NATION

PASSWORD

Tales of the Revenant Worlds (Closed)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
User avatar
The Ctan
Minister
 
Posts: 2726
Founded: Antiquity
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Tales of the Revenant Worlds (Closed)

Postby The Ctan » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:34 pm

Lurthir II, The Revenant Worlds

Alaunmur’ss walked across the ashen wastes of the city of Tiirin. Her eyes alighted on the graceful forms of stone and ferrocrete that rose toward the black sky, its halls stood unroofed and its roadways were shattered glass under the ash of centuries. Her armour kept the radiation from her, living substance that was engineered for every resilience possible, generating low-level fields around her that reflected energized particles.

The Immortals were not as they were before the Great Sleep, enhanced now, rebuilt in mind and body, stronger and more formidable than ever they had been. Her guardians were more than sufficient.

There was little left but charred remains of the incursion, strange protoplasm that smouldered where it had fallen.

The city ruins rose around her, long ago her own people had lived here, and their slaves, she thought ruefully, they had been the masters. Her escorts had come, necrons, soldiers of the Great Civilization, and purged them long ago. She remembered the fear, but it was a thing of sadness from another life.

Her concern was the incursion.

She came to it. A necron stood over the slain enemy, and she looked at it. Human, strange and distinct, but with something within it, both were dead, slain in close combat.

Alaun looked at the creature, dead as it was, and nodded. “This is one of them,” she said. “you are not wrong, they did return,” she looked at it.

“We do not know why they were here,” the necron said, its voice male, “since their initial incursion was ended six years ago sightings of the infestors have been few and far between.”

“I was there when we burned their world,” she said, “their staging post.”

“That is why we called for you. We hoped you would know why they might have returned to the Revenant Worlds.”

Alaunmur’ss crouched down to her haunches, touching the body with covered fingers. “I don’t know,” she said, “but I’ll find out.”




OOC: This thread is for stories and posts relating to an ongoing RPG campaign within the Mystria region; so this thread doesn't have a direct narrative structure that will necessarily flow for people outside the campaign. Not all are directly within or relating to my nations (such as this one or Lord Atum) or the other players'.
Last edited by The Ctan on Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

User avatar
Lord Atum
Diplomat
 
Posts: 695
Founded: Jul 26, 2004
Corporate Police State

Postby Lord Atum » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:39 pm

Antar, Messier 15

Pasht arose from her sarcophagus, hands rising to either side of her, her body singing with joy and rejuvenation, her eyes bright with bioluminescence, a halo of dark hair falling to her back as she rose, arms extended on either side of her in exultation of herself. Her warriors knelt before her, holding their blast staves vertical in honour-guard, while her other attendants made obeisance upon the floor as she returned again to life.

Travel through the Shadows was an experience similar to death, to be cut off from the material world, and even a short journey was to be celebrated, the mysterious rite of passing the gates of hyperspace was one that even the lowliest fellahin of the fields understood was a miracle of the goa’uld and of Atum, their father.

“Rise,” she commanded, her voice deep with the timbre of divine rebirth, all arose from their positions and she stepped down, her feet bare on stone, cool after the warmth of regeneration. Her servants adorned her over the robe she had worn in the deathlike dreaming of regeneration and she tolerated their ministrations without comment of approval or disdain as they laid out sandals of leather and gold and trailed robes of linen and silk over her shoulders.

Equinaminously she sat, and allowed her hair to be brushed, her eyes to be adorned with khol and painted a dark blue above, her nails she gave to be filed, she held out her hands, the right receiving curved claws of silver and the left slipping into the offered glove of the kara kash, the weapon of her station.

Her long sleeves were gathered up and bunched over her upper arms, pinned in place with jewels in gilded buttons and her brow was settled with the symbols of her grandfather, her shoulder-piece carried a high solar disk between the aurochs horns of her grandmother, whose name was spoken aloud now in the court of the One, now that Ra had passed and the One had claimed his throne.

Pasht supported the One. Many believed that the goa’uld lacked feelings for their kin, and for some that was the case, but Pasht was not one of them, though she had little empathy she remembered her smiling mother and indulgent grandmother, she had their memories but also remembered her youth with them. Her father and step-father were still close to her, and she felt bonds of love for withdrawn Ptah and stern, dangerous Sokar. Neither had ever forgiven Ra for what had happened to their wife, her mother; neither had she. That the One dominated the life of the Empire was a constant pleasure, and she smiled as her solar adornment was fastened into place.

She rose once more and a servant bowing deeply fastened a pectoral of gold adorned with the khepri-scarab of protection onto her chest, and for a moment she fingered its winged edges, thinking of the dynastic strife of her forebears before stepping from the chamber of her rebirth, guards before and behind her, others trailing after.

Her destination was the Pel’tak, from where the vessel could be steered. A throne of seated lions with slats of cedar between them and a high back sat at its centre, while its forward sections were dominated by a viewport that showed the eerie dance of hyperspace. She had slept in the shadows for three days on her journey from the great court of the One, and she longed to see the stars again.

Lowering herself in regal magnificence into the chair, she sat straight backed and majestic.

Those who manned the controls had turned and bowed to her, and she bade them rise with a gesture, “Bring us from the Shadows early, I wish to see my world,” Pasht said. An indulgence, but she was no longer in the court of the One, nor visiting her Step-Father on far Delmak as she had been these last years, at last she was within the Hundred Worlds once more, and she wished to see her home.

Her star had risen and she had been feted by others, her part in the victory that Sokar had won – commanding one of his great motherships in the scourging of the Imerian heathens – had brought her status upward in the hierarchy of the One’s court as his own had risen, with Sokar rising to the rank of System Lord, something long overdue, her own station had risen to that of High Lady, a position beneath his only one step.

Not well liked by the loyalists of Ra and greatly feared, Sokar had been known for a few roles, the necropolis lord of the Goa’uld, he supervised the burials of those who could no longer be rejuvenated even by the Sarcophagus, and his cruel nature made him a lord of jailors and of justice, something many other nobles of the court feared. He had never forgiven Ra for the imprisonment of his wife, and he had grown cruel, particularly to others of his own species, with few exceptions. Pasht was one of those exceptions.

The court feared Pasht only a little less than her stepfather; to the folk-traditions of peasants she was a goddess of war and persecution, beneficent and smiling but striking down without mercy, her name itself meant she-who-strikes, a strong name she had chosen long ago, and she was feared widely among the goa’uld, and with the rise of her patron and her own increase in stature, many had sought to appease her and gain new alliances with a wearying barrage of invitations and gifts that crowded the cargo holds far below her.

With obedient words her pilot brought the ship from the Shadows and the viewport filled with the green-gold orb of her world, its three ash-grey moons hanging in the distance, and she smiled. Here there were few of her own kind, and she looked forward to the warmth. In the southern hemisphere where she would land, the harvest-time would be approaching, and the high summer would adorn every bough with beauty.

“Bring us to land,” she bade, and the jaffa pilot obeyed, the world looming larger and larger as she watched without word, savouring the sights of clouds that hung in the air in fluffy lanes of wind-blown summer, her vessel crossing over the terminator, an unspoken gesture chosen to please her mood, and watching as the shields of her vessel were limned with red fire as they crossed through the troposphere.

The languid river she had chosen for her home cut a ribbon of colour through the desert and limestone clad landing platforms rose along its banks, the monumental work of human hands raised up to create permanent reminders of her power. The ship she sailed in now was older, and landed on one of these pyramids, rather than the great flat-topped mastaba-base built for a modern ha’tak class mothership that was further downriver. She commanded a warship in battle, but here in the Hundred Worlds.

Aerobraking bled off the last of the momentum the ship had had and allowed its gravitic drives to take over, suspending it and bringing it the last miles toward the landing pad, its auto-pilot systems taking over from the steersman and navigating it the last few miles, before slowly bringing it down from the air, its engines blowing flurries of dust into the air around the pyramid; through the temple complexes that surrounded it, as it slowly lowered itself into position, shields changing their shape to protect the whole complex as a dome and engine systems disengaging.

She rose, a simple nod of approval all the reward she offer the steersman, though it was enough, and turned, her guards walking with her. She would break her fast before dawn, and her servants brought her roasted heron and fish for her breakfast, with coiander and cereal cakes, which she ate daintily, her clawed hand-pieces removed to do so, before she let her hand be washed and dried. Dinner concluded she passed from her small innermost dining room to the upper hall of the ship, a vast space beneath its upper pyramidal space, adorned with frescoes along its lower walls of hunting caracals and other felines, two vast lion-statues of her mother’s favoured animal, the larger lion, standing at the far end of the hall.

By the time she appeared from the great doors, elders and priests had assembled, and incense burned. Her fan bearers awaited her, and a pair of leonine beastling attendants brought from the far Tau’ri in a new fashion set by her stepfather. The upper part of the ship divided, the hull parting into four leaves along the flat portion of each triangular side, sliding down along the edges of the main hull of the ship, revealing the room through high lancets.

All made obeiscance on the floor, foreheads to the ground in worshipful praise as the suns flooded the chamber and she walked to her throne, her guards, their own lion-heads moving from side to side as they scanned the room, watched them.

She sat, and bade the congregation to rise, calling to her herald to name her guests. Each presented their homage, taking the time to individually crawl over the wide expanse of the floor before her, offering gold and myrrh, silk and silver, and fulsome praise. She tolerated the offerings with an indulgent smile, not minded to instpect too closely. Often paranoia gnawed at her and she wondered if the offerings were less than when she had last returned home, if the homage given was more grudging than it ought to be. Today she cared not, for she was content as she had not been in five thousand years.

She spent much of the morning receiving homages, and then at last gratefully, glad to be transacting something of business again, turned to the petitions of her people. There were protests against her nomarchs and she heard them, though she gave no answers, for dismissing or overruling other goa’uld was not to be done in the presence of others. That would be a breach of etiquette and would weaken the hand of all. There were pleas for public works and she had those she found pleasing or useful taken down by the court of scribes who knelt with pallets beside her, their styluses inscribing text in the air above blank stones. She heard the plea for relief from the town of Nailos, whose water table had become dried out and she granted their request for an engineer to come and raise up an aqueduct to their growing settlement. Lunch she took, as sumptuous as breakfast, in the company of the throng, in another chamber at the top of her palace-ship.

She dismissed them early, and allowed the justice cases to await her return, there were cells aboard the ship and those in the temple, she would allow them to await her return. It would, she hoped, be at least a season, and perhaps at some point her jaffa would get around to bringing prisoners to her for the high justice. The judges, blue-clad goa’uld of lesser status, travelled the Domain bringing lesser justice, but grave matters required the approval of a Lord such as she, or another dignitary of equal rank, so the prisoners she did not see would remain to await her leisure.

She went to her couch in the early afternoon to rest at the hottest part of the day, and there she dismissed her attendants for a time, leaving only her jaffa on her doors to guard her. Pasht rose in the afternoon refreshed and admitted no further pleas, she had been too long from the wind, and let her servants garb her anew.

Here she exchanged the jewels of her office for form fitting bodywear of toughened fibre, robes for trousers and sandals for boots, her head-dress for a communicator and coiffure was replaced with a simple single ponytail. Escorted by her guards she stepped out onto her world’s ground through the medium of transport rings, her staff weapon held alongside her guards. She hunted with her guards, and quite unlike others she took to the wild lands beyond the narrow riverine settlements, riding in a chariot drawn by thundering horses whose reins she tightened as she rode; staff weapon replaced by the long hunting spear that she carried as she thundered across the land.

They brought down a bucking canid, the spear thrown by her arm buried up to the first third, the strength in her slight frame greater than that of a human, and she walked the chariot back, ignoring the flocks of those who bowed before her, priests offering blessing and homage as she walked by.

The evening meal was held with great gaiety in the temple at the base of the pyramid complex, the walkway to the pyramid occupied by her mothership. The spaces of the palace were lavish, and had been busily swept of the sand from her landing by troops of servants, tables laid and lamps lit that streamed light across pools and fountains. Children of the eminent households nearer her landing site were presented to her and she blessed them in the name of Atum, giving them gifts from those she had brought from Mnewer, and watching players and dancers, gifting jewels and gold to them. Long into the night she watched and entertained, drinking rich wine and quite content with the adoration, fearful and exalting, given to her by the scribal classes who had made the journey to attend the return of their High Lord from the court of the One.

All knew that she had won a victory, and many wished to hear of it; there were no prisoners nor much booty of value from the expedition, but preachers exalted the victory as a great achievement, speaking of the ignorance and savagery of the enemies they had defeated, wildlings brought low.

As evening fell she ordered her riverine barques and retired to her chambers, laying alone and at rest, her eyes watching the narrow band of the stars of the Milky Way rise over the horizon.

Image


The morning was sung in by priests beyond her doorway, who sang hymns to her glory that she had heard every day when she was at home, calling her to rise and bless them, praising her wisdom and might. Pasht arose and stretched like one of her totemic animals, and allowed her servants to enter and draw her steaming bath, in order to array her anew.

When she rose, her adornment was similar, she wore the vulture headdress of court ladies, gilded and shining, laid across her hair mantling her, the style of Nekhbet, close in the circles in which she walked, and she stepped down to the river and to the barque drawn up there. She let herself be seen, radiant in sun-bright robes, and sat upon a throne of silver under the care of her fan bearers and an awning of blue.

For her people she knew, it was a day of rejoicing, for she had always allowed the day of her precession on the river to be a day of rest for the fellahin who tilled the soil, and they lined the banks, making offerings and praying, many to her, she knew well, for all that Atum was Sole Lord, the folk of the Hundred Worlds had never quite embraced the idea that only He was whole parts divine.

For them nothing much had changed from generation to generation in ten thousand years, the land still needed to be tilled, and the gods were still the gods, they had been blessed by new blessings by the will of the One in later days, greater health and long life, more bountiful seeds and new tools, but life was life, the eternal coming and going of the seasons beneath the two suns that held their promise of long content lives.

At every larger settlement she stopped, and received the homage of headmen and priests, and in these places, she did deign to dispense justice. At the first of the towns, the place of iron hills, she head four cases that had been kept to her, in the city of ten thousand. Heresy, two counts; one had been of a man charged with declaring her greater than Atum, she spared him but demanded he spend three days in pillory for the silliness of his claim, and refuted it to his face, all the while her chyme thick in her throat, but her resenting mood did not last, for there was another heretic, who had stolen from the temple; she put him to death, bidding her jaffa take him and slay him in front of the temple. Another two were criminals of an abusive sort, and to them she gave no greater mercy, though one she did not slay.

“This crime offends not only Ma’at but myself,” she decreed, “such perversity must be punished. Take this man, if man he be, to the chappa’i and to the throne of my stepfather.” The wretch had stared, horror struck. “To Netu send him,” she had said, and his screams, piteous and wailing, had stirred no mercy in her heart.

There were worse fates in the domain of Atum than mere death.

Every stop was similar, and she heard other cases, disputes of land and title, affairs of common property, and disputes of enterprise, these she settled as she saw fit, and at each stop homages were laid on her and her blessings distributed. She healed the sick, too, when they were brought to her, and watched folk plays and the sparring of the young men of the fellahin who had been chosen from each village to prove their mettle in the dangerous trials to become jaffa – Atum had no shortage of jaffa, though the change from one species to another was once a rare honour the One had derived means by which a jaffa could enjoy the blessings of the goa’uld without a symbiote within them, meaning that many more now competed for that honour.

The best of those would be sent to Edfu, training world of the legions of Atum, there to compete and train.

Five days from her departure she arrived at her palatial home; she could have made the journey in a fraction of the time, but the leisure of being seen by her people in the flesh brought Pasht a certain pleasure. Still, when the doors of her palace opened at the water-steps, and her household guard trooped forth she smiled broadly.

The palace had been in the keeping of priests for the long seasons of her absence, but now it was aired and refreshed and already those who sought her thronged about it, performers from poets to dancers, hunters who craved her patronage, and artists who would render whatever she chose in hardwearing stone.

Here at last she could receive her lesser kindred in the style and honour they were expecting, and she had no shortage of them. She was old, but there were many more goa’uld now who were young, the flowering of new generations for the first time in centuries; the New Mind, those who had never been personally adored as gods, who knew that their lives were owed to Atum, they cut lean figures, they made her nervous, with so many new and ambitious goa’uld how long would the older generation enjoy the favour of the One?

But she, Nekhbet, Sokar and others of their following were close in favour to the One, and knew how to make themselves valuable to his inner circle. And if the new generation and certain of the older swept all the dross away, she would not weep; so long as the wheel turned her way.

She had entertained them, and spoken of much with them long into the night, these were not mere elders and headmen but fellow goa’uld, and she shared much with them, but watched them with the all seeing eyes of a hawk, for any sign of treachery, for equally well they were the only beings to offer Pasht any challenge here.

She rested less easily in the company of other goa’uld and she wished they would cease darkening her doors, but they wanted favour, and she needed those who wanted her favour, so she had to abide guests.

Three days of such amusements later and the less valuable of her potential clients had departed, and instead she was given more peace, but on that morning her sleep was interrupted by the striking of her door. It was a timid and timorous sound on the wooden panels, but her eyes darted open, glowing with pale light. The suns were down over the horizon and her windows dark, she had taken to wearing the kara-kash in the night, at least while others of her kind were present, and she brought it up, holding it protectively, it was capable of generating a shield as well as serving as a weapon. She crept across the room, into the shadow of a chest that held her older robes.

“Who’s there?” she called, her voice high, falsetto, to disarm a would-be assassin. She would rather they took her for a servant; it had worked before. No one knocked at her door, unless there was a crisis; she kept the weapon primed and aimed at the door.

“High Lady,” the voice, the voice of Menkh, her major-domo said, “I am sorry, but it is urgent,” he said.

“What is the watchword,” she said, dispensing with the ruse, Menkh knew her voice.

“Gul-Farr, High Lady.”

A password, one used by her servants who had clearance to know such things. She believed Menkh would rather die than betray her, but there were ways one could be affected, an assassin would know them.

“Jeran, is it he?”

“It is, High Lady,” the longer standing of her bodyguards declared, “I swear it.”

“Menkh, come in,” she said, breathing deep and composing herself, keeping the ribbon-device that was weapon and protection in one at the ready.

The balding man entered, his hands spread where she could see them, and sank to the floor in reverence. Keeping out of range of swift strikes, Pasht looked into the antechamber beyond, and saw only the forms of the two guards on the door, the others by the windows were in place too, all the while she kept Menkh under furtive observation.

Anger replaced fear, as she realized no harm was to come to her. “Why do you disturb me three hours before the suns rise Menkh?”

“My Lady,” he said, “ther- a messenger has come.”

“What? What manner of messenger?”

“An Anubis Guard.”

Her blood ran cold again, and in her hearts she forgave Menkh. “We must not keep him waiting,” she said, but dithered, “fetch my garments, rouse my servants.”

A messenger from the One.

Image


The Anubis Guard were the rarest of all jaffa, and certainly the most feared, not necessarily for their prodigious skill at arms but for what they represented. They were the heralds and messengers of the One himself, and they spoke with his words.

In ancient days Anubis had been defeated by the goa’uld, and his armies disbanded, but Ra had retained a small group of his warriors who had forsaken loyalty to the abominated one as a symbol of his triumph. In time it had become the sign of his high status.

Under Atum, the Anubis Guard were more exalted, but also more feared. Those whom the One desired slain would at times find a single Anubis Guard sent to fetch them, and few warriors would bar their path, even the most loyal would quail, for should the Anubis Guard fail, all those who served the lord to whom they were sent were held to be shol’va, traitors, and their families exiled into the encampments of the untouchables, and their own lives were forfeit.

There was something disturbing for Pasht to know that even her most stalwart guards would, more than likely, simply let the emissary of the One slay her if it came down to it. The visit, unannounced and unheralded, filled her with a creeping dread. Had she done something that had been discovered? She did not think so – not that she had always kept to the laws of Atum, but there were far more egregious transgressions by the score.

Had someone framed her for the Sole Lord’s displeasure? That could be worse, she could not offer any justification for such a thing, and the Emissary might completely blindside her.

The thought of fleeing came to her, but she quashed it. Empowered as they were, this was still a jaffa warrior, still beneath her, and she would not run before such a foe.

She would also not show weakness, she made the messenger wait, but only as long as she dared. Time enough to be attired, again in the solar-disc finery of her first return to her world. She met the warrior in her audience chamber, high backed throne behind her. The lamps had not been lit, and the moons’ light shone through lancet windows, creating stark bars on the floors.

She had harried her servants to make the warrior comfortable but he had not removed the canine helmet that bore the mark of his station, let alone eaten, and stood in her hall, waiting for her.

She came to her high chair, and sat. “Speak, messenger,” she said.

Its blue gemstone eyes regarded her steadily.

“High Lady Pasht,” he said. “hear and obey the words of the Sole Lord.”

“I hear, and will obey,” she said, relief flooding her; she would not die tonight. Her guards seemed more at ease at once, too, appreciating the significance.

“Dismiss your guards,” the Anubis warrior said, “the words of the Sole Lord are for you alone.”

She nodded, and waved a hand, and her warriors swept out.

“Know ye of Sheol?” he asked.

“A prison world,” she said, “none return from thence,” She wondered frightfully if she was to be sent there, but she doubted it now. “No more than that.” There were rumours, but she had not quite believed them.

“Know now that it is overturned, its prisoners set loose and the garrison slain, by wildling warriors from beyond the Domain of the Sole Lord.”

“This is scarcely believable. How?”

“They escaped with sorcery.”

“Oh. What manner?” she asked, you could anoint a jaffa warrior in armour, but they were still prone to superstition.

“True sorcery, not the technology of the goa’uld. The power of the ancients.”

Tales of myth flashed through her mind. She wanted to say it was a jest, but Anubis warriors did not travel to carry the Sole Lord’s humour to his people. “Then their skills would be very valuable,” Pasht said.

“This is so,” the Anubis warrior agreed, his helmet dipping in agreement. “When they fought the servants of the One, they slew the best part of two companies of soldiers.”

“How many were there?”

“Less than a dozen,” he said.

“A mighty feat,” she said, jaffa warriors varied in quality, but even so that was impressive.

“This is why they were kept alive. To study them on Sheol, while symbiotes who could possess them matured.”

Pasht understood at once. The Sole Lord had the means to download minds, but such means had a loss factor that would not be acceptable, if their knowledge was to be harvested the most effective way would be to make them hosts to goa’uld symbiotes.

A pang of memory came to her, the hosts she had worn down the years. Her species were parasitic, taking possession of other beings and wearing them. She had long worn humans, though Atum had commanded them to take hosts manufactured for them without minds, she remembered the last host, Sheyala, whom she had possessed. There was no more intimate relationship possible, utter control, but for all that she had favoured Sheyala, the young woman had been a servant who had offered herself to her, and Pasht felt she had always been kind. At times she missed the thoughts of her host, the second opinions. She’d not always listened to them, but it had been a comfortable equilibrium. She wondered what had happened to Sheyala, Atum had taken the hosts of the goa’uld somewhere, where, and how, she did not know, but she imagined they yet lived, for leverage, for most had seen all that their masters did. She brought her mind back to the warrior who stood, less frightful but still daunting before her. “They were of unknown species?”

“Mostly,” the Anubis warrior confirmed, “the code of life was taken from each and inculcated by Tefnut in her newer young.” Goa’uld symbiotes had a high chance of killing the host and themselves in species they did not understand on an intimate, genetic level, goa’uld queens could assimilate new genetic material to prevent this risk of rejection.

“When were they captured?” Pasht asked.

“Four years ago. They were captured by Lord Sokar at Terra Agartha.”

She remembered hearing of the skirmish, one where Lord Sokar had taken a second Heart of Light. “Then the symbiotes for them could now take host?” they would only control their hosts in sleep and blackouts, it would take seven years to grow to maturity, but the blending could be attempted.

“Yes,” the Anubis warrior said. “That is not why I have come to you.”

“I am the Sole Lord’s to command,” she said. He said nothing, and she felt a moment of anxiety.

“Spies bring word that these renegades have left the Tau’ri once more. You are charged to find them, and to bring them as prisoners to the Sole Lord. With discretion, ensure that the hand of the Sole Lord is not seen in this matter.”

“I hear and obey the words of Atum.”

Image


Pasht slept fitfully after the Anubis warrior’s departure. The following day she sent her guests away, all had heard the news from their own servants, guards and slaves, that an Anubis Warrior had visited their host, most were glad to depart, a few had left before the dawn, and she was able to remain in her chambers, drawing her legs up under her and leaving the windows shuttered against the rising of the suns. A feeling of dread and anticipation washed upon her. She had been left with an intelligence report on her quarry, and the task she had been given was one that daunted her; not the foe so much, for she had been promised that should she ask for materiel support from the Sole Lord, she would have it.

Instead she had quarry whose ships were faster than hers. They had left a nation called Crystal Spires, not a few days past, with intentions of leaving the First World, and thus the protection of its powerful guardians, that would mean that in time they would come to somewhere she could overcome and take them, but she would need to hunt them, to find them.

The group were eclectic. Their leader by some accounts was a species immune to blending, the elder folk of the First World; Atum’s design would not work for her, this Alassë nos Eärendil. She had never been caught at Agartha, slipping between the fingers of her stepfather’s jaffa and fleeing when her subordinates had been, having scouted ahead of them. Perhaps if they had been led by her, none would have been. Pasht decided at once that Alassë was to die.

Their other leader was an Amelia Lowwe, a human, of the Malgravean people; now she understood more of why the Lord Sokar had wanted to take this tribe’s queen to himself, in the hope that she might possess the ancestral abilities this one did. This wasn’t the case, but it was worthy of note; this Lowwe had been seen to manifest powers, but also was an adroit technologist. Pasht knew that more than most this one had to be taken alive; she was human, and would be revivable by a sarcophagus of course, human bodies were easily mended, so she did not need to be alive to be taken.

Fenya ita Suhbekhar, a worshiper of some folk religion inspired by the goa’uld, ironically a priest of Sokar, she was a beastling of the Mystrian folk, but raised in a foreign culture, she had potent abilities in healing and in other advanced traits.

Rylux Crescent, a prince of a land called Dyste, or something like it, and a sorcerer by all accounts, with a manservant of a smaller variety of his own species, the driving force behind much of their survival on Sheol; both would be valuable, and she knew she must find out more about the strange, lizard-like creatures, supposed as kin of dragons.

Sebastian Aldham of Kouralia, the strongest warrior of the group, he had been slain but lived again, once with the Sarcophagus on her stepfather’s throne world, the next time by means unknown but beyond the technology of the peoples who had supported him; he would have to be caught alive.

Sahaeli Namoli, of royal blood, from a deposed lineage. She sensed an opportunity there, and her mind spun plans. This one was a warrior-mystic whose weapon could slay even a kull warrior in a blow, a fascinating threat.

Lily Emptyhoof, the last of their band on Sheol, had been an equine warrior, a replacement for one that Sokar’s jaffa had slain. By Atum’s will she had been placed on Sheol along with the others, to study their interactions.

There were others in their company now, or so the spies said, but Pasht did not yet know if they could be used for Atum’s design. Time would tell.

She set the tablet she had read down on the table, turning it off and securing her, and rising to her feet. It wasn’t the first time she had read the briefing, nor even the third. She could handle the tactics of bringing these warrior-explorers to her. But how to find them, to ensure that they could be brought to Mnewer. That was her problem, that was the web she had to weave.

She did not yet know how to lay her pieces. She slid open the shutters of her library’s window, looking at the river and the temples, hearing the calling in the markets far below.

She turned to her door, “Jeran, call for Menkh, tell him to find Viriera and Sanson,” she said, “and for the servants, I will take lunch in here,” she said, her fingers trailing over the smooth woven paper of a notebook, picking up a reed with it, laying them out on the table.

The two caracal-beastlings she had sent for, her fan bearers, bowed to her as they entered, their foreheads to the ground.

“Rise,” she said to the couple. Her own heraldic animal reflected in these exotic slaves. “I have a different job for you today,” she said, she waved them to the couch across her, “Lunch will be served in a moment,” she said, “I require little of you today, save that you tell me everything of your former home,” she asked, picking up the reed, and sitting next to them.
"While many races in the galaxy, like the Asgard and the Ancients, developed their own technology over many thousands of years, the Goa'uld achieved their current level of technological strength by beating up other races and stealing their toys."

User avatar
The Ctan
Minister
 
Posts: 2726
Founded: Antiquity
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Ctan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:03 pm

The Lanotoiteliyúmë Conflict
The Kinband of Orn’s Hunting Ground, The Outer World
27,453 RV (Reckoning of Vinyatírion)
The 93rd Solar Year of the 190th Long Year of Menelmacar
Year 3,080 of the Sixth Age, 11,680 Solar Years Before Present
“Younger Dryas,” Tarantian Stage, Pleistocene Epoch


The winds on the plateau bit to the bone, and the house’s fire burned brightly, dogs sleeping on the floor. Elenmacil kept his watch, his shoulders bulked up by the furs he wore that gave him a bulkier appearance than the lithe frame beneath. He stood with his back to the fire, and the people with him were good people, and he trusted them. A furtive creeping caught his eye, and his hand darted out, swift and fast, grasping the creature in a motion that used his thumb to break its neck.

The rat died with as little pain as death could bring, and he threw it in a wide arc over the frost-hardened ground. An owl, wildcat or some other beast would have a free meal, while Elenmacil reflectively spoke words of purification that cleansed his hand of any parasites or bacteria; he would not sicken from the scavenger’s parasites.

Here in the outer world, things like this were a concern. The people here were not the people of his homeland, whose learning dated back to the Valar and whom trade and knowledge had enlightened, their speech was different and their knowledge of such things crude at best; he had given advice of course, but he had no way of communicating the germ theory of infectious disease, instead he had to speak in terms of purity. Others of his folk had taken the time to become pilgrims of teaching, to raise up the outer world, but he had no desire to be a king, or a false god.

He had seen such places, in the habitable band where the ice sheets did not suffocate agriculture, and the lives of men did not easily encompass learning without settled agriculture and the division of roles. All of the people of the north wind, the tribes he walked with, knew every skill in their world, they had asked at times, how one made the fine gleaming sword he carried, and Elenmacil had explained as much of metalsmithing as he knew, but they did not understand when he told them that he had never mined for iron himself, and did not know which rocks were the true ore, nor where to strike them. They thought he had been keeping his secrets, and left that line of questioning.

In other places, where civilization of static culture had flowered, there were good reasons not to trust such places. The Ilenans were the nearest, ancient and decadent, a people that were old beyond memory a static, calcified society that sought conquest. These were patterns that Elenmacil knew would be repeated long after the present renewed ice age would reach its end.

He looked to the horizon, the pre-dawn rising of Eärendil, the Morning Star, and he smiled ruefully as he saw its pale light, remote and beautiful. Soon Orn would rise, and his children would begin stoking the fires from embers to life to cook a meal. “Aiya Eärendil, Elenion Ancalima,” he said, smiling as he rose, pacing a little way. It was a rueful smile, a thing of days far gone.

He had not told Orn’s sons that he had once ridden the clouds of Eärendil, above its crushing, acidic atmosphere, in hard-shelled structures of air and spun carbon, the same substance as the embers of their fire; they would not understand, and suspect him more of a god. Beyond the blasphemy, there were great problems with being seen as a god, or a fairy of great power, how could you then explain such things but admit you were unable to heal a lame leg or bring the hunted herds?

A man was all that he claimed to be.

----


Orn’s sons were hunting, and Elenmacil was with them, spear in hand, long straight ash with a biface blade of sharpened flint. He watched with eyes keener than theirs as their prey, a broad-backed mammal whose heavy frame protected it well from blows and whose tusks could be lethal defensive weapons. The kinband was hungry, or they would never risk such hardy prey. Ivid, Orn’s eldest son, and leader of the hunters, was discussing their tactics, they would lie in ambush for the creature, and spring upon it, with their spears they would fence it in and keep its heavy swaying body from inflicting injury then drive spears into its underside.

Elenmacil nodded his understanding with the others, he did not need to say more, it was sound thinking, and as good as any other way; he carried a weapon that would make it easier, but with the spears, it would be as well to slay it that way as any of the others they knew.

“A falling star,” Mord said, his hand pointed skyward, “in daylight. It is an omen of ill.”

Elenmacil could see more of where he pointed, the plume of smoke that trailed from the star was not the fires of re-entry but the stricken engine of an aircraft falling from the sky. Powered flight was rare in the Outer World. He wondered at it, but knew already who it was. His kindred could find him anywhere, and never well.

He wondered what it meant for Orn’s sons, but he could see that proud Ivid was not inclined to ask, keeping his own counsel as a huntsman. “It is,” Elenmacil agreed.

He knew how a flier of his own people had come to crash what looked like three miles from him. His Doom was upon him once more.

----


He had left Orn’s sons and walked toward the crash. As he did so he took caution, watching the sky more than the land. There was no surprise in his eyes when he saw a young elven woman carrying a weapon, a survival gun of some sort, he didn’t recognize the type, but he laughed, and called out to her.

“No one here will know you are threatening them with that,” he called, “try a blade instead, or a flare gun.”

She stared at him over the brush.

“Who are you?”

“My name isn’t important,” Elenmacil said, “I am one of the Randiredelhi,” he said. The wandering elves, exiles of Menelmacar, had existed since its founding, and in some numbers. Some were traders and explorers, others, prospectors, others still political dissidents. A few, dangerous megalomaniacs who sought to set themselves up in power. It wasn’t a comforting soubriquet, but he did not want to offer his true name. Elenmacil was a name of scorn.

“How did you find me?” she asked.

“I dare say,” Elenmacil said, “you found me. The craft of our people rarely malfunction,” he said, gesturing to the flier she had come from, “you were shot down. Who is your enemy?”

“Who knows not? Have you been under a rock?”

“In a cave,” Elenmacil said, though in truth the Sons of Orn did not live in caves except when they needed to shelter from the worst the weather had to offer. “Lower your weapon, sister, I mean you no harm.”

She sighed, “I was shot down by a ship of the Lanotoiteliyúmë.”

“The Numberless Horde?” Elenmacil said, “I’ve not heard the name before.”

She gave him a look, “You really have been under a rock. Anyway, it should not be long before rescue arrives.”

And there it was, Elenmacil thought. He had long ago made it so that his kindred could not find him without misfortune, he had hoped to avoid them entirely, but his Doom would not rest, and events fell so that he would meet his estranged kindred far from home, in any circumstance. Coincidence was the slave of the Fate that fell upon him.

“You are of House Eärendil?” he asked.

She gave him a look, “How can you tell that?”

“I know it,” he said, “because the Footsteps of Doom have brought you here. Something dogs you, something that will bring death and ruin here. You must shut down your beacon at once.”

“I don’t think so,” she said, “what do you expect me to do, walk across the world?”

“If need drives you,” he said, “yes. A few years are not a long time to tarry.”

“Perhaps not to you,” the younger elven woman said, her hand protectively on her weapon once more. In a year the Lanotoiteliyúmë may have consumed us all.”

“If you don’t, they will find you,” Elenmacil said. She paused.

“You don’t even know what they are!” she snapped, “How do you know that they are coming after me?”

“Think about the coincidence of our meeting,” Elenmacil said, “that is no mere chance. I am Elenmacil nossë Eärendil.”

“Elenmacil the Unready?”

He sighed, “That is my soubriquet, but not one I favour.”

“You’re dead. You have been…” she paused, “You’re dead.”

“No,” he said, “but we soon will be. Know this, I am cursed,” he said, “for my failures in the primal wars of our people I failed, beyond absolutely. My own brother, as he died, laid the Doom upon me that his line of descendants would always in their hour of need be drawn to me.”

She looked at him, “What are you raving about?” Her opinion of him had gone down with the revelation of his name. She looked to her wrist, where a flex-screen blinked, and she brought glasses to her face, looking skyward.

He sighed and his hand reached behind him, under the furs he wore and to the coat beneath, hardwearing and ancient, he took a weapon that was four generations older than the current ones, a pistol built around a miniature hydrogen cell, one with the power to last for a long-year, one hundred forty-four turns of the seasons, of infrequent use. A wanderer’s weapon. “Your enemy comes,” he said. It wasn’t a statement.

“I see them,” she said, “they’re close now.”

----


The ice lit up with smoke from the debris of the falling target. The first of the Numberless had fallen, and he had been surprised, even relieved at it. Its frame was metallic, sparking with power-links open where he had shot it. It was an aircraft, but he was a fine shot even by the standards of the Quendi, and his aim had been aided by magecraft that steered his hand when muscle and bone could not.

“Nothing alive here,” Elenmacil said.

“There won’t be,” her name was Vanyaindo nos Eärendil. She was a star farer; the fleet was not a militant force, but neither quite a commercial one, the law enforcement hand of the Menelmacari government in space. Until recently there had been no need to build warships, nor had there been any for a thousand years, and rapid militarization. Guided by diviners the fleet had been militarising for thirty years before the Lanotoiteliyúmë first appeared.

There had always been rumours of course, things found in far reaches of the Sol System or strange monolithic ruins that suggested other worlds could be visited, but the Lanotoiteliyúmë had still been shocking in their numbers and resource. Some suggested they had been responsible for the loss of periodic signals from long range colony ships that had journeyed out of the reach of Anar’s system. Vanyaindo had filled him in as they walked toward the crash site of the enemy vessel.

“We don’t know who created them, or why,” she said, “rumour has it that someone sent them forth to suppress other developing civilizations. To strangle rivals in the crib,” she said. “We are sorely pressed on every front my Lord,” once, Elenmacil had been a Lord, mighty among the Eldar, but that had been before his shame.

There was nothing but wind on the plateau, and they had burned down Vanyaindo’s ship, thermite charges searing through the metals that made up its powerplant and computer brain, burning down into the taiga beneath.

The same black dread that always took him was with them though. How did he explain, that he knew there would be more. His brother’s curse laid heavily on him. The burning metal took him back to the fires of another age, and another enemy.

----


The Fourth Lóki War
Tol-Aerontiris, Southern Airemma, Menelmacar
8,321 RV (Reckoning of Vinyatírion)
The 133th Solar Year of the 57th Long Year of Menelmacar
Year 1,859 of the Fourth Age, 30,812 Solar Years Before Present
Last Glacial Maximum, Tarantin Stage, Pleistocene Epoch


The harbour was a charnel house of death, the enemy had flown on, content in their victory, in the city that had been smashed to flinders and burnt to cinders, in the lives ruined. Their statement had been absolute, and their aggression a shock that had dealt perhaps the most serious blow to Menelmacari confidence of its epoch. Three times before had the Menelmacari warred with the Dragons, three times they had won. This time it seemed certain that their gains would be reversed, the new Draconic Warlord Ghashgûl, and the Lughai followers who served him, men of a different and stronger mien than the majority of human-folk, the dwellers in towers, had inflicted a series of devastating defeats.

The swift iron-banded ships of the House of Eärendil had long been the pride of Menelmacari defence, key to defending against the intrusions of dragons and the raids and pernicious violence of the Orkor. For a thousand years, they had kept the peace, along with their friendly rivals of House Círdan, forming the swift response of the kingdom-confederation whose growing power had incorporated the diverse peoples of the islands, liberating Avarin enclaves and human towns from the onerous hands of taxation and slavery alike, opening up lines of trade and more.

Elenmacil Linto Eldamanar nos Eärendil was the seventeenth lord of House Eärendil. Unlike most of their kindred the Eärendili were mixed between men and elves, an inheritance of their ancestor, the Half-Elven mariner whose name they bore, and his kindred. Two noble lines came from his sons, Elros the elder, who had chosen to live as a man and became in time hailed as a king of men, and Elrond, the younger. Elenmacil traced his lineage from Elrond, lore master and lord of wisdom, by his sons in turn, and occupied the position of Autumn King of House Eärendil.

In each generation of the long lives of the Men of Menelmacar a lord ascended the throne, but in that time the elven lords of the household took a regency, often for forty years at a time, as chief most lord of the House of Eärendil. Elenmacil was Lord Paramount at the outbreak of Ghashgûl’s war, and he had tarried too long in coming.

As he stood on the battlefield, he knew at once that his judgement had been deeply won. The first Lóki War had been a primal conflict, the second and third mostly against cold-drakes, lesser brood of Morgoth, without the ability to create fire from their breath. He had imagined from the reports he had seen that this was no more than that.

The Ahyalóki, shape-shifting creatures of dragon type, had been able to suborn much of the defences of the island-fortress of Tol-Aerontiris, starting explosions in the stockpiles of dragon-flame oils that were used to retaliate against dragons in kind, that had unroofed a large part of the defensive citadel. The dragons had swept in in the confusion and burned out the defenders, leaving them caught between the inferno within and the coastline of the island, in harbours choked with smoke and steam, great lingwilóki had blockaded the harbour.

By the time that they had arrived at Tol-Aerontiris the Eärendil ships had found nothing but flinders on the foam, but they had encountered the fish-dragons in the water of the home sea for the first time in an age. Tol-Aerontiris had long guarded the inner sea against the dragons and now they were past this key isle of guard, and able to sink trade ships.

And it had been Elenmacil’s fault entirely. His brother Isilnár had been the captain of the formidable Falmayorissë the Wave Rider, the greatest ship of her age, and now identifiable only by the topmast broken across the harbour’s side.

“My Most Noble Lord,” Elenmacil’s equerry said as he mounted the remnants of the harbour tower, “we have found your brother among the survivors.”

“Send him to me.”

“That is not possible, My Lord,” Elenmacil turned to stare at him, and at once he knew what had become of Isilnár, the splintering of ship’s wood echoed in his ears as another of the casualty vessels was drawn out to clear the harbour. There was no way to answer in his heart.

“Lead me to him,” Elenmacil said.

----


The Houses of Healing had been sacked by the tower-folk and the were-dragons, but they had been set in order again as best could be done, where they had not been razed to the ground. The sound of horror echoed within, surgery with insufficient healers and insufficient magecraft to staunch the pain, the sound of the dying who passed. Elenmacil was no great mage, but he could feel the death here, of spirits passing from bodies. He stopped in the arched doorway, beneath defaced images of Estë and Nienna, both of the Valier’s stone faces had been hewn off and lay in fragments on the floor, and only the larger chunks of the defacement had been swept aside.

He felt as though he were a statue himself, unable to go further, and he stood a long moment in dread of what lay within the pale building, marred by fires without, its doors smashed across the courtyard of flowers that yet bloomed in the spring, barely touched or trammelled. He stood and gazed, as he had since his landing, in battle array, ready to fight a battle already won by the foe.

“This way, My Lord.”

He followed, and the scene within was no less bleak than any other on the island fortress. The wounded lay in rows, close packed, feet almost touching one another, and though it chagrined him he did not see them, for at the far side of the hall, his brother lay, and he knew at once that his fears were true. This would be the last time he would see Isilnár in this life.

“Elen,” Isilnár croaked, his voice was harshly rasping, his body burned in flame, he had survived, but it was one of the tower-folk who had taken his life, his wounds were deep and though staunched they were still oozing thick, dark sludge that ran through his veins in place of blood, a morgul blade crafted by the Tower Folk, a poison of a kind none had heard of before that had reaped many lives. “Where is Alta?”

He did not know, he said so.

The wounded man looked at him, “You could have prevented this, El,” he said, “I sent word by the Sanwë-Calar,” he said, the thought-lamps that were the primary means of long distance communication, faster than telegraph and able to cross the oceans without any cable, and seek the specific details of a mind, they were derivatives of the ancient Palantir, but replicated only their communication functions, though with greater clarity.

Elenmacil had received word, but he had always regarded Isil as flighty, and had doubted word that the Tower Folk were marching in any numbers that could have overturned the Island Fortress, let alone that their boats would suffice to make the passage across the stormy straits. Isilnár’s message had suggested that he had good intelligence from the Rangers, but Elenmacil had not taken it to heart. “You could have prevented this,” he said, “you wanted to make sure that all of your ships looked as well as they could.” He had underestimated the dragons, and the Tower-folk, and his brother had paid the price, along with all of the people of the Isle of Guard.

He wanted to deny it, to say he was only being cautious, he could not have known that the citadel would fall so quickly, He could truly not have known, for the citadel was deep-delved on all sides and its stones enchanted to resist artillery and dragon-fire alike, little would have breached it from without. But his heart knew the lie, his spirit had been weak. “I could,” he said, he knew from the winds and the tides that his ironclads could have been here two days ago if he had set out the moment his brother’s message had reached him.

“Come closer, El,” Isilnár said, and grasped his hand, aching slowness.

“Never fail our family again, El,” he said, “swear it to me. Swear to me you will find my daughters, and keep them safe, and their children after them. Give me your oath on it.”

Elenmacil looked into the dying kinsman’s eyes, and he said the words.

----


Orn’s Land 27,453 RV

“They will come again, and soon,” Vanyaindo said, “we must be gone.”

Elenmacil did not disagree. He turned his face to the sky, and he took up the spear he had carried, it would be no use against this foe but there would be times to have use of it. “We must not lead them to Orn’s Folk,” he said, “to the west.”

They had run for a day and a night, without rest, they were on foot and their enemy was able to break the speed of sound, but there was little either of them had that would give away from the air apart from the people here, who had no higher technology than the oven and the spear caster. Vanyaindo had told him that the enemy seemed to be technology hunters, and it eased his mind, they would not seek to harm people who did not pose a threat, or perhaps they simply did not view the lives of most humans as worth the ammunition.

But the spectre of doom was ever at Elenmacil’s back, for he understood that a simple aid was not enough. They risked no fire on the ice plains, even as they ran along the side of the glacier-front a dozen miles north of the wastelands, and at Vanyaindo’s suggestion, they used none of their technology, though Elenmacil carried little save for the gun in any case.

They told stories. She was ever curious of him, this fossil from the prehistory of his people, but he knew her. The descendant of Isilnár, for his Oath had laid a doom upon him, to always be on hand for his kinsman’s children in their hour of need, the Doom was a high and terrible thing, and he had taken it willingly, in a moment of passion.

She was not the first, nor the hundredth, at first he welcomed it, a chance to lay amends for the thousands who had died for his failures, at Tol-Aerontiris and in the greater war, the first large scale defeat suffered by the Realm of the Swordsman of Heaven, and one whose fault laid wholly at his own feet. That the storied Glorfindel had arrived in the third year of the next long year and waged a campaign that had driven the tower-folk and dragons back to the lands they had occupied when the first coming of the folk of Eregion had first liberated the tribes they had enslaved did not salve Elenmacil’s conscience, as much as it did his homeland’s pride, and ever afterward he had been known by the soubriquet Elenmacil the Unready, he who had failed to defend the borders of the realm, and who had caused the defeat by Ghashgûl, who had himself been slain by Glorfindel thirty five years later.

By the time they risked rest they had travelled league after league from their original location, leaving the wide plains of Orn and heading into the territory of his rival, Huree. The pair had avoided Huree as assiduously as they had Orn’s folk, not because they were enemies though that was a risk that was ever present, but because they still looked to the skies, expecting pursuit.

The caves were used by Huree’s clan as their ceremonial place, Elenmacil knew, but they wouldn’t be back here for many months or years, so long as he and his countrywoman cleared up well after themselves there would be no disruption, and they were protected from the rain that rolled in as freezing sleet surging through the ice-bouldered plain.

Vanyaindo was looking at the bright ochre illustrations in the walls, rust-paint that gave the textures of animal forms. “Are these icons, religious things?” she asked, “they are surprisingly beautiful.”

Elenmacil looked across the cave, they had lit a small fire that he had placed tubers into, clad in clay. “No,” he said, “the gods of Huree’s people are in the wind and the sky,” he paused, “they draw animals because the hunt is their chief activity as a people,” he turned one of the clay-wrapped tubers, “it’s not how they make their food, for the most part, but farming they teach by doing. These pictures they use to teach children the way to know which animals are which, which are dangerous, which are good to eat, and more.”

She gave a strange look, out into the mouth of the cave, it was no grandiose structure, she had to stoop to stand, and the sleet was washing older snow away from the entrance. Vanyaindo squatted by the entrance and looked to the sky.

“Tell me about this Numberless Horde,” Elenmacil said.

She looked at him, “You’ve spent too much time with the primitives, forefather, they’re the biggest threat out there right now. We came across them about a century ago,” she said, “they attacked one of our colony ships and swarmed over the colonies in the Oort Cloud, they’ve mostly been attacking our industrial assets in the Sol System. This is the furthest in they’ve ever come,” she said, “they’re machines, we think they were built to suppress technological development, when they detect radio signals they come in and attack.”

“Ah, the Great Silence,” Elenmacil said, “I had heard of such things from the Sámavilri,” the mind-fliers, far-seers who gazed at the stars and saw beyond them, specialist diviners who had explored deep into the far depths of space long before the first Menelmacari had walked upon Isil or Carnil.

They had been the best-known part of Menelmacari deep space exploration in the fourth and fifth ages, and the term was less used now as the original craft had diverged into more specialised and modern doctrines, now that walking on other worlds was possible in person. Vanyaindo looked at him as though he was a relic. “They might not be wholly responsible, but they’re a serious challenge. If we didn’t have the means to predict them they would have overrun us,” she said, “the seers say that it will be years before we win yet.”

He wondered, it was customary not to predict one’s own casualties in specific terms, and the specifics of the future were often harder to see than general trends, but he wondered nonetheless if any seer had known of Vanyaindo’s demise. Prophecy was the art of seeing into the Music of the Ainur, or occasionally visions by Illúvatar, such things were the gift of higher powers and rare, but the art of prediction with magic. There had been a time in history when seers had tried to intervene in as much as their growing knowledge had taught them, but it had soon become dangerous in itself. Risk was the essence of success and total aversion to risk began to risk the Menelmacari becoming, as the legendary Fëanor had warned in rallying his followers, “Shall we mourn here deedless forever a shadow-folk mist-haunting dropping vain tears in the thankless sea?”

Prediction was a tool that could smother a people as surely as dependence on the Powers.

He looked at her, and knew she was soon to die. He did not know from prediction or prophecy, but instead from experience. His Doom was operating once more.

He had sworn a terrible oath, in the House of Healing on the island of Tol-Aerontiris. He had sworn to aid his brother’s heirs in their hour of need, never to be absent from their sides.

----


8,321 RV, Tol-Aerontiris

“Come closer,” Isilnár said, his burnt hand reaching up to grasp Elenmacil’s, “Swear to me,” he said, “swear by the Doomsman that you will rescue my children, that you will never abandon my family in their hour of need.”

He gave his hand to the dying elf, looking into his eyes. “I swear it.

    “Let me stand between death and the heirs of Isilnár
    “From now until the Breaking of the World,
    “My oath remember, Mandos and Vairë,
    “Eru Illúvatar! Let my fate be forever joined
    “With the house of my Kinsman in their hour of need!”

----


Huree’s Land 27,453 RV

Isilnár had passed content, and Elenmacil had indeed saved his daughters, but the oath he had sworn had taken on a life of its own, woven into the universe itself, an oath sealed by death carried its own power. Shamed by his failures Elenmacil had sought death in the war and the greater dragon-war that followed it, but neither time had it claimed him. He had renounced title, to avoid being stripped of it, and left in a fast boat for the realms of the Yaruhos, the Shadow-Folk, as the Menelmacari called their regressive cousins in holdfasts and diminishing power across the world, a name that had become a slur in years since for those realms of elves whose people accomplished little.

There not three hundred and fifty years later, he had met Arquendis nos Eärendil, whose capture by the king of the Yaruhos Kingdom of Calatelma, whose greed for a wife of trueborn noble kin had gone beyond reason and who Elenmacil had slain. He had thought it a boon at the time, that his Doom drew him at the hour of need, a pact well made.

For a time he had served as governor of Calatelma before it had declined, and that had been the last flowering of his personal fame and the last time he had truly been a lord and captain of men. But since then, others had been drawn to him, or he had been drawn to the misfortunes of Isilnár’s heirs, and rarely had it gone so well. A dozen scions of the line of Isilnár, Lord of Tol-Aerontiris and master of the Falmayorissë had met him. During the Schism of the Ambarónanorsta he had failed to save Istima nos Eärendil, and during the Great Orc Migration he had been with Silindo nos Eärendil as his ship had been run aground by foul storms during the migration and the master killed with all but five of his crew.

Misfortune had mounted down the years, for there were times when a quick blade and perhaps a sharp wit, if he had truly sharpened them, could turn fate around, but Fate always drew him to disasters involving the Heirs of Isilnár. He watched Vanyaindo, and knew that doom would befall her, perhaps, just perhaps, it would be a single foe, and he had already slain it, but until they parted company, he could not know.

The Long Years had come and with them the youthful, often adventurous, children of his kin had come, and more often than not, they had died before him Silindo and he had fought back to back on the bows of their hydroplane ship, and they had each slain two dozen orcs, but a bullet had felled him, and Elenmacil was little use against those. Istima had fallen victim to poison in the intrigues of the far Sunrise Lands and the disgraced Lord had not the skill to heal her.

He had passed beyond the realms of the Eldalië and into the Outer World, at times he had journeyed back only to travel far in company without his kindred, he had gone to the stars in the first wave of colonists, and time and again his doom had caught him.

He had implored the Weaver of Fate and the Doomsman of the Valar to lift his oath, he had tried time and time again to save his kin, but always he was there at their death, and rarely was he able to save them. He had turned to cursing them, and then to despair; the thought of death had long tempted him, but on the other side of death waited the people of Tol-Aerontiris and the other victims of his complacency, and he did not wish to meet them, as for the Quendi death held no uncertainty but only the prospect of reunion and for him, recrimination.

He looked at Vanyaindo and frowned. Even here the fate he had sworn himself to all those millennia ago had found him. He had hoped many times that leaving to reduce the chance of his curse finding him but there was no sign of that happening, year after year the most astounding fates turned the odds against him, and he was presented the same chance in each passing generation that flew by. It had been over one hundred and thirty long years – the Yéni of Menelmacari Calendars which equalled one hundred forty-four solar years – and almost as many generations had passed. And he had seen perhaps half as many of Isilnár’s Heirs die, less and first and more as the familial tree of his brother grew; most did not of course fall into the need that made the Doom operative.

But time and again, it was.

Looking at Vanyaindo, Elenmacil made a choice.

Without a further word, he stood, and left. He was tired of failure, her fate would be her own. She called after him and he ignored her, walking into the cold.

He would not only seek to deny the Oath in the future, but he would cast aside its fundamental duty. Her fate would be her own.

That night, Elenmacil looked through tears of bitter cold at the pale blade he carried until the morning star rose over the horizon once more.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."


Return to NationStates

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Avraland, Bolrieg, Despoticania, Lillorainen, Port Ember, Teressien

Advertisement

Remove ads