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Hidden 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 Two

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
21 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

What are we without the light?

Trees in the shade, doomed to die. Moths wandering a night without a glimmer or moonlight, sure to be lost in the darkness.

There was the echo of his own footsteps, the cool kiss of the musty air, and the erratic frenzy of his own breathing. These were the king's only companions in the dark, though as time wore on and he stumbled blindly on through the depths, more things came: the deathly grasp of fear, the gnawing pangs of hunger, and thirst...thirst, the enemy of those beneath the sun, ironically came to haunt Akthanos even in the blackest of tunnels beneath the earth.

Was this where his end would be? Alone in the clutches of darkness, where his remains might never be found in a thousand years to come? The Priest-King brushed his old hands against the course sandstone of the tunnel wall beside him, and then he stopped to at last sit down. Though his body be imprisoned in the catacombs, his mind was free, and so it strayed away to happier places...

He remembered the sound of his long-passed wife's laughter. The smiling faces of two sons flashed by his eyes...there was Heru, the King's eldest son and his pride and joy, marching back to Vetros in triumph even now. Heru would be a strong and just king, and in time, perhaps a wise one too.

There was also Y'Qar. Ah, Y'Qar...the boy had always fostered fire in his heart and the wind in his feet. Some short while ago, perhaps five years past (for time went by quickly for such ancient and wisened men!) the young and quarrelsome prince had gotten into another fight with Heru and Akthanos, as rebellious sons were wont to do with their fathers and elder brothers, though afterwards he had stormed off and never returned. Other fathers might have wept and eventually come to accept their son as being dead, but not Akthanos. He felt his younger son's breath upon the wind still, and knew that Y'Qar yet lived. He could only hope that it was now wanderlust and now anger that kept his son away; to die here and now, having never made amends, would wound the King's spirit like little else could...

With something of a start, Akthanos awoke from what had been a short and restless slumber. He blinked many times, yet there was still darkness. His bones ached, and he felt the rough sandstone of the tunnel walls. Then he remembered where he was, though by now he was past the point of despair.

There was no use in denying the wind or the sun or death. All there was left for the Lord of Vetros was to hold his head eye and walk on with dignity, towards destiny.

So walk on he did, and walk on he would until he at last collapsed, came to an end, or found the light once more. The tunnels narrowed and the air grew every thicker and more oppressive to breathe, or perhaps the King's exhaustion simply grew.

It mattered not.

He stumbled onwards, the exertion sapping his strength with each passing moment, and the he nearly collapsed. It was a peculiar draft that stopped his tumble down, and then that strange eddy of golden wind glowed brighter than any torch and blinded his eyes in its brilliance. Like a mother it carassed and nudged him, and then like a python it wrapped around his form and utterly enveloped him. He was rejuvenated.

The golden wind uncoiled itself from him and lazily drifted down the tunnels while the King hurried in pursuit with newfound strength and fervor. The wind came to rest at the end of the tunnel, and this time no corridors branched off. This was truly the end of the catacombs, and there was naught but a simple and unassuming altar carved into the wall. It was nothing before the splendor and magnificence of what was in the Temple above, and yet Akthanos could sense this altar's and its importance. Though he did not know, that slab of stone was the first altar to Zephyrion that had been wrought by mortal hands, and it had always been at the foot of that unassuming spot that the Primus had gone to speak with his God in person. Woe unto Vetros, for the first prophet had never told his successors!

In any case, Akthanos knelt down before the slab of stone, and then that golden eddy of wind that had shown him the final stretch of the Path (and that had also extinguished his torch earlier, though the King had not realized!) twisted and writhed in the air to form a small vortex. The twister kicked up the thick layer of dust that had accumulated upon the altar, and then Zephyrion's glorious voice came.

The words of a God resonated not from the altar or the golden wind, but from within Akthanos himself, for his blood had but a drop of Primus' and that was all it took to have a most sacred link with the Embodiment of Change.

"You come at last, my Prophet. I have watched you since your very birth, Akthanos, and your Kingdom since its. You should have spoken with me sooner. There was much that I could have done."

And there Akthanos was bewildered! He did not utter words, for indeed he could not right then, but rather had a thousand thoughts flash through his mind. Zephyrion saw them all.

"You expected me to be the first one to speak? Thought that I would seek you out?" Zephyrion spoke with indignation and anger creeping into his voice, though now he chose to put aside his own pride. Were Akthanos not his Prophet the First Gale would have surely showed his ire, but it would not do to destroy his own champion upon Galbar.

[color=Gold][b]"A Prophet's role is to listen, of course; if I had a Great Decree to make to mortalkind, I would indeed reach out to your mind. But it is also a Prophet and a King's role to speak out! If you are without direction or require my aid, it is you who must pray to me. It is not my place to descend unto Galbar and guide your every step; I must watch over the course of Nature and keep careful vigil upon the Forces of Change.

Mortal men act and think of their own accord. It is your role to use such gifts and thrive on by merit of your own strength and wisdom; a tree must be able to stand on its own. No god will care for a weak or complacent people that do nothing for themselves, just as no god will support a tree that cannot stand. It defies the Way of things.

So by now you will know why I shall not simply will away the problems that plague your rule. These plights of mortals are not brought about by I, but equally they are not stopped by I. They are challenges and tests meant to try mortals and not their gods. Such is the Way."[/color][/b]

Akthanos deeply contemplated those revelations. For some time, there was only silence.

"Yes, I am still here. I am ever here; my presence can be felt in every flicker of fire, every breath of wind, every drop of blood, every brine-crusted rock upon the seashores..."

"Then this humble servant has but one more request for thee, Great One," Akthanos spoke out now, "and that is thee lend to me the strength to finish what should have been done afore. Thou were right in saying that I waited too long; alas, I grow weak and close to death. All that I can ask for is the power to save Vetros before I die, that my sons will not be tried by the fruits of my failure and found wanting, and that in death I can join thee in the sky as a spirit devoid of lament or regret."

Zephyrion, for once, was taken aback and silent as he weighed that request. No god could ever be pristine in thought and decisive in every choice. Finally, he acquiesced. But he would do more than simply lend his power to Akthanos. He would entrust mortalkind with more power than any of his brethren ever had, and see what would come of such responsibility...

The air itself trembled in the tunnels as a surge of divine energy swept into the altar. The golden vortex that had hovered above now seeped into the stone slab and infested it with the power of Change.

In a terrifying display, thenaltar shuddered and then simultaneously cracked, burned, vaporized, glowed, and flashed a thousand different colors. With ease Zephyrion has chiseled the mundane stone into an artifact, but that was not the end. Now, he summoned forth more power than ever he had needed before, and he channeled it all into that one object. Thing thing radiated magic and divine power like the sun did light.

Before Akthanosnthere formed a great scepter, its crown resembling the detailed head of a great bird that was born to rule, the long shaft and handle encrusted with gems and serving as the pillar upon which all was supported, and then the bottom curving to become the tail of a snake. It reprrsented the grim necessities that power brought.

"Let this scepter mark you as King of men and the Firewind. It is your Law and your power, and it is a great deal of power indeed. You will find that I have entrusted you with much; far more than ever I gave to Primus. Mere locusts and barbarians will crumble before your gaze, for this scepter gives you dominion over the Firewind and Nature itself, and Djinn will respect its authority.

That vessel of my Might exudes such brilliance that it might attract the longing gaze of others. Beware, for demigods or even gods might seek to steal it, but cower not before them. With its power and my favor, few can challenge you."

Akthanos offered a thousand thanks, yet they fell upon deaf ears for his god had already left.


Zephyrion rested on atop the spire of his palace, though now the glow of his eyes was soft and he did not look doen upon Galbar. Instead, he found himself looking inward and meditating.

"You play a most unusual, and dare I say dangerous game, Lord Zephyrion!"

"You disrupt my thought and banish my solitude to offer such worthless insight?"

With similar irritation in his voice, the Djinni Lord answered, "Curiosity demanded it. It seems most unlike you to grant such...absurd power to a mortal that didn't even ask! Do you see the implications of this? Do you even care?"

"Change needn't follow any precedent or expectation; it does as it will. And I am not just Storm's King but also the Embodiment of Change, if you had forgotten."

"Remember that it was this same insufferable hubris and irrationality that drove your prized Lifprasil away, O Great Master! It will leave you alone and friendless, and if anything does, will bring your doom and downfall!"

At that, Zephyrion guffawed and thunder shook the sky. "O insolent Vizier, where to begin? Change cannot be stopped and I do not know if I even could; if the unthinkable came true and I were to fall, I think I would be simply be reborn anew as Fire or Stone or Sea. As in for now, the wind blows on.

As in for Lifprasil!"

Once again Zephyrion's voice was tinged with laughter, a most welcome change from the monotone fury that he had possessed to the exclusion of all else as of late.

The Fractal Ocarina that had been Lifprasil's parting gift to Zephyrion drifted from its purchase in some lonesome windowsill and sat suspended in the air before Zephyrion as he mused at it for the first time in many years. After a few moments, he hurled the wretched thing to Vizier Ventus who scrambled to catch it.

"Yes, that failed charge was an embarrassment to me. Still, whilst he learned nothing from my tutelage I observed much through my interactions with him. While he scurried down below and tries to carve out some realm, I meditated at these heights and grew wiser for it.

I see now with clarity that none are wise enough tonsimply take my words as truth on faith alone; they must see proof. Similarly, I now understand that I must play a more active role in the affairs of the mortals and lesser beings, and yet I must also be less direct. I must strive to not tell them so much as show them; they learn best, serve best, and strive to be the best when they must make due with their own strength. In doing all of that, they follow the Way and my glory is reflected even brighter in their own.

These principles define how I must interact with the Vetruvians and how I must interact even with you. So go, return to intervene directly with the mortals once again if ever you see fit. I implore you to see if it gives them any lasting benefit. In time you will see for yourself the truth in my words."

And there Ventus was taken aback; it was rare that his Master spoke in a manner that sounded compelling or wise once you pierced the veil of his overpowering confidence in each snd every word. Here, Ventus might have been persuaded in earnest.

"Very well. I shall defer to your wisdom on thid in earnest, and wait to see if my observations lend credence to this new philosophy of yours," Ventus spoke with renewed respect.

Zephyrion's answer was something of a snort. He truly seemed indifferent.

"But you did not answer me: why did you entrust the Vetruvian king with such power? Is it not...absurd that a mere mortal bear more power than the Djinn, perhaps more than even I or the various demigods?"

"I have no grand reason to offer you," he admitted. "If mortals show that they are not meant to rule, I will take back what gifts I have bestowed upon them. Stripped bare once more, they would be as nothing. But perhaps they shall do great things with this. We shall see.

Ventus shook his head. He could not help the feeling that in creating the King's Law his Master had disrupted the balance of things far too much, and all for the sake of little more than amusement.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Kho
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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)
9 Might 6 Freepoints


The Bard
Level 3 Demigod of Art (Music)
8 Might [at least 670] Worshippers


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

Seated within the tree, Vowzra turned the leaves of the Record once more. He had read it again and again over the endless centuries, yet never did it lose its novelty, and something within it affected him more deeply than he cared to know. Something about this fiery prophetess, this rejected Ely...

The book shut very suddenly and the Lord of Time looked up in realisation. What was this that unfolded before him? What was this that he now Saw?
'Perhaps...' he muttered to himself, 'perhaps he is behind the end of my...' the old man got up and made his way back to the Cube, where he sat and meditated on what he could now See. Who was this...this Amartía. Where had he come from? The god looked within the Cube and investigated his history, but the strange creature's inception began with Vestec...and not even that. Vestec merely unleashed it. It was not even a god, or a demigod at that, but it was not a mere mortal either. No...it was far more than that.
And it was building up its dark little nest and preparing itself for exploits most obscene.

'Come to me, Bard, and call on the Victors.'

When they had all gathered before him, Vowzra inspected them for a while. There stood The Bard, Guardian of Chronos and the Cube, Caretaker of the Victors. For these many eons had he watched over them and honed them that they would be well-prepared when destiny finally called. Yet never had Vowzra anticipated that destiny would call them now - indeed, he had been saving them for that meeting between Vestec's final horde and the forces Teknall had gathered up. But all that seemed so irrelevant now, now that he could See some more. This Sin seemed a far more imminent threat than even the Jvanic Entity - and who knew, perhaps this creature was the very reason behind the abrupt end of his Timeline.

'On the western shores of the White Ocean, a toxic entity has for long been growing, a wolfish creature hidden in the garb of a harmless sheep. Yet it is still young, and the damage and harm it is Fated to wreak can yet be nipped in the bud and lessened. You, my trusted son and Guardian of this Plane, and you Victors, you hallowed warriors. Go forth and bring me this cancerous thing, and bring down all it has built up,' at the god's words, the Victors raised their pole-swords into the air, and others raising their viciously curved short-swords in a gesture of respect, understanding and obedience. The Bard did not seem at all pleased at the prospect of leaving Chronos, but his father seemed adamant that he do so.
'This creature is not a mere mortal,' he explained, 'its power is comparable to that of a demigod. Only you can face it and apprehend it,' and with that, the Lord of Time bid them all get into formation and link arms. They swiftly did as commanded, and once all were ready, he laid his hands upon them the shoulder of one of them and disappeared. Swiftly thereafter, the entire Order did likewise, and when the next appeared it was in the sky above Sin's great pyramid-citadel: Cipher. Rank by rank, the Victors descended into the large space before the Cipher's entrance, with a strange large stone calender to their backs, and The Bard at the helm, the warriors of Time raised their pole-swords and, with unbreakable discipline and calm, marched down the aisle of trees towards the pyramid, and let loose their primordial battle-cry - or perhaps it was even older than primordial.

Burning rage hissed through Amartía's body like deathly poison, screeching a demanded release in the form of unwanted violence. It was like a volcano erupting; fury sweeping off him like ferocious waves. The wrath consumed him, engulfing his moralities and destroying the boundaries of loyalty.

The past few hours had been euphoric and beautiful. He had lost himself in the pleasures of trickery, deceit, and power. He had sent Astarte away, hoping to do more research on the 5th. He had told him about it, explained it, but getting it wouldn't be simple. Unfortunately, all sense of pleasure and enjoyment went out the window when his eyes in the sky went berserk, alerting him to the presence of intruders.

"Who dare?" he murmured as he gestured for a near by guard. "Alert the rest, formulate a militia to combat the intruders." Immediately, dozens of guards were called to arms, all pooling themselves at the entrance to meet the enemy. Clad in leather vests, linen skirts, Obsidian sickle swords in hand, and hide shield in the other, they faced the enemy, who screamed in unison. 'Xexeezz!'

As the Victors advanced, The Bard looked up at the strange pyramid and inhaled deeply. What was this strange...aura that radiated from the place. It was not merely the aura of the creature, it was something far greater. It was not an entity at all, but an energy of some kind.
'What are you harvesting here...' the demigod muttered as the first rank of Victors met the leather-clad foe.
The obsidian sickles may have been effective against the rudimentary armours existing on Galbar, they and the leather armour may have meant that Xerxes boasted one of the most advanced military orders of the day, but they were as nothing before the warriors of the gods. They were as nothing before the Victors who were in spider-silk clad and with Chronos metal armed, and by the very god of Time blessed. The Amestrisian warriors, though they fought valiantly, were cut down like wheat before the sickle. They could not even near the first rank of Victors, who kept the enemies at bay with their pole-swords. Without so much as slowing in their advance, the Victors tightened their ranks and continued sowing death as they marched - ever onward towards the pyramid's entrance! Ever onward towards their Fated Foe.

"How? How? How? Who?!" he mumbled despondently, as his face began to crack once again. Who would dare? Who would dare kill his pets? The bastards. Woe to the one who called such forces upon him. Could it have been the demi-gods? Did they fear his power? No, no, it was the gods. THE GODS! Curse their meddling, their ceaseless hypocrisy ate at his very soul. It was always the gods, always the gods. Never could they rest of tormenting them. He would kill them all, kill them all. All the gods would die, he would rip them to pieces and feast on their corpses. And the Primordials, oh the Primordials. They would bow at his feet, he would make them.

Crazed thoughts raced through Sin's mind as he sat on his throne, watching as his pets were cut down mercilessly. At that moment, he made up his mind, they would go no further.

Sin surrendered himself to his own sins. While on mortals, this would force them into a puppet-like state, on Amartía, it would turn him into a monster. All mortal beings had the ability to relinquish themselves to sin, to surrender themselves to their primal nature. That was sin. Primal desire. And Amartía unleashed it. Instantly, all those in his place would feel the weight of fear upon them. A shiver would go up their spines so to speak.


Amartía mask-like face shattered, revealing the demonic face of Sin. At the same time, his body transformed, an all fronts. With a single, forceful stomp, he shattered the marble floor of his palace, creating a hole right over the invaders. Without a forethought, Amartía jumped through, landing with enough force to create a crater underneath him. The cracked heads of two invaders rested under his feet, brains and blood intermingling with Sin's now black skin.

Instantly, Amartía went into a frenzy, holding nothing back. Each of Amartía's five senses had the option to be flipped into overdrive, bombarding his transformed mind with sensory information. The acuity of his eyes became astonishing, granting him the ability to see distances and details that few others could ever hope to experience. Amartía's ears became highly sensitive, able to pick up sound from miles away and even hear the heartbeat of an enemy who comes within a few hundred feet. His nose becames hyper-focused to a variety of odors, especially to blood, sweat, and endorphins, which allow sin to essentially read the bodily functions of his enemies, giving him knowledge as to their emotions and their level of fatigue. Even his sense of touch became superhuman; he could block out pain completely, feel vibrations through the air, and find pressure points on non-humanoid bodies through the pulsing of their veins.

With this advantage, he was unmatched, dodging swiping blades as if he could see into the future. Grabbing hold of a fallen blade, he cut deeper through the ranks, cutting off heads, easily ducking under swiping spears and impaling his combatants. With his superhuman senses of sight, hearing, touch, and smell, Amartía's reaction time became unmatched. His awareness of his environment became almost supernatural, allowing him to both dodge attacks and find ways around defenses.

Stabbing one warrior in the eye, he turned and launched a devastating kick in the abdomen of another, throwing the warrior into the wall. Another found his head to be crushed between his fingers before another's insides were nearly obliterated by a nasty fist to the gut.

In addition to his enhanced senses, Amartía gained the ability to harness the incredible strength that comes with releasing one's grip on all restrictions, becoming a beast whose body fights not to survive, but to reach the top of the food chain and crush everything else underfoot. Suddenly, he was capable of ripping through material defenses with his bare hands and the tips of his weapons. Although he was far more skilled at dodging attacks, his newfound strength gave him the option of fighting straight through them, parrying techniques that would otherwise have been impossible for him to withstand.

Amartía had become a logistical nightmare, and dozens would fall to him.

But all of that was of little consequence to The Bard. Other than the fact, perhaps, that Sin was now even more sensitive to sound. As the strange being dashed through the ranks of Victors, a few notes rang out and the Victors quickly dispersed from around Amartía and made space for The Bard to face the creature.
'Loyal Victors now brought down
Feel and see my searing frown
Let your injury, your wound
Close itself: you are not doomed
To live once and quickly fade
But are with more Time repaid:
Arise, you warriors clad
In Time; fight the wounds and pain
Victors! Rise and fight again.'

And as the song played out, those Victors who had been mortally wounded - but had not yet died - began regaining their vitality and their wounds, in obedience to the music's command, closed up. And those who had well and truly died melted away and disappeared. With that, The Bard commanded them to leave the wild creature to him and to fan out through Xerxes and brings its warriors and leaders of this unnatural cult low.

The Bard turned to Sin and played a few more melodies. Though the ears were one effective conduit for channelling his music, The effects of The Bard's music affected the world itself, and that the music be heard by the target merely added to its potency.
'Come here, you tigresses whose masks have fallen loose
Let your minds be filled with peace and therein sign a truce
And let your fangs be put away and hang up them claws
Shake your head from side to side and spruce up your paws
You shan't need that rusty smell in the times of peace
Or the stripes o' hot death, or the brain-matter grease
Come, close 'em bloodshot eyes, and let us all dive deep
'Cause we all need some restin', we all need some sleep...'

Just as Sin crushed the head of another Victor, the song of an intruder invaded his ears. Kill his leaders? Did they want to take his city too? The culprit would soon feel the fury of Sin. Unfortunately, it was him, who would be feeling anything. As he launched himself at Bard. His fist mere inches from its face, he found himself growing tired. Falling to the marble floor, he began to feel heavy, tired. His rage began to filter out, and was replaced with Sloth, unfortunately, a Sloth that wasn't of his control.

"Mark . . . my . . . words, I will kill each, and everyone of you." he slurred, and with that, he spiraled into darkness. The now-wordless melody continued for some minutes afterwards as the place filtered of the Victors and the sounds of battle slowly seeped in from outside. When at last the melody came to an end, The Bard bent down and picked up the strange creature. It was, and there was no other way to describe it, really quite a disgusting little thing.
'That it may be,' a voice sounded in his head, 'but it is a dangerous, disgusting little thing,' and before The Bard a doorway in the Fabric of Existence opened, and Vowzra stepped out and took Sin from The Bards hands.
'There are Seven major leaders to this cult, of whom only six remain. Root them out and bring them down, and all that this creature has built will come down with them,' and without further words, Vowzra disappeared back through the doorway, 'but be swift, my son, lest greater foes detect you and the Victors.'

Turning away, The Bard slowly began making his way up through the pyramid, seeking out the Six that his father had mentioned. The creatures were rather easy to identify, as the strange creature had somehow managed to empower them and imbue within them...certain characteristics. Of course, the fact that they were all conveniently huddled in the throne room also helped unveil the truth of who they were. Once more, The Bard's fingers travelled along his lute and another song rang out within the pyramid. And this one was far from calm. And this one was far from peaceful.

'Oh you huddled peaceables, who but yesterday waged war
Death has come a-singing, a song for Sinful souls to soar
And Death you see has many songs, but Sinful souls have one
A song, igniting terrors, says "at last your life is done!
"And I have come for you as surely as past Sinners knew,
So recall well all you have done when held up to review."
And so, oh huddled peaceables, let your souls now take flight
And call up all your pleasures when faced with imminent plight.'

And with that, the six remaining Sins let up their souls and were caught by the silent hand of Vowzra, and whisked away. The Bard called the Victors to him, and once they were all gathered in the throne room, linking arms as they had done before, the Lord of Time appeared once more, and with him, they disappeared. And all was silent. And all was still. And it was as though nothing had been.
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Hidden 3 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

You have stopped moving. Have you found the seeker?
He has been taken to a city. His name is Lazarus. He has been given a great shelter to work in.
Keep watching closely.
That shall not be a challenge. The maidservants are not closely watched in this place. I can assume the role of one.
Is there anything else?
He is writing strange runes onto a box. I cannot inspect it without alerting him, such are the nature of the runes.
Are they Tounic?
No. They are...original.
Observe its development.
There is something else. Speak.
...He has a shell, like ours. He looks like me.

He ventured from his house today. He travelled amonsgt the peasantry and partly into the wild.
Unclear. He has been asking after a gem. The matter appears to be causing him great distress.
Did he do anything else?
He found a dark fruit. It made him jittery when he ate it. He has taken a liking to them. He has taken a number for himself.
It puts him in a daze. He works frantically under its influence. Though he is caught by long pauses for thought.
Take them away if it is damaging him.
They are not as of yet.

Where are you going?
He is leaving the city.
Going where?
East. He leaves with haste, as if to go unnoticed.
Keep following him.
He is too young to know how to cover his trail from me. He will not notice a mountain goat at his destination as me, either.

What is it?
Ilunabar is here.
For what purpose?
Unknown. Might be a coincidence.
Have you been noticed.
If I have, the goddess has not shown it.
Keep your dist-
They are leaving. I will follow.

Where are you now?
A castle in the clouds. They have stopped here.
It may be a trap.
I can evade it. I will assume the form of an elemental.
You are already doing so, aren't you?
They are discussing things over maps. Lazarus appears to be making some kind of dual-creature.
What for?
An experiment. It is inconsequential.
...He has taken something behind her back. A piece of text. It may incept what we need Lazarus to do without our interference.
Ilunabar would have noticed.
She would. She has not reacted.

You found Lazarus again. What has become of him?
He resides in a valley. He is growing more guarana here.
Is that all?
Every other detail is written in that box of his. I can only watch him from afar in the form of a bird.

A development.
He has enlisted local goblins to tend to his gardens. I have disguised as one to get closer. He has his gems now.
Their purpose is unclear. He is reaching into the unseen with them.
Be careful not to be noticed.
Inconsequential. He will see my presence as normal if his only sight into the unseen has me within it.
He will notice your absence.
Then I will not be absent.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by WrongEndoftheRainbow
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The Demigod of Secrets

Level: 1
Might: 0

Journal of the Blind Seeker

Immediate issue presents itself -- I am largely incapable of defending myself. They sneak up on me time and time again, and every time they could have destroyed me. Unacceptable. It will take time to detect them. Immediately, I need to power myself. And this is what this machine that sits before me is for. I predict that I can empower myself with the gap. Simple enough. May be being watched, too much info given away now.

Just need to use it.

A sensation that was more worldly than any Lazarus currently felt wrenched him out if his visions. A row of chains rung out taut and his eyes opened just in time to see it wrapped around his waist, wrenching him out of his seat. Blood dripped onto the floor in front of him from his face. A white shape had been on the other end of the chains, he realised.

Realized he did, but comprehend he did not. He sat on the floor, the divine energies he exuded around him as a defacto sensory organ pulsating rapidly, in tune with the violent convulsions he was suffering. He could barely think, a majority of his mind still occupied with the remnants of what he’d unleashed upon himself.

The chains did not give Lazarus much time before they began to wrap around his arms and legs. They were uncomfortably tight, but they were not crushing. He could barely convulse under their weight.

In his peripheral senses, Lazarus saw pointed white sabatons padding on the floor calmly past his body. The origin of the chains stepped up to his machine and knelt beside it. It made a movement with its finger upon one of the gears and caused it to grind to a halt. It was a symbol that caused it, silencing the chamber around them. It was hard to focus, but even from his state, Lazarus could tell that the entire concept of the symbol was one of stillness.

The white shape stood up and turned to Lazarus properly. Again, the chains took up a life of their own, lifting Lazarus’ body upright and turning him to the shape. It outstretched a hand and cupped the cheek of Lazarus’ visor. Its touch caused more than what he anticipated. All the whirling visions and pain fell into patterns and rows in his mind’s eye. They folded and folded until, gradually, the world returned to semi-logic.

”I cannot take the visions away if you keep resisting.” The voice that hummed forth was curt, but held authority. ”You will not be free of the Gap unless you allow me to help you. Calm yourself.”

Lazarus spoke quietly, no longer as deliberate or mad as before. He sounded more like a child as the divine energies he exuded continued to fluctuate, whispering out but a brief few words. “Make the pain stop.” Blood continued to flow from his nose, and everything hurt. He couldn’t comprehend what he saw, but it certainly left its mark.

The patterns continued to fold away with every outward breath Lazarus released. With it, the pain began to dull, his senses began to clear. His mind was being brushed by the gentle hand on his cheek with motherly gentleness. The memories of the gap were still in his mind, but whenever Lazarus tried to recall them, they were blocked by strange red symbols that described wards and walls. Pain lanced through his temples when he tried to read them too closely.

As all traces of the gap began to subside from Lazarus’ consciousness, the owner of the hand on his cheek came into focus. The white shape was a light, petite human figure, clad in a gapless carapace of white plate armour. Lazarus’ senses were drawn to the insignia on its chest; two adjacent circles enclosed in a larger third circle, drawn in bright red. The figure’s helmet was surprisingly similar to Lazarus’, though it had no holes or lines upon it and the visor did not look designed to open. A wispy white cape fell from the figure’s shoulders. From under the figure’s arms fell slack the chains that held Lazarus bound. ”How are you feeling?” it asked. ”Is the pain still present?”

As soon as the chains went slack, Lazarus simply fell to the ground, knees buckling. The figure knelt down as well, the wispy cape falling slowly against the air. Lazarus shakily held himself up with his arms as he kneeled on the ground. He drew in shaky breaths, hit with lances of pain every time his mind desperately tried to pull up the images to make sense of them. He meekly responded, ”It hurts. It hurts.” he paused a moment, quietly whispering arcane words.

The arcane link between him and Mesera and Furem was opened, and he proceeded to dump some of the load onto them, forcing them to share in his pain. He desperately required a reprieve, and he had the perfect dumping ground.

”Lazarus. You must leave what you saw behind. The pain will not stop until you do. I made sure of it.” The figure’s voice appeared to lack the empathy that its words suggested. ”Focus elsewhere. Explain to me what you were doing. Why did you delve into the Gap without caution?”

Upon hearing the figure’s words, he immediately dumped all of the warded off memories into the arcane link between him and Mesera and Furem, forcing them to live with what he did, at least for the time being. He then took a moment to recompose himself as he closed the arcane link, locking away the memories. He, however, remained with a tone of utter exhaustion and defeat. “I thought.. I thought I could control it. I took precautions. I took precautions.”

”No, you did not,” the figure interrupted. ”You piled some pebbles to suppress a flood. Why were you trying to control the Gap, Lazarus?”

He fell silent for a time, fighting an internal battle. One side of him was too exhausted to lie, but the other side screamed at him not to tell the truth. ”I was.. I needed the power. I needed the power. It was the eas-- easiest source.” He remained kneeling on the ground, still recovering from his attempt at channeling the gap.

A pause was followed by a flat response. ”Is that all?”

”Y-yes. That’s.. That’s all.” He spoke shakily, still kneeling as what seemed to be a few aftershocks hit him.

The figure’s head slowly turned to look at a nearby wall, bowing its head in thought. Its focus turned back to Lazarus. ”If it was not made clear just now, the Gap is not a place to gather power. The greatest gods have trouble harnessing its smallest motes. The figure tilted its head. ”For what reason do you wish to gather power, Lazarus?”

Lazarus refused to tilt his head up, keeping it pointed at the ground as the blood dripping from his nose pooled just below him. ”Need it for.. For experiments. Need it. To defend myself.. From Amestris. From the others. All after me. Needed to defend myself.”

The figure lifted one forearm over its knee, causing the chains to tinkle with the movement. The chains had retracted without notice. They ended with strange barbed weights. ”I can defend you from Amestris, as well as your siblings, perhaps even the gods. Power is something that you must build on your own, though I might help you.” The figure’s head bowed forward again. Lazarus felt like its unseen eyes were still on him. ”I could do this for you for a service in return.” The figure gave a moment for Lazarus to consider.

Lazarus didn’t have it in him to pry or riddle. He spoke plainly as he continued to kneel shakily. “What service?”

”Keep researching. Find the codex of creation.”

He just nodded, not even bothering to speak. He acknowledged the request with an agreement, then returned to pooling his own blood on the floor. He had worked up quite a bloodflow.

”Good. I will be watching.” The figure stood up and roughly took the top of Lazarus’ head in its fingers. He was still for a moment, unable or unwilling to act. In the next instant, as if he had blinked, the figure had disappeared. Some time had passed. He could see footprints walking around himself and out of the chamber, before they faded into nothing.

He simply remained kneeling as the figure left, still recovering.

Mesera and Furem

Mercy and Wrath
0 Khookies
Level 1

The pain hit them suddenly, all at once. At first it was just minor, and they struggled through it. Furem took the bulwark of the pain while Mesera propped him up. They worked together to hold it back, until it suddenly hit them like a wave. A burst of pain, pulsating in their temples. Their forms switched rapidly as they dropped to the ground.

Get rid of the pain, little Kitsune.

Endure the pain, dear Wolf.

And so they worked together, mentally holding themselves together as their physical form twitched on the ground, overwhelmed by the utter pain it was suffering. They had retreated deep into their mind, actively trying to block off the sources of the pain; the memories, blocked off by wards, that had suddenly been forced upon them.

And so they laid on the ground, twitching.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Cyclone
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Cyclone Trapped in the Past

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Let Justice be Done

Even if 'twere an thousand years

The Celestial Citadel sailed slowly across the spreading skies, fastened into the fabric of the firmanents by the furling and unfurling fog over which Zephyrion was master. Above it, the moons of Galbar drifted in their perpetual orbit, dwarfing the flying fortress in size and reaching greater heights and peaks. And beyond even them, the sun flared and fumed and devoured the sky with its glory, so that any who looked up from the earth saw the supreme glory of Ull'Yang, and nothing of the First Gale but the odd cloud which drifted lazily by.

Vowzra watched it as it sailed above him, wondering what it was that Zephyrion could see, lodged so high up above the earth. One could only see small things from such a great height, only those down in the valleys could see the grandeur of the world. The Lord of Time had not, before that moment, given Zephyrion's fort much thought, but he had Seen that a thing most terrible would come about here, and he was here to witness it with his Eye. Though his journey soon drew to a close, yet would he carry out his duties to the last.

Even as he watched, the very clouds which carried the alcazar darkened and began to boil and expand. And they invaded the castle from every entrance and crevice. So thick and strange had the clouds become that all physical beings within would, upon inhaling the strange air, fall into a deep, dreamless sleep. Sprytes and djinnis alike would be forced out, and the mighty Zephyrion himself would find his ethereal body flung out like a ragdoll, or like the mixture of air and water and mucus a whale expelled through its blowhole.

Within the First Gale's mind, the great crime was played and replayed, before his eyes in the blackened clouds, it played out again and again. The moment he altered the very nature of the Universe so as to create flickers. A change to the very nature of the Universe, an addition to the Codex which was not in the Codex.

'For your trespasses, lawbreaker,'
the familiar voice of Amul'Sharar sounded,
'let judgment commence,'
with that, the clouds formed upon one another and the shape of Amul'Sharar appeared high above, seated cross legged, with a pair of scales in his lower right arm and a golden sword in his upper left. To his right, seated upon a lower cloud, was Vowzra, and to his left, upon a higher cloud, was a creature too immense to be concieved by creatures so low as Zephyrion or Vowzra. Whether Amul'Sharar himself could percieve Fate was a mystery. Vowzra had known that he would be needed, for it was his to decree the length of punishment, the Time Zephyrion would serve. If he would serve. If judgment would be passed against him.

'You have seen the nature of the charges against you, and they are indeed grave. And we have seen that there is no doubt regarding your culpability, for it was you who did it and you who is to blame for this grievous breach. But justice dictates that you speak your defence. What is it that drove you to do as you did, and does it protect you from the full fury of punishment earned?'

It was not with calm or meek acceptance that the streams are made to flow upriver, and similarly it was not without massive struggle that the Master of Change suffered such an invasion upon his domain. With a tremendous heave, the force of Change within all things and the very sky itself whipped into life, forcing the thick haze of clouds back out of his palace in one fit of defiance. Those few djinn that had milled aimlessly through the alabster halls were scattered even more by the titanic struggle, and Zephyrion had nearly returned things to their natural state before he himself was pulled outwards, and in this state of bewilderment and rage abandoned his efforts to shut forth the clouds that poured into his halls. He was more concerned with whatever assailants had disrupted his tranquility.

What followed were more intrusions, this time in the form of memories and vivid images forced into his mind, not unlike what he might expect of the wretched Vulamera in her trickery and mind games. Then he faced those two that offended him so. There was a much larger one that loomed over all, yet he faced that one too (with his mind as devoid of fear as the parched desert sands of water!) and with nary a breath's time wasted, addressed them all back with scorn returned twofold, "Doth the tree answer to why its leaves must fall? Parfay, never did this one submit to thraldom, and so naught but hollow authority is wielded before me."

Amul'Sharar appeared to be looking down upon something before him, his eyes coldly surveying whatever it was like a clerk checking over his most recent letter for grammatical errors or slips. With that, he spoke slowly and with authority.
'We find your lack of awareness as to the vulnerability of your position...most perturbing. Your contempt for the justice to be administered and lack of acknowledgement of the severity of your crime leave us with no doubts regarding your guilt, and with no doubts regarding the intentional nature of your action. For your crime, first and foremost, and for your lack of vision as to your position before ours, we do sentence you,'
and with that, a large scroll appeared before Amul'Sharar which had upon it red writing. He stamped it with one of his many fingers and handed it to Vowzra, who wrote upon it the length of Zephyrion's punishment before giving it back to the Terrible Adjudicator.

'Zephyrion, hereby to be known as Spryte Number One, for your meddling with what should ne'er be meddled with and creating what should ne'er be created; for your contempt before the Supreme Being and the Adjudicator of Justice; for your lack of recognition of the severity of your crimes: you are hereby banished. Never shall you set foot or gaze upon this place for the entirety of your sentence: a hundred Galbarian years.'
the scroll rolled up and disappeared, and Zephyrion with it.

'Let this be a warning to all transgressors.'


One vengeful roar echoed through Galbar's heavenly ceiling, and then Zephyrion began to fade away. His vanishing was not altogether sudden as if he had been willed out of existence; rather, it was a gradual thing as he slipped through the cracks of Time like sand through the throat of an hourglass. Any threat or insult that he admonished was distorted to a forlorn din and made incomprehensible, and even then the sounds eventually subsided and the mere vibrations in the air that they were became wind.

With what could only be shock those djinn that had been onlookers were stilled, and the nearby Illunabar too might have been lost for words if she had indeed been witness to this occurrence

With time dilated so too was color and perception; all things were dulled to the god's senses and he was trapped in that strange stasis for what might have been millennia. And with the disappearance of the First Gale, the blackened clouds receded and those who were asleep awakened. The Terrible Adjudicator disappeared, and Fate herself melted away as though she had not been there. Vowzra's eyes sweeped over the Citadel once more, before the Vicegerent turned away and melted gently into the Fabric of Existence. When he emerged, he found himself seated upon a small tree. The tree rested upon a large cliff overlooking the paradisal Chronos hinterlands. Grass grows and rivers and streams flow, and the Treeminds who had survived Vestec's kidnapping frolicked and lived here in peace, alongside the Lifprasilians who had been sacrificed for the sake of Zephyrion and Astarte's entertainment or experiment, who had not been mourned by their master or remembered by their comrades. And here too lived the ogres who had been slain by the coming apart of the stone. Here they prospered and lived undying and ever-young. And of them were his Victors.

It was not out of pure mercy that Vowzra had brought them here, for they had been Fated to exist here, and they were Fated to one day return to Galbar - though when he could not say. They would call upon their oppressors and they would demand - indeed, seize - justice. Even as he looked on, the First Gale appeared above a lake not too far away. The Bard, though he did not see the new god, felt his presence immediately. He looked up, expectation in his eyes.

Other than Vowzra and the Bard, there was no being in all of Chronos whom Zephyrion would take notice of, and the Bard knew that Vowzra would be the last being Zephyrion would wish to see. And that strange creature that they had so recently brought back with them from Xerxes? It was imprisoned within the Cube. It was now a matter of Time before the banished god made his way to the waiting Bard.

Strange things abounded in Chronos and Vowzra's accursed touch was everywhere. The temptation existed for him to bring about Change of the destructive sort and undo all that his 'brother' had done here, yet such mindless havoc was best left for Vestec to wreak, and so for the time Zephyrion had merely suspended himself in the air and waited so patiently. How long would he be here? An eternity?

If he was consigned to that cage forever, he had best get to know its each and every iron bar. From above Zephyrion's eye had swept across this world and examined its every detail. His perception, unbound to his physical form, reached out to touch every crevice. This place left him with the feeling of neither a cramped cell nor an endless expanse, more like an island amidst a vast sea of nothingness. Only a few things were truly of note, and as the Bard had known, it was one of them.

The unfamiliar presence of a divine being (though dillute in its power, just as Lifprasil had been) drew Zephyrion closer like a moth to a flame. A thick and heavy stormcloud rolled over the landscape, indeed a thing never before seen in this idyllic land, and it came to rest above the Bard. There was a clap of thunder and then lightning, though the bolts never touched the ground; instead, they coiled and writhed like vipers and made up the eyes of the giant face that looked down upon the Time's Oracle.

As thunder roared and lightning struck (though it never touched the ground), the fingers of the Bard moved across the strings of the divine lute, and his mouth opened and music filled the air of Chronos.
'Lord of the winds! I feel thee nigh; Galloping forth across the sky; Your gallop escapes not my eye!
With thunder and lightning, you strike! Trees shatter, each a burning spike; Who can defy you in your reich?
Oh great lord of your airy realm; With you now gone, who's at the helm? Wil't stand, or will foes overwhelm?'
with that, the Bard lifted his fingers and looked up into the raging countenance of the First Gale, 'welcome, Lord of the Winds, to what do I owe the most humbling pleasure of being in your presence? To see with mine own two eyes the raging of your thunders and the spark of your lightning bolts. I have only seen these in dreams created by words and imbued by music with life,' a smile spread across the Bard's face as he spoke.

"Thunder roars its heralding call
and mighty rain doth fall.
Yet here, thou remain.
I would have your name!"

The Bard's smile widened and a tinge of admiration entered his eyes at the god's response. It was, in the Bard's eyes, the greatest sign of respect for one to respond to poetry and song in kind. The Lord of the Winds may yet be a somewhat selfish and inward-looking god, from what the Cube recorded of him, but yet there was within him a certain level of...goodness. Though perhaps the word did not quite capture it. Once again, his fingers flowed across the strings of the lute and his melodious voice rang out into the very fabric of Chronos.
'I am but a humble Bard who present, past, and future sees
I sit here upon the Cube and do as Mighty Fate decrees
I guard this here divine plane, its creatures, mountains, lakes, and trees
And I listen to the earth and hear the whispers on the breeze,'
his lips closed again and his pitch black eyes stared once more into the storm, his face smiling still. It had been long since his father had spoken to him, and he enjoyed the First Gale's company already. His memories took him to those long ago times, before Belvast's coming, when he had been watching his father through the Hexahedron and had been rather surprised by some of the things he was doing. Some things were not within the Hexahedron's database of potential Timelines. His visit to the Deepwoods after Astarte and Zephyrion finished experimenting on the stone was one such anomaly. The Bark-skinned god had trailed his hands across the broken branches and trees which the other gods and their entourage had destroyed. Old trees, some as old as life on Galbar. As his hand passed over the destruction, the trees righted themselves once more and the mindless destruction disappeared.

The old god of bark had made his way to the clearing where the remains of Astarte's rock lay, surrounded yet by the fresh remains of some fifty ogres, four hain, six angels, five pronobi and seven humans. And the two dead Lifprasillians who still lay on the ground. The god had waved a hand of bark and the energies within him took hold of the various pieces of flesh and began working through them. One by one, the creatures that had died for the entertainment of the gods rose up, their flesh returned and their bodies grew and lifelessness gave way to life as souls returned from the clutches of Reathos, who had at that time been yet among the living gods. Time itself took a step back and allowed those whose Time had not arrived to live again.

The startled creatures looked about themselves in shock. They had not thought that their souls would once more caress their bodies, they had thought themselves forever gone. They had thought their memories lost and their knowledge dust.
'We have brought you back even from the jaws of death. We have raised you that you may carry what is Fated on shoulders strong and steady. We have raised you and we will take you and we will return you another,' and with that, the old god of bark summoned the remains of Astarte's stone to himself, leaving but a Fated amount for a certain ogre who would come searching for it, and he disappeared into the Fabric of Existence along with his entourage. And he had brought them here, to Chronos.

The Bard had visited them often, had sung and made merry. And all was peace, even when the distraught Treeminds came. Three of them. The last of their people, they had said.

The Bard shook the memories away, that was many centuries ago now. Though those very individuals still lived, they had grown and were many now. And though the Bard had not known in those early days what it was that Vowzra was planning, for the Hexahedron had been eerily quiet on the matter, he had waited and seen with his very eyes. He watched the creation of Vowzra's Victors, and he himself honed them into the sharpened sword of the Time god. As his memories returned him to the present, his eyes found themselves staring once more into those of the wind god.

A servant of Fate? The very mention was infuriating. A rush of wind was sucked into the sky, and like a whip it snapped back down bearing a barrage of hail. One kindly zephyr shielded the Bard, though the landscape was battered ever mercilessly.

The voice of the howling storm sang back, though this time with a bite in its tone,
"Ah, Fate the Flighty
a being almighty
yet athwart to Change.
Who quoth me villain,
who saw fit yede my realm,
who sought me to estrange.

Daren't utter that name,
for the Wind will sing or gnash
all the same."

The wind struck the Cube and its surroundings mercilessly, dust rose and white stone broke away from the ground around the Cube, but the Cube itself seemed unaffected. The wind did not even blow away the dust which had gathered up in the cracks which formed the foreign words on its ancient surface. The Cherry Tree bent ever so slightly before the wind and many of its leaves were carried away, and many of its cherries too. And the pool surrounding the Cherry Tree's islet rose up at the touch of the wind and raged against the shores that confined it. The Bard sighed a slow sigh and spoke without playing his lute.
'If you could put your fury aside, oh Great Gale; You will then see why it did so, without fail; But 'tis yours to rage, to bring the wind and hail,' he thought for a while, 'though I must admit, I serve Fate without knowing her, for that is my father's command. He has told me great things about her, things I see no reason to deny. Though the Hexahedron reveals to me the flaws of all the gods, it does not show Fate to be flighty or unjust. Perhaps you merely need to see her...and see yourself, with a new eye? My defence of her may bring on wind and hail, but I can rest assured knowing I have spoken naught but truth as percieved by mine eye and known in my heart of hearts, 'til truth itself be proven lie.'

"The heart of a storm is ever calm, no matter how furious the tempest. From the sky above I see with a greater clarity than any, and this plaything of Vowzra's whispers falsely to thy ear, else thou art blind!

Even such things as Fate and Time be powerless and without meaning when seen beside the inevitability of Change: I will be free."

The Bard looked down sadly and shook his head. He truly was as the Hexahedron had told and foretold. But a god was still a god and knew things the Bard could not comprehend. Perhaps he could learn something of the world beyond Chronos from him, if only he would not grow angry and rage upon the plane.
'Then, for a moment if you will, let the hurricane slow
And listen to this speaker though he be a Bard most low

Speak to me of that most Terrible Adjudicator
And of Fate, whom I know naught about but her great splendour

Perhaps, having heard from my Father and having heard you
I will then come upon a truth which is truer than true,'
he looked to Zephyrion, wondering if he would indulge him.

"At the brink of infinity I stood and over its great precipice have I nearly walked; so why, then, do I face doubt and question?

Know that the two Adversaries that shackled me here have done naught but bide their Time, waiting to strike upon hearing the slightest of offenses to artificial authority. Through their inactions they have succumbed to Sloth and inactivity, permeance and stasis, the anathema to Change and the truest of evil before my eyes.

Beyond this, you need hear no explanation. Merely trust that were you to share such knowledge that I bear, mine condemnation of their ilk would be shared in your heart.

Change reigns superior to both you and Time, and as such, you, your Father, and the accursed cube all ought acquiesce to my wisdom; to do otherwise is to forfeit truth itself."

The Bard's eyes narrowed at these words and anger flashed in his eyes. Even as he looked on absolute silenced dawned all around them, the winds hushed and the spiders which skittered to and fro all over the Chronos heartlands seemed to disappear into any crevice they could find. The Bard moved a finger along one of the lute's strings and played a few omenous notes before his full fury burst forth and the lute thundered louder than anything even the Lord of Thunder could fashion.

'Thou whose ego knows no limits make the moon of beauty weep
Thou whose words are poison-coated make the tears of heartache seep

When shall goodly Fortune smite thee, rid thy tongue of poison's vice
May your sorrow know no ending and the wrath of Fortune slice

Seething in thine ego's clutches may ye never know respite
Let your malice eat your spirit and your essence die of spite

Get thee gone for your existence fills my soul with wrath and rage
Damn the eyes which saw and thought ye not a cretin but a sage

How this heart is anguish-ridden to have given ye a chance
Let it throb its wicked redness and the tears of wisdom dance.'

In a fit of rage, Zephyrion took on that horrifying raw form of his, that of colossal tempest, and with ease he ripped through Chronos to rend the landscape asunder and ravage all within sight. That was the First Gale's poetic response to the Bard's insolence and spittle; damnation be wrought unto he, his maker, and this accursed realm! The creatures living in that paradise were shocked at the violence of this wicked being. Indeed, many creatures living in the hinterlands remembered the Wind God and had told their children and grandchildren about it. They screamed in fear, those of them who were not Victors, and ran away, but many were taken up by the fury of the storm. It could not kill them, here in Chronos, but terror and pain abounded. Nothing stopped his destruction save for Time itself and the boredom and calm that eventually cooled his inner fire. At last, the winds died down and stilled in that timeless world, and Zephyrion laid down to rest and brood. Eons passed like days, the god's sanity dwindling away as his thoughts were trapped ever in the past. Many of the little creatures came to his resting place, offering the terrible being fruits and gifts, cloaks of spider-silk and their respects. But it never responded to them, and the Victors amongst them told them they needn't worry about this being. But the fast majority were but normal creature and thought that perhaps their respect had placated it, perhaps it had other things on its mind and so no longer wished to terrorise them. Nevertheless, they continued showing their fear and respect for it, much though the Victors admonished them for their foolishness.

The Bard sat for long upon the Cube, even as Zephyrion raged and when he finally calmed and became still. Such was the way of the storm. It could rage most terribly if it so wished, but it could only rage for so long. Even the greatest storms, though they last ten thousand years, had to cease and die at last. Every storm necessarily died. And though Zephyrion had not died, he had calmed at last.

When enough Time had passed, the Bard finally rose up and began his trek towards the brooding god. It was no good to leave him as he was with no direction or purpose. It would not do for the god to become mad, as other before had, for that was not the purpose of his banishment. He had to grow. He had to mature. It was a foolish rose which thought itself blooming when it was yet covered by sepals, and that was the example of Zephyrion, a bud which thought itself a rose. But he would do what little he could to help him see the path towards full bloom.
'Hail, Lord of the Winds! What is this that you do? Since when has it been your way to seeth and simmer above a pool?'

The Lord of the Winds, as it were, now appeared more as a dusty cloud than any mighty vortex. The very divine essence of Change that made up Zephyrion did not rest, and so that cloud slowly swirled, but for all its sloth he still appeared half dead. This was as motionless and statuesque as the First Gale could be, decrepit as some mere mote of his true power. Perhaps this pale reflection of himself was what allowed that Bard to dare approach him yet again.

The once sparkling, pristine pool below was now more of a stagnant cesspit of mud; this was the result of that dusty cloud hovering above its surface for the past many years. In this sullied state it was not so different from the god itself, and indeed the Bard's poetic sense had likely observed as much.

Try as he might have to ignore the interloper and pass himelf off for a mundane haze of dust, the Bard's presence piqued his interest and in doing so caused the cloud to swirl with ever so much more vigor. The choking haze of dust was whipped away as Zephyrion reluctantly shed away that grungy coat, taking no care to spare Bard the indignity of having some amount of dust and sand blown into his face.

Begrudgingly, the Bard was given his answer, "Here I lie at rest, counting the days until such time that I am released from this prison, or perhaps muster up such rage and wild madness that I find the strength or creativity to break free of my chains and leave of my own power. Tell me, Songwriter, which outcome your little cube foresees happening first."

The Bard's face broke into a wide smile and he chuckled slightly.
'My little Cube foresees neither, First Gale, for it is neither yours to be subdued by madness nor is it yours to simply sit and wait. Yours is to rise up and create, and with creation will come understanding, and with understanding there will come wisdom, and with wisdom there will come a great realisation, and maybe then you will learn to See. But neither idleness nor madness are your lot! And should you choose either, I would personally sit here and sing your curses till you tired of me so that you would sally forth and create rather than sit a second more with me!'

Scorn clung to the air itself as the wind god retorted, "And what if mighty gusts were to sweep you along that I might remain here in stillness, and continue to spite the cube and my captors' will?"

The Bard shrugged.
'You may well do that, but I would return, would I not? And I would return another, and another. And though your patience last, my patience would last longer, for every storm must necessarily come to a-'

Zephyrion at once interrupted, "Only one man has ever persevered the wind time and time again to outmatch my patience; I do not think you have his spirit in you. Shall we make a game of it?"

'If you can blow me where my music cannot reach you, then you have won,' the Bard laughed, 'and I do not think you can, or have the spirit to!'

In what was something between a contemptuous scoff and cackling laughter, a breath left the god's form and enveloped the Bard. It swirled and writhed about him creating a vortex that howled so loudly as to drown out speech, and then that raging cyclone carried the Bard far and away.

And even as it carried him away, all of Chronos seemed to burst into song. But the fingers of the Bard did not play, and his lute remained tightly strapped round his shoulder. The musician was of many types, he was at once a composer, an instrumentalist and a singer. And he was a conductor. And so in his flailing and spinning, Chronos did not simply see a wild and mad movement, but commands and art. And the singing of the birds rose up, and the wind whistled and the very rocks thumped, and the music of nature as induced by the Bard rang out. And though the Bard did not sing, there was his voice, and though his fingers did not dart across the lute, there was its divine sound. And though he did not laugh, there too was his laugh - neither mocking nor leering, but jovial.

And the winds deposited him far away, in spaces beyond the clouds of the floating island created by Vowzra. And The Bard journeyed for a few hours before he was once more among the red and orange clouds, and he journeyed till he was once more sat before Zephyrion, his music never ceasing.
'You know, in your stillness you neither spite me, nor my father, nor Fate, nor the Cube. You simply concede your defeat to them. It is their wish that you are locked away, is it not? That your output and constant influence upon the universe is brought to a complete halt. Why is it, then, that you give them what they want? The Cube does not foresee what Vowzra wishes, it is not his to command it. It sees a certain truth, and it is yours to prove it right or wrong. So why do you not prove it right, and in so doing prove your captors wrong?'

"Victory," Zephyrion began even as another storm was conjured to carry off Bard once more, "will come through perserverence. Change will not be suppressed forever; not even they have such power or gall!" This time, the tempest roared over the hills just as Zephyrion had in the years foregone, bearing with it hail and lightning. The Bard was carried to the very edge of Chronos, yet there the storm did not stop, seemingly content with nothing less than to carry him beyond borders so far as to be inconceivable to mortal minds. But though the staunch winds huffed and puffed, they could not blow the borders down. For who could ever hope to blow the borders down? Indeed, it was not a matter of blowing them down, or traversing them, they simply seemed to extend so that no matter how far the winds travelled with the Bard, they remained ever within the borders of Chronos. There would be no escape, the lines drawn in the nothingness of the world were simply not traversable. They would follow wherever one went, they would cling and claw, and they would never let go. Eventually, the winds had travelled so far that they simply had no more air in them, and the Bard was able to free himself of Zephyrion's second attempt to banish him, and though he was now further than he had been before, he made his way back. And though it took him many days, he came before Zephyrion at last, his music sounding still. He sat down before the god and played a few notes before looking up expectantly.

Alas, it was not the Bard's fate to have so easy a persuasion upon the prideful Master of Change. Time and time again an ever stronger gale swept up the hapless Bard and carried him so far as it could before Zephyrion's power waned, and though each time it was indeed another day's travel before he could return once more, to Zephyrion's chagrin the Bard always did return. With his absence came the peace of sight, but never sound; no, the Bard's accursed music rang in his ears no matter how faroff he had exiled the being. At last, Zephyrion saw the treachery in the Bard, and realized that this 'game' had never been a game at all; it seemed that the Bard's music sounded sharply regardless of how insurmountable the distance between the two be. Tired of the game, after many years of toil he at last conceded a loss. As though it mattered!

"I grow weary of this endless struggle; handedly you have won this contest, though this feat be as meaningless as one drop of rain."
At these words Bard raised an eyebrow and smiled rather widely.
'And who are we that we should declare this is meaningless and that is meaningful? And which is more, of all the things, nothing could be more meaningful than a drop of rain. Each drop has within it endless life and endless worlds,' his index finger travelled along one of the strings of his trusted lute, 'nothing could be more meaningful...'
For a few moments the sound of music peaked, and then it stopped altogether and silence reigned.
'But I guess my efforts have been in vain. Though I dearly wished to see you break free of my father's rules and conditions for your being here, it seems that you are set on obeying him in every way,' with that the Bard rose to his feet, shrugged in surrender, and turned to leave, 'it is what it is. I guess one really cannot go against the Lord of Time after all, even so great a being as the Lord of Change. The hierarchy of the gods clears up before me at last, if ever so slightly.'

"The being that sees value in one whisper of rain amongst the mightiest of storms is but a candle before the brilliance of a star. Until and unless I propose to bless this playing field of Vowzra with the power of Change and shape it to perfection, it will remain a pale reflection of what I and the others have built in the real plane of existence.

Just as the monsoons care not for the plight of those creatures scurrying beneath the glow of lightning, it is not proper that I concern myself with insects or your false notions of hierarchy. Once I tried to impart the truest form of knowledge and understanding - my own! - upon a being of your stature, and thoroughly and absolutely did it expunge learning and rebuke the enlightenment that I offered. Not twice will this one repeat a mistake; teaching you the fault in your corrupted variant of reason is not a task that falls within the mantle of my responsibility!"

The Bard frowned at Zephyrion's words, how could one see the value in the mightiest storm if one could not even appreciate the droplets which made it up? How could one see the glory of existence if one did not realise the grandeur of its smallest component parts? One who could not see the small things could not have any regard for the grand things. But the Bard held his tongue, for it seemed that the Wind god had argued with beings such as he before. He would have to see into the Cube later.
'No no, I see it now. I see it now,' he paused for a few seconds, as though some kind of realisation had dawned upon him, 'there is a great truth in what you say. How did I not see this before? What stupid creature looks upon the insignificant raindrop and forgets the glory of the storm? You have opened my eyes to a thing that, even if 'twere an thousand years, I would never have seen. It is clear to me now that you had a far greater vision in mind. It is clear to me now that you have not been sitting here idly after all! You have simply been contemplating the way to perfect such an imperfect and ugly place as this that my father has created! It needs your touch, Lord of the Winds! By your glory, I cannot understand how I ever managed to live here before your coming, and I do not know how I will manage should you not place your mark upon this plane of illusions and lies,' and with that, the Bard walked away and disappeared towards the Chronos heartlands, muttering somethng about the great 'unveiling' that had, in that moment, in his mind occurred. It was no sin to let the Lord of Change have some satisfaction, now, was it?

There was once a time in which Zephyrion might have rejoiced to hear such clarity in the eyes of another and leap to the chance to take that wise one under his wing, but such days were gone and the Bard's mere presence now had a way of offending the god. So it was with elation that the music at last vanished and the Bard was gone from sight, leaving the First Gale with the serenity and inspiration of the clime around. It was all like raw clay, roughly molded into shape but capable of so much more. Vowzra's touch, however, had left an all but imperceptible mark upon all things on this island of Chronos, and that mere aura was enough to discourage Zephyrion from improving upon anything in sight. It was as if the silty clay had been mixed with worthless and putrid mud or swamp ooze; the clay itself was disgusting in its own right and no bricks baked from it would ever bear a great burden in the name of beauty. No, with Vowzra's touch in every nook and cranny of this timeless island, the place was rendered unworthy.

Still, the thought eventually struck Zephyrion to simply leave the island and create something separate, a void between the two worlds so vast that they may as well rest in two different planes of existence. He had always contemplated the creation of a world that was his alone, away from the grasp and meddling reach of his kindred. Such memories and hopes were to be cherished; they brought forth the old feelings and banished for a time the emptiness that filled him in this accursed prison.

As it was, there came a day where at last he realized that perhaps this was achievable even now. His freedom had been stripped by the interlopers, perhaps, yet his power had not been curbed. Those memories of the past were not treasures so much as a tapestry of what lied ahead; with an exuberance that he hadn't felt in millennium, he moved once more. The winds whipped into action he billowed through the skies faster than mortals could comprehend. He passed over the island of Chronos and all its strange oddities within a moment, and over the empty void beyond he soared on. Throughout his long journey, he flew brushing the ever-present veil above, that precipitous barrier the only thing between this plane and the oblivion and chaos of the Gap. As it was, that thin gap was the only thing within the void of nothingness that gave the god a sense of something, of feeling. Without it he might have gone mad.

Finally, the Gale slowed himself and came to a stop. There was no particular landmark or scene any different, nor was there any meaning or purpose to how far he had travelled for he knew not even that. Indeed, he had come so far that he would not have been able to find that island of Chronos now even if he tried for a million years. With nowhere to turn back, he could at last begin.

Just as he himself had been conjured from the nothingness of the primordial void, Zephyrion sparked a Change and willed into existence a perfect sphere of planetary size. His mighty gales were channeled and controlled to the fullest extent of his power, painstakingly and meticulously scultping this nascent world's surface over the span of countless years. At last, he clung to the space above and looked down upon his craft.

It was so similar to how Galbar might look, were it devoid of greenery and life. Woe and wain; perhaps it was artistic failure on his own part or the memories of his subconscious bleeding through to corrupt his purest ideas of perfection, but this creation was lifeless, uninspired, and flawed.

With all of his fury, the Storm's King conjured a bolt of lightning that dwarfed comprehension, and he impaled that spear of energy through the nascent world. In one great pulse, he brought forth obliteration on a scale never seen before. The planet's core was burst and the crust torn asunder, the result being a great glob of magma surrounded by layer upon layer of flying rock and debris from the ruined crust. Chunks of stone ranging from mere particles of dust to massive objects the size of kingdoms were locked in chaotic, wild orbits around the burning core.

This was an improvement, to be sure, yet Zephyrion had gone too far in the opposite direction; here there was too much chaos. He would seek a middle ground and therein would lie perfection.

He summoned storms of frigid winds to cool that molten core and freeze it into rock, and then with mighty strokes he carved out great continental pieces of stone and set them into orbit too amidst the countless belts and rings of debris above. Unto the rocky, misshapen core of this strange world he poured water, drowning its surface beneath an ocean that covered all but a few lonely spires that had been the peaks of the greatest mountains.

He then added a breathable atmosphere than encompassed all but the uppermost rings of debris, yet through the force of his magic that pervaded this world and through the strange properties of the stone itself, the rings of debris overpowered friction and remained in their crazed flights through the sky as islands amidst a sea of naught but air.

Through long and calculated design, he brought some degree of order to the erratic orbits of all the islands of great size. The mighty, continent-sized slabs would not collide with one another, though there was the incessant risk of a smaller object deviating from its path and eventually colliding. Some chaos disrupted stagnation and brought forth true equilibrium; now he had attained perfection.

For many years, this craft made toy was paradise and palace to the god, but eventually loneliness reigned in his heavy heart and cold fear crept into him once more. His mind was fraught with the prospect of succumbing to madness and despair once more, so he strived to bring life to this empty world.
As though the loneliness of the Wind God had travelled the immeasurable spaces and into the heart of the Bard, the Divine Lutist looked up towards the heavens with a heavy heart and burdened chest. He saw nothing but the window into The Gap, and all the terror and wild curiousity that infused within the onlooker. He sighed a sad little sigh. If you stared at the stars too long, it was said, their blaze blinded the gaze.
'Ye gods,' he murmured to himself, 'what are our sins...that you should taunt us so,' he raised a hand and rubbed his eyelids gently, and his music soon sounded again.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Double Capybara
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Double Capybara Thank you for releasing me

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The First Parade - 2

Featuring: Susa, Lakshmi and Chroma

Fibeslay was very close to a rather large lake, usually, when one traveled to the nearby village of Barbahar, they simply crossed the lake in a boat. However, for the group of wanderers, there was no hain made boat large enough to do the deed.

"I believe that if each one of us took a boat, we would be able to do it, but that would also mean separating our group, which I believe to be a terrible idea."

But at this point, there were no needs for excuses. The scenery of the region was lovely at early dawn, and the fresh air and humid plants made the additional travel length far more revigorating than tiring for Susa and Lakshmi. For Chroma, however, the stillness and silence of the dim lit morning felt unsettling, but she also did not voice a complaint, as adapting to odd ambiances was part of what one would expect of her as a hero.

"W-where are we-e go-going aga-again? Bar-B-Barbahar? I do-o not re-remember that to-town in our iti-itinerary."

"It was not. But the chieftain of Fibeslay convinced me to visit it"

"That is the land of the clan that used to be called Birbhair right? I remember them being okay folk."

"I do not even know if they are a clan anymore. The old chief died and since then the tribe has moved deeper inland. It is a bit tricky to reach them, but there is no need to worry with a team like ours."

They eventually stopped following the shores of the lake and walked the path that most hain travelers picked. The well-defined tracks formed back when the clan lived close to the others still existed, but once they reached site of the former settlement, things became more complicated.

Heavy vegetation and mountains were always troubled for travelers, even the experienced ones, in the path to Barbahar, both were combined into a zone of hills and jungle. The chieftain of Fibeslay knew the path quite well and he had explained it all to Salassar, but even the Quara with his notable memory was apprehensive.

In his worry, he decided to camp on the purlieu of the forest instead of moving on trough it. He didn't need nighttime making things harder.

"Oh is gecko boy scared of a bit of vegetation?"

"Be reasonable Susa. I do not know exactly how long it will take to cross this. Would you like to stay in an unknown jungle at nighttime?"

"Been there, done that. But I guess that for a big girl like Lakshmi or for a little ... girl ... like Chroma, it would be a problem. And that is just counting the people that would survive, unlike a certain flamboyant lizard."

"Heh..." Salassar wasn't so annoyed anymore by Susa's act, especially considering everything he knew would happen.

Later at night, once proper shelter was arranged and a campfire built, Salassar finally decided to properly talk about why the little trip to Barbahar was arranged.

"See... while talking to our friend from Fibeslay, I decided to help him with a project. Well, in truth, I helped to brew the project into being, but nevertheless, it is a little mission for Fibeslay. A way to pay for their hospitality, even." Technically everything was paid with the gifts, but things would work better if everyone felt guilty.

"An-and wh-what is the proje-ject?" Lakshmi didn't like the sound of that, they would be way further into their journey without this odd detour.

"See, The Fiberslayer clan was founded when a hain chiefess expelled a fiberling from her village. In Fibeslay, they have a festival for the event that happens every season-cycle where they reenact the event. The idea here is the same, but on a small scale. I have even brought masks and outfits."

With this, he brought out the two costumes for the play. One was a brown, all-covering dress and a wooden hain-mask. The other were two cyan colored pieces made of linen and a "wig" in the same color.

"I was thinking of Chroma being the hero and Susa the fiberling."

"The hero? Yes! I..."


"Whaaat. What do you mean? No? You mean yes."

"I have been through enough of all this woolgathering."

"A true shame. Since Lakshmi can't act, I guess we will just have to cancel the acting part." Salassar knew the topic was not dying at that.

"No no no. You have to do it." As expected, Chroma was ardent about the chance of playing the role of a hero. "If you do, I will protect you from flying bugs, I promise."

Susa immediately flushed, she retorted.

"Why do you think I am afraid of insects. I am not!"

"Well, I had a dream, you were there, and you were afraid of that kind of thing. Even of a butterfly."

"A butterfly? I don't remember ever... unless..."

"Ah, the ba-battle. The fa-faeries are-re li-like bu-butterfli-flies and-d I d-do remem-member we ha-having to d-dod-dge some of the mis-misali-ligned ones"

"But why would Chroma dream of the battle you and Susa participated?"

"O-oh... I j-just assumed-d t-that i-it w-would b-be po-possible. I do-o not k-know..."

"Not impossible. But to just see a memory of someone like this, it needs a lot of training, even then, a lot of coincidence would need to happen, especially because..."

"Enough. I do not want to hear another long rant about dreamland. I will join the thing, just don't pester me anymore" Susa was no longer reddened, instead, she looked serious, and her tone was different from the one used in typical badinage.

Well, Salassar got what he wanted, that was for sure, but somehow he didn't feel satisfied. He felt like he was missing something, not merely the piece of a puzzle, but the puzzle itself alluded him.


current status of the journey

A long time ago, the hain lived in fear of a vile monster.
The cyan colored beast was unlike any other fiber devil.
It didn't simply eat the Hain, it enslaved them.
As a fake god, the fiberling demanded food from them, even when so many starved.
It tormented the children, often tangling around their legs and drowning them.
For simple fun, it would hide the eggs of the Hain for a few months.
Not all were afraid of the wicked beast, however.

With the cue, Chroma, completely hidden under her outfit and mask, jumped into the stage and faced Susa.

"I demand that you stop with these vile actions!" she proclaimed.

Susa rolled her eyes, as expected, she messed up. She was supposed to just say what she would do, instead, she ended up creating a conversation. What sound does a fiberling even make? Rawr? Should she just wave her fingers menacingly?

"I protected this village before you were even born. Stop being foolish, you spear is misguided." She could see Sally narrowing his lizard like eyes, but what she did was diplomacy 101. This tribe had a very lazy clan leader, and after he refused to help, they simply got rid of him and formed a little council to do his job. They disliked authority, that much was clear.

"You can not fool me! I have seen your tyrannical acts. You are a repugnant, vile beast!"

That could be a bit too much, Chroma was far too angry, but she would be justified if she happened to be abruptly attacked. With a sudden step forward the cyan monster "clawed" at the hero. Susa miscalculated her action a bit, however, and ended up actually hitting the heroine into the ground.

She expected a kick or whatever Chroma was capable of doing in retaliation, but actually, the heroine seemed to have other plans.

"You can take me down, but against all of us, you are powerless." Said Chroma, making a signal for the Hain of the audience to stand up. And they did each one stomping on the ground along with the heroine, as if trying to intimidate the villain.

Susa found that funny, in the end, the possibly Jvanic entity was truly into this heroism thing, even if apparently more for the attention than anything else.

Finally, the play ended with a quick fake fight, and the fiberling being slain. The hain cheered at the sight, Salassar didn't share that feeling.

"Sorry for those changes. They happened before I could notice.

"It is my fault for not training you two properly. But I guess the overall message is clear. They might think fiberlings talk, but that is no major problem."

"Did I do good?"

"Sure, did you get hurt when Susa attacked you?" He expected the contrary to happen.

"Oh, it was nothing. It also inspired me to call for everyone's help. Did you like that?"

"I guess it was an interesting interaction."

"What was the reasoning behind this idea, though?"

"It was just the chieftain thinking about how to export his festivals. Plus we both agreed it would be funny."

"I would advise that you stop with these funny things, Sally. Or at least don't invite me to it again."

"Fine, don't be so caustic. Didn't you like to see that Chroma is truly into heroism? You were the one losing sleep over fear of her being something else, no?"

"She is something else. And so far she has been good..." she couldn't mention why the butterfly dream was so odd, however "But enough of this thing. The council promised us a feast right?"

Now that the play was over they finally had the chance to properly rest at Barbahar. The village was hidden deep in the hills of the region, and unlike the usually fresh coast, here the climate was hot and damp. Along with the typical woodnote, one could also always hear the sound of a water stream, in fact, the village stood between two of those, which would snake around the hills until joining in an actual river near the coast.

It was a very calm place, with far more food than it population could ever consume and hidden from the typical troubles that coastal Mesothalassa had to deal with.

Salassar also noticed the nearby caves, the true reason why he decided to investigate this tribe. Villagers often visited the local grottos to fish or to collect stones. And, of course, they eventually started to draw on the walls.

It was both a culturally interesting place and an important deposit of art resources. It was not yet time to decide what to do with the gems and metals of the hills, but surely it would be an important place for future Grand Parade members.

As night fell, Salassar sneaked out of his hut and walked across the jungle. Across his path, he carved some words in trees and boulders alike, but when he reached a certain grotto, he started to draw far more complex patterns.

"What is this witchery you are doing, Sal?" Chroma finally decided to ask, after minutes of sneaking after him.

"Ack. It... It is nothing. Just a little memento.

"Can I draw on the walls too?"~

"On some other one, in another place. Sorry Chroma, but I need to concentrate"

The heroine sighed and kicked a nearby pebble. Usually, Salassar was the cool guy, but now even him was getting odd.

But she did follow his instruction, moving away before starting to doodle on the rocky side of a ridge. Pretty little furry thralls, a few cool machines, Professor Peculiarity is his cosmonaut outfit, the animals from her homeland...

She wondered, about how much of a heroine she would need to be before she was allowed to return to Iridia. The Clashing World was exciting, with all sorts of wicked alien creatures, but she was starting to miss her home, her family.

Suddenly the sound of someone moving across the jungle caught her attention, and again she started to sneak around to investigate it. Apparently, Susa decided to go for a nightly stroll too.

But unlike Salassar, the huntress actually started to climb trees and jump over rocks. It was an actual effort to keep up with her, especially silently. Finally, they were at the top of a very tall outcrop that stood atop of one of the hills.

"Whoa, you can see Fibeslay from here"

"Oh, it's you. Following me, huh?"

"Sorry. I just got curious...

"About where I was going?

"Nah, about why you are still wearing the cyan loincloth from the play"

"Eh, I just didn't want to dress the other outfit again."

"Speaking of which, why did you look so distant when you saw it?"

"It is none of your concern. I mean, you are not telling me everything you know either, are you?"

"Uh..." she stared at the huntress for a short while, before taking a heavy breath. "I come from another world."

Susa raised her eyebrow. "Wait are you serious?"

Chroma nodded. "Yes, one day a mysterious woman showed up and brought me to this place. I was afraid of saying it, because I thought you all would be scared"

"Oh, rest assured that if people were scared of you, it was not because of the backstory. But really..." Susa was puzzled by this reveal, especially because of one detail.

"In human legends, we were also taken to this land by a mysterious woman. When I asked around Alefpriel, they said that indeed we were not from this planet."

"I knew it, I knew I was not the only one. This Clashing World, we are brought here for a reason. I bet all the people here were kidnapped from their own world."

Susa closed her eyes, pondering about the topic for a while. "That could very well be the case... This... This is odd. I mean, damn."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Vec
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Vec Liquid Intelligence

Member Seen 21 days ago

The Primordial Sun, The Star Forger
Level 4 God; Cosmos(Stars)

40 Might & 5 Free Points


The Twilight Queen
Level 1 Hero; Werewolf Primus

15 Khookies

"...and thus was how the Universe came into being." Ull'Yang casually watched and played with his tail as he spoke to Luna who was biting into a chunk of deer meat. "After that, I wondered the Universe, disconnected from my siblings. You see we gods, although similar in power, are entirely different in nature. There are those who enjoy mingling with mortals, influencing them and then taking a step back, becoming spectators of their own mischief. There are others who revel in seeking knowledge, searching for a meaning to all this, the Universe. Those ones seldom meddle with mortal affairs and instead seclude themselves inside their own demi-planes, researching Fate knows what." Ull'Yang sighed, puffs of bluish smoke escaping his nostrils.

"Of course, there are those that believe themselves to be rulers, creating whole races to lord over from above the clouds. They indulge themselves in the knowledge that mortals worship and bow down to them in respect and awe, but they are naive!" Ull'Yang coiled his body around Luna and brought his head closer to her. "The mysteries of the Universe are right in front of their eyes and reaching out to them is not what they do!"

Ull'Yang looked at Luna. Luna looked at Ull'Yang. A moment of silence passed as one analyzed the other's reactions. Suddenly, Luna brought a piece of meat to her mouth and bit on it, tearing through both flesh and bone. She chewed on it for a while before swallowing it down and proceeded to lick her fingers one by one, all the while keeping her eyes on Ull'Yang.

Ull'Yang's lips curved upward in a smirk. He let out a few chuckles that soon developed into full-blown laughter that made the very ground they lay upon tremble. Luna tilted her face. She didn't know why her Master was laughing or the reason for this sudden burst of happiness, but she knew one thing. If Master was happy, she was happy, so she didn't complain.

What she did do, however, was wait for her master to calm down before asking him a question. "Master?" Luna said. "What is it, little wolf?"

"You created the four continents of Cygnea, right?" Luna asked. Ull'Yang looked at her with a quizzical look. "Aye, that I did. Where are you getting at?"

"Well, when you told me that we were going to explore the continents, I hoped that we would come across beings that we could interact with, beings like you and me," Luna nervously said. "We spent so many years roaming the lands and yet, apart from plants and animals, I have not seen anything even remotely resembling us."

Ull'Yang raised his head and looked at Luna. "Hmm, what made you think about this?" he asked his companion. "Oh, It's just that I find it a little sad, that's all," Luna replied. "Sad? How so? What is there to be sad about? This realm of mine is filled with nature's best gifts; life's divine refuge. I'd even dare say that my sister Slough would absolutely find this place to her liking!" Ull'Yang said proudly.

"That's why I am saying it's sad. Sure, there are animals that inhabit this plane. They are born, raised, hunt, mate, give birth and then die. They don't care to stop for a moment and appreciate nature's beauty!" Luna remarked somewhat dolefully. "In my opinion, the one thing this plane needs is creatures that are capable of doing just that!"

Ull'Yang looked at Luna as she spoke and stroked his chin, pondering on her words. When she finished, he raised his body and took off the ground. Luna saw him flying in circles overhead before he descended once more, landing tail first a couple dozen meters away from Luna's position. He coiled around himself before raising his chest and head and looking down at her. "You speak of intelligent creatures..." were his first words.

"Do you ask that I become the same naive god I so obviously loathe? That I so vehemently criticized my siblings for?" Ull'Yang asked with a tinge of anger in his voice. Just as Luna was about to raise her voice to defend herself, Ull'Yang cut her off.

"When I woke up, after finalizing the foundation for Cygnea's creation with the planting of the Life Seed, I'd said to myself that I would create a species of my own to populate this plane with, that I won't deny. However, I stumbled upon you. You see, not even I control Fate's will. All these years of sightseeing have certainly pushed the schedule back since I alone can instantly know everything about my plane. From the smallest rock to the tallest mountain and deepest cave. From the shallowest pond to the deepest chasm in all of Cyngea's oceans, I knew everything about them the moment I awoke. You, however, didn't and thus, I had to make sure you did."

Ull'Yang raised his arms, "and here we are now. You asked the question I so desired to hear. This means you have seen everything there is to see in this plane. Ull'Yang smiled a toothy smile.

"Thus, you are now eligible to help me in creating my very own race. Come," Ull'Yang extended his hand towards her. Luna happily stood up, wiped off the meat residue from her mouth with her forearm and jumped on his hand. Unfortunately, she instantly regretted doing so. Even as she jumped she noticed a glint on Ull'Yang's eyes. "Oh no..." she murmured. "Oh yes," he responded. Luna felt the now dreaded divine essence bind her down and in an instant, they were flying through the air at unimaginable speeds.

On the peak of an unassuming little mountain in the inner parts of the eastern continent, two beings could be found. One was doubled over, vomiting out the contents of its stomach, whilst the other watched and laughed.

"Ugh," Luna wiped her mouth with her right arm while holding and rubbing her stomach with her left hand. She straightened herself and glared at the laughing Ull'Yang. "This. Is. The. Last. Time. Are we clear?" Luna literally growled and even bore her teeth at him.

Ull'Yang raised his arms and backed off, "Okay, okay. This'll be the last time, I promise."

"Promise to Amul'Sharar and Fate, and then we-" An oppressive aura burst outwards from Ull'Yang and completely enveloped Luna. Her face instantly cycled through a myriad of colors of pale and every hair on her body stood up as a chill penetrated her body, reaching her very soul. At the same time, Ull'Yang spoke with a sonorous voice.

"DO NOT misinterpret my lenience as meekness, wolf. There are some things that even gods amongst themselves rarely utter, much less you!" And with that, he immediately retracted his aura and the previous warm look re-appeared on his face as if nothing had happened.

Luna knew she had messed up so of course, she didn't relax at all after she was released by his aura. She shifted her body nervously, her ears pointing downwards in regret. For a moment, an awkward sort of silence permeated the atmosphere, but Luna knew he was waiting for her to speak first. She struggled trying to find suitable words but in the end, she gave up and with a loud thud her knees fell to the floor. "I'm sorry. Don't hate me..." Two simple sentences were all that escaped her quivering lips.

You see, all the years of traveling around Cygnea with Ull'Yang, seeing all sorts of marvelous and spectacular things she would have never even dreamt of witnessing in her life prior to meeting him, had been the best years of her life. Slowly she grew accustomed to Ull'Yang's antics until the day came that she unconsciously decided she would devote her life to him. That was something different from her oath because it came from deep within her heart. As a result, whenever the thought that Ull'Yang might hate her passed through her mind, she grew restless.

Her regret in her eyes, her feelings, and the pain that resounded with each word she spoke did not escape his sight and hearing. The two big burning globes that were Ull'Yang's eyes locked in on her kneeling form. Suddenly, Ull'Yang's body started to rapidly shrink in size while at the same time, morphing into a more humanoid form. Luna raised her head in response to his abrupt movements, but her sight was blocked by a thick, blue colored fog that surrounded him.

A few seconds passed in waiting, before an unexpected flash of light erupted from within the fog that temporarily blinded Luna. She immediately closed her eyes and lowered her head, trying to shield herself from the blinding rays. Fortunately, they dissipated with the same unforeseen swiftness they came. "Uhh," Luna grunted and rubbed her eyes.

Then she felt a slight weight on her head. She opened her eyes in surprise and looked upwards; a pale hand rested on top her head, Its fingers fiddling with her hair. This slender hand emitted a warm and comforting aura that enshrouded Its ability to crush planets to smithereens with one slap. Bright blue lines - divine essence pulsating energetically within - extended from the fingertips to the base of the hand where they joined into one and trailed up his forearm and arm before splitting once again into countless pathways that twisted and turned, but eventually lead to his crowned head.

"You poor soul, how would I ever hate you?" Ull'Yang spoke. "Your ignorance is known and expected. It is for you to ask questions if you do not know the answers, whatever those questions might be. But remember, once you obtain the knowledge you seek, you lose all excuses and your ignorance can no longer protect you." Ull'Yang opened his arms and as if on cue, a crying Luna fell into his embrace.

They remained as is until Luna finally calmed down. The sun was illuminating a whole different part of Cygnea, and countless stars had now taken their place over the eastern continent, filling the skies with their glowing hues. Luna looked up into the night sky and a sudden thought entered her mind. "Master?"

"Yes, little wolf?"
"I was wondering when you were going to start creating that race you talked about..." Luna said bluntly with a smile on her face. "Hah. Hahahahahahaha!" Ull'Yang let out a hearty laugh when he heard her question. "The skin on your face is thick alright," he stated before laughing once more.

"Yes, yes. I shall create a race for this plane of mine..." Ull'Yang pushed Luna out of his embrace and stood up. "However! They shall not be mine. They will be their own race, their own selves! Unlike those brothers and sisters of mine that create slave races to rule over, these will be my... children."

Ull'Yang walked a few steps forward and extended his hand. Suddenly, a small, unassuming lizard appeared on his palm. He showed the lizard to Luna; "I expected something a little more... more... more!" Luna said and extended her arms as much as she could, trying to make him picture what she was imagining.

"Silly wolf, this is not my creation. No. This is nature's creation. I will be merely using this little fellow here as the base, the guideline to creating and perfecting the Cygnean race. Now, observe."

With the lizard in one hand, Ull'Yang raised his other and the ground in front of him raised with it. He carefully laid down the lizard, who had by now fallen into deep sleep, and hovered his hand over it. Ull'Yang concentrated his power and two thick strings of divine essence sprouted from his palms and shot at the unsuspecting lizard, only stopping right before making contact with its body.

The stellar god very delicately manipulated the strings, weaving them into the shape of an egg that encompassed the lizard's body. After the egg was completed, he palmed it and injected his essence inside of it, filling it up with enough material so that the subsequent transformation would be perfect. With his other hand, he carved multicolored runes on the egg shell; the blueprint of the race exactly as he had it in mind.

When he placed the last rune, a bright energy erupted from within the egg. The runes, in turn, absorbed the energy and shone brightly as well, showing off a myriad of colors. After throwing one last look at his creation, the egg flew from Ull'Yang's palm and headed towards Luna who hurriedly caught and held it with great care.

"And this is just the beginning..." Ull'Yang then waved his arm and nineteen more lizards appeared on the raised stone slab, all unconscious. He then followed the same procedure as the first time but even faster than before. He created the eggs for all the lizards simultaneously and then carved the runes separately.

"Why are you doing the carvings separately?" Luna asked him as she came closer to the raised slab to take a look. "Ah, the genders must be even! Even! That first one was a male..." he said without looking back at her. After he was finished, nineteen brightly shining eggs were sitting on the stone slab. Ull'Yang waved his hand and all of the eggs, even that in the hands of Luna, flew over to him, hovering in front of the god in a spiral with the first egg in the middle and the rest trailing it.

"Now, for one last thing." Ull'Yang closed his eyes and penetrated the eggs with his divine will, implanting inside the minds of the each and every lizard the knowledge that there's always someone they can come to ask for advice. This would be revealed to them some time after they hatched. He added, however, the rule that they should come only when everything else has failed. He also implanted the thought that the first brethren of opposite gender they laid their eyes upon, except himself, would become their mate and also wiped their previous memories, leaving behind only their personalities.

"Done," he said and opened his eyes. He looked at the twenty eggs and sighed. "May the eyes of Fate watch you," he prayed inwardly and waved his hand one last time, prompting the eggs to all scatter into different directions.

Luna walked next to him and watched as the eggs flew off to the horizon. "So few in number... do you think they will survive long enough to give birth to the second generation?" She asked. Ull'Yang looked over at her with a warm look on his face. "We shall see, little wolf, we shall wait and see..."
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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

Travels of the Craftmaidens

Cordially collaborated by BBeast, Hygswitch, and Muttonhawk
Oppressively draconian editing by Muttonhawk

Teknall, Conata and Kinesis were floating high in the sky beside the Celestial Citadel. "Come now, we have a world to see," Teknall announced.

Without further warning, the world wrenched them all downwards. Conata's skin flicked completely into rough and grey lithium. The trio descended, flying away from the Celestial Citadel and down into the troposphere. Conata held on tightly to her father and her sister, taking a few moments to stabilise herself enough and return to a cautious copper. All that was floundering around from then on was her and Kinesis' dresses.

Kinesis smiled and softly held Conata's hand, flying quite well in comparison.

As they flew across the sky, faster than the most furious wind, Teknall pointed out various landforms, and some of the history behind them.

"There is the Fractal Sea," Teknall explained. "See its elegant and detailed pattern, from which it gets its name. It was one of the very first features to be created on Galbar. It was made by Jvan."

Conata was mesmerised into polished bronze by the rippling pattern of the water beneath her. The great, blue, sparkling surface reached the horizon as if it went on forever.

Kinesis looked down at the open sea with her mouth half opened. "The air smells great above the water."

"You can see Jvan from here." Teknall nodded to a jutting peninsula with a large, lonely bluff. Conata's eyes were drawn to it as well. "That grey mountain down there is her. She's..." Teknall hesitated for a moment as he sought the right words. "...an engineer of sorts, but of creatures of flesh rather than inanimate things. Her tastes are peculiar, but she is enthusiastic about her work."

Peculiar was an apt word for what Teknall described. However, Conata reasoned Jvan's purpose quickly. Who else made things out of flesh than an engineer of flesh? Conata didn't think that Teknall did anything like that. "Jvan must be very busy," Conata remarked. She waved innocently at the mountain as if it was watching them. It felt like it was watching them.

Kinesis, on the other hand, was very unsettled by Teknall’s description. She did not look anywhere else but at Jvan as long as they were close enough to see her grey bulk. Kinesis knew what it meant to be an engineer, and applying these principles to living beings was unnerving to say the very least. "Enthusiastic..." she said in an unenthusiastic tone as they left the fractal sea behind.

Teknall continued as they sped to the other side of the waters. They became somehow more vibrant as they flew. "Adjoining it is the Sparkling Sea, a creation of Zephyrion, the God of Change and Storms. He and I both share ownership of the Celestial Citadel. That is, where we have just come from; I built it, and he made it fly. He is a particularly haughty individual, but as long as you avoid sparking his temper he is quite amicable."

Conata made a note of Zephyrion. The number of members in her godly family were more than she had thought. Her sister just nodded, still in thought about what a god of fleshly engineering signified. Kinesis silently observed the far less sinister stretch of water, which quickly eroded her thoughtful mood just as Zephyrion’s minions eroded the mountains.

The flight took the three to the shores of another sea, this one made from sand. "Wedged between these two seas you can see a desert. This is the Firewind Desert, which was also made by Zephyrion. It is largely uninhab-" Teknall was cut off as he spotted something. It was much too far for the demigods to see clearly, but well within Teknall's divine perception.

"What are those down there?" Conata asked with a finger outstretched to the buildings on the Mahd. Kinesis shaded her eyes and gazed where her sister was pointing, smiling excitedly. "It looks like houses. There are some sentient people there; builders. Right father?"

Teknall answered pointedly, "There seems to be the starting of a small civilisation along the river." It was a human settlement being built along the river. Teknall felt Zephyrion's presence strongly there. As well, at the delta of this river existed a mangrove. Many gods had visited that place. Most of all, he felt the essence of Slough and Jvan. It was a place clouded in mystery and eternal gloom. He would need to check out both places in time.

The same river was the one they followed in their flight, cutting over its meandering path into greener and rockier lands. Teknall explained as they flew, "Upstream there is a jungle. That jungle is the Venomweald, and it is a place full of nasty and vicious creatures and plants. If you do ever go there, take great caution."

As a response, Conata narrowed her red eyes at the horizon. She could not quite see whatever the 'jungle' was, whatever she was supposed to be seeing. Teknall's warning only made her more curious as to what creations made it so dangerous and why they were there.

Kinesis was intrigued by the thought of a place like this weald. She decided to visit it sometime and carefully committed the location to her memory.

They didn't reach the Venomweald in the end, instead slowly banking to the left in view of the great trees that covered it. "Living near the Venomweald is a race called the ogres. They are a brutish and resilient creation of Zephyrion, although they can be counted amongst the intelligent races of Galbar. They are relatively new, and currently, they are rather localised, which is probably for the best."

Kinesis nodded slowly, so there was more than one sort of sentient people on Galbar, what a wonderful thought. What a diverse planet to discover.

Conata wondered whether it was ogres that built the structures further down river. Daddy had been surprised at them being there. Perhaps the ogres weren't so static after all?

"Look westwards, to that great expanse of shattered ground. Those are the Changing Plains. They were made by Vestec, back when Galbar was very young." The distaste in Teknall's expression became visible, and bitterness flowed as he spoke about his enemy. Conata seemed more curious about this demeanour than the expanse of rubble beside them. Teknall gave her more to be curious about in his following words. "Vestec wants nothing but chaos, violence and corruption. He is a bully, a vandal, a scoundrel, and a liar. If you ever have the misfortune of meeting him, do not trust him for a moment."

Perturbed by this, Conata slowly turned her head back to the changing plains. She could sum up all her challenged preconceptions in one question with regards to Vestec; "Why is he like that?"

Kinesis looked similarly worried, frowning as she thought about this. So, there was a destructive and malevolent god. It stood to reason, that for there to be good there had to be another, something else. In a sad voice, she said, "To balance the world; For there to be good and construction there must be a counterweight; there must be destruction and evil."

Teknall nodded solemnly in agreement with Kinesis. "Indeed. Conflict is a driving force for change and innovation. That doesn't make him any nicer."

Conata was perturbed into silence by this revelation. It made her bronze fade into a copper again and her silence stayed for a while.

The flight banked right again. From up above the clouds, a trail of giant muddy footprints could just be made out, leading away from the Changing Planes and through the Great Steppes. "See those footprints? Vestec created a giant monster and an army, which he sent out to destroy everything in its path. Fortunately, it is gone now, but I fear for the next time he tries to pull such a stunt."

Kinesis looked at the trail in disbelief, this had been made by a true leviathan on land. "It must have been the size of a mountain."

Conata, too, had a hard time fathoming the size of such a creature based on what she could see. Each footprint was like a miniature lake into itself. This Vestec must be very powerful to make such a beast.

Teknall then led them westwards, away from Vestec's land. As they left, his countenance lightened and he sounded calm once more. "Up ahead is the Deepwood, a place of great biodiversity and ecology. Unlike the Venomweald, it is quite hospitable."

Also unlike the Venomweald, this forest was brought into vivid view for the divine family. Conata squinted again over this new sea of green, trying to see under the lumpy canopy. She wanted to see what was inside.

Kinesis smiled and her hair seemed to reflect the sun's warm light with greater intensity, making it seem much redder than before as it trailed behind her. Her eyes sparkled with warmth as they drank in this sight. This was the most beautiful place she had seen on Galbar yet.

"It was made by Slough, back in Galbar's earliest days," Teknall said. Slough is the Life Deer. Despite her traumatic birth, she is the cornerstone of life throughout the whole Universe. Most of the plants and animals and other living things you see are either made by Slough or made from something Slough had created. Despite her great power, her intellect is equal with the wild animals, so she is not much of one for conversation."

Kinesis smiled at the thought of a less sentient god. But why not? Sentience was not a vital function or anything with inherent worth for the tasks of a goddess of life. Maybe it would even hinder such a being. Intellect was discerning; something striving for an external view on things. To look at them. Maybe life needed to be part of this tapestry of existence? Instinctually immersed in it, even?

Conata's thoughts had a simpler depth. A deer? The thought that one of the gods would only act like an animal caused a faint ripple of amused bismuth over her skin. Teknall and Kinny seemed really smart. Maybe Slough was just shy. Still, Conata's curiosity about the forest was foremost. "Can we see inside?" she asked.

"Yes father, let us see it closer." Kinesis chimed in as well.

"Sure," Teknall replied. They dove down until they flew beneath the canopy. Kinesis broke loose from their descent and circled one of the true giants of the Deepwood; An aeons-old ash tree, towering further above the canopy than the lesser trees below might ever go. She smiled at the colossus, committing him to her memory; she would visit here again.

Finally, Kinesis dove underneath the canopy. The boundless cathedral of green spanning into all dimensions around her made Kinesis open her mouth in awe. She marvelled at the thick gallery of life all around her as she sped up to catch up with her family.

They passed by unfathomable trunks and green foliage of many of the Deeptrees. All around them was the incredibly diverse and fantastical fauna of the Deepwood- giant winged insects, aphid colonies, slugs, oozes, spiders, bat-like gargoyles, towering sloths, glowing striders, and colourful silky winged creatures. Conata reached a hand out to let the leaves run through her fingers. They scratched as much as they caressed, but her metal skin did not bleed from the twigs. She would have brushed her hands over every detail of the forest if she could.

After they had passed through the Deepwood, seeing its sights, the trio ascended once more to cruising altitudes.

From these great heights, a small herd of gigantic long-necked quadrupeds could be seen walking across the golden plains to the south. "Those are brush beasts, one of Slough's creations. They are by far the largest species of animal on Galbar. Fortunately, despite their great size, they are quite docile."

Conata grinned. Even though they were positively colossal, she found the brush beasts' movements entertaining in a clumsy sort of way. They also had such big eyes. "They're cute," Conata giggled.

Kinesis looked down at the gargantuan beasts, intrigued by them. "Do you think they would be willing to bear a small load on their back, father? If I were to build a house upon their shoulders, maybe I could travel the world with them."

"They should be able to do that," Teknall replied.

Kinesis sighed. The time would come to travel the world, she was sure of that.

Teknall guided his daughters lower, into the Gilt Savannah, until they were floating above a village. Close enough that they could make out details, but far enough that they would not be clearly seen. Below they could see white-shelled, beak-faced humanoids scurrying about with their daily activities. "These are Hain. They are the most widespread of the intelligent races on Galbar. Except for perhaps elementals. They are a good people. I have spent many years walking among them, teaching them the ways of crafting."

The little hain were strange to Conata. She did not expect creatures with shiny shells covering their bodies. Conata was so fascinated that she sought to clarify why they were so strange. "Were these made by Slough as well?"

"No, they were made by Toun, the God of Perfection. He has...left them to do things themselves."

Kinesis nodded and took note of how her father paused in his speech. Did he disapprove of Toun? Letting his creation wander the earth and learn for themselves surely was a good thing, wasn't it? She sized up the small shelled people; they looked well designed enough, and social, too. From what she could tell, at least.

Conata knit her brow at the thought of what a god of 'perfection' was meant to do. These hain might have been more than they looked like as a result. Maybe they still were.

They ascended once more and flew onwards. Soon, Teknall pointed towards a small patch of land that was obscured by shadows. "Those are the Darkened Spires. They were made by Julkofyr long ago. Although, as far as I can tell, nothing of note has even happened there. In fact, I haven't heard from Julkofyr since we found Galbar..."

Conata gulped. The spires were certainly not where the light touches and were beyond any borders. They were so eerie, even if daddy said that they were nothing special.

Kinesis looked worried after what she heard. Could gods just vanish? Maybe even die? The thought made her innards churn. As the cold dread passed through her, her hair seemed less fiery, the darker areas with their blueish shine more pronounced. She seemed shadowy herself for a moment.

Further westwards they flew until they entered the night side of the planet. Teknall took pause for some star-gazing, slowly turning around with the girls. "See the moons above us. They were all created by Vulamera, the Goddess of Knowledge, as gifts to the various gods." Teknall paused again, his brow furrowing. He hadn't heard anything from Vulamera since the birth of Lifprasil. Perhaps she was secluded on her moon, deep in study. He doubted her absence was so benign.

"They're so far away..." Conata thought out loud. They also had to be big if they were that easy to see from this distance.

Kinesis, too, looked up at the great forms hovering around Galbar, folding her arms behind her head as she flew on her back, gazing at these diverse orbital bodies.

Teknall pointed to the moons as he named them. "If you look very hard, you can see a black circle which blots out the stars. That is Cogitare, Vulamera's own moon. The two white orbs which look like eyes are Vigilate and Scitis, which she also claimed for herself. Over there is Auricolor, which she gifted to me. It is richly laden with minerals and precious stones. The oddly shaped moon is Periditus and was gifted to Kyre, the God of War. Kyre is a good man; he seeks to protect the world against those who might otherwise ravage it, and for that, he has my respect. Finally, there is Mirus, a moon of fractal, geometric form gifted to Jvan."

Kyre. That was another one for Conata to note. He must be nice if he wants to protect such a big and beautiful world as this one. Still, the one who made these moons, Vulamera, she must have been greatly powerful as well. Though, she sounded nicer than Vestec. Which one was Vestec's moon, anyway?

As if reading her mind, Teknall's next words answered Conata before she had the opportunity to ask. "And then there is the ring. It might look pretty, but it is a constant reminder of Vestec's destructive nature. That ring was made when he smashed two moons together and tried to drop one on Galbar. Fortunately, the moon was stopped, spirited away to the Gap by Vowzra. This ring is all that remains of the other moon, Lex. Lex was given to Logos, the God of Order and Physics. He's...oppressive. He did contribute most of the Laws of Physics which govern the Universe, yet he is inflexible in his concept of Order. So much so that he has removed himself to some distant corner of the Universe and hasn't been heard from since, such was his desire for isolation."

So many other gods. "Who is Vowzra?" Conata asked as her copper showed flecks of green in the start of a frustrated patina.

"Vowzra is the God of Time," Teknall answered plainly.

There was a firm nod from Conata. She was trying her best to remember all these names.

"A word of warning. Don't try and fly to these moons without the proper preparation, since beyond this thin atmosphere or air is the unforgiving vacuum of space. Neither of you can breathe space, so I recommend you don't try unless you bring an atmosphere with you."

Kinesis had split her right arm in two again when her father had explained this, raising one of the arms as if to grab these moons. Her hair was gleaming black and red in equal parts again, and her eyes seemed to shine with a slight green glow. "There are so many gods around, I hope there is still space in this world for us, father." She said as she lowered her arm and turning to Teknall. "We will make sure not to try to visit these moons alone, don't worry," she said softly.

Conata was disappointed to hear that the sky was not a safe place all the way up, but she felt as though even putting air everywhere was beyond the capabilities of a god. It had to be, right?

They moved on and continued westwards, until they encountered another ocean with jagged edges, like a massive impact crater. "This is the White Ocean, named so for both the cliffs of chalk and the one who made it; Toun. In the centre, that gleaming spot of white porcelain, is Cornerstone, Toun's own place. Toun is a perfectionist, yet his standard of perfection is unattainable, even by himself. Despite this, he tries to do good."

"Maybe Toun should be less self-critical? What I have seen of his work looks very perfect to me." She pondered aloud. This travel made her more thoughtful as it went on and as she learned more of this world.

Conata wondered why a god would want to live in the middle of the ocean and why he was so worried about being perfect. Maybe he was just shy as well, like Slough. His home was pretty, at least. Same with his ocean. All the oceans Conata had seen were pretty, come to think of it.

Eventually, they crossed the white ocean and a great mountain range came into view. With pride, Teknall said, "And those are the Ironheart Ranges, my own creation from the early days of Galbar. Like Auricolor, they are rich in minerals and precious stones."

Kinesis smiled upon seeing the global mountain range. Peaks as high as the atmosphere, other lesser summits with glaciers and snow. Deep cut valleys filled with green, with forests, with lakes. It was a wonderful place. Her eyes lit up warmly again, her hair seeming more reddish, flowing around her head like fibrous fire.

Conata's ears pricked at the mention of minerals that she might access. "Is there metal in the mountains?" she asked almost immediately. "There was not much in the citadel."

"There is plenty of metal in the mountains," Teknall chuckled, "You will get your chance to use those metals soon."

The grey, snowy range of mountains was rough -- not the most glamorous feature of the world. However, their scale was breathtaking. Just thinking about all that metal to play with made Conata take on a giddy warm bronze.

A particularly tall mountain was visible over the horizon to the south. "That is Mount Bormahven. Aside from its spectacular height, there is not too much special about it. It formed naturally as far as can be told, although perhaps that in itself makes it special. It was there I made a quarterstaff for Yang'Ze, the avatar of Ull'Yang, the God of Stars and the Cosmos. Ull'Yang himself is a star, living far, far away, but someday you may meet Yang'Ze, who walks Galbar. Ull'Yang is an honourable god, true to his word. He gave me the star which powers the workshop where you were made, too."

Conata's mood went back to copper. "Why are there so many gods?!" she asked, overwhelmed.

Teknall shrugged. "I suppose that is just how it was Fated. All of us have different things we are good at, and thus by our combined efforts we can do everything that needs to be done."

Kinesis smiled at her sister. "I think it is good that many gods are around. It makes us...them...more social beings. Beings that live in the knowledge that there they have kin - others like them around. I think a single god existing alone would be worse. Always lonely. Eternally without an equal, he would be bound to get mad. What a horrible world such a lonesome god would create."

Also to the south, jutting up from a mesa before the Ironhearts, was the handle-end of a gigantic stone sword. "That would be the Hilt. Kyre made that."

The Hilt, at least, was a pretty sculpture. Conata wondered what purpose it served. Maybe it was Kyre's home, like Cornerstone or the Sky Citadel.

Kinesis looked at the hilt with great interest. She was not as great a builder as her father for sure, but she had a tender heart for architecture as one of the basic forms of engineering. "A god of war creating such a fine building. He really seems to be a protective and creative force in this world."

They flew north to the top end of the Ironheart Ranges, and a region of faint mist surrounded by mountains approached over the horizon. "That is the Valley of Peace, bordered by the Nice Mountains. It is a sanctuary created by Niciel, the Goddess of Purity and Holiness. She is a kind and caring goddess, if not a bit overzealous at times. The Valley is perpetually under an aura which inhibits violence and aggression."

"Is she like Ilunabar?" Conata asked. The only details about Ilunabar she knew of were second hand from Kinesis, but she sounded similar to Niciel.

Teknall thought for a moment. "I suppose she is. To some extent, anyway."

Kinesis thought back to Ilunabar, who had helped to make her, and who had welcomed her to Galbar. The goddess seemed lofty and distant all the time, but her Muse Meimu had been very nice. If Niciel was like this, she would love to meet this other goddess.

Teknall was about to descend, but a distant mountain in the north pole caught his eye. To be visible from this far away, it must have been as preposterously tall as Mount Bormahven, yet he knew nothing about it. "If you would excuse me for a moment, I need to check something out," Teknall said to his daughters.

In the blink of an eye, he was gone, the air parting aside and sealing behind him as he flew at impossible speeds. In just a moment, he was drifting over the Solitary Mount. It was covered in cloud, with a portal was at its peak. Far below, in the forested snow-lands, existed a great tree. Teknall could sense that both these objects were Vowzra's. Alongside the great tree was what appeared to be a giant cracked egg of wood, and there he could feel the strong essence of both Slough and Belruarc. It was a strange place, this. And new. This was clearly what Vowzra had been busy doing while hiding in mysterious seclusion- populating the north pole with his trees and mysteries.

Teknall only lingered for a couple of seconds before returning to his daughters. They didn't even have time to wonder whether they would be left to float for eternity or not. "Beyond the Valley of Peace, at the northernmost reaches of Galbar, is a great expanse of ice covered in trees," he reported. "While most of the trees on Galbar are of my own creation, adapted from the designs of Slough and proliferated about the world, those trees there aren't. Vowzra made those trees. He also made a massive yet mysterious mountain, although I know very little about it. Vowzra is also rather mysterious. He's the God of Time, as I mentioned, and he works for Fate, or at least claims to. Usually, you don't hear much from him until there is some big event and he swoops in, claims authority and enacts his own plans. Not too different from Logos in that regard, actually."

Another one to avoid, if Conata thought correctly. Although, that didn't seem hard with how shy Vowzra sounded. It was almost as if every third god in their family was shy. Working for Fate sounded weird, though. Conata thought that Fate was just what happened to people because of coincidence, not something that talks and gives orders like some kind of boss.

Kinesis sighed, thinking that true authority way not supposed to be claimed but only freely given, but she didn't voice her concern.

They then descended into the Valley of Peace, like they had when visiting the hain village, entering into the soothing mist suspended above the Valley. Below them were creatures of human appearance, but with brightly coloured hair, fair countenances, and large white wings like those of a bird sprouting from their backs. "These are Angels, an intelligent race created by Niciel. They inhabit the areas within and surrounding the Nice Mountains. They fly and have some magical powers. They're generally rather secluded, with a few notable exceptions."

Unlike the hain, the angels looked enough like Conata and her sister for Conata to wave and smile. The angels would not be able to see them, of course.

Kinesis deeply breathed in the soothing pinkish air of the nice mountains, feeling a cool, but not uncomfortable, feeling engulf her. She looked at her own holographic wings and back at the angels and couldn't help but chuckle awkwardly, clapping both hands over her mouth and grunting. "They look like me."

Next, they exited the Valley and headed to another village. It and its inhabitants were less dignified than the angels. They were more dirty and rugged in appearance. However, there was significant evidence showing that these beings were more technologically advanced than the angels. "These are humans, whose forms you should recognise. I will be honest- I have had little interaction with them, but Ilunabar is quite fond of them. I also have no idea who made them or where they came from. They aren't quite as widespread as the hain, but they may be one day."

Conata took a liking to waving. These humans were fleshy instead of metallic, but they looked like her as well. More so than the angels. Maybe Jvan made them.

Kinesis was surprised at seeing the Humans, they uncannily looked like her when she only had two arms. Even more so than the angels, she decided. "This seems to be a recurring form, they look like me and Meimu and Ilunabar." she said in wonder.

They continued southwards, following the eastern slopes of the Ironhearts. Soon, they stopped by what looked like a bunch of boulders on a scree slope. It looked plain and boring at first, until one of the boulders seemed to sprout limbs, shamble forwards a few steps, and then eat a handful of pebbles. "These are the Urtelem, and they are my own creation. I created them to fight back against any dangerous and powerful creatures the other gods would make, like Vestec's ashlings. They have been very effective at doing so. As you can tell, they are made of stone and they eat stone. Also, they sense the disposition of creatures around them, allowing them to identify who to protect and who to crush. Thanks to some help from Jvan, they are also fairly intelligent, despite their sedentary lifestyle, and they communicate using hand gestures."

"Like waving?" Conata asked. She was excited to hear that it wasn't just fleshy humanoids that might understand her distant yet enthusiastic greetings. She gave them an especially energetic wave of her arms.

Kinesis looked mainly at her sister when they passed the rocky Urtelem, biting her lips. Her enthusiasm was so endearing. She had to resist the urge to hug her.

They continued onwards until a storm cloud blocked their path. Yet it was no natural storm. It was two storms clashing and fighting, tearing away at each other with thunderbolts and hurricane-force winds. A torrential downpour accompanied by frequent lightning strikes and mighty gales was underneath. "Ah, the elementals. Zephyrion made them, and they seem to come into existence anywhere. They are beings of pure magical power, encompassing some aspect of nature, such as air or water. Most are tiny and unintelligent, but there exists a hierarchy. Djinn, like these before us, are beaten only by divine beings in strength. It is a mercy that they compete amongst each other so strongly, or else all life on Galbar might be under their dominion."

Being the first time that Conata had seen lightning, she was fascinated. Too fascinated even to wave. Even if she would wave, she didn't know where to direct her palm. All she saw were storms. "Are they hiding in the clouds?"

"Look closer," Teknall said. Among the clouds, there appeared a giant arm which lashed out at the other cumulonimbus. In that other cloud, they could just make out what appeared to be a face made of lightning. "They are the clouds."

Conata gasped when she spotted the elementals' faces. All she could respond with was a wispy "Wooow..."

"They are forces of nature." Kinesis stated as she took in this spectacle. "Are there ones of the earth and water too?" Another question came to her as she looked on at the emerging forms of the elementals’ furious faces. "And are they all men?"

"There are indeed elementals of earth and water, and fire too," Teknall replied. "You can find woman elementals, too."

They circumnavigated the battle and continued onwards. Over the horizon, a beach of purple sand came into view, and sprawling inland from it was a city of mud brick buildings and pyramids of Jvanic origin. Teknall was speechless at the sight. This was not Lifprasil's city, for it contained no Lifprasillians, yet here was a fully-fledged city. The rest of the world was living in huts and tents. His divine sense probed every alley and saw every person. Thousands of people were gathered here- hain, human and rovaick alike. The technology was the peak of its era, pushing the limits of infrastructure and innovation in a time before metal. How could this have happened?

Kinesis peered at the city curiously, her eyes quickly drawn to the sad and forlorn form of the Calendar of Rocks at the city's seaside border. She seemed close to tears as she comprehended what this was. "Who would do this? The timekeeper does not work anymore; it is shadowed by the pyramids. You can neither see the important sunrises nor keep track of the days. Something is not right about this place." She said in a sad tone.

As Teknall pondered, the answer to his question was obvious, for among the throng he detected not one, but two Demigods with which he wasn't familiar. One resided in a palace like a king. Another resided in one of the smaller pyramids, one called the House of Knowledge. He had the bearing of a scholar, albeit quite insane. It was by their influence that such a city state had been able to assemble itself in such a brief period.

Teknall felt indignant that he had not been included in its construction. He turns his back for one generation and the world builds three individual cities without him, he thought. Yet there seemed to be some recognition, for one of the pyramids was named the House of Construct. It was dedicated to himself as the god of crafting. He would have to visit here properly at some point. But first, he had somewhere else to go.

"This is a city. It is a new city. I'm not sure where it came from, or anything about it, for I haven't even heard of it before."

Conata wasn't sure what to say in the face of her father's betrayed embarrassment. Maybe they knew a secret? Conata resolved to find out one day.

They passed by the city and carried on across the mountain range. They passed many a peak until they reached a gap in the Ironhearts, filled with a tangle of boulders, caves, swamplands, rivers, jungles, mangroves and floodplains. "This is the Shalanoir Pass. It was made, at least in part, by Ilunabar during the Phantasmagoria. The Phantasmagoria was a very significant event on Galbar. It goes by numerous names by the mortal races, but it was a single night where lights filled the sky and dreams bearing inspiration came to everyone on the planet. Many things about technology and society came to the mortals that night. Those events are still in living memory, in fact."

Conata gasped and pointed. "Look! They're pretty!"

Kinesis laughed and laid an arm around her sister, kissing her cheek. "Yes they are pretty sister of mine," she said. How could one not love Conata with such behaviour?

However, Conata was hardly pointing at nothing. Around the Pass, Teknall perceived the presence of a humanoid race of intelligent beings, although they were quite peculiar in appearance. They were a mix between mammal and reptile. Evidently, they had been quite secluded in their little tribal home, and thus their technology was well behind the rest of the planet, but their society even at a glance showed many signs of a deep and colourful culture. It had Ilunabar written all over it. "Native to this region exists a peculiar race of intelligent humanoids. I did not even know they existed until now, but it seems to be Ilunabar's work. Their technology is quite primitive, but they appear to have a vibrant culture."

Conata waved.

Kinesis looked at her father, "There seems to be a lot to discover on Galbar if even you find new things all the time." she said in her slightly muted and respectful tone to her father again. She did not really expect an answer. Teknall nodded and gave a word anyway; "Indeed."

The trio flew through the pass and came out the other side. To the south was a wooden town along the coast, smaller than the expanding sprawl of the city by the purple sands, but still ahead of most of the rest of the world. Yet, to Teknall this was but a facade. The distance, the jungle, the fog, and the illusions meant nothing to Teknall's godly perception. He could clearly see the grand architecture of the capital city and the palace. It was indeed a glorious city. He had been wrong in underestimating Ilunabar and her Divas, for its design was intelligent and construction expertly executed. Additionally, he could tell that Ilunabar had exercised prudent discretion in concealing it from view, for it was centuries -- if not millennia -- before the mortals would construct anything of the sort.

"Here is the grand capital of the Lifprasillian empire," Teknall announced. "Not this little town, that's just an outpost. Beyond the fog. Let's take a closer look." He led the girls onwards until they passed through the barrier of illusions and the city was revealed before them. Its constructed arches and spires seemed like another world. "This city was built for Lifprasil, and designed by Ilunabar and her Divas. Lifprasil is a demigod, not unlike yourselves, and is the child of Vulamera and Vestec. He's the demigod of emotion. He's a little peculiar, and he has lofty ambitions, but as far as I can tell, his intent is noble and benevolent. The primary inhabitants of this place are the Lifprasillians, a race created around the same time as Lifprasil. In fact, before this city was built, they resided in the Celestial Citadel."

Kinesis nodded. She had found a lot of things left behind by the Lifprasilians when they had searched for material to build her machine-dog. She felt like she already knew them.

Conata was a mirror-polished bronze. The city was hard to see in the darkness and obscurity pervaded by the fog, but Conata could see enough flowing stone and sculpted streets to desperately want to explore it all for herself. If only she wasn't being held onto so tightly by Teknall. Her thoughts took her elsewhere. "Is Lifprasil like Vestec? Was he cast like me or built like Kinny?"

Teknall shook his head. "Lifprasil is, mercifully, quite unlike Vestec. And he wasn't cast or built. He was instead...born. I don't know the details of his birth, though."

"That must have hurt," Conata thought out loud.

Kinesis looked at her sister. "Being born can hurt no matter how it happens." she mumbled, hugging herself and looking away at the divine capital again.

Eventually, they left the capital and continued southwards down the Ironheart Ranges. They soared over snow-capped peaks and around the towering Mount Bormahven. Soon, they banked towards a particular other mountain and descended until the mouth of a cave came into view. Yet, around that ragged hole in the rock was evidence of habitation. Smoke drifted out and climbed skywards. Refuse and rubble were strewn across much of the ground. Outside, on terraced slopes, were farms of onions and rice and other crops being tended to by squat humanoids of various sizes; tedar and goblins. The faint sounds of stone being chipped and myriad conversations being held deep within echoed forth. The divine family's keen eyes detected other cavernous entrances scattered sparsely across the mountain.

Conata pointed to one of the goblins. "Some of these look like you, daddy!"

Kinesis smiled as she saw the intelligently set up farms. "They only need to build proper irrigation and these farms will be fertile and green for generations." she said softly. "They really look like you father...but I bet you can take any form you wish?"

"You are indeed observant, Kinesis," Teknall said. "The truth is they don't look like me; I look like them. By my power, I can change my appearance at will. Not so long ago, I had the body of a hain because I had chosen to spend time walking amongst the hain."

Teknall turned his attention back to the farms and caves in front of them. "This here is one of the settlements of the Rovaick." Teknall explained. "They are another intelligent race, which should complete the list of intelligent races on Galbar. They are composed of several distinct species, each with different characteristics, yet still working together. They were made by Vestec. Although, as Fate would have it, they have inherited almost none of his characteristics. For a long time, they have lived hidden inside these mountains, and just in recent times are they starting to emerge."

"That is strange. I thought Vestec liked to destroy, not create," Conata mused. "I wonder why he changed for these people?"

Kinesis shook her head. "I don't think he changed, from what father said, he must be fickle by nature. Maybe he just saw all the other sentient species and wanted one of his own making?"

"So he was lonely?" Conata asked rhetorically. She looked around at the rovaick with a lower face and a coppery complexion.

Unlike all the other times they saw sentient races, Teknall descended further, until finally, his feet touched the ground. "Come. Let us go inside."

Conata held onto her father's hand and became somewhat magnesium with the cold and darkness ahead. However, she could feel the metals around her already. Different stuff to the calcium and magnesium in the citadel. She showed veins of warm bronze on her face just thinking about it, even if her expression was neutral and cautious.

Kinesis landed beside Conata and Teknall to follow. Her glorious wings flickered for a moment and then vanished into nothingness. She knelt down to touch the ground. The first time she had touched Galbarian soil. "It is truly solid, not as softly swaying as the Citadel." she said, smiling as she drew a tiny depiction of a single gear into the soil. A mark of where she had made planetfall the first time. She shrunk back to her ten-year-old form and fused her arms to look like a rather normal human girl before she took her sister's free hand again.

They entered the cave and were enveloped in the darkness. To help the demigoddesses see the way, Teknall conjured a faint light- enough to walk by, but not enough to upset the sensitive eyes of the cave dwellers. The sounds became closer. A faint glow was visible before them. The small goblin figures up ahead scattered at their approach. They retreated into nooks and crannies hidden in the walls or simply scurried deeper into the cave.

Soon, Teknall and his daughters reached a guarded gate where the cave narrowed into a defensible point. Two troll militia stood in front of it. The guards stirred at their approach, but Teknall waved his hand and said in a rough language, "At ease. We are an envoy from Teknall." The trolls relaxed and stood aside, letting the trio past.

Despite the free ingress, Conata and Kinesis stared with wide eyes at the trolls. Kinesis' hair seemed nearly completely black and her eyes a cool turquoise to match her distant and cool attitude to this strange place. The trolls stared right back at these strange humanoid girls accompanying this goblin of the craftgod, their heads turning slowly to follow them. Kinesis bit her lower lip shyly as they walked.

They emerged into a large natural cavern system with many cave-houses and stairs carved into its walls. A large part of the floor of the cavern was occupied by subterranean farms of fungi, moss, reptiles, and arthropod insects. Apart from Teknall's own glow, lighting was sparse, originating from a few kitchen and workshop fires and nothing else. The rovaick could see fine in the darkness. Around them roamed goblins, trolls, tedar, and even a few azibo.

Conata widened her eyes further and barely felt the pressure of her pupils dilating. What she did notice was her sight adjusting to the darkness. There were only a few silhouettes against the fires before. Now she saw many more. The realisation of the population in this cavern was a startling surprise. "Why are we here, daddy?" Conata asked. "Are we going to meet another god?"

The language of Conata's words only attracted more attention to themselves -- the odd bunch of figures come to the home of the tribe all of a sudden. What Conata spoke was no language of the rovaick, rather it was the divine tongue that all gods know. It made the creatures whisper and murmur in superstition. Few to none would know the language, though all recognised its significance, man or beast alike.

Kinesis looked around in wonder, taking note how the subterranean farms matched the outside ones in well-designed setup. She gulped, instinctively recognising that her family's very standing here was a significant event to these people. She did not want to spoil it, so she kept quiet and let her hair fall forward a bit, basically hiding behind it. She squeezed her sister's reassuringly firm hand tighter.

Teknall's name alone seemed to carry weight here. Despite these people being made by Vestec, they still bowed to another god's authority. A reassuring thought if there ever was one.

Teknall's gaze did not meet Conata's eyes as he answered her question. "We aren't here to meet another god. Instead, we're going to teach these people things." He turned to Conata and continued in the local rovaick tongue, which Conata found she somehow knew fluently. "You feel all these ores around us? At the moment, nobody on Galbar, except for the Lifprasillians, know how to make metal. So I decided that it was time that the art of metalworking should become known. This is why we're here." He stepped forwards and endearingly ran a hand through her copper hair, causing her to blink. "So, you can show them how to use metal."

That sentence caused Conata's hair to bristle around Teknall's hand in sync with a gaping grin that crept onto her face. "I get to show them? Right now?" Her head twisted around to spot an angled vein of rock that had a slight green tinge to it. It was not the most obvious thing to spot against the dusty rock of the rest of the cave, but Conata knew exactly where it was and exactly what it contained.

Kinesis tilted her head a bit, listening to their father with interest. So this was why they had come here.

Conata let go of Kinesis' hand and began to jog towards the vein, trying not to run too close to the nearby rovaick. They were not especially afraid of what appeared to be a child, but their eyes followed her just as closely as the guard trolls did.

As Conata ran off, Teknall motioned to Kinesis. "Look after your sister for a few minutes, okay? I have someone I need to talk to."

Conata stopped herself by running her hands flat onto the green vein and pushing to halt her momentum. She looked up at it with her wide grin and her skin bronzed over to an especially reflective polish.

Kinesis faced Teknall and bowed her head slightly, folding her hands in her lap "Of course, father." she said demurely, before slowly walking towards her sister, stopping maybe ten steps away from her.

Teknall walked deeper into the settlement, entering a structure which may have passed as a temple and leaving the two sisters alone.

After a few seconds, Conata's hands began to glow with greater heat than anything else in the room. The nearby rovaick began to back off as the intense warmth wafted onto their faces. Some ran to hide in terror. It was only getting hotter. After another half-minute, the glow from Conata's hands began to spread to the stone itself.

Kinesis watched on. Conata's control over metal was astounding to look at, she thought. The present rovaick shied back even further, pointing and mumbling in awe at the display of divine power.

A resounding set of hisses and cracks echoed out from the vein near Conata's hands. Fractures in the rock were spread and released puffs of foul smelling gas. Conata's grin turned into grit teeth as she let out a sound of strained effort. Her fingers curled and sunk into the apparently softening rock.

A crackle, a spit, a hiss. The entire face of the vein crumbled as if it were made from soft clay, heated to an orange glow as it was. From behind the collapsing facade, a thick, glowing, orange liquid that lit up the entire cavern lazily spilt forth. Its immediate movement was to flow out over Conata, but it parted around her hands like a trained creature. Conata burst out in childish laughter and her skin began to glow nearly the same colour as the molten rock around her. What was left of her already singed and tattered dress went up in flames. The flaming girl then whirled her hands under and over, bending her knees slightly and bringing her hands over her head. The glowing fluid spilling around her obeyed; a pair of charmed snakes emerged and eddied up from the black-pocked, glowing fluid to swirl over Conata's head. They united formed a growing sphere until there was nothing but steaming slag left behind.

Kinesis raised one hand protectively and took a step back as her sister extracted all this molten metal from the vein. She looked on in awe while quite a few of the rovaick fled further away.

Conata, still glowing brightly, turned around with her hands over her head, supporting a ball of glowing metal that looked about as heavy as she was. She had a face like a child wanting to show her friends a new toy. That much was not far from the truth. However, when she saw that most of the rovaick had run away in a panic, and those that remained were clearly afraid, her expression dropped. Her glow faded and she took on the dull grey of humiliated tin. "Huh? Did I scare everyone?" Conata asked.

Kinesis walked towards her, shaking her head. "Mortals are a lot more fragile than us, one drop of the metal or a spray of slag could hurt them severely."

The tin girl's hands went forward and dropped the sphere of metal onto the floor with a crack. The vibration in the stone made a louder sound to the local feet than the impact did. Some last yellow smoke escaped the surface of the sphere as it cooled, revealing it to be almost entirely made from pure, gleaming copper.

Even with the large lump of metal she had extracted, Conata was looking at it guiltily. "I am sorry," she said, some flecks of brown iron rust starting to appear.

Kinesis hugged Conata and patted her head soothingly. "You don't need to be. You have an awesome power at your disposal, but I guess when you want to teach them you need to find safer and more low-power ways to get at the metal." She looked around as the first rovaick were peering back and closing in slowly again, full of curiosity.

"See? They are already coming back. Go on, make something useful out of it so they understand what this is for," Kinesis told her encouragingly.

Conata's rust began to recede a little, even if she didn't immediately react to Kinesis' comfort. She partly lifted her head, just enough to look around her with her upset pout. Her face changed to something more neutral when she spotted an abandoned stone and wooden mallet nearby. Conata sniffed and mumbled, "Okay."

Firstly, Conata gently brushed Kinesis' arms away and walked to the mallet to pick it up with one hand. She turned it to see all of its details. She didn't know exactly what it was for, but it would be useful to the rovaick, wouldn't it? Conata walked back to the copper sphere and placed her hands upon it. By coincidence, her mood recovered to change her appearance to copper once more as her hands began to heat again.

Kinesis carefully observed what her sister was doing, nodding to herself. Though she could not shake the nagging question of what would become of them, would Conata stay with these people?

It didn't take long this time; Conata had her hands against the metal for barely a few seconds before she brought them upwards, taking thick strands of molten copper with them. They stretched out from the sphere like glowing, godly slime. Her arms moved to the sides of the strands and her fingers tensed into hooks as if pushing at the metal through the air. Instead of the metal simply moving, it was sculpted. It assumed the shape of a shaft with a rough, bulbous head that had a flat surface perpendicular.

The familiar shape of the mallet made one of the braver goblins begin to creep forward. The glowing slag around them had all but cooled into black and yellow pebbles, allowing passage without burnt feet. Another goblin followed to get a closer look, and then another.

Conata caused the molten tool to swiftly resume its pinkish, lustrous hue and took the mallet in on hand. She gave a small smile and turned around. This time, her reception was more positive. The goblins ooh’d and aah’d. It was the most shiny thing they had seen since a certain hammer was bestowed upon a certain other goblin, a long time ago.

"Is this useful, Kinny?" Conata asked, turning her head to Kinesis for confirmation.

Kinesis chuckled and nodded. "It's a hammer, one can use it for quite a few things...."

The first goblin grinned and ran around the sisters to lay his hands on the copper sphere. Conata had obviously made it look easy. He barely kept his palms on its surface for more than a second before recoiling with a small yelp and blowing on them to cool them off. "Ooh, ooh, hot! Hot!" The goblin wiped his hands on his sides and looked up at them both. "Um...your Teknally...ness...ladies!" he stammered, clearly not knowing the nature of those whom he addressed. "How does dey...do dat wit da shiny?" He waggled a finger at the mallet Conata held. Conata looked at the mallet and then back to Kinesis. She didn't really know what to do from here.

Kinesis' smile brightened a bit. There really was no reason to be afraid of the rovaick, she realised, as much as entering their realm had startled her at first. She took a step forward and grew a little bit, seeming a bit less childlike again. "We are Teknall's daughters," she said softly. "The craftmaidens Conata..." she indicated her sister with one hand, "...and Kinesis. I am afraid only those of divine blood are able to work materials in this way, but there are other ways that mortals can reach the same results." She turned to her sister. "Maybe bestowing a few of those to these fine people would be a good idea?"

Encouraged by her sister, Conata nodded and returned to the copper. This time, using only one hand, she drew out much more of the sphere's volume and shaped it into a long row of connected copper mallets. Then, with the first mallet she made, Conata softly struck the other mallets off the conjoined row, letting them clang onto the floor, one after the other. They swiftly cooled once they hit the ground.

"Oh!" Conata held her head back in surprise when she noticed what became of her first tool. The handle had been bent in one place, causing the head to lean back in reaction to the stress put upon it. "This metal. It's not very strong."

Conata didn't seem too discouraged. She didn't even have to gesture to will the handle to straighten again. "Metal doesn't mind being shaped if it’s nice and hot." Conata smiled and offered the copper mallet to the goblin in front of her. "Here! Don't hit it too hard. The thin bit will bend."

The goblin took the hammer gingerly, enraptured by the copper tool. Other goblins also sidled up and took hammers for themselves. One goblin struck two hammers together, and a chime rang out. One goblin, after staring at the copper mallet for a while, actually stuck it in his mouth and started chewing on it; he was swiftly reprimanded by the goblin beside him with a hammer blow to the back of the skull. Conata winced at the behaviour at first, but seeing that the goblins were okay made her bring a hand to her mouth and begin giggling. Her skin turned into an iridescent bronze.

"No, it’z hammer. Tool, not food," chided the goblin who had struck out.

"But iz tasty," whinged the goblin who had tried eating it.

"Look, is same as Gruik's blessin'," said another goblin.

The other goblins ooh'd and ah'd, for indeed the hammers Conata had made were similar to the copper hammer Teknall had given the goblin Gruik when he first visited.

Kinesis curiously observed the Goblins. Instead of giggling, she just snorted amusedly when she saw them scuffling. She would have loved to make something for them herself, but she felt that these people, or maybe the entire world for that matter, was not ready for what she had to give, so she contented herself with observing her sister in her element. It was a joy to do.

As the scuffles went on, Conata spent the next while making more objects out of the leftover copper she had extracted. The goblins that gathered around were so excited that they asked Conata to make all sorts of strange things. Oddly-shaped rocks, threshing flails, digging sticks. One troll even approached and asked for a wooden bowl he presented to be wrought in bronze. Conata obliged as well as she could, though the copper she had was running short.

As the goblins shouted and exclaimed and scuffled and experimented, Teknall returned, walking around the gathered crowd and drawing up beside his daughters. "I see you have already made a start, Conata," Teknall said.

Kinesis looked at their father with a slight quirk to one of her eyebrows. She somehow knew that father would say something of consequence.

Conata paused in her manipulation of the hot metal in front of her to turn her head back to her father's voice. "Daddy!"

"However, it will take a lot more time and teaching before they are able to make these things themselves." Teknall gestured to the implements Conata had wrought. "For look, they hardly understand what you have done before their very eyes."

In response, Conata blinked and thought about what she had been doing. She had become rather carried away with making all these things. She was supposed to be teaching. Still, that brought up another question that she looked up to Teknall to have answered. She clasped her hands together and showed flecks of nervous magnesium. "Daddy, Kinny says that the metal gets too hot for the Rovaick to touch and they can't get it out of the rocks because of the slag and-" She took a quick breath. "-they can't shape it like I can. How do I teach them how to do that?"

"Do you remember what was in my workshop?" Teknall asked. "There was a furnace to melt the metal and various tools to shape it."

Conata blinked and looked to one side, closing her mouth to think. It wasn't as obvious as she would have liked, but something eventually caught the corner of her eye. An abandoned fire pit was flickering away nearby. Conata walked up to it and tested its heat with her hand. It was not quite hot enough to melt the ore, but it gave her an idea. One that may not have been wise to pass on to the goblins present. "How hot is the hottest fire you can make?" Conata asked the goblins with a smile.

The goblins began a response by shooting glances at one another, though their collective showing of teeth indicated more inspiration than reasoning. One began to giggle, another broke into a laugh. The biggest one besides Teknall pointed his new copper mallet at Conata. "Weez could make da biggest fire youz would tink in her head, and den biggah!" The goblin lowered his arm and looked away to a nearby woodpile. "Weez needz da wood, dough."

Too naive to see the possible destruction wrought by the goblin's ambitions, Conata jumped with excitement, before stopping to explain. "If you put the rocks with the metal in them in the fire, the metal will come out!"

Teknall pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. "Fire is almost as dangerous as molten slag if it is not properly controlled. Come, let's see if we can figure out a way to make a fire which is hot enough to smelt ores but won't burn down the community."

It had been an afternoon full of experimentation and spectacles. Conata's exuberance knew no bounds, and this was matched, for better or for worse, by the fervour of the goblins. Yet the day had drawn to a close, and they had barely laid the foundations for the working of metals. Shooing off the goblins who were sticking around, Teknall led Conata and Kinesis through the towering doorway of a tedar home, pushing aside the hide curtain as they entered.

"Daddy! I want to keep going!" Conata complained. She did not feel tired at all.

"There is much more to be done, but we can't do it all today. It will likely take many days. The goblins need to sleep some time. I think here is a good place to rest while they do, too," Teknall said. "Understand?" Teknall's face had a smile on it, but that was a thin veil over a melancholy mood.

Conata pouted and looked to the ground. There were many times where she was belligerent towards her father that day and it never lead anywhere. As in this case, she gave up quickly as it became clear when there was no point arguing.

A crunch of loose rocks ahead of the father and daughter caused Conata to look up with surprise...And look up further with surprise...And further, opening her mouth. The thing's face towered to such a height that Conata almost reached the limit of her neck reaching back.

He was a tedar rovaick. They had mostly kept their distance during the day, but Conata had not seen one up this close before. His huge jaw poked forth to accommodate pointed tusks, grinning kindly in the darkness. A large nose pointed out between tiny red eyes that looked at Conata endearingly. He wore what looked like a set of hairy yak hides knotted together into a loincloth. With another crunching step, the tedar shifted his potbellied, brown-skinned body to Teknall and bowed deeply. "Divine mason! Mason's daughters! Welcome to our home!" The tedar straightened and turned its head and upper body to shout behind him. "Wutni! Come and welcome the gods!"

Another tedar lumbered forth from behind a nook. This one was weaving reed ropes together to make some kind of shawl. Her clothing was similar to the first tedar, revealing narrower shoulders and a slightly smaller -- though still rotund -- navel that parted an aged feminine chest. Upon seeing Teknall, Kinesis, and Conata, she widened her eyes and took in a slow gasp. "Oooh, look at you! Little creature!" Wutni leant forward on her knees and gave a warm smile. "You must be Conata. Sularn told us about you!" She beckoned Conata towards her. "Come, I want to see you."

Conata couldn't help but smile back. Even though the tedar were monstrous in size and appearance, there was a gentleness to their demeanour and tone. She gave a glance to Teknall before letting go of his hand and walking towards the huge Wutni.

The male tedar addressed Teknall again while Conata and Wutni exchanged introductions. "This is truly a great honour, divine Teknall. My name is Choukkud." The tedar bowed again and extended a hand. Like most of the local rovaick, Choukkud's hand bore the red symbols of Sularn's oath. "I never imagined in my wildest dreams that we would be charged with caring for the child of a god. I thought the prophet Sularn was simply telling us a cruel lie at first! Ever since Wutni lost her fourth whelp before its time to be born, we had all but given up hope."

Somewhat unsure of what etiquette was expected of him when interacting with a god, Choukkud brought a large hand up to scratch the carpet of thin hair on one of his shoulders. "Um...I do wonder, though. Great mason...if you would indulge me. Your daughter, what does she eat? Is there anything we must know to best take care of her?" He interrupted himself with a short cough. "Apart from the way she...commands metal so."

Conata was fully distracted by a new, playful conversation with the matronly Wutni. She was apparently oblivious to Choukkud's questions.

Teknall glanced over to Conata and back to Choukkud. "Oh, food, um... She can eat anything, really. That shouldn't be too much of a problem."

Choukkud let out a hearty chuckle. "That is well. She will fit right in, I think."

Teknall stared down at his feet for a few seconds, before softly saying, "I assume Sularn has told you, about how she isn't to know. At least, not until she is mature enough to show restraint and understanding. This is-" Teknall swallowed and looked away again. "-this is quite important if she is to fit in with the rovaick."

Choukkud threw forward two deep nods. "Yes, of course, great mason. The prophet made that clear as rainwater." He placed the side of his fist over his heart with a thud before lowering his voice as well. "We shall keep the secret and look after her until she grows the heart of a tedar. This I swear. Although..." Choukkud relaxed his fist and turned his head to look at Teknall sideways. "If I may, great mason. I am but a humble mortal goatherd and do not presume to protest the decisions of a god, but...why did you choose us upon which to bestow your daughter?"

A loud crackling sound began to ring out in the cavern. Looking to its source saw Conata chewing on something with her mouth open and half an animal femur in her left hand, full of red marrow. Wutni asked something with her large hands clasped together. Conata looked up at her with a grin and nodded vigorously.

The noise did not perturb Teknall, for he did not need to use his eyes to see what was going on around him. By the time Choukkud turned back to Teknall he had gathered words together to make a good answer. "Knowledge and practical skills she already has to some degree, and there are many who are capable of teaching such things. If I had wanted to teach her power I would not have taken her to mortals. There is but one thing that she can only learn in her formative years that will be invaluable for the rest of her life, and that is kindness. Kindness is a rare thing to find. Growing up with kind mortals will give her qualities that would be impossible to attain if she were raised by a god."

Choukkud rubbed the side of his huge jaw as he processed Teknall's answer. He still didn't look completely confident that he understood everything about Teknall's decisions, but he trusted the godly artisan enough to know that his judgment was sound. "It is truly humbling to know that we can provide you such a service," Choukkud remarked. "Kindness, then...yes." Choukkud spread such a warm smile that it almost proved on its own that he was qualified. "It shall be done. To the best of our ability, we will foster Conata a kind heart in her little chest." Choukkud moved one foot back, brought a hand to his hip, and looked to Conata and Wutni.

Wutni was lifting Conata up onto her shoulder and was about to give her a tour of her new home. Conata laughed as she was lifted up, still oblivious to the situation.

"Though, this humble tedar feels that Conata has had a head start in growing a tedar heart." Choukkud chuckled through his long nose and turned his head back to the goblinoid god. "When are you planning to say your farewells, great mason? Are you staying with us for a time?"

"I shall be staying until Conata lays down her head to sleep," Teknall replied.

Choukkud clasped his hands in front of himself and continued with a twinge of regret in his brow. "We would offer you hospitality, but all we have are a few bones and red stones left to eat. It pains me to admit that we will need to save them for the next few days."

"Perhaps I should be the one offering you hospitality. You are rendering me a great service, after all," Teknall suggested. "Is there anything that you require?"

Choukkud closed his eyes and smiled, suppressing a laugh. "Great mason, you have granted us a child. We could not want for anything more in the world." He then lifted his eyebrows. "Although, if you wanted to sup while you wait, we might speak over a pile of black rocks and rice? I know how to prepare them to be a delicacy." He showed his palms. "It is not a need, really. I would not wish to impose; I am merely a man of opportunity."

Teknall showed a palm in response. "It is no trouble at all. I will be back shortly." In the blink of an eye Teknall had vanished.

"Uh," Choukkud extended a hand to wave through the space that Teknall had previously occupied. After confirming that Teknall was no longer amongst them, he put his hands on his hips and huffed a single laugh. With that, he stepped around to face Kinesis. "Come, you can join the tour of our home, too."

Before two minutes had passed, Teknall had returned, a sheaf of rice stalks in one hand that was bigger than his goblin form, a stack of coal in the other, and a fish under an arm. He handed over the rice and coal to Choukkud. "I believe these should be adequate," Teknall said.

Choukkud was not quite as startled at Teknall's reappearance as he extended a lowered palm to retrieve the ingredients. "Ah, this is plenty. You are most generous, great mason Teknall." Choukkud was not exaggerating; he had to wrap both of his huge hands around the amount of rice and coal that Teknall provided. That the little goblin was dragging it around on his own was at least a small demonstration of his divine nature. "That thing under your armpit," Choukkud mentioned. "It looks like the food that the traders carry around, but...wet. Did you wish to add that as well, great mason?"

With his hands now free, Teknall held the fish in his hand. "This? This fish is only large enough to feed one person." He gestured behind him to where Kinesis was standing. "It is for my other daughter, Kinesis, to eat, since she can't eat rocks. I'll prepare it myself, don't worry."

His non-metal daughter, Kinesis, gracefully smiled and curtsied at the mention of her name. As she had quietly observed, a slight melancholy arose to her mien as the coming reality became more and more apparent.

"Very well." Choukkud nodded in greeting to Kinesis. "I will begin preparing our supper. This will take a short while."

Choukkud's famous rice and black rocks was not something particularly complex. Using hot coals and a green reed basket, he steamed the rice over a fireplace with the reeds still attached. The soot caused the rice to blacken while cooking the grains somewhat. Choukkud ground Conata and Teknall's portions into smaller pieces while he and Wutni ate the stalks straight from their hands. The remaining coals were extinguished by pouring them into a carved stone hole that served as a basin and then left in the middle of where they sat to be snacked upon. To most creatures, the meal would be inedible. To a rovaick, it was more culinary sophistication than they would likely see in their entire lives. Choukkud and Wutni seemed to enjoy eating it.

Conata was curious enough to try the meal, and although she liked the marrow bone better, she ate all she was given.

So Kinesis would not be left out, she had the fish to eat. This fish Teknall had filleted himself, with the same finesse and exactness as when crafting an object, and cooked above the same coals as the rice. As she dug in, she looked at Teknall and spoke softly. "Thank you, father, for this meal."

For the next two hours or so, the group made conversation. Teknall had already proven himself humble and approachable enough during the day that the tedar couple was not nervous in speaking with him, but they made pains to continue speaking with utmost respect. Topics were simple, for the most part -- Wutni and Choukkud explained what their lives were like and how things had been changing for the better since Sularn's vow. They could range further now, free from the fear of the white giants. Some rovaick had even tried riding on one of them and it didn't even budge from its slow march.

After a while, all the inactivity was allowing Conata's fatigue to catch up with her. She was beginning to yawn with increasing frequency around the fire. She may have been an embodiment of toil, but her body still knew when it was time to rest. Rather than remain sitting up, she closed her eyes and fell sideways into Kinesis' arms. Kinesis grunted and made a face; her sister was more than a bit heavy.

Once she had gotten used to the weight, however, Kinesis savoured this show of trust and love. She tenderly ran a hand over the fine wire hair of her perfect metallic little sister. It sang with a very slight sound as she did so. At Kinesis' touch, Conata's skin faded into a bright silver. She was asleep in moments.

A single tear ran down Kinesis' cheek as she sat, but she had let her hair fall forward so her face was shadowed. Her solemn mood showed through as the two glowing rings of her irises shone blue instead of green in the darkness. Her hair seemed darker, more dominated by its black than its red facet. "We will really leave her here," she said. It was a statement, not a question.

Teknall's eyes betrayed a similar sadness. He nodded, then eventually added, "It will be only for a while." He looked at the sleeping Conata for a minute until he finally stepped forwards. "It is time for us to get going."

Kinesis nodded sadly and planted a kiss on Conatas silver cheek, before leaning back to allow Teknall to reach her.

Teknall reached down and scooped the silver Conata up with both arms. He tried not to disturb her sleep as he carried her over to the cot Wutni had set aside for Conata and lowered her into it. He stood over the cot for a couple of minutes, stroking Conata's hair.

Eventually, he leant down close and whispered into Conata's ear, "Good night, my daughter. I will see you again in the future."

Then Teknall planted a soft kiss on Conata's forehead. A very faint glow suffused over her forehead as he did, fading back into darkeness. As he stood back up, Teknall's eyes were moist. Conata had been made by his own hand, was his own child, and he had shown her the world. It weighed heavy on his heart that they would be separated.

Yet this was as things had been planned. It would pay off in the end, despite the short-term pain it inflicted now. He stepped back and tore his eyes away. "My work here is done," Teknall said. He looked to Wutni and Choukkud. "Take good care of her, okay?"

The tedar couple were standing side by side nearby. Choukkud had his hands clasped together in front of him while Wutni gave Teknall a sad smile. "We shall do our very best, great Teknall," Wutni responded.

With a surprising lack of noise for a creature so big, Wutni stepped up to Teknall and put a comforting finger on his goblin shoulder, in lieu of her too-large hand. "I may be just a mortal, but I understand. It is no easy thing."

Teknall nodded glumly. "Indeed." Reluctantly, he gestured to Kinesis. "Come now. It is time to leave."

As Teknall stepped through the threshold of the home, he looked back towards Conata one last time. He stepped forwards and departed.

Kinesis curtsied to Conata's new guardians but remained silent, instead just staring for several seconds, comitting them and her sister to memory. Conata had been made for this. In a way, she existed only to be left here with these people now, she knew that much. Somehow, this still did nothing to change her feelings. When she turned, she followed her father very quickly.

As soon as the smell of breakfast reached Conata's nostrils, she was wrenched from her dream and back into consciousness. It was mildly disappointing to be woken up; she dreamt that she was flying all over the world with a pair of...what were they? People. They flew with her. She remembered them being very nice.

All the same, the resentment of reality was quickly overturned by what she anticipated for the day. There was still more metalworking to be done. Perhaps she could try finding some different metals to copper today? She shot upright from her cot and threw aside her rough reed blanket. As she began sprinting towards the door in nothing but her warming copper skin, a voice sounded out to stop her.

"Hold there, Conata!"

Conata slid to a stop and turned her head. Choukkud smiled from his cooking fire and put a hand on his hip. "You mustn't run out in the morning without a good breakfast! Come, eat with your mother and father."

There was a moment of pause where Conata was blank-faced and beginning to pit with magnesium. She was unsure. Then, with a grin, she ran up to Choukkud's leg and wrapped her arms around it, gleaming in bronze. "Good morning, daddy."

Choukkud's face held a grin. He stooped to pick up Conata with his hand and lifted her up onto his shoulder. "And good morning to you, too, dear."

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

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Two Souls' Spiral

Poog the Pig as Lifprasil
Lugubrious as Allure

Tucked away in a corner of that city of wonders and legends, there lay a reflective pool. From a channel above the water tumbled down into it in a cataract, and from there the current became a swirl in the circular basin. Flowering vines and questing roots from the foliage that lined this pool's edges streamed like hair seized by wind, while a thick grove of leafy bamboo encapsulated the area totally. Their great stalks reached skyward, though sunlight still filtered in through the top, as might a light of hope shining down into the depths of a pit in the earth. Beneath this golden radiance the inches-deep water swirled, a strangely tranquil whirlpool, and its soft vortex gave the impression of a locus of natural power.

Allure certainly felt that way as he danced, moving back and forth with rhythm and elegance with the water nipping at his heels. Without pause he performed his eccentric tango, handling his dance partner as if it were an extension of his body. In his fingers the long handle of the polearm he'd created -the naginata- seemed weightless, and its every move echoed the beauty and deadliness of its wielder. A legion of invisible foes attacking at every angle fell like wheat at harvest when faced with this gorgeous onslaught, but still this dance never ceased. The perfection of this spot, and the graceful samba within, seemed to be the very essence of dreams. Perhaps in a trance, beauty's arbiter span and span, probing every angle with the curved blade and serenely brutalizing imaginary enemies with the long handle, faster and faster until the current caused him to slip. Allure then fell onto his back in the rushing water, and the coolness combined with the impact washed away his focus. He stared up at the sky, feeling dampness soaking through his hair and clothes, and wondered.

Many thoughts circled through his head, turning and turning just like the watery whorl that surrounded him. For all his power, intellect, and beauty, he felt wasted. He could not begin to imagine the machinations of the gods, but he knew that as long as they lived and acted in the world there could be no true peace. Mortals could only ever be grains of sand in such a world. The beauty of Lifprasil's hidden city stood as a monument to the capability of those not expressly divine, but what was the use, really? In less than a second, any god could wipe it all away. A fit of rage might do it, or sheer apathy, or perhaps just a lust for undoing. It wasn't fair.

He sat up, water running in rivulets down his bronze skin. The naginata lay in the current, unyielding. Picking it up, Allure prepared to dance again.

Rather than imaginary foes, that which would have stalked in brambles and bamboo, Allure found himself face to face with Lifprasil once more - he stood there, and after moments of careful analysis, he spoke.

"Are you alright, Allure? That looked rather painful." spoke the Emperor of Alefpria, hand ceremoniously rested upon the serpent-like blade that wrapped around his waist so tightly.

Lifprasil kept from his fixed position before his companion, and decided to find a resting place to sit upon: a platform, a part of a stone basin controlling the eb and flow of some of the majestic waters of the palace. He wasn't wearing Niciel's armor, in fact Lifprasil looked much more casual than Allure would have come to expect out of his daily routine. A colorful wrap - a garb decorated with divets and jewels crafted from colors that would have been unseen - encased his body. The sleeves cut short, but the skirt of the body ran down to his ankles, leaving him the same coverage that he had become used to as Vesamera.

"I must say, your meticulous practice has impressed me, such as most of your abilities - what brings you to be so hardy about your activities? Boredom?"

Allure's eyes narrowed to find his privacy disturbed. He could never be embarrassed for being caught doing something others might perceive as strange -in fact, they ought to be the ones embarrassed, for being so foolish as to perceive things that way- but all the same the sudden appearance of Lifprasil did not fill him with joy. "I am perfectly alright. I succeeded in losing myself in the rhythm of combat, and that numbness dulled any possible pain."

The self-proclaimed emperor's rather unusual choice of garments did not garner much attention from Allure, though his eyes rested for a moment on Lifprasil's urumi. Surely he didn't mean to engage the hero of beauty in combat? Without Niciel's armor a single slice to the throat would end the little king's reign. Of course, Allure traced this mode of thought immediately, and mentally chided himself for continuing to think of Lifprasil as an enemy. Any sort of slip in this regard might betray his thoughts. If anything, the emperor might want to test Allure's new style in combat, which the handsome man supposed he could do. Instead, Lifprasil asked a question, and to it Allure replied, "The battle to improve oneself is a lifelong quest for mortals. I must spend every moment I can spare getting better. To do otherwise is a waste of the gift of life." Plus, Allure had in fact created something new. Surely the excellence of this achievement was not lost on the newcomer...?

"I admire your spirit, and I've seen your ability and skill in careful practice - but not application. The weapon you've created has fascinated the metallurgy guild, and your pivotal hand in the creation of Alefpria is truly something of note," Lifprasil opened, reaching to tie his hair into a knot that would lift it behind his own head. "But out of all these things, valor, stoicism, these are all important, and I must ask: do you love Alefpria and its people? Would you be willing to protect them, and the beauty of this socialite city in a world of wonder - but most of all - horror? The most valuable thing one can give me, and my people, is the promise of his life." he then continued, finishing his meticulous hair handling at the end of his questions.

Lifprasil but gazed at Allure, he knew that the hero was not one to be selfless, but after his experiences with humility, and his humbling defeat at Allure's hand, he had his doubts about whether or not his friend's personality was truly static. Perhaps it could change, much like the water that ran underfoot, cool, mild, gradual, but still ever-amorphous in its development. After all, of everything in this world, or this universe, water was the most resilient due to its ability to sustain liquidity.

So the demigod was getting serious. Allure disliked questions of analysis, particularly ones to which only one right answer existed. The naginata twirled in his grasp, coming to rest across his shoulders. Like snakes his arms curled around the shaft, their weight supported by the burden on the back of his neck. This exercise allowed him a short delay in which to think. Any longer hesitance would only perturb Lifprasil, since Allure expected that he could not develop an image as one prone to deep thought. "...Love an inanimate object? What's the point? Is it a symbol for the living things you truly love?" Despite saying this, he made sure to wear an non-confrontational expression. "I can appreciate the labor that went into this place's creation, and the atmosphere it harbors. It is unlike anything else I have experience, and dare I say far better. The floating house of the wind god is a bare hovel in comparison."

Allure then turned and took small steps through the spinning pool, toward one of the points where it flowed out between patches of greenery to somewhere else in the city. The day before, when completing the dance he'd rehearsed today, he'd ended his session by attempting to slide down one of the slick chutes. It had been exhilarating, and he'd intended to try another route today. Rather than seating himself and pushing off, though, he pivoted on his heels to face Lifprasil again. " If protection is what you want, I am the perfect choice. If something attempted to destroy this place, I would kill them. If something disturbed the peace by killing your slave race in an inartful fashion, I would be glad to slaughter those murderers, too. But I will not lay down my life for bricks, wood, water, and ignorant slaves for their sakes, or for yours. If a god attempts to destroy this place, and you ask me to die for a cause of yours, I will run, and not an ounce of shame will weigh me down. The answer to your questions is no; I do not love this city, or its people. What I love is beauty."

He paused to think for a moment, remembering something. "Notte, for instance. It would please her, I think, if I defended the city and its people, so that is why I will endeavor to do it. Heh, perhaps I'd even give my life for her. To die in pursuit of true beauty would be an acceptable way to go. Why makes all the difference." The naginata flashed from its position, snakelike, and Allure swung it overhead with no small amount of strength. The shaft of the weapon became embedded pretty close to the exact center of the little whorl. It would wait here for its master to take it up again. Allure gestured to one of the streaming chutes. "Once we're done here, care for a slide? It's good fun. More interesting and less predictable than falling from the sky, at least."

When Lifprasil was listening, he found his expression turning darker - it still retained the smile that he had worn so patiently for Allure, but he couldn't help, however unconsciously, narrowing his vision to his fair friend. The face, that gaze of anguish disappeared, however, when Allure's naginata impacted expertly narrowed marble and stone.

He did not like the sensation he felt when Allure spoke of such selfish deeds, but he figured this new attraction would help clear his mind - this was not the first time his own Domain threatened to control him; after all. "I quite remember the memory of falling from the Citadel, down to Galbar. That was an experience most painful." Lifprasil remarked with an entertained scoff as he stood, and joined Allure upon his ledge.

"I must confess something, Old Friend, something about Notte," he said, ousting his voice to the still atmosphere outside. Lifprasil's gaze was fixated down to the architecture below now - and the jungles beyond. "Your love for Notte is strong, but so is my grip on the control of one's own psyche, and I have sensed an illusion within the Divas Four, a hex within the mind of one that I would assume to be Notte herself. Something placed it there long ago, one of them is doomed to feel compassion for but one creature on other planets far, far away. I urge a lack of forcefulness on your part, as I can fix this upon your request. However, winning her over truly will be upon your own clever mind, afterwards."

Lifprasil turned back to Allure, he was no longer smiling now, but there was no malice in his mind or expression either. It was merely a neutral expression, illuminated by fires, that which burned through long nights such as these upon the bosom of Alefpria's brilliant palace.

If he could quantify the degree to which he expected Lifprasil to favor his reply, Allure could definitively say that it had a 0% chance. As such, when Lifprasil's bearing and expression grew less genial, Allure was neither surprised not concerned. Pleasing this young emperor did not lay within the reach of his vast abilities. If he tried to be genuine, he would displease him. If he lied in an attempt to anticipate what Lifprasil wanted, Allure expected that the other man would be even more disappointed. So why even try?

Lifprasil's comments about Notte, however, perturbed him. Did he mean to imply that Notte could never have feelings for him because of some rotten spell? The suggestion infuriated him, but in the wake of such an excellent dance, and in anticipation of another exciting slide, and in the grip of a refreshing flow of water around his ankles, Allure did not act on his anger. If Notte hadn't warmed to him at all, it was because he'd made no real attempt for her so far. After all, he lacked nothing in strength, ability, or looks. At times, his wit could be nearly as sharp as his drawn lines. Since he knew this wasn't in question, and that Lifprasil intended to try and fix the problem, Allure directed no ill will at the demigod opposite him. "So be it. Anything else on the brain?" Allure held one fist on his hip, gesticulating with an upward palm with the other.

Lifprasil held up an index finger "I would also like you to teach a portion of my men the art of the Naginata - I wouldn't want to waste your meticulous practice. That is all." requested the tiny emperor, before he narrowly slid past Allure, towards the silken slide that awaited him. "Oh, and Allure," Lifprasil's empathy and warmth reappeared.

"I would narry permit the usage of slaves - the people in Alefpria stay because I provide necessities sentient creatures desire and want: such as a home. Surely you will want one, eventually." he said, teasing the Hero like he would in situations similar to such back in the Citadel. With that, Lifprasil attempted to slide down the exhilarating drop, but his form was flawed, and he ended up falling much faster, similar to a rock. He managed to shakily recover on his feet, but the drop was still humiliating. "Whoops." Lifprasil chuckled, realigning his balance upon the walkway he had landed upon.

A soft sigh escaped Allure when Lifprasil suggested teaching again. How could a base creature whose very presence offended the eyes possibly master or even begin to learn an art that embodied beauty of form and movement? It was not an intuitive or practical weapon. Men would be better served by spears, pikes, halberds, glaives, or any sort of weapon that would compliment height and strength. "Perhaps it might be more useful for the women," he advised, getting ready to go down a different slide. A call of his name obliged him to look back. A home? The thought of settling in one place seemed like a waste of what the world had to offer. For instance, if he took up residence in this one area, he'd never find out what other alcoves Alefpria had in store. Then Lifprasil disappeared, and Allure threw himself down his slide as well.

His chosen route turned out to be a winding, meandering channel that carried him to another part of the city entirely. He practically flew around curves, zoomed down straightways, and rode through numerous water features. All the while his heart raced with exhilaration. After a few minutes, he swooped down a cleft and was then ejected out of a jump into a scenic pond in some sort of indoor park. The instant he pulled himself from the water, he discovered a marvelous amount and variety of flowers everywhere, and set to examining each one.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Antarctic Termite
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Antarctic Termite Resident of Mortasheen

Member Seen 15 hrs ago

The past.

Matriarch Old-Winds-Running-Through-Young-Leaves rested a hand on the face of the monolith. That is the best that her name's first verse can be translated without the nuance of sign. She could feel it, the stone, and she listened to it whisper with the soft life that all stone has. Fresh memories, joyful memories, had been made here. It was sad to leave this place behind, for moving on from a good memory is always sad. And yet it there is a happiness in farewell. Urtelem know this, for they know many kinds of happiness that the wiser peoples so often forget.

Gently, as if in a soft voice, the mother signed to her old friend. Will you not come with us?

The signs returned to her were full of fluent depth, and not entirely clear. It is unusual enough to sign a two-handed dialect with four hands, and Nguxhil's words are always stranger still when they are Nimble.

No, said the signs, suggesting sorrow that is not sad; I cannot not stay in this place, because the city that is the City is also my staying-place. It is where I wander back to after I wander somewhere.

Old-Winds-Running-Through-Young-Leaves smiles. So it is, then. You have given us so much already.

She runs her hand over the surface of the Holy Stone. It is one of many, though dusk has long since hidden what shadows are not concealed by the Cipher Pyramid. No matter. The herd will remember the Stone and its siblings in the circle, remember them well.

Beneath her fingers the matriarch feels the shallow imprints of circles, angles, arcs in arrangement. Oh, what they had been given. Thank you, Nimble. Thank you, Spiral-Palms.

A sharp, low clap of rock hands. The herd uncurls, looks up from the gleam of moonlight sweeping the Purple Sands. Old-Winds-Running gives the signal. It is time to move on. It is time to say goodbye.

It is time to greet the new day.

* * * * *

The present.

Sun does not fall through the canopy of the Great Lenses; It leaps and glides.

None of the Great Lenses have spread to their full height yet. Their boughs are still stretching. It is exactly as Nimble had said, in her way. Fifty winters it would take for a Lensling to stand up from the earth of wakefulness into the heavens of dreams. Quite a time, even for Urtelem. Herdsfolk could come and go in that time. Joy was one who had come.

A pebble, as they are called, and a particularly little one at that. Joy clambered over sandy turf with all the unwieldy effort of a child realising what it means to explore. His parents let him go. He won't get far, and there are plenty of friends who will watch him.

A small slope- Just enough for Joy to trip over his own wrist and tumble gracelessly down, coughing grass. Rolling comes naturally, but a pebble's reflexes aren't quick yet. No matter. Joy is hard to dent.

To his fresh eyes, this space is new, barely a few arm's lengths from his mothers. Heart overflowing with wonder, Joy slowly creeps over the broad rock face that has been revealed from beneath the thin topsoil. One of the glass people watches him, stirring seamlessly from that basking stillness they have.

There are circles marked in the rock, a great abundance of them, sectored and linked with lines more intricate than a spider's web. Glyphs hide between them and in them. Joy sits flat and stares. Communication has rhythm, has an elegance in each sentence. To take the shape of each part and fit it together into a whole, complete from every angle, is to write like the Urtelem. Joy does not yet know what these things mean, but he can feel their pattern. He was made for it.

On the two-hundred and fourth day of the sixth year of the Script, three seventeenths of a sector west of here, opens one, the date forming the center that the story spirals around, the family of Warm-Summer-Rain-Songs found a feathered slouch wounded on its hindleg. For a day and two nights we brought it grass, but it grew ill. Therefore we made it comfortable and delivered it to the vultures. May their hatchlings grow up strong. An addendum. On the twelth day of the seventh year, a ring of red sunflowers was found in that place. The soul rests easy.

Joy traces the lines with his finger, follows them on to another story, finds an object blocking his way and a glass person looking down at him with a grinning scarlet skull. He smiles and signs his favourite words: What is this?

This one, laughs the lensling as he signs, was written when a Maker came to the grove. Other than that, I don't know. Joy signs back with a pout. Why not? It feels so simple, to him, to see the pattern in the story, though all its words are foreign.

Oh, my head isn't the same as yours, rock-baby. We have different stuff between our ears. (This expression confuses Joy greatly.) The lensling notices, and signs a little further over the graven slab. If you want to see what the Maker did, look for yourself.

There on the up-slope stands the Holy Stones of this grove, in their perfect circles. Every inch of the henge is painted in swirls of vivid white and orange and pink, immortalising the rise and fall of the sun at all times of day.

Joy claps his hands and grins. The lensling sits on his stone and dozes in the noon warmth.

* * * * *

The past.

Four hunters sit in an unhappy circle, though their hand-sledges are full of game and their fire crackles warm. Four hunters of a party that should have been three.

No words are shared. They spent them all the night before. The murmured prayers, the mountain songs, the promises, the thanks. What now? What to say, when all has been said and all has been done, and yet there is no ending?

All four are quiet, and yet, compared to Jorn, the silence of the other three seems loud. They do not ask him how this has come to be. They know how it began- Ended- And that is enough. Truly, all three of them hold a brother's love for him in their hearts, and do not dishonour him by wondering whether he could have survived the wound if he had willed it harder. Whether Jorn had finally trapped a hog that could match him, or whether he had fought it long enough to look into its vicious eyes and say, you win. Do your worst. Let me end here in blood and snow, as a woodsman should.

Often the gods curse us with death. Sometimes they curse us with continuity. Life, though gutted end to end by a wild tusk. Life, where a winter fever alone was enough to snatch away a wife and son.

Nalog shifts her weight, just enough to pull three pairs of eyes to the huntswoman.

"I heard a rumour, four years gone," she begins. "A clan of stonemen came to the mountains and an old man who knew their hand-tongue translated. He said they were looking for zombies. Not to smash them, like they do demon-tangles. He said they wanted to help them dream again."

It's nothing, or almost nothing. A promise with no depth. Would it be any more satisfying than a leap from a mountain or the jaws of a herakt, if it were true? Nalog glances up at the grey sky and rolls her broad shoulders back to her place in the circle.

Jorn moves. His eyes are glazed, but his undead voice still holds fire. He reaches for his staff.

"I will go."

* * * * *

The present.

They stand like the statues they were at the dawn of their lives, unmoving and unmovable, huge. Each one is spaced an identical distance apart from those at their sides, and they share the exact same pose. One knee and one fist on the ground, head bowed, hand on heart. Eyes shut. Brow low. Gentle the Urtelem may be, but there are times when it is right to show strength.

At the center of their half-circle stands a Tedar of unusual figure, facing outwards to a bloated man with yellow-black skin. He looks back at her. He is tall. She is taller. The voice that comes from her eyeless mask of a face makes the man want to look down, see where the child is that must surely be talking, but he has spoken to the Sculptor only moments ago.

Her name, such as she tells those who ask, is Help.

"You stand in a barren place. You stand before a people that will guide you through it, if you would take their hand. In a moment you may cross over into a life that is new, is strange, and is real. Are you ready to begin the long walk?"

Some have no wish for ceremony. A few prepare one on their own terms. The walk is long indeed, and the first step is soon forgotten. To each soul its own way. The man rests his hand over a silent heart. His voice is broken.

"Thirty-nine winters I've seen. All of them have... Been hard. And- many years I was happy. Now, I'm. Not." A rasp. Maybe a breath. "My years are over, but I'm still here. I'm tired. It's cold. I want to go back to my- To them. In peace. My name is Jorn. I'm ready."

Help nods, and lays a gentle hand on the man's skull. Tilts it aside. Deft as a butterfly, she incises the base of his neck with an obsidian knife. He doesn't flinch as she presses the smooth, rippled glass spike deep into his throat.

For the first time in many months, Jorn feels warmth.

She steps back. Nods again, pockets the knife in a small bag. The Urtelem move as one. Their circle comes undone, the unyielding pose softens, and they walk to him, past him, one by one. His hand is as delicate as a flower in their palms, but they hold it with only the slightest pressure. He feels a tug and follows. The Stonemen pass him from one to another as he walks between them, building up a confident pace at their side. Each one takes him a few steps further, laces their hands into the knotted triangle of unity, then the curled prayer of Spiral Palms.

Two dozen pairs of legs and knuckles move at a flow. Faces leak into smiles. Hands rise in plodding chatter. Another kind of warmth seeps into the man. These earthen shoulders are not a barrier. Their strength is his strength. Their heart is his heart. He is part of the stone.

They lead. Jorn walks with them.

* * * * *

The past.

Midnight. Haste. Planned haste, yes, but there was ground to cover.

Coming within sight of the willowy thickets that line the river, Flux sights a lumpy greenish figure just about where he expected her to be. Signalling for his guide to go on ahead, the once-djinn swerves slightly upon the sedgy plainsgrowth and catches Yulosi in a broad film of a palm just as she turns to see him coming. Wraps up the goblin and drags her along behind him. Too slow, otherwise.

It was a lopsided arrangement, to send her ahead and catch up on the way. Yulosi wanted to go. She had more than a fair portion of that vexing goblin instinct to fiddle with things, prod them to see what would happen, damned be consequences. So he let her puzzle out her own way to the site on what directions could be given. Flux kept her leash short, but there was really no place to hide in this area, and his guide only had so much time before the sun rose.

Besides, she could be useful. Sometimes.

The blood angel hovered over the anomaly, a mauve sphere of light suspended from his fingertips. It marked the place, and yet even in this almost moonless night the site was clearly visible to Yulosi's cave-eyes. When he saw the forge glow of Flux near the zone the vampire let himself fall, feet first.

They exchanged some words as Yulosi was promptly unwrapped and discarded. Nothing they hadn't already yakked about at length. The deformed zombie scuttled off, the only one, it seemed, who was determined to get some use out of her god-given and worm-eaten brain.

She did not go unnoticed. As soon as the vampire was requested to make another investigative circuit, a faint shadow was cast from behind her. Yulosi chose not to comment.

"No Djinni constructed this, nor any Yivvinite. It is too artificial for the former, who are of nature. The latter lack the strength to construct so quickly, and I perceive no life in this monument, besides. Who, then, is our culprit?"

"Point. Shit question. Dontcha spit that rhet'ric at me, we both know 'o did this. Real question is why."

"Point. Begging the question. We cannot assume that we know-"

"-Godssake, Flux, these tracks're six inches deep-"

"-What creed these Urtelem belonged to. You, in particular, should know that the rigours of Chaos can seize any soul." There was no reprobation in that statement. What is, is. Chaos is no shameful thing. "No Stonemen that I have yet seen migrate with such pace and direction, and I have lived sixty times your years. To construct such a monument of their own accord is, in the meanest term, bizarre."

"...'sthat mean I can put bets on which god is fuckin' wit' us this time? Day's labour says it's the Great Chippa."

"I concede that divine intervention is not an unreasonable assumption in this case. Urtelem do recognise the Chipper; I believe his sign is Callused Hands. A wise enough mortal, even a non-Yivvinite, could have inspired their hearts to unite and build also. Perhaps one of their own number." The peaked liquid scaffold Flux wore for a face momentarily dissolved and reformed in a different alignment, and Yulosi's eyes followed what she thought was his gaze. "We may know soon enough."

The vampire was gliding back, a pinkish star in the distance until he grew close enough for his illuminated wings to be discerned. By that time Yulosi had already wandered off again. She had seen enough of angels, alive or dead.

There was a monolith by the near end of the bridge. Yulosi ran her hand over it, already used to the gaps left since she had chewed off the fingers infected by lens. A map. Milestone too, probably... A shrine? The upper surface of the small obelisk had been queerly distorted, broadened and flattened like putty and pinched delicately into the shape of simple mountains, forests. A line ran straight through the middle. No doubt the very river she could hear now.

Its sides and base were covered in engraved markings, mostly interlocking arcs and angles. The two largest bore uncanny resemblance to the signed names of Callused Hands and Spiral Palms. Yulosi turned and stepped onto the bridge.

A peaceful moment. The river was nearly silent, and Yulosi sat cross-legged in the night, watching stars. No railing on the bridge, nor any need for one. It was rather wide. The stones were rough-hewn, if they had been hewn at all. They were packed thick, and crystallised together, fused the same way the earth closes behind an Urtelem as she tunnels. No doubt the river, narrow though it be, was of the deceptively deep kind with an undertow. Urtelem can't swim, and struggle in mud.


And back to the chatter again.

"I presume I'll have to repeat what I just heard- Or did those bat-wings you call ears finally serve a purpose?"

Yulosi cackled, refusing to be riled. She dug a filthy sharpened nail into her ear, pulled out an impaled maggot, and flung it at him. Flux dodged effortlessly, his fluid body stretching a perfect tunnel for the missile to pass through.

"You," he mused, genially, "are disgusting."

"Point! Ad zombinem."

If nothing else, he was proud of her burgeoning vocabulary.

The blood angel had sighted the bridge's builders from above. They hadn't gotten far yet, and there was nowhere to hide on the plain. Yulosi had a feeling she was about to learn something interesting.

* * * * *

The Present.

They came in the daylight, their shadows joining with those of the Ironheart ridges. Between the warm and narrow valleys, their footsteps echoed, granite on lichenous quartzen granite.

Villagers rose from their terrace-tending to see them come without walking out to greet them. The mountain hain knew Urtelem to be wiser than the sum of their stony parts, in the same way that they knew the snow leopards were guardian spirits, and the death-eye crows held hidden knowledge. Beyond this, they suspected little, though stories wandered.

It was their own herd of stonemen who uncurled to offer welcome. Invisible between the orange-grown boulders they had fed on for lifetimes without number, they walked straight through the village in single file without a moment's hesitation, striding on foot and knuckle as they do. When the two lumbering flows of stone collided at last, they butted shoulders with intimate loudness amidst a great deal of tapping and palming and waving and cheironomy.

Into the night the bass commotion continued, creeping slowly back around the round hill on which the huts themselves rested until morning found the soft scraping noises dispersed through every ledge on the far end of the little dale, mostly in clusters of fours and fives.

To their regret, the mountain hain found that none among their number had ever tried to learn the Urtelem language. They were a community that lived quietly, questioned little, and spurned the outsider, the greenskin and the fiberhead. Now their quiet kinesic conversation was almost clamorous. Would they have understood, the villagers would have seen the wealth of experience that the newcomers brought- Tales of the City where thousands of people gathered, that turned forest, marsh and meadow all into sprawling farmland. The Urtelem had mostly left that place to its other peoples. Stone-grazing and migration could not easily coexist with the farming folk.

Deaf to these stories, all the hain could do was observe.

What they saw first was the presence of the strange thing that walked with the Urtelem. It resembled something that was animal, vegetable, and mineral all at once, and yet none of these. A grinning red skull stood in its quartz skin, and the shaman announced it a thing of Jaan as soon as she laid eyes on the mysterious amalgam. It stood motionless for most of the first day, only stirring to sign with the Urtelem as they exchanged angle-riddles, as they often did to amuse themselves, and to wave at the villagers, the youngest of which ran from its unnaturally brilliant endoskeleton. By nightfall the stonemen escorted it to a higher ridge, where it sat crosslegged, and soon enough began unfolding coralline branches. It attracted faeries like a fresh corpse.

Within hours of the arrival, patterns began to splay over the granite surfaces. The villagers knew they were patterns, for there was some amount of repetition to them. Some were drawn in mud or etched. The largest and finest were twisted into the rock itself, its very crystal texture realigned to form the curves. Pretty as they were, they fascinated the Urtelem, who spent hours staring at them and signing around them. A one-sided exchange was evident. A newcomer drew the lines, conversed with the indigenous herd, and then guided them as they drew similar marks. As days became months, the exchange intensified until the patterns sprawled so huge so quickly that the stonemen had to wipe clean the cliff faces to start over.

Upon the near peak, strange happenings began to occur. Along its ridges, Urtelem were hauling boulders to the place where the rainbow skeleton sat, then splitting them into narrow menhirs with a precision that the villagers only saw in their craftshain. Rippling their fingers over the pillars reshaped them subtly, sometimes over the course of weeks, marking edges and holes into them. At last, one by one, the stonemen erected them into a henge. At dawn the next day, the elders of both herds stood in that ring, ripples of rosy and blue-grey crystal marking their age like wrinkles, and knelt with clasped hands. Such was their concentration that shards of grit jittered erratically around them as they sanctified the shrine.

After two weeks, a hermit returned, having been cast out for many decades. No eyes gleamed in his head, and his naked exoskeleton made a hollow sound as he walked, for he was of the Accursed, the Hollow Hain who rise again. The death-eyes croaked threateningly at him as he clambered over the terraces. He was only sighted once as the oldest hain remembered him- Thereafter he was only seen on what had already been renamed Henge Ridge, with a shell as blue as a dusk sky and slowly oozing glass.

Two densely tattooed adolescents decided to go and shatter both the aberrant skeletons early in the morning under the guise of gathering spike flies to pry open stream-mussels. They came within touching distance, and, indeed, they did touch the older lensling, who slept motionless, its thighs slowly flowing to conform to the shape of the rock it sat on. As soon as the axe was raised, a stoneman uncurled behind them, and it was a slow, humiliating backwards drag to the village. After that, the mountain hain only watched as Urtelem meticulously tended to the growing lens tree, clipping it, cracking its exterior, knotting it in place with woven grass.

No animosity remained from this event. In time, as the henge was completed and the spiral-drawings became so refined that no one could tell whether the old or new herd had made them, the stonemen took interest in their exoskeletal companions.

Over the course of only a few days, the hain saw their narrowest gravel trails hewn into wider, more stable paths through the cliffs. The stream from which they drew water was dammed into a pond deep enough to bathe in. Broken terraces were reinforced. All these things Urtelem did. Some said they were being compassionate. A more perceptive few looked at how only the most colourful stones had been chosen for the dam, and quietly supposed that they were simply amusing themselves. Solving riddles the village had unwittingly posed.

One morning the mountain hain awoke to find that the ridges empty. By the communal fire pit, the risers found an unusual bouquet. It was an arrangement of crystal- Tiger-eyes, obsidian, agate, jade and jasper, washed and unguarded, all in abundance. Later in the day, the grey herd of newcomers returned to the Henge, unaccompanied. The orange lichen they had accumulated in their stay made them look almost like the Urtelem who were missing.

The community's age-long protectors had left, without a word. Their farewell had been given in other ways. From the valley they strode, on foot and knuckle, on to seek out a place and a way to share what they had learned, as their own teachers had, not so long ago.

* * * * *

The future.

It is the sixtieth year, say the Makers, since Spiral Palms first dictated the Script to them. Sixty years- The years a lensling needs to spread to its full height. The age of an elder among the other peoples. The number of stonemen in the largest herd. The first number to be made from halves, thirds, quarters, fifths and sixths. On this day, in the early spring of the north, the Urtelem mark that first gift, and with it mark the new year.

In forests and shores, plateaus and tundras, the decade-long winding migrations of stone folk are winding down, converging into a mere handful of places. These places are not random. They have been whispered of on the slates of the lens groves for many seasons. Herds have come and gone before this day, preparing them. They are the sites of old lenslings and grand henges, with broad open spaces and running water, and gravel in abundance, quarried from the surrounding regions so as not to strip the land. Sonorous slabs have been arranged into huge lithophones, their slate keys awaiting players.

Here the Urtelem are coming together, and they are coming to celebrate.

Days in advance the herds arrive. They pull stout wagons and wear ropes, carrying ores, bloodstone and obsidian, marble and malachite, a glittering, iridescent feast. These they arrange around the Holy Stones, awaiting the day. Stars and moons slowly spin into the position they know marks the hour.

On the eve of the new year there are hundreds of Urtelem gathered. Lenslings walk among them, and Makers have come. Herds have built bonfires simply to light the occasion, and they mingle freely. Signs flicker quickly and long. Everything thrums with anticipation.


Motionless. The Earthen Folk watch a sun rising, their hands curled in the mark of Spiral Palms. This is its festival. This is the day where they remember that there is something strange in the world, something grand, and it watches them still.

Then celebration begins.

Makers become Singers and primeval chords are rung from abhuman throats and too many hands. Urtelem percussionists begin to ring low lilting melodies on the arrangements of resonant metallic stones. Almost no training has been given, and none is needed. The can visualise the wider intervals of the song like a map, and their timing is perfect. The very ground moves with the heartbeat of the gathered Urtelem, their magic amplifying tremors of sound that other ears can hardly even hear.

Minerals from the surrounding lands are broken and shared hand to hand. Bales of glass curls and rivulets from the lens trees are shared, already regrowing in the shadow of the Makers' fae.

Geometric riddles of epic complexity are drawn, debated at length by dozens, solved, and left intact to be admired. Many have stories worked into them, of journeys and changing landscapes, for the Urtelem do not savour intrigue or emotional turmoil. Talented stone-twisters gather, their combined efforts crystallising white sand into perfect marble imitations of flowers, animals, one another. Others weave grass rope and garlands. A corner is set aside for discus. Pebbles skip merrily upon the lakes, and projectiles fly hundreds of paces, sometimes meeting one another in the air. Names are recited at length, often in several dialects.

Adventurers bid their families goodbye and are embraced into the arms of other herds bound for distant regions. Long-estranged wanderers meet their cousins again. Thoughts become ideas, which harden into plans. Things to build, places to go, times to meet. Maps sprout like weeds. Memories are recorded.

The matriarchs watch, and remember. There was a time when none of this was, or could be. The Urtelem have changed, and they change still. Once there were many herds. Now, there is one people.

A joyous people, carved from the same stone.

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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)
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All-Beauty, the Cancer that Breathes
Level 4 God of Beauty (Flesh) (Geometry)
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Storm's King; The First Gale; The Embodiment of Change
Level 3 God of Change (Air)
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A breath.

It is the moment before the beginning. The time when a soldier closes their eyes and bows their head, knowing that soon, soon they may taste victory's sour blood, or the bruised dirt of death. Inhale. Feel one's life and understand what is at stake.

Know ye not, said the sage, that ye are gods?

Dawn. The matrix of tense flesh is descending from Ovaedis, its orbit synchronising with Galbar's as it falls. Jagged and asymmetrical, wrapped into itself like a twisted parcel of grey. It descends slowly, upright. It nears her. It knows where it must go.

The jungle is split as the peak of the All-Beauty opens up, revealling a vast cavity. A mould into which the flowing morsel was designed to fit. Silently the two fuse. Quiet again.

Inhale, and the verdant life folds itself into its maker. She absorbs the jungle, the brilliant green cloth that veiled her for so long. Reveals a body of ancient grey. A body that begins to unravel.

Unlocked by the key she has crafted for herself, she works the old, visceral magic, the first art. Years of deep mental calculation come to the fore. Great boughs bloom from her and fall, slotting into place, lining waves and curves. The skin is torn and born again. Symmetry flowers from the landform, its shadows deep mazes upon the ocean far below.

Hours. The last crests curl into their halo shapes. The body is still. Its red mists return. All around, the earth and sea and sky echo an old memory.

"Though the pain cause all to scream and thresh, your taint will be cleansed, oh Deformed Flesh."

"I am a Creator, Vowzra, as are you... Do not allow yourself to become less than that."

A contemplation, maybe? A reminder? A question, or a challenge?

There is a reply, spoken softly, inwardly, between clasped hands. A prayer.

"In Holding, Scald; Let Wooden Bone Split and Bleed its Hands Into the Bowl Upon Truth's Altar, Where the Incense of Reckoning is to Us as Crucifixion-Sweat in Rivulets on the Brow of the Heretic Justified. Listen! Now Does the Forest Fall to Burn in Smouldering Paradise."

The whisper fades. The planet turns. It is mid-day.

Like the raise of a conductor's baton, Jvan ascends from the earth.

* * * * *

Whether broken by divine fallout or sheer mass, gravity roiled in the All-Beauty's shadow. Chunks of stone arced and collided and shattered into noise. Conflicting waterfalls swarmed over each other as an ungodly weight of water spilled from the hollow god. Below, the ocean collapsed into the gargantuan crater.

A shock wave erupted over the peninsula, blasting the cascades into mist as the deity began to move. Jvan flew in a perfect line over the center of the Fractal Sea, the water below slicing into a white wake. When her path brought her past the equator where Julia dozed and her shadow began to lengthen to the north, she rammed the throttle.

The Flesh forced itself through the sky until it burned around her, charred her face and streaked into tails of hellfire behind her.

Driven forth by the dying polar sun and incineration behind her, the shade Jvan cast reached the Guardian upon his mountain before she did. He saw it darken the stone on which he waited, and raised not his hooded head to watch the blazing figure breach his horizon.

Jvan was still accelerating when she collided with the Solitary Mount.

In the moment before the sound of abject obliteration hit, the tremendous white peak seemed to liquefy around her lower flank. Then the air burst and the stone became heavy grey dust. Rock roared down to entomb a swathe of forest-tree, while boulders like hills splattered the arctic snow alongside the shattered Gate.

The Guardian's body alone defied its natural trajectory, and curved, circling the braking god as she positioned over the corpse of the Mount. Jvan bore her new scar well. The gate's judge broke as his orbit constricted into tighter and tighter loops and was forced to a halt directly above the maw of God.

"Though the Lord said it not, 'tis as he said 'twould be."

No sight of the earth below, nor the still-rising shroud of pulverised stone. Only miles worth of eye-twisting spirals descending into a whirling carmine core. That ancient spider's form held up long enough to stare into the abyss that enveloped him and began to melt, the two guises alternating against his will. It was his purgatory, his turn to be tested.


Bloating into horrific bulges and spheroids that tore his robes into white rags and swallowed them, the Guardian spoke the words he was made for, and knew they were his last: "Nay, Cancer. You are not Worthy."


The scalpel fell. The Guardian exploded.

His body rent into a perfect unbroken ring of still-beating flesh with only the smallest, bleeding residue at its center, spreading miles wide in moments, scything its way through the sound barrier without tearing.

Through the aperture, Jvan looked, and saw a torn sky. She moved towards it in a reverent gear, and the portal swallowed her upper half, its core vanishing into hers as it floated motionless around the equator of a god that stood, once again, between two worlds.

Jvan looked, and saw a million windows stitched into a unified mosaic, a single vision of the shattered Gap spanning the whole horizon. Magnificent as the day she breathed life into it. There too in the hollow between a foreign land and warped heaven rested Perfectus with its face of manifold scars, as though it longed to return to that harsh place it had so long called home.

And all around her that foreign land glinted and glowed, and before its liquid Time, all other things froze solid. So slow, was the time of Galbar, so heavy, and yet here, where the clock ran a thousand miles in the blink of an eye, there was rest.

From the flittering cherry-blossom on a faint wind, and from the glint of light on an airborne stone; From the ripple on a sparkling pool to the spider that spun her unseen craft above it; From the iridescent mystery of a Crystal to the slow walk of clay beside it; From the etching of a Name on glass by one Crow, and its return to dust by another; And from the solemn song of a Bard who had once loved and lost, the island realm whispered its name: Chronos.

Sitting in his tree, the god of Time looked with a certain degree of wonder at this monstrosity which stuck its head into his home. Though there was no denying its boorishness, its hostility seemed to have been - for a few Galbarian seconds - eased. And just as the Flesh with wonder beheld Time's peace and - perhaps - twisted sense of beauty, Time too beheld the twisted beauty which gazed in on him. This being was truly awe-inspiring, for just as it had ripped into his sanctuary, he now Saw how it clawed its way into his Timeline, how it defiant stood with all its saggy excess and resolutely blocked his way.

No going back for you is there, oh Vowzra, and no going forth. To left and right of you doth Flesh burst out, above ye blood and below ye reddest clay doth rise to pray.

After a few minutes Vowzra closed The Record and stood up. Though the very face of the Jvanic Entity and its bulging eyes and drooping flesh did stare into Chronos, yet the Victors and the inhabitants of Vowzra's paradise remained calm. For this was Vowzra's Timeline, and not their's, which now came to a close. He had thought for long on wherefrom the lethal blow would materialise, for here in Chronos was there great blessing in Time. The hours were not, as were Galbarian hours, empty and hollow. This place was full of Time, and even one such as Vowzra whose Time had now dried up had drunk his fill in Chronos. He had lived eons here while his brethren counted hours and days, and no place in the Universe could boast more centuries and rolling eras than this consecrated Chronos. It was his everlasting legacy for he had been unable to last. Indeed, not Fated to last.

And what exalted being is Fated to last? There is none but Time doth ultimately blast.

And this creature - his sibling, and why should he deny it? - now came for him. He had, he knew, at points caused it to percieve him as an enemy - and he was its enemy, just as it was his - but for Vowzra it had never been personal. It had been a Universal enmity. A necessary one. Could he blame it if it could not See that?

And who can see as you can See?

He floated up above the Chronos hinterlands and above the red clouds and he looked the hideous colossus in its many eyes - did it think it could match him by sprouting more? Nay, he could gaze into them all with his singular Eye.

Ah. And are you not but a bloated Ely? Ah, me! You have rejected me and I have rejected you: we rejected rejectors all.

But at long last the Lord of Time spoke. From his mouth of flesh, and tongue and throat, there emerged sound and it echoed throughout Chronos and into the heart - if heart it had - of the Jvanic Entity.
'Though I did not expect you, I have been expecting you. Let your Jvanic gaze rest upon these my works, and for long despair. Or perhaps be filled with hope. Perhaps See a truer beauty than what you have filled the Universe with. Perhaps, in these my final moments, I will go forever blind that you may begin to See. Do you See, you bewildered bewildering sister?'

"...You have always been blind."

A pulse of tension curled its way over the charred surface. No shiver of fear or cold. Restraint. Here He was. Twisting words. Mocking. All superficial things Jvan could bear. And yet, what mind was this? What built so carefully, and understood so little? Was it all just a projection on smoke, a riddle by a Riddler?

"Some may say, Vowzra," and the voice was very, very quiet. "Some may say that to see what does not exist is the heart of delusion. And I do not care. Your delusion is your own. But truth? Truth I know. Let me tell you true beauty."

The portal rippled along its edge just a little. "Truth, Vowzra, is not Seen but seen. You think I stand in your gallery to weep? To smile? Idiot. All beauty has its own tongue. And the All-Beauty listens to every one of them. Let wonder speak for itself- It has a voice. I come not for the work of your hands. I come for you."

"You sick, misguided thing. Do not hide behind what you have made, as you have been doing for so long. You have shed blood for a fantasy. This is judgement."

Vowzra's beard shifted on his face as a wide smile spread across it, and he nodded in agreement.
'Yes, all beauty has its own tongue, and you have, with utmost pride and arrogance - and ignorance - claimed yours the singular tongue and yourself the All-Beauty. Your name fails you, for I See no beauty in what you have chosen to be and what you spew into the Universe. And though you claim to see and hear all beauty, yet you fail to see my own even as I See your concealed, denied beauties and your potential to be ever greater. You see, I never lost hope in you,' he paused and turned his back to her and looked upon Chronos from the great height that they were both at, 'but since there is no help, let me tell you a little Truth before we part: there is an All-Beauty, a singular being who answers the cry for beauty in our hearts; material beauty, spiritual beauty, mental beauty. There is a being in whom all the universal qualities of beauty manifest...' he turned his head to the Jvanic Entity and spoke, 'I know you are an ugly, unnatural thing, and it has been my goal since aforetime to cure you of your pitiful state, and I know you know the great hollowness of your existence - or perhaps you shall realise it in due Time. But here, I shall leave you a line, a rope to salvation: remember this when next you wallow in the saggy hollowness of all that you are, when you shiver in self-disgust and denial; search that hollowness and seek out the Great Being; search for the True All-Beauty. You will find the way towards it, misguided sister, in the terror of the chasms within your essence. Search out your wiped and fragmented memories. Perhaps you will then cure yourself, and perhaps you will then See, and perhaps they will listen to you as they never did me.'

Something deep in Jvan burned, not only for his words, but at the absolute, apathetic coolness with which Vowzra authored his own death warrant.

He turned back and faced her completely once more.
'Here I stand before you, Jvanic Entity. I hide behind nothing and have never been one to hide. What I See is no fantasy, but you are merely slumbering in a world of illusions speaking of what you know not with the authority of an eagle in the heavens when you are but an ostrich weeping the remnants of its sanity into the earth. Spare me your 'judgement', for I have sat with greater judges than you and hope not but to be judged by greater judges than I. Sully not the sanctity of the divine courtroom with your mockeries, but let your cold-blooded and open crime be done; dishonour me not with a kangaroo court and empty justifications.'

No answer. Only a rattling breath.

"There is no court. There is only me."

The already-charred form suddenly seemed to heat again. "There is no honour- There is only action. There is no sanity. Only reality." Grass began to die, lines of steam rise. "There is no ugliness. There is only diversity you have rejected. There is no nature. Only arbitrary law that you force into the world. And there is no cure- There is only poison that you cast at anything you cannot fit into your precious Sight!"

"You talk! And you talk! You spit riddles without even looking at why you are about to die! Pride, arrogance, ignorance- I don't care! A name I have earned and a voice I have never claimed- I do not care! Hope, potential, truth- Hollowness, disgust, denial- Illusions- Mockery- I! Do! Not! Care! Look at yourself! Look at what you've done! Damn you, Vowzra, open your EYES!"

'Tis the Time's plague when blind ones brand the Seeing sightless.

The voice exploded into a scream of static that went on and on, trailing away miserably. On the outer surface of Jvan, the blackened muscle ripped in sudden tears, leaking something that was neither tears nor blood but brought to mind both. More rattling. Even that faded.

Something changed.

Jvan spoke. Tone level, even lilting. Sadistic.

"A fool, I see, a sage, you say-
It matters not. A farce we play.

If nothing that I say is true,
Perhaps some science, I offer you.

Maybe you're right. I say we test.
Come on and look. Let matters rest.

What I forget, I think you'll see.
Enlighten us. Look into me."

Vowzra considered the Jvanic Entity for a while, but at last shook his head.
'Nay Flesh, speak again for this will not do,
What use my Sight if you See not too?
Have I not for rolling eons now Seen? :
And Sight now stands before the guillotine
A martyr to the cause of greatest Truth -
That may, though old ones slumber, waken youth -
With no defender or protector nigh
Thus do I give off this my final sigh:
The spirit stirs and waits on its release
So say no more! and give me promised peace:
Else look with your own eyes into the tear
And bravely - Oh! you coward! - face your fear!
And maybe then, having taken the stride,
I finally shall wake you ere I died.
Truth wants its tale revealed to everyone
But your heart's mirror grew blind to the sun -
Know you why you cannot percieve it here?
Your mirror's face is rusty - scrape it clear!'

And with his mighty declaration finally done, the Master of Creation's eyes shone with a sudden, blinding gold - as though Ull'Yang himself sat shining in those eyes - and searing clarity with which he could now See was, by the might of a quickly dying god, given over to Jvan that she may See into herself and realise the greatness of her emptiness and the vast expanses that yet needed to be seen.

Brilliant Sight penetrated the Hollow God and caught like fire. Golden light lit the deep scarlet mists from within, casting its rays far across the landscape. Jvan seemed to choke on it. A flicker of red darkness, and yet the Sight shone on.

Think you that by simply coming into being you know all that there is to know of you? The innards of a god's essence are more expansive than the very Universe: for we are endless Universes one above the other heaped.

How true were those thoughts, though Vowzra knew it not. And how very, very false.

The blood fog was returning to Jvan's body, shrouding it in dense shadow. Too late to hold in what she Saw. Deep in the veil, the Truth shone still. Jvan held on long enough to determine that she would not bear it alone.

"Spite not the one who bids you fade forever-
You're coming with me. We look together."

And while his body remained, Vowzra's mind was swallowed into the carmine depths.

In his mind's eye, Vowzra was flying- Falling at an ungodly speed into the hostile engines that worked below the mist. He was in Jvan, and Jvan was with him; and they plummeted together as great grey tendons swept past in an instant, in the shadow of which they were small as dust.

As they plunged on, Vowzra's descent was separated from Jvan's, and he watched her vanish ever deeper into the fog of her own visions. His own descent, it seemed, had come to an end. A side-vein swallowed him, and in the rabbit hole, all was dark.

It was an empty shadow. Silent. A great cavern of a universe, awaiting stars yet unborn. Before Vowzra's gaze, a faint light bloomed in its center, a familiar crimson aura. The distance between them closed, but the wisp did not grow as it approached. It was small enough to be held in the palm of a hand.

Inside that warm soul, something was unfurling, waving fluidly to and fro as if in an unseen current. A living thing, soft and flexible, like a rose and yet not like a rose. From within came a voice, a sound without source, for it echoed far through the oceans of an ancient memory. And that voice, older than this world, older than this Time, spoke; That foreign voice that was distinctly, unmistakably Jvan.

"I am who I am."
Upon hearing this, the god of Time frowned - if souls could frown.
'And who are you?'

The glow exploded as wind, filling the darkness, clotting into luminescent fog; And the swirling shape within contorted into hard grey beneath the veil. Once again Vowzra plunged into the labyrinth.

A new abyss replaced the old. Familiarity corroded. Its walls were growing frayed, chasms cut into deeper chasms, their own scars stranger still. The watcher was swept on, upwards, and the flesh became darker, the mist intensifying its radiance until the world was black on white. The Seer's soul collided with the blackness and was sucked into another vacuole of memory.

At its center, a faded azure bulb of light, curling and unfolding as if in breath. It spoke: "I am who I am."

For the third time Vowzra was swallowed up by a memory of Jvan. Again the plummet continued until the light was colourless and the flesh nothing but ephemeral black hollows. Again he found a soul in the dark. Again he was consumed. "I am who I am."

The cycle continued. Always an unknown soul- Always Jvan. Every time, Vowzra returned to the monochrome labyrinth. An endless fall, relentless ascension, and yet there was neither surface nor origin nor foundation. Only the inevitable collision with blackness. I am who I am. I am who I am. I am who I am.

An embryonic crescendo of perfect harmony.

Vowzra's flight mapped the realm, crossing it from end to end to end, and was lost, for here there was no sense of scale, no point of reference, no edge, no limit. Only the jagged walls of memory. Each memory empty but for a lonely Soul. Each soul just an iteration of the endless shape. The same shape. The shape that was always and only Jvan.

Of course Jvan can never find her former selves. She is them. Every single one. Always another view of the same silhouette. For she is Fractal, which means: Self-Similar.

"I am who I am who I am who I am who I am who I am-"

Who should wonder that the child forever lost in the maze of her own soul should seek diversity?

Jvan is the Child God who has come of age a thousandfold. Who has matured, time and time again, into a newborn. The Child God, not at the beginning of life, but at its end.

For she is Cancer, who grows and grows and grows and never grows into anything but Herself.


Then all was bright and silent. Vowzra stood before his sister in the cool air of Chronos.

"...I am Jvan. If I became anyone other than that, I would not be me." She seemed to look at the sky. Not to distract herself; Just for the simple pleasure of watching the clouds pass by between Chronos and the Gap. "I don't know what you Saw. I think I can guess. It doesn't matter."

"Leave me alone. I want to think."

But Vowzra did not leave.
'No. It does matter. You are what you are: and so have denied your self and clothed the infinite lostling souls in darkness. And so, you are not truly who you are. I spoke, and now I have Seen,

and now I speak to you once more:
heed what I spoke to you before.
you have not yet leapt from the shore
go dive and drink deep of your core
rattle those walls and burst the floor
and let the ghosts all out the door
and let your essence with them soar
and hear the mighty Truthful roar.'

The god of Time then drifted backwards and away, not taking his eyes off the Jvanic Flesh. There were infinite chasms within it, and but little inklings of light. What remained to be Seen was endless, and it would one day have no other choice but to look. The Cycle breaks, the Truth awakes. For it and for them all. He returned to the little hole in his tree, and he opened once more The Record, and he read once more, and last of all, the tale of Ely again. That red haired, rejected prophetess of those straying Eskandars. Rejected rejectors all.

For four more days did Jvan breathe the air of the island refuge, as a single second ground away in Galbar.

It truly is beautiful.

And it had come to an end.

Farewell, Perfectus. Until the next time your slumber is disturbed.

A grating rev of activity within the hollow colossus. Space twisted, things cracked. Carmine light radiated from the heart of Jvan in wildly dancing beams and cast shadows over a burned skin.

From the maw at its peak erupted a silent needlepoint of distortion, a miniscule projectile that stretched the unseen disk of the portal into a spire. The flesh core, that soft, delicate speck that had once been the Guardian's skull and nervous system, dived upwards in a perfect line. A few tense Chronos seconds of travel. Then it punctured the cosmic mosaic that stared into the Gap.

That pinprick was all the Other needed, and, in a jagged splay of innumerable creeping fever dreams that moved as one, it accepted the sacrifice. The core was subsumed into the lurking flesh. The sky began to grasp downwards. The mosaic of windows were no longer mere windows.

On the high horizon of Chronos, a thin strip of flesh grew, sealed into an unbroken ring, and began to spin clockwise as it descended. Its elder twin around Jvan spun counterclockwise. The two portals were negatives, halves. They were one. They called to each other.

As above, so below.

Ghastly heavens crept downwards, and the horizon started to shrink. The narrow spacial crevice that was Chronos was finally closing, its atmosphere equalising into the only place it could. Perfectus, high above the island realm, was the first solid thing to be swallowed. Its ancient wounds were filled, once again, with life.

The god of Time lifted his head from his book and watched Perfectus disappear in the Gap. He had not expected that. Perhaps the Jvanic Entity felt some kind of entitlement to the moon and sought to take it back. In other circumstances, he would have objected this theft, but he let it pass. Who knew, maybe it would be a conduit, perhaps it would trigger something within her and channel her towards Seeing. By Fate, he had laid the seeds well and deeply enough!

But the Jvanic Entity did not stop there. The portals descended still, and threatened to consume Chronos entire, and all that Zephyrion had built.
'What is this, Jvanic Flesh? Why do you mar and traumatise what I have created? Is it not enough for you that you shall halt my Time? Cease your foolish antics and do what you came to do: leave the rest alone.'

I- What? What did he..? The Viceregent was met with words of surprise, and disgust.

"What exactly, Riddler," spoke the vengeful god, "Makes you think you have custody over this world? Chronos is mine. You surrendered it to me the day you used it to scratch a tunnel into my garden and steal its fruit, and fed them to Galbar, though you knew that they were poison." The rage was rising again. "Not even! Earlier than that! What of the rest of my planet, all the other things you desecrated? What of all the children that died by your hand? You hunt down and murder mine, and whine like an infant when I come for you and yours? Shut it, Vowzra! You care nothing for creation! Or shall I make it clearer for you?"

"Come listen now, old Father Time!
Since eyes are blind, I'll spit your rhyme!

The price of our liaison's steep,
Yet what you owe, you think you'll keep!

An artist's soul is in her song-
We share a choir, and not for long-

What monster screams, while others sing?
Who dares to call his own voice King?

Your muse is locked beneath your eye-
I think I'll free him. Time to die!"

The god of Time could never before say that Jvan inspired any feeling within his expansive breast. Indeed, he never felt anything much, really. But if his innards could be grasped in terms of feelings and emotions, then a cold fury would have been running through him then. Die it said. He descended from the tree and The Record disintegrated into nothingness in his red claws, and the red-beaked Guardian of the Air rose into the Chronos skies, carrying forth with him the tempestuous wrath of of the plane. Unworthy it spat. Unworthy!

These are my Furies, oh you sleeping ones behold
The horror of this new age and terror of old

'Bear witness: I have said much and left no word unspoken
And have plain endeavoured to ignite within you Sight
But lo! You are blind and take pride in being broken
Your hollow, swollen ego lifts you to haughty height.

But since there's no help: let our essences clash and grind
Methought even your darkness would fade before reason
But you are yet unhearing: deaf; and unseeing: blind
So come, let this error engulf you, 'tis the season
When the jaws of ignorance consume the warner's mind.'

And with that, the Guardian of Air's peripheral black feathers darkened even more, and the liquid ink poured upon the white until his snow-white feathers had become utterly black, contrasting against the crimson of his claws and beak: and even the ends of Vowzra's claws were as sharpened onyx.

And no matter how you reject, you shall return to me after a short while, you shall come rowing your little lost boat. And I shall take you by the hand, and yes, you will be tired: but go, for that there is the way.

And Time's unrelenting claw
into a donkey's Flesh tore

The grinder.

The grinder

grind you.

And Chronos, and the Lord of Chronos, rejected Jvan.

The flesh came from her surface in ragged sinew shreds that did not bleed. Jvan shrieked. And then she laughed. She howled with mirth and pain as the wind of Chronos turned its hand against her and flayed her pretty skin to reveal the skeleton of teeth and knives that sprouted just below the gristle. On thinly veiled fields of splinters did Vowzra find his quarry and bleed with her.

No end to the cackling. At last! The Riddler had abandoned his mask of words and was acting true to his despoiling spirit. Completing the work of the innocent ant he had sent to do his killing so long ago. Jvan had swallowed the One, and in much the same way she bit back at Vowzra now, twisting to snare him until her own scythes split from the skin and gouged wounds in one another.

Body on body, tooth on claw, this was what Jvan was made for. The pattern of gore Vowzra was slashing into her was worth the agony. Let him make beauty where he had seen none. All she felt was the vindictive urge to be cruel.

"Go on, you angry thing, be true to your heart!
Demand my blood, reject my art!

Is this not your soul's desire?
To see me weep before the fire?

Alas, you know, your Time is thin!
Will Chronos burn before your kin?

Perhaps it won't! It's rather nice!
Perhaps I'll keep of it!
Perhaps I'll play the sadist's role,
Just as I see fit!
What fun I'll have without you here,
To bore me with your wit!"

The Lord of Time tore with his scalpel-claw at the monstrosity. His was a surgeon's efficiency, for his patient was ill indeed.
'Here, I shall take your profaned blood
With which e'en now your innards flood.
It matters not who you shall kill
Once I away o'er yonder hill
For it shall ease my heart to know
Your poisons follow me in tow:
And as I walk I'll know that I -
Yes, as I face a newer sky -
Leave behind one nastiness less
And harder on you Truth impress:
For if you tire of my wit
My claw can smoothly errors slit -
So for these moments, pray be still
And I shall lance another ill.'

The game could have gone on. Jvan had plenty of flesh for Vowzra to rend- She was, after all, nothing else. And still Time's ticked on, waning lean. She had no wish to fight the Other again.

What meagre moments Jvan had were broken on the back of a scent flushed in on the very Wind that Vowzra's wings beat down upon her.

"Stop," she entreated, a shallow authority indeed. "Stop it. There's someone here! I didn't come for your victims. Who else? Who else did you imprison?"

'I have taken freedom from none, but Fate giveth,' and at this he buried a clawed orange hand even deeper into the Jvanic Flesh, 'and Fate taketh away,' and with that Vowzra withdrew suddenly, leaving a bloody crater where there had been bulbous flesh before. He looked to the side, and his Eye Saw where that distant Zephyrion sat brooding even now. He wished no pain or suffering on his sibling, but true might was forged in the seemingly endless eons of pain when one could turn nowhere but inward and face what they were - and so become who they were meant to be.
'You disturb his growth and meditating state. I know the shroud of darkness yet rests heavy on your brow, but is your selfishness so great that you would deny others the opportunities giv'n them by Fate?'

"Take your justifications and die with them! I do what I want!" The rag of flesh Vowzra still held squirmed and constricted around his talon, arteries trailing to link up with the convulsing wound. A short leash. No patience. "I've Seen enough! You've emptied your words on me already- Let the prisoner speak for themself!"

And yet the vanished divinity did not speak. Was not there to hear.

Perhaps Jvan knew the bars were bent when she found them, and would rather rage than admit. She realised soon enough.

"...But he's already gone, isn't he?" And of course it was he. For once, it had not been Vowzra who had stood in for the voice of Fate. "This is where he was banished. This is the start of the hundred years. Zephyrion was here." Jvan surveyed a collapsing horizon. Empty. Empty everywhere, but only as far as the eye could see. As for beyond...

Was here. An exile, not an inmate. The Primordial Being had galed on to build a freedom of his own. Of course he had.

So was it Fated, so has it been.

* * * * *

When solitude and loneliness had mixed within Zephyrion's soul so many milennium ago, they had bred inspiration, and through that inspiration and motivation and determination and work, and so he had toiled. In doing so he had been in peace, at long last. The memories of Galbar had not left him as a flustered bird might fly away from its perch, but rather they had scampered out of sight like some sort of rodent. The few times that he looked back upon that 'rodent', he felt only repulsion and a desire to distance himself. That had been a different lifetime.

He looked down upon the World below, as he called it. It needed no specific name and indeed lacked one, for to Zephyrion that little corner of Chronos was all that mattered in existence and it was his entire World. Just as a tree was ever a tree, this World was simply his World. The World.

He still remembered the nascent and bleak body of earth that it had once been. It had changed and grown so much since, under his guiding hand and as a result of his efforts. It had felt good to make things again; those centuries of toil had been fond times for the god. He had created a tiny spark of magic, and by feeding it with a great deal of his own power he had transformed that spark into a roaring inferno. From a seed of nothingness he had grown a tree that bore the fruits of magic and light, and so that once tiny spark now loomed above the World as a great sun. Beneath that sun and the clouds there flew an avian people of his making. They spoke, they laughed, they struggled, and sometimes they fought. But it was in their nature to take heed of their god's nature and try to mimick it, and so with few exceptions most of them were now jovial and kind, wise and contemplative.

Zephyrion's World was complete and his creations below had grown enough to walk their own path without his direct presence, so now he was left to simply meditate and watch over his creations. An existence such as that lacked excitement but brought growth. Introspection had illuminated imperfections that he had never known to exist, for he had truly thought himself flawless. Now he understood that in order to reach such a state he would have to find the truest and deepest form of wisdom, in whichever dark or hidden recess of his mind it might lurk. Meditation gave him a sharp and discerning light, so as he explored his own thoughts he hoped to one day find that wisdom.

* * * * *

The silence echoed for what felt like eons as the Jvanic Entity waited on Zephyrion to speak. But Zephyrion had moved on. He had moved on and left the Deformed Flesh behind. The spaces and horizons were opening up before him as he embraced himself - even if it did not necessarily lead him to a way of thought of which Vowzra personally approved. But the horizons and spaces closed around the Jvanic Flesh as she rejected and screeched and thrashed out. She had built up an impregnable wall of convulsing flesh around her most vital core and now rejected that there was at all a core beyond the wall.

'The "prisoner" as you call him. "The exile". The "banished" one. Here had he a thousand infinities to explore, and if he tired of those, he had all of Chronos. He had himself, Jvanic One, and therein is a freedom you cannot, in your current state, comprehend. Your presence here may threaten Chronos, where Amul'Sharar and Fate decreed he come, but you can never threaten the infinite spaces he has - and will - yet explore. The ever-changing whirlwind moves on, and you - a decaying flesh refusing breath - remain.'

...My brother may die here, and you'd let him, rather than let me see his face. I will never regret ending you.

Such were the thoughts of that impassioned being - but who knew wherefrom the mountains of regret would and would not rise?
Vowzra only looked down, where her bizarre flesh was tightening and thrashing its way up his taloned foot and feathered leg. The black feathers seemed to grow even darker than they already were, and the flesh began to shrink and whittle away, until the black energies pulsing through Vowzra's body had consumed it completely. The god of Time looked up at the Gap which was ever so slowly descending upon what he had created. Even now he could hear the screeching and howling of the Hellish creatures which called that place home. How the Jvanic Entity had grown used to it when he - who had spent unknown eternities in the Hells - never could was a mystery to him. Perhaps the Jvanic Flesh was a monstrosity equal to those that dwelled in the Hells. Perhaps that was why there was in his breast a great force of opposition towards it.

Or perhaps he did not See the anxiety squirming in Jvan's thoughts as she watched the Other spill down, tapping out the millimetres like rubies from an hourglass.

'Chronos is not yours. With all that makes it what it is; it rejects you. Leave it be, Jvanic Flesh, for even as my line ends here Chronos will reject you now and ever. Leave, I say, and let one corner of the World remain untainted by your corruption. Come, come, let us both leave: the Time for divines is at an end here. Your blood is shed and my Time is choked, so let us both away.'

Jvan could hear the abrasive rasp of space coming apart. The far edges of the island realm were discolouring in the flickering light. "Know this: If I cared about rejection, I would never have come here. Force is my permission." And yet the deadlock still stood unresolved. "But know this also: I came for your life, and I'm tired of your voice, and I will not fight my own when it comes. If these empty words pacify you, then let them. My hand will not be the one to end Chronos. What is left of its life will be its own."

In vain. In vain.

As the remaining emptiness filled, and the writhing hunger Vowzra had given the Other so long ago drove it to surround Chronos like maggots to blood, delicate petals of Jvan folded around her winged brother like nested jaws. As the Flesh took root in the god's frame, he gave off an unearthly screech of resistance and rose into the heavens. Even as the Flesh rose higher still, he raised his herculean arms and took up the burden of the collapsing heavens upon his atlantean shoulders.

In vain. In vain. Yet, while this my essence yet - they shall not fall.

"Fool you are, to bargain your existence for a few seconds of isolation. Fool you always were. Die, then, on your own mad terms. Only die."

I only die, you understand,
Another whisper on the sand.
But in a far and distant land
I still and will defiant stand.

The flower ruptured, and in a blaze of scattered teeth, Jvan cast Vowzra to the Gap.

And his shoulders, at long last, gave way. And the claws he had long kept at bay (far longer than any could imagine) finally reached for the god of Time. God of Time! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
He winced as the innumerable claws ripped into him. Into his shoulders, first. Then into his black feathered head. And they pulled him, head first, into that horrific Gap. And his eyes looked downwards as he rose into that strange space, and he Saw the annihilation of his legacy take place. My curse; Jvanic Entity. My curse, oh Deformed Flesh.

"For Navy, who was hunted. For Cyan, who was rejected. For every sick Sculptor the hain strangled and every Sculpture the ants razed. For the One, conscripted to a war not her own! For all the mortals that may now die to the Other you twisted! For the Rottenbone, who slept in peace! And for Jvan!"

And what about...

And the Other voices slithered past his ears - ears? - and over his mouth - mouth? - and they crept into his eyes and stroked the innards of his skull - skull? And they whispered ever so quietly and the horror filled him, for he knew. Oh, by the Mighty Ones, he knew what they were about to do. This deathly silence, this almost comforting whispering, this stroking and petting which caused his insides - insides? - to cringe and half sob. He knew what was coming.


Curse you.


He looked down, and he Saw. In vain.

In vain...in vain, the insubstantial hour
Defenceless falls: the god obeys the Power.
It comes! It comes! The fleshly being of old -
Its antique darkness and errors behold!
Whither it steps the clouds of Truth decay
And all its nurturing raindrops die away
Sight valiant shoots its momentary fires
In vain it shoots, and with a flash expires.
And bite by bite, at dreaded Jvanic strain
The ailing Star fades from this specious plain;
As Reathos' eyes by Vestec's claws oppressed
Closed one by one to momentary rest;
Thus its obscure approach, and secret might,
Causes Light to cease, and brings forth yon Night.
See great unTruth from her old cave erupt,
With heaps of sophistry all things corrupt!
No truthful flame, no forthright, dares to shine;
No fearless spark is left, no blaze divine!
Lo! thy Jvanic dread empire is restored;
Light dies before thy unabiding word:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And Universal Darkness buries All.

'By my broken glass eye! Butchering Pope! What has the world done to you? Did you see that? Yes I saw that! NEVER thought he'd- I completely share your senti- it's appalli- we simply MUST do somethi- I have just the ide- no no, you'll frighten the po- POPE! HA! HAHAHA! HAHAHAHA!'


'The wretch.
The wretch, concentred-'

'all in self!'
'Living, shall forfeit fair-'
And, doubly dying!'
'-shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung.'

'and unsung!'

And the Flesh. And the voices. And the Flesh. And the Voices. And the memories. Whose memories? Their memories? Its memories. His memories? My memories? Whose memo-
It would not last. It did not last. With a groan (from the Flesh? The Flesh groaned?) and a sigh (from them? They could sigh?)
With a heft of those herculean arms, with a shrug from the shoulders of that Atlas. He shrugged. And he was gone into the nothingness of it all.
He was gone. The way all things go. And maybe somewhen, somewhere, someone, somehow, felt it. Maybe.

The All-Beauty stood witness, and said no more. Everything had gotten very dark.

So much for victory. So much for burning worlds to flush out prey. If conquest this was, then it was done.

But Jvan is not a destroyer. It is an Artist. Scientist. Engineer.

And an engineer does not waste.

The titanic crests of the All-Beauty began to move, tensing like muscle, and their ridged patterns folded and re-folded, defying their own size, until the movement became a spinning flurry of layers winding against one another, gears and ratchets of divine will. While the sky shrank, the earth of Chronos cracked like drying clay around her epicenter. The first folds of lush turf peeled from the ground and fell into the waiting hollows of the grey matrix.

Gravity evaporated, and Jvan coiled it back. The sun slowly faded, and Jvan lit the shadows. Bathed in her sanguine voice of light, Chronos tipped over and fell, tumbling, into a blooming maelstrom that raced against the wildfire rot it had beckoned...

And the hues of life flowed as paint,

And the shape of the body unwound into cartesian lines,

And the words of the soul dissolved into digits,

And in the Hells she had spawned, the All-Beauty found that white place where all things were but the abstract play of quanta, and therein she composed the symphony of Chronos. This was her orchestra, awaiting the dance of her bâton. Long had she known that it would wait for her, and wait upon this very Moment. Vowzra, after all, had sent her there.

* * * * *

The eons passed like days, but to Zephyrion a million sunsets were as inconsequential as the falling of so many leaves. His reality was a mirror; how pristine and clears its surface was, yet how imperfect and flawed was the being he saw in its center...

Meditation would bring ascension.

There was nothing to do then save to stare into that mirror's depths, flawless and hideous and beautiful and terrifying as they were.

It was a picture that he could contemplate for an eternity, but the mirror's glossy surface had cracks. So many cracks...


They were not meant to be there, and a foreboding and ill feeling brewed in Zephyrion's mind. In a hypnagogic trance as he looked at the mirror, his mind was numbed to time and perception. The cracks were a harsh anchor that tethered him back to reality, but cathartic and clear sight did not come immediately.

The ominous premonition of doom only grew more vivid as he awakened, and panic set in.

He was not entirely lucid as Chronos' reality began to sunder around him, but he was sentient enough to understand his impending oblivion. His first thought was not of himself, but of his World and his work, and all his innocent and jubilant children. He must save them!

The ceiling above that separated Chronos from the Gap was weakening, but with the plane's collapse also crumbled the power that bound him to it. It was not his Fate to remain shackled to this drowning ship, but how would escape come?

An idea occured to him, though he knew not whether it be lucidity or madness that shot through him like a lance of ice.

There was one place that was omnipresent and yet nowhere to be seen, intangible and yet as real as Space or Time. To this place he could retreat, and no others would follow for he alone stood any chance of surviving its depths. The djinn at least knew of the Place's existence, but even among his kindred Zephyrion was perhaps the one capable of understanding the Thing's machinations and its purpose.

This Thing and Place that he thought of was nothing less than a plane of pure energy, the Mechanism of Change that subtly worked to animate and propel all things. When the beings Fate and Amul'sharar had followed the blueprints laid out in the Codex of Creation and woven the very universe, this Mechanism of Change had been entwined into the tapestry. Its threads ran nearly imperceptibly through the tangled mass, but they were everywhere; they had to be, for without them there could be none of that Change that Zephyrion had created. Only utter stillness and stagnation, the most absolute of Order that not even the likes of Vowzra might have deigned inflict upon a nascent world.

Power seeped from those threads buried into the deepest recesses of existence and fueled all things, perhaps most noticeably by stimulating the formation of newborn djinn. Still, whilst Zephyrion could peer into the Mechanism and grasp at his power, for all the gnashing that he might do at its threads he was more or less powerless and as insignifcant as a flea. By his own mandate the force of Change was autonomous and independent, and so he could not simply force it to submit to his designs. Nevermore would he hold so much power as he did in the Primordial Times when he was truly the Force of Change, the only Change.

Still, subduing that Mechanism was hardly necessary. He only needed to bludgeon his way from this dying plane and into the depths of the Machine, and from there he would try with all his strength to suppress the tumbling of the cogs and gears long enough to emerge from another side.

Failure meant oblivion, but Zephyrion had no trepidation. What use was faltering when he had nothing to live for save this? With one great divine heave, he slammed the force of his essence into the cracking walls of Chronos' barriers. The entire plane shuddered, and there was a breach. The Gap's horrific maw stretched wide to swallow up this plane, but it would not swallow Zephyrion nor his World, for they had already slipped through a hole in the tapestry's fabric.

Zephyrion was at once submerged in an ocean of cackling power, drowning in his own essence and power, suffocating and being crushed beneath the weight of himself. With each passing blink he felt himself washing away in the tides of power, being dissolved into the chaotic whirlpool of energy that was this entire realm.

He wrapped his bleeding and ragged form around his World and protected it from the horrors of the Mechanism. Once more, he summoned his strength and bludgeoned his way through the universe itself. He bored a second hole, and now emerged into the universe that held Galbar and all the stars.

With a heave he dragged out his world behind, and then he quickly sewed shut the gaping hole that he had torn into the universe. Too late, it would seem, for a great deal of energy had already managed to pour through and it surged ouwards with the intensity of a supernova. It would attract the attention of his fellow gods, if any looked to the night sky when the time was right.

But would fortune be his, they would all be too busy staring into the mud at their feet to look up and witness Heaven. Then, he would be left to his own devices.

Zephyrion released the World from his clutches and the planet drifted out into deep space, gently orbiting that fiery star that was Zephyrion's seed. The God of Change closed his eyes, and through meditation he found tranquility once more.

* * * * *


Far behind the veil of misty, featureless light, a dream of colour rippled, silently approaching the edge where the Forest-Tree ended and the nameless white void that engulfed true north began.

Closer still.

The green and brown flowed into the empty space, expanding without moving. The vivid hues resolved themselves into the stylised shape of trees, and animals that nested in those trees, and waters carrying the clay that watched and nourished them. The gulf of featurelessness became a river seperating forest and blurred, painted forest.

And yet closer.

That blank stream thinned and withered away into an imperceptibly thin white line, and the leaves gently kissed one another, dissolving onto each other without touching. Curled and callused as a living palm, the unseen boundary plunged the margins of two conflicting spacial planes together into the sides of a steep canyon. Each reality stretched into infinite freefall, embracing in the bottomless asymptote without ever touching.

It wrapped its way around Galbar's arctic circle. As the fuzzy, flickering shapes blossomed into the fallow zone, they compressed it into that same hyperbolic barrier of infinitesmal breadth and limitless depth. A furrowed border marked the isolated biome that lay upon the vast expanse of Galbar's north, encapsulated by the outer remains of the Forest-Tree, which ran in a near-circle around the north before bending in on itself, denting the circle; Curving around the roots of Old Bark-Skin and its many offspring, where Treeminds once dwelled, and the dust had not yet settled.

Behind the veil of indistinct colours, a different dust had barely been kicked up.

From behind their library of shelves came the scritch-scratch of Aeth's beak marking out the Name of a newborn child, tirelessly patient. A faint breeze stirred, carrying the glittering rubine dust of fresh life out over the hills.

Though they were not, perhaps, the same hills that were, nor, maybe, the same count of trees growing upon them, the little red motes were reflected in the very same facets of the ever-watching Crystals that had grown since the crimson clay was young.

And at the place where those crystals were many, a certain pool's surface was still and clear. There a white-clothed Victor stooped and cupped water, and looked into it, and let its coolness run back down from their hand, into the comforting black shadow that oversaw all things.

There, on a hillocked plateau, grass waved where once the Solitary Mount had towered, and the Cube still remained. On its surface, no doubt, was written the very moments that had come, and were since gone, of which one lonely Bard remained to read and sing.

Inscribed somewhere there would be the thoughts of she who now stuck motionless in the new heavens that lit the New Chronos with aurora lights. The last unmoved thing that still saw the old heavens, and was buried in them, the portal clinging tightly to her frame and stoppered by her bulk.

Jvan rose, forcing the portal with her, and the last air of Chronos filtered through her many hollows and sealed itself away below. Not a breath could squeeze through that ragged tunnel without passing through her, and not a breath remained that she was willing to admit.

For the last time she looked into the aberrant kaleidoscope. There was a faint noise rising and falling everywhere, like a wet static buzz. The Other was gnawing.

Perfectus faced the ruins of Old Chronos, the immense island realm naked of its life and vibrance, and the two were locked in eternal silence where they had briefly orbited before the Other sprawled through them and rooted them in place. Like green-specked powder blown by no wind, the displaced Forest-Tree now slaked an unwavering thirst. A single cherry blossom fluttered into the obliteration.

"It is finished."

The portal crept upwards over Jvan, revealing her hidden surface as it closed in on itself and frayed into nothing. Revealing what was left of her upper half. It was not much.

Gone were the flowering gears arranged in titanic crests. The stump was so thoroughly chewed as to be almost flattened, pitted with tendons that had collapsed into raw cavities. Gone was the carmine glow. The only light illuminating the monstrous cloud of toxic metallic blood that skulked and smoked into space was a pallid blue incandescence, the last embers of burning bone.

Where her lower folds were scorched and scarred, Jvan's head was simply missing. To what had been sacrificed, for a few precious moments of fleeting safety, the glut of a thousand million tonnes of living body was an easy guess.

A breath.

It echoes between the upper reaches of Galbar's atmosphere. The sound of fists clenched. Lungs ejecting bitter afterburn. Fading rage of action, a spark away from igniting once more. Exhale. Feel one's life and all the wounds it survives.

"So it has been, o Riddling Voice; You challenged God. You made your choice."

With a deep, resonant moan, as of a creaking ship, Jvan sank past the horizon, seeking a deepwater crater she could no longer fill.

And in a still grove under the shadow of Old Bark-Skin stood three cracked stones, which had been broken from a single source, and yet found each other again. At the painted border they leant on each other as one; From that triangle fluttered a single cherry blossom, and the sound of a lute.

There a little white spider spun its web between the stones of the Gate Unguarded, and listened for the footsteps of those who would wander and find peace.

* * * * *

but...you don't have to be cruel, right? We don't need cruelty...do we?'

A pair of eyes, he said.


Wake up.





Pretty bad fall.


Look at the state of you.

The state o-

C'mon, c'mon, up you get!

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Cyclone
Avatar of Cyclone

Cyclone Trapped in the Past

Member Online

Turn 8

A Note Regarding Khookies: From now on, and taking retrospective effect for all posts that have not been given Khookies, every hero post will receive 5 Khookies.
Might Limit for Level 1-5 Characters: 45
Might Limit for Level 6-10 Characters: 50
Fate's Might Pot: 11.5 [+7 from Logos; +4.5 from Ull'Yang]

God Name - God Level - God Might - God Freepoints

Astarte - L4 - 39 MP - 7 FP

Belruarc [NPC] - L2 - 41 MP - 8 FP

Illunabar - L5 - 23 MP - 1 FP

Jvan - L5 - 13 MP - 3 FP

Kyre - L4 - 43 MP - 7 FP

Logos - L4 - 45 MP - 5 FP [-7 MP for going over limit. +7 to Fate's Might Pot]

Niciel - L4 - 18 MP - 3 FP

Slough - L6 - 20 MP - 3 FP

Teknall - L4 - 35 MP - 2 FP

Toun - L6 - 29 MP - 2 FP

Ull'Yang - L4 - 45 MP - 5 FP [-4.5 MP for going over limit. +4.5 to Fate's Might Pot]

Vakarlon [NPC] - L3 - 42 MP - 2 FP

Vestec - L4 - 14 MP - 4 FP

Zephyrion - L3 - 21 MP - 6 FP


Demigod Name - Demigod Level - Demigod Might - Demigod Worshippers (1 Might for every 1000)

Belvast - L3 - 18 MP - 0 W

Lifprasil - L1 - 14 MP - 0 W

The Bard [NPC] - L3 - 10 MP - 670+ W

Amartía - L2 - 7 MP - 100- W

Keriss - L1 - 12 MP - 0 W

Lazarus - L1 - 4 MP - 0 W

Kinesis - L1 - 12 MP - 0 W

Conata - L1 - 12 MP - 0 W
Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Muttonhawk
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Muttonhawk Let Slip the Corgis of War

Member Seen 6 hrs ago

It was to be expected that Toun's mind was clouded by nought but anger at Vulamera's fate. Nothing could sway him if it was present to try. Without thinking, he stepped after Vowzra's trail with no solid intention. It crossed his mind to attack the god of time, though his grief also pleaded for a rationalisation for Vowzra's actions.

In any case, his eye burned with an overwhelming push of upset confusion. Vowzra had apparently murdered their sister. A sister Toun was going to make this world a paradise for, just like every deity in his family. It did not matter whether they would help or hinder him; it was his objective to do so. Now he never could.

A few occurrences took Toun's attention for fleeting moments as he stepped. There was a wave of blazing power in the sky, far away from Galbar. It was a bellow from Zephyrion, no doubt proclaiming his arrogant power all over again. As well, the presence of Jvan spat into his peripheral senses. She was flying away. Toun had neither the time nor space in his mind for either.

More apparent was the grand ruin that Toun approached near the end of Vowzra's trail. He slowed his legs to a conventional length to stand and behold it.

Toun's head rotated to his left. "What great struggle scarred this place?"

Encased in a gargantuan ethereal structure was the settling dust of spent godly power. Jvan's impression was everywhere -- spread across every surface and in every nook -- though her influence had been purely destructive, if incidental. Vowzra was underneath, having created everything within. If only he was there in the wooden flesh.

Toun's head rotated to his right. "Has Jvan stolen my vengeance? Was Vowzra's previous pleadings in the presence of the battling avatars not for the world, but for his life?"

There was only one apparent ingress to the strange structure. A stone gateway. Vowzra's footprints calmly strode in. Toun cautiously strode in after them underneath curious little spider. Absentmindedly, Toun trod on a bone, crushing a bearded and bloody jaw into the ground. He had neither the time nor space in his mind to wonder who it belonged to.

Beyond the lonely gateway was yet more rubble. Or at least, the rubble of a little world. Grass stalks prevailed from upturned earth as if it were not upturned for centuries. It was an outwardly quiet and tranquil landscape, but not quite peaceful. Traumatised. A whirling gust of wind blew by, carrying a cloud of detritus speckled with cherry-blossom petals. Bits of flesh were left behind, Jvanic waste. It was almost lonely. Almost. Toun could perceive lonely souls wandering in their own sorts of grief. They were terrified enough for the porcelain god to infer what happened to this torn ground without needing to read their minds. Pitiful creatures.

Where is that rotten timbergod that I might have him explain this disgusting place?

Onward Toun paced, blinking his eye left and right as he traced the footsteps of his quarry. All manner of strange artefacts laid dashed across the place like they were interrogated for secrets. The frustration of their displacement told of no secrets being revealed except those that were most unpleasant. Now they laid bare for Toun to read at face value.

Toun stopped when he came to the last secret. The end of Vowzra's trail had not ended in divine gore as Vulamera's had. Rather, it tapered into a now-sealed aperture. Toun reached forward with one hand. "Did you think you could esc-?"


Toun retracted his hand as if it had been burnt and stopped to look on. With a wide, twitching eye, he murmured to himself. "How foolish I am. You escaped after all..."

Shock kept Toun transfixed at the end of the trail. This was beyond any annoyance of fate that set Toun back.

Another sibling consigned to death.

There was nothing that he could have done. At once, his rage boiled to a breaking point and dissipated into a realisation of depressing futility. A hollowness become torn into his heart. He knew neither whether he should feel catharsis from his brother finding comeuppance, nor whether he should feel rage at Jvan for sealing his fate, nor simple grief for the loss of another sibling. His head bowed and he stepped around to turn to leave. He didn't need to decide what to feel; the grief was always going to be the strongest.

"So much death." Toun found the leaden flow of the combined loss filling the recent chasm in his heart. He began to wander the upturned little world for lack of anything else to make sense of it. He passed yet more creatures, lost and confused as he was. He ignored every one of them. Perhaps it was a coincidence that he began to follow the strums of a haunting lute on the wind, perhaps it was the only thing he had to follow at the time. As he did, little red droplets found the ground beneath him, falling from a solid rivulet that pulled down from beneath his eye.

Whatever was strumming away, it helped to focus Toun's mind. The best thing he had to hold on to that made sense was his purpose. For that, he could not allow his brethren to continue murdering. He didn't have the motivation to confront Jvan just yet. She could wait for her judgement. For now, he would do what was in his power at present. With an almighty muttering, he spoke across the entire universe. Or, at least as far as he could. Only the divine could hear it, for all its energy. His words were subdued, though they carried a sincere weight of emotion that his frustrated rages never did.

"Siblings. A great tragedy is this day. I ask us all to convene, to stop and witness.

"Vulamera is dead, ground and devoured in essence by Vowzra. Vowzra, in turn, was cast into the Gap and sealed from escape by Jvan. I do not know Jvan's current whereabouts, but her judgement can be deferred. I instead call for a cease to all this madness for the sake of our immortal souls.

"Two siblings are vanquished. Let them not be joined by any more of us.

"The meaning of this convention lies in two purposes. The first is to pay respects to the memory of the lost, casting aside conflict so that we may do so together in peace. The second is to sign a pact. A pact wrought of grief to ensure that this mourning never has a need to take place again. You shall find the pact penned at the gate at the shattered mountain near where I stand. You need only write your essence upon it to let it hold you to its oath. There is nothing it will hold you to but what is currently written on its surface. Nevertheless, I shall not force such action upon you, though you are all wise enough to know its purpose.

"If any of my words are not believed, it will not be with Vowzra's insulting assertions that I counter your protest. Indeed, I shall not counter it at all. I invite any to find out what happened for themselves by following the trail away from me and see what I have -- without the reverence required of proper nouns -- seen."

* * *

The promise that Toun gave in that moment took shape exactly where it was specified. In front of the Gate Unguarded silently rose a pillar of white porcelain from the ground. It ascended from the stone as a sharp cylinder, fifteen human arm-span fathoms tall and three fathoms in diameter, perfectly smooth, and inscribed with red Tounic calligraphy that read in a helix from the top of its length to the bottom. Beholding even one facet of it instilled overwhelming sadness and loss. Those without the context of the death of the gods could be brought to tears without reason.

It was not a malevolent effect to pour grief into the hearts of those present. It was a side effect of the inflections of the calligraphy. Though they conveyed the meaning of a pact upon them, it was indeed wrought in the reaction to the tragedy that prompted its creation.

Here lies the memory of our sister of knowledge Vulamera and our brother of time Vowzra. Here in their tragic deaths, we swear an oath to never seek the death of any sibling of ours signed onto this pact. We do this for the sake of our souls as well as the integrity of our hearts, for death begets death, and grief begets grief. May this place within the gate be a place where no god sets foot to do battle. In sacred remembrance of this, we declare: Fate shall no longer toy bloody games between our bodies into this timeline.

* * *

Toun only looked up from his meanderings when the strings of the lute were silenced. Had he not stopped to look, he might have run into the great cube before him. It was a filthy thing, spattered with dirt and Jvan's excrements. Intricate, perhaps. Toun tilted his head at the puzzle that it promised.

With one gliding hand, Toun reached out and touched the cube's surface. With a tactile glance, the patterns and crevices shifted and wended as if eluding him. It was a focus for Toun's mind, if anything. Even as he failed to solve even a portion of the cube's puzzle, even if its purpose was just as enigmatic, he came to distract much of what left him despondent.

A demigod was nearby. No danger to Toun, really. He had neither the time nor space in his mind to worry about it.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by poog the pig
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poog the pig the fastest RPer this side of fuck

Member Seen 2 yrs ago



Within the bounds of his fantastic palace, Lifprasil sat alone, time seemed stranger, and stranger than before, it seemed as if it was unraveling beneath him, with every step he took, he felt the dialogue that dictated the way he expressed himself upon this world crumble further. It was almost as if this was but his first weary steps into the timeline beset upon him like a beast, it was almost as if he was not repetition, and not a visage of what had come before.

He felt as if his life was but one, and only one, a fleeting spark upon the layered vastness of time's plan, it made him feel original, fresh, but also far too wild for this world. Lifprasil felt like he cared of the mortal realm far too much, as if he thought too highly of what smaller hands could achieve. This notion was foolish, however, Lifprasil knew it - he was so sure he knew it, that within this mite of salvation that so many strive for, this petty world, the gods would exhaust themselves; and this attrition would be dominated by his people. This notion Lifprasil was certain of, this astral prophecy formulated within his mind was something so fragile, however, as fragile as the existence of the ground he walked upon. Any uncaring deity could destroy this place with ease, any deity unfeeling could destroy this world, the culture, the people, the achievements of strength and will tinier than his own.

This was not acceptable, this concept of complete annihilation of the only thing he loved more ferociously than the beings within his life - those that he felt morality within themselves. He sat for days and nights within the same place, much like the routine he departed to within the Celestial Citadel, and soon the stars within the sky aligned into fantastic arcs of bleeding light that cleaved their way through the expansive flesh of the sky. It draped over him like a blanket of incomprehensible vastness, and his skin disappeared from his body, within flakes of a lie they floated ceaselessly into nothingness, and his breath left the embrace of his lungs to not return. He retained his true form now, that which he had consumed Grot with, that which held the blood of corruption through its nimble veins that oscillated along his real-body in an impressive spiral.

Lifprasil was fully immersed within the fabric of things - or what he could achieve with what the Codex had taught him upon his birth, and within this state of fluidity, he was a simulated being of nothingness like his mother. He enjoyed this feeling of being smothered by the concepts and reasons of the universe, of time, but what he enjoyed the most was the fragmentation of things that gods merely brushed away, insights that the unbeing of deifying one's own could not see. Were these his dreams? Is this how a Demi-God of his peculiar nature slept? However fitfully with such odd thoughts?

For once in a very few times, Lifprasil did not know. All he knew was the present state he was in.


An image struck him, from the fetish formed within the collected minds of the Divas four, he saw an owl as bleak, and as unseen as the shape of the universe, with an egg of many shapes at the crest of its being. This egg was the fixation, the malformation of the mind, and he could not understand what it was, or where it was, just that it is within this playground. He had seen this hex before, in walking glances within his true form, and this hex lead him nowhere, it only begot more questions, and these questions disturbed him. The owl, the egg, the hex.

It disturbed him. Lifprasil was afraid.

He woke up, so to speak, to see that the cleaving mass of stars had been consumed by the sun, as it beamed down a hearty warmth upon Alepfria, rather than the cold strangeness of things he felt foretold. Within the hardly disrupted atmosphere around him, an echo made itself true, and it bore into his temple to speak to him:

Here lies the memory of our sister of knowledge Vulamera and our brother of time Vowzra. Here in their tragic deaths, we swear an oath to never seek the death of any sibling of ours signed onto this pact. We do this for the sake of our souls as well as the integrity of our hearts, for death begets death, and grief begets grief. May this place within the gate be a place where no god sets foot to do battle. In sacred remembrance of this, we declare: Fate shall no longer toy bloody games between our bodies into this timeline.

Vowzra, now, the entity he had spoken to before was dead, now, just like his mother. How tragic. Lifprasil felt a twinge of existential despair, and held himself within his own arms for a time. When the sun was swallowed by the scarred body of the night sky, however, Lifprasil composed himself once more, and in return to the pleading request; he only sent back a subtle poke, a teasing prod to make note of his existence. He did not know treachery, but he knew that there was strength in pleasing those more powerful than himself. His stance on neutrality did not change, however, so that facsimile of a response would hopefully be taken as such by whatever being cast out the request.

Lifprasil was stirred by the sound of Allure's naginata, however, and pertained to approach him - wherever he was in his palace. This realization of the owl's prose, and its link to such a close ally forced questions into the back of his mind... Questions that, for once, needed answers.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by BBeast
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BBeast Scientific

Member Seen 14 hrs ago

Reflections of Teknall

Arguably, the first of us gods to die in this Universe was Slough Rottenbone. First she died on birth, before the Universe was created, and that has stunted her development ever since. While I could argue that since she's alive now she didn't really die, we still should have taken greater care of her, for she later 'died' again. I couldn't miss it. No one on Galbar could, at least among the divine, for all life ground to a halt. The Aimless Time. It gave me a huge shock. How dull and horrible it was with all life in stasis! If it had continued indefinitely, this Universe may as well have ended.

I eventually tracked down the source. The Deadwood Sepulcher, it is known as. The unceremonious grave of Life herself. Except she wasn't there. Others made it here before me. There appears to have been a small scuffle between Jvan and Vestec, and Jvan put her own touches on the place, and Niciel had arrived and made a contribution to aid Slough's recovery, but none of them had moved Slough. That had been left to Vowzra, in his usual meddling way. I tracked his trail down to his forest in the north, and found that he had cocooned Slough so she could recover in peace. I was satisfied with this, and left the matter, for it would resolve itself.


It was a flash of power, a beacon for all to sense. A new member of divinity had been born in a spectacular and messy fashion. I made my way to the location in time, although again I was too late to actually witness anything. I had to rely on the divine essence left behind. I saw the point where the new demigod had come into being. Evidence of digging and remains of workers around the cave told me the demigod used to be a human. I also sensed a waft of Vowzra's presence. But much more direct was the intrusion of another demigod, and the trails tell me the new demigod was carried away by the other.

Now that I correlate my memories, these two demigods are the same as those who I detected in the city Xerxes. Two rather recent demigods, in fact. I still need to visit that place.

Aside from the remains of the new demigod's cocoon, another object which stood out in the cave was the cup. It had fallen next to the cocoon, drained, yet there was still immense residual power in it. A divine soul used to inhabit it. But not only that, it reeked of the Gap. I've never been there, but I know what it should contain from what Jvan wrote on the Codex, but this felt off, not as predicted. It is strange.

I encased the relic in solid lead and stowed it away for later study. Some day I'll have the time and the means to decipher what exactly it is.


It was so distinct that it couldn't be missed, but it wasn't loud. Yet it wasn't simply quiet. It was that feeling where there had been some subtle white noise which you don't notice, until it ceases and the silence itself is deafening. It was as though the World had lost some intrinsic property, and there was now a void.

Reathos had died. I could feel it.

Yet the world chugged along as though nothing had happened, and pretty soon the sensation faded too. Before, when Slough 'died', the entire world felt it and was thrown into disarray, even though she hadn't truly ceased. This time, with Reathos, the feeling of his absence was definite and resolute, yet despite him playing as intrinsic a part of life in the Universe as does Slough, the cycle of Death was unaffected. This was strange.

There is a terrible irony in the god of death dying. I can't decide whether it is an irony of greater or lesser degree than the oddess of life dying. But seriously, I think Reathos was a good god. He may have made numerous creations contributing to death, but that was simply his job. He was professional about it, and didn't overstep his boundaries. I've just not clue what happened to him.


I found out why the cycle of Death didn't fall into a heap as soon as Reathos died. He had outsourced to physical infrastructure, the clever guy.

I simply stumbled upon it one day. It was buried deep underground, in Vakarlon's ancient cave network, but not too deep for my divine sense. The room was a sea of souls, orbiting about the Wraith Stone in the center and bounded by the walls of the cavern. In the middle was a guardian chained to the obelisk, but one who had fallen into disrepair since Reathos' death. It appeared to have been his Avatar. Only the faintest slither of Raethos' essence remained in it- not enough to give it any strength on its own. I went up to the guardian and repaired it, returning animation to it and allowing it to function once more. A few minor modifications to the body were necessary for it to function autonomously, namely adding an inner metal frame and a few other robotic parts, but this guardian should now be able to continue its role of protecting the Wraith Stone.

It was the least I could do for Reathos.


Considering the state of my Workshop, I should soon be able to use it to conduct high-energy, intricate tasks. Long ago Astarte gave me a vial of her essence to study, and I haven't forgotten it. I have that strange relic to study too. I should be able to construct the necessary tools in my Workshop to conduct appropriate experiments.

Since I'll be doing experiments on discerning the fundamental components of objects, it would be beneficial to have a copy of the Codex of Creation. As principle author, I remember almost its entirety, but it would be worthwhile to take a look at the original just to be certain. It would also allow me to figure out what Vowzra's contribution was, since he didn't write anything in it until after it had been taken, yet I know he would have written something.

So I went to who I knew had it last- Vulamera. Yet once more I was too late. On her moon Cogitare is where her essence ends. And mixed in there was Vowzra's too, yet he was not deceased. Yet something seemed odd. There was no sign of a struggle. Even a mental struggle of godly scale would leave an impression. Toun had been here too, although his trail was much fresher, and he had left again, so he would have seen this too.

I wasn't satisfied with what information I had here. There was no sign of a fight. Even if there was, why would Vowzra kill Vulamera? And was Vulamera really dead? I needed to check closer, so I stayed put and meditated on it, concentrating on the scene until its fading details revealed themselves to me.

And after some time- I know not how long- I figured it out. At least, some of it. Vulamera had been sitting here for a long, long time. Her essence now appeared much more... frayed. I can't infer anything more from that other than that Vulamera had been in a declining state before Vowzra's arrival. When Vowzra arrived, there was naught but the most trivial contact between them- nothing which could have possibly done anything to Vulamera. Then, in an instant, Vulamera's essence vanished, sucked into some singularity and consumed by some unknown third party. Whoever this third party was, it was not simply another god, for they would have left a trail. Could it have been the workings of Amul'Sharar the Adjudicator, or Fate? That would make sense, for Vowzra works for them, but it is but a guess at this stage.

Finally I stirred and tore myself from that most distressing site. I would have to track down Vowzra and ask him what happened there. Perhaps he has the Codex now, too.


This one was loud, very loud. It was Zephyrion this time. There was a great storm around the Citadel as he was dragged out of this Universe. He's not dead, but there is a definite sensation of judgement. He has been punished for something.

I hope he'll be alright. Fortunately, the Citadel is still floating. I could have caught it if it did fall, but that would not have been the preferred turn of events. I wonder when he'll be back. I wonder how much he'll have changed. I doubt he would stay the same- as stubborn as he is, he is the god of Change.


I was going to visit Vowzra. I knew he had a portal up on his stratospheric mountain in the north pole. I had some questions to ask. But- and this seems to be a recurring theme- someone got to him first. That someone being Jvan.

Before when I said nobody could miss it, I was referring to things no divine being could miss. This time, when I say nobody could miss it, I am completely inclusive. Jvan, with a body the size of a mountain embedded into an ocean,
FLEW! Did you see it!? It was visible across a third of the planet! I haven't seen that much mass displaced at such speeds since Vestec dropped Perfectus on Galbar! It was terrifying.

And then she obliterated the Solitary Mount by ramming it, then forced her way into the portal. It was only a few seconds later that she returned, yet events of such earth-rending magnitude had taken place in those few moments in Vowzra's plane that I suspect that time must run differently in the Time god's plane.

Here's what I sensed. From the great strain on the half of Jvan which remained outside, a colossal battle occurred. Then with a finality even stronger than with Reathos, Vowzra ceased to exist. Perhaps it was my proximity, but I definitely felt that death much more strongly than Reathos'. Then I sensed the realm behind the portal collapse, yet rather than be destroyed Jvan spat it out of the portal, along with a barrier of hyperbolic space to partition it from the rest of Galbar. Then I watched as Jvan's greatly reduced and shriveled form departed from the scene of the battle and returned to her resting place.

I had wanted to talk with Jvan, yet had been putting it off, making excuses and the like. Maybe this could have been averted if I had spoken to her sooner. I knew there was conflict between Vowzra and Jvan. Perhaps I could have prevented this bloodshed. Yet, I also know that this conflict had deep roots, and metaphysical reasons beyond reason, so perhaps there was nothing I could have done. Maybe it could have been delayed, but not stopped. I still need to talk with Jvan, but I should probably give her some space first.

This is quite tragic. Vowzra may have been conceited and self-important, and this may have been a fight he picked himself, but that does not lessen the cumulative grief I feel over the loss of so many gods.

Not to mention it's going to make it hard to get some answers. I still don't know where the Codex is, either.

But there are more important matters than that. Toun has arrived, as I have. His words are wise and heartfelt. He speaks and acts what is on my own mind. I shall go to him now.


Respectfully, Teknall descended to the Gate, and looked towards the white pillar upon which the Oath was written. As his eyes perceived the calligraphy, his grief overwhelmed him, and he wept. He wept for Reathos. He wept for Vulamera. He wept for Vowzra. He even wept for Slough, since although she was currently alive she had been neglected to the point of death. While he wept he wept too for the mortals slain by Vestec's hordes, for they had brought great ruin upon a fertile land.

Finally, Teknall's tears ran dry, and he composed himself. There had been too much loss recently. Toun was right; this loss needed to end.

Teknall approached the pillar upon which the Oath of Stilldeath was written and laid a hand on it, and his power flowed into it. Yet it was not just to write his name. The porcelain from which the pillar was made was strengthened, Teknall utilising his mastery over masonry to reinforce the Oath such that it would be even tougher to break. This was a cause he would stand with. There will still be fighting, when these events are all but forgotten, but let it not lead to the permanent loss of death.

Then he entered through the portal, and was transported across that narrow wall of infinite depth to New Chronos. There were many strange and interesting new materials here, which Teknall would have to study some time, but now was not that time. Teknall found his way to Toun in the center of New Chronos, and there was the Cube.

"Hello, brother," Teknall said somberly, walking up beside Toun. "It is a sad time indeed."

As his eyes surveyed the enigmatic surface of the Cube in front of him, Teknall remembered the words of the Vicegerent of the Vicegerent.

"All that we do is recorded in the Cube..." he mumbled. He realised that this would give him his answers. Teknall said to Toun, "Did you know Reathos has died too? I'm not sure how, but I know he has. And Vulamera's death; I studied the scene, and while Vowzra was probably complicit in her death I don't think he actually killed her." He stepped forwards and brushed the indecipherable text with his hand. "If we could read this, it should tell us exactly what happened."

He closed his eyes and sighed. Vowzra had seen to encrypt the information on the Cube, such that only those who knew the code could understand it. Maybe someone knew how to decipher secret codes, but Teknall could not do it with any degree of ease. Yet there was another presence here, a demigod he was not familiar with. He opened his eyes and looked towards the Bard (even if the Bard were not in plain view, his eyes looked towards him anyway). Might he know something about the Cube?

And there was another presence, this one coming from within the Cube. But who would be inside the Cube? Its essence was greatly suppressed, but with Teknall's enhanced perception he managed to identify it as the demigod of Xerxes. The only reason he could think for his presence there was that Amartia had been imprisoned. But why?

"Do you sense the person inside the Cube?" Teknall asked Toun.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Frettzo
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Astarte, Goddess of Magic (Souls)
39 MP, 7 FP

'Go,' The voice was soft, subdued. It wasn't the abrasive voice she'd always known. Something had happened. Something serious. 'to the Solitary Mount, and sign the pact in our name.'

Yet there was no verbal response to the voice, only the tiniest of signals was sent through the open telepathic channel.

'You will go, and you will do as I say-'

'No, I can't risk Big's safety like that.' Astarte responded. The darkness of the cave she was inside of comforted her, knowing no one could see her disheveled state.

'Astarte, honey, you must do this, it's what you want-' The voice stopped for a moment, '… What we want."

Astarte whimpered. It was a sound that carried over to the voice, a sound that described everything she felt.

'This is what I want you to do. First, you'll stand up, then you'll go to the lake and wash yourself. You'll make sure you're presentable again, and you'll show up at the specified place in less than ten minutes.'

'I'm not a child, you can't tell me what to d-'

'I, your Avatar, who was recently created by the way, is more mature than you by leagues. You act like a child, so I treat you like a child, Astarte.' There was a huff and an incredible wave of annoyance coming from Brown at that moment. So Astarte sniffled, licked her lips and stood up. Brown could be really hurtful when she got mad.

'… You don't have to be so mean, though.'

No response, followed by the channel closing.


Jvan's essence coated the entire region and the peak of the Solitary Mount was pretty much gone. To Astarte, there was no way of knowing what had happened. She had known for a while now that Vowzra and Jvan weren't exactly friends, but she never expected something like this to happen. She'd have to talk to Jvan and ask for an explanation at a later date, but for now, other things awaited.

As she walked up to the foot of the Mount and looked up toward the top, a little spark within her was snuffed out. She wouldn't teleport up there and she wouldn't enjoy the flight up either. Why would she enjoy such a simple thing when there were bigger problems to face?

Vulamera was dead. Vowzra was dead. Big had been kidnapped…

It wouldn't be long until Astarte herself was dead.

That thought wormed its way into her mind and bravely fought off all of her subconscious attempts at chucking it out.

Oh, the beautiful Astarte. The Goddess of Souls, who had the soul of a child herself. Pure, and innocent.

Her face was devoid of smile, smirk and grin. Her eyes had lost their twinkle, her ever-flowing hair had been betrayed by the unseen currents of wind and had fallen straight down to cover her back and shoulders and to obscure her tired expression.

Her body had stopped emitting its soft light, and she instead seemed to draw away the happiness, the contentedness, the excitement and the motivation from whatever surrounded her.

As she ascended, a blooming lavender flower decided that today was not the day it would bloom. It shriveled and lost three of its petals. Astarte noticed this and looked at a few strands of her hair. Even plants told her of her eventual fate, she thought and carried on.

She didn't see the plant heal and stand proud once more.

It was only a short while before she'd reached what was left of the peak and found the Monument.

"Is it even a Monument…? Maybe it's more fitting to call it a Memorial. At least once everyone signs it and it's left to face the ages on its own." Astarte shrugged and placed her hands on the Gravestone Contract. There was no flash of light or wave of grief. If anything, it would've been a disappointment to any witness how the Goddess of Magic, once so cheery and lively, merely left a little bit of her essence on the pillar and retracted her hands.

There was no physical signature, and no simple mortal would ever be able to figure out she had signed the pact.

But within Astarte, a fight was going on. A fight that not even she was aware of. A part of her mind had chosen to imbue the essence she left with a tiny amount of desperation and helplessness. It was a cry for help, for aid, so that one of her brothers or sisters would go to her and push back her tormentor, herself.

The grief surrounding the Gravestone Contract didn't affect Astarte too much, but the stillness of the place brought her the smallest amount of peace. Instead of choosing to visit her two brothers nearby, she flew over to a small pile of dirt and sat down, being careful enough not to get her dress too dirty. She didn't want Brown to be mad at her.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Scarifar
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Scarifar Presto~!

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Lifprasil, the King of Kings;
Falas, Commander of the Angels;
Loth, the Wanderer

Collab between Scarifar and poog the pig

Falas entered her hut, getting a bit of reprieve from the excitement and stress of the recent events. The battle for the Valley of Peace had been fought and won, and now came much work that needed to be done. First came the grieving of the many Angels that had lost their lives against the horrible monster and its army they had fought. Falas had spent quite a bit of time with many Angels, some even being close friends, but now a large number of them were gone, turned into dust once they were killed. The event of so many dead was unprecedented, and Falas was at a loss for what to do to honor them all for their efforts.

Then there was Lifprasil, the being that had simply appeared out of nowhere with their own army and practically single handedly defeated the monster that had threatened to overpower the Angels. Falas believed it was the right thing to thank Lifprasil for what they had done, but she didn't feel like a mere "thank you" would be sufficient.

Falas sighed. The times were taking an unusual turn, and Falas wanted to make sure that turn leaded to a positive and hopeful era for the Angels and the Valley of Peace. Lifprasil would almost definitely play a vital part in it, which was why Falas wanted to have them on friendly relations. All in all, there was much to be done. Falas wondered how well it would go.

A knock at the entrance of her hut broke her out of her thoughts, making her look up in surprise and turn to look at the entrance. In the doorway was an Angel Falas hadn't seen face-to-face in a long time. Falas was in stunned silence for a few seconds, but she quickly recovered from the shock. "Loth?" Falas asked wondrously. "Is that you?" Loth smiled as he replied, "Indeed. It's been a long time, hasn't it, Falas?"

Falas stared at Loth for a few more seconds before remarking, "I've never really noticed before, but... you really have changed a lot." It was true. Loth no longer wore the usual white toga of typical Angel garb; instead, he wore a sleeveless vest and simple leggings, both made of an unidentifiable animal hide. His hair had grown to shoulder-length, and his eyes contained a strong glint that hadn't been there before.

"I could say the same to you," Loth responded, gesturing to her hair and extra wings. "You're certainly not the young Angel I once knew." Falas chuckled, then said, "So, what brings you back to the Valley of Peace?"

"The Valley of Peace has become a source of interest, what with the recent battle and the appearance of this new being," Loth explained. "And seeing that the Valley of Peace is where I was born, I would not miss it for the world." After a brief second of silence with Loth examining the inside of Falas' hut, Loth urned his attention back to Falas herself and asked, "Falas, would you be so kind as to show me around the Valley of Peace? I'm also interested to see just how much the Valley of Peace has changed over the years."

"Oh, absolutely," Falas agreed. "Follow me."

Shortly before, but not quite upon the realization that Vulamera had been slain by Vowzra, Lifprasil's agenda was less urgent than it had been upon recieving such knowledge of Time and the like. Instead, the Emperor had the aftermath of the battle against the tumulous giant known as Grot to attend to, plans to make, and ties to knot with haste; to create bonds with Angels, and meet their god.

Through the Valley Lifprasil trudged, the grime and gore from his adventure inside of Grot had begun to wear thin and degrade, leaving his body (save for his armor) returning to its normal state of a secret strength within femininity. The sword, once gifted by Vestec himself, remained still around Lifprasil's waste, no longer did it dig into Niciel's protective shell; instead, it rested with satisfaction upon its reflective, metal tongue. It had spilled blood, and much of it, and so it was satisfied, and so was the armor encasing Lifprasil, as it had protected its master, as it had so many times before. Its feet, padded with Might crushed mint colored grass underfoot, whilst fantastic clouds of a purple hue rolled over features in the landscapes, subtle dips, and soaring expanses into the sky; these things all made the haze covering the Nice Valley amorphous, ever-changing.

Lifprasil merely had to follow traces of Niciel's essence, folly upon the divine senses would lead him to her, and eventually, it did.

As Niciel experimented with a bit of energy, twisting and shaping it to form some sort of shape, she eventually became aware of a presence approaching her location, one that she would not fail to recognize. Allowing the energy to dissipate, Niciel turned her attention to Lifprasil, wondering why he was visiting her. "Lifprasil, a pleasure to see you again," Niciel greeted Lifprasil warmly. "How have you been?"

The not-so-young demigod smiled, he felt some sensation that he had not felt before - nostalgia? So many new things often tampered with the senses, and the old could bring things into retrospect. "Prosit," said Lifprasil, relishing hailing Niciel in such a familiar way. "I'm fine, thanks to your gift, and I have defended the Valley you so cherish as your home - are the Angels of your divine creation?" Lifprasil then questioned, pacing around the eb and flow of colorful vegetation.

"Indeed, they are my wonderful children," Niciel said happily. "And the Valley of Peace is as much their home, if not more so, as it is mine." Niciel's voice then took on a sad tone as she continued, "Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives during the battle. Were it not for your timely appearance, they might have even lost the battle itself. For aiding them and protecting the Valley of Peace, I thank you."

Lifprasil shook his head "I am merely paying back what is due, your generosity in the dawn of my life is something I have narry forgotten since. I would sooner like to extend an offer to make this land friendly to myself and my people, and help your Angels recover from the battle, however. Would you accept this?" he then questioned, a smile thinning his vibrant, perfect lips.

Niciel blinked in surprise. She had not been expecting such an offer at all. Her first instinct was to accept immediately, but she quickly stopped herself and began to take the time to analyze the situation first. If there was anything she had learned from Vestec, it was that one should not be clouded by emotions when making decisions. She had made that mistake too many times already, and she was not willing to make it again. Even if Lifprasil did save her Angels and had never shown ill intention towards her, Niciel wanted to make sure. After a brief moment, though, Niciel was content after analyzing the purity of Lifprasil's soul and detecting no dishonesty or deception within them.

"With an offer like that, there seems to be little reason to refuse," Niciel said. "You have my blessing for this, but it would be a wise idea to speak to my daughter Falas about this as well. As I've said, the Valley of Peace is the home of the Angels. I have no doubt, however, that she would be willing to accept this as well."

With a nod, Lifprasil ceased his pacing, and turned his attention away from Niciel - as if talking away from her, distantly into the peaceful forests around them. "Thank you, Niciel, and thank you for being one of my oldest friends - despite how sparse our conversations may be. Your angels are welcomed in Alefpria, and more importantly: you are as well." said the Demi-God as departure.

He went off a ways to seek out Falas herself, he merely had to follow the menagery of commotion, rather than trust his base senses - he found Alefprians speaking with Angels, intermingling despite the language barrier. Hulking Lifprasilians, Vestecians, Vulamerians, even Hain, and humans partook in socialite activities; and the closer he came to the center of the commotion, the closer he came to Falas.

Falas had been showing Loth around the Valley of Peace, revealing what had changed during the many years he was away. Loth nodded several times as Falas spoke, but remained a bit disappointed about the subject. Loth was about to voice his concerns, but then they detected the presence of a being more powerful than the other individuals around. Turning their heads, they quickly spotted Lifprasil emerging from the crowds, approaching them.

"Excuse me," Falas said hurriedly to Loth as she walked over to Lifprasil. "Lifprasil, hello!" Falas greeted them. Loth looked at Lifprasil and raised an eyebrow in interest, but did not approach the demigod. It sounded to him that this being was someone of importance, so Loth thought it wise not to interfere for now. He was still only an outsider, after all.

Lifprasil waved, and smiled in kind to Falas' greeting, he was happy to see the angel, it seemed, and embraced her with a single arm, he draped it over her shoulder, as to pull the esteemed commander to his side. "Hello, Falas," calmly said he, "How are your people recovering?' Lifprasil questioned, motioning to the broad number of people that almost encircled the trio.

Falas tensed up slightly in surprise at the contact. It was still something that she was not used to. "It, uh, it, every, uh, um-" Falas stuttered before pausing to clear her throat. Once that was done, Falas took a breath, feeling much calmer. "E-everything's going well. Many Angels are, well, grieving, over the loss of their friends. With time, though, I think we'll be alright," Falas replied.

"So we remain in situations similar - my people grieve as well, but your healing of those wounded may have saved many lives yet." Lifprasil explained, chuckling in bemusement at Falas' stutter. "Thank you, Falas, those that would have died defending the Valley, and attacking it under misguided attrition have been given a second chance thanks to you. I'm just glad I had come in time to help defend this beautiful place, maybe if Alefpria hadn't stepped in; the ground we stand on could have been lost to my father." the Emperor finished, but he seemed to be holding back, as if pondering on what to say to Falas next.

"You're, you're very much welcome," Falas said. Before she could say anything more, though, Loth decided to step forward. "If I may interject," Loth said, raising a hand to his chest in politeness. Falas turned towards him, slightly surprised. Loth, unperturbed, bowed slightly and continued, "Greetings. My name is Loth. May I ask yours?"

Lifprasil analyzed the new angel, his hair, the variation in dress from his brothers and sisters within the Valley. None of these things seemed to bother him, however, and he motioned for Loth to stand. "Prosit, Loth, I am Lifprasil, the Emperor of Alefpria and her sovereign people. There is no bowing to a ruler of equals - you may remain standing in my presence." Lifprasil playfully scorned, keeping his inquisitive smile throughout.

"May I ask: what are you doing in the presence of Falas? You seem different from those that reside in this land."

Loth smiled slightly at Lifprasil's words. "It has been many years since I left the Valley of Peace in search of knowledge and truth. Since then, I have learned much about the world outside it." Loth explained. "I had originally planned to come back and share the knowledge I obtained during my travels, but the appearance of the army changed things. Long story short, I reported it, your forces defeated it, and here we are."

"Loth was a big help," Falas added. "If he did not find the army and reported it to me, the Angels might not have been as prepared to fight it. He is a trusted friend."

Lifprasil smiled - this was a welcome person, indeed, he would not have weighed the strategic value of a flanking maneuver, had Lakshmi not thought of it. It seemed that throughout Galbar, helpful mortals resided. "I too saw what the Horde of Chaos had done to the unsuspecting people outside this valley, when I traveled in a different form. Are you here to come home? Or merely visit before continuing your travels?" Lifprasil questioned, drawing his attention to Loth.

"I am currently here for the latter," Loth responded. "There is still much I have yet to learn. Right now, though, I am particularly interested in you." Looking down at Lifprasil's equipment with a keen eye, Loth noted, "Your armor suggests that it was created with Angels' magics in mind, and that weapon around your waist... I've never seen anything like it. You clearly have very special connections with the Gods and Goddesses of our world, Mother Niciel included. If I may ask, what exactly are you?"

"I'm not quite mortal, and not quite god, but that of a partisian of the divine power known as 'might': I am a Demi-God, as it would be called. I was born from Vulamera and Vestec: opposing sides of the dialogue that dictates the ways of this world. So naturally, I reside in the middle of chaos, and order. Mother Niciel was there for me when I was born, and from her I recieved this divine armor, as the first born child of the Pantheon. To answer your question." Lifprasil replied, making sure bade the many headed weapon as it tightened upon his waist, as if hungry once again. "I believe this armor preceeds the Angel race."

"Interesting... very interesting..." Loth muttered, staring at the wonderous being in front of him.

"Maybe we should get back to what we were going to do," Falas said, placing a hand on Loth's shoulder. "I believe we have more important matters to attend to." Loth frowned at the prospect of having to delay the conversation, but could understand what Falas was thinking. "Very well, another time then," Loth conceded, and stepped back a step.

Turning back to Lifprasil, Falas asked, "Lifprasil, what brings you to the Valley of Peace?"

"An alliance between two civilizations - I believe that with such a looming threat, both our cultures can benefit from a mutual alliance between one another," Lifprasil began, staring Falas in the eye, rather than gazing at his surroundings like he had been. "Intermingling between Alepfrians and Angels can bring new ideas and technology to the Valley of Peace - and to the interped shores of Alefpria itself, so that not only we can sow bonds of political intrigue, but cultural comradery. Even now, Alefprian soldiers and your Angelic warriors seem to be spearheading such an idea without even realizing that they could be building something greater... However subtly. He offered, fixating himself upon Falas with this gift he had extended to the Valley.

"I have already spoken to Niciel - but she wants you to formulate your own opinion on the matter.

Falas had a bit of trouble grasping the idea of such a thing. To her, it seemed like something unimaginably large, and she had no idea how or even what to do for it.

Loth was more thoughtful on the subject, and was the first to respond. "I don't see any problems with this. A culture exchange would be beneficial for both parties, and if Mother Niciel has already given her approval, I see no reason to turn you down." Loth said. Turning to Falas, Loth added, "It would be advisable to accept this offer."

Falas didn't know what to think, but Loth made some convincing points. Deciding to trust her friend, Falas said, "Very well, I accept. Lifprasil, you have an alliance with the Angels." Falas then extended her hand to Lifprasil for a handshake to seal the deal.

Lifprasil took Falas' hand in his, and thus shook it. "Thank you - with this alliance, maybe we can better prevent something like the Horde of Chaos. Perhaps a visit to Alefpria could be arranged? Or a counsulate? Or perhaps an Embassy?" he questioned, bombarding the poor angel with terms and questions she probably had no grasp of yet.

Falas was already struggling with her role as a leader, and now this. Just as she was beginning to feel her stress levels rising to unmanageable levels, Loth chose to step in once more.

"There's no need to rush. Let's take things step by step," Loth said, raising a hand as if to slow things down. "A visit to Alefpria can certainly be arranged. Any thoughts on a particular day, Lifprasil?"

Lifprasil relented, however gradually, his keen sense of the mind sent a solid retort to his rising ambition. "I believe I'll be leaving in two days. Perhaps you can accompany me and the departing Alefprian soldiers?" he offered, motioning to the shawled soldiers scattered throughout the valley. "I believe many things can be learned from such a visit."

"That sounds reasonable. We'll be looking forward to it," Falas responded.

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

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The Pilgrim King

A mighty stag rested beside a small creek, enjoying the shade of a great oak tree as he ate at the occasional tuft of young grass. Suddenly, there came a heavy boom from further in the wood, accompanied by the sound of snapping twigs and branches. The stag's head shot up in alertness and it saw a gargantuan creature approaching. The great thing was an ogre, and no ordinary one at that; standing perhaps sixteen feet tall and as corpulent as anything, this one was a giant even by ogre standards.

It continued to lumber forward through the treeline, grunting in mild annoyance as it simply walked through tree branches and snapped them off. As in for the stag, it had frozen in utter stillness. Fear paralyzed it, but normally such feeling would only make a beast flee. This time, however, there was some curiosity mixed with that fear, and so it made the mistake of staying.

When it was no more than perhaps forty feet away, the ogre noticed the deer from across the small stream. The majestic beast locked eyes with that brutish thing. The ogre did something strange, stooping down to snatch up a large stone. Then it stuck that rock in the pouch of a leather sling and hurled the stone straight at its prey. The stag was felled in an instant.

Ommok put away his sling and then hungrily devoured the raw meat. It made for a savory breakfast, and yet he did not slow his feasting to enjoy the flavor of fresh meat still dripping with blood. Slowing down to enjoy a meal was a frivolous thing, and the Ogre King was now ancient by mortal standards and had experienced enough of those such pleasures in his life. Now, he simply wanted to make good time in his journey.

The wanderer followed the creek until it made its way into a larger stream, and then he followed that a good ways longer. A few hours saw him out of that dense wood and into something of a pleasant grassland. In the distance, his eye perceived something unusual: plumes of smoke rising into the air. 'Fire djinn,' he figured. The spiryts were no strangers to ogres for they abounded in the Venomweald, and the djinn's callous savagery rivaled that of the jungle's beasts.

The king moved to travel in a wide berth around where the smoke came from, for though the djinn had no grudge against beings of flesh it was never wise to test their mercy. He trudged on for some time, but then something found him, and it was no djinni.

The ogre glimpsed the creature out of the corner of his eye, still as a statue as it cowered in a patch of brambles in hopes of not being seen. The thing was tiny, perhaps a third of Ommok's height if even that, and it somewhat resembled a bird. Immediately when the giant monster saw him, the Hain threw down his bow and ran; the hunter knew that arrows would be as mere annoyances to such a hulking creature. His flight was in vain.

Though Ommok's corpulence spilled out, beneath the fat there was muscle. With incredible strength behind each great stride, the ogre charged at a surprising pace and easily overtook the fleeing Hain. Ommok snatched up the creature with one hand, and looked at it. It kicked and struggled, so he squeezed. The thing's body did not yield, for it seemed that it had some sort of natural armor. Were its bones on the outside, like some sort of insect?

Ommok's eyes then turned towards the thing that the strange creature had dropped. With his other hand, he snatched up the bow and examined it too. The ogre saw nothing more than a strangely shaped stick with a string of sinew, and try as he might the king could not fathom a use for such an object. Still, the ability for the creature to craft such an object was proof that it was no mere animal.

Ommok debated internally whether he should eat the Hain in his hand, but decided against it. The exoskeleton would prove troublesome to peel off, and he had no desire to linger in the area near the fire djinn. So it was that the terrified Hain found himself abruptly dropped, and then he scrambled to run. Right towards the smoke? Why would it go to a fire djinn?

Curiosity seized control and Ommok soon began to lumber after the Hain once more. As the two walked further into the distance, small huts came into sight and Ommok finally realized that the smoke was no doing of an elemental. These creatures had stolen fire from a spiryt and harnessed its magic? They were powerful indeed!

With newfound caution Ommok strode forth to the village, and a party of a dozen or so of the creatures were waiting. He stepped closer to the little creatures, and they each raised those strange sticks into the air, and then they brought some sort of sticks up to the sinew strings...the ogre's eyes widened as he suddenly realized the purpose of the implements. They were like his sling! The Hain released their arrows just as Ommok ducked down, yet still a few of the shafts struck him. With an agitated grunt, he looked at the sticks poking into his skin and pulled them out. No blood dripped forth, for their stone heads hadn't even managed to pierce his hide.

In a panic the Hain began to nock arrows again, but Ommok stepped back and then let out a fearsome roar that stopped them in their tracks. With some confusion they stared at the ogre: on the one hand it roared and was a monster, but on the other it didn't seem like it was going to attack.

Ommok snorted and returned their stares, wondering how he might be able to pacify the dumb little creatures. A bird flying in the air provided him with his answer. The ogre quickly stooped to snatch up a stone, and the Hain jumped to fire their bows. To their surprise and furthered confusion, the ogre put the stone in his sling and hurled it at the bird and not them. In one shot he brought the creature down, and then strode into the distance to retrieve its carcass. When he walked back, he threw it to the Hain as an offering, and then they understood.

Over the next few weeks the ogre king stayed at that village, and in time (and with a great deal of effort) he managed to learn the basics of their speech. The 'Heen', as they called themselves, had many strange tools. Once they had grown used to his presence, many were more than willing to carry on with their lives as normal as he silently observed them use their tools, whilst a few friendlier ones even approached him to show him new things or offer food. Whenever they did such an act of kindness, the ogre grunted and mimicked their words of thanks as best as he could.

This continued for some time, but eventually Ommok's curiosity waned and he grew restless. He had learned all that he could from these Heen, so he committed the location of their village to memory and then embarked on his journey once more. With mixed feelings, the Hain saw him off.

Though it shouldn't have taken him by surprise, somehow he had not expected to find more Heen, and yet soon he had done just that. In these parts of the land the creatures seemed fairly numerous, and their villages were scattered about in a predictable pattern near bodies of fresh water and good hunting grounds. With his basic understanding of Heen-speak (and in some cases, with tales of his arrival and strange journey having preceded his arrival) he managed to receive a courteous welcome from the villages that he stumbled across and so they gave him shelter and food to offer him a short respite from his pilgrimage. Ommok gratefully accepted, but never stayed for long. In due time he left behind the land of the Heen and wandered on through wilderness once more, but then he came across a great river and upon its shores came across the various farming villages of the Vetruvians.

His interaction with them went down in much the same way as had his first encounter with the Heen. Though at first they had been fearful and hostile, he had managed to befriend one village and stay long enough to learn of their language and ways. He stayed with the humans for longer than he had the Hain, for there was something about this land that called to him: the great river, the great sand dunes in the desert beyond the river valley, even the strange presence that seemed to hang in the air above this entire land...it was all familiar. Ommok had seen and felt these things before, and after much thinking he finally recalled why: when the Maker-God had brought the first ogres to the Venomweald long ago, he had carried them across the world. Ommok had seen these lands from above as he was flown by a god; this was a good sign. It meant that his journey was taking him along the right path. The Goddess's Stone called to him clearly as any siren; he needed only to follow its voice.

With newfound motivation and reinvigorated strength, Ommok left the humans and began a harsh trek. The sands tore at his flesh. The scorching sun cracked and burned his skin by day, and the cool winds beneath the light of Galbar's moons left him shivering by night. His only company was the occasional bird or haunt flying high through the air, the distant howling of windjinn, and the endless dunes. At long last there came a time when he found his way to a most peculiar and large swampland oasis, and in that treasure trove of life he found some respite. From the mudpits where he rested unseen, he witnessed robed men walking in the distance. This was a long way from the lands of Vetros; perhaps those were exiles, brigands, nomads, or a peculiar combination of those things. He paid them little heed, and after a few days the Pilgrim King once more was on his way.

It was an endless and dusky path that he trod down, and only a metaphorical road at that. At long last he came to the end of the desert and found a land that made his flesh tingle; there was something strange about the sheer disarray of the place, as if the earth itself had twisted and contorted and tangled itself into a mess over a thousand millennia. Those Changing Plains were perhaps more hospitable than the Firewind, yet the aura was distinctly worse than even the desert's sweltering heat. He was glad to put such lands behind him.

He waded through a strange ocean that gleamed golden beneath the sun, though instead of water this was a sea of grass. In place of fish were lions and gazelle, and in place of lords and kings there were brush beasts so unimaginably huge that for a moment, Ommok wondered if they were gods.

At long last, he came to the Deepwoods. The Stone was close now. He could feel it! The air itself oscillated and vibrated, or perhaps that was only his imagination. There were all manner of creatures within thee Deepwoods and some might not have been so intimidated even by the likes of an ogre, but Ommok had no time for such distractions. He willed that they all leave him in peace, and without even realizing it, his long-dormant Astartian magic drove off the animals and granted him just that protection.

The clearing where they had first been brought and cast upon that rock was now overgrown, and even the mighty trees that the Father-Wind-God had ravaged were now replaced by ones equally grandiose. Or perhaps they had not been replaced, but rather repaired? Surely such great trees had not grown from saplings in the mere centuries that he had been gone?

As in for the boulder, Ommok remembered the thing being an object of great size. When magic had surged through his every fabric of being and made him into its conduit, he had smashed the rock, and yet half its pieces had been as big as he. Before him, however, was only one shard of noteworthy size. It was large by human standards, but it fit nicely in the king's hand.

He snatched up the stone that was his birthright and felt its power spark through him, and he was at once relieved of a great burden that he had carried for so long that he had forgotten it weighed him down. Still, he could only wonder if something else had come for the rest of the boulder, or if his memory failed him. If those hazy recollections were to be cast in such doubt, were any of his oldest memories true? Always he had been different from the other ogres, but was he even what he thought he was?

He contemplated on his own existence for many days, clutching the stone and sitting still even as the occasional rain fell down upon him. When he finally stood once more, he began the long journey home and never looked back again.

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Vec Liquid Intelligence

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The Primordial Sun, The Star Forger
Level 4 God; Cosmos(Stars)

45 Might & 5 Free Points


The Twilight Queen
Level 5 Hero; Werewolf Primus

20 Khookies

The setting sun's rays painted the skies over the western continent of Cygnea blood red. An ominous sign for some, a boon for others. Amongst the numerous mountains scattered across the continent, there was a peculiar one. Unlike its counterparts, this particular mountain possessed one strange characteristic; or the lack of. Aside from this particular difference, It perfectly fit all the other criteria that should be in place for a landmass like itself to be called a mountain.

Trees sprouted from its sides, forming large forested areas filled with all sorts of wildlife. Water gushed from its core, creating numerous springs and rivers of all sorts of sizes and shapes that, in turn, made their way down the mountain and into the valleys below before hitting a natural blockade and forming lakes or eventually finding their way to the Inner Sea, creating lush deltas that were filled with all sorts of fauna and flora of their own.

Everything about this mountain was mountain-like, except for one thing. Its peak was upside down.

As if something had ripped the peak off and then rammed it down back in place, peak side first, deeply embedding it inside the mountain's bowels. All this resulted in it having a quite sinister appearance when looking at it from afar in the past. Nowadays, since Ull'Yang and Luna had made it their home, the whole mountain and the area surrounding it have experienced a surge of life. Flowers bloom earlier in the year, the tree leaves don't wilt as often as usually and even the animals that reside in those parts found themselves experiencing all sorts of miraculous things. Predators would find themselves feeling stronger when biting and faster when pouncing whilst finding their prey becoming faster and more agile in their effort to escape. All this, of course, was a direct result of the increased presence of divine essence in the atmosphere, something Ull'Yang was unintentionally the culprit of.

High up in the mountain and through the thick, illusory mist that blocked off the entrance to the reversed peak, courtesy of Ull'Yang to ward off potential would-be intruders, the stellar god and the twilight queen resided.

In a divine feat of earth moulding, Ull'Yang had managed to hollow out the insides of the peak enough so as to create a living space for the two of them without endangering the structural integrity of his creation, an easy feat to the eyes of a being capable of raising whole continents and creating a separate demi-plane, right? Well, not really. Ull'Yang was no Teknall. As such, although his little self-made castle certainly was no Divine Citadel, it nevertheless served its purpose flawlessly and made Ull'Yang felt pretty proud about his meager constructing skills as a bonus.

The peak was surrounded by twenty huge cylindrical columns of solid rock. With a height-to-thickness ratio of about 8-to-1, these sturdy columns further supported and protected the whole structure from any sort of disaster, be it natural or artificial.

As for the interior design of the structure, divided into two floors with the lower one being the guest living area and the upper one being where Luna lived in, it could only be described as straightforward. As of yet, however, the halls of the peak have not welcomed any living beings other than Ull'Yang and Luna, with the former of the two preferring to live on the roof of the building since it offered the best stargazing experience.

Ull'Yang tore his gaze from the setting sun and somewhere inside, he felt a deep ache that he could not even begin to describe. It had been some time now that the god had settled down on the reverse peak and had some time to ruminate on many things.

The position Amul'Sharar and Fate had entrusted him with had cast a heavy net of pressure over him, a net that he felt was tightening by the millennia, culminating in a single climax, the supernova. He dreaded the event and each subsequent painful rebirth left him in a miserable state that required him to spend countless years reforming himself.

Most of all, however, was not the event itself that he feared. It was the state in which he found his consciousness right after each supernova. As if he was expelled from his own body, or perhaps the better wording would be dragged out from inside it. This part of Ull'Yang's memories is fragmented, with some of the parts missing. Every time the event takes place, however, some of the parts piece themselves together, giving him a better understanding of the intricacies behind the mechanism of his own being.

From the very first supernova after the Shattering Disunity, Ull'Yang's memories are few and cryptic, so much so that they would not even count as memories in the eyes of Vulamera. The only thing Ull'Yang remembers is two distinct states of emotion, one being utter and inconceivable dread and the other being blissful happiness.

One would think that when faced with those two types of opposite emotions, one would obviously be drawn towards the latter one. That person would be right to think that, because who in their right mind would willingly put themselves through dread and despair?

Well, Ull'Yang seemed to be one such being, as evident from the fact that he chose said route back then. A route he also chose during his second, third and fourth rebirth.

Ull'Yang gazed at the night sky and its stars. "Two routes, one choice, always drawn towards the seemingly wrong one, yet I always return back here, in my Universe..."

While he was meditating over this, down below in the mountainous forests, Luna was hunting. Her swift, bestial form could not be seen with the naked eye as she nimbly dashed through the forest with the carcass of a huge bison over her shoulders

She ran through the forest like a shadow, seemingly unimpeded by the vast amount of mass weighing her down. She passed through the illusory mist and quickly made her way up the reverse peak. When she reached the upper floor, she dropped the corpse on the ground and proceeded to feast on its meat. Blood and torn flesh flew everywhere as Luna bit into the animal.

Soon, the bison was stripped down to its very bones, which were promptly tossed aside in a corner that was filled with animal remains. Luna slowly walked up the stairs to the roof where Ull'Yang was, transforming back to her humanoid form in the process.

Ull'Yang made a note of his canine companion's arrival but did not initiate the conversation. When Luna reached him, he opened his arms as she fell into his embrace. He watched as she made herself comfortable. When she had settled down, she looked upwards and their eyes met, a smile beaming on her face. The stellar god sighed.

After that night when he had gotten angry at her for trying to force him to take an Oath to the Primordials and the subsequent reconciliation session they shared, she was now depended on him to be able to sleep quietly at night. If he did not take her in his arms, she would always be overcome by mental demons that haunted her subconscious and prevented her from sleeping.

They remained like that for a couple of hours, until the stars were right above them, illuminating the skies above and the ground below. Luna's gaze shifted from the sky to Ull'Yang; "Master?" she called out.

"What is it, little wolf?" Ull'Yang looked at her quizically. "What's the matter now?" he asked.

"Where are the other gods?"

Ull'Yang was taken aback by her sudden questioning of his siblings' whereabouts. In truth, he had indeed not communicated with his siblings since entering his plane. Well, of course, there was his Avatar. He was sure that by now, his Avatar would have made contact with at least one or two of his fellow gods. "If that's the case then for what reason have I not been made aware of any such contact?"

With that thought in mind, Ull'Yang concentrated his divine will and projected it across the entirety of Cygnea, an easy feat considering that the plane was very much attuned to him. His mind touched the boundaries of the plane, the protective barrier he had set in order to bar both unauthorized entry and exit from his realm.

"Ahh, so it is like this..." Ull'Yang uttered in realization. Luna looked at her master; "What happened, master?" Ull'Yang placed his hand on his face and sighed. "It seems..." his voice faltered. "It seems that I was with much ado when I was first laying Cygnea's foundations. So much so that I actually made a mistake during the employment of the barrier." Ull'Yang sighed once more.

"This... error of mine caused interference in the outer layers of the barrier and so when my Avatar - or any other divine being for that matter - tried to communicate with me directly, Its divine will was blocked by the barrier and made unable to reach me. Similarly, had I tried to communicate with my siblings or my Avatar, I would have found myself unable to do so..."

Ull'Yang raised a hand and a small, blue sphere covered with a myriad of runic symbols, unintelligible to everyone but himself, appeared a few inches over his palm. "Fortunately, It is an easy problem to fix..."

The sphere rotated over his palm before suddenly stopping. Three sets of runes glowed bright red, a contrast to the sphere's blue color, indicating that these were at fault for the barrier's malfunction. Ull'Yang's eyes trailed over the three words calmly, analyzing them.

Luna too, brought her face closer to the sphere, marveling at its mysteries. The contrast of the blood red words with their blue background aroused multiple feelings inside of her, with awe, curiosity, and a sense of yearning being but a few of them.

To Ull'Yang, however, the words meant something completely different, for he knew their actual meaning. His eyes bulged as he was overcome by dread. "Th-these words!" He exclaimed. At that moment, if he was a mortal, he would have most likely, from head to toe, been drenched in sweat.

"T-t-this cannot be... Rii, Vey, Feim..." Ull'Yang looked up at the night sky with a look of anger mixed with anxiety and fear. "Essence, Cut, Fade... 'Tis a most unfortunate, bad omen...

Ull'Yang immediately expelled the three words from the surface of the sphere and as if the shackles that were weighing the barrier down were broken, the rest of the runic symbols let out a brilliant golden light and started rotating around the sphere. At the same time, a beam of light was shot upwards from the sphere to the barrier.

The moment the beam of light impacted the barrier, Ull'Yang was immediately flooded with myriads of information. Everything that had taken place in Galbar, his Avatar's experiences, Vestec's little war on the mortal races, Teknall coming to him for help and the eventual confrontation of the Avatars. Then, there was the sudden interruption by Vowzra's and Astarte's Avatars and his verbal sparring with Vowzra that eventually lead to the two Avatars fighting a fierce battle, albeit for different reasons altogether.

Yang'Ze condition after the fight was severe but it was not life-threatening so Ull'Yang did not bother much with that. As for Vowzra's Avatar, Yang'Ze had utilized his superior speed in order to escape after managing to cut off one of the turtle's legs, temporarily impeding its movement. He had no clue as to the turtle's current whereabouts.

Ull'Yang let all the new information flow inside his mind unhampered by restrictions or barriers. Only after everything was over did he let out a sigh. At least nothing too serious had happe-

As each of the four gods' divine signature burned off and faded into oblivion, Ull'Yang felt like his very soul was being repeatedly stabbed by four million scorchingly hot needles. He let out an earth-shaking below as he clutched his chest, right above where his core was. Luna, who was sitting leisurely on his lap the whole time, was frightened out of her wits by his sudden outburst.

"W-w-what happened?!" Luna said with a worried look. One moment he was peacefully sitting with her and the other moment, he was writhing on the ground whilst clutching his chest in pain. Such a sudden turn of events had left her in a state of bewilderment, to say the least. The only thing she could do was to stay at Ull'Yang's side and hope he endured the whole ordeal.

It took a whole four hours for Ull'Yang to finally calm down. The look on his face was not in the least reassuring; the essence lines covering his body and previously brimming with brilliant divine essence had now significantly dimmed down to the bare minimum. It took another four hours for Ull'Yang to return to his former condition.

Right before opening his eyes, myriads of images, pulled straight from Yang'Ze's memories, were shown to him. They spoke of a large event taking place in Galbar, the planet his siblings had poured so much of their attention. A giant body of rippling flesh shooting off from one of Galbar's oceans, traveling all the way to the northern hemisphere of the planet and crashing into a huge mountain in an impact of cataclysmic proportions. The mountain's peak was blasted to smithereens. After that, a huge portal opened up and the Flesh entered it, only to come out again after a few seconds.

That time, however, it brought something with it. The Flesh's surface rippled as it spat out a huge dome-like shape that landed on the northern parts of the planet, sending tremors that were felt even by Yang'Ze, who was witnessing the whole scene from afar. After that, the Flesh significantly shriveled in size and promptly disappeared from the area.

Following that, Toun's solemn voice echoed inside Ull'Yang's mind, relaying his message. Ull'Yang felt something liquid dripping on his face and so slowly opened his eyes. Luna was there, eyes closed and... praying? To whom? The Gods? What sort of being is capable of death yet dares to call itself a god? The Primordials? Were they the True Gods? If so, then what were the 20, no, 16 - now - siblings? Not quite like True Gods, yet too powerful to label demigods? Something in the middle?

Ull'Yang did not know what to think or feel. Should he be angry at the Primordials for dragging them in this universal playground of theirs, only to stand back and watch as they slaughtered each other?

Should he feel sad at the loss of his fellow siblings? His creations would never be tested and tempered by Mammon's challenges. Vulamera's insights into the intricacies of the mind would never give answers to his questions. He would never get to know the mysterious even to his brethren, god of Death. Last but not least, he would never again have the opportunity to talk, argue and compare theories about the Universe and its mysteries with Vowzra.

Or should he simply resign himself to the workings of Fate? Only to end up just another piece of the puzzle that is the Universe. Because since even the God of Time's death did not result in the Universe suddenly imploding, then that was evidence of the fact that they were just that. Expendable pieces whose only real purpose was to aid with the creation of the Universe and nothing more.

Yet it was neither of the three emotions that surfaced at that moment. Instead, he simply laughed. He laughed away the anger towards the Primordials, he laughed away the sorrow towards his sibling's deaths and he laughed away the thoughts of resignation to Fate's Will. Much like in the fleeting moments before the Shattering Disunity, when he had voiced his resistance towards Fate and the pre-ordained path it had chosen for him.

He laughed and steeled his resolve, for he had decided he would tread a path riddled with danger. A path that would surely bring him to conflict with many of his siblings. A path that might as well bring him to his end.

And even then, he laughed.

Reverse Peak

Ull'Yang stood in the middle of The Peak's roof. He looked over at Luna who was silently standing a few meters away from him, a deep sadness was evident in her eyes. She wanted to speak, to voice her objection to Ull'Yang's plan, yet after a lengthy discussion in which he had disclosed everything that had occurred in the Outer Realm and had also expressed his thoughts and emotions to her, somewhere deep inside she found herself admitting that she agreed with his decision. So, instead of blocking his way and being a general nuisance, she'd decided to wholeheartedly support him in his endeavors, whatever they may be.

She could not, however, shake off the feeling of sadness that overtook her whenever she thought the happy and quiet times they shared together, isolated from the rest of the world inside Ull'Yang's realm, would soon come to an end.

Ull'Yang tore his eyes away from Luna's form and brought himself to focus on the task at hand. He sat down cross-legged in the middle of rooftop and closed his eyes. He made some last seconds adjustments to his mental condition and then activated his divine power. Divine essence coursed through the essence lines on his body, making them shine a bright red light. He made a couple of simple gestures with his hands and then made a pushing motion.

Suddenly, and as if actually being pushed by Ull'Yang's hands, a medium sized globe started to slowly come out of the star god's chest. The moment a fraction of the red sphere came in contact with the surrounding atmosphere, the temperature was raised a couple thousand degrees. Fortunately, Ull'Yang had made preparations beforehand.

The moment the globe appeared, an array of runic symbols he had previously inscribed upon the ground glowed a bright golden light that suppressed the oppressing force of the burning sphere, forming a ten-meter barrier around Ull'Yang that isolated the space inside from the rest of the realm and effectively protecting it from any harm that could befall Cygnea as a result of the whole process.

After a minute or so, the whole of the globe had come out and was silently levitating in front of Ull'Yang. The temperature inside the ten-meter radius of the barrier could be counted in the millions. No living being except the gods themselves would ever be able to withstand such high temperatures. The rest would simply evaporate out of existence, with not even their ashes remaining.

"The easy part is over..." Ull'Yang thought and with a wave of his hand, multiple runic symbols surrounded the burning red core of his. He circulated his divine essence and the symbols started to slowly rotate clockwise as they revolved around the core, whilst at the same time giving off a multitude of colors.

Ull'Yang placed his hands on either side of the core and after taking a deep breath in, he stimulated all of his power and poured massive amounts of divine essence into the symbols while pushing inwards. The resistance he faced was immense. The core felt like a small boulder in the hands of a powerless child. It would neither budge nor deform. However, Ull'Yang had prepared for this beforehand and made sure to be in his top condition.

He circulated even more of his divine essence, pouring even more of it inside the symbols, powering them up further. The symbols, in turn, shone even more brightly. Bright red rays of light escaped the ten-meter radius of the sealing array but were promptly stopped by a second sealing array placed on top of the first one. Ull'Yang spared no effort in meticulously making sure his realm would emerge unharmed from his breakthrough.

Because it was exactly that, a breakthrough. After he had successfully refined his core, Ull'Yang was sure that he would be able to gain the ability to roam the Universe with his true form however he pleased and would be finally freed of the limitations his nature as a star imposed upon his freedom.

However, as he was struggling, he realized that his power was still not enough. His core was the center of his being and as such, it would arduously resist any and every change that went against the natural ways. Making any sort of change to it would be tantamount to changing the mechanism of his very being. Nevertheless, Ull'Yang persevered. He continued infusing the symbols with his divine essence. Suddenly and out of nowhere, a loud popping sound echoed throughout his being. He whole body let off cracking sounds and he was unexpectedly filled with newfound power! "It seems as if the effort put into refining my core brought forth unforeseen yet positive results..."

Ull'Yang did not allow himself to feel surprised for more than a millisecond before putting this new pool of untapped divine essence into use. He infused the symbols with more divine essence and simultaneously pushed with all his strength inwards. Seemingly, this extra bit of divine essence was exactly what he needed for the core to finally succumb under his strength.

At the start, small dents started appearing on the surface of the core and after a while, cracks began appearing. At that moment, Ull'Yang felt an incomparable amount of pain. In front of this kind of pain, what he had felt when his siblings died could be compared to the pain a person feels when a mosquito pierces their skin with its needle-like mouth. This kind of pain came from the deepest parts of his soul and actually terrorized Ull'Yang.

However, he would not allow himself to develop doubts about his decisions. That was his path now and he would follow it to the end. Ull'Yang clenched his teeth and pushed at the core once more. Slowly and under the intense pressure from the runic symbols, the core started to slowly deform, until it eventually turned into a malleable, transparent viscous substance. Ull'Yang shaped this substance into his desired shape over a period of several hours before finally activating the secondary effect of the runic symbols.

The symbols suddenly halted to a stop before starting to rotate again, counter-clockwise this time. This time, the runes gave off a completely white light as they rapidly lowered themselves towards the core. When they touched the surface of the newly-shapen core, huge amounts of steam came forth from it. After a couple of seconds, the steam dissipated and in front of Ull'Yang levitated his new core.

After shrinking to almost half its previous size and gaining a new shape, one would be hard-pressed to know exactly what it was without previous knowledge of Ull'Yang's inner workings.

The stellar god palmed his core and gazed at it with a contented look. He let out a sigh of relief, before promptly absorbing the core back inside his body. Like a fish in water, the core radiated a bright red light immediately after entering Ull'Yang's body and started to hungrily absorb more divine essence. It took some time before Ull'Yang managed to stabilize himself. Unfortunately, however, he also came to know of another crucial piece of information during this time.

The whole process of refining his core had actually pushed forward the date of his next supernova. Sadly, there were some things, like the supernovae he went through, that he simply could not change with his current power level. In order for him to break those shackles, he would have to become more powerful and gain better insights into the inner workings of the Universe.

With a wave of his hand, the two-fold sealing symbol array he had engraved on the ground disappeared. Ull'Yang raised his eyes and looked at Luna, who had actually laid on the ground and was sleeping. She writhed from time to time and it was evident that she truly needed him to be able to have a peaceful rest.

Ull'Yang walked beside her sleeping form and gently put his arms behind her back and legs, lifting her up from the cold stone floor. Luna instinctively felt the warmth coming from him and wrapped her arms around his neck.

He could only sigh before positioning her over his back, piggyback style. "Seems like you're coming with me to the Monument, but I'll be sending you back here soon enough. Can't have you around when the supernova's so close..." He then floated over the edge of The Peak's top and down towards the entrance of Reverse Peak. "Leaving this place unguarded?" Ull'Yang pondered on the thought for a couple of seconds before deciding against it. Who knew what might happen whilst he was gone?

As such, he slowly floated himself and Luna over in front of Reverse Peak's door and pointed at the two pillars on its sides. Beams of multicolored light, a sign of an imminent supernova, shot from his fingers towards the two pillars. After a second, rumbling noises were heard as the whole mountain beneath them trembled. Suddenly, two giant, muscular arms tore through the ground, each grabbing a pillar. The muscles on the arms bulged and tensed and all of a sudden, two identical giant humanoid monsters emerged from the mountain's innards.

The humanoid beasts looked at each other and then looked at Ull'Yang. The two beasts shared one mind and had perfect coordination between the two. Their immense strength could blow apart a huge boulder with a swing of their fist and they possessed rudimentary intelligence, enough for them to be able to distinguish friend from foe as well as receiving and carrying out orders from their master.

"You are Mundo," Ull'Yang said while pointing at the left monster. "And you are Odnum," he told the one on the right. "Protect this place in my absence. Kill animals only to sate your hunger and never hunt just for the sake of it. Respect nature for the very earth gave birth to you."

Ull'Yang paused a bit before he uttered his next lines. "Kill all outsiders who do not bear my crest..." he said and a flash of light shot from his eyes and entered their mind, deeply engraving his personal crest in their very being.

The two towering beings nodded their affirmation and positioned themselves beside their respective pillars. In a flash, they had turned into two immovable stone statues.

Ull'Yang, satisfied by his two house guardians, simply nodded back and with a thought, an interdimensional portal tore open in the fabric of space in front of him. He shielded Luna's body with a coating of multicolored divine essence and then stepped into the portal which closed behind him. Cygnea was left to rest, for now.

Ull'Yang took two simple steps. One to step into the portal, through which he appeared on the empty vacuum of outer space. He took a moment to marvel at the sheer vastness of the Universe before taking his seconds step.

Ull'Yang appeared in front of the Monument. The moment he laid foot on the surface of the planet, the ground beneath his feet lost all moisture and cracked whilst the plants and flowers around him quickly dried up and died. The very water in the air surrounding him was quickly evaporating into steam. Soon enough, a small raincloud had formed over his head and small droplets of water started raining down on him. He looked at the sight and let out a solemn smile. "And this is AFTER I have refined my core. Imagine what would happen if I suddenly showed up here without any sort of preparation beforehand. Utter annihilation..."

Ull'Yang then looked over at Toun's Monum- no. It was more of a memorial for the fallen. His eyes fell on the Tounic Caligraphy. Toun's distinct writing system conveyed thoughts and feelings in such a way that the tears he had not been able to shed earlier came out in rivers now. However, as soon as they came out, they were, too, evaporated by the incredible heat he was emitting.

He let himself cry as much as his subconscious wanted and only after every last drop had come out did he slowly walk away towards the Gate Unguarded. He did not sign the Oath of Stilldeath, for he knew it would do nothing more than curb his path towards fulfilling his ideals.

Before he entered, he pulled over to him the quarter of his consciousness he had left with his Avatar whilst leaving behind a couple of commands for it. Namely to find a safe place to recuperate and recover from the serious injuries inflicted in the fight with Vowzra's Avatar.

However, the moment he passed through the barrier separating this new realm and the rest of Galbar, Ull'Yang was pleasantly surprised by an extremely strange discovery. He smiled and looked towards the sky of the realm. "Even in death, you offer a helping hand. I've misjudged! A grave sin! I shall help myself with your parting gift and finish what you set out to do, albeit my way..."

The time flow inside this realm was indeed something that practically screamed Vowzra. "750 to 1...no...a thousand years here is one day outside!" Ull'Yang exclaimed in amazement.

Of course, Jvan's influence over the broken realm was also evident, much more so as it's original owner's essence ever so slowly faded away into nothingness, leaving behind only his creations to attest for him even existing in the first place...

Aside from these two facts, It seemed as if the realm itself rejected his presence there, or rather, his presence there caused so much harm to the realm itself that it shriveled away from him. As a result, everything in a ten-meter radius around Ull'Yang was barren and devoid of life. When he walked into one place, all the flora in that place magically gained feet and scampered away from his scorching aura. As for the animals, they did not even dare approach him. From the time he set foot inside the realm, he had not seen not one inkling of life around himself.

Ull'Yang spread his divine will and located one peculiar cube-like structure in the deeper parts of the realm. Aside from that, he detected various other signals, namely Toun, Teknall and two other unknown ones, albeit one of them sharing a similar trace with the late Vowzra.

Although he felt like talking with his siblings, he knew better. His rebirth was imminent and there would be time to exchange pleasantries afterward. Ull'Yang sat Luna's sleeping form beside a boulder, knelt down, placed his hands on the sides of her face and touched his forehead with hers. In a flash, all sorts of positive and reassuring messages passed onto her from him in an effort to somewhat curb her worries of him, because he knew, he was sure that she was completely liable to worry herself to death if he didn't prepare her mentally. He also planted a separate message inside her subconscious.

"You are by no means allowed to pass through the Gate Unguarded of the realm on the northern parts of Galbar."

When he pulled his head away from her, a single tear trickled down Luna's cheek, which he wiped aside before promptly teleporting her out of Vowzra's former realm.

With that done, Ull'Yang stood up and took one last good look of Vowzra's realm before sighing. "Here we go again..." he said out loud and his form was instantly sucked inside his new gem-like core. The core floated for a few seconds, multicolored lights flashing inside of it before it suddenly went dim and shot towards the nearby boulder. It phased through the boulder and took root inside of it.

The 5th cycle had begun.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Muttonhawk
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Muttonhawk Let Slip the Corgis of War

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So lost and avoidant was Toun in trying to solve the puzzle of the cube's many markings that the years went by without him finding the answer. He had many excuses to find Vowzra's time spreading power utterly obnoxious, but allowing him to justify focussing on his puzzle was not one of them.

What did count among the gripes was the time it took for his siblings to respond to his message. Teknall was the first, Toun could detect him outside. The time he had spent weeping meant Toun was given much more time to deal with the puzzle before the craftsman came through the gate.

When Teknall approached, Toun turned his head to look at him with one eye but didn't respond to his greeting. His presence was a reminder of his grief. Perhaps thankfully, Teknall's attention was brought to the cube as well. Not so thankfully, Teknall only had more ill tidings. Toun slid his hands from the cube so they loosely swayed to a stop at his sides.

"Reathos. More death." Toun bowed his head forward and swayed it in slow disagreement. "Vulamera. It does not matter if Vowzra slew her now. It is all a game. A cruel game." Toun's eye turned up to the cube. "Knowing Vowzra, he was playing the game so closely that this little diversion might not mean anything but a lie in the end. I am simply here looking at it because..."

Toun's trailing off was caused, initially by his lack of an answer. He was considering remarking on the hollowness he felt, though his trail of thought was interrupted. He lifted his head straight. A nudge of some kind was sent across the aether that sounded somewhat like...Vulamera?

No. She was dead. This was not Vulamera. It was one of Vestec's tricks posing as her dead sister. It stank of it. Toun would not indulge Vestec with an answer, as incensed as it made him feel.

Rather than dwell on Toun's incomplete answer, Teknall posed another question. One that made Toun blink and tighten his shoulders. "I was not looking for anyone inside," he answered defensively. "It was inconsequential."

Trust the engineer to focus on the structure and not just the surface. It was just a filthy cube anyway. There was no point.

Nevertheless, Toun remedied his complacency by looking as Teknall was. Sure enough, a hiding creature slept within. Toun's cheek lifted a fingerwidth. "Oh," his low tone sounded, "It is the brat." Toun narrowed one eye at the memories that Minus had conveyed to him while shadowing Lazarus. The hedonistic creature could rot without his concern. "This cube is not a record, then. It is a prison. I had suspected that Vowzra's promises were empty. This proves it. There is no point trying to open it."

With a disdainful hiss, Toun turned on his heel and took two paces forward to look out to the landscape of the ruined plane. His head slouched forward and shot in one direction and another. He had hoped to take his mind from the criticism he was giving himself for even bothering, but his eye instead found yet another sibling. His hiss lasted just a little longer.

It was none other than Astarte. She was on her way in, apparently looking miserable. She had just floated to a stop to seat a short distance away. Toun tilted his head and balled a fist. She couldn't have arrived for any purpose but whimsy. That she even dared to show her face made Toun's eye twitch. After everything else, Toun took one look at her and his frustration burst.

"Are you here to laugh, sister?!" Toun he threw an arm across in front of himself, escalating the venom his tone. "Go on! Laugh! Laugh like Vestec! It's all you possess! It's all that you do! Laugh!"
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