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    1. Ciaran 7 yrs ago


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2 yrs ago
Current We got a new Skynd release. Today is a good day.
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2 yrs ago
It's been a few years, but yeah... I'm thinking I'm back
5 yrs ago
Really in the mood for some gothic steampunk right now.
5 yrs ago
Alright guys, I'm back. Will be posting very soon.
5 yrs ago
Estimating about two weeks until I can get my laptop replaced and my posting will be back up to speed.


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A search for meaning

The steady, rhythmic thumping of Exordium's heavy footsteps broke through the quiet of a country path, worn down by the occasional traveller but still too young to be called a road. He - for Exordium had decided to go by "he" - was on his way to Earthwall. He didn't know what he expected to find there. In fact, he wasn't sure of any kind of objective at all. His creator merely wanted him to be independent, to think freely, which of course prohibited her from giving him any kind of objective of her own creation. But that had left him feeling aimless. He had come to the conclusion that if gained some life experience, which at present he sorely lacked, he might begin to want something. Thus, he sought out the elves. It was ironic really. His goal had become to look for a goal.

It was after some time walking that Exordium made out the distant shapes of what appeared to be a group of elves, gathered around some indistinct shapes on the ground. Interested in meeting other mortal beings for the first time, Exordium hurried forwards, but was soon disturbed by the realisation that the shapes on the ground were also elves - or rather, their bodies. At this point, the living ones had already seen him, so there was little point in backing off now. Still, Exordium slowed his pace.

It was abundantly clear now he was close enough to see in detail that the casualties were not the result of any accident. The surviving elves were a rough bunch, wearing pieced-together armour and wielding weapons that looked like they had once been farming implements. Most had one scar or another, and they had probably cut their greasy hair by their reflections in puddles. The two on the ground, on the other hand - a man and a woman - were finely dressed and had probably been clean before they hit the dirt. One of the living elves had been crouching over the body of the male one before he'd noticed Exordium approaching.

Well, well, well. There was barely such a thing as a highway yet, but already there had been a robbery.

Exordium came to a stop a short distance from the bandits. One of them, an elf with long hair on one side of his head, but hacked close to the scalp on the other, stepped to the front of the group. Judging by the looks the others gave him, he was probably the leader. He looked Exordium straight in the eye sockets, and said "What the fuck are you?"

Exordium hesitated. "I- my name is Exordium," he said.

The group began to faintly murmur among each other. The leader told them to shut up.

"That's all I needed to hear. You've seen our faces, and you're smart enough to talk." He took a few steps forward. "Do you know what that means?"

"I understand your point. However, I don't advise you follow that course of action."

"What are you gonna do?" the elf laughed, and spread his arms wide to indicate his brethren. "There's five of us, and one of you."

Exordium knew exactly what he was going to do, but he wasn't about to tell them that. So he just shrugged. The elf laughed again, and impressively quickly, hefted the woodsman's axe he had been carrying, and swung it at Exordium's face. To his credit, it was a powerful swing. But he was still swinging at solid bronze. The axe blade bounced off Exordium's face with a sonorous dong, leaving a wide scratch diagonally down from his left eye. The pain was much worse than Exordium had expected - one thing he would take up with his creator if he ever saw her again - but all in all the damage was cosmetic. So Exordium just sighed and punched the elf full force in the face.

Something in the elf's head audibly cracked, and he dropped instantly. Dead or unconscious, Exordium wasn't sure.

The rest of the bandits collectively took a step back. That exchange had taken place too quick for any of them to react, and seeing their leader fall clearly scared them.

Exordium took advantage of that. "Leave," he said, intentionally dropping his voice about an octave.

The elves hesitated for just a moment, then obeyed.

Exordium relaxed. He didn't have a breath to hold, nor a heart to beat faster, but internally he had been holding a tension caused by the dangerous situation he had found himself in. At some point, it had begun to gently rain, but only now did he notice. There was something else he only noticed now, a sound. It was a child, crying. Exordium followed the sound to the body of one of the murdered elves - the woman. He gently rolled her aside, and beneath her found an elven baby, crying. Exordium went still for a few seconds as he realised she had probably been defending the baby beneath her when she was murdered, and that had he been even a few minutes earlier that might never have happened.

"Don't worry, little one," he said at last. "You, at least, shall live."

In a quiet field somewhere far from the few civilised places that yet existed in the world, there was suddenly the sound of ticking where once it had been silent. Had there been any mortals present to hear it, they probably would've likened the sound to something an insect would make. Only, this was far more regular than anything in nature. Two beats per second, every second, with mathematical precision.

In this remote pasture there lay a mighty stone, immense in size and overcome with moss, half-buried in the ground. In a world this young, you might think it was older than the earth it lay upon. You wouldn't be far from the truth. The stone was the origin of the ticking noise, though again, none were present to track it so.

Maat'eyi's arms outstretched and blast the stone apart from within, wings both feathered and metallic flaring out to their fullest span as she hung in the air for just a moment, before falling to the ground on her hands and knees. The ever-present ticking of her mechanical form accelerated to match her breathing and her heart, then all gradually slowed to a resting pace. Maat'eyi stood, and took bearing of her surroundings. The beautiful, starlit sky of the first night hung above her, and all around her were the walls of the immense crater she had just made. By her feet lay a smoking, ornate helmet that had been penetrated a shard of rock accelerated to incredible speed. It felt inexplicably familiar to Maat'eyi, so she picked it up and laid one finger upon the torn metal. An invisible force popped it back into place as the metal began to glow red from heat. Mere seconds later, it was fused together again such that not even a sign of the damage remained. Satisfied, Maat'eyi pulled it over her head and took flight.

As she took scope of the world, Maat'eyi realised quickly that she was somewhat late to the scene. The newborn earth had already been shaped by the wills of others like herself. She took it all in with a passionate curiosity, excited to make her own mark. A thousand miles passed beneath her gaze as she swept over the continent she had come into being upon. In particular, a swamp of blood stood out to her, but for now she was interested in more hospitable locales, so she made a note to return there some other time. Instead, she landed perhaps a mile from a city she didn't know was called Earthwall and set to work. She had seen the elves there, and they inspired her to create something similar.

Maat'eyi could have simply willed her vision into existence. It would've been faster, and easier. But that is not her way.

Instead, what she willed into being was a modest home, and a forge just outside. She also summoned the tools she would need, and the materials - predominantly bronze, but also a single diamond. She then set to work crafting her vision, not by any divine power but by her own hands. What would've taken a mortal blacksmith a number of weeks was finished by Maat'eyi in just a few hours.

Inside a skull made of bronze, clear blue light gradually grew brighter until it shone out of its glass eyes. The finished project lay on the table before Maat'eyi: a mechanical humanoid, seemingly alive and conscious. It was moulded to resemble an elf, since that was the only kind of sapient being Maat'eyi had ever come across, aside from herself. It had the impressions of a stern expression carved upon its face, and the approximate shape of long, neatly-kept hair made up part of the machine's head. The typical androgyny of the elves was only exaggerated by Maat'eyi's design for the machine; she had not wanted to force it into any one possible expression of itself. If she had succeeded, then it would have the free will to decide for itself how, or even if, it wanted to express anything resembling a conventional humanoid's gender.

Above all else, that was Maat'eyi's chief anxiety; had she created a being able to think for itself, or merely being programmed to act like it was thinking for itself? Well, only one way to find out.

The machine turned its head to make eye contact with Maat'eyi. With an awkward, tinny voice, it asked "Who am I?"

Maat'eyi smiled beneath her helmet. "I created you," she said "but I do not claim authority over you. Who you are is your decision to make. However, I offer you the name Exordium, if you would accept it."

"I would, it seems fitting," Exordium replied after a brief hesitation. "But I don't understand. Why are you so... skittish? Why do you take such pain not to make any assertion? It's not as though I would pose any threat to you, if I had a problem with it."

"I shall be blunt. I created you because I wanted to know if I could create a being that could learn and think for itself. Any assertion I might make would run the risk of manipulating you, thus corrupting that purpose. The best method would have been to ensure that you never meet me at all, only I thought that too cruel."

"Hmm..." Exordium trailed off. It seemed to resent being her experiment, but that only made Maat'eyi happy. Resentment, after all, suggests independence.

"I have left you with the method and materials I used to create you, if you wish to procreate. This home, too, is yours if you want it. You are not far from a city called Earthwall, if you wish to live among the elves. I have provided these things to make your existence easier, but please only absolve yourself of them if you wish to. Remember, all I want from you is to do what you want."

Exordium had been about to say "Thank you," but Maat'eyi had already shot off into the sky before it could finish.

Thanks, will do
Hey, folks. Are you still accepting new players?
Arlanna ap Tadgh

It came to Arlanna as a moderate surprise that she had been granted the superior seat over that of her husband. Not that surprising, of course, since of course she was far more familiar with Aedthel than him, but surprising nonetheless. She had expected Aedthel to observe more traditional practices than this. If he meant to communicate some kind of message through this decision, it was certainly an interesting one. Did he mean to suggest that he valued actions of loyalty over the authority of titles and traditions? Perhaps, or perhaps he merely preferred to sit closer to a friend rather than a stranger.

Of course, the vagueness of this message left room for fouler interpretations than her own; for the illusion of a veiled insult when no such thing was intended. Arlanna worried that Kerenatam might have come to such a conclusion, and so attempted to defuse the possibility before bad blood had a chance to fester. No doubt they had plenty of enemies at this summit already - it would be folly to encourage more, especially from those biased in their (or at least, her) favour.

"He means nothing by it," she murmured to Kerenatam "We have been friends for some years, whereas to my knowledge, he never met you - that is all. He means no insult either to you or your position, my love."

Matters only seemed to worsen when they learned how they were expected to prepare their own food. Kerenatam was a great warrior and a great leader, but his skills in the domestic arts were less impressive. Arlanna was internally debating whether giving him assistance would be less humiliating than allowing him to try by himself, in which case he would most likely fail. Was failure alone more honourable than victory with assistance in the culture of Aedthel's people? Arlanna did not know, but at a task as simple and menial as this one either was doubtless a cause for embarrassment.

Thankfully, Aedthel, or rather the one who spoke for Aedthel, managed to indicate that he was on Kerenatam's side in this unfortunate incident. With the offending member now dealt with, Arlanna took this opportunity to begin cooking her food. It was a necessary skill for a woman, at least of her culture, and she'd witnessed this particular practice several times when visiting Aedthel, even attempting it herself a few times, with an acceptable though unimpressive degree of success. Regardless, she hoped her husband would notice her doing this and subtly follow her lead, that he might seem capable without her or anyone else's assistance.
Arlanna ap Tadgh

Arlanna was impressed by the eagerness with which Aedthel's messengers took up their tasks. She had scarcely had to wait when a messenger returned to her with Aedthel's reply, which she took and read.

The message did not seem to suggest that Aedthel wanted to see her now, which Arlanna accepted as quite reasonable, as he had probably only just arrived himself and would need some time to get himself and his followers established. With that in mind, she decided to seek out any others who had arrived before her. She had complete trust in her ability to dislike them, but nonetheless they could prove useful.

Arlanna continued at a slow pace through the village, headed towards the hill. She passed many new arrivals along the way, all of varying degrees of brashness, though in Arlanna's eye they were not divided into loud and quiet. They were divided into predators and prey. The predators were neither wolves nor bears nor lions; they were the leaders with the largest of armies, the wisest of counsel, the greatest of reputation. They were either important allies to gain or threats to eliminate. Likewise, not a single rabbit nor deer lay among the prey, but instead were the leaders of those nations that could only flounder until they were devoured by one greater than them. Those nations were nothing more than a resource to be harvested.

One stood out from the group with more clarity than the others. Hridvir, whose fearsome reputation outgrew her natural social circles, was a source of intrigue for Arlanna. Anyone could tell she was was a predator.

A small group sat on the hillside, watching the arrivals similarly to Arlanna, though they had arrived early, which she considered wise. She could make out little detail from this distance, but gut instinct told her that these people would be significant in days to come. Predators.

After a few minutes longer, Arlanna wordlessly turned her horse around and headed back to where her servants had established camp, hoping to reconvene with her own people once more.
Arlanna ap Tadgh

Arlanna approached the village at a slow pace on horseback. Though she had left ahead of the rest of the party, aside from a small escort, she had intentionally been travelling without haste so that they would catch up with her only shortly after her own arrival. Besides, she enjoyed the peace of relative solitude here on the road far more than the clamour and bickering that would inevitably take place at the council. She saw no reason to end that peace prematurely.

A single crow watched her from the branch of a nearby tree. Arlanna met its gaze and smiled faintly. She had always felt a strange kinship to the birds, and having one present so soon before such an important event was a comforting omen.

Arlanna's party was small. Only two guards walked with her - though both were wealthy enough to own swords and skilled enough to wield them, this would still no doubt pale in comparison to of any of the chiefs' forces, including Kerenatam's. They were only really suitable for defending against animal attacks on the journey, or perhaps a lone assassin. Were any real fighting to break out during the council, they would be practically useless. Other than that, maybe half a dozen servants of various roles followed behind, along with another pair of guards watching for anything that might target the tail end of the troupe. All except Arlanna were on foot.

The party arrived shortly afterwards. No herald announced their arrival, as Arlanna's mouth worked perfectly well and she preferred to speak for herself. In this case, she could be seen as a kind of herald herself - Kerenatam's herald.

She began to seek out the other attendees of the council, leaving the servants to set up the camp but bringing all four guards with her. She soon encountered a very large, hard to miss procession which clearly belonged to a far more important personality than herself. If she hadn't recognised the colours that this chief preferred to adorn his attendants with, she would still have had no trouble recognising him due to the heralds which loudly announced his presence. It was practically imperceptible upon her face, but she was glad Aedthel was here. At a time like this, all familiar faces were welcome. So, without hesitation, she found one of Aedthel's followers and asked them to tell him that Arlanna ap Tadgh had arrived.

Town hall
@Ruler Inc

Paige was grateful for the help getting down, but she didn't want any more than absolutely necessary. When it seemed like Lynette and Britney were going to carry her down the stairs she told them that that wasn't necessary. "Just support my weak side, and make sure I don't fall," she said to Britney specifically, assuming she was the stronger of the pair. Even is she didn't mind being a burden to the others, she still wouldn't have been able to bear the indignation of being physically hoisted down the stairs.

Once they were downstairs, Paige joined the search through the archive. Frustratingly, she found nothing - though Britney's estimate seemed accurate, it would be a lot quicker if they found what they were looking for without having to search the whole place, not that it was likely they would be so lucky. Paige wanted this over and done with as soon as possible, not out of laziness, but out of a desire for safety. More time out here was more time when someone could be killed.

Paige turned when she heard the voice that she didn't recognise, but quickly decided it was best to stay out of this. The others were already trying to resolve it, and more people talking to the mayor at once probably wouldn't help. Besides, guns had always made Paige feel uncomfortable, but vastly more so after she herself had been shot. As a result, her decision was to stand back and draw as little attention to herself as possible. The mayor, if he had even a shred of sanity left, should be able to tell they were human with no difficulty at all.
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