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3 mos ago
Current Birb Scream In Morning As Battery Replacement Alarm Because Birb Not Real.
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Fighting Vagrants Behind Dennys Over Pancake @ 11PM Tonight As Birb.
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BE like bird. Wake in morning. SCREAM at sun. SHIT on enemy.
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Girl is like bird. DO approach calmly. DO greet kindly. DO offer cornchip.
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No man! No woman! Only birb!
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Bio


An absolute WILDCARD of an RPer
(apparently)
Due to sudden and multiple very lengthy hiatus periods, please assume I don't remember who you are but, I probably think your name is familiar. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
U T R A X is a being that likes to Type Words on the INTERNET.

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The Great Northern Glacier... still


Impassively the Ice Golem stared at the gathering of Umbra, which called the cave deep beneath the Northern Glaciers home. Behind them stood Myrtu, who sent an impassive gaze right back to the golem.

Silence passed for a while as the Umbra quietly circled the Ice Golem- their analytical gazes noting every detail, every angle, every potential use and most importantly:
"I think it is... unintelligent," spoke one umbra whose pale-shadow was tinged with pink.
"Yes, but what is it doing?" Asked another Umbra.
"And why is it here?"
"Let's ask..."

And all eyes turned to Myrtu.
And unto them, spoke Myrtu, "I haven't the faintest idea." And lo, did he turn away from the gathering with a whip of his glorious mane, to the sound of a collection of exasperated sighs.

There were more important things to do after all!

With a short increase in pace, Myrtu ventured to the center of the massive cavern and, as he closed his eyes, focused his divine intention deep into the frigid ground below. A wind picked up. Gently did it blow across the various grasses, picking up dust as it did so- dust which began to orbit about Myrtu. This dust, shimmering and glittering in the light of the cavern's walls, were trillions upon trillions of extraordinarily tiny fragments of minerals and ore.

Gathered from the soil beneath the soil, from deep within rocks below, from veins of materials which had yet to be discovered, made of metals unnamed, and even drawn from the discarded piles of ice that had become those mounds- decorated artistically by the small "village" of Umbra living here- the glittering particles of minerals and metals were pulled toward Myrtu's call.

With a toss of his mane, the collected metallic dust condensed into an orb, which continued to grow as more was gathered. Sure, Myrtu knew he could have dove into the ground, pulled all the metal out, but that would have crushed all the pretty flowers about his feet, and that was a bit unacceptable to him.
He had just made those, after all.
And sure, he could have replicated the metals of that distant comet upon which he was awakened so long ago, but that would be no fun and it would not be of this world. He wanted this to be made from materials of this world because it simply needed to be. But he was not going to wait for the required quantity to be taken from the land itself, no- that would take a lot of time and the monument was urgently needed.

Once it was consolidated in an orb larger than his hoof, Myrtu turned abruptly, then with his hind legs KICKED-

Rainbow Light BURST when his hooves made impact with the orb and the wind WOOSHED sharply as the orb all at once grew by a massive order of magnitude within the cavern. Its nature became pure- a glittering pastel-pink metal that had been brought into... being...

"Oops," Myrtu accidentally projected aloud.
And this caused several Umbra behind him to yelp and dash for cover.
Whipping about, Myrtu huffed at them, "No- do not flee- tis not as the prior... incident..."

He hung his head and pawed the ground briefly. This had not gone as intended. There had been several hundred different metals vibrating around in that orb, after all, and he'd wanted them to be strong, see? Very powerful and shiny, too- really tough stuff- and had that mind when he kicked- but he'd miscalculated his kick a bit.

He admitted.

He'd accidentally kicked a single fragment of the metal with his intention and caused a chain reaction- the replication of the metals turned into the replication of the metal, omit the s, and all else was deleted- leaving the orb a single uniform material.

Embarrassing.

A few of the Umbra peeked from behind their ice huts fearfully and Myrtu tossed his mane defiantly at their expectations! It was only one little accident! Myrtu was sure gonna SHOW THEM NOW!

Nobody was going to accidentally get sent out of orbit this time!
He knew exactly what he was doing.
Precisely. Exactly. And if they ever asked him why he said oops, well-
Because. Of reasons.

And so as he turned back to his task, Myrtu thrust his horn into the massive pastel-pink metal orb, and gave it his most DAZZLING of LASER BEAMS.

Lights illuminated across the solid surface, as if they shone from within, as the orb began to transform and take shape. This process of course, caused Myrtu to leap about in glee- dancing as the mighty hooves of the changing metal came into sharp detail. Were it upon the surface, the magnitude of the emerging and completed monument could likely be seen for great distances away, for it took the distinctive shape of a massive Equine.

Powerful muscles rippled in pastel-pink metallic relief, as it reared up upon its hind legs. A mane of godly detail had been created to appear gloriously dancing in the wind, as it was celebrating and reveling in such a pose, what it meant to be free! In pastel pink the Equine's teeth were bared with their sharpened fangs, pointed canines that looked ready to defend and attack defiantly, no matter the enemy or the odds. From its forehead there sprang a massive single horn, for this was the symbol of freedom that pointed toward the means of unlocking ones potential. Brilliant light shone from its back, the divine wings of all that freedom stood for, that added yet another layer of light to the deep-ice cavern.

And thus, the Unicorn Colossus, a monument to all that Myrtu held in highest regard, came to rest its immensely heavy metal hooves upon the ground of the cavern.

"Heed my call- souls of Equines- souls of Kinnaras and Centaur," Myrtu declared both dramatically and unnecessarily as the monument began to glow. YES.
THIS.
THIS was the true purpose!

Those Equines of Myrtu's creation, the Kinnaras and Centaur as well, would have their souls called here. Deep within the heart of this Unicorn Colossus, whose inspiration was plain and clear, there would be housed the souls of Equines, as was the will of the Equine God. Here, had they not the means to live up their potential in life, their souls would be wiped clean of burdens. They would bear no memories of past lives to weigh them down- it would give their souls the best chance of being free in the next life- of becoming all they possibly could!

These mortals deserved the freedom of seeing their potential realized- to end them absolutely or leave them in the Ghostel would be a waste- a horror, even. Mortals deserved as much time as it took, as many recycles as necessary, to be and do and experience what it meant to be themselves- what it meant to have freedom and potential both!

Once wiped clean, those souls would return, as the next child created with the blood of an Equine.

PERFECT! Glorious! Magnificent!

Yet...

Even as Myrtu gazed upon his creation, he knew there was one more thing that must be done.
A reward! A REWARD MUST BE- he was getting ahead of himself-

"Does it move?"
The voice caused Myrtu to turn about anxiously- for they hadn't seen or heard anyone come up-
"What does it do?"
"I think it is... also unintelligent," noted the pale-pink shadow once more.

"Tis a means of utilizing and cleansing a soul- that they might see the task of living up to their potential through glorious return- through birth once more," Myrtu explained to the gathered Umbra. A chorus of 'Oooh' and 'ahhh' spilled fourth.
"Yet it doth lack- there needs to be- ah- I shall return!" Myrtu took to the air in an instant.

One Umbra looked to another then mumbled, as Myrtu flew off, "At least we won't starve this time..."

Once outside of the cavern, Myrtu landed atop the ice, then stared upward.
The skies above danced with those brilliant and unnamed lights of his own creation.

Ah, but it seemed so long ago, that he'd set them free in the skies- free to roam about the world as they wished- that all in the night might behold them, yet here they were.
How wonderful.
Here they were.

Yes. This. They would be the next piece of the cycle.
Those that realized their potential deserved a final and absolute rest- their potential and all their energy deserved to be used in a brilliant and glorious way! In the skies above, they could watch the world, as their souls dissolved- energy raining down slowly on the world below- giving back to the place which they called home. But only if they could break their cycle of reincarnation- free themselves from it. How peaceful would it be to simply stare down at the world from on high, as these lights roamed across it, taking in its beauty for one last time, as one slowly dissolved into nothing?

Quietly Myrtu contemplated this.

For a very long time.

edit: clarified point expenditure


Yalisith, He Was Called




A deep exhale followed the wiping of sweat from his brow. The elven man looked over his shoulder, down into the cavern below. He was always rather captivated by how high up the climb to Yalisith's roost was. Sometimes, he wondered what it would be like to jump...

Swallowing hard, swallowing the thought, he lowered his head as he walked into the only path forward. This was a steep upward climb and a path he'd walked before. The path was but a split in the rock, wide enough for Yalisith to soar through unhindered, and only just tall enough that the dragon's talons did not scrape the stone below him during such a flight.

Like many tunnels here in the Treasure Goblet, this one was but a dead end.

Squelching noises echoed on the edge of hearing from the far end of the path. Though it was dark here, for the light of the Treasured Goblet did not reach this far, the walls were illuminated by those bio-luminescent fungi and plants that the Dragon had brought in. A soft and sickly green hue illuminated the dark and the elven man walked slowly, so that his eyes could adjust, or so he told himself.

Once again, he bit his lip, and turned his mind away from that path of thought.

He was a mediator and he should be proud.
That was what he always told himself.

As the uphill climb leveled out, he finally lifted his gaze, and stared into the verdant darkness. He could see the golden scales of the dragon catching the light in an otherworldly greenish hue. The beast's massive jaws were moving as he was in the middle of a meal- that much the elf could deduce from the sounds before, yet it was always nauseous to witness-

For what separated him from the desiccated pile of limbs was nothing but a thought-

- one that he should not think-

Fear gripped him still, despite him digging his nails into his palms against it, but he needed to speak. He had no reason to fear Yalisith, for Yalisith was kind to him, yet...

- that damn thought again-

"Forgive me," began the elf, his voice cracking from stress as the Dragon crunched down upon half a centaur, "Ex-excuse me, can I speak with you?"

With blood gushing out of his mouth, Yalisith looked over slowly then, in a voice as deep and rumbling as the stones within which they were confined, he asked calmly, "What is it, Treasured one?"

"I- I believe there's-" he coughed to try and hide his dread "-there's a problem. Yalisith- we. We're in-"

Yalisith huffed a breath which caused the elf to take a step back. He asked, "Is it the Hobgoblins again?"

"No, no but-"

"They've a nasty habit of coming here- screaming about freeing the prisoners," Yalisith rolled one massive eye, his talons digging into the stone, "But you are not prisoners! You want for nothing! Do not believe their lies, Treasure. You're valuable to me- have I not been kind to you?"

Having heard it all before, the elf let out a deep sigh, because he knew there was no stopping it now-
-but at least it would serve as a distraction... from...

"All that I have given you- food! Glorious means to grow your own sources as well- clothing! The finest materials which you use to craft- the sharing of skills between you all and your different cultures- you've become more valuable, more treasured, as time has passed," Yalisith growled, "AND EVEN PRODUCED MORE TREASURE. Through your cultural melding and such you are unique- you have built a home here- we've built a wonderful city within which you do reside YET- those cretins- those fools-"

Letting out a deep sigh, the elf slowly settled down on the cobblestone floor, and knew he was in for the long haul with that particular line.

The depth of depraved pride that Yalisith held for keeping them here was entirely incomprehensible to the man, but the points were solid- here, they wanted for nothing.

Well, nothing but everything they had before.

But all of them had given up- how could they not? Here was a massive winged creature- a DRAGON- most of them had never heard of one until they'd been collected- and here it was. Impenetrable scales, godlike strength and endurance, and none had ever seen a dragon bleed.
None had ever seen one die.

What was there for these people if not to accept their fate which... honestly wasn't that bad. This, the elf knew, for he had come to accept this world- this new place of safety and security- with open arms and enthusiasm. When others needed to see this truth- that living with the dragon was better than living on the surface- he was the man that helped them understand that.

He didn't want some fool longing for a "better life" to ruin their peace- to test the temper of Yalisith for, though he had not harmed any of his Treasure, all knew he was capable of slaughtering them all in an instant.

The elf sighed as Yalisith rambled and ranted on, the floor shaking slightly at the volume of Yalisith's voice, and the elf wondered if they were blessed in a way well- He knew he was blessed.

Oh yes, this Elf had come from a land besieged by beasts.

Those that howled in the dark and tore themselves from the flesh of mortals. Horrors upon horrors had destroyed his village. Time and time again, they found them, transformed, then destroyed anything that could have been. Over and over his people fled- they fled until the land ran out- and were always pursued. Never resting.
Never growing.
Never living.

Fleeing... always fleeing...

And he'd been saved so many times, because he was special. So many put themselves in danger- to feed him and to save him- the "Harak's Song" they called him: Future leader to a people whose bones now fed the indifferent soil. Whose blood soaked into lands nameless and forgotten.

And he, like all here, had been treasured then.
Yalisith never let any of them forget that they were loved and treasured.

Comfort and complacency had given the Harak's Song years to think upon his new fate, as one of many in this collection of Treasured Beings, but he still held old instincts.

He knew when tensions rose, often between the Treasured Elves and Treasured Centaur pulled from the steppe.
He could count the moments before things turned violent between the Kinnaras from the coast and the brutish Northern Kinnaras, due to their cultural misunderstandings.
And the Harak's Song often felt the veritable electricity in the air that came from screams of pain, versus the warm screams of pleasure, or the cold screams of despair.

For these people, the Harak's Song had become a mediator, mentor, and something of a leader. The Song of a dead culture, of a people that would never speak the words again, had been continued by Treasured, now. To him they looked for guidance and platitudes. In him, they found whatever they sought. So often they sought someone to further push them deeper into the acceptance that, from here, there was no escape, but there could be joy.

And eagerly he gave them this. He helped them snuff out their foolish longing for "better" or their "hopes" of leaving- he snuffed it out and made them love their safety, because everything else was but pain and despair and fleeing and blood...
and... blood...

The Harak's Song, for his true name mattered to him no longer, kept the Treasured alive and docile.
And for this, he knew, that Yalisith was the last one alive that saw him as a Treasure now.

But there were his instincts still.
The instincts. Unforgettable. Those old feelings.
His gut writhed and wrenched now, his skin prickled and burned, and he knew that he had to do now, what he'd never done before. That he had to bring to the forefront the fear he'd pressed down-
He had to give it voice-

"Yalisith!"

Blinking, jolting slightly at the abrupt volume and terror laced within the piercing cry of his name, Yalisith was torn from his ranting, and didn't quite know how to react. He watched the Harak's Song carefully- he'd never been interrupted before-

Getting to his feet, the Harak's Song shouted, "You've brought someone vile to us- he is sick, Yalisith- he writhes in pain and his wailing has awakened half of us." A sudden wave of anxiety washed over the Harak's Song as Yalisith bared his wicked fangs. There was anger in Yalisith's eyes but the Dragon tilted his head, much to the Harak's Song's relief, directing that gaze down the tunnel connected to this chamber.

His voice rumbled low with brewing fury, "Sickness? There was none which was detected in his holding- how could that be? It is not possible. You lie."

The Harak's Song shook his head then pushed both of his palms toward the ground sharply, in a display of displeasure dead with his tribe, "This requires urgency, Yalisith- this back and fourth will not happen- you will see for yourself now- we cannot do this-" and turning on his heel, the Harak's Song started off at a brisk pace.

Despite the growl of anger- despite his want to run and beg forgiveness- the Harak's Song did not look over his shoulder as he kept his pace.

The Harak's Song strode down the descending tunnel, which was once but a sharp upward split in the rock, that had since been ornately carved and chiseled into an orderly geometric pattern by those Treasured years ago. This lead to the adjoining cavern, a massive chamber which was in truth, a pit the dragon had carved into the rock to house his Treasured.

This was the Treasured Goblet.

Over time and generations multitudes had worked the stone, carved it and created a series of dwellings within the sheer faces of the cavern. This had taken generations indeed, for none among the treasured truly knew much about carving the rock, and they had not the time to learn properly, after those that chiseled the decorations into the roost tunnel had grown old and died.

Yalisith was both smart and paranoid, so he let none of his treasured keep tools for very long- he'd let none of them learn the ways of working stone properly since then. He'd made his roost only accessible by flight and the entrance to the Treasured Goblet was but a tunnel hole in the ceiling far above, as well.

So they were all well and truly trapped here.

Without hesitation, he began his descent.

Despite the size of the massive place, even from the top of the stone ladder which lead to Yalisith's roost, the Harak's Song could hear the pained screams of the sick elven man far below. The Harak's Song always found it very fitting how easily screams echoed here. No amount of the soft orange fire light, which had been brought here by Treasured Porries only a few generations ago, could ever really warm the place either.

All those long dead stone-cutters had been right in carving angles and sharped edges into everything.

The Harak's Song glanced upward, from his position halfway down the long descent into the Treasured Goblet, as he heard Yalisith's claws scrape at the entry to his roost. A soft rumble left the dragon's voice. Thick leathery wings opened as he dove from his perch and the Harak's Song braced himself- a rush of air followed as the dragon swept him from the ladder.




A gentle thump followed as the Harak Son's rear touched the ground gently moments afterward.

They'd landed at the bottom of the Goblet, where a great bonfire burned, and several of the other Treasured stood, circled around a man that writhed and convulsed. Though he was covered in blankets, the convulsing Elf man had since torn himself from them, in his uncontrolled movements.

The Harak's Song knew they wouldn't matter anyway.
Not with how the man was sweating blood.

Several of the Treasured backed away in revulsion as the Harak's Song approached with Yalisith. Clenching his jaw, the Harak's Song said nothing, but moved closer to the man.

These people...
They always loved him when he kept them unaware of their fate, unaware of the Dragon,
but never when they were aware of what he... how he... cooperated-
How he enforced the way things were, kept the status quo, and stomped down any inklings of hope.
How he kept them safe- because that's what he was doing- The Harak's Song only wanted to keep them safe.

Yalisith was not a threat- not when they complied- and the dragon was benevolent in his treatment of them. They were Treasure to him. They were blessed. And the Harak's Song wanted to always keep them blessed, as so many had done before him- as so many had begged him to do.

And so when the convulsing elven man stopped moving- his body rigid and back arched- his arms so tense and bent inward toward his chest, eyes bulging and red, the Harak's Song raised his voice in alarm.
For he had his instincts still.

"Get back- GET BACK-" he yelled as the man's skin began to split.

The Harak's Song froze.

"What is this?" Yalisith rumbled in near-awe, watching the elf's rapid transformation-
(Mood Music)
All stood in captivated horror to behold the elven man's flesh slough off, like wax warmed by candle flame. Wetly it slopped onto the ground, exposing the raw and bloody muscle beneath, the taunt tendons, and glistening entrails. Vessels thrummed and pulsed as flesh gave way, lurching with every strained beat of the elf's slowing pulse- violently pushing thickening blood. Veins bulged and enlarged as arteries coiled and twisted about as serpents, tearing through the organs and muscle, forcing their way to the bloody surface.

Spilled blood gathered and paled the discarded flesh, clinging to the rigid exposed form once more- blood which caused those arteries to boil and sizzle. They turned black as did the blood, as the flesh cooked and boiled in the viscous substance. Blackened bones began to peek as muscle peeled and flared away from them, the heat increasing to absurd levels, as the remaining muscle incinerated, the blood boiling black-
Boiling black-
Roiling darkness with scent of metal-

A piercing cry of abject horror left the Harak's Song, tearing him from his frozen fear, as the boiling black blood of the Mireborn's birth HOWLED in chorus, as the creature took form from the dissolved corpse- a beast of blood- a bloody beast-

Twisted and cursed, the blackened Mireborn LUNGED and the Harak's Song saw no more-

For he fled.

He fled toward the ladder-
He fled before anyone else knew to flee-
He fled without warning anyone-
He fled even as the screams began-

And when the roars picked up, he climbed and climbed, as the screams became a monstrous choir for the Harak's Song.

So he did not see...




He did not see Yalisith, fearing for the well-being of his Treasure, put himself between the twisted Mireborn of Beast Blood.

The Dragon had pushed those nearby Treasures away with his tail before he snaked his long neck to block the lunging creature. It took only one blow. Those liquid claws, blackened and burning absurdly hot, seared the scales of the dragon open. Boiling blood seeped into the tender flesh beneath, as vile and ravenous as acid, as the Blackened Mireborn perished in the next instant-
-becoming naught but a steaming puddle of inky murk upon the carvern floor-

Yet the scales of Yalisith continued to burn and melt away from the wound- as if he'd caught fire- as if the blood itself was seeking to consume him whole despite the Mireborn's death-

Yalisith was the one howling in monstrous agony now, as the acid spread from one scale to the next, bubbling black and cooking his flesh, as the greatest agony of all agonies seared his senses into madness. Those he'd protected were crushed as he lashed his tail about; others were crushed within their cavern homes, as he threw his weight against the stone, attepting to rid himself of the spreading pain- the fire- the blood-

All the commotion brought more of the Treasures from their carved cavern homes.
They too, froze in terror.

They stared down at Yalisith, as the Harak's Song had not, and bore witness to the snapping and elongating of bones in the dragon's body. How his spine tried to take another form- how his bones tried to change- and how his own body seemed to fight against it. Bones and spines sprouted in an unorganized and chaotic mess- his form shifting and breaking all at once. Treasures watched Yalisith's eyes turn black then boil from their sockets as runny yolks- his lustrous golden scales slough from his body as fur tried to force its way from his flesh- his wings rotting to naught but bone in an instant-

Sounds of pain- sounds of fear- the deep thunk of bone shifting against bone- and the splash of his boiling blood echoed within the cavern as the Treasures.
For the first time, they then witnessed Yalisith spill their blood.
Their Treasured and precious blood.

But anything to stop the pain.
Yalisith wanted anything to stop the pain and his mind told him that more blood, NEW BLOOD, was needed to stop the pain-
yes- this- that was needed-
he needed the blood-
the blood of anything and everything-
Precious and treasured blood-

To end his pain, Yalisith would drink their blood- remake his blood anew-
Make their blood HIS blood-

All thoughts ended as he stuck his claws deep into the walls, fighting wildly and madly to scramble up the cavern walls- sticking his claws and head into the caverns full of people, then gorging himself upon them- hundreds- nearing thousands-
and the Treasured Goblet filled with blood-




And this, The Harak's Song did not see, for he had crawled into a tunnel within the dragon's chamber.
One he'd dug himself.
One he'd hid from the others.
This, his escape route-
-incomplete.


The Harak's Song lay in the dark as the stone pressed against him, as the air grew hot with his breath, as he realized he had no way to go forward.
That he was trapped.
That there was nothing to do but accept his fate.
As he'd always had.

And as the Harak's Song felt the stone at his shoulders, felt the solid stone before himself, the muffled screams sang to him, as they had before. He closed his eyes. He heard them screaming across the plains.
Howls and elven screams.
His exhales were hot against his face in the confined space- hot against his face as he covered his head with a blanket, as his mother held him in her arms- as the stone cradled him with a cold embrace.

And when the screams did quiet, that silent song he'd heard so many times before, he gave them his tears.

The Harak's Song was weeping.




"My treasure

I need my treasure

More- I need BLOOD- "


A Howling roar filled with pain, misery, and ravenous longing echoed up through the cavern, as Yalisith stood deep in the blood of the Treasure Goblet, before his mind slipped away once more. In rage at his fate he clawed and lashed at the walls, thrashed about, destroying...
Longing....

Starving...



Yalisith was previously mentioned in this post...

The Great Northern Glacier
This Is A Turn 3 Post


Yes yes, everything in the WORLD was interesting and worth investigating, but there was one tiny thing to complete first...

Somehow managing to keep their attention focused on their "goal" for once, Myrtu sprinted North in an instant before descending back into the depths of the ice. Hoves placed upon the fallow ground of the glowing and barren cave... Barren? How terrible and awful this place looked! All this bare dirt with nothing of note. If this place was to house the eventual monument to Glorious Equine Reincarnation, then the place at least needed to look idyllic, even if it was thousands of measurements beneath nothing but glacial ice.

And the Umbra here needed another food source.

Right. Those Umbra.

They'd turned powdery pale blue with the passage of time. Their bodies had taken on angular forms that Myrtu found to be quite beautiful. Angles, edges, and points all similar to the snowflakes of these distant glacial lands themselves. For some unknown reason, they'd even decided to crown their heads with a singular horn, quite similar in appearance to Myrtu's own. It was all very flattering, of course, and definitely helped Myrtu remember to feed them.

Yes, feeding them- growing things- right, back on track-

They'd survived solely on whatever Myrtu was able to drag back into the cave, so the place was quite the boneyard in its current state. Perhaps something that wouldn't kill the Umbra was needed, since Myrtu would always get distracted above, and end up coming back accidentally years later than intended.

She often came back to a significantly smaller population of Umbra and the goop piles were also beginning to clutter the place. This barren place.

Okay okay, right. Back on tack.

Myrtu whinnied gently as one of the fancy Umbra came over, glittering in a multitude of rainbow colors- that was new and very nice- and she asked Myrtu:

"Are you thinking of what we shall make into story and song?"

She- because she liked to be called she and her- spoke with a sing-song voice, as all the Umbra here did, and it was very pleasing to Myrtu's ears.

"Just now? Ah, mine contemplations skew toward that of creation! But lo, I've not the knowledge for that which I wish to create for thee- succor and sustenance of a kind- flora and fauna, aye! Tis not that I've lack of knowledge but lack... of... ah," Myrtu even found himself lacking then. In truth, this was all becoming so foreign- this 'being a divine' thing. Weren't Divinities supposed to know everything all the time at once? Tensing up rather unconsciously, Myrtu huffed and stepped backward, as their discomfort increased.

Why didn't they have all the answers?
ALL the ideas?

It was a common point of their solitary thoughts here- their deepest fear and fascination both.
What if they were not-
What were they before hearing-

"Apples and berries."

"Hm?"
The gentle pull of her voice caught Myrtu's attention. He looked at the Umbra, ears perked toward her, and silently awaited her elaboration.

Bowing slightly, she continued, "Before we were here, there was a forest we lived in- apples and berries were common for us to scavenge." Turning her head slightly to gaze across the shimmering cavern, with its dirt floor, she concluded, "With a God's power, I'm sure they can be made to grow here and- Oooh- we'll make a song for them!" She gasped gently, looking back to Myrtu, "And perhaps another play."

"Excellent Baan," Myrtu replied, lifting their hooves and dancing in place, turning about joyfully, "Skill and wisdom doth dance within thine spirit!" And without another moment of delay, Myrtu danced joyfully, completing their exchange: ideas for rhythm and inspiration.

Whooping, Baan joined in the dance, as several of the other Umbra ran forward to do so as well.

And as Myrtu danced, the plants and fauna sprang fourth from the glacial cavern floor, blessed to survive, endure, and grow in this cold place- this dimly lit place- for this was the potential which lay deep in any living thing. Berry bushes emerged fully grown from the cavern floor as stocky trees, thick of trunk and branch but stout in height, emerged from the subzero ground, their roots sinking deeply. Flowers of colors unnamed bloomed as grasses and vines snaked across the once barren floor. Beneath the ground, strange and unnamed organisms came into being, confused but, eventually figuring it was probably time to do some curating and fertilizing, swiftly got to work. Insects chimed and leapt about the hooves and feet of the dancing line of Umbra.

A good time was had by all.



Hi. I'm not sure if this is a feature I'm overlooking or what:
A clickable button that snaps to each post in a thread. Essentially a next post button. We have a button that goes to the top of the page or the bottom, but how about one that goes between individual posts. I hope I'm explaining this clearly. Thanks for all the admin stuff you do!

Nuqtuq


“Why,” sobbed the child, “Why Ma?”

Pain lined the features of Qriqic, the elder centaur, deeply as he held the little centaur close. They lay alongside each other upon on the mossy ground, which was latticed by melting snow, glittering in the light of a midday sun. With a deep sigh he replied, “Because Hvicy, ice changed."

Despite how brisk and curt the manner of his speech, Qriqic's words were offered gently as he expanded, "Was soft, that ice. Not how it been,” he shook his head slowly, “Not how before.”

Hvicy buried his head into the wooly white fur of the older centaur’s arms, which were already soaked with tears, as he lapsed into inconsolable wailing. Through his sobs as his heart continued to break, Hvicy asked the elder, over and over again, “Why?”

He begged and pleaded, his hands pounding against the elder’s back and chest, as a chill wind blew.

Qriqic winced slightly as Hvicy’s little horns, which had only just began to cut through his brow, dug into his side, but he knew it was a pain he could bear. What he struggled to bear however, was the weight of the questions and the pain in Hvicy's voice.

Why had the ice been so soft?

For moons now, many hunters had reported the ice breaking in places that it shouldn’t have. They’d reported whole shelves of it falling off of the high ice cliffs, while massive frozen mountains slid into the sea to drift alone, as huge sheets along the coast kept separating from the flat lands. Groans and moans of the frozen land echoed across the shifting snow each day as the ice underwent an abnormal transformation.

This was something that even the eldest of the Nuqtuq could not explain.

And Hvicy was not alone in his sorrow.

Some of the best places to hunt were along the ice where it met the sea. There, they could stalk and kill those great beasts which lounged and lazed atop the ice. The mighty Walrus, whose bodies were a blessing for oil, meat, bones, and many other materials, were their easiest and primary prey. When the snow ran high, while leaves fell from their few trees and the ice captured the little land they inhabited far to the east, the Nuqtuq depended on the hunting at the edge of the sea.

But lately there had been increasing disappearances where the hunting had been best.

Hunters reported others vanishing for multiple nights before one finally witnessed it in person.

“Ice opened up. Pulled him down. Closed on top,” came one story.
“Hard ice twisted him in,” reported another.
“Moved like thaw. Was not thaw time. Snow came down,” said a different party.

So when it came time that the hard snow halted and the sky warmed again; that the Walrus left for their time and the young of wild game would be ambling about the west, the Nuqtuq launched an investigation.

While it was true that they needed to go west anyway, to find those great brown beasts with their massive antlers, for they were easier for lots of meat during the sky warm, those hunters that went west were also given the task of questioning the ice.

To question the ice meant walking it, learning it, figuring out what new things it had to tell.
Were there new fissures and holes? Had the makeup of the shore shifted? Did those noisy seals change their hunting or migration paths? They considered asking the Tup’wik people down further West about the changes, but they were odd and talked too much while saying too little.

Those people didn’t know the ice like the Nuqtuq did- those people were afraid of it.

Besides, they hadn’t seen the Tup’wik in more time than any of them knew.
How many heavy snows had passed since last seeing them?
Far, far more than could be recalled.

Not a single elder had parents that knew the Tup'wik.

All the hunters knew the task of asking the ice was dangerous but necessary. So each time a hunting party went out, those who spoke to the ice the best threw themselves into the task. They taught the others, questioned the ice, and brought back Moose when they could- but Moose were also becoming difficult to hunt, so they said.

Ice which lead toward the land of evergreen trees was broken so much that they often couldn’t make it to the shore the old ways. New paths had to be made and even those kept sliding into the sea, as ice which never melted before broke off to drift and disappear.

Then one day, a hunting party came back that said their hunting route had slid into the sea completely.

With them on it.

An entire segment of the glacial cliff-face had broken off beneath their feet.

“Ice screamed- angry- ate the sled. Hunters all ate with it,” the two survivors of the eight reported upon their return. They were both half starved and covered in Frost Rot by the time they made it back to Nuqtuq. They had to paddle a bit of ice they’d been stranded on back to the shore, then walk, with nothing but a block of pemmicin to share between them, for the long six nights it took them to hike back.

One of them died nights after returning, as the Frost Rot from her hands claimed her arms and body with Hot Blood, and the Dark Cough...




“Not there,” shouted Hvicy before clicking high then low, with his mouth, so that the others knew to back away from their advance. Gently he tapped a hoof upon the ice, then shook his head, turning around to the others. He gave them two head tilts, then a whistle, and they all began to move. Together the Hunters backed away, retracing their steps with practiced precision. Several strides later and with a sharp turn right, they marched further north, and away from danger.

A Kinnaras with a particularly fluffy head of white woolen hair, which barely fit beneath the hood of his sealskin parka, whistled lowly toward Hvicy to ask for explanation.

“Light blue ice- hollow sound- sharp light on top,” returned Hvicy, with a head tilt of seeking confirmation.

Two shrill whistles came from Qriqic, who lead at the head of the group with their sled- the sound signaled confirmation and agreement with Hvicy’s assessment. Beneath his hide face covering, Hvicy grinned widely, then bobbed his head up and down in pride- the light catching his dark horns in a showy manner.

Rather aggressively, the Kinnaras flashed his horns in the same nodding motion, making a snort of friendly antagonism back.

Hvicy laughed slightly then asked, “Kopq- Jealous?”

“No. You hunt like blind. My harpoon better,” returned Kopq, flashing his horns once more, “Hvicy. Talk to ice too much.”

It was true, Hvicy had to admit inwardly, but he also told himself that he couldn’t help it.

Since the death of his Ma, the crippling of his Da, and the loss of many more hunters between then and when his horns cut in full, Hvicy had devoted himself to the ice. Questioning it, walking it, to know it deeply and fully, Hvicy went as often as he could onto the ice. As the moons and nights turned him from a boy into a young man, he spent more time speaking with the ice than with others- or so the joke went.

When he should have been focused on pulling the sled, Hvicy was talking to the ice.
When he was needed to circle after a Walrus, to help antagonize it into isolation from its main pot, he was listening to the ice.

As Kopq, his bond-kin, was carving his own harpoon to throw, Hvicy had been with the ice and the ice alone.

Yet he was an excellent guide across the ice, when it came time for hunting Moose again, so very few gave him true antagonism or ill words for his lack of skill elsewhere. With Hvicy in the Hunt party, no one was lost to the ice. Not once.

A voice called out, “Hvicy! Open eyes?”

And he lowered his horns then, deflating at the question. It was teasing and reminder both from Pngna, the human woman that rode astride Qriqic’s back. A few soft snickers followed from the other hunters- this was the extent of said antagonism, truly, and Hvicy knew it wasn't uncalled for.

Not once had Hvicy’s thrown harpoon, the one he’d carved himself, actually struck a target he aimed at.

Rather enthusiastically, he always threw it, because it was what a good hunter did! He wanted to be as good a hunter as his Ma had been, because he’d lived through how sorely her skills were missed. As many times as he’d gone out to talk to the ice, he’d thrown his harpoon, but it had missed just as much. Numerous hunters, from elders to those in his age group, had instructed and directed Hvicy. A few had even scrutinized his harpoon: Had he carved it wrong when he came of age? Was the wood crooked or unbalanced? Had the wrong kind of wood been used? It was best to use it themselves- to test it on his behalf and see-

And every other hunter struck beasts with it effortlessly.
Clearly, the problem was elsewhere.

“Today,” Hvicy mumbled into his hood with little confidence, as he’d said every other time since the taunt had been established, far too many moons and sky warms ago.

“Today,” echoed Qriqic, as confident in him as ever.

It pained Hvicy to hear.

That was the man that taught him everything about hunting, taught him to throw his harpoon even, but Hvicy could never hit a target. Though Qirqic never expressed disappointment or resentment for him, Hvicy couldn’t help but feel he had earned at least a little by now, especially since Kopq- another student of the elder Qirqic- had been doing so well...




Eventually, they came upon a ring in the ice.

Constructed from bricks, made of compacted ice and snow, and encircled by a multitude of antlers, the ring was a wall which stood higher than a Human standing upon a Centaur’s shoulders. Though there was no roof, for there was no need of one, as the place was the Nuqtuq in which they like every hunter before them, made camp for the hunting of moose. From here the towering evergreens of the nearby taiga could be seen. Some small shrubs and those few tundra transition plants were plentiful nearby too, and would make for great berry foraging later.

As the party passed beneath the massive Whale-bone arches, which acted as landmark and gate, they spread out to assess the condition of the Nuqtuq.

Despite the fact that snow came in, it had thawed enough, so that the few amenities were easily re-carved. A large slab of shaped ice, which had become quite hard over time and from multiple uses, sat to one side of the Nuqtuq, and it was red from its purpose. This long table had been used for years to dress down various game and prepare fish, before their long sled transport back to Nuqtuq.

Preparation of the camp involved re-carving the table, clearing out whatever snow they could, and repacking holes that may have melted into the ice walls. Hard work went into crafting a new wooden door for the gate, using materials they’d pushed out from Nuqtuq, especially since bears had been a problem here in the past. It took time uncounted and the majority of the hunting party was exhausted, by the time the gate was finally complete, but a watch needed to be set out despite it.

Gates were nice but would never be as good as a person watching.

Unfortunately for the watchers, this often meant a lot of standing around, and a lot of boredom.

Many nights had passed staying in the Nuqtuq, as hunts were performed during the dark dawn, and watches were set up by afternoon and night. So few moose had made their way north, that some of the hunters were getting concerned. Was that Burning Scar to the south the reason the Moose had been scarce? Everyone could see the smoke during the day and the red glow of it on the horizon at night had been disconcerting. What happened down there?

But the Nuqtuq had come blame the burning scar, concluding that it was the reason for the ice being too soft along these hunting grounds, because the waters had grown far warmer than before. The adjustment had been made some time ago to stick to the harder ice during Moose hunt, so that further deaths could be avoided, yet the sea continued to warm and the ice continued to change. Much of the old paths had melted into the sea rapidly over tome, so it was that the young like Hvicy, were of more value for speaking with the ice.

They were the ones that knew this new ice and all its new paths.

But there were still so few that knew the creatures of the land and how they’d changed their paths, due to the Burning Scar. Moose had proven to be unpredictable at first but the Nuqtuq had found a slight way to change that, some time ago. It had taken many thaws but the Nuqtuq were the sole reason why so many berries grew so close to the ice here. Growing them was working for the Nuqtuq back home so of course it could work for the ground where the taiga met the ice here too- for it was precisely like their lands far to the east.

Sometimes the moose would come by, more frequently the bears would be scavenging but, other times there was nothing but coming back to the Nuqtuq empty handed...




And a lot of standing watch.
A whole lot of standing watch.

As the ice turned purple and gold with the early hints of sunset, a snowball soared cleanly through the points on a set of caribou horns, which decorated the high wall of the Nuqtuq.

“Two,” Hvicy chuffed in a self congratulatory fashion.
“Hvicy? Better at snow-toss. Not Harpoon,” snickered Kopq, as he watched, impressed.

Together they continued walking the perimeter of the Nuqtuq, if only to keep themselves warm. This was a game everyone liked to play during the watch- see who could throw snowballs through the points on antlers and horns which decorated the wall. The more difficult the throw was, the more “points” it counted for. Elders liked to tell the story whenever they played this game to those younger, about the living shadows which once lived with the Nuqtuq when they ways were young- they had taught them how to count and what numbers meant back then.

They always spoke of the Umbra fondly but every story about them ended with, “But sun melted them.”

Kopq threw his snowball through a set of points on a massive moose rack, which passed through a second set of caribou points, and he laughed aloud, “Four! Hvicy, see?”

But Hvicy’s eyes were turned in the opposite direction.
“Moose- Kopq,” he clicked twice then nodded forward.
Turning to stare toward where Hvicy indicated, Kopq made an uncertain grunt.

Together they stared across the ice, were the white line of ice shelf met a backdrop of evergreen forest. A breeze swept loose snow up into a sparkling powder. Kopq made another uncertain grunt just as two ivory points, curved and crooked, broke their line of sight with the forest.

Hvicy clicked then whistled sharply, shifting the position of his harpoon from his side, to being tucked beneath his arm.

Looking up at him Kopq asked, with an edge of excitement to his voice, “Us. Alone?”

Rousing another hunter would take time and the others had settled to sleep a while ago. Elders often took the opportunity to kill any stray game that wandered too closely anyway, especially if they knew it wouldn’t lead them too far from the Nuqtuq, while they were on watch.

It was with this reasoning that Hvicy sucked his teeth rapidly in enthusiastic agreement, whilst pawing the ground with his front hoof eagerly. If they could down the Moose, then dragging the carcass back to the Nuqtuq could wait while they doubled back and roused hunters- if bears didn’t come out when smelling the blood of course- but that wasn’t going to happen, surely!

Presenting his back to Kopq, Hvicy kept his eyes toward where the Moose antlers had shown, while flashing his own horns eagerly, waiting for his kin to climb aboard.

Kopq grunted in disagreement, before picking up a jog toward the moose, “Too heavy together. Hvicy, be swift. Open eyes!”

And Hvicy felt the encouragement in a heated rush. In silent gratitude and joy both, Hvicy picked up speed sharply- in the way that only a Nuqtuq Centaur could. Due to the harsh conditions in the Northern climates, their bodies had changed, as Kinnaras, Human, and Centaur each found a place within their tribe- a place that utilized their strengths as a team. Their bodies had adapted as a result of years filling their particular positions in the Nuqtuq.

A Nuqtuq Centaur was now distinct for being a head or two shorter than the typical Centaur. Their bodies were more compact, lighter, but this gave them speed that outpaced most other Centaur, especially from a single point burst. Though maintaining their speeds through deep snow was a bit of a challenge, their legs could still carve through it with nearly the same ease as a Moose, and they scarcely acknowledged the cold of wind speed, due to their thick woolly fur.

And the wind rushed loudly in Hvicy’s ears as he sprinted forward- his eyes locked on the reappearance of the Moose’s antlers. Good! They were still where he’d seen them. To harpoon a Moose meant getting closer, quickly, then slowing down before it perceived a threat. He came within a good position, sliding down to a halt, as he palmed his throwing harpoon, balancing the weight upon his shoulder. Hvicy’s eyes watched the Moose’s points dip, then reappear once more- he squinted to observe their orientation.

Which way is it facing?

As they turned, Hvicy felt another rush of panic- had it heard him? Why was it turning away?

And then the Moose’s pace picked up- No.
NO!

This was his chance, he could do it alone- he had to get it now- Hvicy couldn’t suffer another miss.
Oh no.
It was getting further away and his hand shook as the grip upon his harpoon tightened. He needed to get the angle right- the wind had stopped blowing- everything was perfect- this should be the one, it should, it should, IT HAD to be the one-
A fearful glance was cast back- Kopq was nearing him- perhaps he should be the one to- no.

NO!
He couldn’t keep relying on Kopq to do the difficult throws for him- he wasn’t going to mess up in front of him either- not anymore- not this time-

His eyes were OPEN!

Leaning back on his hind quarters, Hvicy felt the back of his harpoon brush the ground as he cocked his arm back, his free arm casting before him, straight out to track the target. All at once he took his burst sprint forward, leapt, then HURLED the harpoon directly toward the sight- angled to strike the back of the Moose’s neck.

Air whistled sharply- Hvicy’s hooves planted atop the icy ground- and he half-doubled over with the follow-through, turning about on his hooves to resolve the powerful motion.

Kopq made a sound of wordless cheer for Hvicy as he saw the harpoon fly.

Together, they heard the Moose call out as it had been struck.

Together, they ran toward the edge of the ice sheet, to stare down at the Moose that had been struck below.

Together, they realized that what was bleeding out on the ice below, was not a moose at all.

Wailing.
Wailing on the ice below was a moose horned Centaur. His blood painted the ice red.



Myrtu danced about in a circle as several Sanguis Equis circled overhead, which emitted shrill cries of glee and contentment. Such fun had been had sprinting about the Bloodmire! There were so many different and interesting things here that Myrtu felt quite glad they'd answered the earlier prayer. And these horses?

Wow, these horses were phenomenal!
ACTUALLY. Weren't ALL horses phenomenal? NO! EQUINES were!
Anything with an Euqine-adjacent form, as Myrtu had always known, was simply better. Hooves for traversing all the world, wings for extended flights, their backs and legs were powerful, stamina and endurance were high enough to make resting earned and enjoyable- even the simple means of communication that all horses shared, were better than complicated words or writing, and not to mention that most Equines were simply the best size to experience the various landscapes of the world.

In fact, as Myrtu thought about it, weren't they, themselves, the Ultimate Horse in the world? The Supreme and Majestic Equine? The Unmatched Hooved God capable of traversing the stars and planets themselves?

Well now...

Clearly it meant that it was their DUTY to let everyone and anyone know just how fantastic Equines were. And to let the other creatures know how fantastic it was to Have Hooves. No- EVEN BETTER- those hoofless Mortals all needed companions with hooves! Ones that could help them carry loads, protect them, carry them great distances, and inspire others to run and be free!

Plus, Myrtu now had let the horses themselves know how fantastic they were!

And they couldn't forget the Donkeys and Zebras- they were just as fantastic- and if there were none out in the wilderness, then they MUST bring them into being. Though Myrtu had not yet brought fourth the Unicorns, nor had they completed their project up north deep beneath the ice, and they hadn't breathed life into the template for the Pegasus, this Suddenly Sacred Duty took immediate precedence.

All those other bits and whatever could wait.

And so they communicated a farewell to their friend-horses in the Bloodmire. This elicited an interesting response from most of the Blood Horses, as they tried to pretend that they hadn't been having a great time, that they didn't mind Myrtu leaving despite how sad their little clicks were, and that Myrtu was very free to go and stuff whatever. Such a response only made Myrtu add the fact that Equines had such charming personalities to their list of "why horses are better than everything." A promise to visit again was given before Myrtu leapt high into the sky, far above where mortals could fly, passing some very interesting flying creatures along the way.

As they were Not Horses, Myrtu scarcely paid them attention as they ascended, for now was the time for important business and they heeded not the flying lizards, fish, and whatever else that other thing was.

Rearing up, as if the air itself were stable enough to stand upon, Myrtu then began to sprint across the sky above the continent. As they sprinted they summoned their power and blessed every Equine within sight of their passing.

To showcase the many abilities and uses of Equines, Myrtu needed the Equines to adapt far quicker than natural processes would make them, and so it was that they unlocked the potential of every single one, even as they sprinted along, and brought into the world simultaneously Donkeys, Mules, Zebras, Kiangs, Onagers, Kungas, Zorses, and Hinnies.

The adaptations of the Equines happened rapidly then stabilized just as quickly. Within a matter of months, their mutations were highly varied and extremely specific for the climates they frequented: Some of the Equines that preferred the seaside, had learned to prefer the sea itself- becoming a hybrid horse with a powerful tail fin; While some desert Equines, adapted to the hot days and cold nights, growing coarse fur and organs to support the retention of water - some became more akin to the cacti with sharp spines and skin that loved the sun; Others on the plains grew swift and lean, with far more acute senses, and camouflage stripes, as the Zebras became green with black stripes in some cases; There was also no small amount of northern Equines that grew shaggy fur and thick powerful bodies, capable of outrunning even moose in deep snow.

A surprising amount of Equines also developed symbiotic bonds with plants, other animals, even fungi that lived upon or inside of their bodies as well, despite how swift their adaptation to the world had gone.

By the end of their year long blessing, Equines were so wildly varying and suited for filling their new niches in their ecosystems, that there would likely be long lists of their different variations, in the distant future.

Myrtu could hardly take in all the changes their blessing had resulted in! When all was done, Myrtu even felt the presence of more Equines, untouched by their blessing, that were contained within a... bubble... wall... thing? Hovering and sparkling brightly HIGH above Earthwall for a moment, Myrtu considered going in, but there had been something else odd sighted along the way.

What was that thing in the desert?
Or that thing on that mountain?
That burning thing on that island?
When had people went to that strange place to the west of the glaciers?
Were those Elves in those trees?
Why was the coast on fire?

Before their hovering could be defined as "too long" or "a little weird" or "archers take aim," they sprinted away to tend to the first question on their list of questions. Well.

Until they got sidetracked by a few more things along the way.




Tup'wik


Wailing.
Wailing came to the hunter's ears.

"The time has come, partner," came a whispering voice to the hunter's right ear.

Slowly, the Hunter looked up into the bright blue sky, which was broken by the dense foliage of the tall evergreens. Smiling as his head tilted back, his crown of great scooped antlers making the motion slightly straining, the Hunter listened with joy to the wailing. From beneath the darkness of his antlers, his Second Shadow whispered, "Here, shall Utilaik be, to dance alongside you, Maliuit. As ever this one has. Look. Here comes the Mother." Looking to the side, the Hunter rose to his hooved feet as, from a hut made of bear hides and sturdy logs, there emerged three.

Bereft of clothing, two walked toward the hunter, as the third was held, swaddled in a covering made of soft hide, which was insulated by the Hunter's shorn tail and mane hair.

The Human, whose face was covered by a simple wooden mask- with silts only for eyes and a crooked carved grin- lead the Kinneras Mother along by walking before her. Blindfolded, the Mother- T'unucra- walked slowly, her twelve point antlers wavering as she fought to keep her steps balanced and sure, for she had only just finished giving birth. The Hunter watched the Mother's strong yet pained steps in admiring silence. He yearned to help her but these were the traditional first strides, which were vital to the survival of the child, and he could do nothing but watch.

For her to falter or fall in this walk would mean death for the child when the snow fell, as all who were Tup'wik knew.

Gently, the Masked Human blew into a simple wooden flute. It was a tune of a few long and joyous notes, which acted as chorus with the wailing of the baby. These sounds helped to guide the Mother on her walk in blindfolded "darkness". The Hunter held his silence as they approached. He did not hold back the overflowing of his eyes as they filled with emotion. Proudly, he watched the Mother's surefooted steps toward him, as she carried his Child.

His firstborn.

Biting his lip so that he did not sob aloud, the Hunter bowed his head as the Mother came within one stride of him. As he should, he fell to his knees before her, keeping his silence.

She halted from taking the final stride.

All of the omens were good: she'd stepped steadily, halted when feeling his presence near, and had not faltered or stumbled. His heart was soaring with quiet elation. Slowly, T'unucra knelt before him, then placed the child upon the ground between them. Warmly, she placed her hands soothingly atop the crying babe. Shakily he slowly reached his hands out, to place them atop hers, giving a gentle and reassuring squeeze.

The Hunter couldn't see a thing for all his tears. He felt only the warmth- the joy- of his hands atop his child, atop the second half of their beautiful creation, and all the hands of Ancestors who had done the same for each of them.

This position, the two held in silence as the moments passed. As if knowing they were safe, the babe soon began to quiet beneath the quiet palms of their parents, steadily sinking into a contentedness, which held in it a quiet plea. In the wordless manner in which all infants plead, the soft babbling beneath the parents palms begged them: protect me, love me, teach me.

And then the Hunter's Second Shadow reached from under his antlers, toward the Second Shadow of the Mother. The blindfold was removed from the Mother by the Umbra which resided in her shadow, then passed to the other Umbra, who tied it about the eyes of the Hunter.
The Father.

Once it was secured, the Father rose to his feet, and the Masked Human began to sing. These were the sounds of the throat and chest- the early music of those who lived in the cold, those who breathed in the bitter air of frozen earth and frosted pine.

On cue, the Father took three strides away from the Mother, as she took up their child in her hands. Her eyes lifted toward the Father- Maliuit- with joy and unfathomable trust. She held their baby close, to warm them against her bare skin, as her eyes too, began to flow with joyous tears.

To the sounds of voice and flute, the Father began to dance.

He had to be as swift as the Cold Star in such a dance, for this would grant vigor to his Child, to the Mother, and to both of their Second Shadow protectors. That Cold Star, which graced the Ancestors with it's appearance on the day of the Tup'wik's birth, was called Myrtu by the Umbra. They told tales of it having been a God and so the Tup'wik hailed the Cold Star as God and Progenitor both. They admired its swiftness, it's freedom and vigor, as it sprinted across the sky, and their Ancestors taught them always to value such traits. To value freedom.

His steps had to be as sure as the blackness of the space between stars, as he danced around, leapt and spun, to dance in sacred circle around the kneeling Mother- for what else was so certain as the darkness from whence they'd came? They had been left behind by the Cold Star- fragments of that Godly power- and they'd come from that space between the stars themselves, just as the Cold Star had come fourth too. The Tup'wik knew that they were but fragments of the night sky as well and would return there in death.

When he danced, his hooves clicked against stones- the perimeter circle which told him to dance back toward the sound of song- for even they, wild and free, needed to know their limits and boundaries. Some of their Ancestors spoke of those who had ventured north, those who didn't know their limits, and how most had never returned. Stores of the few that were out there spoke of how and they'd grown foul, had turned into frozen hard people that still reached for more than they were given. They were of cold hearts, with frozen pale fur and hard bodies, and a frozen fury toward the Cold Star Myrtu- a fury that the Tup'wik could not understand.

They knew of those people's name- what they called themselves- and used it as the name for this vital lesson in knowing restraint: To always be as free and joyous as one could, but to never go beyond limits and strive for more than was given by the land and the Cold Star.

To dance within the boundaries was to bless the child with a level head, a sureness that would be as steady as their hooves, and as stable as the humans that balanced often atop the backs of Centaur at full canter. To survive within the Taiga, facing off against the creatures and hunting the great beasts, one needed to be sure of themselves and every action they took.

And for all these things the Father danced. And danced.
He danced until the sun set and his heart pounded furiously.

He danced as his name became Maliuit'cra- the father of T'unucra's child- and beloved by them both.
And he danced until the sky grew deep and dark...




"T'unucra!"

It was the the horrified edge in the voice which caused her to look away from the tracks, which she'd been examining in the snow blown foliage. Toward her a Cenatur rushed. This Centaur's antlers were freshly growing and covered in downy fuzz, and so her approach was swift indeed.

Without stopping to breathe, the Centaur shouted, "We need your medicine!" She turned just shy of T'unucra and presented her hide covered back to her, "The hunters- they were attacked- the Hunters were-" the Centaur let out a grunt, as T'unucra's weight landed atop her back roughly.

"Go," she shouted, her eyes already burning with fear.
Who had gone out?
Who all had gone out this time?

As the Centaur sprinted across the snow, dashed between the trees, T'unucra shouted in alarm, "We're nearing the Ice?!"
"-something terrible-" the Cenatur managed while sprinting, her voice raw with emotion "-oh terrible."

Silence.

Crimson.

Who could have made it back in time?
T'unucra could not blame her for not moving.
Fast.
Enough.

Howling, something was howling over the sound of the frigid wind.
No. Wailing.
Wailing came to her ears.

Much like their babe, he was wailing now, too.

Maliuit'cra lay upon the ice with a harpoon, thicker than his own arm, thrust through his center and out of his back. His blood pooled around him, steaming and hot, in the frigid temperatures. Icy spires reflected the light across the surface of the intricately carved harpoon. T'nunucra noted sickly how beautiful the walrus rendition carved into the handle of the harpoon was, as it was not coated by Maliuit'cra's blood. He'd been struck in the back, for the pointed tip was blindingly red with his life's essence.

Two hunters, a duo of Kinnaras, stood next to T'unucra, speaking to her and... and?
Had she gone deaf?

No, she could hear the wailing. She couldn't hear the hunter, but she could hear the wailing.

Numbly, she knelt next to Maliuit'cra, as he screamed and fought for his life, which he had no chance of holding on to.
Holding. On to.

Gently, as he had laid his hands atop hers, oh so many moons ago, she placed her hands atop his. His tears and screaming forced more blood onto the ice in pouring rivulets. Curls of steam rose from the pools he created. Frosted tears coated his face. Desperately, he grasped her hands while taking pained inhales, as he stared into her eyes.

"I don't- I- I can't- not- so. So- soon-" he wailed "-T-T-T'nuc-"

His grip released.

The only cold she noticed was in his eyes, as they stared unblinking into hers.
She had gone deaf, hadn't she? For the silence itself, as his wailing ceased, blocked out all other sounds. From beneath his antlers, his Second Shadow materialized in full. Despite how the light harmed them, Utilaik stared down at Maliut'cra in silence, and did not move. Alongside T'nucra the Umbra stared at the husk that was once Maliuit'cra.

Their beloved Maliuit'cra.
Beloved by them both.

How long she'd knelt there on the ice she could not say.

Those other Hunters had huddled around her and the Umbra Utilaik at some point. The other Hunters had kept watch, offered silent company, and pressed in closely for heat sharing while they mourned at the edge of the glacial lands. So it was the Hunters that were surprised when T'unucra suddenly moved, abruptly after having knelt for so long. Without a word, stood, walked, then grasped the harpoon sticking out of Maliut'cra's body.

It took multiple pulls, as the blood had turned to ice in the freezing wind, but she wrest it from his corpse, having had to do so by grasping its pointed edge. Collectively, the other hunters had turned with a start to watch with fascination and horror, none of them having made a move to stop her, nor uttered a word.

Quietly as she let the large harpoon lean against her shoulder, she removed a few herbs from her medicine pouch, then chewed them. She couldn't feel it, but her hands had been cut from her grasp upon the weapon, despite her gloves, and would require something to halt the bleeding at least. The others exchanged worried glances as T'unucra treated her wounds, by placing the herbs into them, before taking up the large weapon.

Despite its weight and size, she leaned it over her shoulder, for she felt no pain for now, and the weight was far lighter than that... of...

"Utilaik offers their service to T'unucra as third shadow.. in... in exchange for. Trust," spoke the Umbra, with a tone heavy in emotion. These were the words a Second Shadow said before becoming a guardian, partner, and companion to a Tup'wik. They echoed grimly now in the silence where Maliut'cra's voice should have been.

"Then come," T'unucra told the other coldly, "Walk the ice with me. We will speak to the Nuqtuq of this. Return to them this kakivak. Tell them of Maliuit'cra and how he was loved. Second Shadow will stay behind and tend to-" her voice choked before she could utter the name of their child.
Their fatherless. Child.
That last living fragment of Maliuit'cra.

"Utilaik... cannot be trusted alone in Second Shadow's place. To guard. To give help. Not anymore," replied the Umbra, sinking toward the body of Maliuit'cra, "This is why. Utilaik offers as Third."

"No. You cannot be trusted. Not at the moment. But walk the ice with me and prove yourself again, is what I offer. A trade for your guilt as I offer my trust," T'unucra told Utilaik firmly.

"Umpanitit believes this fair and valuable trade," came the whispering voice of T'unucra's normally silent Umbra partner, for all in attendance to hear, "Generous on part of T'unucra. Far generous. Utilaik will have debt lingering still but less so, if they do not walk the ice."

Utilaik gently placed a hand atop Maliuit'cra's, before looking to T'unucra with glowing blue eyes, nodding hesitantly, "Umpanitit has wisdom."

"We return to the others now," T'unucra addressed the collective coldly, "I will bury Maliuit'cra. Then I will leave. I will make the Nuqtuq answer all that I ask."

And without another word, nor waiting for the others, T'unucra turned toward the migration path.

A Distressed Treasure



Ashes-Ablaze had to admit that she was starting to panic. As she stared into the massive emerald eye of her captor, she figured it was probably alright to panic, if not begin screaming in fear, so she decided she should get right to it.

Taking a deep breath, Ashes-Ablaze inhaled sharply-

“-shh! Shh sh, no- we were doing very well, hmm yes, very good and well without the screaming, yes,” a deep sigh came afterward from the beast, “I am not liking when do the screaming so, perhaps maybe, yes, do not scream.”

Deflating slightly, Ashes-Ablaze run her hand over her flaming head, then asked, “But what else can I do? We been staring at each other for a while now-”

“-two hours-”

“For two-” Ashes-Ablaze went breathless for a beat “-you ain't serious.”

“Hm, see, I am not doing the exaggeration of things, yes,” replied the beast, “I was enjoying the resting but then you looked as if you were going to commence the, hm, screaming, hmm? Yeees?”

Pulling her knees to her chest, Ashes-Ablaze shook her head, “Ain’t like there anything else to do. We just been sittin' here and I don't even know where here is.”

“No, hm, wait in silence, yes, this is what you will be doing now, the waiting,” huffed the beast with an exhale that sent Ashes-Ablaze’s flaming hair to fluttering.

“You wanna at least answer something for me?”

“Hm? No, I will not answer-”

“-what’re you supposed to be anyway?”

It was then that the beast heaved another large sigh yet, it seemed taken aback slightly by Ashes-Ablaze's ignorance. Slowly, it began reorienting itself within the darkness of the cave. Ashes-Ablaze could hear the scales and body of the beast scraping gently across the smooth stones, with such a heavy sound that she knew it must be massive- far more so than she could see from her light alone in such dim surroundings. As the beast moved, a few hollow clatters sounded out from the inside of the cavern, and Ashes-Ablaze eyed her surroundings warily, slightly fearful that-

Oh, nope.

All those stacked boats, rafts, and other rudimentary sea-faring vessels, which were piled high from floor to ceiling along the dark cave walls- in amounts that were more numerous than she cared to count- looked stable enough around her. Perhaps the beast had instead knocked loose some of the stray oars, sticks, and poles that were collected in the massive pile behind itself?

Perhaps.

“I am Tisslith the Dragon, of the Wings and Flight innumerable, from the Immortal Mother of Dragons, Sathira, may her name be ever blessed and eternal,” declared the beast, holding its scaly head and neck high within the confines of the cave, “Mm, ah, yes.”

“You ain’t got wings,” Ashes-Ablaze pointed out immediately.

Tisslith then deflated slightly but flexed her mighty fins outward. Along her serpentine body, those webbed crests and fins, caught the light in a dazzling display of blue and silver, as it showed off its form proudly. “These are the wings of flying, yes you see, I fly through the waters and seas, mmhm,” Tisslith replied haughtily.

“Nah, them fins,” Ashes-Ablaze shook her head at the Dragon, “We Porry know what fins is. You a fish-”

“-am not fish, no, you are doing the. Wrong. Assuming. Yes, for you see, you are incorrect, yes,” Tisslith said then, rather self-consciously coiling her body onto itself, stacking her long serpentine form before the Porry.

Sucking her teeth, Ashes-Abalaze scoffed, sensing the subtle shift in power, as she went on to insist, “Nah you a fish and you got all these boats- what you got all these boats for if you ain’t no fish?”

“Wrong and incorrect still, yes, for you see, I am to collect treasure, as the Immortal Mother of Dragons, Sathira, may her name be ever blessed and eternal, has told all of us, yes, my brethren, to gather precious treasures from across all the lands!” Tisslith gestured to its collection of boats, with a triumphant lift of its head, “I have observed, yes, that you mortals do value and love and cherish, see, these boats as you call them, hm? And is it also not true, yes, that the sticks and log-flaps-”

“-oars and push-rods-”

“-the whats?”

Scoffing yet again, Ashes-Abalaze rolled her eyes at the dragon, “And you don’t even know what you collecting either? You even know what I am?”

“A porry!”

“Yeah, but I told you that,” Ashes-Ablaze shook her head, “Only a dumb fish don’t know what no oar is.”

Tisslith scrunched slightly, a hesitant pause lingering, before it spoke again, with uncertainty weighing heavily in its tone, “Treasures… these are treasured things. They. Are.”

“Bet you don’t even know why I’m still here do you, fish?”

Letting out a SHARP hiss, the Dragon declared in a show of intense insecurity, “Tisslith is NOT a fish? You keep calling it a fish but It Is Not! How dare you?”

“Nah, you still got me here cause you a bored and lonely fish. Keepin’ me hostage to talk to, huh fish? Bet nobody even wanna talk to you-”

“No, you foolish stinky Porky-”

“-Porry-”

Uninterrupted, Tisslith went on, “-I am keeping you for the collector of precious creatures will come to here, yes, and will come for you! For you see, Porky-”

“-Porry-”

“-you are also treasure!” And Tisslith laughed then, in the manner that the unclever tended to when they believed themselves to be clever, “Ha! HO! Ha!” Its head waves side to side, in a mesmerizing manner, as bioluminescent lights flashed across its fins to convey its joyous emotion.

A beat of laughter passed before Ashes-Ablaze, edging slightly back toward panic, mumbled, “Weird compliment but aight.”

“Yes! Mmhm, you shall be given to my brethren which collects those kids of treasures for Mother! Those treasured beings who are much and many loved. We have seen how so many come in boats for you, little Porky-”

-porry,” though Ashes-Ablaze swallowed nervously.

“-and we know that love means value! Therefore, as with the others my brethren, Yalisith has collected, which he tends to very kindly and with gentle givings, yes, of good food and meals, for they must be, mm, very nice and well taken care of to keep their value, yes, due to diminishing returns, see, yes.” Tisslith’s head wavered slightly as it steered its digression back on track, “You are treasure and will be going to our Immortal Mother of Dragons, Sathira, may her name be ever blessed and eternal!”

And so it was that Ashes-Ablaze finally admitted she was going to panic, any moment now, and that there was nothing to be done for it but to take a deep breath, once more with feeling, and-

“Do not perform the screaming! For that shall only tire you out and you will need such rest, before the flight to Yalisith’s collection- whenever it is that the Yalisith arrives- hm,” Tisslith hissed with far more aggression than before.

For the first time since having woken up in the cave, Ashes-Ablaze finally realized just how massive the Dragon before her was. The mouth of the beast was large enough to bite her in half and she could see its curved fangs- every single one of them jagged for tearing lesser creatures apart- and its scales looked like the razor skin of a shark- then she could see how muscular its serpentine body was- how the stones beneath its dripping maw bubbled and eroded with the contact of its acidic spittle- death...

She could see death slithering before her and it was a long. Fish.

Tilting its head back and fourth as it stared at Ashes-Ablaze, who had grown frozen and tense with fear, Tisslith nodded with satisfaction.

“Very good, Porky, you shall go to mother," Tisslith hissed in amusement.

"You shall go to the Mother in silence and alive, yes.”


She could sense it.

Even before the beasts and creatures of the Steppe did, Myrtu could feel the change within the world. Without wasting a moment longer to consider or contemplate, she took to the sky in a mighty leap. With her horn aglow, an aura of light and sparkles engulfed the protohumans, still in their statue forms. A single swish of her head and an exertion of divine effort later, and they all gathered alongside her, as she sprinted across the sky.

North… far north.

To where the Tundra ended then beyond.

Past the icy mausoleum.

To where the glaciers began, then still more north.

Myrtu needed time and moments undisturbed with these beings to be shaped and knew that none would likely bother her here. Now past the top of the world, among the ice which stretched endlessly and mercilessly so as to be a desert of sorts, where it was far too cold to snow.

And it was here, at these great latitudes, that the protohumans were placed gently upon the ice in groups, their numbers divided evenly. They each longed for waking, for guidance, and she could see within them all the numerous, infinite, possibilities- their potential- and her eyes swirled brilliantly as the ideas poured in.

This time, her eyes- which swirled with infinite colors known and unknown- did not cease their kaleidoscopic display of light and color. All that was potential and possible- all the beautiful variables- to behold them, was simply Divine. No more, were her eyes stable as they had been, for the stream of potential and possibility now forever danced within them, as she beheld all in her gaze.

As the night stretched in deep and howling blackness, Myrtu stood in the howling icy winds. Still as the ice and for long moments uncounted. Much time was spent, contemplating all that could be of these proto-humans, all that she could unlock in the creation of these new mortals, and just how far they could go… all that they could be…




“… and we saw him, just as he departed, as a shooting star in the night sky, leaving us in this place so cold, yet welcoming…”

So as to give them a fighting chance- a chance to be- Myrtu, after crafting from the protohumans, hundreds of variations, gave them potential- both within and without. In large groups, so as to give them a world of variation and challenge, along with the possibility of teamwork, he spread them across the continent, in numbers of three hundred plus twelve:

One hundred members of the groups were the speedy and sturdy Centaurs. Their lower bodies were that of full four-legged horses, with a variety of spots, splotches, and stripes possible in their coats of fur. The length, texture, growth pattern, and color of their hair was wildly varying with potential to adaptation for a variety of environments, should they choose to stay within them and procreate. Where would be the neck of the horse, began the body of a human, strong and sturdy- with skin colors variable and able to adapt as the generations went on. There were climates which would require darker skin, after all, to help minimize the damage of the sun naturally, before those poultices and protective paints could be produced. There was also the potential within them for the same splotches, stripes, and colors as their fur coats, to be upon the skin as lighter or darker markings. Each had too, the possibility for growing horns, antlers, and hardened bony crests, for their heads should be defended and Myrtu admitted a preference for horns, of course.

One hundred members of the groups were called the Kinnaras. Their lower bodies maintained the two-legged nature of the proto-humans, but where the waist began, so too did the equine legs, fur, tail, and large hooves. They were going to be swift and strong with such legs, but Myrtu had no further clue as to what the change would do for the. As with the other creations of Myrtu, the Kinnaras' potential for variation was unlocked, in their skin-tone variety, fur color patterning and marking variation, and potential for horns. Their upper bodies maintained the same human appearance as was the basis for their creation, with the variation of hair growth patterns, beards, chest head hair being uniform- across whatever “differences” there were between the ones with the weird “lower snouts” and the ones with the “flabby chest sacs” –

(-for Myrtu does not understand the difference between them, has never heard of gender, doesn’t understand human birth, and will not ask, because they absolutely do not know this is a question that requires asking–)

One hundred of the group members are simply Human. Their possibility for growth, variation, and adaptation to climates, latitudes, and different environments has also been unlocked by Myrtu. Even now, as the groups are settled into their new environments, the wide variety in their appearances has already been thrust upon them. Some have red hair and deep brown skin, others have green eyes and skin of gold undertones, while there among them are pale skinned and silver haired individuals. Also randomized were their builds, with some starting heavy-set, others being considerably muscular, and still others presenting underweight- heights were wildly varied as well, with maximum being nearly as tall as Centaurs and others being scarcely taller than younglings.

Within these groups, Myrtu saw fit to shuffle the age range too, for how interesting would it be to see how they’d adapt to caring for young. Among the groups, the youngest are equivalent to toddlers and the oldest are equivalent to prime forties. This was shifted to Centaur, Human, and Kinnaras species evenly, so that there weren’t too many children of one species, with too many teenagers in the next. The children were few, the teenagers more, and the adults were abundant among the shuffled ages.

Then, within the groups, Myrtu divided the received Umbra equally as groups of twelve, after having unlocked their potential too- granting them the possibility to shape, color, and mass variation, with one very important addition, to which he blessed all his new creatures...




“… and from us, as he left us to roam freely in the tall grass, where the warm sea wind did blow, we saw him depart across the night sky, as magnificent as the wondrous moon…”
Freedom!

As the group was dispersed within the Taiga, three-hundred twelve, they awakened groggily with knowledge. How to survive, to hunt, cook, clean, to craft clothing and shelter, to seek others out for help, a common tongue with which to converse aloud with their weird mouths- but most importantly, the deeply seated knowledge that they could do as they saw fit. That they were as wild and free as they should be.

No matter where they went, all of Myrtu's blessed knew that freedom meant searching and seeking, doing and being, however their hearts chose to guide them. Freedom went hand in hand with potential and possibility. Theirs was the world and to the world they belonged. It would be the canvas upon which they made their legacy, as was the right of mortals.

Far to the east of the Darkwood, the Centaur and Kinnaras along the sandy shore, spoke philosophically to each other of what this Freedom and Possibility meant, as some Humans immediately separated themselves from the others, some few Kinnaras following them. Those few Umbra, as was their nature, sought exchanges between them all that could be harmonious: To use their efforts together to build, for mutual benefit, and to use their individual talents for fair coexistence.

And at the edge of the south western desert, those Centaur among the Kinnaras proclaimed dominance, for theirs was the image closest to that of the God-Which-Strode-The-Sky. The Umbra among them took side with the Humans that disagreed, while seeing the potential they represented as both allies and labor. Within the hearts of the Kinnaras, there brewed confusion and fury at the Centaur’s declarations, but there was merit in their argument… there was truth. But they would have to decide for themselves.

All of Myrtu's Blessed Creations would have to decide for themselves.




“… truly we were the forsaken ones, yet were we chosen. Hard and hearty. Strong and sturdy. We were the closest to the God… the closest to that point high in the ice where we could be reborn…”

Together, those in the Tundra huddled, as the snow and ash came down heavily. They trembled of the cold, from fear of the unknown world, and their hearts were full of doubt. Even at this distance, they could see the horizon burning violet, and smelled the air slowly growing thick with nothing but smoke and death.

Why had they been placed here?
Was this world truly so horrible?
Were they to die before using any of the ideas they’d been given?
Without freedom? Without realizing their potential?

“Look- my friends, behold-” a white maned Centaur proclaimed, pointing to the jagged edge to the East “- those mountains are not ablaze and there opens, in the side thusly, a cavern into which we may seek shelter.” To the proclaimer, the others looked, then followed. Deep they went, into the depths of the world, where they were not truly meant to dwell. Descent into the safety of the dark- beneath the rumbling and burning surface- and perhaps into a place they could survive. Anything was better than up there.

Within them, they knew, was the freedom to do as they wished. This gave them confidence and determination both, to survive by any means, even if it meant diving into the cavernous unknown. Through their willpower, through their pull toward freedom and possibility, they knew they could carve out a life no matter where they went. That was the lesson of this land, some did say, that freedom and hope could be found even within the cage of despair.

Yet, despite this welcoming possibility of safety, there were still those that sought the freedom of the surface, and those few did remain behind in the Ashen Tundra. Their eyes turned north, where they saw that Galloping God travel away from them, across the sky.

How could they get there? How could they find their God?
And then what?
To ask her why?
To slay her out of spite?

What was beyond the Tundra would be what they sought, for even to such a harsh land, could they adapt, even if it was through tool and cloth- through way of life and myth- they were to become nomads of the mountains and glaciers both, with their hearts ever in agreement, that trekking far to the north across the wastelands, would lead them to the answers they sought.



"... we knew not that ours would become the way of culture, to trade in song and tale, but we witnessed still, that which would spark the idea for the dramatic reenactment..."

Two of Myrtu's Umbra, who were the odd count out of the fifty, and could not be evenly dispersed into other lands, hovered anxiously within Myrtu's shadow. Fearful of death, yet fascinated with that which they were witnessing, the Umbra knew what happened now was of some importance. They alone, were the sole witnesses to what was to come, and the only company for a lonely task to which Myrtu had invested herself.

Myrtu's horn was thrust deeply into that past-northern glacial ice, infusing it with their divine will and might- freeing it to shift, to change, to become a symbol and representation of the boundless and endless freedom of the soul. Yes, Myrtu understood what the soul was, now that they'd had the ambiguous encounter with the Ferryman, and knew that the soul would spend time in a Ghostel. A waste!

A waste of the very heart of willpower and freedom and potential contained within all mortal beings!

This would not be so for those who lived and died as freely as they could- for those that sought return to one more free life- for those that could be, were, and would never be.

Deep within the ice, there opened a spiraling tunnel downward, which mimicked the spiral horn atop Myrtu's glorious head. It traveled steadily and far down, unimpeded, until it met soil which should never have been found bare, for the Ice here went so deep so as touch the bottom of- what would be were it thawed- a deep-sea floor. Diving to the bottom of this tunnel, Myrtu then opened a tunnel forward, for some few paces, before beginning to sculpt.

Ice was removed the hard way: by breaking it, then transporting it to the surface through the spiraling tunnel. From Myrtu's steps up and down, the staircase was formed, as their hooves wore it into the ice. Sweat and saliva dripped from them, unheeded as the ice was moved, and it illuminated the staircase with subtle glow. Those mighty fractured glacial boulders, were tossed about the landscape, which would break up the howling wind as it came to this point, as mounds became formed, from the sheer amount of ice Myrtu moved.

When Myrtu needed to fly, to see to that ice high in the ceiling, as their wings did brush the cave walls and the soon to be fractured icy boulders, there was left behind some shimmering color within the ice, which would remain so long as the ice went unmelted. These were added to the mounds, which served as accent and indication both, that the work of a Divine had been performed here.

This task took Myrtu quite a long time, for they were surprisingly single minded in its execution, and therefore went missing from the world for a time, as a result...

Edit: cute new nametag



Species Created Detailed Info Dump







Ashevelen, The Ferryman, & Myrtu

The Steppe, prior to devastation…


Standing among the spiral formation in which a large group of proto-humans had been deposited, in the very center of the nearly uninhabited lands of the vast Steppe, there was a unicorn staring at the sky. For moments uncounted, Myrtu had stood there, waiting for Anath Homura to be out of sight, then further waiting for the ‘coast to be clear’. Slowly, ever so gingerly, she moved her hooves to the side, shrinking them as she went, so as to avoid yet another accident. Beneath each hoof was the strange ichor of the unformed human, which had been crushed beneath her landing, having been killed before it even understood what living was. Those still dormant vessels had not witnessed this act- a thing for which Mytru was grateful- so it was easy to make up for. Very simple to cover up. Easy.

Dipping her head, Myrtu skewered the half-statue half-squishy parts (of which they still could not name) upon the tip of their divine unicorn horn, then leapt into the air. At first, she’d thought to simply toss it into the nearby star, but that was a little anticlimactic. This was more than likely the first death on the Steppe, unless there were more Elves freezing to death out here too, and it deserved to be given some form of fanfare! Maybe the weird transparent screaming soul it’d left behind would stop screaming with a celebration? Right. A ghost was screaming in its formless-shapeless-sort of soundless voice beneath Myrtu. While the noise wasn’t loud it was somehow loud-without-sound which was even worse and she wanted it gone.

So, without further ado, Myrtu dashed a small distance into the air above, then charged up what they hoped would be the most brilliant funeral-death-celebration-laserbeam of them all! A lightshow began in a myriad of colors and unnamed shapes, as Myrtu incinerated the corpse, and used the ashes as sparkling dust within the light show.




“Oop! A new arrival,” said the Ferryman and extracted a scroll from the breast of his robe. “Oh, neat - this one’s on the way, actually. Bit north of here and we should be there soon. Very unfortunate death, gotta say. Celestial objects are generally not a common murder weapon. Will be a hell of a tale to share in the afterlife.”

Ashevelen enjoyed the view and while the Ferryman wasn’t one for small talk, occasionally he’d chip in. The conversation was always light, never something truly important. Eventually, Ashe settled on just observing the world, far away from the Umbral Woods. That is, until the Ferryman spoke.

Celestial object death? Correct me if I’m wrong, wouldn’t that mean that one of our brothers or sisters killed the mortal? Celestial objects don’t randomly fall out of the sky.” asked Ashe, curiously.

"I wouldn't know. The Universe is full of secrets and while I wasn't born yesterday, it hasn't been all that long." The Ferryman backed up his argument with one of his signature shrugs, then he gave the note another look. "Huh. No name. Not a lot of details at all, actually. Tch… Well, guess that's another one for the Ghostel."

No name? Maybe a new mortal created by other divines and got killed by accident. How funny would it be if someone stepped on another divine’s mortals by mistake?” said Ashe with a grin, aware of the grim joke she just made.

"Not sure it'd be funny at all, I'll be frank," the Ferryman replied matter-of-factly. "But to each their own, I suppose." The forest eventually gave way to giant mountains, and beyond, an unending sea of grass intermittently broken up by small, wave-like hills or on the rare occasion mountain tsunamis. Here ran the occasional horse flock, and on occasion Wellington would almost crash into an indignant eagle, but otherwise, it was fairly empty. The Ferryman scratched his head. "Can't fault anyone for dying out here, 'cept maybe ruminants."

Not for them that for sure. Bah, Ferryman you need to learn how to laugh. ” said Ashe laughing out loud. Truly a curious sound from the boat of the Ferryman, joyous laughter.

Amazing. Maybe I should’ve made the home of the Umbra here. This place looks quite nice, a lot of grass and places where you can run around. Imagine a massive bazaar built on these plains, mortals from everywhere would come. Ahhh…” said Ashe with a hopeful voice, half-daydreaming the day she’ll instruct the Umbra to build her the bazaar.

"A migrating settlement of sorts sure would be a doozy," the Ferryman agreed. "Sell a bit'a this, a bit'a that - all that good stuff." They sailed a bit further on, their altitude bringing them on collision course with a ribbon of dancing aurorae. Wellington dove down below and the Ferryman ran his fingers through the colours, magic dust spotting his hand. "Neat!"

We’re more alike that I initially thought, Mr. Ferryman. I do have to say, I enjoy your company. ” replied Ashe then proceeded to take some magic dust into her hands, only to put it inside her pockets. Surely it would be useful later.

"Thank you!" the Ferryman said with an ambiguous smile. "It's the joy of any ferryman to please one's passenger. And…" He breathed a relieved sigh. "... It's nice to sail with a friendly face for once."

"It must be lonely to always travel alone. Well, then, let me provide a gift. You've given me a lift and I'll give you something else in exchange. A trade if you want to call it that. " said Ashevelen, smiling.

She pulled her robes apart and from the shadows, a group of 6 Umbras appeared. Hiding in the shadows of their creator.

" I give them to you, my creations. As long as they follow my commands, they are free to do whatever you may wish them to do. "

The Ferryman blinked and eyed the shadows behind him. “I, uh…” He rubbed the back of his head humbly. “Thank you, miss, but, uh… I don’t know if I can accept them. I’m on the job all day and night, and if these things need to eat, then I won’t have time to feed ‘em. I, uh…” He looked over the edge of his boat. “Do they mind bartending? Wait, hang on, they’d have to be dead to even see the Ghostel…”

The Umbra in his shadow quivered at the mention.

Dead? No, no. They don’t need to be dead to see ghosts. ” smiled Ashe and with a wave of her hand, dark light flashed in the usually blank eyes of the Umbra. The Umbra were very much scared initially and then, if their faces could have expressions, it would’ve been one of amazement. Blessed with the ability to see the dead, the Umbra were amazed by the number of souls around them.

And done, they can now see the dead. As for bartending, I have given them the ability to understand the nature of a trade. Offer them your divine protection and in exchange, they’ll do what you need. They can eat pretty much anything but I can help them a bit more if you wish or just use your own power, let them eat souls or whatever else you wish. ” smiled Ashevelen, kindly.

The Ferryman, not really knowing any other ways to politely decline a gift, conceded defeat and nodded. “Thank you, ma’am. I’m sure they’ll come to good use.”

And on the Steppe, still so early in its stage of growth and population, any sound but that of the wind, was carried as unbroken as a wave, until it rolled ashore. Laughter, bright and babbling- yet somehow contradictingly imperceptible- echoed from a place somewhere beneath those dusty multicolored lights.

An oddity amongst oddities would be the sight of the statuesque and dormant humans, of which there is a sizable number, arranged in a great spiral formation, atop the rolling golden grass, at whose center-point danced a god. A large winged Unicorn, whose colorful mane and fur did shift hues as they moved, was putting on a show for an audience of one.

Myrtu moved in a precise manner-bucking and leaping- tossing their mane and leaving trails of light and color with their wings. Before them a formless unnamed soul giggled, in the soundless-cacophonous manner of those whose voices would forever go unheard by mortals.

The Ferryman slowed down the pace of Wellington and blinked. He waved his hand with a small movement and greeted, “Afternoon, friend!”

Ashevelen looked, a bit amazed, at the other divine. A truly majestic form they’ve chosen.

Amazing horn brother! And your mane !

Myrtu halted, then leapt into the air- his wings of light glittering brightly behind him- until he was even with the front Wellington. A moment of equine examination took place, as he looked the two over. Finally, in a voice that came without the use of his mouth, he spoke brightly, "Greetings! Where art thine hooves? Does this vessel act in the place of them?"

The Ferryman looked over the edge of the boat to behold the magnificent quad of polished hooves attached to the amazingly fabulous unicorn. After a very jealous spot of pondering, he managed to muster a small, “I suppose so. Sure wish she was as shiny as yours are, though.”

"Only a paltry few granules of stardust would be required for shining the vessel- though the collection of stardust involves going near those stars which have collapsed without falling into the collapsing void thyself- one need simply outrun it. Or," he tossed his mane about, along with a few sparkles, "Partake of a sum from mine flowing tresses, I have much to spare."

Myrtu abruptly gave Ashevelen a stare down, "And where art thy hooves? Unless- ah, a duo of Divines which sail the skies?"

My hooves? I have hooves, look again brother. Hooves, tail and everything in between. ” answered Ashe and to prove her words, she lifted one leg in the air and lo’ and behold, one of feet was turned into a hoof. A parlor trick for a divine but hopefully, the other divine would’ve found it mildly amusing at least.

I just went along for a ride, to answer your question. My mortals need time to grow and more places to be than they can travel on their own. As such, the good Ferryman offered us a space on his boat.

"Yup," the Ferryman said with a nod.

When Ashevelen revealed the hoof, Myrtu bounded about midair in amusement, making a little circle before facing the two again. "I have, in mine contemplations, asked why each Divine does choose their forms, and why, upon this world, there is a startling of hooves, so far as I have seen."

"-and did you say mortals? Ah, I've quite the collection- "

Below, the infantile soul cried out in confusion, to which Myrtu abruptly and immediately responded. He went toward it with a spiraling descent, so careful not to go near any of the dormant human statues.

"Here I am! Please do not begin the wailing again-" Myrtu shouted upward "-twas nice to meet you however I am quite busy!"

The Ferryman blinked and extracted the little scroll from his breast pocket. “Say, uh…” He unfurled it. “... Would that soul have happened to have been squashed by a celestial object in its living days? Would you know anything about that, mister…?”

Myrtu stared up at the Ferryman, then back to the soul, then back upward. A tense moment of silence passed. A very deep sigh left Myrtu as he explained, "Accidentally there was a most unfortunate and unintentional crushing of one of these statues, which represent a dormant race of mortals called Humans, by mine most mistaken and accidental misstep, in which I unwittingly smooshed a statue with mine hoof. Accidentally. Unfortunately. Thereby rendering it unto a state most deceased."

“Huh. Guess that’s one-oh to you, Miss Ashevelen,” the Ferryman conceded.

Ashevelen listened to Myrtu’s very unfortunate tale, on how he killed this mortal race called humans and then nodded to the Ferryman with a grin.

Wow. A joke I made turned out to be real. Who’d have thought about that? ” quickly replied Ashevelen while laughing and tapping the Wellington with her hand in delight.

Divine brother, may you offer us your name? I am Ashevelen, lady of the trade and this here…” pointing to the Ferryman “...is the Ferryman of the dead. Called to ferry across the world, the souls of the dead. In other words, the one below there.

Myrtu shook his head about anxiously, stepping into a little dance for the soul, which cooed and giggled, before he responded, "I am called Myrtu, and full glad am I that this one may be sent elsewhere- I've nary a clue as to how much entertainment I could provide for much longer."

“Oh, very kind of you, mister Myrtu,” said the Ferryman and beckoned the soul aboard his vessel (it didn’t have much of a choice in the matter). It was seated very politely on one of the plank seats next to a myriad of Umbral shades, one of whom conjured forth a fraction of Ashevelen’s shadow and made a little puppet show for the soul. It received copious applause for its mimicry of a skipping foal. “This one’ll…” The Ferryman regarded the soul scroll. “... Go to the Ghostel for the time being, it seems. But hey, it’s somewhere.”

Ashe watched with great interest the Umbra’s puppet show and laughed copiously at the story they portrayed. The souls seemed to enjoy it as well but she soon lost interest in them, instead, she turned towards Myrtu.

Myrtu, it seems to me that you’ve got quite a few humans down there. What do you say about a trade? I give you some of my Umbra and in exchange, I’ll take some of your humans. How does that sound? ” asked Ashevelen. "Humans and Umbra might get along," replied Ashevelen, "The Umbra could use some new trade partners and maybe, some new food if they don't prove themselves useful."

Heaving a great and weary sigh, Myrtu settled down, folding his legs beneath him. Ashevelen's words were taken in with a quiet moment of equine thought, as he shifted his head about, taking in the sight of the humans at different angles. Calculating? Idly, as he looked about, Myrtu asked, "Ghostel? I... will have to find this place, in due time. What is this Ghostel? The afterlife for mortals?"

Then to Ashevelen he responded, "And if there will be a trade, I'd ask only for equal numbers of these hoofless blobs in exchange," he shook his mane about with some amusement, "These are mortal creatures both with potential which awaits unbinding and realization. Only as they grow might we know what their capabilities truly are."

That is a fair trade. Say, 50 of mine vs 50 of yours? Enough for them to grow on their own without us needing to shepherd them. ” quickly replied Ashevelen.

“I agree- that number will be suitable- these mortals will quite overwhelm them with amount, however, among them shall I unleash variation in form and build, so that they might engage in teamwork and compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses. These.. Umbra, will make excellent variation to that which is planned,” Myrtu bobbed his head, “Though forgive me, as I am quite weary, and will not be able to transport that number easily until mine breath hath returned to me.”

The Ferryman followed the logic of the conversation, as well as Ashevelen’s frequent eye shifts back to him and mumbled something like, “... Well, I guess there’s space in Wellington for a few.”

Only if you allow it, Ferryman. You can drop them at any time in the Umbral Forests. Pretty sure some of the Umbras are dying as we speak, seeing that I haven’t offered them much to begin with.” smiled Ashe, shyly towards the Ferryman. She realized a bit too late that the Ferryman will end up…ferrying alive mortals as well.

With a knock on her robe, a few more Umbras came out. These, like the other ones, hid in Ashe’s shadow and just waited for her to allow them to come out whenever they were required. Of course, the blessing which affected the Ferryman’s Umbra, affected them as well. Giving birth to a new type of Umbra.

There, 50 Umbras for you, Myrtu. Thank you for your trade.” said Ashe as she gently let the Umbras on the ground, next to Myrtu’s humans.

Myrtu regarded the Umbra on the ground with an ambiguous expression, as most of his expressions were, seeing as he’s a horse, before looking back up to Ashevelen. “These humans are bound in statue form and, though I am certain they may be transported with ease, I’ve no idea as to their weight and if such a tiny vessel would be able to carry them. Therefore I propose that I, in due time, transport them myself to your forest. I am capable of carrying numerous objects at once, with the powers of mine Divine Mind.”

What in tarnation did you just say about my vessel, you little foal? I’ll have you know that I graduated top of my class at the Ferryman Academy and that I have over three hundred confirmed deliveries. I am trained in navigation and I am the top sailor in the entire Intercosmic Undertaker Association. You are nothing to me but just another colleague. I will ship you away with speed and comfort the likes of which has never been seen before on this Galbar, mark my darn words. You think you can get away with saying that stuff over telepathy? Think again, horsey. As we speak, I am contacting my known network of souls all across the planet and your mind is being filled now with positive reviews, so you better prepare for the storm, stallion. The storm that tells you that I actually do a pretty decent job. You will learn a lesson, foal. I can be anywhere (within reason), anytime (well, virtually), and I can transport you in over three ways, and that’s just with my boat Wellington. Not only am I extensively trained in rowboating, but I have access to the entire fleet of the Intercosmic Undertaker Association and I will use it to its full extent to ferry your respectable self off the face of this Steppe, you kind sir. If only you could have known what comfortable service your little ‘clever’ comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your respectable tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t and now you won’t be paying the price (I ship for free, see), you respectable gentlehorse. I will ship cordially all over and you will enjoy it. You’re damned welcome, foaly.”

The Ferryman blinked as he realized what he had just said and mumbled, “Sorry, dunno what came over me just there.”

And unto the Ferryman, Myrtu asked in a deadpan, “Can thine vessel transport fifty statues?”

The Ferryman looked around his little dory. “Uh, probably. Guess we’ll have to try, huh?”

“If it cannot,” Myrtu got to his feet, shimmering, “Then it shall be declared the teeny tiny shipping container from the Intercosmic Undertaker Association.”

“You’re on, horsey.”

With a Single flip of his magnificent sparkling mane, Myrtu’s horn glowed brightly- illuminating outlines around some fifty grouped human statues. With a second swish of hair, which rained down significant sparkles, the statues lifted all at once toward the Wellington. Like a true dock-loader, Myrtu asked then, “Lengthwise, stacked, or other way, transport?”

“Stacked lengthwise. Don’t you worry, sir - she’s handled her share before.” The Ferryman gently put his Umbral Six in a dark corner in the back, gestured for Ashevelen to move back some and stood up to guide the shipment down in the ship’s belly with his hands. Ashe just stood there, wide-eyed. Her face was of utter disbelief. Looking at the Ferryman and then back at Myrtu, their exchange getting heatedly-polite. Eventually, she started laughing and laughing and continued to do that until the Ferryman gestured for her to move and then, afterwards, she continued to laugh again.

Amazing. Divines everywhere, this was just amazing. Wow, just…wow. I’m speechless. Ferryman, Myrtu, I have to say, I quite like you two. Please visit my realm later on when I’ll build one. We need to have a brew and talk more. Pure entertainment. ” said Ashe, barely managing to speak in-between laughs. A tear slowly rolling down her cheek from pure joy.

As Myrtu lowered the fifty statues into the Wellington, one by one, as guided by the Ferryman, he mumbled, “Well, foolish would I be to turn down a chance to entertain and bring joy to others.” Oh, Myrtu absolutely was going to passive-aggressively keep loading up the Wellington, even if things looked as if they weren’t going to work. With an amused shake of his head, Myrtu added, “Mayhaps next we meet, we may share progress on how our mortals are faring.”

The Ferryman, with a competitive glint in his eye, pursed his ambiguous lips as the vessel sank deeper and deeper into the magical river it sailed. “Mayhaps we shall.” The Umbra had already flowed out from their hidey hole and tried desperately to keep the tower of humans in balance. The barrier barring souls from exiting the vessel without the Ferryman’s leave would have helped - if it had been calibrated for the living. The Ferryman tried to hide the beads of sweat on his forehead. “Mayhaps, indeed.”

Myrtu continued loading statues without any sign of slowing down. He remained silent.

Do you need help, Ferryman? More than happy to row as well, for a price. Maybe some more divine power is required? You can accept after we leave from here, out of the eyes of Myrtu, of course. ” said Ashe with a grin while helping stabilize the human tower from falling over.

“No need,” the Ferryman insisted as he cast a soul spell to balance the tower at the top while also transporting a panicked Umbra back aboard after they almost fell to their death. “Wellington has never lost a passenger before. She won’t lose one today.”

Pride doesn’t suit you, my friend. ” quickly replied Ashe with a friendly smile.

“I thank you both for stopping by,” Myrtu spoke up, after placing the final statue atop the stack, “Please do visit again.”

Goodbye divine brother! It was a pleasure meeting you!” shouted Ashe with a wave.

“Oh, this’ll probably be the sort’a place I return to often,” said the Ferryman with feigned confidence. “A very good day to ya, mister Myrtu.” With that, they sailed off like a stack of plates on a skateboard, statues dropping off and being put back with telekinesis like an endless game of jenga.

edit: fixed some scuffed spelling, formatting, and inserted the elusive myrtu token



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