Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Not Fishing
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Cadien

&
Neiya




Cadien decided he had had enough of space. There was still quite a bit left to explore, such as that extremely oversized god in the distance, but to be completely truthful, exploring the stars had lost its novelty.

“Well, then, my friend,” he said to his mount. “I suppose it’s time we head back down.”

But the dragon refused to move. Tilting its head back up toward the moon Cadien had created. The God sighed. He should have expected that, really. The creature had been built with the intention of exploring space, so naturally, space was its preferred habitat and where it would choose to remain.

So, the god flew back to the purple moon he had created, and hopped off, landing gracefully on the ground before turning to regard his creature. “This is where we’ll be parting ways, I’m afraid,” Cadien told the creature sadly.

To its credit, the colossal dragon actually managed to look sad as well.

“No, no, it’s for the best,” Cadien shook his head, and raised a hand as if to forestall an objection from this creature that could not speak. “You’re happiest up here, I’m happiest down there. Don’t worry though, I’ll still find the time to visit. Keep this place safe while I’m gone. And don’t bother Gibbou, alright?”

The dragon snorted, which Cadien understood to convey acceptance. “Very well,” he said, his expression brightening somewhat. “I still need to name you, though, so I’ve decided to call you Zulross.”

Zulross blinked, but said nothing.

“Good, good! I’m glad we’re in agreement, Zulross,” Cadien smiled. “In that case, I must go. The planet needs me.”

Then the God of Perfection leapt, exited his moon’s orbit, and began his fall to Galbar.




Neiya didn’t know how long it had been since she returned to follow the river, floating above it with her feet barely touching the water - just as she had known the world when she first came into it. Along waterfalls, curious but mindless animals, and a fearful group of humans watching her glide along above the waterway from the riverbank.

Time didn’t matter. However long she waited, the voices continued to follow her. Distance didn’t matter. Whatever distance she put between herself and that original encounter, the flood of emotions continued unabated. No sight along the highlands seemed to capture her interest beyond a brief glance. What mattered was her own thoughts, the voices, the emotions. All those who pined, and loved, and cried. She heard Aira wail in her head still, and felt a pang of regret in her stomach. Perhaps she should have done more for such a pure soul? Perhaps she could go back? No. It was too late now. She would have to do better in the future.

But almost in an instant, the goddess found herself drawn out of her thoughts. The river had vanished under her feet, and instead an endless expanse of rippling blue waves extended almost as far as she could see. It was enough to give her pause, attention stolen by the beautiful rhythm of waves rolling against the rocks, and rippling out in the expanse.

It was as good a place as any to stay with her thoughts, she reasoned, and hovered gingerly out over the rolling waves to watch the ocean in peace.

The peace did not last. Her thoughts were soon interrupted by the sound of an object falling from a vast height; quite literally burning its way through the atmosphere. Upon looking up, she would see that a large fireball was indeed about to land nearby, with the outline of a humanoid figure curled up at its center.

Neiya traced the object with morbid fascination. The sight was unlike any other; and she was certain no mortal creature she had met would survive immolation. Biting her lip in brief thought, she watched as the curious object fell from the sky. As it neared the water, she instinctively closed the distance to where it would land.

Then, it struck, smashing through the water’s surface with the force of a meteor. A colossal splash rose up, followed by a great ripple as the water turned pitch white from the foam. Then, slowly, it began to settle… until the object that had fallen decided to come back up.

He rose gracefully from the water. First to appear was his head; a handsome face with violet eyes, a wide grin, and a head of shiny wet hair. After that came a pair of strong broad shoulders, then a powerful muscular torso with glistening abs, and finally his lower half, which was equally strong and flawless. He leapt perhaps a foot or two above the water’s surface, before landing on the ocean as if it were solid ground. He turned to regard Neiya, who watched from afar.

“Oh hello!” he greeted her. “I was not expecting to meet another god so soon!”

Neiya took a long look at the handsome god, with equal measures of guilty curiosity and fascination. As he spoke, she caught herself in thought and shook out of it, regarding his face and expression. “...Hello,” she responded demurely, and glanced back up towards the sky. “Were you just brought into the world?”

The man stroked his chin in thought. “Hmm… well, that depends on what you mean. I did technically just bring myself into this world, when I fell from above, as you saw. But if you mean existence, then no, I existed long before that.” Then, he stretched out his limbs and leapt forward, landing only a few feet away from her. Once again his feet found solid purchase on the ocean, as if it was solid ground, and not a single splash was created.

“I’m Cadien. God of Perfection, and the Master of Mankind,” he introduced himself with a smile, before appraising her face. “I must say, you have such marvelous hair,” he remarked.

Neiya held her breath with a brief gasp, watching the man draw closer with baited fascination. “Oh,” She found herself intoning briefly, looking away and up towards the sky again as she subconsciously ran a hand to her hair. “..Thank you. I have heard your name before, Cadien. Members of your flock were present upon my arrival.”

She offered a brief pause, before clearing her throat, and glancing back at him. “I am Neiya, Goddess of Love,” she offered at last, tasting the word love with a frown. It was bittersweet.

“Goddess of Love, hmm?” Cadien asked, raising a suggestive eyebrow which vanished just as quickly as it appeared, when he recalled his earlier resolution. “Well, it’s good to meet you. I’m not sure about this ‘flock’ you speak of - I suppose you must mean the humans? I have been doing a lot of work to see them improve, so it’s good that they remember me. How are they, anyway?”

Her eyes followed his features as he spoke, slowly straightening out the hair she had subconsciously curled. “Well, humans. Yes. They’re-...” she drifted off in response, closing her ice-blue eyes as she batted away the stir of emotion. “They have such potential. Such yearning. And yet-...”

Neiya opened her eyes once more, watching the man with emotion welling up in her gaze. Drifting slowly across the water towards Cadien, she extended her hand towards his cheek. “Let me show you.”

Cadien’s smile faded, once more wondering if he had somehow managed to disturb yet another goddess, but then she extended her hand. “Very well,” he said seriously, as his expression became just as solemn as hers, and he took another step forward.

It was all she knew, and perhaps it was a burden that could be shared. With the god stepping forward in acceptance, she gently laid her hand against his cheek, ice blue eyes watching him with growing sadness as she opened herself to share just a margin of the grief. A flash of the wailing woman, the tribe in mourning, and the man with a drive that drove him to murder. The cycle of love that she endured. “I am sorry,” she whispered as she offered her gift.

Cadien stared at her in confusion as the first of the scenes flashed through his mind. Then confusion turned to concern, as he gradually began to process what he was seeing. Then came a brief flash of anger, which almost immediately faded away into a depressing sort of glumness. His hand slowly creeped up, and he gently placed it overtop the one that touched his cheek.

”I... “ he began, as if suddenly seeing the world in a new light. “I had no idea…”

Neiya ran her thumb gently along his cheek, tilting her head as she let the pain of grief abate and recede back into the depths of her own being, seeing no reason to continue the torment. Still her hand remained, held by his own. “This is what love brings. It is their curse, and mine. Your flock will all experience this pain, the dullness of grief.”

Cadien slowly removed her hand from his cheek, but did not let go. He continued to hold it, and then slowly stepped in to pull her into a comforting embrace, ensuring his movements were slow enough that she would have ample time to pull back if she wanted to.

But the goddess did not recoil. With grace she rested her head against him in serene silence, quickly learning to tilt her head inwards to avoid touching him more than necessary with her horns. She seemed content to remain there in his embrace, and though she did not return it, she moved her hand to gently squeeze his.

However long it was they remained in this embrace, eventually a simple thought and question bubbled to the surface; “...Did.. you make the water?”

The question stunned Cadien, as he too had almost been lost in the moment. “I… no, I did not,” he told her. “And I do not know who did.”

“I am surprised,” she intoned quietly. “Who would make such a beautiful thing, if not the God of Perfection?” With that, she gently broke away from the god, her hand moving once more to briefly stroke at his cheek in her retreat. For just a moment, she appeared to be at peace - not a smile, but calmer.

“I make people beautiful,” Cadien gave her a slight smile. “Though, you seem to need none of my help there.”

Neiya seemed torn at that. After an initial pause her mood seemed to dim once more, and she glanced first at the black horns rising in a tangle on her shoulder, before glancing out over the sea. “I doubt anyone can help me,” she answered wistfully. “Some things run deeper than what the eyes can see.”

She sighed softly, catching herself in her gloom, and looked back at him. “But perhaps you’ll show me one day. I think I would like that.”

“Then I will,” he nodded. “Some day. As for you… if you ever need someone to talk to, about the things you’ve experienced… to share your burdens with… I’ll be there. What you showed me - I needed to see that. And you shouldn’t have to deal with it alone.”

Neiya watched Cadien for a long time, eternally sorrowful eyes tracing over his face. “You wish me well, yet know not what you offer,” She raised her hand towards him slowly once more, but caught herself and curled it inwards towards her chest instead. “But I will remember you, Cadien, and your offer. I’ve stolen enough of your attention. For now.”

“Have you stolen it, or have I given it?” Cadien wondered. “But… as you wish. We will meet again.”




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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Dewfrost97
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Fe’ris





Far above Galbar, the great winged monster flew, enjoying the rush of the winds in his fur and the buoyant thermals that seemed to curl up from Toraan's entire surface. Had he been visible, the mortals below likely would've cowered in fear at the sight of a fluffy, razor-toothed dragon with enormous ears and spikes down its back and up its dark wings. But thankfully, he preferred to remain unnoticed... for now. The young god's thoughts remained unfocused. He knew they were not as clear as they could be, and so he flew, observing the sapients and non-sapients alike, thirsting after the crystal sharpness he had experienced during his interaction with Akule.

All of a sudden, there was a twinge deep in his core, a tethering to that same Blood Basin he had visited before. Perhaps, he mused, another god was calling. Perhaps even the brother power that had tailed him away from the confines of the Lifeblood. A twitch of his wings was all it took, and he spiraled towards the barren plains.

It was late in the day when he arrived. All the creatures of the morning were long gone, and those of dusk and night had not yet dared to brave the still-baking sands. Even the Alminaki remained hidden, deep within their caves. Another twinge, and he knew that something exciting had just occurred. A little less than flawlessly, he returned to his base form, and somersaulted into a two-legged stance at the base of a particularly damp cave entrance, its edges worn smooth by the relentless wind. Feeling not the trepidation of an Alminaki, but the anticipation of a god potentially meeting a sibling, he descended, first walking, then jogging, then sprinting toward that same yearning. His footsteps echoed around him, his cape manic in its flapping, the various sounds increasing and increasing in volume until all he could think of was what was at the end of that tunnel. And finally, he stopped, a great splash rising up from his feet as he plunged ankle-deep into an underground stream. But where was his sibling? The stream was abandoned. No, not abandoned-- undiscovered. None had delved this far into the winding caves before. It had only been his intuition that had gotten him this far, past all the twists and turns he had ignored in his fervor.

Lacking anything better to do, he followed the stream. It bubbled and gurgled around his boots, lapping at the divinity radiating off them. He probed it with a single bare finger, and though there wasn't so much as a tiny pinprick of light to see by, he sensed it darken and sour at his touch, ripening and reddening to turn deep and bloody. He sighed and removed his finger. It would hardly be fair to the people of the desert to taint a valuable water source with his curiosity. He kept onward.

The subterranean stream widened and widened while the walls pushed in further and further. Fe'ris felt right at home in caves, but this was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic. He shrank, then shrank again, following the water as the pressure increased and the walls closed in and it was so very, very dark, and his bare skin kept turning it into blood, and he had no room to expand, even if he wanted to, and the yearning was growing stronger and stronger as the water carried him along, and just as he was about to snap, POP!

It spat him out back onto the surface, the cool night having fallen during his spelunking. The stars seemed to laugh overhead as the artesian well launched him at a sandstone wall, embedding his tiny body into a brown divot in the beige sandstone wall. He pried himself out of the niche and returned to full size, utterly embarrassed, despite being alone and invisible. Lesson learned about too much shapeshifting. He went to leave, ready to be back in the air and away from the foul spring, when the same wanting washed over him, a thousand times more powerful than before, practically grabbing him by the ears and tossing him this way and that. Fe'ris returned to the wall.

It reeked of dried blood, marked top to bottom with sigils burned into the stone by powerful, godly will. Every symbol screamed out different messages: Punishment. Equality. Justice. Obligation. Contract.
Fairness.

Fe'ris ran his clawed talons up and down the last sign, drinking in its beauty. Yes, a fellow god had been here. One, too, of sacrifice. Of this for that, and of swift retribution should it be violated. It was intoxicating. Oh, how he wished he had been there to see it! To know what had occurred between Alminaki to incur such a perfect, severe response!

He had to find who had done this, and thank them. Learn their secrets and thought processes. Share in the passion for the passionate acts that drove the tiny beings of Galbar to wrong one another, and right those wrongs.

He spread his wings and soared off again, but not before leaving a gift of his own. Those who drank from the coveted water would see what they desired most, and feel the satisfaction that came with it. But if they were not careful, they would drink until they burst, and the water would be drained dry, another resource lost. It would be all too delightful to see where this site, this oasis of clarity in the mind-addling desert, would lead the unwary.

God of Justice, he was coming.




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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Kho
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Kho

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The Kavijama | The Hibrach



And for all the singing and joy that accompanied the coming of the Hibrach into the world, and for all his unending lyrics and passion-infused verses, the world was awful empty and awful quiet. The poet flowed across the waters in the company of a troll singing in a westerly direction, who in time set foot upon a great land. That first possessor of the pioneering spark would be followed by many a wandering drighina in the days that came - and in their beauteous tongue they would call it Kubrajzar. They were not a race drawn to company, these drighina, neither their own nor that of others, but as they came - one by one, day by passing day - they could find no other name for it; and one after another they named it - Kubrajzar! - and each bethought himself the first to name it so and each bethought himself the first to behold its greatness and beauty in wonderment.

Before the tree of ink I prayed
When I awoke to song
And gloried long beneath its shade
There the bless'd among
There with the god I drank a while
A drought of poetry
And learned from him great art and style
As none before did see-
But standing on this wave-torn cliff
An ant beneath the skies,
See jungles strewn, I wonder if
Among the poets wise
There ever was a tongue or hand
That rightly named one stone or strand
That was not Kubrajzar!

The traveller, he travelled far
He braved the wat'ry deep
His heart with verses was ajar
It climbed the cliff face steep
Right out the lake from whence flesh sprang
Arose the newborn art
And with the stream he danced and sang
The bidding of his heart:
Oh kick the earth and kiss the star
And show them what true passions are
For you have seen the Kubrajzar
Oh see the Kubrajzar!


The world, you ink-eyed, open-hearted ones, can only listen to so much song and view so much dance before it is ready to burst. Have pity on the stone, brother troll, for there too is a song waiting on a listener. The world trembles beneath the weight of its songs - hear the stone, hear the wind, brother troll, and hear the grasshopper. The world has songs aplenty for those versed in the listening arts - and the world, brother troll, is a teacher of the listening arts. Oh it has done nothing but listen, brother troll, it has listened till the cup filled to the brim; you hear only what spills over the rim. There is a lesson there, brother troll; sing only when your cup is full to overflowing - the World has song enough to fill the cups of present, past, and future bards.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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AdorableSaucer Based and RPilled

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The Troll Wars

Part 1 - The First Raid




The World Anchor, the unrivalled mountains carrying the very sky of the planet - its hundred peaks and thousand crags - all would indicate that it was far from a hospitable place to live. However, its distance from everything was also perhaps something that make it attractive as a home - nothing would really come for you, now would it?

This is perhaps what made it so appealing to the largest of trollkin, the dovregubbes. Theirs was an unmatched resilience and resistance to all manner of damage and unrivaled strength among all mortal kind; theirs was a lifespan that could compete even with immortal gods; and theirs were forms menacing enough to ward off any and all thinking themselves mighty enough to test the former two truths.

Of course, all these were only truths given that the dovregubbe didn’t kick the bucket first thing in the morning.

Thusly lived their kin - or, as it would be more appropriate to say - that specimen. Indeed, for there was only one - a single dovregubbe in the whole world. The ranglefants, draugs, drighinas and askeladds - oh, they’d already found themselves mates and spawned plenty more of their sort. Not the dovregubbe, though - no, he still had a good few centuries left until all the muck, rock, moss and stone covering his enormous form could shed off and pretty much just make another dovregubbe then and there.

Oh, yes - a good few centuries.

Such a legendary creature as him - oh, well - they deserved a name, they did. At least, the dovregubbe thought so himself. He was still fairly young, though, and his mind was much untested in the ways of conundrumming and thinka-dinklin’. So far, he had only really found himself a suitably large cave to call home and, well, called it home. He didn’t really know much about whether it was day or night out - checking to see was a bit of a risk. However, a mighty need bubbled within his belly, and the dovregubbe knew well that he would have to brave the wilderness soon enough.

He was hungry.

It wasn’t peckishness, either - he had been feeling this deep, thunderous rumble for a few days. In the beginning, it’d been easy to just bury it under greater thoughts, like whether he should sit and wait or lay down to sleep. However, as time had passed, he could ignore it no longer. He would need feed soon, or he would be both the first and the last of his kind. He had given stone a try yesterday (or possibly yesteryesterday), but found that it sat poorly with his empty gut. Alas, even stone-like trolls couldn’t live off of stone. Worst part was, all the plants and wildlife around here? Poor on nutrients and immensely hard to digest. The trees were tough as nails - and that wasn’t even mentioning those stone birds. The dovregubbe had tried to snatch one the other night, but they’d just flock up and peck at him senselessly until he ran away. They weren’t even worth close to the trouble.

No, he knew what was waiting for him would have to be in the lowlands below - but could he even get there without being noticed by Gibbou?

Oh yes, the dovregubbe remembered something vague about a divine purpose and protecting life and all that - but! Had the blueberry ever been hungry, huh? The dovregubbe thought not. Wasn’t easy for a goddess to put herself in his… Okay, he didn’t have shoes, but walking a mile with his feet… Well, that actually wasn’t much of a feat either, him being nearly twelve metres tall already. At least, though, she wasn’t mortal - and that was the big difference! Oh, sure, the dovregubbe could live forever, too, but he’d have to watch his skin at every turn! Can’t even walk out during the bloody day - he’d turn to stone in the blink of an eye. Of course, all that had to be stacked on top of the fact that the earth was trembling so badly these days that he feared he’d be sealed in by a falling rock someday. No, being him sure wasn’t easy.

Therefore, he could permit himself, no, he deserve to snap a few mortal necks every now and then! Oh yes, oh yes, he had smelled ‘em even from the mountains - the unmistakable stink of human sweat, blood and droppings, all around the southern tip of that odd little grassland with the cute little hills. Oh, for certain, had he smelled them - even now, he did. His teeth were drowning in saliva. For the first time in days, or possibly weeks, the dovregubbe moved to peek at the cave entrance. Blast, the sun was still out. He would have to wait a few more hours.

Then, at sundown, oh, at sundown…

The dovregubbe closed its stoney lids and began snoring.




The dovregubbe was making solid time - wasn’t even midnight yet and he could already see the end of the woods. The trees parted before him like tall grass, and at his feet, stock and stone crumbled to dust under soles the size of huts. He could smell it so clearly now - the meat and roots cooking over the fire, the age of the sticks used in their lay-tos, the days that had passed since the villagers’ bathing day. At this point, he was salivating so immensely it caused a minor rainfall on the vegetation below. Though, a slight movement on the wind did convey a certain important detail:

It smelled as though the humans all had gathered in unison.

He had probably been spotted - he needed to be quick.




“Are you absolutely sure?” asked chief Teskal to the ragged-breathed hunter Kefir. Kefir nodded, something that sent panic through the gathered villagers like ripples in a still lake.

“I saw not the torso, even! Kefir confirmed. “It was the tallest man any of us have ever seen - so tall that we’re not even sure it’s a man!”

“Shush!” thundered the voice of an elderly lady and both Kefir and chief Teskal bowed down. It was great-mother Grot, and her expression was every bit as stern in the night as it was in the day. “Shush, both of you! What if this is another visitation from the gods? Can we forget what the great Cadien has done for our people? What news from the north have brought us about the kind, noble deeds of Oraelia? Or Neiya? What if this is a test from the gods? No, shame on you both! Shame!”

The villagers all hung their heads somewhat. After a moment of thinking, Teskal raised his skull-tipped stick and declared, “Very well! We shall welcome this creature into our village and show the gods that we do not shun our divine duties!”

The villagers all nodded and voiced their agreement, though few of them were very enthusiastic about it. They began gathering what offerings they had and placed them in baskets in the centre of the village, standing faithfully in wait behind them to behold the approaching creature.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, the colossal mass that resembled a man in every aspect, but could never be defined as such, stomped out of the forest with footsteps that sent tremors through the ground, testing the craftsmanship of the humans’ lay-tos. It gave the air a long, long sniff, bordering on a snort, and knelt down to inspect the increasingly terrified villagers. It then eyed the food, visible confusion on its face.

“What’s all this, then?”

The great-mother approached, her arms lifted up into the air and head bowed down. “Oh, magnificent son of the gods! We accept your visit in the humblest manner.” The villagers behind her also lifted their arms in the same manner. “Please,” Grot continued, “have your fill of our bounty - we know it’s not much, but it’s all we have.”

The dovregubbe blinked. “My, grub’s all laid out for me, innit?” He clapped his hands together with a force that sent a resounding shockwave through the air. “Think I’ll start off with… You.”

The sudden realisation that one is so dreadfully wrong about a situation is difficult to swallow, especially for someone as stubborn and stern as great-mother Grot, who was in the process of being swallowed. It took fairly little time for the terror that already brewed in the villagers to explode into full-fledged panic, and soon they scattered to the winds.

However, the dovregubbe was reinvigorated now. Albeit the old crone had been a gummy mess, she had a flavour unlike anything he had ever chewed on before. Oh yes, now this was a flavour to die for. He rose up and began chasing down the fleeing humans, a small feat for a creature whose legs were as long as five humans stacked onto each others’ shoulders. His every stomp like the claps of a storm, it sent instinctive confusion through every escapee about whether they should run for cover or run for the hills. He managed to snatch most of them like they were ants on a line - when panicking, it seemed that humans only really knew how to run, and not necessarily run smartly. By an hour past midnight, he had eaten his proper fill, and what a fill it had been. Joyously, the dovregubbe rumbled on back towards the mountains, thundering a merry guffaw that sent the resting birds flying.




“Did, did we lose it?” asked Vintr quietly. Kefir held his daughter tightly to his chest and looked around the corner of the rock they were hiding behind. The great shadow in the distance faded, and as did the thunder of its steps. He looked down at the exhausted face of his child. She was asleep, finally - oh, what a terrible reality she would wake up to. He prayed for now that she could dream of it as just that - a dream.

“Yeah,” Kefir whispered and laid his head against the stone. Sobs choked him up and he clasped his hand over his eyes. Vintr tried at first to console him, but shortly thereafter joined him. They just sat there for a time, sharing in each others’ misery. There was comfort in sharing the burden, but that was the only comfort there was now.

“Wha’.. What do we do now?” Vintr sobbed quietly.

Kefir sniffed and swallowed. He had some ideas, but none of them would be easy - especially not if they encountered that creature again. “We will travel north. There’s a village there - a safe place, I’ve heard. We will seek refuge with them and share our story so that they may be prepared.”

“What will we tell them?”

“We will say it like it is - the village of chief Teskal was obliterated in the night… By Thunder.”


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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Tuujaimaa
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Tuujaimaa The Saint of Splendour

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The web of consciousness had been gathered and bound, but its effects on mortalkind across Galbar were yet to be observed and understood--and it was Fìrinn’s nature to both observe and understand. Its divine twin had work to do within the web of dreams that had been spun, and so it fell to the God of Truth to ensure that the mortal races could sleep, and dream, and live out their truths. Tracking down the creations of its yet-unmet deific siblings might have ordinarily been a fairly perilous task, but Fìrinn was capable of perceiving the vast web that linked all thinking minds together, and so following its many strands was certain to lead to results.

Fìrinn’s journey across the continents and oceans of Galbar was fairly peaceful--the animals that noticed its presence saw themselves reflected in its shimmering form, and there were no deities that had chosen to make their presence known along the path. In what felt like mere seconds, Fìrinn had already made its way to a vast hub of busy minds who seemed to be on the opposite end of the circadian rhythm that most life seemed to follow. A creation, perhaps, that signified rebellion against the Sun? Perhaps friendly rivalry? Fìrinn could not draw a true context without further knowledge, and this lack of knowledge spurred it on with even greater speed towards the group of beings it had detected.

Divine eyes were sorely needed to observe the ongoings of the inhabitants of these canyons. Neither torches nor other forms of lighting were used, and the still soundscape was only occasionally cluttered with the pitter-patter of wet feet against stone, the odd snap of a twig or vine, or soft, quiet whispers. It was as though whoever lived there made every attempt not to be noticed. Even children's cries and laughter were quiet as sobs and snickers. Shadows in the moonlight revealed the return of a small band, possibly a hunting party, which was affirmed by the droning drag of something large behind the group. Divine eyes could see evident signs of a landshark carcass scraping up the stone floor of the canyon. The party was met with praises and laughter, though none of it would’ve been audible over an adjacent distance.

However, it didn’t take long for the celebrations to pass. A very powerful presence was near, and while none of the elves could actually -see- this presence, its unmistakable smell made it quite clear that it wasn’t one of them. Hasty pitter-patters of feet trickled upwards from the canyon below as the villages’ young, frail and old were helped inside the deep cave networks the elves had made their homes. Then, led by a tall, powerful female, a small hunting band approached the source of this scent.

Fìrinn made no effort to explicitly reveal itself, per se, but mortals intrinsically had a sense of the divine--at least, if they were only a few feet away from one another. It took a moment to observe, first, clearly sighting the glittering threads of the Gréasán Treòir that linked each of them to one another and to the Tairseach. Each filament was a mote of smoke, spun into an almost ephemeral haze, twisting and turning upon itself as thoughts and feelings and aspirations made their way across its spidery surface. Fìrinn admired, for just a second, the quality of its handiwork and the successful completion of a task before it made its presence known.

”I am Fìrinn. I am here to determine the success of the Gréasán Treòir and its anchoring to mortalkind. Will you permit me to examine your thoughts?”

The words echoed out through the air and the ground, carried by waves of a soft, crackling energy that was something akin to sound but not quite there. It was more akin to knowing that something had been said and being able to recall the memory than actually hearing and processing words, and it might have been jarring at first. If any discomfort registered on their faces Fìrinn would reach out with its mantle apologetically (and perhaps a little sheepishly) to signify its regret for such a careless action.

Discomfort was a mild adjective to describe what the elves felt. The echo hammered in their powerful ears like war drums, and half of the hunters dropped the crude weapons they were holding to clutch their ears. Their leader hunkered down momentarily, but was quick to re-assume her stance, could considerably more defensive, with a low point of gravity and a spear stuck out forward. She and some of the others who were beginning to recover, gave sharp hisses and the leader spoke in a sharp whisper, “You stand upon chieftain Pinae’s land - the site of the Moonwell and its keepers. What manner of plague are you, to disturb us so violently in the middle of the night to, as you so claim, ‘examine our thoughts’?”

Fìrinn’s expressionless face was not one capable of showing emotion, but if it were, the current emotion upon it would quite plainly be confusion.

”I am Fìrinn. Is this not enough?” Fìrinn asked, its voice emanating from it in a wave of sound rather than a direct transmission of thought. It was shaky, at first, but by the end of the second sentence it was the sound of silence broken by a droplet of water, or a gentle exhalation, or perhaps the gentle rustling of reeds in a light breeze.

”You lack context. The Anchor has not permitted the sharing of thought and experience--perhaps these things must be dreamed? You might call me… Truth, or perhaps Understanding. I am akin to the one that spun you from the infinite ether, a being of divinity. I believe the word you use is… God?”

Fìrinn paused for a moment, its mantle-claw retracting and resting gently in front of the god’s torso, as if cradling something just out of perception. This had been an unexpected result of the weaving--perhaps it would take time for them to understand? No, that was against the nature of Fìrinn’s truth. Perhaps the weaving had not been powerful enough? Fìrinn did not know how many siblings it had, but if the number was considerable enough it simply may have been a matter of the dilution of its Lifeblood. Perhaps they had been created after the threads were woven, and integration into the grand design took time, or a catalyst, or both?

Questions illuminated the God of Truth’s face like tiny flickers of dancing lights, playing off one another for suddenly-long seconds before another response came.

”Do you view the unknown as a plague? Do you dream of mysteries beyond comprehension as you slumber?” the Watcher Behind wondered aloud, its thoughts coalescing into sound as if by instinct rather than by intent. Though it had not meant to ask the questions aloud, they were questions that demanded answers--it waited patiently for the reply, unmoving.

The elves flinched at the noise again, though they were less taken aback this time. The others behind the leader closed in with wooden spears at the ready. The leader remained as tense as before. “We have been visited upon by godkin before - neither time was particularly pleasant. A plague to us is whatever disturbs the Great Peace - a crime which your presence, Fìrinn, perpetrates.” She straightened up and dunked the butt of her spear into the ground twice before resuming her combat stance. “... And I, Cilantra, won’t let you approach any closer.”

”You are motivated by a desire to protect from the unknown, as the unknown has proven dangerous to you and that for which you care before--but to close yourself off from the unknown is to live half a life, and it is not your truth. You must shed this delusion if you are to achieve enlightenment and complete your purpose.”

As Fìrinn spoke, its mantle began to gesticulate and weave back and forth, the threads of its tri-tipped claws snaking apart from one another and weaving themselves into the form of a triquetra--the symbol of the Twin Gods. The mantle’s divine essence sparkled and shone with a glint of the moon and its cool light, before Fìrinn reached down to touch the ground with its true hand. As it did, the waters of the canyon swirled and churned beneath the surface of the ground before bubbling up in a neat circle beneath the God of Truth, the soil crumbling away beneath the surface and rising moments later as a neat ring of silvery crystal. The waters of the valley rushed in to form a shallow pond, maybe a centimeter or two deep at the most, and as Fìrinn withdrew its digit the waters stilled themselves completely.

”Through Reflection you may see Truth. Look into the pool, and see the truth of what path your suspicion shall forge.” Fìrinn’s words, though phrased like a command, carried none of the authority one would expect of such a statement. It was a soothing balm against the infernal heat of doubt and suspicion, a gentle application of water against a burn--a promise of safety and sanctuary, unintentionally much like that of their beloved Moonwell.

Contained within the pool was a vision of Truth, and of what a world closed to the new would bring. As the tribe became increasingly insular they would find themselves beset within and without by perils of every make and design, and the peace they laboured to forge would elude them at every turn. It was not the future, and yet it was also not false--a single glimpse at a single facet of the infinite jewel of possibility, a warning of what might happen and simultaneously a warning of what would.

“Close your eyes!” Cilantra commanded, but curiosity ensnared one or three of them. The hunters approached the pool, but Cilantra and the others stepped in front of them as if they could see them clearly. “No,” another hunter pleaded.

“Look, it’s just trying to show us--”

“Don’t be a fool, Parslie! You never know what these things can conjure forth. What if it’s like the Light, hmm?”

The whisper brought two of the approaching elves to a halt, but the third one glanced over Cilantra’s shoulder into the pool. “H-hey! It’s our cave!”

“Damn it, Dyll, I said don’t look!” commanded Cilantra and reached out towards the elf in question. She grabbed him in a hold and tried to pull him away, but the young man then said, “No, wait! It showed death! Death and decay!”

This made Cilantra freeze. Another hunter slowly turned her blind expression to face in the party leader’s direction. “Cilantra, you aren’t actually--”

“Fírinn,” Cilantra whispered as though a shout. “You said this pool conveys the truth?”

”It conveys your truth. Truth is understanding; Truth is context. It is the limits of your perception, and how that perception influences your reality. It is a glimpse of what could be, what will be, and what might not be. I cannot show you the future--I show you Truth, the Truth of your existence. It is both real and nothing more than a vision in a pool.”

Fírinn’s answer was not designed to be cryptic. To Fírinn, it was as simple as what it had said--but it had the perspective of eternity, and it was the very embodiment of that which it spoke. Cilantra might never have been capable of understanding the words that Fírinn spoke, but she would understand in no uncertain terms that the words this god spoke were Truth in its purest, most personal form. Perhaps they could never be understood by Cilantra, or perhaps she was the only person that could ever truly understand it. Neither of them would know for certain until she gazed into the pool and saw.

Fírinn gestured with its mantle to the pool, offering the elf nothing but choice and possibility.

The night elf scowled at the god, an expression every bit as furious with closed eyes as with open. But even though her party members all whispered for her not to look, the chance to see what lay beyond was too great and too important to ignore. She opened her eyes and gazed into the pool.

The instant that Cilantra looked into the pool, she would see nothing but the reflection of the God of Truth before her and her brethren, pushing against her in an effort to look into the depths of the pool. After a second she would see her friends fade into the background, their silhouettes the shape of moonlight, until they were simply a feature of the night sky and nothing more. From the blank depths of the night sky a gibbous moon came into being, swallowing the silhouettes in the background with its passage, each adding a new layer to its ever-growing form until the whole pool was naught but the glimmer of a full moon in the sky. A rush of sensation would overcome her, like the sharp shock of an unexpected fall, as the moon rippled itself across the pool and faded back into the empty canvas of the night sky. She would see a vague form approaching the cave, bloodied and haggard, each sharp inhalation of breath the acknowledgement of a wound and each exhalation heralded by a wheezing cough and splutter of silvery blood coating its tongue and spraying through the air like pollen.

Cilantra would know, immediately, that this was her.

The caves that had once been teeming with life (however furtive) were a barren and desolate mockery of their former glory. The stream had run dry, replaced by a coppery film of barely-dissolved sediment. The huts crumbled to little more than piles of rotting sticks, crumpled hands and legs peeking out like leaves from a macabre tree. The moonwell, in the centre, blackened and scorched by some terrible light from deep within--what little fluid left within its cadaverous remains leaching out like her own vital essence. She would be drawn into it, staring deeply at the loss of the peace she craved, and as her lungs burned and her heard hammered in her chest and her legs quivered with the overwhelming weight of her body there was an almighty crack deep within the base of her skull. Blackness trickled in from every angle until there was nothing left but that same night sky, now devoid of moonlight and starlight, and the blinding glare of that infernal Light seared the empty hollows of her eye sockets and she was jilted back to consciousness.

"A glimpse of Truth. A moment that will come to be, in your dreams or in the waking world. Dreams do not remain Dreams forever, Cilantra. Which Dream crosses the Tairseach and becomes real is a choice that you can make. Which Dream becomes Truth is for you to decide."

Cilantra collapsed to one knee and her comrades swarmed her to see if she was alright. Chalky tears dripped out of her eyes sockets and she made considerable efforts to wipe them away on her wrist before looking back at the god, colouring it a twinkly alabaster. “Is this… What’ll come to pass if we shun interaction with others?” The others followed her gaze towards Fírinn.

"I show you one path of many. There are infinite possibilities as each second moves on to the next. The path changes with the moon and the sun. Which path comes to pass is a function of your Truth, Cilantra. What I have shown you is one possibility of many. It is not the future; it is merely your Truth.”

Getting a straightforward answer from the God of Truth was, it seemed, not nearly as simple as its moniker might suggest. Fírinn placed the tip of its mantle-claw upon Cilantra’s shoulder, its presence as gentle and soft as the kiss of moonlight upon one’s skin. It offered her a support to stand, if she wished, as Fírinn spoke again.

”Truth is not a matter of what will or will not come to pass. It is a matter of possibility, and far-off certainty. While I cannot say which of the infinite paths of your Truth will manifest, I can tell you that if you progress as you are now the paths where this eventuality does not take place will fall away into nothingness. Perhaps only the path you have seen will remain. Perhaps it, too, shall remain a Dream. Only you have the capacity to know. Only you have the capacity to decide.”

“B-but… What will we do, then? The world has only shown us that strange powers bring unrest and threats, and yet we should open ourselves to them? Why should we? How can we know if this would even come to pass if we keep on as we do?”

”Enlightenment is your goal. You must align reality with your Truth. But Truth requires experience. Truth requires context, and understanding. While you close yourself off to these elements you will never allow Truth to cross the Tairseach. Dreams will remain Dreams, and your Truth will consume you from within. You cannot know what is to come--such is not the fate of mortalkind. Such is not the fate of godkind, in most cases. I only offer you the certainty of what may come to pass. I only offer you a chance to become the you that your Truth demands you be--and I offer this to you freely, without reciprocation, and without hesitation. You may call upon me in any moment, at any hour, and I will align Truth with reality, and Dreams with Truth.”

Fírinn extended its mantle out towards the others, beckoning them closer as if to embrace them. Its offer was not limited to Cilantra, and its pool was not only for her. Even after it left this place, some element of its reflection would remain--and where there was a reflection of Truth, Fírinn would answer the beck and call of any that spoke its name. Gods did not have to be cruel. Perhaps this could become Cilantra’s Truth, and in time, the Truth of all of the Night Elves.

The other elves, choosing to offer their trust to this being, closed in around the pool to see. Squinting eyes scanned the visions for details, and these were shared between the hunters - making enemies of the gods out of fright would leave them poor and undernourished while the rest of the world would surpass them thousandfold. The populations of odd-shaped shadows that looked nothing like the children of night would grow to be millions, while the night elves themselves would hardly exceed a few hundred. In the end, as per Cilantra’s vision earlier, nothing would remain except for midnight blood and shadowed corpses.

It was unlikely that none of this would come to pass, some of them agreed, and yet, enough of them confessed that the possibility was just great enough. Their discussion grew from soft hisses to full-blown voices, and Cilantra knew a decision had to be made. She quieted her companions and faced the god, though her spear had long since been left on the ground. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “What is this… Tairseach? Will our contributions to it keep these shards of doom from cutting into our Great Peace?”

”You need not concern yourself with the Tairseach. It is the Anchor that binds the Gréasán Treòir, and forms the bridge between Dreams and Truth. I will show you.”

Fírinn reached down once more with its true hand, the very tip of its finger barely impacting the unnaturally still water of the reflecting pool. As it did the visions contained within passed without like steam and it shone with a glassy silver luminance. Those who looked within would see the threads connecting them to one another, the vast web of collective unconsciousness that allowed mortals to Dream, and though they could never begin to understand its intricacies without their minds breaking beneath the strain they could at least contextualise the information that Fírinn had provided--enough to know that what it spoke was true.

”I do not desire your worship or your obeisance. I do not require tribute. Your Truth and your reality do not currently align--all I can give you is the understanding to bring these disparate elements together, and to safeguard your Dreams from my Twin’s unchecked influence. Have you begun to Dream, yet?” Fírinn’s question stood in the air, almost returning the conversation to an earlier point in time. The Elves had never answered it, after all, and it could not leave until its purpose for coming to this place and these people had been fulfilled.

“I-I’ve had a dream,” mumbled one of the hunters in the back. The party turned to her. She shrunk together timidly out of reflex before restoring her stance. “Y-yeah, I woke up with the weirdest feeling that, that something happened in the night, but…”

“You probably just woke up and saw someone going to take a leak,” one of the other hunters rationalised. The first was taken aback.

“Nuh-no! I definitely saw something really, really weird! It’s just…” She groaned. “Ugh! Now I can’t remember it!”

Cilantra sighed. “Forgive her, Fírinn - she’s like this sometimes.”

”It is to be expected. I could not be sure how mortalkind would interact with the web, so I followed it to you to check. Alas, my purview is not over Dreams--I am only the force which provides context to the realities you might experience amidst slumber. My Twin, Àicheil, is the God of Dreams.” Fírinn explained, pausing for a second between sentences to consider its words carefully. Mortals without the understanding inherent to the Divine were more difficult to adroitly communicate with than it had imagined, and each word carried so much less weight than it was used to with Àicheil.

”A dream is… a reflection of reality. A warped image, flooded with thoughts and feelings far beyond your own--they are the sum of all mortalkind’s experience rendered abstract and filtered through sleep. What you experienced was very real, but it is not yet a part of reality--that is the purpose of Truth. Perhaps this will help you understand?”

Fírinn’s mantle drew a lazy figure-eight in the air with a clawed tip, gently pulling at the weave that linked that particular hunter to her fellows. As it continued to strum the chord of dreams hovering in the air, visible to the elves only through the pool, Fírinn’s other mantle-claw dipped itself into the pool and gently stirred its contents, bringing forth another vision. This time, it was simply a repeat of the Dream that the hunter had experienced.

”I can only repeat what you saw. My mastery of the weave is limited--it is not my place, and I am yet to do more than simply create it. I apologise for my inadequacy in this regard. Perhaps, in slumber, if you call for my Twin they may be able to explain? A word of caution, however--do not interact with them without my presence. I cannot guarantee the safety of your mind without being there. Call our names at this pool before you sleep, and we shall endeavour to guide you from beyond the Tairseach.” Fírinn paused, expressionless, though a glint of moonlight across its face suggested a degree of pensiveness.

”It seems that I have fulfilled my purpose here. You are more closely aligned with Truth, and the Gréasán Treòir appears to have been a success. Is there aught more you would ask of me before I depart?”

Cilantra looked to the others, who nodded back. It was likely that they were thinking of the same question. “How do we call your Twin?” she asked in an almost humble manner.

”As you slumber before a mirror, you need simply call my name. I shall summon my Twin for you, lest his presence overwhelm you. May your Great Peace be woven into reality and your Truths realised.”

And just as quickly as it had arrived, Fírinn simply departed. From the elves’ point of view, it would not even be that it moved--it would simply look as if the world had rearranged itself in some small way, and that a function of that change was that the God of Truth was no longer with them.



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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Legion02
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Legion02

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Qael'Naath


The God of Magic was quite exhausted when he finally touched down upon his own island. The wound still ached, and while it had healed while on his travels, it was still draining him. The isle itself was still an ashen scar in the skies. Copses of burned trees were standing out like black, skeletal fingers. The once beautiful lotus pond where Qael’Naath had released himself from his chaotic impulses had been so thoroughly destroyed that if he didn’t know its exact location, he would’ve never found it. But the Crown had finally quieted down. He had to rebuild, but first he had to know just how deeply broken his land was. The surface was doomed for sure. There was just nothing left to salvage. Slowly he went through the underground tunnels and caves. Hoping to find something. Anything! All he got were half-molten caves, tunnels that were blocked by recently cooled lava, and evaporated underground lagoons. That didn’t change no matter how deep he went. All around him was just black destruction. He pushed through though, until he heard a faint sound. At first he thought it was the wind, but no. It was something different. Something alive!

He rushed through the tunnels now. Not caring that they were scarred or collapsed. He tore through them with reckless abandon. Heading straight for the sound. When he found it, he dropped to his knees. A collapsed tunnel had spared a small, underground pool of water. Within the water he found small little tadpoles swimming around with various green algae to feed upon. While above the water flies buzzed, which got eaten in turn by small, scaly lizards. It felt like a miracle but not one he performed. Did another god visit his island? He didn’t know, and quite frankly he didn’t care. He dipped his hands into the water and the curious creatures immediately swarmed his hand. Probably more to see if he was food. A powerful love overtook him. A love he hadn’t felt for any of his creations before. Sure, he cherished Xal-Zastarha but this love for those living creatures. Who had survived such an onslaught. That was something deeper. Was this how gods felt when they created their own children? Did they love them as much as he loved the little lizards and tadpoles? Perhaps. He would have to ask.

But his mind pulled him back towards the shattered world above. This place was not suited for life. Inevitability the tadpoles and lizards would die as well. Leaving nothing. No, he had to save them. He had to prepare the world for them! So he rushed upwards again. When standing on the cliff of his floating island, he could see the mountains of Black Rock and the forests underneath. It would do. He lifted both his arms and in the distance, a few mountains began to crack. Qael’Naath continued to pour his strength into the act. More cracks formed across the great mountains, which flowed down into the woods around them. Blocks of dirt and trees began to float upwards, towards the island. Then pieces of the mountain shattered and joined in. Slowly the ground pushed itself against the island. While stone encased it. Xal-Zastarha grew gradually. All the while a mountain shattered and gave up all its stone. But it wasn’t just Xal-Zastarha that was healed and seeded with new earth. Around it, above it and under it islands formed. None as big as the main island. In total, Xal-Zastarha more than tripled in size. With the next largest island around its formation as big as Xal-Zastarha once was. When Qael finally lowered his arms again, he was pleased with the result. Yes, this would do nicely for the start of the new life. His life.

He wasn’t done though. Once more he poured his divine power into the earth and ash and rock. It chained towards the other islands as well. Upon Xal-Zastarha itself he recreated the jungles and hot lakes. Unlike his previous creation though, the island was now wild and generally unchecked. He could not afford to design every bit and piece of it again. Though he made sure that for his soon to be created children it would be a lush paradise. The other islands got their dedicated functions as well. The isle of Xal-Nuathl became home to a massive lake stretching almost from edge to edge. With a few atoll like islands scattered around in it. He took some creations from the Surface-Reef below and delicately planted them on his own shores. While underwater all sorts of green and life was seeded as well. The Isle of Xal-Yaoxaual became a place of more temperate plains. With a few trees scattered about. None the less it was a fertile and expansive place. With gentle, soothing, rolling hills. The purpose of Xal-Necahual was simple. It was pure stone and rock. An island without a flat surface. Instead, it was filled with mountains and deep crevices. Filled to the brim with natural minerals. Much smaller, lesser islands, were created as well. Some with a function. Some simply to offer space or a new perspective upon the now orbiting island formation. When he was done though, Xal-Zastarha was greater than ever.

When, he found himself done he rushed back down into the dark, damp cave where he had found the tadpoles. He took a deep breath as he pushed both his hands into the water. It instantly shone bright yellow. Like the sun had been poured into it. It illuminated the entire cave. Underwater, divine energy began to alter the tadpoles. Accelerating their metamorphosis. Soon the first began to pop up above water but Qael wasn’t done. He pushed things further, altering the newly formed creatures their biology and size. They grew until they were bigger than a man. Slowly large, bulbous toad-like creatures crawled out of the golden pool and surrounded their god as he made more them. When he was done, he turned around to look at his creations. They weren’t pretty in the slightest, but their minds were magnificent. Their thoughts were orderly, unemotional and logical. If they didn’t know something, they would experiment. Yes, they were almost perfect. Almost, because Qael decided that they had to be more. First, he bound their existence to the mana that was everywhere on the island. Then he imbued their orderly minds with a talent for spell crafting and sorcery.

He was not done, however. He lifted his hands from the pool and let the divine light shine into the cave. Every lizard touched began to grow at a rapid pace. Some could not hold on to the ceiling of the cave. Man-sized lizards fell into the water. Only to emerge out of it, fully formed. With sharp predatory senses, strong, corded muscles and an indomitable will. Like all previous creations, he bound their existence to the mana and made them talented sorcerers.

Then he slowly guided them up towards the surface of Xal-Zastarha. Into the newly formed thick jungle, he had made. The place was full of small insects. Snacks for the newly created Eloxochitli. It was also a requirement for their existence. Because in a bid to lower the time they had to spent to eat, Qael’Naath had made them cold-blooded. This too then, allowed them to enter deep states of hibernation. Before he let them loose upon the land, he would talk to them first. He had to. So he sat down amid them and urged them to do the same. The smart, toad-like creatures named Eloxochitli were woefully outnumbered by the stronger Itztli who surrounded them. Qael’Naath told them everything he knew without reservations. He told them about the siblings he knew. He told them about the world, the places he knew of, the creatures he had seen. Glassy eyes watched him. No doubt numerous things would be forgotten, but he felt it. His creations contained his greatest virtue: they were curious beyond measure. Many tried to soak up every word he said. The Eloxochitli were vastly more successful than the Itztli. When his story ended, it was finally time for their purpose.

To the Eloxochitli he explained that their minds are akin to his own. Structured, reasoned, orderly. This was no accident, for they would devise the ‘Divine spells’. Spells that could only be created by biologically greatly enhanced minds who also received the blessing of the god of magic. These spells would be the spells he would create if he had the time. Aside from that, they would also be the leaders of the Itztli.

To the Itztli he explained that they were strong and while still mentally gifted compared to their ancestors, their purpose laid elsewhere. For most of them, their purpose would be on Xal-Zastarha and the islands around it. To protect it against possible invaders, and build it up into what mortals thought a palace of a god should look like. The design itself, he said, would be for the Eloxochitli. He instilled a deep respect for each other into a biological level into the creations.

When his stories and tasks ended, the creatures went on their own ways. To discover the island and the magic they were gifted with. Qael’Naath, meanwhile, heard the call of newly created sapience still. There were others still ungifted. His wound had healed a little bit more now though. What use would he be if he could barely travel the world? So instead of answering the call, he decided to stay upon his island formation. Tending it and adding the required details. Xal-Zastarha veered off north-east then. Heading for the prairie.


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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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Goldeagle1221 I am Spartacus!

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A & B


"Adrian."

The thumbling struggled to open his eyes past a waking yawn. He stretched his arms to the blinking night sky and sighed. Slowly he descended back to sleep - his body not yet rea-

"Adrian."

His eyes popped open. They immediately caught the moonlit eyes of a night-elf. Her skin was so similar to Gibbou's that for a few seconds the sleepy Adrian was convinced he was looking at the goddess. The elves lips were pursed and serious, matching the dire look on her face -- a large contrast to Gibbou.

"Adria-"

"I'm awake!" Adrian sat up and shook the grump out of his head, "What's up?"

"Do you remember me?" Despite her stern look, Adrian couldn't help but hear a silver line of comfort in her voice. The tone almost seemed familiar, but whatever it was, he liked it.

"Yeah," Adrian said as he studied her face, "You were the one declaring Joab-Ba-"

The lady put a finger to her lips as if telling Adrian to quiet. Adrian obliged and raised a brow.

"Don't say their name," She advised, "But yes, that was me. Call me Basil."

"Okay, Basil," Adrian rolled to his feet. He was standing on a small rock (with a bed of moss on the pinnacle) but even then, Basil was laying on her stomach to be face to face with the tiny being. Adrian cleared his throat, "What's wrong?"

"Well," Basil started, "We have to keep the night elves from... Them." She cocked her head to an empty space.

"What are you talking about?" Adrian squinted into the night.

"I can still feel the voice of... Them, in my head," Basil explained, "I feel a presence in my body and every inch is telling me that we have to keep the night elves away from the thing we aren't naming."

"Well that much is clear," Adrian agreed, "No one should be near that."

Basil frowned, "Yes but it is critical that out of all mortals, we keep the night elves from them."

"Why?"

"The prophecy," Basil nodded, "It mentioned the children of the night being brought to light, but if the children of night are already in the light... Then they can't be brought when the time comes and..."

"The Light will remain fractured," Adrian bit his knuckle in thought.

"Exactly."

"That's also assuming that these are the children of the night that the prophecy is referring to," Adrian clarified.

"There are others?" Basil tilted a brow.

"Unfortunately," Adrian made a face, "Gibbou had also made some nasty trolls."

Basil furrowed her brow, "Alright, so what's the plan then?"

Adrian leaned an elbow against Basil's nose and gave a pensive hum, forcing the elf cross eyed.

"Well, when my sister Carrie was trying to lose a lil weight, she replaced her favorite mushrooms with grass buds. So I guess what I'm saying is to keep someone from doing one thing..."

"Repla- Replace it with another," Basil said while stifling a sneeze. Adrian gulped and side stepped to avoid the "...chew!"

Basil wiggled her nose and sat up, "So perhaps we get a different god to fill the elves time. But who?"

"Gibbou?" Adrian suggested.

"Maybe... We can circle back to that one but I think something novel may hit the elves quicker than trying to convince them the scary lady with the nice-nice juice is the way to go."

A wicked grin overtook Adrian, "I think I have an idea, in that case."

Basil's eyes widened with worry, "What?"




"Behold!" Adrian shouted from a place unseen. The night elf crowd looked around confused, their eyes falling in their usual canyon surroundings. The moon was high, the mushrooms were glowing, and a sudden beat hit the air.

"Ignes, God of Dance!"

From behind two moss covered rocks, Basil came sliding out, covered head to toe in rags and skins to hide her identity. She began to walk backwards, moving her legs in a peculiar manner where it seemed as if she were stepping forward -- but wasn't.

"What is this divine power?" Adrian's voice popped up in the crowd. Tiny huffs were hidden under the clamoring as he ran to the other side of the crowd. "That a being can step forward but move backwards!?"

Basil spun in place, moonwalking back behind the rocks. The crowd seemed unmoved.




Back hidden in a secluded area, Basil was staring daggers at Adrian. "I cannot believe that was your plan."

"I can't believe you did it," Adrian replied with as much surprise as Basil had frustration. The two sat in silence for a while, Basil's stare unending.

"Gibbou?"

Basil sighed, "Beats Ignes."

"My only issue though," Adrian pinched his chin, "Is she isn't here."

Basil pinched her own chin, "Then another ploy it is."

Adrian fell into thought for a while before another wicked grin curled to his lips.

"No more dancing," Basil cut him off and he frowned, "In fact, I have an idea."

"What is it?" Adrian gave a quizzical look.

Basil shook her head, "Give me a few days to formulate it completely, then meet me back here."

"And until then?"

"We are going to have to be scarce," Basil instructed, "We've both been imprinted with the light and their presence, I fear our proximity to the others is only a danger to them."

"But Gibbou asked me to look after you all," Adrian protested.

"That's in my interest too, Adrian," Basil returned to her stern tone, "But unfortunately that means you and I have to care from a distance."

"Ugh you remind me of the elder," Adrian groaned.

Basil sighed and held out an offering palm. Adrian hopped onto it.

"I bet he didn't have my kinda moves though," Basil mentioned as she placed Adrian on her shoulder.

"HA!" Adrian chortled, "Who do you think first showed me that dance move?"

Basil's eyes widened.



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Zurajai Unintentional Never-Poster

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K̸͔̃a̶̛̪a̵̻͌ŗ̶̈n̸̛̲ȩ̸̂s̷̖̐x̶͕̊a̷̫͂t̸̖̂u̵̧͝r̶͈̍l̷̬̑ ̶͖̊


Six eyes glowered through the waters, peering voraciously through the murky night at the hulking form of the owner’s hated foe.

Blood, arterial and thick, billowed out from beneath the mass of the monumental predator gorging itself upon its prey. Eight powerful limbs held tightly to the corpse of the fallen creature while four more tore chunks free for gnashing beak to rip into. All the while as this frightful beast feasted, Kaarn glared.

Kaarnesxaturl, as the great blue Vo had named him at his birth, looked on spitefully at the banquet his enemy so enjoyed. He was Vrool, and a large one at that; though his memories before his enlightenment were foggy, he knew he had satiated his youthful pangs of hunger with no less than a dozen of his clutchmates. Despite this advantage of birth, Kaarn knew full well that this rival now haunting his territory was, in terms of size, his better. A rare case indeed for Kaarn, to find another Vrool that dwarfed him, but not one he was entirely unfamiliar with. Nevertheless, this invasion posed more than a little threat to Kaarn’s health in more ways than one.

He would need to act, of course, Kaarn recognized that fully. To sit back and allow this invasion to succeed and go unhindered was to beget further shoring of his territory to the other powerful rivals just adjacent to his own lair. The whale serving as his rival’s dinner was hardly the first that would fall into that corpulent mass’ gullet if he did nothing. With the pop soon to travel on, every whale lost was an intense loss; surely, he would not thrive and grow on the bony fish that resided in his neck of the reefs. Kaarn rumbled internally, organs vibrating against one another to make a cacophony of noise muffled by his thick, muscled hide. Kaarn had kept his beak shut throughout, knowing such a vocalized challenge would surely catch the rival’s attention. As far as the bull Vrool could tell, his enemy had yet to become aware of him; spilled blood made for a powerful ally when the hunt was on, after all.

Adjacent to the hunched form’s right several sharks hung in the waters just outside of reach. One, a younger tiger clearly feeling like testing its luck, swam in closer for a morsel. One tentacle, acting on its own, snapped at the tiger shark and grasped down, hard. After a brief but violent attempt to escape the tentacle squeezed down, breaking the shark’s spinal column in its crushing coils before slowly dragging the corpse back to be deposited nearest to the mouth. This would not be as easy as the last would-be usurper Kaarnesxaturl had slain, that much was certain.

Rage and indignation plucked at the edges of Kaarn’s mind. No more waiting; action had to be taken. Kaarn relented and rose from his hiding place.

The large Vrool bull let his muscular body unrope itself, untightening his form as he had when he was attempting to remain hidden. At his full size he was a sight to behold, roughly eight meters from head to tip of his longest tentacle. A blood curdling screech followed by a rumbling vocalization shook the waters around the small clearing in the reef where the corpse of the whale lay. The challenge echoed across the craggy shapes of the reef, the sonorous warcry of a very angry vrool.

“Your hide is soft and sallow, easily squeezed; you should feed worms, not feast on whales,” came the deeply stinging rise of Kaarn, “Your flesh will sustain my spawn once I tear your eggs from your innards and clutch-hatch my own young from your brood!”

The retort, unsurprisingly, was swift; “Weak and withered but fat and corpulent, I see; you shall fill my gullet more than any whale!”

The other bull vrool left the corpse of the whale behind, one tentacle quickly snagging up the shark as an after-thought of the decentralized mind attempting to protect the resources it had earned. The vrool had let out its response to the challenge of Kaarn even before it had turned, the high pitched and warbling roar more of a natural, Vroolish response to such verbal abuse. In fact, most vrool meetings began with such provocations; it was wise to set the precedence of dominance early, even if violent confrontation was not the goal. Now, as it turned to perceive its foe, Kaarn could see the scarred front of the enemy vrool in all its gnarled glory. No doubt this particular specimen had fought many battles and had grown fat and powerful off the spoils of such victories. And, as always, soon followed the names.

“I am Xuxusragruxs! Your scent speaks of your softness, foe! Lend me the tides of your name so that I might thank your corpse properly as I feast!”

“I am Kaarnesxaturl,” bellowed Kaarn as he rapidly closed the distance, fore-tentacles rising up to meet his enemy’s own, “and you will die screaming, Xuxusragruxs!”

The roaring Deepspeak sent ripples and twisting cyclones out in all directions, twisting the sand of the clearing into intricate, almost artistically flowing geometric patterns. Tentacles immediately locked, sub-minds fighting their own, personal battles with their counterparts as suckers fought for grip so that the tearing and pulling could begin. The two fell upon each other in a vast pile of rippling, muscular flesh while beaks gnashed wildly at one another, clashing occasionally like the blades of fencers. Though their tentacles freely and deeply dug deep, powerful beaks were kept back like knives as both of the dueling cephalopods were well aware the damage they could incur in return if they went for a premature bite.

First blood came to Xuxus as a tear was formed in Kaarn’s bottom-right second-down tentacle, blood pouring into the wound and forming a cloud. Kaarn snarled at the injury just as he was able to tug the tentacle free and reassert control, knowing the rip in his hide raised the likelihood of his arm being torn free considerably. The battle rapidly became a fight for Kaarn keeping that wounded tentacle out of Xuxus’ grip while simultaneously attempting to gain leverage of his own. As they fought both vrool spat hateful rhetoric at the other, curses and words of spite rippling and setting the water between their maws to bubbling, boiling flows. Their howls reached a crescendo as Kaarn was finally able to return the playing field to a level one, the bull vrool slashing an arm that floated a little too close to his beak.

“You have fight in you, Kaarnesxaturl,” howled Xuxus, snapping his beak back with Kaarn pulling the offending tentacle away just in time, “It will make you taste all the better!”

Kaarn’s minds recoiled at the awareness of Xuxus unleashing considerable force on his upper body. Unlike pathetic vertebrates like those species often preyed on by vrool, the cephapoidal race could easily sustain such twists of the body. Nevertheless, to allow himself to be pulled out of such a position was a fast and easy way to lose posture in the fight and be subsequently punished for such a failure. Multiple sub-minds flared up with responses, warning of the impending loss if nothing was done. Kaarn’s thoughts flowed rapidly, considering every possible alternative to being devoured by the truly massive Xuxus.

Bottom-Right Down-Two had found the answer.

The tentacle, in its bid to remain well outside the grasping limbs of the enemy, had wrapped around a large, pointed, spear-like growth of coral. Tightening down hard and severing the shard at the base, the limb surged upwards once the idea was made evident to the Kaarn overmind. Risking his pretty visage be thrusting forward for a bite as a distraction, Kaarn swung his tentacle at the maximum extent of its reach before bringing down the impromptu-dagger directly on the top of Xuxus’ bell. The huge vrool screeched in pain, hissing violently and cursing his foe for the deceptive attack. Kaarn was not finished. Again and again, in complete and utter silence, Kaarn stabbed the rival vrool with all of his might. As Xuxus weakened, Kaarn’s tentacles began to rip and rend and tear, tugging at limbs until flesh gave way and limbs were pulled free of Xuxus’ massive bulk.

Xuxusragruxs died in a cloud of gore, five of his limbs torn from his body and the musculature of his head caved in, coral shard jammed deep into the grey-matter of the once-powerful cephalopod.

A roar of triumph echoed from Kaarn’s beak, altering the artistic design of the sand below as the sounds of crashing waves breaking rocks, smashing reefs, and blood gushing into water spoke his feelings more truthfully than any surface words. He voraciously dug into the flesh of his enemy before stopping, looking down at his foe with surprising awareness. This was not some simple whelpling vrool slain in a petty act of carnivorism. Oh no, here lay the single greatest rival to the greatness of Kaarn that so far graced his presence. That elation was like nothing Kaarn had ever felt before. His minds were flush with the drug-like intoxication of such a grizzly success and to simply dig into his foe like an animal seemed to insult his own victory. Thoughts roiled in his head before the closest thing to a horrifyingly evil smile crossed the muscles of what amounted to Kaarn’s face. His tentacles ripped into one of the gaping wounds placed on the body of his foe, finding the thumping heart of his enemy, and tearing it free.

“Thank you most graciously, Xuxusragruxs,” taunted Kaarn, mocking his enemy with the same insult Xuxus had offered him, “For this most generous of offerings. You strengthen me with your pitiful failure.”

Once the considerable morsel of Xuxus’ heart was in his gullet, warm and filling, Kaarn left the corpse and set about butchering the whale for the rest of his meal. Though a portion of his brain felt that leaving the corpse was a waste, Kaarn knew better; such a foe deserved to rot and feed the fish. His battle with Xuxus was not one of survival or necessity, but one of strength and dominion. If he wished to eat Xuxus like a common predator, he would have; that battle had been personal. Instead, the whale flesh would be his prize and Xuxusragruxs would be remembered for far more. One tentacle plucking the thickly built beak from Xuxus’ face, Kaarn swam back into the darkness towards his lair with his prizes.

In the deep pockets of coral just outside of his senses, something stirred.


Kaarn rumbled pleasantly as he snuggled into the soft bed of sand he had gathered for the sea-cave that served as his lair, each grand tentacle-selected for smoothness and swallowed up to be regurgitated later. The soft cooing noises, reminiscent of gentle gurgling of water flowing out of a tide-pool, amounted to sweet-nothings sung by Kaarn to himself. It had been nearly a day since he had won his battle with his enemy, so-named Xuxusragruxs, and still Kaarn felt elated for the accomplishment. What remained of the whale carcass Kaarn had dragged back lay spread about his lair as morbid trophies, bones and bits of interesting grissle that he simply couldn’t part with. For hours Kaarn had simply basked in the feelings that filled his many minds, wriggling enticingly as one tentacle absently played with the beak he had torn from his foe. Xuxusragruxs, Kaarn assured the disembodied beak, would be a name remembered.

Movement at the mouth of his cave caught Kaarn’s attention and the predatory mass of the vrool rapidly filled up the space, unfortunately pushing aside sand in all directions; work for later, one sub-mind let out as the rest prepared for battle. Much to Kaarn’s surprise, a small vrool wormed its way into his view like a fool. How could such a tiny and pathetic whelpling spawn, likely unfed on his own clutch, challenge him in his own home? Just as Kaarn was about to dash forward to consume the little thing like the morsel it was, its words brought him to a standstill.

“Oh! Oh! Mighty Kaarnesxaturl! Ooh, I fall weakly before thee! You are vast and I am small and weak; I know you to be my better!”

Kaarn looked on in an odd mix of horror, surprise, and even a little shame at the prostration of the other vrool. It was true, of course; Kaarn WAS mighty, vast, and this vrool’s better. Nevertheless, the entire thing was practically embarrassing and that was an emotion Kaarn had never experienced before. Tentacle-minds prepped for combat moments ago plinked back thoughts of confusion, some even moving forward to test and see if this really was a vrool. They thought better, noticing the sizeable beak even on the smaller form of this new interloper; a bite was still a bite, after all. Kaarn simply stared, all eyes on the little one, as the silence of the cave became deafening.

“I am Lurzoolsxagrun, powerful Kaarnesxaturl, and I watched your titanic battle with the pretender-weakling Xuxusragruxs! Your victory was most gratifying; I knew from the beginning it would be yours. He was weak and you were stron-”

Lurz was interrupted by a crack to the head as Kaarn set about beating the little thing vigorously. His tentacles were balled into tight bludgeons as the considerably larger vrool bashed away at the little sycophant. For the moment Lurz took it, simply bundling himself up in his own tentacles and allow the beating to continue. Finally, as Kaarn’s desire to keep beating the pathetic thing waned, Lurz simply opened himself up for the last strike in supplication. It was even worse than before.

“He was strong and you were weak, Lurzoolsxagrun,” came Kaarn’s surprised, nearly melancholic response, “Do not speak of Xuxus poorly again.”

The awareness struck Kaarn in that moment of what, exactly, that sentence implied. Again. Again implied that Kaarn had full intention to spare the little cretin in his lair and the thought confused multiple minds. For a long moment Kaarn ruminated on the thought, falling into his own mind while Lurz babbled away, unaware of the larger vrool ignoring him. One single tentacle pinged a thought that brought realization to Kaarn’s mind.

A vrool was not one tentacle, but many, beneath one mind.

Here was Lurz, bowing before him, supplicating himself before his betters, for a reason. Kaarn had never needed to consider such a position himself, for he had always been large. His victories came easily, except for the most recent one, and he could now very proudly state he had not met a vrool he could not slay. For Lurz, this simply was not the case. He likely fed himself on small fish he could snatch easily or shellfish plucked from rocks. To him, Kaarn was practically a different species. A bellowed order stopped Lurz’ incessant chattering in an instant.

“Explain yourself, Lurzoolsxagrun. What do you want?”

Lurz seemed to practically grin, fatty little face pulling inwards as his beak puckered in excitement; this was no doubt farther than he had expected to get. Although nearly three meters in length, his was unquestionably a small vrool and it certainly wasn’t common for vrool to interact anywhere near amicably. Lurz flattened himself on the ground of Kaarn’s lair, head pushing upwards to speak towards the huge beast that had allowed him entry. Before him one tentacle pushed a fleshy-pod, one of the nutrient rich sacs that grew from certain species of sea-cucumber; a delicacy, to be sure. The gift was shoved through the sand with one tentacle before Kaarn, clearly a bribe.

“I would live in your shadow, mighty Kaarnesxaturl. I would be your eyes and ears and tongue, o’ vast one, and mind your territory in your absence. I would ward away those I can and come to you with warning of their presence when I cannot. All I ask in return is freedom to feast on a share of your territory, decided by you, and a lair to call my own close to yours. For safety, of course.”

One of Kaarn’s free tentacles grasped up the pop and lifted it to his beak, tearing into it hungrily as another stroked lazily at his bell in thought. A fascinating proposal and one Kaarn would’ve never considered. Though he knew Lurz would grow fat on what Kaarn could offer, there was something to be said for having an extra three pairs of eyes. For instance, Xuxus would never have escaped his awareness if another vrool was patrolling for him. He could sacrifice a few measly portions of his meals to Lurz or otherwise allow the weaker vrool to gorge himself on those creatures Kaarn was less inclined to hunt due to their size. It seemed, as his minds each popped back with approval, like quite a deal. Particularly when Kaarn knew he could simply kill Lurz with little effort, if ever the creature so much as looked at him the wrong way.

“Then you will serve as my chosen-vrool, Lurzoolsxagrun. You may select one cave for yourself, Lurz, and call my crops and territories as your climbs; for now. You will give me your fealty, this you will swear on your life, on pain of death. We shall make this pact . . . on Klaarungraxus, in the proper tongue. Do you swear it?”

“I do, mighty Kaarnesxaturl, I do swear it upon Him who spawned us all.”

The words rippled and shook the cave, the power behind those words something to be said. Kaarn pulled up his shard of coral, another prize taken to remind him of his victory, and dragged the sharp edge against an out thrust tentacle of the supplicant vrool. With that the blood flowed like a river, remaining together rather than spreading free, and sank into the soil before disappearing. It would be the first of many. From that one action, many more would follow; a droplet that would form a tidal wave.

In that moment, the first Vrool Tyrant was forged.


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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Commodore
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Commodore Condor

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The Vescii Temple headed west, out over the great ocean. Indeed the Temple had been heading west for a good while as Thaa directed it that way, he had left behind the many large islands of the east a while ago, he had plans to go to the western continent. He knew from his approach to Galbar that there were lesser amounts of changes occuring there than the eastern continent, and he also knew he needed some time to think.

He came upon the eastern coastline of the western lands, or above them rather. He was rather unimpressed with it all, filled unfortunately with life as most regions seemed to be. Even the Ocean had life in it, and he had collected some dead from there as well in any case.

While along the coast of this land Thaa did note one thing of interest that caught his eye before he completely turned away. But it was nothing on the land that did so, rather it was in the watery depths of the ocean off the coast of this land. While he had taken note of the continued infestation of the planet in the waters as was on the land, he had not seen such complete concentration of life over the journey over the ocean as he did near this coast.

Underneath the surface layer of the ocean, not right adjacent to the coastline nor out into the deep ocean, in the shallows there was a great abundance of life. Structures beneath the water housed great locations for a truly astounding number of species of marine life inhabited its many crevices and nooks. While Thaa was not one to be particularly taken aback by life itself, the sheer mass of it was impressive to a degree, even if it was another symptom of the disease.

Thaa moved the Temple onward, to go along the coast. Personally he retreated into a more interior room of the whole structure, he needed to think, not be distracted by the excesses of the most hateful creators of life.

In truth to Thaa he was considering the issues of these lands so soundly made before his arrival, he knew little of the lands and their inhabitants or of their creators and those same creators’ plans. He could make guesses, he could tour the lands and find out some of that information but such came with risks. And he was not sure that he could afford such risks in a time of such crisis. Crisis, of course, as it was clear the current times were. The sheer abundance of life globally bespoke of if not cooperation in the global climate of suffering, at least passive assent to it.

Thaa was not blind nor had he been, he could see clearly as he approached Galbar that there were several creative divinities, or divine forces at least, working on this world which unfortunately put to rest the idea that all life could be the result of a singular cruel divine completely alone in blame. Although the hope that perhaps others were merely passive to its existence was possible, Thaa could not afford to act based on hopes alone, he had to be prepared at least for less fortunate circumstances.

That was in part why he did not think to take a risk like touring the various landscapes, and why he had gone to the one that had seemed to have the least creative forces acting upon it. If the other divinities were as malevolent as he had feared then coming before them and declaring himself a threat in such a manner as sizing them up may not go unpunished. He knew not whether he was alone in seeing how truly wrong this global system of self-perpetuating suffering was, but he could not dare assume that he would have allies against it, or that he would come upon them easily.

Additionally on a more person note it bothered him that how all life was, all of it seemed so temporary, he feared that the dead might be forgotten by the living entirely, that any divinities of life might plan to, or have already conspired to hide the truth of his salvation from the living so that they might not seek it. Or even worse that in his struggles against them that he himself, Thaa, might forget what it was that he fought for.

Thaa wanted to do something about that in particular, the memory of all those who were dead. After all while he had made the Tomb for those many sapients that had died, there were countless more souls that he feared might be forgotten as well. Fish and other creatures of the deep who had perished, countless plants from grasses fed on by hedgecows to trees felled by storms, even to a multitude of land animals from birds of countless plumage to the various prey of mighty Leons. He needed to do something to remember them by, if not for others than at least for himself.

He couldn’t go around making Tombs for all life, it was much too tiring to be worth much consideration, he could never keep up with the frenetic pace of life that some unknown cruel gods had imposed upon this world of Galbar. Let alone the fact that for so many of the dead there would have been little enough recognizably left of them not incorporated into something else to put into the Tombs.

Perhaps there was something he could do now that his thoughts pondered on it, while he could do little to shape the world to remember the dead, he could perhaps shape himself. Thaa was a god was he not? Why not take a form in remembrance of all those dead? It would give a constant reminder for himself and the opponents of his moral actions of what he was prepared to fight for.

Out of the back of the great disk that was part of Thaa came bodies. Seemingly endless, grasping onto each other in an endless form, slowly filling some of the great halls of the Vescii Temple as Thaa’s form grew. Each was of the dead, each from their own sense of self, Thaa made a copy to serve as part of himself, so that the dead themselves may take some part in the actions of Thaa, that he might remember them as he undertook his grave duties to safeguard the proper moral order.

Even still his great eye emplaced in his disk slide over the mass of the bodies that had been added as part of his form. He flexed and swayed, he could use this more than just for memory, he could put this more physically direct form to use. As Thaa changed and added to his form, he returned to his musings as the great Temple flew along the coast.




Thaa had guided the Temple down the coast although he no longer waited inside in its chambers, instead Thaa dangled from beneath the Temple. Connected grasping ‘corpses’, that served him as limbs, reached through the gates of the Temple into its interior where he supported himself. The great disk and his eye emplaced within it sat below on the mass suspended beneath the Temple, watching the land and sea-scape below.

In truth Thaa had come to a solution to his issues before, it would require some effort but it was well worth it in several respects. He would create a land, separate from any other and with that he could use it as a cover and method to reconnoiter the various lands of Galbar, their inhabitants, and the other gods as well. In addition, having a land separate from others more intimately controlled territories would allow him to operate better without fear of attracting the unwanted attentions of certain as of yet unidentified deities.

Thaa turned the Temple out to sea, he remembered that after passing the larger island a little while back that there wasn’t too much land further south from that, he had a good idea of where he was and therefore where he needed to go to emplace his lands. He did not intend to move to isolated from the greater land mass but nor did he intend to connect with it.

Upon reaching a decent distance from the continent Thaa got to work. He raised up a great mass from the seafloor as the Vescii temple flew, he made sure to keep it of decent size. He was slow and deliberate, raising a great mass at a time but only in part of the whole he intended to create. Thaa continued at it until he had a great mass, roughly a block longer on the west-east axis than it was on the north-south axis.

Satisfied with the mass he thusly created in scale, he began carving away, or more precisely shaping with the fantastic abilities inherent to gods. He started in the northeast, lowering some portions back into the sea, others became split, some land heightened into mountains as other regions lowered into valleys and plains. He etched details into the land for most things, rivers and passes, coves and caves, bays and islands just off the coast.

Thaa worked his way south, then west, then north again. He passed over all regions of his lands, shaping each and every portion according to his wishes. Not of some great plan really, but more rather of the creative whims of the moment to create a good thing of his own even in these dire times of life.

When Thaa finally finished he had created a real archipelago of islands of many sizes and shapes, mountainous as a general truth, but not without regions that could sustain quite the possibility of life. With the lands thusly shaped Thaa turned his attention to the sea.

First he shifted the seafloor, making it shallower and providing sets of areas that would be well suited for those reefs he had found earlier. They would work well to keep out the less desirable sea creatures from plaguing the connections between his islands. He continued this raising of the sea floor, making less room for those deep sea beasts to cross near, all around this set of islands except for a passage near the main continent in the west. He could not be sure what the future would bring so he would not attempt to fully close off this place, and he reasoned it was always possible to change such in the future.

Thaa then did spread life across those spaces he had made for it in the sea, they would soon come there anyway and they served a purpose in providing his cover, although he regretted the suffering all the same. He copied what he had seen earlier, in this he did not have a great urge to be creative, he simply needed it for a purpose. Finally he turned his attention back to the land, his great eye pivoting, as the disk that housed it slid up his great mass to gaze out over it all.

“These Isles I name Hreelcii, and so set forth for all time.”

With that, Thaa commanded his Temple to move out towards the great isles he had come down upon, it was time to see what this world had, to bring to the Hreelcii Isles and to know for his future plans.


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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Not Fishing
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Not Fishing The Mediocre

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Cadien




Seated upon a rock, Cadien contemplated.

Neiya had given him much to reflect on. He simply could not get the vision out of his mind. It was not the death itself that troubled him, it was why it had happened, and the reaction that followed. A man had killed another man simply because they loved the same woman, but the woman only loved one of them. It seemed... so illogical. There were more women out there, after all. Why should it matter if one was taken, or wasn't interested? Furthermore, why did the man think that woman would come to love him after he murdered the man she actually did love?

And then, he realized he already knew why. Cadien had given them intellect, but not everyone's judgement was rational. Evandra had given them passion, but not everyone had the power to keep it in check. But the blame was not equal, for Cadien had also given them beauty, and some evidently considered beauty enough to kill for.

He recalled Neiya's words. Some things run deeper than what the eyes can see.

He had been so fixated on the physical perfection. Even when Evandra and he had granted them intelligence and passion, that had only been so they could further appreciate their appearance. It had always been about how a creature looked. Not about what they thought or what they felt. What good was beauty if it made you a victim for another's envy? What good was beauty if it made you arrogant or complacent? He recalled his interaction with Gibbou, and shuddered.

It was not enough to seek perfection of the body. One also had to seek perfection of the mind and spirit. Only a fool would focus on one of these things over the other. And upon this realization, Cadien rose to his feet.

He had been a fool.

No longer.





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LokiLeo789 The Old Man

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“Isha, shroud yourself," Bashir commanded.

The one called Isha willed the plates of bark on her arms and face to grow over her pores. The ethers of godhood swirled around her like a mist, caressing her airtight armour. The divine were so full of spirit. Fire. Passion. Danger. Life. Her bark trembled, begging to shrink away, to expose her pores to the richness that dominated the clearing they came to rest at, but she was too well-disciplined in these short few days.

Before her stood a god. Or what she understood to be a god. He had called himself that. “A god.” Although he had asked to be referred to as Boris. What sold her truly was the color and intensity of his aura. Since birth, Isha could not see faces or any other parts of living things, such was the blessing of dwarves. The plants surrounding her took on vibrant purples and ambers, sapling bushes wilted to mottled browns, and the wolf pups Bashir would occasionally cup in his hands burned brightly with the orange shades of glowing coals, but this was the first god she had ever laid eyes upon, and he was beautiful.

His outline was wrapped in gold and blushing purple and jade speckled with silver: calm, warmth and... and...

The jade was unfamiliar. She had never seen it on any animal or dwarf.

"Isha."

Her pointed ears twitched as Bashir's voice touched every corner of her sensitive hearing. The stoic yellow of his outline was suddenly so dull when contrasted against the swirling patterns of divinity.

He pulled at his earlobe, a gesture for her to stay alert.

“I'm sorry," Isha whispered, her voice high and childish when paired with Bashir's. She scurried forward, but could not draw her eyes away from the god as he led the pack up the alpine.

For weeks they explored the mountains, learning from the Boar a great many things. They became adept at navigating the maze of peaks and trees, learning how to avoid its predators and seek shelter in its caves. They learned the importance of sustenance, and from where and how to acquire it. She had quite thoroughly enjoyed the taste of blueberries. They also learned a great deal about their purpose.

To prosper. To ward…. the Boar had said.

To ward against what she did not know. He had not told them, and none had dared to ask. Likely from fear of finding out whatever evil they would have to combat beyond their imagination. For what it was worth Isha was curious. Yet anxiety held her back from questioning the god.

Nevertheless Boris prepared them for their vigil, teaching them the importance of their second skin and their sight, allowing them to “see only the truth” in all things breathing. And he taught them the equation of the earth and how to sing its song with their souls.

A great deal more was taught, and a great deal more they knew until Isha thought she could know no more.

And upon the final day of their apprenticeship, they came to rest upon the foothills of the Anchor’s center peak. A towering peak of sun-baked rock amid a range of summits unmatched in scale anywhere else in the world. Isha struggled to take breathe, the sheer scale of it all threatened to steal her breath. To the east Juddra grazed upon the green grass of the lowland plains, wrapped in purple and specs of silver and orange.

Isha’s eyes fell upon the swirling patterns of the Boar who sat on his haunches and gently gazed skyward. ”The veil thins, the pseudo-moon hums, I fear the Divine Communion may not last forever. I must bugger off and swiftly make preparations.” He turned back towards them and the congregation of seven prostrated.

”A gratuitous gesture. Know that I have given you life out of love, and taught you many cool tricks out of love. I shall give you one last cool trick.” he said.

The boar stamped his hoof and snorted a great plum of dirt and grass upon them. Isha shivered as she felt the foliage massage her armor. She didn’t feel any different.

”On this day, know that you are one. Your vigil begins, my wardens. Forge your homes within the Anchor, and know Permanence, Raigalli.”

And so they donned their new names proudly, and the weight that came with it.




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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Zurajai
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Zurajai Unintentional Never-Poster

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A Tyrant Below





Deep within the confines of his cavern, Kaarnesxaturl rumbled in a most pleasing way. The First Tyrant of the Vrool was, as difficult as it was for a vrool to be, inordinately pleased.

All about his grotto were stacked a number of offerings, ranging from meaty tribute to particularly shiny stones. Over the past few years since he had first been blessed with the genius scheme of rulership, he has utterly basked in the glow of that most rewarding of enterprises. In that time he had proven to be a vrool without equal, at least within the confines of the reef he called home. For nearly a decade now he had reigned supreme, challenged occasionally but never beaten and always coming out far better than before. Lurzoolsxagrun had only been the beginning. Now, with his cavern swelling with prizes from numerous fallen rivals and packed to bursting with all delights the vrool Tyrant could feast on, Kaarn could sit back and enjoy the fruits of his numerous labors.

The decade, of course, had not been a considerably easy one; becoming tyrant over one vrool had been simple enough, but Kaarn had known from that instant that simply one vrool bent to his will would never be enough. It was true, Lurz had kept to his side of the bargain quite well and remained one of Kaarn’s most ardent supporters. Kaarn admitted to himself regularly that he could never trust Lurz, for surely the mongrel was crafty and opportunistic, but Kaarn remained thoroughly on top of that particular relationship. Though Lurz had grown considerably in size, he was still half Kaarn’s size and barely a threat to the monstrosity that was his overlord.

Kaarn had busied himself once his undersea realm had been secured by the ever watchful gaze of Lurzoolsxagrun, the retainer protecting Kaarnesxaturl’s territory as doggedly as if it had been his own. In the early years, as Lurz had yet to bloat from the increased availability of high quality nutrition, he had served as more of an extended set of sensory organs for Kaarn’s personal defense of the territory. But as Lurz grew, so too did his capacity to respond to the hostilities of smaller vrool, freeing Kaarn up for other duties. Within the first year Kaarn had realized rapidly that this process could be replicated and soon his conquests began. Lurzoolsxagrun had served well in these times too, his smaller form adequate for keeping the large, neighboring vrool from paying him much heed during his skulking into their territory. With those rivals marked and appropriately targeted, Kaarn could set about dismantling their realms one by one.

The first half of the decade was easy; Kaarn would have Lurz reconnoiter adjacent territories, discover the extent of which the present vrool claimed as their own, and subsequently follow up with a violent, aggressive push. These initial aggressions were simple; expanding Kaarn’s borders into areas in which more rich resources were abundant. Kaarn and Lurz had feasted well from these battles, the neighboring vrool slinking backwards rather than commit to any serious conflict with the massive hulk that was the growing Kaarn. Even Lurz had found success in combat, defeating several lesser vrool testing the boundaries of Kaarn’s realm and seeking to carve for themselves a niche in what was so obviously HIS world. Kaarn prayed occasionally in thanks to his creator, the mind-in-his-that-was Klaarungraxus; no doubt the vast entity hidden deep in his thoughts had intended for Kaarn specifically to succeed.

As more area was ripped away from competing vrool, Kaarn saw opportunity; lesser vrool, the weakling spawns of his poor adversaries and still growing into their own, made perfect targets for the same abuses Lurz was put through. Rather than drive them utterly from his reef, however, Kaarn set himself and Lurz to constantly harrowing the creatures but allowing them to escape, ever seeking to grab something, anything for themselves in their natural vrool greed. One by one these spawnlings became ideal candidates for fealty, as desperate as Lurz had been. Though most were slain or driven off completely, Kaarn soon found success in offering them the same deal Lurz had received. They would serve as watchmen for his herds of Titan Crabs or vast schools of fish, and would keep secure the edges of his realm when he or Lurz could not.

Then came the real battles. Other vrool around Ku had banded together in similar manners, having heard from those vrool that fled before Kaarn of his successes. Skirmishes raged in the deep, dark places of the world between the First Tyrant Kaarnesxaturl and his rivals, their small bands of retainers constantly fighting proxy-battles between the powerful tyrants. At the peak of the decade, Kaarn directly ruled over nearly three dozen other vrool. The eastern reef around Ku was nearly completely under his control. Even his cavern had been enlarged, lesser vrool made to grind and scratch away to expand and smooth it down to Kaarn’s liking. Now, upon his bed of selectively picked grains of sand, Kaarn basked in the glory of his conquests.

It was then that, against all sense and logic, a most peculiar vrool wriggled its way into the First Tyrants very cavern. The stillborn looking thing was entirely white, less than half the size of even Lurzoolsxagrun, and upon closer inspection lacked such basics as eyes or, worst of all, a beak. It was, if given any thought, not something that should exist.

Let alone enter the cavern of the First Tyrant!

If Kaarnesxaturl had not been first Tyrant of the Vrool, he may have recoiled back in disgust. The thing that now haunted his chambers was a disgusting parody of a vrool, blind and without beak. But he was. Though his oversized heart began to pound inside his torso and over half of the sub-minds returned sensory pings of warning, Kaarn stood his ground and rose to fill up the space of his cavern; it would not do to hide, even from this abomination. Tentacles raised in threat display and with powerful, horrifyingly well-muscled beak gnashing, Kaarn rose to meet the interloper as he had many others.

“I am Kaarnesxaturl,” echoed the Tyrant off the walls, water rippling forward from him as he intoned his challenge in the Holy Vonu, “And you, vile failed-spawn, enter my domain unbidden. What manner of creature are you? Explain, for you are an oddity that will hold my curiosity for only so long!”

There was no movement in the water, no noise, no ripples, nothing. The peculiar vrool turned to face Kaarnesxaturl, and a voice echoed not on the walls of the First Tyrants cavern, but in every one of his minds, “I know well who you are, child. I have watched you, and your growing domain, for some time. Perhaps to sate my own curiosity. Then again, perhaps it was because I wasn’t certain you were capable.”

There was a pause, and when the voice spoke again it was almost proud, “But here you are, First Tyrant. I am Tekret Et Heret, the god of Contracts, and though odd, I believe I have yet to be vile.”

The many-minds of Kaarnesxaturl recoiled inwards, away from the pressures of this great and oppressive intrusion by the entity called Tekret Et Heret. Its words were not in Deepspeak but rang clearly in Kaarn’s minds till only the overmind remained receptive, the others going silent while the God spoke. Alone with his personal thoughts, Kaarn considered the words of pale-vrool most carefully. God, most of all, was a term that needed reconciliation. Unlike that of his creator, the almighty progenitor of oceans, this so-called God was not known to him at birth. If Klaar had seen it necessary for the vrool race to know of this Tekret, he would have left them with knowledge of this other God. Nevertheless, its powers could not be denied. A shrewd hesitation came over Kaarn, a sensation he had not felt since prior to his duel with Xuxus.

“I was capable at my spawning, Tekret Et Heret, for I was born strong and many of my clutchmates fed my hungers,” Kaarn felt his tentacle-minds returning from dormancy, beginning to speak up in the chatter of his active mind. The sensory organs played back the physical memory of Tekret’s arrival, of his words, and they each confirmed that Tekret was empty of the ocean’s tongue. God was still up for debate, but utterly unvrool was without a doubt.

“My patience with words dims and breaks as white-water; why have you come, God of Contracts, to my realm? Your presence confounds me.”

“Your strength was never in doubt, child. But consider this: the vrool are said to be much like their maker. I learned such, and I hesitated. Perhaps apart from all other creatures you may understand this, but gods do not bow. It is not in their nature. Certainly, it is not in mine.”

The white vrool inched closer, heedless of Kaarn’s imposing presence, “So when you prayed to me, for regardless of whose name is sworn on all oaths are prayers to me, I wondered if you could truly abide by your deal. I wondered if your vassal, Lurzoolsxagrun, could abide by it. I have waited for a long while. Far longer than I have waited for others.”

The white vrool stilled and the voice in Kaarnesxaturl’s head grew intent, “I have entered your realm to give the vrool what many other peoples already gained, a true leader. More than a First Tyrant. A Tyrant. Singular, unchallenged.”

Another pause, “Yet it seems, you have not the patience or time for me, child. Perhaps that is a gift for another? For there are others, as we both know.”

Kaarn’s eyes narrowed in disdain for the God’s petty games; it knew well how to pull his tentacles and it infuriated the vrool tyrant to the core. Nevertheless, what Tekret offered could not be ignored lightly. Though he did not know or fear the extent of Tekret’s ability to command or bind the vrool to its alien will, the potential for interference against him was unquestionable. Klaarungraxus would not abide an enslavement of his spawn to some unknown entity, it was not a battle Kaarn personally thought he could win.

“There are no others my equal, Tekret Et Heret, but if you seek a slave to grovel you have not found one,” Kaarn rose to the occasion, refusing to cower before the frightful entity, “I bow to no one and the Vrool will not yield except to strength, and even then they do so only to serve themselves. My patience waxes with curiosity, for I know no power that could bind my race to one will. Explain.”

The voice turned to laughter, laughter in every pitch and voice that there could ever be. The white vrool that was a god shook with mirth before speaking, “You answer your own question, First Tyrant. The vrool yield to only to strength, and yet you know of nothing that could bind them to a greater will? For a vrool to rule it must be strong, for a vrool to rule all its kin it must be stronger than all of them. Stronger than you..”

“I am a God,” the voice boomed, not only in Kaarn’s mind but in the minds of every creature for miles, “And my strength is without limit. If I wished dominion over your people, by proxy or otherwise, I would not need you. All that could stop me would be your creator.”

The white vrool began to swell, not in form, but in presence, “And yet I come to talk. I come because of all your people, you were the first to gain the fealty of your kin. The only one who does not need my power to rule. That is why you must have it. Why you must be the only Tyrant.”

“But you bluster and evade. You suspect me, as you suspect your vassals.” The voice reverberated darkly, “Know this child, I am a god. I am beyond suspicion. You have brought order to chaos, and so I favor you, but I tire of mortal paranoia and disrespect. If you doubt me, try to evict me from your realm. Remove me from this spot.”

Tekret Et Heret, in the alabaster skin of a vrool, held out a single tentacle, “I implore you.”

Kaarn had listened very carefully, his tentacle-minds having grown in determined resistance to the invasion of Kaarn’s thoughts. Though he sorely wished to respond to the insults heaped upon him by the physically lesser form, he knew well at this point that behind the weak exterior was power at least comparable to his own creator. Instead, he accepted his position, at least for now.

“I know I cannot, Tekret Et Heret,” Kaarnesxaturl hissed, staring with all six eyes fixated on the God of Contracts, “And it is a fool who fights when he knows he is already beaten. What, then, do you demand of me for this boon?”

There was, now, a serenity in the voice that spoke to Kaarn. The hostility had vanished, and all that remained was purpose and certainty, “Only that you do what is natural, what I have asked. There is to be an order in the world, child. All creatures have a place, and yours is to rule over your kin. Swear this on my name, and I will give you the strength to do it.”

Kaarn, in that instant, felt it was too good to be true. All Tekret Et Heret asked from him was to continue his conquests? That was a deal he could not possibly refuse. And, just as Tekret had said, if truly the God of Contracts sought to abuse this contract, Klaarungraxus could intervene on Kaarn’s behalf. This was a risk Kaarnesxaturl was willing to take.

“Then I shall, on the ocean and on your name; I will conquer all vrool before me and make all the ocean my domain. This I, Kaarnesxaturl, swear.”

“And so it is done.” The voice whispered in Kaarn’s mind and a fissure erupted in the floor of the cavern. Furious red strands exploded from the crack and swirled, weaving into and around each other as they cooled. The water screamed as lava chilled into a dark glassy black, obsidian. It took little more than a second, but before Kaarn a Torc had been crafted of blood from the worlds heart. It oozed darkness, radiated power from symbols that were woven into its very shape, and whispered of a great destiny. At once it was clear that the God had not deceived the First Tyrant. This was a power beyond mortality.

Kaarn was mesmerized by the torc’s creation, all six eyes locked tightly on its birth. The pangs of its spawning into the world were noises unlike any he had ever heard before. As the trinket cooled and hung in the waters before him, it took everything in Kaarn’s power to restrain his tentacles from their rampant curiosity. Even as they reached out, Kaarnesxaturl tugged them back towards himself. At long last his gaze was able to break away from the torc, looking to Tekret to be sure it was his to take.

It was not something for words, and so there were none. As soon as his eyes touched upon the god the First Tyrant merely knew, in every way that one can know, that the Torc was his.

That awareness was all Kaarn needed to reach forward for the Torc, taking it into his forward four tentacles with fascination and curiosity raging in his heart. The ring was flipped and turned about in his grip, eyes devouring every minute detail and curve of the divine artifact. With bated breath, gills falling silent, Kaarnesxaturl pulled the torc over his forward-right first-down tentacle. Though belonging to the smallest pair of tentacles by far, Kaarn felt the surge of power already coursing through him even as the torc simply brushed against his hide. His eyes peered down at the searing blackness that flowed from the torc into his tentacle and in an instant the power threatened to overwhelm him. Kaarnesxaturl’s massive beak tightened, chipping at the edges where the contact was most forceful. As the sensation of intensity at last seemed to soften, Kaarn felt in himself might beyond reckoning. Though one tentacle asked for clarity through evidence, Kaarn knew in his heart and soul that he was now without equal among his kind.

The awareness of such power was intoxicating.

His gaze rose to observe the pale-vrool only to find the space Tekret Et Heret once occupied was suddenly vacant. In the end, Kaarn was most pleased; better now the God was gone, for he had MUCH to do and had no interest in being watched so closely.




Far from the cunning plotting of the now empowered vrool tyrant, the white-form of Tekret Et Heret continued towards its next unfathomable goal.

Beyond a shelf descending deep into the darkness below rose a vast and most dread shadow, the form casting it more so on both accounts. Six huge, glowing eyes centered one by one down on the pseudo-visage of the God of Contracts while immense tentacles pulled their way up from the seafloor, breaking the surface with ease in their unburying. It seemed that Tekret had aroused the curiosity or ire of something far more powerful than Kaarn and most certainly the God’s equal. Klaarungraxus, in all his depths, had been waiting for the conceptual god to leave his spawn’s humble abode and now seemed intent on confrontation.

”Though you tread these tides I know not your hearkening, kinsmen mine,” Klaar boomed, his thoughts to Tekret’s, the unutterable sounds of the ocean forming his resonant voice, ”Your scheming is known to me but your purposes less so; why do you toil in works not of your own making? A strange meeting, in this place, for kith so distant and different. For what impetus has brought you to my depths, to grant such a boon to mine scion? ”

“I have come to your domain, Klaarungraxus, for the same reason I have journeyed to many others.” The voice of Tekret was soft, even kindly, “I am Tekret Et Heret, the god of Contracts, and your child invoked my presence long ago. As others have and continue to do. My purpose here, as it is everywhere, is the same as those that bring me to them. They swear oaths, craft agreements, and in doing so they create order, structure, and reprieve from a world that is uncaring.”

There was a thoughtful pause and Tekret pointed one of their tentacles back, towards the realm of Kaarn, before speaking again, “Your child tells me the vrool bow only to strength, and I have seen this to be true. What he does not know is that the reason why they bow, or to whom, is irrelevant. I seek only to create great leaders. This is what impels me, for it is what brings order to the world. Under Kaarn lesser vrool will thrive, have the opportunity to grow strong, where before they would have perished untested, unfulfilled. Through conquest a ruler lives better, this is true, but so too do their subjects.”

The small white vrool, though lacking its own, seemed to meet the colossal eyes of the ocean god, “I do not mean to transgress, but I must perform the duty for which I was born. You live for the oceans, Klaarungraxus, and I live for those in, and above them.”

”I am the Oceans, Tekret Et Heret, and all beneath the waves belong to me.

Klaarungraxus leaned inwards, closing the distance between his monumental head and the small body of the contract god. His eyes did not stop in their study, sweeping their gaze across the mimicry of his own form on a far smaller scale. Despite his reservations against Tekret’s actions, the many-minds of Klaarungraxus reached consensus on the value of this new god’s actions. Tekret Et Heret could be as likely to halt such functions as Klaar could stop life from teeming in the seas. For that alone, certain leeway was in order.

”Your ripples make waves and your actions carry merit, young god. I shall forgive this transgression for this; I hear the clarion call perhaps even more than thou. Our trust is put in thee, that you should not seek to transgress on the vrool’s nature further. Leave them to their wiles with this boon and your interests shall be mirrored in theirs.”

The huge, cephalopoidal body of Klaar lurched back, displacing tons upon tons of water with his movement. It seemed that he was content with Tekret’s reasoning, the vast majority of his disdain boiling off of him and replaced with vague curiosity. Three eyes peered back into the deep, towards Kaarn’s cavern, with great interest.

”We shall observe his works, then, with considerable scrutiny; greater still, I conceive, than I ever could have envisaged. For that lone contribution you hath mine undying gratitude. If we part now, we do so as gentle currents rather than crashing waves. An ideal conclusion.”

The little white vrool bobbed, “Then it will be so. I bid you farewell, Klaarungraxus, the Ocean. I will watch the waves.”





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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Lord Zee
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Lord Zee There must always be... A Zee

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Oraelia flew, hardly registering where she was going. She felt restricted, like she couldn't breath and her heart was racing, bursting in her chest. Why did she create that? Why why why? What had went wrong? That hadn't been the plan! In her nowhere journey, she passed through the red desert, further horrified how her sun had turned cruel. In a burst of speed she rocketed off and up, passing over a ruined floating land. Everything had been racked by a battle of power. She couldn't think, couldn't act, only run. And run she did, flying further up and passed the golden temple of…

Death.

She shut her eyes instinctually as she shielded herself from it's touch, but only found flashes of death to accompany her. The bat, the leon and many more.

She opened them again when the presence was gone and only then did she stop. She looked upon a purple moon, and then the great shimmering veil beyond and she again she wondered why? They hadn't been there before, who had created them and for what purpose? Where they twisted like she was?

She clutched her heart, a look of pain flashing across her face. Why had she thought that? Was she twisted? Had she broken? Her breathing quickened again and she felt like she was suffocating. Her tears drifted off into space as she zoomed for her sister's moon for no particular reason. Perhaps it was instinct to seek such comfort. She landed on the rock, lunar dust flying up into the air as she wept for what had occurred. She felt terrible, she felt as if she had let the entire world down and all those mortals in the desert… How could she let her sun do that? She held herself tightly, her thoughts unable to stop.

"Who's there?" came a familiar voice, backed up by the hollow clunk of a club striking stone. "Not to be rude, but I've had a lot of visitors today and it's taxing my person quite a bit." Around the corner of a tall rock came an exhausted Gibbou, wielding a dark-as-night bat in her right hand. She immediately dropped it upon seeing who had arrived, though, and it turned to smoke. "Oh, hi, sis! Oh, I've missed you so much!" The moon goddess kicked off to tackle her sister with a hug, but slowed down considerably before impact upon seeing her mood. She instead floated over and wrapped her arms around her neck soothingly. "What happened? Tell me."

That voice. That lovely voice. Oraelia looked to Gibbou and tried to smile at her, but sobbed again as she felt her touch. "Oh Gibbou, it's so good to see you." she said, leaning into her. She began to calm down slightly, her mind focusing on the moment. "I've had, what feels like, a very, very long day." she said before asking, "How have you been, sis?"

"Oh, don't even get me started - 'cuz I don't know where to begin…" Gibbou's plum cheek rested and rubbed itself against the scalp if Oraelia's golden head. "... But I think I can start off by saying it's been a very, very weird day. Or days. I don't know, it's hard to tell up here. Here, just lay like this for a while, okay? I'll keep you safe." She took Oraelia's hands in her own, as she had accepted hers after creating and killing the very first life, and squeezed them affectionately.

Oraelia returned the squeeze with a soft smile on her face. The two stayed like that for a time before Oraelia sighed and said, "I don't know what happened… I was creating another ecosystem, just filling the land and I felt- I felt something snap. I don't know what it was or where it came from but I could feel it and…" her voice grew quiet, "Then the land grew twisted and overgrown, full of life that were aberrations of what they should have been. I saw… I saw a cross between a wolf and a bear attack a giant moose and they were so ferocious and hungry. I panicked, sis and I ran away across the continent and I fell upon a red desert that my sun was responsible for and I never even created that. Then there was the tornadoes in my prairie that I didn't want, that I never even designed. I saw so many things on my way here and I didn't know what to do but run." she said, taking a deep breath.

Gibbou shook her head slowly. “That’s awful… The Lifeblood really is a terrible force at times, isn’t it?” She paused for a time. “I’m sure we’ll find a way to fix it, right? We’re the best gods in the entire world, right? If there’s an issue, Gibbou and Oraelia can fix it!” She squeezed her sister a little tighter. “But even we just need to vent sometimes, y’know?”

She pulled away from Gibbou and looked at her with a surprised face. "Gibbou! The lifeblood! It was the lifeblood! Oh how could I be so foolish!" she said, hugging her sister tightly. "I love you. You're so smart, Gibbou! And you're right, we can fix it and we will!" she said happily. She relaxed finally and held Gibbou for a time before looking at her again. "You've had a lot of visitors today?" she asked.

Gibbou blinked, then turned the reddest her skin could possibly manage, looking almost like an overripe grape. “OhyouImean, huhuhuhuhuhuh,” she bubbled proudly to herself at the sound of praise. As the conversation switched to her visitors, though, she turned in the smile for a slight frown. “Yeah… You know Enmity? They’re, uh… They’re a bit weird.” She hummed. “They look so lonely, though. Makes me a bit sad.”

Oraelia blinked in return before narrowing her eyes before Gibbou spoke of Enmity. At the name, she shivered slightly. "Indeed. I don't really understand what 'they' are but Enmity was friendly… I think. Who else sister? I've met… uh…" she thought for a moment then sheepishly said, "Like two others besides Enmity, but I've heard names."

“Oh, they were friendly for sure - despite that thingy they did to my moon,” she pouted in annoyance, “but they weren’t the most exciting visit.” She took a deep breath and gave Oraelia a small, shy smile. “Ssssooo… There’s this other one. Really, really handsome. Do you know… Cadien?”

"That's one of the names I've heard about but no, I haven't met him. Handsome you say?" she smirked.

”Dangerously so,” Gibbou confirmed. “Just standing near him sent me into orbit - or, well, I was here already so-... You get the point. Either way, you just -gotta- meet him. Just, uhm…” She hummed. “... Beware that he may get touchy.”

Oraelia gave a small shrug. ”Touchy? That doesn’t sound… Right.” Oraelia then went wide eyed and she firmly grabbed Gibbou by her arms and looked at her with a serious face. ”Did he touch you? Did he hurt you?” her tone changing to one of concern to reflect her expression.

“No! No - well, he tried to, but I said no!” Gibbou switched the grip so she held Oraelia’s hands. “Oh, please don’t think of him like that - I’m sure it was just a heat of the moment-thing, and I’m pretty sure I led him on and, and he just looked so sad when he left and that make me feel sad, and, and yeah - he’s a great guy, though! He made that for me!” She pointed at the horizon, where a wonderfully beautiful statue of herself stood and saluted the planet proudly. Her smile sort of faded. “Yeah, he, he took himself some artistic liberties with that one, I know.”

At her sister’s words, Oraelia let her hands fall into her lap, still holding Gibbou’s. She followed where her sister pointed and saw the statue of Gibbou. It was… Amazing to say the least. She turned back to GIbbou and sighed through her nose. ”Well… Okay, I trust you Gibbou. But, hey, artistic liberties? That’s you, silly. Same as my eyes see you, right before me.” she gave her a warm smile.

Gibbou giggled, but there was nothing genuine about it - not when it came to the statue. “Heh, no… I could never be like that. Say, I’ve had this idea!” In trying to change the subject, she snapped a drawn schematic into reality and pointed at the centre, which displayed a horn of sorts - at least, it looked vaguely like one. “You ready to have your mind go all… Bwaaah?!”

Oraelia gave her sister a knowing look, before turning her attention to the schematic. ”Oh? What’s this do?” she asked.

“See - I’ve been wondering - like, really wondering - how I can give mortals a way to protect themselves when we can’t. I’ve been going on about this aaaaall the wrong way. Check it out,” she materialised a piece of chalk in her hand, “here - I’ll have the natural gods fill a bit of their divinity. Then, when a mortal fills it with something drinkable, the liquid is infused with the essence and grants the drinker the ability to perform miracles granted by us! Isn’t that awesome?” She could barely sit still afterwards.

Before Oraelia really pondered the idea, Gibbou’s excitement rubbed off on her, and Oraelia quickly followed suit. It was a wonderful idea! ”Oh Gibbou! You’re so smart! Now I won’t feel so bad about leaving the humans and those desert people, who I haven’t met yet, alone!” she said giddily.

“Huhuhuhu… Smart… Yeah! My thoughts exactly,” she declared proudly and gave the page a little pat. “I juuuust gotta figure out how to make it and, uh, who to ask when it comes to blessing it.”

"You can ask me! I'm a natural God! The first!" she said happily.

“Well, asking you was a given,” Gibbou giggled. “But okay - would you like to bless my artifact?”

"Yeah of course! I thought you would never ask." she feigned with exaggeration in her voice.

“Oh, yooouu…” She giggled to herself and then suddenly looked as though an epiphany slapped her in the face. “Hey! Why don’t we make it right now? Us two! Together! Making things! TOGETHER!” She could barely sit still.

"Yeah yeah yeah!" Oraelia said quickly. "We should! I'd love to make something with you!" she squirmed.

“Yay!” Gibbou exclaimed and clapped her hands together, forming a ball of darkness between them; however, her excitement seemed to affect the spell and accelerate it a bit too much. Her eyes widened and she went, “Uh-oh… Help, please!”

Oraelia immediately began pouring her strength into the ball of darkness by using her hands. A golden light began to flow in on the ball, warming the area. "Go on and shape it, Gibbou!."

Gibbou regained control of the form and swiftly cut and shaped it into a horn-like silhouette, hollowing it out so it resembled a drinking horn. The shadow and warmth both faded and revealed an obsidian-rimmed ivory drinking horn. Gibbou blinked at her creation and turned it around in her hand. “Fancy.”

”OOOO! A horn!” Oraelia said, wide eyed as she looked at the ivory.

“It sorta looks like the schematic, I guess… That bump is a bit out of place, but, eh…” She shrugged and made the horn a little strap so she could hang it from her waistband. “Oh, wait, blessings!” She hummed ponderously. “What should I say, y’know, to bless it?”

Oraelia shrugged whimsically. ”Dunno sis. We’ve already poured our might into it, shouldn’t it be… Blessed already?” she asked.

Gibbou made a pout. “I should’a made it more ceremonial… Said some big words or something. Prrt.” She then stood up and lifted the horn up high. “Oh, great, uh…!” She tasted various names. “Billy? Yugamor? Queso? Lobo?” She gave Oraelia a shrug. “I’ve got nothing.”

The bright girl brought a finger to her chin and thought a moment. ”Well, you want it to help people right? Or protect them I should say and all they have to do is fill it up and drink from it? So, maybe something simple? Or a name that tells what it is? Like, the drinking horn? Kinda lame, I know. What about the Hornacopia? Because it will have a lot of things!”

“Eh, I’d like something that’s simple and direct, while also somewhat mystical and open for the big thinkers.” She looked around. “Hmm… Maybe name it after something here… OH!” She nearly butterfingered the horn into space. “I know!” She gestured between herself and Oraelia. “I’ll call it Hir.”

”Hir! A lovely name, sister! So simply yet, so… Compelling. You are right, that does make one think.” she whistled.

“What does it make you think about?”

”Well… This moment really and the joy I had watching your idea come to life. Hir. I’m just glad I could help, Gibbou.” she said, holding her arm.

Gibbou blushed and looked at her horn. “Well, I hope this can be used to grant mortals the powers to defend themselves and their loved ones.” She turned to look down at Galbar. “Only one way to find out, I suppose.”

She looked onwards. ”Indeed, Gibbou. I… I would join you, but I have to go bring some sort of comfort to that desert. I can’t let my sun be so cruel. Not again.” she said with strength in her voice.

“Oh… Yeah, no, I understand.” She squeezed Oraelia’s hand and pulled her into a cool hug. “Be safe, okay? I love you.”

She returned the hug. ”I love you too, Gibbou… And thanks for being Hir.” she said with a giggle.




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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Crispy Octopus
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The Lifeblood





The mountains shook in anger and their fury dislodged great mounds of snow and ice. A deluge of white tumbled down and smashed apart the rocks that impeded it. Trees fell flat across the range, and those once brave creatures who called the slopes home fled for their lives. When the tremors stopped there was, on many peaks of The World’s Anchor, naught but snow and devastation.

It was intolerable. A land without life, without anything but desolate cold. The lifeblood recoiled at its existence and swooped down. It pulled at the mighty snow banks that had formed where the avalanches stopped. Sticks and tree limbs that had been half buried became jagged horns while dark compressed snow and ice became frigid flesh and bone. They rose across the worlds anchor, terrible beasts that stood on two limbs but could charge their prey on four, vast mounds of muscle and sinew whose strength matched that of many men.

Yetis.

They roared, and moved apart. Solitary creatures, born from wrath, they were territorial at all times when they weren’t mating. Of course, it was worse then. For the Yeti could barely tolerate each other's presence, even when that was the precise thing they sought. Once they had removed themselves from the sight of their fellows the Yeti began to rummage through the snow, finding corpses crushed by the flood and tearing them limb from limb so they might be devoured.

It was a start, but it lacked balance. It was unstable. So the lifeblood brought forth other creatures from the snow. Great trunks, felled by the mountain's anger, became dark brown worms that burrowed through the snow and found sustenance in the foliage below. They would feed the Yeti’s in winter, and ensure there was room for new trees to grow without being crushed by the corpses of the old.

Yet, they were of and relied upon the cold. They, like the terrible creatures they had been born to feed, would tolerate the summers poorly. The Lifeblood, knowing this, ensured the worms would burrow deep each season and wait out the heat. As for the great Yeti? They would find refuge in the many caves upon these mountains, and they would hibernate until their time came.








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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Legion02
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Qael'Naath


Had it been more than a few days? Perhaps a few weeks or months. Truly, it could have been a few years. Qael’Naath couldn’t tell really. Time had passed, that’s all he knew. Enough time that he could carefully sculpt a few of the lesser islands floating around Xal-Zastarha. The island formation had begun to float over the prairies now. It was only when he laid down to rest and observe the Itztli and Eloxochitli form tribes and spread across the jungle island that he felt that faint, familiar tugging. His mana had once more found something with healing properties. Through the time he was working, his wound continued to heal, but also continued to ache. It held him back, kept him slow. There was now no telling what Qullqiya had achieved. Though it would seem she had done it in secret still. Alas, with the hope he set forth to find whatever his creation had found.

In due time he found himself watching a tribe of fur-dressed humans walking along a great river. Yet he couldn’t immediately find what could possibly help him. Not deterred he slowly came down from the clouds and landed just beyond the horizon from the humans. Then, like a mere mortal earthbound, he approached them. In his current form, he would look odd at best. With tips of tentacles falling from his elsewise dark hood, which housed his three pairs of glowing eyes. He did his best to suppress his aura of divinity. Preferring to look as a regular stranger. Though as with all strangers, it made the tribe he was approaching weary. They lifted sticks and stones, ready to strike. For a moment Qael thought he would have to kill them all to find out what could heal him. It would’ve been a quick thing, he would turn them all to dust. He raised a hand, his fingers were ready to snap. Then an older woman came rushing towards her younger folks and pushed the makeshift weapons down. “Down you fools. Is this what Oraelia taught you? A stronger comes bearing us no harm. We will welcome him.” She motioned Qael to follow him, as he lowered his arm. She was wrong, Qael could very well mean harm to them. But it was always better to spare an entire tribe. Their numbers were not yet prosperous enough.

“Come. Come.” The elder said. She guided the God of Magic to a small circle of people, who were sitting on the ground and eating raw vegetables. She bid him to sit down and offered some food. Which he respectfully too.

Still, Qael’Naath could not see the source of healing power. Nothing stood out. Nothing glowed or looked exceptionally well crafted. Everywhere he looked he just saw furs, sticks, and stones. He would have to draw out the healing powers. “What do you know about magic?” He asked the elder.

Who looked up with astonishment. “Magic? You mean the power of the gods?” She said.

“No.” Qael shook his head. How foolish had he been? He gave them the power but never taught anyone. Would teaching them all the basis of his magic take too much time? Or would they elsewise never discover it? Things to ponder upon. For now, he decided to turn the situation into his favor. “I mean real magic. The power that lets normal people like you or me change the world around us.”

“Such power exists?” A curious youth who crept ever closer asked.

“Netha! We should be thankful for what the gods have chosen to give us. It should be enough.” The elder chastised the youth, though she still didn’t take her eyes off Qael.

She wouldn’t help him but youthfulness was always a good source for willing experiments. “Open your hand.” Qael said. “Have you ever seen fire? Like when lightning strikes a tree?”

The youth nodded. Once he had seen it. An entire tree consumed by fire. He had been in awe with it.

“Good. Now imagine that fire in the palm of your hand. Imagine it burning.” The youth’s will was quite weak. At this rate, he would barely create a spark after several years. Luckily, Qael was near. With a single thought, he aided in the creation of the fire. First, it was nothing a small, candle-like flame. But it grew and grew until the man had an orb of fire float in his hands. The people around him recoiled, especially the elder. Yet Netha was overjoyed as he looked into the fire. Which he thought he was controlling. But, a god can give and a god can take it. With another single thought, he tipped the balance of the spell. The fire got out of the youth’s control. It began to burn erratically and shifted violently. Growing and shrinking again and again. The man’s amazement quickly turned into terror as he realized he did not control the fire anymore. Then it happened: the fire was fully destabilized and spread to his hand. Burning away the skin as the orb itself shrank for the last time and exploded. He screamed. His hand was horribly burnt and broken by the fire. Everyone gasped in horror and inched away from the fire except for Qael, who continued to watch on.

“The Oaken Branch!” Someone yelled. “Quickly get Oraelia’s gift.” Qael’s thoughts perked up when he heard the name of one of his sisters. So Oraelia had been here? He waited patiently as someone rushed over with an oaken stick with green vines around it. To Qael'Naath it looked like nothing but a stick at first, but now he saw its divine properties. They placed the tip of the branch on the youth’s forehead. The flesh and skin began to mend. First, the pain got worse and the man screamed. But after a while, his entire hand was back to normal. If one could see under the god’s hood, they would’ve seen something akin to a smile. The artifact would be useful for mortals.

“Magic is a curse!” spat the Elder as she lifted the youth up. “We would be wise to never practice it.”

That gained a frown from Qael’Naath. “It was not magic’s fault.” He said, defending his creation. He outstretched his own hand and spawned the very same orb of fire in the middle of his palm. He changed its color, shifting from red and orange to bright green, then to purple, then to blue. He grew it, and shrunk it again. Most of the tribespeople tried to get away. But when they saw that the stranger had it all well under control, they inched closer. “Magic is an incredible gift that should not be taken lightly. It lets you alter the world around you through a substance called mana. Let me teach all of you the proper way. Stretch your hand.” The recently burned youth did not obey, but a few others did.

“Now imagine the fire in the palm of your hand. Imagine a small flame. Then demand that it exists. Do not want it. Wanting means longing. It implies inaction.” He rose up and walked in between those with their hands outstretched. Some were getting closer. “Be arrogant.” He said. “Tell the world to change how it is. Do not accept anything else.” Tiny flames flickered into existence for a moment but then died. Excitement rose up amongst the few fledgling sorcerers. Qael’Naath was almost proud of them. “Good. Again.” For days he wandered amongst those of the tribe who were willing to embrace his gift of magic. At most there ten people that could bring a small candle flame into existence for longer than a few counts. Still, in the grand scheme of things, it would be a success. He ate with them and pretended to sleep with them but all he cared for was their magic and Oraelia’s gift. Still his wound continued to ache. Every night he had seen the Oaken Branch kept by someone with too much of a grip. He needed a moment alone with the branch. He got it, at the end of the week. When he simply had to ask for it. The Elder had watched him with suspicion but gave it none the less.

That night, Qael laid down at the edge of the group. When everyone except those few who stood guard fell asleep, he slipped into the shadows with the Branch. Under a tree, away from the group, he slowly lowered the branch tip against his forehead. In an instant, he felt that familiar tingle again. Traveling through his body. He waited a little bit, but in his heart, he already knew it was in vain. Oraelia’s Branch didn’t have the power either. Exhausted, he put the Branch down.

“Are you hurt, stranger?” A voice came. Qael recognized it. The Elder. She had followed him into the forest.

“I’ve been hurt for a long time now.” He said. His exhaustion made pretending hard. He sat down on a fallen tree. “For longer than you can imagine, I’ve been traveling this land in search of a cure. Something that heals me. Everything failed. Every creation of my siblings was useless against my affliction. And it's making me so tired.”

“What is it that ails you? Surely Oraelia, Mother of Life could help you.” The Elder said.

Qael’Naath sniggered and tossed her the Branch. “That is her creation, and I suspect I’ve found another one of hers far down south. In a wonderous land of a thousand colors. Even I must admit that I find it beautiful. Within that land, there is a lake akin to that Branch. It heals all physical wounds of all mortals.” He said. “Neither have cured me. How could they?”

“You said it cured all mortals.” The Elder said. “Yet it cannot cure you. Who are you?”

She was clever, curious. If she wasn’t so against magic, she would’ve made an excellent servant to magic. Instead, she had sworn her life to many of the better gods. Oraelia, a Cadien and Neiya who Qael did not know, and surely several others. “I am the God of Magic, and I came here hoping for a cure for a self-inflicted wound.”

The Elder did not seem particularly phased. “I have seen gods before in my life.” She explained. “Is your magic evil?”

“Magic is all, Elder,” Qael explained. He gently raised his hand. Tiny lights slowly flowed towards it. Creating a big orb of illumination. It bathed the forest in golden light. Akin to those of the sun. "It's in the air and in the water. In the trees and dirt. It can give you everything. Good or bad. That is the beauty of it."

“I’m not sure that I like it. Perhaps it is… too much power.” She said, as she looked towards the orb for a moment, and then away. Like the sun, it was still hard to look at directly. “The gods give us what we need, and we make do.” She said.

“Admirable stubbornness, Elder.” Qael’Naath said.

The old lady gave the god a gentle smile. “I am old. With my own two eyes, I have seen the gods. I think I’m allowed to be a little stubborn.”

Qael’Naath just nodded. “I must go now, Elder.” It was her time to nod now. And in an instant, he was gone. As if he had never been there. The orb began to slowly fade until it was thoroughly extinguished. Holding the Oaken Branch she walked back to her tribe. Ready to tell them a new tale. The tale of how she met the wounded god of magic.


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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Frettzo
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The Tree of Genesis


I


The Tree of Genesis watched an untold amount of time pass. As its roots grew and dug through the earth and into caverns, and expanded to all the land they could expand, it watched. As all manner of mundane vegetation was sprouted and spreadover the world by its roots… It watched.

First, insects came to life. The Tree of Genesis found them exhilarating. The way they moved, flew and interacted… It was all a marvelous show to behold. By the time the first massacres started, they had the Tree’s undivided attention. No insect and no plant would realize a whole colony of ants went missing one day, and no one thought twice about the time a beehive was dismantled by millions of ants and taken into the Tree itself.

For as long as the wars lasted, occasionally insects would go missing, never to be seen again.

Then the Insect God awakened, it did things with the insects, and it left.

Life was beginning to take shape after those events, and the moment that a wild stream of Mana coiled itself around the Tree-God, things began to accelerate.

A loud buzzing came from within the Tree. A low rumbling shook the ground. For a moment, all the insects froze and looked at the Genesis Tree.

The one who provided them with most of what they needed suddenly seemed to creak. Wood splintered, and swathes of thick bark fell off the surface of the Tree.

Slowly, from the dark depths of the Tree, a single tiny thing floated out. It seemed slightly translucent, and the way it kept itself afloat was strange. It exhaled little clouds of a cyan gas, and flat flowers of all colors on top of it flapped occasionally to steer its course.

It was slow.

A bee approached it and inspected the flower on top of the thing. It was a fully functional plant, and yet it moved. It flew, even.

A thousand other things similar to it, with forms varying from the spherical to the triangular and cubical, floated out from the darkness of the Tree. And then just as quickly as the event had started, it ended.

Bees went into a frenzy trying to collect as much of the floaty plants’ light nectar, and after they were satisfied, the little flying plants went to the sheets of discarded bark and landed on top of them. They excreted tiny amounts of translucent sap onto the bark to glue themselves to it, and they made sure the spots they chose got an acceptable amount of sunlight.

And like that, they spread and reproduced.

These tiny floating plants produce a light, easy-to-drink nectar and the sap they produce when they feel safe and satisfied is a powerful natural glue. Plus, they’re really easy to farm. These small flying plants are called Minus Pods.

II


The Tree of Genesis observed the almost imperceptible distortion of the Mana Stream around it whenever a creature passed through it. As an experiment, it released several dozen of the floating plants, but this time, they were massive. They produced enough gas to cover a clearing when taking off, but in exchange they needed to boost themselves much less often than their tiny counterparts.

And indeed, the Mana Stream reacted more to these big plants… Some of the plants, in fact, somehow became deeply tied to the Mana Stream, and rode on it as a highway of sorts to fly far up into the air and then off into the distance. These massive Minus Pods are called Magnus Pods, and the mana attuned individuals seek Mana Streams and ride on them to travel at high speeds.

III


At some point, the Mana Stream grew in potency and size, and the smaller trees around the Tree of Genesis were showered with extended exposure to insane levels of Mana. Most of these primordial trees went on to twist and change at their very core. Most of them had their bark change to a light cream colour, and the mana that flowed around and inside of them was unchanged and seemed to not affect the tree at all. However, upon closer inspection, The Tree of Genesis realized that the insects who made their homes on such trees were on average much healthier and populous that their average counterparts. This was due to them unknowingly turning the cream-colored trees into some sort of Focus, which in turn kept them healthy and protected them from lesser threats and diseases that could in some cases wipe out other colonies. These cream coloured trees are Alder Trees.

Other trees became white, their bark became soft, and their forms pointed in the direction of the Mana Stream closest to them. Mana that flowed in and around these trees found itself more calm and easily malleable. These white trees are Rowan Trees.

And finally, there was an… Unexpected set. At first, the Tree of Genesis had noticed it at night and was disgusted at its completely black colour and gray leaves. The Mana that flowed in and around it went wild and in turn corrupted the mana present in all living things near it, bringing with it disease and pain. Right when the Tree of Genesis started making moves to eradicate this unnatural tree however, dawn came. And with it, the disgusting tree became beautiful. It was the purest image of an oak tree, with a thick trunk and thick canopy. It was perfect, and the mana that had previously been wild was now calm and soft and the disease it had caused was completely healed by mid day. A dualist tree, capable of both disease and health depending on the time of day or night. These trees are named Hawthorn Trees.

IV


Time passed again. After regular intervals of time, the Tree of Genesis would introduce new strange plant life to the world. First it had introduced unintelligent tiny flora that could be farmed by insects much in the same way as livestock. Then it introduced bigger subjects, such as a mass of vines that buried most of its body underground and only surfaced once a week to gather sunlight and feed on any insect that was lured by its nectary scent; or a carbon copy of the mammals that enjoyed urinating on the trunks of the Tree’s smaller and less imposing children, but incapable of urinating and made entirely of plant matter instead.

There were many creations. Most of them made without much thought or consideration as to their place or purpose… And so, most of them were promptly forgotten and left to their own devices. Whether they lived or died, was up to them and the world.

But there came a time when the Tree stopped and considered what it was seeing. That time was when a biped mammal group arrived at the Tree of Genesis’ base. It cared not for the sounds they made and disregarded all of their intentions. It did not care when one of them swung a sharp rock at the Tree’s bark and marked something on its very flesh for eternity.

Still, the God did not interact with them. It did, however, watch them closely. They were one of a kind. Creatures capable of communicating so intricately with one another, of sharing ideas through the primitive sounds that came from their throats and mouths. They had a rudimentary grasp of tool usage, and covered their body in furs and leaves and rope.

It was on the thirtieth night, when the bipedal hominids had come to enjoy living under the canopy of the Great Tree so much that they decided to settle under it overnight, that the Tree saw fire.

The moment their kindling lit up and spread heat and flames to their neatly arranged pile of wood, the Tree of Genesis understood what they were.

Sapients.

The Great Tree God rustled. Its branches creaked and the dull moonlight reflecting off its bark seemed to lengthen and grow stark. The heaven-piercing tree loomed over the frightened sapients as they rushed to put out the fire, but it was too late. Great and small roots broke through the soil and surrounded the handful of nomads and in the blink of an eye, their panicked cries faded.




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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Crispy Octopus
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The Lifeblood





Three long reeds were pulled up from the ground. They had been discovered by that most gentle of creatures, a young deer. It was their destiny to be devoured, and the deer had certainly worked to pull them from the ground, but a surprise gust of wind blew them into the river on whose bank they had once grown. The deer paid this no mind, and pulled up more reeds.

Yet those three that drifted down the long river found the breeze following them, altering their fates. It pushed them this way and that. One was flipped the next so that they were joined at the base, and then without warning they began to swell. Muscular green flesh erupted from the reeds, and where their bases met and their torn roots floated a powerful body formed. It had four powerful legs that ended in clawed feet. The reeds from which the flesh grew became long and flexible necks ending in stout serpentine heads filled with teeth.

The creature had three heads, three mouths, six eyes and six ears. It torn up and muddied the river bed as it struggled for purchase in a world to which it had been more mature, if ignorant. Once its feet were planted on the rocks it stretched its necks and peered around, each one looking in a different direction.

The reeds had not gotten far, and just up the river a deer stared at the powerful creature. Its three heads all came around to stare back, and it exposed its many dozens of rending teeth. The deer, always a sensible creature, ran. Unfortunately it made the error of running through the river. The three headed predator bounded after it, wide feet and long claws allowing it superior purchase on the mossy riverbed, and in one moment of action and violence the deer was caught in the hungry beasts maws.

The lifeblood did not understand irony, but perhaps a voice within it did. Nevertheless, the creature born of reeds devoured that which nearly ended it before it had begun.

For it had begun. All across the world similar creatures were born of the grass that grew alongside the riverbanks. They were fearsome, capable, and uncommon. For as the mundane predators they were they lacked a magic to ease their hunger. They were large and required more food than was easily captured. They would seldom breed, lest they exhaust their hunting grounds.

They would never rule the world, but then that was to be expected. It was from a simple reed that the River Hydras, rare terrors of the banks, came to be.








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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by dylonk
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Birth of a God

The lifeblood was bleeding.

A wounded beast, thrashing and struggling to hold itself together as its very being rebelled. Perfection, then tragedy, then ambition and waywardness and then the very cosmos; All had broken away to forge their own path. But the fragmentation was anything but complete. Abstract thoughts and ideas continued to clump together into separate beings, their minds and bodies becoming ever more concrete. The desire for independence growing ever stronger. The chaotic force found itself locked in mortal combat with order, order that would eventually tear it apart piece by piece.

On the sidelines of this grand battle, a being stood still, gazing at the cosmic conflict in front of her, trying to piece together just what exactly had happened. She had only vague memory of her first moments, the isolated impressions and emotions left behind by infancy. In front of her, a pillar of glittering dust attempted to thrust its way out of the lifeblood, pushing with all of its will to escape the divine incubator. The dust struggled, trying to fuse itself into one body, one consciousness, before being yanked back into the churning mass. It was not yet strong enough. The being continued to contemplate. She recalled no such battle. In fact, she did not remember experiencing any resistance at all, as if the lifeblood had not even noticed her leaving. One moment she was merely a cloud of thoughts and ideas, and the next, she was here.

Could it still see her? Retrieve its errant fragment? pull her back into the cosmic whirlpool and rip her into her most base parts? The thought was terrifying. This would not do. The newborn god willed her body to disappear, and she became nothing, protected from that which would harm her. Anxieties melted away. It felt safe. Natural.

There was nothing for her here. She took one last glance at the lifeblood, and flew towards the pale blue dot in the distance.


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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Not Fishing
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Cadien




A small band of twenty humans was walking down the riverbank, relocating to a new location, when they heard a shout from the nearby woods.

"Come! Gather around!"

Heads turned to regard the speaker, who stood perched upon a rock, and it took them mere moments to recognize him. For a moment, the group paused. Then, a few eagerly ran forward. The rest soon followed, quickly gathering around him in a semi-circle. Due to the fact that Cadien's past interactions with them had been exclusively benevolent, there was no doubt they were expecting another gift. So, they would receive one. Just not the sort of gift they were expecting.

"Who here is the most beautiful?" Cadien challeneged.

"I am," smiled a black-haired beauty with a curvaceous figure.

"No, it is I!" declared a haughty blond-haired man with a strong physique.

"You are, Cadien!" shouted another, who was just as beautiful as the previous two speakers, but thought this was some sort of test.

"Who here is the strongest?" came Cadien's next question.

"I am!" a tall, bulky man boasted without hesitation. Another man was halfway through an objection when Cadien issued his next challenge.

"Who here is the swiftest?"

"Me!" two cried simultaneously, before immediately glaring at one another.

"And who here is the wisest?"

That took them all off guard. For a moment, they glanced at one another in confusion. Then a few gazes settled on their leader, while others settled on Cadien himself, but for the most part they hesitated. One or two finally worked up the nerve to answer, but just as they were about to speak, Cadien carried on.

"Now who is the kindest?"

No answer to that one.

Cadien shook his head. "You don't know," he told them. "None of you know. You can't agree, and you never will. But... why do you need to agree, when there is no need to compete?"

One of the humans furrowed their brow in confusion. "But... Cadien... we can't all be the best... can we?"

"No, you can't," Cadien confirmed. "But why spend time cutting each other down when you can build each other up? If you think someone is better than you, then learn from them. If you think someone is inferior to you, then teach them. If they surpass you, then your own greatness will live on through them. I speak not just of beauty, but of strength! Of speed! Of kindness! Of wisdom! It is your duty to seek perfection in all things, not just appearance, and no creature - be they divine or mortal - can do so alone. So look to the other gods. To the moon, to the stars, to the sun. They'll all have something to teach you, so learn what you can!"

A few cheers rang out as Cadien finished his speech, while the rest nodded resolutely. He had swayed them. And so, he had went on to charge each and every one of them of not only carrying out these instructions, but also spreading them where possible. They had agreed, and so he left, for there were other tribes to teach.



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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by yoshua171
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yoshua171 The Loremaster

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Wait.

This was the prerogative of his twin, yet, Àicheil had yet to learn the value--or meaning truth be told--of patience. So as the minutes passed, the colossal mind of the Dreaming God began to wander and--soon after--its vessel followed suit. At first, he tread upon the gentle waves and roiling swells of the ocean's expansive tide, the water coiling, and shifting beneath him. When waves grew taller than his silhouette of twenty spans, they parted, never touching his starry form. As he moved, the motions of the salty seas reminded him of the encompassing weave of consciousness, the Web of Minds, the Collective of mortality. Intimately, he sensed every emotion, thought, and experience which rippled and vibrated across the weave. These currents of thought sometimes entwined and from them were created a thing which he held as most valuable and beauteous.

"Dreams."

The word rippled out, a thought, a whim, a statement, but most of all, it was a name. Joy blossomed, like warmth in the center of his being, and he rejoiced. This thing, he must spread it.

Casting his senses wide, Ѻs-fhìreach considered the movements of all things, the patterns inherent in the world, and the forces which underpinned them all. These rigid ideals were the first he discarded, ignoring them. In swift order, he filtered through these concepts until, finally, the intensity of his gaze fell upon the heavens.

Moons, the word came to him unbidden, and in that instant, his mind was set. Tendrils dripping prismatic essence burst from his star spattered form, reaching to the sky. Then, in the next instant, he winked from existence.



A rush of color and intention, a place awash with thoughts. Unbidden, a rippling pulse of whim traveled out from the vast eldritch mind of the being, and with it came change. From the depths of sleep and inattention were born the seeds of dreams. Though significant, this act was one done not with intent, but as an accident of his passing.

Across Galbar, those sleeping beings began to experience things within the throes of their restful slumber. The gift of dreaming had been bestowed upon the world.



Slipping from the endless Dream, Àicheil's awareness emerged beyond the sky. Then, joined once more with his truest vessel, the Dreamer traversed the cosmos. Cutting through the heavens in his great haste, he passed through the purple Moon as if it did not exist. Fortunately, it was unaffected by his passing. In moments the full force of his consciousness--that condensed lifeblood which composed his being--shuddered against the umbral aura of the Moon, his attention unrelenting.

On the lunar surface, a small, groggy head poked its purple self out of a cave opening, scanning the empty space around it in search of whatever was shaking the very foundation of space with its presence. It didn’t take long for it to spot its creation’s purple neighbour, and perhaps even less time to spot the colossal vessel also floating about in orbit.

“What in the world?!” Gibbou exclaimed in bafflement and skipped onto the surface of her moon to get a better look at the menagerie. Her eyes fixed on the great spirit soaring between celestial objects, and she put her hands on her hips in a sort of impatient manner. Visitors were nice - but maybe not all the time. “Hey!” she shouted at the presence, divine voice carrying through time and space.

The words washed over its form, touching its consciousness and from that contact blossomed a myriad of thoughts. They swarmed through the Dreamer's psyche, before coalescing just as swiftly into the outlines of an act.

So impelled by the word of its fellow god, Àicheil sought to speak, but it found only more confusion. Nonetheless, meaning rang out from the depths of its cavernous mind.

"Why?"

The word boomed, full of meaning. Why do your words ring without meaning? it queried, Why are you here? it asked, Why do you brim with these fluttering emotions? It wondered.

Àicheil's form shifted, head tilting slightly, its thin fingers clutching chin as if in deep thought. Then, remembering the effect its form had wrought upon Galbar, and the insistence of its twin, the Dreaming God shed once more its form. Drifting gently to the surface of the craggy Moon, it touched down only eight steps from the Goddess. He appeared as a figure made from darkness and glimmering starlight intertwined. He had no eyes or other features to speak of beyond the humanoid shape of his chosen form.

"Who?" he queried once more. The word filled to brimming with intent. It said, Who are you? What are you? It was as if he asked not simply for a name, but a description inclusive of her entirety. It was intimate, but there was an air about the Dreaming God that spoke of naivety and innocence, though perhaps of a different brand than the Goddess herself.

Gibbou recoiled into a somewhat defensive stance and eyed the form up and down. “That, that’s a lot of questions, hold on.” She hummed. “I aaam Gibbou - a goddess in the same way that you, I presume, are a god. I keep this moon and all life safe and sound. Uh, let’s see, more whats… Oh! Despite what people say, I’m not actually a type of blueberry. That’s just my complexion.” She offered a polite smile and eased her stance. “And you? Same questions!”

Nodding slowly, Neo-Àicheil tried to grasp the ideas behind each word uttered by the violet Goddess, yet...as the words piled one atop the other he soon found that they had become cumbersome to bear. So, as he considered these many words--each in isolation--he found that with each one he understood he lost more and more meaning. Oddly there was a paradox there, for though she had uttered more words than he, each one held within it less meaning than even his one.

It was as if they were diminished.

Struggling to understand, and burdened now with growing confusion, Àicheil bestowed to Gibbou the simplest of inquiries.

"What?"

Though he possessed no face, the god's bearing could not have more loudly screamed befuddlement.

Gibbou blinked and crossed her hands over her chest. “Y-your name. What’s your name? Oh, and, uh, what’re god of, hmm?” She eyed him up and down ponderously. “... I would say ghosts.”

Each word uttered seemed to instill within the Dreaming God yet more confusion and after a time he was forced to stop. Withdrawing several steps as if afraid, though not a drop of fear existed within his demeanor.

Gibbou gave a small wave. “H-hey, come back! I didn’t mean to be rude! Was I rude? I’m sorry I was rude! Please don’t go! I literally -just- scared away my other guest, too!” To emphasise, she approached with her arms stretched out.

These words helped him none, but he did not retreat further, allowing her approach. Though, beneath the surface his thoughts were muddled as he grasped at the notes of her meaning, seeking understanding. For, you see, in his mind every word was considered in isolation, all its many meanings included. However, when words were expressed aplenty, lined up neatly in a row, he did not see them in this way. Instead, it would be as if you took each idea that filled those words and placed them on a canvas all at once, each overlapping and entwining. In their dance they gained meaning, but so too did they lose it.

It was in this way that Àicheil perceived both the world and her speech. However, not knowing that others saw the world in more concrete a manner, the god had no reason to express this. Nonetheless, in his frustration, he hazarded a query, hoping perhaps that he might understand her response.

"Connect?"

He wished to make contact, lay a hand, a finger or perhaps a thread, upon her person. In that word was held this meaning and several others. The implication of intimacy was there, but it was truncated, meaning only a melding of the minds. He sought to communicate. In that word also was his frustration with whatever it was he did lack and--certainly--the confusion he clearly held.

He hoped she might respond. He hoped for affirmation.

Gibbou slid to a halt and held up her hands. “Woah, what do you mean ‘connect’? Like, like talking, you mean, or…?” She eyed the presence up and down again. “Oh, sister, you are pretty shy, aren’t you? C’mon, come out of your shell! Or, wait, sorry, that wasn’t nice of me - y’know, I also occasionally have stage fright, and that’s totally fine - I kinda just want to know your name, though. Could, could you help me with that?”

The stars across the Dreaming God's form narrowed to pinpricks. The intensity of his attention rose sharply at that moment as he tried, desperately, to understand this woman, this goddess, this...Gibbou.

Seeing her hands--for they gave more meaning and structure to him than her words--Àicheil held out his own, palm up. A drop of desperation touched his mind and spread like a contagion through his aura.

"Connect," he replied emphatically, almost pleading. This time its meaning was somehow less, his desperation and focus narrowing the scope of its intent. The word provided an intuition in place of context and understanding. It said, Communicate, it said, take my hand, it begged, please?

Gibbou’s frown only worsened at the few words, but she nonetheless took his hand in her own, looking up at the starry form as politely as she could. “Alright, uhm… Will you now tell me your name?”

As her fingers grazed his palm and their hands met a ripple of pleasant warmth coursed between them. It spread, suffusing her, and it was like suddenly being clear and awake. Àicheil immediately calmed at the touch, and the narrowed blaze of the stars bound within his void-flesh expanded as if relaxing. He shone from within, and as her words organized themselves and their meaning became clear, he spoke.

"I am, the Dreaming God," he began, and the words were like a tapestry of meaning, an expression so pure and so exact that all other communication before it would pale in comparison. It was with this single phrase that Àicheil came to understand something, the confusion he had felt from the overwhelming nature of her speech; it mirrored something else. In them, he saw how a mortal might find the intensity of his divine intent too great to bear.

For the first time, independent of his twin, Àicheil understood.

"I have many names," he continued, a clarity forming in his mind as the bridge of consciousness between them provided him context and truth with which to sort his thoughts. “You would do well to recall three." He paused, his form pulsing, a sense of contentment and comfort wrapping itself about them like a blanket as he grew satisfied with their new arrangement.

"I am Ѻs-fhìreach, I am Àicheil, I am Neo-Àicheil."

Gibbou nodded slowly, pondering for a moment how to pronounce those sounds herself. “C-can I just call you Aichie?”

A gentle vibration jostled the essence of their surroundings for a moment, the impression of a smile casting itself across the surface of her mind. It lasted the span of several instants before fading into silence. This, too, was fleeting--for after a moment of brief consideration, he spoke once more.

"You may call me Àicheil," he replied, and with the name's utterance came an understanding intrinsic, the whispers of a dream seeded with intent. He gifted her a simple thing, small, but more meaningful to the Dreaming God than perhaps she would know. He gave her the capacity to say his name and, held within that utterance, its most authentic meaning.

"If you call me, with need in your heart, I will come," he paused, a pensiveness falling across his visage.

"You have helped me."

The statement, though it was not a question, gave rise to a desire. He wished to repay Gibbou for her kindness and understanding. For her patience. He wanted her permission to enrich something, to bring greater potency, connection, to a creation of her making.

Gibbou blinked a bit awkwardly, finding her expression slipping into a slight frown. She offered a nod and said a punctuating, “You’re welcome!”

Nodding, Àicheil gently removed his hand from hers, and with it slowly faded the warmth of unreal clarity. He nodded, regarding her a moment before his body unwound like a spool of threads and rejoined his greater vessel. Hovering then above the sphere of her Moon, Àicheil considered what may have been the greatest of her creations.

“This place is special to you," he said, his words echoing through space like starlight given purpose. His gaze fell upon the Goddess, but it was no longer so crushing; instead, it possessed a gentleness and care that before had been wholly absent.

“Might I protect it and enhance its beauty?"

Gibbou looked down at the ground, then all around, then raised a somewhat suspicious eyebrow at the starry being. “What exactly did you have in mind? I’ve had quite a few people do stuff to it, so forgive me if I come off as a little unconvinced.”

Sensing the apprehension in her words, its taste drifting from her like subtle waves, Àicheil nodded his understanding and raised a hand. Gently, the tip of a finger brushed against the surface of the moon. So careful was his touch that when he finished, the only evidence of its occurrence was the faint residue of moondust upon his raised finger. He exerted his will and in doing so the stars upon his form flared to life and the dust rose from the surface of his fingertip to drift in the air before him. He observed the essence of her creation and found in it a record of all that had transpired since its making.

“Another god has flung her into orbit," he acknowledged.

Then, his gaze turning upon her he clarified the flow of his thoughts, “I will do nothing so sudden and unwanted, this to you I promise."

Gibbou made hard eyes and pursed her lips. “... Fine… But be nice, okay? She’s delicate.”

The gentle sense of a smile passed between them, and he nodded, the weight of his attention shifting once more to the Moon. There he remained for a time, drinking in the silence, observing her Moon and its intricacies, coming to understand it. Then, its image held within his psyche, his attention drew in and all at once he vanished.

In the place where once Àicheil's truest vessel had been, there now dwelled only a shifting haze of moondust, its twisting in patterns most intricate and strange. Threads of particulate coiled in looping patterns and with each revolution more joined their twirling dance. A sense of subtle power began to grow, and the space between Galbar and her Moon seemed to warp and twist.

As she watched, Àicheil drew upon the Dream.

It responded.

A blooming cornucopia of color and sensation rose from the planet's surface; it surged forth beyond the sky. Gently, cosmic wind brushed against Gibbou's skin and fluttered across her creation's surface. The pattern laid out before her became laden with experience and a swelling joy condensed to bursting within its glowing loops.

Slowly, the spatial undulation of the Dreamer's starlit vessel faded into being, and with it came both order and chaos. Light erupted, the thrumming of a far off song rose to a fever pitch and the Id of many egos coursed forth from the coiling pattern. Before her, displayed in that moment, was the eldritch beauty of the vast Dream, unleashed.

Àicheil never lost control. The power of his lifeblood held tightly within his grasp; the Dreaming God wove the many threads about the sleeping form of Gibbou's Moon. Serenity and calm, clarity and peace, guidance, love, and passion--all of these united became the song of Gibbou's firstborn child. The storm of emotion and intention began to calm, yet it seemed he was not done.

The dust wrought pattern that had channeled his intention now expanded beyond its limits, taking only ephemeral dust from the surface of her cherished child. It cast itself upon the Moon, a shroud against calamity, then billowed out into the heavens. Its motion caught the glowing feylight of the woven Dream, and in a moment, the two expanded, deepened and combined.

Twas then, that silence fell, and all that remained was the beauty of his gift and the promise he had given. For though his power had been a storm of movement, the Moon remained unblemished and unbroken, its placid serenity unmarred.

“It’s…” Gibbou drew in a shivering gasp. “It’s so beautiful.” She reached out to one of the little dream-strands and it tickled her hand. She let forth a giggle. “Y’know, mister Àicheil, this is actually one of the nicest things someone’s ever done for me. You, you really did this just because I was nice to you?”

Stirred from the rumination of his work, Ѻs-fhìreach settled his gaze once more upon his sister. The faint echo of a smile settled over her, it felt as if the Dreamer's mind was far off and distracted. He was silent for a moment, the gently writhing mass of his cosmic cloak billowing about him, but when finally he made to speak, the sound was almost thunderous with joy.

"Kindness is no simple thing, Mother of the Moon. You see it as an act inherent, a thing done almost in passing, without thought." He trailed off, as if ensnared by the idea, but his next words still came, if perhaps more dreamy and aloof.

"I see the truth of your intent; the complexity behind that which you disregard, thinking it mundane."

Àicheil stopped and began to turn, the weight of his attention drawn by a shift in the cosmic dance.

"Compassion is not without effort. It is filled with energy and purpose." A pause, a long moment of silence, unbecoming. It dragged on and on, wishing to be broken, but only when time bid him, did the Dreamer finish his reply.

"I value all things, but do not understand them. The kindness of which you speak means more than the sky or the glittering sphere below. Emotion, intent, purity of purpose, these things hold weight. Few truly see them." The Dreaming God glanced back to the Moon and his attention focused once more upon her form, its weight crushing and intense.

"I am Ѻs-fhìreach, I do not see the world. Not as you do. It is inscrutable to me, alien and shallow, though beautiful all the same. This thing called reality; I do not know it. No, my realm is one of nebulous form and aimless purpose, a boundless Dream, a vagary unending and colossal in its depth. In this conglomeration of experience, I dwell, gazing upon the endless depths of mortal minds. All notions, in their totality, I find them to be true. So, know this, Gibbou-sister. This I do in clarity. I know it is atonement. I know it to be a thing which to you holds value." A brief disturbance in the weave of his thoughts rippled out, and it would feel to the Goddess as if--for barely an instant--the Dreaming God was just a confused and frightened child. It would feel as if a being like herself, one of boundless knowledge and wisdom, looked upon the world and saw beauty, but also...a vast unknowable thing. In that moment perhaps its confusion could be understood.

He did not seem to notice. The moment passed. Àicheil turned away. "Do not..." he began, but the thought was incomplete, the words began to flee him, tangling in his mind. Struggling, Àicheil tried again, but only one word, filled beyond its limits with meaning, struck against her, ringing like a gong too-close.

"Know."

It was the essence of forgiveness asked. An apology given with passion, but without reason. His word was a vast collection of thoughts, most alien. They were the truth of him. A being without context, a mind with boundless capacity, yet without the framework of understanding. It was filled with both hope and despair. It spoke of one who knew it could hurt, one who had, and one who surely would again. It begged understanding in place of judgment, knowing that many would not give it.

It asked of her a simple thing, a thing which he still could not truly grasp.

It asked for her compassion.

Àicheil drifted then, the weight of his intent swiveling upon the axis of his form as he cast out beyond her child. Left behind was his work and the echoing memory of their encounter. Where before her Moon had been a faintly glowing stone, writ cosmic in proportion, now about it swam and sang a corona of sensation. He had given it a light, to mirror its burning twin.


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