaline and the manhandling the beast had given her. Still, she did her best to fight to her feet.

Her respite would be longer than she may have expected, though, for the troll was gone by the time she returned to its spot, a long trail of blood drops tracing it to what the storm revealed to be surprisingly close mountains. Voices against the wind revealed also that a search party was coming for her. Sanya quickly scrambled in the snow, trudging at due pace towards the trail of blood. Snow-soaked gloves made the cold start biting at her renewed grip around the hilt of Sorrowsting, and it didn’t take many breaths for her to realize how out of breath the encounter had made her. Still, she pushed forward, but it was too late. The beast was gone, and she had barely reached the trail when the voices grew closer. Fatigue began to set in again, against her wishes, and she narrowed her eyes to stare towards the mountains. Now, or tomorrow. It didn’t matter to her. Death was here.

Behind her, a group of hunters came jogging through the snow, led by Sabba wielding a bone-tipped spear. They gathered around her, Sabba being closest. He grabbed her by the shoulder and asked her something she barely understood - it contained the words “are you”, she was fairly certain, but the other words, she couldn’t quite make out. The other hunters used stiff brushes of straw to dust the snow off of her before cloaking her in reindeer pelts. Then, they began to carry her back to the village. Sanya gestured wildly at the trail of blood leading away from the scene, “We can hunt the beast, I wounded it,” she breathed, but knew when that they neither understood nor listened. She tried to quell her tired, hollow rage as they lifted her towards the village, taking Sabba’s hand in her own as he repeated his question. Sabba followed her finger and shook his head as though she had suggested they all jump off a cliff. He replied with a long sentence which started with the most useful of words: “No.” After that, they redoubled their pace back to the village.

Sanya gave in, feeling the warmth of the pelts and the villager’s efforts mingle with the growing anxiety of the villagers. For just a moment, she reflected on what she felt - it was the first time she felt negative emotions coming from the villagers. Was this what she wrought upon the living? She shook it off as fatigue began to set in properly. She’d convince them to hunt the beast down eventually. They’d see it was for the best. For their safety.







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Hidden 4 days ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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Goldeagle1221 I am Spartacus!

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~O~
Illyd Dyll





Returning to the hammock he strung up in Antiquity, Illyd Dyll shifted the broken flute though his fingers. With the expert fall of a true sloth, he collapsed over the lip of his hammock and right into the pouch. The thick smell of grass poofed out of the fabric as he got comfy in his cocoon. He shuffled and shifted until his harp was in the crook of one arm, the flute resting in his lap.

He could hear the various conversations taking place in the area, the vast reunions, the splendid introductions. The many voices, paired with his first glimpse at Galbar and his own inability to access not only such a world but his own past lead a forlorn muse in his chest that then vibrated out to his arms and eventually to his fingers.

Slowly he began to pluck his harp, trying to match this feeling. It was like a cloud balled up into a fist, settling in his upper chest -- itching to get out. He cleared his throat, finding a voice in between the gentle strums of his instrument.

”Beyond bittersweet graves and fenny fens a harvest came early,
Fields bygone slaves to the tree a single grain was planted sorely,
Oh, what can two feet do when they wander upon a land too soon?
Make haste and find the end of the start, sun replaced by moon.

No wheat will grow here, the light is gone.
No happiness will sow here, the light is gone
Join the harvest of the past, where a smile may last.


Illyd took a long and sorrowful pull off the flute, letting it echo by his harp strings before continuing.

”Beyond bittersweet graves and fenny fens a harvest came early,
A duo braves an end written before their start with guilt portly,
Oh, what can two feet do when they wander upon a land too soon?
Make haste and find the answer, so says the crow to the moon.

No wheat will grow here, the light is gone.
No happiness will sow here, the light is gone
Join the harvest of the past, where a smile may last.



The god dropped his harp and picked up his banjo, quickening the pace of his song.

”Beyond bittersweet graves and fenny fens a harvest came early,
The end was in sight; a child of the unseen with eyes pearly,
Oh, what can two feet do when they wander upon a land just in time?
Make haste, figure of justice -- and undo the crime.

Water the fields, the winter is over,
Shed your coat, the winter is over,
Join the harvest in fervor, with a smile for and ever.


Strumming fast, the song began to change completely.

”Pumpkins, apples and pears!
New friends and awkward stares!
Barley, hops and wheat!
Oh so many people I want to meet!


His strings furrowed he hit the wrong note, causing him to flinch. He giggled to himself, ”I’ll have to work on that one.”


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Hidden 4 days ago Post by Commodore
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Commodore Condor

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The two large rivers rushed by the walls of the great city, the Great Azumai and the Riinara which fed into it. A great number of river boats had been docked all along the myriad docks, the peninsular city had a greater border with the rivers than it did the land.

In the great square of the city a crowd formed around the raised platform stone that led back to the central palace-temple. The palace was layered, level built on level, each ringed with ever more senior officiants. Noble Retainers ringed the lower levels as was their duty rather than their status. At the top the highest of priests and the royal family sat, as well as a few trusted advisors.

All around the square were shops for the most part, a number of closed market stalls that had been repurposed for guards in this event, most of everything was closed in the city for now, one bought and prepared in the days before the festival.

Horns blared from the parapets of the mid levels of the palace-temple, Noble Retainers calling the crowd to order below. Reluctantly the crowd went silent, watching with intent as the faint sounds of the river could be heard in the distance. A Retainer walked out onto the central lower platform to make her announcement.

The scrapping of her sandals along the stones of the platform could be heard throughout the square, the crowd held silence in the softly growing darkness waiting for the correct time.

Unlit braziers sat on rooftops around the square, guards with torches waited by them. The square was filled with the peoples of the city, Humans most wearing simple clothes as they came from their various workplaces during the day. And Night Elves wearing krazhafans, a kind of combined veil and hat to dampen the sounds and light of the city during times like this. The few Itztli in the city were among those in the palace-temple, serving in various roles there.

The Retainer stopped near the end of the platform, and she stood in the middle of the crowd and spoke out.

“I present to you the Guardian of the Peace of the City, the Supreme Architect on the River, your ever faithful King-”

She was interrupted by the crowd chanting the final word.

“NAZ-GA-MUN-DI”


A shadowed figure at the top of the palace-temple stepped forward up onto the parapet and lept off. He was caught by streams of water that shot out of hidden jugs in the palatial levels, flames flared from every level of the palace-temple as the guards around the square lit the braziers lighting up the square.

Bolts of fire lit up the skies in many colors of brief mage-fire, the streams of water lowered the figure from the palace top down to the platform below as the Retainer hurried back to her assigned position along the palace-temple wall.

The crowd cheered and surged towards the platform trying to get as close as possible, the height of the platform made it impossible to scale with the disorganization of the crowd but some tried nonetheless.

As the figure touched down, his sandals landing on the stones of the platform the streams pulled back and he threw off his cloak, revealing the form of young Nazgamundi. Long curly black hair and pointy ears, bluish-grey skin, his eyes sparkled, some features pointed towards Elf, others pointed toward Human, a person who straddled both worlds there, the King as it was.

His hair cascaded down to his shoulders, his beard was long, styled and well groomed. He was bear of anything clothing save an elaborate kilt and jewelry. Armbands of bronze as well as rings of various metals, a bronze circlet encircled his head, all showed his high status. He stood for a minute, flexing and showing off his power. Not just physically, some signalled mages to direct out fire or other displays on his command. The crowd cheered louder.

He flexed his arms upward to the cheers of the crowd before clenching his left hand into a fist and lowering his right.

Horns blared out again to silence the crowd and they gradually came to a semblance of order once more, the various magics came to a halt as well leaving just the light of the grand braziers in the square and the dying light of the setting sun.

“My people! We have survived another year, another winter, we grow ever more prosperous!” He paused and the crowd remained silent, waiting. “For the fourth time I stand before you as your King at the start of this joyous time when great Amashu and her people will soon prepare the fields once more, and so once more we must celebrate the success of our great city, but also you the people to which I love so dearly.”

At the edges of the square, the guards had descended from the braziers to prepare the various jars and pots filled with beer brought out from the palace, they removed the sealing caps and placed the necessary drinking straws, no one wanted to swallow a barley hull after all.

“Under the gazes of the gods above I dedicate this Spring Festival to you! The People of Amashu! May the Festival commence, Luck for the new year!”

“Luck for the new year!”


With that most in the crowd fell quickly towards the beer, others stayed where they were eagerly watching the platform as King Nazgamundi left and performers came up.

They were of many kinds and types, some did great acts of ability or skill, others tricks of the eye, some were mages eager to show off some trick or skill. Over the course of the night many would come from acts of ability, or brief skits. The Skits always were the most popular, typically no one was punished for the skits so they easily ranged from the profane, to various criticisms or brief dramatic interludes often of foreign or far away events from the ‘civilized’ east or the ‘barbarous’ west. Some were better than others but the beer generally helped with that.

The night was long for Elves and Humans alike.

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Hidden 4 days ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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AdorableSaucer Blessed Beekeeper

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“No, no, no - you have to hold it in, my man. Come on.”

Twilight held his breath, the smoke burning like embers in his throat. Eventually, he couldn’t bear it anymore and coughed it back out. Oscar the thumbling laughed so hard he nearly fell off the flycap he sat on. “Oh, you’re such a sissy, Twi!”

”Easy for you to say! Your pipe’s so small!” replied the man coarse as he pounded his chest with his fist. The thumbling eyed its own pipe, fashioned from a tree splinter, then the long, curved, carven masterpiece which Twilight had seemingly conjured out of thin air. He gave a little shrug and repositioned himself on the flycap as he took another drag.

“I’d say they’re about proportional,” he conceded. Twilight smacked his lips to taste the smoke, bobbing his head from side to side to demonstrate his opinion.

”It’s decent, though. Where’d you say this pipeweed came from?” With a divine finger, he poked out a smouldering bit of grass and eyed it carefully. Oscar sucked thoughtfully on a tooth.

“Plucked it over by berry farmer Larson’s stead. He keeps a patch for when the nights get long and the kids get rowdy, y’know.” He gave the pipe a few smacking sucks and unleashed a plume of smoke the size of his head - or roughly the size of Twilight’s pinky nail.

”Y’don’t say… Any idea who made this?” Twilight mumbled and gave it a sniff in search of divine origin. It smelled, unsurprisingly, of smouldering grass. Oscar shrugged.

“Couldn’t say. Always been, from what I’ve heard.”

”That right…” Twilight mused and clapped his teeth passively over the mouthpiece of his long pipe. A snicker suddenly overtook him. ”Hope you didn’t snatch all of farmer Larson’s grass just for me, now.” Oscar waved a dismissive hand.

“I’m sure he’s got enough. Man smokes like a chimney, so he keeps a stash. Besides, I reckon he’d have no issue sharing with a kind-hearted vagabond. It’s not like we get a lot of strangers passing by.” He gave off a light-hearted chuckle. “Ain’t often people see our humble village for more than hollow stumps and mushrooms.”

Twilight sighed softly. ”Life here’s pretty peaceful, huh?” Oscar puffed out a series of tiny smoke rings that could’ve easily been mistaken for snowflakes defying gravity.

“By Saint Adrian, it’s downright idyllic,” he agreed, pulling the rim of his round straw hat down over his eyes to meet the setting sun. He tapped his tree splinter pipe on the cap of the flycap to dump out the ashes before he started squeezing in a new bowlful. Twilight, meanwhile, was getting used to the soft burn in his lungs, and though the effect of the plant was much too weak to affect him considerably, there was something comforting about a hobby like this. Something to share with others. A moment of silence followed, during which the only sounds where inhales, lip smacking and heavy exhales. Eventually, though, Oscar gave the horizon a squint and asked, “So, where you headin’ off to, anyway? Heard you’ve been talking with ol’ Dick about packing up.”

”Oh, y’know…” Twilight clicked his tongue. ”Got places to see, people to meet… World’s a lot bigger than the horizon, after all - and I’m planning on seeing it all.”

“Heh, is that right? You tall folk sure don’t let nothin’ stop ya, that’s for sure.” Oscar offered him a grin with his pipe firmly held between his jaws. Twilight returned the expression.

”I take it your kind’s not the adventuring sort?”

“Oh, now, quite the contrary, mister.” Oscar raised an objecting finger. “Thumblings are pretty well-traveled if I may say so.” Twilight snickered, but Oscar nodded still. “It’s true! Why, my uncle Roger over in Mossheap spent his youth hiking the continent around - in true Adriannic fashion, mind you! He was no quitter - no, siree. Didn’t lose his grip once, he didn’t. Whether it was elk or a pant leg, he held on like it was about life and death.”

”Your kind sure holds this ‘Saint Adrian’ in high regard, huh,” remarked Twilight with another suck of his pipe.

“How could we not? The man’s a legend. Stories say he rode the moon across the seas and all the way into history. Fought a fully grown askeladd with nothin’ but a pine needle, they say. Every Thumbling knows about that crazy sumbitch.” A plume of smoke punctuated his sentence.

Twilight blew his own plume through pursed lips. ”Rode the moon, huh…” He sucked a deep breath through the nose and knocked the ashes out of his pipe bowl into a nearby patch of swampy, moist moss. ”Adventure ain’t nothing for you, though, huh?”

“Nah. My uncle’s the exception in my family, I’ll be honest - sure, we’re mighty proud of him, but… Us Bumbledrums,” he sucked on a tooth, “we ain’t need nothin’ more than a full belly and a warm hut to come home to after a day in the berry bushes.”

”Yeah, I understand.” With that, Twilight deposited his pipe on the inside of his belt, which was a length of rope simply tied about his waist, clapped his hands over his knees and rose up, stretching his hands over his head. ”Well, I think it’s about time I got back on the road.”

Oscar pushed the rim of his hat upwards a little with the mouthpiece of his pipe to eye the horizon. “Y’sure you wanna be travelling at night, friend? It’s not like that spot you’ve been sleeping in’ll disappear any time soon.”

Twilight pressed his palms into his lower back and bent backwards. ”Oh, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. I feel more at home in the night than I do in the day, I’ll be honest. But hey, thanks for letting me stay as long as ya did. Hope I didn’t, uh, eat -all- the berries in your stock.” Once more, Oscar waved dismissively.

“Oh, sure, you might eat for ten thumblings, but it ain’t like we’re starving.” He took off his hat and turned to Twilight with a smile. “You’ll have a good one now, Twi. Don’t be a stranger if you pass by lil’ ol’ Marshstead, now. I’ll tell Lotty to make ya a houllin pie when you get back.”

”Heh, that’d be great, Oscar. You stay out of trouble now.”

“Likewise,” replied Oscar with a tip of his hat. Twilight returned the gesture with a nod and moved eastward through the marshes. He moved ceaselessly through the whole night, except to stop and eat some houllin berries he’d brought along with him. He took his time crossing the swamplands, taking in the sights, smells and textures of the bog with gusto. He hadn’t felt anything in his sleep, but the only truth he knew now was how great it felt to be awake. The coolness of the murky water, the harshness of the air’s scent, the heaps and dips of moss and muck - this place was alive. Twilight adopted a little frog one day, keeping it on his shoulder for a good hour before it skipped off and disappeared into a large puddle. The avatar hadn’t even been sad nor angry - life was blossoming here, even in such dull-looking wetlands. The world of the gods sure was magnificent - and now -he- had that same power.

One night, a certain song overruled the squelshes and squashes of his steps in the boggy terrain. Twilight found himself entranced by its tunes, and he had to investigate closer. The voice was deep and baritone, siren-like in its attractiveness. As Twilight drew closer, the melody was complemented by the rhythm of the ocean waves. The sea came into view across the marshland meadow, reflecting as it was in the moons’ light. There, by a small fire, Twilight saw a colossal shadow dancing beside it. Its every step shook the earth, but there was nothing menacing about it - if anything, it was beautiful.


As I went down to the ocean to pray,
Studyin’ about them good, ol’ ways ‘n who shall wear
That moonlit crown.
O love, show me the way.

Oooh, lovelies,
Let’s go down, let’s go down, c’mon down.
Oooh, lovelies,
Let’s go down, down to the ocean to pray.

As I went down to the ocean to pray,
Studyin’ about them good, ol’ ways ‘n who shall wear
That starry crown.
O love, show me the way.

Oooh, my wife,
Let’s go down, let’s go down, c’mon down.
Oooh, wifey,
Let’s go down, down to the ocean to pray.

As I went down to the ocean to pray...


Twilight was smitten. He had never heard such music before - literally. It was as though his every sense focused sucked on the creature’s every note. He couldn’t help but be drawn closer and closer - he had to know what manner of creature was making this music. His feet felt the transition from sticky moss to cool sand, and the creature’s tremors reverberated through his bones. There was a foul smell on the air, souring the experience somewhat - Twilight surmised it had to be the rotting seaweed on the beach. As he reached a distance of merely three metres from him, he let out a sigh and said, ”You have the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard.

The dancing giant stopped and turned, revealing a hollow-eyed, sinister grin as though made by a terrible amalgam of fish and man. Its skin sagged as though it had once been melting off its face and stiffened midway, and its teeth were vile and crooked. With a grateful nod, it spoke, “Why, thanks a bunch, mate. That’s awful kind o’ you.”

Twilight felt his heart nearly stop from the sight and he tossed himself down in the sand, burying his face in between the dunes in an effort to forget what he had just seen. Into the ground he screamed, ”BY THE GODS, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?!”

The giant blinked and patted its face. “Oh, scentin’ seawaves! ‘Ang on, mate, pardon that.” There came some rustling from behind Twilight and the avatar allowed himself to sneak a peek of what was happening. The giant was facing away, looking to be digging through a large pack until it found a circular, shadowed object, which it put on its face. “A’roight, should be good!” The giant turned back and sat down, its face now covered by a large, white mask with two eye-holes, as well as a smiling mouth drawn on it with charcoal. “Again, sorrey ‘bout that. Wuz singin’ to my wife ‘n, y’know, she likes me better withou’ the mask, if ye catch my drift.”

Twilight gulped and clutched his chest instinctively as he turned back to face the giant head on. The shock within him had yet to subside, but at least it wasn’t reinforced now by a second exposure to that… That face. He was certain it would’ve killed him. The giant looked expectantly at him. “Must say, you’re farin’ much better than other ‘umies I’ve run into wivvout the mask. Most, uhm… Well… Must keel roight on ova’, to be honest. Hurts me to the bone, it does, but gods demanded I look like this, ‘n… Y’know… S’long’s wifey is happy, so am I.”

Twilight conjured forth a lemon and contemplated squeezing it into his eyes. ”Who exactly demanded you look like this?” he replied sourly.

“Why, that’d be Lady Moon, of course,” the giant replied faithfully. “I’m a troll, after all.”

Twilight curled tightly his fists. That useless goddess!

“Not bitter about it, though!” added the troll, as thought it could sense what Twilight was thinking. The avatar blinked curiously at it and the troll nodded. “That’s roight. Oh, sure, every now ‘n then, it really isn’t pleasant to scare people to deaff, but you eventually learn to git aroun’ that, y’know?” He pointed to his mask. “Wearin’ this makes it pretty nice to interact wiff people, actually. Some’re nicer than ovva’s, of course - ‘umies tend to be pretty bitter against my kind. Not wivvout reason, of course - my kinsmen’ve done some mean fhings. Makes me curious, though - why ‘aven’t you run for the hills yet? ‘Umies usually do.”

”That so?” replied Twilight somewhat sarcastically. The troll didn’t react much, though. The man cupped his face in a propped up hand and sighed. ”Well, let’s just say I’m not like most other humans.”

The troll nodded sagely. “Yeah, that’s about roight. Seen many ‘umies fall over like you did, but very few get back up. Whot’s your secret? Might be nice to share with the rest of my kinsmen.”

Twilight frowned as he contemplated his reply. As he did so, he pulled out his pipe and patted some of the pipeweed he brought along for the journey into the bowl. “It’s, uh… It’s -this-!” He held up the pipe. “This, uh, grass keeps me calm and focused.” The troll leaned down and eyed it thoroughly.

“Ain’t that somefhin’... Where’d you get that?”

Twilight thumbed westward. “The grass is from the bog. The pipe, I made myself. I could show you how, if you’d like.”

The troll smiled even behind the mask. “Why, I’d be ‘appy to learn!”

And so, Twilight and the troll sat down together - Twilight with a knife and a small log; the troll with a flat boulder and a tree trunk - and got to whittling. They whittled together for a day or two, moving back and forth between the beach and the troll’s cave in the night and day respectively. They shared stories and jokes, and the troll, who Twilight learned had been honoured with the name Tidemand, explained to Twilight the nature of his kin and why he would spend every night singing for his wife to come back to him.

“See… Draug wives, they like the seas a bit better than us lads. They go swimming for long periods of the years, or they move way, far away down the beach. Only way to guide ‘em home is to sing to ‘em.”

”Has it worked?”

Tidemand’s gaze had lowered somewhat at this. “My wife’s gone for a long swim this year… I pray to the gods every day that all is well wiv’ ‘er.” This left Twilight with a clump in his chest.

After four days, their projects were completed: Twilight had carved himself a wholly new pipe, this time from scratch, and Tidemand had fashioned himself a similar craft, only that it was longer than Twilight was tall. The avatar had conjured forth some pipeweed, pretending he’d harvested it himself, and the two had spent the fifth night admiring the sea to the sound of smouldering grass and exhaled smoke. Tidemand had carved a small hole in his mask for the mouth piece to slip through. After days of conversation and banter, they sat in complete silence, enjoying each other’s company.

”Say, Tidemand?” Twilight suddenly mumbled.

“Hmm?”

”I, uh… I heard you singing to the seagulls earlier. I mean, you know I always love hearing you sing, but… Are you doing alright?”

The troll gave him a curious frown, then burst out into a guffaw. Twilight was a little taken aback. ”Woah, hey, I’m just asking!”

Tidemand sniffed and wiped a tear away from underneath his mask. “Oh, Twilight, forgive my laughin’, but… ‘Aven’t you ever ‘eard of the Worldsong?”

Twilight frowned. “The what-song? Is this a troll thing?”

Tidemand chuckled again. “No, friend, it’s the gift o’ Macsal to the world! I can’t say I’m an expert at it, but, well… It helps with keepin’ the gulls out of my food.” With that, he started rumbling in his baritone voice, a fantastic hum that seemed to calm the oceans and the winds. Twilight watched in awe as seemingly godly feats slowed down the natural forces as though they were sung a lullaby for. Then he heard it, ever so faintly, a million small voices singing back. He looked around searchingly and Tidemand nodded sagely.

“Ah, it’d seem you, too, have the gift of spiritsong.”

”The gift of what?”

“Of spiritsong! Macsal’s gift’a music to all fhings, from rocks te birds. Takes some time t’ learn how te sing back, but… I’ve found that listenin’ in on it really takes the sorrow out of bein’ alone on this beach in the night.”

Twilight eyed the sand ponderously as he took in the words, as well as the seemingly omnidirectional music coming from everything from the ground underneath him to the clouds above. It carried with it the emotions of everything - every part of Galbar, divine and mundane. It truly was a world song.

”Could you… Could you teach it to me, Tidemand?”

The troll sighed. “No, my good friend. That, I can’t.”

”Wait, why?”

He shrugged. “‘Cuz I ‘ave no idea how! It’s a miracle that you can even ‘ear it after such a short exposure! My, you really are an oddball as far as ‘umies go, huh…” When he saw Twilight’s disappointed expression, he tapped the part of his mask that covered his chin. “Well… I might not be able to, but… I know this ovva’ lass ‘cross the pond.”

”Across the pond? Is it your wife?”

“Nah, more like a cousin. She ain’t draug, though - she’s drighina - my kin, but still a bit different. Much closer to Macsal’s Worldsong than me. Veslemoy, is her name.”

Twilight pursed his lips. ”Which pond’re we talking about, by the way?”

Tidemand pointed at the sea before them. Twilight blinked. ”That’s it?” Tidemand nodded. ”I have to swim across the ocean?” Tidemand nodded.

“It ain’t small pond, I’ll admit, but if you want the experts, you’ll find ‘em on distant Kobasar. That’s whot the land’s called.” Tidemand dumped a bucket’s worth of pipeweed ashes out of his pipe and smacked his lips. “Give ‘er my best if you find ‘er, a’roight? Ain’t seen ‘er for a few years, so I hope all’s good wiv’er.”

Twilight emptied out his own pipe and stood up, stretching his back. ”I’ll have to cross that on my own?” Tidemand shrugged.

“Dunno. Are ‘umies good swimmers?”

”I mean… I might be,” Twilight proposed with a shrug of his own. As he waded into the sea, he turned to Tidemand and bowed respectfully. ”Hey, Tidemand. It, it really was a joy to spend time with ya.

“Likewise, Twilight. Make sure you don’t drown now, alright? Oh, and thanks for the pipe. I’ll make sure to teach this craft to everyone I meet.”

Twilight grinned back and then started swimming eastwards to Kubrajzar.




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Enzayne Invading Eldar

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Neiya, Genesis & Oraelia





The dizzying expanse of Antiquity left Neiya breathless. All around her were features that she had not created herself, sounds of activity and bustle from what she could only assume were others of her kind. She glanced movement in the distance, coming from a decorated tear in creation not unlike the one she had crossed through - and instantly felt a pang of anxiety wash over her. Neiya decided - in a fit of cowardice brought on by isolation - to drift to the right instead, hovering silently over the ground away from the immediate chaos unfolding closer to her own little portal. She’d explore in peace, and threw a last brief look the way she’d seen movement before pressing on. Her peace did not last long at all however, as the goddess carelessly drifting forwards without looking found herself nearly colliding with two other shapes that she missed in her initial daze.

”Eep-” A tiny squeak came from the smaller shape, which scrambled into a green blur as it hastily hid behind the larger, luminescent one with her leaves rustling in time with what one could assume to be her incredibly fast heartbeat.

”Oh? Hello there.” came a Goddess’ voice.

Neiya skid to a halt with a sharp breath, gripped with confusion and a brisk rush of panic brought on by isolation. She regarded the two of them as she collected herself, a child of a kind she had never seen before and the most luminous being she had ever seen - not that Neiya had met that many gods. After backing just a little bit in the air, she touched down on the ground slowly, turning the dirt beneath her naked feet ashen in colour. ”Oh,” she began, collecting herself. ”...I’m sorry, I didn’t see you. This is all… very new to me. I thought I was alone.”

The illuminated goddess smiled warmly. ”That’s alright. I’m Oraelia, and this is Genesis. Nice to meet another sibling. There seems to be a lot of them.” she said, the little green girl peeking out shyly from behind the bright goddess, staring up at Neiya with wide eyes.

The names resonated with the horned goddess, who searched her memory for the few encounters she’d had in the past. She had repeated it in her head enough times to burn them in for eternity. Her uneasy frown mellowed out, unable to present an immediately worried front as she glanced down to the girl. ”The God of Truth told me of both of you… long ago. Though in my head… I imagined you would be less… spry, Genesis,” she replied to them both, looking up again to nod at Oraelia. Indecision followed, and she followed her comment with a little more built-up confidence. “I am Neiya, Goddess of Love.”

At Neiya’s introduction, the girl perked up and, while still hiding behind Oraelia’s leg, asked. ”Love? Genesis likes Love. She loves the Sun. Wait… Sun is Ora.. Oralia?”

Oraelia patted Genesis on the head as she looked at Neiya again. She laughed, ”Sorry, I might have mentioned what Love was to Genesis. I was unaware we had a Goddess who embodied it, however. You’ll have to forgive me for stepping on your toes.” she finished, twirling her fingers around one another.

Neiya watched the two serenely during the exchange, the initial worry that had lingered now slowly dissipating as the conversation went on. After affording the little tree due attention, she followed Oraelia’s features and motions with her eyes as she spoke. Her head tilted ever so slightly, ice-blue eyes searching for the sun goddess’. ”I have confidence you gave it more than adequate representation, Oraelia,” she intoned in a confident reply. ”Have you been in this... valley... long?”

Oraelia looked around for a moment, then looked back at Neiya. ”Nope! Just got here really. You’re the sec- no, third God- No, fourth god I’ve met here. Technically Genesis doesn’t count, because she found me in my realm, but I caught up with Gibbou and then I saw Cadien. So, not long. Did you just arrive?” she asked.

Genesis whined and hugged herself close to Oraelia’s leg, ”Genesis counts!” Oraelia giggled and rubbed Genesis’ head again. ”Of course you do, how silly of me!” she said happily.

Neiya stiffened briefly, glancing around what she could see of Antiquity in a brisk lookout. Was she here? She afforded herself a sharp, centering breath as the two were distracted amongst themselves, and did her best to look dispassionate as she twisted halfway to gesture at her little tear in reality, just barely showcasing the bleak plains and ever-wilting trees beyond. ”...Yes, I came out of there, just now. It’s just been me for a long time. Well, and the mortals who remember me. I had their woes to keep me company.” She glanced back to the both of them, clearing her throat. ”You two make a very pleasant pair.”

Genesis grinned, but that grin disappeared as she took a closer look through Neiya’s portal, then shifted her gaze to the pale goddess of love. ”Neiya’s trees are sad and sick. Why? It is very sad, Genesis likes it when trees are happy and green. Not gray!” She said with a hint of a pout.

Oraelia tilted her first at Neiya, then to her portal, then back to the love Goddess. She put a hand on Genesis’ shoulder. A somber tone filled her voice as she spoke. ”Just like my sister… Alone for so long. I’m sorry to hear that Neiya, I can’t imagine what that would feel like. But wait… You could hear them? The mortals?” she asked perplexed.

Neiya pursed her lips in a soft frown, shifting her shoulders as the conversation invariably turned to her realm. She nodded to them both before turning to Genesis, a hand lifting as though she was about to launch into a lecture. ”You see, little Genesis, these trees bloom with the most beautiful petals. If they were like that all the time, we would not appreciate it as much.” Before anyone had a chance to delve deeper into the logic of her statement, she turned to Oraelia again. ”At first I was cut off from the-... emotions of mortals. As I began to feel their presence again, so too did I begin to hear those who called out to me. If I understand it correctly, there are groups of them who exalt our names, and ask for our favor. You-..” she extended her hand towards Oraelia briefly, as if to reach for her face, but caught herself in the act and retracted it towards her chest. ”You could not hear anyone?”

Oraelia’s eyes opened a bit as Neiya’s hand approached, then she shook her head as the Goddess withdrew and asked her question. ”I was unable to keep myself from falling asleep. It felt… Smothering. I only woke up again now, realizing that the world had moved on for two thousand years…” her voice full of sadness and regret. ”Perhaps if I had been awake… Well, no use dwelling on it now, I suppose.”

Neiya watched with renewed fascination, nodding slowly and with a measure of understanding. Her own tone was gentle and comforting, shutting out the roil of emotion from inside. ”Bottling your thoughts up is never healthy, in that manner we are as mortals. If you ever need a listener, Oraelia,” she began, tilting her head. ”I would be honored to be there for you.” She turned to Genesis, thinning out the small frown that had dominated her features, doing her best to appear friendly. ”That goes for our little friend here, too. You’re welcome to visit me any time.”

”Oooah! Can Genesis see the trees bloom? Please, pleaaaase! She likes flowers and petals!!”

The sun Goddess smiled warmly at Neiya. ”You’re so kind, dear. I’ll remember that, I promise. And the same can be said to you. If ever you need me, don’t hesitate to ask.” she said, putting her warm hand on Neiya’s shoulder. The touch was enough to make Neiya hesitate briefly, certain the sun goddess would be imparted with at least a miniscule taste of the turmoil that the horned goddess seemed to radiate.

Still Neiya put on a brave face, nodding to them both in turn. ”When next the trees are in bloom, I’ll make sure to come find you. Both of you. We’ll enjoy a moment of peace together.”

”Yay!” Genesis celebrated, hopping in her spot.

Oraelia withdrew her hand and flashed another smile. ”It was nice meeting you Neiya! It fills my heart with happiness, getting to know more of my siblings. Don’t be a stranger now.” she said charismatically.

”I wouldn’t dream of it.” Neiya offered with a soft tone, as tranquil as she could manage in the moment. As if to draw the conversation towards its end, the pale goddess lifted back up off the ground, toes dragging along the dirt briefly as she resumed her hover. ”When the petals bloom, then.”

”When they bloom.” Oraelia waved.








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Leotamer

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Sirius floated in the void of the Quasar. He had experienced the years pass by but did not understand the significance of its length. He had completed his great work. Resting in the first star, Sirius didn't resist the Lifeblood's pull, only using his divine power to bring the remnants of his home with him, infusing it into his new realm.

As he was alone within the Lifeblood's grasp, he continued to work on his great pattern and answered the prayers of the faithful.

When the portal formed, he quickly entered it before returning to his realm, noticing the presence of other gods. He was not immediately sure how to handle this new development, but he adapted quickly. He reshaped the portal and formed a door of solid asteroid to fit around it, but decided to leave it open for the time being.

He also called upon the image of a creature that he had seen on Galbar, leons, and created a giant version of one of them to oversee his realm in his absence, which he named Nemea.

Sirius did not mind being physically separate from Galbar, but there was still work that needed to be done. He readied himself and passed through the portal.



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Hidden 3 days ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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Goldeagle1221 I am Spartacus!

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Ketrefa

The Warrior and the Prostitute - Part 1





The House of Ambrosia had nothing to do with food, nor was it much of a house. In reality it was a cramped area of the old city where an open sky market used to be. Where stalls used to be crammed between the hefty stone buildings and dark alleys, now stood seductive men and women. Some were free, others stood on raised platforms to be sold indefinitely. A certain rot overtook this part of the old city -- it was in the rotting gutters of the buildings, the rotting platforms of the slavers, in the very soles of the inhabitants sandals. Whoever coined the name for this market of vice clearly had a sense of humor.

But it was here in the House of Ambrosia that a certain man of a certain type lingered. He never came to partake, yet his presence brought a smile to some of the prostitutes faces. He was a tall man with an ugly face, meaty arms and a scarred back. His nose was busted at an angle from a life of fighting, and a hefty bronze axe dragged on his belt. His name was Eriff, and he was a warrior.

One of the smiling prostitutes ran up to him. She had age written on the sides of her dark eyes and her aging dress of flowy greens hinted at a once prosperous career being snuffed by time. Recognition as well as a slight greed reflected in her eyes at the sight of Eriff. Her name was Pricilla, and she was a has-been.

“Eriff!” She linked an arm around one of his, the very action pushing back the thoughts of any of the other men and women of the House. Eriff gave a split-lipped smile.

“Pricilla.”

Pricilla’s smile faded and she nodded. Eriff’s shortly followed and he furrowed a thick brow, “Again?”

“Again,” Pricilla confirmed.

“Who?”

“I don’t know his name, but I can take you to his post.”

“A guard!?”

“What of it?”

“I’m not looking to get arrested.” Eriff crossed his arms over his chest, forcing Pricilla to let go.

“Eriff,” She placed a hand on his shoulder, “You can have all of it this time, I just can’t be humiliated like this again. Once word gets out-”

Eriff held up a hand, “He better be skinny.”

“And small,” Pricilla nodded.

“I don’t need to know about that, Priss,” Eriff groaned and Pricilla hardened her stare.

“I mean he is short, Eriff.”

“Oh,” Eriff made a face, “Of course.” The man looked around, other eyes digging into him -- awaiting their turn. He let out a sigh, “Bring me to the post, but this is going to be fast and quick -- understand?”

“Fast and quick,” Pricilla parrotted, then mumbled, “typical man.”

Hooking her arm back through Eriff's, the prostitute began to tug him away from the House of Ambrosia and through one of the many dark alleys that spiderwebbed through the old city. They stepped over puddles that never seemed to go away, through stale clouds of miasma that had the same permanence in the back city, and past crusty fragments of a life long lost that could have once been a person (another seemingly permanent fixture in this part of the city). The greedy dogs who took the form of men with knives and men with lust that often hunted in the alleys gave Eriff a wide berth, an angry recognition in their eyes -- forcing proud sneers from Pricilla as they passed by.

Now and again a prostitute on her or his way back to the House would greet them with a smile or a small “Hey Eriff!” but the business painted on Eriff’s visage often told them they wouldn’t get much more than a “hello,” or grunt depending on their friendship with the warrior. The rest of the walk was much of the same on a loop -- that was until they neared the Southern gates.

The Southern gates stood apart from the rest of this part of the city in the same way a diamond might shine out of a dungheap. It was well washed in the sun, often upkept, and adorned with shining guards. It was often hard to believe it actually existed and wasn’t just some strange reflection of the sun playing off of the muddy puddles that run between it and the border of the old city alleyways. But it did, and it was impressive.

A lot of the younger and newer Southern guards tried not to look Eriff’s way -- his reputation preceding him in some cases, while the older guards gave him a mix of gritted teeth and respected nods. Unfortunately for Eriff, the only guard he needed to talk to on his way out of the city was an older and angrier man.

“Where are you heading Eriff?” Lesser captain Tramian crossed two white haired arms across a wide if not aging chest of bronze mail. He wore a simple bronze cap, but his own dark skin and hardened scowl made it seem like the helmet extended down past his face and was simply decorated with the anger that he always wore on his flesh.

Eriff looked over at Pricilla, “Somewhere private.”

“Whole city not private enough for you?” Tramian pushed.

“I’m a noisy lover,” Eriff pushed back.

Pricilla stepped in between them, “Eriff is being silly as usual Captain Tramian, you know how he is -- he doesn’t partake.”

“Oh I know how he is -- which is why I’m a little skeptical that him leaving the city is for anything good.” Tramian prodded a finger into Eriff’s chest. Pricilla pinched the finger between her fore and thumb, pulling it away before Eriff’s scowl grew any deeper.

“My sister is staying outside the city,” Pricilla explained, her eyes flickering to Eriff -- who on command took a surprised face.

“Why so secretive about such a thing?” Tramian tilted his head, his skepticism replaced with the gossip loving curiosity he was so known for.

“Don’t tell him,” Eriff said beyond gritted teeth.

Tramian leered at Eriff, “Tell me.”

Pricilla frowned and leaned in close enough for Tramian to get a gagging mouthful of her perfume, “She was struck with leprosy.”

“By the gods!”

“I hired Eriff to see me safe from bandits so I can find her and take her final wills, see if she needs any supplies before her exile.”

Tramian eyed the two before nodding slowly, “You two cannot go unsupervised.”

“What?” Eriff grunted loudly, catching the attention of the other guards.

“If you contract her curse and bring it back into the city it will be on my head,” Tramian explained angrily, “I’ll go with you two -- ensure the city’s good will.”

“But Captain Tramian!” Pricilla protested, “The gates without you would be lost, no that will not do.”

“Are you telling me how to do my job?” Tramian crossed his arms and frowned.

“A suggestion, then?” Pricilla offered.

A receptive silence was her answer.

“How about you send someone in your stead? Like... um... him!” She pointed at a short man dressed in the guard uniform -- a look of surprised recognition overtaking the man’s face.

“Fine,” Tramian agreed, “Lefrin, escort this pair, would you?”

“But sir!”

“Gods braze my bottom, is everyone fixed on being difficult today!?” Tramian shouted, forcing the guard to attention. His stare turned sour and Lefrin motioned for Eriff to lead the way. Before long, the southern gates were behind the sudden trio, a proud fox’s grin hidden on Pricilla’s face.

With the forest ahead of the three -- this will mark the start of an interesting story.


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