Mythopoeia: RP of gods and nations (game thread, closed)

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The Old gods are gone, they have been for some time now even and the world has continued without them. Some say they are dead or lost forever, while others say that they will return someday to bring a new age of magic to the world. Neither is quite right, a new age is now dawning but one of new gods arisen in the wake of the old god's departure. A new age heralding great change for the mortal nations of the world, and for the newly arisen gods who are just now emerging into it.

Cyth'raul, Central Expanse - 15/15 AP

Something stirred.

Or rather, whispers rallied together, driven by the belief of mortals; the least powerful, yet most powerful of beings. The whispers spiralled and spun round and around. They asked themselves one question:

"Who are we?"

First came the first consonant, then the other letters. It was not a choice of whimsy, the voices fell upon the mortal sounds and choose the ones that just felt right. Nothing more, nothing less.

Of course, the whispers knew what they were. That was innate.

However, there was no understanding. Without that understanding, the knowledge just sat there unused, until...

"Do it, you know you want to. Here, try this. YESSSS... That's it. See, wasn't that so hard? Shouldn't you always listen to me? Hahahaha and to think we had such a troubled relationship - you know, I'm only here to help. Liiiisten, listen, listen!"

The slivers of sound continued to process the knowledge and came to obtain comprehension. Through a repetition of that process, a form was forged. Born of men and mer alike, the form only reflected what the mortals thought The Whisper in the Dark should appear. It was a menacing form, but the deity decided to be... less than menacing in nature.

For now.

Even when Cyth'raul was but a construction of mortal minds, just an empty voice which begged them to perform deeds that clearly was the best option for them to take, there was always the hounding command of "LISTEN TO ME."

However, it was time for Cyth'raul to listen to the mortals this time, roles briefly reversed. Knowledge of factors must be given before guidance can be granted. The deity scanned the land it was in and tutted.

A smile spread across Cyth'raul's face, plenty of mortals that needed to be guided to the path appropriate for them.

A breath in and a breath out, newly formed vocal chords vibrated with, "Who will seek counsel? Answer, and with terms agreed, this one - Cyth'raul - shall grant it!"

An ear cocked around to listen for any replies.

Jashiki, river close to ocean. 15/15 AP

Water.. Rolling him around as he is washed along. Rocks.. Battering him as he bounces along the river floor. Debris.. Hitting his body and causing pain to blossom all along his body.

Then there's an explosion of silence, everything stops around him. Even he stops, no longer in the river he is floating in the center of.... Nothing.

Another explosion, sending him flying through the nothingness and he can feel everything changing. Starting in his core and moving out faster even than the flood had hit him he feels his body changing into something... Else.

Falling back into the river, tumbling about in the water this time everything is different. Inside him a shock wave building until it escapes from his body and himself and the water around him are blasted apart. Water flying in all directions as a dry spot is left in the middle of the river bed. Standing there now neither man nor beast but a new creation.

Looking down at his hand he can no longer remember his old name, the thing that had constrained and identified his human body. Looking up again he watch's the water rush towards him, neither scared or frightened at it he steps into it as it overtakes this body. Instead of being taken by the water he is taken with it, flowing along as it does and letting it carry him.

Who am I? I am... New. I am.. Jashiki.

Opening his eyes and looking into the water Jashiki raises up and out of it, stepping into the air above the water and watching it flow into the sea ahead of him. Feeling inside where water is and what kind it is, all around him, and what is in the water. Stepping back on top of the water he reach's down and scoops up a handful of water, holding it in his hand and freezing it solid before dropping it back into the rushing water below him.

Who will seek counsel? Answer, and with terms agreed, this one - Cyth'raul - shall grant it!

Jashiki's head raises quickly at this new sound, sounding like words spoken but no one close enough for how clean and easily heard they were. Turning in a slow circle where he is standing on the water he stays silent for now. Turning back to the ocean ahead of him and taking a step forward he is moved out into the middle of it quickly.

Stopping and letting himself sink into the water he can feel everything around him. The things living and dead in the water. The floor at the bottom and the air above, and in the distance islands and wood floating with purpose on the water. Looking in that direction Jashiki's new instincts know he need the worship of the sentient creatures living in this world to grow.

Run on for a long time. All she'd done was another theft. Although, one that admittedly had gone much worse than usual. It was an out of body experience, literally, standing next to your own body. She'd never been that great a thief, and even if she had been this result was not that surprising. Run on for a long time.

She fiddled with the knife she'd taken from her corpse, playing with it between her fingers. Then, tired of the sight, she transported herself somewhere else in space and time.

Sooner or later God'll cut you down. Qartoq came to on a cliffside by the sea, where she stood, the knife still moving between her fingers, and the wind stretching her dress out with every breeze. It had been some time since she'd died, though she wasn't sure of how long. She knew she'd wandered, uncertain of what she now was, but with a new sense of purpose. Qartoq had realized she'd gained some kind of powers, and she could sense when an individual was close to death. She put the blade of her old knife against her chest, and stabbed it deep inside herself. It had no effect, no pain, nothing. It nestled itself inside her body, and she let it be. Sooner or later God'll cut you down.

She did break off the hilt of the knife though, and threw it over the side of the cliff. Qartoq transported herself to a mountain range far away from where she'd been, and stopped at the foot of the mountain. She didn't think anyone lived nearby, but couldn't tell for sure, nor did she care that much. For the first time Qartoq channeled her power to create something; a building. In particular, one that would serve as a gateway, a meeting place and a home.

She envisioned it in her head. A dark and stony mansion, gothic if that word had been, cold, dreary and dead in the design. If only on the outside, and because she'd not populated it yet. Black lights, torches, casting an ominous light on everything but lighting it up nonetheless. Blood red carpets and drapes. Qartoq thought she heard a voice, someone like herself, calling out. "Assist me, and I'll assist thee?" She said, questioningly, kind of doubting if it had been there or not.

Cyth'raul, Near Qartoq - 14/15 AP

A lonesome voice was the only reply so far:

"Assist me, and I'll assist thee?"

It was not only a question Cyth'raul had asked but a declared of purpose. Eager to fulfil said purpose, the being drifted along the trail of the voice. The findings were thus: someone who was the same type of existence as the Pactforger - who had yet to forge any pacts... This would be the first. Cyth'raul saw that a mansion was being raised up, from what was rising up from the ground, it could be seen that the design had an aura of the dark about it. Yet it was somewhat rich.

Cyth'raul twirled a hand and bowed to the other being, "Thou terms hath been named, the first Pact shalt be famed."

The Pactforger proper added energies to the emerging structure, ensuring that the mansion would be filled, ever guiding the dead...

...And paupers - little more than criminals - into the structure. A homing beacon for such sorts.

Cyth'raul grinned, 'Let the rich be filled with the poor!'

Grand Ajivha: Palace of the Vazin

'....in short they do not present a great threat. However, I recommend you dispatch a small force to deal with them so our traders can continue unmolested'

With that the Captain of the Guard finished his request. A small band of raiders had been hassling one of Ajivha's trade routes, though nothing of great value had been lost the locals were being to grow worried particularly, those with investments on the line.

'Yes yes. Make it so'.

Vazin Andha; Architect of the City, Guardian of its Gates replied with a burning disinterest. Frankly he was getting bored, fifty years of endless requests began to ware thin over time. With a tired sigh he gazed around his court; the sea of hands raised to speak did nothing to soothe his aches. The issue with giving everyone a voice was that everyone wanted to say something.

All the interesting requests had come and gone; a scholar had asked for something or other to aid his research into ores, the Chief of Intelligence had wanted authorisation of a few new agents. All small matters unsuited to the Vazin but at least they provided some entertainment, nothing was left but the waves and waves of councillors trying to gain a pittance of power.

'Very well; Councillor Udina, I believe you have an issue with the state of our cabbage tax.'

The newly appointed councillor rose from his cushion, eager for a first chance to speak at court. A chance subsequently ruined by the disembodied voice that all heard and none could ignore.

Who will seek counsel? Answer, and with terms agreed, this one - Cyth'raul - shall grant it!

An uncommon hush fell upon the halls of the palace; upon the entirety of Ajivha-Tahna. Academics began to take notes, merchants and spies began to wonder the possibilities. A people unfamiliar with the divine had just had their first direct contact.

Councillor Udina sank slowly down, realising discussing cabbage would be highly inappropriate at this point. All eyes turned to the Vazin. Immediately, almost naturally, Andha spoke; voice calm and prepared.

'Fetch me our finest scholars, as well as any sages or mystics you can find. The rest of you, return to your business and maintain the peace, the people will no doubt be in panic.'

With the order given all in the palace swiftly rose to their feet and set out on the task. There was no panic or chaos in the halls, the Vazin had given them a Job.

Gangari, The Mountainous Wilderness outside Sammah Ajivha-Tahna - 15/15 AP

Gangari awoke from his long slumber in a daze, around him was the cave he had fashioned into a home for himself.
He shifted his legs and stood upon his stone floor. Cold. Always cold.
He walked to his small reflecting pool, filled with cool clear water.
He began to splash water from it onto his face to focus himself.
As he did this he began to feel his mind stretching out into the world.
A pain began to forced its way in and images violently filled his sight.

He panicked as he began to lose control of his body, he felt his mind unravel and his consciousness shatter.
But he did not die, after a second of unconsciousness his mind reformed.
He didn't truly understand but he came to the realization that he was something different now.
Was this how the old ones saw the world, was he one of them now? Was he finally judged worthy to continue their work?

He saw the world rush through his mind, he saw his cave, his body disintegrating, the entrance sealing...

He saw the lands to the east, a city of many, wanting of more...

The plains of Sammah Ajivha-Tahna

Gangari touched the ground in the plains and formed a body, his body, near a farm.

"Who will seek counsel? Answer, and with terms agreed, this one - Cyth'raul - shall grant it!"
Which was soon followed by "Assist me, and I'll assist thee?"

He heard the voices echo through his mind as it attached itself to the creature of flesh and bone he had formed.
He was briefly curious, perhaps others were becoming like him.
He didn't have anything to offer or ask for though, so he didn't act upon the offers sent to him.

He resolved upon a plan and walked up to the farmhouse and knocked upon its door.
He waited for a response, and as the door opened he began to speak to the man who opened it.
He offered to teach the man how to increase his crop yield, and all he asked for was a place to rest over night.
The man agreed, and he began to teach the man and his sons how to work the land, how to distribute the water more efficiently. He did so in terms they could understand with perfect clarity, in ways they would remember easily.

When he was satisfied with his work, he moved on and started again, going from farm to farm, teaching the methods to them.

Lysei, Isle of Tian, 15/15 AP

The city of Doragas on the isle of Tian was busy. This port city was one of the central hubs and ships were perpetually loading and unloading property from food, to weapons, to people. The air was salty as the people moving about and singing working tunes. Ropes were hoisted, and the people seemed content. With everything going on, it's not surprising that few noticed a flame the size of a candle floating about and observing. It seemed a bit shy and hid behind crates, accidentally setting one ablaze before flying away.

So many...creatures. Perhaps I should appear as one?

WIth that, the flame hovered away and turned into one of them. A human, with a boyish appearance and smirk. He went into the town square and yelled out "Everyone! Watch this!" But nobody was paying attention to the imp, so he looked around and kicked some dirt. "Hmph. Fine." He shrugged as he walked away and tried to find others to bother.

A ways down, there was a man fishing on a pier, he moved very little and stared out into the sea. The boy waltzed up and poked him. "Hey, whatcha doing old man?"

The sea farer ignored the boy, staying stoic. The boy did not take kindly to this and said "Hey, I asked you a question. But if you don't wanna answer it, I got another. What is it I can do around here?"

The old man turned around and sighed. "Boy, if you don't mind. I am trying to fish and-" The man stopped as he noticed that the boy was half on fire, having not noticed, the boy was simply looking into the water. Without a word, the old man got up and touched the boy's hair, which felt unnatural, almost like stone. It was then that things began to click. The old man sat down and said without looking to the boy. "I think I know what you are. Yes, it would make sense I suppose." The old man reeled in his line and set the rod down. "You want to know what you can do? Tell ya what, go to the slums." The old man pointed towards the city, implying that was the direction, and continued. "There, I think you will learn a bit more about the world."

The boy cocked his head and shrugged. "Alright." He then began aging into a younger, more fit man. He spoke in a more mature voice "I will see what this world is like, and I think I will bring...joy to it. Yes, that seems appropriate."

The man flew off into the sky and looked into the crowd of people. What would be incomprehensible noise to a man, was crystal clear to this god. He stayed largely out of sight and simply listened. Most conversations were of little importance, just jargon he could hardly understand. However, one person caught the man's eye. He was walking with severe importance, and the flame god managed to reach into his head and see a small child in distress. Seeing a chance to help out, he followed for a while.

After navigating many twists and turns, the god reached his destination. A ramshackle shack that was boarded up in every possible opening. Only small holes were open, too small for anyone to see into, but the god reached his hand out and sucked himself into the hole to get a better look.

Blood. Blood was everywhere, two dogs were eating the corpse of a small child, and the man he had followed smiled wickedly at the sight. Carefully stepping to avoid getting any on himself, the man reached out and upon a few hooks, took a cured piece of meat out and began eating it while sitting on a stool.

The god was without words. What was even happening. The girl who he had seen in the man's head was clearly there...but she wasn't. He couldn't feel her thoughts, couldn't see her beauty. It was...sad? What even was sadness? He couldn't simply stand there, he had to know more. In a flash, the god turned into a human once more and said "What...have you done?"

Everything was still, the dogs seemed confused, as did the man who simply sat there speechless. He looked around and then suddenly snapped back into reality. He almost reflexively yelled out to his dogs to attack whoever had invaded his house, and they complied. The dogs bit at the god, but he was hard as a rock and they could not tackle him. Still, the god felt pained at this and kicked at the creatures, his attack ripping them in half. He turned to the man and asked again. "What did you do? Why is she dead? I could see her, but she isn't here, what did you do? Why? What did you do?"

The man dropped his meat and squeaked out "She...she saw too much, we were disposing of bodies and she saw...we couldn't let her live. She was just a slave, come on. I have money, do you want money? What do you want from me?"

The god flared up and yelled out "Just a slave? Just a slave? She was beautiful and you say she was just a slave? He grabbed the man by the neck and threw him to the ground. Fury in his eyes the god kicked the man with a bit more control, sending him flying into the wall. The man looked up and said. "Okay, okay, I give up, just take me in already, that's what you came to do right? Some crony hired by the guards or something?"

"Take you in?" The god pondered and reached into the mind of the man again to extract what he was talking about. He saw the prison system, and the eventual outcome. This man was important, of a high class, the court wouldn't even take a second look at the case before letting him go. This...was not justice. The god picked up the man again and said "You want to just get away with this? No punishment, just kill an innocent and escape?"

The man screamed out in a panic and yelled "Who even are you? She was just a slave, a thief, a bandit! Lysei class! Come on, just let me go!"

The god snarled and said "Who am I? I guess I am her, Lysei." And with that he enveloped the man in fire, his screams soon squelched by the crackling of flesh, and the fire quickly caught to the shack, and enveloped Lysei. He had drawn a lot of information from the man as he died, and was able to make out most of what humanity was. He had a new purpose now, he would help out the lower classes by destroying those who would harm them. The god picked a new, more suitable look for his purpose and from the flames, forged a set of armor. He shed his skin and became one with it. He would find out who was in charge of this nation, and they would soon speak.

The Ray-Das, in the new city of Lot-Vos:

The bells rung in the habour, the first building and area to be set up after the wall rose from the ground. The fleet was moored in the sea around the new home of the Ray-Das, on a constant watch for anyone travelling by sea. Many forms, both halfling and animal rushed between the new city, the ringing of hammers and the chewing of saws echoing throughout the new city. Ber-Sam, the Queen of these people turned from the chaos as she stood in the large watch tower that formed the current command station. Perched on the tower was a massive ballista, dragged from the ships and placed on the roof.

Ber-Sam looked from face to report to letter in a rush of actions that truly bore her mind down. Her claws itched for combat, but recently the fleet had been stopped and landed, fearing the failure that may befall them now their god disappeared. Trank-Mosta had granted her this gift, of bear strength, but he didn't exist anymore. The last time they raided a city, no walls collapsed, no animals rushed from the forest into the city. No fire lit up the sky in celebration. After it happened twice, the Ray-Das became concerned and feared what might happen to them if another god sent his revengeful eyes on them.

First up on her mind was the mines. The reports had come in from the small town settled slightly further into the forest, taken from some primitive human settlement. They had found the iron and steel that they had seen before, but never had the time to develop their own. Ber-Sam's eyes lit up at this, brought out of her stupor. "Everyone, shut ye goddamn muzzles for a second! They've found it! The iron and steel that makes up your prized honour swords! I need an entire regiment of Ray-Das sent to the mines now, ands send soldiers as well. We'd like our brand new prize to not fall into another's hands! Truly, the spirit of Trank-Mosta smiles upon us today!"

A genuine cheer went up from the rushing command station and soon even more people were pouring in as they quickly grabbed any and all tools they could, shoved them into the hands of the finest workers they could fine and began the march to the town.

As the Ray-Das marched out, Ber-Sam let go a roar from the top of the tower, echoing into the forest below. More cheers and shouts answered and the Ray-Das picked up their pace. As she brought herself back down from the top, another letter was shoved into her hands, this time a map. It showed the location of those Sammah Ajihva-Tahna people with the crazy names and massive cities. Ber-Sam nodded and begun preparations.

Soon, a force of 8 people strode out from the city, made up of two diplomats, the leader of the Elites and five Elites. All of them could turn, with the exception of the diplomats. They began the long trek to the home of the Sammah Ajihva-Tahna, with the message of an alliance and trade of the new weapons the Ray-Das had discovered. The Ray-Das were going to try and do something they hadn't tried in a long time.

Make a friend.

Book of Aurora, Chapter 2, Verses 14 to 15

And thus after the slaying of Turok, when the people did land upon the shores of Verde, they saw the boundless fruits of the virgin soil before them, where not a sign of foot or claw lay. And Father Matthias did say to them, "Upon this land thou shalt build a nation upon which the sun never sets, where injustice dare not show it's face and where all men are brothers. This people will be the most blessed among all the nations and thou shalt call her Aurora...

Seven hundred years later...

Prince Maximus, Nova Verde, Isle of Maia

"Surrender, or die!"

The seven year old boy stood with his wooden sword drawn before the great statue of Father Matthias, over 30 feet tall and carved out of a huge slab of obsidian bought from the faraway land of Sammah Ajivha-Tahna centuries ago. The founder as always looked down sternly at the unruly child, in one hand holding an open book and the other turned outwards, as if offered to the mortal below in greeting. Maximus waved his sword wildly and was preparing to make a swipe at the statue's legs when a shadow appeared appeared behind him, before he could make any move he was caught up in the giant assailant's grasp.

"Uncle Octy!" he squealed as the large man threw him playfully up in the air and caught him, tickling him as he did so.

"How's my favourite nephew today?" Octavius grinned.

"What about Kaius, he's your nephew too," Maximus pointed out.

"You better not tell him then," Octavius winked and then putting his nephew down, led him out of the royal family's private chamber to the great hall. Tables upon tables were overflowing with food in celebration of the auspicious day, all varieties of fish, red meat and stuffed birds piled on top of each other by frantic-looking slaves. Jellied tentacles of giant squid jostled for space with curried dolphin fins and in the centre of the hall lay the prize of the feast: an entire roasted whale stuffed with rare sea foods and creatures caught in faraway lands.

All of the eleven Princely Families were present. Aside from Maximus' own House of Verde, and Octavius' House of Turin, in various places around the hall sat the Houses of Malin, Omn, Calva, Rus, Fade, Toro, Cenepa, Canio and Bon. At first glance their arrangement looked somewhat haphazard but in reality the closer to the main table they sat, the more important they were considered. Maximus remembered his private tutor Ronin telling him this last time Kaius celebrated a birthday. This time it was a particularly important birthday though, his elder brother's eighteenth. This was the day the Emperor would finally no longer be seen as a minor in Auroran society and take control of his own affairs, no longer would he need a Prince Regent.

Maximus and Octavius sat themselves down at the largest table, standing at the far end of the hall, each on either side of the throne. This had been arranged months in advance, of course. Suddenly trumpets blasted from either side and all of the guests rose at once to their feet. Maximus glanced around and hurriedly stood up too. A solitary voice called out from somewhere out of view.

"I present to you, His Imperial Majesty Kaius III, by Grace of the Gods, Emperor of Aurora, King of Kings, Light of the World and Son of Heaven."

In through the front doors stepped his brother the Emperor, adorned in a great red and gold robe that sparkled like a jewel, accompanied by a handful of his favourite slaves and his three wives. He walked regally up to the golden throne seated at the largest table and sat down, giving Maximus a quick nod before regaining his regal composure. The crowd was so silent Maximus was sure he'd be able to hear a pin drop on the other side of the hall. The Emperor cleared his throat and then spoke.

"We have an important announcement to make."

The Raptor States, Silver Claw, Hall of Raptors

"The assembly will now begin!" A Krakar yelled out as the elders assumed their seats. The assembly hall is large and spacious especially vertically with a good thirty to fifty feet between the floor and the roof alone. From the roof hang the banners of the four most powerful families in all of the Raptor States: the maroon claw on black of the Kraai, the gold sparrow on red of the Oscens, the green wings on blue of the Strix and finally the stark white of the Aquila which Aerya sat herself under. The lesser families sat themselves behind the major ones which usually indicated who their allegiances lay with. The four major families held seats at the center of the hall with lesser families fanning out behind them but instead of tables, the lesser families held seats on stone benches that ascended until it met the end of the wall. At the very back even a lowly family could see and hear the major families talk. Four separate exits cut in the middle of the benches with guards posted on them at all times.

"First matter of business is concerning our food consumption." Aerya spoke out. She had grown used to speaking out first as was Aquila tradition and respected by the other elders of the families although given recent events, the tension between the families have been a bit rigid. "By next spring, I fear that we will all starve at the rate we've been consuming. I've already cancelled my family's plans for feasts and parties so I advise you all do the same."

Nods of approval ran through the assembly but mostly from her own benches.

"And what proof do you have of us starving by spring, Councillor? Why should I dial back on my treats to the people where you have deprived yours?" Gora of the Oscens asked. A stout Krakar but adorned in colorful cloths and gold that made it difficult for him to fly. Aerya was surprised that Gora even knew the meaning of depravity. Aerya was about to speak out until another Krakar took the words right out of her mouth and from the Kraai family surpsingly.

"Have you seen the granaries recently? Or do you have to buy your vision as well? We lack the food and space to sustain our growing population. I'm sending my grandson, Khyber, east with a few scouts to look for any land that may give us a new settlement. And before you panic, I'll be sending my own people to settle east if that is the case. Its a shame we can't eat money." Farko Kraai spoke out. A venerable Krakar with an eye for honor but another eye for contempt of all the other families but Aerya knew guilt when she saw it and when she looked to him, she could still see his sad eyes that she saw the day her brother died.

And hopefully that boy stays there as well... Aerya thought. She couldn't stand being in the same room as him let alone look at him. She tried to be courteous and kind but even then the boy brings back unwanted emotions. Emotions that would hinder her unless he moved far away.

"I approve of this. Thank you, Farko. In any case you do find suitable land, I'll send my people out as well. Will others as well?" She called out and the families nodded back in kind. Even the ever skeptical Gora nodded when the approval seemed universal. Finally, some progress. With some momentum, Aerya went back to the task she intended to finish in the first place. "Settling new lands require surplus food of which we don't have enough of. As I said before, we must stockpile our food if we wish for us to prosper. Gora, this investment of food is all I ask of your family since you control most of the farms in the valley. Have them stockpile enough food for the new settlement at least."

"So be it and with good graces, I seek to send a diplomat in place of yours. I know you plan to send a diplomat to the other nations but I propose something else. I propose sending a diplomat to the Deep tribes." Cries of disapproval were heard but most were silenced by outright surprise. Aerya was less surprised. She knew Gora for far too long to be surprised by him anymore. He was a scheming man in league with spies and assassins.

"And what do you offer a nation that has everything?" Aerya asked for the others although she had a sneaking suspicion of what his answer was.

"They don't have everything, Councillor." Gora boasted before pointing to his eyes. "They don't have these."

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Silver Claw, The Strix estate

The cypress trees crept closer and closer each day, Cawles perceived as gazed towards the trees right outside her family's walls. A robin chirped from one of the branches and she located the bird right away. It was always odd for her to look at another avian species without thinking about her own. As she read in one of her books, the "simple" birds that dwell in this land are distant relatives of the Krakaris but distant is an understatement. Why had they be given the ability of flight and the ability to think? Where had they come from as well? Did the Old Gods think it was funny to give a bird the ability to think like a human or perhaps some sort of natural process decided them? There were the other nations as well that had more outlandish sorts of people. The Deep tribes of the Luug yielded stony giants, the mysterious Yish'Tai are no more alien to humans than they are. More people ran through her mind but even the word people sounded strange to her.

"Are we people or are we birds?" Cawles suddenly blurted out. Her tutor smiled before laughing. The laughter reeked of contempt. "I'm serious."

"And I'm serious about teaching you about our people's legacy now can you please listen." Her tutor got up and draped the window to cover it. "Gazing can do terrible things to the mind."

"I'm only thinking. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do as matriarch?" Cawles questioned. "Aren't I supposed to think for my generation?"

"Even worse, Cawles. You have to act for them as well." The tutor retorted. He returned back to his book before Cawles said something once more making him roll his eyes.

"But how am I to act if I don't think? All actions must be determined somehow before it even comes to be an action. I can't act without thinking of acting and if I need to act I at least need to think about it."

"I think that you should focus before-"

"Who will seek counsel? Answer, and with terms agreed, this one - Cyth'raul - shall grant it!"

The voice ran through the estate and after it came silence. Cawles was speechless along with her tutor. The voice was real and it was as if the speaker was in the room but there were no one else but them. After a few moments the questions began to fly but not from Cawles but from the soldiers and servants outside.

"Everyone must have heard that... even people in the assembly, right?" The tutor asked. For the first time, Cawles was silent to his question. She was thinking in her head but now about this voice, this apparent voice of counsel. This voice finally gave her some proof she was looking for and some answers to the world around her.

The Gods... it must be them.

Jashiki, Ocean. 13/15 AP

Floating in the ocean and still just feeling what is moving in and on the water Jashiki turns towards the islands as he feels several wooden things floating on it. Looking in that direction he moves the hundreds of miles instantly to appear below it, looking up at the slightly bowed hull of a ship moving through the water he stays below it out of sight for now as it sails past above him.

Staying where he is in the water for a few more seconds as it sails past Jashiki makes up his mind. Pushing himself up out of the water and into the air he lands on the railing on the back of the ship as its sailing. Looking down at the crew as he stands there.

Not taking into account how he looks, a very tall lizard humanoid with clawed hands and feet. A long muzzle with razor sharp teeth under yellow slitted eyes, a long dexterous tail coming from the small of his back down almost 6 feet in length. Wearing not much more than a cloth kilt being held on with a bit of rope. His skin green and yellow in stripes all across him on scales.

Lifting his hand and coughing into it he is still unable to completely control all his powers, the cough making wind blast out in all directions hard enough to make some of the closer people stumble away from him a step and the water around the ship being pushed away slightly and causing small waves to spread out before fading.

The whole ship worth of people turning towards him and several of them reaching for whatever weapon they can reach while others look at him wide eyed and raising their hands into sign's of the old gods as they all stare at him. Looking over them and smiling slightly Jashiki steps down onto the deck and looks more closely at the people closest to him.

"Mmmmm I'm looking for the ships carpenter, or anyone who has any experience and knowledge building or repairing ships."

Looking at the crew and sighing softly when no one moves Jashiki closes his eyes for a few minutes and steps forward slowly after he opens them again. Stepping past the first few people he stops in front of someone with a leather belt and looking down at him Jashiki nods firmly.

"Yes, you will do well. You have some experience with the building of ships and will understand what i am trying to tell you."

Raising his arm Jashiki sets a clawed finger against this mans forehead and tries to push the knowledge of a new kind of ship into his mind. Taking a deep breath and focusing.

Highcrag, the Tribal Seats

Budraal, Supreme of the Deep Tribes, walked towards his throne in the council chamber. Around him were the chieftains, already in their place, standing in front of the pedestals they would sit upon when the deliberations began. Soon, the Supreme took his place, resting his back-crag in the crater blasted into the back of his seat. "Let those that lead the Tribe sit..." Budraal spoke the Luug tongue, booming his voice not only from his throat, but from deep within his body. It came upon those nearby as something to be felt rather than heard.

The Chieftains then sat on their pedestals, having to bear the weight of their crags until after the meeting was over. Once everyone was seated, Budraal was about to speak again, until a new voice vibrated through the chamber.

"Who will seek counsel? Answer, and with terms agreed, this one - Cyth'raul - shall grant it!"

A moment of pause gripped the council, each looking at one another in confusion. "Who speaks, who is 'Cyth'raul'?" The Chieftain of the Bronze Tribe broke the silence. However, the silence returned afterward, like the others were waiting for a response.

"Apparently no one..." This time, Jugaan, Chieftain of the Gold Tribe spoke. "...an echo perhaps? The men outside might be speaking too loudly." With a wave of her hand, Jugaan sent her lone guard, a large Luug, even by their standards, out to "quiet" the people outside the chamber. "Let us focus on matters more relevant, perhaps starting with why this meeting was called? My Supreme, I ask, with all due respect, to know why we were summoned."

Budraal nodded, but seemed to still be distracted by the voice. "I...I believe it is time for a reclamation. Jugaan, Chieftains of the Tribes, I have summoned you so that we may coordinate our efforts to expand our peoples."

Grumbling came from all the Chieftains, too many at once for messages to be understood, they were silenced with one mighty growl from Budraal, but it was Jugaan who spoke first. "My Supreme, we all know that the Luug are destined to spread across the world, as our ancestors had in eons past. However, our people are too few to expand equally. If we do as you comman-"

"The Iron and Bronze Tribes will construct and live in the new settlements..." Budraal spoke with a lazy grumble as he left Jugaan almost open-mouthed. "Scouts have sensed Iron ore in the mountains to the north, and the Bronze Tribe has the men to secure a settlement to the south of the foothills."

"They why are we even here?!" Jugaan smashed the ground underfoot, making all the Tribal guards stand on edge. Seeing this, and mindful that her guard had not yet returned, Jugaan backed down from her aggressive pose. "Supreme, you've said you called us here to 'coordinate a reclamation', but you've apparently already decided the Tribes next move. Why did yu not just simply call the Iron and Bronze Chieftains here to discuss plans?"

"Because I wanted to see if the other Tribes could offer reason why they should instead be given the chance to expand." Budraal rolled his eyes, but resumed a stern face towards Jugaan to kept her in her place. "Plus, I wanted to use the knowledge of all the Tribes so that we might collectively advance. There are other nations beyond these mountains, nations of strange peoples that move across vast bodies of water and stride upon the clouds. We cannot afford to left in our caves, unable to match these people with our strength."

"I might be able to help with that..." The Chieftain of the Moss Tribe spoke next, scratching at the fungus that grew from the cracks between the stones that grew on his shoulders. "I've been studying techniques to advance our ability to grow food within our caves, to protect them from being pillage by the wildlife that lives in the forests. My Supreme, if you would allow me to extend my research, I believe I can cultivate a kind of moss that will flourish in the damp systems in the southern tunnels."

"Very well, you may." Budraal gave out a loud growl so that anyone with their feet on the ground would know the meeting was about to be adjourned. "Then, my Chieftains, let us depart. However, stay within Highcrag for the time being, there may be developments soon that require the council's attention." With that, the mighty Luug stepped off their collective thrones and pedestals and went their separate ways.

Shiva, Northern Marshland

A blur of black and orange sped alongside the small river, followed swiftly by Shiva, bow in hand. With each sharp twist and turn the jungle cat scrambled further and further away, until it had made it some distance into a small grove. Growling softly, it began to turn and search for it's pursuer, eyes darting to and fro. Spotting her distinctly pale skin, it let loose a roar; cut off prematurely as her arrow sunk into it's neck.

Breathing heavy and bleeding profusely, it slumped to the ground, to wail out it's last breaths. Sprinting out of the foliage, Shiva quickly grabbed another arrow and slammed it into the creatures skull; putting it out of it's misery. Pulling free her arrows, she sat down atop the conquered beast and breathed. It wasn't long before the others caught up; four fellow hunters, similarly armed, walked disheartened towards her. It was a large kill, and would have been a rather thrilling story to tell; to say nothing of the decorative tattoo it would earn.

One of them called out, holding his hand out to pull her up. She looked tired.

"Not bad. Nearly chased him out of the Marsh."

Shiva smiled and sprung to her feet unassisted. Peering out North, she could just make out the green, sloping hills in the distance, that marked the end of their territory. Normally she wouldn't care where the borders lay; since her allotment in the council, however, her considerations had to take a somewhat different nature. The Deep Tribes to the North were a supposedly warlike people, and were quite able to take a short trip south, into her homeland.

Looking from her prey to the hunters, a broad grin spread on her face. As the victor, she was free to enjoy the afternoon celebrating; someone else could carry the message.

"Tunroq, could you please send a message to Aret requesting permission to reinforce this area with patrols from the nearby villages? I also want you to inquire about the possibility of some sort of...fortification..."

The word seemed strange in her mouth, especially considering that, in all of Rok'lo Sha, there was little to no defensive structures save the marsh itself. But the triumvirate of herself, Alcrik and Briln had decided that it was time to move their nation forward, as best they could. Of course, outward confession of this to the council would certainly lead to controversy, so for now, they were to play it safe.

"The rest of you. Help me haul this back to the village; lunch is on me!"

Alcrik, Aret

Alcrik sat happily on the floor of his son Joray's house, enjoying a hot bowl of marshweed and snakemeat. It was not often he was able to make breakfast with his family; his political and educational commitments often ended up dragging him away at rather unsuitable times. Joray's children continued to run amok; play fighting and knocking over what little furniture they had.

"Nira! Fira! Stop that!"

Joray's deep voice commanded the respect of his fellow hunters, yet apparently not his own children. Alcrik just chuckled and finished his bowl, before placing it on his head. Standing up, he made a scary face, and began to follow the little ones around.

"I am the Mushroom Spirit! You will obey your father!"

Screaming and laughing, the twins quickly sat down behind their father, resigned to eating quietly and giggling. Returning the bowl to his son, he smiled. His family was his true passion, and Alcrik relished in the time he had been given to spend with them.

"Joray, I was wondering if -"

Alcrik was interrupted by a voice, an ethereal, disembodied voice, that seemed to blow into the house with the breeze. While his family was somewhat preoccupied, the Elder's brow furrowed deeply. Not one to ignore a voice seemingly from the wild, he quickly excused himself and walked outside. His son's house bordered on the edge of the capitol; the land dipped away, revealing the small, family farm, that joined the low fog that covered the marshlands. While the rural, agrarian lifestyle was certainly comfortable, Alcrik had always envisioned a somewhat more open nation for his people; a prosperous and peaceful trading nation; as comfortable speaking with others as they were amongst themselves. Perhaps this disembodied voice could lend assistance.

Trailing his hands amongst the tall marshweeds in the farm, Alcrik spoke softly, though tried to direct his voice to the source of the voice.

"Cyth'raul, my name is Alcrik Tonsay, of Rok'lo Sha. I seek to open trade routes out of the marsh. What do you wish in return?"

Briln, Aret

The messenger from Shiva arrived outside the council stones, managing to catch Briln returning from a small meeting regarding safeguards for their food provision in the event of a large flood. His eyes widened as the imposing hunter quickly closed on him, confidently cornering him near a tree.

"Briln! Just the man I was looking for. Shiva has ordered patrols further North, but also wants someone to look into fortifications to propose to the council. Think you can manage that? I mean, there's not really anyone else..."

Briln gave a weak smile as his mind began to click over. On the one hand, he would have to bring the proposal to the council and confront his fear of both rejection and public speaking. On the other, here was a chance to perhaps develop a technological innovation; perhaps the stepping stone to a different frame of mind for his nation, if it was to be a success. Taking a leap of faith, he put on a bold face and pushed his hair out of his face.

"Err, sure. I can do that. I'll propose it at Aret's council tomorrow, and I'm sure it will work its way up to the Nation Council at some point. Before you go, we're also looking for someone to lead a scouting mission further south, to see if there's suitable land for more villages. It would be risky, we need someone brave..."

The hunter grinned and tussled Brilns hair, before loudly advocating himself for the job.

"Excellent. They're hanging around the Eastern farms; the Council wants it done as soon as possible!"

The hunter set bounding off in search of the recruitment party, eager to make a name for himself after his failed hunt. Patting his clothes down, Briln hastened to his workshop, passing by his family house without stopping to eat. His workshop was a cylindrical building with thin branches for roof instead of thatching. Briln himself installed windows to let whatever light was available in, and it also had a small firepit in the center, for both light and warmth. The only furniture was a long table, yet strewn amongst the room were piles of wood, rope, sharp stones and tools, and all manner of marsh paraphenalia.

Preparing his workspace, he began to work on the design for Rok'lo Sha's first fortification. The idea of a camouflaged, offensive tower had been in his mind for sometime now, though he had always envisioned it to allow hunters of a less than capable aptitude to shoot prey as the drifted past; with enough room inside for food and rest, it would have perhaps led to fixed hunting grounds. Yet now he envisioned a larger one, with room for several archers and supplies, using fire-signals to communicate. Tools in hand, he set to work....

Lysei, in Emperor Kaius' Bedroom. 14/15 AP

"And you won't be requiring my services tonight your Majesty?"

"Not this evening Wen, need to save some of it for the old wives eh?" Kaius replied with a smirk, "Tell Fabia I'll be waiting for her,"

The slave nodded and left, closing the door behind him. The young Emperor sighed and lay down on his bed, wondering about how the speech he had planned at his birthday feast tomorrow would go down. He couldn't wait to see the look on Uncle Octavius' face.

As Kaius was laying on his bed, a voice came sharply to his left. It was gruff and serious in tone. "A woman, Theora Miller, is murdered yesterday and left to be eaten by dogs. The murderer, Vincent Chandler, gets away with it for being of nobility, while she is a slave. Why do you let this exist in your kingdom Kaius?"

The voice was hidden in the room. No figures were abound, the source was a mystery.

"Matthias' blood!" the Emperor exclaimed and jumped off his bed immediately, reaching for a red-hot poker lying in the nearby fireplace. "Who are you? I demand to know how you got past my guards!

Lysei formed as his true self, clad in dark armor with flames abound. He had the door jammed and reached an ethereal hand for Kaius' shirt while asking again "Why do you let the nobility kill the lower classes? Do you consider the slaves worthless?"

"Wha..?" Kaius' trembled as Lysei revealed himself, "You are... no man," he stuttered, "In the Father's name, are you a god or a demon?"

"What does it matter?" Lysei queried as he gazed into the Emperor's eyes. "When Justice has been sacrificed for the Nobility, then everyone is a demon."

"All... all must know their place in our society," Kaius replied indignantly to the intruder's charge, "The highest noble depends on the lowest slave, and vice versa. One cannot survive without the other!"

"Then why do you let the Nobility trounce on us?" Lysei growled. "We work and we toil and our reward is the sole of your boots...or worse."

With that, Kaius' world began to fade around him. The walls turned to liquid and were consumed in a fire. He found himself in a small shack with a rotten smell. Around him, blood everywhere. The centerpiece to this macabre showing was a yellow dress, with a decapitated head somehow floating at the top.

Lysei's voice surrounded him again and said. "While you may not have personally caused this. It is your laws and actions that allow it to happen. Every day I can hear the screams of men and women who suffer this injustice."

"You are much mistaken, Sir Demon," the Emperor replied, wrinkling his nose at the terrible smell around him, "It is true that Aurora is not a perfect nation, nowhere is, but the lives of even the lowest are improved by it's existence. If only every citizen followed the laws propagated from my divine throne, then no... murders... like this would ever happen, yes?"

Lysei flared up again and grabbed Kaius' face. "It is exactly your laws that allowed this to happen!" Lysei pushed Kaius to the ground and said. "She witnessed a brutal crime committed by your Lord Chandler. For this, she was rewarded with death. Chandler's crime would never have been punished if I did not exist."

Lysei turned around. "Your laws protect your peers at the expense of the lower classes. I was hoping you would be able to see this. Because if you can't..." Lysei got somber. "I will have to find someone who can."

The Emperor looked up at Lysei, his face clenched in anger, "Your accusations are baseless, there is no law which allows the wilful killing of even a mere slave without good reason. I am imbued with the living spirit of the Father himself and no demon who will not even tell me his name will tempt me to think otherwise!"

Lysei laughed. "This god you speak of. I have not detected his presence. I will search for him, but I have a feeling he either never existed, or is dead. Listen to me, mortal, I am your god now." The god turned around and with his gauntlet, reached into Kaius' brain and began to alter it. "Perhaps you can not see yet, but I will grant you my gift, of vision."

With that, Kaius' head became filled with what Lysei had spent the past week seeing. Corruption abound, and the punishment of death Lysei brought. At least a dozen nobles who ran brothels, who murdered, who cheated, who harmed others to gain power, were burned in front of Kaius' eyes.

"You will hear reports of what you have witnessed in a few days, I imagine." Lysei said. "More of these will come, it is my blessing unto you. From now on, you shall see."

The Emperor let out a cry and fell onto the ground, his bedroom reappearing before him but at the same time he could still see the terrible images in his mind, burning again and again. With the demonic figure gone, he crawled back into bed and shook, muttering to himself quietly.

"Tomorrow... by the Father, tomorrow!"

Cyth'raul, Near Qartoq - 14/15 AP

Sooner or later more replies flooded in, a pity Cyth'raul was somewhat occupied with fulfilling the terms of the first Pact. But, the god could always whisper while working right?

First come first serve was a cruel rule, but the deity didn't have enough power nor the inclination to bend time around on itself.

The Pactforger took a deep breath as sounds were absorbed from the air into the mind, sound which formed words...

"Who speaks, who is 'Cyth'raul'?"

First there was puzzlement, then there was a whispered answer, "I am that which is. I am that who forges Pacts... a lender of power, a giver of guidance. I know no other way to describe myself. I could help you, fulfil the ambitions of you and your nation. All I ask is for you to give me something in return. That is what I am. Reject me, accept me, do what you will."

"Cyth'raul, my name is Alcrik Tonsay, of Rok'lo Sha. I seek to open trade routes out of the marsh. What do you wish in return?"

Cyth'raul smiled, finally a mortal who understood without question. The Whisper In The Dark's answer was given in the same manner, "Faith, confidence, trust, loyalty; things expected out of any friend. That is all I desire. Accept those terms and I have the feeling that a great friendship will be forged between divine and mortal."

That was all, the others would soon know of the god soon enough.

Prince Maximus, Nova Verde, Isle of Maia

"We have an important announcement to make."

The crowd in the hall became deathly silent, Maximus looked up his elder brother expectantly, wondering what he had to say.

"Today is the beginning of a new age for our holy Empire," the Emperor began, "For over two decades we have barely expanded, content to sit in our present borders and trade with our allies. We have forgotten the sacred mission entrusted to us by the Father, that all shores will one day be Auroran shores. That changes today. Preparations are underway to set up two new colonies on the coast to our south, and that effort will be lead by my own dear Uncle, His Majesty High Prince Octavius. As there is no longer a need for a Prince Regent, that position has from now been abolished and Octavius will instead become our new Lord of the Admiralty, to set off for the southern lands next week."

Maximus turned to his uncle, the man's face remained passive but the boy thought he saw a momentary twitch of anger. Bemused, he turned back to Kaius.

"Furthermore, it has recently come to my attention that corruption is rampant in the noble class, including no doubt some present in this room today. To counter this the Parliment of Noblemen has from immediate effect been dismissed, all powers shall return to the Crown. I say this to everyone present, if you are among the guilty change your ways or the divine wrath of the Father will visit himself upon you soon enough, mark my words."

A pause of silence followed this announcement and then tepid applause, most of the noblemen didn't seem particularly enthused but they likely realised keeping their heads depended on pretending them were.

"Finally, now seems the perfect time to announce further good news: my wife Prima recently discovered she is with child, with a birth expected in just over seven months" This was greeted with more enthusiastic applause, Kaius raised his hand regally and commanded, "Now, let us eat!"

Qartoq and Cyth'raul

The manor rose steadily from the ground, stone and wood and fabric weaving itself together from the surroundings into the structure the goddess had envisioned. Cyth'raul's power guided it along, picking up the pieces where her own power failed, and adding the god's own adjustments. Once finished it stood proud on the mountainside, dark and mysterious with a strange draw to it. Many were frightened of it, speaking in hushed tones about it, how it was a place for the dead, but the adventurous and greedy began to flock to it, some looking for shelter or a place to hide, others desiring whatever riches they thought lay within.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gangari

At first the god's advice seemed to work, and the fields began to flourish, but it was only for a brief moment. The crops began to wither and die, the fields falling barren and the crop ruined. Many people would go hungry as a result of the god's advice, though fortunately few besides the farmer had heeded it.

(As a result of the failure Sammah Ajivha-Tahna loses one food)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jashiki

The man staggered back, startled by the knowledge filling his head, but he calmed down quickly and ordered his men to work. Time passed but the first of the new ships was constructed as quickly as could be managed, a costly but worthwhile endeavor for the man. Word of this new ship spread quickly, carried to some places by the vessel itself.

(It will cost one wealth to implement the improvement)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lysei

The blessing took root quickly and painfully, visions of fire and retribution would come to visit the emperor with some frequency and little warning. It was not a pleasant blessing to bear, but it was what Lysei gave to the man.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sammah Ajivha-Tahna

The scholars research progressed well, though not without difficulty, and new casts and molds were experimented with. This new ore clearly showed potential it would simply take more coaxing for that potential to be fully revealed. Other scholars meanwhile concerned themselves with Cyth'raul's announcement, and came to a singular agreement; This Cyth'raul must be a god, for only the old gods of the world had ever spoken to it in such a manner, and if it was a god it would hear when it was called, though where it had come from none could say. The gods had gone after all, so where had this one come from?

The agent dispatched to Aurora met with fierce storms on his voyage, and never reached the islands. His ship returned to port, fleeing the storm and he returned to Grand Ajihva empty handed. The other agent met with much greater success though, his lengthy trek bringing him to Ray-Das without incident. The Ray-Das were happy for any help in building their nation, and he soon managed to work himself into a position to act as he might be called to.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ray-Das

The relics the Ray-Das had claimed some time ago, weapons and other implements, aided them greatly in their learning to work the metal. With the aid of the dispatched troops the ore soon began to flow freely from the mine, forges were stoked and smiths worked the metal with new techniques into new shapes. Swords and arrows, blades formerly of bronze were being quickly replaced with those of hard iron or steel.

The envoy of diplomats found its way to Grand Ajihva without incident, and found a place where they could stay and hopefully communicate the wishes of their people to those of Ajihva.

(implementing the new weapons cost 2 wealth)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Raptor States

Fierce storms rolled up from the sea and into the lands east of the States, driving back the flying Krakaris scouts. Even after its passing strong winds and steadily healing injuries from the ill fated encounter with the storm prevented them from completing their mission.

Though there was great reluctance among some of the families food was set aside, carefully stored away so that it might last longer, and stave off famine. (1 food stockpiled)

To the west was untouched by the storm, and the Krakaris diplomat flew swiftly to the mountain abode of the Deep tribes. It was not an easy land or people to find a place to stay and speak with but the diplomat was persistent and eventually successful.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Deep Tribes

The Iron tribe was ill prepared for its expedition to the north, not wishing to invest too heavily into such a risky venture they failed to bring enough supplies. Soon those that had been sent out found themselves returning, though slightly fewer in number, to their original home. The settlers in the south were better prepared though, carving their settlement from those of more scattered groups. In the weeks that followed the town was swiftly erected, even basic walls for what might someday grow into a city were thrown up.

The Moss tribes studies went well, the new techniques and moss grew quickly and proved an excellent crop, all that remained was for the chieftain to present his progress to the other tribes, and to hopefully spread the discovery across the tribes.

(Map will be edited to show the new settlement, the improved moss will cost 2 wealth to implement. 1 territory gained, 2 wealth and 1 food spent)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rok'lo Sha

Shiva's efforts progressed quickly and without issue, the new barricades and fortifications were strange to them but would certainly prove an impediment to any invader. Away from her Briln's efforts at developing a new defensive structure was well rewarded, the first tower proved sturdy and well concealed, and a rudimentary signalling system was quickly developed. All that remained was to construct these new fortifications alongside the simpler ones already built.

The scouts in the southern marshes found a number of clearings that would prove excellent grounds for a settlement, full of plentiful food and few dangerous beasts.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Aurora

What preparations had been made proved no match for the fearsome storm that moved across their attempted settlements, and soon even the proud Aurorans were driven back, though fortunately they withdrew in time to prevent losses. Fortunately while their efforts were repelled by the storm the Auroran diplomat managed to skirt around it, his ship having managed to leave before it struck. He made his way to Grand Ajihva and found a place, as the envoy from Ray-Das had, where he could attempt to act in his role as a diplomat.

As the new weapons flowed in, Wolf-Keal practiced with the bow. His arrow pierced through the old bronze armour but glanced off of the iron next to it. He handed his bow back and drew a sword, slashing at the armour. The iron was perfect and balanced, and the iron armour slid his blows to the left and right. He handed the whole kit back to the smiling black smith and as Wolf-Keal flashed his fangs, he thanked the smith, "You don't know how strong these weapons shall make us. I'd like to see any armour resist the Elite when this blade is cutting through their flesh."

He strode out of the smithy with a smile, watching as the iron quickly shipped it's way out of the mining town and towards the city of Lot-Vos. The Ray-Das would earn a great many victories with these items.

------------

It was a hot day as the caravan of diplomats rolled in to the land of the Sammah Ajivha-Tahna. After getting through the security and into the safety of the city, the diplomats requested a meeting with the council to discuss official matters, from one nation to another. They eagerly awaited the reply, as they had much to offer.

"An military alliance, a trade alliance, technology and riches. With our strength and your hide, nothing could stand in our way. You would be very, very wise to accept. Very. Wise."

-----------

As the new iron flooded back to the main city, Ber-Sam was bombarded with more requests to set up a mining town to begin excavating more land and more materials. After a while, she caved. It was true that whilst this new metal was amazing, they needed more space and more mines to truly gather the most power from it. She organised three teams to all go out to settle new land, one to the south and two to the west. She hoped they would return healthy and alive, or even better, send a messenger back with tales of the new towns. But for now, all she could do was organise the settler's with their pack animals, their new iron tools and lend them a rousing speech about new homes, new conquests and new spoils.

Qartoq, manor of the dead, somewhere in the mountains between the Deep Tribes and the Raptor States
12/15AP

"Gracious, I thank thee." Qartoq said to the other being, after her creation had risen from the ground itself. "Whenever need arise, call on me once. I am Qartoq." She continued, then left the other one standing where it was, and walked up to her manor. Her temple. She'd built it herself, but this made it more appropriate to serve as a revered place than if mortals had created it.

The goddess was the first to step through the large gates, and into the manor hallway. The ceiling was high above her, and difficult to even make out in the dim light of the black torches. She strode through the hallway, up the stairs to the next floor, and then the next, and so on until she got to the highest floor. With every step she'd taken inside the manor she had felt the torrent of something moving towards the manor. When she reached the highest floor she realized what it was, as they arrived at that time. The dead, ghosts, souls, stuck between one plane and another. Not quite there, but a lot more tangible in her temple than outside of it.

Qartoq waved them away for now, and continued through the rooms and hallways, until she reached a balcony she'd made as part of the manor. She could see far and wide from there, above the treetops. She put her hands on the railing of the balcony, smiled, and let the wind play with her hair as she prepared to speak for the first time to the world. Her predecessor must have made some kind of impression, she hoped, so she could just pick up the pieces and reassemble them.

"Death never left." Qartoq began. "The mantle was simply passed from one to another, and now I have assumed the responsibility of it. My name is Qartoq, and I am very real indeed. Anyone wishing to meet me or the dead may travel to my temple in these mountains."

She wasn't sure they had a name, or exactly where she'd built it. However, she could see signs of civilization when she looked from the balcony. Probably far away, but she had no mortal eyes. Qartoq stepped back, went back inside her manor and decided to spend her time in leisure, waiting for those alive to arrive so she could continue to pursue what she'd begun.

Some days later...

Shiva, Northern Marshes

Shiva watched proudly as the first set of rudimentary watchtowers were finished, pleased with both the brilliance of Briln and the Councils acceptance, albeit somewhat reluctantly. It was the first step to securing their nation against possible invaders, and the huntress planned to help guide her fellow citizens for the rest of the way. Munching happily on a Sweet Fruit, she circled the towers as the nations very first permanent archers tested their accuracy from within. Side-stepping quickly as a rogue arrow whistled past, she called out in a sarcastic tone.

"Yeah, that's a good idea. Shoot the Council's best hunter!"

A muffled apology quickly followed, and the arrows were deliberately volleyed in the opposite direction. Stamping the core of her fruit underfoot, her thoughts turned to possible incursion scenarios, and the effectiveness of their new fortifications. While arrows certainly were effective against prey and similarly unarmored foe, Shiva entertained the thought of an invasion from people with skin as thick as an alligator.

Not good...

Her foot still pressing down on the core, an idea sprung to mind. One that would round off their general defense and allow them to shift focus from military matters to economic and cultural development. Not her forte, to be sure, but she would rather complete her job as fast as she could and return to hunting.

After hastily composing a message in illegible handwriting, she thrust in the arms of a messenger to send back to Aret post-haste. Returning to the watchtowers with a team of hunters, she called out to the occupants inside, holding up a large section of wood to catch arrows in.

"Alright! We'll be drilling this until the sun goes down. Try not to kill us, if you can!"

As the afternoon played out, Shiva and her team repeatedly ran towards the tower, trying to outmaneuver and infiltrate the prototype fortification. While they were slow to start, the archers soon began to work efficiently to repel them from all levels of the tower, the sound of arrow on wood muffled by the densely packed marshland.

Alcrik, Aret

Earlier

Centering himself in the farm, Alcrik sat cross-legged amongst the tall plants, invisible to all save the insects that crawled underneath. The air was heavy here; scented with both the smoke from nearby fires and pollen from the numerous flora that flourished nearby. Pondering the mysterious voice, Alcrik took a gamble, and extended a friendly gesture towards Cyth'Raul.

"I accept! I shall try to convince the council to include you in our ceremonies at the Marshlight Festivities. I am sure a being of your...inclination, will appreciate a few followers here and there. In return, I hope you can relay the message to any interested parties, that Rok'lo Sha is looking to open it's borders."

Unsure whether he was heard, he looked around for a moment, before bowing in the manner usually reserved for Forest-Deities, and wandering back towards Aret, council matters bubbling in his mind.

Now

"Why should we settle anywhere else? Our people are happy, prosperous. Safe. It just seems...unnecessary."

The young athlete, from those representing Aret, spoke out against Alcrik. The National Council had been seated for the better part of the day, and it was only now that Alcrik had chosen to speak up. An experienced diplomat, he had chosen well; most were too tired to form opposition, eager to get home and eat. This upstart, however...

"Can you provide any good reason we should expand?"

Alcrik took a deep breath and smiled, beaming a friendly and open visage, before stepping up into the circle of stone to reply. The Athlete had a pronounced ego, but was not without skill; he did seem to earnestly want the best for the nation, and his skepticism was at least reassuring.

"The scout team organized by my associate has reported that the Southern Marshes are both prosperous and safe. Not only will they provide more food, more space and more land, they also bring us closer to the waters of the ocean. This will allow us to both better defend ourselves if need be, or communicate and trade with the outsiders."

The athlete was just ready to speak before Alcrik quickly regained momentum, grinning broadly.

"Your questions are appreciated, Councilman. Now when it is accepted, people will know you rigorously investigated it. Instead of being known as someone who placed limits upon our wonderful nation, you shall be remembered as a propagator of growth and prosperity. I must congratulate you!"

Alcrik bowed towards the now somewhat confused Athlete, who slowly bowed back before humbly agreeing. With his consent, the Council soon followed, and a settling party was soon sent south; equipped with the relevant people and equipment to found a large village and farms. Before the Council was over, Alcrik made a quick plea for additional rituals, disguised as a concluding statement.

"Thank you all for coming, and I'll see you at the festival, starting tomorrow! I believe a few extra rituals will be added in honor of a previously unheard of spirit who has contacted several of our citizens. If there's no opposition, we are free to go!"

As the Council left, Alcrik patted his rumbling stomach, quite pleased with himself. Happy to reward his hard work with an extra serving of deer, he ducked into his home for a quick meal, before preparing to set up the colourful decorations used for Marshlight Festivities.

Briln, Aret

Briln smiled in earnest as he read Shiva's message, before furrowing his brow as he tried to decipher her somewhat unhelpful diagram. Waving the messenger away, he strolled towards his home as he mused over her request. Unlike the watchtowers, he had no preliminary designs to work upon, and instead had to start from scratch. Which would mean a heaped burning of scented flowers and a short fast to engage his mind. Waiting by his doorstep was his boisterous friend Ajak, who was nervously twisting his heels in the ground.

"Briln! How'd it go?! Did they work?"

Ajak had been one of the leading builders of the watchtower; handy with tools and ever resourceful, he was perhaps the brawn of the engineering duo. Returning from the frontiers to take part in the festival, he had awaited the reception of his hard work, hoping desperately it would win him the honors that he lost in the races.

Briln looked up and gave him a grin, before letting him inside. His parents were away, and only the smouldering logs of an earlier fire lit up the room.

"You're a talented man, Ajak. They've commissioned them for the whole nation. You might need to start a tradesmen Guild at this rate."

Briln heaped a pile of dried wood onto the fire, and sat down on a small, cut log. Throwing a handful of purple flowers onto the fire, he breathed deep, as he drew lines and circles in the mud at his feet.

"Wow, really!? You know, I was thinking of enlisting a few of my friends to help me build them. We could be like the outsiders are; permanent building makers! Builderers...buildingeers...I'll think of a better name."

Somewhat ignoring his friend, Briln stared deep into the fire, his stomach rumbling. His process of thoughts quickened as the musky smell of the flowers began to cling to everything in the home. Shiva wanted something that could stop Alligators, as their thick, layered skin tended to ward off all but the most powerful, accurate hunters.

Thick, heavy, powerful, stealthy, fast if they need to be. Not much that can stop things like that.

But they have to travel along the ground, unlike the hunters that can move through the trees.

The ground...

Briln stood up quickly and left, yelling over his shoulder.

"You're in charge of supervising the new constructions, have to run, no time."

As he burst into his workshop, he quickly flipped his table and started digging.

Jashiki, Lot-Vos, 13/15 AP

Looking at the man stumble back Jashiki stays where he is for several more seconds then looks at the rest of them and opens his mouth to say.
"My name is Jashiki, i am the god of the waters."

Stepping back he moves from on board to under the water in less than a second, watching the ship above him sail away and staying where he is for now as he considers what to do.

These new powers and the information i have is amazing. But, i think they can grow.

Sinking deeper into the waters until he is on the ocean bottom Jashiki stands on the ocean floor and closes his eyes. Something having caught his attention before but he had become distracted with giving the specifics for those new ships. Reaching out with the senses he now has he can feel the dozens of wooden ships all around what feels like a pier. Opening his eyes and looking in that direction he moves through the water between where he is and just a few hundred yards past the line of ships in a few seconds.

Only a few yards beneath the surface he feels out and takes in the position of the ships, then into the ships themselves he very lightly touch's the beings sailing the boats. Surprised when he can feel some thing almost like what he feels inside himself or what was infused in the words from before. A few of them having a seed inside themselves, from something old and powerful but no longer here going by how faded the imprints were. Moving to the top of the water Jashiki stands on the water as he uses his eyes to look at the ship in front of him.

Watching them for several long hours he then sinks back into the water and moves below them and the other ships surrounding what appears to be a pier and a small city beyond. From what he had heard both on the air from several of the ships and off of the surface minds of them also he knew the leader of these people was in the tallest building and what she generally looked like. Watching the city again for several hours it went from dusk to night, the stars and moon coming out and making their slow way across the sky.

Moving out of the water and appearing on top of the tallest building he could spot while he had been watching the city Jashiki kept himself invisible. Not wanting to be seen yet as he moved about until he got to where he wanted to be. Looking down as he stands at the top of the building he moves inside and floats at the ceiling as he looks around. Finding it is a bedroom currently occupied he stays still, observing for the next few minutes who is in it. Recognizing her from the descriptions he had gotten from others minds Jashiki drops to the floor with a thud that makes several things in the room shake. Turning visible as he does and looking down at the woman.

"Ber-Sam."

Ber-Sam, Lot-Vos

She was leafing through a few of the reports of the iron mines. Fresh ore vein, miner crushed, new longsword shipment to the Elites, picks made of iro- THUD!

Ber-Sam leapt up from her table, skin growing fur and stretching in the space of a second as she formed into a giant bear, slamming the table against the wall and crushing the chair. Her fur bristled and she utter a deep, low growl that bounced around the chamber. Her claws clicked and clacked as she advanced towards the intruder, her maw stretching to form words, stringing together a sentence overflowing with roars and growls as she choked it out,

"Who are you, and how did you get in?"

Gangari, The plains of Sammah Ajivha-Tahna - 12/15 AP

Gangari watched as his work failed. This confused and disheartened him deeply, perhaps he wasn't strong enough yet, perhaps he was too out of touch with mortals. He spent time surveying the damage, before he tried again he would need to make reparations.

He went from farm to farm, apologizing to those affected by what he wrought upon them, expressing that he didn't understand what had happened. He conjured a meal for each of them to help ease their bad luck and told them his name and that he was watching out for them.

As he left the last farm, he noticed that a child was following him. He approached the child and asked why he was watching him. The child said that he was curious, as he realized that the man couldn't have been carrying the food with him across distances and that he must have stolen it or was magic. Gangari smiled at the curious child and materialized a bronze puzzle cube etched with runes in his hand. He handed it to the child and ruffled his hair. He transferred some of his divine energy into the child with his touch, attempting to bless him, to make his mind more keen, make him understand the world easier and with more clarity, making him more open to the world's lessons. He walked away as the child shook his head in confusion before hurrying off to his home with the gift.

Gangari traveled the route again, walking up to houses, saying hello and transferring energy to the children he encountered, giving them the same blessings he gave to the first. He did this until he felt his job was done.

He eventually layed down in the center of an unused field of tall grasses and fell asleep as he felt tired from the experience of blessing humans.

Jashiki, Lot-Vos, 13/15 AP

Watching the woman go from reading some papers to turning into what looks like a bear within seconds. Watching her advance on him Jashiki look her over as she forces the mouth not meant for human speech to say something human.
Who are you, and how did you get in?

"I am Jashiki, the god of the waters. I came here to talk to the leader of the people with so many ships."

Pulling water from the air he makes it float in the air around him slowly, moving in a circle with him at the center. Watching Ber-Sam intently as she stays in her animal shape. Water coming from the air and a thick layer of ice freezing over the door, several inches thick and hard. Keeping everyone else out as he talk to Ber-Sam, not wanting any distractions right now as he decided what to do with these people.

"I am Jashiki, the god of the waters. I came here to talk to the leader of the people with so many ships."

Her claws stopped and the final click rang around the room as she halted for a few seconds, comprehending what happened as water suddenly formed and shaped around the door, freezing it shut. She released a low growl as this happened, crouching low. She started a sentence, then suddenly turned back into halfling form to begin talking,

"What do you mean, god? The gods are fallen and dead. Trank-Mosta guides us no more, he has left us to sail the sea without his striking claw... I am indeed the leader of the people. And they will tear your filthy magic hide to pieces unless you can tell me what you want."

As she finished, she dropped back into a crouched, claws growing and hair sprouting as she reformed the giant bear form. Her golden eyes glinted as she eyed this so called god.

Jashiki, Lot-Vos, 13/15 AP

Keeping an eye on Ber-Sam when she pauses and takes in the water freezing over the door way Jashiki waits for her to turn back so they can start discussing what they could do for each other. Waiting for the next few seconds he nods when she turns back into her smaller form. But was very surprised at her tone and words that come next.

What do you mean, god? The gods are fallen and dead. Trank-Mosta guides us no more, he has left us to sail the sea without his striking claw... I am indeed the leader of the people. And they will tear your filthy magic hide to pieces unless you can tell me what you want.

Blinking in surprise and looking down at himself Jashiki then looks at Ber-Sam again and shakes his head.
"Magic hide it probably is, but I'm also sure it is very clean. I don't know where the old gods went or why, but I am here and I intend to stay. I am indeed a god, and like all gods i need mortals. I came here so we could talk about what we could do for each other. I have already given plans for faster ships that can sail closer to the wind to some mortals, but i came here because you all have more ships on the water than anyone else."

Standing up straighter and looking at Ber-Sam in the eyes Jashiki pulls more water from the air and it starts spinning around him, 2 inch thick rings of water spinning around him quickly. One of them freezing and moving ice spinning around as another stays water, both of them having a diameter of 5 feet with Jashiki in the center of them. Slitted yellow and black eyes meeting Ber-Sam's golden ones.

"Do I need to show you that I am a god, Ber-Sam Queen of Ray-Das?"

"I came here so we could talk about what we could do for each other. I have already given plans for faster ships that can sail closer to the wind to some mortals, but I came here because you all have more ships on the water than anyone else."

Ber-Sam stifled a roar in her throat, turning it into a low rumble.

"Who did he give that boat to? Do we have a true rival?"

"Do I need to show you that I am a god, Ber-Sam Queen of Ray-Das?"

Ber-Sam watched as the ice and water rose and spun around the god before her. She begun her advance again, walking right up to the water-spinner and raising to her hind legs. She batted at the water before her, before letting a roar loose that shook the windows. She lifted her wet paw back and looked at the god once more.

"I will listen. What do you have to offer me? My people have always believed in Trank-Mosta, who gave us the gift of nature. Our fleets have always dominated the seas. What do you have, apart from parlour tricks?"

Jashiki, Lot-Vos, 13/15 AP

Watching Ber-Sam stepping closer to swipe at the water and ice spinning around himself Jashiki didn't move as she both swiped and roared. Watching her closely as well as keeping tabs on what is happening outside the door he had iced over.

I will listen. What do you have to offer me? My people have always believed in Trank-Mosta, who gave us the gift of nature. Our fleets have always dominated the seas. What do you have, apart from parlour tricks?

Shaking his head Jashiki let the water and ice spinning around him evaporate quickly back into the air.
"Parlor tricks? You call what I do parlor tricks? I am a god!"
Raising his hand he lifts Ber-Sam and pushes her backwards, holding her in the air for a few long seconds before setting her back in the floor. Staring at her after setting her on the floor Jashiki turns to step to the window, looking at Ber-Sam again before looking outside. Over the city below and to the harbor below that and out to the dark ocean beyond.

"What would you have me do? Give you new boats so you may attack up rivers? Or show you where the best places to hunt in the ocean are? Create a new species and let them go to populate the world and its water ways?"

Turning to look at Ber-Sam again Jashiki shakes his head and rests one hand on the window sill softly.
"The god you have always believed in, Trank-Mosta, is no longer in this world. He gave you the gift of nature you say, a powerful and abundant gift indeed. But in this time where your god has disappeared I am coming forward. Because out of all the thinking races in the world, your's is the one closest to me."

Waving his hand out at the harbor and the many ships in it and beyond floating in the ocean.
"You are the ones who have taken to the water the most. So I have come to see these people and maybe show then more of it. Helping them so that they, in turn, may help me. You say your fleets have always dominated the oceans, and i believe that."

Keeping his eyes on Ber-Sam's Jashiki turns to face her full on, his body framed by the countless starts shining in the night sky.

"You are the ones who have taken to the water the most. So I have come to see these people and maybe show then more of it. Helping them so that they, in turn, may help me. You say your fleets have always dominated the oceans, and i believe that."

As she hit the floor again, Ber-Sam held a constant growl as she watched the god,

"Don't touch me... My people would most likely follow a god such as you, but they would follow me before any thing of the seas. First, show me a ship. A ship that would take rows of the ballistas that sit above us, to ram holes through the ships of our enemies. A ship that could out-run the enemy rowers and laugh as they tried to plug their holes.

Then I will tell my people of the arrival of a new god. A child of Trank-Mosta. But you would have to do something before they truly believe you are a god worthy of praise, you will have to bring down an enemy. Be it a wall, a weapon or a person. Maybe one of those weird bug people. We are looking to raid them anyway.

There are two ends to this. I hope you fulfil yours."

The Raptor States, Silver Claw, Hall of Raptors

"Thank you for joining me on such short notice." Aerya said to the assembly members. Only the elders of the Kraai, Oscens and Strix were present along with a few elders from varying houses but the meeting was small compared to their much larger ones. With the Kraai was Khyber, back from his scouting east but not without some bandages. She had heard the flight there was marred by storm. If Aerya was crueler she would have wished more harm on Khyber but such was not the proper etiquette of a member of the Aquila household and an elder as well. The families nodded and bowed their heads, returning the courtesy.

"It is a pleasure," Jaherys of the Strix household bowed gently. She was taller than most Krakaris but with a more noticeable hunch than the rest. No doubt that hunch came from ducking under door frames that every other Krakaris would have no trouble going under. "With so much going on, I was wondering when we were going to have the opportunity to discuss these current events."

"First and foremost, I'm sure we all heard the voices that speak along with what they entail." Aerya spoke out. "That must mean that the old Ways have vanished. We cannot ignore this."

"Agreed, Councillor." Jaherys said once more. "My family has been hard at work looking through the records and none have yielded any of our deities being called that name. The Old ones are gone and the new ones are here. Not only that but this one proposes guidance which is what we all might need. The times are changing."

"They've always been changing, Jaherys." Gora called out.

"Enough, Gora. Your diplomat might be yours but she represents all of us. I only hope she isn't as wily as you." Aerya said.

"Oh don't worry, she's much younger." Gora smirked before settling down.

"Anyway, we also received reports of a structure west of our farthest settlement. Most specifically in the mountains." Aerya dictated from memory. "That structure wasn't there months before and the people ask questions."

"And we'd best oblige them." Farko said. "I propose a scouting team to investigate. Have no worry, Aerya, they are among my best men." Khyber twitched at that statement.

"I agree but be careful. If we do not hear from them then assume the worst and what's one less structure in this world anyway?" Aerya sighed.

"That structure could be one of these new Gods!" Jaherys spoke out. "We must approach it with caution not with militaristic intentions. I must have one of my own among the scouting team then."

"And who might that be?" Aerya spoke out, looking at her with caution.

"My Heria's child. Cawles. She is the eldest of the new generation but not only that. She has the fire of discovery in her and often she craves knowledge as Gora may crave food so near endless." A few chuckles could be heard reverberating throughout the hall.

"Cawles... she is an interesting one. So be it but make it so she isn't the only Strix among a flock of Kraai." Aerya said amid the laughter and to Farko's slight chagrin. Jaherys nodded at the statement. "Oh, and another thing. Have your scholar look through the records or rather look for a better way to change our food situation. Even with the stockpiled food, I fear it is not enough and researching for a better crop yield with benefit all of us."

"A wise investment." Gora said in agreement.

"Yes, of course." Jaherys nodded. "We will work as soon as we can. Cawles will leave as soon as I can arrange it."

"Excellent," Aerya said before turning to Farko and Khyber. "I hope you are well Khyber, you wounds do not seem grievous."

"They aren't, Councillor." Khyber said, bowing so he didn't have to look her in the eye. "They are barely scratches. We were lucky to find shelter from the sudden storm or else I-"

"Then you can fly soon, yes?" Aerya said, unflinchingly although the sight of him made her stomach turn.

"Y-yes, of course." Khyber stuttered.

"The men he was with need time to rest. They're wounds weren't as severe as the storm. What do you need us to do?" Farko stepped in.

"With a storm raging to the east, I want Khyber and a few of your scouts to head south to find suitable lands to settle. Not only that but the closer we are the Aurorans the better. Do you agree?"

"Of course, Councillor." Farko said. He leaned to Khyber. "Round up some scouts and go as soon as you can."

Khyber nodded and bowed to the remaining elders before leaving through the doors. The opened loudly and closed just as loud.

"You need to let it go." Farko said before he himself left as well. The loud door rang again as the Kraai departed. As much as the talk left a bad taste in Aerya's mouth, she had to continue. Her family holds the power to command the others but she needed them as much as much she was needed to give some sort of semblance. But there isn't a moment were she considers if they obey her out of respect or obey her out of necessity. This time, Gora broke her though as he spoke up.

"And what of the diplomat?" Gora asked. "She got there without any trouble by the way, thanks for asking."

"What of her? She knows the agenda that we wish to have with the Deep Tribes."

"Ah yes, the old... 'We'll let you to the dirt while we have the skies'... not exactly the best agenda." Gora mocked. "Still its slightly straight forward which is something they might appreciate. I also told her to establish some sort of trade agreement while she's talking with them if she built enough momentum but I'm sure they will appreciate the mutual acknowledgement thingy you added in."

"They are our neighbors and they are growing. We can't ignore them. We have to acknowledge them as we do the Aurorans and the Ajivams along with giving them the same opportunities for friendship as we have extended them. Suggesting otherwise would-"

"Yes, yes I get it!" Gora snapped as he rubbed his fingers on his sleepy eyes. "An open hand is better than a close fist, etcetera, etcetera . Just hope that they aren't as stubborn as we make them out to be. While we're at it we might as well talk to the halflings in the south. They've been looking at us like a wolf looks at a turkey. I'm sure they'll want to know everything about us too!"

"We will deal with them when the time comes." Aerya assured although to who, she didn't quite know.

"Or we can deal with them now before they cross the water." Gora suggested. "Once they're landed we will have a hard time repelling such a threat. Hiring mercenaries might help but that's all that stands between them and us."

"Do you believe us to be incompetent?" Aerya, temper began to show but just a little. One of the requirements to when it came to be a judge was to hide your emotions and be indifferent. Anger was dangerous.

"Its not incompetence when the Ray-Das hold excellent marksmen. A thousand Kraai would do no good if their wings were riddled with arrows. All I am proposing is to act for the long term and hold a card for contingencies. I'm not saying they will attack us but I'm not saying they won't either. Knowledge is everything and we can't know for sure what is going on without a bird to tell us. I have many birds in my disposal."

"At the states' disposal." Aerya begrudgingly admitted. She didn't like what Gora had to say or what he was suggesting but in his words rang some truth. "Having one of your birds caught would forever bury any hope to delegate with them."

"You don't have to make the decision now but when you do, all you have to do is ask." Gora offered.

"This meeting is adjourned." Aerya said aloud, bringing the meeting to an end. "And Gora, there is something I'd like to discuss with you."

Jashiki, Lot-Vos, 11/15 AP

First, show me a ship. A ship that would take rows of the ballistas that sit above us, to ram holes through the ships of our enemies. A ship that could out-run the enemy rowers and laugh as they tried to plug their holes.

Then I will tell my people of the arrival of a new god. A child of Trank-Mosta. But you would have to do something before they truly believe you are a god worthy of praise, you will have to bring down an enemy. Be it a wall, a weapon or a person. Maybe one of those weird bug people. We are looking to raid them anyway.

There are two ends to this. I hope you fulfill yours.

Looking at Ber-Sam as she gives him her requirements Jashiki stays still and silent till she is done. Staying silent for another minute as he thinks it over he opens his mouth at the end of that minute and answers her.
"Agreed, but you are asking me for two different things. The ship i will give you, it will be up to you to build and sail them. As for showing that i am a god worth worshiping, i will consider what to do and do it. After you have told your people about me and who gave you all these new ships."

Stepping forward Jashiki raises one hand and sets a few claws on Ber-Sam's forehead. Pushing the plans for ships into her so she understands how to build it and how to add the ballista into it how it would best be used.

Grand Ajivha: Palace of the Vazin

The caravan of diplomats found themselves in the foyer of the Vazin's palace. The hall was simple for the palace of a ruler, the richest prises on display were all works of stone and metal, held in small alcoves around the room. In time they were taken to the council chamber itself; many cushions surrounded a single chair on which sat the Vazin himself. Around him on sat councillors, those who had a stake in diplomacy and trade. After a pause the Vazin spoke.

'Welcome to my city, I hope everything has been to your liking. Please, sit, and tell me what you wish to discus'

The diplomats and Elites sat themselves at the cushions after a moment of confusion. The leading Elite spoke up first, in true fashion, beginning an old greeting by switching in and out of his panther form.

'I, Pnth-Ulrak present to you the chosen of Ber-Sam, our Queen and leader,' he began, and then turned into his animal to finish the greeting, 'Glory to the fleet that sees us safe!'

The Elite receded onto his cousin, remaining in his panther form as the diplomat began, continuing the conversation.

'We come bearing the gift of peace, the gift of alliance and the gift of trade. Ber-Sam extends her greetings and hopes that you will accept the proposal, least you meet the same fate many to the west may soon suffer.

We have discovered something that will truly amaze any of your soldiers or military minded here,' the diplomat continued, lifting a small bar of iron from his coat, 'This metal is known as iron, light, strong and tough. There is another metal back home, known as steel, which is made from this, but I could not bring any, as we had to leave with haste.We would be happy to provide you with the knowledge of how to mine, smelt and use these great metals to form new weapons, tools or buildings. We would also be happy to provide you with a navy, to rule the seas and provide you with safe and secure trade.

Our fighting forces would be glad to help you and fight along side you, just as long as we can take a cut of the spoils. In return for these great gifts, we request that you lend your forces to our side, we have a constant and stable trade, and that you help us reinforce our fledging cities. These gifts and requests are simple and very much in your favour, but our dear Queen Ber-Sam hopes you accept. Otherwise, news of your refusal will be returned... quickly. Please, you may ask any questions.'

As he finished, one of the Elite turned into a hawk, perching on his cushion, fixing the various council members with his dead-eye. Their transformations had surprised the less informed of the councillors, one even made a hasty retreat from the chamber. What followed was a few moments of deliberation, hushed tones and quite discussion. A councillor to the Vazin's left seemed very interested in the iron.

Finally it was time for the Vazin's response. His voice was calm, however there was an air on finality and firmness to it.

'You ask for too much too fast. We are indeed eager to deal with your people but a full alliance is a rather steep request at our first meeting. Simply put; we do not wish for any deals of a militant nature, at this point in time we have no need to throw our loyalty to you.

That ore you hold; it seems you've accomplished what our scholars could not, there is something we are indeed interested in. The same can be said of your trade agreement. Here is my offer: our nations enter a trade pact, the specifics of which we will work out later. In return for the ore you hold we will aid you in protection and construction of you cities; my architects and builders will be at your service, as will a small force or warriors trained in urban combat. These men will remain yours until we see a suitable end to the deal. We also ask for some experienced shipwrights, the amount of which is up to your discretion.

In time we may come to a more substantial agreement, perhaps even an alliance. Until then this is what we offer.'

The diplomat waited with a small deal of anger after the Vazin disregarded a militant alliance, but quickly reformed and smiled as the he finished.

'I understand, but remember that the militant alliance is for both our strength and your safety. I'm glad you understand that all the other offers are great and wise. I am happy to accept on the behalf of our Queen, but on one condition. By the next summer festival, we will enter an alliance. The Ray-Das really do not need assistance in battle, for we are fierce warriors, but it helps to know that the nation sharing these plains with us will not break trade and attack. Especially if some force were to invade here, at least it could be assured we would fight as one and not trying to pick over the other's corpse,"

As for the builders and shipwrights, we would be happy for the trade. Our new, glorious home of Lot-Vos requires some skilled builders and I can tell that you require a better Navy if you are to ever secure trade. Until the time you hold one of your own, the Ray-Das would be happy to help guard your trade and lands. For a small price, of course, but the increase in trade would be well worth it.'

The diplomat smiled and sat down, whispering into the ear of the comrade beside him, before nodding.

At this response the Vazin fixed the man with a cold stare.

'Do you have tortoises in your lands my friend? Fascinating creatures, slow and calm, ageless if you believe the stories. When the hawk tries to claim the tortoise as pray it does not fight back, it retreats into its shell, safe behind an impenetrable defence. Try as it may the hawk will never be able to break through to the tortoise. My people are like the tortoise, only we are not herbivores.

Do not command me child, there will be no time limit. Evidently your people are new to diplomacy and need to learn their way, threats have no place in these halls. You have given me an offer and I have given one in turn, a deal that is fair for all involved. Now comes the time to shake hands an finish on affable terms.'

The diplomats eyes lit up at the 'child' comment, he stood straight up, breathing deeply.

'We do indeed have tortoise. And since the dawn of our people, our arrows have found the gaps. However, we simply wish, Vazin, that we know our new friends will not turn on us at the first chance. For now, I will be happy to accept the trade and knowledge agreement. We will be back at a later month to discuss the alliance.'

He straightened up and bowed, and then stepping back to let the Elite finish.

'Ber-Sam will be pleased with this news, and we will be glad to work in any way would help our new friends," he began as he turned, 'Glory to the fleet that keeps us safe!'

The call was echoed by the other Elites and the diplomats as they sat back down, content with their deal.

'Kevlam Nasta Ajivha-Tahna' spoke the Vazin with a final nod of his head, after which the two parties shook hands. The Ray-Das refused to bow.

"Agreed, but you are asking me for two different things. The ship i will give you, it will be up to you to build and sail them. As for showing that i am a god worth worshiping, i will consider what to do and do it. After you have told your people about me and who gave you all these new ships."

"I can build the ship, my shi-"

The bear was cut off as the god Jashiki placed claws onto her forehead and she tensed as information entered her mind,

"As I was saying... I can produce the ship, as my shipwrights have the greatest experience in this world. I will leave it up for you as to how and when you wish to impress and take the minds of my people. I will make a declaration soon, on these walls. That might be a very nice time to convince them."

The bear turned back into halfling form, retreating a few steps,

"I need sleep. Tonight has certainly been... odd."

Highcrag-Den of the Supreme

Jugaan entered Budraal's den and was given pause by the mini-earthquake made by Budraal's outrage directed at the Chieftain of the Iron Tribe, who, either because of his pride or stupidity, was fighting back. "You come back to me with mewling complaints, but your expedition did worse than the Bronze Tribe! They have already started to carve out a pit beyond the foothills of the mountains! The first in ages! Yet you, charged with expanding further up land where we dwell for centuries could could only flee!"

"The rock was weak, crumbling upon itself when we clawed our way into it! Whatever progress was made was ruined when the cave maggots appeared and filled the tunnels! I was not going to sacrifice strong Luug on a fool's errand!"

"A fool's errand?" Jugaan stepped in a silenced the thunderous shouting with a strong stomp of her leg. Seeing her reason for being summoned, she moved to Budraal's side. "Is it a fool's errand to claim land that was once ours? To try and spread the Tribes across the world, as we had once done? You are the fool, Os'lan!"

The Chieftain of the Iron Tribe, Os'lan, looked as if he would tear Jugaan apart right there, but he was forced to recoil when Budraal made is clear he would do the same to Os'lan. "Be gone, Os'lan, go sulk in your mines, I wish to see no more of you."

With a growl that felt like the tremor before an earthquake, Os'lan bowed. "As my Supreme commands..." With that, he took his leave.

Budraal then turned to Jugaan, apparently tired of the shouting match with Os'lan, the Supreme was direct. "You have your chance to settle the northern mountains. There are veins you can use there, and you can sell the iron ore back to the Iron Tribe as whatever price you set."

"My forgers have been wanting to expand their talents to other metals..." A weary glance from Budraal nipped Jugaan's proposal in the bud. "...but I will do as you command, my Supreme." Willing to take what she got, Jugaan then bowed and left Budraal to himsef, though she made sure to travel in the opposite direction of Os'lan's loud departing thuds.

However, the Chieftain of the Gold Tribe was left with a dilemma, if what Os'lan said about his expedition to settle the northern mountains was true, then what hope did she have? She had been given a great opportunity to give her followers new lands to settle, and perhaps, in time, grow into a larger Tribe. She could not leave the chance of that up to a roll of the dice...it was then that she remembered the voice that came to her in the night. It was not long after the first meeting that a whisper came to her, right on the edge of hearing:

"I am that which is. I am that who forges Pacts... a lender of power, a giver of guidance. I know no other way to describe myself. I could help you, fulfill the ambitions of you and your nation. All I ask is for you to give me something in return. That is what I am. Reject me, accept me, do what you will."

Whether or not the others heard it, Jugaan did not know, but if the voice was a giver a guidance, than perhaps there was a chance she would've have to leave her plans up to chance. "Oh Cyth'raul..." Jugaan did not know how to start, how to speak to someone, or thing, that she knew next to nothing about. "...I wish to forge a pact. What is the cost of your guidance to settle the mountains to the north?"



Highcrag Depths

Meanwhile, the Chieftain of the Moss Tribe was traveling the wide tunnels of Highcrag, looking for those who would listen to his findings. Eventually, he came upon the Chieftains of the Clay and Stone Tribes, both of whom had lands that were perfect for the new moss to prosper in. In a short demonstration/tasting session, the Moss Chief hoped to show them both that this new plant was worth the effort to seed in their damps caves, so all Tribes might soon benefit from his development.



Highcrag-The Glittering Hall

The ambassador from the Raptor States found her entrance to be quite a hassle, but eventually she was escorted to a cave within the capital that was made for outsiders. Developed under the eyes of the Glass Shifters, the only group with any real knowledge of the other races, it was a rather pretty hall. The walls and ceiling were covered in crystals that had been grown from the cave itself, and in a select few places, holes to the surface were made, allowing light to come in and be scattered by the crystals. While most Luug thought it was a waste of a perfectly good tunnel (the Moss Tribe thought that it would be a better use to collect water and grow food, because of the holes), but the Supreme was swayed by Lew'pan's insistence that there had to be some place in the capital to accept guests.

Speaking of, from the opposite side of the hall, Lew'pan entered, his short legs balanced by his thick, tree-trunk arms. "Greetings, guest from the Raptor States!" Lew'paw spoke the best of the Common tongue he could, but the surrounding crystals rung in reply to the vibrations he sent across the hall. Once he reached the diplomat, Lew'pan bowed, bending his arms forward so his back could arch forward. "What brings you here?"

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