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The Nightmare is Born


Terror, unending horror, the cries of those damned, the sounds of the end times, of suffering, of an absolute nightmare. To a long forgotten thing, long stuck deep within the now shattering earth, it was a wake up call that was true music to its ears. Its fragmented consciousness began to search and think, it was stuck, somewhere, they in truth didn’t know, they had no memories before.

Yet, it could not help but bring its mind away from where it was, and to what they could sense high above them, that fear and terror, the nightmare above, it made them so, so, hungry. It needed to get out of here, no matter what it was, it needed to get to those sweet feelings that pounded throughout their shattered thoughts.

But, it found its body unresponsive, or well, what it assumed its body was, the broken fragments it could sense all around it must be its body, right? Surely. No matter, it needed it all back together, and so it willed the fragments to move, to fuse, to fix themselves. Bones snapped back into place, fusing themselves with bits of metal when there were not enough, welding themselves together. Flesh, some fused with ancient metal, wretched itself around, covering the bones and metal, twisting wires and veins into one unit, stitching together with intense scars and wounds, though whether they were old or new was a different matter. Chitin, covered in ancient fungus and moss, wormed itself upon the incomplete hands, forming vicious claws, and worked itself into a long, bladed tail. Wings, broken and bent in the small confinement, attached themselves to metallic-boney ports.

It was still incomplete, but it would do.

The being began to dig, its claws working quickly against the dirt that surrounded them, they began to ascend, following the sounds that fueled its now unending hunger. The earth tore away in front of it, climbing, climbing, hunger increased, it had to feed, it had to feed. It had to make them suffer.




Alzria broke free from the earth, her chitin covered arms bringing up her corpse-like form, her wings could finally outstretch, her tail swished around behind her, though her legs nearly gave out beneath her, not used to the sensation of walking. She took in her surroundings, a cavern stood in front of her, stretching off into the distance, most likely towards its entrance, and rising high above her towards the ceiling.

Just a small distance in front of her, stood a small pool, in its center she could see water from below coming up to the surface, likely some aquifer keeping it supplied, though for how long she didn’t know. What more concerned her were the beings that shifted about just at its edge, they were nothing like she had seen before, though, they were in truth the first thing she had seen. They were nearly small, nearly transparent, and seemed to have forms that held no real shape as they moved slowly around the edge of the pool. In the back of her mind, Alzria felt a name emerge for them: Slimes.

She slowly drew towards them, they were clearly afraid, she could feel that, even with their admittingly simple minds, but yet, they did not seek to run, seemingly content to merely notice her presence. When she reached them, she sat herself down next to them, bringing her arm to the closest one, slowly petting its strange form carefully. Deep within her mind, another sensation came to her, a desire to protect, a desire to guide, these were, her children. She continued to pet the slime, its kin slowly coming close upon seeing that she was not a threat, gaining themselves pets and comfort, Alzria could tell they had come here for safety, to avoid the fear and terror she could sense above.

She did wish she could stay, but, once more the back of her mind told her she had a job to do. Slowly she rose, setting down the slimes and giving them a few pats, promising them she would be back. Directing herself towards the entrance, she continued to walk, her bones and flesh continuing to creak and groan at the strain, yet never giving out. Soon, she began to ascend once more, rising through the cavern entrance, drawing closer to the noise and terror.

Finally, she reached the surface, a shattered, broken, surface, its landscape broken. Alzria herself stood at the side of a mountain, not high up, but still a good distance from the horrid lands below. All around her she felt the terror and fear, the nightmares, the feast. Yet, she could not gorge upon them just yet, she had another job to do. The slimes down there were not the only ones she had to protect, no, there were others.

She had children to save.




certainly interested in joining up once more
Act Three, Scene Four: The Hunt Begins


The air was cold, wind roared as it whipped across the blasted landscape, there was no comfort here, there wasn’t even snow, only pure ice and frost. Up here, at the edge of the known world, so far north, ten people had gathered, they were fanatics, the most zealous of those of the North God, they had been summoned here by the voices of the wind and had journeyed through the vast and deadly wastes, all in the name of their god.

Now, amidst the blasted ice and fierce winds, they stood, gathered around in a circle. In the center they had etched a large circle and strange runes as best they could with their bone and stone tools. There, layed in the circle, was a woman, a weike woman, they knew not her name, only that Sikká, their leader, had brought her after capturing her some time ago. They had no need to know her anyway, she would not last long, even if she escaped.

The woman was bound, her legs and arms tied together and to each other by ropes, her mouth and eyes covered by a sack. She was unconscious, to make sure she wouldn’t cause any problems, if she struggled it would take too long, and the North God was never patient.

Sikká stepped forward, she let the darkened hood fall back, revealing her face. It was adorned with choppy, self cut black hair, she was in all instances beautiful with her features and her eyes were a loving blue, but the right side of her face was adorned with a massive burn scar, ensuring only one eye worked, and her old beauty had vanished. No one knew how Sikká obtained this scar, and none of them had dared to ask, for fear of her wrath.

She raised her hand, enforcing the silence that had washed over the gathered cultits, and she slowly spoke.

“Brothers, and sisters,” She began, her voice determined and loud over the sweeping winds, as if almost being carried by it. “Our god, has summoned us here, and today, we shall show our devotion, to the wilds.”

She reached into her outfit, pulling forth a stone dagger, sharpened to a harsh point. She stepped forward, beginning to sing a chant to the North God. The others soon joined, their voices merging with the rushing wind, forming a chorus only the far north would love.

The woman, bound in the circle, began to stir, the noise awakening her. She began to trash around, trying desperately to escape her bindings, but Sikká immediately was upon her, pinning her unto the ground with her own body and weight. Raising the dagger and bringing it down over and over again, blood flying and bones snapping, the chorus only grew as the sacrifice was made, with Sikká singing the loudest.

Soon, the woman fell silent, the life leaving her, the cultists continued to chant as the winds roared and roared and roared. Then suddenly stopped. The cultists, like clockwork, fell silent, their movements stopping almost immediately, even Sikká froze, the dagger raised in the air. They stood there, waiting, and waiting.

Then the voice came.

”While I personally would have prefered, more theatrics, I must say Sikká.” The voice drew close, as if that who bore it was right up against her ears. ”Killing one who you love, is always a way to get my attention.”

The other cultists stood there, silent, daring not to speak up, knowing they would take this to their grave. Sikká merely knelt there, her arms falling to her sides, dagger still in hand.

”To think, they trusted you with everything, even their love, guess that was misplaced, you really, broke their heart.”

Sikká sat there as the wind began to pick up once more, the snow began to collect, forming together into a tall, thin figure, with gangly arms and a faceless head and twisted antlers. Their arm slowly took Sikká’s head in its hand, turning it upwards to look at the figure that now stood behind them.

”Tell me Sikká, are you loyal to me?”

“Yes...yes my lord” she sputtered out, the others could see the formation of tears upon her face. But the figure took its other hand, and wiped them away.

”Come now my dear, there’s no reason to cry,” Their face drew closer to hers, stopping mere inches away from it. ”Afterall, you are such a devoted servant of mine are you not?”

“Of...of course, i’ve gathered them all here, for you my lord.” She stared up at the being with her eyes wide open, the dagger falling from her hand as she brought her arms up towards it. Slowly trying to clasp them upon the being’s own face, but her fingers failed to grasp solid ground. Merely falling through the swirl of snow that made it up. Falling limp through the whirling horror and landing at her sides once more.

A chuckle came from the horned god, echoing throughout the vast northern wilds that surrounded them. Their hands left the sides of Sikká’s head, their lanky body standing up straight as they let the woman fall forward to face the body that lay in front of her. Their head turned to the others gathered there, and they slowly walked the ring of cultists, their hollow and formless head gazing deep into each one of their souls. The cultists stood stone still, fearing what their god would do.

”And tell me,” They spoke. ”Are they all loyal to me as well? I would, hate to have someone not as devoted as you amongst these ranks.” They stopped and stared at one of the cultists, the empty face matching his eyes, he stood still though, not wavering, and soon the god continued.

“Of course my lord!” Sikká spoke up, her head raising once more to look upon her savior. “They have followed me to the ends of the world for you! They are devoted to the path of the North!” She slowly rose, her eyes were wild, this was her dream, her life's work, as it was for many of the cultists gathered.

The god stopped upon the last cultist within the circle, slowly, their hand extended outward, a single finger touching the cultist’s chin, bringing it upward, staring at the man’s face hidden beneath the cloak. For a while they stood there, the other cultists holding their breath as Sikká slowly drew forward, her legs shaking as she did.

Finally, they spoke ”Are, you sure my dear?” In a flash, they had grabbed the lone cultist by the throat, tossing them towards the center of the circle where the dead woman laid. He landed with a thud, the sound of cracking bones sounded out amongst the howling wind. The god glided back towards the center, soon towering over the collapsed form of the cultist, who now clutched his side in pain. The other cultists had looks of fear upon their faces, some falling to their knees muttering prayers. Sikká stood silent, her face fallen into a mixture of fear and sadness, her life’s work now hung on a precipice, she knew the North God hated false devotion, this could ruin her.

For a moment, the god merely stood there, watching the cultist writhe in pain upon the cold stone ground. Then, they slowly lifted their left arm, palm up, towards Sikká. ”Come here my dear Sikká, I have something for you.”

A part of her mind told her not to, to run, to leave this all behind, but she knew she was in too deep. And so, she stepped forward, taking the gods hand with her own. The North God guided her forward, soon she too was standing above the cultist. Then, they guided her to kneel, soon both of their arms taking hers, one by her hand, another by her elbow. Its face was mere inches from hers, both now kneeling closer to the broken man. Those cultists who were not begging forgiveness watched on, hoping this would be the redemption they now sought.

”Sikká...do you trust me?”The god asked, its voice harsh and cold, its jauntyness gone, Sikká knew she only had one answer.

“Yes”

A burning pain soared through her arm, no, not burning, freezing. Its pain was not hot, but cold, it emitted from the God’s hands upon her arm, and crept rapidly up her arms into the rest of her body, she couldn’t help but utter a scream.

The Frozen God kept their hands upon her arm, slowly guiding it forward, clasping it upon the throat of the cultist, his body too broken to fight back. She felt an otherworldly force tighten her fingers around his neck, he gasped and sputtered, fighting back the inevitable.

Then, more screams began, she turned her head upwards, towards the other cultists, who too writhed in pain, some throwing off their cloaks or just fallen to the ground. Then, their forms began to change. Their skin began to turn an icy blue, starting up from their arms and slowly creeping throughout their body, the men sprouted antlers from their heads, and shaggy white hair grew across their body as their faces grew elongated, reindeer like but full of teeth. The women had their hair turn a light blue, their eyes glowed with a bluish energy as spikes of ice began to sprout and grow upon their skin. All had their legs twist and bend, becoming deer like. Covered in white or light blue fur.

As she choked the life out of the cultist, Sikká too began to change, like the others her skin turned blue from where the North God held onto her arm, but she gained her own special changes. Her black hair turned pure white, her one good eye twisted into that of a predator’s with that same bluish glow. Antlers too broke from her head, but they were twisted and malformed, akin to that that stood upon the North God’s head, her mouth filled with sharp teeth. Her legs too twisted into that of a deers, but adorned with a mixture of white and blue fur. And finally, the burnt side of her face erupted with a freezing blue fire, twisting and clinging to her skin, it did not burn her, instead, it felt almost comforting in its cold form.

As Sikká took in her new form as it crept across her, she heard the sudden snapping of bones and gurgling screams. Her gaze shot downward towards the cultist. Her hand had kept its grip upon him, but now, his form was changing as well, spreading outward from his neck, his skin began to become a sickly pale, his eyes had turned black and his hair fell by the clumps out of his hair, his arms and torso twisted and contorted into strange ways, only held down by her knee that had been placed upon his chest. He gurgled and spat, trying desperately to free his neck of her grip.

“What...what is happening?” She asked, her voice wavering in the face of the changes.

”For your loyalty,” The god whispered into her ear ”you and the others are gaining my gifts, new more, appropriate forms, and some lovely powers...as for the traitor, he is, seeing the fruits of your loyalty.”

The man continued to twist and corrupt, eventually, his form twisted to that beyond of any human, his arms now separated into two at the elbow, his legs had scattered, becoming spider like of multiple flailing limbs, his skin flaked off, showing a hard chitin underneath, and his force twisted into a horrifying amalgamation of flesh, chitin, and bones.

Sikká could handle this no longer, mustering up all her strength she twisted her hand and the neck underneath, hearing the cracking of bone and flesh as she snapped it. The creature flailed one last time, before falling limp. She took heavy breaths, her fellow cultists gathering their strength after their own transformations. She looked up towards the North God, readying to ask more questions, but, she saw nothing, the form of ice and snow had vanished, leaving only the howling winds.

She stood, taking a moment to understand her new form, her legs wobbled for a bit and she felt as if the energy had been sucked out of her, but one of the female cultists quickly came and aided her, helping her keep her balance. Sikká took stock of the others, they all seemed fine, beyond the two corpses that now sat in the center. They all stood in shock, soon enough they gathered together in a closer circle, the two female cultists aiding their leader in keeping herself upright. They looked at her, awaiting her instructions.

Before she could speak, they heard another howl, not of the wind, but of beasts. They turned behind them, seeing beyond the cliff they stood upon three chariots, adorned in a light blue paint scheme, with ice scattered around their hulls, looking as if they had been stored in the frozen north for ages. Pulling them were four massive white wolves each, one of them the source of the howl that had drawn them. They could also see piles of weapons with a brown like colouring to them alongside the chariots.

Sikká stood, her two companions aiding her towards the chariots, the wolves merely sat, staring up at her with their icey blue eyes, within the central chariot, adorned with the antlers of an elk at the front, she saw a pale white horn, an icey covering to it. She slowly picked it up, taking it in her hands.

“What...do we do now?” One of her cultists asked, taking stock of the other chariots, with others testing the weapons they had been gifted.

She thought for a moment, feeling a deep calling within her, the North God had gifted them their boon, and now, they must play their tune.

“Simple, we begin our hunt.”

The wind howled as the sounds of chariots sent off into the night. The Hunt had begun.




These lands were no good, thought the great beast as he slowly lumbered through the forests and hills. He had come for feast, yet instead he had come across two types of winged flesh and nothing but armed soldiers who had no desire to become his next meal. Whatever reason the North God had for sending him down here was obviously a fluke.

His stomach grumbled, it had been long since he had had a good taste of flesh, having to sustain himself on elk and other animals, and he could see the sun lower in the sky, he would have to set camp, and find himself more meat to consume.

He found a nice clearing, hidden behind a mighty hill, this would do. He let his pack fall off his shoulders and crumble to the ground, gathering rocks and twigs to start a fire once he returned. With it all set, he grabbed his scythe, and set off, following the distant scent of meat.

Normally, a hunter would try to find tracks to hunt their prey, but he did not require it, all he had to do was follow the scent, and it would lead him to it soon enough. His cloven hooves softly passed through the underbrush as his head lay low, his mighty antlers looking almost like branches of a tree, providing him some slight camouflage. He had done this so many times before, it had become natural.

Yet this time, as he drew closer, he picked up upon other scents, different this time, that...of flesh, it nearly drove him into a frenzy, the sweet and mouth watering scent that only grew stronger as he came closer, this could be the feast he was hoping for. He came upon them soon enough, humans, five of them, gathered around a deer, it would’ve been perfect, yet, the Hunter only grew disappointed.

These humans were armed well, even worse, they were thin, starved looking, like those back in that accursed city. Why could he only find the flesh that was bad? They weren’t that good when they were thin, too stringy and they got caught in his teeth too much. As he knelt in the brush, staring at the humans, he soon realized, he recognized them, their armor and faces were familiar. They were those, boar things, whatever they were called, he had seen them flee when those bright winged flesh arrived in the city. Perhaps, this was a far better calling.

He rose, coming to his full height that easily towered over the humans, and walked forward, he didn’t bother trying not to appear threatening, his form made that impossible.

”I...am pleasantly surprised to see...some of you...survived.” He spoke, his voice harsh and deep as always, echoing off the trees and reaching deep into the forest itself.

The roamers turned to face the monster and immediately hunkered down to their knees in pleading. They looked weak and frostbitten, the winter having eaten away at them like an omnipresent vulture. “Great… Great hunter… We had to run… Forgive us - we had to run to avoid the axe.” The speaker gasped for breath. “Please,” he whispered weakly. “Please - do you have anything we can eat? We, we are starving.”

“Dying,” someone added weakly.

The beast sighed ”I fault you not for running away...a true hunter knows when to fight...i did the same...as for food” He raised his head, sniffing the air, he could smell other deer off in the distance. ”I do not have any with me...but I smell others in the distance.” He lowered his head, staring at the starving men ”Are you all who...escaped?”

The strongest among the survivors looked at his four companions and nodded slowly. “Ragnar died in the snow… Parix remained in Ha-Dûna and, to our knowledge, probably got the axe.”

“Aye, got the axe…”

“This is all of us, then,” the man confessed sadly. “But you said there was food?”

The hunter nodded ”Yes...to our north,” He bent down and grabbed the dead deer in front of them, despite its size, it wouldn’t be enough ”Let us
go get some more, then, we can return to my camp, so i may gather my pack”


The men salivated at the deer. “Can we eat this first?”

A low rumble emitted from the Hunter ”You...wish to eat it….now?”

“Please! We haven’t eaten for days! Just a small bite - that’s all we need! C-Coner here’s barely moving anymore!” The man known as Coner was lying on the lap of one of the other men, his cheeks red hot with fever and his breath weak and ragged.

The hunter nodded ”Very well.” He slowly put the deer back down, before raising his scythe, and cutting off chunks of flesh from the deer and handing the pieces to the men, with the weakest members getting flesh first, with the hunter himself taking the smallest pieces just to sate him over. The men ate the flesh with desperate haste, barely even gagging at its raw and untreated texture. Blood caked their faces and they showed only increased appetite as they consumed more and more. When they had finished, the colour had returned to their faces, though it was hard to tell whether that was the blood or themselves.

“Thank you, great hunter.” The men all bowed and knelt in respect. “Please, let us repay you how we may. You said you had a pack, yes? Let us join you - we will follow you gladly.”

The hunter thought for some time, allowing the men to eat from the flesh first, before finally speaking. ”I see...no reason to deny you that...I will welcome followers...we can survive longer if we stick together.”

“Then take us to more food, great hunter!”

The Hunter nodded ”Follow me, keep your heads and bodies low, follow my lead, and do not strike until I command.” With that, the hunter led the merry band northward, his massive form once more vanishing amongst the underbrush. The Boars followed suit, their weapons kept close to their chests and forms, trying their best to emulate the great beast in front of them, though it was still clear the frost and hunger had limited their capabilities.

They crept for some time, the Hunter often stopping to check the scent and allow the others to catch up. Soon enough, they finally came upon some more deer, grazing over some frosted grass, it was a herd, far more than they could ever kill, but, if their luck was enough, they could get enough to sustain them longer.

He gazed back upon the boars, and gestured to one of them with a spear, before whispering softly ”Your spear is the most adept at range...on my command...chuck it at that one.” He pointed towards one of the outer deer ”Then...you and the others shall focus on that one with your other weapons...if you kill it, try your best to kill another one, but stick together...I will focus myself on those...and kill as many as I can before they run...do not try to follow them once they do...that will only lose you energy.” He waited a moment for confirmation from the Boars, before motioning for them to get ready.

For a brief moment they knelt amongst the brush, waiting for the right moment, the boar with the spear had it readied, gazing at the hunter with the side of his eye to ensure he would hit the target when the time came. There was a brief silence, then, the Hunter raised his hand, and quickly closed it into a fist. The boar chucked the spear, landing it straight into the chest of the deer, causing it to collapse rapidly, now they had to act fast.

The Boars rushed forward, one quickly planting his axe into the deer’s skull to ensure the kill, the Hunter meanwhile almost leaped from his spot, his massive scythe whirling in a fury of death, slashing a deer across the chest before implanting itself into them. Letting go of his grip upon his weapon, he then pounced upon another one, his maw of teeth ripping into its throat as he grabbed a hold of its head.

By the time the blood had stopped flowing and gushing, the other deer were gone, rapidly vanishing into the distance. The hunter held the mangled corpse of one in his hands, another had his scythe embedded into its rips, and the Boars gathered around another, their willpower just barely keeping them from digging in immediately.

”I must say” The hunter spoke, his mouth caked in blood ”You did well...for yourself.”

“Hunting is nothing new to a Dûnan!” boasted one of them bravely while one of the others ran to collect a misthrown spear.

The hunter chuckled ”Good, that is something that will keep us alive longer, now, let us head back to my camp” He retrieved his scythe, before lifting the two deer to carry, aided by one of them missing most of anything above its neck. ”Tell me,” He spoke as he let them gather their deer ”I am unversed with these lands...is there a land we could...find refuge within? Not held by those, heretics...as you call them.”

The Boars exchanged frowns and began surveying the area. The snow made it hard to distinguish rise from rise, cliff from cliff. Green, colourful meadows and distant fields were now hidden underneath endless sheets of white, intermittently broken by piercing rocks or frozen woods. Suddenly, though, one of the paladins whooped in realisation and pointed southwards. “We raided a village close by - I recognise those woods over there. There should still be some buildings intact where we can shelter ourselves.”

The hunter nodded “That...is better than nothing...let us head there...once we have reached my camp.”[/color] He motioned for the paladin to march alongside him, so he could keep track of where they were. The snows proved challenging to traverse, cliffs often being hidden underneath misleadingly broad edges, and heads hiding great shrubs that proved all too easy to trip over.

“Bah! By Vanda, curse this cold!” had Coner shouted.

“Shut up, Coner - your whining only makes it worse.”

“Oh, you’re having a bad time? Why don’t you give those mittens to me, Mack, and we’ll see how cold it is!”

“My wife gave me these!”

“Oh, yeah, we know - you only brag about her every night.”

“You two - be quiet!” said the Boar at the front and knelt down, dusting the snow off a boulder peeking out of the snow. The boulder was inscribed with the now-outdated Ketrefan script employed by the druids of the Long Stride until very recently. Behind him, Mack and Coner were being pulled apart by the other two Boars. The man by the stone, Sedrick, stood back up. “‘Ha-Leothe’…” he mumbled. “I remember this place.”

“Aye - we had a good few runs here before that whore Boudicca showed up,” muttered Coner and spat at the snow. The village down in the valley ahead of them was little more than frosted ruins still untouched since they had been abandoned. Sedrick rose and turned to the Hunter.

“We have arrived, great one.”

He nodded ”Let us find the most intact house...we can hole up here for a time.” He let the one called Sedrick take point, while he continued to speak to the others ”So you two...are Mack and Coner...who are the others?” He motioned at the two boars he had not heard the names of yet.

“Knut,” said one with an unshaven chin and a thick, bushy mustache.

“Vegard, great hunter,” said the other, barely old enough to grow any form of facial hair - at least, he carried such an appearance about him. He seemed as rugged as the others, however.

The hunter nodded ”A...pleasure to meet...you all, and you need not refer to me as...great hunter.”

“Then what shall we call you?” asked Sedrick.

The hunter thought for a brief moment, his mind delving back into old thoughts "You...may call me...Azen...that is...was...my name...long before I became what...I am"

The Boars exchanged concerned glances. Around them, the skeletons and corpses of buildings and homes formed a gravelike backdrop to their conversation. “What were you before, Azen?” Vegard whispered warily.

Azen chuckled "I was...much like you...then...I met the North God...They...gifted me with what I am today...They are also the reason I am here.”

“What’s ‘the North God’?” asked Coner.

“You mean -who’s- the North God, boar-brains! Be respectful!” retorted Mack.

“I’ll respect your face!” snapped Coner back, his fists tightening.

“Shut up, you two!” Sedrick suddenly burst out as he stopped and looked around. The other men did the same, trying to pinpoint exactly what Sedrick had stopped them for.

“What--”

“Ssh! Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

There was nothing - at least, nothing that shouldn’t be there. The silence around them was almost too perfect, as though something was doing its best to hide the true nature of the ruins from the party. Azen’s gaze quickly began to scan the village, trying to discern any scent or notice anything that may suggest trouble was afoot. Something was definitely off, he could sense it.

”There is something here,” he whispered ”Keep...your guard up...form a circle.” The Boars did as they were told and flanked Azen on each side in two crescents.

“Oh, my, my! Guests, at last!” came a voice like satin and out from behind a broken barn came a black-winged man. From other corners of the hamlet around them, several more like him appeared. The man ushered forth a deep, mocking laughter before he choked on it. “No…”

Coner squinted. “Hey, wait a bit… Isn’t that--”

“I thought we had finally left you behind for good,” groaned Annihilari upon seeing the Hunter. The other Neiyari lowered their weapons in a moping manner.

Azen couldn’t help but laugh, his deep voice ringing out through the village, ”Winged flesh!” He proclaimed, his arm wielding the scythe extended in some jubilation ”It is good to see you again!...I thought for sure...your golden cousins would’ve...gotten you by now.”

“Alright, keep your distance, bone man,” hissed the angel and shoved the air before him. “That was a close call - too close. It was only by the grace of Neiya that we managed to escape. I thought for a moment that, that I wouldn’t ever be able to see my precious Aveira again!” Around him, the Neiyari gathered to touch him supportively. “BUT THEN!” snapped the angel leader, “we meet you again - you! Of all things in this land! And you’ve brought the meat sacks with you!”

“Hey!” snapped Coner back.

“Ugh, perfect! A butchered and his slaughter. Why did we even come this way.” Annihilari collapsed into a seat on a broken beam, his face dropping into his hands. The other Neiyari formed a supportive circle around him.

"They are...not my slaughter...they are...my pack." He planted his scythe into the frozen ground "You may...dislike me...but...We are...far better...to meet than your...cousins"

“Anyone’s better than our cousins…” he conceded. “Even you… What’re you doing here?”

"Find shelter...after hunt" he gestured to the deer he carried and the one settled next to the boars "And to...hopefully avoid...being found by enemies.

“Enemies, huh,” Annihilari mused as he looked between himself and his own and them. He then gave a lazy shrug. “Well, none to find here. We’ve settled in in hopes that someone foolish enough would stop by and, well, conveniently carry supplies with them - like people do.” He groaned, joined by some of his companions. “The locals must be itching to resettle their lands.”

Azen shrugged ”They may...be consolidating...hoping to track...each of us down...to ensure their safety.” He pulled out his scythe from the ground, and looked back at the men behind him, then to the Neiyari ”It....may be...beneficial…for all of us...to work together.

“Would you believe me if I said that was -exactly- what I hoped you wouldn’t suggest,” muttered the angel before covering his face with his palm. “Fine. We will… Tag along, I suppose - as long as you can take us to where there is food. We’ll have to wait out the winter, anyway.”

“Why’s that?” asked Coner suspiciously. Annihilari flexed one of his wings and rolled his eyes.

“Ever tried flying through snow storms and icy winds, hmm? Didn’t think so, cretin.”

“Who you callin’ a--?!”

“Coner, don’t. He’ll kill you in a single swing,” warned Sedrick.

“I’d like to see him try.” Before Coner could pull out his small axe, Annihilari had already whipped the snow beside him.

“Wow, I thought you were slow, but this is simply pitiful. I doubt you’d even make a good servant…” The angel retracted his whip and curled it together. “So, we have a deal, bone man?”

He growled softly ”I...would advise...not insulting my men...but...yes...we have a deal.” He motioned for the others to pick up the deer again ”Lets get inside...warm ourselves up...I shall tell you...more of the...North God.” He directed that last portion to the paladins, but made no effort to actually quiet his voice.

The group gathered their stuff and chose one of the more intact houses to stay the night in, ignoring the gaze of their now allies, though it was clear even the Hunter was sceptical of this. They laid their catches down upon the floor of the house, the roof and walls were still intact which was all they needed to keep them safe from the outside. They gathered around the firepit, the Hunter reached into his backpack, pulling out a fire starting rock and metal and, after a few tries, starting up the fire. Both him and the paladins began to slice pieces of the deer off, sticking them onto sticks or their weapons to cook them over the fire.

”Tell me,” The hunter finally spoke after a long period of silence. ”What do you know of the lands to the north?”

“Cold,” said Coner.

“Barren,” voiced Vegard.

“Weird people, I’ve heard,” muttered Knut with a scowl. The Neiyari tucked themselves closer together in the small space, their wings taking up quite a lot of space.

Azen nodded ”All...correct notions...it is a...harsh land...and it is here...that I was born.” He set the scythe down, tearing into a piece of deer before continuing. ”Up there...the winters are harsh….harsher than the lands you know...I doubt even our winged friends could...survive.” He flashed a smile towards Annihilari, as much as a smile as he could form. The Neiyari sneered back in disgust.

”I was...hungry...hoping to find...food...that was...when I met...them...The North God.” He paused for a brief moment, allowing the words to settle in ”Their voice was...harsh and fierce...they...blessed me with what I am now...the ability to survive...and a form...more befitting what I had...become after their....machinations...they sent me here...for reasons I am unsure of...all I know...is that they seek destruction...and chaos...to bring nations to heel...and remind mortals...of their own hubris…” He feel silent, staring at the piece of deer within his claws, seemingly contemplating it.

“Huh. So your master seeks to show mortality its hubristic weaknesses, and so they send a bloodthirsty mutt to, what, kill their game and give them scary stories to tell their children? Colour me unimpressed,” muttered Annihilari.

“What sorta destruction, Azen? Like… Total ruination?” asked Sedrick.

He shrugged ”I am...unsure...they...do no wish to destroy....all of mortality...but...I believe they would...not be opposed...to many dead…” He seemingly paid no mind to the comment of the angel, instead focused on the paladins in front of him.

The Boars looked at one another. “Did, did the god name itself Sigeran, by chance?”

Azen thought for a long time, delving into his mind ”They have...never given me...a name...even the North God is...a name of my own creation...who is this...Sigeran?”

The faces of the Boars got dark. They hardly looked anywhere but the ground, and when they did look elsewhere, it was to stare pleadingly at Sedrick for him to take the fall and explain. He caught the signal and sighed. “Sigeran is our god, for better or worse. His divine grace was all that saved the great conquest of Ha-Dûna some years ago now - our loyalty to him has been paid in blood.” He took a deep breath. “Sigeran is not a kind god, by any stretch - but unlike the Sunmother, the stars and any of those small gods our former kinsmen worship, Sigeran understands strength - what it means to be a killer.” He looked at his companions, who nodded in dedicated agreement. “His blessing is still with us. Even now, we have survived winter weather for longer than any other man has. Ragnar was already wounded when the snows came - Sigeran’s strength never truly faded for us. One day, I pray, the others will come to their senses and realise that our people shouldn’t be slaves to the rules of Hir’s masters. We are the masters of the Highlands, and only Sigeran ever understood this.”

“Preach,” Knut pitched in and bumped him brotherly on the shoulder.

”I see...while...I doubt that this...Sigeran is...the same...I have no doubts...that the North God...would see eye to eye...with this Sigeran…perhaps that...is why i was called...” He paused, before finally turning to the angels ”And what of you?...There is...surely a reason you...still hunker down here...for your...god”

“Oh, we stay because of the exquisite cuisine and beautiful view.”

“Really?” asked Coner.

“No, of course we don’t, you pink ape! The winter’s too cold. We can’t fly back until spring. Trust me - if we could leave, we would. Coming here was a mistake. Of course, those goodie-goodie sunnies would show up. They always do whenever something’s ‘amiss’.” His voice could have soured milk.

Azen chuckled ”Those...of light tend to have...that sort of...timing…” He looked around the gathered assembly ”And...we are all enemies of that light...a semblance...of unity will ensure...we are stronger...against them...but...for now...let us eat...it is getting late…” He let the deer flesh fall into his mouth, chewing, before carving off another piece, and handing it over to Annihilari. The angel sneered, but accepted it, sharing with his kin.

“... A tentative alliance then…” he remarked before biting down.




The Rising Sun


Solkra, 28 A.A

”Cut the Flesh and Snap the Bones!” Voices rang out over the sound of construction. ”Yasho! Yasho! Crack the Skulls and Eat the Lungs! Yasho! Yasho!” Wood and stone were shaped into buildings. ”Break the Legs and Batter the Eyes! Yasho! Yasho!” A chorus formed, fusing voice and work into a steady rhythm. "Fry for a minute and cake in syrup!" A cheer erupted from the workers. Solkra was busy at work.

Skopti watched over the assembled Iskrill as they went about their work, wood and stone was shaped and carved to replace and rebuild the ruins of Solkra, the brutalist ideas of the Iskrill combined with the majestic architecture of the old Solkrans to form a strange mixture that now began to grow amongst the city.

As soon as the Triumvirate took hold of the city, they immediately began to go about reconstructing the city with what little knowledge they had gathered from the old Solkran sources. Skopti, as a Flame, didn’t quite understand the words and ideas conveyed to him by the priesthood and chosen, but, he didn’t need to, he was one of the best warriors of the city, and his only job as to defend it, deal with those who resisted, and go raid the surrounding unmarked realms.

Currently, he just stood watching, keeping an eye on the brood workers going about constructing houses, it was boring work, the workers rarely disobeyed the triumvirate or brood mother’s commands, raiding was far more fun, then he could crack some unmarked skulls and feast upon the rewards, literally and figuratively.

His thoughts were interrupted though by the sound of someone approaching, he turned his gaze towards the noise and saw a messenger Iskrill, clearly detonated by both the insignia of the Triumvirate, three suns overlapping one another, and his long gazelle like legs, from what Skopti recalled these made the Iskrill fast, perfect for carrying messages throughout the city.

“Message from the Triumvirate sir!” The messenger spoke as he bowed. “You have a new assignment, they wish you to take command of a scouting force and go investigate recent rumors of unmarked activity close by the city.”

Skopti chuckled, now this was more like it, though the last bit confused him some “unmarked activity? This close to our lands? Do they not realize where they are?”

The messenger shrugged “We are unsure, whatever it is, the Triumvirate wants you to deal with it”

He gestured to the still singing workers “What of them?”

“Another flame has already been called, he should arrive shortly.”

Skopti nodded, gesturing to the messenger “Lead the way then”

He nodded, and turned back from where he came, taking a slow pace to ensure the bulkking hunter flame could keep up. Leading him through the winding city streets.

The city was alive in some sense, various Iskrill went about their day, they were still getting used to the rigours of the new life brought upon by the Triumvirate. Houses were rebuilt with the wood and stone gathered from beyond the city, flesh supplies were kept up with raids and hunting parties, yet, there were still problems, even Skopti knew that. Flesh was hard to get, always was, but now the Triumvirate wanted more of it, that, that was starting the strain even the Iskrill. Then, there was the problem of metal, the Iskrill have come to understand it, ever since the unmarked had utilized it even, yet, they had little in the way of understanding of how to work it, as the Old Solkran texts stated.

But, none of this was Skopti’s problem, all that was at this moment was this supposed unmarked activity, it wasn’t entirely surprising, those most heinous of the unmarked to the far north had long sought to fight the Iskrill, but, activity this close to the holy city? Now that proved interesting.

Eventually, he was brought to the southern portions of the city walls, one of the first things to have been rebuilt, now manned and guarded by either Flames or normal warriors. In front of Skopti stood his scouting party for the mission, two large hunters akin to him, but, with less advanced equipment than him, mostly armed with just some scraps of cloth and some old metal blades. Then, there were three rather normal Iskrill, they were equipped with more uniform cloth but held only scrap spears, which just tended to be long sticks with random pieces of metal strapped to them, basic, but it worked. Skopti himself wore some old metal armor that actually fit him, and wielded a battered shield and finer metal ax, befitting his rank as a Flame.

The messenger gestured beyond the walls “A hunting party reported the activity to the south, they said they had followed the great river for about a day when they saw the signs, your party already has the supplies for five days, but we recommend go no longer than two days beyond the city walls.”

Skopti nodded, taking in the information, he was sure they could find these Unmarked without using up all those rations, which was good, the less used the better.

Bowing, the fast Iskrill took his leave, bounding off to deliver messages to some other portion of the city. Skopti turned back to the small group in front of him, their faces rather eager to go off hunting the Unmarked, though, it was more likely they were eager to gather some extra rations.

“Well then, let's get going.” He motioned for the party to ready up and set out, they had a long trek ahead of them.




The days travel had been fairly boring, the only true danger this close to the city were those damn serpents that appeared every now and then, they were big yes, but they were often no more than a nuisance to the Iskrill and their hunting parties. But hey, at least their flesh was rather tasty.

Skopti sat at the campfire, chewing upon some of their recently acquired snake flesh. In front of him sat those three common Iskrill, their spears laid against them as they ate, from what Skopti had gathered, they were rather new, recruited into that growing “army” the Triumvirate was gathering, they seemed dedicated though, and he would put a good word for them once this was over.

Meanwhile, the two hunters had been posted as watch, they were naturally adapted to this type of work, and much like Skopti it was likely they were excited to be able to spend some days beyond the city walls. They were brood kin, Skopti could tell that much, most likely of the same batch as they seemed drawn to one another and seemingly were close, a rare sight to see two hunters from the same batch, which Skopti would admit he was glad to have them on this mission.

As if almost called by his thoughts, one of those hunters appeared at the edge of the campfire, having come rather quickly by the slight huffing that emitted from him.

“Flame, we’ve spotted a fire in the distance.” He spoke, gesturing beyond. Craning his head Skopti could indeed see the markings of a fire, it was small, a torch at best, but a fire nonetheless, it seems they had spotted the unmarked.

“Gather your things,” Skopti ordered the others “Keep the fire going but bring the rations, we must have them think we are still at camp.”

The gathered Iskrill nodded, and quickly set to work gathering the supplies, while the two hunters kept their eyes upon the torch, to ensure it did not vanish. Soon enough Skopti led them through the brush, their bodies low to ensure they could not be spotted easily. The fire flickered as they drew closer, yet, not once did it seem to move, Skopti began to grow silently worried, perhaps it was a trap? He motioned for the others to keep their eyes open and weapons at the ready.

But, as they drew closer, the sight of what was carrying the torch shocked Skopti. Far more than a trap or even just a stick planted into the ground.

There, holding the torch aloft, stood, an unmarked? But, they were different, it was a male that Skopti knew and a young one at that, but upon their head were twisted horns akin to that that were upon his own head, portions of their exposed skin were grey and almost scalelike, a common sight amongst some Iskrill broods, and his eyes were yellowish and Iskrill like. It was an unmarked, yet, they held Iskrill traits, what in the name of the All-Father was going on?

For a while, Skopti and his group just knelt there, staring at the being, Skopti had to look back at the others and motion towards them to confirm what he saw was not some kind of fluke. They all saw him, and that being was just, standing there, seemingly staring off towards where their camp had been, holding the torch aloft.

Finally, Skopti reasoned he needed to figure out what was going on, and so he motioned for the others to stay amongst the brush, just in case it was still a trap. Meanwhile Skopti stood, walking towards the strange unmarked at a slow pace, to ensure they were not too frightened at his sudden appearance.

The unmarked jumped at his sudden appearance, but they quickly gathered themselves together, a smile? Almost forming upon their face.

“Finally! One of you showed up.” They spoke, their eyes seemingly glittering as they stared upon the large form of the Iskrill.

“What are you? Why are you here?” Skopti asked, he was still wary of some trap, and hoped to solve this issue quickly.

“Me?” The being fell silent for a moment, staring at one of their arms which was covered in Iskrill like skin “Im, not sure what i am, but, I can tell you why i, and the others are here.”

“Others?” So there were more, like him?

“Yes, others, like me, we all kinda, found each other,” The being began to explain “We were born like this, nobody is quite sure why, but what was certain was that our old villages wanted to kill us, but somehow we survived, and we’ve been traveling for quite some time, until we heard, of Solkra.” His voice was wavy, almost unsure of his own explanation, it was clear he had suffered much. “We...we wish to join the Holy City.”

This took Skopti by surprise, join? The city? As Unmarked? No, they were not Unmarked, they were, Iskrill, or, Iskrill like. Yet, Skopti couldn’t just accept this, he needed to see these others. “How far away are these others?”

“Not far, they’re just beyond the ridge.” He pointed to the west.

“Very well,” Skopti motioned for the others to rise and appear into the light “Lead us there.”

The Iskrill-like only nodded, moving quickly to the west, towards the supposed camp.




There were definitely others.

The group had camped for the night shortly after heading out, and light had begun to filter in as they arrived at the camp, it was a haphazard situation, an assembly of scrapped together tents and wagons carrying what supplies they had. As Skopti and his band entered into the camp, almost instantly the residents emerged from their squalid living conditions to gaze upon them and their forms, cheers and cries of joy began to erupt from amongst them, and the Iskrill had to shake off some of them who rushed forward and grovelled at their feet, begging to save them. From what Skopti could see, there was a large array of ages, some seemed older, some couldn’t have been older than five suns, having to be carried or guided by the older beings. All were adorned with some sort of Iskrill markings, a large spectrum and sometimes he had to really look to see any signs of this strange phenomenon, but they were there.

The first being, who Skopti had learnt was named Brethen and was barely 16 suns of age, walked them up to the center of the camp, there, sitting upon a small log, was a rather old looking man, his white beard and hair marked by twisting antlers, and his feet were grotesque and wolf-like, he was Iskrill marked alright.

“Greetings, oh holy ones.” The man spoke, his voice was gravely, it was clear he had been doing this for a while. “Have...have you come to deliver us to the Holy City?”

Skopti thought for a brief moment “Perhaps, but, we must know what you can offer us, our situation is already dire, and accepting your camp would be dangerous.”

The elder nodded “Of course, Brethen, bring them in.” The elder motioned to the young boy, who quickly ran off one of the larger tents.

“He seems a good boy” Skopti spoke, motioning towards the tent Brethen had entered.

“He is,” The elder nodded, “One of my own blood, he is ever eager to see the city.”

“How...how long have you been living like this?”

The old man thought for quite some time “More than 10 suns I can tell you that, we were small at first, but, it appears the regions around here are prone to this, issue, sometimes entire villages would join us out of fear of other villages destroying them, we are, unsure of why this happens.”

“Perhaps the Hierophant could tell you?” Skopti thought out loud

“Perhaps” The elder nodded.

Soon enough Brethen returned, behind him were two fairly burly half-beings, who wore long leather aprons and held in their hands metal tools, and another half-being who held a rope, which led to and was attached to a large cow. The sight of which made Skopti and his man hungry, but he motioned for them to not move.

“These are some of what we can offer you,” The elder spoke, motioning at the two burly ones “These men are trained in the art of blacksmithing, they can work and improve the metal that adorns you,” He then turned to the one with the cow “Alius and many amongst us here understand farming and ranching, with their skills we could supply a steady stream of flesh for the holy city.”

Flesh and Metal? This was getting too good to be true “And there is nothing you wish in return?”

The elder shook his head “Nothing.”

Skopti nodded “Very well, I shall bring you to the city, inform your people, we should head out very soon.”

Those half-beings who had gathered around the convo began to cheer once more, with a renewed vigor they began to gather their assembled items and belongings, readying for the trek ahead of them. The elder merely smiled.




Soklra was abuzz with activity.

Another two days of travel, and now the large procession of the half-beings, roughly 400 in number if Skopti recalled correctly, walked through the city, at its head Skopti and the Elder walked, the beings safety was ensured by the gathering Flames and warriors Skopti had ordered in case the hunger for flesh overcame the Iskrills bafflement at the new sight.

They marched towards the city center, Skopti could already tell the half-beings were struck with awe by the sight of the city, to finally be in the place they had desired must’ve been a grand sight. Within the center, at the grand statue of the All-Mother, stood the Triumvirate, the Queen, Jarl, and Hierophant all stood, Skopti had made sure to inform them before his grand display, but they still seemed quite shocked at what stood before them.

The Queen motioned for Skopti and the Elder to step forward. And with a bow they did.

“So,” She spoke, “You are these beings we have been told about?”

The elder nodded “Yes your majesty, we have come long distances to the Holy City, hoping to aid it all we can.”

“I see, and Skopti here has already told me of your abilities, your people would most certainly be a boon upon the city.” She paused for a brief moment, looking back at the Jarl and Hierophant, who both nodded their heads.

“Which is why we have decided to allow you to settle within the city, in exchange for teaching us all that you know.”

The elder bowed as a cheer erupted from the half-beings, “Thank you my Majesty, we shall do all we can to aid the Holy City.” With that, he returned to his people, with the aid of a gathering number of the Triumvirates workers to direct them to portions of the city they could settle into.

Meanwhile the Queen turned back to Skopti “I must admit, you have done well our Flame, which is why we have another task for you.”

Skopti bowed “Anything for the glory of Solkra.”

This time, the Queen spoke in hushed tones as she brought Skopti closer “Word has reached us that war engulfs the south, the Unmarked are getting feisty and fighting amongst themselves, yet those heinous ones to the north are still prevalent, as such, we want you to lead more expeditions beyond the walls, yet, this time you are not to raid, instead, you are to conquer, force the lands of the Unmarked under our boot, make them work for us, get the broods beyond the walls to work alongside us, anything to spread the glory of the sun, you will have our forces at your command for this of course, and we expect great results.”

Skopti bowed once more “Of course my queen, I shall see it done.”

The sun was rising, and soon, its heat would burn those who had shown it hatred.



Act Three, Scene Three: The Call of Chaos


It came to everyone differently. The great call of something beyond the gods they knew, the work of a being with far too many names. It was a rare call yes, only a select few ever heard it, and even fewer would fully accept it. That great call into a world the gods refused to show you.

Axin’s call had been that damned Hyena.

He lived on the outskirts of his village, he was no hunter, craftsman, or even farmer, his only skills in life were seemingly bad luck and suffering. His family had hated him, his love chose another, and even his attempts at magic and herbs had fallen flat. The only reason he hadn’t been thrown out of the village was that the chief took some pity on him, but that only afforded him a run down hut and some food.

That was, until the day that Hyena came.

He had heard stories of it, back when his mother could still stomach his existence. Those horrid beasts who stalked through the lands, their laughs driving the sinful into madness, a punishment by the gods for the arrogance of humanity.

Oh how they had been so wrong.

He had been wandering the plains, hoping to find some wild herbs for another attempt at some basic remedies, it was a quiet day, the breeze gently blew past him and he could hear the soft call of animals in the distance. He held some hope that this day would be the day his fortunes reversed, yet, deep inside he knew it would be the same, another failure, another day spent wasting away in his hollow prison.

He was kneeling, gathering some Cat’s Rose, a herb that could assist in light pains, at least, he thought it did. Finishing up plucking the herbs, he stored them in the bag at his side, slowly bringing himself, and his head, upwards, but what he saw froze him in place.

It was large, far larger than it should be, its six black eyes stared him down as it sat barely feet in front of him, merely staring him down.

At first, he wanted to run, run as quickly as he could, run back to the village. Yet his own legs and mind stopped him, they refused to move him, forcing him to merely stand there and stare at the beast across from him. It felt like hours, locking eyes with the Hyena in that windswept plain, neither making a single move.

The Hyena slowly began to smile, its mouth twisting into a horrid crescent shape, something so unnatural that it sparked a shiver down Axin’s spine. Yet it was nothing compared to the cackle that softly emitted from deep within the Hyena, building up in strength as it opened its mouth. A thousand different voices layered upon one another, making sound itself feel claustrophobic and tight. Axin finally got his legs to work, he could not stay, he had to run, that laugh, that laugh would be the death of him.

He ran as fast as his legs could take him, the dirt and grass being kicked up as he bolted from his spot, yet, he could hear the hyena following in tandem, the laugh did not let up, it only grew in strength. It felt like he was being smothered, he could barely even hear his own frantic thoughts or the feel the sparks of pain shooting out through his legs and body. He just kept running, he swore he hadn’t gone that far from the village, where was it? Where was it? Where? Where? Where?

He tripped, his leg buckled underneath him, sending him falling towards the golden grass and dirt, he had barely the time to comprehend until he hit the ground. And everything went black.




Far beyond the mortal’s pain, a god felt the call themselves.

It was such a beautiful thing, of course Yamat would probably be the only one to say that, the other gods probably would not appreciate their most recent creations driving various people insane, but that's none of their concern. The work of Tragedy was never finished, and now, the work of Chaos had just begun, but first, Yamat had to make a few adjustments.

Sitting upon their warped chair, they gazed upon their realm, its blasted empty wastes, the harsh winds blowing massive torrents of dust and ash through the empty ruins of the tragedies of the world. They slowly rose, taking steps beyond their twisted canopy, gazing upwards, upon the great twisting black sun that illuminated their realm, dancing eternally within the empty sky. The god found themselves staring upon the sun, its form drawing them inwards. It's slow, shifting wobble that plays endlessly, never stopping.

Yamat closed their eye, slowly raising their hands, and began their conducting.

The realm rumbled, sending plumes of dirt and ash into the sky, covering the blackened sun for brief moments. Ruins crumbled further and the mountains launched showers of rocks. Then, with a sudden eruption, a great chasm cracked itself into existence, carving a path between two of the great mountains, any ruins in the way were merely moved to either side, or left to sit at the bottom. Another formed, this time smaller, then another, and many more, soon enough chasms that were ,shallow, deep, large, small, and everything in between had been created, adding themselves upon the features of the Endless Wastes. One even began to form near the great pit of demons, yet stopped just before reaching it.

The ruins were changed as well, they were grouped together, instead of standing separately they bunched together into cities and villages, standing empty amongst the great ash, their ruinous forms telling the tale of tragedy far better than they could separately. But, this wasn’t enough, to Yamat, the realm was not, chaotic enough, and so, they let it shift and change, the endless deserts became maddening, looping over one another, one could walk in the same area countless times, and never even realize it. Ruins twisted and warped, roads looped back around upon themselves or lead to dead ends constantly, the mountains would always stay in the distance, never letting one know if they made progress. And through it all, the great blackened sun stood in the sky, blazing its intense heat on all.

Yet, this was not the only thing that changed, as Yamat conducted, their form took shape as the will of Chaos was placed into their control.

First, four blackened tentacles, slick and seemingly made of a thick oil-like substance, erupted from their back, two upon either side, they were long and thin, the top two reaching down nearly to their knees. Quickly following their suit came golden vines, covered in sharp thorns, they too erupted from the back and wrapped themselves around the tentacles, their thorns digging into the oil, causing it to slowly drip and fall to the ground.

Then, erupting from their head, came two great blackened antlers, oil-like akin to the tentacles, they twisted and contorted in strange and unnatural ways and were illuminated by the halo behind their head, causing the shifting oil texture to be apparent to all. Finally, the black oil began to emerge from the bottom of their singular eye, slowly dripping down, causing a slick black streak to form down the eye side of their mask, often falling down upon them or the ground.

They opened their eye and lowered their arms, it was done, they could feel a renewed force within them, it felt, fantastic, and they needed to test this out.

They quickly rushed back to their map and canopy, they needed something, perhaps they would pay a visit to Acadia? Or cause some chaos in mydia? They could check up on their avatar and that brat of Cadien, or maybe...that's when they saw it, a small call within the western gardens, it was in the middle of nowhere, and usually the director would ignore such a small call, yet, something drew them to it. They looked closer, one of their hyenas stood over a man, he was unconscious, yet, Yamat could see a little spark within, something that if moulded correctly, would be perfect.

The director had their new project.




Axin awoke with a fright, he was back home, laying upon his floor, he frantically checked himself to see if he held any wounds, yet, there was nothing. For a brief moment, he thought what had occurred was not more than a nightmare, induced by another night of drunken stupor, but that all ended when he tried to stand up.

Almost instantly, the world began to spin around him, it was as if he was dizzy, hung over, and would not normally be a cause of concern, if it were not for his own house shifting and changing before him. It was hard to describe to even his own mind, yet it seemed as if the walls and floor shifted and warped, almost like they were breathing, his table and chairs elongated and squished together.

He puked, yet this only stopped the spinning. He stumbled his way towards his mirror, hoping to the gods that this was nothing more than a nightmare, this couldn’t be real, there was no way this was real. Looking into the warped mirror he saw himself, haggard pale face, his distraught brown hair and beard, and crazed green eyes, and behind him, he saw thousands upon thousands of eyes, staring at him...and the tall figure that seemed to rise behind him.

He nearly fell as he turned around, his arm causing a few empty bottles of ale to smash into the ground. There, standing in front of him was a horrifying figure, its form was black, yet he could make out the features of two arms and four thin black tendrils, its thin head held only a hole where an eye should be, and a pair of hideous antlers. Unlike the world around him, it did not shift or churn, and that only made Axin far, far more scared.

”Who...who are you? he just barely managed to irk out, his mouth felt dry, and he was scared the words would erupt from his mouth and fall flat upon the ground.

The figure held out its hand towards him ”I, am a friend, I bring you no harm Axin, I only wish to aid you now that you have seen the light.”

”How...what….what's going on?”

”You, have been revealed to what the gods would not readily tell you, you, my dear child, have been gifted the sight beyond the falsehoods and lies, the true madness of this world has been revealed to you.”

”The...true…?” His head swiveled around to gaze upon his breathing house, was this, the way it had always been? ’Why...why would the gods hide this?

”Because, they are afraid” The figure spoke, suddenly an array of colours instead of the singular black, it was, dazzling. ”They are cowards who hide away in their grand temples and luxurious palaces, tell me, what have they ever done for you?”

His mind raced, the dazzling colours began to come off of the figure, and became balls of beautiful intensity. He remembered all the horrors of his life, the constant pain and suffering, no god came to aid him, no god gave him their boon, no god...had done anything for him. ”No...they have not, they’ve done...nothing for me”

”Exactly!” The figure loudly proclaimed, seemingly shaking the world with their voice ”And that is why, my dear Axin, you shall help me solve this problem.” It stepped forward, the hole of its eye staring at him with a fierce intensity.

”me? But...im nothing, i can’t do anything right!”

”Ah ah ah, not yet, but my dear Axin, there is a spark inside of you, that of magic, you’ve tried it that i know, and so, i shall give you a little boost.”

”Boost? Wh-” He barely had time to speak his mind before his world began to spin once more, the figure seemingly began to glow with a bright light, voices flooded into his mind as he once more collapsed, and once more, everything went dark.

He awoke a few minutes after, everything stood still, the figure was gone. But, he knew everything now, his mind raced with a thousand words, the truth, the lies, everything was revealed to him, the colours of the world were so beautiful, and he could no longer ignore them.

Once more, he got up, upon his table stood a small tome, carefully, he guided himself towards it and opened its blackened cover, inside were words, they detailed magical practices, yet, it was not full, probably to allow him to expand upon its contents. He slowly picked it up, hugging it close to his chest.

He needed to get out of here.

He rushed around his house, grabbing his clothing and what little possessions he owned, shoving them all into a pack he carried with him, he grabbed his bedroll, pipe, food(what he had left), his wide brimmed hat that dazzled with a bright purple colour now, all his various herbs and texts about them, and his uncle’s sword, the only possession left to him by his family, he knew somewhat how to use it, but hoped it would never come to that.

With everything grabbed, which said more about his state of life that it all fit within one pack and two satchels. He stepped outside his house, the night sky stood above him, a dazzling aurora danced across it, how, how could the gods hide something so beautiful?

He slowly creeped outside, he could see the lights of the village close by, a small dirt road leading inwards...no one would miss him if he vanished. And so, he krept beyond, going towards the great wide plains of their homelands, knowing he would find other notes of civilizations somewhere.

But, he stopped just before leaving the outskirts of town fully, in the edge of his vision, he saw the local temple, dedicated to that great goddess of love...perhaps…a test was in order? The being had said he had been given a little boost, so, it was acceptable to see what that meant.

Axin quickly pulled out the black tome, flipping through its pages until he came upon the one he wanted, a spell for a bolt of lightning, this would be perfect. He raised his hand, softly speaking the words required as stated within the tome, he could feel the power and energy shift within his hand as it began to crackle with static and lightning. With a smirk he spoke the last words, and launched the bolt forward, towards the wooden and stone building.

It was far more than he had expected.

Instead of causing some minor damage like he had thought it would, the bolt instead seemed to grow far more powerful as it streaked across the night, by the time it cracked into the wall of the temple it had the force of a natural bolt of lightning, and some more. It erupted into a mighty crack, sending bits of stone and wooden splinters flying as it exploded with might and fury, utterly destroying the close side of the temple, and flying further beyond, making a similar hole on the other side.

In an instant Axin heard cries and noise, the people had very much noticed, some already began to rush towards the temple to see what had happened. And this, this was his cue to leave, and quickly. He ran back out towards the outskirts and plains, keeping his head down and hoping he would not be spotted running from the scene of the crime. He did not stop until the village was most definitely out of view.

He slumped onto the ground, uttering a large sigh, figuring this is where he would camp for now. He slowly gathered a few loose stones, some from the temple, to form a small campfire, and decided to test his magic once more with a fire starting spell. Yet, this time, when he casted the spell, it merely sparked and fizzled out, which only confused the mage. He tried again and again, until the fire erupted in great fury, almost burning him and the plains nearby.

As soon as he had recovered from his heart attack, Axin looked at his tome, this would prove to be, an interesting experience.

Somewhere beyond, a cackle rang across the night.




Act Three, Scene Two, A Decision


The God of Tragedy had a lot of work to do as they sat within their barren realm.

The dealings with the great mage to the south had been dealt with, she had been given their boon, and Neiya’s as well, though they were still unsure of how good that was. To the north they had found another great actor, though she was still inexperienced they felt she could accomplish much, especially if she ever met that lost father of her’s.

But, there were still other issues, Ha-Duna had become ever embroiled, Neiya and even that ever vigilant Cadien had dipped their hands into the war, and Yamat was sure they could not sit idly by any longer, lest the alliance they’ve built come knocking upon their door. Their beast in the north was still wandering around without direction, eating and killing as it pleased. Their avatar kept with the child of Cadien, directing her ever closer to their grasp, their child races continued to build themselves up, and throughout it all, the Grand Play continued.

Yet, they were still not ready, they knew that, they had seen what some of the other gods had become, powerful with a variety of powers under their belt, Neiya herself was the perfect image of this, becoming something far more than that goddess of love that had drawn Yamat to her that long time ago, how they missed those times.

Yamat shook their head, recollecting could occur another time. For now, they had to focus on the present and the Grand Play, they could feel another power drawn to them from all their actions for tragedy. It would be another perfect addition to their repertuar.

They sat within the wasteland of their realm, slowly raising their arms, the runes covering their body glowing ever so softly as they conducted their silent song. This one was more quiet than the desolation they had gained earlier, and they had to admit this one was, comforting in a way, its softness entering into them as they conducted. Until, it settled in amongst the others, another neat little addition to the talents of the Grand Director.

Finally, they stood, the dust flaking off of them as they slightly shook. They walked a ways through their realm, passing by a few of the ruins that dotted the hollow wastes, monuments to their great play lightly or densely covered in soot and ash. Many were long distant memories, some of which they could barely remember or even recall, so many tragedies happened daily that it was hard to keep track.

But yet, ideas still came to them, as they slowly came upon their great map situated upon their twisted wooden table their gaze drifted southward, upon the isles they believed were called, Mydia. They had some interaction with those massive islands, as some of their reshutian children lived amongst them, but, the sentient mortals were not what attracted their eye this time around.

Instead, another, smaller piece had drawn the attention of the god of tragedy, an animal of sorts, they walked upon four legs, with brown fur with spots all along them, they were canine like but not fully canine, and then, there were the laughs, the laughs drew Yamat in, their natural call was like a cackle, a noise so similar to their own laugh. They were enamored. The other gods had special animals and creatures of their own, why not them? Yamat loved these creatures, and so, he would take their design and nature, and create a beautiful herald of tragedy in their image.

First, he started with the base creature, which he quickly came to know as a Hyena, then, he increased their size, making them larger and stronger than before, they gained three eyes on either side and wicked horns, two more legs in between their others, longer tails with a vice like grip, their fur became black and white, with long stripes instead of spots, though some spots could appear based on the individual and finally, came their laughs.

Yamat made their laughs greater than before, they sound like the laughs of a thousand different voices, ones that overwhelmed those who would hear it, it would bounce around within their head and eventually drive them into madness if heard for long enough, the laughs serving to warn all those who have the misfortune of hearing them that the work of the Great Director has begun. They were perfect.

With their creation finished, Yamat gathered them up and scattered them across the Galbar, landing some packs in Toraan, Mydia, Kubrajazar, and other realms. They would be sure to have an impact soon enough, their cackles ensuring the mortals would not soon forget the actions of the god of tragedy, if they knew of them of course, but no matter, another great day of work for Yamat.

They sat back in one of their wooden chairs underneath the twisted canopy of their realm, once more staring upon the map, their strength was better now, perhaps, it might be time to deal with that little Ha-Duna situation, perhaps they should speak to one of the gods involved? The goddess of the moon would be an interesting talk, or perhaps their old friend Thaa, but, that could wait, for no, they would just sit back, and enjoy the show.



Sengoku ichizoku: The First Spark


The rain began to pour.

The two reshut stared each other down, their eyes locked beneath their masks, pure malice and hatred hidden beneath. Then one made the first move, his fist flung forward, launching a streak of magical energy towards their opponent, who dogged it with expert grace, performing a somersault to escape the reach of the deadly blast.

Their dance began, but it was not a dance of ceremony or joy, but one of death, each one utilized their acrobatics and martial arts to their advantage, creating bolts of fire and erupting the earth beneath them, their loose forms and stances allowing the mana to flow through them, or so they believed. The two were mages of the Reshut, trained in the deadly and often majestic arts of their clans. And all around them, a battle raged.

Two clans fought, bronze and iron blade clashed against one another, reef horses carried warriors effortlessly through the swamp and rocks of their homeland, allowing them to strike down those below them, archers rained down fire while crossbowmen loosed their deadly and effective bolts, trained Kre’Nasha crashed through enemy lines, their ever shifting forms creating a whirlwind of death and destruction, the multicoloured blood soaked into the mud and streams, staining them with the tragic dye even as the rain tried to wash it all away.

This battle had no name, the two sides cared not for one, they merely wished to end the other, but in time it would be given a name: the Saisho no hibana, the first spark. For the two clan daimyos did not realize it at the time, but this battle, the first of its scale and size within the isles, would spark the collapse of the fragile peace the Reshut clans held. The great clans would learn of this battle in time, but by then, it was too late to stop the collapse. Already clan alliances had been called, rivalries resurgent, and spheres of influence challenged, the era of peace was over.

The Sengoku ichizoku, the era of the warring clans, had begun.



Nearly a month after the spark.

Tategawa, Kinoshita Lands

A calm breeze blew.

Narikazu overlooked his great city from the balcony of his palace. The letter had arrived barely a week ago, but its contents would stretch out years in its consequences, maybe even beyond his own life? He could feel age slowly encompass him as he looked out at his city, the city he and his ancestors had built up, a shining beacon within the Isles. Now, it was threatened with war.

Alliances had been called, some clans upon the edges of the Kinoshita sphere had become embroiled in the conflicts closer to the center of the central isles, incursions from outsider clans, something the Daimyo could not just overlook, lest his rule be seen as weak. Yet, the Kinoshita were not truly fighters, they were builders and priests, they had known a period of great peace since their foundation, as he thought the Daimyo grew ever more worried of the future of his clan.

The Hashimoto were sure to take advantage of this new state, already their nature of being disconnected from the main isles aided them, but with the chaos unfurling, they were sure to cement their stronghold. And what of the Ohta? They would surely play off multiple sides, buying and selling weapons and arms, protecting trade routes with their horrid vroolish allies. No, he could not allow them to grow, the Kinoshita needed to respond full force, to show that they were not just going to let the reef jackals descend upon them.

“Takemoto!” He shouted. The sounds of rushing footsteps were heard behind him, until the paper door to the balcony was opened, with Takemoto, his eldest son standing there. The prince was already wearing his armor and wielded his blade, when he had gotten word of the letter, he was the first to encourage a response of might.

“Summon the Generals, and inform the couriers to send messages to every lord, they must gather their armies with the winds of Kalaru,” Narikazu spoke, quickly turning to his son. “The Kinoshita are going to war.”

Takemoto bowed deeply “Of course father.” was all he spoke before exiting, closing the door behind him. Leaving the aging daimyo all alone once more.

Narikazu looked to the sky, a thousand doubts and worries entering into his mind. But this was no time for that. He had chosen, and history would remember him as such.




Okumaki, Hashimoto Lands

The Hashimoto prepared for war.

Forges roared with searing fire, weapons of war were crafted as quickly as they could be, Soldiers trained in large fields on foot or upon the great Reef Horses, the mighty Kre’Nasha were trained to fight against armoured opponents, food was stockpiled and even the common reshut could feel the tense feeling rising in the air.

Hashimoto Korekatsu knelt upon his cushioned throne, a massive table with a detailed map of the isles stood in front of him, and all along its length sat both his generals and some of his sons, eagerly debating and discussing strategies and preparations.

The rising tide of war had not skipped over the Hashimoto, they were skilled and well known masters of the blade, but even they could not stop war from reaching their shores, though they were sure to accept it. The central war would not affect them currently, it appeared merely to be alliances of minor clans, and possibly the Kinoshita, but that did not mean other clans had not become emboldened.

Several minor clans beyond Hashimoto rule had gathered together into an alliance and sought to dislodge the great clan from its holdings. They called themselves the “Grey Mask Alliance”, a name that made Korekatsu’s blood boil, for all it reminded him of were those heinous Red Mask bandits that he had spent so long crushing, now it seemed another group needed to be crushed underneath his boot.

“My lord?” The voice brought him out of his thoughts, he jerked his head upward, seeing the faces of all those in front of him staring directly at them. The one who had spoken was Katakura Terumasa, a skilled general who had served alongside the Daimyo in the wars against the Red Masks.

“Yes, what is it?” The Daimyo replied, looking upon the map to see if anything had been changed while his mind had drifted, gods he was getting old.

“We believe we have all come to a decision.” The general gestured to the map, where several yellow pieces had been laid out and their movements marked in regards to grey pieces, representing the two forces. It was a simple plan, utilizing Hashimoto’s natural skill at the blade and martial combat to press the main force of the Grey Masks, while having smaller forces flank and try to mop up some of the seemingly more weaker clans. Simple, but effective.

“I see, is there anything more then?” The Daimyo asked.

“There is...one more thing,” The general’s voice wavered a slight moment before continuing “Who shall lead the main force?”

The question was as well entirely simple, but it spoke magnitudes. Traditionally the Daimyo led the main force, but, in asking this question, the General, and all around him, expressed their concern, and more importantly, their doubt, in his age and abilities to lead. This made Korekatsu’s blood boil even further, the, arrogance of his old friend asking this!

“The answer is simple!” He fiercely responded, making his sons close to him drop their heads to avoid eye contact. “I! Shall be leading the main force to crush these insolent fools! I! am the Daimyo of this clan, unless you all have forgotten that!” His piercing gaze shot around the table, forcing even Terumasa to lower his head in shame.

No voice spoke up to disagree.

“Very well then,” He continued, the fire in his voice still not subsided. “Gather your forces and ready yourself, we shall march within a week!” With that, he waved his hand, the generals and his sons rose, scattering off into the wind to gather their forces. Leaving the Daimyo to simmer by himself. Such arrogance, such disrespect. He would be sure to show all of them, the glory of the Hashimoto was not over.




Enkoshi, Ohta Lands

A Daimyo was dying.

Ohta Yasukuni laid upon his bed, he wore the great garb of his clan, and his mask had been removed, so all could see his face. Around him stood his family, his wife and many children, beyond them he knew the doctors stood nearby, in case anything happened, but Yasukuni knew they would not be needed, he could feel death coming for him, and it would come lightly.

For all his works crafting trade and deals throughout the isles, he could not have avoided old age, and he knew this. His will had been crafted, his eldest son, Ohta Tokihiro, would become Daimyo of the Ohta, and at no greater of a time. Their vassals had not become involved in the great conflict in the central lands, but Yasukuni knew it would come to them regardless, no matter how much the Ohta tried to stay neutral, they would inevitably need to fight.

“Tokihiro” The old daimyo rasped out, his voice growing hoarse and distant.

In an instant his son, who was already standing by his father’s side, leaned in close, softly grasping the daimyo's hand. “What is it father?”

“Dire times are coming my child, the drums of war call in the distant, and I fear we can not avoid them this time, you must prepare yourself, steel your soul, gather your forces and generals, and be ready to fight for our clan. But...my child, please promise me this one thing.”

“Anything father.”

“Let not Ohta, Hashimoto, or Kinoshita strike another down, let not the rivalries of the great clans tear them apart, for if we allow such anger and rivalries take hold, we shall never end this growing tide of war, and we shall all falter. Use the connections I have built, I know you do not like the other clans, but we can not allow our isles to become one of rivalry and hate, please, promise me this.”

The prince nodded, his eyes tearing up ever so slightly. “Yes my father, I will not disappoint you.”

The daimyo nodded, gently squeezing his son’s hand, he slowly looked upwards, before softly closing his eyes, his breathing swallowed, until it fell silent. Tokihiro rose, now Daimyo of the great clan of the Ohta, tears welling up behind his mask, but he could not allow himself to cry. He raised to his full height, and quickly exited the room, he summoned courtiers to begin preparations for conflict, to summon generals and lords, and most importantly, to get him some quill and ink.

While he had to first ensure the Ohta would not falter, he had letters to write. He had made a promise to his father, and he would not let the Great clans rip themselves asunder in their anger. Yet he knew, it would not be simple.


Act Three, Scene One, Thoughts


The board had been laid out, various pieces stood about its massive size, masked figures of various colours upon a collection of isles, a mighty city with various bug and goblin pieces around it, a mighty tree, and even mightier temples to the far west, each piece delicately crafted and placed, but two areas had caught the eye of the Great Director.

To the north, in those mighty highlands, there stood a city. They had long ignored it, focused more upon their children and their great enemy, but now, it had drawn their eye.

Just recently, they had felt a shift within those lands, their old companion, the god of death, had seemingly begun to mess around with those beings, and now the civilization was embroiled in a civil war, one that the god of tragedy could not just ignore.

But yet, they were unsure of which side to support, while yes they had worked with the god of death and enjoyed his more, interesting, thoughts, there was still the problem of various other gods supporting the opposing side, and they had no desire to alienate others who could be useful to the Grand Play at a later time.

Meanwhile, to the far south of that realm, there stood another city, undergoing great conquests with a strange magic user at the head. Admittingly this would not usually be enough for the director to notice, but what they did notice was the magic user’s actions, they were horribly tragic, and they loved it.

Of course, if the director was going to get involved they would need to consolidate their powers, for a while now they had felt their powers growing, expanding,

That beautiful power of destruction was one of their more favorites, unleashing great fires, earthquakes, the like, it was truly a beautiful endeavor upon their part. They could feel its essence wash into them as they focused. Their bones creaked as they stretched themselves out, feeling more whole than before.

Now, with that finished, at least for now, they redirected their attention once more to the board, ah, yes, those strange druids to the north, they still did not know who to support, and, to the south, they figured a gift of some sort would be good to give that tragic mage, maybe even their old companion Neiya might want to get involved? Though, they were unsure on how she felt about other women, that would take some thought.

For now, a walk would be needed, plans were forming, but for once, the Grand Director was unsure on how to proceed, perhaps, a nice little walk would draw them closer to the answer. And so, with a jaunt in their step, the God of Tragedy took another of their walks.




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