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Dear Mr Curly,
I have done little travelling lately because I have been so dreadfully weary. Can it be true as the old Ecclesiastes said; that all things lead to weariness? Surely not. Perhaps the opposite is true: that all nothings lead to weariness. I have a peculiar feeling, Curly, that I am worn out from something I haven't yet done and the more I don't do it, the more exhausted I become. How strange. Could it be something I haven't realised? Perhaps it's something I haven't said? Something I haven't finished! It must be very large and true whatever it is and a lively struggle in the doing but I look forward to it immensely. I know I need it. First, however, I must curl up in my chair and sleep deeply with the duck. Perhaps I'll dream of this thing and wake up refreshed and do it. My fond wishes to you Mr. Curly, and to all Curly Flat.
Yours sleepily,
Vasco Pyjama
P.S. Not having breakfast can make you weary. That's for sure!
Michael Leunig. The Curly Pyjama Letters.

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Janius' eyes lingered for a second longer on Kaleeth before he answered Julan. "If you and Thorantilth would allow me to, I would like to watch for a time. I'm somewhat curious about the tattoing process itself. I've never seen it myself." He almost lifted his food for another mouthful and hesitated. "After a time, I'll leave you two alone and go about other jobs. Perhaps spend some quality time with your mother."

After a brief smirk directed at Kaleeth, Janius had a realisation. "Oh, one more thing, Julan. Are you feeling secure? Do you think you'll need to hunt at some point between times spent getting your tattoos?"

Again, Rossarm paused at Ahnasha's speech. His frown and narrowed eyes did not waver from her challenge. Each second built in a way Fendros had not seen in a long time. He curled his fingers halfway shut.

"Father," Fendros said, this time with uncertainty. "Don't do this. Ahnasha is not one of your thralls."

Rossarm did not so much as blink.

Fendros raised his arm until his open hand faced forward. "Father. I won't let you. Not this time."

"Do not try to stop me," Rossarm muttered.

"I can stop you and I will stop you," Fendros said louder.
Janius grinned and lifted a hand. "Yes, yes, Kaleeth's told me all about it before, but you know what I mean."

When the questions turned on him, Janius lifted his gaze and opened his mouth to breathe in. "Hmm. Nothing in particular beyond what we've been doing for the past week or more." He quickly raised a finger. "Mind you, Kaleeth, were you able to organise a communal with the Hist? I remember you mentioned you wanted to do that while you were here."

Something in Ahnasha's response caused Rossarm to stiffen and hold his balance. His hesitation could have been construed as surprise, but it transitioned naturally into his aiming a finger at Ahnasha and boring directly into her eyes. "You have a place you know better, beast. Resume it."

Behind Fendros and Ahnasha, Rhazii noticed Fendros' side of the family in various states of unease. Monderyn was pale. Llarasa was breathing quickly. Even Calia, usually impeccably composed, held her jaw shut so tightly that veins were bulging on her temples.

Fendros stepped up beside Ahnasha. "Father, please!" He brought his fingertips to his chest. "This is what I am now. I'm not dead. I'm not a stranger. Stop all this pretending."

"Hand. Me. My. Sword." Rossarm punctuated each word by swinging forward his outstretched hand. "You are beyond saving now. Even wearing that item on your belt is a spit on the grave of every one of your forefathers! You have no right, and you had best follow my instructions. I am the custodian of their legacy now. I will not allow it desecrated any longer."

Rossarm's eyes shifted between Fendros and Ahnasha with an uncanny awareness.

Rhazii breathed in to shout back. He was interrupted by none other than Monderyn's hand grabbing him by the shoulder. Monderyn murmured, "Whatever you're thinking, don't." Rhazii turned to Monderyn and closed his mouth. Whatever made him as afraid as he looked was worth hesitation.
Odds and Ends:

Alright, listen up, churls! This is how souls do.

Our conclusions generally came with backing motivation of keeping options open, keeping ambiguities present to be explored IC, and to provide opportunities for storytelling.

Diffused around the universe is soul ash. This is the raw substance of souls. There's more of it closer to the Sky of Pyres but it's present throughout every sphere unless otherwise specified. It's imperceptible to most mortals. It even escapes gods at times, the individual motes mysteriously disappearing at times only to reappear somewhere else in the universe.

When living beings are created, soul ash coalesces naturally into a soul within them. This natural coalescence is the only known way to create a soul. Souls come in all different shapes and sizes, generally dictated by intelligence and personality. If a creature loses its soul, it loses the intelligence and personality that caused the soul to coalesce in the first place.

Souls degrade (or fray) over time without some kind of treatment. The exact amount of time and rate of fraying varies from soul to soul. The effects of fraying can take the form of some mix of mental and physical degradation but the exact symptoms are up to the author. The only constant is that this continual degradation generally results in souls losing their will to resist Katharsos' vortex.

The degradation can be prevented in a great number of ways that can be explored IC. It doesn't have to be restricted to god stuff, but heroes, demigods, and gods don't suffer this degradation because of divine essence or an MP product holding them together.

Souls do not have to be coupled with divine essence and vice versa. Gods are just discreet amounts of divine essence. If they exhibit the intelligence and personality of a being with a soul, they more than likely have a soul themselves. That said, there could be a divine essence without a soul. It probably wouldn't be intelligent like the gods we know are.

Instances of divine essences without souls mostly occur when a god 'dies': The divine essence scatters and the soul of the 'dead' god goes on its way, probably to the vortex. The essence, however, reforms after a while. It reforms into a living being, into which a soul inhabits. Boom, new character. This is generally how we can justify dropped players being replaced with new players gunning for similar portfolios.

A neat detail: This opens up the option of an unintelligent divine essence without a soul doing all sorts of shenanigans.

Just about everything else can be handwaved or independently explored.
- External theological ideas? Not relevant.
- Souls as energy sources? Up to you.
- The role of souls in magic? Defined by the magic.
- How do demons or liches work? Whatever.
- The majority of other accreted contrivances added for flavour or to cover bases that don't have a narrative connection yet? Make it up yourself.

All of this extra stuff should be explored by the players IC, not codified in a book of metaphysics.

Feel free to ask if you have any clarifying questions. However, be prepared to get answers that could include 'Your character doesn't know,' 'It doesn't matter,' or 'Great question! How about you decide the answer and write it into the IC.'
Just letting you know, I haven't disappeared. I'll get a post in later today depending on the phone signal on the train.
"Oh, it'll pass quicker than you might expect, I think," Janius said. "Thorantilth won't necessarily be putting you to sleep, but I am told the two of you will be taking Hist sap during the process. Perhaps the Hist will make for interesting conversation, hm? You might end up learning something about yourself."

Fendros tried his best to maintain eye contact with his father. He responded as calmly as he could, which was unlike how tightly he was holding onto Ahnasha's hand. "You gave it to me, father."

Rossarm lifted his upper lip. "I gave it to my son. You are not my son."

"Father, you're being unreasonable-"

"You turned your back on your ancestors the moment you bound yourself to this animal!" He shouted. "I want what's mine. The sword."

Fendros teeth ground in his mouth. He managed not to raise his voice. "...If I give the sword back, will you at least talk to me?"

"The only mercy I would owe you is to let you out of my sight, to decay in the mud as you have been for the past decade." Rossarm wiped a drop of spit from his lips. "And I'll bury the sword, hold a funeral for my only child of blood. My waste."
Janius couldn't help but smile to himself at the absurdity. Still it was reasonable that Julan would end up with a different opinion after a while. "Maybe you're just too interesting, Julan," he commented. "But I see. Well, I suppose you'll just have to be patient with your tattoos. Are any of your other friends going to visit during the day?"

Rhazii lifted his ears, but he turned to Shevari with less certainty. "Oh, I guess, I just...I was never good at cooking those kinds of things."

"No reason not to try again," Llarasa said. "You have plenty of special methods, Shevari. I'm sure...Rhazii could...practice..."

She trailed off as her attention was brought to the figure rounding a curve in the road ahead. Everyone spotted him, one after another. Walking with a highly strung march that only hinted at clumsiness in his ankles was Rossarm. He glowered ahead. His eyes stared daggers at them all, landing ultimately on Fendros.

The group slowed to a stop as he did in front of them. Everyone was silent. Fendros, Ahnasha, and Rhazii could smell red wine on him from the short distance.

"You," he said, holding out a hand to Fendros. "That sword doesn't belong to you. Return it to me."

Fendros clutched the pommel of the family sword on his belt. His face hardened.
"Hm?" Janius tilted his head. "Why's that? With all that time sitting still, wouldn't some company be nice?"

While Fendros had not been eating quite as anxiously as Ahnasha, he inwardly realised how Vasiq gained his figure. If Shevari produced this kind of food on a regular basis, even Fendros' usual lifestyle would not prevent him gaining some extra weight.

The trip back started with a small measure of difficulty in the horses Fendros' family had ridden up to the lake. For some reason, they were stubborn and anxious to the point where they decided just to lead them back behind the group. Only Calia was able to ride hers with confidence, though that may have been due to a spell she used. Fendros, Rhazii, and Ahnasha kept some distance, as it was clear to them the animals were frightened by their smell.

"Thank you again for all the wonderful food, Shevari," Fendros said. "That was an unforgettable feast."

"I don't think I'll need to eat for the rest of the week," Llarasa added from behind them.

Rhazii was smiling but looking down almost sadly. "I wish we had desserts like that back home."

Fendros smiled and turned as they walked. "And thank you, Gwindir and S'nashi for suggesting this. It was a good idea."
Just a reminder, folks, we're still doing reviews in the background. If you have updated your CS or have any questions based on previous comments, please let us know here in the OOC to take a look again. There's a lot to juggle with this many players and words in the Discord are ephemeral.

In other news, we are likely to get the IC up later this week, after which we will not be taking any new god CSs. Only demigods (and possibly heroes if you want) will be considered for joining the game after that. If you already have a CS in review and IC starts without your character approval, don't fret, you haven't been rejected, we're just slowpokes.

I'm not sure if you had any other points to cover during the picnic. Ahnasha's family probably has enough hints to suggest that more is going on than they were lead to believe. They can act upon that however they see fit.

I did have a plan for something to occur on the road back to the city depending on what Ahnasha's family plans to do. I don't really have anything else between now and then.
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