Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Commodore
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Commodore Condor

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Dinner & A Show

The Sacred Septet & Oge’Ivu



There was the strange and surprising sight that came with the otherworldly veil being suddenly removed from Keltra, and revealing all that had been hidden to outsiders before - a trio of grand sacred structures that had been erected, and the celestial congregation of archai that dwelled upon numerous perches or stood as sentinels along paths and passages, but also the existence of the rather prevalent Stria, and the previously concealed presence and antics of the children of Anath Homura.

In all directions; the sky sparkled and split with slow sonorous thrums and sporadic high-pitched screeches, as a second similar sky could be seen beyond the breaking borders of the veil being sundered. The distorted fragments that consisted of all the prior scenery was submerged and swallowed in the spreading phantasmal phenomena that had begun to also swiftly disperse afterwards, so that the newly shown scenery - with all of its visible luminous life and animated activity - was all that solely remained.

In the brief period before the veil had been completely consumed, those that still perceived the two different and divided realms were innocently unaware of each other, yet unbeknownst to these blissfully ignorant individuals was the fact that the separated realms remained tangible with each other. As a result, there was the potential for accidental collision between multiple invisible beings - or potentially intentional collisions that were arranged by the Divine.

The nescient Sacred Septet surfed the Stria upon their shimmer-boards, riding the rushing rivers of liquid light all throughout their designated area within Keltra. In their eyes, the way ahead was clear and free of unexpected and unfamiliar sky-titans, though they had seen the beginning of the changes to their surroundings, as the air warped and came apart around them. Despite their attempts to avoid the phenomena, they were blind to that which was actually ahead of them, and that was when Courage and Pride crashed into something unseen.

Neither of the two champions had been taught how to handle crashing into what felt like an immovable wall, but both were blessed with incredible reflexes which helped them now. The front tip of their shimmer-board struck the unseen something first, and the inertia caused it to immediately forward flip, violently tossing them off of it as it flung itself away. Courage held her sister in her arms, as she twisted herself and acted as a shield that smashed into the strange invisible wall.

The remaining two pairs of surfers had seen what happened to their sisters, and so sought to avoid such a fate, but Curiosity and Wanderer were too close behind the first pair to change their course. Wanderer abandoned her naive sister, and leapt from their shimmer-board to prevent being slammed into the wall. The agile champion slammed into the wall, while her sister crashed into Courage and Pride, proceeding to lose her shimmer-board as well.

“We should go slow.” Kindness suggested, as she and Fear followed the unfortunate path of their sisters. Though the last pair felt the futility of their situation, they persevered as Fear hastefully struggled to alter the direction they were going, or at least attempt to come to a halt before hitting whatever was obstructing the way. They steered themselves further sideways, opposite the direction that Wanderer went, and then also crashed themselves.

None amongst the Sacred Septet had avoided their fate of collision, and then the veil that hid Oge’Ivu from their sight - and vice versa - had finally faded. The confused heap that was the recuperating Heralds of Honor could now see that they had surfed straight into the bulk of a colossal creature without even realizing it.

With the veil faded most of the colossal form that was Oge’Ivu seemed to pay little attention to the small taps upon her carapace. Tendrils expanded and expelled from her underside to reach and touch the brilliant lights and all new things gently. A sole one reaching back- attempting to prod those tapped spots and see what exactly was the cause. What little thought she gave it at that glorious moment of revelation considered Gedhe’iwaks more likely rather than Homuralings as the case may be.

The flesh rippled deep as tendrils shifted and moved, more muscles and functions moved as the great mass shifted to better reach what she could now see. Such reverberations were widespread so much that even the small creatures now scattered along her uneven carapace could feel the movement deep underneath.

That sole tendril approached spear-claw opening to allow the gentler feelers within to inspect the area of impact. The tiny creatures began to crawl and climb along the length of Oge’Ivu, crossing the vast extent of her exterior and exploring as they spoke to each other, all of them traveling together now.

“I’ve no idea what we are looking at, but isn’t it amazing, ya?” One mused aloud in excitement, providing support to the smallest and clumsiest amidst their number while they all wandered.

“Please be cautious.” Another answered, carefully seeking to avoid the tendril and alien antennas that approached them, unlike the other small creatures that were much more curious and welcoming. Their thoughts then extended beyond the boundaries of their bodies, and touched upon the much larger mind of Oge’Ivu - telepathically greeting the gigantic animal with grace and an abundance of reverence.

Sounds as they made meant little to the great form of Oge’Ivu- but the psychic contact was well greeted as much as she was able. Her bare feelers retracted with such an assurance that their forms meant little harm or direct interest.

A low rumbling came from the vast interior of her form, as did contact psychically through that established bond- although slowly with little practice and much messy intent. The tendril claw-spear crashed down before them- making no damage upon the carapace but a grand sound regardless. Through the bond came first a messy reply of greeting and then a sense of movement forward, sight, tendril, meeting, tendril, meeting, sight, meeting, sight, tendril.

Elsewhere above the other claw spears failed to grab the light of the Stria- although far from a lack of trying. Surfing along those luminous streams was Desire, riding upon Sunset Orange and watching the interaction between Oge’Ivu and her sisters with an amused look. She sailed towards the sky titan, and alighted upon the armored head with an agile step as she also tossed her shimmer-board away, lazily letting Harmony collect it along with the others that were scattered after the collision.

“Would you be willing to let me eat you?” Desire asked, as she shifted closer to one of the immense eyes, and peered at her reflection that was staring back at her now.

Once more her tendrils froze as divine power leant knowledge to the words otherwise meaningless to Oge’Ivu and the Iava’Oge. Once more a deep rumbling came from within her, meaning only to the divine although her mind flashed in connections and ideas of what was brought forth. The meaning unfolded only to those with the power of understanding even as her mind and thought tried hard to compose in face of others most intelligent.

Crimson stained creatrix, mother or daughter, answer remains, do as you must to me - my children will be protected.

“Hmm…” Desire hummed to herself, as she knelt upon the strong carapace and then thrust her fingers into it akin to a set of spears piercing through vulnerable flesh. Her hand swiftly submerged itself, before being suddenly wrested from the hard exoskeleton with chunks of it within her grasp that she greedily gulped again and again as she repeated the process.

“Would your children be willing to let me eat them?” The goddess asked, as she feasted upon more and more of Oge’Ivu, consuming handfuls of cracking carapace with tremendous haunting haste - expeditiously eating an exorbitant amount that she should not have been capable of devouring considering her small shape, yet she did not slow.

A sharp pain began to build and groans rippled through the mass of Oge’Ivu - blood and hissing fluid spilled as the goddess broke and consumed. A tendril crashed along the carapace to attempt to swipe away the goddess. Door-like vents began to open as something began to hum low and deep near the wound- a sickly smell of rotten fruit began to poison the air as the swipe tendril closed in.

“Delicious!” Desire exclaimed, and her voice reverberated through the air - it was all that seemed to remain of her visage as she had vanished from sight, then the tendril that had arrived was sundered in a bloody burst and spontaneously swallowed by the unseen deity that still sought to vehemently sate her savage hunger.

Suddenly she called out to the six champions that were attempting to reach the violent commotion, inviting her sisters to partake as well. None amongst them could perceive her as she sped herself beyond their senses and continued to consume more of Oge’Ivu, unhindered by the attempts to thwart her.

“Desire! No! Stop!” They called out desperately, repeatedly attempting to discern where the goddess would be whenever she ate, though it became immediately obvious that there was nothing they could do to prevent her from maliciously persisting in her brutality. They currently were hindered by their lack of balance, barely able to stand as Oge’Ivu retaliated against their sister.

The response triggered, the reaction made- from the vents and gates of flesh came beast and creature of no birth or common name. They came from the flesh and were of the flesh, its defenders in interiors and beyond the reach of the tendrils of the Iava’Oge so carefully designed.

Wing and leg and claw, muscles thrumming not with any concern for health or longevity- they were of one purpose, eliminating what damaged the great beast. An immune system writ large to rid the body of such ills as marked so well. Thrumming flesh marking wounds- sickly smells unleashed to tag those who made them, their targets set they did not think so much as do what they were built for. A cell does not think to defend others against a virus, it only acts as it is made.

Those gates of flesh opened and let loose a stream or river of forms seeking out what must be removed. Others moving to lick and heal the flesh, meld their bodies to stop bleeding and give themselves for the whole. Wings unfurled and claws sought to catch, teeth set to rend, inside the beast a response triggered to make them and so they came with such painful wounds- hurling themselves at the Goddess.

“This’d be my first time cooking some food.” Desire declared, then the air around the wounded flesh began to hiss, and the profuse amount of blood began to boil, as suddenly scorching tongues of long verdant flames licked at the smaller creatures. Emerald embers suffused their burning shapes along with the section upon Oge’Ivu that had been afflicted, brightly bursting into infernal bonfires that spewed forth swirling columns of blinding smog. The foul fumes choked life with a ferocious intensity, suffocating both the creatures that protected the lava’Oge and the helpless champions closeby, as their strength seemed to stray and wane away.

Then the gluttonous goddess came to halt, calmly hovering over seared chunks of carapace and the array of strangulated creatures below her, but with an increasing hint of concern etched into her features. “Have I made a mistake?” She asked, as soared towards the Sacred Septet as she blew the fiendish fumes of the fires away from them, and posed another question with accumulating annoyance. “It tastes mind-blowing, sisters, so will you at least have some?”

“You’re hurting us!” Courage rebuked, and attempted to fight back against Desire, but she moved too slowly to strike the deity that leapt backwards with incredible agility. The others summoned their neglected spiritual strength, and combined their powers through their connection, standing together with unity. Their cohesive stance acted as a bulwark against their divine sister, rejecting her presence and pushing her further back.

“Us, huh? You’d rather play with your food instead of eat it?” Desire sneered, and crossed her arms over her chest as she drifted away from the champion and closer towards the massive mouth of Oge’Ivu. “Fine! More for me then!” She spat, and flew towards the sky titan with a hungry glitter in her mismatched eyes, but before she was struck before she could reach her meal.

There was a thunderous crash, as Harmony thrust her fist into the flabbergasted face of Desire, and sent her surprised sister hurling towards the outer ring afterwards with terrible force. Nine wings with red feathers emerged from the back of the second goddess, as she immediately dispersed the remaining bonfires which freed the smaller animals, and began healing both the burns and bites by regenerating what was devoured accompanied with washing waves of soothing vigor. She reassured Oge’Ivu and her sisters that Desire would not be continuing to prey upon the former, and apologized on her behalf through telepathy.

A tendril lifted up to meet Harmony, it’s clawspear opened to reveal its many feelers. Replies of comforting and gratefulness radiated back amid the messy thoughts of the massive brains of Oge’Ivu. The few of the small beasts that remained seemed to wonder fairly purposeless or confused, a few managed to catch the way back into the vent-doors of flesh leading within- most were too far out, lost in the unfamiliar world on top of rather than within her grand carapace.

Sounds of distant rushing air amid other things resounded as many tendrils of Oge’Ivu were recalled within. She began to float and move lower, amid a touch closer for the giant to the great sky city. Harmony silently retreated after all of the turmoil had been amended, following the trail of the other ousted goddess, while the Sacred Septet shared their gratitude as she departed through thanking her repeatedly.

“You’re not hurting anywhere, are you?” Curiosity asked Oge’Ivu, once she resumed crawling along the massive creature with the rest of her sisters, continually checking for any lingering sources of pain, and attempting to alleviate her concern with a more affable exchange. Pride relayed the question since it seemed that Curiosity had forgotten that the sky titan could not understand or speak with words.

To that coherent thought Oge’Ivu replied that she wasn’t in any pain, and indeed repeated the question back towards them. There was a swelling of various feelings that mingled across their minds, as a few of them contemplated while others nonchalantly answered: “We’re fine!” as well as, “Don’t worry about us, we’re stronger than we look, ya.” though the thoughts of the others that refrained from replying while the ruminate were still felt. A feeling of uncertainty and anxiety.

“Why did Desire behave in such a barbaric manner?” Kindness inquired, however her sisters had no knowledgeable response, and they instead focused upon consoling themselves and communicating with Oge’Ivu, further melding their minds in order to offer an exchange of memories and sensations. A projected sense of calmness and acceptance came back to them. As their minds melded, a rumbling song came from deep within Oge’Ivu- she floated in the air, moving no further any way.

The Sacred Septet pulled primarily from the vast reservoir of memories that Pride possessed despite the fact that she had traveled only once throughout the duration of her existence in the previous world - yet ironically she had seen the most out of all her sisters - and so they showed Oge’Ivu glimpses into the past. A mixture of exotic and mundane moments, both brief and prolonged, as all of them experienced the scenes through the sight of the smallest champion.

There were enlarged wintry woodland realms, wherein dwelt gigantic creatures that were akin to those that roamed the new lands that were known to Oge’Ivu. Then there were the more strange creatures to be seen; beings forged in fire, sculpted from stone, or imbued with ice, and yet animated with vigorous functional purpose. There was the myriad of life that adapted to and inhabited the diverse wilderness, then there was the myriad of life that adopted civilization and culture - all these creatures which were alive and ever perpetuating their meaningful journeys.

The daughters of Anath Homura showed their travels throughout the skies as they sailed upon their magical brilliant boat, soaring above grassy plains and the restless seas. They showed their various trips throughout the world when they rode atop three colossal machines that carried their slumbering kindred, as they marched across deserts and jungles and alien realms filled with shadowy roots that guided them. All of it had been new to their eyes, and even now the feeling of familiarity eluded them despite these diverse denizens and wondrous locations residing comfortably within their memories.

There was joy and sorrow, as scenes of brutal suffering blended with the beautiful sights where compassion would prevail, but the world was never boring. Everything had a story to tell, with wisdom to impart upon those that would listen, and it seemed the Sacred Septet had been invested in investigating and learning all of the tales that were to be told. As they explored these memories, they attempted to also experience the scenes more vicariously by temporarily transforming into various aspects like the ground whenever it was walked upon, or the wind that rustles the leaves as it flies by, or the strong emotions that compelled creatures onward.

There was still something that was essentially themselves, as they chuckled amongst each other when Wanderer wanted to remain as a tree, or when Kindness expressed that she felt somehow cold when she became the snow that blanketed the forest floor. Sentiments that belonged to them, and yet were not a part of them. They could perceive the world from numerous perspectives, but they were still anchored by shards of something that served as their identifying cores - it was the gentle dichotomy of lives contrasting with each other combined with the semblances that they received upon conception.

Memory-vision flowed forth from the Giant in reply and return. A scene of calm delights, a mother-doe of the Huwu’idang and her children meeting the sight of Oge’Ivu as she passed by the coast. The vision in memory focusing closer in time to see a berry branch fall out of one of the youngling’s mouth as it finally looked up with its kin. A curiosity lingered even as she pressed pass with a hunger known.

Hunting whales off the arctic circle, her eyes focusing on the submerged pod but also a wall of clouds on the horizon. Water rained but mixed with soot and smoke into the ocean below. A mild frustration as the whales managed to surface behind an iceberg as her attention was pulled away by the sight…

A sight from far above, where the stars and world below could be seen. The stars did not twinkle, but even the dimmest was visible clearer than any night sky, dancing Auroras played in the skies below. The only land beyond the occasional island a far coast including a curiously circular island just off the ways. A sense of burden and care to be taken.

A choir of deep mews and half-song as Oge’Ivu gathered her hatchling children with every tendril covered with them latching on to hear her sing. A warm embrace of hundreds if not more as it seemed a cloud of the smaller juveniles gathered close. The whole scene in all its wonder overwhelmed by the memory of such rapturous joy and contentment.

Tendrils brushing against the ocean surface with low flight, sea going to every horizon even as the clouds above stayed wary of each other. Fish darting from one cloud to the next as two Iava’Oge tried to match their maneuvers amid the skies and winds above. A mothers concern held back to let her children find their path.

A large plain, a migration of people- part like the children of Homura, the other like the body of a horse. Brief glimpses caught as Oge’Ivu soared along the mountain peaks, fighting against an updraft the whole way.

Dots of light and flame upon the ocean as she moored herself against an iceberg, her eyes bringing sight of oar and wood. Arguing men whose heads were alight even though they cared not about it. The dark night with company of the stars as their words lost in the distance- it would not have meant anything to her even had she heard.

A forest underneath as shadows flitter from tree to tree with nothing to make them. The trees darker than any other kind to be seen, only the horizon showed light environs.

A great desert stretching from horizon to horizon, interrupted only by grand mountains and a grand channel that split the land, the mountains themselves seemed to try to lift over the channel to not change it.

In the here and now; in their contemporary and shared interaction with Oge’Ivu, the six members of the Sacred Septet celebrated together all that they were able to witness in the theater of the mind - aspects of the world beyond the borders of Keltra which the sky-titan had shown them. They mostly found themselves inspired, invigorated, and intent upon acquiring more similar and exotic experiences, and so posed a proposition to Oge’Ivu with a mixture of excitement and bashfulness.

“Please come back to us when you’ve seen more, and then we’ll give you a gift in exchange!”

She was pleased, that great being, accepted such a proposal with ease, although the concept of a gift was vague in her mind. Regardless, she sent forth one more concept, not a memory but something deeper and far less intelligible even to the grand creature herself. An imprint of purpose she had been given when her flesh was first made, and she had passed this to her children. It was clear this sense may had degraded when known from the mind sharing communication the divine offspring and titan currently shared- nonetheless, a sense of gentleness and cooperative guiding toward such small creatures as of they.

The concept of bowing to an immense creature that the Sacred Septet currently stood upon was certainly strange, but their appreciation and ardent beliefs compelled them to convey - through whatever means - their profuse gratitude and acceptance of all they had been given. The tilted balance of their stances almost caused them to stumble in the middle of their gesture, but they were able to complete their expressed thanks without further troubles, and afterwards attempted to embrace Oge’Ivu by kneeling once again with their arms spread and faces pressed against the carapace. They informed the great beast mother that it was a tradition amongst them to include an auspicious hug whenever they say farewell.

It took a long moment but the great mother managed to reciprocate in a way with a tendril’s feelers lifted close to embrace the Septet as well. Several more tentacles lifted near her great head as well, eventually managing to form an odd sort of undulating ramp or bridge down to the city below from her own back. Oge’Ivu sent a feeling of warmth to the Sacral Sisters across the mind bond.

The time for their departure had come, and the six champions arose to their feet before swiftly descending down the improvised path back to their home. When they alighted upon the outer wall, they offered a second set of much more gracious bows to Oge’Ivu, though they were no longer capable of telepathically communicating with her once they ceased contact, and lacked the means of discerning whether their gesture was understood or not. Regardless, the sky titan retracted her tendrils and set off northward- finally departing from the sky city.




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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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The Journey - Part 2.2 - Side Quest - Attack On The Mind Pod - Unknown - Light Woods


The Penumbral party was on the “road” once more. After saving the village they started to make their way towards the Mind Pod, guided by their newest companion, George. He told the group the story of the village, how their people came to be and how they almost went extinct.

The forest was calm, quiet before the divines played around with their lives and ended so many of them. Willingly or not. Before the village was overrun, they discovered what was the cause of the constant attacks and they formed a party of 20 villagers, meant to cut through the forest and destroy the cause of their problems, the Mind Pod. Thinking that if the Mind Pod would be killed, the attacks would slow down.

The party was beset by flying dino-plants which killed a part of them, 7 to be exact and then things got worse when they encountered a pack of Dino-Rex controlled by the Mind Pod. Normally not a pack plant, these Dino-Rexes were different. They were protecting an area which the party believed to be the resting place of the Mind Pod…they were wrong.

As they tried to avoid the Dino-Rexes, they didn’t realise that this was all a trap set by the Mind Pod. Unknowing that they were led into a trap, the Mind Pod herded them to a clearing where they got surrounded by the Dino-Rexes. A fight soon started but what the humans didn’t notice until too late was that the ones that fell, weren’t killed.

They were taken away, the purpose was unknown but before they could all be taken, two of the group managed to escape. George and one more person, a horse with the upper body part of a human, named Chiron.

Chiron soon left the village to look for help and has yet returned while George stayed behind to make sure that Chiron has a village to return to and that didn’t go so well. It seemed that the village was doomed until the Penumbral party arrived.

Now, George was leading yet another party to the Mind Pod. Hoping that this one, smaller in size, might pass unseen or at least deal with any attackers with ease.

This is where we lost the triplets Legsies, Armsies and Toesies. Something came from above, got Legsies before she knew what happened. Armsies was next, his face was half-bitten off and died soon after. Toesies had the worst death, something came from below as she tried to defend Legsies. Bit her in half. We couldn’t do anything about it, they just died…the others came after. One by one, the original party was killed. Until Chiron and I were left. We ran as fast as we could. I thanked the divines for allowing us to escape that day but Chiron kept saying it seemed suspicious and seeing that the attacks intensified after we came back…make me believe Chiron was right. We just led them back straight to the village…” told George to the group.

Don’t worry, we’ll kill it and take revenge for your people. Potentially saving this whole region from being under the control of that thing or at least, bring it into the Shadow Bazaar. I’m sure the Lady would find it useful for something.” replied Penumbra with a grin. Surely Ashevelen would find this creature valuable to someone if tamed.

As they walked, Penumbra started to lag behind the group as Dahm traded stories with George, who somehow understood every rhyme that Dahm would say. Custosa was leading the group forward, spear at the ready.

Penumbra was perturbed by questions. They recalled the conversation they had with Ashevelen and ran it through their mind again and again. What was their purpose? The Goddess wouldn’t do something on a whim, she always has a plan, so, what was it? To figure out a divine’s plan was something beyond mortal capabilities but that wouldn’t stop Penumbra.

This was a journey of discovery that was for sure, but discovery of what? Knowledge of themselves? Knowledge about the nature of Umbra? Nature of trading? The questions were run thousands of times in their mind but answers eluded them for now, maybe later on in the journey.

Eventually, George made a hand signal and everyone stopped in their tracks. He pointed a finger further into the forest towards a clearing “ That’s where we saw the Mind Pod and where the pack of Dino-Rexes surrounded us. Get ready, it’s about to get ugly. I’m sure we’ve been noticed by this point and yet, no one attacked us. The forest is quiet, too quiet.

Dahm let out a yelp, started singing while staring at a massive shape that seemed to approach them. A loud THUMP, THUMP soon followed. , “Danger is everywhere
Like deadly beast on stalk
Danger, here and there
Better watch where you walk’


Custosa readied herself, George went into a pugilist’s pose and Penumbra, sneaky as they were, hid inside the shadow. Quickly disappearing from view and going around the area where the monster was approaching from.

And there it was. A massive Dino-Rex, bigger than the one Jeon rode on, pushed the trees away and suddenly the quietness of the forest made sense. With a loud roar, the creature’s green eyes gave away the fact that it was under the control of the Mind Pod, charged towards the group.

Dahm used [Goddess’s Song] ability to enhance the shadows around to give Penumbra an edge, while Custosa stood right in front of the Dino-Rex’s path using the [Taunt] skill to attract its attention and getting ready the [Full Counter] ability the moment it would attack.

Penumbra appeared behind the creature and using the shadows which Dahm creatively made for them, quickly took Geogre who was in position to attack with them as they teleported using [Blink+] above the creature, in the canopy of trees above. As they fell from the air, ready to attack the yet-unaware of the above danger, Dino-Rex, it finally reached Custosa and opened its mouth wide to swallow her whole.

The moment the mouth made contact with her spear, the Full Counter ability activated and the Dino-Rex staggered back. Right into a [One Normal Punch] ability of George which pushed it to the ground and that’s when the onslaught started.

Penumbra charged forward and activated their [Ashevelen’s Chosen] skill and almost instantly they teleported. Each time they’d appear two shadow-blades would cut through the Dino-Rex which was still stunned, a few hundred strikes in mere seconds proved to be enough. By the end of it, the Dino-Rex was covered in blood that was pouring from everywhere on its body and soon its big head let out a blood curdling howl before slumping on the ground.

Level ups soon followed. Each hero getting 2 levels and George, 6 levels for taking out a creature way above the party’s level. The party stopped and went through their new abilities, telling each other their new ones and the upgrades of the existing ones in the hopes that it would bolster their already proven team-work skill.

That was easier than expected. ” said George with a smile.

Talk for yourself, you weren’t the one that had to stare down the Dino-Rex as it charged at full speed to you. ” quickly replied Custosa with a wink.

Penumbra and Dahm built a fire and threw the Dino-Rex’s body inside the shadow that it formed, making sure the creature would end up in the Shadow Bazaar. While they didn’t have the skills to harvest the important bits from it, Penumbra knew that someone at the Bazaar would have.

As much as I’d like to celebrate, we have to keep moving. That creature must’ve been controlled by the Mind Pod which means that it knows we’ve won. More are probably on their way to us right now. We got lucky with this one but now the Mind Pod knows some of our abilities, if it’s smart enough to lay traps it will be smart enough to plan against our abilities."

The party then went forward once more. Closing in on the clearing, shuffling humans and other mortal races started to be seen. The humans were dressed in the same manner as the other villages but the other mortals were very confusing for the party. There was one person that kept pacing around with the lower part of the body different than the upper part which looked similar to a human’s body.

With a prompt from George, who explained what those other mortals were and what they're called, the group got ready to fight once more and surely a fight would come to them, right as they were ready to go into the clearning.













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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

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The abyss emerging into the light


The Rirakuri, those misshapen tentacle blobs of the abyss, poured through the tunnels of the Labyrinthine City they had been created in, driven by one thing.

Hunger

The black mass of eyes and tendrils looked like a monstrous abomination, but there were minds there, not those of some feral pack. These, despite, their nightmarish appearance, where people.

In some cases, they were scouts, picked out by local leaders to seek out the surface their goddess had told them of, and to then bring its knowledge back down to the rest of them.
In others, the front runners, had gone off on their own initiative, unknowingly trending the path of the [adventurer] as they sought out new sights and sounds. Others were refugees, fleeing violence in the depth.

Yet, ultimately, it was that raw basic need that drove them. Hunger. A hunger so deep it bordered on obsession, on addiction. For these creatures fed on souls, and truly, there was no fare sweeter than that essence of life, sucked from its body, fresh and virile.

Their goddess had brought them into a world where souls were bountiful, found in every stone, let alone every thing that might be described as alive. Yet the depths were mostly barren, and the fickle souls of stones were poor fare, bland and lacking in nutrition, and they did not renew themselves. Nor did the spirits of divinely crafted architecture, and though those were rich and nutritious, more than one fresh spawning of Rirakuri had ended their own existence by devouring the soul of the structures of the labyrinth they found themselves, only for those dead monuments to come crashing down upon them with vengeful ire.

Last of all, when it came to souls found down in the dark there were, of course, souls already eaten by other Rirakuri. Never mind that drinking all of the life force sustaining another Rirakuri was lethal to the victim.

There were murderous monsters stalking the deep now, and wars raged, between groups of seeking to consume each other’s stores of souls, yes, but also between those sudo-cannibal clans and those that had formed the first moral laws of the Rirakuri: to steal the souls of another was a sin.

Unless Rirakuri in question was a sinner of course, in which case it was fair game to ‘reclaim’ their stolen souls as a form of justice. Who was cannibal and who was upholder of the law, then, became rather difficult to discern.

Thus, the surface, a story, a fable, a promised land. The tendriled tide sought it, rising up, exploring the maze, seeking exits, and find them they did. But not all exist where created equal.

Many born in the east emerged from the castles surrounding the labyrinth’s exits, and found lands only touched by the lightest of divine brush, a wide, flat, featureless expanse covered in dry grasses and slim pickings when it came to wildlife, with only the odd herd of zebras galloping across the land in the distance. Others emerged in barren wind swept mountains or into unpopulated natural tunnels holding no life at all, only yet more sorry stones to sup upon.

Others were luckier, and came out even further east, finding the seas bountiful and flourishing, their tendrils forms taking perfectly to the salty waters. The luckiest of all emerged into the dark woods, a realm full of aged life and untold souls, living and dead.

Yet all of them did find one thing in common, and that was an ocean of ghosts drifting about, undisturbed since the dawn of time except for the passing of the boatman and his collecting of mortals. That service, slow as it was, had not the time to worry about the souls of everything else, and so here they sat, souls of beasts, plants, bugs, bacteria, stones and objects all, simply idly existing.

Waiting to be eaten.

The explorers who reached the surface immediately began to gorge themselves on this bounty, devouring the sea of souls, tendrils reaching out and plucking flavors untasted from the veritable buffet on offer.

Those in the darkwoods themselves would have thought themselves to be the most blessed and lucky among their kin, for the ancient wood was simply overflowing with spirits, and indeed they were the luckiest, all except, perhaps, for one group who ended up meeting a strange fate that would leave scars upon their kind’s psyche for all eternity.

These Rirakuri where simply doing as the others did, peartching upon the battlements of the castle like a horde of sea anemones, their tendrils reaching up and grabbing souls from the sea, gorging themselves on the delicious floating seafood and vegetation that was too dumb to realize what was going until it was too late, when they where rudely interrupted.

“Well well well, what’s all this then?” came a voice from atop a tower in the castle looking down at them all, and when the creatures turned (or formed) their eyes to see where it came from they beheld the form of the one they would soon come to know was Jeon Du Termas, god of these here woods. They only got to do so for a moment before he was gone in a flash, a gust of wind the only sign of his passing as he dashed down into the labyrinth he had created only a bevy ago.

The Rirakuri were left confused for a moment, and then as suddenly as he had vanished Jeon had vanished he returned right up close to one of them that was in the midst of slurping up a shark ghost.

“Tsk, you look away for a second and your labyrinth dungeon gets squatters,” the god harrumphed, before leaning in and looking the Rirakuri right in the eyes. Well. In an eye, it had too many to actually engage in a stare down. The rest of its eyes looked to and fro at its fellows, then at the speedy goat thing staring it down again and then, after a moment, its eternal craving insisted that it resume slurping on the shark again. So it did, awkwardly sucking on that spirit a bit like an ectoplasmic juicebox.

“Ew. Gross. You really are kinda disgusting looking, you know that?” Jeon said as he leaned back away from the monstrosity, only for his eyes to go wide when the form of the creature suddenly shifted, tendrils shifting and changing, growing, shrinking, intertwining and finally changing in color and texture till he was looking at a (larger) copy of himself.

Then, it said “is this… better?” to the shocked god, who looked around and saw that he other’s had copied this one and that he was now standing a small sea of doppelgangers.

He was silent for a moment, and then, to hide his discomfort at seeing this, joked ”you know, I think taking on the image of a god is probably blasphemy”

Unsurprisingly the Rirakuri did not see this as a joke, and so the god got to watch his own form collapsing into a horrific mass of tendrils and eyes in a dozen different ways as they fell to what counted as their knees as they begged for his forgiveness.

“Ah, jeez, that’s not. Urg” the god scratched the back of his head awkwardly and then said “Look, you are forgiven, and, uh, the you being horrible thing was a joke. Yeah” for which the tentacle creatures, or rather, the tentacle people, were forever grateful.

“So… Your deal is that you're tentacles, you shape shift and you... Eat ghosts?” the god asked, “did someone make you too clean up all the non mortal souls? Because if so I don't really get why they made you sentient. No offense”

The Rirakuri looked at one another, and then the one Jeon had first started down asked “Mortal souls?” with the tone of someone hearing about an interesting new type of food they would oh so like to try. Desperately want to try. The, slightly tipsy himself, god thought you could maybe best describe it as the tone of a gourmet alcoholic, which was concerning.

“Oook that is going to be a problem. So. I am going to cut this off at the chase and stop you being declared foe of all mortal kind, or being run over by an irate boatman” Jeon said, before telling them to “wait here for just a second” before dashing off for a second time.

He returned a few moments later holding the shoulder of a very nervous looking elf ghost (who he’d found conveniently nearby due to them spying on the god and the tentacle people) in one hand, and a rolled up sheet of paper in the other, and found that the Rirakuri had started eating again already.

“Yeesh. Ok. you lot have a problem, but whatever, I’m not here to fix that, just this” he said, presenting the elf to them.

“Um. ah. Hello-” pre-instructed elf started to introduce himself (as MacaronEye (named after a type of penguin) specifically) but got rudely interrupted by a tendril reaching out to grab him by the arm

“Ah!” he cried out in alarm as he got pulled towards the mass of eyes, tentacles and, worst of all, a spike toothed maw, which opened wide and bit off his arm, causing MacaronEye to scream “My god, help me!” in horror and pain, a thing he had not felt since he was alive.

That, fortunately, had always been the plan, as Jeon said “tch, disappointing” and stepped in, raised the rolled up paper (which had a detailed contract drawn up on it by an Umbral [pact broker] that boiled down to a self expanding list of mortal races, all of which where listed as ‘do not eat’ on pain of pain) and smacked the Rirakuri with it with divine power, repeatedly, whooping every one of its tentacles and then it’s finally ‘head’ in the space of a heartbeat.

Every Rirakuri, and it really was every Rirakuri everywhere, not just the ones here, flinched reflexively as they all were forced to empathize with their punished member. That Rirakuri let go of the now one armed ghost and curled up in a ball of pain, tendrils wrapping around its moaning form as it started experiencing just the worst hangover imaginable.

“And let that be a lesson to you all. No. Eating. Mortals” he told them “because it’ll now suck… also its highly unethical anyway, but this should teach you all nice and quick”

“Un…ethical?” one asked carefully

“Yes. a thing it is bad to do. You have those rights. You know, don’t kill others… whatever you are”

“We’re Rirakuri… and, we have a rule, which is don’t kill-steal other Rirakuri’s soul-food” that same one offered after a moment of thought

“Oh. well. Here, just extend that rule. Mortals have the same rights as a Rirakuri, and so you can’t steal their souls either. Got it?” Jeon suggested

“But… soul-food is soul-food. We eat. That is how it is” another one replied

“Ok, let me put it another way. If you eat mortals, they will get mad, gang up, and try to kill you in, I assume, the same way you treat ‘soul-food’ stealers” he tried, but they still did not seem convinced. A few even chuckled at the thought of soul-food being a threat.

“Here, let me demonstrate” he said, before turning to MacaronEye and saying “hey you, your mad that that one at your arm right”

The elf made an affirmative noise before adding “I mean I’m kinda mad that you let it do it too” and then swiftly biting his tongue

“Good good, let the anger flow through you, and then take this” Jeon encouraged him, while offering the ghost a wooden stick. He looked confused for a moment, then reached for it with his remaining despite the fact that he shouldn't have been able to touch it, and then his eyes litt up as he heard a level up notification in his head for the first time since he died, and he could suddenly grip the stick.

The new [poltergeist] grinned viciously, and then did what came naturally, which was turn on the hangover stricken Rirakuri and proceed to beat the crap out of the eater of his arm.

“And there you go. Now imagine nations of people coming after you. Not worth the hassle right? And if you go around eating their souls, you make yourselves the enemies of every mortal, not to mention the gods who made them. And you don’t want that now right?

“N-no?” one preoffered

“Good lad” Jeon said, patting it on the tentacles, before adding “now, let it never be said that I’m not willing to use a carrot as well as a stick, so… you lot are explorers right? Traveling out into the unknown, finding new things, going on an adventure right?”

“Y-yes?” the one he had pet replied

“Well it just so happens that I’m the god of adventurers, so here, let me introduce you all to the wonderful world of levels as a reward for sitting though my lecturing on ethics” he told them, and snapped his fingers, prompting a little notification to ring through all of the present Rirakuri’s minds

“Now then, with that, I’ll be off. You might be squatting in my labyrinth now, but that isn’t going to stop me finishing up what I started and making it more interesting” Jeon said, dusting off his hands and turning to go, giving them a parting “you lot play nice now” before dashing off down into the labyrinth once more

The Rirakuri [adventurers] were left behind, standing there in silence interrupted only by the thunk thunk thunk of the [poltergeist] thwacking one of their number. That sound gradually slowed as MacaronEye realized he had been left alone with the soul eaters.

“I, uh,” he said as the stick slipped through his spectral hands, the anger needed to allow him to interact with the mortal world slipping away and turning to worry and fear “I have friends watching. They’ll know. Besides, I taste icky right? And you don’t want to be unethical, yeah?” he said as he backed off slowly. Slowly. And then made a break for it, sprinting away from those many ire filled eyes.

There was a long pause as they processed this turn of events internally, punctuated by the moans of their beaten and hung over fellow.

“God banned us from soul-food. Now we starve again” one eventually said, like a cat who’s food bowl was empty in the middle. They got a well deserved smack from another who rightly pointed out that there was still an absurd amount of soul-food to be found. They hadn't even seen a mortal soul till being introduced to one after all and yet had eaten what felt like more soul-food in that time than they had in their entire lives.

“So, we need to go back and warn the boss right?” one concluded after they had finished mocking the idiot

“You can go, but not all of us. Much left to explore on surface” another said

“You mean eat” the first added, knowing what the other really wanted

“Also eat. And spawn. With so much soul-food, we can have young at last. I always wanted some little ones” a third said

There was a ring of affirmation, they could indeed now spawn many many more Rirakuri. Many more. Far more than the forest could support once the ghosts were all gone, though this would not occur to their kind till later.

“Also much to learn about mortals” a fourth said suggested

“Why learn? Not soul-food any more” the one who had claimed they would starve retorted

“Dangerous” the fourth replied, pointing at their beaten associate.

Another round of affirmations

“So, how learn?” one asked

“Obvious” the fourth replied, before its tendrils rose up, transforming again as it took on a familiar shape that, like the Rirakuri, had a mass slightly larger than a human. “Walk as one, be one, meet others,” said an elf identical to MacaronEye in appearance before concluding its objectives with “and learn their weaknesses”




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A queen’s subjects and a queen’s fury

part 1



Oa’qeisskesi stood watching at a distance the maze seeing the sunset in the horizon as Rirakuri’s started leaving the maze to hunt in the woods around, she kept a stare as they moved through the night eating before they returned to the void hunting with their limited skills. Fixing her eyes she soon heard the dark sun whisper “having an idea?” she gave a nod still staring at the hole they came from as the silence of the woods was somewhat calming for her. The sun rose and set at least one more time before she lifted up going down again into the tunnels saying “better prepare them more…” “Shouldn't we… oh wait i see what you are thinking” The sun said disappearing for her once down bellow walking through the halls of the city maze arriving at the spawning pools bellow she gave a nod looking at the architecture that shined illuminating part of the surrounding area before sitting Rirakurian’s kneeled when passing by her not being able to talk unless in primitive forms of clicks, humphs and others. She ignored their attempted ramblings before saying “technology, magic, and hmm more…” her eyes widened a bit as she took her divine form of a dark being floating above the crowd.

Standing on the edge she then made a gesture as the Rirakuri gathered around her she then said “my family… I by here grant you boons and wisdom” She hand waved them as they soon were able to speak in the abyssal language finally talking after emerging from the abyss. Lowering down to their level standing still tall amongst the mumbling crowd as silence finally descended she then said “this is but the beginning there is much to be done…” She felt happy at the current plans and from there she started teaching them about abyssal magic, its ability to devour magic, summon strength from the darkness, cast tentacles, eldritch blasts, summoning tentacles to pin kill or just immobilize an opponent. Magic that came from the abyssal realm itself fueled by soul consumption, corruption, and the dark sun itself. Oa’qeisskesi watched her students from a distance, wandering through the outer layers of the maze watching the exits to regular caves and some mines she hide a small smile with her next plan, observing the mines she quickly categorized the resources around iron, copper, tin and other resources deep beneath the earth. After returning to the Rirakurian pockets of population she started teaching them how to make forges from the architecture and the resources of the great maze before teaching them how to extract the resources of the caves around to melt these resources and to make metal tools from them to use in battle or inside the city for their own benefit.

Once all was in place she sighed at her hard work noticing one final thing to note seeing they seemed to go more distant from the abyss. She sighed raising her hands, she soon grabbed the souls of the Rirakuri, they were abyssal of origin, meaning an afterlife was complicated using her powers, she then tied their sapience and souls into the abyss tying their existence into the abyss if they died they would return to where they came from, even if products of them sometimes they could slip into their own ways but if walking too far they might even forget who they are and disappear after all. After some effort, their souls were tied to the abyss this time without needing her to constantly be around them. Sitting again on the ledge of a bridge seeing the situation below she then rose an eyebrow at a dispute between them she soon sighed realizing a problem; since they had the freedom to choose and to act they most likely would split into petty kingdoms and infight thinking for a moment she soon connected with all the Rirakurian’s in the area. “I realized something, we need organization in this area so let us do something… for all hearing that wishes to rule over this side of the world here a challenge a championship whose prize is to rule over this land shall begin”

Oa’qeisskesi after some days of worked carved a giant colosseum in one of the paths of the maze, suspended over a chasm, and held by chains, the strange architecture also sustaining it, sitting in the royal podium, she watched the mass crowd of Rirakurians bellow in the middle of the stands, cheering the champions more below roughly 100 in total she could count. As the games began she stood watching as they started fighting in matches, the songs of drums, trumpets, and music could be heard. She never was much to bother with these things as she sat almost looking bored but in reality, she was interested in the outcome, seeing the participants start fighting one seemed to be very quick, unfortunately, he fell quite quick as well to the might of a strong man, the strong man as well seemed unbeatable until defeated by the smartest of them and the smartest person fell to the those who could act quicker than he could think. The conflict raged on for many rounds. A new one was soon put on top, not surprising. It was the one who managed to balance all traits needed in combat but in ruling, that would be another story Oa knew that and gave a nod, for now, might, would make right but in time they would choose a new ruler. Floating down in front of the champion she soon extended her hand and in them, her hands manifested a crystal. Its energy was rather, unique giving its users the ability to have more strength than usual but also giving an aura of leadership, around them she soon floated turning to the crowd saying in abyssal. “Aaukisseai!” The crowd went silent and she then said “behold your new ruler and prepare for the future for now… times are starting to change.” She quickly flew up breaking a hole through the arena’s roof and launching debris to the sides making non-fall back leaving a bright hole up before she flew away thinking. “Too many emotions i need to burn some…” her hands were clenched as she soon landed north of the dark woods, seeing villages she felt a tinge of anger, feeling the abyss clenching for relief, after so long her ears could hear rather static.


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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Utrax
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The Great Northern Glacier... still


Impassively the Ice Golem stared at the gathering of Umbra, which called the cave deep beneath the Northern Glaciers home. Behind them stood Myrtu, who sent an impassive gaze right back to the golem.

Silence passed for a while as the Umbra quietly circled the Ice Golem- their analytical gazes noting every detail, every angle, every potential use and most importantly:
"I think it is... unintelligent," spoke one umbra whose pale-shadow was tinged with pink.
"Yes, but what is it doing?" Asked another Umbra.
"And why is it here?"
"Let's ask..."

And all eyes turned to Myrtu.
And unto them, spoke Myrtu, "I haven't the faintest idea." And lo, did he turn away from the gathering with a whip of his glorious mane, to the sound of a collection of exasperated sighs.

There were more important things to do after all!

With a short increase in pace, Myrtu ventured to the center of the massive cavern and, as he closed his eyes, focused his divine intention deep into the frigid ground below. A wind picked up. Gently did it blow across the various grasses, picking up dust as it did so- dust which began to orbit about Myrtu. This dust, shimmering and glittering in the light of the cavern's walls, were trillions upon trillions of extraordinarily tiny fragments of minerals and ore.

Gathered from the soil beneath the soil, from deep within rocks below, from veins of materials which had yet to be discovered, made of metals unnamed, and even drawn from the discarded piles of ice that had become those mounds- decorated artistically by the small "village" of Umbra living here- the glittering particles of minerals and metals were pulled toward Myrtu's call.

With a toss of his mane, the collected metallic dust condensed into an orb, which continued to grow as more was gathered. Sure, Myrtu knew he could have dove into the ground, pulled all the metal out, but that would have crushed all the pretty flowers about his feet, and that was a bit unacceptable to him.
He had just made those, after all.
And sure, he could have replicated the metals of that distant comet upon which he was awakened so long ago, but that would be no fun and it would not be of this world. He wanted this to be made from materials of this world because it simply needed to be. But he was not going to wait for the required quantity to be taken from the land itself, no- that would take a lot of time and the monument was urgently needed.

Once it was consolidated in an orb larger than his hoof, Myrtu turned abruptly, then with his hind legs KICKED-

Rainbow Light BURST when his hooves made impact with the orb and the wind WOOSHED sharply as the orb all at once grew by a massive order of magnitude within the cavern. Its nature became pure- a glittering pastel-pink metal that had been brought into... being...

"Oops," Myrtu accidentally projected aloud.
And this caused several Umbra behind him to yelp and dash for cover.
Whipping about, Myrtu huffed at them, "No- do not flee- tis not as the prior... incident..."

He hung his head and pawed the ground briefly. This had not gone as intended. There had been several hundred different metals vibrating around in that orb, after all, and he'd wanted them to be strong, see? Very powerful and shiny, too- really tough stuff- and had that mind when he kicked- but he'd miscalculated his kick a bit.

He admitted.

He'd accidentally kicked a single fragment of the metal with his intention and caused a chain reaction- the replication of the metals turned into the replication of the metal, omit the s, and all else was deleted- leaving the orb a single uniform material.

Embarrassing.

A few of the Umbra peeked from behind their ice huts fearfully and Myrtu tossed his mane defiantly at their expectations! It was only one little accident! Myrtu was sure gonna SHOW THEM NOW!

Nobody was going to accidentally get sent out of orbit this time!
He knew exactly what he was doing.
Precisely. Exactly. And if they ever asked him why he said oops, well-
Because. Of reasons.

And so as he turned back to his task, Myrtu thrust his horn into the massive pastel-pink metal orb, and gave it his most DAZZLING of LASER BEAMS.

Lights illuminated across the solid surface, as if they shone from within, as the orb began to transform and take shape. This process of course, caused Myrtu to leap about in glee- dancing as the mighty hooves of the changing metal came into sharp detail. Were it upon the surface, the magnitude of the emerging and completed monument could likely be seen for great distances away, for it took the distinctive shape of a massive Equine.

Powerful muscles rippled in pastel-pink metallic relief, as it reared up upon its hind legs. A mane of godly detail had been created to appear gloriously dancing in the wind, as it was celebrating and reveling in such a pose, what it meant to be free! In pastel pink the Equine's teeth were bared with their sharpened fangs, pointed canines that looked ready to defend and attack defiantly, no matter the enemy or the odds. From its forehead there sprang a massive single horn, for this was the symbol of freedom that pointed toward the means of unlocking ones potential. Brilliant light shone from its back, the divine wings of all that freedom stood for, that added yet another layer of light to the deep-ice cavern.

And thus, the Unicorn Colossus, a monument to all that Myrtu held in highest regard, came to rest its immensely heavy metal hooves upon the ground of the cavern.

"Heed my call- souls of Equines- souls of Kinnaras and Centaur," Myrtu declared both dramatically and unnecessarily as the monument began to glow. YES.
THIS.
THIS was the true purpose!

Those Equines of Myrtu's creation, the Kinnaras and Centaur as well, would have their souls called here. Deep within the heart of this Unicorn Colossus, whose inspiration was plain and clear, there would be housed the souls of Equines, as was the will of the Equine God. Here, had they not the means to live up their potential in life, their souls would be wiped clean of burdens. They would bear no memories of past lives to weigh them down- it would give their souls the best chance of being free in the next life- of becoming all they possibly could!

These mortals deserved the freedom of seeing their potential realized- to end them absolutely or leave them in the Ghostel would be a waste- a horror, even. Mortals deserved as much time as it took, as many recycles as necessary, to be and do and experience what it meant to be themselves- what it meant to have freedom and potential both!

Once wiped clean, those souls would return, as the next child created with the blood of an Equine.

PERFECT! Glorious! Magnificent!

Yet...

Even as Myrtu gazed upon his creation, he knew there was one more thing that must be done.
A reward! A REWARD MUST BE- he was getting ahead of himself-

"Does it move?"
The voice caused Myrtu to turn about anxiously- for they hadn't seen or heard anyone come up-
"What does it do?"
"I think it is... also unintelligent," noted the pale-pink shadow once more.

"Tis a means of utilizing and cleansing a soul- that they might see the task of living up to their potential through glorious return- through birth once more," Myrtu explained to the gathered Umbra. A chorus of 'Oooh' and 'ahhh' spilled fourth.
"Yet it doth lack- there needs to be- ah- I shall return!" Myrtu took to the air in an instant.

One Umbra looked to another then mumbled, as Myrtu flew off, "At least we won't starve this time..."

Once outside of the cavern, Myrtu landed atop the ice, then stared upward.
The skies above danced with those brilliant and unnamed lights of his own creation.

Ah, but it seemed so long ago, that he'd set them free in the skies- free to roam about the world as they wished- that all in the night might behold them, yet here they were.
How wonderful.
Here they were.

Yes. This. They would be the next piece of the cycle.
Those that realized their potential deserved a final and absolute rest- their potential and all their energy deserved to be used in a brilliant and glorious way! In the skies above, they could watch the world, as their souls dissolved- energy raining down slowly on the world below- giving back to the place which they called home. But only if they could break their cycle of reincarnation- free themselves from it. How peaceful would it be to simply stare down at the world from on high, as these lights roamed across it, taking in its beauty for one last time, as one slowly dissolved into nothing?

Quietly Myrtu contemplated this.

For a very long time.

edit: clarified point expenditure


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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tuujaimaa
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&







Myrtu couldn’t understand how anyone could focus with all of the new and interesting mortals to see! Sure, they’d ended up sprinting across some grassy plains for years, before said plains suddenly erupted into a forest and of course, that was only after they’d frolicked at the slow pace of the cactus-like mules, which had made the desert their residence. All of that happened after a rousing year-long dive through the seas with the striped fish-ponies, which happened after their years-long visit with the snow-born Onagers, and all of this was just as exciting as what was happening now.

They’d accidentally stumbled upon an interestingly adapted type of Kiang, at the base of a mountain glacier, which carved its way down into a valley, which was surrounded by the New New forest. These Kiang had developed woolen fur that favored a tawny background for its white stripes- hinting toward some merging with Zebras in their ancestry, which was remarkable considering how much time had passed. Their backs were far more powerful, with legs and kicks that stunned even the most vicious flying shark, if well landed, and they had grown a charming set of swept back curved horns. What Myrtu found the most interesting about the Ziang, especially as they followed them through the rocky mountains and up nearly sheer cliff edges, was their ability to find places of fresh water or vegetation with ease. Even when the mountains became white with snow- even when the mountains became topped with weird buildings- the Ziang- the…? Building?

Wait what?

When Myrtu halted, members of the Ziang herd circled around them, as they stared up toward something odd sitting on a nearby mountain top. Silently they inquired of the herd if anyone had managed to travel that far. Of course, the eruption of questions and gossip and tall tales- which these particular Equines were fond of- bombarded Myrtu all at once.

These mortals really loved to make up stories about their great-uncles-cousins-friends-mother that knew a lady that knew a guy that knew a bird once that went somewhere. Ziangs seemed to hate not having an answer but they’d always joke about their ignorance to the point of absurdity on purpose.

Equines truly were fantastic.

And so Myrtu asked, spoke with, and eventually convinced the braver and more willing members of the herd to follow them to that distant mountain- with the assurance that something interesting was (maybe) there. Ten of them followed the lead of Myrtu, who let the slowest member lead, for she was also the one with the keenest sense for finding safe paths.

How none of them managed to starve or die on the year long trek and climb that followed, was nothing short of a miracle in itself. Between avalanches and the fact that Myrtu saw the building at a distance far greater than the perception of mortals, the journey turned out to be a trial and test of the group’s determination. Myrtu was so pleased and proud of these mortals that, when they finally made it to the front steps of the Library, they hardly noticed the presence of another divine being, for all their dancing and rejoicing with the herd; that day the howling winds of the mountain carried their collective sounds of jubilation.

Though the mountains were known for the thinness of their air and the intensity of their chill, the air around the Grand Library was not so much cold as it was focused. The variously assembled equines would notice it immediately: the water freezing in their fur melted away into nothingness, carried by gentle zephyrs and leaving them dry. As the air filled their lungs it filled their minds with a clarity of purpose that, until they’d reached this library, they’d had in spades: but just as curiosity could never allow one to truly savour their discovery, so too would it deny them the chance to rest and enjoy the fruits of their labour and instead spur them ever onwards.

As they crested the edge of the mountain and became able to see more of the landscape than the ascent to a solitary peak would allow, the sheer volume of the place became apparent immediately. Bridges of effulgent marble stretched out from the perfectly curated peaks, seeming to end abruptly in nothingness except for the clear glint of heavily focused currents of wind that seemed to add a gentle shimmer into the air. Great towers of pristinely cut gemstones stretched up into the heavens, their multifaceted surfaces now displaying equines in all of their variegated forms galloping across an endless and infinite sky. As the light of the perpetual dawn flowed through them the images seemed to come to life, and a very real-seeming herd of them could be seen to gallop across the bridge and off of its edge fearlessly, soaring through the skies towards the tallest peak of all.

Even from this lowly vantage point, however, there was much to discover: many of these wondrous towers seemed to exist, far more than could possibly exist in the physical space they seemed to occupy, and curled around them in various shapes and forms were buildings of every possible type of construction. Some were made of rainbow-tinted coral, growing naturally into beautiful whorls and spirals that made up a building of unknowable purpose climbing up the crystalline tower. Some were made of pure starlight, somehow kept in bondage with secrets of artifice far beyond the contrivances of this inchoate world–the gentle streaks and glimmers of their light seemed to stretch on towards an infinite and endless horizon, leading the way to yet more fantastical bits of architecture.

Though no voice beckoned them on, nor did anything that seemed out of place call out to them, their natural sense of curiosity would be heightened to its absolute extremes in this strange place, and though it would not immediately distract them from their revelry it was a flame in the mind that could not be ignored for long.

Those gathered Equines began first, as most animals do, with sniffing and looking about- testing the realm with motions meant to provoke potential predators- eyes and ears alert for changes that would threaten their time spent in this place. As the others began their evaluation of their surroundings, Myrtu stood still and waited. To their eyes, this was a place far more special than had been previously imagined. When Myrtu had expected a simple settlement, they’d found something grander- something godly- which ignited within them a curiosity beyond that which the others felt, for Myrtu was ever adventurous by nature. Here was where, for the first time during the long trek across the mountains, Myrtu finally ignited their wings of dazzling colorful light. To those gathered, Myrtu bade them explore as they felt the need to or to follow them- to do as they wished for that was what it meant to be free. Some few looked to Myrtu with trust, for they would follow as far as they could, even if the divinity was flying- their eyes would be fixed upon the path which would take the form of Myrtu’s guiding light.

With this settled Myrtu took flight slowly, ascending high above the area in which the others were gathered. A path that they others might follow- a path using those winds and currents- ah yes! That would be the flight that Myrtu took. How would the mortals respond to feeling flight? These were Equines without wings- those meant to be free upon every hoof length of the land itself- so Myrtu did not doubt some would be fearful.

And they were proven correct.

For in their flight above, so high along the path upon which the others galloped, Myrtu did observe some of the Ziangs could not overcome such a trial of spirit and determination, as to step into those wind currents. There was no condemnation in Myrtu’s eyes for those that turned away. In fact, there was not much praise for those who chose to follow either. What there was praise for was the freedom expressed in refusal- the freedom expressed in choosing to follow- and how each individual stood by their choice, no matter what emotions swirled within. Even when some changed their minds while following, Myrtu noted them as interesting, and applauded their expression of shamelessness.

Such a flight across the various platforms, to a tower here, and to a path there, ended up scattering more of the mortal Equines throughout the various peaks and paths. When they finally arrived at the tallest peak of them all, there were only two remaining with Myrtu. Hooves once more upon the ground, Myrtu danced about with apparently contagious mirth, as so too did the final two join in the revelry.

It was there that the god and their two companions found the Great Vault, the sleek obsidian repository in which the Kathetikon kept itself and the knowledge it thought too great for mortals to bear at the present time. The glass-smooth walls raised from the very stone of the mountain itself, seamlessly transitioning from pale alabaster to midnight black that crawled upwards into the very sky. Its very shape defied definition, at-once far too large to exist at the very top of a structure (even one as large as a mountain) and yet easily contained within even mundane vision. Its euclidean and non-euclidean geometry served to provide easy points of understanding that branched out into the infinite sprawling of madness, for from a structure one could easily recognise as a wall sprouted unnatural curves and shapes that seemed to exist completely out of alignment with the rest of the peculiar building around them. As they danced and their revelry took them ‘neath its lintel the crude projection of form it had clung to while they were without fell away, scattering from view like so much smoke.

The view that awaited them when the layers of colour, dimension, sound, and feeling had been reassembled was grand beyond imagining. Infinite nebulae and galaxies came into view from every possible direction, and all sense of earthly belonging was lost between the sheer vastness of the stars–all that remained for guidance before them was the sleek obsidian of the Vault. Its pitch-dark curvature chased away the brilliant effulgence of the constellations, offering shelter from the overwhelming radiance. Further along the path still awaited the Master of this place, the sentient tome known as the Kathetikon, and its watchful gaze had finally fallen upon its divine compatriot and the mortal companions who had made it thus far. It did not speak directly, but its pages began to rustle and shift and the skies around them became familiar and safe once more, the standard night sky of Galbar they were used to. It gathered them close and wove them anew, writing clearly in the sky for them to read: ”Welcome, divine sibling! Welcome, mortals! You find yourselves in my Grand Library, where curiosity itself springs from. What do you most want to know?”

There was little that held back the response of the lowly Ziang, for they were mortals and mere animals of a simply mundane nature. They had experienced awe, beheld sights incredible, yet it was almost as if it were no different than gazing upon Myrtu for them. In their minds, there were thoughts written in the language of compulsion, instinct, and the freedom which Myrtu planted within the hearts of all their creations.

"Where," coalesced the thoughts between the two Ziang; however the depths of the word sank deep. The meaning was held within their souls as deep as the roots of an ancient oak, powerful and strong in its yearning to venture into where- to discover that which was not known. Within their hooves these roots of meaning and heaviness were defined and gathered, as these were the tools to know- to discover and decrypt "where"- each and every-where.

”Always, could have been the secondary meaning held within this thought of where- occupying the definition of the former harmoniously- for it was with their hooves and bodies that where became possible- became here- then became there. To go, to find, to search, to desire that "where" and to always know it. No mention of the word "find" could have formed because, where was all there was for these humble animals, and all that mattered.

Myrtu bowed their head before the two Ziang, a gentle show of gratitude and respect, before they turned their attention to the Kathetikon. As they gazed toward the other divine with ambiguous Equine eyes, the silence stretched for longer.

Gently, almost quietly, Myrtu projected their voice forward without using their mouth to speak, and asked a single question of the Kathetikon- for this was the single most important bit of knowledge they needed now, more than anything else in the world.

"Where art thine hooves?"

“You are my hooves, dear sibling.” the Kathetikon wrote in the stars, and the great vastness of space around them vanished into indistinct and unfamiliar hazes of light deep in the background of the soothing and comfortable darkness. ”When one asks the question: ‘What are hooves?’, they do not search for me. I was the search–you are the answer.” it wrote again, addressing Myrtu with a response worthy of their profoundly upward gaze. On the earth below the Kathetikon wrote its next messages, to the two Ziang: ”You seek not the destination but the journey, oh curious ones. You drink deep from my well, never sated–what you seek is not ‘where’, but the search for ‘where’.”

Hoofprints of radiant starlight impressed themselves upon the inky blackness of the floor beneath them, and began to trail off towards the distant and wondrous light fading into the background of the anomalously large space within the building they’d entered. The hoofprints danced and cavorted their way off into the endlessness of the heavens, beckoning their earthbound kin with unmistakable equine curiosity. To Myrtu such enticements would be as dull as stillness and silence, however, and so the Kathetikon opened the gates to the innermost secrets of the Grand Library before Myrtu, held tantalisingly behind a veil of gossamer radiance just past the floating tome. It turned towards the refulgent aperture with a movement suggesting wistfulness and wonder, and awaited its divine sibling’s reaction.

Myrtu’s satisfaction with the response had been plain to see; it was in the proud tossing of their mane and the head bob of gratitude. Yes, the Kathetikon's answer was the best of all the answers to the question so far. As the Ziang began to follow the hoofprints, the two halted briefly and turned their heads, to give Myrtu a long and quiet gaze. This moment of quiet filled their eyes with longing; making known their desire to travel again with Myrtu in the future. Of course, Myrtu gave them a proud head bobbing and promised to journey again. Eagerly then, did Myrtu encourage them- through gesture and motion- to continue on their new journey, wherever it was that those celestial hoofprints lead them. With such encouragement the two waited no longer, then eagerly strode onward.

And so too did the Unicorn God stride as well.

Closer to the gates though not yet beyond them- hesitation becoming clear as they swayed in place before the threshold. As their eyes beheld the beauty beyond the veil, the details of the entirety of the journey coming to the forefront of their mind, Myrtu turned, and bowed their head to the Kathetikon, stretching one leg out before themselves.

“Twice now, have I intruded accidentally upon those places both intimate and sacred to the hearts of other divines. For this intrusion, I do beg forgiveness.” Myrtu raised their head once more, “Twould be boorish of me, were I not to offer an introduction at this juncture.” Perhaps because they could not help themselves, Myrtu then strutted about in a small circle, as if in a small parade as they declared, “I am Myrtu and, indeed, is it true that mine hooves are the answer to such a question!”

Halting, they continued, “To these mortals- to all the world- have I brought hooves! That they may explore all the freedoms of the world- that they may dash and prance about far and fast; theirs is the right to do so! For this world be for mortals- for them to seek, to experience, to grow and learn all it is to be; to understand what it means to be. Theirs is potential- raw and true- and it is by freedom shall they discover the power inherent in the limitlessness of being.” Dancing then in place, Myrtu’s tone became jovial as they concluded, “Though, one must observe, that such pristine and tidy surroundings, be hardly a suitable place for hooves.”

”Just a little to the left…” the Kathetikon wrote in response to Myrtu’s many declarations, awaiting the moment the god would dance in just the right position. As they continued to move and engage in the revelry of being it was not long before they happened upon that most opportune of spaces, and their wild gesticulations caused the very essence of the Vault to shudder and write in unseen ecstasy. As Myrtu’s mane was caressed by cosmic winds, strands of sparkling, prismatic light sheared off of them, coalescing gently into an echo of their majestic form. As their hooves clipped and clopped against the inky abyss they stood upon, the gentle ministrations of dance nudged the formless form to spring up into a magnificent imitation of the equine god. As their voice shook the very foundations of being laid in the sacred space, songs and dance conspired to marry themselves together and animated the crude copy of a deity into something resembling a living sculpture. It whinnied loudy and soared off into the heavens, quickly dissolving into a brand new constellation of stars that the Kathetikon eagerly began to write down within itself.

”I am the Kathetikon, dear sibling, god of Curiosity and Knowledge. ‘Tis me that you and yours follow upon your endless search, and ‘tis another of our siblings you meet at journey’s end. But you are the beginning of this journey, no? The impetus to begin the indulging of curiosity, to explore the freedom of existence–this is your gift and your calling. You cannot intrude upon this space, for it was created to be found. What is the search without a destination, after all? I am full-pleased to welcome you to my humble abode, and offer you free reign of the place while you are here–there are many things to be discovered, though not all of them are suitable for such young and eager minds. Pray watch your mortal companions lest they drink too deeply of this place and become unable to separate that which exists before them from that which exists in their minds.” the Kathetikon replied, manoeuvring itself over to Myrtu. As it did so the featureless hands of Anagnostis appeared as if from nothing and grasped it firmly, looking expectantly towards Myrtu as if longing for some sort of response.

Yet for the moment, it could see how Myrtu’s attention was quite fixed upon the stars and the new constellation galloping across the heavens. And Myrtu’s joy had swelled at the appearance of the living sculpture, such a thing having added more energy to their dance. Such an vigor had even grown by a measure as a bit of restraint upon their appearance had eased slightly. Their hide became black and white simultaneously, shimmering in every color that was and could be as the light caught it, for their black and their white was the forceful display of every color combination, unhindered by law of light. So when Anagnostis appeared, Myrtu shook themselves wholly, causing a glittering mist to fall from their body, as their colors restabalized to something easier on the eyes. Plain curiosity was in the manner that Myrtu nosed toward Anagnostis.

For a quiet stretch, they gave it a long moment of overwhelmingly ambiguous staring.

A very subtle shift in their observation toward its feet made the unspoken echo of their question, but a second question sprang forth before Myrtu could catch it, “What are you? Different and unique- to grasp firmly the whole of a god without dire consequence…” Their attention abruptly snapped toward the direction in which the two Ziang had wandered, the Kathetikon’s previous statements finally having breached the walls of their obtuse thoughts. A divinely beautiful tail swished almost worriedly behind Myrtu and they- very much before Anagnostis could answer- started off toward the Ziang at an easy walk, concerned yet not all at once.

“I am Anagnostis, a shard of the Master’s will. I exist to read from the Tome of All Things, for what use is a book without a reader?” the featureless figure replied, quickly penning a few notes within the opened Kathetikon that caused the still-galloping Ziang to stop dead in their tracks. The otherwordly air of the interior faded away into nothingness, leaving only more reasonable mundane dimensions for them to explore. Now, however, there were several opening out towards the crisp and bright mountain air once more, and many more bridges of ornately carved stone and wind to take them wherever they might desire to go.

”This Vault is where I keep my knowledge of my siblings, and it is an honour to have added you to it.” the Kathetikon wrote, its words easily visible to Myrtu amongst the angles and colours of the obsidian walls. Anagnostis simultaneously extended a hand out towards the statue of stars, now held fast in a single point in space so as to not inundate lesser beings with the full glory of the divine. “Is there aught we can do for you while you are here, Myrtu the God-Star, or shall we simply leave you to search to your hearts’ content? This is the seat of all knowledge, after all–there will be something here to pique your interest, if interests are indeed something you possess.” Anagnostis asked, keeping pace with Myrtu as they travelled towards their lesser mortal companions.

In the distance, many more equines could be seen for varying lengths of time: some had disappeared into the patchwork buildings surrounding the towers, while some had found themselves enjoying the ability to soar on currents of air so much that they merely travelled between the bridges back-and-forth, whinnying and laughing in equal measure as they glutted themselves on this new and interesting sensation. Such things were not visible to mortal eyes, but to the gods they were clear as day–and to the Master of this place, more obvious even than that. Anagnostis occasionally turned the pages of the Kathetikon as it observed those beings without, occasionally making a quick note in the marginalia or letting out a quick “Hm…” as it perused some information within the God-Book’s pages that was useful or interesting in some way.

For a time Myrtu was silent. They took in all that was available: the Kathetikon’s words and those of Anagnostis; the manner in which the equines were exploring and enjoying themselves; all the angles and paths and rooms. This caused them to come to a halt, as those dashing and curious Ziang had mere moments prior. Yet. As their eyes swirled with their myriad of colors, a visual representation for the tempest that were the god’s obtuse thoughts, Myrtu placed this gaze upon Anagnostis.

“God-Star? Tis a grand title, new to mine ears- from where does such a thing originate-” Myrtu galloped into another thought without pause “-how far and perilous the trek was, from whence we hail- this herd of small number. Be this a realm such mortals are meant to behold?” Their gaze shifted to the Ziang, who resumed their exploration, with no less eagerness than before. “For if we, strong of will and body, were dearly tested by the peaks and driven snow, then… In truth, such journeys are the reason why I, indeed, grant hooves to mortals! Their odd meat feet could not withstand such paths for long- they’ve not the stamina, most of them. And companionship too, they might find in the Equines. Without hooves, they’ve not the means to find such astonishing places or create their own. Without strong backs to carry their burdens, the freedoms they’d experience would be limited to journeys incomplete and perilous.”

All while they spoke, Myrtu’s eyes were focused upon the joy of those equines flying. Clearly, Myrtu was finding it quite captivating. With amusement in their projected voice, Myrtu concluded, “And even still, for some, hooves be not quite enough.” They tossed their mane and illuminated their wings as punctuation to such a statement.

“Most mortals do not find their way here physically, the Master admits. They find their way here when their minds wander, when the vessels of their intellect overflow with thoughts. It is the current of those thoughts that brings them here. Those of hoof and wing,” Anagnostis began, sweeping its hand out in a grand gesture towards Myrtu and all the other equines, “seem to have an easier time than the mortals, of whom we have precious few. Only those Umbra that the Lady of Trade and Shadow has invested here have made it thus far… perhaps there is a truth to your utterings! We know you by the name of the God-Star as that is what the residents of Logiopolis called you.” the avatar of the Kathetikon continued, before its form began to ripple and convulse as though dipped in a var of colour and texture. As the ripples began to settle its form began to settle with it, and soon it had taken on the appearance of the Kinnaras it had taken before. It let itself shift across all those forms the villagers of Logiopolis had taken, before returning to the familiar and comfortable shape of the Kinnaras.

“They called you this, for they knew not what you were. It will be a great honour to show them, and to have them craft a statue for you that their endless dance might bring you a spark of the joy it has brought us. We have recently founded an… agglomeration of like-minded individuals, though after seeing you I believe it is quite evident they lack an equine element that would bring them no end of joy and prosperity!” Anagnostis continued, chuckling good-naturedly to itself as it penned words with ever-increasing frequency in the Kathetikon.

Myrtu had nodded at the mention of another divine, “Ah, I’ve met her. Trade and... shadows?” The note of confusion was in that final word, for Myrtu had not seen Ashevelen for quite some time, apparently. They brushed it aside with a soft huff as the origin of their title was explained. “Logiopolis…” Myrtu repeated with admiration as they beheld the many forms that Anagnostis took. They danced then in joy upon hearing about how a group of those peoples Myrtu had scattered survived! That there was an entire settlement of them- living and apparently thriving! Yet. The dance did halt at the mention of a statue being carved for them. Ducking their head slightly, Myrtu seemed tense at the prospect yet curious still. Silence passed for a beat.

“Mine is a name and presence unnecessary,” Myrtu said at last, “For they need not mine guidance nor my influence to see to it that this world might, in its boundless possibility, be shaped in accordance with their freedom of choice and will.” They raised their head, setting their gaze upon those adventurous mortal equines, which now pranced and glided about the realm in glee. “The ways of these creatures- those of instinct and survival- theirs is a way different fundamentally, I do believe. And it is they who may, in their small part, act as mine presence by proxy. Mine influence beheld. Inspiration, of a kind.”

Then it was through some unspoken instinct, that the two most determined and curious among the Ziang, found their way back toward Anagnostis and Myrtu. “Do you two,” Myrtu asked of the animals, “Seek the journey still?” Silence passed between them. With a gleeful braying, the two Ziang began to prance around Myrtu. As the Unicorn tossed their head back, they asked Anagnostis, “Do you know how to care for Equines? ‘Tis a gift that I’ve in mind, for you and your master, and it would be quite irresponsible of me to leave such creatures without one that has the means of seeing for their wellbeing. Though I’ve no doubt they’d find a means to care for themselves, still. It doth concern me. They’ll be of a disposition unlike that of mine other creations.”

”It is for these reasons that they seek a statue of you. It is not an altar for them to offer supplication, but an icon for them to offer their revelry and gratitude. To drink deeply from the waters of curiosity and be grateful for the choice to have slaked their thirst.” the Kathetikon wrote, its words evident in the colours of the wind only a divine eye like Myrtu’s could perceive.

“The little that we do not know is something we are in a position to discover quickly; fortunately, the concept of equines is already quite familiar to us.” ”I wonder what drove our kin to take this form. Perhaps they do not remember it as clearly as we do, or perhaps the means of one’s ascension is more personal… Don’t ask, Anagnostis, we’ll have to research this one more ourselves… the Kathetikon wrote to Anagnostis, who had very little difficulty in suppressing a smile as they possessed no feature with which to smile to begin with.

“The Master would be most eager to have some specially crafted beings to help manage the Grand Library. They do not like to create themselves, fearing it would… muddy the waters–so assistance in this regard is most helpful.” Anagnostis spoke, cocking its head slightly to the side to suggest it was smiling. The Kathetikon began to write frantically, but Anagnostis seemed to simply close it and never once diverted its gaze from Myrtu.

Quietly Myrtu pawed the ground with their hoof, causing sparkles to shimmer and bounce about. Once again they were listening, thinking, considering- suddenly standing over the wreckage of their train of thought-
Myrtu leapt into the air abruptly, their horn glowing profoundly, as their wings shone with a bursting and fullness. Beneath them, the circling Ziang only seemed encouraged by such a display, and their joyous braying picked up once more. “Tis naught but the unlocking of potential,” Myrtu explained for the benefit of Anagnostis, “Within them is already that which your master hath approved of- curiosity! And further, within them is means to act upon such curiosity, for aye- it was they that, by their hearts and instinct, hath guided all the equines before you to this place- mine contribution were company and mere suggestion to see here- to make close this distant point. Eagerly did they choose such a journey, leaving behind those others which were free to choose their path as well.” Simultaneously the Ziang lifted into the air as a glow, not unlike that of Myrtu’s dazzling wings, encased the mortals wholly.

“Theirs are the minds which seek and find,” and gently Myrtu touched their horn each of the Ziang’s heads in turn, which caused the light of their horn to permeate the Ziangs deeply and to their very souls. Their striped hides danced with color- the stripes themselves becoming rainbow hues as the tawny backdrop became chaotic. A shifting gradient from black to white, with every shade in between, that came to dominate the formerly tawny space. A semblance of order slowly became apparent; when their ears perked forward to listen to Myrtu, their shades and hues of their hides shifted attentively; when one became distracted by its own flying instead, the colors of its fur became light and warm with glee.

“Theirs are the hearts which yearn for journey- the bonds formed through such endeavors- and the challenge presented along the path. To know these deeply, intimately, to remember such that it may be shared for the good of the whole,” and Myrtu did shake about their mane then, spilling onto the Ziang a crystalized hail of godly essence, which took the form of tiny sigils- words different from those the Kathetikon had displayed, yet they did shift in translation into Polyglos, as they hit the bodies of the Ziang.

Words blossomed, spelled out in crystalline formations, from the strong backs of the creatures. These crystal words and sigils, which appeared to draw their way through the air at their backs, linking concepts and ideas to form sentences and names, became the base structure for wings- acting as the “bones and muscle”t. From these structures there sprang clusters of words, created from light, to act as feathers, whose details shifted and changed as the individual tales these creatures experienced became written as their very wings. From a glance these words told the story of their path- which trails were taken, where fresh water was located, prime lands for grazing, and how many were in the herd of equines on the journey. Even as they floated in the air, their wings became written with observations further still- how cold it felt and how hard the wind blew beneath their sensitive feathers- purely and plainly stated, for that was the nature of instinct.

Such anatomical changes, so new to the creatures, caused the shining words to dissipate inadvertently, but it was no matter. Where once were the detailed writings, there were feathers of semi-opaque darkness that, as the wings were stretched for the first time, sparkled to life with dazzling points of light innumerable, an unconscious action caused by the Ziang’s wills. Those shimmering points in the darkness of their wings would be, to the eyes trained to recognize the patterns, an accurate replication of the stars which blazed in the heavens above.

“And to carry the burdens of such a task- that they might assist others that yearn as they do- Ah! Theirs is a role which requires strength and power both- for speed matters little when the path is unending and freely charted!” Myrtu whipped their head about as their horn glowed brightly- this motion having caused the Ziang to double in size, as was willed by their auras of godly light. Their limbs thickened with sturdy muscle and their backs became powerful, as their hooves gained the mass and toughness to endure travels of distances undefined. A moment was taken by Myrtu then to gaze into the eyes of the transformed Ziang, but they were Ziang no longer!

With a single beat of their wings of light, Myrtu ascended slightly above the two, then glowed with chromatically colorful radiance, declaring, “Odysseus Equis, thou’rt blessed! If it be a journey sought and means to take it, grasp with thy freedom at that which I offer now!” And in a flash of light, the blessing became available for all those Equines present in the mountain herd. This moment of light, lasting but a beat of the Equine heart, was filled with the profound choice to accept or deny the transformation. While they were the ones who’d chosen the path to travel here- had the will to see the task through- Myrtu knew that this was something they should choose, too. If they’d lost heart upon finding only this destination, then it would be of little use for the journeys ahead- for what the Odysseus Equis should represent.

Not one among those Equines present refused.

Once the moment passed, Myrtu released their will from the two, which had served as the template for the transformation. The sudden release caused the two to fall into a panicked glide- instinctually catching the wind beneath their newborn wings. Mischievously Myrtu laughed, as their divine hooves once again contacted the ground near Anagnostis.

Anagnostis clapped its hands together in delight, leaving the Kathetikon to float midair, having watched the transformation of the equines into this new, dazzling form. It then quickly came to its senses and grabbed the Kathetikon out of the air hastily, beginning to scribble down all sorts of details about the working of this new species that Myrtu had created. Anagnostis occasionally looked up to observe them as it wrote at a speed far outpacing any non-divine entity, and by the time it had finished writing a series of books about the creatures and their properties, Myrtu had just about finished their most recent bout of revelry and rumpus.

“They’re just as magnificent as I imagined… and so useful too! They can carry the goods and keep the records while the Umbra trade–together they’ll be able to journey anywhere and record anything! If there is aught you would ask of us in recompense, please!” Anagnostis spoke, and the Kathetikon wrote its words next in the ground that Myrtu’s hooves had been kneading.

”All knowledge exists within my library. If there is something you wish to know, then it will be our pleasure to direct you towards where it may be found. Unless you had another request I might be able to fulfill?”

While the Kathetikon and Myrtu spoke, the aforementioned Umbra flocked outside in droves to gaze upon their newest friends and allies, and it was only moments before the two began to soar together on the crystal-clear winds at the peaks of the Grand Library, charting its infinite eddies and currents for the first time and beginning to create the first map of the Kathetikon’s realm, that all those new wanderers who found their way here would at least have to wander slightly less.

With an air of contentedness, Myrtu replied, "A gift freely given- for it is for the world and its mortals, is such diversity truly added. Thine contributions were an inspiration and influence for, I admit, I am desperately wanting for creativity at times, and never would I have thought to create beings such as these, were it not for the sight of thy realm most glorious." As their eyes scanned the new equines, those testing their wings and already developing forms of aerial play, Myrtu released a sigh of admiration. "Would that I could but experience life as they- that I may walk amongst mortals and see their world, their desires and dreams, with mine own eyes, without their shuddering ‘neath mine presence Divine."

Turning their gaze back toward Anagnostis, Myrtu murmured rather hesitantly, "And if… it is with necessity that a statue be made in mine image in this... Logiopolis. Then I wish it to stand no taller than the heads of Centaur." A softness entered their tone, "Let not I, a symbol of freedom and striving toward realizing one's potential, tower unreasonably over their heads, as in a stature which inspires impossibility in proportions. And let not mine image recreated dominate a space which they call their own, created by their own hands, unless… they themselves wish it to be so."

Myrtu bowed their head and conceded, "Nonexistent is mine desire to impose restrictions upon their expression yet, I'd rather they stand at the side of such a symbol and know that what they seek presents itself with realism- that it stands at their shoulders in encouraging camaraderie, both challenging them to make push forward and joining them ever in stride." Raising their head proudly, Myrtu concluded, "If such a symbol must be, then may it be created in this manner." Their tail whipped about with sudden energy.

“Much like yourself, the Master rarely interferes with mortals in ways that they could not themselves–it is simply within the Master’s power to expedite these processes. But…” Anagnostis began, before looking down at the gently buzzing Kathetikon and beginning to read eagerly. ”I remember the process that endowed me with divinity. I see no reason I could not engineer a way to sever you from the wellspring of your divine power and dull your noetic profile down to the levels of a mortal–or perhaps I could simply create an avatar that you can cast your mind into in order to diminish your abilities without dulling your senses. There are many ways to proceed, and my mind races thinking about them! Should you want this, feel free to return to my library in the future. Anagnostis, you must gather the Umbra and the Odysseia and set them upon their great mission.”

“The Master has much for me to do, honoured guest, but you are welcome to stay here for as long as you like. As long as any shred of curiosity remains within you, you shall not want for discovery or adventure within this place… but there is much more to do out in the wider world. I hope we will meet again, and that it shall be as joyous a meeting as this has been.” Anagnostis spoke, bowing deeply as it did so, before suddenly disappearing from view as it located itself elsewhere in the Grand Library. The Kathetikon remained behind, floating in the centre of its great Vault, but it offered no more words to the Horse God as it contemplated how best to manoeuvre its forces across Galbar.

And so the silence went undisturbed as Myrtu began to process what the Kathetikon had proposed. An avatar? The way it was described sounded as if it would be precisely what they had in mind- a perfect means to see what the mortals were experiencing from their level. But how would it look? What would they do first? Where would they go first? Overwhelming possibilities were now presenting themselves to Myrtu- thoughts that would be better left for a run- Oh! A Run! With such a fantastic idea coming to the forefront, Myrtu rather excitedly turned about, then bowed slightly to the Kathetikon as a means of farewell, for the great distances of the world were now begging to pass beneath Myrtu's hooves once more, and they were compelled to answer the call.




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Ravdur had been watching the Eosin for a while from afar and sees that they have organized themselves into clans. Dispersing into the Taiga region and forming settlements. One per clan, and Ravdur decides to visit one but changes his form to be a middle age Eosin. But, as he ventures close to the small settlement. He sees that the gates are wide open but outward, no sentries at the watchtower, and things are quiet. Too quiet, and as he nears the gates, he can see claw marks on the inner side of the gate from an animal he does not recognize but, but the marks are fresh. Getting up Ravdur enters the settlement.

The first thing he sees are bodies, a good amount of them. Some Eosin and some beast. As Eosin started to search for survivors, he noticed a body move, and as he turned to it, in its pained scream. "Look out!"

As the words rang out in the corner of his eye. He spots a recently turned Eosin, getting up and running straight to him. But Ravdur was faster, and by the time the beast jumped at him. Ravdur pulled out Frostbringer, and in one move. Swung and connected with the beast's chest and sent it flying back to the ground. Ravdur watched for a moment to see if it would get back up, and it just stayed where it lay, unmoving.

"Coward," the pained voice spoke again.

Ravdur turned to the pained voice and walked towards it. Next to a dead beast was a female Eosin on the ground and clearly in pain. Medium-length black hair and several tattoos on her body. Several claw marks on her body. Along with a bloodied axe next to her. "What happened here?" He asked emotionless.

"Beasts is what happened, and I failed." Ravdur could hear the sadness in her pained voice.

Ravdur raised an eyebrow, "you failed?"

"I tried to save my brother when the monsters broke through the north gate. I was ordered to leave him behind, but I could not do that. He is dead now and soon...." She started to spasm for a moment. 'I will become a monster like them and stranger if you have any mercy in you.... kill me."

Then her body started to spasm once more, and this time. She started to change and turned into a monster. As Ravdur backed off, the female Eosin, now a beast, charged and jumped at him. Only instead of swinging at her. Ravdur, when she was close, caught her with his right hand. Holding her in place above the ground as she tried to claw at his godly flesh. Failing to pierce his skin. "No," he said as his eyes started to glow brighter. "No, this is not the fate of a noble warrior like you."

After saying that, blue energy forms around Ravdur's hands and goes into her body. Again her body starts to spasm, and Ravdur drops her. Soon her beastly features started to recede until she is normal again. Ravdur creating her clothes and armor as hers were torn off by the beastly transformation.

On the ground and unsure of what just happened. She looked up at Ravdur with relieved confusion and was sitting up. "H.... how do you... I am me again and... I do not know how you thank you for this."

Ravdur looking down at her with a vague hint of warmth. "The Beast Curse is not an easy curse to break, but I have judged you worthy of evading that fate."

"Beast Curse and judged me?" Sounding confused and getting up from the ground. Staring Ravdur straight in the eyes. "Who are you, stranger?"

"Ravdur," and as so of saying his name. He changed his form from an Eosin to his normal form.

The Eosin was flabbergasted and quickly kneeled down and bowed. "By the gods, creator!"

"Stand up, there is no need for this."

The eosin quickly got up and was just awestruck.

"What is your name?" He asked emotionlessly.

"Vjera of clan Voronin."

"Well, Vjera of clan Voronin. I have judged you worthy and have freed from you the Beast Curse. A curse that turns those infected into beasts."

"It is a curse? I have heard tales of people turning into beasts, but I did not believe it."

"It is real I have a task for you, Vjera."

"What is it, my creator?"

"Call me Ravdur, and I want you to gather what strong and honorable warriors that are willing to fight monsters and beasts you can find and meet me at a temple made of blackish ice. He mentally gave the location of the temple to Vjera. "Once you have gathered your warriors, then we will discuss why I have had you gather them. And one thing before I go, why did you call that beast a coward?" Motioning to the dead beast that he killed.

"That was Bretik, one of the warriors who was supposed to help defend our home from the beasts but chose to flee instead of fighting. He still got infected nonetheless, and it is a good thing that he is now dead."

Ravdur made a reaffirming nod, "good to know, and until then, Vjera." He made a small smile, "good luck," And as soon as he finished speaking, he left Vjera and the ruined settlement behind and quickly vanished from Vjera's sight. With a newfound purpose, Vjera gathers what supplies she can get before heading out to fulfill their task, and she will try not to let Ravdur down.

Meanwhile, as he travels away, he makes more ice golems, about three hundred, and they disperse throughout the land. Thinking that he made too few the first time and hopes this helps some.



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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Chris488

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Desire


Departure from Keltra



You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire…

She stood upon the outer ring, atop its walkway where she awaited the arrival of her twin sister with restless agitation. Desire watched with a combination of amusement and annoyance while the other deity steadily approached, slowly surfing upon her shimmer-board as she exuded an enigmatic aura that slightly conflicted with her leisurely pace. Currently sprouted from the back of her sacred sister were nine scarlet wings that had begun to slowly recede, the ethereal remnants of those that were blessed by the Phoenix.

Desire repeatedly shifted on her feet, feeling irked after Harmony had interfered with her bit of harmless fun. She reminded herself that she was going to heal the creature after all, and that she was never going to completely consume it, as that would be certainly wasteful. She suppressed the shame she felt when she remembered the pained expressions of her sisters, and how they angrily rejected her offer to share her meal with them. However, she squirmed with delight when she recalled how delicious the burning flesh of the creature had been. Such carnal pleasure had been previously unfathomable to her, despite the past experiences of her sisters that she had glimpsed upon and greedily immersed herself in.

Harmony alighted close to her, and Desire could sense the ire behind the stoic mask of her sister as they stared at each other in relative silence. There was the perpetual presence of the archai perched along the protruding architecture of the wall, or peacefully hovering above, and many of them were watching the two deities with their glimmering eyes. The whirlwinds that continued to blow upwards from beneath the soaring city had become slow and suppressed around them as well.

“I cannot condone what was done. It was wrong.” Harmony began, as the wings upon her back returned from whence they came, before she tossed her shimmer-board onto the assorted heap of the other shimmer-boards that she had collected when the rest of the Sacred Septet had collided with the creature that was called Oge’Ivu.

“If it was wrong, then why did it feel so satisfying, hmm? You didn’t have to hit me that hard either, sister.” Desire countered, while she caressed her afflicted cheek in pretentious pain. Though they both could sense that her body was barely damaged, she still felt hurt that all of her sisters had suddenly seemingly spurned her, all for the sake of some strange creature that had crept into their home. The goddess with heterochromia merely shrugged as she sullenly awaited an answer from her twin sister.

“Our bodies were all built to cultivate that which was created, and we will always suffer whenever we devour each other. You have seen this in our memories.”

“Then I’ll suffer for my sins! It’s agony to abdicate such pleasure anyways, hehe.”

“You are aware that is not our purpose. We work towards bringing the world together and helping others… That was the choice we made.”

“You’ve got to start thinking outside the circle!” Desire said in a teasing tone, gesturing to the entirety of Keltra as she gracefully spun around. She let out soft laughter then, but neither of them felt a modicum of joy in that moment with the weight of their words pressing down upon the both of them. The twirling goddess finished with a sigh, before she surged forward and embraced her sister who sought to forever hide her emotions due to her inner disorder.

“I love you, you know. Regardless of what happens, that’ll always be true.” Desire murmured, holding tightly onto Harmony and almost afraid to let go. However, it was not the temporary tension between them that frightened her, as she would certainly confess that their further bickering would be something she looked forward to in the future. It was the feeling that she was going to somehow lose her sister, and that there was no way to save her…

“I will always love you too.” Harmony replied, and though neither of them could completely convey their concern, their anxiety, their aching thoughts, there was still some solace gained that gently alleviated their burdens through simply speaking to each other. Their telepathic connection allowed them to communicate that much, and more, as Desire shared her intentions with her sister - a yearning to leave Keltra and go see the rest of the world.

Harmony hid her sorrow behind her impassive visage, but it seemed nigh palpable to Desire due to their connection and close proximity. She wondered whether the source of sorrow from her sister was actually relief turned into remorse, however Harmony immediately sensed the resentment that trickled into her while she contemplated and swiftly responded. “You do not have to leave. Do not believe that you are being banished… as I could go instead if that will reassure you. Tell me, what is bothering you?”

Desire chuckled as she leaned back so that she could clearly gaze into the eyes of her sister. “It’s fine. You don’t have to worry about me. I’m the one that gets to go and have fun elsewhere while you’re stuck here… so really you should be jealous of me.”

The sorrow persisted and was joined by accumulating anxiety as Harmony presumably pondered the plan they had conceived during their hibernation: Desire would go to explore and investigate the world that their mother had created, hopefully finding those that would avail them in their efforts to overcome Anath Homura - while Harmony would be helping her sisters recover, and analyzing their mother for any vulnerabilities or openings in preparation for another confrontation during the time that Desire would be traveling. It was a foolish plan, but they were committed to it. Desire simply refrained from mentioning her other intentions…

The two deities glanced towards their six sisters who still spoke with the visitor through telepathy, merrily sharing their thoughts and memories with the massive creature, and so the two of them could sense and immerse themselves in those exchanged sentimental visions as well. Desire and Harmony had closed their minds, as per usual, preventing their sisters from accessing their thoughts through the mental connection that all of them shared. They stepped back from each other, and afterwards, Harmony engaged in intricate introspection, as Desire simply studied the shape of the world through viewing what Oge’Ivu had seen and experienced.

“It’s a beautiful world, and there’ll be so much more to see. This’ll be fun, so let’s relax.” Desire remarked upon what she had perceived, and assured her sister with an enthusiastic grin. She helped Harmony through her confusing cogitation by suddenly leaping from the wall, subtly compelling her sister to see where she was falling as she hid herself from every sense of the divine aside from direct line of sight. Harmony now watched as Desire ascended on Sunset Orange, and casually sailed on a nearly still stream of the shimmering stria with a smug expression - and the amalgam goddess was evidently not amused.

“Their expectations have dwindled, and such sparsity because of me, ha! Shouldn’t it be easy for you to appease our students, or perhaps not... I’ll be praying for good fortune!” Desire teased dramatically, as she clasped her hands together and playfully bowed before the other deity. There was no violent or verbal repercussion, as both of them were too tired to really enact such shenanigans, and one of them stood on the verge of tears.

“Then you are leaving now?” Harmony asked, and her ruby eyes glittered as they reflected the soft light of the stria. She spoke with two voices though; the first voice without inflection that posed the question, and the second voice that was suffused with discordant distraught echoes pleading for the solace of shared suffering. It was the terrible sound of a spirit shattered, and the shards grinding against each other - it also reminded Desire that she was forgoing the tradition of bidding farewell to the rest of her family as well.

She hated herself. Desire temporarily felt disdain upon seeing such weakness, and she briefly sought to flee swiftly, but she struggled against her urges long enough to provide an affirmative nod. She began to sail away, seeking to remedy the pain that both she and her sister were sharing, as she hoped that distance and the passage of time would treat the wound until she eventually returned. Neither of them felt fully recuperated after being brutalized and mutilated by their mother, but Desire could not heal herself if she remained in Keltra for any longer. It was time for her to run away, it seemed.

“Sayonara.”



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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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Back to the think-tank once more. High up in the centre of her power, her throne room, Ashevelen sat on the floor in a meditation pose and looked upon thousands of shadow-mirrors. Each mirror showed a different creature, plant, stone and everything in between that she had in the Bazaar, their price, if they were being purchased, by whom and lots of different other statistics.

Moving her hand, the mirrors moved to the side and new ones replaced them. Smaller in number but more precious overall. These were mortal creatures that were in storage, a place where they were kept in stasis until the divine had time to gauge their worth. Different creatures appeared and she scrolled through them absentmindedly until her eye caught a number of creatures that she almost forgot she had. Mireborn. Creatures made out of blood, requiring blood to survive and only able to multiply by infection.

With a hand inside the mirror, she took out a Mireborn and turned it on all sides. It seemed to have been a female elf prior to transformation. Lifting her up in the air, Ashe played a bit with the blood and started doing small experiments with it. Putting the blood of anything other than an elf, seemed to harm the Mireborn but transferring blood from an elf into her, she would relish it and “consume” it.

What to do with you…what to do? ” said Ashe out loud to no one in particular and that’s when an idea struck her.

Ashevelen opened up a portal to the outside world, high up on a mountain where an adventurer from the guild once teleported from and took the Mireborn with her. Sunlight shined bright and made the Mireborn cover her eyes with their arms to not be blinded by the sudden change of environment but before she could do something else, Ashevelen conjured her power. The light dimmed and shadows swirled all around the mountain top, the Mireborn stunned into watching the godly show of power.

As the mountain top was fully covered in shadows, they all went straight into the Mireborn. Changing their blood into liquid shadows in constant motion, moving on and on. Never stopping and never resting. Soon, the light returned on the mountain top, only for a small area around the “Mireborn” which now ate the light and stored it inside itself. Ready for it to be expelled from their body. Batteries is what Ashevelen called it initially before looking at the new creature she created.

That’s better. I name your species…Shadowborr–no, that’s just lazy naming. You’ll be named Umbr–that’s worse. Dawnborn. Ah, that’s better. ” said Ashe with a frown at first before smiling, satisfied with her naming of the species.

The Dawnborn would also be able to multiply in the same manner as before infecting others, only this was targeted towards Mireborns. If a Mireborn would have their blood transfused with a Dawnborn’s, they would transform into one.

With a new creature created, Ashevelen sent it back into the storage to change the other Mireborns she got from Wyn but her plans were not over. She has heard of creatures that plagued Shadowton and attacked travellers at times, making trade harder than it should be. Something had to be done, either in a mortal way or in a divine one and divines were faster.

Teleporting via the Shadow Bazaar above the Umbral Woods, Ashevelen knew something had to be done. Something…massive and imposing. Something that would scare off those that wish to harm Shadowton and its inhabitants which now ranged from Umbra to Humans.

And as before, Ashevelen summoned up her power and once more, a massive tornado was created. Growing in power, it started to attract dark clouds as it spinned and spinned. Many mortals were said to have watched in fear, the sky that day.

Inside the tornado, a being was being formed. Starting initially as a small dot of energy, it gained more and more power as the tornado grew in the sky. Eventually, the tornado would start to change colour from within as the creature grew. 6 long black legs would soon hit the ground as the tornado lost its power. Each making a loud “thud” and a crater as they touched the ground and then a howl that could be heard all over the Dark Woods and Umbral Woods, scaring all animals was let out. Stories told that deaf people could hear it.

I name you, Shadow Guardian. You have only one job. Protect the Umbral Wood from any that would do harm to it. Know your powers and your limits, my pet. Know what you must do. ” said Ashe as it imparted the knowledge of the creature’s abilities, limits and whom to protect/harm.

The Shadow Guardian let out another howl and disappeared from view. No mortals would be able to see it without some sort of divine ability or without it wanting to be seen. No mortals would be able to harm it easily, its powers ranging from massive strength to the control of mortal minds for short periods of time and while mortals couldn’t see it, if they’d wish to harm the Umbral Wood, they’d would know they are watched and they’d know death is close.

But the work was not done. Thinking it was time to spice up the Umbral Woods more than she just did. Ashevelen gathered power from her two aspects and made two energy balls, one in each hand. One golden, reflecting trade and one dark reflecting her shadows.

Playing with the balls in her hands, she juggled with them a few times before purposely dropping them into the Umbral Woods. The trade ball landed somewhere deep within the Umbral Woods, away from civilization and out of it…coin fairies appeared. As small as a tennis ball and with wings, these creatures had only one purpose…trade. They’d fly around and offer objects to travellers in exchange for others.

The other ball, on the other hand, landed very close to Shadowton and out of it the Beholders were created. These creatures were about 10 cm big and could fly around, each being able to lay up to 50 eggs per month, ensuring fast reproduction but with no ways to defend themselves they would only rely on their flying ability to survive and with the last of her power, Ashevelen blessed the Umbra of Shadowton how to tap into the sight of the Beholders.












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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by DX3214
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A queen’s subjects and a queen’s fury

part 2

In the Thousand kingdoms.


A king read reports that the Tai-lan kingdom to the south had suddenly disappeared, towns in ruins and refugees talking of a monster. Grabbing another letter written the same worrying report, kingdoms are falling left and right quite quickly towards a being described only as a force instead of a monster he sighed, cleaning his tired eyes, their color was brown, his hair was gray long past his prime age as brinkles was in his face he rose up from his chair saying “my daughter is safe?” A guard gave a nod saying “taken to the east to your brother sir” looking at a larger map of the region the path of destruction was carved through several other kingdoms and he was now on the way of what was causing this cataclysm looking over the horizon to the south it seemed rather calm the weather the sun was up and no clouds were in the sky but the city below had a extremely ready garrison together with the outside having horseman patrols trying to locate who or what was doing this.

Overlooking the defences, the king gave a nod, before walking away, sitting in the throne he remembered of his family, his daughter was safe at least that his wife would be happy about. Looking over the wall, before dropping his eyes down he soon noticed a scout running towards him. She soon kneeled. “Sir i bring news…” she panted with exhaustion and even fear “good tell me…” He said with more energy than before she then said “I was with companions during the road… south passing through what looked like an abandoned farm on it we saw somebody or something that wore a dark robe and heavy armor…” She coughed a bit before continuing “she or he turned to us and it seemed like the sun was disappearing as darkness engulfed us the others said for me to run and when i looked back i was the only one the dark mass thou stopped growing and the… thing whatever it was… is now heading in this direction” The king gave a nod his eyes looking over the horizon standing in the walls he seemed rather tired to the trained eye. Being a ruler for him wasn't a easy job albeit he was more accustomed to dealing with taxes and even if a different field warfare was equally tiresome with costs, resources, and wasted lives looking over the horizon he sighed checking the fortifications walking away checking the archers on guard duty looking over the wall while some people still left and entered the castle. His eye seemed to stick to a figure in armor walking to the city with a tattered cape for what he could see stopping he could feel a strange chill down his spine.

After a moment of silence a thunder seemed to hit close by everyone blinking from the sudden event. The king could soon see as he opened his eyes a huge black mass swallowing the sun as darkness fell in the city. Soon tentacles exploded from the ground around town swirling, hitting people killing them, some dropping dead suddenly. The king was evacuated by his guards he saw as a dark being the size of a castle broke through the wall swinging its arm as destroying an entire block as death could be felt around the region smashing the land the creature moved forward several dark tentacles emerging from the ground from a tar ponds that seemed to be underground the king soon saw the giant entity become smaller as the entire city seemed to be assaulted landing down the streets his bodyguards and himself draw swords. The being gave a bow before rushing forward killing a guard as blades began to be traded by the guards against it the being dodging with grace killing each one of them by crushing their heads or even body with extremely strong punches, and one just by touching with its hand as its skin seemed to grow pale and falling over as the last guard fell she turned to the king who after seeing the scene unfold readied for battle.
It stared at him with its red eyes before giving a nod. Jumping forward the king managed to stop the blow of its hand with his sword as both started giving blows, the king continuously retreating up stairs, the city burning as fires began to take hold of the ruins as the shadow tentacles began to slowly disappear, after destroying much of the city. As the fighting continued to proceeded up stairs he soon grabbed a bucket with the sword throwing at it punching to the side with a look at it quickly dodging as the king seemed to strike forward close by turning to him it them hit his back sending him flying down the stairs hitting the floor he groaned looking back to it walking down the stairs calmly looking at his neck was a two rings held by a string taking deep breaths the world seemed rather calm from the chaos around. But with bloodshot eyes opening he quickly turned around swinging quickly the being able to dodge the way out but his face or just eyes showed a level of surprise soon retreating as he seemed to swing quite quickly against it its dodging becoming seemed to be a bit more with effort as he marched forward with more energy the being seemed more interested.

With a side step it soon quickly grabbed his sword with its hand, looking at him it gave a nod before breaking the blade in half, raising an eyebrow at the king he quickly grabbed a rock throwing at it being held by its hand like nothing, before noticing the blade quickly approaching its eye. Albeit it was slow for it as it quickly it seemed to leave its way, punching the king on its belly making him fall on its back in the floor looking up he was exhausted as it approached its hand before stopping as it stared at him going back its form seemed to give way to something more tangible while still enveloped in darkness he could see a woman almost looking sickly with red eyes and armor she then said “...oh we are not so different.” Looking shocked he then said “I am no monster…” He said panting and she twisted her head lightly saying “Monster? Hmmm maybe I am the legend I build… but legends are nothing but twisted sights of what people wish to see… like you and I, we both would go far for those we love.” she soon turned into the dark being before walking away almost as quickly, seemingly able to fly in the direction she wanted the sunlight returned over the burning region he coughed rising up in the ruined city, one of the few remaining survivors.


Over the next two months more kingdoms disappeared with survivors, telling stories of a shadow creature, marching through it cutting through everything like butter. In total 300 kingdoms fell apart in under three months in what was nicknamed the dark spring. Oa’qeisskesi walked away from the lands she seemed less happy or just felt as her expression barely changed, sighing she thought. “Sparing a few after the death of thousands… what is the point…” she continued marching west.


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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lord Zee
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Lord Zee I lost the game

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The world was always dark to her. Even with her sight, even as all the blood in the world flowed enough to glimpse the grandeur of it all. It was dark, not because it was of night, pitch black and abyssal but more so it was because Wyn considered herself broken. What she saw was just an abstract definition. A gloomy shape, an outline. The details were always lost upon her. A part of her knew this no longer mattered but try as she might, the Goddess could never shake the fact she had once been able to define the most minute detail and witness beauty so small, none would ever believe it existed at all. Thus, as she ventured aimlessly in her Mire, she lost herself in thought so completely, she failed to see what lay before her.

It was the feet first motion of a sudden fall, where one loses their footing, except she kept falling and falling. She brushed against walls, her body breaking the rocks, coating herself in slick blood and rocky dust. She could have stopped, she could have righted her course but Wyn’s mood would not allow it. Even a God could be prone to the madness of inaction. To the folly of the soul.

So she fell.

It was long before she at least fell upon solid ground again, rolling until she stopped with such force against a rock, it cracked in the deafening silence of oblivion. She knew not where she was nor what she was doing anymore. She had created Ema out of guilt and sincerely hoped she would make the world a better place. Not like herself, who could not control herself with any earnesty. She tried to help, she tried to fix things but all she was powerless to herself. To the indignation of her mind.

Wyn sat up, resting her back against a cold rock. She wrapped her arms around herself and shivered, dipping her head as her eyes glanced around, hoping to find some small flicker of red. It came in the form of discarded puddles, streams of blood that flowed somewhere off into the deep dark of rock and freezing depths. Perhaps it was best to stay in that dark place. But try as she might to convince herself it would be easy to become lost forever in the depths of the world, she was a Goddess and her other moods knew this just as she. They knew her entirely and she would not be happy with herself when it came to the coins. She sighed, a tear falling from her eye, soaking in the ribbon around her eyes. Such was her fate.

In fact… With a quick crack of her neck, Wyn sat up with a more regal posture.

“Oh Maroon.” She whispered. “So weak, so pathetic.” She scoffed, standing up. “Where you see such depression, mired by your self-stricken nature. I see only opportunity. This world is mine. I was denied the last but this time, nothing will stop me. Not you. Not them. Nothing.” She ran her hand through her hair and pursed her lips. “I shall forgive me for giving away those slaves. A minor setback but one easily rectified.”
“This shall be my realm.” She said, giving it much thought. “And here all these machinations of mine shall be wrought.”

With a flick of her wrist, the earth rumbled as if its very foundations were being upheaved. Rock crumpled, cracked and shattered as the world rumbled and shook. Such was the anger, the terrible wrath of earth molested, that it vibrated throughout that vast underground world. All the while, like an anchor, Wyn was unmoving. Around her the rock gave way to the black depths of places not even she dared tread and all the while the ceiling caved in, raining minerals and stalactites like rain.

When at last the earth settled and the rock no longer quivered, there was a dreadful silence. It lasted for a few moments, before the sound akin to a raging river flared into being. Falling from the sky in four spots, came waterfalls of blood that drenched her kingdom, wetting it all in an ocean of red. It filled cracks, ravines and crevices. It soaked into anything else, it crept across all surfaces and when it at last reached its peaks, contained only by stone, it spilled off into the unknowable places of that earthen womb.

Set in the middle of the room, surrounded by the red mists of ever flowing currents, sat a citadel of stark ivory. She knew this not because she could see it but because she had envisioned it as such and only by her design was it seen fit for her. With high, spiraling towers, walls unbreachable by any mortal, and a gate that came sanguine at her touch, her palace mimicked the very same one she had once built to express her presence in the old world. The rich irony was that her palace had sat atop the peak of the world and now it sat underneath it all. What did it matter to one who could not see?

She strode through the empty streets, cobbled with white bricks and lined with bushes of white roses. Empty gardens sat behind small walls, devoid of any life or color save white. But as the haze settled and the mist set in, small droplets of crimson sat to every surface, giving the place a very macabre feeling. She was oblivious to this statement, as she passed empty doors and dark windows on her ascent to the throne. She passed lavious statues, detailing her strife in the old world. One stood out beyond all others- Wyn stood above a dragon, wearing nothing, foot pressed into the neck of the beast. She was the Drakhorey slayer, after all.

The throne room was adorned with more embellishments, statues of figures long since dead, and pillars with etchings and designs so foreign, only she knew what they meant. She came to a stop at the throne, looking above it, at the mural of three figures. Maroon weeping to the left, Ebony with a sword to the right, and Ivory, herself with a rose in the middle. There were no details beyond her silhouette in the blood of her choice, flowing and shimmering with divine grandeur.

Wyn caressed the smooth stone of the throne, pleasant shivers creeping down her spine. She sat at once, the gray stone becoming white.

Not one to waste anymore time, she willed before herself a large but shallow basin. It floated with a sound like crystals shimmering in the wind. Empty as it was, Wyn cut herself herself and her ivory ichor flowed in the bowl. When she was satisfied with the depth and the liquid has settled, she willed forth an image.

At first it was hazy, like always she could only see the vaguest outline of a red being, holding a loft an object that hummed with power. A bow.

Wielded by an elf.




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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Chris488
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The Beginning of Turn V

The Cosmos Strikes Back



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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Aethel


Who can make a Sunrise?

Takes place Turn 4

In a time long, long forgotten by all but a small handful of entities that endured, in the former Celestial Palace in which the current incarnation of the world rotated, the deities of a former cycle were born under the gaze of the Imprisoned Monarch who claimed to be ruler of all.

The Palace itself had seemingly been abandoned. The last of the Monarch's children to maintain a presence there before calling forth other deities to the world below once again, Anath Homura, had descended to the world with her own goals in mind. A domain that had been locked up and left vacant.

Of course, it would surprise all owners of the Celestial Palace in its history that there was a metaphorical broken window. There always had been.

In a long forgotten part of the overgrown and dead Palace gardens, a circle of mushrooms and flowers sat undisturbed by the death and neglect around them. They fact that they seemed untouched and perfectly alive and well while everything else around it seemed to have slowly died and rotted over time merely added to the feyness of it. This place was once the ground on which one of the first of the Monarch's children, Aethel, had come into being in ages long past.

And with a subtle gust of wind, stood there again.

The rest of the old fey ring circle network was no more; One of many sacrifices that needed to be taken in order to survive the fall of the old order but they had never cut this one off. Ever since the Monarch had insulted Aethel and some of his siblings during those early moments of their cycle they had known that at some point, there would be an uprising. Numbers of his kin would turn on their father in name alone and the Monarch, once the rebellion reached the point where he couldn't defeat it in the open, would withdraw and seal himself up in his palace behind all of his defenses. At which point Aethel had planned to gather up his rebelling kin and take them through their teleportation network of fey circles to reach the origin circle within the Palace itself, bypassing most of the Monarch's defenses.

Of course, history took a turn when the Monarch was overthrown without the need for major conflict and the circle never needed to be activated, so Aethel had simply left it be. Until now. Now, at long last, they had answered their sister's call and returned home.

For a time the equine deity trotted through the ruins of the past so that they might take a seat and observe the new world that had risen in the wake of the old one. It was an interesting development to be sure... through it seemed smaller in scale then it had been under the Monarch's reign. Also the singular moon in the sky appeared to be on fire, which was a completely new development to be sure. In silence they sat there, staring and thinking...

Then without warning of word turned and started violently ripping out chunks of the palace's walls and gardens.

At first this just appeared to be random chaotic destruction, but as more and more material was added to the pile it quickly became clear that Aethel was... making something. Compressing the dirt, dead plants, the stones and other godly materials of Celestial Palace from back in its prime into a massive sphere. There was even some of the original Mana that they had personally weaved into the palace back at the beginning. The discovery of some lingering traces of their former aspect caused them to pause for what seemed like a lifetime of nostalgic remembrance. That part of their being was gone, but the knowledge that some of it would still be infused with their new home brought a warm feeling to their torso.

In time, their work became so big that they needed to move it out of the space that the Palace occupied, continuing the construction in the space between the Palace and the planet below that was once used by the front gate to bend space and time and bridge the connection between the two before the portal system was developed. So it was that with care and abusing systems created long ago and long abandoned that were never intended to be used for such a purpose that the world would suddenly have a second moon in its orbit; A silvery orb that offered a bright, beautiful light that would contest the dark red glow of its counterpart.

Of course, Aethel couldn't pass up the chance to let the two compliment each other. They had taken the time to make sure that as the two moons orbited the planet below, one would wax while the other would wane. Red and silver light would shine on different parts of the world at a given time, contesting with each other at the point when they met in the middle in what could only be described as art carefully cultivated with light and celestial spheres. It would inspire stories, dreams, artists mythologies itself for generations to come!

Of course, this was only step one. As Aethel gazed upon the surface of their new domain, it was void of anywhere comfortable for them to rest and call home. Beautiful to gaze at from afar and the view itself was rather breathtaking as well (a pun considering the lack of air. That would need to be fixed in time as well) but rather devoid of anything to do once one was actually on the surface. With a small trot, Aethel started to search for the future site of their efforts.







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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Chris488

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Desire


Solitude Manifestation

(Turn IV Post)



Desire swiftly sailed along the iridescent stria, unseen upon Sunset Orange, alone and adrift as she lacked a specific destination though she could clearly see the shape of the large landscape that awaited her arrival. This new world which was occupied by other deities and denizens that she had yet to interact with, only having witnessed pieces of it through a limited perspective. Suddenly she shifted from sulking to stirring with exuberance in preparation for whatever she would encounter.

She held out her hands as she summoned her sacred powers and called forth a trio of artifacts into creation. Three spheres of a scarlet substance manifested in the upraised palms of her hands, appearances altering and undulating quickly until their shapes became more functional and familiar in design. The three artifacts further shone with blinding brilliance as two began to move along the limbs of the goddess, the first resting as it wrapped itself around her wrists hidden beneath her sleeves, while the second stretched itself and wove its elongated form around her throat and torso, and the third artifact remained in her grasp.

Their prismatic light dispersed, as Desire danced with delight, bringing her wrists together to transfer a copy of the artifact that clung to her so that she possessed a matching set of bracers. In her hands, she held a viridescent dagger emblazoned with swirling serpentine patterns along its short and squat blade. She smiled playfully as her fingers slowly caressed its sharpened edge, and the goddess accidently cut herself, however the little lacerations glimmered with a gentle green glow, and immediately her wounds began to heal afterwards.

Glittering threads emerged from beneath her sleeves and wove themselves around the hilt of the dagger, lifting the small weapon upwards when she let go. Scintillating silver and golden particles then surrounded the dagger, letting the goddess with heterochromia see it, but hiding it from the sight of all those who were not Desire herself. She was also aware that while the dagger was still conveniently suspended in that silvery and gold aura, it would remain beyond the physical reach of others as well, simply phasing through the material aspects of the world.

There was an audible set of chimes as she brought her limbs apart and began to twirl upon her shimmer-board. The euphonious sounds had awoken the three artifacts, and so Desire decided upon their names in that moment: the Silverite Strings, the Bracers of Belonging, and the Jade Knife. These creations which would certainly aid her during her adventure, she thought to herself. With her ritual complete, and after her playful performance had come to an end, the goddess let out a joyful sigh and continued sailing towards the land ahead.



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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Commodore
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Commodore Condor

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Choirs that sung, Choirs that were gone. What was lost was lost forever, perhaps once could’ve been reborn, perhaps never could’ve been.

With that chance and change came, a singer alone a choir does not make, but a solo in the light and the dark. Perhaps onwards the children join.





First was foremost, already he knew she was going away for a bit and that once he returned from playing amid her realm he was free to leave if he so wished. Divine power frowed from the small butterfly as she flapped her wings briefly- like a river through the air they snaked, two streams. One formed upon a rock her intent- the Helancurip, a golden full head helmet ingraved with a face neither human nor elf, a crest golden and a hair line that was like a beast's face. He would like that, and it should help him get along well. Other living things near the helmet besides the wearer would find the wearer seemingly more friendly or safe than might be assumed otherwise. Perhaps it was cheating to do so for her child but he would be going out to make friends on his own, Asar Sen had the advantage of being the first person of certainty among her group. She didn’t mind if it meant both her children could get along with the various creations around.

The other stream seemed to explode out into the air, but rather than make a thing- a creature came forth. Four legs like trees, a back like a meadow, a neck like a gigantic snake and face that was a gaping hole, spewing forth life energy as it first called out into existence. Sorosuryan, so named for their peculiar face, would be a good companion for Kusargna’itsug at least for a while. They were well able and knowledgeable about their purpose, smart too.

As she took flight comforted not at all by her precaution even if it was the best she could manage for her sometimes trouble seeking child, Sorosuryan settled down to wait. Ia’Akhul’s wings flapped again with a great force propelling her into the air, then to the clouds and through them, to the air above and beyond. She began to circle the world not far from it. The great bodies the world knew orbited it were not much of her concern at the time present. She needed something smaller and more manageable for the time being.

As she flew circling the world again and again in thought, passing far above Ia’Ouamae as if an invisible star in the sky- east to west and around again and again. First came bright and wonderful sights, crystals and metals, lovingly crafted stone in hall and room again and again not in straight lines but the beauty and perfection in imperfect natural ways. Less built more grown a sky object around the Goddess after so much thought. Finally though, as the bright and colorful interior came to its finality and the exterior formed dull, dark and hidden amidst the sky.

The entrances were neat and careful, hiding the interior just as it was so protected by walls of stone and regolith, so protected from sight of the mortal world below. This was Rembu’lik, and it was not completed as it was made. No, the greatest aspect would come only later- but preparations could be made now.

At the heart of the smallest moon now came that which made possible the greatness to come. Call it Aether Stone, call it Hala’wat, call it That-Which-Protects-And-Saves, or pay it no name at all. Whatever was to come, it shown briefly with brilliance within that hidden place that only the antennae of the Goddess there had made. Briefly did it shine and yet the power and majesty only expanded. Aether formed and flowed from it, it was like air to breathe and a shield to protect, it gave walking to the floating places, and cultivation beyond measure.

There was one last thing, living yet without direction even if it had purpose. Unsu’ia, that which would make homes and the greatest of companions. The shaping of that little world would come from this, not by claw or carving, but by its formations endlessness in most aspects imaginable. It was perfect for its purpose but not by any means- within the protected space of Rembu’lik there was no concern. However, beyond into the deepest reaches one would find no protection, the Unsu’ia would be left to collapse unless carefully managed and protected by other means, whether it be on the world below or in the depths beyond creations of any other.

It was a good first step for this stage. A small trickle of divine power shot down the world below, diffuse in so many respects. A gentle wave over the world giving health and good life to all those down there. Of course considering the scale it would be nigh imperceptible but at least it was something to help all the living things she knew were having difficult Ia’Akhul could see so far out now again.



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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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Once more, time passes and the world changes. A new moon appeared in the sky, divines have been seen going around doing whatever divines do and of course, business in the Shadow Bazaar was blooming with more and more mortal species appearing everyday to engage in trade.

But, Ashevelen was nowhere to be found. Not on Galbar at least, nor in her realm. No, Ashevelen somewhere else. Somewhere up, very much up. Somewhere very close to the sun, meditating in a yoga-like pose on an asteroid, floating ever close towards the sun but never burning.

One might ask what was on the divine's mind? Why was she meditating so far away from her place of power? Why was she not travelling the world, meeting mortals and doing what she knows best? Who knew what she was thinking at the time? She didn’t understand it either. Ashevelen just knew she had to be away from everyone and everything. She needed time to understand the change that was happening to her. For’ it was a change that shook her to the core, something strange even for a divine being.

She was becoming even more aware than before of how atoms move, how light was travelling from whatever originated it until where it reached. It was as if she needed to wear glasses and suddenly she got them, she was able to see clearly. What didn’t make sense was the why or how, not at first. Not until she felt something inside her break and then open.

The break was somewhere in her core. It was as if the trade and shadow aspect broke down and one more was born out of the two bits. Concentrating on the new aspect, Ashevelen understood what it was. Transmission. The actions or process of transmitting something, information, objects, living beings…everything was in a constant transmission and now, Ashevelen finally understood it.

Focusing her new power, Ashevelen blinked out of existence and appeared in the ocean, south of the Umbral Forest. Quickly scanning the area, there were no mortals that her divine senses could hear or see. Looking down into the water, she drank a bit of it and smiled. Something could be done here. Something interesting.

Ashevelen put her hand into the water and caught a small fish which tried, unsuccessfully, to escape her clutch. She quickly gave the fish a kiss and threw it back into the water. Soon the water started to glow brightly and the fish grew. A lot. Bigger than most buildings, it would swim through the water and swallow whole anyone that it would catch but it wouldn’t kill them. Right down its throat, there was a massive portal which would use the existing teleportation system created for the Shadow Bazaar to teleport those that would be caught somewhere on Galbar. Anywhere, somewhere random.

I name you…Moby Dick and you’ve got one job, little fish. Catch as many people or creatures as possible. ” said Ashe, as Moby Dick swam away deep within the ocean.







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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

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turn IV


Jeon watched from the shadows and from on high as a team of tenticular Rirakuri hauled ore out of one of the many many hidden caches he’d dotted about the labyrinth city. It had meant to be a hard won reward, but also one that he did not have to worry about being unguarded for a while because none knew how to work that metal yet.

Then, from out of nowhere, the Rirakuri. They did not know how to farm or weave, to build or to bake, but they knew how to forge metal into tools, it seemed. Given that their king had been chosen by violence, he knew what they were going to make most of with their new forges, and it wasn’t going to be plowshares, that was for sure.

“Well, that’s going to be a problem now isn't it” the god said to himself “so how about we contest those resources a little eh? Sorry folks, but the free samples are over, now you’re gonna have to work for it”

The god snapped his fingers and pointed at an inconspicuous part of the warped landscape that suddenly… started moving. Stone crumbled away as four massive legs of living metal strode out from the disintegrating structure, showering dust and masonry across the wide empty road that made up the center of this tunnel.

It paused there, for a moment, and then turned a central head around towards the stunned Rirakuri, and with a flash beam of light coming from three massive red eyes lit up the ore thieves, despite them being several stories up from the floor of the tunnel.

An alien sound like a distorted foghorn roared with displeasure, echoing through the labyrinth’s tunnels. This was followed by a wet mechanical sound as, unseen to the cowering Rirakuri, something, or rather several somethings, dropped to the floor from the base of the titan’s torso. They would not remain unaware of these for long however, as beneath the gaze of their metal mother scurrying things raced up the walls of the labyrinth on skittering legs, bright central eyes glowing and barbed tails poised above, ready to strike.

Upon spotting them a single Rirakuri writhed out from among its kin, a taskmaster of some kind if Jeon where to guess, given they had been the only one armed, and also the only one who had not been doing labor. Brandishing several crude copper spears, and confident they could take these things that where only a third of their side, they thrust at the closest skittering thing, only for the brittle blade to snap upon contact with its black biomechanical carapace.

The taskmaster cried out in horror and surprise, before being impaled in turn by a barbed metal stinger at the end of the swarming thing’s tail. A blow that was followed a heartbeat later by numerous other stinger strikes from its fellows.

As their leader fell, the Rirakuri workers turned and fled, harried by the swarming things till they were out of sight. With the ore thieves gone, the metal mother claimed its prize, tendrils at the base of it’s body reaching out and plucking the abandoned minerals which it pulled to the cavity beneath its body the swarmers had come from. Then it began spawning more soldiers, in anticipation of retaliation.

Come retaliation did, the settlement the ore thieves had responded to the news of this titan by sending out all of their warriors, many hardened fighters from the early cannibal wars, and others taught the new dark arts of abyssal sorcery.

They ran into more of the same swarming creatures first, spread out as sentries perhaps. Several of the Rirakuri ‘s number fell before the fighters realized that to kill these machines they had to strike the glowing red eyes at the front of the creatures, several times till a sort of crystal that was there shattered, causing the life to fade from them entirely. They seemed to freeze in place once dead, turning into stiff jagged statues of brittle metal in which, disturbingly, no soul could be found.

The army pushed on despite this lack of a meal, confidence growing now that they knew these things could be killed.

Folley and arrogance both.

They returned to the site where the ore silo had been found and discovered a line of towering brutish figures, nearly twice as large as the Rirakuri themselves, hauling armfuls of ore out onto the causeway in their crab claw-like arms. These minerals were then dumped into a pile upon which their metal mother feasted.

Outraged at this thing taking what was rightfully theirs, the Rirakuri attacked, swarming forwards to attack either with crafted weapons or with parts of their body that they hardened into jagged claws.

They ran into a hail of death.

While the Brutes were still moving to respond to the appearance of the attack force, smaller, more human sized monsters popped out from hiding spots dotted around the bizarre cityscapes’ improbable architecture. Each one had an arm that looked like a useless handless stub till light flared from the tip and a bolt of energy shot out. A veritable wave of these projectiles arched out from all around the Rirakuri, and where they struck they blasted off chunks of flesh.

As the melee troopes panicked, mages raised their tendrils and called out the abyss to protect them and to strike down their foes. Walls of summoned tentacles rose up to form cover for the mages themselves, before they brought forth unholy lumbering beasts and swift fliers to send against their attackers.

The troopers blasting them where swarmed by bizarre combinations of bats and squids, yet these creatures where too stupid to target the glowing red weakpoints on the machine’s chests, and so most where cut down using stinger like armblades before they could strike those spots by luck.

Beasts charged forwards, only for the ore carrying brutes to open up with their own arm cannons, red energy exploding and blasting chunks out of the monsters, or vaporizing small groups of Rirakuri.

Then, from above, dropped predators which seemed akin to a serpent whole’s head had been grafted to a body of pure muscle, yet with its tail still intact. Vicious claws tore at the spellcasters while the massive tail extending out the back of their head swatted aside those trying to protect them.

The Rirakuri had numbers on their side however, and so, perhaps, if they kept their nerve, they could still win the day.

Jeon did not stick around to find out, because even if the squatters did win, he could always make more of his new labyrinth sentinels. Something he was going to do regardless.

He didn’t just make more machines however. That would be dull to him. So he spiced things up a bit in between sentinel seedings. In the deepest parts of the labyrinth, where the rock turned hot and magma spilled through the streets, he injected a little something into the mantle of the earth that then rose up to meet him, or any who dug too deep and too greedily. A bull of molten fury who would destroy all who attempted to plunder the depths for its mineral riches: the magnataur.

That should make the task of simply digging up more ore a touch trickier for the Rirakuri if they gave up on the silos.

Then, for fun really, he added that most quintessential monster to the world at large: the humble slime. Born of damp and a bit of lingering divine might, slimes were simple spheres of goo that hopped or rolled around their homes, eating just about anything and everything. Any fluid would do, and any power too, which caused all sorts of strange and fantastical slimes to come into existence, from blood slimes, to magma slimes, to ice slimes born in different climates, to coin slimes, forest slimes, kung-fu slimes and abyssal slimes born of different essences.

A somewhat dangerous new addition, but one that could be a source of great power, for the slimes held the essences of their origins even after the soul had been cleaved from their bodies, and who knew what an inventive mortal might come up with if they could get their hands on that.

Having made life thoroughly more interesting for the Rirakuri down in their labyrinthian home, Jeon decided to call it a day. He snuck out of one of the castle entrances, just in time to see the first trees being felled in the name of industry by a gang of industrious Rirakuri.

Then a little bit later he got to see the those same Rirakuri being gored to death by several dozen redwood deer, the forest kin’s eyes glowing red instead of their usual green as nature defended itself from civilization.

“Huh. I forgot I made them do that. You relearn something new every day” the god noted from the branches of another tree, as the settlement who had gone to war against the sentinels got a second helping of death added to their day as the would be lumberjacks briefly fought and then fled from the deer herd.

Given the furosity shown down below however, Jeon did not expect this would be enough to keep Rirakuri kind as a whole away from the woods for long. Forges needed fuel, and there was little to none to be found in the labyrinth. He hadn’t exactly put coal down there after all.

So. Best do something to prepare for that little problem




“So… you’re telling me you want me to, what, form an ‘army’ of elves to protect the forest?” Fernfriend replied to Jeon’s request incredulously “I don't even know what an ‘army’ is! Also protect it from what? Are we not doing a good enough job at that already?”

A deep grunt resounded from her Huwu’idang companion (the treesized life preserving deer) which was, probably, an agreement that she was doing well. Certainly the [druidic adventurer] had not been idle since she’d received her duty to the woods, which had mainly involved spreading the wisdom of Druidry and plant shaping to other tribes, so that the lure of tree cutting in the name of construction could be cut off at the pass. The same thing that the Rirakuri had just learned had certainly prevented much in the way of that so far, but offering up an alternative prevented resentment and jealousy from erupting, and also put a lid on any planning to try and get around the forest-kin inflicted lumbering embargo, was certainly helping.

Add to that a bit of smacking the odd pyromancer over the head with a stick to knock some sense into them, and Fernfriends days were both busy and productive.

“All true, but while you’ve been productively shimmying around the woods, I’ve been getting out and about just a bit, and let me tell you, it’s a busy and dangerous world out there” the god replied, leaving out the specifics. Like how apparently someone or something had laid waste to swaths of human kingdoms to the north. Or that they were warring among themselves. Or just, the Rirakuri’s whole deal.

The god wasn’t one to hold hands, but he was one to give tools so that the hand’s he wasn’t holding could do something about their own problems.

“Let me put it this way, there are people who live outside the darkwoods, and some of them will want to cut down the trees, and unlike you all, they don’t need to live here, and can mitigate the consequences. Consequences that will affect you, because, well, one, you do live here, and two, all of the forest-kin running out of the woods to fight woodcutters isn't going to be good for the ecosystem, trust me”

“Huh? If this is about shadowton then I already talked with them. They’ve got their own forest after all, and there was this whole talk of, urgh, ‘limited supply being good for profit margins’ or something when I told them we could still get them some of our unique trees and plants sustainably” Fernfriend retorted

“And that is one direction out of four. Like I said, world’s been changing, and new neighbors are moving in”

“Huh? Who?” she asked, which caused Jeon to give a disguised Rirakuri fumbling its way through excuses as to why it knew nothing of wood elf culture a heartbeat’s worth of side eye before looking back to Fernfriend, shrugging, and saying “you’ll just have to find that out for yourselves”

“Very helpful”

“I know I am, which is why i’m not just going to tell you to do a thing, but I’ll give you a little leg up too, by titling you as a [Warden]” he offered

“Is that a good one or?”

“Not quite a [monarch], but it's up there” he insisted, but she did not seem convinced “Tell you what, I’ll give you the class, and then all you need to do is look into the whole neighbors situation and you can decided whether it’ll be a good idea to pursue my idea or not”

There was a long, long pause while the two stared each other down, till at least the [Druidic adventurer] agreed “Fine”

“Excellent, then by the power vested in me as the creator of these woods, I now anoint you it’s [Warden]” he declared, before pulling out a fresh circlet he’d made for her, which was made out of ferns with kite shield shaped fronds and telling her that “also your name is Ferngaurd now”

“I.. fi-” she agreed with a sigh as she took the circlet and then paused, listening to level up notifications and skill acquisitions while replacing her old one with it.

Once they were done she asked “So what is a [guardian] then, because I can apparently anoint those now”

“You’ll just have to find out” the god replied in a sing-song voice, already backing away while giving her finger guns, before calling back “I wish you good luck with this whole thing! Toodles!” and then darting away.

“Uuurgh” the elf groaned, before calling out “Hey Stagstep, you can stop hiding from Jeon now. Now come over here, there’s something I need to try out”

And thus, after a bit more conjolng, the first new member of the Darkwoods Guardians joined its ranks. It would need to gain plenty more as the world only grew more dense with terrors.






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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Kalmar
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Kalmar The Mediocre

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Life and death carried on. More souls flowed into the forge. More fuel for the machine of Hell.

The streets of the Infernal City were bustling with activity. Demons drilled and patrolled in the streets. Hellhounds stalked the alleyways. The Devils were beginning to form their own societies and hierarchies around certain individuals. It was the beginnings of a Kingdom.

One that he would need to defend.

He turned his attention to the larger island surrounding his own. It would not do to simply have all his defences in one location. Layers of defence were needed. The large surrounding island, which he decided to call Infernus, had already been populated with some basic wildlife when he arrived, but it was not enough.

So, he altered it. Infernal essence from the Hellforge rippled forth, blanketing the land and seeping into it. Corrupting it, altering it, giving it new life. Tree bark became black while leaves and grass became sinister shades of red and purple. Animals were twisted into demonic versions of themselves, larger and more dangerous, their eyes glowing with baleful malevolence. They would be hostile to all outsiders save Aldion, his servants, and those he had granted passage.

That was just the start. It would be easier to develop this land in future now that it was properly attuned to Aldion and his servants.

For now, he shifted his focus elsewhere. The sea and the sky were the areas from which his city was most likely to be attacked. He pondered this problem for a moment, and then a new idea came to him. Aldion looked back to the Hellforge. A new creation was needed.



The doors to the Hellforge opened, and out came spectral wailing skeletons that looked as though they were constantly blazing with Hellfire. They flew through the air and phased through walls.

Aldion commanded one to halt, and it did. Then, he called forth a demon. He motioned for the demon to attack the creature, and it did. The creature’s wail intensified as the demon’s Infernium blade cleaved through it, and it dissipated into a puff of smoke.

Then, Aldion took the blade from the demon’s hands, and called forth another spectre. Aldion motioned for the demon to attack this one as well, and it did - lashing out with naught but claws, which passed straight through the spectre.

Suddenly, the spectre solidified, as if it had suddenly become ‘real.’ It seized the demon by the throat, and began shaking it violently. The demon began to howl in pain and rage as it was set ablaze with hellfire.

Aldion struck the spectre down. ”It functions as intended,” Aldion remarked, as the singed demon fell to its knees. ”Hellwraiths!” Aldion shouted. ”Submerge yourself in the sea. It shall bring you relief. Remain there, and only emerge to do battle against intruders. Keep the sea and skies free of intruders, and your agony will subside for as long as you do so.”

The Hellwraiths complied, shrieking into the night as they dove for the water.



There was one final thing he needed: personal protection.

And so he crafted a weapon. An ornate black warhammer, edged with gold, decorated with skulls, and tipped with a slight spike. Into it, he poured thousands upon thousands of shrieking souls, imbuing it with power. The Hammer of Ruin, he decided to call it. If he was fortunate, he would never need use it.

He did not consider himself a fortunate deity.



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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by blackshade10
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Beneath the shadow of Heavenfall, the Aranea's work had grown by leaps and bounds. Unified minds created astonishing wonders of organized architecture and infrastructure. It was not long before the arachnids had begun to proceed into the underground caverns and caves beneath the valley, extracting resources and using them to build their growing nation. Roads made of ivory colored stone, a mixture of granite and spidersilk weaved into a building material, spiderwebbed out from the center of their civilization- the temple-system that surrounded the impact of the spear of Heavenfall and the ravine that surrounded it. From there they worshipped their Queen, and from there they developed their roots. Their temples consisted of libraries and archives, written records of precise and complex events that might take too long to pull from the Hivemind. Instead, librarians and archivists staffed these structures, able to read from a record so the entire Hivemind may become refreshed on the topic at once.

Art became an activity of curious creativity, an exercise in how each individual node that those in the Hivemind represented expressed themselves in interesting and novel ways. A show of each unique being within and how the collective and the individual were not identical.

The problem solving of the group was nonetheless tested. The constant downfall of water meant that it had to be directed, moved in a way that prevented the flooding of their society or the filling of the caverns and caves beneath them. A constant downfall of water, however, gave rise to simple feats of engineering. Canals were constructed along the sides and middles of the roads to flow water out of the valley and toward the desert and into the river south of Heavenfall. Primitive pumps were devised using basins that filled with water and used the weight to move the machines in a repeated pattern, pumping the water into these canals.

Spires began to rise above the tree line, structured to catch water and direct it for the ends of the Aranea, both as a matter of practical necessity, but as well as to include the flow of water through fountains and waterfalls as an aesthetic desire.

Soon enough, however, the violence of the outside world began to reach them. Sights of killed wildlife at the edges of Heavenfall, left uneaten- an act of cultural taboo among the highly omnivorous Aranea to leave foo uneaten on the ground and not into the public stockpile- showed that they would need to prepare themselves to fight. Who knew what uncivilized beings lurked outside their valley, savages that may harm them.

They prayed to their Queen, knowing they needed her protection and guidance, and she granted this desire without a moment's hesitation.

Across the Hivemind, magic permeated the network, flowing into those who partook this holy union. From it, they could work and weave magic as one, as a collective, and as an individual. They became imbued with power of the Sovereign of Pride and the Queen of Calamity, and knew they could defend themselves.



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From Which Stories Shall Arise
The Kathetikon & Kaelhmor
A Tuujaimaa and yoshua171 collab.



The Grand Library’s lower bounds had long been taken care of, but by now it was time for the Kathetikon to work upon the firmament far above, for what could invoke curiosity more than the endless sky above one’s head? There had been a peculiar astrological shift in the world that caused light to gather and refract far more readily in the middle of the continent than anywhere else, creating something of a lens in the sky. The Kathetikon had already had to devote a new wing of the library to the musings of mortals who’d gazed upon it in wonder and awe, and especially to the stories they’d already began to fabricate about it–some had seen it as the work of a divine, others a map to long-lost treasures written in the heavens, and a select few had taken heed of its brilliance but endlessly questioned not the how but the why. Those mortals already knew the Kathetikon’s gift, for it burned within them eternally–and some of them had been sufficiently motivated to find the answer that they’d resolved to scale the mountains of Galbar to get a closer look at the peculiar phenomenon. These mortals had, by chance, found their way to the Grand Library–and the Kathetikon had been all-too-eager to provide them with the scraps of knowledge they needed to begin the arduous process of knowing.

As the Kathetikon had considered the needs of these mortals it had made some adjustments to the sky within the Grand Library, removing the pollution of the sun’s garish light and replacing it with a more soothing vista of the night sky. The Kathetikon had filled it with stars and other celestial bodies far more strange and wonderful, in every colour and shape and size imaginable, and though the level of light still changed to offer a distinction between night and day there was always an entirely new mystery to solve in the heavens above for the pilgrims who made it to this holy place. One of the mortals had conceived of a most curious idea: what if the crystalline towers could capture the light from the distant heavens and store it within shards of their gemstones? They had embarked on a journey some time ago to find the library that contained the relevant information they’d need to begin work on such a project and had not been heard from since, so the Kathetikon had assumed that its search was taking longer than usual and had put the thought quite out of its mind–and instead focused on the problem at its source! There must have been a divine whose portfolio of powers had to do with light–or perhaps space, or stars? It was difficult to say without actually examining the thing more closely, but even with its troves of knowledge, the Kathetikon would have been hard-pressed to find a definitive answer that satisfied it. For now it simply waited, content within its vault, biding its infinite time.



A disruption in the heavens, a place that did not match the surrounding sky. This Kaelhmor glimpsed from many leagues away as a strange night sky swirled far above the peaks of an approaching mountain range. After his meeting with the Mistress of Trade and Shadows, Kaelh had decided it would be prudent to act swiftly in meeting some quantity of his newfound kin: the Gods of this new world.

So it was that draped in luminescence, the Lord of Lies and Light, the Seer of Light Unseen, crossed the hidden threshold between native day and the unnatural sky-bound span of midnight. After a time, he found himself growing impatient with the trek and so, using the boon of the Goddess he’d been granted, he slipped unto the shadows and vanished from the plains. So it was that in between moments, he navigated the Bazaar of Shadows only to slip out just as soon, his existence once more inhabiting the plane of men and mer. Thus did he emerge at the foot of a stairway leading into a vast Library of truly grand proportions. Yet, despite its external size, he felt that somehow it was larger still than it appeared.

A mixture of excitement and trepidation within his chest, Kaelhmor mounted the first stair and made his way upwards and into the building’s maw. Within moments he found his eyes widening in awe as the true vastness of the Grand Library–for truly what else could it rightly be called–revealed itself to him. Row upon row of book-laden shelves spread in each and every direction, such that even the walls beside the entrance stretched almost infinitely into the distance. Turning, Kaelhmor took in the majesty of the place and found himself wondering what sort of god might create this place?

A deity of stories, of knowledge, or the written works of man?

He was certain that he’d soon find out, and in that moment, he suddenly felt truly naked without his cloak. He resolved to make another.

The chilly, crystalline air around the peaks of the Grand Library seemed to be the only thing that reacted to the Lord of Light’s presence, as their unusual charge gathered and dispersed his magnificent light far and wide across the many peaks that could be seen in the distance, even from within what were ostensibly the walls of this place. Brilliant effulgence continued to build and build, ever-more light cascading across the starstruck skyline, and soon all semblance of Midnight’s palette had fled the Grand Library before the uncontained majesty of dawn’s splendour. The distant stars were rendered invisible by the diffuse yet unimaginably potent curtain of lights hung from the firmament, and as their dim radiance was replaced with a lustre of overwhelming intensity the towers in the distance seemed to catch notice of these happenings, and eager to not be left out they began to drink deeply of the luminescence offered to them. Patterns spiralled and veered wildly about the towers as their images strained beneath the intensity, and as yet-more light began to spill from their filigreed crests it, too, took a life of its own: the paltry candlelight of the library’s many interiors caught a brief spark of pure gold and focused their light upon the path to the Vault at the tallest peak. Much like a hall of thousands of mirrors can intensify the light of a single candle to something radiant beyond words, the infinite vistas of the Grand Library directed Kaelhmor’s light to a searing point, burning away the lesser guises and glamours that so-entranced mortals, and crafting from his own essence a path towards the ink-black mass of obsidian that crowned the Vault at the mountain’s peak.

Yet, as powerful as the gathered light was, it seemed not to even breach the veil of soothing shadow that made up the Vault’s interior–Kaelhmor’s blessed eyes would be able to easily see the various apertures and entrances through which his gift could flow, but no amount of exhortation on its end seemed to avail it the ability to enter. Familiar and yet oddly different shadows began to creep across the non-euclidean geometry of the carved walls, faint flecks of pure illumination still visible within them as they crept along surfaces too alien for mortal minds to even begin to comprehend–and in the subtlest expression there was a clear inking of unmolested shadow that wrote words of greeting for the newest God to grace the Grand Library with their presence:

”Be welcome, my kith and kin. All that your mind thirsts for is contained within: you have only to find it. To find me.”

With a brow raised at the intriguing spectacle unfolding before him, Kaelh almost missed the scrawl of words unveiling themselves within the embrace of shadow. Almost reaching out, he nonetheless restrained himself and let his hand fall once more to his side. Gaze narrowing faintly for a moment before relaxing, the Lord of Lies and Light peered deeper into the ineffable geometries of the Library, noting that his power had been gathered and absorbed by the artifice of the place.

‘Fascinating,’ he thought as he ventured further into the depths of the Great Archive laid out before him. By the make of this place and the unspoken utterings of the shadows, Kaelh’s curiosity had begun its journey towards satiation. For, clearly, the creator and denizen of this place was unquestionably divine.

“It is good to know I’m welcomed, nameless host,” he said, his words ringing clearly through the space, as if traveling through every ray of light, and suffusing every shadow all the same. Though the stranger could not know, it seemed that the power of Deception allowed such things.

Following the path of his power towards the ebony zenith of this newfound god’s domain, Kaelh considered what he might do when he came across a being far more hostile to his sort. Shaking his head, he dismissed the notion, at least for now.

“I am Kaelhmor, God of Illumination, to whom do I owe the pleasure of gracing such a place?”

This time ‘twas not the subtleties of shadow that responded but a brilliance of the heavens to rival even the lord of light’s radiant splendour–the heavens themselves unseamed at the edges and from once dim and disparate stars came a flood of such diluvian proportions that no shadow could be left, for there was nothing that was not light. The distant lights of cosmos beyond counting, of entire worlds and universes, captured with skilful artifice or with the power of magic–all this and more rained down from above, and though it soon began to dim in the face of the Lord of Illumination’s presence it revealed first the black stake of shadow that was the Vault. From it tendrils of shadow began to stretch across the field of all-consuming light, bridging the gap between where Kaelhmor was and the tip of the greatest peak. It grew as the light began to fade from view, further and further, until a clear path crafted just for him remained as all things returned to their natural order.

”I am the Kathetikon, the god of Curiosity and Knowledge. I am the Tome of All Things, the font from which curiosity’s waters flow into the world and the source to which it all returns. You are welcome here, Kaelhmor–but what is it that you seek?” wrote itself into the bridge of shadow, little flecks of it falling away beneath the weight of the Lord of Light’s radiance to reveal the message as he ascended up towards the apex of the curious realm he’d found himself in.

For ascend he did, intrigued by the display, though perhaps not entirely impressed. Perhaps he was even flattered to a degree, but he barely showed it, after all he’d come from a world of many gods. A world saturated in the works of such beings, those he had once called kin, the very same who had hunted him, cursed him, hated him….

Such things left a bitterness in the soul, they warped everything they touched, and yet despite it all…Kaelhmor–veiled though his true nature was–had remained. He had persisted and while his followers had not been many, they had been the most loyal and the hardest to detect. True adherents of faith, not just mortals who blindly followed him, but those who could so thoroughly deceive themselves, the world, and others that they could follow no one else.

Shaking his head, Kaelh split his mind from such matters, there was no use dwelling on what had been…what he’d lost, what he could never again affect. No…it was better to look forward, so he did just that, his brilliant gold-green eyes peering unhindered through the glare unto the pitch-black peak.

It was quite a sight, he had to admit, but he wondered more for the nature of the deity whose realm upon which he’d stumbled.

“Good tidings, Ye who seeks Lore and from whom Lore is born. I am glad to be welcomed in your realm, though I admit, I have come upon it purely by chance and circumstance.”

Kaelh smiled, the expression easy and empty of guile as he continued to ascend the path towards the peak. “I am glad to meet another of mine newfound kin and I must admit that what drew me was the sight of this place from afar. It truly is a marvel.”

Kaelh glanced up at the churning, changing skies, then down upon the archives. “A treasure trove of wisdom and information I am sure. At least, for those who are deemed worthy of entrance to such a place.”

Continuing on, Kaelh found himself considering the next steps of his plan, as it were. As entrenched by the realm of knowledge as he was, a thought came to mind: ‘Was one veil truly enough?’ Thinking back he recalled that it had not been before. So it was that he came upon an old friend, something he’d glimpsed before, but at the time had not yet begun to grasp.

The Domain of Secrets.

“Lorekeeper, Kathetikon, what say you to the Secrets and Mysteries of this world?”

”All who find their way here are seeking something–that is the nature of this place. Gods and Mortals alike are entangled within curiosity’s skein. Entry to this place is not a resource, nor is it favour to be curried; this is simply the natural destination of those who seek… so I ask again: Kaelhmor, Lord of Light, what is it that you seek?” the Kathetikon asked once more, its words now vibrating through the air like ripples of meaning washing over the Kathetikon’s divine sibling. There was silence for a brief moment as the tome considered the visage of the god ascending the path laid out before them. Even to its perception there was something about the glare of light leaking from its lord that rendered the Kathetikon’s piercing insight dull and flat, something that seemed not to obscure but to deflect the weight of attention to its surroundings. By the time the book had come to terms with the strange sensation, Kaelhmor would most certainly have ascended to the Vault itself, so intrigued by the experience was it.

”What is a secret, really? A secret is knowledge kept apart from the broader sphere; a mystery is the thread of obscurity that bridges the gap between the secret and the known. It is my prerogative to know and to be known, and so I have always felt more of an affinity for mystery than for secrets. There is still much that even a god of Knowledge does not know, and so I seek out those mysteries and inspire others to do the same.” the Kathetikon spoke again, but this time its words were slow and pensive. It considered the weight of each of them as it projected their meaning outward, and found the curious sensation of the glare limned the fruits of its mind with green-gold clarity unlike that which it had known before… but something deep within the memories of the Shade of Gnosis stirred beneath its radiance, and the edges of the Kathetikon’s pages rippled and fluttered with unseen fascination.

The Vault’s interior awaited the Lord of Light, and as he crossed its threshold it would once again erupt with blinding brilliance. Vistas of worlds long since forgotten by most were barely contained by the entrance’s enchanted lintel, the light of suns extinguished in eons past recreated faithfully within the Vault’s walls–many, many worlds could be seen within the liminal space, each a pinprick of distant light against an all-encompassing void of blackness. The Kathetikon seemed to be considering these distant worlds, turning to and fro with languid motions as incomprehensible script wrote and unwrote itself in the air around them.

Though no words reached him, Kaelhmor nonetheless felt meaning wash over his mind in subtle waves, artful in their composition, deliberate with their timing. For a time, much like the Kathetikon, he deigned not to reply, instead treading the path and crossing the threshold unto the Vault.

’Aptly named,’ he thought as the stories of numerous worlds flowed from one to another before his divine gaze. The only thing they all had in common was that they ended–each and every one. Narrowing his eyes for a moment, the incandescent deity considered this ‘quirk’ of the Vault’s presentation, the recordings of infinite worlds. That the focus would be on ending, and not all that came before. After all, the ending of a story, a journey, a life, and so a world, was the smallest part. Surely it was not the most important.

Relaxing as he detected bias, Kaelhmor smiled, his expression soft, somehow comforting, as if to belie the words that would travel ‘cross his silver tongue. “Secrets are essential, you must know this, oh God of Knowledge. They tease at the tired mind, building anticipation, serving as kindling for curiosity and exploration. Secrets are the obscured, the hidden, the unlikely, and the precious. Some are terrible, some are good, some frivolous, others paramount in their importance. All things hold secrets to their breast, in their hearts, perhaps even taking them to their graves. An otherwise faithful and loving wife who hides her infidelity from her husband. Protecting him, protecting their lives, their love, their children. A war is waged and codes are sent to and fro, in cipher, such that the enemy might not learn the other’s secrets. Even one revealed could turn the tide.”

Kaelh walked into the shifting void of the Vault, walking amidst the stars, the nebulae and planets. Dying worlds. Endless cycles. Birth, death…and was that sorrow?

“Of course, it is not only mortals that keep secrets, but gods and worlds, and lands. Ruins hidden away by shifting sands that have swallowed them; a God of Life who hides their one failing, their jealousy that is sure to beget murder amongst their kin; ah, and worlds.” Kaelhmor’s smile grew.

“They are born, the blossom, expand, deepen. Lives light within them, like candles, fleeting, yet somehow meaningful all the same. Yet…those beings they ask, ‘what is the point of it all? The purpose, the goal, the endgame?’” Kaelhmor cast his gaze further adrift as, unbeknownst to him, power began to gather, pooling around him, and spilling from his skin.

“The world, however, does not answer, it remains silent, as if uncaring. Perhaps it too wonders,” his gaze becomes sharp for an instant as he glances to the side, as if knowing precisely where to look to give the Kathetikon a sidelong glare. “...or perhaps that is not the point at all. After all, the way things end is the least of their existence. The smallest moment, no more important than their beginning, if even less so. At least beginnings inform the rest.”

He shrugged slightly and trailed his fingers through the bright outlines of stars and photons that had been caught in the rotating wake of a black hole.

“That is the world’s secret. The answer to a single question, a simple one, but one no less profound for its simplicity: ‘Why’.”

At this, Kaelhmor’s expression became wistful, his light growing duller and less effulgent as it swirled and pooled and dispersed throughout the Vault. With those words said, the Lord of Light simply stopped and lifted his chin, gazing into the unknown infinity of the Vault, looking past it and beyond. It was as if he could see something that the Kathetikon could not, it was like he was not even seeing with his eyes at all, but with something else.

The question was, what was it he had glimpsed?

”I will grant you that the concept of secrecy is required, my sibling, but remember that secrecy is merely an extension of exclusion. It is the privilege of knowledge; it is mystery that feeds the flame of curiosity–curiosity may abide secrets, but never mystery.” the Kathetikon replied, its words revealed through the shifting of stars. The celestial spheres around them all rotated upon some unseen axis, some extension of the Kathetikon’s will, and more still gone but recorded worlds streaked across the infinite sky.

”You are wrong. These worlds have not ended–they have died, yes, but they have not ended. It was believed by my people that things only ended when they were remembered for the last time, when those who had beheld them had also passed into eternity’s soft embrace… but we at Gnosis were the keepers of all memory, so they never ended for us. When Gnosis died, I kept them within me so their search could continue. I have not forgotten any of the worlds I saw, and so they have not ended.” the Kathetikon replied, its tone now wistful and whisper-quiet. The worlds fell away into the nothingness of the inky void one by one, their lights individually dimming, and when only the Lord of Light’s radiance remained the Vault abandoned its celestial aspect and its true physical appearance was revealed.

Angles impossible for the mortal eye to perceive jutted out from slates of crystalline obsidian to form a roughly cubic room (though in truth its shape was impossible to ever define in a meaningful way), and at its centre where the two gods now stood was an enormous dais of solidified starlight. Rising from it were several statues, one wrapped in shadow amidst flowing coins and another the majestic freedom of a rainbow in equine form frozen midair, and above them all an enormous mural of the Crimson Goddess–the Creatrix herself. A third statue wove itself from the starlight trapped within the dais, eagerly drinking in the refulgent essence of the Lord of Light. His silhouette was rendered first, and little details filled in with flecks of green and gold. Next, on his back, something similar to a cloak began to manifest. Little threads of light, so bright against the consuming darkness all around them, weaving themselves into a mantle that covered the shadow with a glittering corona of dizzying, refractive light.

”I sensed the absence of powerful energy about you as soon as you entered; the residual scraps of magic about your person suggest to me that you had a cloak until recently–perhaps as a commemoration of our meeting, you would like another? Perhaps if I imbue it with the power of mystery, and you with secrets, we could explore the depths of their possibilities together! I do not like to leave questions unanswered, as you can imagine…”

As the Kathetikon replied in its unique way, Kaelh’s expression became thoughtful as he considered the depth of such a statement and the thought that had likely gone into it. It was a worthy philosophy he had to admit, one that appealed to his true nature–not that he’d ever reveal such to another, not now…likely never again.

Nonetheless, he found himself nodding along as the deity finished their explanation. Then, as the mention of absence and the revelation of the Vault impressed themselves upon his awareness he found himself smiling.

“How kind of you to offer,” he began, “I must say I was feeling rather bare without my once-favored cloak.” Chuckling lightly, Kaelh decided that he liked this god even more than he had Ashevelen–though perhaps the Kathetikon was less of a tradesman than the goddess. Not that such a thing could be helped.

With another chuckle, Kaelh shook his head slightly and stepped through the empty air of the Vault, considering how his new cloak might manifest.

He didn’t wait long to find out, his arms lifting into the air before him as his fingers splayed out and began to weave the light that spilled from his effervescent form. As his fingers deftly moved, the light shifted from hue to hue until finally its prismatic sheen gave way to something else entirely. At first it seemed like an oil slick bound into the form of cloth, and then it changed again, becoming silvery in hue. Retaining its sheen, the cloak continued to become stranger until even its color was impossible to properly distinguish.

As he worked, the Lord of Light and Lies–with sleight of hand and a dextrous use of power–wove more than just Illumination into the cloak. Hidden within every strand of light, veiled from the world, was his quintessence: The Aspect of Deception. Yet this time, unlike the Shadewalker’s Skein, he would not weave the cloak from shadow. No he’d use Secrets, Light, and Obfuscation instead.

When the initial work was done, rendering a translucent shock of cloth that flowed and shimmered faintly within the Vault’s oh so empty air, Kaelh turned his attention once more to the Kathetikon.

“A foundation of Secrets and Light have I laid, dear Kathetikon, such that you might build upon their base.”

With those words and a flourish, the cloak hovered through the air, presenting itself before the god of Curiosity and Knowledge. Kaelh had to admit, he found himself intrigued by what boon the Kathetikon might grant.

The Kathetikon observed the foundations being laid with great interest, making certain to record the fluctuations of energy within its pages. The work was sublime in all senses of the word, the scope and scale of energies being worked wondrous to behold in their own unique way–it was a very personal thing to each god, as the manifestations of their power were ultimately a reflection of their truest essence. It was thus especially curious to the Kathetikon that it could not detect the most minor eddies of Kaelhmor’s spellcraft, the blinding glare of the light so richly intense that even a god’s perception struggled to perceive it fully–it made the Kathetikon wonder about the nature of its sibling’s power, where precisely they must have come from for it to be so unfamiliar. Perhaps it was simply due to the nature of their Aspect, of course, but the Tome of All Things had read Ashevelen’s and Mytru’s magic easily enough. This fact alone made the Kathetikon even more intensely curious about its sibling and his capabilities, and it was that newfound vigour that spurred it on towards adding its own mark to this cloak.

The Vault’s queer construction was partly to generate an aura of mystery, to leave those who beheld it wondering, but it was also designed in such a way that it naturally facilitated the efficient movement of divine energy and its residual essence. The Kathetikon drew upon the nascent power of Mystery that bloomed naturally within the Grand Library’s hallowed halls with a single arcane rune, and from that singular point of power the little tributaries of essence within the Library’s individual archives began to trickle in towards the knot at the centre of the realm, spurred on by the geometries of the obsidian structure at the highest peak. The cloak did not initially change very much at all, the lustre of its efflugent threads dimming slightly, but as the light dimmed something equally radiant but far less bright began to fill the space it left behind. Fragments of arcane geometry began to weave themselves between the woven strands of the cloak, limning their radiance with enigmatic essence, and in a sudden burst of spellcraft the overwhelming light that comprised the fabric was bound and trapped within a reflective barrier of magic.

Its light seemed to no longer spill forth from it with reckless abandon, now confined by a lattice of mirror-like aether that refracted and twisted it into something subtle and richly arcane. Its manifold colours could be seen to diverge from their singular state of harmony and unravel into individual threads, each of which created little runes of their own that danced across the cloak’s sheer surface like words across a page.

”A veil of mystery to draw the eye but dim the mind; an infusion of curiosity to quicken the mind and still the senses. Your cloak is now a locus of the unknown–those around it may be compelled to seek it over all else, or to pay it no mind whatsoever. So long as you keep your secrets close to your heart, mystery shall always follow. You are unlike our other siblings, Kaelhmor, for I recognise something of the power of creation that you wield… I believe I have seen its like before, in one of the worlds I have visited. Perhaps it is simply a trick of the light, but… I could look into it for you, if you like? It would give us reason to reconvene later, and I would be honoured to receive you as a guest within my halls again!”

It was a fascinating thing to watch as the sigil manifested within the air itself, the otherworldly geometries of the Vault twisting and drawing upon what must have been the full extent of the Kathetikon’s power. Then, eyes widening fractionally, it was almost as if the cloak was being reforged as the rune’s power reknit every strand of light, every filament becoming saturated with the power of two divines.

Deception writhed, twisted, and evaded the grasping threads of Curiosity’s light even as they dipped subtly within Secrecy and Mystery’s influences. The Kathetikon might only notice that some aspect of the cloak’s inherent power was further altering itself as the god poured his essence into the cloak. Swiftly the cloak’s hue shifted, shimmered, from translucent, to a brilliance beyond blinding, beyond sight, beyond any mortal sense. Then, in an instant, as the Kathetikon’s power settled and all the intermingled Aspects settled into perfect union, the cloak appeared to vanish.

Momentarily stunned, and certainly surprised, Kaelhmor’s eyebrows raised as he stared at the open air where the cloak once had been. Frowning, he took several steps forwards and then waved a hand through the air where the cloak should have remained.

No sensation or resistance existed as his hand passed through the space, but as he watched, he saw–momentarily–his digits utterly disappear and in that same moment he lost all sense of them as if they’d been severed from his being.

Beyond impressed, and briefly alarmed, he found himself reflexively stepping back from their invisible creation.

“I…must admit that I was not expecting it to be quite as effective as that.”

Still, it didn’t take him long at all to regain his composure, at which point he shone the light of Illumination upon the cloak and managed to gather it upon his arm. Once there, it no longer elicited in him the sense of his limb’s absence, but rather it emanated a subtle energy whose exact nature he could not put his finger on. How intriguing….

Glancing away from the artifact, Kaelh smiled once more at the Kathetikon, his gaze filled with gratitude and perhaps the slightest hint of admiration. Then the other deity spoke, asking about matters that Kaelh would rather leave untouched.

Nonetheless, he could not let another know that he had things to hide, and as such he let his smile slide into slyness. Wagging his finger slightly, Kaelhmor chuckled, “Ah, but are not Mysteries a sacred thing dear friend?”

Waving his hand as if to dismiss the notion, Kaelhmor beamed, his smile lighting up the Vault. “I would be glad to reconvene within your realm, it is a beautiful place and one well suited to the considerations of one’s purpose upon this world.”

Walking several steps to the side as if pacing in thought he nodded slightly, his expression growing contemplative, if not entirely serious. Tapping his chin thoughtfully as he spoke, his tone one to match the motion, Kaelhmor continued.

“As to the rest, why not, I am always glad to learn more about myself. It would be my pleasure to share such an Illuminating experience with another.” Kaelh’s smile was gentle as he said it, fond even and he found that it was almost entirely honest.

Surprising.

Still, he did not trust the Kathetikon any more than he trusted any other god. He would have to keep a close eye on this one.

“Until then however, I do think I must depart. You’ve forged with me a truly magnificent gift and for that I know not how I shall repay you. In time, perhaps inspiration will strike me. On such a day, I shall return.”

That said, the Lord of light turned and headed leisurely–a lightness to his step–towards the threshold of the Vault.

”It may be that the same is true of some of our other siblings: I have not yet happened to meet the majority of them! Forgive me my impropriety, Lord of Light, for I am also one such divine with connections to worlds beyond this one–I merely sensed about you a sense of kinship. As a being of Curiosity and Mystery I cannot say that I will not be directed towards such information in the future, but I shall not actively seek it out without your approval. Until we meet again, dear sibling!” came the reply, echoing through the Vault’s halls for a long moment. The path out of the Kathetikon’s realm made itself known to Kaelhmor the moment that he turned away, cutting through the incredible vastness of the Library in a swath of brilliantly illuminating light. It seemed to catch against the fabric of his new cloak and flow through it, and his form wavered unsteadily in the air before vanishing completely as if he’d been nothing but a trick of the light in the first place.

”Anagnostis! Prepare the Odysseia for a voyage to Shadowton.” the Kathetikon wrote in the sky, and the rustling of feathered wings and the clopping of hooves could be heard all about the realm as the tentatively-named Emporoskiá began preparations for an excursion of their own. As the Brokers of Shadow saddled up their mounts and affixed the many goods they’d purchased in the Shadow Bazaar safely upon the equines’ mighty backs, they found to their surprise something that they had not recalled packing: a chart of woven starlight that showed the entirety of Galbar, and inked upon it several locations of interest that the Umbra who’d picked it up was intensely curious about. They handed it to another and the locations began to change, and then again and again as it made its way into the hands of all of the Umbra–it appeared to point them towards that which they were most curious about and where it could be found in the world. They praised the Kathetikon and its gift with a song on their lips, and as they flew out of the bounds of the Grand Library they followed not only the light of the stars and the guidance of the winds but their innermost curiosities and desires.

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