Recent Statuses

6 mos ago
Current Exams are done! I'm free!
11 mos ago
"Life is complex - it has real and imaginary parts."
1 yr ago
Science doesn't rest
1 yr ago
Reason Reified, Lord Logiker, Sciencomancer Superbus
1 yr ago
"Mid-semester break"? More like "3/4-semester report-writing week"


I am a Roleplayer with an interest in science fiction and fantasy, with a preference for Casual. I have been roleplaying for several years, and have even taken a stab at running a few RPs.

Outside the Guild, I am an Australian science student, gamer, musician and roleplayer (that's right, IRL too).

Most Recent Posts

@Vec The list of gods is shorter than it used to be. That got me in the feels a little.

Also, Teknall has two L's.
@Vec Timeline-wise, you actually aren't that far behind. Most people are somewhere between 5 and 20 years Post-Realta (the exact timing hasn't been pinned down), with Xos' appearance, the elemental civil war, Conata searching for her father, and more.

For some specific dates...

Gerrik Far-Teacher is at 14 PR.

Yorum is at 12 PR.

Vetros is still stalling around a few months PR.

Mesathalassa is furthest ahead, with Capy having written events up to 63 PR, but that's the exception rather than the rule.
So, how's everyone going?

I've got 36 days until my Honours (basically a 1-year Masters) thesis is due, so that's where I'm at.
It only took 6 months, but I present to you the next installment of Gerrik's adventures.
Collaboratively written by BBeast, Kho and Double Capybara

Gerrik Far-Teacher

Level 10 Hain Hero
24 Prestige

circa 14 years Post Realta

Sunlight glimmered off the surface of the ocean which stretched along the coast. The water circled about an island which sat in the middle of a small bay, fed by a couple of rivers. Hundreds of boats were dotted across the coast, with fisherhain casting their nets and throwing their lines and spears. Rounded huts made from smoothed clay, rawhide and leather covered the land surrounding the bay and sat upon the island. A tall tower stood upon the highest point of the island, visible for many miles. And within the town bustled the white shells of thousands of hain.

Elword clicked his tongue in astonishment. "It's pretty big."

"It's grown since I've last seen it," Gerrik commented.

They looked over Fibeslay for a minute longer, until Gerrik said, "Come on, let's go."

They descended from the hill and started walking through the outskirts of Fibeslay. Here were farms which helped to feed the village. Although most of Fibeslay's food came from fishing, agriculture was starting to be implemented. Gerrik noticed with a touch of pride that some of the farmers were using instructional aides produced in Tallgrass to help establish their fields.

They soon made it to the town proper, with huts and houses crammed together along narrow muddy streets. They navigated around busy hain carrying bundles of food or materials or crafted goods, past groups of children playing and around racks of things drying. As Elword followed behind Gerrik, he noticed that Gerrik wasn't really looking where he was going, or anywhere in particular, although he was having no trouble navigating.

"It's a lot to take in, isn't it?" Elword said.

Gerrik nodded slightly. "Yes. I can't perceive it all at once, so we may be walking for a bit."

They wandered through the streets of Fibeslay, zig-zagging along to cover the most area. As they passed near the chieftain's hut, Gerrik glanced towards it. "Bard's not there any more."

"Who?" Elword asked.

"The chief when I was last here. He wasn't exactly young when I met him, and it's been a few years since then."

Elword inspected Gerrik's face as they kept walking. Gerrik appeared unperturbed. "What's it like, living so long? Things like this would happen often."

"Not as often as you'd think. I've rarely visited the same village twice on my travels, so outliving people has not been a huge concern of mine until recently," Gerrik replied.

"You don't want to outlive your family."

Gerrik was silent for a moment. "No, I don't. Although, there are benefits. You have a nearly unlimited amount of time in which to learn new things, train new skills and travel to distant places. And, with any luck, you'll outlive your enemies."

"Let me guess, you haven't found Shammik."

"Not yet. It's not definitive; he could be elsewhere. I can tell that someone has taken over Bard's position as chief, which implies either his death or retirement. Shammik was just a craftshain, and there are many of those around, although his absence is promising. There are still some of the other craftshain who were there with him, though, but I can't say whether they've kept to Shammik's lies or seen sense without more information."

A short while later Gerrik and Elword reached the market. The market sat by the docks, where merchant ships could unload to sell their wares and buy goods which could be shipped abroad. A wide road led from the market out of the village to allow overland merchants easy access to the market. The market contained many stalls where merchants were brokering deals and showing their wares. There was even a human amidst the hain merchants, easily spotted due to her height, who was selling fine silk from a distant land.

Gerrik pushed his way through the crowd, with Elword trailing behind him, until he reached some sailors unpacking boxes of spices from their boat. "Hello! Is business going well?" Gerrik hailed.

The sailors looked up, and one of them paused from his work to greet Gerrik. "Hello. Yes, so far. We've managed to ship these spices from down south. We should be able to get a good return on them." He gestured to the crates, as though offering for Gerrik to sample some.

Gerrik ignored the spices. "I'm more interested in travel. Have you ever sailed to Alefpria?"

"Alefpria! That's an ambitious destination," the sailor-merchant exclaimed. "Never been there myself, but I've heard about it. They've got a lighthouse, I hear, and the biggest docks you've ever seen. Ruled by a child of the gods, they say. People of races you haven't even heard of gather there. And they have riches beyond measure." He let out a hearty laugh. "Why do you ask?"

"I want to go there," Gerrik replied.

"Ah, well, it's a long trip there, I hear. On the far side of the ocean, beyond the range of any of our boats. Maybe you could take the journey in pieces."

Gerrik nodded. "I expected as much. Thank you for your assistance."

"No problem. Good luck on your adventure."

Gerrik turned back to Elword and stepped away from the sailors.

"What now?" Elword asked.

Gerrik pointed over the heads of the crowd along the dock. "We ask those two."

It is difficult for most non-hain to be inconspicuous amongst hain due to the great difference in height, but these two were particularly conspicuous due to their bright colours. The taller one was iridescent green, while the shorter one (although still much taller than any hain) was green and brown. Both had skin, but no hair, and they had webbing and frills protruding from some of their fleshy bits. They moved gracefully and wore fine clothing.

"Quara korala," Gerrik said, "I met one when I learned of Alefpria. Part of an order called the Grand Parade. Their homeland isn't far from Alefpria, so they're probably our best chance for getting to Alefpria. Provided they're not being secretive or something."

More successful in maintaining his secrecy was a rather inconspicuous elderly hain who sat behind a stall of clay pots and figurines, watching the duo with interest. Old Maro had not thought he would live to see the return of Gerrik, but there he was. And, unless his old eyes deceived him, the hain looked not a day older than fourteen years ago. Evidence confirming, to Maro's believing heart, that Gerrik had been right all those years ago and that he had not strayed in taking up his teachings and calling the craftshain of Fibeslay to venerating him. And Maro had known that Gerrik would not simply leave them to Shammik's heretical and dangerous ways, knew with certainty that he would return one day. And there he was.

'Gerraken,' old Maro spoke. A young craftshain beside him looked up.

'Yes, master?' Maro gestured with a hand towards Gerrik and his companion.

'Do you see those two?' The young craftshain turned his head to the side and looked in the direction Maro had pointed. Spying the two strange hain, he nodded. 'I may be old and half-way senile, but that's one face I can't ever forget. That's Gerrik-Lightbringer, or I'm a toadstool.'

Gerraken's eyes widened momentarily before his beak rose up in joy. 'I will go to him and bid him come with me!' The excited craftshain said, rising. Maro nodded, reaching for his walking stick and rising also.

'I will have the others gather at the usual place. The day of our redemption is here at last.' And the old craftshain hobbled off as Gerraken rushed off, paying no heed to the stall and all on it.

As Gerrik and Elword made their way through the crowd, Gerrik said quietly, "Someone's following us."

Elword's beak turned slightly (it does not take much for a hain to look behind them).

"A supporter, it seems," Gerrik continued in conspiratorial tones, not breaking his stride. "Maro was one of the few craftshain who were perhaps on my side back then, although was unable to act in my favour against Shammik. From what he just said, there are other supporters who he is gathering now. He called me 'Lightbringer' and said this is the day of their redemption. It appears that the lies spread by Shammik have taken hold among some, but a resistance has formed. Also, the young hain following us is called Gerraken, at least by Maro. A very telling name. He's about a few moultings past his second hatching, I'd say, which means he's adopted the name at some point rather than receiving it at birth. Regardless, it means things have gotten a lot more interesting than I anticipated over the past few years.

"Don't worry too much about him yet, though. We'll deal with the quara first." Gerrik and Elword finally made it to the quara korala just as they had finished speaking with some other merchants. Gerrik hailed them. "Hello. How was your journey here?"

The taller Quara just sideglanced at the traveler while continuing to work on polishing up a small silver bracelet. The shorter one smiled and nodded at the Hain. "Good day! Our journey was thankfully safe, even as we visited many, many lands since when we first left the grand city of Alefpria."

"That is fortunate. In fact, I am planning to travel to Alefpria myself. Would it be possible for you to provide any assistance in that matter?" Gerrik asked.

The taller one turned towards him. "It depends on what you define as assistance.." he shook his head. "We can provide maps, we can perhaps sell things that could help in such a journey, but our religion does not allow for foreign people in our caravans; we are a pilgrimage, after all, and we follow very strict rules."

Gerrik cocked his head. "Is that so? The pilgrimage I met led by Salassar-Madori contained at least one foreigner. Susa and Lakshmi might not be foreigners to Alefpria, but it was quite clear that Chroma was very foreign."

The short one looked to the tall one, both staring at each other for a moment, communicating in unspoken words by use of their color shifting skin. To know about all that, about Susa, about Chroma...

"You know master Salassar?" the short one asked, turning towards Gerrik; in a trick move, he spoke in Alefprian.

The language was totally unfamiliar to Gerrik, although 'Salassar' needed no translating and the inflection indicated a question. "I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that language. Did you ask something about Salassar?"

The tall one said, "We asked you about whether you knew master Salassar. He had spoken in Alefprian, which would be useful for someone going to Alefpria to know." Which, from the complexity of the language, implied that the hain had no place there.

"I met Salassar and the First Parade fifteen years ago in the village of Susa. I had been directed there by a dream, and went to meet Susa the Huntress, a fellow travelling teacher. When I got there she had only just returned from a long absence, and Salassar was with her and was able to translate between us. I stayed the day and night with them, and we conversed. Salassar suggested that I go here to see some of the work the Grand Parade had done. It was here that I discovered a lighthouse had been commissioned by the Grand Parade, yet no one could build it, so I designed the lighthouse and oversaw its construction." Gerrik gestured across the bay to the lighthouse on Hillisle.

"The lighthouse... you must be Gerrik. We have heard much about you," the tall one said. “Even after traveling so much, we have trouble telling apart any of the Quara that were not Korala.”

The short one grabbed Gerrik by the shoulder. "You should have told us your name sooner, friend. Although, I could tell you were no ordinary hain. You had an aura of distinction about you."

"I think some proper introductions are in order. I am Gerrik Far-Teacher, and this is my apprentice Elword," Gerrik said.

"To keep it brief, I am Mugnas and this is Zantor," the tall one said.

"Do not be too worried about the language. It is my god-given talent to learn quickly, and there should be enough time on the trip over," Gerrik said.

"We travel here on special boats direct from the capital," Mugnas explained, "They are a bit uncomfortable for us mortals, but they are faster than any other means of transportation. The lighthouse cloaks the ships in illusions so that they are invisible in the dock, although you should have no trouble seeing through such illusions."

"When do you depart?" Gerrik inquired, "Since I have some unexpected important business here to attend to and I am unsure how long it will be."

"I suspected that might be the case. We leave tomorrow evening. However, another boat carrying cargo from the capital will be here at the end of the week, although there will be no one on that boat."

Gerrik's jaw clenched briefly. Time would be tight. "Thank you, Mugnas and Zantor. You have been of great assistance."

Then Gerrik turned and stepped away into the crowd of hain milling around the docks. He stopped suddenly in front of Gerraken.

"Did you wish to see me?" Gerrik asked.

Gerraken, who had busied himself with studying the wares of various stalls while keeping a close eye on Gerrik and his companion, was taken aback by the abruptness of the approach. He did, however, manage to regain enough composure to whisper, "Master, are you Gerrik Lightbringer?"

Gerrik nodded. "I am Gerrik Far-Teacher, whom you call Lightbringer." Gerraken raised an open palm heavenward in clear joy and, looking behind him warily, gestured for Gerrik and Elword to follow him.

‘If you would, Master, there are those who are waiting for you.’ And backing away, Gerraken turned and began making his slow and cautious way through the streets. Once Gerrik and Elword were beside him, he inquired about Elword’s name before explaining to both in hushed whispers, as they wove their way through back-alleys and little-known paths, about how they had been expecting Gerrik Lightbringer, the greatest of the Chippers, the most enlightened and true to the ways of Stone Chipper. ‘I was but a hatchling when you first came, and I can’t well remember what happened beyond that terrible creature from the sky, but Master Maro tells us Shammik and his people treated you horribly and cast you out. They have not ceased cursing your noble name since, Master! I am certain that if they knew you were here they would go into a frenzy!’

Gerrik nodded gravely. “I suspected as much. Tell me, Gerraken, is Shammik still around?”

The other hain shook his head. ‘No Master, Shammik perished in an odd incident not too long ago. I don’t know much about the details, but he was found crushed under a rock he managed to force from the great lighthouse. He always disliked it - perhaps he thought to bring it down somehow. Either way, the damage he did was quickly fixed.’

“He had wanted to tear down the lighthouse back when he ‘banished’ me, although Maro managed to talk him and the others down from that extreme,” Gerrik said. He reflected silently on the news of Shammik’s passing for a few moments. Then Gerrik looked ahead. “I see we are almost there. I look forward to meeting the other faithful Chippers.”

And with those final words from the great master, Gerraken paused and looked with a single eye to the darkening sky above. Night falls, he thought, and darkness descends - but our light here ascends. And he turned into a doorway and led Gerrik and Elword through a narrow passage at the end of which was a round wooden door. Gerraken knocked on it and, after a brief wait, it swung open to reveal a large well-lit gallery filled with hain of all shapes and sizes staring expectantly.

‘The Master is returned!’ a declaration sounded, and Elword was immediately swept aside as hands reached out for Gerrik and he was carried on shoulders - even as all in the room attempted to navigate closer to him - to a raised wooden chair at the other end of the great room. Gerraken, who had also been swept aside in the excitement, looked to Elword and raised an open palm sheepishly.
‘Forgive them sir, they are full of joy and relief - they meant no insult.’

Elword was still staring in disbelief at the scene in front of him. He had known Gerrik for years. He had seen many other Chippers in his time. But never had he seen any group of Chippers so fanatical. Elword flicked his hand towards Gerraken in a gesture which ended with an upwards palm. “Uh, yes.”

With Gerrik firmly established on his throne of sorts, and with old Maro seated on a stool before the others, silence slowly began to fall. And all eyes turned to Gerrik in expectation.

Gerrik’s eyes scanned across the expectant faces. Although he was almost as surprised as Elword at this greeting, he did not show it. Once he had their attention, Gerrik spoke. “Faithful Chippers, I thank you for this warm greeting. I see that you have been troubled by Shammik’s followers. It grieved me to see, fourteen years ago, Shammik lead astray so many Chippers from the will of Stone Chipper. And I see that his zealotry to stop the mission of the Chippers lives on to this day. So I ask you all this: What have you done about it?”

His words were met with an excited surge in noise as each faithful Chipper attempted to explain, in so many words, what they had been through and the countermeasures they had individually and communally implemented. The barrage of noise continued for some thirty seconds before all those gathered realised they were not getting anywhere and quietened down. But though it may have been indecipherable noise to Elword or Gerraken, Gerrik heard.

‘When that Ono tried to steal my innovative tomato and pea soup - with a sprinkle of sea-salt, that’s very important - I showed him whatfo-’ one young male Chipper chirruped, before his voice trailed away into silence. ‘And I led the effort to fix the lighthouse when that nefarious Shammik died trying to sabotage it!’ A female declared - and some dozen others around her rushed to claim that they had helped too. ‘And I spoke with young Jindchin here - why he was a right Shammikist zealot not more than a year ago - and I made him see the light!’ And the rather elderly hain who spoke was quick to bring Jindchin forward for Gerrik to see.

When silence fell, the one who stood to speak declared that it had been his idea to have a safe haven in the growing town of Fibeslay, a place none would notice or know of, where they would be safe from the constant harassment and repressive ways of the Shammikists. ‘And more importantly,’ he declared, ‘a place from where we can build up and prepare - Fibeslay must be purged of the Shammikist scourge!’ There were some murmurs of approval here and there, and disgruntled harrumphs.

Maro, who had remained seated and silent, spoke up. ‘Now Goxiq, we have spoken of this matter before and it is no way to go about this. Whatever our quarrel with Shammik’s disciples, we do not spill blood. We have no such authority. When Shammik called for the death of the Master, was that not the retort that stayed the Shammikist hand Master?’ And so saying, Maro turned to Gerrik expectantly.

Gerrik pointed a scowl at Goxiq. “That is true, Maro. I had pointedly asserted that the authority to banish or execute lay with the chief alone. What you propose, Goxiq, is nothing short of murder, and Stone Chipper would be appalled at the thought. Put those foolish ideas aside and let us discuss a more civil solution.”

Goxiq was visibly crestfallen at Gerrik’s decision and made to protest, ‘but Master - these people are not civil. For fourteen years they have preyed on us and incited the people against Chippers. For fourteen years they have cursed your name and warned the people of Fibeslay against you and your potential return - lying and defaming your good name, painting your generosity in saving Fibeslay as some kind of divine retribution against them all for harbouring you. Their sole purpose has been our destruction - how are we to be civil with the likes of these?’

Gerrik grit his teeth. This was what he had hoped wouldn’t happen in his absence. Another hurdle to deal with. Gerrik leaned forwards to address Goxiq. “Tell me, Goxiq, have you ever killed a hain?”

The Chipper shook his head firmly at this. ‘No Master, I have never had cause or reason, and the matter is unpalatable to me. I am a Chipper, not a killer.’

“And yet you suggest that ‘Fibeslay must be purged of the Shammikist scourge’?”

‘But Master, we are manifestly in the right, and they are astray - and not only astray, but ruthlessly insistent on being so. What is to be done with such as these? You have the weight of Stone Chipper behind you, His judgment and justice. What does He command? You will find us faithful and obedient, trusting in Stone Chipper’s justice.’

Gerrik leaned back slowly and closed his eyes briefly.

A solid conundrum.

Your advice?

You have everything I taught you. Collect more data on the Shammikists. See if you can find any way to dissuade or subvert them.

Gerrik opened his eyes and spoke. “Never before have Chippers been asked to take up arms in Stone Chipper’s name, and he does not ask it now. Our ways are peaceful. Those who reject Stone Chipper’s light may wallow in ignorance, but it is not our place to force ourselves upon others. Do not let Stone Chipper’s name by stained by blood you spill.” Gerrik turned his eyes towards the other hain and his focus settled on Jindchin. “Jindchin, you used to follow Shammik’s teaching. Why did you change?”

The young hain - perhaps eighteen or nineteen years - seemed terrified at being addressed directly by Gerrik himself. ‘W-why did uh- I? Well, uh. Sodir,’ he gestured to the old hain who had pushed him forward, ‘was very- very convincing. He told me a g-great deal about … well, everything. It made me want to know more - that’s good, right? Wanting to know. That’s why I’m here. Are you- you’re not angry with me are you? I didn’t do anything wrong!’

Gerrik stared down Jindchin for a couple of seconds. Gerrik could read every subtle cue in the young hain’s body language and physiology, and their message to Gerrik was particularly blatant. “I just wanted to know more,” he finally said, before casting his focus back to the room as a whole.

“If we want Chippers to be able to act freely in Fibeslay, it won’t be enough to get rid of the Shammikists. An outburst of violence would only reinforce the fear which the general populace have for us, which the Shammikists have sown. Even if the Shammikists were to be removed peacefully, the ideas they have sown amongst the people of Fibeslay would remain. Our efforts, then, must be to undermine Shammik’s lies and turn public opinion in our favour.” Gerrik paused for a moment, then continued. “Have you seen the artwork obtained from the trade routes towards the south? Specifically, that artwork with diagrams of tools, plants and other instructional aids. I saw farmers using such items, and I’d guess that many of you would possess such items as well.”

The gathered Chippers murmured and nodded, clearly aware of these. ‘I got my pea and tomato soup idea from something I saw in one of those! But the salt was my idea - lots of experimenting true, but it tastes divine.’

“I made those, along with my apprentice Elword,” Gerrik briefly gestured towards Elword up the back to identify him to the crowd and all heads immediately turned to the apprentice in admiration (other than Goxiq, who seemed rather shocked), “so that we can teach without even being present. And that Chipper business spread through Fibeslay in spite of the Shammikists.

“We have a key advantage over the Shammikists. The population of Fibeslay has grown enormously since I was last here. Many of these people have migrated here from distant villages. They do not share the cultural prejudices of the natives. Their ancestors never warred against Chippers. They never falsely thought of the Blinding Purge as being sent by Stone Chipper. Chippers practice freely in lands beyond Shammik’s reach, and many of them must have come here. Tell me, what happens when a new Chipper arrives in Fibeslay?”

Goxiq stepped up to respond, glancing ever so briefly at Elword before responding, ‘My experience, Master, is not unique. I am not of Fibeslay, but was for a long time a travelling Chipper, as were my fathers and grandfathers before me. We followed in the footsteps of Stone Chipper and His chosen apprentice - you. I had for many years desired to… well, that is of no matter. My travels brought me here, where I was almost immediately set upon by those fiends. They castigated me for coming here with my beliefs and ideas, they called upon the people to cast me out or have me imprisoned. No one responded, naturally - at least, not everyone. Some places I could not venture or else I would be stoned or pelted with filth. In some neighbourhoods they bribed the children into harassing me in groups. When I offered my services to any, they cajoled and blackmailed them until they refrained from dealing with me. I desired very much to leave, and had I not been taken in by these faithful Chippers - who promised me that Gerrik had been here once and would return anew - I would surely have left. Sodir there, he is older than me, nearly as old as Maro; his travels brought him here also and they had no mercy even on an old hain such as he. And the stories are endless Master. But it is true that in recent years more and more Chippers have begun to slip through unharmed - so long as one does not stay too long, they might not even notice the Shammikists at all. But we locals know and feel it all too well.’

Even as Goxiq spoke, young Jindchin backed away from where Sodir had placed him and made a silent exit. Gerraken gave him an odd look, then murmured something to Elword about the relatively new Adventist being overwhelmed and meaning no disrespect.

Just as Jindchin placed his hand on the door, Gerrik called out, “Where are you going, Jindchin?”

The young hain froze in his steps and looked over his shoulder. ‘I- I must go, M-Master. This gathering- uh. This gathering was called for at a very, very short notice. It is late, my sister- she is not well today. And my father is- she needs me, is what I’m trying to say. So please, if you don’t mind. I didn’t want to disturb anyone. I’ll go quietly.’ He began to open the door, still looking behind him in mild terror.

Gerrik rose to his feet and began to walk towards Jindchin. “Oh, it’s no trouble. I’ll see you out safely to the street; make sure no Shammikists hinder your journey.” Despite his clear fear, Jindchin remained rooted in his place.

‘I-I really don’t think- but if you say so. I- I guess I’m safer with… you.’

“Good, good,” Gerrik said as he reached Jindchin, laid a hand on his shoulder and led the young hain out the door. Before the door closed behind them, Gerrik said to the Chippers, “Talk amongst yourselves.” Then the door shut.

Gerrik led Jindchin a few paces away from the door, away from any eavesdroppers. With a firm hand on Jindchin’s shoulder, Gerrik said in a low voice, “Sodir never convinced you of anything, didn’t he?”
‘Wh- what do-’
“I’m not going to hurt you. I meant what I said about that. But don’t think I can’t see through your lies.”
Jindchin was silent for a few seconds, his eyes wide. He gulped silently and his teeth chattered somewhat as he looked at the older hain. ‘I don’t care for Shammik. I- I don’t care for… for… you,’ he winced slightly and his chattering grew louder. ‘If I tell them everything, they’ll let my father go. Forgive his debt. That is all. Please, let me go.’

Gerrik thought for a few moments, although his eyes clearly softened. “Is your father being held unlawfully?”

Jindchin shook his head. ‘They’re not as evil as you people make out. Of course it’s not unlawful - they reported him to the chief, and the chief had him detained. Unless the debt is paid or is forgiven, he will not be released. If I do this, they will forgive it. Th- that is all. Please…’

“First, how much do you know of the Shammikists? How many of them are there? What’s their power structure? What resources do they control?”

‘I- I don’t know. I only ever spoke with Vidin. But your people know many of them by name and face - their leader is Heyek. I saw him when he was with the chief. The chief listened to him seriously. Nothing we said could dissuade him when Heyek brought the matter before him. But he doesn’t seem cruel - if I keep my end he’ll… uh. Vidin is… a thug. I mean, I don’t know if he’s really a thug, but he’s not very nice to me. He, uh, he has a daughter. P-pretty. But she’s not with them. I don’t think. Your people know the others, I don’t know anyone else. Please.’ He seemed to have calmed down somewhat, somewhat secure in the knowledge that Gerrik wished him no harm, ‘will you… you said you would let me go. No harm.’

Gerrik stared into Jindchin’s eyes for a few moments longer. Then he released his grip on the hain’s shoulder. “How long until you deliver your report to them?”

Jindchin hesitated, then spoke more certainly. ‘Vidin hates it when I come to him late at night. Last time I did he kicked me and wouldn’t listen. I have to go tell him now - b-but maybe he won’t listen. Then I’ll tell him in the morning.’ He glanced up the dark passageway then back at Gerrik, as if waiting for his permission.

“I hope things turn out better for you,” Gerrik said. He turned back to the door. “I’ll see you later.”

‘P-please sir,’ Jindchin chittered, ‘you’re… you’re good, I see that. Don’t tell the others. I- I don’t want them to hate me.’ And without waiting for a response, he turned and fled up the passageway and into the night.

Gerrik paused for a couple of seconds to watch him go. Then he opened the door and stepped back into the gallery.

The Chippers were huddled in groups within talking with a greater sobriety than had existed before. The matter of how to deal with the Shammikists had clearly haunted them for a very long time and what Gerrik presented to them was not the immediate deliverance they had foreseen. Goxiq had made his way towards Elword and appeared to be deep in conversation with the other hain. Despite the situation, Goxiq was already deep into explaining his idea for explaining the concept of nothing in mathematical terms. ‘We have numbers of course, one hain, two hain, three hain - but how would we explain no hain mathematically? I’ve been haunted by this for the longest time - but see, I think I might just have the solution…’

On Gerrik’s entry, all eyes turned to him and Gerraken took a peek out the door to see if Jindchin was still there. ‘Is everything alright Master? Jindchin seemed to be in quite a state.’

“Jindchin’s family is in a poor state at the moment and he is quite distressed about it. I sent him safely on his way.” Gerrik closed the door behind him. “But now, to the matter at hand. The Shammikists clearly have considerable resources and influence, with which they can manipulate the population against us. To plan our countermeasures, I will need to know details. How many Shammikists are there? Who are their key members? What assets do they control? What assets do we control? And also, tell me about Fibeslay’s chief.”

Goxiq and Maro took it in turns to explain the situation. The current chief was a second cousin of the one Gerrik had known and had overseen the swift expansion of his village into a bustling centre of trade. The influx of foreigners meant that he emphasised the importance of law and order - those who did not respect his laws and the peace of Fibeslay were punished swiftly and severely.
The Shammikists formed a powerful guild of sorts - many of them were traders and craftsmen who worked together, agreeing on prices and ensuring the quality of their wares never fell below a certain level. They prided themselves on the quality of their wares and for being the “truly authentic” craftsmen and traders of Fibeslay. There was no great hostility between them and the general populace, and the chief generally listened to them and accepted their generous “donations” to the cause of Fibeslay’s growth and prosperity. They did not take kindly, however, to self-professed Chippers, and this was known. Many attributed this distaste for Chippers to the fact that they could compete with the wares and prices the Shammikists offered - though any close examination of this theory revealed that it was fallacious, for the Shammikists did not treat with suspicion exotic people from across the sea who came with strange and wonderful goods. But that was the view most held, and no one thought too much on it.

The central figure in this “Shammikist guild” was Heyek, a close friend and disciple of Shammik. He was a metalsmith, and a skilled one at that, though he had for the past few years taken to buying and selling goods and leaving his forge to a few of his apprentices. Heyek, Goxiq admitted, did not wish for an all out war to start of Fibeslay’s streets - he favoured threats and blackmail, and proselytisation. On the one occasion Goxiq had conversed with the hain he had made clear that Chipper disputes should stay between Chippers, and it seemed his view had not changed in that regard.

As for those who awaited Gerrik’s return, they were few - many had left Fibeslay over the years. Those who remained were skilled craftsmen or apprentices. The Shammikists considered them competitors and advised all merchants and craftsmen in Fibeslay to charge them extra and not buy their goods, and that had meant that many of them had to sell their shops and find other means of work - most did simple labour, though senior citizens of Fibeslay (like Maro) commanded enough respect not to be targeted. Maro’s wares alone sustained a few families. Goxiq - whose wares were of such quality that merchants could not resist buying them - supported the greatest number of families. With their profits going on ensuring others survived, little remained to expand their businesses or compete with the Shammikists.

Once Maro and Goxiq had said all they could think of they fell silent and looked to Gerrik.

Gerrik sat for a while in silent contemplation. Synthesising the just-received data and his hundreds of years of experience with hain interactions, Gerrik imagined scenarios and trailed strategies in them. It seemed that the balance of power was stacked against him and these Chippers, and he could not expect the kind of intervention received at Hillfort. But there was still one path which could be taken.

Gerrik finally spoke, breaking the silence. “What do Chippers do?”

The assembled hain were silent for a few moments as they considered this odd and direct question. ‘Chippers build!’ Someone declared.
‘No! The answer is obvious and is in our very name - the essence of Chippers is to chip. Chipping is a specific craft, but it represents all crafts in general. And so that is what Chippers are - craftshain and artisans.’ Other disputed this and gave their own definitions - chipping is not a craft, but rather a metaphor for the act that a Chipper does, and that is to chip at ignorance; that Chippers follow Stone Chipper, that being what they ultimately do above all else; that the essence of being a Chipper is in fact in travelling and seeing and coming to know the world; that to be a Chipper is to seek truth; that Chippers, at their heart, seek mastery of the worldly elements -, but finally Gerrik spoke.

“Chippers seek knowledge and learning,” Gerrik said, “And after obtaining that knowledge, they seek to teach it to others, and use it to improve society. If we wish to overcome the resistance of the Shammikists, it is this we must focus on. We can’t beat them by crafting, so we shall teach. We shall find what the people desire to know, give it to them, and thus gain their trust. We must do this fearlessly and persistently, for will the people reject what they can see for themselves to be good? The Shammikists are strong, but they are a mere twig against the will of Stone Chipper, and they too are bound by the laws of this town.

“Now, listen carefully, for time is short. I shall tell you what each of you must do. We must capitalise on each of our talents, and reinforce where we are deficient, if we are to be successful. And each of you have a part to play if we wish for Chippers to be able to speak freely in this town.”

Over the next few hours, Gerrik provided clear instructions to each hain gathered. He spoke with them, identified the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, built up his knowledge of Fibeslay, and assigned tasks to each Chipper. Some were to teach the young. Some were to provide aid to the needy. Some were to treat the ill. Many were to raise conversations with their colleagues while labouring. A few were to travel to neighbouring towns outside the reach of the Shammikists and enlist support from other Chippers, especially covering skills which were lacking among the Chippers in Fibeslay. If specialist knowledge was needed for any of the tasks, Gerrik provided it in a form that was clear and concise. Elword would be present to provide assistance where it was most needed, and provide teaching expertise in the most valuable areas. In this way Gerrik outlined how the Chippers would evangelise to the people of Fibeslay. The last person to be covered in Gerrik’s plan was himself.

“As for myself, at dawn I shall attain an audience with the chief. Individually, you can enact change among the people you interact with on a daily basis; the importance of this cannot be understated. But I can reach a higher sphere of influence. I shall gain the chieftain’s support, and I shall also seek a project similar to the lighthouse for which we can utilise our skills.”

Gerrik stood up and walked forwards. “There is one last thing to do before we retire to our beds for the night.” He turned around and pointed at the wooden throne. “While a generous gesture, this chair must go.” Gerrik held up a palm to still the protests of the hain. “Imagine the slander the Shammikists would spread if they discovered that you had built a throne for a foreign chief. It cannot stay here as it is.”

Maro looked to Goxiq, and the proud Chipper looked away uncomfortably. The brief silence was broken by Maro.

‘It will be as you say, Mast- hmm, it will be as you say, Gerrik, for your advice is sound.’ And with that the gathered Chippers began to make their way out. Some approached Gerrik with questions, others simply wanted to touch to touch his shoulder in a display of respect. Goxiq watched quietly for a minute or so, clearly deep in thought. None approached him, and he departed alone.

Gerrik watched as the gathered hain trickled out. Gerrik got a few hain to help him move the wooden throne aside and hid it under some cloths and behind some furniture. Then Maro led Gerrik and Elword out through the streets of Fibeslay to his own home, where he offered to let them stay during their time in Fibeslay. They had supper before Elword and Maro retired for the night, for it was late. Gerrik, however, turned towards the doorway.

“Where are you off to?”

The question came from Elword, laying in his hammock.

“Scouting and investigating,” Gerrik replied. “I have until tomorrow morning to know the layout and situation of this town.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to sleep? You have a big day tomorrow.”

“You should sleep. As for me, the overall impact of a missed night’s sleep on my performance is negligible.” Just as he was about to leave, Maro made his presence known.

‘Gerrik, if you are going then take this,’ and he handed the master Chipper a small, wooden sculpture, ‘it is for Goxiq. He is a proud hain - and with good reason - and the events of this day have no doubt shaken him. Perhaps you should reassure him. He sits at the top of the lighthouse whenever things weigh him down.’ Leaving the small piece with Gerrik, Maro retreated to his chamber and all was quiet once more. Gerrik then pushed his way through the curtain of Maro’s abode and exited into the night.

It would indeed be a big day tomorrow.

I had went on an read that part of the post without the song. The second piece of music linked worked fine, though.
@Muttonhawk That was worth the read.

Although, I have one criticism.

@Lauder Amestris are the city states which lie between the Ironhearts (on their East slopes) and the Metatic Ocean. The city of Xerxes used to be their capital, and Amartia used to be their leader.
@Muttonhawk *barely contained excitement* Is it time now? Can Teknall meet Conata now?
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