@BBeast I will ensure Teknall and Gadar/Belru-Vowzra meet. I imagine Teknall is currently quite busy with Xos, I'm not quite caught up, so perhaps sometime after all that. I will remember the Temple of the Bond and the trade school, and will seek to involve you in that post (not necessary for their to be any direction from Teknall or Yara, just a purely collaborative aspect to the post) so we can ensure the trade school in particular is done justice.
@Double Capybara I think the idea of summation posts is good. I'm going to do a summation and wrap up post for the Eskandars as we are moving the RP towards endgame, and I will also do a summation and wrap up post for my southern Rukban stuff as I think the culture of people there has been delved into enough. I will also do a general overview of the Vetros plot, and then a wrap up and skip with regards to any Vetros plots I'm involved in so Cyclone can take that over and delve into any long-term stories he has for the Vetruvians. Once that's done I'll focus on the endgame plot for Gadar/Belru-Vowzra, beginning with the Tira collabs, and resolve the matter of Mafie somewhere in all that. I'm not completely caught up on the posts though, still need to read page 31 and 32. Will get to that soon and make a note of anything I need to get responding to.
Goddess of Martial Combat 5 Might and 8 Freepoints
Time: The Day the Gods Came
In the forests of Galbar that Seihdhara's hair had created, bears walked. Seihdhara's hair had created all kinds of bears - brown bears, red bears, panda bears, black bears, sun bears, spectacled bears, cave bears, short-faced bears, and even red pandas - though those were not really bears. Seihdhara's hair just thought that Seihdhara would find them cute. Some bears had managed to somehow find their way north over the eons, and species of polar bear had developed. Some were particularly big.
But these bears did not just stalk the world on foot. During their hibernation, they could send their souls out of their bodies to scout. It was a single extraordinary or powerful ability that Seihdhara's hair had decided to confer on bears while Seihdhara still slept. Some bears did not even need to be in hibernation to manage this, they could send their souls walking at any time they pleased and this gave them a special edge when hunting, or when trying to avoid or escape a potential predator.
From time to time when the bears were soulwalking, as this special ability was called, they would come across a location guarded by an odd creature. It was not a physical creature, but a soul-creature. They were not very common, but common enough for soulwalking bears to come across every now and again. These soul-creatures stayed in one place and one place only, and they were very suspicious of other creatures. They were territorial and jealously guarded their homes, but if they perceived that a creature passing through meant no harm then they let it be. When fires erupted, these soul-creatures protected their homes from the fires, and so in the aftermath of forest-fires there would be little green enclaves where the fire could never reach. If their homes were ever destroyed, these soul-creatures died.
They came about seemingly at random when soul ash came together without a physical creature nigh, and they protected their homes and were eternal so long as their homes stood. And so they aggresively protected those homes against all threats. These soul-creatures were called Home-spirits by Seihdhara's hair.
Seihdhara's hair blesses bears with the soulwalking special ability. This enables hibernating bears to leave their bodies. Some bears can leave their bodies even when not hibernating, giving them a slight edge when hunting for food or escaping potential predators. Seihdhara's hair also creates soul-creatires called Home-spirits that come about when a lot of soul ash converges and creates a soul in a location that does not have a physical creature for the soul to occupy. These creatures are very protective of their homes. If the home is destroyed they too are destroyed, and so these creatures will attack or attempt to neutralise anything threatening their homes.
--MIGHT & FP EXPENDITURE: ----Grant bears a single extraordinary or powerful ability; soulwalking. (-2 Freepoints; 4/5 MP towards Souls Portfolio) ----Create an extraordinary but unintelligent species; Home-spirits. (-2 Freepoints; 5/5 MP towards Souls Portfolio) ----Adopt Souls Portfolio. (-5 MP) 0 MP & 4 FP Remaining
Goddess of Martial Combat 0 Might and 15 Freepoints
Time: The Day the Gods Came
Seihdhara was asleep when her hair removed itself and flew off the Nyeothay Tag, leaving the sleeping humanoid body with light brown hair. Knowing that she would become cold uncovered, the hair covered her with a blanket before leaving. The hair flew far and wide, noting the new continents that had arisen and the proliferation of landscapes and sites. However some places were untouched by the gods and were still barren, and so the hair spat seeds whenever it came across such a barren location. When the seeds landed all kinds of trees erupted from the earth - oaks mainly, but also birch, hawthorn, and elder trees. Here and there the hair dotted mistletoe.
The hair flew over Kalmar's great continent and spread these trees, and then it found itself sweeping over Li'Kalla's island and spread the trees there as well. It turned about and made for the huge continent Ohannakeloi had created and spread these trees all over the continent too. When it got to the furthest west it noticed Istais. There were not many barren places here, but it created a few forests anyway. It ensured that many different existing species took up habitat in these newly created forests, and it also created a diversity of bears in all of them.
Satisfied with all of this, the hair returned to the sleeping Seihdhara on the Nyeothay Tag.
Seihdhara is still sleeping. Her hair gets bored and goes exploring. It creates forests of elder, oak, birch, and hawthorn trees (along with mistletoe) on all barren parts of: Li'Kalla's island, Kalmar's continent, Ohannakeloi's continent, and Istai). It fills these forests with all kinds of already-created life-forms, and also creates different species of bears to roam them. Then it goes back to the sleeping Seihdhara.
--MIGHT & FP EXPENDITURE: ----Create a foresty ecosystem for all the barren places on the map. (-15 Freepoints) 0 MP & 0 FP Remaining
Goddess of Martial Combat 0 Might and 23 Freepoints
Time: The Day the Gods Came
Asleep once more, Seihdhara dreamt that she was carried away by a single strand of red hair. Down through a lake of blood (the Seihdh Lake) and through a gateway. Once through, a new world presented itself before Seihdhara's eyes. Though she was well-aware that this was just a dream, a part of her knew that it was more than that. This was that sphere that the Old Ogre had wanted her to make.
Looking up, the goddess saw the vastness of space, its great darkness, and the stars, as well as other Spheres - the closest of which was the desolate broken moon that Orvus had created, and which was called Veradax. The blood-red light of the Horizon Grotto and fiery light of the Heliopolis met and mixed far above with the flame-orange of Seihdhara's sphere, creating a crimson celestial dance and embrace.
The sphere was saturated with an electric energy and hotness that lit up the fires of ambition and life within the goddess, in defiance of all the entropic forces in the world. Happy with all this, she looked around herself.
A path beaten into hardened mud led from the entrance of the sphere to its centre, where there stood a stone circle. Within said circle was an oak grove, at the centre of which was a particularly majestic oak tree with leaves of burning flame. Cinder and ash fell from it and were carried for a short distance before settling on the warm earth within the circle from which grew tall red grass.
Everywhere else outside the stone circle nature had taken over - here all sorts of strange plants grew and competed, clearly due to Phystene's World Tree. It was clear that the sphere did not do anything to resist the World Tree's influence, for the place was full of life and vegetation everywhere. All vegetation extended from the branches and leaves of the World Tree, so they had no roots of their own. The great oak tree with flaming leaves in the centre of the Stone Circle was, in fact, a great branch of the World Tree.
As the goddess walked by she stepped on a sapling and found that blood burst from it rather than sap. She bent down and brought some the red substance to her lips and felt invigorated and empowered. But she also felt the heavy burden that killing and combat brought.
The sphere melted away and she found herself sitting - still dreaming - below on Galbar. She looked up, and there in the sky was a red-orange stain that looked a lot like a seal. She laughed and decided to call her sphere the Seal. Then there was darkness and she returned to a dreamless sleep.
Seihdhara dreams of her sphere and all that is in it. The sphere has an oak grove in the middle, inside a stone circle with red grass in it. The biggest oak tree is on fire. All over the sphere vegetation runs wild from the World Tree. The oaks themselves are just branches from the World Tree. Rather than sap, there is blood in them. This is an effect of the Horizon Grotto. The scene shifts to Galbar and Seihdhara looks up and sees that from here her sphere looks like a red seal. She decides to call it the Seal and returns to a dreamless sleep.
--MIGHT & FP EXPENDITURE: ----Create the Seal - a sphere. (-8 Free Points) 0 MP & 15 FP Remaining
Goddess of Martial Combat 0 Might and 23 Freepoints
Time: The Day the Gods Came
A twinkle of sunlight speared through a dense canopy, tickling Seihdhara’s eyes open. Above her was a sea of emerald leaves dancing in an unfelt breeze, their branches croaking with each passing gust. Beneath she felt the plush of moss, propped on the curve of a bulbous birch root. Realizing that she had been holding her breath, she let in a comfortably warm spray of air, the smell of spring and autumn both flickering in concert. Opening and closing her mouth a couple of times, she could not help but think the moistness of the air to be strange, but she quickly overcame this line of thought, for she then got to thinking that it was stranger yet that the roof of the great cave she had fallen asleep in was no longer there.
‘Rhu...’ she mumbled, turning her head to the side. But neither Urhu nor the fire nor the cave nor winter nor the Purlieu were to be seen.
Three cords sounded, their vibration hanging in the air and provoking her to sit up. Past the blur of sleepy eyes she saw a young man lounging between a bed of moss and a sheer cliff face of soil and roots. The plain looking man was draped in sheets of white wool, his eyes closed and mouth pursed as his nimble fingers plucked softly and slowly at a sixteen stringed instrument.
The cords were stretched over a hollow wooden bowl and ran over a long wooden neck complete with notches. Seihdhara looked at him bleary eyed for what felt like a few minutes before finally rising - her hair pushing against the earth and slowly lifting her until she was on her feet. The sounds were strange to her, but they elicited a degree of excitement and she found herself wishing for a flute so that she could respond to the sounds with notes of her own. Idly her strands began searching for a suitable branch as the saffron-haired wo- she blinked. Frowned. Then she looked down at her bare body.
Rather than the full-formed and carefully maintained physique of the adult warrior goddess, her’s was that of a juvenile girl on the cusp of puberty. It was so small, so vulnerable, that her immediate reaction was embarrassment. Then her hairs began to wrap about her like clothing to hide the shame of her childish form that knew nothing of battle or motherhood. For all her previous confusion at being in this strange place, she did not pause to wonder at this bizarre development but took it for what it was and moved on quickly. Her weakness covered, she found that her strands had been carving away at a piece of wood that now hovered before her in the shape of an elegant little flute. She took it in one hand, but rather than playing it to the white-clad stranger as she had at first intended, she held onto it and approached him warily, her eyes darting here and there for any sign of danger, her budding body tensed beneath the protective layer of hair.
Three more cords sounded and something above the young musician became apparent to Seihdhara as she approached. While his fingers danced slowly over the instrument, both a black mouse and a white mouse were at work above him. Each had a hole in the side of the cliff, and between their homes was a thick tuft of long grass, its blades tied to a sword that dangled directly above the musician. Seihdhara’s eyes narrowed in recognition of the double-edged short sword, its blade of silver and its subtle orange glow visible even from where Seihdhara looked. The handle was a dark mahogany, and Seihdhara could not quite see it but knew that it was wrapped with a leather grip and that the pommel was carved into the head of a roaring bear. Every now and again the white mouse would come out from its home and harvest a single strand of grass before disappearing once again. When it did, the black mouse would emerge and take a strand from its own side. The two mice continued this repetition slowly but surely as the man worked the cords of the instrument.
The sounds were happy and yet filled the air with a sense of dread. And Seihdhara frowned and knew that for all the happiness in those sounds she did not like this at all. Her brows knotted in worry and she looked from the white-clad musician with eyelids closed, then looked to the waiting sword above.
‘Hey you, up there on the wall. Watch out above.’ She called out at last to the musician. Then she frowned at the sword and grass and mice above. Gently, mousey, gently, pray.
There was no answer as the musician’s fingers skipped along the neck of his instrument, his other hand idly plucking at two strings. Slowly the two string sound quickened with his pace and as it did a great house formed next to Seihdhara, its foundation cleaning away a grove in the forest. She quickly recognized it as the musician jumped to four strings. Then to five, as the door began to open.
Seihdhara stared wide-eyed at the great paw that opened it. There, in the darkness of the oaken doorway, a great furred figure stood staring at the silent saffron-haired goddess. A paw was extended, a pouty smile revealed sharpened teeth, and ‘Aida,’ reverberated from the great bear’s chest. Seihdhara frowned, her eyes brimming with tears and her lips pouting ever so slightly.
‘B-but...’ and tears fell, ‘you’re dead.’ Her words did not seem to faze him, and he released a great guttural laugh and beckoned to her.
‘Aida,’ he repeated, and the word came warm and inviting, safe and fatherly. She took a step towards him - but you’re… - and then she was running. Lifted up with ease, she was smothered by his two great arms, safe and warm against his chest. And about his feet there were suddenly cubs, looking up and reaching for her and calling Aida, Aida. She laughed and cried and looked down and reached for them all as they stroked her saffron hair and pulled at it. ‘Let’s get you inside, nice and warm out of the snow.’ Said the old grizzly bear. She looked out at the clearing, felt the sun on her face and breathed autumn and spring, and she did not question his words. Then she looked at the musician and saw the sword - her sword. And a chilling dread filled her as the door gently closed.
Gently, mousey. Gently, pray.
No matter where she stood in the house, somehow she was angled just perfectly by a window so that she could see through it and through every window was the musician. His fingers glided across seven strings, his hands a blur as they quickened. Above him the white mouse would pluck a blade of grass, and retreat, and then the black mouse would pluck a blade of grass, but the musician never looked up.
A melancholic sound filled the house, but everyone around Seihdhara seemed unbothered. And for all the warmth of the fire and excitability of the cubs, for all the old grizzly’s reassurances, Seihdhara could not shake the dread off. It gnawed at the back of her mind, clawed at the periphery of her vision. And when she dared to look, there was the white-clad musician, plucking at the strings as the mice plucked at the grass-blades above. She sat by the fire, now in the old grizzly’s lap as he recounted to her the night he found her - in the darkness and cold she had shone brightly and radiated heat. Recounted how he had gathered her up in his two great arms and carried her with him home, where all his children had been excited and awed by the beautiful red-haired creature that now slept on the bed. ‘There was a time before, when Aida was not,’ he murmured to her, ‘and it was good. But then there was Aida, and our days were brighter for it, and happier too. And more troublesome, my little one, for trouble follows you wherever you go it seems.’ She giggled at his words and buried her face into his great hairy chest, and he smiled and stroked her hair.
‘Aita,’ came a familiar voice from below, and she turned and beamed down at Burido. The cub smiled and called her again in that characteristic way he said certain things, ‘Chasilpi is hiting akain Aita an’ I can’t fint him.’ He pouted and furrowed his brows, then Seihdhara was by his side, taking his paw and running off with him up the stairs.
‘Wherever you are Jazilbi, we’re coming!’ she declared, and spent the afternoon hiding and seeking and wrestling and frolicking with the cubs. Red-faced and unable to stop smiling, she found herself by the window again, and the musician was there.
‘Aida,’ came the old grizzly’s voice, ‘come away from the window. It’s cold out.’ She stared at the sun-stained clearing, the light glinting off the silver blade, and a frown grew on her face and her smile slowly faded.
‘It… it’s not.’ She looked back at the old grizzly and there was a distance in her eyes, and the tears that so quickly brimmed and fell whether for sadness or joy.
A lie. It was a lie. She walked towards the door.
‘Aida,’ came the voice again, now with that familiar sternness his voice took on when he wanted her to listen, ‘it is cold out.’ But there was a distance in her eyes, and she could not unsee the lie. She reached out, and she pulled the door open. As she walked out, she found herself much more grown than when she entered, and despite any time if there was any, the same musician plucked nine strings as the mice worked diligently.
In spite of the bear’s words, the musk of summer played in the grove, while also being strangely garnished with the crispiness of a winter breeze. Even in the strangeness of the weather numerous flowers began to blossom and close, without a care for time. The musician orchestrated his music with the same amount of bliss as the blooming flowers, his strumming rapidly growing. Young fingers scraped up the neck of the instrument, and the grove began to energize along with it, inciting familiar shadows to suddenly spring from behind the trees.
She took a few determined strides towards the musician, her eyes fixed on the blade, but then she found that someone had linked their arm in hers and suddenly she was being spun about a great bonfire. Familiar shadows leapt from behind the trees and drew panpipes and flutes. Eyes glinted and glistening snouts and lips blew, their notes joining the sounds of the strings. She was spun here and there, thrown and pushed. Laughter rang out and she found herself linking arms now with - Jazilbi? - and now with - Huro? And a certain peace overtook her and she joined the dance with gusto, beating the earth and leaping across the flame, spinning and twirling, and being spun and twirled. And now she was in Burido’s arms, and now she was in Shashta’s. And so from the arms of one grown grizzly to the arms of another she went, laughing, shouting, whooping, until she stood spread eagle before the flame, looking heavenward. And she wandered then - when had it gotten so dark? The shadows leapt around the flame, familiar shades and visages with gleaming eyes and teeth.
Aye, something was not right. But she could not quite… remember. She watched in a daze for longer than she knew before realising that there was a flute in her hand. And she knew not from where it had come, but brought it slowly to her lips. And the shades suddenly froze, their glinting eyes horrified and wide. She stared at them, also frozen. Then her eyes narrowed and there was an anger there that set her hair aflame.
And she blew. And the note came tuneless and shrill. And it blew the flame, and the mocking shades of familiar and much-loved faces, and the darkness, all away. And even as they were blown away, tears wet her face and a part of her wished that she had not seen the lie, that she could dance and play with all her beloveds.
And then there was only her, and the musician, and the sword, and the mice. This time she did not attempt to step towards him, wary of the lie. Her hair spread about her slowly, like a mantis cocking its forearms. And like a mantis striking - with suddenness, with speed - they speared out towards the sword. But her hair never found the sword, instead it wrapped gingerly around Urhu’s waist, the Goddess looking up at Seihdhara. Off to the side the musician strummed all 16 of his strings, his fingers slamming into them and causing amazing vibrations. The plucking, the strumming, it all culminated into a dance.
Around Seihdhara cubs danced, friends twirled, and family embraced. Houses familiar and not quite so replaced the trees to the west, while places both dear and unknown carved the east, but in the center remained the cliffside and the mice. She watched as little orbs of emotion spun between each memory, a great cheshire smile appearing on the musician’s face.
With the wanderer suddenly so close, Seihdhara felt her heart leap into her throat and the pressingly important matter she had sought out slipped from her memory again. She closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against that of Urhu, and she exhaled. And then it was not just cubs dancing about her, but little hairless babes, a healthy olive in complexion. She brought some to her bosom in a great motherly embrace while others hugged her feet or drooled on them. She handed one of them, wrapped up warm in the skin of elk and deer, to Urhu, and the wanderer seemed utterly unsure of how to deal with it, which made Seihdhara laugh and kiss her beloved’s cheek.
‘That’s Boboa, he’s the shyest and gentlest,’ she told Urhu, pinching little Boboa’s cheek and kissing his nose, ‘and one day, he’ll be the wisest.’ She said with certainty. ‘And this rowdy little one biting my foot is Jinyurek. Small in stature, big at heart, mighty in the fray.’ And she picked Jinyurek up and rained kisses on him even as he grabbed her face and cheeks, cooing and giggling. And she sat down and brought all her little ones to her, hugging them and kissing them and raining all her love on them as Urhu watched, and she wrapped her endless her about them all and brought them close - so close that it seemed to her that they were a part of her again, and she closed her eyes and was at peace.
‘If you go up and look over from the top of the mountain, you can see the ocean in all its vastness and wonder.’ Came her father’s voice. She opened her eyes and found that she was not wrapped in her own hair, but in so many blankets by her father’s great fire, her siblings gathered all about it also and the great old man with endless white beard sat rocking on his rocking chair.
‘Can you tell me a story about the sea, papa?’ she asked sleepily. And his divine voice rumbled - but a gentle rumble mind you, a rumble one knew was for them and not against them - and Seihdhara felt the warmth of the fire and floated in the ethereal sea of her father’s all-pervading voice.
When she opened her eyes again she was looking out of a familiar window. But whereas in reality the scene from the window had been of the world below and her children’s struggle against their furious grandfather’s curse, Seihdhara found that she was now looking up. There, on the wall, she saw the musician again and knew that she had seen him before, but could not remember when, and she saw the sword also and the mice. ‘Hey you,’ she called out as her endless strands of hair reached up to take the sword, ‘come down off the wall.’
The musician’s eyes never opened, and Seihdhara’s hair never made it to the sword. No matter how hard she called out or how far she reached, the musician and the cliffside always seemed a whisker further. A loud jambled sound ruptured the musical notes as the musician’s hand came down too hard, snapping one of the strings of his instrument. Instantly a cold whisper of a breeze wafted behind Seihdhara as the string was severed and quickly the musician switched to different cords, his fingers weaving around the remaining fifteen chords in a complex melody.
Seihdhara looked to the side, her eyebrows furrowed slightly. There was someone behind her, she knew. Before she could turn around completely, two arms gently wrapped about her, and a kiss was planted on her cheek. She turned fully and found herself looking into Aella’s blue eyes. There was on her face that same gentle smile, and it seemed to Seihdhara that even now she could hear the goddess’ comforting words. Smiling, the saffron-haired goddess placed her head against her comforter’s shoulder and a hand against her cheek, so as to feel - as she had attempted to long ago (was it really so long ago?) - what such kindness was made of.
"Oh, my young, sweet sister..." Aella said, stroking Seihdhara’s head. And Seihdhara remembered then how lonely Aella had seemed when last she saw her, sitting there atop her hut while the - what had the little black and yellow striped insect been called? Oh yes! - squiggles. She laughed at the memory and held tight onto the goddess of kindness. And though deep down she knew she was holding onto the lie, she held tighter still.
The grove was warmed with Seihdhara’s laughter, her rosy emotions brightening the forest and reflecting off of the musician’s mighty smile. Slowly the musician stood from his place, his hands a blur as they worked the many strings and produced copious harmonies, and then all at once the sword finally fell. The blade plummeted through the air and sliced against the strings of the instrument, and then with a mighty flash, Seihdhara’s eyes flew open.
There were tears in her eyes, a sad smile on her face, and she felt as though she had been awake all along. Even now she could hear Aella’s words, see her face, feel the warmth of her cheek. Even now she could hear Aida, Aita, even now the cooing of Jinyurek. Urhu’s sleeping form was still beside her, and she threw an arm across the other goddess and buried her face in her side.
Seihdhara dreams. In the dream she sees a musician sitting on a mossy earthen wall. Above him is a sword hanging from some gras blades. The grass blades are being taken one blade at a time by two mice, one black and one white. As the musician plays, Seihdhara sees various people and places from her past - she sees the grizzlies, plays and dances with them, she sees her children, her father, and she sees Aella. Throughout the musician is playing, and finally the grasses can no longer hold the blade and it plummets, severing the strings of his instrument. And then Seihdhara wakes up.