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The Tale of Citar

Discussion in 'Fall from Heaven Lore' started by Jecado, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Jecado

    Jecado Chieftain

    Jun 15, 2011
    Hello, everyone. I just started a game as the Calabim (which I've never been terribly successful with), on a huge ErebusContinent (crazy? just wait), with nineteen civs (ha ha ha ha ha). It's also my first time with Tholal's More Naval AI, and I also decided to try out the "Flexible Difficulty" option, starting on noble (which somehow ended up on immortal...). Long story short, I pretty much lost. But I managed to slip a few of my units out into the wide world before I lost my last city to a hode of pyre zombies, and I was struck with inspiration at their epic tale. So I decided to try my hand at writing it down.

    I just finished the first chapter, which doesn't actually reflect any gameplay just yet, and decided I might as well post it here in case anybody feels compelled to read it all. Feel free to comment!

    Spoiler :
    The world was on fire.
    Citar awoke from his nightmare, only to hear the screams of his neighbors as their shabby straw huts collapsed in on themselves. The straw burned easily, and barely held itself up even without flames licking up every strand as a horse would its oats. Citar didn’t know how the fire started. Even a simple cooking fire could easily devour a house if unattended, and then it could leap to nearby buildings if the wind was strong, as it often was so near to the coast. But such a fire was easy to stop, and if that wasn’t an option, easy to flee from. It didn’t explain the screams.
    Citar snuck out of his own hut, proudly erected by the village just a few months ago on the sixteenth anniversary of his birth, his ascendancy into manhood. He had installed his own back “door” – just a flap of woven grass that could be pushed up like any other door, but disguised by a layer of straw on both sides, so only Citar would know about it. His mind was still in a panic from his nightmare, and the screams, which were likely nothing more than the cries of despair at losing one’s home, seemed to Citar to be wails of agony born by unspeakable pain.
    Citar turned quietly towards the village center, the source of most of the screams. It was difficult to make out more than silhouettes in the flickering light of the burning homes, but he thought he saw a crowd of people being choraled by larger figures all around, which seemed to glow with an eerie light.
    Citar was about to go investigate when he saw a lone silhouette in smoothly flowing robes approach the hut across from his. Just a s the figure arrived, the thatch door popped open. Citar could see the broad shoulders of Aaron, the resident. A year and a half older than Citar, Aaron was one of the strongest and brightest men in the village. There was no doubt he would go on to join the Sheiam army, and he himself had high hopes for a high-ranking position, likely in a city garrison. Aaron had told Citar once that the officers in the main army were all powerful mages, commanding not only the human troops, but also the fighting skeletons they themselves had raised from their graves.
    Aaron’s broad shoulders scrambled out of the doorway, but stopped abruptly when they came face to face with the robed figure.
    “Tebryn – ”
    Citar was just close enough to hear Aaron’s deep but shocked voice. Citar was just close enough to see the robed figure’s right hand rise. An orange glow illuminated the deep purple sleeve and the pale, ashen skin. The glow seemed to ease forward achingly slowly, but when it left the ashen fingertips, Citar could see by the light that Aaron’s mouth had yet to form the second word.
    Before he could, Aaron’s eyes opened wide, and an instant later Citar shut his, as the entire hut erupted into a blinding fireball. Citar was just far enough that the concussion blast didn’t knock him from his feet. Opening his eyes, Citar saw that in Aaron’s hut’s place there was nothing but smoke and ash. The robed figure stood where the door once was, unmoved. At his feet lay a freshly seared corpse.
    Citar turned and ran as fast as he could. The only thing he could think of was putting as much distance between himself and the village center, and more distance between himself and whatever it was that killed Aaron.
    Citar had never run so fast before. He was not terribly strong, and while relatively intelligent for his age, his life didn’t seem likely to rise above the work of a simple fisherman. Now even that seemed unlikely.
    The shout came from Citar’s right. He slowed enough to see another, smaller crowd. He could tell they were gathered, not choraled.
    “Citar, come here! Quickly!” The shouting came from Elder Rasim, who lived in a small hut well-removed from the village proper. As Citar obeyed, he also noticed his uncle Ishan and his two young children, though he couldn’t find his aunt Siri. Swallowing a lump in his throat, Citar realized that made sense: Siri served as an herbalist and healer in the village center at night – just next door to Citar’s parents’ hut.
    The villagers were apparently in the midst of deciding what to do now. Elder Rasim waited until Citar reached the small circle of villagers, then spoke.
    “As you have no doubt realized, the Sheiam have betrayed their promise of protection: Their army runs rampant, unchecked, slaughtering our families. We must – ”
    “Tebryn.” Citar blurted out. Elder Rasim faced him directly. “Tebryn Arbandi.”
    “What about him?” Elder Rasim asked, puzzled.
    “That’s who’s leading these forces…that’s who’s…” Citar was babbling, incapable of controlling himself.
    “How would you know that?” Elder Rasim demanded. He seemed tired. Small wonder.
    “Tebryn means to destroy the world. I had a dream – He must have decided to start with this village!” After the words came out, Citar realized that Tebryn Arbandi had indeed been cast in the nightmare he had awoken from only minutes ago.
    The wrinkles of age and responsibility were clear on Elder Rasim’s face now. “Tebryn Arbandi has sought the destruction of creation for far longer than your lifetime, boy. Our lives here were in his service, in exchange for our lives until the end of all things. He would not – ”
    “I saw him!” The crowd had started whispering amongst themselves at the terrifying revelation Elder Rasim had just spoken, at the horrifying nature of the lord they had served. Now, though, every eye was on Citar.
    “You saw him?” Elder Rasim asked. Citar, still wondering why he would say such a thing, nodded. “How would you know what he looked like?” Elder Rasim finished, and when Citar did not immediately respond, smiled sadly and shook his head at the poor boy’s delusions.
    Citar’s thoughts suddenly tumbled into place from whatever vault they had been locked in. The reality of the night flooded into him. The village was gone. His aunt and his parents were most certainly dead. His own friend and neighbor had died before his eyes. Aaron was a corpse, lying at the feet of… of Tebryn Arbandi.
    “Aaron is dead.” All turned to face him again.
    “His hut exploded, and he died in the fireball. I nearly did myself. You must have seen it from here.” Several murmurs and nods confirmed Citar’s conjecture. “Before he died, Aaron named his killer. The sorcerer who destroyed his home. Tebryn.”
    Aaron had such promise. He would not have remained in the village much longer. He would have known a great deal of the world, especially of the Sheiam empire in which they lived. He would even know the face of its ruler.
    “Tebryn Arbandi.”
    Elder Rasim stood stunned, as everyone else. For so many years, Tebryn had honored the agreement a young Rasim had made with him. Why cast it aside now. Rasim never had a doubt that the sorcerer would not hesitate to destroy the village given the slightest provocation, but what reason could there have been?
    It was hardly relevant now.
    Elder Rasim spoke quickly, but intensely, so all could hear. “Then we must flee.” The crowd broke out into urgent whispering. Where would they go? How would they escape? Who would they leave behind? Elder Rasim raised his hand and the crowd quieted.
    “The Calabim to the south have long been at war with the Sheiam. Surely they would welcome us as refugees, if for nothing else than to spite the enemies they so despise.”
    Ishan spoke up. “Is that wise, Elder? I’ve heard stories – ”
    “I know the stories.” Elder Rasim cut him off. “But we have no choice. No other lands would be willing to harbor Sheiam citizens. No other lands are close enough to flee to. We must go south. And we must go at once.”
    Someone else shouted something, now. Citar couldn’t hear what. Soon gasps and screams alike were filling his ears with sound, and his mind with fear. He turned around and backed toward the elder. Finally, he saw it, on the opposite side of the crowd, near where his uncle was.
    It was one of the large figures from the village center, glowing with an eerie light. Closer now, Citar could see that the figure was a desiccated corpse, and the light was an unholy flame, which burned but did not consume every inch of the creature’s exposed flesh. “Run. Run now.” Nobody heeded Elder Rasim’s hoarse whisper.
    The gaunt figure carried a gleaming bronze axe, which sparkled in the firelight like the sun. Ishan, the closest villager, lifted his woodcutter’s axe lying by his side. He raised it above his head and let out a savage war cry. “Siri” – Citar realized – was what Ishan had shouted.
    “No, Ishan, don’t – ” Elder Rasim cried out, but it was too late.
    With one stroke, Ishan cleaved the corpse’s head from its shoulders. The eerie glow was within the flesh, too, and gouts of flame erupted from the newly opened cavity. This fire was paler, sicker-looking, than any other Citar had seen, and it seemed to ignite the very air around it.
    An explosion, as bright as the one that had killed Aaron, lit the dark night as though it were day. Ishan was thrown back, torn limb from limb, as were those closest to him. Citar had no time to think, but he instinctively knew the explosion would be visible from every place in the village. Tebryn Arbandi would know they were here.
    Elder Rasim cried out to his people. “Run! Everybody run! Run south! Try to stay together, but everybody run!”
    This time they obeyed.
  2. Jecado

    Jecado Chieftain

    Jun 15, 2011
    Almost forgot the disclaimer - "This tale does not attempt to reflect canonical events in the Age of Rebirth, but does make an effort to be more or less consistent with them, so if something doesn't mesh, let me know and I'll see if I can tweak things. Thanks!"

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