When does Xerxes get blown up? In my headcanon it's around 5 Post Realta, but I'm suddenly unsure. Cyclone and I are trying to work out when Tauga's interactions with the Grotlings took place, and we reasoned that it's definitely after Xerxes got blown up. (We're amazing logicians).
In my timeline I placed it at 3-4 after Realta, which is why at 6 FE/PR Susa says it was almost 3 years ago.
Yeah, that post features the second creation of Zerabil. I went back and re-read it for the third creation I posted a while back >.> if you read carefully enough, you'll notice that some aspects are word for word the same >.> >.> >.> >.> DEFINITELY FOR VERY DEEP ARTISTIC AND WORLDBUILDING REASONS. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME BEING A DAMN LAZY BUGGER.
I thought it was cool, I was like "wow" when I suddenly noticed what was going on in the Mk I post. Time and fate and stuff man.
Susa/Hurico/Uriko: Born in Mesathalassa, Susa was scouted by Lifprasil and went on in wacky adventures including two wars against hellish beings. When she returned, she was too young to be herself, so she took a new identity and has been working her way up the path of the shamans. She still tags between Imperial life as Susa and Shamanic life as Hurico.
Junjii: A boy from the dusklands who was sent to study the land down under. Susa figured it out as has become a quasi-tutor to him.
Marel Vasscogne and ZA GRIFFIN: Marel is an influential trader within the Mesathalassa region and is the current matriarch of the Vascgone family. She was gifted a bootleg version of Amazon Echo called The Griffin.
Innkeep: A shitty pun, also, a collection of wooden forts within the western wildland that act as meeting points for the wanderers and nomadic tribes. They are all connected by the large invisible network of the Shamanic Tradition.
Alefpria, Lakshimi, Lifpasil: Read Divinus MK II, wtf.
A series of small stories set in the region, with some Susa stuff in Alefpria too.
Marel is testing out the powers of The Griffin, seeing how it learns after she noticed it becoming increasingly more useful as she tried to figure out what the hell made the stars fall from the sky and burn everything. - Marel goes to Grehvew, participates in cultural tension, gets a nice deal on some crazy textile product. - Marel goes to Tabata, she hates Tabata. This is an introduction to the fact Mesathalassa did not develop the same concept of servitude as other regions, but recent changes have been adding pressure on the old system. - Susa has been getting increasingly dissatisfied with the situation on Alefpria. The system feels more bureaucratic by the day, and there is increased Lifprasilian snobbery on her path. While stuck in this dull hell, she picks up the habit of writing, and write reports on marine life, culture, and such. She tries to send these reports forward to Lifprasil, but the emperor doesn't seem to care. - Hurico and Junjii talk a bit about language, he hears Alefprian and is like 'fuck this'. Then, later, they are at an Innkeep. Junjii tries to carve a staff but doesn't know what location's name to carve in it. A mysterious woman appears and gives him a letter. That letter leads Hurico to a room with a collapsed man, they save his life and surprise, it's the Warden of the West, and he is very important. He asks the duo to go fetch him his grandchild. Hurico figures out that was a poisoning attempt, but she keeps to herself. - In the city of Puperute, the gardens dedicated to Elysium are slowly taken over by carrots after the local population discovers its good to eat and the regional population starts to see it as a luxury good. This part is told from the perspective of Seye, the young daughter of the local priestess, who after taking a nap, finds an odd being which leads her to some sort of box with music inside. - In the city of Jan, we see the proper introduction of actual cassava, not carrots. The king of the harbor laments that agriculture is leading to a social collapse and he fears the eventual return of slavery to the region, but he himself seems far more interested in fighting the neighboring towns of Krastas and Mirny. A shaman by the name of Krathud has been living in the village, he invented things such as the breeding of a fish whose scales work like a signature and turtle shell shields. However, his grandfather has called him to answer his call as the Warden of the West. - Susa gets more angry about Alefpria's government and gets suspicious when she looks into the borderlands reports from the Marquise's territory. She admittedly doesn't like Tauga, having fought her in the war, and she suspects corruption within her territory. - Krathud, Hurico, and Junjii travel towards the Core of the Halagan, a sacred land. Junjii can't go too far up the mountains because he is a normie. Krathud and Hurico go through a bunch of rituals and finally reach the highlands where the temple of the Halagan is, but they are attacked by mean people with obsidian knives. Before Hurico can wipe them out, the Warden of the North shows up and kills the assaliants, also snubs Hurico, before leading the duo towards the sacred cave.
The Griffin - Level 1 Hero 5kh + 9kh (12k) = 14kh
Susa - Level 8 hero 11kh + 10kh (14k+) = 21 Kh
2 Kh from The Griffin to invent Carrot Farming 2 Kh from The Griffin to invent Cassava Farming 2 Kh from The Griffin to further Sailing in Mesathalassa 2 Kh from The Griffin for Ore Mining 2 Kh from The Griffin for Metal Weapons 2 Kh from The Griffin to further Trade 2 Kh from The Griffin for Kodekzia Writing
Fish Breeding and Turtle Shields come from The Halagan Tradition holy order
15kh for Susa to level up 8-> 9
The Griffin Level 1 0 Kh
Susa Level 9 6 Kh
01 FE - Vascogne’s Storehouse, Mesathalassa.
“Yes, I can confirm, the whole region was set ablaze,” the traveler told, looking slightly to his right side. “The human villages were probably destroyed too.” as soon as he finished his phrase, he stopped moving, in fact, the whole world stopped.
“I think I figured this one out,” the merchant Marel Vascogne said, and with a snap of her finger, the man and everything in the room dissipated in smoke, giving away to her office, and what a sight it was compared to the damp hovel she had met that traveler a few days ago. Polished stone floor, cotton rugs on the wall, animal trophies from all sides of Mesathalassa and even beyond and many maps of many styles, including one done by herself, with the aid of The Griffin and precision unmatched.
“So this was the logic behind the sorting of the thoughts,” she said, in reference to the fact her familiar spirit, The Griffin, had suddenly changed the order of her key memories in the middle of her investigation on a topic. “Seems like it learned with me how to judge someone’s reliability by means of voice, facial expression, and even structure,” she noted.
At first, she had seen the Griffin as a bit useless, the spirit, a supposed oracle, would not answer her questions about the realm of divinity, even if it probably knew much more than her on the topic. It sensed what she sensed and knew what she knew, which at first sight was terribly disappointing, after all, she too could do those tasks quite fine! But, Marel was not one to give up quickly, and instead of dropping the amulet, she continued to try it out, and then she realized it, it knew what she knew but it forgot nothing, it sensed what she sensed but it observed everything.
With those tools in hand, she could easily tackle the issue of the recent ‘skyfall’ event that happened. In only two weeks, by talking to as many travelers as she could, the pieces started to be put together with incredible ease, Hain towns had been hit the worst, caravans of sculptors had gone missing, the human towns in the west and north were relatively spared, especially the ones that shunned concepts related to the entity they called Nugi-Hesig in the south, Anzarizig in the north, both translations of the thing the Hain referred as the Crawling One, the Crawling Mistake, or sometimes by her proper name.
It was somewhat frustrating for her, she sincerely hoped to increase ties with traveling sculptor for their amazingly rare goods, yet, being the aim of fiery god fury was a bit risky and could do a number on her profits, hoardings and even on her most precious asset, her family. For a moment she got the impulse to ask The Griffin yet again about the intrigue of gods, but she knew it was useless.
“I wonder what I should focus on now that the sculptor idea is dead…” she sighed, she had few personal projects left at this point in life, she was already a grandmother, she no longer had the impetus to adventure, but some was left, and she felt bored whenever she was stuck doing nothing but dealing with the family’s assets.
“Wait…” It clicked on her, how The Griffin had learned how to judge reliability quite quickly, perhaps, she should continue actively seeking out social and commercial interactions like she did while exploring the Skyfall situation. “Oh well, guess its time to seek out that fishy smell of a harbor town again.”
01 FE Grehvew
“Oh, look, if it is not the reindeer lady!” said the old man, shouting from within his half-open tent.
“For the thirty-sixth time, Koshuoy, it is a horse, not a reindeer. Big tail, no horns, not hard to remember you old fool.” Marel answered.
“You take its rein, its a reindeer,” he answered, laughing. “So, what brings the great Marel Vascogne to this dull rocky land?”
“Just checking on the business, so many cities getting burned lately, where would I be without Grehvew Silk?”
“Excuse me?” someone suddenly said in her comment, thick accent, trilled R, dusklander. “Gjereveh Silk? Is it harvested in Gjereveh? Is it traditional to Gjereveh? I think not.”
“Oh, I am sorry sir, look at me, I am an old lady, I cling to old words.” she talked down, she wondered if she could take out someone like the complaining young man with The Griffin’s help, it could outright make her think so fast that time felt slow, but her body did not become any faster. Of course, that was just a thought, she was not a fan of barbarism.
“Right… It is just… Uhm, annoying.” he struggled with finding the words, no lingua franca had been developed in Grehvew. “See, you would be mad, would you not, if one started to claim your products as his. The first sign of a bad deal, isn’t it?”
“You are absolutely right and I am absolutely sorry. I mean, I am Marel Vascogne, owner of that sweet purple stuff still clinging to the sides of your mouth. Why don’t we just forget this mistake? I would much rather have a nice time with some nice wine and maybe some nice talk about your wonderous land.”
The man stopped, both by the sudden reveal of who the old woman was, but also at the proposal of free wine. He nodded and shyly continued on his way. Koshuoy turned to Marel, signaling her to follow him deeper into his tent.
“Sorry for that Marel, these people are making the Iga look humble.” he huffed.
“Ah, pardon him, he was drunk. And we all knew people can be silly when drunk, is it not right, Shushuoy” she smirked.
“No, for real, I am getting mad. The rat-hair have been asking larger and larger shares of my profit.” At this point, I might as well drop the silk and go for the fish.
“Rat-hair? Those are incredibly mean things to say about your core trade partner, Kushuoy. And this was expected, you should never count on a good deal lasting forever, especially one where you buy something for the price of cloth and sell it for the price of gold.”
The man grumbled, “Did you travel all the way here to chastise me, Marel?”
“Not really, I came here to talk about investment. I would like to get some land and give it to my son. I want to see what other goods we can import from the dusklands. I would also love to add some pressure to get your people to finally increase the size of the harbor.”
“Ah, that would be good indeed. But a son? Why not a daughter? My grandson is unmarried you know?”
The woman smiled and changed topics. “Also, I need a lot of duskland cloth! That one that which light goes through, but it is not see-through, you know which one?”
“Tsilluhete, they call it.”
“Yeah, that was kind of it. Do you have any?”
“A whole lot. It is not popular.”
“Nice, I will take all you have away from your hand.”
The man raised one eyebrow and crossed his arms.
“Nothing important really, home renovations.” she smiled “I will send it home by boat, okay?”
01 FE Tabata, Mesathalassa.
There were few places Marel despised as much as Tabata, nothing would ever come from that town and if did it would probably be the end of the world, she thought. The hate was not born simply from the town's mediocrity, the fact it was neither a harbor (it was deep inland and only had a small pier as a river port) or a kingdom (really, a hill tribe at most) yet still figured as one, the terrible heat of the badlands that surrounded it or the terrible way the new inhabitants had built over the old ruins. It was born from the fact Tabata was close to the Vascogne's storehouse, and the king from that town had often gone out of his way to try to tax the merchant family, probably sending more guards to keep a watch on the routes than to guard his walls. Nevertheless, Marel was an expert in finding a way out of such situations, Tabata was no different.
The woman smiled and signaled to the guards. Luckily the ones on the gate already knew her, so she would not need to wait in the open for too long while the untrained force tried to find a superior to talk to. Soon, she was inside the town, the walls were like a huge ring around the circular dawnmen stone house in the middle, now it was a bit hard to figure that, considering the square clay house built within the stone house and the wooden palisades patching up the old wall, but an observant person could still find the pattern.
The king had yet to return from his trip to the port built outside of the walls, so the merchant was left waiting in the main hall, the clay house built over the stone one. Why the king would do that over rebuilding the house or demolishing it, she did not know, it was quite an eyesore.
"Griffin" the woman whispered.
<<Yes?>> the spirit answered, a metallic echo around her.
"Help me remember the conversations I had with the people from the north," she demanded, and the answer came quickly as her vision of the room was taken over by her memories.
Lately, she had been working on figuring out the language of the south and the language of the dusk, with The Griffin she hoped to be free from lingua francas and gesturing.
"Tsillu... is fabric?" she thought, making mental notes on it. "Maybe it is best to not mix assumptions with facts, help me to sort these translations by how much I trust them."
"Ah, much better, so, let me go over my assumptions, we should have time to finish working on what I have over duskland speak today and maybe move onto southerner before I am back home."
She heard many steps walking into the room, and as such, made her senses return to the present, she calmly prepared her offerings, food and a whole lot of wine. The first time she tried to move from avoidance to appeasement, she tried just the food, but it was useless, as she was about to leave, the king would come and ask for a share of her goods in payment for keeping the land safe. It was not a formal thing, it was asked personally by him or one of the guards. That made it hard for her to react properly, but it opened one path, if the king and his guards forgot to ask, she was free to leave without a single worry.
In other lands that would have already grown into a proper taxation system, but one of the oddities of Western Mesathalassa, perhaps due to the lack of larger kingdoms, was how barter and taxation worked. A king did not own the land, a king owned the harbor, a middle class that owned boats would barter for use of the harbors, and the lower classes would work in the ships in exchange for food and goods. Similar systems existed deeper inland, Innkeeps largely supported the tribal population in an exchange of services without fealty.
Tabata was an irregularity to the system, but it was not a total aberration, but instead, the first sign of its failure. The little hideous fort stood far away from the sea, so it got no chance of receiving trader boats, as such, to try to claim the land to bite at the trade was natural, even if inconvenient. Similar issues appeared everywhere, Marel could see it quite easily, gardens and orchards existed entirely out of the system, and people like herself were quickly amassing goods despite the increasing barter standards of harbors and sailors. She could also see how her sons and grandsons abused the use of servants and how larger cities were struggling with the old method of allowing anyone to cut wood as they pleased.
Kivico in the south started to barter for the very opening of its gates, the inland harbor of Mirny and its rich mines lived on makeshift rules kept by a tyrant priestess, which fueled tensions between Jan and Krastas, common exporters of their goods and well known for their abusive kings too. Many other situations kept appearing each time she traveled around, the shift from harbors and obsidian to gardens and copper was something their society was figuring out on a technical level, but not on the social aspect.
The thoughts kept churning about while she waited for the king and his men to be done, soon, they were all sleeping like sloths, without nobody to pressure her into sharing her goods, Marel was free to continue her journey, giving just a share of her wine instead of the rare goods she brought along. As it was all based on informality and the luxury was not essential to the people, there was little repercussion. She did not expect this to work forever, one should not count on good deals lasting, a solution to Tabata would need to come up.
04 FE Alefpria
Susa woke up, she did not feel any bit more rested, perhaps this was why she had not slept a lot in the last few years. The day continued as normal, like every single other day before, she walked into the office, she had all sorts of people bow to her, she sat on her desk, she waited for reports from her scouting team. While waiting, she would continue her newly gained habit of reading, it had been suggested to her after one of her officials read her reports on climate, culture, and history. Everyone hated that official for a while.
The sun was high in the sky, a clear day for everyone but Alefprians, who lived under the mist. Not her office though, it was in Lifprasil's palace which was built above the clouds. She wished it was under, the humidity would do well for a human, but it was clear that the building had been designed to beings higher than her, she learned it was fruitless to complain a long while ago.
The sky was darkening, the sun was past the horizon yet its light lingered. No reports today, again. Not that Susa cared, she had been occupied writing down something of her own, she wouldn't be finished just in time, but maybe tomorrow. She was impressed how the Knowledge House of Alefpria did not have extensive papers on the oceanic flora and fauna, she expected to find at least notes on the topic dating back to times before mankind had even stepped on Galbar, but if that existed, she had yet to find it. She had also asked the Great Academies of Vulamera, of Jvan, and even consulted with Salassar, no results, but it was hard to believe it did not exist.
With a sigh, and as the night fell, she searched for Belvast, sleeping was not as relaxing as teleporting to the other side of the world.
04 FE - Western Wildlands, Mesathalassa.
"Come to think of it, you are quite good with pronunciation. People who lived much closer to this land have far more difficult."
Junjii was surprised by the sudden comment, though now he grew used to that, Hurico was the sort that would get distracted by random thoughts. "Ah, well, I think it helps that it was very hard to learn the language. If it was possible to take an easier path, we would take it, right? Also, I guess its because even in my homeland I had to learn how to speak two languages."
"Oh? I thought you said the language was somewhat similar all across the dusklands?"
"Hmm, yes, but also no. They are similar if we compare to all the diversity we have down here. But, err, its still different, words change a lot, and the pronunciation really goes all over the place. For example, in the central tribes, my name would be Gjungjih, to just prolong the vowel like I do is seen as, well, idiotic."
"Wow, that is harsh."
"I bet you know a lot of languages, Uriko."
The woman shook her head. "Nope, I guess you are right about taking the easy path if it's available. I learned to gesture well and I learn the basics of each place, actually, I think in the harbors I just picked up on the shared lingua franca of the north coast and the south coast. Ah! There is this one language I learned in the empire."
"Oh? The imperial language? You rarely ever tell me anything about that place, but I imagine it must be quite elegant."
She stopped and stared him deep in the eyes. "e xe xe qu zɘ'ʉch jɤv hühuʀɶ e lʉ ʘornäwöxe xɶ qu so ɵlis edeʀɶ"
"... What.. Uhm, that sounds complex."
"Its a pain in the ass, if I am to be honest. You don't have enough years in your life to learn high lifprasilian."
"Wait, give me a simpler word, not a phrase."
"Uh, do I need to click too or is that just a thing you do?"
"Let's try something, how about the word for thieves of small metallic objects that are not coins. 'ɐ'.
"Nope, that is a verb for providing. It's ɐ'"
"High lifprasilian does not allow room for accent, you need to get this exact sound, ɐ, not a, ä, ɑ, ə or anything else, as they are considered other vowels entirely." she smirked. "Also, get the tone right."
"T-tone? How does that even work."
"It's like the difference between 'she called' to 'she called?' but of course, not nearly as simple."
"I see. Uhm. I think I will never visit Alefpria."
04 FE - Alefpria.
Return, go to the office, be bowed to, prosit prosit prosit, morning sky, sun at its height, orange sky, no reports. Go to the marshall, establish a mental link with the cosmic knight, receive promises of better work done next time, wait for no reports the next day.
"At least I finished the book while waiting" an extensive report on the marine life of the three great oceans. She never knew when another god would explode half the world, so she did not want to wait and leave the next generations wondering about the past, as clearly it was not something most beings around her cared.
Of course, Susa being Susa, the thing read like a hunting guide on everything from goldfishes to the eurypterid to all sorts of jvanic horrors of the deep. Speaking of the later, it was thankful she had Chroma to help, she liked to dive in the water, but one thing was diving in the Metatic, and another was diving in the Fractal Sea, even a being like her felt insecure. Chroma could also create gills and flippers, something she couldn't. "How nice would it be, to swim deep and fly high without any aid."
Manuscript in hand, she walked up the halls. One could cut the tension in the air with a knife whenever she did this, and she wished she could do that. Despite the glares, she walked to Lifprasil's chamber, as she was allowed to, and entered.
"I finished the book on marine life, I think it could be quite useful for everyone involved. The royal scribes won't take my work without your approval, I also would love your opinion on it, I am very new to this whole writing thing, but I am liking it, feels like teaching people again."
The emperor made a signal with his hand, to place the book on the table, he did not even turn to meet her eyes.
"Right... I will just... uhm, put this along with the last three manuscripts I tried giving you before." the book raised a cloud of dust when placed over the other ignored work.
04 FE - Yangadah, Western Wildlands, Mesathalassa.
Junjii washed his face and for a long moment, he looked into the lake. Words echoed in his mind, of his mission, of his future and of everything he had learned so far. "A proper plan has your next life in mind." was not just a saying to the many of the people who lived under the shadows, it was a philosophy. That was the reasoning behind sending people like him down south, but the reason proper was not so clear. Should they sabotage possible enemies? Should they get into high ranks and wait? Should they report learnings back? Should they help to enabled diplomacy? It was not so easy, most of his clan still didn't grasp that what they were doing was different from the long dances they had with enemy clans.
He wondered about it himself. There was a lot of doubt in the air, with such vague objectives and the social tension in the clans he doubted anything would be accomplished. Sometimes he wished to just give up and live life normally down south, but he never felt at home.
Despite his doubts, the day continued all the same. They were in Yangadah, one of the lively Innkeeps that acted as the meeting points of the wandering tribes. He walked past the wooden palisade, facing the long house and the many smaller houses that offered shelter to travelers and searched for a calm spot to work on wood carving. He found it behind one of the homes, a small garden of beautiful flowers and fluttering butterflies. He was making a traveling stick, it was not merely a tool to help one walk, but was also seen as a charm of good luck and safety on travels.
For the magical aspect of it to work though, he had to carve some traveler code on it. Traveler code was the language of the wanderers and shamans, each symbol represented a location, animal, or situation of the area. One could find the symbols on trees and rocks all across Mesathalassa, way beyond the western wildlands, but only the shamans and the ones Susa had taught knew how to properly interpret it.
Learning it was the first time Junjii had interacted with the written word, but Hurico had introduced him to far more types of writing. The Innkeeps had something similar to the traveler code, but it was used to classify people too, meanwhile, one of the harbors down the coast had developed a way to write words based on sound, making it so one didn't need to remember something as full of symbols as the traveler code. And that was only speaking of this region, there were many others beyond its reach.
He was almost done carving his staff, beautiful images covered it from top to bottom, all he needed now was a spell. But what to write? The thought kept him stuck in position for a long time, if he were to believe on the culture, he should logically write something to help with forests or jungles, but doing so would make him look pathetic. Writing about mountains, rivers or swamps was logical too, but would that also bring him closer to such locations?
His questioning was brought to a sudden halt when he noticed someone observing him, he did not see when the person approached him in the isolated area, but there it was. After reacting in a way that didn't seem honorable for an ever alert hunter, he got a better look at the person. A woman, she wore many layers of cloth that seemed to be of foreigner origin. There was little skin showing, or so he assumed, he could not even tell if what he saw was skin or not, her face was entirely covered by a veil and something close to a mask.
"Haha, friend, no need to be scared, I just got curious at your craft." the woman said, without moving a bit, just standing there. "It is a very beautiful carving, I have never seen anything quite like this." she reached down and picked the staff.
"It is not ready yet." was the first thing he said, but then he noticed the situation and went to a more direct issue. "And who are you anyway? Most people would find it to be rude to sneak up on others, don't you agree?"
"Oh I agree, I am to blame for sure." continuing to move in an unnatural way, she reached into one of her pockets and threw something towards him. "My name is Vanessa, friend, I am a traveler just like you and your tall she-friend."
Junjii picked the objected she threw, it was an odd disk built from what felt like smooth marble, on the edges of the disk there were little symbols drawn each in a different color, on top it was light blue, then orange, dark blue and back to light blue again, making a full cycle. It had a tear-shaped ruby gem, placed in a way one could turn it around and point towards symbols. "Ah? What is this?"
"A gift!" she clapped her hands, a metallic clink coming from her sleeves, probably from more objects like that. "But onto more important topics. Could you deliver this to your she-friend?" she once again reached, and brought some sort of leather piece with odd symbols on it.
"S-Sure?" he reached for it.
"Ah, great! You are very useful. Also, these spells, you cannot overthink it. Write what you want, not what you need." she said, also returning him the staff she had picked up. "It's very simple, really simple, it's a walking stick, you write where you want it to lead you, you know where you want to be led to, so just write it there."
"Ah... thanks, uh, miss, I will remember that."
"You absolutely should! Now I must go. Goodbye. Good Luck." she spun around and started moving away from where he was, the sound of clinking glass and metal following her as she walked away.
Junjii was left wondering if he had finally met one of the so-called sculptors Hurico had told him about, but it did not feel right, the shape under the cloths seemed to be human. After some more minutes of brooding, he gave up, picked up his things, and walked into the main inn, expecting Hurico to be back already.
And indeed she was, the huntress calmly making a mush out of herbs on a mortar and pestle, quickly turning towards the boy and acknowledging his presence. "Ah, you have made your staff already?"
He stopped and shook his head. "Not really. I can't find the right words to carve on it. Anyway, someone called Vanessa asked me to give you this."
"What an odd name, but sure, give me that." she told in a dismissive manner. Immediately, she started to look at the piece of leather in an odd way, standing up, there were many traveler code symbols, as well as little drawings of flowers she did not understand the significance of.
Without a word, she started to move about while looking at the text. Junjii followed, curious as to what she was doing but without the courage of asking her what it was. She continued walking, taking well-paced turns at certain places such as the water wheel or the tallest tree in the palisaded area. Finally, the huntress stopped in front of a door, vacillated for a moment, then opened the door.
An old man lied was in the small hut, he was on the ground, making an effort even to look up. The boy panicked, but Hurico was wiser, she brought one of her salves to the elder's mouth, waiting for a moment to see how he reacted. "Bring me a bucket of water from the well, quick."
Soon, the boy from the far north would return with the water, the shamaness would give it to the elder in small sips, the process would take a long time, but soon the man started to return to his senses.
After being sat on the bed with the shamaness' help, the man looked at the two. "Thank you... young girl. When I felt the pain, I thought this was my calling."
The huntress did something Junjii did not expect, she looked down, bowing to the man. With her hand, she signaled the boy to do the same. He was confused, but he knew listening to her was the best.
"There is no need for such formalities, it makes me feel terrible to see my savior bowing down to me." the elder told. "Furthermore, what authority does a shaman have if his life was saved by someone of such a lower rank?"
"Great master, there is no..."
"Wait, child, I am done speaking yet." he raised his hand, telling Hurico to stop. "It is a serious issue, if I had died here my grandchild would not be able to inherit my position as the Warden of the West. So there is a need to follow that old tradition, while I would like you to not tell others you saw me without my shamanic garb, I just take this as a greater signal that it is time for me to pass on the mantle."
Junjii was sweating at the words he just heard, a warden? there? with them? The five wardens were the highest authority within the shamanic tradition, at first, he even doubted they existed.
"You are Hurico, right? And the young boy, he is Junjii." the old man took a moment to continue. "Might I ask why you walked into my room? It seems odd, surely it was not at the Innkeep's permission."
"I had a premonition."
"Oh? Is that so? You really are talented, typically we would have you wait a few more years, but I think I am in a position to make an exception. I will give you a mission, that if you do correctly, you make it so you can move up into the inner circle of the tradition."
Both looked up, Hurico perplexed, and the boy amazed. "I need you to convince my successor to come back. Here, let me get something..."
As the elderly man stood up and searched in his belongings, the woman was allowed to look into where the man was before he fell, a bowl full of food had fallen to the floor, even from far away, someone as divine as the Shamaness could catch the foul smell within the bowl. She was impressed the warden of the west was not able to feel it like her, it seemed he was not aware of the attempt made against his life.
"Here, he will recognize this leather belt. Go to Jan. Ask for Krathud"
"I will do so with haste, great master. Might I ask, where you will go to now? Surely not here, after what happened."
"Yes, I will be away for a while, crowded places do terrible things to my health. Meet me back at the Core of Halagan. There I can work both on my succession and on getting you into the inner circle."
05 FE Puperute, Mesathalassa.
Puperute was a city of many colors. It's gardens were very well known in the region, a stark contrast to the rocky lands of the neighboring Grehvew and the dry lands of Tabata. But now, as Seye looked over the horizon, both the blue horizon of the sea and the green horizon of the land, there was so much more white than all else. What the girl saw was not winter, as the only seasons she knew was wet, dry and stormy, but something else.
The flower that changed Puperute at the start was only just a mild choice among the gardening rituals of the town. The small cluster of white was typically just a companion to plants with a similar shape such as the spider lily. Then, one day, and Seye could remember it well, a bird-beaked person, calling himself a... chirper? visited the town. It seemed to be interested in the flowers, but for odd reasons, whenever it bartered for one, it would uproot it, and look angry. Everyone thought it was odd, but the person had a bird beak, so they just assumed it was natural to him.
Then, he got one of the white flowers, and when it was picked up, he seemed to be happy, it had its hands open and its beak up, like a little dance. It said something, sasava? satava? It was incredibly hard to tell because the gods gave the little man a beak instead of proper lips. The little man would look at some drawing he had, it was of a plant much like that one, but it had many thick roots, while that one had just one big one. He did not mind, he left the village happily.
Of course, everyone was very curious what the deal was with the plant, for the next few days everyone would try to discover what it was. We noticed sometimes the root was purple, sometimes it was white, sometimes it was yellow, but we could not find an use for it. Then someone said, 'let's eat it', but it was not a good idea, Seye's mom had told her roots were not good to eat, and Seye's mom was the local priestess, the one who cared for the flower field they planted for the maiden goddess, so she was usually right.
But people ate it anyway, and when they did not die, more people ate it. There was not a lot of the plant, it took two cycles of the pretty moon for a new one to be born. People ate it at different times, and they discovered the right time to let it grow underground before harvesting it.
Then people planted a lot more of the flowers, and even in Seye's home, she was forced to eat the root plant, her mom did not like the idea too much but even she could not deny it added up a lot of flavor to the fish stew she had basically every day. Seye did not like it though, it tasted bitter and was very crunchy.
Next year, and more plants had grown, at this point, everyone who wanted to eat it, had it. They took a while to rot, Seye counted the days on her hand and they typically lasted three hands. Seye's mom had been talking a lot with the king lately, things were not going so well, the king seemed worried. The king's other friend, Kar, didn't seem to share their worry. Seye really liked Kar, he had many boats, and sometimes he'd allow her to sneak in and fish with his family.
More time went by, more plants. Seye's mom continued to talk a lot with the king, a third of the flower gardens were now pure green and white. Kar would never bring Seye to his fishing trips again, in fact, he did not even bring fish anymore, just people.
Many sorts of people would come by, Seye didn't like talking to them because they spoke oddly, but she liked looking at them and at their pretty clothes, she really liked the ones the people with bunny hair had. She also liked this old lady with bright purple eyes, even if she spaced out a lot and talked to herself, she always remembered to bring Seye nice treats and knew exactly what she loved the most, she was the only foreigner Seye's mom liked. Also, more of the little bird people came by, this time they no longer called the plant sasava or satava, but 'carrot'.
Then Kar's ship was no longer the only one going beyond the harbor anymore, many sorts of ships came by. Now Kar was not so happy anymore. The new people brought about many shiny things and all they wanted for it was the flower root. Seye did not understand why her mom was so angry about that...
Though looking up from the hill right now, Seye could understand it a bit, the garden was not so colorful anymore, there was a whole lot of white but not much of anything else, she wondered if the maiden goddess would be mad. She wouldn't be happy if her favorite spot, the hill in which she stood on, was entirely replaced by carrots.
But it brought about many ships from the ocean, with their white sails arriving and leaving every few days or so, today was a day full of ships, far more ships than Seye had ever seen at once. She really loved ships, and she would often watch them all afternoon from her spot on the hill, often she would rest against a big tree in the area and get sleepy...
A sparkle of light went by her face, immediately making her wake up. When she stood up, she was faced with a little person thingy with colorful wings. The two faced each other for a few seconds, then like a lightning, the thing darted away. Seye was never gonna let something like that just ignore her, and even as the person-thingy flew away from her view, she continued to give chase. "Wait!" she tried, but clearly the thing either did not understand her or was terribly rude.
Deep in the woods, she finally started to give up on finding the flying person, the clinking of its wings feeling more like taunting than a hint of where it was. Her mom would be mad at her if she arrived past the sunset and she was tired. But, when she stopped to take a breath, looking down and placing a hand on her worn-out knees, she noticed something on the floor, a little wooden box, carved almost perfectly smooth, except for some weird half-circle with a scratch in the middle. While it was surprising to find that randomly in the woods, the real shock was when she opened it and sound started to come off the box. She would have gasped and let it fall to the floor if the music was not so soothing, if not outright sad, with its faint metallic notes.
The girl stood mesmerized by the device for a long time, when she snapped back to Reality, she noticed how late it already was. Thankfully, it was easy to know the path out of the forest and back into the town, she expected her mom to be mad, but surely if she showed the song box she would change her opinion, in fact, she might even praise Seye. So, with a happy smile and the melancholic sound of the device, the girl went on.
05 FE Jan, Mesathalassa.
The king of Jan, Sbajan, looked over the vast horizon of his city. Jan stood tall on a broken hill, perhaps that was not a good aspect for a harbor kingdom, walking down the cliffs every day was a chore, but it did provide a great view of the region, especially in the shrine grounds, the highest part of the town.
He could see the ships of old sailing the seas, bringing the fish so vital to keep his people fed, but he also saw the fields of the new, felled trees and scars of brown soil all the way down the hill as his people planted something they called "cassava".
This new habit had a great cost to his people, it was a well-known fact that time flowed downward, from the volatile sky down to the ancestral earth, and it seemed that mankind's greed to excavate the soils had figuratively brought back phantoms from the past.
All the sorts of man from the harbor kingdoms did not know how precious their freedom was to them, they did not interact with the elders like Sbajan did in his distant childhood and never heard the tales of slavery and suffering. They did not know true war and true tyranny, they thought the life they lived was the usual and all else was odd, but Sbajan knew best.
His great-grandfather had been the man who kicked the tyrant kings from Igar-Kuri, and the man who founded much of what would become the current model of government in the whole region, from Grehvew to Lacesol. He told his grandfather and his father about the importance of fairness in rulership, of the misery tyrants caused.
From the north, the Eveman, as the wiseman of the south called them, brought more warning tales, the people there had fought off slavers back in the old land, and for a while, the spirit of freedom lived bright on them, they knew honor and that their fellow man was not an animal to be traded. But generations later, those tales seemed to have been forgotten in the north, even if, thankfully, the practices did not return.
Sbajan could see the very work of his ancestors being brought down, he tried his best to keep the balance of the harbor on the farm, but it was hard, the beautiful harmony of his ancestral's work was not possible, the seas were the home of the gods of the free. Still, he made sure the right of a man over his work and his body was kept, not only on his land, but on the lands beyond.
And that is where the sinister town of Mirny entered. Once it was a beautiful place, a mountain temple, but with the spread of metalwork they quickly broke the sacredness of the mountain to search for ore, and they found them in great quantity. It would be typical of the priestess to object that, but the woman who was said to speak for the gods and the maiden goddess was in truth a wicked one. Not only she allowed the miners to work, she claimed ownership of the mountain, and in a moment, the people there were no longer free, working and dying in the mines of the tyrant priestess.
Of course, there were objections, in an ideal world, armies from all kings would march onto Mirny and free it from tyranny, but the real world was not as simple. Jan and Krastas had become rival towns long ago due to the people from that unhonorable town murdering an innocent man of Jan, and while he knew the king of Krastas also shared his hate for the tyrant priestess, he also knew he was petty enough to declare war on Jan should Jan move towards Mirny. And knowing he is such a petty man, Jan could not allow Krastas to start the war with Mirny, or they could easily use that as a move to become the hegemon in the area.
So, while both towns stayed at each other's throat, the tyranny in Mirny took deeper roots and their weaponry trade become more crucial to the region. Sbajan wanted to see it all end, perhaps a war with Krastas was unavoidable, but he feared what the war would bring, not only in terms of dead men but also the sweet temptation of rulership over others, if he died before the war was over, he could see his son being manipulated into enslaving the people of Krastas or Mirny instead of giving them an honorable death.
As such the king lived, wise enough to not turn his back on agriculture and metal weaponry, but with little idea of how to lead his kingdom and people out of the situation surrounding them.
He moved down from the hill and went into his town, walking the pathways on the hill until he found the shaman's house. That fellow was an odd one, most the shamans greatly disliked the harbor towns, but this one had taken residence in it, bringing about many new ideas and inventions to the people.
One of these, his breeding of a certain type of fish, had become a key part of the regional culture, the fish had a colorful scale with a vague shape, by manipulating their population, given a few years, one could make their thick scales show any symbol they wanted. A rare few of the fish were born with completely white scales, by breeding them to the ones with patterns, the offspring would have a perfect copy of that pattern.
By keeping a personal pond of fish and raising a unique pattern, the kings had a way to prove, even to faraway lands, that there was likely sanction to what the messenger was saying. And as the scales became increasingly dry over time, it was easy to tell how long it had been since the king gave the patch to the person or if it was legitimate. With the advent of writing in Kodekzia, further legitimacy was added to the fish scale system.
"Krathud, do you have any fish ripe for being used, I need to send a message to Kodekzia with haste..." Sbajan stopped talking when he noticed his shaman was talking to two people, a young man, and a woman. "Who are they?"
"They are from the tradition, Sbajan. Seems like my presence is requested to deal with some issues deep within the inland jungle."
"That is absurd, you cannot leave now. Our, ahem, 'situation' is critical, and I need your guidance."
The shaman shook his head. "I think my apprentice is ready to take over, Sbajan. It would be a great dishonor to my name to not answer the call. Furthermore, what else do I have to add? I feel like ever since the turtle shell shield I have not helped the city in any way."
"That is absurd Krathud! You helped us greatly, every day, if not inventing new things, you helped to organize the kingdom and to teach our children. At least, will you return to us, once these matters are solved? I fear if it takes too long I might not live to see you back, but everyone else will be happy."
"I..." the shaman stopped, and nodded, no sense in causing more pain to the old king, considering he would never be allowed to return, he wanted to part ways with sweet words. "Yes, I will always be looking after everyone, you have nothing to worry about."
05 FE Western Wildlands, Mesathalassa.
"What the... that is a whole lot of fish!" Junjii could not believe his eyes as Krathud walked back into the camp carrying on his back a net filled with enough fish to feed a whole village and then some, and he hadn't even been out of the camp for too long.
"Its nothing really, when you get to know the rivers and its inhabitants and when you know how to make reliable nets it all seems simple." the man calmly explained. "This should help the village near our camp, a gift is always a good way to introduce ourselves. People up in here only care about hunting land animals, I guess that is why I preferred the harbors so much, even if dealing with kings and politics is an annoyance."
"Haha, Uriko says the same thing. But she says that there are places even worse than the harbors."
"Oh right, I think Hurico mentioned she traveled beyond this land when she was younger? It is odd, she does not appear to be older than 30 cycles. Where is she anyway? She just disappeared."
"She does that from time to time. She is strange, but she knows a lot of things. She also has been helping me with the tradition."
"She seems to be a good shaman for sure, she is also very agile, even for a huntress. I am impressed she isn't of a higher rank, but being a foreigner, I guess she meets some resistance."
"Well, once this is done, she won't be of a low rank anymore. Your grampa has promised to promote her once we bring you there."
"My grandfather did? Well, it is logical. She will already be at the center of the Halagan, it would be awkward if she could not enter it."
"Yeah... I won't be able to go in there..."
"Oh right. You are so young you are not even in the line for the exaltation. You still got a lot of spiritual growth to do until that."
"I wanted to see the wardens..."
"You already saw the warden of the west, did you not?"
"Well... yes. But I wanted to see all five of them."
"Maybe, given the time, you will. You could even become one yourself..."
"I really doubt it. I don't have the natural skill for it... I could not even make a staff properly. That is more of a Hurico thing."
"I agree, Hurico could easily become warden of the north, she reminds me so much of the current one, and both are Hawks."
"Yeah? She is weird too?"
"Ah, no, not in that way. It's just, they both have that tall and aloof look to them, penetrating eyes, all that. Really comes to show how our minds are connected with our guardians."
A few weeks later, the group would arrive at the swamps, stopping at the Innkeep of Ros-Zujau.
"Swamp-Swamp is such a silly name..." the shamaness commented to herself.
"What is that?" Junjii asked, hearing Hurico mumble.
"The name, Ros is an old word for swamp. So we call this the Swamp-Swamp."
This attracted the attention of a man resting against a wall, who eyed the strangers as they walked by.
"Ohh, right. In the north, they don't have a word for swamp, do they?"
"Uhm, my north or shadowy north?"
"Your north, not the duskland. Up in there, w... they have a whole lot of words for a swamp."
"I see, they have one, its usually Kear. It is just not used very often."
Suddenly, the man walked near to them. "It is rare to see young people who know so much about so many regions," he said, and there was a certain accent to his voice. The man was very pale for the regional standard, but not as much as Junjii, he had black eyes and even in his old age his hair still was of a strong black color with just hints of grey. "It has been so long since I last heard someone calling this area Ros. Where did you hear that word?"
"Oh, it is just, something I heard in a village once. I have very good memory so it just stuck with me."
"Ah, I see, so it was no one from your family?"
"I fear not."
"Well, it's fine. You are a good girl for at least paying attention. I see that you two are shamans, right?"
Junjii nodded. "Yeah. And our friend over there too!" the boy pointed towards Krathud, who had been talking with an old friend of his.
The man looked towards where Junjii pointed at, and nodded. "Oh, so it is. If you are stopping here, you three are surely going to the Halagan, right?"
"Are you a shaman too?" Hurico asked, starting to be a bit suspicious.
"Hmmm, I guess so." he sighed. "But I am old and sincerely, it has been such a long time since I last picked up a drum or carved something from wood. Well, I wish luck to you three, if you are to travel to that region it must surely be something very important."
With that, the elder turned around and walked away, as soon as he left her view Hurico hit Junjii on the arm. "Do not give so much information about us like that."
"Ouch, why?" the boy said, placing his hand near where the shamaness hit him.
"Just be cautious."
05 FE Alefpria
Susa walked the halls of the palace, everything felt increasingly lonely over there, if it was not for her travels back home she would have surely gone mad. The battle with Chaos felt pyrrhic now, the victory against Logos was important, but the extended raid against Xerxes had costed them so much. Not only in manpower, but going into the mist... it had effects, three years after the battle, they felt clear.
Everyone around her felt more corrupt, except the great people, the wise ones, like Lakshimi, but she was a minority in the droves of fools, and the fools were suppressing the good people, such as Lakshimi, and her. Her contempt grew each and every day. The elites of Alefpria were soft and unable to answer the challenges properly, all was moved by a cog of divine might carried by Lifprasil, but there were few that truly served the emperor properly like she did. Yes, she did not follow the rules and played around with the imperial orders, but she understood what it was about, she cared for the people and the advancement of mankind, it was obvious she was better than most of those around her.
"Why is there such a hole in the reports regarding the metatic islands?"
"Hole? Where is it, Yunsade Susa?"
"Are you legitimately blind or something? Here, all over it, this information is spotty. As if it is not enough to keep that person alive when the right decision would be to free her neck from the chore of holding her head..."
"Tauga being spared was by the emperor's decision."
"Don't interrupt me, I know who gave the order, Lifprasil is benevolent to a fault. Look, this makes no sense, we are being fed fake information about what is going on over there, most of what is reported seems to be made up information. I bet my boots she is breaking all of the imperial laws."
"Would you like me to launch an investigation, Yunsade?"
"The general won't accept, if there is corruption, anyway, it would have roots in these halls. Still, try it, maybe mask it as scouting. I sent the emperor a request to standardize all of the colonial reports, but as expected, I received no response yet, I will try to push for it later, it would surely reveal if any Xerxenian scum is trying to make this empire the same filthy puddle of decay as their so-called civilization.
The 'assistant' nodded, typically he would have a lot of authority, but Susa was one of the highest ranks of the empire, even if for her it never felt like it. He quickly scurried away, and the huntress was left alone in the room. Staring at her own reflection in the window until it came time to return to Mesathalassa.
05 FE Near the holy land of Halagan
One day away from the sacred caverns, the group was surrounded by a band of hunters, all wearing clothes made from pelts of albino animals. It was amazing how sneakily the group was able to move about, even if their clothes stood out a lot in this winterless land, not even the heroic Hurico was able to notice the group this close to them.
Of course, no one of the trio was worried, they knew the holy land was protect by people such as these and they had been expecting to be approached at any time ever since they first saw a tall stone monolith decorated with many symbols. Though it was definitely intimidating to suddenly wake up to find your camp surrounded from all sides by ghost-like figures. It almost gave the tradition the impression of omniscience and infallibility, which would be more convincing if not for two out of three people in the group having successfully fooled them.
"Hurico, Junjii, and Krathud" The leader of the group announced. "We were expecting you."
Next to her, was clearly a very seasoned shaman, not one of the big names, but his clothes made he seem like someone important. "Krathud and Hurico are free to walk into the divine ground, the elders agreed to it. Junjii, you are still too impure, you may walk until the fourth ring, but there you will stop. There will be a safe camp for you to stay in."
The lead-huntress nodded. "Now that the order is clear, please pack up and be ready to travel as soon as possible"
The group followed the instruction and soon walked deeper into the land. Up close, as they walked away from the swamps and into the highlands, Hurico almost forgot how small the Halagan were compared to the might of the Ironhearts. Tall rock pillars with something that looked like a very early traveler code decorated the rocky land, standing impressively tall, as if made not by human but by greater beings. Only a few of the band of hunters accompanied the group on their climb.
Soon, while walking a cliffside route, the group walked into a small village very well hidden between the rock walls.
"This is as far as you can go, Junjii." one of the hunters told, before pointing towards a wooden gate. "You two, through there."
"Good luck, Krathud, Uriko." the boy said, bowing to them.
"Junjii, this is a very holy place with many priests and sages. Take the chance to answer your doubts, I am sure soon enough you will be able to walk past here."
"Uhm, take care, I will be back soon."
Most of the hunters did not follow the two into the gate, only the lead-huntress.
"Did you visit this land before, Krathud?"
"Of course, a few times, this is your first time right?" he laughed softly. "I hope you enjoy rites. Otherwise..."
The lead-huntress cut him short. "Silence. Only talk if necessary."
Past the gate was a cavern path into the valley, sometimes it would break out of the stone and turn into a cliffside walk, where any misstep felt like it could lead to a fatal dive into the land below. To her side, Hurico could see many drawings, she was impressed that they even seemed to predate human inhabitation of the area, she could definitely see something that felt Hain-like it some of it, new coats of symbols were added by those who came after.
She could not identify the pantheon properly, beyond Slough, the imagery was not so clear, and even for someone who memorized most of the tradition, the walls seemed to be filled with references to unknown gods.
Once again the group wandered from a dark cave into a bright area, but this time, they were not outside, the chamber had an open roof, a strong waterfall flowed from it and many plants grew both hanging in the opening and within the cave. Masked clergy soon walked to the group. With gentle movements, they started to take away whatever the lead-huntress and the two shamans were carrying or wearing. Hurico had not been told this would happen, but she knew even flinching would be seen in a poor light.
A priest walked in front of them, opening a box with three amulets. Each had a leather circle on it with the traveler code equivalent to their status and spiritual name burnt into it. That would be the only thing they wore while they did the next rite, which involved praying and meditating under the heavy water that fell from above.
Hurico could not help but smirk, for someone like her, the water fell like a gentle drizzle, and even with her eyes closed, she could feel the other two struggling under the weight of the waterfall.
That ritual lasted for hours, even the huntress lost count. Once done, the priests opened a gate and offered them a simple tunic as they walked out of the small pond that formed in the center of the cave.
They would continue to walk within cavernous and cliffside paths, each going higher than the last, the difference was that now they walked with bare feet, which was far from comfortable along the rocky paths. Krathud was amazed at how Hurico traversed the path without reacting to the harshness of the floor below.
Finally, they walked into a well guarded artificial room, it was very large and led to a long stone-carved staircase. Around the middle of the stairway, there was a small flat section with a leather tent and a bridge to inner chambers on both sides. The lead-huntress stopped there, walking to the side of the other guards and being given a comfortable pelt cloak. The shamans were given a belt, color-coded on the realm of their spirit guardian, and allowed to proceed.
The staircase ended in a surface temple, which led to an open highland field, the wind raged against the land and the snow made itself present. Now that they were alone, Krathud no longer felt like being as quiet as a corpse.
"I told you so." he giggled quietly.
"I sincerely did not know how advanced the tradition truly was. Nobody told me of this." the huntress confessed, starting to walk out of the small shrine and into the faint path that traversed the fields.
Krathud was not even impressed as Hurico barely reacted to the wind striking her body. What even was that woman. "Impressive no? They say this was all here even before the Hain."
"Well, they say many things." she told in a dismissive tone, though she was a bit perplexed, as they walked into the highlands, more stone pillars towered over them, these ones even bigger than the ones below, when logically it should be the opposite. Here, the stones were all carved with red runes, the origin of the text felt familiar to her, but the grammar did not. It was not used like normal traveler code, for sure.
"Seesh, you are as harsh as this land, lady." Krathud laughed. "But if this is your first time here, I take you have never seen 'it'. I bet that will take a gasp even from someone as serious as you."
"It?" Hurico tilted her head slightly and crossed her arms.
"Wait for it, just above that hill."
So far, most of the open sides of the field they walked through faced the mountains that surrounded the highlands. But after that hill, they had a clear view of the land below, Mesathalassa, extending as far as the eye could see. She could even see the faint light of all the countless villages in the nearby wilderness, and, with her heroic powers, even peek at the lights of a few harbor towns. "Yeah, you got me, wow."
Krathud smiled, and continued his path, from there onward that view would be a constant on the left side of their view. "Doesn't it make you feel small?"
"No... It makes me realize how much of a world there is out there, someone like me should know that already, but it is easy to forget."
Suddenly both stopped, three cloaked figures had jumped from behind the rocks, two to their front, one to their back. "What is this?" Krathud questioned, then he noticed that they all carried obsidian knives. "Bastards, do you want to desecrate this sacred land?"
Hurico took a fighting position, and Krathud looked around seeing if there was anything he could use to defend himself. The figures did not comment a thing, merely slowly approaching them.
Then a screech echoed the sky, and the lone figure behind them screamed, trying to fight off a hawk from his face, but clumsily stepping back until there was no ground to support him anymore, only a long, long fall down below. As the figure fell the hawk flew back to its owner, a tall woman with an aloof look to her, she wore a red garb decorated with copper feathers, and a beaked mask covered her face. Typically a falconer would use a leather glove, but the bird landed on the woman's bare arm and didn't seem to hurt her in the slightest.
Krathud and Hurico looked up towards the figure in amazement, the warden of the north. One of the figures tried to rush towards Krathud while the other was stuck in place, like prey in front of a predator. Thankfully, Hurico was far faster than the assassin could dream to be, punching the person into the ground before it was anywhere near the reach of the warden-to-be.
The warden of the north looked at the one who stood still, she made a sign, raising her finger and pointing it down. The man understood that as she saying he should let go of his weapon, he rose his knife in response, but that was not what the woman was signaling, when she rose up her finger, a strong wind traversed the highland with a clear destination, a wind djinn under the warden's command, the man barely had a moment to react before he was taken off the ground and launched into the air by the sentient gust.
"Seems like the other two are gone, glad I got this one, not the warden." Hurico commented to Krathud. "We can get some answers from this one, discover who sent them"
The warden calmly walked towards the two shamans, she had yet to speak a single word, but it was clear she was analyzing if they were fine with the movement of her head. "To fight with your bare hands like that... seems like we now allow any undeveloped soul into the sacred land," she told in a harsh tone. "You greatly disappoint me, Krathud. I expected nothing of the woman, but you are of a higher breed than that."
She then reached down, picked up the man by his collar, and without warning, threw him off the cliff to meet the same end as the other two. Hurico's eyes went wide, she clenched her fist and was ready to discuss, but she knew better, not even staring at the woman to not show her contempt.
"You are wise in your silence." the warden told. "I hope you understand why I needed to that, if you do not, I might have to ask you to leave before I am forced to do the same to you. This land is only for those developed enough to understand the tradition."
The shamaness nodded, "I understand."
"Or so you say." the warden turned around. "The sacred cavern is near, and whether I agree with it or not, we wait for you."
Oh hey, look, it only took me almost one whole year to put that Elementist idea into action >_>
This is a small little post, meant originally to accompany the final Makeda story, but I have been more interested in working on my mesathalassa post recently and it felt bad keeping this at the post fridge.
--It follows a young woman, first name Kadja Topami (its a double name, like Kate Lee, Divinus ain't ready yet for a full dusklander name) --She was always a sickly child, not strong, not smart, kids mocked her and bullied her. --One day, her papa struck gold and got hold of a gem mine, people started to try to gain her favor, beat up the bullies. --Kadja takes that talk of "If you fight back the bully, you are proving him right" in a bit of a twisted manner. --Just when she thought her life was getting good, boom, she gets the elemental plage, starts coughing sand. --As it is typical in the duskland, her answer to that is to isolate herself from the village and wait for her gruesome death. --One day, some teens decide to raid her tent, she wouldn't care, but they took the one thing she doesn't want to lose. --She follows the teens, gets in a fight, she is thin, sickly and has no idea of how to fight, she flails her arm around and hit one of the teens. Splish-splash goes the kid's inner organs.
There were few human things that were truly old in the face of Galbar. Outside of those who tamed the horses and deserts that the others races had neglected, most humans still clung to the flotsam of antediluvian and arconian culture or to some blessed tyrant. In the seashores of the Metatic, you can barely find a village with a native elder population, instead, grandsons and granddaughters hear from their grandparents tales of how they escaped the advancing seas, the chaotic hordes, the fires from the sky, among so many other catastrophes.
As such, there was little that truly connected the people across arbitrary regions, provided the absence of the divine. Sometimes, these few connections were logical, sometimes they were peculiar, the isolation habit that happened in the marshes under the dusk was the later.
Life was hard in the shadowy land, yet, a good many of the tribes that survived in it were not harsh to its people, having no issues with the old, the orphaned, the sick. Even so, at the sight of sickness, wounds, depression, a great many took the choice to move to the outskirts of the tribes and villages, avoiding contact with others and hiding their situation. The logic of it ranged from avoiding the shame of showing personal weakness in a society that valued excellence, to a more unhealthy selflessness of not wanting to consume the tribe's resources and time if they could not provide something back.
In the north, past the Dzanyar river, on the shores of the Dzamiri, a young woman by the name of Kadja Topami followed this odd ancestral habit. She had sand in her hand, it was bright beige with a hint of red, unlike the greyish sand under her feet.
Nyarmunru, she could remember the priest and travelers saying, their tales had scared her as a child, she could still remember the details of each one vividly. People burning to ashes even when under the water. Eyes and tongues turning into stone. Limbs swelling with water. Flesh evaporating into a scarlet mist. It was truly the greatest plague.
And now she had it, and hers seemed to be the cruelest one in the face of Gjalle-, because the sickness did not spread through her body and deliver a fatal blow like it typically would, instead, it provided her with a whole year worth of suffering. Every day she felt like she had a thousand blades in her throat and every week she had to manually remove sharp rocks that formed randomly on her skin, it had been months since she last ate any food as it made her ill and caused her to vomit.
She just wished for it all to be over already, so she would stop worrying her family and the pain would be gone. That is a feeling she had for a long while, even before the plague, she was always sickly, and always showcased a lack of cleverness and vigor. Weak child, chuchirikiri, the elders said. The fellow children would delight in calling her Chuche, that is, until her family found new wealth as miners and the people trying to gain her favor outnumbered and outpowered the bullies.
Those memories brought a soft smile to her face, there was such a delicious irony in the people who were mean to her because they saw themselves as physically superior being beaten by those stronger than them. None ever dared to speak of the logic of might after that, some even said sorry, but Kadja thought they were wrong, they were right.
It was too bad, that despite her change from a weak child to a more confident woman, she would never get to enjoy the life as one of the elites of her clan. One year ago, she counted the days until she would get married and enjoy a lifestyle of silk, honey, and servants, now, Kadja counted each day she stayed alive.
The light of the day turned silver as the sun had set, in the dusklands, that was one of the most meaningful change from day to night. As Julkofyr's darkness was not natural, it reacted oddly to the world around it, days had dark grey skies and light similar to an overcast day, but during the night, the light of the ring, two particular stars, Lluna- and Hufangje-, and of all the moons, Mepodzanyi, Edzudzanyi, Rutoidzanyi, Dyalludzanyi, Jofumidzanyi and even the black moon, the redundantly named Dzanyadzanyi, could be seen clearly.
The change in time caught the sick woman by surprise, she had barely noticed the day going by, in a sense, that was good, the long days she spent alone were the worse. Sometimes, when she felt well, she visited her family and pretended all was fine, she knew her father would try to help her if he knew of her situation, it did not matter if she was his third daughter, he always spoiled every single child. Though it had already been two months since her last visit, at this point there was no way she would find a good excuse.
With these thoughts in mind, Kadja Topami walked back to the small tent she had built, thankfully sleep did not elude her, in fact, she had started to sleep far more since the sickness started, sometimes for almost entire days. When she entered it, however, she found a surprising scene, two teenagers were rummaging through her belongings. She would be past the point of caring, if they had not been too greedy, if they had limited themselves only to the shiniest of jewelry and had not picked up a small amber amulet too.
For a moment, their faces met. Seeing the thin woman, who was too pale even for the duskland standard, they smirked and started to run away without a worry of being caught.
Kadja Topami followed right behind, she felt heavy and sluggish, her feet sank down in the mud of the bog and it was hard to free it again. In frustration, she threw a rock at the duo that had robbed her, and the shot was true, somehow, knocking one of the kids face first into the bog. The other kid stopped and went to help his friend. The woman was slowly catching up.
She tried to reach for her amulet, but the teen swung his hand towards her, hitting her face. It did not hurt, but it provoked her, she knew she was no match to fight the two kids, but she was past the point of caring. She rose her hand and tried to hit one of the boys, the result was far from what she expected, it was like hitting the surface of water, a little bit of resistance and a splash, except this one was of a dark scarlet color.
>Could it be imagined as the paper on which the Codex is written? Paper is a lot like fabric. Right? Right??
>As for its consciousness, I don't believe it's all in people's heads - the consciousness of the Fabric has been long-established.
Every single line you people say just make Ilunabar stronger. Soon, she will be unstoppable and all will tremble in face of her true neutral passive indulgence. The very fabric of reality will be made into a fashionable poncho. It was too late before it even began.
For realzies though, on that first one, I have always been kinda playing on that, since the Codex is said to be a parchment, which is pretty much fabric, which ties to the Dreamweaver, especially after it became a massive pipe organ - sewing machine. I outright described it as pulling strings in the fabric of all-stuff, which has always been quite literal in my posts, with outright noises of strings being pulled, but could also be seen in a metaphorical way since she is the goddess of aggressive marketing and could be making true to that old thing she once said to Vowzra about "What happens when the universe itself, from the largest galaxy clusters to the smallest bit of quantum foam, decides to tell a lie?"
Answer was apparently mosquitoes and lactose tolerance.