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About 55 years from the Soul Heist




Ohannakeloi had to admit, the Obelisk did look rather majestic poking above the tree line. He was down near where the Ihemol met the Orvar river as the mortals had taken to calling it. Some of the Ihokhetlani insisted on the Orvamol but it was significantly less popular, it mattered not. He had taken the Buajaoi back into the Ihomakwoi and lifted his keep up near the Obelisk itself. The Ihemol flowed not too far distant but the meeting point of the Orvar and the Ihemol was beyond the horizon at this altitude.

That was not truly important. What was important was that the priesthood was on its way. They had prayed to him shortly after he had taken his keep afield from the rest of the mortal population. He had told them his plans. They had started out soon after that, not truly all of them, only a few of the Ihokhetlani priests elected to come given the situation at hand. He was proud that they chose to continue assist their compatriot mortals over simply coming to receive gifts, it showed good promise for what was to come.

An Ihokhetlani priest called out, Hase, “Divine Ohannakeloi! You were vague but you have promised us much. Although we do not deny your gifts we must protest that you have done much for us already! We are greatly indebted to you already but we are pleased that our meager efforts of recompense have seen such reply so readily!”

“Fairly direct Hase, but nonetheless true enough as well. Full truth however, I am impressed by what you have accomplished so far here, but I do need to leave I fear. There is much elsewhere that I need to know, to learn. SO I must leave, but I will not leave without giving gifts.” As he spoke the great group grew closer to the Obelisk and the Ihomakwoi on which Ohannakeloi perched.

“Here are my gifts onto you,” Once again, many of the Vallamir and Nebulites felt the pulsing additions to their knowledge as had when they landed a decade prior. “Knowledge of the Ehofi Script and its process, as well as construction and workings of simple boats. Most importantly I give a set of righteous commands and moral warnings into your minds so that you are guided even in my physical absence.”

“Hase, Valdemerl, Solun, Nebuli, Aefsige…” Light shined upon them as he spoke their names, imbuing them with power. “I name you studious and holy persons as my chief representatives. I name the Holy Synod of Recorders, Archivists and Explorers of the Temple. I know each of you and trust you to guide the priesthood and through them to guide all peoples of faith. Recorders to seek and write all that is known, Archivists to preserve and analyze what is known, and Explorers to expand what is known. You may be one of these things, you may be all of these things.”

Ohannakeloi paused as he gathered himself for one final act.

“And now for the Temple that shall be bastion of your faith and my power here, behold the Temple Ziggurat.”

With that announcement, loud sounds exploded forth. Across the river Orvar, trees and underbrush, dirt and animal alike, all were pushed aside from a wave of stone from deep in Galbar. Beasts and birds bolted from the collapsing forest as the Ziggurat rose out of the earth, it radiated the deep power of Stone and its resonance with Ehomakwoi. The crowd of priests gawked, although many had heard of Divine exploits, it was quite another thing to see that power and to feel it first hand.

The structure arose, fifteen times the height of an Ihokhetlani, and its base much larger in a rectangular form. There were seven levels and three staircases, a central one facing directly towards the Obelisk and two smaller ones along the long sides of the base. Each of the first six levels on the front side had one of Ohannakeloi’s guiding phrases on each side in the Ehofi script, carved into the stone. The Seventh level had one bisected by the staircase, ‘Fairness is paramount - in all things’.The two long sides, with the secondary staircases, had inlaid designs of animals and beasts and beings of Ohannakeloi. The rear side was decorated with Ohannakeloi’s symbols but also smaller lists of the commands of Ohannakeloi on each level.

Each level was decorated ornately, with stone railings and designs on the walkways around the Ziggurat structure. Relatively small entrances dotted the levels, allowing access to central passages in the Ziggurat that brought forward secret rooms and locations.

“I will remain in the general area for a while yet, but soon I shall journey once more. I will return in time.” With that and no further time for questions, the Ihomakwoi took off upwards into the sky. Ohannakeloi gave time to think, and to rest after such an exertion.






About 55 years from the Soul Heist




The lands around the Ihemol had been quite prosperous for the Vallamir and Nebulites alike, and the Ihokhetlani found great power in the stone crafting of their new friends. It took a few years for the Vallamir and Ihokhetlani to learn what they did not know of the crafts, and even longer for the system of Priesthood that the Ihokhetlani kept to begin to spread to other peoples. However, Ohannakeloi was very devoted to leading these efforts and keeping everything in good order.

Aefsige and Solun had become the first Priests of their respective species, although it was soon after others would join them in the service, typically regaled with stories of the various Divines, although admittedly mostly focused on things said by Ohannakeloi. A few stories and legends were told of the exploits of other gods, mostly they seemed less than pleasant. The Terror of the Southern Ranges, the Ikhortaur, a beast of the Divine Kirron that killed without sense or reason. Or the unknown creator of the lost kin, the Ihokhurs, driven mad by dark forces, under their Evil-Priest Kalani they cut a swath eastwards a few decades ago, few wished to travel after them. These and more were taught by the Ihokhetlani priests to the new guides of faith.

Ohannakeloi guided little in matters of faith besides insisting on the faith itself. He instead concerned himself with practical matters of building and expansion, his Priests concerned themselves with bickering in innumerable matters of theology. That being said, the populations did grow very rapidly, the fertility sap and the lack of entertainment tended to see to that fairly well. Although a division began to show between the Vallamir and Nebulites with time, a few had little issues. However of each race, there were a great many who didn’t quite get along so well, this largely meant that most spent more time among their own population than with the other as there was largely enough of everything to go around.

The largest contributor to the growth of population had to be the Ihokhetlani however. As the children became many, work did not slow down, it sped up as the Ihokhetlani learned uses of tools for stone shaping could greatly increase their numbers rapidly and were generally stronger and less prone to fatigue than the other peoples. Although they couldn’t quite match the precision work, in broad construction this matters not so much as in the making clothes might be. This meant generally that homes were built quickly, and that most families could devote most of their time to child-rearing and other pursuits that they found.

Ohannakeloi had thought everything was going rather well. He was enjoying a theological discussion between several priests on the merits and possible pitfalls of the Shengshese doctrine. As much of the doctrine that Ohannakeloi could accurately remember and repeat to his priests rather. That was until he noticed a congregation a fair distance away and listened in.

“...but what is it?”

“...nothing that I remember from the stories…”

“...‘didn’t see it’?! There's a lot more than just the one, are you…”

“...must be a Divine’s work that, let me tell yas…”

He stopped listening and looked up instead. He kicked himself away from the discussion group and headed for a less populated area as fast as his body could carry him. Up above shards of the moon, Veradax, burned brightly in the skies of Galbar, a few he could see would cause a great deal of trouble immediately. One chunk, small but still was dangerous close to impacting the main population area, something he would not afford. He had reached an uncleared area of forest, most importantly one without sapients.

Ohannakeloi dived into the earth and exerted divine power to bring forth a structure, one to protect. He arose atop an obelisk, unadorned with smooth faces but of divine stone. More importantly a divinely infused crystal through the core of the obelisk that soon radiated its power outward. From the mountain peaks and the gaps between them, a shimmering wall, a dome in truer fact. A protective casing made to prevent things of great destructive power from impacting into the central regions of the populated area. Only what of the dome rose above the horizon could be seen, little power drawn normally only concentrated at the point of an impact. Its ends in the mountains could not be seen from the location that Ohannakeloi was in, but he knew that it reached there at the least.

The chunk reached the barrier, initially, it did not seem to stop, the barrier shrunk instead of letting it pass. Soon lines of power converged on the point, strengthening the barrier so that the chunk was destroyed, its rubble thrown back, pushed away as the barrier grew to its previous extent. It had worked as intended.

Ohannakeloi was not done however, he hurried to get to the Buajaoi to use it to divert or destroy such chunks that could impact the mainland of Atokhekwoi. After all, he had hardened its hull, although he scarcely expected this to come about from so long ago.




The task had not been easy, or completely successful. However, the destruction was much less than it could have been, or at least the destruction on land. Most had been diverted into the oceans as the pull of Galbar was too much to resist in the time he had to work on the chunks.

There was much to be done, he had been perhaps too complacent in recent years. Listening to his mortals and paying little attention to his fellow deities had evidently been ill-guided. He knew not why chunks of Veradax rained down, but he did plan to find out, first he had some business to finish up near the Ihemol.






About 45 years from the Soul Heist




The Ihomakwoi had swung far to the west, both to avoid the Eye of Desolation and concerns of division among the Nebulites but also that Ohannakeloi thought a westerly approach to the final destination would be most effective. The journey had been uneventful after the communications difficulties had been worked out between the Vallamir and Nebulites. Over Atokhekwoi now they approached the western mountain ranges.

Solun spoke, “Divine Ohannakeloi, the Nebulites and the Vallamir have gathered on the walls as you requested. May I ask, for what purpose are they there?”

“You will see when we cross over the mountains.”

After that the Nebulite fell silent, waiting with the deity. Aefsige soon ascended up to the top of the tower, they had both become somewhat useful servants to Ohannakeloi, others tended to listen to them when there were any issues. It was something to think upon certainly. Solun caught Aefsige up on the extent of what was learned, and the two sat in to wait with the Divine Crab.

The Ihomakwoi was flying lower than the mountain peaks, significantly so as to obstruct the view beyond, it could fly higher, of course but that was evidently not desired by Ohannakeloi. As the flying keep finally came close to the mountains it rose above, showing the view beyond. An enormous river stretched off into the distance, many other rivers and streams from the mountains could be seen but this was larger than any other. Many smaller bodies fed into it, they could not even see its end. The land was covered in trees, a vast forests, the only interruptions being where it grew too steep for uninterrupted coverage, or where a river flowed. Ohannakeloi spoke out to the masses along the walls.

“I have come to realize that my keep may not be big enough for the population that I have brought to it. Thusly I have instead brought all of you to a new homeland along the great river Ihemol that you see before you. This is not the end of my gifts onto you all, Vallamir and Nebulite alike.” The Ihomakwoi flew over the grand river, following down into the immense valley between the ranges of the western mountains. Ohannakeloi resumed speaking, this time with his words came divine power echoing knowledge into the heads of all those assembled.

“I grant onto you powerful knowledge for living in the lands below, although the Nebulites know the secrets of stone working now the Vallamir will as well. More importantly is new knowledge known to neither people, the proper management of fire for grand many uses, the usage of clay to make ceramic materials, knowledge of engineering of structures, as well as important knowledge of the effects and usage of plants and materials you may find here to make medicines, knowledge of hygiene to ensure good health and good conditions, knowledge of the tanning of animal hide to make leather and finally knowledge of the making of tools for the proper application of all that you know.”

Ohannakeloi spoke into the stunned silence as the Ihomakwoi flew on, “Nebulites still have more knowledge of farming and woodworking that the Vallamir should endeavor to learn if you wish to do well in turn. However, I will now say this. Three Days. These next three days shall be a celebration before you will commence work to make your new home along the banks of the Ihemol. On the fourth day you will be joined by other servants of mine and you will find the grand task ahead of you lessened with their help. Rejoice!”

Ohannakeloi turned to Solun and Aefsige, “Open as many of the wine jars as necessary, the Ihemol is clean enough to drink from should need water, I will be gone for the three days to gather some of my other servants, see to it that all goes well here.”

Affirmations were granted as both went to try to organize the chaos that came from the divinely-ordained party.

The Ihomakwoi had settled upon the eastern bank of the Ihemol, near where it was joined by another river which was given no name before Ohannakeloi left the expanding revelry in the Buajaoi.




Hase never slept well, he had taken up a great deal of influence being the only real authority from the first ones in the north west, Ihokhe was here somewhere but he had disappeared, only faint traces could be found, a conversation there, whispers of a legendary founder of the entire people. It didn’t matter really, the others of course led the Ihokhetlani to the far corners of Atokhekwoi, to the glory of Ohannakeloi. It was a large responsibility and he never knew if he was doing right in the guidance of Ohannakeloi, he prayed but gotten little in terms of direction even if answers were given. He lay troubled, one word woke him quite quickly.

“Hase!”

Stood before him on a pillar of stone was his God, Ohannakeloi, looking far more magnificent than he remembered, Hase rolled into kneeling before him. “Ohannakeloi you have returned to us!”

His face stayed facing downward but he could hardly stay completely respectful, to be woken by ones God was quite an excitement, he hoped Ohannakeloi would understand.

“Yes I have, after far far too long I should say. There is much to tell, but there are some other followers of mine that you will need to meet, and they are in need of guidance.”

“Lead the way, Blessed Divine Ohannakeloi. Are they far?”

The Ihokehtlani priests that had stayed with Hase began to wake, and quickly awakened others and moved into reverent positions as they could manage.

“Not too far, I will walk with you, there is much to speak of.”







Ohannamauoi had been hard at work for a long time. After his creation he had headed east, afterall if the Ihokhetlani were in the west, and he was to protect them from threats, the most likely location for threats he did not know of, was east. At first it was relatively easy, there was nothing that could stand against him, he had taken to settling the Ahomauoi, in regions he had cleared to prevent more dangerous creatures from seizing control of the resources, competition limited to the lesser dangers. Ohannamauoi knew his purpose was to kill all that threatened mortal life, and he would start with the most threatening, the Ahomauoi could be controlled and were a limited danger to the mortals he knew of.

Then he had come across these strange lands filled with great beasts, they were of similar stature but not made of such strong stuff as Ohannamauoi. Especially as he had taken to bring some Ahomauoi of large size to fight with him, they made unruly and unintelligent soldiers but they were tough and hardy enough to be of use in combating and replacing these threats. In time he had made good clearance through the great numbers and replaced with Ahomauoi, their populations grew well in the plains west of the eastern mountains. Those times seemed to be long ago now, ten years ago that steady expansion came to an end.

Dark Red creatures had spilled forth from the mountain passes from the east, normally they were twice as long as they were tall, reaching heights of a little less than twice as tall as the blessed Divine Ohannakeloi was wide. They were deadly in the extreme, easily a match for Ahomauoi of similar size and greatly numerous. The Eldest among the Ahomauoi stood a much better chance against them, able to match size and greater strength against the creatures, although deadly they were. They seemed quite capable against the likes of the grand beasts of the reddish lands, they seemed less prepared for the Ahomauoi, and utterly surprised by Ohannamauoi. They greatly outnumbered the Ahomauoi in their normal course of action, but under his command the beasts had to fall back to organized amounts of the great Crabs, especially led by himself.

Initially he had tried to close the mountain passes, while at a time successful and allowed for some reprieve, soon more found a way around or moved the boulders he had cast down from the mountains to seal the passes. For the past ten years he had continued a war of sorts against them, occasionally leading forrays to the east to attempt to assault their numbers but they always seemed to have reserves. It was a trouble, he could win wherever he fought but still they came, he could not be in each location to fight them. Especially as he needed to keep moving in more Ahomauoi as they bred and grew to replace the high casualty near the mountains, he could not allow a successful breach and spread across the western plains, that would make it most difficult to locate and kill them as they were clearly a threat to mortals.

He had prayed to Ohannakeloi, but he knew it was not to be helped, it was his duty to kill threats, Ohannakeloi had his plans and claws full with his own preparations. He had been told that there were few mortals that prayed to Ohannakeloi beyond the mountains, Ohannamauoi knew that since the Ihokhetlani spread from the west, there was little danger to any important mortals as long as these beasts stayed in low enough numbers and sufficiently bottled. Reaper Spawn, Ohannakeloi had called them after he had surveyed the area before leaving to attend to a most Divine Relative, Ohannamauoi knew not what the name meant. It was of little importance, they must be slain as they were a threat, but Ohannamauoi knew not how.

He stopped from his musings, his small force of Ahomauoi stopped with him as they had been ordered to, there should have been more creatures around here than he could see. Ohannamauoi’s eye stalks scanned the plains looking for an explanation. And he saw why, a large pack of reaperspawn stalked the plains, small ones that were built for speed while two larger brought up the rear. They had grown bolder since their arrival, prompted by their extreme aggression and territory being challenged. The reaperspawn didn’t seem to notice Ohannamauoi and the Ahomauoi that were with him, however.

Ohannamauoi began to head towards them, the reaperspawn tended to be faster than him he had noticed, and as large as he was he was noticeable in the plains, that never quite seemed to properly deter them. The Ahomauoi followed, this group should not be much trouble, it was when they came in large numbers that issues developed, mostly as the reaperspawn tended to be smaller than most that followed Ohannamauoi, and the larger ones had never been greatly numerous.

The larger of the reaperspawn were the first to see Ohannamauoi issued warning sounds, a deep yet shrill noise that lingered in the air. This prompted the smaller ones to stop in their tracks, and locate the threat. As soon as the giant crab was located, the smaller one bolted at the crabs with bursts of speed. The two larger ones broke off from their smaller cousins and turned to flee in the opposite direction towards a hilly region, an entirely new display of reaction. Usually they all charged, and they all died.

Perhaps they were getting smarter, or less numerous. In either case they had to be dealt with, he ordered the Ahomauoi a new, “Attack the smaller ones, follow once they are dead.” He followed the large two of the spawn, hills were not such a terrible environment to fight in, although that did usually mean closer to the large masses that lurked beyond the mountains. In any case, Ohannamauoi chased the two larger spawn towards the hills, his Ahomauoi would follow close enough behind once the smaller ones were dealt with.

The hills seemed to twist at every turn, growing taller as he went after the two spawn. The air grew silent with anticipation as the world seemed to still. The stench of decay wafted through the hills, crushing everything under its pervasive presence. It was only when Ohannamauoi was far in winding turns that a scream echoed throughout the hills, far higher in pitch and carrying authority with it. That was when the hills exploded with reaper screams, and the sound of thunderous footsteps beginning to advance from all directions. It was an ambush.

A most fortuitous occurrence, the enemy had accepted the inevitable and had come to face him. Ohannamauoi stopped and stood his ground as they came to close upon him.

They came down from the hills, they came unseen holes, they came from behind and they came from the front. Hundreds of reaperspawn, all in varying sizes but one thing was the same, their red eyes hungered for death. They surrounded Ohannamauoi, snapping claws and teeth at his direction, but none dared approach, as if they were unsure of how to attack. Then another scream echoed over the hills, silencing all of them. From the front, cresting a hill was the largest Reaper ever seen, surrounded by a guard that rose to it’s shoulders. The Reaper mother had come.

“Are you their master? Their mother? Father? It does not matter in the end.” Ohannamauoi had no such confusion as to how to attack, the masses were not a great impediment for him. The small ones were the first, only a great many of them would be of the same mass as one of his claws alone. He stepped forward, his claws slapped the front wave of the horde as their numbers trapped many in place the speed and sheer mass of his claws broke bones and allowed free movement of things that were not meant to move so freely.

The giant Reaper did not respond, instead it approached as the spawn parted. Most of the smaller spawn fled behind their leader and as safe distance away. Even the guard began to part, leaving the two colossal creatures a space. The Reaper paced back and forth, its muscles tensed and posture readying for anything.

Ohannamauoi did not delay, he attacked. He charged forward intending to grapple the smaller creature, if he could get a hold of it, he was sure he could kill it. He gave little heed to the spawn, they seemed ready to wait for the outcome, or would at least hold off for now. He leaned into his charge as he neared the beast, his claws reached to grab it.

As soon as Ohannamauoi charged, the Reaper prepared itself, crouching down low. When the giant crab neared, the Reaper used its powerful legs to jump high over Ohannamauoi and attack from the top.

The Reaper landed fairly easily, the carapace of Ohannamauoi was large and the size difference made it more feasible to land and dig into it. While his armor was more akin to stone rather than many other more organic structures, the Reaper was still capable of harming him through it due to its own great ability although it was not easy. Ohannamauoi pushed himself off the ground with his left legs, only to fold them under himself as he went into a roll.

As Ohannamauoi began to roll, the reaper pushed off and landed upon the hillside, barely managing to prevent itself from being crushed under the immense weight of the crab. Before the dust and debris could even settle the reaper assaulted one of Ohannamauoi's legs. The Reaper ripped into the carapace but received a swift kick away from another leg for her trouble.

Ohannamauoi fully stood back up and once again faced towards the Reaper, charging very similarly to before. His opponent growled, a metallic smell filled the air as it hoisted itself up onto all limbs. With a powerful push, it leapt sideways at the last minute before Ohannamauoi could grab it. It wasted no time in strafing around the crab’s legs, slicing at the carapace legs with four arms, as it moved with the crab.

He tried to crush or kick the Reaper, which was not particularly successful, the Reaper was quick to dodge and move, flowing between his strikes. He switched tactics, stepping away from the Reaper, backing off and turning to face it. Whenever the Reaper moved to strike at his legs or otherwise avoid facing him claw to claw, he tried to refuse engagement.

The Reaper huffed in annoyance as it’s attacks did little damage as the crab became defensive. Then it became quiet, hate filled eyes scanning the crab with new intensity. It was looking for something, but to what, one could hardly be sure. It backed up, then with another mighty leap it jumped to get on the crab’s back.

Ohannamauoi’s claws reached out to catch the beast as he backed up to allow such an action, he had awaited such a mistake. There would be little enough capacity to dodge or use its advantage of speed when it was on a set trajectory. And the Reaper was caught by Ohannamauoi with a sickening crunch.

His grip was fairly solid on the main body of the beast, he squeezed tight to ensure it did not riggle free. He slammed it back into the ground, pinning it with both claws to the earth while trying to move his right forward leg into position to better pin the creature and free one of his claws to attack it. The Reaper let out a harrowing scream, sending the other reapers into a frenzy as they began to run at Ohannamauoi. Then as quickly as the scream came, the Reaper stopped and looked into the crab’s beady eyes with delight. Though the Reaper could escape, it could still attack. With two arms, it latched onto the front pincer and then bit down with it’s mouth of razor sharp teeth. After a moment of resistance, the teeth slipped into the Carapace and with it, decay.

Ohannamauoi lifted his leg, instead of pinning, smashing it down upon the limbs of the beast until he was satisfied some damage had been done. He ignored his injury as he picked up the beast and threw it into the horde once it was almost upon him. He retreated backwards, towards where his Ahomauoi should approach from as he kept his claws at the ready to fight and buy time against the masses pressing against him.

At the sight of the Reaper being thrown, the smaller reapers paused in their attack and instead surrounded the larger one. She got up, one of her horns was broken, and so two was one of her arms. She looked upon Ohannamauoi with malice before turning to limp away, her guard following her backwards. The host of the reapers followed, leaving behind countless dead and dying.

Ohannamauoi stopped moving backwards and slowly followed, killing the dying rather than pursuing the host. “I shall have to kill them another time, need something to make dealing with them easier, or some way.” Ohannamauoi mused as the Reaper and their spawn left the field of battle. It was finally vacated as Ohannamauoi ensured the death of anything that remained and then he left with his finally arriving host of Ahomauoi. The dead were left to elements and what survived in the area to prey upon their corpses.







Ohannakeloi found that managing over two thousand mortals in a very confined space with little to do was not particularly pleasant. Especially when split into two halves that could not speak to each other, that particular problem had created quite a bit of tension in his keep. And a great number of issues for Ohannakeloi personally, as each conflict or disagreement between one of the Vallamir and one of the Nebulites quickly required another that could understand both sides, most of the time when they had no real issue and instead simply could not understand that they agreed.

Ohannakeloi had summoned two of the number of mortals, one from each of the two races, to an upper chamber so that he may talk to them and stop this issue.

“Solun and Aefsige, there has been a bit of a problem, that being the constant disputes of little substance here in my keep. I know both of you have been very good in keeping your respective peoples calm until I can sort out whatever happened but I will let you know that it is less than idea this issue.”

Aefsige spoke, “Divine Ohannakeloi, I understand what you mean but it is difficult when there is so little space and with nothing much to do, I hope you can understand that we are simply stressed by this conditions and it does not reflect on your stature.”

Solun spoke next, “Divine Ohannakeloi, perhaps if you could create separate quarters for the Nebulites and these Vallamir we may be able to reduce the conflict at least until there is more to do, as there is little to do or act upon, except each other and without understanding that is more often for ill than good.”

Ohannakeloi snapped his claws, “I think I have a solution that would be of benefit.”

Ohannakeloi held out a claw and stone began to form, a divine stone most common to the divinely infused creations of Ohannakeloi. It was fairly long, if put at the base of the floor it would have been a third the height of Solun. It was decorated with several symbolic representations of Ohannakeloi and his creations. Ohannakeloi handed the scepter to Solun. “Take this and tap it to the forehead of Aefsige, carefully it is rather heavy.”

Solun did as directed, taking the scepter and tapping the forehead of Aefsige. At first nothing then Solun and Aefsige both felt a jolt as each suddenly learned the other’s language. The words came into their heads bidden from the other, connecting the meaning to the words and concepts they knew already in their speech.

Aefsige was the first to speak, in the Nebulite tongue, “This, this is amazing I-, it is as easy as though I were speaking in the tongue of my people.” He turned to the God Crab. “Thank you, Divine Ohannakeloi. This gift is very important, even if I still feel odd but this, is it permanent?”

“Yes, you now fully know each other's language. It may perhaps be wise to use the Scepter of Understanding on more of your peoples before I have to again assist in stopping their conflicts.” Ohannakeloi spoke letting some of his annoyance that had been building up get through.

Solun spoke, “At once Divine Ohannakeloi, come with me Aefsige, this will go easier if you are with me.”

The two went below into the quarters of the Nebulites and the Vallamir, initially just the quarters of the Nebulites as the Vallamir had taken to the lower levels of the keep. However the scepter allowed for the transmission of language, and that fact quickly spread, especially as it was of divine origin, quickly Solun and Aefsige only had to wait for others to come to them. Ohannakeloi hoped the spread of the two languages among the entire population would reduce the needless minor conflicts, soon they would be on Atokhekwoi, and Ohannakeloi knew just the place to settle them.





&

Kalmar





It had been a decent amount of time, the day had not turned but Heliopolis had moved significantly since they had arrived over Kalgrun. A great deal of the excitement had died down among the Nebulites after it simply became a view of trees passing below rather than the waters of an ocean, although occasionally something was spotted moving in the skies with them, they usually past by and at large distant so it was hard to tell what these occasional creatures may have been. The keep was moving rather rapidly across the sky as Ohannakeloi wanted to get a general survey of the landscape before going to anything particularly of interest. He could see that there was generally a fairly good diversity of life here, which has its own uses, but he had yet to see anything of grand interest, or at least anything that would be cause enough to stop.

“Solun, have they finished moving the pots into the lower storage areas I showed them?”

“I do not know Divine Ohannakeloi. I shall go check for you, I have not heard from them.”

The Nebulite nodded and left descending the tower to the lower regions of the keep. Ohannakeloi was quite confident that they were not and in fact likely slacking, but that did not bother him, their company was more pleasant to have around rather than a necessity of comfort. If he truly needed work done it was easier to do it himself, he could easily move the pots but they were quite entertaining and unfortunately grew bored easily. He would have to figure out something more than their base capabilities to keep them occupied.

A distant screech was heard, and a dark shape appeared over the horizon. With the sun directly behind it, none save Ohannekeloi would be able to make it out; but it was a griffin. An unusually massive griffin, comparable in size to his tower, and coated in black feathers.

And it was heading straight for him.

He was unconcerned. “Hello there, may I have your name so that I may greet you in better fashion?” Ohannakeloi spoke, ensuring his words carried the distance to the great beast.

The creature did not respond, instead continuing on its direct course toward the flying tower. Then, as it came within a few hundred metres, it made a sudden turn, and begin to fly circles around the stone structure. It did not appear to have hostile intentions - at least not yet.

“Curious perhaps? Or evaluating whether I threaten your territory? I cannot guess well at your thoughts, you seem peaceable enough.” As Ohannakeloi mused to the large Griffin, Nebulites came out of the depths of the keep to gawk, others stayed back in the doorways, not wanting to leave the comfort of the stone structure. Ohannakeloi was amused mostly with the great beast, it had an interesting design to say the least, it was clear enough what deity had made this creature, he had yet to come upon a deity which had even tried to hide the traces of their divine essences, especially in the greater creations.

“I assure you I mean to cause no true harm.”

With no further reaction from the creature, and no otherwise disruption in their course the flying keep continued on its way with a new companion. The Nebulites grew a little more bold as time went on, getting up the keep’s walls and the inner court and ramp. Eventually Solun returned to report, after it was clear enough that nothing further seems like it would happen as the griffin was content to circle.

“Divine Ohannakeloi, they had not finished but were in the process when I had left them. Do you know what the creature wants?”

“No, I am not overly concerned either, it has made little move other than to stay with us since it has come upon the Ihomakwoi.”

Solun did not reply, instead keeping a steady tracking of the creature as it circled the keep. Ohannakeloi went back to examining the terrain below, the griffin evidently uninterested in replying or addled enough to lack the ability to comprehend. The forests began to give away to grasslands, it gave a less obstructed view and once again the Nebulites had some interest in looking at the new lands below them. In distance Ohannakeloi spotted something of interest, some rather tall and lanky forms moving in the grass, possibly bipedal although he wouldn't want to make that call at the great distance, obscured by too much by vegetation. The path of the flying keep turned slightly more in that direction.

”Stop where you are,” a deep voice suddenly commanded within the minds of all those on board the fortress, Ohannakeloi included.

Most of the Nebulites froze as Ohannakeloi sent back, “Does that include the motion of the keep or is that meant in a personal sense of motion in reference?”

”The Keep,” the voice answered immediately.

“Oh well, that is easy enough.” Ihomakwoi began to slow as Ohannakeloi continued, “Although I can guess, may I have a name to go along with the demands?”

For some time there was no answer, and then Ohannakeloi would become aware of a godly presence, rising from below. ”Kalmar,” the God of the Hunt said, suddenly coming into view in front of the God of Stone himself.

“Hello Kalmar, it is good to see you again, and excellent to have a proper opportunity to converse. I heard that you had this land Kalgrun as a dominion of yours, it has a remarkable degree of diversity of life in a relatively small area with few barriers. I would assume that the one that has been following me, which is obviously of your essence, is one of your creations, a servant or guard perhaps?”

Kalmar nodded. ”A guard is exactly what it is. Its task is to notify me of strange occurrences or potential threats, and stop them if it is able. Tell me: what brings you here?”

“A survey, to be precise, I am looking for such life or other things such as ideas I might bring back to Atokhekwoi to further enrich those lands with the wise and great creations of our fellow Divine beings.” Ohannakeloi snapped his claws before continuing. “How are you doing? I have not seen you since the Architect’s Palace and we took no chance to talk then.”

”I am well,” Kalmar said with a nod. ”I raised this land from the sea long ago, and have been tending to it since. What sort of ideas are you looking for?”

Ohannakeloi waved his claw as he responded, “Oh nothing in particular, just seeing what others have done and if such actions or plans could be of benefit to me and my creations. What have you been up to? I have heard a little from our fellows but not in great detail about your land here, it does seem you have developed it quite nicely.”

”Most of the plantlife was created by some other god,” Kalmar revealed, ”I do not know who. As to what I have been up to, I spent much of my time building up connections and alliances against the more destructive gods out there. And recently I worked with some others to create a species of intelligent mortals,” he waved a hand to indicate the small shapes on the ground, who stared up at the stone fortress with mixtures of wonder, curiosity, and fear.

“That is good, another mortal race of soft skinned bipeds it seems, common enough among the gods that it seems to be fairly popular in the creations. You can see Solun here,” Ohannakeloi gestured to Solun standing a little ways away from the deities, “is of the Nebulite race. A design of Orvus as you can probably tell, I helped him make them as it seemed awfully important to him and I have my uses for them. What do you call these ones?” Ohannakeloi continued to peer down at the figures below.

”The Vallamir,” Kalmar said, his mouth shifting into a frown as he studied Solun. ”What can you tell me of Orvus? I keep hearing conflicting accounts: some say he changed, but only recently I heard he tried to decay the souls in Azura’s vault.”

“A decent enough name for them.” Ohannakeloi turned to Kalmar once more. “As for Orvus, changed I cannot say, I did not truly know him before. I had heard some whispers of danger but he seems mostly content to live with the Nebulites, particularly a little family he has down south. In any case, I would doubt he would do much trouble now should everything remain fairly fine down there. It is troubling to hear of such things of that Soul vault, do you know if the attempt did much damage to the souls there?”

Kalmar shook his head. ”Azura only allowed me limited access. Still, he made the attempt, and he once told me himself that he intended to decay all the souls in existence. People keep telling me he changed, but this recent act cannot be ignored - it could just be that he has become more subtle.”

“It truly does not sound like the being I have met but perhaps it is so, I cannot say myself, I cannot even verify that such events have occurred. I would doubt he plans much the same given to decay all souls would include his wife and children. However it may be, I do not have reason to act at this time. Did you have many plans for these Vallamir? From what I’ve seen of your Kalgrun I am not so sure they are greatly adapted to survival here.”

”They will survive here,” Kalmar said with a nod. ”Why do you ask?”

“Well, I may have a use for some of them if it wasn’t too inconveniencing your own self. I figure a deal of them may want what I could offer in transport to other lands or service in proper exchange for care among such things.” Ohannakeloi snapped his claws in emphasis.

Kalmar looked back down at his creations, and then nodded slowly. ”Some can go with you, yes, but only if they are willing.”

“I feel I will be able to find a good number willing enough, perfectly fine by me and I don’t think I would want the unwilling in any case.” Ohannakeloi lowered his claws to the ground as he continued, “Would you care to stay for a little while? I expect finding and speaking to these Vallamir will not be an especially short task so there is plenty of time if you wish to rest a while.”

Again, Kalmar nodded, floating forward then down to land next to Ohannakeloi. His eyes quickly scanned the crab’s body. ”A unique form,” he noted. ”Sturdy, strong, and stable, but it’s harder to carry things, isn’t it?”

“Perhaps it would be, but I scarcely need to use my claws to carry things as we are gods. If I need to carry it better I use my own ability and not mishape my form to accommodate such a need. Will you have wine? I received some as a gift and have it in a great quantity.”

Kalmar raised an eyebrow. ”I will,” he said after a moment. ”You received it from Shengshi, I assume?”

“Yes I did.” Ohannakeloi turned to Solun, “If you could have some of the others bring one of the pots to the open court, I can handle the rest. Oh and go prepare a number of simple things to eat from the kitchens, shouldn’t want any that may join us to go hungry.”

“Yes Divine Ohannakeloi.” Solun turned and bowed to Kalmar, “Divine Kalmar.” Solun turned and began heading down into the tower.

”Your meeting with Shengshi - how did it go?” Kalmar questioned.

“It went beyond well, he was a most equitable host. He did speak somewhat honestly about the relationship between the both of you, of which I am sure you are plainly aware. I will say he did not try to dissuade me from visiting your land here, he has his distastes but he was most fair in his speech.” As he spoke the keep began to move slowly once more, currently down closer to the group of Vallamir below.

”Hmph, I can’t honestly say that I understand him,” Kalmar said. ”I came to help him against a threat, but due to a perceived insult he threatened to kill my creations and broke an agreement. That isn’t what you came to talk about, though, so…” he shifted his gaze down to the moving figures below. ”I created the Vallamir recently. You might have heard it - it was loud. I did so with the aid of Roog - a lesser god created by Katharsos and I - as well as Arae and Li’Kalla. I don’t know how much you know about what happened to Li’Kalla, but it seems she has recovered from it - at the cost of much of her memory.”

“On Li’Kalla I know very little, I was told that she was a sweet girl but that something had happened, didn’t inquire too deeply at the time. I am glad to know she has made a recovery although the memory is of course a shame. I should quite like to meet this Roog, always good to meet new people, in more than one meaning for new I should suppose.” Ohannakeloi paused as the keep stopped above the ground a fairly short distance away from the Vallamir group on the ground. “If you would excuse me a moment.”

Ohannakeloi lept from the walls of the high tower down to the surface of Galbar below, he caught himself with a small pillar of stone that he stood upon in front of the group of Vallamir. “Vallamir of Kalgrun, I, Ohannakeloi God of Stone, have come to offer you deal. I offer a living space, food, my protection, and a chance to live in other lands, in exchange for your simple worship. Should you refuse no harm shall come to you besides that which would naturally befall you. What do you say, will you come along with me?”

Unfortunately, most of them were already fleeing, clearly terrified at the sudden appearance of a stone pillar and an unknown creature. Some had left before Ohannakeloi had even begun speaking. They scattered in all directions, trying to put as much distance between them and the crab as possible.

Still, a few remained, at first frozen in fear, and then began to fall to their knees or bow. Still, none spoke.

”That could have gone better,” Kalmar remarked as he floated down next to Ohannakeloi. ”Vallamir, I am Kalmar: God of the Hunt, and your creator. Ohannakeloi does not intend you harm. The offer is a simple one: follow him, or remain here.”

The ‘Mir exchanged glances with one another, and whispered amongst themselves, until one stood up. “I will go,” he said, and three more rose along with him, nodding their agreement.

“Excellent!” Ohannakeloi climbed onto the side of the pillar as it fell towards the keep, the stone grew becoming a ramp up. “You can follow it up into the keep, there will be others different from you who will give you food and show you where you can stay and sleep or any other thing you may like.”

Ohannakeloi took his own ramp up, claiming a pot of wine from a few Nebulites and ascending along the side of his tower as others waited for the Vallamir.

As the Vallamir ascended the ramp, Kalmar followed Ohannakeloi. ”Is that enough, or do you intend to ask more?”

“Far more in all likelihood, I may need to adjust my approach somewhat.” Ohannakeloi set down the pot on top of the tower, opening it and creating two stone cups, one handed to Kalmar. “A drink before we set off to another location?”

Kalmar nodded, accepted the cup, and drank.




It did not take long to amass a great number of the Vallamir, the mobility of the keep, and the refinement that came with many many attempts and pitches soon increased the number of each group that wished to join the population of the keep. The abilities of Ohannakeloi and the insight that came from having one of the creator gods around allowed for a good deal of successful pitches, although not all were. Soon the Vallamir outnumbered the Nebulites, not by much a hundred or two more in number, Ohannakeloi turned to Kalmar as the last Vallamir stepped onto the keep from a stone ramp.

“I believe that may be quite enough for me, a great deal more and I might have trouble housing them without a good deal of inconvenience.”

Kalmar nodded. ”Is that all you wish to discuss?”

“No actually there is one more thing I wanted to bring up.” Ohannakeloi paused, collecting his thoughts. “Do you know of any creatures of your land that might have some good properties or abilities that could be used well to some mortal benefit?”

”Shouldn’t these creatures use their abilities to their own benefit?” Kalmar questioned.

“Well of course that goes without saying, however every creature tries to use others to their own benefit, if it was otherwise then no being would try to eat another. I was curious for any creatures that may have some exceptional abilities or attributes that could be used from them, I did mention my desire to enrich Atokhekwoi before.”

Kalmar took a moment to think. ”The griffins and direwolves here are large enough for a Vallamir to ride,” he suggested. ”But getting the creatures to obey will be difficult. Let’s see… Phystene also created large beasts called vitasaurs - they have an aura with repairs plants and quickens their growth, but you’ll need something bigger to take them with you. Other than that, no. Taking too many creatures might upset the balance I have here.”

Ohannakeloi replied, “Griffins and direwolves, could make some use of them at a later point, perhaps a derivation to make them more agreeable for that purpose. I am most interested in these vitasaurs, I shall have to come back for a breeding number at some point when I can better accommodate them. Well I don’t think I shall take any at this time but I shall keep it in mind. I think I may spend some more time back on Atokhekwoi before continuing my survey of the continents.”

”Very well then. I suppose we’ll meet again?”

“Indeed I think we will, at least I hope we do. Farewell Brother.”





&







He had forgotten what his human form had looked like. It had been so long, and now the reflection looking back at him was almost unknown in that small little pond. His family seemed to be the only one that truly recognized him. His face was older, but did not depict his true age. His skin was sunkissed, a light olive color. His stature was built, and his muscles were large from years of work. His short cropped hair was black with fine silver in it, the same could be said for his short beard. Two blue eyes looked back up at him, before he cupped his hands and broke the water’s surface. He splashed himself, the water cool, then got up and turned to Ohannakeloi, before looking up. The two of them stood before a massive tree, deep within the heart of the Eye, grown upon the largest island. All around them, the world was abuzz with life, the same as it had been upon the first day he discovered it.

Orvus had brought Ohannakeloi at his request when the crab had insisted upon seeing it. Orvus obliged after spending a majority of the day learning the names of Nebulites, watching them mingle, answering questions as creator gods did. They were a humble lot before the two, but Orvus could tell from their thoughts that there was more to them. Arya and Laurien were getting along them all as well, and he could tell, they were highly regarded. A few Nebulites had decided to change forms, or at least attempted too. The process was a difficult undertaking it seemed, but with his help, those that wanted human forms had them. They would have to teach themselves and practice to turn back. He was surprised to find that the Nebulites human forms were a cut above from what he remembered the dream humans being. Their features were enhanced to say the least, beautiful even. He caught Laurien staring at several as the day went on.

And as the day went on, several concerns grew in his mind. They had created many Nebulites, and even though Ohannakeloi was going to take around a thousand, that still left him with his own, several thousand. How was he going to feed, cloth, and house all of them? Had he been too rash in his decision to create them? It was because of this that Orvus had agreed readily when Ohannakeloi asked of the tree. They needed another private conversation.

He turned back to Ohannakeloi and cleared his throat. ”Phystene…” he cringed at the memories that name brought back, ”Our sister created this monument, as far as I can tell. As you probably noticed on our walk, the land began to grow more wildly and lush with life. It acts as a fertility aura and, though I haven’t tested it yet, I believe the sap has the same properties. It could be invaluable for starting mortal colonies, or even civilizations. To be a bit blunt, I’ll probably have some Nebulites come here when they decide to procreate.” he said, rubbing the back of his head. ”There’s some other things we should probably talk about too, before you leave.”

Ohannakeloi formed a set of large containers for said sap, several vases made out of a faintly translucent quartz, and a small apparatus for channeling the sap into the containers. He talked as he worked. “I have meant to talk to Phystene for some time, I think we could do some great things together, perhaps if I had more time for such projects it would bear more fruit. Tell me brother, of what do you wish to speak?”

Orvus nodded. "Let me start by saying I do not fear for our people that go with you. I know that they will be well provided for, it's simply those that remain. I have much here for them to grow and learn, but first I must teach them how to do this for themselves. I am fortunate to live in a place where warmer temperatures remain all year, but they will eventually need to build their own houses for shelter and privacy. They will have to learn to hunt or farm to eat and how to make their own clothing and items. I can only provide so much for now. For they must become independent of my help if they are to succeed in this world. So I must ask more of you, is there anything you can provide to help, in your wisdom, brother?" Orvus asked.

“I think there is something I could create, I do need to plan it out some to make sure.” With that the crab began forming a small something out of stone, what exactly it was going to be hard to tell given how rapidly it changed shape. It was small enough to fit in one claw of his and so he picked it up and continued speaking. “Tell me brother, since you have clearly thought on this issue yourself, what worries do you have most for the future in this regard?”

Orvus thought upon this for a moment before saying, "Food and shelter are at the most pressing. I have enough to last for a few days and then there would be a shortage. Then they have no place for shelter, either." he then thought a moment more and said, "I might have a solution for the food shortage, now that I think about."

“Then I believe I may have a solution to the lack of shelter, for a long enough while to solve the deeper issues there.”

The small stone portion now formed into something more recognizable, a model of sorts, generally star shaped although there was no sense of scale at such a design. At the top there were a large segment covering the entirety of the structure, it appeared to be fairly solid stone, next were three distinct levels of entrances that seemed to be for a dwelling given the general context of the conversation. Underneath was another section of the main structure that appeared to be another block of stone, they didn’t have much on the outside to signify difference, although the top block did have some openings and small structures. Below that bottom were some further pieces and bits of stone although their purpose wasn’t quite clear.

“A very basic model all things considered although I believe it will do well enough for them to get properly in accord. Will have to be some strong stone for a decent amount of the structure but I think that will be easy enough to handle.” Ohannakeloi handed the odd stone model off to Orvus, “You’ll see that this will work for long enough.”

Orvus took it gingerly, looking it over with a perceptive eye. He began to nod his head, ”Anything will do brother. This looks like it will do. I think we will find these Nebulite to be a very thankful people, when our gifts are given. Come, unless you wish to study the tree some more, I can hardly wait to get back with my mind at ease.” Orvus said, looking back to Ohannakeloi.

“Well, I suppose these vases seem full enough.” Ohannakeloi lifted them away, ceasing apparatus and sealing them each with more stone. “It is rather awkward to carry them all, would you mind assisting me in bringing them back?”

”Of course.” Orvus said, taking two vases for himself. The two gods then made their way back to Orvus’ island.




When they arrived, the Nebulites were still mingling with one another. Rowan was conversing with a group of females, Arya was showing Wreanun and her armor off to a group of Nebulites, Laurien had a group of men following her around as she walked around and the twins were busy being coddled by another group of women. All in all, things were looking good. Orvus set his vases down beside Ohannakeloi and then shouted in a very loud voice, ”Nebulites! Hear me!” and there was a sudden silence of anticipation as all eyes fell upon the duo of gods. Like before, the minute they saw Ohannakeloi, tears began to flow at his awe.

”Listen well my children. Long did Ohannakeloi and I talk, and talk about many things we did. And with that talk, we have decided upon many things for the future. Thusly, I will bestow upon you all, three gifts.” Orvus then clapped his hands, and a force of reverberation flung out to hit all Nebulites with new understanding. ”I have passed onto you, two things. Firstly, the knowledge of farming that I have cultivated here. With this, you will know how to produce your own food and gardens. Secondly, I have taught you the basics of wood crafting. With this, you have a foundation of something more. Use this knowledge to better yourself, and understanding of this world. And finally, a blessing.” Orvus said, clapping again, ”There are many of you here, and what food we have will not last long with so many mouths to feed. Thus, I have blessed you with the ability to go for long periods without food, a fasting of sorts. As a tradeback to this, during periods of fasting, your libido’s will lower significantly until your hunger is satiated. This is all that I have for you now.” Orvus finished. Amidst the crowd, there were looks of confusion, but for the most part, the people seemed content.

“I have one gift for the entirety of the Nebulite race and one for those of you who have decided to remain behind, so that even in my absence you will be assisted.” Ohannakeloi spoke out to the grand crowd, with a wave, vase and claw, new knowledge came into their minds. “That which is needed to work and construct of stone is now known to you, it may not be easy, but it is effective and well worth it in quality.”

Ohannakeloi spoke quieter to Orvus, “You should keep all those that remain a great distance away from the take off site of Ihomakwoi, need the room to properly house them all. Come we’ll put the vases away and then I should be off, I have several more continents to see still.”

Orvus nodded. ”Now is the time that Ohannakeloi and his number shall depart from this land. You know you are, say your goodbyes now, for you may never again see one another. When that is done, all those that shall remain, move away from the Ihomakwoi and get to the tree line. You will have your answer as to why, when the great Oahannakeloi sets off.” Orvus commanded, and so it was. Those that remained said goodbye to those that would stay behind. There were many heartfelt goodbyes, which surprised Orvus, since they hardly knew each other. But perhaps they shared a bond that went deeper then what the eye could see. When they arrived before the Ihomakwoi, Orvus handed off his vases to two Nebulites who waited behind Ohannakeloi.

”This is it then, my brother. May your travels be fruitful, and may our people prosper under your watch. Thank you, again, for everything and do not forget the favor that I owe you in return.” Orvus said, giving a slight, but awkward bow.

“It shall not be forgotten, I shall look forward to our next meeting, whenever that may come to be.” Ohannakeloi raised his claws in respect before turning to head to the Ihomakwoi with Nebulite companions.

There could not have been more than a thousand going with him, leaving the great crowd of Nebulites and crossing over the distance to the stone keep that had planted itself into the ground a great ways away. The two Nebulites carrying the stone vases had to hand off the weighty containers after a good while of travel, Ohannakeloi hadn’t exactly set down his keep closeby. Upon arriving it was easy enough to show the masses the kitchens, the quarters, and the storage for those vases.

The Buajaoi raised the keep Ihomakwoi up from the stone basin that had been formed below it, growing to a height several times that of the keep itself into the sky before stopping. The basin filled in with stone, and soon it spread across the ground, what was soil began hard, strong stone. Before long a massive star had formed, each point several times the original diameter of the basin away from that originating point. Almost as soon as the stone had formed that star and stopped the transformation of the soil to stone, it began to rise building upon itself skyward.

The model had almost been exactly accurate, near the points of the star’s arms the structure opened on three levels, the sides of the star had formed some ramps that would allow whatever the Nebulites could not fly to be brought onto the upper levels. Although the first entrance was on the ground level the next was more than twice the height of a Nebulite above the ground level. Although not immediately apparent there existed the underground level to this whole structure, rooms filled space for storage and ramps to the center of the structure beneath the surface to accommodate transport of materials.

Each arm of the star was filled, three levels of rooms for habitation, an underground section for storage and a final layer on top filled with tanks for the collection of rainwater and the sluices for its uses and ventilation shafts so that the hot climate was not too unbearable. The ventilation shafts for each of the three levels came down to a chamber with a fire pit directly opposite of the long main hall down from each point of the star. The sluices would open up paths for the water to other secondary storage tanks that directly connected to washing areas. These areas themselves connected to disposal shoots that reached far down beyond the storage levels into the deep earth, on the model they went nowhere but here they reached into a deep space for the disposal of waste.

At the center the five arms came together, the main halls reached their fire pits and beyond the pits was a central chamber that connected all the arms and levels. This was the only area the stone above was of a nearly transparent gemstone, the walls were imparted with more gems that reflected the light much better than other stones. Overall this meant despite being a most central chamber of the structure it would always have good lighting. Additionally the ramps to the storage sections came up here in the central chamber.

Although most of this was hidden from the Nebulites, and indeed it would not become apparent until it rained the purposes of the sluices in exact function, Orvus was well informed on the capabilities through the original model. One thing was not on the model was very apparent however. The outside was not bleak as the model had been, instead it was formed with an outer layer of marble, inlaid with other gems and stones to create designs although the color remained mostly that of the marble, an off white. The designs were many and intricate, to scale Ihokhetlani, Servants, Nebulites, Ahomauoi, Iuoloai, animals big and small.

A voice came to Orvus, “It is a shame that the water tanks will not fill till you get a good rain, but I do not think you shall have to wait long, farewell good Orvus.” The flying keep Ihomakwoi finally began to depart from its position above, the shelter was evidently completed.

Orvus looked upon the new keep with awe, before looking upon the floating keep with a look of thanks in his eyes. The massive structure before them would do well for his people, and for those who did not want to live within it, housed would be built around it, forming a community. He then spoke aloud for all to hear, ”Ohannakeloi gives you a final gift, shelter. It shall be named, the Marble Star, home to all Nebulites.”

As murmurs and talk began to rise within the ranks of the Nebulites, Arya arrived next to Orvus. Her armor was gone, replaced by a simple white dress, and so too was Wreanon. ”That was… Impressive, father. Ohannakeloi, he’s a kind one.” she said mesmerized.

Orvus looked upon her and said, ”Indeed, Arya. Now come, let us talk you and I. There are some things I think you could teach your people about.” he said with a soft smile.











&



Shengshi

0MP/3FP





A near-tangible dampness filled the air. The Jiangzhou, which already had made its way back from Istais to its home on the Nanhese river, rested by the shore in a particularly deep section of the great jungle. Thick, mighty foliage formed near-impenetrable roofs carried on trunks that formed equally obstructing walls, trapping the moist air to bake and cook until even Servants were sweating. A few echoes of animal calls rang throughout the otherwise dreadfully empty woods, contrasted by the squips and squelches of the riverbank.

Aboard the great ship, the army of Servants had already collapsed to their knees and hands as the awesome radiance of the great Stone Crab washed over them like the rays of heliopolis. At the centre of the amazingly long and broad deck, silk carpets had been laid out for the gods to crawl and slither together. To the music of the forest and distant servants who tried their best to play sweetly as the mighty aura compelled them to kowtow, the two gods lethargically moved down the carpet in musing.

“A most dreadful shame that your visit could not be longer, my dearest brother,” the snake said somberly. “I do hope that your stay here has helped you find inspiration towards future projects. Again, if you would like any suggestions in that regard, never be afraid to ask. It is the least I can do.”

“Fear not dearest Shengshi, this shall not be the last meeting and I hope not a long separation.” the crab was joyous even in departure. “This visit truly has inspired some ideas, nonetheless because of your hospitality and wondrous creations here. I think we will find a great deal more to do together in the future, although I do have to ask a question because of something I was told before. Have you not created a companion sometime before, a Xiaoli I believe the name was?”

The snake raised a brow and nodded gracefully. “Why, yes - my most prized creation, that. Xiaoli, First of the Court, and my dearest better half. In a literal sense, naturally - she is my precious avatar. Though, she has not done quite as many divine tasks over the past centuries or so as I had hoped. I suppose that is what being a mother and a wife demands. Would you perhaps want me to get you in contact with her, my friend?”

“Someother time I should think I would be most glad, I do feel that I may have a great deal of work ahead of me that I will need to attend to first. It was a matter of ascertaining and confirming some minor things I had heard before, but I would be most glad to meet them in due time.” Ohannakeloi paused, briefly clicking his claws in thought. “Saying that I do believe I should depart soon, I should take stock of the situation around before I truly proceed with my work.”

The snake nodded somberly yet again. “Understandable, my friend; before you leave, however, may I offer you a little something for the road?” The palace gates swung open and a small battalion of Servants exited carrying a hundred wine pots, all of them straining themselves to not keel over in awe. The snake bowed. “Could not very well allow my brother to leave thirsty.”

“A most gracious host and generous giver-of-gifts, Shengshi you truly mark yourself highly among the gods. I could not do otherwise than accept.” With his words the Buajaoi grew close to the deck, the stone folding as it often did for Ohannakeloi’s embarkation, this time to accept the many pots of wine into the divine structure. The snake bowed even deeper.

“But of course - only the finest for my most beloved brother. If only I could do more.” He straightened himself back up. “Of course, I owe you a great favour in return for your absolutely gorgeous model of my vessel. Please, if there is anything else that you would like to bring along with you before you go, then I will provide it to the best of my ability. Say, how about a personal company of servants?”

Ohannakeloi clicked one claw. “A most generous offer that I have to decline, I do admit that your servants are quite wonderful but I could not take them from your own self. I really should be on my way, as pleasant as your company is.”

“Of course, of course,” the snake agreed and bowed. The servants on the deck all stood up, only to collapse themselves back into a kowtow again. They did this ten times, all the while thundering as one: “TEN THOUSAND YEARS AND MORE TO THE MAGNIFICENT OHANNAKELOI, KING OF STONE AND EMPEROR OF MOUNTAINS!” The snake put his hands together and smiled.

“Have a safe and fortuitous journey onward, my dearest brother. Please do not hesitate to return.”

“I will endeavor to return in favorable time. Until next time good Shengshi.”

Ohannakeloi embarked upon the Buajaoi, ascending into the skies above the Dragon’s Foot.




The Buajaoi circled high over the Dragon’s Foot, a brief survey was all Ohannakeloi was interested in at this time, afterall there was little enough that he could bring with him on the Buajaoi, and the gifts he had already received took a bit of space. That could be changed of course, he had been given several ideas from his stay with the good Shengshi. The Jiangzhou was quite a magnificent craft, and something of his own along those lines could be quite beneficial. He brought his crystal craft down on one of the eastern islands around the Dragon’s Foot. Such a thing needed planning.

Ohannakeloi planned out his construction in stone on the ground, a good base was needed, but perhaps some rounded regions below while it became more strongly aligned as it went up. Decently good walls, on top of that solid base, perhaps as tall again as that base? It would need a ramp of a fairly long length to both accomplish the needs of reaching the top of the walls without becoming too steep. All in all it should be about the same size roughly as the ship of Shengshi, even if dimensioned quite differently. Most carefully however, he planned out the decoration of his keep, to have such a mobile projection of power needed to have the appropriate magnificence of a Divine being, particularly one such as Ohannakeloi! He embarked into the Buajaoi and flew it up into the air.

Stone rapidly expanded out from where the Buajaoi floated in the air, a massive basin of curved stone formed, with a slowly filling interior. It reached out far from the craft itself before it stopped expanding outward, the walls shot upward then, forming a cylindrical base on which walls and a central keep formed. As each room and the walls that defined them formed, fortifications, and ramps and stairs all came into existence as well. The Outside walls and base became covered in designs, depicting the various creations of Ohannakeloi, some room was left for additions, a good amount of spacing while still keeping an appropriate size of the designs to be seen. Most of the stone appropriated a design as if it had been constructed through a mortal means although the actual structure was far from that. It was made from that same divinely influenced and strengthened stone that the Buajaoi had templated so well, this keep in the sky did not exist as a vehicle unto itself as the Buajaoi did. Instead this flying keep was held aloft by the Buajaoi while its own properties protected the occupants from any untoward action upon them or the structure.

Ohannakeloi debarked from the Buajaoi, stepping onto his keep, a room with appropriate structural support to connect the keep with the means of mobility, as well as to allow said means to leave the keep should it be needed. He continued up the halls from the central core until reaching the open reached where the core gave way to the wall and the ramp that served it, he simply walked up the wall to the entrance to the central aspect of his keep, the ramp could be used for others of lesser ability. A name for this keep came to mind, Ihomakwoi, it had meaning, perhaps he would tell someone one day.

He would head east, go visit that northern land, take a good survey of the inhabitants and what may be useful for his purposes. Although, perhaps a small diversion was acceptable, maybe visit some of those islands between the two lands, Kalgrun and Atokhekwoi. It would serve as a good basis, exploring those islands somewhat, seeing what is there and what is to be gained.

Ohannakeloi climbed the stairs of his keep slower than he might’ve, he wasn’t quite sure what purpose to put each room to yet but he had time. Sending a single through his keep he instructed the Buajaoi to set course for those isles, locked in as it was, the keep flew.


Interested.



&



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.



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