TNES VI - The Mythopoeia

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

  1. inthesomeday

    inthesomeday Immortan

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,798
    When the people of the forested wilds first laid eyes on us, mysterious shapes cresting the horizon of the hills to their north, they mistook us for half-breeds of a sort. To them, our steeds were alien. More alien than the maleficent and mystical beast-men that were native to their forest, at least, and so, before they could distinguish us from our animals, they assumed we were bonded at the waist. In a way, they are not so mistaken. Children of our Great Tribe learn to ride before they learn to walk; they learn to shoot in motion before they learn to shoot while standing; they ride before they learn to live without the horse, and for this reason we might as well be half-breeds. There is a myth our people tell around campfires, the myth of our Tribe's creation and population. It is said that our native homeland, so far from where we are now, was molded into earth and salt and snow by a great celestial Craftsman. To craft our land, he killed his kinswoman-- it has been lost to legend whether this was his sister, his mother, or his cousin-- and tore out her bones and flesh to hammer out on his forge. His name, and her name, have been lost to the eons, but what happened next will be remembered forever in our tradition.

    Tangutar, the Craftsman's younger brother, was a warrior, and a rogue. He sought vengeance on his brother for the kinslaughter he had exercised in the vanity of creation. However, as he was bound by his honor, he had to conceive of a plan to avenge the murder without personally harming the Craftsman. And so he watched his brother, learning his craft, making his plan. One night, after months, or eons (as time moves differently for the Gods) of observation, when the Craftsman was sleeping, Tangutar crept into the world-forge. He lit the furnace and warmed not the material which had been so rudely wrenched from the body of his kin, but the world-hammer itself. And onto his brother's anvil he breathed. First, to create the Eastern Wind (that which blows from east to west). He struck the Eastern Wind once with the world-hammer, and created the bow and arrow, sacred tools of air meant to bring justice to the Craftsman. Second, to create the Western Wind (that which blows from west to east). He struck the Western Wind once with the world-hammer, and created the horse, the animal that most embodies air, more than the camel, or the lizard, or even the hawk. Third, to create the Southern Wind (that which blows from south to north). He struck the Southern Wind once with the world-hammer, and created us: a Tribe of men to serve as the custodians of his vengeance, and to populate his brother's land.

    It is said that Tangutar never got a chance to breathe a wind that blows from north to south onto the anvil, for the third strike of the world-hammer woke his jealous brother, and Tangutar was slaughtered at the same hands that slaughtered the earth-woman. It was too late, however, and already a warrior race empowered to fight and kill the Craftsman had been given life, and horse, and bow-and-arrow to achieve the vengeance of their creator. This is why we are called Oshkum, people of vengeance, and this is why we have such affinity for horses; we are, in a sense, their brothers, born from the same creator for the same purpose. We have names for each of Tangutar’s breath-winds, as well: Nodzal, the Southern Wind; Brunzal, the Western Wind; and Zunzal, the Eastern Wind. The Northern Wind, which our Tribe did not experience until the beginning of its long journey south, and thus may as well have not existed, was named Kotzal.

    This story was nothing but legend for most of my childhood. It was told over the fire, perhaps as a morality tale, or as a traditional myth, when I was young. I remember when I first heard it from my father, my dreams the next night seemed so much more tangible, vivid and colorful; they replayed the story over and over again. Years later, when I was breaching manhood myself, the stories became real. It was my fault, really.

    I am told that I woke the entire camp with my moans that night, and that even when my father shook me awake, I did not truly wake up. Instead, my eyes opened glowing, green and blue and purple in alternating hues, emanating steam like a pot. That night I spoke with the voice of prophecy for the first time, and I shall hope it will be the last time as well. I told my father and his near-kin these words:

    Inhuman and beast-like,
    Bearing and bending the weight of ten thousand men,
    The end of the world shall come.
    It will burn the villages,
    And break the spirits,
    And turn the rains and rivers red with blood.
    On the back of a shadow,
    And the brow of a whisper,
    The apocalypse will bear the name: Kotzal.


    In my native tongue, the words made a more beautiful melody, and my father has told me my own voice was layered with at least one more, and that when I started speaking every pit they had put out earlier in the night was suddenly abreast with flame once more. That flame burned until my prophecy was done, and I collapsed into sleep again, calm as a salt field. That night my father rode from camp to camp, village to village, imploring even the Great King of the Oshkum to heed my warning, and to ride south as fast and hard as possible. All but a few faithful men ignored him, and laughed at him, and ridiculed my prophecy. All but a few perished the next month in the fire that swept across our native plain, and soon my father was the Great King of the Oshkum, with I as their prophet-prince, and our southward journey began. I was a boy when I spoke my prophecy, though nearing manhood at the age of 12, and now, when we find ourselves at our southmost point yet, I am 16, ready to join the men in battle should it ever arise again. Since my prophecy, however, there has been no war among the Oshkum, no plotting, no conflict; we ride as one, united, Great Tribe. United in fear of the fire and plague we know follows us.

    Our journey has been temporarily slowed by this wretched forest and its inhabitants. We will not abandon our horses, but we cannot ride them through the thick trees, and so we must tow them behind us. We know not where the forest ends, if it ever does, or if this is perhaps our final refuge from Kotzal. There is one ray of hope, however: though our southward ride has been years on, the people of this forest seemed to be under the impression that they live in the northern edge of the world, and though we are still working to decipher their language, it seems they speak of vast fields of earth, and grass, and sand, to their south. Our journey will continue until we are stopped by the elements, or killed, or, as I sense my people wish for more and more as time goes on, another prophecy. I am no hero-prophet. I am a loyal rider, my father’s son, and my people’s prince. I hope only that I will not fail them as Kotzal surely grows nearer.

    [Empire- The Oshkum Tribe.

    2 points civilization to an army of horse-archers. 2 more points civilization to make this a horde of horse-archers.

    1 point magic towards a prophecy of northern apocalypse.]
     
    thomas.berubeg and Thlayli like this.
  2. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    9,068
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    SHADUR wakes, and the Dreamer grows.
     
  3. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2012
    Messages:
    544
    The lights flash three times. Everywhere, the audience quiets. The show is set to begin, but, for now, silence.
     
  4. Danwar

    Danwar Warlord

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2017
    Messages:
    227
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Right under your nose
    A quick note - Terres is the name by which most foreign powers refer to the Republic, but the native name for it is Sommos - the difference occured due to a translation failure between Sommos' and Aris-Natar's alphabets. General unease towards Sommos's form of government by the kingdoms and empires of the world has caused the Empire's interpretation to dominate outside the Republic's borders. My signup shall be modified to effect this.
     
  5. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,588
    Location:
    In the desert
    Well, once you’re here you’re here, I suppose. That’s the difference between love and obsession, you know. Love, however powerful, either fades or grows with time. But obsession? An obsession always remains exactly the same.

    ---


    Update 1: The Unremembered Sea


    “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” -Carl Jung

    677 – 695, Southern Calendar

    10 – 28, First Circle

    Of the South:

    There is a problem of heresy in the port of Darail, the Forgetful City. Unlike Arisaras, city of endless luxury and ritual, whose great walls encircle the island’s palaces and hide the Gardens within from curious boatmen and ruby crocodiles, and unlike Rhut, where the endless bounty of jungle fruits and meat is brought north by leopard skin-wearing hunters on barges of sandalwood and bone, Darail is dependent on the bounty of the sea. The Past has always been forbidden to speak of, and unwary mariners telling tall tales at wine-stalls have been lashed to ash and bone by the questing eye of a marid from miles away, as onlookers scramble from the sudden immolation in shock. Such is the Empire’s justice.

    But at a certain point, this became unworkable; there are far more mariners than marids. And so, fifty years ago, Anis-Natar built the Great Darkhouse, a towering obelisk of basalt, whose obsidian mirrors reflect not light, but the black flame of oblivion. Sailors coming to dock at Darail gaze upon the darkhouse, and their memories of the sea are taken from them. Then, the gill-caste (who know of the sea, but who are forbidden to speak) swim alongside and tow the boats to shore, as the sailors no longer know how to sail. And for a time, this resolved the problem. But now, more ships are coming, and sometimes dock at smaller ports or hidden sandy coves, smuggling both goods and stories.

    Rather than accept that the knowledge of the Sea is inevitable, the Empire has begun to crack down on smuggling, expanding up both coasts to build networks of smaller darkhouses like black pearls linked by a slender necklace of road, with orange-eyed garrisons to protect the keepers. But this only worsens the larger, broader crisis: The Crisis of Sustenance. The waters of the jeweled Dakh do not bring forth food fit for humans. Only the priests of the purple cult know the secret of drawing forth food from the scorched land, a secret which secures both their privilege and power. But as we mentioned, the food Azzatar’s boon allows them to raise is far from sufficient for the groaning stomachs of the Empire’s hundreds of thousands in countless small cities and towns.

    The darkhouses prevent the spread of the heresy of Sea, but if anything, they discourage the necessary trade to address the Crisis. The ships’ memories are supposed to be returned when they leave, but it is a delicate process, and the dark-keepers botch it on occasion, leaving a woman with an intense love for another’s husband, or a desire to see children they have never had, or worse, they misplace the memories entirely, and the sailors are left blank slates to relearn their lives.

    Three priestly councils gathered inconclusively to consider the Crisis of Sustenance. The conservative faction proclaimed famine was preferable to heresy; we must all suffer in life, to some degree. The progressive faction complained that the widespread hunger will ultimately undermine the faith of the people in Azzatar, and a new Age of Rebellions would be worse than famine. This deadlock continued for quite some time, until it was finally broken at the fourth conclave. In an amphitheater of tiger’s eye deep within the desert, the high priest T’namar Half-Marid, Foremost of Lions, he of the great white-maned pelt and skull-helm, whose ancient orange eyes are an endless ember glow, gave prophecy. More patient than a marid, far stronger than a mortal, he intoned:


    “Our ancient enemy, Spring, returns.”

    “We must yoke the season, or slay it,”

    “Or the green shall devour us.”


    A prophecy now lies upon two others.

    Elsewhere in the South, there are unsettling happenings. Alarmed by the expansion of Anis-Natar into their traditional hunting grounds, and the burning death that follows, the Kfeji decide to break an ancient taboo. They decide to enter the valley of hollow bones, a sacred burial ground that has been off limits for as long as they can remember. A dry riverbed runs through the valley, scorched to the stones in an ancient war. The valley is pock-marked with caves, in which the Kfeji shamans, ancestrally, are air-mummified, seated upright. Now the raucous hundreds of rope-linked caravan camels disturb this ancient peace. The Kfeji think themselves safe here. I’m sure they’re right.

    Other things affect the Kfeji, as well – an influx of refugees. A great mountain of fire bursts out of the dunes in the midst of the Xtri lands. The Xtri scatter, fleeing in all directions as many die. Over half of the Xtri die off in the following years as falling ash kills many of the animals they rely on. But a spring of water bursts forth from the mountain’s base, carving its way through the desert dunes towards the sea, and the ash is found to be quite fertile for plantings. In the following years, many elders speak of a vision of a great dragon that lies beneath the sea, which has offered this terrible gift in return for worship, and it will offer more gifts if honor is given it.

    The first warrior of the Xtri, the famed sand-dancer Salap Scarab-Skin, voices disgust at this new god, preferring to honor the memory of Ktse the Lost. But Ktse is long dead, and does not offer gifts of fire and water, so the Xtri exile him and his warriors, who offer their services to their old rivals, the Kfeji. For their part, the Xtri are now abandoning their ancient herding ways, settling in the new river valley, and are building a stone temple adorned with the face of the dragon seen in their visions.

    Further to the south still, these distractions help others avoid notice, as they prefer.

    Of the North:

    Oh, woe. A thing comes that was not looked for, nor wanted. A dark star, falling. Azzatar saw it, as her cold peaks reach towards even the bleakest stars, and none approach the world of her dominion from outside without her awareness. Yet, she judges it beneath her notice. Many stars fall and things claim dominion, but to acknowledge them is to give them power. Azzatar is wise. One does not shackle Fire without a measure of wisdom; perhaps you too can consider this instructive.

    But it falls nonetheless, in trackless reaches of northern forest. The impact it makes is not one of smoking stone and blasted trees. No, that is what you would expect though, isn’t it? The crater that it forms is one upon the psychocosmos, and thousands (in the North, and the East, but not the South) have disturbing nightmares on that night. Nightmares of a droning, building wail from an obelisk, but not the sound as much as the promise, the promise of yet-inconceivable horrors to come.

    And for most, most, mercifully, that one disturbed night is all that comes of the matter. But sadly, for some, it is far worse. The Naami retreat to the safety of their trees and hang new charms, and they beg, and it saves almost all of them. The Kurom are less lucky; an entire decade of children is lost. In the East, which we are yet to speak of, the voice strikes at random, perhaps wanting more, or ALL, but the etheric drama is interfered with, by other things. Even so, in those farms and villages and nascent cities it takes a few, even an udyn or two. They must walk, and some are killed or restrained, or taken apart by clinical minds. But most escape north, since for these cursed beings, these zemmi, there is no obstacle too great.

    There is only, Shadur.

    But Shadur is not alone. There was a balance, in dream, of nightmare and hope. This balance was disturbed by its arrival. Even as Shadur laid its curse upon the world, another force began to act in boon. Do you know the feeling when you have dreamed of what you always wanted, and the sickening lurch when you awaken instead to your cold reality? I do. Imagine if you instead awakened to realize it was all true. Dreams of healing and love suddenly made manifest, strange reappearances and inexplicable gifts. People on the edge of despair, given courage. People on the edge of disillusion, given hope. Gifts they did not deserve, but neither too did (most of) the zemmi deserve their curse.

    Shadur, also, must confront something strange, something that is not of itself. An odd shard of love, of regret for its actions. WHO DID IT? How did they do it? Someone has weakened it with this unaccountable impulse of mercy. It can no longer freely revel in the twisting of minds to fit its desire. This splinter of regret must be expunged. But for that, the enemy must be found, and utterly broken. As for the enemy, they too have a poison. We will speak of this at the East’s very end.

    For her part, the black doe with red eyes views the new voice in the North with annoyance. These are her forests, and her prey. Its whispers drown out her own, and her prey now feel other fears. And worse, the curse has not abated; it continues to pull humans out of the forest. Her population of prey will soon be depleted at this rate, with Shadur’s greed. It voices a protest in the form of a sudden gust of wind that pushes a zemmi into a ravine, and another that brings a pine bough crashing onto a small group’s heads. Perhaps it will get the message. Perhaps.

    As is often the case when a region is subsumed by overwhelming evil, what becomes more notable than the people that stay are those trying to leave. This leads us to an interesting anecdote, the one of Vyndra. Rumors say her entire family were made zemmi, and she slew them with her own hands to prevent their madness. The river-harpoon she slew them with, stained red with their blood, remained so; an artifact of transcendent rage that empowered and consumed the mad huntress. She cut a swath of destruction through the forest to the sea, looking perhaps for the progenitor of her sorrow, but lacking the magic to find it, killing everything else instead. Although not a servant of Shadur, we doubt the being looks ill on such collateral damage.

    The chaos of this was only ended when she met her match – a great and mighty beast, the ram-serpent Nathrom, known throughout the East by legend. The very rumor of their clash was enough to drive entire tribes (the Atamites, who were less and now are little) out of the region, but what transpired on that pine-lined promontory was something other. Something strange. A mutual madness, a joining of things. Even the Carnish (whose ships are immune to even a ram-serpent’s ram) now tread carefully in these waters. For the ram-serpent now bears a rider, and she seeks yet-greater prey.

    The waters are also destined to pass through the North, to the East. Perhaps it is inevitable that people do as well. But what is this, that now passes beneath the trees? What are these beasts, no elk or boar! These maned monsters are not creatures of this world. They are called horses, and the ones that seat them are called riders. This unholy magic has never been imagined. This no dog, to run alongside, no ox to pull before. This is something entirely new and terrible. Not even the Kfeji have had the audacity to ride their caravan camels. But so be it. The world is changing, so even this horrible atrocity of a technology is to be borne. But to them of course, riding is noble, and it is life. These people, if people is what they are, go by the foreign name of Oshkum.

    But life they have also left behind, because of prophecy. The prophecy that has been made, of course, is that apocalypse will come to their world, which truly beyond our own. (Not the Mountain’s, but yours.) A being comes with the voice of the Northern wind, a being they name Kotzal. But I suspect that even the dullest among you know its other name, do you not. Not to say that any of you are dull. Truly. But coming out of the utmost west (not West, there is no West, not yet) as they are, they still have the entire vast immensity of the North to cross before they can even come to that destined cradle, that candle to moths such as these, the East. Thousands of horses and plains-riders now pick their uncertain paths between the vast, unknowable, and entirely unfriendly trees.

    It entirely remains to be seen if the gods will let them pass.

    Of the East (and especially, its flowers):

    Unaccountable flowerings.

    Yes, I’ve made you wait long enough. I’m sure you have been wondering with bated breath, “But what came of the Lion’s prophecy?” That is, if you’ve been paying attention. Well, the priests themselves debated the prophecy. What did he mean, yoke OR slay? That “or” bothered them. And what Spring? The old spring is dead and buried in the Past, and no tree in the South has flowered since, without the Mountain’s leave. And nothing indicates a change. In the South. But there was a change, a great change, in the East.

    The specifics are a matter for theurges and astrologers to consider, but this much is a matter of record: It was near to, if not within, the Great Delta where the Prophet of Spring was born amongst the Gahadi. And this is also believed to be of whom T’namar prophesied. Although no one was recording this at the time, many say that year of his birth was exceptionally bountiful. But the greatest bounty it brought forth was the gardener, the greenmage, the life child, emerald-ringed Haadulf.

    He did not seek attention, or speak weighty doctrines, or attempt to lead others. He merely loved to grow and overflowed with knowledge of plants. And to him they responded, growing in days what might take others a season to cultivate. A bounty of this level was a revolution. Not simply surplus food, but wood, flax, hemp, honey, dyes – an explosion of luxuries and commodities in an incredibly short time. He was quite happy to teach, or at least pleasantly ambivalent. And although none ever gained his aptitude to make flowers and fruits spring forth like dew at dawn, many whom he taught gained similar, if lesser, blessings. And those followers in turn became the evangelists of a bright new religion based on Haadulf’s visions, the Wheel of Leaves.

    Haadulf’s early life was spent being bartered like a commodity among the tribes of the Rivers, but this gradually led to them all gaining equal reverence and respect for him, and each considering him of their own. Simultaneously, this also led to an immense increase in prestige for the family bloodline of his people, the Gahadi, leading to a spate of new intermarriages which the Gahadi skillfully used to forge alliances uniting the entire Delta region, becoming first-among-equals in a new republic, or “Circle,” as they called it, based around council meetings to gain the peaceful consensus of tribal leaders.

    Southern esotericists speculate as to whether the green spirit was the return of Ktse, while mystics may question whether Elaadi (of whom we will speak) was the originator. But most believe it was neither of these, if we are to believe the gardener’s own words. In an immeasurably short time, the Wheel of Leaves and its priests swept through the Four Rivers like a warm wind, and even began to gain a few adherents in ports across the sea. A religion that promises food is a popular religion indeed. And the heart of it, their holy city and their greatest work, a flowering city in the Delta, surrounded by river boats of living wood with sails of fantastic colors. To it, hungry migrants came from far and wide, even some udyn pushed out by the decline of their traditional fisheries.

    Named after the gardener’s tribe and kin, those first and most passionate to embrace his craft, sprung up the garden city of Gahad in the Delta’s heart. O! Great Gahad, of whom countless hymns are wrote! The city of flowers and warmth, of pink petals floating in scented canals, where one need only turn to see countless trees bearing fruit so sweet to smell and taste that you will cry, and fall to the ground, and cry again. A city of roots growing around foundation stones, and benches soft with moss to comfort. Of the freshest water one could imagine, purified by the roots of certain trees and returned to flow through flower-carved stone sluice and into vine-circled basin.

    It is a city where one need not ask for hospitality, for all are welcome, and all is abundance. There was no money, for there was no need of it; all could find and take what they needed. Poverty and deprivation were unseen, unknown. They built a paradise with the combined magic of the many learners Haadulf had taught in childhood, and from it like spring pollen spread its philosophy of goodness and growth. Into their Circle, other tribes and cities were adopted, with all leaders’ voices given equal say and time to speak.

    Oh, what a dangerous thing, to give without expectation of return! To grow, thinking it can only bring harmony! I wish I could tell you that no tragedy would come of this. But this is not a child’s story.

    One day a being appeared in the sky over young Gahad. Flames trailed like banners from her eye-sockets, and her skin glowed like molten copper. In her forehead, a ruby, bright with power. Wrapped with flickering bandages, hands bound with thongs marking ancient southern seals of service. A bright marid, a beautiful, terrible spirit of fire made flesh, heretofore a legend in the East. She lifted her hand, and brought not the expected death, but a message, melted into the stones of a gathering place.

    To the Circle of Gahad and their Prophet

    The Empire offers friendship, once. We will grant your land autonomy in our empire. Your homes will be cold no longer, for jarred fire and wine shall be given freely. You may continue to grow certain plants, for which you will be rewarded. And your people may continue to believe whatever they wish, in private. But the gardener must surrender to me. If he does this, the Empire will offer him protection, and he shall live out his days tending the Garden of Arisaras.

    If you refuse or delay, your lives and spirits are forfeit, and your prophet will be executed as a rebel. And to the gardener himself: Think of your people, and what you have grown. Do not make them suffer needlessly for your sake.

    In Azzatar’s name, in the six hundred and ninety-fifth year of Her Ascendancy,

    T’namar, Hierophant of Anis-Natar

    Now, the Gahadi and their allies face a terrible choice. Hand over their hero and messiah to this unknown empire of the South, and then accept their rule and whatever that may bring. Or fight a terrible, desperate war for survival, and with it the death and devastation that will come to the many tribes of the Circle in victory or defeat.

    For their part, the Circle councils did not even need to debate the terms. Their consensus was unanimous: They will die before they hand over Haadulf. But as they prepare now to face a war they do not know how to fight, to defend themselves against this Anis-Natar…what will Haadulf himself say? How will he respond to T’namar’s message? There are many fierce followers now across the Rivers who would lay down their lives like broken twigs in winter for their Circle and its hero. But is that worth it?

    Whatever he decides, all the Circle now knows what is coming. Perhaps it will be years, even decades, before they come. But the Empire will come.

    ---

    But there is another matter, another claimant to Spring. Some also attributed this, wrongly, to Haadulf’s doings, inadvertently leading to the spread of the Circle. But Nature flourished throughout the East in places Haadulf never traveled to or imagined. Isolated forests, mostly unsettled or seen only by nameless hunters, became taller, their creatures larger and more majestic, their silences more profound. A sense of sacredness pervaded these holy groves, and tales spread about their majesty. A certain name, Elaadi, was whispered, mostly by isolated woodsmen living at their fringes who heard it in dreams. Unlike the Wheel, it seems not to be interested in mortals, instead in defending, or at least dwelling, within the deep wildernesses of the East. As such, these groves are, and remain, mostly a mystery, and the nature of the god which deepens them the same. Scattered as they are across the land, most have yet to connect the appearance of these groves to a single being.

    To say it sleeps is a crude term; no, it is safer to say it is a being for which individual consciousness would be fraud. Perhaps the being does not know its ancient incarnations, for the act of knowing is itself something it has overgrown, rather than simply being. But that is the two-sided coin of nature, cultivation and wildness, mind and action. The flowers in your window box are as much nature as the great trees of the forest. But these are two separate natures of nature. It is a useful lesson for the student of Spring, because in this case it was overlooked by the learned. What was overlooked, for now, by all the priesthoods of Azzatar, and even the one that prophesied, was that the Enemy was this one, also.


    Of the East (and particularly, its seas):


    Now we have told you of the great drama of Spring. But across the seas and rills of the East, lesser dramas unfold as well, as the flourishing of seaborne trade and the sudden surplus of trade goods from the south (no, not that South) creates need for ports to distribute, kings to steal, and bandits to rule. Or did I reverse that. Ports to steal…no, no… We name these young ports: Carn, Terres, and Ipha. They seek more, as all humans do, but particularly dominion, over the sea, the land, and the mind, respectively.

    In the lands of Carn, the rocks tumble down to the sea, piled like black boulders thrown by oracle-giants. But that story is almost entirely untrue; I have heard the oracle-giants are lovely people, and you know how rumors get. The land is steep, hilly, and green, with, where the sea wind is not too strong, great groves of chestnut, maple, and pine. Herding and fishing are the ways to survive here, and human bucks lock antlers to rule their herds. I am only being partially euphemistic, for the great antler-crown is now fiercely disputed among Carn’s potentates, men of great red beards and ruddy cheeks, and eyes like the sea-green of their banner. These are men that laugh in the jaws of monsters, and their king must laugh harder and louder than them all.

    Let me tell you the legend of Arthmaelix, Founder-King. (This is also a story of the North.)

    When the Carns were not even a kingdom, their father Briac but one chieftain among hundreds, young Arthmael set out to prove himself above his kin. He journeyed to a place none of his ancestors had ever dared to tread: The North. (This was long before Shadur came, but even in those days it was still a place of awe and dread.) He hunted, and was hunted by, great beings. A strong swimmer, he found and treated with the fisher-king, and the god of the waters, amused at the first human to ever brave his halls, granted the ruddy adventurer three scale-fletched arrows of silverfin bone, with which to accomplish a thing that would benefit them both.

    Months later, in the half-ruined shard of a broken mountain temple surrounded by trackless acres of forest, he found the god-stag singing. His aim was as true as his ambition, and he pierced it with the three arrows that struck it dumb with the force of the waterfall. He butchered the stunned god, and from its antlers made a helm, and its fur a cape. He took the blood, but as warned, did not drink of it. He took the brain, and threw it in the water, as he had promised the fisher-king. But he made a mistake. He did not burn the skinned carcass upon the altar. (This was not his fault, for the fisher-king knew nothing of fire. But a mistake nonetheless.) For the rest of his days, Arthmael claimed to have slew a god entire. But he was somewhat wrong.

    A small piece of the antler snapped against a tree on Arthmael’s return journey. This is not important yet, but it will be. And years later, years later, the stag reawakened on that forbidden mountaintop, filled with terrible, terrible silence. But Arthmael would never learn of this. The tokens of his victory over a distant god won him immense fame, not simply among his father’s tribe but the wider seas beyond. He became Arthmaelix, Founder-King, and a score of tribes swore fealty.

    The Carnish and their neighbors, having much wood and little land, had long taken to the sea for wealth and glory. But now they raised antler-prows upon their ships. And much were those ships feared, and the warriors upon them, for each prow was smeared with a small piece of the god’s blood, and each ship held a timber embedded with a bone splinter from the scale-fletched arrows. Thanks to this, their timbers would break at no rival’s ram, and their hulls founder in no storm.

    Unlike any before, the fleet of Arthmaelix carried the Carns across the Eastern seas, winning fealty from countless tribes on both coasts. They raided the port of Terres, and even the hidden coves of the Udyns, as their traditional protections were cleaved by these god-ships. But it is a fragile confederacy, held together only by prestige and brute strength, not even a common tongue among the many slaves who crew the Hornéd Fleet. And then, great Arthmael, having given the forbidden boon of god’s blood to his fleet and not himself, died an aged and glorious sojourner. But his glory was such that no one king could equal him. So, his brothers, Judoc, Tanguy, and Argant, ruled as tripartite kings, none of them equaling the elder. This ends the Founder-King’s story, but not the one after.

    Our new hero is Maelis Once-Queen, wife of Arthmaelix, who alone among all the Carnish women had enough furor and temper to catch and keep the king’s eye. Would that she was a man, for in her is the steel to row alone into the sea, fleeing from certain execution with the babe she would make a king and a godslayer like his father. And to declaim while she does it, no mean feat of multitasking. She was able to escape, though, and raise the child Morvan in isolation, training him with resolve that does not fade with age. As the child grew, Maelis flew ever further to avoid the questing sails of her brothers in laws’ fleet, and eventually fled to the one place where the fleet could not find her: The mountains. By this time the boy was thirteen. Maelis, ever ambitious, sought and found an oracle-giant in the snow, a thing thought impossible. It sat roasting a mountain ram over a fire, and merely gestured with a three-fingered hand to a cave, not opening its great eye in fear of killing them both.

    Within, they found something long-lost, something that is truly not theirs, nor any mortal’s. (But as we have learned, this family and this empire’s, [and perhaps all empires’,] fortunes are founded on taking things that belong to others.) A thing that young Morvan held in his untested hand. A shard, perhaps, of metaphor more than metal. Not a sword, as much as an idea from which the principle of swords drew creative inspiration. “As long as you hold it,” the oracle-giant murmurs from its feast, “your glory shall live.”

    The saga of Morvanix, it seems, begins.

    Terres has taken another path. Unlike Carn, whose region is reminiscent of a crumpled-up tissue, the hinterland of Terres is wide and flat, occupying a broad gap between two mountain ranges. A decent amount of rain falls, but not too much, making the flatlands perfect for the cultivation of grain and law. Like many recently-civilized tribes, they have great faith in the power of organized violence. Unlike others, they have both the belief in logical applications of knowledge, and the resources to put their dominating impulses into practice. To disdain the gods and magic, of course, is both intelligent and foolish. It is intelligent, because yes, the gods truly are terrible despots who usually care little for mortals, who can best take care of their own. It is foolish, because, well, even they’re awful, they can still sink your land into the ocean or turn it into a volcano, and only the presumption that it’s their land keeps them from doing so.

    Perhaps on rumors from the river-lands, Terres has also decided to abandon kingship for a Circle of their own, albeit guided not by consensus, but a code of laws that governs every conceivable interaction between humans. These laws of the city-sages, along with the ancient prophecy that “one must unite all, lest darkness fall,” have served as a crude but effective bludgeon of nascent nationalism. (Some of the few people who can actually read have noted that the wording of the prophecy didn’t specifically mention Terres as the one force that will unite the lands, but I mean come on, who else could it possibly refer to?)

    An influx of foreigners and Carnish piracy upon their seas has caused an outpouring of militarism, but the region lacks the correct type of wood for shipbuilding, so instead they have decided to form an army. They have leather armor and some bows and arrows, and some enterprising caravans have traded grain for bronze swords from the South, so it’s a start, as it has allowed them to start menacing their neighbors and forcing poor vagrant plains-people to instead farm sweet, sweet taxable grain. Those caravans themselves have come under attack from groups of eyohoi, pack-hunting ostrich-sized carnivorous birds who roam the great plains with disturbing intelligence and speed. This has forestalled further southern expansion, for now.

    But northern expansion proceeds apace. The poor sods between Carn and Terres are now really getting it from both ends, so hill-forts are now popping up like mushrooms across the countryside. They are currently considering the relative merits of slavery, selling to the highest bidder, and just getting the hell out of here. Apparently there’s a flower-city that’s nice?

    A number of cults have spread in the young cities, although the civic code of Terres’ remains hostile to foreign religion. The Wheel of Leaves is present, but so too is the Cult of the Boundary, an armored warrior-god often named Enamon, who is given the form of the spirit of the city, and whose clearest commandment is to demarcate the state’s borders and to protect them. It’s more complicated than that, but most people can only remember simple rules. Some might say this is just a crude attempt to create state propaganda in order to provide a religious justification for mass genocide, but, well…actually, those people are mostly right. Nonetheless, the warrior cults are popular among warriors, who would have guessed.

    But there is more to that warrior cult. Enamon in Terres, Emmanix in Carn…he is an old, half-forgotten entity, the Boundary. Warriors make a fair enough tool, but for the purpose of cutting and separation. Roads, walls, all these things are ancient tools. But swords are most effective for the Boundary. For centuries, there were no boundaries. She took so much from him, even his name and his past. War without victory, separation without unity – that is where he grows, and his captor brought the opposite. Did these new boundaries revive him, or was it the other way around? But the glory he was, yes, this could be remembered, if enough cuts are made. For now, the doormaker tells her patron, let him be. You have more immediate concerns. But now there is a particular warrior of interest.

    A certain number also do not exactly worship Shadur, but they pray that he will stay away. Others give pleas to the Dreamer to protect them from the zemmi curse, the one whose true name is unknown but whose gifts are not. Well, unknown to them, not to us: The dreamer’s true name is Alai, or at least, that is the name that has been chosen for him. This leads us, at last, to Iphu.

    Unlike the states of Carn and Terres, who, let’s be honest with ourselves, are basically crime-lords, Iphu formed not for the purpose of controlling others, but understanding themselves. The people of the Iphupha, the place between the two mountains, were so isolated that they barely remembered the outside world exists. They lived their own, idiosyncratic existence, sculpting the land of the fertile valley between the two great mountains and the sea into terraces for their farms. And this was fine, until one day, everyone fell asleep. Why did the crows not pick out their eyes? They slept too. Who cut their hair? And what about the bathroom? Look, I’m not here to answer all your questions. Go ask them yourself.

    But what transpired when they awakened? They were happy, as their dreams had been good, although those among them that knew the stars could determine that a very, very long time had passed. And a man had passed through all their dreams, like a shooting star through countless constellations.

    But why did this happen? Ah, this question I can answer. They all awakened eighteen years to the day after Shadur’s arrival. Yet, not one of them was affected by the zemmi curse, unique to all the peoples of the East. So, this is the answer: The falling of Shadur, the imbalance of the psychocosmos towards nightmare, pushed into being a countervailing force. The benevolent dreamer was born, in this moment, and its awakening put the people of Iphu to sleep in a pleasant dream, an equal and opposite reaction to that first nightmare unleashed upon the world. As to why it lasted eighteen years...there are theories.

    It was a wandering tinker-shaman, an umaki, who came to Iphupha in the midst of the Dreaming. He was one of those people who sometimes cross the hills of the East to offer small gifts to the nature-spirits that dwell in isolated regions, and to receive in return hospitality from all the tribes that they pass through, for this is a service that benefits all of society. What he found, however, was an awakened child in the midst of a sleeping valley. He named him Alai, and raised him as his son. Together they ventured far across the isle, and they saw many things: Sacred groves of Elaadi filled with golden-tailed pheasants the size of bulls, udyn clans playing with urchin-balls on rocky shores, and many other such natural wonders.

    Eventually, as he became a man, Alai grew to know something of himself, although he still struggles with his nature. Inside him is a shard of evil, a twisted violence that belies his gentle kindness. Although he is kind and loves people, he also sees their weakness, how easily they can be broken, and how satisfying, on some level, it is to feel them break inside, and revel in the intoxicating feeling of their terror. He resists this part of him, hates it even, and he knows it comes from someone, something, else. He must find it and defeat the source of this evil; that must be why he was born. But where? How? He must leave the island and cross the Past.

    The awakening of Alai offered one final boon to the dreamers. Many of the people of Iphu now have exceptional power over dreams, and to heal and impart mental stability to others through this power. The people of Iphu, when they awakened, gathered together, and resolved to establish a place of learning to understand what had happened to them, and to help their unknown patron however they could – and perhaps the world as well. They look to the unremembered sea, the world without, and to the remembered dream, the world within. They are asleep. They are awake.











    You may observe a new clime in spring green. It is that of the sacred grove. Exploitation would have exciting consequences.

    ---

    Stats:

    Those who dwell in the South

    Gods:

    Azzatar, the Amethyst
    Magic: 10
    Civ: 0
    Heroes:
    Holdings: The Land, The Fire, The Swallowed Past

    Empires:

    The Empire of Anis-Natar
    Magic: 4
    Civ: 6
    Heroes: Afrakt Ghul, The Fire (6/2), The Despot Children (3/1)*, T’namar, Foremost of Lions (4/4)
    Holdings: 6 orange-eyed legions, 17 marids, 149 part-marid lion-priests, the Jeweled Dakh
    Cities: Arisaras, Rhut, Darail
    *A prophecy has been made

    The Tribe of Kfeji
    Magic: 1
    Civ: 2
    Heroes: Salap Scarab-Skin (3/1)
    Holdings: A vial of Ktse’s holy blood

    The Tribe of Xtri
    Magic: 1
    Civ: 2
    Heroes:
    Cities: Xtaita
    Holdings: Favor of the sea-dragon

    Heroes:

    No independent heroes

    Those who dwell in the North*

    A prophecy lies upon the North itself, oh woe.

    Gods:

    Shadur
    Magic: 3
    Civ: 0
    Holdings: Perhaps 1,000 zemmi, the whispering curse (on others), a curse of unwanted mercy (on itself)

    A red-eyed black doe of the northern valleys
    Magic: 4
    Civ: 0
    Holdings: Moonless nights

    The Fisher-King
    Magic: 3
    Civ: 3
    Heroes:
    Holdings: 2 companies of silverfinned guards, Voice of the Torrent

    The slaughtered stag
    Magic: 2
    Civ: 0
    Heroes: A certain smith (0/1)*
    A prophecy has been made

    Empires:

    The Tribe of Naami
    Magic: 2
    Civ: 1
    Heroes:
    Holdings: Forbearance of sacred trees

    The Tribe of Kurom
    Magic: 1
    Civ: 1
    Heroes:
    Holdings: Gradually increasing terror

    The Tribe of Oshkum
    Magic: 2
    Civ: 2
    Heroes: The prophet-prince (2/2)
    Holdings: A great horde of horse-archers

    Heroes: No independent heroes

    Those who dwell in the East

    Gods:

    The Ring of Leaves
    Magic: 3
    Civ: 1
    Holdings: 54 green-priests and many faithful

    Elaadi*
    Magic: 3
    Civ: 0
    Holdings: A profligacy of sacred groves
    *A prophecy has been made

    Enamon, the Boundary
    Magic: 1
    Civ: 2
    Holdings: A shard, lent. Certain warrior-cultists.

    Who’s This?
    Magic: 2
    Civ: 1
    Holdings: I don’t quite know.

    Empires:

    The Circle of Gahad
    Magic: 2
    Civ: 3
    Heroes: Haadulf, Prophet of Leaves (3/2)*
    Cities: Great Gahad
    Holdings: Unprecedented abundance
    *A prophecy has been made

    The Kingdom of the Carns
    Magic: 0
    Civ: 2
    Heroes: The fools have exiled them.
    Cities:
    Holdings: Regalia of Arthmaelix, The Hornéd Fleet

    The Circle of Terres*
    Magic: 0
    Civ: 3
    Heroes:
    Cities: Terres proper
    Holdings: 1 bronze-burnished army, sacred city-codes
    *A prophecy has been made

    Iphu
    Magic: 2
    Civ: 1
    Heroes:
    Holdings: 18 awakened dreamers

    The Tribe of Atami
    Magic: 0
    Civ: 1
    Heroes: Lol.
    Holdings. Haha.

    Heroes (independent):

    Hakta Longswimmer (2/2) (udyn)

    Alai (2/1) [The body of the Dreamer, A curse of unwanted hatred]

    Morvan, son of Arthmaelix (3/3)* [The boundary-shard - death’s own edge, Once-Queen Maelis (0/1)]
    A prophecy has been made

    Vyndra, the Mad Huntress (0/3) [Nathrom, the Serpent-Ram, (2/0)]


    Those who dwell in the Past

    Ktse, Daughter of Spring
    Magic: 0 (dead)
    Civilization: 1
    Holdings: Remnant artifacts in the southern desert

    The Doormaker
    Magic: -1
    Civilization: -1
    Holdings: Services in transgression

    That sea-dragon or something
    Magic: 2
    Civilization: 0
    Holdings: The Xtri

    ---

    OOC: Well, it seems you all have some interesting choices to make. Perhaps you are...dissatisfied with your portrayal in this tale? Or the number of shells in your sand-pile? I encourage you to send all your complaints to the Past for a swift response. (The tide.) But in all seriousness, you're the one who decided to play with people's lives in a game. Don't be so upset if you get played with in return.

    However, I will admit that there are certain imbalances, albeit acknowledging that these are natural in life. If you'd like to correct them, or make them worse, you know how. With quality. If you're here, you're already of it. If you remain, it can only increase. So let's continue on, shall we.

    You may spend the points of all the gods, heroes, and empires that you personally have control of, however I would advise you against 'pooling' points of separate entities unless it makes logical sense to do so. Do clarify where the points are coming from. But remember: Your tools and your stories are always more important than your points.

    Two weeks seems appropriate to fully appreciate the consequences of what you have done. The 20th of September is when we will do this again.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  6. Danwar

    Danwar Warlord

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2017
    Messages:
    227
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Right under your nose

    In the wake of Sommos' victories over the barbarian clans on the border, a troubling trend has begun to emerge - the conquered
    people are resisting. Not an unexpected trend, but a trend no less. The Circle (now the Council) has approved a bill to reform the administration of conquered territories to reduce civil unrest and strengthen the Republic's control over them by making these lands a better, less lawless place to live. (2 Civ points.) This system shall work as thus:
    ---
    1. Two people will oversee governance of each Province, a Representative and a Governor.
    2. The Representative is elected by the people of each Province, and the Governor is appointed by the Council.
    3. The Representative is in charge of the province's contributions to the Republic, such as taxes, and will be allowed a seat on the Council to represent the conquered people a year after the initial conquest.
    4. The Governor is in charge of the Republic's contributions to the Province, such as laws (although the Representative can veto any proposed law once per term, and no aspect of that law can be implemented without explicit and official approval of the Representative.), state-funded construction projects, and matters of military and defence pertaining specifically to the Province.
    5. Each Representative will be allowed a term of two years, after which another local election will be held for the next Representative. Each Governor will be allowed a term of one year, after which they must return to Sommos unless the Council confirms them for another term.
    6. Each Province is formed out of cultural, linguistic and religious (where applicable) groups, preferring to keep the ethnic groups divided by culture, not division.
    7. In the case of the denizens of a Province revolting, they will lose their right to participate in Elections even if they were Citizens beforehand. In addition, a foreign nation supporting a rebellion is considered an act of war unless otherwise stated by the Council.
    8. This law shall be put into effect in perpetuity, meaning it will remain in effect until it is changed or removed.
    ---

    This major administrative reform will allow Sommos to better administrate conquered lands.

    In addition, with the acquisition of bronze tools and armaments and the ability to manufacture them, Sommos would prosper from the acquisition of tin or copper to more easily make bronze. The Council has passed another bill to resettle the poor and downtrodden in the City itself to the mountains in the East, founding a mining village where they will be allowed to start a new life as a miner. Copper and tin will be prioritized but even stone quarried from these mountains will be helpful to Sommos. (1 Civ point.)

    Meanwhile, the barbarians of the North must be civilized. With a general appointed by the Council, our glorious Army will campaign in these regions to integrate these areas into the Republic and bring law and civilization to them.
    (Rename the bronze-shod army the Farocos Ar Rol Translation: Blades of Law and have them continue campaigning against the northern clans, establishing new provinces where possible and, during the winter months, overseeing that the election of new Representatives is free and fair.)

    Multiple other proposals circled through the Council, but none were put into effect either due to lack of resources on Sommos' part or simply lack of consensus. However, the Republic continues its rise and stands ready to continue to claim the territories around itself. We shall conquer and bring law and order to these lands for the betterment of the peoples living there and the betterment of our own Republic. Glory be to Sommos!
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
  7. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,588
    Location:
    In the desert
    I will add that unless someone would like to bend time again (you know who you are), the next turn will transpire over a period of 10 years.
     
    thomas.berubeg likes this.
  8. TheMeanestGuest

    TheMeanestGuest Warlord

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    One, two, Hyric's coming for you / Three, four, better bar your door / Five, six, he can't be tricked / Seven, eight, he knows your fate / Nine, ten, never seen again
    - Naami children's jumping rhyme

    --
    Shadows linger strangely beneath the trees, and the kiss of the sun falls sickly-sweet. The birds chirp listlessly, their song scattered and dull. And there, that peculiar wrongness, pulse-thrumming, limbs tingling as if poised before a drop. Best not think on it. Hyric’s father told him it hadn't always been so, that their people had been contented by the honest toils of the wild, had sang and feasted to fete the summer, and dreamed of easier lives for their children. His father was dead. Killed by a man gone zem on the road, eyes taken, guts spilled out and neatly tied to the branches of a tree. It doesn’t do to dwell on it, and they knew better now.

    Hyric’s mother wove red feathers through his long brown hair, no tears upon her face. He bid goodbye his kin, a sense of purpose held close to heart. Four years ago the village shaman had been found dead on a hot and sweltered night, unmarked, lying in his bed. Chual had suffered that year with little to protect it against the depredations of the wood and the ravages of hunger. There had been talk of picking up, of each and all of them taking the long march south to avail themselves of distant ties of blood. Three years ago in summer the moon-shaman came - his eyes grey and piercing, his beard black and thick. He said his name was Brettic, and he favoured them with his unguents and potions, healing their untended wounds. With patience and care he’d shown them new ways to live. When all had feared the touch of the curse, he’d cured a man drowned in drink and sorrow-filled with naught but tea and prayer. He drew boundaries about their gardens, that fruits and tubers should grow again in bounty. He sat them beneath the full moon’s light, and they burned offerings of venison and pike in respectful sacrifice to the northern wind, that it might show them favour and trouble other folk. On moonless nights he gibbered and screamed, speaking in riddles and cursing obscenities at the sky. Better not to think about it.

    And so Hyric stood next to Brettic astride the northern track, three spears at his side and bag upon his back. The shaman daubed ashen paint across Hyric’s brow as he whispered a simple nightward prayer. “Your turn to go, duty-bound, a promise has been made,” the shaman said.

    “I know,” Hyric replied.

    “Then go,” and he need say no more than that. No ritual nor song. There was no place for such things in this regard; the forest took what it was due. Each year in trance the supplicant was revealed. Go north and become zem. This was the bargain that had been struck. And so Hyric set off down the path, tall trees looming darkly overhead. Few troubles were there to occupy him, and his mind was strangely calm. The world itself had seemed odd to him of late, as if things weren’t as they should be. As if it was all a lie. No more than a story told by nightfire, a figment, a dream. These thoughts had settled hazily, until it simply was as such. At times he told himself he went for his village, for his family and his friends, that he went because it was right. But in truth it simply didn’t matter anymore, not his mother’s loving words or the smile of a pretty girl, neither the hunt or the dance nor a full hot meal. No. He left because he could, because it was an end, because perhaps he’d see past the world’s facade. He put one foot in front of the other, the wood quiet about him, the smell of pine’s sap on the wind.

    On the fifth day Hyric passed by the outlying farms of Skrae. It was cloudy and grey, chill for late summer. No smoke on the air, no goats at pasture and the grasses overgrown, no food growing in the ground. It was quiet as a barrowfield. None had come from Skrae to Chual in near three months. Knowing well the meaning, they’d not gone that way since. Such was the way of the North, now. He paused beside an untended shack, spying a well-hole sunk behind. The empty windows of the shack seemed to glower at him as he passed them by, as if his trespass was both known and unwelcome. He stopped when he saw the well again, the lip lined with stones. There were bones down there, he knew. He couldn’t say how he knew, but the knowledge weighed on him all the same. A woman and two boys, all cut into pieces. Hyric decided he’d find a drink elsewhere.

    By the twelfth he was hungry, having eaten near all his food. He caught three squirrels with his sling and cooked them over a small fire. As the sky darkened and the grease dried on his chin he became restless, a fear growing in the pit of his stomach. The feathers marked him, but there were yet other dangers found amidst the trees. Climb. He heard the whisper in his ear, like grating teeth or a knife on gristle. Hurriedly he kicked dirt upon the ashes of his fire, and up he climbed, his fingers growing sticky with resin. Up, he went, until he was hidden among the boughs. And there he waited, and his dread grew inside him, and he knew not why. And so he whispered a moon’s prayer, clasping tightly to his perch. Quiet. Another whisper, slick and oily, urgent. Movement down below, the barest shifting shadow, the slightest scuff against the ground. A gentle inhalation, questing. Hyric dared not breathe. His whole body screamed at him, desperate for escape. His heart stopped when those red eyes turned up towards him, almost lazily coming to rest upon his perch. The moment stretched into eternity, and it came into his mind that he should fall, he should let go and - a huff from down below, and the shadow darting off. Not for her, no. He did not climb down that night, instead sleeping fitfully aloft. He dreamed of a deep pool of cold dark water, of slipping silently beneath.
    ***
    He followed a boartrail, talking to himself, laughing under his breath. He really couldn’t help but find the whole situation amusing. He no longer knew how long or how far he'd walked, but by moss and sun he kept northward, ever northward. They’d been following him for days now, he couldn’t remember how many. The zemmi. Always just out of sight, fleeting glimpses amidst the brush. He called to them, but they wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they come? Was he not one of them? Tears rolled down his cheeks. The trail turned about a tree, and there sitting atop a boulder was a man. There was a sense of viciousness about him, a danger. He was pale and garbed in tatters and a deerskin, picking at his teeth with a stone-bladed knife. His gums bled profusely. “Not yet, if that’s what you were thinking,” the zem said, smiling. “Though you should be. We’ve not seen feathers so far north. Must be special, you,” he continued, bloody spittle dribbling from his mouth onto the ground. “Special,” the mud-spattered girl-child concurred, peeking out from behind the rock, hatred in her eyes. Hyric returned their stares blankly and, after a time, kept walking.
    ***
    The trees had been whispering. At first they talked about this and that, about how much it rained or how many nests they bore. The name interspersed itself at first, but now it was all he could hear. shadur, shadur, shadur, shadur, they sighed with pleasure. An incessant chorus of satisfaction. He’d heard that name before somewhere, hadn’t he?
    ***
    He bit into the mouse as it squirmed and squealed in his hands, it’s tangy blood flooding his mouth. He could see the stars clearly, as the trees weren’t so tall here. They didn’t seem right to him anymore. Nothing was, of course.
    ***
    He was cold. So cold. The tears froze on his face, though he wondered why he was crying. Snow crunched beneath his feet. He looked all around. Fields of chill and empty white, scattered huddled groves, twisted and knotted together as if for warmth.

    Suddenly it was there. He beheld it from a distance, that monolith. It stretched up into the sky, lost to night. A peace settled on him then, one he hadn’t known since he was a babe.

    At last you've come, Hyric. No, not first to seek my blessing; merely first to find it.

    He stood before it, and he came to know SHADUR. As Hyric looked upon it, so too did it look back at him, into him. Its thousand faces, staring down. Agony, ecstasy, madness and hate, lust, panic, envy and joy. All were written there, plain upon the stone. The urge was overwhelming, and it was all that was left to do. He stepped forward and he embraced it. Warmth like he’d never felt before, and it consumed his very being. He saw the beginning of all things, and he saw the end.

    He died then, he knew. For a moment he’d been free, but a moment only. It dragged him back, its thousand hooks in each and every part of him. Rearranged. Put back together. But wrong, so very wrong.

    He stood alone amidst the drifting snow, his face a mask of featureless black.

    And so Hyric was the first naioune. A bitter, desperate wraith.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
    Thlayli and thomas.berubeg like this.
  9. Shadowbound

    Shadowbound Incorrugible

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    4,020
    DRAMATIS PERSONAE

    SAORRAOS NRAORAAOS* - Emissary of Terres, called by some Sommos

    RIOC ap IOCILIN - Emissary of the Carns, called by all the Carns

    ARIOVISTIX - Petty King of the Embibates, who would be called by one a vassal


    SAORRAOS - For, echo I, the laws of my people
    and the words of the most mighty council,
    Submit yourself to the rule of Sommos
    with great haste and boundless enthusiasm.

    No Kings you shall have henceforth, nor rulers
    but those chosen according to our law.
    One from your own, picked by fair election
    under the close watch of our friendly blades.

    And a second, sent from our just city
    to ensure that its demands and decrees
    are all followed to the highest standard.

    ARIOVISTIX - A heavy hand you would have over me
    and a heavy duty you ask, that I
    cast aside my fore-father's hard-won crown.
    By what power would you compel my kin?

    SAORRAOS - The power of men and bronze, bound 'gether
    under noble banner, which we call host.
    It matters not to us if you accept by
    submission or if our laws are imposed
    by force of arms, for the latter we have
    in much great and glorious abundance.

    ARIOVISTIX - 'las, how can I oppose such reckless hate?
    I have but walls of earth and wood and a
    lively gathering of loyal brothers
    to set 'gainst your battle tested army.

    But what say you, Carnishman, what threat have
    you to offer to balance that given?

    SAORRAOS - Empty are their threats, fearful king.
    Until dry land becomes frigid water
    and heavy stone becomes wheeling storm
    you shall see no Carn ships besiege this motte.

    RIOC - A most welcome sight that would be, but think,
    do not your elder histories tell you
    that such was, and if such was, could be 'gain?
    When sky and earth were one with sea and stone.
    Tempt fate not, else see a city drown'd.

    For you, hill-king, I have no threats but those
    just freshly offered by mine counterpart.
    Rude it is to give another's given gift,
    but my people are not known for manners.

    ARIOVISTIX - You would offer the same threats of army,
    if I refuse your three kings' bold offer?

    RIOC - I offer the threat of laws and province.
    Of submission to a foreign city,
    and more, full erosion of your people
    until you are but subject, not Embibate.

    That is not the threat of my noble kings.
    Who desire only a token of rule
    and your free men to share our seized plunder.
    We are ruled as you, proud, free, and regal.
    And would not compel you to abandon
    the ways of your forefathers to become
    'nother mark in a provincial ledger.

    SAORRAOS - The power of Terres is mighty and
    all would prosper under it who accept.
    If you refuse us this power shall turn
    upon your fair land and what could prosper
    shall be sown with salt and crushed by heavy boot.

    RIOC - The power of Terres is mighty, yes,
    but your land is far from their high city,
    and strange to the many bronze soldiers
    that would come here compel obedience.

    Pay fair tribute to the sons of Briac
    and he shall give you succor, and safe harbor
    and friends among neighbors who too accept.
    In this way shall you keep your old freedom.

    ARIOVISTIX - By all our gods, named and forgotten,
    a grim choice you leave me. Shall I fight, and
    potentially lose all that makes me live?
    Or shall I submit, and lose all but life?
    Much counsel I must take, when desire answer?

    SAORRAOS - Before the army of Terres comes to your land.

    RIOC - Before the army of Terres comes to your land.

    SAORRAOS - You mock me, sir, and were this not foreign
    roof and hearth I would see you cut twain for't.

    RIOC - Were this Terres hearth, much enjoyment
    I would have at its expense, and much wealth
    I would take, as is my people's custom.

    ARIOVISTIX - Enough and begone! Emissaries of doom
    I desire you in my presence no more.
    Settle your dispute with blood or harsh word
    outside my gate, for I will not have the
    blood of a guest spilt by another guest.

    EXEUNT RIOC and SAORRAOS

    ARIOVISTIX - What cruel, vengeful god created empires
    these blasted things that promise an ocean
    of blood to fill their foolish ambitions?

    My firstborn I would give to some godling
    that promised removal of all 'reason'
    that led men to build cities and armies.

    Better we were beast, who live and who die,
    only by hunger and sickness and age.
    Not over the will of jealous high kings.

    EXEUNT ARIOVISTIX


    *It's a Roman name run through your substitution system, hence all the 'L's becomes 'R's.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
    Danwar, thomas.berubeg, Seon and 2 others like this.
  10. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,588
    Location:
    In the desert
    OOC: After some consideration, since I (and I'm sure, everyone else) feels sorry for them, I will add Atami's tribe to the stats with a point of civilization.

    From: The Elders of the Circle
    To: Haadulf

    Haadulf, we have all shared what little we know of the southern people. All our stories agree on one thing: Their armies truly are mighty, but they cannot pass over the sea, which they fear for some reason. So take Halid and your family, and go aboard a sea-vessel that we will find for you. Go to the far lands beyond the sea of which we have rumor. Share your words and the words of the leaves with others.

    We will remain here and protect our lands against the southerners, as best we can. If we perish, we will at least perish with the hope of your freedom in our hearts.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
  11. Danwar

    Danwar Warlord

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2017
    Messages:
    227
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Right under your nose
    You dare call us a byproduct of the will of lying, despotic divines? Say what you barbarians will of our Law and our people, we are at least free from those tyrants. Any percieved cruelty - in thruth, there is none to be found - would be the result of our hands alone. We bow to no God, for all the Gods we have known are slaving despots who care little for the people. We grant the people we conquer civilization, representation, and peace - no other power, God or man, can offer you this.
     
  12. jackelgull

    jackelgull An aberration of nature

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2013
    Messages:
    3,251
    Location:
    Within the realm of impossibility
    After swimming from the Xtri, Colcoleztl tries to become a part of the ocean again, a piece in the living breathing tapestry of life, this time swimming beyond the the boundaries of the known world and into the waters of a new one. But the Xtri has done something to him. Their belief binds him and he knows himself thus - he is Colcoleztl the giver of sorrowful gifts, Lord of Fire and Water, God of the Xtri. He has become a part of them and they a part of him. So he comes backs.
    He swims up the river he created gaining speed and momentum, before lifting himself out and jumping over the land and back into the sea. As he jumps, dozens of scales fall off his body and land on the Xtri’s land, some of them killing unfortunate bystanders for he is the giver of sorrowful gifts and so everything he gives comes with a price. And so the Xtri elders and shamans father these gifts and forge a mystical suit of armor and shield from these scales, for they are nigh on impenetrable, as well as a sword with a curious property - all that it cuts, even nicks, loses its soul and dies.

    Spend 2 magic points to forge the Colcoleztl armor, an impenetrable suit of armor created from the scales of a sea dragon and the Bloodrender sword, a wicked thing which separates the soul from the body of all that it cuts
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
  13. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,588
    Location:
    In the desert
    Surely, were it thematically appropriate, these developments would be worthy of the spicy chili pepper emoji.

    Perhaps even three of them.
     
    thomas.berubeg likes this.
  14. inthesomeday

    inthesomeday Immortan

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,798
    Virageg, Great King of the Oshkum: A History


    Virageg’s lifetime, twice the length of his son’s and knowing at least twice the bloodshed, was marked on three occasions by the tyranny of the Oshkum’s Great Kings. Years ago, before he had earned the name Virageg, and long before his wife had born the prophet-prince, through the eyes of a wee child he watched the soldiers of the Great King take their tribute from his tribe. They rode from camp to camp, taking each family’s fattest goat, and a barrel of their finest salt. When they arrived at his own father’s camp, however, the head collector instead demanded Virageg’s eldest sister, insisting that it was a sign of the Great King’s mercy and that tonight the family should celebrate their good fortune with a feast. That night, rather than feast, Virageg’s father cried, with impotence as much as sorrow.


    Four years after that, when Virageg was in a stage of life best translated as “pre-manhood”, the emissaries of the new Great King came to his father’s camp again, and this time they demanded not Virageg’s sisters, or his father’s salt, or his family’s goats. Instead, they demanded Virageg himself, the eldest of his father’s sons and the strongest in the tribe. For though Virageg was only a boy, he towered over his kinsmen’s sons, and outboxed them in every fight, and overtook them in every race, and defeated them in every shooting contest. And so Virageg went with the band of soldiers in the Great King’s levy. He fought with them for three years, expanding the domain of the Oshkum in every direction, and learning warfare, and the bounds of his own strength and power. As a soldier in the Great King’s army, he earned a warrior’s name, and a warrior’s shame. When he returned home, he did so nameless, hiding his deeds and misdeeds and ignoring his past.


    Ah, when he returned home he was greater even than he was before. He was larger, taller than even the tallest men in his people’s stories, and stronger than three of his kinsmen. He was the pride of his tribe, and soon he would be their chief. His father was growing old, and bitter with age under the boot of the Great Kings, and soon, sick. Virageg, still nameless at the time, knew the responsibility of his tribe would soon fall on his own broad shoulders. And so it did.


    It seemed only months had passed since he returned home when the banners of the next Great King, already the third of Virageg’s lifetime, came to crest the horizon of his tribe’s plain. It was Virageg, at the age of 15, nearly a man, who rode out to meet them, and to hear their demands. This new Great King was not a friend of the last, and so Virageg’s status in the army would not shield his tribe from the collection of tribute. This time, it was at last an ordinary tribute the Great King demanded of Virageg’s father, but now, after so many years of hardship imposed by the lack of a female heir to the household for alliance-building, and the lack of a male heir to fight against the family’s enemies, even this tribute was too much. They did not have a barrel of salt to give. They had but one goat, which the Great King’s soldiers took and rode away with. And that night, emasculated and starving, emaciated and sick, Virageg’s father died, leaving a son with no public name to take up the family’s mantle.


    The months that followed were his tribe’s hardest winter in history. These months were when Virageg earned the name he remains proud of to this day. His own camp had nothing, and the other camps of his tribe had so little they would surely starve the winter too. But Virageg was not only a great warrior.

    That winter, he rose to his position, and set out to feed his tribe. He mined them salt, and tamed them goats, and when this was not enough, he fell to his knees and picked them flowers to spin into bread. These flowers are the origin of his proud name, Virageg, for they were sky-flowers, legendary gift from the gods to richen the prairies of the Oshkum, and a symbol of grit and labor. The unforgiving climate of the northern steppe should surely suppress such delicate plant life, but the virageg flower perseveres, and so too did Virageg the man. His tribe survived the winter, and the next spring they fought to flourish, taking horses, goats, salt, and all other trappings of wealth from neighboring tribes. That summer, Virageg's son the prophet-prince was born, not yet so prophetic.


    The Great King’s tribute grew each year, as this Great King seemed to be one for the stories, maintaining his rule for seventeen years. He was still king when Virageg rode to his court, humbly presenting a prophecy of destruction. He was still king when Virageg was laughed from the tent, its curtain closed to him and his alarmist naysaying. And he was still king when that tent was consumed by an almost vengeful fire, leaving behind only the souls smart or brave enough to follow Virageg south. Then he was no longer king. Virageg was.

     
    thomas.berubeg and Shadowbound like this.
  15. TheMeanestGuest

    TheMeanestGuest Warlord

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Death, Young Maiden of the Valley

    Many eyes to see, many ears to hear. Grace espied, slender so. Behold her silent rage; beautiful.

    It knew it should destroy her, that she could never interfere. It knew it should not hesitate. Instead it found itself to contemplate, to scry out other paths. To break one so elegant and fine, somehow it would seem a tragedy. Perhaps there was another way, an understanding to be made.

    Who could foresee the consequence of this horrid mercy, of those bitter wages of guilt? What folly.

    It watched her as she stalked the wood, flitting from one patch of darkness to the next, her essence cold and sensuous. She knew that it watched her. On waning nights it whispered, exclaiming its delight. It knew that she had heard, though she did not reply. So it set its many hands to work to gather gifts of recompense. A night with no moon to rise, and the valleys of the north were strangely quiet, no chill winds arustle with the trees. Its hands had brought her gifts, if she would deign accept. Morsels tied neatly up in flowered vines, three virgin girls with locks of blonde, whimpering in fear. Their skin torn gently against thorns, crimson droplets on pale skin, dripping to patter on the snow. A flicker of satisfaction in cool red eyes.

    There is more it has to offer, that which before has not been dared. The sowing of new progeny, the sireing of an heir. Dusken queen of deepest wood, an invitation for the fair.

    -

    Naiounes: The servants of SHADUR, ill-contented wraiths dragged back through the door of death, old nightmares made as flesh. They are the captains of its purpose, and the emissaries of its will. And so to suit its desires they have been granted certain boons: to speak silently with zemmi and so order them about, to fly on clouds by night, to walk in sleepers’ dreams, to cut and carve with the sharp teeth of the north wind, and yet still others more obscure. They serve their master’s will, its praise their only taste of joy.

    Spoiler :
    ninety naioune wraiths - 2 Magic Points - it brings them forth to wreak its will, to walk where it might not. Ninety ghosts of hate and dust, a coterie of dread.

    the courtship of the black doe - 1 Magic Point - Moonless nights are hers to hold, as this is only right. With gifts and whispered promises it entices her, that they might enjoin themselves in horrid union.

    *** -- Its voice is heard throughout the North, in field and grove and dell, in deepest weald and on river's winding course. In lonely places the wood itself begins to hearken, boughs silent with rapt attention. In the elder vale of Amno where the tall pines grow the whispers of the wind are heard with terrible clarity, a clamouring sussurus of needles arising in reply. Nourished by the power of SHADUR the trees move to please it. Branches close up like walls and the canopy entwines itself above, casting the forest floor in welcome dark. It grows, a great and twisted mound pulsing with unnatural vigor. Uncounted halls and nooks within, rooten vaults hid underground. The zemmi breed and gather, fed fat by Amno's tortured bounty, scurrying all throughout. Naiounes scheme and stalk the place, plans to be unfurled. *** - will have to wait until Shadur has the requisite power

    -- The Naami folk resist the will of SHADUR, but they ought be corrected. No, it won't be long at all, I shouldn't think. A band of zemmi is gathered up, put to some semblance of order by the wraiths. Hyric leads them, and he bears a mask of calamity. The sacred trees are cut and burnt, their charms torn and scattered. The broken shield impedes their master's voice no more. Raid and ravishment follow, to better spread the terror of SHADUR. This is good, for from despair many a zem is born. Those who remain will find the path of supplication - as some among their neighbors have been wise (or craven) enough to do - or they will diminish, die and be forgotten, company for worms.

    -- In the East the race of men has built cities on the water where they gather in their thousands. Opportunity is to be exploited where it is found, after all. Some number of naiounes - cloaked in beauteous glamour - travel in secret to the nearer ports, and there they do their work. To walk in dreams, a call at night upon the indolent and the lustful. A cult of base carnality coalesces, that of the Waxing Moon. There are times when pleasure motivates near as well as fear. And so unknowingly and with every act they praise Shadur; its reach spreads, its voice grows louder. [These naiounes are likewise to listen for any tales of unaccountable mercy they might chance across]

    -- They move Eastward with purpose, the Oshkum. Loud, raucous, they stumble amidst the woods, and SHADUR observes. With them they bring their tall riding mounts, fearsome beasts of muscle and speed. But it is easy to lose one's way in the wood, and in this way the zemmi shall gather up a breeding stock of the creatures. The people bear a prophecy before them, one fair to suit Its purposes. The name Kotzal lies upon their lips, a name of ruination; another name to serve it. Let them pass by no more troubled than any other traveler in its domain. This is the mercy of Shadur. Let them emerge the other side and bring their woes unto the East, their tale of apocalypse and their ambition and their need. Let them speak the name Kotzal, that it should fly ever further, borne aloft by northern winds. Suffering no doubt shall follow the Oshkum, as it is often wont to do.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
  16. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    9,068
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale

    The Hero and the Huntresse


    Alai had seen the spirits of the wilds many times, colonies of cat things with too many glowing eyes slinking along branches, great spiders in the crowns of distant trees, many winged things taking flight in the night sky, men and women with skins of bark and long fingernails of vine. Each time, he had given the sacred rituals, the holy secrets known to all Umaki, and each time, they had vanished into the dark woods. In the mornings, sometimes, he’d find small gifts left at his bedroll. He still had one on a twine around his neck, a beautifully smoothed translucent yellow stone, with, at its heart, a small winged being, frozen in time.

    Spoiler :




    He’d mentioned the spirits, the gifts, once to Father, and he’d seen a strange look cross the older man’s face, before he changed the subject. None of the other Umaki they had shared a fire or a meal with had ever mentioned anything like it, either, and Alai had come to realize that it was one of the unspoken rules of their kind.

    Alai sweated under the hot sun, just as he had every day this last week. The “Riven Sunset” had docked at the docks of Etah, her holds full of wines and copper from distant Koharu, and helping as a dockhand was good money for Alai and his father, though the old man was growing too frail to do much. Good money to buy supplies for the long journey across the island and into the wild, and some choice oblations for the Wild Ones and the Watchers of the Ways.

    “Here, Umak, the sun shines bright today. Have a drink and sit a moment.” Alai blinked as he looked up from the crate he had just put down. A young man, tanned, with a shock of yellow hair, handed over a clay jug of water. He grinned, clasping Alai’s hand. “I’m Vuyani. Come sit with us, Umak, and tell us of the world you have seen.”

    “Alai.”

    “Sorry?”

    “Alai’s my name.”

    Vuyani’s freckled face broke into a wide grin “Well, Alai, tell you what. The day’s almost over, and there’s no ale better than old Lind’s. You’ve worked like a mad man, we all have, and that’s the last of the cargo Fesile is unloading right now. We’ll go get our pay, and waste it on wine and good friends.”

    Alai glanced at Father, who, with his knowledge of numbers, had been keeping a tally of the crates and jugs. He gave a soft nod, and Alai grinned. They must have been paid good coin for Father to raise even a hint of objection.

    The two young men hurried over to the foreman, who hemmed and hawed, but finally handed over the handfuls of coin they were owed. Vuyani led Alai into a short maze of huts and homes, before opening the door to a slightly larger building. “This,” he said, “Is Lin’s, and you’ll never drink anything as fine, from here to distant Carns. I guarantee it.”

    “And how far have you travelled to so boldly test these claims?” Alai asked, teasingly.

    “Just as far as Lin’s!” Vuyani answered in the same tone. He led Alai over to a table where a small group of young men and women sat, laughing.

    One of them looked up, pulling two seats over to the table “Who’s your handsome friend, Vi?”

    “Names Alai” Alai introduced himself.

    “He’s an Umaki” Vuyani added. “In town for the week.”

    A surprised clamor rose up. Umaki were rare and few in between, though their work irreplaceable. Questions danced amongst each other, a chaotic whirl of incomprehensibility, because Vuyani slapped the table. “Let the man have a drink before you tire him out.”

    “I can think of better ways to tire him out” murmured the red-haired girl in the seat next to Alai, winking at him with a smile.

    Alai blushed, and she laughed. “Jammi,” she introduced herself “That’s Fat Bui, Feseka, Dalumi, Bonan, Jeshi, and Young Lin.” She waved vaguely at the other people around the table. “And you know Vi,” she added, as Vuyani sat down with an armful of tankards.

    “First round’s on me!”

    Alai raised his tankard in thanks, and took a deep drink.

    “You weren’t lying!” Alai exclaimed.

    Vuyani laughed. “You don’t have to sound so surprised! Lind’s the best brewer this side of the mountains.”

    Jammie leaned in a bit closer, and Alai was viscerally aware that he could feel her warmth. “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen as an Umak?”

    Vuyani laughed again “Jammi’s a huntress, she goes out into the wilds to hunt for food and hides to sell. She hates it here, would rather be under the stars.”

    Jamie playfully punched his arm. “It’s true, I do like to be out there, but i’ve never been as far as you.”

    “The most different? The cliff homes of the Udyn, far over the mountains.”

    “The Udyn? I heard they don’t let normal people in their villages.”

    “Well, not usually, no, but for Umak they make exceptions, as do the Spirits in the far wilds.”

    “I’ve never had issues with the spirits in the woods here” Jammi interjected.

    “Ah, but those are Tamed spirits, in a way. They are used to people, and have grown alongside your villages. The Wild Ones... they’re different.” Alai unconsciously rubbed the stone around his neck.

    Jammi nodded, and opened her mouth to speak, but Jeshi interjected. “Udyn’s the strangest you’ve seen... you ever been to one of the sleeping cities?”

    Alai shook his head. “I know other Umaki go and tend to the spirits there, but Father and I have never. He says it’s a cursed place, and that no good will come of it.”

    Fat Bui scoffed “I heard one of the merchants talking about the villages. He says that he met someone who said that they had woken.”

    Young Lind scoffed at that “Someone says that every few years. Hasn’t happened yet.”

    The conversation continued far into the night, and eventually, all that remained were Alai, Jammi, and Vuyani. They talked of the village, of the gossip, of the lesser secrets of the Umaki, of the hunt. Alai realized that he had never had friends like these, and knew he would miss them when inevitably he and his father moved along.

    And then Vuyani yawned. “Well, have fun, children, I’m off to bed. I’ll see you in the Morning, Alai! Jamie, whenever you are back in town.” He sauntered into the darkness, chuckling to himself.

    And then, all that remained were Jammi and Alai, talking next to the blazing hearth. She nestled into his arms, and smiled up at him.

    “You know, Vuyani is right. I am jealous of you, Umak. You will see the whole world.” She sighed.

    “You could maybe come with us. There are men Umak and women Umak, all that you need is someone to teach you the secrets and rituals.”

    “And would you teach me the way?”

    Alai smiled, and touched the fiery red of her hair, so unlike his black curls. “I would, I am almost an Umak in my own right.”

    She sighed again, through a half-smile. “You say that now through the veil of ale. In the sunlight of the morning, you will change your mind, and I will be forced to remain here. I will never see the world”

    Alai had never seen anyone so beautiful, and he told her so. She leaned up, to kiss him. Her lips were soft, and tasted of cinnamon and beer.

    He broke the kiss off after a moment, smiling down at her, before glancing around the slowly emptying inn. For a brief second, Alai’s eyes met those of a man who was sitting in the shadows. He was ragged looking, an unkempt mane of black hair crowned his head, and his clothes were of faded finery. For a moment, Alai thought that the man had been staring intently at him, and, indeed, as they made eye-contact, there was a flash of recognition across the man’s face, and for a that second, Alai felt faint. Almost instantly, though, the man’s gaze drifted, and Alai realized that he had not, in fact, been staring at him.

    Jammie reached back up, pulling his face down to hers, before taking his hand. She brought it to her face. Her skin was cool, soft, and Alai gently ran a finger along her jawline, before kissing her again.

    “You’ve never been with a woman, have you?” Jammi whispered.

    “No,” Alai whispered. “No.”


    He kissed her again, and his hands drifted lower, her breasts, her hips, and he pulled her tight against him.

    She laughed softly, a sound of smoke and happiness, and took his hands in hers.

    “Come.” She said, pulling him up the stairs and into the cool night. The stars shone bright, but Alai saw nothing but the eyes of the girl, the woman in front of him.

    They slept together, and then they slept together.

    That night, for the first time in eighteen years, Alai dreamed.


    Spoiler :

    (2 magic points remain, quivering with anticipation. They did something, this decade, but it is not yet apparent what.)


    (1 Civilization point to enjoying life, because what is life without pleasure, and Alai is not yet more than a simple man. He has more knowledge than most, sure, and has known the company of a beautiful woman, who now wanders the world at his side. In the coming decade, Father will die, and be mourned, but, still, life must go on. Alai makes friends throughout the Isles, Udyn and Human, Spirit and God, and many know him. And yet, Alai has not yet visited the rumoured Iphuphu, who'se ships traverse the seas distant.)


    Spoiler Iphu :



    Those who dreamed were once spread out amongst many people. They spoke a dozen sister-tongues, and worshipped two dozen different gods. But, yet, when they awoke, each of them felt the calling. In ones, in twos, and groups of three or four, they travelled to the centre of the waking. There, they built a village for their kind, from the meanest of the dream touched to the most awoken. And, as more and more of the dreamers congregated in what would be named Iphu, the weight of their questing dreams pushed against a door that was had been left ajar by the passage of something, 18 years ago. At the heart of the ancient Barrow upon which Iphuphu was built, with a crash that vibrated through the psychic web that enveloped the world, it burst open. The barrow vanished, sunken deep into the dream, but in its place remained a pond, a lake, still cold water reflecting an eternally starry night sky. It was said looking into it would show things that had once happened, or maybe would one day, or maybe were happening. It was said that bathing in its waters would give one the best night of sleep in one’s life, resplendent with dreams of pleasure and joy. And, finally, it was said that to drink of its waters could, perhaps, sometimes, awaken the dreams of the drinker as had once been done to the Iphuphu.


    (2 magic points into a magic artefact, the Lake of Stars.)


    And, yet, the Dreamers are still people. And people need to eat, and to laugh, and to love. And so, as more and more of the dreamers and the awoken gathered in Iphu, the Iphuphu began to turn the village into a city. Fields that had lain fallow for eighteen years were tilled, homes were filled, trade ships and fleets were laid down and sent on long rangings, walls of beaten earth and stone thrown up, and inns were built to accommodate the steady trickle of pilgrims. Hide tents replaced by wood, wood by stone. But, In all that time, no Iphuphu forgot the eyes, of Blue and Black. In fact, rumour amongst some who have travelled far exists of a boy, or a girl, or a young man, or a young woman, with those eyes. All agree, though, that they are Umak, and most hold out hope that one day, one of those wanderers will be the figure they all remember.


    And, in the north, far away, a shadow obscures the dreamland.


    (1 civilization point into building a life)
     
    Thlayli and Jehoshua like this.
  17. Danwar

    Danwar Warlord

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2017
    Messages:
    227
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Right under your nose
    Excerpt from Noopomarramo's Histories. Noopomarramo - a mouthful, I know - is a learned Sommid who is among the few people of this period to write a comprehensible, organized history of the events that occurred. He is a crucial figure in understanding the Republic's history and its perspective on the powers around it. In this excerpt, he reflects the general distaste of the Sommids towards the state to the Republic's south.
    On the Empire of Anis-Natar
    One can summarize the decadent Anis-Natar as the precise opposite to the virtues and values of the heart of civilization - or at least, so much as any organized state can. Indeed, this Empire brings shame upon the term 'civilized', and is a far cry from the glory and light of our great Republic. Where we allow the people to rule through the Council, they are ruled by two children, a despotic deity, and an equally-despotic emperor. Where we do not submit to the idiotic idea of bowing to a tyrranic God, they do so willingly, and thus their people have traded their political power for bread and circuses - and now there is no bread for them to eat, nor circuses for them to watch. A colleauge of mine visited their 'Empire' once, and it was far from worth the trip. Every second he remained there he feared for his life, either from being taken by mortal man, immoral lion-priest, despotic deity, or simply hunger. Indeed, however proud they are, they beg for the grain and bread of our civilized state. This is why they should never go to war against Sommos - they would lose access to their only lifeline of food.

    Where we allow the worship of any god so long as it does not disturb the state (as all gods seem to do these days), they burn people for speaking of the ocean. Legend has it that there are Gods buried there, but truthfully, I think them as a pile of lies to prevent the people from thinking. It is a blessing that we live in Sommos, but this blessing comes from no God, but from Man. The only reason their backwards, pitiful state hasn't fallen ages ago is their army, who pridefully flexes its muscles northwards, dangerously close to Sommos. I believe this to be the only reason that the Council does not reveal the Republic's own disdain for their 'Empire' - for fear that said Empire might spread if they did. It is a shame we must live in fear, but I suppose it is for the good of the people. Me, though? I hold no such worry. I have lived a long, fulfilling life, speaking the truth. If I must die so that the truth is known, so be it - I have lived long enough. Either way, I digress - a state held together by military occupation alone and not the values of its state is no state - it is an occupation.

    The Carns come to mind - their barbarian kingdom is perhaps the Anis-Natar of the North, maintaining rule through military oppression with their fleet. Were they less savage, we would be impressed by their slaying of a God - but their barbaric ways cannot be ignored, effective or no. I can only hope that a state develops in the south to exist as a bastion of law and light just as Sommos has here - or even better, Sommos itself conquers the barbaric Empire. But that is centuries, perhaps millenia away. I can only hope that it some day comes to pass - the Empire has oppressed the peoples of the world for far too long...
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
    Thlayli and thomas.berubeg like this.
  18. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,588
    Location:
    In the desert
    seven, eight, Hyric's in the lake

    Just kidding. Don't want to give anyone ideas. ;)
     
    thomas.berubeg likes this.
  19. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    8,128
    Location:
    Not Lying through my teeth
    A Metaphorical Commandment to the Terres

    /Accursed race of Terres, men who have forgotten what it means to fear the Gods/

    /When thy plow thine field, do you not part the soil?/

    /When thy cut thine bread, do you not divide its wheat-flesh?/

    /When thy carve the continent with your maps, do you not invoke me?/

    /And when thy conquer, do thy not violate the Boundaries that which is sacrosanct?/

    ///

    /All conquest happens at thine edge./ The edge of thine blade, at the edges of thine maps, the teeth stained with blood./ All conquest happens, because I allow it./ Pay thine tribute!/ Fall to your knees in worship of the Gods once more, and we shall forgive thine transgressions./ You shall be rewarded with divisions/

    ....................................................................................................................
    Moves and Countermoves

    The Doormaker will speak. Year of our Lord...........

    There will come a day, when the Logic of Blades no longer apply.

    All edges dull. One may sharpen the blade, but this only serves to make the blade less. Redefined, perhaps, but lesser.

    And so, there will come a day when the boundaries cannot be sharpened once more, and the Logic of Blades will fail. All shall become dark, as light itself is the boundary through which things may become what is and what is not.

    But fear not. There shall be a new logic of the Boundaries. A hand in the dark shall take the Blades and reforge it.

    What is broken cannot be mended, but only remade.

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

    Action 1: Subversion to the Logic of Blades is introduced in the form of a prophecy of an end. (-1 point used).
     
  20. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,588
    Location:
    In the desert
    OOC: I am impressed you tried to spend the negative point, Seon. I believe I may apply this to an existing prophecy, however...if it ends up being fulfilled.

    From: The Circle of Gahad
    To: The Empire of Anis-Natar


    We cannot stand before your might. We surrender fully, and we will send you Haadulf without delay. Even now, he is being taken south to your borders in the company of our strongest sojourners. The emissaries of your rule will be given every courtesy, and we will listen to them.

    [They are lying]
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018

Share This Page