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@Silvan Haven@Crimmy@Abillioncats

Silver Applegate - Civil War

"Ah...thanks." Silver replied with a smile to Vega's remark.

He followed Felicia into the mayor's office. Naturally the room looked as fancy as the rest of the manor. After the short introduction, Gideon explained the situation and how it got to this point. "Mercenaries, huh?" Silver didn't like the sound of that.

When Gideon was done with the explanation he asked if the hunters had any questions. "What are we dealing with here in terms of weapons?" The damages done to the city near the makeshift border looked like something one would expect to come from heavy firepower. The idea of having to fight someone or even something with that destructive worried Silver.
Nothing to see here yet, folks

Abanoc


My encounter with Eurysthenes still sends ripples through my body. I could not see or feel the one responsible for such an act, but they would have to be irredeemably cruel to do so. To erase the self in such a way is a fate worse than death, to us gods as well as mortals it would seem.

I cannot focus on my projects with that knowledge in mind… I must do something about it.

As memories fall into my domain of Recording it is my duty to combat this blight, regardless of the relation of these cases. Both Melantha and Eurysthenes have suffered a similar fate, though the former seemed less affected than the latter. My understanding of Melantha’s memory loss is limited, from what I gathered from Eurysthenes’ mind I can perhaps find a solution.

First I will need a vessel for this power. Standing up from my throne I walked down the steps to the base level. The very marble of my realm shall suffice. Raising my hands, the marble before me followed my movements and morphed as if it were a liquid. When enough had been drawn out, I gave it form, carefully and gently, as if sculpting with it with hammer and chisel.

Long locks of pearl white, lean arms and shapely, long legs, a hourglass figure and a face that could be of beauty nothing less than divine if not for the mask covering its upper half. Though I applied not a fraction of the effort the sculptors of my past dedicated to their works, the result was much the same: a work of art.

I gently held the face of the statue and laid my forehead to hers. A breath from my lips to hers sprung the marble to life, breathing in the air bearing my essence.

“Mnemosyne, my muse of marble. Blessed is your memory, for it is perfect even to the standards of a god.”

“As you will it, Master.”

Drawing away from my creation, a robe covered her form as I laid down my arms.

“Why was I made, Master?

“Two of my siblings had their memories stripped. I imbued you with all the tools I have available to recover damaged memories, and I hope you can raise above me in that aspect. Though it is selfish of me to create life to be used as a tool, I know not other methods to aid my siblings.”

“It’s for a noble cause, Master. I’m honored to be of help.”

“Then, we will begin by testing with what I gathered from My Brother Eurysthenes’ mind.”

I know not how long it will take to achieve it, but I shall dedicate all the effort I can spare to repair their memories. I can only hope creating Mnemosyne was not a wasted effort.




Karamir

&

Abanoc





Karamir did not know how much time had passed.

He walked until he could not walk anymore, and when that happened, he allowed his red-feathered cloak to lazily levitate him a few inches off the floor. Eventually he would reach a point where he could not even manage that, and so he would pass out… only to wake up who knows how much later, and continue walking.

Karamir had thought that Arryn, the Avatar of the Hunting God, would have found him by now. He had deliberately slown his pace while flying in order to allow that to happen. But he found no such luck.

He tried to count how many times sleep claimed him, assuming each time he passed out was the equivalent of one day, but he eventually lost count. On and on he slogged, his eyes glazed over, his feet dragging. With each ‘day’ he began to lose hope.

Had his curiosity been his downfall?

It was a question he kept asking himself. Was this kind of fate what Arya or K’nell had tried to warn him against? Endlessly walking, endlessly searching, with no hope?

Then, suddenly, the world began to change. His weary eyes, fixated on the floor, did not even register it at first… until he looked up and saw that there were no more spikes.

The scenery of the Maze was replaced by the night sky lights, with no ground or walls in sight, but still he found footing. He should have stopped there, but his body was too slow to obey his command, and suddenly there was no more ground to stand on.

And he fell, and fell and fell as if there would be no end to it. But before he knew it he had landed on a marble platform surrounded by pillars of the same pearly white.

“What have we here.” A voice came from the center of the platform, from a throne atop a row of stairs. “A visitor.”

Karamir was on his knees, hands pressed against the cold, hard floor. He gazed up at the seated figure. His throat burned with thirst, and his stomach gnawed with hunger. ”Spikes… why were there spikes…?” he croaked through cracked lips.

“Hmm… You must’ve come from Eurysthenes’ plane. The architecture there can be...intriguing sometimes.” The man in robes stood from his throne and walked down the steps to reach Karamir. “And you must be Karamir. Kalmar’s creation.” He said as he knelt down in front of him and handed him a cup with water and a fruit.

No time for more questions. Not when he was starving and thirsting. Karamir wasted no time in gulping the water down, and then his teeth viciously tore into the fruit as if it was the last morsel he would ever get his hands on. He chewed, and then swallowed. ”Who are you?” he asked, his voice less weak than it was before.

“Abanoc, the god of Recording. And I have observed your journey through galbar, as well as all others’.” He stood up and offered Karamir a hand. “And I know you seek answers.”

Karamir set down the cup, and looked back up at Abanoc. Answers? Yes, that was what he wanted. And he could still remember the questions. He took the god’s hand.

Abanoc pulled Karamir up to his feet. “I cannot promise to answer them all, but sharing what I do know is of no burden. What knowledge do you seek?”

”What is this place?” Karamir asked, taking another look around.

“My realm. The Sphere I merely call the Observatory. As with all other gods in our conception, I too crafted a world of my own. From here all of Galbar is visible.” He pointed at the mirror atop the pillars. “That is how I came to know of you. And this book holds the information the mirror shows in its pages.” Then he showed the Archive.

Karamir raised his eyebrows. A book? He had seen books in the Palace of Dreams. Some had been barely legible, or downright confusing, but others had contained wealths of information. There were more pressing concerns on his mind, however. ”I was travelling with the Avatar of Kalmar - a bird named Arryn. Do you know where he is?”

“He entered Eurysthenes’ Maze looking for you. I have a limited vision of his domain, but I unfortunately can’t quite discern its patterns. If you can reach out to Eurysthenes himself he could show you the way if he was inclined to it, but I feel he wouldn’t. As the master of enigmas he wouldn’t so easily tell one the solution of his works.”

So Arryn was in the maze? And Karamir hadn’t met him. He could be anywhere. ”Do you know how long I was in there?”

“I have not seen your path through the Maze in its entirety, but from the moment you entered to now would represent about ten days in Galbar. You have a remarkable endurance to have lasted so long without nourishment.”

Ten days? How had thirst or hunger not killed him? Then again, Arryn did tell him that he had been made more resilient. Perhaps that explained it. If Arryn was in the maze, Karamir likely would not find him, and he did not want to risk going back in. Hopefully the Avatar would find his own way out, but Karamir couldn’t help but feel a sense of guilt for making Arryn go there in the first place.

He pushed the feelings aside. He could not change a decision that had already been made ten days ago. ”So if you can see all of Galbar, and you record that information… does this mean you know everything?”

“Not quite, I’m afraid.” He replied with a grimace. “At first I was only able to see half of Galbar due to my lack of power at the moment. That has been remedied since long, but I lost parts of the creation of land and life. That and I also have no vision of the Spheres beneath Galbar’s surface and I can only see parts of the neighboring Spheres.”

”What can you tell me about the Architect?” Karamir suddenly asked.

“He forged Galbar before we gods were. He pulled our souls, and many others, from the various planes of existence and gave some of us the title of gods and Galbar for us to work with. He’s a quiet observer, much like myself, and his purposes aren’t clear to us. He sits above all of us inside a domain of his own, a moon, orbiting Galbar. That is all I know of him.”

Nothing Karamir had not been told already. It was almost disappointing. Still, there were other questions. And one particularly interesting one came to mind. ”You say you record all that happens on Galbar. For who - The Architect? Yourself? Other gods?”

“Other than power, The Architect imbued us with purpose as well. I was simply ordered to monitor Galbar, but I know he does not need me for that. Although I was not told to do so, I also intend to share what information I have with others. Due to the nature of my work, however, I cannot leave my Sphere unattended for long, even if my Archive also stores information. You also happen to be my first visitor, so I had but a single opportunity to share my knowledge so far.”

He was the first? Really? His eyes widened slightly at that. Suddenly this encounter felt so much more important. ”So you intend to share your knowledge with others?”

“Yes, though I was not able to as of lately. Long ago I gave the first Dreamer the means to reach my level of knowledge. It was the first time I taught someone anything, and though I hoped she would spread the seeds of her learnings through Galbar, she has done well to teach her children so far.” He said with a faint smile on his face, the first change from his ever present deadpan expression, but it quickly faded away.

Karamir, meanwhile, began to frown as he suddenly recalled a conversation. ”I do not think that knowledge will spread beyond Tendlepog,” he suggested. ”K’nell is very protective of his people; he discourages them from leaving, and both his ‘Warden’ and his Dreamers are wary toward outsiders. From what I heard, only one of them was willing to leave, and the rest could not understand why.” His frown deepened.

“Regrettably us gods have very different goals that we seek to achieve. We may find union at times, but only among a few of us. For whatever purpose The Architect willed this discordance to be, but as his own goals are a secret I do not know why he did so. My own goals are to record events and share information, and as long there are developments in Galbar I will have purpose. I could not foresee K’nell would intervene with the Dreamers as he did, but in doing so he hampered my own goals.”

Karamir nodded slowly. ”If the Dreamers do have this knowledge, then whatever it might be, it doesn’t seem fair that they keep it to themselves only. Would it be possible for you to share it with more people?”

“Certainly, but I will not reap their knowledge, even if they err in hoarding it. I hoped more would find their way here throughout the ages, but alas you were the very first. As we speak there are many people growing in Galbar, people that could make use of my knowledge. I will soon have to take matters into my own hands to remedy that.”

”What can you tell me of these people?” Karamir asked curiously.

“There is much to that question to answer summarily. Come here.” He directed Karamir to the Archive and, upon approach, golden glyphs appeared on the pages. “I highlighted the information regarding Galbar’s population on these pages. Though reading them may exhaust whatever energy you have left, it’ll be burned to your memory as if carvings on a rock’s surface.”

Karamir looked down at the glyphs, and it was as if information was flowing directly into his mind. He learned of the watery servants of Shengshi. The Ihokhur, stone-men of Ohannekeloi. The Jotundar, fiery soldiers of Sartravius, scattered and dispersed after decades of battle. The Selka; seals who had been granted sapience by the Blood God Kirron. The Pygmies, creations of the ape, Anu. The Nebulites, recently made by the God Orvus. The Kostral, cannibalistic spawn of Narzhak. The Luminous Ones, children of Asceal. And the Dragonborn, of which there were still only two.

With each new piece of information, his eyelids began to droop, and energy began to drain from him. His legs grew unsteady, he could no longer keep his eyes open, and before he hit the ground he had already fallen asleep.




He awoke some time later.

“You’ve come to, I see. I suppose that was too much for a recently starved man, even if of divine origin.” Abanoc’s voice could be heard from below. Karamir realized he had been placed on Abanoc’s throne. “Not the best place for one to rest, but it is what marble can offer.”

”All those people…” Karamir spoke softly, rising to his feet. He was still hungry and thirsty, but the sleep had restored a great deal of energy. ”They’re all down there, scattered across Galbar?”

“Yes. Were your sight the same as mine you would see them for yourself through the mirror. They all have their own nurturing deity, and though I wish not to interfere in my siblings’ goals, I am compelled to uplift them all to some degree.” He turned to face Karamir, now at the same level as he was. “Would you like to learn more?”

Karamir nodded, this time without hesitation. ”Yes,” he said, unable to prevent eagerness from creeping into his voice.

”Although…” Karamir then hesitated. ”Some of these things I would like to discover in person. It’s one thing to learn about it here, it’s another thing to go and experience it with my own eyes. Someday I would like to go and see all these different people for myself. But the world is dangerous; do you know of any ways I might become more powerful, so I can defend myself?”

Abanoc smiled upon hearing that. “There is a power recently discovered by a child of gods. Mana, energy flowing through all of Galbar, its Spheres and the gods that made them. It is made manifest through the elements of fire, water, earth and air and, should you learn to manipulate Mana, you can bend these elements as you will.” Abanoc sparked a flame in his hands as a demonstration. “I am no stranger to this energy, however. My own world before this one had energies all too similar to Galbar’s. But as you were born in Galbar you are held to its limitations of Mana. Take a seat, this could take long to pass on to you and I’m afraid you cannot learn from the Archive in your current state.”

Karamir obeyed, taking a seat on one of the steps instead of the throne. ”Alright,” he said. ”I’m ready to hear this.”

Abanoc started his lesson with no further ado. He explained that mana can be found in fires, huge bodies of water, gusts of wind and lands filled with plant life or rocky formations. He also told of how mana acts in these particular cases. Abanoc made more demonstrations on how manipulating raw mana into specific ways makes it manifest in the various elements and that it can be expended, but recovered over time after it had been manipulated extensively.

And throughout it all, Karamir soaked in every single detail. Mana was everywhere, and with it, he could do anything… well, maybe not anything, but the possibilities on what he could learn seemed nearly endless. ”So if I work hard enough, I can bend this mana to my will… how long do you think that will take?”

“Perhaps you can already perform the basics. Merely knowing of something can have a huge impact on things. But to master this will take time. It could be months, years, decades. Your talent and dedication will be the determining factor.”

Karamir nodded in understanding. ”Then I should get started as quickly as possible.”

“I wish you luck in your future endeavours. Before you leave, however, I have but one request of you. Wherever you go share whatever knowledge you can spare with the people you meet.” Abanoc approached Karamir and laid his hand upon his shoulder. “I will give you one last power before you leave. The people of Galbar speak different languages and write in different words. You will need to understand them if you hope to meet them yourself.” And through that touch he taught Karamir how to understand the spoken and written languages of Galbar.

Once more, information seemed to flow directly into his mind. His eyebrows widened in surprise. He recalled one of the books he had found in the Palace - the one where only a handful of glyphs were decipherable - and wondered if he would be able to read it all, should he somehow go back. It was unlikely that he would, but still - who was to say he wouldn’t find other books in his travels?

”Thank you, Abanoc.” he said. ”But is there a way to get to Galbar without going back the way I came?”

“Step over the boundary of that gate and you will find yourself in Galbar again.” He pointed at an archway directly beneath the mirror. “You can use the same path to return here should you desire.”

Karamir approached the archway, looked back, and nodded. ”I would like to return some day, if that’s alright. Thank you again.” And with those words he stepped through the gateway.

As soon as Karamir had left the Observatory, Abanoc returned to his throne. He could already see Karamir next to his stone book at the top of the Kick’s mountains. With a satisfied sigh, Abanoc returned to his duties.




Karamir blinked at the sudden sunlight. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust, but when they did he saw that he was in front of a stone book, near the top of a mountain. He turned around and was confronted by an impressive view. From this vantage point, he could see a vast distance.

The landscape looked somewhat familiar, and he felt as if he had seen it before. It was not Kalgrun, it was not Dragon’s Foot, and it was not Tendlepog… which meant it had to be that thin continent he once passed over with Diana.

He breathed in the fresh mountain air, which came as a great relief after his time in the maze. He was still hungry and thirsty. He needed food, and water. But first…

Abanoc had told him about mana. How it was everywhere, and how it was possible for him to harness it if he could figure out how. And so, he began to concentrate. How much mana was in the area right now, he wondered, being so close to the gateway of a sphere? His focus deepened, and he imagined a ball of fire appearing in his hand.

Then a tiny spark leapt from his finger, and he nearly jumped in surprise. It worked. Not quite the way he hoped, and far from impressive, but it was something. Alone on the mountaintop, he smiled to himself.

Though perhaps he should have tried something less dangerous than fire…











FP: 03 MP: 09




FP: 08 MP: 08


“... Just as you learned the steps of the grand dance through your dreams, those after you shall learn the steps of life through the same medium. A challenge to ensure their greatness, as your own challenge hews you into greatness.”

The final words of the explanation rang in Hermes’ head as her eyes slowly opened. The sky was still dark purple, indicated she had woke up a little earlier than she normally does, only tendering nine hours of sleep. She yawned and stretched, her arms and legs creaking as they hovered off of her bed of leaves.

A gentle fire crackled, throwing orange warmth on her face. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the sensation, her content -- yet sleepy -- smile only fading as her hand slid over her stomach.

Their campsite sat at the foot of a sheer, and mighty cliff: the second to last obstacle on their way to Arae, but the perfect place to wait for the Goddess. Xiaoli was a shout’s distance away down at the beach, seemingly collecting rocks and pebbles. She had already gathered some sand back at the campsite - claiming that it would be used to build them a shelter.

Hermes sat up, scratching her head, her braid now a frizzy mess. She sighed and looked down at her hands, turning them a fun sandy color. Smirking slightly she moved past the sleeping Poppler and sat down by the pile of sand, using her palm to create a smooth, flat surface of the grains, and her fingers to draw whatever came to mind, and whatever her lacking artistic ability could create.

“It ought to be a little wetter before you try to shape it,” Xiaoli said with a giggle. She put an armful and some more rocks down on the ground next to the sand and clapped her hands clean.

“I know,” Hermes said softly as she looked up, “I’m just making a few figures for the fun of it.”

She wiped her hand over the sandy slate, erasing a few stick figures. She stared at the empty canvas for a second before looking back up at Xiaoli, “I’m sorry.”

Xiaoli, who was in the middle of stacking some rocks on top of one another, turned to Hermes with a quizzical expression. “Sorry for what, dear?” she inquired.

“You wanted to explore Galbar, and show me your home,” Hermes folded her legs and leaned on her knees with her elbows, “But now you’re with me, chasing my dreams.”

There was a pause. Xiaoli blinked, but soon turned back to her stones with a soft smile on her lips. “Well, Fengshui Fuyou is not going anywhere - whereas we have the opportunity here to give you what you have always wanted.” She stood back up, carrying four rocks in her hand. She crossed the campsite horizontally and started stacking rocks on the opposite end of the fire.
“I think your dreams are more important,” she said.

When she had finished stacking the rocks, she stood back up. She flattened her palms against the ground and closed her eyes. Soon, the sand pile, as well as the remaining stones, snaked their way over to the pebble piles Xiaoli had prepared. The stones grew red hot, melding together into pillars; the sand compacted into stone, forming walls; finally, shale from the cliff behind them formed a roof. Xiaoli looked around their little abode and gave Hermes a wide grin. “What do you think?”

Hermes’ train of thought was derailed as she watched the spectacle, reciprocating the smile with one of her own, “I like it! Always a surprise.”

She hopped to her feet and scooped up the sleeping Poppler, “I need one of these on Tendlepog,” She commented idly as she peered inside.

Xiaoli blushed and waved frantically. “It’s not -that- nice. If I was to make you one on Tendlepog, it would be a mansion!” She threw her arms in the air to illustrate the potential size of one of these mansions.

“What would you put in all that space?” Hermes turned to Xiaoli, cocking her head, but nonetheless clearly impressed by the idea.

Xiaoli clapped her hands excitedly and knelt down in the sand, quickly drawing up a near-flawless sketch of a potential mansion, inciting a playful - yet slightly envious - silent gasp from Hermes. She first pointed to the outer ring of the mansion.

“This would be where your servants would live - the living quarters would be quite roomey, likely fitting at least ten servants per room; that would be incredibly prestigious to your status, highly recommended.” She drummed her fingers on her chin. “You would likely also keep the kitchens here, as they are close to the servants’ quarters and far away from your own chambers, meaning that you could safely evacuate in case of a fire - oh my, you could fit quite the kitchen in one of these…” She patted the leftmost part of the servant's quarters.

She then pointed to the central courtyard, which according to the drawing begun with the gate to the outer ring, was flanked by one two-roomed building on each side, and ended with a large house at the far end. She first gestured to the large house.

“Alright, -this- is where you would host guests, eat your meals with your family and attend to most of your daily affairs. Yours would be extra large to account for all the friends who will come to visit you all the time!” She grinned warmly at Hermes and then pointed to the house on the right of the courtyard. “This is where you and your family would sleep. It would be nice and snuggly, with one room for you and your…” She swallowed, face flushing a little. “... Partner, and one room for your children.” She pointed to the final building, the one to the left of the courtyard. “Should your family be particularly large, however, you could likely use the guest rooms as rooms for your children, too, I suppose. So! What do you think?” Xiaoli winked playfully at Hermes.

Hermes’ hand pressed against her own stomach as she listened intently, “It sounds like a dream,” She smiled, “A big family.” She barely said the words, but as if answering an unasked question. Hermes stared for a while longer, as if the images were real, when finally she craned her neck and looked up at Xiaoli, “You’re so good to me.” Xiaoli’s face turned completely pink and some steam rose up from under her hair, soliciting a cheshire smile.

Hermes paused, “What about you, what are your dreams?”

The steam subsided and her chalk-white colour returned. For a slight pause, she did not say anything.

“I-...” she finally said. “I… Don’t know. Upon my birth, I already possessed all the knowledge needed to perform my duties, and more; and yet, I cannot for the life of me imagine an existence beyond those duties.” She glanced over at Hermes, her eyes betraying a hint of anxiety. “In all honesty, Hermes… I’m terrified. My soul is divine and my mind is nearly unlimited in potential - yet I cannot fathom of a dream.” Pools began to well up in her large eyes and she immediately raised her hands to wipe them away.

Taking one of Xiaoli’s hands, Hermes laced her fingers with hers and held it up to her chin, “Xiaoli,” she said with a balance of care and seriousness, “What do you want, more than anything else?”

Xiaoli recoiled slightly, but didn’t let go of Hermes’ hand. “I-... I cannot say. It wouldn’t be-” She crashed against the house wall. She raised her eyes to look at Hermes’, but quickly cast them away. “It wouldn’t be appropriate…” she said somberly.

Pursing her lips, Hermes digested Xiaoli’s words, her mind abuzz, “Then you don’t have to tell me,” she offered, “But, make it happen, for you. If you want it, and you feel it is right, then a person as great as you should be able to have it.”

Xiaoli relaxed a little, chuckling softly; however, her laughter was laced with sorrow and her eyes were misty. “It would be nice… If it was that easy.” She took a deep breath. “... But this dream must also want me.” She looked at Hermes with large, quivering eyes before finally pulling away and moving to the doorway.

“I, uhm… I will see if I can find us something to eat, alright? I won’t be long.” She then promptly left.

Xiaoli’s fingers left a phantom sensation in Hermes’ hand. She was speechless as she watched Xiaoli leave, her brow furrowing in contemplation. Looking back down at her tingling hand, she closed it, letting it fall to her side.

She stood there frozen for a lot longer than she knew why, and then with a sudden resolve, she marched out of the house, Poppler zipping into her braid.

The immediate area was largely empty: The beach was only visited by the lapping waves; the mountain behind showed no sign of the river girl. Wherever she was, she had moved a distance away from the house.

Tapping her chin, Hermes zoomed off to the left, picking it over the right, remarking to herself on how quickly Xiaoli disappeared, or perhaps it was a testament to how long she really stood in silence.

The crags of the coast zipped by as Hermes continued her search. After not finding Xiaoli in the direction she chose, she decided to turn around and try the other way, blurring past the house again.

The other side of the island also proved fruitless - until Hermes spotted a series of small, twinkling lights by a rock, far out in the sea. Upon closer inspection, the twinkles shone through black strains and blue silk. This had to be her.

Thanking K'nell for her sandals (one time of many), Hermes fluttered over to the lone rock, her eyes focusing on the scene.

Xiaoli sat with her knees pressed against her chest and her forehead pressed against her caps. While the waves were tall and their sound deafening, none of them seemed to touch her, for some reason, and none of them could quite drown out the heartbreaking sounds of the river girl’s sobs. She appeared to not notice Hermes approaching, or was possibly just feigning ignorance.

Hermes’ heart dropped, her skin turning a light periwinkle. Doing her best to avoid the powerful waves, Hermes made her way to Xiaoli, all but crawling across the rock as she made her landing. She moved cautiously, sitting herself next to her friend. Not knowing what to do, she fiddled with her own hands, lifting and dropping an arm.

Xiaoli extended forth a hand, the rising heliopolis twinkling off the many grains of sand that made up her skin. She chuckled weakly and mumbled somberly, “I suppose I am pretty easy to find in the daylight, huh…” She looked to Hermes with red-ringed eyes and smiled.

“Don’t worry about me, dear Hermes. It just took a little longer than expected to find food around here. I will be back shortly. You can wait inside if you want.”

Squeezing Xiaoli's hand, for the first time actually feeling the grainy skin underneath, Hermes shook her head, “I'm not hungry. Food is stressful anyways,” she produced a small smile for her friend.

Xiaoli squeezed back, but proportionally weaker. She looked forward again, out to the sea. “My Lord would hate it here. It is much too salty for his liking. I, however, think that it’s rather magnificent. A large, empty land, uninterrupted by mountains or forests. Charming in a melancholic way, almost.” She let her eyes run over Hermes again.

“Her Holiness Ashalla really made you beautiful, you know.”

Hermes looked down at her lap, a lot of thoughts she never heard before bounding in her head. Looking back up she caught Xiaoli's eyes, “Xiaoli?” Her voice was cautious.

Xiaoli looked back. “Yes?”

“I know I just said you don't have to tell me,” She began, “But I'm worried. This seems like it's eating you up inside, and I don't know what to do or say.”

“My head,” Hermes continued, “It feels full lately, with new thoughts and ideas and dreams and-” she pursed her lips, her gaze unwavering, “and a lot of them are - well - with you.” She paused, “I guess what I'm trying to say, is whatever is making you sad, I want to help.”

Xiaoli’s face flushed. “A-a lot of them are-... With me?” She grew slightly smaller, but squeezed Hermes’ hand harder. “Please… Just leave it be…” She looked away again. “Please don’t give me hope like this…”

Hermes scooted closer, her shoulders now facing Xiaoli. She lifted her hands as if she was about to say something-

“You two were a lot easier to find than I thought.” Abanoc revealed himself suddenly, floating above the seawater. “Hermes, and Shenshi’s avatar, Xiaoli. I am Abanoc, and I hope you can spare a moment.”

Xiaoli very nearly jumped into the air. She very certainly spun around to face the god and, not wasting a single moment, slammed her forehead and palms to the ground, her pulse having audibly increased.

“Your Holiness Abanoc, forgive this uncultured servant for not noticing Your holy presence earlier. The transgression is unacceptable and this servant will not commit it again.” She maintained her pose after finishing her words.

Hermes completely froze, her eyes staring hard at the God. It took her a second but soon her eyes softened to something friendlier, “Oh!,” She stole a cue from the situation, and managed to force something of a smile, “Of course, how can we help, Abanoc?”

“There’s no need for formalities, Xiaoli. If anything I’m the one in need of being pardoned for disturbing your privacy.” He approached the two girls and sat down on the rock near them. “I have been tasked with observing Galbar and what transpires in it and in doing so I have repeatedly seen your interactions with other deities. You’ve piqued my interest and I wish to aid you as well.”

“That's very thoughtful of you,” Hermes replied, her mind still adjusting to the sudden change in topic. She shifted to better face Abanoc, the radiation of the conversation prior hot on her back, “what do you have in mind?”

“I came in hope of teaching you a few things. As a scholar I gathered much knowledge in my days as a mortal and saw in you the opportunity to pass on some of it.”

Hermes cocked her head to the side, her usual curiosity back in her voice, “You were a mortal?” Xiaoli raised her torso, trying as discreetly as possible to wipe the tears out of her eyes.

“Yes, as in fact several of the other deities that formed this world were. The sovereign created the base and we were to improve it. He pulled souls from many places, some were divine from the start, others not so.”

Hermes folded her legs and sat upright, “I never heard any of this -- the sovereign?”

“The Architect, as he calls himself. He is the sovereign for he is above even us gods.”

Shocked, Hermes looked over at Xiaoli as if to relay her surprise, only for her stomach to twist when Xiaoli's eyes reminded her of their unended conversation. It took her a few seconds, but she managed to peel her eyes back to Abanoc, “So,” she cleared her throat, “The Architect made the gods into gods?”

“Yes.”

“Many remember their previous lives to different extents, though some barely remember it at all, according to my Lord. His Lordship himself can no longer recall his existence before Creation,” Xiaoli added, lowering her sleeve from her eyes. “Though forgive this servant for asking, Your Holiness: What piqued Your Holiness’ interest in us, in particular? What have we done to attract the attention of Your exalted presence?”

“You seek to learn new things, no?”

“Yes,” Hermes answered simply, fighting through a combination of curiosity and concern.

Xiaoli got to her feet and bowed. “Ah, naturally. It is always a joy to learn. As His Lordship’s advisor, it… It is expected of this servant to learn, after all.” She looked down for a moment. “Pardon this servant’s insolence, Your Holiness, but could this servant make a request?” She got back on her knees and prostrated herself once more.

“Ask away. I am here to teach after all.”

Xiaoli sat back up, but hesitated for a moment. “H-how fares… His Lordship, if this servant may ask?” she finally managed to say after a pause. Hermes eyes flickered between the two.

“He appeared to be looking for you. The last I saw of him he was speaking with Asceal. He seems deeply troubled.”

“R-really? He is-... Looking for me?” Her voice betrayed both joy and shame. “... And he is troubled… My absence must have disrupted his work! Does… Does Your Holiness know where His Lordship is?” Her voice turned near desperate causing a twist to form in Hermes’ face.

“He searched for you in your birthplace. He may not be there anymore, however. I cannot see much of Galbar being this close.”

Xiaoli rocketed back to her feet and looked southwards. “My birthplace… S-... Shengshi…” Her tears welled up and she covered her mouth with both hands. She turned to Hermes, then back to the south.

“Hermes, I…”

“We can go,” Hermes announced, eyes firm.

Xiaoli looked at Hermes with a loving smile, but then turned to Abanoc to bow yet again. “Your Holiness, forgive us for not including Your exalted presence in the conversation. It is the truest of honours to be within Your sacred aura, yet this servant confesses she has asked all that she had on her mind. She hopes His Holiness has no qualms about that.”

“If that was all you wished to learn, then so be it. And forgive me for disturbing you, it was not my intention to do so.” He then turned his gaze to Hermes. “And what questions would you have?”

Hermes was pulled from her thoughts, her eyes turning to Abanoc with furrowed brows, “I have so many questions, and so many things I want to learn,” she pursed her lips, “but I think with this new information about Shengshi, time may be against my own curiosity.”

“Oh, don’t be silly, Hermes. Ask away! I doubt His Lordship is going anywhere now that he is home.” Xiaoli smiled, but there was something about her eyes; a worried stare that outright contradicted her statement.

“No,” Hermes shook her head, “another time, or another way.”

Standing up, Hermes walked over to Abanoc, and without a word pressed her finger on his cheek, “Thank you.”

“If have no questions then I will not press on it, however...” He materialized a small book on his hands and gave it to Hermes. “You may find answers here for when I cannot provide them myself.”

Xiaoli quickened to, as if remembering something. “But Hermes!” She walked over to grab her hand and squeezed it tightly. “Your… Your dream.” Her gaze was fixed on the Dreamer’s stomach.

“We cannot leave yet! We have yet to see Arae.”

“I know,” Hermes produced a small smile, squeezing her hand back, while accepting the book with the other, “But she could be away for a long time, and we know where Shengshi is.”

Letting out a long sigh she looked at Abanoc, “I want you to know how much I appreciate this, perhaps you already know, but someday I intend to be a teacher like you.”

“I do know of it and I hope you perform grandly. And one more thing.” Abanoc materialized a leather bag on his hands and gave it to Hermes as well. “You carry many a thing with you, this’ll help with storing your belongings.” Xiaoli gaped and clapped excitedly.

“Such magnificent work, Your Holiness!” she exclaimed.

Hermes seemed to brighten tremendously as this, her very color changing to a sunny yellow, “This… Is…” Her cheshire smile emerged, “perfect!”

Wasting no time she slipped the book into the bag and quickly strapped her weapons to the side. Sliding her arms through the hoops and slinging it onto her back she gave out a relieved sigh, “I don't know how many times I almost dropped Xiaoli due to the awkwardness of the spear,” she extended her arms, the weight finally manageable.

“I’d rather not have known that, honestly,” Xiaoli said in a mixture of playfulness and concern. She suddenly gave Hermes a serious stare. “Are you certain about this, Hermes? His Holiness Abanoc can teach you all you could ever ask, and Arae will finally make you fertile when she arrives. Why would you sacrifice all that for my sake?”

The sunny yellow faded as Hermes was confronted with her thoughts again. Managing her smile she shook her head, “I'm sure. I care, about you, we need to do this.”

Xiaoli blinked and her skin turned pink. She whispered something under her flustered breath, one of the words rhyming with ‘dove’, for some reason.

“I'm sure we will meet again, when there is plenty of time for learning,” Hermes looked to Abanoc. She gave a quick glance to the island behind them, all but whispering a vow, “I'll be back.”

“Very well.” He said standing up. “Until then study the book daily. If you wish to find me look for the stone book atop the mountains of Pāṟa, it’ll take you to my home. Farewell for now, I will not bother you further. Abanoc took the air again and left Hermes and Xiaoli.

When the god had left, Xiaoli did not hesitate. She skipped over to Hermes and threw her arms around her in a tight hug, squeezing so hard that some of the water underneath her skin began to squirt out. “Thank you - thank you so much, my Hermes,” she whispered.

Initially caught by surprise, Hermes was pulled from her thoughts. Wrapping her arms around Xiaoli, she squeezed back in silence, a soft smile on her face and a warm sensation in her stomach. “I care,” was all she managed before suddenly turning into a blur.

From the Dragon’s crown, the trio rocketed southward as a comet of colours.






Abanoc


Much had I observed since I began my work. Some of my brothers and sisters set out to shape Galbar, others claimed their domains beneath its surface or in the distant sky like me.

The neighboring domains were well within my sight. I did not lend them much heed, but at times I noticed how they affected my own.

Aelius’ sun would often shine slightly brighter than usual and it hid the stars from my view like in my previous life, replacing them for a sky blue backdrop with no clouds. I did not mind the change as it hindered me not and clear skies like this one was nostalgic to say the least.

Asceal’s comet had a similar effect to the aforementioned sun, but occurred less often. Strange given that she was the one governing over light and not Aelius.

Eurysthenes’ labyrinth was a troublesome one. It scrambled the shape of my Observatory, affecting even my throne. I had to make a conscious effort to keep the mirror stable so as to not affect my observations.

Katharsos’ domain was by far the most interesting. I only noticed its presence by observing that some stars would appear as from nothing and vanish just as suddenly. If possible I’d like to understand his work in the future, but I had not the time to spare at the moment.

Melantha’s dark veil covered the stars as if devouring my own demain, but it never managed to cover over half of my view of them and neither did it obscure the mirror. Ultimately it didn’t bother me much.

Lastly Orvus’ moon was almost a threat to my domain were I not careful for its influence. The marble would sometimes darken, crack and crumble on various places. They were never too big, but I imagine they could pile up if neglected.

I could only wonder what the Observatory did to my siblings’ Spheres. There were other Spheres in my sights, but they did not affect mine in any noticeable way. Or at least not yet. It was better that way. Less distractions to deal with.

Speaking of distractions, Melantha, Aelius and Asceal put up quite the show of might. Given their nature I suppose it was inevitable that a clash would occur, I did not, however, expect it to happen so soon or for it to be so grand.

Soon after the light of Asceal’s comet climaxed, only for it to vanish. The escalation of events was rapid to say the least. I feel for my sister’s loss, but I’m not the one that can support her at this time.

The object of my observation had changed drastically since the Architect summoned us, for better or for worse. Some landmasses were raised in an organic manner, even if strongly facilitated by divine will, while others were the result of violence.

A meteor struck the ocean and formed an archipelago around its crater. Phystene quickly worked upon it to fill it with life at least. Had the meteor struck when civilizations had risen it could’ve been catastrophic.

Narzhak also caused some damage, or would have if there was anything of note to be damaged in the continent Kirron made. This land would later be the focus of many a god’s work.

Good grief… I suppose every pantheon deserves their troublesome bunch.

I’m afraid I lost the creation of some landmasses and the developments done to them. By the time the mirror reflected the northern continents they had already been formed. This frustrated me much, needless to say. I wish I could solve this issue right away, but I’m unsure if I can with the current power I have.

I will solve this issue when I have the means, as much as it pains me to delay this. For the time being I shall focus on my duty…

“That one is…”

The girl Hermes stood out among my observations. Not the only mortal to have emerged, but one of the first to be sapient. She encountered several gods, learned from them, gained gifts and gathered companions. She had potential. And I saw an opportunity in her. It wouldn’t correct what my past negligence had caused, but in this new world I could prevent the same things from happening.

Yet I could not leave my post…

“‘Tis not the time for brooding…”

As I stood up from my throne and walked the steps the marble directly in front of the stair rose and formed a book stand, upon which I laid what it was meant to hold. I imbued it with my power, its cover shining in gold and the pages in silver. In no time the pages began to be filled with information. This would work for now.

Stepping over the boundary of my Observatory I was adrift a sea of stars. They soon vanished as I entered Galbar’s limits, replaced by the golden light of the morning sun. I had descended upon one of the many mountains of Pāṟa. I drew in a breath, the cold air of the mountains filled my body and even gave me shivers. This body wasn’t so different to a mortal’s it seemed.

Now that I had left my home I had to forge myself a way back. I’ve seen some of my sibling doing it, it should be an easy task. The rock of the mountain formed yet another book stand which was promptly occupied by a stone book with blank pages. The connection was made, now back to the task at hand.







Abanoc


Dark. Empty. Endless. This is all I knew since the day I died. For all my attempts to gather knowledge, to be enlightened, I find myself in utter darkness. At first I had been distressed, but eventually I retained my sanity by reliving my past through memories. Remembering my childhood, my discoveries, the books I read and imagining how it could be had things been different, had I chosen differently. But eventually I began to grow tired of it as well…

An unexpected change in the void of afterlife brought surprise to me for the first time in who knows since when. Something pulled me. A force akin to a vacuum dragged me somewhere. when the force subsided I found myself in a cavern, but still numb from the previous nothingness I couldn’t quite grasp my surroundings well.

By the time I recovered my senses I noticed several other beings around me and beyond, sat on a throne above us, lied a colossus with one eye and radiating power.

"Baser beings, your place is yonder."

He said and I found myself surging with a power I knew not of.

"I bid you welcome to the realm of my creation." his words finally resonated. "I am the Architect of this place, of these Spheres. I have chosen you serendipitous few to be my builders, my hands, the extension of my will. There is much work that remains before us."

"You know what must be done."

With his words I was now filled with meaning. I was now a god. We were all gods. And I was to record the events of this new world. Fate had still more ways to toy with me...

The other beings mustered their powers to acquire forms. I knew their names despite having never met them, but I had yet to truly know them, so I simply observed them. Acquiring a form for myself would require effort and distract me, so I chose instead to keep my base form.

I learned of Katharsos. He immediately chased after the remaining souls that hadn’t become divine thus not showing anything other than his dedication to his work.

I learned of Chopstick Eyes. Her almost childlike demeanor made her pure in a way, but I also saw her potential for harming others.

I learned of Arae. Filled with love and wishing nothing but to see us all in unison as a family.

I learned of Asceal. Her brightness was enough to set the cavern alight, perhaps revealing her as proud, but wasn’t blinding as it was fitting for her gentleness.

I learned of Sartravius. Being fire incarnate he was as temperamental as one would expect.

I learned of Shengshi. With a beaming smile he seemed to be the most energetic of the gods here.

I learned of Melantha. The defiant expression on her face reflected her wickedness.

I learned of Narzhak. His words and prolonged laughter were somewhat disturbing. He radiated a special kind of madness.

I learned of Urhu. Being still seemed to bore her, but she soon found a way to remedy it by helping our sister out of her good will.

I learned of Parvus. He was meek and didn’t show much worth noting, perhaps due to seeing the others as untrustworthy.

I learned of Li'Kalla. Her sadness was such that even I could feel it. Fate seemed to have made a plaything out of her as well…

I learned of Vakk. Like Katharsos, he immediately left showing nothing, but he seemed to have an air of superiority to him. A mysterious one. I hope to learn more about him in the future.

I learned of Anzillu. A chaotic being. I knew not what to expect of this one, but I know it wouldn’t be of benefit to anyone other than itself.

I learned of Aelius. A force for good and well-meaning, I could tell, but somewhat...misguided, I suppose.

I learned of Kalmar. A pure one, as if a beast had been given intelligence. And with this intelligence he seeks to preserve the natural order.

I learned of Azura. She didn’t do much, but her attempt to save Chopstick Eyes showed her as kind and then being amused when failing showed her as a free spirit.

I learned of Seihdhara. Passionate and emotional, much like the image her fiery hair paints her as. And through her I also learned that The Architect doesn’t take kindly to offence.

I learned of Orvus. This one didn’t do much, but the negativity he irradiated was palpable. Yet another toy of fate…

I learned of Eurysthenes. A mystery as well, but this one was made by design. As a being that was purposefully made as an enigma I couldn’t grasp much, if anything, of him.

I learned of Phystene. As if Mother Nature had been given flesh. Like Kalmar, she also seeks to preserve the natural order.

I learned of Ashalla. She wasn’t among the souls made into gods, but she willed herself a form nonetheless. She dislikes corruption, it would seem, at least when it comes to water given her reprimand to Anzillu.

I learned of K'nell. He was confused by his situation, perhaps due to a peculiarity of his, perhaps because there was nothing to fall asleep yet.

I learned of Ohannakeloi. This one manifested as a crab. As per consequence of that he seemed to lack the ability to speak, or perhaps he simply didn’t bother to reply to those that addressed him. Not much else worth noting.

I learned of Kirron... Or did I? I couldn’t grasp this one’s intentions, or what he wanted to do with the blood he touched. I’ll have to pay more attention to this one in the future.

Finally, I learned of Ekon. He was satisfied with his purpose and would act on it diligently.

In time they all finished their pleasantries and aggressions and parted ways. Having nothing else to observe I could now finally start my work proper. First I needed a form, and after reliving my past for so long I could only imagine myself in the same form I last lived with. The same dark complexion, the same body frame, the same marks covering my limbs, the same silver hair and length and the same clothes. As if my past existence had simply jumped from then to now I remain the same. I was - nay - I am Abanoc.

“I vow to perform my task dutifully.”

I said to the Architect before stepping into the platform assigned to me.

In the blink of an eye I was taken from the cavern, which I found to be a moon, and came to a sudden halt in yet another empty void. But this one was different. This one would bow to my whims. Stepping off the platform I touched the void with my bare feet and as I willed there to be solid ground so there was. Godhood had its benefits after all.

Without further ado I began my work on forging my new home. By lifting my hand I summoned lumps of marble and by forming a fist they joined together and formed a platform and pillars. Stepping down on it brought the pillars upon its edges and with as little effort as spreading my arms wide the vast darkness of the beyond was alight with the wonderful lights of the night sky from my previous life.

I found myself smiling for the first time. Perfect and beautiful, the distant mystery that eluded me for so long now surrounded me. Still beyond my grasp they were, but their beauty made up for it. Stepping into the center of the platform the marble shot up to match my movement and formed stairs leading to a throne. And finally, as I sat upon it, three rings were dropped atop the pillars ahead of me, one within another, and at the center of the third a reflection showed Galbar’s surface.

I thought I’d be able to see it in its entirety, but it seemed I lacked the power to do so. I should remedy that post haste, but for now I shall perform my task. My brothers and sisters were already working on their projects.



@BBeast@Cyclone

Very late reply, but I'll have Abanoc make a gateway to his Sphere in Galbar after he's done setting up the Observatory. That'll probably take a while given that I'll have to build a monument pretty early on to help him observe Galbar since Mutton already said he can at best see half of it from his Sphere. Rodent already said he'd help me build it too. I don't know what Abanoc can do to help form Galbar though.
@Cyclone For Portfolios I'm think about going towards Wisdom and Knowledge for now and maybe Interpretation if it comes to that. For Cluster I think Understanding would work or maybe I'll ditch Knowledge as a Portfolio and turn it into a Cluster instead.

When it comes to the effects of his Sphere maybe I can have the stars provide some guidance to people when they learn how to trace them like we did in the past. As for the stars themselves they're just a backdrop, one that can't ever be reached. And I talked with Strange Rodent about his Maze being visible from the Observatory. I talked with Crispy Octopus too and he seems fine with his garden being visible too, but just the comet form. I need to talk with the other players on the Celestial Spheres to be perfectly sure of it, but I think it's fine for their Spheres to be visible from the Observatory in some way.

As for his personality I'll have him go to Galbar in person a couple of times to experience things for himself and spread his knowledge. I already have plans for him making the first books when humans become sufficiently advanced. Although I really can't promise any interactions in conflicts I think I can handle his character without too much trouble. And I'll of course expand his character as things develop IC.
@Double Capybara I'm the same as Frettzo. I'd like to get into the lore of that region, so I'd appreciate that. Also maybe link to the first post.
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