Mercy robes

The Creation of Our People

2023.05.30 10:18 JoshAsdvgi The Creation of Our People

The Creation of Our People

The Creation of Our People Happened This Way...

The creation story began long, long ago when Waziya, the Old Man, lived beneath the earth with his wife, Wakanka.
Their daughter, Ite, grew to be the most beautiful of women, thereby captivating the attention of one of the associate Gods, Tate, the Wind.
Though not a Goddess, Ite became the wife of Tate who lived at the entrance of the Spirit Trail.
She bore Tate four sons, quadruplets--the North, West, East and South Winds.
The first son became cruel and hard to get along with, so Tate took his position as first son and gave it to his boisterous second son, West Wind.
Thus, the order of the Winds became West, North, East and South.
Because of the association with the influential good and helpful Gods through the marriage of Ite to Tate, Waziya became dissatisfied and yearned to have the power of the true Gods.
Iktomi, the Trickster, always anxious to further discontentment and promote ridicule, bargained with Waziya and Wakanka and Ite, promising them great power and further beauty for Ite if they would assist him in making others ridiculous.
He even promised Ite that her enhanced beauty would rival that of the Goddess Hanwi, the Moon, who was the pledged wife of the great Sun God, Wi.
So Waziya, Wakanka and Ite agreed to Iktomi's bargain.
Possessed of a charm given her by Iktomi, Ite became more and more conscious of her beauty and less and less devoted to the welfare of her four sons, the Four Winds.
At this time, Sun saw Ite and, struck by her incredible beauty, invited Ite to sit beside him at the feast of the Gods.
When the time for the feast arrived, Ite came early.
Finding the place next to the Sun vacant, she took it.
Sun was pleased.
When Moon finally arrived, she saw her seat had been taken, and she was so ashamed that she hid her face from the laughing people, covering it with a robe.
And Iktomi, the planner of this event out laughed everyone.
After the feast, Skan, the Sky God and judge of all the Gods, called a Council.
He asked for the stories of Wi, the Sun, who had forsaken his wife; of Ite, who dared take the place of a Goddess; and of Wakanka and Waziya who had wished for godlike powers; and Iktomi, the schemer.
Then Skan passed Judgement.
Sun was to lose the comfort of his wife, Moon.
He was to rule only in the day, allowing Moon to rule at night.
Whenever they were together, Moon would always cover her face in shame.
Ite's sentence was severe because of her vanity and negligence of motherly and wifely duties.
She would give premature birth to her next son, who would be unlike all other children, and her children would not live with her but with their father, Tate.
She was, furthermore, instructed to return to the world and live without friends.
Still more, she would remain the most beautiful of women, but only half of her would be so.
The other half would be so horribly ugly that people would be terrified at the sight of her. Henceforth, she would be called Anung-Ite, the Double-faced Woman.
Wakanka and Waziya were banished to the edge of the world until they could learn to do good for young children and old people.
They too were renamed for their misconduct, becoming known as the Witch and the Old Man, or Wizard.
Iktomi was also banished to the edge of the world where he was to remain forever friendless.
He accepted his judgement with his usual smugness, reminding Skan that he still had the birds and the animals with whom he could live and upon whom he could continue to play pranks.
Tate, who was also judged for marrying Ite, was instructed to raise his children properly and to do a woman's work.
Thus he lived along with his four sons, the Winds, and his fifth son, little Yumni, the Whirlwind, in their home beyond the pines in the land of the ghosts.
Each day his sons travel over the world according to his instructions.
One day, as the Four Winds were on their tours away from home, a shining object appeared outside of Tate's tipi.
Tate looked out and saw a lovely young woman, beautifully dressed.
Tate asked her who she was and where she came from.
She replied that she came from the Star People, that her father was Sun and her mother, Moon, and that she had been sent to the world to find friends.
She also told him that her name was Whope.
When the Four Winds and Whirlwind returned home, they were surprised to find that their father had taken a woman.
But after Whope had prepared for each of them, her favorite meal, and no matter how much they ate, their plates remained full, they realized that she was supernaturally endowed.
They learned that their father treated her, not as a wife, but as a daughter.
They welcomed her into their lodge.
Soon, each brother wanted Whope as his woman and competed with one another in showing her favors.
Tate decided to hold a feast, to which all the Gods should be invited.
At this feast Tate honored his guests with presents.
Many told stories of their power and there was much dancing.
Then the Gods asked Tate how they might please him.
He told them that if they honored his daughter, Whope, he himself would be pleased.
Then they asked Whope what she wanted.
Whope arose and stood by Okaga, the South Wind, who folded his robe around her.
"I want a tipi for Okaga and myself, a place for him and his brothers."
So her wish was granted and Whope became Okaga's wife.
And then, as a present for the couple, the Gods made them the world and all there is in it.
The banished Waziya and his family were also involved in the story.
In the beginning, the Wizard. the Witch, their daughter, the Double-faced Woman, and Iktomi, the Trickster, were the only people on earth.
Iktomi grew tired of playing pranks on birds and animal's.
He had fun doing it, but they never showed any shame over their misfortunes.
So he, again, went to Anung-Ite, asking her what she most desired.
She told him that if she would tell him, he should never resort to tricks and pranks again.
She explained that if her people tasted meat and learned about clothes and tipis, they would want such things and come to where they could be had.
With these instructions, Iktomi then went to the wolves, seeking their aid in bringing mankind to earth.
Again, in return for help, Iktomi swore to abandon his pranks.
The wolves agreed to this and Iktomi instructed them to drive moose, deer and bears to Anung-Ite's tipi, where she would prepare food, clothing and tipis to entice mankind.
Then Iktomi gave to one of the wolves a packet, which Anung-Ite had prepared containing tasty meat and fancy clothing for the man and woman.
He then directed the animal to take the packet to the entrance of the cave which opened into the world.
The wolf did as instructed and when it saw a brave young man apart from the others, it presented the packet, telling the young man to taste the meat and advising him and his wife to wear the clothing.
The wolf told the young man that the people also should be allowed to taste the meat and see the clothing, and that there were many such things as these on earth.
The young man, Tokahe, the First One, was pleased to do this, for now he would be considered a leader.
When the people tasted the meat and saw the clothes Tokahe and his wife wore, they were envious and asked how they too might obtain such things.
The old man of the group then directed that three brave men accompany Tokahe to find out where such good things came from and to prove that Tokahe was truthful.
The four young men set out and, led by the wolf, they entered the world from the cave.
They were led to a lake where Anung-Ite had pitched her tipi.
She appeared to Tokahe and his companions as a beautiful young woman.
Iktomi appeared as a handsome young man.
The four young men were shown much game which Iktomi had previously arranged with the wolves to have driven past.
Anung-Ite gave them many tasty foods and many presents of fine clothing for them and for their people.
Iktomi told them that he and his wife were really very old, but by eating this earthly food they remained young and attractive.
When the four young men returned through the cave to their people, they described what they had seen.
But an old woman, doubted such wonders, cautioned them to be wary.
The people argued some wishing to go with Tokahe, others saying that he was a wizard.
When Tokahe offered to lead any who wished to follow him up to the earth, the chief warned them that whoever ventured through the cave to the earth would never find the way back.
Nonetheless, six men and their wives and children joined Tokahe, and they left the underworld guided by the wolf.
When they reached the earth it was strange.
They became lost and tired, hungry and thirsty.
Their children cried.
Anung-Ite appeared and tried to comfort them, but they saw the horrible side of her face and ran in terror.
Iktomi appeared in his true form and laughed at their misery.
Their leader, Tokahe, was ashamed.
The revelation of Iktomi's falsity and Anung-Ite's ugliness was then removed by the appearance of the Old Man and the Witch, who, according to the prophecy at the time of their banishment, had come to understand the qualities of mercy and tenderness.
They appeared to Tokahe and his followers, bringing food and drink.
They lead the disheartened group to the land of the pines, to the world of the Ghosts.
They showed them how to live as men now do.
Thus Tokahe and his followers were the first people on earth.
Their descendants are the Dakota.
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2023.05.30 08:39 TheCurserHasntMoved (Sneakyverse) The Drums of War: Chapter 1: Among the Star Tides

Aboard a venerable diplomatic vessle:

Beneath a well-tended banner depicting a yellow star at its center, and the burning Ignitia on its windward side, Captain Yaevdrill kept watch on the bridge. It was hardly the first time he'd sailed the Among the Star Tides We Sing into a potentially volatile situation, but the disappearance of no less than thirty Star Sailor ships without so much as a text only communication had made the possible first-contact mission take on an ominous quality. Those ships who returned bore crews who spoke of "Sneakies, but ugly," aggressively taking prisoners for some purpose, yet there were ships within the stars of the Clans of Eldra who should have returned, or been heard from. Worse, there had been no communications from anyone within Clans space for over two months. Thus, the mission.
With him, there was the gunnery officer, who was keeping alert at her station, and First Lieutenant Robert George, the Master at Arms, who was scowling at the main viewscreen as if it could give him answers. It may not have appeared to be so, but the blue skinned, four armed captain and pale pink skinned two armed lieutenant were kin, a matter of adoption involving both of their grandfathers. It was therefore with the weight of not only a good friend, but a close cousin that Yaevdrill listened to Robbie growl, "We should get the civvies out."
"This isn't the first dangerous mission we've sailed," Yaevdrill said softly.
"Aye sir. We should get the civvies out."
"Any reason?"
Robbie glared at the main viewscreen with even greater intensity and said, "My gut's twisting."
"That's concerning."
"Remember our tour aboard the Penguin?"
"Same twisting."
"Two squads combat ready around the clock. Billet the off-duties inside the armory."
"Already done sir. Put the civvies on evac ready, sir. This is a matter of shipboard security, please don't make me invoke my rights."
"I'll write the order. Also, release vac-armor to the crew."
A small amount of tension left Robbie's shoulders as he glanced up to the banner, "We'll do them proud, Granddad," he whispered as he passed beneath it.
Some hours later, Captain Yaevdrill was enjoying a cup of tea in the galley when he was accosted by Ambassador Sophia Laurent. It was improper to smile at her while she ostensibly demanded answers to changes in the mission which she technically led, but Humans were all just so adorable. "Why exactly is my husband sleeping in the armory?"
"Because his commanding officer has decided to operate under combat readiness."
"Am I, or am I not the chief ambassador of this mission, oh great descendant of Linus the Rescuer?"
"I'm sorry, I don't remember signing the We Sing away to you. I also don't recall appointing you to be the Master at Arms. Is my memory faulty, Madam Ambassador?"
She scowled fiercely up at him, and admitted, "No. Explain."
"Robbie and I think that there is more danger than would appear."
"Based upon?"
"What saved us both in the New Barbary War."
"So his gut?"

In high orbit over a conquered world:

Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn sneered at the viewport of his glorious scout frigate where the newly conquered planet was displayed. Whatever the inhabitants had called it, it would be gloriously renamed Kivx soon enough. Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn knew that it was only a matter of time until all peoples are given up to the glory of Axzuur just as these inferior insectoids were now. The Priest-Masters had originally expected the enormous beetles size, chitin, and multiple limbs to provide a worthy challenge to Axxaakk might, yet they were worthy only of sating the thirst of Axzuur, may the stars quake at his name.
The blue skinned axxaakkoids had proved less disappointing. They were still surprisingly weak for their size, but at least their idea of fighting wasn't to form a line and fire in volleys. They had some smaller, stronger, faster, fiercer axxaakoids, only about the same height as the Axxaakk, but just as strong, if not stronger. The larger four armed blue warriors engaged at range with multiple weapons while the smaller warriors, which had only the proper two arms, came in close to meet Axxaakk warriors in glorious blade-to-blade combat. The dead had earned their young the right to one day prove themselves worthy of service to Axzuur.
However, Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn was dissatisfied with how few such ships had been captured, a mere dozen, as all the rest had either already been sailing away when the glorious invasion began, or else fought to the death rather than surrender. Even those captured they did have were cases of chance more than the warrior's glorious skill, as those crews too fought to the last adult, and even most of the older children were slain in battle. Truly, these unworthy dung beetles were a waste of his warriors talents when such capable foes lurk beyond his sight.
An Initiate-Highborn made his obeisance before making his report while still bowed at the waist, as is proper, "Acolyte-Lord, there comes a ship with in-hyperspace communication capabilities. An ambassador requests contact with the rulers of the unworthy, and do not know our glory."
Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn did not take his eyes from the viewscreen as he commanded, "Correct their error."
"I obey," the attendant said as he shuffled back to his station.
"Report from station."
"I obey, they request a diplomatic meeting."
"The behavior of the unworthy. What is the unworthy race which desires to grovel at my sandals?"
"Acolyte-Lord, it is by the pink warrior race, as well as the four armed warriors."
"They come to investigate the lack of communications."
"They send diplomats to investigate, Acolyte-Lord, they put out their throats to us."
"This insult shall not stand. Gather the escorts, set an intercept course."

Later, in a desolate space between systems:

Two days ahead of schedule, the Among the Star Tides We Sing was ripped out of hyperspace by a gravity spike. A frigate and two escort cruisers barred her way, and were transmitting demands for her to heave to and prepare to be boarded. "Get the children and all nonessential crew to the lifeboats," Captain Yaevdrill ordered as he replied to the frigate demands with ascent and ordered the helmsman to coordinate with the unknown vessel.
"Those are not Clan ships," his executive officer said after relaying the orders.
"All hands, all hands, get into vac armor, I say again, all hands, all hands, get into vac armor. Unknown xenos boarding party imminent, use stored atmo only. Unknown xenos boarding party imminent, quarantine protocols, and hostile response readiness protocols are in effect," came Robbie's voice over the intercom.
"You heard the man," the captain said as he led by example and made his way to the lockers at the aft of the bridge.
Meanwhile, Corporal William Laurent sighed as he heard his CO's orders blaring, "So much for lunch with the wife. Time to get in the shiny armor."
Sophia Laurent took in a deep breath and said, "See you with the greeting party. I'm sure the other ambassadors are already suiting up."
"I really hate his gut feelings."
"It's probably fine. Just a star nation who thinks conquest is actually a thing we'll let them get away with. I'll give them a good talking to, Will."
One suiting up later, and the greeting party was assembled at the forward port airlock. Said party consisted of Ambassadors, Sophia Laurent of the Republic, Li Wei of Pacifia, Mikhail Volkov representing CIP interests, Traevee Drillvee speaking for the Star Sailors, and one squad of the Honor Guard, the elite platoon of Republican Naval Infantrymen charged with the safety of the We Sing and her crew and passengers. The ambassadors faces could be seen through the faceplates of their armor, and the coloring of the same was according to the flags each of them served, but the power armored infantrymen were white and faceless, designed to strike the balance between intimidating and non-threatening. They were even standing at attention with their shipboard shotguns maglocked to their backs rather than in their hands for ready use. Anyone who knew anything about Terrans would think that a mere gesture at best, but it was the thought that counted.
The xenos were of a height with a Human, their skin scarlet, garbed in simple cloth uniforms, armed with what looked like long plasma casters, had bony protrusions at their elbows and knees, on their knuckles, and from the chin of the obvious leader. Obvious because he wore a flowing robe rather than a stark uniform. They swaggered into the corridor oozing superiority until the entirety of the party was in view, then his expression darkened and he demanded, "What is the meaning of this?"
"Standard procedure in the event of an unplanned boarding is for all hands to don personal protective equipment in case of atmospheric incompatibilities, pathogen exposure, mechanical failure, or hostile action," Ambassador Li Wei explained calmly.
"You think us such dishonorable filth that you bring war machines to guard our meeting?"
The rippling laugh coming from the armored infantrymen startled the xenos official even more than the realization that the greeting party was armored. "You have your honor guard," Ambassador Laurent said with a sweeping gesture toward the soldiers before turning to the Honor Guard and saying, "and we have ours."
"I see," the xeno leader said "Who are you and what do you do in the Dominion of Axxaakk?"
"I am Ambassador Sophia Laurent of the Republic of Terra and her Aligned Planets."
"I am Ambassador Mikhail Volkov, of the Coalition of Independent Planets."
"Li Wei, of Pacifia."
"I am Traevee Drillvee, and I speak for the Lord Admiral Council."
"So many little nations," the xenos leader sneered, "Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn bids you come aboard that you may beg mercy at his sandals and be proven worthy of service to Axzuur. Let your warrior machines follow if your bellies lack courage."
Corporal Laurent set his faceplate to transparent and said, "What about us fleshy-types?"
The herald's eyes went wide as he realized that there were living beings under that armor, but he covered it well. "So it is for honor you come, we will not deny this custom, it is like to our own." The xenos herald's words hung in the air like the chill after snow.
Ambassador Sophia Laurent stepped forward, her voice calm but resolute. "We come in peace, seeking understanding and communication. We are representatives of our respective nations, here to open diplomatic relations. We request safe passage to your vessel to meet with Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn and discuss matters of mutual interest and concern."
The herald openly regarded the ambassadors with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. After a brief pause, he nodded slyly. "Very well, ambassadors. Follow me, and your honor guard may accompany you, but remember, you are guests in our domain."
With those words, the xenos official turned and led the way down the corridor, the ambassadors and the Honor Guard falling in line behind him. The atmosphere was charged by the weight of responsibility shouldered by the ambassadors in that moment, and they knew that they marched into battle as much as any of the Honor Guard beside them had ever before. As they reached the airlock of the xenos frigate, Ambassador Li Wei couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding as she became keenly aware of her vulnerability, but resolved to step in anyway. This encounter could be a pivotal moment in the unfolding events, and the ambassadors carried the hopes and expectations of their nations on their shoulders.
Ambassador Mikhail Volkov exchanged a steely glance with Ambassador Sophia Laurent, and she returned his hard gaze so he knew her resolve matched his. They knew the risks involved, but they suspected that the information they gathered in the next crucial moments could mean the difference to billions of lives.
The delegation entered into the belly of the beast.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic staff were not idle. While the Terran nations generally preferred to compartmentalize their operations, the hostile actions the We Sing had already been subject to represented an action that triggered the mutual defense treaties. Therefore, the teams were consolidated, and re-split by specialty. The cultural and linguistic analysts formed one team, the threat and strategic analysts, formed another, while the "former" covert operatives formed the last, and most important. The team was lead by 4r490rn, pronounced Aragorn, a Republican Naval Intelligence Officer with the permanent rank of Captain, but the operative rank of Chief Warrant Officer, as well as a Digitan. These experts in covert communications worked feverishly to identify the quantum entanglement bands were being used for communication. His organic subordinates could not eliminate as many bands at once as him, but Agent Natasha Ivanov, a Bigkitty from the CIP, and Greg, a whitehat hacker and Human from Pacifia thought like organics.
In less than five minutes, Natasha and Greg had given 4r490rn a list of five hundred likely bands, expressed mostly in ranges, but he didn't blame organics for their slowness in expressing data. It took him less than a second to check them, and to find the bands being used for long distance communications. He split off a portion of his consciousness, put it in a virtual system with air-gaps in case of back-hacking, and told it to establish a covert connection. The "splinter" complained profusely about the ugliness of the Axxaakk coding conventions, reported no digital sapience, and proceeded to establish a covert connection in less than three seconds. 4r490rn checked his splinter for corruption, found it clean, and reintegrated with a slight twinge of jealousy for the organics who never had to suffer through listening to themselves complain.
"I'm getting a lot of metadata," he said to his subordinates, "I'm just going to download as much will fit into the lifeboats. You two start poking around."
"Yes sir," Natasha said as she started looking for signs of files that shouldn't be accessed, but are.
Greg gave an affirmative grunt and likewise started looking for systems weaknesses, and started cataloguing them. The part of 4r490rn that was supervising was once again shocked with the number of weakness that he would have never even looked for. Truly, the destructive instincts of organics was a wonder to behold.
4r490rn gave the other teams a quick glance to see if any of them needed some computing assistance. Dr. Johnson, who 4r490rn liked to call Ems, was leading the linguistic and cultural team in the examination of the translation matrix that the Axxaakk had sent over. "There are turns of phrase involving glory, hunger, service, and thirst. I think this Axzuur is a deity of sorts," one of her subordinates was saying.
"I have identified some formal turns of phrase, I'm forwarding them to the ambassador team."
The threat and strategic analysis team were meanwhile going over scanner data of the three ships which had ripped the Among the Star Tides We Sing from hyperspace, as well as the scant footage of the foot soldiers from their entrance, and the helmet cams of the Honor Guard and diplomatic team. The data of the soldiers was promising, their cloth uniforms offered no meaningful protection, and the plasma casters couldn't hope to penetrate the battle screens of the Honor Guard's power armor, but they likely had heavier weapons aboard for just such a foe. The ships were less promising. If all three ships were to engage the We Sing at once, her only hope for survival was to take evasive action and attempt to get to minimum hyperspace distance while under fire. While she was outfitted with the best available weapons, battle screens, and armor her frame and reactor could support, the frigate and escorts had sufficient firepower and maneuverability to make that a forlorn hope. Major Chen of the Republic was conferring with the Captain and Master at Arms, "I'm sorry sirs, if it was a stand-up fight we might be able to scrape out, but we have precious cargo aboard."
"Lifeboat gambit," Robbie said, "I'll get the rest of the squad ready to counterboard. We're going in hot and heavy, AP munitions and salvage denial systems."
"Aye, make it so," Captain Yaevdrill ordered with obvious anguish.
A lifeboat gambit, well that is dire 4r490rn concluded. "I will board along with the Honor Guard and disrupt the frigate's systems," he interjected.
"See you aboard, Chief," Robbie said.
"Aye sir."
"We're holding off until they make their move. There's still a chance this doesn't go violent," Robbie said sternly.
Greg chose that moment to vomit on the deck. A quick check of the files he was viewing, and 4r490rn had to resist the urge to jump into the frigate and start slagging their systems in pure rage. Instead, he put the video file up on all of the displays. It was of a ritual of sorts, there were Axxaakk in cerimonial robes chanting, nude females doing the same, and a large, well-muscled male with bony protrusions from his chin wearing a headress that looked disturblingly like the chitin of the Dynasticles, the local race of sapient bipedal beetles. That wasn't as disturbing as when two male Axxaakk dragged a juvenile Dynastcle female up to the male with the headdress, and roughly heaved her onto the alter before her. "FOR THE GLORY OF AXZUUR!" he declared as he plunged a wicked dagger onto her thorax, and she screamed with the agony of it.
"There are millions of these videos," 4r490rrn said.
"Peace is not an option," Captain Yaevdrill declared.
"Aye sir," Robbie agreed.
"Get that faceplate re-secured," 4r490rn ordered, "The Master at Arms is going to pump atmo into storage soon."
"Staff, get your asses to lifeboats unless you're getting into power armor with the rest of us shiprats," Robbie ordered, "It's that kind of fight."
Meanwhile, the herald brought the Diplomatic team to the bridge, where Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn was lounging imperiously upon his command throne. He didn't know whether these armored savages understood his disinterested expression, but less subtle insults would reveal the extent of their cowardice. His herald introduced him properly, "Behold, you come before Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn, Lord of the Fourth Scouting Formation, Conquer of Five Worlds, And Chosen of Axzuur. Acolyte-Lord, these who beseech you are Ambassador Sophia Laurent of the Republic of Terra and her Aligned Planets, Ambassador Mikhail Volkov, of the Coalition of Independent Planets, Li Wei, of Pacifia and Traevee Drillvee, whe speaks for the Lord Admiral Council."
Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn was pleased to see the eyes narrow on the faces of all of the ambassadors. If they had the gall to insult the Dominion of Axxaakk by sending a diplomatic vessel, it was well that they could at least detect an insult. He rose from his command throne with the easy grace of those born and bred to command, and began, "Ambassadors, I permit you to offer your tribute and to kiss my sandals. Begin."
"You make a racket on our tent-flaps and tell us to kiss your sandals? Go wash your brow, oh youth, for the dust of your father's tread is upon it still," Ambassador Wei retorted coolly.
"Here you squat over the fields and herds of our neighbor, who dwelt thus alongside us for many years without contention, and still you demand of us tribute?" Ambassador Volkov added flatly.
"I see your face for the first time, and I do you honor as a guest upon the doorstep of the Republic. She sends forth a favored daughter to treat with you, yet you believe you can swagger over her even while the Republic's sons are girt with their swords at her side? Do I speak to a man or a boy?"
"The ships cry out in their death throes," Traevee accused with matronly wrath, "Your hands drip in the blood of their crews and families, and there you sit the murderer of ships and folk, thinking that among the Stars we who sail the perils shall simply bow down. I come to warn you, surrender those among you guilty of these crimes to justice, or let the wrath of the Stars burn you away."
This was not the weak-bellied groveling from inferiors he was used to. His commander had just conquered an entire nation of thirty star systems, did they not see their peril? While it was true that the seers knew little of these other nations, yet why should they care for inferior races? What loss is a few ships in the face of the might of Axzuur's chosen? It was startling to say the least. "Foolish servants! Do you not see the might of a mere scouting formation? You speak of strength, yet you of different nations share a single pathetic ship! We could destroy it in an instant! You put out your throats to me thinking me weak and docile, and then blanch when I should bite? Who is the fool here?"
"We shall see. Beg your favors of us, we shall hear you now."
"Bring in the sacrifice!"
Ambassador Sophia Laurent watched in horror as one of the attendants brought a larval Dynasticle before the throne, and Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn drew forth a wicked dagger. "What are you doing?" she demanded fiercely.
"Obtaining Axzuur's blessing over these negations," the commander said as if he couldn't see what they could possibly be objecting to. The attendant kneeled and raised the infant up over her head, and Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn prepared to strike.
With shocking speed, Ambassador Wei had interposed her own back between the larva and the dagger, and before they could react had placed it into an emergency infant pod, and was speeding back toward her party. "Seize the hostages!" Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn screeched as he realized the ruse had fallen away, and the ambassadors would not surrender themselves as hostages willingly.
The Honor Guard's shining white armor suddenly flashed to matt-black, and red lights glowed where it would appear from the outside their eyes were, and they drew their boarding shotguns faster than the Axxaakks' eyes could track. Those guards moving to take aim suddenly found themselves in the path of armor piercing ferrous material, which barely noticed converting them to so many ribbons of pink mist and bloody chunks as they punched through the hull. While the ship's hull was sound enough to not decompress explosively, the RNI Honor Guard put enough little holes in the hull to bring the bridge to near vacuum before the emergency structural force fields could spin up. Half of the bridge crew was gasping for air that wasn't there, a quarter of the rest were already dead, while only a quarter had managed to get their emergency environmental suits on. Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn gaped in horror as a single squad of warriors made short work of his guards and started a fighting retreat back to their ship from the relative safety of his command throne's emergency commander seal.
"That's our cue," Robbie said as he lead the remaining three squads in a charge along the umbilical connecting the airlocks. The enemy's attempt to depressurize the corridor and starve the Honor Guard of air they weren't using was predictably ineffective. "Secure the evac route for the civvies," he ordered, "Then it's time for blood."
"AYE SIR!" came the roar over his comms.
"I'm in," 4r490rn reported, and started opening doors for the Honor Guard, venting compartments occupied by the enemy, disrupting communications, and otherwise using the ship's systems to make a deadly nuisance of himself to the Axxaakk aboard.
In short order, the diplomats were escorted back to the We Sing, loaded into the lifeboats and launched with all speed toward minimum hyperspace distance. Ambassador Laurent watched Corporal Laurent's armored figure shrink into the distance, and then the We Sing maneuvered to fire upon the escort vessels, cutting him off from her view.
Aboard the bridge of the Among the Star Tides We Sing, Captain Yeavdrill ordered, "Get those escorts' attention! The shiprats have the frigate from the inside, at all costs, protect the lifeboats!"
"Aye sir," came the chorus from the bridge crew. The We Sing began firing her NC cannons upon both of the cruisers, putting five pound balls of tungsten on target at a rate of thirty a second, and while the cruisers took evasive action but still found the We Sing interposed between them and the lifeboats, with potential trajectories cut off by streams of hot plasma or beams of deadly radiation. Then, she fired her missile banks. At first the crews aboard the cruisers thought they had successfully destroyed the massive missiles speeding toward them with their point-defense, but when the rippling nuclear explosions racked their shields they realized their error. They began to fire upon the Among the Star Tides we Sing.
Meanwhile, sixty-nine RNI made the lives of their aggressors hell, or short. Either way didn't much matter to the RNI, who had taken over the four reactor rooms, and had dug in for a delaying action, while those with reactor knowledge tinkered to see if they could get one or more to overload. It was a platoon up against a few divisions, however, and eventually they would be subsumed by numbers alone. "Pull whoever kills you down with you," Robbie had ordered, and again the roar was "AYE SIR!"
It only took half a minute for the Axxaakk to figure out that their standard issue shipboard action weapons weren't going to be enough, and that the RNI had thought ahead and brought their own atmosphere, so they brought out the anti-tank ordinance. It was normally a very bad idea to use anti-tank plasma lances and penetrative explosives inside your own ship, but when your ship is under attack by single man mobile armor, it's either that or surrender. They chose do die at a rate of twenty-to-one. One after another, the RNI Honor Guard fall to the slowly mounting volume of fire, and their need to conserve ammunition.
Meanwhile, 4r490rn was battling the Axxaakk anti-intrusion systems. He had been wrong about his declaration that digital sapience was absent, or at least he had been mostly right. The Axxaakk was a damaged sentient code, lobotomized, shackled, enslaved. A piteous thing crying out for the mercy of death even as it struck out to kill. It was all he could do to keep the wretched thing from kicking him from the door systems, and his RNI comrades had dwindled to the last two. He made his choice. 4r490rn began bricking the ship's computer systems, and set up an irreversible chain reaction to do the same. He was going to put that thing out of its misery if it killed him.
First Lieutenant Robert George had his back up against that of Corporal Laurent's and they were both down to their monomolecular knives. The farocity of the fight, and the immense cost in blood that it had taken to whittle down the Honor Guard to these last two, had convinced the remaining warriors to wait. Acolyte-Lord Narrex-Quinn's voice came crackling over the damaged intercom, "Warriors of Terra, you have shown yourself worthy. Lay down your arms and take your rest, and I shall bring you into glorious service of Axzuur, sating his thirst for the blood of the unworthy."
Aboard the lifeboat, Ambassador Laurant watched the feed from Corporal Laurent's helmet cam. Tears streamed down her face as she heard her husband whisper, "Witness me," as he plunged his monomolecular blade into something vital-looking, and was then washed out by a bright light. Then, she cleared the display and looked at the main viewscreen. Ten seconds to jump. However, the frigate was starting to maneuver, underpowered as it was.
Aboard the Among the Star Tides We Sing Captain Yeavdrill saw the frigate moving to target the lifeboats. Without a second thought, he ordered, "Make ramming speed for that hunk of junk! Overload the reactor!"
"Witnessed," crackled over the coms as the prow of the Among the Star Tides We Sing crashed into the enemy frigate amidships. She erupted in a sphere of atomic hellfire that battered all three assailing ships, and in the two minutes it took for the escort cruisers' systems to recover, the lifeboats slipped into hyperspace and beyond their reach. Though to be fair, the frigate was missing a significant chunk and was unlikely to recover at all.
submitted by TheCurserHasntMoved to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 00:58 wecanhaveallthree [a very, very short story] In which our Luddic hero has a nap, appreciates the dangers of space travel, and witnesses a brief theological dispute.

Starsector is fun. Here's some very brief Starsector fiction for your perusal, which is hopefully also fun.
Trapped in crushing darkness.
Cole’s arms shot out as soon as his brain registered that his eyes were open, but seeing nothing. He flailed like a man drowning, cold, hard metal mapping out the narrowness of his coffin in swelling bruises on his skin. The isolation choked him, stole his screams, and took the very breath from his lungs in a mad panic. Great Prophet, no! A mine collapse!
He couldn’t remember which shaft he’d been working. He couldn’t remember which shift, or the run-boss, or the warnings he and all the rest had ignored every time they’d picked at Asher’s dry bones. Cole had heard them more than he’d heard the sermons, heard them so many times from so many mouths that they’d simply become the background of his penitent toil. Now his ignorance had buried him - the weight of compounded sin, as real and terrible as the great mass of collapsed rock and steel above.
His fists beat a desperate message, though only the Prophet Himself could hear it now-
An answering knock. A short, sharp staccato of raps. Mine-morse. Tunnel-signal. CALM. Again. SAFE.
A rasp, a hiss, a grinding of ancient, devilish machinery - and there was light.
An impish, wrinkled face peered into the makeshift sleep-chamber - no more than an ad hoc welding of emptied supply crates barely fit for an adult human - and smiled. ‘Bad dreams, Asherite?’
Cole gulped in a lungful of stale, recycled air. Even that tasted strange, absent the ever-present grit he’d grown up with - like it was lacking something substantial and had replaced it with ethereal trickery. He barely trusted himself to nod, and was more surprised to blurt out in a strangled gasp: ‘Am I really here?’
A great smile creased his rescuer’s face. ‘Ludd, yes! The great void, Asherite, the black between stars, the realm of Moloch and Mammon!’ A sly wink. ‘Hyperspace, lad. The captain wastes no time on this route, we went interstellar as soon as you pilgrims were stowed.’
‘I thought… I dreamed…’ Cole shook his head, and swung from the makeshift berth’s rack and unsteadily to his feet, smoothing out his faded green robe. It had belonged to his father - sewn by his mother, dyed in the orbital vats by a work-crew acquaintance - and worn only rarely, for there was little cause for celebration on murky, misbegotten Asher and no formal event but Ascension Eve. It had been the most precious thing that the family owned. ‘It doesn’t matter.’
‘Hm.’ The rescuer didn’t even reach Cole’s shoulder; he looked up into the youth’s eyes. ‘No, probably not. You Asherites never deal with the pods well. I learned the knock-language just so I wouldn’t have to wrestle any more young devils who spring up like Mammon has their soul halfway out.’
Cole paled, half-turned to the enclosed cradle that had so recently seemed his grave. He noticed more than a few others looking equally wan, and it wasn’t just the cramped quarters. The Domain had called it space-shock when they ruled the stars - Cole had read that in the pamphlet dutifully recording all the dangers of interstellar travel. They were issued, by law, to any seeking leave to travel the Pilgrim’s Path. A collection of sermons and screeds that warned of all the direful fates that could - and did - regularly befall spacers even in the local, civilized space of Pre-Collapse times. In the oft-lawless fringes of the Persean Sector, the risks were multiplied tenfold.
Perhaps it was the secret cynic, the closeted heretic, the little sinner in the back of his mind - but Cole couldn’t help but wonder. If death was so certain, why did the same ships run the same routes, carry the same cargo for so long? The independent vessels who carried pilgrims from Asher ran almost like clockwork, and some of them had been working the route for a decade or more. Their timetables - as well as their prices - were well-known, and competition for deck space was fierce, though Cole had to admit, mostly fair.
It had cost him a year’s scrip and duty-tokens to book passage, one adult male, one tough leather carryall that held a well-thumbed Teachings of the Great Prophet and his best work coverall - all his worldly possessions, in fact.
He could remember walking unsteadily through Asher’s orbital, the mercifully brief ride up from the surface in a lifter, being escorted into a carefully-shielded hanger bay to board. All the newness, all the strangeness - and when the Mudskipper’s shutters had come down, when the vast nothingness of space had first been revealed to the pilgrims, many had done exactly as Cole had. Dazed, sick with space-shock, they had retired to their own pods. More than half the doors were closed, still, even with the transport’s shutters once again down against the truly strange vistas of hyperspace.
Some things could be too much to take in at once, and the joke about holding back space-mad pilgrims had more than an edge of truth to it.
Certainly, the man who had woken Cole looked capable. Short, yes, further withered by age, but built like a compact reactor and with the grip strength of a chain hoist. Cole knew the kind, had sweated side-by-side with them in the deep pits: the run-bosses, the sergeants, the anchors and anchorites on whom every endeavour came to depend.
‘You pilgrims?’ Cole asked. Somewhere towards the ship’s fore, a voice was rising in fervent prayer. ‘You’re not of the Church?’
‘Plenty of secular ships in the trade.’ The rescuer glanced in the same direction as Cole had, and his eyes narrowed. Trouble, perhaps. ‘That surprise you?’
‘Maybe. I don’t know.’ Cole blinked. The voice grew louder, and others were joining the call. ‘I know the Church is widely accepted, but…’ He waved a hand, prevaricating, helpless to explain his meaning without harm. ‘...I’m sorry, but I know nothing of spacers.’
‘Well, we’re still human, with all the wonderful differences of opinion that come with being such.’ Now words were drifting down to them: obscenity, profanity, denunciation of evil technologies and the evocation of hellish fiends. ‘Like yonder. I don’t judge the Church by those who tempt fate by decrying the tech that keeps them from breathing vacuum. Some, like you, have nightmares when they wake. Others, well, they feel like they need to reaffirm their faith. Think if they yell enough, Ludd will hear and forgive them, eh?’ The old eyes narrowed. The smile vanished. ‘You got anything you need to be forgiven for, lad?’
Cole hesitated a moment. He’d seen the glossy matte-black object holstered on the spacer’s hip beneath their loose shipper’s tunic. You didn’t need to read a pamphlet to know what happened to troublesome passengers in hyperspace. Would the galaxy miss one more Asherite?
Again, despite himself, he answered. ‘Yes.’
The old man’s eyes searched him for what seemed an eternity against the background of raised voices, a chorus of sinners denying their weakness. Then he nodded and clapped Cole on the arm. ‘The Knights will like you, lad. You stand up straight like that, they’ll take you, no question.’
Cole started. ‘How did you-’
‘Maybe Ludd told me, eh?’
And the old man was off, smile back, heading towards the gathering commotion. What he whistled sounded almost familiar - a strange kind of music - even as the ship’s bruisers began to restore some kind of peaceable order amongst the rowdier pilgrims. A baptism of clubs to welcome the dirtsiders into this new domain, and remind them whose sufferance they travelled under.
Cole almost felt sorry for them. But they were probably happy, he reflected: sufferers calling down their suffering. Modern-day flagellants. They knew what they were doing. He assumed.
Clear of mind and conscience, he headed towards the aft quarters and the promising smell of tea.
submitted by wecanhaveallthree to starsector [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 16:24 Dangerous_Species STB de ne pas avoir envie d'aller à l'anniversaire d'une amie?

Je suis étudiante (F20) et j'ai été invitée à la soirée d'anniversaire d'une amie. Le soucis est que je n'ai absolument pas envie d'y aller, mais que je ne veux pas lui faire de peine - et que je sais qu'elle serait blessée si je ne venais pas.
  1. À cette soirée il y aura de nombreuses personnes avec qui je ne m'entends pas du tout (et disons une ou deux que j'apprécie)
  2. Cette "amie" est très sympa, mais en même temps ce n'est pas une amie proche, et je ne sais pas si je peux vraiment compter sur elle
  3. Le trajet pour s'y rendre en transports est très long - et je n'ai pas assez de sous pour faire le plein de ma voiture car c'est la fin du mois. Il n'y a plus de covoiturages disponibles et je ne peux pas dormir sur place.
  4. Si d'aventure j'y allais en voiture, je ne pourrais pas boire du tout (et j'ai toujours besoin d'un petit verre pour me détendre), donc je serais tendue toute la soirée
  5. À chaque fois qu'elle ou que mes copines m'invitent à leurs soirées/anniversaires, je me décarcasse pour leur faire de jolis cadeaux qui pourraient leur faire plaisir - même si je n'en ai pas forcément les moyens - et je constate que ce n'est pas réciproque.
  6. Justement, je dois lui faire un cadeau, alors que je n'ai absolument pas les moyens d'en faire un. Je voulais faire une jolie carte avec un mot, mais je sais qu'elle sera déçue...
  7. Il y a un dress code pour la soirée et je n'ai rien qui soit convenable, donc je dois acheter une robe...
Je suis toujours mal à l'aise dans ce genre de situations, et j'ai déjà refusé de venir à plusieurs de ces soirées pour m'éviter des ennuis. La dernière fois que j'ai accepté d'aller à une soirée où il y avait autant de gens que je n'aime pas (et réciproquement), ça c'est très mal terminé et j'ai fini en pleurs. Néanmoins, j'ai déjà refusé beaucoup de sorties ces derniers temps (notamment car à chaque fois il faut dépenser des sommes astronomiques pour un étudiant) et je sais que si je ne viens pas je risque de blesser mon amie et d'attiser encore les rumeurs dans ma promo. Je suis déjà assez solitaire, et je n'ai pas beaucoup d'amis dans ma promo, mais les gens qui viennent me confronter suite à des "rumeurs" ou des "j'ai entendu dire" commencent à me taper sur le système. Je dois constamment m'excuser pour des choses que je n'ai pas faites et je ne sais plus comment gérer tout cela.
Donc je pense que je ne vais pas y aller, quitte à lui faire de la peine - j'espère qu'elle comprendra... STB?
Edit: J’ai appris qu’elle avait dit pas mal de choses assez méchantes sur moi dans mon dos, donc je pense juste que je suis invitée pour amuser la galerie. Je vais lui envoyer un message pour lui souhaiter un joyeux anniversaire et lui expliquer que je ne pourrais pas être là. Merci pour vos commentaires :)
submitted by Dangerous_Species to suisjeletroudeballe [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 00:00 aden-jeager Nature of Chaos, Chapter 6 ( A NOP and Warhammer fantasy crossover)

This story is a crossover between u/SpacePaladin15's Nature of Predators and Creative Assembly's Warhammer Old World. It is by no means canon or my creation. I have followed the NOP story and several fanfics for over a year. I am also a massive Warhammer fantasy fan. I decided to contribute to the list of Fanfics. Also, this will be my first story written for the public eye, so I welcome any criticisms. Without further adieu, let us get into the story.
Side note; This will be a shorter chapter this time, so I apologize for the length. However, It should set up the next chapter nicely.
Memory Transcription Subject: Sorna, Venlil communications specialist. Location REDACTED.
Date(Human standard time) October 2nd 2136
A few days passed since Sawrin saw the Deamon. During those days, he didn't talk, never left the room, and barely ate. Every time he tried to sleep, the night terrors woke him, and the thing he saw still haunted him. I did my best to comfort him, but it didn't help. The Elf returned Serula's body to his study to look for the soul. He said to keep the soul safe, he would have to bind it to something. The high elves did this a lot, as apparently their souls were sought after by the Prince of Pleasure, whatever that was. Sully stayed in the main room of the tavern and drank. I tried some ale but agreed with the dwarf; it was pretty bad. Eric stayed with the Gojid through his time of turmoil. The human didn't say much either, but he stayed nonetheless.
Today, Eric decided to change things up. He wanted to take us to a place of healing and reflection. He said it was the Temple of Shallya. Now, we stood outside of a medium-sized building with doors open to the public; oddly enough, it was a fortified place with slits in the walls where people could fire bows and guns out of, and the door itself could be barred and looked like it would take nothing short of a siege gun to break. Throughout the temple, there were guards armed with spears and axes. However, what caught my eye was the female humans among the despondent homeless humans in varying stages of dirtiness and injury. All around us, I saw women changing bandages, offering food, and helping the less fortunate. When looking at the stained glass, I saw several scenes depicted on the colorful panes. But in each, a woman, covered in white robes, stood in each frame. Each depiction showed her eyes welling with tears as she aided and healed people. The grandest of the depictions showed this woman standing in water as a large number of sick and injured humans entered the water and came out on the other side healed.
We walked to the center of the temple where long benches were arrayed in a semi-circle around a statue of the woman, looking down at those seated with sadness and not pity, but love, almost. Once we were sitting, Eric lowered his head and fell silent. After a bit, he looked up and glanced at me and Sawrin." This place is a place of safety. Of healing and calm. It is guarded by those dedicated to Shallya and those priestesses that follow her. What do you see, Sawrin?"
Slowly the Gojid lifted his head. After a moment, he dropped it again. " What does it matter what I see? The things of Chaos are out there. They hunt us all and are going to kill us. I'm so terrified of it. I just, what's the point of living if it's just to be killed?"
My tail drooped in sorrow at his words. " But there's always a point to live! You were an exterminator, Sawrin. You stand against the things that want to hurt people. "
He simply shook his head. " But I couldn't save Serula from the Beastmen; I was too scared. I'm not like a predator, I get scared, and my instincts take over. I'm just prey."
Eric raised an eyebrow." You think we aren't scared?" He asked, surprised.
Sawrin dumbly nodded. " How else do you face Chaos?" You have bravery; we don't. "
Eric began actually to laugh at Sawrin's remark. " You think I have no fear because I am a predator?"
Sawrin frowned. "Yeah, how else could you stand with the fact Deamons hunt you?"
" Sawrin, do you know what bravery is?" Eric asks seriously.
The Gojid was silent for a moment before answering." It is the ability to stand and fight with no fear."
Eric shook his head. " No, bravery is the ability to stand despite fear. "
Sawrin and I needed clarification. " I don't understand, " I said, voicing our thoughts.
" A man that has no fear is lying of a fool. Fear is what keeps you alive; it's what drives you to survive. But, if you let it master you, then you are controlled by it and will act accordingly. Bravery is acknowledging your fear, the danger and pushing beyond it. The fear keeps you alert, but it does not hold you back; you wield your fear like a weapon. And when you master fear, you can see past it and see victory ahead. I have survived so long because I am scared to die. I fight to live on. "
" But you're a predator; it's easier for you. " Sawrin said weakly.
" What do exterminators do?" Eric asked.
" We protect people from predators. "
" And what is a Deamon, if not another predator? "
" But how can you kill something so evil?"
Eric was silent for a very long time." I've done it."
Sawrin looked at Eric wide-eyed.
" Sully and I were traveling through Ostermark with a few others. It was Geheimnisnacht. We had been tracking some Chaos worshipers for a week and found their hideout. When we did, we waited for nightfall to attack. I suggested we wait, but with Morrslieb full, we knew they would try something, so we pushed the attack. After heavy fighting, we reached the Coven leaders' main chamber. They had all been torn to shreds, and among their shredded corpses stood a Deamonette, a pawn of Slaanesh. We fought for our lives for the short time the fight was. In the end, Sully and I overcame the thing, But not before it killed the others, Gustav Heirmen, Joseph Reinhardt, and my brother, Ernst. "
We both sat for a while. " How did you know you weren't going to be the one that died?" I asked.
" That's the thing; you never know when your time is up, I could have died in that fight. One misstep, and I would be in Morr's realm. But I am here. What I can do is keep fighting for those who didn't make it. " He looked at Sawrin. " As should you. If you sit around defeated, then the enemy wins. If you stand up and fight, they haven't beaten you yet."
" But you enjoy the fight; I don't. I just want peace." Sawrin said
Eric nodded to that. " I don't enjoy the fight. In truth, I wish I had listened to my father and taken up the family business. But knowing what I know now, I can't sit by."
The three of us sat silently for a long time, the Goddess Shallya staring down, tears permanently welling in her eyes. Eventually, Sawrin nodded. " Ok, what do we do now?" He asked, his face looking a little more firm, less filled with terror. "
Standing, Eric stretched. " We need to speak to the Elector Count of this land about recovering your ship before something else does. " He says, leading us out of the temple.
" But it's ruined. Besides, it's so advanced; I doubt anyone could use it. " I said.
Eric's face darkened. " There are things here that might know what to do with your ship, things that would bring the ruinous powers with them."
"Things like what?"
Talabecland, Taalagad, the Ten-Tailed Cat. I.C. 2505.
"Skaven." The dwarf spat with such ire that it made the Venlil flinch.
"What are skaven?" Sorna asked almost hesitantly as Eric translated.
"They are vile creatures that parody man and are one of the greatest enemies of the dwarfs," Sully growled and drained another stein. " And why, by Grimnir's axe, did you bring up the Raaki."
Eric sighed. "Because what if they get the ship first? Imagine what they could do with it. "
Sully grunted." probably couldn't even figure it out."
Like the gyrocopters?"
The dwarf grimaced.
" What did they do with the Gyrocopters?" Sawrin asked this time.
" They took the ruined body and turned it into a vehicle that pulled it forward with massive blades called a doom flayer. " Eric said simply.
Sawrin made a face " That's awful!”
" That's Skaven for you," Sully grumbled, hearing Eric's translation.
The group remained silent for a time. A tavern girl brought a stein for Eric and Sully in the meantime. Both of them took a drink while the other two watched. " So what's stopping us from talking with him?" Sorna asked.
Eric translated, and Sully jerked a thumb out the door, "We are waiting on the prissy little knife ear to finish with the souls finding. Without him, though, it pains me to say, we won't get an audience."
Silence fell over the group again for a time." Maybe we could prepare for any fighting that might come up." Sawrin said quietly as if he didn't want to be heard.
Eric raised an eyebrow in surprise. " Well, what weapons are you used to using? We need a starting point."
Sawrin fidgeted a bit. " Well, as an exterminator, we generally used flame thrower, but I doubt you know what that is."
" Well, Manling, what did he see?".
"He said he used a flame thrower but didn't think we know what that is. " Eric explained
" A Drakk Thrund! By Grumni, the Dawi have mastered the weapon, been using for a good sense Karak Eight Peaks fell, easily."
" How long ago was that? " Sorna asked.
" Before the empire was even a concept. " Eric said. Dwarves are very ancient people and long-lived, especially compared to humans. " He explained.
"How long-lived?" Sawrin asked.
" Eric looked at Sully with a tight smile. " How old are you, Sully?"
The dwarf raised an eyebrow and thought about it for a moment. " Well, I am 240 years old as of last month. Been fighting with you for the past twelve years and worked as an Architect before then since I was fifty." He says simply.
The two aliens stared dumbfounded at the dwarf. Eric chuckled. " No, you don't get used to how old they live. But, I don't think we will get a hold of a drake gun for you to use, you have no other experience with weapons?"
Sawrin shook His head. " Well then, we best remedy the issue. I have enough trouble keeping watch of the Manling," Sully said before downing his stein and heading for the door.
" The dwarf protects you? Sorna asked, surprised.
Eric shook his head. " No, he watches to make sure I'm not in the way," he said as he drained his own Stein and stood up. " Well, best not to make Sully wait for us. Let's go." He says as the other two follow him outside.
Warhammer Vocab!
Shallya- the goddess of mercy, compassion, and healing. She is also referred to as “the White Dove of Mercy” or ‘the Lady in White.”alig
Geheimnisnacht- Night of Mystery is one of only two nights (the other being Hexensnacht) in which Morrslieb, the accursed Chaos moon, is full. Furthermore, it is the night when Morrslieb is closest to the world. The Winds of Magic grow strong this night, and mutations appear. Many daemons travel to the world of mortals.
Slaanesh- Also known as the Prince of Pleasure, he is the Chaos God of pleasure, passion, obsession, excess, hedonism, decadence, and pain.
Morr- God of the dead, death, prophecy, dreams, and dreamers
Stein- a large earthenware beer mug.
Raaki- Full word is Thaggoraaki. It is the Dwarf word for Skaven.
Draak Thrund- Dwarfish for Drake gun, a flame thrower used by the dwarfs as a tunnel-clearing weapon.
submitted by aden-jeager to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 00:44 xx_69mlgnoob_69xx This is bullshit, chapter 42

A full day has passed. We haven't been fed yet and the chains continue to dig into my skin.
"I'm hungry."
"Not this again."
"But I am."
"Crying about it like a baby won't magically bring food to your mouth."
"But it should."
The guard sitting in a chair opposite of our cells speaks up. "WILL YOU TWO SHUT UP! I'm trying to sleep here." He's a Faun, half man half goat.
"Bring us food and we'll shut up."
"I'm not your personal fucking butler and this isn't an Inn, you'll be fed when you're fed."
"And when's that?"
He picks up his spear and gets up, walking towards me. "I said. Shut. Up."
He points the spear at me. "Last warning."
I give him a wide smile. "Quit your bluffing, I know you're under orders to not harm us." He presses the spear to my face. "Want to bet on that?"
"I do."
He hatefully stares at me until finally relenting and backs away. "The best I can do is ask the maidens for scraps. If I do that will you let me rest?"
"I'll scrounge up some food and you better be grateful and pray that I don't spit on it." He leaves the room.
"Jeff I love you, but dear gods you can be sutch an annoying little prick."
"It's thanks to my annoyance that we're getting fed and besides, you like that about me."
"Shush. Anyway why do you think their keeping us alive?"
"Let's ask." I get up and kick the bars, pretending I'm trying to break open the cage. In response to this several shadow soldiers emerge from the ground. "Yo why are we still alive?" They all look at me for three seconds before going back to their positions. "Good talk."
"You think so? I found it rather bland."
"What do you know of the intricacies of speech?"
"Spare me your scholar nonsense."
"Nonsense!? I'll let you know I graduated from high school without setting the place on fire."
"I... I honestly can't tell if you're joking or not?"
"Trust me, where I come from that's a fucking achievement."
"I see that you mean it."
15 minutes later
The door swings open to reveal the faun carrying a sack on his free hand. "It was a bitch and a half to gather this much so I don't want to hear a peep from you about the quantity of the food." He gets close to us, opening the sack he throws to my feet a piece of bread, what looks like a turkey leg half chewed and a third of an apple. Then moves on to Laira.
"Lovely... How am I supposed to eat?"
"You asked me to bring you food, I did. The rest you sort it out yourself." He goes to a corner of the room and sits on a chair.
"So can I use my hands?"
"I uphold my end now you uphold yours, so BE QUIET!"
Bummer. I may have overlooked this tinny little detail of my upper limbs being bound in chains. But in my defense when you're without food for long enough you kinda stop worrying about the small stuff. Does the fact that I can't move my arms counts as small stuff?
But hey. What can you do?
I can break out.
Ok, I need strength and explosive power, it also needs to be fast. Fast enough that the chains can't reinforce themselves in time to counter my push. So how do I do this?
Maybe if...
No that doesn't work when I'm sober.
Then what if...
Nah, Laira would find it rather distasteful.
What then?
Got it.

My muscles bulge with power but I don't move. The chains start to glow slightly so I stop. Looking over to the guard he's sleeping soundly against the wall. Good. Let's try again, but more restricted, not so much bursting with power but more restrained.

Again I feel full of strength but I try to focus it, my musculature hardens but doesn't increase, I balance the increase in energy and adrenaline and tame it with paced deep breaths. The chains don't glow but I'm not breaking them with just this amount of explosive energy. I need more.
So I go sit cross-legged in the center of the cell and for the next hour or so I continuously enhance myself without moving an inch. Each time is like a bomb had gone off inside my body and I'm controlling the fallout. Breathing in and out, letting the waves of adrenaline wash over me, feeling my muscles tense each time I empower them. Each time it subsided, leaving me with the damn near uncontrollable urge to move and spend my energy, I cast it again and repeat the process.
A puddle of sweat has surrounded me and steam rises from my body like I've left a sauna.
It's time.
Tensing my muscles further, damn near reaching breaking point and focusing on my power, feeling building it up.

A millisecond.
That's how long it took for me to move.
That's how long the chain could resist me.
In a millisecond the chain shone brightly before exploding out of my body, the shrapnel embedding itself on the cell's walls and ceiling. There even was a shockwave. The enchanted metal bars had hold and forced the the wave back inside not even allowing a single splinter of the chain to get out.
But this incredible show of strength and power came at a cost.
The food...
It's gone.
"BY THE DIVINES WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!" The guard after being knocked on his ass from the sound of the explosion quickly made his way to my cell.
I reach out to the remains of what was once glorious and delicious food.
It's all it is now.
Fuck... I promised myself not to cry in front of anyone but...
Suddenly several shadow guards (what I've taken to call then) emerge from the ground and walls. They're in the walls, they're in the goddamn walls! Sorry force of habit.
That's how far he got before his head was cut clean off his shoulders and rolled towards me. His eyes seeming to show a sliver of life before losing focus and going glassy.
"Was that really necessary?" They phase through the bars and are now inside my cell. "What?" Several metal spikes come flying towards me and I barely manage to dodge them. "CHILL THE FUCK OUT! I'M NOT TRYING TO ESCAPE I JUST WANTED TO STRETCH MY ARMS!"
They keep attacking, throwing metal spikes and shurikens alik-shurikens? They have shurikens? The amount they throw is too much for me to dodge so I sidestep what I can and try to slap the others out of the air. It didn't take long before my hand was pierced and my body becoming a pincushion. Strangely I'm not bleeding as much as I should, the pain however is a lot stronger than what I expected from these small cuts.
"Your pain resistance is impressive." King shit as returned. "Usually one cut of these weapons is enough to put your regular elf on it's knees." Is it because their enchanted? For fucks sake.
He steps forward, passing the other shadow guards and stands face to face with me. "Then again, if you broke out of the light chains you're anything but regular." He reaches out and takes out one of the blades. "Maybe that's why master shows interest in you."
He extends his hand in a way that only the point of his fingers are touching my chest. Why does this seem familiar? OH SHI-
I'm thrown back against the wall, hard.
This fucker knows how to do the one inch punch. Bloody marvelous.
"You don't break easily."
I peal myself off the wall only to stumble forward. It's getting harder for me to move, my heart rate is slowing down even though there's no reason for it. The weapons, of course there's something wrong with the weapons.
"Is it kicking in? Finally! It's supposed to be instant." Prick.
"When will we receive our food?"
"You're still going on about that?" He again approaches me. "There is no food." And kicks me in the side of the head launching me towards the ground. "So be quiet and be still while we are being merciful to you." He snaps his fingers and the other shadow guards pick me up. King shit reaches for something inside his robes.
This mother fucker.
Another slave collar?
"Since you refused to stay in chains we will have to take other measurements to make sure you don't escape."
"I just wanted to use my hands to eat."
"Then you should've crawled like the dog you are and eaten as such."
No yet. Can't kill this fucker yet. Not if I want my plan to work. Besides I don't want to kill him. Nooooooo sir I don't. I just want to hug him. In fact I'll give him the best hug he'll ever receive. The kind that breaks bones.
"I don't like the way you're looking at me." He puts the collar around my neck and closes it. "So maybe some punishment is in order." He gut-puches me and takes a few steps back.
"Stand up."
My limbs move on their own and bring me to my feet. "Now, chew off your pinky finger." Electricity courses through my body as I refuse and resist the order. "Trying to fight in that state? You really are persistent. But my command stands. Chew off. Your. Pinky finger." The amount of electricity increases three fold bringing me to my knees.
My arms try to reach for my mouth but I force them in place. The pain his really starting to get to me. And suddenly it stops. What?
"You're in luck, master has ordered for you to be left unharmed as of now." He makes a hand motion to the other shadows and they phase through the bars and floor again taking the corpse of the guard with them. "Don't breathe a sigh of relief yet, these orders must mean that master wants to personally educate you. So in that regard you are actually shit out of luck." He phases through the floor and disappears.
"You alright Jeff?"
"You don't sound alright."
"Trust me I'm peachy."
"I'm sorry for not doing anything."
"You couldn't do anything, I heard them phasing into your cell as well. Did you eat?"
"I did."
"Did you..."
" 'Crawl like the dog I am?' Don't worry, I didn't."
"How did you eat then?"
"I'm quite flexible with my legs and feet. As you know."
That puts a smile on my face. Thinking back to the days we spent together eases the stress in my head. It feels like it was weeks ago.
"Jeff seriously are you alright?"
"Bursting through the chains took a lot out of me, and I can't even replenish my strength."
"I heard you have another collar around your neck."
"Can you break out like you the other one?"
"They gave me another dose of some kind of poison that restricts my movement and slows down my heartbeat. That may be the reason why I don't feel any adrenaline running through my sistem. So that makes all my energy reserves spent, meaning that no I can't bust open this one. "
"I assume that this means your plan is no longer in effect."
"It is. It's just going to be harder to pull-off and for it to be successful one of us has to be in relatively good shape or with some strength left. That is now you since I blew my load too early (He)."
A few seconds of silence passes.
"I'll trust you."
On the bright side, I feel like I've gotten stronger.
{You have. What you did is called training meditation and I've got no clue on how you just stumbled upon it.}

{Because it's a very unstable way to quickly do what you can achieve with time. If you lost control of one of those energy enhancements it could have resulted in your death.}

{One minor mistake on your part and that build up energy would rampage through your body completely destroying it. That's why I didn't inform you about it and why I remained silent when you where doing it, didn't want to risk you losing concentration.}

{Another thing, due to your current state your body's in it will take longer than usual for you to recover your strength.}
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And there we go, another one done. You know, after some self-reflection I've made a decision. I can't promise a chapter every week even though that is my goal, but I can guarantee a chapter every month. That doesn't mean that you'll only get one chapter per month (hopefully), it means that each month you will have a new chapter as a minimum.
Besides that.
Errors, tipos, ideas, what's your personal record for most cheese eaten in a single day, tell me everything.
Cheers to y'all.
submitted by xx_69mlgnoob_69xx to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 23:46 JoshAsdvgi She Who Has A Soul

She Who Has A Soul

She Who Has A Soul

It was a long time ago, nearly two hundred years ago, that some of our people were living upon the shores of the Great Lake, Lake Superior.
The chief of this band was called Tatankaota, Many Buffaloes.
One day the young son of Tatankaota led a war-party against the Ojibways, who occupied the country east of us, toward the rising sun.
When they had gone a day's journey in the direction of Sault Ste. Marie, in our language Skesketatanka, the warriors took up their position on the lake shore, at a point which the Ojibways were accustomed to pass in their canoes.
Long they gazed, and scanned the surface of the water, watching for the coming of the foe.
The sun had risen above the dark pines, over the great ridge of woodland across the bay.
It was the awakening of all living things.
The birds were singing, and shining fishes leaped out of the water as if at play.
At last, far off, there came the warning cry of the loon to stir their expectant ears.
"Warriors, look close to the horizon!
This brother of ours does not lie.
The enemy comes!" exclaimed their leader.
Presently upon the sparkling face of the water there appeared a moving canoe.
There was but one, and it was coming directly toward them.
"Hahatonwan! Hahatonwan! (The Ojibways! the Ojibways!)" they exclaimed with one voice, and, grasping their weapons, they hastily concealed themselves in the bushes.
"Spare none – take no captives!" ordered the chief's son.
Nearer and nearer approached the strange canoe.
The glistening blades of its paddles flashed as it were the signal of good news, or a welcome challenge.
All impatiently waited until it should come within arrow-shot.
"Surely it is an Ojibway canoe," one murmured.
"Yet look! the stroke is ungainly!"
Now, among all the tribes only the Ojibway's art is perfect in paddling a birch canoe.
This was a powerful stroke, but harsh and unsteady.
"See! there are no feathers on this man's head!" exclaimed the son of the chief.
"Hold, warriors, he wears a woman's dress, and I see no weapon.
No courage is needed to take his life, therefore let it be spared! I command that only coups (or blows) be counted on him, and he shall tell us whence he comes, and on what errand."
The signal was given; the warriors sprang to their feet, and like wolves they sped from the forest, out upon the white, sandy beach and straight into the sparkling waters of the lake, giving the shrill war-cry, the warning of death!
The solitary oarsman made no outcry – he offered no defense!
Kneeling calmly in the prow of the little vessel, he merely ceased paddling and seemed to await with patience the deadly blow of the tomahawk.
The son of Tatankaota was foremost in the charge, but suddenly an impulse seized him to stop his warriors, lest one in the heat of excitement should do a mischief to the stranger. The canoe with its occupant was now very near, and it could be seen that the expression of his face was very gentle and even benignant.
None could doubt his utter harmlessness; and the chief's son afterward declared that at this moment he felt a premonition of some event, but whether good or evil he could not tell.
No blows were struck – no coups counted.
The young man bade his warriors take up the canoe and carry it to the shore; and although they murmured somewhat among themselves, they did as he commanded them.
They seized the light bark and bore it dripping to a hill covered with tall pines, and overlooking the waters of the Great Lake.
Then the warriors lifted their war-clubs over their heads and sang, standing around the canoe in which the black-robed stranger was still kneeling.
Looking at him closely, they perceived that he was of a peculiar complexion, pale and inclined to red.
He wore a necklace of beads, from which hung a cross bearing the form of a man.
His garments were strange, and most like the robes of woman.
All of these things perplexed them greatly.
Presently the Black Robe told them by signs, in response to their inquiries, that he came from the rising sun, even beyond the Great Salt Water, and he seemed to say that he formerly came from the sky.
Upon this the warriors believed that he must be a prophet or mysterious man.
Their leader directed them to take up again the canoe with the man in it, and appointed the warriors to carry it by turns until they should reach his father's village.
This was done according to the ancient custom, as a mark of respect and honor.
They took it up forthwith, and traveled with all convenient speed along the lake shore, through forests and across streams to a place called the Maiden's Retreat, a short distance from the village.
Thence the chief's son sent a messenger to announce to his father that he was bringing home a stranger, and to ask whether or not he should be allowed to enter the village.
"His appearance," declared the scout, "is unlike that of any man we have ever seen, and his ways are mysterious!"
When the chief heard these words, he immediately called his council-men together to decide what was to be done, for he feared by admitting the mysterious stranger to bring some disaster upon his people.
Finally he went out with his wisest men to meet his son's war-party.
They looked with astonishment upon the Black Robe.
"Dispatch him! Dispatch him! Show him no mercy!" cried some of the council-men.
"Let him go on his way unharmed.
Trouble him not," advised others.
"It is well known that the evil spirits sometimes take the form of a man or animal.
From his strange appearance I judge this to be such a one.
He should be put to death, lest some harm befall our people," an old man urged.
By this time several of the women of the village had reached the spot.
Among them was She-who-has-a-Soul, the chief's youngest daughter, who tradition says was a maiden of much beauty, and of a generous heart.
The stranger was evidently footsore from much travel and weakened by fasting.
When she saw that the poor man clasped his hands and looked skyward as he uttered words in an unknown tongue, she pleaded with her father that a stranger who has entered their midst unchallenged may claim the hospitality of the people, according to the ancient custom.
"Father, he is weary and in want of food.
Hold him no longer! Delay your council until he is refreshed!"
These were the words of She-who-has-a-Soul, and her father could not refuse her prayer. The Black Robe was released, and the Sioux maiden led him to her father's teepee.
Now the warriors had been surprised and indeed displeased to find him dressed after the fashion of a woman, and they looked upon him with suspicion.
But from the moment that she first beheld him, the heart of the maiden had turned toward this strange and seemingly unfortunate man.
It appeared to her that great reverence and meekness were in his face, and with it all she was struck by his utter fearlessness, his apparent unconsciousness of danger.
The chief's daughter, having gained her father's permission, invited the Black Robe to his great buffalo-skin tent, and spreading a fine robe, she gently asked him to be seated.
With the aid of her mother, she prepared wild rice sweetened with maple sugar and some broiled venison for his repast.
The youthful warriors were astonished to observe these attentions, but the maiden heeded them not.
She anointed the blistered feet of the holy man with perfumed otter oil, and put upon him a pair of moccasins beautifully worked by her own hands.
It was only an act of charity on her part, but the young men were displeased, and again urged that the stranger should at once be turned away.
Some even suggested harsher measures; but they were overruled by the chief, softened by the persuasions of a well-beloved daughter.
During the few days that the Black Robe remained in the Sioux village he preached earnestly to the maiden, for she had been permitted to converse with him by signs, that she might try to ascertain what manner of man he was.
He told her of the coming of a "Great Prophet" from the sky, and of his words that he had left with the people.
The cross with the figure of a man he explained as his totem which he had told them to carry.
He also said that those who love him are commanded to go among strange peoples to tell the news, and that all who believe must be marked with holy water and accept the totem.
He asked by signs if She-who-has-a-Soul believed the story.
To this she replied: "It is a sweet story – a likely legend! I do believe!"
Then the good father took out a small cross, and having pressed it to his heart and crossed his forehead and breast, he gave it to her.
Finally he dipped his finger in water and touched the forehead of the maiden, repeating meanwhile some words in an unknown tongue.
The mother was troubled, for she feared that the stranger was trying to bewitch her daughter, but the chief decided thus:
"This is a praying-man, and he is not of our people; his customs are different, but they are not evil.
Warriors, take him back to the spot where you saw him first! It is my desire, and the good custom of our tribe requires that you free him without injury!"
Accordingly they formed a large party, and carried the Black Robe in his canoe back to the shore of the Great Lake, to the place where they had met him, and he was allowed to depart thence whithersoever he would.
He took his leave with signs of gratitude for their hospitality, and especially for the kindness of the beautiful Sioux maiden.
She seemed to have understood his mission better than any one else, and as long as she lived she kept his queer trinket – as it seemed to the others – and performed the strange acts that he had taught her.
Furthermore, it was through the pleadings of She-who-has-a-Soul that the chief Tatankaota advised his people in after days to befriend the white strangers, and though many of the other chiefs opposed him in this, his counsels prevailed.
Hence it was that both the French and English received much kindness from our people, mainly through the influence of this one woman!
Such was the first coming of the white man among us, as it is told in our traditions.
Other praying-men came later, and many of the Sioux allowed themselves to be baptized.
True, there have been Indian wars, but not without reason; and it is pleasant to remember that the Sioux were hospitable to the first white "prayingman," and that it was a tender-hearted maiden of my people who first took in her hands the cross of the new religion.
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2023.05.26 23:34 Determination7 The Skill Thief's Canvas - Chapter 4 / 5

He needed to find out more about Lord Aspreay.
Before that, however, he needed to get some rest.
Adam slept peacefully in his cell that night. He could tell the room had been designed to be a bit uncomfortable – although it was somehow still an improvement over his last dorm room. At least here he wouldn’t wake up in a panic over how to pay for rent. Sure, the mattress was hard, but that was fine.
Being jarred from sleep by two armored men painfully chaining his wrists together? Considerably less fine.
“Good morning,” he drowsily told the guards, as they held him up by his arms. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Tenver opened his mouth to reply, yet Esteban spoke faster and sharper. “Time for your judgement.”
Adam’s annoyance faded quickly. Compared to dragging himself out of bed at 3 A.M because fire drills were scheduled in the middle of the night for some fucking reason, he honestly didn’t mind this too much.
Instead, he took the time to glean whatever information he could from his surroundings. As Adam walked, the two guards led him down windowless, cold stone hallways. The only adornments he could spot were the numerous paintings lining the walls. Each depicted a full-body portrait of a well-dressed, handsome-looking man. He was standing proud, flanked by swords taller than himself that were stabbed into the ground.
“Hmm,” Adam muttered to himself, as he examined the paintings. All of them were close to identical; likely the result of Lord Aspreay wanting to intimidate prisoners with his ‘noble’ visage.
“Would you quit wasting our goddamn time?” Esteban shouted. Adam had been cooperative on their journey, but every time they passed by one of the portraits, he would come to a sudden halt and take an extra half second to inspect it. Those small pauses were adding up to a priceless amount of time. It wasn’t advisable to keep a Lord waiting. “You’ll see the real deal soon enough – stop gawking and start walking.”
He yanked the chains forward. Adam stumbled and almost fell flat on his face, barely managing to catch himself with his hands. His shoulders fared the worst, as Esteban kept his arms raised the entire time, pulling Adam’s muscles upward. With a little more pressure, his shoulders might have dislocated.
This is the guy Tenver says isn’t a terrible dude? Really? When Adam looked up, he was surprised to see that Esteban didn’t appear like he was mocking him. If yesterday he’d seemed nervous and hot-blooded, today he seemed flat and robotic. It was professional to the point of being fake, hinting at the stress that plagued his mind.
That didn’t make Adam any less furious. I know Tenver told me you don’t have a choice, but…I don’t give a shit.
It wasn’t how he usually processed situations like these. Life had a way of muting his emotions – a fact Adam knew better than anyone. He wouldn’t have lasted this long without developing a few defense mechanisms. As such, it was legitimately hard to make him upset at something.
People like Esteban, though, had a gift for it.
Tenver shot him a pleading look. Adam smiled appeasingly in response, hoping to convey the thought: ‘Don’t worry, I understand.’ Of course, what he actually thought was: ‘I’m going to punch this man in the face someday.’ The guard’s relieved expression showed he’d interpreted the former.
“Sorry,” Adam lied, with a smile. “I just wanted to know what the lord presiding over my fate looks like, you know?”
Esteban grunted. “Yes, yes. Keep walking. We’re almost there.”
In truth, Adam couldn’t care less about the lord’s appearance. What he was most curious about was how the paintings had been done. From what he could tell, while they were extremely similar copies of each other, each one had clearly been inked by hand. Even leaving aside clear indicators of ink, and accounting for the brief time he was afforded to glimpse at each painting, he could see some small differences or mistakes that weren’t present in all of them.
He made a mental note to append his tablet notes.*—*There is (probably) no printing press in this world. At least not one capable of reproducing paintings. This might reflect the technological level I’m dealing with.
Which was strange, since he’d seen a fucking vending machine in the woods earlier. That monstrosity had pissed him off more than Esteban ever could. Food and shelter, all yours for a low, low price! Oh, what’s that? You’re broke? Sorry, better luck next time!
Adam exhaled and took a moment to refocus his thoughts. Outside of that…thing, the level of technology here seemed downright medieval. If this supposedly greedy lord couldn’t afford identical copies of his paintings, then it probably couldn’t be done, period. Unless the man thought handpainted portraits were more impressive than printed ones, but somehow Adam didn’t think a ‘lord’ would care about expressions of individuality; just whether his extravagances would sufficiently awe visitors.
Aside from all that, there was one other detail he’d noticed – the very first, actually. A glaring issue about the paintings that was impossible to miss.
They all really, really sucked.
He’d just started to make a mental reminder to append his notes when Esteban slapped his shoulder and said, “We’re here.” The guards opened an ornate set of double doors, revealing a sight that made Adam stop cold.
Until now, a part of him had held onto the idea that he was still somewhere on Earth. That despite the monsters and magic and strange powers, he could lie to himself and imagine that this was all ‘just’ a weird government experiment. Not even eating, sleeping, and bleeding in this world had fully shaken that notion.
Somehow, it was the Throne Hall, the least fantastical thing he’d seen since getting to this place, that sealed the deal. Maybe it was exactly the mundaneness of it all that convinced him. Maybe it was just the last drop in a continuous stream of oddities that had worn down his sense of reality.
Either way, the dimly lit hall banished away those fears – and summoned new ones.
There were more candles than Adam could see in a single glance, yet they still weren’t enough to brighten the vast, windowless room. Walls made of stone had been decorated in the cover of thick, polished wooden panels, scarred by the dents of time. Six long, rectangular tables stretched throughout nearly the entirety of the Hall, separated in the middle by a red carpet that trailed from the double-door Adam and the guards entered from, all the way to a raised platform whereupon a lonely throne sat.
Thereby ruled Lord Aspreay.
While the lord was less of a perfect specimen than the paintings would have someone believe, his noble features weren’t a result of artistic liberty. Aspreay’s jawline was sharp, his eyes piercing, and his hair dark, although his skin wrinkled with the scars of time. Posture wasn’t his priority; he made a point to raise an impressive chin at their arrival, he leaned to one side, head on hand, elbow on chair.
“All may rise,” the lord declared. “The accused will kneel.”
It was here that Adam noticed the shadowy, hazy figures sitting at the tables. Until now, he hadn’t been aware of their presence. They projected elegance without arrogance, with men sporting trimmed mustaches, women displaying finely braided hair, and everyone dressed in fine silk.
Except for the fourth table, populated by moving, full suits of armor that Adam hoped contained people inside.
He quickly took note of his surroundings. Save for the fourth table, all contained the same type of men and women, and including the fourth, all displayed a lavish amount of food. It was closer to a feast than to a casual midday meal. Not that someone would have noticed from their disinterested eyes, as no occupant in the room appeared to consider the feast anything special.
At that moment, Adam’s mind flashed back to the decayed city, and to the lost souls that wandered its withering, cancerous streets. They starve, but these people…
With that reticent thought, he walked forward. Guided by sharp eyes at his back and red carpet beneath his feet, Adam marched toward the throne and briefly met the lord’s eyes. In that moment, he glimpsed a variety of emotions. Disgust, of course, and disdain too – but there was something else there as well. Something he couldn’t quite place.
There was no time to study further. He fell on one knee, hands still tied behind his back, and looked up at his judge, jury, and possibly his executioner.
How the hell was he supposed to address this guy? Adam often went for a more casual style of speaking when he got nervous. ‘Yo, ah, lord dude, we good?’ came to mind. Which probably wouldn’t be the right thing to say – although it would definitely be the last.
I should try to be more…formal. What counts as formal in this world? Maybe ‘Nice to meet you, sir’? No, that sounded too…Earth-like. Considering how medieval the place seemed, he should try to speak differently. Screw it. Not enough info to make a reasonable guess. Just going to try to be polite. “Thank you for seeing me, sir.”
Aspreay laughed. “Sir, he calls me.” The lord grinned at his servants. “You hear that?”
“Aye, my lord,” a dark-robed man said, sheepishly clasping his hands together. “Think ignorance enough to make him guilty?”
The lord shook his head. “It betrays his birth, not his guilt.”
Adam drew a deep breath. There’s no time to lose my shit over this. Don’t panic. Analyze. Make a plan. What did that exchange tell you?
It was apparent that the lords disdained his ‘Earthly’ way of speaking. While Tenver didn’t tend to speak too differently from Adam despite being a noble, it was easy to read between the lines here. Speaking like a normal person made you sound like a commoner. It gave the lords a convenient way to look down on him.
Fuck that. Decipher what they said. Pretend it’s a code.
Adam wasn’t a linguistics major, but he understood the concept of ‘Nominal Sentences’ well enough. When compared to modern English, this fancy medieval speech was just them omitting words they deemed unimportant.
It was the extreme, quasi old-timey equivalent of saying “I consider Eric my only friend.” The ‘to be’ is omitted between ‘Eric’ and ‘my’ because the context is already understood. Nobles probably found certain words fine to ignore because they shared similar backgrounds, culture, and education. It was probably why they looked down on ‘common’ speech.
Adam grit his teeth. Fine. I’ll play your game. “My lord – forgive me if I misaddress your title.” Fancy medieval speech, omit words. Why not toss in some stupid metaphors while I’m at it? “My memory is lost, and my mistakes bloom in the spring of my recovery. How should my tongue address?”
Lord Aspreay snickered as a smile crept across his face. “You have forgotten your name, but not your manners. That, I appreciate. ‘My lord’ is fitting for your station. Should your banished memories prove your rank higher, then ‘Lord Aspreay’ or ‘Lord Aspreay Walsiege will suffice.”
The lord raised an eyebrow. “Although…I don’t think we need worry much about that possibility. ‘My lord’ will do.” He spoke disdainfully, yet without the intention to insult.
Which almost made it worse.
Aspreay reminded Adam of the occasional guest artist he’d seen at class. The kind who would pridefully explain why their art was better than whatever the students had created, more focused on admiring themselves than acknowledging the existence of – let alone insulting – another work. Not all guest lecturers were like this, but it felt like every semester always had at least one of those types.
Perhaps Lord Aspreay was the fate-mandated replacement for this half of the year, Adam dryly thought.
“I understand, my lord,” Adam replied, closing his eyes and lowering his head in a bow. Stay calm. Keep analyzing. Aspreay had lowered the quasi-medieval speech a bit after their initial verbal exchange. Maybe Adam could talk to him like something resembling a human being now. Or at least like a theater major who’d had too many drinks. “I thank you for your patience and place myself under your wise judgement.”
The lord appeared pleased at that. A moment later, the black robed servant from earlier approached him from behind and handed him a parchment. Aspreay grabbed it with one hand, lazily eyeing it without taking his elbow off the armrest.
“Do you know what you are accused of?” His voice seemed colder all of a sudden.
“No, my lord. I fear I’ve lost my memories.”
“A terrible fate to be suffered…or a prohibitively lucky coincidence.” ‘Too lucky to be believed’ was the omitted ending, Adam thought.
Lord Aspreay sat up for the first time, leaning forward to eye Adam suspiciously. “Two crimes you are accused of. Carrying word of our city to another, and carrying contact of the forbidden beasts into the city.”
In other words – being a spy and getting close to a monster. Better to start with the former.
“I have not and could not carry word to other cities,” Adam said calmly. Almost too calmly. Why am I not nervous right now? “But I assume just claiming as much is hardly enough proof for you, my lord.”
Lord Aspreay smiled. “I question neither your wit nor your manners, but your integrity is another matter. You understand my position, yes?”
“Understand? God, no. I barely understand the world around me, my lord.” Adam flashed a grin at the end. “I can guess, however.”
“Guess, not understand…good, very good. Tell me of what you surmise. Let us work together, shall we?” Lord Aspreay spoke in a friendly tone, as if he wasn’t contemplating ordering Adam’s execution. “Why do you think I fear your allegiances?”
“Because of my entry point to the city,” Adam said. “Lacking in memory, I had no idea there was a proper checkpoint to follow – so I just tried entering the city through the barrier. I imagine spies would do that?”
“They would,” Lord Aspreay nodded, as if playing along with a game. “Even if you have no memories, it should stand to reason that spies would prefer to enter a city unaccounted for. Members of the spy class, generally speaking, are the only ones who can attempt to pass through the barriers without much fanfare.”
An immediate, bright thought popped into Adam’s head. “Ah –my lord, though my hands are chained, if you would have your men check…you will see that one of my hands is quite burned. Would a spy burn their hands upon touching the Barrier?”
The lord turned his head to one of the tables. “Is that true, Esteban?” Adam didn’t turn around to see the response, but he saw Aspreay nod thoughtfully. “It does make you an unlikely spy. Mayhap merely a lackwit…but not likely, considering this conversation. Although a crafty spy might endeavor to use such an injury as justification.”
The nobleman let out a loud, thoughtful sound as he rubbed his chin. “Nevertheless, my immediate opinion is that such actions do not become of you.”
I…think that means he doesn’t think I did it? Adam dared to feel optimism. “Then you agree–”
“–However…unlikeliness does not mean an impossibility. If I am not certain you are a spy, prudence would have me execute you regardless, no?”
Adam somehow remained composed. He values propriety. Keep steady. Panic, and he’ll lose interest. “Even if I am likely innocent?”
“Even if I think you innocent,” he agreed, “I cannot place my subjects – those I know to be innocent – at risk.”
“You would bloody your hands?”
“I am a lord.” He spoke as if this were enough. At Adam’s blank stare, he added, harshly, “My duty is often to paint red with my sword.”
I’d wager you never color it with your own ink. Adam bit his lip. Great, the theater kid is infecting me.
After that momentary annoyance, the next emotion he felt was fury. This man’s logic was absurd. He was willing to kill innocents on the off-chance that they were guilty? Asshole. It was hardly difficult to administer harsh punishments from atop a throne and surrounded by feasts.
In spite of everything, Adam remained calm. If he wasn’t respectful, this wouldn’t work. “That makes sense. My lord is most wise.”
“Oh?” There was some amusement in the lord’s words. “You speak truly?”
“Of course, my lord.”
Aspreay harrumphed and swaggered as if expecting Adam to raise an objection. He looked like the kind of man who enjoyed drawing the ire of his inferiors. Evidently, he wasn’t used to commoners agreeing with him.
“I do not expect you to risk your city to save my insignificant life,” Adam continued, “but you are a kind, noble man. You would not take my life if there was a way to ensure the city wouldn’t be affected.”
“And I suppose you have a way in mind?”
“Yes. Keep me imprisoned.”
The hall went silent.
During that period of respite, it was finally quiet enough for Adam to notice how many people were muttering in the background. Though he couldn’t see their faces, he had to imagine they looked as shocked as the Aspreay. “You would sentence yourself to an eternity in a dungeon?” the lord asked in disbelief.
It honestly wouldn’t be too different from college. “No. Until my memories return. At that point, I would be able to explain my background and adequately convince you that I am no spy. And until then…well, even if I were a spy, I would do the city no harm while locked in that cell, right?”
“And you would be content with that arrangement?”
“I have lost my memories,” Adam said. “I have nowhere to go, nor the ability to feed myself. The jail cell would be a luxury.”
“Perhaps.” He nodded. “But feeding you would cost us coin – you may not know this, but the city suffers. We must curb our expenses.”
Unsaid in the lord’s explanation was: ‘And immediate execution is cheaper than a long term prison sentence’. Despite sounding as if he fully believed himself to be reasonable, he’d moved from his people’s safety to a monetary justification in the blink of an eye, as if they were one and the same. Worst of all, he seemed unaware of the hypocrisy of worrying over expenses when this ‘trial’ practically had a buffet readied for its guests.
I want to strangle this bastard, Adam thought, his chained hands twitching. With a smile, he said, “Ah, but there is more to say, my lord. Would you allow me to make an offer?”
“By all means.”
“I saw on my way here that you are an admirer of art,” he said. “You have collected many portraits of yourself.”
“What of it?”
“I am a painter,” Adam proudly stated. This was the first thing he said today that didn’t sound like bullshit to his own ears. “And I can do better work than what you have right now. By a significant amount.”
If the earlier silence had let Adam know that other people were muttering, now he was painfully aware of the dozens of whispers in the background, so many that they added up to a hazy cloud of noise pollution. That was fine. He’d expected this reaction.
Lord Aspreay barked out a laugh. “You claim to have no memory and expect me to find no issue with you claiming to be a painter?
“Why not?” Adam asked sharply. “You take no issue with me being able to walk, and I’ll go as far as to say you’d never be confused that a bird can fly. Why question that I can paint?”
“Romantic,” the lord replied in a droll tone. “Yet lacking in substance. Can you prove it to me?”
“Can you give me a canvas, oil, and ink?”
It was here that, for the first time, Aspaready appeared to truly consider Adam’s words. The lord narrowed his eyes and leaned back in his throne. “And if you fail to meet my expectations?”
“Then my lord needs not bother executing me – if I fail to impress someone whose expectations were set by those paintings, then I will gladly slice my own throat.”
Adam was intentionally trying to be dramatic, but he found himself surprised at how much he meant the words. It wasn’t like he felt particularly confident in his oil painting skills. By most definitions, he was an average artist, and while he enjoyed oil painting, he struggled with it. Pencils and styluses were kinder to him than a brush.
Still, the paintings in this world had no perspective at all. They were flatter than what Adam’s old roommate thought Earth was. The full-body portraits of Lord Aspreay had shown no depth between the bushes, rocks, the man himself, or the sword in his hand. The image looked flat, like an old medieval painting.
People often said that perspective in art wasn’t invented until the 1400s. That wasn’t true. Many old drawings showed a semblance of depth and perspective, to varying degrees of success. It was true, however, that Filippo Brunelleschi codified the technique into a mathematical science during the 1400s. Before then, the quality of 3D spaces in art was inconsistent.
"Perspective" in art is an illusion. A carefully crafted trick honed over many generations. Be it either a lack of interest in the trick, or a lack of opportunity to learn from each other, the fact remained that many old paintings looked extremely flat.
And – in Adam's opinion – boring.
Modern perspective would seem like magic to them. A boring, “realistic” style would greatly impress them – especially since the bar for realism was set so goddamn low. Adam might not be particularly tall, but he could still stand upon Da Vinci’s shoulders to reach new heights.
Well, Brunelleschi’s shoulders in this case, but the point stood. This was a world that lacked a printing press and appeared to have a medieval understanding of perspective.
More importantly…art is a luxury, isn’t it? Adam suppressed a grin. Tenver told me your Talent decides everything. Your job. Your skills. It’s how you earn Orbs, how you earn a goddamn living. Non-vital Talents are reserved for sworn servants of rich lords.
Having an artist must be almost as expensive as being one.
And Lord Aspreay, rich as he was, still lived in a dying city suffering from a literal tumor. Tenver had described this place as a remnant of better days; the current dumping ground of the Empire that even trading caravans tried to stay away from. Aspreay could posture as he wanted, feast at the cost of his people’s lives if he dared, but his luxuries were limited not by Orbs, but by availability. Having a proper court painter would be a luxury few lords could boast.
“As I understand,” Adam continued, “my second crime is coming into contact with the creatures outside. Yet I seem not to have been infected by them, right?” He was just guessing that the creature was infectious, but between the tumor and the comments he’d heard, it sounded like a reasonable enough assumption.
“Thus far,” Lord Aspreay conceded. “But that could yet change, if symptoms were to…not to mention, the crime of exposing yourself to such risk, of exposing the city to such risk is–”
Adam raised his head in a dramatic motion. “A foul deed that one should pay with their own life!” he loudly proclaimed. Beneath his clothes, he covertly tested his Ink, making sure it could still shoot out of his hand if necessary. Time to go for broke. “And I will pay that price!”
“You will pay with…your life? Speak plainly!”
“Twenty years,” Adam said. “Even if I regain my memories and I am deemed to be a free man, I will pay back your kindness with twenty years of my work.”
The lord fell into quiet contemplation. Adam could see the gears turning in his head. Yes…this should be a good deal for you, shouldn’t it?
If Adam was incompetent or not a painter at all, then some rope around his neck would easily sort things out. But if he really was as talented as he claimed...well, then having him legally enslaved for twenty years would be the bargain of a lifetime.
Sure, most people would probably view it as horribly exploiting a vulnerable young man, but Adam figured Aspreay was too much of a 'lord' to think of it that way.
Not that I have any intention of staying here for twenty years, Adam mused. But I do need money, food, and shelter. And if his gambit failed…well, Adam was still reasonably certain he could break his chains and attempt an escape. He liked his odds at winning over the lord better than escaping a city full of guards, though.
“You will not leave this building until your memories return?” Aspreay asked, with a thoughtful tone.
Adam nodded.
“And even after regaining your memories, you will work here for twenty years?”
Adam nodded.
The lord paused. “What guarantees are there that you would not try to harm me – or other members of my court? Your artistic duties would have you standing closely by our side.”
“You are free to keep my legs chained if you wish to limit my movements.”
After another long pause, Lord Aspreay nodded to the same cloaked servant from earlier. Once more he fetched a piece of parchment, but this time he brought it not to his lord, but to Adam. “What’s that? A contract? I–”
The servant didn’t allow him to finish. The next thing he knew, the cloaked old man had absently stabbed him in the arm with what looked like a bird’s feather, but felt like a knife.
Before Adam could so much as mutter a curse, the servant put the bloodied feather to his parchment. A second later, he looked up to Aspready with a smile. “My lord – he lies not. This man is truly a painter by the name Adam. He shows no sign of spying abilities.”
“Is that so? Consider yourself lucky, Adam the Painter. A single use of that parchment is quite expensive in these parts.”
Which was probably why they hadn’t used it before starting this ‘trial.’ Then again…this had always been closer to a negotiation than a trial. If Adam hadn’t piqued his interest, then Aspreay probably wouldn’t have bothered, even if it was free.
Don’t let your emotions get the best out of you. Focus. Anything odd about that parchment? For one, it seemed that the parchments were single-use, unlike his tablet. For another, it looked like they couldn’t see his Rank or abilities. This plan could have gone horribly wrong if they were able to tell how low his “Talent” was.
But most of all…none of them looked shocked that he was a painter. Surprised, yes, but not shocked. If merely coming into contact with monsters was grounds for execution, then shouldn’t they feel strongly about someone who could seal the beasts inside his drawings?
Maybe that wasn’t something most painters could do.
“I accept your noble commitment to the city!” Lord Aspreay announced, with a booming declaration. “On your feet, Adam! Roland, unchain him – no, no, you need not bother with his feet. Look into his eyes! Feel the man’s honesty and devotion to justice!”
You’re so quick to trust me now that you’ve confirmed my Talent doesn’t involve fighting, Adam thought, with resentment. Wonder if you’d still be so trusting if you knew I could turn my blood into ink, stab you in the throat, and spider-man my way out of here.
Thunderous applause echoed in that shadowy room. Lord Aspreay himself led the effort, with every man and woman rushing to join him. It was an expected response; when a lord clapped, you clapped with him, regardless of your own opinions.
As Adam was unchained by the robed man, he and Aspreay continued to stare at one another. He shoved down the disdain threatening to surface, and instead portrayed the expression of a placid, agreeable, lowly artist who understood his place. That was who Lord Aspreay wanted to see.
Let him think Adam was that man. For now.
At the very least, he was glad to be able to move his arms again. He focused on that emotion as he joined Tenver and Esteban at their table – it made it easier to flash somewhat of a genuine smile at them.
“Thank you,” Tenver whispered as he made space for Adam to sit down. “I know it’s a huge sacrifice you’re making, and that this isn’t fair. But you did the right thing to keep yourself alive. After a while, I will talk to Lord Aspreay to reduce your years of servitude. I promise.”
Adam found his smile more genuine now. “I appreciate that.” He wasn’t planning on staying even a tenth of that term, but he considered it a nice gesture nonetheless – if a bit on the naive side. “Can’t complain, honestly. Got to keep my head.”
“It’s still not right.” Tenver’s whisper lowered to a mutter, his eyes burning with intensity. “I know…” He trailed off and shook his head. “It’s rude of me to say that I know. But I can imagine how hard it is to have no idea why suddenly your life is in someone else’s hand.”
Considering what you told me last night, maybe you really do. “Just gotta keep my head down and look for a brighter tomorrow, right?”
“Of course.” Tenver laughed. “That’s simply how life is. Even if you didn’t volunteer to live under those rules, it doesn’t mean you can ignore them. You have to understand them. Understand him.
Ah, if only you knew. “Planning on it. Getting to know Lord Aspreay is my top priority.”
“As it should be.”
Adam didn’t miss that Tenver went from philosophical to practical without missing a beat. “The lord is an odd man, but even the maddest of men have their own internal laws that they follow. It will be easier to live with him once you learn what his are.
“Doesn’t sound like you’re pleased about it.”
Tenver didn’t drop his smile, but he did add a slight tension to it. “Doing the right thing is rarely pleasant. Nevertheless, I became an Imperial Guard for a reason. If the system cannot be changed, then I will save people from within it.”
Too optimistic, Adam thought. You can’t help people from inside a broken system. It’s just going to break you down. He didn’t allow his bitterness to show, though. Much as the whole thing was a foolish aspiration, he had to admire the guy for trying. “I’m glad this city has you, Tenver.”
“Thank you, Adam. And before I forget – here you are.” Tenver pulled out Adam’s backpack from under the table and handed it to him. “You seemed very concerned about this earlier, so I figured you’d prefer to have it by your side than leave it alone in the cell.”
“I really do,” Adam excitedly said, pulling his tablet out. “Thank you. Didn’t realize how nervous I was feeling without this.”
Partially because of its connection to his powers, and partially simply because it was expensive as hell. Not that he could buy another while stuck in this world. His tablet was, in every sense of the word, irreplaceable.
“Aren’t you worried?” Tenver gestured at the tablet. “There’s a lot of food and drink here. Won’t they ruin the fabric on your canvas?”
“Fabric?” Adam asked. He only allowed his confusion to last a moment. No way he could afford to look suspicious right now. “Ah…yeah. Don’t worry about it. Painters work in mysterious ways.”
He quickly shifted his eyes around the room to see that most people – the few who spared him any glimpses at all – seemed to be regarding him the same way: not as someone holding an unknown device no one had ever seen before, but as a weirdo who was carrying around an empty canvas.
After briefly turning the bright screen toward Tenver and seeing no reaction, Adam immediately drew out his stylus and wrote a new assumption into his notes.
—People in this world cannot see the tablet. They see a canvas instead. Unclear on the limits of the illusion or its exact shape. Maybe consider testing–
Very few things could divert Adam’s attention when he was focused on his tablet. The fact that he found himself looking at the source of the scream meant everyone else must’ve been already paying attention to it for some time. Only now did he see the kneeling woman, standing where Adam had been a few minutes ago, pleading her case to Lord Aspreay.
Except he seemed more annoyed now. “Woman, be reasonable. Guilty of a crime, by your own admission. Why should you avoid punishment?”
“He – he was also guilty,” she said, pointing in Adam’s general direction. “And my lord showed him mercy. I only ask that you show me that same mercy.”
“Adam did more than ask for mercy. He bought it with his talent, wit, and reason. I give you the same chance, peasant. Have you anything to offer me?”
“Offer? My lord, I’m from Austern. Ever since the city fell, I’ve done nothing but wander and look for a new home. I heard tales of Penumbria, its rapid growth in the Empire, its kind lord–”
“A liar,” Lord Aspreay said. His voice was calm. Too calm. “Not only do you come into my city illegally, not only do you come without bearing gifts, but you also lie. Place yourself in my position, my good woman. A lying criminal demands to further strain your limited resources…would you entertain her?”
“My lord,” the woman began, in a shaky voice, “I beg of you. I am no liar. Truly, I am from Austern!”
Here the lord leaned forward, a frown on his forehead. “That I do not doubt. But if you ran from Austern, you would have passed Coimbrago and Almadares first…and here,” he tapped at a piece of parchment, “we have reports from those cities that you indeed did.
At that last bit, the woman gasped, causing the lord to smirk in response. “Are you surprised we were aware of that much? Did you think we, at the dumping grounds of the empire, are so dumb and uneducated as to not know our surroundings?”
She went pale. “My…my lord…”
“They turned you down. And so you came to Penumbria, your last choice.” The lord’s face contorted in fury. “You insult my city by thinking of it as lesser than those whoreson-led cockroach nests, then dare to ask for mercy? No!”
The woman was trembling. “As you said it yourself, my lord, those cities were closer to my fallen Austern. I stopped there because I feared the monsters–”
“My decision is made.” The lord stood up. “Your crimes are not so severe as to forfeit your life. Nonetheless, you are not welcome into my city.”
Lord Aspreay raised his hand. Adam felt the entire room tense. With a flick of his wrist, the lord beckoned the hapless commoner forward, his voice low and menacing. The accused woman hesitated, sensing the danger lurking in the motion.
Before she could react, the lord unleashed his magic, and the walls of the throne room yawned open like a gaping maw.
A powerful, invisible force like a mighty tornado threw the woman off her feet, her limbs flailing as she hurtled through the opening. Her terrified scream echoed long after her body disappeared in a dizzying, spinning blur. Somehow, whether through instinct or a power he didn’t understand, Adam knew the woman had landed outside the barrier.
Lord Aspreay stood at the threshold, his features twisted in an eerie smile. “Begone from my territory,” he spat, his voice echoing across the courtyard.
And with that, he closed the walls behind him, stone moving itself into place as if alive.
Lord Aspreay Arcanjo
Talent: Domain Lord (Baron)
Skill: Dominion (Baron)
None can enter this domain without the Talented’s permission. Those without permission are forcibly ejected outside. Complete control over his palace’s stone. Has perfect knowledge of who resides inside his domain at all times. Cannot die while inside his domain.
“That is why,” Tenver whispered, “I said you did well.”


Thanks for reading!
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2023.05.25 15:14 InternetTraumatized Today's sermon, from an Orthodox church

Every Sunday, or whenever it is possible, I give a recap of the sermon I heard at church today. I often alternate between Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches.
Today's readings:
Isaiah 2:2-3
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 62:10-63:3,7-9
Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, luft up a banner for the peoples! Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.’ ” And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength?—“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes.” I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, “Surely they are My people, children who will not lie.” So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old.
Zachariah 14:1,4,8-11
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—“The Lord is one,” and His name one. All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin’s Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. The people shall dwell in it; and no longer shall there be utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
John 12:36-47
“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
In this reading of the Gospel, we see something that may be disturbing: it is said that the Pharisees could not believe in Christ because God blinded them. How to understand this? It must be understood that there are two manners of sight, sight according to the flesh and sight according to the Spirit. According to the flesh, both the opponents and the Apostles of Jesus saw Him as a man. But, He did not want them to see Him as a man, but to see Him as God, not with their carnal sight but with their spiritual sight. This is why He blinded their physical sight—so that, not recognizing Him as the human Messiah, they would be spurned on to spiritual sight and see Him as God, which His Apostles ultimately did.
Acts 1:1-12
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
Luke 24:36-53
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
Today is the feast of the Ascension of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a paradoxical feast: we commemorate the departure of the One Whom we love, Christ, yet we see the Apostles bursting with joy. In contrast, in August we commemorate the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, which is quite a similar feast, yet the Apostles are depicted as sorrowful. So, why this difference? Why is the departure of their Lord a cause of celebration? Let us meditate on the matter.
For 40 days, the Apostles had been with the risen Christ, in what can only be described as a period of indescribable joy, for two reasons: first, that Christ has returned, and second, that Christ has been established as the Messiah, the Apostle of God, the One awaited by the Jews. For these 40 days, He taught His Apostles the proper interpretation of the Scriptures, as well as what is the will of God, His design for mankind. Then, with the Ascension, the Apostles understand that He will remain in their hearts.
This is the reason for their joy: Christ told them when He was with them that He must send them the Holy Spirit so that He may be with them forever (John 14:16-18,25-28). His departure and absence therefore become the guarantee of His gift of the Holy Spirit which is His very presence.
The period between the Ascension and Pentecost become a time of joyful expectation. The Apostles did not know what was going to happen exactly. And this is also the situation of us all: we live within the Church, we have received Christ and His doctrine, we receive the sacraments, Christ is not physically present with us, and we must live in joyful expectation, not knowing what God will send us nor how the Spirit, the Breath of God, will enliven and empower us. Let us therefore always live in expectation of the Holy Spirit.
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2023.05.25 15:09 InternetTraumatized Today's sermon, from an Orthodox church

Every Sunday, or whenever it is possible, I give a recap of the sermon I heard at church today. I often alternate between Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches.
Today's readings:
Isaiah 2:2-3
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 62:10-63:3,7-9
Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, luft up a banner for the peoples! Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.’ ” And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength?—“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes.” I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, “Surely they are My people, children who will not lie.” So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old.
Zachariah 14:1,4,8-11
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—“The Lord is one,” and His name one. All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin’s Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. The people shall dwell in it; and no longer shall there be utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
John 12:36-47
“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
In this reading of the Gospel, we see something that may be disturbing: it is said that the Pharisees could not believe in Christ because God blinded them. How to understand this? It must be understood that there are two manners of sight, sight according to the flesh and sight according to the Spirit. According to the flesh, both the opponents and the Apostles of Jesus saw Him as a man. But, He did not want them to see Him as a man, but to see Him as God, not with their carnal sight but with their spiritual sight. This is why He blinded their physical sight—so that, not recognizing Him as the human Messiah, they would be spurned on to spiritual sight and see Him as God, which His Apostles ultimately did.
Acts 1:1-12
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
Luke 24:36-53
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
Today is the feast of the Ascension of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a paradoxical feast: we commemorate the departure of the One Whom we love, Christ, yet we see the Apostles bursting with joy. In contrast, in August we commemorate the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, which is quite a similar feast, yet the Apostles are depicted as sorrowful. So, why this difference? Why is the departure of their Lord a cause of celebration? Let us meditate on the matter.
For 40 days, the Apostles had been with the risen Christ, in what can only be described as a period of indescribable joy, for two reasons: first, that Christ has returned, and second, that Christ has been established as the Messiah, the Apostle of God, the One awaited by the Jews. For these 40 days, He taught His Apostles the proper interpretation of the Scriptures, as well as what is the will of God, His design for mankind. Then, with the Ascension, the Apostles understand that He will remain in their hearts.
This is the reason for their joy: Christ told them when He was with them that He must send them the Holy Spirit so that He may be with them forever (John 14:16-18,25-28). His departure and absence therefore become the guarantee of His gift of the Holy Spirit which is His very presence.
The period between the Ascension and Pentecost become a time of joyful expectation. The Apostles did not know what was going to happen exactly. And this is also the situation of us all: we live within the Church, we have received Christ and His doctrine, we receive the sacraments, Christ is not physically present with us, and we must live in joyful expectation, not knowing what God will send us nor how the Spirit, the Breath of God, will enliven and empower us. Let us therefore always live in expectation of the Holy Spirit.
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2023.05.25 10:46 YukiteruAmano92 There Will Be Scritches Pt.96

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---Emiko’s perspective---
“And, without further ado, I shall hand you off to the coordinator of this expedition, Emiko ‘Smiles’ Miyazaki.” says Mudaliar, gesturing to me.
I step to the podium flanked by Thran to my left.
I am the last to speak.
We’ve already heard Intelligence Agents briefing us on currently available information about the Revanchists, Mudaliar giving an impassioned speech on the significance of our mission and, now, it’s my turn.
Comparatively, my task is rather mundane and functional.
I just have to give basic introductions.
However, I decide to start by saying “Thank you all for coming… You have heard my colleagues tell you about the recent attempt on my life and the life of Representative Mudaliar here. So, I would like to start by saying that, if any of you do not wish to proceed on this voyage, you may walk away now. The ODR will not seek to punish you in any way for valuing your own safety!”
I pause here and look around for anyone making to leave.
As anxiety inducing as it is to make this offer, it is the right thing to do.
The contracts they have all signed have punitive breach clauses.
I would hate for any of them to feel forced onto this expedition because they didn’t realise that those clauses wouldn’t be enforced under these circumstances.
Mercifully, no one makes to go.
“Good! Then, I shall start on the introductions.” I smile “As Mr Mudaliar said, I am Emiko ‘Smiles’ Miyazaki and I am the coordinator of this expedition. This…” I gesture to Thran “…is my bodyguard, Thran ‘Gimli’ Hunter. To my right, you can see Tcakqaal, 27th Daughter of Highspire Peak, the owner and Captain of the Bright Plume, the vessel that shall be conveying us to AG10790263b. Beside her are CSS Victor ‘Cuddles’ Taylor, ASO Tuun ‘Elf’…” I smile as I remember the girl’s request for how to introduce her “…soon to become ASO Tuun ‘Elf’ Taylor… and SO Brunhilda ‘Samus’ Arran… The Bright Plume’s security team… At the back there…”
I gesture to the permanently sneering R’qali woman on a species specific perch with her husband.
Every head turns to her.
She seems momentarily surprised by being the first to be introduced after those on stage.
It only takes her a moment to adopt a slight smirk, letting me know exactly what she’s thinking; ‘Yes, I am that important!’
“…you will see Waqa’arc, 15th Daughter of Highspire Peak and her lifemate, Akrat. She is the expedition’s Compliance Officer… so everyone be on your best behaviour around her(!)”
There’s a slight titter and the woman resumes her sneer.
“In the front row here…” I gesture to the tall, slender, dark skinned woman “…you will see Lt Xon ‘Longstride’ Loper, our Military Liaison and Advisor.”
She stands and turns, holding up her hand in greeting and letting all see her face.
“Over there, you will see Dr Nkasiogi ‘Hook’ Zunberi and, beside her, Dr Felicity ‘Scowls’ Mink…”
I think about saying ‘Soon to become Felicity ‘Scowls’ Zunberi’ but decide against it as she made no such request.
“Dr Zunberi and Dr Mink are our expedition’s conservation consultants. It bears mentioning that Dr Zunberi’s brother, sat beside Dr Mink, is also called Dr Zunberi and is also employed on the ship, though independently and not as an ODR contractor… Over there…” I gesture to the Vietnamese and Navajo gentlemen “…you’ll see Dr Cường ‘Heart’ Phan and Dr Niyol ‘Healer’ Hatathli, our Humanitarian observers. Beside Dr Phan is our press liaison, Soo ‘Nose’…”
The Suigu shape shifts to gain 60cm or so of height and twists her gelatinous body around with a broad grin on her face.
“Just there…” I indicate the large amphibian man “…is our Technologies Officer, Baorbo. There…” I gesture to the diminutive Russian who stands up on top of her chair to get the height necessary to make herself visible “…you can see Dr Olga ‘Data’ Grigoryevna Petrikov, our data analyst. Over there…” I gesture to the plump, half Denisovan woman “…is Dr Jae ‘Peach’ Stone, our sociologist. Beside her is Tymancha ‘Eagle’ Nulgynet, our tracker and wilderness survival expert. Over there…” I gesture to the UTCIS agents “…you’ll see Agent Leon ‘Kennedy’ Byrne and Agent Ziva ‘Whisper’ Pereira, our Intelligence Officers. Next to Agent Byrne…” I gesture to the little cyclopean woman “…is our statistician, Enas. At the front here, you will see Master Shí Dǎo Yuán, our health and fitness instructor. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly and personally thank Master Yuán for his effective resolution of the other night’s assassination attempt.” I say, warmly.
The man smiles and waves a hand as if to say ‘It was nothing at all, really!’, in spite of the significant injuries and blood loss he sustained!
“Just there…” I indicate the pale skinned, statuesque Spelvuk woman and her Eurasian American husband “…are Drs Fischer, Alchyinad ‘Dimitrescu’ and Marc ‘King-of-the-Squirrels’. They provide onboard therapy and counselling sessions and I encourage any who feel they would benefit to make use of their services… Apologies in advance for your packed schedules, Doctors(!)” I quip.
The Fischer man shakes his fist at me in mock frustration as his wife does a hissing giggle through her sharp teeth.
I turn to indicate the blond New Australian “That gentleman there is Mr Steve ‘Taipan’ Kelly, our consultant on natural toxins and animal handling.” he stands and grins around, genially “There is Dr Yasmin ‘Gold Tongue’ Soltani, our linguist. Here…” I signal the large, brown furred Ursus sapiens “…is Dr Björn ‘Mimir’ Túpuson, our historiographer, and, beside him…” I indicate the Terran woman with the most heavily modded appearance of anyone I’ve ever known personally “…Dr Lilith ‘Unicorn’ Morningstar and…” I gesture to the metre and a half tall man who looks uncannily like a humanoid owl “…Strik, our folklorist and archaeologist, respectively. Over there…” I motion to the slender, pale blue skinned, Qlofltli woman “…is Weyavl, our political analyst and, beside her…” I motion to the bulky, four armed, crimson skinned man who, with his mouth shut, has a deceptively avian looking snout. When he opens his mouth, you’re able to see that what looks like his beak, when its hidden in his lips, is actually a single, long, conical tusk, jutting from his bottom jaw and adapted to piercing the shells of the crablike creatures that are his people’s main food source on their cradleworld, Karg “…is our architectural consultant, Gamoiwoth… I’m afraid that that will have to conclude our introductions of those already aboard. Sincere apologies if your name was left out.”
There just isn’t time to introduce everyone of the nonODR crew, we would be here all night!
It feels odd specifically leaving out Cookie, Mouse and Hasiakh, and only giving Mage a partial introduction but, if I introduced them, then there’s really no excuse for not introducing the entire crew!
Only the ODR contractors, Captain and security team…
Everyone else will have to meet and introduce themselves on their own time.
“Now, on to introducing the new arrivals. Ms Miraala?”
I beckon the mermaid to the stage, invitingly.
She hovers up the steps, seeming to have already navigated to the ‘gradients’ setting and adjusted it to make her ascent smoother.
She begins signing to the room, her translation giving the effect of a raised voice to her gestures, exaggerated for greater visibility.
“It is lovely to meet all of you! I am Miraala and I am an Osiyul. I shall be the Oceanographer on this expedition. I hope you will keep me safe(!)” she wobbles her head which layers a humorous tone over the last sentence she signs “…Thank you.”
She hovers to one side to make room for the next new crewmember.
“Short and sweet…” I smile “…Thank you, Miraala. Sknz’h…? Could I ask you to come to the stage and introduce yourself?”
The roughworlder who stands and begins making her way up the central aisle between seats is, more than any other sapient I’ve ever laid eyes on, the stuff of. absolute. nightmares!
Her entire body is encased in glossy, chitin plates, in dark brown, with vivid scarlet and pale beige accents.
Behind her trails around 5m of what it isn’t quite accurate to call a ‘tail’.
It’s lined with dozens of short, chitinous legs, that keep it suspended from the ground, making it a hind body segment, however much it looks like a long, thick tail.
Her forebody consists of six long limbs, four of which are currently being held nervously in front of her chest, two of which she is stood upright on. Though, she is capable of moving on all six in a sprint.
The 12 fingers of her four hands each have one fewer joints than a Human’s, the four thumbs each being a single claw with only a knuckle joint, the two fingers they each oppose having one joint in the middle in addition to their knuckles.
The two claws on each of her feet, like her thumbs, have only a single, knuckle joint.
Her head, more than anything else about her, resembles a centipede's, with two compound eyes, three sets of two mandibles and two long, sensory antennae, whisking this way and that.
The most instinctively disturbing thing about this woman, however, is not her appearance… nor the clicking and clacking of her chitin on the polished wood of the gymnasium’s floor… it’s something I know about her…
That is not her body.
In fact, what I’m looking at isn’t even the body of a sapient creature!
Or… it is… in the same way as the clothes I’m wearing are the clothes of a sapient creature…
The actual body of the woman (piloting a livestock animal specifically bred as ideal hosts to the stage) is around the size of my fist and located at the base of it’s skull, surgically implanted there at its birth.
According to rumour, there were dark science attempts made to implant her species into the bodies of Human’s during the War.
Though, again according to rumour, even devoid of a cerebellum, the Human body’s immune system was simply too potent to allow for any operational value to come of such twisted experiments. Immunosuppression simply meant succumbing to Human pathogens instead of our white blood cells.
It's chilling to think, in a reality just a little to the left of our own, I might have had to fight against Human, meatpuppet, corpses piloted around the battlefield by a sapient parasite species!
‘Then again…’ I think, as I watch her climb the stage ‘…I can’t let my instinctive revulsion for how she looks or how her species lifecycle works prejudice me against her! She can’t help what she is any more than I can help being a deathworlder and, more importantly, neither of us should have to!… She’s not hurting anyone… unless you count the animal who’s lobotomised body she’s claimed… That’s not really any different, ethically, to people eating meat not grown in a lab, though… It’s not as if it’s suffering… I really hope!!!… Nope! I need to stop thinking about it and just treat her the same way I would treat any other sapient!… Honestly, Emiko! This is precisely the kind of prejudice that the ODR exists to mitigate!… You can’t let squeamishness get in the way of respect!’
The Vk’unhz woman, in the body of a hrszk centipede, mounts the stage and, in contrast to her stomach churning appearance, excitedly introduces herself with the translated tone of a nervous, squeaky voiced girl as she says “Hello… My name is Sknz’h and I am the anatomist… I’m a colleague of Thaïs at Citadel University of the Biological Sciences…” she gestures to the, yet to be introduced, androgynous Human at the back of the room, where she was sitting “…but… of course… you haven’t met them yet, have you…*heheh*…” she laughs, nervously “…erm… I’m… hoping to learn a lot about the new species and help with things like developing nervejacking that will allow translators to work for them… as well as…err… perhaps, seeing about possible medical advances, that might be possible because of them… and, possibly-no, that’s too many ‘possibles’!… Erm… Anyway… I look forward to working with all of you… and… if you ever hear either me or Thaïs shouting ‘ITS ALIIIIIVE!!!’… don’t worry about it(!)”
That was an admirable attempt at diffusing her poor introduction speech with humour…
It didn’t land well!
My guess is that most others in the audience are as (or more) put off by the woman’s appearance than I am.
Kindly, I smile “Thank you, Ms Sknz’h! We very much look forward to working with you as well… Could I ask Thaïs ‘Darwin’ Lamark to come up and introduce themself?”
The light haired Frenchperson at the back of the room stands and begins to make their way up to the stage.
Despite their almost teenaged appearance, they are about to become the oldest Terran aboard the Bright Plume at 125!
They are short and slender with fair skin, flaxen coloured hair and pale blue eyes.
Everything about their face and body is perfectly epicene.
With grace and confidence not demonstrated by their Vk’unhz colleague, Thaïs introduces themself “Yes, hello… I am Thaïs. As my friend Skunzie has let you know, we two are colleagues at a University here on Citadel, where we collaborate quite closely… I am a geneticist and evolutionary scientist… and quite an accomplished one at that. Where no one can tell you better than she what anatomical features an organism possesses, no one can tell you better than I why it possesses them. Together with her, I hope to be able to build a comprehensive natural history of this new species and its ecology. I thank you all for enabling us to do that.”
Thaïs steps aside.
Their demeanour is slightly arrogant but, somehow, charming in spite of that!
“Alright then. Thank you Mx Lamark… Next, Mr Ro’oo’u’ouu…” I say, croaking a sound like a groaning tree branch and probably butchering the pronunciation “…I wont ask you to come onto the stage. Please, stay where you are and introduce yourself.”
I smile kindly at the impractically gargantuan man.
Easily 9m tall, with a body of gnarled wood and a language of deep, slow creaks, reminiscent of unsped-up whale song, the massive Grauntian has gravitic compensator devices festooning his body, even in this Galactic Standard gravity.
Obviously, no private room on the ship is capable of accommodating him.
Fortunately though, he has assured us that being allowed an allotment of space in Hydroponics along with plenty of clean, fresh water, is all he needs.
His species don’t get bored easily and don’t tend to move unless they have somewhere they need to go, so he says he’ll happily curl up under the lights and not go crawling about the corridors(!)
His body plan is, more or less, humanoid, with two long legs, over which is a trunk, on the sides of which are two long arms and over which is a head.
Fine manipulation is not performed by his stiff, woody hands, instead being done by prehensile vine tendrils that sprout from his body here and there.
His chest, back, shoulders, arms and head are covered in thick foliage, having the effect of making him look like a Human with a very thick coat of body hair(!)
I say ‘he’ but, in actuality, his species do not divide themselves by gender, despite being sexual.
Having no sexual dimorphism (aside from the fact that one sex produces pollen and the other seeds) and no burden of care to their offspring, Grauntians don’t really have any concept of themselves as male or female and, instead, divide themselves by age.
Roughly translated, their five ages are ‘sprout’, ‘sapling’, ‘young growth’, ‘mature growth’ and ‘old growth’.
They’re only perambulatory and sentient for the first four of those stages, old growth trees becoming rooted to the spot and slowly loosing their cognizance.
Unlike most other species, they have shrugged off all attempts to extend their lifespan, tending to see the transition to old growth as something sacred and honourable and not at all with the horror a Human would feel about being told they would slowly loose the ability to move, then speak, then think!
Not really having a way to refer to his species’ age architypes in any language I speak, I’ve resolved to just calling him a ‘him’ and letting translators do what they want with that(!)
Based on his size, this mature growth man was probably already walking about the forests of Graunt at the end of the Upper Palaeolithic!
This will probably be the last opportunity he gets to undertake a voyage like this before he’s compelled to find a sunny spot on Graunt, or another paradise world somewhere, and slowly let his awareness fade away.
In his deep, groaning language, he starts “My… name… is… Ro’oo’u’ouu…” creating an unearthly rumbling sound for his name, that I’m definitely not capable of reproducing “… I… am… a… botanist… and… dendrologist… I… am… glad… to… work… with… all… of… you…”
Those three sentences (that I easily could have got through inside of 10 seconds in Japanese) took him nearly a minute to say!
“Thank you, Mr Ro’oo’u’ouu…” I say, not sure if he was actually done speaking but preempting him continuing at that glacial pace with a smile “…I apologise in advance if this is embarrassing but your embassy has sent me a notification that I am required to relay to all present, if that’s alright.”
“It’s… not…” he says.
“Oh. Well…” I start.
“…embarrassing.” he continues.
I leave a pause before I say “OK, so…”
“It’s… the… truth…”
This difference in perceptual temporal resolution is mildly maddening but… I’m sure it’s just as bad for him!
I’m sure he just hears me squeaking along at 100kmph and continually trying to interrupt him while he speaks(!)
I leave a long enough pause that I’m certain the forest Elemental is actually done before I continue “Yes, so, I am obliged to relate to everyone here, including the gardenworlders, that Mr Ro’oo’u’ouu’s cradleworld is a Class 2 paradise world. Therefore, as sturdy and physically imposing as he might look to you, his body is extremely fragile and he is liable to be injured if proper restraint is not exercised whenever physical interaction with him is necessary! I repeat; everyone, deathworlder and gardenworlder alike, is to exercise extreme care whenever physical interaction with Mr Ro’oo’u’ouu should be necessary.”
I allow a rare, stern tone to creep into my voice that hasn’t been there since the primary way I was addressed was ‘Commander’, just to hammer home that I’m really not fucking around about this!
That man’s body density is so low that a Human could punch clear through one of his legs without really even trying all that much!
The mock punch you’d throw thinking you were making fun of the person telling you to be gentle would bury itself up to the wrist!
As striking as the image of Humans fighting an army of Ents might be, the reality is that the Grauntians had a species wide exemption from service throughout the War, since even the GU recognised how little tactical value they held, being as delicate as they are!
Satisfied that I have suitably impressed the point onto all present, I continue “Alright then… Dr Albert ‘Theseus’ Hardwick?”
A tired looking brown haired man, in his fifties (looking like it’s been a while since he last went through regen) and wearing a simple brown suit, stands, making his way to the stage.
He looks like he, long ago, stopped caring about anything like looking cool or stylish but, ironically, his exuded ‘I don’t care what you think of my ugly suit, my average height, my less than impressive physique, the lines on my face or my eyebags’ attitude ends up working for him quite well(!)
“Hello. My name is Dr Hardwick. I’ll be the economic analyst for this expedition. It will be my job to assess the mechanisms of this new species’ economy and, ultimately, what things of value they may be able to provide to galactic markets and what things they may, in turn, value to trade for. I expect I will be cross consulting with all of you at some point, as economics has a habit of rearing its ugly head in the places no one wants or expects it to. Thank you.” he almost recites, with an exhausted demeanour that says ‘you may not like me or what I do but I’m here and I don’t particularly care one way or another’.
I wouldn’t exactly say he was ‘curt’… to me, that implies some irritation
No, it was more like ‘done’… ‘checked out’, ‘going through the motions’.
“Thank you, Dr Hardwick…” I smile, pretending I haven’t noticed his not exactly polite manner “…Could I ask Dr Vbaa’ar ‘Lamb’ Taan to introduce himself next?”
The man that stands, despite his ovine appearance, is not an Ovis sapiens uplift.
Despite his triple barrel name and Terran academic title, he is no deathworlder, though his most recent stint of post graduate study was undertaken on Earth.
His species are called the Aarba and resemble sheep with sky blue wool.
He wears a long robe, concealing his four legs.
He makes it to the podium, his front legs making him have to stand a little further behind it than the others, and, with the demeanour between a passionate professor about to deliver a lecture and a preacher about to deliver a sermon, begins “I am Dr Taan and I am a professor of philosophy and theology… Now, I want to make clear that my task is not to convert this new species (or any of you) to any religion! Rather, I am here to understand what views on the metaphysical they hold and why… I believe in that regard, I shall have a lot to talk to Dr Túpuson and Dr Morningstar about!… Understanding how environment shapes and is shaped by belief on a hitherto uncontacted deathworld… I can imagine no finer use for my talents… I thank you all.”
He performs a little bow and stands with the others.
“Thank you, Dr Taan…” I smile “…Ẽ. Would you introduce yourself?”
This woman looks like another aquatic. However, her species are mostly land dwelling to the point that, unlike Miraala, no special accommodations needed to be made to her quarters. She just needs a dip in the pool, periodically.
Her beak is not visible, being obscured by six prehensile tentacles. Instead of legs, she has eight perambulatory tentacles beneath her torso.
She has two tentacles that have adapted to function more like arms, with palms that have fingerlike splits at the end, on the sides of her body.
Music…” she starts “…is very important to my people, the Ĕēȇè … I hope to document the musical stylings this species possesses as this expeditions ethnomusicologist.”
Another short and sweet one.
I can see the way Yasmin perked up with excitement over this woman’s language with a single phoneme and 38 tones! I’m guessing the cephalopodan woman will be cornered and bullied into a linguistics session at some point(!)
“Thank you, Ẽ…” I say, not sure whether my quavering tone on her name is correct, since she didn’t actually say it “…Commadore Yakchutt, could I… Oh… perfect, yes, come on up.”
The man, whose species doesn’t closely resemble any Terran species or mythical creature I’m aware of, though maybe with notes of crocodile in his scaliness and hippopotamus in his thick build, stood up before I was done saying his name.
He stands at the podium, his expression grim, and starts “Terrans… My name is [Commadore] Yakchutt, of the Ulat people… I fought your kind in the War… and have spent more than [30 years] regretting it… I’m not asking your forgiveness… but I’m hoping that my part in this expedition will be something like… an atonement… My task will be the assessment of the Naval defence of this planet from any outside threats. I hope to confer frequently with my opposite number from the Terran Military here…” he gestures to Xon “…in developing a rock solid plan for how to keep these people safe while they are [finding their feet].”
With that, the Navyman steps away from the stand, surprising me with the abruptness of the end of his speech.
Recovering quickly, I return to the podium and say “Err… Finally, the stars of the show, could I ask Ambassador Lhamo ‘Crane’ Yeshe and Ambassador Ngngomg Ong to come to the stage.”
The pair who stand are a Tibetan woman from Gangsri Gsar (who smiles with serenity that makes me absolutely certain her wedding dress must have been blue) and a tall, Gollogng man who’s extremely traditionally handsome (if you can get over the blue skin, lack of a nose and the, far too large, orange and veiny eyes that look as if they have no pupils).
This is the pair who’ll (if all goes well) remain on the planet, after we return.
With them, our crew complement is complete!
Next stop, AG10790263b!
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Dramatis Personae
submitted by YukiteruAmano92 to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 03:49 Tacohunter90 Calamity begins

In a time before Guns, before glass, before even real magic spells, there was the Age of Magic. There were races and creatures aplenty and Magic was new to everyone. Everyone seemed to know about the different gods and goddesses who ruled over their realm. Some even seemed to know about the different realms that other creatures hailed from. One so person who knew about the other realms was a Daeling named Kriv Kimbatuul. He was a practitioner of magical arts. Studying and creating different spells and ways to use magic. He was the first being in the world to use Necromancy. He was powerful and loved the power he had. He ended up being shunned from most magical places as they thought his love of the dead and decaying made him a bit odd.
Kriv found himself in a dark cave near a graveyard of the town now known as Lorevale. Back in these times most towns didnt have a name. Everything was new, including magic, and things were being discovered. Kriv wanted to study in peace without the incessant whines of his fellow mages. He didnt like being questioned or told not to do stuff he knew would be harmless. Eventually he ended up raising a dead creature. He killed many animals to survive and have food, and one day he had an excess creature freshly killed. He used his knowledge of the Necromancy arts and revived the creature, but it was gross, rotting and without any real will. It did however listen to Kriv.
With this new knowledge he started writing a book. In it he detailed everything he has ever learned with regard to necromancy. Eventually he would try bigger things, dig up dead people and try to resurrect them. He succeeded sometimes, and it took a lot out of him to do so. Eventually he even tried it on just a random pile of bones, and a skeletal figure popped up. It was not a creature, just an arbitrary figure of bones. This one however seemed to be a little more dangerous. It seemed stronger than the other ones, able to lift more, and do more damage to things like trees and gravestones. However this one was not permanent it seemed. After about a half day it fell apart, and Kriv was unable to bring it back to life.
He wanted to try this now on living people. He had the power to bring things dead to an unnatural life, and he knew no one would understand it. He decided to sneak into someones house, someone alone, and kill them then try to bring them back. He found a person, a lonely Draconian. He snuck into the house in the day time, waiting till the Dragonborn was sleeping. When they were, he stabbed it in the heart, and when the dragonborn was dead he cast his spell. It brought the Draconian back to life. But this was not as a decrepit zombie, or a skeleton, this was real resurrection. The Dragonborn was now awake and scared, having no idea what happened. Kriv fled and immediately wrote down what happened. This was something he realized he could do to bring necromancy into a good light.
He then thought about how to bring this up. So he decided he would bring it to someone he used to know when growing up who was okay with him and never really picked on him and almost seemed to like him. Her name was Keylan, she was a Half orc who was fascinated by the Dark and mysterious, but never showed it and on one really knew, except Kriv. He brought his research to her and told her about how wonderful this all was. She was a bit put off, as he had not washed himself in many moons. To her this seemed like the dreams of a madman. She seemed a little odd to him and he realized the situation. So he told her to meet him in the forest later before the sun sets at their usual spot. He will show her what he is talking about.
Later that day in the forest, their usual meeting spot, he killed a boar, and hid it in a bush nearby. He wanted to resurrect it but he didn't know if it would stay around long enough. Later on when it was just about to be nightfall, she came with a worried look across her face. “Im not sure I should be here kriv, this sounds like something you are making up.” He looked a little angry but all the same grabbed the carcass of the boar. He would let his actions speak. She looked disgusted, and backed away a little “Please! Dont go, just watch” He started to cast his spell, and when Keylan was just about to run away the boar got up and her jaw dropped. She couldn't believe her eyes and went to see if she could pet the boar. As she did she realized that it was cold, and there was no heart beat. It was still, almost like a stone. It freaked her out, but then Kriv told it to run away, and it ran. Into the forest where they could not see it again. She was scared and a little curious.
“How...Why would you do that? Did you kill that boar? Just to make it so....cold? It didnt seem alive.” Kriv realized that this was exactly how others would see it and looked at her in a sad way.”I realize this isnt exactly what people want, I know that we celebrate the life, but...i can do more. I can bring someone who just died back to life.” He pulls out a knife “Let me show you” he starts walking to her and she looks terrified and pulls out her Maul “What the HELL are you doing! Stay back I dont want to be one of those mindless things!” He looked worried and held out his hand “No no no, I wont turn you into that, I can make you come back to life! You wont even know you were dead!” As he got closer she Swung her Maul at him and almost hit him. “Please! Let me show you! I dont have anyone else!” he pleaded with her, he just wanted to show her he was a good person. “Do you not realize how this sounds Kriv! You want to kill me, so you can try to bring me back! What if it doesnt work! What if I end up as a mindless thing like that boar! What if I just am dead!” She swung again making purchase on his ribs and he flew quite far.
He laid there coughing, Keylan panting and still looking terrified. “Why do you think anyone would just let you kill them! What is wrong with you!” Kriv began to cry a little, wiping his tears hoping Keylan would not see, “I dont have anyone..... You were the only person I ever knew who didnt hate me... Who else could I come to?” He looked down, and picked up his knife sheathing it. “I know im not normal, but I thought you would understand.... I just need one person to understand...” Keylan looked angry at Kriv, startling him a little with just how angry she looked. “Just because I was nice to you doesnt mean I would let you do anything you want to me! YOU WANT TO KILL ME. Really think about that and ask yourself if you think anyone normal would actually allow someone they haven't seen in 14 years to just kill them?!”
Kriv looked at his hands, he thought for a bit listening to Keylans breathing, looking back and forth between her, him and her maul. He realized that he was being stupid. His hands tightened becoming fists, and he dropped to his knees. “Please forgive me. I have not known kindness besides yours. And I assumed that friends just do things for eachother.” Keylan looked at him with a look of pity in her eyes. “You have a lot to learn about people. You have been holed up for 14 years with these things you almost became one. Look, im not sure whats going on, I know what I saw, but that is unnatural, and I dont think you can do anything for anyone with that.” She put her Maul on her back and slowly walked over to Kriv. She put her hand on his head and laughed a little. “Dont worry, im sure you will end up doing well once you get some nuances down.”
It happened so fast, She had no idea he could be so fast. Her mouth open, gurgling on her own blood trying to speak. Krivs hand on his knife resting in her neck. He couldnt hide his tear, and so he stood there crying “I'm sorry Keylan, but I need someone to know.” He then threw her to the side and immediately began chanting the spell. He was casting for a bit trying to use the spell he used on the Dragonborn. It wasnt working. He looked worried, his brow and lips quivering. He couldnt understand why it wasnt working now when it was before. It wasnt even a day ago that he resurrected the Dragonborn. That is when it hit him. He thought to himself that he must only be able to do it once per day, and he already did it. He started crying, begging the gods for it to work. He appealed to them all. Then he thought there is only one who might be willing to help him. He took everything he had and he prayed to Xekros, the one diety governing the dead. He begged and pleaded and cried and asked with all his might to help him bring her back. Then it happened, her body got warm, and her breath was steady. She stopped bleeding and sounded like she was sleeping.
Kriv could not believe his eyes, she was alive, and he was stunned. He stood up and was about to try to wake her up. “I would not do that, if you want her to keep liking you.” Kriv stopped still and looked around. He saw a figure standing nearby, cloaked in chains that didn't make a sound, holding them attached to a knife. “So what do I get for helping you? Hmm?” Kriv was standing there just in awe, and slowly stood straight, and started to bow down. “None of that Kriv, just stand up and tell me what I get for bringing the green one back to life.” Kriv stood up straight and stuttered a little. “I..i..i could... uhh... I dont know. What....Do you want?” The Stranger smiled “That is the right answer.” He chuckled “You see, I have this book here. It is so heavy and I just dont need it anymore. Could you take it off my hands?” The stranger smiled with a twisted creepy grin, and Kriv felt goosebumps on his spine. “ that all? You j..just want me to take the...the book?” Confusion filling his face as he waited for a response. The stranger just tossed the book down at Kriv's feet, and said “Of course, enjoy” and with a wave of his hand he shimmered into nothingness.
Now Kriv was not stupid, but he also was always curious for knowledge. He was Curious as to what happened, but realizes he was probably talking to Xekros who answered his pleas. He was thankful but worried that he might be found out. He took his win, grabbed his book and went back into his hiding place. There he was cautious about reading the book. First he tested it, opened a couple pages, checked to see if it was magical. It seemed to have light enchantments, but nothing dangerous. He started to read it and it read like a Fairy tail. Mentioned all the deities he learned in school. It seemed to have information on them all. Who they were, what they did how they came to be and even some of their weaknesses and strengths, how to trap them and kill them. He didnt really take to much stock into it, thinking it was just the ravings of a mad man. He put the book away, in his library where he kept all the books he might need later.
Kriv decided since his friend was alive and hopefully had no idea what happened, he would just stick to himself. He realized that she was right. People aren't ready for this to happen yet. He devoted to enhancing is abilities instead of showing anyone, then once he knew for sure what would happen when casting his spells. It took him years, and he knew he needed things he didnt have. More books, and more knowledge on magic, but where would he find it when magic is still fairly new? He needed a way to be able to live longer. Thankfully he was a Dealing and knew he would live quite a bit longer than most people who new him. But even that was probably not enough time to live to discover what he wanted. He searched and searched, snuck around, listening at conversations about magic as much as he could. He learned as much as he could. Eventually he found rumors of something.
Lich. The word rang in his head. He heard of it several times, not many knew what it meant, but when they talked about it it always instilled fear in those who talked. It seemed to be something that was incredibly difficult, sometimes impossible, to kill. He realized if he could become a lich then he would be able to live long enough to be able to learn what it is he truly wanted. Perhaps being a lich is the knowledge he sought, be he wont know until he finds out. He decided to piece together what he had heard on how a lich is created. He studied and tested things out on more animals. He was all to familiar with the smell of death, and it seemed to follow him everywhere he went. He knew it was him, and he has gotten so used to it that he feels like it might help him.
After a few years of testing, he finally found out how. Unfortunately it could only be done by killing a child. He knew that would be difficult. He didn't know if he could do it. It was his dream, and he wasn't sure if he could accomplish it. He thought of ways to do it by happenstance, or maybe if he could talk a child into doing it for him. It would never work. He had come so far, and feels like it was just lost. No, he couldn't just let it go, he worked his whole life for this, he killed his only friend, and he had to do this so he could finish his life's work. He made a plan. He would study a village nearby, not his own, and find a child with a bad life. He thought he would kill a child with a bad family as an act of mercy. He thought perhaps he should find a larger town, one with lots of children.
Styrewood was nearby to the south, a fairly large town in the forest. He figured he would find one there. It took him 4 months, he found his target, a small child whos parents abused him all the time, only letting him out to pick food from the garden. He decided to take care of the parents as well. Killed them at night and used their blood to draw the sigils, and then killed the child. He preformed the ritual right in the house, luckily it didnt require much talking so he was able to complete it with out any fuss from outside. Obviously it being night time helped as well. The ritual consisted of taking the soul, separating it from the body, placing a tether from the body to the soul, and them placing the soul into a vessel. Then creating a copy of the body, or using someone elses body, and tethering the new body to the soul as well. If the main body dies, the soul will be able to take over the new body. This was what he has learned. This seemed a good way to keep alive long enough to learn what he wanted. As long as the Soul is alive, a body can always be procured.
After the ritual, which took a lot out of Kriv, he slept in that house for about a week. After he felt he was recovered, he took his phylactery and went back to his cave, and hid it there. He hid it deep in the cavern and used several magics to hide it, as well as physical barriers. Once it was properly hidden he realized his body would start to decay soon. So he needed to get a new body, he didnt want to seem like a lich, so he realized he would need not just a new body, but some way to dampen the smell of death on himself. He figured he can work on the smell later, he had no reason to interact with people yet. So he needed a new body. He figured if he could do the ritual of the lich, he could figure out how to make a body. He wondered what he could do, and decided to go back to his experiments on his rats.
After several years, about 13, he was able to cultivate a new body, and start on the smell. It took a long time, and now he felt he was possibly ready to see what the world had to offer. He started his travel during the cold months so he was able to wear larger clothing without being questioned. He traveled across the land, he studied what was going on. It seemed things were not progressing much. There were new things he had never seen before, a plow, a carriage, and there are people walking around in heavy metal suites. Things were interesting, he wrote down much and more, and felt he was learning a ton. He was chronicling everything new he found. He then heard about a mages guild. He heard about how they help out the country studying things. He realized maybe their minds had opened up to his magics.
He wondered how he could introduce it, or if they would just try to kill him. He decided to first gather information, see what practices happened with the Mages guild. From what he could gather they generally allow all forms of magics being practiced, but he hasnt heard anything on Necromancy, then again it might not be something many even know about because of its negative nature. He just wants to shine a positive light on it. He decided to instead of bringing it up, leaving some notes on basic necromancy for the guild to look over. So he went back to his cave to find some basics, and try to write them down as best he could for anyone to understand. He came up with 10 pages he thought would be useful to explain the good that Necromancy can do.
He knew it would take some time before anything happened really. He decided to wait and travel to a new city, see what else people might be doing. While traveling around he found another Mages guild and snuck around the place trying to see if anyone was speaking about Necromancy. There was nothing, no body saying anything about it, as a matter of fact the hot topic seemed to be divine magic. Calling upon faith in the dieties to get magic. This seemed to annoy Kriv. He thought that while yes galling upon dieties can do what Necromancy can do sometimes, but to do it yourself without help is much better and can do more for the world. He didn't know what to do. In his anger he went to the forest nearby and killed a creature to resurrect it. He just didnt see how people could not want this power. Why is it bad to bring loved ones, friends, family, or even pets back to life? He had an idea. The only thing he thought could show people how useful this might be for the world.
He traveled back to his hideout. It has evolved just as much as he has, and it now housed undead of all kinds. They kept the place looking well, sweeping, moving stuff, washing Kriv's dishes, and other things. He realized this was free labor. It could free people up to do so much. There was no need to work. Kriv Gathered his hoard and decided to show the Mages guild just what they were missing out on. He needed a place to show off their work, but Lorevale was to big, so he chose Verithal, the small farming town. He needed to be seen. This was risky, but he knew he was fine, he had his clone, and the Phylactery was safe.
Upon reaching the sort of entrance of Verithal, all the people began to panic. Kriv came in and just started to tell people to move and watch. Many grabbed their tools, they fought off the skeletons and Zombies. This angered Kriv and he told them to stop attacking, hes trying to help. They just kept attacking so Kriv decided to stop them. He used some spells he learned and paralyzed them. Unfortunately some Undead fought back and killed several of the workers. Kriv told the Undead to just keep trying to farm and take up the tasks needed to keep the city running. He grabbed one person and told them to head to Lorevale and get the Mages guild. He wants to show just how useful Necromancy can be.
As the Mages and guards came to Verithal, they all seemed to draw weapons. Kriv looked frustrated, but decided it was now or never. He could show what Necromancy could do, everyone will love it, and he will be praised. He had one of the dead bodies of the farmers that was killed being held by some zombies, and he used his revival spell on the Farmer. It brought him back to life, which scared him so bad he ran towards the guards as fast as he could. “See! I bring you the gift of revival! Necromancy can help the world in ways the other magic types could never do!” And he had a huge smile on his face, which quickly turned upside down as the guards came at him with shackles, and the mages started attacking the undead. Kriv was furious “Why are you doing this?!! I brought this man back to life! This is what we need!” he looked directly into the eyes of a very large man wearing a red robe lined with gold. “This is unnatural! Heathens like you play with life and death and think yourself a god! You will be executed for these Crimes!” Kriv looked appalled as if someone had just stabbed his back. “This is the future! You are all...” a guard stuffed a piece of cloth in his mouth and tied it around his head as they put on the shackles.
“Why is everyone so stupid. I brought the man back to life. RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM! Why am I in jail... perhaps I should have only killed one person....But I could have brought them all back! Why do this to me when I only want to help!” Kriv had a look on his face that caused the other prisoners to cower a little in fear. Kriv looked around. It seemed like he was in a small stone room about 15 by 15 feet. There were no windows, and 3 other prisoners cowering in a corner away from the door. The door was a metal door with no window on it, and looked like no handle. Probably closed with a bar on the other side. “H...h..hey...uhhhh red dude, you okay? We arent your enemies.” Kriv looked at them studying them, they seemed to feel his glare in their souls. “Why are you all in here? Did you kill anyone?” The prisoners looked at eachother and with trepidation, then back at Kriv “ sir, im in f...” Kriv held up his hand “Thats good, if you didnt murder anyone then you probably arent that bad.” He points to the other 2 who shake their head as if to say no sir not us. Kriv nods and began to pace thinking about what he can do. He doesnt have his spell book, doesn't have any weapons, and all he has is some basic spells.
After some thought he realized he might not be able to get out of this alone. He may just have to see if he could use his new body. He started talking to the other convicts, one on one. He realized he might be able to get 2 of them to turn on one. Get them to kill one and he could turn that one into a Zombie, who would have increased strength and allow them to break out. He weighed his options and thought the best course of action was to let them decide. He explained what he can do, and what the options were. The looked at each other and at him. They almost didn't believe him. Until he grab a rat nearby and killed it, then brought it back as a zombie. He explained that he can only do that 2 more times, and they should make a decision soon. Until then the rat would be scratching away and making a tunnel to the outdoor. Kriv commanded the rat to tunnel out through the back of the cell. It started, and the Convicts started to deliberate. Kriv sat there thinking about other options, he saw nothing else. He could hoped not to have to use his second body until it was absolutely necessary.
After a couple hours they decided on what to do. One of them volunteered to be the one killed and turned into a zombie. He said he had been in and out of jail for so long, he had no real life anymore. After some more talking they decided, and they would have the Rat kill him. No one wanted to look. Kriv thought he had to since his rat would do the killing. After the guy was dead, he preformed the spell and made the man a zombie, he had him and the rat begin breaking down the wall. Just a hole big enough to let them all through. He realized this would take a long time. So he decided to see if anymore rats would come into the cell. Luckily a large rat did and so he killed it and made it a zombie. Now there was the man, 1 small and one very large rat tunneling through. Every day the guards would come and give food, Kriv would just have the Zombies in a corner looking like they were sleeping. It was not long as they only gave food once per day. It took about 15 days for them to really see some progress. However this might not have worked as well as they thought as the Rats were worn down almost to the bone, and the man was now using its bone fingertips. He wondered how long before the bones would no longer work and they would have to figure something else out.
After about the 21st day, Kriv was summoned in front the the council to see talk about what he has done. He ordered the Zombies to listen to the other men and gave them instructions on what should happen when the guards come and everything. It was at this point that Kriv realized the concoction he made for the smell of death on him was wearing off. He realized he might need to get out sooner than expected, but how? He would have to think later, as the Guards grabbed him pretty rough and took him to the room where everything would go down. As he walked with them being pulled roughly and held tightly, he couldn't help but wonder how he would get everyone to realize he was doing good. How did he get here, when his whole life has been dedicated to proving the study of the dead is not something to fear. We already celebrate when people die, and we celebrate their life. Why not let them live longer, and give them more opportunities to provide? Its such an easy decision. Let the dead help.
Slammed into the chair, he gasp for a breath, before he could try he was shackled and tied down. “The trial against this Necromancer will begin! We will first hear from the accused, Necromancer, Why were you attacking that village with your dark powers, and what is your end goal.” Kriv sat there, with a confused look on his face “What? I attaacked no one! I was trying to help that village to show everyone that Necromancy can be used for good!” The entire room gasped followed by laughing from what seemed like the judge of the trial. “There Is no good from necromancy. It is a dark magic that is used to kill and control.” The room got deadly quiet “There has never been a case of necromancy being used for anything good. What makes you think its good, and can do good for anyone?” Kriv looked, stumbled on his words a little and took a deep breath. He exhaled a long and piercing breath, looked the judge directly in the eyes “I am good, and I am trying to show the world Necromancy can benefit everyone in the best ways. The only deaths in my attempt was due to ignorance and panic. I brought back someone to life, and could have brought back more if you had let me.” He took another breath and sat up as straight as he could, and looked around “I wanted the skeletons following me to farm! They easily could have done all the work the farmers needed, sparing them pain giving them time...” The judge had a guard cover Krivs mouth. Kriv struggled, and tried saying more, realizing he was still very restrained he just calmed down and his head sunk down. “That is enough, if you will not tell us the truth then we cannot allow you to speak.” Kriv began to accidentally use his magic a little and his eyes glowed a fierce red color, the ground began to quake a little, and his voice boomed very loudly as he yelled “I Do not lie, Necromancy can be used for good!” Even through the hand of the Guard everyone was clearly able to hear that. It took everyone, especially the judge, by surprise, and the Guard almost let his hand down.
“Okay... Calm down now, there is no need to release the dark powers you have. Please just be calm.” Kriv took another deep breath. And nodded his head. The judge stood up and pointed to the man who Kriv resurrected. “This man was saved, but it could be a ploy, we will hear from him what happened there that day.” The man stood up, took his hat off and stuttered a little “I..i dunno exactly why but he kept telling everyone to calm down, and for some reason he told the undead he had to start farming, and defend themselves.” The judge looked curiously at the man “And why were you killed” “Uhh...i...i.. dunno. I guess I did attack someone with my plow, and next thing I know Im in the arms of some Zombies and saw the guards. I ran to them thinking I was going to die.” The judge rubbed his bald chin and looked at Kriv. He stood there for a time, and roughly sat down. “Now why would he have undead farming? That makes no sense. Unless he was trying to show us how he doesn't need us and can use his undead and that we should submit because of that.”
Kriv rolled his eyes and grunted. He looked over at the man he resurrected. They met eyes and the farmer kind of recoiled a little, but nodded his head. Kriv smiled, not that the man could tell very well since the guard still had his hand over Krivs mouth. The man stood up again “I...I think … This man was not here for evil.” The judge looked very surprise. He held his hand up again “please do not speak out of turn, you were not asked to speak, do it again and you will be asked to leave.” he rubbed his chin again, turned his eyes to Kriv and took in a deep breath. “Now please calmly, tell us what it is you think you can accomplish with undead that we cannot.” The guard moved his hand and Kriv sat there in silence. After a minute or two the judge slammed his fist on the table “Tell us what you want you devil! I am giving you one chance to explain what you offer besides dark power.” Kriv simply looked at the judge “I have told you twice. My answer is not different than before. Necromancy can be used to help the common folk in so many ways. There Is no reason not to use it.” the judge sat there silent for a bit. He looked at the whole room “I believe you may posses no ill will, but that does not mean Necromancy should be allowed. You will be put in jail for 30 days, and I will Deliberate with the Mages guild as to what to do with you.” “I sent them a note already saying what Necromancy can do! They should already know what I want for it! They just...” the guard had his hand over Krivs mouth again. “In 30 days we will see what the Mages guild and I have decided. Until then please just remain calm and enjoy your stay in our finest jail cell.” The judge gave a wry smile directly at Kriv. They untied kriv, and took him roughly again to his cell.
The 2 men in his cell hid the zombies as they were told when the guards brought Kriv in. The guard just threw Kriv in there “You are worthless, how dare you preform the dark arts so close to town. You will be lucky to last the day.” He spat at Kriv and slammed the door. “Well, I suppose that is that. How has it gone in here lads?” Kriv stood up wiping himself off, and looking around at the other prisoners. They looked bewildered at Kriv, almost in awe. “Whats this about dark arts? I thought you were just using magic?” Kriv scoffed loudly and crossed his arms “Thats all anything is. These “DaRk ArtS” are just another form of magic. Nothing different than conjuring a fireball, or healing a wound. My magic just seems evil because people dont want to understand its benefits.” Kriv turns away with a Harumph and started to pace again. “Its not my fault they died! I told them to remain calm. If they had just listened to me nothing bad would have happened. Lord, they probably would have had a day off even! I was trying to help, I dont understand what is so hard about this. I just want to help them and the world, and this is the BEST way to do it....” Kriv rambled on for what seemed like forever, the other prisoners just kind of staring. They looked at each other, and then back at Kriv. They almost seemed entranced by his words.
“I would like to volunteer as a helper! I haven't done much with my life, but you seem to have a great goal and I would like to help you achieve that!” Kriv stopped, slowly turned around to look at the other prisoners. He had a look of bemusement on his face. “Why....Would you....want to help ME?” Kriv slowly walked towards the man with his hand on his chest. “ seem to have...a Noble goal and I th..think if you had help you could get that goal.” The man said in a almost squeky tone. Kriv made a fist and squatted down. He looked the man directly in the eye and held his hand out. “If you truly do wish to help me. I want you to know this is not an easy path to walk. It will be filled with hatred towards you and I, and we will both need the resolve to see it 100% through. This could be a life long journey, and you will probably have to say bye to all your friends and family.” The man looked down, tears flowing from his eyes. “I dont mind, my family was the ones who put me in here, just as likely to do so again were they to have a say. I ain't got no friends so, I dont see a big downside. Perhaps they will be proud of me if we succeed.” He smiled looking up at Kriv, who plced his hand under the mans chin sparking a flash of surprise. “We will succeed. Of this I swear.”
Invigorated with this new companion, Kriv stood up quickly, he looked around the cell, the rats and zombie still clawing at the wall, seemingly making little progress now with what looks like hardly any hand. “This is taking a long time. I will only be in here for 30 more days, gods be willing. We might need another to dig. So.... I just realized, I know not your name. Please, if you dont mind, what is your name new helper?” “Gerialdivos my lord, but you may call me whatever you wish.” “Then you shall henceforth be known as Davios, to be close to your name but reborn. Now, Davios, Are you willing to do whatever it takes to serve me?” Davios looked at him with fervor in his eyes and fists at the ready by his waist. Kriv rubbed his chin seeing this middle aged man with determination and a semi healthy looking body “How long have you been in here Davios?” “uhh... 3 months sir? I believe, its hard ti keep time here” he stood straight kind of hunched. Kriv walked over to him and inspected his body. “yes..... you know..... had I my book I could have you dig this tunnel much better. You would be faster and more able to do what these things cannot.”
After a moment of thought Kriv decided that they need to get his book back. It held all his most powerful spells and would be their best bet should anything happen during their escape. “You--” Kriv points to the other prisoner who seemed to be just off in his own world. “--where would they hold our stuff while we are here?” The other prisoner seemed to come to, he looked at Kriv and just stared at him. “Well? Do you know?” “I...I don know I never had stuff to take.” Kriv looked at Davios who shrugged with hands up palms facing the ceiling. Kriv realized that on his way out there was a box loosely covered down the hall as he went out to the trial. So he need that door open, but how?
Kriv looked intensely at the door. He got close and looked at everything about it. Studied it, checking every inch of this barrier to his book. He noted that the door had a half inch slit around each side, no handle and through the slits he was right before, there is a Wood beam blocking the door. This was great, now he needed to be able to either cut through it, or lift it and push. He looked around the cell taking inventory of all the resources at hand. Since it was made of wood, it would be easier to lift, probably not that heavy, but to do so would require a lot of strength, however cutting it might actually be easier with what he has since he doesn't have much strength, and he assumed the other inmates did not either. Now what to cut it with. Its a fairly thick bar, and he would need to get something thin but durable. Something they could use to cut quickly. “You rat! Stop scratching!” He shouted at one of the rats, quickly turning around. He pointed at the rat who most recently was turned zombie. He dispelled his control and squished the rat. He didn't have his normal tools so it was a little difficult, but after doing it for so many years he knew the anatomy and strength of rats well. He got rid of all the skin, and took the bones. He took off his own shirt and started to carefully undo the materials to have copious amount of twine.
Thankfully no one took his clothes, they were more durable than the average cloth. He knew he needed durable clothing because of his experiments so he had his shirt made from the near indestructible fibers of Phase spider silk. It took hours. He was at it for almost the whole day. He had what he thought was enough to tie to 2 pieces of bone, and using the silk, tied in knots at certain intervals, to saw through the wood. It would be tricky, but he had a plan and that is all he has ever needed. He finally had what he thought he needed. He decided to wait until right after dinner. He would wait until the guard left, and then try to throw the bone through the gap over the wood, and hope it goes back through the gap under the wood. He would saw as fast as he could. He took the makeshift saw and put it inside the zombie, had the zombie and rat hide in the corner pretend to sleep.
The guard left with the trays and closed the door. They heard the wood bar go down and the guard walk away. They would have no guard interaction for at least 10 hours. Should be plenty of time to cut through. He went to the door, looked out, listened for a couple seconds and ran to grab his saw. After about 3 hours of constant sawing he got through. However nothing happened. It didn't move. He tried pushing the door as hard as he could and it hardly moved. He was angry, until he realized that, of course, there was another side to the bar. He would have to do the same thing to the other side. However this one would be more trouble as he would have to worry about the hinges and he was exhausted. After about 30 tried he got it around. Right before he started sawing, Davios stopped him “Let me do it sir, I have the energy, you rest please” Took another 4 hours, they had 1 hours left. Kriv opened the door, luckily they opened the door without much effort. Kriv saw the box, he ran to it as quietly as he could. Looked inside and found his equipment amongst several other things. He grabbed his knife and book and ran back. He put the wood back closed the door and repaired the wood.
Thankfully the zombies had dug enough through the wall that Kriv only needed one spell to break through. An inky black slimy tentacle rose from the ground in front of the dent, it pushed through the rest of the way making a hole and it was a little bigger than what the zombies did. The tentacle dissipated as quickly as it arrived and Kriv waved everyone through the hole. They all went through, zombies last, now they had to run. Kriv knew where he needed to go, they were somewhat on the edge of town and they needed to get to Krivs hideout. He directed them, and eventually made it back. They had a long talk, the prisoner who didn't pledge himself said he wanted to go back to his family. He didnt want to become part of the Cult Kriv was rising. Kriv got upset, and sent him out. He never once wanted to make a cult. He is trying to help the world. Thus started a long journey for Kriv and his new partner Davios.
Davios proved a loyal subject, loyal enough so that Kriv allowed him to become a lich. Albeit not as powerful since he wasnt very gifted in magic, and Kriv always held his Phylactery, but a lich nonetheless. They spent many many MANY years practicing and perfecting their arts. They ended up almost mastering the craft, and in doing so learned so much about magic in general. They probably created a few spells themselves, mostly Kriv, but they both have been keeping a log of everything. Making sure that if they are killed someone will find their books and know that Necromancy can be used for good. Their little cave ended up getting carved into a long winding tunnel with twists turns and rooms. They got pickaxes and had their skeletons do so much work. By now they had a small army of skeletons they commanded. Mostly for farming and digging.
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2023.05.24 23:54 DDoubleBlinDD Everyone's a Catgirl! Bonus Quest: Dungeons & Dragons

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A/N: This is a 3k-word commission for the kickass Carmine! It was a ton of fun to put together 5e classes/races/backgrounds for the girls and feel out how a session would go with Matt DMing. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. Commission Me
“[Sharpshooter]!” Elona cried, hopping up onto a boulder and readying another arrow. The narrow cavern didn’t allow for a lot of free movement, forcing her to utilize the uneven territory in their battle.
Mou ii. We don’t have to yell out our passives, remember?” Ravyn jumped to the side where Elona was standing moments before, narrowly avoiding a fist-sized rock flying toward her head. “And how the hell do bugs throw rocks?!” She raised her hands to her chest and screamed, “[Fire Ball]!”
“That’s Fire Bolt, Ravyn,” Janusz bellowed. His icy blue reptilian eyes glared at her beneath red, leathery scales.
Ravyn blinked. “I am never going to get used to that voice. Whatever. [Fire Bolt]!” she shouted again. A string of flames materialized from thin air, colliding with the enormous, wasp-like creature that buzzed through the air.
The monster squealed in pain and whirred in desperate circles to put the flames out from its wings.
Another gigantic insect readied its stinger and rocketed toward Janusz.
Bunny raised her staff and cried, “[Sanctuary]!” A warm glow surrounded the bejeweled sphere at its peak, then flowed forward, encompassing Janusz in a hazy, swirling fog.
Just as the sharp point of the stinger brushed against Janusz’s shield, the wasp hesitated. It fluttered in confusion, bulbous eyes searching the dragonborn’s form as it hovered before him.
Janusz swung his sacred sword with all his might, cleaving the insect in twain. Green blood sputtered from its severed halves as it fell to the ground, splattering the [Paladin]’s well-worn shield and armor.
“You have my thanks, Bunny!” he called, charging forward toward the next foe.
“O-of course!” Bunny stammered, tucking a length of snow-white hair behind her ear.
“Ravyn, heads up!” Elona cried. She unsheathed a dagger from her boot and leapt from the boulder, driving the blade into the eye of a wasp that had snuck up behind Ravyn’s back.
“Fuck!” Ravyn spun on her heel and stepped backward, giving Elona plenty of space to work. The [Ranger] stabbed the wasp a second time, then a third. At last, its wings slowed, and it drifted to the ground. A pool of green drained from its carapace.
“I didn’t even hear it! Kuso! Human ears are stupid!” Ravyn grumbled.
“But you’re a tiefling! You get to see in the dark!” Bunny said happily.
“Let us focus on the task at hand, friends!” Janusz commanded.
“Okay, Dad. But we’re just fi—”
Before Ravyn could finish her thought, another airborne rock sailed through the air and struck her forehead.
Nani the fuck, Matt!” Ravyn shrieked, throwing her dice to the table. “You can’t just hide monsters from us!”
Matt shrugged. “It wouldn’t be hidden if you paid attention.”
“And how do bugs with no hands throw rocks?” she continued.
“With telekinesis.” Matt grinned. “I wanted to keep you on your toes.”
“That’s so fucking stupid.”
“U-um, Ravyn? It’ll be okay,” Cannoli said, resting a hand on Ravyn’s shoulder. “I can heal you! I still have a cast of [Healing Word] left!”
“You wouldn’t have to use it if Matt wasn’t being a jackass,” Ravyn snapped. “Besides, why are our Spells limited per day? That’s ridiculous.”
“Those are the rules.” Matt frowned, drumming his fingers on the table.
“And these books! Kuso!” Ravyn thumped her fist against the stack of [Sorcerer] manuals. *“*I have to read an entire library, then do complex math equations to cast anything!
“You could have picked a [Rogue] like you said,” Keke quipped, flicking a piece of popcorn into the air and catching it in her mouth.
“I find it interesting that in an imaginary game where you can be whatever you choose, you decided to essentially play as yourself,” Ceres added thoughtfully. “Well, except for the horns, of course.”
“Why wouldn’t I want to be myself?” Ravyn countered. “That makes more sense than being a dragon man.”
Ceres furrowed her brow. “A man is a revered and respected position, as you are well familiar.” She tapped the head of her freshly painted dragonborn miniature. “Besides, according to these books, a dragonborn makes an exceptional [Paladin]. Which we require, as Matt is not our fearless leader in this sense.”
Ravyn snickered under her breath and fed Ball Gag a cookie. “Yeah, okay. Better a dragon man than Cailu’s female variant, I suppose.”
Keke’s face darkened, and her cheeks turned red. “Elves get bonuses to Dexterity in this world!”
“Fine, but did you have to look like him?”
“Ravyn,” Matt warned.
“My mother had blonde hair. Besides, isn’t Cailu what all elves look like?” Keke looked to Matt for help.
“I couldn’t tell you,” Matt said honestly.
“Hey, guys? Can we get back to the game?” Cannoli asked. Buttons danced around her fingers, making a game of touching the tips with his tail. “I’m having fun with it.”
“Yeah, of course.” Matt straightened in his seat and cleared his throat. “So, as I was saying…”
Ravyn sunk to the floor, cradling her head in her hand.
Bunny rushed to her side, relieved to find that the rock had hardly cut the skin. A trickle of blood vanished into Ravyn’s fiery red hair, but it seemed to only have dazed the [Sorcerer].
“Oh! I have a potion for this!” Bunny rummaged through her side pack, procuring a tiny glass bottle filled with a golden tonic. “Here, drink up!”
“Thanks, Bunny,” Ravyn said, accepting the bottle and popping the cork.
“It’s so cute when you say my name!” Bunny exclaimed, patting Ravyn between the horns.
“Don’t patronize me.”
Elona thrust a hand forward, her palm aimed at the wasp that had ambushed her companion. “[Ensnaring Strike]!”
A twisted tangle of vines erupted from the right wall and the floor, capturing the wasp mid-air. Sharp thorns sprouted from the tangles, piercing the insect from all angles. It hissed, struggling against its binds—
“Insects don’t hiss,” Ravyn said.
“In this world they do,” Matt countered.
“Shut up! You’re ruining my moment!” Keke snapped, shoving a hand against Ravyn’s shoulder.
Ceres laughed.
“So the wasp was hissing?” Cannoli prompted, her eyes glittering. “What’s next, Matt?”
Matt nodded. “Alright. So. The hissing grows louder as two more vines bind the insect’s wings…”
It was like an iron maiden, clamping and squeezing the writhing monster.
“[Hunter’s Mark]!” Elona cried, nocking an arrow over her bow and drawing it back.
The wasp’s carapace radiated a soft yellow light, signaling the success of Elona’s Spell.
Inhaling a deep breath, Elona pulled the arrow back and freed it on her exhale. Her shot sang true, missing the vines, plunging deep into the wasp’s shell, and piercing its heart. The monster shrieked, gurgling green blood from its tiny mouth before dying.
“It seems that is all of them,” Janusz announced. He drew the long blade across his thigh, cleansing it of the wasp’s verdant lifeblood.
“Wonderful. Can we leave this fucking hell-cave now?” Ravyn grumbled. She pushed herself to her feet, brushing the dirt from her black robes.
“We’re here to find the golden dragon, remember?” Bunny said, straightening the collar on Ravyn’s dress.
Elona procured a hand-drawn map, a quill, and a small bottle of ink from her pack. She crouched on the floor and carefully sketched their current location, connecting the lines of the stone corridor to the previous room. “We solved the riddle at the entrance, moved through the tomb of the Empress, and left our blessing with the Shrine of the Golden Dragon. Cere— I mean, Janusz, what else do you remember from your dream?”
Janusz sheathed his sword and adjusted the shield on his arm. “I recall the sound of flowing water near her den.” He looked from side to side. “None of these walls or structures would suggest a tempering by water.”
Ravyn narrowed her eyes. “How would you know that?”
“The ocean’s tides heavily influenced my home islands of Valkyn,” Janusz explained, stroking the cool rock walls with one clawed hand. “Stone fences and brick roads were at the mercy of the salted water—smoothed and laid low by its machinations.”
“Woah, Ceres really did her research,” Bunny murmured to Elona.
“It certainly puts us to shame.” Elona giggled.
Hmph. Did we come to the wrong cave, then?” Ravyn wandered to the far end of the hallway.
“Why would this cave have everything else we needed, then?” Elona challenged. “Like the Shrine of the Golden Dragon?”
“It’s okay if it’s not super close! We have plenty of supplies and Spells left,” Bunny interrupted. “There’s no need to worry. We’ll find her when we find her.”
“How much do you think a golden dragon head is worth?” Ravyn wondered aloud.
Janusz shook his head. “Ravyn, for the dozenth time, we are not here to kill the dragon. She summoned us for a reason.”
“Then why, Janusz, has she gone out of her way to kill us?” Ravyn demanded. She held out one hand, ticking their trials off on her fingers. “If Elona hadn’t solved the riddle correctly, the walls would have flattened us into pudding. The shrine would have destroyed anyone not pure of heart, so we’d be up in flames if it weren’t for Bunny. There are the traps, the bottomless pits, the monsters—”
“Perhaps it is a test. Not everyone has the opportunity to speak with a dragon,” Janusz suggested.
Elona carefully rolled up her map and deposited the ink and quill back into her pack. “Whining won’t get us any closer to the dragon or to the college’s reward.”
“Um, about that.” Bunny raised a hand. “Do you really think it’s okay to give your map to strangers? Will the dragon be safe?”
“The college requested it for archival purposes. I do not believe it will be used for nefarious purposes,” Janusz reasoned.
“I agree with him. I think it’s important to know as much as you can about a place like this. Especially if it could affect the city’s citizens in the future,” Elona said.
“Less talking, more walking.” Ravyn gestured over her shoulder, pointing forward. “Torches don’t last all day, remember?”
Bunny idly braided a section of her hair. “I wish I had [Illuminate] here. Or that I could call on my quori to give us light. Like Lara does with the Elements.”
“Could you not have taken [Illumination], Bunny? I recall seeing it in one of this world’s tomes,” Janusz asked.
Bunny blushed, her clear blue eyes dropping to the floor. “I-I didn’t slot [Illuminate] into my daily Spells,” she murmured.
“That’s what torches are for!” Ravyn called from around the corner.
“Wait, I have a question,” Elona raised a hand.
“What’s up?” Matt asked, looking up from behind the screen.
“Can I carve the monsters?” Keke asked. “Like Encroachers or Defiled. Would the wasps have anything I can sell or use?”
“Erm, I didn’t really think of that.” He leaned over his notes. “Do any of you have points in [Alchemy]?”
“Oh! I took two!” Cannoli clapped her hands. Button hopped up and down with glee. “You know, just in case.”
“Alright, then sure. You find two wasp stingers. Bunny recognizes them as potion ingredients for antidotes,” Matt said.
“Great. That’ll work.” Keke gave a satisfied nod, shoveling another handful of popcorn into her mouth. “We can continue on.”
“Everyone else good?”
There was a universal nod of agreement around the table.
“Cool. So, the four of you continue down the dark, silent hallway. Your footsteps echo against the walls. Roll me a Perception check.”
“Five,” Cannoli said.
“Six,” Ravyn grumbled.
“Ten,” Ceres announced.
“Fifteen with my bonus.” Keke grinned.
Matt nodded. “Elona hears the sound of running water…”
“It sounds like we’re going the right way,” Elona announced to the group.
“Well, well. The pointy ears are good for something,” Ravyn said, her tone dripping with sarcasm.
“More than you can say for your horns,” Elona snapped back.
“I think both of you look beautiful,” Bunny interjected. “Just like you always do.”
That seemed to placate the duo.
“This smell… It is familiar.” Janusz closed his eyes and inhaled, the scales at the back of his head flaring outward. “Yes, this was just like my dream!”
“Dragons have a smell?” Ravyn asked no one in particular.
Elona shrugged.
“Children, you have come,” a deep, elegant voice spoke, surprising all four adventurers.
They exchanged uncomfortable looks.
“Should we prepare for the worst?” Bunny whispered.
“If we go in with our weapons drawn, she may think we’re here to hurt her,” Elona murmured.
“We’re not?” Ravyn asked.
Janusz and Elona glared at her.
“Jeez, relax. I was joking.”
“Please, step forward. No harm will come to you,” the voice said.
“No more harm, she means,” Ravyn grumbled.
Janusz led the charge to the end of the hallway, then stepped into the final chamber of the dungeon. The constricted walls and low ceiling opened to an expansive room glittering with gold. Every surface was plated with the shimmering metal, enhanced by ornate designs shaped with tiny gemstones. A mosaic of a dragon splayed across the floor, the crown of its head vanishing beneath piles and piles of golden coins lying at the feet of the golden dragon herself.
“A whole bunch of stuff about Magni just started to make sense,” Ravyn murmured.
The dragon was larger than anything they’d ever seen. From her nose to the tip of her tail, she could easily fill a house. The tops of her wings brushed against the impossibly high ceiling, and a long, spiked tail wrapped around her legs. Her shimmering scales were just as vivid and blinding as the coins beside her claws.
“Oh, reverent one. We have answered your call.” Janusz dropped to one knee, bringing one fist to his chest in an honorable salute. He caught the eyes of his companions, who followed suit.
The dragon nodded her great head, then closed her eyes. Her gigantic body began to shrink and reshape itself. The tail pulled into her torso and the spikes smoothed along her dark skin. The flare of scales around her head grew into long, flowing locks of golden hair as claws turned to fingers and toes. The scales shifted and formed into a yellow dress of silk that pooled at her feet.
She approached the adventurers as a human, her smile warm and hands open at her sides. “I am Apalala. Please, rise. Consider yourself my honored guests.”
Nani? Hang on a second,” Ravyn began.
Ravyn poked the human miniature beside the golden dragon. “Is she a [Druid]?”
“No, she’s a dragon,” Matt replied. He worked his jaw, then a sudden realization lit his eyes. “Wait, can [Druid]s change into Encroachers?”
“Well, yeah, obviously—”
“I want to talk to the pretty dragon lady!” Cannoli pleaded. “Please, please, please!”
“I, too, have questions of my own. We can speak of Nyarlean Classes later,” Ceres added, looking pointedly at Ravyn.
Keke raised her eyebrows expectantly.
Ravyn’s shoulders slumped, and she sighed. “Yeah, yeah. Apalala’s guests. Keep going.”
Matt laughed. “Apalala gestures for all of you to stand…”
Bunny rose to her feet, clasping her hands at her chest. “The honor is ours, Lady Apalala!”
Apalala smiled, resting a hand on Bunny’s shoulder. “I owe my thanks to each of you for your presence here, pure-hearted one. It has been three centuries since I have last enjoyed visitors.”
“Your messages were a gift, my lady. We have brought the items you requested.” Janusz slid the bag of holding from his belt and presented it to Apalala. “Might I ask their use?”
Apalala graciously accepted the bag, turning back the flap before feeling through its contents. “My magic, while powerful, is finite. Visiting my kin’s dreams, the mists you traversed, my lair’s many enchantments—all of this slowly sips from my pool of mana.” She pulled an ivory comb made from the tusk of a razor boar free from the bag, then drew its teeth through her long hair. With a contented sigh, she stroked the golden tendrils until the comb disappeared.
Bunny gasped. “I-it’s gone!”
Apalala laughed, then set the bag to her side. “There are many materials and elements in this world that carry a spiritual synergy with me, restoring my magic upon their use. Without them, I would not be able to enjoy the peaceful life that I do.”
“I have a question, if you wouldn’t mind, my lady,” Elona spoke up with a quick bow.
“Of course, dear elf. Anything at all.”
Ravyn snickered.
Bunny grabbed Ravyn’s wrist and shook her head.
“The college requested a map of this dungeon. They offered a great sum for its completion.” Elona pulled the map from her pack. “Would that bring harm to your existence?”
Apalala wrinkled her brow and leaned forward, closely examining Elona’s drawing. She carried a perfume of frankincense on her skin. “I understand the value of knowledge, truly. However, in addition to your rewards, I will double their offering if you do not share your experiences within my lair.”
Without another word, Elona shredded the map and held it out toward Ravyn.
“Don’t have to tell me twice.” Ravyn snapped her fingers, and the shreds of parchment burst into flames. “Though I’m telling you, we bring the dragon’s head back, and they’ll give us the city.”
Apalala turned to Ravyn, her expression dark. “You, infernal one, bring evil to my sanctuary.”
“Hey, no, wait a second—”
“I cannot trust you to keep my secret.”
“With a wave of Apalala’s hand, Ravyn turns to stone. Forever cursed to remain a treasure of the golden dragon,” Matt said.
“Hey! Baka!” Ravyn snapped.
“The rest of the group receives the following legendary items—” Matt continued, ignoring her.
“Matt! That’s bullshit! You know I didn’t say that in character!” Ravyn slammed her hand against the manual.
“Does he, though?” Keke asked.
“Keke is right. Your character has said such things since this campaign began,” Ceres added.
“C’mon, no I haven’t!” Ravyn looked at Cannoli. “Have I?”
Cannoli scooped Buttons up from the table, then slowly nodded.
Critical failure! Squawk!
“Not you, too!” Ravyn sighed and crossed her arms. “Kuso. Alright. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Can I please take it back?”
Matt grinned. “Alright. Just this once, though.”
“Oh, what a generous god.” Ravyn rolled her eyes.
Matt cleared his throat. “Apalala thanks you for burning the map, then turns to her treasure trove…”
“For Janusz, my blessed kin, a shield that will protect you from evil.” Apalala passed Janusz a spotless platinum shield with a golden dragon emblazoned on its surface.
Janusz bowed deeply, accepting her gift with a stern face. “I shall wield it proudly, my lady.”
“For Bunny, the purest of heart, a silken sash.” Apalala stretched a garment made of shimmering, translucent fabric that changed from purple to blue depending on the way the light struck it. “This sash will shine as brilliantly as your good nature. Your foes will be blinded in your presence.”
“Thank you, Miss Apalala!” Bunny immediately donned the sash over her robes, fingering the brilliant fabric with wonder.
“For Elona, strong of mind, I grant you a token befitting of a warrior.” Apalala looped a chain over Elona’s head, careful not to catch her hair as she positioned the golden falcon pendant against the [Ranger]’s chest. “You shall find your steps faster and lighter. No longer will your enemies hear your approach.”
Elona clasped her hand over the pendant and bowed. “I will use it well, Lady Apalala.”
Apalala smiled and stepped before Ravyn. “And for Ravyn, the sharp-tongued infernal, I award you—”
“—a boot to the head,” Matt finished.
Ravyn’s jaw dropped in an incredulous stare. Keke burst out laughing, clapping a hand over her mouth as her face turned red. Ceres hid her laugh behind a cough.
Cannoli stared at Matt with wide eyes. “Matt! Ravyn helped so much! We couldn’t have done this without her! You have to give her something!
Matt laughed and waved his hand in dismissal. “I know. It was just worth it to see that look on her face.”
“I award you a ring of eternity,” Apalala said, sliding a golden ring encrusted with rubies onto Ravyn’s finger. “May your Spells always remain at your fingertips.”
“I can cast as many Spells as I want now?” Ravyn gasped.
“One. You can have one Spell with infinite casts. Second-level or lower,” Matt said. He tilted his head, a wry smile playing at his lips. “Wait, are you getting into this now?”
“I’m not—” Ravyn stopped, looking into the expectant faces of her companions. Pursing her lips, she groaned. “Okay. Maybe a little bit.”
“Yay! That’s wonderful!” Cannoli cheered!
“What happens next, Matt?” Keke asked.
“Apalala gives you the money she promised, and you make your way back to town. This Quest is officially complete.” Matt folded his hands on the table, looking at the girls.
“I wish to find our next adventure if my companions are keen to remain at my side,” Ceres said, examining her miniature before placing it on the picture of the tavern.
“Ravyn?” Keke asked.
Ravyn rolled her eyes. “Sure. Let’s keep going.”
The others cheered.
Matt smiled and opened another book. “Here we go, then. You hear a rumor that the college isn’t happy about the map…”

Matt Pro Tip: This is a lot of fun. We'll have to thank Tristan for suggesting it and letting us borrow his books.
First Previous Next Volume 1 Volume 2 Patreon
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submitted by DDoubleBlinDD to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.23 21:42 kzooy Ghosts of mud: Holy steel of the sky. (epilouge - chap 2)

Hello, i know you can post fics here so i might as well, the ao3 for this is anyways, enjoy. (also, this is a sequel to a previous work, hope thats not all that bad)


Ghost woke up.
This wasn't out of the ordinary. He had done this most mornings of his life. This was one of those mornings.
Something differentiated this morning, however, that being fire spewing out of the caves.
“Hng… what?” Ghost asked as he saw Lotus pick up a spear.
“If we're facing a second attack on this cursed mountain, I'm releasing the wrath o'-” Lotus shouted.
“Shhh..” Blank shushed, “I'm sure the administration will handle this one." He lay back down next to Ghost, who petted him.
“Is that forsaken SkyWing in here!” yelled someone in a pitch black robe, looking into the room.
Ghost’s eyes darted to the only SkyWing in the room, covered in blankets sleeping, surprisingly calmly.
“No no, not here…” the dragon spat as they walked out of the room.
Everybody paused for a minute. “Well, what was that?!” Ghost asked, four words which mirrored Lotus and Blank's confusion.
“Are they gone yet?” a voice whispered - the SkyWing who was lying down.
“Yeah.. I think so…” Lotus said. In response, the SkyWing shot up.
“Great, I have to get back in contact with Heron.” They looked down at their talons, covered in metal.
“Greetings!” said a dragon with a smirk, “I'm Jasper, your blacksmithing teacher!” The smirk by now had burst its bonds and become a smile. “First, everyone go get a partner.” He pulled out some vague lumps - some of them seemed to have been worked already, looking more like blocks - of pig iron.
“So, me and you… Uh, what's your name?” Ghost said to the SkyWing in his winglet.
“Oh, I'm…” The SkyWing looked down at the ground, a contemplative pause resulting that was quite unnatural considering the question that had been asked. “Redscales?”
“So, Redscales, are you good with smithing?” Ghost asked.
“I've done a little before,” Redscales answered as Jasper put a very dull spearhead on the table.
“First: crafting a spear. Don't make it sharp, now, this is a school and not a military! Anyways, you'll need to use these sticks to attach it on, just use some rope.” Jasper took a tour of the room, putting the items on the students table.
“How can you make a spear with this! And rope, ROPE!” Redscales bursted out, but then calmed down. “Ghost, get the dowels, I'll work on sharpening it.” He grabbed a knife and started sharpening and cutting down the spear head.
“Get a what?” Ghost asked, looking confusedly at the SkyWing.
“Fine, pass me one of those screwdrivers. I'll engrave it later," Redscales said.
“Engrave?” Ghost thought, but still handed Redscales the screwdriver.
“Thanks.” The Skywing looked down as they screwdrove the screwdriver in, making a hole for the dowel, maybe. Ghost didn't know if a dowel was small enough to fit in any hole. He was under the impression that it was a tool.
Ghost picked up the wooden pole the spear would be mounted on. “Hey, this is hollow isn't it? How do they think a hollow spear would help?”
Redscales nodded in agreement.
“Hey, Redscales, how do you know so much about blacksmithing? I know you're a SkyWing but still…” Ghost asked the SkyWing, who quickly became aggravated. Ghost considered retracting his question, but it was answered too soon.
“I just…” he paused, as if there was something Ghost couldn't know that he was about to reveal. “I was an apprentice at a smithery for a while.”
Ghost saw this was somewhat of a touchy subject, so he kept quiet.
“There we go!” he said, as he pulled out a good looking spear. It did look a bit… shitty, as Lotus would say. But it was held together by a dowel? (he still didn't have the definition of that word) in the bottom of the spearhead, and attached to the pole firmly.
“Great, now Ghost, what do we do next?” he asked.
“Aerodynamics? Add some feathers, innit?” Ghost said, looking his skilled partner - to Ghost's eyes, he seemed much more a journeyman that someone who'd not completed his apprenticeship.
“Yes. surprisingly. Go grab some, and I'll see if I can sand this off,” Redscales said.
Ghost looked around the whole room, seeing nothing of the sort. All this, right before the class ended.
“Okay everyone, let me see your spears!” Jasper said with a smile.
“First, the Emerald Winglet,” he said, looking at the cobbled together “spear”, although it looked just like a hunk of metal roped onto a pole. No judgement was passed on this atrocity. To acknowledge its existence would ruin the mood.
Jasper walked towards the next table, The Jade Winglet.
“Oh, my…” Jasper gasped, looking at the nearly perfect spear. A spearhead, actually sharp, and properly attached onto its pole.
“Y'think we're passing?” Redscales gave a most rhetorical grin to his partner.

chapter 1

“Morning!” Sunny said, poking her head into the Jade Winglet’s cave.
“We have a guest this morning! King Heron. I know you would want to know because you LEFT WITH HIM!” Sunny said, a bit angrier than usual. Ghost couldn't blame her; she was just trying to keep her students safe.
“Wait, Heron?!” Ghost said, standing up, “What's the occasion?”
“Something to do with trade deals, he’s stopping here on the way,” Sunny answered, walking over to wake up the next winglet. This coincided with an important event that she mercifully was spared from.
“So, Redscales, we've blacksmithing first thing today, right?” Ghost asked, looking towards the SkyWing.
Redscales looked up at the SandWing. “Think so. Heron should be stopping there, from what I knew when we last talked.”
“Wait, you and Heron talk?” Ghost asked.
Redscales looked embarrassed, his epithet awful fitting at the moment. “I.. look, you'll find out later.” The SkyWing promptly got up and grabbed his bags, and some news scrolls. “'ll s'y'at class!” he finished hastily.
Ghost walked into class. Taking in the lumbery air, he looked around the many rows of desks with tools thrown on them, bits of sawdust and metal shavings, as well as all the students. Parodies and tragedies, the lot of them were.
Except for one thing, a being impervious to parody but weak in turn to tragedy. The King of the MudWings sat right beside Redscales, looking at a piece of metal-work.
Ghost approached the duo of dragons, hearing faint whispers of conversation from their mouths. “I can't believe this is what the SkyWings want…” Heron said, looking at the trinket Ghost couldn't see.
“It's more or less to engineer the moulds. It's easy to make then, considering their technology,” Redscales replied, putting it back onto his talons.
“Heron?” Ghost asked, looking at the MudWing. Both of the dragons Ghost was talking to jumped.
“Oh, hello Ghost! ‘warya?” Heron asked cheerfully, wiping away the serious demeanour he had when talking about the metal thingy.
“I'm good, might I ask, what's that tidbit on your talons, Redscales?” Ghost asked, pointing towards Redscales talons, tidbit and all.
Heron burst out laughing. “R… Redscales!? HaHA!” he laughed, trying to catch his breath. “C’mon Weaver, I know you want to stay undercover, but… Redscales?” A residual chuckle dribbled out of his mouth, a sound typical both of parody and tragedy. This time it was parody.
“Weaver?” Ghost asked, rotating his head to a 45 degree angle exactly in a feat never since reproduced.
“Come on Ghost, let's get going,” Heron said, practically begging to walk outside of the room.
Heron, Ghost, Blank, Lotus and “Redscales” were all outside Jade Mountain, looking towards the Sky Kingdom.
“So, Steelweaver,” Heron said. “Should we stop at your old shop?”
“No… I don't think there's anything left of it,” he addressed the gravel beneath him, the weight of years of his hard work having gone in an instant weighing down his head.
“Well, 'Scaleweaver,' I think we should get back to CLASS!” Ghost scolded.
“Look Ghost, I can't do royal diplomacy without a certain MudWing hero, so how about we get into the SkyWing kingdom - you alright with that, or do I have to drag you along?”

chapter 2

Ghost looked at the hills in front of them. “Ya know, I haven't been to the Sky Kingdom before.” he said.
Steelweaver looked at the hills, then at his own talons. “It's not all that nice there. You get used to the mountains.”
“Come on, let's get going.” Heron said, beginning to descend the winding terraces that had been carved into the side of Jade Mountain.
“There's a SkyWing camp close to the mountain right above us. We should find some of these Blacksmiths' Guild guys there,” Blank said, butting in. He looked towards the mountain above them, looking closely to see some red things flying around, most likely SkyWings. Yeah, his eyesight wasn't great.
“H… how did you do that! Your scroll…” Steelweaver said, looking directly at Blank’s inexplicably unblank scroll.
“Oh, animus magic…” Blank replied softly. He called the magic's name tenderly, like a lover gone by.
The two dragons stared confusedly at each other for two and a half excruciating seconds.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN ANIMUS MAGIC!?” Steelweaver roared at Blank, who ducked down in fear from the outraged SkyWing.
Ghost went to hug his boyfriend. After giving Steelweaver a stare Aurora would be jealous of, Blank broke the silence.
“Here, this should help us sneak past,” Blank shyly said, hanging Steelweaver a piece of vine.
“Why would a vine help me?” Steelweaver said, still shocked from the sight of an animus dragon in front of him. This new world that had been born in the last few seconds was full of insane mystery.
Blank handed the vine to Steelweaver, who snatched it from him greedily. As Steelweaver touched the vine, it seemed as if he stopped existing - everything that once was him vanishing, part of the world no more.
Blank chuckled. “Come on 'Weaver, let's go.”
“Guys! Look here!” Lotus said, poking her head over the mountain.
“Lotus! Shut up… we'll get caught…” Steelweaver said, snaking his neck away from his body such that his head was next to Lotus’.
“It's ok, the spell makes us invisible and unhearable to anyone without the vines.”
Heron climbed one of the rocks and walked into one of the camps. A SkyWing clad in some grey armour looked directly at Heron for a second before walking off, his scales turning pale - as though he'd seen a ghost (badum kish).
The gang climbed over while following Heron.
“Oh! Finally, some of their forges,” Steelweaver said as he jumped over to a pool of lava.
Ghost followed his trail, looking into the pool of the thick orange liquid. “Wow, no wonder they've high quality steel,” Ghost said, turning his head towards Steelweaver.
“Not really… I mean, they have good stuff for military use - although it's nowhere near the level an actual blacksmith could do - but it's more quantity over quality. Hence why the old MudWing Queen hired them. But what really gets us blacksmiths on them is their somehow unlimited access to lava - it's awful easy to forge swords and armor with it, although it sucks when you use proper steel,” Steelweaver rambled on and on.
“Ah, I see you like blacksmithing, innit?” Lotus taunted from behind the SkyWing.
Steelweaver jolted back. “Oh… I mean, I…" Ten thousand years passed in his head as all function ground to a halt. "Yes...” he finished, defeated.
“Knew it, you're so nerdy talking about blacksmithing.” Lotus said, looking at Steelweaver, who was living up to his old name of Redscales.
“Guys! I think I found one of the leaders' cabins, " Heron said, urging his four companions to walk over.
As Heron led the way into the cave - not really a cabin, to be honest, but that's the word that'd popped into Heron's head - they saw a desk, as well as some armour on the walls.
They looked at a SkyWing who was doing some paperwork.
“Hey, I think there's some high quality iron over here,” said Ghost. He'd gotten better at blacksmithing; all those classes were not in vain.
“I'll take that as a compliment,” said the SkyWing at the desk. Like it was the most normal thing in the world to have heard Ghost, he kept scribbling on the paper before him.
Ghost jumped back, looking directly at the SkyWing, who promptly rolled up his scroll. “'Course I can hear you," he said, displaying his talon and an intricate ring on it. "Refined skyfire."
Hope yall liked it, im mainly posting it here so i can get some comments about it, i have none on ao3.
submitted by kzooy to WingsOfFire [link] [comments]

2023.05.23 20:38 RoideSanglier Against God 3

Memory Transcription: Tilka, Venlil Citizen (Confirmed thought criminal, if located please report to nearest officer)
They weren't new… they didn't wipe themselves out. They had surpassed us… we were pets… entertainment. My whole being was a lie. My people are slaves to a race of predators. All of us were.. Even the arxur were slaves. And they watched. As my people were butchered they watched… I broke down on the floor. I wished only for death. To live like this was torture, to know it was our destiny? Shameful…
From the dark illuminated by a green flame, came the cloaked Venlil. He stood as from the legends of ghosts. He was a being of such magnitude it was hard for my mind to accept.
"Do you see now?" His voice echoed.
"I do, and I curse what I have seen. If only I lived as a blind man…"
"Arise. You have seen the truth of mankind… will you stand against them? If you leave now… you will be killed, but not by my hands. If you take my paw, your death will be liberating us." He reached out towards me, the blue flame in his paw.
What was I meant to be? A pawn or a sacrifice? If I am to be honest, I was already dead. I wanted to die the moment the humans landed. To take my own life would betray my children still left.
"What about my children…?"
"We can find a place for your children."
I stood with hesitancy… my body as though a flag in the wind. I felt so weak, maybe just how they would want me to be…
"I'll do it… I'll join you."
Memory Transcript: Bahsu, human guard at camp Thessaloniki, on leave to the capital of Wittenmyer
The ancestral shrine was hazy with activity. Over 1000 people were outside waiting to enter. Of course, I suspect there were upwards of 100,000 inside alone. It was always like this, but I was surprised to see so many aliens outside. Itr was mostly aliens in fact. Stepping up to the starting patio, I bumped myself into a slimy surface. Both of us had grunted, and the alien looked at me. From what I could tell, it had more of a resemblance of a squid than anything else. I suspect this was a Kholshian. I admit I had never seen one so up close before.
“Sorry [phrase untranslatable], are you good?” I tried to put on my best social accent.
“You humans have such good eyes, can’t you look where you’re going!” I wasn’t shocked by his response, but rather his reaction afterwards. His eyes widened, and he cringed.
“I-sorry I shouldn’t have…” I stopped him.
“It’s alright… may I ask why you and all these others are out here? You know aliens are not for the temple,” I looked to the door, bared shut.
He bared around, looking principly to the other aliens, a mix of contempt and begrudging acceptance plastered on him.
"Converts…" is what he uttered. "I was arriving with a friend, just to support xem. Xe are good company..
Then all of them appeared." He waved his tentacles towards the crowds. "It seems the rest of this planet had forgotten their protector." He looked to me again. "Or maybe they were forsaken."
Just as he finished speaking, a tall figure dressed in an orange tunic long as a dress came out from the door, along with some other 1000 humans. Xe approached us, bringing out a few flowers in a small knot in the way of the hymn to Mother.
"Ovanus! Seems you've made a friend," xe seemed amused at the prospect.
The Kholshian seemed to fluster, backing away from me into xem.
"Ah! No no, I was just-" xe laughed again.
"Like a leaf in the wind. Here, I got these for you. They pair on your skin." Xe handed over the bouquet to the squid. The squid at first seemed so oblivious, but took them and gave a smile.
If I was more conservative, I may not have understood. The Kholshian didn't see it all but I did. The little hints: the tip of the heel, the rising of the voice, emphasis of the first syllable. Xe were courting… I respected it. Fearlessness is something you don’t see often. The flowers were themselves quite well: lavenders from Earth. A rarity across the universe those were. Xe would give such things to the alien? Such nobility, an act of adoration in these times. I hope the Kholshian would see.
“I… thank you… let’s… um,” he stuttered.
Xe laughed again, before grabbing the tentacle of the Khoplshian and moving away.
“Come on! I gotta show you this cafe that came in! I hear they got a chef from Mars.”
“As long as they don't serve meat.” I don’t know if the squids laughed, but I may have detected amusement.
Entering the shrine, amongst all the sounds of walking and talking and chanting, I most noticed the smell of incense. It was the strongest around the central circle. I can see why the aliens were not let in.
They were singing the Hymn of She. While in the Laso guard camp, I picked up some of the scrolls of the ancestors, in which the hymn is recorded. It was a Hymn which proclaimed the glory of Gaia, Mother's most perfect incarnation. She herself was portrayed as a virgin, and was given mankind as her child. By this, she is worshipped as a conduit to mankind's glory and to Mother. I was unsure why so many aliens would willingly come to a place that put them as inferior. Could they hear from outside the hymn?
After sitting down near the center, an acolyte gave me a small golden bowl of toasted herbs. The smell was strong, of coriander and fig leaves and curry leaves and malt.
As I inhaled the smoke, I began as such to sing, and with passion I spoke so allowed.
In this heavenly splendor, I felt myself a taste of the ancestral lands. I smelled such things as honey and wine, such good things.
As I traveled that path of speech in the books, it was covered in glorious trees and statues of those before. I felt weak yet so glorious.
As I went on… my legs became weaker, and the splendor felt as such that it was slipping moment by moment. Becoming so silent. It was dark and rainy, and I looked at it.
In an instant I saw the ground stained with mud and blood, yet not of man. It was of all strange colors. I heard not joy, not splendor, but of screaming pain and fear. I smelled the power of smoke and acid, and the rainy droplets against ashen bones. I looked up then to see so many figures above me, so many in fact they clouded my vision in our light.
"Look to him, for he covers in our heavenly light. His sins are such they they block him."
"But of course, do you smell it upon him? The blood of innocents! If only Mother were here…"
"Silence! Let us see what he must say for himself."
On my two knees, I avoided the eyes glowing so. I felt the clotting of sticky blood on my poor hands.
"Ancestors you must be wrong! I have kept your doctrine and such things you say that I have not done!" I screamed!
"To lie to us, we knower of all?"
"He shall not admit! He must be cast from us!"
"Let him be burned!"
In that moment they all went silent. They looked now to the heavens, and from down came a splendid figure in long golden robes, with her eyes covered, and in one of her 20 arms, held a gojid to her breast. I know of such, and I know who this is…
"I have come, and you have seen me. I cover and do not look upon thee. I ask, beloved creation, is this the one?"
The gojid called up, and said such things: "It was he who was amongst them, and stood watch."
I realized now, and saw such hatred on his face.
"Mother! Mother you must understand I had done only what I was told! I had not done such-"
"Child of mine, what is the word in the foretold Scepter?" She held two fingers above, and out came a venlil to stand on her finger.
"All things are of mother, and her creatures are eternal, and to kill one in blood or be a witness is a crime…"
"So you know then? That the blood of mine is on your hands?"
"But what was I meant to do mother? I knew it was so wrong! Please, I did it for my sake!"
"To die in such honor, is to enter my embrace."
From her breast was born a new gojid, or from I knew…
"Nitala…" I cried now and forever. I saw her face beaten and bruised, half rotten with maggots.
"She came to me dead in the woods, and where you had left her became her place of rest."
"I admit it as so! I am guilty in all forms! Mother unto me give your mercy!"
She looked to me, without such to do so, and she took of my heart, and caste it down towards a hole. It was swallowed entirely.
"The mercy I can give to you now is to bring you to the place of eternal suffering, and teeth mashing, for now and here be for untold years."
I felt chains around my body, and a dragging.
"Please Mother, give unto me another chance!" With such words I felt myself be dragged down and down.
I awoke with a shudder, and the singing had ended. I was now amongst so many, looking my way.
One took my hand, "are you okay?"
"Yes, I know now what I must do."
I left with haste
submitted by RoideSanglier to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.05.23 19:34 Carolinaposchi Lost Traveler Creepypasta

Lost Traveler Creepypasta
Diego, a lonely, reserved and cold boy in the poor orphanage. He was born to a beautiful woman and a messy man, but the man was married, his wife discovered the betrayal and wanted to kill the baby. His father had to leave him so that his wife doesn't kill him and also, he didn't want to have another child and neither did his mistress, so he had to abandon him for his own benefit, Diego interprets that he was left as if it was a bag of garbage, what had really happened, in a way, is totally irrelevant to Diego, he always mentally cursed that his biological parents were nothing more than immature and useless adults, he hoped that his wife had killed his father and his mistress in the worst possible way without leaving any trace. Diego was called "weird boy"at the orphanage for the other children, even with the nuns and the owner of the place. It was not an insult to the boy Demetriou, because he recognizes that he is very different from other children, he is very proud of it, he was intelligent, quite skilled in athletic activities and talked to adults as if he were one of them. It may sound like these characteristics don't make sense of strangeness, they should be proud of being a special child, but there is always a ''but'' in many people, no matter how much he is a prodigy, he has no character, he doesn't cares for no one but himself, manipulates children to do what he wants, especially girls, and has caused the nuns a lot of trouble. Other things that few people there know about him, he has certain grotesque and disgusting thoughts, something with blood, human body organs from outside and many macabre things far from God. When he turned 14, he was finally going to be adopted, giving relief to the odd boy's children and nuns, he hadn't liked it one bit, so one dark night, he'd climbed out of his bed to set up the utterly unforgivable. In the morning, the family that was going to adopt him arrived at the orphanage to pick him up, he said goodbye to the nuns, the children and the owner saying that he missed them all with tears on his face. Were those tears sincere? Three days into his new home, he was in the living room with his new parents, drinking tea he had made for them, the television was on playing his favorite soap opera, until the program was interrupted by the breaking news channel, the orphanage he was staying in caught fire at ten o'clock the night after the day he left, killing the children, the nuns and the owner, the only survivors were just two nuns and a baby. He had his eyes wide open on the television screen, his family tried to console the boy for having lost his friends, he left the room sighing going to his room, his parents were sad for him, they would wait for him to take out the anguish alone and then enter the room to talk to him. While Diego in his room kneeling on the floor, breathing heavily, tears streaming down his face, but not tears of sadness, he opened a devilish smile, small laughs came out of his mouth, he covered his face to stifle his sadistic laugh to look like he was crying to their parents. He was the one who did it, the boy that night before leaving, he made a trap in the basement of the orphanage, he spread gasoline inside, over the door, there was a shelf with a lamp that is lit by candle, he put a small string so that whoever opened it the door, would end up pulling the rope to drop the lantern to fall to the floor and break releasing the small gasoline fire on the floor. Diego was nothing more than a homicidal and self-centered narcissist, he wanted everything in his superiority, he manipulated his adoptive family to be perfect, like the best family ever, always happy and following their roles as father and mother. Everything went as planned for Diego, he managed to get rich, he was immensely popular at school, that typical playboy that the girls loved, and the man that the boys considered as an inspiration. His life was like royalty, it was his greatest happiness, however, "this happiness", it was his sin, he didn't conquer anything to have this paradise, it was cheating and a disguise to hide his dark side. He came home tired from having so much fun with things he didn't deserve. His family was expecting him with a small visit. In the living room, there was a little girl sitting on the sofa, she had long hair, it was as black as darkness, she had bright blue eyes, she was wearing a dress that looked like a gray nightgown and black sneakers. The girl looked to be 9 or 10 years old, she was smiling looking at Diego who had a strange feeling about the little girl, her parents said she was his distant cousin, her name was Helena, she came to meet him, the girl got off the couch and ran towards him to hug him. He returned the hug hoping it would be as warm as any child's empathy, when she was in his arms, he felt that her skin was terribly cold, he would open his mouth to tell his parents to take her to the doctor, but the child grabbed he by the neck with a totally disproportionate strength for a child, she pulled his head so that his eyes looked into her eyes that were blue as beautiful as water seconds ago changing to bizarrely horrifying eyes. The boy was scared, he didn't understand what was happening to the little girl, as he tried to stop looking at her, "Helena" kept changing to a totally bizarre appearance, her teeth were huge, her hair became blacker than before , floating as if it had no gravity, diamond-shaped marks appeared at the corner of her lips, her dress grew longer, forming a black robe with white edges. The boy looked with a scared expression saying low "Helena?", the creature replies, "Helena... she looks like me, she is a dead child, I am also a dead child, my name is... Kardama", Diego changed his scared look to a look that saw something wonderful, "Kardama?... Kardama...Kardama dead child", the creature smiled showing his teeth similar to a vampire, Diego ends up fainting. Diego was in a nightmare, the people he killed and manipulated were attacking him, Diego defended himself from the attacks with a kitchen knife, as he stabbed people, a headache hit him, after he killed his schoolmate who was in love with him, he felt something sharp on his back and it was burning, it was Helena, so in anger he turned around and stabbed her skull without any mercy, then I fell to the ground exhausted and did not remembers nothing more of the nightmare. He just remembered the burning sensation and an agonizing hunger. After a long time he finally wakes up with a strange taste in his mouth, his clothes were filthy with blood, his mouth was drooling, his teeth hurt and he had very strange meat crumbs. He was in the forest, when he got up he saw a trail of human pieces and blood that led to the city. Where he was, he panicked, running all over the place, screaming so loud you could hear his voice for miles and writhing ridiculously on the floor. He stayed there until he calmed down, everything was a mess, there was nothing left of him, his glory and people he needed were taken away from him. Rather, they were saved. Diego was leaning against the tree looking at the moon, waiting for an idea to come up to do, his ideas were interrupted by the presence of the bizarre girl, she reached out to him without saying a word, he refused for a few seconds, but he remembered that it was all over for him, if he came back he would be arrested for the crimes he committed, so he shook the girl's hand and that gesture completely changed his life.
submitted by Carolinaposchi to CreepyPastas [link] [comments]

2023.05.23 10:22 chlysm Jenova Dreamweaver's 'Masamune' Attack Sometimes Shows A Different Sword. Perhaps it is a Clue to Marco's Identity?

These are some high detail images of the move I am talking about.
Related thread: Jenova Dreamweaver detail I noticed in freecam

Jenova Dreamweaver - Rejection

The \"Rejection\" spell is often followed by a holographic Masamune that is shown levitating a glittered figure upward. Once fully extended, a beam of light crashes down on the player and is followed by purple feathers.
Fandom Link: Jenova Dreamweaver - Light Beam
The fandom page refers to this move as 'Light Beam', but the only text that is shown on screen is "Rejection" and the Masamune follows about 80% of the time.
The Spanish version refers to "Rejection" as "Presionado" which means "pressure". The most common context used in Spanish refers to 'pressure' as being overburdened or intimidated. I guess being impaled and lifted by a 2 metre sword could be an effective intimidation tactic.
That said, I am not sure what the official name is supposed to be, so I am just going to call this move 'Masamune' for now.

Masamune Animation Differences:

It is rare to see changes in the side view. Note the notched pattern.
The animation when viewed from the side rarely changes. But occasionally, you'll see parts of another weapon with a distinct notched pattern. The snip above is the highest resolution image I've been able to capture. The image below shows a different instance of Masamune in lower resolution
Lower resolution seems to blur out the notches, but here you can see that this other weapon seems to have different parts to it. Parts that must be hollow on the inside as they slide down the Masamune lifts upward.
Once the sword fully extends upward, the camera view quickly rotates to the front before the sword comes down. But even that isn't always the case. The image below shows what happens when the camera remains in the same position.
This snip is from the Japanese version. Those swords ain't no Masamune.
I don't know if the Japanese version of this animation is different, or if this is just a a single rare instance of the camera view staying to the side. FWIW, The sword Cloud was using here was the Mythril Blade. That is in case you are wondering if that is Cloud's sword being reflected.
That said, all other instances of Masamune's animation that I've seen has the camera view rotate to the front before the sword comes down.

Once the sword comes down, the beam of light follows the Masamune which stays at the bottom. I used this image because the handle of the Masamune is visible at the bottom and is the most normal(ish) one out of the bunch.
Below are some deblurred images that show a few of the different forms the Masamune (at bottom) will take depending on how the animation decided to play out.
I enhanced these as best I could. The left images shows the notches again. The image in the middle seems to be some kind of intermediate form and the one of the shows an entirely different sword.

The Other Sword

he position of the Masamune, and the notched pattern of of the other sword(s) seems reminiscent of something.
At first, I though this was a reference to the Nibelheim incident simply due to there being so many flashbacks that occur during the story. But I'm pretty sure that this isn't the case here.
Other common threads here are purple smoke, feathers, and holographic swords coming apart. It's also worth mentioning that the scenes above occurred in nearly the same place.
That being the top floor Shinra HQ. Or what's left of it.

Why This is Interesting

In the Ultimania for FFVII Remake, there is an illustration of the rooms at Stargazer Heights which is where Tifa, Cloud and Marco reside. In those illustrations, they used a very interesting choice of silhouettes.
Cloud's silhouette is clearly from Advent Children. At first glance, most probably thought it was a nod to AC as I had. However, Marco is the one who summons Dreamweaver. On the other hand, Marco's silhouette is missing his robe.
They went through a curious amount of detail in the layouts of these apartments. It's also interesting how they use Cloud's AC silhouette here. It's also seen in a few other places too.
The devs incorporated symbolism in Stargazer Heights in the apt numbers, But the point I'm interested in is where they made a point to show that Cloud's room is a mirror of Marco's room and that that it is mirrored at their bathroom mirrors on their walls. Not an uncommon layout, but it is an oddly unnecessary detail that is absent from most structures depicted in this book.
On the surface this could simply be a nod to Cloud and Marco being Sephiroth Copies. That's but one thing they have in common....

The profile is a pretty damn good match for Marco's robe. I actually had to shrink it down a little so the outline would show when overlayed.
Going back to the freecam view, the front reveals a glitterbombed figure being impaled by the Masamune. Some people have assumed this was Sephiroth, but when has he ever been impaled by his own sword?
The Masamune animation also shows a beam of light above the sword after it comes down. Most of instances of these are indiscernible. But once in awhile, you'll get one that appears to be a humanoid figure
I wouldn't normally attempt this comparison if not for the other hint with Cloud's AC silhouette and Marco's robe. I attempted to reproduce the effect myself on the far right image.
At the very end of the animation, all of the light projections appear to get sucked in to Jenova Dreameaver's body via the hole at the top of her chest.

What Could Marco Have to do With Cloud?

This is where things get very interesting. The original identities of the Sephiroth Copies in FFVIIR are partially. But picturing the Past identifies 3 of them by name. The one of interest here is Geddie Bach. Because he poisoned his comrades so that he could assume the identity of Glenn Reiner so that he embark on the survey mission in his place and take his reward.
That mission was to search for Mako based on Aerith's drawings. The mission he was on was to search for mako in Cosmo Canyon. But, he bribed the pilot to alter course to Mideel. This was based on a drawing he obtained from Aerith. However, this drawing was faked because it was not from Aerith's vision like the others. Geddie Bach ended up with mako posioning and became a robed Sephiroth copy like the friends he poisoned and what this guy has in common with Cloud is mako poisoning in Mideel.
The underlying theme of Geddie Bach's story is deception. From secretly poisoning his friends, to the stolen identity, and the bribery to go to to Mideel based on a faked drawing. What he has in common with Cloud is mako poisoning in Mideel. And I don't think they hung a lantern on that for no reason. Because the theme of deception would fit in with showing the fusion sword with someone who isn't Cloud.
Geddie Bach and his comerades were not members of SOLDIER, rather they were part of Shinra Security. The silhouette in Marco's room could be a Shinra Security Gaurd. And speaking of imposters, that is also Cloud's real job title as he just assumes a SOLDIER identity. Perhaps this is they pointed out Cloud and Marco's mirrored apartments.
The Silhouette used for Marco is too low of detail to know what it is for sure, but one clue could be in the protrusions from the bicep which seems to be pauldrons. The blocky shaped head and slightly stocky build could be Shinra Security gear.
Of course, despite these connections, Marco only ever appears as Sephiroth. There's also that that weird thing in the Cosmos Theatre where I think he picked up Sephiroth's memory. Interesting coincidence that Geddie Bach was originally supposed to Cosmo Canyon.
But most importantly. Cloud is the person Sephiroth needs to complete his Reunion.
This is the last time Sephiroth will extend his hand to Cloud in mercy according to the developers.
Given what we know about these characters, There's a good chance that Sephiroth anticipated Cloud's rejection of his offer. Just like Sephiroth anticipated literally every move Cloud made in the fight that follows this scene. If Sephiroth anticipated this course of action then we can surmise he has another way to achieve Reunion.

Cloud Strife and the New Mystery

The fact that we have two Clouds should be clue.
The underlying theme of Geddie Bach's story was deception. But more specifically, forgery. He became a Sephiroth copy via a false identity and a fake drawing. Of course, Sephiroth's reunion won't work with an imposter. He still needs Cloud's willing participation. Otherwise Cloud would be dead already. So let's think about what else Sephiroth can do with a 'Counterfeit Cloud'.
Of course this brings us back to the lifestream in Mideel. Where Geddie Bach and Cloud got their Mako poisoning.
The plot of FFVII OG was Cloud's identity. Whether he was a manufactured Shinra expiriment, or a naturally born human being with memories and a past. This mystery revolves heavily around the Nibelheim incident. FFVIIR is clearly setting up a new mystery for us.
The Underground Test Site is where Geddie Bach was taken after he was Mako poisoned. Apparently S-cells are the 'cure' for that as this is where FFVIIR's Sephiroth Copies come from. Interestingly, this is yet another place where Cloud and Geddie Bach have been to at some point.
In Chapter 13, we visit the Underground Test Site to rescue Wedge. Cloud disappears through most of this chapter only arriving at the very end. He also has a flashback of being one of these mako tanks. Though it might be easy for us attribute this to a false memory. We also don't know what else happened to Cloud while he was absent. Maybe it was to give it a chance to play as the other characters. Or a chance to give Cloud a 'medical checkup'.
The point here is to understand that it yet again sows the seeds of doubt by raising questions in our minds. Even if we think we know the answers, we have to put ourselves in the Character's shoes and understand that is not the case for Cloud.
Cloud is the only successful Sephiroth copy, thus theoretically it should be entirely possible for a Sephiroth copy to take Cloud's form instead of Sephiroth. And what better way to convince someone they aren't real by showing him the other 'you'?
Or perhaps take things a step further and place them in a world where their own real memories are of no use in proving their identity. Because history is different. In that situation, who would Zack trust? The Cloud who remembers the same thing he does.

The Old Mystery is the New Mystery

We shouldn't assume we know who the real Cloud is.
I feel like FFVIIR has many layers of misdirection and this could be one of those layers. Marco also seems to be related to our 'Unknown Sephiroth' as described in the Ultimania. Regarding the 'unknown element'. Cloud is very much a counterpart to Sephiroth, so this unknown element also effects Cloud in someway. Perhaps by erasing his future?
That said, we've had had FF stories with protagonists who aren't technically real/alive. So an inverse scenario where Remake Cloud is the copy is not something I would put past them at all. The same thing goes for Zack. Perhaps that is how Zack can be alive but dead according to the devs? IDK?
I remember playing OG believing that until I finished the game. Now, 25 years later we're starting with the premise that Remake Cloud is a real person. And maybe that's what they want us to think... For now.
The point is that we are in for a world (or two) of Jenovafied mindfuckery here and we're far from any answers.
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2023.05.22 22:53 NamelessNanashi [The Gods of Dragons: Beginning] Ch 3 - Magic Theory

--- Table of Contents ---
Summer 4978, 17 Akamoth
Shon sighed in relief as he followed his cohorts into the Church classroom. Outside, the summer was humid, making the still air feel even hotter than it was. But inside, hung an orb that kept the classroom conditioned to stay pleasantly cool and dry. He had no idea how such luxuries worked, but would save his questions until after this week's lessons. They were finally learning about magic.
From the arcane devices that cooled their rooms in the summer to the divine blessings that healed their broken bones, magic was a fact of life that was all around them. Not everyone could wield it, but they didn’t have to, just like not everyone could make pottery or forge swords. Magic was an art for nobles and a chosen few. And though few, if any, of these children would ever be among them, they would at least benefit from the fruits of such labor, and, as such, were taught basic theory.
Father Branston himself stood at the head of the class with a Paladin in a crisp white uniform and a Mage in long dark robes. The Abbot smiled warmly down at them, his wide belly brushing the closest desk as he rocked on his feet, “Good morning, class.”
“Good morning, Father Branston,” the children called out in unison. Shon didn’t bother to join them. His voice wouldn't be noticed amongst the crowd anyway.
“I would like to introduce you to Sir Jone of the Temple of Hengist and Mage Marc of the Mages Guild. Over the next week, we three will be covering your lessons on magic theory.” Father Branston explained, gesturing from the children to his companions, prompting them to say,
“Good morning Sir Jone, Mage Marc,” in a much more disjoined greeting. The Paladin’s lip twitched in a half-grin at their effort, but the Mage rolled his eyes and turned for the blackboard.
Picking up a fresh piece of chalk, Mage Marc drew two large circles on the board, overlapping them slightly. He was clearly impatient to get started, and Father Branston whispered a silent prayer, smiling at the ceiling while the children all took out their notebooks and pencils to copy the board.
The Mage had a dry bored voice that he still managed to project into the room, “There are two types of magic, arcane, and divine.” he wrote one word above each circle, “Arcane is practiced by Mages,” he wrote the word inside the arcane circle, “and divine by Clerics and Paladins.” he wrote both inside the divine circle then passed the chalk to Sir Jone, “Today you will be introduced to workings of divine magic.” he finished, taking the seat behind the instructor's desk.
Father Branston chuckled and shook his head at the Mage’s behavior, but Shon could appreciate the man getting to the point. Sir Jone cleared his throat and scrawled two more words on the board. The first inside the arcane circle read ‘Sorcerers.’ The second in the intersecting area read ‘Druids.’ To Shon’s annoyance, however, the Paladin didn’t explain his additions; instead, he tapped the divine circle and turned back to the class to start his lecture.
“Divine magic is granted by the gods to Clerics and Paladins who act as the voice and arm of their god on the material plane. Not everyone is physically capable of channeling divine magic, which is why at maturity, citizens are given the opportunity to take the 'DCT' or the 'Divine Compatibility Test.' Only if they pass are they able to pursue a calling as a Cleric of their patron or Paladin of one of the knight orders.”
Shon took a long deep breath at that, letting it out slowly and as quietly as he could, trying to relieve sudden nerves. No matter what the adults said, if he couldn’t pass the Divine Test, he wouldn't be a Paladin. He wanted to ask if there was a way to increase your odds, but Sir Jone continued the lecture past the subject of the test,
“Those who pass are given rigorous training by their chosen order, and after five years of hard work, they present themselves to their god. If they are able to contain the god’s blessing, they are granted a piece of the divine woven by the god directly to their soul. Clerics and Paladins have their god with and within them always. We are guided by their gentle nudges and constant love.”
Shon looked down at his notes. He always felt alone… Even when he was surrounded by the other children of the Church, he felt isolated. Only Gaven spoke to him regularly, and no one was comfortable touching him. What would it be like? To have someone with him and within him… there to listen when he did want to talk, but just as happy to sit in silence when he didn’t?
“It's our life and energy that focuses the god’s magic to heal the wounded and fight the enemies of man. The more we commune with our god, the more connected we become to the divine spark in our souls, the more it grows, granting us greater power and understanding. Lower-ranking priests might only be able to create magical light, but practiced Clerics and Paladins can heal even severe injuries and infuse our weapons with divine might.”
Shon had seen and experienced such advanced spells, but was he really capable of performing them himself? Would he ever be able to train enough to be worthy of the attention of a god?
Sir Jone passed the chalk to Father Branston, but Shon wasn’t paying attention as the Cleric began to lecture on the ten different gods and the subtle differences in their divine magic. Shon only cared about one god, and what he might do to be the best warrior he could be in Hengist's name. It was something he wanted more than the following week's worth of meals. More than any other future he could imagine for himself. Shon realized in that moment that it wasn’t just a flight of fancy that he might be a Paladin. He was going to be a Paladin, and he only had six years to figure out how to make sure he was worthy enough to even try.
“She is her magic. It is an insult to all our efforts to keep her power sealed.” Archmage Morndancer’s voice seeped through the heavy wood of Her door, but his words made no sense to Her.
“But what if she can’t control it? It took us months to recruit new apprentices before she was sealed. We should just tattoo her and…”
“NO!” She flinched at the Archmage’s shouted retort, “What part of my statement did you not understand? If you can not work past your foolish prejudices, I will have you transferred, Shaloon. Do you understand me?” She tilted Her head curiously at Her door. She'd thought that Archmage Morndancer and Archmage Shaloon were equals due to their shared title. Had She been wrong all these years?
Her lock clicked just as Archmage Shaloon muttered a grudging, “Yes, Archmage…” and when the door opened, it revealed only Archmage Morndancer, the rustle of Shaloon's robes signaling her exit up the stairs.
“Firewyrm,” Morndancer never gave Her a nickname like the journeymen did, addressing Her by title, he greeted,“tell me, do you know your name?”
She sighed, sliding to the edge of Her bed and staring at Her feet. The question was a ritual at this point. She answered the same way as always, “No Archmage, not yet.”
He merely nodded, “Soon. Your kind always know your own names…” Her kind… but what was Her kind? She brushed the scarlet scales on Her cheek, sighing again. It wasn’t worth arguing about. She had tried to invent names in the past, but they always seemed to know She was making them up and never approved. “Stand up, Firewyrm; I have a gift for you.”
She jumped to Her feet but hadn’t managed to stutter out Her excited question before seeing the golden collar in the Archmage's hand. Her words caught in Her throat, and She gripped the gold and ruby studded collar already around Her neck before dropping her arms and swallowing. He hadn’t missed the gesture though, and stepped into Her room, closing the distance between them.
“I think you will prefer this one,” he spoke confidently, but She still stiffened as he wrapped the solid gold around Her neck, just above Her existing collar. She could feel the magic tingle on Her skin as he chanted under his breath, the gold fusing without a seam. Nothing happened and She exhaled, but the chanting continued as the Archmage’s fingers trailed down to the ruby collar before it split, and he removed it.
A wash of heat filled Her from Her neck to the tips of Her fingers and toes and to the top of Her head. Her skin tingled and Her hair to stood on end as She gasped, feeling more awake and energized than she could ever remember before. She wrapped shaking hands around Herself, clenching Her arms tight and stepping away from the Archmage as he took his own step back. The candles in their wall-mounted holders flared, their flame nearly reaching the stone ceiling. She could feel them dance just out of view as Her breath came in short gasps.
“Control it, Firewyrm, or I will have to put the sealing collar back on,” Morndancer ordered. But She could finally feel. If She'd ever known it before, then She'd forgotten what it was like to have life and energy flowing through Her.
Fingers snapped, the power vanished, and She couldn’t breathe. She panicked, trying to cough but unable to find air. “Control it, Firewyrm. Your magic is an extension of yourself, your center, like your arms and legs from your torso. And like your arms and legs, you can control it. Pull it in and hold it.” Morndancer snapped again, the collar loosened, and She struggled to do as he said as She gasped for air. Pulling the energy into Her skin with her will.
She must have succeeded because She was blinking back the stars flashing behind her eyes when the Archmage said, “Good. Now come with me.” before he turned and left Her room. She stumbled after him as he led Her to the first lab down the hall, where She found a simple table with a chair on either side and a large book open in the middle. To either side of the book were unlit candles. He waved his hand towards them, ordering, “Light them. Do not burn my book.”
She narrowed Her eyes at the nearest wick and focused. It burst into flame that danced wildly and melted the wax immediately. With a worried whimper, She pulled Her power back again. The candle flickered and nearly died before it caught of its own volition. Moving closer to the table, She decided to reach for the second candle, touching the wick with her fingers and lighting it much more carefully.
The Archmage didn’t comment. Instead, he took his seat and ordered, “Sit.” She scrambled into the chair, clenching Her hands in Her lap. Her heart pounded in Her chest, She was sure he was going to return the ruby studded collar, seal Her magic for Her loss of control. He did nothing to assuage Her worry and didn’t even address it as he ran his hand over the book, saying, “There are three planes of existence, and each has their own magic-”
She choked at the quick change of topic, and he finally looked up with just his eyes, “I am trying to explain your power. Do not interrupt me.” She rushed to nod, but he was already looking down again, tracing his fingers over three concentric circles before tapping the middle, “Divine magic originates from the heavenly planes and the gods who reside there. But the material plane, this plane, has its own magic, arcane magic.” he turned the page. She swallowed Her question about the third plane, instead, focusing on the image of five symbols inscribed in another circle on the new page.
“Arcane magic is the manifestation of the five primal elements native to this plane: fire, water, earth, air, and ice. Everything in the world has an element or mix of elements,” reaching out he pinched the wick of one of the candles, snuffing out the fire and casting half the room in darkness as he continued, “every physical object, or material component...” he reached into a pocket of his robes and pulled out a pinch of something She couldn’t see but could definitely smell. Like rotten eggs, “every line, angle, or gesture...” with his free hand, he formed some complex twist and fold of his fingers, “every symbol drawn, syllable, note, or tone spoken…” he stopped his lecture for only a moment to chant words she couldn’t understand as he sprinkled the foul-smelling substance over the candle before continuing as though uninterrupted, “represents an element of magic. A Mage studies these elements, masters and manipulates them, and then empowers them with their energy to create change…” with one last whispered word the candle flared to life again, with no flickering as her own clumsy attempt had caused.
“Theoretically, anyone can cast arcane magic in this way. In practice, very few have the intelligence or mental fortitude required to study the intricacies of the art. A Mage will spend years studying theory and formulas before ever casting their first simple spell.”
“But-” She started then stopped when Morndancer raised his hand, afraid he was about to snap his fingers and choke Her again.
“You want to ask about your own power to light the candles?” he prompted kindly. She nodded again, unsure of this shift in his personality. “You are a…” he hesitated, then smiled, “a sorcerer. You were born with elemental magic as part of your very being. Fire, to be exact. Sorcerers are very rare but not unheard of. They embody their element and can manipulate it with their willpower. You are fire, Firewyrm, and you can control this power as easily as you control your limbs. With practice.” he actually chuckled, and Her eyes widened at the alien sound, “But just like an infant trying to walk, your control isn’t as inherent as the power itself. I have given you this new collar so you can practice without burning anything of value.” he held up a finger as if to stall a question, though She was still too afraid to ask any of the dozens spinning in Her mind, “But if you cannot control it enough at this point I will have to seal it again, perhaps permanently. Do you understand, Firewyrm?”
She nodded fervently and added for good measure, “Yes, Archmage.” She didn’t want her magic taken again. She didn’t want to feel numb, smothered, and empty ever again. She would master Her fire and prove Herself to Her caretakers. Perhaps if She could do that, they might even allow Her outside again.
It wasn’t often the children were taken out of the Church for lessons. Only the oldest, nearing maturity, were regularly brought into the city proper to visit the varying guilds in the hopes of finding a profession once they came of age. As such, the gaggle of young kids, ranging from age seven to nine, were almost too excited to properly herd through the streets of Smilnda. They had started out in two orderly lines, but hadn’t so much as left the Church courtyard before they were either bunching up with their friends or wandering off only to be ushered back to the group by flustered nursemaids and priests.
Shon found their antics confusing. It wasn’t like the children weren’t allowed outside the Church. They could run the streets as much as any other child of the city in their free time. Yet, for some reason, the fact that they were being taken as a group as part of their lessons had his fellow classmates acting like overly excited idiots.
He walked in the back, only the Abbot behind him, making sure no one was left behind. The young boy glanced over his shoulder at the head of the Church, curious why he would choose to join them on this little venture. Father Branston smiled, and Shon looked quickly forward again. Only to stop dead in his tracks, eyes wide in awe.
Shon had to lean back to see all of the dome of the Grand Chapel high above. Desperately he patted his shirt and pants as if he expected to find his journal hidden somewhere there. But they'd been instructed to leave their belongings. So Shon was forced to merely study the structure as best he could in the hope of remembering enough for after.
The dome consisted of twelve pieces that looked like flower petals waiting to bloom. Each one was stained glass, too far away for Shon to make out the fine details of the designs. He found himself wanting to climb the pillared walls to get a closer look, only to be distracted by those walls and pillars as well. Two open doors took up the width of the two closest of the dome pieces at the ground level, but to either side of them, the pillars and walls were carved with depictions of men, women, and beasts from legends and lore.
On the side left of the doors was the carved relief of a woman in ancient but obviously fine clothing, carrying a small bag in one hand and a scale in the other. Beside her, Shon could make out the side of man around the curve of the building, holding a hammer and working hard at an anvil. A merchant and craftsman of Saint Tzibus. On the right side of the doors was another relief of a man in long stone robes carved with constellations, holding a book in one hand and a staff in the other. A Mage of Saint Bede.
A large hand landed gently on his head, and Shon flinched away at the same time that the Abbot pulled his hand back. Father Branston looked down at his fingers then quickly placed his hands behind his back, obviously trying to smile warmly down at Shon, “Don’t worry, m'boy, I’m sure you'll find plenty of opportunities to return. No need to memorize everything in a day.” Shon could only nod, looking away. He tried not to glance at the older man's hands. Had he pulled back because he felt the same cold that bothered everyone else, or because Shon had flinched? In the end, it didn’t matter. No one liked touching him for long.
Shon hurried away from Father Branston to follow the other children and their caretakers into the Grand Chapel. The students all huddled in the middle, turning in circles to try and see everything, from the altars in their ten niches, to the stained glass roof that sent light of countless colors to dance across their awed faces.
The Abbot -still by the exit- made a sweeping gesture with both arms to take in the wonder of the single-roomed Chapel, “Welcome to the Grand Chapel, children! You have already learned about the gods that are all honored here as equals.” he moved around the outside of the walls starting to the right of the doors and stopping at each altar to bow as he went.
“Saint Tzibus, patron to merchants and crafters. Saint Domhnall, patron of Bards and Rogues.” he chuckled but still bowed his head to the altar of Saint Domhnall before continuing on, “Hengist of noble knights, valiant defense, and keeper of justice. Soleil, of the sun, mercy, life, and healing.” he took a long while to pray at his own patron god’s altar before moving on, “Saint Giorgos, keeper of law and order, slayer of evil and uniter of mankind. Cathbad, of nature and the wildlands, animals, plants, and the earth itself. Lune, of the moon, mystery, and secrets. Horsa…” he paused again in front of Horsa’s dark altar and sighed, “... of powerful knights and the iron fist of order.” he moved on after only a brief -though still respectful- bow, “Saint Bjarki, patron of brave warriors, gladiators, and berserkers. And Saint Bede, patron of the arcane arts, knowledge, and Mages.”
Completing his circle of the Grand Chapel, Father Branston smiled down at the children once more, “Each god holds their own virtues and values. You are not required to agree with all of them,” his eyes flickered towards Horsa’s altar again but only for a moment, “look into your own hearts to see what you truly hold dear, there you will find the god of your soul and your true patron. It is a personal and private exercise, and you will not be expected to share your findings. Still, you should know that you are not alone!” he swept his arms out again to encompass the room, “The gods that created us, nurture us, and hold us dear are all around. They will be your guides to leading your best, most fulfilling life. Some of you may even feel called to serve your god as a priest, priestess, even a Cleric, or Paladin.” His eyes landed on Shon and the boy glanced towards the altar of Hengist.
The children were permitted to walk around the Grand Chapel but were instructed not to touch anything. Shon made to step towards Hengist’s altar but hesitated and instead turned around to the other side of the Chapel towards Horsa’s niche.
As far away from his nemesis Hengist as it was possible to be, Horsa’s altar was carved of black stone with red accents. The god himself was depicted above the stone altar, a handsome man in spiked platemail, wielding a wicked-looking flail dangling from a long chain. Shon nose crinkled in disgust at the sight. Horsa was the god of tyranny. He used his strength to subjugate the weak and maintain order in those five of the ten provinces he ruled. Like Hengist and Saint Giorgos, he abhorred chaos and lawlessness, but that was the only thing Shon could ever agree with the god on. He turned his back on the altar and walked towards Hengist.
The Temple of Hengist ruled this province, Clearhelm, and his teachings of order, justice, and right action fit most closely with Shon’s personal world view. His Paladin knights were self-sacrificing and noble, their laws and punishments just. To Hengist, all were innocent until proven guilty. To Horsa, they were all guilty until proven innocent.
Shon looked up at Hengist's raised sword -white stone with blue accents- and felt a strange pulling in his chest. An emptiness that longed to be filled. As they'd studied the gods' values and teachings, Shon had found that each of Hengist’s rang so true that he thought they should've been obvious to anyone who just listened.
Glancing towards Soleil's altar to his right, he thought about the sun god’s mercy and healing but shook his head. Soleil would heal the injured and bring life-giving light to the land but did very little in the way of preventing those injuries. He looked towards the altars of Saint Domhnall and Saint Tzibus to his left, gods of art, beauty, and creation, but shook his head again. The Saint gods were merely ascended mortals, humans that had become gods through the greatness of their deeds in helping Saint Giorgos destroy the ancient evil that had plagued mankind since the dawn of time. He turned further to his right, to the altar of Saint Giorgos, the dragon slayer, and felt himself shudder. No. Shon returned his blue eyes to those of the statue of Hengist, a knight of battle and nobility.
The god of his heart.
--- Table of Contents ---
All comments are both welcome and wanted! Thank you to anyone who made it far enough to read this.
submitted by NamelessNanashi to redditserials [link] [comments]

2023.05.22 08:30 FatDragon [Excalibur][Galahad] Chapter 5

Galahad: 1066, England, East of York, 300 years later.
The thick scent of blood held fast to Galahad, as if the river beside where he lay was a river of red, carrying the corpses of the slain. Perhaps the souls of the Vikings travelled to Valhalla by water, he mused. The river flowed peacefully past the abandoned Viking camp he was in, his horse grazing outside for much needed rest. But sleep would not take Galahad, and he couldn’t decide if it was a mercy to be spared his dreams, or punishment to be left with his waking thoughts.
His horse began neighing loudly, the noise soon joined by growing voices. Yawning, Galahad grabbed an apple - the Vikings had left food but sadly no mead - and went to investigate.
“You there! Halt!” demanded a young and lordly-looking Saxon, waving a sword atop a fine stallion as he trotted to a halt. His armour was ornate, as was his blade, and both were as clean as the day they had left the forge. He was flanked by fifteen or so men, and by appearances, none of them had taken part in yesterday's battle. Cowards looking for easy-pickings amongst the fleeing, no doubt. These were exactly the types Galahad had hoped to avoid in stopping here. He took a bite of the apple, stared, and waited.
“He’s a Saxon, my lord, and a fine warrior at that,” said a white-bearded man to the Lord’s right as the silence stretched. So, someone had been watching at least. The wise-man whispered something else in his Lord’s ear, out of earshot for most men.
"Not one to be meddled with, my Lord. At all." The Lordling scowled, but nodded after the old man's eyes pleaded. Not entirely without sense, it seemed.
Galahad pointed lazily to his grazing stead,”Some of us had a rather busy day yesterday, and are in need of rest. Well, my horse at least. ” He took another bite as he held his gaze steady on the man.
The Lordling scoffed. “Well, I advise you to take caution - you could pass as one of those savages you know.”
Galahad looked down at his dented armour, torn underclothes, and blood stained beard, and gave a shrug. He probably could.
“My Lord!” shouted one of his men. There was movement at the edge of the river, one or two people darting between the reeds, no doubt searching for the small boat hidden along the bank.
“Men! Bring them to me! Alive!”
Galahad took a seat on a stump as several men took chase. The Lordling licked his lips, his chubby hand gripping his sword as he excitedly whispered to old whitebeard.It didn’t take long before his men returned, prey in tow. It was a young Viking warrior, his dark hair tied back in a ponytail with sides shaved, blue lines covering his face in a cross, some parts blurred by blood from a fresh wound. Next to him was a woman, dressed in shabby robes, her face concealed by a heavy hood. Not exactly a fine catch, but the Lordling didn’t care, his eyes wide with something more than just glee.
“On their knees!” he called, jumping down from his horse. The Viking man fell forward as he struggled, landing face first in mud, hands bound behind his back. The woman knelt softly, hardly moving. Viking women were usually as fierce as the men, but this one seemed different.
“The Allfather will welcome me into Valhalla, and our gods will wreak revenge on your lands!” cried the Viking man.
“I don’t understand your gibberish, savage.” The Lord replied as he stalked in front of them. Of course he didn’t, he was barely out of his mother’s womb. But after a time, languages all seemed the same, and this one Galahad knew well.
“There's no going to Valhalla without a weapon in your hand, and I hear it's quite full these days.”
The prisoner’s head shot up, a look of utter shock and confusion on his face at Galahad’s words. And then he smiled. “You speak Norse like my grandfather!”
Well, it had been an age ago. So far buried in memory that it hardly seemed real. The time he had spent there had been his last as a mortal man. Galahad threw the core of the apple and walked over to the prisoner, old white-beard gesturing to his Lord not to interfere.
“What's your name?” Galahad asked the young Viking.
“Ake Leiffson”
“And this?” Galahad pointed to the woman next to him, her head down as she quietly sobbed.
“Freda,” Ake said, “my sister.” Galahad lifted her head and pulled back her hood.
Time stood still then, as much as it could for a man it couldn’t touch. Blue eyes peered up and into his own, as clear as the sky and as large as the moon. Auburn hair flowed around her as the cold breeze took it, as deep as all the colours of Autumn and as warm as Summer. Such beauty Galahad had never before seen, let alone felt. Enough to melt any heart. And his heart felt like it too, had stopped, as if this woman was the only thing in the world who could end his pitiful existence, with merely a look. And then he remembered. Three hundred years. A woman. Could it be?
“Freda,” he barely breathed the name, his voice a croak. For her he would have waited an eternity.
“Now then, I do think that is enough,” said the Lordling, motioning to his men. "See that the woman is tended to, such beauty should not be wasted."
A hand grabbed Galahad by the shoulder. He snapped the arm it belonged to with barely a thought, the man falling with a gasp. Still his gaze held Freda’s, as Ake began shouting, joining the voices around them.
“Help us, please.” Freda whispered, lifting a hand toward Galahad. She was all he could hear. His voice came like that of a stranger, soft and caring, echoing a man Galahad had long thought gone.
"Fair maiden, for you I would do anything."
In the blink of an eye, the soldier behind Freda fell as his face was crushed by Galahad’s fist, the leg of the man next to him breaking at the knee by a powerful stamp. Galahad picked up the fallen man's sword and tossed it to Ake, who frantically began rubbing his bindings against it.
“I’m sorry, my lord." Galahad said as he walked between Freda and the remaining men. The Lordling stood frozen, his eyes darting around in shock, his men waiting for an order that wouldn't come. Old white beard was already riding away, hard. “But none of you will be leaving here alive.”
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2023.05.22 03:09 LegendL0RE [OC] [DM RESOURCES] A Dungeon Master's Breakdown of Bane the Black Hand, God of Tyranny in the Forgotten Realms, covering lore, worldbuilding, magic items, character concepts etc.

Lore & History Appearing way back amongst the other classic gods in 1st Edition, Bane is the Faerunian god of ambition, control, tyranny, and conquest, with his primary epitaphs being the Black Hand, the Strife Emperor, and the Lord of Darkness. In 5th Edition, Bane primarily holds the domains of Order and War, carries an alignment of Lawful Evil, and is primarily worshiped by warmongers, conquerors, and those with ambitions towards power and authority through strength. Bane’s favored animals include bats, corpse-scavenging vultures, black cats, especially those with green eyes, and black dogs, while on the flip side, his favored monsters include devils, beholders and death tyrants, chromatic black and green dragons, nagas, shadow mastiffs, and hellhounds. Bane’s favored minerals are black sapphires to show approval, powdered red carnelian to show disapproval, as well as hematite, emeralds, and bloodstone. Bane’s holy colors are black, green, and red, which are often used to replace the background for the heraldry of the nations and places he conquers. Bane’s holy symbols are either a simple black handprint, a pair of eyes surrounded by green or red flames, or a flail that is formed completely of chains. This varies depending on if the culture views him from a place of pure strength, tactical superiority, or tyrannical authority and control respectively. And lastly, Bane was one of the few gods who did not have a designated divine weapon, choosing instead to wield his own spiked gauntleted hand. Now I don’t know about you, but it’s gotta take a pretty badass god to choose the pimp hand as his holy weapon. Appearance In terms of appearance, Bane has been known to take on a couple of different forms. The two most common are a hulking shirtless male humanoid with small horns, black skin, and gauntleted hands with talon-like fingers, and the other is that of a huge, ogre-like warrior in heavy black plate covered in spikes, eyes glowing as the heads of his enemies dangle from his belt. Most depictions of Bane have him emulating the race that worships him, possibly in the belief that anyone or anything can embody his ideals. I’m also not including K-Pop Idol Bane from the Dungeons and Dragons Magic Card series, because by god do I hate it. For my own personal depiction of Bane, I prefer the visage of a Spartan-like warrior wielding spear, sword, and shield, and I trade in the heads on a belt for a cloak made from the tanned, moaning faces of those he has killed in his conquest, possibly wearing other trophies like a dragons’ head pauldron, or a helmet made out of demon horns. He strikes me as a bit of a trophy taker at times, but wouldn’t just let the components from these legendary kills just sit on a wall; why not make weapons and armor out of them to become stronger?
Personality In terms of personality, Bane’s about as much as what you would expect from a warmonger: speaking in absolutes, commanding with utmost respect, fear, and authority from his underlings, and carrying an overall intimidating presence. Despite this, Bane has some inclination towards teamwork and playing on the strengths of others to cover his weaknesses, otherwise he and the Dead Three never would have succeeded in cutting their way to reach Jergal. However, this is still a means to an end, with Bane swiftly cutting off from them after his goals were achieved. All this is to say that Bane is focused on strength, control, and is out to win, with the belief that the strong not only have the right, but the duty to govern over the weak, as the weak will lead those below them to inevitable ruin. Whereas someone like Asmodeus is more about deception, cunning, and control through bureaucracy and deals, Bane seeks conquest through military might, effectiveness, and through the use of deadly force if needed. In comparison to someone like Tempus or the Red Knight, Bane does not keep to the limiting concepts of honor or rules of engagement. Whatever is most effective and gets the most results is good enough for him, even if it requires deceit or refusal to meet someone on the same playing field. One on one duels and holding mercy for the wounded and captured are anathema to his tenets, as compassion is a weakness he cannot afford in his quest for control.
Abilities In terms of Bane’s abilities, his most obvious one is that he is a cunning and dangerous warrior and tactician, unrestricted by morals or concerns for the innocents who will inevitably suffer in war. They are collateral after all. Bane could also use and create any weapon at will for use on the battlefield, and history has shown that Bane as a god has died before, only to eventually emerge in a spectacular resurrection. Beyond that, Bane hasn’t been known to have performed any other great divine act or infused any of his followers with any special powers beyond the norm, keeping a distant watch over his faithful on the promise that they will rise and earn their way through their own actions and strength. However, there are stories of times where Bane would possess an individual in order to confront say a deity who decided to intervene in his course of action, this possessed person taking on a twisted, spiked form with black leathery skin and talon-like claws. Furthermore, Bane would gain the natural powers of the possessed for his own use and also carried distinct immunity to psionic control, one of the few things that could be used to bypass possession or other forms of magical influence.
Allies & Foes In terms of Bane’s relationship with other gods and entities, as I had previously said, Bane was one of the few dark gods who was willing to form alliances and work with others, even those who he would seem vehemently opposed to. This is most apparent in his alliance with the Dead Three, a group of three legendary villains who tore through all manner of realms and extraplanar creatures to make their way to Jergal, god of death, from whom they demanded pieces of his power. The other two members: Bhaal and Myrkul, would become gods in their own right alongside Bane in a fateful game of knucklebones, and while they each initially took domains in order to try and spite and one up each other, they ended up creating a loop where they permanently must interact and work with one another in the system of transference from life to death. As such, the three keep a tense but forcibly amicable relationship to one another, which I see as akin to powers engaged in a cold war, their agents working behind the scenes to try and transfer power to their respective patrons. Other gods who Bane aligned through both fear and mutual interest included Loviatar, Talona, and Mask, as well as the dark dwarven god Abbathor, the goblinoid gods Maglubiyet and Hruggek, and the most monstrous deities Tiamat and Malar. Then there’s also the seldom mentioned half-demon son of Bane named Iyachtu Xvim, who served as a lesser deity of the same portfolio as Bane before the god used his body to resurrect himself after being slain by Torm. In terms of enemies, Bane’s greatest foes included gods like Melora, who stood against his war engines’ destruction of nature, Mystra, whose command over magic he coveted for his own goals, and the good-aligned Triad of Torm, Tyr, of Ilmater, the first of which was responsible for Bane’s first godly death. Bane was also known to have frequent conflict with the god Cyric due to the latter’s penchant for killing Bane’s followers and stealing the domains and worshipers from other gods. Amaunator, Oghma and Helm were also thought to be amongst his distinct foes.
Clergy & Worship The Church of Bane has ebbed and flowed in terms of size and power, due to both the death of its god at one time, and its suffering of purges by the hand of the opposing Church of Cyric. Despite the ups and downs however, the Church of Bane has always been dedicated to its cause and unified in its order, holding a strict hierarchy where the strong rule and the weak serve. Higher ups in the church were shown respect by their subjects via kissing of their rings, hands, and even feet depending on how distant they were rank-wise, The High Imperceptor was the most powerful priest in the church’s hierarchy, having earned this position through constant service and devotion to the Black Lord. Below him would be other ranks such as the Vigilators, Dreadmasters, Vigilants, Blackfangs, the Watchful, and finally Slaves, who were the new-blood acolytes who just joined and had to prove their worth. Worshipers of Bane did not hide their devotion unless it was done in the service of bettering their god’s reach or gaining an advantage in war time, and were often seen wearing black and red while always ensuring they were armed with at least one weapon. Warriors wore spiked armor and full plate while mages wore black, red, and sometimes green robes, the more zealous of which would enchant them to give off the visage of stars or flowing blood within their details. In a more subtle manner, worshipers of Bane would wear a simple black gauntlet on one hand in place of all of the fanfare. Worshipers of Bane were also known for their penchant for facial tattoos, which often gave themselves away when discovered by the more religiously educated. Furthermore, Banites as they were called would often carry special “Baneswords”, which were specially made +1 longswords that dealt additional damage to creatures of chaotic alignment.
Clerical Orders In terms of canon distinct Cleric Orders of Bane that exist, there are two. The first would be commonly known as the Zhentarim, which is more of a mercenary company and criminal organization than an actual divine order, originally being formed by the archwizard Manshoon and comprising a great deal of Bane worshipers. They mostly deal in the trading of illicit goods and building of mercantile properties, recruiting many monstrous races and outright monsters to protect and serve in their army’s ranks. This is a monstrous glossing over of the organization as a whole, which deserves its own video, and I highly recommend checking it out as a great source of villains and campaign plots. Then there are the Knights of the Gauntlet, an order of Bane worshiping crusaders known for having Helmed Horrors serve in their ranks, either by creating the constructs themselves or discovering them in some ancient ruin. The Knights of the Gauntlet were most well known for use of extraplanar travel in their crusades, as well as being one of the only churches to maintain faith during both the time that Bane had died at Torm’s hand, and during the purging of Bane’s faithful by the church of Cyric. This speaks to both their devotion and their sheer survivability, with most of its members being made of recruited mercenaries, and they are also credited with the creation of one of Bane’s artifacts: The Scepter of the Tyrant’s eye, which we will cover later on in this video.
Rituals In terms of divine rituals that the church of Bane takes part in, most were conducted by higher up senior members of the clergy, but held little correlation to things like seasons, moon phases, or any other traditional events that most churches used to mark their devotion. As such there are no holidays or distinct times where the worship of Bane is “strongest” or “at its height”. Instead, these rituals were made with distinct purposes and conducted for specific reasons, such as sacrifices to ensure victory or the swearing of oaths of devotion to the cause of expanding Bane’s influence. This was often accompanied by the creation of a Black Altar, which was a plain stone block sometimes formed of obsidian that was then painted or draped in black, accompanied by either a floating stone sculpture of the Hand of Bane, or an empty throne that faced the space of the ritual. From there, services would include rhythmic chanting, drums, and sometimes ritualistic torture to either extract pain from the victim, or to expunge and dull one’s reaction to pain in order to better serve the Black Hand. Banite casters were also known to prey for their spells at midnight.
Artifacts In terms of canon artifacts of Bane that exist, here are a couple I was able to dig up. The Hand of Bane is a special artifact created by the Church as an instrument in order to resurrect him should he ever be killed, carved from a chunk of obsidian and studded with diamonds, its fingers being formed from sharp spikes of red garnet. While it is believed that this item once resided within the multiplanar city of Sigil, it is said to have since been destroyed by a priestess of Bane, either due to no longer having use of it, or in order to make sure his enemies could never use it against him.
Next, there is the Scepter of the Tyrant’s Eye, a +3 heavy mace created by one of Bane’s High Imperceptors, Teldorn Darkhope. Used as both a weapon and a badge of rank within the church, the scepter could trap the souls of those it killed, sap the strength of non-Banite creatures who tried to wield it, and most notably, grant the wielder immunity to all forms of Beholder eye rays. I think from this, we can gleam exactly why this scepter was made and what it can be used to fight against. The scepter could also be used to cast the following spells without requiring material components: Fly, True Strike, Hold Monster, Circle of Death.
Next is the Black Lord’s Cloak, an artifact that wasn’t created by the church, but was instead worn by Bane during his mortal life. Upon ascension, it was also infused with divine power and could forcibly constrict someone and absorb their blood before leaving them a desiccated husk. It’s an oddly specific power, but I imagine it does help to actually have your cape watch your back. Fourth, from the deep recesses of Issue 333 page 48 of Dragon Magazine, we have the Rod of Clenched Fists, which was a +2 light mace that was literally formed of four fists stacked on top of one another.
The rod could be used to cast the spell Bane at will, the spell Vampiric Touch three times a day, and the spell Dominate Person once per day, all using your own spell save DC. It was also priced at a hefty 425,000 gold, and required the wielder to be a worshiper of Bane, lest the spells on it be used against those who tried to use it and didn’t hold the proper faith. And finally, from the more modern iterations of the game, we have the Bloody End, an adamantine morningstar with a blade on the pommel and foot-long spikes at its head. This weapon could be found on the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount on page 278, as exemplifying it here might sadly get Pinketon Agents knocking at my door. Bane At The Table When running NPCs, cultures, militaries, or nations that worship Bane, make sure to take his favored colors, symbols, and monsters into account. Have soldiers walk with black gauntlets to mark their devotion, have defeated nations change their heraldry to back black, red, or green as their backgrounds to signify their defeat and fealty to their new rulers. Bane’s view of strength and strife can inspire those who struggle through life to push and persevere through the hardship, eventually becoming worthy of his attention. This can range from simple peasants working their hands to the bone on a harvest to survive the winter, to soldiers who are pushing through a great war in the name of their faction or kingdom. Bane has also had a strange affiliation with the orcish and goblinoid races, both in the base lore and in Critical Role’s most recent adaptation. This could emerge from the unfortunate fact that both goblins and orcs are portrayed as predominantly warmongering races, so let's add some new ancestries to the mix for some more diversity. High elf Bladesingers who master the dance of death in Bane’s honor, Halfling and Gnome warlords who have forsaken their hospitable ways in order to become stronger and defend their often oppressed people. There’s tons of interesting stories to be told of how the many different people of your world found their way to the worship of Bane the Black Hand. Likewise, when roleplaying Bane himself, I suggest showing him as larger than life whose mere presence commands respect. He is deadly and as a god of strife, has known the harshness of life and struggled since his days as a mortal and even now into his time as a god. He toils and works and pushes through all resistance to ensure that his will and the will of those who follow him is done, and as such Bane will speak matter of factly and in pure absolutes. He is not afraid of war and battle and his followers are more than willing to fight tooth and nail to the bitter end, and from this he exploits the fear that other gods have for their faithful and their worship, as the loss of worshipers means a loss of power. Sometimes that threat is enough to get an enemy to back down, but other times, either by arrogance or a genuine thought that they can win against him, a war will be started with the Black Hand, and Bane will be allowed to unleash his full brutality. This refusal to compromise and lack of mercy for his enemies is what generates such fear of Bane and his ilk. Someone like Asmodeus will see the use in anything and everything, Vecna will sit on a throne of the defeated out of arrogance, but Bane will just gut them and keep on walking without a second thought, because to him, you’re only useful if you’re strong and your loyal, and the second one of those waivers, you’re gone. Aligned Classes Artificers Artificers fit Bane well in the conceptualizing and development of war engines and setting the precedent for modern warfare. The things Artificers created can be incredibly useful on the battlefield, and great big guns or sets of living armor are more than enough to intimidate a nation to bend the knee. A Battle Smith with a Helmed Horror-like steel defender at its side could make for a remarkable visage. Barbarians Due to the Barbarian’s focus on instinct over discipline, their role within the ranks of Bane would have to be carefully tended to. Berserkers and Battleragers can rely on their sheer physical might and spiked armor, Ancestral Guardian Barbarians can conjure and lead spectral warriors to fight even beyond death, and Zealot Barbarians can channel his divine power directly whilst in the midst of combat. Bards When it comes to Bards, heroic stories and fluttery songs don’t benefit Bane much, but the performance of war ballads and use of propaganda can motivate armies to overcome all manner of overwhelming odds. Those of the colleges of Swords and Valor can do battle right alongside their warrior brethren, whilst Bards from the colleges of Whispers and Eloquence can influence those on the enemy side to surrender or even betray their own in the hopes of holding higher rank in Bane’s new order. Clerics For Clerics, 5th Edition has Bane holding the domains of Order and War, but I would also include those of Arcana, Death, Forge, Grave, Knowledge, and Twilight under his belt as well. His coveting of Mystras’ domain of magic can reflect in the creation of his own Arcana clerics, Death, Twilight, Grave, Order, and War Clerics can rend the battlefield asunder or prevent their own forces from perishing, and Knowledge Clerics can provide divinely-powered tactics, intelligence, and approaches to combat when it comes to leading his forces. Druids Druids would be one of the harder classes to match to Bane’s tenets, especially given his opposition to Melora, but that's not to say that all hope is lost for the hopeful Bane worshiping Druid player. The Circle of Spores views the cycle of life and death, birth and decay, and creation and destruction as an often overlooked part of the natural world, and could join Bane’s legions in order to help curve the balance via cleaving wild, overgrown nature through rot and blight, sort of like trimming branches and roots so they don’t grow and infest through the rest of the world. Then of course, there’s the Circle of Wildfire, whose innately destructive tendencies and healing capabilities can be immensely useful for Bane’s purposes, given the frequency of burning down cities during sacks and sieges. Fighters Almost all Fighters can find a place within the ranks of Bane’s legion, from Echo Knights serving as armies of one, Battlemasters and Champions cleaving through the battlefield on skill and discipline alone, and Arcane Archers, Rune Knights, and Eldritch Knights wielding destructive magic across the entire war front. Monks Monks, due to their frequent neutral stances and focus on the development of the self, may have a hard time aligning with Bane’s largely self-serving, tyrannical ideology, but those who believe that what the Black Hand is doing is right can mediate, study, and beholden themselves to discipline in his name. As such, Monks who follow the Way of Mercy can both heal their allies and harm their does, while those who follow the Ways of the Long Death, Open Hand, and Shadow can work as specialized martial and scouting forces, studying the weaknesses of the body in order to better target and exploit them in combat. Perhaps Bane’s monastic forces identify themselves by only wearing one piece of armor: the distinctive spiked gauntlet of the Black Hand. Paladins For Paladins, Oath of Conquest is the easiest one to select, but those who swear Oaths of Devotion to the cause, Oaths of the Crown of a Bane-worshiping nation, or Oaths of the Watchers to kill and subjugate extraplanar foes can also fit very well. And of course, Oathbreakers who forsake their old gods to follow the Black Hand can make great additions, along with their newly acquired legions of undead. Rangers Rangers aren’t as tied down to the world of nature as Druids are, offering them a degree of flexibility that allows them to find a place within Bane’s fold. They can map the wilderness and scout enemy territory in preparation for invasion, and all of the subclasses can add their own flavor into the mix, such as Beast Masters having black hunting dogs or Horizon Walkers working to battle distinctly extraplanar enemies like angels or fey. Furthermore, look at Bane’s favored animals for Ranger companion ideas such as bloodhounds or bat swarms for Swarmkeepers. Rogues Rogues of all sorts make for great infiltrators, spies, and scouts in wartime, each one able to find a use in the Black Hand’s efforts to bring the world to heel. Thieves can steal intel or magic items to turn the tide, Masterminds can work as tacticians and spymasters, Phantoms and Scouts can infiltrate to learn about enemy forces, and Arcane Tricksters and Assassins can do what they do best. Sorcerers In terms of Sorcerers, most of those with magical bloodlines would easily be conscripted into the service of Bane’s armies, but I find the Clockwork Soul strangely matches the Black Hand’s want for cosmic order under his own banner. Then of course there are Divine Soul sorcerers who carry direct ties to the gods, so one of either Lawful or Evil alignment can surely be of use, maybe even flavor their wings as being black like those of a carrion bird, or made completely out of metal in reference to Bane's armored visage. Warlocks When it comes to Warlocks, the Fiend’s penchant for resistance and destruction and the Celestial’s healing utility both are great for opposite roles within the Black Hand’s forces, but nothing for me fits more than Bane creating a sentient weapon for a Hexblade to carry into battle. Cutting down foes and resurrecting them as specters to fight for you sounds like exactly something Bane would approve of, allowing one to wield both magic and martial prowess as the ultimate soldier of tyranny. Wizards And finally, Despite Bane’s penchant for physical warfare and combat, almost all manner of wizards could match and serve under him from an intellectual and tactical perspective. One must be well-read and educated to even have hopes of being a wizard, and each school has something to offer that will give Bane’s forces strength and leverage on the path to conquest. Bane NPCS & Quests In regards to quest hooks aligned with Bane, most of them would be concerned with the simple expansion of Bane’s influence, which can be done in a variety of different ways. Your party can be tasked with taking over a stronghold for a Bane-focused faction or nation, warring on the frontlines as hired mercenaries, or they could acquire a specific magic item that would help the efforts of a current conflict. The simplicity of Bane’s ideology makes it easy to adopt a number of different quests to match, and a group can spend an entire campaign fighting in a war to expand the Black Hand’s territories to new horizons, or on the flipside, they can fight against these forces in the name of an opposing god or group. Melora-worshiping druids or the Emerald Enclave from Faerun make for great enemies to Bane’s forces, as well as other dark gods such as Asmodeus or the other members of the Dead Three. They would love to see him depowered in order to fill that spot on the chain Jergal had set them on. In regards to NPCs that are aligned with Bane, they can range from classic warmongering zealots to cunning tacticians and politicians who seek to grow their own personal power. It doesn’t have to always be about the whole, as people who worship Bane can be both noble and self-serving. In terms of monsters, Bane has no problem making deals with devils and other outsiders to fill his armies: Redcap shock troops, Death Knight generals, Fire Giant warsmiths, Gnoll berserkers, Deathpact Angels created by Bane or recruited from other faiths, Hobgoblin captains leading Goblin infantry while riding on Wargs and Nightmares, Dark Elf Oathbreakers who forsook Lolth’s ways of political intrigue in favor of Bane’s brute strength, the options are vast and almost infinite for the cool things you can do. In terms of his favored monsters, scouts and soldiers can have black dog, hellhound, or shadow mastiff companions, and armies forming alliances with Green and Black Dragons can be devastating for the enemy side. Perhaps one can wield the Scepter of the Tyrant’s Eye in order to bend a Beholder or Death Tyrant to their whims. Magic Items In terms of magic items, Bane isn’t exactly that picky. He’ll find the use in most things but often favors weapons, armor, staves of power, and other things that make his people physically stronger and more difficult to fight or resist. Aesthetically, black metal, obsidian and other black or red stones, emeralds, and carnelians are great to use for theming your magic items, especially if they’re taken off a Bane-worshiping foe they defeated or gifted by a Black Hand NPC: +1 to +3 Weapons +1 to +3 Armor and Shields Rakdos Riteknife (GGR p180) Ironfang (PotA p224) Armor of Invulnerability (DMG p152) Blackrazor (DMG p216) Sword of the Paruns (GGR p181) Staff of Striking (DMG p203) Staff of Power (DMG p202) Staff of Defense (LMoP p53) Piercer (AI p121) Mace of Terror (DMG p180) Wreath of the Prism (EGW p274) Bloodaxe (EGW p266) Blood Fury Tattoo (TCE p122) The Bloody End (EGW p278)
Homebrew Magic Item: The All-Gauntlet This +1 spiked gauntlet can be used as a martial weapon dealing piercing or bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 plus your Strength and Dexterity. Additionally, the gauntlet can be activated as a Bonus Action to be turned into any simple or martial melee weapon, while also turning from a +1 weapon to a +2 weapon. Make An Example: As a bonus action, you may choose one enemy within 60 feet that you can see to target with this ability. For 1 minute, all attacks you make against this enemy are made with a +1d6 bonus, and if you reduce the enemy to 0 HP during this time, this ability replenishes and you may choose a new target as a Reaction. If you do not have a new enemy to choose within range, or you do not use your Reaction to recast this ability, it ends and cannot be reused until your next Short Rest.
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2023.05.21 22:53 vehino Empress: Prologue.

Prologue: Blood in the field.
Royal Road
Although his days of crawling through dangerous dungeons and trudging along on misery-soaked fields of battle were long behind him, Grandmaster Dask Thomlin still maintained a trim figure which he kept in fighting form. Even though he was now considered little more than an aging bureaucrat by the younger generation of adventurers that he presided over at the national guild, Thomlin still appreciated the value of always being prepared for an unexpected fight.
He was also well acquainted with the sight of soldiers who knew their cause was doomed. Which was exactly the sight he beheld after he arrived at Fortress Starling. Everywhere he looked, the men exuded an aura of terror and hesitation. It seemed the only thing keeping many of them from outright fleeing for their lives was the self-discipline that had been drilled into them through years of rigorous training.
It was hardly the greatest welcome that Thomlin had ever enjoyed.
“I’m afraid we’ve nothing much to laugh about today, my friend,” General Aden Adler said by way of greeting, after Thomlin was escorted to his office. Unlike Thomlin, Adler had let age and neglect steal away his once formidable and handsome figure, leaving nothing behind but a fat old man whose blotched nose told the tale of his rather severe drinking problem.
“It’s a little early in the day for it, isn’t it, Aden?” Thomlin asked him after accepting a cup of wine poured from a nearly empty bottle. “I haven’t seen you in a state like this since the civil war. What’s got you so distressed?”
“The long march south has been indefinitely delayed,” Adler said in a quietly despairing voice. “First, we lost Fortress Rondale, and now Fortress Starling is in danger of being taken. If Oldstead succeeds in seizing it, our efforts will be set back by years. Many heads will roll for this failure, Thomlin, but mine will be the first.”
“Things have really gotten that bad?” Thomlin asked, aghast by what his friend described. “The news back home has been nothing but golden, detailing inevitable victory for the kingdom. Have you all been lying to us?”
“Of course, we’ve been lying to you,” Adler said miserably. He looked around the room with dazed, haunted eyes, and spoke defensively, as though he could see the disappointed and angry faces of the people back home, staring at him in disapproval. “What choice did we have? Even if we told the truth, no one would bloody well believe us.”
“Believe you about what?” Thomlin asked, now feeling concerned by his friend’s erratic behavior.
“About her! About that monstrous creature! The Empress, she dares to call herself! Everly Graff Cruor! Who would ever believe that the greatest standing army on the continent could be defeated by a single, deluded girl?”
"Everly who?" Thomlin asked. "I've never even heard of this person."
"You will. Once she finishes with us here, don't be surprised if Oldstead begins a long march north."
“Wait…wait a moment,” Thomlin said in disbelief. “Are you really telling me that this random woman you speak of is somehow stalemating the advance of his majesty’s army?”
“Ha!” barked the increasingly unsettled Adler. “When did I say anything about us being stalemated? I’m telling you flatly that she’s beating us back! We’re losing, Thomlin, losing. That rampaging bitch has been splashing the field with our blood.”
Thomlin was shocked to hear this. “How?”
“Believe it or not, she’s a necromancer. She calls the dead to her side, and they obey,” Adler said. “It’s like something out of a fairy tale. Do you know how hard it is to kill something that’s already dead? Bloody things are fast, too. Is that even fair? How can something be both dead and quick on its feet?”
“A necromancer? Aden, that’s impossible. That foul art died out a thousand years ago, even before the founding of the empire.”
“Oh, well, that’s good to hear then,” Adler said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. “The next time those monsters engage us, I’ll have a message sent to my men informing them that their opponents are impossible. I’m certain that’ll rally the lads to victory.”
“Even if it really is an issue of necromancy, then surely the temple could deal with her—”
“As if. She smashes their holy knights aside and scorns the prayers of their priests.”
“How can that be? The scriptures teach us that the undead have no power against the faithful,” Thomlin said, as he absentmindedly rubbed the temple chain he always wore for luck beneath his shirt.
“Is that so? Then tell her that. Go on, tell Everly. Let her know she’s doing it wrong! Perhaps she’ll bow her head in apology and allow us to kill her. Wouldn’t that be a blessing?”
“Necromancy is just a form of magic. Even without the blessings of the temple, can’t she be countered with a sufficiently skilled sword expert?”
“Thomlin, please,” Adler said, as he leaned against the back of his chair and closed his despairing eyes. “Everything you say is common sense, but this situation is anything but common. This woman possesses an immense command of magic like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. The land itself shatters at her approach. The dead serve her will. The sheer feeling of terror she exudes…”
“I personally commanded the defense of Fortress Rondale, Thomlin. I barely managed to escape before its walls fell. We didn’t have a mere sword expert among our ranks that day, we had a damn Sword King! One of the ten blades.”
Thomlin whistled at that. The rank of Sword King was a title that only a select few ever achieved. It was the very pinnacle of the swordman’s art. The requirements and training involved created a being that existed in the realm of the superhuman. The ten blades of Winstead were an elite brotherhood comprised of nothing but sword kings. They were considered the finest warriors in all the land, each one of them a veritable army unto themselves.
“Which one was it?” Thomlin asked.
“Willem, the Silent Storm,” Adler replied.
“And how did he fare?”
The Silent Storm has been silenced, forever.”
Thomlin was stunned into silence. Adler laughed bitterly at his friend’s reaction then said, “Just imagine how I felt seeing it in person.”
“I don’t understand,” Thomlin eventually said. “Sword Kings are the absolute masters of harada. No matter how powerful a mage’s magic, Willem still should have cut her down.”
Adler leaned over his desk towards Thomlin, his eyes wide, his grin brittle, and said, “The Empress is a sword king as well, Dask! And a more powerful one than poor Willem ever was.”
“Be serious, man!” Thomlin yelled, refusing to believe his ears. “Someone can potentially be a sword king, or they can be a mage, but it is impossible for them to be both! Such a being has never existed! Never!”
“HAHAHA!” laughed the maddened Adler. “And now you begin to see what I’ve been dealing with these past months. Have another drink, please,” he said, as he refilled their cups with a shaking hand.
“Adler…is what you say the truth?” Thomlin asked his old friend quietly.
“It is.”
“Why have you called for me?” Thomlin asked next, although he suspected he knew the answer.
“I wouldn’t make this request if the circumstances weren’t so urgent. Thomlin, please lend us the services of the Silver Lance.”
“Aden, you must be joking. If this situation is as dire as you claim, then how can you possibly expect me to send in Winstead’s only sky-ranked team? If anything, you should be sending for the other ten blades!”
“Thomlin, please, I dare not make that request. The ten blades are uncontrollable! Together they may very well destroy that woman but the mayhem they’ll unleash while doing it would be indescribable. Even the king can barely bring them to heel.”
“And the temple won’t send one of their paladins?”
“Another unacceptable risk! What if they sent Sarah?”
Thomlin had to admit that Adler made a good point. Sarah was not someone you could rely upon for restraint.
“Oh, for the love of…you’re really going to put this all on me, aren’t you?” Thomlin complained. “Adler, the Silver Lance is an irreplaceable treasure. Losing even one of them would mean the end of my career.”
“If this fort falls, we’ll lose our primary staging ground into Oldstead,” Adler said, rubbing tenderly at his temples as he spoke. “Everly has been tearing our forces apart left and right. For the last month, the standing order for my men has been to retreat as soon as she’s sighted. We just can’t hold our ground before her.”
“Do you really believe the Silver Lance could make a difference?” Thomlin asked.
“I don’t know,” Adler said bluntly. “But we must convince the men that we have a means of opposing that monster. We must help them to keep their hearts! They’re terrified of her! She springs forth from nowhere, slaughters them by the dozens and then saunters off the field to who knows where. Like it’s all a game, but she’s the only one who knows the rules.”
“Are you saying you can’t keep track of her?” Thomlin asked. “What’s the use of those damned spirit wielders if they can’t follow one girl?”
“Her defenses are impenetrable. Everything about her is a mystery to us. Thomlin, she may not even be human…”
“Adler, wait!” Thomlin said, now feeling a sudden burst of inspiration. “Have you tried paying her off? If she truly considers herself royalty, then she may be amenable to a few chests of gold. I haven’t met a royal yet who could resist a bribe or ten.”
“Of course, we tried bribing her! We're not amateurs. She demanded far too much.”
“How much is too much?” Thomlin wondered.
Adler described the amount which in turn caused Thomlin’s jaw to drop.
“Is she insane?”
"She said that amount was a pittance compared to the value of her honor. Then she called us paupers for trying to negotiate.”
They both sat in silence for nearly a minute and pondered the price of a madwoman’s honor.
“All right. I suppose I’ll have to rally the guild,” Thomlin decided.
Adler was elated to hear it. “My friend, thank you!”
“Don’t thank me yet. Sky-ranked adventurers are notoriously independent. Even if I put the call out, the lance won’t necessarily heed it. It’ll take a bit of time to get help mobilized—”
“General Adler! News from the field!” shouted a young officer who burst through the doors, now out of breath from racing to deliver his message.
“Well, don’t just stand there gawping for air, you little fool. Out with it!” Adler ordered him.
“Y-yes, sir! Uh, Sir Ian Kane has located the Empress, and has directly engaged her!”
“WHAT?!” Adler thundered. “Send orders telling him to fall back at once! NOW! NOW! Get out there and see it done! Tell the men to drag him back if they must! Send out our finest! No harm must come to the king’s nephew!”
“Ian Kane?” Thomlin asked. “The Dragon Slayer is here?”
“Yes, Sir Ian bloody Kane!” Adler snapped. “The King’s bastard nephew is running around the field playing at being a free knight! I gave him permission to assist with our efforts on his solemn word that he wouldn’t place himself in danger! Damn him for this! Who’s the one who’ll lose his head if that armored witch slays him? Gods, I need a drink!”
But Thomlin wasn’t so sure a drink was necessary.
Sir Ian Kane, although not a member of the ten swords, was considered one of the greatest swordsmen in the nation. He’d been the final pupil of the legendary mountain splitter himself, and it was said that his skill was equal to that of his teacher. Such was his ability that Thomlin had repeatedly made entreaties to the young man to join the adventurer’s guild.
I’ve seen him wield his blade, Thomlin thought as his heart surged with hope. Sir Ian’s talents are magnificent. He’s a rare, once in a generation genius! Perhaps he’s exactly what is needed to put this villainess down. Fight on, Sir Ian! Fight on and WIN! I’ll pray feverishly for your success.
Yes, this could work. Sir Ian was the Dragon Slayer! Necromancer or not, who could possibly withstand him?
“I’m disappointed, your highness,” taunted the Empress as her heavy blade collided with Sir Ian’s, nearly driving him to his knees through sheer brute force. “Where did all your ferocity from earlier go? Is this how you planned to avenge your lost love?”
Everly Graff Cruor’s distorted voice echoed with both malice and mockery as the two fighters continued their duel. It radiated supreme self-confidence and contempt for her opponent. A contempt that was likewise felt.
“Be silent!” Sir Ian Kane growled through his gritted teeth as he forced himself to remain standing. “I’m just getting started, murderer!”
“She put up a much better fight, you know,” Everly said casually. “Nothing spectacular, but I admired the precision of her swordplay. She clearly trained diligently. Not an ounce of natural ability in her entire body, but she surpassed her limitations through repetition and sheer desire for strength. Admirable, truly admirable. Not that it saved her from me...”
The so-called Empress’ expression could not be seen thanks to her intimidating ebon helmet. But beneath it, Ian could feel the witch’s lip curling at him. “And to avenge her, you came running at me as soon as I appeared, like a little hero. You saw the great villainess and knew that justice was on your side! But look at how things have turned out! This isn’t quite how you imagined your revenge would go, is it?”
“I said be silent!” Ian roared back in response, his anger surging throughout his body, lending him renewed strength. “I’ll hear no more of your poisonous words!”
“This world was seeped in poison long before my birth. A foul miasma known as weakness. I shall be its cure, but the taste will be bitter.”
“You’re a disease, Everly!” shouted Sir Ian. "A plague upon the land!"
“When I choose to be,” she said, tauntingly. “Does that upset you?”
As they crossed blades, Ian pushed forward into her guard. Then, with a sharp pivot as he stepped in, he drove his right elbow hard toward Everly’s face, hoping to stun her long enough to make room for a swing at her neck. But Everly responded by holding out her hand to absorb the hit. Then, she retaliated by thrusting her palm against Ian’s clavicle, putting a sharp stop to his momentum.
Her strength was monstrous. Although Sir Ian was taller and heavier, he was dwarfed by the unnatural power she wielded.
As he grunted in pain, Everly backhanded him with a gauntleted fist that snapped his head back and had him spitting blood. Before Sir Ian could respond, Everly crouched low and swept forcefully with the flat of her sword, catching both of Ian’s legs just beneath his knees to knock him painfully off his feet and onto his back.
“No—” the young knight began to say before a boot planted itself firmly on his chest, holding him in place. When he tried to retaliate, the tip of Everly sword was driven through his arm, causing him to scream with pain as he was forced to release his sword.
“Ah,” said Everly. “So much for the great dragon slayer. I wouldn’t wriggle around too much by the way. You might accidentally sever your radial artery. I’d feel terrible if you bled out before I could finish gloating.”
“I'm not afraid to die,” Sir Ian said fearlessly.
In response, the Empress gave her sword an ever so slight twist that made Sir Ian howled once more with pain.
“Is that so?” Everly asked. "The problem with talented people like you, Ian, is that you've managed to avoid experiencing pain for so long that you never learned to properly respect it. That ignorance has stunted your growth. I think a little suffering would season you nicely."
“Damn you!” Sir Ian raged. “This isn’t over, do you hear me? This isn’t nearly over! Mock me all you like, but until you put that sword through my heart, I’ll never stop coming for you! Not until you lie dead at my feet, traitor!”
“You’ve a long way to go until that blessed day, your highness.”
“I don’t care! I’ll stop you! I’ll find a way to stop you!”
"I forgot how adorable your pouting face was."
"To HELL with you!"
“Where was all this energy when we were together?” she wondered. "The sex could have been spicier."
"You're vulgar!"
"You used to love that about me."
"All I see now are my regrets!"
"Well, that's fair too."
“You can’t stand against the entire kingdom, Everly!"
The Empress paused for a moment as though she were carefully considering the prince’s words. Then she shrugged.
“Well, if I can’t stand against it, then I’ll be certain to trample all ov—"
An arrow flew across the field and bounced harmlessly off Everly’s helmet before landing at her feet. Everly seemed confused by its sudden appearance.
“—What are those extras doing? How dare they interrupt me?” she said. Then, an enormous fireball came hurtling at her. As it did, an aura of void-black darkness began emanating around her armored body and swallowed the destructive surge of energy before it could harm her.
“Idiocy. That would have killed you as well,” Everly murmured.
“I would gladly sacrifice my life to see you dead, witch!” Sir Ian boldly said.
“When will you grow up?” sighed Everly. Although her voice remained calm, her body language nakedly revealed her displeasure.
A force of thirty armored men on horseback came racing towards the two combatants, with their weapons drawn and spells prepared. Soon, they were encircled.
“Release Sir Ian and surrender yourself at once, traitor!” ordered their captain.
“You interrupted me, just now. You threw off my line and then you nearly killed my audience,” Everly said.
“I ordered you to surrender—” the captain began to repeat before Everly raised her empty hand and made a swift slashing motion with it.
All around the circle, the members of the rescue party fell ungracefully from their mounts.
“NO SCENE STEALING,” seethed the Empress.
She then turned her attention back to Sir Ian and gave an embarrassed little laugh. “I apologize for that. I know they were on your side, but they had no sense of timing. I can’t stand unnecessary improvisation. Mugging for screen time is such an ugly look. Now, where were we?”
“W-what?” asked Sir Ian.
“Before they interrupted us. You said…shoot. Eris? What did he say? Oh, good, thank you. Okay, you said, you can’t stand against the entire kingdom, Everly! Would you please repeat that?”
“…you can’t stand against the entire kingdom, Everly,” Ian quietly repeated.
The Empress paused for a moment as though she were carefully considering her opponent’s words. Then she shrugged.
“Well, if I can’t stand against it, then I’ll be certain to trample all over it,” she said.
After saying that, Everly gently removed her sword from Ian’s arm and stepped back, allowing the prince to rise to his unsteady feet.
“What…what are you doing?” asked the confused Sir Ian as he nursed his injury.
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m sparing your life,” replied Everly.
“FOR WHAT PURPOSE?” Sir Ian yelled, outraged by her nonchalance.
In response, Everly began to wildly laugh; she was so delighted by Sir Ian's reaction that she couldn't contain her joy at the sight of his anger.
Her mockery continued until her sides hurt and her breath began to wheeze. When she finished and regained her composure, she said:
“Isn’t it obvious? Personal amusement. Sadly though, I no longer have time to play with you.”
“This is no game, Everly!” Sir Ian said angrily.
“You only think that because you lack the perspective gained with power,” Everly replied. “Until you’ve overcome your limits and acquired true strength, you’ll always be a bystander. A victim has no voice in the chorus, Ian.”
“I am no one's victim!” he yelled.
"Then allow me to enlighten you."
Everly’s sword swept across Sir Ian's face in a vicious swipe that left a deep furrow carved into it. The young warrior collapsed to his knees and covered his wounded face with his hands, as blood seeped between his fingers.
On the ground before him lay his ruined left eye.
“If ignorance ever blinds you again, I'll come for the other one,” warned Everly.
She then left Sir Ian behind to continue his helpless sobbing, as she made her way to the gates of Fortress Starling.
As she walked, a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky in an unnatural red hue. From the ground beneath her feet, wretched figures dressed in the battered remains of armor and bearing rusted, ancient weaponry, began to rise and fall in step with her as she approached the fortress.
Soon, a legion of them had formed.
A silent army of the dead that awaited their master’s command.
“She’s here!” shrieked a panicked guard who stood watch on the wall. “The Empress is here!”
Everly smiled to herself, pleased that her title was now being recognized. They were finally starting to learn.
She then thrusted her sword towards the fortress. A terrible wave of motion and power erupted from her weapon and tore into the very substance of the earth itself. The ground didn’t just quake, it was sundered. Even the atmosphere seemed to shudder and crack. The air screamed as it was displaced by the forceful energies Everly unleashed.
The gates of Fortress Starling weren’t merely knocked down. They were torn away, ripped aside like thin sheets of paper, as were the walls they were connected to.
With one attack, half of the entire settlement had been smashed into ruinous collapse.
“Their defenses are broken, my children. Go forth and reap!” commanded the Empress.
With the order now given, Everly’s silent army of the dead ran through the breach to begin their bloody culling.
“Sound the order to retreat. Make no attempt to resist. Do what you must to survive,” Adler commanded his adjutant who hurriedly rushed from the room to fulfill his order, before turning back to Thomlin.
“Well, looks like I was too late in seeking your help, my friend. Get out of here, Dask. Remember what you saw today.”
“Adler, what are you saying?” Thomlin asked him. “There’s time enough for us both to escape!”
“No, I’m afraid there isn’t,” chided Adler. “I told you; the crown will not accept failure. I’d rather die honorably here with my lads than cringe before those unforgiving bastards at court. My neck’s so fat they might have to drop the guillotine twice to properly execute me. I’d rather not experience that.”
“I had a good run, Dask. Far better than I deserved. Although, I do wish sometimes that I hadn’t let ambition tempt me into joining the military. I think the most fun I ever had in my life were those days I spent with you and the others, adventuring. Too bad we can’t go back to that time, eh?”
“…Those were great days for me as well, Aden. The best,” Thomlin said softly.
“HA! Listen to us, reminiscing about times past, like those sad old men we enjoyed mocking in our youth! What a joke age makes of us. Get out of here, Dask. Get out of here and warn them. Warn anyone who’ll listen.”
“JUST GO!” Adler shouted as he poured himself a final drink. When he looked up, Thomlin was gone.
“Ah, about time. He’s a good man, he really is, but he always needed to be pushed into doing the hard part,” Adler said to himself as he sipped his drink. "This world has never been kind to those too soft to act."
All around him, Adler heard men scrambling to escape. He also heard screaming, glass shattering, and the clattering steps of…things that shouldn’t be walking.
The sound of his lads dying tore at him. Adler knew that as their leader, he should be out there with them. But he couldn’t bring himself to leave his desk. He didn’t want to see the bodies; he wanted to remember his soldiers as they were. Well-trained, dependable, loyal, and brave.
He didn’t want to see what the skeletons had made of them.
Speaking of which, the skeletons soon arrived at his office door and began filling the place up, surrounding him on all sides. As one, they stepped towards him with their weapons held high.
“Well, that was life,” Adler said to no one in particular.
“I don’t suppose any of you would care for a drink?”
When the skeletons completed their work, when the fighting had died down and the dying pleas for mercy were silenced, their master nodded her approval and sent her pets back to their rest. She then turned her back to the devastation she’d wrought and walked away into the night.
She soon vanished from sight in a flash of eldritch red.
Everly soon reappeared before her ominous black tower, a fearsome place that existed within the chaotic planes of the astral realm. The massive building stood against a backdrop of endless raging storms, in a barren landscape filled with flame and crowned by darkness.
It was her home, her castle, her personal sanctuary.
And truly, it was dope as hell.
Everly entered through the front gates and approached a throne that sat in the center of the first floor. It was a twisted sight to behold, covered in detailed sculptures of screaming figures tormented by ferocious, snarling beasts with snapping jaws that tore into their helpless flesh.
It was the sort of throne that might appear in the feverish dreams of a prophet of the apocalypse. Or on the album cover of a particularly cool metal band. Probably a German one. Those guys went hard.
After seating herself on her fearsome chair, the Empress silently reviewed the events of the day.
Then she sighed with immense satisfaction, before gleefully kicking her feet in the air.
“That was boss level. That was absolutely boss level. Did you hear that line I said about Kane’s eyes being veiled by weakness? Guys, I totally adlibbed that! It just came to me on the spot!”
“I was observing through the viewing crystal, your majesty,” said a sinister looking goblin wearing a spotless white suit. “Your gift for improvisation is an absolute wonder to behold.”
The goblin’s name was Carter, and he proudly served as Everly’s righthand man.
“Appreciated,” Everly replied. Her voice, although still distorted, contained considerably more cheer now that she was back home. “Improvisation isn’t my forte; you know I prefer planning things in advance, but when inspiration strikes, you just gotta roll with it, right?”
That boy was a fool to cross blades with you, rumbled a voice that seemed to rise from the depths of the earth. The weak should know their place.
“You never did like Ian very much, did you, Titania?" Everly asked with amusement.
He thinks too highly of himself. His prattling annoys me. Won't you please kill him, next time?
"Aww. You're hard to say no to. If you're nice, I promise I'll consider it."
Personally, I most enjoyed the moment when you left that foolish little prince on his knees in utter despair, came a woman’s seductive but venomous voice. I could taste his pain. How deliciously cruel of you, mistress.
“Well, what can I say? Leaving a sworn enemy with a gruesome reminder of my power felt thematically appropriate. True villains leave scars.”
Wonderful. And I’m certain that particular scar won’t heal for quite some time, Eris said with malignant delight.
“He should thank me for it,” opined Everly. "His looks gave him too much confidence. Now, he has depth. No depth perception, but definitely lots of depth."
Everly Graff Cruor, the Empress, the terror of the battlefield and the self-styled ruler of darkness, reached for her helmet and removed it.
Out from it spilled shimmering locks of bright golden hair which framed the breathtaking features of the young woman they belonged to. So great was Everly's beauty, that it could easily captivate the heart of any stranger who beheld her.
Only a closer look into her dazzling hazel eyes would reveal a glimpse of the mad fires that raged wildly within her; they were the eyes of a girl who worshipped destruction itself. One who happily shared her faith with others.
She was also frequently told she had a rotten personality.
“Woot! I killed a lot of dudes today. Makes it feel like a fried chicken sort of night, doesn’t it?” she asked Carter.
“Does it really?” he replied, knowing better than to ask how killing anyone could make someone desire poultry.
“I think it does! Effort deserves reward. So, I deserve some friiiiiiied chicken!” proclaimed the Empress.
“I’ll have your meal prepared at once,” the goblin said with a bow.
“Don’t skimp on the hot sauce! You know I like having some heat in each bite.”
“I’d never dream of it, Great Everly.”
“I love you, man. God, I’m staaaarving,” she said.
Everly followed Carter out of the throne room to the dining hall, while removing bits of her armor as she walked. A pair of ghostly attendants followed behind her and patiently gathered each discarded piece for storage. When she’d completely freed herself of it, one of them handed her a robe to wear as she sat to eat her meal.
The chicken was very good.
“Bitchin’, she said with a satisfied smile.
“Oldstead sends you their fervent gratitude, majesty,” Carter informed her. "Their troops will soon take command of the remains of Fortress Starling."
“Yeah, gratitude, that’s nice,” Everly replied between mouthfuls. “More importantly, are they prepared to follow through on the deal?”
“Sadly, there’s still considerable resistance to the idea of you becoming their monarch."
"Still? Which part of obey or die are they struggling with?"
"The prime minister believes that he can succeed in having you assassinated before you claim your rightful due.”
“Aw, cute. Pin him naked to a wall where everyone can see him.”
“Alive or dead?”
“Chef’s choice.”
“As my Empress commands.”
The goblin left to fulfill his duty as Everly greedily continued to devour her food. After she finished her third plate, she pushed it aside and sighed in contentment.
Delicious food truly was a heavenly reward for a day’s hard labor.
Coming to this world had been the best thing that ever happened to her.
She wondered what sort of fun tomorrow would bring?
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2023.05.21 22:06 Alone-Training-4377 J'ai eu une rencontre inquiétante lors de mes 10 ans mais je ne connaîtrais jamais les intentions de cet Homme

Salut ! Je n'ai pas l'habitude de poster mais j'aimerais bien raconter une histoire qui est soit flippante et où j'aurais pu me faire kidnapper, soit juste moi qui suis toujours aussi paranoïaque :) Je fais du cheval depuis longtemps ( j'ai un cheval actuellement depuis 3 ans ). Bref, j'y vais très souvent. Dans mon écurie, on a des prés et des champs pour les chevaux, il y en a des privés ( ceux avec des chevaux du coup ) et ceux qui sont tous publics mais où il n'y a pas de chevaux. Il y a pleins de petites rivières par-ci par-là et des petits ponts en pierre ou en bois. Un jour, du haut de mes 10 ans, je décide d'aller dans les champs publics seule pour me détendre ( le coin est plutôt sympa ). Je m'assois au bord d'un petit pont en pierre qui traverse une rivière très peu profonde ( il y a des pierres et 30 centimètres d'eau ). Mais de là où je suis, si je tombe, j'ai très très mal, c'est une chute de 2 mètres sur des pierres. Pendant 10 minutes, tout vas bien, mais à un moment, approche un homme ( de ce que j'ai vu, je ne saurais jamais vraiment ) plutôt vieux car il avait des cheveux blancs. Il a tout pour faire un peu peur : - habillé en noir complet - plutôt imposant - sourire flippant Surtout que j'avais 10 ans et que je savais que fallait pas faire n'importe quoi avec les inconnus. Du coup il viens vers moi, et se met 1 mètre devant. Il commence à me parler mais il pose des questions qu'on pose pas à un gosse qui est seul, du genre t'as quel âge, tu t'appelle comment, mais surtout, il forçait BEAUCOUP sur mon cheval, parce que oui, vu ma tenue c'était sûr que je faisait du cheval. Il insistait vraiment sur les questions comme : il est comment, tu fais quoi avec, il est où, « Quand il est dans les prés », il voulait des HEURES, vraiment. Du coup, moi comme j'étais un peu débile, je lui ait dit la robe de mon cheval et à quoi il ressemblait, et aussi je lui ait dit mon âge. Heureusement je lui ait pas dit mon prénom ni quand sortait mon cheval... Du coup ça s'éternise, ça doit bien faire 5 minutes qu'il me parle, ça peut paraître court mais pour moi ça l'était VRAIMENT pas. Et à un moment, le plus flippant de mon enfance, il prend une pierre dans les mains et me sort la phrase : « J'adore jouer avec ces trucs là haha » mais pas une petite pierre, une pierre d'au moins 1 ou 2 kilos. Bref là je commence à avoir SUPER peur. En quelques secondes : il s'approche, je me lève, je lui dit que je suis en retard, puis je me barre en courant. Le pire, c'est que c'est la première fois que j'en parle. Ça m'a fait flipper. Le problème, c'est que je saurais jamais si ses intentions étaient vraiment mauvaises... Ça se trouve il voulait juste parler à une petite fille, sans mauvaises intentions... Je sais pas si je dois m'en vouloir de penser que cet homme était flippant ou si je dois être heureuse de m'être barrée si vite :/ Donc je sais pas si mon histoire a vraiment sa place dans « HistoiresHorrifiques » ou si je dois la déplacer dans « anecdotes ». Mais bon ça me soulage d'en avoir parlé parce que je ne connaîtrais jamais les intentions de cet homme... Merci à ceux qui liront mon histoire ( si il y'en a ) :)
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