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Xur’value Mare, East Ouroborasia

Libercon - 300AWH
(collab between myself and Serp)

The East-Ouroborasian Capital

The heraldry of Kasabi island wade deep into the old land of Ouroborasia, a wartorn scape. Long shadowed vales and dark terrain could be seen in each direction. And with the dusk in the sky, Ouroborasia’s shadow seems only more ominous. Swallowing you in the longer you gaze. Ionut, the guide to this land too warns against the notion of looking at the dark patches within the vales for too long.
‘’For the Witch goddess lives here... Beware Her spell.’’
Though their fleet has taken the river trial that should be far removed from the front, and with little chance of stumbling across Justinian guerilla skirmishers, this does not take away the looming and ever-present sense of dread that perpetuates the Ouroborasian east.

At the bow of the ship stands the heir to the Island Empire, Synogchouta, as he has been informed that soon they are to link up with the Emperor’s Imperial Escort, before entering the waters going directly towards the pier of Xur’vale, the capital city and seat of the Emperor and his eastern government. That very city was once home to the Salt Prince himself when he walked Materia in rebellion against the gods.

‘’Hrm. How much have these lands really changed since Yitizer’s days? It was a bleak, regressive dunghill then, and it is a bleak, regressive cesspit now. O what nuance.’’
Synogchouta mutters to his uncle’s henchman, Bacanoc, who can only raise his shoulders at the very expected pessimism of his superior.

‘’It’s a little bit less of a warzone this year. The fighting is mostly concentrated in pockets to the west, as far I have heard the reports go. Though the fighting that does happen… Well, humanity itself is being lost over there.’’

‘’Ah! Look there! Xur is in sight!’’ Firstmate Tokko exclaims from the helm.

Everyone looks. A city of sharp spires stabbing into the early morning skyline, ominous shadows cast from the great towers across the hill-side city and downward, over the shadowed valley that the river they glide over cuts through.

‘’That is good news! I trust you’ve not developed sea-sickness throughout this long venture, Principe? It is your first time of traveling overwater for days on end, after all.’’ Bacanoc says with a restrained smirk, hoping he did not come across as passive-aggressive, or in any way rubbing him the wrong way. Which he did.
‘’You dare mock me?’’
‘’There there, I was only kidding, Principe.’’

As the Kasabioi ships approached, the early morning mists drifting with them over the river's surface receded… to be replaced by a yet even thicker, more poignant fog, one that clearly should not be. Hailing from lands similarly plagued by Red Pantheonist sorcery, the Uudhinite envoy could quickly tell it was magic, as the ever-so-slightly purple tinge of the fog gives away its theurgic origins. The Witch’s Miasma.

The Witch’s Miasma obscured most of what should be the docks and lower city, leaving the illusion of only a city of spires and high towers poking out from the fog below.

Only when they were dangerously close could the ship’s crew see the docks. Long platforms of wood reaching over the water, vague shapes of other ships idle besides them, bobbing slowly to the flowing river. Despite its obvious danger, it was not the fog that worried the crew, no, it was the ominous shadow of human-shaped figures. Dozens upon dozens of them, all aligned neatly in row, standing side by side on the wooden platform and stoney river-wall.

Even as the ship aligned closely to the platform, the shadowy figures did not moved. They stood almost completely still, only their faintly glowing pupils in their eyes gradually moved with the slowing ship.

When the ship finally stopped, the shadows in complete and unnatural unison stepped forward. The shadows revealed knights in blackened armour and visors covering faces obscured in total darkness - that is besides the glowing pupils. Among the shadows were courtly men and women dressed in finery, their faces and bodies locked into unnatural military attention.

Behind them even, a less organised mob of shadows had stepped forward in unnatural unison. Large men that were previously carrying cargo. Women with fish-seller smogs. Small children that were just before playing by the dockside. They too had their bodies and faces locked into unnatural attention - though their eyes darted about madly in fear and confusion.

The Principe beholds the Ouroborasians that assembled at the pier, and is visibly unsettled by them. Instinctively he withdrew behind Bacanoc’s broad posture. Then under his breath he speaks to him in Edukar, seeing the ancient language as a sanctuary against unwanted ears. ‘’...What is with these masses? Is this normal on the continent?’’
‘’I do not know, sir. I’ve never been in the capital. Nor have I been part of such a regal procession.’’ Even he was disturbed by the ominous atmosphere that has come to embrace them since entering this hallowed domain.

Tokko is less disturbed and continues with the matters of the day. ‘’Ship to port! Prepare to unload! We have reached destination!’’

''Welcome good Prince to-'' The frozen lines of onlookers spoke together, all monotone, speaking as if in trance. Rather than finish their sentence, they suddenly held their tongues, returning to neutral expressionlessness.

Distant voices could be heard, a shrill cry of an old, tired man, followed by a woman's laugh.

''Ah, very good'' The crowd spoke, again in monotone though with strange forced smiles. ''The little Prince is finally here. It is good to finally meet my dear Cassi’s Kasaiboian sailor.''

As the voices fell silent again and their faces returned to expressionless stares, a distant and deliberately slow clap could be heard as a feminine figure walked across the wooden platform to the docked ship. The condescendingly slow clap drew closer and eventually faded as a raven haired woman in a flowing black dress approached the ship, followed slowly by a resigned looking man in finery... and what appeared to be two Uudhinite Ghouls.

The Kasabioi flag ship's gangway is lowered towards the pier of Xur’vale. The Metropolitan’s honour guard with their exotic embroidery draping from beneath their platemail, and long plumed helmets, are first on the pier to ward off the droves of potential rabble. Though, unbeknownst to them none of the townsfolk seem to act out of line as though their minds are dulled to submission. They can only guess what witchcraft is at work. Yet all the same, it seems a ceremonial purpose that they uphold their sentry. They are followed by the Doux, descending from the ship to greet formally the Imperial escort. He is also the most fluent speaker of Ouroborasian amongst them.

‘’Ah. It is good indeed to return to dry land.
I am Doux Litayyan Miamai. Now; who do I have the pleasure of addressing?’’
He looks towards the woman in black, correctly assuming her to be the orchestrator of this sinister welcome. He lifts his flamboyant hat and proceeds to make a deep bow.

Meanwhile Chouta, very hesitant to get off the ship, is caught off guard by the two Ghouls. ‘’Ghouls… What dark curse has been laid on this day. The one thing I thought to be indigenous only to Uudhin. The one thing I had hoped to not stumble upon. Have the Ouroborasians harnessed their loyalty?’’

''You may know me as the Witch, Ceremenei''.
The raven haired woman curtseyed briefly, before standing and bringing an armoured pointer finger to her chin, stroking it slowly. ‘’Which of you fine sailors is the young Synogchouta?’’
The Doux snorts, containing his disdain as he fakes another smile.
‘’The Principe, you mean? Ah, you will see him shortly, my lady.’’ He beckons to one of the plumed guards positioned nigh him. ‘’Find the Principe, will you?’’

Meanwhile Bacanoc smirks again. ‘’It seems this hag is your princess’ mother. Hrm. Good luck, Principe. Be strong.’’ He glances over his shoulder to a shaken Principe.
‘’Must I?’’ He sighs, struggling to regain his composure as he stiffens every muscle and fibre of his body. Sticking forth his chest to appear tall and confident, he marches down the bow and towards the open gangway.
He is a young man in a stuffed embellished cloak and a black tunic, a silver bejewelled ring on each of his fingers, and a regal albeit plain diadem on his forehead. This attire paired with his stiffened sinewy physique is how Synogchouta appears before the Witch, followed closely by Bacanoc to watch his back.
‘’I am here, lady…
I have come to your lands to uphold the bargain made with my uncle, the Metropolitan Baltaogliac of Daveithai, Despot of the isle of Kasabi.’’
The Principe exclaims defiantly to his mother-in-law-to-be, trying his best to hide his fear under a layer of swagger and toughtalk.
‘’So may I presume to-..uh. Presume.. that you are the Princesses’ mother? Of the Witch named Ceremenei, I have otherwise not been briefed.’’

‘’Oh yesss, My dear Cassi I am sure will tell you all about me. I do apologize for interrupting this fine procession, I am sure Illija could have handled it, but I just had to know which sailor you were. I am sure Cassiopeia will be glad to know how strong you are.’’

‘’I am no---..’’

Completely ignoring any attempt by Synogchouta to respond, the witch turned around and without even saying goodbye walked back towards the stone dockside.

‘’Ilija dear, go help the boy’’ The witch said in passing and back turned to Chouta, referring to the tired man in finery who was apparently walking in a strange hunched position. The man quite visibly groaned in response. Without a second thought, the witch snapped her fingers, and suddenly his body was propelled forward, his legs out straight and angled in front of his body, as if pulling the rest of his body forward as his feet slid and scraped across the wood.

As the other ships comprising the Kasabioi fleet enter the harbour, the Kasabioi on the pier, not least the Principe himself, are mute by the alien spectacle they bear witness to. Out of fear of offending the Lady Witch, they can merely watch, and cautiously wait on their turn to make a move to the Palace.
The Doux is the first to speak.
‘’Pardon me -- we have come for an audience with the Emperor. Could you be so kind to show the way through the magnificent city of Xur?’’

The man the witch called Illija, still recovering from having his body hijacked and magically dragged across the platform, cursed lightly between heavy breaths. The Doux was almost certain he heard ‘damn fucking witch’ from the man as he agonisingly stood up straight.

A few moments of uncomfortable silence, and suddenly the wispy mustache and goatee adorned, finery-wearing man took a regal, solemn stance and expression - as if nothing improper had happened at all.

‘’I, Illija Cvijić the Imperial Herald of his Majesty, Emperor Vasilius the First of the noble House of Dragcumir and sole and rightful ruler of the Empire of Ouroborasia, do hereby welcome our most distinguished guests to the sovereign borders of his emperor’s domain.’’ The herald bowed to Synogchouta, who is stunned to silence standing behind Litayyan, who promptly steps out of the way way that the crowd of onlookers may observe Princess Cassiopeia’s betrothed. As the herald bowed, so too did the rows of knights and servants. The crowd of fishermen, sailors and other dockworkers did not, now free from the witches whimsical control, instead looking around in confusion yet frozen and silent with fear.

“If the honoured guests would please follow, I will lead the way to the coaches...”
‘’That would be appreciated.’’ The Doux now smiles sincerely, looking towards the Principe reassuringly. ‘’Come now, lord Daveithai. This is only a warm-up to Ouroborasia.’’

The herald once off the platform seemed to become more cautious again, clearly hiding nerves and anxiety. He gestured towards the waiting carriage, painted, gilded carved in royal extravagance. Immediately besides the coach was a purple palanquin, gilded rods and silk covered in occult symbols, only then being lifted by the two ghouls.
The Metropolitan’s retinue and guardsmen follow, marching in ranks 2 wide and 10 deep, carrying ornamental scythes over their shoulders to accompany the carriages. Particularly the first one, which was reserved exclusively for the Principe. The Doux and other prominent Kasabioi from the Metropolitan fleet were escorted towards an array of other carriage coaches close behind, while a number of shipmen and guardsmen walk on foot besides them from both left and right. The procession soon takes off, heading through narrow lantern-lit streets with rows of small houses carved from smooth monolithic stone, flanking steep path and stairways heading up and further up, towards the Imperial residence at the highest point of the City. The spires of the Palace up on high loom far over the city and into the murky skies, lurid...

Castle Xur

the Amaranthine Hall, Seat of the Emperor

The throne room, usually filled with light bouncing off the white walls and gilded lining was now dark, save for the slight flickering of unnatural purple light coming from a few torches. The throne sat empty - a grotesque chair with the likeness of monsters, human faces and dragons built into it. Margraf Ostorius Raceanur though knew, the Palace at Xur’value Mare had always been macabre even before the civil war.

Much like himself. Much like everyone in this room and everyone and everything in Ouroborasia too in fact.

He had only just arrived into the throne room and immediately approached the assembled group of men murmuring in the corner of the throne room, the only living beings in this room, the rest of the vast space empty of any audience or crowd. His shadow, that annoying servitor woman finally had disappeared - even that inhuman Turquoise thing would not interrupt this.

As Raceanur stopped walking and stood at attention, the other men’s voices went silent, and they all turned to face him. Some he respected, old soldiers and veterans like himself, weary and weathered down by decades of war with Eudaz, Lamash and now themselves. Some he despised, like that bastard Cosmin, the emperor’s younger brother that was already sneering at him. Others he did not even know why in Ashmedairus were here. That flamboyant Kasabioi admiral for example. By Justinian he annoyed him.

The emperor however, was also present. The man looked older by the day, even though he was only in his fifties, the man looked somehow older than himself. He was also the man Raceanur had sworn allegiance to and served so dutifully for so many years, so he knew even in the presence of these degenerates and madmen, he would be respectful.

He bowed.

“Hail majesty, I have returned from the front bearing word”. He spoke with as strong and clear voice as he could - though it still came out as a dry, and raspy drowl. His old and greasy dark hair obscured his deep wrinkles and scars, his great beard obscured his thin permanently etched frown. All the men knew; even those who despised the old marshal in turn, that this man was the very heart of the Imperial Army of the East.

“Rise, Margraf and speak” The Emperor said.

“Your majesty, it is as the witch said“ Ostorius replied, hesitant to confirm the predictions of that woman. “The Ghouls of Uudhin have made to take the coast of West Ouroborasia. Their advance had been curbed at Iviragne, yet as I speak, they assault the communes in the area east of there.''

“And the result of this, what is your counsel in how this will affect my empire’s west?”

“Your majesty, I am of the opinion that the Ghouls care not for your legal rule or the sanctity of our lands. The lands lost will be made barren, either by the Ghouls or by the fleeing Istvanites”.

“So then the land they take is lost to us?”

“Yes, for now your majesty.” Ostorius told his liege with a degree of resignation and frustration. For Ostorius had always despised the Yitizite Ghouls, and throughout his long career had not only crusaded against Eudaz and Gushawar, but also defended Ouroborasia from Uudhin. It caused Ostorius great and terrible resentment, knowing that the Ghoulish monsters were invading and he could do nothing to stop them, for they were now his ‘allies’.

By the clearly solemn frown and darkened eyes from the emperor, it was clear that the emperor too felt this.

“If those lands should be lost, then so be it. I would be correct to assume that the Ghoulish host will divide the Istvanites attention?”

“Yes your majesty, their numbers are believed in the hundreds of thousands. Though they are stalled after a great battle at Iviragne, it is my opinion, and one I believe you share, that now is the time to strike. The west cannot possibly mobilise its whole army against us when it is being attacked by such a large and destructive force from the south. The ghouls will not merely occupy land but actively destroy it and the people. The Istanvites will have to respond - and so comes our opportunity to destroy them when they are divided.”
“Then make it so. Margraf Raceanur, I order you to rally my armies to seize my Empire”.

As soon as the Emperor gave Raceanur the order, he bowed again before turning to walk away. Raceanur knew that this meeting had a larger purpose than merely him reporting what the witch had already said, but he had no desire to attend the first meeting of Cosmin’s son-in-law to be.

“And Raceanur.” The Emperor said, drawing his attention as he slowed his walk away. “I will soon follow, it would only be proper that Istvan be reminded of what he really is”.

Raceanur nodded and walked on, glad that the emperor knew he wished to leave before the ‘pleasantries’ begun and allowed him to do so. Upon Raceanur opening the door to leave, the palace herald approached to open the door from the other side.

As Raceanur walked out, he briefly glanced towards the Kasabioi delegation, and who he assumed to be their prince standing in the centre, cloaked and regally embellished.

He looked like a runt.

Raceanur continued, walking down the hall. When he heard the herald declare the runt’s arrival to the palace, Raceanur could only be thankful he avoided more of Cosmin’s politicking.

''Your majesty, the Prince of Kasabi Republic, Synogchouta Daveithai, has arrived'' The Imperial Herald Cvijić declared as he performed a deep bow.

There was a moment of silence.

‘’Bring him in’’. Spoke the Emperor, a deep and tired voice of an old man.

The Palace guards gestured to the Principe to enter the Amaranthine Hall, as they cleared from the carpet leading towards the throne. Synogchouta had to walk in the front of his retinue that the Ouroborasian Emperor may distinguish him. He could, sadly, no longer hide behind his henchman. Taking a deep breath, he trod into the Hall as all eyes were fixed on him. Synogchouta stiffened and stared blankly towards the end of the carpet where the throne was. His face was locked in an unamused frown to maintain a semblance of stoicism and integrity. Though actually it was to hide his anxiety… He was certainly not used being placed in a situation as dire as this. An audience with one of the key players of Materia’s global theatre. Chouta knew and remembered full well that the Emperor is the most powerful Red Pantheonist ruler of our time -- save from only the Gods themselves.

The Principe wanted to speak, but by a lump in his throat he could not. All the while the Emperor was awaiting a response from his foreign guests. As though reading the atmosphere, it was the Doux’s voice to ring through the stone fundaments first -- it was directed at a clerk at the entrance -- loud enough for everyone in the Emperor’s olden hall to overhear.
‘’My compliments to the fair lady Ceremenei for her gracious welcome. Her eagerness to meet us at the instance of portage has been noted . Be sure to send her our blessing.’’
The man spoke with an innocent smile, a very cheeky one. Synogchouta did not pay attention, walking the carpet with small steps until he felt he reached an acceptable proximity to the Emperor, not making eye contact but rather fixing his gaze at the embroidered purple-rose heraldry on the Emperor’s mantle. He abruptly ceases movement and falls to his left knee, lowering his head.
‘’Your majesty...’’ The Principe splutters. Having memorized and hammered on the correct Ouroborasian words, pronunciation and mannerism for months beforehand. ‘’I have come bringing good tidings on behalf of the Metropolitan and all my noble family, your most steadfast, committed allies...’’
The Principe speaks no more. Keeping his head down while he senses the Emperor’s eyes leering into him.

Meanwhile the Kasabioi men and eunuchs in the Principe’s retinue, as befitting of Edukeshan courtesy, carry boxes and embellished chests loaded with gifts of exotic spices, fineries and jewelry, talismans and ornamental weaponry from the mercantile Empire’s connections all across Materia. These items and trinkets together are certainly worth a great stack of gold, the Metropolitan is being very, very generous to the Emperor. He had best appreciate it, Synogchouta thinks.
‘’Rise.’’ Spoke the Emperor finally, seeing that the Principe is not speaking further.
‘’I see you have brought me gifts.’’ The old Emperor speaks, his sullen voice booming in his great hall. But Synogchouta thinks he can sense mild pleasure -- though it is hard to tell with the Emperor’s general grim stoicism. Perhaps the Emperor is trying his best not to smile at the marvelous gesture.
Standing up, the Principe patiently replies. ‘’The gifts are not mine alone, but from all great families of Göl Kasabi. I am ever subservient to my people, o Emperor.’’
‘’Hrm. Your good will to my Court has been noted.’’ Spoke the Ruler of Ouroborasia. A number of Imperial clerks came forward to investigate the many crates and chests, who are elaborate enough that they could well be gifts in and by themselves. Meanwhile the Kasabioi plumed guardsmen and eunuchs that carried the gifts retreat back to the Amaranthine Hall’s grand opening, leaving the Principe all alone as though awaiting a God’s judgement.
The Emperor, clearly indifferent or even chafed by pleasantries and formalities, yells towards a collection of servants that gathered behind the columns of the hall’s left wing.
‘’Where is the girl? Send her in, immediately.’’

The servants gave prompt and frightened reply, and looked around to find the Duchess-In-Waiting who was supposed to present herself in vicinity right about now...

The hushed voices of handmaidens are heard behind the columns, and the creaking opening of a door on the far back of the hall, presumably attached to a distant corridor. A group of young women walk in on the summon of the Emperor. Delicately they stream by the columns in Ouroborasian fashion, each of them very pale, almost sickly so, and dressed in dark and elaborate black garments. They look regal enough as though they could each well be princesses. But only one in their midsts truly stands out, a nubile girl dressed in an elaborate mantle covering her regal clothes with various shades of purple, pink and blue, sharply contrasting the unmantled darkness of her servants. That must be the ‘girl’, Cassiopeia.

The group of young women walk in orderly fashion towards the front of the throne. Each of the women makes a quick bow to the Emperor. Than speeding off to make way for the Duchess-in-Waiting. When she presents herself, she makes her bow to the Emperor. ‘’Your majesty.’’ She speaks with a kind and modulated tone. Than she turns to the Principe who is standing from the throne’s opposite. Her funneled sleeves reach out to her dress, tilting them to make curtsey greeting; bending her knee and bowing her head to the Principe. ''It is my pleasure to finally meet you, good Prince.'' She spoke with a smile and again in the same modulated voice. It was then that it strikes Chouta that this is their first meeting. Synogchouta and Cassiopeia finally standing opposite to one another after many months, years even, of correspondence. He is so struck that he completely forgot to respond, locked in the same frown as before -- which only serves to unsettle her. The Doux Litayyan gives Synogchouta a prod and a soft hiss. ‘’Don’t forget your manners.’’
The Principe proceeds to only briefly tilt his regal diadem from his forehead, and a quick nod at the Princess, though without saying anything. Now it is Cassiopeia’s turn to frown at such a poor show of courtly manners. ‘’...Tsk.’’ She quickly turns away and withdraws to her retinue of handmaidens. A bad first impression on the Principe’s part.

‘’There she is.’’ So thunders the Emperor’s voice through the hall. ‘’This would be my niece, Cassiopeia. See to it that you get well acquainted.’’

‘’Yes, your majesty.’’ Speaks Synogchouta, who seems more smitten with the Emperor than with the fair and graceful princess.

‘’I hereby bless your union. Not merely as two souls, but as the binding link betwixt two factions. My Empire and your Island.’’ The Emperor raises his scepter and coldly proclaims: ''So shall it be.''
He spoke these words with as little pomp and flair as he is humanly able. It is almost impressive how much indifference a man can show. Yet by his status as Emperor alone, an elevation making him worthy of Gods, his approval carries immense weight.

A feeling of relief encompasses the Kasabioi delegation. The Principe sighs graciously, yet has mixed feelings. For one it means he has done good his part serving his faction, but for another, it means he is now bound to a woman he doesn’t know and probably will not like.
‘’On behalf of all Göl Kasabi and its overseas possessions, we thank you one and all, O Emperor. And shall continue to be your steadfast compatriots.’’
‘’And I would expect no different, Prince.’’ Grunts the ruler. ‘’Guards; show the visitors of Kasabi to their quarters. They are to be our guests for the night, and doubtlessly must rest from their journey here...’’

''Yes sire!''

Question: does the Avatar have a role in this RP? I mean, much of the setting is based around him so it feels there's something missing without an AVATAR.
How very quaint indeed.
The Voice of a God

Pier of Göl Kasabi
Ostrob - 300 AWH

The day is unnatural. The skies are never this clear in proximity to Uudhin. The distant sun and red star never so brilliant. The people of Kasabi island speak of a divine omen. For it is common knowledge, at least in the upper commons of the city, that this day the Metropolitan’s selected heir is departing with a treasure fleet at his back. Gifts from all corners of Materia to which the Merchant Despotate has established lasting ties. Accompanied with rows of heavily guarded ships to see to the safe passage to East Ouroborasia. Even the Salt Prince, in his occasional mercy, has bestowed tranquil waves for a safe voyage to the other side of the dark strait of Noirmoro, which separates Uudhin from Ouroborasia.
For many this favourable weather should be a welcome sight of better times to come. Yet to the more cynical, it is a dreadful omen of Justinian’s growing power and the impending annihilation of Edukar’s last bastion. For the perpetual and brooding tempest is the norm in Uudhin.
Leaning at the railing of the northern pier attached to Göl Kasabi’s upper commons, the young Principe reminisces over what is to come, and dreads it.
Synogchouta wears Soghba’s charm around his neck and has his usual wine red mantle covering his sinewy frame against the cold. Black curls cover his forehead. Under his eyes are dark bags from a sleepless and another depressing Uudhin night. Sadly something Edukesh's long exiled tribes are only too familiar with. Cast from grace by the tyrannical usurper gods, to reap the shallow bounty of the most accursed corner in Materia. So they endlessly tell themselves in self-pity. But he woke up from that darkness to the most aberrant morning imaginable. The pure beams of the sun actually gracing their little island empire?

The skies spotless, and peaceful silent laughter from the gulls is heard floating over the still water. Strange. The skies shouldn’t be this shade of colour. The cerulean blue envelops the pier so that its red mosaic tiles too seems as though touched by the celestial plane. There is even such clarity that the northern coast at the other side of the water is visible to the naked eye.
The Principe cannot believe his own eyes. He had been idling on this pier many times in his life, but never had the boon of catching a glimpse of Ouroborasia from as far south as Göl Kasabi. Caught in wonderment Chouta’s gaze is fixed on the northern horizon, unable to process what is happening. He has been to that very Ouroborasian coast before, but from this distance and on this day it is totally unrecognisable. In matter of fact; the distant ivory shore cannot be of this world. Those pine trees should not be piercing straight through the sky... The mountains behind them should not be shaped as rows of shiny molar teeth. And the southern harbour did not have those colossal pearl gates barring entry into the dockyard. Despite being at least a hundred miles away, Synogchouta can swear that the glistering gates have words inscribed on them. They are large enough that the Principe swears he can read them. He squints his eyes and leans forward over the railing.

There he stood, and the longer Synogchouta tried to decipher the awfully familiar words of the gate, the more the wind picked up as though responding to his intrigue, gliding rapidly over the water surface. The volume increases and somehow shifts to whispers seemingly carried with them. The speech of the wind smothers the familiar bawking of seagull and seaghoul that the Kasabioi are accustomed to. All sounds from the urban areas behind him likewise fades out by voices not quite human. A language that no other sapient race on Materia should be capable of producing either. For it is the wind that is speaking.
‘’The mist of the sea is an invitation to the great Dark. Embracing the abysmal north star, where the host of all souls gather. Over them, through them, without and within.’’
That is what it says. A voice unmistakably harmonious and inseparable from the noise of the very tempest. This is the language of entities of a greater plane. What all Men are inclined to call Gods.
‘’Who are you?’’

‘’Bring your gift to his viceroy that dwells so deep, so deep down under the northern star. A material pact upheld.’’


‘’Hasten. The destiny of Eudeye’s Tribes, alike with the Olden Refuge and the Deicidal Messengers of Archonnen hang in your balance. A cataclysm to be averted.

He awaits.’’

Then the celestial sky takes the form of a face. A kind face of a man, with a warm and embracing smile. Chouta is completely perplexed. But he snaps out of it when bumping his head against a lantern hanging from a column adjacent to him.

Rubbing the spot where his head was struck, Chouta’s eyes dart back to the sky. There is no face there. How is that even possible? Something as shapeless and infinite as the sky -- yet he could swear he recognised the shape of a human face therein.
Then he looks at the Ouroborasian coast to the north. Squinting his eyes he can just narrowly make out a thin strip of land at the far end of the horizon. Which is still incredible and very unusual considering the distance. Yet all the same, over there is not the celestial landscape he previously bore witness to. And those pearl gates are nowhere to be seen. It must have been imagery out of a lucid dream…

The unrestrained exposure of such paradisiacal weather is clearly playing with his head. Understandable perhaps; because an Uudhinite inhabitant is accustomed only to elements dark and raw. Anything that isn’t that is simply overwhelming their psyche? That is what Chouta deduces, anyway. But the scent of salt once more fills his nostrils, a reminder that his God is never far...
‘’Did the Salt Prince send me a vision?’’ The Principe silently mutters to himself.
His mind is adrift once more with the waves of the strait, and only ends when a sudden voice ambushes the pier.

‘’The Metropolitan sent me. Saying Yaldbaw has left and that you ought to follow his example. ‘Our family did not prosper through indolence or hesitation.’ He says.’’

Still mentally elsewhere, the Principe hardly gives a visible reaction towards his uncle’s henchman. And so he continues speaking.
‘’Either way, the crew is assembled; ready to leave on your word. Combined with the treasure fleet and the assortments of armed escort, it makes for a mighty fleet in total, I must say. I hope the Ouroborasians won’t mistake it for an invasion. Heh! Hehe.’’

It is Bacanoc Ormaoth, a confidante and henchman of the Daveithai family from about Chouta’s age. One would be hard-pressed to think he too hails from a wealthy family. His outdoors attire consists of weathered old garments and leather, having certainly carried him through much rain and wind over the years. Bacanoc is hardy and fierce built, wide shouldered with prominent cheekbones and short black facial hair around his chin and jaw in contrast to clean-shaven Chouta. He has a square-shaped skull with dark slanted eyes under thick and heavy eyebrows – actually a little bit reminiscent of a gorilla. ...Though one shouldn’t say it to his face. Bacanoc is certainly no handsome or refined man like his friend the Principe, though certainly capable in the primordial art of violence. Which, paired with his loyalty to the Island Despotate, is exactly why the Metropolitan favours him so.

The Principe is visibly frustrated. He had barely time to reflect on the theophany he just experienced before reality has come to seize him as his uncle’s political pawn to curry the Emperor’s favour.
He came to this part of the city specifically to be away from the intrigue and nosy henchmen of his uncle. ‘Can’t a man have some peace?’ He thinks to himself. It seems there is no more time to enjoy the view. And he might never get another chance, too.
When the Principe fails to give an apt response, Bacanoc speaks up again.
‘’Your rivals are seeing your lack of initiative as a sign of weakness.’’

Chouta raises an unpersuaded eyebrow.
‘’Tsk. Listen here; I don’t like them and they don’t like me. And we both know it. Why should I bother appeasing them? They aren’t going to think better of me whatever I do. What’s the point, pray tell? In matter of fact...’’

He looks away from the dark waves and into Bacanoc’s gorilla vision. ‘’I am not so certain I like you, either. Damn you Ormaoths. How much property and investment have your people done in Solnisata and Drakma at the expense of our Despotate?’’

Bacanoc groans. ‘’... Need I still prove myself? I have lived in Göl Kasabi all my life. I have served your family faithfully more than even my own. I have won the Metropolitan’s trust; why can’t I have yours?’’

‘’Trust isn’t freely given. You may have successfully wrapped my uncle around your little finger, but I am not so easily deceived.’’
The Principe sighs, figuring he is being a tad rough he follows up to his professed distrust:

‘’Though consider my expedition a chance to prove your loyalty.’’
Bacanoc simply nods like a beat dog and turns to leave. It’s as good as any response he has come to expect from the likes of Chouta.

Later that same tranquil morning, Bacanoc walks up to another of the Metropolitan’s Henchmen. This man is at least twice Bacanoc’s age, tall and lanky and stern with a goatee and wearing clean embellished robes, reflecting his status as one of the more powerful of the Kasabioi Patricians.
‘’Doux. Compared to yesterday, the Principe seems to have had a change of heart. Yesterday he was utterly miserable over having to leave his little island paradise. Though when dismissing me he insinuated agreeing with the expedition. What could have persuaded him? Zeal for our Salt Prince?’’

‘’With or without a god, a good night’s sleep performs miracles by itself. The boy had only come to his senses.’’ The Doux replies with a faint smirk, fiddling with his facial hair.

Now having the vague understanding that a lot more is at stake than meets the mortal perception, Chouta scales the gangway of the flagship to be introduced to his loyal subjects. That is to say; his crew that will be accompanying him on this voyage. Synogchouta has made up his mind.
He is first met by a man hailing from a human commune on the Uudhinite mainland, places far more sinister than the isolated Göl Kasabi. A beefy and bullnecked man; Tokko of Jeziorze. At the sight of Chouta’s figure entering the ship he speeds towards him and, taking stance and sticking out his chest like a pigeon, he combusts with a salute:

‘’Gross. You spit on me.’’
‘’Yea, well, make sure you swallow next time before blurting your swagger.’’

Bacanoc and the Doux now also scale the same gangway of the Metropolitan’s lofty flagship in Chouta’s trail. They, and many other officials, are all part of the envoy deployed to the Imperial Court of Ouroborasia to represent Göl Kasabi and perhaps Uudhin as a whole.
‘’There, Principe. I have taken liberty of finding you this man hailing from the very lands we are about to embark to.’’ The Doux gestures towards his two lionmasked bodyguard – the esteemed Saltenguard – coming onto the deck dragging a gaunt and pale looking man by both arms.

‘’An Ouroborasian in origin. Justinian. It seems he wishes to atone for his ancestor’s crimes by being so courteous as to accompany our exalted mission.’’

Pretty rich coming from an Axohar -- Synogchouta would think, but he is preoccupied observing the poor man that is being presented to him. He is dropped to the floor, landing on both knees and remains there. With a shrill voice the Ouroborasian speaks.

‘’Ionut Luizaraad… I am Ionut Luizaraad and I am no Justinian. Nevermore. I heard your family was searching for a native Ouroborasian speaker to aid you… with a tour. But those Lionmask guys brandished their scythes at the sight of me before I could even think of applying.’’

‘’No surprise there – just look at you.’’ The Principe responds. ‘’You’re filthy.’’
Ionut ignores the comment, seeming to agree.

‘’My understanding of the eastern territories of Ouroborasia is subpar, but I will do my utmost best, lord.’’
Not fully convinced, the Principe turns to the Doux once more.

‘’Litayyan, where did you find this man?’’

‘’It is as he says; my escort detained him.’’ The Doux answers with a bark, whose real name is apparently Litayyan.
He follows up:
‘’In the past few days I had my men distribute warranties through the suburbs of Göl Kasabi, with the urgent request for Ouroborasian-speaking volunteers. But it was on short notice, and this man seems to be the best option so far. I trust you will agree we can make due with him. Do not let his impoverished looks deceive you – he has more aptitude than meets the eye… The name of Luizaraad was in fact a decently well-off noble house in Ouroborasia, at least prior to the Civil War.’’
Ionut casts his gaze down to his knees, reminiscing the sad fate of his home and family. He does not comment.

‘’Is that so? Yet you forget the only family name with any semblance of weight on this vessel would be Daveithai. And so a Daveithai will be the judge of that.’’

‘’Naturally, o Principe.’’

Chouta steps towards Ionut, gesturing to the Saltenguard to lift him up to his feet, so that they can see properly eye to eye.
‘’Seeing there is little else to pick from, I accept your enrolment in our little expedition. Consider yourself employed. Though first things first; I insist you dress properly and clean yourself up. Just think; what would the Emperor think if he saw some plebe as part of our sacred envoy?
Litayyan! See to it he is given a fresh set of garments. Not for free, though. The Ouroborasian is to pay off his debt through the toils expected of him.’’

‘’Principally, o Principe.’’

As the fleet departed from the harbour, Synogchouta could briefly catch a glimpse of the Metropolitan's own formidable posture. Frankly Chouta had not expected his uncle cared enough to make an appearance at all. But as befits him, he merely came to see them off and not to bless their journey or bid them goodbye or whichever he ought to. The reason Chouta could recognize the Metropolitan at all was by the elaborate retinue of scythes suddenly entering the pier, and the coloured, over the top plume of the Metropolitan's hat sticking out above his henchmen.
So it came to pass that the fleet of Synogchouta Daveithai, comprising of at least ten ships and loaded with gifts, spices and armed escorts, leaves the harbour of Göl Kasabi under clear skies and with the winds in their back. With such favourable weather it should not take longer than a few days of crossing Noirmoro strait and trailing the inland rivers. And though it is too late to regret his decision now, a clinging pain falls unto the young heir as he sees his island home, which he has ever loved, fade away into the south… And far to the south he can already tell dark clouds pulling from mainland Uudhin to cover Kasabi island once more in ominous Axohar tempests. But this is as it should be.

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Mainland southwestern Ouroborasia, the Battle of Iviragne

Ostrob - 300 AWH

The Ghoulish march

The windswept plains of Ouroborasia are beset by dark clouds, their bleak and dominating presence in the sky engulfing the light and casting there the shadow of Uudhin... From afar the demon hordes moved in, holding aloft the hellish braziers and standards to represent the celestial Prince who made them. Sauntering, dragging, clawing, crawling in their myriads of unsightly and ghastly manifestations. Not quite animal, not quite man, and not quite natural even by the contorted standards of Materia. Their clamouring is heard far and wide as the spawn to the fore beat harsh drums, slam sinister gongs and blow on crude, screeching trumpets.

Tactician Kè; a commander of the Ghouls of Ouroborasia, who has been bred with the wit and guile to trample his enemies, addresses the rows of other prominent Ghouls that had gathered to him. Each of them look diverse enough that one would be hard-pressed to think they belong to the same vile race. They are the Tacticians Ghirjûn, Jauka, Eiyzayun and Glûstremm, standing before him. Each of them stoutly built, about the size of an adult man or longer, and of a superiour breed. Kè alone is the one that lacks any physical presence for he outwardly appears unseemingly sickly and gaunt, a plucked bird with an exposed ribcage and limp appendages of a man.

Kè speaks and hisses with harshly guttural sounds.

''Ioïnro kauteran ihzan dûrxa taan, lôhrung ranz...
Axoa Uudhi deikûr sîy reiyharx ung.''

Eiyzayun retorts.
''Ghaok taan lôhrunga razi âth Ourokûra...?''
And the other three seem to agree with him more than Kè, leaving the Ghoul tactician flustered and angry. Scolding at them.
''Tâk ath, ung Axoa deikûr Uudhi taan Uudhin! Cáarath! Baoth! Parokôk!''

''Axoa kâthar! Axoa dûyvil! Axoa kâthar! Axoa dûyvil! Axoa kâthar!''
The tacticians all cry in a hellish choir.

The other Ghouls that march and encircle the city of Iviragne seem to overhear and respond as if by instinct to the cry of Kè, and now screech the same choir in unison. Their tens of thousands of cries produce such a deafening wave of sound that the inhabitants of the city and the garrison manning the wall dread dearly what is to come. In the face of this multitude of foes and the hellish tumult they create, Justinian's voice is smothered utterly; reduced to the nothingness. For years Ouroborasia has been a dark and forsaken land, far removed and forgotten by the Pale Star of the West. Only the Red Stars of the Axohar Cohort grace the soil now. The lands where hope and daylight die.

Eventually from the northern hills resound the horns of the Human Opposition. And not a moment too soon. They are a fearsome order of warriors known as the Red Gauntlet. With speed they came to the defence of Iviragne to break the Ghoulish advance. They are led by general Krojan the Lumani, an esteemed Red Gauntlet officer. Clad fully in crimson platemail from spiked-helmet to red sabaton, and always atop a mighty black stallion. The soldiers of the Red Gauntlet are perhaps the finest and most elite troops West Ouroborasia has to offer. Most battles of this Civil War that involved their banner resulted in Justinian victories. Even their horses seem to be of a larger and stronger breed than those employed by regular Ouroborasian cavalry.
They would not give up their homes and lands without a fight. Absolutely and under no condition not...

''Form ranks, and face the scum of the Red Pantheon!'' He roars from under his helmet with a thundering voice as he points his scabbard down the hills, where a thick layer of grey covers the valley with speckles stretching far into the southern hills. It is a layer that they will and must not tolerate.
The forces nigh him gave response. The Red Gauntlet wastes nor reserves even a second to launch their offensive. They are trained to lash out at anything anti-Justinian wherever they may perceive it, and with no quarter. With a fistful of steel and fire they charge down the hills screaming like maniacs. Infantry in the centre, cavalry at the sides. A red wave dawning onto the grey one. Beasts against monsters.
They know what is at stake -- their homes, their property, their sovereignty, their faith. But one thing they are less concerned about are their own lives; these warriors are fierce and do not fear death, never expecting to leave a battlefield alive or in one piece to begin with. Justinian will deliver them. With the aura of Krojan the Lumani at the helm of the army, they are committed to victory.

A depiction of Hell presents before the walls of Iviragne. The ghastly ghouls facing away from the city walls, the very vast majority of them unmounted and small creatures, were trampled by horses while the Gauntlet's infantry with their signature spiked maces strike out at the malformed heads and frames of the frontlining Axospawn.
The Ouroborasians struck hard, and mowed down many foes in the very first clash. However it appears Kè and the Ghoul tacticians deliberately placed their most worthless spawn at the edges of the legion to absorb the blow.

''ITLÛ RA CÁARATH OUROKÛRATH.'' hoarse shrieks came from the back of the ghoul army.

Serpentine warriors rush to the fore with long lances and stakes. With inhuman precision they aim the narrow and rigid ends straight into each chink and gap in the Gauntlet's breastplates. They begin the process of driving the Ouroborasians back, and some that are not paying attention are outright impaled by the deed of those creatures. This gives the maimed and dying Ghouls that were engaged previously the opportunity to retreat to safety behind the Serpentine cover. Some of them with missing and hewn legs crawling vainfully away from the Red Gauntlet. As the Serpentine infantry go about their bloody and precise work, one very strong Ghoul holds a long stake on which he preternaturally impaled three dying Ouroborasians at once. He lifts it towards the dark clouds, the blood stained and bungling bodies of those three men hanging from it like a standard, bent on demoralizing the enemy by depicting classical Ghoul malice.
The Ouroborasians are hardly demoralized however. In fact, one of those hanging three men not yet dead begins screaming at the top of his lungs. ‘’JUSTICE BE DONE! JUSTICE BE DONE! JUSTICE BE DONE!’’ As he in vain holds the stake that pierces through his abdomen, trying to break it and free himself from it.
But, from on high a sharp rock crashes into his helmet; fracturing his skull. At last dealing to him the killing blow, and releasing him from the anxieties of this world. A flying fishghoul cast the rock at the poor man’s head for sport.

Drifting along the ominous clouds, more of those very same winged fish-like demons descend down to glide over the valley of Iviragne, each holding a heavy, sharply chiselled rock. ‘’SCHRATTÔR RA!’’ One of them gurgles at his fellows, and they each drop the rocks into the valley, before retreating back into the clouds. A next line of flying Ghouls take their place, also holding rocks and casting them into the red formations. This is undoubtly part of tactician Kè’s machinations.
On the ground, meanwhile, the heavy impact of the rocks is tremendous enough that the uniform Red Gauntlet helmet is not enough to protect their heads. Some of them are crushed by the heavy rock’s ridiculous velocity. Other humans orientate themselves to the skies and raise up their metal-coated shields, on which the rocks leave a large dent and a harsh 'CLANG!', yet otherwise do their job in keeping the wielder alive.

Krojan yells at the heavens in fury. ‘’Is that it?! Is that all you got?!’’ Before motioning to the Red Gauntlet huntsmen that stand in long rows behind him.
‘’Shoot those curs down to the earth!
Fire at will!’’
The huntsmen raise their crossbows, their arrows ignited by a fiery spell attuned to the string, and open fire at the winged fish creatures that dance among the clouds. Unfortunately many are simply way too high up for the projectiles to reach them. Some, through a miracle or Justinian’s direct intervention do leave their mark however, and a few of those flying Ghouls tumble down to crash onto the crimson battlefield among the Ouroborasian ranks.

Others of those flying beasts were drifting closer over the battlefield, and seemingly for no purpose. Close enough that some of the Red Gauntlet infantry attempted to use their long pikes to pry them from the air, which the creatures dodged gracefully. What Krojan did not know, however, is that the flying Ghouls are actually looking for him, or one like him. Kè specifically instructed them to find and eliminate the enemy commander and deal his army the decisive and fatal blow.
‘’Master Lumani! Look there! Watch out!’’
General Krojan hears the unholy language of Axospawn from perilously close-by. He looks up. One of the flying Ghouls has indeed found him, and is now descending fast on him with high speed. Before Krojan knew what was happening he was tackled off his horse.
‘’GRAH!’’ He exclaims as the fish-like creature was using its long penetrating claws to grasp onto him, leaving dents in his armour and trying to bite at his throat.
The defiant general held his sword unsheathed at all times, and used the pommel to beat it away. But the creature is tenacious, and uses its claws to sink ever deeper through the chinks of his mail, and ever more frantically continues to chatter its jaws lined with many long teeth for a bite at the general’s exposed neck.
So instead, Krojan decides to feed it steel! While holding the malformed head and jaws away from him with one hand, he used the other to drive his blade through its gaping mouth, slaying it. The creature splutters and gurgles angrily, before loosening its grip and falling off. Its lifeless carcass rolls down the hill towards the backs of the fighting men.

A wicked cacophony consumes all the land. The shrill voices of dying humans, the screeching and taunts of Ghouls, the clatter of steel, the neighing of injured horses -- and whichever unsightly creatures Ghouls sometimes ride on.

A messenger runs up towards the general, who is being pulled back on his feet by his honour guard. ‘’Master Lumani, the deployed Executioners have arrived.’’
‘’…Than our victory is still in reach. Send them forward to reinforce the line. Pronto!’’
‘’Yes sir!’’

As is custom in many regions of West Ouroborasia, many of its people have tattoos or otherwise cultural or religious markings on their skin. The warriors known as the Executioners, however, take this to a new level entirely; their skins are covered head to toe with white markings and emblems to represent worship and idolization of their god; Justinian.
The leader of the Executioner’s squadron is a formidable man, bald shaven and broad shouldered. His name is Zenun, and his tattoos are arguably the most ridiculous out of any of the Executioners.
Reacting promptly to Krojan’s command, Zenun shouts:
‘’BOYS! Getcha club, getcha mushrooms... AAAARRGGGHHH!!!!!’’ And his following sentence devolves to incoherent screaming and bestial grunts/snorts as he lifts his mace to ready the charge.

Down the hill, additional fresh Serpentine units point to them their pikes to intercept the new attacking wave. Both the Ghoul formation and the Red Gauntlet infantry previously engaging them have been badly bloodied at this point, and fatigue is setting in. Though to the mind of the Ghoul tacticians; seeing that the Serpentine unit has been successfully the last time, surely they will be so again. However as Zenun charges, the tattoos on his face and body begin to flare up as if responding to his zeal and fiery temper. The marks covering his body shine so radiantly that the light passes through his breastplate and clothing and into the opposing army. And not just Zenun; the other Executioners too seem to bring back Justinian’s light to Ouroborasia… surprisingly literally. Both the Ouroborasians and the Ghouls are astonished, as something as this certainly has not happened prior.
The serpentine phalanx is blinded; they try to concentrate for the interception but to no avail. Thus the Executioners easily bypass their pikes and slam their maces into their skulls. The Executioners break through the pike formation, and any Ghoul that tries to fight back is blinded. Some try to block their attacks – to no avail. Or even land a blow of their own? The creatures can’t even see them. One by one they falter to the sound of Zenun’s inane laughter. It appears the man himself is not even aware what is happening to him, or why the Ghouls can resist him so poorly. But Zenun is already too far gone either way.
Tactician Eiyzayun who oversees the Serpentine unit is dumbfounded to their magic or stratagem. He hisses in frustration to his cohort. Yet he too is blinded.
‘’Ourokûrath itlu deibaoth….
Xajtan! Xajtan pûrgatora!’’

His cohort comprising of tall carp-headed Ghouls are ordered to engage the radiant Executioners. However the creatures feel reluctant to enter a battle where the enemy can’t even be perceived to their bulging fishy eyes. They are only coerced to attack when Eiyzayun starts whipping them with an iron chain. They dashed off into the bright light to their unseen fate. Eiyzayun tries to see them off, but the nauseous light caused him to turn away. Only a moment later the light will come for him, too. The tactician was too distracted to see a Red Gauntlet horseman charging at him. And Eiyzayun is struck through where his lungs are – or would have been if his creation had not been marred by a Red God’s disdain for mortals. With a terrible and humiliated shriek of fury he is no more.
His death causes a major opening in the Ghoulish legion. The commissars of Eiyzayun’s battalions each react differently to the strange radiant tattoos of the Executioners, as well as the death of their commander. The Ghouls waver. With some of them already breaking off from the main force as others make a desperate suicide charge to wear the enemy down. Even the winged fishghoul among the clouds, who continue to hail down heavy rocks, can only do so much to silence Zenun’s rampage.

General Krojan, re-adjusting himself back in the saddle of his black steed, notices the discord in the Uudhinite legion’s centre, and calls for the next push. ‘’ADVANCE! Break through and obliterate!’’
‘’HOO-HA!’’ The heavy Red Gauntlet warriors respond with manly deeds, smashing deeper into the lightly armoured Ghoul infantry. Many Ghouls at this point are already withdrawing towards the southern hills and swamps.

Meanwhile Tactician Kè is taking matters into his own hands by rallying the warriors under him to reform, and brace for a second charge. The fighting is still fierce and ongoing, the Ghouls being defiant to maintain the blockade on Iviragne. However their forces are losing ground fast. He recalls the troops encircling the walls of Iviragne to first deal with the Red Gauntlet on the field. Kè orders the Ghoulish archery to open constant fire into the radiant light and quell whatever rage goes amok in there, while sending a Flying ghoul away to relay a message to the other legions for back-up. He is determined to salvage the battle from the clutches of disgrace.
However something happens he did not anticipate; the garrison of Iviragne found the nerve to leave their posts and stations on the walls and instead come storming out of the gates, exposing themselves yet catching the Ghouls completely off guard! Even more fanatical men in red armour carrying red flags, swords and spiked maces to deal with. The demon horde is now beset from two sides; the front and the rear. And the burning white light stemming from the Executioner’s white marks is still not showing any sign of wearing off, even the other Ouroborasians have to steer clear of them. Kè’s dreams of domination are in tatters.

Begrudgingly he admits there is no more salvaging this battle for Uudhin. Thus he calls for the full withdrawal of the Salten legion, effectively also lifting the siege of the city (which had barely begun at that point)… yet not before he yells at his enemies a menacing threat. Particularly directed at that self-righteous and pretentious Krojan and his wild little baboon Zenun.

‘’Axoa Uudhi deikûr…’’

Those were the last words he spoke before his oversized rat-mount rode off into the southern marshes, disappearing from sight. A good chunk of the army, frantically hastening off after him.


The Ghouls were defeated, the march of the Demon Hordes on Ouroborasian soil, thwarted. Those that remained were either fighting to the death or in the process of routing, while the Red Gauntlet clean the field. Those Ghouls that are too injured to desert the premises in time are shown no quarter for their crimes against the Ouroborasian Empire.

Euphoria fills the air as the bright light of the Executioners finally subsides, as though recognising the dispersion of the enemy. They have fulfilled their task, and may well have been the cause of this victory. Though a halfwit as Zenun deserving the credit for the Red Gauntet’s triumph is certainly not something General Krojan would tribute him with. That light – could it have been Justinian himself?
The general lifts his sword to the sky in triumph, exclaiming:
‘’O almighty Justinian, you who cannot be assailed, who cannot be deceived, to thee we give praise for delivering us!’’
The Red Gauntlet, as well as the garrison and militia of Iviragne cheer to the sky in unison. ‘’JUSTICE BE DONE!’’

But the skies above are still dark and overcast. A running messenger runs towards Krojan.
‘’General Lumani! Grim tidings, master. The Ghouls… The Ghouls…’’
‘’Are slain and dead. This is a blow from which they will not soon recover.’’
The general answers with a harsh monotone voice.

‘’Your forces prevailed, yet not all divisions of the Red Gauntlet incurred Justinian’s favour as much as you did, o master. The cities of Fushaz, Mogilashi, Ballkuq and Bozhigrat have fallen to them.
Unspeakable cruelties are being inflicted on our brethren and countrymen, o master…’’

As it turned out, the Lumani division of the Red Gauntlet could respond only to one incursion at a time. Kè’s final threat proved correct; Krojan had won only a single battle this day. Hardly could his division deter the great entirety of the Uudhinite invasion.
Yet the Ouroborasian civil war has hardened Krojan enough to be accustomed to such grim setbacks. The initial shock for him lasted only a second, if even that. After minimal silence he gives prompt response. ‘’Then our work is not done. One by one we will retake the communes we lost.
‘’Send a missive to Grandmaster Rozarosu of our victory here. Request he approve the reinforcing of Iviragne’s garrison forces. Smoke out any Red Pantheon collaborators inside the city’s confines, too. In the meantime we will march to relieve the city of Fushaz, then Mogilashi, then Ballkuq and yes, then Bozhigrat. We will free them all from the clutches of the false gods. One by one. Sword by sword. So long the eye of the Pale Star is on us, we will never waver. By the Justinian’s own hallowed blade, mark my words.’’

‘’Yes sir. Indeed so sir.’’

‘’Justice be done!’’

Meanwhile on the island of Arban…
(next post)
Do you even have to ask that?
I am currently working on two at the same time. Progress is slow because I am depending on some other players for information.
We're still looking for new people & recruiting!
^Added the above under ''TIMELINE AND PASSAGE OF TIME'' at the bottom of the OOC mainpage.
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