[PDQ] The Grand Mythos Game Thread

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Northern Continent of Salustutis: Outside of Askeladd's Hold

Thorfinn shivered in the frigid night air, his furs unable to fully keep the stinging cold at bay. His hand, wrapped around the shaft of his spear, was all but numb, and it was only thanks to his impressive willpower that he was able to keep his teeth from chattering up a storm. He would've done almost anything to have a brazier, or even just a torch, at his post, but the Kald had forbidden such luxuries. Something about how light cut down their field of vision or something.

By Kaviken, he hated getting stuck with the night watch! Besides himself and a few other unlucky grunts, everyone else was safely tucked away in their homesteads, warm beneath their blankets and (for the older ones) sleeping off a night's worth of mead and ale. And it wasn't like anything even happened at night anyways... Still, Askeladd was the damn Kald. Until someone managed to take the bastard down a few notches, his orders stood.

Stamping his feet, the irate Stryfe did his best to get his blood pumping again. Spirits take him, this wasn't even fair! He'd had sentry duty three times this week, while that smug Bjorn'd only done it once! He should be the one out here freezing his ass off!

"Dam... ou, da... damn you..."

What the... Shaking his head, Thorfinn peered out into the darkness, his sharp eyes looking for any irregularities among the snow. He could've sworn he had heard something, something other than the wind, anyways, but it was hard to tell. Could very well just been his head imagining something. And he didn't think he could see anything out ther-

"Damn you, damn you, damn you, damn you, damn you..."

No, wait, he was definitely hearing someone's voice! But who the hell would be dumb enough to be wandering around this late at night? Looking in the approximate direction the voice was coming from, the sentry squinted, trying to pierce the veil of night. There, clambering over that snowdrift...

"Damn you, damn you, damn you, damn you..."

For a minute, Thorfinn could only gape at the bizarre figure walking towards him. Though it had a similar build, there was no way the stranger was any type of Stryfe he'd ever seen; its body was far too small, and was mostly hairless. And that wasn't even the strangest part! Aside from a pair of ragged leggings, it looked like the creature was entirely naked, and... it didn't have any arms?

"The hell are you?" Thorfinn muttered, taking a few steps towards the strange figure. He'd heard rumors about another race from the far South, short ones that came carrying bizarre weapons. Could this maybe be one of them? But how had it gotten this far north? There were at least a dozen other prominent Holds between here and the ocean; there was no way it could have just sneaked by them.

"Damn you, damn you, damn you, damn you..."

Nevertheless, the creature was here, and it was stumbling closer and closer. Growling, the Stryfe braced himself, leveling his spear in the stranger's direction. "Stop right there, you bastard!" he roared out. "Or prepare to face the spear of Thorfinn Bonesplinter!" (No one actually called him Bonesplinter, but hey, a guy can dream)

If the bizarre figure heard the boast, it didn't seem to react in any noticeable way. Its stumbling pace continued unabated, and it didn't even bother to glance in Thorfinn's direction. All the while, it continued to mumble, though the Stryfe couldn't tell if it was talking to itself or to someone else. Still, one thing was clear: it was going to take a show of force to make this thing stop.

Grinning, Thorfinn cocked his arm back, his spear clutched tightly in his hand. The chilly air, once the only thing he could focus on, began to fade away as he focused on his target, a solid thirty yards away. He may not have been as strong or as fast as some of the other warriors, but if there was one thing Thorfinn took pride in, it was his accuracy. Arrows, axes, spears, so long as he could throw or shoot it, he was a master with the weapon.

With a grunt, the Stfye chucked his weapon, watching its arc with satisfaction. He had adjusted for the slight breeze perfectly, and it looked like he had put just enough strength into the throw.

Sure enough, the spear thudded into the stranger's chest with lethal accuracy. There was a burst of golden (weird color, Thorfinn though) blood as the metal tip tore through the figure's left breast and jutted out of its back. The solid half foot of wood driven through the creature was able to do what the earlier challenge could not, and the creature stumbled to a halt.

Even from this distance, the sentry's sharp eyes could make out the way the figure turned its head, staring blankly at the lance buried in its chest. Thorfinn's lips curled up in a slight grin as he imagined the emotions running through his victim's head. Shock, disbelief, pain, terror, everything that it should feel after being slain by a warrior of his caliber! Heh, he wouldn't be surprised if it just keeled over and died without so much as a peep.

He did not expect it to grab the spear in its mouth, rip it out of its chest, and bite said spear in half.

Thorfinn's already pale complexion whitened even further as the stranger continued to walk forward, apparently not even phased by the hole in its chest. A hole, the Stryfe noted with a growing sense of anxiety, that seemed to be healing at quite the prodigious rate.

...Maybe it would be a good idea to see if Askeladd was awake.

Damn you double post!

Other happenings on Salustutis

Ren 8/8

The beaten god had fled without acknowledging her presence. Not that she minded. It was much simpler to ignore others and continue on without them. Ren checked that the Arena was fixing itself nicely. Every time that god battled here, he caused a mess. No control whatsoever. She walked on the edge of the area, checking for cracks. Satisfied that she found none, the spirit turned to leave. Then she got a message from Aen. Sighing internally (not that she could sigh externally anymore), she began to prepare for his second request. He wasn't a bad god to serve, but she couldn't get past how she felt about him. There was something about him that frightened her, made her feel she couldn't trust him completely. It made her feel guilty, because he'd never shown her anything but kindness, yet he invaded her nightmares.

Ren held up her hand and a small container of glass appeared. Ren let the tendrils of her spirit reach out across the Arena, gathering droplets of blood filled with residual fighting spirit and willpower. She funneled the substance into the container, conjuring a stop and capping it when she had enough. Then she teleported it away.

Aen 20/30 1/2

Once they got far enough away from the mortals, Aen took on his usual form, inspecting the arm piece he'd recently created. He sent a message to Ren, and it didn't take long for the blood filled glass to appear in his hand. He'd stop expecting Ren to answer him, but had come to rely on her help. It wasn't ideal, but he didn't mind. The fact that she listened at all was better than he'd ever expected. Perhaps she'd never trust him, but he could still rely on her. Now for what he'd wanted it for.

The small glass fit in perfectly, as Ren had made it exactly the way he'd wanted her to. The blood inside began to glow as it connected with the gauntlet. Gold, purple, red, blue, green, and plenty of colors in between. He invoked the power Venator had left behind to bring her personality back, and the tubes shaped in runic symbols filled with his own blood began to glow in tune with that within the phial. Hopefully the will inside the blood he'd gathered would be enough.

Melanthios 23 AP, 0 MP

Melanthios teleported himself to his library, he was glad to be done with that conversation. And he was glad he didn't have to fight Aen.. Though it would have been amusing. But he needed some peace right now, his next project required his full attention."Another agent is about to be born, please lead me your strength, brothers..." It seemed M'endar needed his help first. Well that was no problem, helping his allies was something he enjoyed doing. He started a spell, and combined that with the power of his orb. It began to take on a strange black liquid form, but under M'endar's guidance it would shape into a new demigod. He send it to him, and then grabbed one of his robes from the closet.

He placed it on the table and smiled, this robe would soon be filled with a new power. He summoned one of the pieces of Nivix power, and placed it on top of the robe. But even with all his power focused on this project, it would still be very hard.. he had to ask someone for help, yes the help of one god should be enough.... Like his brother M'endar. He grinned as he send him an message. "I hope my assist will aid you, to create yet another powerful apprentice. I hope that in return, you will lend your help to me. I am planning to make an item, unlike any the universe has seen before. And I would very much appreciate your help with this project, M'endar."

And with that out of the way, it was finally time for the merger. He began conjuring up a spell, which would bind the two items together. He looked at his orb, which was helping him with creating his new item. He wondered how much stronger his new item would be than the orb. He then focused back on the spell, and began pumping even more magic into it. He was happy that he knew a few things about the subject, and he also knew that without M'endar's help he would have a big problem. But he was sure his brother would help him, after all he was probably his most trusted friend.

M'endaxius - 23/30 AP, 1/2 MP

M'endar was puzzled. Its plea for help was only answered with silence. But then a orb of power flew over the horizon to meet the Deceiver. M'endar smiled, help had come at last. It knew what to do. It grabbed the orb and thrust it into the chaotic vortex of power. The soon-to-be demigod was now in a state of flux. His mortality was now being stripped away, the body now but a discarded shell. But what was this? It was being reabsorbed into the essence. The long arms and face were stained with the black ooze from the birth fluid and the scars were still there, but apart from that the body was in good condition. Suddenly it was knocked back by a scream from the soon-to-be demigod. The mouth and eyes just holes from which you could see the divine essence within. M'endar took this opportunity to answer Melanthios's message.

"I hope my assist will aid you, to create yet another powerful apprentice. I hope that in return, you will lend your help to me. I am planning to make an item, unlike any the universe has seen before. And I would very much appreciate your help with this project, M'endar."

"A favour for a favour then? Why, of course. As that is how this alliance of ours works."

It conjured up an orb of energy of its own. Black and ever shifting in a chaotic pattern, pretty to the eyes. But if any mortal dared to stick their hand in it, they would soon see their flesh became corrupted before their very eyes. With a flick of the wrist, it sent the orb to Melanthios. A little later, a surge of Vantric's power engulfed the body of the demigod. As usual it sent a reply. The parts were in place now... All the demigod needed was time. Time to rise up and...

"Thank you. We must meet soon, friend. Many wheels are beginning to turn..."

Zareth: 24 , 2

"Another agent is about to be born, please lead me your strength, brothers..."

Agents... of course.

But M'endar had been so long away and the bridges that bonded Zareth and his brothers had started falling into disrepair. He made note to check on his shadow brother as soon as his business was concluded. Melanthios had already left but his actions could be felt across void of space. How far apart they seemed to have grown...so many secrets. well that would change as well, provided Zareth's plans went as he hoped.

All the while he felt an ethereal energy gathering around Aen. Part of it felt familiar, like a presence he had not felt for thousands of years. And here was Zareth, thinking he had a monopoly on things like that.

I see what you're doing there.

Golden Orchid - Somewhere in Almia

Aside from a small grimy window embedded in the ceiling of the attic, only a few candles provided the dim light for the four figures sat around a table, all rapt in debate. None noticed a pair of glowing eyes watching them from the darkness of a corner. Above the group hung a framed pamphlet, it's edges yellowing with age.

By the Grace of Aen and Roe, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Valor IV of Humanity, King of Chama, Chief of the Changeling Clans, Head of the Rowan and Heir of the Mandate of the Bride, hereby declares by decree that belonging to, aiding or abetting the rebellious organisation known as the Fellowship is to be from the 15th of M'endari in the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety six of the White Flower onwards considered treason against the Imperial Crown, for which the penalty is death.

"The Eldarwen option is too risky!" the middle-aged Rowan exclaimed, his beard streaked with grey. He was Golden Bear, founder of the Fellowship. "Even if it is possible, we would have to find a Changeling of the Kin clan willing to sacrifice himself."

The Kinderven boy known as Shrew, simultaneously the oldest and youngest of the group, shook his head. Despite his apparent eleven years of age he was at-least five centuries old and an experienced military tactician.

"There are lots of angry young men out there who would die for the Revolution and the greater good. Besides, people like a martyr."

"We already have more than enough martyrs!" the Rowan replied gruffly and an awkward silence fell over the group. After a moment it was broken by the thirty year old Changeling to his left, slender and well-dressed. He went by the name of Laren of the Grey Tide and was one of the Fellowship's primary sources of income.

"Damn, why did we even send Orchid to that place? I wonder if it's happened yet..."

"You know she was the best infiltrator we had," the Ekiruru to the right replied coldly. She was Freed Ayakin, one of the rare lucky Minas who had been bought and then released from bondage. "She knew the risk and took the mission regardless. Besides, we all know how much she wanted to be reunited with her wife, now she has that."

"How can you say that?" Laren replied, "We took advantage of her grief and sent her to her death, we're hardly anyway better than them..."

"It was a risk," Bear interrupted, "It didn't pay off, that's all there is to it." Silence descended once again over the gathering, each individual hoarding their own thoughts. The figure hiding in the shadows decided now was the time to make an entrance.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Golden Orchid said as she hopped out from the corner and padded up to the table. Within moments stunned silence quickly changed into screams and shouts.

Dåre 30,2

It went several hundred meters underneath the sea, this hole. It looked like a small glass tube, albeit it was magic and not glass that kept it in that round shape. Suddenly, the water-walls around him stopped, as did all the ocean. Underneath him was a world of strange colors. Everything had a color unlike the normal ones, the grass was a strange turquoise color, and the small lakes, positioned exactly where the islands were above the ocean, reflected the sky of water and sea-creatures.

Water reflecting water, how strange. Some of the mountains in the distance seemed to be almost tall enough to touch the ocean sky, but only almost. The lighting was strange, but calming. Colors like yellow and red seemed gone from the world, or extremely muted. Around this strange little world inside another, there was not a lot of weather, yet one part was filled with soft snow that didn't melt nor was it frozen, yet it was definitely snow. If only because it was snow. It looked like crystal powder in the wind, but it never went outside one particular area, as if stopped by someone. Then there was the strange lights in the sky above the largest lake, violet and a strange color which seemed to be one between red and blue, yet not a known color.

Beautiful sunsets could be seen through the water, as it if was a one way window to the outside world. Somehow, this was a dark world, yet a light one, being rather warm even so. Hidden caves and strangely shaped forests, colorful and as mad as madness itself. The lakes themselves were a source of madness, as anyone who drank from them became delirious, and saw the strange world as even stranger. Even gods themselves, Dåre found out, could be affected by it, should they want to. Yet another world, beautiful, but filled with eyes and the strange presence of madness herself, as if she was right behind you. She never was, yet the emotion Dåre felt was a warm, happy, yet sad one. Longing after what could never be.

There was weather there, like the never-ending droplets of water that fell from the sky at every waking hour, slowly, barely noticeable apart from the soft, wonderful sound of them hitting the ground. Then there was the warm winds, strong enough to lift a creature up from the ground, yet never doing so, as if it didn't dare to. One particular kind, only found on the northern part of the continent, glowed in the dark and shone in the day. This wind had a color, never the same one, yet always a soft one, painting the air with a soft green, then a subtle blue.

Then there was the trees and animals. Large, yellow flowers, bigger than a house grew close to some of the lakes, smaller animals, like loud, raptor-like creatures with a lot of hair, and different birds. Some of them resembled the cage of doves, only with a slight pink or blue color. There were trees with hats, growing on fleshy limbs, and small cat-like creatures, only with the lower part of a bird. Small, long creatures with the face of a puppy, and the skin and body of a lizard. And countless more.

One particular creature that Dåre happened upon in his travels, a strange, medium sized baby-bird with a white feathers, blue beak and legs the same color, followed him, running where he flew with his carpet. As he got closer to see it, it jumped on his carpet. What a strange creature indeed, it couldn't speak to him either, apart from happily chirping as he fed it the fruits of a tree found nearby, which only had the effect of being so delicious that all you'd want to do was eating them. The bird seemed not to mind at all. "Do you want to be my friend?" he asked it, it seemed to want this, as it was very friendly. He wanted to take it along, but it would perhaps not survive outside this strange part of the planet. "I know." Dåre laid his hand on the creature, hopefully this would work. He then tried to make it into a demigod.

Melanthios 23 AP, 0 MP

Melanthios was busy with his spell, when he suddenly felt something familiar. He focused to feel it was Daare, creating a demigod. A smile spread across his face, it had been too long since he had seen him. "Hello Daare, it is me Melanthios. I am sorry about having been away for so long, I was healing from my wounds. I hope this will help you with creating your first demigod, and I hope to see you again soon." Melanthios grabbed the orb and focused, a small flicker of pure creation was send to Daare. He looked up at the sky, wondering where Daare was and how he had been. He then looked back at the spell, he wasn't done just yet.

Aen 20/20, 1/2

Aen smiled sheepishly at Zareth. He hadn't considered that this would be a way of cheating death, but perhaps his friend wouldn't think so. Still, he felt his aid, and nodded his thanks. Across the universe, he felt others igniting with power. Melanthios, M'endar, even Dåre. I didn't even notice the slimy devil slink off. Next time, he'd have to watch the Magic God more carefully. Still, there was no reason to withhold his aid because he was making something himself.

It took a moment before he even noticed the new arrival. "Ah! Hello Vantric! Welcome to this icy-waste wonderland!"

The Storyteller

The Storyteller continued his tale, gesturing his hands wildly as he recounted the many events of the early Fourth Age.

"Auctor inspired a small group of Minas Ekiruru to spread across Evalon and open diplomatic channels with the other civilisations of the planet. Meanwhile in the city, Ven created a terrible plague which struck at the minds of the synthetic Ekiruru, turning the vast majority of their kind dangerously insane. A few hundred miles south, Zs'Wua enchanted the throne room of the Emperor of Humanity to make subsequent rulers even poorer than the already notoriously ineffective one who sat on the throne then.

Not only that but three new demigods were to emerge in this epoch, M'endar raised an angry Changeling into a new agent to serve it, Daare granted divinity upon a small bird of Ilea and Aen converted his gauntlet into a demigod that would be permanently bound to his arm for all time.

Meanwhile upon Salustutis Zareth created a new race of giant sea monsters who were designed to drag down and devour any large ship that crosses their path, they would be known as the Sea Kraken. Melanthios used one of the domains claimed from Nivix to summon up the Robe of Science, a powerful magic garment that would help further knowledge."

They grow up so fast...

Grim never told anyone about meeting the great fox, but still, after that day everyone who met him say a difference. there was a drive behind everything he did, a fire in his eyes. He threw himself into everything with all of his energy. It wasn't enough for him to stand his ground against the boys that bullied him, he threw himself into countless fights on behalf of those that were treated like he was. This earned him some close friends over the years and even the begrudging respect of his olders but mostly it earned him a lot of bruises.

But thanks to his mother's care and the exercise from his various brawls Grim grew strong. He became the grown stryfe that people said he'd never be. He even grew to a whopping average height (for a stryfe that is). He never forgot the words Kaviken said to him, or the promise he made on the story stones. When the time came, and he was old enough, Grimnir joined his peers in the hold provings and took his chance to become a part of his Kald's sword bands.

It was the largest proving battle in over twenty years but when it ended Grim stood among the victors. He had shown great spirit, endurance and ability and received the honour of earning a place in the Kald's vanguard. It was the proudest day of his life.

M'endaxius - 23/30 AP, 1/2 MP

A final burst of energy engulfed the scene. It seems that Zareth had responded to the plea as well. It looked down as it realised that it had been more than an Age since that chat in the Hallowed Court. Maybe a little chat could help repair that derelict bridge. But that would be for later. A final thank you was sent as the demigod began to emerge...

??? - 8/8 AP

Swirling, seething, searching. One moment you are throwing stones at helpless animals and the next you are plunged into darkness. Just what was happening now!? Pain, more pain. Whatever this was, it was more painful than his Changing. He grunted at the memory of the sudden growth spurts and aches. His eyes widened as he realised what in fact was happening. He was being torn apart. Immediately he began to fight against the tide of dark power, but the tendrils were too quick. He was captured. The grunt turned into a roar as he yelled protests to this treatment. With a quick bit of thinking, he came to the conclusion that this might be some sort of divine punishment. This fueled the growing flame of rage,'Yeah I get it Aen, YOU ARE PISSED AT ME. Well guess what? I AM PISSED AT YOU. I had to fight back, I had to... Hypocrite.' He was only answered by silence.

'Stupid gods.', he said to the silence. But the darkest suddenly ceased to be and there was that hooded figure again. In a brief moment of calm, the newly made demigod inspected himself. His arms were stained but he could still see the scar on his chest and the one that covered his Bondmark. However, the one on the palm on the was disappearing and the rune was changed as well. It was now a strange series of characters. It read something like, "...one with ... skillful hand." He frowned, he couldn't make out the other character. And just who or what had the power to change who he was!? How dare they do that! The hand tightened into a fist. He lunged at the hooded figure. There was not doubt about it now. It was not Aen, it was the Deceiver! It retaliated by knocking him back and sending some sort of message. At least it explained the situation. 'Serve?' No bloody way!

He was out of there in a shot. With power and a new name - Lleu. He could have sworn it was a little joke of the Deceiver. On his way out, he threw another stone at the Sharluk. This time it was fatal.

M'endaxius - 23/30 AP, 1/2 MP

This was a reckless one. Well, that was expected. The prayers of the Verr not did go unheard. They wanted some upheaval, well, here's a champion of that. Seeing as nothing interesting was occurring, it teleported back to Umbraculum. But along the way, it noticed a new planet along the others. M'endar had felt the strange energies involved in its creation, none other that the god of madness himself. If one thing could be said about him, at least he had made the meeting a little bit more interesting. A little mental nudge should do the trick...

Roe and Petal

Roe flew back up from the mortal realms to the Hallowed Court, satisfied that his plan had finally been set in motion. Outside his house Petal was sitting cross-legged on the grass, stroking a great shaggy white dog and holding out a chunk of meat.

"You're still fussing over that dog?" Roe asked.

"He's nice, his name is Woof," Petal replied, "I can't give him back to his old owner, not after she tried to turn him into food. We can keep him can't we?"

"I guess," Roe sighed, "what can he do?"

"He can catch sticks, watch," Petal conjured a stick out of thin air and then using her mind powers hurled it far into the Mourning Garden. Without a moment's hesitation the dog bounded after it, disappearing among the trees. Roe nodded approvingly.

"He does seem fun," the young god admitted with a smile, "he can stay here for now,"

Golden Orchid

It took several minutes before the four revolutionaries were calm enough to speak again.

"It's a miracle..." Bear breathed, "How did this happen Orchid?"

"It was the work of the Lord, Uncle," the cat replied quietly, "He came before me in my cell and... well,"

"Changed you into a cat?"

"Yes,"

"Huh. Did he say why?"

"Not exactly... he said he didn't like the nobles and that the people needed to learn how to rule themselves."

"This... this is great!" Laren interrupted, "Our movement has divine blessing, as we knew all along of course!"

"What was he like?" Shrew interjected.

"Young, happy, pale... not that unlike how the Book describes him really. More importantly though, look at this," Orchid picked up a pen between her teeth and began to draw on a nearby piece of parchment. The rebels gathered around in interest.

"Wait, I recognise that," Ayakin exclaimed, finally breaking her silence, "You got the plans?!"

"Indeed," Orchid replied, allowing herself a quick feline grin, "There's someone we need to speak to first though... his name is Heron."


Northern Continent of Salustutis: Askeladd's Hold

There were several reasons Askeladd, even when he was a few years past his prime, had managed to remain Kald for so long, even if he wasn't the biggest or strongest warrior around. Practicing his own personal, decidedly unorthodox fighting style, recognizing the strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses of any potential allies or foes, and relying just as much on mental warfare as much as he did on physical were just a few of them.

Allowing unidentified vagabonds, especially ones of an unknown species, into his village without the slightest bit of opposition was not one.

The Stryfe grunted as he eyed the stranger, appraising him carefully. Thorfinn hadn't been lying when he said the guy looked weird; a good foot shorter than the average Stryfe, hair only on his head (though at least it was white), clothed only in a pair of burnt and ragged leggings, and missing both of his arms. His eyes were odd as well, little more than twin pools of white stuck in a constantly scowling face. He looked like trouble, pure and simple.

And that was something Askeladd couldn't afford to tolerate.

"Oi, Thorfinn."

The younger Stryfe, unable to keep the anxiety from his face, stepped to the front of the crowd of curious onlookers. "Yeah?"

Askeladd pointed a finger towards the stranger, now standing motionless in the center of the hold. "You said you hit him with a spear?"

"Y-yeah," came the uneasy reply, "right where his heart should've been! But he tore it out with just his mouth, and then bit it in half, and then the wound just healed up! It was like magic or something; never seen anything like it!"

The Kald took a moment to consider his course of action. The sentry was barely more than a Stryfeling; didn't exactly make for the most reliable source of information. Thorfinn claimed that the vagabond had some magical healing ability, but it was more likely it was just the lad's overactive imagination. Still... It never hurt to be cautious, now did it?

"Ah, come off it, ya dolt," Askeladd replied, smacking the sentry upside the head. "Don't go around telling stories and making stuff up; you're too old for that now."

"B-b-but Aske-"

"Now listen here," the Kald interjected, grabbing Thorfinn by the scruff of his neck. With a single, fluid motion, he threw the youth forward, sending him stumbling out into the snow. "Go and tell the bastard that he's got ten seconds to get out of my hold, else I'll rip his head off. And if he gives you any lip, take off one of his legs, why don't you?"

"B-but I-"

"I said go!" he roared, his hand going to the sword slung about his waist. "Now get going, or I'll take off one of your legs instead!"

Askeladd could almost here the lad whimper as he rose to his feet and started half-jogging towards the stranger. Snorting, the Stryfe released his sword and rested his arms across his chest, keeping a careful eye on Thorfinn's back. He wanted to see how the youth handled the newcomer, and, more importantly, how the newcomer would react to such a direct threat. If he was smart, he'd just run away, and prove to be an easy target for hunting down. If he was stupid, odds were that Thorfinn'd be able to take him down without too much trouble. If he actually did have some kind of magical power... Well, he'd just have to wait and see.

The Kald barely paid attention to the muttering of the crowd behind him; all of his attention were focused on the youngster and the stranger before him. Thorfinn had done as instructed, and had drawn his dirk in an attempt to intimidate the wanderer. However, if the stranger's lack of a reaction was anything to go by, he was utterly failing at it.

"You b-bastard!" Tch, even at this distance he could still hear Thorfinn's voice cracking. "Ju-just die already!"

The lad swung his blade at the stranger's legs, letting out what was probably supposed to be a battle cry, and Askeladd raised his eyebrows. Time to see exactly what the bizarre arrival was capable off.

SKKKKT

...Apparently he wasn't quite capable of dodging. Thorfinn's blade had managed to inflict a pretty nasty gash, starting from just above the stranger's knee and running down the length of his leg. Curiously golden blood began to pour from the wound and splattered onto the snow, but the injury itself showed no sign of miraculously healing. Still, it had managed to do what the lad's earlier taunts couldn't; the newcomer's otherwise stoic visage actually twitched a bit, and he tilted his head to... get a better look at the wound, maybe? Wasn't he blind though?

Eh, whatever, the Kald mused. He'd seen stranger sights in his time.

"Oi, brat," he called out as he began to walk forward, one of his hands idly resting on his sword, "you call that a cut? Jeez, who taught you how to fight?"

Ignoring Thorfinn's stuttered protests, Askeladd continued his advance, stopping only when he was directly in front of the stranger. "Whoever they were, they must've been better aquainted with kitchen knives then... with... swords..."

The Stryfe trailed off as he finally noticed what Thorfinn was fearfully pointing at. Though he managed to repress most of his response, the Kald was unable to prevent one of his eyebrows shooting up in surprise. "Well. You don't see that everyday."

The gash that had been pouring blood not seconds ago was starting to close up, with nary a hint of bandages or medicine. The wound healed itself before Askeladd's very eyes and, if the stranger's utter lack of surprise was anything to go by, this wasn't that odd of an occurance.

So... How do I react?

For once, the Kald wasn't sure how to handle the situation. Anything involving battle or political machinations he could deal with easily, but bizarre wanderers who could heal grevious injuries without the slightest hint of effort? That fell well outside his expertise. Sure, he'd heard stories about death-callers and their supposed works, but it was one thing just hearing about it and quite another to see it in his own village. And then there was the matter of the stranger's appearence...

Suddenly, old tales and legends flocked to the Stryfe's mind. The stories of Yorvengand, Kaviken, Garenbound, Ormangand, and all the other Spirits of old. He'd never put much stock in the myths, but considering the situation...

It was time to probe for some more information.

"Are... Are you one of them? A Spirit?"

Nearly a minute passed by in silence, with neither Askeladd, Thorfinn, or the stranger moving a muscle. The quiet hung in the air like a blanket, stifling the Kald and young sentry, but neither of them could find the will to break the silence. Finally, just when it seemed like they would be standing there until morning-

"Spirit?" the newcomer replied, his voice tainted by the barest hint of a growl. "No. I'm... I'm nothing."

Askeladd hid his half smile. It wasn't much, but at least he was finally getting a response. "Then, if I might be so bold, why did you come to my hold?"

Though there was still a pause before the wanderer replied, it was far shorter than the last. "To... to forget."

"Forget what?"

"That," the stranger almost snarled, "is none of your concern."

"My apologies." The Kald bent forward in a bow, looking for a way to change the subject. "If you don't mind my asking, what are you called?"

"...Nyx." came the grunted reply. "My name is Nyx."

Eastern Almia - the Fellowship meets the Dues Filli

Heron flew through space once again. He had been invited to visit the humans again, he had to admit he was looking forward to it. But Kallen was sitting right behind him, making sure he would stay on objective. The space whales flew toward the planet, and they would arrive soon. He activated his magic, and the space whales turned invisible. The decent went quite well, and three space whales landed within a thick forest. Their mouths opened, and within seconds 50 Dues Filli stood ready to fight.

The space whales could carry more soldiers now, they had started to selective breed them a while ago now. Heron jumped out too, followed by Kallen. He had to admit it was rather strange seeing his companion in a military suit, but then again armors had changed quite a back from 1000 years ago. "Alright everyone you know the mission. You all stay here, and be ready to retreat when called upon!"

Heron then turned around, and walked away followed by Kallen. They both changed their appearance, they took on human forms and walked towards the village. "Now let's find what whoever invited us wants. I wonder what they really want.... Maeglin could have been a bit clearer on that." As usual Kallen kept quiet. Both the Dues Filli wandered into the village. After a bit of searching, they found the house they were looking for. Heron knocked on the door and then waited.

The door opened a crack and a pair of eyes peered out from the darkness from about the waist-level of the Dues Filli. Some murmuring came from behind the door and then it swung open, a Kinderven standing in front of the pair with a serious expression on his face.

"Come in misters, if you aren't spies," Shrew said and beckoned for the Dues Filli to follow him.

Heron looked surprised, though he had learned not to offend his hosts. He followed the young kindereven... young? Well maybe? It was hard to tell. Kallen followed, staying as silent as ever.

Shrew lead the two Dues Filli into the darkened house, the corridor barely lit by flickering candles. They reached a bare room with a number of figures round a table: one elder Rowan man in rough clothing, a younger Changeling male in finer dress and a relaxed Ekiruru woman who stared coldly at the visitors as they entered. A golden cat sat lazily on the table.

"Greetings, you can call me Bear," the elder Rowan said and spread his arms warmly. "Here is my niece Orchid and my comrades Laren, Ayakin and Shrew."

Heron made a small bow, and then said with a smile. "It is nice meeting you bear, and your companions. My name is Heron, and this is my bodyguard Kallen. So what did you want to discuss with us today?" He asked looking around the room. Kallen remained unmoving, he didn't even blink.

Orchid stretched herself and stood up, padding up to the edge of the table to be closer to the pair. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you Heron, I have heard much about you. Our movement is low on supplies, we need arms and equipment desperately,"

Heron smiled, he blushed slightly. "I didn't know I was that famous.." Kallen gave him a stern look, which seemed to annoy Heron. "Well I am sure we can figure something out. The empire has enough of any resource really. Magic, food, materials, tools, armors and so on." He seemed quite proud. "And this movement of yours. Do you mean the Fellowship?" He had been reading up on their recent history, it paid to be prepared.

"Yes, the Fellowship," the cat replied, "We have chapters across the Empire who are ready and willing but lack steel and lead to back them up, the authorities keep a tight lid on such things. As you can clearly see with yours truly, we also have the backing of the Lord Roe himself,"

Heron nodded. "I see." He took a seat on a chair and seemed to think. "Also you said steel. Don't you people use guns?" He looked around the room, he wondered just how they were planning to win.

"Guns are expensive and many of the Empire loyalists do not use them," Orchid said, licking a paw, "We'll accept as many as we can get but we accept we may have to rely on more traditional weaponry, many of our supporters are ordinary folk who have never even taken up a weapon before,"

Heron smiled. "Then guns are an even better choice. Its a lot easier teaching some to shoot a gun, then to fight with a sword. And we could give you quite a lot of guns, we have tons of older models. Though those are still quite good, and only a few years old. We could even give you some of these suits." He said standing up, showing off his own suit.

Kallen suddenly grabbed a dagger, and stabbed Heron. But surprisingly he was deflected, and had to do his best to keep his balance. "See? These armors are protected by a thin layer of magic, which can deflect a few blows." He loved talking about how far they had come in recent years, mostly since he was one of the lead designers for armors.

The five revolutionaries stared in surprise at Kallen's demonstration, such magic was very rare in the Empire, even the Changelings rarely used it so blatantly. "That could be really helpful," Shrew added aloud, "I have some ideas for formations we could use if lots of us had guns,"

"I agree," Orchid said, "this could give us a real edge. What is your price?"

Heron looked very exited, he loved it when people liked his creations. He then seemed to calm down a little, he had to think about the price. "Well that depends. How many guns, and armors are you looking for? A thousand? A Million? More?" He looked around the room.

"Ten thousand," Beat interjected, "We need to strike fast and take the important population centers when the time comes and then the people will back us,"

"Wait Uncle," Orchid said, "there's also something else we need," she turned back to the pair, "Do you have magical explosives?" she asked.

Heron seemed to think. Ten thousand was easily do able... but the explosives. He glanced at Kallen, who gave him a stern look. "how strong do you want them to be? Strong enough to destroy a building?" He looked up at Bear and Orchid.

"Enough for a very large building, but also as light as possible so they can transported quickly," Orchid replied, "Is that possible? We have crude explosives but they are unreliable,"

He nodded, such a small amount would be no problem. "Yes I think that shouldn't be a problem. Though it takes a certain method to set up, but I will show you how to use it. But yeah those things are all tradable, anything else you would like?" He glanced at the other people in the room.

The Changeling shook his head and the Ekiruru shrugged, "As long as my people are freed, I don't care what is used," the green woman said. "Yes, that is everything," Orchid added.

Heron looked at the Erikruru, he still didn't like their kind. But then again they weren't all bad. "Well alright then. I guess it is time for me to reveal what we want. Its quite simple really." He said taking out a contract, and placing it on the table. "We want two things. One we want an alliance between your races, and ours. "He quickly wrote down what they wanted on the contract.

He then looked back up at Bear. "We want this deal to be made in front of the gods, so that whoever breaks it will anger them. Two we want a small bit of land, to create a university on. So we can study this planet, and well the races too. We want this university to be left alone obviously, and in turn they won't bother you. I hope neither of those things is too much to ask"?" He asked smiling, as he pushed the contract to Bear.

Bear raised an eyebrow as he read over the terms of the contract and fixed his gaze on the pair. "A couple of questions. Firstly, which races exactly? We have three or four races between us, depending on what you count young Shrew as. Secondly, where would this university be?"

Heron didn't mind a few questions. "Well we would want an alliance with this country, so really anyone who calls himself an citizen of this country. And the university can be build wherever you want it to be. Far away from cities or close by, we don't mind much."

"We are but a few people," Bear replied, "I will consent to the idea of an alliance but ultimately the decision lies with the whole people of our future state, not me. I can't promise that they will accept but your help won't be forgotten. Secondly, I can't sign anyway of our nation's sovereign territory but I can promise a place for your university, as long as it remains part of our country,"

Heron shrugged. "Both those things are fine with me, I just don't want the university to be in danger. and I can understand your unwillingness to sign anything. I will take your word for it, as you will have to take mine for it until we deliver our weapons. By the way, do you need any help with those weapons? We could send a few people along to teach you how to use them." Heron offered taking back the contract.

"Help would be much appreciated," Orchid said with a flick of her tail, "it's rare for the common people here to use guns,"

Heron caught himself staring at her tail it was a curious thing, he wondered just how much she could do with it. "Sure no problem, we can send quite a few. We only use guns now, ever since the factories started running we have so many. Though a few groups still use spears, a few guilds to be more precise."

"Excellent," Orchid replied, "I'm glad we could reach an agreement, now I think it may be time to part, it's not safe to stay in one place for too long. May the Lord Roe be with you on your return journey,"

Heron nodded. "May Melanthios bring you victory friends." He stood up and looked at Kallen, who seemed less then pleased. Great... this means I will get another lecture. He headed out the door, now to find a way to convince Maeglin to agree to these terms. Kallen followed him closely, as they both headed back to forest and then home.

"Do you really think they can be trusted?" Bear said once the Dues Filli left. "I think so," Orchid replied, "they know what they want, as long as we bring the goods they will respond in kind. We need this support if we are to have a chance of taking Manor and the other major cities,"

Lleu - 5/8 AP

It was strange being here again. Vulgard, the seat of the Versipellis clan. But a quick look in a nearby pond had revealed to Lleu that the process had changed him, even to the point where he would be unrecongisable to his very own mother. His golden locks had faded to brown, and his blue eyes had changed to that colour as well. Not to mention the stained arms. Lleu laughed as he ran through the crowded streets. However, he spotted something and came to a halt. It was a wanted poster for some sort of resistance group. Shame about the name though. 'The Fellowship? How cute.' Lleu thought. He continued running through the streets and grabbed every one of those posters as he went. He reached the coast and tore up the posters, and jumped down the cliffs, eluding the city watch that was chasing after him. 'And that'll be your fate, Fellowship. You'll be ripped to pieces if you continue your cutesy-wutesy excuse for resistance.' He entered the sea with a graceful dive, and swam towards a lonely island in the Maroe Archipelago. Nah, Manor would wait. He had a somewhat special surprise for the bigwigs there.

'Goddamn... AMATEURS.' He thought as he spat the salty seawater out as he pulled himself onto dry land. However, his anger faded as he spotted some strange people. So this was the so-called forsaken clan. Lleu smiled, if he played this cards right, he had a whole army of outcasts. Perfect fodder for a revolutionary force. He called to them and a few gathered to see this strange sight. Using one of his long fingers, he drew out a map of the Empire and then stood up, "What do you see here? The Empire of Humanity. Yeah, that's right. But do YOU really feel a part of it? Or did the gracious Empire take you and your land just for power? I'm betting it's the latter. You were rejected by Eldarwen and by your blood-bequeather, Sontius. And you are rejected by the Empire as well. They just want you so they can add this set of island to their territory. And don't give me THAT. They don't give a fuck if you die or get sick. They only want your land and your lives. A storm is gathering in this Age. And YOU will be the first cracks of thunder and the final jolt of lightening that splits this bloated MESS of an empire apart! All you need to do is take the first step."

Zs'Wua'Itzala - 3/8 AP

She left the cursed throne room with a sly smile on her face and went back to the Eva'la Collective to report her success. But what was this? Another one? She had to find out more but the Verr awaited her. It didn't take long for the Lady of Shadows to reach them, even though they were in the far north, above the Borderlands. Many were staring at the sea, which had been calm but could fly into a rage at any moment. She remembered her own fear of it when she was a mortal. But that was at least an Age ago. All Verr present bowed before the Lady and she lapped up the reverence. Nevertheless, as she turned her head, she sawthere was a Human-like silhouette in the distance. But it dissolved and changed into a quadrupedal beast that ran up to the group. It came to a halt when it arrived at the Lady's side. Now, she could see it was just a Phantom and not a mindless Craver. It began to speak.

"There is... an ally we may align ourselves with." It said.

This was a rude one. "Name and rank please. You speak before the Lady." Zs'Wua sternly replied.

"Annw'Zsamtr." The Phantom replied.

"Why did you not sent a report of your findings?" She snapped.

Annw'Zsamtr was stunned. Surely the Lady knew the answer herself, "Too important for simple transit, my lady."

She nodded - a sign for him to continue with his report.

"There is a resistance group called The Fellowship. They have arms from the Dues Filli and they are spread all over the Empire." He said, "We may set up a meeting if it is to your wishes."

She nodded again, "A meeting would be... interesting. But all we have to do is wait for the Empire to fall to those rebels and attack while the Empire is weak."

"B-b-but. We may reach an agreement. Assistance for land." He stuttered.

"I see..." She replied, "It is always good to have a backup plan. I approve."

She called a Shadowshriek to her arms and stroked it. It was a tiny male, but it would do. The broodmothers were busy with their young and would be spotted in broad daylight. Plus they couldn't fit into the small crooks and nannies that a large city like Manor had. She stroked it. If The Fellowship was any good, they would be good at hiding. Enough so to warrant a scry. She whispered a words to the Shadowshriek, attached a small small containing a few choice words and let it go, to be collect by the Phantoms currently in the capital of the Empire. They would know what to do. A few Verr whispered as she called the shadows and created a dark pool of liquid in her hand. 'Shadows see more than people think.' She thought with a smile as she began to chant.

Roe - 24, 1 and Petal - 7

"Woof! Where are you boy?" Petal called out yet again into the trees and blew on her wooden whistle a couple more times. Nothing in the garden stirred.

"He must be too far away to hear us... maybe he's lost?" Roe suggested with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Lost?" Petal gasped in horror, "He can't be lost! This place goes on forever, we'll never find him..."

"Don't worry, I have an idea," Roe replied confidently and took the whistle out of Petal's hands.

"What are you doing?" she asked tearfully.

"Making it so he can hear it like I can," Roe grunted as he concentrated his powers upon the small whistle. The toy began to glow and change shape in his hands.

Minas Kei

The march through the desert was long and hard for both man and machine. Armour, guns, sandals... none were free from the scourge of the sand. Finally as dawn broke on the third day, the joint army of the Empire and the Mizzen caught a glimpse of the city of Minas Kei, it's forested buildings reaching high over the flattened dunes. Kinderven scouts shouted with joy as they dashed upon their Velocifly rides over the leafy metropolis and then returned with news: the Ekiruru were already preparing themselves.

It was only to be expected. Such a large force marching through a desert was hardly inconspicuous; in all honestly it was a little surprising that the Ekiruru hadn't already launched some sort of preemptive attack. However, now that the joint forces were so close, they had no intent of letting such a thing happen.

While infantry units prepped for close quarters combat, artilliary units readied themselves to unleash a hellish barrage upon the city, great cannons and primitive rail guns all locking their sights on the still distant spires.

At the back of the army flew beasts far larger than the Kinderven's mercenaries tiny dragonflies: the huge dragons of the Kin. Each was ridden by a knight in heavy armour who saluted their fellow Changelings upon the ground. Besides them were the Rowan foot soldiers, some wielding basic firearms and others carrying long sabres and even the occasional axe. Ekiruru slaves were few and far between, a handful were pulling along artillery units but they were chained tightly to their vehicle to prevent last minute treachery.

The Mizzen, meanwhile, prepared their various engines of war. Squards of Burners fiddled with their flamethrowers and bombs, ensuring that their mixtures were set at peak effeciency. Some of Breakers did likewise with their acids and gaseous weapons, while others focused more on their warhammers, maces, and, in a few cases, gatling guns. Builders meanwhile made a few last changes to their sheilds and vehicles, making sure that they would be able to weather the coming storm.

The commanders of the army conferred one last time, ensuring that every squad and soldier knew what their duties would be in the coming battle. The best strategists from every nation and race in the allience had been gathered together to compile the best plan they possible could, and it would be a shame to let a simple misunderstanding muck things up. United in their agreement, they parted ways, each of them heading back to their stations. They were ready to begin.

Auctor 6AP

Auctor walked through the crowded hospital flanked by two guards. The noise was almost to much to bear. Every corner seemed to be filled with either a mad synthetic or a doctor trying to heal them. Even though the affliction had been raging for over a week now, no one could tell what was causing it or how to treat it. The synthetic population was being effectively crippled, and it seemed that only a miracle could save them.

Hence why Auctor was at the hospital. Fertdra, Auctor's chief medical officer and head of the hospital, pushed her way through the crowd of nurses to be at her Lady's side. "Greetings, Lady Auctor. What brings you here?"

"I wanted to see if I could help the synthetics." Auctor said. "Have you any leads as to the cause of this aliment?"

"I'm afraid not." Fertdra said, and fell into step next to Auctor. "I'm sure it has something to do with their brain chemistry, but there's no way of knowing for sure." A synthetic shuffled by, muttering something about Rowan wine before being lead back to its room. Fertdra leaned it closer avoid anyone overhearing her. "My Lady, do you have any idea as to its origin?"

Auctor had heard the reports of Mizzen in the city but had thought it was of no consequence. But when the synthetics started going mad, she'd been able to put two and two together. Clearly, Nivix's creations were behind this somehow. "I have a hunch." she told the doctor simply.

"Right." Fertdra mumbled, not completely satisfied with the answer. "Anyway, I'm sure you want to see patient zero."

Auctor was taken to a room near the back of the building. The lights were dimmed in this room, but Auctor could still see easily enough. In the middle of the room was a single bed, in which lay a sleeping synthetic. Patient zero, the first recorded victim. As Auctor approached it, the synthetic awoke and faced her Lady. "Hello, Lady Auctor." it said with a grin. "What brings you to my kingdom?"

Auctor was caught off guard by both the grin and the question. "Kingdom?"

"Yes, don't you see it?" the synthetic said, sweeping it's hand around the room. "All the mushrooms and the turtles. The purple sky and red grass and orange potatoes. It's all mine!" It started laughing, then suddenly stopped and face Auctor again. "So, what's up?"

Seith's wings. Auctor thought. This is bad. "I came to help you. You're confused. I want to heal you."

"Confused?" the synthetic asked. It seemed to toy with the idea for a moment. "No, no I don't think I am." it finally said. "You're welcome to check though. You'll see that I'm as sane as a wild cactus."

"Umm, ok." At least now Auctor knew she could approach it without it flipping out. She walked up to the patient and put her hand on it's forehead. Assembling the words in her head first, she carefully spoke a spell she hoped would counter the madness.

Wires and metal
Merged with flesh and blood
Shall not stumble in madness
But be sane as one.

The synthetic drifted back into sleep. "I hope that helps." Auctor said to herself.

Just then, a soldier in light armor burst through the door. "My Lady, my Lady!" she shouted, pushing past the assembled doctors and nurses.

"What is it, private?" Auctor said, stopping the young warrior.

"My Lady, an army is assembled out side the city walls. The Mizzen and Humans are going to invade." The others in the room gasped, but Auctor remained outwardly calm.

That's not to say she wasn't worried. "Take me to where I can see them, and have someone fetch my armor."

Vantric: 30, 2

Zareth and Aen left, each had their own agenda to see to, no doubt. Vantric turned and left for his own projects. So much work to do. He decided to check in on the situation back in Evalon.

Vantric appeared in Gaerv Vantric and changed into his avatar, a simple lainir, possibly a lord, certainly at the upper echelons of society. He often went to the city, it was without a doubt his favorite place on the mortal plane, the supreme center of power on Evalon, maybe someday even beyond. The city had changed considerably since its creation, Vantric considered, walking the crowded streets. Buildings had been demolished to make way for wider roads. The outer walls had had to be expanded to accommodate a growing population. Factories and businesses now opened their doors and steam trains now connected all the Impath's major cities. One thing, he noted with some pride, hadn't changed, the city's personality. That was eternal, burned into its bones, it had survived the first empire, and it would survive the Impath and even beyond.

The god made his way through the city. This would be one of his people's greatest tests, he had to know how they were approaching it. As he continued his walk, listening to various bits of gossip, a young boy stood on the sidewalk and began shouting, "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" He began, thrusting a paper into the air, "Dwarven king assassinated by revolutionaries! Monarchist forces vow revenge!"

Vantric immediately snatched a paper from the boy and began flipping through it. "HEY!" The boy shouted, following the god, "You have to pay for that!" Vantric didn't slow his pace, only willed a gold coin into existence and flipped it to the child, not looking back. The boy caught it, looking dumbfounded. "I...uh." He tried to get Vantric's attention, "Thank you very much sir!" He said, hurriedly and dashed back, continuing to hawk his wares.

Rapidly reading the paper, Vantric got a good view of the situation. Assassinating a king, framing the revolutionaries, starting a civil war. He nodded, not bad, not bad at all. It was clever, prepare for war by weakening your enemies. But that did lead to the question: who had they gotten to assassinate the king? Vantric smiled. That was certainly something worth looking into.

The Storyteller

"After a frantic time of activity, many of the gods took a break. Up in the Hallowed Court however young Roe, as energetic as ever, reforged the whistle he had given Petal to boost it's power and to allow her pet dog to hear it's sound from wherever in Eldarwen's garden the beast had lost itself.

Meanwhile down on Evalon, the entire planet seemed to sliding into war. Aside from the assassination of the Dwarf King in Loth Ringard and the march of a joint Mizzen and Empire Army upon Minas Kei, Auctor managed to create a counter-virus that would cure her synthetics of the madness given by Ven in preparation for the invasion. Whether this was too little too late would have to be seen. To the west in Ortaw, Vantric saved the assassin of the King from imminent death and raised her up to be his third demigod.

Further down south, Zs'Wua scryed Manor to find out more about the Fellowship and found the following information: their headquarters in that metropolis were a large expensive house on the east of the city, they could be contacted by any of hundreds of lay members among the community but reaching the higher-ups was far more difficult: the Changeling butler at the HQ was a good link to them. One must recite a particular verse from the Book of Rowan to attain the trust of this man.

Not every demigod was successful however, Lleu's attempt to rally a number of the Changelings of the Maroe Archipelago ended in failure when his words were dismissed as folly and he was chased off the island by a torch-wielding mob."

Vantric: 24, 2

Vantric waited for a moment after he finished the ritual, waiting to see the outcome. Aleis's body didn't move. Curious, he had felt the ritual complete successfully, she should have risen. He waited further. Still, the body remained immobile. Vantric looked to the coin in his hand. It showed the image of a body hanging from a gallows. Damn, He thought, putting the coin and jar away, Such a waste. She deserved better. Still, losses were acceptable, if unfortunate.

He turned away from the body and teleported. There was little to be gained in looking back and dwelling on what might have been.

*********************************************************************

Aleis: 8

She drifted between consciousness and unconsciousness, life and death. Dimly, Aleis was aware of things, but couldn't process their meaning, it was all she could do to know what was happening around her. She felt cold ground beneath her and a light breeze brushing against her skin, the air itself almost heavy with the moans of the dying. The smell of charred flesh and smoke reached her nose, but, like the screams, it was unimportant and distant.

Pain was close. Pain wrapped her entire body. Aleis didn't know what happened, or even knew what was happening. She felt, she didn't think, and pain was the overriding feeling. In the back of her mind, Aleis felt her partner, Erach. The spider was in pain as well, she could feel it even through the weakening bond. If she could understand what was happening, the assassin would have been afraid, concerned, and angry. As she was, though, there was little Aleis could do besides lay on the ground, feel pain, and wonder why the bond was weakening as she and the spider slowly died.

But she did not die. Aleis felt a new power flow through her, something new and different. Whatever it was offered some comfort, some relief. In the recesses of her mind, she realized that death had come at last, and wasn't certain how she felt about that. Death alleviated the pain, which was good, but she didn't want to die, not yet. There was still so much to do.

As the pain receded, Aleis began thinking more clearly. The train had crashed. That was what had killed her, she realized. Possibly an accident, or maybe revolutionary sabotage, not that it much mattered now. The train crashed just after she had killed the lainir silencer. It was starting to come back to her now. Yes, and then Erach...

Aleis's eyes opened. What happened to Erach? She felt the bond once more, felt it weakening further still. A tear rolled down the faredor's face. Erach was dying. Even if she were about to die anyway, the thought of losing her partner still disturbed the assassin. Struggling to gain control of her limbs, Aleis noted that her body seemed in better condition than she would have expected after a crash such as she had just gone through. That didn't matter though, what mattered was getting to Erach.

Slowly, she began dragging herself forward. If there were any silver lining to the situation, it was that the crash had thrown Aleis and her partner relatively close together. After a few moments of dragging herself, she finally felt well enough to begin crawling and steadily, if somewhat uneasily, made her way to Erach. It took a few minutes, but Aleis eventually found her partner.

Erach was caught between the overturned luggage car and several heavy trunks of luggage. The cage that the dwarves insisted she be kept in was broken, trapping and partially crushing the spider. She made a few pitiful hisses and gurgles upon sensing Aleis approach, wrenching the assassin's heart. There was nothing to be done for the spider, she could only wait until they both died, which should be soon, but then, there was one other thing she could do for Erach. One last mercy to give.

Aleis looked about on the ground and quickly found a jagged piece of metal small enough to hold in her hand. It was just enough to finish things. Erach looked up at her partner a steady stream of fear and pain and something akin to relief and confusion flooding the bond. Aleis brought her hand close to the spider's head and began lightly petting it. "Don't worry. It'll be all right." The faredor whispered, preparing the makeshift knife. That's when it happened.

As she pulled her hand away, Aleis noticed it covered in the spider's blood, and a warm, tingling sensation encompassing it. To her shock, the blood began to sink into her skin. Almost involuntarily, Aleis reached down again, wondering what was going on. Erach's blood began to run toward Aleis's hand, drawn to it like metal to a magnet. Trying to pull her hand away once more, Aleis found that she couldn't something new was happening. Fear flooded the bond, echoing in both partners. Aleis felt her bones break and snap, a pain more intense than the crash washed over her. When the darkness of unconsciousness came this time, it was with relief.

*********************************************************************

Aleis woke once more with surprise. She was still disoriented, but knew distinctly that she should not be alive. Between the train crash and the strange curse she knew she should have been dead twice over. Something felt different, but she took little notice, after everything it would be more or a shock if she felt similar to how she had earlier. Out of habit, Aleis sensed for Erach before remembering the spider's death. She was about to weep, when she felt the stirrings of her bond still in her mind. Exploring more deeply, she tried to find Erach, hoping vainly that her partner was still alive. To her shock, the bond didn't seem to lead anywhere, only echoing back into her own mind. It was a distant hope, but still...

Aleis began pushing herself up. She hadn't survived everything else just to die here. Erach was dead, and she would mourn later. Right now, she was alive, and needed to get going if she were going to stay that way. Her limbs felt sluggish as she tried to move, but persisted. Eventually, she made it up on all fours, she took a deep breath and pushed herself up once more, getting upright. The faredor stood there, trying to control her shaking legs, it took another few moments before they listened.

Taking one careful step, Aleis almost immediately stumbled, but was instinctively caught by another limb. Catching her breath, she looked over and saw a long, slender spider's leg holding her up. She felt it. She couldn't move or even breathe for shock as she slowly became aware of three other limbs like it, each one bending forward, moving itself into her view. Aleis stood there for a moment, taking in her new form, realizing, with no small degree of horror that she had become a monster.

Zareth 24 , 2

Pandemonium reigned over the streets. Soldiers were scrambling, emergency services were run off their feet. People were fighting everywhere. Things were not going very well. Not very well at all. And he still couldn't shake that headache. Of course that shouldn't have been his biggest worry. His biggest worry should have been that the world had gone grey, that it was moving both slower and faster than normal, that the sounds seemed to come in delayed echoes.

"Where is that music coming from?" Was someone playing the flute?

He wandered down the street, following the sound of the music. There was a man sat on the roof of paper stand like a child on the rocks at the beach. He was dressed like an undertaker, buttoned and tied up so smartly it might have been their first day. His pitch black suit and hair served to make his skin and eyes look even paler. The tempo of his tune picked up and it lost its haunting nature as he switched into a country jig. He would have looked human if it weren't for the small pair of horns jutting out from under his fringe. So that must have meant he was a changeling.

"You know I'm not just a changeling." The undertaker said. It sounded ominous, especially since he didn't stop playing the flute to say it.

"So you're... who I think you are?"

The flute player jumped down from the roof, passing through the stand owner. "And you must be who I think you are. King Necarten, so sorry I'm late." He smiled.

"Yes that's me." Said the bemused dwarf king. "Was me."

"It still is!" Cheered the musician, patting the dead king on the shoulder. "Your situation's changed not your identity."

"I never pictured you as wearing a waistcoat. Then again, the old pictures always show you as a dwarf."

"With a pair of imposing scales, I've seen them. Thought I'd try a new look for a new age." Zareth straightened his tie as if to prove the point.

"So what happens now?" Necarten asked.

"Now you step through the door." The death god ushered towards the gaping doorway that had sprung out of the side of the news stand.

"Oh those... yeah those doors have been following me around for days." The dwarf seemed embarrassed that he hadn't worked it out sooner.

"Yes most people find them a little intimidating."

"But I thought... I'm a ghost. Don't ghosts have to see to their unfinished business before they can be laid to rest?"

"Oh nothing so dramatic!" Zareth waved the words away. "No, really all anyone needs to move on is the courage to take the first step." Necarten didn't seem convinced. "I know you don't want to go, kings never do. Trust me when I say you're done, there is nothing more you can do."

"It's going to be war isn't it?"

"Oh yes. Imagine some kind of metaphor for your death being a spark and the dwarf kingdom being a tinderbox and so on and so on. I am going to be very busy in the next few months, maybe years."

"I hoped so much that there wouldn't be war in my lifetime..."

"And there wont be. Put the crown down Necarten, this fight isn't yours anymore. Rest."

"Will I at least be able to sleep without this headache?"

THAT, Zareth could help with. He reached into the king's eyes socket with his slender, clawed, finger and rummaged around with all the grace of a five year old picking their nose. He dragged it out and with it a perfectly intact eye and bullet. Necarten spluttered and gawped in amazement but his questions were cut off.

"Don't question it." Zareth said. "We run on a whole other logic on this side."

He ushered the dwarf on and lead them to the threshold of the door, its light flooding over them. The stared into it, unblinking, unblinded.

"What's it like... on the other side?"

"The beer will never run out, I promise you that."

*****

He rally had been late, how long had the dwarf king been wandering around? Zareth chided himself, between Evermoor, the stryfe and his plans for Evalon he was running himself ragged. He'd let himself slip. He had to admit that. He held the dead eye up between his fingers, it looked so angry. Who wouldn't after getting shot?

He remembered the devices that the mortals had been making, the ones to help them tell the time wherever they were. Watches, that was what they called them. I really am falling behind the times. Still, he'd studied their techniques when the inventors had started dying off. It wouldn't be too hard to add a few of his own touches, some that could serve his needs. He could even make use of the eye. Though looking at it one more time gave him second thoughts. This is going to be a very angry looking watch...

He clapped his hands, slamming the eye and the bullet together once again.

Lleu - 3/8 AP

He bit his lip. The strange Changlings gathered up torches and begin to gave chase. This wasn't going well. He laughed nervously and began to run. Lleu's face eventually broke out into a smile as he realised the irony of the situation. The rebels rebel against the Long Arm of Rebellion. Wait... He liked the sound of that. Oh, the things you think of when being chased by an angry mob. Why was he running, anyway? Surely a demigod had nothing to fear from mortals. He decided to lead them on a merry chase. All the way through the Maroe Archipelago to the Chama Peninsula proper. He had been thinking of going to Manor soon anyway. He jumped over the ocean and looked to the mob from a high cliff.

Then with all his might he shouted, "COME AND CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!"

Manor was, without a doubt, a grand city. Though the wanted posters were more common here, which irked him. 'Enough of these rookies already!' He thought as he tore off more of the posters. But that drew the attention of the city guard. They rushed over to him and pointed their weapons at the demigod. All he did was smile and wish himself away to the throne room. This time it was going to plan. But, what was this? He sniffed. There was something in the air. An enchantment? He had to met the person who did this. Nevertheless, more guards were on their way and so he exited the palace. But, to Lleu's dismay, one had the gall to shoot him in the chest. Lleu laughed and pulled out the bullet.

Still smirking, with open arms, he said, "Come, join the revolution!"

Roe - 19, 2 and Petal - 7

The wooden whistle glowed and shook in Roe's hands and then fell still. It had elongated and darkened in colour slightly but otherwise looked mostly the same as it had before.

"Here, try this," the young god told Petal, handing her the item. She put the whistle to her lips and blew it again, watching the trees as she did for any sign of movement.

"Nothing," she said in disappointment but then suddenly the bushes shook and out bounded Woof, barking dramatically. He ran up to Petal and almost bowled her over, she laughed and hugged the animal back.

"You made me worried," she told the dog sternly.

"Come on, lets go somewhere together," Roe said happily.

Some time later, the trio were resting on what would look to mortals like a cloud in the sky of Coelus. In reality the fluffy white surface was solid enough to support the weight of the two children and their pet. Woof sat to one side scratching himself while Roe and Petal were lent over a hole, watching the city of Quadringa below. The only Grigori in sight were those who stood guard around the walls of the city, watching for any Kinderven who might try their luck with the outside world. Most were happy to stay within the city though where meals and toys were regularly delivered by Rowan missionaries wearing extra thick protective clothing and their waste cleared away from the makeshift houses which lined the small metropolis. The plentiful supplies meant conflict was rare and when it did occur it was no more harmful than a mortal child's squabble: their poisonous bite had no effect on each other. There was always the chance to leave for other planets too whenever a wandering starwhale came close enough.

"It's beautiful," Petal breathed, "So many children and they hardly ever fight, they just play all day. What would happen if someone tried to invade them though?"

"I'd fight for them!" Roe replied confidently.

"What if you're busy or don't know what's happening?" the young girl asked in concern.

"Hmmmmm... I don't know," her friend replied honestly, "I'll make it so they can work together to protect themselves if they need to, then."

Roe closed his eyes and muttered something under his breath. Petal watched with delight as first one child and then many more began to gather in the city centre and run around in circles, waving red and gold banners.

"Something's happening!" she squeaked.

Loth Ringard, Intende Commons

Markous Falma Intende looked at his watch as he exited the pub. Nearly curfew, though the still wasn't tired. But he had no intention of being arrested, so he headed down the street towards his home. The streets were still very busy, despite the late hour, but Markous was able to flow seamlessly with the crowd. Having grown up in Loth Ringard, it was nothing that he wasn't already used too. He passed several police patrols on his way. They'd become much more common after the assassination.

The assassination. To many, it was as if the world had ended with Necarten's life. A king had not been killed in over 10,000 generations, and the last time it had lead to thousands of years of darkness. At least this time there was a heir to take his place, but he was still a boy. Meanwhile, the government couldn't decide who would rule in his place. And with the Kingdom beset upon on all sides, that indecision could prove deadly.

But while the politicians argued with each other over the Kingdom's future, Markous had his own worries. His family, the Falma, were famous for their innovations in armors and shielding. So it was only natural that the government would approach them asking for a new and better material to make armor out of. The project was given to Markous, and he had put his heart and soul into it. He knew how much honor his family could gain from his success, and was hardly keen on letting them down. But it seemed that all of nature was working against him. Every time he thought he was making progress, another ten problems would crop up. He had brought in metallurgists, chemists, and physicists, but to no avail. He was beginning to think that it was an impossible task.

Lost in his own frustrated thoughts, Markous didn't notice an old man walking the opposite way. They ran into each other and the old Dwarf fell to the ground. With a stream of apologies, Markous bent down to help him up. The old man merely laughed it off and graciously accepted his help. Once righted, he wished Markous a good day and continued to his destination. It was only after the old man had walked away did Markous notice the neat scroll on the ground were he had fallen. He picked it up and tried to call the old man back, but he had already disappeared. Markous inspected the scroll further and this time noticed what was imprinted on the wax seal.

To: Markous Falma Intende
From: Pentar, God of Order

The Storyteller

The Storyteller coughed to clear his throat and then continued the tale.

"Deep down in the grey space between Evalon and Evermoor, Zareth forged himself a powerful pocket watch infused with not only the essence of withering but also an eye plucked from the King of the Dwarves.

Meanwhile back in the mortal realm, Lleu caused the guards of the Emperor's palace in Manor to revolt, an event that would mark the Empire's history forever more. To the west in another great city, Loth Ringard, Pentar granted the reciepe for Dwarven Steel to a mortal dwarf. Far across the void on Coelus, Roe inspired the Kinderven of the city of Quad to resist outside influence from their neighbouring Grigori and others except on their own terms."

The children seemed particularly fascinated with the concept of a city run by Kinderven, chattering amongst themselves whenever it was brought up.

"Did they get to choose their own bedtime, because they had no mamas or papas?" one little girl asked the Storyteller.

"Yes, I believe they did," he smiled gently.

"I wish I lived there," she said ruefully, "I'd never go to bed ever again!"

The Storyteller laughed and passed the girl his pipe.

"Here, try a puff of this, it'll help keep you awake,"

Dåre 24, 2

The bird chirped gleefully, it had noticed the changes, prancing around proudly as it said one last goodbye to the mad world it had called its home. He had not only been helped by Melanthios, but also another god, albeit he did not know which. He was sure the god had been at the meeting, though. Dåre then picked the new demigod up, it had not yet received a name. It was only proper for someone to have a name, especially if they were to live that long.

"Hm..." Dåre thought. "Stormageddon? No, no, that sounds a bit... Frikk?" Yeah, that sounded a lot better. "Would you like to be named Frikk?" he asked it, and it nodded, having understood most of what he said, at least. "Then then will be your name. Congratulations, and happy birthday, Frikk," The god said, smiling. His first demigod was staring at him, head tilted. It made him happy, and feel bubbly and cheerful. It was at this time he felt the nudge from M'endar, though he didn't know who it was at this time. Someone. "Oh." He suddenly realized, having almost forgotten that he was done exploring Ilea. "That's right. There's a whole world out there. I should probably see what's going on." Frikk looked at him, expectantly, probably wanting to see what was beyond the vast ocean in the sky. It was as curious as him. Was it as mad? Did that really matter? "Let's go, then."

The two of them got on the carpet, and it took them out from under the sea in a hurry, swirling around, and carrying them to outer space. However, the shock of suddenly realizing the situation reached Dåre as they did. War? Why was some of the mortals fighting? When had that happened? He had been too lost in his own business, he hadn't noticed. However, the amount of madness and blood, and hatred, he somehow knew what it was. Was it familiar? Or just simply instinct? Melon?

"What can I do?" he asked himself, feeling powerless. Some of the god had to want this to happen, else they would have stopped it by now. Not everyone could be lost in their own business, right? Could he stop it, then? No. Was there even anything he could do? Was he to He looked around, and noticed his own planet. His mad mind formed a connection between two dots, and he suddenly started making a new item, one capable of entering mortals minds when they fell asleep, and letting him alter them. Now, he didn't have the intention of manipulating the mortals, but this would come in handy. The item he had in mind was a flute, a flute which would open the dreams of every mortal who heard its tunes.

Roe and Petal

Roe lowered his hands as his inspiration ended and looked down at the city below in satisfaction. The Kinderven had worked themselves up into a frenzy, thousands upon thousands of them gathering in the city square and shouting. Roe grinned and then put his hands to his head in concern.

"Hey Pets, there's some stuff happening on Evalon I've got to look at, I'll see you back at the house,"

He stood up and without any further delay leapt off the cloud into space. Petal watched him soar into the distance and then turned to Woof.

"Come on boy, let's see what's happening down there," she enthused.

The little demigod cast a spell of invisibility over herself and her canine companion and then slowly flew downwards until she landed on a crumbling diamond building at the side of the city square. Kinderven filed the square in front of her, many of them waving red and gold flags she had never seen before.

Proud cries came from all around the square from Kinderven of all sizes, big and small.

"All hail the Children's Republic of Quadringa!"

"The Grigori can't tell us to do anything now!"

"Hey, I want a flag too!"

Petal watched silently with wide eyes at the roaring crowd, she had never seen anything like it before. She glanced back at Woof and then suddenly an idea hit her.

Valor IV

It was just a day after the rebellion of the palace guards and the royal temple priests had been warned well in advance to retreat into their rooms that afternoon. The temple was therefore empty when Valor IV strode in, a bloodied bandage wrapped around his bulging middle. He was otherwise dressed in the finest silks and a golden crown perched on his head.

As he walked in, Valor passed a number of large paintings, each depicting a scene from the many Rowan tales of the gods. Seith, Eldarwen and Ailish plotting their rebellious scheme against the other deities, Pentar gesturing angrily at Vantric and M'endar, Melanthios and Zareth talking to the dead, Nivix and Daare sharing a passionate moment. The Emperor of Humanity strode past the paintings with barely a second glance though, there was only one he was looking for. He halted in front of the largest artwork of the temple and fell to his knees with his hands clasped. He gazed up at up at the painting of Roe and Aen standing together, holding the white flower and dragon banner of the Empire between them and each with an impossibly large crown on their head. In the top lefthand corner Petal could be seen riding Grix.

"Lords..." he breathed, "My deepest thanks for saving me from the rebellious guards, why you let the Fellowship exist to rebel against your divinely mandated order I don't know but I trust in your judgement. I have already dealt with those assassins but what else should I do?"

With grim satisfaction he recalled the screams of the surviving guards as he had them sent off to the torture chambers, and their families brought in as an extra incentive to talk if the first round of interrogations were not fruitful. All would eventually meet a painful death as was just but first they would reveal their secrets.

"What would you do Lords, if the other gods were rebelling against your divine royalty?" he asked aloud. Of course, the painting remained as static as ever. "You crushed the dark trio who threatened your rule a millenia ago, I suppose I must do the same. I swear I will root out every dissident in these lands in your name, however long it takes."

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