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Scions [Fantasy|IC]

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Krugmar
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Scions [Fantasy|IC]

Postby Krugmar » Mon Feb 24, 2020 5:06 pm



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It is the year 1436 A.C. in the continent of Minilar, and strife abounds. The Bull of Nekhur flies above the former Kingdom of Tervain, brought low by the wrath of an ancient empire. The Koinon, its oldest foe, looks instead to the great islands of Imlit and Amattar, seeking land and fortune. The Southern Realms continue to squabble amongst themselves, indifferent or unaware of the grand plans of Nekhur's Regent, Mnesus of Tyria.

The fate of Minilar is far from undecided. Eternal glory or prompt defeat, whether by the mailed fists of an army, the shining silver of a merchant's coin, or the gleaming steel of a hero's blade, awaits.


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Image

Nekhur


Old Palace, Varla
Tervain, Nekhur


Abuzz with activity, life had returned to the Palace of Varla. Two years prior it had escaped a horrific sacking, for the royals had enjoyed for some centuries a larger, more opulent palace by the river. Little remained of King Darehan's prized project, the ruins having been combed by vultures, scrapped for any parts useful to the war effort. The Old Palace was smaller, more a Eataran manse than true palace, but it was defensible, positioned upon one of Varla's four hills.

For two years it had been the home of Imirian Sansterre, who some considered to be the current king of Tervain. As Mnesus made his way through the halls, he noticed that a portrait of the newest Imirian had not been placed upon the walls with his father and ancestors. More fitting perhaps, he thought, that a portrait of Mnesus should hang there instead. It was his home now after all, for the time being at least.

"Lord Mnesus" announced a guard as he entered the Great Hall through one of its side doors. The murmuring and pattering of feet stopped as he entered, and ritualised obeisance began. The Tervine nobles, crowded together and whispering in hushed tones, were quick to pay their respects and return to their scheming. Mnesus counted two fewer than last he saw them.

Imirian was naught to be found in his own hall, having been confined to his chambers a month prior after a drunken outburst the night of a feast celebrating Mnesus' arrival. The silver throne, another forgery of Darehan, had been saved from the River Palace, but not from Mnesus. It had been melted down, and replaced with a wooden stool, yet to be tarnished with the king's rear, and likely never.

Surrounding a vast wooden table adorned with a map of Northern Minilar were dozens of generals, nobles, and courtiers. Prince Khosrov of Relya, Marshal of the 4th, stood at its mid-section on the left. The younger brother of Relya's queen, he had shown a greater eagerness to aid in the campaigns against Tervain, and was someone who could be trusted so long as Mnesus knew his goal. The Imbrine throne was a prize, but was Khosrov loyal to his sister, or to his own ambitions?

Mnesus made his way to the opposite side of Khosrov. "Generals Yarim-Lim and Masniyalli were sent with ten-thousand men to siege the city of Torrel, held by the Count Alamine, but we have heard a report that they have been decisively defeated by the Duke of Durheyn. Yarim-Lim has managed to retreat in good order with the bulk of the force, while Masniyalli has been captured, and the rearguard destroyed." Khosrov stated, moving the pieces on the map accordingly.

"Yarim-Lim was not a fool, and Durheyn does not command a force capable of engaging such a force in a pitched battle." Said Amar-Sin, a bald Kisharite general from the old aristocracy, his copper skin glowing in the dim light.

Khosrov nodded, "With this defeat more of the nobility in the west have pledged themselves to Alania, and I fear our hold over the south will soon be in jeopardy."

"Then an example must be made, lest the Southrons gather a force to strike." Mnesus said in a flowery form of Kisharite, silencing the table. "The Balorenes will be let loose to ravage the country, while Khosrov will take the 4th and besiege Monroyel. Irhamuwa will move from his position at Cochant and kite Durheyn. Avoid battle if the enemy is willing to give it, until I have rooted out the rats in the cellar."

The Tervine nobles, and indeed many of the Nekhuran courtiers and generals tilted their heads in confusion. While most were learned in Kisharite, either a crash course for the former, and from a childhood education for the latter, such an archaic form was alien to their ears. For those with access to the highest education, such as Khosrov, the meaning of the words, and the meaning of the words, was clear.

"That will be all." He said in a more understandable form of Kisharite. As they dispersed, he beckoned to one of the attendants. "Bring the King, and gather the Tervine nobles, I should like to speak with them within the library."
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Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:53 am

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Polimu Kal
City of Ver
Jovhak Tor-La


“Jovhaki! Jovhaki! Praise Jovhaki!”

The people of Ver, turned out en masse to greet the returning army, could not help but shout their greeting in the melody of the giant war-drums that advanced ahead of that army. The calls of the crowd mixed with the singing of the returning soldiers, turning into an odd but melodic harmony.

With their chanting the people of Ver welcomed the Jovhaki, the Conquering Hero, in the person of Polimu Kal. The youngest son of the late emperor had spent the better part of the last three years on campaign across the southern border river, and it had been a grand success. The column of soldiers, many miles long, carried with them all the spoils of the tribal conflict they had been engaged in. Gold and silver, but also fruits and flowers, art ancient and modern, written works, birds and other strange animals. Then there were the slaves, prisoners of war who had been deemed ‘immoral’ by the accompanying priests, and had been sentenced to hard labour to atone for their sins.

And in the middle of it all, standing on a platform supported by carrying slaves, was the Jovhaki himself. The platform was flanked, headed and trailed by companies of the red-feathered imperial guard. Half the imperial guard had accompanied Polimu on campaign, with the other half staying behind to protect the family in Kal. These guardsmen looked fearsome, their bronze armour gleaming in the evening sun, their shields and long spears shaking as they marched. The red feathers topping their bronze helmets indicated ruthless victory in many battles, and that they would take not take prisoners when victorious. Over and under their armour they wore the skins of animals they had hunted, along with necklaces made from bone of both animal and human origin.

Polimu himself, waving gracefully at the crowd, wore his own bronze armour, covering the robes of imperial black and silver that marked him out as a member of the imperial family. He held his helm under, the many-coloured feathers brushing past him as he waved at all those who had gathered to see him. He was young for a conquering hero, only 28, and basking thankfully in the limelight. Next to him, slightly lower on the platform, stood his personal priest and his second-in-command. While he had worn armour on campaign too, the priest only wore his blue-gold robes, which indicated his priestly rank.

While the rest of the army marched on through the city, to the barracks and encampments on the other side, the imperial guard and the platform veered off to the governmental quarters. The slaves carried the platform to the top of the central hill, where large pyramids rose above the rest of the city. These were palaces, bureaucracies, temples, libraries… the places of power in the city. At the base of the Princely Palace of Ver stood a delegation, headed by a fine-dressed man in his late 40s. having approached the delegation, the slaves lowered the platform so Polimu could descend, heartily embracing the Prince Ver.

“Polimu, so good to have you back. How you’ve grown” the prince said. Polimu nodded.

“Thank you, Hadela. Mostly in width, I can assure you” the general answered. Prince Hadela patted him on the back and, with an inviting gesture, asked him to join him in his palace.

The dinner that had been set out for the visitors could only be called grand. Placed inside the crowning atrium of the Princely pyramid, with an open view over the sprawling city, stood a low round stone table, its edge made of wood. The host and his guests, both notables from the city and commanders of Polimu’s army, sat cross-legged around it. Each had a large platter in front of them, and each was free to take whatever they wanted from what had been laid out before them, kept hot by a fire burning under the stone. Of course, gratitude demanded that guests at least tasted every dish prepared for them, but that was not a problem for the veterans. It had been three years since they had tasted a good traditional Bituri meal, and so they gorged themselves on what their gracious host had prepared. Stuffed birds, honey-coated meats, grilled vegetables, warm herb-filled wine…

“The Viviks (southern barbarians) know how to make a honey-wine, but their meals consists almost entirely of insects. I have seen enough mosquito bread to last me a lifetime” one of Polimu’s commanders joked, and this caused both laughter with his fellow veterans as with the city notables, who were incredibly curious about the lands and customs of the Viviks. Most of them had heard stories as a child, meant to scare them into eating their vegetables, and they had surely read the dispatches. But to hear the stories told by those who had actually seen it was far preferable to reading the dry papyrus rapports.

“Are they as vicious as they say?” a fat priest said, in-between big gulps of his wine sliding down his throat. An almost uniform nodding among the generals was the result. Polimu, as the primary guest, had the social task of allotting the right to tell a story among his generals, and he gestured towards a gruff, grey-haired veteran with sun-tanned, leathery skin.

“Kikalu, would you regale us with the story of the mountain hideout?” he asked the man, who put down a piece of maize and wiped the grease off his fingers with a piece of cloth.

“Happily, my lord” he said, his voice as gruff and gravelly as his appearance. His silver moustache danced up and down as he told, and his gesticulating rose with the ride of the story being told.

“So, there was this mountain rebel hideout. An evil shrine to some heretical demon god, the name slipped my mind. So, the shrine defied an order to pay their rightful taxes for the protection of the roads to and from the monastery, which they were bound to pay by decree. We don’t know where they came from, but before long a legion of rebel fighters had assembled at the complex. I was dispatched to collect the outstanding bill, so to say”

A mischievous smile curled across his face, and his fellow officers laughed at the comedic understatement.

“So, I took a detachment of troops and marched them towards the monastery. The rebels had fortified it with carts, logs, rocks, whatever they could find, into a true fortress. We dug in for a siege, constructing our catapults and missile throwers, and preparing for an assault. We bombarded their positions for a week, but every rock we threw at them they would incorporate into their defences. We knocked down their heathen shrine, their barracks, and they just used the rubble to make a second line of defences. So, we started catapulting in bee hives and diseased animals. We expected them to surrender the next morning, but then…”

A dramatic pause for effect, as Kikalu drew in his listeners.

“… The next morning, they did not come out in surrender. They started piling the bodies of the dead onto their defences. Starved, out of water, they took to heaping their former comrades onto the barricades. I had never seen such determination before, in my long years of service.”

“We approached the barricades with locked shields, under heavy missile fire. We answered with our own slingers, but for every rebel we struck another came back. Their javelins were vicious, with barbed bone tips, laced with the poison of local frogs. If one as much as graced you, you were as good as dead. We charged three times, and at the third attempt we managed to batter down the defences. And even with their barricade breached, they fought on. We could not take prisoners, they all fought to the death”

He remained silent for a moment.

“But our boys did earn their red feather on that day, without a doubt”

“Hear hear!” Polimu answered. As commanding general, he had honoured the survivors of the battle with a red feather for their bravery.

“We made an example out of the monastery, too. The local priesthoods were, of course, part of the conspiracy, but when we had purged all the collaborators, no monastery would stand to oppose us. It was an important step on the way to peace.” He added, raising his glass to Kikalu, who graciously returned the gesture. An impressed whisper went around the table, as those present discussed the story among themselves.

“It must not have been easy to pacify such a rowdy and uncouth people” Prince Hadela spoke. His tone was impressed and inquisitive, and he seemed to praise Polimu with his tone. Polimu shook his head.

“It was not, but we forced them in line well enough. Towards the end, they started raiding their own monasteries to pay us” he answered. “Lawless, even when order is imposed from the outside”

“Such savages…” the Prince said. He smiled, and raised his glass for a toast.

“To the Prince Imperial, and his victorious conquest!”

The rest of the dinner was perfectly amicable. More stories were told, one more gruesome than the next. Every time, the story ended in some praise for Polimu, either for his good governance of the area while the army was stationed there or his bravery on the battlefield, of which there were stories in abundance. After the table was left bare of food, scourged by the visitors, the Prince bade them farewell for the night. As was custom, the guests left, leaving the primary guest Polimu and Prince Hadela to have a private conversation. They had some more wine, and stood at the edge of the pyramid overlooking the city. With the calm, warm air blowing from the west, a mellow atmosphere fell over the conversation, which easily strayed into politics.

“The Sun Priest has not nominated a successor for my father yet, I assume?” Polimu said. Hadela shook his head, dissapointed.

“No, the Priesthood insists that the gathering of the Princely Council would be disruptive. After so many years of imperial vacancy, the emotions might run high. Of course…” he answered, and Polimu finished his sentence

“… the longer they wait, the worse that becomes” Now, Polimu shook his head.

“We could have had an emperor for the past 13 years, there is no sense in delaying the election. My brothers were, as they still are, perfectly capable of heading the imperial bureaucracy” he added, irritation clear in his tone.

“Not only your brothers, you know” Hadela said, earning himself a questioning look from the young commander.

“What do you mean?” Polimu asked.

“You are not a kid anymore, you know. You are Jovhaki now. Your late father did not earn that title until well into his thirties, when he was emperor already” Hadela explained, tentatively. He chose every word with care, and felt out the reactions of the young Prince Imperial.

“True…” was Polimu’s answer.

“And you now have experience in governance, and hard governance at that. It’s an impressive record” Hadela added.

“Veterans embellish” was Polumi’s short answer, but his voice was rife with uncertainty.

“And yet, you return, with a large part of your army intact… That has to speak for something. Your soldiers adore you, especially if it’s embellishment”

“What is all this supposed to mean?” Polimu asked, a hint of suspicion in his question.

“Simply that you should not discount your own candidacy, should the Sun Priest ever want to make that decision. The Princes would not look unfavourably upon a proven ruler and battle commander” Hadela answered, careful not to imply any act that would go against the principles of Jovhak customs. A silence fell over the conversation, Polimu pensively staring into the distance.

“Anyway…” Hadela said, sensing that he had planted enough seeds in the general’s head for now. They would need to sprout, grow on their own accord. He decided to change subjects.

“I wanted to ask you; I have a few letters I need delivering. Could I leave them in your care?”

“Wouldn’t the courier service be faster?” Polimu asked. Hadela shook his head, and expounded on the point.

“Perhaps, but with these, I am more concerned about safety than timely deliverance. They are for the Prince of Mer, where you will pass on your way to Kal, and for my brother Mopona. Can I trust you with them?”

Polimu thought for a moment, then nodded.

“Good. I knew I could count on you” the Prince said, looking out over the ancient city that had been the charge of his family for generations.

“Very good…”
The name's James. James Usari. Well, my name is not actually James Usari, so don't bother actually looking it up, but it'll do for now.

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Liecthenbourg
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Postby Liecthenbourg » Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:31 pm

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The Kingdom of Relya


The Solar Court, Arevitun
The Kingdom of Relya, Nekhur


"... and let it be said that Ghazaros Tovmasian served this realm to the best of his abilities, even given his neutrality as per the decree of the Collegiate all those years ago. His life, a long account we are all familiar with, was one of pure dedication to the magical arts and their secrets. Under his administration the Monastery of the Sun and Moon oversaw great leaps in the advent of magic. I believe you will all remember the day Ghazaros entered the Solar Court, adorned in the excessive clothing he so adored, a troop of musicians at his beck and call that danced and performed in most beautiful wonder and spectacle. And then," the Queen's teeth began to show as she aimed to suppress the smile and laughter that came to her face at the memory. "And then he proved to all of us before our very eyes that not all was at it appeared to be, as each musician and entertainer disappeared in a spectacle of light. The illusion lifted."

"A true magic-user!" a courtier cried, pressing his hands to his chest.

"An Inveigler like the which the continent had never seen!" another cried.

More filled the room with their praises, before it died down once again.

She gave a subtle nod to two of her bow-maidens, clad in their plate and clutching bows whittled of yew, and both wandered towards either ends side of the room.

"I will miss my elder cousin for as long as I live. For to me he was more than a Regius. More than the Abbot of the Monastery of the Sun and Moon. He was my flesh and blood and my friend and my teacher. I loved him as one loves a brother." Vana conceded to the courtiers. Her right hand was enclosed by her left as she kept them at her waist. She had not taken lightly to the news but had not allowed herself to weep. Nor had she allowed her tears to surface when the members of her guard lowered the metallic casket of silver and bronze, adorned in ivory, that served as the magician's sarcophagus, onto the marbled floor of her court. Instead, as any good ruler would do, she had shown determination and eloquence in her words. Speaking had come easy to her.

Perhaps the only ones within the court who could not understand the intricacies of the Elven funerary rites, which had so far lasted for around two hours of lamentations and honours and decrees and homages to the God Arevlusin, were the Kisharites that found sunny and southern Relya to be there home. Their leader, that who represented the interests of the Nekhur, was a stout but burly man named Ziusudra. Ziusudra was... a snake. He presented himself plainly. He spoke openly and truthfully. Yet despite this he had an air to him that reeked of espionage and deceit. His words were his weapons, his tongue sharp and forked like the wretched serpents. However, perhaps where it mattered the most, Ziusudra and his men were courteous and polite and at the very least feigned interest in the dealings of Relya, but Vana had no doubt that unlike the learned men of Nekhur whom she could have polite discourse with

But she was most drawn to the way he looked. He was bald, with an assortment of tattoos of streaky black lines adorning where his hair had once been. He was clean shaven, as well, as if he had shed all his hair. Ziusudra did not blend in with the elves that surrounded him, he was very much a human. And perhaps that was his stark difference manifest. She watched him keenly as he observed the funerary ceremony and had noted that his eyes had never once trailed off of her. She did not feel flattered.

It had come now for the apex of the ceremony. Ghazaros' casket had been draped in a large fabric speckled with yellow markings and blue etchings. A deafening cranking could be heard as chains were pulled and gears were turned. The floor began to part and the casket began to rotate on a large pedestal downwards into the crypts beneath the court. As it descended down the unmistakable sound of drawing a bow filled the room, over the gasps and startled noises the courtiers had made. With a 'fwoosh' both arrows that had been drawn at either end of the room erupted into a beautiful colour: a cool blue and a vibrant orange. Both were let loose and struck into the fabric covering the coffin. It caught alight as if it were the fainest of parchment. One end burned brightly in orange, the other was enveloped in blue. The dancing lights battled each other for supremacy over their fuel as the coffin descended further and further down, before the floor concealed it for eternity.

"Farewell, cousin." Vana said. "And let the Goddess Arevlusin guide you as you rejoin her in the heavens."



The Old Road, En-route to Monroyel
Tervain, Nekhur


"I'm lonesome since I crossed the hill,
And over the moor and valley,
Such grievous thoughts my heart do fill,
Since parting with my Vanakley
I seek no more the fine or gay,
For each does but remind me
How swift the hours did pass away,
With the man I left behind me."


The honour of Khosrov's first in line had fallen, as was tradition, to the bow-maidens that had come with him. Their reveleries and distraction from battle and war came across in half a hundred ways, but often they enjoyed singing on the march. Lamenting of the lives they had left behind and were hoping to return to when the war was one. Tervain was a foreign land to some, but to the Elves it looked like home -- the grass was green, the rivers run clear and the people tilled the land.

In fact, the aliens to many weren't the people of Tervain or their customs, but the elves -- particularly the bow-maidens -- themselves. They were a mighty lot and the first that many of Nekhur's commanders and soldiers had ever seen of women on the battlefield. There was dissatisfaction amongst some for what they were -- and behind their backs all Elves were certain there were sneers -- but they were effective. Astounding archers and fighters. They had been instrumental to Khosrov's efforts for most of his successes in the campaign. He owed his successes to all his troops, ranging from the Elven halberdiers and heavy horse, to the Kisharite conscripts and other units provided by Nekhur: irregular horsemen and heavy axe-men. Most imposing of the units was the monstrous warbred keratodon, a giant reptile with a trio of horns and a shield for a face. Khosrov had wanted to ride atop its back, but had made the tactical decision his horse was the wiser choice.

His multi-ethnic and multi-racial force was a sight to behold, and for now morale was good. Their food was plentiful and Monroyel, he had assured, was going to be an easy fight to win. They would break the backs of this rebellion, he had told his men to cheers, as he promised a bountiful reward on the capturing of the city if the defenders chose not to surrender. He had to play a game of balance; he could not so favour his kin and blood but could not offend their sensibilities either. The elves were split between wanting to go home and actually fighting, he could see it, no matter the allegiances that his sister had declared to the Tyrant -- but more importantly Mnesus -- upon her ascent.

He ran a hand across his face as he watched the large column continue to move. Their scouts had reported nothing, and the mixed-vanguard of light horse had come across nothing yet. Nekhur, he had to admit, did have this strange capability to bring a large contingent of people who spoke no common language nor prayed to the same God together in a way nothing else he had ever seen had. Magic divided people more than anything. Wealth perhaps even more than that. Coercion, Khosrov bleakly concluded, seemed to be the precursor to all good cooperation.

Clapping his gauntleted hands he called for his squire, and the Kisharite teen -- some relative of Mnesus by a hundred degrees or so -- approached him. "Yes?" he asked as he bowed.

"Fetch me a quill and parchment, I need you to pen a missive to my siste--- you can't write Tsovamar, can you?"

The squire replied with a curt shake of the head. "No, I can't."

Sighing, the Elven Prince shooed him away to fetch it anyway. He would write atop the back of the horse as best as he could. For he had a letter to send to his sister to inform her of how they progressed. She had the right to know. They had to watch out for one another. No matter what he thought otherwise.

As the dutiful attendant returned with his arms overflowing with ink-pots, parchment and quills, Khosrov began to pen his missive. All the while at a slow trot alongside the body of his army. Even here he could hear the melodious tune of the bow-maidens at the front, echoing down in their sweet voices in a tongue only the Elves could comprehend in this army.

"O never shall I forget the night,
The stars were bright above me
And gently lent their silvery light
When first he vowed to love me
But now I'm bound to Monroyel
Kind heaven, then, pray guide me
And send me safely back again,
To the man I left behind me."
Last edited by Liecthenbourg on Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Theyra
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Postby Theyra » Wed Feb 26, 2020 9:10 pm

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Kingdom of Asnua
Waylam Mountains
Temple of the Twins
Khusru Izadiyar


Nested up near the top of the Waylam Mountains lies the ancient Temple of the Twins. The Waylam Mountains is the tallest mountain in Asnua and the most sacred. It is said that this mountain was created by the Spirit-God Rolnas "Elder of Earth" long ago and where he would meet with his twin sister the Spirit-Goddess Ynla "Elder of Sky". It is here that the Zatneans believe that here they can speak and receive guidance from the pair. Not many though are willing to walk up the long steps needed to reach the temple. Which made up to about forty years ago, most people were pilgrims. Then after a long talk between the scholars and the priests of the temple. An observatory was added to the temple to aid the scholars' efforts to study the night sky and add a new influx of people to the temple. The priests did not mind that much seeing the observatory as a means to get closer to the Spirit-Goddess Esra, Elder of the Night.

Here is where King Khusru Izadiyar can be found, meditating in one of the rooms. This is the second time he has been to the temple, the first time when he was nearly an adult and accompanying his father on the trip. Back then the journey seemed much longer than before and this time Khusru was traveling alone. He wanted to make the pilgrimage on his own while his wife handled royal duties while he was gone. Truth be told he another reason to undertake this pilgrimage and seek guidance from the Spirits-Gods. Khusru wanted some time alone to think about current affairs and what better place then on top of a mountain. That was his logic anyway and now was a good time to relax and think about things clearly. Being at the temple has a calming effect on him and he felt at peace as he meditated. To be away from the problems and stresses of the world. To offer himself to the Sprit-Gods and perhaps study the stars from the observatory. If Khusru was not king, he might have chosen to be a priest or scholar that lived up here if only be able to stay in this place. But, he is king and must return to his duties sooner or later.

One of the priests showed up to Khusru's room, walking silently that Khusru did not hear the priest's arrival until the priest knocked on the door and opened it just enough to fit his head and spoke. "I am sorry for the interruption my grace but, someone here would like to talk to you".

Khusru opened his eyes and turned his head to the side to get a look at the priest. He was not expecting any visitors while he stayed at the temple and he wondered who could it be. "Who wants to talk to me? Khusru replied to the priest.

"A gentleman by the name of Avgan Zendi wishes to speak to you". The priest said respectfully, "I can tell him you wish to be alone my grace".

"No, no", Khusru waved his right hand. "Send him in", So Avgan is here to see him, that is curious that one of his advisors has journeyed this far to speak with him. It must be important and Khusru got up from his meditative stance and turned to face the door. Now, what does Avgan wish to say to him?

"Yes my grace", The priest disappeared and after a minute a Zatnean entered the room. Closing the door silently behind him, he was older then Khusru like in his mid-forties and a full beard with complex tattoos on his face. Along with carrying a satchel with him.

Avgan bowed respectfully to Khusru before speaking, "I hope your pilgrimage to the temple is going well".

"It is going well but, cut to the chase Avgan". I doubt that you came all the way up here on pilgrimage to speak small talk with me". Khusru crossed his arms, "What do you wish to discuss with me?

"Ah, I see my king, as straight forward as ever", Avgan moved back to the door, peering out it to see if anyone was nearby. He moved his head back and closed the door with an audible creak. Avgan turned to face Khusru and moved a step towards him. "Now that we are alone, I need to discuss some things with you". Mainly I have two things I need to talk to you about. The first being, you remember the tension that exists between us and the Mahasans?

Khusru raised his eyebrows, of course, he remembers the tension Avgan speaks of. "Yes, I know well about how some of the Mahasans do not like that we refer to their god as a spirit-god". Believing that their Unxlir is a deity that is greater than any of the spirit-gods and should be separated from them. What about it, Khusru asked.

"My king for it appears that the Mahasans are planning of forming a holy order dedicated to serving their god and its followers. I do not know when they plan on bringing this up to you but, I fear this holy order may only worsen the tensions between our peoples".

"Hmm, I see Avgan, though I have no quarrels with the Mahasans and they have served the kingdom thankfully for centuries as apart of it people. I can see where you are coming from with this but, I am not so sure that a holy order can divide us further. But, I will take this into consideration when I have returned to the capital and what is the second thing you wished to discuss with me?

"That is something more.... concerning, my king". Avgan moved in closer to Khusru, "this is about something that should not be for we have discovered that there is a chance that the Golestani may live".

"What a Golestani? Khusru looked confused, "they were wiped out a century ago by my family, how could one have survived?

"I do not know my king just I am trying to figure out with our spies if this is true or not. It may be a baseless rumor and be a falsehood. But, if it is not and there is a Golestani alive out there. They may want revenge or want to take back the throne".

"Take back the throne", If I remember my history and what my father told me. They ruled like tyrants for two centuries, I doubt that bringing up the Golestani name will inspire some sense of loyalty in the people".

"They were ousted for a reason but, who knows what they will do and what support they can muster after of century of hiding. I will get to the bottom of this my king, do not worry about this".

"I want to be informed of any process about his Avgan, if a Golestani lives, I want to know what their intentions are. Khusru spoke with a serious tone in his voice.

"Will my king and may I ask how much longer you are going to be staying here?

"Soon Avgan, I will be returning soon and I will resume my duties at the capital. Do not now worry about me Avgan and is there nothing else you wish to discuss that you may have forgotten?

"No, my king and I think I will stay here for a while before returning. Making the pilgrimage to this place was... taxing and I should take some advantage of it while I am here".

"Good, Avgan and now that we are done discussing things, I ask you leave me, I need to think about things".

"No problem my king", without word Avgan bowed and then left the room.

Khusru sat back down in his meditative stance, so it seems that not even the king can truly escape from the issues of the world and some of them he needs to think about. He took a deep breath and resumed his meditation. Once he is back at the capital, he will be busy with what he had been told and for what else my come.

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Elerian
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Founded: Aug 31, 2012
Father Knows Best State

Postby Elerian » Thu Feb 27, 2020 5:46 pm

It was an unremarkable season in Tamarask. Merchants ran their storefronts, fishers were out on the Azur Straights, hawkers touted their wares, and there was little in the way of trouble. Tamarask was a safe, stable little piece of land in so far as Southern Minilar was concerned. The highly diverse peoples across the Peninsula got along just fine, unified by their strong economic situation and glued together by the firm leadership that the Seven provided. It certainly helped that the local criminal syndicates had been decimated through the combined efforts of the Seven and the Iron Company. Outside of Tamarask itself, it wasn't a particularly populous region, it only held pockets of cloistered communities. Still, it was a nice place, the lack of residents meant it was relatively quiet but even still they managed to be quite prosperous. Not only were there a fair few productive industries, but ships from far and wide frequently passed through the Straights, seeing as the Azur Straights were both stable and well maintained, bringing much wealth and economic activity to the region. All said it was a good place for business.

There were communities on Minilar with all manner of fortes, for Tamarask, it was wisdom. They had a great deal of knowledge to pull from, both from the old world and the new. And as the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Of course, being traders, Tamarask never really ran into many particularly notable threats, they had garnered a great deal of credence among merchants and Kings both far and wide, and were known for offering a great deal of clemency even to those that would do them harm. There weren't many people with strong animosities against them. They were among the precious few who would treat with their partners as equals and freely offer aid to those who they felt needed it most, which certainly didn't work towards fostering much hostility towards them. Their small state had been built through diplomacy and negotiation. The Trade Guilds had come together and agreed to create a strong institution for the sake of mutual benefit, whereas so many empires in the world had been forged through coercion and conquest. They were relatively peaceful people, and their neighbors were often content to leave them in peace.

Like all communes, however, Tamarask had ambitions, things they strove hard to achieve. And with new leadership, this was two fold. Chief among those goals was the maintenance of Tamarask as a trade leader. Normally, diplomacy was preferable to achieve this rather than war and destruction, the Seven had been sowing the seeds of conflict. Even if Tamarask’s borders had remained largely static for hundreds of years, they had been able to expand their influence much farther than the city itself. Accumulating rapport from neighboring Kingdoms and cities, and had established reliable streams of revenue from tolls gathered from ships passing through the Straights. Tamarask’s umbrella network of contacts and information has created a mutually beneficial relationship. Some called it an organized racket, but the local merchants would call it Symbiosis, whatever that means. The Seven had grand ambitions for Tamarask; and they worked hard, day and night, to make this goal realized by the wider world.




Bold Beginnings


The shadows gradually shifted across the long table of the Council chambers as they waited for Cinder. An aide had told Slight that he wouldn't be long, but the poor lad underestimated Cinder's ability to try everyone's patience. Slight finally pushed himself from his chair and began to pace up and down the room, cursing in an undertone.

"Could you tell us what it is this is all about?" Sage finally asked. A few hours ago, Slight and Crow had returned from a day within the city and Slight had asked the Seven to come as soon as possible. The typically stoic leader of their cabal shook his head and glared at the impossibly pale mage.

"I can't, Cinder must be here. Where could he be?"

The other Seven were certainly not responsible for Cinder’s lack of punctuality but as usual, Slight lectured them over his tardiness. It was how things worked:

"Tell us," Sage insisted.

Slight froze and turned on him angrily.

"I told you I can't, because Cinder is not here!" he bellowed.

The creak of an opening door made them turn around, but Slight growled in discontentment when he saw another aide sticking his head in through the doorway. "They're here, ser."

"Send them in," Slight grunted.

Confused, the other members of the Seven watched as gruff looking men of the Iron Company and Marines came through the door and into the spacious chamber. Captain Urswyck of the Iron Company and Captain Kruppe of the Marines, as well as a number of other men of the Militia. They recognized that nearly all the men gathered were soldiers. Why are they all here? It couldn’t have been some strange coup otherwise they would both have already been dead.

"What of Gellert? And Vorcan?" Slight snarled.

He seemed offended and the men standing in front of him, weathered or young, looked at each other hesitantly. One stepped forward and finally said he didn't know. Slight stared angrily at all the men – including Sage – then he walked to the hearth. The fireplace wasn't used for some weeks now that the sun warmed the city; he nonetheless took the firebrand with a sigh and moved the cold ashes.

Another rustling of the door made Slight spin on his heels. The door flew open and Cinder came in unfazed. When they saw his rather disheveled look, the soldiers probably thought he had been out torturing some unfortunate soul. As Cinder sunk into one of the remaining armchairs, the rest of the men sat restlessly in their seats, wondering what they’d been summoned for. His back to the hearth, Slight cleared his throat and looked at the assembled men and women.

“As many of you know, the Seven have made the change of leadership in Tamarask as bloodless as possible. Only a handful of mages and malcontents were put to death, and so the situation has stabilized in these last few years” he said as he nodded to several of the men gathered. “We illustrious Mages came to Tamarask with dreams of greatness. Our plans for this grandest of cities will begin today.”

Some of the men began murmuring to each other and themselves, as they realized where Slight was taking this. But with a hand, the muttering ceased.

“I have gathered each of you here to ask of you something with which you should not take lightly” Slight continued. “Many of you have suffered as I have, lost as I have. But we have been given a chance by the Gods themselves to win back what is ours, and exact justice long overdue on those that have wronged us.”

He regarded each of those before him with a mix of curiosity and excitement but held no doubt regarding his following words.

“The path that has been laid out for us is not an easy one. Struggle is the father of all things and true virtue lies in bloodshed. But we will not tire, we will not slacken, we will not falter! In the blood of every one of us comes the price we must pay. Blood alone moves the wheels of history. We must fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win our just triumph. So I ask each of you here, what say you? Will you help me to make Tamarask truly great?”

The air hung still for the briefest of moments before a shout of agreement erupted first from the throats of the mercenaries seated at the table. Some of the soldiers most loyal to Slight rose from their seats to draw their swords and pledge themselves.

Slight had expected that response from them, which was why he’d brought them. All of them had either been planted by Slight, or their pragmatism was their strongest guiding light. What Slight was really anticipating was the reaction from the fellow members of his Cabal, specifically Sage. Cinder and Slight rarely got along, and the some of the others would only agree to this if Sage lent herself to the cause. They remained where they were until the other men had calmed down and reseated themselves.

Slight looked over the Seven for a few seconds, searching their eyes. Cinder, unexpectedly, was the first to make a move, as he stood with a grin to clap Slight on the shoulder. Unnerved, Slight didn’t reciprocate the gesture and instead turned his gaze over to the perfidious albino mage who greeted him with a feeble smile. With even Cinder already backing Slight, Sage had no choice than to go along with the plot.

Slight would have to watch the man. Watch him closely.




Violent Delights Have Violent Ends


The merchant wobbled out into the early morning traffic of Tamarask, drunk out of his mind after spending another night at his favourite bar, The Mule. Although the streets were relatively empty, a few Militia could be seen in their uniforms, patrolling. Paying no attention to the merchant, they passed by, ignoring the drunk and continuing on a hushed conversation. Figuring it was time for him to return home, the merchant stumbled his way down the road before making a left into a thin, dimly lit alley, squashed between two houses. The well built brick structure was cold to the touch as the merchant made his way down the alley.

Bottle of liquor in hand, the merchant took another sip of the refreshing alcoholic drink, enjoying the taste and how it flowed down his throat. He kept moving forward, eventually coming out into a smaller, closed off area behind multiple buildings. Single story warehouses met his gaze, with large, bold, symbols marking each building. Guild District was the only thought that went through the merchant’s mind as he continued his search, passing by the Whitesmith warehouse before stopping and looking down another byway between the structures. Was he supposed to go down there? He didn't know, he could barely see through the darkness.

Walking down the byway, the merchant was immediately sandwiched between various warehouses. The space was much tighter, but still a comfortable distance. As he continued to look for his house, he heard a loud crash behind him, as if a piece of wood had been knocked over. Turning around, the merchant saw a dark figure from a distance away, disappearing behind a low wall. Probably a cat, honestly, he didn't really know. Continuing on his drunken journey, the merchant felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as he kept walking. His movements were becoming much more sluggish, probably because of this damn liquor he was drinking.

"You lost sir?" A pleasant voice could be heard behind the merchant as he slowly turned around. "You need help finding your house?"

"N-Nooo, a'ym preeety gooud." the merchant slurred his words, having difficulty speaking to the person. "Piss offfff."

"Are you sure, you don't look well sir." The person stepped closer, causing the merchant to raise his bottle above his head, unintentionally spilling the rest of the contents on top of himself. "Let me take care of you."

While the merchant was distracted by the liquor pouring on his head, the person stepped forward, produced a dagger from seemingly nowhere and plunged it into the merchant's chest. Pain shot through him as the merchant fell backwards, dropping the bottle, and landed on the ground, the person retrieved the dagger before plunging it into the merchant's chest once again. Again, the dagger left the chest, gleaming a dark colour before it entered his chest once more, only this time the drunk man did not try to resist, did not react, but only looked up at the starry night sky, the light leaving his eyes.

The person remained with the body for another few minutes before picking the dagger up and hurrying away from the body. The body remained however, a dark pool of blood already starting to form in the alleyway. The Tamarask Butcher had struck again.

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Rodez
Diplomat
 
Posts: 743
Founded: Oct 18, 2016
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Rodez » Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:18 pm

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Kallias Eight-Fingers
Azur Straights, Approaching Tamarask
Aboard the Parvana Dreaming


The body was beautiful. Attired as it was in cloth-of-gold, Kallias mistook the corpse floating gently in the sea as some kind of chest at first. But then he saw a pale, delicate hand and the features of what had been a young woman, suspended just inches under the surface of the water. She looked perplexed somehow -or would have- if the enterprising denizens of the Azur Straights hadn't already gone to work on her, nibbling away bit by bit as she drifted on by the teeming carrack.

"That's bad luck, that is. Dress that heavy'll drown the broad, even if she could've swam."

Kallias glanced up. He stood nearly a foot taller than the thin, wrinkled wisp of a man who was now leaning halfway out with one hand on the rigging and the other running through a thinning shock of white hair.

"Yuri you old codger! Shouldn't you be on the Braskoviya,?" Kallias asked with a grin. "What are you doing on my boat?"

Yuri Tytovsky, career pirate, pointed a spindly finger northwards. "It's Tamarask, Admiral. I wanted to see it."

Kallias gazed that way. The dark blur of the city was coming into view on the horizon, but they were too far out for him to see any details. "I think we stopped here once, over a decade ago," he shouted, struggling to be heard as a sudden gust of wind whipped by and lifted his blonde hair, tossing shoulder-length banners in every direction. "But I can't recall coming here otherwise. What makes it special to you? A woman?"

Yuri shook his head. "My boy."

Kallias could understand that. Far away -a continent away- there was a boy and girl of his own. It stung that they couldn't be here with him now, hanging from the rigging and breathing in salt. But a larger part of him didn't want them here. Better that they were with their aunt in Eionia, experiencing some semblance of a normal life. A pirate fleet was no place for raising children. He could choose to be a pirate lord or a good father - but not both. He'd made that decision years before, and was at peace with it.

Yuri gestured back towards the approaching city. "What's the plan here?"

Kallias released his grip from the rigging and leapt back to the solid oak planking of the Parvana Dreaming's poop deck. A dozen or so sailors bustled about, checking this or that line or one of the sails. Standing at the wheel as he always did was the ship's helmsman Caro Zamarji. He gave the admiral a cursory nod, barely taking his eyes off the sea. Zamarji the Adryme had few interests outside of nautical navigation - and since even Kallias Eight-Fingers was not a nautical instrument, he was not interesting.

"The plan is to reprovision the fleet here," said Kallias, turning back to Yuri. "The men can kick back for three or four days. Then we'll turn east up the Zelmar coast, pick a few middling targets in Valamir, and make our way back to Nekhur with some modest loot. It's past time I went home for a spell."

Yuri nodded sagely. "They say pirates live on the sea, but that isn't really true. Everyone has to go home at some point, sir. I'd still like to be buried in dirt and not be fish supper."

"Well go back to your ship then, Tytovsky," Kallias growled playfully. "Or I'll put you on a hook and cast you into the sea for whale-bait."

"No eye-gouging, Admiral? As I recall, that is your favorite threat."

"Eye-gouging after, Captain."

"Very good sir."

"One more thing - new orders for the fleet. Fly the Eight-Finger banner, so the Tamaraski know we're not about to try to pillage their city. Second, third and fourth squadrons are to hang back in the straits - don't want the whole fleet trying to dock at once."



Three hours passed before the brackish waters of the harbor embraced the caulked hull of the Parvana Dreaming. A Tamaraski skiff approached to escort the carrack into the city docks, the Marines casting anxious glances at the infamous flag that fluttered from the top mast: against a golden field, two hands clasped as if in greeting. On one hand, two bloody stumps gripped where the pinky and ring fingers should have been. Kallias caught one Marine's eye and threw him a whimsical three-fingered salute. He smirked as the blood drained from the man's face at the sight of his famously disfigured hand. I'm still the monster of the seas, it seems.

Tamarask
Later


Kallias' welcome to the City of Fire had been what he was expecting: courteous but cold. The seven mages who ran the city were not fooling around with its administration; he found the well-ordered and policed streets a much calmer place than during his last visit.

The crews of the Parvana Dreaming and the Braskoviya were out and about among the city's taverns and whorehouses, with other ships of the first squadron in the process of docking. All were under strict orders not to make nuisances of themselves. Which, in the piratical world, meant no wanton slaughter or thievery. Kallias knew there was sure to be a drunken brawl or three; but that was the case with any crew at sea for weeks. He trusted his captains to keep the men the men in line. All of them understood that the Eight-Finger Fleet couldn't make enemies with every city, or they would have no safe ports in all of Minilar. They had precious few outside of Nekhur as it was.

News of Kallias' presence in the city spread quickly. Not long after he disembarked from the Parvana, a small column of mercenaries was dispatched to the docks. The Seven had an invitation for him.

*****


Kallias listened to the one they called 'Slight' give his speech. A tense moment passed as the leader of the Seven finished and seemed to look to the soldiers for support. Kallias fretted that they might not give it. But then they erupted in affirmation, and the other mages seemed to nod approvingly.

He was short on details, though, other than the fact that Tamarask planned on expansion. He turned to Slight, unsure what title, if any, the mage held. "You'll have to help me understand," he said. "What am I doing here? I came to your city to resupply my fleet, not to critique oratory. If you have some kind of offer, I'd like to hear it."
Formerly known as Mesrane (Mes), now I'm back
Joined April 2014

Go Cubs, Go!

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Elerian
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Founded: Aug 31, 2012
Father Knows Best State

Postby Elerian » Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:18 pm

Tamarask Council Chambers


Everyone at the table turned to look at Kallias as the well known pirate spoke up. Kallias Eight-Fingers was infamous among the merchantmen of Tamarask, and most everyone at the table had at least heard of him before. In years past, when the Guilds still ruled Tamarask, they had decided the best course of action was to allow the Admiral safe passage and resupply rather than risk losing more warships trying to eliminate him. That didn’t always mean that Tamaraski ships weren’t targeted by the Pirate lord, just that they always retained their lives when things were said and done.

With that kind of reputation, Kallias could also be seen by some as a powerful tool.

“What am I doing here?” the pirate lord asked.

Slight was the one who addressed him, “Ah, Kallias Eight-Fingers, our esteemed guest. That is a valid question. My name is Slight, and my compatriots and I have a task for you and your fleet if you’re willing to work for honest pay.”

Slight and his cabal had grand visions that stretched beyond Tamarask itself. Despite its great value, there were greater prizes to be won. And despite their combined might, they could seldom see their dreams come to fruition alone.

“Three petty realms lie close to Tamarask’s borders. They quarrel amongst themselves with sharp voices over those things that interest them. But we who are wiser, know that they could be so much more” he said. As if he understood some inner truth.

Perhaps it was the innate power they possessed, or maybe mages were just blessed by the gods to be eccentric. It wasn't known why Slight does any of the things he does. Even his oldest companion, Leech, did not quite understand him. He was never very rational. Two does not follow one in his schemes, nor did three come before four. He was capable of expending incredible energies on the execution of a prank, but he was also capable of destroying towns without ever being able to explain why. You can know what he is doing but not why or you can know why he is doing something but not what. No rhyme or reason could explain Slight, which made his leadership of Tamarask and the Cabal all the more inexplicable.

Just then, the door to the Council Chamber opened again. Strangely enough, a large dog with red eyes padded its way through the doorway. Everyone else in the room stiffened at the sight of the canine, all except Slight. His face lightened as if seeing an old friend after many years.

“Ah, Frogface, you’ve come to join us after all then.”

Frogface, as he was known, was in fact not a dog at all. Kallias would come to learn that the dog was some sort of demon conjured into the material world by Slight. Despite his extensive knowledge of Demonology, Sage wasn’t even sure of Frogface’s origin. If he knew what Frogface was, Slight deigned not to share. Although ostensibly Frogface’s master, it was unclear at times if Slight truly had control over the creature. The unease that Frogface instilled in Slight’s fellow mages was made evident by the fact that even Cinder, who was seldom ever unnerved, was made uncomfortable by the being’s presence.

The strange dog let out a low whine as if in response, and then sat on its haunches. Slight turned his attention back to Kallias. “We seek to strike at Valore. If you wish to join our cause, we would have you strike at their lesser dominions to the West and North. While their attention is elsewhere, we Seven will strike at their home city. If you mean to help us, you must sail West in three days time. If not, we will allow you a few days to resupply and ask that you then sail East. So what say you Lord Eight Fingers?”

Those seated at the table looked at the Pirate expectantly.
Last edited by Elerian on Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Marzarbul
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Marzarbul » Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:22 am

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Kingdom of Draupnir, Fjorn

As the last grain of sand slid its way down the smooth convex shape of its container a dwarf casually resting upon a small wooden stool grumpily arose. His face was a mass of wrinkles like worn leather and eyes of dull green. Splotches of various sizes adorned his simple woolen garb and a small iron triangle was nestled amongst his silver beard with a leather strap to his neck. Each step he took towards the hourglass in the center of the room felt like hammers being slammed upon his legs and lower back. Grimacing he limped his way forward with a groan and grabbed the hourglass. Smacking his dry lips he turned the glass over and looked to see if his fellow time keeper was moving to his appointed position. Growling slightly he saw the young dwarf still sitting on his stool in the corner playing with some sort of metal ring puzzle. Entranced with the various ways in which one can manipulate the pieces into various shapes and forms. "Ya willow waisted nit wit, can't ya see that its a new glass. Get ya above and announce the new time!"

With a start the young dwarf pocketed his trinket and bounded towards the stone staircase. His small goatee rustled slightly as he hurtled up the stairs. His bright azure eyes betrayed fear as he hoped he wouldn't be too late in announcing the new hour and displease his great grandfather. Reaching the top he barged through the metal door onto a roof top terrace overlooking the city. In the center of this open space were two large wooden drums that was covered in runes and other sigils with a space in the middle between them. Taking out two large wooden batons he took his place between the two drums and began to beat out in rhythmic fashion a message to the nearby residences of the change in time. Taking a deep breathe he exhaled in relief to hear the faint beating of other drums repeating the message around the city. As he finished the last drum beat he looked at the Knottr Towers and saw the burning runes etched onto the central pillar changing in shape and color. As he sat a moment and watch the numbers upon its side morphed from eleven to twelve and the bright yellow hue turned to a bright orange. Putting the batons back into the loops on his belt he stood up slowly and meandered back down the stairs to his awaiting great grandfather.

He knew he would be getting a talking to but that was par for the course with his shift for today. Luckily their relief would be arriving soon so the tongue flaying shouldn't last for too long. Reaching the bottom of the stairs he was greeted by a glare unmatched by any dwarf besides those who have lived under the earth as long as the stones themselves. "Alexsander," the sound emanating through clenched teeth as the young dwarf slowly approached as if coming near a rapid wolf. "Grandfather I," the words died in his throat as the elderly dwarf slowly shook his head and pointed back to Alexsander's stool. Nodding he hurried over to his seat and marveled at his luck at the lack of a long diatribe about the importance of attentiveness in time keeping. A few moments later another set of dwarfs arrived; one as elderly as Great Grandfather and the other Alexsander's cousin. Standing up from his spot Alexsander began to inspect his relief to make sure he was ready to assume his post but as he finished he saw that the two older dwarfs began moving their hands using the silent form of communication favored by miners. Nodding finally the other elder dwarf looked upon Alexsander and in one swift stroke ended any hope he had of going to the tavern and relaxing for the rest of the day. "You are to stay young Alexsander for another six glasses. Baruch will relieve you then." Cousin Baruch grinned and bolted out the door and great grandfather slowly followed afterwards. A gleam of merriment in his eyes as he passed his great grandson continuing to stand flabbergasted. Soon Alexsander settled back into his seat as he waited for the next glass to turn muttering a prayer to be delivered from this hell.

The slow beating of the drums continued throughout the city as life continued as it ever had. Soon the Grand Moot would be held and the course of the Confederation would be determined for the next two years.

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Benuty
Post Czar
 
Posts: 36465
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Benuty » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:51 pm

Dødsprestene hus [House of the priests of Death]
Dødenes hager [Gardens of Death]
Bloodsworn konføderasjon [Bloodsworn Confederacy]


The weather marked the solemn nature of the occasion. The rain poured for what seemed like hours as the priests surrounded the dying kin.
Garantert, his name meaning assured in the local tongue of the confederacy a fitting name for a life well-lived. Garantert, now aged five hundred, and one had seen the wonders the world had come to offer. He had journeyed throughout all of the lands of Nekhur and was even able to witness the conquest of the former kingdom of Tervain.

A cruel conquest, but one can suppose that all wars are inherently cruel since they are a violation of the natural will to survive. He told as much to that former royal Aliana, but she didn't listen and chose to abandon her people residing here in the confederacy as refugees, and exiles. Last he heard she was raising up banners of force in Monroyel, "such a pity, they will die horribly" Garanert thought. The aged bloodsworn watched in horror as her last army was chopped to pieces in battle. Yet now wasn't the time for such concerns...Garantert was dying.

He had known the moment he reached five hundred years of age that his body was beginning to break down. The contract allows the bloodsworn to live a long time by human standards, but eventually, age catches up with them harshly at five hundred. Some can live to be six hundred or seven hundred years ago with a few rare bloodsworn living one thousand, but the last to do that may have been the prophet himself. Age catches up with all bloodsworn, and they come to the gardens to die or if they cannot come here they are brought. The time was nearing as his skin began to turn translucent a sign the contract was coming to an end.

The Bloodsworn nearing death went through a phase in which their skin began to become translucent, and then normal only to rapidly progress until they finally died. The priests of death helped the dying bloodsworn to a stretcher and then carried him out into the rain. It seemed to go on for hours as the bloodsworn's breath slowed to a crawl with the rain pouring down on his face. At a clearing, he was laid down, and his kin awaited him. In the rain, a Sjelevaktmester [Soul Caretaker] was gently nursing the flowers before heading back to its hive. It came over to the priests who raised a cup up to him, and from its mouth came a secretion.

The priests attending Garantert brought the secretion over and lifted his head to taste from the cup. It was both bitter, and sweet at the same time in an explosion of conflicting flavors. Family members came over and placed a funerary mask on his head with his name, and clan engraved in it alongside a miniature of him, this way family members could find, and mourn him as they had countless others. Following this, Garantert's skin became translucent once again but didn't turn back, and his breathing became extremely shallow....then as his family members gathered around to hold him one last breath came out. "The soul is now free," a priest attending the family said...within seconds the body began to gently form crack lines, and out of it formed miniature flowers that grew twice their size in minutes as the body disappeared to feed the new life.

"The risen God has proclaimed a new life in exchange for an old one, the soul now free will come again one day my children...count your blessings kindred for a new day dawns amongst us all. In this secretion may you be reminded of the bitterness, and joy of life...go in love my children" the priest said as he handed the cup of the secretion to the person nearest him. They all chanted "go in love", and each tasted of the secretion a holy ritual partaken only upon the birth, and death of a bloodsworn. A man adorned in the honored uniform of the order stood afar watching the ceremony "I always feel uncomfortable watching this ceremony, but given his status....it didn't seem right not to come". A woman stood by him "Wolfheart, you say this every time there is one of these...we may never be truly at home with these people, but I would think after the fifth time this wouldn't be as uncomfortable?".

"Its death Bladet, nothing can ever prepare us for this not even witnessing the war in Tervain could have made us cope". The two continued to bicker until a priest came up to them "My friends, must we bicker on such an occasion as this? It is a bad omen to do such a thing here in this holiest of times, but regardless you two will have bigger concerns quite soon...the rebellion in Tervain continues to grow...I expect we will need all the help we can get to accommodate the refugees once they cross our borders should it fail". The two nodded with Bladet speaking up "I remember the refugees pouring over our border's last time...it didn't help that those poor people were nearly starving to death...we need to head back to Lower Hellig Fjell, and rally the guards to gather supplies. Wolfheart, Bladet, and the priest bowed in respect toward one another, and began to part ways each preparing for the coming weeks, and months in their own way.
Last edited by Benuty on Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Reverend Norv
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Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:51 pm

Near the Village of Callis
11 Leagues from Torrel
Kingdom of Tervain


It was good country for cavalry.

The Ironmark had fought three wars with Tervain. Hereward Brandling's father had led troops in the last one. The Mark had won all three, in large part because western Tervain was good, rolling, open country, without the bays and rivers of the east to break up the terrain, and on it the eórodain could ride like the wind.

Now the men of the Mark were back. But for the first time - however unofficial their presence - it was not as enemies, but as friends. And so the column of cavalry that moved over the grassland at a fast trot was a mixed force: two hundred eórodain advisers to seven hundred Tervine cavalry, the grizzled survivors of the Battle of Imbar. The difference was plain to see: where the Tervines were a panoply of color, heraldric surcoats and banners fluttering, the eórodain were clad in drab buff leather and moss-colored riding cloaks, with Colborn steel armor shining mirror-bright upon each man's arms and shoulders and torso. And whereas the Tervine horses moved along in column agreeably enough, the hwiðas of the Mark were forever gazing about, whickering softly, engaged in some silent but constant communication with each other and with their riders.

Now, one such hwiða and rider came galloping back toward the head of the column from a scouting mission over the next rise. Even after a lifetime among the horse-kings, the sight still brought an instinctive smile to Hereward's face: such was the clean beauty of the hwiða in motion, topping forty miles per hour without any obvious exertion, like God's whirlwind breath given form and grace. The rider came to a halt in front of Hereward: less reining the hwiða in than trusting it to know his purpose, and to stop where he desired. But what Hereward saw in the other Marker's face made his smile vanish swiftly indeed.

"Eadfrid. Report."

The scout nodded once. "Balorenes," he replied briefly. "About a thousand. No cavalry. There was a village in the lea of that headland."

"Was?" It was only half a question.

Eadfrid nodded. "Was."

"Damn them." That was Redwald Weardling, Hereward's maeghand - the second-in-command of a fyrd of eórodain. He was a careful man, steady, and there was no fury in his words: just the contempt of a professional soldier for those who did not follow the laws to which he had pledged his life.

"This is Mnesus," Hereward said quietly. "He wants to make an example: to show that even if a Southron leader can triumph on the field of battle, the cost to his people will be unbearable anyway." Through his saddle, he felt Feácandel flinch in recognition - perhaps at the content of the words, perhaps only at their tone - and then whinny in disgust. Hereward shook his head. "It is an object lesson."

"We should attack." The Count of Selane was the Tervine commander; still a young man, he had known Hereward since the Battle of Varla, and tended to defer to the eórl despite his own feudal rank. But now the count was angry: Selane struck his saddle-pommel with a mailed fist. "Send them an object lesson."

"It will be harder to screen our movements," Redwald noted, "if we leave the country crawling with Balorenes."

Hereward nodded. "Count, take your men to the headland, and keep them below the crest. I will take half our fyrd over the top, harry the foe, and bait them out of the village and toward you, into open ground. Then you charge over the headland and crush them. Redwald, hold the other half of the fyrd in reserve to chase down any survivors." Hereward unhooked his Colborn-steel burgonet from his saddle and settled it on his head. "Like you said, we don't want any left to report on our movements."

Redwald gave a brief nod, and clicked his tongue to his hwiða. Horse and rider turned, and Redwald rode off down the column, calling out groups of eórodain to follow him. As the other Markers coalesced around Hereward, he gave Selane a brief nod. "God be with you, Count."

Selane smiled, and closed the visor of his helmet. "And all the gods with you, Eórl."

* * *


Eadfrid the scout had been right. Callis had been a village. Once.

Hereward crested the headland with a hundred eórodain, but he could smell Callis well before that. Woodsmoke. Charred meat. Something dank and rancid. He saw what he expected to see: the plume of greasy black smoke, the cooling ash-heaps, the cooling bodies. The eórodain formed a line atop the hill-crest: if Hereward wanted to bait the enemy, he needed his riders to be fully visible. In the village below, perhaps a half-mile away, hundreds of men in mail and leather sat and roasted meat over the embers of villagers' homes, or cleaned their weapons, or rounded up livestock. One hut was still mostly standing, and Hereward could hear - even from that distance - a woman's hoarse screaming from behind its door. Between his knees, he felt Feácandel trembling with fury.

"Let's get their attention," Hereward growled.

The Balorenes had been fighting the Mark for centuries, but they did not expect to see eórodain in Tervain. In the distance, one of their watchmen looked up at the headland above the village and saw it alight with glimmering stainless steel. He leaped to his feet, and started to scream an alert.

Eadfrid nocked an arrow and stood up in his stirrups so that he could bring his whole body to bear upon his bow. He drew and loosed in a single smooth twisting motion of his legs and hips and back. The eórod bow was short - about four feet long - and deeply recurved, backed with horn and sinew until its draw weight was about 130 pounds. Eadfrid's arrow flew as fast and hard and flat as a crossbow bolt, and punched straight through the Balorene lookout's chest.

They were not sloppy, these hill-men, Hereward reflected. Three other Balorenes were suddenly on their feet, shouting at the top of their lungs; then a dozen. With careful discipline, the line of eórodain moved forward at a trot: the hwiðas paused every few steps to give their riders a stationary platform from which to shoot, and arrows began to lash the ruins of the village, sending men toppling and bringing the others to their feet. Within a minute, hundreds of angry Balorenes were sprinting uphill toward the eórodain, hoping to close the distance and come to grips with their tormentors.

"Steady," Hereward called to his men. "Steady." This was always the tricky part. One by one, in the face of that wave of armed men, the eórodain peeled off and rode at an easy canter back toward the headland. Each man twisted in the saddle as he withdrew and continued to fire behind him, over his hwiða's croup. Hereward was among the last to vanish out of the Balorenes' sight over the crest of the hill.

On the other side were seven hundred veteran Tervine cavalry. Hereward dumped his bow back in its leather scabbard and drew his nine-foot lance from the boot alongside his saddle. He nodded to the Count of Selane. "They took the bait."

"Then we will finish it," the count replied. He raised his own lance. "Aliana!" The queen's name was a war-cry. "Aliana for Tervain!"

"Aliana for Tervain!" roared back seven hundred men. Hereward simply couched his own lance under his arm, and took a deep breath. And then Feácandel sensed the charge beginning, and they were away.

The Balorenes had almost reached the crest of the headland when eight hundred horseman with couched lances came over the top of it at a full gallop and crashed into the midst of them. It was not Hereward's first charge, but the noise of it still staggered him: dozens of tons of steel and horseflesh colliding at top speed with human flesh and bone. The first Balorene went down under Feácandel's hooves without time enough to scream, and Hereward's lance punched through the chest of the man behind him, and Feácandel's sheer forward momentum ripped the lance out again through the top of the man's shoulder, so Hereward slammed it into the groin of the next tribesman, and Feácandel shimmied to the side out of the way of a halberd and broke that man's neck with a steel-shod hoof, so Hereward finally lost hold of his lance and drew his sword instead, and Feácandel moved his head to the left so that Hereward could thrust through the empty space and kill another Balorene, and then another after that, and then suddenly all he saw was men's fleeing backs, and the Tervine cavalry ran down the survivors like hounds after rabbits, and it was done.

So fast. In the moment, an eternity. But afterward, it always had happened so fast.

* * *


After ten minutes or so, the battle-frenzy faded from the Tervines, and they quit their pursuit to pick over the ruins of Callis in search of survivors. Redwald and his men were more disciplined; four hours later, after miles of remorseless hunting over the plains, they returned to the battlefield with several dozen Balorene prisoners half-dragged behind their saddles. Few had survived the initial charge: the Balorenes had been taken too completely by surprise. But one man who had - albeit only to be captured later - wore the bronze rings of a chieftain around his arms, and eyed Hereward with lordly disdain when Redwald dragged him to where the eórl was cleaning his rediscovered lance.

"You always have your tricks, lowlander," the chief spat. He spoke Aðadain, or perhaps Ajakir, or something in between; the border had a complicated effect on languages.

Hereward smiled wearily. "And you still seem to fall for them." He replied in Balorene: an unusual skill for an eórod, but not unheard-of. The eórl wiped his hands free of oil and blood on a rag. "Who gave you your orders?"

The chief smirked. "Lord Mnesus." He raised his eyebrows. "Aye, he is here. Does that give you pause, warlord?"

"No," Hereward replied flatly, and felt a petty tingle of gratification when the chief's face fell for a moment. "What else do you know of Mnesus' plan?"

The chief shook his head. "Why should I tell you? You know better to believe that your threats mean aught to a son of Balor."

"Mnesus is no son of Balor either," Hereward pointed out. "Why suffer aught for him, then?"

"Better the silver of Eatar than the steel of Colborn." The chief spat at Hereward's feet. "You drove us to this, lowlander. All those centuries, driving us into the mountains, harrying us even there for the pittance you left us - the gods' curse lay in waiting for you. Now is the hour." The man's eyes were alive with hate. "And after Prince Khosrov takes Monroyel, you are next."

Hereward was very still for a moment, and then he nodded. "Monroyel." He placed his hands on his knees and stood. "Thank you."

The chief's face contorted. "I - "

Redwald pushed the point of his sword through the back of the Balorene's neck, and the chief went silent and peaceful as the spinal cord was severed. The men of the Mark did not torture, but neither did they keep prisoners. Redwald looked at Hereward. "If Prince Khosrov is riding for Monroyel, he will have the whole of the Fourth with him. We cannot face that with two hundred eórodain."

"No," Hereward agreed. "It is time. My cousin will have to see reason now and raise the black banner. We have never shirked from facing Nekhur before. We cannot start now."

"It is more than a hundred leagues from here to Ethandune," Redwald warned. "And even if the Warden agrees, it will take at least a week, maybe two, to gather the thousands we need. And then to come all the way back..."

"I ride in an hour," Hereward confirmed grimly. "The minutes matter, now. And even so, you will need to take our men to Monroyel. See the Queen, see to the defenses. Buy us time, Redwald." The eórl offered his hand. "I will return."

"I know." Redwald took Hereward's forearm in a warrior's grip. "But by God, sir, I hope you bring enough spears when you do."
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
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Krugmar
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Founded: May 06, 2012
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Krugmar » Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:42 pm

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Nekhur


Streets of Varla
Tervain, Nekhur


A pale sun lingered above, visible partially through small gaps in the cloud cover. The streets of Varla were dull and grey, a lifeless echo of the sombre mood gripping all Tervain. Yet people still shuffled through the streets, merchants peddling their wares, busybodies prying their eyes through cracks of boarded windows. The stalls were often quite bare, martial law dictating rationing still in effect. Varla was still under siege.

This place was still foreign to him, its sights, smells, and people a new addition to his repertoire of travels. Though young he had visited many cities, all now under the watchful gaze of the Bull. He shivered slightly as he ran a hand over his shaven head. Some thief had pinched his cap, and he was far from one of their offices to request a replacement.

A shadow appeared in front of him, the alley next to the quire ken growing even darker. His mark had arrived. A tall man, muscular, with eyes so brown they appeared black, lined with red veins. His skin was pale, yet mottled as if he had toiled for years under the sun. He wore an elegant braid in the Talassan fashion, though his hair seemed thin and patchy in places. He was looking ahead, and did not seem to have noticed him.

“You have the package?” He asked.

The man looked him up and down, though his eyes were still focused ahead. “You are too young, boy, you cannot be my mark.”

He scowled, “I’ve seen twenty-five years through, and I’ve served the Imperial Post for ten of those. I think you’ll find I’m your mark.”

The man turned to leave. “Ili-Idinnam under Enlil-Bani, come to me Illuratum, bind my way” He said quickly, blurting out the code that had been given him to an hour prior.

The man stopped, “Illuratam heeds, Sisuthros is bound.” He said. He turned to him and gave him another inspection. “You have lost your cap, a blunder.”

“It was stolen.”

“A blunder.”

He shook his head, “Are you going to give me the package, Illuratam?”

Illuratam nodded, “To all you meet on the way, you are Sisuthros, Awil-Sin did not survive the binding. Make haste to Aqhat, there you will meet Smiling Ibi. He will guide you to your next destination. None are to see this package, or to know of it. It is hidden.”

“Discretion is key, it’s in our code.” Sisuthros said, reasoning that the creepy man had been informed his name by his superiors.

“It is in your skin.” Illuratam said, pressing his fingers into Sisuthros’ cheek. A sudden pain caused him to jolt back and slap Illuratam’s hand away.

“Did you just pinch me?”

“He is watching, make haste.”

“Who is watching?”

“Make haste.” Said Illuratam, departing the alley. He made little sound despite his size, and soon blurred into his surroundings.

“Talassans” Sisuthros said with a sigh, before departing the alley himself. It was only then that he noticed Sin-Gamil had retired, leaving the earth without light. By his reckoning he had spent some good hours speaking to Illuratam, and yet it had only felt like a few minutes. He had only taken the job to leave Tervain, a lifeless cold country, and yet now fully regretted it. His mark had felt wrong, and he had few doubts that this ‘Smiling Ibi’ would be any better.

The streets were now empty, and the cold biting. He wrapped a scarf around his neck and plopped the package into his backpack. The road to Aqhat would be long, and the sooner he arrived in the warmth of the north, the better.


╞═══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════╡


Ivory Hold, Monroyel
Free Tervain


A brief calm was over Monroyel, not even the all too common and tenacious wind stirred. The citizens below went about their day, seemingly unburdened by the politics of those residing in the tiers above. A white city carved into a mountain by elves millennia ago, its stone buildings had stood the test of time. Behind a gargantuan castle largely subsumed by the rocky outcrop of the mountain’s remnant was a vast tower, jutting skywards leagues into the heavens above. Despite centuries of searching, none had found a path to the tower via the castle’s many hidden passages, and every makeshift tunnel had ended in disaster.

Stood upon one of its many balconies was the resident queen, though she ruled little but a rump state. And now with the Balorenes burning and pillaging the countryside, it was to shrink further still.

Fires raged in the distance, far beyond what her eyes could see. To the south the realms barely noticed, but to the west an old beast of iron was stirring. Yet she could not shake the feeling that any potential liberators could easily turn conquerors should the Kisharites be driven off.

A storm loomed, and the calm was almost over.


╞═══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════╡


Old Palace, Varla
tervain, Nekhur


Imirian made his way through one of the castle’s many narrow hallways, having been indignantly summoned by the Regent of Nekhur, that damned Tyrian. His faithful servant, Alexes, accompanied him, the last of his entourage, the rest having been dismissed without his knowledge or permission.

He paused his stride to open the wooden door in front of him, but found it unwilling to budge. “Alexes.” He said, and his servant obliged.

The door did not budge. “I think it is locked sire.” He replied

Imirian pushed forward in a fit of rage and banged on the door. There was no reply so he did it again, and again for a third time. “Somebody open this blasted door.” He said.

It clicked. Alexes stepped forward and pushed it open for him. “Finally.” Said Imirian, stepping into a dimly lit but spacious room. To his surprise it was filled, and with a good deal of Tervine nobles. In fact it was filled with nearly every noble attending court, though none had even bothered to look at him, let alone give him the respect decorum, if not reality, allotted to him.
“You are late Imirian.” Said a familiar voice, one belonging to an upstart usurper.

“You’ll find that I-” He started, before changing his mind. “I don’t think you should address me by my name, Lord Mnesus.”

“I should think you would prefer Imirian over boy, no?” Said the Tyrian, smirking into a mirror. The Regent had not even turned to look at Imirian, much like those in the room, though he at least showed signs of life.

“Impudence as expected. Why have you summoned me, even for you it’s most irregular. And what is the matter with my nobles, even Calaghus, Marre, and Varron have not bothered to notice my presence.” He asked, truly confused at the situation.

Mnesus did not reply, staring intently into the mirror. Only now did Imirian realise that it was shattered, a few pieces missing here and there, but clearly having been lovingly re-arranged. It was extremely simple in design, yet had an uneasy elegance about it. He felt a great curiosity, but a boundless dread.

“I summoned them for a chat, but could not ascertain the traitor. All of them seemed guilty, so I have taken measures to ensure their obedience.”

Imirian moved forward, waving his hand in front of Marre’s face, though the man did not even blink. He seemed tense, in a great deal of pain, and his eyes screamed even as he remained expressionless. As though he was a prisoner, trapped in his own mind.

“Measures?” Said Imirian, his voice almost breaking from sheer fear.

“You would not understand the details, nor would you want to. But you are good with visuals.” Mnesus replied, snapping his fingers.

From Marre’s ear a small creature wriggled its way out, a small grotesque little thing of vibrant colours. Imirian could not recognise it. Marre shuddered and seemed to regain some of his senses, before the creature crawled back inside and he became a still as a corpse.

“As for why I summoned you, that should now be clear.”

Imirian needed no further explanation. His body moved instantly, though he slammed straight into a solid wall of a man and flew to the ground. “Alexes.” He cried as he pulled himself up, slightly dazed from having hit his head on the hard wooden floor.

But Alexes stood as still as stone, and Imirian realised his mistake. Imirian noticed that the large man, with mottled yet pale skin and an impressive yet thinning single braid, was holding a letter in his hand. His letter.

“The letters you have been writing to your sister have been touching. Imploring her to end the rebellion, promising her amnesty, truly inspiring. I even let them go to her, I was even happy with your progress as a client king. But this letter Imirian, this letter and your little plan to escape, very disappointing.”

Imirian began to quiver. He was not a coward, but what was to happen to him would shock even the bravest of men. “Please my Lord, burn the letter and I shall serve Nekhur. Please.” He implored.

“Not Nekhur, Me. And yes, you will.” Replied Mnesus. ”Illuratam.” Imirian shuddered as the large man grabbed his shoulder and braced him. A small round object was pushed into his ear, and the man chanted something for a few seconds. It cracked, and a slimy liquid began to fill his inner ear. Then something wriggled, small at first but growing larger as the slime seemed to dissipate. He felt a sharp pain and then experienced a loss of sensation. It was only then that he realised he could not move his arms. He was gazing through his eyes, but was merely a passive observer. He had to scream, but had no mouth.
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Liecthenbourg
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Postby Liecthenbourg » Thu Mar 19, 2020 6:33 am

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The Kingdom of Relya


The Gardens, The Solar Court, Arevitun
The Kingdom of Relya, Nekhur


In their beauty of the afternoon, the gardens within the Solar Court were a magnificent site. Swirling colours of orange arched around the expanse, kissing the leaves of trees and the petals of flowers. Water flowed and collected in stone pools. It was potable and fresh. Birds and insects, and little rabbits of all sorts, found themselves a home in this place. In nicer days, Vana herself would cut up apples and carrots and feed the creatures. Today was not one of those days.

Cushions had been brought onto the marbled and tiled floors, making a comfy seating room in one of the natural alcoves of the garden. And she and her friends were here to discuss and to drink.

"There's a little part of me that is tired of all this," Vana admitted as she swirled a purple coloured wine in her hand. "I tire of sitting, contemplating, discussing. I have come to the point in my life where I truly believe I envy Khosrov."

It was not a close confidant she was speaking to, nor a member of her own immediate family. Merely a selection of female courtiers that she had decided would be her friends when she had laid eyes on them so many years ago. Even here however she knew she had to be careful with her tongue, lest Ziusudra's constricting grip found itself around those close to her.

They silently nodded as she confessed, each one with a barely touched glass of the wine themselves. This had become a regular monthly meeting. Its popularity on the part of the Queen had made it progress to fortnightly and then just weekly.

"Khosrov, my brother, is the luckiest of the two of us. Whilst I sit here treating with Ziusudra, or with boring policy, or with funerary functions for my friends and relatives -- he is doing something with his life. Now as we speak, he is marching to Monroyel with a host far larger than any here has likely ever seen." The Queen slumped in her seat, her eyes rolling from each one of her courtiers. She ran her tongue over her teeth, purple stains now present on them.

"Drink," she commanded. "Drink!"

Each one nodded and slowly began to sip on their cups. The vintage was good and sweet and fruity. Cool and refreshing. It wasn't to say they didn't want to drink; they had merely hoped by exercising moderation Vana would have followed suit. She, unfortunately, had not followed by their example.

"I don't understand it, really. I am normally content with my lot in life. There is little to not like. But the death of my uncle has left me... wondering. It is dire and strange times indeed." Their faux-concerned expressions, to Vana, represented something she could not deal with. She raised her hand in dismissal and sent them on their way.

"Do you think she heard anything we were saying?" she swore she heard one of her friends ask to another. That made her empty out the drink in her hand onto a nearby plant in concern and confusion.

It took her around half an hour, but Vana got to her feet and had regained most of her senses by the time she had noticed Ziusudra enter the room.

"Ah, ambassador Ziusudra -- to what do I owe the pleasure?" Her smile was broad and wide, friendly almost, and she held her hands in a docile gesture over her lap. Ziusudra, to his credit, repaid the smile in kind and offered the fainest of curt nods and minuscule bows.

"We would like to investigate the offices of your late uncle, Ghazaros Tovmasian, for our own analysis of the situation is inclined to believe some sort of foul play."

The expression that sprawled across Vana's face was indescribable in its fury and anger.



En-route to Monroyel, Folven
Tervain, Nekhur


The battle lines were an array of colours and fabrics. The Sun Standard of Relya, a black moon and a yellow sun on a field of pink, fluttered in the breeze alongside the Bull of Nekhur; a bronze bull's head on a field of light blue.

The smile that spread across Khosrov's lips was one of the few times he could recall himself genuinely smiling in some time. Monroyel had been a city of the Tsovomar in a time long forgotten. The lineage of Arslanian had claimed descent from the elves that had been pushed out of ancient Tervain through one of the families they had married into in eons passed. Khosrov did not expect that Nekhur would permit the elves to hold the ancestral city; that white stone city carved into the mountains.

Yet he was staring at a different prize: Folven. Folven's subjugation would bring about the much needed continuation in his supply lines if he was to properly attempt to besiege the city of Monroyel. Folven for all its worth and might was not as important or as defensible as Monroyel, nor did the elf expect the defenders to hold up as much of a resistance as those protecting their queen further south.

Scouts had reported several forces nearby. This has confused Khosrov, for he could not for the life of him recall what commander he had known to be active in the area. But it mattered not: they would likely not be in sufficient number to pose as significant of a threat to the Fourth as they had anticipated. And if their intention was to slow him down, he would storm Folven by force if it was required of him.

The air was thick and the tension was high. The day was overcast. An eerie silence had imposed itself on the surrounding countryside and the Fourth itself was remarkably quiet: the bow-maidens sung no songs of glory, the Kisharites stood in solemnity and the horses did not even neigh. Even the monstrously huge warbred keratodon, with its howdahs and platforms adorning its back, made little more than an over-exaggerated chewing as it ate grass and hay in abundance.

"Let's make this quick," Khosrov had told the assembled officers at his tent. "We shall send the missive for surrender. The surrounding countryside for quite some distance has been put to torch; though by the defenders or by some of our more aggressive fellow armies it is not entirely clear. Make the promises of food and shelter, protection and compassion. Inspire some lingering doubt in the minds of the commoners. Even if it fails, it matters not. We do not diverge from Nekhur's policy. For we shall slaughter them if surrender is rejected again."

The unwavering determination in the eyes of the Kisharites was a sight to behold. And if they felt it, the Elves held their apprehension behind stoic faces.

"If they reject the surrender", Khosrov continued, reaching for a sword propped up against the side of the tent. Even its scabbard could not contain the streaks of orange light that almost burnt through it. "If they reject the surrender, we put the town to siege. We bombard Folven with every arrow, rock, boulder and spell any of us can muster. We will storm the city and put the people to slaughter or to work, or even to sell into slavery into the deserts of Nekhur. And then the people of Tervain and their brigands and bandits will know that it means a southron will win nothing."

"And if they meet us in the field?" one of the Kisharite officers asked.

"Then let it be the last act of defiance they can muster," the Prince retorted.
Impeach the Mayor of Lego City Legalise Falling into the River The Rescue Helicopter Needs to be Built! HEY!
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Reverend Norv
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Posts: 2953
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:23 pm

Ivory Hold
Monroyel
Kingdom of Tervain


They came into Monroyel at a hard gallop, hwiðas steaming with sweat. The Count of Selane and his Tervine cavalry were still half a league behind, but Hereward's words were ringing in Redwald's ears: "The hours matter, now." Redwald believed it, and he was not going to wait.

A hwiða at full gallop moved faster than anything the average Tervine had ever seen; only a tromosaur could come close to matching it. The guards at the Monroyel gate leaped out of the way as the eórodain thundered through, mud dripping from their cloaks, their saddles laden with lance and bow and sword. They clattered through the gate into the white city carved out of the mountain: rough men of iron amid the graceful Elven buildings. Redwald offered the guards a brief nod. "Any news?"

"No sign of the Bull here," one Tervine soldier replied. "So far." His demeanor was cautious, almost resentful: a soldier frustrated to find himself obliged to accept help from his country's old enemy. "Out there?"

"A thousand fewer than there were a few days ago." Redwald's tone was grim. "Let's hope it makes a difference." He stood up in his stirrups and waved to his riders. "Tend to the hwiðas!" It was always the first order, whenever eórodain came into camp. "And get some sleep. We ride at dawn tomorrow."

The eórodain trotted slowly away; Redwald watched Tervine townspeople duck out of the way of the riders, giving the Ironmarkers a wide berth. But the old soldier had other business to see to. Redwald turned his hwiða's head toward the great white tower at the center of the city, and murmured a command, and then he was flying again, hearing sparks fly from the great beast's hooves as it bounded toward the Ivory Hold.

The guards here were more careful; they peered at Redwald's face, and then went to talk to some Tervine aristocrat, and then took the Marker's sword before they finally let him dismount and pointed him up a spiral staircase. At the top of it, Redwald found Aliana. The queen stood on a balcony, staring out over the white city. This high up, the wind moved Redwald's dark hair, lank and matted with sweat from his helmet. He looked at Aliana's graceful shoulders, her gold crown. He told himself that he was an eórod of the Mark, unafraid to stand before royalty. He worked hard to believe it.

The conversation was mercifully brief. Redwald told Aliana that Prince Khosrov was marching on Monroyel, with all the Fourth with him. He told her that the enemy would be before the white city in no more than a month. He told her that Hereward Brandling had ridden for Ethnadune to try to convince his cousin, the Warden, to bring the full force of the Ironmark to bear in Tervain's defense. He told her, honestly, that he did not know whether that would happen.

He told her that he would stay, no matter what. Those were his orders. He would buy her all the time he could; every hour he could purchase with the lives of two hundred eórodain. He told her that he hoped it would be enough.

He did not lie. It was the best he could do.

Afterward, he brushed and fed and watered his hwiða, and lay down next to her in the straw of the stable, and slept for seven and a half hours. He did not dream. At dawn, he rose with leaden limbs, and saddled his mount, and two hundred men of the Mark galloped back out through the gates of Monroyel. They made for the fortified town of Folven - for killing, and for dying.




Grenian Stream
1 League East of Folven
Kingdom of Tervain


"Some thousands," Eadfrid the scout said quietly. "More than twenty. Fewer than sixty. Beyond that?"

Redwald nodded with grim understanding. Estimates of an enemy's numbers, once they reached the tens of thousands, were always an inexact science. Besides, it hardly mattered. For two hundred Markers, twenty or sixty thousand foemen might as well be the same thing.

Almost a full league separated the two eórodain from the walls of Folven, and from the host that besieged it. Three days' hard riding had brought them hence from the gates of Monroyel; the remainder of the fyrd rested with their mounts in the lea of a low hill, hidden from the sight of the Nekhur host. At the crest of that hill, Eadfrid and Redwald stood with their hwiðas, the telltale gleam of their Colborn steel armor hidden from keen Tsovamar eyes by their dun riding cloaks. At such a distance, they were visible only as two lonely travelers, avoiding the roads and the risk of encountering soldiers there.

From such a distance, too, the host of Nekhur was reduced to a sea of men, armor glittering in the weak morning sun like so many grains of sand. "Infantry, mostly," Eadfrid noted. "Elven archers and halberdiers. Kisharite regulars. Maybe some Nasaru, but not many. But a lot of Sidru troops - axemen."

Redwald squinted. "Some heavy horse. Elves too, I think. More light horse." He pointed to the screen of mounted scouts around the besieging army. "Definitely Sidru." The implication was clear: no match for eórodain.

Eadfrid's green eyes were resting on the keratodon. Even from a league's distance, it towered above the men around it, made ant-like with distance. "Have you ever fought one of those?"

Redwald shook his head. "But my father did, once," he replied. "Killed it, too." Eadfrid glanced skeptically at his commander, and Redwald smiled grimly. "Shot its legs full of arrows, and then stuck it with four lances. The last one pierced the heart."

Eadfrid put one foot in his hwiða's stirrup, and swung up into the saddle. "Good to know."

Redwald chuckled at the scout's dry tone, and the two men rode back down the hill, out of sight of the city, to where the other eórodain waited. As they approached the group of men and hwiðas, Eadfrid's mount suddenly drew up short. It raised its head to the breeze, and its nostrils flared. Eadfrid cocked his own head, and listened for a long moment. Then he spoke, quietly. "Oxen."

Redwald raised one arm and made a looping motion above his head, as if spinning a lasso on an Aðadain ranch. The two hundred eórodain of the fyrd mounted: silently, efficiently, the only sound the creaking of leather and scrape of Colborn steel.

"Twenty to forty thousand, you said," Redwald murmured.

Eadfrid nodded. "They will need forty or fifty wagonloads of food, per day. More, since the Balorenes have torched the countryside."

"Let's make them go hungry tonight," Redwald growled grimly.

The supply convoy was crossing Grenian Stream when the eórodain hit it. It was just over a league from the city: far enough that the sounds of battle would not reach the main Kisharite host. Nor was the convoy as large as Redwald had hoped: only fifteen wagons, enough to leave about a quarter of the Fourth hungry. But it was enough.

There were a few Tsovamar bow-maidens riding with each wagon, but the convoy's main escort was about a hundred Sidru auxiliaries - light cavalry, more used to scouting and pursuit than to battle. The two hundred eórodain waited until the wagons were slowed at the ford, and then came out of a patch of scraggly woodland a hundred yards from the stream at the full gallop. At top speed, hwiðas reached fifty-five miles per hour. They were in among the wagons in under ten seconds. The bow-maidens were fast enough to get off a few arrows, and Redwald saw several of his men topple. Some of the eórodain, even at that speed, returned fire from the saddle. An ox began to scream as a stray arrow slammed into its flank.

But the fight was with the lance, and it was over in under a minute. Redwald galloped up alongside one of the wagons, lance tight in his armpit, and punched a foot of steel and ashwood through the chest of the bow-maiden who guarded it, before she could nock another arrow. To his left, he saw Eadfrid drive his lance through the guts of a Sidru auxiliary, in above one hip and out through the other. The eórodain had the advantage of numbers, and armor, and speed. The Sidru scattered, and tried to flee, but no mortal horse in Minilar could outrun a hwiða. The armored Markers rode them down, and the streamwaters ran red.

None of the bowmaidens surrendered, even trapped as they were among wagons stuck in a stream. They slew five of the eórodain, and died bravely. Redwald honored them for that much, at least.

Afterwards, they burned the wagons. The smoke would draw Khosrov's attention: it would put him on his guard, force him to waste troops protecting his supply lines. Slow him down. Buy time for Monroyel.

But the smoke would also be visible from the city, and Folven would know: they were not alone. They still had friends. Hold on.




The Bronze-Hall
Ethandune
March of Ealliren (The Ironmark)


The Ironmark was not a country of cities. The Aðadain were a people of the steppe; their homes were scattered ranches upon the vast and rolling grassland, where the endless leaden sky could comfort their spirits. And so Ethandune was, by Nekhur standards, little more than a village: a maze of wooden homes and livestock sheds and stables, piled on top of each other upon a gently sloping hill, and protected by a rickety palisade.

Eight days after the battle at Callis, Hereward Brandling galloped through the gates of Ethandune. The guards at the gate recognized him: these were Aedelfrid's men, Brandling men, and they knew Hereward as well as they knew the Warden himself. They stood aside without a word. Feácandel raced through the dirt streets up toward the great oaken hall at the top of the hill, with its bronze runes carved into the walls and gables. As he reined in before the Bronze-Hall, Hereward could feel the hwiða's exhaustion, and his pride. He slapped the side of Feácandel's neck. "My good friend," Hereward murmured, and Feácandel whinneyed in exhausted recognition.

A woman marched determinedly toward hwiða and rider across the packed-earth square in front of the Warden's hall. Leofflaed Sumorling was tall, and beautiful in the Aðadain fashion: her face was all chiseled cheekbones and chin, symmetrical and unyielding. She took Feácandel's bridle and looked up at Hereward. "Will you stay?"

Hereward shook his head wearily. "I don't know yet. Aedelfrid needs to raise the Black Banner. I suppose I'll be staying until he does."

Leofflaed nodded thoughtfully, and stroked Feácandel's forehead. Then she looked Hereward straight in the eye. "It's good to see you."

For a moment, it was there in the air between them, thick enough to cut with a knife: loneliness, and need. Hereward allowed himself to hold Leofflaed's gaze, until he saw the ghost of a knowing smile behind her eyes. She leaned back her head, and her dark hair moved off her white neck. Hereward kicked his feet free of the stirrups, and slid to the ground alongside his hwiða.

They were face-to-face now. "Tonight?" Leofflaed murmured. Hereward nodded.

That was as far as they could go, in public. It was in the nature of things: an open secret still had to remain a secret, at least in name. Leofflaed led Feácandel away toward the stables. And Hereward turned, and trudged up the steps of the Bronze-Hall, and into the dark wooden space within.

The Warden of the Ironmark was not a king. He had no throne. But he did have a High Table: for the Bronze-Hall was designed for feasts, not formal audiences, and at the front of it - below a large window of precious Zelmarian glass - was an elevated table where the Warden could entertain his eórls and the elders of the Witangemot. It was at that table that Hereward found his cousin Aedelfrid. The Warden listened, eyes closed, rubbing his temples, while his dwarven secretary read the day's correspondence to him.

When the Bronze-Hall's door creaked open, Aedelfrid looked up and saw Hereward: a tall man, lean and strong but of greying hair, his cloak and armor spattered with mud from the road. The Warden waved a hand. "We'll pause there, Armann. For an hour." The dwarf nodded, and began tucking his parchments back into a leather bag.

The gate creaked again, and then the cousins were alone. For a long moment, Aedelfrid just looked at Hereward, and Hereward looked back, and suddenly realized: the Warden looked old. Only fifteen years separated the two men, but Aedelfrid's dark hair had gone thin, and the skin was tight around his face and his bony wrists. Still, when he spoke, his voice had the calm, reassuring reasonableness that had won him his office at the Eórodmot. "Well met, cousin. What news from Tervain?"

"Prince Khosrov of Arevitun marches for Monroyel with the Fourth." Hereward pulled off one leather gauntlet and ran his fingers through his matted hair. "I sent Redwald and the fyrd to buy Aliana some time."

"Redwald is a good man," Aedelfrid observed.

"The city will not hold." Hereward turned to the Warden. "They will fight harder, thinking we are on our way to relieve them. And when Monroyel falls, Mnesus will punish them all the worse for their defiance."

"I told you not to make assurances." Aedelfrid's tone was regretful, not reproachful.

"Our presence was an assurance. Our blood was an assurance." The words were out before Hereward could stop them, and only afterwards did he realize that he didn't care that he had spoken out of turn.

Aedelfrid sighed. "Out with it, then. You would have me raise the Black Banner."

"Better now than when Mnesus is on our doorstep."

Aedelfrid nodded. "I understand the concern. But we do not yet know Mnesus' full intent."

"Yes. We do." Hereward took a few steps toward his cousin. "We captured a Balorene chieftain, a man who was given his orders by Mnesus himself. He says that we are next." The general shook his head. "Aedelfrid, you do not know this man. I studied in Myrrha. God, I was invited to a banquet at Mnesus' house once. He is not like his forefathers. He will not stop until he washes his sword in the Azur Straits. And he has the means to make that happen."

Aedelfrid raised a hand. "Hereward, I understand what you are saying. But even if that is true, this threat is all the more a threat to the whole of the South, and we need to stand together with our neighbors in resisting it."

"So stand with Tervain!" Hereward cried. "While there is still a Tervain to stand with."

A muscle twitched in the side of Aedelfrid's jaw. Doubt. For the first time, Hereward felt a flicker of hope. When the Warden continued, his voice held more stubbornness than conviction. "I have sent envoys to Tamarask. With naval support, we can close on Tervain from land and sea at once, and divide Mnesus' forces."

"There is no time." Hereward's words were flat. "No time, Aedelfrid. I covered a hundred leagues in the last eight days. Such is our haste. We cannot wait for Tamarask."

"But we will." Aedelfrid stood suddenly, and looked Hereward directly in the eye. "Because only one Brandling is Warden of the Mark."

For a moment, the room seemed very cold. Hereward met his cousin's gaze and did not look away, and the threat moved unspoken through the space between them: the appeal to the Witangemot. The political power struggle. The election, contested by a war hero.

Aedelfrid blinked once, then again, longer; and his fingertips dug into the bridge of his nose. "We wait for word from Tamarask," he repeated, far more weakly this time. "We wait one month." A pause. "And we use that month to raise the Black Banner, and gather enough eórodain to face Khosrov and the Fourth. Then we ride." The Warden's voice was heavy. "With, or without Tamarask."

Hereward thought of Redwald, fighting for every minute he could buy. He thought of Leofflaed, waiting for him in a warm bed. He thought of Aedelfrid, and how old he looked.

He asked the brooding God of Ymbren for forgiveness, and nodded. "Then let the Warden's word be done."




Council Chambers
City of Tamarask
Realm of Tamarask


Ceolmund Brandling was not the greatest warrior of the Ironmark, not by a long shot. He knew this because when he was seventeen, a Balorene barbarian had chopped halfway through his face with an axe. He hadn't even killed the man afterwards. But he had been left with a hideous knotted scar that ran from his hairline to his jawline, and his cousin Aedelfrid - with the politician's keen instinct for appearances - had quickly grasped the fact that this made Ceolmund look like an Ironmark war hero. At least to people who had never met the real thing.

Ceolmund Brandling, in other words, was an ideal ambassador. Which was why he found himself at the door of the council chamber of Tamarask, bearing an urgent message from Ethandune. And he wished he was literally anywhere else.

For one thing, Tamarask was a real city. Like almost all Markers, Ceolmund did not like cities. He had ridden hard through Zelmary for more than two weeks, and that open sky had comforted his spirit. But here it was hidden by the crowded buildings that overhung the street, and the din of goldsmiths' hammers drowned out the wind. And the citadel of the Seven, with its mercenaries and bizarre plumes of blue flame? That was the worst of all. Now, as Ceolmund waited inside that citael, before the sealed doors of the council chamber, and listened to the dull noise of men and women orating on the other side - now, the realization dawned on him.

I do not want to be here. And the sooner I speak my piece, the sooner I can leave.

After a lifetime of playing the hero, that revelation suddenly gave Ceolmund all the courage he needed. He turned to the Iron Company sellsword beside the doors. "Excuse me," the Marker grunted. And before the man could stop him, he pushed the door open and stepped through into the chamber.

The Seven and their guests were confronted by a man cut from the traditional Aðadain cloth: very tall and burly, his limbs long and heavy. He was armored: Colborn steel plate glinted on his torso, thighs, shoulders, and arms, and tough buff leather covered everything else. The guards had taken his bastard sword, but the long scabbard still swung empty, high on his hip. His cloak was plain dun, stained by the dust of the road. His hair was short and dark. And a terrible, decades-old scar disfigured the entire left side of his face, knotting shut one of the bright blue eyes.

"I beg your excellencies' pardon," Ceolmund growled in Kisharite. The tongue of Nekhur was the language of diplomacy in northern Minilar, and Ceolmund had studied as a youth in Salatiwarwa. His eyes rested for a moment on Kallias, with recognition but without fear: the landlocked Ironmark had no cause to dread pirates. Then he turned back to the mages. "I regret the intrusion, but I bear word from Warden Aedelfrid of the Ironmark. News that will not wait."

Ceolmund clasped his hands behind his back. "The Warden has determined that Nekhur's aggression in Tervain has gone on for long enough. Mnesus' ambition has grown apace these last twenty years. And like a plague, the banner of the Bull spreads more quickly with each year that it is not contained. The time has come to make a stand, while we still can." Ceolmund nodded to Slight. "I do not pretend to understand your goals, but I know that control of this city matters to you. I promise, if we do not stop Mnesus, you will lose that."

"And so the Warden bids you sail for the Bay of Imbar: for Berden, and Maerdo. Strike from the sea while we strike from the land. Trap Nekhur's forces between two pincers. Teach Mnesus that the South is not so weak as he thinks." Ceolmund nodded to Kallias. "For plunder." He nodded at Slight. "For glory - so that the Collegiate and the Convocation can see what real power looks like." He squared his shoulders. "And for survival. For all of us."

"Time is of the essence," the emissary concluded. He glanced around the room. "I must ride tomorrow. What answer shall I bear to Ethandune?"
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:41 am, edited 3 times in total.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Liecthenbourg
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Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Liecthenbourg » Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:52 pm

Image

The Kingdom of Relya


Folven: A City Under Siege
Tervain, Nekhur


The terrain behind the siege line was littered in corpses and tattered banners. The grass was cut and trampled, stained red in blood, and the earth was uncovered and misshapen. Corpses had been piled and formed into hills, turning into pyres of flesh as they were set alight.

Khosrov had cut through an army of the Tervain as if it were as feeble as a plank of wood. His army's might, even beset with some logistical and supply lose due to the raids of what was presumed to be irregulars and light cavalry, had crushed one of the insurrectionist forces. Their recent victories had made them over-confident, he told his underlings. Their recent victories had made them feel invincible, unconquerable, just and powerful. And the Elven Prince had cut down one of these bold commanders himself.

The bards would sing of this day. Already he had had one of his minstrels begin to compose a song about the event: the heroism of the heavy horse and their lances. The majesty of the halberdiers in halting the Tervain charge. The blotting out of the sun from the tide of arrows. And so on.

In truth the battle was a bloody and sordid affair. Khosrov had led the elven cavalry on their charge, mopping up the straggles in the wake of the mighty keratodon. Its horns had been coated in blood, bone and guts by the end of the day and its teeth were stained in odd browns and greens. Their infantry crashed together in a mass of levies, with axes and swords becoming an interlocked tangle of metal and flesh. And the bravery of the halberdiers and their use was also exaggerated. Far more to their detriment came their attempt to rout the bow-maidens, who had concealed stakes and pits beneath their position on some hills. They were clean and clinical, holding no quarter for a horseman dismounted and thrown onto the field.

Yet even after this, when his emissaries approached the city of Folven -- where just by the battle had been fought -- their resolve was undeterred. Their resolve was iron. Twice did the emissaries arrive at their gates, promising peace and normality if the city was surrendered. And twice were they rejected. There would be no third attempt and when Folven was taken, there would be no quarter. The people would be rounded up, those skilled allowed to work, but those unfortunate enough to only know how to till the field would be moved or killed. It mattered not.

The price of defiance was high. Now, trebuchets and catapults were being constructed. Siege towers being raised from fallen trees. Rams whittled from logs. And what would dot Folven's city-scape would not be boulders and ruins flung from these engines, but the corpses that had not been burned. The city would become a centre of the sick and the weak and its people slaughtered.

"I do not like to wait," Khosrov spoke softly to his fellows in their command tent. "And I do not appreciate these... raids on our wagons. Now that the army in the field has been dealt with and these Tervain who survived can lick their wounds somewhere else; dedicate sections of the cavalry to sweep and scout and to defend our supply lines. We can't be running low." A small smile curled at the edges of his lips. "My Elves, for instance, are enamoured by the vinegar-pickled cabbage from the south: Zelmary, I believe. The bow-maidens believe it helps with their fortitude, their senses and their strength. And I cannot complain, it tastes too good to allow these bandits to take it."

"I believe it would be wise," one of the officers spoke "to inform our fellow armies in the region that our route to Monroyel has been halted by the presence of Folven and its determination to not surrender."

"A sound plan, indeed," the Elven Prince replied. "Prepare a missive and a messenger, and perhaps it would be best to inform Mnesus of the situation as well. To have him and his men prepared to for resistance in what territory we still considered to be under our control."



The Quarters of Ghazaros Tovmasian, The Monastery of the Sun and Moon, Arevitun
The Kingdom of Relya, Nekhur


"The man lived like this?" Ziusudra scoffed arrogantly, his hand splayed out in gesture towards a scattering of books, stacks of scrolls and an assortment of stacked up silverware that reeked of rotten food. The smell was a mixture of that and stuffy parchment and stagnant air.

Vana's eyebrows narrowed in distaste. "My dear Ziusudra, not all of us live around the women of company and lay among their daughters. Ghazaros had exquisite taste and eccentricities, but in Elven culture we do not speak ill of the dead." Now Vana gestured to rich paintings that shifted and moved in their positions

The man snorted out a reply but said nothing further, wandering over to the large doors on the far side of the circular room. He unlocked them, prying them open, and letting in the bright orange light of the afternoon. Without a word he stepped onto that balcony that circled the tower and disappeared from the Queen's view. Vana was pleased, at the very least, that the Kisharite had decided to come with her. When he had given her the news that his men's investigation concluded some form of foul-play, a hundred things had raced across her mind. Who? Why? When? For what? Each had no concrete answer. And that made her annoyed, frustrated, sad and angry all at the same time.

Part of her was annoyed that the Kisharites had conducted an investigation independent of her knowledge. Yet part of her was also grateful. The relationship between Nekhur and Relya was a relationship of master and subjugated. If Ziusudra had wanted, he could have ignored informing her. The fact that he did implied that he, or whatever Nekhur was planning, needed her help.

And it was not as if the Kisharites had destroyed everything. Far from it. They had been meticulous. Clean. Coordinated. Everything they regarded as suspicious they had left, clearly marked with upright metallic tablets engraved with letters. The first of these, "A", was propped up on the desk that Ziusudra had gestured to. Vana's eyes darted back and forth between the books.

The Elven Queen made her way to that wooden red desk, resting her hands against it as it creaked lightly under the added strain. Both her hands became painted in a thin layer of dust, leaving perfect prints on the table itself. Wiping them together and clear of the filth, she went for the first of the tomes near the letter. It was a wonderfully bound book, with a cover coated in script she couldn't read. She doubted the Kisharites could read it either. Prying the book open, it seemed scribbled and written decades ago. On one page, almost thirty pages in, was a text she couldn't read with a large flower. From its stem sprouted two red flowers on either side and at the top was a singular, larger, blue one.

"What were you doing with this, cousin?" she whispered to herself. And then she realised why the Kisharites expected foul-play may have been involved. Removing this first book showed the ones under it, with a dried puddle of blue coating the cover of one that had been under it. On closer inspection as she titled the text in her hand, she could see the same puddle having seeped into the bottom of the pages towards its bottom. She carefully placed the text she could not name to one side, away from the rest and began to look at the others.

This one was larger, the one with the dried puddle of blood obscuring a portion of its covering. She could just make out the letters that had escaped the potential attack; A Treatise on and then the top half of what she expected to read ... something ology. Opening to the front page revealed it for what it was: A Treatise on the Intricacies of the Soul. She then realised that the author was Ghazaros himself. Coy bastard.

Then she began to doubt herself, incredibly, for if the Kisharites were right -- that this was an attack -- what was to say that the perpetrator had not taken off anything that might incriminate them? Whatever Ghazaros had been working on so diligently to get him killed in the first place was clearly at stake here. If that was the case. She groaned an annoyed sound and she almost expected Ziusudra to come in to check up on her. He did not.

She spent a good time rummaging around those apartments. The room was fairly expansive, with an internal balcony that served as his sleeping quarters and half of an upper floor. Further down the tower were literally just boxes and crates and barrels; a mixture of provisions and alchemical and magical supplies. So she had decided to travel up rather than down. Up here was nothing of interest, save an armour stand with an impressive suit of armour that had been blown from glass. She had heard of these. From Zelmary. Intricate things. It was tailor made to Ghazaros' build, she assumed, given that it seemingly had the same dimensions as the rest of his clothing. She took a hand mirror from nearby and reflected some of the light that had been let in onto the armour. It refracted in a cascade of colours, painting the ceiling in reds, oranges and yellows and all the walls in every part of the rainbow. Yet... barely even illuminated the floor. Frankly, even the light that had bathed the room in colour and shades earlier, now that she came to think of it, had... done nothing.

And this revealed something that she had not gotten a proper look at before. It appeared as if there was a pattern on the floor. She recognised the pictures, the symbols, that seemingly surrounded the circular floor plan of the room. If one were to view it like a clock face, as its '12' position was the symbol that heralded the crest of Relya: a sun and a moon. It was the cycle of the two, displayed concurrently, through their stages in the sky. Did this have anything to do with anything? She recalled that her elder cousin was obsessed with many things; including the cycle of life. But he was an illusionist at heart. Was the floor an illusion? How had he perfected the floor to be real to the touch, to actually support and contain the building, when it was... fake?

"Ziusudra," she called loudly. "Come. I require your assistance."
Last edited by Liecthenbourg on Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
Impeach the Mayor of Lego City Legalise Falling into the River The Rescue Helicopter Needs to be Built! HEY!
Grand-Master of the Kyluminati


The Region of Kylaris
I'm just a simple Kylarite, trying to make my way on NS.

The Gaullican Republic,
I thank God for Three Things:
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The Transtsabaran Federation and The Chistovodian Workers' State
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Elerian
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Founded: Aug 31, 2012
Father Knows Best State

Postby Elerian » Tue Mar 31, 2020 5:12 pm

Council Chambers


Frogface began to growl before Ceolmund’s hand had yet to reach the door to the chamber. Everyone assembled looked from Kallias to the man whose face put even Cinder’s to shame. Frogface was quieted with a wave of Slight’s hand. They listened as the impertinent diplomat spoke his peace, some more attentive than others.

But, rather than Slight answering, the monstrous Cinder spoke first. “The troubles of some far off petty Kingdom is hardly of any interest to the Seven” he said with a curl of his blackened lips. Cinder may have been a brute, but even he could see the writing on the wall.

Slight stood then, and held up a hand to quiet Cinder. “Mnesus is hardly wrong. The southron lords have seldom managed to put up a united front to Northern aggression.” Slight followed this with a sigh and continued, “as my esteemed colleague has pointed out, Tamarask is a long way from Nekhur’s gaze. Should we put our meagre fleet to battle with that of Nekhur’s, we would be little more to them than a gnat in need of a slap.” Slight seemed sympathetic, but sympathy would do little to stop Nekhur.

“We have no love for Nekhur, but I’m afraid we have nothing to offer Ironmark at this time. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have other matters to discuss.” Slight pointed an open hand to the door, and Frogface began to growl at the disfigured Ironmarker.




Sometime Later


The ocean was calm. A flawless mirror to the cloudless sky above. All around the horizon stretched onwards to sublime infinity, the curvature broken only by the small grouping of islands many miles away, specks of land no bigger than one’s thumb held out. A foreboding sight for such a perfect morning. Dozens of ships glided through the water, pushed along by a steady breeze. Aboard the lead ship was a professional crew carrying Marines and some of the Seven to their Westward destination. The easternmost reaches of Valore were coming into sight, their target was at hand.

Slight, Cinder and Sage would lead the fleet into action against Valore. Slight would have preferred Cinder join the other mages in the campaign overland, but he didn’t trust him to not raze every settlement along the way. Instead Slight would now be able to see Cinder work in open battle. Each ship held a number of Marines and some militiamen to serve in the coming fight. Over the last decade, Valore had been making inroads to remove Tamarask as a rival. So far the Tamaraski had been losing, but the Seven would intervene to protect their investment and Valore would no longer be able to threaten Tamarask’s position.

Their destination was dead ahead, and little could be done but wait for it to get closer. Surprise was on their side for the time being, but whether that would remain true was yet to be seen. Tensions were high, knowing what was ahead. The sailors moved to and fro, fretting over this and that, but the soldiers had little else to do besides sharpen their weapons and wait. Suddenly and and perhaps without realizing it, a voice took up a tune.

When O'Bruadair, the captain
Shook his sword across the sea,
Rollin' glory on the ocean
I had a mind O'Bruadair
Would make an earl of me.
Rollin' glory on the ocean
So I shut my mind on women,
Forgot their sturdy hips,
And yet I stuffed my pockets
By playing on their lips,
But before I'd give them bundles,
I quickly took to ships.
Rollin' glory on the ocean

O'Bruadair said kindly,
"You're a fresh blade from Avencor way."
Rollin' glory on the ocean
"So come among my captains,
To Berdan back we go."
Rollin' glory on the ocean
"Although those Fire beauties
Are dark and not so dear,
I'd rather taste in Avencor,
With spring on the air,
One bracing tender female;
So swing your canvas here:
rollin' glory on the ocean


Several more voices picked up the song, some more in tune than others, until many men were singing along. Perhaps it gave some men comfort, but others would certainly find no solace in the words.

“There's no man," said a stranger,
"whose hand I'd sooner grip:
Rollin' glory on the ocean
"Well. I'm your man," said Bruadair,
"and you're aboard my ship."
Rollin' glory on the ocean
They drank to deeper friendship
In ocean roguery,
They rolled ashore together,
But between yourself and me,
We found O'Bruadair danglin'
Within an airy tree.
Ghosting glory from the ocean”


The unnaturally pale mage stood on the forecastle of the flagship, listening in discomfort to the sailor’s song. He was shortly joined by Cinder, who was taller than Sage by almost two heads. They stood together for a few moments before Cinder spoke, “what do you suppose Slight’s true purpose behind this campaign is?”

This question caught Sage by surprise. He never knew Cinder to question an opportunity to kill and maim. “I don’t know that he has a hidden purpose, friend” Sage offered doubtfully.

“I may be only half as clever as you, Sage, but I’ve come to know that Slight always has more than one reason to do anything” Cinder replied knowingly.

He caught Sage off guard yet again, he didn’t know Cinder to be this self aware either. “Aye, that he does.” He pondered the question a moment before continuing, “I’m not certain I know, but it does little good to try and understand Slight’s intentions. He seems sometimes to have little understanding of his own machinations.“

Cinder took awhile to respond, but eventually he said simply “I see.” He proceeded to roll the tension out of his shoulders with a dull *crack* that traced his spine before starting down to the deck. “I suppose I might as well enjoy the ride while it lasts,” he said with a grin. “Gods speed in the coming battle . . . friend he shook his head with the last word and chuckled as he made his way down the gangway.




Northwest of Tamarask


She was living the good life, to say the least; hell, one could say that she was living in a dream. She was fabulously wealthy, with more gold than many nobles would see in a lifetime, and her name was well known all across South Minilar. However, all the gold in the world couldn't cure her manic depression, nor could fame and glamor. Dancer, while she was an incredibly talented and very much so successful mage and assassin, still suffered from frequent bouts of depression, and was rather mentally unstable. Her frequent mood swings were reflected in her work, with her killings having a much more brutal element to them when she was depressed, and with her craft being much more elegant when she was manic; of course, aside from this, Dancer did a good enough job hiding her condition from everyone else, showing no other noticeable signs of her going through depression, nobody else being aware of the fact.

At the moment, however, that didn't matter; Dancer was in a manic mood at the moment, and was feeling rather cheerful. After quite a long time traveling, the assassin had finally arrived in the outskirts of Oldstone, the largest city of Erimber; she had been to many a city such as this. She'd been traveling for years, surviving by giving her services to whoever would pay and occasionally staying put for a few months. During that time, she had accumulated a rather fearsome reputation, and a fair bit of fame across the continent. The fame, though, didn't particularly matter to Dancer; she didn't do what she did for fame, she was in search of a higher purpose. Her craft gave her comfort and pride at times, but helped very little when it came to managing her depression.

She had just arrived in one of the city’s surrounding villages, not that she knew where she was other than Oldstone; her field of expertise was murder, not geography, after all. Regardless, it was the first proper city she had come across for a good week of traveling, and it was nice to see some actual civilization. Without wasting any more time dilly dallying, Dancer entered the city; unsurprisingly, virtually nobody actually recognized her. The assassin had yet to make a name for herself in these parts; Dancer had never been to Oldstone, and had never done any jobs for people from the area, so only elites who had traveled north and back would be likely to know who she was. Not that Dancer minded, though; if people knew who she was, she would probably be dead before the sun set. Back in Nekhur and Koinon, Dancer typically had her contacts to protect her from reprisals and revenge seekers, but since the majority of people here weren't likely to have any clue who she was, she didn't think it was particularly pressing an issue. She could handle a few ruffians herself; besides, she wouldn’t be here long.

Being regarded mostly as just an ordinary passerby, and not a particularly dangerous looking one, Dancer was left alone by the locals. After some walking and scouting around, Dancer found her way to the Bannered Mare, a local inn and her point of contact with sellswords under contract with Erimber. She was certain there would be at least one company of sellswords they could convince to change allegiance. She wanted to learn who those people were, and what their price was. Without further hesitation, she entered the bar, taking a seat on a bar stool and ordered some mead from the barkeep as she waited for her prospective ally.

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Postby Danubian Peoples » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:12 pm

Galaza, Gataash

It is a rather normal day in Gataash. The streets were filled with folk running their daily routines. Some where headed to the market, to buy and sell goods. A quick look at the stalls would yield a lively place. Craftsmen showing off their latest works, finely made. Nearby stalls were instead manned by merchants, carrying goods from distant lands. Some were fisherman, hoping to sell their latest catch, and others were butchers, their best meats on display for the customer. And all were being entertained by buyers, some were haggling, others were simply having a chat.

Back to the streets. A travelling bard rides on a donkey, boxes stashed on the animal's rear. When he dismounts, he takes one of these boxes and pulls out a long string of wooden beads. It is a tale, written in the Heavy Tongue. He announces his presence, and calls on to some of the folk around him to gather and listen. He attracts a small crowd, and with his masterful display of skill in the art of speaking, and the great stories of powerful heroes and ancient kings he tells, the crowd gathered around him quickly swells. All he asks for is a small donation-the bard holds out a bag, and some in the crowd drop coins into it in return.

Now a view into a domicile. The father, mother and their two children are gathered over a table. Breakfast. The father talks of his work as a craftsman. The last sale he made was that of a finely carved figure of a Keratodon. Despite its small size, it held exquisite detail. The buyer, presumably a well-traveled person, was astonished that he even knew what the great lizard looked like. The mother simply talks of her experiences raising their children. Their education is largely handled by the local preisthood, who gather the young folk to teach them of Gaash. She claims that they had been particularly pious. With breakfast over, the family departs. A servant will man the house while they are away. The father retires to his craftshop at the market, while the mother ushers the two children over to the priests.

And lastly, one of the great farms nearby, separated from the city by a large wall. A myriad of crops are grown in the fertile soil on which Galaza was built on. Farmhands work the fields, plowing hoes and guiding farm animals. Others stand watch for any stray birds that wander too close, perhaps looking to dine on the next harvest. Their superior watches from a house on a small hill at the center of the farm. He manages their pay and gives out their orders, sometimes using force to instill discipline within them.

All of this is interrupted when messegers go into the streets and the farms, from door to door, through the roads next to the fields and the roads on which market stalls lie. They announce that the Tuashrido have been gathered, and that all are to see. Interested parties drop their work and follow. Some women and children even. Some will remain at their jobs, maintaining houses and working fields. But most will go.

Thousands gather at the foot of a hill. A few guards and some priests halt them from advancing any further. On top of the hill lies an exquisite building, a building in equivalent purpose to the Capitol. Large pillars hold up a great dome, while wide curtains are draped to cover the spaces between the pillars. The building is mostly circular, but auxillary chambers do jut out of its base. That is where the Tuashrido meet. The Archon himself is in the crowd, he makes his way to the priests and announces the beginning of a religious ceremony. Gaashli clergy parade holy artifacts and say praises to Gaash, asking him that this meeting of the Tuashrido may be fruitful. When all is set and down, the Archon climbs the hill and enters the building, pushing past the curtains. The crowd follows, although the stop a short distance away. They are however privy to the sound of discussion within, as it makes its way through the curtains and into the crowd's open ears.


Tuashrido Bulding, Galaza

Taop Jotash, the Archon stands at the center.. The 29 other members of the Tuashrido sit on a half-ring of bleachers around him. Still other parties, from high priests to powerful merchants and ambassadors from Derremel and Amerenne, sit on higher bleachers. They may listen in and give opinions, although they do not vote. Taop gradually pulls his speech from a wooden box at his feet. He reads the Heavy Tongue written on the beads, and speaks:

'I, Archon Taop Jotash, speak to my equals in the Tuashrido. Today, we are gathered here to discuss the issues of the day.' The audience leans in.

'Word has made its way from foreign lands. Diplomats and messengers have carried tales of war and peace. Of particular interest to us today is the War in Tervain. The Nekhur bull is once again using its horns to gouge yet another wooden fence.'

Some laugh at the flowely language. Imagining Nekhur as a rampaging bull, going through fence after fence representing the various polities it has subjigated is an interesting image to say the least.

'And the ranchers still do nothing,' a member of the Tuashrido spoke, joking about the general inaction that most have retaliated with against Nekhur expansion. A more audible laugh is heard from the audience.

'Enough. Let us return to the matter,' replies Taop, silencing the laughter.

'The War in Tervain is of particular interest to us, as it represents a moment of weakness. The bull has forgotten a fence, and has turned around to break through it. Its back is turned towards the ranchers.' The room is silent this time.

'This represents an opportunity. Not just for us, but for all of the Southron realms. Perhaps even more minor powers. Perhaps even our vassals in Derremel and Amerenne. And perhaps even...' a pause.

'the Embweald.' An audible gasp echoes through the room. Those gathered outside shake. The name itself carried much baggage in the Taash people's collective conciousness. Less than 200 years ago, the Pale War devasted much of the eastern country. Galaza itself was fortunate to have been spared the destruction. The ambassador from Amerenne gasped particularly loudly.

'With the Nekhur distracted from their usual southern focus, the Embweald can easily 'renegotiate' the terms of their capitulation. In their lands far east, the Pale Emperor is worshipped as a god, and rightfully so. The dark magician he is has somehow cracked the code to begetting creation outside of Gaash's omnipresence. The undead are not of Gaash. Should the immortal emperor rise again and prove Embweald myth true, now may be the best time for him to do so. We must be vigilant.'

'A controversial position, but one that I agree with,' replied a priest in response to the Archon's thoughts on the undead. There was theological debate as to whether or not creation could exist outside of Gaash, and the Pale War has strongly reinforced the position in favor.

'Bah! As if,' replied a member of the Tuashrido, also to the Archon. 'Embweald is a defeated nation, and the superstitous poor folk that wander its roads are just that. Let the wounds of the past be.'

'Ah, but this opportunity also extends to us,' replied the Archon. 'With the Nekhur back turned, we can press Embweald without their consent, perhaps have them be under our prtotection in a manner similar to Derremel and Amerenne. And perhaps, even full annexation.' The last statement was undoubtedly very optimistic, as it assumed that powers outside of Nekhur were also occupied with matters other than maintaining the state of things in the Southron Realms.

'But what is stopping the Nekhur bull from turning and charging us in response?' replied that same member of the Tuashrido.

'Ah-yes..' replied Taop Jotash. Despite his position as archon, he had failed to consider the possibility that the Nekhur could play two games at once, or finish one and start another. At best, he could expect the Ironmark to keep them at bay. At worst, this action would encourage the Nekhur to pull more of the Southron realms under their banner-Gataash included.

The discussion continued for a while after, and while it was fruitful, it had lead to no real conclusion. A vote was not called with regards to it. Another meeting was scheduled for the next day. The various members of the Tuashrido departed, followed by others gathered inside. The crowd outside dispersed to return to their activities and mull over the results of the discussion. Overall, the meeting had taken about 2 hours. A mild length of time compared to the long and winding debates that were held during times of great political change many centuries ago.


Border Fort, Eastern Gataash

The fort's insides were abuzz with activity. The soldiers manning it were training in the walled field, archers loosing bows at targets while the infantry swung their swords against dummies. Their superirors watched intently. Meanwhile, in one of the inner buildings, commanders sat at a table chatted about battle plans and orders from higher up.

'We're not due to do anything just yet. The discussion at Galaza has apparently not yielded a defined plan of action. The men outside are eager for battle. Why do they not let us invade Embweald?' said one commander.

'Democracy is democracy, and if it pleases Gaash, I support it. Even if it is slow and cumbersome.' another replied.

'Oh well,' replied the first commander.

A member of the Aghoash, shown by the blue sash draped over his armor, was also seated at the table. He did not join in the conversation between his peers, instead he discussed his art with a third commander interested in his exploits.

'The bandits had arrayed themselves in a makeshift fortress. They demanded a pricey ransom for the cattle they had stolen and the military decided to send me, a mage in response. I quickly used my magics to enchant a weapon strong enough to bring down their walls. The look on their faces was priceless. Sheer shock, baring all teeth for me to see. I handed them to the authorities afterwards, and returned the livestock to its proper pasture.'

'Wow. Honestly I'd expect someone of your caliber to find a different role in society. Why not join the civilian clergy, and further the advancement of Gaash's will? There's a lot moregoing on there than in these dreary border forts.' replied the commander.

'It's my great-grandfather. He was a lowly peasant, drafted into the Aghoash during the Pale War after recruiters found out of his magical affinities. He created a family legacy that I have to uphold. My father insisted so. If it's any consolence for yours truly, he said that his parents had pressured him to follow in his ancestor's footsteps too. He was apparently a very skilled person in battle, downing many undead and living to tell the tale. Considering my abilities it is not hard to believe so.' replied the mage. The two sighed, while the two other commanders continued their chat about politics.
Last edited by Danubian Peoples on Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Valdez Islands is my puppet.

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Postby Remnants of Exilvania » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:48 pm

Tamarask
City of Fire
Istvan Kollár


Nights in the City of Fire certainly were something special, the tall man clad in black contemplated as he paused for a moment to look up at the night sky. It was a cloudy night, the light of the stars and the moon suffocated by towering dark clouds hanging overhead, highlighting the fierce glow of the city's gaslighting into the darkness of the night just so much more. It did its title as City of Fire justice. But alas, the man had no time to gaze at the vibrant night sky for long, instead pulling up his collar to hide his pale face a little more, then continuing down the street he was on. He still had a meeting scheduled and no time to dally till then.

The meeting was supposed to happen in what could best be described as a high class tavern, catering to the needs of those without friends in the city with housing of their own willing to house them but with the proper cash to pay for it and unwilling to sleep in their cabins on the ships or share a tavern with the raucous sailors and their like. Situated in the upper districts of the city, it was mercifully far away from the the harbour and lower class districts, far away from the noise and the filth, fitting of his own stature.

The Thilon, as the establishment proudly displayed above its entrance, quickly came into view as the man approached. A waiter was standing outside, no doubt to verify that the guests entering where indeed the right clientele and that no uninvited or unwanted hooligans got in to disturb the residing guests. Something the tall, pale man in the fine, black travelling garb was not lacking as he approached. Flashing a smile he walked up to the waiter, saying:

"Count Kollár. I believe I have a room reserved for the night as well as a table for dinner both for me and a guest?"

It was indeed so, or should atleast be. During the day or for anything that had to be done over a greater distance, Kollár acted through intermediaries. Men paid in silver from his deep pockets and given their tasks and reward via letters or at night. It had been the same here, Kollár having sent a resputable company he knew of a letter with the order to reserve room and dinner for him at the Thilon for the night, payment for both as well as a generous 100 silver coins to pay for the service included. And he had sent a mercenary lowlife, as savvy in the underworld as he was dependable for the right amount of coin, to arrange a meeting with the best smuggler or most discrete shipping company at the Thilon for dinner. He had paid the mercenary 200 silver coins, just the right amount he reckoned for the young lad to keep his mouth shut and do as he was told. To find someone fitting for it, deliver the invitation to the dinner verbally and hand over a red rose with the instruction to show it to the waiter upon arrival.

The waiter pulled bade Count Kollár to wait a moment as he, impressed by the Count's aristocratic stature and suave behaviour, quickly hurried inside to check with the registry. He didn't make the Count wait for long, coming right back and asking:

"Welcome to the Thilon Count Kollár. Is there any luggage we can bring to the hotel for you?"

The Count merely smiled in return, though careful to not bare his teeth too much so as to not give the waiter even the slightest hint of his own true nature, instead merely saying:

"Thank you but that will not be necessary. I trust that the Thilon has all the amenities a man like myself would require for a short stay. I intend to finish my business in Tamarask quickly before moving on so I'll leave my luggage on the ship."

As he strode past the waiter, his black cloak with red insides fluttering behind him, he suddenly stopped before turning around again to the waiter, saying:

"Ah, do be so good, if someone with a red rose is to show up, let them in and have them brought to my reserved table. It will be the guest I have invited."

He passed dropped a silver coin into the waiter's hand, a small tip just so he'd remember about what he'd been told, before striding into the Thilon. There he was quickly led to his room, which, to his great satisfaction, had been just like he wanted it to be. On ground level, window towards the courtyard. He was then led to his table in the spacious dining room of the Thilon, which was filled with tables decorated with pristine white tablecloths, save for those where people sat and were already having dinner. Those had lost their pristine colours to specks of food and sauce landing on them. The delicately prepared food didn't particularly interest the Count though, the pulsing veins in the guests' bodies and the sweet nectar rushing through them, the thumping of their hearts, that was far more interesting for him. But he was not some mere newborn Éjszakai and had learned long ago to control his instincts, his urges.

After having been guided to his table, a remote cornertable just as he had wished for, he thanked the man who had led him there before getting seated. Though he didn't remain seated for long. There wouldn't be much time left for him, as a waiter would no doubt show up and get him the menu in short time. He stood and quickly, dodging tables and people on his way, left the room again, searching for the one thing that really mattered. The basement. It took him a little while but he eventually found it and, when nobody was looking, slipped down the stairs to see wether it was fit for his purposes. It didn't take him long of course. The basement was large, consisting of multiple rooms and corridors and mostly storing things like wine or things that needed the cool temperature down here. And some unused furniture and the like. An uncomfortable place yet it would be easy to hide there during the day.

On his way out, Count Kollár run into his waiter who had no doubt been looking for him. The waiter seemed both relieved as well as suspicious when he saw him, immediately asking:

"Ah, I was already wondering if you had gotten lost Count Kollár. How come you are here, Count?"

To which Istvan Kollár merely replied:

"Oh, I was looking for the restroom just in case I would need to use it during dinner. It would be a little embarassing for me to have to call a waiter over and ask for directions to the restroom in front of my guest."

The waiter seemed to accept that explanation, showing the Count to the restroom before guiding him back to his table and handing him a menu, giving some recommendations for the house's most specialties. The most expensive ones of course, as the Count noticed when he checked through the menu after sitting down. He shooed the waiter away, stating:

"I will need some more time to decide for my evening meal. Perhaps I will even wait with ordering untill my guest has arrived so they will not have to eat without me. It won't be necessary for you to stay here for that long."

Though as the waiter already turned to leave, something caught the Count's attention and he quickly called out to him:

"Halt, I see you have a Torvost wine in your inventory? What area and vintage?"

The waiter put on the most accommodating smile he could as he said:

"Indeed we do. The wine in question is a 1393 vintage from northern Torvost, having only gained in flavour as it aged. We just recently had a bottle of it opened for guests and they were very satisfied with it."

Ah, northern Torvost, that brought up memories for the Count. Memories he decided to dwell on over a bottle of that wine, though it saddened him greatly that time had already progressed so far that a good old wine from his time was probably not drinkable anymore.

"One bottle please. And do bring two glasses so I can offer some to my guest when they appear."

And so Count Kollár waited, with a bottle of 1393 Torvost wine on his table and a half filled glass in his hand, the rich red substance in it being whirled around by him playing with the glass absentmindedly as he waited for his future business partner to arrive.
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Postby Danubian Peoples » Wed Apr 15, 2020 4:49 pm

Galaza, Gataash

The sun has rolled over the sky once over, and a new dawn rises above the land of great green. The city is abuzz with chatter. The Tuashrido is due to commune once again. People speak of their opinions on the matter, ranging from an increased tribute from their client lord to a full-on invasion of the region. The markets are filled with this discussion on top of the already loud and noisy haggling and advertising that emanates from the stalls. Politics however does not consume all of Galaza.

Priests stand in a field, their audience, the children of the city, happily listen to their educators' words, from parables and morality tales, to creation myths and ancient stories. A field like this is the closest thing that the Gaashli faith has to a church. Believing that Gaash resides in nature has lead to a curious devotion to the rivers and lakes, and priests will as such frequently hold sermons and schools at river banks, mountain bases, or in this case, grassy fields. Despite the commotion gripping other parts of society, the clergy have mostly remained quiet on the matter, preferring to discuss privately with their peers, without the prying eyes of others.

All this is to come to a head, as the messengers run through the streets and announce the news. It's not so much news as a reminder to the people, but regardless, many once again gather around the same building. The Archon once again, emerges from the crowd, along with other attendees to the meeting. Priests cry out to Gaash, parading holy artifacts and bellowing prayer after prayer, more intense than they did yesterday. The prayers once again ask for a fruitful discourse, with the added mention that it come to conclusion. Eventually, when their voices run out, the priests end their chanting and proceed into the building.


Tuashrido Bulding, Galaza

Taop Jotash once again stands to greet his audience. his 29 other peers, influential citizenry, members of the clergy, and some military leaders. Taop speaks. He greets his audience, and gets to the point. He is favor of a 'renegotiation' of the contract between Gataash and their client lord in Embweald. And so he speaks this point.

'I would like to announce my wishes. I, wish to see it that the light of our ancient civilization shines into the dark lands to our north. I suggest that we do away with our petty client lord, and administer the region like any other in Gataash. We shall bring our prophets to spread Gaash's word through the populace, we shall bring them grain to supplement their decayed soil, we shall bring them security from the banditry that has gripped our ancient rival's lands, and we shall bring them a place in our republic.'

'I object!' cries a member of the Tuashrido. 'Expanding our borders is a risky play. The powers around Gataash have their own devices, that may come into clash with any territorial expansion. We could be inviting other powers to invade, should we overstep our boundaries.'

'A convicning arguement, but are we not doing this under the cover of distraction. Is the great Nekhur bull not gripped in rebellion? This is the best time to get away with something like this. And there is economic reason too. Our client has been overstepping his boundaries mind you. Profits have dried up it seems. The numbers aren't adding up. He has been witholding our cut, as outlined in the Treaty of Galaza all those years ago. And the lord before him, and the lord before him, and so on. They've been lying their way out of their obligations, for over a century!' The Archon spoke these words with fervor. He was incensed at the thought that his fair nation was being cheated out of coin it rightfully deserved.

'And waht proof do you have for this matter?'

Taop Jotash simply began to pull out another set of writing beads from a second box at his feet. He read it aloud. Financial statements. Numbers. A third box he opened up, and with it he read out a third set of beads. This time, it was obligations. What to pay when. And truth be told, their vassal had been running behind on their obligations. Of course, Taop 'exaggerated' the numbers, added some zeroes, removed some others, but it was all the same. He wondered if he even needed to fudge the numbers, considering how much debt was owed to Gataash. Some more discussion occured after this. A vote was then called, and it passed by a considerable majority. Gataash would clamp down on their vassal in Embweald, and pave the way for its eventual integration.


South Embweald
(Author's Note: As Avencor was an NPC when Remnants of Exilvania made their application, this city, where Gataash's puppet resides is unnamed. Please assume this city has a name, but for now, I will just write this down in a manner that omits the name)

Hooves thundered through a dilapidated road in the dead of night, flanked by bubbling swamps making a sloshing sound masked only by the chatter of the wildlife. Beasts of magical nature roamed the region, their calls filling the air. Three horses were galloping down this road. Two were being rode by hardened soldiers, while on the third's saddle sat a warrior mage. He casted light to illuminate the otherwise dark path. He was needed here, mostly to fend off potential monster attacks and any upstart thieves looking to steal from these fine foreigners. Eventually, they made their destination.

The three horses strode into a dilapitaded town. It was still dark. Compared to other locales in Embweald, this was actually pretty decent. Despite that, the smell of rot still filled the air. A small plantation could be seen at the side of the road, the plants clearly struggling to grow, no matter how many times the farmer presumably pleaded to the Pale Lord. A single house had lighting, and it was undoubtedly the most magnificent in the city. Still not saying much, considering how terrible the competition was. The three dismounted their horses, and pounded on the door of this illuminated locale. When the knocking was not responded to, the mage simply forced the door open, using his magics to unhinge the lock within. With that, the three entered the building, and were greeted by a single guard, half-asleep. Despite his bulk, the man quivered in the presence of the three, and let them continue on upstairs.

Creaking was heard as each man took a step up the stairs. The sound emanated through the building, and could've woken any light sleepers. Fortunately, their target wasn't sleeping at the moment. They made their way up the house, and were greeted by another door.

'Here,' said the mage, pointing at the door. He knocked loudly, his pounding shaking off a layer of dust that had accumulated on the door's frame. With the noise he made, the room's tenant opened the door. Their client lord.

'Go away! Scram! Tribute isn't due for another month. Did your Gaashli-worshipping butts get lost following his nonexistent directions?'

The mage, incensed, threw the man back with his magics. He lay stunned on the floor of his room, three other men looking down at him.

'I am Lord Belas! You have no authority to do this to me! Am I not the subject of your Archon? Something like that? What are you doing in my house anyway? Get out.'

'You would be, if it weren't for what we're about to do. Search his belongings!' said one of the soldiers. The three proceeded to rummage through his material, from books stacked on his vanity to boxes stashed under his bed. Drawers, cabinets, and finally, a large door at the other end of the room.

'No! Do not open that door! Guards, seize these intruders!'

Upon hearing these words, the mage simply cast a spell to swing the door behind them shut.

'I am going to open that door, whether you like it or not.'

A large lock, too strong for the mage to crack by force.. without bringing the rest of the house with them. Seeing this, the three men turned back to the man, ignoring the increasingly hectic pounding at the other door.

'he made sure that nobody is getting into this room. Now give me the key, or he forces that door open, and the house with it.' said the second soldier.

Lord Belas, nominally the ruler of much of Embweald, complied. The key handed to the soldier, he opened the door, and he was stunned. Heaps and heaps of wealth, stuffed into bags. A century's worth of corruption, all for the eye to see.

'Damn you all. May the Pale Emperor smite all of you,' said the Lord.

Ignoring this, the two soldiers simply grabbed him, while the mage opened the door. The same guard from earlier, face to face with the same three men, once again let them past, ignoring the fact that his liege was now in their custody. They put Belas on one of their horses, only to return indoors and begin retrieving all of the silver that various client lords had stockpiled over the years. Silver that Belas owed his masters. While an exact number would not be found 'til it was sent to Gataash, it was telling that it took until dawn for the last of it to be hoisted on a horse. The legs of their steeds visibly sagged under the weight of all the coin levied upon their backs. Regardless, the three made their way home. And with each step their steeds took, it was another step in expanding Gataash's borders.
Last edited by Danubian Peoples on Thu Apr 16, 2020 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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The Holy Dominion of Inesea
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Postby The Holy Dominion of Inesea » Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:16 pm

The Archducal College for the Alchemical Studies
South Bay, Zoloto
Serebyan


The garden was quite out of place among the bleak stone walls and ordered workrooms of the Archducal Colleges. It’s glass-and-brick structure contrasted against the grey bedrock of the surrounding courtyard walls. Instead of copying texts in dim-lit libraries, dirt-smeared Novices scurried about, gardening or maintaining the walls. Row upon row of plants, from all corners of the world, grew in the connected halls. First were plants of the arid lands of Northern Nekhur. On the left were the green spiky Cacti while on the right were dwarf date trees. In the center were numerous shrubs. The next room had plants from the less hot but not less arid steppes of Southern Minilar. Many novices considered assignment here to be boring, as there were but grasses and shrubs. Other rooms contained luscious plants from the vast jungles Imlit and Amattar. Despite appearances to the contrary, this was a Sage’s workshop not a garden. Not that any mere garden would have such expensive facilities. This was the workshop of a great sage, Artyom Zilyoni. Professor of Alchemy, Reader of Artifice, and at least Docent of the rest of the Saperite Lode, Artyom was one of the most skilled sages in the Dominion. Yet he did not ply his trade for war, wealth, or position as many were wont to do. No, Artyom had almost a single minded focus when it came to magic. Agriculture. Yes, one of the three most powerful Mages in the whole Dominion lived only to farm.

Anyone who asked Artyom about his passion was given a simple story as an answer. As a small child, Artyom witnessed four of his eight siblings starve to death during one of the endless famines to strike the realms. It was a tale as old as time, repeat generation after generation. Yet Artyom sought to end that cycle. He studied agronomy, artifice, and alchemy. He traveled the lands and studied various cultures, agricultural techniques, and crops. Over the course of five decades he had amassed in his workshops a working knowledge of agronomy that likely surpassed most other centers of learning. For one, Sages and Sorceres tended to scorn the mundane. Why imbue a plow with the fleet footedness and rust prevention for at most a Copper Noble when a warrior would pay a Silver Crown for the same thing? Why study the art of soil when so many kings pay piles of Gold Crowns for mages versed in the art of war? There were few centers that even taught magical agronomy. It was only at the Archducal College for the Alchemical Studies that Artyom was able to argue that soil enrichment was a facet of alchemy. After all, potion making and fertilizer mixing weren’t all that different. Many innovations had come from this lab, drastically increasing the crop yields and nutrition of the realm. The most recent was the introduction of a four crop system utilizing a fodder crop and a deep rooted crop. Clover was the preferred choice for fodder, as it was easily grown and altered the alchemical properties of soil to be more productive. Turnips and potatoes from southern Minilar were grown as well, their roots reaching deep into the soil and drawing upon nutrients that other crops did not. Cereals remained the crops for the later years. This system was groundbreaking in that it allowed all fields to be in use, rather than leaving a third fallow under the old three crop system.

Artyom was currently bent over a variant of clover, in a circle with three of his acolytes. He was facilitating a debate between them on its benefits as a rotational crop when a squadron of guards in the orange and white of the Archducal Guard entered the greenhouse. Artyom barely acknowledged their presence or approach, until one of them crushed a rare Volun Flower from the depths of the Embweald. The professor felt the plant’s death, as he felt all his plants, through his magical aura. Whirling, he launched into a fearsome tirade against the intruding soldiers.
“Stop. STOP I SAY. Who dares enter my greenhouses without my leave? Who dares trample my plants without a care in the world? Be it you sergeant? How will you make amends, hmmm? Will you venture into the weald for this flower, hmmm yes? I think not.”

The sergeant looked frightened, as did the men. No common man wished to anger one of the great mages of the realm. Yet they were also loyal soldiers of the Archduke, sworn protectors of the realm. They stood their ground, no matter how fearful it may be. Their commander, a young baronet, stepped forward, less cowed than his commonborn command.

“By the order of Lord Justicar Telmarov, Sage Artyom Zilyoni you are ordered to come with us. Your presence has been requested at the Council of the Lords Ministerial. You will change into your academic dress and come. Quickly now.”

Artyom bristled at the baronet, standing tall and imperious. And, though he would never admit, adding a touch of menace to his aura. Yet the baronet stood fast, and the orders in his hand did indeed bear the seal of the Council of the Lords Ministerial. To ignore a summons from the Assembly was something Artyom was known to do. To ignore the Lords Ministerial, however, invited only pain and death.

“I protest your rudeness, Baronet. And I will be having words with the Lord Justicar and Captain-General about your treatment of my greenhouse. Yet, I shall come. I shall present myself at the Archduke’s Palace on the morrow.”

The baronet shook his head.

“I am afraid Professor, the Lords Ministerial await you now.”

Fear seemed to tinge the baronets eyes, and he leaned in, speaking only so only Artyom and he could hear.

“Professor, we would not enter your domain without cause. There is darkness gathering to the north, surely even you must know it. Please, gather your things.”
I'm really tired

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Remnants of Exilvania
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Postby Remnants of Exilvania » Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:57 pm

Embweald
City of Coldmist
Alajos Disztl


Shortly after the Gataashi Warriors had left the city, the first shuttered doors were opened again and some people dared to set foot onto the streets again, looking after the vanishing riders. One woman quietly asked:

"Where are they taking the Lord?"

Fear was within her voice, uncertainty. It hung heavy in the air like the stench of a rotten corpse as a small crowd gathered before Lord Belas' Palace.

"Prolly not far. Slow as they are they'll still be stuck in the swamps tonight."

That remark, after first silencing the crowd as they all realized the truth of these words, that their Lord as well as his guards would most likely not see the next sunrise. A silence of silent mourning...and even more uncertainty. Who would take charge now? Lord Belas had not been well liked by any means. But he was still the rightful Lord of the land...this deposal of his was upsetting the established order of things. And tthe established order getting upset was not good, anyone living in Embweald could attest to that. But that didn't last for long as someone remembered an important detail, a detail which sparked quite heated discussions.

"Say, did someone see what they were loading onto their horses that they were going so slow? Looked like they had taken half of Lord Belas' possessions with them."

"I saw it! 'twas silver! Lots an' lots an' lots of shiny, gleamy silver coins! Whole bags full, almost burstin' I tell ya!"

"Ho-ho-how far do you r-r-r-eckon they'll get bef-before their end?"

"Not far enough. Wanna go out tomorrow and look for the bodies? With some luck the the bags will still be there."

"Will it be safe tho? I dun wanna run into some of dem small ones. I heard dey skin ya and make jackets out of ye skin..."

"Eh, won't be no problem. They don't attack no larger group. Stick close and bring some torches and they won't crawl out of their hidey-holes."

"So how about we-"

"What's this ruckus all about!!! Make way for the guard!"

The brewing discussion about how and when and with whom to best loot the corpses of Lord Belas and his unfortunate guards was abruptly ended by the arrival of the city guard, having been suspiciously absent during Lord Belas' arrest. Now though they had appeared in force with the Captain of the Guard, Alajos Disztl at their head. A bearded, balding, brutal looking man, Disztl was every bit the old ruffian he looked like, running a quite successful protection racket in the city as well as being involved in multiple corruption affairs within the guard. Things he technically had to do discreetly so as to not catch Lord Belas' attention. But now, with approximately 20 guards at his back and a nasty looking spiked club in his hand, Disztl didn't look like doing things discreetly anymore.

The crowd parted before him as Disztl made his way towards the Palace, rapping with his club against the door only for the guard which had already done nothing when the Gataashi had come to open and nearly get the club slammed into his chest with full force. But Disztl was good at what he did and so the club only lightly patted the guard on the chest, at best a threatening gesture, when Disztl asked with all the false kindness he could put up:

"Say Mihaly, could you tell me what's happened here that got all these people so riled up?"

Mihaly didn't seem to be too keen to answer but another pat with the club was all the arguments he needed to be convinced so he just blurted out quickly:

"The Gataashi showed up an' took Lord Belas...an' his sekrit stash too. Left with their horses covered in so much silver, deyz could barely move Captain!"

Disztl raised his brows at that. Interesting stuff had apparently gone down while he had been busy extorting money from a couple blacksmiths. Just like the gathered crowd he had quickly made the connection between the wealth, the slowed horses and the distance required to be made within the day to get to relative safety. But he had made another much bigger and better connection that was worth a lot more to him. A connection that made him turn around, put away the club and put his arms onto his hips, addressing the crowd as official as he could:

"Alright, it appears the Gataashi sacked the Lord. Just went in like they owned the place and took him with them. I know this must all be deeply unsettling to you and you must be worrying about a return to the times that the parents of the elders used to talk about. But eh, don't worry, I've got the solution!

By the power of the office bestowed upon me, I declare yours truly the new Lord of Coldmist. Lord Alajos Disztl I of Coldmist! Got a nice ring to it, eh?

Now as my first edict in my new office, I order all of you to scram! Get back to work! And tomorrow the city'll be locked down and only the ones having to work outside are allowed to leave. The guard will be looking for the remains of those poor sods and give them their final rites."

Nobody moved. Most just stared at Disztl as though he was some bad dream. Some grumbled, seeing quite clearly that he intended to claim the treasure for himself. Others looked hopefully to him, certain that his quick filling of the power vaccuum would retain stability. Alas, it appeared that Disztl had to put some more pressure behind his edicts, which was why he cleared his throat before slowly reiterating:

"By the powers of the office bestowed upon me and the spiky spears in the hands of my lads I order you all to scram and get back to work!"

The guards reacted accordingly, threateningly approaching the crowd while lowering their spears. This rather blunt show of force was all the persuasion the peasants needed though, all fleeing the scene as quickly as they could to get back to their houses, get their meagre breakfasts and then get to work. But few of them had any illusions about where this was going to go. Gataash had removed the local authority and the power vaccuum had been filled almost immediately by a Bandit Lord for lack of a better term. One that did not feel beholden by any treaties or agreements and much rather by his own purse and power. But he was not the rightful Lord and as such could not fully fill the vaccuum. Coldmist was his but whay remained of Lord Belas' realm quickly broke apart into multiple petty dominions, held by bandits or minor nobles unwilling to bow to the self declared upstart in Coldmist. And some communities even turned to older, darker masters.
Last edited by Remnants of Exilvania on Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Danubian Peoples
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Postby Danubian Peoples » Sat Apr 18, 2020 2:10 am

Border Fort, Northern Gataash

It was the middle of the day. The hot sun, squarely in the center of the great sky, beating down on a single border fort. It lay at the modern-day Gataash-'Embweald' border, although its contemporaries further to the south were once arrayed against the historical lands of the Pale Empire. Soldiers trained in the open interior behind the outermost set of walls, being drilled to level their pikes against an imagined foe. Archers stuidosly aimed their bows on targets, and when they loosed their arrows, well there was no telling what would happen really. Several of them lay in the earth, their tips buried deep into the soil. Several more peppered the various targets, from dummies made of straw vaugely resembling the human form, to bullseyes made of wood, adorned with concentric rings painted in alternating colors. On the outside, some patrols moved about, scanning the land for anyone crossing the border. Suddenly, one of these patrols spots movement. Three horses, and a large mass hoisted upon-no, floating above the steeds. The three arrive at the gates, their riders almost ready to dismount. Their armor is a clear enough symbol for what they are. Gataash men, back from a bit of an excursion in Embweald.

'I think that's about it,' said the mage, exhausted and just about ready for a long rest. 'I think it's time we hit the hay.' He lowered the mass he had been holding up with his magics, now on closer inspection several bags of silver, dismounted his steed and headed through the gates. The other two men, non-magical members of the army, dismounted too their horses, but not before bringing one last item with them.

'Unhand me you filthy soldiers! And return my wealth to my person right this instant!' cried Lord Belas as he was dragged through the gates by the other two soldiers. They simply scoffed at this request, remarking that the last time he had demanded his silver be returned to him, the mage threatened to stuff him full of all the coin he was holding up above their horses.

'Now that isn't very funny mind you... I am a Lord! My place in society is sacrosanct! Return me to my post, I'll, I'll, I'll give you a share of those silver pieces behind us...'

Silence from the two. Now they were well within the fort. Those manning the fort quickly got up and carried the heavy bags of silver to elsewhere.

'How much d'ya want? 20 percent? 30? 33? 50/50 between both of 'ya?'

Still, nothing. Lord Belas was befuddled at how these soldiers had refused his increasingly frantic offers. Any threat back in Coldmist could easily be bribed into a non-factor. He recalled a time when a band of criminals, incensed at Belas' actions as lord, accosted him and prepared to end him then and there. He simply showed them to his private stash and let them fill their pockets. And they never bothered him again, instead moving to strike at some other petty noble who also managed to bring their ire. Only now did it dawn upon Belas that the relatively well-off members of a professional army would not so easily be swayed by the promise of coin. By the time he had finished dealing with this realization, he was locked up in a small cell.

'Some cattle thief used to live there. Got put to justice by another one of those mages,' said one of the soldiers. 'Maybe that will tell you how sacrosanct you are outside of Coldmist.'

And with that, the soldier went off to attend to his business, leaving the once-Lord Belas in a stone-walled cell. He could only slightly make it out in all the grime that coated the floor, but he could see a faint man-shaped mark, likely where this cattle thief retired to in the nights he spent before his arrival. He gripped the bars separating him from the outside world, and despondently began calling out. First to his captors, begging for release, then to the Pale Emperor, pleading for divine salvation. The Palemoor name would echo through the walls for some time, to the ire of many a prison guard. Eventually, after a long time spent in his rather measly cage, the now not-even-a-citizen Belas was brought out of his sell, and sent off to the capital for trial.


Galaza, Gataash

'... and by the power vested in this assembly by Gaash Himself, I pronounce the defendant, guilty! Bring him to the dungeons, quickly!'

These were the final words of the assembly of priests who served as the judges for the now convicted criminal Belas. Gataash court is largely held in open fields, as it is considered an extension of religious practice. Pious and just persons selected from the general clergy are made into what can be called judges, and an assembly of these judicial clergymen and the rather large mobs that can gather around them dictate the fate of many a n'er do well. With this final declaration, Belas was sent to a different prison, one he can expect to lie in for a very long time. Jeering crowds shouted derogatory explicatives at the man as he was carried through the open field, and back into city proper, where he will then be thrown into a dungeon. Close by was a bag of silver, a portion of the stash confiscated from Belas' palace not too long ago, and used as incriminating evidance against the former Lord. It had been a rather expedient trial, what with the literal mountain of evidence and the less than favorable outlook that most Taash held of Embwealders.

Belas, grabbed by the arms by two soldiers, wanted to speak, but his throat had been run dry in his desparate attempts at a defense. He had pleaded again and again, come up with increasingly convoluted and fanciful reasons to hold onto a large sum of money, money meant for tribute to Gataash. He could only release pained whimpers as he was carried into the dungeon.

Nearby, the Archon looked on, watching from a domicile as Belas walked through a road in shame. He could not help but feel sorry for the man, but at the same time, he knew of his deep-seated corruption, and the obstacle that he presented to Gataash expansion. He also knew that he was the lynchpin holding the labyrinthine knot that was the lands around Coldmist together. With the realm almost certainly fractured into dozens of local fiefdoms, each run by petty nobles even less significant than the Lord-in-chains being dragged across the Archon's view, or by ambitious generals whose dreams rivaled that of the Pale Emperor in scope, but with only a hundreth of the army or even the wit and intelligence to make such dreams true. The Archon would then proceed to arrange another meeting of the Tuashrido, and this time, it would be one of war.
Last edited by Danubian Peoples on Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Krugmar
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Postby Krugmar » Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:33 pm

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Nekhur


Eatar
Kishar, Nekhur



The sound of metal rasping and cracking filled the air as the two sides engaged in fierce battle. They put all care for their bodily integrity behind them as they became beasts of pure rage. Grunts became screams as blades skewered limbs, splashing crimson across the sands. The battle was over within minutes, the orcs relentless and savage in their pursuit of the last prisoner sent out against them. He ran, but there was no escape, no place to hide. His pleas for mercy cut short.

At the sound of a bell the orcs backed away, a few nursing fresh wounds though nothing serious. Men emerged from the gates to hurriedly dispose of the corpses. They did not bother to check for signs of life.

A hand waved and a second bell tolled. A gate on the far side opened and another group of prisoners, raggedly clothed and given blunt, rusty, and often broken weapons, emerged. A fresh group of criminals unready to meet their end. Some refused to fight, knowing it to be pointless, while some held on to a dream of emerging victorious and earning their freedom. Most fought simply to stave off their impending deaths.

“Having fun are we?” Said a familiar voice, one belonging to a talented sorcerer from a distinguished family. She did not frequent these parts often, and so clearly had something to share with him.

“I did not think this was your scene.” Replied Menelaos, turning from his chair to look at his sister. She was dressed in her usual attire, a mishmash of various sortiate apparel ranging from a very worn apprential bag, to her elegant Peer’s robe and hat.

Medea smiled, “No, though it’s not the smell. The labs usually smell worse than this. You seem to be having fun watching criminals meet their end though.”

“The Blademaster insisted I come and watch this new troop of orcs train. They are to represent father’s conquest of Tervain.”

Medea leaned over the balcony, “They are rather large, and are extremely verdant. An unusual lot.”

“Red orcs from Dagadhal. Rare and expensive here, the Blademaster went to great expense to acquire them.” Replied Menelaos.

She smirked, “I’m sure he’ll be passing over that great expense to the state.”

“Yes yes, the cost is irrelevant. The Tyrant ordered a great series of games to commemorate father’s conquests. He seemed most pleased, his brother less so.” The sounds of fighting had stopped, and he joined his sister at the balcony. Slaves had already filled the arena, pulling away the bodies. “But you didn’t come here to watch or help, what did you want?”

Her smirk vanished, “I talked with him yesterday, quite a brief conversation. I think the situation is growing worse by the day. He seemed stressed.”

“Having to deal with Southrons will do that.” Japed Menelaos.

“Yes, well I think he’s planning on something great that will cow the Southron nations. Some ritual that he has spent days poring over no doubt. He has charged me with handling various artifacts he wants the Collegiate to give him, and acquiring a thousand slaves.”

“A thousand?” He asked. “That is a rather expensive ritual.”

“Expensive for you. I need you to handle that while I gather the artifacts. He wants them as soon as possible. And a thousand slaves alive, so it’ll be even more expensive than you think.”

“Humans, orcs, elves? What did he want.”

“Any, he doesn’t care. Go for the cheapest though.” She replied.

“Orcs then.” He said, returning his attention to the gladiators before him. Again the bell tolled.


Eatar
Kishar, Nekhur



Laughter, jostling, drinking, revelling. Sisuthros had never been in an inn so lively as this. It was spacious, likely having been purposefully designed for this purpose. Those he had visited in Tervain had usually been houses converted, and were largely hostile to non-locals, giving preferential treatment to their regulars, of whom lately there had been few.

Here there were comrades galore, foreigners and locals drinking and laughing together. He had some difficulty understanding the dialect of the Isuwans. Their Talassan was very distinct from that of Myyrha, a language he found difficult anyway. But he could piece together a word or two. The mixed groups spoke Kisharite, though a vulgar form with a great many foreign words inserted. It was easier to understand though.

A barmaid brought his order over, a small glass of diluted wine, and a large dinner. He ate greedily, not pausing but to down his drink and wave for another. He had run miles over rough terrain, avoiding the road as much as possible. Had he followed it he would now be near Zalpuwa.

Finished, he gave another look around the inn. A few orcs sad huddled together, their tone pallor. One of them had a tattoo, a chain broken by a scroll. They were free. They were surrounded by humans, most of them Talassan, though some from all across Nekhur and the Southern Realms. Except for the corner, where a group of elves lay partially covered by shadow.

They were not pale, but did not sport the olive tones of those native to Northern Minilar. They seemed small, and some seemed deathly thin. Their hair was white, and their eyes silver, though they seemed muddied and hazy. He focused, but could only partially hear their conversation. They did not speak the dialect of Arevitun, nor any language of Relya. They were definitely foreign, but a type he had not heard of before. One of them saw him staring, and he looked away.

He returned his attention to his drink and finished it. Feeling brave, he ventured another look. To his surprise one of them was now sitting to his right, at the edge of his table. He almost let out a squeal of shock, but controlled himself.

“Hello?” He said, his voice almost quivering.

She smiled, and he could see that her eyes were not entirely yellow. They were distinguished by green and yellow spots and blobs. “I am Auya, and you are?”

He couldn’t form the words for a few seconds, confused as to her sudden intrusion. “Sisuthros.” He finally sputtered out. “I’m sorry for staring.”

She laughed, “Everyone does, we are used to it. And no, I won’t tell you what type of elf I am. You’ll just have to guess.”

“From the far south?”

She shook her head, “Too broad, and very wrong.”

“I’ll get it eventually.” He said, thinking hard about what little elf-lore he knew.

“We’ll be here all night.” She said, waving her hand for a drink. He smiled, he would not be the only one alone in the inn after all.

---

He awoke at dawn, an old habit drilled into him. A few faint rays pilfered through the thin sheet covering the window, enough to give his drowsy eyes a good view of the room. He yawned and turned on his side, expecting to find another there. To his surprise the sheets were empty.

His heart began racing and he flew out of bed, racing towards the wardrobe he had stashed the package in. He ripped the doors open and grabbed the satchel. He pulled the small metal container loose, and saw that the seal was still intact. His heart slowly returned to its natural beat.

He tapped his hand against his temple, “If she’d opened the seal you’d know, fool.” He said to himself. Magical seals opened by those without the proper knowledge of their unbinding tended to make a great spectacle of noise and light. He’d heard some exploded, but few risked their valuable goods to such seals.

--

The open road lay before him, and he began a slow jog. Where she had gone, he did not know. The Innkeep had told him they did not stay the night, and would not say more. Nor would he say whether he or his staff had seen her leave. Had they paid or threatened him for privacy? Hers had seemed an odd group, most unlike herself. Perhaps he’d see her again some day? He hoped so anyway. An unrealistic dream, but one he could hold to for a while. Something to keep his mind towards, off the arid land and upcoming desert, the long road to Rawaya.
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Elerian
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Postby Elerian » Tue Apr 21, 2020 2:43 pm

Tamarask


He held a very different view of Tamarask than most. He likened it to a fat, gangrenous lordling, with no hope of recovery. What was one of the largest cities on earth, rivaling even the likes of Nekhur’s greatest cities, was now a bloated city full of a sad menagerie of folk who called it home. The smuggler knew the city better than most. He saw both sides of the equation, he mingled with both the rich and poor. A few years had elapsed since the city had been overtaken, and yet so little had changed with their arrival.

This Count Kollár fellow had paid well for his services, and the money seemed almost too good. He would remain cautious, but he’d cancelled other contracts in order to accomodate this one. It would cost him, but the money was too good to pass this up. It was always good to be reputable, but this mandated that he drop most everything else. A number of men had tried to cheat him in the past, especially when he first started in the trade, but each of them had failed in their endeavors.

And now, he approached The Thilon, their meeting place. A red rose in hand, he stepped up to the man watching the door. His dress was well kept, a fine blue doublet, and matching trousers. He would seem to fit in, at least by appearance, once he opened his mouth his speech would tell a different tale. Presenting the rose to the doorman without a word, he was led inside to the dining room. He scanned the room for possible exits, and found his employer seated at a table.

He regarded Kollar for a few moments, judging. Then taking a deep breath he approached the strange man and sat at the table across from him. He waited a few moments before he finally spoke, “I hear you have a proposal for me, my lord.”

Naval Report to Valore


And then the trumpet shriek blazed. Through everything, a signal, and instantly their oars struck salt. We heard the rhythmic rattle slap, and it seemed in no time that they all stood in sight. We saw them sharp, first the right wing: close drawn and strictly ordered. And next we saw the whole fleet bearing down. We heard a huge voice “Sons of Tamarask go! Free our seas of them! Let them come with the armies of Hell! And when this day of battle is ended, we meet again in the halls of our gods or on the field of victory.. Now, fight for all you have!”

Then on our side shouts of Valore rose to a crest. We didn’t hold back. In that instant the ships rammed, iron clad beak on ship. It was a Tamaraski ship that started the attack, shearing off a whole Valorian stern. Each captain steered his craft straight on one other. At first the wave of Valore’s fleet rolled firm, but next as our ships jammed the narrows and no one could help any other, and our own iron teeth bit into our own strakes. Whole oar banks shattered. And the Tamaraski ships, seizing their chance swept in, circling and struck and overturned Valorian hulls. Salt water vanished before our eyes, shipwrecks filled them and drifting corpses. Shores and reefs filled with our dead, and every able ship under Valorian command broke orders, scrambling to escape. We might have been tuna, or netted fish for the Tamaraski kept on. Spearing and gutting us with splintered oars and bits of wreckage. Moaning and screams drowned out the noise of the ocean til the night’s black face closed it all in.

Losses too many to be easily replaced. Even if I told the catalog for three full days I could not complete it for you. Yet this is sure, never before in one day have so many Valorians been lost

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Remnants of Exilvania
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Postby Remnants of Exilvania » Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:30 am

Tamarask
City of Fire
Istvan Kollár


Count Kollár knew his contact when he saw it. The rose of course giving it away completely but there were different hints that gave away the man's identity. Oh, he of course looked the part for the establishment he was in...but it was clear by his movements and the way he scanned the room that he wasn't used or comfortable to both the clothes he wore and the high brow environment he was in. The count sneered for a moment, reminiscing about the glorious days of the past when he didn't have to resort to dealing with the sods from the gutters, dropping it immediately when their eyes met, his own blood-red gaze holding the smuggler's for a while, making sure they both recognised each other.

When the man sat down in front of the Count, Kollár could smell him, smell the backalleys, the gutters, the sea on him. Oh, of course the smuggler had cleaned himself for this meeting but alas, some odors just don't leave, regardless how hard one scrubs oneself with the soap. Which reminded the Count that he should probably leave a tasteful distance, considering his own, rotten odor.

Leaning back and wrinkling his nose, feigning distaste about the smuggler's stench, Count Kollár curtly said:

"You heard almost correctly. Should you believe yourself capable of committin to the task at hand, you can safely call this a handsomely rewarded demand rather than a mere proposal."

The Count then proceeded to pour wine into the two glasses before offering one of them to the smuggler, the rich, dark substance within it breaking the light that shone through it.

"I am sure you are thirsty, coming all the way up here. Would you fancy a drink? A good Torvost, 1393 vintage the waiter has told me."

He omitted that he himself was equally parched, feeling how his own body dissolved from within. He hadn't feasted in a while, during most of the journey to Tamarask in fact. He had been unwilling to jeopardize the journey on the ship, for that the cargo had been too important. It was why all these beating hearts and full veins were being such a hard test for his restraint. But he held back, knowing full well that he would feast tonight, a grand feast that would leave the city talking about it for a while.

The Count then took the candleholder that was at the centre of their table and lifted it to grab the menu which he had placed below it, handing it too over to the smuggler while keeping his mouth firmly shut, so as to not breathe the putrid smells from within him into his face. Once he had done so he leaned back again, putting distance between them as he said:

"Ordering a meal would most likely also be in your interest as we will be here for a while. You must excuse me, I got hungry while waiting for your arrival and the waiter just didn't stop pestering me so I already dined."

It was a lie of course, the only hint to uncover it being the fact that the tablecloth was still as pristinely white as the tablecloths on all the other unoccupied tables. Well, almost as white. A drop of whine had turned a portion of the cloth purple. Though perhaps the Count was merely a very careful eater?

Once the smuggler had ordered something, Count Kollár finally got to the point, folding his fingers on the table before him as he said:

"I have recently been on a voyage in the south, the far south. I have recovered something from there which I need to have brought further northward to my, and hopefully your, benefactors. However, I am a wanted man further north, as are my benefactors which is why we need an intermediary such as yourself to undertake the dangerous task of bringing this...contraband...as quickly to its destination as possible.

The route itself however is dangerous and the contraband you are to transport must not be found under any circumstances. Should you fail in doing so then we would be forced to consider...punitive measures towards you rather than the rewards we promise."

The Count picked up his glass of wine, shaking it a little and making the liquid swirl as he stared into it, as though having forgotten that he still had the smuggler in front of him. When he finally looked up again, fixating the man with his red eyes, he smiled a little. A smile supposed to be friendly and heartwarming but instead came across as cold for it did not extend to his eyes or the rest of his face.

"However, before I reveal any more, it is imperative that I know you to be capable of completing the task. My contacts have assured me that you are the best of the best here in Tamarask so I chose to have you contacted. However, while my contacts are convinced of your skills, I am not yet so I wish that you regale me with a tale of your exploits to convince me of your usefulness."

He glanced out of a large window front which allowed the dining guests of the Thilon to look out over the harbour and into the night sky. The sky was still cloudy so to his own annoyance he couldn't read the position of the moon to determine the time. But one didn't get to his age without developing a keen sense of what time it was so he could make a relatively good assumption that they were approaching half past 10 o'clock in the evening. Leaving plenty of time for his dealings here as well as for the feast he intended.

"Please, we have plenty of time."
Ex-NE Panzerwaffe Hauptmann; War Merit Cross & Knights Cross of the Iron Cross
Woodhouse Loyalist & Inactive BLITZKRIEG Foreign Relations Minister
REST IN PEACE HERZOG FRIEDRICH VON WÜRTTEMBERG! † 9. May 2018
Furchtlos und Treu dem Hause Württemberg für alle Ewigkeit!

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Danubian Peoples
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Founded: Sep 21, 2018
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Postby Danubian Peoples » Fri May 01, 2020 10:23 pm

Border Fort, Northern Gataash

A wandering band of Taash are walking the countryside. Despite how close they are to what is traditionally considered Embweald proper, the fields are still green with grasses, and what trees there are still grow mightily, their trunks wide with wood and whistanding the test of time. The rot and decay doesn't make itself known until you are a significant way into the territory collectively known as Embweald. Still, these border fields are close enough for concern. The nearby fort was said to have witnessed everything from a scampering group of Bilwiss fleeing from a monstrous Farkasember, to foolhardy bandits following wisps into their archers' sights. These wandering Taash quickly find themselves eyeing something far larger than any wild creature from the east. A patrolling party of guards. One of them is on a mighty steed, and shoos the band of men away with his hand. They take their stroll elsewhere.

'Attention, people!' says a commander. He stands face to face with a Gataash army assembled just outside the fort, or at least, the beginnings of it. This army contains far more than fighting men and supply wagons, and of the armed and ready, none are arranged into tight battle formation. Instead, they are loading material into wagons, feeding their horses, sharpening weapons, tweaking bows. And of the non-combatants, besides the donkeys and their supply wagons, there are also priests, and their humble bead boxes, as well as construction workers and farmhands. These civlians will stay behind the military men for the forseeable, and both parties are part of a grand plan to bring Gataash civlization to Eastern Embweald. The commander continues his speech.

'We are gathered here today to launch an expedition into the wild lands to our east. In those lands lay petty fiefs, starving peasants, unscrupulous thieves and unenlightened men. We intend to change that. Our army will sweep into the land, and bring an order not seen by the people there in centuries. Fine members of the Aghoash will repel attacks from the supernatural, while our sharpened pikes and bow and arrow will meet the thieves and the armies. Be warned however, the roads there are dangerous.. if not nonexistent. We will bring spades to widen the muddy paths, and lay bricks to build a way. Our priests will bring Gaash to the locals, and our wagons will carry amounts of grain not seen by the peasants ahead in years. Our mission is a righteous one, ordained by Gaash himself. Let it be so that our quest to enact his divine will be successful.'

The men cheer at this message, but it is not time to go yet. Priests carry religious artifacts around the army, and perform a scrying. They read the wind, the birds and the skies. It is a good omen, Gaash is on their side. The men continue their way, drilling the levy in combat, packing bread loaves and other foodstuffs, sitting down and sending prayers for protection. It will be a while before this army gets its moment, but that moment is coming very soon.

And now, a detour from this plot to flesh out the country.

Gatha, Western Gataash

Gatha is actually a confusing name amongst the Taash. The bay it sits upon is of course given its own name in other tongues, but to the Taash, it is simply known as Gatha Bay. Whether the city of Gatha or the bay of Gatha is named after one or the other is unfortunately lost to time. Perhaps a concrete answer to the question of terminology once existed long ago, but the knowledge about it has been lost in the wake of one of many calamities in the long and winding history of Gataash.

Regardless, Gatha is a thriving city, that lives off the sea it sits upon. As opposed to locales inland, seafood is overbearingly present in the diet of Gatha's inhabitants, as it is far more convenient to fish for food than it is to plow fields and wait for crop to grow. Fishing trawlers are a common sight in Gatha Bay, with fishermen dragging nets across the sea and catching meals not only for themselves, but for the entire city. Food consumption further inland comprises mainly of freshwater species, various grains, and of course, livestock. But there are exceptions, such as certain sects in the Gaashli religion that promote vegetarianism, citing that Gaash's animist presence would make eating animals akin to cannibalizing on the creator himself, and forbading it as a result.

Gatha not only depends on the ocean for its meals, but also uses it as a means for contact with the wider world. Goods from distant lands regularly find themselves stocked on boats headed for Gatha, as it is arguably the most convenient way to import material into Gataash. The rivers that feed into the capital are far too shallow for ocean-worthy craft, routes overland would involve traversing numerous polities and going through ongoing civil strife and a Byzantine collection of trade jurisdictions-as well as the tariffs that come with them.

The city itself is abuzz with activity. The houses are built in a similar manner to those in the capital, as Gatha is arguably one of the most urbanized places in Gataash-second only to Galaza. The market stalls are dominated by those looking to sell foreign wares, and the crews of fishing boats, their latest catches on sale. Everything from knick-knacks and other decorative items, to foreign literature painstakingly translated into the Heavy Tongue by diligent folk are just some of the exotic items one can can see on display.

A view into the docks. A priest is here today, overlooking Gatha bay. He grabs a string of prayer beads and reads them aloud, blessing the bay and hoping that the catches will be fruitful. As he blesses the sea, fishing boats line its surface, being rowed largely by oar. Inside one of them, you can see two fishermen striking up a conversation. One of them tells of his experience with a foreign trader. The trader looked very different, possessing strange clothing and a skin tone far from the olive color that identifies the Taash people. He was intimidating, and required someone to translate his terrifying grunts and growls. In another boat, two men haul a net into the craft. Their catch was decent, enough to feed their families and make a profit selling a portion at the market.
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This nation does not reflect my IRL views on anything.

Valdez Islands is my puppet.


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