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@Burthstone Let me tell you why: pinkbananamilk.files.wordpre..
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Shengshi

0MP/8FP





The Buajaoi rested atop a mountain in the northeast of Atokhekwoi, with Ohannakeloi considered carefully. The God-Crab had seen his daughter off previously, she was heading westward first and from there she knew that a great body of water that had to be crossed to reach the other continents. She could make her own decisions, and maybe even interact with others, it would be a good opportunity for her. But that was not Ohannakeloi’s concern for now, he had a far greater concern that was not so easily met with divine powers or the supreme ability of his form.

Two great questions dominated his mind, both that had vital matters of importance to the same core issue. Firstly, how does one respectfully ask if they can come visit? And Secondly, what kind of gift would show that he himself, the great Ohannakeloi, appreciated being able to visit? Clearly any gift should have some meaning to its recipient, but what could one do when they knew little of the style and manner one was making the gift for? This question seemed unanswerable for now, or at least not acceptably answerable. The first question, that one may be possible to answer. Ohannakeloi send out his message across Galbar to the mind of Shengshi.

“Shengshi, I wish to visit you, if you have the time and the patience for the company of one of your Divine fellows.”

There was a short pause. Then, in a gentle, deep voice came the reply: "Why, of course! I always have time at the request of a dear brother. You will find me aboard my ship sailing down Nanhe on the Foot. Please, come, come!"

“I’ll be there shortly.”

And with that the Buajaoi shot off from the mountain and streaked across the skies of northern Atokhekwoi, heading north to that continent. The journey was fairly short, nothing to impede a journey over open ocean for a divinely made craft. Ohannakeloi did run into some trouble over the fact that he had no idea what the Nanhe was but sorted it out well enough by following the biggest, and first, river he came across into the interior of the continent. He had to circle the craft around slowing down and lazily settling down to the river craft, he could have gone faster but seeing the artistry of the craft was something Ohannakeloi wanted to enjoy.

Most importantly for Ohannakeloi, it gave him an idea for the gift he felt was appropriate as the Buajaoi pulled up to the Jiangzhou and Ohannakeloi folded the stone of his craft so he could exit. As he approached, the river itself rose up like a mighty staircase that carried the crab aboard. Once there, a sea of servants filled the deck and cast themselves on the ground before him. “TEN THOUSAND YEARS AND MORE TO HIS HOLINESS OHANNAKELOI, THE KING OF STONE!” swiftly followed by a cheerful chuckle from the palace doors after a rhythmic pause.

“Welcome, dearest brother Ohannakeloi, welcome!” The snake slithered over with his arms spread wide apart in warm greeting, his tall form flanked by a servant on each side, one carrying a tray with two cups and a small pitcher and the other carrying a small bamboo steam basket oozing wonderful smells. The snake bowed and the servants kowtowed. “Welcome aboard my humble vessel. It has been far too long since we last saw one another - the Cradle of Creation must have been the last time, if I recall?”

“You do recall correctly, you are in fact only the second of our fellows I have spoken with or seen since that time but that makes it only the more welcome to see you now.” His happiness clear in his voice, Ohannakeloi had his claws raised attempting to make some gesture of similar nature. However, most notable was a blanketing feeling of awe sweeping the servants, his aura powerful and generally effective over mortals. “I have to thank you for this welcome, as I do for far more I do not doubt to come. Let me present you with a gift.” The servants seemed to refuse to look up from the deckfloor, seemingly deeming themselves unworthy to look upon such a perfect specimen of godhood. Divine hearing could pick up pops and plops as tears of awe dropped against the deck among the crowds.

The Divine Crab marshalled his divine effort to summon forth a block of stone and imbue it with specific power. On the outside it was covered in granite, inlaid with various gemstones, carved in much the same designs as found on the Jiangzhou, notably similar to ornaments on the towers. An open top of the granite covering revealed inside was a large form of jade, twice and long and wide and only a third so deep as its creator, while at first unclear as it formed it soon became apparent, it was the Jiangzhou itself along the Nanhe, at the present moment. The Buajaoi rested there by the Jiangzhou and if one looked carefully they could even see all those along the deck. The large jade landscape showed the changes, as it soon became apparent when the jade river seemed to flow and the landscape changed as the Jiangzhou continued its voyage. The detail was quite fine, but hard to make out all of it if one did not have the benefits of divine vision.

Ohannakeloi held it above himself, admittedly making him quite hard to see under it, and spoke. “My gift to you brother, so that you may survey that which you are surrounded without leaving the comfort of wherever you may be.” As an apparent after thought he added. “It is lighter than it looks.”

The snake was momentarily speechless. As the gift was delivered to him, he could not help but throw himself to the floor for a second, nearly counting as a push-up to save face. A sheen like the heliopolis’ twinkle in the river filled the snake’s eyes as he marvelled at the details and colours. He turned it around in his hands to oogle it some more, almost forgetting what he was supposed to do. A partial return to reality let him formulate the words: “My dearest, precious brother, in all my years of literature and poetry, I am completely without sufficient, adequate words that can describe this vibrant sensation of gratitude.” He ran his eyes over it one last time before offering it to a group of servants, who walked with their torsos inclined at a forty-five degree angle next to Ohannakeloi, that wrapped it in sheets of expensive silks and brought it inside the palace. “Please, allow me to express my deepest, most profound thanks with actions instead.” He snapped his fingers.

The crowds dissipated momentarily before they came back up with tables, pillows, a small stage, several pots of wine, instruments, wicker chests of gold and silk and, naturally, several towers of dishes. The snake turned to the servant on his right, the one carrying the wine, who poured two cups full, walked over to Ohannakeloi in a constant state of bowing, and knelt down as she offered a cup. “It is not nearly the same variety of beauty and generosity as your gift, brother, but please, join me for a few drinks and a meal while we reminisce about the past.”

Ohannakeloi took the cup as he responded, “I would be ever so delighted, of course I will join you.”

“Then, a toast before we sit down,” the snake smiled and lowered his cup so it was below Ohannakeloi’s. “To brotherhood!” he exclaimed and drank the cup in one go.

“To brotherhood!” Ohannakeloi mimicked the toast and motion, downing the cup.

Pillows were arranged neatly in a small nest on the side of the table furthest from the palace doors, perfect for Ohannakeloi to sit in. On the opposite side, the busiest side with all the incoming servants, the snake took his seat. Food was stacked high on the tables and the snake held out a generous hand. “Please, please! Eat your fill, and while you do, please do tell how you have been of late, my dear brother. It truly has been much, much too long.”

Taking his seat Ohannakeloi began to reply as he examined the dishes, “I have been truly well, as you may know I’ve made a continent to the south and even a race of mortals, the Ihokhetlani. As well numerous guardians and such of mortal kind, indeed another is off traveling as we speak, perhaps you will meet her sometime, her scales glimmer quite majestically in the light from Heliopolis.”

Ohannakeloi paused to actually try some of the dishes he was presented with before continuing, “I did mention that you were the second of our fellows, Azura came to meet me before all this soul trouble, she had made the Alma at that time and tried to convince the Ihokhetlani to accept their business. I am fairly proud to say they stood quite admirably in their interactions from there, call me proud perhaps but I am quite confident in them, as you have no doubt in your own creations. I could tell you of minutiae, but enough of me no? What of yourself? I heard some worrying business with other the other gods?”

“Oh, such a glorious tale, worthy brother - indeed, I have been to your lands and, in all honesty, they are absolutely stunning, particularly the mountains. In fact, so stunning were they that I simply had to fill them with life - it would be a waste not to share such a sight with animals and, maybe in time, mortals.” He smiled warmly, though it faded slightly thereafter. “And yes, it is no lie, what you have heard. While I have spent the majority of my days furthering this world towards prosperity, it is no secret that I have encountered obstacles and, I am ashamed to say, sown rivalry between myself and a select few of our other siblings.” He clicked his forked tongue disapprovingly. “I will not speak ill of them in their absence - such acts are uncouth - yet I cannot lie, either: As time has passed, I have found little love for Kalmar and Azura, both simultaneously so wonderful, yet at the same time so utterly different in certain areas that truly, deeply matter to me. I take it you have not had the opportunity yet to meet our hunter brother?”

“No I have not yet had the opportunity, and I do have to compliment you on the food, your servants have truly outdone themselves.”

The closest servants fell to the ground. “Great, blessed King of Stone - these servants are infinitely grateful for Your warming compliments.” They could barely look up at Ohannakeloi’s form as they spoke, his aura too mighty for such insignificant beings. The snake nodded. “Your compliments mean the world to them, brother. Thank you. As for Kalmar, well… We have had our differences, philosophical and otherwise. I will not soil his image, though - he is a righteous god with an amiable sense of justice. The two of us just are not of the same mind, if you will. You may draw your own conclusions if you encounter him, of course.” He pinched some fish between his chopsticks and popped it in his mouth. “Then there is… Azura… If I may ask, what are your thoughts regarding her… Project?”

“If I am to be honest with you brother, I don’t care all too much. She has some concerns about the treatment of the dead in the Pyres and her own ‘solution’ has its own issues, but should they ever become too great a trouble I’m sure a reasonable solution could be found, especially with so many of our fellows who will be interested in the matter. I feel no need to take action on the facts of that, nor does her Alma worry me, they require consent and I have trained and informed my followers well, I have no doubt they are fully capable of making appropriate decisions.” Ohannakeloi paused finishing off a piece of food he had stopped eating to speak, then continued. “In short, I see no reason to take any action at this time, I want to verify a few things myself but if there is ever an issue I have no doubt a multitude of our fellows would assist to fix it given the threat such a thing could potentially pose. I do not know when or if we shall see that realized in due time, but I will be ready if it does. Do you have strong feelings on the matter?”

The snake hummed. “‘Strong’ is an adequate adjective, yes… Even if it requires consent, it may have catastrophic consequences for all life if enough mortals and beasts pledge themselves. As life shares from the same soul pool, as you no doubt are aware of, and as prosperity is rather dependent on a free, unrestricted flow of souls, any change to this system as radical as hers pokes more than a few sticks in our wheels. I can harness soul ash like a reflex, but how would I harness a soul stone? It is unnatural, I say - much too reckless and rash; as is the moral high ground stance that backs it up, too - how are aeons of dreamless sleep preferable to a quick bath in fire? Sounds like a coma to me. Who wants to be in a coma? I--” He stopped himself and cleared his throat. “Pardon, I let my mouth run much too fast.”

“It is understandable when one is invested, none would deny you a moment of vigor in your speech dear brother. While what you foresee is a grave concern, and you are wise to be concerned, I am not sure it is a concern of the moment. I admit that I do know for sure. What I do know is that simply opposing Azura is not enough, Azura is determined and is a divine being like ourselves, we would get nothing done if we spent all our time going back and forth doing and undoing. The only true solution is one that can satisfy the radical elements like Azura, while preventing or greatly reducing the harm of such a crisis of souls.”

Ohannakeloi paused again to finish off a dish before continuing, “At least such is as I see it, I have no claim to absolute truth, nor am I an expert in souls, death or our fellow Divines but it is what I have thought and considered. Have you seen much of Asceal? I had heard she is of similar mind to Azura but I have never spoken with her.”

“Hm… You have given me something to consider, brother. I will meditate on this… As for Asceal, yes, I have met her on several occasions. She carried many of the same opinions and thoughts as Azura at the time we last saw one another, though that was nearly fifty years ago now…” He scratched his chin. “Asceal is a cherished sister to me and I owe her much after she aided my servant and I in the defense of this very ship against an onslaught by Sartravian dragons. While we again have certain unfortunate splits in motivations and goals, I cannot say anything less than that she is determined to make a world of safety and joy for mortality. Truly, she is also a champion of prosperity.” The snake nodded approvingly as he sipped some wine.

“I shall have to converse with her sometime, I believe she has an island off the western coast of Atokhekwoi although I haven’t visited it. I must say, an onslaught by Sartravian dragons? I had not been informed of such a thing, I would be most pleased if you were to tell me more about how this came to pass.”

“Oh, that whole ordeal is ages old by now. Really, I am awful at telling my beloved brothers and sisters about the chaos that passes for ‘just another day’ here on the Foot - terribly sorry. Now, where to begin with that whole mess…” The snake took another sip of wine and let out a gruff groan. “Our brother Sartravius, for all his necessary work down below - with all the heating of the crust and such - I am certain you have quite an extensive knowledge of his portfolio… Anyway, for all his goods, the god is…” He tapped his chin thoughtfully. “... What is a good word… Spiteful? Yes, I think I will go with spiteful. I confess, my brother, I have only hate for him at this point, and this god escapes my restriction on ruining others’ face. He has intentionally been burning my jungle at regular intervals for the longest time now, and his dragon assault was no mere hunt of hungry beasts - it was a coordinated attack with the intention of sabotaging my vessel and exterminating my people.” He blasted some hot air out his nose. “Again, I pardon my excessive episodes of rage… This Sartr and his minions are quite sensitive subjects to me. Poor Chuanwang still has not recovered completely, even after all these years.”

“There is nothing to pardon, you are most composed under the circumstances, the apology should be mine for not having considered the sensitivity of such a subject before bringing it up. I thank you for telling me despite the trouble you no doubt have in remembering his assaults against you. Let us speak of other things, your home sphere, what is it like? I cannot imagine it is any less impressive than all of your other creations.”

“Oh, you are much too generous with your words, dearest brother - they are not that impressive.” He chuckled softly. “Now, as for my home, I have not been there in a while now. Fengshui Fuyou is actually rather more empty than it ought to be, though it is still quite fine, if I may say so myself. Endless, mysterious fog surrounding a beautiful land of constantly shifting rivers, all sprouting outwards in ever-changing webs from the central spring, Shiquan. Oh, I simply must bring you along one day.” He ate another small piece of fish. “May I ask how yours turned out? There was one point many years ago when I felt the earth grow a little steadier - that would not have happened to be you, would it?” The snake winked playfully.

“You are as humble as you are wise, Shengshi.” Ohannakeloi replied with happiness clear in his voice, “Indeed it was I. I had seen that the general support of Galbar was insufficient for the great works being done upon it, so I improved upon it. As well repaired what damage was being done by the rather consumptive leakage from Anzillu, I’ll have to ask him one day about that.”

He picked suspiciously at some marine meat, “Ehomakwoi is quite nice, although I have to admit is perhaps somewhat barren. Tunnels reach throughout the earth with the most wonderful stones and gems abundant in every corner of the complex, in the lower levels light is not scarce like above but almost antithesis to the darkness there. I wonder somewhat if there is something more going on there but I have not investigated it strongly. It is truly beautiful but there is much more to be done there in the future, I have no concrete plans but I will see as I may.”

“Mind you, my dear Ohannakeloi, the river is quite thankful to the earth that holds it - without the good stone and earth you provide, my rivers would be siltless, lacking in that wealth of nutrients that comes from loess and clay. Indeed, Kangjiang in the east of your magnificent land is a haven for all surrounding plants thanks to the wonders in the mountain stone. As such, I would be more than happy to give back, not only for that, but also for your beautiful gift. If you ever want an extra hand in any structure or project of yours, my good friend, I will be there posthaste - I swear it here and now, before yours and every Servant’s face. Oh, and if there are no concrete plans, well, I would love to offer suggestions, if I may - both for your own sphere and the Middle World.”

“I appreciate your offer of future assistance, it is most deeply felt. You must know how happy it makes me to hear the generous praise you have given. As well, I would love to hear your suggestions, particularly for the Middle World, none should refuse the wise and generous counsel of Shengshi.”

“O-ho, stop it, you,” the snake said with a giggle and grinned. “Very well, suggestions… Well, one that I have in particular for your own land would be some oases in that dry central region. I have flown over it once and it seemed rather hostile to living beings - a rainless region without sufficient moisture in the soil to sustain much greater growths than the occasional shrubbery. An oasis network, perhaps? Oh, but how would water be refilled, hmm? A river would dry up before long, most likely, but what if it was covered? An oasis network fueled by underground rivers, perhaps? With great biomes in the dark as well as on the surface,” the snake suggested.

“A grand idea Shengshi! Such a proposal could support multitudes of kinds of life, above and below. An excellent way to vitalize that region, and good planning. I had not thought to do so but I realize that it is true that region does not have as great a capacity as it probably should if we want to make the best use of it. I’ll have to work out the details of such an operation at sometime, if nothing else comes perhaps this would be a good endeavor to call in your assistance, you are the supreme expert on rivers after all.”

Ohannakeloi paused to sip wine, “I do have to ask, do you have any plans for future projects?”

The snake chuckled. “Oh, numerous projects, indeed! First one all, perhaps a little surprisingly, I have left my jungle in a rather sorry state - its biodiversity is quite finite, you see, and I have been too occupied with other projects and obstacles to see it truly blossom into the pinnacle of life that I one day wish to make it. Then I must found a more permanent solution to holding off Sartravius’ pests. Finally, there are always the final goals: Prosperity and harmony. Anything I can achieve to bring this world closer to those goals is a project of its own. To start off, I had planned a visit to my son, Anu - his civilisation is only just starting to form, and I think I can perhaps give it an additional little push.” He shrugged. “Otherwise, I do like to occasionally be spontaneous. Oh, and by the way, please do feel free to take any inspiration or specimens from the Foot back to your own home, as well as to make whatever you wish here. There are no restrictions on creativity in these lands.”

“Once again I must thank you for your generosity, I have not seen this continent very closely so I am not sure what I could add or take away but I will take a survey as soon as I am able. I do have to say that your final goals are quite a deal of work but worthwhile goals they are. Additionally, you have not told me hardly at all about this son, Anu, of yours, starting a civilization is he? Is he of a divine nature?”

The snake nodded. “Anu came to this world as a result of Narzhak’s and my wily experiments… Under influence. It is a bit of a shame to admit that is how he came to be, but rarely does one spawn children of such honour and convictions as we did that afternoon. Both Narzhak’s and my blood flow in his veins, making him quite a mighty and charismatic character. He has this… Presence, much like your very own aura - beasts, mortals, even some plants all bow before him as he passes by. He told me he has founded his very own empire, the Ondo empire, built on the backs of his very own species. It is quite something. By the way, you mentioned you had some daughters of your own. May I inquire further into who they are?”

“I have one which lays claim to the relationship, others consider me their god and creator but only one considers me their father, and I am inclined to agree. Azukuao is her name, she does not have divine blood but our bond is close regardless of such things. From head to tail she is about twice as long, maybe more, than your ship here, her scales are infused with metal from the deep earth and so she shines with reflected light from Heliopolis and the Lustrous Garden. She has good sense, I fear for her a little, she is not as strong as our fellows and I hope none take a disliking to her.”

"If she is similar in character to yourself, dear brother, I see no way that others could dislike her," said the snake and smiled.

“I hope so, I sincerely do hope that is the case.”

The snake patted his lips with a small napkin and let out a satisfied sigh. "Now, if I may ask, since it seems that you are out to explore this grand world, would you like to spend some time hear while you plan for your next destination? I will have the servants ready your personal room."

“With such excellent hospitality how could I say no? I would be delighted to spend some time here, it will give me plenty of opportunity to consider my destinations carefully.”

"Any in particular you are interested in?"

“I had considered the land to the far north of the world, practically on the other side of Galbar from here. Do you know much about it?”

The snake made a short-lived sneer. "You speak of Kalgrun, I take it?" There was a pause. "I have not been there in a long time… However…" Another pause. "It was quite beautiful the last time I went. I can recommend it, certainly. Flat plains, occasional hills and mountains. It is satisfactory."

“I have only ever seen it from afar, but I believe it may be satisfactory for my purposes. I wish to see some more of Galbar, and perhaps take some useful pieces and ideas back to Atokhekwoi to ensure its development and prosperity. I truly thank you for your offer and I must say Dragon’s Foot does have the most promise I feel for the more exotic and divine creatures. Kalgrun may have some useful diversity that could benefit some of the more southern regions of Atokhekwoi. As well it would be nice to see some of our fellow gods.”

“Well, you are welcome to stay for however long it may please you, my dearest brother. Whatever you may need shall be provided and whatever you may ask shall be answered - to the best of our ability.” He winked playfully at Ohannakeloi. “Oh, but I must sadly say that I may run a few errands over the next few days, so I am most broken to admit that I may not be around all the time. Most unmannered of me, I know - I pray it may be forgiven.”

Ohannakeloi waved a claw to dismiss such concerns, “You have done far well above the duties of hospitality on such rather short notice. I think I shall go see this room of mine now.”

The snake bowed his head deeply. “I thank you deeply for your words, my brother - the kindest and warmest there are. Your room is in the Delta Spire, I believe, towards the stern. Among the first rooms ever furnished in this ship, I hope you will enjoy the detail and the view. My servants will escort you and provide for you in every way you may wish.” The snake stood up, circled the table over and offered a hand. “Once more, I must thank you for this joyous, brotherly dinner - it has been a long, long time since I last spoke to someone of such impeccable and worthy character as yourself, Ohannakeloi.”

“You flatter me, but I am not above accepting such esteem, as you deserve such in kind.” Ohannakeloi took the offered hand.

The two said their goodbyes for the day and Ohannakeloi was escorted inside the palace by some very awed servants.



Hase stood among the monuments to the Divines, it was notable in a way how crude they were compared to the real thing yet at the same time so evocative of each. Near the mountains, which still raised so high, it was beautiful really. Not only was there plenty of stone for Ihokhetlani to build themselves of, but life flourished, even if they found themselves set a degree a part.

There was still a good number of Ihokhetlani here, probably more so than any single other group, and yet the race had dispersed so much. It was strange really when this used to be so occupied and now was so empty. The others that stayed with Hase, those who stayed by the monuments, were mostly priests. They helped Hase continue the Ihokhetlani here, some left with the new groups made here, others were trained into the priesthood and left the same. It was all for the best, to spread the Ihokhetlani far and wide across Atokhekwoi, and maybe Galbar itself. One day Hase may even go to see other parts unknown to him. For now there rest, and the beauty.

A presence walked among the monuments. The Ihokketlani could sense there was a soul nearby, but he could not know where. Hase could feel that something was there but what it was eluded sight, it was quite the conundrum, it could be a Divine sure or any other number of creations meant to be hidden from races such as the Ihokheltani. A clear solution was present, “I mean no disrespect, but I can tell you are here, but not who or what you are. Would you be so kind as to tell me?”

The presence remained obscured, but answered. Its silent voice emanating from one of the monuments, “I am the sovereign of insects, the god known as Parvus. I am here admiring your craft.”

“Thank you Great and Holy Parvus, it means a great deal that you admire such humble craft as ours. As always the priesthood remains devoted to serving the Divines, perhaps if there is something else that we could craft for you?” Hase spoke, turning to the monument in question.

There was momentary silence, but there was a response from the monument, ”Your devotion is admirable, but that is not what I desire.”

Hase immediately dropped to kneel, greatly facilitated by the flexibility of having both your legs composed of moving parts. Then replied, “I apologize for my presumption O Mighty One, and I do ask for your forgiveness. May I ask what it is that you desire from us lowly Ihokhetlani?”

”What I wish for the Ihokhetlani is what I wish from all mortals of Galbar. I wish for their prosperity, and for them to remain ever pious. In this moment, I would wish to give your people a gift. Would you accept it on your people's behalf?” the monument answered.

Hase bowed his head and spoke, “Yes O gracious and powerful Parvus, I would honored to accept a gift for my people from one of the Divines.”

The monument grew silent, but the voice replied echoing from behind the priest, “Look into the crevice of my monument. You will find tiny eggs. Have one of your own raise them. They will know how. Once they are mature, they will serve you well.”

“Thank you, O generous and puissant One. We will raise them and find them greatly beneficial in our service.” Hase faced towards the monument still, mulling over his next words. “I ask only out of ignorance Great Divinity, but I should know. How may we best worship you, and how may we act best to please in our daily actions?”

“If you are to pray to me, it should be done privately. You should remember my gifts, and always be thankful. You should respect my name, and should extend that respect to those who serve it. Finally, I ask that those who tend to these eggs be faithful to me, and me first, though they should pay the proper respect to the other gods. So long as my congregation thrives, my blessing will be with the Ihokhetlani people.”, the voice replied.

“I will spread your words as far as I can be heard, if you will it, it shall be done. Wise Parvus, we will serve as best as we are able.” Hase faced once more towards the last place he had heard the voice and prostrated himself, hopefully before the divinity to which he spoke.

“It shall be done.” the voice replied, in the direction he was facing, before the presence faded away.

As he felt the presence leave, Hase rose and spoke out to the priests who had stayed so silent at a respectful distance during the encounter. “Any of you who have the knowledge or to take it upon you are to care for these eggs in this monument here, you are now of the Cult of Parvus, to put him first but not forget the other Divinities. Pray to him alone, and for individual concerns, as the Divine wills it.”

Only time would tell what exactly those eggs would be, some of the priests were moving to the monument and they would be the first of the Parvus Cult here. That too would begin to spread, either with new Ihokhetlani or speaking with others as they came and went.








Ohannakeloi had arrived, most in an open pretty useless plain, but arrive he had. The Buajaoi had scrapped the topsoil out of its ways a good way while slowing down, he now stood on top of his craft as he prepared. Five would be good for the core group, they would each have a specific purpose that could be quite useful in the propagation of the mortal races and the proper Divine worship.

There would need to be one to protect the mortals, couldn’t have something eliminating all of them after all. It would need to be fairly selfless, but strong, ready to fight, but also able to reason. It would need to be capable of interacting with those it would protect, warning them of dangers or of threats beyond its capacity to handle. In fact, this would be very important, but it would be necessary to ensure that despite whatever linguistic difficulties they may encounter the message could still get through. Perhaps something akin to the mind-contact that gods are capable of would work, even if it could not be perfectly replicated. It would need to be made of good flexible Earth, strong and capable of stopping a danger but also capable of taking a hit itself.

In contrast, while one focused on protection, another was needed to ensure those threats were ended and that they did not overwhelm the protector. A slayer of the monsters, with the strength and fortitude of proper stone and a form built for combat. Intelligence and some communicative ability would be needed but they would be secondary characteristics at best. Perhaps a form like his own would work, but better suited for combating the threats found across Galbar on a mortal level. And it would need to be fully capable of combating these threats, it would not always be the strongest, the toughest, or the largest. But if it had a good set of base attributes and was smart, as well as whatever help Ohannakeloi could set up, it should be able to take down less focused creatures. It is always possible, especially with this, that it may draw the ire of another deity, but it was a risk he was willing to take.

And then another to be more personable than the other two would be, one to find out the stories and legends of mortal-kind without the awe of a deity crashing upon them. Not only to gain their stories, no to give them good trust and assistance, but worship also had to be demanded in compromise for assistance for such frail creatures, they were not as strong as deities and mortal-kind would need all the help it could get. So this one could give it to them, their protection was mostly covered by the earlier two, he would not be a fighter but tough and capable was indeed needed. A form that was perhaps malleable, changeable to the conditions presented, a shifter of forms. He could ensure that the stories of mortal-kind would not just be known and remember but that they would continue ever onwards in new legends and tales. A helper from the gods, from Ohannakeloi, paid in knowledge that could again help another or assist in the future by way of example.

A fourth, more physical helper. SImple, a very strong and tough form with enough versatility to be useful. Large as well to give the appropriate weight a consideration that this help should have. After all, Divine assistance to the wishes of mortal-kind should be properly considered and returned in the proper kind, worship. Tall, stable with some strong limbs and more for more delicate tasks, a creature of great size and ability that would be most productive.

At the fifth Ohannakeloi was unsure exactly if one was needed, the others seemed to fill very precise purposes well and he could not think of anything else. But that was it wasn’t it, he could not think of anything else. The fifth could be more independent, to find purposes for itself, to find a reason that it could be happy with and make a good imprint upon the world. A traveler to be sure, one that may have to cross great distances to find such a thing as a purpose. But the world was dangerous so to make them fully capable of defending themselves, but apart from the others. He had good form in mind, one that could live more organically than his other creations perhaps. But not entirely giving up the strength of the earth, metals perhaps, generally lighter and easier to work with than many stones in organic things, at least he would think.

Ohannakeloi ceased merely thinking and brought forth his thoughts to the reality before him.

The first a vast serpent, the protector, with scales of ceramic hardness and flesh as tough to destroy as good and proper clay, to not be rent asunder easily.

“Hiuocca, the Protector. I name you and give your purpose.”

The second a form similar to that of his own, a massive crab, with larger and more developed claws and a capable form to protect itself.

“Ohannamauoi, the Slayer. I name you and give your purpose.”

The third came indistinctly in shape, a mixing cloud of color but with a slowly forming purpose and form approaching that of something like the two that came before.

“Uhaccala, the Wisdom-Seeker. I name you and give your purpose.”

The fourth came as he had imagined, four massive legs suspended a grand body above, many tendrils waved at its sides for delicate works while near its head two powerful trunks swayed, ready for any labors it might commit itself to.

“Ihenonoi, the Worker. I name you and give your purpose.”

The fifth came as well, four legs supporting an armored, scaled body, flesh protected by metal scaling. Two wings stuck out on its back as its long tail and neck sprung from opposing ends. The head well scaled and protected, eyes focused forwards.

“Azukuao, the Wanderer. I name you a-”

That same fifth spoke out, “I really hate to interrupt here but are they supposed to be leaving already?”

“No, they’re not.”

It had seemed that the other four of his creations had decided to start off, in disparate directions already. He had to stop them here, they needed to listen to what he had to tell them.

Ohannakeloi raised him and the Buajaoi on a pillar of stone till he was near their eye level and spent his energies on his own form, they needed to hold him in proper respect. Ohannakeloi suddenly shown in a brilliant display of light, his shell seemingly gone from a muted yellow to a glimmering gold, the attention and awe of the five was not so subtly brought to Ohannakeloi.

“I am Ohannakeloi, your god but much more importantly your creator who has a few things to tell you, so get back here and pay attention!”

The four soon returned to their positions, an issue with giving your creations immediate purpose and knowledge is that they might be ready to act on it before you were ready for them to leave it would seem.

“Now, that is better. Each one of you has a purpose and task before you, all mortals and their worship of the gods is to be protected and nurtured. You have each other in these tasks ahead of you of course, but also you have the command of further creations.” Said creations began to take form on the grounds and skies around Ohannakeloi. On the ground large crabs almost identical to the god if not for their size and red coloration, in the skies furred winged creatures, massive bats, screeched and soared where none had been before.

“They have been made with your command in mind, they will obey such commands from you or any other with the appropriate levels of influence over them. They are not that intelligent but their numbers and dispersal shall make useful allies in your tasks. Those below are the Ahomauoi, they will grow as large as they are able, strong allies for work or against numerous threats and dangers. They may be territorial when not under appropriate control but they should be well adapted for natural environs. In the skies are the Iuoloai, consumers of fruits mostly, they grow large but not much bigger than you see here. Most notably they are masters of sound, capable in its hearing and projection. They have a most capable sonic weapon in addition to their strength and flying ability. Now you may leave.”

The Iuoloai and the Ahomauoi began to disperse, the later alone across the plains heading for greater areas of food while the former moved in small groups to the distant mountains and forests. Soon after the four began to leave, the fifth, Azukuao, spoke. “I am to wander? Is that all I am meant for?”

“Come with me, north to the coast, we will talk there.”

With a nod of her assent Azukuao and Ohannakeloi went north, he burrowed back into the Buajaoi while Azukuao flew with her wings. They passed the plains mountains of the center north to reach the coast, some groups of Iuoloai had begun to take up residence there.

As they landed she spoke, “What are you to tell me, dad?”

“Dad, hmm? Regardless, you are more independent than… your brothers. They are very happy and set in their purposes, at least I hope they will be. You, however, are special. I have said you have more independence, what I mean is I hope for you to find something worthy as one of my creations, for life on Galbar, and for yourself. You will find many things in traveling, wonderous and otherwise, but most important you should find something that you can be happy with doing, something that matters.”

“Why? Why me? Why am I different from the others?”

“The others while great are limited I fear, I needed others, I also couldn’t consciously make them unhappy in what they do but I fear they may not have much flexibility beyond that. I know that you are capable of great things. Here, I’ll give you something to keep you safe on your travels, I do not plan to force you but there is not much to do beyond see what is out there Azu.”

Azukuao thought as Ohannakeloi made a bracelet, drawing from metals in the ground a silver piece imbued with some energies to assist in the protection of the wearer, forming around her fore left leg. “Will I be able to come back?”

“Of course, anytime. I doubt you want to once you see the world more, the other gods have made quite a number of great works. And do stay in touch, pray often. I do have to go and attend to other projects but I can stay here till you’re ready to leave.”

Azukuao spoke softly, “Thank you.”

There they waited along the coast, watching the waves.









A meeting of one’s entire people was quite a sight to behold, and quite important for all the implications. There was a speech Hase would give today would probably mean that this would not happen again, at least he hoped it would for what that would mean for their numbers. This was an important moment, he would have to pray and ask if there was some measure of thing to do with these sorts of events.

It was the meeting spot decided upon in there meeting with the Divine Azura, where the monuments to the Divines were raised. Quite appropriate to speak of their actions and the decisions that would come from that. There was more to this than merely that of course, power disputes had always been something of a problem, although now that was something that could be solved. The disputes had been getting worse since Ihokhe had left, the First Ones lacked concord and they held a great deal of influence over the rest of the Ihokhetlani, nothing good would remain of their continued concentration. So with his great prestige from having his ideas accepted he could reasonably suggest others, that which he hoped would create a new safe concord between all Ihokhetlani.

That was the plan at least, it seems that so far all he had managed to do was to get everyone rehashing the same arguments that had been put forward to Azura. At this point, practically every priest was either talking in small groups amongst each other or actively attempting to be the next speaker forward on the current topic that had seized the moment of decision. The laity seemed to be quite passively observing at this time at least, they ringed around, a little separated from the priesthood that so disabused any notion of serenity or much dignity.

In truth, however, he had spent well enough time waiting already, the other first ones were quite content to let the relative chaos continue so some points had to be made. Hase began stomping his right foot on the stone ground, consistently until the others grew quiet for him to speak.

“All of you have made good points, some of you have made your positions very clear. It is a dilemma, that which has been presented to us by the Divine of Wind, Azura. One that is most difficult to answer, while few wished to be ended as it is said the Pyres inevitably will, none could not recognize the soul ash is needed for new Ihokhetlani and even the continued use of our existence. But a point must be made clear, this is no consensus, nor will be one gathered today, nor is it needed. The ash still flows, we know of none yet gone beyond life, and the choice has been left up to us. Us. Not the first ones, not the priests, but each and every one of the people descended from Ihokhe. Priests may, and should guide but the choice has been passed from Divine origin to the individuals, and there it shall remain. Each will come to their choice in time, the Alma are there for you if you decide that path, and the other is open as well.”

“I must reiterate, there is no consensus, and there will not be. That is quite plain for all here to see, what is to be decided, and announced has been and will be now.” Hase paused letting his words sink in, he retained silence and had all attention once more. “The Ihokhetlani cannot remain here, not solely here. The path has already been shown by Ihokhe himself when he left to spread the Ihokhetlani further, and we must now follow this path to reach the fulfillment of ourselves. We sit and wait for Divine action when we have been told to act ourselves and given the means and capabilities to do so. We have no recourse except to act, to leave this place of our creation and spread ourselves, the children of Ihokhe, first life under Divine Ohannakeloi across this land of Atokhekwoi and world of Galbar. Our bodies, minds, and souls are strong, we should fear not the unknown and instead embrace it as Ihokhe has done. One of the Firsts leading the Ihokhetlani forward, that is now what it shall be.”

“I propose that this council of priests should be divided amongst the first ones here assembled, and then sent across to spread the glory of the Divines to new corners of this globe. The priesthood will take our congregations far, but as we have faith in the Divines above and below, we shall move forward in holy sanctity. We should have no fear for future, for lands unknown, or for our Souls, as our actions and choices are ours given Divine authority. Have faith not in my words, instead have faith in the Divines. We are charged to spread their holy word and power over all of creation, as we most fully capable.”

“Who here would question such purpose as we should now undertake?”




It was nice to see when all your work came together so well. After Azura had left he had settled in to watch the Ihokhetlani, to see what path they would take on from now on with the stresses put upon them. What path would his creations take? Would his teachings hold up? And his questions had been answered and he was pleased. He still got a few prayers asking which path was best, but they were resolved, he could see their diaspora was proceeding already. To think it seemed so little ago when he sat with the first of them and answered their questions and taught what was good, right, and fair.

He could not stay, he had work to do. The Ihokhetlani, while strong among the mortal species, were not invincible by far, and if those mortals were to truly prosper they would need others to clear the way. That was something Ohannakeloi could ensure, something that mattered.

Ohannakeloi sank further into the stone, down back into the Buajaoi and took off, to the east.





&







Together Azura and Luis had flown deeper into the interior of Atokhekwoi, discussing and planning as they went until, at last, they arrived at the location that Ihokhe had told Azura about, the current home of the Ihokhetlani, first of the mortal races.

This was rocky and rough lands on the edge of the great mountains, in the distance, the towering western mountains ran as though a massive wall from the northern horizon to that of the south. Small hills dominated the rough lands, often more made of exposed stone then was found in other areas, although likely why the Ihokhetlani were here. They saw the great numbers of the Ihokhetlani, groups of them dotting every hill and around every rock, gathering great masses of stone to form new members of their race. Soul ash was thick here, constantly flowing into new bodies and even a curious interaction with the Ihokhetlani themselves.

There were only a few structures of any kind, and those mostly appeared to be crude approximations of various deities, some of the Ihokhetlani groups crowded near them. Notably, Ohannakeloi’s statue was much better formed than any of the others, although still crude and not really evident of divine work in any sense available to Azura.

Azura could also see that a large number of the Alma she had created which had arrived here after their flight from the pole. Their bird brains were in command at the moment as the first mortals having been made to last and lacking any natural predators meant that seemingly none had died or were at risk of doing so. So instead, the Alma where mostly loitered in the area, staying out of the Ihokhetlani‘s sight and way to avoid intruding on their lives when they were not needed while engaging in a spot of foraging to keep their biological parts running optimally.

Azura did, however, note that not all of the Alma were here. Some had left to seek out sights, and presumably mortals, unseen. Fortunately, they were capable of propagating updates to their abilities and directives between one another and indeed the Li’Kalla seekers had included such an update that they would hand over to any Alma they found, instructing them to stay their hands when it came to claiming people’s souls without permission. Once she was happy with her speech other Alma would do the same with it, bringing her words across the globe to all mortal ears.

”They’re building more of themselves” Luis noted as the pair slowed to a stop above the home of the first race. ”Can your constructs do that?”

“So they are. I was wondering how they were going to make more of themselves. The Alma can, but they produce normal eggs and then the young birds have the construct parts grown onto them by the adults when they mature.” she explained “It made sense to re-use natural systems. I did not even consider that machines could make other machines… or that rock people could make other rock people in this case. I wonder how the ash can tell the difference between the Ihokhetlani they are making and the statues of Gods.”

”Could I do that? Make more?” Luis asked

“More constructs, more Ihokhetlani or of you?”

Luis thought about this for a while before answering simply ”Yes, no, yes”

“You can't make new types but you could have nests of Alma in... Bruna” she did not like calling it that“If you like, maybe I can teach you later when there’s more time? As for more of you. Um. Well there are other whales now I suppose but there are size and intelligence issues there...” she said, the lock seemingly doing its best to give her as little as possible related to reproduction in anything but the abstract “Let's so just say no for now.”

”oh. ok.” Luis responded a touch dejectedly

“It’s a good thing to want to do I think. Fairly certain that I didn’t put that in there either. Se even though I want to table this conversation, for now, I’m more than happy to bring it up later ok? The idea of you, or other mortals, making constructs is an interesting one to think about. For now, though let's stick to the task at hand?” She said gently as she could

”alright....” Luis responded, ”so what now?”

“I’m going to see if they know where Ohannakeloi is and see if I can arrange a meeting with them and him in a bit. You can join in with the conversation with the Ohannakeloi if you like.”

”We’ll see.” he responded, before drifting off from her. Azura sighed softly at her continued lack of social graces before she began to descend towards the area with the statues.

The groups around the statues began to coalesce as they realized Azura’s descent down upon them. As she grew closer a few differences could be made apparently between these Ihokhetlani and those with Ihokhe, decoration primarily, feathers of various kinds, many kinds of plants all placed in between the stones of their bodies. The most decorated few stood apart and in front of the majority, a receiving party.

One spoke after they had gotten into a semblance of order, as the Ihokhetlani prostrated themselves. “O Mighty Azura, Divine of the Wind, how may we humble priests be of service?”

While this reverence once again irked Azura this time she attempted a little tact more in her dismissal of it and with her conversing with the priesthood “I am honored by your greeting dear Ihokhetlani, but rest assured that I do not require you to maintain such a posture as we speak. Please know that while your reverence is appreciated I do not demand it. I have come to tell the Ihokhetlani something and in regards to this announcement, I have two requests. First off I’d appreciate if you could organise a gathering of the people so that I might address them collectively. This need not be speedily arranged as I intend to speak with Ohannakeloi while you get this planned. Do you perchance know where his located at this present moment?”

The group rose to a kneel, the less decorated kept this gaze to the ground. The speaker replied, “While we cannot be certain O Holy One, we believe that he is to be found in the mountains nearby, we have not located him such but the rock formations change too much with too much purpose for it to be otherwise. And we will, of course, accede to your most reasonable request for a gather of the people, may I be so bold to make a request?” A few of the other most decorated Ihokhetlani snapped their focus to the speaker but said nothing at this question.

“Thank you, and by all means.”

“While none would be so foolhardy or unreasonable to not accord to your request, it would no doubt ease some to know what the prime matter of this gathering would be…?”

“The fate of the souls of the dead.” She explained solemnly “That leads us neatly into my second request, that you provide me with council before I speak with all your kin. As you might imagine, it is an important and potentially uncomfortable topic so I would appreciate your assistance in deciding the appropriate way of conveying it to your people.”

The speaker started, “I would be glad to provide any assistance that my mortal abilities could impart to you, Great One. Truly-” Another one of the decorated group spoke, “Truly we would all be honored to provide this assistance O Holy Azura, we first ones are the group before you, except Ihokhe, the progenitor, he is out on a mission and is regrettably far by this time. I fully comprehend the delicacy of the situation and our present council would be delighted to assist on such a worthy and holy task.”

“I would be eternally grateful for your aid.” Azura bobbed her head with this thanks before continuing “I met Ihokhe and his traveling companions earlier. It was he who directed me here. They seem to all be doing well you’ll be glad to hear, and where in sight of the ocean last I saw them. Do you have any place you’d prefer to discuss this?” she finished by asking

“We have no sites more holy than this Great Azura, but it would perhaps be best to hold the great gathering here and discuss elsewhere, we know of a hill just a short distance that would give more privacy to our discussion Holy One.” The second speaker continued, “If your own most holy being would permit it we could go there now and the priests assembled could guide their congregations to gather when the time is right, and prepare them for such a meeting in the meanwhile?”

“This would be most helpful thank you.” she said while interlay growing more and more uncomfortable with each honorific the priest expressed. “Let us proceed there.”

“At once Divine Azura,” the first speaker replied. The journey was short as promised and only the decorated group of five beings came from the Ihokhetlani, the other priests had gone to see to preparations for the gathering. The hill, however, was well situated, well risen and fairly isolated, its sides were quite sheer but that did not seem to impair the Ihokhetlani too much for they had their great height.
“Now then. Death, and the fate of souls.” Azura began, before taking an uncharacteristic moment to find the right words “ The Ihokhetlani are uniquely positioned in that if I understand it correctly, I don’t need to explain the existence of souls to you. You see them and you know that is what you are: a soul dressed in stone. Correct?”

“Of course Holy Azura, as much as any mortal thing is a soul dressed in some kind of body, whether stone, meat, or anything else that the Divinities should see fit to enliven.”

Azura nodded in response and then explained that “This soul can also persist without a body, as all who die do, yet continues to have a conscious mind. The gods, along with untold of other souls that the Architect brought to this realm came from a place where souls existing without bodies is the norm. A place called the void. Here, however, bodiless souls are captured by a Gateway known as the Vortex of Souls and are sent to the stars where Katharsos burns them until they suffer a second death and nothing is left of them but ash.”

A third of the Ihokhetlani spoke, “That would explain where the soul ash comes from at least.” The other four looked askance at the lack of deference but none spoke after. They continued, “Better to have a body of some kind at least, please continue Divine Azura.”

Once again Azura was surprised by their lack of a reaction to the prospect of being annihilated. “Tell me, have any Ihokhetlani ever died?” she asked realising she might know why.

“No, Great Azura. Nothing has yet caused so great a harm to any one of our race’s bodies nor have we experienced deterioration of much of any kind,” the first speaker replied, “Ohannakeloi has explained the concept but we have no experience yet O Powerful One.”

“Ah. While that is good, it does explain why you are taking this news so... casually.”

“Holy Azura, we understand that death will come, we have not yet seen what that is but it will come, that we do know.” The second speaker replied. The third speaker broke in, “Divine Azura, I would urge you to your point, death may be worse than we hoped but it is better than was to be feared. Clearly, you have an issue with the current state of affairs and explaining the current state will lead to some other point that will shock us or otherwise lend purpose to this whole conversation.”

This time the looks received were perhaps a great deal less of askance, and more of questioning the third speaker’s sanity. The third speaker replied, “The Divinity said it was not required and asked for council, I give as I would any who did similarly, clearly this one is not one of the ones Ohannakeloi had great concern over.”

Despite them calling out her attempts to lead them by the nose Azura liked the third one. “You’ve foreseen my aim astute one, so I’ll get to my point. I want to offer the people of Galbar an alternative. I created these constructs” at her command one of the loitering avians flew to their meeting place and presented itself to the mortals “called Alma. If given permission they can crystalise the soul of the deceased into a solid form that can resist the pull of the vortex. To be crystallised is to enter a deep dreamless sleep which I am currently devising ways to awaken the sleeper from. Ensuring that mortals are not lost to the pyres is my priority at the moment, however, so currently, I intend to hide the souls from those that might abuse them in a secret and defendable location.”

The first speaker replied, “Ah, Holy Azura, do you undertake this great work alone among the Divinities? I mean no disrespect of course but it seems odd that the Divinity of Wind is in contestation with the Divinity of Death, and to contest on his own ground and terms seems to be difficult, I would think at least in my own mortal understanding.”

“If I had to I would stand alone in this but fortunately I have the aid of Aseal and also of Aelius, though Virtue currently committed to guarding the sun. I and Asceal aim to gain the aid of others, though the lady of light has spoken with more promising candidates than I sofar. We have been being careful however, to ensure Katharsos does not learn of our opposition before we are prepared to act. That time is almost up now, but I would still appreciate if you kept this to your kind if possible. To yourselves and Ohannakeloi at least. I do not want you to put yourselves in danger to protect this secret, but I believe it would be for the best that we don’t spread this plan around lest it ends up in the wrong ears.” she explained

“As for my lack of cohesion between my domain and my task…” There was a certain importance to this she realised. Patterns were important, they had power in both magical and mundane ways. “The winds are free to roam and do as they please and so should we all be. Free from fear, from pain, from death. Free from tyrants who decide the fates of others without consulting them. As for the power imbalance, the gods are not static in regards to their aspects. I’m Azura of the wind, it is true, but I am also Azura of Soul Crystals and I will use that dominion and all my power to keep those who put their souls under my wing from Death’s embrace”

The second speaker spoke, “Great Azura, I do not believe you will like what I would say, but I shall state it anyway as you and Hase have pointed out the need for getting to the point as it were. If you wish to get the consent of the most of the Ihokhetlani you will need to lie or at least misrepresent the truth, not because of any failing in the Divine, of course, merely mortal fears.”

“I can understand softening or restructuring my telling of this news somewhat to be less. Shocking. But to lie to them? That seems unnecessary and grossly unfair” she responded, more than a touch incredulous at the prospect. Then, realising the damage she might have just done to their working relationship she added more softly “Kindly explain to me your reasoning.”

“Well, truly to be caught in a Divine feud is a terrifying concept to grasp, even more to band to one side of such a conflict, there may be fears of retaliation to a degree. As well while we are no doubt convinced of your ability to find a way to decrystallize a soul, and much better than the other alternative of course as you have spoken, and your protection will no doubt have an unimaginable perfectio-” the second speaker was interrupted by the third speaker or Hase as it were. “My apparently immoral friend here is trying to say that without being able to undo such a thing it sounds a lot like the same second death just without the suffering or contributing to further life on Galbar. I believe they are trying to make a point based on necessity, which only your Divine being may be the judge of I suppose. As we are rather isolated here you do have little need to be concerned over what we might try to say contestation if you chose my fellow’s path.”

The first speaker spoke, “Really now, while we may have some concerns, Holy Azura is in the right here, we are charged to serve the Divines and this is the best action to serve her goals, I’m sure the people would forgive once it is over, they would be safe. To not do so and let their fears rule them now, and potentially allow them to truly die- would that not be the more immoral option?”

“Ok. A lot to digest there.” Azura said slowly, trying to buy time as she mulled over their various points. She started with what was more or less a tangent “So. First off with the soul decrystallization and the resulting state, as a halfway measure it would be relatively straight forward I might be able to combine your own body structure with the construct technology and make a form a soul crystal can control. But apart from that... Yes. I suppose those who become crystallized will need to have faith in me, in us” she left who us was ambiguous “ that a system that can reliably service the demand for revival can be put in place. As for the lies...”

Azura made a strained “Hmmmm” giving away her discomfort with the situations as she worked through it slowly like Luis might, glancing periodically over at his distant form as she did so. Ultimately she was actually less well equipped to make this decision than they were. Certainly, she could understand the fear of being at the mercy of battles waged by those far stronger than yourself but when it came down to it she had little idea how these mortals would react exactly because she did not know them yet. Would bliss of ignorance outway the crime of the lies? It also felt wrong to hand over the decision upon the priests, to give up responsibility for it in the process. She was not sure they would even accept such a state of affairs either. Not all of them. Not yet. She understood the distance between her and mortal people better now at least. It was a sad thing to understand.

“What would you suggest we tell them?” she asked finally, going for a half and half approach of responsibility. Maybe the lie wouldn't have to be that bad of a lie. One of omission rather than deception.

“Speak to them of the concord you have with other Divines in this opposition to Katharsos, Divine of Death. Speak of your decrystallization that it is safe, do not speak of the current lack of means. Give your assurance of protection, you are a Divine, they will believe you and believe your path is right, give them little need for concern and they will take little preferring to trust. We know them well, we taught most of them.” The second speaker finished, the first speaker had nodded in agreement, the third was actively distancing themselves. The other two Ihokhetlani spoke, the fourth, “I agree that what they say is true, they will follow if you speak and give them little reason to turn to the priesthood and ourselves.” And the fifth, “As well we will follow what you decide regardless Holy Azura, we serve and are interested in the other partial crystallization you have suggested as a potential solution.

Hase, the third speaker spoke, “I would not be apart of this, I also know I could not oppose you Divinity, but I must serve my people as well as all the Divines. I urge you to tell them your truth and let time tell on their individual decision, as I do not trust my fellow priests here to make such entirely for them. The problem lies in that you must choose which is more important saving them, as you believe it, or acting with fairness and respect.

“I have no choice in the matter, if you want to save them more then you will override us with ease, whether now or after we’re long dead passed along into whatever matter state follows and what urgency drives you, builds. If you want to act with respect and fairness, then you will inform the people, and then leave them to their decisions as to do otherwise you still choose for them. You care for us mortals a great deal while being so far beyond us that in your love you may crush us. Take what path you will, it was never really our choice, to begin with, we are here and we live by divine decision, we die by divine decision, and we may be saved by divine decision.

“You have asked for council, to convince our people that they should do as you wish, you are not going to have the option to have an unbiased choice on their part, an individual one as informed as they can is the best you can hope for, anything else is searching for something that cannot exist in this world that the Divines have made.”

The words of the four made sense in the long run. It was the easier path, the more supported path, the one that let her achieve what she desired though just a few simple white lies. There would be consequences eventually, but for now, the obedience of the priests would speed up her work. She was doing the right thing after all so what was the price of such a concession in the name of the greater good?

everything

Azura stood utterly still before the assembled four and one for several moments. She failed to process what had just happened, she wasn't allowed too, but it left an impact all the same.

“Thank you for your council.” she finally said, bowing her head in gratitude to the four, before raising and looking at the one, “Hase”

“Yes, dear Divine Azura?”

“Your voice is my voice. Tell them what they need to know. You’ll do a better job than I ever could”

Hase was right. What was the point of saving people if they could not be free? How could they be free if she couldn’t trust them to make their own decisions? After all, having power in the world made her no better at making those decisions than them. She could never forget that. She almost had.

Hase spoke, “I will Divinity. Although, what will you do now? Look for Ohannakeloi?”

Azura nodded. “You know my mind well. I’ll come back after just to check in on things. If you need any more information, don’t hesitate to ask me via prayer. Oh also take the Alma with you if you wish. It will help you however you need.”

“Thank you Divine Azura, I hope your meeting goes well, give him our regards.” Azura nodded and took off, ascending once more into the sky, heading off to see a certain crab.





&







Ihokhe was having a good day, he saw the ocean for the first time, well the first time with his own senses to be more accurate. Ohannakeloi had shared some images of the sea when Ihokhe had first asked, but coming here, was well worth it to see the warm sea. He had spoken extensively with Ohannakeloi and the god had named him a priest, and then explained what that meant. Ihokhe had learned many things from the god, he was given a purpose and told of the other gods and goddesses. At first, their differences and what that had meant were confusing but it grew clear in time. Ihokhe had taken to calling himself a ‘he’ after the god, few others had taken up such conventions however. Although, there were a great many other things he had not seen before either, plentiful species of birds and the numerous small creatures which ran so far when the Ihokhetlani approached.

He turned his head the other Ihokhetlani, he knew they were still there as he could sense them, but looking at them was polite as Ohannakeloi had laid down. They were more awestruck by the sea than himself, as they should be for something by the Supreme Divinity, and that they had never seen such water in such quantity before. His two companions were quite young, young for the Ihokhetlani at least, all must be young compared to the divines. The companions, Ihena and Iaro, had not met Ohannakeloi, they were what was most of the Ihokhetlani, isolated from that first generation which had walked with him. Now Ohannakeloi spoke mostly through his priests, Ihokhe got updates every now and then when he prayed.

Although his awareness was dim far away from himself, Ihokhe felt something familiar interrupt his musings. He looked to the sky and the focus of his soul-eye made his confusion clear, another Divine watching over from above! “Ihena, Iaro, look above and gaze upon Azura most fair, Divine of the Wind!”

When they turned their gazes the distant bird she seemed to react, her exploratory gaze shifting down to them. Even at this distance, he could feel that their gazes had met. Moments later she began to dive down towards them and as she did, the sky behind her moved to follow her. What he had thought to an ordinary sky temple was instead something very much alive dotted with other things whose souls were very strange indeed. They had an odd rigidity to them that he had not seen, nor been told of before. It was one thing to know that your maker did not know all, and another to see it before you that which they did not know. Living, for what else had a soul? Yet still rigid beyond anything known, Ihokhe was not sure what this was, and not sure what he should think.

The pair descended rapidly. The great moving temple stopped some way above them until but Azura herself continued downwards until she landed gracefully a little ways away from them. She peered at them with what might have been curiosity before greeting them with a cheerful “Hello there.”

Ihokhe kneeled, after a sort as knees were not exactly a matter of his physiology, the other two hurried to emulate him. Ihokhe responded, “Greetings Great Goddess of Wind and Sky! We are humbled in your divine presence. How may such humble creatures such as ourselves please your magnificence?”

“You can tone down the reverence just a touch if you want for a start. Or a lot actually. I have no need for such platitudes, that I can assure you. Please stand or sit or whatever makes you comfortable.” she said, her tone invitational rather than instructional “I mostly wish simply to talk with you, to learn about you and your kind if that’s alright with you. What are your names first of all?”

“As you wish Holy One, we shall comply. I am Ihokhe, priest and first of my race, the Ihokhetlani.” He paused.

“Ah, I am known as Ihena, gatherer of stones, Great Azura.”

“And I am Iaro, first of the westward journey, Holy Azura.”

Ihokhe spoke again, hoping curtness would be more favorable, “We will answer as we are able.”

The great bird let out a barely audible sigh before she continued speaking just as she had been “It is good to meet you, Ihokhe, Ihena, and Iaro. You know who I am it seems but let me introduce my friend here as well” she pointed a wind upwards at the great structure. Then she shouted something unintelligible at it, at which point a number of stone limbs upon it moved aside at its front, revealing a fleshy creature’s gargantuan mouth. The creature spoke to him and his companions directly ”'S toil leam gur coinneachadh.” Needless to say he could not understand a word of what it said.

Azura seemed to quickly pick up on this lack of understanding “Ah. Language issues. One moment.” she said before engaging with a brief conversation with this Luis creature after which it floated up and away from them. Luis spent most of the rest of their conversation exploring the area from above “Sorry about that, I’ll fill him in later. Your creator and I don't share a common language it seems. That’s not a problem for us, but that may end up producing problems for mortals like you in future. I’ll have to make note of that. Speaking of which, I’d like it if could tell me a bit about who made you and why? Are they treating you well?”

Ihokhe looked to the other two before he replied, turning back with a downwardly averted gaze.

“First I was made by the Great Divine Ohannakeloi, blessed be his name, he taught me many things that he knew about the world and its gods. Then he showed me how I was made and taught how to make more of the Ihokhetlani. He gave us, me and the other Early Ones names, and taught us and warned us of dangers we might face. He withdrew, I and the other priests still commune with him, speak and learn, but he does not show himself much anymore. We taught those who came after us such as these two here, all that we knew and we all continued to learn as we could from the world.”

Ihokhe paused briefly, he had not told the others outside of the early ones this but it was a Divine asking the question.

“As for why we were created I have asked only once for it was something he did not tell us, he did not tell me then and I have not asked since. He has told me things that we must do, be kind to each other, hold respect for one another, spread across the land and always respect the Divines, but he has never told me that.”

Ihokhe lifted his head to look at the Goddess before him.

“For your last question, I cannot answer you. I believe with all my being that Ohannakeloi is good, I do not know what you would consider good treatment.” He paused before taking a chance. “If I may be so bold, are those souls in rigid structure above treated well? Our souls are not like that I can see, we are not treated like that if that is what you ask.”

Azura had been nodding alone approvingly for most of his explanation but stilled upon being asked his question. “It’s quite alright to ask. I should begin by saying that, apart from Luis who wears the structure, those specific souls are not people like you, but are instead things that I call Constructs.” she explained carefully as if what she was saying might upset them “They are like you physically this is true, at least when compared with most other life on this world which is made of flesh and blood rather than stone. Their souls are solidified but this isn’t unique to my Constructs, or won’t be anyway. Their minds, however, are far simpler, akin to those of insects. They have no imagination and exist only to follow instructions and carry out specific predefined tasks. I made them as tools and weapons to help and protect people not as, well, people. If they were people the way I use them would not be considered good treatment.”

“In contrast,” she said, returning to her original cheerful tone “from what you have described of Ohannakeloi’s treatment it seems good overall. Any misgivings I have with it are minor at best. He made you fine forms, has taught you well, imparted upon you good ethics and has, most importantly, respected your freedoms by not enforcing a set purpose upon you. He has done well by you in my opinion.”

“Great Azura, may I speak to you as I would another of my kith and kin, would you pledge not to punish for the questions I may ask?”

“By all means.”

“I do long to ask about misgivings you have with the treatment from my creator but I dispense with that for I do not understand. All things that live, plants, animals and we Ihokhetlani have souls, we can see this, but as far as I can tell insects do not. They have something different which is beyond me and Holy Ohannakeloi has not explained it although I suspect he knows something more. These constructs of yours do have a soul, like all things that live, but you say they are not like other life. You say that it is most important to not enforce a purpose on a person, but have you not enforced purpose on that soul which could have been a person? Please Great, Holy Azura, I do not mean to disrespect but I do not know, and I feel I must understand these things if I am to be a Priest and fulfill a duty to my people.”

“I am more than happy to answer. Taking those questions one at a time” Azura said as she turned her focus to what he saw was an ant hill in the grass some way off “Hmmm. That is odd. I was not aware that that was possible. I can sense Parvus’s essence all over them however, so perhaps that is taking the place of the soul. I am afraid I’d have to ask to know for sure.”

“Anyway” she said, turning her focus back to them “moving back to questions I actually have answers for. As I said my only complaint was a minor one, namely the lavish praise you must have been instructed to heap upon the gods. Some gods presumably desire such praise and might even be offended if it is not paid, so it's probably wise that you give them such dues lest you anger them, but personally I dislike it. Despite our differences in power, we are both people Ihokhe, and I find the idea of people lording over one-another unnecessary at best and dangerously abusive at worst. I haven’t spoken to Ohannakeloi, so I can't judge why he wanted you to act way, but from your brief description I imagine he had good intentions even if I disapprove with this one aspect of his teachings.”

“As for your last one, that is a question I have wrestled with myself and one that I and Luis have discussed. To be honest boiling down personhood itself into an exact definition is a difficult task. Nearly impossible in fact. However, we gods can see the minds of all beings, which makes judging personhood a lot easier. It’s a sliding scale of self-awareness, intelligence and so on. You and I are clearly people. An ant is not. It acts purely on instinct and does not have a consciousness of any kind, and neither do my Constructs. In between, you have a petty fuzzy sliding scale that I wouldn’t worry too much about. I recommend being kind to all living things just to be on the safe side. As for the person and possible people situation, we decided that actual people should take priority over potential people. We gods have limits, and we should focus our efforts where they could do the most good. Also making all things people is somewhat cruel. Imagine having your mental capabilities and yet being stuck as a tree. Blind, alone and unmoving. Or to be created with a set task in mind that you had to adhere to, despite your ability to imagine and yearn to do other things.” she explained, though it was clear she was not entirely confident her reasoning was coming through.

“Perhaps it is easier if I let you see the mind of a construct for yourself. It is a thing made entirely of rules and directives, complex though they may be.” as she said this a bird flew down to their meeting spot, one with orange, red and pink feathers with a white mask on its head and metal bands on its wings, both of which contained the solidified souls Azrua had spoken of. “This is an Alma. With your permission, I could give you the ability to see its mind and command its actions.”

“I should know more, you have my permission.”

With those words Azura nodded her head in confirmation, it would only take but a moment. She pressed a small portion of power to him, easy almost to do so to a being whose essential soul and being was partially opened to the world, and Ihokhe could feel the Alma in a different way. He reached out.

Greetings came a void in his mind. He followed it to its source and found that he could sense the soul of the bird far better than he could moments ago. Its very being was laid bare before him. Most of it anyway. There where 5 soul crystals which all were linked to the still unknowable regular soul of the bird their stone and metal frames were attached too. The collective had a symbiotic relationship, all of them performing different functions described in text and words, spoken words that he recognised as the same ones Azura and Luis had spoken with before. Now however he understood it perfectly and it appears that the soul gems consisted primarily of verses of songs that doubled as instructions and rules. An unfathomable amount of them there might have been, a veritable symphony of symphonies, but each individually made near perfect sense. There was no mind in here, he could see that clear as day, only an unending list of reactions to certain stimuli, situations or tasks as Azura had described.

The whole construct was… ...strange to be sure, less thought as he knew it and very procedural. Connecting through it now was strange, he had touched another's mind before when the Creator had first taught him and this was not at all like that. As Ihokhe examined this creature or thing, more grew clear about its form, its capabilities but its lack of a mind was strange yes, a rigid form, but not a still one.

He withdrew his thoughts from it. “I have seen enough for now, and understand my lack of understanding far better.” This had given him much to think about, as he now had to answer his own question from his own thoughts from this knowledge.

“You may retain this ability if you wish. The Alma will be sticking around to... Well. Tell me, has Ohannakeloi spoken of what happens to the souls of the dead?” Azura asked him

“Thank you, Holy one. No, he has said that he does not know.”

“I thought not, but thought it best to check nonetheless. Very well then, let me tell you a tragic tale.” she said. Then she told them a story, of untold souls brought to this realm by the hand of the Architect. How he had plucked a scant few souls from this mass and made them gods, while the rest were put to the torch by Katharsos, turned into ash that had then formed into the souls of all that now lived on Galbar. How their very souls and lives were owed to this slaughter, and how when their mortal lives came to an end they too would be drawn upwards, like moths to a flame, where they would be burnt to a cinder in the name of Death’s endless cycles of destruction and creation. She explained how the of light, virtue, and wind had met and sworn to oppose the suffering this cycle caused and how she had made the Alma to rescue the souls of the dead, crystallizing them in a solid form that could resist the pull of the vortex until such a time where they could be born anew.

“These soul crystals, are not like the ones in the Alma or in Luis’s armor, which I call Soul Gems.” she clarified at the conclusion of her story “Those were blank slates that I shaped into tools. Soul Crystals are a person’s soul turned into a different state and then placed in a stasis of sleep. They are people, even if they cannot express that fact until I create a way to reawaken them.”

“I see, forgive me Holy Azura, it is a lot to take in at once.” Ihokhe paused, the other two were doing far worse at accepting this information than he although their outward appearances would have given little signature, their thoughts, however, were without much sense of order. He continued, “I have one question if you do not mind it. I appreciate the knowledge it is far better to know than to not, but what would you have of us?”

“Your consent.” she said explained “I want to make sure people know what is happening to them and that they let it happen when their bodies fail them. I’ve made sure that the Alma can't force anyone to accept their crystallization. A great injustice has been brought upon you, and I wish to grant you the tools to save yourselves from Katharsos’s infernal flames. Yet it would be an abuse of my power to take what has not been given. So please” Azura bowed her head low “Let me help you.”

“Ah, O Holy Azura, I plead forgiveness but I do not have the right to give unto you that which you seek! I am pledged to serve all the Gods and I am pledged to serve my people, my mind is in turmoil I cannot know which way should I lean, let alone what path my people should follow. I have no idea which path is right. I know you speak of injustices done upon my people, but I would do another if I spoke in reply without proper consideration, not just of my own mind and thought made clear but that of my people.”

“I. But...” the goddess of the wind rose quickly from her bow. Though he feared she might lash out Azura instead took a deep breath “You’re right.” she admitted after having calmed the emotions had coursed through her mind in response to his rejection ”You’re right. I’m sorry for trying to force a decision, and that I let the urgency of the situation get ahead of me. I’ll not intrude for much longer then. This conversation has given us both... us all, a great deal to think about it seems.”

“Great Azura, may I suggest that you head further south and to the east, on the base of the western mountains are the majority of my people, they stick around to continue building my race. There are most of the priests, first ones, and most of my people if you seek a decision prevail upon them for one after due time for consideration. I doubt any can provide a decision on such a choice to any satisfaction but there you may come the closest. Ohannakeloi is somewhere near there as well, but I cannot say where that may be, perhaps he can grant you more than I could.”

Azura nodded. “Thank you Ihokhe. It was good to meet you and your friends.” she said. Ihokhe bowed his head in response and the other two followed after quickly, “It will always be a pleasure to have the company of the Divine of Wind. I am always, humbly, at your service Great One.”

Azura seemed to want to object and then thought the better of it. Instead, she bid him farewell. “Never stop asking questions Ihokhe. Till we meet again.” before launching herself skywards, flying up and away to floating Luis above and leaving behind the her blessing and the Alma that continued to watch them with its crystalline souls.








Ohannakeloi thought deeply as the Buajoai drifted westward over the landscape, felt he had a better grasp of his past before coming here. He had some time to try to sort through his memories a bit better and it was starting to come back to him in pieces. Fighting and conflict on such a large scale, yes, but there was so much more he could not yet parse, a council or meeting of some sort? Figures standing in dark? It made no sense yet but he would continue to try, another time, however.

He was feeling quite better after that exertion of landscaping, it was quite magnificent looking out upon it all, and he could even see where some others had started to do some work as well. Which all brought up the question, what he going to do next? He had some thoughts before, perhaps on mobile things, intelligent ones perhaps so that he might finally find conversation. Or maybe he should just get out more, no the idea was a strong one but he needed to understand how these things worked so he orders the Buajoai down towards a… ...forest? That word seemed to fit.

In any case, the craft was brought down to the ground once again, now in the western lands that were both wet and warm, the life that existed here seemed to be doing fairly well under such conditions. The main problem was that Ohannakeloi didn’t really get why or how any of this stuff did what it did, and then there were all the fuzzy bits of souls and the like. It was pretty confusing how all that worked together. As it was, however, Ohannakeloi had some time to examine them more closely and try to figure out how to do something similar, after all, how hard could it be?

On the ground, he examined the forest in great detail, or as great detail as he could without messing it up too much. Mostly it was that which didn’t run away or move very fast that he examined at first. The trees and the various other leafy forms of life were not particularly easy to figure out. From what Ohannakeloi could tell they did do things, but he wasn’t quite sure why or how they did such things, or even what they were but they did something. And Ohannakeloi was not in the mood to figure it out, besides he needed to figure out how to make some much more animate things and while these had souls, unlike stone they were not at the level of activity Ohannakeloi wanted to see.

The slight issue was that most creatures that he did want to examine were quite uncooperative, turns out a large extremely fast crab can be quite distressing for many small creatures. Mostly Ohannakeloi got a good idea of some very active actions while chasing a number of creatures, he did not want to accidentally break them so he was quite limited in stopping them without destroying their environs. He could tell that they too relied upon their souls, they were all different in some ways of size or precise composition but he got a general idea that he needed to use souls.

Ohannakeloi now had an idea of what he needed to do, or at least what he wanted to have done. He had been thinking of the other gods as well, less of them specifically and more the forms they had chosen. It had always confused Ohannakeloi why one would choose such unstable and ill balancing form, so tall that falling would be easy enough and one needed both legs for proper functioning. Now however he was starting to see some potential benefits, one could leverage one’s size in height and reach much more effectively in addition to those over dedicated graspers, such as when Seihdhara picked him up, were more effective at manipulations than his own claws.

Admittedly the gods had little to fear in terms of predation so the concerns about damages were less than justified, perhaps the others had some good ideas in choosing their own forms, good ideas Ohannakeloi could learn from. Particularly in his own creations, a biped of stone that would have a soul, perhaps many such?

Ohannakeloi walked back to the Buajoai and brought forth several stones from the earth, dispersing some of that life that loved the soils so. He formed out the general shapes, a torso in one, a head in another, graspers and feet. The head was formed very specifically, one large indent and otherwise quite smooth. Next, he connected each of these with innumerable small stones, to give flexibility between the pieces although pieces like the graspers were already of several small pieces, connected still by grains now. Now all he needed was a soul and then it should work properly.

He had seen this before, one needed that plentiful ash to form a proper soul, although how that happened was beyond him. He tried using whatever power he had to force together the stones he had collated and tried to call forth ash to bring it to life, although exactly what he was doing he wasn’t quite sure. Whatever he did try, some part of it must have worked as ash seemed to come from nowhere to collate into a soul, quite a large one compared to the various ones found in his brief search of the forest. Ohannakeloi looked at this new being before him, it was quite large perhaps twice as tall as Shengshi was long, although perhaps a bit more than that. Made of stone connected shifting together was quite flexible, even as now the small stones shifted over the surface.

However, Ohannakeloi could see his new creation was having some difficulty, particularly it didn’t seem to be able to seem very well as it tried to get up. So he stepped up to fix that, he pulled on its soul a little, grant it access outside the stone confines to see and interact as it should, pulled specifically at that indentation in the head and soon that region glowed with soulful-energy a window to its Soul. He then linked himself to his creation and began to teach. That Ohannakeloi was a god and creator of the mortal, what being mortal meant, what he knew of others gods, the power of speech, and how Ohannakeloi made him in the first place. As they linked and talked Ohannakeloi knew his creation better, he knew that he should be called Ihokhe.

As Ohannakeloi taught he showed Ihokhe how to make more like him, and they did. First one then two and three. Stayed with them all and taught, their relation to the gods, all Ohannakeloi knew about the word that may help them. He saw they had several abilities that seemed beyond most of the majority of mortal species, they were intelligent like most of the gods, but also they could also sense souls to a degree, and could use them to a little degree. As it was all they could really interact with besides what they’re stone bodies could do they did it well, ripping what pieces of soul they could from dying things and using to power their own bodies. It was a replacement for what other mortal species apparently were able to fix without, especially as otherwise they would be forced to use their own soul to power their movements. He would stay with them and teach them their role and duties to the gods, as it was his duty as a god and one who knew more than them. The Ihokhetlani, those of Ihokhe’s kin, would not be abandoned so soon by their creator.








Ohannakeloi thought he had done a pretty good job on this place. It was full of nice stone to look at and provided a good opportunity to rest and just enjoy living. He walked around as he waited for his shell to harden once more, for a long while he took to just admire the various minerals and crystals that made his realm. It was nice to enjoy the peaceful nature of the area, the gentle stability helping to hold together that which was currently around and what he planned to create. The lighting was a bit odd he had to admit, didn’t seem to behave to the exact same rules as in the rest of Galbar, the darkness seemed to linger around a bit longer, perhaps it was something to look into later but that was most definitely for another time.

This place needed a name, first and foremost. It wouldn’t do to name it after himself, although the idea was tempting, it should stand on its own merits Ohannakeloi reasoned. It was hard to come up with a good name, well it wasn’t that hard but while the names were good they were not the right names. He had already gone through half a dozen or more but none of them felt right for this pillar of stability beneath the earth. A pillar of stability now that was a thought, but no matter a name not another project at this time he had enough projects that he felt he was behind on already.

Ohannakeloi felt that he had a wealth of indecision, there was this name or that, then again he was the only one here, it could be changed for a while yet. He went back to his craft, another that needed a name, and the portal. This place can be the best name that he had come up with so far, Ehomakwoi. Had a nice ring to it really although he wasn’t really sure what that meant, just that it felt right. The craft was a bit more difficult, gauging what had the right feeling to the crystal vehicle took a little while but he came upon it soon enough; the Buajoai. Well, it could be changed too if it didn’t work out but it made things simpler for now.

Ohannakeloi knocked his claws against his shell, stronger than before and strong enough for what he needed to do next. Although that phrasing was rather dramatic all things considered, or at least a decent number of things considered. In any case, he was ready, so he embarked into the Buajoai, folding the crystal once more to a now surprisingly snug craft but one that would allow the mission to go forward. Was mission the right word for it? After all, was this not the first grand public undertaking that would bare the name of Ohannakeloi? A grand capstone to his first campaign of creation would be a sufficient classification he should say!

Ohannakeloi began turning the Buajoai around and heading into the grand tunnel to Galbar, there was another that needed a name, but later that could be taken care of, now plans had to be made. He knew what had to be done, a glorious monument to the power and strength of the stone of Galbar that would stand testament to the divinity of Ohannakeloi! However, just what form that should take he was not yet quite sure. The raised stones and lands that he had seen on his approach to Galbar did have a certain promise but to simply copy the work of another? Such a thing for this great triumph of stone should properly be unwarranted in the extreme.

A statue did have a certain appeal if one was going to do something to shout their glory might as well make sure all know it is you who did such a thing. Although it did seem rather presumptuous, as it did not give proper due to the beautiful plenty and might of stone that made and stabilized Galbar, a statue to himself even made of such should not be when Ehomakwoi prevented such chaos. Proper dues had to be made to the material of triumph, of power, of glory even. If he was to do this he had to do it right.

Perhaps something more animated would be appropriate to display the glory of stone and Ohannakeloi. Although that had its own problems as it would not be of stone, or could it be? It was not the standard formation of stones to be particularly active on such timescales but it was something to look into perhaps. Ohannakeloi had built Ehomakwoi to stabilize and strengthen the underlying structure of Galbar so that he could make truly grand accomplishments, but he had been absent long from the surface, to wait and see what could be done was perhaps best.

He did not have to wait long, the gateway was not instant by any means but his craft was fast enough to make the journey through the tunnel short enough. The Buajoai shot out of the confines of the tunnel into the surface above, more appropriately the ocean, not quite the seafloor but not out of the sea either, near some island perhaps? In any case, Ohannakeloi did not have the time to dally around in the sea and so he directed his craft upwards to gain a better look at what changes had been wrought on Galbar while he had been away in its depths.

As Ohannakeloi ascended into the sky he took note of many things. The shining light he had seen before was still there as were the landmasses from before, however, there were many more continents and they were much changed. From above circling around Galbar, he could see much, a lot more stone which a damned good sight to see, he could be glad even though he had spoken little with his fellow deities that they took this work as seriously as he did. There was a lot more green stuff, and other colors notably too, he had no idea what it was but would fun to find out later he supposed.

He had a pretty good idea of what he could do, however, all these amounts of land were all nice and well but they weren’t enough. He could make a grand continent, improving upon all those before in size and glory, a true monument to stone without copying, he could improve upon the work of others. A new creation with supreme purpose and wisdom from the earlier attempts at magnificence! It was a good plan, now it was time to do something with it.

Where to start was troubling enough, Ohannakeloi did not want to expand directly upon another’s work, especially without even trying to talk to them about it beforehand. But he didn’t want to have such great interference by avoiding such things so as to destroy the possibility of his own work being realized. He directed the Buajoai to circle back around coming down off the coast of the first major landmass, eldest and most detailed, he would have to learn its name sometime. He headed due west from that rather large body of water in the center of that land to search.

Ohannakeloi partially climbed out of the crystal, keeping his legs firmly in the craft but allowing the rest of his body to be melded out of it. He did need to have a proper look if he was going to be sure when constructing such a grand work of creation. He flew till he came across a peculiar island, like any other excepting the completely flat cap of the mountain as though it had been sheared away.

He directed his craft to near the land, this would be a good place to start, it was notable at the very least and far from much of anything else. Flipping the craft so that he would be below it he lowered until he could reach into that earth with his claws. He felt the stone of the earth stretching down to the boulder of stability, his Ehomakwoi, and he pulled gripping onto that feeling of Ehomakwoi to pull up the stone of Galbar, creating more to fill the space, simply moving some in hopes of lessening the displacement of the oceans.

Ohannakeloi pulled, soon not even with his claws on actual earth but beyond that in his divine sense, building upon his rock and stable point, the underlying structure that he felt was needed. He directed the craft onward as the new stones of the landscape rumbled forth from the underlying sea and stretched to the horizons. Stone shifted, melded and formed below him as the Buajoai zipped above the sea. First, he headed south and east, there Ohannakeloi learned some of the limits of power when improperly moving the stone caused some to fall back into the sea, not enough support and new stone. This stranded a small amount of land from the rest but it would do.

He headed West still along this far southern area, keeping careful track making stone and raising it. It was draining work at this scale even for Ohannakeloi working with stone at this magnitude was difficult, but it needed to be done. After nearly looping back around to his earlier work, traveling along a sphere did create such difficulties if one used only the surface, he broke off and headed north towards the equatorial regions. He tried as best he could to limit the displacement of water but creating a land on this scale was bound to cause a few ripples in that great sea, even if clearly not as great as the body of stone moving it away, powerful and respectable nonetheless.

Ohannakeloi turned eastward, and eventually south to avoid another god’s created land and to link this one back together. He had taken care to connect the tunnel to Ehomakwoi to this new land although it was a little tenuous. It had taken a lot out of him making this new land, he took a name that he had come up with earlier, this one seemed to fit, and gave it a name; Atokhekwoi. He brought the Buajoai down, remembering another name for the island off the coast, almost forgot about that one; Yentoi.

Ohannakeloi was tired, very much so as the seas around his new land settled and the stone itself was no longer like a sea in creation, it was solid and stable as it should be. He pulled himself fully back into his craft and set it to go west. He rested as it flew waiting for further direction.






It was rather nice down here, even if Ohannakeloi couldn’t really focus on that all that well. He knew he had a purpose, something to do beyond his direct desires and coming down beneath the reality of Galbar was where he had to start. After all, you always need a good foundation before you could get really to work, at least that is how Ohannakeloi saw it. He was really glad that he had come down here to set up foundations because the underlying stability really just wasn’t here. It was really startling actually, just how much wasn’t properly held together. Most concerning, however, had to be the underlying disturbance down here.

When Ohannakeloi first came down it was chaotic but not as much as it would be a moment later or the one after that. It was getting worse in other words, and that was very much not good. If there had been a proper structure before it had apparently been too fragile to withstand what had caused this. Which of course had raised the question of just what was causing the violent disorder here.

And now he had found the answer to that question. It was perhaps foolish to have seen the great works that others had wrought upon the surface and skies of Galbar and to not expect the same in its depths. Anzillu had been at work it appeared, for something of his had consumed an entire sphere evidently enough. That was partly good and partly bad, for it seemed the being had perhaps little other purposes, and Ohannakeloi always liked the thought of fulfilling one's purpose. However good it may be it also was causing a great issue, the sparse connections between realms meant that this consumption spread occasionally beyond that realm of Anzillu. Although it appeared quite ill-suited for the other realms, it still did not do anything good the stability of the system as a whole. There might be some other effects too, there was a degree of strain from a number of works it appeared but nothing too major, the structure down here really did have some room to be improved.

Now there was work to be done, the search for why the issue was here was done all there was the solution or at least the treatment. Which meant figuring out how to lay proper foundations with the sphere of Anzillu around, with all the effects that its existence entailed. Ohannakeloi brought the crystal around nearby, a sphere that was close to that of Anzillu would be good to suppress the negative effects of that realm and would provide a good point to support the broader Galbaric system.

Ohannakeloi folded the stone to create a proper space to disembark from the crystal. A small pocket of an open area to enact his plan properly. He began by expanding the space making a cavernous space, then stopped. It was all well and good to try to make this space but as it not going to work he could see. Already the stone newly formed was not sufficient to provide the stability needed, or the protection from Anzillu to maintain that stability. Well, he had always thought that his form was an exceptional one, why not try to work within that some.

Ohannakeloi once again took control of the stone that surrounded him and began to pump it into his shell, or more precisely the space between his current shell, and the one forming underneath, cracking and opening it up, allowing him to slide out, eventually, that is. Soft-shelled but ready, Ohannakeloi broke up the molted shell into pieces and got to work infusing them into the stone cavern, strengthening it, and bringing the underlying regions back into order. Additionally, shutting off Anzillu’s secondary influence, probably at least, it was rather hard to tell to be honest given that it had calmed down quite a bit but Ohannakeloi did not know what it was like before Anzillu was here. In any case, there wouldn’t be any secondary undermining of Galbar while Ohannakeloi was here that was certain.

Looking around the caverns and tunnels Ohannakeloi got a good sense that this would work, a very fine point of stability for Galbar, and more importantly his own soon-to-be no-doubt-to-be glorious works! However, most of those should be at the surface, where everyone could come together to see and appreciate them, and while Ohannakeloi did not mind traversing the stone underneath the surface of Galbar, it did take some time. In any case, he was a god was he not? So perhaps a little amount of time saved would be good, after all, he had a great deal to get to work on, many must be waiting on him!

Bending the rules of reality just a bit wasn’t particularly easy, not the least because Ohannakeloi wasn’t exactly clear on the details of these so-called ‘rules’ but creating a nice shortcut to the surface seemed like a perfectly reasonable expectation of a god did it not? Ohannakeloi went to one of the smaller caverns, even if all those other gods stood in their giant forms here they wouldn’t fill the room, probably certainly. He grabbed one of the walls with his claw and twisted, not just the stone but some of the physical regions as well. Ohannakeloi was exactly sure what he was doing besides that this felt like the right action to make a little shortcut.

The stone whirled and pulled into itself, a tunnel that was not quite a tunnel, the physical limits made sense as whole but not in their pieces, but it was enough. This was the shortcut he needed to get back up quickly. Ohannakeloi began to wait for his shell to harden once more, soon enough he could start his first great work, or perhaps the second?

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