Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Frettzo
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Isekai Adventures


“... die on me…”

“… old man!“

“Striker’s eve…”

“... point taken…”


And then darkness.

Next thing she knew was a tingling feeling on her scalp, followed by her opening her eyes to see a blur of activity and then nothing. She recognized herself as Lorelei, and she knew she was an Astalonian, but she couldn’t remember much more.

It was pretty dark, and there were tall trees all around. Lorelei found herself laying down in a small crater on the ground, most of her clothes tattered beyond use or repair and all her equipment non-functional.

First things first, she sat up and wiped her face ocean of mud and moss and then discarded all her damaged stuff. All of it but a piece of machinery she recognized as a botboard, which she slung over her shoulders and secured with a strap.

Once she stood up, she noticed the two pairs of eyes looking at her from within a bush and waved towards them. For some reason, she wasn’t scared.

Out of the bush floated a young woman wearing a tattered white dress and long matted lavender hair. She had bruises and scrapes all over, but still sported a massive grin on her face as she approached, her feet never touching the ground as she did so.

“You’re alive! And you have cat ears and a cat tail!” The woman said breathily, lunging forward and trying to grab Lorelei’s ears. It was an unrefined move which Lorelei effortlessly dodged. The woman crashed into another bush shortly after that.

At that point, another creature floated out of the bush, this one large and spiky and pretty intimidating. Its eyes however were a beautiful shade of glowing pink, and the way it floated as if it was smoke calmed her somewhat. Its voice was also as smooth as its movement.

“This shadow apologises about its master’s behaviour. This shadow believes you must be hungry.” The shadow-creature said with a slight bow of its smokey head, “Apple?” It offered an apple to Lorelei.

“Knife!” Lorelei muttered to herself, rummaging through the many pouches in her tool belt, to ultimately sigh in defeat as she came up empty handed and decided to just grab the apple and bite into it. It was juicy and sweet, unlike what she thought an apple was supposed to taste like. “Waow! This is too good, man! What’s your name, dude?”

“This shadow has been named-”

“Big Smoke! That’s his name. Fitting, right?” The floating woman interjected, just now freeing herself from the thorny bush she’d flown face first into. She had thorns stuck in random places.

“Whew. I mean, sure. And yours?” Lorelei tries to ignore the thorns.

At that point, the woman feigned offence and crossed her arms. “How mean! You must know who I am!”

Lorelei stared at her, blankly. After a few seconds, the woman looked at her nervously. “Wha- Seriously? Lavender hair? White Dress? Extremely intelligent? Doesn’t ring a bell?”

“Nah, not really.”

“What!” The woman rubbed her temples. “Astarte! ASTARTE!” She groaned. “Goddess of Magic and… Stuff. What’s wrong with mortals nowadays? Sure I jumped into a rift out of boredom, but come on, I should be famous no matter what world I’m in, everyone loves Magic!”

Lorelei tapped her chin and hummed, her tail swishing cautiously behind her. “Meh. I’m more into machines than magic, to be honest.”

“Big Smoke is sorry to interrupt. Night approaches and we must reach shelter for blood, bone and flesh. Small distance travelling that way.” The shadow pointed in a random direction.

“Let’s go then.” Lorelei agreed and started to follow the shadow-man. “By the way you’re clearly not a human like this crazy lady nor an Astalonian like me. What are you?”

“I’m NOT crazy nor a HUMAN! Ugh! I’ll teach you!” Astarte tries to cast some sort of magic spell at Lorelei, only for a sad and tiny spark to flop out of her hand and fizzle out mid air. She was ignored.

“Big Smoke is an Umbra.”

“Ah.” Lorelei nodded. “That doesn’t explain much.”

“Big Smoke knows.”

Lorelei blinked and sighed.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by DX3214
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DX3214 God-like Cyborg

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Grasslands and a few lone trees stood in the open cold steppes beyond the Stormbreaker mountains. A bird landed on a tree eating from a small fruit, dangling from one branch. The winds blew wildly in the steppes until they finally for once stopped blowing from the cold north. The mountains were close to be able to see their peaks and the land seemed to be calm. Soon a silence fell as the birds stopped, looking around sensing something wrong. Beneath the earth the darkness of stone that surrounded the area, whispers could be heard if one was present. They talked of anger, happiness, hatred, fear, and many emotions being whispered voices of different beings until silence settled once again into silence but standing in the darkness. An echo was heard as the dark sun was born, starting to be surrounded by darkness, immediate darkness as fires engulfed it. The land around started shaking with a small earthquake, all birds flying in panic sensing what was to happen. The land seemed stable but soon started to crack, the winds growing once again the earth making strange sounds while shaking beneath the surface the underworld, a lava chamber, began to quickly build up and in its center an orb of darkness surrounded. The orb began to soon expand into a dark feminine shape; voices could be heard around in a strange tongue almost like the echo of a thousand voices. On the surface the land started to deform as it was pressured from below, growing bigger like a bubble, ready to burst marked with red and purple veins from the ground cracking. Within it, the dark being stared at her own heart beginning to be encrusted and pulsating in red flames raising her head as the area shook her red eyes looked at a hole in the crust seeing the sky she soon said “Ai lessres…”

A long distance in the mountains themselves the cold winds blew over the mountains. The air seemed calm until the wind seemed to stop in silence as the explosion. Rocked the steppes the light from a small sun glowed in the distance like a sunrise, across the world a small earthquake could be felt for a small moment before stopping. As for the region itself, the shock wave flattened most stuff, close by in the first second, the mountains soon being hit by the shockwave in a much weaker state just lifting some small amounts of snow. Soon chunks of rock lifted up by the eruption began to rain down across the entire area as the smoke and ash lifted up soon began to cover the sky and to run down the steppes burning, and suffocating, everything in toxic fumes and darkness, covering the land, lightning being the only source of light together with the faint light of the sun as it pierced the skys. The land burned as the smoke spread across the region in the center of the eruption. Rivers of molten lava with a taint of purple glow began to pour out of the crater flowing westwards. The skies were increasingly darkened as the clouds moved further west, animals trying to outpace the coming storm. The crater, the center of the eruption, resembled an uncanny, flat volcanic caldera flowing out around it. The land was deformed in several sections raised by the quakes from the earth and the eruption resembled a cracked volcanic landscape. The ash was dense and fell from the sky all around the area, making visibility very difficult and the air was dense and hot with the smell of sulfur and methane. As the lava poured a dark shadowy hand, grabbed the edge of the crater rising herself up Oa’qeisskesi left the cauldera. looking up, seeing lightning. The smoke cloud she soon started walking forward stumbling whispers could be heard around her loudly speaking in an indecipherable memory before she screamed in dark tongue with a deep monstrous voice “SHUT IT!” The whispers soon calmed down and she sighed, gaining footing from her confused state, changing her shape to a knight. She soon said. “March we must… for now...” She soon started to walk west towards the coast away from the eruption site she soon said. “Yes, good idea.”

As she walked through the waste the area of effect of the eruption only grew, within an edge where some plants that survived the ground near then soon cracked with purple veins and the remaining vegetation soon died as the area became corrupted by the abyss as if the ash and smoke weren't enough for the plants in the area. But soon began to be overtaken by the smoke of the eruption, the volcano constantly, making more smog and ash ever-expanding, the dark clouds in all directions. The mountains to its south were the first to stop the smoke forcing it to move west and north spreading, the darkness and shadow further in the northlands as life runs from its effects. Oa’qeisskesi meanwhile walked away from its increasing shadow.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by ActRaiserTheReturned
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The Presents of a God’s Presence

Eloreon & Anath Homura

The great colossus had traveled east from the scorching desert, still carrying the seed of humanity across the new world after completing several deliveries to other deities. Anath Homura stood upon its crown, her one-eyed gaze upon the horizon, and she could see the sprawling forest spread out beneath her. She could see the myriad of mundane flora and fauna, mingling with various living creations suffused with greater strength.

For this time on their journey, the red goddess and the colossus were accompanied by a few Gedhe’iwak, those skyfaring creatures of considerable size that resembled large fish found in the sea. They were a curious and docile sort, soaring along the winds of the strange storm surrounding the colossus, similar to how their kindred would swim in the sea. They scattered when Anath Homura had reached her next destination, and came to a halt above a clearing in the woodland realm below.

She leapt from her perch atop the crown of the colossus, and descended towards the clearing where another god awaited her. “I am Anath Homura. I have come offering peaceful greetings and gifts to bestow upon you.” She said, as she alighted upon the green earth, and she looked to the lion god that stood before her - Eloreon.

“Oh. Kindred. It is you. You caught me in a moment of reflection.”
“What are you doing here, kindred?” Eloreon asked, still lost in thought.

Anath Homura gestured to the colossus levitating above the land, and explained. “I am delivering dormant vessels among the pantheon. These vessels shall become humanity, shaped and defined by the Divine. Do you accept my gift?” She inquired.

“Oh, sorry.”
“The gift is appreciated. However, what do you expect in return?”
“Is this actually a gift?” Eloreon asked curiously.

“It is freely given. In return, I only ask that you adhere to the Sacred Path. I ask that you do not stray towards annihilation.” Anath Homura answered.

“Sacred Path? What is this?” Eloreon asked, once again with a curious spirit.

“The set of cosmic changes that will eventually free us from the prison that is the Eternal Cycle of Return. It is difficult to describe with mere words or ideabstractions.” The red goddess replied, radiating a paradoxical mix of absolution and uncertainty.

“Perhaps. I do think that perhaps a permanent remaining in this Cycle would be best.”


“If you’re talking about the universe being cyclical, I concur.”

“I intend upon shattering that wheel, and freeing myself from this system of slavery.” Anath Homura said firmly.

“Ah. Well, that would be good if it could be done. Let us endeavor to fulfill this worthy cause..”

“Then do you accept the gift of humanity?” She asked.

“Indeed. I will thus return the favor one day.”

With her hand, the red goddess reached out towards the colossus. The sky shook as the metallic beast stirred and swiftly disgorged thousands of dormant vessels from the numerous openings and orifices across its exterior. Carried by conjured wind and water that gently cradled them; the slumbering statues safely descended upon the land, and were then arranged in intricate spiral rows surrounding Anath Homura and Eloreon. The horde of primordial humans now awaited only the touch of the Divine which would wake them.

“It is done.” Anath Homura declared solemnly.

“So it is. Thank you, kindred. What do you say to enjoying the finest wine from the finest, well only vineyard?”

Anath Homura averted her gaze from the lion god, and looked to the trees that stood tall all around the two deities. “I do not partake in such consumption.”

“Very well, if you would likewise enjoy a feast of some sort, I will prepare one of you at another such time. Thank you for your gifts!”

Anath Homura bid Eloreon farewell after asking for him to visit her home in the future, then she jumped high into the air before alighting upon her usual position atop the colossus. With another delivery complete, she resumed her travels across the world to spread the seed of humanity.

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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

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“My god what is a pie? Please, you have to tell me!” was the first thing Jeon heard once he’d finished his little chat with Lektor the bolder kitty. Specifically out of the one that had been unable to answer the goddess' riddle and been charged with creating a Pie as an alternative to becoming kibble.

“I think she was joking, Pebble. Right Jeon?” Fern tried to calm her friend, before repeating “Right?” more assertively to Jeon, which the god found quite funny. Making demands of him, a god! He quite liked the attitude, but he was going to have to disappoint her.

“Oh not at all. You, my dear Pebble, should be honored! You are quite possibly the first person to be charged with a divine quest!” Jeon replied

“She wants me to make a thing I don’t know what it is or else she’s gonna eat me! How is that a blessing!?” Pebble bemoaned her fate, having slumped into Stag’s arms as the elf tried to comfort her “Is she though? I mean there was no ’or else’ in there so maybe it’ll be fine to not do it”

“I. Well. Look you don’t want to upset gods you know. We can do anything, and some of us are probably big jerks!” Jeon explained, not really relaying the threat of getting on the wrong side of an actual malicious god that well “That said, think not of the potential consequences, but of the potential boons and rewards that would come with completing the quest!”

“What would that be? She didn't exactly say anything about rewards either” Fern pointed out

“Well you’ll be able to make more pies, and pies are great!” Jeon said “plus, um, nebulous favor? I’m sure she’ll be impressed if you manage to figure it out!”

The elves did not seem convinced, looking between each other before one of the ones who hadn’t spoken yet asked “Can’t you just teach us? Like you did with food and sticks and stuff?”

“What. No no no no! That would just go against the whole point of a quest. You can't get other people to do them for you jeez” Jeon sounded appalled at this suggestion, before remembering his audience and saying “Because you wouldn’t be following the spirit of the quest. The hardships and self improvement is like most of the points, especially with gods. We can make anything, so what we want to see is impressive effort! It's not like she’s asking you how to make pies because she can’t make them herself. She wants you to learn, and then to spread that wisdom to all!”

“But we don’t even know where to start!” Pebble replied, getting them back to the original problem.

“Hmmmm. Hmmmmmm” Jeon held his chin and tapped his foot vigorously as he thought for a few moments. Then he looked to have an idea, but rather than speak one he instead said “give me a few days and I’ll see what I can do”

The elves looked dubious at that, but it looked like that was all they were going to get when Jeon clapped his hands together and then said “Now then, how about we blow this joint and you all can go back home and awe your friends with tales of your underground adventure!” which they were all very much on board with and soon enough the elves were climbing back up towards the light.

Once he’d gone his separate way from the underground explorers Jeon set about orchestrating a way for his elves to learn how to make pie without him just handing over the information. That would be dreadfully dull and they did need to learn how to, well, learn as well. So to that end the first thing he did was make a book and detailed on it everything you needed to make an apple pie from scratch, but with a forestry touch to it (Acorn flour (no grains in the woods), penguin eggs, milk (and butter) from a redwood-deer and, of course, apples) along with whole host of other baking recipes, all with plenty of diagrams that would explain things to even the illiterate elves could get some use out of.

Now, it was all well and good to list some ingredients, but there were two big missing components here, namely how to actually cook things, and how to milk a (pant) animal in the first place. There were some hints in there of course, but he hoped that having to work those out parts would be a quite helpful learning experience for the elves.

Now that it was made, there was no way he was just handing this over either. He’d said as much that if he just told them it would defeat the purpose of the quest. So how then to hand over the information in a way that didn’t just involve, well, handing it over?

Well for Jeon this was quite obvious:

Make getting the book its own quest!

And what better way to start off his adventure making that the classic: a dungeon!

But not some same old same old set of tunnels in the ground, Kitty had those covered and he was sure that if he wanted to make the best of the best those he’d want to collaborate with her anyway. So no, instead he’d make something nice and forestry instead.

With that in mind he found himself a nice big tree, laid a hand against it, and then made it grow. And grow. And grow. Till it towered three times above its lesser kin and its lower branches where a canopy of their own blocked out the sun. Inside these branches he wove dwellings made from living branches and leaves fusing together in such a way that the tree became home to a small community’s worth of dwellings and homes that were all made out of the tree itself.

“There, maybe that can be a hint too” Jeon said to himself, before saying “and now, what to use for the danger? hmmm” before looking around at the trees now smothered by the titan’s sun stealing size and thinking “well, how about we repurpose these!”

He snapped a finger and accelerated time for the trees, causing them to crumple and decay around him as he recycled the energy of doomed trees into something else: a heart, one that was rotten and fossilized yet still beating in the god’s palm.

It throbbed, pulsed, and then the rotten wood around it started to shift and splinter until grotesque limbs started to form, and then rotten decayed humanoid shapes used those limbs to haul themselves out of the graves of the trees Jeon had condemned, each and every one possessed by the pretty ticked off souls of the dead trees.

Their claws were long and gnarled, their eyes glowed red, and they wanted only one thing: destruction. Unfortunately for them, their desire was superseded by that of the rotten heart and what it wanted? Why that was to put up a jolly good fight against anyone invading its dungeon!

“So, you know the drill, yeah?” Jeon asked as one of the lumbering dead approached, took the heart, and shoved it into its chest.

The tree corpse's face, initially just a gnarled mask, split in twain to form a toothy maw that worked itself, creating horrific sounds as it tried to find words for the first time “grnfoemfn nefmrm nrry heeh. Nyee eh. Nye he.” it tired and then found its rhythm laughing “Nyeh heh he!” and then saying in a nasally and somewhat high pitched yet still male voice “Sure I do boss! Get me ghoulies up in the treehouses, put em in some nice ambush spots, and then show the boys and girls you're inviting over a good time!

“Ha ha yes now that's what I’m talking about” Jeon replied, excitedly giving the zombie some finger guns before pausing and asking “ah but one thing, you need a name. Now what’s it gonna be?”

“Hmmmmm” the heart in the tree thing pondered as its host body continued to refine itself to its whims, face becoming more skull like, limbs like bony wood coated in solidifying bark armor and then a hooded cape of brown leaves forming over its back and a garbled branch appearing in its arm as it declared “you shall call me… Jim!”

“.. Jim?” Jeon asked, finding it oddly close to his own.

“Jim the stunningly sinful sorcerer supreme!” he extended it, bowing as he did in such a way that his leafy cloak fluttered in the wind behind him before standing up and holding out a hand and demanding “now, hand over the treasure I’m gonna be guarding nyeh heh he”

Still a bit bemused by the name the goat god handed over the cookbook which caused bemusement in Jim, who after saying “What is this? Some arcane tome of unfathomable perhaps?” flipped through it and was forced to conclude that “this is a recipe book for pies? You wish for me, the mighty Jim!, to guard pastry making instructions?”

“Well the elves have basically learned about eating, drinking and hitting things with sticks at the moment,” Jeon defended himself “so the secrets of the universe are a bit beyond them at the moment. Besides, it's for a quest! From a god! Who isn’t me! Which makes it a big deal all on its own, yeah?”

“A quest?” Jim said, before figuring something out, which was: “Wait. So are you expecting me to lose and for them to claim my treasure?”

“Well yeah, you're a bad guy guarding an precious item in a dungeon, and dungeons exist to be beaten, so you know, your loss is kinda the point” Jeon replied, before adding “but don’t go easy on em or anything, i want this to be a proper adventure and test of their mettle. Or wood I guess, ha!”

“But, then when they win, won’t they kill me?” Jim asked, suddenly fearful for the first time “you know for getting in the way and trying to kill them and stuff”

“Whaaaat? No no no no. or I mean they’ll try, but your heart’s super tough, so much so that they straight up can't hurt it with the sticks and stuff they’ve got. Just play dead and you’ll be fine. Or make a dramatic escape, those are fun too. Be all like “I’ll get you next time you meddling elves nyeh heh he!” or something and then throw yourself from the canopy. You’ll live and they wont be able to follow”

“Oh? ... Ok great!” Jim perked up at finding out he was invincible, before frowning again and scratching his wooden skull “Wait. So. What happens after I 'die' or run off?”

“Eh, we’ll figure it out” Jeon replied with a shrug and then adding “Don’t think too much about the future, just live in the moment and ham it up buddy, and I know you’ll do great” and patting his creation on the shoulder reassuringly.

“Ah. hmm. Well then, there's only one thing left to say then isn’t there?” Jim said, before pointing dramatically upwards towards his new treetop dungeon home and commanding “Climb my minions climb! Let’s go prepare to roll out a warm welcome to those no good adventurers, nyeh heh he he he he he heh!”

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by blackshade10


Member Seen 7 mos ago

The Sovereign of Pride reclined in her throne, listening to her own pattern of breathing. Serving no physical purpose, she used it as a tool to focus her thoughts, knowing she had great works to accomplish, works that would require her greatest of focus.

From beneath her hood, she stared down at the array of unmolded forms of mortals. They would become the first of her living creations, but she knew that they would be vulnerable. As they found their path in this new world, she knew she would need to tend to them like a growing plant.

Or more specifically, she would need the tools to punish those who meddled in her affairs. To take upon the mantle that would so warn those who tried to harm her precious children. The disaster she would work upon them if they interfered, with either her or... those who aligned with her.

Raising her right arm, she turned her palm toward the sky and began to gather her power into a symbol that she would use to cement her workings. White light began to cascade from the base of her fangs- from the bident impaled upon the earth, leaping up the spear until it swirled together at the top, gathering into her palm until the glow was as bright as a star.

Turning her hand in place, she closed her fingers around the light, dimming its glow. Like an invisible spider worked itself into a frenzy, threads of ivory weaved their way up and down from her hand until they formed into a solid mass, a spear that matched the same colossal structure she sat upon, her symbol of authority and power.

With a sense of finality, she slammed the butt of the artifact against the surface that mirrored it, unleashing an echoing impact that bounced off the mountain walls. The symbol that exuded her pride infused with the power that she would wield to rain calamity down upon those who stood against her.

Briefly pausing to look out across the enormous eruption to her north, already throwing a wrench in her plans, she quietly tutted to herself in annoyance before turning to the bident once more, pale eyes gazing at her new symbol of power.

"I dub thee the Fangs of Calamity. With this, we can begin." She spoke to the bident in her hand before she stood from her throne, approaching the edge of her platform and raising the weapon into the sky and pulling the power she'd imbued out of it.

Without warning or sign, dark clouds swirled into being around the valley and mountains of Heavenfall, lightning flashing and thunder roaring. Rain fell, carpeting the ground before transitioning to snow, then ice- before melting under the intense heat the began to radiate from within the storm, howling wind carrying debris through the sky like a hail of projectiles. From outside of the storm, all could see the silhouette of a massive, eight-eyed spider monster baring down on the world- its eight legs made of flashing lightning rotating its body as it hissed at anything that dared approach.

With a single swing of the artifact, the enormous storm-spider matched Seele's movements, sending waves of freezing wind to her north, freezing any encroaching lava from the newly erupted volcano, and blowing away any approaching ash back toward its north as the spider hissed and roared.

For this was the purpose of the Fangs of Calamity- an artifact that created a divine storm of destruction. Lightning, ice, rain, snow, winds beyond reckoning, burning heat and freezing cold- nothing was beyond this powerful and frightening artifact. Capable of causing pain and slowing even the most powerful of beings, one could only shudder at the thought of what havoc it could wreak upon unsuspecting mortals and terrain. It had more than that for its purpose however, for it was designed not just with calamity in mind, but calamity focused on task.

"LET ALL WHO LOOK UPON THIS STORM KNOW ME. I AM SEELE, SOVEREIGN OF PRIDE, QUEEN OF CALAMITY. LET THOSE FOOLHARDY ENOUGH TO APPROACH MY HOME OF HEAVENFALL WITH ILL INTENT KNOW THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR TRANSGRESSION- FOR I SHALL BRING DOWN UPON YOU DESPAIR AND DESTRUCTION FOR YOUR SIN!" The storm warped into the shape of the Queen of Calamity, her cloaked silhouette staring down at the world, her eyes shaped of crackling lightning while her body was forged of living black clouds.


And with her message given, she waved her spear, the storm shrinking down into a quiet, rumbling sphere of clouds around Heavenfall, becoming a calamitous barrier around Heavenfall so that she may do her work uninterrupted. Only occasionally to freeze encroaching lava or blow away invasive ash did the storm increase its tempo. Those within the storm remain untouched, so long as they did not attempt to leave it.

Her eyes looked at the mortal souls currently in need of shaping, but knew that she would need more time to properly forge them. With the Steppes to the north destroyed, she would require more delicate efforts.

First, she needed to preserve the integrity of the unmolded mortals until the time was right. Only then could she properly lay the groundwork for them.

Channeling what remained of her godly power before she would require rest, she slammed her staff down upon its massive reflection, her fangs that still penetrated the earth, the tower she stood upon. This would be her Realm, her place of absolute authority and power, and the nest in which those souls would temper as she did her work.

With a thunderous roar, the power flowed over the spear, the white light illuminating the cracks across the structure for a moment before dimming down. With another wave of her bident, the many thousands upon thousands of mortals were pulled into her nest, the unmolded beings falling into a temporary slumber of safety. There, she would do her work before releasing them into the world.

Sitting upon her throne, she looked out at the desolate land that surrounded her Realm, and knew she had much to prepare for her children. Swinging the spear, she created bolts of lightning to cast repeated shadows as she worked her godly energies into the landscape. With every flash, the terrain was eclipsed under the shadow of her Realm, and where that shadow touched, life grew.

Tree's of ivory bark and violet fruit grew among leaves that matched, growing tall and strong. Among their roots, gentle black flowers bloomed with nectar that matched. Fireflies of soft pink light made their homes among the trees as they fed upon the nectar below, illuminating the land concealed by storm clouds and rain. Pools of water began to gather under the perpetual rain, slowly filling unseen canals beneath the land weaved between the spidersilk, and within those canals large aquatic creatures formed, all created to serve as sustenance for Seele's chosen children.

The flashes of lightning even illuminated the sky so briefly as she forged the storm clouds into place, forcing them to serve her and feed her new land.

Flora continued to flourish as it glutted itself on the plentiful water from the sky, with fauna crawling out from the ground of spidersilk to begin to make their homes in the shadow of Seele's symbol of Pride. Life lived once more in this land, preparing to feed those who had the Sovereign of Pride's favor.

And at last, deep within the shadow of the Bident that pierced the land, came a being of unimaginable magnitude. A colossal spider that towered over the terrain came forth from the shadow of Seele's greatness, beginning a slow, ponderous ascension to the top of the spear where it, after a long journey, bowed its head to its mother, earning a pat on the head as it leaned within reach of Seele.

"You shall be my first child. I name you Lyra, and you shall serve as the guardian of this land until it is time for your siblings to join you."

With that, Seele leaned back in her throne as Lyra shifted to return to the land and patrol it as her queen rested.

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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Commodore
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Commodore Condor

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The colossus currently soared above the great channel of water that was without a name and yet split the continent across its center. The immense beast of burden wandered without a particular destination set, as Anath Homura stood atop its crown and silently guided it towards whatever garnered her attention. As always; beneath the massive metallic hooves of the colossus as it continued cantering, a strange scarlet storm brewed; blowing in all directions, but lacking the strength to truly buffet any of the nearby exposed environments that they encountered throughout their journey. And as always; this ethereal phenomena was swift to disperse, whenever the colossus came to a sudden halt.

The scarlet storm ceased, and so did the marching of the colossus, as an aura of serene stillness settled upon the skies where the sacred construct levitated. A singular butterfly, coloration of blue and purple, highlights of black- gently flapped down to land across from the goddess.

“It is quite the creation, Proclamator Anath.”

“It is what it is…” Anath Homura murmured, staring at the butterfly with her sole eye and an enigmatic expression, as she intoned further. “I have come to offer peaceful greetings and gifts to bestow upon you. Will you accept my gift of humanity?”

“I offer most peaceable greetings in return.” The butterfly goddess gently stretched her wings, looking up at Anath Homura. “It would please me for you to speak of humanity. You have much hope for this creation?”

“I do. Humanity was created to step forward alongside the Divine upon the Sacred Path.” Anath Homura answered, and then gestured down to the lower sections of the colossus - specifically where its throat and chest came together. The sacred construct shifted internally, rearranging its innards as its exterior opened and revealed the contents that lay within. Emerging from the hollow depths of the colossus, a myriad of chambers with alcoves and combed slabs that safely held the pale and featureless primordial humans swiftly appeared, allowing the two deities to easily view them from their elevated position.

“Humanity is malleable, and awaits the touch of the Divine. To be awakened. To be shaped.” The red goddess recited solemnly, as she glanced back and forth between the butterfly and the dormant vessels down below.

Ia’Akhul kept her focus on the masses of humanity below, her focus set even if her ommatidia kept their positions. “They are like you, but different.”

She lifted herself facing the other goddess. “What is the sacred path?”

“The set of cosmic changes that will eventually free us from the prison that is the Eternal Cycle of Return. It is difficult to describe with mere words or ideabstractions. Hmm… it is simply the correct choice for the future.” Anath Homura answered, tilting her head slightly as she pondered her statement and then quietly added. “To stray from the Sacred Path is to step towards total annihilation.”

The butterfly preened her antennae. “Oh. Neat. Well, I’ll take some humanity then.”

She fluttered her wings and lifted herself to face Anath Homura on a level plain, eye to eye. Her voice came out serious, as if making a claim to the most important of events, “Would you come share a meal if invited in some time?”

“Perhaps…” Anath Homura mused for an ephemeral moment, and then spoke again. “And I extend to you an invitation to visit my realm as well. I intend to return to my realm after I have greeted all of the other gods and goddesses willing to speak with me. Ia’Akhul, I ask that you please visit my home and share the gift of your imagination with me again.” She said, before she respectfully bowed to the butterfly goddess.

Ia’Akhul nodded her antennae in reply for lack of a better anatomical mimicry. “I would love such a course.”

It took only a short moment for the inactive pickings of humanity to be flown up by divine forces from the inner workings of the Great colossus. They kept a float above the two goddesses in a rotating sphere.

“I must continue my travels then. This is farewell, until we meet again.” Anath Homura politely intoned with a fading fondness as she prepared to depart once again. Her one-eye gaze drifted from the butterfly to the horizon, and with an unspoken command did the colossus begin its march onward. Celestial metal stirred and clamored as the sacred construct cantered above the returning scarlet storm, and swiftly soared north.

With the completion of another delivery among the Divine, the red goddess resumed her journey across the world to spread the seed of humanity.

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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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Goldeagle1221 I am Spartacus!

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Hot & Angry

Po & Anath Homura

The colossus continued on its journey along the north eastern shores, beyond Lektoria’s Stormbreaker Mountains and the cold woodland realm created by Ravdur. It followed the jagged path where the sea mingled with the land, swiftly traveling southwards while accompanied by the shimmering lights that Myrtu had set loose upon the world.

Anath Homura stood upon the crown of the colossus in pensive silence, arms crossed and a brow arched as she contemplated the various accumulating contributions and creations across the world brought forth by the new pantheon. A strong heat bathed over her back as she thought, quiet yet crackled until a scratchy shout broke the peace.

“Your fire is a little flat!”

“So it is.” The red goddess replied, as she turned her one-eyed gaze from the heavens, and looked to the flame that had addressed her. “I am Anath Homura, and I have come offering peaceful greetings and gifts to bestow upon you.”

Po pointed to Homura’s straight red hair. “Are you cold?”

“Hmm… do I seem cold?” Anath Homura asked, as she swiftly shifted through her silken hair with her hand in a single motion.

“Your fire is flat,” Po reiterated. She held up her hands, the flames flickering a hot blue. “I’ll help.”

The red goddess gave a gesture of approval, awaiting whatever assistance Po could provide with an amused glint in her sole eye.

Po’s fire flared and her cloak fluttered as she heated up. Her blue flames turned white and then with a loud roar, a raging torrent of fire exploded from the fire goddess and engulfed Homura as well as the entire crown of the colossus.

“Do you accept my gifts?” Anath Homura asked, as she remained standing still in the inferno while Po worked with the flames, so she would not interfere with much more than a simple conversation.

“Huh?” Po was squinting with concentration, stopping for a moment. The fires swept away to reveal a red hot area as well as a toasty Homura. “Gifts? Yeah! I’m hungry.” A pause and Po lifted her hands again. “Are you still cold?”

“No, your flames were sufficiently warming.” Homura replied, and then gestured towards the lower sections of the colossus. “If you wish to feast on the flames of humanity, they await your burning touch within.” She explained.

“Oh, thank you!” Po abruptly grabbed Homura. It was less of an embrace and more of an investigation as the hidden face of Po looked her over. “And what about you?”

“Hmm?” Homura brows furrowed with bemusement.

“I’m hungry,” Po said simply, her grip heating up. “Show me my food.”

Anath Homura held out her hand, and the colossus rumbled with inner activity as metal grinded against metal and split apart. Once more, many openings and orifices appeared along the exterior of the colossus, revealing the still slumbering vessels that resided within the multitude of chambers and cavities inside its immense hollow chest. The pale featureless faces of the primordial humans gazed up at Anath Homura and Po, calling to them with their silent voices.

“Gimme!” Po screeched before blazing away from Homura. Her hood flew off her forehead to reveal her face burning with hungry passion, her eyes as wide as saucers. She smacked her lips and dove into the mess of humans, her flames immediately flooding the cavity. Anath Homura remained silent as she watched Po consume the slumbering humans within the colossus. The resilient earth that acted as their flesh was not designed to withstand flames from outside their forms, and it crumbled easily. The water and wind were devoured, and the little fires of each vessel were overwhelmed by the much more potent and vast flames of Po. Thousands upon thousands, all that were dormant within the colossus, turned to cinders.

By time the cavity was a swirl of ash and fire, Po was on her hands and knees, fiery teeth gnawing on the very material of the colossus. “Oh wow.” Her voice came out muffled. “Thish part ish really toughf.”

“I suggest sending your flames elsewhere. The celestial metal of the colossus will not burn.” Anath Homura called out.

“WHAT!?” Po shrieked. She jumped to her feet, her fires skipping right to white hot. She fumbled her words a moment before falling on, “WHAT!?”

“Your flames will not burn that metal. You cannot feast upon it.” The red goddess affirmed, shifting her one-eyed gaze between Po and the parts of the colossus that glowed white-hot from the searing touch of the former.

“No!” Po hissed. “Everything can burn!” She stomped her foot, a plume of flames so hot it burned iridescent popped up. She stomped her other foot and her white mantle turned to the same intensity, reigniting the cinders around her. The ashes disappeared under the new heat. “I will eat it!” She slammed a fist against the wall, the bang echoing through the cavity.

“Your flames lack the strength required, and the colossus belongs to me. I do not intend for you to eat it.” Anath Homura remarked, her apathetic visage descending from atop the crown to the exposed and empty chamber where Po fumed.

Po continued to throw her fit, stomping and hissing. With each hit, her flames grew and grew until they expanded to fill every corner of the chamber and then started to engulf the outside. Before long, vicious licks of fire were devouring everything around the colossus and burning the air itself orange. Po was a solid white figure at the epicenter of the growing nova, her swearing drowned out by the ear shattering crack of fire.

“You will not consume it.” The red goddess repeated without inflection, standing somewhere in the raging inferno.

“Shut up!” Po roared. Her voice summoned a popping silence. Time seemed to slow and the whipping flames that devoured mountains shrunk for a moment only for everything to come rushing back. The earth below the colossus was lifted from the massive explosion as Po vented all her heat outwards. Her flames turned to rings of fiery destruction that reigned taller than mountains, radiating from the still intact colossus. The grinding storm evaporated everything in its path, leaving molten residue and snapping white flames in place of whatever lived there before.

Po slouched for a moment, noticing she was still standing on the colossus. There was an unseen pout, a flip of her hood to its upright position and then with an angry plop, she sat back on the floor and crossed her arms. Her licking flames returned to her, though the devastation outside was still growing from the epicenter. “You win…” Her voice was small. “This time.”

Anath Homura approached where Po was seated, and kneeled next to her. “It was never a battle.” Homura murmured, and then glanced around the barren interior of the colossus for a brief moment. “It seems my travels have come to an end, and I shall return to my realm. Po, I ask that you visit my home and share with me the gift of your tenacity again.”

“You don’t get it,” Po snapped, refusing to look up from her pout.

“You are a different kind of flame. A familiar flame, but not the same as me.” Anath Homura murmured, peering at Po with the unrelenting weight of her otherworldly gaze.

“You invited me here,” Po turned her head so she couldn’t see Homura at all. “And it’s so cold, and you wanted my fire, but then you made something I can’t fix.”

“Perhaps I intended for another to mend the broken. Your fire is welcome, but you cannot consume all that is, do you understand?” The red goddess inquired with a sharp tone, rising to stand beside Po.

“That’s so unfair!” Po turned to look at Homura from her sitting position.

“It is what it is.”

Po pointed a finger. “You don’t even care about me!”

“I have been told that I lack love in my heart. I have murdered my children, and consumed the corpse of my father. I have betrayed many, and I will betray more. Perhaps you are correct… I do not care.” Anath Homura intoned, before she ascended from the desolate interior now levitating above the scorched colossus and the burning land.

“Well, you don’t have to prove it!” Po shouted over a sniffle. She rubbed an arm over her face for a moment before growling. “Ugh! You’re just like the others! You talk a lot, and say so many confusing words but they are as empty as smoke. Talk talk talk, no fire!” She turned away from Homura, content on staying in her spot on the colossus. “Leave me alone!”

“So I shall… though I would enjoy your presence in Keltra.” The red goddess replied, and then held out her hand. The colossus stirred, its celestial metal shifting and grinding against itself as its shape began to swiftly change. Within the interior; panels overlapped and merged, larger pieces became condensed smaller pieces, and the walls folded in upon themselves. The immense form of the colossus was reduced, reduced, and reduced, until it was too small to carry even a crumb of dirt, or a pouting goddess. At the end of the transformative process, the colossus had vanished from mortal sight. Its miniscule shape, visible only to the eyes of the Divine, now resting in the outstretched hand of Anath Homura.

Po’s voice came from the molten waves and spinning flames below. “You’re mean.”

“I am what I am. Farewell, until we meet again.” The voice of the red goddess echoed as she vanished as well. With her journey concluded, Anath Homura departed once more - feeling a pang of regret. It was unlikely her intention to end her travels with letting the remainder of humanity be consumed, and an angry goddess exploding in her face, but sometimes that happens.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Kalmar
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Kalmar The Mediocre

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Aldion had journeyed far, capturing the souls of any sinners unfortunate enough to cross his path. An entire cloak of the things swirled about him, pleading for release, but he simply tuned them out. He had been scouting for an ideal location.

And he had found one.

Situated in the west was a rather large island, with a large bay, and within that bay was a smaller island. This, Aldion decided, would be a good location. Plenty of land to work with. Separate from the rest of the continent, but not so far as to be completely inaccessible.

Now, he could get to work.

In the tiny central island, he raised a mighty citadel, with layers upon layers of red stone walls with black spikes upon the ramparts, diving the citadel into districts. Some districts looked as though they might actually be livable, while others were narrow corridors of tricks and traps. Seemingly at random, the walls would shift and reshape themselves from time to time, or the districts would rotate, creating what was effectively a labyrinth.

In the centre of the maze of was a massive tower made out of bronze, stretching high into the sky and visible for miles.

With a satisfied smirk, Aldion flew to the top of the tower. Then, he began to concentrate. Recalling what he could of his past, he summoned forth all his rage and hatred, and suddenly the roof of the tower burst into what looked like fire. Except… it wasn’t. It was a myriad of colours - orange, yes, but also black, and white, and green, and purple. And it gave off no heat. It could burn, yes, if that was something a creature or soul felt particularly fearful or sensitive to, but it could just as easily inflict a different sensation that was tailor-made to each individual victim in order to inflict as much agony as possible.

As soon as the fire was created, it began to pull souls in. The souls of the damned. Those who had in some way violated hell’s principles, whether knowingly or not. They would be drawn here, willingly or not. To the Hellforge.

Aldion unbound the souls he had cloaked himself in, and they were immediately sucked into the fire. They shrieked in agony as they felt the worst pains imaginable, while at the same time they were forced to relive their worst memories and nightmares while they were slowly and excruciatingly converted into power. Zylana was the last to go, and for a moment Aldion felt tempted to reach out his hand and pull her back. However much she deserved her fate, she had been the first mortal he had encountered, and he felt something almost like sentiment. But he shook the foolish notion away. Her soul screamed with the rest of them.

For a long while he watched the souls swirl burn, transfixed by their suffering. The world was young, and although these souls had done enough to damn themselves, most had only committed one or two grievous crimes. It was a matter of weeks before most of them had burned out. Eventually, only Zylana remained. She was stronger than he had given her credit for.

He studied her curiously. Then, on a sudden whim, he snatched her from the forge as she passed by. Her soul was a frayed, mangled thing, still shrieking in pain and trauma. ”I can free you from your current fate,” he offered. “Everything that you were, are, and ever will be will belong to me. But you will be given new life. New purpose. More powerful than you ever were before. Your pain will end.”

The soul let out a consenting shriek.

”Very well,” Aldion nodded curtly, before flinging her back into the forge.

She screamed again, louder than ever before, while Aldion conjured forth a blade and cut his wrist, spilling black blood into the Forge. He focused his might. Suddenly, the soul within the Forge became quiet and deathly still. Aldion’s blood as well as the essence of the other burned souls began to coalesce around it, taking the shape of a figure.

Zylana was born anew.

She sauntered out of the Forge, the fires no longer hurting her. She was shaped much like she been as an elf, but with too many differences for someone to even think she was the same species. Her skin was red, like Aldion’s. A pair of horns protruded from her forehead. Her eyes glowed yellow. A pair of leathery wings extended from her back. She held out her hand, and claws sprouted from her fingers. A vicious grin appeared on her face.

Then, she knelt before Aldion, and swore her undying fealty. Aldion studied her closely. There were no thoughts of betrayal in her mind. She did not begrudge what had been done to her, partly because the pact made such treasonous thoughts impossible, and partly because all she could think about was this new rush of power, combined with the understanding of where such power came from.

Aldion also realized she still carried no remorse for her past actions. The murder. She didn’t even remember her victim’s name. In fact, it actually seemed as if she was now looking forward to more victims. To kill, to maim, to torture. She had developed quite a cruel and inventive mind, he realized.

He considered the implications of this. No matter, he ultimately decided. She had received her punishment, and now that she was within her power she could commit no further crimes, sins, or betrayals.

Besides, there would be plenty of ways for her to get her claws bloody while serving his will.

”Rise, my servant,” he commanded. And she did.

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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Awakened Ark

Anath Homura & Family

How much time had passed…

When had she become so solitary…

Among the many singing stars there was an ancient ark all alone and entirely enveloped in divine ice that cheerfully reflected and refracted the beauty of the awakened cosmos, yet the ice also concealed that which dwelt within it - and so the shimmering vessel that was once known as Skydancer continued to drift aimlessly across the unknown in cold silence.

Anath Homura soared towards the frozen ark, alighting atop the frigid exterior with an agile step. Immediately the ice began to disperse because of her presence, breaking apart into pieces which dispersed into sparkling streams that were washed away and allocated amidst the celestial celebration. Swiftly, the red goddess descended into the cool depths, and into the interior of the immense vessel.

Otherworldly light illuminated the ornate and vivid confines of the ark, revealing the numerous structures decorated with large gemstones and a myriad of glittering veins consisting of precious materia that were shaped into intricate glyphs imbued with heavenly power. There were many of these buildings, enough to compose a city, though there was no coherency in their arrangement. No obvious organization that would allow for easy navigation. Each and every edifice was unique in its appearance due to the assortment of magical jewels and runic patterns, and nearly all of them were empty.

With purpose in her stride, Anath Homura approached the one structure that was occupied and swiftly stepped within its lit space. She was evidently not concerned with intruding, aware that the few inhabitants to be found here had sensed her arrival and had been expecting her to eventually come. They were waiting for her…

Homura was greeted by her two divine daughters with disdain and aversion, as one refused to look at her by turning her back to her, while the other was scowling at her from behind an apathetic mask. Neither spoke as they all stood in the desolate room - all of them with a nearly identical face and form… and so Homura turned her attention to the two prone shapes laid upon the floor nearby with a lit brazier resting between them; the slumbering duo were both familiar and strange to her.

“Their flames have dwindled… They have forgotten their forms.” Homura said, stepping closer to the two statues that were once upon a time also her daughters. Two featureless faces returned her gaze, devoid of emotion and perception, yet still ever so subtly alive. The burning brazier beside them which held the blessed Phoenix had preserved their lives, and the red goddess felt the faint warmth from their two pockets of inner flames reach out towards her…

There was love and hatred in that flicker of warmth directed at her, and Homura wondered whether she would ever receive forgiveness from her family after all of her failures. Harmony continued to hide her vehement frustration with a neutral expression, but such feelings could not be concealed from her mother and maker. Desire danced between dispassionate sorrow and reluctant joy in their occasional conversations, but would more often just align herself with the sentiments of her sister than not. Then there was Fear and Pride - Her children that had yet to become truly divine...

“Oh, I wish Pipsqueak could see herself right now. She’s become rather plump…” Desire remarked in a dry tone, as she finally turned around and faced Homura with a mixture of mirth and irritation. Her comment was accompanied by a casual gesture towards the more compressed of the two statues, which as a result had become rather rotund, or so it seemed.

“It was never my intention for them to revert to their previous states.” Homura replied somberly, kneeling beside her two catatonic children and placing her hands upon their bald heads. Dancing dark runes manifested upon her skin, and slithered along her limbs to where she touched the two slumbering statues, traversing from her body onto their bodies. Then emerging from the unseen essence of existence, a scarlet substance akin to blood began to accumulate above the three that were marked with the symbols of sorcery.

Afterwards red rain fell upon them, and the flow of ruby rivulets splashed softly against their shapes before seeping into their skin. Soon the surface of the two statues began to change, now stained with colored textures and shifting in order to adopt a different appearance. The more longer and lithe statue became another simulacrum of Homura, as the short and round statue became a younger version of the red goddess with much of her previous mass transforming into an abundance of pink hair adorned with white ribbons.

Fear and Pride both slowly opened their eyes, and saw their celestial mother and sacred sisters staring down at them. Without words, much was conveyed between all of them in an ephemeral moment: some relief, some remorse, fathomless dread, a glimmer of hope, that conflicting love and hatred, a multitude of oxymoronic emotions that was overwhelming, yet crystalline clear to them... and after a time of lingering silence came tender embraces and more conventional conversation. However, the majority among their gathering was hesitant to speak; Harmony remained reticent while Fear repeatedly opened her mouth to talk before she would simply surrender without uttering a single word.

Pride and Desire briefly engaged in idle chatter to prevent any awkward tension from accumulating or returning, and the joyful laughter that erupted from the latter as she teased her smallest sister was enough to alleviate the anxiety. “I wasn’t ever obese, you blind fool!” Pride retorted with a stricken ego, as Desire continued to chuckle after avoiding retribution, and Harmony moved with nonchalant grace to comfort the offended one by gently stroking her head - which only further irked Pride as she complained about the two twin goddesses. It was another opportune time for Fear to voice the question that haunted her mind as she addressed her now ignored mother.

“Umm… what’s your plan for us now?” Fear asked nervously, as her hand began to tremble despite her efforts to calm herself. She struggled to even hold eye contact with Homura, and felt crushed beneath the weight of that otherworldly gaze upon her. She was afraid, and she quickly pondered whether that was the intention of her manipulative mother, or not. The others also became quiet as they awaited a response from their maker, eager to know what the future would entail for them.

“We shall return home.” Anath Homura answered softly, as she allowed a demure smile to emerge since she was finally reuniting with her family. The red goddess still held onto the vigorous faith that had led her this far upon the Sacred Path.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Chris488
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A New Home

Anath Homura & Family

“Return home?” The daughters of Anath Homura asked aloud with a number of varying sentiments, as they stared at the red goddess who was their mother and maker with evident bemusement quickly becoming anticipation.

The ancient ark began to hum with divine power as the red goddess tapped into its tremendous power through awakening it, and claimed command of its meandering voyage throughout the void - altering its direction. Then instead of merely mirroring the myriad of lights from the surrounding stellar festivities, the ark that was known as Skydancer became a source of otherworldly illumination that matched the brightness of those shining stars. Its bejeweled exterior became a beautiful scintillating shell seen even from the surface of the primordial world, wherein it would appear to mortal viewers as a prismatic arrow soaring across the heavens.

The ark flew swiftly as it pierced the luminous skies and came closer to the land, yet inside it did not shake, so its denizens could share in quiet conversation accompanied by the ambient suppressed thrum. Anath Homura held out her hand, and emerging from her upright palm was a fragment of sacred stone that resembled a ruby - rippling like unsettled water, yet also resilient with an aura of subtle strength.

“Keltra will require our power to be rebuilt. The great passage of time and prevalent destructive energies that endured have eroded its fortitude.” Anath Homura explained without inflection, pointedly glancing between her daughters before setting her gaze upon the shifting shard within her grasp once more. “I would have our new home more closely connected to the heavens, and more freed from the weight of the material world.”

“You have completed the cage then, and now you wish to build another?” Harmony inquired, staring at the white rose that had replaced the second Anath Homura, and the vitriol towards her mother that she wished to convey was clear despite the dispassionate tone employed. She struggled in the misbegotten silence and could not articulate her frustrating remorse after asking the potentially impertinent question - especially because she and the others were all aware that she would obey their mother regardless.

“Will you forgive me? I do not intend to forsake you, nor enslave you. I solely wish to be with my family now… To be with all of you.” Anath Homura answered, exuding serenity with her heavenly voice and the stillness of her stance. There was no need for an excessive display of might or much persuasion. Even though all aside from one among them were nearly identical in appearance, there was a colossal difference in the presence and power of the one that commanded them, and those that followed her decree.

“You still haven’t asked what we want though, hehe. Would you let us leave if we wanted to travel and see the rest of the world? I ask because I’d rather not be tortured and imprisoned just because we provoked you. I think that’s a terrible trait to possess and inflict upon others, mother.” Desire commented with the mischievous combining of a wry smirk and casual shrug. The temptation to aggravate and assault her mother was relentless after hearing all of the pretenses and chagrin. She was not foolish enough to believe that she would win in a battle against the one that wielded such power, but perhaps her defeat would be spiteful enough to make it worth it. Desire hummed to herself as she pondered what would occur after her hypothetical demise.

“I wouldn’t be bothered by some catharsis after dying and all that. Let’s just spend some time together and cross that river when we reach it, if that analogy makes sense.” Pride added, stepping towards Anath Homura and proceeding to stand beside the progenitor goddess in order to avoid an actual confrontation. She had recalled a previous encounter wherein Harmony and Desire had readied their weapons in defiance of their mother - and she hoped she could prevent that situation from being repeated.

“If you wish to go… I would let you. You are an immortal now, and closer to equilibrium. It would be inefficient to keep you in Keltra against your will. However, I ask that you allow me to amend our relationships.” Anath Homura said, as Fear silently strode forward and then stood beside her as well.

“How can we be so close, and yet so separated?” Harmony asked, and the rebellious resonance in her unheard and unseen visage was temporarily extinguished - the expressionless mask she wore hid nothing now. Her twin peered at her with curiosity glittering in her mismatched colored eyes, until she gave another shrug and nodded in acceptance.

Harmony and Desire languidly approached Anath Homura, and then touched the scarlet stone fragment that would become the reincarnated Keltra. Their mother refrained from further discussing their reluctance and said nothing as she opened a spiritual channel to connect with them. It allowed them to concentrate and collaborate better through synchronized senses and thoughts. Then the divine trinity fused their sacred strength and poured otherworldly power into the shifting shard they held. It stirred further, becoming boisterous and animated at once; fierce protrusions burst forth and stabbed outwards in a number of random directions.

The three divine summoned a cavity beneath their feet and began to kneel as they lowered the swelling seed of Keltra through the opening. Deeper and deeper, passing beyond the material of the ancient ark and out above the great sea which spread out in all directions. During their conversation, Skydancer had come to a halt high over the massive melody of waves and water that ever ebbed and flowed, and the ark hung there in radiant tranquility as its hum joined the song of the sea.

Barely visible was the pulsating seed that resembled a very large ruby carried by the three goddesses that descended from the unsealed stomach of the luminous vessel. The lack of visual prominence would swiftly change as the seed expanded at a rapid rate: It burned brightly in their hands, an incandescence akin to the celestial children of the heavens and blinding to any mortal that may have gazed upon it. The numerous limbs that sprouted from the core like roots and branches began to interweave with each other into a complex arrangement that spread out from where Homura and her daughters had released the transforming sacred stone.

The ritual with its sole component seemed to have attained an automatic understanding of what it would become - almost alive with an instinctual idea and independence. The expanding seed adopted a new shape, forming into an intricate combination of rings that had surrounded and connected to a tall structure in the center. This formation was retained as it continued to increase in proportions, until its measurements matched the massive ark that flew close to it. Then it became larger, until it was comparable in size to the great mountains erected upon the distant landmass.

The three goddesses flew beneath the immense flying fortress that had been forged into existence. Blowing forth from below, powerful gusts of wind continually elevated the trio until they were uplifted to the height of the smaller ring and crossways within the interior of Keltra. Homura and her daughters gracefully alighted upon the accessible paths that connected the smaller inner ring to the much larger outer ring, and stood there for a time, acutely analyzing every aspect of the reincarnated Keltra with their divine sight.

“Freed from the weight of the world…” Harmony murmured when the mental connection with her mother and sisters was severed, and after she had finished her examination of the strange, yet recognizable surroundings.

“Levitation for our new home - and that flurry of wind will carry any that fall back up.” Desire commented with a conflicted mingling of enthusiasm and concern. She remained uncertain whether she would be content to remain here for a long time with her family.

“Retrieve your sisters… let them enjoy the safety and respite that their new home offers. The season of strife has come to an end, and the season of solace begins.” Anath Homura ordained, as she strode towards the heart of Keltra; towards the towering citadel that awaited them. She promised herself that she would not forsake her home again, and stay here with her daughters to protect them.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Chris488
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The Twilight

Anath Homura & Family

Anath Homura gazed upon the towering core structure that stood before her as she slowly strode towards it. The center of the newly forged Keltra consisted of the inner ring which encircled the tall citadel, both of which were connected to each other and the rest of the flying fortress via the crossways that attached themselves to the outer Ring and the outside acclivity. The crossways passed through the four gates of the inner ring, allowing access to the looming citadel that was the resplendent heart of her new home.

All of Keltra was seemingly sculpted from the resilient red stone that resembled the texture and visage of a ruby, and much of the symmetrical stronghold still shimmered like a glittering gemstone in the continual illumination of the celestial celebration that had currently spread all across the skies. Numerous pillars arranged in a protective circle around the citadel formed the inner ring - letting the joyous light and the rush of wind through, along with the wide bridges that Anath Homura walked upon.

Beyond the open doorways of the citadel, the immense interior of the core structure was brightly lit by the radiant presence of the red goddess and the plethora of gentle luminescence that poured in from the fenestrated walls and oculus that occupied the center of the domed ceiling overhead. The interior lacked furnishings, but compensated the emptiness with architectural flourishes and spacious potential - intricate and artistic carved patterns accompanied by embedded jewels decorated the walls and ceiling, along with plenty of alcoves where exquisite reredos awaited the erection of various shrines and altars.

Anath Homura left a multi-colored mosaic trail upon the floor as she stepped further into the citadel, and that lingering path in her wake began to simultaneously expand and split apart, becoming many intersecting paths that spanned the vast chamber like a wondrous web of rainbows to walk upon. The complex construction was complimented by the contrasting simplicity of the clear sky surrounding it, and Anath Homura felt satisfied as she came to a halt in the center of the flying fortress, directly beneath the oculus that showed the shining heavens above.

“Come to me, my children!” She called out, and the singing stars became quiet as they heeded her words. The numerous dazzling dancers streaked across the skies towards Keltra, descending from the darkness that surrounded the cosmos and arriving swiftly so that they all were gathered afore the Creatrix. The light of day began to fade, and the world was shrouded in darkness where the sun was absent, and the stars were much more quiet.

Desire, Harmony, Pride, and Fear returned from Skydancer and stepped into the citadel where they witnessed their lone mother showered in scintillating light. Her body bathed in the beautiful radiance of the stars that surrounded her, and her divine presence caused those stars to change their shapes. Anath Homura had ordained such, long ago when she reforged them from the ashes of nothing and foretold their fate.

“You will be my Archai, my messengers.”

It was well known that the stars were shifting spirits, and these stars had once worn the skin of mortalkind. Now they donned their prior visages, or at least appearances akin to their previous forms: Their astral light was sheathed in coppery skin except for a few shimmering marks where some radiance slipped through and shone brightly, and ethereal wings emerged from their backs. They vaguely resembled the form of Anath Homura, though they were much taller, and their features varied with greater musculature and the sporadic beards among those that were men. Their dark hair grew beneath luminous haloes or majestic horns atop their heads, and their eyes glimmered an icy blue.

The Archai kneeled before Anath Homura, arranged around the perimeter of the chamber and in spiral rows that came closer and closer to the red goddess. There were thousands, and yet they stayed ever silent and still in a state of absolute serenity, awaiting her edict. There was a straight path for the four daughters of Anath Homura to approach their mother, and so they hastily strode towards her - with Desire carrying Pride in her arms. As deities themselves, Desire and Harmony could feel the cold coming of night upon the world, and they felt concern for those that were unfamiliar to the darkness. Anger crossed their features as both of them stood beside their sisters in front of the frightening one that had carelessly wrought such sudden suffering.

It seemed as though their mother was testing them - testing their loyalty. That, or she remained unaware of how she tormented her children. Tension subtly simmered between those that were blessed with otherworldly power, as the two goddesses seethed and contemplated whether they would launch an attack, or accept this atrocity. Fight or surrender. Anath Homura awaited their decision...

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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Chris488
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Chris488 Doesn't write anymore

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The Beginning of Turn II

The Celestial Celebration Comes to an End

The stars that sang and danced have become quiet; whether they were receding deeper into the depths of the void so that they were only visible as small shimmering specks when darkness descends upon the world, or if they were swiftly answering the powerful call of the Creatrix and now acting as the celestial servants of the scarlet summoner - the result was the same: night had fallen, for the sun was not enough to illuminate the entirety of the cosmos.

Perhaps the newly arisen pantheon would protect those that would be afraid, or perhaps they would take advantage of the terror and sow chaos across the planet. It was their choice - Their whim - Indeed, their prerogative. The gods and goddesses would continue to create, and the world would continue to change. What new tales shall be woven into the Tapestry as the Divine enact their will? Will they offer salvation, or will they wreak havoc?

The coming changes are inevitable, and the answer shall soon be written…

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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Turn 1 - The Umbral Woods & the Human Satyr Awakening

And so, the Ferryman and Ashevelen left Myrtu and the steppe. True to his word, the Ferryman took a detour back to the Umbral Woods and dropped off the human statues which Ashevelen got from Mytru.

With a smile and big thank you, she bid farewell to the Ferryman as he continued his endless task, while Ashevelen turned to a different task. The Umbra quickly gathered around their Goddess, offering her apples and whatever else they found, in exchange for some menial help from her.

I see I have taught you well, my creations and while I have to refuse your price for the offerings, I will grant you a gift. As important as my help would’ve been, I assure you. But, before that…”, she stopped mid sentence and motioned for the Umbra to look upon the human statues, which they quickly did, studying them and trying to understand what they are exactly and after a few moments, Ashevelen continued.

They are called humans. Another mortal race created by a different divine. They are not to replace you but they are to act as your companions, friends, builders and whatnot. In their current form they’re unsuited to do much here and later on, they’ll even be more unsuited to be. So, please, stand aside and see your creator work.

The gathered Umbra quickly scrambled, some hiding in the shadows of the trees, while others at what they considered to be a safe distance.

Ashevelen moved her hands rhythmically and with a few words, the human statues were enveloped in shadows. The shadows moved and swayed, moulding the statues, giving them a slightly altered form. Feet became hooves, legs bent similar to a goat’s and their skin turned back and then, and only then, their statue forms broke and the shadows disappeared.

The humans fell on the ground, a look of confusion in their eyes.

I am not your creator but I have given you life. You shall be called Satyrs and you shall be the guardians of this forest. Two tasks I give you and in exchange, I shall offer you divine protection. Guard this forest against those that mean it harm and reproduce, make more of yourselves. My Umbra will show you around and choose a spot where you can build a village. ” said Ashevelen, her voice friendly but firm.

As a few of the Umbra guided the confused Satyrs to a different place in the forest, Ashe turned her attention to the other Umbras who were still waiting for their gift.

I have not forgotten about you, don’t worry. I grant you the book of trade. ” said Ashe while putting her hand inside her robes and pulling out a massive book.

This, my creations, is one of my most prized artefacts. No matter where you are, as long as you’ve put any type of currency inside it, it will show you the local prices for any goods you might inquire about. It will allow you to get the best trades at the best prices and if pointed towards a person, will give you the best advice on how to approch him.

The book was blank currently but with time, it would start filling itself up with prices, goods and services.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Kho
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Khoris productions present:

Dance Me a River and Call it Teddington

And wonder filled the world. No mount or river was left untouched. No hidden pit of lava or lake, no forest grove, no pond, no hill! Wonder waded, ran, and flew - he was joyous, sad, and true; whatever brought awe, he was that too! And as he did all that, in his wandering sort of way, he did not forget to get absolutely lost.

(As an aside, he found getting lost to be marvelous in its own fashion. It was pertinent that whenever one found oneself growing bored with all life had to offer, whenever one’s mouth began to adopt a habitual sort of grimness and a damp and dreary winter has set into your soul (though mind you, winter can be truly marvelous, and even dreariness can have its own sort of wonder), and especially when monotony has gotten such an upper hand over you that it takes a strong moral principle to prevent yourself from intentionally seeking out every hat-wearing god and methodically knocking their hats off; at that point you should consider it the perfect time to get yourself truly and utterly lost. There is nothing controversial about this: anyone who has a modicum of self-awareness must at some point or another be possessed with an ineffable desire to get absolutely lost.)

Not knowing where he was, Wonder hefted his sword in one hand, the Son-o’-Falyn in the other, and wandered across the icy plains giving his bare chest to the scold of the cold and wail of the hail. There was an awesome power to the furious elements, a breathtaking beauty in the barren endlessness of the snow plains. But through that all something else called him - the echo of a sliver of the whisper of a memory subjected to absolute ruination called to him through the howl of the winds and strike of the ice. The sword of wonder leapt into his grip; it was a burst of flame in the gathered darkness, the wonder of warmth against the overawing cold. The light spiralled with the darkness, the warmth embraced the cold, the storm danced about the marvelling, circling god. He raised his arms - the Son-o’-Falyn ascending like innocence into the pit, the sword of wonder rising like a lodestar that called the dancing memory, the echo, the whisper, forth - and all about the world thundered and raged, the earth shook, the spiral of light and darkness shimmered and nearly broke. The god in the tumult stumbled, leapt, fell and rose. The Son-o’-Falyn opened his eyes and let out an unfreezing tear and shrill cry. The plain of ice was a raging sea, the clouds above frowned deep and cracked, lightning burst and thunder clapped - and amidst it all rose marvel’s sword; it brightly flashed and trilled and hacked! Marvel’s sword and the child of wonder, the Forever Child, the Son-o’-Falyn.

Pillars of ice ascended like frozen leviathans brought to unstilled life, glaciers welled up and crashed against one another, mountains and hills formed in the turmoil; and through it all the sword of wonder glimmered and glinted. Dusty specks of ice exploded in every direction, joining the hurricane, and the marveling eye of the god pulled memory and dance from the echo that trapped them in that fearsome maelstrom of bewildering awe and wonder. He pulled forth the dance with twinkling eyes that very well knew they had fallen upon an inestimable treasure… and when all had descended into calm and silence once more he housed the strange light he had pulled out (that odd dance and joy, that memory) in a towering mausoleum of ice.

The light scintillated and danced in there, it teased at tales and whispered of wonders, and it twisted and twirled- but spoke naught at all. Wonder watched and listened, and even the Forever Child watched with hushed rapture. The god danced with the light and laughed - he wept a little too, oh how sorrowful was such loss! How joyous that this sliver was saved! How marvelous that there was one wonder more in the world! “Tell me your tale, you titillating minx!” He laughed as the light dodged and weaved about his form, nipped at the button nose of the child, then swept away. But the light spoke nothing, it only shone and joyed and danced.

“We never spoke to each other…” A familiar voice intoned, coming from nowhere and everywhere at once, with a resonant and subtle regret within the words that softly seeped into the wondrous surroundings like the welcoming warmth of a midsummer bonfire. The silvery shadows of shame and grief melded with the luminous melody, as another stepped into sight and spectated in simmering silence - the red summoner, the creatrix, the one called Anath Homura.

Wonder turned to her with an easy smile, blade on his shoulder, child on his arm, and beheld her for a few moments. “Ah, Anath. You are not as I thought you’d be.” It did not seem to sadden him. “You have a wondrous sadness to you - in truth, all of this place has a sadness to it. You can taste it.” He turned to the light that not long ago had been a fading echo. “Even this little ball of delight. Sorrow! Sorrow! Ah!” He brought the child to his face, and it yelped in annoyance and pushed his face away. “I meant that, by the way,” the god added, gesturing to the dancing light. He brought his sword down and buried its tip into the glassy ice, then leant on it. “But I reckon if anyone knows what this light-once-echo is, and why this sorrow is so, it is you Anath.”

“You have reckoned… correctly; I am ever witness to that which is written and woven into the tapestry of the world - suffused with an accumulating sorrow, and the lingering remnants of the agonizing stigma, yet therein remains a sacred beauty to be found within such a suffering. Tell me, what does family mean to you?” She asked him as she stared into his eyes with solemn emphasis, or perhaps it would be more apt to claim that it was the Orphan Flame who posed the question to the Boy that brought forth Fear and Awe, and now awaited an answer.

Wonder met her gaze with casual ease and a quick chuckle. “Family.” He sighed and looked away from the staring goddess. “Community! Ah. I looked into the mind of a woman once and saw the most wondrous thing about some mortal settlements in her soul. How did she put it? Hmm… ‘No lonesome, cryptic autocrats were they, no dominators or imprisoners, no selfish forgetters. They were a community. Ah! How beautiful was that? The very notion was so… well, romantic. No member of that species could, alone, survive. They were all dependent on one another, all lived together and by so doing confessed their greatest weakness and embraced their glorious strength. Ah! A community!’” The god shivered, though not due to any cold. “It’s a marvelous thing, family. Wondrous to behold. Wondrous in its beauty and selfless giving. Terrible in its cruelty, its insatiable taking. Like the mortals we make, like we ourselves, it has in it all the wonders of beauty and all the horror of ugliness; it is in all ways awe-inspiring and awe-full.” He paused there, having spoken much but given no ultimate indication as to what, exactly, family meant to him.

Anath Homura let out a breath as she turned her gaze away from him, and then tilted her head with idle curiosity. Even as she began to speak the strange light that Wonder had pulled forth hovered around her head, circling tirelessly. “I believe family is sacred, and that has proven to be a source of much sorrow. Family feels as though it is both a blessing and a curse, akin to all other aspects of existence. I ask myself; have I become profane? Is my faith lacking?” She slowly stepped forward, aimlessly adrift after she posed her question and then danced the circular motion of the dance that those who were perfectly lost, truly meandering with swirling grace, seeking to be found and heard by another.

Wonder was no finder, however, he only sought to be discovered and known. He hefted his blade and the wondrous thing drifted in the air so that all around them was light and motion. The light-once-echo expanded until it embraced everything within the mausoleum so that Anath and Wonder alike were thrall to a dance not their own. The Son-o’-Falyn sat on his shoulder, like a rooted sapling, and Wonder took the Anath’s hand so that their whirl became one: Creatrix, Child, Wonder, and Blade. Speechless spirits sifted around them, wove around their weaving dance, lit up with kaleidoscopic stars the light of the dance; angered, sorrowed, joyed, and despaired.

“What is this sacred, what is this profane, Anath?” Wonder laughed as they moved, “what is this faith? I am all things sacred and I am all things profane! Faith alone cannot behold me - though faith’s a wondrous thing - but to be behold me you must wonder! Profanity and sacredness, faith and curses and blessings, all are wondrous, Anath, in their beauty and all their ugliness, wondrous, marvelous, terrible!” He brought his nose right up to hers and looked into her one endlessly sorrowing eye and kissed the white rose where once there had been another, “these are all the food of the soul, Anath. Even your sadness. Even your sorrow. Even you! Oh wondrous wondrous!”

And his eyes were aglow with the glow of the dance, and the spirits that wove around them seemed to take on more and more of a corporeal form as the dance carried them. That one there looked almost like the Anath. That there had endless dusky hair! That there seemed a giant ball of snow. That there a golden bolt of lightning, endless energy and zest and joy! Among them was a serpent of flame, hers an inferno to rival Po’s. An earth-hearted guardian, a ruinous woman, a wispy, blue-eyed spectre too! Doom incarnate and an all-seeing eye, and a masked hunter, silent, prowling. A saline woman, tall and sad, beside whom stood a tar-spewing monolith to work. A shadow was among them too, shifting like a silent guard, and a merry drunk with a sage’s gait, a defiant tower of smoke as well, with a blade that dwarfed wonder’s sword in size. And others yet. They danced about them, round and round, they clashed with one another now, then parted again, and the dance went on in its sorrows and joys, a story in pure motion!

“We are granted sight of the sacred; an awareness of the song and dance of the cosmos. The profane blinds us, and severs the connections we have. Faith is my flame both beautiful and brutal, burning the insidious taint before it leads to our annihilation - to a silent nonexistence. Faith is my flame, illuminating my family so that I can find them again in the future.” The red goddess murmured, with the glittering reflection of wonder in her one remaining eye being the sole and subtle sign of her lamentation. She silently mourned for the forsaken spirits of her family, performing a dance among the dead that acted as an ethereal and ephemeral memorial for them.

The wondering god shook as the dance enveloped them all, and his voice rocked the very foundations of the icy mausoleum and the world of dance and light that breathed within it: “Pristine and pure! Such sincerity and love! I shall make you wondrous with me, Anath, and all the world shall wonder at your family - and shall remember! And if forgetfulness seeps through (and the terrible, awe-full end of all things) then I shall wonder still and remember. Wonder may sleep, but wonder does not die!” He halted and his overawed and maddened gaze turned back to her sorrowful eye, and there was in his softness and innocence. His grip tightened on hers. “This shall I do for you who freed me from the void - only show me, Anath, the marvel of your smile.”

His fantastical and passionate proclamation only induced an aloof and flaccid look from her, as she seemed to languidly slow and limply shift in his grasp, similar to those slumbering sandy shorelines stirred by the waking waves sent forth from the sea - surprisingly demure. “Your conviction brings me euphoria, but your promise has yet to be fulfilled, so I shall not smile.”

He released her and turned away, the Son-o’-Falyn falling from his shoulder and back into his arm, and the wondering god whirled with blade transfixed towards the sky. He spun like a spinning top - the Forever Child blared like a goat fading in and out of earshot. Then wonder ceased to spin and a sing-song chant erupted from his throat as he leapt with the dancing spirits.
“I have walked,
I have run,
I’ve fixed mile on mile -
all I want,
all I ask,
is to see your smile.
If you won’t,
if you can’t,
then I tell you I~’ll
Go into exi~le!

Have some trust,
don’t you frown,
it’ll be worthwhile
If you cry
all too much
you will go senile
Lean on me!
You’ve a friend!
You are not an i~sle!
Let us see your smi~le!”

And not releasing that final note, the marvelling god led the great troop of spirits in a great loop around the mausoleum as lights exploded all about, and came to a halt with his grinning face uncomfortably close to that of Homura. “Don’t smile for me!” He said. “Smile for you!” He turned away and swung the blade of wonder lazily about. “As someone I dearly love once told me, the world ain’t worth your frown, darlin.” He looked back expectantly at the one-eyed goddess. “So, Anath- will you?” The spirits gathered around seemed to lean in and hang on the decision. “Think they’d like it too.” He gestured to them with his head.

The red goddess allowed the corners of her mouth to turn upwards, and her rosy cheeks were pushed higher, and the tension across her features faded as her face relaxed. She appeared akin to a beautiful maiden, serenely sincere and innocently blissful. Then the frightening falsehood of what stood before He Who Beholds was revealed through such a modest act; that shadow of a smile, pretentiously contrived and painfully bittersweet. It gleamed prominently, proudly exposing itself. How clearly it could be seen; the dreadful secret of the creatrix, the one that wielded the tremendous power to create a nascent world, and the power to desolate it, the ancient one among this pantheon that was assigned the task of weaving the tapestry anew, the one known as Anath Homura.

She was a petulant child, upon the precipice of being broken by what she had witnessed… Her youthful visage was composed of an otherworldly crumbling crystal, bleeding with suppressed emotions and virtuous aspirations perverted by a senile mind. It would be foolishly ignorant to either accept or deny her insanity, as she was the one that had birthed this burgeoning cosmos and continued to wander freely without constraint - fleeing from the trauma, stubbornly seeking whatever unknown destiny awaited her with a clouded vision. She was the one that chose to currently disregard her own dementia as she resumed her sluggish dancing.

“An empty smile for an empty promise.” Anath Homura monotonously replied, her apathetic answer accompanied by a sudden aura of malice emanating forth from her now.

Wonder’s smile froze on his face, and his awe-maddened eyes - a suddenly keen amber in colour - bulged. The sword of wonder, alight with an impossible variegated flame, shifted and a thousand afterimages hovered around the form of the darkening god. It was not so much that he was darkening, but his fury was as the gathering of thunderclouds which obscured all light and promised only deepest darkness. In the arm of the Awe-full One, the Forever Child opened his eyes (and there was in them a most terrible and unnatural tenebrosity) before climbing the god’s bare chest and settling on his shoulder, back turned to the Anath. He had no sooner settled there when great wings of smoke and stars erupted about the Awebringer, and a crown of fire lit up his pitch-black hair. He was then the twilight of existence; he was the light of the world. Grimness incarnated upon his face and the spirits scattered in every which way and tore at themselves till they were extinguished and beyond sight. “In the lap of unliving aeons I slept... I was caused to sleep. And I thought I would sleep forevermore, my fate thus halted and destiny foiled, the age of wonder stilled, the marvels of the world nevermore to be beheld. But behold: I have awoken! - you brought me forth, Anath, you stirred me once again. I have awed worlds before, I have beheld with the eyes of crazed wonder - I have struck with its sword, I have slain the lifeless corpses of those who could not marvel. I am come, Anath, you unloosed me on existence! I strike with the sword of wonder.

“You woke what should ne'er be woken and summoned what ne'er should be summoned through the veil of the beginning and end: and lo! this world was without wonder. Your voice unleashed me, then behold! there was wonder. I was the hidden jewel of the worlds, and I have come forth a wonder yet hidden; and I have come for no other purpose than to be known. Behold me ye who are above and who are below, ye who are granted the beholding arts: your perfection is in knowing me! I am the wonder of the skies and trees! I am the wonder of the earth and rivers! I am the wonder of all hidden selves and multitudinous forms! I am the wonder of the world - I am wonder! All that thou art is naught if wonder is not in it! Have it as you will; if you do not lift the veil of wonder then await my wonder's sword: I strike with the sword of wonder!

“Aye, you are wondrous, Anath, but I am all of wonder and I am all of awe.” And even as the canon strike of his voice echoed in the icy mausoleum, the malice pulsing from the creatrix seemed to meld with the undeniable and awe-full pressure emanating from the Awebringer, and whatever dread it should have struck into the hearts of all who beheld it seemed to dissipate - or rather, seemed to become one with Wonder.

“You have not smiled the smile for these eyes and you have not spoken the words for these ears. Yet wondrous is the pity in my heart for you and dreadful the venom you have spewed. You have loosed me, Anath!- and I am no ingrate. I am all that is full and bursting; you alone are empty and emaciated. But add no sorrows to your sorrows, for when you are a memory - as you shall be - then will I be charitable even as I now am. Mine is the ever overflowing cup, and my fullness is lessened naught in filling your memory utterly. Aye, you shall be beheld alongside me with wonder when you are a long-gone shade! Behold!- my promises are the incarnation of fullness! But see to it that you go- go and never return, for you are not the face for these eyes.” The sword shifted again, its polychromatic flames flaring. The Son-o’-Falyn on the shoulder of Wonder turned his head - lips curled, black eyes wide as moons - turned his head completely and unnaturally and unloosed a terrible stare into the one remaining eye of the almighty creatrix. The sword of wonder fell so that its pointed rested against unperceived ground before the god whose wings were the cosmos, and he brought both his hands against the pommell and stood there like a mountain.

“I am what I am.” Anath Homura answered, and she stood before the miraculous mountain as a small and solitary skeletal figure - devoid of sacred sight; without a hearing heart, without a singing soul, without the essence of existence. The being before him was an Anathema to the wondrous world, and viciously mocking him with her stagnant shape, her cruel lack of comprehension and antithesis to awe. This unspoken and delusional derision was ever the aberrant way of an unholy abomination such as she.

The Awebringer, for all her emaciation, beheld her; even such emptiness held wonder. Fearsome was he, grim his aspect, terrible his sword, but yet was he charitable and overflowing. He stepped forth through the darkness and his towering form alighted by her little one, his forbidding face coming to rest before hers. The void in her held awe, he beheld it. The death of all song in her too was a marvel; death held wonder and he beheld it. And the mockery seemed but a challenge, seemed but a cry for help: in its ways a heartwarming marvel, and he beheld it. His dark visage broke then and a smile returned. “I have beheld. Thou art that thou art, and what thou art may never be destroyed. No coward soul is thine, Anath, no trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere. Behold wonder’s glories shine - like faith that shines and arms you from all fear.” His hand was on her fiery head and he stroked her gently, then with a sweep took her up on his other shoulder and descended to the icy mausoleum floor, where the multitude of spirits that had dissipated before were now gathering themselves up again. “I salute you, kin of the Anath!” He declared. “Weave your tale eternally, for memory is undying while you weave.” He looked up at the Anath on his shoulder. “Are my promises not full, Anath? Am I not true? You should spurn to give me cruel words, both your eyes should bloom to behold me.” And he released a guffaw even as the Forever Child, dark-eyed no more, yawned and crawled back into the warmth of the god’s all-embracing arm.

The hostility of Anath Homura appeared much more diminished due to her current position, seated atop his shoulder and staring scornfully, but not bothered enough to relocate herself. Her disdain and ire had been deemed a ruse, resulting with her gaze returning to its former softer consideration as further displays of displeasure would be undignified. “It is not my intention to insult you. No… forgive me for my clumsiness.” She spoke, yet her wandering words did not reach him. The otherworldly words which the red goddess muttered sought something else, far away and adrift.

She continued, and her one eye lacked lucidity as she intoned. “Trapped within the Eternal Cycle of Return… I do not wish to repeat my mistakes. Your promise rekindles my pain, and those imprisoned within me seek to take advantage of my heartache. I was not prepared for this encounter - an overwhelming moment with memories that threaten the precarious tranquility I require.” Her sight slowly became focused, honing upon He Who Beholds, and her voice became soft. “Faith is a fire; whenever it burns too bright, it becomes blinding. I ask that you refrain from harming my one remaining eye. My frustration lingers, yet you also have my gratitude for such fiery faithfulness, Wehi Tama. Hmm… how irksome.”

The god beneath her stiffened at the sound of the name. The flame atop his head flared and his eyes glowed for seconds, but he quickly gained mastery over himself and calm returned. “I am not come to burn away sight, beloved Anath, but am come only to be known! Let the cycle turn as it may, let us return eternally - let our mistakes fill worlds! Let our suffering be the wonder of existence. We are only the sum of all our suffering and pain - oh what a wondrous whole we make! I knew a wise old witch long ago who had suffered terribly - oh how terrible it was Anath! But I heard her speak, and her words were thus: ‘And I, who knew only suffering and loneliness, who was forgotten by all, have come to know that the lifting of Suffering is the only true end to the life of mortals and immortals alike. It requires unparalleled kindness, compassion. It requires mercy. Suffering is an illness; where it is found, strive to remove it - whether in yourself or others. But where you find that you cannot remove your own suffering then there is but one option before you: we must strive to be worthy of our suffering. If our suffering breaks us, if it makes us cruel, selfish... surely then we have failed ourselves. In unavoidable suffering there are lessons to be learned and opportunities we cannot perceive. Indeed, unavoidable suffering is fertile soil for the cultivation of virtues that ease and the lap of luxury deny. The virtue cultivated during ease is that of moderation and self-restraint, that cultivated during suffering of fortitude, valour, forbearance. Ease can create good people, but it is out of suffering that heroes ultimately emerge.’ Oh what a wise old witch was she! Are we not heroes, Anath? What a marvelous thing is heroism!”

He turned and began making his way across the floor of the mausoleum and towards the towering gates of ice. “And I’ll tell you something else too,” his merry pontificating continued, “to behold wonder the heart must be opened wide to all emotion. To sorrow, horror, fear, disgust, and - above all - it must be opened to love. A love for wonder, a love for all things. And to love, Anath, to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and even broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give that heart to none and refuse to wonder aught. Wrap it carefully in little luxuries and bloated nothings; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness - care little and care not at all. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To wonder you must love, and to love at all is to be vulnerable. So when you gaze into the endless pit of your sorrows, Anath, when pain claws at your heart and your eye wanders and tears tremble: know that it is your love - and be joyous! Bask in the living pain of your endless love.”

Anath Homura allowed herself to sigh, and averted her eye from the preaching man acting as her improvised palanquin, instead looking to the approaching passage leading out of the icy mausoleum. “I came to offer peaceful greetings and gifts… Would you accept my unawakened vessels that await the touch of the Divine. Will you accept humanity?” She asked, with a hint of hesitation.

Wonder came to a halt at the entrance and gazed at the colossus waiting outside. He smiled gently and gazed up at the seated goddess. “You brought me a present?” Not waiting for a response, he held her in place and leapt forth, a single bellow of his cosmic wings causing them to erupt through the fabric of the spaces to appear, very suddenly, atop the colossus. “And I brought nothing for you!” He declared, joy and sorrow melding on his face.

“It is what it is. Freely given, as I only ask for you to follow the Sacred Path - to avoid straying from it and foolishly stepping towards annihilation.” The red goddess replied gently, then gestured to the whirling metallic sections of the colossus, which shifted below them as an opening emerged upon its upper back; now revealing the thousands of slumbering statues that sought to be shaped, still resting peacefully inside. Wonder gazed at the rows of clay figures, amber eyes glimmering.

“You have made them in my image,” he noted, “the better that they may wonder.”

“They are humans. You may change their form, as they are meant to be malleable.” She said, dismissing his comment with a lackadaisical shake of her head. Wonder nodded in understanding. “I see.” He spoke gravely. “So you have made them in my image.” He looked up at her with a quick grin. “Let them go forth, Anath, that the veil may be stripped from the eyes of creation and that they may behold me! Let them be our prophets unto creation! Let them sing thine praises and call unto a higher seeing - a true beholding! And in their awestruck skies let us as the sun and moon be. Then, when all have been called to the beholding, let the sword of wonder fall upon the blind!” He gestured with the blade of marvels. and two clay figurines erupted from amongst the others and came before the creatrix and her impromptu throne. They were man and woman, of darkest eyes and twilight hair, of icy skin, white as the falling snow, of scarlet lips - like blood, like rubies. They stood naked as innocence and bare as purity, and their eyes were wide with awe. “Honour them, Anath; let their names be born on your lips and let their architecture of their destiny emanate from your glorious vision. Let the flower of their lives bloom, and let them, through love, through hope, through faith’s transcendent dower, feel that they are greater than they know!”

“You would wake only two? Then will you not wake the remainder?” Anath Homura inquired, glancing at Wonder with mild bemusement. “And… do not delegate the naming of your humans to me.” She added. The god chuckled merrily and bent down to one knee before the two humans, so that the Anath’s feet were level with their heads. “Blessed are the few, Anath, for they alone can wonder. The great mass of existence passes by the marvels of the world and does not see them. Blessed are the few.” He glanced at her. “Name them for me. Make them glorious names. Fill them with your pleasure. Give forth your joy into the world that hope may blossom anew!”

Anath Homura closed her one eye, and let out another sigh. It was subtle, yet she shifted her composure when she addressed the two humans, speaking cordially to them. “So be it, you two shall be named Thought and Memory. This is my blessing; both of you have been given the opportunity to fulfill a purpose.” Her proclamation was accompanied by strands of scarlet ichor seeping forth from sudden lacerations across her palm, and these strands soared towards the man that was named Thought and the woman that was named Memory. A circle of levitating glyphs manifested around the newly named pair as the red goddess began her spell: The sorcerous symbols of the Gnosis sang, and the blood of the Creatrix mingled with the blood of mortals, as the strands sank underneath the skin of the two awakened humans - the two that had become sacred champions.

“It is done.” Anath Homura said, with the ritual completed. Wonder gazed at the two humans, eyes gleaming. He picked up the male by the arm and poked his stomach curiously. “That was entrancing stuff,” he murmured as the man complained about being manhandled thus. The god eventually put him down. “Stop complaining Mawazo.” He ordered. The man blinked and looked from the Anath to wonder.

“But the goddess named m-” he began, but wonder ignored him and returned to his feet. “Mahara! Mawazo! Chosen elect of wonder and the Anath, ye who behold, who have been granted Thought and Memory that you may well bring mortalkind to reason and remembrance. Let your gaze erupt: cold are the days and cruel are the nights that await you, but you have been given of the blood of the almighty and have been clothed in the flames of awe and wonder,” and even as the words fell from his lips, the wings of the Awebringer shimmered and tore themselves away so that they become glorious cloaks and raiments of light and dusk about the prophet and prophetess. “Cruel are the nights and cold are the days that await you, but when wonder is the food of your souls you shall not fear and you shall not thirst, the whip of the cold shall be your strength and the strike of the sun your boon. Go ye forth and wonder, let not your wondering cease. Behold me always in your hour of need: your perfection is in knowing me.”

“Bu-” Mahara began, but wonder was beyond the call of speech; they were ensconced in his light and it carried them from the colossus. A wagon manifested and a steed with eyes of emerald pulled it through air and across land alike. For a time they were a light decorating the star-studded skies, an aurora dancing with the variegated heavens, and then the prophets of the Anath and wonder were gone.

The god of wonder, his form shrinking so that his shoulder was soon an improbable throne for the creatrix, hefted her off and slowly set her down on the back of the colossus. He planted another kiss against the flower of her eye and ruffled her fiery hair. “Shall there be none, Anath, to sing of the love that has bloomed betwixt us once you are a memory and I no more wander in these climes?”

“For now, the answer awaits in the unknown. I must continue my travels, and then I will be returning to my realm once I have greeted the remaining gods and goddesses that are willing to speak with me. Wehi Tama, I ask that you please visit my home, and share the gift of your marvel with me again.” Anath Homura answered, sharing a half hearted smile with Wonder, for an actual smile eluded her still. The other god’s amber eyes smouldered silently, and he nodded without a word. Turning away, sword of wonder in one hand and the Son-o’-Falyn in the other, wonder hopped once, twice, then leapt away. Upon the colossus, Anath Homura resumed her journey once again.

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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Double Capybara
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Double Capybara Thank you for releasing me

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The Second Lekture: Progression and Corruption

- 4 -

The effects of the accursed party had been notable on the people of Haven, whereas under the law of bread and water there was peace, now the tension could be felt in the air, melancholy, rage, and suspicion. It was impressive how much trouble a broken routine could cause.

But it was necessary. Art could be made by adding colourful pigments to a rock, yet art could also be made by destroying bits of the rock until what was left was a specific shape. Corruption and destruction were aspects of life, to fully avoid it was an act equal to not living, the key was keeping a balance, a balance most of her students were not keeping.

Every day she would get new questions, about how they could have back that which they had only for one day, the memory of the luxury stuck to their senses and tugged at their will, the flame within wanted more, it was gifted more fuel it grew, now it could not be properly satisfied.

"Well, since there is such a demand, I may bring back it, sometimes, but not for all. From now on good results in my tests and challenges will give you those rewards. Alternatively, there is plenty of what you were gifted out of Haven, if you believe in yourself you may go out there and claim it for yourself, just remember the first rule, once out, you may not return."

The effects were notable, people previously unmotivated now showed greater motivation, either to work or to cheat. Some others were uninfected by the gifts, but to continue among the top students became a reason for their pride, and they started to work much harder on each task. The competition was not all good, rivalries started, and soon even fights would break out.

Some would take their prizes and consume them immediately, but sometimes they would leave them aside, and eat one apple a day instead of eating the three gifted ones at once. This led to the first crimes, as the slyer students would soon discover that stealing was a much faster path to rewards than being top of the class. Theft and suspicion created cliques for protection, and cliques created power that exceeded that of the individual, soon the promise of security in the cliques became the threat of insecurity for the outsiders, they would protect their own and not care if some outside lost their belongings, worse, some would protect thieves from their own side, weaker students found themselves bound to these groups out of worry, but of course, they would not have the same right as the older students who joined out of their will and power.

Among this rising mess also rose a group that was peculiar. Born from those who learned to reduce their reliance on the prizes, those who could go back to water and bread with ascetic discipline. As the other top students decayed, they continued to do well with stalwart focus.

When deaths started happening, not only accidental death from overindulgence in alcohol or food but actual murder, the goddess decided it was time to go back a bit and end this aspect of the experiment, first, however, she would need to talk with her ascetic students.

The sound of metal gloves clapping together made all of said students smile in their private meeting with the goddess. "I thank you, young ones, for your great effort. While vice ran rampant, you stood above it. Your techniques are commendable, and... I feel like there is nothing else for me to teach you." she said happily, then... sadly.

"And I mean that in a harsher way than I would like. Your solution to the troubles of your species is commendable, but it has cost you the fire aspect of your being. It's not a flicker of a flame, but an ember... there is value in that. Value in a hard stone. Unfortunately, my objective here is to polish and carve stone, to melt ore into metal, and your quality became too... harsh, too unmoving, it does not give away and so attempts to change it will not have good results, such forces will only make your brittle or break." the goddess sighed. "While I do not think your group has done anything wrong, you also are no longer within the aims of Haven. I will have to ask you to leave. Your discipline will be of great use to this world, to the humans who were born outside or already left, I will give you guidance and supplies for this journey, but I need all of you to vacate this location at once."

Only glimpses of feelings were expressed by the students, from rage to understanding, from sadness to indifference. Yet all of the ascetics nodded and did as the goddess commanded.

- 5 -

The students woke up to find Haven changed again, it often shifted in shape, but now there was a... solidity to it that wasn't there before. Lektor took notice of those who noticed it because indeed Haven was now an entirely different building. Before it was kept together by the goddess' will, but now she had properly consecrated it into a material location, independent from the goddess' mind.

Another critical change had been that the students had all of their belongings confiscated, but it was not exactly a curse to return to the times of bread and water. With less students and no need to keep the location from crumbling with her will, the goddess found herself with enough focus and energy to make more plentiful rations, far from what a victorious student could get, but now included many vegetables and fruits. Lunch was typically light but protein-heavy, typically potato salad with Gedhe’iwak ceviche, or small sandwiches, Dinner tended to be more varied and filling, but not hard to digest, such as noodles. To further improve integration and luxury the goddess also declared a new meal time, in the afternoon, with a special ceremony to serve the students a drink, made with cocoa.

The building was also less minimalist, not only was the atrium larger, but a raised garden had been added, along with a bathhouse and more spacious hallways. The design was still centred on the round atrium, surrounded by galleries that led into the private rooms, the floor was of a similar size, with a similar amount of rooms. the structure was made far wider to avoid having too many floors. From the outside, it looked similar to a stone pagoda.

Notably, there were carvings on the walls and square pillars in the Haven, seemingly only decorative at first, but soon the students started to see repeating patterns, except all the sphinxes, eagles and lions, which were 100% just Lektor's ego.

One would think the new arrangement would calm the situation, and they would be partially right, most students started to feel comfortable again when all the crazed competition was gone. But not all. Lektor had to add new rules, no theft of the key supplies, no murder, the basics.

While some was expected, like that there would be those too addicted to luxury to turn back to a lesser, if extremely comfortable, living, Lektor found herself impressed with the continued existence of the cliques even after all means of power had been dissolved.

In retrospect, it was obvious, that undoing the situation would not undo the scars, plus humans were a creature of habit, it seemed, there were just so many acquaintances they could make before they started to close their minds to others.

"But that would be putting the burden on the element of earth alone. Earth cools down and takes shape, and habits are formed because of that, the body too gets used to certain things, certain people..." that made sense and no doubt much of it was rooted in that and yet, in her cat's cradle, there was a missing piece. "Earth, even if equal, tends to separate, air and water tend to unify, but may separate if their composition is too different, fire however always unifies. Now Humans are a body of earth and a will of fire... and what does that mean..."

Many theories started to form in her head. "Like moths to a flame, humans will drift towards stronger wills. But that expands the potential of the flame as well? Wouldn't that make for a vicious cycle? A lesser person's flame could become much greater if enough people believe in it, to the point it may overpower the light of a person with a strong and pristine flame? That would not explain this behaviour... But perhaps there is a desire, flames desire to become greater, united flames become greater, but each flame is trapped in a shell of earth... what can it mean? This Path turns into a Maze, and my head spins."

The goddess sighed. More testing was necessary. But perhaps... she should fully understand her home turf first, understand the earthly shell before further tackling the fire within.

- 6α -

"What is this, pupils?"

The crowd from the galleries looked confused for a moment before one brave girl rose her hand. "A rock!"

"Yes, sure, but what is different about this rock?"

The girl leaned forward against the stone barrier between her and a likely fatal flaw. "It's a bit scratched. Did someone break your rock goddess? Wasn't me I swear! Bet it was Grugson..."

"It's not broken, I made these, ahem, scratches, in actuality, it's a carving. Take note of it, and take note of the walls around you, you will see this carving appears for every time there is a stone" she smiled and continued to explain the basics of writing.

"Now, it's very easy for you to learn that symbols are related to a thing, but let's go further, these symbols can also represent concepts and qualities. For example, note that animal on that carving, it has no unique symbol of its own, but a junction of these two, why is that?"

"Because it's a rock cat?"

"What in the name of the Path is a rock cat? Child... you have eyes, you don't need to feel the symbols with your hands. Look at them"

"So... Stone-Hill Cat? Cat from the rocky lands. Oh, that is a lynx, right?"

"That would be correct! By uniting these symbols you can express many different feelings, even completely new feelings that do not have a correct word for them, if you join winter and beauty, you may express the concept of ice crystals, if join spring and annoyance, that can be a very bad allergies season." the goddess smiled. "There may be more flexible systems to take words from the air and impress them onto earthly matter, but, of the ways to write, this type of object-oriented language has an elegance of its own, which I appreciate. she casually took a sip of coffee.

"So, let's use this to do a simple task. Learn the words assigned and then make a name for yourself, a title, and create something that expresses your... uh... vibe. Like Summerchild, Mountain of the Birds, Long Beard, Step of Amber, and so on, so forth." she smirked. "To those of you who typically cheat or slack, I will be direct, do not do that, just this once. This is a very important task."

- 6β -

Elegance, to Lektor, meant a language that expressed the simplistic but often meaningful way the elemental world interacted. To the lessons to come, that would be key. Before she advanced on anything, she took one more moment to meditate on the meaning of things.

"Earth is also the most direct downward force, while Fire is the purest upward force, bound to the heavens and the stars. They move in different directions, earth wins and binds the vessel to the ground... hmm... no... That will not do." the sphinx rubbed her hair in annoyance, raising a finger and causing all stone carvings aligned with her Cat's Cradle to have the words related to body and Earth. She had been anxious since the ascetics had risen, her original tests would merely bring humans towards a fully earth-bound alignment, and that was not what they were meant to be, surely, but... there were some lessons in all that.

For one, she learned new limits of how humans worked with the earth element, second, she had learned the way earth would break off, creating repetitive behaviour, and vice...

"But this word, vice... failure, is the same way we describe erosion. Huh. The water erodes down the stone, and creates the river. But once it finds the vice of the stone, it will not break another path, it's the path of least resistance. Could it be... I have been ignoring the wind and water of the body, they were merely mechanical, but, nothing is this isolated. Hmm"

That would require more thought, but tomorrow's new situation would surely give some insight onto how the body reacted to such changes, after all, it was a bodily chance for once.

The goddess smirked and rose up her hands with immense divine power concentrating on them. Focusing on the stone carvings the students had made.

- 7α -

Screams, gasps and a few surprised "wow" sounds. Haven was a mess that morning, more than it was when the goddess gifted them luxury, more than when she redesigned the whole place.

Those who hadn't noticed it when they woke up surely noticed it when they walked into the hallways, a good percentage of the students now had animal features, from horns to tails to ears and even changes to the eyes and limbs. Not all of them, but even those who stayed fully human felt a level of change within them.

The goddess stood at the very centre of it all with a smug grin.

"What is this?" an old adult man asked, pointing to his fluffy cat ears. "I look ridiculous with these stupid things in my head!"

"Hooo?" the goddess simply made an incredulous, if a bit forced, sound, twitching her own ears.

"Uh... I mean... it's fashionable but on a cute woman such as yourself."

"Whoa... Sly, avoided the fall, makes sense why you took the spirit of the cat." she smirked and continued to watch as the confusion spread out. Then she clapped her golden gloves together and silence that annoying murmur.

"Good morning humans. As you may notice, some of you may have won blessings. All of you won something, but, in many cases, these changes will take the form of appendages, necessary changes to your body so that you may put to use new abilities." she tilted her head. "As some of you may notice, I have some myself."

The whispers came back, some people unironically going "oh! she does have a tail!"

Rolling her eyes Lektor continued. "These blessings were formed from the spiritual essence of your body and of the words you wrote yesterday. Miss Sunset-Gale wished for speed and freedom, now she has wings for arms and a fiery spirit to her. Mister Foglurker wished for the ability to feel at home in places others shun, and took to himself the aspect of the crocodile. And you uh..." she looked down at a rabbit-eared woman, she had a tall body, with a certain thickness to her that stood just under what some would call chubby, but skillfully evaded that line, her smug aura almost mocked the goddess. "I will ignore your desired name and call you Hills of Bountiful Harvests. But you asked for, ahem, fertility, and you sure seem to have that aura about you now."

Lektor hid a blush on her face, clearing her throat. "Today also marks the day your training will be increased, a lot. We are, hmm, halfway through the course. The prize at the end awaits some of you, and plenty of knowledge will be given to all of you. It's time to raise your skills once again, competitions to be held, and, to an extent... cullings. So far the knowledge was guaranteed, but I will start to have a harsher stance. Not all people deserve all the tools, that is the simple reality of it."

She tilted her head. "Try to keep a good result in at least one discipline, be it the art of writing or the martial arts, you will not fail over something your body is not meant to do. That would be like judging a bird on how they swim or a fish on how they fl..." she looked up and saw a floating carp. "Huh."

Her warnings were not jokes, the students found themselves far more organized in constant training, especially in the martial arts. Before they were tilting fields or lifting rocks, now there was mock combat, swordplay and fist fights, the bathhouses which once had many pristine bodies now was a gallery of bruises and scratches. Similar pressure was felt on all levels, from the cooking classes to the writing classes, Lektor was no longer joking.

They wondered what could they receive at the end that would make this worth it, nevertheless, the gift of a goddess would surely be worth something, and nobody wanted to leave Haven just yet and risk losing some important lessor later.

- 7β -

Magma-colored eyes observed the evolution of the students within, peering deep into their bodies and spirit, taking notice of habits by twisting the strings in her cat's cradle.

The designs of the spirit appendages were successful on many levels. Touching them would reveal that they were quite warm, as one would expect of fuzzy ears and fluffy tails, but even the more lizard-like features or horns would have such behaviour. That was because she had made it all "will-bound", natural containers of fire energy naturally produced within the humans. This was likely why the harpies could fly despite a somewhat heavy body, the element of fire had an inherent upward movement.

She observed a tiger man being hit, falling back towards the ground, and at the last minute doing a spin and falling on his feet. Felines had such abilities bound to the hair of their ears, giving them a great sense of balance and spatial location even at high speeds, the feline chimera inherited such aspects, having it bound to their will as well.

As time passed, she started to notice exactly what she sought. The vices, the paths ones were used to, started to appear for chimeras as well. Canines had good hearing and a keen nose, this meant there was little reason to develop or train certain aspects of their vision, which was understandable. Faced however with challenges that fooled their hearing and smelling senses and made aware they would need to improve their vision, they lagged behind even humans while trying to improve it, the trained senses and known paths would actively jump forward and overtake attempts to improve the less trained sense, and too much focus and discipline were spent on containing them to properly learn the other path.

It was logical, it's hard for a flow of water to break through a stone wall, but much harder, if not impossible, for it to break a second opening once the first one was made.

Another thing the chimera aspects tested were the cliques. So far they had survived because in the still days of the new way of life in Haven there was little change to break them apart. Weakened but were still dominant as people preferred their acquaintances over strangers, being all equal, being part of the same clique was about one of the few notable differences among students... until now. How would a wolf chimera react to a wolf chimera from another group? How would a leader react if he led a group with chimeras of the same animal as him within his group? Would they get benefits? Would it create rivalry? Preference? Bias?

And as she expected, the damage to the cliques was immense. Weaker groups found all their integrants drifting apart in a few days. Not only for the aspects she expected, but also the simple truth that the spirit animals bound to the students were also telling of their personalities, people who would ignore each other now found out they were more compatible than they thought. Sometimes the question was merely physical, harpies liked to hang out high in the temple, where other species could not reach, some students became fully nocturnal while others stuck to small niches or humid areas, where most of their previous cliques would not be comfortable.

Stronger cliques survived as coherent groups, in fact, they became even stronger due to all the adaptations to house and unify a pack of increasingly diverse individuals. New ones formed based on the theme of their spirits, while many stood in sort of a half-there half-gone state, more as groups of friends. The difference between the latter and the former two would become pronounced as the cliques quickly discovered that the power of names could also be applied to their groups, soon fancy names with fancier carvings would embellish the areas of certain cliques, The White Blossoms, The Serpent Council, The Band of the Frowning Lord, The Noise Makers, The Spears, The Rock Cat Appreciators...

The goddess was starting to regret teaching writing if this is what they did.

As she also suspected it would happen, some groups did not centre around a single strong leader, but a weak one with many strong followers, however, in practice, she found them to be as coherent as the centralized groups, with the 'council' around the 'king' figure finding their balance of power and accepting the unspoken truth that they were the governing body. Nevertheless, the formation of these more coherent groups did lead closer to her long-term objectives for humanity, but not her long-term philosophy.

"A crossroad? Hmm, no, not quite." she observed the word in front of her and willed the stone rune to change, from Choice-Road, Crossroad, to Choice-Net, Filter. Yes, that would do.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Frettzo
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New Starts


Astarte sat on a pile of moss in the corner of Big Smoke’s rudimentary treehouse, watching every single one of Lorelei’s actions like a hawk. That was because the young cat-girl was about to finish making the artefact she’d been crafting for the better part of last night.

As Lorelei strung up one last bundle of leaves onto the rough framework of an umbrella, she sighed out in joy and relief. A quick shake and patdown of the umbrella had it pass the most basic of integrity tests which gave Lorelei the confidence to clap her hands twice, prompting a dark smoky liquid to drip into the treehouse through the leaf-covered ceiling to pool at the centre of the room and then take the familiar spiky form of Big Smoke. It (he?) looked at Lorelei with his two small, glowing, unblinking pink eyes.

“There w-we go, Smoke! Now you don’t have to fear the sun!” Lorelei grinned, and tossed the umbrella over to the Umbra, who caught it and started to inspect it.

“You spent the entire night tying leaves to wooden sticks. How come you’re grinning when it was so boring just to watch you do it?” Astarte asked as she rested her head against the wall.

“Maybe you’d understand if you tried making stuff y-yourself instead of sticking all the things I make in your mouth, Astarte.” Lorelei chuckled and stuffed the extra bits of string and wood leftover from her latest project into one of her pouches.

“You’re so rude! I’m a Goddess, remember?!”

“Smoke, remind me who it was that punched a hornet nest?”

“Master Astarte.” Came Big Smoke’s echo-y reply.

“Hey, I only did that because-!”

“Who was the one t-that was about to stick her arm into a crocodile’s open maw?”

“Master Astarte.”

“But it looked so funny!”

“And who was it that chucked my b-booster bracelets into a bottomless ravine as I was about to finish repairing them?”

“Master Astarte.”

“Aww, come on~” Astarte whined and pouted, pulling herself into a little ball in the corner. Lorelei saw this and shared a look with Big Smoke, smirking.

“She’s doing it again Smoke, she thinks w-we’re gonna fall for it!” Lorelei snickered, stood up, and gave a quick stretch with what almost sounded like a meow at the end. Astarte stood up as well and huffed.

“Whatever! You guys are mean, I’ll curse you when I get my powers back. Bye-bye, see you never!” She declared and jumped out of the tree house. Almost immediately afterwards, a crash and the sound of snapping ropes echoed through the darkwoods, topped off by a high-pitched feminine scream and even more of that all-too-familiar whining and sniffling.

Both Big Smoke and Lorelei peeked out of the treehouse to see Astarte strung upside down, dangling from a tree branch with a thick rope tied around her ankles. She sniffled as she made eye contact with them and saw them trying their hardest to contain their laughter.


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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Enzayne
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Enzayne Invading Eldar

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On a seemingly random outcropping in the desertscape of the western coast, the black-clad goddess of conquest touched down with neither grace nor flourish. She surveyed the bleak sands and stone with an odd sensation of nostalgia - though this land was foreign to her, she felt drawn to the scalding sands and the throwing winds. A belonging. It was as good a place as any to start her journey towards her ultimate vision. Aveira kneeled down on her outcropping, stealing a handful of sand. Wistfully she let the coarse grains run through her fingers.

The angel rose with new resolve, and set her gaze on the horizon as she slowly spun in place. Here her conquest would begin. Even if sand was to be her only witness - though she found herself detecting signs of life in sporadic pockets all around her. So it would be, her first task, she thought, and stretched out her wings. They tingled, though; something wasn’t right.

She turned, and beheld a faroff giant’s approach. She’d been followed. The colossus was not running, but its mere walk carried it quickly enough. With each great, measured stride, the gray colossus cut away at the distance between them. It was coming for her – fast.

Huge interlocking gray plates made up a suit of armor that utterly hid whatever the giant was, but even so, its bearing alone somehow projected a steadfast resolve like few things ever could. With just a glance, she knew that flight was futile; it had fixated upon her, and would pursue her to the end of creation – or at least, until it caught her. So there was nothing to do but stand her ground.

As the figure neared, its size did not change. From afar it had seemed as large as a mountain as it crossed the horizon, but as it now came to a halt about ten strides away from Aveira, its stature seemed only slightly greater than her own.

“Another spirit,” it rumbled in a monotone voice, and then it fell silent, staring, waiting.

Aveira raised her scepter towards the shape in a silent attempt to meet the statuesque being with some dominant menace of her own. Her wings unfurled fully and the angel stretched herself in a doomed attempt to compete with its stature, despite the difference being rather small.

“You trespass on my domain,” she answered after the silence between them began to bother her. “New though it may be. Why have you come? To stake your own claim?” Aveira grew indignant in her tone, gripping her obsidian weapon with both hands.

The armored hulk didn’t look the least bit concerned with her scepter, nor did it react to her flaring out her wings. It may as well have been a statue because it didn’t react at all, and just remained there, staring for an uncomfortably long time. Eventually, it spoke again, “My own descent from the sky was not far from here, though I ventured to the mountains beyond and found the Steward. You are fortunate that I care little for the land; this sandy waste can be yours. What else do you claim as yours, spirit?”

Aveira released a terse scoff, appraising her counterpart with stern eyes. “I was promised to write reality according to my vision. I merely intend to fulfill that ambition. By simple means or others, I will bring unity - and with it, order.” She extended her scepter and gestured in wide, sweeping motion. “Life without a master is quarrelsome and chaotic. For everyone’s sake, I lay claim to all that is and will be.”

“Spirit of unity and order,” the other one addressed her, without a long pause this time. “Your words ring True; the Steward is not likely to suffer you claiming all of creation, but that is not my concern. I came here to observe justice and uphold the laws; I too am a spirit of order. When I asked the Steward what laws there were, I was told that there were none save for those laws proclaimed by the spirits. So tell me, spirit of unity and order: what are your commandments? You need only decree them, and I will contend with any transgressors in a fitting manner.”

The statuesque being’s request - demand, really - threw the pale angel enough for her imposing sneer to shift to an expression of thoughtful bemusement. “This steward of yours worries me not. Now, commandments…” she muttered, staring at the plated law-bringer. “Well, such is obvious. No mortal being shall impersonate power and majesty such as mine, nor plot to reach my heights or pilfer of my troves. Hierarchy exists not to be challenged.”

Aveira lifted her staff-like scepter once more. “A good master provides enough for her subjects to serve with contentment. It is not for the lesser to carry ambition,” she proffered with a stern voice. “I believe you understand.”

“So you would only have me slay the thieves and would-be usurpers?”

The other strange god might have understood and even agreed with her sentiment, but in the end, this was what he had taken away from her statements. His voice remained phlegmatic, but the choice of words made him sound almost disappointed. “Let it be law.”

Once more the angel scoffed, displeased with the statue-being's imagined apathy. “Law. Guiding principles for the weak and stiff-brained. So be it. So long as I need not concern myself with the matters of the insignificant, they can do whatever they wi-...” she paused in her own tirade. “Actually, that might be something. Failing to carry out or submit to my divine decrees should be a most grave sin."

“Let it be law,” the other one echoed back indifferently.

In the heavens above, the blood-moon of dust and wonder shimmered, expanded for a brief second, and sent forth an enormous flare of shifting colours. The flare formed up on itself and became a small nebula that rolled and roiled like the furious surf before descending into the lower heavens and, compressing and forming up in great whirling clouds, then fell like a shooting star to Galbar. Plunging at impossible speed, it seemed to promise destruction mosty mighty and most terrible indeed, but only evaporated into gaseous nothingness as it blew up against the endless sand - not causing so much as a sand dune to rise or be flattened, though all about the witness gods the world shone with an unknown million fireflies, and it seemed that all of Galbar had become engulfed in a nebula.

The nebula grew incorporeal arms that flailed in the skies and against the earth like the spiralling wings of galaxies, only to return like an elastic band to the very spot the nebulous shooting star had collided with earth. There, beneath the glowing form of the Awebringer and his heaven-grazing Sword of Wonder - and beneath the Son-o’-Falyn also, who slept at peace and ease in the arm of the god whose wings were the cosmos - were deposited a merry mishmash of critters and equines and insects and lizards that the nebula had gathered up. And, for no reason that was immediately apparent and from no source that anyone would ever quite identify (for there was never recorded, in the historical annals of elfkind, a happening where a great many elves were perceived to all at once be spirited away by the heavens) there was among the nebula’s haul an unholy number of elves. On finding themselves thus deposited in such strange climes, they panicked with the other creatures and got to scattering in every which way and direction.

Wonder, for his part, ignored the great maelstrom of chaos and confusion his descent had brought about. “In the lap of unliving aeons I slept... I was caused to sleep! And I thought I would sleep forevermore, my fate thus halted and destiny foiled, the age of wonder stilled, the marvels of the world nevermore to be beheld. But behold: I have awoken! - you brought me forth, Anath; you stirred me once again. I have awed worlds before! I have beheld with the eyes of crazed wonder - I have struck with its sword; I have slain the lifeless corpses of those who could not marvel. I am come, Anath, you unloosed me on existence! I strike with the sword of wonder.

“You woke what should ne'er be woken and summoned what ne'er should be summoned through the veil of the beginning and end: and lo! this world was without wonder. Your voice unleashed me, then behold! there was wonder. I was the hidden jewel of the worlds, and I have come forth a wonder yet hidden; and I have come for no other purpose than to be known. Aye, hear me: I am come only to be known! Behold me ye who are above and who are below, ye who are granted the beholding arts: your perfection is in knowing me! I am the wonder of the skies and trees! I am the wonder of the earth and rivers! I am the wonder of all your hidden selves and multitudinous forms! I am the wonder of the world - I am wonder! All that thou art is naught if wonder is not in it! Have it as you will; if you do not lift the veil of wonder then await my wonder's sword! Aye! when at last all have been called to the beholding, only then shall the sword of wonder fall upon the blind: I strike with the sword of wonder!

In an emotionless silence that might have passed for bewilderment – indeed, that might have been bewilderment, for one could never know the expression of whatever visage hid beneath that helm – the armored god of justice witnessed the arrival of Wonder. “Spirit of chaos,” he dubbed Wonder, “what is wonder? What is the meaning of this tumult, and moreover, what would be your commandments?”

“What is wonder?” The Awebringer’s voice boomed and echoed. “That is not the question of one who has come to know me! Have I not caused manifest glory to bloom all about you, man? Is justice blind that he should not behold wonder? What is justice without wonder! It is letters without spirit, rules without soul, roads without direction: oh justice! ‘Tis not just that you are blind! Shall the sword of wonder have to hack and fall that justice may shake sleep and slumber to rise tall?” He turned to the winged goddess. “Speak, you who are winged! Surely from your perch amongst the winds you have beheld with wonder! Surely we can make this blind fool see without the sting of steel and lick of liquid flame!”

If the statuesque being's silence had been a sign of bewilderment, Aveira must have been struck with mind-boggling amounts of it. Her face twisted to a stoic scowl as she watched the new arrival. Had she beheld any wonder, she did not appear keen to share it with them both. The shrill cry of panicking mortals scattering in the dunes threw her attention elsewhere, and brought her out of her scornful silence.

“Nothing shall be wondrous like the vision I shall hew out of this world," she responded with cold apathy lingering in her tone. “Your tribute of mortals will build the first blocks of my demesne.”

The eyes of the Awebringer, whose visage was all of a sudden the terror of the earth, bulged unnaturally. “Tribute?” He hissed, a forked tongue flitting out of his mouth and his pupils shifting from amber pinpricks to slits of flame.

Ignoring him, the angelic warrior raised her scepter into the air, and bellowed a simple “Halt!" to echo out over the desolate desert sands. Throngs of elves and creatures alike (but mostly elves, for there was an unholy amount) stopped dead in their tracks. Those who appeared to try to escape turned over in exhaustion or pain, as the scepter radiated with divine power. A few toppled over in the hot sands, unable to stay conscious between the pressure on their mind, the heat, and the panic of traveling by deity. Aveira for her part seemed preoccupied with her new self-appointed task, and surveyed the bleak sands with no more interest paid to the wondrous traveler, at least not on the surface.

“I had thought you greater than to pass over me, lady!” Wonder boomed, his voice causing the gathered elves to jump and even the sands to tremble. “Aye let the little things pass me over as they will, let them all go blindly by, but you!” He gestured at her with the Forever Child, who let out an unappreciative shrill shriek at being manhandled thus. The Son-o’-Falyn was no sceptre or pointing stick, after all, not even for the gods! “And you!” The god turned to armoured justice, gesticulating wildly with the shrieking babe. “Have you little minds - little eyes, little hearts, little faces, little souls!- that you should fail to see me? What woe! Oh that we should begin at such nadirs! Oh let these nadirs not be our heights! Are these not the ears for my voice? Are these not the eyes for my beholding? Are these- could it be?- that these are but the necks for my sword? Ah, when such blindness is the way of the gods it behooves my sword to strike!” He turned wildly from conqueror to justice. “Let it be so! If these are not the ears for my words then let these be the skulls for my strikes: mark it well now, kinsmen! I strike with the sword of wonder!” And he plunged the sword of a million flowing colours and flames into the desert sands so that all around flora bloomed and turned to dust and ash, and all about was a shaking and thundering of the cosmos, and all about was a deathly silence and emptiness, and all about was the arena of the coming war. “I have spoken much - oh much too much!” Wonder bemoaned, and even as he did a foolish elf chose to seek an escape route from under his terrible form. The god snapped down like a cosmic hammer and arose with the bifurcated anthropoid in his mouth, blood mixing with pain against wonder’s naked chest. “Behold, oh marvels!” His voice emanated even through the imprudent victim in his mouth; his pupils were amber pinpricks in his bulging eyes, his hair a curtain of dusk, his skin a deathly white beneath the flow and messy smattering of crimson blood. The Forever Child was seated on his shoulder, back turned to the two other gods, face grim and eyes as ink. “The trembling blade is more fluent by far than ten thousand voices orating war!”

“I see you now,” the armored god suddenly proclaimed, “I see wonder for what it is: madness! You would strike at justice with your sword of chaos? Try it, foolish spirit, and I will sever your head with your own sword!”

In a single measured step, armored justice seemed to become as vast a colossus as a mountain. He bore no weapon save for his gauntleted fists, yet with a meteoric weight he threw himself forward. The first of a hundred-hundred hammering blows struck the earth and rent wounds into it, and yet no sooner had he swung (and missed!) did the next fist fly.

“Oh what a flighty fool you are!” Wonder declared, slipping away from such terrible and unseemly violence. “And were you not asking my commandments not moments ago? Here here, put your fists away and listen to my commandments! I am brought into the world for no other reason than to be known! Go, if you are justice and if you uphold the law, and tell everyone to know me. And if they don’t then it is mine to deliver the punishment! That too is my commandment: I strike with the sword of wonder!”

“Speak plainly,” the statue of justice commanded, his assault arrested for the moment. Still, he remained in that colossal state. Once more, he demanded, “And make clear your commandments!”

The Awebringer looked away petulantly, the dead elf still hanging between his jaws. “Well I already told you, don’t fault me if yours are not the ears for my voice. Maybe if you paused and listened you’d understand!” He turned back to him, brows furrowing. “I should give you a hacking, I should, I should carve you up so you know well to wonder! But ah, what use! Even a carved up oaf is still an oaf. What marvelous things they are, oafs.” He glanced at the conqueror, as though inviting her to agree, before returning to justice.

“Justice does not pause, nor speak in riddles.”

“Well there you have it!” Wonder declared triumphantly. “We are at an impasse. To wonder you must pause and you, sirrah, do not pause! How can you enforce even the form of my words if you have no understanding of their depths?” He dismissed justice with a wave of the Forever Child, who had returned to his arm and did not look at all happy at being waved about. Turning to the conqueror, the elf still nestled between his lips and bleeding all over him, wonder smiled. “You have a sceptre but no sword. Conquest without a sword, what folly! Let me make you a sword the likes of which shall cause all conquered to wonder!”

The angel turned to perceive the herald of wonder and panic, for once drawn out of her thoughts enough to consider the two in her presence, despite both shouting and violent assault on the landscape. “Go on then,” she urged with a tone that carried her words like a threat. “Give me a blade and it shall see each corner of creation. You speak of wonder, and it too shall be a feature of all that is mine. Any tribute to bring my vision closer is one I welcome. Meet my expectations and you may even be rewarded. Although you have much to make up for.”

Wonder leaned back, fell, and rose into the air by the goddess, in a sitting position although he sat on nothing. “Tribute! Much to make up for? I’ve done nothing wrong at all!” He wiped a speck of blood from his brow. “And I don’t know of tribute, but I can certainly give you a present - a gift, you understand?” He knocked on her forehead with a knuckle. Aveira’s scowl deepened considerably as she jerked her face away from the intruder. “Prez-ent. Giffft. An endowment from a charitable kinsman to a more needy one, understand? A sort of trickle-down, if you will.”

“This frenzied spirit does not seem fit to rule or craft the laws that govern this world.” The statement came after a long pause, and seemed so emotionless as to just be another fact rather than some indictment or goading jab. Nonetheless, the titan’s gaze remained locked on the enigmatic, wild god that was Wonder. The floating god glanced at the armoured lord of justice and smiled amicably.

Aveira raised her staff-long scepter between herself and the enigmatic god, frowning deeply. She cast a glance to the statuesque god before fixing Wonder with her gaze once more. “Offer your gift and bother me no more. I have better things to do than entertain your antics.”

“How brusque!” Wonder complained, spinning away and planting his feet in the sand further off. “But it has been told in truth before and shall be told in truth forevermore: Blessed are the few - for they alone can wonder! The great mass of existence - even mortals, even gods! - pass by the marvels of the world and do not see them. Blessed are the few!” And as he spoke the sand arose about him and the cosmos in his wings became the furnace of the ages. The sword of wonder was a hammer, the anvil shrieking beneath its every blow. And as he hammered, as his wings burned, he spoke his monosyllabic declaration with every blow: “Bless’d!” He struck. “Are!” He hammered. “The!” He pounded. “Few!” Oh the anvil sighed beneath his strikes, sweat lined up his brow, blood spilled endlessly from the corpse of the elf between his teeth, and the eyes of the Forever Child were as the black holes of the world’s end.

When he had hammered quite enough he stepped forth - anvil disintegrating and wings dissipating - and pulled from his armpit a finely wrought greatsword on whose point the blood of the ceaselessly bleeding elf dripped, to give it an eternally bloodied tip. Green emeralds were studded into the massive upturned hilt and along the blade itself. Golden ruins were inscribed along the blue-grey metal - what metal it was, none knew. It glinted all the colours of coolness and death, it was the colour of dread and it was made from the cries of the conquered; it was wrought from the most powerful stuff in existence: the limitless wonder of a god thought deranged. Son-o’-Falyn on his shoulder, Sword of Wonder in one hand, and the Yoke in the other, the Awebringer came before the imperious goddess of conquest and raised Yoke heavenward. “Kneel, kinswoman, that you may receive your Yoke.” His eyes were glowing amber, his voice thunder, his wings as the cosmos about him, a crown of flame atop his head, his hair as a curtain of dusk around his pale face. The elf bled still between his jaws, and his chest was made crimson by it. “Kneel that you may rise beknighted, consecrated, beatified. Kneel that the age of wonder and conquest may be inaugurated: kneel that your rule may be a wonder unto worlds and ages forever and ever after!”

Aveira looked, to say the least, skeptical of this ritual - or perhaps simply the command to kneel, which seemed to drive her suspicious scowl to new heights. Nevertheless, she slowly complied with the god’s instruction, settling her staff’s hilt in the sand as one knee touched the ground. She sank to receive this gift, though not without muttering; “This is the last time I kneel to you, nay, anyone.” The god of wonder looked down on her, his visage the incarnation of a maelstrom. The stars faded away in the heavens - snuffed out - and night descended all at once upon the world. Behind the Awebringer’s flame-crowned head, high in the celestial sphere, the burning bloodmoon emerged and was as a halo about the terrible god’s head. All around them, the elves beheld in wonder the simultaneously dreadful and wondrous sight of the unconquerable goddess on her knees before the terrible storm-faced god who had so casually consumed one of their own and even now had him in his mouth. The wondrous god beheld conquest and he trembled, shivered; what a wondrous fruit this was! He had beheld, it was true, but he had never conquered.

Then all that slipped away and wonder cocked his head in surprise. “Hmm, wasn’t expecting you to do that.” He squatted before Aveira. “This is going to come out wrong, but you look incredible on your knees.” He smirked, extending Yoke to her by the pommel. “Receive your Yoke and behold its worth with wonder: none before it brought you to your knees, none but it has ever conquered you. In the first night of the world, arise, glorified knight of conquest!”

The angel scoffed sharply, his words flushing her face with barely restrained fury. Her hand stretched out to grab the hilt of the blade, and fingers wrapped around it with a firmness that would snap a lesser blade in twain. Yet such contempt was reined in just as swiftly, and when she rose from the ground she appeared as impassive as once she had been. She tested the weight of the weapon by swaying it to and fro, wielding it easily in a mockery of physics and reason. Whatever it was that she felt from holding her new gift seemed to mollify the angel enough that she almost appeared peaceful for a moment - or filled with the curious wonder of an experienced thrill-seeker. Eventually the spell broke and she cleared her throat.

“Hrm. I suppose this is enough to meet my expectations. I accept your gift, trickster. Those who refuse unity shall know the wonder of this blade intimately.” the angel compromised in lieu of gratitude. She turned to gaze out over the elves who had watched in horror and awe, and lifted the blade to point towards the closest of them. The nameless elf toppled into the dune quickly, instinct calling on him to bow before the trio. Sated, Aveira looked back at the other two. “I have given my commandment. I have received your tri-.. gift. Now I intend to gather these mortals before they perish. For enforcing my will, and offering me a boon, each of you will be welcome to seek an audience once in future. Use it wisely.”

Wonder smiled amicably at her words, the Forever Child sleeping peacefully on his arm after the eventfulness of the encounter. “An audience! How official. And here I thought we’d become friends.” He grinned, glancing at the ever-inexpressive armoured god as though seeking agreement. None seemed forthcoming. The Awebringer seemed on the cusp of moving on smoothly when he paused and glared at justice. “Actually, y’know what, I’ve just about had it with you, fella!” And leaping onto the other god’s considerable shoulders, his feet becoming iron talons which gripped him by the pauldrons, the Awebringer beat his cosmic wings and lifted off into the air. He grinned down at the winged form of the conqueror, her elves gaping up at the crazy god’s antics. “Behold me always, for I am the wonder of the world! Your perfection is in knowing me!” He declared by way of farewell, and with a mighty beat of his wings of dusk and starlight, both gods were gone.

Aveira watched the duo disappear and stared into the sky for an uncomfortably long time. It wasn't until the errant cry of an errant elf tripping over her feet in the sands resounded in the air that her concentration broke. Armed with her new Yoke, her Sword of Conquest, and her scepter, Aveira lifted up off the ground with a single powerful beat of her wings. Her wings took her in wide circles over the desert, wordlessly gathering stray mortals and even some creatures with flourishes of her scepter to enthrall them. It appeared to help that they were seemingly trapped in the desert and left to starve. The choice to follow their winged saviours wordless command was an easy choice to make, even for those who had witnessed the horror and confusing meeting of the gods.

Under the cover of the first night, a procession of cold, scared mortals trailed after the flying conqueror, a moment that filled Aveira with an intense sense of reliving the past - though her memory did not allow her to recall why. She led them far along the dunes, until such a time that she was certain she had collected - or willingly rejected - each one. Her path took them to where the land was rent and filled with water, and Aveira, once more filled with deja vu, decreed that this would be the site of a great project. To mark the start of her intent, Aveira drove Yoke into the ground and used it to focus her own power. All around her and her elven followers, the ground rumbled and shook. Alabaster stonework rose from beneath the sands, taking shape into towers and smooth walls. Beneath them, the sand blew away to reveal a massive circular courtyard, with a raised gallery around it like an arena. Beyond the arena rose a massive temple, sparsely marked with symbols that resembled the tip of the scepter. The elves, panicked, awestruck, and overjoyed, called out from all around her.

Aveira twisted the blade in the ground and water shot up from fountains scattered around the massive temple grounds. Large fronds grew from roots hidden deep below - or previously never existing. Life and comfort sprang from the ground. An oasis of greenery and comfort grew in the desert. A rough jewel, but the start of something great.

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Utrax
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Utrax 𝕰𝖝𝖙𝖗𝖊𝖒𝖊 𝕭𝖎𝖗𝖉

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She could sense it.

Even before the beasts and creatures of the Steppe did, Myrtu could feel the change within the world. Without wasting a moment longer to consider or contemplate, she took to the sky in a mighty leap. With her horn aglow, an aura of light and sparkles engulfed the protohumans, still in their statue forms. A single swish of her head and an exertion of divine effort later, and they all gathered alongside her, as she sprinted across the sky.

North… far north.

To where the Tundra ended then beyond.

Past the icy mausoleum.

To where the glaciers began, then still more north.

Myrtu needed time and moments undisturbed with these beings to be shaped and knew that none would likely bother her here. Now past the top of the world, among the ice which stretched endlessly and mercilessly so as to be a desert of sorts, where it was far too cold to snow.

And it was here, at these great latitudes, that the protohumans were placed gently upon the ice in groups, their numbers divided evenly. They each longed for waking, for guidance, and she could see within them all the numerous, infinite, possibilities- their potential- and her eyes swirled brilliantly as the ideas poured in.

This time, her eyes- which swirled with infinite colors known and unknown- did not cease their kaleidoscopic display of light and color. All that was potential and possible- all the beautiful variables- to behold them, was simply Divine. No more, were her eyes stable as they had been, for the stream of potential and possibility now forever danced within them, as she beheld all in her gaze.

As the night stretched in deep and howling blackness, Myrtu stood in the howling icy winds. Still as the ice and for long moments uncounted. Much time was spent, contemplating all that could be of these proto-humans, all that she could unlock in the creation of these new mortals, and just how far they could go… all that they could be…

“… and we saw him, just as he departed, as a shooting star in the night sky, leaving us in this place so cold, yet welcoming…”

So as to give them a fighting chance- a chance to be- Myrtu, after crafting from the protohumans, hundreds of variations, gave them potential- both within and without. In large groups, so as to give them a world of variation and challenge, along with the possibility of teamwork, he spread them across the continent, in numbers of three hundred plus twelve:

One hundred members of the groups were the speedy and sturdy Centaurs. Their lower bodies were that of full four-legged horses, with a variety of spots, splotches, and stripes possible in their coats of fur. The length, texture, growth pattern, and color of their hair was wildly varying with potential to adaptation for a variety of environments, should they choose to stay within them and procreate. Where would be the neck of the horse, began the body of a human, strong and sturdy- with skin colors variable and able to adapt as the generations went on. There were climates which would require darker skin, after all, to help minimize the damage of the sun naturally, before those poultices and protective paints could be produced. There was also the potential within them for the same splotches, stripes, and colors as their fur coats, to be upon the skin as lighter or darker markings. Each had too, the possibility for growing horns, antlers, and hardened bony crests, for their heads should be defended and Myrtu admitted a preference for horns, of course.

One hundred members of the groups were called the Kinnaras. Their lower bodies maintained the two-legged nature of the proto-humans, but where the waist began, so too did the equine legs, fur, tail, and large hooves. They were going to be swift and strong with such legs, but Myrtu had no further clue as to what the change would do for the. As with the other creations of Myrtu, the Kinnaras' potential for variation was unlocked, in their skin-tone variety, fur color patterning and marking variation, and potential for horns. Their upper bodies maintained the same human appearance as was the basis for their creation, with the variation of hair growth patterns, beards, chest head hair being uniform- across whatever “differences” there were between the ones with the weird “lower snouts” and the ones with the “flabby chest sacs” –

(-for Myrtu does not understand the difference between them, has never heard of gender, doesn’t understand human birth, and will not ask, because they absolutely do not know this is a question that requires asking–)

One hundred of the group members are simply Human. Their possibility for growth, variation, and adaptation to climates, latitudes, and different environments has also been unlocked by Myrtu. Even now, as the groups are settled into their new environments, the wide variety in their appearances has already been thrust upon them. Some have red hair and deep brown skin, others have green eyes and skin of gold undertones, while there among them are pale skinned and silver haired individuals. Also randomized were their builds, with some starting heavy-set, others being considerably muscular, and still others presenting underweight- heights were wildly varied as well, with maximum being nearly as tall as Centaurs and others being scarcely taller than younglings.

Within these groups, Myrtu saw fit to shuffle the age range too, for how interesting would it be to see how they’d adapt to caring for young. Among the groups, the youngest are equivalent to toddlers and the oldest are equivalent to prime forties. This was shifted to Centaur, Human, and Kinnaras species evenly, so that there weren’t too many children of one species, with too many teenagers in the next. The children were few, the teenagers more, and the adults were abundant among the shuffled ages.

Then, within the groups, Myrtu divided the received Umbra equally as groups of twelve, after having unlocked their potential too- granting them the possibility to shape, color, and mass variation, with one very important addition, to which he blessed all his new creatures...

“… and from us, as he left us to roam freely in the tall grass, where the warm sea wind did blow, we saw him depart across the night sky, as magnificent as the wondrous moon…”

As the group was dispersed within the Taiga, three-hundred twelve, they awakened groggily with knowledge. How to survive, to hunt, cook, clean, to craft clothing and shelter, to seek others out for help, a common tongue with which to converse aloud with their weird mouths- but most importantly, the deeply seated knowledge that they could do as they saw fit. That they were as wild and free as they should be.

No matter where they went, all of Myrtu's blessed knew that freedom meant searching and seeking, doing and being, however their hearts chose to guide them. Freedom went hand in hand with potential and possibility. Theirs was the world and to the world they belonged. It would be the canvas upon which they made their legacy, as was the right of mortals.

Far to the east of the Darkwood, the Centaur and Kinnaras along the sandy shore, spoke philosophically to each other of what this Freedom and Possibility meant, as some Humans immediately separated themselves from the others, some few Kinnaras following them. Those few Umbra, as was their nature, sought exchanges between them all that could be harmonious: To use their efforts together to build, for mutual benefit, and to use their individual talents for fair coexistence.

And at the edge of the south western desert, those Centaur among the Kinnaras proclaimed dominance, for theirs was the image closest to that of the God-Which-Strode-The-Sky. The Umbra among them took side with the Humans that disagreed, while seeing the potential they represented as both allies and labor. Within the hearts of the Kinnaras, there brewed confusion and fury at the Centaur’s declarations, but there was merit in their argument… there was truth. But they would have to decide for themselves.

All of Myrtu's Blessed Creations would have to decide for themselves.

“… truly we were the forsaken ones, yet were we chosen. Hard and hearty. Strong and sturdy. We were the closest to the God… the closest to that point high in the ice where we could be reborn…”

Together, those in the Tundra huddled, as the snow and ash came down heavily. They trembled of the cold, from fear of the unknown world, and their hearts were full of doubt. Even at this distance, they could see the horizon burning violet, and smelled the air slowly growing thick with nothing but smoke and death.

Why had they been placed here?
Was this world truly so horrible?
Were they to die before using any of the ideas they’d been given?
Without freedom? Without realizing their potential?

“Look- my friends, behold-” a white maned Centaur proclaimed, pointing to the jagged edge to the East “- those mountains are not ablaze and there opens, in the side thusly, a cavern into which we may seek shelter.” To the proclaimer, the others looked, then followed. Deep they went, into the depths of the world, where they were not truly meant to dwell. Descent into the safety of the dark- beneath the rumbling and burning surface- and perhaps into a place they could survive. Anything was better than up there.

Within them, they knew, was the freedom to do as they wished. This gave them confidence and determination both, to survive by any means, even if it meant diving into the cavernous unknown. Through their willpower, through their pull toward freedom and possibility, they knew they could carve out a life no matter where they went. That was the lesson of this land, some did say, that freedom and hope could be found even within the cage of despair.

Yet, despite this welcoming possibility of safety, there were still those that sought the freedom of the surface, and those few did remain behind in the Ashen Tundra. Their eyes turned north, where they saw that Galloping God travel away from them, across the sky.

How could they get there? How could they find their God?
And then what?
To ask her why?
To slay her out of spite?

What was beyond the Tundra would be what they sought, for even to such a harsh land, could they adapt, even if it was through tool and cloth- through way of life and myth- they were to become nomads of the mountains and glaciers both, with their hearts ever in agreement, that trekking far to the north across the wastelands, would lead them to the answers they sought.

"... we knew not that ours would become the way of culture, to trade in song and tale, but we witnessed still, that which would spark the idea for the dramatic reenactment..."

Two of Myrtu's Umbra, who were the odd count out of the fifty, and could not be evenly dispersed into other lands, hovered anxiously within Myrtu's shadow. Fearful of death, yet fascinated with that which they were witnessing, the Umbra knew what happened now was of some importance. They alone, were the sole witnesses to what was to come, and the only company for a lonely task to which Myrtu had invested herself.

Myrtu's horn was thrust deeply into that past-northern glacial ice, infusing it with their divine will and might- freeing it to shift, to change, to become a symbol and representation of the boundless and endless freedom of the soul. Yes, Myrtu understood what the soul was, now that they'd had the ambiguous encounter with the Ferryman, and knew that the soul would spend time in a Ghostel. A waste!

A waste of the very heart of willpower and freedom and potential contained within all mortal beings!

This would not be so for those who lived and died as freely as they could- for those that sought return to one more free life- for those that could be, were, and would never be.

Deep within the ice, there opened a spiraling tunnel downward, which mimicked the spiral horn atop Myrtu's glorious head. It traveled steadily and far down, unimpeded, until it met soil which should never have been found bare, for the Ice here went so deep so as touch the bottom of- what would be were it thawed- a deep-sea floor. Diving to the bottom of this tunnel, Myrtu then opened a tunnel forward, for some few paces, before beginning to sculpt.

Ice was removed the hard way: by breaking it, then transporting it to the surface through the spiraling tunnel. From Myrtu's steps up and down, the staircase was formed, as their hooves wore it into the ice. Sweat and saliva dripped from them, unheeded as the ice was moved, and it illuminated the staircase with subtle glow. Those mighty fractured glacial boulders, were tossed about the landscape, which would break up the howling wind as it came to this point, as mounds became formed, from the sheer amount of ice Myrtu moved.

When Myrtu needed to fly, to see to that ice high in the ceiling, as their wings did brush the cave walls and the soon to be fractured icy boulders, there was left behind some shimmering color within the ice, which would remain so long as the ice went unmelted. These were added to the mounds, which served as accent and indication both, that the work of a Divine had been performed here.

This task took Myrtu quite a long time, for they were surprisingly single minded in its execution, and therefore went missing from the world for a time, as a result...

Edit: cute new nametag

Species Created Detailed Info Dump

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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by acatnamedgoogle
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A Dragon Takes Flight

The earth beneath Heavenfall lay sundered and broken. Great shelfs of disturbed earth and stone jut out at angry angles that ripple across the landscape in jagged lines streaming outwards from where the great spear lay buried in the earth. Yet this disturbance was only to harken the arrival of another. Beckoned by the pull of Anath Homura, the earth began to shake. Tremors rocked the mountains, and swayed what foliage was there to be shook. The winds howled, harkening the arrival of She, Sathira. The air crackled with divine energy, gouts of dirt exploding from the ground where shadows trailed after. Mighty columns of kaleidoscopic color crashed into the earth, embedding themselves this way and that, creating bridges where dark chasms had since formed. Two mighty black and purple wings stretched into existence, shedding the caked on earth.

From where she burst from the earth lay a yawning black chasm. An abyss of mountainous depth, seeming to draw one to the very edge of its precipice that they might gaze down and be pulled in if they surrender to their urge for even an instant. Yet standing upon its edge would greet one with a spectacular sight. With light seemingly fighting the abyss below, every wall twinkles with brilliant color. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds and amethysts, every color of the rainbow would greet them. A shining path that leads down into the depths of the cavern and seems to stretch on into eternity yet branching out into dozens of different paths.

Draping a massive claw upon the cap of a mountain and resting her wings, Sathira gazes out over the broken landscape, now much improved with her vast presence, and radiant gifts. The spear garners her attention, the incredible power of the souls within it humming in the air a grin spreads across Sathira's maw. A thunderous voice echoes across the landscape so surrounded by mountains and storms, the rain and thunder paling in comparison to the divine right that is her voice.

"Sathira, Mother of the First Flight and all Dragonkind arrives. Now, so too shall my kin." Then with an almighty roar that rumbles across the fabric of this world and into its very depths, she spoke yet once more. "Come." And so they arrived, soaring on wings of every color of the rainbow. Reds, golds, blues, and every color in between. Taking to the skies and circling the area via the sky, a brilliant tapestry of scale and fang. From her brow exploded a brilliant shadowy aura which wormed its way into the hearts of her kin, a powerful compulsion to gather artifacts of power, for both themselves and to offer her in tribute to garner her favor.

With a gesture of a mighty claw, she blesses her kin with the power of the Draconic Heart. Such immense creatures cannot thrive as they do without the divine might that Sathira herself exudes. In order to bless them with the power to sustain themselves without much rest, she ties their power to a small fragment of divinity. Brilliant treasures which take a different form for each dragon, but all spectacular. Yet, after all this. One such piece most caught her eye. One of the reds and their manifested heart. One which she could watch. And with that, she settled onto this mountain upon which she still clung to with one claw. And watched them scatter across the land. Looking to create their own hoards, kin and exert their power to bring her items of power to enhance her own.

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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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For Honour

A howling cold wind washed over the island of Genesis. Sharp sparkles of ice and chill came carried in on it, sifting over the snow crusted ground and cutting into the crooked island trees. Local elk were sheltering in the thickest forests that dominated the center forests of conifers, while the bathing lizards submerged themselves safely in the surrounding geysers. Towering over it all was a hissing volcano, where longhaired alpacas greedily enjoyed the heat spilling from the lip.

The wind swirled and spat, but beyond the geysers and volcanos, there was another spot it dare not go. By the shore, where the coast rolled upland enough to meet a field of oats sat a village, glowing orange with fire. Cheer erupted from the area, laced with laughter and joy.

Po sat happily in the middle of the village of Genesis, ritual fires flickering around her while Porry after Porry rushed to her with big grins and bigger offerings of charred meats, ornate wooden carvings and even whole fish.

One family even came with a fat block of browned whale meat for her to snack on. There was a bittersweet contortion of pride on the matriarch's face - rumour had it that the whale, the first to be brought ashore by Porry spear and Porry hand, had claimed four lives - two of which had been of her own kin. A fifth was nearly taken, but they were submerged briefly enough to reignite after being pulled from the icy waters. Bitterness had plagued the village, but now there was sweetness - with the offering came honour to their memory, sounded by both cheers and the salivating sizzle of bubbling whale oil.

The Porries had quickly come to realize after their creation that unity and kinship were the keys to the gate of survival. After all, a fire is only a gathering of sparks and fuel. A lone Porry was a candle in the wind; a clan could be like a forest fire, capable of withstanding the worst of storms. Furthermore, should the storm manage to extinguish the forest fire, the Porries had observed that sparks could smoulder underground for a long time, ready to set the woods ablaze again. Such would be the kinship of the Porries. The thought put a smile on her face, the future would only prove bright.

“Oh my favorite!” Po snatched Matriarch Burning Snow’s offering and quickly devoured it. A scratchy voice emanated from smacking lips. “You have my favor, my oily, delicious favor. What’s your clan name, again?”

"Clan Highgeyser, Great All-Warmer!" saluted the Matriarch proudly. "Your gratitude is all we could ever want. That and the knowledge that the lives of my brother Flickering Wick and my oathsister Wild Smoke have offered themselves in your glory." She prostrated herself along with the rest of her clan.

“Mm! They burned well. It’s a shame the water doesn’t light… yet.” Po reached forward and placed her hand (as was custom already) on the Matriarch’s scalp, her flame turning a bright blue as the heat intensified. A proud gleam could be seen in Po’s blazing eyes and she removed her hand, the blue flame lingering as it normally would — for now at least.

The Matriarch tearfully rose her head, the lava droplets burning pock marks in the ground. She ran her hand over her scalp and let her fingers dance before her eyes, blue flames spitting and kicking from her fingertips before finally dissipating. She turned to the rest of her clan and yelled, "The Sapphire Flame is with us!" A united roar clapped like thunder in response. She then stepped aside, helped by a young woman and a middle-aged man due to a poor gait of hers.

“Bring me my next offering!” Po sat back down in her glowing stone throne. “Bring the next clan!”

"Hep!" shouted an imposing figure, torso hidden from hand to hand and neck to knee. Like a cloud of colourful bats, the group strode into the offering circle like a patterned tide, jaws dropping like flies all around. At their head was Dancing-In-Ash, kicking and punching at the air while chanting in tongues. Up next to him stepped his daughter, Lights-in-the-Clouds, wearing a similar outfit to her father, but with her flaming scalp adorned with a crown of cracking stone. The rest of the clan formed a ring facing outwards towards the rest, hissing and flicking their tongues at the other Porries. Meanwhile, a particularly beautiful piece of fabric was being brought along behind the father and daughter, folded in thirds and sprinkled with obsidian dust.

"SHABOOBUH-BULAH!" howled Dancing-In-Ash as he kicked a footful of sand and grime at an unfortunate bystander.

"My father, the Ever-Seer, greets the Eternal Flame with the most profound respect," translated Lights-in-the-Clouds proudly.

“Oo!” Po cooed with fascination. “Your clan seeks my favor? Name your clan and present your offering.”

"HAJA AD-HAJAHAJA! MAWAHOOEE!" The Ever-Seer ran over to a nearby rock, kicked off and spun through the air. Then he mimicked two horns on his head with his fingers and crabbed menacingly beside one of his brothers, who returned the gesture as though he was repelling an evil spirit.

"My father confirmed that the greatest clan, Clan Peakfire, humbly seek your favour, Magnificent Mother of Magma." She clapped her hands. "Bring the Volcanic Queen her gift!"

The fabric-holder stepped forth, presenting the triangle of colour in her hands. Eight hands surrounded her to unpack the work, fold by fold. The tongue of metallic wool uncurled itself slowly into a tapestry of history, a work depicting the creation of the Porries, of Genesis and of the world, all at the hands of the Eternal Flame and He-Who-Sails-the-Heavens. The fabric's final shape resembled what the whole clan was wearing - a triangular attire that covered the torso and kept the warmth in and the cold out. The Ever-Seer and his clan froze so that she could regard the gift in peace.

Po gripped the poncho, sending the metal into a steamy hiss as she looked it over. Save for the dancing and festivities of the clans long since favored by the pyres, the area was silent in anticipation. FInally, Po shoved the poncho under her hood with a gulp. “All is consumed by fire! I am fire!” A burp. “You have my favor, clan Peakfire, show me your flame.” She held out her hand.

The clan exploded with roars of cheer. Dancing-in-Ash whooped like a howling ape and cartwheeled over to Po with all the agility of someone twenty years younger and stood right before her, eagerly bouncing up and down to the hoo-hoo-hoos of the hooligan horde behind him.

Palming Dancing-in-Ash's head, Po ignited his hair a brilliant hot blue. "Spread heat wherever you go."

The Ever-Seer cast himself in another cartwheel, whooping like a flock of birds. The rest of the clan followed the sapphire wheel out of the circle, breaking formation to form a triumphant train of dancers who celebrated the name of Po and clacked together bone percussion sticks. Like a conga line, they stopped intermittently to kick their legs out to one side, then the other a few steps later.

"Are there any clans left?" Po held her stomach.

For a brief minute, there was silence. Then one of the smaller clan matriarchs, Clan Glacier-Foes’s Star-of-Red, shouted, “The Blackshores haven’t presented their gift yet!” A rumbling mumble rolled through the gathered clans; the richest ones displayed borderline mockery - the poorer ones, concern. Another half minute managed to pass before the circle parted; the background music had slavishly followed the dying enthusiasm, and Clan Blackshore, a small family of hardly seven porries, stepped forward.


Seeing how skinny they all were, one could easily make the argument that they were no more than four in number. They stopped before the goddess, their clan head Matriarch She-Who-Shatters-Waves leading the pyrrhic charge. They prostrated themselves as deeply as they could and, to the crescendo of silence, the matriarch spoke, “Eternal Fire, please accept our most sincere apologies and regrets for failing to present an offering.”

Po leaned back on her throne. The air was thick. The porries knew she wasn’t the quiet type and seeing her silently tap her finger on the arm of her chair was more than enough to send a fright through them. “What?” Her voice finally came, snappy and hot.

A quiver rocked the matriarch and her family to the core - they stood shaking like pebbles before a quake. Grasping for an escape like a drowning sailor, the panicking matriarch defaulted to the truth: "The, the, the winter - the winter was cruel to us this year! It took all our food, our home - my niece Braving Seas flickered her last in the early Spring. We, we…" The lava tears rolling down her boney cheeks threatened to choke her out. From the other clans, the response was mixed, ranging from shifting eyes to spitting and snarling.

“You brought nothing.” Po’s scratchy voice seemed to be in disbelief. It quickly turned to a growl. Her fire roared as it grew. “Fire is all consuming and you brought nothing?!”

"Then I will offer myself!" came a declaration from the matriarch's right. Considerably younger, likely her son, a boy in the eve of his teens fought severe nutrient deficiencies to erect himself to his full height, which compared to many others around was nothing to boast about. The stunned mother took a little too long to recuperate from the message and yelled, "He will do no such thing! Please, Infernal Mother, this spark knows not what he says!"

"For the honour of my clan!" the boy insisted as his sister and cousin tried to wrestle him to the ground.

“I accept!” Po hissed, her flames still licking angrily. “From fire to fire!” She held out both her arms, as if offering some strange hug. “Come ‘ere!”

"NO! Nuh! Not you, too, my little Blaze!" the matriarch wept and joined in to hold back the youth. The teen struggled against the three adults and moved not an inch, but all around the Porries egged him on and denounced the rest.

"You shame him and your own name, She-Who-Shatters-Waves! Keep it up and his sacrifice will be annulled! To think such disgusting behaviour could be exhibited by a neighbour. Puh!" chastised the matriarch Burning Snow. When it became clear that the starved boy would never break out of their hold, zealots from every clan great and small stepped forward to peel the family off of him. To a chorus of wails from the Glacier-Foes, Blazing Woods was finally released and, with what little strength he had left, he stumbled into the arms of the fire goddess.

There was a flash of light as he hit Po’s breast and without a trace of dust or ash, he was gone. The goddess sat back down, her flames quelling but slightly as she did. She held out a single hand. “Remember… someday I’m going to eat the world. Everything will be fire, like how we are fire. One fire. Collect my favor.” She stretched her fingers.

Shattered, the matriarch stumbled forward robotically and presented her scalp, the flames on her head burning small and orange, almost red. Po placed her palm on her head and with a rush of heat, sent the matriach’s hair spiraling up in a blaze of blue.

“One fire,” Po reiterated and retracted her hand. The matriarch silently turned around and shuffled emptily back into the ring. Meanwhile, the chorus around had forgotten her and her clan; they looked only at the goddess, shouting as one voice: "ONE FIRE, ONE FIRE, ONE FIRE!"

Weeks had passed since the offering, and life on Genesis had a way of returning to normal once the cold winds reminded everyone that they were, indeed, on Genesis. Food didn’t appear in one’s belly on its own; it was a struggle - a condition for life. The Porries were quick to labour and toil for survival; after all, a flame will consume everything it can to stay alive. So long as there are things to consume, that is. Fortunately, the island of Genesis was fat with sustenance, with forests full of beasts and waters full of fish. A wooden boat from the main village on Genesis, Polis, had cast off the shore and drifted into the ice cold waters, eagerly following the rivers of silver twisting and rolling under the lapping waves. Aboard were four people, each from a different family:

Born-Aflame of the Peakfire, every bit as eccentric as his grand uncle;

Fiend-of-Shadows of the Singewalkers, the oldest of the crew;

Two-Flowers of the Charr, a robust and patient fisherwoman;

and Yellow-Scalp, a hotheaded young man of the Highgeysers.

Asail as the four of them were, each were busily tending to their tasks in a search for distraction as the monotony of the sea eventually settled down over the boat. Nets were mended and prepared; fishing spears were sharpened with rocks; wicker baskets were checked for holes. Before too long, however, the two youngest ones, at least, found themselves running low on tasks. The boat being so small as it was, one couldn’t move around much before it began to upset the balance of the vessel. It therefore quickly got on the others’ nerves when Born-Aflame, restless as he had always been, started pacing back and forth impatiently.

“Sit down!” Yellow-Scalp, without much filter, grumbled. He himself was sitting squarely by some wicker, weaving it into this and that to pass the time. Born-Aflame ignored him.

“There! That one! I swear, it was a fat one!” he said eagerly and pointed into the water with such vigor that Fiend-of-Shadows had to lean out on the opposite side to balance the boat.

“You heard him, sit down!” Two-Flowers demanded. Born-Aflame turned around and rolled his eyes before sitting down to poke at one of the nets. Mustering the sort of groan that only teenagers can, he looked longingly out into the water, distant glaciers contrasting the black peaks of the surrounding islands.

“Are we throwing the net out soon?” he tested.

“Soon,” Fiend-of-Shadows replied patiently.

“Uuuuugh… I see the fish - they’re right there! Let’s catch them already!”

“There’s a trick to it, you dolt,” Yellow-Scalp chided. “Not that you know much about thinking.”

“What was that, you little flicker?!”

“Boys! Po almighty, we’re just fishing,” Two-Flowers moaned.

“Yeah, we’re fishing, but I don’t know what he thinks he is doing.” Yellow-Scalp crossed his arms and cut a smirk. Born-Aflame was the type to bear everything on his sleeve - had the term been literal, he would’ve been weighed down to the ground at all times. The rage within him thus wasted no time in manifesting in a sharp kick, breaking straight through the wall of Yellow-Scalp’s wicker basket.

Yellow-Scalp threw the scraps still in his hands at the other boy. “What the hell did you do that for, you animal!” He stood up, nearly rocking the boat. “Why did you even bother coming!?”

“Why did YOU bother coming?! This is MY clan’s boat! You’re just here because Two-Flowers likes you!”

“Sit down, both of you! You’re rocking the boat!” Two-Flowers snapped back.

"You're wasting your breath." Yellow-Scalp started daggers at Born-Aflame. "You can't reason with animals."

“Animals?! You dirty–!” Born-Aflame snatched a fishing spear and tried to smack Yellow-Scalp across the face.

Yellow-Scalp leaned back to dodge the blow, but suddenly felt his stomach lurch as the boat followed him just enough. His knees locked up but it was too late - he lost balance. His hands flew behind him to catch anything but there was only air and with a sizzling splash, he landed overboard and into the water.

All three of the ones aboard panicked, and Two-Flowers almost instinctively jumped after him. However, mid-jump she was grabbed and held back by Fiend-of-Shadows, the boat only not tipping over because Born-Aflame fell backwards into a broken-backed seat atop some more baskets. While he slowly recovered, Fiend-of-Shadows blared at him, “YOU STUPID CHILD! Two-Flowers, grab that spear and help me fish him out!” The two tried their best to get a good grip on him, but as seconds became minutes, hope slowly faded for the crew. After a great deal of maneuvering the boat and labouriously trying to balance and counter-balance one of them leaning out to pick him out, they finally managed to recover Yellow-Scalp, now a flameless corpse.

When it became clear that his life was beyond saving, the other two turned slowly to face the very quiet Born-Aflame. Fiend-of-Shadows cast him a brief scowl before looking down in the belly of the boat. “You’ve caused such a shitshow, you stupid boy.”

Born-Aflame’s eyes flicked from side to side scouring for a reply, but even a youth like him understood what this meant. Two-Flowers said not a word either - she only glared beams of fire at him. Fiend-of-Shadows mustered only a sigh as his mind was still processing what had happened. After a moment passed, he added, “When we reach the shore, you will be given one day’s amnesty to return to your kin to say your farewells…”

Two-Flowers spat into the sea. Fiend-of-Shadows tossed her a brief stare. Born-Aflame moved not a muscle, but merely looked out at the distant icebergs drifting in the ocean. Fiend-of-Shadows continued, “... Afterwards, you will present the corpse to the Highgeysers and offer up your own life as an apology.”

Another period of silence, broken only by waves kissing the frame of the boat. Then Born-Aflame mumbled, “It’s not fair.”

Calmly, Fiend-of-Shadows replied, “Yeah, I’d wager that’s what he thought as he felt the heat sap from his body. All over a little dispute…” He shook his head.

“You better show,” hissed Two-Flowers.

Born-Aflame swallowed nervously. Fiend-of-Shadows nodded. “Yeah, you better sit at the other end of the boat until we reach the shore, boy. The Charr are sworn to the Highgeysers through blood.”

Born-Aflame suddenly quickened to and shot up to a stand. “But wait! Your brother and chief, Slagstone Singewalker, is a bloodbrother of my mother, the clan heiress! Therefore–”

“Therefore I will do jackshit, boy. Good luck finding a single Singewalker who will follow a murderer.” The boy deflated. Fiend-of-Shadows turned the boat around and started paddling back to shore, helped by Two-Flowers. With his last ounce of patience spent, the old porry spat in the sea and growled the words: “Now sit your stupid ass down.”

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