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TNES VI - The Mythopoeia

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by Thlayli, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,531
    Location:
    In the desert
    Hold up your left hand. It's something you've often done before, I'm sure. Look at the number of fingers. I believe that for most of you, there are five, yes?

    Each day that passes after today, put one finger down. Once you have no more fingers, you also have no more time.

    Good luuuck.
     
  2. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,531
    Location:
    In the desert
    Hello all. I have not received stories or orders from the vast majority of my players for a significant period of time.

    In particular, I need key contributions from the majority of the following players for the NES to continue: Seon, Terrance, thomas.berubeg, Lord_Iggy, Danwar, Shadowbound, ork, azale, inthesomeday.

    I am extending the deadline for two weeks, until June 4th, 2019. If I do not receive sufficient player input by that time, I will be writing a final epilogue update, making awards, and concluding the NES. If you would like the NES to continue, then please encourage your fellow players to contribute by that time.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  3. Shadowbound

    Shadowbound Scourge of God

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,954
    Hello, I will deliver some content by that date.
     
  4. inthesomeday

    inthesomeday Immortan

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,798
    Same. Sorry for the delay
     
  5. Terrance888

    Terrance888 Discord Reigns

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Messages:
    13,609
    Location:
    Homework Workshop
    A King laid down in his bed. Where others slept on straw, he slept on rope. Where others slept together, he slept alone, with his queen. Where others slept soundly, he found his nights another day, whether his eyes were open or not.

    He found this all very unnecessary, except that it somehow was.

    He is the Bright-eyed Atami, and last night he closed his eyes, and today he opened his eyes, and he did not dream.

    At first, he did not realize he has awoken to a new day. His eyes searched for the shadows, the rhymes, and yet found no wisp of a dream. His queen greeted him, and her voice arrived without portent, without echo. And so began his first day without the waking dream.

    He left her embrace and sought the familiar, walking through the gaps between the buildings where people walked, the ones she called “streets”, and the ones where they stood, the ones she called “squares.” Here was the sculptor, hiding his new masterpiece behind a canvas. Here was the weaver, attempting once more to master the tapestry. Here was the innkeeper, master of drinks and drunks. They greeted him with familiarity, and he looked back at them, their every tone refreshing. He smiled easily, greeting them, naming them, praising them. For this, at least, was easy to be King.

    And then it's to the market, where each showed off their make. He walked among them, praising their fruits and melons, their grains and greens. And each table held sights unseen, and despite himself he began wondering once more. What is the portent for the lack of portents? What is the cure for the lack of dreams?

    He had dreamed once, benign ones, in a half-forgotten village along a mostly-forgotten coast. He has dreamed twice, waking ones, once which drove him to avoid sleep, to avoid the strange echoes. And he has dreamed of the lines which showed the way and which revealed the steps.

    He did not dream, and he is awake once, once more.

    He returned home with a fine basket filled with gifts - small crafts and fresh foodstuffs - much of which he would gift in turn. Such is their way of Kingship, although she disapproved. He bit into a fruit as a hopeful chef spoke of their morning repast - the farms are doing better this year, he thought as he scowled at the bitter sourness, he didn’t have to spit it out this time. Instead, he smiled then frowned as a frightened face approached on a small stumbling body. His son, Taevic, followed swiftly by his wife and their nurse. The queen’s footsteps echoed on the floor as Taevic buried his face into Atami’s leg.

    At last does the King return to his home.
    Who amongst the streets delayed your step,
    Such that your poor son’s sobs overcame him
    Bid him to run past the nurse to seek thee
    For comfort or for secrecy, not I.
    Only your face did he sought for his tears.


    Taevic hid behind Atami’s leg, half in fear and half in expectation. He spoke, brokenly as Atami looked between them, confused.

    Blessed Mother I did not mean to uh, not respect
    The embrace of the nurse or yours as well.
    Truly, the words I heard in my heart sang
    For father’s ear alone, this… this fine morning.


    Maelis crossed her arms, a face a mixture of pride, anger, and concern.

    Boys shall be boys, men shall be men. Speak then,
    to father’s ears be afixed to his brick
    Of a skull. Say what which the heart of man
    Sought only the ear of man. Then return soon,
    For your lessons shall resume afternoon.


    Then she stormed out with the nurse as Atami patted the boy’s shoulder. “You can calm down now.” he said, guiding his son to a bench by a half-carved wall. “What is it which you sought out only me?” he asked. He smiled reassuringly. Maelis, although a loving and concerned mother, still held a seed of carnish anger and wit, a burning mixture for friend and woe. “She loves you, you know,” he comforted as he saw the boy’s concerned face look back at him. The boy’s eyes shone with thought, but yet he did not speak. Atami did not mind.

    Finally, Taevic spoke, “I know I’m… just not sure what to say. I only know I had to talk to you.” he said, a bit worried and perhaps, feeling a bit silly. “I felt it last night, we would be here and I would tell you something, and you’ll understand.” the boy looked down, smiling as if a weight is released now that he has spoken, “Do you want to listen to my dreams this time?

    But Atami was not listening. He was cold, his heart weak, for he knew whence his dreams had left. But he kept his smile, and rubbed his son’s back as Taevic shared his childish dream His smart, thoughtful son. Perhaps if he grew up with it it wouldn’t be too bad?

    [This story occurred during the previous update]
     
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  6. jackelgull

    jackelgull An aberration of nature

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2013
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    3,183
    Location:
    Within the realm of impossibility
    I’m really sorry I completely forget about this. I’ll be whipping something up real quick when I get the chance
     
  7. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
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    8,961
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    “Enough!” Alai strode towards the flame-wreathed figure, towards the Lion-man, grabbing him by the lapels. “Why are you here? You serve the flame, and the flame is no friend of ours.”

    “Because this is worth fighting for.” The man spoke softly, unexpectedly so, from his massive frame. “You are worth fighting for.”

    “How can I trust you? I’ve heard of you, T’namar, the Flame-Tongued hunter for the Flame. Jammie told me of you, and so have many travelers.” Alai sagged to the ground. “Oh, Gods. Jammie.”

    T’namar crouched down next to Alai’s hunched form, listening to the ragged breathing until he calmed.

    “It’s not safe here.” Alai said, looking into T’namar’s eyes. “Right?”

    “The black one will not rest against the insult of defeat, no. And the Mountain is and always will be jealous of any power not clad in her chains.”

    “What do I do? How do I protect them?” Alai’s gaze flowed over the battleground, the ashen corpses and fallen bodies, the small groups of survivors gathering over the wounded. “There’s too many enemies.”

    T’namar smiled, a sad smile. “There’s always too many enemies. You just have to do what you can. Do what you can, and hope it’s enough.”

    “Can you help me?”

    “That is why I am here, Alai.”

    Alai sighed, and took a deep breath. T’namar stood, and offered his hand to Alai who was still on the ground. Alai grasped it, and stood, too. And, at the moment Alai stood, t’namar tapped his staff into the ground. In a blinding flash, flame engulfed the pair, sinking into their skin. T’namar burned red, and Alai blue, and then they both burned with inner light. From where the butt of the staff had hit the ground, the stone cracked, and lines of white light raced outwards, an intricate lattice of light that grew over buildings, bodies, trees. Into the rivers and over the walls. Brighter and farther it raced, a circle of white.

    Brighter and brighter, spreading like a web over everything from Iphu outwards for miles and miles. It burned, blinding, engulfing Old Ara and it’s ruby walls and Proud Enti and it’s Wheat-Singers. It shone over the Undyn halls of the Mer-walls and over the brightly colored Town-ships of Eren.

    Brighter the lines burned, until they were almost blinding.

    The world stilled, held its breath.

    And then everything Vanished.
     
  8. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Joined:
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    24,542
    Location:
    Yukon
    It is said of the lineage of Haadulf that his children were just coming of age when he was murdered by the flame. One of many victims of their stubbornness. Of their blindness. Of their innate disdain for all that lived.

    Half of this lineage were the siblings of maternal moiety: Halogund, Halef, Golofar, Golofind, Osulan, Aarduras and Astadel. Let us tell tales of each of them.



    Of Halogund, many tales have already been spake. Well before his father's death, he had already come to wander independently among the forest children. So let me instead tell you of those younger ones who followed. He was thirty, and the eldest of his parents' children.

    Golofar and Golofind the Earthwatcher and Restorer. These two were to siblings as strangers to friends- so close as to often appear to be of one mind in two bodies: twins born across two pregnancies. Golofar was shorter than his elder brother, of a medium, sturdy build similar to that of his maternal grandfather, the erstwhile chief of the Mohabef. Golofar was an eager pupil of the spearman Gologind, his guardian and teacher in the arts of combat. In this manner too was Golofar energetic and aggressive, like his mother Halid. He delighted in the hunt, and in roaming and adventure. He was twenty two.

    Golofind grew much like her elder brother. She delighted in long wandering and relished her independence. She rebelled against the feminine crafts, traditions and teachings of her mother, instead preferring to keep the company of Mastin, who inducted her into the fletcher's art. As they reached adulthood, and as their teachers began to slow with age, it was these two who became the self-appointed guardians of the family, and the armed protectors of their father's lineage. She was twenty one.

    Osulan the Raingift was five years Golofind's junior, and much more like her father in temperament. She was a slender reed of a child and remained so as she matured. In her, Halid found a much better student, and to Osulan were imparted the lore and secrets of the Mohabef. Among the children of Halid's moiety, Osulan was the most spirit-touched. To her spoke a spirit of cloud and fog, of which she spoke little. She was sixteen.

    Aarduras the Worldbear was but a toddler when his father was taken, and he scarcely remembers the man, except as an inchoate figure of warmth and kindness. Aarduras was raised in part by his siblings, but influenced most by his mother. He was moody even as a child, which grew only more pronounced as he began to come of age. He underwent great swings of behaviour, being at one moment retiring and kind, then fly into hotheaded anger before sinking into melancholy and catatonia. Nonetheless, he was possessed of a good mind and keenly loved his family, and would often strive to be a voice of reason in the conflicts that broke out among his kin, even though this often met with failure. He was thirteen.

    Astadel the Eaglestar was the youngest of the children of Haadulf and Halid, and she did not know her father before he was taken. Haadulf's kindness was but a story for her, and for this fact she came to greatly envy her elder siblings, feeling that she had been somehow denied or lessened by this absence. Nonetheless, she idolized her elder siblings, learning both archery from Golofind and traditional crafts and potions from Halid and Osulan. She grew to be as bright and sharp as her name suggested, with still much time to grow. She was twelve.



    Now let us speak of the other half, the moiety of the father, Haadulf: Aardulf, Masti, Aarogund, Haadalid and Gennakan.



    Aardulf the Earthenwolf was the eldest surviving child of Haadulf's moiety, and he was six years Halogund's junior. He shared his father's love of plantlore, and is said to have awakened to the Wheel at a similarly early age. Such were the intensity of his visions that he frequently became disoriented between the world's of spirit and reality. He constantly explored and inquired, and this grew into an irrepressible restlessness as he came of age. Aardulf departed from his family, exploring cavern, forest, mountain and field. He gathered around him a loose and shifting group of friends, among whom he experienced the mind-altering wonders of certain plants and sowed his wild oats. He was twenty four.

    Masti the Treedaughter inherited the calm, friendly nature of her father, and also awoke to the spirits at a young age. While Aardulf was drawn to listen in on flowers and herbs, she was drawn to things far more ancient, the great boughs of the forests and the soft, overwhelming churn of fungi in the soil. She too learned much from her father, and came to learn enough to share some of her original learnings with him. She was a natural and instinctive healer, who only grew more adept at her craft as she in mind and stature. As she came of age, she traveled to the eastern cities, where she attempted to study in anonymity among the Green Priests. Her talent and identity were soon discovered in spite of her efforts of deception, and she came to be a highly-regarded figure, elevated and celebrated by those who she had initially hoped to learn from. She was twenty three.

    Aarogund the Worldbearer was a solemn child, and his name destined him to carry hefty burdens. He was quiet and observant, surrounded by a rowdy, talkative and full family with six elder siblings. He diligently followed his father's lessons and committed them to memory, and also studied the martial arts of spear and bow, growing the closest of all his siblings to his cross-brother and sister, Golofar and Golofind. The spirits came late to him, if at all- any visions he had were fitful and distressing. In truth, he doubted that the spirit spoke to him at all. He was nineteen.

    Haadalid, the Wise Teacher, was a precocious child with a fierce, frightening intelligence. She was quick to speak, quick to walk, and quick to outpace even her elder siblings in learning. She recalled great detail after only a single account, and seemed to maintain this knowledge without any great effort. She was unshy this talent, having more of her mother's brash confidence than her father's understated modesty. She did share, however, her father's fear for the death of their people's culture, and at his words, sought out surviving elders from the Circle Cities from whom she could gather the collected knowledge of their people before it was lost to the Past. She was seventeen.

    Gennakan, Soft Touch, was the youngest to bear Haadulf's moiety. She was quiet like Aarogund but even more so, speaking only when absolutely necessary. Some later scholars viewed her as Haadalid's counterpart and opposite, the dumb and slow-developing child beside the prodigy, but this author regards that as a shallow, unkind and inaccurate interpretation. Not only was Gennakan a girl possessed of a good mind, she also had a strong empathy and sense for the thoughts and feelings of others. Regardless of her capabilities, Gennakan was very close and loving to both of her elder sisters, Masti and Haadalid, and this feeling was warmly reciprocated. She was fourteen.
     
  9. ork75

    ork75 Chieftain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Imagine: the dew of the night rolls down the hills over the rice paddies, a cold, pure blanket to erase the suffering of the day. Broken corpses, black-painted faces, and ruin lie about on all sides. The dreamers still dream, but there are some of their number who had not yet opened their third, inner eye.

    A smith stands to the side, his hammer coated in blood. He hums. His aspect, like Alai, is dream, but it is not the dream of the Dreamers. He himself is a dream: a piece on a board, a flash of color like that comes with the rubbing of closed eyes, a pattern, a cycle, which governs all life. A chord in a song larger than the world, larger than the forests, larger than the future and the past. A song of the god who called him to destiny.

    But now that god is dying. The being of a long-fallen antler, the dust of a glamorous horn diffused through his very being, resonates with the knives and the fires and the calamity so far across the endless forests. Listen closely, and you can hear the smith scream. His sobs, wrenching, gripping, twisting and heaving, can be heard even by those who call him friend below in the town. He clutches a brooch in hands hardened by toil and stained by tears, and laments. The song is dying, burning, dead. Already there is silence.

    But the silver-steel, a spark fallen from the sky, glistens in his fingertips. It throbs, a steady beat of a faded tune. The Smith looks at it, a little closer now. It is a work more beautiful than the moonlight night itself, more vivid than the blood-red trees of fall. It is of the metal of the heavens, dowsed in the waters of dream, severe in its shape but wrapped with fine wire, worked in a way that only the hands of the hero of a god could attempt to achieve. And its point… Like a blade, a bright flame of steel, it calls to be sunk through a now-burnt cloak, or otherwise plunged through something.

    So the Smith plunges its subtle point through his ribcage. It shines in the moonlight as the blood runs over it, red and dark, down to the soil. He falls, forward, sinking in anguish and defeat.

    What else did you think would happen when you are a Chord in a song that ends?
     
  10. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

    Joined:
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    7,618
    Location:
    Not Lying through my teeth
    Will have something in a bit.
     
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  11. Shadowbound

    Shadowbound Scourge of God

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,954
    thing are Words mortal
    need structure Mortals strict
    am I mortal not

    meaning need Words?
    Meaning words doesn't need
    Meaning divine is

    for moment exist I
    moment is This enough
    last moment Not the
    real god False king


    came How here I?
    in accident An plan
    Deliberate mistake?

    of first many The
    many of last yet The
    The ends that line

    against the few am I one the
    the one We many against are
    the sea burn Cannot

    tell I now
    present future Past
    will understand You

    or die
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  12. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    8,961
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    The vastness of the past had remained untouched for as long as any could remember, not that there were many who were there to remember. Few gill-kin made their way out this far, and, if there were once men who lived upon it’s surface, or made homes deep under the surface, nothing of them remains. No merchants sailed the vast expanse, and only a few rocks held lonely vigil above the surface, a small colony of terns the only life.

    At least, that was the case, until a few seconds ago.

    The air thrummed with barely contained power. The clouds rolled ponderously, so heavy it seemed that all one had to do to touch their rain swollen bellies was to strain up on one’s toes to reach up. The storm was coming. It was not here, yet, but it was coming.

    All throughout the forest, which was still but a promise of a forest, the lightning-bugs were waking up, the smell on the air promising them a great feeding. They waited on rocks, on leaves, at the end of leafy fronds, carapaces rippling, like iridescent, luminous curtains shimmering across the forest floor, waiting for that first crash of lightning. And, with them, the thunder-birds, wingspans crackling and lungs full of song as they took wing in their mating dance.

    It was mid afternoon, but, under the storm clouds and the thick canopy, it was as dark as midnight.

    Already the rain had started. Bloated drops of water plummeted, exploding heavily against leaf and trunk and rock and dirt.

    Light flashed.

    The world took a breath.

    And then the thunder boomed, a rolling sound echoing from one end of the forest to another. As one, the lightning-bugs took to the sky, a great sheet of light rising up into the heavens.

    And the past was no longer empty.

    Gone were the lonely rocks. In their place was a vast expanse of land and a few confused terns, looking for their nests.

    The storm raged and beat against the land, an angry reaction to the change of the fabric of the world. Eventually, though, the tempest’s wrath was spent, and the sun began to show through again.

    In Iphu, the heart of the new island, the air was fresh, newly cleansed of the stench of battle that had hung in the air before the storm. Most of the signs of the battle were gone, the physical ones, at least. Ash and soot and blood had been washed into the star of lakes, and been refreshed, and the city glistened, belieing the pain beaneath, the loss inflicted by the twisted hordes of the Monolith.

    Alai and T’namar stood in the center of the city, on the shores of the lake. At their feet a circle extended, glass burned into the very ground, spiralling outwards from the staff planted firmly into the dirt.

    “This city will be safe,” T’namar said. “Safe, from the flame and the shadow.”

    “For now, at least. It’s time for us to grow, to heal.” Alai closed his eyes. “So much suffering.”

    T’namar gently placed his hand on Alai’s head. “This is a sanctuary, a place of healing. It is safe, time enough for the wounds to scar.”

    “Time enough to prepare, at least.”

    “Indeed.” T’namar nodded. “Now go, help those you love.”
     
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  13. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,531
    Location:
    In the desert
    Your offerings are fine. Almost sufficient, not quite. But you are approaching sufficiency.

    Do not forget to spend your points, dear friends. I will continue to accept stories for another few weeks, but the points must be spent before the fourth. Lest they tumble into the ground like freshly gathered berries from a fallen basket dropped by nerveless fingers.
     
  14. ork75

    ork75 Chieftain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Remember: a cold, plague-scarred town high on a rocky coast. It was once a town of riches, a town of commerce. Now the streets are run by rats, the crows pick at the organs of the unburied dead, and the sickly-sweet scent of rotting flesh mingles in a delicate dance with the salty hot tears of the survivors. For there are survivors, even in this gods-forsaken place. And, like the first sprouts which follow a blazing inferno, they grow, they green, they twist around in a quest for sunlight. And something resembling life returns.

    There was once, in this town, a Smith and his family. The family are now dead. The Smith is not. (He now sings as he works, lost in the mysteries of growth. Remember: these were once with the world.) But there are other survivors, besides…

    A man walks up a hill, to see a face. Once, it was the face which stood three heads over his sister. It smiled to him, smiled to the children. But those versed in the quiet details of people, who see the things which people they think they hide, knew that this face never saw the man nor even the children. It smiled, it sparkled, it bent and shone and flowed only in the direction of that little women, the mother of its children, the one to tend the garden, a safe, soft harbor in a storm-tossed life.

    That wife, mother, sister? She now rots under the dying garden. Her skull shows through, its flesh taken by worms and flies. Her only solace, perhaps, is that her children rot with her. Perhaps, as their lips turn to stench and dirt, they smile. After all, their teeth are all that show.

    The man who climbs the hill does not smile at this thought. His sister’s white teeth, bare to the earth that encloses them, are a thing of sadness. His parents, their parents, were long gone before the plague. He alone bears the mantle of the family memory now. So he goes to see the Smith, to remind himself of their names and their meanings. To greedily gulp of the Past.

    He walks through the doorway to find an unfamiliar man. The quiet soul, the happy one who worked at the forge in a blithe rhythm of sparks and pounded iron, hums an ominous melody as he idly paces. A bag of possessions, the small hoard of a traveller bound tight to the road and the quest of a dream’s fulfilment, lies loose upon the table of the home.

    The dead wife’s brother hangs at the doorway, caught on memory’s vicious snag. He asks, quietly, walking in, about the day. The only answer is the hum continued. The smith carries the tune to another low room, returning with some necessity for the table’s sack. Only then does he look to the eyes of the living reminder before him. A low greeting passes between the two men, but only one greets with his eyes. The Smith’s are elsewhere, adrift in the waves of a god’s call.

    The newcomer knows what the bag is, but refuses to believe. He sweetens little nothings to try to clear his palate. He asks of the weather, of the crumbs left by the plague’s greedy feast. The Smith is tight lipped, still dazed, and answers in brief if at all. Waves of hot crash on a shore of sharp monosyllables. All the while the bag grows fuller: a few clothes, the tools of a blacksmith, some grain and dried fish. A collection for travel.

    The newcomer is confused, pained, drawn further and further into despair. The Smith now brings water from the well, and sets his sights squarely on the hearth still burning. The forge, of course, is long cold and dark. This is too much for the brother to bear.

    “Why do you do this? What in the name of the gods has changed? I am a brother, your last link to this world! Would you abandon me so?”

    The Smith looms, a tower of a man, but stops. Water splashes on the kitchen floor. His humming stops, and for a moment there is silence.

    “I have no choice in this. I am a man, not a god.”

    His voice booms in the small room. He seems to grow a head taller. The brother nearly staggers, but in longing stands firm.

    “Even such a man is not forced to forget.”

    The Smith, too, is unmoved.

    “What could you possibly know of these things?”

    He surges, implacable. The water hisses on the coals of the hearth, and he sets the bucket beside. The brother’s force wanes. He relents, injured at what he has provoked, and consigns himself to defeat. The Smith takes his pack in hand, and walks for the door. As he leaves, he speaks, low, over the drumbeats of his boots on the floorboards.

    “This was her place, you know. Now it is yours.”

    And with that he leaves.

    The path to the harbor is long and winding. But the salt wind which tosses the smith’s hair is the same which twists the red-striped pennants of the waiting ships. It carries the scents of foreign lands, the dust of the whole world over. And its whine is a fine harmony to his basso hum. Blades of future promise rend the clouds of loss asunder. He is no longer a man, but a servant of god.

    And this god, for now, is one skilled in the ways of chance and necessity. A ship, there in the harbor, waits to cast off for the far east. The captain knows that it lacks but one passenger before its prow points to distant Iphu. He does not know he knows, of course, but such is the way that cycle gods craft their works.

    It is only as his boots find the planks of the pier that the panting brother catches him. He calls out, now desperate.

    “Did you not love her? Us?”

    The Smith walks onwards, a man enraptured.

    “There is no one left!”

    Still only footsteps.

    “Why would you forget her!”

    The footsteps slow, but only for the nearing gangplank. The brother lashes out, in the last way he can: he dashes in front of the Smith, slowing him just long enough to add a small weight to the traveler’s pack. It is a memory made real, a thing unburied. The woman, the wife, the corpse in the hill… it once hung around her neck. The brother stands aside, now, satisfied.

    “For me, for my sake… Never go without that.”

    The Smith begins to climb aboard. The crew, oblivious, continue with their tasks.

    “You were to her as she was to you, and don’t forget that.”

    The Smith is now aboard, but turns to face the brother ashore. The little man shouts again.

    “If you’re going… If you’re going I’ll wait.”

    The Smith is only a few feet away, and his response is low and clear.

    “I am a servant, not a man.”

    His eyes are steady as he speaks these words. But, for a moment, they break from their gaze to the horizon. Shaking, they alight on the brother. A blink. A single tear. But then, again seized by a power beyond, they center. The Smith turns, and leaves the rail.

    It is only later, crammed in the depths of the hold between a barrel of ale and a stack of timber, that he thinks about the pain of departure. He realizes two things. First, he is not entirely consumed by the god’s song. But, second, that perhaps he is by his own. The dirge, dedicated to ages past and faces lost to earth and ash, sings free and clear in the ship’s belly. The sails fill, and the land shrinks. A Chord sounds, driven by the terrible dream of a man untied, and it rings out for Iphu.
     
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  15. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

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    Jan 20, 2009
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    7,618
    Location:
    Not Lying through my teeth
    of blood and ants

    They come in hundreds. Then, thousands.

    The garden is a dream of Emanon. The garden used to exist long before he shattered. Both his past and the garden was not entirely his own.

    He used to be the god of lines and gardens. People raised stone pillars and walled gardens in his name. He clawed out the weeds with sharp implements. Pruned the trees with knives. Gardening is an act of controlled destruction. In his garden palace, Emanon built great paths between the stones and trees. Carved waterways from springs between his fruit trees and the arena for ants.

    But the ants never stayed in his arena. They constantly managed to penetrate his lines of defense and strayed into his roads. No amount of punitive de-limbing of ants succeeded in preventing their spread. He planned many wars against them. Created his lines of battle. Spilled blood of countless ants in his garden against their determined advance. None of it ever worked to fully stop them.

    The Doormaker is the mother of ants. Emanon dislikes her now, although he tolerated her presence then.

    ...........................................................................................

    Emanon stands in the garden--now overgrown from apathy. His blade and gardening knives shattered long ago. The ants still crawl beneath his feet. The wild pollen tickles at his nose. She is here.

    The Doormaker speaks--her voice is fresh as leaves and old as ants. She does not show herself. "My friend, I am here."

    "Speak to me now--" Emanon says in a stolen voice. "Why should I let you live? Why hide yourself into my garden?" His voice cracks across the trees.

    "For I bring you words," the Doormaker speaks. "A promise of a great offering by a mortal man."

    Emanon dismisses her. "If that is all, then you must die. Many mortal man have promised me great things."

    "For it is something that will dwarf all your possessions."

    "I have been promised blood," Emanon whispers. "I have been promised stones. I have been promised water, and I have been promised dreams and faiths and prayers. I have been granted angels, and my host grows every day. What more could a mortal promise me? How can he alone offer me something greater than walls, cliffs, and the spilled blood of countless men?"

    "This is the bargain," she says, rising from the ground in a cloud of ants at war. She peels off the skin of her left arm, creating a sacrament of dying ants. "Read it, and judge for yourself."

    Emanon stands silent. "This is an impossible promise," he declares.

    "But a promise nonetheless," Doormaker says. Emanon hisses in response.

    "And we are promised so much. So, so very much."

    "What word shall I deliver back to the mortal?" The Doormaker asks. Emanon glares.

    "Yes."
     
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  16. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    8,961
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    The first day.


    Of all the people who were taken to the new lands of Ibimo the refuge, the Barrow-men of Barrowdun were perhaps the most shocked. What had once been high rising mountains flowing into even higher mountains were now simply high-rising mountains plummeting into the ocean. The mountain streams of their homes, fat and redolent with with storm-water, roared over sheer cliffs into the salt-heavy waters below.


    Blinking, the barrow-men emerged into the bright sun, chattering to each other, in wonder an in fear. They looked in askance to the wise-ones, the elders of their nation. They stood together, bent backs and grey beards and sagging breasts looking down at the water ocean distantly below. Nothing in their accumulated wisdoms, either for the deadlore-keepers or the wise healing-women had prepared them for this.


    In fear, they hurried back inside, hobbling at great speed through the surface tunnels, and down, down, down the dark spiral at the heart of the Barrowdun. Past the statues that lined the deepening, statues of strong Barrow-men and wise Barrow-women, handsome and tall, past statues of the first children of the Barrow-men, emerging from the womb that was the deep. Past statues that looked more and more off. Limbs slightly too long, slightly too gangly. Eyes just a touch too big, or too many of them, carved of a luminous black stone. Robes that hung from the body in odd angles and odd places. Past the glowing mushroom farms and the skittering light blue aphids that made the Barrow-honey. Down, past the skeletal womb-temples where the first Barrow-men had been born, shielded from the ancient rain of fire by the clasped hands of a slain god. Their god, in many ways,. Down, they went, until they stood in the great chamber at it’s base. The crystal ribs of the long rotten god rose into the darkness, pillars softly glowing with light blue light. Ants crawling in the giant’s corpse, the elders poked and prodded at the glowing whorls and spirals adorning the ancient bones. Though they spent many hours peering at a particularly complex pattern at the base of the seven-eyed skull, it’s hollow brain-pan large enough for all fifty of them together comfortably, eventually they had to move on.


    There was nothing. The ancient wisdoms that had led the Barrow-men into the present gave no insight into the future, or the past.


    And so, emerging from the depths again, and shooting another fearful look at the sea, and the steam that was boiling up from where the cliffs met the water, they decided to send a delegation to Iphu, for it was the accepted truth in those times that anything strange in those regions could be traced to the city of the dreamers. Besides, many of the Barrow-men had kin in that city, for they had once slept, and some of their number had awoken and made the pilgrimage.


    Day 5


    The brightly colored Town-ships of the Eren sailed down the coast like so many brightly colored birds. They floated heavily on the water, sails flapping brightly and trimaran hulls cutting through the surf. Painted eyes peered forward and painted feathers and scales of red and blue and green and yellow danced together, smaller vessels darting inbetween and around larger longhouseboats.


    The Eren were a tall people, proud and copper-skinned. They tattooed their skin in the same manner as they decorated their boats, in patterns of bright color, no two alike. It was said that nothing could dim the spirit of the Eren, mute their songs or stifle their laughs.


    These Eren moved about with caution. Fear coated their faces and their eyes darted about, looking for enemies that would not come.


    For five days they had been sailing past an unnatural coastline. For five days the Augurs and oracles and sea-singers had been consulting the signs. For five days, the Eren had mourned those lost, those left behind. For every Eren had been touched, as a full three quarters of their fleet had not been coated in light, had not been taken.


    Even the ship-gods who lived aboard, little creatures with rat-heads and skittering spiders of rope and fish-eyed monkeys and dancing canvas sprites and a thousand other shapes, were anxious, feeling the moods of the Eren. Iphu, they whispered. The Dreamers would have answers, yes yes yes.


    At last, though, the Pearled walls of Iphu were in sight. Smoke drifted gently from it’s roof, though no ships were berthed in the Harbor. Armored figures patrolled the top of the walls, a far cry from the last time the Town-ships had berthed, leaving one of their own who had awakened behind to learn from the wisdom there. The last time, some of the rowdier warrior-youths of the Eren had boasted loudly in the tavern that they could take Iphu for all she was worth with but an unarmed raiding party.


    The locals had laughed at them, and a sea-singer had pinched the ears of the youths, chastising them for insulting their hosts.


    Not so, now. These were men and women scared by battle.


    As they roped up against the pearled-docks of Iphu, a party of Captains and Sea-Singers climbed the hill upon which the Lake of Stars waited, a hill which had almost certainly not been there the last time. As they climbed, they were joined by black robbed Barrow-men and red-jacketted Arans.
     
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  17. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,112
    Divination and Retrospection

    -

    The forest pool rippled as the leaves of ancient trees rustled overhead to an eastern wind sent hither by a distant star, as Halogund sat by its tranquil shore. His eyes were shut, closed to the material but awake to those things of the spirit world hidden from mortal eyes. Upon his head was wrought a crown of leaves, for he is kinsman to the King and princes wear crowns so the king proclaims, and upon his shoulder sat a sparrow, or perhaps a robin, its song breaking the silence with the unutterable and mysterious music of birds.

    "The sixfold tower trembles in the western wind, the stone boundary has remembered that it is water"

    It sings. Not in words a mundane listener would comprehend, but in thoughts and images, perhaps feelings. Sometimes the birds song was difficult to decipher but at times it sang clearer and sharper than any mortal.

    "The wheel-turner sleeps in a stone womb amidst the bones of the moonless night awaiting the coming of day"

    it sings again

    "Thy fathers seedlings sleep beneath the ash fallen upon the slopes of the Land, to be watered by the blood of ash-makers and the songs of trees"

    Halogund whispered in reply to its tumbling verses

    "Sing little bird to the seedlings that they might tarry still, until the time is right. Let them not rise up too quickly lest they be scorched by the noon-day fire and find no nourishment in hard-baked earth"

    The eldest of the prophets mind wandered as he listened to the heralds words, brought from afar by its mysterious brethren. He pondered that it had been a long time since he had seen many of his siblings or heard their voices. He smiled fondly at the thought of little Masti, to whom the forest murmured and to whom the green priests bowed in their neatly ordered gardens. He saw his siblings on occasion, when he visited the circle cities. He even saw his nephews once, offspring of his dreaming cross-brother Aardulf. Children hmm? Perhaps he should get married soon, he thought of a certain priestess who often spoke to him in his visits to Aarmohab and of whom he was fond, then again fate was rarely so kind.

    "The ocean of wisdom rises to the sky upon the waking dream of a blazing star, coming to abide upon the endless deeps of the Unremembered Past"

    What was it to be wise?

    To think thoughts of heaven, or to understand the truths of earth. Perhaps to know and remember that which was and that which will come again. Perhaps only to understand that no one no matter how great is all-knowing and all wise, and that all things in their appointed time are fated to flounder in the waters of oblivion.

    "Life returns"

    The bird sang an unusually clear line? Perhaps it sang of the sunrise for the new day was near at hand, or perhaps the coming of spring for it was nearing winters end. Such double meanings oft littered the speech of birds. So too were they fond of the small things, like seed-bearing grass and the joy of the flowers. Perhaps however it spoke of something lost in the depths of the Past that has returned to the near shore like flotsam upon the endless beach of time.

    "How goes the Circle little one?"

    Halogund inquired.

    "Ships sail upon the sea of memory, and bring tidings across the Past unto the far shore of the present bearing with them blessings and curses."

    He prayed that the memory of Gahad-that-was and the moieties of the Circle would not perish. For their ways were peaceful and harmonious, a light in a world that grows dark. Although perhaps he was biased as a child of the Mohabef and a dutiful son to the Prophet.

    "Moon-stone sings of earth-stone and sundered bone, shuddering at the unknown alone aloft amidst the boughs of Amno."

    Dread Amno, a dark counterpart in some ways to the Court of Summer perhaps, its dank and murky halls filled with silence and the occasional gibbering zem being at utter odds to the bright and lofty nests of the Aerenath hidden in the crowns of great trees and the illuminated halls of their lordly chiefs, hidden beneath the roots of the forest and filled with music, laughter, tinkling water and the light of fireflies and spirits. Their denizens served by children who never grew old and attended by the numinous hosts of forest spirits. His time in his cross-brother Aeladans realm had allowed Halogund to understand one thing. One never could tell when one crossed the threshold of the mortal world to find oneself cast away in the domain of the gods entirely unaware of the passage that bore one hence.

    He opened his eyes as the sun rose. There was much to hear and much to do, time raced to an inevitable event and gods and mortal played each according to the passage of the season their appointed parts in the drama that mortal men call history. As he rose and prepared to attend to his many errands, thrust upon him by an insistent necessity, the little bird alighted into the air and sang a final line for that evenings divination.

    "Halogund awakes, and the sun rises"
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
  18. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,531
    Location:
    In the desert
    Hectoring alter ego aside, I'm very grateful to those of you who have stepped up and written stories over the past week. This NES has had consistently excellent writing from so many of you, and I'm both proud and impressed. Please be reminded that you must spend your points in PMed orders no later than the 4th.

    Iggy, the progeny of Haadulf may have 5 points of magic and/or civilization to distribute amongst themselves however they see fit.

    You may all continue to write stories (and some of you need to) over the next few weeks. I will be giving specific reminders to certain players in a few days from whom I need orders and/or stories.

    I hope that by the end of June, weather permitting, you will taste and see the goodness of Update 4 - The Inheritance of Strife.
     
  19. jackelgull

    jackelgull An aberration of nature

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2013
    Messages:
    3,183
    Location:
    Within the realm of impossibility
    After Colcoleztl vanquished the Kraken he swam North, always North finding further remnants of the Past, ancient things once of immense size and power now naught but snacks. He knows all sorts of things now - war and conquest and power and faith. It is not so much that he is run by these things as it is that they have penetrated his alien consciousness that the continuous worship of the Xtri have managed to accomplish an almost miracle - turned a feral wild creature into a proper deity. He is no longer Colcoletzl sea dragon he is Colcoletzl god of the Xtri and Lord of the Sea.

    Now he looks for a mate to share his new joys. He will not find one in the depths of the sea but rather on land. Her name is Azteca, the high priestess of the Xtri a woman as beautiful as the emerald scales of the jeweled adder and just as deadly, or so the stories say. She was a sorceress, a mortal whose power trespassed on the realm of the divine and it is because of this she registered as a flash in the periphery of Colcoletzl’s vast consciousness and so he came to her and gifted unto her his child. His mother named him Coatl and he was born as a boy with with two hearts - the heart of a serpent of the sea and that of a human in land and his dual nature would cause him and those around him much grief. He grew to be a man that could change between the form of a sea serpent and human and his battle prowess could lay armies to waste.

    3 magic points to create Coatl, hero of the Xtri, a shape changer who becomes a sea serpent when in the ocean. As a human his physical prowess is mighty and he is blessed with all manners of protections from his mother’s sorcery.


    When he came of age the elders of the Xtri pledged their allegiance to Coatl for he was the child of their god and he decreed that the Xtri build a great fleet to seek solace in the domain of his father in times in trouble and so the fishing village of Azcapotzalco was built into great dock and the Xtri sailed the Southern seas to lands unknown to the Empire. And the seamen prospered under their king who gained his father’s instinct for the currents and ability to control the mood of the sea, providing good weather for voyages and ensuring fisherman made bountiful catches.


    Xtri spend 3 civilization points to build a great fleet and explore the South
     
  20. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,531
    Location:
    In the desert
    I absolutely require orders from most of the following players, ASAP:

    Terrance
    Lord_Iggy
    Danwar
    azale
    ork
    Seon

    PM me as soon as you are able. As previously mentioned, you have several more weeks to write your stories, but I need your point spending and intended actions so that I can begin writing the update.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
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