@Cyclone re: map, I have access to a bunch of fancy graphics tools so really you guys can go nuts with your landmaking, that shouldn't be a problem on my end at all.
Re: portfolio restrictions, my only caveat is that an action should be available to a god if it helps the story, which means super heavy might multipliers and the sorts would need a lot of case-by-case balancing. im perfectly okay with it being more advantageous to talk to the relevant god. just, nobody likes adjusting their stories to be able to hold up to months of posts with no advancement to their planned plotline, or just giving them up because they REQUIRE an inactive god to be around or the might cost is way too high to justify for a single plotline.
at the same time, i feel as though gods should still retain fine control over their most immediate surroundings. i didnt notice much abuse of this, and it permitted for more varied plots. nobody's gonna be hurt if a God conjures up a rainstorm in a few miles' radius.
i dont think the rules should be purely based around least abusable - it should be based around most interesting and fun imo, as i think we can usually self-police the rp just fine.
for frontloading the age of creation, i feel like giving the gods each their own piggybank with "might for use on galbar only" scrawled on the side while allowing their regular might on their spheres (and galbar i guess) would be an easy way to permit people to trick out both to their liking.
Honestly, one thing I would like is a sharp decrease in the ability for gods and demigods to get around. I've always wanted to do a ~greek epic god journey~ like the Odyssey but Odysseus is a god, but I've never been able to justify why Lazarus would do that when transportation to any part of Galbar via divine means is so accessible and easy to do.
I feel like the "travel half the globe in seconds" thing should be restricted to super-powerful late-rp gods and emergencies, and the globe should otherwise be a big thing that the gods must journey across.
The spiritual epicentre of the Ironhearts was a far cry from the decade before. Narrow slopes had been dug into guarded roads. Thin passes were fortified with gates housed by stone walls. But behind the smoke wafting from the south, much of the stone fell broken. Hidden in the shadows cast by the low, orange, evening light were armoured corpses. Rovaick of all kinds were reclined in dried blood, covered with flies. Amongst them were the furred shapes of warrior dwarves and their gryphons, also traded in life for the ground they took.
The Ironhearts burned.
Sularn looked out from a tower striking up from the Rulanah holdfast to see his vision of the greatness of rovaick curling up in pillars of ash from the south. His porcelain-plated fingers creaked around his staff in fury.
"Prophet, the dwarves are moving," an azibo advisor spoke from behind him. "We believe they are committing to an assault."
Sularn did not turn around. "Tell the legions to hold fast and prepare for battle," Sularn said through grit teeth. "We shall not let them dirty this sacred place."
"We are outnumbered, my prophet. The defences will not hold the night."
With two broad steps, Sularn turned around to face the advisor. His face was wrinkled in anger, but two shining rivulets had fallen down his azibo cheeks. "I know. That is why I evacuated the rest. Our duty remains here."
A slide and clack brought Sularn's porcelain visor over his face. "Kill all that approach."
The bronze-clad yeti-like creature slowly stepped up to the siege tent erected on the greens outside the city of Rulanah itself. It had been moved multiple times, as more and more ground had been gained in assaults, tightening the noose around the city of Rulanah. This yeti held maps, charts, and reports, of which he knew there was almost naught to fear.
He took a deep breath, entering the siege tent. Inside were the prophets and generals of the crusade of retribution, including the arch prophetess, Elspeth herself. Rulanah, they all knew, was a center of great importance to the Rovaick. Vast sections of the Third Legion had surrounded it from all sides.
The crusaders looked narrowly at him as he brought up a board and laid out the charts and reports that had been compiled. He let his breath out slowly, before sucking it back in. He began, “The burning of the heretical bastion has already begun. Our trebuchets have made their calculations and are now accurately bombarding the city. Our aerial troops suggest that the palace district, the church district, and the residential district above ground are up in flames.”
He paused, and waited for their reactions. Elspeth nodded, and the rest soon followed, signalling their approval. The yeti relaxed slightly, continuing, “I have begun massing the northern and southern siege camps for a two-pronged assault. The orders have already been relayed. The western section allowed a number of Rovaick to escape into the mountains. The eastern section will be reinforcing the siege lines while the western side diverts to track down the refugees. Despite that difficulty, a large number of the refugees were slaughtered, as per your instructions.”
That report gained mixed receptions, Elspeth remaining quiet while some quiet grumblings and slow, satisfied but not elated gestures of approval. He took another deep breath, and projected, “The tunnels below the city have been breached by our sappers. A number have troops have entered, and we will be ready to assault the belowground portion of the city soon. I have relayed orders for the tunnel soldiers to assault midway through our above ground assault. The troops have not reported any significant resistance, nor have they allowed any escapees. It is possible that they do not yet know we are in the tunnels.”
The reception for that report was particularly positive, but some simply did nothing. He finished with, “The enemy legions have been reported by our scouts to be massing. They know it is their last stand. We will burn away their tainted souls, and may Lazarusian light cleanse even the darkest of corruptions.”
The sound of boots filled the air. Rattling of chainmail moved to a crescendo as the Third Legion finished its preparations. The sun had dipped below the sky, the landscape bathed in the orange glow of Rulanah’s misfortune. The ground itself shook under the weight of pike hafts smashing into it, a demoralizing racket of metal-on-earth. The Third Legion, in the dim light, seemed endless, troops stretching in great columns far into the darkness.
Great balls of flame stretched over their heads, an initial barrage of fiery stone flying towards their target. They cast great shadows among the columns, revealing the utter thousands of troops of the Legion. The din of marching boots began again as the columns began to move, the stone smashing into the holdfasts.
"Steady, men!" The troll sergeant shouted from under his helmet. His white tusks framed his shouting mouth. "Remember what you are!" The metal of his plate armour scraped in the gaps between the dwarves' rhythmic pounding on the ground.
Along the wall he strode, between himself and the battlements, were armoured trolls with bows. Every twenty paces stood a tedar ready to toss great rocks. They all stood still as statues.
A rock rushed overhead and thudded to a stop beyond.
"You are Toun's chosen! Those wretches beyond the walls stand below your height on the ground!" He gestured out to the columns of pikes. "Look at their puny little arms! They're contemptuous of our perfection! Let your perfection pierce their armour. Use your perfect hands to tear their arms from their sockets! Every drop of blood is homage to your oath!" The sergeant raised a fist. "Let no rovaick die today without blood-soaked fists!"
The rovaick on the wall barked out four thunderous shouts.
The dwarf pikes continued their rhythm.
"Volleys on my mark!" The sergeant's stretched his fingers up. Little sounds of wood clattered as the wall put arrows to bowstrings.
The dwarves continued to march forwards, their shields assembling into walls. They shouted their own battlecry in return, a single call chanted in unison. “Lazarus is with us!” they cried, as the deafening sound of shifting metal and boots thundered across the battlefield. Another volley from the trebuchets flew overhead, once again casting the battlefield awash with orange glow.
"Draw!" The sergeant drew out his shout. Hundreds of bowstrings creaked.
Another flaming stone lit up the scene. A crunch of flying stone and momentary bestial screams sent a segment of crenellations and a pair of troll bowmen broken off the wall. No others moved.
The sergeant kept his eyes fixed on the dwarf frontline.
The troll arrows glinted with little red symbols.
The bowstring chorus sent rain towards the pikes.
The advancing shieldwall met arrows the size of spears for their scale. A number punched through to slay the least lucky. Others bent shields in as their impact was glanced away. Entire spheres of the line saw the massive arrows break their speed with pulses of psychic power.
The dwarves converged into the momentary holes in their lines and marched over the fallen.
Another downpour lanced into the formation.
Always more replaced the fallen.
The trebuchet volleys went eerily silent, the darkness in the sky obscuring the sound of metal and wings. They grew closer and closer to the holdfast, only the most perceptive of Rovaick hearing them over the din of the columns below.
Until the gryphon-riders dived. The gryphons folded in their wings, dropping suddenly atop the holdfast from far in the sky, long lances outstretched to meet the helmets of the Rovaick.
"Flyers! Fire at w-"
The gryphons stormed in like a squall. Those rovaick without the reflexes or notice to defend themselves were run through their armour. Most gryphons were out of reach before any retribution was possible. One tedar used a rock to blunt a lance before grabbing the creature out of the air. The victim was twisted and torn in moments.
The next pass run was met with a front of arrows. More rovaick fell to the lances. Pierced gryphons broke their necks on the wall they could no longer avoid.
"BRING THEM DOWN!" The sergeant pointed, his men complied. Teams of goblins manning ballistae at the parapets swivelled and loosed great nets into the air against the more headstrong gryphons. More lost control.
Yet as the assault dragged on, the sergeant saw fewer of his soldiers yet standing. Still hulks of armour dripped with red blood on the stones around him.
"Your oaths keep you standing! Fight!" He bellowed. "FIGHT!"
The remaining gryphon-riders made their escape, as ladders began to scale the holdfast’s walls. The diversion had worked -- the columns had made it to the walls. They shouted another warcry, in Dwarven, and the ladders creaked under the weight of dozens of soldiers climbing them. No matter how many ladders were kicked down, there remained yet more.
Simply not enough Rovaick remained standing to completely defend the walls. The top of the holdfast walls began to flood with Dwarven troops. Pikes were extended, and the superior reach of the weapons kept the dwarven soldiers at a safe distance. Not enough stones could crush them, not enough arrows could impale them. Not enough skill fencing spears could keep the sheer number of clustered pikes from reaching between the rovaick armour.
The sergeant led the retreat back to the cave mouths. His sword and arms were spattered with dwarf blood. His breath heaved through grit teeth as his mind ignored insignificant swathes he and his surviving compatriots had killed. He turned at his allotted checkpoint and raised his door-sized shield. "Toll every inch with a thousand souls!" The shields to the left and right of him locked into a wall. "Block these tunnels with piles of their fallen!"
Behind them, further in the tunnels, the distant din of metal could be heard. Reinforcements?
The sergeant's ears detected one sound which dispelled the notion.
The ear-splitting shriek of an ogru dying.
The beastly ogru were meant to be in reserve for the tunnel fight. That fight had started early.
He pulled away from the front line, allowing the others to close his gap. He strode to face the rear and shouted. "Rear shields form up!"
A wave of sliding metal drew another shield wall closed. The sergeant dully contemplated their trapped position.
Dwarves emerged from the darkness, in columns similar to their counterparts on the outside. The columns converged on the Rovaick shield walls, though they did not charge. They remained a respectable distance, prodding the Rovaick, forcing them closer and closer together to avoid death. They brought the Rovaick as close as possible, silently, like a well-oiled machine.
The troll shields angled back all at once and overlapped like scales. Unified footfalls joined the shield wall surging forward. The dwarven pikes slid up the shields and snapped against the cave ceiling. The enemy column compressed against the sheer weight of their opponents.
The shield wall slowed to a stop against the pressed bodies. Their undersides lifted, spewing out the small forms of screaming goblins with daggers and shortswords. Compressed dwarves were cut at the legs and stabbed from below.
The shields let go for only the moments required to let bodies fall.
The rear of the dwarven column were brought to stop the cheap trick.
The Psykers stepped out of the lines. Plumes of fire from every side converged onto the Rovaick, heat bombarding the soldiers and cooking them alive in their own armor. The tunnel went silent except for the sound of screams and flame, the great columns watching the death of their enemy.
Their faces couldn’t be seen through their helmets. The light of the flames cast long shadows across the crevices of their armor.
The rovaick sergeant gathered the last of his unscorched strength and threw his sword through a distracted psyker's chest. One last act of spite before his flesh sloughed from his bones.
The columns marched on. The battle continued elsewhere.
The city was collapsing. The dwarves had made their way to the city itself, and had set to work destroying all they could. Underground supports were cut in half, the top of the city both burning and sinking into the ground. There remained one last bastion of defense, in the central palace. The rest of the crusading army ran pillaging and preventing escape, while Elspeth gathered her personal force.
Anger filled her. Anger towards those who had refused Lazarus’ blessings. She forged it into purpose -- to destroy the Rovaick entirely. She had been preparing for this moment ever since the siege had begun. And, in the dusty underhalls that rumbled as vast portions of the city fell upon them, Elspeth and her personal, elite column moved in towards the holy chamber that Sularn himself was expected to be defending.
The psykers projected battering waves of divine mindlances, disorienting the Azibo mages that came across the column. Just as much flooded their minds with urges to strike their neighbour. The unseen melee between magicians left blurring shockwaves in the senses. But, the soldiers marched prepared, equipped with the finest gear the army could offer. Their equipment was covered in Lazarusian runes of nullification. Elspeth lead at the front, clad in fine armor and a faceless helmet.
When the chamber’s outer defenses came into view, the column began to charge, ignoring all attacks upon them in their single-minded, fanatical goal. Elspeth in particular reached the outer defenses in seconds, naught but a blur of immortal speed.
The rovaick could not stop her if they tried. Enemies of all shapes and sizes were sent flying.
As Elspeth stopped to kill as many as possible, a shockwave flew from the holy chamber that struck the minds of all the dwarves. Like blood sinking from their brains, their vision saw stars. Elspeth recovered quickly.
Another shockwave struck out. Dwarves in mid-charge were overcome by an uncontrollable bloodlust.
A third mental wave used their zeal against them. They met with the rovaick lines, flailing and striking madly. The dwarves behind the vanguard struck out at those in front of them. And the line behind struck at whoever was in reach. Madness reigned in all directions as the legion fell upon everything around it.
Elspeth knew its source.
She charged through the final defenders of the chambers, the heavy doors blocking access crashing down and clattering to the floor against her charge. She screamed to whoever was in the chamber, “In Lazarus’ name, your ilk will be wiped from Galbar!”
A caped figure kneeling in front of a porcelain statue rose. He had a helmet of porcelain himself. His old azibo eyes turned to Elspeth, visible through the slits of his visor. With a step, he faced the dwarf leader.
Most of his exposed skin was porcelain. Bright scars upon the clay revealed themselves to be symbols. Not Lazarusian runes. Heretical scrawlings the filthy mountain men called calligraphy.
"You rush to destroy yourself, Elspeth!" Sularn spat out the last word. "Your wanton waste disgusts us all. You will kill as many as you can, and you shall always remain nothing!"
Sularn's large, porcelain gauntlets emerged from the curtain of his cape. His fingers tensed and the symbols upon him shone.
Elspeth suddenly jerked to the side, sensing the divine energies flowing through the room. Two clay spikes emerged from where she was standing. She yelled at Sularn in a rage, “I am the chosen of Lazarus! It is to her I give thanks for this impending victory! Your false idols have lead you astray from the true path! I am not only Lazarus’ chosen, I am the scourge of Toun!”
Sularn waved up with each arm in turn, launching more sharp clay up from the floor.
Elspeth was a blur as she moved rapidly out of the way of each one, seemingly unperturbed by the energy she was using.
"Your scourging lays you low!" Sularn retorted. "Your purpose makes you a slave! An animal!"
Sularn stomped the ground, bringing a pillar of clay up in front of him. A flourished push in the air caused the mass to slam down in Elspeth's direction. She jumped high into the air, gripping the top of the pillar and flipping over it. She was closing in on Sularn, as she screamed, “I will ensure you take no comfort in your death, for I bring the end of days! I ride with a million warriors! Your world will burn!”
She flourished her sword in his direction as she charged forwards, continuing with, “Where is your god now? His final act speeds ever towards him!”
Sularn shot an arm out to one side. A blade of clay extended from his fist. "He waits for you to do better..."
Elspeth's lunge was turned aside by Sularn's sword. This was exactly what she wanted. She spun around, going under his blade arm, and slicing her sword through his armoured midsection. She spun out of his reach as his guts bulged from their porcelain covering onto the floor. He fell to one knee, shrieking, and supported himself by his blade point on the floor. His other hand desperately pushed at the blood-pouring flesh above his waist.
“The world is changing. The end of Toun is upon us,” she said, more quietly, standing up straight as she looked back at Sularn.
The azibo prophet sucked in a breath. The visor of his helmet opened under its own power. His pained sneer lifted to meet Elspeth's gaze.
"May you outlive your anger…" Sularn said, shivering. "May you be swallowed by the void you created inside. May death deny you, and let you suffer...hollow…"
Sularn erred forward. He slumped face first onto the edge of Toun's gift; the pattern of red symbols still on the floor, having been his race's salvation so long ago. His consciousness ebbed.
Elspeth felt the pressured itch in the middle of her mind wane. Sularn's influence was lifted and the unnatural madness in her ranks dispelled.
The slaughter outside finished in short order. The remaining troops entered, and upon seeing Elspeth’s handiwork, began the final blow to Rulanah; tearing down their holiest symbol.
None of Toun’s gifts survived the night.
Except one little bird that followed without notice.
Blood loss made Sularn's mind slow. His brief moments of wakefulness allowed by the tenacity Toun gifted him were only good enough to stare. This close to the symbols of Toun's gift, he could make out a few he had not spotted before.
The sound of breaking stone and defiling acts were all background noise. The tiny symbols taught the idea of only letting the strongest livestock live.
Selective breeding. Funny, they had figured that one out on their own.
Perhaps they were improving themselves after all.
Toun might even be proud of that.
The corner of Sularn's mouth lifted.
The cave floor felt like ice.
The only other symbols were too close to read.
It was cold.
It was quiet.
Dwarves might still be present. No point. He could not hear them.
The shuffling of cloth and a single pair of feet sounded off across the room. It came closer to Sularn, and then, a gloved hand touched his shoulder. It rolled him over, revealing the masked figure of Burning Fist, that Archon from the demiplanes who had so long ago been torn out of it. They looked over the wound, unaware that Sularn was still alive.
Sularn saw the stranger's mask and took a breath. "Majus," he whispered. He could barely move his mouth. "Toun, I failed you."
The voice that emerged from the white, porcelain mask was quiet and embedded with tones of emotion alien to creations of Toun. They said, “Be still, rest a while. You haven’t time.” They took a piece of loose cloth, wet it from a flask, and dabbed Sularn’s forehead. They then slowly brought the flask to Sularn's mouth.
Sularn weakly lifted his head enough to take one mouthful. He swallowed half and let the rest dribble from the corner of his mouth.
"That is enough," Sularn whispered. "I can do nothing but die now."
They shook their head. “You are dying -- that much is true. You will not last the night. But -- you have a story, a legacy to pass on. Will you tell me this legacy, with your last hours?”
The robed, masked figure sat down next to him. “If you may, start from the beginning. Go to the end, and stop once there is no more. Your story may not be forgotten yet.”
As if one last achievement was in reach, one pivotal effort in Sularn's mind reached utter clarity. He stared blankly up at the soot-coated ceiling and let himself begin.
"I was born before the first copper flowed," he mumbled. "We were hungry...We were cold...We were trapped...I prayed…"
Sularn's body was still. His face pale green and bloodless. His story had ended just as he let out his last breath. It was morning now. The tragic last passage of his tale was written all around him.
They reached out and shut his eyes. “You will not be forgotten.”
Burning Fist stood up slowly, looking at the devastation around them. They slowly shook their head, and began to pile the smaller pieces of rubble over Sularn’s body, covering it from the elements. It was the least they could do.
Note from Mutton: The sacking of Rulanah marks the start of a wave of Tounic rovaick spreading up and around the world in a vast diaspora! These peoples may start popping up in small communities all over the place. Likely their situation will have cooled off the more hubristic side of their culture. Feel free to otherwise incorporate them in your stories should it suit you.
The scene starts with Sularn looking out across a burning Rulanah. He finds out the dwarves are massing for an assault.
Meanwhile, on the dwarven side, the dwarves have breached the tunnels under the city, and are assaulting from two sides.
The attack starts later that night, and both sides take a lot of casualties, though the Rovaick ultimately lose.
Elspeth takes her elite troops into the central palace, where Toun’s Cool Shit is. She monologues and Sularn monologues.
Elspeth guts Sularn and wrecks the temple.
Later, Sularn wakes up to a friend we haven’t seen in a while, hi Burning Fist!
A dignified death happens.
Overall, the most notable part is Rulanah got the Carthage treatment.
The palace was a magnificent place, built in the vision of the old imperial palace of Dundee. Of course, it was not as rich. The grand mineral deposits of Dundee were no longer at Albe's disposal.
Albe made his residence in the upper floors. A series of waiter trolleys provided food and drink to the emperor, but he otherwise had little contact with the outside world. From this lofty height, he kept track of the world around him and made his best attempt to drink himself into a trance. Neither ever worked.
He shuffled through some parchment, spymaster reports written across them in Lazarusian runes, unreadable to those who did not intimately understand it. Though he made no public appearances, he still dressed the part. His clothes were the finest. They bore a sharp contrast to his demeanor; slouched, with baggy eyes, and a look of defeat. He had not slept well in a long time.
He placed down the reports and walked to a cabinet nearby. He took out two finely-crafted mugs from the cabinet and a bottle of hard beer, and then walked back over to the table with the reports on it.
Pouring the beer into each mug, he spoke. "It's been a while since I've had guests."
The ceramic footfalls were a new sound in the palace. Nothing was meant to get this far uninvited. Albe was past caring.
The door to the chamber unlatched. Beyond the door, as it creaked open, was a porcelain statue of an enormously tall, thin, plate-armoured knight, kneeling to look through. The statue's helmeted head turned left and right, regarding the portal. It's head straightened, then it leisurely pushed its wide shoulders into each side of the door frame. The masonry around the door cracked and crumbled in its wake. As it pushed through and stood to full height, the terrified guards behind it slunk quietly away, dragging their injured comrades with them. The white clay of the knight's long hammer still beaded with spatters of dwarf blood.
The knight and stepped forward across the high-ceilinged room. Its helmet angled down to give Albe a faceless regard.
"Dwarf Albe," the knight intoned in a broad, cavernous echo.
Without looking up from his reading material, Albe slid the second mug across the table, motioning for the knight to take a seat. "I know you want information from me. I will give you what you desire, but you must play by my rules. Sit."
The knight's porcelain helmet turned to the seat. Albe could not tell whether the being breathed. It did not appear capable of much body language at all. Only whatever calculation that caused it to pause so. It finally laid the heavy end of its hammer upon the floor and lowered, scraping, into a cross-legged position on the floor across the table. It picked up the dwarf-sized seat with one hand and placed it aside. Its palm settled still on its knee, while the other held the haft of its weapon perfectly vertical.
"I am Majus," the knight stated. "Servant of Toun. You are a servant of Lazarus. Tell me where your mistress is."
"I was a servant of Lazarus. More than that, a son of Lazarus, the progeny to her secrecy, and thrall to her madness." Albe paused, looking over the knight, before taking up his mug and sipping from it. "Tell me, Majus, what do you know of Lazarus?"
Majus' head did not move with its speech. "Demigoddess Lazarus has been observed thus; experimental with the Gap, paranoid of deific influence upon her, she has switched bodies once in a means to save her life from the Gap -- her new body created by Toun-"
"Stop," Albe said, lifting a single hand. He took another sip of his mug, savoring it before slowly opening his mouth once again to speak, "I did not ask for what she did. I asked what you knew. You, the manifestation of a deity. Are you acting purely out of obligation, or have she or her creations wronged you?"
The knight's porcelain helmet had no eyes, nor slits to view through. Yet it had a way of staring without blinking. Majus waited for instant before Albe could regard his silence as an answer.
"No. Vengeance is not my duty, dwarf Albe. I act, for my father wills it. My obligation is to locate Lazarus."
"You and I both know there is more to this than duty. Rather, something more personal. A failure, perhaps? Tricks and lies deceived you?" Albe responded, pointedly asking his question as if he already knew the answer.
"Dwarves are created with the thought to seek vengeance upon their kind. I have no kind, and thus none upon which to seek vengeance."
The foam at the top of Majus' untouched mug fizzled down.
"I tire of these games," Albe finally said. "Let me remind you that you speak to a creation of the very personification of secrets. You will be hard-pressed to hide them from me. Not one mention of Cinead? Is it denial, or are you just dense enough to not know your audience?"
Majus' helmet tilted to Albe's left by exactly ten degrees. It straightened just as slowly. "My elements per volume mean little to one who asks for knowledge he already possesses. I demand knowledge I do not possess, as a creation of the very personification of perfection should do."
Albe slammed down his mug, suddenly, and loudly. His tired eyes narrowed and he said. "I have the information you seek, but I told you from the start you will have to play by my rules. For the supposed emotionless-"
"It is my understanding that you tired of games but a moment ago."
Albe responded in a low growl. "The only game in the room is the one you believe you are playing. The rules of which I wish for you to abide are by no means a game." He paused. "And I tire of secrets. Lazarus certainly has given me my fill of them. You will leave this place empty-handed if you continue to skirt my questions."
Albe then took his mug again, taking a large gulp. "I believe you insofar that you were given an order to find Lazarus. But you continue to try and avoid the original question. Why is it personal to you?"
The knight remained a looming statue. It calculated further.
"I will elaborate my unclear answer," it said. "I act, for my father wills it. If my father wills it, and I cannot act, I am nothing. Is this a satisfactory answer?"
"The continued presumption that you may hide your reasoning from me speaks more of you than you could ever explain to me," Albe responded, continuing as his voice seemed to growl once again. "It is a test. You have failed it miserably so far. I already know of Cinead -- you speak to Cinead's own brother. I have seen him in my dreams, as is the fate of all Legates, inexorably bound together as we are. I know what he did, and yet you continue to deny it. You continue to hide it, as if you can will away your failures and your grudges by denying they ever existed."
He took another chug of his drink, narrowing his eyes into naught but small slits. "Wake up, Majus. You are the emotional equivalent of a petulant child, and things do not go away because you pretend you never saw them."
"...I will elaborate my unclear answer, again, dwarf Albe," Majus calmly told. "I act, for my father wills it. If my father wills it, and I cannot act, I am nothing. I know this only for experiencing my father's will and my failure to act in turn. Such knowledge requires the failure you claim I deny."
"If you do not deny it, speak it openly!" Albe said heatedly. "Prove to me you understand what happened. Otherwise, I will not hold you here longer, nor will I entertain your questions. I will not tolerate vagaries if I am to lead you to Lazarus."
"My father's will was to see Minus returned to him. Minus is a servant of Toun. Minus' mind was corrupted by memories hidden within it. The corruption manifested in attached behavior to dwarf Cinead. I pursued them to the ruined rovaick settlement of Takordi. There, I defeated Cinead and his sibling Inga. Inga surrendered Minus. I took Minus back to Cornerstone. Father inspected the body and found its carapace empty. Father perceived Minus in the Valley of Peace, with the hidden knowledge now fully decrypted. With the knowledge revealed before Minus could be recovered, I failed." Majus reached his free hand forward and pressed a pointed finger upon Albe's mug before he could lift it again. "Is this a satisfactory answer?" it asked.
The mug did not budge no matter how Albe pulled on its handle. Huffing frustration, Albe took hold of the bottle he poured beer from and took a long swig. "Yes, that is satisfactory. Now, tell me, what reasons, exactly, do you search for Lazarus? If you wish for my help, you will need to accept the personal reasons as well as the orders."
"If I answer, you will answer me." It was not a question.
"One question. I will give you that much if I find your answer satisfactory." Albe said as he took another long swig.
Majus alighted his finger from the mug and returned his palm to his knee. "My first reason is my father willing Lazarus observed alive and safe. My second reason is to await Cinead's return, with Minus."
"Ask your question." Albe said simply, pouring more beer into his mug and placing the bottle back down. He was already two thirds of the way through the vessel.
"...Is this a satisfactory answer?"
"Yes, which is why I asked for your question."
Majus spaced out his words. "Where is your mistress?"
Albe paused before speaking. "Not here. You must remember Lazarus is the personification of secrets. They are excellent at not being found. Lucky for you, I know someone who has done their research."
"You will tell me of this someone."
"Unless you can provide something of value to me, this is all I will give; Search the dwarves in Alefpria. Your answer lies with them." Albe said, sipping at his mug.
Majus' helmet rotated to the right, where a mural of a map had been carved into relief on the wall. The broad end of the Ironheart ranges tapered towards the equator, where Alefpria lay.
"And what do you value that will trade for the name of the dwarf I need to find?" Majus asked.
"I'm sure you'll think of something," Albe mused as he took the mug once again, slurping from it loudly.
Majus' gaze snapped alarmingly fast back to Albe. The porcelain knight flicked his wrist and its pole hammer was suddenly hooked around Albe's chair. Albe and his seat were lurched forward over the table as the hammer haft shrank. He came to a violent halt barely arms-length from Majus' visor. His middle was in the cold grasp of Majus' gauntlet. Spilt beer ran down Albe's tunic.
"You value your life, dwarf Albe."
"A bold assumption," was all Albe said, as he tossed the empty mug aside.
The gauntlet squeezed all the same. Albe's lungs were empty within two seconds. His body was sturdy, but Majus' grip was unnatural.
"If I am incorrect, you shall not need your life to begin with."
Blood rushed to Albe's face. His ears pinned back as his unconscious mind screamed out to resist. His conscious mind did not. There was little point.
A rib cracked. The points of Majus' fingers broke his skin. He closed his eyes and embraced his coming death.
"Enough!" A different voice altogether dominated the room. Masculine, if quavering and impatient.
Was it Farxus, come to lead Albe's soul?
"Majus, release the dwarf," it complained.
Albe fell from the cold gauntlet and onto the table. He reflexively coughed and grasped at the lancing pain inflicted on his torso.
"I have a proposal for you, Albe. Do not waste my time," the voice said. When Albe's watering eyes cleared, he saw no sign of the voice's source. The only new addition to the room was a tiny white bird, perched on Majus' shoulder and with eyes burning blue. "It would take me but a moment to come before you and scour your mind of every secret you seek to so cleverly tease in your empty melancholy. A moment that I see hardly worth spending, especially with what occupies my moments without spare. Instead, consider that you might gain from this exchange. Before you is the mightiest warrior you are likely ever to have at your disposal. The power to make a change that you so cynically cannot reach yourself. Give it an objective you wish fulfilled as well as the answer to its question. This is your last chance. Take it or I will take you."
Albe coughed, looking up at the bird with fiery eyes. "The name is Baern..." He coughed again, spittle flying from his mouth. "All I ask is that when you find Lazarus, you kill that bitch."
The bird's head twitched to view the side of Majus' unmoving head. "Is that all?" The voice did not give Albe time to answer. "Well then...What a waste, indeed. Majus, you have your new objective."
The bird launched away, droning back into the palace halls. Majus rose to its feet and turned to walk away, leaving the pitiful lynx-legate behind.
Albe slowly stood up, unsteadily stumbling from the table and walking around to lean on his seat. He grabbed the bottle and downed the rest in a long, continuous draught, sliding back down against a leg of the table as he did.
Albe is sittin in his palace, when he realizes he has a visitor.
He pours this mouthless visitor a drink and tells them to sit down.
Majus walks in and sits down.
They argue back and forth a bit between the purpose of Majus' mission.
Then, Majus gets told there's a dwarf in Alefpria who's been dun lotta research.
> tell me the name > no > i kill u > okay > wait no stop im toun ill give you whatever to tell me the name > names baern, just kill lazarus for me
Majus and Toun leave and Albe drinks a lot. Poor guy can't get drunk.
In all seriousness I get it, though. I've also been feeling like I've spread my stuff too thin and have been dealing with the same characters for way too long. I still try to get out occasional posts, but at this point I feel inclined to suggest that we consider writing towards a conclusion for this Divinus so that it can have a proper ending as opposed to a slow death. Then we'd be able to start a new one, of course.
To be honest, I wouldn't mind a new Divinus, especially with the upgrades to the rules Termite and co made. I'd like to try some new ideas and all that.
A travelling fleet of resistance fighters whose enemies compose of, verbatim, "All those kingdoms and empires and shit." Hails from the days of the Orionic Empire. Officially, they want the establisment of a galactic republic. In practice, they generally just enflame malcontents wherever they currently are.
The only land the Alliance claims is bases scattered throughout the galaxy.
The alliance is lead by a council of liberated planets, each member serving a different role. Some are civilian leaders while others are military leaders. There is always at least one fleet admiral and at least one general. These council members are presided over by an elected speaker, whom claims loyalty to no one planet, instead loyal only to the fleet.
"Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the galaxy would do this, it would change the universe." - Agonis Sevras, on the eve of the battle that would prove his death.
The Alliance was formed late in the lifespan of the Orionic Empire, its founding members stating their intent to reform the hereditary, failing empire with a republic. Initially made of rebel cells scattered across the various planets of the empire, they eventually merged together into a force to be reckoned with. The Rebel Fleet was created out of this centralization of rebel assets, a massive armada of repurposed civilian frigates, outdated military cruisers, and old fighters. Bases were established across the galaxy, and the Alliance was truly born.
Using Free Association assets as well as their own, they proved to be a thorn in the side of the Empire. However, they were not the cause of the collapse, though they did wrest control from many imperial successor states, freeing many planets. Under this time they followed the leadership of what was described as the chosen one of the Alliance, a man named Agonis Sevras. Under his leadership, they peaked, at their highest point boasting resistance fleets across the galaxy. When he was killed in a massive battle against an imperial successor, the Alliance almost collapsed.
Though they won that battle, it came at a hefty price. Entire fleets were destroyed by the imperial successor state, and without strong leadership the surviving fleets scattered, all except one. Inviting in a council of liberated planets, they bolstered themselves and weathered the attacks. Though no longer at their peak, they remain a thorn in the side of many empires and kingdoms. For years upon years they travelled the galaxy, fighting injustice and fanning the fires of resistance wherever they went.
However, this fleet remains a bastion of hope for free-thinkers and rebel fighters who come across it. Despite its seemingly small stature, it maintains its bases across the stars and boasts an armada of ships that are not so easily beaten, albeit using mainly outdated military ships and repurposed civilian freighters.
There are two arms to the Alliance, the Fleet and the Army. The army is much more rarely used, as the alliance prefers strike squads and training the locals, but the fleet, especially the starfighter core, see plenty of work. The military's equipment is not standardized, and many different types of ships and weapons see use. However, there are a few general ship designs that see major use.
An ancient but still reliable workhorse, the CC-88 is a long-range fighter with surprising nimbleness, sturdiness, and weapon loadout. It has been a mainstay of the fleet for centuries, and it's easy to tell why. While too expensive for an empire to mass-produce, the ship is perfect for smaller-scale operations of resistance fighters. It can carry a variety of armaments, while maintaining a max speed and manueverability above that of most other starfighters.
The AV-324 is another workhorse of the Alliance Fleet, a simple multi-role gunship capable of carrying heavy armaments and transport troops. It seats two pilots and can carry seven people comfortably in the hold. It is also sturdy and capable enough for atmospheric entry. It is a relatively old design, not featuring many modern standards, and instead focuses on its reliability and capability over its technological edge.
Religion/Culture: There is no one set religion in the fleet, as they accept people from all walks of life. No census is held, either. There is no data on the religions of the fleet.
Demographics (Species): The fleet is made up of all kinds of species, and no census is ever held. They accept all species as long as they're willing to do their part.
Characters: Will get into this IC.
Relations: They have a terrible relationship with any non-democratic government. They are unofficially allies of the Free Association, and often trade people and supplies with them.
Habitation: There exists two types of habitable rebel assets, bases and ships. The ships are semi-nomadic, travelling the galaxy and resisting where they can. The bases are entirely fixed in place, and act as a beacon of stability for the ships to return to for supply and rearmament. Ships can vary anywhere from small three-person runabouts to massive thousand-man freighters. The bases vary similarly, some full fledged cities and some nothing more than landing pads for ships.