Status

Recent Statuses

1 mo ago
Current For life is manic moments in a sea of constant sorrow: Unforgotten yesterdays and no brightness on the morrow.
2 likes
2 mos ago
I never thought I would cross Mount Nakayama again; yet, growing old, I live long enough to do so tonight
1 like
3 mos ago
The art of losing isn't hard to master; / so many things seem filled with the intent / to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
1 like
4 mos ago
You spoke well, but your plea is fallen flat. You are spared, you may thank your tongue for that.
2 likes
1 yr ago
"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."
4 likes

Bio



An artist's fictional conception of what Kho may look like.

"Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Quote misattributed to Kho by Kho


Damn Kho, you just pump these giant, well-written posts out like it ain't nothin'.


'𝖑𝗅𝗂𝗇𝖽𝖾𝖽 𝖻𝗒 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π–½π–Ίπ—‹π—„π—‡π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗁𝖾𝗋 π—ˆπ—π—‡ π—π–Ύπ—‹π—‹π—ˆπ—‹, π—Œπ—π–Ύ 𝖿𝗅𝖾𝖽 𝗁𝖾𝗋 π—‹π—ˆπ—ˆπ—† 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗋𝖺𝗇 π–Ώπ–Ίπ—Œπ— π–Ίπ—Œ 𝗁𝖾𝗋 𝗅𝗂𝗍𝗍𝗅𝖾 𝖻𝖺𝗋𝖾 𝖿𝖾𝖾𝗍 π–Όπ—ˆπ—Žπ—…π–½ 𝖼𝖺𝗋𝗋𝗒 𝗁𝖾𝗋, 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π–½π–Ίπ—‹π—„π—‡π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ π—π—ˆπ— π—ˆπ—‡ 𝗁𝖾𝗋 𝖽𝖾𝗅𝗂𝖼𝖺𝗍𝖾 π—π–Ύπ–Ύπ—…π—Œ. 𝖠𝗇𝖽 𝗂𝗍 π—π–Ίπ—Œ π–Ίπ—Œ π—π—π—ˆπ—Žπ—€π— π–₯𝖺𝗍𝖾 π—‚π—π—Œπ–Ύπ—…π–Ώ 𝗁𝖺𝖽 𝖺𝗅𝗂𝗀𝗇𝖾𝖽 𝗐𝗂𝗍𝗁 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π–½π–Ίπ—‹π—„π—‡π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ π–Ώπ—ˆπ—‹ 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗋𝖾 𝗐𝖾𝗋𝖾 π—‡π—ˆπ—‡π–Ύ π—π—ˆ π—Œπ–Ίπ—π–Ύ 𝗁𝖾𝗋 𝗇𝗂𝗀𝗁. 𝖠𝗇𝖽 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π—Œπ—π–Ίπ—‹π—Œ 𝗂𝗇 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗇𝗂𝗀𝗁𝗍 π—Œπ—„π—’, 𝗁𝖺𝗏𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗆𝖺𝖽𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗂𝗋 𝖺𝗅𝗅𝖾𝗀𝗂𝖺𝗇𝖼𝖾 π—„π—‡π—ˆπ—π—‡, 𝗐𝖾𝗋𝖾 π—Œπ—‡π—Žπ–Ώπ–Ώπ–Ύπ–½ 𝖺𝗇𝖽 π—‡π—ˆπ— π—ˆπ—‡π–Ύ π–Όπ—ˆπ—Žπ—…π–½ 𝖻𝖾 π—Œπ—‰π—‚π–Ύπ–½. 𝖠𝗒𝖾 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝖾𝗏𝖾𝗇 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π–»π—…π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œπ–Ύπ–½ π—†π—ˆπ—ˆπ—‡π—Œ, π–Ίπ—Œ π—π—π—ˆπ—Žπ—€π— π—„π—‡π—ˆπ—π—‚π—‡π—€ π—ˆπ–Ώ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π–Όπ—ˆπ—†π—‚π—‡π—€ π—π—ˆπ—‹π—‹π—ˆπ—‹, 𝗁𝖺𝖽 𝗅𝗂𝖿𝗍𝖾𝖽 π—Žπ—‰ 𝖺𝗅𝗅 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗂𝗋 π—ˆπ—‹π—‡π–Ίπ—†π–Ύπ—‡π—π—Œ 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗆𝖺𝖽𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗂𝗋 π—Œπ—‰π—‚π—‹π—‚π—π—…π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ π–Ύπ—Œπ–Όπ–Ίπ—‰π–Ύ π–Ώπ—‹π—ˆπ—† 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π—π–Ύπ–Ίπ—π–Ύπ—‡π—Œ. π–­π—ˆπ—‡π–Ύ 𝗋𝖾𝗆𝖺𝗂𝗇𝖾𝖽 - 𝗂𝗇 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 π—π—ˆπ—Žπ—‹ π—ˆπ–Ώ π–½π–Ύπ—Œπ—‰π–Ύπ—‹π–Ίπ—π—‚π—ˆπ—‡, 𝖺𝗅𝗅 𝗐𝖾𝗋𝖾 π—€π—ˆπ—‡π–Ύ. π–Άπ–Ίπ—Œ 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 π—‡π—ˆπ— π–Ίπ—…π—π–Ίπ—’π—Œ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π–Όπ–Ίπ—Œπ–Ύ? π–Άπ—π—ˆ π—π–Ίπ—Œ 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗋𝖾 π–Ώπ—ˆπ—‹ 𝗁𝖾𝗋 𝗂𝗇 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝖾𝗇𝖽? ... 𝖠𝗇𝖽 π—Œπ—π–Ύ 𝖿𝗅𝖾𝗐 π—π—π—‹π—ˆπ—Žπ—€π— 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π—€π–Ίπ—π–Ύπ—Œ π—ˆπ–Ώ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗍𝖾𝗆𝗉𝗅𝖾, π—‚π—‡π—π—ˆ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗅𝗂𝗀𝗁𝗍𝖾𝗋 π–½π–Ίπ—‹π—„π—‡π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ π—ˆπ–Ώ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗐𝖺𝗂𝗍𝗂𝗇𝗀 π—Œπ—π—‹π–Ύπ–Ύπ—π—Œ. 𝖠𝗇𝖽 𝖻𝖾𝗁𝗂𝗇𝖽 𝗁𝖾𝗋 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗀𝗋𝖾𝖺𝗍 π—†π–Ίπ—Œπ—Œ π—ˆπ–Ώ π–Όπ—π–Ίπ—Œπ—‚π—‡π—€ π–½π–Ίπ—‹π—„π—‡π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ 𝗋𝖾𝖺𝗋𝖾𝖽 π—‚π—π—Œ 𝗀𝗋𝖾𝖺𝗍 𝗁𝖾𝖺𝖽, π–Ίπ—Œ π—π—π—ˆπ—Žπ—€π— 𝗂𝗍 𝗐𝖾𝗋𝖾 𝖺 𝖫𝖾𝗏𝗂𝖺𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗇 π—ˆπ–Ώ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝖽𝖾𝖾𝗉, 𝖺𝗇𝖽 π—Œπ—π–Ύ π—…π—ˆπ—ˆπ—„π–Ύπ–½ π—ˆπ—‡ 𝗐𝗂𝗍𝗁 π—π—ˆπ—‹π—‹π—ˆπ—‹ π–Ίπ—Œ 𝗂𝗍, π—‹π—‚π—Œπ—‚π—‡π—€ 𝖾𝗏𝖾𝗇 π–Ίπ–»π—ˆπ—π–Ύ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝖺𝗋𝖼𝗁 π—ˆπ–Ώ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗍𝖾𝗆𝗉𝗅𝖾 𝗀𝖺𝗍𝖾, 𝖼𝖺𝗆𝖾 π–Όπ—‹π–Ίπ—Œπ—π—‚π—‡π—€ π–½π—ˆπ—π—‡ π—Žπ—‰π—ˆπ—‡ 𝗍𝗁𝖾 π—π–Ύπ—…π—‰π—…π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ, π–Ώπ–Ίπ—Žπ—…π—π—…π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ, π–Ώπ—‹π—‚π–Ύπ—‡π–½π—…π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ π—ˆπ—‡π–Όπ–Ύ-π—€π—ˆπ–½π–½π–Ύπ—Œπ—Œ.'

***


Kho (debuted into the RPing world c.2009 or 2010-Present), also known as Kho-Bro (Kho-Sis by those who claim to be better informed about Kho's 'bits'), Theia, King Hong of Orliand, Khobihatun, Kho the Verbose Bastard (or alternatively, the Glorious Bastard), and Sand Queen is an RPGuildian Roleplayer (RPer) and Game Moderator (GM) who is often regarded as the founder of the small-time, but increasingly successful, deity roleplay Divinus, along with long-time chaos-bringer Rtron, and professional anarcho-(rule) abolitionist Cyclone. Ownership of the rights to the RP was subject to a relatively minor dispute in the Guildian High Court in mid-2015 when the original GM sued Kho for copyright infringement. The case eventually came to a close when Kho and the founder settled outside of court for an undisclosed amount.

Although highly esteemed by members of the Divinus community, Kho is relatively unknown beyond those circles, having failed to establish a successful network of active RPers across the Guild. Kho has expressed hope that Divinus' success will soon establish him/her/it as a GM of some standing among the lower echelons of the 'sewer-dwellers' (a derogative term used to refer to the thousands of GMs attempting to rise in the brutally competitive world of Guildian GMing).

In mid-2017, Kho's Divinus administration officially handed power over to a new one made up of the cyclone of activity and efficiency, BBeast; the black hole of all things just weird man, Antarctic Termite; and the lethal guardian of Divinus' corgis of war, Muttonhawk. The move is said to have created a permanent and irreconcilable rift between Kho and Cyclone, and signs of cosmic oddities have already begun appearing due to the tragic falling apart of such a great partnership. Kho now plans the downfall of Cyclone.

Biography
Early Years:
Very little is known about Kho's early years, though s/he has often suggested that s/he was born in a now insolvent forum, wherefrom s/he immigrated after the administration's breaches of basic human rights caused an inter-world wide webian crisis involving invasions and destruction.

S/He was born to a relatively well-off family, who are suspected to have perished with the destruction of his/her former home. S/He received his/her early education in RPing there, though s/he claims that s/he only learnt of 'true RPing' when s/he arrived in the OldGuild. S/He has expressed sadness at the violent coup which deposed the OldGuild, but is optimistic that never again will such a terrible GuildFall occur.


Roleplaying History
Kho is known to have joined a large number of RPs over time, though imperfect record keeping, destruction of archives and other catastrophes mean that a complete list is forever lost to time. Kho's personal secretary has recently published a list of all RPs Kho is known to have been in.

    In no Particular Order

  • 5-10 RPs whose names are lost due to the World Wide Webian Crisis
  • Raining Seconds - Each character represented one of the twelve Zodiacs in a post-apocalyptic world. They had various powers. Kho is believed to have played Leo, whose powers were shape-shifting. It is suggested, in the broken and fragmented records that remain, that Leo managed to fly into a floating city, move around as an ant, before kidnapping a high-level officer and pretending to be him for a while. The lack of anything else suggests that the RP died shortly thereafter. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Legend of the Dragon Lords - Kho is said to have created an archer-type character. RP appears to have undergone a rebooting process shortly after Kho's joining. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Reboot: Legend of the Dragon Lords - Kho once more took up Felix the Archer, though the RP does not seem to have survived far longer than an opening post by each player. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Whitewall Chronicles - Little is known about the content of this RP or about what happened. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Spell and Steel - Little is known about the content of this RP or about what happened. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Divided: Migah v Wigah - An RP set in an isolated area where two tribes, inspired by those of Native American culture, are engaged in a perpetual feud. The records state that Kho played as Anevay Angeni (meaning: Superior Spirit, aka Old Dream Eyes) who was the leader of the Migah tribe. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Lies, Blood, War! - Little is known about the content of this RP or about what happened in it. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Elba - Little is known about the content of this RP or about what happened in it. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Mastery: The Fate of Aea - Little is known about the content of this RP or about what happened in it. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Bleach: The Lament of Power - Part of a long-running series of Bleach RPs by Yoshua and Ganryuu which Kho claims to have been a part of from the earliest years. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Bleach: Tears of Heaven - Part of a long-running series of Bleach RPs by Yoshua and Ganryuu which Kho claims to have been a part of from the earliest years. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • The Great Nations - A very successful RP which was brought to an early death by Guidlfall. Kho appears to have first come up with 'the Eskandars' in this RP. The name, and the ideas, would stick with him/her in many future RPs. The GM of this RP was non-existent, and it was kept going purely on the will and dedication of the players - a true anarcho-syndicalist utopia. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Divinus Mk.OldGuild - The original Divinus. It came to an end due to GM inactivity.
  • New Dawn of Kanorth - Kho appears to have, for a considerable period of time, dedicated all his time to this RP, playing as one Horath Evren Al'Montsar. Al'Homam bin Nimr al'Wahshey also made his debut in this RP. Needless to say, Kho enjoyed it until it died. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Kingdom of Syrenos - Each player took up the role of a regional lord - either the Southern, Northern, Eastern or Western lord - in the Kingdom of Syrenos. Kho appears to have adapted the Eskandars for this RP. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • Legacy of Jarmoth: Adria - Kho's first moderately successful RP as GM. Kho has withheld all information regarding it. [a pre-Guildfall RP]
  • World in Revolution 1900 - GMed by Dutchbag. Kho played as Afghanistan in this historical RP. Kho's great love and admiration for Afghan history and culture appears to have had its inception with this RP. [a pre and post-Guildfall RP]
  • Able Archer 1983 - An RP based on the tensions caused by Able Archer 83. Did not survive too long however. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Golden Age of Piracy: Caribbean 1655 - Another RP GMed by Kho. It was relatively successful until Kho had to leave it. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Fiat Bello - Another fantasy NRP. Yet again, Kho relied on the trusty Eskandars to create an all-new nation: Mardithia. Unfortunately all the hard work never paid off as the RP very quickly disintegrated. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • World in Revolution 1900 - GMed by Chairman Stein. A relatively short-lived attempt to bring back WiR. Again, Kho played as Afghanistan. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • World in Revolution 1900 - 2nd GMed by Dutchbag. A relatively short-lived attempt to bring back WiR to the Guild. Kho played as Afghanistan once more. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • World in Revolution 1861 - GMed by Outcast. A very successful WiR wherein Kho took up the burden of returning to glory the declining Ottoman Empire. Rumour has it that there was some brutal behind-the-scenes plotting and scheming as the RP churned on. In an interview, Kho is quoted to have said, 'I don't blame Outcast for running away.' The RP died shortly after Outcast's departure. He has never been seen on the Guild again. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Crisis in Constantinople - Each player took up a realistic Ottoman/Turkish figure and played out their interactions in the newly established Turkish Parliament. Kho played Sultanzade Mehmed SabΓ’haddin and is said to have enjoyed it despite the RP not surviving beyond a few introductory posts. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • World in Revolution 1861 Mk.II - GMed by Ab. Kho once more took up the mantle of returning to glory the Ottoman Empire. Kho only managed to establish a Union between the OE and Egypt before the RP collapsed. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Marches of Man: The Black Shields - Horath made a climactic return in this RP, but it swiftly died. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Naruto: Continuum - In a much-awaited RP by the legendary duo, Yoshua and Ganryuu, Kho returned as Daichi Saduzow - a character some speculate was in fact Kho's very first. Kho has neither confirmed nor denied these speculations. The RP, unfortunately, went under for reasons unknown. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Morituri te Salutan: Arkreidian Gladiators - In a little-known RP, Kho established the building blocks for the Treeminds, a race of bear-people. The RP died after too many players succumbed to the sands of the arena. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • I, Arabicus: A story of Rome and the rise of Islam - An alternate history RP wherein Kho took up the role of Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman, a companion of the Islamic Prophet, Muhammad, and one of many people who played a part in the rise of the early Islamic empire. This RP also succumbed to the sands - this time, those of the desert wherein Arabicus disappeared never to reappear. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Breaking the Chains - An RP based on the current insurgency in Bahrain. Kho and Dutchbag hope to resurrect it as a 1x1 RP in the near future. Kho's message to any semi-adoring fans is, 'stay tuned folks.' [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Divinus: The Deity Roleplay Mk.I - Resurrecting the old RP (after gaining the original founder' permission), Kho and Rtron ran the new iteration of the deity roleplay rather successfully for a good four months. It was decided that the RP would go on hiatus for a while and be rebooted at a later point. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • Divinus: The Deity Roleplay Mk.II - The reboot came earlier than expected and has been chugging along rather well for seven months at the time of writing. Kho, for the third time, played as the god of Time, Vowzra. In an unexpected turn of events, Vowzra, for the first time in three RPs, died. This appears to have been the first time in the Divinus franchise that an active player has wilfully killed off their deity-character. [a post-Guildfall RP]
  • The King is Dead, Long Live the King - Laxion Hossarusson, played by Kho, is a scholar. He has come to the capital of Emperiat, from the eastern Grand Duchy of Andaluja (based off nothing other than the original Eskanadra and those trusty Eskandars) to act as one of many advisors to the newly-ascended boy-king. It very quickly died, despite all Kho's attempts at resuscitation. [a post-Guildfall RP]


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Most Recent Posts

from The Tablets of 'Amkula Bujunda

The Tablet that Shall Be Forgotten


This is the tablet of which shall be said when the question is asked: "Where didst thou hear that?" and shall the response be, "It is written on the Tablet that Shall Be Forgotten." This is the record of which shall be asked: "Is this the truth?" and shall the answer come: "The Truth is from He who has experienced all things, so let him who will believe in it do so and let those who will disbelieve do so - for He is all aware and watches."

Of the Miracle at the Home of the Most Beneficent, who is Uhulmikown, let this be known: it was a night of divine fury and rage, and the hand of He, who is Eokihilitchin, was seen to reach even through the Darkness Beyond Sight. And even the claw of Giwabi, who is called the First GodKing, was struck low. He, who is King-in-Truth, protects his glorifiers. He, who is Eokihilitchin, watches and prepares. ...
Guys, do you remember when I submitted one of the Rukbany posts for a writing competition?
Well, they got back to me, and guess what!

Wasn't even shortlisted by the buggers. They clearly have no taste >.>
@Scarifar yeah, I'd say reading the summaries is a good place to start. The last few OOC pages have also seen a few good summaries of some stuff geared towards Kaben, but are also generally good summaries. See also the the IC's Zeroth post (here) for a list of recent events.

The Diviwiki has the general summary, but it's significantly behind.
@Double Capybara not at all, I'm the slowest post reader in existence ^^' no need to apologise

As for the Warface, and Blood-heads and their warmasks when pops are high enough that they start spawning, I've no plans at all. Feel free to do as you please with the Un/Sullied and all that Seihdhara has left behind :)
@Double Capybara if memory serves, it was one of those things we implemented partly to prevent gratuitously long posts. We didn't want the hero prestige system to devolve into long posts = good, short posts = baaad


The First Tablet of His Prophet
Who is called the most beneficent
Who is Uhulmikown


This is the great speech of he who has seen everything. He will teach you all about He who has experienced all things, for his eyes have been set ablaze and he has realised the entirety of knowledge. He witnessed the Secret of Secrets, discovered that which is Hidden below the Hidden, and has brought forth from the Darkness Beyond Sight all things. This is so that the Truth may be known and the terror of that which lies beyond the Darkness Beyond Sight may not hurt your heart. To bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy wickedness and all evil; so that the strong should not harm the weak and so that He who has brought forth all things may rule forever over the feather-headed people and bring enlightenment to the land, and that Ado which is the First and the Last may be eternally sanctified and made holier-than-holy and the light-of-lights and the highest-of-highs. Let this be declared with all of creation as a witness, and let even the great Fog-Serpent of the Blue Eyes bear witness also, for it shall be written on the great tablet of lapis lazuli when He is King.

The most beneficent one, who is Uhulmikown, did speak with Him in the Darkness Beyond Sight, and he questioned Him about the beginning of all things. He, who is Eokihiltchin, spoke thus upon the most beneficent Uhulmikown:

In those times no name had been announced, neither 'heaven!' had been voiced nor 'earth!' named. Before the 'harvest' was known, before the 'corn-field', before 'reeds' and 'marshes', before the great opening up of the waters; and even before the gods were each of them named. For the great race of the gods, who are the Inwhniwt but were not then so, had not any of them been fashioned, not one, and nothing was known of greenery or of trees or of grain or of the god of grain, and nothing was known of Man for the gods had not come into being and brought Man into being, and nothing was known of the great temples which would be built in honour of the gods. And no one was yet called by name and neither destiny nor fate were fixed. Neither had a ewe bleated nor had a lamb from the innards of its mother dropped, and there were no flocks and no shepherds and no herds and no herders.

The great GodKing had not yet been named and the crown of authority - the glorious feathered and horned tiara - did not yet rest upon his brow. The sun had not been named and shone with no great radiance. The moon had not been named and did not light up the darkness of night. The stars had not been named and did not twinkle in the tapestry of heaven, and heaven itself, and earth, had no name. And even Ado, and even Giwabi the Kingdom, were not so much as a whisper or a thought.

In that time was only He, who is Eokihiltchin, who is the great progenitor and father; and She, who is Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, who is the great Fog-Serpent of the Blue Eyes, who is the chaos of the sea and the great terror, who is the great deliverer and mother. And He, who is Eokihiltchin, and She, who is Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, did their waters mingle; and in their midst did the gods all come to have names and did they come to be when they had before been as naught.

First was the forest-eyed goddess on whose brow rests the eternal bush fire and whose cry is love and war, and who is Eitwylsihder. And with her came the one whose tongue is a mountain and whose voice is thunder, whose eyes are lightning and whose shoulders bear the world-burden, who is Tkol-Iraemus. And their name was caused to shine, and they grew in stature and power and authority and strength, and they were made in all ways glorious. And then there came others, Tixezomox of the teponaztli and of the ayotl and of the huehuetl and of the huilacapitztli and of the tecciztli, and Hwe-Mectl who is the light in every darkness, and others yet, the four - Kixaworu, Ivimigidokil, Beraril, Trwikiyum. And their days were long and many, and they all were made great and glorious.

And of the seed of Tixezomox of the sonorous sounds and the radiant Hwe-Mectl was Cuaxiplli, and he was crafted in the image of his father and was mightier yet. And of Cuaxippli emerged Hatatu and Xukutu, the sacred sisters who in unity are mightier yet even than he who begat them, and though they were of a womanly form were they crafted in their father's image and were they strong of limb and broad of chest and shoulder, and wiser yet and of sense acute, and they perceived that they had amongst their forebears no rivals.

And they banded, all of them together - Tixezomox and Hwe-Mectl and Kixaworu and Ivimigidokil and Beraril and Trwikiyumand and Cuaxiplli and Hatatu and Xukutu; but not Eitwylsihder of the forest-eyes and Tkol-Iraemus of the mountain-tongue -, and sought to pierce the divine womb of their great deliverer and mother, who is Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, who is the great Fog-Serpent of the Blue Eyes, who is the chaos of the sea and the great terror; and sought also the crown of their great progenitor and father, who is Eokihiltchin. And this their movement and noise, and this their thanklessness, vexed and distressed Her much. And though they caused their mother pain and grief - was She not yet their mother, and Her heart unendingly loving? - She forebore and was patient and shed Her tears in silence.

But He, who is Eokihiltchin, saw the pain of She, who is Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, who is His spouse, and was much angered and waxed wroth. And He brought Himself before She who is the great Fog-Serpent of the Blue Eyes, and He commanded the gods keep silent and be humble, and He commanded they sanctify their great mother and fall before Her and grow regretful of all the pain and grief they caused. But they heard Him little and did Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk keep Her patient and tearful silence. And these acts of heinous rebellion which the gods committed only caused the wrath of Him, who is Eokihiltchin, to grow greater.

And so He, who is the great sire and progenitor of the gods, summoned forth His spear Indiliballi and called upon Her, who is Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, and His word was thus: "Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, come forth and bare the terrible fang and let shine the horror of Your eyes, which are lapis lazuli. For these ones here, who are called the Inwhniwt and came forth from Us, are a wicked lot and have brought pain to Us and wakefulness. By day You weep and by Your weeping am I brought to grief, and by night You are sleepless and sighing, and so I too am sleepless and sigh. Come, let Us put them to an end that silence may reign once more and that We may rest once more and sleep, and that grief may depart from Your heart and Mine forevermore."

But She, who is Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, who is the great deliverer and mother, was afflicted by anguish and distress at this and besought Him, who is Eokihiltchin, to do no such thing, and She spoke thus: "Shall We, who are mother and father to all, put an end to what We together named and brought into being and pained over? Their acts may cause Us grief, and their rebelliousness may pain Us but We should bear it in good part as all parents must with their progeny."

And there emerged then Eitwylsihder of the forest-eyes and Tkol-Iraemus of the mountain-tongue, who had heard all that their begetters had said. And Tkol-Iraemus, whose great tongue dragged behind him as he strode forth, spoke with his great resounding voice. And his words were thus: "Count us not of that rebel race, the Inwhniwt, but count us of those who are faithful and true." And they sat at the feet of their begetters, and they were silent and prepared.

And so He, who is Eokihiltchin, held back His spear, which is Indiliballi, and He went to rest.

In their wisdom waiting, ingenious and resourceful, the sacred sisters Hatatu and Xukutu were aware of all, discerned that He, who is Eokihiltchin, was asleep. And so they gathered together, and they brought all the others, and they fashioned it, established it; the first and greatest of schemes, the treasonous plot that taught treachery and made it law. They made it artful, mixing with it great magick and terrible auras. They all, together, recited it and brought Him, who is Eokihiltchin, to rest in the waters. They put him in a slumber far deeper, caused Him to sleep completely, drenching Him in drowsiness whose terrible spear was far. Eitwylsihder of the forest-eyes and Tkol-Iraemus of the mountain-tongue were set upon also, caught and tied and felled - but a killing blow was not struck.

And they untied the great red sash of He, who is Eokihiltchin, stripped off His crown of authority - the glorious feathered and horned tiara. And they took His great aura, and the sacred sisters donned it and became one, and they were called Giwabi the First GodKing. And they tied Him, who is Eokihiltchin, and killed Him and made of His great body the earth; of the tongue of the tied and bound Tkol-Iraemus they made the mountains and forced him to carry his father's great body, and he was imprisoned and bound with great bands. But Eitwylsihder of the forest-eyes escaped to her mother, who is Bihmat-Iyan-'Uk, and together they fled into the Darkness Beyond Sight. And they took with them the great soul of He, who is Eokihiltchin, for His word would be heard even through the Darkness Beyond Sight.

Thus spake He, who is Eokihiltchin, to the most beneficent Uhulmikown, that all may know Truth and may come to know to whom belongs the power and the crown and the authority, and who is the true once and future King.

This is the word which is Truth, brought forth that your heart may know peace and be called to the true prosperity. The most beneficent, who is Uhulmikown, sends praises upon He, who is Eokihilitchin, who shall before long return for the final vanquishment of the usurper GodKing who is called Giwabi, and who shall cause the throne of Giwabi the Kingdom to be taken from the one who is Giwabi the King. To bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy wickedness and all evil; so that the strong should not harm the weak.
I read this and thought it was funny:

In 1872, Smith found a large fragment covered with a thick deposit which, when removed, revealed a large part of the [Chaldean] flood narrative. Reportedly, he exclaimed, "I am the first man to read that after more than two thousand years of oblivion," put the tablet on a table, and ran around the room maniacally, taking off his clothes!


Of all the things to do on discovering an ancient tablet xD
Likely the last post from me until June




Year: 232 P

The course of true love, it is said, never did run smooth; and the hand that perverts its course oft is the one that has most to lose by it. The stone-hearted Fikra oft did find himself dwelling on Ruya's sharp eyes of honey, her manner of speech, her proudly raised head, her purposeful yet graceful movements... she was every part the descendant of one proud Garid chief after another, every part the image and manifestation of the perfect companion... None before had ever dared to hold his gaze as she did and attempt a peek past the hard facade of the Patriarch to the man within. And so, when Fikra lay back, resting his head and closing his eyes in the depths of the night, it was the face of Ruya that came to him.

And yet his heart was none the softer, his face showed no more emotion than it had always shown (that is - none), he exhibited none of the signs that Hajjam - that wise old reader of signs - had relayed. To all onlookers, to the disciples who sat at his feet near the shrine of the Prophet-Patriarch, Fikra was in all ways unchanged. Perhaps his aunt Ely knew - for such was the motherly instinct - but she did so silently. He went daily before the shrine of his hallowed forefather and sent praises upon him and worshipped the Moon-Mother, and he would then step behind the great shrine to the smaller shrine of Zekra (access to which was permitted only to Zekrid chiefs and those they allowed). And he would sit by the shrine of the mother of all Zekrids and worship quietly, brooding silently and sadly on all the pain and suffering she saw. And many were those who came to the Patriarch, whether in the shrine of the Prophet-Patriarch or as he walked the streets of Qari'Ab, for blessings and prayers, and Fikra carried out his obligations dutifully, the call of his heart suppressed and denied and rejected.



He Did No Miracles, But He Healed Their Hearts


But Qari'Ab was not home to the Prophet-Patriarch's tomb alone. Not too dar away from the great town was the shrine and tomb of the Madhlum Bato Durghal. His hallowed father had ordered he be buried where he died; where the spear of the Prophet-Patriarch had pierced his sanctified breast and brought to an early end his blooming life. Annually, on the day of the Durghal's death, the people of Qari'Ab gathered together to commemorate his death and marched in a great procession to his tomb out on the prairie. The Ilwlad-Bato celebrations went on for a week, and the procession from Qari'Ab was led personally by the Bato-Elyd Patriarch. But Fikra visited the shrine of his erroneously murdered ancestor on a weekly basis, often making the walk with a small host of people in tow - some of them students of knowledge, others dervishes, and others yet simple folk seeking the blessing of being in the Patriarch's presence.

The number of shrines and tombs in Qari'Ab were more than could be numbered - the tomb-shrine of the Qai, those of all the Prophet-Patriarch's wives (bar that of the Bayda whose tomb lay in the capital of the Anjawid Realm in the North), that of the Shohiquy, and others. But that of the Matriarch-Superior Ely Nafzakia, and that of the Shohiqam, were in Eli-Enia to the west. The Radids of Eni-Elia were scrupulous caretakers of the shrine, rivalling even that of the Prophet-Patriarch in size and grandeur. Indeed, there was an aura of peace in Eni-Elia and the shrines there that differed distinctively from Qari'Ab, though Fikra had never been quite able to grasp the nub of what made it so.

As the days drew out into weeks, the people who had gathered in Qari'Ab waited expectantly on the union between Fikra and Fihriyi. The Eliad Matriarch, for her part, had maintained her silence in the weeks that followed her period of mourning for her father; and yet the people grew more eager and excited at the prospect of the alleged marriage and they thronged from far and wide to witness the historical union.

'The people await your marriage with great zest, Fihriyi,' Malha informed her one day. Fihriyi, still dressed in white despite the fourteen days of mourning being over, did not respond to her aunt immediately, allowing her displeasure at these words to fester. Malha discomfort became apparent and she fiddled with her sleeve.

'When Iybar sees reason, they will have what they await so eagerly,' the Matriarch said tersely, causing Malha to sigh.
'Will you not at the least see Fi- uh, the Bato-Elyd.' Fihriyi had grown so sensitive to Fikra's name that she had demanded his name not be uttered in her presence.
'I have not spoken to Iybar, who is the most beloved of men to me; why then should I grant that privilege to the one I most despise?'

'Then shall I bring Iybar to you?' The Matriarch turned to her aunt with an immediate smile at these words.
'Could you? But don't tell him it's an order, tell him to come only if he wants.' Malha pursed her lips for a few moments.
'And if I persuade him, will you meet with the Bato-Elyd like I've asked?' Fihriyi scowled and looked to the ground.
'If you can persuade Iybar to come and speak with me, then I will grant your wish.'

And so Malha had made immediately for the abode of Iybar, who had for over a month kept himself in the darkness meditating. Indeed, he had declared that he was now set upon a life of asceticism and celibacy. When his aunt Malha spoke to him, he was aghast.

'What? This talk again? Does Fihriyi not know that I no longer desire marriage? And you would have me speak with her? Do you not know that I have pledged to Fikra that I will stand aside?'
'Yes, Iybar, I know. But Fihriyi is stubborn and will neither listen to me nor to your mother. So go and speak with her, perhaps your words will strike true where ours have failed.'

Iybar considered Malha's words for some time, and then his jet-black brows drooped in acquiescence and his onyx eyes were concealed behind his eyelids. 'If it will do good. Tell her I will come before her when the sun next dawns.'

And when Fihriyi's eyes fell upon her beloved she could not restrain herself from rushing forth and embracing him and stroking his bearded face, her facade of strength falling away before the one who was her great pillar and support. And seeing her pain and need for him in that moment, Iybar could not but allow her what she (and what he, in his heart of hearts) desired. They held each other long and were silent, and the silence spoke her words of reprimand - where were you when I needed you most, Iybar? - and they spoke his sorrowful regrets - where a greater duty demanded I be.



And He, In His Heart of Hearts, Desired Her

'Will you not let us be wed, Iybar?' She spoke at last. And though he gripped her just as tightly as she did him, he spoke words that demanded he do otherwise.
'I have taken to a life of asceticism and celibacy, Fihriyi. One better for you than me now waits to be wed to you.' She buried her face more stubbornly into his shoulder.
'If you have condemned yourself to celibacy, then you have condemned me also you foolish man.'

One of his hands ran through her red-brown curls and he shook his head. 'If you do such a thing, then you condemn the line of the Prophet-Patriarch's true heirs to death. Can you stand to meet the Moon-Mother with that on your conscience, Fihriyi?' She looked up at him, her eyebrows now furrowed.
'Can you?' He pursed his lips at the accusatory tone in her words and made to release her, but her grip on him only tightened and she brought him close once more. 'Don't leave me Iybar.' She placed a hand on his head and, crushing his kapak, brought his head to her shoulder.
'I will not leave you. But you have an opportunity here - a chance to create peace. A relatively small sacrifice on our part - and, no doubt, on Fikra's part,' she flinched, 'will spare the lives of untold thousands. Consider that Fihriyi. An opportunity like this may never come to pass again.' She was silent for a while.

'I hate him,' she spoke low, but he heard her nevertheless.
'You can grow to love him,' she jolted at this and looked him in the eyes, horrified.
'How can you even say these things?!' She let him go and turned away angrily, 'aren't you listening? I don't want him. I will never want him. Rid us of these fantasies of peace - even if I were to marry the Bato-Elyd there would be no peace.' She turned back around, her eyes beseeching, 'don't sacrifice our happiness for fantasies, Iybar.'

'The poet spoke true when he said - "Perhaps what you fear will not come to be, and perhaps what you wish for will soon be. And perhaps what you sought after can ne'er be, and perhaps what you fought shall regardless be. Perhaps what you thought easy is not so, and perhaps what seemed hard will not be." So don't be so sure that what you deem fantasies are indeed but fantasies, Fihriyi.'

She furrowed her brows and groaned, looking around desperately as if for some aid against this stubborn man. 'This isn't the time for poetry, Iybar,' she moaned, leaning against a wall and allowing herself to descend to her knees. He approached hesitantly.
'Fihriyi...' he spoke, and even in the darkness he saw - when she looked his way - that there were tears in her eyes. He placed his back to the wall and slid down beside her, sadness overwhelming him at her grief.

'I don't want it Iybar. I don't want it. Why won't you understand?'
'I- I promised Fikra. I can't go back o-'
'And didn't you promise me too?'
'Your marriage to him is for the greater good of a...'
'And what about what's good for us? What of our happiness? Would it please your heart to know I live a life of grief?'
'The Mother gives as she wills, we cannot resist her impossible will. It is for us to create our happiness out of what she grants us, not to attempt to steal it from what she has not.' Fihriyi's eyes widened at Iybar's words.
'And who are you to decide what the Mother has willed and what she hasn't, Iybar? Am I the Matriarch here or you?'

He looked down diffidently. 'If- if it is our Matriarch's command that I marry her, then the choice is cl-'
'No, be quiet! That's not what I meant or want and you know it,' she said angrily, 'you can go.' And with those terse words, she wiped her eyes and turned from him. She had been a fool to think that, like her father before her, she could have somebody who loved and truly supported her by her side. Iybar got to his feet and bowed slightly.
'If you ever need me f-'
'Iybar, get out.' He closed his mouth, bowed once more and, with a regretful look, made his way out. She watched with a certain degree of frustration and helplessness as he went.

For a day thereafter she refused to see anyone, and then - an entire week after the expiry of the mourning period - Fihriyi at last emerged from her abode and made for the shrine of the Prophet-Patriarch.



'Neath It the Remains of He Whom the Moon Mother Blessed

There she prayed and was accosted for blessings by supplicants. The Matriarch stood at the tomb-shrine of her great martyred forefather, hand extended as the people crowded towards and around her, some touching her hand, others kissing it, and others getting down to kiss her feet. At one point one little bald man got to the ground before her and raised her foot so it was upon his forehead and stayed like that for a good few seconds before someone else took his place.

When she, at last, made to move, the people swiftly parted before the Eliad staff in her hand (which, like that of the Durghal, had been made by the Shohiqam during her rite of passage and had been passed down from Eliad chieftain to Eliad chieftain over the ages) and the people followed her even to the door of her abode, and she stood at the door for over an hour as the tide of people ebbed and flowed.

At last, sapped from the sudden exposure after weeks of isolation, she retired into her home and was for a while alone until her aunt Malha came to her.
'How are you today, Fihriyi?' The older woman asked, a smile on her face. Fihriyi smiled at her aunt, the simplicity and purity of the day's happenings having left her in a lighter mood than she had felt since her father's passing.
'I am well. All is well.' Malha nodded and was quiet for a few moments. Fihriyi looked at her and immediately knew what she was after. 'You want me to see the... to see Fikra, yes?' Malha nodded and smiled broadly at Fihriyi's reference to him by name. 'Very well, tell him I will see him tomorrow.'

And it was so. Fikra came to her some hours after the sun had risen, the famed Bato-Elyd staff in hand - but rather than the red cloak he had been famed for in prior times he was enwrapped in a great white one, which he had taken to wearing ever since he became Patriarch. She met him at the entrance to her abode, a kapakel on her head and a blue cloak draped across her body, under which was the famed kop of Qari'Ab. She saw that he was accompanied by a large host and, looking into his eyes of ice, spoke.
'Let us speak alone, Patriarch,' came her rigid words. Fikra nodded and, turning to those who had accompanied him, bid them depart. He walked into her abode, removing his sandals at the entrance, and she presented him with food and drink, as befit a guest. Silence reigned between them during the meal, and once they were both done he cleared his throat and watched the ground for a few moments.

'My aunt says you have something of some importance to discuss with me, Patriarch,' she finally broke the exceedingly awkward silence. He nodded and looked at her, and she did not flinch when she met his gaze. Her eyes were just as cool as his, equally guarded, her mouth set in just as hard a line.
'Your aunt spoke true, daughter of our most honourable forefather, for it has been my intention for some time now to ask you honour me by uniting our houses.'

He was not one for frivolous speech or small talk, so much was clear - he got directly to the point. So much so that Fihriyi was somewhat taken aback by the directness of the request. 'I- well. Yes, I had heard,' she managed, 'and I have made clear to my aunt that I have no interest in such a union.' She looked into his eyes for a reaction, but he did not so much as blink in surprise or showcase any annoyance or dismay at her response.

'What may I do, daughter of my noble forefathers, to make our union a reality? For it is my sincere intention that peace and goodwill reign between us and our followers.' Fihriyi, maintaining her upright seated position, looked to the ground.
'It is a noble goal, and we most certainly share it with you. But it is my belief that a union is not necessary for there to be peace.'



Qari'Ab: Will the Town of the Patriarch Come to Know Peace?

Fikra shook his head firmly at her words. 'Matriarch, I do not speak of a peace for our time. I speak of an eternal and permanent peace. A peace for all time. A peace that, regardless of what Patriarchs and Matriarchs come and go, will never be broken.' She looked into his frigid eyes, and he saw that she saw that he spoke a little truth, 'and there is more to it. I will not lie to you, Fihriyi - if I may -, but both you and I are young and, like me, you are no doubt surrounded by those who would like little more than to use you and your station amongst the people for their own ends. If I have you by my side, and if you have me by your side, we will be mighty.'

There was silence between them as they watched each other, but Fikra saw that Fihriyi saw he spoke a little truth. 'I cannot say I know what you speak of, Patriach. My people are unfailingly loyal and obedient. If you are having problems getting your house in order, then that is not a matter for me or mine to get embroiled in.' She glanced over at the Patriarch, but his face was, as always, deadpan.

'My offer stands, Matriarch. You know it to be good, and you know I speak truth - and I plan to build our relationship on nothing but truth, if you will so honour me.' Fihriyi chuckled.
'And what is truth, oh wise Qarqaz?' Fikra looked at her for a few moments and then brought his head down and spoke.
'I will indulge you, Matriarch. Here - the truth of things, as far as my no doubt limited knowledge goes, is their essential nature. Speaking the truth is, as many of our pious and more knowledgeable forebears assert, to say of what is that it is, and of what is notβ€Œ that it is not. Thus when our speech corresponds to external reality, it can be said of it that it is true. We find then, in legal disputes, that a true proposition is one that corresponds to reality, while a falsehood is a proposition that does not correspond to reality.’ He looked to her and found a slightly surprised look on her face.

'W- well. That is... that is quite interesting.' She paused for a few seconds and then suddenly chuckled, 'you really are the serious type, aren't you Patriarch.' The words slipped out of her mouth before she could stop herself.
'It is not out of choice, Matriarch, but difficulty breeds hard folk.' She almost sensed a sadness to his words, but his face betrayed nothing. She sighed.

'If you wish for this to be built on truth, then here. I do not love you Fikra. You have forced me from the arms of the one I love, and for that I despise you.' Fikra bowed his head.
'I do not ask that you love me, Matriarch. And I cannot say that I love you either, and I cannot promise that I ever will. I only ask that you marry me, that you trust me, and that you always be truthful with me. I will be your strength and you mine, and we will heal the great rift that has turned Zekrid against Zekrid and Eskandar against Eskandar.' He extended a hand to her, 'will you not do this with me, Matriarch?'

Fihriyi looked to his extended hand and sighed. He remained as he was a long time, and she looked from his hard eyes to his hand. After longer than either knew, she slipped a tentative hand into his, and she could not look into his eyes.
'You have done a good thing, Fihriyi.' Fikra said. She looked at him, part of her hoping that he would perhaps be smiling, but his face was hard and she quickly looked down again.

'It is not out of choice, Patriarch, but difficulty breeds hard decisions.' She echoed his earlier words and took her hand away. Fikra nodded and got to his feet, staff in hand, and Fihriyi did likewise.
'I will not be bad to you,' he assured her, and then turned to depart. Fihriyi followed him to the entrance and watched him leave. He had not taken five steps before he was joined by two women; one of them, with long ruffled brown hair cascading outwards in curled tresses that seemed to have a life of their own, immediately clung to the Patriarch's arm, while the other - a shorter woman - walked by his side and spoke a few words. At Fikra's response, she turned her head backwards and looked at Fihriyi. And, Fihriyi knew not why, but she felt her to be sad.

***




The City of Darofid


Seriyn brought the gold-silver, gem-studded cup to his lips, tipping its crimson content into his mouth in one movement before raising it for a refill. A cup-bearer dutifully refilled the cup, and the reclined Meraid chief set it down on the small table and looked out over the grand city. Reclined as he was on a couch placed on a balcony overlooking the city from the grand palace atop the hill at Darofid's centre, he looked every part the important Yadillum to the Orifid Matriarch. He was a man of some forty years, less five, with an impeccable beard of brown, decorated with little golden rings and larger golden bands that held it all together. On his head he wore a head-dress made of gold, and he was draped in a stunning deep blue robe. His brown eyes, beneath bushy brown brows, were kohled and even the strong smell of incense from within his grand room could not over-ride the sweet smelling perfumes he adorned himself with. Though the young Inar was Matriarch, the Yadillum Seriyn was king in all ways but name.

'So Fihriyi agreed...' he murmured to himself, his eyes taking on a certain distance. These mere children were upsetting the power-balance in more ways than they could possibly imagine. Did they truly think a thing like this could be allowed to happen? The Yadillum looked up at the Yadanite who had brought him the news. 'You have done well in keeping me informed, Mokala. See to it that our beloved Matriarch Fihriyi... perishes tragically.' The Yadanite, a dark Karkid dressed almost entirely in black garb, bowed deeply at the Yadillum's order.
'Your faithful slaves will see your will done, great lord.' And taking two steps back, he disappeared over the edge of the balcony. Seriyn raised his cup to his mouth once more and, emptying, breathed in the fresh morning air. There was nothing more satisfying, to his mind, than seeing threats crushed in their infancy.

The many Yadanite orders - which were more than could easily be counted - were not all of them militant (indeed, a great number were of a scholarly-spiritual bent and had little to do with war), but those that were produced exceptionally skilled zealots willing to march into the very jaws of death to see through what they believed to be their divine duties. It made those of them that did not hold a favourable view of the Orifid Matriarch a notable risk, but it made those that sanctified the Orifid Matriarch an even greater boon. And the Meraids had, from the earliest days of the Orifid dynasty, established themselves as the foremost patrons of pro-Orifid Yadanite orders, so that now their zealous warriors, spies, and assassins reported almost directly to the Meraids.

The Palowids had thought fear and force of arms alone would ensure their dynasty's survival (and now their rule was over, their name cursed, and those of them that remained used as mere pleasure toys by those who had toppled them), but Seriyn, like his forefathers, well knew that survival lay in holding the monopoly on knowledge. It lay in identifying potential threats long before they bloomed and eradicating them. In so many words, it lay in a vigilant weeding policy. And while Seriyn's zealous Yadanites enjoyed Meraid patronage and all the riches a state could afford its loyal servants, all Yadanites whose theology was considered a threat to the state were watched carefully and decimated from time to time. The Eliad and Bato-Elyds were no Yadanites, it was true, but the Yadillum, in his wisdom and foresight, saw that the time for decimation was nigh.

With that business done, he shook himself from his reverie and rose, tossing the empty cup to his cup-bearer, and strode into his room and out into the great hall. Flanked by two guards, he made his way to the royal throne room where the first business of the day would be starting before long. When he arrived, he found the other three members of the Matriarch's Highest Council already present. They turned to the Yadillum and bowed respectfully as he strode past and took his place on a great golden throne positioned to the right of the Matriarch's own, but a step higher.



In All Ways a King

On each side, his throne had small statues representing the great Earthen-Beast, the terrifying winged being with the body of beast and head of man that fell from the heavens and terrorised mankind until the Prophet-Patriarch had tamed it. And rather than the great terroriser and harbinger of destruction that it had been, it became the guardian and wise counsel it now was. Seriyn leaned back and placed a hand on one of the sculptures.

'How many times do I have to tell you, you lords of the line of Orif, there is no need for all this bowing and formality between us; we are all the faithful slaves of our Matriarch.' The three councillors - respectively the Lezid, Baernid, and Ragawid chiefs - found their seats to the left and right of the Matriarch's raised throne as Seriyn gestured for them to be seated.

'Yes Seriyn, but it is important to observe formalities from time to time. Just to remind ourselves that though we are all our Matriarch's slaves, not all slaves are equal,' it was the old Baernid chief Arno who spoke, his piercing blue eyes looking out at Seriyn from beneath drooping snow-white brows. Like the other members of the Highest Council, he was dressed in a white robe embroidered with various intricate patterns that now twirled and now zigzagged across its front and all the way to tasselled sleeve hems.

The Ragawid chieftess Devina waved off Arno's words quickly. 'You're getting senile, old man. Shouldn't you be home with the grandchildren?'

'Oh wave me off will you? It's like you don't know the tale of the three bulls - you'll remember it when some stupidity of yours gets me gone.' Arno glanced at the younger woman with his cutting eyes, but she did not look his way. For his part, the black-haired, dark-eyed Lezid chief Mingin maintained a stoic silence. A military man, he made a point of maintaining his silence on all things that did not pertain to his field of expertise.

'Let him speak his mind, Devina. The Law commands respect for our seniors, after all.' The Yadillum finally responded. Arno crossed his arms and sat back in his wooden chair, looking every bit as irritated as he was.

'Yes Devina, the Law commands respect for our seniors. Why don't we all be good little boys and girls...' but the rest of the old man's words were an unintelligible grumble. One by one and in small huddled groups, the lower councillors and advisors and viziers, as well as military men with reports and others, began filing into the throne room and, after paying their respects to the Yadillum and the members of the Highest Council, found their places and awaited the coming of the Matriarch.

'I see you're back again today Arka. You'd think that after the fiasco yesterday you would have had the good wit to not show your face around here for a few moons,' Arno declared when a jittery old man entered the throne room and came to pay his respects.
'S-sp-p-pare m-me y-y-your t-t-tonngue, H-H-High C-C-Counci-ci-cillor.' The old Karkid stuttered.
'Speak properly you old lout, no one understands a thing!' Arno snapped at him, gesturing for him to take a seat to his left, 'have you actually got the report on why our grain supplies are dwindling or did you forgot it again like the tongueless buffoon you are?'
'I h-have i-i-it, H-H-Hi-'
'Good good, I'll spare you the effort of my full title, just spare me any further bungles today will you?' The old Arka, used to Arno's brusque nature after over forty years working with the man, bowed his head.

He had barely raised his head when the throne room's two doors were flung wide open and a dozen soldiers marched in, their sandals and the butts of their spears smacking the ground in synchrony. All heads in the great throne room turned toward the wide open doors and an instant hush came about. Behind the soldiers came the young Matriarch Inar and her attendants. Her golden crown shone brilliantly atop her head and a number of jewels were clearly visible even from where Arno was sitting, and from her ears hung lustrous triangular earrings with little gems embedded into them. Her neck boasted a great golden collar embroidered with pearls, on top of which was a long necklace of gold and silver.

Her arms were bedecked with golden bracelets and bangles, and various bejewelled rings adorned her fingers on both hands. In her right hand was the Prophet-Patriarch's own spear - now a staff -, which he had gifted to Orif when the latter had become a Warrior-Chief, and she was dressed in a loose-fitting, full-sleeve, ankle-length damask robe of many colours, embroidered with various patterns of gold brocade. On her feet she wore an embroidered shoe with a metal point. A separate, cloak-like garment of many colours, was wrapped about her arm and waste.

She strode neither too quickly nor too slowly across the great room, and she was neither too aloof - looking upon all present and making eye contact - nor was she too familiar - maintaining an altogether stern visage. Climbing the steps to her marble throne, she paused. And then with deliberate slowness, she turned and all those present, bar the members of the Highest Council, rose to their feet. The soldiers swiftly fanned out about the throne room, with two taking up positions to the right and left of the Matriarch. She watched everyone with an imperial gaze, and when all were silent and still and hanging their heads in diffidence before the possessor of the world, the Matriarch placed her staff in a long, narrow hole beside her throne and sat down, leaning back and resting her arms on the throne's high armrests.



Glory and Might

She raised her palm upwards and gestured for all those standing to be seated. With that, Seriyn rose and came around before the Matriarch's throne and descended to one knee. The Matriarch Inar gave him her right hand and he kissed its back silently. He then backed away and returned to his seat. Arno came next, managing to rein in his sharp tongue, and silently kissed the back of the Matriarch's hand. He could not quite stand back up on his own - as usual - and the soldier by the Matriarch's right side helped him up. Helping the old man back up had almost become as much a custom as the daily kissing of the Matriarch's hand. Mingin and Devina followed suit, and then when they were returned to their seats the Matriarch's chief attendant stepped forth and declared loudly, with ceremonious sobriety, that the court of the vicegerent of the Moon-Mother on earth, the true and supreme heir of the Chosen of the Moon-Mother, opened its temporal and spiritual gates for the business of the day.

'Matriarch, a messenger arrived this morning from Qari'Ab with further news. We had feared that fighting might erupt once more with Chief Peral's rejection of Chief Fikra's proposal of marriage to the former's daughter. The goddess be thanked, that has not come about. It would appear, however, that Chief Peral has quite recently passed into the mercy of the Moon-Mother.'

Seriyn watched the man delivering the report with a deadpan face - these bureaucratic sorts were always at least a month behind everyone else. It never ceased to surprise him - if the Orifid dynasty depended on their likes for intelligence, it would have perished long ago. 'Would you like us to send a delegate, or a messenger with our commiserations, Matriarch?' The Matriarch shook her head and spoke in a clear, strong, charismatic voice, which nevertheless retained a distinctive femininity that only caused it be the more compelling.

'There will be no need for that, Councillor Haerid, for our messenger departed with our commiserations and returned before the last new moon.' Haerid spluttered an apology before hurrying along to the next piece of news.

'W-we have here a report re-regarding a raiding party of some fifty men who managed to cross our southern border. They made it all the way to Kuysa. The town held, but the nearby fields were ransacked and set aflame. We should compensate the farmers and provide for the town, else it may well starve.' The Matriarch leaned forward, frowning.

'How did Foz-Kiyan allow them to penetrate so deep? Where were the clansmen he promised would protect Kuysa?' Haerid bowed his head low at the Matriarch's display of displeasure.
'M-my Matriarch, Foz-Kiyan and a great number of his people remain in Qari'Ab. We had charged the Alk-Kuy with protecting the border, but they are all - from their youngest to their eldest - paying homage to Chief Fikra during this period.' Inar leaned back in her throne and turned her head towards Seriyn.

'Did Foz-Kiyan seek permission for this? I do not recall allowing it.' Seriyn placed an elbow on one of the Earthen-Beast sculptures and turned to the Matriarch.
'His letter arrived before me long after his people had left for Qari'Ab, Matriarch. I had arranged for you to informed and for a temporary garrison to be established in Kuysa, but our military has of late been busy with ensuring peace in Qari'Ab and the matter of the northern incursions. The number of people from the north who have made for Qari'Ab, the number of soldiers who have taken leave, is enormous. We are faced with a pressing situation. A small raid on Kuysa was, to my mind, the least of our Matriarch's problems.' Inar considered him with kohled brown eyes for a few moments.

'We will speak of this matter in private, Yadillum,' she then turned her head back to Councillor Haerid, 'Councillor, let it be known that a garrison of five-hundred men is to be allocated immediately to Kuysa. Have a strongly-worded letter sent to Foz-Kiyan ordering him to have his people return to their duties. As for him, have him summoned before our court to answer for his disobedience and the threat he has created to the safety of the Realm.' Haerid bowed deeply.

'To hear is to obey, mighty Matriarch,' he then fiddled with the clay tablets in his hands and began to relay further news, but the Matriarch interrupted him tersely.
'Councillor. Go do it now.' Spluttering and nearly dropping the small tablets, he bowed a few times and made a swift exit.

'Matriarch, if I may,' the Lezid chief Mingin spoke up. Inar gestured for him to continue, 'sending a force of five-hundred to Kuysa at this moment will leave us unprotected. Removing them from the north will almost certainly lead to a Jarlid breakthrough. Removing them from Darofid will leave you poorly defended. Removing troops from the east will mean nomadic raids will grow more effective, and we have no troops in the west to speak of. The threat to Kuysa is not immediate - even unprotected, these fifty raiders could not take the town. The Alk-Kuy will return when your command reaches them and Kuysa will be safe once more. There is no need to send any further troops.' Inar brought a finger to her brow and considered Mingin carefully for a good minute. Anyone else would have most certainly grown uncomfortable under the Matriarch's prolonged stare, but Mingin maintained a stoic stillness, his head bowed.

'You are a military man, High Councillor, and your view on these matters is of weight. I agree with you that our forces are spread thin - but not all of them. We have in Qari'Ab a forced approaching five-thousand men!' Her eyes flashed angrily, 'and you speak to me of a shortage. A force of five-hundred will be dispatched from Qari'Ab to support Kuysa, along with the Alk-Kuy, and a further force of two-thousand will be dispatched north to ease the situation against the Jarlid forces.' Mingin frowned deeply, his disagreement with these decisions clear, but it was Seriyn who spoke.

'Matriarch, there is no need to rush to these decisions. The situation in Qari'Ab will soon ease and we will be able to safely move troops out then. Moving the-'
'What do you fear in Qari'Ab, Yadillum - two newly-weds?' Seriyn pursed his lips immediately and leaned back in his throne, loosing a breath. This woman was a nightmare.
'Of course not, Matriarch. I have no doubts whatsoever about the good-intentions of our Zekrid cousins. It's not like their heresies condemn our dynasty only a little less than it does the Palowids,' and here he leaned back forward and turned to face Inar, 'we can never be too careful with those who have their eyes on your throne, Matriarch. Let us leave the garrison at Qari'Ab as it is and, with the Moon-Mother's aid, this entire affair will pass without any upsets.' Inar sighed and looked at Seriyn for a few moments.

'Very well. We will refrain from sending an extra garrison to Kuysa. But my word on the matter of reinforcing our northern border stands. Whether our Zekrid cousins pose a threat is debatable, but the threat the Jarlids pose is undeniable.' And with her decree established, the Matriarch sat back in her marble throne. A jittery old man rose and came before her, and she smiled slightly.

'Ah, I see you're back again today, Arka,' the Matriarch chuckled.

***


The scarred Isken Bikama looked over the small tablet that had reached him, his forbidding grey eyes showing little emotion as he read over it, then reread. Dropping the tablet on the ground and crushing it underfoot, he closed his eyes and brought two fingers to his scarred brow and rubbed, grumbling something unintelligible under his breath. He wondered if it would be wise to inform the Patriarch of the news that had reached him, but on considering it he determined that the details could be foregone. Time was of the essence.

Getting an agent into the Yadillum's circle had been amongst the most difficult endeavours - for the man was scrupulous about who he employed, and there was little in the realm that he did not already know - so vast was his network of spies. It had been a delicate operation, and he was well-aware that it may have never succeeded - that even now he was merely playing to the man's tune - or that at any moment all would be revealed. But it had been for moments such as these that Bikama had decided to infiltrate the man's circles.

Speaking with a few of his men, he commanded them to organise an armed group of Damids and establish a permanent protective force for both the Patriach and his promised wife. Though Bikama trusted them all, he did not give any reasons beyond the high number of people in Qari'Ab and the increased risk that a crazed person may do something unexpected. 'Under no circumstances must either of them be unwatched, do you understand me? Day or night, wherever they are and whatever they are doing.'

Not long thereafter he found Fikra at the shrine of the Prophet-Patriarch, swamped by supplicants. The grey-eyed Damid chief watched the crowd as it ebbed and flowed, and eventually caught the Patriarch's eye. Bikama was not an overly spiritual man, visiting shrines and displays of worship and devotion simply did not come naturally to him. Certainly, he believed in the Moon-Mother and was loyal to his Patriarch, but he had never understood and had little patience for this level of fawning. Fikra had seen this in the man, and finding him at the shrine left little doubt in the Patriarch's mind that the Isken required him for some matter.

He began to move, and the crowd immediately parted before him, and he was soon walking beside Bikama. 'Patriarch,' the man said with his usual business-like brevity.
'Isken,' Fikra responded.
'I have become privy to certain intelligence which calls for a meeting between us and your bride.' A supplicant approached Fikra suddenly, hands extended, causing Bikama to instinctively grab the stranger's arm and hold it away from the Patriarch. He quickly saw, however, that the man was empty-handed. Fikra maintained his disinterested expression and took the somewhat surprised supplicant's hands as Bikama released him. The little man babbled something to Fikra that Bikama did not quite catch, busy as he was watching the impossible number of people around them. Once he was done with that man, they continued walking through the crowds, Fikra keeping one hand extended for supplicants to touch or attempt to kiss. How Fikra could do so, and how the fanatics managed to maintain enough discipline not to grab him and tear him apart in their bid to touch him, Bikama could not understand.

'I take it that this intelligence that has reached you does not bode well for us,' Fikra finally responded.
'It would be best to speak in private, Patriarch.' Bikama said, eyeing the hundreds of people around him.
'We are easily overheard in an empty room, but here, surrounded by those who love us and the din of ten-thousand voices, we are safest of all,' came Fikra's response. Bikama could see the reasoning, but he did not agree. Crowds like these were the perfect hiding place for would-be-assassins. A swift strike from an unseen hand was all it would take, and the culprit would never be found.
'I would place my trust and your safety on walls and mud, Patriarch.' Bikama said.
'Indeed you would, Isken, for you are a military man. Come, let us call upon Fihriyi.' And so saying they made their way towards Fihriyi's home and were greeted at the door by a slave-girl who informed them that the Matriarch was visiting relative and would not be back for some hours.

'Go to her,' Bikama commanded, 'and inform her that the Patriarch is extremely concerned about the colour of her wedding gown and wishes to speak with her about it.' Fikra did not bat an eye, though it was the first he had heard of it, and though the slave-girl seemed perplexed at how this could of any importance at all, she nevertheless invited them in and bid them wait while she rushed to inform her mistress.

'What is it that has reached you, Isken, and requires so much secrecy?' The Patriarch finally asked when they were alone.
'The Matriarch Fihriyi is in grave danger, and you may well be also. There are those, it would appear, who are not pleased at the prospect of this union.' Fikra looked down and nodded.
'Of course there are. It is only to be expected. Indignant zealots perhaps? Those who wish for a return to violence?' Bikama pursed his lips and shrugged.

'It is not important who, only that it is so.' Fikra considered Bikama for a few seconds.
'How is it that this information came to you, Isken?' Bikama looked away.
'The how of it is not important, Patriarch, only that it came. There are many who conceive of you as a threat, and so it is important that measures are taken to be well-informed of the activities of one's rivals.' Fikra was quiet at these words, leaning back against the wall and looking up.
'And so we resolve one conflict only for a thousand other conflicts and threats to emerge from the cracks.' Bikama nodded.

'It is always so, Patriarch. Never think to bring all conflict to an end - wherever there is life there is struggle.' Fikra sighed.
'I will be content to meet our mother Elysium knowing I leave behind me one conflict less.' He was silent for some time, and Bikama saw fit to say nothing. 'In what form will this danger you speak of come?' He finally broke the silence.
'Yadanites.' The Damid chief said simply. 'They will neither be dissuaded by threat or reward, fanatics that they are. Our only line of defence is to protect you both at all times. You must limit your ventures and all unnecessary contact with the people. You must not sleep in one location always - perhaps it would be best to leave Qari'Ab entirely for the foreseeable future.' Fikra closed his eyes and shook his head.

'Limiting my contact with the people is impossible - unless you wish to forcibly keep them from me, which I could never permit. As for leaving Qari'Ab - staying temporarily in any other town will only serve to delay a Yadanite strike, and we are only more vulnerable in strange places, especially when all our followers are here in Qari'Ab.'

'You misunderstand me, Patriarch. I do not say leave Qari'Ab for another town. The mountains and hills have many caves, easily defendable locations from which you can easily come and go to Qari'Ab. Anyone who approaches will be immediately spotted, and even if these Yadanites know where in the mountains you are staying they will never be able to get through.' Fikra shook his head again.
'This will only serve to notify whoever has sent them against us that we know - and surely that would place your agents in danger, Isken, would it not.' It was Bikama's turn to shake his head this time.
'No, something like this is easily justified. We could, for instance, declare that due to the coming historical union between them, the Matriarch and Patriarch wished to retreat to the mountains and worship the goddess together and seek guidance as to how best to serve the needs of their respective communities. Or something to that effect.' Fikra considered Bikama for a while, his forbidding eyes boring into the veteran. Yet the battle-scarred Bikama had seen over a hundred battles and gazed into the eyes of death more times than could be counted, the eyes of a man - even so hard-eyed a Patriarch as Fikra - had long ceased to faze him.

'You are rather adept at quickly formulating lies, Isken,' it was almost an accusation. Bikama's grey eyes shifted to Fikra swiftly.
'War is deception, Patriarch. Our foes do not perceive that we perceive them, they think us unprepared though we are in truth prepared. They believe they have the element of surprise, and they will still think they do once you move - they may even think they have you trapped in a secluded place, and it will make them careless while we are in every way scrupulous. The Yadanites who assemble against us are mighty, and so we must evade them, wear them down slowly, cause them to become divided amongst themselves as their endeavours meet with failure after failure. And, all the while seeming oblivious, do all that they did not foresee. These "lies" you point out - as though to question my loyalty - are the fruit of bitter experience, of wounds,' and here he touched his disfigured face, 'that a scholarly man like you cannot comprehend. You may condemn these tactics all you like, Patriarch, but this is how the Bato-Elyds - and all you seek to build - will survive.' Fikra had clearly touched a nerve, for Bikama had never deigned to speak so defensively before.

'I did not accuse or condemn you, Isken. You are right, war is deception. I can only be glad that you are by my side. My father, during his time, was approached by various Yadanite orders that professed utter loyalty and pledged themselves to his service; he thanked them for their loyalty but kept them at bay. And now many of them have come to me, pledging allegiance and professing undying loyalty. Like my father I thanked them but had intended to likewise keep them at bay. Perhaps... well, do you think there can be use for them, to further your purposes.' Bikama seemed somewhat surprised at Fikra's apparent openness to use of military tactics in protecting the Patriarchate, and when he overcame his surprise he smiled slightly.

'These militant Yadanites are a double-edged sword. They are privy to knowledge and magicks that make them a boon, but those that hold to a creed hostile to the Orifids are heavily suppressed and actively hunted. Association with them will almost certainly see the wrath of the Matriarch at Darofid directed towards you.'
'Hmm, I see. So it is safest to follow in the footsteps of my father on this matter.'
'Not necessarily,' Bikama said with a knowing look, 'direct them to someone you trust, someone discreet. Have this person report to me, and we will see to making use of them. I doubt they will prove immediately useful, but perhaps in future.' The Patriarch nodded, and he found that the grinning visage of his old aunt Ely suddenly sprang into his mind.

Moments later the door of the abode opened and the voice of the slave-girl sounded, 'they are waiting through here, Matriarch,' and Fihriyi appeared at the entrance to the large room.
'Thank you Sira,' Fihriyi said with a small smile. She eyed the scarred Bikama for a few moments and looked questioningly to Fikra - something told her this was about something more than wedding gowns (in all truth, her immediate reaction to being called urgently for such a matter was that it was downright foolish). 'Here, take this and go find yourself something pretty to wear for the wedding,' and she handed the slave-girl a small pouch of Orif-Figs. The little slave-girl squealed in delight, thanked her mistress, and rushed off. With that, the Matriarch entered the room and took a seat by Fikra.

'I am sorry for calling on you at such short notice, Fihriyi,' Fikra said, 'but a matter of some urgency has arisen.' Fihriyi chuckled at this.
'While this matter of wedding gowns seemed *exceptionally* urgent to my mind, something tells me that that isn't what this is about.'
'No, Matriarch, it is not,' Bikama spoke, 'we have uncovered a plot to have you murdered.'
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