Having taken a brief nap after the creation of their new moon, Aethel now had a new priority; Making the place comfortable to call home. A matter that required a degree of thought... through made somewhat easier with the very early decision to leave the part of the moon that would always be facing the planet below untouched. After all, they didn't want anything that might interfere with the light that it cast; They had spent time making sure that the display when the light of their moon mingled with the red glow of the other one was captivating, beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Because art needed to be able to be viewed in a number of different, equally valid ways.
It also appeared that someone had been inspired by their work of art in order to create a heavenly body of their own... through in their case they hadn't created a proper moon. More just grabbed a big rock and did things to it so that it could produce life or something. Honestly seemed like a bit of a rushed job and it wasn't likely to draw too much attention below, but maybe they would visit it at some point. Might be quint.
At any rate, they had a whole dark side of their moon to do things with!
After all, this was a realm designed for Aethel by Aethel. A place only for them that they could fall back to when they wanted to have a rest or take a break from dealing with affairs on the planet below. However as beautiful and relaxing as it was, the equine felt the need to add something a little... chaotic to the mix. After all, apathy was a tragedy and boredom was a crime and they needed something about the place to give it that little bit of randomness.
The end result of this was the creation of the a fey looking fruit with pale white skin. It had no seeds and only grew on trees that could grow and survive in an environment that was heavily infused with dream energy. Such trees were dotted around Aethel's domain at random, but it was the flavor that was the biggest twist of the fruit. Namely, they (or anyone for that matter) would know what any individual fruit was going to taste like until they had bitten into it.
The fruit itself was infused with the essence of dreams. For every dream that developed within the Sea of Dreams, its essence would seep into a single fruit. This process didn't effect the dreamer or the dream itself, but it did mean that every fruit was one of a kind. Of course, not all dreams were created equal. By the nature of such things, some of the fruit would contain the unforgettable, life changing flavors of a grand dream... or haunting nightmare. Most would be more middling and average, ranging from delicious to unpleasant and bad tasting. Some were simply so foul and toxic that consuming one would possibly be fatal if a mortal tried it; And it was impossible to tell which fruit was which until after teeth had broken the skin.
Sure, Aethel didn't have a risk of death if they ate one of the really bad ones, but they would still need to experience the flavor. One could quickly grow tired of 'perfection' if one didn't also experience mediocrity and the bad in order to remind one why the good was Good after all.
Aethel claims their moon as their domain before decorating their new home. They also notice Ia’Akhul's new rock/moon and make a mental note to visit at some point.
The side of the Dreamer's Moon facing the planet is left alone so as not to interfere with the light show, while the dark side of the moon is turned into a relaxing dreamscape filled with a vast variety of plants, water sources and mountains, lit by a combination of the soft glow of many different glow in the dark plants and occasionally the moon itself.
They also create the Dreamers Fruit and scatter the trees all over the dark side of the Dreamers Moon.
Start: 5/5 MP & 5/5 AP
2 AP: Realm Creation. 4 MP: Significantly changing the landscape. 1 MP 2 AP: Creating an extraordinary species (Dreamer's Fruit Tree)
End: 0/5 MP and 0/5 AP
Aethel's Grove is located on the dark side of the Dreamer's Moon. Hidden away among the rest of the softly glowing darkened landscape, the center of Aethel's grove contains an island in the middle of a calm lake with a tree with glowing leaves that change color over time. It exists as Aethel's personal domain because that was where they were standing when they decorated the rest of the Dreamer's Moon and thus deemed this an important place.
While the realm never sees the light of day, the Dark Side of the Dreamers Moon isn't 'dark' per say. It is lit by a combination of the glow of the moon itself and a vast variety of colors provided by the luminescent plant and fungal life that stretches for thousands of kilometers. It is also home to countless ponds, lakes, rivers, groves and mountains dotted across the surface that poke out from the forests of plant life.
There are no animals or insects anywhere on the planet. The planet itself provides some warmth, but a mortal would find the realm icy cold despite the lack of snow. They would also die shortly after arriving because Aethel set up the atmosphere mostly to give the plants protection and allow sound to travel; They didn't make it breathable to mortals because they kind of forgot that mortals need a certain mixture of gases for them to be able to breath it and not suffocate. The 'air' of the Dreamers Moon is literally Ether.
By all accounts, the Dreamers Fruit Tree looks has the general appearance of a more typical apple tree. This is not surprising as the fruit it bares is typically apple in shape, through on occasion it'll take the form of other fruits. It shares the characteristics of other plant life on the Dreamers Moon in that it's leaves are luminescent in nature and help to light up the world around it with a variety of colors. It can also only grow in a place infused with dream energy or somewhere so close to the Sea of Dreams that those without the ability to normally cross over might do so. To date, the only place they can grow is on the Dreamers Moon.
The Dreamers Fruit is a fruit that grows on these trees. The most common form is that of an apple, through other types of fruit are known to grow from the same trees. All Dreamers Fruit share the same pale white coloration, no matter the shape they may take and none of them contain seeds. Each fruit is infused by a dream from the Sea of Dreams, absorbing the essence of the dream but otherwise leaving it and its dreamer undisturbed. This effects the flavor of the fruit so that each one has its own special experience. If the nature of this experience is a positive or negative one depends (mostly) on the person eating it.
Since every person has their own values, personalities, preferences and ideological tastes, there is no such thing as a Dreamers Fruit that would appeal to everyone. What is a vile nightmare to one person could be a delightful dream to another and this is reflected in how one would interpret the flavors of a Dreamers Fruit. Not all dreams are made equal through, so the more intense the dream the more intense the flavor/experience of the fruit. One can take a bite and experience a life altering bliss on par with a divine revelation to finding something so vile and toxic to their very being that it is outright poisonous and possibly life threatening... through those are just the two extremes of the techno-colored rainbow of experiences that the fruits can offer.
The greatest quirk of the Dreamers Fruit is the fact that it is impossible to tell exactly what experience you're in for until you bite into it. It is completely random which dream infuses with which fruit and no mortal or supernatural method of farming can alter the outcome. The ability to hide what it's flavor is going to be is a divinely granted supernatural property of the fruit itself that Aethel intentionally put in to prevent even a deity like themself with an affinity for dreams being able to know ahead of time and make the experience, good or bad, a true surprise.
Of course, a deity or strong enough champion could uncover its secrets without eating it first... but it would be a proper divine/supernatural act to do so (IE, it would actually cost resource points to do! Not many, but some). If this is worth the effort is debatable.
Oge’Ivu, Sanctuary, and Other Characters of Import
Sunlight shone through the branches of Sanctuary, that towering tree that dwarfed all others, and held within its branches the many dwellings that made up the de facto capital of wood elf society. Initially said elves had more or less been squatting in the city that had been grown by a god to test the now departed Pieapple and her companions, unable to build more, yet alone renew what was there.
That had changed now, thanks to one of the other members of the trio of elves that had (with some help) claimed this place for elf kind: Fernguard, the [druidic adventurer] and [warden] of the Darkwoods.
Not that she did that much adventuring these days, the druidic part of her class having become rather dominant since she had gained it. Case and point, what she was doing on this fateful day, which was not traveling halfway across the world to claim a kingdom, or investigating the mysterious castles that were rumored to have popped up recently. No, instead what she was doing was a lot less exciting, but in no way less important: teaching.
Specifically, the elf sat in a little plaza on one of the outer branches of their mighty home where they had a clear view of the sky and, importantly, lots of sunlight. Sunlight they needed because what she was teaching was plant shaping. Fernguard herself had, suitably, a little fern sitting in a stone pot and she was using it to demonstrate to a small group of elves, and (unbeknownst to her) one Rirakuri infiltrator who was using all their willpower to resist the temptation to suck out the soul of the bush they were tending.
Fernguard had no idea how the first bush this stranger had tried to tend had shriveled up as it had, but she was pleased to see that the new one was doing rather well, to which she communicated with them “Good job RockRock, your dedication’s really paid off it seems. That is one healthy bush.”
The Rirakuri sighed in relief at its passing grade and then watched as the elf stepped away and went through the rest of the group. “Good. Good. Hmmmm, a little dehydrated, you’ll have to correct that sorry. Good. Oh now that is a healthy one, great job.” she said, as she passed by the rest of them, dismissing those that were not up to snuff and retaining only those who had green fighters without a class backing them up, which still left her with a fairly healthy group of would-be druids.
“Now then, you’ve learned how to grow a plant the natural way, so the next step is for me to [share my gift: growth] with you all, and we will see how you take to the power and responsibility you’ll be receiving and taking on, should you graduate,” Fernguard informed the class as warm green energy flooded through them, her skill doing as advertised and lending them a bit of her power.
“Now, before you get started, watch me work my magic first.” The elf dictated, before softly running a finger along a shoot of her fern, and then, once she reached the end, effectively pulling that tip forwards, the plant growing rapidly before their eyes, yet entirely under her will, such that ended up with a single extra long shoot. At the same time, the rest stayed exactly the same.
“And there you go, a simple growth,” she said, before telling them, “now you give it a try”
And that they did, with varying levels of enthusiasm and caution which caused a few plant explosions, but which mostly went rather well all thing’s told, Fernguard stepping between the students and giving them tips, guidance, or soft admonishments to get them on the right track. That was up until she saw RockRock wasn't working on their bush and was instead starting up through the branches towards the sky.
“Hey, Sanctuary to RockRock, now isn’t the time for cloud watching. I’d be disappointed if after all your efforts you stopped putting in the work now” she said, giving the not elf a nudge which started them from their skywards gazing.
“Ah. Not clouds.” they clarified, before pointing up at a dot in the sky “That”
“Huh. good eyes,” Fernguard said as she squinted up at the same speck, and then asked, a bit rhetorically, “what is that?”
“Hoped you would know” RockRock replied, before informing her of the very worrying fact that “it's getting bigger”
Far above that greatest of Trees around the wind roared and pounded along the armored carapace of Oge’Ivu- but even the might of such winds was not a match for the sky titan that drifted downwards. Air was sucked in as ballast, taking the place of the void in her grandiose sacs. Although even with such a roaring up in the heavens above it was too far for any such indications to reach the ground except the sight of particularly observant hawks.
On the other side of the equation, three of her great eyes could focus on the ground as she descended. Their telescopic abilities pushed and pulled her pupils to see one small being only to view the grander view once again to pick another to focus. Her tendrils remained safely secured within her as she continued her descent of observation and curiosity.
A tree that was a titan itself compared to its own kin was a matter of some interest, but the flowering of small stubby four-limbed ones around it was fascinating even to a mind such as hers. In terms of survival, she had no real interest in them, but in the divine plan of herself and her children, there was accounting for more than just survival.
Grays, blacks, and muted purples colored her hide in patterns of plates and armors, flesh of sacs, and indications for fleshy entrances long since designed by the living creatrix. Although even without the knowledge of meanings and understanding the display could still be of some interest.
Her mandibles rested along her radial mouth, twitching only occasionally as she passed down moisture from the last clouds, closer and ever closer she went.
Most of the rest of the forest was blind to the descending titan, the thick branches leaving the tribes of wood elves blind to that which descended upon the heart of their civilization.
Thus the ones who bore witness were not elves, nor was it Umbral, Saytar, or the freshly birthed Rirakuri but humans. Humans and chimeras. It was not, perhaps, the sight you wanted to see only days after reaching your divinely gifted home, but the leviathan descending upon their neighbor's home was indeed what the Falling Star Sect saw from atop their step pyramid home.
Questions were asked as to if they should attempt to do something, but, ultimately, such thoughts were futile in the face of distance and scale. All they could do was sit and witness what would occur with bated breaths as the titan drew in close to float level with the city of Sanctuary from on far, and pray to their god that things did not end in ruin.
Because the elves’ god was nowhere to be found.
Oge’Ivu grew close, still far from the tops of even the branches of the great tree but closing still. Evidently, the little ones had seen her fully at last and understood her in some respect she could tell.
It is quite obvious to even a giant such as her when masses flood from open patches under the cover of trees or elsewhere beyond her sight. Others seemed very attached to various branches and other places among the great tree, they stood transfixed behind leaves or half hidden behind some other creation.
A good number came to greet her it did seem, they stood out proudly waving sticks and other implements to her. A vague connection flashed across the mind of Oge’Ivu- this was like the body-folding of the Septet. A tendril extended out from under her, mimicking the motions of one of the sharp-eared little ones even as her other eyes focused elsewhere among the crowds.
It found, among them, one who was half pushed and half stepped out on her from the main group of stick wavers. She was adorned with a cloak of leaf and vine-like many of her kind, and a circlet of living ferns with kiteshield-like fronds sat upon her brow. Her body was a canvas of body paints that told her story in broad strokes, from humble beginnings to her current state as one bonded by oath with a Huwu’idang, and of all her adventures and friendships that had come in between.
It was in particular the friend on her form who was not here that had resulted in Fernguard being pushed forwards to try and make contact. Had Pieberry been here, then she, with her ‘experience’ with speaking with gods would have had her stepping out. Instead, it was Fern, mostly out of association. Well, that and her new [warden] class, but her new order didn’t exactly have a lot of influence on its own yet.
Or at least that is how it felt in her gutt as she signaled for quiet, and then called up “G-greetings oh mighty god, we welcome you to our forest home, creation of Jeon Du Termas,” name-dropping their unreliable god just in case that helped dissuade any misdeeds, and then finished awkwardly with “to what, uh, do we owe the pleasure?”
To Oge’Ivu these words rang out, and to her, they meant absolutely nothing. She did however notice the drop of sound, and that singular voice, a figure stepping out and making themselves clear from the crowd.
She made no sounds in reply, floating above the trees as she was. It was a long pregnant moment before a change occurred. She let loose some tendrils, but they remained just below her. One moved out, moving fairly slowly compared to what it was capable of, coming forward to that lone figure.
This got a bit of alarm running through the elves who remained, though the slow nature of the tendril’s approach prevented any of them from attacking. Some, like Fernguard’s close friend Stagstep, called out for her to run, to flee, to get away from what was clearly a beast, but the [druidic adventurer] made no such move. Worldview colored by her encounter and pact with her Huwu’idang, the elf instead slowly, carefully, stepped towards the approaching tendril, reaching a palm forth to meet.
It wasn’t long before the spear-claw of the front of the tendril split along its nigh-invisible seams. Out coming a collection of feeler tendrils which thankfully could much more easily meet the elf rather than the likely crushing that might happen should the entirety of the tendril move forward to meet her. One first touched her palm, the others embracing the elf in a gentle hug before retracting leaving only the feeler pressed against her hand.
“Ummm… pleased to meet you,” the in awe elf said while, of all things, lightly grasping, shaking the feeler tendrils like they were a proffered hand.
The tendrils kept with her hand but did not seem to predict the shaking motion well. The grand form of Oge’Ivu drifted slightly closer to the tree, having greatly slowed her pace since approaching so close. Her tendril maintained the appropriate distances regardless of the bulk of her body moving.
It was without much warning that a change came. The wind blew and the many orifices and vents of Oge’Ivu bellowed and sucked air, whistling sound and bold deep calls. All to a beat, a song sung by one and yet seemingly with poise and noise that would take a prodigious choir to reproduce. To Oge’Ivu this was a song of comfort and company- not that the masses of elves she sang to would know such intentions immediately.
Sonorous and yet very different from the songs and music of the peoples of the great tree, singing sounds and whistling like flutes, air rumbling and calling such as the greatest of instruments could not yet meet. The sky titan continued in full to her audience making little other motion or movement.
Shock first, horror, hands covering ears and ducking down, preparing for the worst. Then when the worst did not come, the elves came peeking out from behind their walls and defensive positions, and simply marveled at this… event… and found that, if you could get over the way it was near deafening, it was, in its own way, beautiful.
Oge’Ivu’s concert lasted a fair while at that, after the first big moment at the start the music toned down in volume- allowing a subtlety of notes and movements throughout the music, building slowly from a loud and slow beginning- getting quieter and deceptively simpler. Before the once simple movements and notes flowed together once again is a mesmerizing display of control and power of air and movement. Even though it was seemingly all air, sharp stoppages and long movements made sounds unlike most to fit in with a fantastical flow of sound.
Oge’Ivu moved little during this performance, instead, she floated above the masses and looked and watched. Her lone tendril to the ground below had its feelers out still to contact and touch and hug and interact with those who approached but it did not itself move far.
This passivity brought those who had fled creeping back into the fold, and soon the branches were full of elf kind once more. At first, they simply marveled in awe at what was occurring, the sound blasting away their senses. But in time, they recovered and in time they started treating it as the concert that it was. Most sat and listened, while some tried to dance to that alien song. More tried that second option once someone cracked open the cider cellar.
Well, after they cracked open the second cider cellar someone had already thoroughly raided the first one.
Once Fernguard had realized she could, in fact, step away, others took her place, the curious and daring at first and then the mildly interested once it was seen to be safe. Some people even ditched the event entirely, workaholics and people who realized they had left the stove on going back to their days as if the event of a lifetime wasn’t going on right outside.
And, in the far distance, the humans and chimera of the Falling Star Sect got their own quiet version of that even as it echoed up through the mountains to their lofty homes.
In time, the building and flowing movements of the music and sound came to a resounding deep and long closure, having, at last, a drifting lullaby-like quality writ large as sound drifted to the final end of the song.
There was a heavy pause… and then thunderous applause.
Applause meant little to Oge’Ivu, she understood it not. She did not move during the course of it all, letting the small creatures make the noises as they wished. Her momentous form stayed above them in all its glory. Soft shimmers of sunlight off the purple on her carapace, her tendril still with those below who had dared to approach it.
A few took that opportunity after the concert was over, but, gradually, the onlookers petered away. They did, after all, have things to do, and although music and wonderment nourished the soul, they did not nourish the body. What did nourish the body was that daily bread, to which many got back to the literal or figurative grindstone in order to make.
In Fernguard’s case, that was going to be getting back to teaching, the elf clapping her hands and calling out to get her students' attention and gather them all back up. Among them was once again Rockrock, who returned holding, of all things, an apple pie someone had given them during the festivities and which they hadn’t really know what to do with, as eating its soul would have just made a big mess.
When questioned about this, they quickly came up with an excuse, which was: “um. For big friend?”
“Oh? Oh! That is a wonderful idea!” Fern thought, before encouraging the disguised tentacle person to approach the great tentacles of the creature, into which they carefully passed the still steaming pie (whoever had made it had used a [warm till served] skill when making it apparently) in its stone tray to the mass of curious tendrils.
The tendrils grabbed a hold of the tray curiously exploring the offered item through touch. Even precipitating another tendril to descend from the great body of Oge’Ivu, which subsequently opened and grabbed the try- bringing it up to one of its eyes for inspection.
While still maintaining one tendril to the ground the main body of Oge’Ivu began to move, slowly starting to circle the great tree. Her eyes’ pupils expanded and contracted massively, taking in details before switching to another location as she studied the structures, peoples, and the tree itself.
This was, it had to be said, a little unnerving despite the previous festivities, but the elves did their best to get on with their days with only a bit of staring back, although a few silly or egotistical individuals took this inspection as an excuse to show off, demonstrating their talents and [skills] before this mind-boggling spectator. This included the forming of several bands of their own musicians to play the titan their own performances.
Fern, meanwhile, got back to teaching while leaving Stagstep in charge of tracking the titan’s movements, the [ranger] and his [animal companion] Doe trotting through the streets of the city on 3 sets of fibrous legs as they shadowed the enormous watcher.
It wasn’t too long before the tendril to the ground retracted as the giant made first one, then two circles around the great tree that had become home to so many of the elves. And yet it was unnerving for some. Awesome for others. And an opportunity as countless tried to display their talents or otherwise found some novelty in the great beast that had some come down upon them.
Performances and ideas besides, on the third time she circled the tree Oge’Ivu began to lift once more as she expelled air from her void sacs, without much ceremony evidently having seen enough. A little crowd of elves gathered near the edges again as she began, some waving goodbye, some simply marveling, and others just glad that all this excitement seemed to be coming to a close.
Soon enough she retracted her tendrils, one seemed to wave as she departed, or perhaps it was just the movement coordinating through all the others. Once again she lifted to the skies above, seeming going from massive creature to dot in the skies once again as she passed over the mountains in the far distance.
And so the day of wonder returned to being just another day, but it was one that would stay in the elves’ hearts and minds till the day they died, and it was only slightly sullied by Jeon showing up at some point after sundown, much to late if this had been the crises they had feared it would be at the start, casually asking what he’d missed and then sulking after he found out.
Oge’Ivu visits the wood elves of Sanctuary, some mountain humans and chimera watch her approach from their peak, at first there is hesitation and apprehension, but Fernguard makes a nice first contact. They try speaking but Oge’Ivu doesn’t understand that at all.
Oge’Ivu ends up singing a full concert to the population of Sanctuary much to their surprise. After the concert Oge’Ivu flies around the tree a few times, gets a pie, and leaves as the elves go back to their lives or hold their own performances back at her. Jeon finally returns to ask what happened while he was away after everything is done and gone.
“This should be enough.” Shadow whispered as Resin observed the contents of his sack. Most of it were artistic wood carvings from various elven villages. There were some Umbral Woods goods there as well. There was even some white stone from Earthwall. All of it was stolen of course. The pile was the product of about five weeks’ worth of theft. “This will get us in the Bazaar and out again.”
“If you say so.” Resin said. The elf felt like he should be jaded towards his incorporeal guide. Yet the thieving and the skulking felt oddly comforting. Like he had found a job actually worth doing. Still, normal people don’t think like that. So he tried to pretend to dislike the tasks. “We’re going then?”
“Yep! Grab the bag and stand in the tree’s shadow. Then just wish hard enough you were in the Shadow Bazaar.”
Resin did as he was told. He closed his eyes as he wanted nothing more than to be in this place that the one Umbra they met kept describing as a place of endless, bustling activity. It was hard to imagine as an elf of the woods. For him Sanctuary was the biggest, most busiest place he could imagine. Hell, Resin had never even been to Sanctuary.
Yet when he opened his eyes a wall of noise overtook him. Suddenly he found himself stepping around a corner into a main thoroughfare. “Gracious Celestine.” He said out loud. All kinds of creatures were passing him by. Some looked like him, yet had rounded ears and looked a bit less… healthy. Others were completely different. Most didn’t pay him much mind.
Again Resin did as he was told. He started to walk aimlessly through the street passing all sorts of stalls selling all sorts of things. It didn’t take long for Resin’s curiosity to get the better of him as he strode closer and closer to the side and near the stalls.
“Something to your liking?” Shadow teased.
“The food… it smells so good.” Resin said out loud as his eyes and stomach wandered over the various small grills and open kitchens. “I’ve never seen anything like it.” It didn’t take long for his fingers to wander as well.
“Don’t do it, Resin.” Shadow quickly warned. “Not here.”
The elf just frowned. His guide had done nothing but encourage his thieving habits in the last few weeks, and now he had to stop? Screw that.
“Don’t do it. I’m serious.”
If something happened Resin could always melt through the shadows to get away. He had done it countless times. His hands moved over an open grill filled with skewered meat. It had two fewer when he passed.
Resin would continue to move away from where he stole the meat but before he could move too far, a person stepped from behind another stall. Seemingly lost in thought, she bumped into Resin, almost knocking him over.
The person, a female, was the most charming person which Resin would ever see in his life. Dressed in expensive clothing with a golden bow tying her black hair, she apologized for her clumsiness and turned to walk away but then turned once more towards Resin.
“ I am truly sorry. Looks like I need to look better at where I’m walking. Many apologies, I am Applepie of the Underground. ” said the elven woman with an extremely attractive smile and a flirtatious look in her eyes.
“I’m Resin.” The male elf said with a big smile. There was something so alluring about her. He wanted to get to know her better.
“Careful Resin.” Shadow warned. The ring’s consciousness was vastly more wary of the whole situation.
“I’m new here, to the Bazaar I mean.” Resin ignored his guide and kept talking with sweet Applepie. “Maybe you could show me around?”
Applepie looked at the ring Resin had and shook her head slightly before looking at Resin once more, straight into his eyes.
“ I can see that you are new to the Bazaar. If you accept my apology, I’d be more than happy to show you around. Come, follow me. ” replied Applepie while grabbing Resin’s hand as she started to guide him through the stall maze. Eventually she stopped in front of a fountain.
The fountain was decorated with jewels and made out of solid dark-gold but that wasn’t the most impressive feature of it. The water that would normally shoot out of it, wasn’t water. Liquid shadows, the same which the Dawnborn were made of, was shooting out of it. Making different forms, letters, in the air and they’d hang in there for a few seconds before hitting the pool and flying up into the air once more making different sentences everytime before repeating them again. Each letter was in polyglottis, the universal language which everyone inherently understood.
The messages were clear. All of them being Ashevelen’s commandments and the rules of the Shadow Bazaar. Curiously, there was a message that was being repeated more and more until it was the only one being formed. It read “No thieving.”
“It’s beautiful!” Resin exclaimed as he read the various rules. The no thieving rule passed his eyes every now and then but he didn’t really care. Every place had a no thieving rule. He had been chased enough to know people didn’t like it when you stole things from them. Then again, if you let it be stolen maybe you shouldn’t have it in the first place? The rule never stuck. His eyes had more attention for the beautiful elf beside him. Meanwhile, he was also starkly ignoring the bone-chilling sense coming from his ring. Shadow had gone silent again. That did make Resin worried, but not worried enough.
Then the other rules began to fade as they were replaced with the no thieving rule. The elf’s heart began to drop. When nearly half the fountains’ rules had become unified he realized something was deeply and horribly wrong. “I-I think I need to leave.” He stammered as he took a step backward, making sure he stood in the shadow of the fountain before calling on the ring to blink him out of danger.
Applepie just watched Resin as they read the rules and was expecting him to bolt the second he read them but instead he just sat that and admired the rules…that is, until Applepie slowly changed the way of the rules all writing the same thing “No Thieving” and sure enough, Resin figured out the danger he was in.
Applepie’s form suddenly changed to her usual divine one but remained the same size as Resin, for his benefit. Appl–Ashevelen now watched him with interest as he jumped into the shadows and then she realized what the ring actually was.
“ Silly mortal. ” were the only two words she uttered as she snapped her fingers, just as Resin was teleporting away. The moment he disappeared, he would appear next to Ashe, just within arm’s reach and then Ashe decided to have some fun.
“ If you like teleporting in my shadows so much…here, have a taste of it. ” continued Ashe as she tapped two fingers together and each time she’d do that, Resin would teleport to a different random location within the Bazaar. Of course, he wouldn’t have time to take a breath as he’d be teleported again and again. Thousands of times until, finally, Ashe chuckled and made him appear right in front of her. Healing his most obvious injuries from being teleported unnaturally so many times and so fast, Ashevelen immobilized him by making the floor “eat” his legs.
Taking the hand which had the ring on, she inspected the ring before giving it a gentle tap. Almost immediately, a tiny explosion of air happened next to them and an Umbra appeared. A blank stare in their eyes showed that it was an empty one, without any kind of sentience and then, a small sliver of power was transferred between the ring to the Umbra.
“ I am Ashevelen, spirit. The Goddess. Lady of the Swift Trade and Shadows. Is it you who possessed this mortal and made him break the rules? ” her voice was low, threatening as if she could snap at any moment and kill both of them.
“M-M-Me?” Shadow stammered. His Umbra shape was twitching and shaking. It was beyond unnatural for him. He was attached! Always! At all times. With little self-control over the act he dashed over towards a heaving, sickened Resin and attached himself over the elf like a cloak, utterly unable to release himself. “I-I just tried to warn him, Your Grace.” He tried to muster up a defense. “He shouldn’t have stolen. He shouldn’t have!”
Ashevelen shook her head once more and separated the two as two cages appeared from the ground around each of them.
" And yet you allowed him to be dumb enough? Unless, is he your master? Did he imprison you in that artefact? Stole you from your divine? If so, tell me your maker's name and I'll make sure you arrive safely. Kidnapping and thievery isn't something I look kindly upon. "
The Umbra form of Shadow was actively flinging itself against the cage in a futile attempt to reattach itself to the elf. “I… Can’t.” He answered. His voice was straining itself.
“I’m not his master.” A physically drained Resin managed to get out as the dry heaving abated. “He’s my guide. He told me not to do it.” The elf was gathering himself faster than most mortals would manage. Despite the shock, he bit through and tried to keep his head cool. Even when his legs were ‘eaten’. “I’m sorry.”
With a wave of her hand, Ashe dispersed the cage that surrounded them both and after snapping her finger they all got teleported to a different place.
Inside one of the towers that one could always in the distance, laid a prison of sorts. Same prison which Ashevelen used to house the elves that broke her rules before.
Only a table and a chair stood there, seemingly out of place considering the prison was empty. No cages, no prisoners…nothing. It was as if someone built the prison but then midway through the construction stopped.
" Take a seat. We need to discuss your punishment. " said Ashe while doing what she told them. Three glasses of Umbral alcohol appeared on the table.
Resin did as he was told. Though he was still very much leaning on the table to get to the chair. His legs felt weird now. Shadow felt significantly worse off. His Umbra form clutched around Resin for dear life. His own shadowy fingers laced those of the elf and its face hung over the elf’s shoulders with a void look. “Sure. Seems fair.” Resin said as he slowly sat down on the chair. The punishment process seemed to have started on a much better note than usually anyway. He didn’t touch any of the glasses though.
" What is your name spirit and do you want a different form? Looks like you are in pain. That's punishment enough, I'd say for you. And yours, mortal? After you answer that, you may start. I am waiting. Don't have a lot of time. "
“My name is Resin. And the shade on me.” “Don’t say my name!” Shadow sneered in Resin’s mind. The elf stopped for a second. Ignoring Shadow had never been a good idea so far. Still, it wasn’t like he really had a choice now: “Is called Shadow.”
For a second the elf remained silent. He was expecting some sort of explanation. When it didn’t came he decided to speak up: “What am I supposed to start?”
“ A serenade. Maybe some dance and of course to start answering all of my questions. ” quickly replied Ashe with a note of annoyance on her face. Realizing that the mortal might not be smart enough to realize, she added : “ Apologizing for what you’ve done, an explanation of why you’ve done it and…the bargaining. What do I get for allowing you to live after you’ve broken my rules? ”
“I’m sorry I stole.” Resin said as he tried to keep calm. Despite the threat on his life. “I just… I just saw the food and I wanted it.” It was the truth. It wasn’t a good one but at this point he was dealing with a goddess, so he figured telling the truth would be his only way out. “And…” Quite defeated, he then slumped in his chair. What in the name of Celestine could he even offer to a literal goddess? Servitude?
“You’re already claimed.” That familiar voice of Shadow whispered in his mind. “You made the deal remember. Power in exchange of servitude. Do not offer what you do not have.” Resin didn’t like that statement, but it was still a fact.
“Then get me out of here.” Resin thought. Shadow didn’t answer. So he sighed deeply. “I can’t offer you anything of worth. I can’t bargain.” So this was his end? Well, he lived a good couple of weeks at least.
" You wanted food and you took it. Maybe my siblings would allow that excuse to work on them, but I'm the wrong Goddess to try that on and I've got a question before I decide what to do with you, who do you serve, little mortal? I can see the strings attached to your soul. " replied Ashe, already losing patience with the mortal.
“I serve-“ He stopped his answer in its tracks. Who did he really serve? Something just offered him power. It had been nothing more than a voice. “Shadow?” He asked in his mind.
“It’s too early. Far too early.” The entity replied with hissing thoughts.
“Well she’s going to kill me if I don’t give her something!” Resin shot back with increasing frustration. Something he wasn’t good at hiding.
“Just… weasel your way out.” Shadow sounded rather unsure of that.
“Are you just going to let me die!?” Resin shouted out loud now. He was sick and done playing these games with his life in the balance.
“Ithril!” Hissed Shadow out loud now as well. “He and I. We serve Ithril.”
As soon as Ashevelen heard the name, a papyrus appeared next to her. Taking the papyrus in one hand she looked upon it with interest. Names of known divines, their domains and creations were written there but Ithril wasn’t there.
“ Ithril. That’s one divine brother I haven’t yet met. I think I need to have a word with him about his creations invading my realm and breaking my rules. Are you worth something to him, either of you? ” said Ashe as the papyrus disappeared.
“I just steal things.” Resin resigned to his fate really. “That’s what I… agreed to do for this Ithril.” Shadow went quiet again. Either to keep information hidden, or out of fear. Resin didn’t know. He just wanted to get out of here. “And I’m good at it. We were really just passing through your realm. I don’t think this Ithril wanted me to break your rules. In fact, considering Shadow telling me not to, I'd say that he didn’t want any of this happening.” Resin wasn’t entirely sure why he was talking so much suddenly. Maybe he just got tired of the tension and decided to get it all over with.
“ So you’re just a common thief. Is that what you’d want me to believe, mortal? That artifact you’ve got on your finger is more than enough to prove you’re full of bullshit, not gonna say anything about your guide . That’s not something a divine just gives to a mortal without any plan behind it. But maybe, just maybe, you just can’t see that. Your guide on the other hand could be a bit more truthful to you and tell us your real purpose. Have a chat with him later on. Either way, I don't know what to do with you. You're essentially useless to me but I've got to set an example 'lest others get any ideas. " replied Ashe, astonished at the mortal's apparent dumbness.
She stood up from the chair, conjured some mirrors forth and seemed to read things off them but for Resin it would look as if she just stared into nothingness.
" Ah. I know. Choose your punishment. Anything that fits a thief but you're not allowed to choose freedom as the punishment or anything of the sorts. " said Ashe as she turned towards Resin
For a second the elf was stunned. He thought he was going get blown apart by some divine smite. Instead, he gets to choose? “Just… have me beaten to a pulp? That’s what generally happened when I got caught in the past.”
“ That’s boring, lacks any kind of imagination and if I’d beat you, you’d be dead. ” replied Ashe with a bored look and then suddenly, she grinned.
“ I’ve got an idea that neither of you will like. ” said Ashe before laughing out loud. Her laughter shook the walls of the tower.
Ashevelen lifted Resin and Shadow from the table and as they floated in the air, approached them. She looked at the ring, then at Shadow’s Umbral form and then at Resin…grinning all the time. Making her hand similar to a sword, she cut through Resin’s arm like a knife through butter. No opposition at all. Afterwards, she grasped the ring in her hand and held it thigh, shadows started to pour out of her hand, blending with Shadow’s Umbral form.
Initially nothing happened with it but then it started to contort, making itself smaller and smaller until finally it formed the shape of an arm which attached itself to Resin. Fully replacing his lost arm that now disappeared in the floor. The arm had a small mouth in the middle of the hand through which Shadow could talk or eat if he wished to.
" There. One hates being a physical being and the other one is dumb enough to try to steal from a divine. May you keep each other company forever and stop each other from doing more dumb stuff. "
“What the-” Resin’s curse was quickly stifled by Shadow’s arm covering his face. The elf was furious at first as he clutched the shadow arm. Eventually, Shadow released his grip and turned towards Ashe. “We are most grateful for your enlightening lesson and punishment. With this I presume we are free to leave?” Shadow was being extremely cautious with his words. In truth the Ring’s entity wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of this horror show of a place.
“ Did I say that? I punished you and you should be grateful I didn’t remove the both of you from this plane of existence. But, you deserve a reward as well . You’ve exploited something that I didn’t expect, in a massive oversight, on my part. Just because it’s written that sealing isn’t allowed, it won’t stop mortals from doing it and I can’t just chat with all of you. ” said Ashe while looking at the two.
“ I know. I’ll give you something to wear to accommodate your new body. ” exclaimed Ashevelen as shadow-woven clothes appeared on the table. They were of good quality and the exact same size as Resin, minus the Shadow arm which seemed to always pinch in the wrong place when it moved.
“ Take them and leave. Next time you return to the Bazaar, make sure to check the fountain I’ve led you to initially. There will be a surprise for you. ”
The surprise was another punishment of sorts. Above the fountain there was now a painting of Resin and the writing “First Thief, may it be the last one…or else” just below it, for all who pass by it to see.
“ Bye-bye. ” said Ashe as they grabbed the clothes and snapped her fingers teleporting them both outside, on the other side of the bazaar.
Resin wasted no time at all as he rushed through the Bazaar, though he was careful not to bump impolitely against anyone. Who knew what more rules there were in this shadowy hellhole. Shadow was eerily quiet. When the elf reached the fountain where his sack of goods still was, he saw his picture. For a moment he felt a swell of pride bloom in his chest. Then he snapped out of that feeling again and grabbed his sack. Seconds later he opened his eyes while standing in the middle of a field. The sun stood high in the sky and he let out a sigh of relief.
“Ditch the clothes!” Shadow immediately said in Resin’s mind.
“What? But we got-“
“Are you seriously going to trust the gifts of a goddess who just took your arm for taking two skewers of meat!?” Shadow could barely believe his luck. Resin was a talented thief for sure but the kid had no gut feeling. He just took everything as it was. It had been a useful trait when his master came along but now it was getting beyond dangerous. “Ditch them. Leave them in the bright sun!”
“Wait I don't have any other-“
“Just do it!” Shadow snapped.
The elf did as he was told, as per usual, and took off all the shadow-woven clothes and left them in the bright sunlight, making sure that none of them had any shadow at all. Then he ran. There had to be a village nearby where he could klep some clothes.
“And so a force of this world revealed itself.” A voice whispered to itself from far away. “Now how should I go about trying to ruin your Bazaar, dear sister?”
Resin and Shadow arrived at the Shadow Bazaar and after being told numerous times by Shadow not to steal from the bazaar, Resin ignored the advice and stole some food. Applepie, Ashevelen’s elven disguise, bumps into the thief and after charming him, brings him over to a fountain that kept saying the message “NO THIEVING”. Figuring out his dumb mistake, he tries to teleport away only for Ashevelen to teleport him all over the bazaar in manner of seconds.
Ashevelen cuts one of his arms off and transforms Shadow into the missing arm. Permanently binding the two.
Starting MP/AP 2/4
-1 AP to curse Resin/Shadow transforming Shadow permanently into an arm of Resin.
Resin: 3 spirit + 1 Spirit: Appears in this post + 1 spirit: Interacting with a deity that did not create them + 1 Spirit: Involved in a collab + 1 Spirit: Medium length post + 1 spirit: Long length post Resin: 8 spirit
Desire had reached the southern shores where the land was mostly untouched by those that had answered the call of her mother, and she could see that there was little there that would be worthy of her attention, so she simply sailed eastward. She traveled at a relaxed pace, and appreciated the scenery which stretched on and on ahead of her; the wondrous sights and sounds that she happily immersed herself in.
As she continued upon her journey, the swiftly approaching presence of a forest realm saturated with shadows had acquired her attention, and the goddess decided that she would begin to seek other deities in that strange place so evidently endowed with sacred power. She could see the diverse denizens of the forest, those that were forged from shadows and those created with characteristics gained from multiple animals, along with the great sentinel that hovered over them - the immense six-limbed sentinel that loomed in the sky above the umbral woods.
Desire could not discern whether the colossal creature was a deity, so she sailed closer to it and came to a halt near one of its limbs before she forced the field of divine concealment surrounding Sunset Orange to deactivate - revealing herself with a gentle greeting.
“Salutations, I’m Desire. How’s it hanging?”
It was a busy day for the inhabitants of Shadowton. Carts pulled by Tarsks, trees being cut and an impressive amount of Umbras, Satyrs and humans could be seen moving away for Shadowton. They all seemed to have the same direction, south-west. To the site of a new village. Shadowton became too populated with the influx of mortal races currently living there and the increasing numbers of the Umbras.
And… it was about to get busier. The Shadow Guardian was watching the coast for any threats that might attack from the sea or would pose any danger to the convoy. Their senses were being stretched thin, as Beholders, which the Shadow Guardian used to expand their sight, were everywhere in the forest.
As such, they didn’t notice the divine being approaching from the coast until it was too late. As soon as the divine uttered words towards it, the Guardian let out a howl and Shadowton was put on alert instantaneously. The convoy stopped as well and one could see everyone grabbing weapons and such, not knowing the threat was a divine being.
As the Shadow Guardian had no voice of their own, they focused on Desire and their thoughts were sent to her. The voice of those thoughts being monotone and robotic, as if it wasn’t a mortal talking but a machinery.
“ Designation: Shadow Guardian. Purpose: Protection. State your business. ”
“Just your friendly neighborhood goddess visiting for a moment, hehe. Have you seen any other deities perhaps, Shadow Guardian?” Desire inquired, stepping away to stand upon the unbalanced point at the back of Sunset Orange, while the shimmer-board tilted and swayed atop the luminous waves of the stria due to her precarious position. The goddess with heterochromia adopted a coy countenance, and clasped her hands behind her back in a meek manner as she awaited an answer with a bashful aura.
The Shadow Guardian stood silently and watched Desire, scanning her for any potential threatening moves.
" Unclear query. State purpose in Umbral Woods or risk termination. " answer the Guardian in the same tone as before.
“I’m looking for your maker, Shadow Guardian. Could you help me?”
" Maker: Ashevelen. Designation: Lady of the Swift Trade and Shadow. Location: South. Body of water: Ocean. 231kms away. ” swiftly replied the Guardian, finally getting a question which they could answer with clarity.
And true to their word, Ashevelen was hovering above the ocean. Just at the edge of a divine’s sight. Having recently created Moby Dick, she decided to hang around and enjoy the sight of her new creation as it went away searching for prey.
Desire hastily bowed before the Shadow Guardian, and then arose with a smile as she shouted, waving with her hands while she turned Sunset Orange southwards. “Thanks Shadow Guardian! It’s farewell then!”
As soon as the Shadow Guardian saw Desire leaving, it let out another howl…calmer this time and soon the convoy was ready to move once more but that wasn’t the only thing it did after the howl. With a tentacle it swiftly grabbed an Umbra and sent a message through it to the Bazaar and ‘thus to Ashevelen, “Incoming”.
Ashevelen was, ‘thus, ready for Desire’s appearance. Blinking in the air next to her two chairs from the Shadow Bazaar, she took a seat on one of them before blinking a few cups and some alcohol that the Umbra managed to make which she then put on a table she conjured out of shadows. One of the few things that Ashevelen truly enjoyed from the Umbral cuisine.
Desire steadily approached, casually surfing upon the stria until she was within a much closer proximity to the other deity so that they could clearly see each other. She briefly contemplated how to introduce herself, before choosing to simply wave and shout from a safe distance.
“Hi! I’m Desire!”
“ Welcome divine sister. Come, take a seat and drink up. I am Ashevelen, Lady of Swift Trade and Shadow. A pleasure to meet you, you’re one of the few divines I haven’t had the chance to meet or hear anything about yet. Oh’ and if I may say, you look very similar to Homura, our divine caller. ” charmingly replied Ashevelen with a smile.
Any concern that Desire may have had was alleviated by the offer of a drink, and so she sailed closer, coming to a halt beside the set of chairs and the affable Ashevelen. The liquid light of the stria that came with her arrival quickly dispersed when she settled herself upon one of the seats and sent Sunset Orange away with a dismissive gesture, letting it vanish.
Desire let out a little laugh afterwards, and repeatedly averted her gaze as she spoke to the other goddess, her attention caught between the cup before her and its conjurer. “I’ve been a bit of a recluse, I suppose, but I’m hoping to change that. As for my mother, hmm… she made most of her daughters look the same - reflections of herself.”
“ Ah, that explains it. Homura is your mother, a peculiar thing if I may say so. Divines such as ourselves don’t usually make divine children but mortals which we adopt as our children. ” quickly replied Ashe before noticing Desire’s averted gaze.
“ May I ask what seems to be the problem? You seem a bit in distress. If this place isn’t suitable for you, may I invite you to my realm? I’ll offer you a deal, if you come. ”
Desire glanced at the cup, captivated, and then proceeded to take it - beginning to slowly sip its contents. Her brows had arisen with surprised amusement as she savored the taste, and she continued to drink until the cup was empty. She then found herself fidgeting as she hummed a response. “Eh? Problem? Not a problem really; there isn’t anything unsuitable here… I’ll gladly accept your invitation though.”
As soon as Desire gave her permission, Ashevelen snapped her fingers and both of them blinked out of existence and appeared in the Shadow Bazaar. For a mortal, the transition would’ve been jaggering but for a divine being, it would just feel like a long blink of the eyes.
The location where they were transported was right atop Ashevelen's tower. The seat of her power and a place which she enjoyed the most as it allowed her to view the entirety of the bazaar from above. Ashevelen took a deep breath and walked to the edge of the tower.
" Welcome to the Shadow Bazaar. One of my finest creations. " said Ashe pointing her hand over the edge.
The view was incredible from above. A big number of creatures could be seen going around the bazaar, buying, arguing for prices etc. Massive towers littered the background, always too far to reach but at the same time close enough to be always seen. Certain buildings could be discerned by divine eyes but it was obvious that they were invisible to mortals.
Desire moved to stand beside Ashevelen, peering over the edge and all across the lavish landscape, to observe all that was suddenly shown with an eager expression, and shaking now with a wild excitement akin to an elated child about to receive or give a gift. “Oh! It’s bustling! You’ve collected so much stuff!”
“ Collected, bought and received as gifts from different people or divines. You’re one of the few that was allowed entrance into the Shadow Bazaar without having to pay for it. Normal procedure is that one pays for the entrance before coming here. ” said Ashe, smiling at the excitement that Desire showed before turning to her and continuing.
“ You know’ a lot of divines and mortals over the ages believed that I am the incarnation of greed and that’s so far from the truth. I don’t buy information, objects, mortals and so on and so forth just so that I have more of them. We’re divines after all. I could just make stuff appear if I so desire . No. For me trading is like a battle, one of the minds. If I’m smarter than you are then I’ll out-trade you if you’re smarter than me…you will and that’s it. Neither of us get hurt in the process, no pointless loss of life. ”
Desire leapt away and flipped backwards with enthusiastic agility, alighting with one hand, before pushing up and bouncing again with a second flip to touch down upon her feet in a dramatic fashion. She crossed her arms as she shared a genial grin with Ashevelen, and slowly replied. “Hmm… incarnation. Perhaps then I’ll become this incarnation of greed, as I really want more food and drink, hehe.”
Her hands came together as if clasped in prayer, as she closed her eyes and hummed to herself. A strange audible sound came softly from her stomach, and afterwards Desire abashedly shrugged with a quiet whisper of apologies, uncertain whether her hunger would irk the other goddess or not.
Ashevelen looked at Desire’s agility and then matched it with her own, for fun, of course before laughing out loud at her words.
“ Food and drinks, you say? That can be arranged. Call it a favor for a new divine but afterwards…everything will have a price, dear sister. I hope you understand that. ” replied Ashe while snapping her fingers, teleporting the two divines into a luxurious and weird looking room. There were stairs on the ceiling which Umbral servants would take and they’d go down even if from the divine’s perspective the stairs went up, mirrors on the walls that seemed to reflect the opposites of whatever was reflected in them but what stood out the most was the table.
A massive table made out of an unknown material that seemed to be alive and inert at the same time and an impressive collection of food, drinks and the sorts from all over Galbar. The chairs might’ve been called the most unimpressive thing in the room.
“ I love this place. I created it based on the Ga’xxa’dra restaurant known throughout the cosmos. Unfortunately the rules of reality work differently there than here but it’s the best copy you’ll find around. Sit and eat your fill. There’s more from where this came from. ” exclaimed Ashe as she went to sit and grabbed some alcohol off the table.
Desire began greedily gulping down a myriad of drinks, and thrusting food into her mouth as if it would instantaneously disappear without her having had a chance to consume it. Despite the fact that she could create words without speaking through her throat, Desire still chose to garble her speech and so mumbled something mostly coherent through her overly stuffed mouth. “Iff neb ber uf this before. It’s inmum dible!”
Ashevelen shook her head in a friendly manner and chuckled a bit, reminding herself to bestow some kind of blessing on the cooks that prepared the food. If only they knew another divine was eating it and enjoying it…
“ I’m glad you like it. The cooks worked hard to make this food and alcohol. Be sure to take some for home, compliments from yours truly to your mother. Her invitation here proved quite profitable for me and very much interesting. I’ve learned much in this place. ”
“Mhm, certainly! I’m glad that something good has come from this. It’s been rather boorish lately, and I’m looking for ways to help my sisters have some fun. I think they’ll like what I’ve seen so far.” Desire remarked with a nonchalant shrug, her gaze drifting over all of the aspects of the extravagant restaurant with earnest fascination.
" Fun? Well, if you can pay, the Bazaar has something for you. Food, alcohol, animals, mortals…you name it, you'll probably find it. Let your sisters know about me and as well, tell them to tell all whom they encounter about this place. I like having customers. "
“Of course! You mentioned trade and said something like it was a battle between minds. I’m sort of stupid, so I’m going to be terrible at trading, hehe, but I think it’ll be fun to try it.” Her mismatched mix of ruby and emerald eyes were glittering as the delighted goddess leapt from her seat with a skip and a caper. Her fiery hair trailed behind her like a stream of scarlet silk ablaze with life and laughter, as playfully pirouetted again and again with nearly perfected foolishness.
“So show me the secrets surrounding sacred commerce, Oh, Lady of Swift Trade and Shadow!” Desire said, smirking with silly intent, holding out her hands.
" It isn't only about intelligence, Desire. It's about cunning, about strength of character, raw power, willpower. Everything that makes an individual, an individual, makes the core of trading. Anything can be used to persuade a buyer/seller. It doesn't discriminate on species, divine hood or anything else. For example I bought my divinity from a Primordial divine many, many eons ago. " replied Ashe with a grin, her passion for trading clear in her voice.
She grasped Desire’s hand and teleported themselves to the stalls down. From there they walked through them, Ashevelen occasionally stopping to buy something from a stall explaining the process of haggling and so to Desire as they walked.
“Ah, then my sisters and I haggle with each other, or our mother, all of the time! I’m sort of reminded of back when I held the Aspect-shard of War, and I gleaned the truth of the cosmic contest - the, uh, continual challenge and competition. So it seems haggling and War are like two sides of the same coin then.” Desire cheerfully commented after mostly hearing a little of what there was to learn about trading with her arms crossed and her brows furrowed with contemplative concentration. Her pensive visage swiftly vanished, as she became lighthearted and jovial once again, as well as hungry for further knowledge regarding the wondrous art of the deal.
" War is similar to trade, that much is true. Just a different kind. I wouldn’t call them two sides of the same coin, tho'. More like shades of gray. Same but not really. I could spend eternity explaining every small bit about trading, haggling, pacts and everything in between and I probably wouldn’t have enough time to cover it all. But if you want to learn more, please visit my holy order at the Grand Library of our sibling the Kathetikon. Give them this…” explained Ashe and at the end, materialized a coin in her hands and flipped it over to Desire.
“ And they’ll allow you to study as much as you wish about trading, knowledge, curiosity, pacts and so on and so forth. Oh’ and trust me, if you get the chance to meet the Kathetikon, do it. They’re a very pleasant divine and a personal friend of mine. ”
“Thanks! I’ll have to remember that!” Desire said with a warm smile, as she stared at the coin she had caught and currently held in her palm, before her attention shifted back to Ashvelen. She playfully winced, closing one eye and curling inwards in pretend-pain, as she added. “I’ve not a clue where any other gods or goddesses are though…”
Ashevelen slapped her forehead in a playful manner, completely forgetting that Desire said she’s been a recluse ‘till now. Snapping her fingers once more, a papyrus appeared beside her.
“ Feel free to follow the map until you get to the Grand Library. If you wish to know the locations of the other divines, at least those that I met…that will cost you. Surely you understand that I can’t offer information for free. ” replied Ashe before ending the sentence with a wink.
“The map is more than enough!” Desire announced.
“ Can I entice you into buying something, my dear sibling? Some mortals? Maybe a sword? If not, I do apologize but there are other matters that require my attention. ”
Once more, Desire crossed her arms and furrowed her brows with intense concentration, nodding to herself as she pondered purchasing anything that she had seen or would be available. She abruptly stirred as she realized what she wanted, and outstretched her hand to the side, grasping the sudden shape of Sunset Orange that appeared. She then held the shimmer-board horizontal upon both hands and looked at Ashvelen with another brimming smile.
“Could you imbue this with the ability to surf through the sea of shadows?” She asked the other goddess, her ruby and emerald eyes dancing between the artifact she carried and Ashevelen, and her voice suffused with an almost pleading tone. She was jumping with hopeful anticipation, bouncing back and forth on her feet.
Ashevelen approached the Sunset Orange and inspected it with an expert’s eye, noticing the material it was made and potential abilities of the artifact.
“ It’s a well done artifact, compliments to the craftsperson who made it. I’m assuming it isn’t for sale if you want me to imbue it with power. I could do it, shouldn’t be an issue but…as the old saying goes: What’s in it for me? ” replied Ashe.
“Hmm… what would you want?” Desire inquired, tilting her head with curiosity.
“ Bless my Satyrs with the power to manipulate whatever element you may wish, to create strings or rope with which they can suspend or capture intruders. If that is within your powers, of course ” replied Ashe while teleporting a few Satyrs next to them.
“That sounds like a good trade!” Swiftly nodding her head in agreement, Desire held out her arms once more with one limb offering Sunset Orange levitating the artifact to Ashevelen, while the second limb reached out towards the collection of satyrs. The shimmer-board became open to the other goddess, its function and design were all accessible, as its original maker granted permission for it to be changed.
Her hand that pointed towards the satyrs began to shine with sacred power that she summoned, as suddenly three threads of red radiance emerged from her appendage. The threads danced like serpents, singing and slithering while they approached their targets, then they encircled the selected mortals and formed an interwoven ring that hummed and hissed as its fiery illumination began to fade. The ring continued to darken, as black shifting symbols manifested upon the skin of the satyrs, these gnostic glyphs that indicated they had been blessed, and then the ritual was complete.
The circle and the markings faded, though the two deities would be capable of sensing the lingering presence of the blessing, and then Desire clapped her hands together as she exclaimed. “I grant you the blessing of the Luminous Lasso!”
As Desire worked her magic on the Satyrs, so did Ashevelen on the Sunset Orange. She approached it and as she had access to it fully, studied it once more. Understanding fully its abilities, how it flew and how it interacted with the environment.
Holding the Sunset Orange with one hand, she raised the other one in the air and a hammer made of shadows appeared above it. Grasping it, it suddenly started to pulse with power until a small ball of pure divine energy was all that could be seen and that’s when Ashevelen started her work.
With the hammer she started hitting the Sunset Orange in key places, each hit of the hammer would make the artifact vibrate and darken. Each hit made a sound that could be heard all over the Shadow Bazaar, a showcase of Ashevelen’s power within her own realm. Eventually, it was time for the piece of resistance.
With one last bit of power, Ashevelen’s finger drew a tiny symbol upon the Sunset Orange. A small coin surrounded by shadows that seemed to always be in motion no matter who would look upon it. As the work was done, the Sunset Orange would be able to surf through the sea of shadows, changing colors into a dark orange while doing so, and because of the coin, it would grant Desire the ability to teleport at will via the Shadow Bazaar’s teleportation system without having to pay for it. Giving her access to a good part of the world instantaneously.
“ There you go. All done now. ‘Threw in something special as well, call it a favor for the future. Now, you sure I cannot interest you into some mortal servants? I’ve quite a few of them. ” said Ashe as she gave the Sunset Orange back to Desire.
With a lighthearted warding gesture, Desire chirped her response. “Ah, I’ve no time or place to take care of them though, so I can’t take any now. I’ll just have to come back whenever that’s changed, hehe.”
“ Well, my door is always open for you, it was a pleasure doing business with you. Just don’t forget to mention the Bazaar wherever you go, I need customers after all. ” replied Ashe with a wink and a smile.
Desire is surfing onwards, and she reaches the edge of the Umbral Woods where she encounters the Shadow Guardian. She receives directions towards the nearby Ashevelen and introduces herself. The two deities travel to the Shadow Bazaar, where its wonders are shown, and then Desire and Ashevelen trade with each other: Desire blesses a few satyrs with her power, while Ashevelen enhances Sunset Orange.
Desire Spends 3 AP to create the Blessing: of the Luminous Lasso. (This blessing allows the affected to create a long lasso out of solidified light. When these conjured lassos are used to capture a creature, the restrained creature becomes blind and suspended until released by the wielder of the lasso. A blessed individual can only conjure one lasso at a time, and the range of the weapon is limited to a medium distance.)
5/5 MP & 2/5 AP remaining.
Ashevelen Spends 3 AP to imbue the Sunset Orange with the power to suft the sea of shadows and allow Desire or the Sunset Orange to teleport at will, wherever they are, using the Shadow Bazaar’s teleportation system. Spends 1 MP (off-screen) to transform the Satyrs, giving them horns that grow until the day they die, the horns increase the density of their bones overall too. End MP/AP 1/0
When Lorelei awoke, she was greeted by a barely-clothed, dark-skinned elfkin. The elf, who introduced himself as Julles (in a strange, kinda creepy way), quickly filled Lorelei in on what he’d done to keep both her and Astarte alive over the last few days, which reminded her of the fact that she’d lost an eye. The catgirl had no time to grieve for lost orbs though, so instead she quickly dressed herself and used some strips of fabric of her torn jacket to fashion herself an eyepatch. Soon enough, Astarte woke up too.
The self-proclaimed goddess was a bigger mess than usual. She had a large scar over her entire right shoulder and her joint popped every time she moved it, but she was fine otherwise. Well, at least, she wasn’t in any pain. Julles explained that the antivenom that Astarte was given was much stronger than the one Lorelei had been given, and so she was likely to still be pretty high.
And when you mix an insane high with a dummy like Astarte, things happen. Like forgetting how to put on trousers and developing a sudden phobia of hair brushes.
So yeah, Astarte was a mess.
An hour later, the pair (as well as their new beast-of-burden, Shadobig the Iwak, eater of Spiders) found themselves guided through a set of rickety (but incredibly long and sun-drenched) treehouse bridges, past many treehouses in different stages of disrepair ranging from residences to workshops and even suspended gardens… Until they reached the biggest of the treehouses, one that looked a little bit like the main tree back in Sanctuary, with the central structure grown out of the tree rather than built.
It was there, upon entering the threshold, that something happened that none of them were prepared for. A murky substance had spread out across the wooden floor and it seemed to absorb the light filtering in from outside. Julles, with an exclaimed whimper, about knelt over in some form of reverence before it became apparent just what that substance was- Blood.
Like a stream of mist it began to flow into the elves bow, one he always had on him, one he even talked too at times in hushed whispers. Though they hadn't been around him for long, it was apparent he really was crazy.
The room grew eerily quiet, Shadobig fidgeting in either nervousness or restlessness, before all at once a giant crimson hand shot out from the floor, grabbed all of them with a sickly warm touch and swallowed them into the depths before any word or action could be uttered or taken.
There were no sensations at first, an absence of all sight, smell, taste and hearing before it all came rushing back as they were deposited upon a floor of marble with a pale light all around. The sickly smell of iron permeated the air. Lorelei looked up with her one good eye to see someone even more sight less than she. The unassuming woman was unnaturally pale, almost milky white, with hair to match. It fell in straight lines past her shoulders and a crimson ribbon was covering her eyes. Below that was an impassive face, perhaps one of scrutiny. Her ears were pointed, was she an elf? That was Lorelei’s first question, but she quickly came to realise that the woman was more than likely no elf, but instead divine to some extent in nature.
Julles immediately placated himself by bowing on his knees. Lorelei did the same.
"It seems I have a bycatch." She spoke with an equally impassive voice, a hint of arrogance to boot. She looked over both Lorelei and Astarte, pinpointing their exact place. "You are different, aren't you?" She asked herself, rising from her throne and walking before them. "An older blood flows through you." She said to Lore. "And you, ancient and intoxicated." She said to Astarte. "Was it fate that brought you to me or something else entire?" She came to a stop before them. "Your names?" She asked, looking past them now.
“Astarte!” Shouted Astarte with a massive grin, floating slightly above the floor, “Finally! Finally, someone can tell I’m an ancient, super-powerful, amazingly-beautiful Goddess. Told you so, Lore! Told you so, Julles! I’m not crazy!” Astarte laughed and pumped her fist up into the air victoriously.
“A-and I’m Lorelei. [Feline Tinkerer] of the team.” Lorelei explained politely with her head down.
With unnatural motion, the woman came before Astarte. “You are of ancient blood, yes, but you lack the defining traits of a Goddess. Mainly…” her voice wavered as she lifted a hand, as if to touch her but she quickly let it fall back to her side. “It would be improper so soon.” She seemed to say to herself before drifting back over to Lorelei. “I have not seen your kind before, either of your kind. Are you perhaps not from here?” She asked.
Lorelei nodded, flicked her ears and tail and stood up. “I’m an Astalonian. I-I think I escaped my old world by mistake. I know things no one else knows, but I-I can’t remember them very well. I haven’t been able to repair all my t-tools because of that.”
Astarte tried to make conversation with Julles in the background as Lorelei spoke with the stranger, but kept getting ignored so hard she eventually laid face down on the floor.
The woman tilted her head. “Interesting.” She commented, folding her hands. “Few there are who can remember a different time before this one. Very few. Consider yourselves lucky or cursed. Either way, you’re here now and I doubt there’s any way home.” She said with bitterness in her voice.
“L-Last place got blown up by not-demons and homuran ambition. Also by P-Prime cannons and Recusant fire. There’s nowhere to go back to for me. And Astarte d-doesn’t even remember what kind of Goddess she even was, so…” Lorelei sighed. “Why are you wearing that blindfold, anyway? Spiders pop your eyes t-too?”
The woman gave a coy smile. “Not exactly. If I attempted to explain it, you would probably end up like that one.” She pointed to Astarte. “Was it a spider that stole your eye?” She asked, seemingly with concern. Strangest of all, behind them, the white throne of ivory slowly took on the dark shade of crimson, until not a trace of the white remained. The woman seemed to relax a little, her posture slouching.
Lorelei might have been missing an eye, but she noticed the change in the environment and stole a quick glance at the exit.
“They came out of nowhere like, ZOOM! And WHAM and SLASH! Before I knew it my shoulder was split open. Their venom is crazy you know, it feels even worse than the pain you get from peeing your pants while doing Wind Stance katas! Trust me, I would know. Not that I peed my pants or anything, resulting in Hills making fun of me for a whole month… Yeah, that wouldn’t happen.” Astarte chimed in from the floor.
“I fought them off l-long enough for Shadobig to save us, and then Julles came to our aid as the venom k-knocked us out.” Lorelei explained, lightly caressing her eyepatch. “I-I dont wanna waste any more of your time, Lady…?”
“My name is Wyn.” The woman said, the aura of arrogance and impartiality gone from her voice, replaced with a reserved quietness. “I am sorry to hear of your harrowing battle. But it’s quite alright, I did bring you here, after all. So no time is being wasted. Oh…” She furrowed her brows, as if in thought. Then she looked between them before landing on Julles, where her face lit up. “Ah, of course. That bow… That’s why I brought you. It would be better if I took it for safekeeping. It’s dangerous.”
At that, Julles tensed up, his grip on the bow tightening as beads of sweat immediately began to form all over his body. Without lifting his head, he spoke. “Crimson Arc wishes to travel, Lady Wyn. She does not desire to be kept in a box, or a shelf, or a display.” Lorelei and Astarte both raised an eyebrow at the fact the dark elf had given a name (and gender) to his bow.
Wyn also raised an eyebrow at this statement. “It went by another name once.” She muttered, “Is it th- her desire, or your own?” she asked, lips pursed.
“She gives me guidance when the gods do not. I merely take her where she wishes to go. Her desires are my desires… She is the only reason I saved the two foreigners. Please leave her with me Lady Wyn, I will guard her with my life.”
Wyn was silent for a time, as if contemplating his words. “You’ve given her your own blood, haven’t you?” she asked at last. “She craves it above anything else. The life force that all hold dear. Did you… Did you feed her their blood as well?”
Julles merely nodded in response. Huge freak alert, Lorelei thought with a small twitch in her eyebrows.
“The intent may have been noble but she is only an addiction.” Wyn rubbed her brow. “I think it would be best if I leave this matter to the two of you. Lorelei and Astarte.” She vaguely looked between the two. “He has used the bow upon himself and the both of you. I can only surmise the reason you are alive is because the venom was sucked from your veins. That said, it is a dangerous tool. So, shall he keep it to safeguard it, or shall it be given over to me?”
“Easy! He keeps it. He saved our lives with it, plus I don't even remember feeling like anything was being sucked out of me so it’s all good!” Astarte said with a giggle.
“You were unconscious for it all…” Lorelei muttered. “Anyway, any t-tool worth using is dangerous to some extent. Like j-jackhammers.”
“So be it. You may keep her, Julles. Upon this condition; Never take life without cause, no matter what she whispers. Do you understand?”
“She has never guided me astray. I understand.” Julles nodded solemnly.
‘Good. Then this business is concluded.” Wyn smiled. “Now let’s fix you up properly.” She said, walking over to Astarte. She bent over to look down at the girl, then touched her forehead. “Your blood shall be replenished and any lingering toxins will dissipate. Plus you look dreadful, do not take offence but it is simply the truth.” Her voice became playful as cuts, blemishes, marks and any other disturbances disappeared from Astarte’s skin. Even her hair seemed to grow lush and vibrant. When this was done, she walked towards Lorelei. “Would you like the use of your eye back?”
“Y-Yes please.” Lorelei said and pursed her lips.
Wyn touched her forehead, the changes that took place in Astarte recurring upon the cat girl. As her skin healed, her fur took on the same lush tones as Astarte’s. It was an instant beautification the likes of which they had not known. Even still, there came a slight pressure in her forehead and then a sudden pop- her eye had regrown. “There. One should not be blind, even partially blind, if it can’t be helped.” Her hand touched Lorelei’s face before it dropped back down at her side. “Is there anything else I might be able to do for you?”
Lorelei kept her eyes closed as she took off her eyepatch and stuffed it into one of her belt pouches. “Y-You’re a Goddess, right Lady Wyn? Could Gods bring my people b-back if I garner enough favour?”
“I am but you must keep it a secret, for your own safety.” She muttered, “To bring back a people would be a heavy task, Lorelei. Even for a God. If any could do it outright… It would be she who called us here. I have never met her, nor do I know where she exists upon this plane. Perhaps…” Her voice dropped off and she turned back to the crimson throne. She raised her arm and a shallow dish lifted from the floor and hovered over to them.
“This is an artifact that allows one to see what they desire most in the given moment. Maybe if you think of your people it can show you something? Or it may not. You should know there is a price to pay. A drop of blood, if you are willing.” The Goddess said in a hushed voice.
Lorelei pursed her (strangely smooth-feeling for once) lips and pricked a finger with one of her claws, letting the drop of blood fall into the bowl. It shimmered for a moment, before settling on a foggy reflection – One that looked like what she recognized as a photograph, one that actually used to exist, where she was little and a large cloaked man held her. Many people with blurred faces stood to either side of them in many different poses. Lorelei rubbed her eyes and looked away.
“It d-didn’t show me my people…”
“Then it was not your people you desire most.” Wyn’s sad voice came. “I am sorry.”
The catgirl sighed. She had no idea who the people in the reflection were, but they must have been important. If only she could remember them… “Thank you f-for all the help and the gifts, Goddess. I’ll take b-better care of my eyes and Astarte from now on. We really g-gotta keep moving, though- There’s a famous s-smith in the Lonesome Masters’ Hold that I n-need to meet, and we’re already running late…”
“So yeah! We’re shooting on outta here! I wonder if Hills will be there? She’ll be so jealous of how I look now!” Astarte laughed evilly as she floated towards the exit. Lorelei nodded her head at Wyn and followed Astarte.
“I’m afraid you would not truly be able to leave this place that way.” Wyn said sheepishly. “We are deep underground, far beneath the light of the sun.” She rubbed her hands together awkwardly. “But… There is another way, you might enjoy. Have you ever heard of the Shadow Bazaar?”
“Huh?” Lorelei’s ears perked up.
“Big Smoke mentioned it a couple times!” Astarte perked up as well, both girls were interested. “I thought it was just an Umbra word for toilets, though. You’re telling me it’s an actual place?! A not-stinky place?!”
Wyn nodded. “To enter, you only need shadow…” She whispered, producing from her hand a small pouch that she outstretched to Lorelei. “And something to trade.”
Lorelei and Astarte are making their way towards a meeting place with Wyn after waking up thanks to Julles’ magicursed treatment of their wounds. In a hall-like room they meet the goddess and introduce themselves to her, they exchange some information, Wyn allows Julles to keep the BLOODBOW (called Crimson Arc by him) and eventually Wyn heals the girls’ permanent injuries and beautifies them in the process. Some minor stuff happens,and finally Wyn tells the pair about the Shadow Bazaar.
-1MP to teleport the Lorelei gang to Wyn’s realm. -3MP to claim the Beauty Aspect (Summary coming soon to a theater near you.) -1MP to gift Lorelei a pouch with a strange seed (A champion).
-1AP to Bless both Lorelei and Astarte with beauty untarnished. Scratches, cuts, blemishes and any other skin ailments fade away with time and all outward ageing stops. Their physical appearances will never lack luster even on the worst rainy days. -1AP to Bless both Lorelei and Astarte with reinforced blood. They are immune to toxins, poisons and other physical ailments that would kill any normal mortal. Their blood also slows them from ageing inwardly, making them effectively very long lived.
The Journey - Part 2.3 - Side Quest - The Seed of the Mind Pod - Noon - Light Woods
“ There. That’s what I feared the most. ” exclaimed George as he pointed at the shuffling mortals that surrounded a massive plant with a large bulb pointing upwards and big roots which extended throughout the forest.
Penumbra quickly appeared next to George to understand what’s going on and…they were surprised to say the least. “ More survivors? ” whispered Penumbra as Custosa and Dahm hid in the bushes as best as they could.
George shook his head and turned towards Penumbra, his face was dark and his sadness was obvious in his eyes. “I wish. Those are the villagers and other tribes that live in the area. They…were taken. Chiron insisted that they weren’t dead but I didn’t want to believe it. Look at them. Those green eyes, shuffled movements. They’re not dead, they are alive and that’s worse. ”
Realisation dawned upon Penumbra’s face. “ Oh no. They’re under the control of the Mind Pod too. Dead but not dead, their bodies still moving. ”
Custosa uttered a small prayer to Jeon under her breath before, without saying anything to the party, charged forward with a loud “WAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH” which also activated her [Taunt] skill. Almost instantaneously, the zombies turned towards her, limbs forward and the intent to dismember her at any cost clear in their eyes. Not that it would stop Custosa. Enabling one more skill [Enhanced Reflexes], she waved between the zombies striking with her spear at every opportunity, dropping zombies behind her that would stand up seconds later continuing their onslaught.
As the zombies surrounded her, she activated her ultimate skill [Bulwak] and in the blink of an eye, grew in size. Arms looking more like tree trunks than normal elven arms. Standing in the middle of at least 30 zombies, she pushed them back with her spear. Occasionally picking one up and throwing him away deeper within the forest.
“ Your companion is going to get herself killed. ” whispered George to the party as they stood just at the treeline, hidden from view for now as all the nearby combatants were focused solely on Custosa.
“ She’s giving us an opening. The zombies and the Mind Pod, they’re focused on her. It must know we’re here but if Custosa is too close to it, it must defend itself. I know what we must do. George, jump into the fray. Reduce the pressure on Custosa, Dahm, do what you do best. Sing. ”
“ And you? ”
“ I’ll take down this oversized plant, no matter what. C’mon, let’s go. Custosa’s skill won’t last much longer and then it won’t end well. ”
“ You don’t have to tell me twice. ” replied George before jumping into the fray himself, punching zombies, crushing skulls and breaking bones. No matter how many times the zombies could stand up, they couldn't do it if their legs were broken or spines shattered.
Dahm stayed behind, his voice lifting above the sounds of battle, above the groans of the dead and the shouts of pain and anger. All of his skills activating one after the other. Song after song.
“In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed …”
Custosa soon ignored her many injuries, zombies would start attacking each other, some would look to the sides before continuing forward and more. Each word he sang blended into the background noise, each verse was a tale to be told later.
As the zombies would fall, other creatures joined the battle. From the sky, Tonikala rained upon the party and from the deeper part of the forest wolves and dino-plants assaulted them from the sides. Centaurs would charge into Custosa as she fought tooth and nail for every centimetre she walked towards the Mind Pod. Not that it stopped her, she kept on going and going, her resolve clear on her face…bloodied as it was.
In the meanwhile, Penumbra was not idle. As the party fought and kept the Mind Pod busy, they silently teleported themselves towards the Mind Pod. Using a combination of their own teleportation skill and the Shadow Bazaar’s, they would appear and disappear constantly. Every time they’d risk detection, they’d fade into nothingness only to reappear seconds later. The costs would soon start to rack up and loaning money wasn’t a thing yet, so, they would have to face the enemies very, very soon.
Just a few metres away from the Mind Pod, that’s exactly what happened. On the opposite side from where Custosa, George and Dahm were fighting, Penumbra was stuck. They had nothing else to give besides their armour and life.
Almost as soon as they appeared, Tonikala from above attacked them. Their arms like swords made out of pure darkness, cut one after the other. But for each one cut, two more would take their place.
And then silence. No more music, no more songs. Only fighting and that's what chilled the party to the bones. Penumbra was too far away to see what was happening but in their heart they knew.
With a loud shout, Custosa turned around towards where Dahm was and…there was nothing there. Just zombies and what seemed to be Dahm on the floor, zombies piling on top of him.
George made his way towards Dahm, throwing combos after combos of punches left and right, punishing each and every enemy that stood between him and Dahm. Eventually he reached the place where Dahm stood but it was too late. His body was torn apart, teeth laying on the floor in the mud.
At the same time, Penumbra activated their incorporeal state and waves through their enemies. The few seconds the ability gave them was more than enough. Using [Blink] skill, they teleported high up into the air. Their arms and half of their body uniting to transform into a massive blade meant to cut right through the Mind Pod deep into its heart.
One moment there was a blade falling down and a Mind Pod and then, there was only the Mind Pod. But right in that moment when the blade entered the Mind Pod, all the zombies stopped and then a mighty explosion from inside the Mind Pod was triggered shooting plant matter in all directions. Almost immediately the zombies dropped on the ground lost was the mind behind their actions, lost was the driving will.
A cheer went up between the party, a ragged and sorrowful one but a cheer nonetheless. That is, until Penumbra approached Custosa and George who were both covered in blood. Custosa’s missing eye was no longer covered in the bandage but something was there. Inside. Something…like a seed. Debris from the Mind Pod they thought. Nothing that some water couldn’t find they thought.
They. Were. Wrong.
But that is a story for later because right after their victory, they were summoned by Ashevelen herself in the Bazaar. Their quest seemed to have ended, for now. At least for everyone but Penumbra which was given a different task.
Class - Champion Level - 8 Abilities -
[Inspire] ability which inspires the user’s allies to fight until their last breath, to forgo fear or tiredness.
[Shadow Javelin] ability which enhances the user's shadow manipulation to allow them to take out a spear made out of shadow and throw it at their enemies.
[One with the shadows] ability which allows the user to hide inside a shadow becoming invisible to sight and odourless to smell
[Passive - Low Resistance to Mental Attacks] a passive ability which makes the user a bit more resistant to mental attacks
[Blink+] ability which enhances user's already existent ability to teleport allowing him to take one person with them at the loss of distance
[Strengthen Shadow] ability which allows the user to make their shadowy form impervious to attacks for 3 seconds.
[Ashevelen’s Chosen] special ability available only to Penumbra which makes them become one of the shadow of the area, enabling them to launch a series of attacks at an incredible speed.
[Shadow Javelin+] upgrade of existing ability which allows the user to throw up to 3 javelins before the ability end
[T.O.F.A. (Trade one for another)] ability which swaps the location of two items between each other. One which the user must hold in their hand and the other one that the user can see.
Class - Protector Level - 9 Abilities -
[Enhance Reflexes] ability which enhances the reflexes of the user to allow them to make moves at unnatural speeds to dodge attacks for a few seconds
[Increase Defence] ability which increases the natural defence of the user against physical attacks
[Taunt] ability which allows the user to shout at nearby foes to attract their attention
[Passive Ability - Enhanced Hearing] ability which is unlocked after a user loses one eye, allowing them to focus on their hearing more.
[Passive Ability - Poison Resistance] ability which makes the user highly resistant to most types of poisons or venoms
[Full Counter] ability which counters a physical attack with double the power back at the attacker, can only be used once a day
[Magical Full Counter] ability which counters non-physical attacks and throws them back at the caster
[Defend] ability which links the user to a person they’re close to. If said person is hurt, the damage is mitigated to the user.
[Bulwark] ability which temporarily, up to 5 seconds, increases the size and strength of the user by 60%.
Class - Bard Level - 8 Abilities -
[Song of Confusion] ability which makes the user sing a song of confusion, making anyone who can hear the song (as long as they’ve got the ability to hear) see shapes at the edge of their vision, hear howls etc
[Song of ignoring Pain] ability which makes the user sing a song full of adrenaline and mighty deeds which in turn makes allies who can hear it, ignore whatever they may have until the song ends
[Goddess’s Song] ability in which the user sing a song which calls upon the power shadowy powers of Ashevelen to cover a small area in them
[Song of Charm] ability which makes the user sing a song of love which makes the target believe the singer to be their best friend for a few minutes
[Passive Ability - High Resistance to mental attacks] a passive ability which makes the user highly resistant to mental attacks
[Song of Pain]ability which makes the user sing a song of pain that gives mental damage to three targets which the user wants
[Detect] ability which makes the user sing a sub-vocal song which can detect the presence of other lifeforms in a radius of 5 metres around the user.
[Cry me a river] ability which makes the user sing a song of sorrow making a single target be overcome with feelings of great sadness.
Class - Strongman Level - 6 Abilities -
[One Normal Punch] ability which makes the user throw a super strong punch at a foe. Strong enough to bend metal.
[Three Normal Punches] ability which makes the user throw three super strong punches at a foe which are strong enough to bend metal.
[Boxer’s Reflexes] ability which makes the user dodge incoming attacks at high speed for 10 seconds
[Lion’s Strength] ability which enhances the user’s already impressive physique, allowing him to perform one single feat of immense strength.
[Normal Punch Barrage] ability which allows the user to throw 10 super strong punches at high speed. This ability can only be used once per day
[Clap] ability which makes the user clap their hands with a very strong strength which makes a very loud sound meant to stun foes
[Jump] ability which makes the user jump high in the air
The Penumbra group finally defeats the Mind Pod. Dahm dies heroically in the battle and Custosa seems to have caught a seed. Their pyrrhic victory was short-lived as Ashevelen summoned them all to the Bazaar.
Starting Spirit: 21
+1 Spirit - Appeared in the post +1 Spirit - Longer than 5k characters +1 Spirit - Creator doesn’t appear in the post +4 Spirit - Completed the Side Quest - Mind Pod
Oa’qeisskesi marched through the blood myre, looking around constantly in the strange environment. Her face seemed to show barely any emotion, while within, she was rather curious. It was the first truly different environment she had come across since leaving the Umbral woods and even then, the area had some similarity. “What… an interesting place.” she mumbled, stopping to see strange animals running past.
Standing still now, the black sun within her said, “... This place doesn't scream habitable for sapient life.” Oa gave a nod, moving forward in the myre. The terrain would be difficult for a person to traverse but not for a deity, especially Oa, who seemed interested in the distant mountain range as she got closer towards it in the thick haze no mortal would have been able to see through. Stopping again for a moment she sighed.
“Our birth place is close…” She said, feeling a bit nostalgic even if for her, it wasn't that long.
The sun replied. “Yes it is… just walk north of the mountains.” The sudden sound of cracking, like stones being broken, could be heard and the sun soon said. “The ground is about to give into the cave system below, isn't it?”
“Yes.” Oa said not sounding very excited or even emotional.
“... And you wanna check what’s below?” The sun asked.
Oa immediately replied. “Yeah, pretty much.”
“Ah great…” he replied as the soil and blood began to swirl at their feet, with a sucking sound. Then the land around them gave way and they fell into the dark. Oa slide through the tunnel, carried by a mix of bloody mud. Moving through the cave, her posture remained the same and upon passing close to a wall she struck it with a mighty punch, making it crack. For a split second she could feel the entire cave system via the vibrations. As the map formed in her head like lightning, she soon realized something before the energy dissipated- A big opening lay not so far ahead.
Fixing her eyes, she quickly adjusted as time continued moving and she slid, breaking through a small opening. As she moved, she looked down at a small stream of blood from the surface, which seemed to drag her. She shrugged, if it worked for her it was good. As the area got closer she slid off the edge of the cave, looking around as she stood in the air for a second. It was quite a big opening leading down to something below, and that something looked like a castle. Standing tall and imperious, bathed in white like ivory and surrounded by a sea of dark crimson.
“Oh… so that was what my senses were telling me.” She said to herself, beginning to fall quite quickly into the structure below.
She landed with a triumphant crash upon the cobbled stone of white, shattering it like lightning and leaving a small crater. No sooner had she left the crater, a white liquid seeped forth at the bottom, filled it up the brim and all of the jagged cracks, before hardening into stone. It was as if she hadn’t damaged it at all. A stillness hung all around in that twilight place where shadows coalesced. The only light came by pale lanterns suspended from arches and light poles that lined the path towards the tall keep before her.
Oa moved forward on that path, seemingly unphased at the strange situation. She gave only a light nod to her surroundings, while her eyes kept a lookout for anything out of the ordinary or unusual. Lining the path, set between the arches and light poles was a myriad of pale bushes, carrying upon them white roses in full bloom. There was a light scent, an aroma of rich iron- blood that permeated the area. It hung in the air, much like in the Myre up above. Pale trees and obscured windows began to line the street until the great doors of the castle loomed above.
Upon entering, Oa was met with a grand statue off to her right. It depicted a female figure, beautiful and eternal, sheets of fabric interwoven around her torso, fluttering in some unseen breeze behind her. One of her arms was outstretched towards the front of the room where another door lay, her other clutched at her chest. Beneath the woman, making up the pedestal, there lay a slain beast. A dragon. Its head contorted at an odd angle, indicating it had been brutally snapped.
Off to her left another statue was carved, this one depicting the same woman, wearing a regal looking dress and a crown upon her head. She held one hand at her side and the other also pointed towards the front of the room. The base of this statue depicted strewn bodies, all covered in fur with primal faces. The face on the statue was indifferent but the carnage underneath contrasted such an image.
At the front of the room the door beckoned and through it lay a small throne room. Sitting upon a throne of Ivory, illuminated by pale lights hovering in the air, sat the same woman. She was covered in small pale moths and would have appeared motionless if not for their small wings flapping. As Oa entered the moths took flight in silent chorus, disappearing in all directions. The woman wore a simple dress, hands folded in her lap as a red ribbon covered her eyes.
"I know of you," she began in a quiet voice, "Why have you come here, to this place?" She asked with an air of coolness.
Standing still Oa kept her usual emotionless stare without much of a face twitch but in body movement she seemed ready for anything that might come, she then said “Ai naho hasa’cousa isu yhe ras… Esnotaro tisasi isa acesisseielarah."
The woman frowned. "Are your words meant for me or for yourself? I don't understand such a tongue."
Oa seemed to groan, her eyes closed, the groan turning into a sigh. She then said, “‘Twas fur ye. Bit it seems lik’ few blether mag laid.”
“I can’t imagine anyone would want to converse in such a malignant tongue.” She said absentmindedly, her posture never wavering. “I ask again, why have you deigned to come here? Patron of the Dark Spring.”
Oa felt a bit offended by her claim before saying, “What a good way to talk with guests… Well I fell down here, didn't know you were even here, I was just passing by.”
“Guests are invited.” The woman corrected, “But this chance meeting might be of some use yet. I am Wyn. I know of you and what you have corrupted with your touch but not your name. What is it?”
Oa kept an eye on her, curiosity on her lowering her defensive stance. She then said, “First… how do you even know about me?” she crossed her arms.
“I have eyes and ears everywhere.” She simply put. “And I think I am able to connect the dots. A God destroyed the northwest and most recently, a God went on a rampage in the east. You fit the description.”
Oa gave a nod before saying, “Makes sense…” Oa thought. Looking to the side thinking of the situation, whispers could be heard in the room fading as quickly. She then said, “Oa’qeisskesi is what they call me. Wyn.”
“Oa’qeisskesi.” She repeated, mulling the word over. “You remind me of a God I once knew of. It knew only its own desires, wishing to spread poison and corruption, caring little for anything else but its own wills. In the end, such a God could not be allowed to exist in that budding world. What purpose did any have for one who only sought to spread cancer across the realm? So, it was destroyed. Murdered. Forgotten by all, save a few.” She paused, a small smile spreading across her lips. “I do wonder how your story will end. Cause enough wanton destruction and they will come for you. Or she will. Make no mistake about that, dear Oa’qeisskesi. It would be such a shame.” She shook her head slightly.
Oa kept staring, her red eyes seemed to fluctuate a little as she fixed her vision. She then said,“Thank you for the warning...” Standing for a moment of silence she then said, “I guess the thing that separates me from the god you talk about is that I do not take pleasure in what I do.”
This seemed to pique Wyn’s interest. With a raised eyebrow she asked, “Is that so? Then why do it? Is it a sense of duty that compels you? Or madness, perhaps?”
Turning her head, Oa looked to the side like she was in deep thought. While the vision of a god could not be escaped, for Oa it was a bit different. For her power let her notice the eyes in her shadow within the darkness and the sun. Watching the situation, standing beside her with a light nod and a sigh, she then said, “How far would you go to help those you love?”
“Ah love… There are many kinds of love. Intimate. Obsessive. Selfless. Selfish. Passionate. Lustful. So on and so forth.” Wyn mused. “As for your question; I have only ever loved one being and I would do anything in my power to protect their interests. Even if it meant they would hate me.” Her voice held a note of bitterness, before she tilted her head at Oa. “You understand, don’t you?”
Oa just kept her usual stare that seemed rather blank and even emotionless for a person seeing her. She then gave a light nod after a second of silence.
“I thought so.” Wyn gave a rare smile and rose from her throne. “You and I are alike, in more ways than one. It may not look like it from such superficial appearances.” She began to walk down the steps. “You love. You care. You don’t take pleasure in what happens when you lose control. You have secrets. We all do, no shame in it.” Wyn came to a stop just out of arm's reach from the Abyssal Goddess, not that that mattered. “Oa, I can call you Oa, right? Tell me…” her voice dropped to a sweet whisper, “What is it you truly desire?”
Oa looked down on Wyn, crossing her arms. She then said, “That is a bit private… and…” her eyes flashed to the side and to the other side of the room. The light seemed to dim for a moment before she said, “Without wanting to sound offensive but… You seem a bit shady at the moment.”
There was a moment of stillness in that room. It subsumed everything else, as the two Goddesses faced one another with impassive stares, like mirrors in the dark. Then Wyn’s lips parted to reveal a toothy smile. Then a change occurred behind Wyn, her ivory throne began to darken, the white consumed by black. “Do I seem shady to you?” Wyn said with a laugh. Nothing about her voice was the same, the arrogance, the imperious tone, the regality- Was all gone, replaced with a sinister undertone and flushed with mocking emotion. “It is offensive! It is rude! You should be ashamed of yourself!” Another laugh escaped her and her hands rested on her hips. “Such a foolish little goddess. Tell you what! I am merciful. I’ll forgive you if you get on your knees and prostrate before me.”
Oa kept her usual stare until her usual emotionless stare with barely any movement ended with an eyebrow raised as she said, “Huh…” Her eyes moved quickly up to see something and down, as she eyed the throne. She then said, “That is interesting…” She stroked her chin before returning to her normal stance, taking a deep breath. She then said, “So… This is how you act in the face of a doubt, deity of blood.” Oa started moving around her circling like a shark in the water smelling blood and she continued talking, “Isolated and shadowed in an empty throne. Alone in the dark, makes me wonder.”
Wyn never never followed her movement, instead just staring ahead. “Whatever is to be doubted?” She asked. “My better selves like to keep me locked out. I can’t control me, you see. They are smart, unlike you. You… A true monster in the eyes of all. I doubt you truly even know what love is.” She snickered. “How could you? You are disgusting, an abomination in this world.” She could hardly contain her laughter after this, covering her mouth with a hand. “Sorry, sorry, I’m channeling too much of Ivory. She’s always so pretentious. A real stick in the mud.” She grew quiet at once, a low growl escaping her mouth. “Why do you circle me, Oa? Don’t you have any idea how enticing that is…?”
Stopping Oa after hearing her standing behind Wyn Oa then said after a moment of silence “Well I guess this is the first time I’ve met a god with multi personality disorder.”
Wyn turned to her, expression full of exuberance. “I wouldn’t call it that. I am me, Wyn but I am also Ebony. There are no different memories here, no grandiose forgetfulness. I remember everything I do, even when I’m not here. It makes it all the better when I know how much I despise myself because of these dreadful mood swings.” She stifled a giggle. “Usually I am not this chatty. Usually something else comes out when I do. But not this time, no, you see… This is the first time I’ve gotten to talk to a fellow divine. One as monstrous as me. But that’s not really true now that I’ve heard you. You don’t sound like a monster. Which is quite unfortunate. To not take pleasure in it, the thrill of a hunt as prey is ripped open and defiled, oh… How tragic.” She fawned.
Oa sighed, crossing her arms in a pensive stance, saying “You are the second god I’ve ever met since I came into this world and now this…” She kept thinking about being called a monster as she opened her eyes, staring. She then said, “So you take pleasure in that… Hmmm… You and they would get along easily, albeit I do disagree with their means.” The illumination of the room seemed to dim before returning to normal, Oa seemed to lightly groan at it.
“You are hiding something.” Wyn accused. “Who is it you speak of, this ‘they’? Why do you keep glancing across the room? Why do you groan as if hurt?” She asked in quick succession before laughing, “Amazing what one can view when everything is made of blood. The walls, the floors, the ceiling, the pillars… So on and so forth. What a gift it is to be blind. All those little sighs of yours, the way you cross your arms. You’re no fun but I suppose this is what can be expected from a God, can it not? Such hardy prey.” She licked her lips.
“You would not want to know and even if you insist I don't think I will tell you.” She said, glancing at her own shadow before glancing forward. Wyn, following her look, soon seemed to notice a thousand eyes staring at her from Oa’s shadow but with a blink they seemed to not be there anymore.
Wyn sighed with a pout, “Must you be so difficult?” Another growl escaped her throat, deep and guttural. “This conversation is boring and you are quite dull, no offense.” She mocked with a large smile. “If you can’t give me good conversation, then what can you give me?” She asked.
“I am not much of a merchant like Ash and her shadows… So I guess unless you want a favor from me or something destroyed just ask.” Oa said, beginning to inspect her hand. It seemed rather strange until she pierced her hand with her thumbnail and a pool of black tar began to flow off her hand, onto the floor. It wasn't blood for Wyn, rather it seemed like something else. Oa seemed to turn her face to her still with the same expression and said “Don't bother I am fine…”
This visibly seemed to upset Wyn and she began to shake. “How dare you…” She muttered, “How dare you mention that bitch’s name in my presence and to have the audacity to let your corruption leak and degrade my sacred hall… How dare you!” She snarled. Almost instantly the floor where the tar spilled gave way to a dark nothingness, threatening to swallow Oa up in it.
Oa looked below, still rather in an unimpressed mood. She then said, “I might not look worried… but you are worrying me… you have a lot of temper tantrums you know.” Oa continued as the oily substance continued to leak from her hand.
Wyn stared at her with an enraged expression that quickly became a smile. She stood still and said nothing else. The hole expanded abruptly and then filled with a dark crimson liquid underneath Oa. Thousands of bloody hands erupted from the crimson, going for the Abyssal god.
As the hands approached Oa sighed, saying, “Note to self, watch out for the solitary blood goddess… Well I’ll see you around.” As the hands approached, Oa said with a sigh, “Well take me away boys.” The lights in the room seemed to extinguish as darkness engulfed the area completely. Soon rekindled, back into light, Wyn noticed Oa was gone and the pond beneath where she stood, even if it was just a stain, quickly evaporated into nothing.
Being dragged through the dark water Oa emerged in a pond she casted in the plains before entering the Bloodmire, emerging with tar covering her; She shook her body free of it, leaving her body to fall on the ground and into the pool she sighed saying. “Well… I guess I will check back on her, when she is more calm.” cleaning herself.
Oa travels about and goes into the Bloodmire where she falls down a hole and then ends up sliding down in the realm of Wyn. She journeys up the castle grounds until she reaches the throne room where Wyn sits, covered in moths. As they fly away they have a conversation and Wyn ends up having a mood swing, where things get a little dicey but it ends with the two Goddesses, thoroughly apart from one another. No violence was shed.
“What do you mean you are leaving?” Fernguard demanded to know, the [Warden] of the Darkwoods having been interrupted during a briefing about rumors of mysterious castles popping up on the plains beyond their forest home by her god so he could deliver this news.
“Well, not leaving, but, I mean, come on. I am a god of adventure! You can’t exactly expect me to just, you know, sit around here all day every day. I need to get out there every now and then! Find new people, new places. Go to the moon! You know. All that jazz” the god, who had draped himself over her desk the moment he came in, explained.
“Well yes but … wait what is jazz?”
“Oh you poor poor uncultured elf you” the god said as he shook his head solemnly
The elf in question frowned at him and then a touch exasperatedly asked “So are you gonna tell me what it is or not?”
“Not till someone invents it and names it wrong.”
Ferngaurd sighed and then tried to get back on topic “I, ok, look, let’s go back a step. You are leaving. This is bad. I mean, your already out a lot and this is gonna be worse”
“Awww you want me around that much?”
“What? No! I mean yes… look, if there are things like that big musical tentacle friend, but, you know, hostile, then we need you around. Because what am I going to do about that? I have a handful of [guardians] and mid twenties level [adventurers] and they can’t take Sanctuary sized monsters!”
“Not to worry I’ve got you covered” Jeon said, before rolling off her desk and beckoning her to follow. The god tossed open her door once they reached it, stepped out and cried out “behold!” as he dramatically pointed towards… nothing
“What.. am I meant to be looking at?” Ferngaurd asked after she stepped out
“What. huh. Where did he go?” Jeon asked the empty air, palm raised over his eyebrows as he scanned around the city, only to find his eyes on Stagstep, the [Ranger], first [guardian] and Ferngaurd’s closest companion.
“You wondering where that big leggy snake went?” he asked, and when he got the obvious answer of “yes!” from Jeon, the elf pointed off to the south and informed him that “it went that way as soon as you entered the building to go talk to Fernie…. I mean Ferngaurd” which caused an exasperated god to toss up his arms and yell out “what the fuck” in the direction his surprise had vanished off in.
Grasping claws and a serpentine body traveled through the forest at breakneck speed, yet at the same time the writhing body was agility sliding between trunks without even grazing a twig, it’s claws touched ever so lightly on the ground that ner a flower was disturbed and its great branch like antlers left the canopy entirely undisturbed. Keen senses, from sapphire eyes peering out from between green scales, catfish like whispers and its long keen snout, all of which bade the lung dragon run forth.
Well, you only had to ask, as the Shadow Guardian did when the dragon approached the Umbral woods. Then answer? It came in a deep and kindly from the creature’s lips, its, his,mossy beard shaking softly as he spoke “The cries of the small”
Rain was falling in the Umbral woods, water streaking down from the heavens and lashing the leafless trees of its frightening night time visage. There were, however, some leaves still around. Those that fell, lingered, and someone had used them to make a camouflage covering for their home up in the branches of one of the trees, a disguise that worked very well in the day, and moderately well in the night despite sticking out like a sore thumb to anything with a lick of self awareness.
Tragedy, however, had struck, as the particularly hard rain storm had weakened the protective walls of the home, and then sent a section of it crashing down when a horrible monster had stomped across its roof.
Surrounded by the debris the monster observed the horrified homeowners into whom’s abode it had fallen with its cold uncaring eyes, its twin lenses black as the abysses. Then it raised up a pair of wicked crushing claws and started slowly stalking forwards on far too many barb covered legs.
The poor frightened woman scattered away from the beast in a panic. All but one, who instead charged it with a crude rock on a stick that no one in their right minds would be found wielding these days. But it was all she had
“Die monster!” she shrieked in just the highest pitch voice, only to be outdone a heartbeat later by an even higher pitched cry of “Cherry, nooooo!”
Cherry, headless of the cry, made a flying leap over the monster’s wicked claws and swung her primitive club with all her might right between the eyes, only for the rock to bounce harmlessly off of its thick sunset hued armor. Adrenaline fueled daring quickly turned into panic as the offending arm was grabbed by two smaller ye equally as horrible claws set right next to its maw. It squeezed her arm tight, causing her to drop her weapon.
“I’m coming!” called the one who had shouted her name cried, but as Cherry watched as the inevitable occurred, and her struggling arm was drawn into the monster’s maw she took her last moments to call “No! Go! Save babies and treasure! Run away!”
And then there was only pain as the horrible beast crunched through her arm with its horrid jaws, leaving the poor brave soul collapsed on the ground, her arm a bloody stump, too shocked by the pain to move or do anything but cry, her tears mixing with the rain pouring through the hole in their home.
Then, all of a sudden, the rain stopped as a great green mass suddenly blotted out the sky, and, after a moment of confusion from all within the home, a savior appeared: a great green claw descended, grasping the monster and pulling it up and away. A moment passed, and Cherry’s tears turned to ones of sorrow to ones of joy as her tribe hurried to her side to pull her out of the rain.
Outside, curled around the tree, was the mighty lung dragon who had come all the way from sanctuary to respond to the first cries of panic, now held their cause in its claws:
A humble orange crab.
Not a giant crab, or even a pretty big crab like a Asu’epit. No it was just a regular ol crab. Well, yes, it could fly due to being a Tonnokala, and it did so when the dragon flicked it away into the rain, but that was all that was special about it.
Of course, when you were the size of a tennis ball, even a regular ol crab was deadly dangerous. As were about 90% of the other things in the woods which meant that the coin fairies, because that was what these poor wet folks were, had it pretty rough going.
Not that you’d be able to tell most of the time. When things weren't awful, such as when a big person came around, they were bubbly and cheery as could be, happily chitter chattering away as they tried to get you to trade a spoonful of jam for a shiny beetle shell.
Right now however, their home was waterlogged and there was a big green thing outside which, despite it saving them, was still making them very nervous. It made them even more nervous when a great sapphire eye suddenly filled the hole in their home as the lung dragon peered in.
Then the fear dissipated as there came a deep warm voice, “Do not fear, small ones, I am Monpou, friend of the small”
“A friend?” one of the fairies asked
“A person? Not a monster?” another deduced
“A customer!” a third cried out in realization, a cry that was picked up by several of the others who rushed off to the back of their nest in an excited flurry.
“Girls, is this really the time!” another, the one who had been so worried about Cherry and was presently holding the bleeding out fairy in her arms, yelled after them, but the fairy in question just patted her with her intact arm and said in a strained and pained tone “let them have some excitement Bon-Bon, don’t let me bring down the mood”
“Do not worry, little one, let ol Monpou clean you up” Monpou interceded, before the sapphire eye peeking in briefly flashed a brilliant emerald green, and in a moment Cherry’s bleeding mangled stump became simply a stump of smooth flesh instead.
“Ah! Oh? Ohhh. Oh my goddess” Cherry marveled as the pain vanished and her wits returned to her. She started at the closed wound for a moment, and then up at the colossal eye and suddenly looked very embarrassed “Oh. Oh my gosh I am so sorry Mr Monpou! You’ve saved my life twice and I haven't thanked you, or even introduced myself! I’m Cherry, Cherry on Top, and I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you for this” the little fairy rambled off, before ducking her head down in thanks.
“There is nothing to repay, small one. Helping those like you is simply what I do” Monpou insisted, and before Cherry could protest she first had the air squeezed out of her by a tight hug from an incredibly relieved ugly crying Bon-Bon, and then was drowned out as the other fairies returned holding varicose tiny goods.
“Hey, hey, Mr Monpou, look at this shiny rock, don’t you wanna buy it?” the first called, holding up a tiny chunk of copper ore.
“Or this butterfly wing” another called out
“Or this sharks tooth that I found and polished up real good” asked a third
“Little ones please, I am not here to buy anything, I only came to help” the Lung dragon gently insisted
“Awww” the would be sellers all coursed, before one asked “Wait, does that mean you're leaving?” and then quickie realized “oh no, but what about the hole in our nest? If you move, more stuff can get in to attack us!”
“Even if it doesn’t the rain will” Bon-Bon said through sobs, before hugging Cherry even tighter and making the other fairy wheeze “and it will ruin everything even more”
Indeed, the water had done quite a number on their crude construction, and bits of it were gradually falling away right before Monpou’s eye, and that was with him blocking out the rain. If he moved, well, there was a real risk the nest would be completely flooded and collapse.
“Can you stay? Please? We’ll pay you anything to give us the time to fix the hole” Cherry asked, having slightly freed herself from Bon-Bon’s deathgrip
“If we even can,” the fairy holding her added morosely “all the leaves are gone, or wet on the floor. And we can’t go out to get sticks”
“Till.. till it’s dry then?” Cerry tried, very hesitant to ask for even more help when so much had been given freely
The Lung Dragon wanted to, but he could hear a distance calling, ever so loud and yet terribly far away. “I’m sorry little ones, but my remaker is calling, and I should best return before his anger turns to alarm or worry” Monpou said, only to swiftly add “but. First, Let me ask you this, little ones. Are you at all attached to this location in particular”
“Huh?” “It's where our stuff is” “You mean like, the tree? No, it’s not great.” “Must be out of the way, we haven't seen any people since that Fang guy with his big scary monster” came a string of replies that added up to a no.
“Well then, little ones, would you like to come back with me?” Monpou asked “To a place far less dangerous than this”
“Back? Back where?”
“Why to Sanctuary of course”
“Sanctuary?” “oh that place with all the elves!” “with pie so good a god gave away her crown for a slice!” was the chitter chatter of responses he got. It seemed that even these out of the way folks had heard of one of the two great settlements of the area, even if only though rumors
“But isn’t it really far away? Really really far away?” Cherry asked
Monpou smiled, though they could only see it in his eye, before he told them simply that that was the case “Only for a mortal”
“I swear, that ungrateful big jerk! You give someone the power of a god and then they just… run off with it on you!”
“Wait, you did what? You can do that?” Ferngaurd removed her hands from her ears to ask, Jeon’s divine yelling at the clouds having been quite deafening. Then she thought for half a second and added “Wait, you gave someone devine power, and you were going to introduce them as help for my whole [warden] thing.. Why the heck didn’t you just give me that power? It would have made things so much easier!”
“Oh honey, because that would have been sooooo boring. Also it would have blown your mind” Jeon told her “so i gave it to someone with a bigger brain, aaaaand more experience with this whole forest guardian thing” Jeon turned to tell her, giving her a patronizing pat on the shoulder, before spinning sound and yelling “Which I expected would make them responsible and not be prone them to run off like this!” back at the forest.
Right in time for a mass of leafy green scales to burst from the canopy, as the serpentine form of Monpau soared up into the air with a mighty leap, and then landed delicately as a feather right before them in the branches of Sanctuary.
Stagstep practically leapt out of his skin in surprise, and did literally leap over his [animal companion] Doe to land behind her, the cowardly [ranger] ducking down behind the entirely nonplussed redwood deer. Ferngaurd took a half step back and reached for one of her thornblades instinctively, but Jeon seemed entirely non perturbed by this sudden arrival.
Actually he was just mad, yelling “There you are, you big jerk! You ran off and made me look bad, so you better have a good excuse” while jabbing an angry fist towards them.
“I am sorry, but I heard the cries of these little ones and had to come to their aid” the lung dragon apologized as he ducked his head low, in the process revealing the tiny figures nestled in the grassy mane running along his neck and back.
“What in the world?” Ferngaurd asked as she peered closer, and saw ting winged the figures that were wearing ratty and simple clothes reminiscent of what her kind had worn back in the day when the world was young. They carried with them very little: a few crude tools, the odd shiny thing, and a number of babes swaddled in leaves like bee grubs.
They also looked absolutely amazed, which, to be fair, wasn’t unusual for someone seeing Sanctuary for the first time, but the way their eyes lit up and sparkled with hope was both unusual and ever so adorable.
As was the way one of the piped up with “Please Mr Jeon, don’t be mad at Mr Monpau. He saved us from an awful crab that was trying to eat us, and then offered us a new home here because the rain ruined our old one” her voice the sweetest thing any of them had ever heard.
“I... huh… well...” Jeon said as his anger was smothered by cuteness “Ah, I can’t be mad when you put it like that. And it is kinda what I empowered him to do anyway so”
“But… who is this?” Ferngaurd asked, her mind tinged with familiarity muddled with nonrecognition she was finding hard to parse. There was a connection there that she could not place.
“Do you not recognise me, my dear Fern” Monpau said, as he gently tugged on that very real and magical connection, causing Ferngaurd gasp as she realized who it was that Jeon had changed: it was her druidic patron, and the patron of many of the other elves of sanctuary: the Huwu’idang who had saved Stagstep’s life.
“But, I, how! You can talk. And you're a snake… thing…”
“Lung dragon” Jeon clarified, before leaving the Avatar, because that was what Jeon had raised the titanic stag into being, and the [druidic adventurer] to their reunion/first real meeting and focusing his attention on the forest creature’s passengers.
“So, what are you little guys huh? Or girls, I guess… huh you’re all girls” he asked/noted as he stepped towards the disembarking fairies, who fluttered down to land on a set of waiting tables Fern had outside her [Warden]’s office. Cherry, however, fluttered towards the god and landed, boldly on his outstretched hand, the one armed woman ready to speak for her people.
“We’re coin fairies Mr Jeon, and we are ever so grateful to you and Mr Monpau. If you had not changed him, and he had not come, I would be crab food right now”
“Eh, you can mostly thank him” Jeon brushed off this thanks he didn't deserve, before asking “so, I take it ms shadows and trade made you,? You don’t seem to fit the vibe I've gotten from her, but she has to have been the one just based on the name, right?”
“Miss Ashevelen? Yeah, she made us, or at least that’s what people say anyway” Cherry agreed
“Hmmm, half made you more like” Jeon said as he peered close at her
“Huh?” Cherry said, confused, before trying and failing to cross her arms while declaring that “That’s very rude to say!”
“Nah, it's true. Here. watch” Jeon said, before calling Stagstep over
“Yeah hi what can I-” the [ranger] who was mostly focusing on how his boo was talking with a giant forest snake lizard several of times her size with worried trepidation, started saying when he walked over, only to go “ow, what was that for!” when Jeon jabbed him in the forehead
“Huh wait, what did you do that for?” Cherry echoed, equally flummoxed by the move
Jeon simply raised the jabbing finger and told them to “Wait for it”
The elf, who had rubbed his forehead in annoyance, suddenly stopped, as his eyes widened in revelation for a few moments … then he just looked a bit annoyed as he said “..... ok. So I know how to make real nice pots out of clay now? Great?” more than a touch dismissively
“See,”Jeon said, not letting Stagstep’s attitude get him down, before saying “now, watch this” and poking Cherry in the forehead too
“Owwww” she said at the poke, followed by “oooooooooow” as she got the worst headache
“See, she didn’t fully form your minds, so I can't stick new knowledge in there, and you can't really pick it up too fast either. You are doomed to always be 3 steps behind and…. Are you ok?” the god was explain when he realized that Cherry was swaying unsteadily on her feet
“Head … getting worse” she complained, sitting down in his hand and clutching her noggin, which caused a very worried Bon-Bon to rush to her own boo’s side for the second time today.
“Oh.oh that isn't good um. Let me just. Um. no.” the god half panicked as he realized that maybe he shouldn't have tried to shove the knowledge of pottery into a brain not fit for divine revelation
“ahhhh, nuts to it” he suddenly resolved, and poked her again, which caused every single coin fairy in the world to black out for half a second, if not then, then as soon as they were somewhere it was safe to do so. Then they woke up, and it was as if a fog had lifted, and they could finally think clearly for the first time.
In many cases, the first thing they thought after ‘wow’ was ‘hey, i could make that thing I saw/got form the big people., only smaller’
Well, except Cherry. She woke up knowing about pots. Which she found about as underwhelming as Stagstep despite how useful it actually was.
Bon Bon, who had landed, hugged Cherry, and then fainted, was still in the, ‘gosh my mind isn’t fuzzy anymore’ phase, and so it was she who asked: “what was that”
“That is what becoming a proper person feels like!” Jeon replied dramatically, before pausing for half a moment and then back peddling “actually no, a proper person sounds like its pretty offensive to anyone who isn’t that. Um. hmmm. Look we’ll workshop it but basically, congratulations, you are done. You, uh, ah you were like a mass of clay before, but now you’ve been fired and finished!”
“What?” Bon-Bon asked, not getting it, which put her in the company of all but 2 mortals in the entire world, to which one of those who did said “yeah, it's a pot joke. Not worth the migrain of divine inspiration to get, trust me.”
“Bah, just you wait. Three weeks from now you’ll all wonder how you ever did anything without ceramic bowls, you’ll see” Jeon retorted. Was pottery his most inspired gift? No. But it was something and he was getting in a bit of a mood about how no one was appreciating it.
“Yeah, sure” Stagstep replied before focusing instead on the new arrivals and saying “Hey uh, little ladies. If you come with me, I can set you up with a house?
“How much?” one asked immediately
“Ah it's free, we’ve got like, a tone to spare still” the [gaurdien] replied with a casual wave of his hand to dismiss the notion
“Wow, really, you must be rich” the asker said in awe. There came a flurry of thank yous from the fairies before they all set off with the [ranger] (several riding on the back of his [animal companion] and being amazed that that was a thing you could do) to go find their new safe and secure home.
“Three weeks and then you’ll see, you’ll all see!” Jeon yelled after them as they took the world’s collective knowledge of ceramics with them, before sighing, taking one look at where Monpau and Ferngaurd were still chatting away and went “ech, nuts to this. I’m going to go have a drink” and then wandered off to do just that while leaving the job of forest protecting in a set of good hands and claws.
Jeon informs Ferngaurd he is going to be getting out and about more, but, not to worry, he has made something to help her look after the woods while he is out and about. Except when he goes to present it, it turns out it has run off.
We cut briefly to the thing in question a lung dragon, avatar of the forests, called Monpau, running through the dark woods and to the Umbral woods, before switching again to the view of a Coin Fairy nest that is under attack by a common crab. One fairy, Cherry on top, is introduced when she attacks the crab, and gets her arm bitten off in the process. Then Monpau arrives and saves the day.
They talk for a bit, and then Monpau invites them to come live in Sanctuary, which they agree too because their house is wrecked by water and crab damage. He and the fairies then return and the fairies instantly win everyone over and quell Jeon’s anger about Monpau running off like that. It is revealed that Monpau was Ferngaurd’s Huwu’idang patron, who Jeon had ascended to Avatarhood.
While she and he talk, Jeon chats with the Coin Faries, realizes that they are kind half baked mortals, and ascends them to be 4 mp people capable of receiving divine inspiration. In this case, Cherry and Stagstep both learn all there is to know about ceramics. Neither is particularly impressed.
In the name of camaraderie and shared divine inspiration headaches, and just general kindness, Stagstep then offers to find the Fairies a home (it’s free real estate) in one of Sanctuary's many spare buildings. They accept, leaving Jeon a bit miffed about them not appreciating pottery.
3 ap (discounted with forests) to turn a Huwu’idang into an avatar. Monpau is his name, and he is a Lung Dragon (read chinese dragon, one of them long noodle bois) with green sacleas, sapphire eyes, branch antlers, a mossy beard, fun whiskers, a grassy mane going from skull tot tail tip. He is your protective grandpa. Love him.
3 mp: raise Coin Fairies to a fully sapient species capable of receiving divine wisdom
1 mp: to teach the elves and coin fairies of Sanctuary how to make pots (and other kinds of ceramics) real good. Ming vases up in here and all that.
1mp: to teach coin fairies in general how to miniaturize technology of other, larger, species effectively.
Darkwood Guardians Start: 2 In long post +2 End: 4
"Here we are," Ravdur said softly to himself as he landed in front of his black ice temple. A place that, to his knowledge, no mortal has found, and only Vjera knows of the place. She has yet to arrive with her warriors, and it gave him some time to think about things as he walked into the temple. Feeling the walls of the temple with his hands as he walked.
The aid he has given to the mortals. Has he given too much? True, the mortals have to deal with what gods create in this world. Both the good and the bad. They have to be strong to survive in this world with gods which some clearly do not care about them or the planet. The weak will die if they are not ready for what this world has in store for them.
Then again, maybe he is just favoring the Eosin with his aid. Since most of his ice golems are in the Taiga region of the world and not elsewhere. Guarding Eosin settlements mostly. Will that make the Eosin, his creation, weak? Maybe, Maybe not, that has yet to be seen, but the last thing he wants is for the Eosin to be a weak race.
After entering the temple, it was dark, but this did not bother Ravdur. He simply smiled, and at the snap of his fingers, all of the torches in the temple lit up, and the darkness instantly went away. The temple was bare, unlike what you would normally expect of a temple. It only hosting the instructions on how to find black ice, how to harvest it, and, more importantly, how to make weapons, armor, and more from it. In a language that any mortal can understand, and that got him thinking.
Yes, he did cure Vjera of the Beast Curse, and maybe just maybe, one more boon to the mortals would not hurt. Some way to counter the corruption in this world. So Ravdur using his power, creates a new kind of ice, Holy Ice. An ice that can be created and forms on the corrupted part of a living thing or object or place as it absorbs the corruption until it covers the corruption completely. Once the corruption is gone, it melts into harmless water. At the same time, claiming the aspect of purification in the process.
"Done," he said with a satisfied grin and another addition to the temple. With this done, Ravdur departed the temple and went to his realm in the Stormbreaker mountains. Hoping that this latest addition can do some good once the mortals discover it. Which would probably be Vjera and her warriors once they arrive. Until then, he will rest at his caste for a time before heading out into the world again. To see what else his fellow gods have brought to this world. Into his new home and what good and bad comes from it.
Ravdur thinks about his actions in aiding the mortals while creating a new type ice that would help to purify people and things of corruption and leaving instructions on how to make it in his black ice temple. While claiming the aspect of Purification in the process. Then heading to his castle for a time and heading out into the world again.
Spent 4 MP = Claim Purification Aspect = 3, Places information on how to make and use Holy Ice and use it for purification in the Black Ice Temple = 1. Spent 3 AP = Holy Ice - An ice that can be created and forms on the corrupted part of a living thing or object or place as it absorbs the corruption until it covers the corruption completely. Once the corruption is gone, it melts into harmless water.
And so, life went on. After their fateful meeting with the Wyn the Goddess, Lorelei and Astarte, sisters by fate, continued with their aimless adventure followed closely by their latest friend Shadobig the Iwak and shadowed very loosely by Julles the Wielder of the Bloodbow.
They left the vicinity of Heavenfall after their search for Big Smoke turned up nothing and moved on to the Stormbreaker Mountains.
“He has to be hiding in my shadow! He has to be!” Astarte repeated over and over at random points throughout an entire month, poking and biting at her own shadow, trying to scare Big into coming out, even though she knew deep down that he wasn’t there.
They delved into caves (not too deeply, only for a lack of proper lighting and definitely not for a lack of desire), they climbed mountains and hills, they visited the local Kingdoms, and even met a few other [adventurers].
All was good, until they came across the biggest obstacle of all – A bridge connecting the largest mountain in the range to the peak of the second largest mountain had collapsed, grinding their progress to a halt.
At that point, after being told it would probably take years to rebuild the bridge and that the alternate route involved going all the way around the mountain range (which would probably take them months at this point), they decided to do one thing that Lorelei had been hesitant about… They’d have to go into the Bazaar.
It had been a very exciting development for Astarte. To be able to jump into a magic shadow portal and come out the other side into a magic bazaar selling magic things and with a lively atmosphere on top of that?! Paradise!
Or so she had thought.
At that moment, Astarte was floating an inch off a bar stool, finishing up a pint of the sector’s traditional beer, Coronashe. She liked the slight taste of powdered chocolate and soot in the background of the drink’s almost overpowering fizziness and the buzz she felt in her head after having drunk most of the mug (which was almost as tall as her forearm) was an experience that she’d never had before.
Few meters behind her was Lorelei, haggling with a stall owner as if her life depended on it. Apparently, a single one of the cat girl’s many screwdrivers was worth at least ten of the vendors’ assorted tools. Something something, blah blah, Astarte didn’t really care! She’d been travelling with Lorelei for so long that she was sure she’d reached the max level at the very important skill of [selective hearing].
“I’m tellin’ you! This d-driver’s Prime-branded. It’ll outlast every single one of us!”
Really? Astarte thought and took another sip of her Coronashe.
“And I’m saying I dun care ‘bout none of that. Primes, Brands, screwdrivers, none of those matta when no one even knows what a screw be! Ye’r crazy, cat lady.”
Nice response, Astarte thought as she scavenged for the last few drops of beer at the bottom of her mug with her soggy paper straw.
Astarte ran, panting, behind Lorelei. They ducked into a dangerously-tight alleyway and climbed onto a sheet metal roof, only to climb even higher onto a neighbouring shop’s roof.
Her socks were soaked, her hair dishevelled, and her head dizzy. She had no idea what was happening. One second, she was enjoying a Coronashe and the next, the two women were being chased throughout the entire sector while shoeless and soaked. The ex-goddess licked a fresh scratch on her wrist and caught her breath.
“How many times have I told you that you gotta pay for s-stuff here, dumbass?!” Lorelei practically screamed at her, to which Astarte huffed indignantly.
“But I did pay for everything! With my presence!”
Lorelei stared at Astarte for a while, eyebrow and ears twitching, before grabbing her by the wrist and jumping into a nearby shadow. They came out the other side and crashed right into a stack of hay in a stable. It was cold, dry, and they had a dozen winged horses looking straight at them, stone faced.
“Wait… You’re not implying my presence isn’t a big payment, tip included?! I’m a Goddess, you know! Acknowledged by the likes of Gwyn, Rock Cat, and Vestec. Hmph!”
“Yeah? S-Show them your Goddess ID card next time then.” Lorelei slapped Astarte’s head and stood up in one fluid motion, then pushed past the horses and out of the stables.
“... Ow.” Astarte rubbed the sore spot and quickly chased after the catgirl, hoping to find a pair of new boots along the way. “… Aren’t we missing something?” Astarte wondered to herself as she stepped out of the stinky stables, but quickly shrugged and forgot all about that nagging feeling.
Lorelei, Astarte, and Shadobig enter the Bazaar after stumbling upon a collapsed bridge in the Stormbreaker Mountains, action taken both as a short holiday and a way to circumvent the obstacle. There, they enjoy the trading and atmosphere for a while until they get chased out after Astarte forgets that her Godly Presence isn’t enough payment for the food establishments. At that point, Lorelei and Astarte dip outta the Bazaar and end up right inside the Lonesome Masters’ Hold.
It was about time. Ashevelen was ready once more to travel the world. Once more ready to embark on what she knew best, what could go wrong? What could happen now?
Or that's what she thought when suddenly, a massive celestial object appeared in the night's sky. A moon. Different from the ever burning one which a divine believed it was fun to set alight.
Interested beyond measure about the new divine that surely created it, Ashevelen took a deep breath and accelerated her movements to a speed worthy of the transmission aspect. In mere seconds, her form blurred, took flight and appeared on one side of the moon.
Releasing a burst of divine energy to announce her presence to the deity of the moon, Ashevelen looked around with interest. There was air on the moon but was very different from the one on the world below, unsuitable for mortals and trees all over with some weird looking fruits. Interesting looking place for one looking for special materials to sell.
The burst of divine energy was answered quickly enough with a burst in return… followed by the entity that released said burst as they zoomed to the scene of a new friend like a cat when the fey mood struck.
Despite being able to move at the speed of the divine for the final stretch siix hooves pranced along the soil of their moon, occasionally launching the beautifully colored equine into the air completely and swimming along with the fins on their legs and the tendrils helping to drive them forward like a odd sea creature through the depths.
Their cloud-like and poofy mane, tail and fins were currently a delightful green and black colour that blended with their white coat perfectly, though it seemed that the black might have been fading with shades of red prepared to slip in and take their place.
With a small degree of fashionable showponyship, the entity landed before Ashevelen with a wonderful landing and a mane flick that would have looked better if it didn’t look like they were throwing a bag of limes over their shoulder but was still awesome anyway. A smile appeared on the equine's face as they greeted “Well hello there. Welcome to my domain. Your fashionable lateness is much appreciated, for it allowed me to get some final touches to the place done!”
With a smile, Ashevelen waited patiently for the divine that replied to her flare and what she saw made her chuckle in a friendly manner as the divine made their entrance, they reminded her of Myrtu. Same style and almost the same form.
“ Greetings sibling. A pleasure to meet you. Lateness? I’m never late, just getting to places just at the right time. I’m known as Ashevelen, the Lady of the Swift Trade and Shadows. ” replied Ashe while a dark-golden shower of coins made of shadows swirled around her.
“ You’ve got quite an interesting domain, if I may say so. Unsuitable for the mortals down below but interesting either way. ”
Tilting their head slightly to the side, Aethel was quick to chuckle. “Oh, we’re not siblings. I remember all the Monarch’s children and you weren’t among them. As for you not being late…” The smirk that appeared was playful in nature before they continued “You would think that the appearance of a new moon in orbit would have drawn immediate attention, but no. You’re the first to accept the invitation to visit and it took you a while.”
Playful teasing aside, one of their tendrils reached up to scratch their own chin as they introduced themself as “You can call me Aethel. My domain is that of dreams. Though from the sounds of it, you’re less here to stop by and say hello and more here to find some new resource to profit from, yes?”
“ Ah’ but that’s where you’re mistaken. We are all siblings as we are divine beings, irrelevant of who created us in the first place. Some of our siblings down there, used their willpower to ascend to divinity, others were given to them aeons ago, I out-traded a primordial being and earned my divinity. The origin is of no consequence. ” replied Ashe with a wink before continuing.
“ Anyways, apologies for not noticing your creation earlier. I have been busy with my own realm, the Shadow Bazaar. ” said Ashe while snapping her fingers making a portal beside her, if one would look through the portal, they would see the Shadow Bazaar from high above in real time. Traders pedding their goods, mortals of all shapes or colours going around and so on.
“ I am always looking for business but I did come to say hello too. I wasn’t sure to whom, tho’. We haven’t met but you do remind me of Myrtu, another one of our divine brothers. ” continued Ashe as the portal stopped showing the images of the Shadow Bazaar and showed an image of Myrtu in all of his splendour.
There was a small shrug of the shoulders in response to the claims of ‘siblinghood’. If Ashe was going to assume a relationship that wasn’t actually there, who was Aethel to discourage it? The news that she had achieved divinity via out-trading a different divine being got her a small and polite round of clapping as two of some of Aethel’s many tendrils came together in front of them.
The ‘Shadow Bazaar’ that was showcased through the portal got a proper inspection, but there didn’t seem to be any major interest on Aethel’s face at the sight of it. Myrtu on the other hoof. “...Well now. I wasn’t expecting to encounter such a beautiful stallion that I didn’t have a part in creating.” There seemed to be a spark of excitement at the prospect of meeting this entity, but with a small shake of their head they turned their attention back to their guest.
“Well… since you’ve come all this way just to meet little old me, it would be rude of me not to provide hospitality. Plus this would be a wonderful chance for us both to sample the fruits of my realm.” Turning slightly from side to side to inspect some of the nearby, if scattered fruit trees, Aethel hummed a soft ‘Eenie, Meanie, Minie… You’ before crossing the distance between themself and the chosen tree in question in less than a blink, selecting two of the pale, white skinned fruits at random (One in the shape of a more traditional apple while another seemed to be a lemon) before darting back to the spot they had been at before and offering the lemon shaped bounty to their guest.
“I admit, I have no idea what this is going to taste like. Try to enjoy the experience.”
“ I’ll make sure to let Myrtu know if I see him before you do. Stallion tho’? Have a look down below, all of his creations share his form in a way or the other. They’re quite interesting. ” replied Ashe with a wink before looking at the fruits Aethel chose. A lemon and an apple.
Ashevelen took the lemon and smelled it, then inspected it on all sides of it. After all, this could all be an elaborate trap or something that can kill divines. She’s seen the latter a few times by this point and with the existence of Oa in this world, it was dangerous to eat stuff from strangers even if said strange was another divine being.
Deciding there’s no actual danger for now, Ashevelen took a bite out of it. As soon as the fruit was in her mouth, a very bad taste got into her mouth. She was overcome by the taste of blood and murder. The taste of evil and for a second, she could swear she was killing someone with her bare arms. Before the feeling could continue, Ashevelen focused on her Transmission aspect and transferred all the information her brain would receive, such as pain, taste etc to an unknown Umbra somewhere in the Bazaar.
“ Apologies, sibling. But this thing tastes awful and very, very, weird…Interesting nonetheless. I haven’t seen something that can affect divines in a long time. What does it do to mortals? ” said Ashe.
Biting into the apple, Aethel didn’t have anywhere near as extreme a reaction as their guest did. If anything they looked mildly disappointed. Talking to themselves, they muttered “So watered down and limited in scope… oh well.” before looking back at Ashe and her question. “It shouldn’t have any adverse effect on a mortal… at least beyond personal taste. I guess I should explain.”
Gesturing towards the ‘apple’ in their grip and the ‘lemon’ in her hand, Aethel started “I call these Dreamers Fruit. The name is quite literal. Each fruit is infused with the distilled essence of a dream or nightmare that has been experienced somewhere. Of course no one would see the actual details of the original dream or nightmare because those are personal, but it does mean that each individual fruit is unique.”
A chuckle escaped them as they glanced at their own apple shaped fruit. “Of course, not all dreams or nightmares are created equal. The dream behind this fruit was rather limited and mild. But sometimes you need to be disappointed by mediocrity in order to make the true gems all the grander.”
Turning back to Ashe, the smile easily returned. “Of course, tastes are subjective. A mild dream might be ideal for someone else, while what you just tasted would be heavenly to someone else. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that you can’t tell the difference between them, yes?”
“ Dreamers Fruit and they’re infused with the dreams or nightmares of the mortals. I have noticed that, indeed. Quite a peculiar fruit you’ve created, sibling. On one side, they could be used for a number of purposes if one would be able to determine what exactly they’re getting. Food or drinks for example. On the other side, one could use these as drugs. They just need a bit rebranding for that. I might have to take a few and see what I can do with them. ” replied Ashe with a grin before playfully slapping her forehead, as if she remembered something very important.
“It explains your late arrival, there were no mortals around here. No dreams, no nightmares and talking about mortals, do you need some? In exchange for some seeds to plant in the Bazaar. I’ve got lots of them or maybe some animals? ” with a snap of her fingers a Dawnborn, a Satyr, a Tarsk, a Umbra and a Sanguis Equis coin appeared between each of Ashevelen’s fingers.
Extending the hand with the coins, Ashevelen presented each of them to Aethel. “ Please, have a look. Touch each coin and they will show you the capabilities, the lifespan and everything else about them. Besides the Sanguis Equis, they’re all my creations. Highly customizable for any purpose you may have in mind. ”
A small chuckle escaped from Aethel at her offer. “Ashy, I have no interest in there being life here. Maybe in time that might change, but for now the silence my domain offers is pleasant to me. Somewhere to fall back and rest between trips down to the world below.” They actually paused for a moment before asking “Is it still called Galbar?”
Showing a small habit of focusing on a number of different subjects at once, they quickly rounded back to the deal in the making. “Now, I am very protective of my trees. I don’t want just anyone having access to them after all. I mean I created them on a moon without any animals and an atmosphere that mortals can’t breathe. However, I could bring myself to part with some seeds. In exchange for a favour to be called in sometime in the future.”
One of Aethel’s front hooves was offered in a manner of shaking hands. “In exchange for a service or object I deem of equal value, I will happily provide you with enough seeds that you could grow a small orchard of Dreamers Fruit Trees to do with as you wish. Are these terms acceptable to you?”
“ I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t call me like that, sibling. But fair enough, I understand the need for silence at times. Seeds for a favour. Hmm. I prefer not to owe favours to other divines but I could offer you one of two great artefacts that I’ve purchased in my travels, if you wish. One, a sword. More beautiful than any other and as sharp as one can make it or a cloak that will make you invisible to anything, even other divines. Surely either could be useful. ” replied Ashe with a charming smile, her annoyance unseen on her face.
“ I’ve heard multiple names for the world below. Galbar is one of them. ” quickly added Ashe.
Nodding in thanks at the name situation being cleared up, Aethel was quick to answer “I will not call you that again then Ashevelen.That cloak sounds wonderful though. May I see it?”
Ashevelen put a hand inside her robe and pulled out…nothing or so it seemed. In her hand there was a cloak but it was virtually invisible to anyone but herself, as the owner. “ Might be hard to see but if you grab it from me, it’ll appear to you. Quite an ingenious design, if I say so myself. ” said Ashe as she handed the robe over to Aethel.
What she didn’t mention to Aethel, nor could she find out, is that soon after receiving the cape, Ashevelen imbued a bit of her own power in the cape, allowing it to use the shadows to teleport and of course, for Ashevelen to feel its presence wherever it was in the world.
There was a brief moment of silence… before Aethel inspected the cloak in question with a small, delightful chuckle to escape them. “Very interesting… I believe I could make a great deal of use from this.” Turning back to Ashevelen, one of their tendrils gestured… and a small basket of pure white seeds that were a third the size of the coins she had originally offered appeared beside them.
The hoof was offered again. “I believe we have a deal, Ashevelen.”
Ashevelen took the hoof and shook it slightly before releasing her hold over the cape.
“ Another pleased customer, always a delight. 60 seeds should be more than enough in exchange for an artefact of this magnitude. ” replied Ashe with a charming smile.
Aethel tilted their head slightly as they accepted the cape… and with a tendril handed over the bucket. “I don’t know where you got that number from. You agreed to the bucket and that’s what you’re getting.”
“ I’d argue that you’ve said a small orchard and not a bucket but fine, I’ll let it go this once. ” replied Ashe with a sly grin before snapping her fingers to transport the bucket into the Shadow Bazaar where a few will be planted and accelerated to grow faster while the others would be put in storage, for experimentation.
“ Now, you sure I cannot convince you to get some mortals, right? ”
“You cannot. And are you suggesting that I wouldn’t provide a bucket big enough to contain enough seeds to start a small orchard? Yee of little faith.”
“ There are 43 of them in there. Little faith is my middle name, Aethel. Now, ta-ta. ” replied Ashe with a smile before teleporting herself away into the Bazaar.
Ashevelen travels to the newly created moon where she meets someone who looks similar to Myrtu but isn’t. The Hooven Deity of Dreams. They talk a bit and Ashevelen sells the Invisibility Cape for a bucket of Dream Fruit seeds.
Aethel MP/AP 0/0
Ashevelen Spends 1 MP (off-screen) to imbue the Invisibility Cape with the power of teleporting through shadows while also linking it to Ashevelen’s realm which allows Ashe to know its location at all times. End MP/AP 0/0
“Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.”
152) The beginning of Turn V.
161) Aethel claims their moon as their domain before decorating their new home. They also notice Ia’Akhul's new rock/moon and make a mental note to visit at some point. The side of the Dreamer's Moon facing the planet is left alone so as not to interfere with the light show, while the dark side of the moon is turned into a relaxing dreamscape filled with a vast variety of plants, water sources and mountains, lit by a combination of the soft glow of many different glow in the dark plants and occasionally the moon itself. They also create the Dreamers Fruit and scatter the trees all over the dark side of the Dreamers Moon.
162) Oge’Ivu visits the wood elves of Sanctuary, some mountain humans and chimera watch her approach from their peak, at first there is hesitation and apprehension, but Fernguard makes a nice first contact. They try speaking but Oge’Ivu doesn’t understand that at all. Oge’Ivu ends up singing a full concert to the population of Sanctuary much to their surprise. After the concert Oge’Ivu flies around the tree a few times, gets a pie, and leaves as the elves go back to their lives or hold their own performances back at her. Jeon finally returns to ask what happened while he was away after everything is done and gone.
163) Resin and Shadow arrived at the Shadow Bazaar and after being told numerous times by Shadow not to steal from the bazaar, Resin ignored the advice and stole some food. Applepie, Ashevelen’s elven disguise, bumps into the thief and after charming him, brings him over to a fountain that kept saying the message “NO THIEVING”. Figuring out his dumb mistake, he tries to teleport away only for Ashevelen to teleport him all over the bazaar in manner of seconds. Ashevelen cuts one of his arms off and transforms Shadow into the missing arm. Permanently binding the two.
164) Desire is surfing onwards, and she reaches the edge of the Umbral Woods where she encounters the Shadow Guardian. She receives directions towards the nearby Ashevelen and introduces herself. The two deities travel to the Shadow Bazaar, where its wonders are shown, and then Desire and Ashevelen trade with each other: Desire blesses a few satyrs with her power, while Ashevelen enhances Sunset Orange.
165) Lorelei and Astarte are making their way towards a meeting place with Wyn after waking up thanks to Julles’ magicursed treatment of their wounds. In a hall-like room they meet the goddess and introduce themselves to her, they exchange some information, Wyn allows Julles to keep the BLOODBOW (called Crimson Arc by him) and eventually Wyn heals the girls’ permanent injuries and beautifies them in the process. Some minor stuff happens,and finally Wyn tells the pair about the Shadow Bazaar.
166) The Penumbra group finally defeats the Mind Pod. Dahm dies heroically in the battle and Custosa seems to have caught a seed. Their pyrrhic victory was short-lived as Ashevelen summoned them all to the Bazaar.
167) Oa travels about and goes into the Bloodmire where she falls down a hole and then ends up sliding down in the realm of Wyn. She journeys up the castle grounds until she reaches the throne room where Wyn sits, covered in moths. As they fly away they have a conversation and Wyn ends up having a mood swing, where things get a little dicey but it ends with the two Goddesses, thoroughly apart from one another. No violence was shed.
168) Jeon informs Ferngaurd he is going to be getting out and about more, but, not to worry, he has made something to help her look after the woods while he is out and about. Except when he goes to present it, it turns out it has run off. We cut briefly to the thing in question a lung dragon, avatar of the forests, called Monpau, running through the dark woods and to the Umbral woods, before switching again to the view of a Coin Fairy nest that is under attack by a common crab. One fairy, Cherry on top, is introduced when she attacks the crab, and gets her arm bitten off in the process. Then Monpau arrives and saves the day. They talk for a bit, and then Monpau invites them to come live in Sanctuary, which they agree too because their house is wrecked by water and crab damage. He and the fairies then return and the fairies instantly win everyone over and quell Jeon’s anger about Monpau running off like that. It is revealed that Monpau was Ferngaurd’s Huwu’idang patron, who Jeon had ascended to Avatarhood. While she and he talk, Jeon chats with the Coin Faries, realizes that they are kind half baked mortals, and ascends them to be 4 mp people capable of receiving divine inspiration. In this case, Cherry and Stagstep both learn all there is to know about ceramics. Neither is particularly impressed. In the name of camaraderie and shared divine inspiration headaches, and just general kindness, Stagstep then offers to find the Fairies a home (it’s free real estate) in one of Sanctuary's many spare buildings. They accept, leaving Jeon a bit miffed about them not appreciating pottery.
169) Ravdur thinks about his actions in aiding the mortals while creating a new type ice that would help to purify people and things of corruption and leaving instructions on how to make it in his black ice temple. While claiming the aspect of Purification in the process. Then heading to his castle for a time and heading out into the world again.
170) Lorelei, Astarte, and Shadobig enter the Bazaar after stumbling upon a collapsed bridge in the Stormbreaker Mountains, action taken both as a short holiday and a way to circumvent the obstacle. There, they enjoy the trading and atmosphere for a while until they get chased out after Astarte forgets that her Godly Presence isn’t enough payment for the food establishments. At that point, Lorelei and Astarte dip outta the Bazaar and end up right inside the Lonesome Masters’ Hold.
171) Ashevelen travels to the newly created moon where she meets someone who looks similar to Myrtu but isn’t. The Hooven Deity of Dreams. They talk a bit and Ashevelen sells the Invisibility Cape for a bucket of Dream Fruit seeds.
All of the Divine have their Might replenished.
5/5 MP & 5/5 AP.
There is a 48-hour grace period where folks can write and post using any remaining Might from the previous turn that they still possess.
She swiftly soared upon Sunset Orange, unseen above the tenebrous forest of the north, and sensed how this domain differed from its southern sibling, where the shadows had been much more welcoming. The foliage below her seemed foreboding, and instead of the birds and beasts she had seen in prior woodland realms, the creatures she could see were all strangely adaptive marine life; crustaceans, mollusks, and fish - all of which were capable of flight.
The further she traveled, the more denizens of the dark forest became apparent, such as the animated flora that resembled a myriad of beasts, and the tall elves that worked with the moving plants while continuing to create their ever-expanding community. She wanted to go to them, and satiate her growing curiosity by interaction, but there was somewhere she must be soon, so she refrained herself from mingling with the mortals for now.
She flew higher and higher until she was surfing amongst the clouds, and that was when she witnessed an exact simulacrum of herself currently standing upon a cloud while watching her, evidently waiting for her to arrive. She readily waved and smiled as her divine doppelganger leapt into the air then alighted on the front section of Sunset Orange, now facing her with an amused expression that was to be expected.
“That went better than I thought it would…” The newcomer said softly as she began to kneel, sliding her hands along the edges and surface of the shimmer-board. The shifting symbols of the Gnosis manifested upon her skin as she casted a spell, rivulets of red ichor seeping from her palms and spreading across Sunset Orange to further suffuse it with sacred power. The shimmer-board belonged to the sorceress, allowing itself to be altered further by her. The spectator was simply a reflection of the true Desire, and yet she possessed access to that sacred power as well, to some degree.
“Mhmm, she was very friendly, and we had fun! Such delicious cuisine and warm generosity!” Conveyed through telepathy, her unspoken words were accompanied by a series of slow twirls as she expressed both her blissful relief and happily watched while her second self completed the spell.
“Chailiss was friendly and generous, but he still betrayed us; murdering Pride, ruining our home, corrupting the innocent, and abducting Fear. What if Ashevelen is just another asshole?” Desire replied, and she became suddenly rigid when her reflection kneeled beside her to embrace her in an attempt to soothe her anxiety. Their minds were then gently merged, and their thoughts traveled freely from one to the other, in a way similar to the connection that all of her sisters shared. Her reflection was aware of the risks; of how worried Desire was when she could only watch while her copy went with Ashevelen beyond her reach.
Then the threads began to unravel as the true form of her reflection was revealed, and still clinging onto the concerned goddess was a divine doll of colorful silk which the deity had woven together to act as her avatar. Desire felt as its small shape comfortably cradled itself upon her shoulder, and without hesitation she pulled it from its position into her arms to hold onto it tightly. She suddenly laughed with newfound joy as she recalled all of the delightful aspects of the Shadow Bazaar, and then she wondered what amazing experiences awaited her ahead.
Desire arose and proclaimed excitedly as Sunset Orange began to surge further upwards, gaining more and more momentum with trails of liquid light lingering in her hurried wake. “I shouldn’t be dawdling! It’s time to fly! To show everyone what I’m capable of! Time to have some fun!”
“Just remember you’re not alone, hehe.” The marionette murmured to her mischievous mistress.
Desire's Doll is surfing towards the Grand Library, when she finds Desire herself amidst the clouds, then the goddess contemplates whether Ashevelen is friendly and on her plans for the future.
Desire Spends 2 AP to empower an Artifact: Sunset Orange. (The field of invisibility that is generated around itself and its rider is now potent enough to hide from the senses of the Divine, requiring more effort in order to be revealed.)
Cherry on Top, level 6 [adventurer], level 12 [flower fairy], crept through the dark and dingy passageway hunting a deadly menace.
As she did this, she reflected on how she’d ended up here.
They’d been in Sanctuary for a while now, her, her tribe, and they’d since been joined by a few others that Monpau had picked up like stray kittens before he’d started getting proactive about improving the lives of her kind where he found them. In that time they’d learned the ups and downs of living among big people.
They scared off anything really big, and could be relied upon to help if a pike or something came along.
They produced massive amounts of food that was, for the fairies, incredibly cheap (a single loaf of elven bread, or better yet, a cake, could feed a whole tribe for a week).
You could sell to them
Some of them were very nice
Their cities attracted vermin that were at worst an indirect threat to them, but could be ever so dangerous to a fairy.
You had to worry about being squished by them on accident
It was kinda hard to find work that’d pay any good (they couldn't exactly compete in the physical labor market much), and the merchants were already well situated so competing with them was hard, especially with how little capital the generally down on their luck Coin Fairy tribes who had been invited here had had on them.
Not that they were at risk of starving or anything, Sanctuary had an acorn dole thanks to how productive its nut gardens were, but it wasn't very dignified, and a Coin fairy could not live off nut bread alone. They craved sugar. Not to mention the not quite innate but very common desire to buy and sell that also needed sating. Plus, after living on the edge for so long, the fairies wanted to buy everything they could that could improve their standard of living, both to use and to reverse engineer and miniaturize.
So what they needed most, desired most, was money. Coins. After all, what, really, was a coin fairy without their namesake?
Thus, Cherry, skulking around in this dank dungeon, fighting monsters in the dark.
At least she was better prepared this time. Much better prepared.
Her body was clad in armor made from crab carapace. In her hands, one of flesh, the other a rather beautiful arrangement of stem and cherry red flower petals Ferngaurd had personally made for her to replace her lost arm, she held a long spear with a poisoned barb at the end that she’d grown herself as part of the drudic training needed to control her replacement limb.
She’d need all of it, because her foe, oh, it was an alien beast with great pointy teeth, blood red eyes, shape sense, a scaly tail and ok look this isn't going to have the same impact a second time so i’ll cut to the chase.
She was hunting rats in a storeroom. The foreign pests had come in with a sack of grain someone bought at the bazaar and they needed rooting out, and the fairies could do it far better due to being able to squeeze into all the nooks and crannies the pests could.
Was it glamorous? No. Was it dangerous? Well, when you were inches tall and the rat had a few more on you? Yes. Though they weren't the worst thing creeping around the walls of the city.
So she was grateful when she did find one, the great big rodent snacking on a looted piece of redwood deer cheese.
Its whiskers twitched as she crept up behind it, and the fearsome beast turned its head back to look right at the fairy … and then went to make a run for it.
“Drat” Cherry cursed her lack of stealth skills, but rather than run after it she smacked her spear against the pot she’d squeezed past and made a chittering sound mimicking a ratty cry as she [taunt]ed it.
The rat, who’s honor had been sullied by her bespoke breakdown at its lack of virtues, turned to fight, though as this was no [enrage] it came in carefully, dared into battle but not foolishness.
It stalked forwards, carefully, carefully, and then looked to its left and gave a squeak of confusion. The fairy took her chance, springing forward with a [quick stab] that grazed the rat with her thorn spear. That was enough, venom sinking into its veins. It cried out in pain and lunged to retaliate, but already the toxins were dulling its movements giving the fairy the time to buzz her wings to reverse her lunge faster than any big person could, pulling her back out of reach.
It came after her still, driven mad by pain, and the fairy had to lean into all the, kinda brief, training she’d gotten to avoid becoming a statistic, using her spear to ward away its bites, smacking its head aside, trusting in her armor to ward of scratches, and then finally driving her speartip right into its eye.
If the first stab hadn’t done the trick, that certainly did. The rat squealed, stumbled back, and then fell to the ground, blood tinted green by her poison drooling from its wounds.
Cherry gave a little sigh of relief that it was over, only for it to catch in her throat as purple light suddenly filled the ruined eye, and the rat began to rise once more.
“Ooooooh goddess” she swore both as she saw this reanimation, suddenly remembering the rat squeaking to her left and glancing that way as well, just in time to spot a wall of purple goo oozing between the pots. As the fairy swiftly backed up the ooze spread out and out, beginning to fill the space, and three dark spots slipped in to examine the area, two voids like eyes and third eye that looked like a hollow nose, which joined together along with with a jagged maw below giving the impression of a grinning skull.
The slime opened that maw wide, and the undead rat gladly leapt into it, joining the bones and glowing eye’d skulls of its kin to be digested. Its devourer looked content for a moment, before it turned its eyes to the horrified fairy … and started moving towards her too.
The fairy did not even bother attempting to strike the gelatinous mass with her spear, she knew enough about these monsters to know there was nothing to stab. Instead just quipped “guess I don’t need to [taunt] you” with a voice that did nothing to mask the fear hiding behind that attempt at levity … and then turned and made a run for it, calling out “Slime!” in warning to the others also sweeping through the store room.
The necro slime looked a bit peeved that its next meal was running instead of dutifully feeding itself to it, but, well, it had ways of making that happen. While it began devouring the flesh of the freshly dead rat, it spat out the bones of two others, which picked themselves off the floor and went racing after the fairy, bones rattling as they scampered.
“Oh no no no yes!” Chery panicked as she was hounded by the animated skeletons right up until she burst out into an intersection of sorts and saw that her call had brought aid to her side, a pair of fairy [adventurers] having come to her aid. With little shrieks they launched themselves forwards, clashing with the bone constructs with thorn blades. Cherry whirled around to fight with them, but all three quickly found that their poisonous weapons were rather ineffective against the skeletal foes.
“Gosh darn it heck” she cursed as she beat the skeleton over the skull with her spear to little avail, the fairies swiftness affording them little but survival, none of the three having the strength or arms to smash the bony foes aside.
Then, suddenly to their left, a crackling sound which was the only warning before light flashed and a sound like a tiny, tiny thunderclap roared … and one of the skeletons recoiled as a miniature lighting bolt struck its skull, blasting it to bits. Cherry shook her version clear, and then glanced to the side to see a fourth fairy, a mighty [dragon tamer], and her reptilian charge … which she was carrying in her arms like a cat. The diminutive berry dragon, small even for its kind in everything except plumpness, made a happy little chirp as its trainer praised it for its annihilation of one of their foes.
With (further) numbers on their side the fairies fell upon the remaining undead, jabbing blades into holes in its skull and then pulling, ripping it from the body and tossing it on the floor to be splintered by magical breath
Yet even as they succeeded in disabling the last undead rat, its master began to ooze into the scene. The [dragon tamer] gave it a blast of lighting, but that just tickled the necro slime, and made it mad.
“Ok, time to go! I’ll draw it out! Blooped bloop get [taunt]ed slimy!” Cherry yelled at the her companions and the monster, and they collectively scattered, the slower [dragon tamer] breaking away in one direction, while the nimbler [adventurers] raced forwards, luring the slime on and on and then suddenly they burst from the maze of pots, sacks, and boxes, and into the light.
They breathed a moment of relief, only for the slime to follow them out into the open, the mass of slime taking on its true round blobby form on the open floor, and starting to roll at them, worryingly fast, a triumphant look on its face.
Even when the fairies took off into the air, slowed somewhat by their armor, it was not discouraged, the necro slime pulling acid sharpened bones out of its internally stored collection preparing to fire them at its fleeing prey. Dark magic coalesced around the bones, drew them back, and then lost them in a volley … which smacked harmlessly into a wall of porcelain as an elf the fairies had paid to lend a hand if things got dicey popped a jar over the top of the slime. Then he slid a stiff leaf that the elves use as paper under the rim of the cup, trapping the slime within like it was a spider he was going to politely toss out of his house.
“Oh nice, you got another one? What’s this one do?” the elf asked as he picked up the pot, lifted the improvised lid, and instantly regretted it when he got pinged by some rat bones for his efforts.
“Hey, hey, is that new one?” Cherry asked eagerly as she hovered over “oh and thanks for the save big guy”
“Ow…yes. New one” the elf informed her, rubbing his unharmed face
That got a cheer from the coin fairies, one to the tune of “We’re going to get so many discovery discounts!” while they linked hands and spun around in a circle through the air
That was one of the advantages of being small, you got to find new stuff the big folks overlooked, and new stuff could be handed in to the adventurer guild in return for a finder’s fee in the form of stacking discounts. Already there were pots containing all sorts of unique slimes, from forest slimes to apple slimes, crab slimes, bread slimes, and more, and each and every one was a saving to be made for the Coin Fairies.
Compared to that, the reward they were getting for their pest extermination was ever so secondary.
“Alright girls, that’s enough celebrating” Cherry said after she decided they’d indulge in cheering for long enough, the fairly re-equipping her spear and declaring that “There’s more money to be made!”
The elves of a little village in the woods peaked their head out of their [druid] grown homes at the sound of titanic hoof falls. These were not unusual in the dark woods, no not at all, for all who lived there knew of the Huwu’idang, those titanic deer of growth who rivaled the trees themselves in size, who dwelt within the forests. That said, not all had actually heard those sounds first hand, let alone seen one of those majestic beasts, for they tended to keep to themselves, and only intervened if nature was disturbed or, so the rumors went, if a child were in danger.
As such, it was a touch concerning to hear one coming towards the settlement, rather than just passing by in the distance. Their first instinct was to chatter, checking if anyone was missing or there were any other alarming things going on. There were not. Which got people a mix of concerned and curious. Had they upset the great guardians of the forest somehow? Was this a coincidence? Was there danger none of them had foreseen? These and more were all suggested as the elves chatted quietly while preparing for the worst, just in case.
They were all wrong, something that became quite clear when the Huwu’idang rolled into town carrying on its back a small compared to its own size yet quite substantial in the general number of finely crafted and beautiful painted vases, all of them lashed carefully to it via a nest of living vines.
Or, no, not vases, not all of them anyway.
As the elves peered closer they saw many of them were created into shapes other than simple jars. Some, several, looked like… homes. Homes which, as the giant deer pulled up next to the village, divulged a flurry of golden skinned beings. Coin fairies. And entire bustling towns worth of them, traveling on the back of one of the titanic protectors of the small.
And as they hovered out of their homes they pulled down little signs, throw open little shutters, and called out all sorts of things, like:
“Hi hi elves. Wanna buy some herbs? Grown by level 15 or over [herbalists]?”
“Best bread from Sanctuary, kept fresh by our [storage managers]!”
“Clay pots, plates, bowls? We got, em all and more. Never eat off a leaf again!”
“Our [plant shapers] are the best in the business, we got tiny hands to make the tiniest of changes! Get yourself a perfectly grown thorn knife today. You deserve it dontcha?”
As the trading town unleashed an entire market squares worth of sales pitches on the village, and, well, with an entrance like that, how could you possibly not buy something?
We take a look at how the coin fairies are getting along. First we see Cherry and some other fairy [adventurers] hunting rats, and collecting slimes, in a store room to raise funds for their tribe, and also see that they have started taming berry dragons. Then we see a Huwu’idang with an entire (fairy sized) town built on its back pull up to a village and engage in some trade with it.
1 ap: (offscreen) teach coin fairies to commune with the Huwu’idang
1 ap: (offscreen) teach coin fairies how to become [dragon tamers]
Adventurers’ Guild Start: 9 In long post +2 Trained up new members quickly -1 End: 10
The creation of the thousand kingdoms had brought the inevitability of conflict to her doorstep. At least, that is what Celestine would worry about had a new moon not appeared in the sky. It was clear to her now that she needed to remain idle no more. Her people would have to do without her for a time, for she needed to meet these deities in full and judge their intentions. It was obvious that constraint with their creations was something that not all of them were willing to exercise, and so perhaps it was time for Celestine to lose a bit of her own restraint as well.
After all, what was love if not boundless and infinite?
This is what Celestine assured herself as she placed the final touches upon the free standing gateway located atop the divine palace. The light cast by the Shellback Dome’s source illuminated the doorway with a silvery glow, and Celestine steeled herself for the fallout from the target that this would turn Earthwall into. But then there was a moment of hesitation, and Celestine looked down to the city below. Perhaps it would be best to first prepare the people of the city for what was to come. To this end Celestine focused upon the armories that lay dotted around the city. Within each one the weapons and armor assembled there began to glow, and soon thereafter they were all replaced with gleaming weapons and armor of hardened steel.
Fine bows, sturdy lances, strong swords, durable plate armor… All of it ready to use in defense of Earthwall. With hope they wouldn’t be needed, but with what she was about to do Celestine wanted her people to be ready for whatever would come. Nodding to herself, Celestine turned back to the unfinished gateway. It was time. Reaching forward and tracing a finger along the stone Celestine shuddered slightly as she felt a barely contained rift open beyond the doorway. This was a dangerous thing to make, and as the rift began to stabilize and adhere in full to its prison within the free-standing door, Celestine was knocked back slightly as a great pulse erupted from the gateway to travel across Galbar like a clap of thunder.
Catching herself upon the large crystal that powered the Shellback Dome, Celestine rose to her feet quickly. Inspecting the door, she was satisfied that it didn’t appear to be leaking. What she had done would one day have to be undone, but for now Celestine was able to indulge in an entirely selfish desire. Digging out the ring that she had taken from her old realm, Celestine approached the door and laid a hand upon it. Speaking confidently, Celestine stated her desire into the space beyond the door. ”I call out this prayer into the void of eternity. Release your grip upon the one that I love, and let her be returned to me! Let us be reunited within this new world, so that we may both enjoy this second chance!”
With that, Celestine pushed upon the door, throwing it open. Immediately a great vortex opened, and Celestine’s arm was pulled into the swirling nothingness. Quick to brace herself, Celestine gripped the ring in her free hand tightly. Mentally screaming as she felt the void slowly pulling her into its infinite embrace, Celestine was about to try and pull herself free when she felt something grasp her hand from the other side. A hand. It was then that she heard a murmur. A voice that she had not heard for the longest time. Celestine’s eyes went wide, and she grasped the hand back before pulling firmly. Planting a hand atop the Celestial Riftgate, Celestine growled at the void. ”She is mine. Release her!”
Slowly. Gently. Celestine began to gain ground. It was a battle of inches, until at last the resistance relented all at once, and Celestine was sent tumbling backwards as a figure flew from the Celestial Gate. When they were free, the door slammed shut. The grasping void contained once more. Instinctively, Celestine wrapped her arms around the new figure, who took a gasp into lungs that had not been required to work for a long time. Her body quivered as her senses returned to her, and after a few moments of stillness she began to laugh. It was a deep and hearty laugh before a confident and raspy voice spoke. ”Hah. I take it that you missed me."
The figure pushed the goddess over to lay atop her, a smile spreading across her face as her bright red hair tumbled across her head. Pushing herself up and rising to her feet, the figure spoke once more. ”Don’t worry. I missed you too.”
Now it was Celestine’s turn to smile, and in a flurry of motion she hopped to her feet and hugged the woman, who laughed heartily once more. Sinking to a knee, Celestine took the woman’s hand and began to speak softly. ”To say that I missed you feels almost like a lie. While I lay comatose within my realm my dreams centered around how I might reach you again. A part of me had almost given up and accepted that journeying into the void myself was the only way to reunite us. But then when I was called here I gained a bit of hope that perhaps someday I could return you to the world of the living… And now I have succeeded.”
The woman couldn’t help but smile, and that smile grew brighter as Celestine raised the ring she had carried to her finger, whispering softly as she placed it upon her hand gently. ”Boudicca of Ha-Dûna, my avatar… My love… Welcome back to my arms. May my embrace never leave you.”
Standing gently, Celestine looked over her love and smiled as she was just as she had remembered. She was taller than before, matching Celestine’s impressive ten feet tall, but outside of that she was unchanged. Just as beautiful as the day Celestine had lost her. Leading Boudicca downstairs Celestine took the time to explain what all had happened since she had parted. Then came the additional explanations as to the state of things and the plans that Celestine had. As the deity-avatar connection regrew, Boudicca found herself learning things faster and faster as information could flow more freely between the two. When all was said and done, Celestine set out to arm Boudicca properly. Just as her elves, Celestine was not going to lose her. Not if she could help it.
Focusing her divine power once more, Celestine drew from nothingness a large claymore before imbuing it with the same qualities that her own sword possessed. It was made unbreakable, unfathomably sharp, and capable of harming even divine beings with ease. A scabbard was made to contain it, and it was gifted to Boudicca. But this would not be all. Dipping into her divine power once more, Celestine fashioned Boudicca a suit of armor similar in style to the equipment she used to favor, and then infused it with a simple yet incredibly effective effect: It granted Boudicca incredible protection. Enough that even divine opponents would have a hard time harming her.
Truly, Celestine was sparing nothing. Not for the one she loved.
At last, when all of this was finished and Boudicca was comfortable in her new armor, Celestine could not resist pulling her into a firm hug. Boudicca returned it earnestly, and even kissed Celestine for the first time in what was likely centuries. At last, the goal had been accomplished.
Boudicca and Celestine were together once more.
Celestine watches as things are built up around her and feels the overwhelming drive to do something about it, and this resolution drives her to resurrect her old friend, avatar, and lover. Before this happens, she upgrades the weapons and armor of Earthwall into hardened steel, ensuring that they’ll have an edge against anyone that happens to want to besiege the city.
Creating the Celestial Riftgate, Celestine reaches into the void and is nearly drawn in herself before she’s able to pull someone free. This someone is none other than Boudicca of Ha-Dûna, a person from Celestine’s past brought back into the modern day.
Reunited with her wife and avatar, Celestine wastes no time in giving her a new greatsword and a new set of armor to protect her. Then the two embrace after so long apart, and are happy to be together once more.
Turn V MP/AP: 5/5
5 MP, Create the Celestial Riftgate, allowing for deities to reach into the beyond to acquire things that may have been lost. A pulse has been sent out across Galbar with its creation, signaling that something powerful has been created.
5 AP using the Weapons and Armor aspect, upgrade all the weapons and armor in the city to be hardened steel armor, vastly increasing the combat preparedness of the Earthwall Elves.
Turn VI MP/AP:
5 MP: Resurrect/Create an avatar: Boudicca of Ha-Dûna. The beloved of Celestine. Once lost, now returned.
3 AP: Create the Claymore of the Lioness for Boudicca. It is identical in capacity to Celestine’s sword, Duty. (Discounted from 5 via Weapons aspect)
2 AP: Create the Panoply of the Lioness for Boudicca. It provides incredible defense against attack, warding off even divine blows without suffering much damage. (Discounted from 4 via Armor aspect)
Seele watched from atop her throne as the Aranea built their civilization, taming the ecosystem she had given them, and even began to debate among themselves on where to take their people. Seele decided that they did not need her immediate supervision at the moment, and was content that none were foolish enough to strike at them knowing the consequences.
She gazed up at one of the dragons that had quietly made its home within Heavenfall, apart from the rest of the ecosystem- they had been born here in the cradle of her landing by her old friend, and now they wandered, gathering their versions of treasures without their mother to guide them...
But she was happy to. She beckoned one of the beasts to come to her, the large creature compelled to obey through ancient friendships and wide gulf of power. It landed on the butt of the spear that pierced the earth, lowering its head to her. She reached up and lightly stroked its snout, letting threads of her power spread from her touch and engulf the creature in an instant. Within, she made a new being, one that would serve her whim.
What quickly emerged from the cocoon of spiderweb was a towering creature that mixed the pride of her favored form with the immense strength of the draconic species. A hybrid of dragon and arachnid, its mind forged into the collective consciousness, it's long wings crunching as they folded inside of its torso and beneath the armored plates.
"I name you Saris, The Roadmaker. You know your purpose, now you must perform it. Go."
And with that command, Saris turned and scaled down the spear, not stopping as it reached the ravine that surrounded its mistress fangs. It crawled deeper and deeper into the underground caverns, utilizing its newfound abilities as it reached an optimal location. It's legs simply touched at the stone, melting and reforming to its touch, moving tons of stone in the blink of an eye. It burrowed into the earth, four legs being used to walk as another four reached up and about, pushing the stone into a smooth and sharp hall of enormous proportions.
It's tail swung busily behind it, coating the surface in the ivory spidersilk that its new Mistress imbued it with. A strong and stable material to ensure the structure of the new, enormous roads it was forging.
Astronomically enormous, these smooth halls had deep canals running on either side, directing magma flows into them to serve as both a light source and heat source in one, as well as avoid Saris new roads being disturbed. Whenever the creature broke into an open cavern, it simply continued its work, gathering stone it had accumulated and patching the holes with its geometrically perfect walls, floors, and ceilings.
And the Roadmaker worked. And worked.
And would work until it was told to stop.
Aboveground, Seele sat on her throne as Saris worked, and she felt somewhat satisfied by this new experiment. For now, she would use what divine power she had bubbling inside of her still to perform some 'simple' tasks that she had been meaning to do for some time.
She raised her hand, gathering her power of Pride to create an item of innocuous appearance- by her standards at least. Clenching her hand closed, she opened it once more to reveal a ring, one that would be able to carry the artifice she created with ease.
She slid the ring onto her right middle finger, admiring the the cracked black and white marble appearance dotted with indents. Raising her hand toward her Fangs of Calamity, her mighty weapon she held, the weapon glowed before becoming an ivory liquid, pulled into one of the rings indents and forming a beautiful gemstone. Fitting for her, for certain.
Not wanting to take any chance that she might lose her precious artifice, she imbued additional power within the ring, the ability to be aware of where it was and what was happening around it. It was unlikely she'd ever lose it, but caution had never hurt her before.
And she did so love the beauty of this ring.
Seele transforms a dragon into a spider-dragon hybrid kaiju creature named Saris, the Roadmaker. It has the power to rearrange materials to forge roads and reinforce those structures with mystical spider silk. Immediately after being created, it ventures into the underground and begins forging these roads... for what purpose it does not know, only that it must.
Meanwhile, Seele makes an Artifact capable of holding items as gemstones within it, and then imbues magic within the artifact so she doesn't lose it.
Start 5 MP/5 AP
2 Might Points spent to create Saris, The Roadmaker. 3 Might Points spent to imbue Saris with a great understanding of engineering and architecture so that it might use its newfound powers effectively.
2 AP(discounted from 4) to make the Ring of the Spider Queen, an item that can absorb other items into it as gemstones for easy transportation and portability. 3 AP(discounted from 6) for Seele to invoke her godly powers to create a form of magic that allows her to track where ever the Ring of the Spider Queen is, what's happening around it, and if it is used. She doesn't want to lose it, after all.
Somewhere within the vast reaches of the cosmos, that all-encompassing silence enveloping everything within its cold embrace had been, at last, broken. As if but a single water drop touching the surface of a still lake, the ripples of creation traveling through the eternal tapestry had roused a long-forgotten entity from its timeless slumber.
Even in its sleep the being’s senses were immaculate; detecting a disturbance – even tiny ones such as this – was easy. After a slight shift in space, brilliant light, heat, and colors unimaginable burst forth, showering the previously pitch darkness with iridescent magnificence. The being’s nebulaeic form slowly coalesced what, at first glance, seemed to be a face, but upon further analysis ended up being a collection of celestial objects arranging themselves as such.
From within a massive cloud of gas and celestial dust, two colorful, swirling spiral galaxies slowly emerged. Both moved in unison as the whole structure floated through space, turning its attention towards a certain direction. The entity seemed to be measuring – nay – judging the new arrival, and as it did another gaseous form slowly emerged from within the cloud; an appendage akin to an arm of galactic proportions took shape, complete with a forearm, hand, and articulated fingers.
After what seemed to be a moment in time, yet lasting longer than some stars' lifespans, the being closed its "eyes", causing the rotating galaxies to squish down into thin, hot, plasma-like lines stretching light years in length. And then it breathed in.
Space roared; Time bent, and two small black holes popped into existence near the center of the being's "face", instantly vacuuming up everything within their immediate vicinity, yet the nebula endlessly generated more and more, an endless spring of creation bursting forth with potential.
Then, just as suddenly as it had started, everything came to a still. The black holes dissipated; the swirling colors within the nebula, and as a result the being's complexion as a whole, dulling down a bit. The entity's eyes opened once again, slightly this time, just enough to peer once at its hand before turning its attention back to the source of the disturbance. As it did, a crack in the fabric of space split the lower half of the cloud, forming a jagged imitation of a mouth, with its edges slightly tilting in a mock grin.
And then it breathed out. More so a deafening – even silenced as it was by the vacuum of space – bellow than a simple exhale, the being's maw spewed forth creation incarnate; it gave birth to a stellar tornado of gigantic proportions that shot forward at beyond light speed, plowing through and picking up everything in its wake.
The sheer amount of energy generated from its unnatural movement would not be denied, causing the tornado to heat up exponentially. All the various space debris and material swirling within it rapidly melted down into their purest forms, quickly coming together to merge into a small – for galactic proportions – sphere.
The orb shot off into the figurative horizon; carried forward by the momentum of the tornado, and towards the direction of the disturbance. Left behind, the entity could do nothing but watch the bead's journey. Its senses, although mighty, did not extend beyond its sphere of influence. Once the connection between itself and the dormant "gift" it had so generously wrapped up had been cut off, the entity knew that the object had truly entered the deep unknown. Satisfied with itself, the being nodded once before fading away, back into slumber. The excursion into the deep dark, although lengthy, had been pretty much uneventful. Posing both as a protector as well as a means of travel, the tornado kept up with the orb for much of the journey, yet the harsh environment would prove to be its undoing.
From the moment it had come into existence, the sheer cold of space had been gnawing away at its stellar energies, akin to a crow encircling a dying rat and pecking at it from time to time. The two would clash innumerable times, yet the tornado would come out as the weaker side time and again, losing both heat and momentum in the process. Alas, it dissipated into nothingness just before reaching their destination, leaving its passenger to travel the rest of the distance on its own.
As if sensing the absence of its guardian, the semi-sentient orb – albeit still dormant – willed its vessel to push on ahead, the one and only order left behind by its creator having been burned into its instinct; reach the destination. When its outer shell met the thin, water-like barrier of the newly formed nascent universe, it knew it had finally fulfilled that command.
As if a dam had suddenly burst open, a rush of new information spewed through the, newly minted, connection between the universe and the consciousness within the sphere. Along with this information came a sudden surge of power that, almost forcefully, washed away all other remnants of external influence that might have been left on the orb.
Had it had actual sight at this time, the consciousness would have experienced everything going dark as it reeled from the sudden intrusion. However, the only indication of it fainting had been the slight dimming of the colorful lights emitted from within. In this split second of true unconsciousness, new rules, directives, and responsibilities slipped into it; as if a thread being carefully stitched onto fabric, the intricate patterns that emerged ended up seamlessly absorbed into, and made part of, the nascent deity.
The bestowment of divinity, and all that it entails, is a mysterious process; one would not be far off in assuming that – like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly – any change that might occur on the inside would reflect on the outside as well. Well, in this case they would be wrong to assume that, as there was absolutely no external indication that the entity had been turned into a divine.
On the contrary, the sphere turned an even duller grey-to-black color; flashes of golden hued light emitted from its center as it slowly floated in space. After some indeterminate amount of time, another celestial object – an asteroid – passed by near the vicinity of the orb, inadvertently catching the unconscious deity in its orbit. Like this, it 'traveled' around the system for a while, piggybacking off the asteroid. However, it seemed that it, too, had been orbiting around another, bigger object all along. Galbar.
Incredible how one small – in the grand scheme of things – rock, floating in space as it was, would be the host of such wondrous variety of life. The divines, in their creative fervor, had riddled it with all sorts of interesting little things. Some had gone for the more usual creations: life-giving flora and sentient fauna, boring but necessary. To complement their critters, the gods gifted some with the knowledge of architecture, as to shield themselves from the elements and prosper as communities; the relatively smarter creatures – mostly bipeds, but there were also a lot of quadrupeds for some strange reason – took to these teachings like a duck to water, spreading all over the continent and forming their own settlements.
Other deities had decided to be more moderate in how much influence they exerted over their surroundings. A few experiments here; some changes there; a few mortals for servants and an abode to call their own; there is nothing wrong with taking it easy sometimes, but one ought to do… more. A mortal's plight, a limited lifespan on top of no access to divine power, was certainly crippling enough. Yet so many of them rose to the challenge, some imitating their superiors, others charting their own paths; their creations, in the end, being the result of effort and sheer force of will.
Of course, those deities were not really at fault here; their invoker had not really given them specific goals to achieve, and so they were somewhat… winging it, per se – some quite literally at that. One, however, had lagged behind the rest.
Well, getting locked in orbit with a quasi-satellite of Galbar, and experiencing the mind's equivalent of a blackout on top of that, is not something to scoff at. By the time the young deity regained enough of its senses to get a hang of the situation, its overbearing partner had run a few circles around the planet. Trapped as it was between the two celestial objects, the orb's orbit destabilized due to the superior pull of Galbar, and so at some point it had started hurling down towards the planet. The day had long passed; the sun had set and the moon – one of them anyway, as they somehow had managed to multiply – had risen over the horizon, illuminating with its silvery light the world below. The wind carried the sound of the distant waves, all the way up the many cliff sides riddling the south-eastern edges of the continent, and into the dense, forested maze that were the outskirts of Logiopolis.
There, upon one small clearing near the edge of one such cliff sat a person, alone. Occasionally, the distinct clacking sound of two hard objects hitting each-other would be heard, followed by the person quickly glancing up at the night sky for a brief second, before quickly looking down onto whatever they were tinkering with.
–Clink, clink, clink–
With a sigh, Titus straightened his back, taking a couple of seconds to regain his breath whilst marveling at his finished creation. "Finally, finally, finally, finally!" He repeated the same word over and over again, sheer excitement written out all over his face. A few hands-width in length away from him lay a relatively thick slab of stone; he'd found it on a beach a few days after the God of Knowledge had first visited and gifted them with names, language, writing, and many more.
"God must be looking after me, else I doubt I'd have convinced that meat-for-brains to drag this thing all the way here." The young man stood up – dusting off whatever dirt had gotten on him from all that work, and started slowly circling around the slab, peering at it from different angles. Depicted on it, were a set of points, carefully chiseled in and connected with lines in between; rough as it was, the image constructed from the arrangement of said points and lines ended up, curiously, being that of a book.
"Hmm, a little rough around the edges for sure… maybe if I carve a little bit over here…"
Lost in thought as he was – ninety percent of what went through his mind at that moment were related to his masterpiece – Titus failed to notice a towering presence slowly approaching him from behind. "Hey, hey, hey, oh that looks familiar." The sheer suddenness of the new voice spooked the lights out of the poor man, causing him to jump and fall on his face, much to the chagrin of the intruder.
Titus slowly rolled over in place whilst letting out a pained grunt, eliciting more laughter for his troubles. "Y-ye-yeah, laugh away…" Titus sighed in resignation, splaying his arms on the ground, and simply staring at the stars above. After a moment, however, even that view was taken away from him as the figure from before walked right next to his head, replacing the stars with… something equally exciting.
"How's the view from down there, astroboy?" The red-haired kinnara looming above Titus questioned with a grin. "Uh… um… It's, uh, pre–" his stumbling for words was cut off by a sharp but relatively soft kick to his sides, causing him to roll over once again. "Enough, Archon's back from the hunt; it's time to return to the cabin," she declared before walking off towards the piece of stone on the ground.
"You sure made good work of my good work… I know what it looks like, but why… this, of all things?" She pointed at the stone carving before looking back at him. Titus, much to his credit, did not get angry at her words. "Calm down, it comes from a place of ignorance… calm… down…"
"This is a constellation, or a depiction of one at least," the young man explained as he stood up once more, only to be met by a raised eyebrow. "A consta-what now?"
"Con-stel-la-ti-on. It's an area on the celestial plane in which a group of visible stars form a pattern, that we can then perceive and depict!" The man patiently re-iterated, his excitement there towards the end of his explanation evident in his eyes and tone. Yet what faced him was silence, a troubled look, a tilted head, and full-blown eyebrow frowning that made him want to claw his face off.
"OKAY, YOU HAVE THE STARS, RIGHT?" Nod. "THEY ARE UP IN THE SKY, YEAH?" Nod. "WELL, SOME ARE BRIGHTER THAN OTHERS, AND WHEN WE DRAW LINES BETWEEN THOSE BRIGHT ONES, SOMETIMES, WE GET NICE PICTURES!" Titus was left full-on wheezing towards the end of the brief rant, yet he stared the kinnara straight into the eyes to see if she'd understood.
After he'd finished, she remained silent for a while, sometimes looking up at the stars before looking back down at him. She did this for a few minutes, making Titus swear he could hear grinding sounds coming from the inside of her head. Suddenly, however, she turned to him; "First of all, we're having a long talk later," she said matter-of-factly, immediately making Titus break out in cold sweat. "Secondly, yeah I get it now. Lastly, a question: what happens when one of those stars shoots down?"
"What? Uh, well, Archon's said that those are shooting stars, they have nothing to do with the big ones that form the constellations, Myra…" Titus nervously replied. "Aha, I see. So, it's not a punishment from God…" She mumbled her understanding whilst staring at the sky, prompting Titus to join her. They watched in silence, a mixture of awe and terror as an object sliced through the night sky. The sheer speed and momentum that carried it caused the atmosphere to spontaneously combust around it, carving a beautifully haunting flaming arc across a dark background.
Within a few seconds, the object had travelled all the way from the equator to the south-eastern coast of the continent; inhabitants of Logiopolis and the surrounding areas would have been the primary audience for this celestial spectacle. Only for a moment in time, night turned to day, and then back to night as blinding light radiated outwards from the object as it passed by high above.
And the sound, oh the sound. It came an instant later, a deafening boom accompanied by a shockwave – enough to make the forests sway in unison, but not enough to rip them out from where they stood. The wind, as if following the trail set by the shooting star, blew strongly towards the north. However, it was soon met by the wall that was the Stormbreaker Mountain Range and hailed to a stop, unlike the trailblazing meteor that continued well beyond those snowy peaks.
Be as stable as the earth you tread on, for it is it that gives you sustenance; be as flexible as the water you drink, for it is it that courses through your veins; be as passionate as the fire you cook with, yet never grow too fond of it, lest you be burned to a crisp; be as considerate as the air your breathe, for every living being on Galbar requires it to keep on living.
Staggering between two bushes, a lone deer emerged into an open clearing; its mouth drooled frothy saliva as its nose sniffed around, trying to detect potential predators. Stopping for a moment, the deer raised its head – ears stretched as high as possible – and took in the surrounding area. A thin, long piece of wood was sticking out from its side, slightly up and towards the end of its spine. Blood was dripping out from the puncture wound, seeping into its fur, and painting it a carmine red.
The clearing was situated on the south bank of the water channel that, unknown to many still, divided the lands of Galbar in two. Further south and equally covered in dense, coniferous woodland – fir and spruce, some pine here and there too – the mountain that delineated the northern border of the Darkwood Forest rose tall, a natural landmark. Somewhere on the other side of the mountain, the Falling Star sect's stronghold stood strong, housing one of the Twelve Clans of Haven.
It was one such clansman of Falling Star that had wounded the deer so gravely. Dolsoe was his name, a relatively known young hunter and martial artist within the clan; Dolsoe's prey tracking abilities had even elicited a passing comment by one of the sect's Inner Disciples – being noticed by someone that had received direct tutelage by the Martial Goddess could be considered a blessing.
And yet, upon laying eyes on him, no one in their right minds would guess that he was a member of the Falling Star sect. His attire consisted of rugged, cut up "clothing" – in actuality a random assortment of leathers, haphazardly stitched up together to look like something one might wear – adorning his torso and legs, clothing that looked like they had been worn for years on end; no shoes, of course; disheveled, mop-like long hair that shrouded most of his forehead, eyes, ears and nose – gods knew how he could see even a foot's width in front of him in that state.
Dolsoe had broken many rules and regulations, skirting his responsibilities and taking to the mountains as a way to escape from all of it, yet no matter how far he went, his past always seemed to be haunting him.
The man crouched low, his second wooden spear in hand, primed and ready. He inhaled once, then again, and then a third time, taking in the scents of the forest – pine sap and wet foliage mixed together to create a truly unique kind of scent. As he lay there low, scanning the area, his eyes suddenly locked on to something; different from the endless shades of green that dominated the forest, this was a deep, dirty crimson. The color of blood, even dried out, is unmistakable to a seasoned hunter.
Dolsoe, albeit still sticking close to the ground, moved swiftly towards the newfound clue that would lead him to the location of his prey. "Yeah… not much more now…" he murmured to himself as he touched the red, sticky ichor with his fingers. "Ah, this one is fresh… you're close aren't ya?" He straightened his back a little and set off towards the north, his pace brisk yet silent.
Like a hawk, Dolsoe kept his eyes wide open as he moved through the forest, picking around bushes and cutting down vines in the process. As he neared the end, he crouched low once again and assumed the spear throwing position. Hidden behind one of the bushes, he popped his head up for moment, and lo and behold, his prey had entered his sights once more.
Dolsoe kept his eyes trained on the wounded deer; it had moved all the way to the edge of the water channel. It greedily swallowed gulp after gulp, its eyes lidded from either the pain of the wound or the exertion of having to escape an unyielding predator. "You're thirsty… well, I am hungry!"
Just as he was preparing to launch his other spear, however, a terrifying noise reverberated across the area, alerting both the hunter and the hunted that something had gone wrong, very, very wrong. A split second later, a white flash covered the sky, and then everything went black. "Ugh… wh-where am I?"
The being's jumbled mind felt sluggish. As if a newborn calf not having yet realized it had been born, the consciousness drew upon every ounce of mental power it could muster at that very moment, organizing its thoughts into something that could make sense. Then suddenly, like a fumbling key finally finding the lock after repeatedly failing to do so, everything became clear.
"I see… so it's come to this…"
The being willed it, and the world that surrounded it revealed itself to it at once. "How fascinating…" Its mind scanned through the information in its possession, going through everything not once, but twice – just to make sure.
For a being of its level, slowing down its perception to account for the sheer speed at which it had been travelling through the atmosphere was, for a lack of a better comparison, a parlor trick. A world of blurring colors and heat instantly slowed down to a crawl, with the lands beyond quickly becoming recognizable to the naked eye. "These… are mountains, and those are trees, no, forests!" Its remarks echoed within its own mind, yet sadly no one was there to share them with.
Then its sight locked on an interesting discovery, an intriguing trapezoidal structure of uneven surface. At first glance, the being had no idea as to what its use might have been; its location for one? Utterly dreadful. Who would even consider that juncture as prime real estate? Whoever had ordered the construction must have held a grudge on the one responsible for actually building the thing, the being concluded.
It was at this time, however, that the being noticed it was increasingly approaching the surface of the world beneath. Just as it passed by the tall mountain peak that loomed over surrounding area, its sight was greeted with more of the same land. "More forests, mountains and… buildings…" Had it had a mouth, the being would have let out a sigh.
"Well, I guess my other… colleagues do love their green and brown stuff…" Somewhere in its mind, the thought clicked that if it let itself to land without doing anything, the impact could probably take out a good chunk of the ground below. "Yes, it seems I was called here to help, not destroy, so…"
The world bent around the being's will and, in a split second, the stupendous amount of kinetic force behind its fall became null, causing its body to come to a sudden halt midair, just above where it would have landed. Unfortunately for the land below, it hadn’t really extended that command to all the forces at play here.
As a result, the compacted gas that had, until that time, been burning bright right in-front of it kept going downwards, smiting the ground directly below and engulfing it in a flaming fireball, disintegrating trees and creatures alike. Fortunately for the land, the crater that resulted was aptly situated; water from the water channel dividing the two continents quickly rushed in, filling it up and creating a new lake.
A dark, sphere like shape slowly descended from above the lake, and as it did, a cylindrical piece of land rose from the depths below – right in the middle of it – as if the lake itself was extending a hand, welcoming the orb's arrival. A small indentation in the rock formed as the orb settled; divine energies crackled, and the obelisk became riddled with blackened cracks. From within, nebulous mist seeped that, after a while, would create an ethereal environment, enveloping the lake and some of the surrounding land, and hiding it away from plain view.
"Ah, that's much better… now to make it a little more interesting." With that thought, all sorts of fantastical plants started growing in the area surrounding the lake. Golden-stemmed bamboos of different sizes and shapes shot up, mostly occupying the area at the borders and up to the middle of the small realm, enveloping the core within a veritable new forest. Taking advantage of the ideal conditions that the mist had created, a whole host of mushrooms-types grew in between the bamboo, multicolored and of various degrees of fluorescence. Nearer to the lake, smaller grasses and roots; forb; ginseng; licorice; ginger to name a few, slowly sprouted.
However, the greatest change took place in the middle of the lake, right where the obelisk had been erected. The land rumbled, creating ripples in the surface of the water as two thick, dense, golden-brown roots slowly crept up from the recently created lake, twisting and turning around the obelisk, only to come to a stop upon meeting at the top. As if sensing it was their time to appear, numerous branches grew outwards, the thing starting to, more and more, resemble an actual tree now.
Only the final touches were needed, and so the being willed the trunks of the tree to mold themselves around it, allowing the orb to escape its tight embrace. As the being floated away, a small, sphere-sized hole was left in the middle of the tree, enshrining it as this deity's resting place upon this planet. At that moment, the whole tree burst with life; golden leaves grew, shimmering purplish-white flowers bloomed, and a perpetual small breeze started blowing out of nowhere. As if alive, the tree, its branches and all other surrounding foliage started gently rocking to the whims of the wind. Occasionally, flower petals would get detached from their
"I've got to say, rocks and trees do make for a nice landscape after all… seems like the other deities are on to something here." The being, amused by its own thoughts, floated down towards the base of the tree. Whilst doing so, dark, golden-hued liquid slowly seeped out from within the deep recesses of its vessel, the orb. Slowly, the liquid formed into the rough shape of a featureless torso with four equally featureless limbs, a body adequate enough to hold its vessel in place, albeit not really needed.
Gingerly at first – walking was not something that came naturally to it – the being moved around the garden, marveling at the sights and scents. It took its time, not rushing through the first moments of its existence on Galbar. After all, the notion of time was irrelevant to an existence such as itself. Its walk eventually took it back to the center of the lake, wherein the tree stood tall. The being stretched one of its appendages, gently touching one of the many swaying flowers, and a sense of peace and tranquility washed over its entire being. "Delightful."
But then a small noise, a sound akin no other existing within the realm, brought the deity back from its trance-like state. The divine followed the sound curiously, leaving its innate inquisitive nature to bring it to its destination. On the south edge of the realm, among the tall bamboo and mushrooms, a small wisp lay down on the ground, curled up in a fetal position. "How curious, a biped, here in my realm."
The deity had spoken softly, trying to not startle the creature, yet its voice reverberated outwards, interfering with the divine essence of the place. With it as their epicenter, ripples in the fabric of space extended towards all directions, some penetrating straight through the fragile exterior of the small visitor; the wisp let out a pained wail and hurriedly scurried away, frightened out of its mind.
"Oh, this won't do… this presence of mine is too much for mortals to bear…" The deity stopped and thought, trying to come up with a solution to a newfound problem. "Hmm, maybe if I had a more relatable appearance?" Suddenly, its form turned back into the primordial liquid it had emerged from, flowing up and setting around the floating orb which, soon, started spinning around in place; at first it went slowly, but as rotation after rotation was completed, its speed ramped up exponentially.
Through this movement, a vacuum-like force was created that started sucking in everything around it. Nearby golden bamboo and grasses were ripped up and flown straight into the orb's greedy mouth, along with water from the lake and the divine essence leaking from the cracks within the obelisk. Somewhere within the realm, the wisp of a man had detected this immediate danger and had taken a calculated risk; he'd swam across the lake, reaching the land where the giant tree lay and hid behind it – it seemed like only thing incapable of being torn apart at that moment.
Fortunately, it didn't take long for the orb to calm down, and as it did a burst of light emanated from the core of the spherical object. Innumerable rays of light penetrated through the dark liquid surrounding the orb, turning it bright a bright golden color, before dissipating into nothingness once more. The transformed liquid then latched onto the orb, enveloping it in its gooey embrace.
Throughout the ordeal, the wisp had remained mostly hidden behind the tree, however when the lights died down, it curiously peeked around to look at what had been happening. What it witnessed was like something straight out of a fairy tale; semi-transparent threads of divine energy extended downward, creating a scaffold-like structure that then was slowly filled in by the golden liquid above, forming a rather tall, humanoid body. Bone, organs, veins, and muscles formed on the inside, while skin enveloped the outside – all but the brain, which was replaced by the orb itself and encased within a shiny, translucent skull, formed beautifully.
Every ounce of ichor left after the completion of the transformation flowed up onto the deity's head, seeping into the skin. By the time the body had floated down, its feet meeting the ground, a knee-length, goldenrod mane of hair had fully grown in. Two striking, citrine-colored eyes carefully measured their surroundings, viewing the world through mortal lenses for the first time.
He breathed in, testing the both the air and his new lungs, the action quickly eliciting a smile from the god. "Despite some flaws, the engineering prowess and skill that must have gone into creating the blueprints for such a race of creatures is astounding. I must make it a goal to meet their creator at some point…"
As the deity mused on this new reality that he had been summoned into, his eyes spotted a tiny head peaking from behind the tree. Unfortunately for the wisp, those few milliseconds it took to realize it had been spotted were enough for the god to cast his will on it, seizing it in place and preventing it from running away again. "Not that it would go far… I know of everything that goes on within this realm."
The god waved in with his left hand, exerting a force of attraction that slowly dragged the intruder towards him, while with his right hand summoned a set of simple, linen robes to cover his modesty. After getting dressed, he sat down on the ground, legs crossed, and watched as the wisp – despite struggling against its invisible tethers – kept on approaching him.
"Y-yi-yooooooou, no." A cough and several adjustments later, the deity projected his voice out a second time. "You needn't struggle, I mean no harm." He had only heard accounts of the deities, never witnessing one from up close. Dolsoe's parents used to tell him stories about the divine creator, the Goddess that saved their race from the pits of oblivion. She had given them many gifts to aid in their survival: the gifts of language and writing being the first to pop into his mind. There were others as well, such as the gift of architecture, governance, and war; the last had often been a hot topic during the sect's monthly literary tournaments.
Apparently, after the humans and chimeras were cast down from Haven, they were made aware of the existence of other deities. Their Goddess, Teacher, and Protector was not the only one capable of harnessing reality, taming and manipulating it according to her whims. Rumors spoke of texts hidden deep within the sect's library, far away from an Outer member's eyes, that held information about the others – their veracity eluded Dolsoe – however those who knew for certain were among the highest ranked within the sect.
And yet, right then and there, a living, breathing, and smiling deity was sitting across from him, the two separated by a flat, table-like rock. On top of the "table" lay a wide assortment of fresh fruit; dewy, full-bodied grapes, green and golden pears, apples of various shades of sweetness, a veritable galore of berries of all sizes and shapes, were among some of the fruit made available to him. Some fruit, like kiwis, were especially hard to find in the area surrounding the Falling Star sect, and as such were considered a delicacy – some of the more gluttonous members would go as far as to use merit to obtain them.
Dolsoe glanced back and forth between the god and the feast in front of him, his mouth drooling wispy saliva. As if sensing his hesitation, the god nodded his assent, and Dolsoe instantly grabbed at one of the apples, only for his hand to phase right through it. His eyes blinked a few times, the confusion evident on his face, and so he made several more attempts, all ending in the same manner. Then the realization hit him, and he slumped back in defeat.
"I am dead, aren't I?" The first words leaving Dolsoe's mouth were not particularly targeted at the god, yet he still nodded his head in confirmation. "I admit, my arrival could have been better, but you really were not in the best of positions there." The god snapped his fingers and all the fruit, along with the table, turned a ghostly purple color. "Uh, should be fixed now."
"What's the use even… I'm dead…" Dolsoe stayed still, head hung low. His life had finally come to an end, and what end it had been. "Spicy is one word to describe it," the god quipped in before floating a cluster of grapes in front of him, separating one, and launching it into his mouth. "Aha, minty!"
The sheer absurdity of the whole situation caused Dolsoe to let out an amused exhale which, after a second, was reciprocated back by the god, followed by a giggle. Dolsoe joined in, and soon after – like two sick people taking turns sneezing on each other – both had devolved into full-blown, over the top, knee-slapping, tummy-hurting laughter.
Nevertheless, just like how fire cannot burn without enough fuel, so too does joy. One's got only so much energy to spend on laughter, anyway, before their mind changes the subject back to something more somber. After the racket had finally come to an end, both sat there, staring at each other in silence. Then, much to Dolsoe's surprise, the god – after awkwardly shifting his weight around a little – addressed him first.
"So, you know how you being dead is, uh, kind of my fault–" "Yes, one hundred percent." Dolsoe nodded his head in a hasty reply, cutting the god mid-speech, eliciting a tight smile and a blink of the eyes from the other party. "Sorry…" "Yeah, so I was thinking: it is my fault, so who's better to fix it other than me? There are two ideas I am currently entertaining; one could roughly categorize them as the 'fast-and-easy' versus the 'slow-and-hard' approach." Dolsoe, careful not to make the same mistake as earlier, decided to wait until the god signaled that he could talk. "Tell me more about the first one…" "Oh, well its nothing other than resurrection. We make you a new body, identical to the one you had before, plop you right back in there, and off you go. Super comfortable. Cheap to boot." The god's last choice of words worried Dolsoe a little. "Che– no, you know what, no. Thanks, but I would rather not return like that." Dolsoe rejected the offer after some consideration. "Would you care to elaborate on the reason? I will understand if you choose to remain silent, however."
Dolsoe looked straight into the eyes of the man sitting across from him; ten minutes ago he was alive and well, ready to take a life for food, and now – ten minutes later – he is face-to-face with his own killer, talking about methods of giving that life back to him. The ghostly vagabond let out a deep sigh, taking some time to gather his thoughts, before finally speaking up.
"You know, I have been through a lot in my life – lost a lot. Time; emotions; credibility; family… Some I lost myself, while others were taken away from me." Visible tears started welling up in his wispy eyes as he mouthed those words, but he steeled himself and continued. "In some way I looked forward to my death; I have always wondered, no, hoped that there was no afterlife. Having to live with these memories stuck in my head is one thing, but having to carry them all the way to eternity after I am dead… I would rather go insane."
"Of course, maybe somewhere out there, there is a God of Death taking care of all the dead people, picking them up in his jolly little boat, and herding them off to some place for safeke–" Realizing what he'd just said, Dolsoe scratched his beard, looked behind his shoulder a couple of times to make sure, and leaned a little forward towards the god. "There's no God of Death with a boat, right?" His voice could barely count as a whisper.
The deity remained silent for a while, seemingly thinking quite hard about the question. "You know what," he said before he, too, leaned in closer. "I have no idea! I am kind of new to the job, so… yeah." The deity concluded, shrugging his shoulders.
"Right…" Dolsoe straightened his back, returning to his previous position and – after clearing his throat once – dug a hand into his breast-pocket, fishing out a small wooden pendant. It looked handmade, yet the roughness of the edges and the poor quality of material indicated a lack of skill from the craftsman's side. "This was made by my daughter, Sohee; she should be sixteen cycles old at this time."
Again, Dolsoe's eyes welled up at the mention of his daughter, and the man seemed to almost be on the verge of a breakdown, however he somehow regained his composure. "She's undergoing her apprenticeship in the sect; I am barred from meeting, or even talking with, her until it is over." His fingers rubbed on the pendant gently as he talked.
"I've thought about ending it many times before you came knocking, you know? Yet all those times, her face appeared in my mind. I constantly counted the years, telling myself it was going to be alright. I had to be there when she finished, when she'd finally come back home… when we could be a family once more." The hand holding onto the pendant had long clutched into a fist, Dolsoe unwittingly crushing it within.
"You know, resurrection would fix that problem for you. Plus, I could give you a younger body, so that you and your daughter could have more time to spend together. To make up for the lost time and all." The deity interjected.
"Yes… but there's a problem with that solution; how would I ever be able to explain that I died, and the god that – accidentally – killed me, took pity on me, and brought me back? Also, there are two more years until she is finished with the apprenticeship. I am not sure I can even hold on for that long…"
The man chuckled at a thought, much to the god's surprise. Laughter did not fit the mood at that moment, prompting the deity to inquire as to why he had done that. "You know, for a god you are awfully inquisitive. Aren't you supposed to be all-knowing?"
The god, in return, shook his head in refusal. "No, my powers are currently limited; what knowledge I possess is either through my, very, brief existence so far, or the pieces I've gai–" It was the god's time to stop himself in his tracks, as he'd said too much already. "Just no," he added before remaining silent.
Dolsoe shrugged his shoulders at the answer. "Fair enough, I guess. Well, I was considerably more stable back when she first started her apprenticeship, but these long years have ground me down… I also did some not so regal things back at the sect, and now I am shunned whenever I show myself around those parts."
The god remained silent until the end, earnestly listening to what Dolsoe had to say. Only when he felt that the man had truly finished his story did he speak up. "Very well, I can take that as an acceptable reason for refusing the first offer. This means it is an automatic win for the second offer!" The god clapped his hands excitedly. "And what is that exactly?" Dolsoe asked.
"That would be resurrection–" "I literally just listed all the reasons why that would be–" "SILENCE!" The deity immediately burst forth with rage; his eyes turned pitch black, and a large portion of his divine will crashed down on the discourteous soul. "Just because I enjoy a good conversation does not mean you are allowed to interrupt me, mortal. You will not do this again, understood?" The man could not move a muscle – figuratively – but he assumed the deity could simply read his mind, and so he projected his sincere apologies with his thoughts.
In a split second, everything returned to its previous calm state; the moment the deity withdrew his power, Dolsoe felt as if he could breathe again. "As I was saying, the second offer is resurrection, with a caveat. Follow me, closely." With a flourish of his sleeve, both the stone table and the food on top of it immediately disappeared; the deity floated up from whence he sat, coming to a standing position mid-air, his feet just barely hovering above ground.
Dolsoe watched as the deity floated past him; at that moment of close proximity, he could feel nothing of the sort of power and sheer magnificence from before. If he hadn't experienced it firsthand, he would swear that the man in front of him was just another regular human being. Dolsoe hurriedly followed behind the god, not daring to go against him a third time.
They had been situated near the southern border of the realm, yet they didn't take long to reach the edge of the lake. The deity continued moving forward, effortlessly floating above the surface, while a few steps behind him giant waterlilies, their leaves as wide as that table from before, simply popped into existence. Dolsoe was hesitant at first, but then remembered that he was literally dead, and so started hopping from plant to plant in a bid to catch up.
Upon reaching the central landmass of the lake, the deity finally landed, turned around and watched as the ghost finished making his way over. Dolsoe could feel the god's gaze on him after finally landing on solid ground; had he been still alive, his forehead would have surely broken in cold sweat. Then, the god simply extended his arm, his hand pointing forward. "Deceased first," he added with a smile.
"Uh, thanks…" The man nervously walked ahead; the only real thing taking up most of this space, from what Dolsoe had seen, had been the tree. Thus, one could only assume how surprised he was to see a new structure. The immediate land surrounding the tree had previously been circular, however now a perfect semi-circle had been sheared off, akin to a person taking a bite out of an uncut pie. Profane.
As they neared this inner shore, Dolsoe's eyes finally caught glimpse of another surprise; rows upon rows of solid granite steps, conforming with the new shape of the land, jutted out from the side before disappearing into the depths of the lake. Then the god's voice was heard once more as he walked right next to the man.
"I have great plans for this world; we were brought here to be many things, from creators, to adjudicators, to – sometimes, yes – even destroyers. I have a rough idea as to what my place is within the grand scheme of things, however I am also not without flaws – at least I assume so. I actually dread the day I find out I have achieved true perfection, for that would be the day I have become my anathema."
Dolsoe studied the deity's face; its eyes, for the first time throughout their meeting, gave the man a strange sort of feeling. Dolsoe struggled a little to find the words to describe this feeling, eventually concluding on what felt like a close approximation – unfathomably distant, yet full of warmth. His trance was broken by the deity raising his right hand and gestured, as if calling something from behind to come forth.
Dolsoe turned around to see the small, spherical indentation into the tree light up. After three seconds, the light died down and small bead of liquid started slowly floating towards the duo. The colors of the liquid were truly… bizarre to Dolsoe, the mortal mind unable to comprehend them; had it not been for the stabilizing power of the realm, the ensuing insanity would have, no doubt, disintegrated his soul.
He watched as the bead floated above the surface of the water, lingering there for a brief second before sinking down into the lake. A few moments later, the lake took on the same colors as the bead, however a little more muted, and less taxing on the mortal mind.
"There, now we are ready to proceed. So, as I was saying before, resurrection with a caveat. By simply immersing yourself into the lake, your soul will be deconstructed and rebuild from the ground up, after which it will be ready to latch on to a new body. You will be a biped, that is for certain, however which race of biped is up to debate. Additionally, there's no way to know where exactly you will be placed in the world. Your memories and personality will stay intact, facilitating a faster re-integration into society. That, is your first choice."
"As for the second choice – and this is a special service from me to you, a one-time deal – you will, again, have to fully immerse yourself within the waters. However, by going the extra step and ingesting the water itself, your mind will be cleansed as well; all your memories will disappear, and your soul will become a clean slate. Furthermore, you will have no control over what body you will come to inhabit, but I will make sure that the resulting soul will have a strong, protective instinct towards your daughter. I will also make sure to let you loose near her vicinity."
The man's eyes stayed locked onto the deity during the whole time; his mind had been a jumbled-up mess of questions during the first half of the explanation, however once the second half came about, everything became crystal clear. Slowly, a smile crept up on his face, but as Dolsoe made to say something, the deity shushed him.
"I will know."
Dolsoe nodded once before turning around and started walking towards the steps. Just before going down the first, he stopped and turned around once more. "What is your name?"
Name… Indeed, mortals had such a concept. "I suppose I have none," the deity replied after some deliberation.
The smile on the man's face widened even more. "Can I name you?"
The sheer presumptuousness, oh the gall! The deity immediately burst out in roaring laughter at the ridiculous request. "Sure, such a reward seems fitting for being the first person to engage in conversation with me. Go ahead!"
"Well then, see you later, Einod."
The post is divided into six parts:
The first one clues the reader into what kind of past Einod has, where he might have come from, and all the like. Somewhat abstract - I doubt this will be a favorite.
The second part details Einod's journey through the cosmos as he - it at that point - approached Homura's universe. Again, pretty meh part overall, as there's no real action.
The third part is actually a little weird; Einod is not actually conscious at that point, and so this part could be simply summarized as narrator comments about the world so far. I know it breaks the immersion, but I wanted to include it so as to give a little context since it's my first post. What is a good RPGuild post without character reactions about what the other players have done so far? I will have my reactions, and you will like it!
The fourth part is the one that I feel will attract the most fans. It takes place near Logiopolis, and introduces two characters: Titus and Myra. One is a human male, while the other is a kinnara female. Both are over 18 years old, albeit Myra is a little older than Titus, a fact that she keeps rubbing into his nose each and every day. A third character is also mentioned, Archon, a hunter from Logiopolis, but nothing much more is expanded upon for him.
Titus is an avid lover of the stars and a budding astronomer. We find him just when he has finished carving up a constellation upon a particularly large stone slab. Myra soon joins him, and a fun little convo plays out. Suddenly, they are both distracted by the a shooting star that seems to be headed straight for them. Fortunately, it passes right above their heads, heading instead deeper into the center of the continent.
The fifth part introduces another character, Dolsoe. He is a member of the Falling Star sect, one of the 12 Holy Houses of Haven, and he is out on a hunt. He is somewhat of an outcast within the sect, having had a rough past, and so he chooses to live in the mountains far away from the sect's stronghold. We learn a little about the sect itself, however much of the part is ultimately dedicated to Dolsoe and how he dies.
The sixth, and biggest, part is where we finally get to Einod himself in action. After landing with a relative bang, he goes right to work creating his very own realm. As I explain later, It's basically a giant garden with a lake in the middle, and within the lake there's another piece of land with a giant tree - think a mix of white dogwood, great banyan, and the Bohdi Tree from Buddhist myth. Well, after creating the realm, Einod has a first go at creating a body for himself. Afterwards, he discovers that the ghost of Dolsoe had somehow infiltrated the realm, and thus tries to greet him, only to freak the shit out of him. This prompts Einod to create a second body for himself, one more relatable to humanoids. His new appearance is in the updated CS, on the Character tab. Well, they go on to have a chat, whereupon we learn more about Dolsoe's past, as well as his current mental state. He has been suicidal in the past, with the only thread left that allows him to cling onto life being his daughter. She is currently undergoing something called "the apprenticeship", a Falling Star sect-specific term. Not much more is said about what the apprenticeship is, just that it lasts a long time, and that parents are not allowed to contact their children during said time.
Einod, feeling responsible for killing the very first person he would come in contact with on Galbar, offers to resurrect Dolsoe. A relatively interesting back and forth ensues; Dolsoe refuses to be resurrected at first, citing reasons for said refusal. We see also see a more fierce sided to Einod, one that does not tolerate going against the fundamental notion of a conversation: the smooth exchange of ideas. After things have calmed down a bit, Einod makes another resurrection offer, this time a little more complicated. At the end, Dolsoe makes a choice, and the rest is history.
Phew, this was a long post. It took close to 3 weeks to finish... This is probably the lengthiest intro post I've ever written for a character. There were some difficulties, especially during the initial part that hints upon some of Einod's background and past. Everything else flowed pretty smoothly after that. It's just that I was busy most of the days and could only really sit down and write during the evenings. Well after 2 and half weeks I said that was enough, and stayed up two days in a row until 7 am to finish it. Hope it was worth me shaving some time off my lifespan... x.x
5 MP // 5 AP-2 AP (Create a Realm: I will write a sheet for it up later, but for the tl;dr: it's a garden with a giant tree in the middle, and whoever finds themselves inside will be able to more easily find inspiration/motivation/enlightenment about any one goal they have in their minds. Divine beings are not affected by this effect.) -3 MP (Resurrect a dead character.) - 3/3 MP towards unlocking the Aspect of Reincarnation. -2 MP (Create a monument: Waters of Forgetfulness; I will also write a sheet for this, but I think its effects are self-evident by the name) - 2/3 MP towards unlocking the Aspect of Lethe. 0 MP // 3 AP
With their first and so far only guest having departed, Aethel found themself tucking away their new cloak and considering what to do in a more long term direction. Normally they were a creature of chaos and impulse, but unlike the original Galbar under the Monarch (and that was a sentence that evidence had called into question back then) Aethel hadn't appeared at the beginning. They weren't late by any means, but their starting point had been set after most of the heavy lifting had been done this time around.
This had its positives and negatives of course, but the biggest issue was that it meant that they were trying to make an impact as a divine being on a world that already had something of a glut of the damn things. Creating a moon almost certainly made an impression of course, but apart from Ashy none of the beings divine or otherwise down on the planet below had the slightest idea who they were. So clearly something else needed to be done in order to get everyone's attention. Something to truly make an impact...
Aethel's gaze turned to look at the smaller orbital rock that had come into existence shortly before they created the Dreamers Moon for an uncomfortably long time... before filing that one away for the time being. The situation wasn't that extreme just yet, but it was always good to have other plans ready to go at a moments notice if the status quo needed to suddenly change.
However, before Aethel could focus to heavily on their plans for Galbar, they felt something deep within their being tremble. A single beat of a heart that was both theirs and at the same time, wasn't. A heart that they had created with the intention of it one day becoming a deity in its own right, but in order to survive they had consumed it in order to aid them in abandoning Mana in exchange for Dreams.
One beat became two. Then three. And with each thunderous echo the Heart of Nightmares made itself heard. During the long slumber it had been dormant, much like Aethel themself had been... but at long last it was time for the true transformation to begin. Now seemed like as good a time as any, as Aethel sat themself down in the heart of their domain as the only entity on their personal moon. This was honestly as safe a place as they were going to get.
In fairness they could have easily fully combined the Heart of Nightmares with their being without really having to change anything about themselves, but it was honestly time for a change. The form Aethel currently wore had been the one they had been born with, but since Mana was no longer the core of their being a new look to go with the new aspects felt right to them. They closed their eyes and focused.
Time passed in complete silence. At first it didn't seem like anything was happening at all, but then many of the tendrils on Aethel's body started to recede, pulling back and disappearing under the flesh as if they had never been there to begin with. As each tendril disappeared, Aethel's body seemed to grow bigger as more mass was added to it. A few tendrils would remain because the new Aethel intended to keep the hooves and the tendrils were honestly useful for things, but they would be reshaped slightly because their primary duty now was to touch and pick up things rather then just sway in the tides of magic as they once did.
Once all but the remaining tendrils were gone and it seemed that Aethel had reached a critical mass of sorts, their body started to violently spasm. Every muscle over Aethel's equine body tightened as hard as it could, before relaxing again for just a moment before it all tightened once more and continued to repeat in a pattern that was slowly building up in speed. Had there been witnesses, the process would have looked horrifying and painful, but Aethel's features remained the picture of silent serenity.
Suddenly seams tore open all over Aethel's body. Instead of blood and organs as one might expect, instead what came out was a horrible dark red fiery glow that bathed the moon with such a dark light that it made the moon itself darker with the kind of shadows that animals avoided in rightful fear that stepping into one would be the last thing they did. The silence was broken by the thunderous, unceasing beat of a heart that didn't exist in the real world, but who's unending beat was such that it was only once someone pointed it out that they realized that it was always there, thumping under the skin of reality itself.
The opened seams closed, leaving little evidence that they had been there at all as the dark light that had poured out of them disappeared and allowed the moon to brighten again while the hammering of the Heart faded back into the background of reality once more. Then transformation was not finished through.
Across the front of Aethel's body, the fur of their coat started to change into something more fluffy and soft while two pairs of moth like wings that seemed to share the color changing nature of their mane and tail sprouted from their back and draped over their body like a regal cape. Aethel remained still for some time more as things settled down and the transformation finalized... but at last they opened their eyes once more and looked themselves over.
Aethel ponders ways to get their name out there on Galbar due to being something of a late comer. They spend a little too long looking at the third and smallest orbital body of Galbar before tucking the plans for it and the role it might play in 'making an impact' away for another time.
It is around this time where the Heart of Nightmares that Aethel consumed in order to survive the fall of their cycle made itself known within their being... and rather then put it off any further, Aethel began the process of infusing it into their body fully as a new aspect. They also took advantage of the situation to change their fundamental appearance in order to reflect the fact that they no longer have the original aspect they were born with and instead have two new ones.
Start AP/MP 5/5
3 MP on Aspect: Nightmares The Dreamers Moon and the Dreamers Fruit are both creations of Aethel's that have never shied away from the darker and more haunting experiences that sleep can provide. Aethel is simply embracing the other side of the Dream coin.
It was those days of which the world was young and growing that time sputtered or else flew upon lines invisible. So much wrought, so much destroyed, so much forgotten and memorialized. The beating of hearts moved ever on, through death and life. Through purchase and degradation. This was how the many toiled in the world ruled by the mysterious divine. Did they listen? Did they care? Was it the whims and mercies they showed that designed them sufficiency?
None truly knew.
Ema awoke with a groan and then frantic anxiety. She exploded forth, wrestling free of her blackened tomb. Doing so ushered forth a cloud of ash and dust so thick she could not see and before she knew it, she was falling again- Out onto singed grass and dying embers. It took her a moment to collect herself before she rose and looked around. Her clothes had burned away in the fire, leaving herself wholly unclad to the world. She was caked in soot and ash, with several charcoal stains smudged onto her metallic chassis. Grumbling about the soot and trying to rub it to no avail, she turned to the burnt out house and forge.
It was all gone, down to the very foundations. Nothing could be salvaged and this thought struck Ema with cold clarity. Bitterness and resentment welled up inside of her, such new feelings she did not know how to truly deal with. It sent her into a whir of thought and motionless. She stood as still as a mountain and did not move, even as the sun set giving way to primal dark. The smoldering embers glowed like small stars as the Aelos wracked with uncountable guilt and anger at the loss of the Maker’s home, passed out, as her body gave out from sheer tiredness.
She awoke to a strange sensation. The night was giving way to dawn as Ema felt herself being dragged. With a shocked fright she sat up to see the strangest sight she had ever seen. A creature with two mighty legs, a large bulbous face with only a long strand of hair running down the middle.
Voices broke her concentration and she was made keenly aware, as the upper half of a person, somehow attached to the lower face, looked back at her, holding a rope in its hand- That that had not been it actual face and she was looking at some amalgamation between beast and the pointed ears.
“It wakes.” He said in a low voice. “I was getting tired of pulling it.” He followed up with a relieved sigh.
In front of him came two more, trotting to a halt around her. One was a woman and the other a man, both armed with bows and spears. Their hair was braided, adorned with some feathers. The woman was especially strange, for her hair was shaved on both sides, leaving a long blonde strip down the middle. She held a scar on her face that ran from her cheek down to her chin, with fiercer eyes to boot. The man was otherwise plain, despite the fact they walked on four legs and were impossibly tall.
“You always tire.” The woman sneered before poking Ema with the butt of her spear. “Up. I won’t say it again.” Her voice seemed to growl with authority and Ema at once stood. Shame coiled up inside of her, the mere thought of being commanded so easily! This person was no Maker!
“Impressive!” The other man exclaimed. “We’ll get a good deal for this one. Not everyday you find something quite like this. Say…” He looked her all over then lingered on her eyes, “What even are you? Can you speak?”
The woman snorted and cantered off saying, “It doesn’t matter, she’s shiny and they like shiny. Now let's get moving! We have others to meet and the morning is cool.”
The man with the rope, which she now realized was tied around her arms, bounding them together, began to walk and Ema had no choice but to follow. The other man, who she could only really define by his simple face, brown braided hair, sun kissed skin and inquisitive eyes- kept staring.
Try as she might to find her own voice, it did not wish to say anything. The other man rolled his eyes and muttered, “Damn slaves, talk too much and then not at all.” Before he trotted off to catch up with the woman. Her rope was tugged and the pace they went doubled.
Ema wondered what she had gotten herself into now.
Ema wakes up in her burnt out home, unscathed besides dirtiness. She is frozen by the Maker’s home being destroyed and this inaction eventually prompts her to pass out. When she wakes up she is bound and being taken somewhere by a group of Centaurs.
Oa’qeisskesi walked through the plains northeast, sighing along the way before taking a stop. Sitting on a rock in the middle of the grasslands she looked around. This area of the continent was rather calm, at least thinking for a moment she heard the black sun say “So… we met a crazy blood deity. Who after seeing us make an abyssal pool just went completely off her mind i guess being paranoid helps sometimes… not counting also the stuff we see in the distance while hiding.” Oa shook her head saying “You forgot Ashvelen…” “What is up with her?” he replied back “She is… kinder…” Oa said crossing her arms thinking about her he seemed to remain quiet while he wasn't manifested in a form she could see. He was talking in her head; it was a feeling she wasn't much accustomed to even after what felt like eons. He then said after a moment of silence “well… she seems like an outlier.” “everyone seems like that…” Oa said under her breath hiding from him he then said “well… we nearly could have ended up in that crazy woman dungeon or died.” Oa rolled her eyes saying “she is extremely volatile emotionally. I wouldn't say she is crazy, just unstable.” “So be it… but what happens if we meet someone with more ill intentions?” He asked Oa, thinking about the possibility.
After a moment of thinking the winds were feeling chilly through the gaps in her helmet she then said “Not much that we can do… except if we…” she looked to the side thinking before saying “I have an idea” “Oh i see it… good… also i think that can be useful in our problems.” He replied after a short moment to Oa feeling conflicted again before sighing and saying “Let us do this…” Holding her hand she quickly slid her hand into her chest as it seemed to meld into it bringing a piece of black stone from within her looking for a flat surface. She looked at the boulder with a gesture of her hand. She cut it in half, throwing it to the side. Putting the black lump on it she cut her hands and started pouring power from the abyss into the flat rock where the lump stood as it absorbed the abyssal energy. After a moment she sighed with some worry, since forging wasn't something she was used to but definitely was complicated even if she used her powers to speed up the process.
She punched the lump as the sound of metal echoed, turning it somewhat into more solid forms; after it she used her powers together with some brute force to continue forging through the day. The material slowly took shape turning into a series of dark metallic scales and lumps of metal also stuck to them. Oa breathed heavily before grabbing the material she then said “time for the final part.” Imbuing much more power into it she soon the scales seemed to melt again into a liquid running into her skin. They formed a pattern akin to a tattoo primitive and esoteric around her body and skin, her armor falling off leaving her exposed as the tattoo went to her hair she stopped concentrating. Looking down she then concentrated as the ink suddenly jumped from her skin forming a plated armor around her body, chest, shoulders, legs. The scales meanwhile took form in her arms belly, legs mixing with the plated to form a combination of both. Looking at herself she then moved her arms. It was flexible and useful with a gesture the scaled armor seemed to rise and lower to allow for maneuverability or absorption. Giving a nod the armor seemed liquid before returning to being a series of tattoos around her body looking at her now naked self she groaned before the armor returned “can be ink in my skin when I don't need it but I never bothered much with clothes… i will just ma-” “Why don't you take it?” She heard the sun interrupt. Taking a look north she saw a city with a castle in the distance she soon moved forward the winds were silent before screams could be heard.
The city burned and the castle soon began to collapse as ashes began to settle in a now silent city Oa walked through the former residency of an oligarchy. Taking a look she grabbed some clothes that seemed interesting she then said “consider it temporary until i find something better… i will probably be using the armor more…” The sun was in front of her glowing in a dark mood “well it was good for us all to feast more and to feed our…” “Addiction…” She whispered he then replied almost with a sigh. “I wouldnt call our need for that... using that word...” Oa stared to the side where the sun stood. “let us move on” She replied soon, leaving the castle walking down the hall of dead defenders. Looking around she insulated, somewhat her thoughts, preferring to be alone at the moment walking through the city she saw many corpses as houses burned in the background stopping for a moment. She saw a mother and her daughter while there was no damage in their bodies; their souls being drained seemed to leave them as limp bodies in a street filled with them approaching Oa closed both their eyes taking a step back to see them both she took a deep breath closing her own eyes before moving away. Taking a look again at her armor raising her hands the scales and gauntlet was beautiful in design as she left through the gatehouse she said to herself. “...Burden”
Oa’qeisskesi creates the artifact ‘burden’ a armor to protect herself in case of fighting with beings with powers of gods. At the same time she debates with the blacksun about the gods of the world after which she burns a city and moves on in doubt that still perseveres.
5mp/5ap 5mp used to make burden an artifact and armor for herself used for protection crafted from abyssal materials. (couldn't find a good image but thank you vec for helping.)