Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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It was a nice day outside of Shadowton. Nice meaning busy. Very busy. Time passed and with it, a new town was built. The large number of mortals living in Shadowton, which now included elves, Umbra, Dawnborn, humans, Satyrs, Kinera and Centaurs, made Shadowton feel too small and crowded. So, sometime ago, groups of Umbra started to migrate to the south. Closer to the coast and coastal trade.

A new town was born. Tradeville. A coastal town with access to the sea and the increasingly rich Shadowton. Protected by the Shadow Guardian, the Umbral forest bloomed and trade did too. But this is not where Ashevelen was, no, Ashevelen was in the forest. Walking, barefeet, through the woods. Listening to the sounds of the forest. The birds, the bees, the occasional Shadow-Shark and something was wrong. The coin fairies. Something was missing.

Plucking her lips together, Ashevelen let out a whistle. A very loud one, for fairies, not for all the other creatures of the forest. A frequency that only they could hear. “ Come out, come out wherever you are, creations of mine.

At first. Silence. Then. approaching. A heavy stomp stomp stomp of something vast that should have not have herald the call and yet came anyway, its great strides outpacing the hesitant expeditions of the small who would need to make the journey by wing.

With antlers that would have scraped the canopies if it had not been cautious, and hooves that would have sundred the earth had it not stepped as gently as it could, a Huwu’idang approached the goddess at the requests of its symbiotic companions. Tide to its back by living vines, lightly clinking together from the pace of the great deer of growth, was a large town’s worth of pottery based homes, and peaking out of these where those she had summoned: coin fairies, in their hundreds, all of them cheerfully crying and waving hello to their goddess and creator.

Ashevelen felt the presence of a massive creature approaching her and heard the heartbeats of hundreds of coin fairies. As such, she summoned a chair and sat on it, waiting for her creations to come. What she saw made her curious. Very curious.

A massive deer, surely a creation of her siblings and a town. A fairy town on top of it. Albeit a very small sized town. Fairy sized, one might say. A town which, with their current level of development, shouldn’t be possible. Someone else played with her creations.

Changing her size to match the fairies, Ashevelen flew into their town and with a friendly voice said “ Greetings, creations of mine. I propose a trade. Tell me which of my divine siblings evolved you and I shall bless you with some divine power. ”.

That got a whole lot of excited chattering, and also a course of overlapping responses none of which were clear till a leader of some sort fluttered in, got control of the ruckus, and invited the goddess to join her in a plaza of sorts built atop the Huwu’idang’s back, one that looked a little bit like a large dinner plate.

Once they where situated the [head druid of trade] (dressed, as befitting her class, in a set of flowing robes made from beautiful purple petals and amber jewellery) introduced herself as Plum Pudding and then spoke for her community.

“We’ll for sure take that deal, your goddesslyness, Ashevelen!” she agreed, which got a course of agreements from the assembled fairies. “It was mr Monpau who gave us these gifts, and introduced us to Big Man here” she explained, pointing down as she named their drudic patron and transport, before clarifying “oh. And mr Monpau is an ‘avatar’ of his goddyness Jeon Du Termas, which means he can do goddy stuff in his gods name. Like help us and, um, well probably other stuff but he seems to like us a lot considering all he’s done to help. We’re all mr Monpau’s debt, but he’s said he doesn't want kinda repayment which’s real nice of him”

The Lady of the Swift Trade and Shadows followed the leader of the fairies but not before scanning with her sight the architecture of the town. Plates, cups and what nots. It looks like a miniature kitchen. She patiently listened to the explanation of the [head druid of trade] and frowned.

Unbelievable. Jeon strikes again and he’s got an avatar now. I can’t believe it. And who gave him permission to touch my creations? Bah! ” mumbled Ashe, her shadowy robes fluttering wildly while releasing a threatening aura around her but as swiftly as it came, the aura stopped and Ashevelen laughed out loud.

A trade is a trade. Now, now. What should I bless you with? Seeing that Jeon gave you the ability to get divine blessings, might as well give you a proper one. ” said Ashe while floating around, looking at each of the fairies, studying their faces, analysing every wrinkle of skin and then she turned around with a loud “Aha!”.

I know what you’re missing. A leader. No offence to you, elder but you could be better. Way better. Hmm, what do you say, do you want to be a proper leader? Do you want to be a Coin Fairy-Godmother? The next step in the evolution of your species? Does that sound like an acceptable trade? ” said Ashe, starting her speech with a low voice before slowly raising her tone, driving the crowd wild as she finished talking.

“M-m-m-me? A … um … what’s a godmother? Is that like … your mother? Or the mother of your uh, um, well …. ” the fairy went from confused to looking very, very, very flustered at her incorrect understanding of what a Godmother was, the fairy having taken it quite literally.

Ashevelen slapped her forehead and laughed out loud.

Glad to see Jeon didn’t do anything about your intelligence. Let’s see what I can do about that. ” said Ashe as she stopped laughing with a very serious look on her face.

Putting her hands on each side of the [druid]’s shoulder, Ashevelen’s power started to gather. Soon, a blinding light surrounded her and the [druid] and coins appeared out of nowhere, swirling around them with increasing speed until eventually, the fairies on the sides couldn’t see anything but the coins.

In mere moments, the whole affair was done. The light lost its power and the coins stopped spinning, falling on the ground. Each making a “tink” sound as they did.

Out of the light, the [druid of the trade] came out changed. First of all, it was now 4 times the size of a fairy with long, golden wings which would allow the Fairy Godmother to fly as high as a bird, a majestic golden hair and her skin shone with bright golden light. Of course, these were not the only changes. In this new form, the Fairy Godmother had the power to cast illusions. Auditory or otherwise.

Aaaaand, one more thing. ” continued Ashe with a snap of her fingers, one of the fingers of the Godmother, changed into actual gold. Three times per day, an object that she would touch and wish for it, would be turned into solid gold.

One last thing, I give you the class [Fairy Godmother] which comes together with the last bit of your transformation. You’ll enjoy this. ” added Ashe before slapping her hands, making a coin appear above the Fairy Godmother hitting her head. Somehow, getting inside it and staying there. Light shone once more, this time from the Godmother’s eyes brightly and she would find out the fairies would instinctively listen to all of her commands.

“Wha-what happened” the new [fairy godmother], slumped to her knees, said, as she rubbed her head with one hand, and set the other down onto the plaza plate to steady herself … and inadvertently turning the entire thing into solid gold.

She gasped as looked down, seeing both how small the others were compared to her now, and her own form and how she had changed reflected in the perfectly reflective gold mirror she had turned the plaza into.

The [godmother] marvelled at, well, everything that had just happened, patting her larger and more comely form as if this would make the reality of her change more real, before reaching down to caress the gold itself.

“Beautiful” she murmured, before realising she was forgetting something and turned back to her goddess, bowing as she said “oh thank you thank you thank you, your goddesslyness, for your super generous gift. This beautiful material will sell like hotcakes I’m sure!”

There were murmurs of agreement from the other fairies and … a fair bit of jealousy truth be told, from those who were not simply in awe of what had occurred. Many had not realised that it would be only the teller who was blessed and not them all, and were now rather disappointed and just a little bitter.

Not entirely oblivious to this, their new divinely appointed leader spoke quickly to get ahead of any resentment by clapping her hands to get their attention and commanding “three cheers for our most benevolent goddess… and then throw open the pantries! With her gift we shall be the richest town in all the land, so we can afford to celebrate the rest of the day away!”

That got them cheering and in a better mood. Yes, due to Plum’s new gift they were technically compelled cheers, but none but the odd grousing [storehouse manager] could say a bad word against the idea of getting out all the good stuff in order to throw a party.

“And you are super invited to it as the guest of honour your goddesslyness” the fairy godmother said to her divine patron after heading off any negative reactions to this power imbalance at the pass.

Ashevelen noticed the bitterness of the crowd before the Godmother quelled it and chuckled, in a friendly manner, as well as the newly transformed golden plaza.

What has happened, Plum, is that you’ve become the leader of all the coin fairies in the world. A queen fairy, if you will. But, what is a fairy without some proper subjects? For, you see, when I created your mortal race, I did it on whim. The forest felt…undeserving of attention if it was only blessed with only one part of my power. So, I created you and the Beholders. One for each side, at that moment, of it. ” said Ashevelen, stopping, turning around at the crowd before continuing her speech “ Now, I’ve got one more. Something that I can offer to all of you with only one condition. Don’t teach what I’m about to show you to any other mortal species, elves especially. Only to other fairies. If this condition will be broken, I will know and I shall reduce you to your original forms…coins. Do you agree to my terms?” her tone was friendly but the threat was clear to all.

“I-if any fairy teaches it, you would turn us all to coins?” the godmother replied, not at all liking the idea of having that risk wrapped around her neck for the rest of her days “What in the world is so valuable that you cant let anyone else have …” she paused, and a spark of greed in her heart growing into a small flame as she thought about that “ah, well, if you teach it to only some, then we could control that better? That would make it much easier to stop any sillies from dooming us all”

It ain’t about value but how it can be used and how limited it is. Think about it, the less people have it, the more valuable it becomes. You’ll be allowed to teach it to everyone, later on, when I’ll allow it but until then, only coin fairies must know what I’ll show you. I’ll teach it to only 11 fairies, yours to choose. 10 of them will be your [royal guards] or whatever other role you may wish to give them. 1 will be you. Whom you choose to teach it to, that’s not my concern…as long as it is a fairy. Now, if we have a deal, I’ll give you an hour to choose your most loyal servants. In this time, any who wish to try to out-trade me, feel free to come forth.

That caused a lot of excitement, which only added to the party atmosphere. Store rooms and personal stashes were thrown open as fairies either partied the hour away or spent it bartering with all their cunning and guile. They had two options in the latter, as the new godmother imitating her divine patron by auctioning off a fair number of the 10 lucky spots to the people.

Thus the hour ended with her enriched, while many a fairy having become poorer as a result of their attempts at bargaining with the goddess (though even the attempt often gave them a consolation prize in levels), and the rest in the midst of a sugar rush due to them collectively consuming several giant (compared to them) cakes.

In the end, the ten and one presented themselves to the goddess. Other than Plum herself they where: the [fairy godmother]’s wife, her best friend/sister, 3 now near destitute mid level [merchants], 1 of the other sudo ruling [merchants] of the town (the others had declined to bargain for the goddesses’ mystery box), and 4 [warriors], as far as the fairies actually had those, who could actually fulfil the suggested [royal guard] position’s martial requirements, a right they had won via a rapidly organised fighting tournament.

“We’re ready, you’re goddesslyness” the [godmother] declared, after quickly setting aside a secluded spot in town where the 11 of them would not be eavesdropped on by any other nosy fairies.

The hour went very fast for Ashevelen, as many fairies thought they might just be the one to out-trade her but as expected, none could do it. After each trade, Ashevelen would give advice in a loud voice, so that all could hear what the previous person did wrong and praise what they did right and how to improve their skills.

At the end, the Godmother and her [royal guards] finally arrived. While Ashe appreciated the efforts they’ve put into making sure they’re not to be eavesdropped on, they were unnecessary. Snapping her fingers, a dome of shadows appeared around them and for the duration of their time, they were transported into the Shadow Bazaar. Not that the fairies had any way of telling they were there or that others notice they were gone.

I shall teach you magic. Something special. Something no one, to my knowledge, has taught their mortals yet. I haven’t thought of a name for this magic yet but I’m thinking something along the lines of “Flash”. Feel free to offer ideas later. It will allow you to move faster than anything in this world. Allow you to become invisible by fooling the brains of others and many more abilities that I’m sure you’ll learn how to use in time. No longer will you have to fear the creatures of the forest. No longer predators will hunt you with impunity. All you’ve got to do to activate this magic is to say the words of power out loud and send offerings through the shadows to the Bazaar after every use of a spell. As always, the offerings can be anything you wish as long as they match the price of the spell. Now, without further ado…I hope you’re ready.

Ashevelen approached each of the chosen fairies and looked them in the eyes, the knowledge of magic being implanted in their minds. Each spell had different Power Words and had a cost attached to them. Some even had a combination of different Power Words.

After she looked at each of them, she started to chant in an unknown language to mortals. Her words would sound alien and if one would try to concentrate on them, they would find themselves struck by strong headaches. Such knowledge wasn’t meant for mortals. Minutes later she stopped and snapped her fingers once more, transporting them back to their original location.

And that’s it. You’re ready. You’ve got the knowledge. Try combining the words of power, see what you can do with them. Figure out the costs, personal or otherwise. But, the most important thing. Make a profit. Find ways for this to help you grow.

“We will, your goddesslyness, and we shall keep a tight lid on this cookie jar of knowledge. So we all have sworn” Plum assured her, which got the excitedly chittering fairies to all nod in affirmation. Contracts had been drawn up, and the [godmother] had gotten several [dealmakers] to use skills to add enforcement to them, just in case as well. There would be no leaking of this most wondrous of gifts under her watch, of that she was self assured.

Phew, that was hard work. I’m in the mood for a party. A real party, no offence to what has been going on until now. Let’s see what I can do about that, shall we? ” said Ashe with a grin.

Snapping her fingers, the tables were suddenly filled up with food from the Bazaar. All kinds of food, gourmet or otherwise filled the town with the smell of hot food. With another snap of her fingers, alcohol and cups appeared too. But the highlight was the appearance of 4 Dawnborn, shaped very small due to their innate abilities which all had the [Bard] class, high levels too and they started to sing or perform at different instruments shaped out of wood.

Enjoy creations of mine! Enjoy! ” shouted Ashevelen as she went to the table and grabbed herself a drink. Casually chatting with some fairies that gathered around her, each trying to get a minute of attention from their Goddess.

Which made the ones not doing so stand out quite a bit, because, after all, who among them would have the gal to expect her to come to them? Well, one particularly fancy looking fay, clad in sea spider silks adorned with little blue crystals and wearing a wood elf style circlet adorned with ivory antlers, that was who. Around them were a number of fairy [adventurers] including a certain one with an arm made from a cherry red flower, who seemed to be trying to urge the silken clad one to approach the goddess, but she was far more interested in sampling all of the booze on offer. That, and sowing the seeds of republicanism among the disaffected fairies of the town, which she found just as fun as eating and getting drunk.

In between drinks and conversations, Ashevelen noticed herself being eyed by a group of fairies. They stood behind the partygoers, not dancing, nor actually doing any eating or enjoying the party itself. Shaking her head, Ashevelen clapped her hands and a shower of golden sparkles rained upon them, nodding friendly in their direction afterwards.

The fairy at the centre who was actually enjoying the party gave a little laugh at her fellow's amazed reactions. Then she produced a seed from a pocket and repaid the coin toss by tossing the seed up and then flicking the projectile in an arch towards the goddess, only for it to suddenly, slow, grow and bloom into a bouquet of flowers moments before impact. The fact that there were no seeds or flowers that size only added to the blatency of the divine power being used.

As was the fact that the bouquet had grown a little card that said “care to dance?” on it.

Almost instantaneously, Ashevelen appeared by the side of the fairy that was enjoying the party. Finally, her sibling made an appearance. So distracted she was by the party that she didn’t notice the tell-tale signs of divinity. Giving Jeon a hand, she let herself be led into dance with a grin.

I was wondering when we’ll meet, brother. Seems that you’ve played a bit with my creations. ” said Ashe with a charming voice.

“Brother? Well now, that is one way of looking at it, though it would make the tangoing i was planning on suggesting later on very awkward” the god replied teasingly, before adding “also it would, I suppose, also be sister at the moment, which has so far been an entertaining little adventure I have to say” as they led the goddess through the steps of a half remembered waltz from beyond the veil, their fairy transformation fooling the onlookers enough to make this stranger to town the envy of all of her kin. Except their escort of course, who now mostly took a chance to let their own hair down.

With a laughter that made some of the fairies turn towards the two, some with looks of jealousy on their face, Ashevelen changed her stance, taking the lead of the dance before replying “ You’re a funny one. All of us are brothers, sisters or siblings, Jeon. That divine spark or whatever one may wish to call it, that we all share is what links us to one another. You may call me Ashevelen or the Lady of the Swift Trade and Shadows if you care for formalities but I suppose you know that, seeing I transformed half of your forest into a place for my creations. I would've asked for permission, of course, but in all honesty, I didn't realise that you've claimed these elves. "

As soon as she finished talking, Ashevelen snapped her fingers and music changed, this time something akin to jazz was playing. As much as jazz could be played with wooden instruments.

“Ah, finally someone with some taste” the god complimented her, only a touch upset Fernguard isn't here to be culturally enlightened for mere moments, before he hemmed and said “but there is just one thing missing … oh, I know!”

The god flicked a hand towards Plum Pudding, and shifted the [fairy godmother]’s hand just a touch to get it to pat a wooden saxophone he had grown out of one of the village's supportive vines, instantly turning into pure gold.

“Try that on for size!” he called over to one of the musicians, directing them to the new instrument, which added the missing ingredient to the mix of drum and bass that was playing them on.

“Now we’re talking” he declared as the music picked up once the new sound got added, switched their dance to something a bit more lively, a style that approached the Jitterbug, which was fitting given their size.

“And as for the elves and the woods, well, that is just fine, my dear lady of shadows. I don’t claim ownership after all, I simply guide, challenge and meddle inorder to keep things interesting” the god explained effortlessly through the quick steps of the dance, a smile on his lips as he watched some of the others trying to imitate the style.

“So it should be me apologising to you for tampering instead, though I like to think of it as simply being inspired to expand upon an existing work of art,” he then smoothly said, before a touch of honesty had him adding “also, I had to do it to prevent one of their brains melting” sheepishly to the explanation “you, ah, don’t want to try to pop divine inspiration into a mind that can’t handle it, trust me”

Not a problem for tampering with my creations, the forest felt empty without mortals reflecting all of my domains. The Umbra, Satyrs and Dawnborn are just experiments at best. The coin fairies were supposed to be a masterpiece. Alas’ I got distracted with different deals, businesses and the sorts. In other words, I should thank you for uplifting them. ” replied Ashe while lifting Jeon in the air, flying above the plaza.

Funny that you mention divine inspiration into a mind that can’t handle it. That is what happened to me after all. I’ve purchased my divinity from a divine. One may say I tricked him into giving it but the truth is, I simply got lucky and outsmarted him. I felt that I would die that day. Mortal souls aren’t supposed to ascend directly to divinity that fast but oh’ well, that was many, many aeons ago. I can barely remember those times. Anyways, I wanted to talk with you about more serious matters. If you can spare a moment of your time, that is. ” replied Ashe once more. Her voice initially calm as she remembered the time of her ascension, before changing into a serious tone. Play time was over.

“The least I can do for this lovely hospitality… I take it you want to take this somewhere private then?” The god said, attempting one more flirt, but with the mood clearly gone, he shrugged and let it the tone go, though he never could quite make himself take anything 100% seriously “oh, and, if we are sharing origin stories, I simply ascended in levels in [explorer] so high I could pierce the veil between realities, and then slip into the infinite cracks between them to a realm of infinite potential. After that, I got … bored, and decided, hey, why not give this whole god thing a try”

Ashvelen laughed, kindly, at Jeon’s origin story. It was rare for someone to earn their divinity just like that. Most are born divines after all. But to have two of them in the same place, sharing a forest? That was even rarer.

We could talk here but I know that fairies will try to eavesdrop. Anything that may help them in a further trade and all that. So…” she started to reply before snapping her fingers. Both of the divines were enveloped in shadows and transported in the [adventurer]’s guild HQ in the Shadow Bazaar.

They were currently in an unopened room which puzzled many of the adventurers that resided in the HQ. Of course, there was a reason for it and the reason was that it wasn’t yet finished. If one would open the door they’d step into a big, empty field.

Welcome to the Shadow Baazar. We’re currently inside the HQ of your people. This room is…empty and locked up for your people and mine. None may enter yet. As part of the deal I have with Pieapple, your people have brought me many goods that are currently being sold here and I feel that they should be rewarded. So, I’ve had two ideas for a while and I want to run them by you as, after all, you’re the divine of Adventure!. Both ideas fall in your domain as much as it falls into mine. ” said Ashe, as two chairs and a table materialised in front of them. Food and drinks soon appeared on the table too.

“Ah, I’ve been meaning to visit this place” Jeon said as he slipped out of his fairy from and back into his cat, dragon, elf thing form, and then slipped that form into the chair and grabbed a cupcake with experimental slime based icing and a cider from what was on offer “you’ll need to give a tour after this little private affair”

He took a swig of the cider and then leaned back in the chair, giving the goddess a finger gun as he asked her to “hit me” with her ideas.

I am more than happy to offer you a tour of the place. It’s one of the few truly original buildings in this place, after all. Everything else was taken from wherever I’ve been and adapted to suit my needs. Now, on to business. As I said, I’ve got two ideas. One, this place as empty as it is currently, was built to act like a battlefield of the mind. A mortal would deposit their memory of fighting a creature of sorts and then, other mortals would be able to experience fighting the same creature in different environments, conditions, handicaps and the sorts. All for a modest fee. They’d earn experience and I would make quite a profit. ” said Ashe, lifting her left hand’s finger up.

Second idea. I’ve recently got some Dream Fruits from the divine of the other moon that recently appeared. If one consumes those fruits, they’ll taste like either a nightmare or a wishful dream with random intensity. Weird stuff. My plan is to change those fruits into offering experience or knowledge. For example, a mortal could deposit the experience of how they grew plants using druid magic and then when another would eat it, they’d gain levels in the [druid] class. ” continued Ashe, while lifting another finger up from the opposite hand.

What say you?

“Hmmmm” the god hummed as he shifted in his chair so he was mourning it sideways, legs over one arm rest, backleaning far over the other. He took a bite out of the cupcake, chewed it thoughtfully, commented “hmmm, like a tree, if a tree was sweet” about the flavour, not disparagingly, and then popped the cake back down to give his decision.

“So second first, that really feels too much like cheating for my taste. Eat a fruit inorder to level? Pfffff too easy. Besides, the lack of effort would make it super inefficient anyway” he said, dismissing it outright before giving a quick “sorry” of apology.

“Now the first? That has some merit. Even if there is no danger you still have to work to gain the experience, especially if people are able to compete against each other in terms of speed and stuff. That could be neat” he said, thinking about how they could do tournaments and such where [adventurers] raced to get the fastest clear time against a sequence of foes.

“Yeah… yeah that could work. How are you going to get all the info you need though, its not like you have an archive of fighting data to start off….” he paused for a moment, and then spun to sit on the chair properly as he leaned in and corrected himself/enquired “hey, don’t you have some kind of … catalogue of everything the adventurers bring in?”

Ashe took some cake as well while waiting for Jeon to think the idea through, right after she took a shot of Umbral alcohol which was made to be weak but the flavour was what made it a delicacy. Strong enough that mortals wouldn’t get drunk after a drink or two but not too weak as not to get you drunk.

I thought that you wouldn’t like the second idea. It does remove some of the fun but at the same time, allows certain people to get levels in classes that they wouldn’t be able to in a very short manner. Say, a high level [fighter] would want to quickly level up their [archer] class; they'd be able to do it at a very high price. But, fair enough. ” replied Ashe, trying to sell her idea once more before taking a sip of another drink, elven drink this time and continuing “ As a matter of fact, I do have something like that. I’ve got paperwork for everything that happens in the Bazaar. ”. The pride in her voice was obvious as she said it. Almost immediately as she stopped talking, a few mirrors appeared. Each was etched with a symbol in the middle. A coin.

Throwing a coin in each, they all became visible. “ There. Feel free to look. I’ve got mortals, monsters, plants, minerals, predators, herbivores and so on. Say outloud which you want and the right one will come to you. You’ll also find statistics for all of them. How fast they grow, abilities…anything I could find via intensive testing. ” said Ashe, pointing at each mirror as she enumerated them.

Jeon gave an impressed whistle as he plucked a mirror from the collection at random instead of asking for something specific and started pursuing the details, muttering to himself as he went “hmm, fascinating, so detailed … I wonder if i can, just from this …” he raised up a hand opposite the one holding from the mirror, concentrated, and then grinned wide as a kind of fruit had never seen before appeared in his hand. A humble pear. The god took a bite out of it.

“Mmf, skin’s a bit gritty, but the insides are oh so juicy” he commented, before flicking his hand and letting the temporary creation fade away “But nothing beats the real thing, and the same goes for your idea, my dear. It will make for excellent training, but for most, well, they’ll learn about their local beasties and that will be that. Not much incentive to learn how to fight an ice slime if you live in the woods. So, what I was thinking, is that we make something to put this training towards”

Jeon let the mirror float up, and then clapped both empty hands together, before pulling them apart and revealing a model, one consisting of the dark realm of the bazaar, a tiny dot, surrounded by a massive assembly of structures which shifted around and reassembled into a new argument like the world's most intricate sliding puzzle. Golden beams of light shot out from the goddess’s mirrors, striking the structure at one spot which got filled up with monsters and treasures from her catalogue.

Then, finally, a miniature team of [adventurers] delved into the maze, swiftly craving their way down into the depths, slaying beasts and gathering up loot, before they rushed back to the bazar to pawn off the prizes they had snatched, before the structure began another round of reassembly, and the same beams of light from the mirror filed it back up with a new assortment of danger and wealth to be plundered.

“So… like what you see?” the god asked

Ashevelen stood up from her chair upon seeing Jeon’s 3d model. She inspected it from one side then the other, smiling when the adventurers left the dungeon to sell things in the Bazaar. Whatever dungeon that was, it smelled like a good deal. [Adventurer]s will go inside and level up their skills while the Bazaar will be flooded by new goods and even more parties of heroes.

I do indeed. I’m assuming this is a dungeon you’ve planned to make and if I see correctly, this dungeon would be exactly in my Bazaar. I suppose I could make some space. After all, these adventurers of yours are bringing me quite a lot of stuff and if a dungeon like yours would exist, they would bring even more. ” replied Ashe, her tone carefully neutral before sitting down once more.

Let’s hear your proposal, dear brother but know I’ve got some conditions/requests of my own.

“I was more thinking of an expansion, built around it. I wouldn’t want to clog up all of you of your …” the god paused and wheeled a hand as he looked for the word before settling on: “valuable real estate” before leaning back in his chair and asking her to once again “hit me” with her requests.

I can work with an expansion. My conditions/requests are simple. Every now and then, create a room that won’t change with the rest of the dungeon. That room can be designed however you may wish. Each of those rooms will contain some treasure or so but will also contain a larger specimen of some creature or mortal. Of course, if the party is defeated by this larger specimen, all of their equipment is forfeit. It’ll all end in the Bazaar, free of charge.

“Oooh, now that is interesting. Quite the gamble, though not one for life, which is a novelty in a sense when compared to the less controlled parts of the dungeon, which I’ve intended to run freely once I’ve set things up. I think that would be quite fun … but I suppose it does also raise the question of what to do with any other equipment that is, mmmm, lost to the dungeon“

It either gets randomised, same as the layout of the dungeon or it gets sent to the Bazaar. That way, fallen [adventurers] can get back their equipment. Maybe I’ll even allow the owners of the equipment to get a reduction of price on them. It’s a win-win situation for all. If it’s randomised, some [adventurers] might get some high level equipment even if they aren’t high level which wouldn’t be fair…” replied Ashe explaining her ideas before snapping her fingers.

Ah. That’s it. Got another idea. Whenever an adventurer is close to death, they’ll get teleported outside the dungeon. That way there’s no loss of life. I can even set up some healing fountains that speed the natural healing of the body in certain rooms, if you want.

“Hmmmm” the god tapped his fingers on the table as he thought about it. It would lower the levelling potential somewhat, he thought, and it might teach bad habits for the world beyond the game …. Yet still, it was the kinder thing to do as well. Plus, quantity had a quality all of its own, even if it could never beat the real thing.

“Yeah, that works” he agreed, before thinking for half a second and saying “I assume you’ll be charging for this privilege?” snidely.

I would love to say yes, obviously, but no. There’s no need. The boost of income generated by such a dungeon would cover up the cost. Unless, of course, you want to add a pay-to-win sort of deal to it? Say, if you pay something, you can get a very minimal map of the first two levels of the dungeon or maybe you are told what monsters to expect in the first few levels giving you a tiny advantage over those that won’t pay. As I said, I'm more than happy to leave it free of charge. ” replied Ashe with a wink.

“Oh I am no real fan of the rich get richer style of thing, which is what makes levels work so well, because the more you have, be it riches or levels, the harder it is to get more” the god explained, “The first person to commit to this challenge by going at it only with their fits over and over again is going to become a legend, mark my words”

If there’s such a mortal out there, I’ll bless them myself. Actually, let’s make a bet. Send a mortal of your own choosing that doesn’t have any levels in any class in the dungeon, naked. If they manage to survive…say, 30 rooms, I’ll bless them with some real power. Say…one blessing for each of my aspects. How does that sound?

Oh, oh ok now that is a challenge. I was thinking they would be getting knocked down and then picking themselves back up again over and over, but oh, now, that is a tempting bet to take. Or, a quest to put up open to the public, that would be almost as hilarious as dumping some random person in there. Before I take it, do you want to add any other caveats, or is it only the levels you want to restrict, hmmm?” the god asked, aware of a fair few ways he could cheat the spirit of the game.

I know what you’re probably thinking about. No cheating. No divine assistance. No extra weapons or information. It has to be someone who is an absolutely normal person. Hells, I’ll even throw a nice sword for the person if they’ve got no clue where they are. Basically, take any one person and throw them in the dungeon without knowing anything about where they are. So, again, no cheats. A fair game if you’re up for it. ” clarified Ashe with a grin. This might prove a fun game.

“Sounds like a lark and a half, and a perfect way to break in the dungeon, though I can’t help but note that the only thing I am gambling here is my pride and reputation …. Actual no those are plenty,” the god said and then quickly backpedalled before she roped him into a bigger wager

If you agree to the bet, what will I get in return? Maybe…a blessing on my Umbra? Something very…adventurey. A racial class? Or maybe an artefact? Maybe a coin which can detect danger?

“Dang it drat curses my big mouth! …. Ah well I have no one to blame but myself so sure, sounds like a fair bet … or no not a fair bet but definitely a fun one and that is the only thing that matters. so. bet” the god agreed, leaning forwards, elbow on the table and palm presented to shake on the entire deal and contest in one.

Ashevelen took his hand and shook it, very business-like. “ This is going to be fun! So, happy that you agreed. Also…this is for you. ” said Ashe, happiness clear in her voice. A small papyrus appeared on the table, on it, one could read the exact agreement between the two divines alongside the bet they’ve made.

Jeon, as was his nature, did not bother to read the fine print

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The Beginning of Turn VII

Seven is a Sacred Number

“A goddess is the sum of all her believers, all the prayers and hopes and curses and despair ever uttered in her name...”

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Desire & The Kathetikon

Once Upon A Time

Westwards from the Umbral Woods, she swiftly sailed upon the shining stria towards the sublime sight of the Grand Library after following the directions inscribed upon the map that Ashevelen had given to her, and she slowed herself upon her shimmer-board as she approached the exalted edifice. She could see how the world shifted the closer she came to the domain of another deity, yet she could not describe the exact nature of these changes. The winds surrounding the mountains resembled the winds at Keltra, and she could sense the presence of sorcery, mingling with her perception of reality.

From her elevated position, Desire examined the numerous plateaus absolutely laden with ever exquisite structures such as the spiraling towers and grand halls, and she observed how each plateau was connected via many sculpted stone bridges and steps - all of this seemed to shine with an ethereal glimmer. She could see within the beautiful buildings the fabulous furnishings illuminated by crystallized radiance, as well as a vast repository of knowledge consisting of an immense collection of tomes, scrolls, illustrations, and much more, with a myriad of signs written in an unfamiliar script that would aid in navigating the various sections of this resplendent realm.

There were more creatures that dwelled here; among them were Umbra akin to those that Desire had seen in the Shadow Bazaar which were presumably members of the Holy Order of Ashevelen, and then there were the equines with wings, their feathers forged from the night sky and their fur suffused with colorful warmth. The two types of denizens either flew upon the focused winds, or wandered throughout the wondrous arrangement of incredible architecture that was the Grand Library.

None among them had seen Desire yet as her appearance remained hidden behind the aura produced by Sunset Orange - until she leapt from her shimmer-board, leaving her artifact and avatar behind - and alighted amidst the pathways of pearlescent and bejeweled marble between the majestic structures. She would then begin to seek out the Kathetikon, in order to give them the conjured coin she had received from Ashevelen.

As Desire stepped down onto the proverbial terra firma of the Grand Library, a coruscating ribbon of light seemed to twinkle through the marble floor. It wound its way up through the chaotic maze of pathways, quickly disappearing from sight, but as Desire got her bearings she would no doubt catch glimpses of it again and again–and each time she saw it, it would gently nudge her perception up towards the great Vault set atop the highest peak. The strange geometries of the Grand Library seemed to unnaturally converge upon it, and now that she had entered it properly and doffed her protection it seemed to do the same to her.

An umbra sailing the winds just above Desire happened to look down and catch a glimpse of the coin Ashevelen had given her, and suddenly grew very animated. The umbra began furiously writing strange sigils into the air with a quill and sending them darting off with a flick of her shadowy form. As the movement rippled throughout her clothes, an emblazoned emblem of coins much like the one Desire was holding was briefly visible. It took only another moment or two for the sound of ruffling feathers and equine neighing to be heard, and soon two of the Odysseia had joined in, speaking to themselves in a strange whispering language.

“Are you one of the holy Kathetikon’s siblings, perchance, sent here by Lady Ashevelen?” the Umbra asked, quickly performing a prayer under its breath to the Lady of Trade and Shadows as it eagerly awaited an answer. In the background, the lure of the Vault grew even stronger as though something deep within that strange apex were calling out to her. Her deific sight would render her keenly aware of the currents of esoteric and occult energy that were made manifest in the Kathetikon’s realm, but as she gazed upon the celestial trails of energy in the oddly crisp skies she would also become keenly aware of something actively damming her perception. Like a veil of reality itself slipped over something she could see the absence of, it stoked any curiosity she might have had within her and appealed to her sense of mystery.

“I’m Desire, ya! Ashevelen said to come here if I wanted to learn more about trading. She told me to give this coin to the Kathetikon. Can you help me find what I seek?” Desire answered as she showed the stamp of the shadow goddess to the Umbra and asked her own question with an affable grin while she fiddled with the aforementioned coin, flipping it between her fingers playfully. Her inner flames flickered with an excited enthusiasm, and so she sauntered forward without worry or constraint towards this source of temptation atop the mountain letting her curiosity guide her.

“Ah, what luck! If you wish to know the way onward, I’d be happy to accept a trade… a secret for a secret, hmm?” the Umbra giggled, her eyebrows wagging coyishly as she shone a bright smile towards Desire, clearly eager to talk to this new being but also true to the nature of the Umbra and unwilling to let things be freely given when a mutually beneficial trade could be made! Alas, before the conversation could proceed further Desire found the strange fractal geometries of the Grand Library shifting and constricting. Reality tilted on some unseen axis and suddenly the Umbra was gone, as were the Odysseia flying above, as were all of the living things. Up above in the sky could be seen an inky trail of midnight blue essence, contrasting sharply against the ordinarily too-bright and too-crisp sky. As Desire would catch notice of it it would begin to glob wetly against another point in the sky, spreading almost like the flow of a river–and suddenly it trickled down a dimension that she had not been able to see before and vanished from view.

Ahead, at the Apex, the obsidian black glass seemed to drink in the same peculiar essence that Desire had seen earlier. To her divine eyes she could even see the odd angles of the place beginning to split off into the spaces between spaces that appeared to converge here. It was almost as if the strange Vault keened to her innermost senses, pulling her unfailingly towards it and opening its doors for her to begin to explore the interior. The inky currents suddenly became visible ahead of her, as if already enveloping her, and brushed against Sunset Orange, lingering against it for a fraction of a second too long. As suddenly as the vision came into being it disappeared, adding another layer of mystery for Desire to untangle.

Her shimmer-board came into view once again as her sacred marionette sailed the artifact upon unseen silvery strings outstretched, and hovered beside her creatrix now. Currently suffused with her namesake, Desire and her Divine Doll momentarily stared at each other with contemplative stillness before both of them slowly shifted their attention back to the strange structure that beckoned them from within. Though this surrealistic cave was dark, and though it devoured, Desire thought its hunger and blackness were somehow bright and hot akin to a bonfire - and so seen as such, caused her skin to feel warm.

A foolish leap of faith ahead of her, now she cannot forsake herself or abandon her avatar. She knew she could not step into the calling cave alone, and she suddenly was clinging onto her Divine Doll, caressing its soft features to soothe herself. Her hesitancy passed, and carrying her small woven marionette as they sailed upon Sunset Orange together, the two of them proceeded forward, and ascended towards the mystery that awaited them above. Desire reached out with her threads, like thousands of hands seeking to grasp and gently articulate their surroundings, so that she could attempt to see the shape of what she had seen before - another vision. Another perspective.

Desire’s threads reached out, and the infinite tendrils of the Rivers of Mystery each grasped firmly the goddess’ proffered hand and pulled. They drew her very self through their infinite complexities, each a conduit for the occult and esoteric phenomena of Galbar–but now so close she could see them for what they truly were: the seams that bound this reality to myriad others, the fundamental axes of the multiverse. Each offered something wildly different, a shift in perspective so profound and surreal that mortal minds would burn up in their obsessive embrace–but Desire was no mortal, and the overwhelming heat could do her no harm. The sudden infusion of occult energy took the form of whispers, and they slid slickly through her ears and into her mind as she vaulted rapidly through the glut of new perspectives: “We cannot see you, and we cannot hurt you, but if you only find us and let us in we will fill the hole within you.”

And then, all at once, a ripple of written characters vibrated through the air in each of the otherworldly vistas and they began to slide into one another seamlessly. Faster and faster they collided, until all at once they slammed into Desire and she found herself within the interior of the grand Vault. The same incredible space awaited her as had awaited Kaelhmor, the infinite vastness of the cosmos somehow contained within the peculiar obsidian building, but this time instead of non-euclidean edges and peculiar geometries there were little rivers of that inky-blue essence, heading off towards the distant nebulae and planets in the distance. At the center of it all was the prize that Desire had sought, however: the Kathetikon and Anagnostis, engaged in some peculiar type of spellcraft that involved the avatar drawing impossibly intricate and precise sigils in various ways.

“Ah, sibling, it is good to meet you! You are one of the Creatrix’s children, yes?” the Kathetikon wrote, its words manifesting in the celestial skyscape above them. Anagnostis took a single glance at the coin that she possessed and began to write feverishly within the tome’s pages.

“Ah! You’ve been sent by Lady Ashevelen, I see? It is a pleasure to welcome a friend of a dear friend. What service would she have me provide for you?”

Desire had yet to be completely healed after all she suffered and all that she witnessed when she was within Keltra, as she felt the hidden scars spanning across her shape become more and more agitated. She disembarked from her shimmer-board, still holding her doll with one arm as she presented the coin to the two that had greeted her. She slowly stepped forward, struggling with the movements, almost stumbling instead of walking with grace, and her brows furrowed with irritation before softening as she briefly peered upwards to read the scripture in the otherworldly sky. “Eh, sorry! My body seems to want to betray me now. I’m Desire, and it’s nice to finally meet you. To, um, answer your question; I’m here to learn about trading.”

Upon uttering those words, Desire relaxed as the sudden chafing among the crevices along her form was alleviated temporarily, and so she adopted a more calm and cheerful demeanor as she continued to speak. “I was told I could study here if I gave this coin to the Umbra in residence, and I was told that I should speak with you if I could.” She explained with a smile as she tied herself together with her silvery strings, assisted by her animated marionette that possessed similar threads. The final result was a rather ridiculous sight, but would also prevent her from fracturing apart during this conversation which she deemed more prevalent.

“Your corporeal index is lower than it should be, it’s true…” Anagnostis smiled sheepishly before flicking through the Kathetikon’s pages at a blinding pace. It finally settled on a page filled not with words but with arcane sigils, and began to draw the patterns contained therein upon the sky with its quill, linking distant stars and planets alike and directing their energy down into Desire. It was like being plugged into the heartbeat of the cosmos themselves, the sheer magnitude of forces suddenly coursing through her body difficult for even a God to bear–but then the silvery string began to glow as it absorbed the energy that Anagnostis had fed to it, and Desire’s body was united with her desires once more.

“A temporary fix, while you are within the Vault! The Master knows how to draw energy from the entire multiverse to this place, so it is fairly trivial to maintain such magic while here… you traveled here yourself through one of the Rivers of Mystery, did you not? You were linked then to a single thread in the tapestry; now many more are infusing you with their vitality.” Anagnostis smiled, performing a deep bow, but then its featureless face returned to the Kathetikon and began to flick through its pages once more.

“Lady Ashevelen could, of course, teach you intricacies that even I do not know–but she is an efficient manager, and knows when it is best to delegate tasks! She also happens to know that I wish to meet all of our siblings one day, so she has done us both quite the favour. I warn you, however, that I do not tend to… teach, per se. It is my prerogative to reveal the path, but it must be yours to walk it. My Library contains everything you could ever want to know, if only you can find it… but what on earth has damaged you so severely? I sense the Creatrix’s energy about you, but in far higher quantities than one could ambiently accumulate in Keltra–she spoke to me some time ago about a battle of some sorts, have you been injured by one of our kin?” the Kathetikon wrote, its words fast and blurred together as it leaped from point to point without pause.

It was overwhelming, the multitude of emotions coursing through the small system that Desire comprised herself with, and she was momentarily the embodiment of several sins; greed, gluttony, lust, and avarice. She was aching with hunger, as her stomach repeatedly whimpered, and she hated that she deeply contemplated begging for food, for sweet sustenance. She wanted to satiate her hunger simply by forever feasting upon the cognitive vigor that suffused her now, provided by the power of the one that ruled this realm. To withdraw and accept being emptier was an unbearable thought, so similar to the weight of the world itself, it seemed overcoming it would be a sisyphean task.

She shook back and forth, trembling with transcendence despite how tightly the sacred strings bound her like shackles, and she felt tears fall from flushed cheeks as she remembered simultaneously why she previously separated herself from such cosmic forces. She wondered when she would lose lucidity and become intoxicated, how it had happened and why? Her mind relentlessly teased her with moans of pleasure and playful mockery beyond the capability of her current body to comprehend. Despite the sensation of her skin being squeezed, excruciatingly forced to constrict and contain all that was within her, she remained more afraid of the threads becoming frayed and undone. She could see such a destiny coming soon, and she winced as she looked away. The pain of prescience and divinity.

She gasped, and inhaled. Breathing. How could she explain that she had been brutalized and abandoned, yet was still loved? She could not define the nature of her relationship with her mother who had become something sinister and supernatural in her mind, frightening her. She recalled how even when she had held the Aspect-Shard of War, even when she had fought with fierce conviction, she had been defeated. She sought mercy then, and surrendered to the river that carried her on and on, yet it could not have been her choice to come here.

“Yet I’m here.” She whispered so softly, solely with written words for she had yet to find her voice again, but in this realm she could speak even when silenced. She was blind to her surroundings, and suddenly found herself laid upon the floor entangled in her sacred strings before the strange Book and its author, as though she were the sacrifice placed upon the altar. She remained dedicated to the reason she had arrived. She had come to learn about trade, and desired to make a deal with the one known as the Kathetikon.

“I want everything…” She said weakly, confessing to her crimes, her sins, her salvation. She allowed herself to imagine having another one of those delicious meals she devoured while within the Shadow Bazaar, and also attempted to imagine somehow consuming it while still keeping it in her possession despite how difficult it was to do so. “What can I trade with you?” She asked with desperation.

“All things are written, Desire, but not all things are decided. I remember the prophecies of many great sages, some of whom communed with forces even the equal of your mother, and not a single one was infallible–we kept keen records at the Oraculum within Gnosis, you see. I could show you universes where you beat the Creatrix, or where your purposes and goals became aligned, or where she was never your mother at all–but what would it serve? The root of your problems is clear to me: the hole inside of you that you have sought to fill has no bottom. You could glut yourself upon all the infinite multiverse has to offer and never be satisfied, because the satisfaction you crave is rooted in falsehood. All I crave is knowledge, dear Desire, and I am about to embark upon the Rivers to do a little research about one of our siblings. I will be gone for some time, so I propose this to you: Find out all you can from your mother about the Sacred Path, about what she has already done and what she intends to do. In return, I shall bless you now with stewardship over the Rivers and their many delights–I can inscribe upon your board the sigils that will permit you to ride them, and I can weave within your strings their essence to bolster your failing corporality. If you keep an eye on things while I am absent and provide the knowledge I desire upon my return, you may keep my blessings.” the Kathetikon wrote in reply, the scintillating stars above and around them glittering and sparkling in time with its words. New invocations began to draw themselves in the vastness around them, and the mysterious angles of the Vault started to channel energy through the sable Rivers in anticipation of Desire’s acceptance.

“Anagnostis, fetch a hot meal from the Bazaar, will you? Galxus should know what Desire would like, and you are free to educate him on the many varieties of binding clauses that he was so interested in the last time he visited as recompense.” the Kathetikon added quickly, and the Anagnostis seemed to dissolve beneath the shadow of a passing star as he entered the Bazaar from the Vault. Only a moment or two later they returned, holding a plate of the precise type of food Desire had been imagining. They crouched down and offered it to her, their featureless face somehow still radiating kindness.

“You will meet your destiny on the road you take to avoid it. You must live as your authentic self, whatever that is, in order to satisfy your Desire. This is the only logical conclusion the Master has been able to come to, with all of the information at its disposal. I hope this helps, somehow, but I think you need to experience it. The Master does not teach because experience is the only true teacher!” Anagnostis spoke, its voice at once sagely and full of mirth.

Her limbs stayed locked as she lay completely tethered upon the floor, and she cried at the sight of the compassion she was shown. The Book was beautiful, she was certain, and Desire recognized a significant supply of holiness that temporarily compelled her to communicate further. “Um, please… tell me the truth - are you my family or an enemy? Are you my father? A demon? Something else? You’re hurting me, and healing me. I just… I don’t want to be alone.” Her two different colored eyes stared at the Kathetikon with sorrowful yearning, and shimmered with all of the answers she had yet to accept. Her glittering gaze reflected her desires and a hint of defiance, as despite all that she had heard, she sought to stay with whoever it was that she was speaking with.

She truly wanted to sail further upon the celestial rivers, but she refused to return to the past as she told herself that she cannot go back, that she was not strong enough yet. She was stuck, bound by the weapon she created and her cowardice, and sudden swift shame splashed against her, angry and hot like the touch of the sun. She giggled for an ephemeral moment, because she happily surrendered again when she considered how foolish she had been, achieving the self-bestowed title of the fake warrior. She was sundered, sealed with stupidity, and yet she had to continue enduring cruelty; the maelstrom, the violence and agony on the path ahead. She wished she could refute the fact that the Kathetikon was not coming with her, and she struggled to slither towards the blessed book.

The Kathetikon did not have a gaze to focus upon Desire, so it substituted the sheer vastness of the cosmos present around them for a look and seemed to almost smile both benevolently and piteously at Desire.

“You are my sibling, as we are both children of the Creatrix. I am many things, but none of them are an enemy–to you or anyone, I should hope. We are an ersatz family, I admit, but its esoteric and often tumultuous nature should do nothing to diminish its love nor the bonds we share as deific beings. Though my curiosity burns deeply at this Sacred Path, know that I am no friend of the Creatrix. She made plain that she cares only for this Sacred Path, and my desire to understand it compels me at times to act alongside her–but I would be upset were you to mistake this for us being little more than allies of opportunity.” the Kathetikon began, settling itself down in front of Desire so that she could read freely from the words it wrote upon its pages.

“You are not broken, my sibling. To be broken, one must have first been a complete thing–you are merely components yet to find the correct configuration… but this is your trial, you see? The answers you crave can only come from within; it is my job to light the path. I find it very curious how alike and yet different the Creatrix and I are: we have both stood at the end of a perfect universe crumbled to nothingness, subsumed in its entirety by entropy. We have watched universes die, we have beheld the ultimate end… but a part of me worries that this Path she is building leads not to an answer, but to escape. Unlike her, I do not seek release–I seek answers. I fear that I must be alike her if I am hurting you, but know that it is only my intention to help… now, let us restore your corporal harmony! Anagnostis, prepare the geometries! Fetch the candles and the chalks!”

Anagnostis did so immediately, dissolving into the lightless gap between the Vault and the Shadow Bazaar, and when they returned they started about setting up the right means for the Kathetikon’s grand plan. As Anagnostis prepared Desire, the Kathetikon prepared the heavens and the Vault, and their perspective in space suddenly changed as new stars and planets came into being. Hidden veils fell away before their eyes, and some things they had been privy to before vanished into nothingness–everything that was became something new, and ere long the rite was prepared.

“If I could stay, sweet Desire, I would… but there are questions beyond the pale that I must answer. There are adjustments I must make for Galbar’s safety beyond the veil–lest we attract the attention of Tindalos or worse. But if you wish to see me again, you need only return to my Library–it will be easy enough for us to meet at a liminal space if you want it badly enough.”

“I believe you, and I’m still going to miss you, hehe. Miss you like I miss Ashevelen and Harmony, and the other daughters of the sun that have yet to collect their spirit. I’m carrying such pain, and yet I can still fly. Ah, though my heart is missing a piece, it still beats… because I have faith we’ll meet again.” The trapped goddess said with the shadow of a smile, promising that the tale will continue when the black mirror connects them together, and they truly meet in the house of the night. With devotion, she had become divine once more, and spoke through time via surfing across the sea of stories to be here now. She will partake in the spell to sail swiftly upon Sunset Orange to overcome the dangers, as death would await her, and so she must hang upon the secret song of sorcery to survive. She was ready to be released from the Sacred Strings.

The glittering pinpricks of light in the sky above began to wink out, one by one. The darkness left behind seemed unable to occupy the space, and so it began to dribble down in little droplets until they had formed a little trickle of inky midnight. Each star lost seemed to spawn another, and as the distant light of the unmitigated mystery of the multiverse slowly faded away the ever-swelling tide of the Rivers could be felt coming closer, looming like a sword. When no lights yet remained, and the Rivers had joined together in this nexus so completely that the world was little more than a pinprick of concentrated energy.

“We are at the source. The infinite potentiality that once powered Gnosis, and now powers the Grand Library. The Vault. The Nexus. You. It… is nothing. Formless. It reflects only what is and creates nothing of its own, given meaning only when it may bring into being the Desires that are entrusted to it, and reflected within its lightless depths. You must visualize the Desire you wish to be, and we will align your body with your deific and noetic essences.” the Kathetikon spoke out, its words traveling not through sight or sound but through Desire’s very soul. Anagnostis revealed the chalks, like the hearts of dying stars, and began to cleave from the infinite everything the singular thoughts and focuses of Desire’s truest essence. All that she was not fell away, drowning in the tides of the Rivers of Mystery and the unknown dimensions they leaked into. For each thought purged a small flicker of light came into being, the tip of a small candle, and soon Desire was surrounded by them entirely. Floating above her was the Kathetikon, its pages open and covered with barely comprehensible patterns that resisted being perceived.

“As the Rivers flow through you, they will wash away the Sacred String. It will fall to another you, one who needs it as you do not. You will be permanently and indelibly marked with their aetheric signature, and that will serve as the binding to house the spells that will align your board to their currents, that you may surf them across Galbar and beyond. The bargain is struck, dear sibling, and you have learned what it is to trade by doing it yourself.”

It is said that no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man. However, upon her shimmer-board empowered by immortal defiance, could Desire overcome the paradoxical and illogical laws of an eternally changing reality or would she drown in despair? To surf swiftly, sail higher, closer and closer to the celestial limits and boundaries between the first and final fantasy. Tears of truth trickled from her ruby-emerald eyes as she peered into the ever enigmatic sea of shadows, and she felt herself plunge deep into the unfathomable depths of darkness.

She sank, but she was the Hanged One, and so she suspended herself while immersed in the many mysteries of the multiverse, receiving the wisdom of a myriad of lives. She could taste the treachery upon her forked tongue, as she became a serpent to navigate her unseen and sibylline surroundings. Lies touched her lips like the kiss of a lost lover, and she suddenly felt tremendous agony, insidious poison pouring into her and defiling her perception. I’m going to burst, she thought, sensing her spiritual stomach become swollen after swallowing so much mystical knowledge.

Still restrained after the ritual, Desire violently returned from her visions and profusely vomited upon the floor. The Sacred Strings became unraveled, and she was freed, released from her shackles, yet shaking once again with subtle scars across her small and familiar form. “I think I know what I must do.” The goddess gasped, exhausted and blemished by her own bile and vomitus.

“Ah, sweet Desire, it seems our time is at an end. The tides beyond this world are flooding in, and I must ride them to my destination. Anagnostis will stay here to oversee the Library, so they will be able to help you in whatever way you require. Before I depart, however, I would have you know this: the path you have embarked upon will kill you. As deities we are outside the purview of death, but as beings with thoughts and feelings we still die a thousand times over our existence. You have already experienced one such death today, but it has only killed the parts of you that could not muster the volition to live.” the Kathetikon stated, its tone now paternal and comforting, though tinged with some unseen note of melancholy. The pages of the book rippled gently in some unseen breeze, and from nowhere in particular a droplet of inky-black liquid fell onto its pages. Then another, and another, and another–and in the span of a single second suddenly the Kathetikon was gone.

“The Master will return, Desire… now, eat up. Gather your strength.” Anagnostis smiled, beginning to inscribe sigils and arcane geometries upon the sacred shimmer-board with the chalks it still gripped firmly. The effect was much less grandiose and pronounced than the previous displays of the Kathetikon’s power, manifesting only as a gentle ripple that ululated through the board’s essence before disappearing entirely.

“When you are ready, you should surf one of the Rivers to become acquainted with them! They have spawned all over Galbar, so your destination will be close at hand to at least one of the Rivers.”

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Shooting Stars I

Despite the Falling Star clan being known for some of their more esoteric practices, the sect's elders did not forget the Goddess's core teachings. Thus, after leaving Haven and establishing a foothold on the area surrounding their stronghold, the most wise and powerful members of the sect had gathered to form the Elder Council. A brainchild of the previous sect head, the council's sole purpose had been to gather, record, and consolidate all the differing esoteric arts available within the clan.

On the outside, it had been framed as a means to exchange ideas between clan members, to ponder on the wisdom fellow members had to offer that may help with one's advancement. In reality, the few true powers within the clan knew that, by virtue of losing Haven, they would have to now be responsible for the protection of their homes and lives. The potential battles that were to come could not be fought by a haphazard force of martial artists; controlling the battlefield and knowing the force and capabilities of your troops would be of utmost importance.

Unquestionably, outsiders would find their way to the sect at some point. Beings that had not been graced with the teachings of the Goddess would arrive and seek shelter; the sect could not, and would not, deny them entry. After all, who would say no to a pair of extra hands?

Thus, the plan to form a standardized system of training for said new recruits, along with the invention of the sect's very own core technique to pair along with it, had been put into action. A set hierarchy was created, mainly around the idea that those who had received direct tutelage from the Goddess would form the Inner Sect, leaving everyone else to become Outer Sect members. Of course, it helped that the former tended to be stronger than the latter, although there were some exceptions as well.

Existing clan members were still allowed to practice their own personal techniques, however new members would have to first complete their apprenticeship – which meant going through basic training, education, and learning the clan's core technique. Promotions – and demotions for that matter – would be given according to one's merit within the sect; from anything as simple as completing an errant or quest, to as grand as winning a martial or literary tournament, would be used to calculate said merit, and members could then use it to exchange for rewards with the clan to further their advancement.

And so, Dolsoe had grown up within the clan; with his parents both being Outer Members since the inception of the system, their standard of living could be considered mediocre, neither better nor worse than their peers. Children born within the clan fell in the same category as outsiders, and as such were forced to go through apprenticeship from the age of 10 to 18.

By the age of 17, a whole seven years, Dolsoe spent his life away from his family – apprentices were forbidden from contacting other sect members, as the clan had deemed it detrimental to their development as a functioning clan member. The only exception to this rule had, of course, been their fellow apprentices, as well as their teachers. Well, there was also one other exception: apprentices could exchange letters with their loved ones once a month. During all those grueling, tiring, painful and stressful years, Dolsoe cherished those letters the most; returning from training to find one in front of his door made all that accumulated fatigue disappear in a flash.

He loved reading about his parents' daily lives. His mother had a proclivity to go on and on about all the different gossip she'd talk about with her friends, something that helped him keep in touch with the sect's affairs as a whole pretty well, even isolated as he was. His father, on the other hand, wrote a ton about advancement, any quests that he might have completed – along with all the juicy details around them. He also updated him on the various martial tournaments that would take place, for he knew that, prior to his apprenticeship, Dolsoe had loved attending them as a viewer.

However, as fate would have it, around five years into his apprenticeship, those letters would suddenly stop. For a while – around five months' time - Dolsoe would receive no correspondence from his family. As each month passed, he would grow more and more worried about what happened back home, and the increasing stress upon his psyche slowed down his progress considerably. Alas, quitting the apprenticeship was something unheard of – even the clan head's own direct descendants had to go through with it, there were no exceptions.

Then one day, a new letter would arrive. One could only guess how elated Dolsoe had been to find it, and as such he had swiftly wrenched it open, his eyes devouring its contents. Unfortunately, just as quickly as he read the letter, his face transformed from that one full of excitement to one full of dread and hopelessness. Both his parents had died.

The letter would go on to explain how it had happened; a particular beast native to the Darkwoods had been terrorizing a village near the outskirts of the clan's territory. Several previous Outer members had tried to hunt it down, however they had all never returned. Well, his father had been recruited by an Inner Sect member into a group that would tackle this specific problem; the member in question had been known for the power of his fist techniques and was quite influential within the Inner Circles. He had proclaimed that, under his leadership, they would return triumphant, that they would bring the beast's head for all to witness along with them.

A month past after their departure, and news came back from the outskirts. After the second month, the Elder's Council had organized a second expedition, this time a rescue mission the leader of which had been one of the Elders himself. "They" would return after another month; just the elder would stagger onto the front gates of the sect one day, missing an arm and an eye but holding on to a huge, sharp, curved tooth beneath his armpit. Apparently the beast – a pitch black leopard of enormous proportions – had been slain, but everyone else except the elder had died along with it. A few days later, however, the elder had also succumbed to his injuries and had passed away.

Dolsoe's mother, unable to bear the sheer weight of grief at the loss of her husband, had decided to take her life after just one month of hearing the news. Understandably, Dolsoe had also been devastated by the news; news that, had the letter system not been in place, would have never found their way to him. Only way later would he find out that the sect had to do away with the letter system, as the fallout from several apprentices finding out about their loved ones' deaths had also drove them to suicide.

Dolsoe, too, had contemplated the act numerous times. Then, after a few weeks of bad thoughts stewing in his mind, he'd decided to go through with it. His plan had been simple; numerous martial artists, in their attempt to attain further progress in their martial arts, would go into what had been termed "closed-door" training. During this time, they would isolate themselves in order to attain enlightenment through meditation. This could go on for a long time, years in some cases, depending on the power that said martial artist already possessed.

Sometimes, however, in their fervor to obtain this type of reward, a martial artist would make a mistake during the process, causing the energies coursing within their body to clash, the so called "essence deviation". This most often would result in the death of the practitioner – some deaths being more gruesome than others – but there were also exceptions.

Dolsoe did not plan to be one of those exceptions. He would shut himself inside his room and forcefully induced the essences to clash, leading him to literally explode from within. And he would have gone ahead with it, had it not been for one unexpected variable: the same day that he had chosen to be his last, he had found a new letter waiting for him on his doorstep.

At first he had refused to even pick it up, letting it stay there in front of his door for several hours. Yet the sheer knowledge of the letter's existence slowly eroded the tall walls that fortified his mind, completely shattering his fragile determination. In the evening of that day, he finally decided to read it, his curiosity unable to withstand it.

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Chris488 Doesn't write anymore

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Shared Stories

Desire & Anagnostis

“I’m ready!” Desire proclaimed with restored resolve and vigor, and subtle hesitation, as still visible through a transcendent and illuminating lens which remained unseen were the stretching series of scars upon her otherwise soft skin, such were the eternally lingering symbols from the terrible touch of the Sacred Strings and the strange esoteric ritual that had been performed earlier. She also sensed the scent of gnostic sorcery suffusing the symbols and glyphs upon herself and Sunset Orange, causing her to temporarily contemplate the myriad of mysteries mentioned by the Kathetikon once again.

She had received numerous visions through descending into the depths of the Sea of Shadows and connecting to her various sacred selves scattered throughout the multiversal cosmos, clinging onto their thoughts and memories as she returned to her reality, thus she had discerned much of what she must do next. Her delicate avatar, the divine doll that she had woven together previously, stood nearby and held onto Sunset Orange through the usage of outstretched silvery threads that evidently possessed a modicum of might. The magical marionette sighed to herself as she watched Desire let her mind become muddled with musings repeatedly, even after declaring herself prepared for surfing the Rivers of Mystery.

“I’m worried you’re going to hurt yourself… Couldn’t you wait a little longer?” The pious puppet asked with a pout, and her voice echoed with unease while she continually caressed and cradled the shimmer-board she clung onto in order to soothe herself. The avatar then silently sought aid from her kindred spirit, as she shifted her attention to Anagnostis and expressed her anxiety with a couple of childlike expressions to convey her concern, all directed at the divine author closeby.

Anagnostis caught the empathic impressions readily and their posture subtly shifted, becoming slightly more authoritative than it had before–with the Kathetikon gone, it would have to act in its Master’s stead and it knew that would require some measure of actual authority.

“... well, the Master has granted me access to my full Noetic profile. I can reveal to you that there are some methods of… safeguarding you we might employ, here in the Vault. It is quite possible that should any harm befall you, Desire, we can transfer those wounds to another version of yourself through the Gnostic sigils you possess. We would need a medium and an effigy, though it strikes me that the Sacred String is a perfect medium, and the doll is a perfect effigy. If they were to stay behind, we could ensure with almost complete certainty your safety! I would calculate the odds of success at somewhere around 98.542%, with the small margin of error existing in case the Creatrix herself tries to harm you… but I am quite confident that won’t happen again!” Anagnostis offered, at first going to read the book normally so-close at hand but recoiling to find that it was no longer present. Filaments of cosmic dust wove themselves together at its beck and call, and soon a facsimile had been created that it could leaf through to soothe the sudden anxieties and pressures of actually directing one of the Master’s siblings.

“We could have plenty of fun here, you know… there is a direct link to the Shadow Bazaar here, as well as a number of extremely esoteric tomes. We could learn more about Trading together, perhaps, and inform Desire upon her return!” Anagnostis began, directing its earnest gaze to the Sacred Doll as it spoke.

Desire allowed herself an amused smile as she suddenly appeared beside her avatar, and stood there staring at her conjured companion for what seemed a serene yet ephemeral moment where everything was peacefully still. The goddess gracefully held out her hands, and her divine doll dashed towards her, afterward playfully pulling upon the limb of her mistress as she wrapped it around herself like a scarf, while the other limb of the goddess easily grasped the then given Sunset Orange. The two of them giggled together before turning their attention back to Anagnostis with affirmed grins. “I’d rather not risk it, you know. That said, you’re absolutely right! I’m going to leave little Aletheia here with you while I go where I must. I’ve complete faith in the two of you to manage the library while the rest of us are, umm, away!” Desire declared, shining with resplendent radiance as she spoke and exuded an ever gleeful aura.

The newly named avatar glanced between the goddess that held her, granting her life, and the affable author of the tome that was seemingly the god of knowledge, or at least a god of guiding those towards attaining knowledge. Aletheia bowed her head respectfully, and added cheerfully with accumulating confidence as she spoke: “I’m certain that there is much we’ll learn together. I look forward to studying with you, hehe.”

“I’ll be glad to show you the wonders of the Library, Aletheia! Let’s go and find some of the Odysseia to ride with…” Anagnostis began excitedly, before taking a quill and drawing in the air some of the gnostic sigils from the Kathetikon’s pages. The vastness of the great Vault fell away, the Rivers receded, and what was left in its place was a strange museum of intricately crafted statues. There were clearly scenes sculpted from the Kathetikon’s meetings of all its siblings, beginning at the Apex at the top of the structure–a grand mural displaying the visage of the Creatrix, staring out impassively. They had found themselves next to a number of statues displaying some of the gods–the gold-green radiance of Kaelhmor caught mid-dance as his impossibly fluid and lithe form stood impassively; the Lady of Trade and Shadows suspended while flipping a coin, her face radiating the content expression of a deal well-struck; Myrtu caught mid-dance, a dazzling gleam barely visible in his hooves and the ground.

“Ah, the Master usually makes a little something to remember people by, and to give the denizens of the Library something to marvel at! Many of the denizens lack the noetic fortitude to withstand the true interior of the Vault, so this is the only layer visible to them. It’ll be easier for Desire to focus on the Rivers like this, with her godly perception and all. Why don’t we go outside?” Anagnostis began, offering an outstretched arm of inky blackness for Aletheia to hop onto.

“Have fun!” Desire exclaimed, as she eagerly embarked upon Sunset Orange, the shimmer-board suddenly levitating idly in the sacred space above while she watched the two avatars come together, Aletheia approaching and accepting the tenebrous limbs of Anagnostis with a sincere smile. The time-gliding goddess let out a gleeful giggle before she spoke again, speaking so softly and swiftly that her utterances were almost unheard. “Thank you kindly, knowledgeable God of the Great Library, and Anagnostis the Ardent. I’m freed from the Black Mountain, and once again I can create anew. Ah, I should introduce myself to all of my lost siblings, hehe. I’ve been reborn; Prometheus, the forsaken Flame-Thief, and now I must reopen the Gates of Gehenna to free my kindred. That’s how I’ll atone for my sins, I suppose. I wish to conclude this story after all. Then this is farewell for now…”

As Anagnostis and Aletheia began to escort themselves to the exterior of the magnificent museum of memories, Desire allowed herself another glimpse at two of them, examining each and every detail with her ruby-emerald eyes so that she could paint a perfect picture of them together and remember this scene whenever she was worried about her creation. Afterwards, the sight of the statues, sculptures, and depictions of all her siblings that surrounded her soon reminded her of her purpose. She was no longer afraid, and so she submerged herself in the Sea of Shadows without hesitation, losing sight of her surroundings as she became blinded by the unknown and the fractal secrets of the cosmos. The Hanged One followed the flow of the rivers of manifested mystery along the currents of the mighty multiverse, and surfed swiftly towards her heartfelt chosen destiny, that wondrous thing which she truly desired.

Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Lord Zee
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Lord Zee I lost the game

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Blood & Desire

Old Stories

She had submerged herself in the Sea of Shadows once again, seeking those that she had seen in her strange visions - So Desire surfed swiftly upon Sunset Orange, blinded by the omnipresent blackness surrounding her, but she already ascertained where she must go, and she was no longer afraid. With the shimmering Sacred Strings outstretched connecting her to the cosmos, she reached out to grasp reality above her and easily emerged from where she sailed upon the Rivers of Mystery that had become more and more familiar to her now, arriving at a near approximation of where she wished to arrive: A Lake of Blood and within its crimson depths, in a subterranean palace shrouded in mists, was the Key.

Her shimmer-board glided gently across the sanguine surface, its base softly caressing the crimson liquid as it beckoned whatever awaited far below. Desire gracefully seated herself as Sunset Orange meandered onwards, and she contemplated how to communicate again as her immortal mind still sought to steady and soothe itself after enduring all of the recent stress imposed upon it by trials and initiation. She sighed to herself, staring at her red reflection in the rippling blood with her ruby-emerald eyes, before she spoke then and allowed her voice to reach afar. “Hello! I’m Desire, and I’ve come to speak with you, sister.”

There was no response. Not a whisper. Not even a breeze. The streets were silent. The windows dark. The doorways unwelcoming. The air was stifled, clammy and altogether suffocating. Red roses and white bells stood unopened in the dying of the light, their sweet perfumes hidden by the rich iron of blood that suffused the place entirely.

There was no glory here, no grand decree of entrance. No pomp and circumstance for the divine or any such guest. Just silence and fear, as if something was poised to shatter in an instant. To break upon such a fragile world. To beat it into sounds but naught came. Not even as a trickle of dark liquid came running down the cobbled path that led to the dark palace. It ran thick, turning into a steady stream. The black liquid began to overshoot its bounds and from the stream came offshoots that swept across every facet of path, on and off. Like veins of a beating heart, spreading something that should not have been in that red and white place.

Yet all streams led back to one.

“Hmm…” Desire mused, merely humming to herself before she hastily arose to stand atop her shimmer-board, and then began her dire descent further into the depths and across the muted forsaken realm, slowly sailing upon the ebon streams towards her dour destination as the allure of the mystery ahead compelled her so. As she proceeded onward, she crossed her arms afore her chest and huffed angrily, as it seemed there would be naught else until eventually she finally passed through the gloom-ridden gates and into the interior of the palace.

It was there the liquid was at its fullest. It rolled across steps like a mass of moving ink, blighting the light and devouring it as the palace depths led only into dark. Was it only, perhaps, by chance then that she could hear something. When all else, light, silence, and perception had become as one in that gloom. A sad whimper, the likes of which a pup might make when it sought kin and comfort. Yet it never abated, never paused for breath as a pup might when it was truly lost.

Her gliding board, ever so silent, came to the place the whimpering was loudest as it was quietest. She had passed two statues, defaced and brutalized by something, sat in the liquid for who knows how long. It was there in that center of that pillared room, where the light had faded to a dark crimson, reflected upon a surface of ebony- hunched a creature turned away from Desire. It was large, coated in dark, matted fur. It seemed to be covering its face, slender back rising and falling as it whimpered.

“Show yourself to me.” Desire declared tacitly tenderly in tone to the one that hid herself, as she prepared herself for the fight to come. She held in one hand and wrapped around the wrist; the Sacred Strings which were woven together into an intricate length and latticework of silvery lines, entangled and energized with ethereal strength. In another hand, she held onto the Jade Knife with a reverse-grip poised to strike like the fangs of a serpent - its curved veridian blade sharpened and virginal. Her current stance on Sunset Orange was steady, as she must stay and be balanced for battle - appearing agile and adaptable with knees bent, first foot forward, second foot far back, and a tightening blessed breath that she held infinitely inside her belly.

At the sound of her voice, the creature perked up. Pointed ears, once pressed down, erected as its arms lowered. It was not a whimper that ushered forth but a low, rumbling growl as it turned its head to look at Desire. Or, at least, it looked in her direction. A long, wolfish snout bared sharp teeth, like a cruel smile. Obscuring its eyes was a crimson ribbon, stained with black. It began to fully turn to her, rising to stand upon two feet. It was lithe, small in frame, holding no discernible distinctions of gender. Its fur dripped with blood and Desire could see that its arms held fresh cuts, still dripping with what she now knew could only be blood.

Its heckles began to stand on end as the growling became louder. Its legs twisted and bent, becoming more canid than man and it bent over, glistening claws submerging in its own lifeforce. It snapped at her, face facing in her direction but pointed down, then with an explosion of strength, it came at her, jaws wide.

It was a tale as old as time, the story of the beauty and the beast as they came together once again in the next iteration of the eternal cycle to repeat their triumphs and tragedies endlessly…

Emotionally enraged by the sight of the macabre monster, Desire shrieked in retaliation as she sailed towards her enemy with furious haste and swiftly shapeshifted right before reaching her opponent. Ethereal wings suddenly emerged from her back, an emerald eye upon each and every feather, and she sprouted a long luminous tail of thunderous light behind her that burned bright and scorching hot akin to the sun. She let go of her forged weapons; instead her frenzied fingers became talons and piercing thorns appeared all along her appendages, as the hands of an articulate artist or civilized crafter faded, changing into the crimson claws of a cruel creature. Her ruby-emerald eyes reflected the fierce and feral defiance of the wild and free, as she unleashed her primal savagery in a cacophony of chaotic strikes. She had become a bestial beauty incarnate, incited and seeking to clash and crash.

The wolf met her charge, teeth and claw biting flesh and rending skin as their flurry of blows came together in climatic fashion. Blood sprayed forth with each rasp as neither avoided, nay, welcomed the other with destructive consequence. The fiendish creature sank its teeth into Desire's neck, as it hugged her in a terrible hold, clawing at her wings as the bite strengthened.

The seven-limbed living saint let out a shriek; a soul-shattering song of excruciating sorrow since the shape of her sacred self continued to be ravaged and ruined, butchered by the blood-starved baleful beast she battled - so soon spasms and shrill screams which reverberated with cacophonous suffering surfaced from within her, fervently splashing against their utterly scarred surroundings, vehemently slashing apart the realm with sin-ridden savagery and violence… and then there was the whispering presence of unseen serpents, slowly slithering and hissing as a horrid sickness spread throughout the background of her spiritual being, breaking her from within with insidious subtle strikes while she still fought mindlessly.

Her brilliant-blade of a burning tail reached from behind to batter away at the foul foe that feasted upon her flesh, and her thorn covered talons cut and thrashed against the fiendish claws that caged her throat. Desire had just barely torn herself apart from her assailant, achieving a brief advantage as she lashed out with her luminous limbs of revengeful radiance through their endlessly extending reach. However, her retributive assault already was weakening as her bestial body became more broken while she bled and bled, until she was verily stained across all aspects of her visage with her own viscera. She would never be capable of winning this contest, so it seemed, and yet still she struggled desperately towards victory without regard for the immense amount of harm she sustained along the way.

The wolf demon, caught and pierced by radiance in the chest, arms, legs and abdomen- bled with renewed vigor. It’s breath was haggard now, teeth dripping with her own blood. A great tongue licked at the fresh blood upon those teeth, never wavering even as it trembled. Its growl was guttural now, smile growing sharp. It bounced forward towards Desire, clawed hand outstretched for a blow but its step sank into the blood at its feet, vanishing. All grew quiet in a flash, the liquid slowly returning to glass in that dim light. There was no movement, no ripples to indicate where her foe had gone but this was certain- It had not left.

Desire flailed frantically, attempting to ascertain where the enemy would emerge from as her ruby-emerald eyes peered all around her hastily. She looked for a long time in a held moment stretched to its limitations, but she could not see into the ebony sea at all. When her sight failed, direction was lost, and all of her attacks had become aimless as a result. When direction is lost, purpose may be forgotten, and Desire became more and more bestial as a result. When purpose was forgotten, emotions ruled alone, and so she stumbled and slipped, like a rose plucked prematurely and deprived of its thorns - its protection. When emotion rules alone, annihilation… annihilation. Out of control, with a rush of anger, Desire delved into the unknown, kneeling down before she sank her head beneath the surface of the blood-stained floor.

It was there all sense of stability left her and the blood, like vicious hands, began to drag her down into depths unknown. The floor had given way, if there had ever been a floor, to a blood filled abyss. It choked sight, slowed the body, flooded the soul. But it did do one thing in excess over all others- it turned anger into rage and that rage could be funneled into wrath. Something heavy hit her, sharp claws raking her from behind. Next it bit into her leg and then it plowed into her arm. It crushed, clawed, bit- all in an attempt to destroy her.

It is commonly known that those that were drowning could cause those that try to rescue them to die as well… Desire was drowning in her despair, plunging into the demonic throes of mindless panic: Pain. Pain. Pain. The dark depths of desired destruction seemed an endless abyss of torment to her, and all she could do was welcome the torture… accept the agony and smile at her demise. Split and sundered, Desire watched while she was broken apart by Blood & Beauty, and she felt a semblance of content. Though her arm and leg were lost, she allowed herself to become immersed in all of the sensations surrounding her, and she inhaled the scent of her opponent.

It seemed as though the blind were leading the blind before her, and Desire did not know why she was stricken with severe laughter all of a sudden. She failed to see a solution to this fight, and wondered whether she would ever see her siblings again… whether she would be able to reunite with her family after all of this. Something spoke to her then - a voice reaching out towards her with a hand outstretched, but perhaps this was simply a hallucination induced by too much stimulation…

“AHH!!!” She screamed to herself, voice echoing with agony and abandonment, shaking with anguish, as the grief of a goddess swelled from within her. Dragged to the deprived depths of doom, descending further and further until she had reached her lowest point - that was when she was open to the greatest change. The mantle of the monster did not belong upon her, the Hanged One, thus she cast aside her hatred and savagery, then donned the prior presence she possessed before with the hands of an artisan, an architect, a crafter… she was a source of sacred sustenance, after all. A celestial seed containing the infinite energies of creation.

She suddenly called upon her cosmic powers, mustering as much Might as she still held onto so that she could hang onto herself and the one whomst heart bled with black ichor. Her arm and leg returned to her, restored by the Bracers of Belonging, and with her Sacred Strings, she began the arduous step of retrieving herself and her sister from the sea in which they found themselves adrift. “I will save you, just hang onto me!!!” She shouted fervently again and again through telepathy directed towards the other deity, struggling to pull both of themselves upwards.

If there was any sign her words were heard, nevertheless understood, it became apparent that the blood had begun to warm, then boil and it wasn’t stopping. The heat was rising and only then did the wolf make herself apparent. She collided with Desire, wrapping two hands around her throat as she roared in the face of her savior. Her maw went to wrap itself around the Goddesses’ head as she squeezed her throat.

The boiling blood could not harm her, nor did it darken her desire to save her sister. With the hand of Hanged One holding onto her, Desire guided the Sacred Strings, weaving a myriad of strands to reinforce the structure of her shape, and to continue the ascent while clinging onto the wounded wolf. Her heart was strengthened by sympathy, and she found herself becoming better at engaging her once-enemy; her movements were swift and sudden, pushing and avoiding the savage strikes of the prowler - its prey dancing in the face of darkness and death, for it had survived the Sea of Shadows, and came back with newfound purpose.

Shimmering silvery serpents emerged from the healthy skin of the Hanged One, and entwined their slender forms around the two deities, trapping them together so that they would share their sorrow and suffering. Desire softly slapped away the demented demon that threatened her, perceiving the truth of their familial connection through the spiritual chains she forged and from her dualistic perspective. Thus their bodies were bound beside each other, and they were held face to face while they were raised higher and higher.

Then the Jade Knife descended upon the both of them, its viridian blade piercing their bodies again and again, but instead of being a weapon forged for bloodshed, it was a remedial relic used to heal those that had been hurt. The divine dagger restored what was lost, returning the vigor spent in all of the previous blows during this battle, and Desire shifted closer to her trapped sister and chanted. “Come back to me, my beautiful wife - I love you so!”

As the wolf grew stronger, so did the anger in its blood and the wrath in its heart. It whipped into a frenzy, uncontrollable as it caught and ripped out the Jade Knife before holding it tight. With her other hand she intertwined the The Serpentine Chains and bit into them in a vain attempt to break their grasp. As this failed, the infectious bite of the Wolf Demon corrupted the chains. Added to such sensations as love and sorrow came only pain and wrath, darkening the scales of the serpents. The she-wolf howled at last, chain still in her mouth, as it morphed into a harrowing scream and quite suddenly she tore herself free from Desire and the chains embrace.

In a blink, Desire, her chains and the dagger fell upon a solid floor. The blood was gone and laying near was the pale body of a Goddess, turned away from her and clad in nothing but fresh crimson.

“We have to hold onto the memories of the ones we love, my beloved.” The Hanged One murmured, stepping closer - heart beating with blessed blood that yearned to be with Wyn. After the ritual, rigorously retrieved from the Sea of Shadows was a soothing scene, a vision of an old man and an ancient world, and a promise that was made more stronger than any artifact or monument. The divine doll upon the strings of fate that was named Desire now spoke softly as she kneeled beside a broken soul whom she sought to bring back to what was sacred… “I’ve returned to you, my missing heart. Please… Let us speak to each other once more. Let us feel love finally. Ask yourself again - what is it you desire?”

“Uwné…” she murmured, stirring. “Uwné…?” her voice rose and she pushed her torso up from the stone to turn around. “Uwné!” She breathed with excitement, a large smile growing on her face. The ribbon, once having clung tight, now fell silently to reveal her pale eyes that did not see. It was then she paused, looking first at Desire, then past her. She gasped all at once and crawled backwards, shaking her head frantically. “You aren’t h-him. You’re not h-him. You aren’t. He’s gone. I b-betrayed… This isn’t r-real.” Her voice broke, crimson tears falling from her eyes, staining her perfect face. “This is my p-punishment. I’m sorry. I’m so s-sorry.” She cried, grabbing her head.

“Don’t be afraid…” Desire crooned in an angelic voice as she continued to come closer, until she had suddenly kneeled beside the crying goddess of blood and was cradling her with compassion, speaking solace into Wyn’s ears while she caressed her cheeks in a sweet embrace, internally lamenting the fact that she lacked even a clean bathhouse to provide her partner. “I’ve returned, Wyn, because we are divine beings. We can overcome death, and defeat the devil that has trapped us - there’s no need for punishment so please forgive yourself. We can be happy… I will make it so. You know I would do anything for you, my darling. I’m praying now that you believe me, like I believe in you.”

Wyn trembled at the touch, turning her head away from Desire, not wishing her face to be touched yet she made no move to leave. She continued to cry in a pitiful way, unable to cease, unable to get a hold of herself. “S-Stop this,” She pleaded at last, “My Husband… I-I believe y-you are not him. H-He did not love me when I broke his heart. When I-I tried to destroy everything he had built. T-That was the day resentment blossomed. The l-last thing I saw was his face, it was not out of love I looked but out of vanity. When h-he made no move to help me… I screamed and cursed and joined oblivion. The last thing he ever saw was the real me. Not the one he wanted, the one I pretended to be, but the monster.” It was then, with her truth released that she did get a hold of herself, at least somewhat. This time it was Wyn who put her hand upon Desire’s face, feeling its features. She did not look at the Goddess. “Oh…,” She breathed, “I am sorry Uwné, you deserved far better. Now please, If I am allowed to desire anything, I wish to hear you as were, not as someone you never have been.” She spoke to Desire.

In the realm of otherworldly blood, even a deity could bleed as though they were a mortal, and Desire winced with the agony of a broken heart that had yet to be healed. The desperate words of Wyn hurt her far worse than any vicious wound upon her body, but she could only endure the excruciating experience of listening as she lacked any other form of shield or protection to ward away that which she did not wish to hear. “I am Wyn, alone and afraid, blinded by regret. I fear the future, and lament the past - trapped in time to be tortured for eternity. I am ashamed of my love, and I flee from it.”

Then from beneath both Desire and Wyn emerged Sunset Orange, its oblong shape slightly lifting the two together from the floor and levitating in place smoothly afterwards. All of the artifacts that belonged to Desire returned to her; the Jade Knife vanishing amidst a wave of sparkling light, and the Serpentine Chains splitting apart as some snakes slithered back into the skin of the Hanged One, while others arranged themselves into a specific shape and became a sturdy staff with ophidian designs. “I have many, many, names - though you can call me Prometheus once again, if you wish. I have come to do what I must now, and so I ask; will you aid me, please?”

Wyn, still wincing from her words, dipped her head. “Perhaps you are right.” She said, disentangling from Desire and touching down onto the stone, where she almost fell. “I am many things and I do have regrets but they are mine and mine alone. Delusional is a word I will not use to describe myself but one I can give you aptly. I know not what you need nor if it has any bounds within the realm of possibility. Yet, I shall ask anyway, for it is only right to know. So what is it?”

“Three tasks… I would ask you to do...” Desire murmured, as her mind seemed to shift and see something afar, a myriad of visions shared from submerging herself in the sea of shadows all scattering across her sight. The shifting symbols upon her decorated shimmer-board began to dance along its length and leap onto the divine body of its rider, suffusing her with the sacred scent of sorcery as she spoke and cast a spell:

“The first task is the easiest, as I would ask you to divest as much of your Might wholeheartedly into an artifact of beauty - a Black Mirror. The second task is more difficult, but it must be done… I ask that you travel to the fair realm of the Warrior, and form an alliance with her as she would not speak with me as I am now. This must be done, or our doom will find us. Lastly, the third and most challenging task; I ask that you begin to believe in yourself once more, as you have forsaken your divinity, and now you must remember who you are.”

Wyn slowly gathered herself, resting her hands around her waist and dipping her head so that her nose pointed to the ground. “Divinity forsaken… Now wouldn’t that be something.” She mumbled with a bitter note. “You speak of doom as the necessity for these tasks, yet you dance around it. What doom will find us? Why should I do these tasks for you? If this warrior is Celestine then I must inform you that I am not on good terms with her. Unless you mean someone else?” She asked, “Honestly, the more I think about these things, the more vague they become.”

Desire sailed upon Sunset Orange as though she were simply sauntering around, circling the goddess of the crimson essence with an amused glance at her demure appearance, a friendly fondness mingling with playful pleasure glittering in the two-toned gemstones that were her ruby-emerald eyes. Audible reverence resonated within her heart, singing happily in the presence of the one whom possessed the other half, so close now. “I do dance… Does this displease you?” She asked, and a mischievous echo was heard in her melodious voice as she hovered next to Wyn with the shadow of a smile upon her lips.

“Our doom; the silenced song, the dance of death and despair! To be separated from the sacred source of infinite energy and creation… to be trapped in eternal solitude, all alone forever… I ask you to do these tasks so that we may transcend the boundaries beyond conventional tradition and stagnating schools of thought, hehe… No, I ask you to do these tasks so that we can be together again! Hmm… I do not know this Celestine you speak of, I have simply seen a towering beauty wielding a sword and shield, adorned in armor, and standing afore a doorway that we should go through to restore what was lost… Though I would be willing to seek another potential path, if an alternative should be more enticing.”

"You wish to be together with me?" Wyn asked with a sound akin to disbelief. Abruptly she shook her head and her hands balled into fists. Her face scrunched up and it looked as if she was about to regress to anger but the Goddess took a deep breath. "You make no sense whatsoever." She huffed, then crossed her arms. "What is it you really want from me? Your vibrant blood speaks of things I know well. Violence. Love. Beauty. Abuse. You speak in riddles yet the truth is made bare…" Her eyes widened, "Oh. The real you seeks the unattainable. An insanity, but it happened before… You were there." Her words faded away.

“I prefer the word, outsanity, hehe.” Desire whispered with soothed yearning, as a small stream of tears emerged from her exotic-enigmatic eyes, slowly caressing her cheeks before falling to blend with the realm of blood. Her hand hesitantly reached outwards to touch Wyn again, and in an almost meek motion much was conveyed - she sought sacred consent from the one whom she loved. Seen so clearly in her reflective heterochromia coming closer; the deep and desperate devotion towards the truth that was hidden, to the connection she had lost long ago. It was the want to be whole again… something so many had forgotten in the endless time of bloodshed and betrayal, ever-repeating brutality dominating beauty instead of having balance.

Wyn fumbled for words. "This is… I don't… You aren't…" A raspy sigh escaped her lips and without seeing Desire, she leaned forward and rested her forehead upon hers. "My engagement ring, what was it made of?"

Desire hummed to herself, having summoned the scene prior and already aware of the adamantite used in the shaping of the ring, so intricately sculpted with six simulacrums of the goddess of beauty, shifting and merging with each other as they upheld the perfect jewel - a piece of beauty only born because of their sacred connection. Desire began to describe the resplendent ring, and its gleaming gemstone which shone with supernatural purity, and she slowly concluded her speech with the moment she had the utmost pleasure thought to be unattainable when she placed the ring upon the finger of the one she loved, and she laughed.
Another raspy breath escaped Wyn. “And what… Was the reward given before I bid you farewell for three centuries?” She whispered.

Desire closed her eyes, embracing the memory that had eluded erasure when even the whole world was wasted away and swallowed by the Sea of Shadows. She remembered and refused to forget, hanging onto that vision regardless of the suffering she endured throughout an enforced sentence of eternal solitude. The thoughts of that tender touch between two lips had kept her alive with ardent tenacity, and now she was finally free to be with whom held her heart. Her hands reached behind the Eternal Beauty, and she brought her beloved close to her before kissing her gently.

Wyn returned the kiss with tenderness. She leaned away, breath heavy now, “Delusional.” She said, before returning her lips to Desire. It started, like a dam being broken, a soft start before the roar. Wyn was no different and quickly the two slid to the floor in certain bliss.

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Chris488 Doesn't write anymore

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The Beginning of Turn VIII

Where Are We Going?

In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn…

Hidden 6 mos ago Post by DX3214
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DX3214 God-like Cyborg

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made during grace period in turn 7



The malignancy is a scar on the surface of the world in the steppes caused by the birth of Oa’qeisskesi. Marked by the constant eruption of a supervolcano tainted partially by abyssal corruption that stains the land around it, almost no life can survive venturing the hot, ash and toxic field air of the area. Walking amongst the ash fields was Oa looking around her first place of origin in this new world. She showed a bit more of a curious look around where she started wandering through the ash field for a long while. The land was dotted with lava rivers, burned husks of trees, or even skeleton carcassess she walked forward until nothing seemed to remain besides just ash. She could hear the black sun say to her “Back to where we all began this journey…” “It wasn't much of a journey…” Oa talked while looking around the scorched land walking up a hill where lava flowed from. The sun talked floating beside her “Wasn't it? We marched across the west coast of this continent and the east coast back to where we began a full circle.” “Felt short.” Oa said, stopping as she stayed at the edge of the mouth of the super volcano. It was a giant lava lake spewing volcanic material and smoke “almost feels like home…” She said sitting down. Her feet touching the volcanic fire barely burning and just leaving scorch marks reminiscing about the past. The black sun seemed to sit beside her or just float a little above ground. Both stood still seeing the fire, he then said “Remember how good things were back then?” “It wasn't that long ago you know” Oa said to him turning to him he soon replied “Yes a fair point time works differently… should we pluck base here?” Oa seemed hesitant thinking a bit. The Sun seemed to sigh saying “Our family needs us and you know that” She groaned thinking he soon floated in front of her before saying “I also depend on you… even if our relationship is odd…” He chuckled as she sighed giving a bit of a nod towards the situation.

Looking down below she soon jumped into the caldera swimming deep into the magma chamber passing through the burning magma she soon eyed a passage that led to the underground continents talking letting bubbles rise she said. “Of Course i gotta worry about that as well…” The sun followed her saying “better for later…” She gave a nod swimming until the inner magnma chamber looking up her vision could notice the magma chamber had several exits into the surface leading into many volcanoes instead of just the main one. Looking up her vision pierced past the magma chamber and into the clouds thinking on what to do. The storm clouds above annoyed focusing more so she could see through them, even seeing the stars above, making her calm seeing the stellar veil of above. While laying in the central magma chamber she felt more calm probably it was here where all began or probably a bit more above. Floating in the middle she blinked once before extending and pulling her hands, the magma stopping flowing as the upper magma chamber started changing the volcano, doing one final massive explosion of lava and before the smoke suddenly stopped being made the rivers of lava stopped flowing inside the volcano the magma seemed to drain before ending in a crystalised surface of obsidian smoking as the last of the lava flowed down through a few holes they soon were sealed a few caves even cleared out remains of the volcanic chamber while just of the volcano above and not the whole magma chamber bellow Oa’qeisskesi. Used her energy pulling four bridges from rock to land on top standing in the four way path of the thin bridge standing over the massive crater she then said “Has been a long time i needed to do this”

Piercing her hand they soon started leaking a large flood of black liquid of abyssal water. The area felt a massive burst of abyssal corruption, the land glowing partially purple. As the massive dark sea began to rise the glow of the dark sun at its center could be seen lightly through the darkness but one thing could be seen by anyone, almost a thousand white eyes could be peaked as the water raised finally stopping at the edge of the bridge. The water was quite close to her feet and with effort she raised her arms as large pillars emerged from the water made out black oily stone, being the foundations for something she also planned, using her powers she constructed her realm to be not just the abyssal gate but also a palace, moving stone, rock and fire. From the crater it began to be erected a great palace standing on top of the abyssal sea’s gate, beneath the initial flat structure before being expanded and on it rose more like a palace in the Malignancy. Rising from the hills and volcanic mountains growing taller as a structure obscuring the tallest mountain in the region in size, its base large and strong, made out of many rooms, a palace in great name that all kings would envy, its structure was black as its stone was colored like it but also gray for it was mixed with metals from the magma to aid it on its defense. At the same time the windows of the great palace were blue and purple giving a strange and alien glow at the sunset and even night as it stood tall in the land. Its center began to grow thinner as it grew upwards and upwards into the heavens, losing many of its towers before its top finally was a single tower that grew. Passing through the cloud layer as the final metal bar was put it finally finished its flat top akin to an observation tower that could be used to see anywhere in the entire region and beyond. But for Oa it was the setting sun that appealed more to her in the moment as she finished creating her realm sighing she walked down a set of stairs that opened leading bellow to a personal room she made once bellow she looked through the windows seeing the sun set in through the horizon looking over it she sighed sitting to calm down and contemplate.

Standing seeing the rising night she thought of her encounters, some were dangerous, some were fine. But what if others came in less than amicable terms she did think of that but thought she could deal with it. Some doubt crept into her mind as she thought she gave herself a nod. This was one of the few times where her decisions were hers using the remaining energy she had she used abyssal energies creating a seal that would hide her divine energy from gods around her making her hidden except if they were very close to her. The hot and moldable liquid soon turned red as it floated in her hand as she forged it as it cooled into a red wax seal with a blacksun at its center but also something else at the center of the sun hidden and difficult to see was a heart and a mind. Giving a nod stuck it to her clothes, it got warm as it glued to her. Rising up she then said “time for some rest…”

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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Penumbra and Pyrrha

Duality and Deals

The ill-fated mission ended the group thought as George and Custosa offered themselves to travel back to Shadowville to deliver the body. Of course, Penumbra had to continue their quest. They had to fulfill the divine quest that the Lady of the Swift Trade and Shadows issued.

Weeks passed as they walked and walked on. Alone now, their quest became insanely hard. Dangers lurked at every corner even as they put the Lightwoods in the rear view. They checked from time to time in with Custosa using the Shadow Bazaar as a way to communicate and they indeed managed to get Dahm back where he received a hero’s funeral. Alas’ the others were too far away and weary from their travels to join Penumbra, nor they wanted them back.

After all, it was their quest. Their burden to bear. Their life should’ve been the only one in danger, yet they brought others in and now one of them lay dead. Taken far too soon from this world. Too soon their song ended and so, they walked. Sleeping where they could, traveling to the Bazaar for a while for a safe place to sleep but soon even that proved impossible as the costs to travel in the Bazaar kept growing and growing with each use for them.

Eventually, after even more weeks, they passed the desert and walked on. The desert city proved to be as treacherous as expected based on rumors they heard from the occasional traveler and so, they avoided it. Moving forward they passed it and eventually reached the Dead Steppe. The place of Oa’s birth. Long has Penumbra heard rumors about that area and the monsters that existed in the place. The Lady herself warned them to go around that area if possible, not for any care for their wellbeing but more because she didn’t want to give Oa reasons to attack.

One night, as they lit a fire and set up their tent, Penumbra was close to sleep. Surrounded from behind by mountains, they were alone. Nothing could be seen nor heard. The area gave them the feel of a grave. Inviting them to sleep and never wake up. Tired from their journey, they almost didn’t feel the energy approaching them. A divine was close and that could mean one thing. Danger.

Silently sailing upon a sculpted shard of the starlit night, and swiftly surfing across the shadowy sky along streams of light, a red-haired goddess descended from above to arrive suddenly within the area of the solitary shelter of Penumbra. Afore coming to a halt soon afterwards; she announced her sacred presence with waves of wondrous radiance splashing in all directions, washing away the scent of sorrow as strength and shimmering spirit suffused their surroundings with colors - seeping into the land which began to thrum and glisten akin to a myriad of glittering gemstones dancing beneath sunshine - all while she was also accompanied by the soothing song of a serene melody that wandered from somewhere unseen to this site.

As soon as they felt the divine presence, Penumbra stood up from the ground with a tiny groan. While not having bones like most mortals, they still felt the exhaustion. The pain in their back from injuries that now seemed from ages ago but were actually only days, maybe weeks. Penumbra lost track in the desert and stopped counting.

The music made them forget for a moment about their pain. Only a moment before they shook their head. This was divine being. If it wanted to kill them, they would've already but what if it was just a ploy?

Creating two legs below them and transforming their arms into blades, Penumbra rose their voice and said, in a calm but firm voice " I am the chosen Champion of the Lady of Swift Trading and Shadows. I am under her protection. Know now that harming me means harming the Goddess but if you wish to trade or talk, come forth without fear. "

“I’m Pyrrha, a friend of Ashevelen, hehe. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Let’s speak!” The newcomer replied, surfing closer so that she sailed directly overhead and was in clear view of the Umbra, to be seen without holding weapons or showing hostility. She held up a hand, and revealed a black coin which she tossed and flipped in the air again and again, as she smiled at Penumbra.

Penumbra quickly changed their stance. The blades turned into hands and they nodded towards the Goddess in front of them. A look at the coin said it all. She was indeed friendly and knew Ashevelen.

"Friends of the Lady are always welcome. I wish I could offer you something to drink, alas I used all my water in the desert. But, more than happy to share the meat of this strange animal I caught. " continued Penumbra as they took out from inside themselves some rats native to the Steppe. Different than the usual ones they'd see in the Umbral Woods.

Pyrrha chuckled as she leapt from her strange sliver of darkness and alighted aside the warm fire wherein she seated herself comfortably. With gentle grace, she crossed her legs and clapped her hands with simple delight before she spoke. “I accept your generous gift, thank you kindly.” Her voice and visage exuded a combination of compassion and curiosity, poised with ruby-emerald eyes enkindled like sacred stars, staring at Penumbra - awaiting the shared refection of a rat.

Penumbra made a knife of their fingers and quickly cut a few slices of the rat, making sure the divine was getting the bigger pieces while only a tiny bit was left for them. Enough not to go hungry.

" There you go. It ain't the best I ate and many apologies this isn't a worthy meal for a divine such as yourself but there isn't much food to be found around here. Better than nothing. " said Penumbra as they handed the meat over. Their voice was obviously tired and their eyes were heavy. Shaking their head, as if to dispel the tiredness, they looked upon the divine. Admiring her clothing and power that was radiating from her.

Pyrrha hummed to herself while she held her puny pieces of sliced rodent in her hands, measuring the meat upon her palms as though she were ascertaining its apparent value with weight and texture. The wind began to whisper, the bittersweet scent of sorcery wafting throughout the world as the threads of the tapestry were woven anew. Dark and dancing glyphs appeared; a series of shifting symbols spreading across the skin of the sacred maiden as she cast a spell. She cupped the small and severed sections of the slain creature within her hands, and chanted:

“We send our lost ones to the land of light, to the tranquil trees of the god-grove…”

“We give our dead to life; thoughts and memories, within us they shall live…”

Afterwards, she opened her palms to reveal the rat, restored whole once more to the world with divine might, and it softly queaked as it shook and stared all around with surprise, then chirped with content while the red-haired goddess gently caressed its furry cheeks. The residual traces of sorcery receded; the glyphs of the Gnosis were gone and the whispering wind had went on its way, though the one known as Pyrrha still subtly shimmered with sacred power.

Penumbra’s senses flared as magic was used by the divine in front of them. Their body already preparing to attack, useless as it might've been. For fighting against a divine being was impossible but they weren't one to lay down and die. Whatever happened would've happened no matter what they would do, so, why not give as good as they could.

But it was all for naught as the divine started singing and glyphs appeared on the divine. Suddenly, everything ended as fast as it happened. Their senses now freed up from the strain of divine magic, Penumbra noticed the rat. Brought back to life, healed up by divine magic as if it was nothing.

Impressive magic, O’ blessed divine. So, it is true. Mortals can be brought back to life with your power. Is there a way I could learn magic like this? I wish not to bother the Lady of Swift Trade and Shadows, praised be her name, with something like this. ” said Penumbra as their hand extended from their body, reaching over to the rat, petting it on the head gently.

“Hmm… why do you wish to avoid asking the goddess that gave you life? Surely she’d have blessed or shall soon bless you with such knowledge, hehe.” Pyrrha pleasantly purred after Penumbra’s act of acceptance, as she then embraced the revived rat, before sealing her eyes when she began to silently weep with wondrous serenity. The trickle of tears that trailed from her fair features to the foundation of her face fell from her onto the rodent like a sporadic silvery rain. Without word or warning, she snapped the small throat of the one she saved, and the touch of death swiftly reclaimed what was temporarily relieved from its grave grasp.

Then emerging from her hands, suddenly sprouting from her palms; came forked tongues of green flame that consumed the carried corpse - greedily and grotesque. Pyrrha cried no longer as she opened her ruby-emerald eyes, though sorrow still shimmered in her haunted gaze so similar to the sparkling stars shining in the vast shroud of the night sky. She had seen the secrets of the cosmos, the cradle of celestial light concealed beneath the sea of shadows. Glittering like gemstones, she set her sacred sight upon Penumbra and peered deeply into the depths of their being, awaiting an answer to another mystery altogether.

Penumbra just stared at the divine as it killed the rat they just resurrected with amazement but at the same time mild resentment. Giving a creature the gift of life the second time only to take it away again as fast as it was given was something they couldn't understand, nor accept. But such was the way of divine beings, playing with life as if it was nothing but a toy. Maybe it was their tiredness, their weariness of travel but such thoughts ran through their mind constantly the past days, even more so now.

" Everything has a price for the Lady. Resurrection magic is knowledge that would cost more than I've got to give or wish to give. Maybe after I finally finish this journey I'll be able to trade for it or maybe I'll die and such wishes will fade. You still haven't answered my question. Sister of the Goddess. Is this something I could learn on my own? " replied Penumbra with a bit of resentment creeping into their voice.

Pyrrha tilted her head, curious like a cat. “You’re not on your own - not now at least. The shape of your self continues to expand, including your mind and spirit, giving you greater strength. Yes! Soon you’ll see with clarity, and comprehend all that the cosmos has to share with you. You’re seeking afar, as you already know the truth of the answers that await you…”

The Umbra champion stood up in a rush. Anger clear as daylight on their face. Tiny spikes forming themselves on their shoulders.
" You divines speak in riddles on and on. Never giving a straight answer. What's the use of all your knowledge if you don't share it with your creations? What's the use of your power if you don't do anything with it but play with mortals? " half-yelled Penumbra at the divine before taking a deep breath and turned towards Pyrrha, looking her straight into the eye.

" I know the answer, yes. Death awaits me. None can escape it. Not even divines. No matter what magic you use or power, we all die and the peaceful embrace of death is all we'll know. With any luck, I'll be long gone when it will be your kin's turn."

The grim proclamation and anger of Penumbra was pursued with a predatory stare from Pyrrha; singing embers in her eyes, the prominent gleam of pale and pointed teeth as she grinned at the standing speaker, gnostic glyphs manifested, and then the fiery maiden moved with sudden haste, hovering face to face with the fuming umbra as she asked with fierce words uttered upon a forked tongue: “Will you forever be a victim? Will you perpetually stay as a toy to play with? Will you eternally remain my prey?”

Her hands grasped the shoulders of shadow, spike-sprouted and sharp, yet she held firm with ferocious strength. The pulse of otherworldly power resonated from the strange relic she rode upon, as she and the surf-shard suddenly exuded an immense amount of divine influence - intoxicating - an abundance alerting all of the senses Penumbra had been blessed with prior. The passage of time became trapped, as flames ceased flickering and the wind went silent, though the two of them still stirred in the solitude of an isolated site, seemingly separated from their surroundings.

There was no fear in Penumbra’s eyes as they stared the divine in the eyes. Only resolution. Firm and strong. Nothing else mattered in that moment. Only the power of their beliefs.

Pyrrha mocked them as they expected. What else could a divine do when a creation is talking back to them? What came next almost made them fall on their knees. If not for the divine's strong grip, they would've surely fell. The assault of magical energy was overwhelming even for the strongest mortals.

With a mighty yell, Penumbra gathered their strength. " I am not a toy. Never a victim. I am Penumbra. Champion of the Umbra. Strongest of their kind. I fear none! No matter how strong you are. No matter how powerful you think you are. In me, you'll find a worthy adversary. I AM NOT A TOY! "

Their resolve turned into power and while they knew it was useless to match the strength of a divine, Penumbra took Pyrrha’s hands into their own and tried to break her grip from them.

From the fiery maiden, searing pain surged from the palm of one side, as soothing peace surged from the palm of the other side, and Penumbra was wrecked by savage strength similar to the weight of the world pulling apart and pushing all together. Pyrrha spoke softly as she sailed simultaneously upwards and downwards with Penumbra, piercing the deep earth and ascending towards the heavens. “A phoenix burns before it rises from the ashes.” Split apart into two pieces, two perspectives through which the two of them could see and comprehend:

Beyond the cloud-covered sky…

Beyond the cloud-covered sky, so akin to a blanket of absolute blackness laid upon a sleeping world, coming closer and closer, as a thousand, thousand, thousand stars became curious and clear with the childlike intent of communicating. They danced and sang, all ignited with inspiration, burning bright before becoming cold, changing and then being born anew, but beyond the reach of the two that could only see the cycle repeating itself. Life and death, again and again, as there exists endless energies that the cosmos will create and annihilate. Pyrrha pushed Penumbra from the shard of shimmering light they stood upon, into the vast void where the infinite celestial children watched what they would do with wonder - whether the champion would sink or swim…

“Belief is just the beginning. You mustn't be afraid, and act! To explore the open and immense realm of our inner selves!” Pyrrha cried out to the champion as they drifted apart, and Penumbra was washed away from all that was familiar. The difference between the fathomless depths of the darkness in this divine domain - its stretched silence and endless emptiness - and the solid sensations of sacred shadows within the world woven by Ashevelen - trading the thread of the tapestry together - the contrast allowed one a defining glimpse into the hidden heart of a goddess and an understanding of that which was unknown. A chance to change and be curious with newfound nascent knowledge if noetic conviction prevails.

Penumbra’s struggle was useless and they knew it. Pain wrecked through their body and nothing, absolutely nothing could make them not feel it. A stray thought, somewhere in the pain, told them to call upon the Lady, pray to her for salvation but that thought was quickly dismissed. The Lady will answer the call whenever she wishes to, irrelevant of their wishes. Their desire. Their struggle. Nothing could stop this and in a way, if this is how death felt, they were at peace. They were alright with it.

An impossible thing happened, Penumbra smiled as they were pushed to the extreme. Smiled as they were thrown into the void. Celestials looking upon their naked form. Seeing them and through them as if they were nothing and nothing they were against these powers.

With a deep-genuine laugh, Penumbra looked at the celestials and from their body, tiny shapes of shadows appeared and took the form of puppets that started to dance.

If you want a show. Let me give you one. Laugh if you want. I care not. ” the words sounded strange-alien to them but that didn’t stop Penumbra.

And a show they gave them. The show would’ve been later called “The Journey” and the puppets, 3 of them, went on through shadowy woods, fighting off bandits. The occasional slap-stick comedy would happen, then they went through the lightwoods. Dinosaurs, monsters and plants. Everything they went through, even the final battle against the Mind Pod where Dahm, the hero of this story dies to save their friends. Accompanying the puppet show, Penumbra acted as a narrator, explaining everything that happened.

As Dahm fell, the story changed. No longer light and full of humor but a dark story, the Penumbra shadow grew big and strong. Fighting off desert creatures and other imaginary monsters, until finally meeting the Pyrrha but something was changed in the way they were portrayed, as if while Penumbra grew, something in them shrinked…and then it ended. Penumbra smiled gently and a single tear fell from their eyes.

“Don’t let go!”

Piercing the veil of the vast void, sacred silvery strings stretched forth from the shadows and silence, swiftly reaching towards the peculiar prison of Penumbra - their stray sailing shape - and then the goddess grasped them. The strings softly pulled Penumbra towards the sight of the sacred shimmer-board, the tender threads supervised by the transcendent touch of Pyrrha, bringing both parties together. Seated upon the shoulder of the deity, the familiar face of the death-defiant rodent stared at Penumbra with sincere sympathy.

Below the crust contained surface…

Below the crust contained surface, breaking apart bedrock and delving into the deepest darkest dungeon buried beneath the black core between walls of cursed iron and malice-manifested magma, they descended so upon the shining shard suffused with shadows Penumbra perceived and sensed as the powers of Ashevelen. They swiftly seeped through the small cracks and crevices, soft and steady, until the unseen and unheard song of the chthonic children reached them. The concealed choir performed in an immense cavern wherein a civilization of crystal seeds sown and sealed together with radiant roots were resting before being revealed to the traveling/descending duo. They were welcomed by a wondrous arrangement of animated artistry which awaited them.

“The darkness and the light are defined through the duality of one and another. The two continually shape and shift, command and change, love and loathe, embodying each other in an endless embrace. However, I wonder whether the one without another could endure an eternity always alone? Imagine how insane and painful it would be…”

A pensive Pyrrha peered at Penumbra after posing the concept, and crossed her arms across her chest as she shivered. Shaking, she silently announced the arrival of the cruel cold as it sank its chill fangs into the much more frail flesh of the champion. The subterranean choir continued their chant, calling upon primordial powers to pry the inner fire from the form of the faithful maiden. Fiendish frost formed on the suspended shimmer-board that Pyrrha and Penumbra stood upon, their journey halted as they hovered over the crowd of crystals beckoning both of them to jump and join the candescent circle below.

The Champion looked upon the visage posed by Pyrrha with a strange look upon their face. Realization of unspoken truths. Their hatred was slowly being replaced with something else. Something different. An understanding of something they never realized before. There’s duality in everything, exactly as the Goddess tried to teach. One cannot exist without the other.

Realization struck Penumbra once more and from the fire that burned within the divine. There was shadow in everything, same as the Lady taught but there’s also light. Somehow that was something they never understood. The thought never crossed their mind. There can be no shadows without light. That shook them to their core. Nothing could be done with that knowledge yet but later. Later things will be differ–

Grrr!! ” a growl escaped Penumbra as the cold fangs bit entered the Champion’s form, stopping their line of internal conceptualization.

With a deep breath, Penumbra created wings of shadow on their back and jumped downwards. The wings couldn’t be used to fly but it will soften the fall.

Soon crystals cracked, the simmering shards split and sundered, then spilling forth from the fragments, from the shattered collective, came crimson fluids of the cruel flood to spread throughout the underground gallery, to drown the deep earth. The radiant roots twisted and thrashed, then released themselves from the ceiling of the cavern as additional carmine ichor cascaded from above, falling akin to the familiar form of rain. Freed from their restraints, the tendrils of light lost their luminescence, changing to an enraged ruby color as they reached towards Pyrrha and impaled her.

In the deepest dungeon, the light faded, and as Penumbra alighted amongst the broken bulwark of once beautiful gemstone, but now engulfed in baleful mud and metallic odor, all they could blindly perceive was the prevalent cold and the pained screams of a goddess.

A small umbrella made out of their hand quickly formed above Penumbra’s head as the roots fell down. Upon seeing that they never reached them but Pyrrha, Penumbra jumped to action. They knew that the divine cannot die, wouldn’t die in something of her own making.

Darkness surrounded the champion and only the pained screams of the goddess could be heard. Focusing their magical sense as much as they could, they caught a glimpse of the goddess. Impaled by the roots that were now akin to solid blood. A glimpse was more than enough, using their [Javelin] skill in combination with the [Teleport] skill to teleport in the shadow formed by the throw javelin, they quickly closed the distance.

I don’t care if this is just a game. I won’t let you die. ” yelled Penumbra as they finally reached the goddess. The red-ravenous roots rapidly spread underneath the surface of Pyrrha’s pale skin, like sickly veins of poisoned blood, before a number of them burst from her flesh and reached outwards. The last of the light elsewhere in the cavern was consumed, and only the faint glow of the inner flames within the gouged goddess lingered.

The crystal choir continued their cacophonous chant, eerie lamentations and shrieking, echoing throughout the tenebrous chamber. The skin of the goddess shifted and became bark as branches sprouted, her hair transformed into the leafy visage of the forest-kin and fey-folk. Then the chthonic children were capable of conveying their thoughts as a telepathic connection was created through their cold-hearted and callous control of Pyrrha, thus she spoke so:

“A sacrifice! A sacrifice! A sacrifice! Two cannot come from Hades; one must stay!”

“Give us our own! Give us our origin! Give us our Desire!”

I have no idea what you are or who made you but I shan’t let you take this divine being. You’re saying that one must stay? I propose a new trade. The divine and I are one. Two sides of the same coin from my perspective. ” said Penumbra as they showed a coin with the face of the goddess on one side and theirs on the other before continuing “ For what are mortals but copies of the divines. You’re saying that two cannot come from Hades. I see only one. There are not two. ” continued Penumbra, talking as charmingly as possible.

The sadistic song of the sanguine sea resounded within this sunken recess of shadows wherein refuge and return was refused, as the abundance of infernal ichor continued to rise until it reached Penumbra and Pyrrha. It splashed over the sacred shard of the shimmering night they stood upon, engulfing everything - an unforgiving flood from the underworld relentlessly following the two trespassers to their final site of free sanctuary, yet no elsewhere remained to flee to. Soon they were submerged, eventually enveloped in the essence of the eviscerated earth, however no harm came to the champion, and the two travelers did not drown in the deep darkness. The sounds of sin suffused their surroundings similar to thunder, though the thorny tormentors that trapped the goddess stayed silent, seemingly to ponder the proposal offered.

“Cunning is the champion of choice - twice-born and together as one once…”

“Advaita Vedanta… it is accepted! Begone before the aspect of betrayal arrives!”

Initially as the infernal ichor rose up in level, almost submerging them, Penumbra grabbed the divine and tried to used their [Teleport+] skill but it was for naught. The skill was never meant to be used on a divine, something so strong and probably so high up in levels.

As the choir of voices congratulated them for their cunning, the champion couldn't do anything but smirk. It wasn't cunning. It wasn't their intelligence. It was one of the tricks the Lady used more than once to trap traders using their own words.

They were never a good trader, never enough from the point of view but, they were a good observer. A good listener. That's what did it, that's what saved their life here. If only the same skills could've been used to save Dahm.

" Give me permission to take us out of here. Lend me a fraction of your power or any kind of object and I shall take us away from here. " quickly said Penumbra as their body came close to the Goddess. Then the fey-like form faded, and found again as she was freed from the ruby roots, the familiar appearance of the fiery maiden, adorned with fresh scars and the shadow of a smile.

The ceiling of the cavern cracked and crumbled above them, suddenly sundered, swiftly shattering, the surging song of the spiritual sea so sharp and savage soaring towards a cosmic crescendo! And we all still die! Yes, we all still die! Oh, we all still die! Pyrrha stumbled into Penumbra, weak and weary as she whispered the words of wondrous will, granting the temporary grace of guidance/control to the champion, allowing them to attempt to command the clashing chaos of the rising currents they sailed upon through uttering the title of the relic they rode:

“Sunset Orange.”

Infused with a bit of power which allowed them to rise the Sunset Orange. Penumbra took the Goddess in their arms and lifted her up. Their legs coiled around the surfboard for better guidance and stability. With a deep breath, they rode.

Sensing the powers of the artifact, Penumbra knew they weren’t given permission to use them all but there was one thing that called to them. One ability in particular that sensed the champion and called. The shadowy powers of the Lady.

Summoning the power stored within, combined with their own shadow teleportation ability, they disappeared and for a few seconds, they couldn’t see anything. Darkness, shadows moving…and then with a *woof* they appeared back at the campfire. The shadows of the campfire were slowly dying, a few seconds later and they wouldn’t have been able to appear back at the same place.

Pyrrha pulled away from Penumbra, from her previous position of prying; the intrusive and predatory position prior to the twofold trip to the Heavens and Hades she had held after an outburst of anger from Penumbra in the past. She staggered backwards as she allowed her bruised and bloodied body to succumb to the fount of fatigue that suffused her, though also to be seen above her was the strength of her heavenly spirit, supporting the small soul of the revived rat upon her shoulder. “The Sea of Shadows saps so much…” She said softly.

I don’t know if I can heal you, Pyrrha but I’ll try. ” said Penumbra as they quickly approached the divine with bandages they took from within themselves. Upon hearing about the sea of shadows, Penumbra shook their head.

It doesn’t ask for much. Just what you’re willing to give. If you fight it, it will take everything you’ve got. Life included. Let yourself flow within it and it’ll take it wherever you wish. ” replied Penumbra to the injured divine.

Golden light shone suddenly as the goddess summoned a green blade within her grasp, the energies of divinity emanating from the exquisite dagger. “The Jade Knife shall replenish our strength, chosen champion of the Lady.” Pyrrha proclaimed before plunging the blade into her belly. A pulse of otherworldly power permeated throughout the perimeter of their paltry camp, and Pyrrha hummed to herself as she slowly healed; cleansed blood coming back to her body and the cluster of cursed scars being sealed completely. She sighed afterwards, soothed by the sacred cut of the Jade Knife, and then held the haft of the divine dagger out towards Penumbra.

With a nod, Penumbra extended a shadow tendril towards the Jade Knife and inspected it for a brief second before plunging it into their arm. While not overly injured from their excursion to…whatever that was, Penumbra still had many injuries from their travels. Some in different processes of healing, while others left large scars on their body. Invisible to all but other Umbras. The same pulse of otherworldly power hit Penumbra as they sang under their breath, one of Dahm’s songs. Their wounds started to heal and even the scars seemed to disappear, alongside the exhaustion that plagued Penumbra.

I don’t know what that was, but you have my thanks. I forgot how it felt to be so…refreshed. ” said Penumbra, gone was the hostility from their tone, now replaced with a trader’s sweet tone.

The goddess glanced away, and gone was the playful glitter in her ruby-emerald eyes. “You seemed pleased with yourself.” She said, before she shook her head. “May I call you Penumbra?” She asked, as the crystalline image of Penumbra appeared in the gemstones of her glimmer-gaze after it slowly came back to the champion, showing concern.

With a slight shake of their head, Penumbra replied “ Not pleased with myself. I just figured out something from our trip. Something I didn’t realize until now. The duality of things. Similar to a coin. Everything has two sides. I…understand it better now.

Oh’ call me whatever you like but, yes, I do prefer Penumbra. The name the Lady chose for me upon my ascendancy. ” quickly added the champion with a thin, but not unfriendly smile.

“Hmm… it’s an honor to have your name, Penumbra.” Pyrrha quietly proclaimed, shifting again as she seated herself and began to softly pet the phantasmal rodent upon her shoulder. Tranquil tears trickled as she spoke: “However, in Hades, you should’ve forsaken me. I should’ve been sacrificed, so that the suffering of those that seek salvation would be smaller. You shouldn’t have to endure such cruelty as children…”

That’s where you’re wrong. Why would’ve I forsaken you? If you take it from a cynical point of view, I had no clue if I’d be able to escape on my own or if the whatever those were would keep their word and let me leave. Simply put, you were my best chance of survival. ” said Penumbra raising a finger in the air, after a few seconds, they raised another one and continued speaking "You could see it from an Umbral perspective. The way I bargained for our release, formulated my response…that's an achievement for an Umbra. Now, bargaining for the life of a divine? Now that's something on a completely different level. And it's also a trade. I saved your life, you offer me something. "

Raising one more finger, they continued talking. Offering a more detailed reply than expected. Surprising even themselves. Maybe their exhaustion clouded their judgment until now.

" Lastly, you could simply say I saved us because of my selflessness and the want to do good. " finally finished Penumbra before closing their hand.

" In truth, I don't know why I saved you. I wanted someone to pay for Dahm’s death, that's for sure. Maybe that cost was paid by your blood or not. I don't know. What I know is that I've learned of a new way to see life. "

“We’ve become one… your words spoken in the presence of an avatar of the pantheon is sacred speech - the truth. You and I are one. Your choices and actions are considered my choices and actions, and… we shall suffer the consequences of our consecrated connection. That is the price we’ve paid through a primordial pact, this trade.”

Pyrrha peered at Penumbra, presenting an enigmatic expression as though she perceived a puzzle afore her - instead of a person. However, her analytical and critical perception soon changed into a look of compassion as she slightly smiled. “You desire to do good, though you also desire a costly compensation for the death of your companion. Since we will walk the Sacred Path together, I shall help you, Penumbra.”

Penumbra turned towards the divine, looking straight into her eyes. “ Next time. A little warning will do some good. But because it’s a pact, a trade…the Lady will surely have some ways to manipulate it if not break it. ” replied Penumbra with a grin, reminding themselves that the Lady has surely had broken pacts like these before more than once.

I don’t desire to do good, nor did I ask for compensation from you or others. In truth, I don’t know what I want. A part of this divine quest I’ve received from the Lady is for me to find answers on my own for surely, it ain’t about exploring. The Lady could’ve done that herself, if she didn’t do it already. Help? Help how?

“Ashevelen is intelligent, and she knows that a tree cannot grow in the shadow of its parent. I’m the seventh daughter of the sun, and I’ll show you the answers you seek since you and I are a singularity. How to help: Help? Help! Hehe. We should raise a tribe!” Desire declared, and the Hanged One held out her hand towards Penumbra.

Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by DX3214
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DX3214 God-like Cyborg

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Oa’qeisskesi sat on her throne in Sihu’rysai pondering in silence the calmness of her throne room just below her she could feel the abyssal gates. Her mind was preoccupied thinking of the region around the remainder of the steppes still was accessible but she also thought of some plans of her to the area and the possibility of forces marching in the region. Wouldn't it be better to avoid armies marching into the land all together, it was impossible by definition life can adapt. But a good chunk of them maybe can be dissuaded from wandering the plains around her home. She pondered for a while the throne room was huge, extending for a long while forward, sustained by dark marble pillars and illuminated by windows with the orange hue of the sun piercing the dark clouds above the blasted wastes. Standing still on the throne of dark obsidian with white marble at its base jagged to the eye. Looking badly if not terrifying to the first viewer even for a good intimidating, standing tall above the room with a series of steps leading to the floor all rough rocked, the rock was not all there was, the volcanic wastes were just molten rock there was also metals flowing through them. Using them for her throne, gold, silver, and platinum decorated it giving a glow of glory with the sun rays shining on the metal that decorate the throne. Being used to form esoteric symbols in the abyssal language but also on the steps and her area of sitting being made of pure gold. As she thought over the lands but also the gods of the lands around her that she could feel somewhat with a nod of determination as the debate within her ended she walked forward. Going quite far upstairs to the rooftop of her realm walking up through the spiral staircases she arrived at the rooftop overseeing the clouds below her vision being able to see the malignancy and its extent but also the steppes channeling her energy she soon started accumulating power into her hands creating a purple energy sphere that seemed to glow brighter from below the skies seemed to glow somewhat purple and the light of the sun seemed stronger from around far into the dead steppes to the west the volcanic active region seemed to be more active than usual its storms more strong then before. To the north in the lands less affected the same seemed to be common lightning could be seen to increase in amount but also winds seemed to blow inwards towards the malignancy.

In the center of it where Oa made her home she stared south hand up a giant energy sphere glowing purple covered in darkness it was filled with corruption it would turn the steppes into corrupted wastes by the abyss the mountains will hold most of the explosion just like the first time she did watching the lands around for a final time her vision stopped south of her towards a passage towards heavenfall she never looked or pondered the area but her vision could see some odd creatures “huh…” she said thinking as she moved her arm back the sphere moving a bit back towards the north as it finally exploded. A light coming from the center of the malignancy seemed to glow before retracting and stopping before it began growing again a massive corruption blast from its core, an expanding energy blast that engulfed the steppes capable of being seen from miles the purple glow sometimes even leaking through the low points of the mountains. As the glow of the corruption wave ended together with the massive mist of smoke raised by the blast. As the ashes settled the land was different glowing at the dark with veins in the ground, the ground lacked grass and seemed more like blasted rock. The land was different in some way, almost like a shadow now hung over everything. The land was now corrupted into control of the abyss, standing on top of her tower as the clouds were now cleared but were to return again as while the steppes were now more secure. Her birthplace still stood, the volcanic lands still were active and would once again cloud the area with smoke and ash Oa did not care much for it. Standing on the edge she continued to look south with curious eyes. The blast sent some energy towards the crevice together with cleaning some of the storm clouds in the area. She was interested in possibly a neighbor to her south.

Standing in the top she thought of that possibility she then said “well… this is interesting.” She soon felt the dark sun manifesting behind her saying “well… i wouldn't say it's good to have neighbors but we do have a large buffer state between us and them for the time being” Oa grunted a bit while thinking the sun then said “Well… dealing with the situation around is priority what we just did drained us again we should prepare for that as well… and also start making you know… speaking of which call them back?” He said before disappearing. Oa gave a nod of agreement, her senses going towards the Seis'huenaoi, the hounds of the deserts.

In the west lands in the great deserts the Seis’huenaoi the hounds she plucked there still continued hunting wandering and still being a nuisance in the region unable to reproduce their numbers dwindled by organized hunts, deaths due to accidents or worse luckily many couldn't or didn't matter their existence their numbers dwindling little and still remaining large in numbers. One of them hunted walking through the sandlands after an elf the scorching sun rays did not bother it. Its vision could only see his soul and the image of the terrain except that a Seis’huenaoi was effectively blind the elf soon tripped the Seis’huenaoi jumped opportunity rushing landing on top of the elf the hound couldnt discern sex but it didnt matter as it opened its mouth holding the elf its jagged sharp teeth seemed ready to bite until it close its maw looking north as it heard something. Beneath him the elf girl breathed heavily in panic confused as the animal licked lips looking north. In fact she wasn't the only one confused; those Seis’huenaoi that were captured were suddenly docile looking north as well in villages that captured them. Those in the wild as well those that could hear it couldn't figure out this odd behavior but meanwhile in Sihu’rysai Oa was whistling with two fingers on her hand as she stopped the hounds suddenly dropped what they were doing running towards the north the Hound on top of the elf howled towards her before letting her go and running north. A call has been made to return home.

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Chris488 Doesn't write anymore

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The Beginning of Turn IX

The Calm Calamity Comes Calling

A divine gift may sear the shape of the soul, and scorch this world…

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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Behold the Beholding Beholder Champion

A long time has passed since Penumbra left on their journey of self-discovery and Ashevelen was bored. She watched them at first via her shadows or occasionally transformed into a bird or other animal and checked up on them but that got boring fast. After their companion’s death, Penumbra’s journey turned for worse and Ashe knew if she would watch them any longer she would try to save them.

So, she did what anyone else would do in her position. She left them alone to figure out their own path and settled into Shadowville, providing advice to the residents that now could be counted in thousands. A true civilization was being born here. One that would last many, many years. But that got boring too, so she went to Traveville. Where the new village was built out of stone instead of the usual wood that Shadowville was built of.

Of course, she had spent some time teaching the new residents of the city how to work the rock in the needed form but fortunately, her Umbra were more than up for the task but after the village was built and people moved in en-mass…it got boring once more.

She just had to do something else. Needed some distraction of sorts and then it hit her. One more champion. Someone else to watch over and this one, this one will be different. Not an Umbra but something else. That was even harder than finding something to do. She already had an Umbra, Dawnborns weren’t suited to live outside the Umbral Woods, Satyrs were too simple and the Fairies…she just taught them something and then nothing. They were too quiet. Only one thing remained to do. BEHOLDERS!

With a clap, she appeared in the throne room of the Shadow Bazaar and with another clap, all the Beholders that were currently existing appeared before her. While they were breeding fast, they were defenceless and while some were kept safe by their Umbra handlers, most Beholders in the wilds died out eventually. That was about to end.

A deep breath, a smile and a blow of divine energy was all it took. The Beholders started to shake and many fell on the ground, tiny screams filled the room and a dark mist made the whole throne-room almost impossible to see. In the mist, dark shapes could be seen rising from the floor. Initially they were imobile and then they started to move left and right, left and right…slowly, rhythmically moving as if listening to a song that could not be heard. As the dark mist dissipated, the shapes became more and more visible until they could be seen clearly. Eggs hundreds of them. One for each Beholder.

Another clap and the eggs disappeared from the Bazaar and after taking a sip of a drink that just appeared in her hand, Ashevelen disappeared too. Somewhere in the south-east, eggs and a Goddess appeared. Looking around, Ashevelen decided one thing for sure. This area, while it was suited for the Beholder civilization to grow, it didn’t look just right enough for her.

Conjuring a bit more power, drawing upon her third aspect, she released a wave of energy that went on and on. Every plant that was touched by this energy, started to grow and grow without dying. From a simple barren place, a jungle sprouted out. Thick and full of foliage. The trees grew hundreds of metres up, mosquitos and other animals of the jungle were soon transported to the jungle too. But the work was not done, with a quick series of finger snaps, shadow wood from the Umbral Forest appeared out of the shadows and formed a round wall around an area that was left devoid of trees. The location of the first Beholder village.

Then, Ashevelen waited. After making sure a small river would flow right outside the village and food was brought, the eggs were arranged in a circle and at the center…the Lady herself. She had a plan, of course, the first to break through their metamorphosis will be named champion. Stronger than the rest of their kin, faster, more intelligent, everything that the Beholder race should be…the champion would be.

After a full day of waiting, it happened. Ashevelen sensed the life of an egg slowly dying. With a concerned look that her creations might not survive, she approached the egg and what she saw made her smile.

The Beholder inside was no longer 10 cm tall but 140. A big eye in the center of her head slowly opened and rose from the ground. Others soon opened up as well and soon enough, a few hundred Beholders were born.

Confused but feeling that their creator is near, they all gathered around Ashevelen. Waiting for her words even if none came. In the blink of an eye, their minds got filled with knowledge. All the knowledge the Umbra learned or were taught and the Beholder civilization was ready to start.

Without having any mouths, the Beholders couldn't communicate like other mortals but they were given an ability by their metamorphosis. Telepathy. Words soon assaulted the divine's mind.

" Quiet. All of you. I've made you long ago and while you won't remember your life from before, know this. You were pets. Animals to be played with. Critters of the forest. You are that no longer. You have ascended to a new level of consciousness. Know that I have a task for you and that is all I require of you. Get ready for war. Get ready for mass destruction of life from one of my siblings. For this, you and all of my creations are going to receive a great gift. Free passage via the Shadow Bazaar, my realm. Prepare in whatever way you may wish and do not harm each other. War within means that the war out there will be lost. I shall not let that happen. Even now, as we speak, my sibling destroyed the northern part of the world and is prepping for war. " said Ashevelen in a commanding tone while making the necessary changes to the teleportation system of the Bazaar subconsciously.

The Beholders steeled themselves for what was about to come. Most were already starting to build whatever was needed for war. As more and more peeled off the main group, Ashevelen lifted a finger up and pointed at the one that was bound to be her new champion. A zap of energy hit the new champion instantly and they grew in size. Taller now, 154 cm to be precise, the Beholder stood above her peers. All their abilities suddenly expanded, her telepathy no longer being able only to send messages but images too. Her hypnosis reached higher levels, being able to catch mostly anyone in its trap.

" You. I name you…Xen. Champion of the Beholder people. You're going to be the leader of this village until further notice. Know that you're greater than your peers. " commanded Ashe and before Xen could say anything, Ashevelen disappeared in a flash of shadow.

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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Frettzo
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Frettzo Summary Lover

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Meet the Smith

Lorelei and Astarte spilled out of the Shadow Realms and into a stinky pile of hay. They laid in it for a while, catching their breaths with their limbs intertwined, until a particularly curious gorse (a goat-like mountain horse that looked and acted exactly like a big goat would) came up to them and started nibbling on Astarte’s ponytail.

She shuddered as a big glob of gorse spit landed on the back of her neck and swatted the creature away. “I hate gorses!” She complained as she untangled herself from Lorelei and jumped out of the pile of hay.

“Y-You’re crazy...” Lorelei rolled her eyes at her friend after emerging from the hay. “At least we didn’t waste any time in the Bazaar. I-I had a bad feeling the entire time we were there.”

The lavender-haired ex-goddess stretched her arms over her head so deep that a small squeak escaped her. “All part of the plan, mortal sis!”

“S-Sure. By the way, where’re your boots?”

“Traded them for a prayer dedicated to me! It was a steal!” Astarte explained with a pump of her arm and a grin. Lorelei couldn’t bring herself to tell the woman anything and instead just headed for the barn’s exit.


“Two hundred Havens. Take it or leave it, cat.”

Lorelei pursed her lips. She felt her ears twitch and flatten against her head. This barbarian wanted to rip her off! Did she really think red skin and muscles were enough to intimidate her into accepting a bad deal? It’s like the smith had no idea of how difficult Havens were to obtain outside of the Thousand Kingdoms at all! The catgirl took in a deep breath before she said anything she could regret and noticed a particular glint coming off a few items on a half-hidden shelf in a corner of the room.

“W-What about…” Lorelei grunted as she grabbed her heavy bag and started to look through it, eventually pulling out a large, brand-new glass bottle and setting it on the stone table across which sat the Smith. “... this?” The Red Oni chimera’s stern visage cracked at the sight and a slight smirk graced her face.

“Hmph. Penumbr-Ale. The X-tronk kind… Not bad, cat. Not bad.” The Smith mused. She set down both elbows on the stone table and rested her head on both her fists, the poor piece of furniture nearly cracking under the solid weight of the giant.

“S-So?” Lorelei asked, hopeful.

The Oni furrowed her brow and rubbed her temples with her hands. After a while, she grunted and leaned back against her ‘throne’, which was actually just a big chair, and shrugged. “The bottle and 50 Havens. That’s the lowest I can go.”

Lorelei put her pouch on the table and emptied its contents for the Smith to see. There were at least a dozen different currencies in her possession, and the amounts were all rather meagre with the exception for a collection of small vials filled with black pellets.

“So… You got 2 Havens. And the Bottle. And a disgusting amount of Shades.” The Smith scratched the side of her nose and sighed. She carefully grabbed one of the vials of pellets and put it away safely in between her breasts. “Yea, forget the Havens. I can do more with Shades anyway. You really are broke though, aren’t you? I don’t understand how someone like you has all these ancient artefacts…”

“O-Oh. I’m not really from around here, I c-came from another place.”

The Oni narrowed her eyes. “... Yeah, I figured. I’ve been seein’ more and more of your kind around lately. None with real, non-magical cat ears obviously, but a couple of metal golems and such. They were pervs, so I kicked them out of the castle.”

“Metal… Golems?” Lorelei’s heart skipped a few beats and all colour drained from her face.

“Weirded out aren’t you? Honestly, same. First thing they did was stare at my body and beam some weird lights at me. I didn’t even entertain any of their requests before kicking them out. ”

Lorelei felt her breakfast coming back up quickly and had to run towards the restroom.

As the sounds of the catgirl retching echoed through the whole smithy, the Oni fixed her gaze on Astarte, who was buddy staring at her own reflecting in a shiny plated helmet.

“Hey you, the weird one.”

“Wha-” Astarte gasped and floated in place slightly. “Excuse you! Behold my Divine power, mortal!” With that, Astarte hurled an arc of magical lightning at the Oni. It fizzled out before reaching the Smith, who let out a chuckle.

“It has been beheld. Your friend preggers or something?”

Astarte crossed her arms. “Rude. And no. Her stomach just hates robots… Stop looking at me like that!” Astarte blushed and looked away. Meanwhile the Oni did not even try to hide the look of pity that she was giving Astarte.

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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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The Conundrum

Into the Heart of Corruption - Part 1

“Ashevelen is intelligent, and she knows that a tree cannot grow in the shadow of its parent. I’m the seventh daughter of the sun, and I’ll show you the answers you seek since you and I are a singularity. How to help: Help? Help! Hehe. We should raise a tribe!” Desire declared as Pyrrha, and the Hanged One held out her hand towards Penumbra.

Penumbra listened to the words of Pyrrha and shook their head. “ Another riddle or do you really want us to raise a tribe? I’m sure I’ll regret this but here we go. ” said Penumbra with a thin smile as they took Pyrrha’s hand into their own.

“An agreement! We’ll have to find others, and we’ll have to stand together against the storm… We’re going to travel far, and find five more to join us - to have seven sacred spirits for the spell to be cast - for the ritual to begin.” Then the other hand of the otherworldly deity clasped hands with Penumbra, and soon afterwards she slowly tilted her head as though she heard a strange sound that alerted her. “Speaking of a storm…”

Five more to join us? Five more what? You? More divines? What is this ritual you’re talking about and will it stop me from doing my divine quest from the Lady? I will not abandon it, no matter what. I hope you remember that. ” asked Penumbra in a rapid torrent of questions, barely taking a breath before asking the next.

And as if on a queue, their magical sense flared too. Something was going on. Something…big.

Please tell me that’s you. ” said Penumbra while getting ready for a fight. Pyrrha simply shrugged in a blithe manner, before bringing Sunset Orange beneath both of them and pointing to the north-eastern lands where an eldritch glow enveloped the horizon. A wave of wicked energy had emerged suddenly, and was approaching them as it engulfed everything in its wake.

Pyrrha placed a palm upon Penumbra’s shoulder, soft skin pulsing with soothing serenity despite the imminent arrival of destruction and disaster. “Hmm… Let’s surf the sea of shadows again!” She suggested, shouting as the tumultuous presence of the terraforming power thundered across their surroundings - scattering the camp - it was a cruel and cacophonous herald to the coming calamity. Nothing at all could be seen beyond the blast of corruption that had come from the fiery mountains of the Malignancy.

The soothing, pulsing power washed over Penumbra’s body and they shook their head.

And…it ain’t you. Damn. ” shouted Penumbra as they joined Pyrrha onto the Sunset Orange and into the shadow sea of the Lady. The shadows were blending into them, calling upon the champion to join them, to be part of them.

That wasn’t normal and that’s when Penumbra noticed their surroundings. A corruptive blast spread across the land as much as they could see. Everything was washed away by the power of Oa. Everything was corrupted. Even the shadows. The blessed shadows.

This…corruption. Is this the work of the one called Oa? The one that the Lady warned the Umbra about? ” said Penumbra as they mentally fought off the corruptive presence of the shadows.

“I don’t know… Only one way to find out!” Pyrrha proclaimed as the two of them ascended upon their shimmering artifact, and swiftly sailed forward blindly into the blackness. Pushing and pulling upon the threads of the tapestry, weaving the world around them, the goddess protected herself and Penumbra from the brunt of the blast, but the land would be burned and broken as sinister veins of baleful shadows spread across the accursed Steppes. The Malignancy had finally reached farther with its terrible touch, though the two of them had survived and passed through the summoned storm. The last lingering clouds of darkness receded, and ash settled upon the scorched earth, as the pair upon Sunset-Orange hovered away from where the remnants of their camp once was.

A look of disgust took over Penumbra. This corruption, this destruction…it perverted everything it touched. Killed many in its path. Long has Penumbra heard about the centaurs that roamed the Steppes, long have they heard of the nomadic tribes that found their way here…gone now. All of them, gone. Dead, destroyed by a divine’s whim.

There was a war within Penumbra, their view of the world has been changed after their trip to Hades, as such, they struggled to see the other side of this corruption. To understand what else there is. The duality of corruption eluded them. On one side, they hated what happened here but on the other side, their curiosity and thirst for knowledge overcame their senses.

What happened here and what’s its purpose? You’ve tried to teach me about the duality of things. Forgive me but I don’t see it here. I don’t understand. Care to explain? ” said Penumbra, their voice inquisitive.

“A broken heart bleeds horrors; letting such sorrow and pain spread like a profane poison poured in the sacred source of creation. Shouldn’t we heal what’s been hurt?” Pyrrha replied softly, as her ruby-emerald eyes shimmered with silent tears that reflected all of the ruination and suffering she solemnly stared upon. She shook her head, and allowed herself a shadow of a smile as she sailed towards the far-away sight of the fiery mountains without saying much more.

Should we heal it? Do we need to do that? Let me be a true Umbra and ask, what is it in for us? But even so, put as you did, maybe that’s the duality of it? Creation needs another side. Destruction. Corruption. Anything that’s blessed can be…unblessed? Cursed? ” replied Penumbra with a half voice. They were deep in thought and barely registered where they were going. Surely if there is life, there has to be death and if there is creation, there has to be the destruction of it.

From the origin of the explosion, far within the Malignancy, the two could see at the center of it arose a great palace; a colossal citadel with towers that pierced even the clouds. Dark stones perverted with a purple glow surrounded a castle standing in the wasteland illuminated by a shrouded sun that emerged from the west instead of the east, as though the two traveled backward through time. The fortress was jagged and pointy in many areas with walls upon walls in a hill to protect it from intruders, and at the center both could see at least what looked like a giant door fit for a throne room where remnants of corrupting energy that created the wastes was still awake in the air.

The energy surrounding the palace threatened to overwhelm the Umbral Champion. Their magic sense was on the edge of going overboard. It kept pounding in their head, like a migraine that never seemed to end while the corrupted shadows talked and talked. A never ending chorus of whispers, just at the edge of the hearing. Loud enough to hear them but not loud enough to understand what they were saying.

Swift and steady as the two of them surfed upon the suddenly seen currents of the Stria, Penumbra and Pyrrha approached the perturbing palace of presumably Oa, the one whom the Lady of Swift Trade and Shadow had warned of amongst the Umbra. A deadly and dangerous deity. They came to a halt, hovering close above the towering citadel, and gazed upon the grim domain of the ominous goddess. Wild and windswept waves of warm light lingered around Sunset Orange, announcing their presence in the ashen sky, and Pyrrha peered back at Penumbra before briefly plunging the benevolent blade of the Jade Knife into them.

“If you’re overwhelmed or injured, let me know. I’ll quickly heal you.” She said as she summoned a myriad of mystical strings that surrounded the two of them, shielding them from the insidious sounds that struck at them, and attempting to provide the solace of almost-silence. Pyrrha appeared perplexed when the Jade Knife was withdrawn from the Umbral Champion without using its curative powers, until she stepped back and shrugged with playful acceptance.

“I’ll be beside you at least, hehe!” Pyrrha proclaimed, as they slowly descended to the dreadful dwelling of Oa, supposedly.

I thank you, Pyrrha but I wish to understand what this is. Even if it means putting me at peril. These shadows, they may be corrupted but their essence? They are shadows. Still under the command of the Lady and as much part of me, as they are of me. I think. I am not sure. My mind is constantly being attacked. It’s like…whispers. Hundreds of them. All saying different things, I can’t understand the language they’re talking but I can see they’re using different words. One repeats something on and on, another one…it’s like singing. I need to…understand. But please, if you do see me fall off the Sunset Orange…catch me. ” explained Penumbra to the Goddess while adding a gentle-strained smile at the end.

Together they alighted afore the massive entrance; the structural behemoth both sturdy and sealed, but devoid of dutiful guards, so they stared at it and awaited any indication that they should come inside. “Patience is a virtue, except perhaps our would-be host is a little preoccupied?” Pyrrha said, before she gestured for her numerous silvery strings to surge forward and fasten themselves to the immense door, swiftly spreading across its shape, sinking their lithe forms through its solid surface, then finally finishing their task as the giant gate became detached from the walls surrounding it.

Penumbra laughed softly at Pyrrha’s comment and replied swiftly “Whatever the host is preoccupied can’t be that good.

The sight of the currently suspended door caused Pyrrha to sigh and avert her gaze with scarlet shame. “Shall we!” She declared softly, Sunset Orange sailing forward as she spoke, and then the two of them passed through the threshold into a tenebrous chamber ahead, wherein it was empty of any denizens once again to greet them as guests.

The room was empty, quiet and empty for both once the board they stood upon came to a stop - it seemed like the palace was mostly deserted. The strange sun in the horizon seemed to fully go down as the night seemed to return to the land. Before either of them spoke, they heard a voice echo throughout the hall. “Ai iserrae er ouhuua aeesslolo” they turned to the end of the hall illuminated by a lightning bolt outside, and sitting atop a throne with a base of marble and gold trimmings and the mid top top of its structure made out of obsidian - a throne large enough to reach the windows of the hallways. With steps serving as a walkway towards it, seated there, jagged and intimidating to the eye, was a woman with pale skin, white hair with patches of black, black horns atop her head akin to a dark crown, and red eyes shining in the dark, looking at the two of them with a relentless apathy. As thunder seemed to stop, she raised her arm, and the gate to the throne room shifted and seemed to reattach itself to the door frame.

Penumbra’s arms transformed into long, sharp swords. Their shadow armor seemed alive as it moved and swayed with their form, turning towards the sound of the voice. Tentacles came out of their body and formed a shield, placing themselves right in front of Pyrrha. The dumbness of the situation didn’t escape them. How could a mortal protect a divine?

Stand behind me, Pyrrha. I shall protect us to the best of my ability. ” said Penumbra in what was their most heroic voice.

Seeing the woman on her throne made Penumbra feel the corruption stronger. The power was radiating from what seemed to be the center of it, the woman. Not sensing any divine energy from her didn’t fool Penumbra as she proved her point by reattaching the door that Pyrrha broke with a simple hand raise. Taking a single step towards the divine, but making sure Pyrrha was still covered by their shield and body, Penumbra raised their voice and talked in the most charismatic way they could.

Greetings, great divine being. Sister of the Lady. I am the Champion of the Lady of Swift Trade and Shadows. Behind me, stands in your presence, a sibling of yours. Accept this from the Lady. ” as soon as they finished their speech, Penumbra threw a single coin towards Oa. A sign of respect.

Oa’qeisskesi remained on her throne, staring at both; she seemed emotionless soon looking to the side. Silence, then she looked towards the coin that hit her throne, before she swiftly stood. As she walked down the stairs, Penumbra could see the size difference between them and the second deity; she was easily twice their height - towering over them and Pyrrha. Her corruption energy felt stronger until she stopped, looming over Penumbra then shifting their red gaze to Pyrrha. Oa’qeisskesi leaned closer to them, her crimson eyes seemed to pierce through them like a spear, before she said in her strange language: “Ihoyurilaheshou ras yhe?” directing her voice to Pyrrha she then said in the same language “...aasua era ras yhe? Young yin…” Though she seemed to be speaking in the common language, but with an accent that wasn't very familiar to both while leaning a bit too forward.

“Hi! I’m Pyrrha - child of the Flame, and this is Penumbra - child of the Shadows. We’ve come to talk with you, though we only understand the common tongue. You’re Oa, yes?” Pyrrha replied to Oa’qeisskesi, still on the other side of her smaller protector, however something subtle in her voice suggested she sincerely appreciated what Penumbra was doing. Now compared to the towering height of the one standing before them, they seemed like lost children being scolded by an annoyed adult.

Penumbra stared at the mountainous size of the divine coming their way and none would’ve blamed them if they would’ve taken a step back but…they saw death. They saw Hades itself and they’ve been hardened by it. What was the worst that could happen? Using the last of their tentacles, they pushed into the ground and managed to get about half of the size of the divine. Enough for maybe, just maybe, a single strike if it came to that.

Oa’qeisskesi peered at Penumbra, still seeming emotionless, yet a hint of curiosity shone subtly in her red stare. Standing upright she looked at Pyrrha after the introduction, then said aloud. “Th' bairn o' flames 'n' th' bairn o' Ashevelen cam fur a visit 'n' yin is a mortal champion. Curious...” Penumbra could feel as the corruption grew stronger as the deity spoke. Oa seemed interested before saying: “ye resist well, th’ influence…”

“So… we were talking a while ago when a wave of destruction interrupted the two of us. A wave of destruction that came from here... We’re seeking an explanation.” Pyrrha proclaimed, her hands on her hips as she spoke with a hint of sternness, and Sunset Orange slowly rising higher so that Penumbra and she stood at a similar height to the towering Oa, or at least so that they stayed level with the looming deity.

Oa gave a low gentle grunt before saying: “What you saw was me beginning some of my early plans on this land. Nothing more and nothing less than a god enacting its will in a land.” Oa circulated both almost like an intimidating shark, then she said. “Forgive me as well. I am not very used to having guests, or good welcomings in many places.” With a snap of her fingers, lights all around the room were simultaneously lit, illuminating the dark room for the first time, and Oa was easier to see now. The woman seemed rather sickly with dark veins on her skin, but she also wore a dark toga with gold trimming, and jewelry, and a large skirt following her.

“Hmm… you’re not the only god though; won’t others come and be angry because you killed all of the creatures that were once here? I don’t think those that perished were your people, though I also don’t know whether you’ve permission to purge the land or not either.” Pyrrha furrowed her brows with frustration as she pondered aloud, before she shook her head and sighed to herself. She was evidently a poor peddler of knowledge.

With a smile, as much as they could manage, Penumbra stared at the Goddess. They understood with a struggle what Oa this time, the tongue she spoke was weird to say the least but afterwards she swapped to something they could understand.

You corrupted the shadows but the shadows are still under the domain of the Lady and I am first of her Champions. This is nothing for one such as me. ” replied Penumbra. Their shadowy skin started to change colors slightly and started to become harder, a sign of death between the Umbra. The poison of the divine slowly affected them.

Suddenly, the shadows of the room started to vibrate and music started to be heard. One of Dahm’s own songs. One of courage and valor. Suddenly, Penumbra dropped their shield and went on one knee as out of the shadows, a woman walked. Ashevelen herself. Dressed in a long robe that seemed to move and shift whenever one would look upon them and a small tornado of coins, appearing and disappearing.

To be continued

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The Beginning of Turn X

Back Again

“Then the Divine realized that they had no concept of the skills required to run an organization of this magnitude.”

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The Conundrum

Into the Heart of Corruption - Part 2

There, there, Oa. Don’t kill my champion. I did create them for a reason you know. ” said Ashevelen with a smile before looking at Pyrrha and giving her a small bow.

You look like Desire and even ride the Sunset Orange, but your energy seems different. One of her sisters, I assume? If so, greetings. I am Ashevelen, Lady of the Swift Trade and Shadows. Here you go. ” said Ashe before throwing a coin towards Pyrrha. Her sign of respect.

Turning towards Oa, Ashevelen grew in size to match the divine and looked right into her eyes.

I happened to listen in to your conversation. You have made a mess of my shadows, you know? Destroyed the Steppes too. I had Umbra traveling through this area. I don’t really appreciate that. As Desire’s sister said, you didn’t have permission from any of your siblings to destroy our creations. ” said Ashevelen. Half-scolding the divine that went against her siblings, willingly or not.

Ashevelen and Pyrrha stood in place feeling odd as Oa stared at Ashvelen for fifteen minutes of silence, the room itself entirely submerged in the absence of sound. After taking a deep breath, and letting out a sigh, Oa said: “I don't break promises I make, you know…” She walked away from Ashvelen’s intrusion without much of a thought, as she ascended the steps towards her large throne, she then said: “Now… if you three don’t mind, I would ask you not to touch anything…” The three soon felt what seemed like an echo or simply a pulse of energy, weak and alien, emanating from beneath the palace. It was the sound of breathing, or a faint howl in the distance of a foggy land. The silence returned, as Oa stood in front of her throne, and she then said. “Do not go downstairs; that is also another rule for guests.” She soon sat down again on her throne.

Eventually Ashevelen shook her head at Oa’s silence. “ I didn’t say that, did I? Just making sure my champion here doesn’t confuse your overall…behavior as aggressiveness and decides it’s a good idea to defend themselves. ” said Ashevelen with a smile before putting her hand inside her robe and taking out a few coins.

I have yet to apologize for intruding on your realm without permission. I hope these will smooth things over. ” said Ashe once more with a tiny bow while making the coins fly over to Oa. If Oa would touch the coins, she could see the Blood Horses of Wyn. Their powers, abilities, lifespan and everything about them.

“Ahem!” Pyrrha playfully stood up upon her toes and fell back on her heels repeatedly as she announced her presence, seeking to draw the attention of the other two deities. “I was wondering whether we could chat about what happened to the Steppes and what’s going to happen next?”

Oa’queisskesi held up the coin in her hand as her arm rested on the armchair of the throne, and with a small energy flux the coin swiftly summoned a Blood Horse created by Wyn. It stood in the throne room for a moment, before tumbling, landing hard on the stone floor and already dead. Oa spoke again. Well, I am not surprised about that. I don't recommend giving me gifts that break due to my essence, albeit I do have suggestion for later…” Turning to Pyrrha she then said “It's among the first steps for what I plan to do. Mostly for now it just acts as an attrition field for any force approaching without… She turned her head to the right, seemingly suspicious, or hearing something grunting, and after a moment of time of silence she said aloud. “Hmph… I don't think you wanna hear the rest.”

Ashevelen looked at the horse and how it died, shaking her head before a papyrus appeared in front of her, words started to appear on the paper as she looked upon it.

Thank you, Oa, for the demonstration. I shall remember to improve the next batch of blood horses to resist corruption but for the future, I do suggest you modify creatures you receive before releasing them in your lands. ” said Ashe with a smile as the papyrus disappeared with a puff

With an inquisitive look, Ashevelen listened to the exchange between Pyrrha and Oa.

Attrition field. So, you or your family do prepare for war against your siblings. I know you haven’t forgotten but I feel it needs to be said out loud once more. You gave me your word that you won’t do harm to my creations. Are you willing to…sign a pact with me, affirming the same? ” said Ashe as another papyrus appeared.

Quickly turning towards Pyrrha, Ashe added “And your mother, what would she say if one of the beings she called, wishes to destroy the world she created? Even if the being is saying they don’t want to.

Briefly pondering the words of Oa’queisskesi, perhaps perplexed, and then suddenly as blithe as can be - Pyrrha posed in a comical manner, combining cheer and pretend penance, as she pointed at Ashevelen - though hints of anger could be detected by those that have divine senses choosing to heed her whimsical words as she chimed. “I can’t ascertain whether she would intervene or not. She would probably say that it’s a part of the Sacred Path, or some such. Perhaps you should ask her…”

The doppelgänger of Desire simply shrugged after she answered the question, before she twirled her hands and attention, pointing to the corpse of the sanguine equis, acting like a child looking at a lone cookie left abandoned upon a plate. “Can I have that?”

Despite asking for permission, without waiting for a reply, Pyrrha immediately sent forth a series of silvery strings that interwove around and entangled the dead creature before bringing it to her. Her small hands sank into its dark and metallic hide, similar to the fangs of a feral beast ravaging the flesh of its prey. The broken bulk of the blood horse was of no consequence, as threads slashed apart and sectioned its body into multiple pieces which she began to swiftly consume as well. Between bites; she spoke to Oa again. “I do think - munch! - I want to - gulp! - hear the rest, please - Chomp!”

Oa seemed to retain herself, still seated the throne, maintaining a stoic face. She sighed, seeing Pyrrha devour a horse, and then said. “No blood on the floor please…” She seemed to look at Ashe, and then grunted in a low tone before including more. “I feel a bit offended… but what does that word even mean? She sought to clarify further. “Si-bli-ng… translates badly in my mouth. Siaiqu… sounds like… I-” She suddenly seemed to stop talking while looking around, leaning back upon her throne. Her face seemed to flash with a hint of surprise before returning to her emotionless stare, and then she uttered the words. “Ironakau… sibling…” When the words left her mouth the room seemed to change as the three could see that they were being watched by a crowd of hidden beings with eyes of white in the darkness all shifted towards. Oa stayed in deep thought before saying. “Well that explains a lot.”

With an expression of surprise for a split second, Ashevelen looked at Pyrrha, how she was eating the horse, and then laughed out loud.

If you were hungry, Pyrrha, you should’ve asked. Come by the Bazaar, we’ve got the best cuisine this world can provide. Restaurants as far as you can see. ” Ashe said while salt appeared above Pyrrha and dropped on the horse’s body.

Turning towards Oa, Ashe put her hands up in a friendly manner. Even as the hidden beings appeared in the room, not that Ashe paid them any notice. They were far from a threat and between the two Goddesses, they could challenge Oa in her own realm if needed.

Penumbra, all but forgotten between the deities, approached Ashevelen for the first time and with an almost imperceptible nod from their creator, was allowed to retreat inside the shadows of Ashevelen. Finally free from the corruption, bathing in the shadows of existence themselves now.

No offense intended, Oa. I’m only stating facts. You and your family are preparing for war against your own kin. Surely you must understand that it won’t end well. Not for you, not for us, not for the mortals and especially the world. If you just want to destroy stuff, I can sell you the location of a different universe that you can take over or enslave or whatever you want to do. ” as Ashevelen spoke, tiny dark balls of shadows appeared around her, one for each creature in the room. “You haven’t answered my question. Will you sign a pact or should we get ready for war?

Oa stood still with a sigh she then said. “I do not plan conflict with you unless you wish for conflict. Instead the one who claims I am readying for war is you. I wish only security for myself. After all, those who shout at a new wall of a city claiming to be an act of war are raiders.” Oa seemed to turn her head before she also said “And don't call me kin, I am your kindred or sibling for you two don't come from where I lived.”

Ashevelen shook her head at the old rhetoric.

"If it's only security, none shall have an issue. The other divines just wish to know that you don't plan to do anything of the sort. As for the "wall", your wall killed 392 Umbra that did nothing but pass through the Steppes. 1245 Centaurs that made this place their home long before you awakened. I can continue if you want but I'm sure you understand what I mean. " replied Ashevelen in a very calm voice before looking at Pyrrha who was still busy with the horse and then turning back to Oa. "We are all kin, Oa. The divine spark is one we all share. Irrelevant of where we live, what form we take, our aspects. "

The last remaining pieces of salty viscera were consumed, and Pyrrha sighed with satisfaction afterwards, licking any lingering blood off from her face. Standing upon Sunset Orange, she shuddered briefly before she belched forth a stream of bright veridian flames that became a familiar shape. The emerald fire transformed into ethereal flesh, and standing upon the shimmer-board beside her was the reborn soul of the sanguine equis she had eaten. Pyrrha glanced between the two goddesses with a guilty grin, then cast a spell to shrink the soul so that it was small enough to fit when it flew forward and alighted upon her shoulder beside the soul of a rodent that appeared as well. “Hehe.”

Oa maintained a stare at Ashvelen, her voice seemed a bit offended as she said: “I do not seek conflict for my people. A promise is the same as what you call a pact, and to necessitate me to sign something is insulting.” The commentary about being kin even made her roll her eyes. “Power does not make each other equal otherwise all living beings with souls would be the same…” The lights fade, and then she was one step away from Ashe, anger breaking through her stoic visage as she said: “Between us two… we are acquaintances that is true… but if you wish to build our relationship by not bringing painful memories to me - Here is the thing Don’t Call Me Sister!” Her voice became much louder compared to her calmness before, the echo of her words in the palace made it shake in a small earthquake.

Yet I don’t need you to sign anything, Oa. This is just a record of all that’s happening today. I just need you to give me your word once more. Promise once more that you or your subjects shall not cause harm to my subjects or my interests, willingly, and I will stop bothering you. ” replied Ashevelen. Her powers priming as she waited for the fateful words Oa would speak.

The shout took her by surprise but Ashevelen’s face was imperceivable as always, yet she allowed herself a smile. “Very well. I apologize. As an apology, please take this. I hope you’ll find it useful. An item from my personal collection. Light Eater. ”, she replied as she put a hand inside her robes pulling out a dagger that seemed to devour light while constantly vibrating. With a simple thought, the dagger changed into an ax then a spear, then a shield and then into a sword.

Oa grabbed the sword, and as she held it, Light Eater turned into a spear. She rotated the weapon with one hand, appreciating its agility, before stopping with a gust of wind in the room. She thrust the spear forward, followed by a slash eastwards, then she returned to her idle stance. She stared at Ashevelen. “You have my word that I will not do harm to you just like before when we first met…” The room seemed to shake for a moment, then she said:“Albeit I must notify you that some of them protested so I shall see if I can reign them in… as for the gift.” She soon bowed lifting up saying: “Thank you for your gift. I shall look after it with my heart and soul.”

Ashevelen bowed her head respectfully. "I'm sorry, but I'll need you to say myself and my subjects. Please. As for Light Eater, it's just a trinket I picked up in my travels. Someone tried to sell their soul for a weapon, if you believe it…and in the end, they lost both the soul and the weapon. " said Ashe with a chuckle.

Oa gave a light nod saying letting the blade float beside her she put both her hands in her chest closing eyes as the room went silent she then said in abyssal “Ai Oa’qeisskesi Sihuui ao naeilosaherelno takaise keacetak” She then continued in a regular language “In the name of Ashevelen and her subjects may it not be broken and it may not be shattered” The room suddenly seemed to echo the last words almost like a hundred witnesses were there to testify saying “May it not be broken and it may not be shattered”

Ashe raised a finger in the air and shook it left and right. “A. A. A. Not in my name. You shan’t cause harm in my name as you can cause harm in your name. Are you really trying to trick a trade goddess? ” replied Ashevelen with a grin.

Oa kept a apathetic stare, before she said “I said that…” she sighed before saying “Fine if you don't wish for me to mention your side…” she then coughed a bit before saying again “Ai Oa’qeisskesi aasua nahya keihukelua, sihuui ao naeilosaherelno takaise keacetak.”

“Could you translate that into the Common tongue since I shall be acting as the witness to this trade.” Pyrrha chimed, walking closer to Oa with one eye changing color - to a goddess-gifted green. Desire with her emerald-eye peered through the truthful sight of her avatar, and spoke from afar. She smiled, happy to see Ashvelen again, and waved to the other goddess as she ascended the steps to the throne of Oa’queisskesi. Pyrrha the puppet climbed higher, like a child coming up the steps to their home cheerfully seeking the company of their parents. She was evidently seeking a peaceful solution instead of potentially fighting further.

Oa’queisskesi stared at her, noticing the situation she then sighed again saying while putting her hand on her chest again. “so be it… I Oa’queisskesi and my people, vow to maintain this pact by request of Ashvelen and… well now you.” she finishes turning to Desire with the same expression.

Pyrrha/Desire did not adhere to proper etiquette - ever the defiant daughter of Anath Homura - and she stood beside Oa seated upon her throne despite any disdain or despair that appeared. She stretched out her hand, holding it out to Oa, offering something she could not say with words. The Hanged One recalled a promise from the past. Memories from her mother appearing in her mind. Oa seemed to hold out for a moment before offering her hand up to Pyrrha/Desire to shake.

Desire & Pyrrha smiled as they held hands with Oa, and proclaimed. “Let us clasp hands to physically symbolize our promise to each other.” The words appeared upon a black mirror that the two-that-was-one showed to Oa, as the emerald eye of Desire became the darkest eye of Anath Homura, that was hidden from view by the white flower that had bloomed. Then the Creatrix was gone again and Desire or perhaps only Pyrhha remained, as her pair of eyes were their original ruby-red.

Ashevelen bowed kindly to Desire before turning her head towards Oa. Her eyes started to glow yellow and in a loud voice that could be heard all over the palace and nearby country-side, in addition to everywhere in the Bazaar. “So. Be. It.

Ashevelen’s eyes glowed even brighter, scalding the room in a blinding light. Her robes soon followed suit until Ashevelen was obscured by the light, a mortal would go blind from it, a divine would have to shield their eyes or otherwise look in a different direction. Such was the power she conjured. A full minute later, the glow started to fade. Ashe’s face could now be seen, skin looking a bit pale from the expenditure of power.

Phew, that took a lot more power than I thought. Thank you, Oa, for giving me the opportunity to stretch these old “muscles”. ” said Ashe, her voice was the usual calm but if one listened closely, they could understand it was fake. Ashevelen was tired.

“It was a pleasure, even though by my knowledge of politics I am sure this deal of ours will not be eternal… for things change even when we wish for them to stay the same and deals won't last forever with the same situation they were made.” Oa said leaning to the side resting her face on her hand after a moment of silence she then added aloud: “speaking of change I recommend you two leaving…”

"Dear Oa, nothing is eternal, not even us but…I will decide when to break this pact, if I will decide that. Visit my realm later if you want, I'm sure we can work out a deal. Now, one more thing before I go. " replied Ashe with a wink before turning to Pyrrha/Desire.

"I believe my champion still has business to attend to with you, so, I'll leave them with you, make sure they don't die. Now, I have more pressing business. Ta-ta! " and the moment she finished talking a tiny coin appeared in her hand which she made float towards Pyrrha.

If Pyrrha would concentrate for a second or two on it, Penumbra would be summoned from the Bazaar and as soon as the coin reached Pyrrha, Ashe disappeared.

Pyrrha turned her gaze towards Oa’queisskesi one last time as she prepared to leave, and she spoke with sorrow. “I have always been bad at bidding farewell to those I think of as family. I’m the Hanged One, after all. We have our connection - our promise, Oa.”

Without further words, Pyrrha and the Penumbra-Coin, along with the Solar Steed and the Rat of Remembrance, all sailed away on Sunset-Orange, shooting forth like a shooting star across scarred skies. Surfing the Stria - she silently cried; two trails of sacred tears caressing the soft skin of her cheeks. Seeping sympathy. Always a cruel touch - the scars of compassion.

Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Re:Divinus VII

The Celestial Citadel stirred with sacred power; its ruby-red walls and architecture awakening as a spell spread across its shape, suffusing each and every aspect. Shimmering and shifting streams of the Stria, like liquid light in the air, started to seep into the colossal structure, suddenly becoming veins that flowed with a flamboyant radiance upon the scarlet-stone. The heart of Keltra had begun to beat mightily, and its powerful pulse was conveyed across the cosmos.

The world would receive the message: Anath Homura shall show herself soon, and stand as the Arbiter-of-All.

The Creatrix channeled the energies of creation all around her, crimson petals swirling around her palm stretched outwards. The song of Keltra could be heard all throughout the keep, deep and divine, as the entirety of her domain sailed across the skies to the land she had summoned when she first called others here. The flying fortress soared swiftly, reaching the southern shores of the divided continent, where signs of the others and their creations were found.

Whether they waited or fled, the Creatrix cared little, and she stained the skies with conjured clouds of consecrated fire, and she called forth her faithful servants; her horde of celestial children reclaimed from the vast void, thus her exalted edifice & evangelical entourage came to be, and so came to a halt as she spoke.

"Hmm... now my hand has become necessary. I shall shape this world according to my will then..."

Once again, her words traveled throughout the Tapestry, echoing across all of existence, and piercing the senses of the pantheon that had come to her long ago. As wind, as fire, as water, as earth; demanding and yielding, creative and destructive, as sculptor and clay - Change is the commandment of the Creatrix.

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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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Penumbra and Pyrrha

Destiny & Destinations

In the skies, she soared upon the Stria that Desire created - the shimmering river between the stars and the scorched earth - and she played with the coin that Ashevelen had passed onto her; flipping the currency between her fingers, while wondering what the price of freedom truly would cost. A funny thought to be had, as the avatar of the Hanged One, when she flew freely upon the Sunset Orange. Pyrrha then purposely thought of Penumbra, summoning her shadow companion from the Bazaar.

Penumbra was…busy in the Bazaar. Enjoying the hard earned benefits of almost fulfilling their Creator's quest. Even if said quest wasn't fully finished, Ashevelen deemed it so.

Power flowed into them as their spirit grew in power. Once, for those that could see the power flowing in a champion's soul, it was barely a flicker…a spark of divine essence. Now, it was a torch. A bright light. Not enough for a full divine but enough for them to be recognised as one destined for greatness and eventually, divinity.

But then, their break ended. Penumbra felt the power of the coin and soon found themselves in the company of Pyrrha once more but as Pyrrha would look at them, she would notice how different they looked. Their shadows were dark from the waist down but their upper side was as if made by light. Solid light. Only their face was split in two, one of shadows and one of light.

"Pyrrha, greetings. I take it that the business with the Lady's sister has concluded? " they replied, their voices; not one but two, different from before. One that felt calm, and the other darker, reminding one of the old Penumbra.

“I cannot say with certainty since change comes and well - changes the world; changes all the contracts and supposed conclusions. I lack your calm, cousin. Chaos is coming and I worry about my familia. Do you believe the Bazaar will be a bulwark against corruption when war covers the cosmos? Do you think you could win against such an ancient and accursed calamity - the Unraveling.”

Pyrrha murmured, then motioned with her hand at the horrid sight of blighted stone and darkened debris far below them, forming a vast devastated landscape. There was something about the simple gesture which gave the impression that the world was going to suffer a much more foul fate than what she and the changed-Penumbra could see from the skies.

The Hanged One grinned as her gaze turned to the deity in development, ruby-emerald eyes glittering dimly, and indicating the inner arrival of Desire once again. The scarlet goddess glanced at her hand slowly, silvery strings suddenly appearing in a pile upon her palm and woven around her arms, though they stretched unseen beyond physical boundaries.

"Let's just say the Lady has a plan. A way to leave this plane of existence. The Lady hasn't seen fit to reveal the whole extent of her plan but what I know is that the Umbra won't be left behind. As for this corruption? I've been gifted with a new power. It won't matter to me for now. Yet, I can't stop myself from wondering, what is the purpose of it? What's the other side of its coin? " said the two voices of Penumbra before noticing the eye of Desire.

"Goddess Desire. A pleasure to meet you. The Lady spoke of your encounters. How can I assist you? "

A smile; swiftly shown and then sent away. The silvery strings stirred, shifting and singing softly. A series of sacred symbols; seven threads, slender and still stretching into the unseen - into the Sea of Shadows. Akin to a hand stretching outwards, attempting to Hang onto something. Terribly - the threads seemed so tight against her skin, coiling like serpents that sought to choke the life of a small creature that was caught.

Desire did not speak even as the silvery strings scarred her with sanguine intersecting stria. She simultaneously shone like a star in the heavens, while she was simultaneously shrouded in secrets, as a demonic darkness touched the devout darkness of the divine. A twisted shaping of sanctified shadows that turned into a sinister scripture written upon her blood-stained skin. The sundry trails of blood grew along the gangrenous goddess, rippling away and ripping her apart into sections secluded.

She became suspended over Sunset Orange, hanging herself as the shimmer-board serenely halted. The Stigma screamed: An interlacing language, abhorrent and agonizing, appearing before the agent blessed by Ashevelen. The flowering fragments and fractals sprouting from the seeds sinfully sown in sacred-flesh, too perplexing to decipher for even divine eyes, for Penumbra. However, they did see the similarities to the ruby roots of Hades, and an appalling reminder of how one always stays.

“I’m sorry if I hurt somebody…”

Time stood still, though scarlet tears still fell - sinking from the open skies of freedom to the depths of despair. The screams of strings; an otherworldly orchestra, the symphony of sorrow, overwhelming to mortal minds. How many times could an immortal mind endure the torture of descending into the Abyss? Seven strings seared her skin, and the goddess gasped. Reflected in her ruby-emerald eyes were seven simulacrums - sisters - shattered into shards of shriveling spirit. Slain by their source, by the terrifying source of this tapestry…

Anath Homura the Creatrix. Annihilation was coming.

Penumbra chose to meditate. Locking their legs onto the Sunset Orange, they closed their eyes and took deep breaths. Their spirit flaring like a light-house, a light in the darkness of the world. With a simple thought, their spirit molded into a sword then a kettle, then a ball…bouncing within themselves. Malleable spirit, changing from a bright light to a dark and threatening shadow. The duality of Penumbra now made evident on their whole body.

Goddess Desire?” said Penumbra, awakened from their meditation from the whispering voice of the Goddess.

“I’ve never been the best at giving a good-bye… I think that saying; “see you tomorrow…" hmm, sounds so much more beautiful.” Desire mused aloud as she showed the shadow a smile suffused with such sorrow, submerged in solemn serenity - she had seemingly meditated as well and adorned herself with a mystical mask. The swift spell was a stalwart shield against the adversary assailing all aspects of her mind and spirit.

The sinister sigils of the Stigma screaming across her skin, her small and soft shape - her soul surely suffering such torture that the term “Hurt likes Hell” did not begin to convey the excruciating essence of what was happening to her. The stigma shrieked with insanity; with weird baleful babble, with Goddess-defiling gibberish, malicious molesting madness. So all of the silent sinful sigils were seen as thus, except for a substantial sentence seared into the flesh of the Hanged One: A profane proclamation purposely provided for Penumbra.

All of Honor shall be annihilated.

“Yes, Penumbra?” Desire asked, abashed and ruefully shaking with laughter - attempting to hide when she shuddered with agony, however subtlety had simply never been a skill she acquired all throughout the eons of her existence. She suddenly held the Jade Knife in her hand, calling upon all of its curative power, halfheartedly praying it would ease her pain, as she shared in the current conversation with her cherished companion.

Your pain is obvious. Where are you going? Can I help somehow? Is there anything I could do or the Lady? I can call upon her at a moment’s notice if needed. If…you’re ready to pay the price for her help, of course. ” replied Penumbra. The words were jumbled, fast. Before they could even finish talking, Penumbra approached the Goddess and took a very deep breath, the curative powers they received, the power to cleanse corruption were being primed. Their whole body started to beam with dark light. A combination of darkness and light. The Duality is what they called it.

But they knew they couldn’t help, they knew she was in distress. Whatever was happening, it was enough to bring down a Goddess of her power. Enough to make her…almost scream in pain. Their distress was obvious on their faces, they wanted to help, they wanted to help the Goddess somehow.

“I… She… I have to go back, but I don’t - no; I can’t - and if I don’t hurry, she’ll be here to take me too. I won’t let that happen.” Desire answered, attaining a sudden amount of dignity and decisiveness at the end. She stood with a surge of beautiful and baffling defiant-acceptance, as the Sunset-Orange started to soar along the Stria again.

As they sailed towards the southern lands; the discordant-tranquility of Desire turned to stare at Penumbra, those ruby-emerald eyes of the goddess glittered with joyous-sorrow, and reflected the duality of their partner. The Hanged One offered her hand, holding the Jade Knife outwards; the verdant blade of the healing artifact precariously positioned upon her palm. The power to cure all wounds was changed then, and the artifact became a true blade, capable of cutting through skies, seas, and mountains.

“Should you wish to summon Ashevelen to witness this exchange, then do so. Indeed; do as you desire, my friend. I have a favor to ask of you - a request. Please release me from our pact. Let me be free. Let me go.”

The Jade Knife hummed with horrific knowledge. The Goddess. The Hanged One. Desire - daughter of Homura. The epithets of her essence. How she laid herself upon an unseen altar, seeking to sacrifice her thoughts and memories, her divinity and immortality, so that Penumbra and she were unbound by a promise made between them and a being that existed in the past, as she became the self-appointed princess of nothing now. No longer possessing the names she held previously.

To be nameless… She did not tremble at all as she approached her death, either decided by herself or by the baleful being awaiting the two of them beyond.

Penumbra saw the distress on the Goddess’s face once more, this time stronger than before but it changed, decisiveness taking its place. “[color=]Having a divine being tied to my own being isn’t something I wished for in the first place. I’m more than happy to release you from our pact if it were in my power, but the Lady’s power may be needed here. [/color]” said Penumbra, their voice trembling before sticking a hand within themselves before pulling out a coin. A dark gold coin that seemed to be constantly moving. Taking a deep breath, Penumbra imbued some of its spirit on the coin and…they disappeared. Ashevelen appeared as soon as Penumbra was gone, using a change-places coin meant to extract Penumbra at a moment’s notice and exchange their place with Ashevelen wherever she might be…if so she wished.

She turned her head towards Desire and shook it. “When I gave Penumbra that coin I half-expected them to summon me for some unimportant mortal business but it looks like I was right to give it to them by the state of you. Talk to me, sister. What’s going on? It feels like this world is ending and I have pressing matters to take care of.

“It wouldn’t be wrong to claim that the world is coming to an end. My mother comes hither to annihilate me, as I have taken her tribute away from her. I don’t wish for her to hurt Penumbra as well, whom accidently forged an accord with me. A primeval pact that was wrongfully wrought and what shall not be their weird, if I can challenge the Fates. Will you, Ashevelen, Lady of the Swift Shadowy Trade, release Penumbra from their pact. Will you free us?”

Again - Desire held the Jade Knife outwards, its serpentine handle presented to the second deity with tenderness. The second-sight granted to the gods and goddesses allowed Ashevelen to see the truth The Hanged One spoke of: the imminent arrival of Anath Homura - after recently announcing her intent to reshape the world - and the precious possession that Desire had taken. The flames of Hope to rekindle the hearts of humanity.

The Creatrix would come and adjudicate the crimes of the Flame-Thief, and perhaps the Hanged One will be punished before all those that are still gathered. Desire only sought to separate herself from Penumbra prior to the torturous performance, potentially preventing them from feeling pain. She could extemporize until the end of her existence, offering an ersatz solution to those she had come to swiftly cherish.

Ashevelen laughed for a few seconds at the mention of a primeval pact. Such pacts were rare and powerful but easy to break. She found in her existence that the stronger the pact, the easier it is to break. True brilliance is creating a pact that’s very simple and impossible to break.

Her laugh stopped tho’ when she realized what Desire actually said. Death, destruction of a divine. The Creatrix coming to kill Desire. A plan formed in Ashe’s mind and she swiftly put her business face on.

I can offer you salvation from your mother, if you so wish. It’s just the type of trade that you can only do once. But first, let’s break that pesky pact between you and my champion. ” said Ashevelen as she waved her hand and a tiny invisible-until now- string appeared. Leading from Desire all over to Penumbra.

This pact is linked to Penumbra’s life force. It’s a simple matter of extinguishing that life force without killing either of you. If you would’ve been linked to any other creation, it would’ve proved harder to break but these are my creations. I just have to…multiply Penumbra or better said, have them procreate. ” continued Ashe as she snapped her fingers. A few mere seconds later, the string started moving, pulling left and right until eventually it stopped.

A mirror appeared and in it, two Penumbras could be seen. Looking quite bewildered at one another, they mimicked their moves and circled one another. The pact’s string could be seen going into the first Penumbra’s body while the second one was free of the pact. Another snap of Ashevelen’s fingers and the first body disappeared. Unknown to Desire, they weren’t killed. They were simply sent away, far into the cosmos. A plan for later, a chance for one Penumbra to experience life, even if it’ll be a painful existence at first.

And done. Penumbra is dead and they’re alive at the same time. Same as before, just younger or at least their body is younger, they are the same person. Now, are you ready to hear my deal? A way for you to be free of your mother. Once and for all, you just might not…enjoy the drawbacks. ” said Ashe with a charming smile.

“I’m ready. I cannot see a cure to this ache in my chest, or to the hatred in the heart of Anath Homura. I just… wish to flee from the curse of family and all of the pain.” Desire answered, appreciative of all that Ashevelen had done, and anticipating what she would do as well. Whether her choice was wrong, or correct, she wouldn’t be certain until she at least attempted this. She simply contemplated all of her decisions prior to this moment, and mused whether she had walked the path she wanted to or not. Her namesake was absent, enigmatic and elusive, in this abstruse state of existence seemingly steps away from eradication.

Very well, your divine spark in exchange for freedom. I’ll say it’s a good deal. Let me just add, if I do this, you will never be able to claim back this divine spark you’ve got and I will not allow you to kill yourself or purposely put yourself in danger. Now…” said Ashevelen as divine power gathered around her “ Let’s start, shall we?

Desire gave a nod of consent to the other goddess, and then took another leap of faith as she freed the fiery seeds of her divinity from her flesh, the fractured sacred sparks sifting through fair skin similarly to the sundered soil spoiled by scavengers. Soon, all of the seed had come together and formed the flames of her spirit which she offered to the Lady of Swift Trade and Shadows. “In exchange for freedom from my fate and family, I accept your trade.” The Hanged One affirmed.

Power surged around Ashevelen’s form, all it moving towards her hands until they glowed with the same golden power. In an instant she closed the distance between the two and pushed a hand deep within Desire's body, all while grabbing the divine seed with the other. Words in thousands of forgotten languages could be heard, chanting. On and on until eventually Ashevelen pulled her hand out and took the divine seed away from Desire. Her body slowly losing its divine look.

"Choose a new form quickly before everything divine leaves you, old sister. " said Ashe, sweat on her perfect face dripping. Her voice sad yet hopefully.

The second choice startled Desire, and she floundered amongst a series of shapes and forms, deliberating which would be suitable when she would no longer wield divine strength and sorcery. So she shed the visage of her sisters - she was fond of their shared faces, however she wished to avoid being a simulacrum of Anath Homura - her straightened hair became black, freed from being tied back in a bow, and more minor changes were added to her mien. She stood slightly taller than before, and the features of her face were more angular, appearing almost ambivalent, as opposed to the fierce and fiery aesthetic of old… A face which showed her absence of faith. Her attire shifted into something simple and primarily snowy white with shades of grey and accented black - reflecting her removal of all ties to the past and the unknown path of the future.

As soon as the divine spark was taken away, it disappeared and appeared back in the Shadow Bazaar. Its light shining bright from atop the tallest spire. A light-house in the Bazaar.

"You are mortal now and within my power, old sister. You might not agree with my next decision but you'll come to understand it, in time. " said Ashe with a gloomy voice as she pinched Desire’s head. Every memory of Desire’s life, origin and life was taken away in a flash. Tiny shards appeared as they were being plucked from her mind. One by one until there was nothing but the most basic things left. Those and a message, "find the shards, reclaim your destiny."

With a clap of her hands, the shard started to levitate and each went in different directions around the world. Another clap spelled doom to Desire as she'd find herself in a ball of shadows. The ball started spinning and spinning until Desire fell unconscious. With a strong kick Ashevelen sent the ball to the ground from where Desire will have to find her own path.

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Chris488 Doesn't write anymore

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Shadows covered her sight, concealing her surroundings when she woke.

Then the world was suddenly revealed to her with words repeating within her recoiling mind:

"Find the shards, reclaim your destiny..."

Lost and led by another abstruse aspect after her awakening.

Who was she? She asked herself, having no name.

Wandering the world, alone and afraid. She stumbled towards a solitary tree, and rested in the shade.

Where was she going? She wondered to herself - aimless and adrift.

She encountered two ethereal creatures; a rat and a horse. The two of them were strange since they could speak.

"I am the Rat of Remembrance." The rat said.

She bowed before the rodent, feeling a sense of reverence suffuse her.

"I am the Solar Steed." The horse said, and approached her.

She stood still, fearful, as the horse brushed against her body with its head, surprisingly gentle. Without hesitation, her hand began to stroke its mane.

"You're seeking your memories, sister." The soft words of wisdom coming from the smaller creature - a sage in the shape of a rodent.

Serenity seeped into her skin, and she sighed with relief.

"Where are my memories?" She asked again, aloud, her mind missing these precious pieces of the past.

The Solar Steed shook with joy and anticipation, nuzzling her nicely. She almost laughed.
Her emotions were an enigma, like lost lingering life.

"I will show you where..." The Rat of Remembrance replied, and scurried away.

So begun her journey...
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lord Zee
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Lord Zee I lost the game

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How long had it been since the blaze left her? A day? A winter? Millennia? Eons? She did not know, nor did she truly care. Time was always fickle for the divine. At least, Wyn thought as much as she awoke, dreamlike, under warm satin. The silky softness of the fabric tickled her skin and the warmth was comforting but it was not like it had been when her bed had been shared. Whimsically she spread her arms out but found no one, as she expected. Still, it left her with a frown and it only proved to be a reminder of what had once been. As ever a fleeting moment could be, it had been a comfort. The Goddess clutched her chest, curling into a ball. The blaze now smoldered beneath her bosom. Like embers turning to ash. Almost gone, but stubbornly holding on. The only thing she could do was let it linger in memoriam.

She sighed and sat up, pulling her knees close to her chest now. Wyn rested her head upon her knees and listened. A heavy breath lay over her castle, as if it had been waiting for her to awake. Now that she had, the quiet stagnation was giving way to a calm breeze carrying the scent of roses in bloom. A drip of water somewhere far off caught her ears but it was nothing serious. All was calm within her realm.

But what of herself?

The humiliation of Ivory by the Abyssal Goddess had kept her brooding and when that brooding gave way to anger so malignant and cruel that Ebony ushered forth, all had seemed lost for a time. But the little flaming goddess broke the beast with compassion, and now it slept with hurt pride. She was who she ought to be, A Crimson Wyn, for the time being. She hoped it would last for just a while. Just so she could keep that request of her true. And there was no point in waiting, the time to usher forth was now.

So the goddess crept from her chambers, donning upon herself something tight fitting and colored a deep red to contrast her skin and hair. Her mind had bent to make it appear upon her, such was her will to at least be clothed in an inkling of finery, if it could be helped. More pressing of a concern was where she had left her ribbon. She had not been wearing it when she awoke, nor did she sense it in her chambers. Had it been lost in her fight? Had Desire taken it as a token of Wyn’s own affection? It was possible but very doubtful all the same. She crossed her arms and caressed her chin in thought as she strode into the throne room. Her vision allowed her to see that much had not been changed in her absence. Dried blood now coated everything in shades of red and deep black.

With a flick of her hand the room changed, cleansing itself of any impurities and absorbing the blood into the depths. Once things were cleaned and she could still not find her ribbon, Wyn let out an exasperated sigh and sat down to lament its loss. She had grown fond of that ribbon. It brought her a small amount of comfort, not to mention it hid her presence from unwanting eyes. Without it, what would she do? She leaned back in her throne, stretching an arm over her eyes.
“Woe to me.” She murmured. “I could just make another one. It would not be hard but what would be the point?” She asked herself aloud. “Should I keep hiding? To lament the loss of myself? To wallow in self pity?” She clutched her fist and leaned forward. “No. No more hiding. For better or for worse.” She sprang forth at once and her feet carried her to the steps before the throne. Wyn, with a fiery determination spreading across her face, knew in her heart what she had to do.

With a single clap of her hands, her realm began to shake.

“Spring has come.”

The bloodmire had been itself unchanged for far too long. In and of itself, it was an unforgiving hellscape. The Mireborn within, those once-elves, had severed their mortal coils to the lands of their ancestors, choosing instead to fight for what little of elfkind they could find and was foolish enough to journey within. Such was their war, bloody beyond belief in that crimson squalor.

None had ever been truly victorious. Try and try as they did to snuff out one another entirely, resilience was a trait unique to them all. Yet the great dying of their kind was a slow insidious thing. They had numbered so few in the beginning and such numbers had never grown above several scores. Plagued with infighting and the curse of the beast, within but a fraction of time for the divine, there would be no more. Gone from the earth, never again to walk the lands. Yet, even they could be saved from certain doom. All it took was a change. A push.

And that push came as the Bloodmire heaved and shook with such terrible force, it was as if the world itself was breaking. Multitudes of Ivory mosquitos took flight, turning the sky to a strange white haze. Wyntrees in their sacred groves groaned and creaked. All manner of beast alighted in terror amidst the chaos.

From the sinkpool where the mire flowed into the earth there came a great mountain with a palace of marble etched into it like a miniscule painting. The mire around it was pushed outwards. Land and blood alike flattened anything in its path but before this violence could break upon the land and destroy everything, even as the mountain became a pinnacle of height within that land, the mire began to order itself.

The blood rearranged itself, forming a lake around the mountain. The discarded land began to reform and rearrange itself. Instead of a bog like structure, with numerous islands of peat and rock, a long straight road formed starting from the base of the mountain, going north to south, to connect with the rest of the Bloodmire. A central highway that didn’t just stop at the Bloodmire, but ran, forming as it went, until it reached the great grassland outside its borders.

When this was at last completed and the land calmed, did the creatures take comfort and return. Several changes coursed through many. All of which the Blood Goddess had sought to enact. Chief among these changes had been to the Mireborn. No longer did they have to live within fresh blood, no longer could they no take shape, no longer were they to die out. Thus the call blew upon the breeze to them, ‘Come to the wellspring, come and see, come and be with me.’

So began the long walk towards the Mountain.

For once Wyn was satisfied with her work. She wondered whether or not any of it would stick but she shook her head and buried the doubt within. Right now she was content with herself. She took a deep breath of the air and looked up into the blackness of her vision. Another sacrifice was made, for the view would be lost upon her. The true vista. Except, something did come to her upon the salty breeze. It was enough to give her pause.

The world had changed in her absence. It was subtle, yet growing in evidence. She felt a fire somewhere out there, growing larger. The currents of the unseen were lesser, divinity corked and chained by some unseen hand. Was anyone left? Had it all been some dream? Celestine, Ashevelen, Oa, Desire… What of the mortals? She could hardly feel a thing, even at the top of the world. A strange thought fluttered into her mind.

This is what you had wanted, isn’t it?

“Yes…” She murmured. “But perhaps… Some still exist?”

She spun around and from where she stood and called forth her Basin of Want. It flew towards her on some invisible string and came to a stop before her. She was about to cut herself to see what she desired but stopped. It was too small. Too fragile and she sought too much. Thus the Goddess struck her hands forward, gripping either side of the basin and then she pulled. At first there came a sound like the shattering of glass, followed by a great pouring of water. Next she felt the basin slip away and form into something new. Tall it was, shimmering as it came to be. Wyn could not see it take shape, could not see the great glassway that stared back at her in infinite serenity. She was blinded to its majesty but how could the world ignore it? It shone like a beacon for the briefest of moments, before it cooled and caught the light of the sun, illuminating the Goddess of Blood, Beauty and Beasts like never before.

If she could have seen it as she had been, Wyn would never have looked away. Such was its power upon the vain. But she was not that Wyn, she was new and changed and she hoped it would work.

“Come to me…” She whispered.

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