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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Double Capybara
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Double Capybara Thank you for releasing me

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A brief memoir.


















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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Dawnscroll
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Dawnscroll Ordo ad Logos

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Elysium

Level 9 Realta Hero
21 Khookies


“Did you ever think they would act in such a way?” Elysium asked.

Logos looks down from atop their mountain at the scene before her. Two armies clad in armor stand facing off with one another over a great distance. The soldiers on either side stand alert; this is what they train for—and they are professionals at what they do.

His daughter paced back and forth restlessly along the cliff. “They tear each other apart like wolves. They act no different than the animals, but you saw fit to give them far greater power—power of thought—than any animal.”

The Lord of Order turned to her. “I never intended them to turn out like this,” he declared. “I have grown sick,” he whispered, glaring at her. “—Sick from watching these creatures feed, and destroy, and kill, and ruin what we worked so hard to build!

“What would you have me do?” Elysium barks. “Would you have me destroy them? I can not find it in my heart to be so cruel.”

“I would have you stop them. If that is what it takes.”

A low rumble draws their attention to the field below. The two armies stomp their spears and shields into the dirt, creating a thunderous echo that fills the valley.

“I cannot govern them,” Logos stated firmly. “They will never grow on their own I do.”

Elysium nodded her head towards the battlefield. “Look at them,” she said, scowling. “They are infants. They are temperamental and they need guidance.” Furrowing her eyebrows, she gave her father a stubborn glare. “You are allowing them to suffer at their own hands needlessly.”

“And how would you make them listen? Through force—through intimidation?”

“Yes.”

Ruffling his wings and turning back to the battlefield, Logos shook his head. “That kind of rule wouldn’t change any of this. You haven’t thought this through.”

Elysium’s eyes narrow. “And you have?”

Logos stared back back at her impassively. “Yes,” he says quietly.

The Realta princess steps back from her tone. She looks down at the two armies about to clash. “I can not stay here and watch this,” she says, taking off into the sky.

Logos watched her go before turning back to the battle, watching the armies clash. He could feel each reverbration of spear upon shield, his eyes looking amongst their numbers for something only he could see, and the cries and yells coming up from the field fell into the quiet hum of his mind.

With great difficulty, he turned his back on the scene and flew to catch up with his daughter. The little realta spurred herself on, increasing her speed whenever her father increased his and keeping a distance between them. Logos gave the faintest of sighs, knowing that the tension that had been steadily growing between them would only worsen now.

He followed Elysium north as the landscape changed to white beneath them. Snowfall blankets the hills and trees, and Logos against the falling snow and cold winds, spotting a village of only a dozen houses down below.

Elysium angled towards the nearby mountain. They always stayed in mountains. The humans of Arcon rarely climbed them, and they rarely saught anything other than the world beneath the clouds.

Landing on a plateau near the top of the mountain, Elysium folded her wings away and walked towards a rock overhang sheltering a part of the cliff from the snow. Logos landed behind her, the snow crunching under his feet, and shook his wings before tucking them to his sides. His daughter didn’t even glance at him, her eyebrows still furrowed together in an ill mood. Silently, he walked to the dry ground, knelt down, and shut his eyes.

Elysium hesitated back by the cliffside. The buildings in the town down below glow orange through the white snow fog, oil light coming from their windows and lantern light from wooden posts outside their doors. Only a pair of figures persist to work outside in the snow: a farmer, and his son, the father holding an axe and the son placing blocks of wood for him to split on a stump. Both were shivering.
Turning away from it, Elysium goes to rest with her father, who stretched a wing over her when she gets close, sheltering her from the snow. She lay down with a frown, closed her eyes, and tried to fall asleep.

But she couldn't.

She lingered on the border, slipping in and out of consciousness, and she did not know whether it was because of the biting cold or the shouts of the battlefield still echoing in her ear. Shivering, she glanced over at her father to see him resting calmly, his features relaxed and the sternness gone from them.

Something restless stirred inside Elysium. She got up and stepped out from under her father's wing. The sky, darkened with the absence of the moon and stars, let out a low wailing sound as its winds carried a blizzard. Elysium checked the horizon; the sun hadn’t even fully set.

Elysium looked down to see most of the lights in the village have gone out. Only a scarce number of torches remain lit—the windows of the homes they sit in front of dark.

Opening her wings, Elysium flew down to the village, landing in the soft snow of the fields around it. She looks at it for a while, making sure no one is up, before walking towards its houses. The roofs are white—covered in snow—and held up by sod and stone walls.

The Realta wanders to the center of the village and stops to look around. It felt strange standing in a town, even if no one is around. A whistling breeze rolls by, whipping her hair in her face. She walks over to one of the homes with a lantern out front, peering inside a window. Two villagers lie wrapped in each others arms under a large wool blanket.

There’s a crunch of snow—footsteps that aren’t hers behind her—and she turns around to see the farmer’s son from earlier, staring at her and levitating a holding.

“Hello?” he asks hesitantly, looking at the Realta's wings.

Elysium freezes, averting her eyes from his.

“Are.... are those wings?” he persists, stepping closer to her.

“Yes.”

The boy blinks, a grin spreading across his lips. “Oh, I’ve never seen anyone with those before!” he said, smiling at her. His smile faded, replaced by a curious look. “Do you have a name?”

“Elysium,” she answered.

The wind picks up. Elysium looked up at the sky, before noticing the child was shivering. “Why are you outside?” she asks, curious.
“Need more firewood from the crib,” the boy says, his teeth chattering as he pointed to a small shed just behind her. “Blankets aren’t thick enough, and my dad hasn’t been well as of late.”

“Is he sick?”

The boy shook his head. “Just old.” He walked past Elysium to the crib, opening it up and grabbing a cloth sling from inside to carry the logs.

She looked around at the homes. “How many people live here?”

He worked as he talked, levitating logs onto the sling. “There’s the Stones and the Pears, the Waxs and the Smiths—they’re the large family, they own three houses—and the roofer, who never tells anyone where he came from. Some of the kids make up stories, about how he—” The child cuts off. “Sorry, I’m rambling. I need to get back before the fire dies.”

He grabbed the sling by its handles, carrying half a dozen logs in it as he walks back past her.

“Wait,” Elysium calls.

He stops and turns to look at her.

Elysium's eyes glow and the dim flame in the lantern the boy was holding brightened, becoming twice as big and bright yellow. “Use this to light the fire, it will keep you and your father warm.”

The child looks at the lantern in surprise before turning and nodding gratefully to her. He turns and runs back home, almost as if he’s afraid the enchanted flame Elysium gave him will disappear if he doesn’t use it quick.

She flew away from the village incase the boy tried to come back. A warmth filled up her chest and a smile tugged at her lips—the first genuine one in years. Spreading her wings, she turned to fly back to the mountain, the freezing gales pecking at her feathers as she skims the mountain slope, climbing up to the overhang where her father still knees. Snow obscured her vision, but she still knows the landscape intimately from walking it long ago.

Rising up over the cliff she had left, she stopped and hovers, seeing her father standing, his skin stark amidst the white snow.

“Welcome back, daughter,” he said, a ghost of a smirk on his face. “Have a pleasant night time stroll?”

Gliding down, Elysium sees the look in her father’s eye and knows he saw everything. “I met a child of this era,” she says evenly. “I have never really met one before.”

“Well of course not, you aren’t supposed to,” Logos reminded her. “That was my rule, remember?”

“It was, but I grew curious.” Elysium bowed her head. “I am sorry. It was wrong of me to break it... but... the boy, did you see his expression when you gave him that flame?”

The warm vanished from Logos's face. “Yes.”

“Don’t you see how we could help them? Our magic is a thousand times theirs, and we can help them with spells they could not ever dream of concieving. You already keep the moon and sun in cycle, you turn the seasons, you bring the wind. Imagine what we could do to make their lives better—”

“—And you must know that is not the Natural Order!” Logos suddenly shouts. His voice echoed across the hills, rumbling the snow from the mountains like thunder. His daughter stands across from him quietly, unfazed by his outburst. “This world must be stronger than that of my siblings. It must grow, virtue and vice, unhampered by me. I cannot force it."

“No, no we can't. But we can guide them.” Elysium gave him a stern look, like he was the one childish. “You told me to be a mother to them. That has to mean more than just ensuring they live. It means raising them and teaching them.”

“I’m sorry, but the answer is still no.”

Elysium ground her teeth, turning and walking back to the overhang. “I’m finding it hard to trust your judgement in this, but I will.”

As her father went back to his kneel, Elysium breathed a sigh of relief, turning to look down the mountain side. The blizzard is picking up, and for a brief moment she wondered whether the boy she met was warm enough in this weather. The fire she gave him would dwindle by morning and despite the harsh cold, it was still early winter.

“Have you frozen stiff, Princess?” Logos asked from under the overhang. Her father rarely used that title. It was a subtle reminder of his hierarchy. “I will think of something to put your mind at ease,” he conceded in an attempt to soothe her.

Elysium nodded as she walked over to the overhang, but her eyes said she did not believe her. Logos moved down beside her. A aetherial wing extends to wrap around her, and he turns to see Elysium looking defiantly away from her.

“You look cold,” Logos said, trying to meet her eyes.

“Thank you,” she mutters. She shifts her body and rests her head in his lap. “I wonder if that boy will tell anyone else what he saw,” Elysium says, glancing at her father out of the corner of her eye.

Logos tilted his head ever so slightly. “I am in doubt that anyone would believe him.”

“Humans have greatly exaggerated their myths about the winds, the sun, and the aurora. I wonder if we’ll show up in folk tales a few years from now.” Elysium stifles a giggle, nudging her father. “I may have exposed our existence.”

“No harm will come of tales told around a campfire,” Logos said, shaking his head at his daughter’s imagination.

“No, I suppose not,” Elysium says, a hint of disappointment in her voice.

The two of them huddled together in the cold, listening to the howling winds toss the snow about with fury. The night seemed to last forever, and Logos stayed up long after his daughter fell into her slumber, wondering how the people in the village survived in such a harsh environment.

He considered for a moment, using the same fire spell that she gave to the boy down in the village, but he dashed the idea; the cold couldn’t kill him, and the light would disturb Elysium. Yet, it serves as an unwanted reminder of his time spent alone, before the sun, when the world was so very dark and cold.

He thought about shutting his eyes, but then remembered he could never sleep. And so he lay there for hours at his daughter’s side with his wings wrapped around her, thinking, because it’s all he could do.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by LokiLeo789
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LokiLeo789 No

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Sin, The 7 Sins, The Sinner, Pride, Gluttony, Wrath Envy, Sloth, Lust, Greed



The silence of the labor room made Sin's blood as cold as the autumnal air that crept through an open window. Bereft of any wind the leaves outside hung limp until they fell of their own accord, there was no whispering noise or rustling. It was as if nature conspired to keep him in the dark, not daring to whisper the reassurance he craved. Then hurried footsteps and the 'whoosh of linen drapes brought his heart racing as fast as a recently launched arrow. His head snapped in an instant from gazing out of window with unfocused eyes to the formica of seven midwifes. Each carrying with them a bundle of squirming crimson cloth.

"My Enas, our lord have been born to us!" a midwife proclaimed.

Amartía padded over to the midwives, nervous energy rushing through his veins. A single midwife the oldest, stepped forward. "Your first born." she murmured as the baby was carefully placed in his arms. 

Tiny fingers curled around his pinky. He watched as  the newborn peered through brand new eyes at what must have been such a strange world after life in the womb. The babies legs kicked in a tiny jagged motions, looking for that resistance they were oh so used to, but found nothing but air. Amartía couldn't help but wonder how unsettling or relieving that may have been. Then he begins to fret and cry, searching for a woman that no longer belonged to this world.

"My first born." he muttered, seemingly astounded by the meer thought of it. This boy was his Pride. It was not only the heir to his throne, but his representative, the head that would guide Amestris in the future. "Orgullo." Amartía pronounced. That would be the name of his firstborn. The midwives bowed in honor and respect of Orgullo, and carefully took the baby from his outstretched hands.

Midwife after midwife stepped forward, offering him an chance to hold, and name his children, which was a custom of this world. His second born, another male, was to be named Acedia, who was blessed with an unusual colored hair; green. His third born was yet again a male, and was to be named Gulam, who seemed to share his fathers hairlessness. His fourth born, was thankfully a female, and was to be named Zilévo. Sin's fifth born was another female, and was given the name Lagneía. His sixth born was a male, and was to be name Ira, as opposed to his younger brother, the seventh born, who was named Codicia.

Each and every child of his was imbued with a Sin, but thier souls weren't taken by the Vice, instead, it absorbed it, and was made it apart of themselves. Baby in hand, the midwives left the room, preparing the babies for feeding and sleep as would a normal child would. Sin found himself alone in his thoughts one more. Xerxes were growing at an alarming rate, to his surprise, and to the surprise of those around him. Granted his divine presence seemed to accelerate the work, it was still astonishing.

Xerxes grew not only because of his presence, but because of the trade network it was being build upon. Thier were twelve tribes in the land between the Ironheart mountains and the White Sea, all in which who came together under the banner of Amestris. The Ansharin, Kwenda, Ngarlak, Yala, Jarrah, Akit'r, Koa, Nortooga, Djilyaro, Binalku, Jakwela, and finally, the A'aninin.

Each tribe had settled in locations that proved to be be important points of trade for Xerxes. The Ansharin, Kwenda and Ngarlak lived near the mountain, making them his main provider of Obsidian and Stone. Wood was provided by the Yala and Jarrah, and soon the creative fruit that had appeared in the country side. Leather and its craft was provided by the Koa, Nortooga and Djilyaro. Lastly, the Jakwela, and A'aninin were fisherman, and provided the rest with the fish of the sea. In return, Xerxes pumped out mass quantities of Obsidian weapons. Stone and wood was turned into building material and weapons, leather became armor, and grips for blades. Fish was eaten and enjoyed by the people. Domestic trade became the bases for the Amestrian economy, and constantly provided him with the raw materials needed to build Xerxes up.

This whole process was made easy because of the loving obedience of the Popei. Each of the twelve tribes was led by a single Popei or chieftain. The chief was selected by the people, he was a man trustworthy and strong in the eyes of his tribesmen. The Popei enforced his doctrines and mandates instead of a police force, this allowed for smother interaction overall, and made the people happy, thier voice could be heard through thier chief. Popei were allowed to keep thier headship for as long as they wished, in fact, they were allowed to make any decisions that affected thier local spheres of influence.

Thinking on the matter also reminded him that he had a Requiem set up for the next full moon. The twelve chieftains would commute to Xerxes in order to speak on the matters that concerned the people and the land. Great.

In hindsight though, raw materials and food wasn't the only thing being brought to his city state, men also became a commodity. Men from all walks of life, traveled to Xerxes to join the Armies of Amestris, appropriately named, the Ejército Mundo. Most men came to join his army professionally, but thier was a population of domestic fighters, men who could be called to fight in volunteer service. This and many other things had to be taken into consideration when building a military.

The very first step that should be taken when creating a military is to decide what the goal of that military is. Sin knew this oh so well. A military first and foremost existed to defend its.nation, but its goals were usually more complex. The exact goal of ones military directly corresponded to ones national geopolitical situation, its enemies or potential enemies, foreign policy, and national resources.

Sin's military was being create to conquer quickly, fast and effectively. His military doctrine had to be heavily based around this.

Sin also had to make choice whether to use conscripted force, a professional force, or some combination of the two. There is no clear cut answer, and this decision had a variety of factors to consider, including non-military factors such as the political stance on conscription in his own nation.

His nation was a modern force with advancing military technology, so it was important to note that modern systems required long periods of training, for some systems, more than a year's worth of training was required. A minor setback. Fortunately, a conscript could be useful with only a few months of training. Advanced technology lended itself more to a professional force than a conscript force, which is why he offered so much to those who made war a profession.

"But saying that a volunteer force is automatically superior to conscript force is too simplistic." Sin mumbled as he plopped down in his thrown. There were many ways to create a well-trained conscript force that was familiar with advancing military technology. One approach was to keep a professional cadre at all times, mostly at a officer level. When war broke out, this ensured that there was motivated, professional nucleus to lead and train conscripts on the field.

Unfortunately, this all meant nothing compared to the might of the gods. No matter how prepared and organized his milliary was, the gods were always eons ahead, not to mention that his nation lacked a key force. Magic. Without that, he military campaign couldn't last long, there was no doubt about that. "DAMMIT!" he roared, throwing all his frustration into one scream. All the gods were imperfect fools created by imperfect primordials who in turn would create imperfect mortals. The cycle of imperfection only breaded Sin. The gods would no doubt frown upon his plans for conquest. Funny how in the end, the primordials sowed the downfall of the rest by themselves. It was a surprisingly humbling realization, but Sin wasn't humble. He needed magic, and if the gods wouldn't give him magic, he would take it from them. So was they cycle of Sin.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Kho
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Kho art & loss

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Thanatos VI


Chief-Warrioress Elia looked down coldly at Bet, clutching the criminal by the hair in one hand, and Bato's spear in the other. Her Eliads - once Batowids - stood around her, and so too did the other Chief-Warriors and the tribals.
'This traitor has wounded our hearts,' she said with a trembling voice, 'and she has shattered our world and our link to the Moon-Mother. For the likes of her there can be but one punishment, do you not think?' she looked at Orif and Palo who were pale with shock and fury.
'One punishment!' Palo roared, and the cries of the people rose up soon after his. They wished for the blood of this treacherous heathen, this slayer of the Moon-Mother's prophet.

'No!' Bet cried, 'you cannot. You cannot do that now, can you? For I carry within me his child.'
A hushed silence overcame the people and Elia scowled.
'To your tent will you be confined, and five warriors shall ensure your confinement until you put down your burden. And not a moment of rest will you be given thereafter, to the fury of the Moon-Mother will we condemn you,' with that, Elia shoved her away and commanded five of her Eliads to take Bet and detain her in her tent.
'And let not your eyes for a moment leave her, and when you tire, let another five take up your positions.'

Eskandar's body was taken down to the great river and washed clean of blood and gore. The evil woman had pierced his sanctified skin wherever she could find. His blessed neck was sliced, his back was cut and bruised, his arms and legs. Yet did he shine with the radiance of the divine. And they cleaned his hair and washed his beard and rolled him in many furs, and all the people marched in a great ceremony to the Ring, and there was the Prophet laid to rest. A great boulder was placed there to forever mark that sanctified earth where a being more god than man rested. TOBIA stayed in the encampment for some days after Eskandar was laid to rest, and then she left. And where that ancient ant went, none could tell, for she disappeared into the endless pages of history and was buried 'neath the endless sands of Time.

No more than a few hours passed after the ant's departure before the ugly divisions, held back by the Patriarch's presence, began to show.
'We are the children of Zekra, the first and most beloved of our Patriarch's life-mates, we are the ones worthy of inheriting him. His authority and his divine blessing, and his position must pass on to us!' it was Wezar, Zekra's sixth child, who was speaking, 'the Patriarchate is ours. The new Patriarch must certainly be a Zekrid!'
His words created an uproar.
'You cretin! We are all here children of the Patriarch, and no line is worthier of him than the others. Whether Zekrid or Beruwid you be, none we are all the Patriarch's children. So insult not our ears with your empty declarations,' Eril, third daughter of Beru, thus dismissed Wezar's words.
'It is only natural that you, who are of an inferior line, should wish to claim yourself equal to we who are far superior to you. Know your place, you Beruwid rat, and speak not unless you are permitted!' Wezar's words were met with much shock, and tempers were very quickly lost.

'Why! you dunderhead! Speak you thus of the Beruwids! Question you our furies and the purity and esteem of our line? Why, I shall show you!' and with that, Bish launched himself upon his half-brother and the scuffle quickly erupted into an all out riot as Zekrids sought to protect their brother and other Beruwids sought to stand up against Wezar's insults.

'Why! Stand down!' Wezar ordered, 'if my fellow Zekrids will not put you in your place, then I shall! I claim the Patriarchate mine, and I your new Patriarch! So stand down and know your place, you treacherous ones!' and this new declaration caused an even greater uproar, and those who were children of Cala launched themselves upon the upstart Wezar, and near all others.
Bish, at last, got his hands upon Wezar, but Wezar was older and stronger, and he put down the Beruwid quickly. And though he did not mean to cause his brother's death, he did bash him strongly to the ground whereon he smashed his head against a stone and swiftly gave up his spirit and died. And all was chaos for a long time until the Zekrids managed to untangle themselves from the fray and withdraw.

The others took their slain brother and swore vehemently to have vengeance against his murderers.
Seeing this, the Chief-Warriors brought the people together and attempted to restore calm.
'People, listen carefully, for we stand at the edge of an endless pit, and woe is ours should we willfully leap therein. News has reached us of the actions of Wezar, and he must be reprimanded, for his words are treacherous and his actions grave. And news has reached us of the Beruwid rage, and thought it is understandable, we must remain calm and united and uphold the Law of the Patriarch. Leave all thoughts of vengeance, for that shall bring us no good, and let us come together and do as the people of Maki do. Let us choose from amongst ourselves a Patriarch that we may remain upon the path of the Moon-Mother.'
'But who are you, Orif, that you may speak thus?' Wezar spoke up, 'you are but a child of Cala. You have no authority to punish and no authority to tell us how to choose a Patriarch!'
'Be quiet, damn you!' Elia snapped at the fool, 'have you not done enough damage?'
'By the Moon-Mother, Elia! you wrong me with these your words. I have but the good of our people at heart. What will come of us when we choose Patriarchs of their unworthy lines?' Wezar looked around him at the other Zekrids, and there seemed to be a fair number who sided with him on the matter.
'Boy! Speak no more, I am not so merciful as Orif here, and my patience not so great as Elia. Should I unleash myself upon you, you shall be as though you never were!' Palo gripped his spear and pointed it threateningly at Wezar.
'Woe!' Wezar shouted, 'you see this! You Zekrids! You allow this lesser creature to speak thus to one of you? You allow him to thus threaten my life? Why if the Patriarch were here, he would show this one no mercy!' and so the meeting devolved rapidly into one side hurling abuse at another, and thought Orif and Elia desperately tried to calm things down it was to no avail, and the factions lurched once more upon one another in an almighty brawl.
'People! Cease your foolishness! The Law! The Law!' Orif roared, but even as he spoke a large stone struck him a glancing blow on the side of the head, and he was dead before he hit the ground.
As quickly as it had begun, the commotion died down, and all that could be heard was an unholy sound - and it came from Palo.
And Elia realised, in that moment, that all was lost. The near-maddened Palo clutched at his brother's body and let his rage and grief be known, and the Zekrids slowly withdrew as the gravity of what had happened slowly descended upon them. Only Elia remained, and she spoke.
'Know this I declare myself and my children, and these life-mates and children of Bato, who are as my own, free of and uninvolved in this conflict. We are innocent of the blood that has been shed and the blood that will be shed. Involve us not in your warring,' and with that, she retired to her tent and commanded all her children and life-mates, and all the children and life-mates of Bato, to have no part in the feud.

Palo swiftly brought the Beruwids and Calawids together under his leadership, and many of the children of Seri and Tse and Anja and Kae joined him too. Those who remained put themselves under Elia's protection and declared themselves innocent of all that was happening.

The conflict raged, and the Zekrids suffered a great many loss - the self-professed Patriarch Wezar was among the first to fall. Palo himself drove the spear that Eskandar had given him through his brother's heart. And that spear would drink amply of Eskandar blood.
Zekra herself, filled with untold misery and grief, soon lay dying in Elia's tent, the other life-mates of Eskandar sitting miserably around her. And with her death, Palo grew ever more adamant to destroy the Zekrids altogether. Though Beru often went and spoke with her maddened son, he would pat his mother gently on the head and tell her that she had no reason to worry, he would soon cleanse the tribe of the traitors.

When news reached Elia that her eldest child, Ogos, had met his demise in a Beruwid attack on some Zekrids, she rose and went to Palo. Or the Patriarch, as he now called himself.
'Listen to me Palo. I have told you before that me and mine are uninvolved in this conflict and innocent of the Eskanadran blood being shed. And here a child of mine has been killed. I wish after no vengeance and shall pray the Moon-Mother forgive you all. I bid you keep the evil of your war from me and mine,' and though he was full of resentment, he promised to do his all to give her what she wanted.

It was not long before Palo's anger turned upon others. The Zekrids had been so weakened that nothing much could be said of them anymore, and his anger and grief had given way to paranoia and suspicion. As children of Seri and Tse and Kae and Anja were indiscriminately targetted, the encampment filled to bursting with fear, and his paranoia soon reached other encampments which had capitulated to the Prophet-Patriarch in bygone days. And so began Palo's reign of terror, and the blood of the people flowed as forcefully as did the River of the Eskandars which ran through the great prairie-lands. And perhaps to Palo the blood which he shed was indeed as water.

There came to Elia those who beseeched her to step in and put an end to Palo's tyranny and bloodshed, and her younger brother Hubal - one of the few remaining Zekrids - was at their helm.
'Oh greatest warrioress! You pride of the Zekrids and pride of all Eskandars. None but you can put an end to this madman's rule. He has reached a level of haughtiness and elevation something wicked!' Hubal declared.
'I have neither a cow nor a bull in this conflict. It is not of my concern,' was her cold response.
'Sister, listen to me. Do you not remember how our father brought you close to him and entrusted you with what he entrusted no other? And do you not remember how he brought you and elevated you and made you master over the Batowid host after Bato? And was it not known to all that Bato was the Patriarch's inheritor? And so you became Chief-Warrioress Elia of the Eliads, one of our tribal elders and greatest warriors and with a voice and authority amongst us. And it is the time that you rise up and take up your neglected duties and responsibilities once more - 'tis our right upon you to demand as much! For it is not you who was given this responsibility, but the Patriarch himself, and it is not yours to relieve yourself of what the Patriarch never relieved you!'
'Begone from my sight, Hubal. You shan't drag me into this, and to what the foolish Wezar brought upon you all. By the Moon-Mother, you reap nothing more than the evil you did sow when first Bish was slain and then that colossal Orif was brought down by the lowest blow. Of this conflict I freed myself long ago, and of all the blood that has been spilt declare myself innocent!'
'Woe unto you! Woe! You free yourself of nothing through this hellish silence of yours! For in your silence you have taken a stance - a stance that allows the further shedding of blood! And by the Moon-Mother, when the matter reaches murder, and blood flows above the nose, having no position is the coward's position!' and with those cutting words, Hubal turned away and left with those who had come with him, and Elia was left to her thoughts.

And yet that was not the last of it, for it seemed that none wished that she be left in peace. Nay, all wished to drag her in! People from far off tribes and camps, who had for long been under the suzerainty of the Eskandars, came to her and pledged allegiance and endless loyalty and obedience to her as the Matriarch. And they bid her come to them to free them from the tyrant's yoke. Even so, she rejected them and demanded they leave her be.
'By the Moon-Mother!' one of them declared, 'if you shan't come to us then we shall gather up all our people and all our supporters and all who support you, and we shall all come hither at once - whatever the cost!'
'I beseech you leave me be!' she cried, 'I have no desire for your loyalty or your allegiance, and I wish not to be your Matriarch. My heart's one desire is that you go and never return. Be grateful for what you have - for what makes you know that should I come with you, you will be freed from what you suffer? What makes you know that it shan't be even worse for you? Do you not know that such rebellion and treason against a Patriarch only brings about curses and more suffering for all?' and though she spoke with them long and besought them leave, yet they persisted until she reluctantly agreed.

News of this eventually reached Palo and he erupts with a fury and began plotting for Elia's downfall, and the downfall of all who followed her. Yet before he could clamp down upon her and her followers in the camp, warning reached her and she immediately brought her family and supporters together and made her escape.
Even so, Palo was not deterred, and he brought his many warriors together and gave chase with earnest. And in the Little Big-Trees did Elia lie in wait and ambush Palo's lumbering force. and dealt the Patriarch there a defeat which quickly reminded him why she was known far and wide as Elia the Warrioress, why her father had, in bygone days, elevated her to the rank of Chief-Warrioress in Bato's stead. And victorious did she march to the safety of friendly camps.

The rule of Eskandar thus split in two, those who pledged allegiance to Palo, and those who declared Elia their Matriarch. And though uneasy peace reigned for a while, soon messengers came to her from the main encampment beseeching her to march out and end the rule of Palo forever, to reunite the realm of the first Patriarch and lead his people into a new age of prosperity and peace. Once more she refused, demanding they return and make peace with their life under their new Patriarch.
'Heed us, oh Matriarch, you will find amongst us a great many supporters. All are ready to rise up, all they need is your coming and your leadership. March forth with your warriors, and you will find warriors rising up in your support everywhere!'
'This will not sway me! Return, I say! This conflict is done and I shall do nothing to reignite it!' and though that was her position, she found that those whom she now dwelled among were of a different mind.
'Come Matriarch, you freed us from that Palo's yoke, will you deny these good people that same blessing? We are strong and many, let us up and aid our oppressed brothers!' in exasperation and disbelief and some anger, she turned on them.
'By the Moon-Mother! What am I to you? You name me your Matriarch and pledge allegiance to me, and you give your unfaltering oaths that you shall not disobey me what I command you - and when I command you disobey!? What are you people? What am I to you? By the Moon-Mother, if you do this, then you do it without me, and may the Moon-Mother then rid me of you and followers such as you, and may she give you a leader worthy of your likes!'

And against her protestations they prepared for war, and Elia was not one to let her warriors fight without her. Though she let them know that they disobeyed her by doing this, she reluctantly prepared and reluctantly marched forth with them, tearful that yet more blood was to be spilt. And even as she marched forth, Palo discovered the plotters and executed their ring-leaders. And he so frightened them and blackmailed them with threats to their families and lives that they unwillingly marched forth with him to fight the Matriarch - for they were a people of little faith, and they did not think their families and live worth sacrificing that the Matriarch be victorious. When the news reached Elia she rose up and said some mighty terrifying words to her followers.
'Verily the Moon-Mother has heard my complaints! Verily my prayers are ere long answered!' and in the battle that took place between the Matriarch and the Patriarch, the two mighty children of Eskandar met on the field, and with Palo's spear buried deep within her chest, Elia gave up the spirit there.

And thus did Palo regain his rule over the Eskanadran lands. Many of Elia and Bato's family were handed to him, whereon they were immediately executed. But as is always the case with fugitives, some managed to escape. And so ends the beginning of the Eskandars. Future generations would tell how the maddened Palo later declared his great father a god and own life-mate of the Moon-Mother, the Sun-Father, and how he - Palo! - was their very own child and greatest of all mortals. And future generations tell also of the fiery haired prophetess who many years later came to the tribe and claimed to be descended of the Patriarch through the greatest of his sons, that legendary Bato, and how she was rejected. But what is that, good reader, to us? For these are mere tales and myths and legends of the ancients.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Double Capybara
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Double Capybara Thank you for releasing me

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The Demigod of Secrets

Level: 1
Might: 1



The Muse. Weaver of Dreams.
Beauty (Stories, Colors, Aesthetic)


Might: 12
Free Point: 1




Ilunabar had just finished her latest work, a collection of memories. Recently she was convinced such thing was necessary, and that there would come a time when mementos like these would be useful.

“I still wonder the why of that one odd sound” she said, looking at her Dreamweaver.

She realized however that this issue had already consumed too much of her time. Other issues were at hand, like the heroines, the grand parade and the city of Xerxes.

“Perhaps it would be best if I paid a second visit to there. Not only do I need to check the results of my actions, but I feel like playing a bit around there can help to ease my mind.”

Later, on her way to the city, she ended up finding something far too curious to ignore. The Demi-God Lazarus was apparently sneaking around in the western lands beyond the Ironheart. It felt odd that he would be there, especially considering where Ilunabar last saw him.

Losing no time, the muse landed on the ground and walked to his side. As simple observation didn’t bring any light to his curious behavior, she decided to drop her concealment and greet him properly.

“Hello Lazarus.” She said casually.

Lazarus nearly jumped in surprise, but he suppressed himself. A simmering frustration, if anything, overtook him. He needed a way to detect when he was being spied on. At the very least, he thought, it wasn’t Amartia.

“Hello, Ilunabar, I presume?” he responded, hefting his pack of essentials. It very well seemed obvious he had his fair share of fruit carried with him, the loosened straps holding the top shut not doing much to conceal the vast majority of the contents.

“You are right. Usually, Demi-Gods can be a bit confused about us, but I see you are already quite aware.” It was a bit of a contrast if compared to a few others who she had met. “Now, I’m sorry if this is too much of an invasion, but really, I cannot help but to be curious about this situation. What brings you here, to this quasi-deserted part of Galbar?”

“Funny question. I could tell you a variety of things, and you wouldn’t be able to tell which is true. So. Here’s my version. I’m leaving Xerxes, simple enough. Reasons? Keeping to myself.” Lazarus responded, a hint of madness seeping into his voice as he pointlessly riddled.

“If what you tell is the truth, then I would say you made a good decision. If you value your own privacy, Xerxes is the worst place in all of this planet where someone could be.” There was a hint of instability in his voice, but nothing that Ilunabar considered worrisome in her own twisted parameter. “But won’t the Eneas of Xerxes, the Demi-God Amartia, but a bit angry at such act? He is very possessive… from what I heard.”

“Hence why I covered my trail. He will not be finding me anytime soon, and I intend to keep it that way.” Lazarus responded, “And yes, privacy is certainly valuable in my, well, profession. Now, I wouldn’t bat an eye if Amartia happened to stumble in and go mad from an experiment, but the problem is he would likely kill me long before that happened.”

“It is okay to be worried, but I doubt he would be able to kill you.” At least, she never heard of anything like that. “But, listen, you are looking for a place where you can stay somewhat isolated from others, well, I do happen to have quite a handful of maps covering the peculiarities of this planet.”

She decided that doing a similar tactic to the one she used for Lifprasil should work. While Amartia was surely beyond the point of influence, Lazarus seemed to be malleable. “I could bring them to you, or you could come with me to my atelier in the Celestial Citadel. That is if you are interested in such things.”

Lazarus stopped to consider a moment. The help of a god would be useful. He had Vestec in the palm of his hand, sure, but it wouldn’t hurt to set up a network. Plus he had some experiments he needed the help of a god for. “The Celestial Citadel sounds nice. Consider me interested. What else do you have to provide?”

“To provide?” the goddess pondered for a bit “Well, I do these things on the whim, and right now I can’t think of much more. Well, maybe something will come up once we arrive at the Citadel. For now, just take my hand.” she invitingly extended her hand for the Demi-God.

“I have a particular study I wish to partake in mind, I will tell you about it once we reach the Citadel.” With that, Lazarus took the hand, using the other to hold his pack securely in place. And just to be sure, he adjusted his journal box so that it wedged between the armor plates, secure as it could be. It was something he couldn’t afford to drop.

Without ceremony, the goddess started to fly away from the ground at an increasing speed. Landmarks of Galbar like the Shimmering Sea, the Firewind Desert, and the Changing Plans, appeared and disappeared from their sight in a flash. And with a sudden stop, they arrived at the bejeweled flying fortress.

“Here, let’s come to my quarters. Usually, I like to welcome my guests with courtesies, but sadly my Divas are not with me today.” she said as she guided Lazarus across the empty halls of the Celestial Citadel. For a long distance it was mostly lifeless, empty halls and rooms, however, once they reached Ilunabar’s quarters, Lazarus would find himself in what looked like an art gallery.

Once the trip to the citadel was complete, and when they had landed, he retracted his hand. Folding them behind his back, he followed Ilunabar through the halls of the citadel. “Certainly more aesthetic appeal than Xerxes, that is for sure. Amartia is a good conqueror, sure, but what he makes pales in comparison to what is displayed in here.” Lazarus tactfully chose his compliments. No point on getting on the bad side of the goddess.

“Yeah. I mean, I was not the one to design the Citadel, but even so, it is only right that a Demi-God can’t match a deity of the crafts. But Xerxes was beautiful, in its own way.” She then giggled. “It didn’t have skyline roofs though” with a movement of her hand, the roof of the main room turned into the sky as seen on the nights of the arctic, despite it being still daytime outside.

He surveyed the roof, taking in the sight. “An excellent illusion. Vivid, as well. I’ve heard stories about it, before, but I’ve never seen it in person. Shall we get to business, or do you wish to talk some more?” He asked, keeping his arms folded behind his back as he turned his view from the false sky to the goddess.

He was surely more on point than Lifprasil. Ilunabar found it very peculiar that he was calling a simple meeting business. “Well, surely, it will be a bit hard to find all of my maps without Piena, but it shouldn’t take too long. You do not mind being alone for a short while, right? I know it is not right for a host to do that, but as I said, my Divas are not with me today.”

“It is fine. So far, I have not been beaten, have had my windpipe crushed, or have been seen as an asset -- The last one is as far as I know,” he said, “so you’ve been rather hospitable in comparison. Being left alone is no problem.” With that, he returned his view to the false sky, flipping up his visor to reveal the eyeless visage that his body provided.

Ilunabar chuckled “Well, I guess that when you bring this thing up, anything looks nice in comparison.” she clapped her hands. “Well, then I will get those maps right now. To your left, there is a kitchen if you feel hungry, and beyond it, there is the way to the balcony, if you feel like breathing fresh stratospheric air.” with that, the muse left for the innards of her atelier, where piles upon piles of canvases and paper were stored.

He watched her go, before returning to his own machinations. He idly pulled up his hand, whispering arcane words. An illusion appearing in his palm. It started off a shapeless, blackened blob. But he continued whispering. Carving into the arcane illusion. He worked rapidly, cutting off chunks from the dark and pulsating illusion. Soon, it began to take shape. He spoke clearly, in his language of the arcane, adding splotches of color to the illusion. Soon, he had the visage of a Kitsune and a wolf. He merged the two together.

And he flickered between the two. One mercy, one revenge. A live experiment. Something he’d need to do. One would heal, one would maul, and he would let it loose into the world to see what it did. To see what those between the stones of mortal and demigod would do when left to their own devices. But first, he needed to create it. And that power, to carve a new being, was not a power he had.

He awaited the return of the goddess, illusion in hand, still ever flipping between the two.

Ilunabar had completely forgotten how much Toun’s white ocean had changed in the landscape. In the end, most of her maps were rendered useless. Surely it would be very to tell Lazarus there is a nice discrete cave in a certain mountain, just for him to find out that the whole place was razed to the ground by Toun. Nevertheless, she grabbed a couple of maps from her archives, all up to date.

“Lazarus, I’m back.” She said, bringing about 20 sheets under her arm, before depositing them on a little crystal table.

“Oh?” She said, now noticing what the demi-god was doing. “What is that? Some sort of illusion.”

“An illusion, yes. Something I’ve been planning. The world is fraught with darkness and evil, wouldn’t you agree? Chaos hordes ravaging across the world. An embodiment of sin planning to rule the world. Plagues, fighting tribes. So many different things. So I’m curious as to what would happen if I were to plant a drop of peace into it. See what waves it makes. Study it. Would you be interested in assisting me?” He said, still holding the illusion as he went to survey the maps.

“Well, I have to confess I do not follow this whole duality of peace and evil.” but, it was a good chance to approach the Demi-God. “But, I am also a supporter of those who are curious, so yes, I will help you with this project.”

He opened his toothy maw in a facsimile of a smile, holding out the illusion. “You see, my plan is this. There are two sides to the same person. One merciful, and one wrathful. The merciful one heals the weak. The wrathful kills the ravagers, the looters, the pillagers. I’m curious as to how this would affect the tribes in the area we drop this person into. The wolf is wrath. The Kitsune is mercy.” he separated the two, showing both the wolf and the Kitsune at the same time. “The switch should happen immediately. The person should have little control over it. Let nature take its course.”

Ilunabar stared at it for a minute, before bringing the illusion out of his side and into her palm. “Interesting project, I do have similar ideas, but I took a different path.” She commented, before pressing her other hand against her palm.

Suddenly a bright light started to be emitted from between her hands. It kept getting more intense, and at one point one could hear and odd noise coming from it. Then, finally, it all stopped, and the light was “sucked” back into where the illusion was being held.

“And done.” The Muse opened her hand to reveal the illusion had been turned into a crystalline figure. With a little movement of her hand, she weaved a string out of the glass figure, turning it into a necklace.

“Give this amulet to a mortal, and he will turn into the hero you seek.”

Taking the amulet, he nodded. “Thank you. But first,” he tightened his grip on the amulet, whispering arcane words into it, before returning to speaking, “I had to put in an arcane link. So that I may spy upon whoever wears the amulet. Such is necessary for one such as me who cannot simply spy upon another traditionally.” with a few swift motions, and some quiet words, his journal box popped open, the blessings and curses held within changing dizzyingly. He dropped the amulet it, closed the box, and whispered the arcane words to relock it. He then looked at the maps again.

“Did you find any interesting place on the map? I could take you wherever you want” she informed.

She was very curious about the language that Lazarus used, so far Ilunabar had been the safe keeper of most mortal languages, but she had never guessed another god would move on to create his own. Now, however, was the time to get close to the Demi-God, so trying to study the mystical language was completely out of limits.

He looked over the maps, tracing his armored gauntlet about the papers. “Interesting. I can almost pinpoint where I first became a Demigod. However, I am curious as to how it came to be this way. Have you any older maps?” He returned his eyeless view to Ilunabar.

“Ah, the older stuff?” Surely she had lots of those, far too many to bring, actually. But it was a reasonable request, and it made sense for him to be curious about the geological past of the planet. “Sure, I will look into it. Give me a moment.” And again, she left for the interiors of her atelier.

Seizing his chance, he quietly stepped off to the side, seeking something that had grabbed his attention while talking to the muse, a report of some kind. He knew he didn’t have the time to look over it fully, so instead he reached his hand over it and whispered arcane words. An illusory set of blessings and curses began to rise from the pages as he created his own copy. He unlocked his journal box once again, whispering the words necessary to suck the print inside. He then shut the box, locked it, and returned to his position at the maps.

This time, Ilunabar returned with a large pile of sheets and sketches. “There is a lot here,” she said, as she placed it all on the floor instead of the table. “But truly, it’s the planet’s entire geological history. Well, it is not perfect, but it should help, if you have the interest.”

He strode about the room, looking at the various maps. “I’m noticing a common theme here. The maps, the first ones, they seem.. Aesthetically pleasing. And then there’s a sudden dip in quality. And the newest maps? A sudden jump. Were these maps made by the same person?”

Ilunabar stared at the Demi-God. “Huh?” she tilted her head “Anyway. Is this enough? Have you found somewhere to stay in Galbar? There are other gods that could help you, but I feel like creating new land will bring Amartia’s attention.”

He nodded. “Indeed, it would. I would rather like to have a fertile valley in the Ironheart Range to myself, but first, I feel we should go a bit north of the steppes to give the amulet to a mortal. I would rather not do it nearby Amartia or within my grasp. Amartia would undoubtedly corrupt or kill the subject, ruining the experiment, and I would affect the results by being nearby.”

“I believe a cave near the valley of peace would a good point. Furthermore, should a threat arise, Niciel would be close by.” Ilunabar commented. “So, ready to fly again? Or is there anything else I could provide you?”

“This is more than enough, thank you. Shall we get to flying?” He responded, holding out his hand to be led along through the sky once again.






The Journal of the Blind Seeker


Recently moved into a new valley, a small one, yet fertile. A few creeks, not too cold. Trees here and there. Near the Valley of Peace, too, should I require the services of those that dwell there. Have begun setting up in a nearby cave. Can divine the location and see through the eyes of the mortal we uplifted thanks to the arcane link. Good. Will keep a close eye on them while I work on my other experiments.

First thing’s first, reading this print I took. After that, I will have to begin on that god detection device. Too many times I have been snuck upon. They could be watching me now. Planted the fruit seeds. Thanks to the intervention of Ilunabar, the fruit I planned for a long journey should sustain me until the trees are grown. Given that they grow fast enough, of course.

It’s time to get to work.


Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Cyclone
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Cyclone Trapped in the Past

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Of Wondrous Heights and Despondent Depths

Part One

Storm's King; The First Gale; The Embodiment of Change
Level 3 God of Change (Air)

39 Might 5 Free Points


Vizier Ventus, Majordomo to Zephyrion
Level 7 Hero
31 Khookies


King Akthanos
Priest-King of the Firewind, Lord of Vetros, Sovereign of the Vetruvian Kingdom, Zephyrion's Prophet
Fifth Ruler of the Primurid Dynasty


By day, the sun loomed above as the merciless master of this desert and its baleful glare scorched the sand and men alike. The dry air and hot winds offered no respite, and merely breathing taxed men. At night, however, the Firewind was an alien place. The light of Galbar's moons lit the sky and reflected across the waters of the Mahd, gently illuminating the way for the army that marched down its banks. A faint and cool breeze came from the waters of the sacred river, though its chilling kiss made the lightly clothed men shiver.

Onward through the night, those two thousand men that had been levied into the army marched at the heels of their prince. Their equipment was lacking: they wore naught but light robes and carried spears and javelins tipped with flintstones. Those that had made lengthy preparations had crafted shields from the wood and fronds of date trees and bands of animal hide, while others had nothing of the sort. Still, for what they lacked in weaponry they made up for in resolve and spirit. Here they marched to defend their kingdom and homes from the barbarians that rode those strange creatures called horses and heeded a false prophet.

The Horse People worshiped the Eternal Sky and feared the terrible beast Y'Vahn just as the Vetruvians did; and yet, still they hated one another. The Horse People of those steps claimed their own venerated elders that could commune with the Sky and burn offerings to appease their God, yet the Vetruvians begrudged them no tolerance. Just as there was only one sky, there could only be one prophet. That was King Akthanos, and before him another great King followed by another, all the way back to the great Primus who spoke with God himself and lived to see a hundred years pass by before ascending to the sky and leaving his dynasty behind to rule in Vetros.

The Horse People too had followed Primus, yet they had forsaken the path before they saw the blessed Mahd and in doing so brought a great curse down upon themselves! Woe be to those forsaken tribes, for they lived not under the Priest-King or his empire and the wind would ever spurn them.

So it was that bands of the vile Horse People occasionally rode south from their homes on the steppe to raid the farming villages upon the Mahd, and in turn the Vetruvians oft ventured north to skirmish with the hordes and steal the herds of their enemy. Like night and day, the cycle continued.

==--``~~~~``--==


A thousand lifetimes away were the gleaming spires of the Celestial Citadel, and yet Zephyrion's gaze looked on all the same. From the very uppermost reaches of the heavenly palace, he had watched on in seclusion for many years. He was not concerned with the scurrying of Illunabar, stray elementals, and all the other denizens of the lower levels; in many ways, he had ceased thinking of that area as home and relinquished it to Teknall. Let the Divine Mason have his trees in the courtyards below if such trifles were what contented him! As in for Zephyrion, he wrought things of a larger scale.

A rush of wind came from below, and then there was a second vortex upon that balcony where the First Gale rested. "Ah, Your Majesty," Ventus greeted.

He was met with silence, though fortunately the Vizier was an immortal djinn and one of the few beings whose patience could outlast that of a god's. He remained there for a long while, and finally Zephyrion cracked, "What is it that you come for? Not the joy of conversation, to be sure. I would never deign expect so much from you, Illunabar, Teknall, or any of my other 'guests' in my palace..."

"Is that why you brood alone atop these great heights, then, and avoid them all? Are you so petty as to long for their attention just as men with parched throats crave water?" Zephyrion, yo-

"Silence," the god interrupted with a vigor and force to his voice that his previous words had lacked. "I do not require anything from them to sustain myself or my state of contentedness. If anything, their presence might bring irritation! It is true that fulfillment does come from within me as it might for some, though that is just as well; it keeps me from being complacent. I do not watch the skies from here to wallow in my own sorrow or avoid what will come from me...I do it so as to better marvel at my own doings below and be fulfilled in the truest realization of my own magnificence!"

How eloquent in wording and impassioned in hollow words was Zephyrion that Ventus could not discern whether his Master's words were honed by truth or simply delusion. Regardless of which scenario was true (though the Vizier had his suspicions!) he knew that there was no response to be made. So instead of attempting some ill-advised riposte to Zephyrion's logic or bothering him with some other mundane topic, Ventus joined Zephyrion in that solemn vigil.

Outwards the Djinni Lord looked, and though his eyes could not simply peer across the world as could Zephyrion's, through mediation and coming to peace with himself, he focused his Astartian magic and managed to see from outside his own form.

"The men of the grasslands and the men of the riverlands march to battle against one another!" Ventus said with genuine shock.

"Yes, just as they have done a dozen times before, albeit never on this scale. Perhaps my Chosen People will finally earn their triumph and be rid of their foes by merit of only their own strength!"

Ventus bore an expression of further shock muddled with confusion.

Zephyrion went on to scoff, "Did you not know of this feud? Hah, perhaps you have been gone from them too long!"

"It has been only a few mortal lifetimes...I never expected this much to change. And what is this about your 'Chosen People'? I descended to Galbar and spent many years speaking with both; I know that the nomads of the steppe and the Vetruvians in the river valley both utter prayers in your name! The legacy of both trace back to Primus, whose people you promised to protect!"

With infuriating indifference, Zephyrion's retort came, "Your meddling with them was by your own choice; I gave you the freedom to interact with the mortals just as I did, and yet I suffer no obligation to follow your whims and favor those steppe-dwelling mongrels simply because you have grown attached to them. Yes, they worship me and me alone, as they rightfully should. And yet in times past their ancestors strayed from the guidance of my Prophet, so how can they claim to be my Chosen Tribe? They are delusional; only the Vetruvians have my favor. The only reason I do not smite the false claimants is because I am a merciful god, and besides, they will test the Vetruvians and keep them from growing soft and becoming prey to worse things."

The Vizier had no words, for he knew that there were none that held the power to sway his Master's mind.

==--``~~~~``--==


At the head of his army, Prince Heru breathed deeply. The air smelt sweet and of blossoming flowers; in many of the farmlands upon the floodplains and river banks, the harvest was already in full swing. For how many men would this be their last night? It was good that the air smelt so sweet.

The solemn silence was interrupted by one of the warriors, "My prince," he spoke with utter reverence and deference, "some of the men straggle behind. What shall be done?"

Heru closed his eyes and breathed deeply again, trudging on with footing so sure that he needed no sight to walk on. After his short contemplation, he opened his eyes once again and answered, "Order them to press on, and should words fail, turn to the scourge."

A forced march throughout the entire night at pain of being flogged was perhaps harsh, but it was necessary. How much more blood would flow at the riverbanks and taint the sacred Mahd if he failed? How many more orphans would mourn lost fathers, how many more faithful would be led astray if their prince faltered? Beyond simply defending the hinterlands from the wretched Horse People, this battle meant seeing the empire blossom another day or wilt in the sun. That was why his father, the Priest-King, had sent Heru to lead the army, and that is why Prince Heru could not fail.

The eerie silhouette of an Onyx Phantom flitted over one of the moons that hung in the sky, illuminated for a brief moment. That omen was seen by many a watchful eye, and it left a foreboding feel in the air long after the phantom had flown away to haunt another place. A portent of death.

The battle finally came at dawn when the two forces clashed at a series of riverside villages that had been occupied by the marauding Horse People. Heru's night march had left his men fatigued, but it had bought them an element of surprise. Those same date trees that surrounded the first village and nourished its locals now sheltered the ambushing men; truly, the sacred date trees offered life to the Vetruvians in more way than one. Like demons springing out from dark caves, the Vetruvians came out from the morning shadows of the trees and descended into the village. They slaughtered their enemies there, hen rapidly advanced upstream to the next village.

This next battle was more bloody, for the morning sun had begun to rise and a few stragglers had escaped the first attack to warn their kin of the coming onslaught. Though the Horse People hadn't the time to mount a proper defense, they still fought valiantly and exacted a blood toll upon their enemies.

It was at the third and final village that the most blood was spilled. In a fit of vengeance the invaders had butchered what citizens of that village they might have otherwise left or taken as slaves, and then they had sallied forth to meet the opposing army upon the open field, for the Horse People were at their strongest in open terrain where the mobility of their horses gave them an even greater advantage.

Heru led from the vanguard of his own men, and as the horsemen charged the Vetruvians took up the challenge and advanced as well. Their spears were long and sharp and their faces grim and determined, so it was only natural that their cowardly enemies faltered and chose to begin the battle with a half-hearted skirmish. Mounted archers rode chose to the ranks of Vetruvians and fired their bows, though many of the light arrows were stopped by shields or cloth armor. The Vetruvians returned fire with their atlatls, using the weapons as an artificial extension of their arms to throw javelins farther than any normal men could.

That light skirmish continued for some time, though as noon drew closer the sun's heat began to wear down upon men and horse alike. Both sides knew that they needed to make their move soon or there would be no battle, and so the barbaric Horse People took the initiative with their usual strategy of dogmatic belligerence. The cavalry put away their bows in favor of light lances, and then they charged to directly engage the enemy lines.

They had fought the Vetruvians in the oast and knew the folly of simply charging into a spearwall, so their commanders developed an ingenious strategy on the spot. A small force would make a halfhearted attempt at a direct attack upon the the rows of spearmen, while the greater part of the horde would ride out to flank them and from attacking from the side, force the Vetruvian spearmen into the Mahd. A final detachment would ride to the very back of the enemy lines to fully cut off a retreat; the Vetruvians would be pressed in from three sides. There would be nowhere to turn but to the Mahd, and that river's water would surely claim many a man that did not know how to swim.

What they had not expected was the sheer willpower of their enemy. The light contingent that attacked the spearmen head had their charge instantly broken, and with the fervor of battle in their hearts the Vetruvians advanced forward and totally repulsed the horsemen. Barbarians and the beasts that they rode were both impaled by spearhead after spearhead, pierced until they ceased moving and rivulets of their blood flowed toward the Mahd.

When the charge came from the side, it sent shocks through the ranks. It had not been unexpected, but the Vetruvians still managed to be forced back. The men at the sides were pushed back by the flank and gave ground to regroup and fill in the gaps in their spearline where men had fallen. As they did so, however, they inadvertently forced the entire mass of soldiers to shift to the side, and those on the oppsoite side were being pushed towards the river just as the Horse People had planned. Caught up in the fight as they were, those engaging the flanking force were oblivious and continued to yield ground as needed They were content with simply holding the enemy cavalry at bay and slowly whittling them down, but for the men being forced into the Mahd, it was a matter of life and death. Terrified for their lives, they had no choice but to draw their weapons and turn upon their own fellows. Using their owns spears, they forced those nearest to them to move back away from the river, and so it was now the men in the middle of the ranks that were in great peril; on one side men were desperately pushing away from the river, and on the other side the spearwall was buckling at the enemy's advance and pushing backwards as they sought to yield ground. The men in the middle had nowhere to go, and found themselves quickly being crushed from both directions.

The battle dragged on. So it was that the Horse People had their tactic work to some extent, though they tasted not the sweet fruit of the easily won victory that had been expected. Instead, they tatsed their own blood. Countless perished on both sides, but in the end it was the Vetruvians who triumphed. After sustaining great losses, the Horse People had signaled a retreat and rode back for the Golden Barrens in disgrace.

As in for Prince Heru, there would be a parade and great feast in Vetros when he and his army returned, yet he felt no joy. Before any such celebration would happen, he was left with the task of tending to the countless fallen. As was Vetruvian custom, the bodies were burned so that they did not come back to suffer in undeath. The ashes were scattered into the Mahd so that they would flow downriver and nourish the farmlands. In that way, from death there would come new life.

==--``~~~~``--==


From the balcony of his great home atop a hill, the King of Vetros looked down upon his city. The Mahd was just visible in the distance beyond the many homes hewed of mud brick and sandstone; sunlight reflected beautifully and scintillated like a thousand gems atop the waters of the river. A light breeze offered him some respite in the shade of his balcony, and the pomegranate that he ate tasted as fresh and succulent as the days of his youth.

'It is easy to see how our ancestors thought this land blessed,' he thought as the wonder of the moment yielded once more to worry and lament. The shuffle of footsteps came from behind, and one of Akthanos' attendants came with news.

"My King," he said as he knelt and turned his head to the ground, "word has come from upriver. 'twas a great triumph; the host led by your son drove back the invading Horse People, though the victory was won at no small cost."

A small smile crept onto the king's face, and for a moment then he did not look so old. "By Zephyrion, we are blessed then. A celebration will have to be had."

The smile had faded by now and Akthanos had spoken with little joy; though that was one burden lifted from his shoulders, the mantle of leadership was still crushing in its weight. Talk of celebration reminded him only too much of how paltry the city's grain stores were, of how taxing the latest drought was, of the growing discontent and impiety of the masses, of how word abounded of a swarm of locusts come from the dead lands and Mangroves far to the south...

The Priest-King wiped some of the pomegranate's juice from his mouth and long white beard. "Now I bid you leave me to my own peace, faithful one," his words came.

"As you wish I must do, Great One," answered the servant as he sprung back to his feet and left without another breath.

Akthanos soaked in the view for a while longer, and on that lonesome balcony he contemplated his life and his world. At last, the daylight began to wane, and the Prophet turned his back upon that blissful view and entered the Great Temple of Zephyrion that was also his abode. Now, rather than returning to his own quarters to retire for the night, he knew that there was more to be done. He procured a small torch, for the temple's innermost sanctum was dark and his sudden inspiration was not enough to illuminate his path on its own.

Carrying only that light, he went descended down a long flight of stairs. This Great Temple was many things; prayers and weddings were had in the main chamber far above, and the Priest-Kings of Vetros dwelt within the second floor. Yet below it all was a dark and rarely visited wing. Down there were the catacombs that held the worldly remains of long-gone priests and kings, and the vaults that contained what remained of Primus, the old Priesthood, and their legacy. In truth, it had been many years since Akthanos had ventured into the bowels of the temple and even then it had only been for a cursory glimpse; no man alive truly knew their way through the labyrinth below the temple. Most didn't even know that it existed.

It was a dark and dusty place that Akthanos now, the somber hallways echoing with the first sound of footsteps in decades. After some time, Akthanos came across a recess that he knew to hold the tomb of his father. The thought that he would cross that spot never even entered his mind as he had walked; it had been forty years since his father's death, so long that Akthanos rarely even thought back of those days. It conjured back the memory of what his father's face had looked like, something that had been elusive for the past decade or so...but beyond that, Akthanos remembered the water gardens where he had played as a child, and how vibrant the world's colors had been when his eyes were that of a youth's. He still remembered the sunlight, even in these cold and dark tunnels, and even as he knew that his own life was nearing its end.

He knelt before the recess and spoke to his father in the uneven tone of a child. The words gushed out; he spoke of the sorrow that he had felt those forty years ago, of how he finally understood the burden of being king, and of how wrong it was that he had left his own father alone in these crypts for so many long years with nary a visit. Time passed, and a while after the last tear rolled off the old king's cheek and fell unto the cold stone floor, he rose. Unimpeded by emotion, he could now press on.

He passed another small chamber and upon a quick examination, he recognized it too. It was in there that his father's relics had been stowed away; all of his possessions save those that he had chosen to be buried with. Akthanos spotted one fine knife made of bone with the most beautiful and intricate etching upon its surface. He nearly claimed the thing as his own right there (for it was his father's, and therefore his right to inherit) but respect for the dead and the sanctity of this place stayed his hand. He set the knife back down, where it would sit and accumulate dust for untold time before ever feeling the warmth of another hand.

Walking on through the tunnels, he then found a wall covered with plaques. He held his torchlight high to illuminate the stone tablets, and then set about reading them one by one. He saw accounts of the time under his father's rule, and then some familiar stories too: one tablet described the fateful first battle between the sons of Vetros and the Horse People, another of the strange arrival of a great and powerful being called Ommok that claimed to be king of some faroff land to the north beyond the Mahd, though Akthanos had always thought that story no more than a wives-tale, for it was known that to the north there lied nothing but a terrible jungle devoid of civilization and a vast grassland ruled by the nomadic bands of Horse People.

Going further into the network of twisting tunnels, he passed the tombs of more predecessors, and there were more tablets to be read as well. Some described strange humanoids with exoskeletons, crafted by some lesser deity and then abandoned by him to wander the world on their own. Many other tablets told tales of the kingdom's early days and the various Djinni Lords of the area and how to appease them...much of this was common knowledge still passed on to this day, though Akthanos did notice minor discrepancies. It would seem that time had distorted the details. Other things were some that Akthanos had never before heard; he was left to wonder whether that was because they had been since disproved, or perhaps because such knowledge had simply been deemed unimportant and forgotten.

With great interest, Akthanos read and read...particularly intriguing were some of the eldest tablets, whose tales were of a being that was the mightiest Djinni Lord of all and who had come on many an occasion to speak with those that would listen and tel them the secrets of the world. This Great Spirit of Knowledge was only called 'Viz'zer', which was strange indeed. The Vetruvians revered the mighty Djinn of the Firewind and Zephyrion's dominion and knew them all by name, and no mention of a great lord called Viz'zer was ever given nor tribute offered to him. Even the name of the djinn itself was strange; normally the lords of nature took on names that had some more literal meaning and reflected their own nature. Or was it the other way around, and men named things after the great elementals?

The Priest-King mused on such things and read on. He had come in the hopes of finding some lost knowledge that might give him certainty and strength, something that might tell him what to do and be the salvation of a crumbling kingdom. Though he had found nothing of the sort, curiosity nonetheless bid him read on, for there was so much to learn and he was yet to even reach the oldest glyphs. His hope raised, for perhaps there was some great secret locked away in these depths after all!

It was then that Akthanos found himself squinting to read on in the faltering light, and with alarm he looked down to see the reason: his torch had burned precariously down, and soon it would offer no more light! With all the haste and resolve that he could muster, Akthanos began to make his way back out of the tunnels. A tinge of panic touched his heart, for he struggled to find his way out and remember from where he had come. Without the flame, he knew that he would be lost, and yet the flame was fleeting...

There came a sudden draft of musty air down a long tunnel, and the torch was extinguished. In a blink of an eye, all light had vanished and now utter darkness reigned.


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Lakshmi and Susa's adventures across the sea




Alefpriel's harbor began to finally grow some color now that Lifprasilians arrived from the Grot battle. Here, a new invention was starting to dawn thanks to a joint effort of Susa and Meimu. It all started back in the battle when the strong winds of the storm djin clashed against Susa's leather coat. Even in the heat of battle, she was able to notice something curious going on as the wind flowed trough her clothing. Later, when returning to the Capital, she told Lakshmi about it and one thing led to another...

"So, you are like, a daughter of the Twilight goddess?"

"You mean Ilunabar. And no... I think our lady master Ilunabar wouldn't like us calling her that."

This was all awkward, Susa had been trying to be nice to the schemes of gods, or at least not too rude, but it was hard to keep up with it all. Furthermore, she just didn't know what topic to bring about with a servant of the goddess who broke her leg.

"Oh look, they are returning," Meimu said as she pointed towards the sea.

Across the harbor, a new kind of ship moved with ease, unlike the hazardous row boats, this one used the power of the winds to move forward. It was Susa's concept, but it was Meimu who came up with the idea of the "Sail". There was still much to be tested, and Lifprasilians would take a while to fully understand how to even weave the sail, mastering its control would take even longer. Even so, it was a new invention, and seeing the boat move swiftly along the horizon was a satisfying sight.

"Ah. This will open a lot of opportunities..." Meimu said with excitement, but quickly stopped once she noticed some odd sense of nostalgia in Susa's eyes. "Is there something bothering you?"

"Nothing. It's just that... Wouldn't it be fun to jump into one of these and just go far away?"

Meimu tilted her head, not exactly understanding what the mortal meant. "S-Sure. Like a bird, right?"

"Huh?"

"N-Nothing. But really, if you wanted to travel by boat, why didn't you go with Lakshmi?"

"Wait, what? What are you talking about? Is she leaving?"

"Oh yeah, in the string trireme I made as a side project to this Sail Boat thing. We needed trade, so we thought about sending her to Fiberslay." Meimu looked around for a second and found a little dot far into the horizon. "That must be her vessel."

Susa just stared at the Diva for a few seconds. "Are you stupid? Why are the gods such idiots." before even finishing her sentence, the huntress was already running towards the sea, quickly taking off her clothing before jumping into the water.

Meimu didn't know exactly what she witnessed. After a few seconds of staring at nothing with wide open eyes, she just pouted and sighed. "Rude...".




At each powerful synchronized move of the many Marionette hands attached to the sides of the vessel, the trireme moved far and fast, many would see this as a wonder, Lakshmi, however, saw it as a bother.

"Oof. I-Is this h-how the boat is su-supposed to work-k?" she asked to the aloof figure by her side

"I believe so ma'am. It's an early concept, so it's natural that it doesn't work-" the Grand Parade member's attempt to be cool was immediately broken, as the next move of the boat send him face first into the ground.

"Ah, a-are you-u fine?" Lakshmi quickly ran to the Quara's side, picking him up.

"Or perhaps this just a very silly idea. Marionettes are far too cold and dumb to properly work as a vessel for living beings."

"H-here comes a-another r-r-rowing!"

It looked like this penance was going to last for a week or so. At least if what Meimu said was right, and what Lakshmi learned when working with the Divas is that they aren't always right, no matter what their reassuring smiles implied, there was always an experimental twist to most of their projects.

This whole journey idea was sudden. The idea about visiting the distant place from where her friend Susa came from was old, but it was suddenly put into motion as the man of a mysterious folk called the "Quara Korala" arrived. New lands with odd languages... it all felt a bit scary, but it would help all Lifprasilians.

The loud sound of splashing water and a sudden thud against the deck brought the leader of the guard back to reality. "W-Wha-t..." she turned around to find Susa finishing to climb her way into the boat. "W-Why are you-u here?" then the realization "W-w-why a-are you-u n-naked."

"I just swam all the way from the harbor. Meimu is an absolute idiot if she thinks it is a good idea to send you without me, it's literally my homeland, for Slough's sake."

"G-Good P-po-int b-ut, again-n. W-why a-are you-u n-n..."

"Ma'am, might I ask who..." The Quara decided to help, since waiting for Lakshmi was a bit of a problem in such a sudden situation

"Who is the gecko boy?"

"Why, you brute! This is the very first interaction between the Quara Korala and the Arkonl Korala and it's a little insensitive jest of all things."

"If you don't shut it, the second interaction will be your teeth meeting my fist. Now, Lakshmi..."

"Y-Yes?"

"Is there a way to turn this boat around?"

"N-Not th-that I know-w, i-it is a b-bit hard t-to do a ful-ull t-turn"

"Oh well, I guess we will have to make the full journey"

There was a brief moment of awkward silence, briefly interrupted by the sudden and violent rowing of the Marionettes.

"M-Ma'am" this time it was not Lakshmi who was stuttering. "So-sorry for before."

"Oh, sorry for it too. It was the fatigue from all the swimming, it makes me a bit explosive."

Deciding that it was best to not call out the understatement, the Quara bowed. "I believe there is enough of space in the room bellow for us three to have a place to rest and store our stuff... Not that this looks like an issue for you. Speaking of which, do you want a coat or something? I have spares..."

"Nah, I'm fine. But again, I must ask, who are you exactly? A...Aref...Arefpriel is full of all sorts of funny looking folk, but you are a first."

"Ah, you can say I'm a newcomer. My people are from beyond Shalanoir and we are not many. My name is Salassar-Madori Denomoritore."

"Whoa. I'm not saying that. Totally not. Which of those Jvanic words was your first name?"

"That was just my first name."

"Oh... I'm calling you Sally."

"D-Don't be-e a b-ully-y Sus-sa..." It looked like this penance was going to last for a week or so. At least if what Meimu said was right...




A week later, and the three found themselves at better terms. With topics like "this boat has a really bad design" around it was easy to find the commonplace for a friendship. Furthermore, Susa really liked the fact the Quara had brought a lot of wine. It was supposedly a trade good, but the huntress was quick to inform him that they had plenty of it back in her homeland. It wasn't even because she wanted most of it for herself, in truth one the earliest family of traders made their name by selling it to villages.

"Hey, why don't we do something different today? I have been telling a lot of stories, but do any of you two know a good tale?" Proposed Salassar, telling stories he already knew was fun to an extent, but eventually, the lack of novelty started to make everything feel lifeless for him.

"N-None t-that I c-can r-reme-member well-el"

"Hmm, I don't know Sally. I think... Oh yeah, there was one I really liked. But I don't know if I can tell it correctly."

"You won't know if you don't try."

"Okay. Fine. So... There was this one guy who had an older brother. And one day, when he went to visit said brother's house, he found out that his wife was with another man. So, to defend his brother's name, he decapitated the man."

"O-Oh n-no!" Lakshmi gasped.

"Come on, That is how things are. Anyway, later the older brother arrived, and he was very worried. He said. Oh brother, now the people from this man's village will be angry and hunt us. But the younger brother had a plan. He picked up the body of the man and sneaked at night into the village and into the man's house, placing his body on the bed and letting the hunting knives the man had fallen off their shelf. So, the next day arrives, and the family enters the room to find their son dead with all the knives fallen on him. Obviously, they think it was all accidental."

"W-W-Wait? What-t? Are you-u f-for r-real?" Lakshmi complained. "Ho-ow c-come? N-nobod-dy g-gets de-deca-pitaded by acci-ci-dent."

"Hey, calm down, it's not even the good part yet. See, as the people started to mourn, the younger brother came along, dressed as traveling hunter. He was quick to tell the villagers one thing. Hey, if he isn't buried properly, by a shaman, he could bring terrible evil spirits to haunt your people. The villagers found his comment helpful, and asked the good stranger to go and ask for the help of the nearby fox shaman."

"W-What i-is a f-fox sh-shaman?"

"It's a shaman whose family spiritual animal is a fox, obvious stuff really. Anyway, the man went on and visited the fox shamaness's family, which was composed of three boys and a girl. Then he came back to the village with the shamaness. So, once there, the old woman started to set up the details with the villagers, before finally entering in a trace to perform the sacred rituals. Meanwhile, the younger brother went out in the fields were reindeer were kept, and set up a big fire, making the animals go mad and stamped around the little village. As the people started to react to this, he sneaked into the house with a wooden bucket full of ice-cold water. He threw it in the shamaness' head, and since she was in a trance, this created a huge shock that killed her on the spot."

"W-Why? W-Why d-does h-he ke-ee-eps d-doing t-this ba-ad stuff."

"Oh Laky, don't be a bother. So, he sneaked out again, and once the villagers managed to control the reindeer and returned, they found the shamaness dead. The chief was very worried this meant the fox shamans would be angry.The younger brother, who had now joined the crowd again, shared the worries, after all, there were five very strong and tall boys in her family. The Chief was almost panicking, he said to the man. If you manage to stop the fox shaman's family from hurting us, I will give you the right to marry my daughter."

At this point, Susa had to stop for a bit, and take a good sip of her wine. "Storytelling is hard, my throat is already dry," she complained, before continuing.

"So, see. The younger brother had a plan. He placed the dead shamaness over an old reindeer, the kind that is really easy to ride. So, as he was approaching the house of the fox shaman, he hit the thigh of the reindeer with a sharp stone. Even an old animal gets mad at this kind of stuff, and as it started to trash about, it threw the shamaness violently against the ground. The man also took the chance to fall in the ground too, as if he was hit by the animal. Soon enough, the daughter of the shamaness and her little siblings were around them. The girl was sad that her mother had died, but was also very worried that the man was hurt too, she expected the villagers to be angry and vengeful at it. In despair, she begged the man to survive, promising herself in marriage if he didn't die. At this moment, the man stood up again and kissed the shamaness daughter who was now his wife."

"H-He is a v-vile man" Lakshmi whispered

"So, now he went back to the village and told them all that there was nothing to worry, the fox shaman's family would not bother them. As promised, the village chief gave his daughter to him. Finally, he went back to his older brother's home, killed the brother's old unfaithful wife, and said to his brother to take the Chief's daughter as his new wife."

Lakshmi stared at her friend for a few seconds. "N-No p-punish-ment? H-He go-got a-a-away."

"Well, yeah? That is why it is such a good tale, the younger brother was very smart."

"I-It's a te-terrible t-tale. H-He lie-ed all the t-time"

"It is called being witty. And it's just a little story, you aren't supposed to do the stuff. Sally, what do you think?"

"Its a peculiar tale, I guess. Not exactly what I like to hear or tell. But I can see why you like it. Maybe with more practice, you can tell it properly. I just wonder... Why did he choose the shamaness's daughter over the chief's daughter."

"Eh? Why would anyone pick some lazy village girl over a magical girl from the wild?"

"Probably because the village life provides education and interesting topics to talk about. Someone who lives almost alone in the woods is probably witless."

"P-People! T-Ther-re is mo-mor-re impor-t-tant st-tuff t-than w-which g-girl h-he sh-should h-have picked. L-Like t-the f-fact he - he li-lied."

"Yeah! He was a total villain, where does he live? He can't get away with that!"

At this moment, the three friends who were on the boat noticed something very odd...




It had been a day already since the odd woman had left and Chroma was starting to believe she was not returning. Now, ever since she arrived in the Clashing World, or whatever this place was called, things hadn't been normal, but even so, the odd woman in black was something else.

"I do not even know if the two ugly beings were villains or not" she sighed as she kept exploring the island. It was surely an island, there was ocean everywhere.

Most of the wildlife felt very familiar for her, but there were many wrong things, like the sky, so blue and full of odd stuff. And the food. Nothing tasted good in this whole place, the texture felt wrong too.

"Is there something beyond all this water?" she pondered. "There gotta be something, right? Maybe there will be people too, and villains, which I can beat."

It was then she heard a loud SPLASH sound in the horizon. She tilted her head, curious. Then again, SPLASH. SPLASH. SPLASH. The sound was in perfect harmony, always with the same interval between each one, almost like a machine.

"Whatever that is, it must be manmade" without thinking twice the heroine jumped into the sea and started to swim, her whole body morphing to make the act easier and faster.

"Wow, it is like one of those old boats from the history class." she commented as she saw the wooden vessel "Except they are all beige, brown and odd."

With her increasing ability to swim she was able to catch up with the wooden vessel and with some stretching, she managed to climb the hull. Now, back in Iridia, she wouldn't have thought twice before jumping headfirst and tell everyone who she was, yet this was the odd outlandish world, it would be wise to do some detective work before anything.

There were three people in the boat. One was just like the two opaque woman from before, except she didn't twinkle, one was tall and full of feathers and finally, one was kinda-lizard like. He smelled very good too.

They were just sitting around, and apparently, they were just sitting around, and the shorter female was telling some sort of story. What Chroma was quick to notice as she observed the odd beings, was that her mouth felt cold, as if she was biting ice.

Nobody seemed to notice her there, even as she approached to hear the story. And what a terrible story it was, not only the shorter female was not a good storyteller, but her morals were all wrong. Didn't this world have some sort of equivalent to the Storybook Code Authority to regulate this kind of stuff?

However, she barely could focus on the story as she kept having odd sensations as the story was told. When the woman said reindeer were burnt, she could swear she could smell the smoke.

Then the story came to an end, the villain left not only unpunished but actually rewarded. As the other people in the boat started to voice their distaste for the tale, she found it would be wise to join them, maybe she could even get the address of the murderer and show him a thing or two.

"Yeah! He was a total villain, where does he live? He can't get away with that!"

Everyone looked at her, and the reactions ranged from surprise to horror.

"Oh yeah, I kinda forgot to intro..."

"What is that?" Susa asked

"I-I d-do-don-n't k-kno..."

"Looks Jvanic, but nothing I ever saw befor..."

"k-know-w b-bu-t m-m-may-maybe w-we s-shoul..."

"It's on our boat, though, what do we do? Does it want to eat us? Can I even touch it?"

"s-shoul-d a-ask h-her t-h..."

"You are rushing into action again, don't be aggressive towards it."

"t-th-the why..."

Chroma looked from one side to another without properly understanding what was even going on.

Lakshmi got tired of simply waiting for the other two to come to their senses and approached the, well, she kinda looked like a female human, and asked her. "S-So w-what i-is you-your name."

"Chroma." she said

"O-Oh. A-And w-who c-crea-created y-you?"

"My parents?" People in the Clashing World talked in odd ways, but Chroma was slowly getting used to it.

"N-No I Don-nt m-mean t-those. L-Like a g-god."

"Not a creationis..." then it clicked in her mind, the odd clothing, the boat, the technology level in this whole place seemed to be very archaic. She didn't want to end up being witch hunted like Bald Eagle Sam in issue #146. But she also didn't know what to tell either.

"Ah... Ah... Amnesia." Chroma hated lies, it was bad, very bad, but even a hero of justice had to do it in a situation like this.

"Amnesia?" Susa asked. The fighting with Sally ended up dying down after Lakshmi took action.

"She lost her memory," Salassar explained.

"I know what it is Geckoboy. It's just, well, odd. Why is she even in the middle of the ocean?"

"T-Th-There w-was a-an is-island near-by"

"Really? I didn't notice it."

"M-Maybe you-u shou-uld n-not d-drink s-so m-much w-wine"

"I am not lying!"

"What do we even do?" Susa said, before continuing with a whisper "Would you sleep safely with it around?"

"S-She d-does not seem b-bad."

"Of course not! I'm a hero of justice."

"A hero of justice?"

"Just to be clear. The name Jvan doesn't bring anything to your mind, right?"

"Nopty nope."

"You do not feel like touching our bodies and eviscerating us?"

"What? Why? That is terrible."

"Su-s-sa." Lakshmi stared at her "D-Don't mind-d her"

"Sorry, sorry. I just like to be safe. She can stay on the boat I guess. We should be reaching the land very soon anyway."

"Oh, very good. I was so tired of that island. There was nothing there and..." it was just at that moment that Chroma noticed she was not hungry anymore. She was starving before, but now, it was all gone.

"Ah! I also forgot to ask. The man from your tale, where does he live?"

"It's just a tale... girl..." If Lakshmi could stare at Susa any harder it would start to pierce the huntress skin. "Just something my grandma told me."

"Huh... This is odd."

"What is odd? Not our esteemed boat guest, I hope!" anything for the starting to stop.

"I can't remember the tale you just told. It is a first for me, I rarely forget these things."

"Seriously? We were just discussing which of the two girls he should have picked."

"I remember discussing with you. But really, the content of the tale feels like a blur."

"A-Actu-tually. I-I d-don't rem-memberr it e-either."

"What? This has to be a joke. It's just too freakish."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by WrongEndoftheRainbow
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WrongEndoftheRainbow

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Mesera and Furem

Mercy and Wrath
0 Khookies
Level 1


Mesera awoke groggily. And so did Furem. For they were one, a single shared body. Who were they? They were Mesera and Furem. Who were they before? They couldn’t remember. An amulet? Someone, no two people maybe? It was hazy. Incredibly hazy. It was no matter, however, as they had a new goal in mind.

A singular, unified goal of which to strive towards. Whatever memories they had left behind in the haze, surely they must have contributed to the overwhelming desire. The desire to assist the weak, to usurp the raiders, the corrupted, the evil of the land.Though they both went around it different ways, Mesera helped the weak, and Furem wreaked vengeance upon the unscrupulous.

Alaric was a warrior-chieftain, his tribe dying of plague. It had all happened so suddenly. The many enemies he had made in securing his tribe’s future had come to bite him, the jackals circling the wolf. He has perhaps about 20 good warriors before a force of 100, with 70 of his men waylaid with sickness. He could barely provide for the wounded, let alone fight a conglomeration of other tribes!

Word had reached him that some kind of masked creature was approaching his camp, but he refused to believe it until he saw it himself. It had managed to reach the camp, a feminine-formed, yet ambiguously gendered being, dressed in a cloak, trousers, a shirt, and a scarf. The rest of the warriors were out of the camp! What kind of evil monstrosities lay in store for his camp? He was such a fool for ignoring the reports the hunters gave.

Hefting a hunting spear, he searched for the creature, intent on his duties to his tribe, when it suddenly halted him with a few quick, strangely friendly hand gestures. He stopped, staring at it. What did it mean? Why was it acting so friendly? And then it spoke, ”Take me to your ten weakest, your most suffering. Those who would otherwise not survive. And I shall grant them mercy, and they will live on.”

”And why should I believe you?” the chieftain asked incessantly. He looked upon the strange creature with an air of mistrust, before yielding. If it brought a curse down upon his tribe, then it may very well spread to his enemies when the tribe’s inexorable end came. If it was speaking the truth, than he would be able to have his last stand, with 30 warriors against 100. An extra 10 they desperately needed. And so he motioned one of the many tents, the one where the weakest and sickest were stored.

Mesera did not even have to respond to the question. Instead she simply moved towards the tent. She very well wished she could help them all. But it was not within her power, and she knew full well. And so did Furem, He, however, was suppressed, for now. There was no need for his duties here. The groaning of pained men met her ears as she entered, a few of the tribe's healers doing their best to keep them going. A total of thirty people were in the tent, twenty men, ten women. Twenty five sick. Once she was done, it would only be fifteen sick.

And so Mesera went to work. From behind her masked visage, the mercies of magical healing swept across man after man. She went between them all, ensuring to spread the magic equally. They each would need it. Yet, it still gnawed in the back of her head that she should've been able to do more for them. But that would have to wait, small acts first, to build up to the grand finale. Once the deed was done, she was off as fast as she came.

The Chieftain couldn't even manage a goodbye before the lone figure had melted back into the woods. But the deeds, the deeds were left behind. The men Mesera had worked on had already begun a recovery, and the Chieftain's hopes were high that he would have ten more men for his final stand. This deed would not be so easily lost in the fog, and it was sure to spread quickly.

And thus, the story of Barmherzigkeit, the masked mercy, began to spread throughout the barbaric and warlike tribes of the lands north of the steppes.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Muttonhawk
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Muttonhawk Let Slip the Corgis of War

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The Meek
Level 1 Demigod of Crafting (Machinery)

8 Might





The Great Artisan, Divine Mason, Builder of Civilisations
Level 4 God of Crafting (Masonry, Carpentry)

25.5 Might & 1 Free Points


Birth of the Craftmaidens, Part 2

Written by BBeast, Hygswitch, and Muttonhawk
Oppressively draconian editing by Muttonhawk




Within the gleaming white halls of the Celestial Citadel, Kinesis had spent her first hours on Galbar in the care of Illunabar and her Muses. They had caringly cleansed her, clothed her in a lovely white dress, and given her a quick tour, before once more returning to work on their capitol city of Lifprasilia. At first, they had kept their eye on the infant demigoddess, but soon their attention waned, leaving the curious girl to wander off into the palace's labyrinthine innards. It was not as if she could get into any meaningful amount of trouble with Zephyrion out of the house.

Kinesis wandered for quite a while, marvelling at her Father's craftsmanship. Before long, Kinesis right away felt her father's presence, alongside that some other familiar yet new entity. She wondered which room or hall they were arriving into.

Elsewhere in the halls, a pitch black rift opened, and out stepped Teknall. Behind him came a small, polished copper girl. As she exited the portal, Teknall turned and warned, "Watch your step." Even with the warning, he reached forward and caught Conata by the underarms to support her weight. Conata's knees immediately buckled under the tenfold stronger gravitational field of Galbar. The movement made her eyes widen as her shoulders hunched up around her neck. With a careful readjustment of balance, Conata stood up straight again.

Conata became used to her new weight almost unconsciously as the new building she found herself in overwhelmed her. Her eyes stayed fixed open and her mouth was agape as she turned her head up and around to take in the details. This place was nothing like father's workshop; it was pointy, and curly, and there was far less metal that she could feel. Yet, it was familiar. As the memories of before her birth scattered through her head in an unreadable jumble, Conata once again clung onto Teknall's side with her tiny hands. Her copper polished skin dulled and began to shift into a nervous, pitted magnesium. With an anxious fascination in her voice, Conata asked, "Where are we, daddy?"

"This is the Celestial Citadel, a grand palace which I built long ago," Teknall answered pridefully. "It floats high above the world of Galbar, which- well, I may as well just show you."

Teknall led Conata over to a nearby balcony. As they stepped outside, the breeze whistled stronger in their ears and they were bathed in direct sunlight that made Conata squint. Far below them, stretching off for over a thousand kilometres, was the globe of a great and colourful planet. It had magnificent shades of emerald and sapphire, with streaks and specks of white, lazily coasting above the surface. Conata was struck silent again. She blinked a couple of times simply with the effort of taking in something so vast. Her skin and hair shifted again, this time into a bright, excited bronze.

Teknall gave Conata a few moments to marvel at the view before speaking. "This is Galbar. It is a whole world. Many people of many different kinds live down there, who will some day soon grow to become great civilisations."

Little things kept striking chords in Conata's mind as Teknall mentioned them. She had so many questions that she almost choked trying to say them all at once. In the end, no more words came from her to clarify her situation. Instead, she could only manage a small remark. "There is...so much there."

Conata took a step away from Teknall, looking out over the planet. She kept one hand hanging onto Teknall's pocket, but another step brought her to the end of her arm span. Her fingers loosened until she took another step away. She then brought both her hands to the marble balustrade and poked her head forward to see even more. With no regards to her personal safety, Conata lifted a foot up and caught purchase on the balustrade, lifting herself up so she could lean over. "I want to see it..." She leant to the edge of falling.

Teknall stepped forwards and laid a steadying hand on Conata's shoulder. His grip was not restrictive, so she could still look over the edge to the vast planet below, but it was firm enough to stop her from climbing all the way over. "You'll see it in time. There is a lot of world down there, and it isn't going to disappear any time soon. But before I take you down there, I think we should go meet your sister."

As if conducted with theatrical timing, Kinesis poked her head curiously around the corner to see her father and the new entity, just as she got down from the balustrade. Kinesis' long, magnificently shimmering hair hung nearly to the floor like a curtain from her head.

Conata's face shot around to look at Teknall. "Sister?"

A smaller being made by her father was what she saw. Kinesis' innards churned with excitement. Apparently, father had learned from her making; it looked so perfect. A pretty thing of metal, if she wasn't mistaken.

Teknall smiled at Conata's surprise. "Yes, sister. She's actually just over there." He turned and looked over to where Kinesis was standing behind the portal to the balcony. Whatever effort Kinesis was putting into making herself scarce, Teknall humoured her little. Conata's curious red eyes found Kinesis'.

Kinesis let out a small yelp and hid behind the corner, quickly clapping two hands to her mouth. She then slid down the wall to hug her knees with the other two arms. Under her hands, she had a bright smile. Father had made a sister!

There were no sounds that Kinesis could hear but the surreptitious padding of bare feet from the corner she had retreated from. They stopped close and a little magnesium hand curled around the corner's edge. It was followed by the slow reveal of Conata's head as she peeked around the corner. Her curious face and hair were just as grey and pitted as her hand. Although, unlike Kinesis' reveal, Conata's hair was stiff enough that it didn't fall so conspicuously beneath her.

They stood staring and blinking in silence for another few seconds. Conata's skin ran with a hint of polish as she stepped out and took another pace towards Kinesis. She craned her head down to better see Kinesis' face where she sat. Another creeping step took Conata closer. She carefully reached out a hand. With the most gentle touch, Conata curled her fingers around some strands of Kinesis' voluminous hair. The hair changed colours under the light in an iridescent fashion and Conata broke into a giggle, her entire body swimming with little waves of similarly colourful bismuth in response.

"I like your hair," Conata said. Her skin was now fading into the previous bright bronze.

Kinesis looked up and tilted her head, letting her hands sink from the clamp hold over her mouth. "Thank you!" she said, not paying much mind to her hair being touched. "I like your..." She gestured around and stood up to be about a head taller than Conata. "I don't know. Your everything! You are so well made!" Kinesis paused her inspection of Conata, looking down at her... "I am Kinesis." She said, excitedly holding out one of her hands.

"Thank you." Conata was not discouraged by Kinesis' spontaneous introduction. She even found that Kinesis' hair had sufficient length that she could still have a handful of it even while they both stood. Without knowing exactly how to greet new people, Conata lifted her left hand up and grabbed Kinesis' outstretched fingers. "I am Conata." She grinned and the bronze became more reflective. "Did daddy make you, too?"

At that, Kinesis looked around the corner towards Teknall and then nodded. "If daddy is Teknall, then yes, father is my father too." Her voice was a bit more subdued when she said this, in respect for her maker.

Teknall drew up beside the girls as they greeted each other. He was pleased to see them getting along. To Kinesis he said, "Kinesis, I trust Illunabar treated you well while I was away."

Kinesis looked at Teknall and clasped Conata's small hand again. "Yes father. Mistress Illunabar welcomed me here and showed me around for some time. She is a bit distant, but Mistress Meimu was very nice. She bathed me and gave me a dress." She said nodding. Then she was quiet, seemingly shy or thoughtful for a short while. That ended with her blurting out, "You really built all this father? It is so big and great!"

Teknall gestured around them and said, "Indeed! The stonework and the plant life are all my handiwork. This palace has floated through the sky since the very early days in this world's history." There was a moment's pause for thought. "You've reminded me of something. I'll be back in a minute. Talk amongst yourselves." And with that he departed down the halls, leaving the two girls alone.

Conata stood and watched her father stride into the architecture with echoing footsteps until he was out of sight. She then turned her head up to look at Kinesis expectantly. After a second, she couldn't help but let out a giggle, causing yet more colourful bismuth to swim over her bright bronze skin. She might have been apprehensive to be away from Teknall, but Kinesis gave off a similar familiar feeling as he did. She really was her sister. Conata's mouth closed as she thought of something to say.

"Can you feel the metal around us, too?" Conata asked.

Kinesis looked slightly surprised at that, looking around. She raised another of her hands to her cheek in a pensive gesture. "I must not be as good at feeling materials as you, but I can sense the structure of the place, even though it has no real moving parts." She thought at that for a moment, recalling hazy memories from the time her essence had still been part of Teknall. "Yes I...think I am..." She broke off, looking at her sister. "I am good with other things...I am..." Her eyes flickered in a green glow for an instant, and she spoke in a hollow voice, recalling a language dead longer than the universe lived; "Συγκρατημένη Κίνηση." She then she seemed dazed, staring into nothing until she shook her head and smiled. "Oh, movement!" She exclaimed. "Motion! Restrained motion of linked parts! Now I know what my name means. I am...I am a demiurge of machines!" She tilted her head, thoughtful again. "Wait, are there even machines yet?"

Conata could not exactly conceptualise what Kinesis was on about, but it sounded like fun. She knew exactly what she wanted to do now. Her curious smile broadened into an inspired grin and she jumped from foot to foot. "Can we make one?" Conata's skin began to heat up to the point of Kinesis' hand warning to let go before the metal girl became more excited.

Kinesis let go, hissing in surprise. It had not hurt yet, but the rapid heating of Conata had startled her. She looked at the palm of that hand, holding it up by the wrist with her other hand of that side. She sighed in relief that it was not burned.

"Oh..." Conata slowly retracted her hand. Her face lowered into regret and her bronze began to pit with spots of dull tin. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

Kinesis looked at Conata again, wrinkling her forehead. "Oh, it's okay, I...nothing happened." She showed her the hand. "You just surprised me, that's all. I didn't know you would heat up like this. See? It's all fine."

While still embarrassed, Conata's tin spots shrunk slightly.

Kinesis pondered for a second, then added, "Come on, we will build something great. A machine, I am already getting an idea. We just need to find materials."

Conata's full reflective bronze returned and she showed her grin. Her hairs bristled with such excited heat that the air rippled above her head. "I think I can feel where some are..."

* * * * *

Teknall was absent for a long while. Just enough time, as it happened.

Within this time, Teknall's craftmaidens had pilfered all of the metal they could find in the palace and also a few other knick-knacks for their project. Some wood from the old Lifprasilian gardens, for example. A minor part of Illunabars art gallery also fell victim to their creativity. In the end, what they had made was a wonder of clockwork in a small wooden chassis. It actually looked like a small kitten or dog, at least vaguely. The last component that Kinesis put in, made with the tools Conata had shaped with her metal fingers, was a spring box that would power it. One of Kinesis' long hairs wound up inside as a spiral spring. She took some time to crank it up, but once she was done, the small thing whirred to life. It stood up and began making a funny clacking sound with its mouth. A strip of canvas from one of Illunabar's paintings was lolling out like a tongue. It looked at its makers expectantly with eyes of polished glass marbles.

Conata squat down and wrapped her arms around her knees opposite the jittering automaton. With a neutral look, she reached out with one hand until her finger touched the clock-dog's nose. In that instant, the dog recoiled, skittered back on its spindly legs, and started sprinting down the halls with a rhythm of ticki-ti-tick ticki-ti-ticks against the floor. Conata burst out laughing and began to run after it, her hair bristling once more. She skipped sideways for long enough to beckon to Kinesis. "Come on!" she shouted through a laugh before resuming her run. She was surprisingly fast and tireless for her size.

Kinesis whooped to herself and laughed as well, pumping one arm as she jumped in the air to run after them. "It works, yay!" It quickly became apparent that even though Conata resembled a girl two years younger than her, Kinesis could not catch up with her. She just wasn't a good runner. At least, she was no match for Conata. She subtly extended herself to make her legs longer. She soon looked more like a young teenager, getting lankier with each step, but also gaining a bit of speed. Her vibrantly colourful hair trailed behind her in waves as she sprinted after Conata and the automaton.

They chased the wooden dog down the halls, their merry laughter echoing through the Citadel. Soon, they had it cornered, with the dog bordered in by the girls and stone walls. Yet just when they thought they had caught it, a small hole opened in the wall which the automaton dove through, just slipping out of their grasp. The stonework sealed itself back up just as quickly as though the hole had never existed.

The girls could tell that the automaton was simply on the other side. There was the muted sound of wooden paws scurrying on the granite floor. The dog soon emerged from a doorway behind them with a bundle of linen in its mouth. It sat with a clonk on its wooden haunches and looked expectantly at Conata with its tail wagging and scraping on the floor.

"What did you find, machine?" Conata asked the dog with a grin, bowing forward with her hands on her knees. With another giggle, Conata ran up to the dog as fast as her little legs would take her and skidded to a halt. She then squatted down and brought her hands out. The dog obediently dropped the linen into Conata's hands and she unbundled it to see what it was. It became obvious when she held the fabric flat by the corners.

"It is a...like yours, Kinny." Conata turned around to Kinesis, becoming copper and showing her the garment. "You said 'dress' before? It's too small for you, though."

Teknall then stepped out from the same doorway the dog had emerged from. "That's because it's for you," he said to Conata.

Conata gasped and looked up. "Daddy!"

Teknall knelt down next to the mechanical canine and rubbed its head. With a grin on his face, Teknall said, "It is good to see you two enjoying yourselves."

Even though it had only been a few hours, Conata ran up and embraced Teknall. She turned into a loving silver when up against him, but that went back to bronze as she pulled away. Her grin was contagious. "We made a machine!"

Kinesis was still catching her breath from the run, her cheeks flushed from the exhaustion. She nodded, shrinking back to her eight-year-old self.

In her excitement, Conata seemed to forget the dress already, letting it hang from her hand, partly crumpled on the floor. She only realised this after another moment and lifted it in her hands again. She stuck her arm through the top, apparently puzzled as to how to do the dress on.

Kinesis laughed and helped Conata find the right way to put it on. "Here this is how it works," she said softly to her sister. Once it was slid over Conata's head, Kinesis tugged at the dress to straighten it here and there.

"Thank you," Conata chimed. She twisted curiously, testing the dress' movement. The fabric felt strange but not uncomfortable. She hoped that it would not be damaged easily by heat.

Teknall laughed too and said, "Come. I think it is time I showed you two the world." He beckoned for his daughters to follow him to a nearby balcony.

Conata's hair bristled with heated anticipation once again. She ran forward to take her father's hand.

Kinesis followed curiously as well, ending up standing behind her sister. She placed two hands softly on Conata's shoulders and folded the other two in around her sister's belly.

As they walked forwards, the balustrade seemed to melt away, leaving the edge of the platform open to the great drop below them. Teknall turned to face the girls while still leading them forwards. His grip on Conata's hand became firmer as he instructed to both the girls, "Just look at me, hold on, and keep walking."

As they walked, the balcony retracted from beneath them without a sound. Conata did as Teknall asked for the first few paces, keeping her eyes upon his goblin chin; she did not notice the balcony moving at all, untuned as her senses were. Though, eventually, she noticed they were walking beyond the balcony's reach as if it were still solid stone. Why weren't they falling? Conata looked down and grabbed at Kinesis' arm around her with her free hand. The elder Sister held her a bit tighter as well in response.

They were standing on nothing but air, with the breeze whistling about them and a forty kilometre drop below them. Yet they did not fall.

As Conata's eyes went down, Kinesis looked around. Already, her mouth was agape. What unsettled her was how natural it felt to do this. To walk like this, with nothing but whistling wind between the toes. No churning or clenching in her belly, no fear. Just the assuring feeling that her body; her very being was made for this. It was utterly capable of keeping her afloat. She finally looked at her father when she had firmly internalised this and curiously asked. "Father, so we can walk on nothing but air, but can we also fly? Like swooping around as a mighty bird would?"

Teknall nodded and let go of Conata's hand, leaving her levitating. "Indeed," he answered. To demonstrate he leant backwards as though falling, but then the fall flowed into an upwards swoop. He flew in a short loop then returned to Conata's side. "You'll need to find a method which feels natural to you."

Kinesis pondered this for a moment. She then took a big breath and closed her eyes. She slowly folded one pair of hands. With the other pair, she made the gesture of understanding, forming a ring out of her thumb and index finger as if she had just collected a grain of truth. Her essence began churning harder in her heart chamber. A moment of meditation later, it shined so brightly that the flesh between her metallic ribs glowed in a dim, reddish tone. She opened her eyes, revealing a green glow of divine energy. Then, she opened all four of her hands and fused both pairs of arms into one again as a barely visible shining nimbus came into view behind her head. As the light in her eyes slowly regressed, a pair of ephemeral wings, barely visible, unfolded from behind her back.

The glowing in her chest and eyes stopped, but the slight glow of her aura and wings stayed the way it was. She looked at both of her wings in wonder and nodded approvingly. "I think I found my way of flight, father," she said before spreading her arms and wings wide and letting herself fall backwards like her father had.

With no one to hang on to, Conata had simply been left in the air during her sister and father's demonstrations. It was with some confusion that she began shooting her gaze left and right, ineffectually swimming her arms through the air.

Kinesis returned after a far deeper fall ended with a few loops and barrel rolls. As she levelled to a hover, she panted and smiled from the exhilaration. A healthy blush was spread across her cheeks. "This is great! You need to try it, sister."

Conata was still flailing. She did not have the mind to even realise that she wasn't falling until Kinesis spoke. "Umm..." Her magnesium surface pitted further. "I think..."

There was a moment of pause for thought as Conata stared down at the clouds below. She stopped moving her arms and carefully straightened out. With a deep breath, she closed her eyes and began to lean forward. Then, as if the invisible precipice beneath her collapsed, she fell forward.

In her freefall dive, Conata was silently devoured by a cloud in the blink if an eye. A tense few seconds passed. Then, with a loud, childish laugh hailing her return, Conata burst back upwards out of the cloud in a red hot bronze. The inside of her hysterically laughing mouth glowed white hot as a trail of steam was left behind the tips of her toes. She didn't seem to mind that her dress was beginning to brown with the sheer heat coming off her. At least she was moving too fast through the cold air for the dress to properly ignite.

Conata's mirthful ascent didn't stop until she outright tackled Kinesis out of the air. Kinesis laughed in surprise after being having winded by her playful sister. Where Conata touched her, her dress quickly charred as well, but a slight glowing barrier kept her sisters blast-furnace-like skin from touching her directly, this time sparing further burns.

Kinesis was surprised for just an instant longer before she hugged her sister."See? You can do it too."

Conata didn't have big, beautiful wings like Kinesis, but she was flying just as naturally. The pair floated back to Teknall together, Conata still looking fresh from a forge's fire. She seemed to be laughing far too hard to speak, even as she tried to pause to breathe and form words.

Teknall laughed at the fun his daughters were having. However, there were things to be done. Once they returned to him, he spoke, "Come now, we have a world to see."
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

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Step by step, the land changed. In earlier ages, the plants grew from sand and creatures lived because the ground had been watered by the rancid, necrotic drippings of a being cursed by magnificent powers of creation to decompose, regrow, and decompose again. Perhaps that sorrowful fate incorporated some small measure of mercy in the sense that a creature with no sanity to shatter and no wits to waste suffered it, and not some other being. None could pine about those tragic days, though, even if anyone remembered it, for they were days gone. Now, a different being walked the earth. The passing of winter meant that new leaves would grow, and in essence spring had come to a certain spirit. When Slough's wooden hooves touched the earth, there came not rot, but light. From the threadlike cracks in its bark skin drizzled a shimmering sap—a smooth, sticky fluid that, like a crystal, captured a glorious radiance. When it fell to earth, plants sprang up, and animals appeared without the use of malodorous spawning sacs. The variety of these animals did not bear comparison with that of the creatures of the previous eras. So many were their species and subspecies that no encyclopedia could chronicle each one. As such, the land over which Slough passed flourished. Could this be because of the Greater Life Wisps that constantly followed it courtesy of Niciel's Orb of Life? There seemed to be no shortage of miracles nowadays.

Slough did not simply walk though. The once-ghoul of the Deepwood ran from the place in the north where it awoke, headed swiftly and steadily southwest. Over snowy taiga and enormous grasslands it ran, ignorant to or indifferent of the bounty of life that thrived in its wake. It encountered mountains where demihuman beings dwelled and crossed them, unperturbed by the place's denizens. In time, the residents of that range would think of the wooden creature's pilgrimage as a blessing, for the hardy trees and plentiful game that arose on the path it took would benefit their lives. No matter the tongue, this trail of life became known simply as 'the Streak'. Of course, Slough did not pause even for a single day in its tireless and mysterious trek. After the mountains came a new, treacherous place: a steamy jungle, suffused with poison and mutagenic, toxic pools.

In here, the life-deer finally slowed its pace. With caution it navigated the tangle of trees, vines, and briars. When it encountered a creature it felt no obligation to contend with, it simply stood still, and in that moment became less of a tree-garbed animal and more of an animal-shaped tree. Before long the beasts in question would move on, and the journey would resume. Slough took special care not to step into any of the Venomweald's infamous pools. Ultimately, though, no amount of patience and deliberation forestalled the arrival of a certain despicable thing.

As Slough came to the top of a little mound in the jungle, where a rocky deposit prevented the growth of trees, the earth began to shake. It watched small animals leaping from tree to tree or scampering along the ground in an attempt to flee from the source of the ominous vibrations, but Slough did not move. A huge, dark shape, like a loaded stormcloud hinted at by thunder, could be glimpsed through the trees. At last, with a great crash, the Venomweald Writhe appeared before its prey, trees bent like matchsticks beneath its awesome bulk.

Fleshy tendrils of plantmatter extended toward the life-deer, eager to snare and crush. Slough, however, remained unmoved. With an air of tranquility it turned its head so that the right side faced the Writhe, and inside the socket the white light burned. It smouldered with malice and mercy; the memories of death, rebirth, and a terrible curse radiated from that twisted soul. Faced with this, the Writhe, though eyeless, saw something profound. Though its tiny, primal mind could not comprehend what visions washed over it, its very existence became suffused by knowledge of what was, what is, and what should be.

In this manner, Slough helped the Venomweald Writhe remember what an indescribable something made it forget.

What is the Great One's will return to It.

Instantly, it slumped over. One could tell by looking at it that its life hadn't been extinguished, though it might have just as well been for how much it moved. Still, after a few moments, its great flowerbud mouth squirmed, and a precious thing escaped from its vile, massive prison. A multicolored soul, small in size but vast in legacy drifted toward the life-deer. Its light, bright white at the center but with a prismatic corona of green, red, blue, and yellow, suggested the sun.

The soul of the sovereign of seasons.

Slough opened its mouth, and the soul flitted in between the root spikes to disappear down its throat. It did not change or fade away, but remained inside for safekeeping. Seemingly satisfied, Slough took one last look at the lifeless plantmass, turned, and began to walk away. The pull toward a point in the sky strained harder than ever, but before the call could be heeded, there was work to be done.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Rtron
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Rtron Knight Radiant

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Vestec, Level 4 God of Chaos

Might: 8

Free point: 3

Vestec crashed through a mountain the, now burning, landscape of his Realm of Madness. My, My, Mammon's really changed the place. He mused, picking himself up from the hole he made in the center of it. More of his Divine blood pooled in the hole, pouring from the gash that nearly severed his arm from his shoulder. He looked up at the God of Death, dark winged and Scythe at the ready. "Reathos, is this about your precious Pronobii?" He called, rolling his shoulder as it reknit itself. "I'm sorry your precious genocidal maniacs were all nearly killed by-" He dodged to the side as Reathos' scythe tore through the rest of the mountain, sheering it in half. Vestec appeared on the other side, giggling.

"Not in the mood for talking? I understand. I'd be upset too if my chosen race was on the brink of extinction." Reathos charged, forcing Vestec to dodge to the side again. This time, however, he kicked the God of Death through the mountain. "Come now Reathos. You can't win this. Especially not while angry." Vestec chided. The rest of the mountain exploded as Reathos burst free, rubble rained down as he swept his scythe towards Vestec. The God of Chaos ducked, hand forming claws to rake Reathos' stomach. As more Divine blood fell to the ground (interestingly enough Reathos' blood was black and stinking of rot, where Vestec's was bright and constantly changing colors and smells) and the God of Death stumbled backwards, Vestec's claws hooked under his chin and threw him across the landscape.

Vestec leapt up and followed, zooming over the burning lands to come down in a frigid tundra, examining the furrow Reathos had made. "You look like you hit hard, bro-" He snarled, his colors flashing violently red, as Reathos' scythe cut through his ankle, making him fall to the ground. "Sneak attacks? After such bravery? For shame!" He hissed, rolling to the side as the Scythe came crashing down, creating a great crack for miles in the earth. Vestec threw up a hand Pure Chaos energy slammed into Reathos' body, throwing the Lord of Death hundreds of feet back only to crash into a steaming heap on the ground. Vestec picked himself up, testing his leg. "What did you think to accomplish, Reathos? You're attacking me in a realm crafted from my essence, shaped by Mammon's essence. You possess neither. You're doomed to los-" Vestec darted back as Reathos attacked again, his scythe tearing through the air in an attempt to cut him in half. "You can't damage my stomach, it's my least annoying part!"

Skeletal hands wrapped around Vestec's legs, hundreds of them. He glanced down, using Chaos magic to burn them away, and that was all the time Reathos needed. The God of Death hit him with all the force an angry god could muster, and they went tearing through the Realm of Madness. Demons were scattered and killed as they tore through forests of blood, mountains of skulls, temples to death and deprivation. Hellfire licked against them as they tore at each other, doused by Divine Blood. They crashed into the middle of a river, it quickly turning black and soul draining with Reathos' blood pouring into it, as Vestec tore a chunk of his chest free. The God of Chaos was thrown free, landing on the black and rocky ground. He picked himself up, bleeding profusely from dozens of wounds, his left arm barely hanging on and repairing itself. A slash went from hip to groin, gushing Vestec's ever-changing blood. Still, the mad god giggled. "What fun, what fun! Are you having as much fun as I am, Reathos?"

The God of Death burst from the river, water dripping from his remaining wing and mixing with his blood. He was in no better shape. One wing tore off, claw marks all over his body, oozing the black blood of death. Half of his face was torn off, blood gushing all over the ground. Vestec giggled again.

"We've had our fun, Death Maker. Now it's time for you to go home and tend to your flock. I'll even let them live. We've torn apart half of this realm. Go now, before I lose my pa-"

A giant skeletal hand burst from the ground behind Vestec and slammed into him, crushing him to the ground. It's fingers were claws of bones, piercing through his shoulders and arms to pin him to the ground, exposing his head for the final blow. Reathos' Scythe rose up to end it all. Vestec's colors suddenly turned a deep, dark, red.

"Enough." His voice was deep and guttural with rage, as Chaos energy burst off of him in a wave, shattering the skeletal hand and throwing Reathos back. He stood up, much longer claws out and seeming to drip with blood. "I gave you a chance Reathos." The God of Death was still struggling to pick himself up as Vestec advanced, his scythe flashing wildly out. Vestec caught it, tossing it aside. "I wonder. What happens when Death dies?"

He leapt upon Reathos, claws rising up and down with terrible speed and violence, black blood flying all throughout the air as Reathos screamed and screamed. Demons were drawn by the howling. Imps, beasts, Lords, they all came to the sounds of a God dying.

Vestec wasn't sure how long he tore at Reathos. Could have been minutes. Could have been years. Regardless when he stopped the God of Death was a bloody mess and quite, quite dead. Limbs were torn off, chest torn open, head ripped free from the body.

Slowly, Vestec's colors returned to their normal state and he tilted his head at the mess. His own wounds had long since healed, and his claws returned to his normal hands, stained black with Reathos' blood. "Well, well brother. It appears your time with us is at an end. But don't worry. I'll ensure your legacy continues on." He picked up Reathos' Scythe, hand, and head. "Lets see here..." He ripped out the Lord of Death's eyes, and cut off the top of his head. Opening the skull he ripped out Reathos' tongue, tossing it to the pile of limbs and gore.

"I'll come back for the rest of you later. Right now, I need to sow your legacy across the world."

Vestec left the Realm of Madness, rising up high upon the world. He took the seven parts of Reathos and shaped the Divine Essence lingering in them, making them less...morbid and more appealing to mortals. That done, he threw them across the world, allowing them to land where they may and whatever Mortals wished to find them could.

"Now. I have business in the Venomweald."

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Double Capybara
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Double Capybara Thank you for releasing me

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The First Parade

Featuring: Susa, Lakshmi and Chroma




A large pillar of smoke made from the Trireme signaled the end of the nautical journey. Technically there was no need to burn it, but the three who had journeyed half a world in it wanted to make their point clear.

Upon arrival, however, it took another three days before they reached Fibeslay. Not only did they have to land quite away from civilization with their odd vessel, but they had a few issues they needed to deal with, like Language and Clothing.

Thankfully the Grand Parade training and abilities permitted Salassar to solve both masterfully. Dreaming at night and studying at day was enough for him to pick up the basics of the local hain dialect. And with nothing but raw materials, like reed, leaves, and bark, he was able to craft a makeshift outfit for Susa which looked better than what most of Galbar was able to make. (Comfort, however, was not a quality Ilunabar taught very well, and the huntress would have preferred any simple loincloth over the ungodly itchy thing she got)

The spare cloak Salassar had ended up being used to cover Chroma. Hain behavior towards the odd was well known, in most tribes, not even humans were tolerated (Though this kind of behavior was rare in the Mesothalassa region).

"Are you sure Fiberslay is a peaceful place? I visited it when I was very young, and it was nothing but trouble, the chief was a maniac." A bit of nostalgia ran through Susa's mind as she remembered that ridiculous adventure. Fighting with Hain was a question of technique, many would underestimate what one little porcelain person was able to do.

"Do not worry. The old chief is long dead, the current one is an amicable musician who has been having dreams about our arrival for quite a while now" Salassar took a deep breath because he knew the next bit was a seed of trouble. "We will probably have to stay on the outer harbor. As the main village is Hain-only."

"Ah, I see. Good thing they aren't violent anymore."

Salassar stared at the huntress for a few seconds before voicing his confusion. "That is all? I could swear you would voice your distaste for their actions or be enraged at it."

"Huh? Listen, I did not survive as a traveler by being noisy at other people's land. As long as they are not trying to pierce me with arrows and spears, we are okay."

"Tsk. Chroma silently sighed in protest.




Fibeslay

current status of the journey

The signs of the village could be seen from far away. The smoke, the canoes, it was a lively place for sure. Lively, however, took a new meaning when they caught a glimpse of Fibeslay. Hovels of clay and stone heavily decorated by colorful cloth and paintings and separated by colorful (even if small) gardens.

As the group traveled across Hillisle, the harbor where most Fibeslanese
trade took place, they could see the boats being filled not only with the fish that sustained the people but also figures of wood, rugs, and pottery.

"Listen, this is the lodging for travelers. I already handed a little pretty stone to the owner and considering how entrance she looks, I guess you can basically do whatever you want.

"You can tell their emotions apart? I have to say, it takes me an effort to get the most basic crap."

"It is literally my god-given function. Now, you three, behave. I need to leave for the main village and get in contact with the chief."

Finally under the cool shade of a roof, the trio had the time to rest. Lakshmi in especial needed it, she was not a traveler or an explorer. The long journey across the ocean and even the time spent in the wilderness had taken a toll on her disposition. However, she did her best to not let that kind of thing show.

"I-It i-is luck-ky that the-ey ha-had a b-big ho-ouse" she said

"Yeah. Only place like that in the whole village too." Susa observed. "I wonder if there is some story behind it.

"Y-You said-d you-u ca-can co-communicate-te w-with..."

"Just the basics, not enough to hear a tale. Speaking of which..." She signaled for the still mesmerized Hain Host, surely the pretty stone granted them some sort of meal, right?

"Do I ask one for you too, Chroma?"

"Yeah, if you want..."

Susa finished signaling for the Hain. "Ok, what is that? What is up with you?" She asked to Chroma.

"We cannot go to the pretty city. Nobody can. Just the... little porcelain people..."

"Hain. And yeah, that is exactly what is happening. Can you do something about it? Do you want to jump into the village and punch everything until they change their mind? No?" Susa did not care much about language since they were basically the only ones who knew what she meant.

"S-Susa. D-Don't pi-pick on h-her."

"Hmm. I guess I could. But wouldn't Salassar be mad at me"

Susa stared at the girl for a few seconds. "There is much more to it than just Sally. You cannot do that stuff, you absolute lunatic.

"L-Let's j-just s-stop. C-Chromie, y-you-u can't b-be so agress-sive"

"Fine!" She pouted and crossed her arms. As much as she wanted to be on good term with the locals, there were things that were just inherently wrong.

An Awkward silence followed. Susa was keen that this was all just a bad idea, and the only reason why she didn't voice her discontentment more was that just leaving the odd girl would be irresponsible. Lakshmi believed in what Chroma said, from the amnesia to her desire to do good, she just was a little confused, nothing that a bit of socialization couldn't fix.

In the tension of the moment, Susa didn't notice the hain that owned the house getting close to her. He just wanted to warn the foreigners that the soup was ready, but when he poked the human she was more than surprised and as a huntress, her first reaction was to jump out of the little bench.

The hain made some noise and pointed toward the clay bowls. Susa sighed in relief and the other two giggled at the moment.




"No, sir, listen..." It felt silly to even try to reason with a tribal hain guard, even if you know his language, they are just far too worried.

"Get Back! Get Back! No Hairy..." The hain stared at the tall lizard-like being for a few seconds, realizing his go-to insult didn't exactly apply. "No tall... No Tallies."

Salassar sighed and brought out his bag of goods. "No see, sir. I bring gifts! Great gifts!"

The four eyes of the guard didn't even stop to stare at the stranger's pretty stuff. "No passing!"

Good thing he predicted this kind of thing, getting the guard to let him pass was not necessary at all. He only needed that the local chief listened about his arrival, and for that, the little screaming of the spearman was pretty much the perfect tool. A crowd had already gathered, so it was merely a short before...

"Stop this foolishness, Brukbrikson." A seasoned, melodic voice said before taking a good look at the stranger. "You..." he looked quite happy "So, I guess my dreams were right. Come! Come! You are my special guest."

That was quite impressive, he expected the Chief to talk to him, but not to outright invite him to his home. "Are you certain? I would hate to be a bother."

"Foolishness. And go call your friends too."




"I-It's h-has a lot-t of bo-bones..." Lakshmi commented as she stirred the rest of the fish soup with her clay spoon.

"Hain habits I guess." Susa sighed, once again noticing people out in the streets talking about her. "Lakshmi, can't I take this off?"

"N-No Na-nakedness S-Susa."

"Come on, they are commenting about me again. I don't want to live off in hain history as the plant girl or something."

"But... I thought you said you didn't know how to read Hain emotions"

"Pointing fingers and whispering is universal." Back in her days as a wanderer there was nothing even close to this, instead, the villagers were often impressed with her. It all started with Lifprasil, now she was one of the odd folk, getting into all sorts of bizarre situations.

"Hey-y Chro-ma. I-Is th-the food goo-od? Lakshmi was worried since she had mentioned that on the island where she was there was nothing edible.

The heroine had to actually think about the answer for a moment. It surely tasted like something, unlike the island stuff, but it didn't taste like fish, in fact, the water and the meat had the exact same taste.

"Yeah. It is good. this gave the Lifprasilian some relief, one less issue to think about when dealing with the child.

Even with all the issues, Susa was glad to be back to her home. Back in the days she would never have called Fibeslay her home, it felt distant, but when one sees the world, everything feels far closer. The glittering river under the intense sunlight, the humid and gentle summer breeze, the sound of kids playing in the water. Now that her home village was gone, she learned to appreciate those things.

"Hello again" said Salassar as he walked back to the lodge, his look was awfully happy.

"Yikes, I'm even scared of asking the why of that face."

"Things just went very well. We will be spending the night in the chief's hut." Salassar then moved on to whisper a few things to the lodge owner, who nodded and left for the interior of the place.

"Hey, Susa, he said he wants to give something to you."

"Eh? That is odd, hain have never gifted me anything but flying arrows and rocks to the face".

"Heh. Maybe you just got yourself a little porcelain skinned boyfriend"

The hain returned carrying some sort of clothing, again, he talked to Salassar, who was the only foreigner who understood his language.

"He said a long time he got involved in a fishing accident and a human saved his life. This was what motivated him to make his lodging big enough to support all kinds of people. He left some of his clothes behind back then, and since you looked so uncomfortable at your clothing, he thought about giving it to you as a payment." It was hard for him to suppress the need to complain about the criticism to the gorgeous outfit he had crafted.

"Ahh, y-you d-did meant-ti-on t-that th-there was pro-probably some s-story to t-the why-y of the-e lo-lodging being so b-big." Lakshmi recalled, but soon she noticed the huntress was distant as she looked at the clothing. From her previous behavior, the lifprasilian expected her to be jumping in joy, instead she just stared at it.

"Are you fine?" Chroma was the first to ask the obvious

"Oh, sorry. It was nothing."

"You are lying, though." Chroma pouted again.

"Okay, you got me. It is used male clothing. I was just thinking if it was best to be called plant girl or go around using clothing that I barely fit into." the shock was gone by now, from all the places, this was the last she would have expected to find something like it. What it meant, Susa had yet to be sure, the outfit could have been stored for a long while, it didn't mean he was alive.

"Well, that settles it then. Go get changed, we do not want to leave the chief waiting."

And the huntress did exactly that, walking back into the lodge. Chroma didn't buy a single world of what she said, though, she could taste the bitterness.




"Ah, so these are your companions right?" Asked the leader of the Fiberslayer clan.

"Indeed..." Salassar wasn't so sure about this, he did his best to hide his anxiety. This was the most important parade point, he could not risk to mess it up.

"I'm Susa. I'm a huntress and I come from a village near the Obscure Valleys. Susa kept a calm demeanor, but that was shattered when the chief rushed to wave her hands.

"The master huntress! The leather you taught people how to produce shows up on our habits from time to time. It's a great honor to meet you."

"I a-am Lakshmi-i, ser-servant of Lifprasil-il, gua-guardian of Alefpriel-el" and again, the chief rushed to greet her close and personally.

"Salassar told me about you. You look as mighty as his tales described, yet I see that he forgot to tell about your aura of kindness."

"And the last one should be..." all the other were tense at this point, except Chroma, who let the Cloak loose a bit and announced with full grandeur.

"I'm Chroma. A hero of justice and protector of the weak."

"So I heard." once again, he was shaking hands. "You say those words with unmatched confidence. I have sung many tales of heroes but never had I seen someone proclaim such things with such joy."

"Those..." there was no word to describe how relieved Salassar felt. "Are the ones who are protecting me on this journey.

"The Eventide Star must really cherish you. A master huntress, a towering protector and a hero of justice." the clan leader chuckled.

"Now," he announced "I believe we have some matters to deal with. That can wait, however. Take your time to properly accommodate. I will just talk with my servants and return in a moment."

And with that, he left. Leaving the wanderers alone in the hall.

"He speaks our tongue..." The common tongue, that most heroes and other supernatural beings shared. Before, Susa had only seen it in the mouth of sculptors, but once introduced to the divine, it was everywhere.

"He is a wise man." and there was the fact Ilunabar had spent months training the chief into it. "I avoided mentioning Alefpriel however, I hope you all do the same. Susa and Lakshmi nodded in response, Chroma was just confused.

"H-he seemed-d to be a go-o-od man. But I b-bet at least-t one of us mu-must be full of sus-suspicion." she said it while looking at Susa. In her mind, it was best to get it out of the way now.

"Nah. Look, that is the clan's hatchery" Susa pointed towards the room in which a few hain eggs were deposited. "It takes a lot of trusts for a little porcelain fella to let someone near their eggs without supervision. He has full confidence that we are not here to mess up his life and land.

"Whaaat? Are they born from eggs? Freakish" The Clashing World kept becoming odder and odder the further she explored it. The many different sorts of alien people were also very curious, even if there seemed to be some tension going on.

"Salassar. If you have the chance, could you just tell a thing to mister Fiberslayer? I think... it doesn't matter if you are feathered, lizard-faced, opaque and leathery, some sort of bird-turtle skeleton thing or normal. I think everyone should be able to visit the village." she crossed her arms. Yes, the people looked nice and she had given up on punching them, that didn't mean she would let injustice stand.

"I...I will see what I can do." Salassar really wished his dreaming time hadn't turned so odd recently. He really needed to communicate with Ilunabar directly and ask about Chroma, but for some reason, his concentration had been weak ever since the girl first showed up.




For the rest of the night, the wanderers enjoyed all of Fibeslay's hospitality. Unlike their bony lunch, they were served with a sumptuous dinner, with the best game and vegetables of the region. Rooms were also prepared for them, the clan leader making sure that the four would have resting places fit for their heights (Which was a bit hard, especially for Lakshmi).

Finally, at the late night, Salassar and Bard Fiberslayer found the time to properly discuss the issues of the Parade. The place of choice was in the back of the chieftain's house, where one could see the many stars in the sky.

"Sir, I know this question might sound odd. But was your reaction to the Jv... I mean, the Mutilator-kin being, sincere? I know it is terrible to doubt your intentions, but maybe my other guards could have intimidated you?"

"No, Salassar. Listen, I never saw any spawn of the mutilator saying that they were heroes. The legends don't talk about the fiberbeast being particularly into good deeds either. Is she a bit disgusting? Surely. But she talks, and her speech sounds sincere."

"Perhaps a bit too sincere. I do not know, I tried talking to her but barely anything she says makes sense." Salassar shook his head. "But there is no use in rambling about this. About my proposal...

"From what I got, you want me to build some sort of beacon..."

"A lighthouse, yes. At the top of the Hillisle"

"That appears to be a difficult task. We will need to lift the rocks to the top of the hill. And to keep the fire lit... That will take a lot of oil."

"It will start as a burden, but with time, it will bring benefits to your people. Not only those that Ilu... The Eventide Star will bring.

"I don't even know if I want my people to be benefited. Did you see the way they treated you?" the chieftain sighed.

"Huh? Sorry, I do not think I follow your thought.

"I can be the lord of these lands, but I have no power over people's mind. My songs and tales can perhaps sway the course of the river, but it will never go uphill."

The chieftain brought up a couple of wooden figures he had, they depicted many Hain, all, however, looked far more marvelous than the average mortal one.

"Your arrival brought me joy but also worry. These are our gods. All built to look exactly like us. This pretty one is the Eventide Star. The deformed two headed one is the Mutilator. The one standing on a cloud is Sky Father. The one with the leash is the Porcelain Devil. But then one godsent being appears, and neither he, nor his guards, look anything like us."

"I see. But you are not wrong about your impressions..."

"Sweet words, but I doubt they hold any meaning. But I guess this is all I am going to get. There are things I can't control..."

Salassar stared at the chieftain for a few seconds, analyzing his every move and feelings. "Children problems?"

"Ah! Well... Yes. I have been thinking a lot recently. I barely can teach my kids properly. Then they will grow, have their own children, and barely teach then properly too. Given enough time, no matter how benign of a ruler I am, this clan might end up falling in the hands of someone as bitter as my predecessor."

"And you expected that building up a rich culture would help to teach them properly. But now you see that even your culture has flaws. And you know that with enough time even it will be twisted, just like the tales you sing."

"... Chippers say that one day even the stars will be forgotten. A very scary thought, that is. I can't help but believe that one day, no matter how huge the influence of my village is... It will just be forgotten."

"All things must pass. Even if the village stays exactly where it is, do you believe that the people from ten or twenty generations in the future will be anything like the ones of today?"

"So that is it then..."

"Be a good ruler while you can. There are things beyond your control, but there are a lot of decisions that you can make now."

"I guess it would be irresponsible... I will build the beacon. Just tell me one last thing... What is the Grand Parade?"

Salassar smiled. "You will know when it happens."
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by WrongEndoftheRainbow
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WrongEndoftheRainbow

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Mesera and Furem

Mercy and Wrath
0 Khookies
Level 1




Tell me a story, little Kitsune.

Once, there was a man. He was merciful, yet wrathful. All men basked in the light of his mercy, yet all men suffered his wrath eventually; so they shunned him.

Did he kill them all?

One day, he was given an amulet.

By whom?

By those who knew that he would need a friend.

What did this amulet do?

It split the man down the middle. It separated his wrath and his mercy, and though one may be shunned, they would always have a friend.

They would always have a friend.




The two were a single entity, yet they were not the same. One lived for the kill, and one did not. The binding feature was that they both defended the weak, the helpless. One, yet two. A paradoxical equation forced into existence. One was already spreading as a legend, the graceful masked fox, the healer. But what they had yet to see was the friend of the fox, the one trusted companion. They, together, roamed the forest; they searched, seeking out the weak and the strong.

The strong was to be made humble, the weak uplifted. Such was the way of the two, the altogether one. The wrath was unwelcome, the mercy lauded and invited. What the peoples of the lands north of the steppes did not know, however, was that when they shunned one, they shunned the other. When they celebrated one, they celebrated the other. No matter what they did, it was folly.

Such was the way of the fox and the wolf. But what would they shun, if they had not yet seen the one they should hate? This was to be changed soon, as Furem had located his mark. He was now the one in charge, the fox receding back into the mind as the body and mind of the wolf thrust forwards.

The tribe of Vands was a grouping of barbarians mainly made up of Hain, some humans within their ranks. Their species was not important, however. Instead, the emphasis lied in their actions. They had pillaged and murdered, killing men, woman, and child alike in their path of destruction. But in this land, you cut off the head, and the rest of the snake dies. United under a single leader, they are strong. But divided with no clear successor, they will soon fall.

The day was a nice one, birds chirping happily in the trees. Not a cloud in sight, the sun shone brightly upon the light forest canopy. The waft of flowers tinted the air, the occasional buzzing of a bee audible. Everything was lovely, a perfect day interrupted only by the heavy steps of Furem. Smoke rose in the distance, a large bonfire. A large enough bonfire to keep a tribe of hundreds warm. Not that they needed to be warm, however. The area was comfortable, not too high a temperature yet not too low.

Just a perfect day, soon to be tainted with the blood of whatever unfortunate Hain lead the tribe of barbarians. That was one thing the people in the region truly appreciated: direct honesty. There was no need for lies, no need for political maneuvering. All you needed was a display of naked force and a sense of honor. A sense of honor, however, was what these Hain lacked. Therefore, Furem had decided to end their rampaging early.

The tribe of four hundred people was fairly average sized, unlike the petty tribes Mesera had focused on. Furem worked on a larger scale, focusing on the strong rather than the weak and petty. No matter the case, the smoke was getting closer. Furem couldn't take one a hundred and fifty warriors, so instead he skirted the edge of the camp. He spotted it quickly, the largest and most grandiose tent. Around it were wagons (North of the steppes people have wheels: Yell at me in OOC if you feel might should be spent on this) filled with whatever magnificent and glittering items they found.

It was at the edge of the camp, making room in the clearing for the other shelters. This in itself presented an opportunity for Furem, and he skirted around to the back of the tent, avoiding the sentries on watch. With a couple neat slices with his brutally sharp claws, he opened up the furs and hides of the tent. Slipping inside, he quickly grabbed the attention of the chieftain, who clearly didn't regard the creature highly. The Hain angled his head slightly backward, smoothly speaking. "A wild creature? We kill you often. In fact, I think I can do this on my own."

"Death is coming. I know your name," this snapped the Hain out of his contemptuous mannerisms, and he took on an almost hostile emotion. "You talk? And you threaten me with death? I could call my guards in here at any time and have you killed. What power do you have here?" Furem responded simply, "I don't. But you can run, and you can hide, but eventually I will cut you down. I didn't come here bringing forgiveness or peace. So prepare your hunting parties, and let us begin the hunt. Search the shadows for me."

The Hain narrowed his eyes, baring his teeth. As Furem exited the tent, the Chieftain said one last parting word to him, "Gladly." With that, as the wolf merged silently back into the forest, the Hain exited his tent and began organizing his warriors. The hunt would be on soon enough, and soon enough did it come. There were fifty hunting parties, each with three Hain in it. The tribe's human warriors were also spread out here and there in the ranks of the largely Hain tribe.

They began to scour the forest for the wolf, rampaging through the underbrush. After all, what they were looking for wasn't small, therefore there was no need for stealth, right? If they spotted it, it was done for. They could yell for other hunting parties and box the damned thing in. The Chieftain himself decided to lead a hunting party, leading it throughout the forest. He would prove the wolf that he would not be the one meeting death.

For hours they hunted, following tracks that lead to nothing, catching tufts of fur that had been left far too long ago for them to act one. The wolf was elusive prey, but in the end, all prey had to be found. Whether or not that prey would win against its predator was a different matter, however. The day was beginning to wean, shadows starting to claim the forest. They had one shot at this, and they had to find the wolf and kill it before it could escape.

That is when the wolf found the Chieftain's hunting party. Furem deliberately cracked a stick under his paw, catching the attention of the hunting party. "I've hunted you down, and I'm here to kill the beast!" the Hain called tauntingly, taking up his spear and throwing it into the undergrowth. It did not meet anything, and the two other members of the part folded out in front of him, spears outheld.

That is when Furem charged, flying out of the undergrowth, spear in hand. It had missed him, yes, but it landed close enough for him to grab. The spear was thrown once again, this time meeting its target. One of the hunters fell, the spear in their eye. As Furem began the dance of the hunt with the remaining spearman, the Chieftain drew the spear back out of his tribesman's head.

The spear of the other tribe member was grabbed, and as quickly as the grab came, the tribesman was dead. A claw had met him in the face, leaving deep gouges. The Chieftain charged spear outheld. Furem dived, flying over the spear unexpectedly. One tackle later, the Chieftain was pinned without a spear. He spat out, "Barmherzigkeit won't stand for this! You'll fall! Barmherzigkeit will kill you!" Furem paused for a moment, asking, "So he would always have a friend?"

"So he would always have a friend."

The Chieftain was no more.

The legend of Zorn, the wolf of wrath, would soon spread just the same as the fox of mercy.





The Demigod of Secrets

Level: 1
Might: 1


Lazarus looked irritatingly at the gem. With no god essences, he could not attempt any artificial infusions. So instead, it was time for him to focus on detecting the energy. How to measure it? This was the main question of the day. He focused all of his energy into detecting the natural weft and weave of fluctuating energy, pouring divine energy into it. For to measure it, one must know it. Once he knew it, then he could begin drafting the blueprints for a machine. Of course, getting it built was another issue entirely. He could no longer make inquiries from the temple of crafting, but the freedom the valley gave him was more than enough to make up for it.

While the finest of fluctuations were lost on him, it was definitely a start. He took another gem and infused it with the focused essence. It would serve as the heart of the machine, and it would help him set up the baseline of divine energy so that he may create a measurement system for the divine. Once you standardized it, you could artificialize it. That was the goal, and the goal was definitely within his grasp.

He could see a few gods benefiting from it, which was a good reason for him to keep it a secret. That which is rare is valuable, and that which is valuable you do not disrespect. He would decide when and where what the gods knew of the divine energy, and how exactly he would be able to tell would be his secret. The blueprints could possibly be gleaned for information, yes, but the finer workings would be lost on the one who did not already know its purpose and understood the energies of the divine such as he did.

He would draft the blueprint soon enough, but first, he needed to check on his fruit. He exited the cave, entering the warm sun. It would've been almost blinding compared to the cave if he had eyes. Making his way through the quickly forming footpath down to his plants, he inspected each and every tree. They were growing well, thankfully. He would need test subjects, however, and perhaps the goblins Vestec spoke of would be a good idea. He began his trek into the mountains.

Easily enough he came across a small grouping of them, and he decided a show of shock and awe would get them to follow him into the valley. Entering the middle of the grouping with surprising speed, he spoke loudly and clearly, "I have a place for you. One that is fertile, and one where I will protect you. So I will give you two choices, bask in the prosperity of my blessings, or be killed here and now."

The choice was obvious. Soon, he had a troupe of Roivaick following him, being lead to the valley. Once they arrived, he directed them to a particularly fertile spot and told them to set up camp. And with that done, he returned to his cave. There were things to draft, blueprints to create, gods to seek out. So many things to do. So little time to do them.
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Muttonhawk Let Slip the Corgis of War

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Stand
Part 3

Starring...
Yang'Ze, Avatar of Ull'Yang, 42 Might & 5 Free Points
Custos, Avatar of Kyre, 31 Might & 6 Free Points
Goliath, Avatar of Teknall, 25.5 Might & 1 Free Point
Violence, Avatar of Vestec, 7 Might & 3 Free Points

Butted In...
The Vicegerent, Avatar of Vowzra, 11 Might & 6 Free Points
Brown, Avatar of Astarte, 34 Might & 6 Free Points




Violence ripped his foot up as soon as he felt roots trying to grasp it and, seeing swords about to hit him once more, let go of Goliath's spear and ducked and rolled under the blades. There was a whistling sound as a third, rather large, blade soared through where he had been a moment ago. Goliath parried the over-swung axe with the weapons in his remaining two free hands, then moved all his arms back into their ready positions.

"Really now. This is just unfair! And I thought Combat was supposed to be honorable Kyre! You can't even work up the nerve to face me by yourself. Tsk. Tsk. I would love to stay and chat, but unless you'd like to move this fight to the Hain Village I really must get going back to my Horde. Toodles!" All this Violence said while side-stepping away from crossbow bolts and dodging out of reach of Goliath.

With that, Violence sped off towards his horde. Custos raced ahead, wings bursting out to fly overhead. He dropped down right in front of the wannabe escapist, hunching down slightly to use his shoulder to bring Violence to an abrupt stop.

Violence leapt over the stopped Custos whilst using the back of his foot to kick Custos out of balance and hopefully throw Custos to the ground, as well as to propel himself further away. "Can't stop! No time!"

With their attempts at slowing down the escaping Violence continuously failing and having to deal with Violence's sarcastic comments all the time, Yang'Ze was beginning to lose his patience. At first, he was going easy on Vestec's Avatar, trying only to capture him and not outright kill him as he didn't have any previous differences with Vestec. However, seeing as Violence was hell-bent on pissing them off, he decided to just go all out.

"You forced my hand, Vestec!" Yang'Ze growled. He raised his arms high in the sky, his palms cupping the mid-day sun that was at its highest point at the time. The stellar Avatar's irises glowed a fierce red color, much resembling the color of a star's burning core.

After a split second moment of silence, countless rays of burning sunlight descended upon Galbar, raining down at the location of their battle. Yang'Ze manipulated the rays, guiding them towards the fleeing Violence. Wherever the rays hit, the ground cracked, made devoid of any moisture. The plants, as well as any other life for that matter, were burned to ashes and carried away by the wind.

At the same time as he was controlling the sunfire rays, Yang'Ze's Sunderer flew over him and transformed into a peculiar weapon. It consisted of four, divine essence infused black spheres, all connected with four reddish coloured chains to a small, black metal ring.

This unique weapon started to slowly spin above Yang'Ze's head and after a couple of seconds, it suddenly shot forward towards Violence whilst spinning. "This is an experimental transformation! You should feel honored to be the first one I'm using it on, Vestec's Avatar!" Yang'Ze shouted. This form, much like the chain form he used previously, was only meant for binding his targets. However, this form was ten, no, one hundred times better at doing just that.

Custos was knocked forward by the kick, but immediately regained his balance and made as if to throw his great axe at the fleeing avatar. Instead, he sensed danger from the sky. What could come from the sk- Just in time, Custos knelt down and summoned an ethereal shield, appearing like a bubble over himself to shield him from the sunbeam.

"Well. I'm glad to see you're honorable enough to hold back on this three versus one fight until I've forced your hand." Violence replied, voice dripping with sarcasm. Sunlight began streaming down, burning everything in its path. A group of shields appeared between him and the burning light, refreshing every few seconds as they melted. Violence took a step, only to hear all of his shields shatter as four balls on a chain tore through them and crashed into him, wrapping his arms and legs. Violence hit the ground with a thump.

"At least buy me dinner first."

With a flare of rocket jets and a heavy thud on landing, Goliath dropped down from the sky beside the prone and bound body of Violence. Violence was vulnerable. This was its chance. With a clawed foot it held Violence in place, then it lifted up its spear with two hands and thrust it downwards. It clanged off a shield, created by Violence.

"Come now. I've been a pain this long, surely you won't expect me to just lay down and die!" Violence chided.

Goliath swung its war hammer, bashing the shield aside, before driving the spear down once more. It clanged off another shield.

"And I thought Teknall made smart robots." Violence mused, looking up from his helpless position. The cycle continued, Goliath tearing a shield out of the way, attempting to kill the Avatar of Chaos, only to be stopped by another shield. It sounded like a terrible version of Illunabar's drums.

The sunfire rays stopped raining down on Galbar. Yang'Ze lowered his arms and the fire in his eyes died out, his irises returning to their former cloudy golden color. He walked over to the fallen Violence who was at that moment trying to defend himself from Goliath's spear attacks.

He looked as Goliath mindlessly attacked Violence, only to find itself being continuously stopped by Violence's barriers. For a moment, Yang'Ze found himself agreeing with Violence; "Wasn't Teknall controlling Goliath from afar? Why is he giving it such simple commands..." Yang'Ze sighed.

Goliath's barrage of futile attacks ceased. Perhaps it had been hoping to outlast Violence. It still stood poised above Violence, ready to strike at any time.

"I presume I have fulfilled my part in this, right?" Yang'Ze said out loud for Teknall to hear. "I have captured him, and although I would love to crush him right now, I do not want Vestec banging on my door, looking for trouble..." Yang'Ze said.

"Vestec looking for trouble? He would never! He only wants to have fun, it's you all who cause the trouble!"Violence called out.

"As for you, the moment you even think about resisting the restraint of my Sunderer, its protective enchantments will go off and you will probably become meat paste. I suggest you cooperate with Kyre's demands," Yang'Ze turned to Violence and said.

"My, my Yangy. You want me all tied up that badly? I'm flattered." Violence winked before continuing. "It wouldn't be meat more like...I dunno what I'm made of actually. Not meat, though!"

Goliath's face turned to Yang'Ze. Its expression was unmoving as ever, and the rest of its stance did not change from its readiness to strike Violence. "You have done well," resonated Teknall's voice. "I think we can consider your debt repaid in full. As soon as Kyre and I deal with Violence, you may take the Sunderer and part ways." Its head turned to Custos. "Shall we destroy him now?"

"Let's not get too hasty here. I'm fun! I can be nice, kind, loving, helpful to small chil-okay, I'm lying but killing me seems like an excessive measure." Violence spoke, somewhat cheerfully.

The sunbeam gone, Custos' shield vanished and he looked to Goliath. Violence was finally trapped and unable to escape. Walking calmly over to them, he spoke, "Yang'Ze, I hope to one day speak with Ull'Yang personally, it would be too long since we should have actually met." He looked to Goliath, "Yes, let's get this over with." After this, was the village battle, and they did not need their avatars there.

Yang'Ze nodded in agreement to Custos' suggestion.

"By letting me go ri-" Violence was cut off by another voice.

"Let us get this over with indeed!" came a distant voice, which resonated in the air as much as it resonated within the minds of all the avatars. From the heavens there descended a great turtle. On one shoulder sat Brown, and upon his head sat an innocuous human woman who none would recognise. The turtle landed not too far from Goliath and surveyed the situation.

"My my, is this not quite the sight! Let the earth and heavens tremble at the thunderous clash of the gods!" he slowly sat down and looked at them all, "come, brothers, and listen to me, for I have a matter of supreme importance to relay to you. And woe is yours and woe is mine if you do not heed me. The Time has come for you to put aside these differences of yours. The Time has come for you to awaken to the true danger which slowly weaves its subtle web around us all. You all fight one another for no reason at all, you weaken one another while your true enemy grows stronger. Awaken, ye gods, and cease this foolishness! Awaken, Chaotic One, and turn your Violence against the one who deserves it. You there Blinding Sun, what quarrel have you with Vestec? Brother Creator, why fight you Chaos and ally with the Jvanic Flesh when Chaos is but what you wield and mould and craft? You there, you Master of War, why attack Violence when that is but a face of war? Do you not see that you have no cause for fighting? Do you not see that your energies are best used against a greater foe? Heed me and cease this, and let us here sit in peace as allies today, that we may face our great Jvanic foe together tomorrow. The sands slip swiftly away, so stop and do as I say! Or you'll awaken one day and your lot will be dismay."

"I like this turtle." Violence commented.

Goliath's head snapped around to look at the Vicegerent. "Hold up, what's wrong with Jvan?" Despite communicating remotely, the indignation in Teknall's tone was evident. The turtle looked at Goliath.

"Did you never pause, Brother Creator, to wonder why it is that I embedded all beings with a dislike for it? Did you think I was only doing so for play? The Jvanic Entity is the greatest danger in existence and we must unite together to stop it now before it is too late. Brother Creator, you have united with it in the past, but let that not fool you now. You have but to look at some of what it has done to gain deeper understanding into the monumental danger it is placing all in. It is ill. It must be cured. We must unite in order to do that."

"What I see is Jvan making artists and wildlife, while you want to fight her for being a little weird."

"She creates monsters and rapes the mortals Teknall, my dear boy. That's a tad bit more than 'weird' I mean, have you looked into space recently?" Violence pointed out, watching the two talkers.

"Not at all!" the turtle laughed, "Astarte is pretty weird! Have no desire to fight her at all. Vestec is a downright nutcase too, but I'm fine with him. For no- uh, for the most part. Fighting Jvan is not something I wish for, I take no delight in it, and I do not do so because it is 'weird'. I do so because I can see the Time-Stream and know that she is a danger just as clearly as I know that Vestec, whom you fight so passionately now, is no great danger to the universe at all. The only danger comes from your over-reactions to him. Jvan, however, is a completely different creature. She must be cured, or else..."

Yang'Ze had been standing silently beside Violence and hearing everything that was being said when he decided to intervene. "Vowzra, long time no see. Since the last time we two met, millions of years have passed. You did not seem to bear this hatred towards Jvan at the time, so what changed? Why do you seek our help in committing such a grave sin as fratricide?"

"Fratricide!?" the turtle seemed rather startled by Yang'Ze's interpretation of all he had said, "not fratricide! Though, of course, it is not something I would not do if the Fate of the world depended on it. No, in this case, we need not do anything but cure the Jvanic Entity. It is ill, gravely deformed. It has always been gravely deformed and I have always wished to cure it, brother. But my Sight was not always clear and I did not always know how to do it. And now I see with a clear and piercing Sight, and the Timeline dictates that I turn to you all. So will you not join your hands with mine for the good of all - including the Jvanic Flesh?"

Yang'Ze could not believe what came out of Vowzra's mouth. "You actually admitted in wanting to commit this vile act?" Yang'Ze bitterly said, a hint of anger concealed behind his words. "This 'curing' of yours; Have you ever thought of the possibility that It's in Jvan's nature to be how she is and act how she does?" Yang'Ze asked with an increasingly loud voice.

"You said it yourself! Your Sight is not always clear! There are countless possibilities and thus, an infinite number of futures! Why must you be so absolute, oh Brother of mine?"

"This is rather high and mighty from someone who just threatened to crush me into a fine paste. As for Vowzra, I don't quite think you're listening, Yangy. He said he doesn't want to, but he will if he absolutely has to. Like how you don't want to kill me, but you will if I try to break your bondage." Violence spoke up from behind his shield, eyeing Goliath's spear.

For the first time, the Vicegerent seemed visibly angered by what was being said and the accusations levelled against him by Yang'Ze.

"Listen, brother, for you speak less than you know and nothing good can come of that. What are these 'infinite' futures you speak of? Have you seen the Timelines that you can declare there are an infinite number of futures? Have you travelled within them and become one with them as have I? What right have you to speak of that which you have little knowledge before one who has greater knowledge? And along with ignorance you disrespect me and accuse me of what I have not done or said. To protect you all there is nothing I would not do, even fratricide! I admit that without shame or fear, for the protection and safety of all far outweighs the interests of one," with this said, the Vicegerent seemed to calm down. Then he continued.

"What we see before us as Jvan's nature cannot be its nature - for it is not natural! All I seek is to cure it of what is unnatural, of what endangers everybody. And even if that were its nature, is it not better that its nature be changed into something that will not endanger you, and you, and you, and this one on the ground, and this one on my shoulder and this one on my head, and the very earth we stand upon and Universe we have together brought forth? Why do you point accusing fingers at me and vilify me when all I wish for is your wellbeing? Is this how you greet the messenger warning you of the awful catastrophe which this way comes? By accusing him of being the catastrophe itself?" the turtle looked visibly offended, though part of him had known that they would react thus.

Yang'Ze stayed silent through all of the Vicegerent's argument. Indeed, when it came to Time and Fate, there was no one more knowledgeable about the subject amongst them siblings than Vowzra. What Yang'Ze uttered about infinite futures was just a theory of his, something he used to ponder a lot back when he had secluded himself inside the vast Deepwood.

But having such knowledge does not give one the right to commit fratricide, the act Vowzra so brazenly admitted in front of six of his siblings - Yang'Ze had already noticed the familiar essence of Astarte that surrounded the female sitting on the turtle's shoulder.

"What you deem natural might not always be so, Vowzra," Yang'Ze said calmly, evidently by the tone of his voice. "I agree that we, as gods, should do everything in our power to protect the Universe from external as well as internal dangers," he said while looking at the Vicegerent condescendingly.

"However," he walked forward. "That does not mean that we should point fingers and vilify, as you said and for which I am sorry. Have you thought of the possibility of resolving this hatred between you and Jvan peacefully?" Yang'Ze asked Vowzra through his avatar.

Custos, standing between them, waited silently as the others spoke, always keeping an eye on Violence. The only change in his stance was pretending to cover his ears when voices were raised and a sense of annoyance emanated from him. Finally, he had a turn to speak, and so Kyre spoke, "Is there not a way to cure Jvan without killing her? What is her affliction in the first place?" A pause before speaking again, "I have not seen anything that would make me want to fight her. But neither have I been traveling in this world."

"I doubt anything I can say can truly sway you. This is purely a matter of trust. If you trust me, then take me by the hand and let us, all of us, unite to protect the Universe. Suffice to say that there is much which, if it became visible and clear, can no longer be prevented. We must act now before the Cancer becomes bloated and beyond healing, let us at it together. Come, let us," he extended a clawed hand out to his brothers and waited on their final verdict.

"She RAPES MORTALS and turns them AGAINST THEIR WILL into MONSTERS. Vestec does the same thing, minus the raping bit, and you all throw a fit and are up in arms. It's because she's 'a bit odd' isn't it? You feel bad if you prosecute her. Double standard!" Violence spoke up again.

Seeing as Vowzra refused to answer his question and continued to push the notion that Jvan was Ill and in need of a cure, Yang'Ze shook his head and sighed dejectedly, before walking back beside Violence and sitting down.

"You delusional brother of mine," Yang'Ze whispered before closing his eyes and entering meditation. He would argue with Vowzra no longer, lest his anger consumed him, threatening to turn him down the path his brother oh so strongly wished to tread.

"Hey, Hey! I'm the delusional one." Violence spoke indignantly.

"Explain more what you mean by cure, Vowzra. You will never get an answer from me at this rate."

"So far your only justification for what you do is from visions only you can see. So far you have given us little reason to trust your version of events-"

A verifiable host of weapons suddenly rained on the gathered Avatars, seeming to purposefully aim for their heads. All the edges were dulled and it was all rather merely annoying rather than harmful.

"Do I have your attention now?" Violence asked in a false sugary sweet voice.

Custos summoned a small ethereal shield to deflect them out of instinct, annoyance once again emanating from him. "What!?"

Every weapon that touched Yang'Ze's body melted with the molten metal trickling down his body and on the ground. Yang'Ze opened his eyes and looked at Violence next to him. Meanwhile, the ones that landed on the Vicegerent's head just bounced off. The big turtle rubbed his head and looked at Violence expectantly.

"Good! Since I don't want to go over what I've been saying for the past five years, let me sum it up. Jvan is raping mortals and turning them into monsters against their will. The 'sculptors' often don't want to be what they are until their very minds are changed to think this is a good idea. She's crafted monstrosities in space to hunt down Zephyrion's Djinn. That's not even considering whatever she crafted in space. It's a breeding ground for her little...creations.

"The Rovaick are filled with unwanted halfbreeds. Jvan raped them into existence. I do any of these things and you all try to kill me. As evidenced by this bondage. Jvan does it and you're all suddenly protective. 'But you can't harm her for being who she is!' you cry out against this, rather nice, turtle. He mentions something he will do only if absolutely necessary, and you assume it's his only solution. For shame! For shame I say! 'Cure' could mean anything, it's Vowzra, but he specifically said it's not murder unless absolutely necessary. So calm down and LISTEN."


Violence paused, looking at them. "Not having to breathe is wonderful for a long stream of words, wouldn't you agree?"

Custos' eyes would have narrowed, if they could, "Vowzra, can you prove if what he has said is true or not?"

"You're an omnipotent God. Look into a sculptor's mind and memories. Like what I did with that Pronobii! You know, the one you told me to just genocide his entire race?" Violence said.

"I may be omnipotent, but I've only been to a couple places on Galbar, and you've been quite the distraction, so shut i-" He had agreed to the genocide of an entire race... All because he...

The turtle sighed, unable to fathom why any of what Violence had said was of any great significance. Had they not been listening to all he had been saying? But Kyre seemed like he had been swayed by something in Violence's words.

"Of course, it can be proven. All that we do is recorded in the Cube. Everything is in the Cube. But why is any of that so important? Have you not been listening to me? I have seen what Jvan has been doing, and I have seen what it will do, and I come warning you and beseeching you to awaken to the danger and aid me in curing it."

"Have you actually any evidence of this 'danger'?" Teknall said to the Vicegerent, "So far, though I hate to say it, Vestec's words carry more substance than your own."

"We have in fact been listening to you, but words alone are not enough, and you know this, yet you refuse to show proof of any kind," A casual hand wave directed towards Violence and Goliath, "While this annoyance here, on the ground, has no reason to lie in this situation. I am loath to believe him, but Teknall is right, his words carry more than yours."

"If you just let me go. I can grab a Sculptor and you can just read it's mind and memories. There's a Rovaick that was the first victim of Jvan's rape that should still be alive. Killed her bastard child by bashing it's head out! Lets seeee, I can even grab one of her Djinn killers. That proof enough that she needs to be put in check too?" Violence looked pointedly at Yang'Ze.

Yang'Ze looked back at Violence but after a few seconds he turned his head away from the avatar and closed his eyes once more, completely disregarding Violence and his question. However, hints of doubt had already been planted inside Yang'Ze's head by Violence's words. Long had he distanced himself from the world. He would have to see with his own eyes and judge with his own mind that of which Violence spoke about.

There was a dejected sigh from Teknall, although no movement was made by Goliath to indicate it. "There is no need to release Violence. His accusations against Jvan are correct as far as my knowledge goes, although I haven't visited space recently to see what she has been up to there. Perhaps Jvan does need some talking to...'

"Waitwaitwaitwait." Violence stared at Goliath in indignation. "You KNEW about those things and did nothing. But when I start doing similar things, you start ambushing and trying to kill me! And I thought you weren't a biased god."

"I just hadn't looked at it like that before..."

"You're the craftsman God, remember? Look at something from all the angles before making a thing to solve it? And you Kyre 'protector of the sentients. Unless, of course, you don't like them. Then you're perfectly willing to let me kill them." Violence's voice was harsh with scorn. "I may be a monster, but at least I'm honest about what I am. No on-"

The turtle chose this point to interrupt Violence. "I think...that will be enough of that. I must say, and I say it without shame, that none of these things that Jvan has been accused ever caused me much distress. Vestec has done things just as terrible, and here I stand beside him, prepared to aid him against you should I need to. For what Jvan has in store for the Universe is more terrible than anything Vestec has ever and will ever do. You are seeing it all wrong. This is too narrow a lens, you must widen the spectrum. See the bigger picture. Of what consequence are the little things in the long run? What does it matter that some Hain should suffer at Jvan's or Vestec's hands? It is of no significance. What matters is the Fate of the Universe. That is what we must be looking towards, not this narrow game of blame using subjective moral standards. See better!"

"So Vowzra, the only reason you have to gather this mob against Jvan is your vision of the future which only you can see?"

"It is not a future only I can see! It is a past you have seen before! It is one we have seen again, and again, and yet again. We repeat the same mistakes, we are stuck in this eternal cycle, blind to the truth - just look to Logos. And though he is misguided, yet he Sees better than you and seeks the truth with earnest. You have but to look behind you to the worlds and Universes that have passed before: do you not question? Do you not think that they who brought you into this World did not bring you forth into others and will not bring you forth in more? Do you not explore the screaming vacuums of your essences? The answers, or what may be the answers, lie there. Now I do not claim to have full knowledge of the Truth - for are we not all seekers here? - but I do wish that we break free of this vicious cycle and take a step closer to understanding. And the only way we can do that is by not repeating the mistakes of the past. We must reach the Dignified Fate, even if that means making the most difficult decisions."

"Look, this is interesting, and probably quite important if true, but it's all rather fluffy at the moment. What is concrete is that Violence here is an immediate threat to the lives and societies of many sentient creatures." At this, the Vicegerent shook his head sadly. Such a narrow understanding of what the true immediate threat was.

"Whether the nearby horde is allowed to continue running rampant or not is to be determined in the next few days. With him gone, the village will have a fair chance to win. Once this conflict is over, then we can decide about Jvan." Custos looked toward the Vicegerent, "Are you really going to risk making long-term enemies of us over an avatar?

"Hey now! What happened to stopping Jvan? You know, checking up on her? Being able to stop her? Finding proof? This is all rather sudden..." Violence protested.

"This has been our objective for the past few days. The Jvan business is sudden. We can deal with you first, then Jvan."

"No. What is sudden is you realizing what hypocrites you are. Except you Yangy. You haven't done anything to be hypocritical yet." Violence narrowed his eyes at the Avatar of the Sun god. "Yet..."

"Yes, we are hypocrites, that cannot be denied. But I will aim to fix my mistakes, and I know Teknall will as well."

"You know a good place to start? Mercy. Mercy is a great way to start." Violence gave his best, winning smile.

"You want mercy? Then go back to Vestec, and Vestec is not to do anything more with this fight. If you can promise that, then you get mercy. If not..."

Violence shrugged. "We both know I'd be lying."

"What if we bind you by oath before Amul'Sharar and Fate?" suggested Teknall.

"No thanks. Already did that for you two remember? Just try to kill me already." If Violence had had access to his hands, he would have made a shooing motion.

Goliath had been statuesque this entire time, nothing but its head moving. Yet it had simply been waiting for a command, to disengage or to strike, and now the command to strike was issued by Violence's own lips. Goliath hefted its spear once more, but this time, it burned with a divine incandescence.

"IAHH!"

Brown's scream was followed by a great shockwave of energy that warped the very air. It blew everything in a thirty-meter radius away. Everything, but Violence, the Vicegerent, and the innocuous human woman.

Yang'Ze's eyes bulged at the sudden outburst from Astarte's avatar. He felt the magic unleashed by her shout undulate and cracking the fabric of space and so he instantly retracted Sunderer from Violence's body; The strange weapon flew in front of Yang'Ze whilst the balls hanging from the four chains flattened out, creating four separate discs that helped disperse the shockwave and bear most of the brunt of the attack.

In the blink of an eye, the panting Brown ran over to Violence and pulled him up. In a moment, she'd placed her hands on the Avatar's shoulders and a white light enveloped him. The light healed his wounds and lessened his fatigue.

With that done, Brown retracted her hands and turned to look at the recovering Avatars.

"You're all children," Brown spat, venom dripping from her words,

"Fighting amongst yourselves to stroke your gigantic egos, to prove that you're the strongest, to prove that your little toy mortals are the prettiest and most resilient of all." Brown huffed and turned toward Violence.

"And you, Violence, are interfering with mortal affairs. I came on behalf of Astarte, as she seems to like Vestec, but keep interfering in the mortal world and manipulating these childish Gods into fighting these petty battles, and I will destroy you." She huffed and turned her gaze back to the attackers. Arcs of raw magical energy ran through her arms to show that she was ready to defend herself.

Violence stood up, rubbing his arms. "Not that I don't appreciate the help, but I would like to point out that it is in both mine and Vestec's nature to cause chaos. Asking me to not interfere is like asking Teknall to not craft. Or Kyre to not do war things. Though to be fair Reathos and I have had to pick up the slack."

He looked at the remaining avatars. "Shall we keep fighting or listen to the lady?"

Custos, to defend himself from the blast, made roots grow out of his feet into the ground and summoned another ethereal shield. Unfortunately, the blast was more powerful than originally thought as his roots tore out of the ground and he was forced to expand the shield.

He rolled a fair distance away.

Goliath was flung away like the rest by the blast, and in a flurry of tangled limbs eventually managed to get back onto all four feet. Its face looked between Brown and Violence, before settling on Brown. "You heard him yourself. He refuses to leave the mortals alone. Step aside so we can destroy him," Teknall said.

Custos recovered, quickly growing dual swords to wield and began to advance towards Violence. In the back of his mind, he hoped Astarte would yield.

"Oh, I see. I don't leave the mortals alone and I have to be destroyed. Jvan's avatar doesn't leave the mortals alone and you go 'Leave her alone! She's just a bit odd! Hypocrite." Violence called out, idly twirling daggers between his fingers.

Custos advanced.

"The difference between you and Jvan is-"

Closer.

"Is that I don't rape. Yes." Violence interrupted.

Closer still.

"-is that she doesn't seek to destroy, but create. But enough of this. We are here to deal with you."

"Awww, would you look at that. I love it when someone finally gives up on trying to be righteous and just feeds themselves lies to make themselves feel better. What's next? You going to attack Niciel to because her Angels destroy some things but don't rape creatures against their will to 'create'?" Violence mocked, the dagger disappearing from his hands. "I see you Custos. You're not sneaky."

Yet Teknall had tired of Violence's taunts. Goliath's face turned to Brown, as though silently asking her to make her decision as to which side she would choose.

At Goliath's gesture, Custos paused, close enough to zoom in to strike at Violence at a moment's notice.

"As I said, you're all children. I suppose I should let you act as such until you grow mature enough to realize how much of a waste of time this fighting is. I'll be leaving now." Brown huffed and walked away, disappearing between the trees in no time.

"Huh. That was...Anticlimactic." Violence noted, before eyeing the two other avatars. "Now. Shall we continue?"



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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Antarctic Termite
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Antarctic Termite Resident of Mortasheen

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Hands on hips, Tira stepped out of the enormous palace gates with the air of a victor. As if to show the world how ready she was, she stretched luxuriantly in the fine midmorning sun, promptly wobbled on her limp, caught herself on her quarterstaff, lost her balance and slid sideways onto her backside with a kind of ludicrous grace.

Wide-eyed and grinning despite herself, the teenager waved to where Lakshmi was looking down at her from a window, picked herself up and galloped across Waterfall Bridge before the general could change her mind about letting her go.

It was the first time Tira had been let out unguarded. On paper, this changed little, beyond the fact that she no longer had to spend the first hour or so sneaking past her guide. Towards the end it had been a charade for both of them. The knight knew that Tira, ever the nomad, would never be happy under wraps, and had only caught her when her escape attempts grew half-hearted and slack. He wasn't sure if she knew how easy it was for an adult warrior to catch her, and it didn't matter- She just thought of it as a game anyway.

So he played along, training her, he supposed. And when Tira earned her win and put enough distance on her trail to feel confident, the knight picked up, found a hidden corner just inside earshot of her chosen roaming-ground, and meditated. It was a good way to spend guard duty. And now that she had free reign? Well, good for her. He had faith in the girl.

Tira zipped through the streets, occasionally vaulting on her staff when her ankle forbade her a leap. It wasn't really a quarterstaff. In fact, it had been a pole holding up a street-marquee until she made off with it. It felt fair. After all, nobody really noticed the loss until it collapsed, and that was a whole week later.

Alefpria was full of tents and shades and sails in the summer, each more gaily colourful than the last. There were hues she'd never seen before, not even on the rainbow. Tira thought the blue sari she found in her new wardrobe was the prettiest bit of fabric she'd seen in her whole life until she saw how much the Alefprians dabbled in pigments. From then on she'd worn only the plainest shirts and pants, finger-painted them with colour from every dye-barrel she could find, and tore thin ribbons from them to tie around her staff for emphasis. Her black hair went the same way, tied and coloured.

Today Tira streaked her rimpled head-mop with a particularly bright shade of pink. She wanted to make an impression.

* * * * *


Tyufik waited in the alley, legs crossed, feeling the sun on his grey chest. His eyes were closed, head tilted slightly in a pose, hoping that Lonar would turn up and spare him one of those taunting side-glances she'd been baiting his attention with for months. It was a very Lifprasilian kind of romance, a slow, intimate kind of challenge that dared each other to move before someone else did. And that didn't seem out of the question at all, really, considering that Kunonok seemed almost as interested in Tyufik as he was in that fisher's apprentice on the north side.

The shirtless adolescent streetster jolted his eyes open when the first sound of arrival was neither Lonar's heavy gait nor Kunonok's lighter one, but a familiar yell and sliding on canvas.

Tira skidded down the awning and landed deftly on her good foot, exclaiming something in that foreign banter she had, her hands signing for emphasis. Tyufik had never seen her so pleased, and he could guess why. The short brown human was always late to meet with his little gang of vagrants. Whatever fussy foster-parent held her back had finally given up, it seemed.

The trio had stopped trying to shake Tira off after the first few days. When they saw her kill a birb with a slingstone at twelve paces without thinking twice and showed them how to pluck and cook it, they started waiting for her. Tyufik smacked her shoulder by way of greeting and was promptly smacked back.

Good thing Lonar wasn't around to see him wince. Tira hit hard for something so small.

Together the two waited, practicing languages. Her dialect of Urtelem hand-speak was, as far as Tyufik knew, unique to wherever-the-hell Tira had come from. And fluent enough to teach. She was picking up on Alefprian remarkably quickly, too, even with the city's bizarre mix of neologisms. Rumour said the Divas themselves sometimes introduced new words to the language for sport, to see which one would take. Whatever the truth, Tira had a knack for finding the sauciest slang.

Lonar and Kunonok arrived in due time. Tyufik winked and Lonar rolled her eyes extravagantly but bit her lip as she turned aside. Tira cackled at the two of them. Kunonok came last, without his usual smirk. What's down? Oh, they found the wreckage of Albatross, that catamaran that didn't come back. Anything interesting? Probably snapped at by a leviathan squid. Bunch of weird teeth marks, whole mast splintered, eight bodies missing. Well, shit. Yeah.

The trio walked as they chatted, happy to get an early start. With the extra walking time they decided to cross to the waterfall end of the city and look for caves. Tira didn't say much, but her grin was wide enough to keel a ship with.

Taking a direct route led them through the busiest of Alefpria's plazas. Everyone in the Capital seemed to be making something or plying some trade, even though much food was free, the orchards of citrus and pefant overseen by the General's workers. Wood and canvas flapped everywhere. Ceramics, carts, looms, Marionettes. Humans and rovaick worked under supervision, the palace orchestrating their rehabilitation into apprenticeships. Goblins clustered themselves into work-gangs, hauling wheelbarrows of malachite single-file through the foreign city.

Such minerals were brought in from the southern cliffs, where the refugees had more than compensated for the appalling lack of mine-skill shown by the Citadel-descended Lifprasilians. Those smooth rock faces- Crafted by a particularly beautiful male Diva, it was said- Were a buzz of quarrying activity. So Tyufik led his friends closer to the waterfalls, where the jungle began, and the mountains had not been fully explored.

Yet.

* * * * *


Kunonok pointed out that Tira would probably ruin her ankle again if she kept up the enthusiasm. Lonar was tallest, so she helped her get the first foothold, not without protest from the weird little tagalong. Tyufik found a stream and slipped in it while taking a drink. Kunonok spotted a leech on his ankle when he dragged himself out and pocketed it. Good bait, you know? Tyufik wondered if there were trout in the mountain rivers. Lonar yelled at them. Work those legs you're so proud of.

Tira chewed a sourgrass stalk, a flower on the end dangling out through the hole in her face. Lonar asked her if there would be urtelem on the top of the mountain. Complacent shrug. Kunonok found a furl den, then a beehive. Tyufik wore a sprig of patterned leaves between his ears. Lonar tossed a rock off the edge and watched it fall. Kunonok discovered that he had a hole in his pocket and a particularly sly leech on his ass. Tyufik stole one of Tira's sourgrasses, and hey, did anyone bring food? Tira said something smug. Lonar knuckled her head for a while when they realised she wanted to go back to the beehive and smoke it out. Don't you dare, little scamp.

Tyufik saw a quicker route down and led the way. Kunonok taught Tira how to juggle with pebbles. Lonar realised that the new trail had a jump in it, suggested they turn back until Tyufik pointed out the thick curtain of vines. Lonar shrugged and went across first. Tyufik snapped Kunonok and Tira out of their practice and crossed over. Tira tossed down her staff to free her hands. Kunonok waited as she climbed her way

A height a slip a fall the back of a demon destroyer a sky of winged people burning a spear of light acidic black ichor claws like a great spider a leap faster than she ever saw them move tearing the limb apart clinging dangling acid searing a height a fall dancer no dancer come back

Look up, Tira.

Tira's eyes flew open and she registered Tyufik's voice calling her. She realised she was biting her tongue, swallowed, coughed, and said she was good, she was still good, though Kunonok had followed her along the vines and had a firm hand around her wrist. The two made their way down without incident.

Lonar asked her what happened, bringing in a warning look from Kunonok, ever the perceptive one. Tira forced a smile and said she was good, using the same words as before; They were the best ones she knew. Tyufik handed her staff back and asked if she could walk. She prodded his chest and said something crude and fluent that made them all laugh. Tyufik hid his relief by kicking her ankles, since she was clearly still so full of energy.

Later, Lonar accompanied Tira home as far as the bridge, wondering quietly which of the palace brass had chosen to adopt the human. The two leaned on the balustrade, watching the sun turn orange.

"Lonar?"

"Mhm?"

"Think you that... Suyko sin weit ghorg?"

"Another... Fight? Big fight? Oh, oh, I see, a war." Lonar shrugged. "Eventually, I guess. Not anytime soon." She looked at Tira. The long shadows picked out the scar. "Why?" Tira smiled and tilted her head, as she often did when she didn't understand something. Lonar took the hint.

Not anytime soon. Something inside Tira wasn't so sure.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Whisper found something funny when we came back from the last dive.

It was a pretty long dip, maybe six hours. Mother takes us down for longer and longer each shadecircle. Maybe it's because she's grown so much. Old Grandma told us the Arks would grow and she was right, oh god, she was so right. They're both swelling up and changing shape, even though I've never seen them eat anything but ice and Rock. But, hey! Mother's big enough to swallow a reef-lily whole anyway! I've seen her do it! There's probably nothing to worry about. Father's pretty huge too.

Then again, maybe it's us who've gotten big. I shrank a little when I laid, and Wander only looks bloated because she's carrying, but my daughters doubled in the first radian since they hatched. Tripled by the end of their second. Watching them grow like that- Listening to them laugh, and tussle...

Have you ever loved someone so much that you feel like you can always see them, even if the sun falls down and blinds you forever? That your life doesn't even exist anymore outside of holding on to them?

Forget what Whisper found for a moment, I need to tell you. I have nine daughters. Nine! They're never lonely. Six haven't chosen names yet, so we call them all Diaphane Little. One chased a fish on our first dive and decided she was Ocean. Another spends time around Father and asked us to call her Diaphane Brother, so we did, and now she's our sister-brother, like the jetlets who have mothers and not-mothers but still make one family. Wander spends time with one who likes noise, so she's Diaphane Loud. I love her. I love them all. They give me life.

Speaking of. The more we dive, the more living critters we find down on Galbar. Whisper's the only one who knows how to deal with spirits, and sometimes she catches them deep in the liquid-ice or in the blueness, and holds them still for us to eat. Wander says they taste indescribable, and she looked really happy about it. She'd grown a bit, too. We'll find more soon enough, I think.

There are other things too. Birds die when you put them into liquid for long enough, but we still find some really big flightless ones out to sea. They perch on shells made of tree bones, which are solid, but kind of sit around on top of the liquid because they're not dense enough to get gravity-stuck. Tall grey things that'll sting you with light if they startle, but I like them. They taste exotic.

Heh, I keep getting sidetracked. It's good stuff, though. But yeah. What Whisper found.

It was shaped like an organ I once found inside one of the grey birds in the floatshells, one that pumps that runny blood they have. A flying thing, like a jetlet, with six propulsion siphons and four other limbs. It was fast, maybe the fastest thing I've seen other than Mother- And Father, of course. Whisper said she saw a whole shoal of them, but even with Wander's help she could only corner one. It tasted sweet. A sweet heart.



Since then we've spotted them a few more times. Mostly around Mother. Sometimes in her. We've tried to chase them out but she closes herself up and locks us out when we try. Suits me. Means I don't have to clean all the stuff she sheds. They're better at eating it, anyway.

My daughters can't get enough of those sweethearts, though. I've shown them how to kill pretty much every imagen that isn't more than double their size- And they're already figuring out how to kill the ones that are! Each one takes a bit, like a fin or an arm, and pulls in different directions as hard as they can. But sweethearts are... Tricksy little shits.

They keep dodging. They whirl around you when you least expect it and each time we see them they're a little better at it. Even Wander's realised she can't catch them without slowing down to plan first, and even then she needs help. Worst of all, there's something in their bite that actually burns, even when I'm dissolved.

So I guess the three of us are going to try and take them together, as a pack, even though we're all grown up. We'll signal our directions and fly in a flock, like jetlets do. Practicing our turns and sprints. If they're a challenge, then game on.

I've never found anything I can't hunt. I've never found a problem I can't learn to solve. If my daughters want this, then by god, I will give it to them.



Mother River is wise. She knows that for all things there is a flow. There are rapids and there are meanders. As she walks to her final resting place, she slows, becomes tired and heavy; And dies, like so many others, at the feet of the Sepulchre.

The Mahd Estuary that filters around the base of the Forsaken Craglands is a pale thing, weighed down by opaque silt, but in its twilight half-life it is still stronger than it appears and deeper than men fare to guess. Another detail, were it needed, highlighting the height and strangeness of the wanderer's grave.

Another veil to hide Old Skinstitch.

Brown darkness, then pitch. A cruel undercurrent with no solid forms to hold on to. Only mud in which to sink and stay.

A slim tentacle forces itself against the blind press of water. Plucks, effortlessly, a small, lost object from its ever-flowing path to the grave.

Touches. Feels. Examines.

It's a doll.

Crafted by human hands. Loved by them, too. Burned in them, upon a pyre just large enough for a child. Charred.

The Emaciator releases its prize. It knows.

In a porcelain carcass-shell wrought with bismuth bones, Heartworm stalks into the mud, and tastes cold dreams of Vetros.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Kho
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Kho art & loss

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The Timeless One, The Celestial Above, Vicegerent of Fate, Guardian of the Timeline, Master of Creation, Lord of Time
Level 3 God of Creation (Time)
11 Might 6 Freepoint

&


Lifprasil, Vesamera, the First-Born.
Level 1 Demi-God
10 Might

&

Belvast
Level 3 Demigod of Physical Space (Portals)
12 Might




Even as Vulamera's essence was sucked away by the Codex , Lifprasil stirred and knew that all was not well. Though it had been but a few days since the great battle against Grot, and even though the peace summit would soon be taking place, he knew he had to go. Something was terribly wrong.
His link with his parents had never given him cause to worry about or fear for them, yet he now felt both - for his link with his mother had deteriorated rapidly. It was so faint, in fact, that it could hardly be detected or traced. But he felt it still.
Taking a walk and finding a calm place beneath a tree, he closed his eyes and tried to trace the link. He had, in the past, been able to glimpse snippets of what his parents were up to when he tried hard enough, and this time was no different. Except that this was no mere snippet, for in her final moments Vulamera had sent her child a mental message relaying all that had occurred, and even though she seemed to have been absorbed into the Codex, her essence was still very much independent and alive - and so the link, though very faint, remained. Finding her, it seemed, was no issue. But getting there was an issue, for Vowzra had altogether removed her from the Universe.

His mother's faint trail, from what he could see in his mind, went all the way to the north and disappeared there. He would need to find Belvast and set-off with his trusty cat-friend. Perhaps having a son of Vowzra by his side would make the elusive god more welcoming and willing to do as Lif requested. He set off around the Valley to find Belvast.

Belvast in the meantime was spending his idle hours plucking the fruits of the valley, taking small bites from something kind of like an apple, he supposed, sitting atop a spacious hill with his pack of knick knacks at his side. The breeze blowing by made his ears fall flat against his head, but it felt nice. Just wasn't so nice to feel Zephyrion's element swishing around in his head. Waving to some of the hain as he saw them, Belvast was at peace for the moment. Seeming to appear out of thin air, Lifprasil was suddenly towering above the small demigod, a grave look on his otherwise calm face.

"Oh. Hello Lifprasil." the demicat greeted with a small wave as he lied on his back. "How are you on this fine day?" he asked, his ears popping up once again at their full length. Belvast seemed completely oblivious to the fact that there were far more serious matters on his friend's mind than how fine the day was. But perhaps the little demigod showed a wisdom too deep for Lifprasil to grasp. Or perhaps Belvast was just a kid. But then again, he had been travelling for countless millennia, it was not possible that he remained so naive...maybe this little guy hid a far greater depth and wisdom than Lifprasil realised. He would have to watch and see...
'Yes. Fine day,' he said rather bluntly, 'but I have somewhere I need to go, and I will need you by my side. Your father has proven himself a most vengeful and terrible being, and he must be stopped,' Lifprasil watched Belvast carefully to see how he reacted to these words.

Belvast's expression scarcely changed, though there was a certain...disbelief in his eyes. Blinking twice before he answered, Belvast gave a reply of: "Surely, this is a misunderstanding...Father isn't...what do you need to see him for, really?" It was clear that this wouldn't be that easy at all. Belvast still loved his father, despite how long it had been since he had even met with him.

'Your father has stolen my birthright, the Codex of Creation, and has weakened my mother so much that she will probably never again be able to manifest any kind of consciousness. I will reclaim what he has stolen, though nothing I can do will return my mother's strength,' and though his words seemed angry yet they were said with the greatest calm and casualness, as though Lifprasil was not at all affected or concerned.

'We will need to travel to the north, to the great mountain there, and we will need to investigate it, for that is wher my mother's trail ends. It is my firmest belief that your father has taken the Codex and my mother's essence to a pocket dimension of some kind. Either there will be some kind of entrance in the north, or we will need to find a way to access it. I believe your ability will come in most useful for that,' he paused and surveyed Belvast coolly for a few seconds, 'what do you say? Are you with me in this? Even if it potentially means gaining the ire of your father...'

"I.." Belvast started before he pulled his hat over his ears and eyes. He seemed...visibly distressed. Naturally, since Lifprasil was the demigod of Emotion, he'd likely be able to tell that Belvast was distressed. Distrusting. Confused. "I don't know..." he gave as a dodgy response. He didn't seem to WANT to answer. This was all so...out of the blue and confusing for him. Lifprasil had no desire to influence his friend's decision, it seemed...underhanded. Sure enough, Vowzra had wronged him, but he was not going to sink so low as to manipulate his friend. He did, however, perhaps out of some small amount of pity, attempt to dispel the feelings of confusion around the demicat.

'There there Belvast, be calm. Let us be on our way, perhaps you will clear your thoughts once we get out of this strange place,' he looked around himself at the valley. It was a beautiful and blissful place, that was true, but it was also...rather unnatural.
'To the north, Belvast?' he turned back to the demicat and smiled.

Belvast's confusion faded, but the doubts were still clear as he opened a portal to his left, saying: "You are my friend...and I doubt you would lie to me, but...I have my own suspicions I need to investigate. I'll come...but I won't help you if this gets violent." as he slowly stood up. It was clear that he was ready to see Vowzra himself, to question him, but a very large aura of...fear permeated from Belvast. He was terrified at the prospect of losing his father, especially after the promise he'd made at the dawn of the 7th day of his life.
Without hesitation, Lifprasil stepped through the portal with all the calm and coolness of one who entered their own home. Behind him Belvast followed. They found themselves on the shores of a huge lake, surrounded by thick forest. In the distance, a colossal mountain consumed the horizon. At its tip, Vulamera's mental trail came to an abrupt end. Lifprasil turned to Belvast and pointed to the mountain.

'There, Belvast. To the top,' and with that, he stepped forth onto the lake and walked across its surface as though it were solid land. He kept walking until he reached the bottom of the mountain. Once there, he noticed that there was something very odd about the fog. Being near it made him feel...weak. Heavy. He turned back to Belvast.
'Do you feel that?'

Belvast literally hadn't moved from the spot, a portal sitting right next to him as he stared at Lifprasil. "No." he replied simply before sticking his hand through, the black paw visible from the mountaintop. Lif smiled, understanding what Belvast was trying to tell him with this act, one did not walk when Belvast was with around, and so made to step through the portal. But it was as though his foot hit a brick wall. He tried to put his hand through it, but the portal seemed to actively reject him. He turned to Belvast with a raised eyebrow.
'Do you feel that?'

Belvast shook his head. He didn't understand...his portals were supposed to ALWAYS work. "No...this has never happened before. I can go through just fine..." he said in confusion, putting his hand through once more. "Try again...this can't be happening like this. It has to be something else..." but Lifprasil shook his head.
'No, I think I know what's happening. This is Vowzra's work. This fog affects me and does not affect you, and the portal rejects me and not you. It's clear. I will have to climb,' he turned to Belvast, 'you wait for me at the top, I won't take long,' and without waiting to hear any protestations from the demicat, he began climbing.

As he inhaled the fog, he could feel himself weaken once more, and the further he walked the more breathless he became and the colder he felt. Things which would otherwise not affect him seemed to affect him here. Did Vowzra think he could stop him with this, though? Did he think a bit of cold and some climbing would be enough for him to turn away? The god of Time showed himself to be something of a fool, and he was not the only one it seemed, for Zephyrion had proven himself so long ago.

Despite the hardships of the journey and his weakened state, Lifprasil soon crested the top of the mountain and found Belvast waiting there. Not too far away from them both, there sat a strange figure cloaked in white, and behind him was a giant flat slab of rock.
'Who is that?' Lifprasil turned to Belvast curiously, 'was he there when you got here?'

"He wasn't." Belvast said, eyeing the stranger with suspicion before he slowly walked over and looked up at them. "Hello. May I ask your name?" he asked, trying to be kind to this stranger. "Do you perhaps also want to meet with Vowzra?"
The Guardian of the Gate turned his cloaked and shrouded head towards Belvast. Whereas long ago his beard had reached his chest, his face was now completely obscured by the white shroud.

'I have met the Lord before and expect to meet him nevermore. He told of your coming, my Lord Belvast. And though you are Worthy, still must you prove yourself to me should you wish to pass,' and he turned to Lifprasil, 'as for you, son of Vulamera, you have resisited the fog and climbed the mount, and should you wish to pass, you must prove yourself to me also.'
Lifprasil took a step forward.
'We are not here to prove anything. We merely wish to see Vowzra. So if you would, good sir, step aside and let us pass. We have travelled far and have no wish to quarrel with anyone.'
'If you wish to pass, you must pass the test,' and he looked back at the ground and would respond to no more of their questions. Lifprasil looked at Belvast quizzically.
'Odd fellow this one, isn't he? I believe we have no choice but to respectfully oblige him.'

Belvast nods, before saying "I will accept taking this test if it means I can meet my father. But...what IS this test exacty?" as he tilted his head slightly to the right. The Guardian didn't give them much to go on as for what the test actually was. Even as Belvast, the Guardian stood up and drew his wickedly curved blade. He hopped off the boulder he had been sat upon and leapt at Belvast, swinging horizontally at the demicat's head. Lifprasil stood there too shocked by this sudden development to react in time. His sword's usually feisty character seemed to have been dulled by the strange fog, and his armour was not reacting as usual. Yet despite it all, he watched with unshakeable calm as the Guardian's sword drew ever closer to Belvast...

Belvast quickly ducked beneath the blade, figuring that since his portals might not work on the Guardian's blade, still attempting to form a portal to effectively make the Guardian strike himself in the back with his own sword.

Without pause, the Guardian quickly withdrew his sword, as though he had been anticipating Belvast's attempt to open a portal. To the side, Lifprasil had finally drawn his blade and was swinging his sword at the Guardian, but as much as he willed, his body was simply not functioning as it usually did and his normally swift and agile form felt like it was weighed down by the Celestial Citadel itself. The Guardian easily parried Lif's strike and savagely kicked the demigod's feet from under him. With Lifprasil at his feet, the Guardian raised his sword high and prepared to gore him.

Belvast raised up a portal above Lifprasil so that The Guardian would be unable to strike him, and another portal behind his back. However that was merely a distraction, as Belvast then lunged forward and tackled at The Guardian's feet to knock him off balance, prepared to grab his sword if he lost his grip.

Rather than stab downwards, however, the Guardian leapt head first through the portal and reappeared above Belvast just as the demicat finished his lunge, and he grabbed at the cat's head with his free hand. Lifprasil had meanwhile managed to roll over and get back up.

Belvast flailed around and attempted to claw at the Guardian's arm before he growled at him, his tails wrapping around his wrist in an effort to try and get him to let go. "Hands off the ears!"

Lifprasil swung once more at the Guardian in an attempt to free Belvast, but the white-clad man - if man he was - simply rolled away, taking Belvast with him. Once he was some distance from Lifprasil, he violently swung Belvast around before throwing him into the sky and over the mountain top, where he would find himself facing a monumental fall.

Lifprasil gave a mighty battle cry, aimed at shaking the Guardian's morale and injecting fear within him, before he ran at the Guardian, swinging at his head. The Guardian, seemingly unaffected by the cry, blocked and grabbed Lifprasil's wrist, wrenching it - and with it the sword-hand - away before attempting to stab the demigod of Emotion in the chest. But despite the fog's effect on Lifprasil and his divine weapons, the armour managed to neutralise the blow, and he punched at the Guardian with his free hand, which caused him to release Lifprasil's wrist and jump a metre or so back. Lifprasil looked around himself for Belvast.

'You didn't really, did you,' it was more of a statement than a question. The idea that he had thrown Belvast off the mountain to certain doom was ludicrous. Vowzra's henchman would not dare harm the god's son. And Lifprasil had no doubt that Belvast's portals would save him if it came to it.

Of course, they would. Belvast had simply been redirecting the force of his launch by hopping in and out of portals farther down the mountain before a portal opened up behind The Guardian. This was a feint, however, as Belvast simply threw a rock through that portal before closing it, another portal opening above The Guardian, another rock being flung through at his head. Belvast wasn't a good fighter, but he was a damn good distraction.

The first rock hit the Guardian resoundingly, but it did not seem to faze him. He turned around in anticipation of the cat, but found nothing there. Then a second rock landed on his head from above, just as Lifprasil charged and swung his sword again. The Guardian backed away, dodging the demigod's wild swings as though he were nothing more than a child.
'No skill,' the Guardian said coolly, 'no finesse. How can you pass if you are completely reliant on your divine powers? How can you pass if this is what you become without them?' and with that, he pressed forward suddenly, slipping past Lifprasil's sword, and grabbed his face before pushing him backwards into the ground. With Lif there, the Guardian looked around for Belvast, keeping one foot on Lif's sword arm as he surveyed the area.
'Come out, Lord Belvast, for your friend and you shall find here no success. 'Tis best you both turn tail and flee.'

Belvast made no noise for a minute before there wasa soft cracking noise from far below on the mountain. A portal opened up a fair distance away from the Guardian, to which Belvast's voice echoed: "If you want me gone, then you'll have to actually hit me first!" before another rock was flung through.
Without giving away his intentions, the Guardian suddenly leapt into the air and using the tiny rock (though how is a mystery), propelled himself through the portal it had come through.

The Guardian would see that portal...lead to the open air over the mountain. Belvast had changed the first portal to change the destination before The Guardian went through...and from the looks of the boulder now coming through after him, it was safe to say that Belvast had done so again. "Good luck dodging in the air." the demicat said, as the singular boulder barreled down after The Guardian. As he fell, the Guardian let his cloak open up, and as the air caught on it he was wrenched upwards. For though he looked big and heavy, his weight defied his proportions. The boulder which came barreling down after him provided him with a solid surface. And yet again, he defied the laws of physics by grabbing onto the boulder and running on all fours across its bottom until he reached the top, wherefrom he took a giant leap and landed back on the side of the mountain. He jumped up the cliffs, and his movements were nothing short of spider-like - what normal man could move as such, after all? No more than a minute after he had gone through the portal, he was once again at the top of the mountain, where Lifprasil met him and they engaged once more in futile combat.

At last, however, the Guardian stopped and returned to his boulder, and the flat rock behind him seemed to collapse in on itself and open up into a portal.
'The Lord has permitted your passing.'

Belvast poked his head through his own portal. "Wait...what? But we didn't win..." he questioned, confused as he stood beside Lifprasil, putting his hat back on over his ears.
'Indeed you did not. And you could not. But the Lord desires you come.'
Lifprasil bowed to the Guardian ever so slightly, in thanks and as a show of respect for one who has so resoundingly bested him, before he sheathed his sword. This creature had made clear to him the weakness of his state when stripped of many of his divine support. He would learn from this vital lesson - for who knew when he would have to face truly sinister foes who could likewise strip him of his divine aids?
'Thank you, Keeper of the Gate. I shall remember your lesson and your kindness. Come Belvast, let us take advantage of this act of charity,' and he swept forward and walked through the portal. The Guardian looked at Lifprasil as he passed, and when he was gone he looked at Belvast.

Belvast tilted his head as the Guardian looked at him before he asked: "So...who are you exactly Mister Gatekeeper?" as he started walking towards the portal. For a few moments, there was silence. Then the Guardian spoke.
'Is it so important that you know, Lord Belvast? You shall most likely never see me again, and it would do the world no harm should you forget me altogether. It would certainly do no good should you retain memory of me.'

Belvast hopped up onto the Guardian's stone and said: "What harm is there in knowing a name then? And you're speaking as if I'd never come back here...the convenient thing with my portals is that I can go anywhere at any time. So, who're you to say I can't come back?" as he gave the Guardian a wide smile. "Besides, my mother was fond of keeping promises. So if I promise to see you again, I will."
The Guardian raised his palm to stop the demicast from saying anymore.
'You are, as I have known since my inception, a most kind being, Lord Belvast. And it would certainly bring about within me a great joy to see you here again. But you misunderstand me. I do not say that you are barred from this place, it is merely a matter of what is possible and what is not. Is it possible, Lord Belvast, for someone to return to a place that does not exist?'

Belvast too, raised his palm as if to stop the Guardian from saying any more. "Of course it is." he said rather simply, as if he didn't even have to think a moment about it to know it was true. "Even if you aren't here, I can always find you again."

The Guardian bowed his shrouded head as if in thought.
'Then, should you find a way to make the impossible possible, I shall hold you to that promise, and shall wait on your return. And perhaps, if souls have a place where they all finally gather in the end, our meeting will be there, and there will you learn my name,' and with that, the Guardian shrunk and disappeared, and a tiny white spider skittered off the boulder and away.

Belvast blinked a few times as he watched the Guardian disappear, the spider that likely was him skittering away. A small smile crossed Belvast's lips before he jumped into the portal after Lifprasil. "Someday then, surely." he thought as he ran after his friend. The best part of being a wanderer, he had to say, was the people he met. Five minutes after Lifprasil left Galbar, Belvast followed. As Belvast appeared in Chronos, Lifprasil turned and looked at the cat.

'By the gods, that took you a fair while!' he muttered, looking back at the two strange figures who were dressed very much like the Guardian. They had not permitted him to move from his place for over three years.

'Not until Lord Belvast arrives,' they had said. And Lifprasil had been powerless to do anything about it, and so had sat tight. He was, however, a patient being. And though this pushed his patience and calm to the edge, he quickly came to understand that it was yet another opportunity for him to understand his limits and took it with good humour.

Belvast looked...confused."But...that couldn't have taken more than a few minutes..." he said, looking around at the two Gaurdians. "Well...since I'm here, we can proceed, correct?"
The grim guardians bowed respectfully to Belvast before turning and leading the two demigods further into the Chronos hinterlands. They passed by flowing rivers, trees blooming with the sweetest fruits and animals unlike anything ever seen on Galbar. At one point they passed by a few Lifprasillians who gave Lifprasil a hostile glare. The demigod looked at them and instantly recognised the warriors who had been sacrificed when Astarte and Zephyrion experimented on the strange rock. To his surprise, he felt guilt tear through him very suddenly - he had not even paused to grieve for them or tell others of their sacrifice back then. He himself had swiftly forgotten them, and their names did not come to mind as much as he tried.

'Is this where souls come after they die?' Lifprasil asked one of the white-clad humanoids leading them, but no response came.
They eventually reached the foot of a great mountain, one of many others, and there upon a boulder, upon which grew a tree within which was a man-sized hole, sat Vowzra. And he was reading a book.


And the fiery haired Prophetess did come to them, and all knew her as Ely, and though in their hearts they knew her to be true, yet did their tongues reject her


Upon their arrival, he closed the great tome and looked up. Lifprasil looked questioningly at the book, for this strange plane had dulled his senses and he could not tell whether it was the Codex or not. Vowzra seemed to read him like he read the book, however.
'Worry not, 'tis merely The Record of the Eskandars,' he assured the demigod, 'not the Codex. Indeed, there no longer is a Codex.'
Before Lifprasil could say anything, however, the god's eyes turned upon Belvast and he smiled.
'Come here, child,' he said, 'and ask me those burning questions of yours.'

Belvast looked a little hesitant to do so, but after a moment ran over to ask: "Father, what color is time?" which, was the first question Belvast really asked growing up. More of a nostalgic saying than anything.

'Whichever you choose to paint it with,' the Lord of Time replied, 'and there are those who would add, "so long as it's black", but I am not one those.'

Belvast smiled widely as he remembered those precious first seven days of his life, taking a seat and bowing his head. "It has been...a long, long time. I'm glad to see that you're well." he said, removing his hat, humbling himself before his father. Vowzra cocked his head slightly.

'And did you ever think that I will not be well? Wherever you are Belvast, and whenever you be, know that your father is well and watches carefully over you. Now, tell me, what have you done and what have you seen?' it was not that Vowzra did not know, but there was something within him which wanted to hear Belvast say it and see him as he relayed his tales. Lifprasil, realising that he would still have to wait, came and sat down beside Belvast - and though Vowzra had killed his mother, he bowed humbly before him and showed him the respect that every god was worthy of.

Belvast smiled eagerly, before recounting his journies from the moment he left home. For the thousands of years he had lived and the countless places he visited, he recounted each with astounding clarity and familiarity. The people, the places, the food, the animals, the feeling of the breeze on his ears, the times where he was scared, where he was brave, where he saved and where he was saved. All the little days and years of an immortal demigod, all spoken within an hour with aplumb excitement and attention to detail. If there was one thing Belvast had done, it was to remember to heed his wanderer's spirit. He hadn't only visited everywhere on Galbar that was nailed down within the last century, he had also for a time lived there. Breathed there. In Belvast's mind, every place had left a mark...one he was proud to talk about.

Lifprasil gazed with interest at Belvast as he recounted his tale. He had to admit, he had never seen Belvast speak with so much passion and excitement...the emotions which fed off him were as nothing Lifprasil had ever felt around his parents, or around Zephyrion for that matter. He looked at Vowzra and wondered what exactly he had done to cause Belvast to feel this way towards him. Even as he sat there, Lifprasil knew deep within that his tie to his mother was nothing like Belvast's tie to his parent. Was it simply Belvast's personality? Was he naturally more attached? Or did the fact that he, Lifprasil, was the demigod of emotion, mean that such emotional attachments affected him less than others? He could not be certain.
'And now you have travelled here,' Vowzra said at last, 'with this son of Vulamera, this Little Empeor. Tell me, Belvast, why did you come with him?'

Belvast looked up to Lifprasil before clenching his hands and saying: "He...says that you have something that belongs to him. And that you have wronged his mother..." as he looked down, unable to accuse his father to his face.
'And what do you think of that, Belvast?' came his father's calm question.

Belvast looked between the two, fear in his eyes. "I...I feel that I don't know enough about the situation to make an accurate assumption...but I do not think Lifprasil would lie to me and come all this way with me for nothing. Father...do you have the Codex of Creation?"

'No, I do not think the Little Emperor would lie to you. But he may well be mistaken. After all, a belief that one is right does not make one right, is that not so, Belvast?' but Vowzra did not wait for a response, 'as it stands, I did have the Codex of Creation, though I no longer do. And I did not wrong Vulemera, but she wronged herself,' Vowzra paused there and turned expectantly to Lifprasil, for he knew that the demigod had words to say, and he bid him speak.

'I saw you with my mother's eyes. You took from her the Codex, and you sealed her essence within it. There can be no doubting my link with my mother and my eyes, it was your doing. And then you took the Codex away, which is, as you must surely know, my birthright. And you brought it here,' Lifprasil had gotten to his feet at this stage, as though in preparation to face off against the god. Vowzra cocked his head.

'Your birthright? By what manner did the Codex of Creation, the amalgamation of the will of the gods, Fate, and Amul'Sharar, become the birthright of a lowly demigod who contributed nothing to it? Sit down and be silent, child, for you have little understanding of what you speak,' but Lifprasil was unfazed by this and remained standing.

'With all due respect, Fate and Amul'Sharar gave the Codex to my mother, and I am her heir. The Codex is my right.' Lifprasil took an insistent step forward, but the Lord of Time waved him away dismissively, and he found himself seated next to Belvast once again.
'As I said, you have very little understanding of what it is you are saying. Let me explain to you what occurred in those times aforetime, and how it was that your mother usurped the Codex from me.'

Belvast remained utterly silent, well aware of this not really being his fight. Especially since, in the end, it was at his father's whim whether they would go home with the Codex or not. There was not much two demigods could do against one of the most powerful gods, after all. Lifprasil looked at the god curiously. Was there something he had missed? He nodded deferentially at Vowzra's words. He would listen and see.

'In those bygone before-eons, when my siblings fought amongst themselves as viciously and bllindly as they do now, I was of those who chose to watch. That was a mistake,' the Time god admitted to his error with surprising ease, 'for it meant that when at last Fate intervened and siezed the Codex, none remembered my part. Though she was a goddess of the mind, Vulamera was the first to forget that it was I, not her, who was entrusted by Fate with the Codex. And when I came to take it, she robbed me of it. Yet, though Fate and Amul'Sharar made to intervene, I bid them leave her be. For I knew that what is Fated will be though all strive against it, and what is not meant to be will not be though all strive for it. And it was never Vulamera's to have the Codex - and look what it brought her,' his eyes pierced Lifprasil's, 'did you see into your mother's mind towards the end, Little Emperor?'

Lifprasil broke the god's gaze and looked away. For he had felt the strangeness which ebbed from his mother these last few years and the steady loosening of her mind's firmity.
'And so it was not I who punished her, but she who with her own hands siezed both crime and punishment. I merely brought to an end her suffering - though were the decision mine, she would suffer yet.' Lifprasil gave the god a cool glare at these words, but respectfully maintained his silence. If Zephyrion had taught him anything, it was that gods did not like being interrupted.
'You see, the Codex now returns to its Fated caretaker. It is no one's birthright. It was created by the gods and is the right of none other than Fate. And as was always meant to be, it is now no longer the Codex, but the raised fist of Fate which brings low whomsoever Fate doth please, and raises high whomsoever Fate wishes. It is the scourge of all transgressors. It is the GodKiller.'

Lifprasil shook his head, clearly unconvinced by what Vowzra was getting at by all this.
'No, I do not enjoy this idea of there being a "grander order" than those that shape the Universe we reside in. Fate, I hope you can understand, is no master over me. It neither controls me nor my destiny. I foresee a future, a vision for a great world order where all creatures can live together in happiness and delight. A world where all the creations of the Divines can intermingle with fluidity and peace. This is my vision, this is what I shall work towards. And no "Fate" or "destiny" will be standing in my way. Though you are a mighty god, you cannot tie me or anybody else down with this, and I hope you will excuse me for saying so, distorted vision of yours, Lord of Time.'
'Of course Fate does not control you,' the god of Time retorted, 'for Fate is fluid. Destiny is in the hands of creator and creation alike.'
The demigod of Emotion frowned and again shook his head. What cryptic riddle was this?

'Now tell me,' the demigod said, for he had decided that he would learn what he could from this seemingly knowledgeable god, 'why does Fate need to strike down transgressors? What do they transgress against? And what role do all these "gods" serve in the cosmic game?' as he asked this, Lifprasil took out a little, aged game piece carved from the jaded stone of the Celestial Citadel. He rolled it around between his fingers before throwing it to Vowzra who caught it in a hand and inspected it.
'If the Divines are truly "gods", then why do they need to be influenced by something greater than themselves? What is the need for this greater order and what do they need to be unified for or against?' and then the demigod motioned towards the game piece in the god's hand, 'is the creation of the Universe a game? Are Fate and Amul'Sharar just toying with the gods? Tell me. Tell me or...well, we shall otherwise have to fight, would we not? And I most certainly would not like that!' he attempted to stand up again but found himself rooted to the ground. Realising this, he quickly settled down and pretended he had not tried to get up at all.

'Fight whom you will, Little Emperor. You shall find Vowzra with you sometimes, against you sometimes, but with Fate always, and thus with Ultimate Order. But the true question is why should you fight me at all? Why do you not side with the Ultimate Order, the Order that ensures the Dignified Fate? For all things must and will come to an end. Whether that end is Dignified or not is in the hands of creatures like you and Belvast. You see, each Timeline has its own Fate. It is my duty to ensure a particular Fate, a Dignified one - the Fate of the Correct Timeline.
If I do not act as I do when I do, then the Timeline will be lost and the Dignified Fate with it. The Will of Fate is not concrete - and so 'tis my duty to make the best Fate concrete.'
Lifprasil had cocked his head and appeared deep in thought as the god continued.

'Chaos is no common foe of mine, nor Order a friend. But to both do I reach out when 'tis their Time, and by so doing do I advance the Greater Order - or what may be seen as the Essential Chaos. There should neither Perpetual Chaos be, nor Perpetual Order: thus is the Ultimate Order, the Essential Chaos, the finest balance, the Greatest Timeline and Truest Fate,' he rolled Lif's game piece around between his fingers.

'As for whether the world is a game - only those who cannot See the greater picture believe that to be the case. Your Vulameras. Your Jvans. Your Astartes and, to a lesser extent, your Illunabars. One must leave that narrow field of vision and rise up above it all, one must elevate oneself, that one may - in some little way - see the world as Fate and Amul'Sharar see it. For they are the greatest beings in the hierarchy that we gods and those mortals can see. And once one reaches them, one must look further up the hierarchy for answers, and then further still. The pursuit of the Truth, Little Emperor, is a life in itself. One must not be half-hearted about it, one must not be hesitant in seeking it out, but one must with courage and without shame sieze every opportunity to discover it, even if that means opening up the darkest caverns of one's essence and Seeing into it. But even as we seek, we must know the limits. We must not do as Vulamera did. We must not by deception and low-handed means seek to discover the Truth. For one who opens and looks within the Codex can never understand the Truth. How can one whose mind is ill-prepared to receive it take it? Just as the untrained mortal cannot survive the heat of battle, the raw mind cannot withstand the torment and trepidation of the Truth - else we suffer the Fate that Vulamera suffered, and accursed are we if we learn not from the past and grave mistakes of others.' Having listened to these words, something akin to wonder began to gleam in Lifprasil's eyes.

'I cannot claim to have been made privy to the Truth, and I do not believe that Fate and Amul'Sharar themselves know it. But from the disjointed, fragmented shadows of memories from a thousand godly lives, this is what I can say I with some confidence know: are they divines that we see? - to whom mortals beg and plea. Nay, listen!' and at this Vowzra leaned forward and whispered, and he spoke as though he had at the tip of his tongue a most weighty revelation, and though Lifprasil found himself completely baffled by the god's cryptic language, he leaned in too, 'divines only shadows be, cast by bodies we heed not.'

Lifprasil shook his head. 'I...I don't think I understand. What is it that you mean?'
'Listen! Listen. Here, I will talk plainly. In this world, comrades, there is but one true God, there is but one truly Ultimate Being,' Lifprasil was about to interrupt, but Vowzra over-rode him for he knew what the Little Emperor was thinking to say, 'and no, 'tis not Fate of whom I speak, or Amul'Sharar. 'Tis Time itself, Little Emperor. For you see, I am a god of Time, but I am not Time incarnate, and I have seen the Hells of Time and have felt the flow of the Time Stream; and Time itself is alive. Or at least, that is what reason dictates. For I did not create Time. It was present in the times aforetime, of that there is no doubt. I merely set it a-ticking when the Universe burst into being, and now regulate its flow as needs be. Fate and Amul'Sharar merely do as Time commands - or perhaps they are not high enough up the hierarchy to receive commands from it direct, and so receive it from a delegate, which may itself receive commands from a delegate, and on and on till it finally reach the Great Being itself - Time Incarnate. Time, like Fate, is fluid. There are a near infinite number of Timelines - though this I cannot ascertain, for I see only one - and we, with our choices and decisions, move along any set Timeline. But it is for me, the god of Time, to ensure that all choose the Correct Timeline. What is the Correct Timeline, you ask? It is the one that leads to the Dignified Fate. And what is this Dignified Fate of which I speak? It is the end where Fate and Amul'Sharar are best pleased with us all. "Aha!" You may now say, "we have caught you! Why, oh Vowzra, is that so important? You are merely forcing your prejudices and personal beliefs upon us!" But listen here, and understand what it is that I say: it is because their pleasure means Time's pleasure, and Time's pleasure means that we will at last break free of this perpetually repeating cycle and rise up the greater hierarchy, and that means we will come one step closer to grasping the Truth,' Vowzra sat back and raised the game piece high above his head, looking into the Chronos heavens which opened up into the Gap. What, he wondered, was going on in that strange rift? Why did his own Timeline soon, very abruptly, come to a halt? Which of his siblings would it be? Where were...where were those eyes...

'This world, this plane of existence, is not the real world, Little Emperor, and neither is the plane on which Fate and Amul'Sharar dwell. The real world is the one we will achieve once we reach the top of the hierarchy and seek the answers from the Great Being itself,' and with this Vowzra turned his ancient head and surveyed Lifprasil. 'So what, Little Emperor, will you do? Will you side with the forces which will lead us to destruction? Or will you uphold the Ultimate Order and help this Universe towards the Dignified Fate?'

For a long time, Lifprasil did not say anything at all. He clenched and opened his fist, then clenched it again. And even as he sat and thought about what Vowzra had said, he felt the strangest feeling overcome him, a twinge on the periphery of his consciousness not at all dissimilar to what he had felt when he confronted Grot: a presence hanging there on the edge, so vast he could not help but be paralysed with intimidation.

"Wh-what do you see as a 'Dignified' end to this Universe?" Lifprasil asked with a slightly trembling voice, his mask of calm slipping ever so slightly, and only with difficulty did he replace it - so overwhelming was the feeling! He got up suddenly and started pacing, finding that Vowzra had released him from that seated position. It helped regain his calm. Turning back to the god, after having paced under the watchful eye of Time for a while, he spoke out once more.
'Are you but a slave to the intentions of the Ultimate Order? Have you no vision of your own?' though his words seemed accusing, yet did he say them with a calm and level tone.

'You doubt my vision, Little Emperor? After all you have heard from me? Know that I See with an Eye unlike any of my brethren, for the Time Stream is as a book before me. But even I cannot See with clarity always, this I do not deny. The parts of the Timeline that I can see are limited, but those that I can see I See with absolute vision and clarity, and all that I See leads to the Dignified Fate, and thus I aspire towards it. I can only do as I See, Little Emperor - and can you blame me for it? Would you have me do and bid others do as I do not See? Now I neither command you to do as I do, nor to see as I See. For you may look on your own, and see for youself,' and with that, he pointed behind him, over the mountains and to the centre of Chronos where the Cube sat, 'you have but to read the Cube, therein is all the past recorded, and therein are the many futures held. And each sees a future none else can see. Each sees what each wishes to see. It is in one's hands to make that vision come about. It is one's choice,' he paused here for a few seconds before he added, 'it becomes a choice between one's desires and the good of all. The Undignified Fate, the pursuit of desire, or the Dignified Fate, the pursuit of Truth.

'And were I a slave to the Ultimate Order, Little Emperor, that would be nothing to take shame in. It is not shameful to be a slave to that which gives Liberty. For are we not all slaves? Who isn't a slave? Who isn't enslaved by one thing or another? Is it not, then, the greatet liberty to be enslaved by the greatest Liberator? Indeed, if one takes up one's base desires as a master, ne'er will one prosper. It is my goal that we all achieve the Dignified Fate, wherever on the Time Stream that is, and however the Timeline twists and turns on the way towards it. Whichever Stream holds in it the Dignified Fate, that is the one I will unquestioningly deem as the Correct Timeline. Anything that deviates from that is an aberration and will lead to disaster, and must therefore be neutralised. The suffering of one is a little price if it means the liberation of all, including that very one who suffered. And you ask me what the Dignified Fate is, exactly. Now that, I cannot say, for it is in constant flux. Fate is Fluid, the Timeline adjusts as we forge our destinies. What does not change, however, is the aspiration towards that Dignified Fate and the rejection of everything that makes us stray from it.'


Yet again was Lifprasil silent as he thought deeply on Vowzra's strange words. Though, like Zephyrion, he spoke loftily, unlike Zephyrion's there was actual substance to his words. At last, his eyes widened in realisation.

'But...why? Why must it end? If untold eternities lie soft in the bosom of Time, why are we forced to drive it all to a conclusion?' Lifprasil seemed visibly upset by Vowzra's revelation. The idea that all things had to end was understandably upsetting, especially for an immortal being who knew not the woe of those who lived no more than three-quarters of a century before they forever expired. Yet slowly, ever so slowly, his expression lightened as a grander scheme began forming within the fog of his mind, and the fog cleared away till it stood in all its pristine glory in his mind's eye.

'Yes. Yes. There is no Dignified Ending as such, but rather, we ourselves must, as one, ensure the grinding on of Time. We must create a Fate where all things can live and reside in one space, and all may be free; and Time in that space move ever onward. Things must be given a consistency to blossom into something truly liberating, they must be given Time. And to prune a Timeline to a close would be to stomp out something that may be better than a Dignified End: a Dignified Continuity. Why would Time ever be satisfied with or wish for this "Dignified End"? Endings are final, a finale to Time's plight would mean a finale to all things, would it not? Surely that is not Time's goal, but rather, its goal is that we elevate ourselves to a great, a grand and Dignified Continuity, forever and ever.'

Though Vowzra did not See as Lifprasil seemed to see, yet did he respond positively to the demigod. It was, at the very least, a start along the right line, even if his ideals and subjective feelings yet obscured his vision.
'Yes, yes. There may well be a continuity as you say, though I have never Seen it as you wish for it to occur. The only continuity I know of as the relentless continuity of the cycle in which all our godly essences are eternally stuck. For instance, I have, with certainty, lived before. In many Universes, and in the Hells of Time themselves. And your father and I have most certainly crossed paths before, of that I am certain. We gods are far older than this Universe. We have existed before, and if we do not break free of the cycle as I have mentioned, we will certainly exist as we do now yet again. What this suggests, more than anything, is that Universes end - indeed, must end, for all that is created must come to an end - but Time continues forever. Just as men live and die, but their spirits live eternally, so too do Universes begin and end but their spirit - the flow of Time - continues forever, so that new Universes rise and fall, ever and ever, in an infinite number of dimensions, with an unknown number of divine essences. And perhaps, over each dimension - each world - there is a Fate and an Amul'Sharar, or guardians not too dissimilar to them, and they watch and oversee. But this calls up the ultimate question of why this would occur...' at this, he looked at Lifprasil, 'and why do you think, Little Emperor?'

Lifprasil looked down and thought, but he made no response to the Lord of Time's single question. 'Vowzra,' the Little Emperor said at last, 'I will support you. But I will do so my way, on my own terms. I will support you insofar as that ensures the Dignified Continuity. And I want the Codex back, it is my birthright. However, if this Dignified Fate that you speak of is the only solution, then I will oppose it ever, and as forcefully and with all the arms and power that I can muster.'

Vowzra was silent, and again he looked at the jaded game piece. With a little smile, he closed his hand around it and turned to Lifprasil one last Time.
'As for your promised support; do as you See. And it is my hope that you will grow wiser yet and See the wisdom in all things coming to an end. For, though you may fight it and reject it, it is a Truth which the Universe itself testifies. You have but to look around you, and you will See that there is nothing but it has a beginning and an end,' and Vowzra thought once more on the abrupt end he saw for himself, 'even gods.'

Lifprasil looked up with some shock at these words, but he could not deny it. After all, where was Reathos? Had he not felt, with his very own mind, his father's destruction of that god? And What of Julkolfyr? And what of his own mother? Vowzra threw the game piece back to Lifprasil. There was around it a small layer of bark. Lifprasil looked at the god in confusion - what was this for?

'When that bark wilts and breaks away, you will know that yet another one of those beings which think themselves so great and so mighty and so wise has gone the way that all things go,' the gravity of the words descended very slowly upon Lifprasil's shoulders, and once they had done so, ne'er again would their gravity lift. Such was the weight of knowledge, such was the weight of one simple Truth. He looked uncertainly towards Belvast, wondering how he would react to this revelation, but the demicat seemed oddly relaxed. Perhaps he had not registered what Vowzra's cryptic words meant...

'And as for the Codex. It is no longer the Codex. It is the GodKiller. Neither you nor I can so much as approach it. Only those beings we deem inferior, those mortals of our creation, can approach it. It is a killer of divines, its presence will tear us apart or eat away at us or cause us to fall apart over endless eons. And no god will have power or might over they who wield it. It is the clenched fist of Fate, and none wield it but the weak, those who we look down upon. Those whose lives are as leaves upon the wind before the ever-constant trees of our own. Yet look and See how mighty, with Fate, the leaf shall be,' and even as Vowzra spoke, the GodKiller was released from the Cube and disappeared from Chronos altogether. Back to Galbar it went, in the hands of an unsuspecting, unsuspected mortal.

'So what arms and what might and what strength do you think you can muster that will halt the inevitable? Do you deny Fate? Then watch, Little Emperor, and I am with you among the watchers.'With these final words, Vowzra stepped forward and signalled for Belvast to follow him. When Lifprasil made to follow, the two strange guards stopped him.
'Ah, I see. Very well. I shall remain here and wait then,' he smiled amicably as he sat back down and thought on all that had been said.

Belvast looked back at Lifprasil as the two guards stopped him, a sad look in his eyes as he realized just how...frustrating it must be. To have come all this way with nothing to show for it. Bowing his head slightly to Lifprasil, Belvast followed Vowzra, wondering just where they were going.

Vowzra walked slowly up the mountain, Belvast following after him. The very earth below them seemed to aid them in their journey, and before long the mountains were far behind them and the strange wasteland beyond them, until they arrived at a place layered with crystals as far as the eye could see.
'You follow a friend who will endanger you often, Belvast,' his father said at last.

Belvast stared at the crystals in awe as he walked, before answering Vowzra with: "Aww, not really...Lifprasil doesn't have me go out and fight anybody. Besides, as long as I have my portals I can stay safe...", sounding fairly confident in his powers. The Lord of Time bent down and broke a piece of crystal from the ground and inspected it carefully.
'That may be the case, Belvast, but I cannot take risks. My Time swiftly melts away and soon my ever seeing Eye will no longer See, and I shall no longer be able to watch over you. And so, before that comes to be, I must unburden you of the risk you bear by following the Little Emperor. I have prepared for you some gifts which shall, with Fate's will, aid and protect you on your way. Here,' and with this, he threw the demicat the little blue crystal. Once Belvast had it in his paws, Vowzra spoke.
'You shall soon begin to feel it. When you do, let me know how it feels,' and with that, they began walking once more, deeper into the Chronos heartlands, until they reached the Cube, and upon it sat the Bard.
'Belvast, say hello to your brother,' Vowzra turned to the cat and gestured to the Bard.

Belvast gently ran his index finger...-ish paw thing over the blue crystal, curious as to what it was, besides pretty. Placing it carefully in the palm of his hand, he followed Vowzra along, occasionally looking down at the crystal to see or feel a change. Then as he was looking down Vowzra mentioned a brother. Wait...BROTHER? Belvast's gaze shot up and he stared long and hard at the Bard. "W-Wait...you...me...b-brothers?" he questioned, pausing for a moment before tackling the Bard and hugging him. "Hello! I'm Belvast!"
Or at least, he tried to tackle him. He just ended up jumping into the Bard's lap with his arms about his brother's torso. The Bard laughed and put his arms around the little cat.
'And does the one and only Belvast need any introductions? Father has told me much about you, and I have often looked into the Cube to see how my older brother fares. 'Tis good to meet you at last, Belvast,' and with that, he placed the demicat beside him on the Cube.
'Is it Time for that already, father?' the Bard asked. But Vowzra did not respond, 'don't worry, I'll take care of Chronos. And the Victors.'

Vowzra nodded absent-mindedly at the Bard's words.
'Did you make it?' the god asked him at last, at which the Bard nodded and jumped off the Cube. Near the pond lay a small, white chest plate, greaves, shoulder-guards and gauntlets, and the Bard turned around and gestured for Belvast to come closer and try them on.

Belvast tilted his head curiously as he saw the strange white armor, and was confused on why Vowzra didn't answer the Bard. Slowly making his way over, Belvast put on the armor carefully, wondering if this too, was a gift. Still clutching the crystal, the demicat waited for a change in feeling while donning the armor.
'This is armour made from the silk of the Chronos Silk-Spider. Did you see the white-clad Victors who accompanied you? And the Guardian? All were clad in armour made of this silk, and their cloaks and shrouds are all of it. It is so light that you can't even feel it, but at the same time, you will not find any armour better than it. No metal can match it in toughness or weight, unless the metal is somehow magically altered,' Vowzra came up beside the Bard as his son spoke.
'Between the Sertzstone and the this armour, nothing should be able to harm you. Yet I shall also gift you with this dagger and this bow, and it is my hope that you shall never find yourself so hard-pressed as to need either,' and with that, the god wrapped a little spider-silk belt around Belvast's waist, which had attached to it on one side a sheath wherein a long dagger sat, and on the other sat a bow sheath wherein was a little bow, and to which was attached a quiver.
'May they serve you well, my child,' the god said. The Bard looked at his father as he spoke, and a little sadness seemed to permeate through them, but he quickly turned away and returned to his place upon the Cube, and there he sat and played a little happy melody with his divine lute.

Belvast wasn't entirely sure what to say, dressed in armor that felt as light as a sock and looking like a proper midget cat warrior. But one thing he knew was the sadness that seemed to bleed through the two. Slowly patting Vowzra's back, Belvast asked: "Is...Is something happening?" as he continued to hold onto the little blue crystal. Vowzra made no reply, but he reached for Belvast's paw and tapped the blue crystal a few times, and it seemed to burst into life all of a sudden.
'Ah, there we go...' the stone glowed and rapidly became warmer - though it got no hotter than what Belvast found comfortable.
'Feel it now?'

Belvast gave a small nod and held it close to his heart. "Its very warm...and toasty. What does the stone do exactly?" he asked, ears perked up with his curiosity. The god rubbed his son's head affectionately.
'That, little Belvast, is for you to find out. Explore it, be kind to it, and in Time you will reap all the good you put into it.' The Demicat purred slightly as his head was rubbed. "Thank you...um...does the stone have a name?" he asked, feeling a sort of...spirit. As if the crystal was listening.
'A name...yes. It does have a name. And it will tell you in due Time,' Vowzra replied.

Belvast nodded, tucking the crystal into his pocket, smiling as he hugged his father. "Thank you for...all of this. And for seeing me."

'Not at all, Belvast. It is I who should thank you for coming so far. Now return to your friend, and remember the Ultimate Order always, the Dignified Fate.'

Belvast didn't bother to argue...he had a feeling Vowzra had a reason for all this as he always did. Slowly walking away, Belvast looked back towards his father and newfound brother and flashed a smile and a wave. "Until we meet again!"
A small sad smile spread across Vowzra's human face, and he nodded.
'Yes. Until we meet again, Belvast.'
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Muttonhawk
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Muttonhawk Let Slip the Corgis of War

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Set after the clash with Violence

The seclusion of Cornerstone left little distraction for Toun's machinations. The whispers of those who bore his mark amongst the rovaick were perhaps the only break to the patterns of the day, night, time, and tide around him. Their prayers were inconsequential for the most part. What was important was that there were more of them every day.

Upon the great plain of white tiles, in the centre of which Toun stood, slave hain had been occupying their time with more than simply guarding and reproducing. They were building.

Kaolokineticists wove their hands in great sweeping motions, edging upward solid structures from the shining white clay below. It started with short spires that curled towards one another until they fused. These arches, just like the slave hain willing them forth, were laid out in a repeating formation such that they formed rows that bent with the broad curvature of the tile layout beneath them.

Day and night, day and night, the sun flashed over the sky, casting swinging shadows over the growing white stalks. The arches, once united, began to sprout subbranches that reached out for other arches, again uniting when they touched. Onwards this went, apparently forming a vast, roofless, gleaming cathedral of concentric circles. Toun was getting finer with his orders by the month, adapting to the slough-sculpted brain of his servants.

Toun was barely doing anything beyond conveying instructions to the slave hain by the time there was an interruption.

All the hain froze in place. Only their eyes and breathing chests continued moving, becoming distressed by the interruption.

Toun's own blue eye shot wide open. What was that?

It was some kind of burst of power or broadcast. Likely both. It was unseen but to gods like himself.

Toun rotated his head to the direction that the pulse came from. Who was that?

No one he knew of, Toun was certain. In spite of its familiarity, it was foreign. It was a seeker, like Vulamera. But Vulamera was the only seeker. Was this her doing? It was unlike her to be so primal.

This would require a closer look if something so drastic happened as to cause such a cosmic shout. Toun carefully stepped to turn his bare white feet around, apparently prompting the hain to continue their work and bringing noise back to the tiles. With that, Toun took a step. An unnatural step.

He found himself in a silent and empty cavern.

There was nothing left to find, save for mere footprints and traces of divine energy. There were trails about -- more than he expected, and from more foreign sources -- but none were left by the goddess of knowledge. Only that seeker. It was a deceptively similar trail to hers, though fundamentally different.

Why is something so similar to you here, sister?

If he found her, Toun might get answers from Vulamera herself. It would be a fair trade if he had information of his own. Tracking this new interloper in her domain -- this seeker -- might be a start.

"Minus," Toun intoned. His avatars had been idle for a time. Gathering dust in Cornerstone was no good use for them. "Track this being's scent. Hide from whatever it is. Be my eyes, while my other one looks elsewhere."

There was not a question back from Minus. It was already flying over the oceans to this very cavern to begin its investigation. However, Toun had instilled a curiosity into it upon its creation. He knew it was still there, so he decided to indulge for now. "Vulamera may guard her secrets, but if they have been stolen, our goals will be impeded."

Toun stepped again. This time, the step was so long that it shot around all sorts of nooks and crannies throughout Galbar. His search was just thorough enough his needs. He was glad to have this planet as a reference point, knowing that Vulamera would continue studying it. Searching the entirety of creation would be infeasible. Of course, Toun didn't pay heed to whatever he silently passed -- he only kept his senses open for the familiar trail of Vulamera herself.

He found it and stopped. It was faded, but he could follow it. Another step took Toun meandering in the direction of the fresher trail. Sister, why have you moved so erratically? Are you being chased? Were you looking for something?

Something of a worried ache found its way to Toun's abdomen. A number of things caused it. He knew that Vulamera could take care of herself, but her trail explained nothing that made sense. Something was happening to her. It made Toun anxious.

Toun could not know how long he spent wandering before the trail reached its end. To any mortal eyes, the cool steppe seemed an undisturbed natural scene. Rain and wind had washed away all purely physical signs of what went on here. That much, however, was not hidden to Toun. His head began to shiver as he scanned the ground around him. His blue eye was stretched tense with fear, darting in small flicks to take in every detail. The soft breeze brushed over the tufts of grass that broke up the orange dirt, giving an odd peace that rebelled against the true nature of the place.

It cannot be...

The drab, sandy scene did not have a drop of blood, but it may as well have been painted with it. What could have elicited the same reaction would be ground bones and viscera thrown liberally over the dirt and dripping from the tufts of thin grass. If only it had similarly abstracted what happened to Vulamera's essence. Her trail was scattered in every direction at once, fading into stunted smears that curled back to a singular point. She did not transport herself elsewhere. She did not even spread herself deliberately. She was ground apart in the space of an instant and sucked away.

Toun had to blink back his own grief. His sister was gone. Pulverised and eaten.

It made little sense at first. Toun's first blame went to Vestec, perhaps trying to consume Vulamera to feed whatever produced the giggling in his throat. It could have been Zephyrion, having been offended by some uncomfortable revelation Vulamera tried to convey. Even Jvan might have taken her atrocious vivisections to divine flesh. What Toun noticed instead was a trail that he had not seen in aeons.

Toun clenched his fists and narrowed his eye in pure anger. As if his face was a veil obscuring something more human, the bridge of Toun's flat nose contracted into an enraged wrinkle.

On one hand, the appearance of a seeker godling was explained by Vulamera's consumption. The world had a way of balancing such forces, he knew. On the other hand, what Toun feared when looking for Vulamera manifested in a worse situation than even he expected.

This changes things, his bitter thoughts said.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Frettzo
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A Quiet Place


Astarte
Goddess of Magic
33 MP, 5 FP


&

Jvan
Goddess of Moles and Pimples
not enough MP, peanuts FP






Astarte bit her lower lip and frowned at the image in front of her.

Big, wearing a skirt made out of oversized flowers and dancing to an unheard rhythm. It wasn't that he looked ugly that bothered Astarte, it was that he looked awfully good.

Over the years as her friend, Big had grown to like the Goddess to such a point that he'd actually listen to her complaints and suggestions about his appearance. Last time she visited, Astarte actually told him he was so big that it was impossible to wrap her hands around him. For some reason that had hurt quite a bit, and since then he'd done his best to be not so big.

It worked, as he had now become a lean, muscular ogre. Astarte shouldn't have any problem wrapping her arms around him now, even though his lean body was still pretty damned gigantic compared to hers.

"You know, I really should change your name to Lean, Big," Astarte pouted, "... Why aren't you big any more, Big?"

"Asta don't like big Big, Asta couldn't wrap arms around big Big." Big said in his deep, rumbling voice.

"I remember laughing after mentioning I couldn't wrap my arms around you."

"Asta don-PAH!" Big gasped and doubled over. Then he started coughing.

A moment later, when Astarte decided to fly over to him, a small creature showed itself. It flew out from Big's mouth.

"AH!"

Astarte screamed as the baby-blue colored creature slapped itself against her arm, emitting a high pitched, needy noise.

"GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF!" She yelled while flailing and trying to get the creature off of her.

Then, as Big prepared to slap it away and Astarte aimed at it with her free arm...

"WAIT-" She panted, "Wait! I think... I think this is one of Jvan's thingies! Only she could make something so weird! This does not look like a mole or smell like one of those holes humans dig around their campsites, though..." Astarte mused, letting her guard down and putting a finger to her lower lip.

Indeed, the transparent jelly-like thingy did not smell like a latrine. In fact, as it bobbed around on its side, struggling to calibrate its movement outside of Big's unfortunate gob, it started to smell rather unlike anything that usually came out of an ogre's mouth. It was just impossible to say exactly what, other than, maybe, a remarkably bad judgement.

For a moment it smelled of coffee grounds incinerated in a jet engine. Then it jumped, shuddered a little, and regained a little stability, now surrounded by a peculiar aroma of iron filings in sea water. Jitter again and the fragrance resembled sawdust. It bounced like a frightened helium balloon, each shake a little closer to being upright. The scents mellowed out into a peaceable ambience.

Stable at last, hovering with a slow, constant twirl. The flesh machine's antics, it seemed, were over.

"Astar!lesh artist, an-ould apologise, anyw"icularly well. Forgiv-rst impression!Hopefuf Lex Ther"st, a pleasure garden I've ma...think you'll like themayhem. nd don't do tell Vestebastard!"ou choo. See you!"

The rapid blurt of scrambled words dropped off suddenly, its echoes quickly fading. The delicate flying creature twirled on, blissfully unaware that it had done anything wrong.

Astarte stared at the creature, blinking as she struggled to process what it just said.

Then, the same voice, in the quiet. A little newer, a little grainier, with a slight warble of distortion by distance and guilt.

"...Astarte? Can you hear this?"

Astarte looked at Big. He was looking intently at the creature, enchanted by its different aromas. Astarte could swear she even saw how much he was salivating when his mouth hung slightly open.

Astarte non chalantly flew over to Big. Then she slapped him on the back of the head, "Don't eat the Thingy!" She grinned and then turned towards the creature, "Hear what, Thingy? I only heard this weird message before, it was as if you were a singing Hain." She chuckled.

The messenger veered upwards, as if to follow Astarte, and drooped indignantly back when she came too close to the ogre. What the colourful device was doing went unknown to the voice it carried. There were some more metallic warbles, tin sheets shuddering far away. Tuning.

"The channel's working," said the voice, softly. "I can hear you too. This is Jvan." A short pause. Listen closely, and one could almost hear the distant splash of plans being thrown out the window.

Astarte raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"...I wrote you a letter," Beat. "It wasn't very good." The goddess's voice disappeared again, but this time there was no sign of technical interference.

"I like your ogre. He has a nice frame," and the comment sounded genuine, if limp.

"Yeah? Zephyrion let me grab him a long time ago, back when the Rock was a thing... He used to be a lot softer and rounder a year ago, though." Astarte pursed her lips and climbed onto Big's back, who was busy trying not to look at the small blue creature. She wrapped her arms around his neck and looked at Jvan's messenger.

"So, you wrote me a letter? Was that letter by any chance the crazy message I just heard?"

"...How much did you hear?" Then again, did it matter? Almost certainly too much, at least in that state. "No, I don't need to know. It was an apology. For Slough Rottenbone. And, ah, I suppose this is one, too. There hasn't been- I was-" The softly bobbing mechanism curled its tail around itself for a moment, but the voice on the other end had no warm ogre to hold on to for reassurance.

"I'm a wreck," dropped Jvan, flat. "I've been sick, and sorry, and chasing distractions. ...I met a nice boy. I planted a garden. I, ah, think I was going to invite you there. That was in it too."

"... Oh," Astarte looked away and disentangled herself from Big, "Well, gardens are awesome, why don't we go there? Also, you have to tell me about this boy you met," She forced a grin and looked back at Jvan. She never knew others Gods were capable of showing such amounts of emotion, so this was a bit of a shock to her.

"Him? His name's Amartía. He keeps pets. I, ah, built him a palace." There was an upwards beat to Jvan's tone, perhaps simply from leaving the topic of what she'd said, and done. Even on its own, it seemed to be a good memory. She was talking freely. "It's on the Purple Sands. My garden, though, my forest, that is still in high-orbit, on the Ring. Not quite our sister's set of motifs, I'm afraid, but-"

The voice stopped. Jvan picked up on Astarte's unease, and was lost on how to address it. "The ogre, he, ah. He'll need some help, if you'd like him to accompany you. His body has some mechanical limitations, in space."

"Big? I don't know. I generally let him do his thing down here in the forests... You know what? Alright. What help does he need to get up there?" Astarte said while straightening out her long white dress, "You may not know, but I love nature. That's why I want to see your garden."

Nature, so the Djinni had taught Jvan, could sometimes change with perspective, but Astarte was no mere judgemental spirit. The Engineer was eager to leave, and have the mood lightened. "For a start, the intrastitial fluid of the ogre's outer surfaces have to be crystallised or otherwise increased in viscosity in order to prevent desiccation. High concentrations of melanin analogues can block most stellar radiation, while a redundant triple- or quad-heliced nucleic acid structure should protect him from any other mutations. As for heat, I- Could... Would recommend-"

Does Astarte approve of modifying her companion's body? Jvan wasn't sure. If she was as possessive as Amartía, then, maybe not. "...Or you could use magic," she finished, for once turning tail on her own art. "He needs warmth, shade, air- Both skin and lungs- and locomotion. Shouldn't be more than a spell or two." Was magic even measured in spells? Jvan didn't know.

"Apologies. I'm still in the mind to design orbital life, I guess. My nature isn't... Isn't Slough Rottenbone's. She, ah. There's been a grave accident. Not an accident. A crime." A pause. "I'd rather not talk about it here."

Astarte had merely watched the small creature as Jvan talked on and on. At some moment, the Goddess had lost the entirety of Astarte's attention. Attention that came rushing back when she heard of modifications being made to Big's body.

"Ah, sure, sure, feel free to chang- modify him enough to have him survive! It's not like I can't revert those changes later when we're back here," Astarte winked at the messenger.

The wink was not returned. This was because the fragile messenger had no eyes, mostly, but also because Jvan was confused. Somewhere there came a wavering sound of rapid tinkering. "Hold on. I think I lost you. Can you hear this?" Big's eyes momentarily returned to the creature when it spoke, so Jvan assumed she could. "I think I'll leave him to you, actually. I'm perfectly confident you can, uh, magic up a solution. Also, this device only talks. Can't do much else. You might have to carry it." Should she repeat the part about their skeletal sister, and where she was now imprisoned? No, not yet.

"Aaaw!" Astarte cooed and went up to the messenger, taking it in her arms, "don't you get shy on me, Jvaaaan!" She chuckled and playfully bit the messenger's tendril. It immediately tasted like nothing she'd ever tasted before. She didn't have any idea whether this was good or bad, but she did know that it made her want to bite the thing for real. So she withdrew and sat on Big's shoulders. She preferred not to eat a new friend's pet, if it was possible.

"Um,"

"Such a shy huge little meatball Jvanny!" Astarte grinned.

"I'm, ah. I. I am." Light, what was she even meant to say now? "...That is not quite the intended use, Astarte." Did she know, that as the messenger lay like a quiet little eldritch baby in her arms, Jvan was staring back at her like a horseman without reins stares at his empty hands? "But I guess it's fine. Just... Don't eat too much. Sometimes I forget what goes into these things." Big had swallowed it, after all, and they were both still fine. So far, at least. "The, ah, the garden's still, ah, up there."

"Bleh," Astarte pouted, "It's no fun if you give me permission."

She let the creature go and wasted no time in getting Big ready. She put a hand on Big's shoulder and after a moment, Big's veins started to pulse and grow. Another moment later, they started to emit a soft light and finally, his body emitted an aura of hot, white light. It was meant to keep away the cold of space and enhance Big's magical and spiritual potential in order to help him hold his breath for the amount of time it took them to travel from Galbar to Jvan's garden.

"Alright, we're done." Astarte said. The messenger immediately wriggled up towards the air in front of Big's face, braving the ogre just enough to tap it on the nose and feel its sudden warmth. Cross-eyed from trying to look at the little flier, Big seemed about to say something, only to realise that he now had to sneeze.

Jvan's effigy dived aside and narrowly avoided an embarassing end.

"...He has superb lungs," said she, as Big finished and the aftershocks faded. Soon enough the thing was leaning in again, maybe not so close, but still curious. Jvan talked on unaware. "See that patch of colour in the Ring, where it's even more purple than normal? That's where we're heading. Aim high."

Astarte nodded and looked at Big, who was still looking up at the sky.

"Big." Astarte said and stared into his eyes as he turned toward her. It only took a moment, but by the time Big averted his gaze, he started levitating.

Astarte's gaze shifted toward the sky, and so did Big's. Then they shot up toward their destiny, the Ring.

When the long cold leap began to slow, and the smooth purple curve began to resolve into colourful motes of dust, the noctus forest was waiting to greet them. Webbed like the underside of a leaf, flat, wavy nocti bobbed and drifted around them on stalks, casting dappled shadows. From between the rippling coral-pink on indigo, a long, iridescent creature like a whale emerged for a moment, seemed to look at them, and floated back into the fronds, leaving halo puffs of mist in its wake. On the sides of a meteoroid with a shady hollow in its center, little crab-like things stepped and nibbled, lighting the way with dim blue torches on their arms.

Another messenger was waiting for them, for once not so obviously out of place."Look! Isn't it gorgeous?" Jvan was proud of her work, and it showed. "I confess I hadn't planned an itenary, or even a tour. But you can come here whenever you like. You're always welcome with my grandaughters and I."

The place was like nothing Astarte had ever seen. The strange creatures only added to the environment. How something so big could exist and not be hostile, Astarte had no idea.

"Wow..." Astarte muttered, her eyes wide and trying to focus on everything at once, "It truly is beautiful..."

A moment of silence passed as the Goddess admired her sister's work. She winced a little as she felt a pang of sadness in her chest, brought up by the bittersweet memories of long past explorations in the Deepwoods.

"You know, I half expected the place to be weird and creepy, but-" Astarte stopped, watched one of the many crab-like beings digging something out of the meteoroid, "but it really is very pretty. Nice work Jvan, I wish I was smart enough to create stuff like this."

"...Oh?" Jvan's excitement faded as she began to pick out signs of Astarte's melancholy. Those words clearly rung deep with Jvan; Her enthusiasm dimmed. "But you can, Astarte! Look at this ogre!"

It wasn't much of an illustration. Big was doing quite well, with regards to breathing and staying warm. Beyond that the new place seemed a bit too much for him. He held on to the noctus fronds to stop himself drifting away, and wore a bewildered little smile, as if in a dream. Every few seconds Big looked back to Asta, to make sure she hadn't floated off.

"I mean... Actually, let me spin you a few words." Her's voice took a breath.

"All things that glow and walk on Galbar today are the works of our family. Each one of us designs in our own way, each one unique. But we are not, at heart, different. We are all artists. Maybe not in the same way Ilunabar is, but even Teknall in his engineering, Zephyrion in his boasting, and Vestec, though he's... Far... Off the rails. We're artists, because we express ourselves."

"You have an identity, Astarte. You have thoughts, and feelings, and things that make you happy. No god needs to be smart to make something beautiful, or even really understand what they're doing. You only have to be yourself, and put a little of yourself into the world. Like Slough. All she wants is a place to wander. Everything else solves itself."


If there was ground beneath her feet, Astarte would be looking at it right now. Instead, she looked down into the darkness of space.

"I-I don't know who I am," Astarte's voice quivered and she let her hair hide her face from view, "I mean, I know my name but-" She spoke so quickly that she tripped over her own words.

"But I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Everyone seems to know what they have to do and everyone has an area they excel at but I don't. I remember spending so much time before time was even a thing, just flying around in the emptiness. I flew while others did amazing things. And even after we created this place..." Astarte let out a noise not unlike a hurt kitten's mewl, "I did nothing but play."

"You know how Vowzra keeps talking about this 'Fate'? Well, I-I have no idea what that is! I've never heard the voices in my head, nor have I seen great beings that deserve so much of my respect. I'm a Goddess, yet I know so little I compare more to a child than anything else... Nobody spoke to me when I came into being. Nobody told me what I was, or who I was supposed to be."

Astarte remained silent for a moment. Afterward, she straightened up, moved her hair away from her face and wiped her eyes. Big only watched as Astarte showed her feelings. She'd never been so open to him, and it made him feel bad to see his Goddess so vulnerable.

"...Me neither, sister. Me neither."

For now, it seemed, those empty words were all Jvan had to say, or could. She was little less helpless than Big. Truly, she thought she understood what Astarte was trying to say. When a thing named Flux had once asked her, she'd said much the same. But she had never felt lost. Not like Astarte.

Jvan was so good at working with living hearts, but now she realised she had no idea how to fix a broken one.

"If you like," she said, cautious. "I can tell you who I think you are. If it'll help you. A little."

Astarte pursed her lips in hesitation, but nodded nonetheless. "Tell me."

"You are... Someone who found magic, and bottled it for her friends. Who asks nothing of chaos but a joke and a naked man. Who enjoyed flight, when everyone else took it for granted." Beat. "Maybe the reason you can't find a grand design for yourself is because you're the one who sees that even the small things are grand enough. I don't think you're lost, Astarte. I think you're a wanderer."

That didn't sound right, not quite, and yet it was something. It was all Jvan could do, so she said it, and was quiet.

Astarte looked downcast, yet still smiled. It was one of those bittersweet smiles that left an unforgettable taste in your mouth, one of those smiles that you simply could not ignore. After a moment, Astarte looked down and away from Jvan's messenger.

"I think you're right, thank you for the words, Jvan..." She said in a soft tone of voice, before shrugging her shoulders and lifting her gaze up. Her expression was back to normal. A bit of a mischievous smirk. "I remember you asked me to come here to speak about something important. What was it?"

Jvan took a moment to adapt- Behind the twirling messenger, she was wearing a deep quiet. "I, ah, I. That. Yes." Change gear, change gear. "The letter. The original copy had a note, to pique your curiousity- I was planning to guide your interests towards Slough Rottenbone. The last time I saw her, her body was trapped. Locked in an egg by Vowzra. I thought I'd need help to free her. But I was wrong."

A brief silence. Rather different, if felt, to the one she'd just left behind. Less pondering, more calculating. "When I saw her I was stricken, but I underestimated her ingenuity. She's turned the Riddler's trap to her own advantage, wearing it like a suit. Now Slough's on the move, and gaining vigour. She came as far as the Venomweald before something broke my envoy. Now I've lost track of her."

That came with a distinctly bitter taste of regret.

"I've a feeling she's on her way to the Drenched Flowerbed, but there's no way to say. What I'm worried about is that something might be wrong with her. Since she went into the rainforest, none of my Eyes have seen any trace of the Great Flower that lives there, the demigod that kept its pools of life fresh. I think Slough might have killed it. I can't imagine why, but she's the only one who could do it without a fight. My sister is... Strong."

Intimately genuine concern had returned to her voice, just a faint, cautious touch, but it was there.

"Huh," Astarte pursed her lips, "you say something broke your envoy? Couldn't Slough have done it herself? I've never seen her fight, though. Not even when I gave her a scare."

"I haven't, either. That's..." The long spiel seemed to have drained her. "Why I'm concerned."

A heart-shaped animal pumped its way over the hollow, like a reminder. "But it's my concern, and I'm deciding to keep it that way. Talking to you now, Astarte, I think you have enough on your hands already. Don't worry about me and my plans. Fix yourself."

"If you do see Slough, take notes. If not... There's a whole world down there. Wander, wanderer."

And in the distance, catching Big's dreamy gaze in its glow, Galbar sparkled like a jewel.
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Sin, The 7 Sins, The Sinner, Pride, Gluttony, Wrath Envy, Sloth, Lust, Greed
2 MP, Level 2

Astarte
Goddess of Magic (Soul Manipulation)
34 MP, 6 FP




Amartía found himself deep in the confines of the Venomweed, the very jungle he explored at his birth. The jungle folded around Sin like it was taking possession of him. Leafy arms fell over the way he'd come and blocked his motion in every direction. Every view was unique but the same all at once. It was an assault on all senses. Cutting his way through the dense, suffocating undergrowth, fighting through the very air, which hung heavy, moist and still. Trees tall as cathedrals surrounded them, and a strange green light - almost holy - shimmered through the vast canopy of leaves. The jungle seemed to have an intelligence of its own.

The virescent hues were the foreground, the background and as high up as you could see. The heat and humidity pressed in on the skin making sweat pointless. The sounds of the insects, the birds, and the larger animals created a symphony of nature calling one deeper. The leaves brushed up against his and his feet sprung up with each step. The air tasted both sweet and fresh, like flowers blooming on his tongue.

Sin's plan was simple. He would take what he couldn't be given by any means necessary. He could care less of the consequences, in fact, he had thought far past any perpetual punishments, and thought of building his empire. This all rode on the gullibility of one god. A god that appeared to him in flashbacks of a past he knew little of. A goddess whose beauty could satisfy any man's Lust for years to come. Astarte.

With his attuned divine senses, he was able to sense out the gods divine trail. Its sweet scent led him to a clearing, where a beast of rippling muscle lay sleeping. It was an Ogre, a beast he knew oh so well from his Azibo herders. They made up a small part of his every growing army. The Ogre was huge, its sheer height and body structure intimidating. Stretch marks lined its body like zebra stripes. Its grayish olive skin was in dark contrast to the green hues of the surrounding jungle.

Surprisingly, despite its immense size, it remained still, watching Sin through what seemed to be his one good eye. Its face remained severely burned on one side. Without as much as a forethought, Sin walked on, confidently strolling towards the lounging beast. "I've come all this way for you." he murmured. Each step he took, raised his level of excitement. He could sense the Ogre's Sloth, but its sense of loyalty, its love, could overpower that Sloth. He could use that. "Astarte is in trouble." he cooed. The beast perked up, its eyes widening in understanding. The individual who had saved him loved him showed him such undeserved kindness needed his help. Such an easy ploy to exploit.

Amartía cackled inwardly, he was in pure ecstasy as he motioned for the beast to follow him, and he led him right to a prison. Its Wrath became its prison. Who would dare hurt his Astarte? Wrath shackled its soul, and it became another puppet to Sin.

Amartía was quick and nimble, bounding across mountains, wading through rivers, and walking through forests. With strides long, proud, powerful, strong, practiced, he entered Cipher once again, and like a loyal puppy, the Ogre followed close behind.

As a general rule, Sin hid his emotions. He figured they were intel he'd rather not hand over and so at all times his face was blank. But today was different. At this moment, he had triumphed. Step one was complete, and excitement poured out him like sunshine through fine white linen; he glowed from the inside out. The smile that cracked his face was one that could instill fear into the mightiest of men. His mask like face began to crack, shattering and fracturing to force the jagged edges to form a crude smile; and he just walked faster.

That, evil, vile, disgusting sneer of a smile that betrayed all innocence remained etched in o his face as he came to rest at his throne. The Ogre was sent to the adjacent room, the ballroom, out of sight, still consumed by its seemingly perpetual Wrath. There stood a cage prepared by Azibo, and soon, it was also hidden. Step two was simple, bring his target to him. There many ways in which to approach this, but the easiest and simplest way was found in prayer. Unfortunately, this meant that he had to choose his words carefully. Astarte wasn't the brightest from what he could deduce, but that didn't make her any less dangerous. She was a god after all.

As if on cue, the words began to tumble out of his newly formed mouth, which remained unmoving.

My Mother in heaven,
Praised be Your name.
Praised be the knowledge of the Arcane.
Your will be done.
On Galbar as it is in the heavens.

Your son has come to you in prayer.
With your name in mind.
And by your name, he seeks help.


His words were flowery and flattering, calling to the goddess, tempting her. But behind those words hid an unfathomable evil, the evil that was Amartía.

"You're not my son, though," A voice rang out from behind Amartía's throne, and from such a place floated out a beautiful woman wearing a long, white dress. Her lavender colored hair reached down to her thighs and flowed freely in an unseen current of air. Her light blue eyes roamed Amartía's body not in Lust, but in curiosity. "And how did you know my name?"

Amartía's glass like smile widened as he gazed at the goddesses porcelain-like appearance. She was a beauty to behold, the apple of all the gods eye in fact. "I certainly hope not, I heard it was wrong for children to find their mothers attractive." he jibed, returning her curious look with a Lustful one. "As for your name Astarte, let us say an old friend of your gave it to me. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I love pets! I'm sure you do to?" he mocked openly, but it sounded genuine. He was leading her.

"I don't know about that, I haven't explored that aspect of mortal culture, Demi-God." Astarte lifted a finger up to her lower lip and scrunched up her face in thought. Then, upon hearing the mention of pets, she perked up and grinned, doing a quick flip in the air before flying closer to Amartía.

"Yeah! I love pets, I have one, actually. Did you call me because you wanted a pet, Demi-God? I'm sorry about not knowing what you want, it's kind of my first time being prayed to." She giggled and scratched her head.

Got you He had here right where he wanted her. "First time, well, I hope I make your first time memorable." Once again he openly mocked here. "But a pet, I'm not sure." he paused, genuinely mulling over it. "Do you have a pet, maybe I can draw inspiration from it." The trap was set.

"Yep, I told you I have one! Let me go fetch him, give me a minute." With that, Astarte disappeared.

For a minute, silence reigned in the room. Then she was back in the blink of an eye. No pet accompanied her.

"I, uh, couldn't find him. Sorry, he must have traveled somewhere. He does that sometimes when he needs better food or help from better civilizations." Astarte grinned sheepishly.

"Don't beat up over it. You know, I actually have thousands of pets." It was not time spring the trap. "You know, I went to the Venomweed today." he chortled, a small hint. "You know the great part about that trip, I found a new pet! You wanna know his name?!"

"Yeah, sure, tell me his name."

"Big."

Astarte tilted her head slightly and raised an eyebrow, "But that's my pet's name... Why did you name him the same as my pet?"

Just as he planned, she would unwittingly step into his trap. It was set. "Oh, my apologies, my Ogre just reminded me of yours, you have one, don't you? One named Big. Mine's a bit burned." There it was, plain as day.

Astarte stared at Amartía for a long moment.

Then, slowly, her eyes widened as realization washed over her face. Her lower lip started quivering and her voice cracked, "N-No! He's mine! Give Big back to me!" She yelled, letting her feet touch the ground. After a split second, she took a tentative, shaky step toward Amartía. She looked like a child who'd had her toy taken away by a bully.

Sin let that sink in for a few seconds, and it was oh so satisfying. As Astarte began to plead and crawl, he began to cackle. Harder and harder he laughed, he found himself guffing so hard, that his cracked face, began shatter. Almost instantly, though, it ended, and he returned to his signature expressionless look. "So you've finally figured it out." he began, leaning forward in his throne. "You want him, don't you, well, I'll give him back. But I need something from you." he sighed simply. 'Boom', she fell for it and was now right in the palm of his hand.

Astarte took another step toward Amartía, "Where is Big? I-I want to see him-"

Sin quickly held his hand up, gesturing for her to stop. "I told you I have him, you will do many things for me before you can have him back." he warned. "First I will ask you a series of questions, you will answer them truthfully, if you don't I will know. Lying is a sin."

"But-" Astarte looked down and let out a pathetic little squeak. As her long hair covered her face, she nodded her understanding. "O-Okay."

Good girl." he cooed. "Let us begin. What are you? a simple question.

"Idnbf..." She murmured.

"Come on, speak, Big misses you." he cooed. Suddenly his voice became hard. "Don't make me repeat myself."

"I'm a Goddess like Jvan, Illunabar, and Niciel..." Astarte's voice was soft and timid, a sharp contrast to her usual cheery, loud tone.

"Good, and what are you the goddess of? Simple.

"... M-Magic, I think?"

Amartía chuckled inwardly but continued on. "Magic. Let us move on. This universe we live in, from the mortals to the stars, have.been created by you gods. How?"

"I don't know... We, uh, kinda mixed our essences." Astarte shrugged, voice still small and hair still obscuring her face almost completely.

Well, that proved that she wasn't the most knowledgeable of gods, quite ironic as magic could be extremely complex. The Primordials did have a sense of humor. "Mixed your essence, I see." he murmured, it seemed that he would have to dig deeper. 'He' would have had the answer. "So, let's make this simpler, how do you create magic?"

Astarte crossed her arms over her chest and seemed to shrink under the pressure, "I-I don't know, I just do."

"So you create without understanding the process? That's bad. How about I explain." he scolded before getting up out of his throne and began to pace. "Do you know what the 5th Element is?"

Astarte remained silent.

Amartía forged ahead. "Someone happened to extensively research the inner working of the universe the best they could and found that there is actually a fifth element. You know the four right?"

"Y-Yeah."

"Well then, let me cut to the chase since I have a world to take over. The simple explanation of the 5th Element is the active force of the universe. I want that. I want a magic that utilizes the 5th Element. The lifeforce or everything and everyone. If you can do that, according to my directions, you will get Big back."

"Uh, last time I gave my pure essence to a mortal being, it exploded."

"You're missing the point Astarte, I want you to unlock the 5th Element for the use all the citizens of Amestris. Or a select few. The power to bend matter to their will, within the laws that or Order god put in place. In fact, I will mold this force, and teach it to others. That is what I want from you! he proclaimed, it sounded simple but was extremely complex.

Understanding dawned upon Astarte and with a start, she straightened up and stared at Amartía's unforgiving expression, "B-But- Such energy, you can't possibly mean-"

"Yes Astarte, you will give me, and the rest of the mortals, the power of the gods. And you will be responsible, for either ending humanity or blessing them. Either way, I win." his words were like hammer blows on the goddess, relentless.

Astarte covered her mouth and fell to her knees. "Oh, oh no... Oh, Jvan help me..." She muttered as bright tears began to form at the corners of her eyes, "T-That's blasphemy- I-I can't do that!" She yelled, her voice cracking. She raised her arm and pointed her palm toward Amartía. Her entire body shook like a leaf on the wind as she aimed at him, lavender energy already visible rippling across her arm.

Finally, he had broken her, but he couldn't stop there, he needed to crush her. Pride took over, and instantly, he was disgusted. She dares raise her hand up at him?

Leaving his place on the dais, he walked toward her, his malice began to suffocate the air. It was as if he was everywhere at once. He came to a stop in front of her, he outstretched hand millimeters from his toned stomach. "Pathetic, weak, disgusting. Is this the god that Big expects to save him? I THOUGHT YOU CARED FOR HIM!!!"

Crack.

"If you loved him, you would do anything to save him."

Crack.

"Mortals come and go, Big is eternal, and I don't think he would want to spend an eternity away from you."

Shatter.

Astarte sobbed. Her tears fell freely now and her arms fell back to her side. It wasn't long before she bowed her head and covered her face out of shame. She sobbed again, "A-All the... Other Gods are going... T-To hate me..."

And there it was, Amartía had officially shattered the confidence and will of a god. Which was surprisingly easy. "Forget the gods, you only need Big, and Big needs you. So, will you do as you are told, or leave Big behind."

She cried. On her knees with her head down and face covered by her hands and hair, she cried. There was no telling what might have been going through her head, but one thing was certain. She had surrendered to Amartía's demands.
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