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TNES VI - The Mythopoeia

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

  1. Shadowbound

    Shadowbound Scourge of God

    Mar 4, 2007
    TANCUYIX: I am undone, a fate deferred come due,
    as consequence of that dark day
    in which I slew my brother's son, and he mine.

    Here we met, this ancient grove of past kings
    to contest the kingship of kings again.
    Under the half moon we have bloody fought
    and in my blood I see what was unknown.

    Another brother's son, Morvan named,
    who, long known to me but always hidden,
    has now brought me to grim desolation.

    I am a king, a seer, and a wise man
    but I am no great and fearsome warrior.
    Champions I have had for battle,
    but now I am set against my Champ'on.
    I need not foresight to see this result.

    Oh Foresight! You failed to see the viper
    in my court, waiting for the prime moment
    to strike against my long and most just reign.

    He took my silver rings and gave great gifts
    in homage to my generosity.
    Yet, all the while, he turned the great houses
    against me so that today none would stand
    with the House of Tancuy 'gainst this upstart.

    MORVAN: Words, words, words, many of little value.
    I give you this time because, to a man,
    no time is more valuable than his last.
    You wear my crown, you sit on my throne, and
    command the ships that are mine by birthright.
    As they were my late great father's before me.

    TANCUYIX: Yours? His? I have as much proud claim to them.
    Who stood by brother's side when they were won?
    Who guided his raiders on moonless nights,
    who counselled him away from rash folly?

    MORVAN: Enough! Your are done, your claim ends now with you.

    TANCUYIX: Ha! At last! Such is the doom of our house.
    And all the sons of Briac: ruin and
    destruction at the hands of our blood kin.
    So it has been, so I have long witnessed,
    and so I now I prophesize to you.

    Long you hid under the name Mathilin.
    Protected from me by my past kin-strife,
    as I was blind to you, like how I made
    my dear brother blind for opposing me.

    But now you are Morvan, and now, sharing
    our life's blood across our many wounds,
    you rejoin our House and our grim demise.

    The House of Briac is its own dark Doom.
    Never forget: kin-strife runs fast in our blood,
    and in kin-strife our blood shall be last spilled.
    No foreign foe, no dark god, no fell beast,
    shall rival us for our own destruction.

    MORVAN: Witch! Sorcerer! What vile man pronounces doom,
    dying, upon his own house, his own line?
    You die without dignity, still clinging to
    your title and your spite. I deny you!

    Your prophecy is broken and undone.
    Your life I give you, but your crown I take.
    Depart from the Carnish Sea with great haste,
    never return to the lands you once ruled,
    this sad bargain I offer now to you.

    TANCUYIX: As I love my long life, even deposed,
    I shall take it. But my words still ring true.
    I make no prophecy that did not exist.

    MORVAN: Go! Begone! Find few loyal retainers
    to treat your wounds and ferry you beyond
    my ruled oceans and governed stone keeps.
    Before I rethink my merciful wisdom.


    MORVANIX: And now I am finished. Avenged? Triumphed.
    Complete? Far from it. My work has just begun.

    Spoiler :
    A prophecy has been made, but not fulfilled.

    A beginning ends.

    Hear now: exiled king seeking a good home.
    To any potentate who will take him.
    House trained and far sighted, bad with children.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
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  2. Terrance888

    Terrance888 Discord Reigns

    Jul 22, 2007
    Workwork Workshop


    Alai and T’namar watch over Jammie anxiously as she groaned feverishly. Suddenly, her eyes flashed open, and turned to look at a corner of the room. “It’s watching. It’s here!” she said, eyes glaring before she passed out from the strain.

    Alai whirled about, protective, concentrating. “Who is it?” he called, “Show yourself!?” now that she mentioned it, he too sensed the presence.

    T’namar places a hand on Alai’s shoulder. “Calm” said the half-marid, “It means us no harm.”

    Alai relaxes slightly, asking, “Is it a god?”

    T’namar is silent for several moments, his hand tightening on Alai’s shoulders before relaxing, before responding, “It is now.”

    Zemmi and Naioune alike cower as Shadur screamed again. But this time it was not for Ibba’s failure at Iphu, but a realization.

    A realization that Shadur is being watched. But worse, that Shadur was being watched for quite a while. During the most intimate moments with its children! Shadur screamed in rage and demanded action.

    They scrambled about like ants, chanting and crafting, before another scream pierced the mists. Shadur would smile, if it could. It wasn’t sure what it did, but the cry of pain pleased him immensely.

    Maithlin and Maelis looked at each other worried, then back at Taevic, whose eyes glittered with the light of stars. Maithlin’s grip on his sword tightened as the boy spoke of an unseen guest.

    “I saw this, I saw this moment, mother,
    In a dream from the very stars themselves.
    I saw it, there, I see you, here. Behold!
    We shall give you your first name...”

    Maithlin’s edge flashed, and a scream that was felt more than heard echoed throughout the fleet. The world.

    Afrakt Ghul laid upon the heart of the Mountain. Deep beneath the surface, where no other eyes could reach, there he spends several eternities every moment, with her.

    This is new, said the Mountain, amused. It seems we have a visitor.

    Fire opened one eye, the very rock weeping under his gaze. “Shall I apprehend it?” he asked, rising on one elbow.

    No, not yet, said the Mountain, It does not realize its own existence. The Mountain rumbled, in amusement… in laughter?

    Fire spread, seeking the intruder, to identify it, to locate it, at least.

    Enough, you may dispose of it. Said the Mountain.

    Then came the scream of birth and apotheosis. Then came silence. And it, whatever it was, was gone.

    “I await your command.” rumbled Afrakt Ghul.

    Shut up, said Azzatar, irritated.

    Enan opened her borrowed eyes once more, and reached out her lines. They stretched, as did others, but she did not look away from her goal, her destiny.

    There was a dream and a nightmare, an edge and a door, a mountain and a fire, and many others besides. But her borrowed eyes looked into themselves, and found one unnamed, unborn. And it screamed as she grasped it, her mind buckling under the strain. But she held. She must.

    Enan closed her borrowed eyes and looked upon the pool. A thin ring, a ripple, spread through the clear water, lapping at the edges. Then the water swelled, boiled, and erupted, heat and wetness, steam and mist filling the chamber, blocking her sight.

    And as she fell to one knee, squinting through the mist, a name came to her upon the voice of a boy.

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  3. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Jun 7, 2005

    Here we were gathered. Four of the children of Halid and Haadulf were assembled under starlight, as they prepared to depart. Many more, if one counted the Forest King, and the many Aeranath who were gathered many.

    “Will you come with us, teachers?” It was the voice of my elder cross-brother, Golofar. His voice was deep and had a slight gravely tone to it, but in this moment I heard a child asking the question.

    “Would there were two of me, Golofar.” Gologind, his master, spoke, slapping him fondly on an armoured shoulder. “We are sworn as protectors.”

    “So protect the family we shall.” Added Mastin, voice firm, clothing rustling over a thin frame in the wind.

    “As such, we must remain.”

    “Let what we have learned to you be our continued assistance in the challenges to come.”

    The half-twins, Golofar and Golofind, nodded and embraced their teachers, our parents' guardians.

    I averted my eyes, a little. My cross-siblings were much closer to Gologind and Mastin than I- this was their farewell. Instead, I busied myself with preparations. Tying my bags closed, checking our equipment, making sure the cart would roll well. Halogund finished his conversation with the King and came to my side.

    “Are you nervous?”

    Hmm. I considered. “Well, yes of course, but... having a path you know you're set to carry out... sort of calms you down a bit, right?”

    Halogund smiled, and he playfully rustled my hair, as he had once done when I was just a child.

    “Right you are, little brother. Come now- I think we're ready to go.”
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
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  4. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Jun 7, 2005
    Aardulf wanders with his friends for some time, among whom he lives hedonistically. He fears, or wants to avoid the fight that is brewing, and instead deepens his knowledge of mind-alteration. Through this experimentation, he is able to begin to piece his loud, incoherent visions into some sort of context. However, he grows conflicted, knowing what is unfolding.

    Masti thrives as a healer and sage of the Circle Cities. She is able to gain the practical teaching she sought, but in turn does much teaching of her own. She spends significant time in communion with her perception of the everturning wheel, seeking knowledge of the healing of animal, plant, and nature itself. Medicine is her vocation, and the eastern city of Hargaed becomes home to many advances in this field. In this period, she grew close to one of her teacher-students, Osuras, wedded him, and is now with child.

    Aarogund travels among several of the Circle Cities, often a messenger between his family members. He spends time in company with his eldest cross-brother, Halogund, and the Aeranath. He is angered by the enslavement of his people by the flame, and influenced by the Forest King, Halogund, and the firm words of his mother, becomes set on ending the enslavement of the children of Great Gahad.

    Haadalid lives in the eastern Circle City of Hargaed, alongside her sisters. She works to develop scripts and shorthands to record Masti's teachings, visions and discoveries, while further advancing her own goal to gather the knowledge of all the world, so that it may be forevermore recorded.

    Gennakan remains deeply and powerfully attached to her elder sisters, and learns from the same teachers who work with Masti. She also remains the closest of her siblings to her mother, Halid.

    Spoiler :
    A Green Reconaissance, and Perhaps Liberation (1 MP, 1 CP)
    joined Halogund, the Forest King and their allies, alongside his cross-siblings Golofar and Golofind. Together, this force set out to liberate, by subterfuge or violence if necessary, the enslaved. Weapons are gathered and visions consulted, and green magics prepared.

    Your Bread is Dust (1 MP)
    A scheme, a plot, a machination. There is work afoot to lead those who can escape the flame. But as Aarogund departs, he is not the only member of his family taking action. Halid, having been privy to Haadulf's darkest and most desperate plans, describes a blight to destroy the crops in the fields of the slavelands, rendering them useless. Masti balks at this request and its faminous implications, but Haadalid rises to this challenge. Delving through the works that she had transcribed from her elder sister, Haadalid finds a vector for a blight that might wither the crops in the slavefields.

    The Works of the Pharmacist (1 MP)
    grows restless. He learned of the journey of his brother and cross-siblings, and their campaign against the flame, but he did not go. However, guilt proves to be a powerful motivator. He delves deeper into the mental mysteries that his plants, molds and concoctions can illuminate, seeking clarity and new visions, anything that can provide aid for his kin. Aardulf draws closer to an answer that will solve the intractable puzzle of flame.

    Treedaughter's Teachings, Three Daughters Teaching (1 MP)
    is hurt by what she perceives as Haadalid's betrayal of her wishes. However, Gennakan speaks up to intervene, before a deep rift forms between her two elder sisters. While Haadalid did act against her elder sister's wishes, there is terrible war and suffering that shall unfold regardless of any of their actions. Through Masti's cooperation and unparalleled expertise, a blight might be altered so that it can, perhaps, spare some crops needed for the peasants to eat, before they can escape, while still achieving the goal of denying the utility of these farmlands to their overlords. Mollified by her youngest sister's attempt at striking a compromise, Masti grows in knowledge not only in the arts of life-giving, but also, reluctantly, in life-taking.
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  5. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Jun 2, 2005
    In the desert
    My progressing penitents, please enjoy the following prologue to Update 4: The Inheritance of Strife.


    In the deepest tomb of the Leonine Mastaba, the purple torches for a moment flare red. Afrakt enters young and hale, as an adventurer garbed, half bare-chested, in the strange and exotic furs of the East. Strong, lean, tanned muscles and red eyes, and a beard of black with streaks of red in it like a fire-dancer trailing a sparkling pennant in the night around a camp-dance blaze.

    The ears of one of the guardian dogs perk up, black and isosceles, tail twitching as liquid purple eyes open.

    The Fire pauses, searching the room, then exhales smoke from his nose, giving a short laugh. “Even for this form, you won’t incarnate?”

    This vault contains the rarest substance in all Arisaras: Pure, clear water in a black well. On the wall facing the sarcophagus, a great effigy of the Mountain Herself stands, garbed as a mourning matron. The statue weeps, endlessly, bright glowing purple tears. The frigid well water flows into a channel and around the sarcophagus, where it mixes with the glowing tears until it achieves the consistency of the indigo wine that flows in the canals throughout the city, pouring from the great lion-mouths above in a roaring torrent.

    It is the effigy of the Mountain which speaks. “You know well I already have. Twice.”

    “Accursed prophecy,” mutters Afrakt. “Our enemies’ last jest at the doorway of oblivion.”

    “Our old enemies,” Azzatar clarifies. “We have new ones now.”

    “NO!” roars Afrakt. “She is still here. She never died, she is come again –“

    “Afrakt,” cautions the Mountain, the matron pulsing with such forceful grief that the Flame Himself is forced to a knee.

    “Our daughter is dead. Our old enemies, are dead. The corpse of the strongest lies at your feet. These are but mortal beggars and vagrants occupying long-empty mansions, the purpose of which they know not.”

    Afrakt merely grumbles, volcanically.

    “I will admit, I made a similar mistake. I thought Moag had returned.”

    “Old enemies, new names,” objects the Fire.

    “As always, you are simple. The moon hangs where it was, dormant, sterile, complacent. Moag sleeps, and my power suspends him in the sky ever still.”

    “But the power is the same,” Afrakt insists.

    “A shard, overlooked, at the first breaking of the world. Cast into the depths of the void on some ancient trajectory unknown to all. Perhaps there are many such. But this one was called back.”

    “So…a distant relation.”

    “I’m afraid so,” says the Mountain.

    “It may yet be our lever, as Moag was in the first war.”

    “If we empower that which stirs at Draum, Spring may be a pitiful foe by comparison,” cautions Azzatar.

    Afrakt sits on the sarcophagus, for a moment looking dulled.

    “I have lost my hierophant across the Past. And something else comes. I feel it, hulking, rising like the bulk of a wave.”

    “That which we felt?”

    “Not the trickster, no. A beast of metal and wood, crowned in horns, echoed by the clang of hammer on steel.” Afrakt is swathed in smoke, contemplative.

    Silence from the matron, and then a guess. “The power of the slaughtered stag.”

    “The stag-man. The trickster. The dreamer. The false hierophant. And the sons of the Prophet. War comes, and we are too few.” The young adventurer paces, trailed by embers.

    “So that is why you came to this tomb.” As if the beauty of my statue were not enough, she seemed to tease.

    “We need him, Azzatar. We knew this day would come.”

    “It is folly.”

    “But…” pleads the Fire.

    “But to scour the world of awakened ancient things, we require awakened ancient things. Yes, my love, your bluntness has its logic at times.”

    Afrakt stands over the sarcophagus. “Then I speak as hierophant and invoke your power, great Land. I call him, the fallen one, buried beneath your rock. Ashtur. Just sovereign, temple warder, butchered brother. Star-lion. Come at my call. Serve at my will. Die at my order.”

    The sarcophagus shifts. And cracks.

    There is silence from the darkness below, in which swirls drifting gravedust beneath the shattered granite glyphs.

    A low, thrumming growl.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  6. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Sep 25, 2009
    The Storytellers Tale.


    There was a storyteller in the City of Hargaed. Telling tales and singing songs amidst the scented trees and lively market stalls as flowers bloomed upon the windowsills of sod-roofed houses built of wood and carved stones. He lighted the hearts of his people as they bartered for udyn tide-stones and fanciful furs from Carndom far across the sea in his robes of motley green and brown and grey, for there was an air of coming war with Anis-Natar amidst the chimneystacks and the gods were ever silent to the peoples prayers and in the silence much lightening did their hearts desire.

    Thus while throughout all Hargaed men died each night and were born each day, night and day did they pray unto the wheel and to the fallen prophet of the spring in the temple of the green priests where that esteemed and venerable order sat singing songs and uttering prayers in whispered breaths as the faithful knelt in reverence. So it was that one day as the storyteller prayed in the temple did the spark of inspiration come to him from on high, and thus after he was done giving reverence to the gods, he alighted before the temple steps upon a stool to tell a story of a land far away, and near to mind. Hearken children of Hargaed to this tale, said he:


    In a land far away in a city wracked for three years by pestilence and three by famine and trembling in trepidation on the brink of a ruinous war did the priests of all the gods in the Temple of all the Gods pray hard, their heads bowed low before the statues of the six great gods who stood before all others and likewise before the icons of the myriad lesser deities beloved of the peoples and the tribes that dwelt therein, who bore faces of stags and lions and serpents.

    For the priests said unto their faithful. "As a man may hear the droning of little insects and yet not be aware that he hath heard them as he goeth about his business, so may the gods not hear our prayers at first as they ponder the mysteries of heaven. Pray then often and regularly, that when thy prayers have troubled the silence long enough some god great or small as he strolls the glades and dells of the spirit world pondering great thoughts may come on one of our lost prayers, that flutters like a butterfly tossed in storm when all its wings are broken, and notice our plight; then if the gods be merciful they may ease our fears, or else they may crush us, being petulant gods, so the founders of our city used to say, with their pestilence and death and portents of war."

    But in the third year of the pestilence and in the second year of the famine, and while still there was immanence of war, came all the people of the City to the door of the Temple of All the Gods , where none may enter but the priests—but only leave gifts and go.

    And there the people in a great multitude cried out: "O High Prophet of All the gods, Priest of Gaddos, Priest of Enamon, and Priest of Avra, Teller of the mysteries of the Land, Receiver of the gifts of the People, Lord of Prayer and Speaker for the Mad, what doest thou within the Temple of All the Gods when our enemy is at the gates?"

    And he, who was the High Prophet, answered: "I pray for all the People."

    But the people answered: "O High Prophet of All the gods, Priest of Gaddos, Priest of Enamon, and Priest of Avra, Teller of the mysteries of the Land, Receiver of the gifts of the People, Lord of Prayer and Speaker for the Mad for three long years hast thou prayed with the priests of all thine order and all the priesthoods of all the temples of the gods, while we brought ye gifts and died by bow and spear. Now, therefore, since They have not heard thee in three grim years, thou must go and carry to Their faces the prayers of the people of this city, or else there shall no longer be any gifts whatever upon thy temple door, that thou and thine order may fatten on our toil and our grain at a banquet of our regrets."

    "Then thou shalt say before Their faces priest: 'O All the gods, Lords of the World, whose child is the thunder, whose daughter is the winter frost, take back thy pestilence from us, for ye have played the game of the gods too long with the people of this city, who would fain be done with ye."

    Then in great fear answered the High Prophet, saying: "What if the gods be angry and cast us unto ruin and despair?" And the people answered: "Then are we sooner done with pestilence and famine and accursed war, and better yet of gods."

    That night thunder howled upon the Mountain of Anatalaios, wherein the Cadano dwelt pondering the unremembered past. This mountain stood as a peak above all others in the lands bound to the cities yoke, its spire pointing upward to the stars. And the people took the High Prophet from his Temple by carriage and at the point of spears of law and drave him hither to the mountain, for they said: "There walk to-night upon the mountain and speak unto All the gods save One who sleepeth still and stirreth not for mortal men. Pray before the mountain, pray before the fire, pray even to the burning sky."

    And he went trembling to the gods.

    Next morning, pale-faced and frightened from Anatalaios the thundering height, came the High Prophet back into the fields of grain and rolling dells, and there he spake to the restive people, saying: "The faces of the gods are iron and their mouths set hard and grave. There is no hope from the gods for heavens gates are shut, Their voices ever silent, the mercy seat stands empty. Lament and weep, for the boundary that divides us from our foes has become water as the tide comes hither from across the Past and falls again yonder the far shore. The grain also falleth before the hooves of the thundering host to be crushed into the dust of our regrets"

    Then said the people who had grown wroth: "Thou shalt go to the sleeper, to whom sacrifices are made but to whom no prayer is given: seek Him upon Anatalaios in the whispering of leaves at noon upon its slopes, and on its summit, where all things seem to rest in silence. Seek him in the morning after thy slumber under the moonless sky and pray to him also. For surely there rests also Ellatos the sleeping in the darkness. Go to him, and say: 'Thou hast evil brethren, and They smite our City.' Perchance he shall awake and help us, or perhaps he shall hear us not. Be glad o priest in this errand, thou hast escaped the thunder of the wrathful gods, surely thou shalt also escape the stillness of the one who sleepeth still."

    Upon a morning when the sky and lakes were clear and the world still, and Anatalaios was stiller than the world, The High Prophet crept in fear and trembling towards the lofty slopes because the people were urgent and the hosts of their enemy were near at hand upon the azure sea and o'er the wide and verdant land.

    All that day men saw him climbing. At noon he prayed by the trees growing on its western slope, and at night he rested near the summit. But ere the morning of the day that followed, those few who rose early saw him in the silence, a speck against the blue, stretch up his arms upon the summit. Then instantly they saw him not, nor was he ever seen of men again, he who had dared to trouble the stillness of the Sleeping God before the appointed time.

    As for that city, such that now speak of it speak of an ill-fated city that scorned the gods and offered not their hearts to any one of Them but sought favour from them all to Their despite. They speak also of a fierce and potent tribe blessed of a great and mighty god who smote the people of the city in which stood a temple to all the gods attended by no high priest, trampling down their grain and reddening the azure waters of the Past with the blood of its sons. Be this a lesson for thee, if the heart is sincere the gods whom thou love dearly shall reveal their power and hearken in their time. If thy heart is insincere however, than as with the fabled city heavens gates shall be shut to thee, the faces of the gods grave, and their voices ever silent.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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  7. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Jun 7, 2005
    Earth Wolf's Dream

    Aardulf lay back on the hillside. His fingers idly plucked at the strings of his lute, a quiet improvisation, as the last sliver of day's blue sky faded to nightscape. Heloig's warm body lay at his side, her sleeping hand resting on his belly. A distance away, Aardulf could hear Sagdan and Aelef enjoying each other's intimate company. The earth wolf's fingers played over the strings, striving to recall a half-remembered chord from an earlier day dream. A soft, atonal exploration of sound.

    The insect chorus of dusk grew louder as the stars blazed into the sky, and Aardulf's quiet music faded into and joined nature's harmony. It was as peaceful as ever- but a restless kick bothered him. With a slow roll, Aardulf slid out of Heloig's grasp, watching her in the low light for a moment, before standing and tightening his belt. He kept his instrument in hand, still half-searching for the missing notes as he followed the command of his legs.

    There was an aura about him, a tingling crawling from his tailbone up his spine. Part of Aardulf did not want to be alone for this, but another part did not want to frighten his friends with what he knew was coming. His legs, nonetheless, continued to carry him clear of the encampment and down the dale, into light woods. The insect din was growing deafening and blood was pumping in his ears. Aardulf hung the curling stem of his lyre on a branch and reached into a pouch around his waist. He pulled out several dry leaves, placing them over his gums and under his tongue, and then pulled out a cloth gag, biting down on it and tying the ends at the top of his neck.

    A sense of moving air. Aardulf turned and a terrible coruscating diamond of green drew close to him. Leaves and branches transformed into geometric shapes and became part of it, and it rolled towards him, a terrible crystalline maw. His fingers, toes, limbs and body were vivisected, and he witnessed himself, twenty broken reflections, each twisting in on each other like square-edged whirlpools. The insects were so loud, and they were in here too now, part of him, eating him, replacing him. The thing that might have been him bit down hard, but there was nothing there and the jaw spun around into itself. The roar and scream of the insects was becoming a rhythmic pulse, its own heart replacing his, and the thing that might have been him perceived it as rising laughter, a terrible sawing noise.

    There wasn't any name anymore, the identity was shattering into tinier and tinier pieces and the laughter was a terrible, wheezing heave. Thick, syrupy ichor started to ooze out of the saw-wound, every mouth was filled and drowning. No eyes could close to stop the green visions, the sharp edges that had begun to warp and blur, the laughter that had become a pulse of light.

    The terrible jewel was starting to rot, and Aardulf emerged, gasping like a drowned man, in its midst. Racing forward without legs, he reached towards the center. There, images took clear form, even as cold green flame licked away at the periphery of his sight.

    The messenger he had rejected. Where the man had come and gone. Little brother Aarogund, and the cross-siblings Halogund, Gologind and Golofar, walking. Their departure, a rising red flame. No time, and all events spontaneous. His own words echoed in his head.


    Aardulf bit down on the gag, and his heart raced. He pushed forward towards the gate. Its perimeter spun like whirring blades.


    He pushed onwards, feeling ever-greater resistance. The circulate gate began to shred itself with its own might, but the images remained clear within. What was, what had been, what would be... Aardulf pushed his hand forward.


    A wrenching. Searing agony. A horrible ribbon of gore as his arm was reduced to shreds, blood spinning around the wheel. It gazed at him, and Aardulf perceived the horror of introspection as the bloodsoaked bladewheel cast itself sternly into himself. Hate and reproach and fear, but all were reflections. He fell backwards, backwards, lightheaded, as the wheel receded, stars surrounding it. The white and green light fading, a trail of orbs of blood and a ruined arm stretching between them. His head rolled as everything stretched away, his limbs extending and dissociating, until he was once again merely a consciousness without a body. A pinprick of light in the distance, joined by countless others. Slowly, he sank backwards into thick water. He was a pond, staring up at the night sky. Slowly, his body grew back, and he became conscious again of the wet, and the cold. He breathed slowly through his nose, and began to kick his way to shore. His body was still intact, although the memory of pain was fresh in his mind. The terror and wild adrenaline still coursed through his body, but the taste of the leaves, their resin dissolving in his saliva, helped to fight this.

    As his heart began to slow, Aardulf removed his gag, massaging his sore cheeks and jaw muscles. He waded up out of the water and stood at the pond's edge for a moment, breathing rhythmically and dripping dry. The images of his vision were as stark and chaotic in his mind as they had been beforehand, a disorienting mass of overwhelming sensation. A heavy weariness was setting in now, as the uncontrollable energy of before faded away. His body ached, as if every muscle in his body had exhausted itself. His head ached, although the leaves were helping to distract from the pain.

    But worse still was the feeling of guilt. His siblings in danger, far away from him. How were his three little sisters doing? What was he doing here, so far away?

    He missed them so much.

    But most of all, he missed his father. He wished he could speak to someone who saw like he saw. Someone who could share and make sense of his visions. Dad had always spoken of the wheel of leaves, an illusive teacher, but ultimately kind and giving. He'd never spoken of the spinning ring of razors.
  8. Terrance888

    Terrance888 Discord Reigns

    Jul 22, 2007
    Workwork Workshop
    Life is brief, from death to death
    Yet death is not still.
    Life is brief, from sleep to sleep
    Yet dreams do not fade.
    Bones of the earth, bones of the sky,
    Whence they came, I do not pry.
    But where they joined, is now an Edge.
    Where they part, there gods now lie.

    The structure stood proudly above the trees, but it forgot why it was there. The chants had been silenced by time. The blood has been cleansed by rain. And fear, fear by those escaping death, dealing death of their own. One by one, it’s fellows have sank to their knees. Brick to mud. Wood to soil. But this structure’s bones were built of stone, brought from the mountains to the north (not that North). Dedicated to forgotten gods. But it still stands.

    The peoples caught their breath, dank with blood, dry with fear. They looked about them, and saw green upon green. A land of Always Summer. And yet in the distance it stood, a miniature mountain upon the land, and they turned away: south, east, and west they went, learning the names of the local spirits, bringing the totems of their own gods. Soon, most moved further south, but some stayed behind. Three villages were built, and soon they too forgot whence they came, but for stories of The Past, and the growing Sea of Sand, and their shrines overfilled with dying gods.

    And others came South, of more familiar ambition. Bringing amethysts they sought the exotic flora and fauna of the unconquered jungle. And names, names of the gods who had escaped. Some ambitions were blunted by the suspicions of the locals, but others moved ahead, and soon a small town grew on the river, and strange men moved along paths. And they found the structure, and they named it Ziggurat. But inside, they found memories they were not meant to have, and found deaths they were not meant to face, and so frustrated, they left.

    Slowly but surely, the Ziggurat became a crossroads for their trade. Men, bent over dragging animals and carrying fruits, praised it for naught but uncaring shadow, or cursed it for its uncaring blight. And the Ziggurat saw them, wondering of its true purpose. Then she came to it.

    Ennan was a child from the Kvleen, the village of the east. Daughter of a doctor, a Makn, she learned the names, and recited the stories of the plant spirits. But she could see the changes in her village, as amethysts replace ivory, and strange prayers replace traditional chants. And she felt more than saw the shine of watchful eyes, eyes that felt different than the bright eyes of the spirits or purple eyes of the outsiders. And she watched them back.

    And so she spoke to her mother. And so she spoke to the elder Makn. And so she spoke to the village’s Ryeln, a man named Tomul. There, he advised her to visit his elder in Gami, the village of the west. However, he confided in her a vision granted by a fox spirit- these eye spirits are neither plant nor animal, stone or sky, but something between them. Something that divides them? She asked. No, he said, shaking his head.

    And so she received leave from her elder, embraced her mother, and bid farewell to the plant spirits of Kvleen, and so she left with the caravan of the purple eyed ones, heading to the crossroads, then waiting as the moon turns to ride another out to Gami. She spoke with several, careful of course, to avoid mentioning the spirit secrets she was entrusted with. But these were no intermediaries, merely agents of far greater spirits.

    She felt it before she saw it peek over the canopy, the tired resignation of the Ziggurat. There, the caravan spends two nights recovering, before turning north, to the great River Town. There she would spend ten nights waiting for another caravan to rest under the its bulk. There, on the third night, she approached the it herself, and looked upon the Ziggurat with curious eyes. She saw loneliness, but also forgotten pride and apprehension. She saw it too, was a spirit - or once a place of spirits. And the eyes were drawn here. But why?

    So began her study of the Ziggurat and the eye spirits. With curiosity, with empathy, with humility she walked around the bulk on each and every step and level. And she watched the twineing of spirits, and the ghost of spirits, echoes of greater powers long slain. Two days later, she entered, following eyes upon eyes, receiting faded words passed from generation to generation. And the Ziggurat recognized an echo of a memory, and stayed its defenses. It waited. It watched.

    She pressed deeper.

    Over the next few years, she returned to the Ziggurat, armed with keen sight, with openness, and with determination. She walked the long lost halls, filled the dried pools, washed the faded markings, and read the forgotten words. Slowly but surely, the Ziggurat remembered its purpose. Slowly but surely, the Ziggurat whispered its secrets.

    Outside, she traveled with renewed purpose among the peoples of Kvleen and Gami, and those of Laoul as well. With names she retrieved from the Ziggurat, she delved into the memories of the plant spirits and animal spirits, which she soon learns, are survivors and echos. Working with the Makn and Ryeln alike, they delved into the mystery of the eye spirits - their studies soon gave them the title of Dyaln, the Watchers.

    However, as Ennan approached the final chambers of the Ziggurat, the familiar sense of being watched triggered an epiphany. The connections she saw and traced demand something beyond anything she has done before. She looked up, and smiled with determination.

    Spoiler Names and Castes of the Near South :
    Makn - a Doctor, an intermediary between the plant spirits
    Ryeln - a Speaker, an intermediary between the animal spirits
    Dyaln - A Watcher, an intermediary of the eye spirits
    Kysl - The Town to the north, on the river, an outpost of merchants providing goods and news to the servants of Anis-Natar
    Laoul - The village of the south
    Gami - The village of the west
    Kvleen- The village of the east
    Jehoshua, Thlayli and TheMeanestGuest like this.
  9. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Jun 2, 2005
    In the desert
    Firelight, in darkness, flickering on faces, tells more about darkness than about light.

    The Slethriadi were but a minor people. They had always been this and aspired to be little else. They were blessed by a two-headed pheasant which had alighted on a gnarled pine, and shown the forebear Slethriad where to dig for cool water that now fed their lands. Their days were the same. The hunters fanned out into the hills, searching for game. After six or seven days they would return, strings of bird and lapine hanging from their shoulders. The women would farm, mostly, tubers of nourishing value. Some gods they worshiped, but of late icons of the horned king were more commonly praised than that of the olden invocations to mountain, flame, and sea.

    The last chieftain had been clawed by an eyohoi, and as his body shivered with feverish infection, the wound leaking white pus, and then bowel, from the side of his abdomen in the firelight that flickered, his eyes rolled back in his head and he prophesied. "Fire, water, and earth, are all that we are, and might be. Bless us, praise us, for when the dovecote is shadowed by ash, the land shall fail and never recover. Leave, leave, for that you might find salvation, or you too shall return to what you were - fire, water, earth." He died.

    Two generations passed. The Slethriadi fell under the auspice of the golden laurel. Men bound in bronze came, and spoke words written in symbols, spelled in red ink on animal skin. The Slethriadi watched from their lintels, dark of eye and blank of face, as they were informed that they were citizens of a place called Sommos. Some of the young men and women were so enticed, and left for this place, never to return. The elders, those who had not died of disease or occasional famine as the traditional tubers were overtaken by Somnian grains and herds, remained.

    A day came, one day, that was not a day. It was a day like a thunderstorm, if the clouds at the heart of the storm were malign. Black plumes, and at the heart of those plumes, whispering languages ancient beyond comparison spoke curses, whispers, entreaties, words that roiled like thunderbolts. And in the hearts of those dark clouds, no hint of cooling rain.

    The Slethriadi did not hide, nor did they pray. They did as they were told. They ran.

    The smoke clouds overtook them in a valley, roaring over the hills like a rampage of angry ghosts. Screams as the air, filled with embers, seared the backs of their necks. Apocalyptic artillery from the horizon as superheated air to the south ignited to feed the fuelless inferno.

    A man stands in white, his helm a conic tower of tree-spikes, his robe black with a circular, white moon bisected by the center pleat. His face is white with paint, his eyes black, his expression nonplussed by the apocalypse. He moves to the side, showing behind his robes a small cave.

    And he speaks in the lilting tongue of Carns, a queer cousin to that of the Slethriadi.

    Woe-betided times are on us,
    Fire’s cauldron roiling thus.
    Give to me your youngest baby,
    Laughing as a glabber gaily.
    To the moon he shall be given.
    Then your flesh Shadar has shriven.

    He gestures to the hole. The elders do not hesitate. A laughing babe is ripped from an anguished mother's breast and pressed into the priest of Shadur's linen-wrapped fingers. The Slethriadi take their salvation where they can find it, and file into the accursed cave.

    Laughing, his white moonstone staff parts the ash like butter, and he walks into the darkened hellscape, carrying the babe. Only the fringes of his trailing bandages burn, as the priest murmurs, "Eats it snails or lentils daily? Trial and error grows him haley..."
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  10. Terrance888

    Terrance888 Discord Reigns

    Jul 22, 2007
    Workwork Workshop
    His eyes opened. Prey ran along the ground above him, heavy clouds beneath. This is a dream, he realized. It was nice to dream. He remembered his first, when the previous female grew old, and accepted the grooming of a younger, more beautiful chieftess. As he thought of her, he saw her wings stretch silently beneath him, the shapely crust of her body strangely marked and colored. “Symbols” she had said, from the flight which has nurtured her to her prime. He had mated with her soon after, and began to dream.

    The prey he saw where trapped against a wooden hedge that prevented their escape. “Goats” this type of prey were called goats. “Gazul” He and others like him were called Gazul. Called by them, the builders. As he thought of them, he saw them above, the soft skinned ones who built caves and hunted plants. He isn’t sure what to make of that. Normally, they were too small to be real prey, surrounded by brightness cast by their sticks and pits. They walked about their little legs, not suspecting that the flight would come under the cover of the overcast sky. She stayed below, letting out a cry. He looked to her, and he saw something strange in his claws.

    He was holding a skin, but it was empty. No, empty of flesh - the inside was filled with stones. His eyes refocused, noting that three other mighty males, Gazul like him, were holding the other corners, while the younger, flightier males and females darted below them, grabbing the small stones and diving upwards. What were they doing? These stones - too small to be boulders - are too small to take down any prey.

    But the builders were not prey.

    The divers drew graceful arcs over the gathering, soft thuds and wet cracks as the stones fell amongst the soft-skinned ones. They screamed and cursed like a pack of wolves, retreating to their huts. One of them grabbed a flaming stick, racing for a firepit. The oiled wood leapt into brightness, and he covered his eyes…

    He was awake now. The chieftess had read the clouds, and planned a great raid against the builders under the cover of a leased storm. As she rumbled and growled, reminding her flight of their preparations, his mind wandered to his dream. Patterns and echos. Was he truly awake? He felt a pang of self consciousness at that thought - a thought that was impossible to imagine but a few moons ago.

    They carefully dragged the stone-filled skins from the cave, they carefully picked up the stone-filled skins while flying upside down, and they carefully flew behind a ridge as they approached the target. He blinked, the dream, a reality.

    And he remembered, then comes the light in the firepit.

    His head turned, recognizing the ashy blackness, realizing what must be done. He called to his fellow skin carriers, and took the lead as the stones began to fall and the firestick began to run. The fire flared up, licking hungrily at oiled wood.

    And then a skin half-emptied of stone crashed into it, putting it out in a great clattering and crunching.

    He screeched triumphantly as other Gazul dropped larger boulders that collapsed the huts. Some of the soft-skins emerged with weapons, stone blades that broke against stone skin. Others tried to flee, thin bones that broke against the hard ground. The Chieftess ignored them all, dragging a raving soft-skin dressed in fur and bone into the center of the flight. It brandished a bone-blade, which she cast aside contemptuously. “Shadur take you!” it babbled as she turned her head curiously. “Vakyr-tara! You will suffer! Hahaha!”

    The Chieftess looked to him, almost as if to confirm something. Then she turned, grabbed the builder by the head, and crushed it like a rock. The mess bubbled slightly, as if it was still trying to rave while the body twitched. Then it became silent. Then it became still.

    As the others broke rock in celebration, he looked to the Chieftess’ expression at already being called Vakyr. A calling. A name. So much of Gazul-kind is being named by the builders. Perhaps that should change.
  11. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Sep 25, 2009
    Wheels and Axles.


    She had travelled far.

    From the west unto the east, she had come out of the empty and lifeless sands that had so mocked her memory of the past into a strange new land. Far from the long shadows of the mountain, glowering amethyst on the horizon she had traversed, hidden from the burning gaze that sought something, perhaps herself, from beyond the horizon. Its scorching heat piercing through the skeins of space, time and memory as her footsteps took her through places and hallucinations beyond mortal comprehension, places mentionable only in the fantasies of storytellers and madmen. That is to say dreams.

    The songbird who had guided her for the long years [or instantaneous eternity] since Salap perished descended upon a fallen branch, dry and desiccated amongst others of its kind and became a child, he turned and pointed unerringly ahead, his eyes grave, to...

    "A mountain"

    she squinted through the ash.

    "All rests upon the Land, save the Past."

    replied the boy in his usual cryptic fashion

    "What must I do now?"


    the boy alighted in his sparrow-form and flew away.


    So she climbed. She climbed past the withered trees and over blackened stones laid with uncommon artistry amidst shattered glass and smoldering sand. While her hands scrabbled up the jagged stones of the soaring peak and she un-entangled her tattered garments as they got caught upon their edges she averted her gaze from the seventeen stars that hung amidst the azure sky like candles lit at a mourning wake, looking down over all like watchmen. As she climbed ever higher she pretended not to hear the gibbering moans of a thousand hungry ghosts that swum like fish amidst the swirling ash, their faces black one moment and ashen-white the next as they crumbled into the eddies of the wind and scattered over the mountainside with fading sighs along with the dust borne aloft therein and the countless moans of innumerable other such unfortunates. Such was the echo of a bonfire lit long years ago upon the smoldering ruin of the spring and the lamentation of the slain.

    She climbed high, far higher than the mountain first appeared such that she wondered if this mountain on which she found herself was the same as the one as that on which she began to ascend when she first began her climb. As she continued further, through and beyond the sea of clouds, the silence of the gods came heavy over her as the seventeen stars whirled away towards the four directions and beyond the far horizon by some unknown power and the light faded to an empty night bereft of stars. Then at last she could climb no further as the heavens wheeled overhead and an ineffable light beyond all description flickered far away past the vast infinitude of the terrible and empty dark. Her soul trembled with holy fear and longing at the sight, and her eyes fled down from their sacrilege and came to rest upon a flat clearing and a tree upon the mountains summit.

    This place was not meant for mortals.

    Gazing upon its boughs she pondered, and she realised it was not a tree like unto the others. For those other trees upon the slopes below the clouds were naught but lifeless husks. Where the others were dead this one, alone of its brethren was merely sleeping. For the pall of winters rest lay over it and beneath its mottled bark life remained to be awakened into new growth, if only heaven would permit it.

    "So at last fate has brought you here"

    The girl whipped her head around as the east wind blew upon the mountaintop and beheld a youth, a child with a crown of horns upon his head and hooves for feet and green eyes laughing in the dark.

    "Who are you!?"

    The boy smiled

    "Who are you?"

    a non answer as the boy stepped forward his hair billowing behind him.

    "I am here to reveal to you this truth. Follow".


    The boy turned with a spry step and took his place in the summit clearing with a bounding leap. There, once he was at the appointed spot, he straightened his back and quivered in the fashion of deer after rain from hoof to horn, before he took a step with his hoof slowly, ever so slowly, and with some trepidation, and placed it gently as if the mountain could shatter at his touch upon the stone.

    And the world shuddered.

    "Follow after me" he pointed to a place opposite his, on the clearings western side.

    Nodding once, the girl went to her spot and watched him closely lest she step awry, so it was they began to dance upon the mountaintop.

    It was slow at first, his leg rising as hers fell, his arm rising upward, pointing to the sun as hers pointed down unto the fiery depths beneath the stone. She whirling to the left and he to the right. He turning to the west and she the east. She watched carefully his every step lest she stumble in her part. But then, as time progressed and she became ever more certain of her role it, the dance, sped up. Faster and faster in circle after circle they danced and each step was smiting as the earth shuddered beneath their footsteps, each a hammer upon the summit of the mountain, a sharp blade into the depths of the stone as the world quaked at their footsteps. And with their turning, so too turned the stars in heaven as day turned to night and back again over and over beyond counting. Likewise beneath the clouds that cloaked the mountainside beyond the dancers sight the dead trees the girl had passed in her ascent returned to life before they withered away to dust only to grow anew each passing morning. They circled within the circle of their dance upon the mountain at times leaping and at times stepping slow and grave. Then at last, entirely by surprise, the two dancers, man and woman, turned in time and became as two sides of a single coin, pieces of a greater whole. They had reached harmony.

    "Behold the wheel!"

    Cried the Horned King with joyous exultation.

    Life and death, sprouting and withering, rising and falling, ebb and flow, light and dark, good and evil. So the great wheel of ages turned in time with their dance as they smote the mountaintop with hoof and foot. And in the emptiness at the centre of the circle, where all was still amidst the whirring movement of creation she saw IT. just a glimmering, and barely for an instant, nothing more. She did not even know what IT was.

    "Behold the Truth".

    sang the boy. Like he had shown her something good. Like a honey-hunter finding a hive of bees in an oasis anticipating their sweet nectar in his mouth.

    "Look sideways at the wheel, orphan of the Kfeji, and see therein the axle, the great tree of life that links earth to heaven and brings heaven down to earth, the tower of immortality that stretches from the finite to the infinite. There at its summit you shall find who You are."

    The girl trembled and in a quavering voice replied.

    "I don't understand".

    The boy smiled and pointed upwards. Unto the farthest light as the girl shuddered again for reasons beyond her comprehension at the sight.

    "See the axle around which the wheel turns, and climb the tree to behold the light".

    "What tree, what am I supposed to do!"

    the girl cried out.

    The dancing ceased of a sudden jarringly beneath the waxing moon that rose from below an ocean of clouds and the boy was standing there, right in front of her smiling. Smirking like he had just made the biggest joke in all the world. He reached out his hand, his finger hovering in front of her eyes pointing at her, and he spoke amidst the deep silence that replaced the whirling movement of their dance.

    "The Tree touches all the mantles of Heaven and at its apex you can be as you will, yet change the path for all who climb thereafter. This is the secret of how mortals become makers."

    "Now then, arise dreamer. for the day of awakening is at hand"

    "Wait! You haven't shown me who I am yet"

    the girl cried at the boys broken promise.

    "Not yet, but you will come to know soon enough. You have only take up the mantle prepared for you and listen to the holy blood that flows within your flesh."

    He reached out his hand and touched her between the eyes.

    And the whole world came rushing in a great flood to reveal an enormous forest before her as the mountain screamed.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
  12. TheMeanestGuest

    TheMeanestGuest Warlord

    Dec 4, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Of Turran and Narrak

    There is a rather hoary tale the Cherul once told in their far and forlorn home, scratched out along the wild edge of the plain of beasts where the endless north meets the ending west. They told this tale on cold winter nights beneath the roofs of their grassy huts, ablanket all over with thick and darkened furs to catch the meager warmth of their small and smoky fires. It stoked the hunger in their hearts, and emboldened them to the morrow's deadly hunt. The Nakylings tell it now in the twisting wealds of Tallag, as they find its rhythms pleasing to the ear.

    In the ancient age of heroes Turran slew the lurks of fang and claw who lorded over the glooming elder wood. He was the strongest and the tallest among the golden people, and always spoke with honest words. He was as patient and wise as he was hearty and hale, and even the cleverest and cruellest beasts fell before his wrath; his eyes ashine with a bright white light, with silver-tipped spear to hand and a brilliant coat of woven colours on his back. Turran slew them all despite their schemes and traps and plots, and the golden people came to tame and rule the earth. For ages they honoured Turran as the best among them, for no longer did they need fear death.

    In war Turran's elder brother Narrak had fought always at his side, though he was lesser in many ways and oft found himself wrenched away from deadly tooth and maw as Turran saved him with a shout. In thanks Narrak wove that famous coat of colours on his blessed loom and bestowed it to his younger brother that he should never falter on the field. So too did Narrak weave tapestries of tale, to record the great words and deeds of the golden people.

    But with years of peace and long privilege even the best of us forgets, and in time the people began to think the stories finer than their own fading memories. Narrak likewise forgot, and found the adoration of his tales more potent than the love he bore his brother or the regard he bore honest words, and slowly he began to change them, saying his tapestries ran afray and need be restored. Though all could clearly see that the work of Narrak's blessed loom had never faded nor faltered, not a single voice was raised in objection.

    Small embellishments at first, to make himself seem fierce and brave. He grew drunk on his power over truth and the respect and opportunity it brought him. He took a fine wife and built a fine house to tower over all, and he discarded the esteem in which he held his brother.

    An anger grew in Turran as he saw himself supplanted, as his brother stole all the fame of his deeds and works for himself, as the golden people no longer saw any value in the verity of their own history. His brother's many lies brought grave injury to Turran's pride, and a worm of malice began to grow within his heart. But Turran was unable to discard his honour in its entirety, so deep was it etched into his soul. He could not cast his brother down, nor could he break him in his hands, so in his mind he created a design that would remind Narrak and all the golden people of the strength gained only through want and struggle.

    In years gone by Turran had watched his brother as he worked, studying his craft with admiration. Brooding, he remembered the lowness of his old enemies, and he thought to misuse these secrets he had gleaned; a terrible and wicked crime, regardless of its ultimate justice. Beneath the cover of darkness he stole into his brother's house, and he set his hands upon the blessed loom. He wove not with cloth, but with essence itself. He sang as he wove, that his power be carried on the air to places across the world. He prayed his brother would hear him not, though he feared it would be so.

    In the east he planted a growing seed, a nest of vines and weeds to spread upon the fields of the golden people, and so remind them of hunger and the horrors of famine, his voice lilting and filled with softer warning.

    In the west he rose great clouds of ash and dust to fall upon the homes of the golden people, and so remind them of dissolution and the end of all things, chanting louder now, sternly, dark.

    In the south he birthed a violent folk adorned in bones with sharp swords to hand, to remind the golden people of cruelty and the rapine of war, his voice rising in a discordant clash.

    Turran never finished his fourth verse, barely begun in ominous tone. Narrak came upon him then, woken from his sleep by that woeful song. He took his gleaming shears and plunged them through his brother's neck, blood pouring out upon the loom, staining it forever with that first new death.

    Raging at utter betrayal he came to Turran's house and burned it to the ground. In his spite he cursed Turran's wives and lovers and all their children with ugly forms and cast them out into abject poverty and deprivation. This is how the Cherul knew that the fourth verse was to be of the north, a sweeping plague to remind the golden people of the chill and terror of grasping fever - for these same bitter haunts told them so. An echo would return one day, they promised, to finish that song started so long ago.

    The Nakylings know it has come, arriving on the back of a shadow, and on the brow of a whisper. It carries on the wind, damp and molding and pestilential, and it bears a name: Kotzal.
    Thlayli likes this.
  13. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Jun 2, 2005
    In the desert
    Believe me, my child, a loss of hope is the step in the journey of every penitent. The gods give us faith knowing that we will lose it, that we can. It is tempting to curse them for this, but so they gave us lips to curse.

    But humans, born of tides, are not so different from tides. What leaves can, does, ever return. We are not yet at the day when ice creeps across the water. No, we are in a very different time.

    A time of harvest.

    Patience, penitence.

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