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Azaris


How had it found her?

Azaris paced through the void. Had she not hidden well enough? She had covered her tracks as well as always, the only exception being her beach home, which the lifeblood had never dared touch anyway. Or maybe it had eyes there too? The probable truth, as much as it pained her to admit, was that the lifeblood had always known where she was. It was omnipresent and omniscient, and that Azaris had hoped to avoid scrutiny with tricks like invisibility and silence made her feel idiotic in hindsight. But self pity never helped anybody. It was time to live in the here and now, if here and now turned out to be relevant concepts in this empty hellhole.

She took in her surroundings. There were none. A little unnerving, for sure, but nothing she couldn’t spruce up. Closing her eyes and waving her hand, she began to sculpt a crystalline purple tower. For a first try, it looked quite pretty, and it’s color scheme meshed quite aesthetically with the cold void it inhabited. A few more for good measure. It was like a city without the people, that is to say, a much more pleasant city. Taking a seat in her purple chair in her purple castle in her cozy infinite blackness, Azaris took some time to think, and it did not take much thinking at all for her to realize something.

This sucked.

Isolation was fine when self imposed, enjoyable actually. She had front row seats to all the interesting goings on of Galbar, she could retreat to her beach whenever she desired, and she was fully capable of rearranging people’s objects on a whim for shits and giggles. On Galbar she was unnoticed, and content. But here she was unconnected. Just because she didn’t want to reveal herself to those who could seek to hurt her didn’t mean that she didn’t care about them. Maybe it was a tad overzealous for her not to try to talk to any of those that she saw. Probably not Klaar, definitely not Yamat, but Gibbou or Cadien or Iternis all seemed good enough company, and as long as she engaged them in her domain form on her terms, there would have been little harm possible for them to do. Azaris sighed. More than anything, she wanted influence. She wanted to take action and watch those around her scramble to make sense of its effects. But she was the only one here, and unfortunately she usually knew what she was doing.

Maybe she should contact Naaro. It would be wrong of her to leave her hero on earth with a promise of protection when her power was limited as it was. She was supposed to have a sort of mental link with him. It was time to test it out.

Naaro?

Wha- Azaris??

His reaction was as instantaneous as it was terrified. Understandable, considering that one, she had never taken the time to contact him after their initial encounter and two, she had given off the implication that she should not be disturbed. No matter. Circumstances change, and she no longer had anything better to do.

The one and only.

Do you require anything of me?

No, actually, I’m just checking in. How long has it been?

I suppose it has been quite a while since we’ve spok-

Naaro when I ask you how long it’s been I mean tell me how long it’s been, I legitimately have no idea.

Oh. It’s been around… seven years now? Yes.

Ah, not that bad then. How have you been?

...Not that I don’t want to talk to you, but I thought you said being bored was not a good reason for contact?

Naaro, this is different. I’m bored.

Ah.

So what have you been up to?

I left the cabin after a few months, and encountered some lighter skinned Alminaki. Humans, apparently. For reasons I still have yet to completely understand, the entire damn forest has been at war. Chief against chieftain against some man in a tree who called himself the Arbor King. He didn’t last very long. Long story short, I am a freelance assassin. There is good money to be made in war.

Ah. Not the most savory work, but she supposed the nature of the powers she bestowed kind of pushed him into it.

You seem much less… Formal, than our last encounter.

Azaris sensed that Naaro chose this word carefully. After all, it was considered rather rude to call a goddess a stone cold bitch.

Ah yes, speaking through a mental link definitely allows one’s thoughts to flow much smoother than scratching messages. It was not my intention to seem terse.

A lie, She actually quite liked seeming terse. It made her feel mysterious and intimidating, not to be trifled with. But it did not lend itself well to casual conversation, and she did not want to burn the bridge of her singular worshipper.

But yes, assassination is a fine use of your skills. As for me, I fear I may not be able to assist you in future endeavors, for the time being. I find myself stuck.

Stuck?

I have been relegated to a personal section of void. I can no longer access your planet. At present, it seems you are my only link to the universe.

Ah. That sounds… Bad.

I’ll be fine. I can still advise you, but do not count on me to bail you out if you encounter trouble.

I wouldn’t anyway. You owe me nothing of the sort.

Their business had concluded. Azaris could now go back to her seclusion, continue building her towers, do so for what could very well be eternity. But she could not bring herself to ignore her last true connection to the world. Maybe a friend was what she could use right now.

Anyway, have you had any interesting marks in your job?

A few. You remember I said the Arbor King didn’t last long?

Don’t tell me-

Yep. One second his followers were all ready to kill and die for him while he sat up in that oak tree, yelling profanities at the clouds, and the next, poof. This bow really is quite nice.

Azaris couldn’t help but snicker at the imagery; she had chosen her hero well. The conversation continued as she made her way outside the tower, eyes once again confronting the cold and dark expanse.

Hey Naaro, I’m trying to class this place up a bit. What do you think I should make?

How about a rabbit?

Naaro… that’s really fucking stupid.

They’re nice animals. You asked me, that’s my answer.

Fine. I will make one rabbit.

With a swirl of her hand, a fluffy white bunny waddled into existence, looking rather dopey next to the glimmering azure tower. Azaris hadn’t really needed to make it, but Naaro was right. She had asked.

It is rather adorable.

I told you. Nice animals.

Ok. I should really get back to work on this place. The emptiness is starting to be unnerving. I’ll probably end up contacting you again at some point.

With a sigh, Azaris continued construction of her city. It felt a little less horrible, having a connection to the outside world like that. And the rabbit was good company anyhow, even if it was rather confused being picked up by hands it was incapable of seeing. Her conversations with Naaro continued as well. For her, around a day passed between their talks. For him it was closer to fifty years. Through him, Azaris heard cities rise and fall, heroes die just as she learned their names. Naaro in particular seemed to move in and out of different fields of work according to his whims, his powers not exactly lending themselves well to a settled life. They laughed at the other's jokes as they continued on their respective paths. It was… rather nice having someone to confide in. And hearing of the goings on of the world reminded her that Galbar was still out there. existence went on, even if she couldn’t be a part of it. But while the truth could be cushioned, it could not be nullified. Azaris drifted up to her home tower and shoved her head into her hands.

Naaro.

Yes?

I don’t think I’m ever getting out of here. How long has it been?

1500 years.

It’s been 1500 years. And no matter how much of this stupid city I build, none of it changes anything. It’s just more space for me to go insane in. It’s nothing more than a distraction, and a bad one at that.

...Don’t give up hope.

The tone sounded more like a question than a genuine reassurance. It did nothing to soothe her mind.

Can I be honest with you?

Of course.

I’m terrified. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy and pass the time in any way I can but I have no idea if time will even continue to be a relevant concept for my stay here. I can’t do this forever.

It’s just… I was supposed to be safe. Never revealing myself, always covering my tracks, always looking behind me. But none of it ended up mattering in the end. It found me and locked me in here without breaking a sweat. And I will live with that until time itself stops.


Azaris could hear Naaro fumbling for a response. As much as she loved her hero, there were some things that mortals could never understand. True, he did not age. But immortality tended to be a much more concrete concept for gods than heroes. In this sense, she really was alone. Whatever he was saying didn’t matter at this point.

I’m going to go for a little bit.

Not waiting for a response, Azaris ceased the mental link, lay her head on the glittering glass table, and waited. One moment later, her head unceremoniously dropped into a green grass field.



Banishment

On a tiny beach, off a small peninsula, just east of the Weeping Plains, there is a spot where the land moves on its own. It is not every day, or even every week. But the movement always returns.

There are lines in the sand. Many are nothing more than the idle doodles of a creature lost in thought, but many more form letters, which go on to form thoughts and stories and feelings, footsteps circling around each and every piece in a winding lattice. The land here is blank, and there is no wind to erase the works.

There are pictures in the nearby cave. A silent museum of stories both mortal and divine. A mighty troll being felled by a band of humans, the jagged etchings doing well to capture the cutting edge of the spear points. A young goddess screaming at a giant boar, the swine only laughing in response. One is much larger and more detailed than the others, springing to life in vivid color that is absent in the surrounding works. An almaniki, clutching a bow, testing out it’s string in a wooden cabin.

Farthest to the right, a picture of six humans tossing a rope at a lion cub. Only the front end of the cub is drawn, the newly bipedal creature looking as if about to flop flat onto its face as consequence of its lopsided center of balance.

The drawing remains unfinished.

And the land is still once more.


Naaro

Three months.

Naaro had been alone for three months.

And only after three months of wandering through the desert was the exhausted Alminaki desperate enough to return to this place. Jagho had made the terms of his exile very clear, and the memory still rang whenever he dreamed.

His tribespeople were gathered around him, faces grim and unmoving. Two torchbearers illuminated the trial while the rest brandished spears.

“The gods say that your leadership has brought a curse upon this land, Naaro”

Jagho’s words were muffled by the witch doctor’s mask he wore, a hideous and ill-fitting piece of bone haphazardly strapped onto his face. He claimed to wear it as a conduit to the many gods he spoke with: vague, ill defined creatures of ever-changing power and personality whose only defining link was that their desires, more often than not, were also Jagho’s desires. But he was a persuasive one, and as his following grew, Naaro’s grasp on his tribe became more tenuous. Both of them knew this day would come. And both knew that in this moment, Jagho’s mask served only to hide his smile.

“The berries have not sprouted during your tenure, the insects have grown scarce, and the hunts have come up short. It can be no coincidence”

The people that he had once thought of as friends and family murmured in agreement. The famine that had stricken the tribe in the past months had come to be informally known as Naaro’s blight. Around a fifth of the population had perished since its beginning.

"The gods say that execution for this man would be justified. And they are not wrong, for he is the wellspring of our pain. Every week, another of us falls. What we are experiencing is not the cycle of life. It is a curse, unnatural and unholy. It is death."

Jagho turned from his audience to point at the bound Naaro, torchlight dancing across the mask as his speech crescendoed.

"He is death"

"But we do not have to be. For the gods say mercy is a virtue, and his blight will follow him to the wasteland above, where there is nothing for death to take. Chief Naaro, I sentence you to wander the wastes for the remainder of your days. Return and be killed."

"But first, you must be marked, as a warning to any of those who may cross your path. Do not struggle"


Jagho’s pocket knife found scalp and dug in, forming a bloody X on Naaro’s forehead. It went deep enough to ensure that it never fully healed. It burned like nothing else. As if by afterthought, Jagho yanked the ruby pendant off of Naaro’s neck, wasting no time in donning it himself. He raised the gem to Naaro’s forehead, letting the blood drip in as Naaro slipped out of consciousness.

"This will not nearly repay all you have taken from us. But it is something"

When Naaro woke up, he was in the desert.
Three months later, he was here.

The dual beasts of hunger and thirst had clawed away at him, together with the pendant’s magic turning him to a shadow of himself. He knew he would be killed if he returned. But if he did not, then he would simply die. Better at least have a chance.
Sneak into the cave by cover of night.
Get water.
Get food.
Get out.
His plan was hazy and hinged mainly on improvisation, but he had no knowledge of how the tribe had changed in his absence. This was the best he could do.

He creeped through the cave mouth. The water pool was near the back, past the inhabited parts of the cavern. As he inched through the bedroom filled with his snoozing brethren, he let his gaze linger on familiar faces. A former friend. An ex lover. Most of his family, huddled up in the same corner. His little sister was noticeably absent, and the entire tribe looked emaciated. The famine had not stopped. Silently, he cursed Jagho’s name.
Naaro neared the water room. It took all of his will not to sprint. So thirsty.
Finally he entered the large chamber. It was as he remembered. Luminescent flora made the entire room glow, their colors shimmering on the clean blue pool in the center, the sound of the stream that fed it providing pleasant background noise to the spectacle. He walked, spellbound, to the pond, before snapping back around. Footsteps. Voices.

“Yes, from right here. I know what I have heard”

Jagho.

Naaro quickly hid himself in a crack in the limestone as Jagho walked in, trailed by two warriors whom he vaguely recognized. In sharp contrast to the rest of the tribe, Jagho looked strong as ever. Whether this was due to Naaro’s stolen life force, smuggling food while the tribe starved, or both, Naaro did not care. All he knew was his anger. Jagho’s masked visage scanned the wall opposite Naaro’s hiding place. He could escape right now, if he was quick enough. Sharp left. Right back through the bedrooms. Try again another time. But this train of thought was interrupted by a tapping sensation on his bare feet. As he looked to the ground, the limestone moved on it’s own, etching a trail with perfect silence.



Naaro felt something placed in his palm, stress causing him to clutch it with a strangling grip. An arrow, tip made of hardened glass. Sharper than any obsidian he had ever seen. There would be no further hesitation.

Bursting into vision, Naaro lept at Jagho, his rage manifesting in an animalistic screech. One hand tore the divine pendant from Jagho’s collar, reclaiming the life that had been stolen from him. The other drove the mystery arrow deep into his jugular, silencing a terrified yelp within a split second of its beginning. Though Jagho’s face was hidden by his mask, Naaro knew his fear, and it provided a catharsis that knew no equal. The moment was a single fluid motion, nothing short of explosive.

When it ended, Naaro was gone. Both the arrow and Jahgo’s corpse disintegrated into a fine stone dust, scattered along the cave floor. It was as if reality itself had cleaned up the mess, leaving behind nothing but two very shaken Alminaki.

Naaro found himself deposited in a small and tranquil log cabin. He had not really planned to live through his stunt, but his heavy, gasping breaths seemed to indicate that he had anyway. Panicked eyes darted across the room. No danger presented itself. It was disconcerting, being in a place so cozy and relaxing while adrenaline still flowed through his veins. As Naaro’s breathing slowed, His suffocating grip on Tekret’s jewel began to loosen, and his eyes were drawn to the worn wooden wall across the room. In the same manner as the cave floor, it slowly tore away at itself, revealing five scratched letters.

Hello.

Whatever force this was, it seemed helpful. It most likely Saved Naaro’s life. His patience was the least he could offer in return.

“Hello"

Naaro was about to speak further when he was interrupted by another noiseless scratch.

Questions?

Why yes, Naaro actually had quite a few of those.

“What are you?”

A god.

A slight pause before the next word, spelled out slowly and deliberately, special care given to each individual letter.

Azaris.

Naaro walked towards the wall, transfixed by the motions of the writing. A strong sudden jolt pushed his arm aside as if a colossal spring had been unleashed on his wrist. It was the lack of visual or auditory accompaniment, sights or sounds to associate with the feeling, that made it all the more shocking. He let out a startled yelp a second before more letters appeared, hastily scratched on the opposite wall with a pressure that deeply scarred the wood.

DO NOT TOUCH ME.
Next question.


“Why did you help me?”

Had been watching you. Impressed. Masked one peddled fake gods, and was annoying. Now close your eyes, and hold still.

Naaro did as he was told, and within a second he felt a peculiar sensation, like pins and needles over an entire body. He did not know why he was not scared. When he opened his eyes, an ornate bow and quiver was laid out on the floor, the glass tipped arrow from earlier sitting in the dark leather pouch. A gift.

“What did you do to me?”

Figure it out yourself. It will be fun.

Even without voice, Naaro could notice the irritation, that of a parent telling a child to go outside and leave them alone. He decided to restrain his further questions for now. Best just ask the big one.

“What now?”

The text moved to the other wall to avoid running out of space, and Naaro intently watched it form, finding a certain beauty in motions.

For you to decide. I have given you my tools for you to use as you please, because I rather like you. Plenty of game in the forest, if you desire to stay here until ready. Will contact you again if needed, but your life remains yours. Likewise, you may contact me in emergencies.

A brief pause in the scratches.

Being bored is not an emergency.

A curt nod was all Naaro would give to that sentiment.

If there is nothing else?

Whatever final thoughts Naaro had on this encounter could not collect themselves in time; And when it came time to speak the words still had yet to arrive, leaving his jaw hanging open without purpose, content to simply mix his breath with the outside air.

Goodbye.

After four very long seconds, he had found two words.

“Thank you.”

There was no response.







Birth of a God

The lifeblood was bleeding.

A wounded beast, thrashing and struggling to hold itself together as its very being rebelled. Perfection, then tragedy, then ambition and waywardness and then the very cosmos; All had broken away to forge their own path. But the fragmentation was anything but complete. Abstract thoughts and ideas continued to clump together into separate beings, their minds and bodies becoming ever more concrete. The desire for independence growing ever stronger. The chaotic force found itself locked in mortal combat with order, order that would eventually tear it apart piece by piece.

On the sidelines of this grand battle, a being stood still, gazing at the cosmic conflict in front of her, trying to piece together just what exactly had happened. She had only vague memory of her first moments, the isolated impressions and emotions left behind by infancy. In front of her, a pillar of glittering dust attempted to thrust its way out of the lifeblood, pushing with all of its will to escape the divine incubator. The dust struggled, trying to fuse itself into one body, one consciousness, before being yanked back into the churning mass. It was not yet strong enough. The being continued to contemplate. She recalled no such battle. In fact, she did not remember experiencing any resistance at all, as if the lifeblood had not even noticed her leaving. One moment she was merely a cloud of thoughts and ideas, and the next, she was here.

Could it still see her? Retrieve its errant fragment? pull her back into the cosmic whirlpool and rip her into her most base parts? The thought was terrifying. This would not do. The newborn god willed her body to disappear, and she became nothing, protected from that which would harm her. Anxieties melted away. It felt safe. Natural.

There was nothing for her here. She took one last glance at the lifeblood, and flew towards the pale blue dot in the distance.


The Lifeblood

The lifeblood continued to stir. It looked upon its creations so far, that which intermingled and cooperated and competed with those of the primordial gods. Eventually, it found itself focusing its omniscient gaze upon one individual in particular. A large cat, deep within the jungle. Red eyes. Snow-white fur. An albino. Its thin tail swayed idley, looking almost as if it would snap off from its malnourished body if bent at the wrong angle. Tired, half lidded eyes rolled over the forest canopy, scanning to find the food so desperately needed. Its ears perked up as the trees gave an answer. A howling. It crept in the direction to find a troop of monkeys going about their business, rearing their young, gorging themselves on the bounty of the rainforest. Just as her mother had taught, the cat extended her claws, flattened herself against the branch, crept closer to her prey. Alerted the primates with her bleached skin. Heard the lookout screech a warning at the troop. Watched as her food nimbly retreated through the dense foliage, rocketing through the trees at a pace she could never hope to match. Gave up, and collapsed onto her branch. As the lifeblood watched this sad spectacle, it took pity. This animal was a victim of the fates, a mistake of Galbar that would soon be corrected and removed from the gene pool. In the game of life, there would always be losers. But to be cursed from birth in such a way seemed a special kind of cruelty. In an truly uncaring universe, said cruelty would simply be par for the course. the cat would die, few if any would notice, and life would go on.

This was not that universe.

The lifeblood swirled around the lethargic feline like a tornado in miniature, active as it always was, and where it flowed, the cat changed. Its emaciated body became lithe and muscled. Alabaster fur fell off in large clumps. Everything grew until triple the previous size.And skin turned from a sickly and wrinkled shade of pink to a veritable canvas of the jungle, vines and leaves and flowers and bark, all identical to the forest behind it, changing scenery to match as the she moved.
All the while, the cat scrambled and panicked at the unforeseen transformation, thrashed until her ever-increasing weight caused the branch she was sulking on to snap, sending her tumbling through the canopy. She was now quite sure this was what dying was like, and to call it surprising would be an understatement. With a resounding thud she hit ground, and for five minutes she sat there, waiting for whatever curveball existence would throw next. But the lifeblood was gone by now, having done what it came to do. Far from the starving runt she was moments ago, She felt immense power course through her veins, her curse lifted by forces she would never dare to understand. And Life went on. She looked to one particular tree on the horizon, the one that reached into the heavens and then some. She trudged towards it with a purpose and, barely thinking, began to climb. The branches did not even concede to bend under her newfound weight. This would be her home, her own domain to protect. This would be where she would prosper.





V interested, currently making a character with the domain of stealth and portfolio of silence.
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